Aussie Antihero

Time for Ned Kelly to 
Have His Third Burial

When Australian outlaw Ned Kelly was living his brief and tormented life, 158 or 157 years ago, depending on who you ask, there was probably little doubt about how it all would end. His death by hanging, on three counts of murder, would have been the final act in such a short life of a hapless character.
Not for Kelly, though. His body went through quite a few adventures of its own, as it turns out. First, his bones were moved in 1929, and then exhumed 80 years later, when his DNA was identified. But his skull has been always missing until recently. Now, a self-described witch claims to have it.
By now, much of what we believe we know about this contemporary of American Jesse James, also young and outlawed, is subjected to skepticism for lack of consistent records. In fact, we may never know how much of it is even based on fact, such as the Robin Hood bit, or just pure myth.
But it makes for good copy. News about Kelly have been as hot now as they were during the 1960s, when the potential of iconic antiheroes for selling T-shirts built a few small fortunes. It helped it too that a 1970 movie based on his life, starring Mick Jagger, was a minor hit of the era.
As any middle-schooler can tell you, when the British Empire was deciding what to do with the vast extension of the land ‘down under,’ its most ‘brilliant’ idea was to send to the continental-sized new country a band of convicted criminals. Let loose in the inhospitable territory, those who didn’t die, thrived.
Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly was the son of a first generation Irish con sent by the British to rot way down below the equator, an ‘award’ offered to him and his comrades, as an alternative to death in the northern Continue reading

Quadruped News

Drugged Horses, Abandoned
Donkeys & the Homeless Goats

These days, it seems that bad news about horses, donkeys and goats gallop vary fast, while our sense of compassion towards them are still dragging its feet, not really interested in catching up. But finally we may be witnessing the last times when horses are drugged to race for our entertainment, or get caught in traffic, pulling chariots full of unaware tourists. Or simply are rounded up and shot in the big extensions of Western states, to cut down their numbers.
As for donkeys, the drought in Texas and Louisiana is leading farmers to dump them to their own devices. Which means, let them starve to death, lest not even waste our oversupply of bullets on them. Thank goodness, then, that China plans to annually buy some from Brazil, right? Not really. As for goats, you’d be stunned to learn they’re now integral part of U.S. cities’ growing homeless population.
But not all is doom and gloom and more doom for horses everywhere, specially of the dwindling wild kind. Thanks to a Wyoming couple‘s ‘ecosanctuary’ project, the feral descendants of those who were features of farms, Indian tribes and the U.S. Army only a hundred years ago, may be soon running again around here.
But before we jump in song and dance about that still potential but not quiet-reality-yet piece of good news, let’s make sure you get some more of the entire picture of what’s going on about them in this Continue reading

Wild Wild West

Butch Cassidy and
The Snake Oil King

A recent movie about cowboys and aliens, although far from evoking classic westerns by John Ford and Howard Hawks, still managed, somehow, to inspire a revival of sorts of public interest in the genre and historical period.
Or at least, that’s what one would be led to believe with the recent bombshell news concerning one of the most beloved and mythical real legends of the old west: Butch Cassidy.
A 1934 manuscript, written by a machinist who died in Spokane three years later, has helped to ignite a furor over the legacy and mysterious fate of the famous character.
The manuscript, “Bandit Invincible: the Story of Butch Cassidy,” was written by William T. Phillips, and claims that the bank robber portrayed by Paul Newman in an immensely popular movie about him and Continue reading

Penn State Bisontennial

Females Are Off the Pill
To Save Historical Herd

When bison from the Lehigh County’s heritage was introduced to Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, one hundred years ago, the animal was still associated to its iconic role in the conquest of the West and visceral connection to native American culture. By then, the 50-plus million population that early Europeans settlers had encountered in North America was already considerably reduced and by 1890, the species was on the verge of extinction. It took an Continue reading

He Shot the Sheriff

New Mexico Won’t
Pardon Billy the Kid

JUST IN: Facing a firestorm of controversy with the prospect of settling a 130-year case by pardoning Billy the Kid, departing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson backed down. The pressure from history buffs, including from descendants of Billy’s killer, Sheriff Pat Garrett, was way too much and, in the end, Richardson concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to justify a governor’s pardon just yet.
Legend has it that Billy killed anywhere from eight to 22 people before he was captured and shot in 1881 by Garrett. While in jail, he was offered a deal by then Governor Lew Wallace to go free in exchange for testifying in court. He kept his side of the bargain until the moment it became clear the state wouldn’t hold its end. Billy, then escaped and shot dead two law enforcement deputies, the crime that, once again, prevented a final reconciliation between his legendary status as a folk hero and a clean name in the court books.

Pat Garrett Family

Celebrates Decision

Almost 130 years after the Sheriff of Lincoln County killed The Kid, descendants of the iconic figures of the Old West are still battling to protect their legacies. Garrett’s family, along with those related to Sheriff William Brady, who was shot by the outlawed in 1878, invoke his reputation as a cop killer and a thief to fight any attempt to officially pardon him.
For those on The Kid’s side, there are historical documents showing that then Governor Lew Wallace promised him clemency in exchange Continue reading