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Lots of us have probably heard about Yale's infamous Skull and Bones Society. Many important people are said to have been members of Skull and Bones including several former U. S. Presidents. The society is supposed to have a bizarre collection of skulls used in strange rituals. Rumors have long circulated that Skull and Bones possess the skulls of Pancho Villa and Geronimo among others. On the 100th anniversary of his grandfather's death, Harlyn Geronimo, great-grandson of the famed Apache leader filed a federal lawsuit to recover the skull.

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Dan Carlin is a 41-year-old Los Angeles radio talk show host and self described "amateur historian" who offers fresh and well thought out insight into how history is always a factor in today's world. He uses the new media of pod casting to bring his insightful views to the world with his excellent series titled, "Hardcore History". The series is available free of charge at: or from

No you don't have to have an ipod or a Mac to hear "Hardcore History" just go to the website and listen. What does this have to do with Texas History? Download Dan's "Apache Tears" podcast and find out.


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Six years ago, it became illegal for British citizens to legally own a handgun. In the U.S. our Second Amendment rights are now in great peril. Take a few minutes to view this video and see what is happening in England today. Gj

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Hi: Was doing some research on Tom Gardner and found your comments. There is quite a bit of detail about Tom in DeArment's great book Alias Frank Canton, including a picture on page 87. You can search the book using google's book search option.I have an old note by another researcher saying Tom Gardner was buried on Toyah Creek near Pecos City, but don't know what location that may be. Any ideas?

Thanks for the info about DeArment book. Don't know where Gardner is buried but am doing some searching and will let you know if I find anything. If you want to know where Gardner is buried, search cemetery records and see if you can find an obituary.

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After viewing your page about your various titles I thought I would ask you a question which no one else seems to know the answer, for sure.You are no doubt familiar with the story of John R. Hughes intending to marry a young woman . . . but she died of some disease prior to the wedding. Because of this loss, Hughes never married. There are at least two photographs of Hughes and the woman together. One in a group with other friends and one of him and her standing together on a beach, supposedly taken in 1904. This book, I think the book is by Maude T. Gilleland, indicates she is buried at Rockport, Aransas County. But again -- she has no name. Can you tell me the name of this woman that Hughes was going to marry?


Chuck Parsons

Sorry, I looked through my library and files and could not find anything about the identity of this woman. Obviously, she was the love of his life. Also, searched Newspaper Archives. Captain Hughes stands out in history as a Texas Ranger beyond reproach, something rare in those days of rangers who were corrupt, politically motivated, racist and so many of them were little more than hired guns. Does anyone out there know anything about her? If so, please let us know.


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On December 2, 1747, Spanish Captain Commander Joseph de Ydoiaga arrived at the Pueblo of San Cristobal after crossing the Rio Grande somewhere in the vicinity today's Presidio, Texas. Captain Ydoiaga, escorted by a contingent of militia and six Indian guides, came to San Cristobal during his exploration of the La Junita region to report to the Viceroy of New Spain the feasibility of establishing a presidio to protect the Spanish missions near La Junita against Indian attacks. Apache and Comanche raids had decimated La Junita and northern Mexico forcing the Spanish to seek a military solution to the ongoing Indian problems. Ydoiaga made careful and detailed written observations of the people and places he saw in the region and his writings offer the single best single source of information we have about Spanish colonial attempts during this time. Enrique Madrid superbly translated Ydoiaga's writings in the excellent "Expedition to La Junita de los Rios 1747-1748" published by the Texas State Historical Commission 1992. This is a book that everyone with an interest in Big Bend history needs to read. When Ydoiaga came to San Cristobal, he held talks over a three day period with the pueblo leaders and residents, inquiring about their community and their farming methods, which were greatly affected by droughts, and flooding of the Rio Grande. Also, the Captain conducted a census of the community that numbered 157 individuals.

In June 2003, city workers were digging a trench with a backhoe to replace an aging water line on Third Street on the southeastern edge of Presidio. To their surprise, they accidentally dug up some very old human remains and reported the incident to the Center For Big Bend Studies in Alpine. CBBS archaeologists came to the site and during an initial assessment documented three burials in and near the backhoe trench. In January 2006, armed with grant money from the Preservation Texas Trust Fund, the City of Presidio, and the Trans-Pecos Archaeological Preservation Program of the CBBS, archaeologists began an extensive investigation of the Millington Site. CBBS Director William A. Cloud worked as Principal Investigator and Project Archaeologist with Dr. Jennifer Piehl as Assistant Project Archaeologist. The archaeologists discovered fourteen features including parts of three structures, five human burials, a ring midden, and two small hearths along with a total of 2,745 artifacts. The Millington site proved to be the place described by Ydoiaga 261 years ago as the San Cristobal Pueblo.

The project finally resulted in a fine new book by William A. Cloud and Jennifer C. Piehl titled, "The Millington Site: Archaeological and Human Osteological Investigations Presidio County, Texas". Published by the Center for Big Bend Studies, the 211-page book contains an amazing amount of data and information. As a historian, I found this book to be absolutely fascinating because in addition to the detailed and complete archaeological information, the authors did a superb job of explaining the importance of the data, the historical context and how the study greatly advances our knowledge of the La Junta people and their environment. It like, "Expedition to La Junita de los Rios 1747-1748" is a book that cannot be overlooked by anyone wanting to truly understand Big Bend history.

"The Millington Site" is available at Front Street Books in Alpine. It can be ordered online at: or by calling 432-837-1126.


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Anybody who thinks central Texas was not a dangerous and violent place to live following the Civil War needs to read Ross McSwain's fine new book, See No Evil, Speak No Evil: A History of Mob Violence In The Texas Heartland 1869-1904. This dark and disturbing part of Texas history has long been obscured and overlooked for a variety of reasons. Many of the participants in these mob actions and their families kept silent during their years out of fear for their reputations and in some instances, their very lives. And it is not something local historians have wanted to address. But it is truly a topic we today cannot afford to misunderstand.

As author Paul L. Wellman put it, "Wars breed crime and criminals, and the American Civil War did not differ from others in this respect." And that is exactly what happened in Texas after the war. Thieves, bandits and murderers found a safe haven in central Texas because of the remoteness of the area and the poor and often simply non-existent law enforcement. Bad men stole cattle and horses, robbed stores and banks, and killed any lawman that tried to intervene. Sometimes the lawmen themselves were only criminals with badges. Cattlemen, storekeepers and honest citizens found themselves forced to take the law into their own hands in an attempt to deal with the outlawry. In seventeen chapters McSwain deals with mob actions in a dozen central Texas counties during this era and does a fine job of telling the stories in a most readable way. Equally important, McSwain puts these bloody events in context and did a masterful job of researching and documenting these long forgotten days.

In the forward of the book Elmer Kelton wrote, Ross McSwain has brought together as many of the facts about the mob as can be found a century or more after the incidents had occurred. What he uncovered is a startling view of Texas at its wildest and most violent, a time when hardened men thought no more of cold-blooded murder than of blowing out a lamp. It is a sad truth that many of these crimes went unpunished except, in some cases by a reciprocal murder. For those who believe who believe Old West violence is sometimes exaggerated, check the mobs body count.

Ross McSwain has lived in the Texas heartland since 1938 and is a retired award-winning journalist, freelance writer and author of eight books. He has served as president of the Tom Green County Historical Society and the Permian Historical Society and is a member of the Edwards Plateau Historical Association. "See No Evil, Speak No Evil" is available at Cactus Book Shop in San Angelo. To order, telephone Felton Cochran at 325-659-3788 or order on line at


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Here is an interesting story about Pancho Villa's death mask from the History Channel. I first saw the death mask on display at the Cavalry Museum outside El Paso in the 1980's. About this time, Texas Governor Bill Clements attempted to exchange the mask for the battle flag from the Alamo but this never came to pass and the mask went to Mexico anyway. And yes, GW, I know that Villa was not murdered in the country side as stated by the History Channel. Update! For some reason, the link about Villa's death mask has been invalidated. To find the link, go to and type "pancho villa's death mask" and it will come up. See this video while you can! Also see:
Also see:
Amazing frauds about Mexican history. G.W. is the death mask in Chihuahua City at the Pancho Villa museum now and what can you tell us about it?

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Unbridled Cowboy is a riveting firsthand account of a defiant hell-raiser in the wild and tumultuous American Southwest in the late 1800s. At the age of fourteen, Joe Fussell hopped trains to escape from school and the authority he scorned. Joe became a roving cowpuncher across the Texas territory, tilling the land, wrangling cattle, and working in livery stables, moving on whenever his feet began to itch. In a time and place with no law, the young cowboy exacted revenge on those who trespassed him or those who abused authority. Joe recounts tales of cowboy adventures, narrow escapes, and undercover work as a Texas Ranger and life on the railroads. A spark of his wild cowboy spirit remained even after he went to work on the railroads and rose to the position of yardmaster.

Joe's unadorned prose is as exposed and simple as the wide open Texas plains. His unpretentious, unique voice embodies the spirit of the old West.

While making preparations to break camp one afternoon a couple of young Mexicans we knew (they were fellow employees) showed up at our camp, ate dinner with us and extended a pressing invitation to a baile, a dance, to be held in the nearby pueblo that night. I did not want to go because I knew Mexicans had no love for gringos in general and for Texans in particular. And I figured they thought we might create trouble by blaming them for slaughtering cattle that belonged to our outfit. I was afraid they were setting a trap wed be walking into and end up murdered.

I told Art I did not want to go and tried to persuade him against the idea. I told him how I felt about the whole thing, the dangers of exciting the jealousies of both sexes, and the ease with which they could kill us both, bury our bodies and make sure no report of their crimes would reach the ears of our boss. But he insisted on going and having a whirl with the senoritas. We postponed moving camp, and over my protest, went to the baile. I went because I didn't want him to go alone.

After we ate at the camp fire, we saddled fresh horses and rode forth in our work clothes - chaps, boots, spurs and six-shooters inside our shirts Art, the trouble hunting "Don Quixote" and me, his "Sancho Panza", the simple and faithful.

We arrived at the baile and acting on my suggestion left our horses in a secluded spot apart from all the other horses and entered the hall which, as I remember, was a room about twenty feet square. The young men who had extended the invitation made themselves most agreeable, introducing us as their guests and seemed overly anxious to have us enjoy ourselves to the utmost. Art entered into the spirit of the festivities whole-heartedly and immediately started a flirtation with a very attractive senorita. Suspicious of a trap, I warned him, a time or two, against any indiscrete act.

He ignored my warnings and monopolized the time of the coquettish senorita. I soon noticed trouble brewing and, at the first opportunity again warned him and suggested we depart for camp. Again he spurned my warning saying he would show the "chili pickers" a few tricks in lovemaking and make them like it.
Knowing the storm was about to break I put my back near the only entrance to the hall and waited. It wasn't long. After a dance Art escorted his lady to a seat. As he turned away, a young man approached him and began a conversation, while another stepped in behind Art and reached in his sash for a stiletto.

I pulled out my six-shooter and called to Art to look out behind him. He jumped aside, pulling his six-shooter and faced his antagonist whose arm was raised ready to strike Art in the back. Art shot the Mexican twice.

"[O]ne of the most compelling memoirs I have ever read." I had come to like the old rascal by the end of the book.[A]powerful ending. Mike Cox, author of The Texas Rangers: Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900

"Arguably, this is one of the finest personal reminiscences of life in the American West". riveting Alfred Runte, author of Allies of the Earth: Railroads and the Soul of Preservation
Author's Biography

E. R. Fussell was born in Peru to American citizens and moved back to the United States at the age of five. He received his law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and began practicing law in California. Since 1972, he has practiced law in his hometown of LeRoy, New York.

Joseph B. Fussell was born in Tyler, Texas, in 1879, the son of a cowboy and buffalo hunter. Fussell trekked most of the Southwest and worked as a cowboy, livery stable operator, and at other jobs. When he was a ranch hand in northern Mexico, he barely escaped the fate of his American friend who died at the bottom of a well. Fussell worked as an undercover Texas ranger before beginning his railroad career. With little formal training, Fussell wrote his riveting memoir about real life in the West at the turn of the century. He died in 1957.

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On Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 11:23 PM, JAMES KATTNER wrote:


Rick Albin is my friend, and he suggested that I should contact you on this. I have a Walker & Co. San Carlos, Texas token which through a great letterhead/letter copy (which I think you provided?), it was proven that this particular San Carlos was in Presidio County. Previously this token was thought to be from another San Carlos in Hidalgo county (extreme south Texas). My problem with the Hidalgo San Carlos had been that it was not that old, and also an internet 1895 Atlas Map opens to reveal a San Carlos in Presidio county.

A new book on mining tokens is being written, and I am trying to learn the name of this San Carlos mine. Also was it a copper or silver mine such as at nearby Shafter?

Your information will be greatly appreciated.

James Kattner

The token you have is indeed authentic and was issued by Walker and Company aka Humpries and Company whose main store was located in Marfa, Texas. Humpries and Company had a branch store located at the San Carlos Coal Company mining camp located in northwest Presidio County Texas during the 1890's. The camp was only in operation for a few years, and appairently never had an official U.S. Post Office although the San Carlos Humpries and Company store distributed mail for the employees of the San Carlos Construction Company who built the Rio Grande Northern Railway from Chispa to the camp the and employees of the coal mine. These types of tokens and script were fairly common at mines during those years. Some workers were paid with these tokens and could redeem them for needed items from the camp stores. See below my article on the San Carlos Coal Company and the Rio Grande Northern Railroad.

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