Saturday, October 28, 2017

The best kind of love is one that makes us reach for more.

Daniel and Rebecca

Mingo - The Man With The Bullwhip

The Polly Crockett hat marketed to girls back in the day.

Ridin' the Spirit of Davy Crockett

Watch out! There's that look from Ma.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Dan'l and Yadkin thinking about a settlement in Kentucke.

DID YOU KNOW: Old Betsy was named after Davy Crockett's sister. Read more below.

No other gun’s name is as famous as Davy Crockett’s “Old Betsy,” and no other gun has had so many rifles named after it. So many that one gun writer even wrote that he hoped he never saw another gun by that name. Crockett named all of his rifles after his favorite sister, Betsy. There is no record, however, of what the young girl thought of having the term “old” added to her name.

Of the three existing rifles attributed to Davy Crockett, his first rifle has the best provenance, followed by his Philadelphia presentation rifle, which he named “Pretty Betsy,” and the rifle at the Alamo museum.

It was 1803 and young Davy was just 17 when he acquired it. As he put it, “I had by this time got to be very fond of the rifle and had bought a capitol one. I most generally carried her wherever I went, and though I had got back to the old Quaker to live, who was a most particular man, I would sometimes slip out and attend shooting matches where they shoot for beef.”

He described one of these thus, “Just now I heard of a shooting match in the neighborhood right between where I lived and my girl’s house; and I determined to kill two birds with one stone, and go to the shooting match first and then go and see her. I therefore made the Quaker believe that I was going to hunt for deer, as there were pretty plenty about in those parts; but, instead of hunting them, I went straight to the shooting match where I joined in with a partner, and we put in several shots for the beef. I was mighty lucky, and when the match was over I had won the whole beef. This was on a Saturday, and my success had put me in the finest humor in the world. So I sold my part of the beef for five dollars in the real grit.”

This rifle was a top-of-the-line model that appears to have been made in York County, Pennsylvania, of a type that falls between 1780 and 1800. This particular example was made in 1792. The German gun-makers centered in Lancaster and York, Pennsylvania, were the ones that started with the classic German jaeger rifle and developed and perfected the long rifle for the conditions in the New World. The final form was as much a work of art as a weapon featuring delicate lines, swamped barrels, relief carving and the lithe grace of a ballerina. This beautiful, .488 caliber example weighs in at 10.1 pounds and has seven-groove rifling. It has a swamped barrel that has been shortened 2 inches at some point in the past, leaving it with a 60-inch overall length. At 14 inches, the length of pull is unusually long for these guns. This would be quite welcome, for Crockett was tall.

Crockett’s death in the heroic defense of the Alamo established his place forever in American history. Robert Jenkins Onderdonk’s painting “The Fall of the Alamo” depicts Davy Crockett swinging his rifle at Mexican troops who have breached the south gate of the mission.

This classic Pennsylvania rifle, of the finest quality, did not come cheaply. Crockett was making about $6.67 per month, and a gun like this went for $18—quite a financial sacrifice, but a wise one because a rifle was your ticket to survival on the frontier and scrimping on it was narrowing your chances of living. The rifle was often the only really nice thing a pioneer owned, and the only possession he could really take pride in. Davy Crockett was always a man of ambition determined to make the most of himself. He knew the statement a fine gun made about its owner. In those days, quality in the gun reflected quality in the man.

When Davy decided to marry Polly Finley in 1806, he traded this fine rifle and at least 3 months’ work back to the man that he had bought it from in exchange for a low-priced horse worth about $50. This “courting horse,” the first horse he had ever had, established him as a viable farmer, for now he had something to plow with. After he and Polly were married, they rented a farm and put that horse to work.

At the time of the marriage, Davy had a rifle he named “Long Bess” made by Colonel Henry Bradford. Bradford was not only an excellent gunsmith, but he was also the justice of the peace that performed the marriage ceremony for the Crocketts.

Crockett went on to use other rifles, but this first rifle established his reputation as a marksman and began his fame. Its sacrifice even helped procure him the great love of his life, Polly Finley, who bore him children. Despite its short tenure as his gun, its contribution to his life and legend was enormous.

After Davy parted with it, Old Betsy remained in the same county throughout the 19th century as a local celebrity that was regularly exhibited, with its transfers well documented. When the current owners, Joe and Art Swann, bought it in 1978, it was in need of serious repairs, being broken through at the lock mortise and missing the lock and a portion of the forend where the ramrod channel enters the last pipe. The gun was turned over to Herschel House of Morgantown, Kentucky, for restoration in 1980. He did a masterful job replacing the missing lock with one of the correct Germanic types for this rifle, rejoining the stock at the lock mortise and adding the missing section to the forend with such perfectly matching grain to the wood that it is almost impossible to see the repair.

The barrel and the stock flow gracefully and seamlessly into the action. The set triggers contributed to the fine shooting for which Old Betsy and Davy Crockett were famous.

Restoration like this is vital for the preservation of historical objects because condition often dictates how much importance is attached to preserving an object, no matter how significant its history. One only has to spend time at the European museums, with their concentration on gold-embellished nobleman’s weapons, to the exclusion of the day-to-day weapons that history was actually written with, to see the importance of eye appeal to a museum curator. Too many damaged pieces of great historical interest have been junked over the years because of their incomplete, damaged and poor condition. Joe Swann’s commissioning the restoration of Old Betsy was the best thing he could have done to ensure it’s long-term survival. Joe is a leading Davy Crockett historian and a fine gentleman who Davy would be proud to see taking such good care of his first rifle.

Old Betsy’s elegantly sculpted stock, with its patchbox, is typical of the best Pennsylvania/Kentucky rifles of the period.

In 1988, gun-maker Houston Morris decided to make an exact handmade replica of Old Betsy as she would have been when new. Over 100 photographs and 108 hours of study and mechanical drawings later, he was ready to start. The results were so good that the gun was the cover story of the January 1989 issue of Muzzle Blasts, the National Muzzleloading Rifle Association’s magazine.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Daniel Boone - Explorer

American explorer and frontiersman Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734, in a log cabin in Exeter Township, near Reading, Pennsylvania. His father, Squire Boone, Sr., was a blacksmith and a weaver who met his wife, Sarah Morgan, in Pennsylvania after emigrating from England.

Daniel, the couple's sixth child, received little formal education. Boone learned how to read and write from his mother, and his father taught him wilderness survival skills. Boone was given his first rifle when he was 12 years old. He quickly proved himself a talented woodsman and hunter, boldly shooting his first bear when most children his age were too frightened. At age 15, Boone moved with his family to Rowan County, North Carolina, on the Yadkin River, where he started his own hunting business.

In 1755, Boone left home on a military expedition that was part of the French and Indian War. He served as a wagoner for Brigadier General Edward Braddock during his army's calamitous defeat at Turtle Creek, near modern-day Pittsburgh. A skilled survivor, Daniel Boone saved his own life by escaping the French and Indian ambush on horseback.

In August 1756, Boone wed Rebecca Bryan, and the couple set up stakes in the Yadkin Valley. Over a 24-year period, the couple would have 10 children together. At first Boone found himself content with what he described as the perfect ingredients to a happy life: "A good gun, a good horse and a good wife." But adventure stories Boone had heard from a teamster while on march ignited Boone's interest in exploring the American frontier.
In 1767, Daniel Boone led his own expedition for the first time. The hunting trip along the Big Sandy River in Kentucky worked its way westward as far as Floyd County.
In May 1769, Boone led another expedition with John Finley, the teamster Boone had marched with during the French and Indian War, and four other men. Under Boone's leadership, the team of explorers discovered a trail to the far west though the Cumberland Gap. The trail would become the means by which the public would access the frontier.
Boone took his discovery a step further in April 1775. While working for Richard Henderson's Transylvania Company, he directed colonists to an area in Kentucky he named Boonesborough, where he set up fort to claim the settlement from the Indians. That same year he brought his own family west to live on the settlement and became its leader.
Local Shawnee and Cherokee tribes met Boone's settlement of the Kentucky land with resistance. In July 1776, the tribes kidnapped Boone's daughter Jemima. Luckily, he was able to release his daughter. The next year, Boone was shot in the ankle during an Indian attack, but eventually recovered. When 1778 rolled around, Boone was himself captured by the Shawnee.
He managed to escape and resume protecting his land settlement, but was soon robbed of Boonesborough settlers' money while on his way to buy land permits. The settlers were furious with Boone and demanded he repay his debt to them; some even sued. By 1788, Boone left the Kentucky settlement he had worked so hard to protect and relocated to Point Pleasant, in what is now West Virginia. After serving as lieutenant colonel and legislative delegate of his county there, Boone pulled up stakes again and moved to Missouri, where he continued to hunt for the remainder of his life.
On September 26, 1820, Daniel Boone died of natural causes at his home in Femme Osage Creek, Missouri. He was 85 years old. More than two decades after his death, his body was exhumed and reburied in Kentucky. Regardless of the outlandish folklore surrounding his figure, Boone indeed existed and is still remembered as one of the greatest woodsmen in American history.

Israel and Jemima Boone

They may have argued every now and then, but when the chips were down, they always stood strong together.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fess & Marcy - Good Times!

Fess and Marcy being interviewed back in the day.

Would Love To Find This Article Online


The Ballad of Davy Crockett - One Of The Top 100 Western Songs Of All Time

"The Ballad of Davy Crockett" is a song with music by George Bruns and lyrics by Thomas W. Blackburn.

It was introduced on ABC's television series Disneyland, in the premiere episode of October 27, 1954. Fess Parker is shown performing the song on a log cabin set in frontiersman clothes, accompanied by similarly attired musicians. The song would later be heard throughout the Disneyland television miniseries Davy Crockett, first telecast on December 15, 1954. Parker played the role of Davy Crockett and continued in four other episodes made by Walt Disney Studios. It was sung by The Wellingtons. Buddy Ebsen co-starred as George "Georgie" Russel, and Jeff York played legendary boatman Mike Fink.

The first album version was recorded by Bill Hayes, quickly followed by versions by Fess Parker and Tennessee Ernie Ford (recorded on February 7, 1955). All three versions made the Billboard magazine charts in 1955: Hayes' version made #1 on the weekly chart (from March 26 through April 23) and #7 for the year, Parker's reached #6 on the weekly charts and #31 for the year, while Ford's peaked at #4 on the weekly country chart and #5 on the weekly pop chart and charted at #37 for the year. A fourth version, by bluegrass singer Mac Wiseman, reached #10 on the radio charts in May 1955. The song also reached #1 on the Cash Box charts, from March 26 through May 14, 1955. A contemporary version also exists by Western singing group the Sons of the Pioneers. Over ten million copies of the song were sold.

In the United Kingdom, Hayes' version reached #2 in the New Musical Express chart; Ford's version achieved #3, and a version by UK singer Max Bygraves reached #20. Several other British artistes recorded versions in 1955 and 1956, including Billy Cotton, Gary Miller, Ronnie Ronalde and Dick James.

Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.  Click on the picture below to hear the song.

Helping Someone Deal With Loss

Fess Parker as Jim Coates in Old Yeller

  1. Be a good listener. ...
  2. Respect the person's way of grieving. ...
  3. Accept mood swings. ...
  4. Avoid giving advice. ...
  5. Refrain from trying to explain the loss. ...
  6. Help out with practical tasks. ...
  7. Stay connected and available. ...
  8. Offer words that touch the heart. ...
  9. Recognize they'll never forget. ...
10. Remind them not to focus on the bad and forget the good.

Tommy Kirk as Travis Coates in Old Yeller

Dorothy McGuire with Fess Parker in Old Yeller

Fess Parker in "Hell Is For Heroes"

Hell Is for Heroes is a 1962 American war film directed by Don Siegel and starring Fess Parker, Steve McQueen and a host of others. It tells the story of a squad of U.S. soldiers from the 95th Infantry Division who, in the fall of 1944, must hold off an entire German company for approximately 48 hours along the Siegfried Line until reinforcements reach them.

Montigny, Meurthe-et-Moselle, 1944: Squad leader Sergeant Larkin (Harry Guardino) and his men are taking a well-deserved rest behind the lines after conducting front-line combat operations for several weeks. Rumor has it the unit will be rotated state-side and the men are almost giddy in anticipation. During an interlude at a church and later at a tavern, the senior non-commissioned officer, Platoon Sergeant Pike (Fess Parker), happens upon acquaintance Private John Reese (Steve McQueen) who has been assigned to his platoon. Reese was a former master sergeant, demoted to private after a court martial, who walks about armed with a distinctive M3 submachine gun. Reese is the quintessential troubled loner, managing to alienate almost everyone in the squad right from the beginning. Unlike his jubilant comrades, the prospect of a long break from combat, perhaps the end of the war itself, renders Reese morose. The company commander, Captain Loomis (Joseph Hoover), is worried because Reese, although already having won a Distinguished Service Cross, acts irresponsibly when there is no fighting, but Pike comments that he is a good soldier in combat.

Pike informs the men that they will shortly be going back on the line rather than home. After much bitter complaining, the men get ready to move out. The remaining members of 2nd Squad include con-man/scavenger Corby (Bobby Darin); Corporal Henshaw (James Coburn), a mechanic who can fix anything; the easy-going, somewhat-naive kid, Cumberly (Bill Mullikin); and family man Kolinsky (Mike Kellin). The squad has their own mascot, a young Polish displaced person Homer Janeczek (Nick Adams), who is not a soldier, but stays with the squad in hopes of accompanying the men upon their return to the United States. The morning after they arrive at their appointed post and dig in, the men realize that an unannounced overnight withdrawal of the main American force has left them spread dangerously thin. Finally, Pike arrives to explain the situation, which only heightens everyone's awareness that any reconnaissance by the Germans across the valley will quickly reveal how weak the American defenses are there.

One stroke of good luck is the sudden and mistaken arrival of an Army company clerk, Private First Class James Driscoll (Bob Newhart in his first film role). Larkin quickly puts Driscoll’s jeep to use by having Henshaw drive it back and forth behind their lines, after rigging it to backfire and sound like a tank, in an attempt to fool the Germans. Driscoll himself is put to use improvising misleading radio messages for a hidden microphone, discovered by Corby, left by the Germans in an abandoned pillbox (Newhart was noted for his telephone conversation skits in his stand-up comedy routines). Additionally, Larkin has his men run wire to three empty ammo cans, partially filled with rocks and hung from trees, distributed along gaps in their front lines, which they can pull to create noise to make the Germans believe that a much larger American force is present.

A German raid results in Cumberly's death, but Reese manages to eliminate three Germans in close combat. Worried that the German survivors will report on the understrength of American lines, Reese recommends attacking a large, opposing German pillbox, flanked by a minefield and barbed wire, to make the enemy pause and convince them the Americans are at normal strength. Larkin, fearing an overwhelming enemy assault on their positions, decides to go find Pike and obtain his permission for the pillbox attack. Unable to locate Pike because he has gone to the rear, Larkin returns and berates Pike when he finds out Henshaw, whom Larkin had put in charge in his absence, had been convinced by Reese to go to a supply dump to obtain satchel charges. After a heated argument with Reese, Larkin is killed in an artillery barrage. Reese decides to proceed without orders and two others, Henshaw and Kolinsky, go along. Shortly after they set out, Sgt. Pike and the rest of the company begins to return to the line.

The squad's attack fails when Henshaw accidentally sets off an undetected S-mine, fatally burning with the exploding flamethrower tanks he carries, as well as illuminating the battlefield. Reese and Kolinsky retreat, covered by smoke from the company mortar squad. As they run back to their lines, Kolinsky is struck by shrapnel through the back and abdomen, and finally dies, screaming about his guts, as a medic and others attend to his wounds.

A furious Captain Loomis berates Reese and promises him a court-martial for defying orders to hold the line, but only after the American assault at dawn. The dominant German pillbox fires on the advancing Americans, who press on despite heavy casualties. Determined to eliminate the pillbox, Reese gets within striking range, aided by Corby, manning a flamethrower. Reese throws a satchel charge into the pillbox, but, in the process, is wounded in the back and stomach. When the unexploded satchel charge is tossed out by the alert defenders, the wounded Reese retrieves it and carries it back through the pillbox opening, blowing up the fortification's occupants and himself. Corby, at Pike's command, directs his flamethrower at the blown-out pillbox window, until it is engulfed with fire, as the Americans continue to advance, and fall, to other unseen German weapons.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

My Cup Runneth Over

Daniel Boone

Called the 'Great Pathfinder', Daniel Boone is most famous for opening up the West to settlers through Kentucky. A symbol of America's pioneering spirit Boone was a skilled outdoorsman and an avid reader although he never attended school.