Monday, February 25, 2008

Duck You, Cowboy! My Town Monday

Put on your boots. For this week's edition of My Town Monday, we're stepping back in time to the Old West.


As Design Goddess pointed out in the comments of last weeks, My Town Monday, Amarillo is the Spanish word for yellow, so named for the bright yellow wildflowers that grew along a natural creek and lake that ran along the original town site. Ah-mah-REE-yoh is the correct Spanish pronunciation, but around here it is pronounced Am-ah-RILL-oh, or Am-ah-RILL-uh.


But Amarillo wasn't the original town name. Oneida was, and even though today, Amarillo is the largest city and economic center of the Texas Panhandle, Western New Mexico, Oklahoma Panhandle, and Southwestern Kansas, that wasn't always the case.


The original town wasn't even staked out until Spring of 1887. Soon after, the railroad chose a path through Amarillo and the town quickly became a major cattle shipping center and started an agriculture economy which is still strong to this day.


But before that, Tascosa was the bustling community in these parts. Tascosa was a rough and tumble town and along with Dodge City, Kansas the site of a famous "BootHill" cemetery. So named, because most of it's perpetual residents were men who died violent deaths with their boots on. And the story behind Tascosa's first boothill resident (planted sometime in 1880) is quite interesting.



Sheriff Cape Willingham was inside The Equity Bar, just one of Tascosa'a drinking establishments when he heard a woman screaming outside. Women were few and far between in town and reputable gals even scarcer so when he rushed out to find one of the virtuous screaming something about a duck, he sought to straighten out the chaos.



"He shot my duck!" The woman screamed and pointed first at the headless duck at her feet, and then at a man across the dirt street.


The sheriff looked over at the accused, Fred Leigh. The man was the foreman of a the nearby LS Ranch, but he was also a known drunkard who'd been warned before about carrying a firearm while in town.


The lawman calmed the woman by telling her he'd make sure the man paid restitution, and armed with a sawed-off double barrel shotgun approached the shooter.

"Fred, did you shoot that woman's duck?"
The cowboy spit into the dusty street. "Not until it spooked my horse."
"You'll be paying the woman fair market price."
"Hell if I will. I ain't paying for no duck."
"I'm the sheriff and I --"


In that instant Fred reached for his six shooter and the sheriff unleashed two barrels worth of buckshot straight into the cowboy's torso. Tumbling out of the saddle Fred hit the dirt dead as ... well, dead as a duck.

So the Fred Leigh became the first grave in Tascosa's boothill, and he gave his life because a duck had frightened his horse.


By 1930, a flood and the lack of rail service had left Tascosa a ghost town, but the place was later resurrected as a refuge for troubled boys. Cal Farley's Boys Ranch still inhabits the original site of Tascosa and has provided care for thousands of young men and women, and if you listen carefully, on a still quiet night ...

You just might hear the faint whispering of a duck quacking and a cowboy cursing.




As usual, I will post links below for all who participate, so drop me a comments once you get your entry up.

Sex Scenes At Starbucks -- Is there a better blog name out there? Find out about life in the Colorado high country.

Alex Keto -- My Town Monday's resident globetrotter takes on Manhattan.

Terrie Farley Moran - Terrie offers a nostalgic look at New York City over at the Women of Mystery blog.

Barrie Summy -- A spooky look at San Diego, California.

Stephen Parrish -- Bad Kreuznach, Germany. Now that is some town name and after reading Stephen's first post I'm already to hop on a plane and pay the spa town a visit.

DebbieLou -- Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshsire England. Sounds like she has plenty of history to draw on for future posts.

Carleen Brice -- A look at independent book store in Denver on the eve of her book signing.

Pattinase -- A sad lament about the loss of her local Detroit newspapers viability.

Polka Dot Witch -- This week's edition delves deeper into the history of Castleton-on-Hudson, New York with a look at the original inhabitants, The Mohicans.

Britta Coleman -- Shares with us how down to earth life in Texas is, even in a big city like Fort Worth.

WordVixen -- Another look at Lancaster, Pennsylvania that will leave you hungry for more.

Lyzzydee -- We welcome another newcomer to My Town Monday's with an introduction to Welwyn Garden City, England.

Alex Keto -- Yep, he's back. Alex appears to be an overachiever when it comes to taking about towns so here is an explosive post about Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

30 comments:

sex scenes at starbucks said...

okay, I'll play.

Barrie said...

I'm doing a post about San Diego. What a great idea, Travis. And I linked back to you! It'll be up in a jiffy. As soon as blogger uploads my photos. :)

And....dead as a duck? Ha, ha!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Travis,

I loved this post. You keep posting and I'll keep singing Jason Aldean's "Amarillo Sky."

My NYC post is up on Women of Mystery and it links to both you and Alex Keto.

Terrie

Debbielou said...

Hi Travis - Have written my first installment for "My Town Monday"

The Duck said...

Quack

deborah elliott-upton said...

"Amarillo is the Spanish word for yellow, so named for the bright yellow wildflowers that grew along a natural creek and lake that ran along the original town site."

Um, hate to correct you, but Amarillo is named for its yellowish dirt, hence the Spanish word, Amarillo.Okay, actually, I enjoy correcting you sometimes. :-)

Bina said...

Holy crap. I LOVE the Duck story, and you sure do know a lot about your town. I was born and raised in Leavittsburg, Ohio, and now I've lived in Clarkville, TN since '93, and still don't know much about EITHER town!

I like this game, but sure wouldn't be able to participate!

Melissa Marsh said...

Of all the things to get killed over...a duck!

I completely forgot it was My Town Monday last night when I posted last night (I'm naughty and do my Monday posts on Sunday nights, too!).

sex scenes at starbucks said...

You're so sweet!

You've inspired me to create an award. More later...

Travis Erwin said...

Debbie has called me out and I'm going to argue this one, partly because Debbie is fun to argue with.

It is my understanding that the Amarillo lake and creek were named after the yellow dirt along their banks but that railroad personnel, scouting the area started referring to the town of Oneida as Amarillo because of the bloom of wildflowers.

Then when Henry Sanborn staked out another town just to the east of the original he called it Amarillo because he wanted to lure the railroad into choosing the area as a depot and that was the name they they identified the area with.

Ello said...

I'd like to join in, but should I do my hometown which is Brooklyn or where I live now, which is Maryland?

Travis Erwin said...

Ello, whichever you prefer or do both on an alternating basis.

Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't know Amarillo was named after a flower. Liked the story of the duck.

Lana Gramlich said...

I only just realized I forgot today's "My Town Monday" post! I'll catch up again either later today or next Monday. I'm going to have to note it in my journal, I think...

Merry Monteleone said...

"Of all the things to get killed over...a duck!"

- oh, well, at least we got a good story out of it...

I didn't participate this week, but maybe next week I'll do something to play... loved this post and the whole idea - I'll be following links for the next two days...

By the way, I got the cd today!!! Thank you so much - I'll let you know how I like it when I've had a chance to listen to the whole thing, but Pat Green's one of my favorites, and you included two of his, so that's a good omen, I'd say.

polkadotwitch said...

mine's up here. i'll be back soon to travel to your towns ...

booklady said...

This is a great idea! I'm having fun reading everyone's posts about their towns. Thanks for doing this, and for sharing the links.

Britta Coleman said...

Mine's up...

And I'm loving the "origins of Amarillo" dialogue between you and Debbie.

spyscribbler said...

I know so very little about my town. Like nothing. Oh, actually, I guess I know a few things. I'm going to have to do this in a week or two!

I love your posts. ANd everyone else's. You guys make setting more interesting!

WordVixen said...

Sorry I'm late! I wasn't feeling good, and forgot totally about it until just a few hours ago!

Here's my entry: http://questtowrite.blogspot.com/2008/02/lancaster-pennsylvania-why-here.html

lyzzydee said...

Hi Travis,
I have blogged the first thrilling installment of my town on a monday .....on Tuesday, I am always late!!

angel, jr. said...

The image of a cowboy cursing and a duck quacking is funny to me.

alex keto said...

Overachiever? Huh?

I've been called a sorry piece of XXXX and a lot of other things, but never that.

Shauna said...

Great post. I'm enjoying learning a little more about Texas.

The Anti-Wife said...

I love all these posts. They're so interesting. Thanks for doing this. Hopefully by next week I'll have my act together enough to join in.

Ello said...

OK - I'll be ready for next Monday, Travis! I am loving these posts! They are kind of like little travelogues!

Cicily Janus said...

All I'm going to say is She's right! You need to follow up this blog with a book.

Your whit never ceases to make me laugh.

Yours,

C

Shauna Roberts said...

Very entertaining post! Great story about the duck. Once I moved to California and started learning Spanish, I wondered how Amarillo got its name.

tiggysmum70 said...

I would like to join your My Town Mondays. I will probably blog about my hometown in Ohio rather than the town which I am living in right now. But could I choose both if the topic relates? That would be fun too!!!

Thanks for stopping by this week Travis!

M

Design Goddess said...

Man, never knew I could inspire a blog post! How exciting!!! :)

Been a while, so I'll be catching up here.