Monday, November 16, 2015

"I Can Stop Anytime". A poem by Marilyn A. Hudson

I can Stop Any Time
A poem By Marilyn A. Hudson, 2015

I don’t really need that drink.
No matter what others may think.
Just pour me on to be kind.
Then another, if you wouldn’t mind.

I can walk away anytime from this bar!
There’s another one not very far.
I meet the most interesting sort
Sharing a beer, some whiskey or port.

I’m much bigger than any bottle;
But don’t let me linger, wait, and dawdle.
For I am a charmer, if  you loosen my tongue.
I’ve been to the wars and won every one!

I’m a master of my fate as I look in my glass.
Every problem, sorrow and sadness will pass
Leaving me bright, witty, and gay;
At least until the brink of day.

Hear me clear - I can stop anytime.
No, no mister - I don’t need your dime.
I ‘m ragged, rough and I’m tough!
But of this sweet poison there’s never enough…

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Prayer of a Soiled Dove. A Poem by Marilyn A. Hudson

The Prayer of A Soiled Dove
A Poem By Marilyn A. Hudson, 2015

How do you wash a soiled dove?
One who has lived a life that is fast?
Give her your heart’s deepest love;
Chase away the ghosts of her past.

Daily the tears are like rain.
Quit moments of reflection are few.
Tears tug and wear at the pain –
Revealing old scars and bruises like new.
When your plumage is tattered and torn,
The mistakes of your life come clear.
On your face, now wrinkled and worn,
The price of your high times is clear.

How do you wash a soiled dove?
Turn a blind eye to her frail past.
Like a sister, a mother or your true love –
Give her respect that will last.

Oceans of tears fall but the marks remain;
Stubborn stains of regret and bad moves.
Soft gray rain falls down on soiled doves;
But nothing fills those deep grooves.
Love alone erases the deepest of stains.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Times They Are A Changin'!

By the 1890's there were numerous stories of women dressing like men, a practice often outlawed by communities and newspapers were quick to latch onto these arrests for 'masquerading as a male.'  Yet, when feminine attire of a more athletic and flexible movement arrived they were also quick to make fun.

Bloomers as a sensible and athletically friendly piece of apparel for women appeared first in America in the 1850's where it soon became popular as a reform fashion.  It was a preferred dress for many early women's rights activists due to its sensible approach to movement and the freedom it represented. Despite being worn by numerous women in the 1850-1880's as protest it never quite caught on. People could apparently support a health based reason for the dress mode but that was not how it was promoted.

Minerva Ardella TERRYThe bicycle and its cousin the emergent motorcycle (1885) were catching the attention of young people. They were  easy to make, repair, and were highly portable . In the Ozarks of 1898, a young brother and sister died while riding a motorized bicycle made by the brother. 

Minerva Ardella TERRY and her brother Granville H. Terry  died in Barry Co., Missouri  15 AUG 1898. They were siblings of my great grand-father. 

So, in the early 1890's, with the appearance and popularity of the bicycle, the bloomer took on new life and the argument was it would improve women's health by making it easier and safer for her to ride a bicycle. The nation was going through a health craze similar to the fitness focus on the 1970's and their was emphasis on healthy foods, exercise, and similar hallmarks of fitness.

In the Langston City Herald  (Oklahoma) of August 5, 1895 (pg. 2) was a small gossipy news item: "Mrs. Knauss is the first woman in the TY [territory] to come out and brave the multitudes in a pair of bloomers. Somebody must take the lead..."

This "Mrs. Knauss" may have been Crerrill Knauss born  Oct. 1846 in PA, wife of David and, according to the 1900 census, a resident of Stillwater, Payne Co., Oklahoma in 1900.

They Wore Pants, Carried a Gun or Rode Like A Cowboy: CATTLE ANNIE and LITTLE BRITCHES

They were the newspaper writers dream come true and the inspiration for numerous 'penny dreadfuls' and dime novellas. Often ignored for their more violent, gun toting brethren, these women are an important chapter in the history of the westward expansion.
The challenges of the west often meant that some aspects of ‘civilization’ tended to fall under the onslaught of necessity.  It was not unusual for frontier women, from the era of Daniel Boone and beyond to have mastery in firearms that would have shocked people in eastern cities. The further west people moved the more flexible were the social structures defining gender roles. Hunting, riding, chopping wood, and a host of activities that their more rarefied sisters back would have seen as unladylike by Victorian standards were commonplace.    

Wearing men’s clothes was not a fashion statement as much as a safer alternative when forced to do certain work.  There was, to the western woman, a practical streak.  There was also, historic precedence, because in every nearly every conflict of the American nation there were women who donned male attire, signed up or joined in, and fought the enemy as defined in that moment. In the American Revolution, the Civil War, and in the American Frontier women dressed as men to either pass as a man or as a means to do the task of a man forbidden them as a woman.

In Oklahoma, there were several of these stories.  They are delightful in the sense that some adopted the costume but never tried to hide their identities, some hid their gender and their companions, by mutual consent, accepted them for what they presented themselves as and some even pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes in their masquerade.  They cannot be labeled with any common word s they were soldiers, outlaws, and cowhands.  There are probably more of them, hidden from history and family alike, and one can imagine that may still bring a chuckle to the ghosts of these women who shook free of social constraints to establish their unique place in history on their own terms.
These 'desperadoes' were active for only a short couple of years but they captured the imagination of people.  Their youth is often the most striking aspect of their story. "Cattle Annie" was Anna Emmaline McDoulet Roach who was born in 1882 in Douglas, Kansas and who died in 1978 in Oklahoma City. She was sent to Farmington Correctional Institution in Massachusetts in 1895.   She married and settled down to a long-lived and very law abiding life.  

"Little Britches" was born Jennie Stevenson in 1879 in Barton, Missouri (where Wyatt Earp had lived with his first wife who died). She preferred to wear men's clothes and that, combined with her more diminutive stature, earned her the nickname.  In 1895 she married a deaf-mute named Ben Midkoff but soon left to hook up with Frank Wilson.  Selling whiskey to the Indians in Osage Nation they were arrested in Perry and brought to the local regional court in Pawnee by U.S. Deputy Marshall Frank Canton. No information has been found for what happened to her and no death information has been located by most researchers.

Rose Dunn aka "Rose of the Cimarron", along with "Cattle Annie", "Little Britches", Jessie Finley (Finley), and Flora Quick Mundis aka Tom King would fill dramatically the void left by the mysterious murder of Belle Starr in 1889 near Eufaula.  A fascinating page of truly unique history...found in Oklahoma...on the fringes of "Hell."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Mystery of Zip Wyatt aka Dick Yeager

August of 1895 turning exciting in Oklahoma Territory with news that a posse had flushed out a long wanted and notorious outlaw known as Dick Yeager and Zip Wyatt and several other possible names.  A bad man who came to prominence with the bank robbery at Coffeeville, Kansas. Several sure deaths were pinned to him and dozens of others - one newspaper account charged nearly a hundred- were attached to him as well.

Shot three times with a .45, one of which lodged near his pelvis in his intestines, meant a month of agony for a shattered pelvis, infection and the certainty that death was hovering nearby in the sultry heat of late summer in Enid, Oklahoma.

He had been known to visit Oklahoma City's Hell, among other places, and kept the company of the worst of the bad men of the time. He rode with Dalton, Doolin and formed, for a short time, his own gang.

Researchers in Garfield County, where Enid is located, have identified him as Nathaniel Ellsworth Wyatt, alias Zip Watt, alias Dick Yeager, alias Wild Charlie.  He and his family arrived in 1889.  They cite that people viewed him as bad but not as bad as stories linked to him might imply.   He was a dashing and romantic figure certainly.  News papers did often use such figures to demonize certain behaviors, call for specific laws and otherwise manipulate public opinion.  The mystery may be where his grave is located as the original cemetery was relocated but they left his grave in place. Unmarked and alone. "The grave (out in what is now Kisner Addition) was dug by James McMillen. A spring wagon and driver, with Mr. Bass and Yeager's body made their way to the grave. George Rainey said that a little dog followed the wagon, and that was Yeager's funeral procession. The grave was unmarked, so the burial place is still out there in what is now a very fine residential development ... perhaps near an elementary school playground." (

Read more on him at
"Bandit at Bay" Enid Weekly Wave (Aug.8, 1895)pg. 5. Gives an overview of his capture, with a man named Black, his charged crimes of robbery, murder and theft, 15-20 murders alleged to him, including the murder of Kingfisher Post Master Townsend for which a man named Shoemaker was in jail. Also notes (pg.4) that Marshal Nix and the people of Guthrie were alarmed by stories Wyatt had heard his 'sweet heart' was in federal jail in that city and set out large numbers of armed guards should the bandit show up to rescue her.
'Zip's Capture' Weekly Oklahoma State Capital   (Aug 17, 1895) pg.7.
'Zip Wyatt Sinking Fast" Langston City Herald (August 17, 1895) 7.  Story out of "South Enid" says his father was William Wyatt, 'Six Shooting Bill', who lives near Guthrie. See the Garfield Country genealogy site (above) for more details on his heritage

Friday, September 25, 2015

They Rode like Centaurs

Lucille Mullhall, 1909 (Public Domain.Source={{LOC-image|id=cph.3c26135}} |Date=1909 |Author=J. V. Dedrick)   

They learned as young children the joys of riding across the landscape, the wind kissing their cheeks and the sense of freedom and sheer fun to be had on the back of a horse.  Skills of roping, riding, shooting, and a knowledge of the seasons necessary to survival.  A strong sense of purpose, participation, and partnership meant everyone pitched in to get the work done, feed the family, and make certain a better future.  What you did was based on what you could do or had previously mastered.  Competency and effectiveness were closely tied to how long you might live.  Those who rode the western ranges and woodlands, who herded cattle and horses, and who toiled in rain, snow, and heat to get the job done, were known as ‘Cowboys’.  They were not, however, all male.  Sometimes, the cowboy was a ‘girl’.  

Through the 1800’s women rode horses but in a dainty side-saddle that was designed to be used by a woman in full petticoat, skirt, and fashionable hat. The pace was a ladylike walk or a trot as long as it was for short periods.   Too delicate to really ride, to sit the saddle for long hours, or have her skin burned by wind or sun, a woman was not seen as a natural or suitable mount for any horse.

Heading westward, however, many women found the excessive (several layers) and fashionable petticoats (delicate, trimmed with expensive lace) a dangerous hindrance, a needless extra item to wash,  and far too many clothes for some of the harsher warm climates.   The delicate balance between the need to cut wood, plow, raise the children, feed the family, hunt for food, help out with the herd, and a dozen other tasks of the struggling or pioneer family meant that everyone learned skills. 

Sisters were raised just like their brothers and learned to shoot, hunt, track, ride a horse, herd cattle, brand, and feed the stock.  In addition, she might have to also learn social graces, how to wear a dress, how to cook, how to do the household books, and act the part of a lady ‘just in case’.  

No matter how good she became she was, for many, simply an oddity.  Annie Oakley, the great markswoman, was usually described in contemporary papers as a “trick shot”.   Her male counterparts were always, “marksman.”  The restraining atmosphere of late Victorian and early Edwardian society were coming to a head at the time a couple of generations of American western women were coming of age.  Raised in an environment where a person had to be independent to survive, where skills marked your more than social standing, and where the strength of your word weighed more than a bank balance, the limitations for women were particularly irksome for many.

The 1890’s were especially rich in tales of women who tossed off social limitations to achieve what they wanted, who expressed their own strong wills independent of males, and who dared to challenge the civic assumption that said women were less than their male counterparts.  The backdrop of the 1880’s and 1890’s is the topic of women’s rights to vote and fully participate in civic affairs.  Numerous newspapers carried editorials and opinion letters about how a woman could do many things a man could not. Tongues were often firmly in cheek as they enumerated them: wear a petticoat, sew on a button, and engage in small meaningless talk.  Some argued a woman could never be a soldier and in the readership were women who had disguised themselves as men and joined armies, women who had lifted guns to defend their families against wild animals and male marauders, and women who had fought the elements with a determination to win as great as any general. 

Social traditions told women that they must always hide that strength, wear frills and be intentionally dim-witted. Those were the same qualities used to deride them and their quest for equality. They were in the original ‘rock and a hard place’ quandary.  To be themselves – strong, opinionated, brave, intelligent, and freedom loving – these were women who felt they had to hide their true selves.  They saw their mothers, sisters and friends settle for something less and for something made less of them and said, “No!” 

So women like Ann Bassett became the ‘Cattle Queen of Colorado’ when she refused to be bought out by a land company who began rustling her cattle. Like any good cattle person she did not take kindly to that and rustled the land company cattle in return thus winning the label of ‘outlaw’ and ‘cattle rustler.’

In the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run, numerous women made the run and staked out their own claim and successfully proved the holding. 

There is no surprise that young women like Jessie Findley then learned to ride and could bravely face rushing rivers and hard country riding.  There is no surprise a young sister might emulate her brothers learning to ride, shoot and survive the hardest of environments with dignity and no loss of her femininity. Rose Dunn, was called the ‘Rose of the Cimarron’ for her graceful riding and her loyalty to those she loved. There is no real surprise that a young woman might choose to adopt a male persona to enjoy the adventure and excitement denied her as a woman.   Flora Quick Mundis became “Tom King” and an expert horse thief but still newspapers could not escape the claims she had been even worse as a woman. It was a general belief that only a shady woman would live so much outside the normal feminine sphere and prefer adventure over a home. 

Lucille Mulhall, raised in Oklahoma Territory, learned to do the work of a cowboy so well she was the first to compete against men in the male dominated rodeo. She is responsible for the spread of the term ‘cow-girl’ and for making the reality of a woman in that field an accepted institution.

This was the environment that birthed the strong, independent minded, and strong female characters of the American west in the 18th century and the early 20th. She was on cattle ranches, in communities, and in the out of the way places people tended to overlook.  She came in every shape, race, and social group.  She can still be found there today, enjoying the heritage carved out by her foremothers.

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