From Ancient Origins: A team of archaeologists and anthropologists from the University of Michigan found something highly unusual while exploring the underwater realms of Lake Huron in the Great Lakes region. Supervised by their team leader, anthropologist John O’Shea, they were digging on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge, a narrow land corridor occupied by Native Americans before it was permanently flooded 8,000 years ago. While sorting through a sample of rocks that showed signs of being altered by human hands, they found two shiny glass shards of obsidian that had apparently flaked off some sort of sharp-edged tool. Further analysis showed that this obsidian was from Oregon, pointing to little-understood ancient long-distance trade networks.
Wagontire lies in the sage country about 150 miles to the east of us.
I have developed quite an interest in trade networks as they apply to frontier history — since trade drives human history, after all — and it never ceases to amaze me how broad, deep and old those networks are.
I expect to have the next Frontier Partisans Podcast up by the end of the month. Between a very busy spring at the newspaper and cheering daughter Ceili across the finish line in her college career, I had to back-burner the podcast for a bit. It’s shaping up to be a two-parter on Jim Bridger, with the first part focusing on his young manhood as one of the preeminent Mountain Man, and the second focusing on his life as a trader and scout in a West that was getting settled up at a startling pace.
I am simultaneously researching for a podcast on The Pleasant Valley War. I had intended to head to Africa, but delving into Frederick Russell Burnham’s Scouting on Two Continents (again) pushed my onto this sidetrail. The Pleasant Valley War, or Graham-Tewksbury Feud as it’s also known, has long fascinated me. It was the deadliest feud/range war in the West, running from the mid-1880s to 1892. It features some of the most interesting characters in frontier history in one of the most compelling Western landscapes. The story lends itself very well to the podcasting format. That one will definitely be a multi-parter.
Speaking of podcasts…
I listened last night to two good ’uns, both part of The Most Notorious true crime history series. The first was on the Power Shootout in Arizona in 1918.
On February 10, 1918, the Power family, holed up in their cabin in Arizona’s isolated Galiuro Mountains, suddenly found themselves surrounded by a small posse. Law enforcement officials were there to arrest two of the Power sons for draft evasion. After a few minutes of confusion, a shootout ensued, tragically ending with four casualties. Adding to the drama, the only daughter of the family had died under mysterious circumstances two months earlier.
My guest is Heidi Osselaer, retired professor and author. Her book is called “Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight: Draft Resistance & Tragedy at the Power Cabin, 1918.” She was also a consultant on the award-winning documentary, Powers War.
In the southeastern corner of 1901 Wyoming, cattle ranchers were furious that sheep were destroying valuable range land. When Willie Nickell, the son of a local sheep rancher was found murdered near his home, legendary gunman Tom Horn was one of the first men suspected of the lowdown crime.
My guest is John W. Davis – retired Wyoming attorney, historian and author, who joins me to share stories about the arrest, trial and execution of one of the Old West’s most fascinating and dangerous characters. His book is called The Trial of Tom Horn.
Going to have to cache some plews for this one…
All of the men and women featured on these pages shared an unquenchable thirst for adventure, and a remarkable ability to survive in the face of extreme hardship and dangerous encounters in the wild outdoors. Spanning the years from 1800 to the mid-1900s, the careers of these dedicated hunters and explorers were filled with all sorts of adversity and challenges, which they somehow managed to overcome.
Consider the amazing story of frontiersman Hugh Glass.Savagely attacked by a grizzly, Old Hugh was left to die by two of his fellow soldiers. Though severely injured, he began a weeks-long ordeal of crawling and eventually limping more than 250 miles, eating whatever he could find—including a rattlesnake— to sustain him on his harrowing journey. On the way he had to fight off an attack by Indians before he finally reached the safety of his fort.
That same unyielding determination to survive the worst possible conditions can likewise be found in the Arctic research expeditions of John Torrington and Adolphus Greeley, who were stranded on ice floes for more than a year.
Sir John Seerey-Lester devoted almost three years in researching and writing about these and other eminently fascinating characters, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Revered as two of the world’s greatest leaders, both men journeyed to Africa to hunt the Dark Continent’s dangerous game.
Altogether, these pages relive the most compelling stories of 25 acclaimed hunters and explorers, all complemented by more than 120 paintings of wildlife from around the world.