Sunday, April 26, 2020

Geronimo: The Last Words of a Once Proud and Glorious American Indian

By Al Colombo

The art of playing 'Cowboys and Indians' hinges on the following items:
  1. Cowboys: They must have at least one cap gun each (two is better) with a nice, leather holster; a cowboy hat; and a pair of slick cowboy boots.
  2. Indians: They must have a least one bow (without an arrow please), an Indian headdress with a least one feather in it, some red paint (NOT), and a pair of leather moccasins.
Well, after playing Cowboys and Indians a few hundred times as a kid, I grew up, grew out (literally), and eventually became interested in the historic aspects of the Cowboys and Indians issues. My interest grew and finally, here we are, writing and reading the Western Magazine Digest!

One of my things on the political level has always been the bad deal dealt to the American Indian as the white man expanded from east to west. The Apache's fought the Spaniards before the nation they called home ever became America. After the Revolutionary War was over and a new nation was borne, Geronimo and his warriors faced off with North Americans.

Perhaps one of the most compelling stories to come out of the old west was that of Goyathlay Geronimo, leader of the Bedancoa Apache Indian tribe. He was born in 1829 in a place called No-Doyohn Canyon, Mexico. He died of Pneumonia in 1909 in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He's interned there in Beef Creek Apache Cemetery.

I ran across Geronimo's last words in a book, and I knew it was necessary to share them with you, our Western Magazine Digest Cowboys, Cowgirls, and American Indian readers! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on his life and his passing, a man who was denied the privilege of spending his last moments on the land of his choosing. Please email me at

We are now held on Comanche and Kiowa lands, which are not suited to our needs … There is no climate or soil which, to my mind, is equal to that of Arizona. We could have plenty of good cultivating land, plenty of grass, plenty of timber and plenty of minerals in that land which the Almighty created for the Apaches. It is my land, my home, my fathers' land, to which I now ask to be allowed to return. I want to spend my last days there, and be buried among those mountains. If this could be I might die in peace, feeling that my people, placed in their native homes, would increase in numbers, rather than diminish as at present, and that our name would not become extinct.

I know that if my people were placed in that mountainous region lying around the head waters of the Gila River they would live in peace and act according to the will of the President. They would be prosperous and happy in tilling the soil and learning the civilization of the white men, whom they now respect. Could I but see this accomplished, I think I could forget all the wrongs that I have ever received, and die a contented and happy old man. Source: Geronimo His own story, American History

I personally find it sad that Geronimo was not granted his last request. His above words were written by this great medicine man and warrior in his autobiography in 1907, two years before his death when he was 79 years of age. Tell you what, here's the link to a web page where you can read all of Geronimo's heartfelt thoughts and much more:
Editor's Note: Be sure to tune in next weekend, Sunday morning at 8 a.m., when Timothy England presents his research on Walter Brennan. Don't miss it! --By Al Colombo

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Sunday, April 19, 2020

Hopalong Cassidy: One of the Best in the West

By Christopher Robinson

An Iconic phenomenon of film and television, Hopalong Cassidy was based on the western character created by novelist Clarence E. Mulford during the turn of the century. It subsequently became a cultural mainstay of the 1930s, remaining successful into the next two decades.

“Hoppy” was played exclusively by Ohio-born actor William Boyd, who grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before becoming a bit player in the early days of Hollywood (Definition of bit player is 'a person who performs a very small role in a play or movie).

Boyd worked steadily in film, even being cast, on occasion, by famed director Cecil B. DeMille, but RKO Pictures eventually dumped Boyd from their contract when another actor, named William Boyd, was arrested for a prohibition-era alcohol possession charge. A judge recommended the latter use the name ‘William “Stage” Boyd’ but after starring in the atrocious 12-chapter science fiction serial, The Lost City, “Stage” Boyd passed away.

Stick To Your Guns (1941) Hopalong Cassidy played by William Boyd

Not long after, Boyd won the lead role in the first Hopalong Cassidy B-western for Paramount Pictures.

Drastically altered from Mulford’s salty scoundrel character, “Hoppy” was re-imagined as a dapper, clean-living hero who set fine examples while saving the day. Decked out in all-black and brandishing two single-action revolvers on his trusty white stallion, Topper, Boyd’s Hoppy persona featured a distinctive look, thanks to his prematurely gray hair.

Cassidy and his fellow hands worked for the Bar 20 ranch and helped the cause of justice wherever danger threatened it. In that capacity, they solved murders, saved damsels, settled land disputes and even tamed frontier towns as deputized lawmen.

Cassidy also benefited from the additional luxury of having two sidekicks to share in his adventures. There was, of course, the obligatory companion of the seasoned rascally cutup variety. Windy Halliday was  portrayed by none other than Gabby Hayes who began in the series as other characters in a few of the earlier films. Later on, Britt Wood joined as Speedy and finally, Andy Clyde stepped in to play a character named “California” Carson.

A younger compadre rounded out the team who, at various times, would be named Johnny, Jimmy or Lucky. Often this resident greenhorn took care of the story’s love interest, allowing Cassidy more freedom in his ensuing heroics.

The series soon became immensely popular thanks to Boyd’s charm and natural approach to the role of a good-natured hero who met trouble head on and righted wrongs wherever they were found. The 'Hoppy' craze led to a comic strip, a radio series, an amusement park, and a diverse line of merchandising, including Cassidy’s distinction of being the first character on a lunch box (there’s  a good trivia bit for ya).

Boyd produced the final Hoppy films himself and allegedly put all his investments into the acquisition of the Hopalong Cassidy trademark. This later enabled him to recoup his losses by releasing the films to the NBC television network. The Hoppy features were condensed for TV and Boyd soon began producing new episodes, gaining an even larger audience and kickstarting the subgenre of the TV western.

The rest, of course, is history. Not bad, pardner!

About the Author

Christopher Robinson is a writer, filmmaker and musician in New Jersey who has contributed to several magazines and websites.

Robinson also worked as a cameraman, videographer, cable access TV host, teacher and producer. He scripted and produced commercial videos as well as cable television programs for local consumption.

For more info about Christopher, click here.

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Davy Crockett: the Legend and the Man

By Allan B. Colombo
WMD Publisher

There's no way to provide an in-depth account of the life and career of Davy Crockett. This remarkable man did so much for his family, neighbors, and government. But what we can do is provide you with highlights of his accomplishments combined with links to where you can go online to learn more about the man and the legend.

The Legend of Davy Crockett

Personally, I became familiar with Davy Crockett when I was 5 or 6 years old by way of a 78 rpm phonograph record that my mother purchased for me from a 'Five and Dime' store in my hometown of Canton, Ohio. I was 5 years old when they gave me my first phonograph. My father proceeded to routinely give me 45's and 78's, which he purchased at a gym he belonged to. Evidently these were used records from a local jukebox company.

The lyrics to this famous song, “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” is what sticks in my mind the most ( Here's a partial reproduction of the lyrics followed by a video with the real deal:

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
Greenest state in the land of the free.
Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree,
Killed him a bear when he was only three.

Davy, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier.

Fought single handed through the Injun war,
Till the Creeks was whipped and peace was restored.
And while he was handling this risky chore,
Made himself a legend, forevermore.

Davy, Davy Crockett the man who don't know fear.

He went of to Congress and served a spell
Fixin' up the government and laws as well.
Took over Washington, I heard tell,
And patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell.

Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear.
When he come home, his politickin' was done,
While the western march had just begun.
So he packed his gear, and his trusty gun
And let out a grinnin' to follow the sun.

Davy, Davy Crockett, Leadin the Pioneer.

Walt Disney released a five part serial which aired on ABC beginning in 1954 and ending in 1955. Fess Parker was featured as the real-life man called Davy Crockett. This was part of a program called Disneyland. (If you remember Disneyland, raise your hand please!)

This gives you a good idea of what I and so many children in the mid 1950's were treated to by way of Walt Disney, and on a weekly basis! It was an enchanted time for all of society, unlike today.

Davy Crockett, the Man

Born David Crockett on the 17th of August, 1786, Davy Crockett was a folk hero that led an exciting and varied life. He, in fact, came to be known as 'King of the Wild Frontier,' and wild it certainly was. He was also an extremely diversified individual, contrary to what many of us might think based on historical accounts, not to mention popular movies of the recent past.

Crockett's place of birth was Greene County, located in East Tennessee, near a town called 'Limestone.' His family, which originally had emigrated from Ireland in and about 1718, ended up in the French Colony of New Rochelle, in the Colony of New York. “Family tradition says that David Crockett's father was born on the voyage to America from Ireland, though in fact Crockett's great-grandfather, William David Crockett, was registered as having been born in New Rochelle, New York in 1709 (” (Captain Joseph Louis Crockett,

Eight years after Davy's birth, in 1786--a mere decade after the birth of this new nation--the Crockett's moved to Lick Creek. Two years after that, Davy's father partnered with Thomas Galbraith in a gristmill on Cove Creek. A series of unfortunate circumstances forced Davy's family to move several more times until they ended up in Morristown where his father built a tavern that was intentionally located on a stage coach route.

“The Crockett Tavern Museum is a history museum in Morristown, Tennessee, that commemorates the American folk hero David 'Davy' Crockett” (Crockett Tavern Museum, Wikipedia,

Because the unfortunate things that happened to his father's business ventures, Davy was indentured several times to other business men to help pay off the family's indebtedness. The first time was when Crockett was only 12 years old.

Davy Crockett, Indian Scout 1950 Western VO ENG

The Public Side of Crockett

In brief, Davy Crockett was a battalion commander in the Creek Indian War of 1813 (1813 to 1814). To provide some background, the Creek Indian War was the result of a general massacre near Mobile, in the Mississippi Territory, on August 30th of 1813.

Because of Crockett's keen skills in the wilderness, the same year he enlisted as a scout in the Francis Jones's Company of Mounted Riflemen. He served from September of 1813 to that of Christmas Eve of the same year.

Crockett also served as Third Sargeant with the Tennessee militia in the War of 1812. His tour of duty was six months.

If you recall, early on I mentioned the fact that Davy Crockett was a diverse individual. Well, it was in 1817, that Crockett uprooted his family and moved them to Lawrence County, Tennessee. Here he became a commissioner charged with the task of establishing new boundaries for a new county. The same year he was appointed as a county justice of the peace by the state legislature.

The following year, Crockett was elected lieutenant colonel of the 57th Regiment of the Tennessee Militia. In 1819, Crockett decided to spend more time with his family and business. Although he continued on as commissioner, he resigned his position as Justice of the Peace and lieutenant colonel of the militia.

Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer

Crockett served as commissioner until 1821, when he won a seat in the Tennessee General Assembly. Davy Crockett also ran for Congress in 1824. It was in 1827 that he won a seat, which he held up to 1829, then again from 1829 through 1831, and then 1833 through 1835. His main efforts were spent defending squatters who were unable to purchase land out West because they did not already own property.

“Crockett spent his entire legislative career fighting for the rights of impoverished settlers who he felt dangled on the precipice of losing title to their land due to the state's complicated system of grants” (


Generally speaking, if there's any one thing that most of us know about Davy Crockett is the fact that he died defending the Alamo, although recent evidence might suggest otherwise. For all intents and purposes, as far as WMD is concerned, Crockett died fighting for the right of Texans to decide their own national fate.

“When he was 49 years old, Crockett died a hero's death at the Alamo, helping Texas to win independence from Mexico. For 11 days of ceaseless fighting and bombardment, around 200 men withstood the Mexican army of Santa Anna. When the battle was over, all the Americans had died, but with them also lay over 2,000 Mexicans. Crockett's body was never found, but at his birthplace a rough limestone slab reads: 'Davy Crockett, Pioneer, Patriot, Soldier, Trapper, Explorer, State Legislator, Congressman, Martyred at The Alamo. 1786 to 1836'” (Immortal Last Words, Terry Breverton, p154).

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