Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Morman Pioneer Trail

The Mormon Pioneer Trail is the 1,300 mile (2,092 km) route that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traveled from 1846 to 1868. Today the Mormon Trail is a part of the United States National Trails System, as the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail.

The Mormon Trail extends from Nauvoo, Illinois, which was the principal settlement of the Latter Day Saints from 1839 to 1846, to Salt Lake City, Utah, which was settled by Brigham Young and his followers beginning in 1847. From Council Bluffs, Iowa to Fort Bridger in Wyoming, the trail follows much the same route as the Oregon Trail and the California Trail; these trails are collectively known as the Emigrant Trail.

The Mormon pioneer movement began in 1846 when, in the face of conflicts with neighbors, Young decided to abandon Nauvoo and to establish a new home for the church in the Great Basin. That year Young's followers crossed Iowa. Along their way, some were assigned to establish settlements and to plant and harvest crops for later emigrants. During the winter of 1846–47, the emigrants wintered in Iowa, other nearby states, and the unorganized territory that later became Nebraska, with the largest group residing in Winter Quarters, Nebraska. In the spring of 1847, Young led the vanguard company to the Salt Lake Valley, which was then outside the boundaries of the United States and later became Utah. During the first few years, the emigrants were mostly former occupants of Nauvoo who were following Young to Utah. Later, the emigrants increasingly comprised converts from the British Isles and Europe.

The trail was used for more than 20 years, until the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Among the emigrants were the Mormon handcart pioneers of 1856–1860. Two of the handcart companies, led by James G. Willie and Edward Martin, met disaster on the trail when they departed late and were caught by heavy snowstorms in Wyoming.

The importance of this accounting to my family is that my great-great grandfather, Charles Kirkpatrick, a doctor, took two of the ailing members of the group heading toward Salt Lake City and kept them with him and his party of travelers. Once they were healed, they rejoined Brigham Young. We have a copy of the letter from Brigham Young thanking Grandpa for saving their lives.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Legendary Trendsetter Elizabeth "Baby Doe" Tabor

Baby Doe Tabor was not always a Tabor. She was born and baptized Elizabeth Bonduel McCourt to Irish Catholic parents in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1854. Her years in the frontier boomtown of Oshkosh gave her the beginnings of a dream she would live to see come true.

Colorado socialite Elizabeth Tabor had golden hair, blue eyes, porcelain skin, and a sense of style that rivaled that of any woman in Leadville. She arrived married to a struggling miner but dressed like she was the belle of the ball. She paraded down the main street of town wearing a sapphire-blue costume with dyed-to-match shoes. Her stunning style caught the attention not only of neighbors and storekeepers, but also millionaire Horace Tabor.

Horace and Elizabeth scandalized the community by falling in love, divorcing their spouses, and marrying one another. Horace showered his new bride with jewels and the finest outfits from Boston and Paris. She wore one-of-a-kind outfits to opening nights at the opera house he had built for her.

All eyes were on the young Mrs. Tabor as Horace escorted his young bridge into the theatre. Her dresses were made of Damasse silk, complete with a flowing train made of brocaded satin. The material around the arms was fringed with amber beads. The look was topped off with an ermine opera cloak and muff. Pictures of the Tabors appeared in the most-red newspapers, and soon women from San Francisco to New York copied the outfit. The only part of the costume admirers were unable to reproduce to their satisfaction was Mrs. Tabor’s $90,000 diamond necklace.

Despite wealth that allowed her to live a lifestyle that was beyond lavish, Elizabeth died penniless and alone in Leadville, Colorado. She froze to death while living in a mine shack of the famous Matchless Mine, which in its heyday produced $10,000 worth of silver ore per day.

Elizabeth and Horace Tabor are the subject of an American opera titled, "The Ballad of Baby Doe".

How the West Was Worn, by Chris Enss

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Allan Pinkerton

Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884) was the father of many American police detection techniques and founder of America's most famous detective agency.

Allan Pinkerton was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on August 25, 1819, the son of a police sergeant who was later wounded during the Chartist riots. Pinkerton himself became a Chartist and, fearing for his safety after participating in the turmoil, emigrated to the United States in 1842. He settled in a Scottish community at Dundee, III. He became an outspoken abolitionist, serving as the local conductor on the Underground Railroad.

While working as a cooper in Dundee, Pinkerton was instrumental in capturing a group of counterfeiters. After several private commissions in detective work, he was named deputy sheriff of Kane County in 1846. In 1850 he became the first detective on the reorganized police department of Chicago. He simultaneously organized a private agency and left public service not long after.

Pinkerton's agency, unlike the typical agency of the day, was run with strict propriety. He would not, for example, undertake investigations of the morals of a woman, the stock-in-trade of most private detectives, except in connection with some other crime. Nor did he set his fees according to how much money he regained in a theft case, a practice which frequently tied detectives to the underworld. Pinkerton's operatives received uniform fees, set in advance, plus expenses. Pinkerton quickly developed a national reputation as a result of work for the U.S. Post Office, the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, and the Illinois Central Railroad (through which he developed a valuable friendship with its president, George McClellan).

In 1861 Pinkerton was investigating alleged Confederate sabotage of a railroad in Maryland when he claimed to have unearthed a scheme to assassinate the president-elect, Abraham Lincoln, then on his way to his inauguration. Pinkerton convinced Lincoln to revise his plans for entering Washington, D.C., and he supervised Lincoln's secret journey. Pinkerton later discussed the organization of a national secret service with the President but, when nothing developed, joined his old client, now Gen. McClellan, as head of intelligence in the Army's Ohio Department. When McClellan left the Army in 1862, Pinkerton resigned his post and spent the rest of the war investigating cotton speculation frauds in the Mississippi Valley.
Following the war, Pinkerton turned active direction of his flourishing agency over to his two sons, although he continued to take an interest in agency affairs and kept control of central policy. He supervised the agency's growth in its chief fields of endeavor, the pursuit and capture of train robbers like the James gang; the supplying of a private corps of armed guards to industries and special events such as county fairs; and the breaking of labor unions. He became a vociferous enemy of labor unions.

Pinkerton had a penchant for self-celebration, writing some 20 books about his and his detectives' exploits. He died on July 1, 1884.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Please change your bookmarks and come visit us at our new location:

Of course you can always type in:

Here you'll find not only our regular historical posts, but polls (and eventually surveys) and more information about the Scandalous Victorians, if the mood strikes you. We also have all the old posts from this blogger site as well, so nothing is lost!

We look forward to seeing you in our new home.

The Scandalous Victorians.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Nevada's First Woman Sheriff

In 1919 Clara Dunham Crowell, a former waitress at the Two Bit House, was the law in Lander County, Nevada.

Clara Dunham married George Crowell, a teamster who drove a stage coach, in 1898. The Crowell family flourished with the addition of two children. George, who was highly regarded for his honesty and “can do” attitude, was elected sheriff of Lander County.

He tackled the job with the same enthusiasm he used to drive his old six-horse stage. Clara learned much from her husband about the qualities of a good sheriff – how to anticipate trouble, how to keep calm, and how to use a gun.

Clara herself was not in the habit of running from trouble. During his stage-driving days George often returned late and if he was carrying company money he would keep it safe at home until the bank opened the next morning. One night Clara and her niece were in the house alone when a strange man knocked on the door. “I know there’s money in there,” he said. “Open up or you’ll be sorry.”

Clara opened the door in his face and demanded, “What will I be sorry for?” Then she chased him out the gate.

As sheriff George Crowell was highly respected, but when he was struck down by illness and died in 1919 the local lawmen and women circulated a petition calling for Clara to become the first woman sheriff in Nevada history. There were several male aspirants for the job, but none made a formal application after the petition was circulated and presented to the county commissioners. They unanimously selected 42 year old Clara Crowell to be sheriff for the remaining two years of her husband’s term.

Clara proved that she could handle any situation. She was involved in the apprehension of cattle rustlers, horse thieves, robbers, and other criminals. As sheriff she demanded respect for the law in Lander. She and her deputy, Thomas White, even enforced the new Dry Law, which among other things prevented people from transporting bottles of liquor.

On several occasions she even entered saloons and broke up brawls. In an administrative overhaul, she removed Deputy White who had served under four sheriffs. She earned a reputation throughout the West as a tough law officer. When her term came to an end many people encouraged her to run for election. But she was respected also for her nursing skills and she decided to take the job of matron, or administrator, of the county hospital, a position she held for the next 20 years.

Posted from “The Historical Nevada Magazine.”

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Test blog

Testing this to see how things transfer to word press. This is a test. It is only a test. In the case of a real emergency. . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trick Or Treat?

As Halloween fast approaches, the holiday here in the US seems to get bigger each year. I had to wonder, how and when did this holiday take hold in this country? After all, America was founded by Puritans who would’ve banned such holidays. But as other cultures emigrated to the United States, they brought along their own customs.

It seems Irish and Scottish immigrants, who arrived between 1840 and 1870, were responsible for bringing their traditions, including Halloween to the United States. The origins of modern-day Halloween came from a pre-existing autumn festival of the dead, called Samhain.

Scottish and Irish-Americans held dinners and balls, celebrating their heritage and legends. Children’s Halloween activities included bobbing for apples and divination games. Pranks and mischief were also common.

So, like Christmas traditions, many of our modern-day Halloween celebrations originated during the Victorian era.

For more info on the origins of Halloween, visit these History Channel sites: