How to compete in a man’s world: Kitty LeRoy and the American West

How do you survive in a world that is uncompromisingly male-biased? A landscape, so convention dictates, where women are born to serve men. Kitty LeRoy, born in 1850 in Michigan, never heard the question and certainly didn’t wait to find out the answer. Born to live This was a woman in a hurry, her ultimate… Read More

The music of the cowboy

When the American folk vocal group, The Sons of the Pioneers, went into a recording studio in 1937 and belted out “Blue Juniata” they added fresh voice to what is generally credited as being the first ‘Western’ song. As they sang, fiddled, and strummed their guitars, this American folk vocal group also revitalized a specific… Read More

Samuel Morse and the electric telegraph

“Greetings and thanks to the Telegraph fraternity throughout the world. Glory to God in the highest, on Earth Peace, Goodwill to Men.” And with these words Samuel Morse, the man whose name is inextricably linked with the invention of the electric telegraph, signed off his final message to the American people. A battery of carefully… Read More

The Missouri Mormon war of 1838

On October 29 1838, a militia of 250 men under Colonel Thomas Jennings rode into Caldwell County, Missouri, from the east. Their destination was the Mormon settlement at Haun’s Mill, where the riders knew at least 40 families were encamped. The leaders of the community, quickly realising that their visitors were in no mood for… Read More

Blacksmiths in 19th Century America

“Under a spreading chestnut-tree the village smithy stands; the smith, a mighty man is he, with large and sinewy hands……”. These are the opening words of the poem ‘The Village Blacksmith,’ penned by the American poet William Henry Longfellow in 1840. It is both a tribute to his ancestor Stephen Longfellow, blacksmith, schoolteacher and town… Read More

Hispanic influence on the vocabulary of the Old West

The Hispanic legacy in ranching, cattle driving and the Old West in general is readily apparent in many of its words and terms. The word ranch is familiar to everyone these days as a word for a large stock-farm and herding establishment. This meaning only emerged in the early 1830’s and its origin, strangely, is… Read More