Monday, June 28, 2010

Double Quacker - A My Town Monday Post

This being Monday and all it is once again time for My Town Monday. Clare Toohey AKA Clare2E, of the world renowned Women of Mystery blog hosts the 4th Monday of each month so if you have a post about your current, former, or heck even future place of residence let her know and she'll get you linked. The Women of Mystery can be found here, and the official My Town Monday Blog is here.

Yeah I'm cheating and offering up a repeat from several years back, but in my defense I drove all day Friday and Saturday and I spent most of the day Sunday picking, pitting, and otherwise prepping cherries to assist my friends in their annual making of both cherry wine and cherry liquor.

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 the 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 "Boot Hill" 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's drinking establishments when he heard a woman scream. Women were few and far between in town, and reputable gals even scarcer, so when he rushed out to find one of the virtuous shouting 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 Fred Leigh became the first grave in Tascosa's boot hill, 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.

I'd love to learn something interesting about your slice of the global pie, so please consider joining in this week or any other Monday.

Quack, quack.


Gabriele Goldstone said...

Amirillo and yellow flowers will now forever be etched in my mind. Making cherry wine with friends some like a great excuse to re-post.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

By Gawd, they took their ducks seriously in the wild, wild west.

Clare2e said...

That's where they got the slogan, right?
Don't Mess with Ducks-es!

Old Kitty said...

Is the duck story really true? I love it - I love the whole madness of it. If ever I'm around that part of the world, I shall seek out the grave of one Fred Leigh - shooter of ducks because one spooked his horse!:-)

Lovely post and thanks for the pronunciation of Amarillo!

Take care

pattinase (abbott) said...

I do love cherries!

Barbara Martin said...

A great story, Travis. Love those western themes.

Cloudia said...

cool post!

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

the walking man said...

There has to be a first one in every cemetery at least Tascosa has an interesting, remembered story for the first one to inhabit the place. dis the sheriff sell the horse to pay for the duck?

Jewel Allen said...

Love that name Amarillo over Oneida. Your story quacked me up!

Barrie said...

You can't beat a story from the Old West!

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