Thursday, May 27, 2021

Wild West Chronicles— Blue Eyed Apache

By Christopher Robinson, WMD Senior Editor

A gripping installment of INSP’s western series tells the powerful story of Herman Lehmann, a youth who lived in both white and Indian worlds and was noted for participating in a number of violent raids on the western frontier.

Augusta Lehmann (Olivia Dunkley) requests a meeting with Bat Masterson (Jack Elliott) at her home where she wishes to set her son’s controversial story straight once and for all.

She recounts to Bat the day her children were playing on their land in Texas when Apaches rode in, swiftly capturing 10-year old Herman (Reagan Bryce) and his little brother and taking off before their parents could interfere.

The Lehmanns hope, pray and seek assistance from authorities but only their younger son is returned after an early escape and eight years pass before they see Herman again.

During his time with the Apaches, Herman is raised by a brave named Carnoviste (Tommy Wolfe) and his wife Laughing Eyes (Cami Storm) until Carnoviste is murdered by a medicine man (Sam Bearpaw) who believes the white outsider to be bad luck. 

Herman (Cavin Mohrhardt) avenges his adopted father and is instructed by Laughing Eyes to flee their camp. This turn of events leads Herman to join the Comanches, live on a reservation in Indian Territory and finally be escorted back to his family and home in Texas.

Herman Lehmann’s fascinating and touching story is delivered with emotional performances and authentic style.

Blues Eyed Apache will premiere this Sunday, May 30th at 5:30PM ET and re-air Friday, June 4th at 11PM ET. Find out where to watch:

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Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Telegraph: The World Wide Web of the Wild West?

By Christopher Robinson, WMD Senior Editor

More than any other technological advancement, the electric telegraph dramatically altered the course of history in the American West of the 19th Century. The instant messaging of its day, it was the means by which printed information was transmitted for over 100 years.

Prior to 1861, telegraphy existed in primitive versions that relied on visual relays such as flags and smoke signals. These early methods led to a widely used optical system developed in France at the end of the 18th Century.

Around this time, electrical power was generally achieved using static electricity with low currents and high voltages. Reliable long distance transmission required the employment of new developments in electromagnetism.

Through discoveries by figures such as British engineer William Sturgeon, Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted, British physicist Michael Faraday and American physicist Joseph Henry, electrical currents began to be successfully transmitted with batteries and magnetic needles across wires which were then received by an electromagnet at its end.

In 1837, inventor Samuel Morse developed an electric recording telegraph which we now call the Morse Telegraph. Even more integral was Morse’s code which enabled messages to efficiently transmit across long distances. With Morse Code, the alphabet’s letters were represented by a series of dashes and dots.

The characters representing the alphabet’s letters were designated by dents on a tape of paper. When the current reached the receiver, the electromagnet forced the dents onto the paper with a stylus. A break in the current would retract the stylus which would create a space on the paper. The trained operators would know the code and properly interpret the indentations.

The paper tape eventually became obsolete when operators could translate the code by the sound of the clicks. The introduction of the teletypewriter was also beneficial to the speed and efficiency of sending and encoding messages.

Alternatively, the heliograph was a system which used Morse Code while reflecting the sun’s light with mirrors in the absence of electrical telegraph lines. This system was utilized extensively during the Apache wars and was still in use as late as the Second World War.

In 1837, English inventors William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone patented the first commercial telegraph which was soon employed for the London and Birmingham Railway.

Transcontinental telegraph lines (eventually, wires), were established in the United States for the expediency of their railroad lines. Prior to that point, one couldn’t be precisely sure when a train could expect to arrive at its destination.

The U.S. Army was particularly instrumental in digging, distributing and erecting 75-pound wooden poles and stringing telegraph wire across the land, often working in opposite directions before meeting their fellow troops at its completion. The commands would similarly affix insulators and lightning rods at every fifth pole.

Westward expansion was thereby increased as train travel became increasingly manageable. Instantaneous information greatly improved the country’s economic matters and revolutionized world finance as well as the newspaper industry. One casualty of the telegraph’s proliferation would, incidentally, be the Pony Express.

In 1861 the Western Union Telegraph Company officially connected the eastern and western coasts as they completed the line in Salt Lake City, Utah. This coincided with the Civil War which depleted men from the telegraph’s work force leading to a mass hiring of women in its continuing development.

Even Britain would thereafter be connected to the states by way of an underwater wire by 1866. Austrian physicist Julius Wilhelm Gintl developed the ‘duplex transmission system’ in Germany whereby two separate messages could be sent with single lines.

By 1871, French engineer Jean-Maurice Émile Baudot improved on the concept again with multiplexing which allowed for multiple senders and receivers.

All the while, Alexander Graham Bell had been developing the telephone and patented his invention by 1876. It was soon believed, however, that the two technologies could advantageously coexist. Often the same lines would be used for simultaneous transmission of both systems. By the late 19th Century, the Western Electric Company had been bought out by American Bell Telephone.

Telegraphy featured prominently in the plots of many western literary works and films. In the 1933 John Wayne film, The Telegraph Trail from Warner Brothers, Wayne comes to the aid of a telegraph company when a band of Indians is coaxed by a ruthless land grabber into attacking them. According to IMDb, Western Union loaned genuine period telegraph equipment to the film’s production.

Tim Holt gets involved with the telegraph lines in 1951’s Overland Telegraph as he investigates the destruction of a telegraph operation by masked bandits.

In Conclusion 
Unlike some aspects of the West’s numerous myths and clichés, the telegraph’s impact on the frontier and the world, in general, was far more considerable in reality than in our Hollywood-generated imaginations. Its technical resourcefulness and sheer practicality interferes with the more romantic aspects of the western legend. As a telegraph operator of old might have exclaimed, When the legend becomes fact, wire the legend.” 

About the Author

Western Magazine Digest Senior Editor 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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Monday, May 10, 2021

Wild West Chronicles-Bat Masterson and the Dodge City Dead Line: Part 2

By Christopher Robinson, WMD Senior Editor

Another rollicking and nail-biting episode of INSP’s biography series takes off with tensions and temperatures running high. Previously, a heartbroken and enraged Bat Masterson (Jack Elliott) had taken off in pursuit of a reckless and nihilistic killer, Spike Kenedy (Dan Milam).

When Edgar (Tom Gelo), Bat’s copy boy, returns to the news office, he is accompanied by his wife (Jessica Lynn Parsons) who wants the rest of Bat’s tortured story while he’s still willing to give it.

Bat further expounds on how he and Wyatt Earp had agreed that Kenedy must be brought in for fatally wounding “the greatest talent to come through Dodge”, Dora Hand as they ride through the Kansas darkness on Kenedy’s trail. A grief-stricken Bat eventually corners the outlaw, first winging him and then mustering all of his strength to keep from finishing him off.

Bringing the convict back across the ‘dead line’, Bat and Wyatt find the matter is far from resolved when a small but determined lynch mob threatens to overtake them and abscond with their prisoner. Wyatt’s promise to the group that Kenedy will hang is soon rendered empty after a judge hears Kenedy’s case and frees him on a lack of evidence.

Another must-see installment of the series is told with copious helpings of action and style. The anguish and disappointments of an emotionally attached lawman driven to dangerous paths is aptly depicted along with dramatically tense performances to boot.

Bat Masterson and the Dodge City Dead Line: Part 2 will premiere this coming Sunday, May 16th at 5:30PM ET and re-air Friday, May 21st at 11PM ET. Find out where to watch:

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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Wild West Chronicles- Bat Masterson and the Dodge City Dead Line: Part 1

By Christopher Robinson, WMD Senior Editor

his installment of INSP’s entertaining western biography series focuses on lawman Bat Masterson (Jack Elliott) as he begins making a name for himself taming the rough-and-tumble frontier town of Dodge City, Kansas during its wildest and roughest days. 

Facing a dearth of inspiration for his news column, Masterson is coaxed by his copy boy, Edgar (Tom Gelo) into recounting his experiences in Dodge when he joined forces with Wyatt Earp and faced down the menacing outlaw Spike Kenedy (Dan Milam).

Kenedy, a bratty yet formidable son of a powerful local rancher, becomes a considerable foe of Masterson’s as he tackles marshaling while managing his interests in the local Alhambra Saloon. After being introduced by Earp to the Alhambra’s star singer, Dora Hand, Masterson soon becomes protective of Dora in a capacity beyond matters of mere business.

Eventually the situation proves inevitably volatile and Kenedy opts not to take Masterson’s advice to “Get out of Dodge.” When Masterson and Earp discover that Kenedy has viciously attacked Dora, the furious Masterson rides off to settle the score for good.

An exciting glimpse into one of Bat Masterson’s lesser known exploits makes for another tense and gripping episode leaving viewers in proper anticipation of its conclusion.

Bat Masterson and the Dodge City Dead Line: Part 1 will premiere this coming Sunday, May 9th at 5:30PM ET and re-air Friday, May 14th at 11PM ET. Find out where to watch:

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