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Top 10 Fascinating Yet Obscure Gangs Of The Wild West

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H/T Listverse.

This is a look at gangs from the Wild West that were never mentioned in history books.

 

Thanks mostly to Hollywood, many Wild West outlaws have reached folk hero status. Even today, people know gangs like the Wild Bunch, the Dalton Gang, or Billy the Kid and his Regulators, and their reputations are such that many would tremble at the thought of going back in time and meeting any of them in person.

But history doesn’t treat everyone equally. When some figures are pushed to the front, others are necessarily relegated to the background. These next entries are not well-remembered today, but their exploits formed a fascinating contribution to the lore of the Wild West.

 

 

 10 The Rio Grande Posse

 


The Rio Grande Posse, active during the 1870s and 1880s, was also known as the John Kinney Gang after its founder and leader. Kinney, a military man, was discharged from the US Army in 1865 and started his gang, focusing primarily on cattle rustling and robbery. The gang contained members who would go on to become more prominent figures of the Wild West. They included Jesse Evans, who went on to form his own gang, and Charles “Pony Diehl” Ray, who later joined Curly Bill Brocius during his famous fights against the Earp brothers.[1]

The Kinney Gang’s defining moment came in 1878, when it took part in the Lincoln County War, fighting against Billy the Kid and his Regulators. According to legend, Kinney got part of his ear shot off by Billy during a gunfight. When the feud was over, some of the men stayed with Kinney, while others broke off and joined Evans’s new gang.

The end of the posse came in 1883, when Kinney was arrested for cattle rustling. By the time he was released, everyone else was either dead or in jail. Kinney avoided returning to a life of crime and instead joined the Army again during the Spanish-American War.

9The Bummers

 


While most of the West’s infamous groups made a name for themselves through cattle rustling, robberies, and gunfights, the Colorado Territory was plagued by a less ambitious bunch. They were a group of lowlifes, losers, and layabouts known as the Bummers, headed by Eddie “Shooter” Coleman.

They mostly targeted a mining settlement called Auraria, today a part of Denver. The Bummers usually resorted to petty theft and vandalism, taking advantage of the fact that the territory had not been incorporated yet and lacked any official law enforcement. At night, they would get loud, drunk, and rambunctious, firing their guns in the air as a display of intimidation toward the law-abiding citizens of the town.

Eventually, the Bummers went too far. Over the Christmas holiday of 1859, the ne’er-do-wells stole a farmer’s wagon full of birds intended for Christmas dinners, triggering the colorfully named Turkey War.[2] The townsfolk had finally had enough and gathered a vigilante posse. The two groups clashed. One Bummer was killed during the fight, and a few more were promptly lynched. The rest of the gang got the message—they left town and went their separate ways.

8 The Innocents

 


The Innocents were either the most vicious, bloodthirsty gang in the history of the Old West or patsies who were used by an equally bloodthirsty group of vigilantes. It all depends on who you ask.

First, the official version: The Innocents were a group of highwaymen active throughout the Montana Territory during the gold rush, preying on travelers carrying gold between cities. They were led by a corrupt sheriff named Henry Plummer and had killed over 100 people before they were stopped by a vigilante group. Most of the Innocents, sheriff included, wound up hanging from trees following brief trials or, in some cases, no trials at all.

That was the official story for over a century, but historians in recent decades began to question if the Innocents were such a prolific gang or, indeed, if they existed at all. There are records of multiple gold robberies and murders during that time, but little evidence connects them together, let alone implicates one single gang. The dozens of alleged victims of the Innocents were cut into pieces and buried, burned, or dumped under ice, but none of them were found. Neither was their stolen treasure.

The official story was believed for so long because it came from a reputable source. Many of the vigilantes became prominent figures of Montana’s early years as a state. This included Thomas Dimsdale, Montana’s first newspaper editor and the author of The Vigilantes of Montana.[3]

People’s opinions of the Innocents were exemplified perfectly by Sheriff Henry Plummer’s posthumous trial in 1993. The verdict split 6-6, ending in a mistrial.

7 The Jennings Gang

The Jennings Gang was proof that, even in the Wild West, not everyone was cut out for a life of crime. Formed by lawyers-turned-criminals Al (pictured above) and Frank Jennings, the eponymous gang was initially feared because it also included former Wild Bunch member Richard “Little Dick” West. However, the gang’s short-lived criminal career only spanned a few months in 1897.

Active in Oklahoma, they tried to rob a few trains, stores, and a post office, but none of their heists proved financially fruitful. One general store only had $15, and during one train robbery, they blew up an empty safe. Given their criminal incompetence, the gang was soon arrested. Only “Little Dick” managed to escape, and he died in a gunfight a year later.

More interesting was Al Jennings’s career following his five-year stint in jail. After receiving a presidential pardon in 1907, Jennings got into politics and successfully won the Democratic nomination for Oklahoma County attorney in 1912. He ran on a platform of honesty, openly talking about his criminal past.

While Jennings didn’t win, he attracted the attention of Hollywood and launched his fourth career as a silent film actor. His filmography included two dozen acting credits, including a starring role in a 1914 biopic about his life titled Beating Back. Jennings put his newfound popularity to good use and ran for governor Oklahoma. He finished third out of six in the Democratic primaries.[4]

6 The Red Jack Gang

The Red Jack Gang was active in the early 1880s, targeting stagecoaches along the San Pedro River in Arizona. The leader was “Red Jack” Almer, noted for his ginger hair and pale complexion, which gave him a youthful, almost feminine appearance.

Although the gang pulled off several successful heists, their most memorable haul came on August 10, 1883, when they robbed a Florence-Globe Stagecoach carrying a Wells Fargo strongbox holding a fortune in gold. Prior to the robbery, Almer got on the stagecoach as a passenger to ensure it was transporting valuable loot. Conflicting reports say that he either got off before the robbery or stayed on and somehow signaled his partners. According to one colorful legend, Red Jack also took advantage of his appearance by wearing a dress and disguising himself as a woman to deflect suspicion.[5]

Whatever the truth might be, the gang made off with thousands of dollars in gold, which was never recovered. However, their exploits also put the law on their trail, and several posses tracked them down one by one. Almer himself was killed in a gunfight by Earp associate Sheriff Bob Paul.

 

 

5 The Ketchum Gang

Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum (pictured above) started out his criminal career with his older brother, Sam, in the mid-1890s. The two were rumored to have been behind the 1896 disappearance and presumed murder of Texas senator Albert Fountain and his eight-year-old son, Henry. The brothers were involved in a bloody shootout that same year after robbing a store. The owner, Levi Herzstein, rounded up a small four-man posse and pursued the criminals. A gunfight ensued, in which Levi and a companion were killed, and the other two barely escaped with their lives.[6]

As the Ketchum Gang grew, they began targeting trains and stagecoaches. By this point, the gang included several prominent outlaws who would go on to join Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, such as Ben “Tall Texan” Kilpatrick and Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan.

In 1899, the gang, led by Sam Ketchum, robbed a train without Tom. Although successful, they were pursued by a posse and engaged in a gunfight where several members were either killed or fatally injured, including Sam.

Shortly thereafter, Black Jack tried to rob a train single-handedly. However, the conductor recognized him and blew off his right arm with a shotgun blast. Afterward, Ketchum was captured and arrested. The violent man met a fittingly violent end. His hanging was botched, and Ketchum was decapitated in front of a shocked audience.

4 The Dodge City Gang

 

Unlike other entries on this list, the Dodge City Gang had high aspirations and aimed to dominate the political and economic life of a booming Las Vegas, New Mexico, through corruption, intimidation, and violence.

The gang was active for a few months in 1879. It was mostly composed of gunslingers who fought together during Railroad Wars in New Mexico. The leader was Hyman Neill, also known as Hoodoo Brown.[7] He parlayed his reputation as a gunfighter into a position as justice of the peace with the promise of stamping out corruption. Instead, he installed his fellow gunslingers into positions of law enforcement. Joe Carson, “Mysterious” Dave Mather, and Dave Rudabaugh became chief of police, deputy marshal, and policeman, respectively.

Carson was soon killed in a shoot-out. Despite their successful positions, the gang members couldn’t refrain from the occasional robbery. Eventually, a deputy named John Sherman assembled enough honest men to catch the criminals in the act. Most of them were arrested. Mather was acquitted and went on to build a fearsome reputation as a gunfighter before vanishing from the history books. Although Hoodoo Brown didn’t take part in the robbery, the people knew he was involved, and an angry mob ran him out of town.

3 The Jack Taylor Gang


Active throughout the Arizona Territory and Mexico during the mid-1880s, the Jack Taylor Gang gained a fearsome reputation for being cruel and quick to draw. They once murdered four passengers during a single train robbery and four more train crew members on different occasions.

The beginning of the end for the gang came in 1887, in Mexico, when the eponymous leader was captured by Rurales and sentenced to life in prison.[8]The rest of the gang returned to Arizona. However, this brought them under the purview of Cochise County sheriff “Texas” John Slaughter, who was tipped off to their presence, swiftly rounded up a posse, and went in pursuit.

There were four members left: Manuel Robles, Fred Federico, Geronimo Miranda, and Nieves Deron. Foolishly, they thought they could hide out with relatives and visited Robles’ brother in Contention City. Slaughter learned of this and stormed the house where Deron and Robles were sleeping, prompting a gunfight. Deron was killed, and Robles, although shot, managed to escape and rendezvous with Miranda and Federico later. The men left Arizona and moved again into Mexican territory.

All three remaining members of the Jack Taylor Gang met their end later that year. Robles and Miranda both died in a shootout with the Mexican Rurales. Federico shot a deputy sheriff and was captured and hanged soon after.

2 The McCanles Gang

The event that took place on July 21, 1861, at Rock Creek Station, Nebraska, became known as the McCanles Massacre. According to certain accounts, three men acted in self-defense against a ruthless gang looking to start trouble. Others, however, contend that the McCanles Gang never really existed and that those same three men committed cold-blooded murder to get out of a debt. Whatever the truth might be, the shootout helped start the legend of Wild Bill Hickok.

David McCanles (pictured above) owned the property that the Rock Street Station was built on and where a then-unknown James Butler Hickok workedas a stock tender. According to the popular story, he was also a ruthless outlaw who terrorized the region with his gang. On that fateful day, McCanles and two of his men, James Woods and James Gordon, came to collect payment from the station manager, Horace Wellman. When the manager didn’t have the full sum, McCanles turned violent and tried to kill him.

Luckily for Wellman, Hickok and another stock tender named Brink were present and jumped to his aid. In the ensuing shootout, McCanles and his two henchmen were gunned down. Hickok was later charged with murder but acquitted.

There’s another version of the story, one told by McCanles’s 12-year-old son Monroe, who was there but wasn’t allowed to testify due to his age.[9] He claimed his father and his men came unarmed and were gunned down without provocation by Hickok, Wellman, and Brink. Wellman then tried to kill Monroe with a hoe but missed, and the boy managed to make a run for it.

1 The Reynolds Gang

 


The true nature of the Reynolds Gang is disputed, but few would argue against the fact that they had a fascinating history mostly forgotten today. They were Confederate soldiers who became outlaws, targeting the Colorado Territory. Led by Jim and John Reynolds, they primarily robbed coaches passing through the Kenosha Pass and weren’t above shedding blood from time to time.

Some historians contend that the gang remained loyal to the Confederacy. They were under military orders to disrupt Union supply lines, and the stolen money was to be saved and sent back to the Confederate Army. Whatever the real story, people eventually had enough and formed a posse. They caught up to the gang on July 31, 1864, and a gunfight ensued. One outlaw died, and five others were captured shortly. Only John Reynolds and Jack Stowe managed to escape into New Mexico.[10]

Afterward came another bit of controversy. The official story said that the prisoners were gunned down during a failed escape attempt. However, an inquiry by Confederate sympathizers revealed that the men were chained to a tree and executed under the orders of Colonel Chivington, the same man who orchestrated the Sand Creek Massacre.

Fast-forward seven years, and John Reynolds was partnered with a man named Al Brown. After being fatally injured during a gunfight, Reynolds allegedly told Brown where he buried the money stolen with his gang. Brown traveled to Mount Logan but was unable to find the loot due to a landslide altering the landscape. Since then, treasure hunters have been eagerly searching the area, hoping to uncover Reynolds’s lost treasure.

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10 Outlaws Of The Public Enemy Era Almost Forgotten By History

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H/T Listverse.

We always hear of the Capones the Gotti’s and John Dillinger but very little if anything about these gangsters.

The term “public enemy” first began being used in the United States during the 1920s. The FBI later adopted the term in its early days to describe wanted criminals. Add to this the fact that Prohibition and the Great Depression sent crime rates soaring, and several historians refer to that period of US history as the “public enemy era.”

It was the time of mobsters and bank robbers. Like the Wild West, people had a tendency to romanticize criminals of that period. Many outlaws like Bonnie and Clyde or John Dillinger became pop culture icons. But the era was filled with many other villainous figures who have almost been consigned to oblivion today.

 

 

10 The Barkers,The First Family Of Crime

The Barker gang enjoyed its fair bit of notoriety thanks mostly to its alleged leader and criminal mastermind, Kate “Ma” Barker. She has often been depicted as a heartless, calculating killer. However, historians have trouble establishing what criminal activity Ma Barker was involved in (if any).

While she certainly had knowledge of her sons’ illicit dealings, there is no evidence to suggest that Ma Barker took part in or planned any of it. In fact, Barker gang associate Harvey Bailey once said she “couldn’t plan breakfast.”[1]

The likely leader of the gang was Fred Barker (pictured above), Ma’s youngest son. Although the Barkers had been in trouble with the law for decades, it wasn’t until 1931, when Fred met Alvin Karpis in prison, that the gang officially formed. By this time, the oldest son, Herman Barker, had committed suicide while on the run for killing a sheriff’s deputy, and the second-youngest, Arthur Barker, was already in jail for gunning down a night watchman. Arthur was released from prison in 1932 and joined the gang, which was already responsible for multiple robberies and murders.

Unsurprisingly, all the Barkers met violent ends. Fred died in a shoot-out with FBI agents in 1935, in which Ma Barker was also killed. Arthur died trying to escape from Alcatraz. The remaining son, Lloyd Barker, was killed by his wife in 1949.

9 Egan’s Rats The Untouchables

At the peak of its power, the St. Louis–based gang known as Egan’s Rats boasted approximately 400 members. Its leaders openly discussed their criminal activities (including murder) in newspaper interviews without consequence. They were virtually untouchable because one of its founding members was a Missouri state senator.[2]

The gang emerged from the Irish slums of St. Louis during the late 19th century. It was led by two childhood pals—Thomas “Snake” Kinney and Thomas Egan. As the gang grew, Kinney went into local politics, running for the Democratic City Committee. Meanwhile, Egan and his thugs strong-armed people into voting for him. Kinney got elected, and the power of Egan’s Rats grew. They used the same tactic, but on a larger scale, in 1904, when Kinney successfully ran for state senator.

During the first quarter of the 20th century, the gang had a hand in almost all criminal activities in St. Louis. They dabbled in smuggling, bootlegging, extortion, and murder, although bank robberies and armored car hijackingsremained their preferred pastime.

By the 1920s, the gang’s influence had diminished. Both founders were dead, and Egan’s Rats, now led by William “Dint” Colbeck (pictured right above), were involved in a bloody war with a rival gang led by “Jelly Roll” Hogan. The final blows came in 1924—one imprisoned member started talking to prosecutors, and a failed mail robbery led to many important members receiving long prison sentences.

8 Roy Gardner The King Of The Escape Artists

In an era of outlaw gangs and mob outfits, Roy Gardner was a lone wolf. He pulled off his first score in 1920, when he robbed a mail truck in San Diego. He got caught three days later and sentenced to 25 years at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary.

This is where Gardner began his reputation as “King of the Escape Artists.” On the train ride to prison, Gardner yelled, “Look at that deer!” which caused enough of a distraction for him to disarm the guards and escape.[3]

Soon afterward, the lone wolf robbed a train but was caught days later. Again, he was sentenced to 25 years at McNeil. During the train ride, Gardner retrieved a pistol hidden in a bathroom by an associate and managed to escape. This time, he was recognized at a hotel, captured again, and given 25 years at McNeil.

The third time, Gardner actually arrived at the penitentiary, but he escaped six weeks later during a prison baseball game. He convinced two other inmates to run with him, telling them he’d paid off the guards to miss on purpose. In reality, he just wanted decoys to give the guards more targets.

Gardner was captured again, sent to Leavenworth, and later transferred to Atlanta Federal Prison. He made two escape attempts by digging a tunnel on one occasion and taking three hostages on another, but both failed. In 1934, Gardner was transferred to Alcatraz, where he stayed until 1938, when he was released through a clemency appeal.

7 Harry Pierpont The Man Who Taught John Dillinger

Photo via Pinterest

Bank robber and murderer Harry Pierpont is best remembered today for being a friend and mentor to the immeasurably more famous John Dillinger. In fact, some have speculated that Pierpont was the actual leader of the Terror Gang but preferred to have Dillinger as the face of the outfit due to his natural charisma.

Pierpont first met Dillinger in 1925, while both were serving time at Indiana Reformatory. Although Pierpont was just a few months older, he was a much more experienced robber, having already pulled several scores with his old gang.

When Dillinger got out of jail, Pierpont still had years left on his sentence, but he had an escape plan ready. All he needed was money, so Dillinger resumed his criminal career to fund the jailbreak. On September 27, 1933, Pierpont and several accomplices broke out of prison.[4] However, Dillinger was arrested for his part and imprisoned in Lima, Ohio. Not wanting to leave his protege behind, Pierpont organized another jailbreak for his friend. Although successful, Pierpont had to kill the sheriff.

Based out of Chicago, the newly formed gang went on a spree of audacious heists, including an assault on a police station to raid its arsenal. The gang’s success ended with Dillinger’s death in a bloody shoot-out. The remaining members were captured one by one, and Pierpont died in the electric chair in 1934.

6 Ford Bradshaw Oklahoma’s Number-Two Criminal

Photo via Pinterest

Depression-era bank robber Ford Bradshaw was doomed by history to remain in the shadow of fellow Oklahoma Sooner and rival criminal Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd. Technically, Bradshaw was more successful as a bank robber than Floyd. However, while the former stuck to low-profile targets in small towns throughout Oklahoma, the latter went after big scores in cities like St. Louis, Akron, and Kansas City. Floyd even earned infamy for his role in the Kansas City Massacre, and some historians aren’t convinced he even took part in that shoot-out.

Meanwhile, Bradshaw was content prowling Oklahoma throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, often partnered up with other Cookson Hills outlaws, particularly the “Tri-State Terror,” Wilbur Underhill Jr.

Bradshaw’s downfall started on December 26, 1933, when Underhill got in a shoot-out with officers in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Underhill was gravely wounded and later died in a prison hospital. Angered by his friend’s demise, Bradshaw and his gang decided to shoot up the town of Vian in retribution.[5]This finally garnered Bradshaw the federal attention that had mostly eluded him up until that point in his criminal career. He died a couple of months later in a shoot-out with sheriffs in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

5 James Lucas The Man Who Tried To Kill Al Capone

Photo credit: US government

James Crittenton Lucas was a criminal who got sentenced to 30 years in prison for robbing the First National Bank in Albany, Texas. However, it wasn’t until he arrived at Alcatraz in 1935 that Lucas started gaining national notoriety.

Even though Lucas was only 22 years old, he became one of the prison’s most problematic inmates. He often caused trouble, got involved in a work strike, and, most notably, attempted to kill fellow inmate Al Capone in 1936. Lucas attacked the renowned mobster in the shower with a scissor half, dealing Capone superficial cuts to his hands and chest. Lucas later claimed this was due to Capone threatening to kill him.

Lucas made the headlines again in 1938, when he tried to escape from Alcatraz with two other inmates, Rufus Franklin and Thomas Limerick.[6] The three men assaulted supervising guard Royal Cline and planned to overpower the tower guard as well. However, they failed to get the drop on Cline, and he shot both Limerick and Franklin. Officer Cline and Thomas Limerick died, while Lucas and Franklin received life sentences for murder.

Despite his new sentence, Lucas was still paroled in 1958 and became one of the few gangsters from the public enemy era to enjoy a long, happy life. He married, had four kids, found a law-abiding job, and lived until 1998.

4 Verne Sankey America’s Leading Kidnapper

Photo credit: Find A Grave

Bootlegging and bank robbery were the preferred pastimes of criminals during the 1920s and 1930s, but Verne Sankey showed there was another highly lucrative alternative—kidnapping. Sankey, along with accomplice Gordon Alcorn, pulled off a couple of high-profile abductions that resulted in big paydays. Their modus operandi was later copied by other criminals like the Barker gang and “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Initially, Sankey and Alcorn took to bank robbery. In June 1932, they found themselves in St. Paul, Minnesota, and decided to try their hand at kidnapping. Their target was Haskell Bohn, the son of a local entrepreneur. The abductors received $12,000 in exchange for his safe return.

Realizing that kidnapping was safer and smoother than bank robbery, Sankey and Alcorn started looking for a bigger target. Seven months later, they kidnapped millionaire Charles Boettcher II from his home in Denver, Colorado, and held him for a $60,000 ransom.[7]

Sankey left Boettcher’s wife, Anna Lou, a note. It demanded, among other things, that she didn’t alert the cops, reminding her what happened to the Lindbergh baby after his father called the police. Because of this note, Sankey and Alcorn became prime suspects in the Lindbergh kidnappingbefore the arrest of Bruno Hauptmann in 1934.

3 Gerald Chapman The First ‘Public Enemy No. 1’

Photo credit: Crime Magazine

Although Gerald Chapman is mostly forgotten today, he was considered the first “celebrity criminal” of his time. The media gave Chapman the spotlight by awarding him monikers such as “the Gentleman Bandit,” the “Super-Bandit,” and, most notably, the first “Public Enemy No. 1.”[8]

Chapman’s first arrest led to him being sent to Auburn State Prison for bank robbery. That is where he met George “Dutch” Anderson, who became his mentor and partner in crime. Anderson was a highly educated Danish thief and con man; he was born into a wealthy family but chose a life of crime. Even so, Dutch still emanated an air of sophistication which Chapman enjoyed and tried to emulate.

The two men were released in 1919 and, with the “Noble Experiment” of Prohibition around the corner, promptly set up a bootlegging business. In 1921, Chapman and Anderson teamed up with another man, Charles Loeber, and committed a string of robberies. This included robbing a mail truck where they made off with a massive haul in cash, stocks, bonds, and securities. However, they only managed to elude police for a few months. Loeber turned on his partners, and both Anderson and Chapman got 25 years at Atlanta Federal Prison.

Chapman and Anderson escaped prison separately and resumed their criminal partnership. However, during a burglary, Chapman killed a patrolman. He was, again, identified by an accomplice, and this time, he was sentenced to hang.

2 Frank Nash Most Successful Bank Robber In US History

Photo via Pinterest

Frank “Jelly” Nash has frequently been touted as the most prolific American bank robber of all time, having allegedly participated in 200 bank heists and over a dozen train robberies.[9] However, he is still best remembered for his failed escape attempt, which became known as the Kansas City Massacre.

Nash was first convicted in 1913. He spent the next two decades either committing robbery, planning to commit robbery, or doing time for robbery. In 1933, Nash was on the run after escaping from prison three years prior. Two FBI agents, Frank Smith and Joseph Lackey, tracked him to Hot Springs, Arkansas. They made the arrest along with police chief Otto Reed.

The morning of June 17, 1933, Nash was transported to Kansas City, Missouri, and was promptly surrounded by multiple detectives and FBI agents. While being loaded into a car, three men approached the officers and opened fire with machine guns. Chief Reed, one FBI agent, and two local detectives were killed, as was Frank Nash. One shooter was identified as gun-for-hire Vernon Miller. The other two were never formally identified, although Pretty Boy Floyd and his partner Adam Richetti were implicated.

If the goal was to rescue Nash, then the job obviously failed miserably. However, some historians contend the plan all along was to silence the bank robber, not free him. Vernon Miller was executed a few months later, perhaps by someone continuing to tie up loose ends.

1 Leo Hall The Kitsap County Killer

Despite being one of the most violent, gruesome crimes of the 1930s, the Erland’s Point Massacre is almost forgotten today, as is its perpetrator. Leo Hall wasn’t a criminal mastermind who robbed banks up and down the country. He was a dockyard worker and former boxer who botched one score and killed six people.

Back in 1934, Hall and his accomplice, a barmaid named Peggy Paulos, targeted a beachfront home in Erland’s Point, Bremerton, Washington. The swanky house belonged to retired couple Frank and Anna Flieder, but it was supposed to be empty the night of the robbery. Instead, Hall and Paulos broke in on a party in full swing.

Six people were at that party, although only five were present when the robbers came in, as one was off on a beer run. Hall and Paulos bound and gagged them while they ransacked the place. When the sixth partygoer returned, he fought Hall, but the ex-prizefighter beat him to death. Whether or not this was Hall’s plan all along is unknown, but after the scuffle, Hall went around all the other hostages and shot or stabbed them to death. At this point, Peggy Paulos ran away, fearing for her own life.

Hall almost got away with it, as police had no leads, but Paulos eventually went to the authorities 18 months after the massacre. Hall was convicted and hanged in front of a record crowd at Walla Walla State Penitentiary.[10]

Top 10 Food Facts and Fallacies

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H/T Listverse.

How many of these fallacies have you heard?

Food is always a popular subject on Listverse and facts and fiction even more so. This list takes a look at ten fascinating facts or misconceptions we all have about food – they should be, for the most part, new to a lot of us. There will undoubtedly be a little controversy around some of the entries but I believe that people will be able to comment without too much vitriol or anger. If you can think of other fascinating food myths be sure to mention them. The excellent book “Modernist Cuisine” Book 1 History and Fundamentals formed the basis of research for many items on this list. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in the science of food

10  Diets

Fads-Diets

Fallacy: You are fat and need to lose weight

No magical combination of foods, avoidance of foods, increase in the intake of certain foods, or special diet plans (no matter how bizarre) will make you lose weight. The only way you can lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn in your daily activities. If you burn 7,000 kilojoules a day, you need to eat 7,000 kilojoules to maintain your weight. If you want to lose weight, eat a thousand less (give or take) a day and you have it. It doesn’t matter whether your daily calories come from chocolate, salad, fat, sugar, or beans. The reason that fad diets work so well is that the people subscribing to them are initially motivated and ultimately eat fewer calories than they are burning. Diets like the Atkins (in which you must eat only protein) work in the same way – cream and high-fat meats are so rich you can only eat so much so you eat less. The best diet (which should be your diet for life) is to moderate the amount of food you eat. It doesn’t matter what you eat – just don’t eat too much.

Did you know: Robert Atkins, inventor of the Atkins Diet, died after sustaining head injuries when he slipped on some ice after a snow storm in New York. He was 72 years old.

Cooking Off Alcohol

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Fallacy: Cooking or flaming removes most alcohol

From time to time we have a special event or family occasion that requires some fancy cooking. These are, for the average home cook, the times we like to cook extravagant recipes that usually require large quantities of booze. And that is fine for a family meal because the cooking removes the alcohol making it safe for the alcoholics and children amongst us. Or at least that is what we have all been led to think. In reality, it is actually quite difficult to remove alcohol from food by cooking. Setting fire to alcohol in the pan (which seems to be the most extreme way to burn off the booze) actually reduces the total alcohol percentage by a mere 25%. In other words, when you add a cup of brandy to a pan and set it alight, once the flames go out you still have the equivalent of 3/4 of cup of brandy left behind (alcohol intact). If you want to reduce the alcohol to 0% – good luck; cooking alcohol for 2.5 hours with other liquids and ingredients still leaves 5% alcohol behind. That certainly explains some of the more unusual episodes of Julia Child’s cooking show.

Did you know: Alcohol in high doses has been known to cause increased rates of “regrettable” sexual encounters in humans.

Salt Kills

Salt

Fallacy: Salt kills

Salt is a naturally occurring substance that, when added to low-salt food, enhances and deepens flavor. The human body has around 1% salt in it and this is constantly removed through urination, sweating, etc. The salt is essential to our health so we need to replace it through our diet. Excess salt does not cause a high salt percentage – our bodies are smart enough to handle it. If you eat too much salt you just pee it out. There may be some negative impacts on the body through extremely high consumption of salt in those with blood or heart disorders, but the average healthy human can quite happily over-consume the substance without ill-effect. To kill yourself with salt, you need to consume about 1 gram per kilo of body weight. In other words, if you weigh 130 pounds you need to eat around 5 tablespoons of salt – an immense amount of salt and you would probably vomit before you could finish it (because salt is an emetic).

Did you know: Before Biblical Judaism ceased to exist, salt was mixed with animal sacrifices. This originated from Moses in Leviticus 2:13 which states: “Whatsoever sacrifice thou offerest, thou shalt season it with salt, neither shalt thou take away the salt of the covenant of thy God from thy sacrifice. In all thy oblations thou shalt offer salt.” The salt was a symbol of wisdom and discretion. [Stolen with impunity from one of my previous lists.]

Grill Death

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Fallacy: Grilled meat is bad for you

When rats are fed high doses of nicely browned grilled meat they have a statistically higher chance of getting cancer. But that is rats. So far no study of humans has found the same result. Despite that, the US National Toxicology Program says that these chemicals (heterocyclic amines) are “reasonably anticipated” to be carcinogens in humans. Why? No one is really sure. Tripterygium wilfordii is deadly to rats but is consumed by humans as an oral contraceptive with no negative impact. A recent study of humans consuming grilled meat found no association between that and cancer. Let’s face it – for thousands of years humans have cooked meat and evolved (some might say) to be tolerant to it. When was the last time you saw a rat cooking a barbecue? Humans are not rats – what is deadly to a rat is not always deadly to a human.

Did you know: Potato chips, breakfast cereals, crusty bread, etc. are all crunchy because of the same chemicals as those that produce the nice browned effect on grilled meat. Furthermore, these chemicals are known to be antioxidants that suppress the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers. Speaking of that delicious crust around a good steak…

Raw Pork

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Fallacy: Pork and poultry should be cooked to high temperatures to make them safe for eating

Trichinella spiralis, a type of roundworm, is the main culprit behind the huge campaign for cooking pork to 71c / 160f (beyond well-done). For decades governments around the world have been promoting cooking at that level as the only safe way to eat pork. Sadly this is another case of science and government’s failure to be able to backtrack when they are wrong. Between 1997 and 2001 eight cases of roundworm infection attributed to pork occurred in the US. This is from a total consumption of 32 billion kilos (70 billion pounds) of pork. Trichinella spiralis infection is one of the rarest diseases known to modern medicine. When it does occur it is neither fatal nor serious and is easily treated. Sadly, to prevent such a minuscule amount of infections, virtually all pork eaten is destroyed in the cooking. Pork can be safely consumed at temperatures as low as 55c (135.5f) which results in a moist and pink cut of meat. The same is also true of chicken which can be safely eaten rare (cooked to 58c – 136f). At these temperatures both trichinella spiralis and salmonella are destroyed. Pictured above is a delicious cut of medium-rare pork.

Did you know: Raw chicken sashimi (toriwasa) is popular in Japan; it is served with a mirin and soy dipping sauce and a little ginger. Along with the raw chicken flesh, raw chicken gizzards and hearts are also consumed.

Vegetarian

Vegetarian Ribolita Lg

Fallacy: Man is a vegetarian

Utter tripe most regularly spewed by irrational vegans and some vegetarians. The lengths that these people will go to disprove man’s meat-eating disposition are, at times ludicrous. From posters of Jesus denouncing the consumption of meat (contrary to the fact that Christ’s most significant act in the Bible – second to his death – was the last supper which was a big roast lamb dinner) to statements from Gandhi denouncing the practice as evil (they tend to not worry too much about other aspects of his life which may give one cause to reconsider his words as morally authoritative). In reality, at least two million years ago our ancestors were eating cooked foods, and a Berkeley anthropologist specializing in diet has gone so far as to say that we would not have evolved into humans were it not for meat in our diet. According to said “evolutionary dietician” Katharine Milton, “it’s unlikely that proto humans could have secured enough energy and nutrition from the plants available in their African environment at that time to evolve into the active, sociable, intelligent creatures they became. Receding forests would have deprived them of the more nutritious leaves and fruits that forest-dwelling primates survive on.” Her thesis complements the discovery last month by UC Berkeley professor Tim White and others that early human species were butchering and eating animal meat as long ago as 2.5 million years.

Did you know: Veganism (not just the refusal to eat meat but the complete abstention from all animal products) was a concept invented in the 1940s by Englishman Donald Watson an avowed vegetarian who decided to take his diet to fanatical levels in all areas of his life.

Organic Produce

Epa-To-

Fact: Organic foods are potentially more toxic than non-organic

Plants left in the wild naturally develop complex methods to self-manage pests. Often this is in the form of mild toxins – these toxins can repel pests but, in high doses can be harmful to humans. In organic farming many plants are left untreated and this allows those toxins to increase more than in pesticide treated produce. In other cases natural pesticides are used in place of man-made – pesticides such as nicotine infusions. Nicotine is known to be deadly to humans when consumed (in small doses what’s more) yet the majority of “unnatural” pesticides have been rigorously tested for human safety. There are many loopholes in the rules around organic produce which allow other deadly products such as pyrethrum and rotenone to be used in organic farming – both of these chemicals have been linked to Parkinson’s disease. Also many things labeled as organic contain non-organic mater – “organic muffins” are leavened with baking soda which is inorganic (not a product of a living thing) and it is purified through a chemical process. Other ingredients are also allowed despite non-organic origins – table salt, for example, which is heavily chemically processed for purification. Most of the higher quality products bearing the label “organic” are not of a superior standard because they are organic – they are superior because they come from small farms where greater personal care goes into the farming. Unfortunately most organic produce these days is mass produced by conglomerates jumping on the latest bandwagon. Thus the quality of organic produce is usually no better than non-organic and, as has been stated, can be potentially more harmful.

Did you know: No study exists to prove that man-made agricultural chemicals cause harm to people who buy and eat nonorganic fruits, vegetables, or meats.

Fiber Benefits

High-Fibre

Fallacy: High fiber reduces cancer risk

Thanks to Doctor Denis Burkitt who spent some years in Kenya and Uganda studying the diet of the natives, most of the western world has been fooled into thinking high fiber helps prevent cancer. Unfortunately for us poor bewildered masses he was wrong. Dr Burkitt noticed during his tenure that colorectal cancer was rare in that part of the world. Alas the poor doctor fell for the common logical error of post hoc ergo propter hoc (Coincidental Correlation). The native Kenyan and Ugandans ate lots of fiber and, according to Burkitt, consequently suffered low incidences of the cancer which ultimately took his name: Burkitt’s lymphoma. His “research” was ground breaking and realizing the huge financial benefits, the Seventh-Day-Adventist company Kellogs (amongst others – Uncle Sam, Sanitarium – another tax-free company owned by the Seventh-Day-Adventists, etc) began to propound the benefits of an excessively high-fiber diet. But what does science say? Unfortunately a lot of “science” is reliant on donations from such companies as the aforementioned so they tend to say little or nothing at all. But the few studies that have been undertaken (and oft-times buried shortly thereafter) show no benefit to a high fiber diet. In fact, horrifyingly for those of us who have been persuaded by these multinationals that excess fiber is good for us, one study (The Women’s Health Initiative) showed an eight percent higher risk of invasive cancer of the colon or rectum in a low fat / high fiber diet. Food for thought.

Did you know: When studies began to show that Burkitt was probably wrong with his fiber/cancer link, new studies (from the previously mentioned conglomerates) showed that a high fiber diet reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes. These new “findings” also lack any credible scientific backing. But they are definitely helping the Seventh-Day-Adventists maintain a roaring trade in the “health” food business.

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

Msg-Red-Cup

Fact: You eat MSG every day

Look back over your food consumption today. Did you eat any of the following:

* Processed snack food (for example, chips, doritos, cheetos, etc.)
* Meat
* Any non-meat protein (for example, beans)
* Mushrooms
* Tomatoes
* Soy sauce
* Cheese (especially hard cheeses)
* Wheat based products (for example, bread)

Every one of the above foods (plus many, many more) contain high concentrations of MSG. Some (the processed foods) have MSG added, but the rest are all natural. By now most Listverse readers should know that Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is a huge fraud unintentionally (maybe) perpetrated by well-meaning people, but, alas, there are still millions of people who think MSG is the cause of all their woes. There are huge websites dedicated to helping “MSG-sensitive” people avoid the dreaded chemical in their daily lives. Let us get this straight once and for all: MSG occurs naturally in most foods and no single study ever has been able to give even the slightest hint of evidence that MSG (naturally occurring or extracted from naturally occurring sources) is harmful in any way. Parmesan cheese has the second highest concentration of MSG with sun-dried tomatoes and tomato paste also having massive doses. So why (as Jeffrey Steingarten – famed food critic – put it) have we “never heard of of a Parmesan headache or Tomato-Paste Syndrome”?) Incidentally – KFC chicken coating is not made of 11 secret herbs and spices – it is flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and MSG. Now you know why it is “finger licking good”.

Did you know: Europeans and Americans consume an average of 1 gram of MSG from natural food sources every day of their lives.

Forbidden Fats

Lard

Fallacy: Fat kills

Much of this fallacy revolves around the role of cholesterol in heart disease. HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) are actually lipoproteins that contain exactly the same cholesterol; HDL (high density lipoproteins) are merely the mechanism used to transport cholesterol from bodily tissue to the liver – thereby reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream. LDL (low density lipoproteins) deliver cholesterol to places in the body that need it. The failure to properly differentiate between these lipoproteins has led to many erroneous studies on the dangers of cholesterol and fat in our diets. Studies have shown that a high fat diet causes an increase in overall cholesterol in the blood stream. Consequently people have the idea that high fat = high cholesterol = high risk of heart disease. In reality, more nuanced studies show that high fat actually causes a dramatically higher ratio of “good” cholesterol to bad. This, according to the commonly held views of scientists, should actually result in a decrease of heart disease risk – but no one will admit it. Three randomized controlled clinical trials recently discovered that a reduced total fat or saturated fat diet over several years results in no lowering of heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular disease. In other words, high-fat diets (such as the French enjoy) probably has no bad impact on your health.

Did you Know: Due to government guidelines and what can only be called anti-fat propaganda from the 1970s until now has lowered fat consumption by over 10% per person on average per year. Coincidentally (maybe) obesity rates have increased at the same time by around 10%. It is highly possible that a strict low-fat diet can prevent a person from feeling satiated and consequently over-eat “low-fat” but high-calorie foods.

 

Top 10 Old-Timey Bills And Currencies Of The United Statef+21s

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H/T ListVerse.

I remember Silver Certificate bills and I saw a thousand dollar bill.

The history of the US dollar predates the United States itself. It goes back to the Revolutionary War when all thirteen colonies issued a single currency to fund the war against Britain. The current dollar was first issued during the Civil War. Several other currencies were introduced before, during, and after the war, and some even coexisted alongside the current dollar.

Interestingly, the present-day US currency has some bills that are rarely seen or even heard of. Ever heard of the $100,000 bill? Maybe not. Well! Here are ten old-timey bills and currencies of the US. Mind you, some are still legal tender even though they are out of print.

10 Silver Certificates

Silver certificates were issued in the US between 1878 and 1964. They were used like regular money and were originally redeemable for their face value in silver coins. However, between June 1967 and June 1968, they could be exchanged for silver bullion and thereafter, regular bank notes. They remain legal tender and can still be traded for current bank bills. In fact, silver certificates closely resemble bank notes, except that their fine print reads “one dollar in silver payable to the bearer on demand.”

Interestingly and unknown to many, two versions of the $1 silver certificate issued in 1886 and 1891 are the first American paper money to ever feature the portrait of a woman. The woman was Martha Washington, the wife of George Washington and the first, first lady of the United States. Martha Washington silver certificates are valued among collectors. An 1891 version in perfect condition sells for about $1,500.[1]

9 Continental Currency

The Continental Currency was issued on June 22, 1775, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, when the thirteen colonies that would later form the United States agreed they needed a unified currency to prosecute the war against Britain. The money was called “Continental” because it was issued by the Continental Congress, which was the highest governing body during the war. It consisted of delegates from all thirteen colonies.

The currency was backed by nothing other than the promise that it would be repaid from the funds generated from future taxes. The public had no trust in the money, and it led to inflation so bad that even George Washington complained about one wagonload of Continental Currency not buying one wagonload of supplies. Britain worsened the effect of the inflation by releasing counterfeit notes into the US.

The value of the Continental Currency varied from colony to colony. People even coined the idiom “not worth a Continental” to describe the worthlessness of an object. The money became so unstable that it crashed in May 1781.[2] The failure of the currency put the newly formed United States in heavy debt at the end of the war. It was even one of the reasons why the US abandoned the idea of a confederation for a stronger central government. The US itself avoided issuing paper money until the Civil War.

8 $100,000

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered all US citizens to surrender all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates in their possession. This was at the height of the Great Depression when people hoarded their gold and refused to accept paper money. In fact, paper money became so worthless that barter (the exchange of goods for other goods or services) became the preferred medium of exchange.

With most citizens separated from their gold, they were forced to spend the paper money. The federal government itself printed more money including a new $100,000 bill that featured the portrait of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States.

There was a catch though. The bill was not legal tender since it was not intended for general use. It was specially made for branches of the Federal Reserve to use in high-value transactions. It remains the highest single bill denomination ever printed in the US.[3]

7 Demand Notes

The US federal government issued its first paper money when the US Civil War broke out in 1861. Before then, the federal government used gold and silver in its transactions while more than 8,000 banks independently issued and controlled all the paper money in circulation. The war seriously depleted the US treasury and caused widespread inflation. In response, Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of Treasury, suggested that the government introduced a single paper money to replace all the paper monies issued by the banks.

This led to the introduction of Demand Notes, which are the first true paper money issued by the United States government. The Continental Currency mentioned above does not qualify as the first paper money because it was released before the formation of the United States. The government issued $10 million worth of Demand Notes, which was redeemable for gold or silver. However, it never caught on since people hoarded their gold and silver coins.

In 1862, the US Congress passed a law ordering the production of a new currency that was not redeemable for gold or silver. This led to the creation of the US dollars used to date. Demand Notes were taken out of circulation as this new paper money was introduced. At first, the paper money suffered from constant inflation and deflation as its value rose and fell depending on the victories and losses of the Union.[4]

6 Fractional Currency

As we already mentioned, Americans hoarded valuable coins during the US Civil War. To address this, the Treasury issued fractional currency notes in denominations of between one and fifty cents. Most Americans hated the fractional money, which they called “shinplasters” because of the extra thin paper used in its production. The paper was compared to the thin paper doctors used to make plaster casts.

In 1865, the Treasury announced plans to issue more fractional currency. However, Congress ordered that the three-cent fractional currency, which was originally a silver coin and was valued because of its use in making change and paying for postage (which cost exactly three cents) should not be made with shinplaster but with a mixture of nickel and copper.

The three-cent nickel was proposed by Congressman John Kasson, who was famous for previously disapproving the use of nickel in coins. Kasson did hate the idea of using nickels in coins, but he hated the shinplasters more, so he approved the nickel coin as the lesser of two evils.

The three-cent nickel, the three-cent silver, and the three-cent fractional currency remained in circulation until the silver was phased out in 1873. The three-cent fractional currency followed when all fractional currencies were discontinued in February 1876. The three-cent nickel itself was discontinued in 1889 when postage was reduced to two cents. All three-cent nickels were melted and remolded into five cent nickels.[5]

5 $1000

The 1,000 dollar bill is one of the rarest legal tenders in the US. It has been out of print since 1946 but is still acceptable by banks in exchange for $1,000 equivalent in credit. Banks are expected to remit all $1,000 bills deposited at their branches to the Federal Reserve, which ensures they do not go back into circulation. However, people with $1,000 notes prefer hoarding them since their rarity has made them worthier than their face value.

The US federal government printed its first $1,000 bill during the US Civil War even though the thirteen colonies that formed the United States had issued a $1,000 bill as part of the so-called Continental Currency. The Union used the money to purchase items like ammunition, which it needed to use to fight the war.

After the war, the $1,000 note and other similarly high valued bills were relegated for use in large-scale transactions like interbank transfers and property deals. It was last printed in 1946 but remained in circulation until 1969 when President Richard Nixon ordered the Federal Reserve to recall all high valued bills over fears that they would be used for money laundering. Besides this, the $1,000 bill was expensive to print since only a few were produced at a time.[6]

4 $10,000

The $10,000 bill is the highest legal tender ever printed in the US. Unlike the $100,000 note, it was intended for everyday use, and like the $1,000 bill, it remains a legal tender even though they were both taken out of circulation in 1969. The $10,000 note features the portrait of Salmon P. Chase, who served as President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of Treasury. Chase also served as a senator and governor of Ohio and Chief Justice of the United States.

However, it was his role as Secretary of Treasury that earned him a place on the $10,000 bill. As we mentioned earlier, it was he who proposed the creation of a single, federally controlled paper money. The $10,000 bill was used for large transactions like settling interbank transfers and was not commonly used in public. Estimates point that there are less than 350 in circulation today. They are a huge collector’s item, and a crisp bill could fetch up to $140,000. A rough one could fetch $30,000.[7]

3Double Eagle

The Double Eagle was a $20 gold coin issued between 1907 and 1932. It was taken out of circulation in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt banned American citizens from owning gold. 445,300 gold coins postdated 1933 had been minted by the time President Roosevelt issued the Executive Order and were never released. They were melted down and converted into bullion in 1937.

However, some of the 1933 gold coins escaped being melted. No one knows how the coins were smuggled out of the US Mint, but it is speculated that a cashier called George McCann switched about twenty 1933 Double Eagles for earlier versions. That way, no one would notice the difference in weight.

A jeweler called Israel Swift is known to have been in possession of nineteen of these coins, and he sold nine to private collectors. One was sold to King Farouk of Egypt. The coin reappeared when King Farouk was deposed in 1952 but disappeared again when whoever was in its possession realized that the Secret Service was still trying to recover it. The Secret Service only got hold of it forty years later when it launched a sting operation against Stephen Fenton, a British coin dealer who was in its possession.

The coin was stored in the treasury vault of the World Trade Center while Fenton and the US Mint engaged in a lengthy legal battle, which ended with Fenton and the US Mint agreeing to sell the coin and splitting the proceeds. The coin was then moved from the World Trade Center to Fort Knox two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The coin sold for a record $7,590,000, which includes a 15 percent buyer fee and an additional $20 for its face value. Joan Langbord, one of Swift’s heirs uncovered ten more coins in September 2004. She sent them to the US Mint for authentication, but the Secret Service immediately seized them.[8]

2 Treasury Notes

Also called Coin Notes, Treasury Notes are series of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $1,000 bills issued in the United States between 1890 and 1891. They were issued after the passage of the Legal Tender Act of July 14, 1890, which permitted the Secretary of Treasury to print the notes as payment for the silver bullion purchased by the Treasury.

Treasury Notes could be redeemed for gold or silver coins, depending on the preference set by the Secretary of Treasury. A 500 dollar bill was also planned but was never issued. Only sample copies were printed.

The bills issued in 1890 and 1891 look similar but there are a few ways to tell them apart. One difference is the type and size of seal used. Another is the design of their reverse sides. 1890 bills have a rich dark green reverse while 1891 bills have a plain green and white reverse. Both versions are collector’s items although the 1890 edition is rarer and more expensive.[9]

1 1974 Aluminum Cent

Copper got so costly in 1973 that the US Mint started looking into an alternative metal to use for its coins. After an extensive test, it settled for aluminum. In 1974, the US Mint transported uncut aluminum alloys from its Philadelphia mint to its Denver mint, where it was cut to shape and returned to Philadelphia for stamping.

The Denver mint was not supposed to stamp any coin but an assistant superintendent went on to make the only 1974 aluminum cent created at the Denver mint. It is a one cent denomination and was marked “D” to show that it was made in Denver.

In 1974, the Philadelphia mint stamped about 1.5 million aluminum coins and shared some samples among members of the Congress. However, Congress refused to authorize the aluminum coins for several reasons including the fact that a representative of the vending industry claimed that aluminum coins would not work with their machines.

The US Mint melted the aluminum coins, but at least fifteen remain unaccounted for to date. These unaccounted coins are part of those held by Congressmen who did not return their sample coins. As for the illegally made “D” coin, Harry Edmond Lawrence, the son of the assistant superintendent, returned it to the US Mint after the death of his father.[10]

Top 10 Reasons Russiagate Is A Farce

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H/T ListVerse.

Anyone with an IQ higher than a rock knows this.

President Donald Trump may have overstated his victimhood status when he spoke before graduating service members at the United States Coast Guard Academy: “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.” However, the freshly elected Republican president makes a strong case that he is the subject of an unprecedented media “witch hunt.”

With reports emerging daily which allege a sinister connection between the Trump administration and the Russian government, the very authenticity of America’s democracy is called into question. Citizens rightly wonder if their president is beholden to shadowy sponsors at the Kremlin.

From accusations of a concerted effort between the Trump campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin to influence the election by gradually leaking compromising information about Hillary Clinton to the latest report of a White House cover-up of these conspiracies via the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the mainstream media is hemorrhaging stories which point the finger at a scandalous administration that is ultimately deserving of impeachment.

But are these fears resulting from objective evidence, reliable sources, and credible intelligence? Or is this a partisan campaign meant to unseat the POTUS in America’s first ever bloodless coup?

For many Americans and certainly the liberal establishment, the election of a man whom they perceive to be a xenophobic elitist or the antithesis of every progressive value they hold dear is simply unacceptable. Russiagate serves as a means to an end that will see Trump forever returned to his palatial towers in New York City.

A closer examination of the facts reveals 10 reasons why Russiagate is without substance.

1Plausible Deniability

Photo credit: CIA

Former acting CIA director Michael Morell, who has significant connections in the Democratic Party and once called Trump “an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” has since downplayed his accusations, admitting that “there is smoke, but there is no fire—at all.”[1]

The “smoke” Morell refers to is indications that members of the Trump campaign met with Russian statesmen prior to Election Day without disclosing these encounters. However, the “fire” which is so fundamentally lacking from ongoing investigations is any link that directly ties Trump to any inappropriate meetings with Moscow.

The distinction is everything as far as impeachment is concerned. Trump’s plausible deniability is the difference between a Watergate and the Iran-Contra affair. The former scandal resulted in President Richard Nixon’s humiliating resignation. Conversely, President Ronald Reagan was able to depart the White House with his reputation intact and an approval rating that never fell below 46 percent, in large part because he was able to deny any direct knowledge of the scandal unfolding within his administration.

9Hard Line On Russia

Photo credit: Seaman Ford Williams/US Navy/PA

When it was announced that Rex Tillerson would be appointed to one of the most powerful positions in Washington as Secretary of State, mainstream media had their suspicions confirmed: Trump was colluding with Russia, in this instance by appointing a former oil executive with intimate ties to Putin to a key cabinet post. However, journalists are failing to take an objective look at how the private lives of Trump and his closest advisers contradict their documented policy decisions, which often stand in opposition to Russian interests.

Trump has been surprisingly defiant, quickly abandoning notions of a new era in US-Russia relations when such an arrangement did not benefit American interests. Trump’s cabinet appointees reflect this independence, with Defense Secretary James Mattis admitting that the White House has no intentions of cooperating militarily with Russia in Syria and Tillerson demanding that Russia abstain from fighting in Ukraine before an end to sanctions are discussed.

Trump’s own hostility toward Russia surpasses even that of the Obama administration. After the US targeted a Syrian air base[2] in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed numerous noncombatants, Putin was furious and Kremlin spokesmen admitted that the missile strike significantly damaged US-Russia relations.

8Lack of Evidence

With insider information on the Trump administration being leaked to the press with ritual frequency, Americans can be fairly certain that if any incriminating evidence regarding Trump and the Russians existed, it would have already been leaked. Sensitive conversations shared between the highest political posts in the Oval Office are repeatedly revealed to the media, often read as word-for-word accounts of conversations between Trump and important foreign officials.

So far, White House leaks have allowed the press—and therefore, the American people—unprecedented access to office gossip between low-level aides and internal disputes involving belligerent staffers. More serious breaches of national security include phone calls between the president and foreign heads of state as well as undisclosed Oval Office meetings with Russian officials.[3]

Though President Trump has been the subject of persistent systemic efforts to leak compromising information, his approval rating remains fundamentally unchanged in the wake of any damaging direct evidence.

7International Policy Sharing

Photo credit: reuters.com

Among the numerous Trump advisers and staff conducting frequent negotiations with the Kremlin in the months prior to the election, from former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to then–National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, investigators have yet to release any incriminating information regarding these talks. The focus of these undisclosed conversations was primarily restricted to such topics as the war in Syria, combining forces against the Islamic State, common economic interests, and how to contain an ambitious China.[4]

In other words, the campaign sought out top Russian officials to discuss urgent matters of national security and public interest. However, some former Obama administration officials have stated that the frequency of correspondence between Russia and the Trump team raised a “red flag” during the transition, enough to warrant electronic eavesdropping against them.

But, considering that improved relations with Moscow constitutes the “cornerstone of his foreign policy platform,” the close cooperation and preemptive talks directed by Trump fail to signify anything nefarious. Unfortunately, the president is presented with few policy alternatives in the Middle East after the previous administration ceded leadership to Putin in places like Syria and Iran.

6Faulty Evidence

Photo credit: The Independent

In a move that demonstrates the lengths that the FBI was prepared to go to in order to produce evidence of impropriety from Trump, the federal law enforcement organization was prepared to pay former British spy Christopher Steele $50,000 to uncover anything that would compromise the president. Coincidentally, Steele was also working for Fusion GPS at the time, an opposition research firm with close ties to the Clinton campaign.[5]

Among the assertions in Steele’s leaked dossier, which BuzzFeed later published, were claims that Trump engaged in “perverted sexual acts” in a Moscow hotel room previously occupied by the Obama family. This established the compromising information that Trump’s opponents so very badly needed to suggest that the Russians could blackmail him.

The ultimately debunked dossier went on to claim that Russian tech giant Aleksej Gubarev was involved in an illegal hacking campaign against the Democratic Party during the 2016 election. Gubarev is currently suing BuzzFeed for alleged character assassination.

5Unconvincing Report

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats betrayed the intelligence community’s own obsession with Russia when he admitted that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was looking for “every opportunity to hold Russia accountable.” This may have contributed to the drafting of a 25-page declassified report that was strangely absent of even the most rudimentary technical details on Russia’s alleged hacking campaign. Instead, it read like a New York Times editorial.

Cybersecurity experts and independent intelligence analysts expressed doubts over the report and were not persuaded by the collective conclusions of the intelligence community. Naturally, critics of the Trump administration insist that the true dirt on Russiagate may be found in the classified, unrevealed sections of the same report. But the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) set the bar so low with his assessment that few skeptics are convinced of the report’s legitimacy.

According to former CIA analyst Larry C. Johnson, there is no direct, incriminating evidence in the ODNI report. He explains its dubious nature:

These are “or and how” intelligence estimates as opposed to an intelligence analysis based on fact. There’s no fact underlying this. There are analytical assumptions. You can tell that because whenever they use the language like “we assess that” or “we believe that” or “it’s likely that,” that means they don’t know, because if you knew, you could say . . . in public “according to multiple sources we know that.” You state facts.[6]

Despite these troubling deficiencies, opposition groups and journalists continue to parade the report around Washington. In an attempt to add authority to the DNI’s claims of Russian-sponsored hacking, Trump’s opponents are suggesting that all 17 agencies that comprise the US intelligence community independently confirmed the findings of the report.

In fact, the report only included assessments from the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA. Lawmakers, such as former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra, are troubled by the ODNI report’s exclusion of dissenting opinions from important organizations like the Department of Homeland Security or the Defense Intelligence Agency. Hoekstra added that the move was likely an attempt to provide Obama with a “supposedly objective intelligence report” on Russian hacking that could later be used to “undermine” the incoming administration.

4Partisan Double Standards

Photo credit: nationalreview.com

It is simple to imagine an America where Hillary Clinton is president and, much like her predecessor, the toughest question the media asks her is: “What . . . enchanted you the most about serving in this office?”

The former Secretary of State would certainly get a free pass on ties to Russia. In one particular transaction, Clinton sat on a secretive board that swiftly approved the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium reserves to a state-owned Russian company despite the potential national security threats such a deal entailed.[7]

Meanwhile, a French-owned company seeking similar board approval for the purchase of significantly less risky defense assets waited two years to have their own proposal approved. Perhaps the sudden urge by investors involved in the uranium deal to donate tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation or the generous Russian bankers’ payment of $500,000 for a one-hour speech by Bill Clinton would grease the wheels that produced the board’s approval for the deal.

Evidence of a similarly controversial deal between the Trump team and Russian big business would surely result in impeachment hearings. After all, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was compelled to recuse himself from any Russiagate investigations for simply bumping into a Russian ambassador in the presence of numerous other state diplomats at the Republican National Convention in summer 2016, demonstrating the complete intolerance of lawmakers for any interaction with Russian officials.

3Friendly Relations With Russia

Photo credit: theintercept.com

When it was revealed that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynnsought a “backdoor” channel of communications with Russian officials to circumvent the national security bureaucracy, many observers took this to mean that the White House had something to hide. The truth is that military and intelligence officials are so averse to healthy US-Russia relations that Flynn feared efforts at diplomacy could be sabotaged by national security careerists hostile to this goal.

Author Justin Raimondo agrees that the “Russophobic” defense establishment is opposed to a warming of relations with the former Soviet Union. He notes that the Department of Defense needs an ever-present Russian threat to continue receiving a handsome share of the national budget, while the CIA is “institutionally opposed to Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy.”[8]

2Unreliable Sources

An alarming percentage of media reports making bold accusations about the Trump White House today rely upon uncorroborated sources to support claims of Trump-Putin collusion. Anonymous sources claimed that Comey was requesting more assets to conduct his investigation into Trump’s ties with Moscow just before he was fired.

Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores called this accusation “totally false.” Similarly, unnamed “officials” also claimed that the mass departure of senior State Department officials was motivated by a lack of respect for the incoming president. The truth, according to actual named sources, was that Trump requested the exodus in preparation for installing his own team.

Across the nation, unimaginative journalists are increasingly depending on unreliable or anonymous contacts to describe a chaotic, self-destructive White House living on the edge of impeachment. To relate the story of Comey’s ouster, The Washington Post relied upon “the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House.”[9]

In many cases, stories are going to print in which an anonymous source cites an anonymous source. To reinforce the claims of their unnamed sources, news agencies are frequently turning to each other and former Obama appointees, as if to check the journalistic box requiring at least one verifiable reference per article.

1Three Redundant Investigations

Photo credit: foreignpolicy.com

The decision by Trump to unceremoniously fire Comey served to confirm for the president’s critics that their darkest suspicions were warranted. Their narrative suggests that Trump fired the FBI director to interfere with an investigation that was closing in on the White House and threatening to end in impeachment.

But this narrative is nonsensical. In a return to McCarthy-era political witch hunts, the Trump administration’s potential ties to Russia are being investigated by three separate legal bodies. The termination of a single Obama-era appointee would do little to strengthen the president’s job security given that the House and Senate Intelligence committees are conducting their own investigations into Trump-Russia ties.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform are also pursuing independent investigations. If this legislative arsenal was not enough to blow away any attempts by the Trump team at concealing suspected Russian relations, then the special counsel assigned to the Justice Department should add another layer of interrogation.[10] Surely, there could be a better use of time and resources for America’s elected officials.

 

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Top 10 Reasons MS-13 Should Terrify You

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H/T ListVerse.

It is time to start treating MS-13 like the terrorist they are.

It is estimated that there are around 21,500 gangs in the United States. Evading law enforcement, striking fear into citizens, and participating almost exclusively in criminal activities, eliminating gangs is not a small task. The statistics are chilling; gangs do not appear to be going out of style anytime soon.

“Kill, Rape, Control,” that is the motto of one of the most feared transnational gangs: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Members of this gang are located across 42 states, and numerous countries. Hidden in plain sight, they may not even be hiding at all, as they are known for their brazen actions—they could even be lurking in your hometown.

Members first came to the United States between 1980-1990, fleeing their home country of El Salvador during a gruesome civil war. They soon formed MS-13, claimed small towns and cities as their own, and have been wreaking havoc ever since, with no sign of slowing.

Gang life is not for the faint of heart; their average life expectancy comes in at around 35 years, due to the extreme unlikelihood of encountering health care and lack of utilization of modern medicine.

Most easily identified by their tattoos, Virginia attorney Greg Hunter stated: “There’s a tattoo MS-13 members get—three dots in a triangle—that signify the only three destinations in life for gang members: prison, hospital or the graveyard.”

10 Treatment of Women

Just as we have recently seen women being unexplainably attracted to join terrorist groups such as ISIS on their accord; similar instances occur within MS-13 as well. To most of us, it is unfathomable to envision ourselves falling prey to the seduction of a gangster, for some women it’s a reality. The young women who get suckered into this life are those who have no place to go, are naive, and are without family. Maybe it is partly fantasy, derived from what we see depicted in the movies: the bad boy suddenly changed by love and leaves behind his life of crime. This is most certainly not the reality that the women of MS-13 face.

Their track record speaks for itself. A well-known story is that of Brenda Paz, MS-13 member turned informant. Her tale began when she was a young girl as she ran away from home to start her endeavors in gang life. Years later she was detained by the police, where she was then convinced to testify and serve as a witness against her fellow gang members. It was only three weeks after she slipped her witness protection that her mutilated body was recovered by fishermen. “The system failed Brenda, and she failed herself. I just hope we now can do better for kids like her because of what we learned from Brenda.” Va. attorney Greg Hunter said.[1]

Objects to be used and discarded is an accurate description of this gang’s treatment, or lack thereof, of women. In an interview, an El Salvador native, Rev. Gerardo Mendez recounts that gang members would kill “his woman” for the most minute reasons. He describes it as Neolithic.

9 Ties to International Terrorism

It’s like one of those Marvel comics where all the superheroes team up together, but in this case, it’s the villains coming together to wreak havoc on innocent citizens.

Back in 2004, it was confirmed that an al-Qaeda lieutenant met with leaders of MS-13.[2] Making nice to the local gangs would prove useful to terrorists. Misery loves company! The gang, unfortunately, had great success with smuggling and avoiding detection by the US Government, and it is assumed this meeting was to share their tips and tricks. Well, and probably broker a deal that incorporated smuggling of some sorts.

In their home country El Salvador, MS-13 had already been designated as a terrorist organization. The United States is still toying with the idea of recognizing them as terrorists; they are still reviewing their resume. The new administration has taken a particular interest in MS-13, President Trump has even tweeted about them. On April 8, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was quoted as saying, “We’re not going to allow them to take over a block, a corner of our communities and terrorize people with this violence.” He spoke about how the Trump Administration will invoke a zero-tolerance policy for gang violence, as well as reforms to the H-1 B visa program. These changes aim to make it more difficult for career criminals, such as MS-13 members, to obtain visas.

8 Toxic Rivalry

Barrio 18, formed in Los Angeles as well, has maintained its place as MS-13’s sworn enemy since its conception. They are also sometimes referred to as 18th Street. It is estimated that Barrio 18 has upwards of 35,000 active members.

The war between the two gangs has left El Salvador in the crossfire. Even though both gangs have other mutual stomping grounds, El Salvador, being their homeland, has endured the brunt of their unsavory rivalry. The city of San Pedro Sula is known for being one of the world’s most violent cities, due to the presence of both gangs. They maintain a homicide rate of 142 of every 100,000 people. This rivalry has driven many from their homes every year.

Brokered by the El Salvador government, a truce was conceived to mend ways between MS-13 and Barrio 18, what a novel idea, so they thought. There was a brief time of peace, but chaos swiftly caught up, leaving the country devastated. When the truce collapsed within one month, 481 people were murdered, approximately 16 people per day.[3] It is thought that the truce collapsed due to the new administration cracking down on gang tolerance. The new president, Sanchez Ceren, came in hot and the country paid the price. This record breaking month helped secure El Salvador as the deadliest country during peacetime.

7 El Salvador in Ruins

An outbreak of civil war had lasting impacts on the country of El Salvador and can even be credited with the conception of one of the worst gangs in modern history. When civil war broke out, many fled to the United States, where they formed gangs or joined previously established ones. Not long after these young Salvadoran men became settled into their new lives as gangsters, the game changed. In 1996, Congress passed a law allowing the deportation of any and all immigrants who had received a jail sentence of one year or more. Returning to their home country that was still recovering from civil war, MS-13 began to take over. The lack of infrastructure allowed for the gang to settle right into the driver’s seat.

The country’s gangs have almost complete hegemonic control over the vast majority of the country. This poses a significant threat to the severity of the country and makes (legal) economic growth almost impossible. Many citizens find themselves in a tight bind. They either have to pick up and move or pay dues to local gangs to receive protection and security for their families, homes, and businesses.[4] Even though it is well documented that violence was old hat for El Salvador, MS-13 was a new kind of evil.

6 Up Close & Persona

Often when we see reports of MS-13 killing, the title reads something along the lines of, “MS-13 Member Accused of Slaying Teens,” not “MS-13 Shooting.” Historically this specific gang has been known for its use of machetes as opposed to guns. Some theorize that this is due to ease of access, but most likely it has something to do with the gang’s roots and the focus of making their crimes more gruesome. This is not to say that they solely use knives in their attacks. No matter which weapon they use, the crimes they commit are equally gruesome and hard to stomach.

Some may call them crimes of passion, but the only passion of MS-13 is bloodshed. From baseball bats to knives, this gang rarely partakes in drive-by shootings. Recently within the United States, Long Island residents have experienced an uprise in gang-related homicides. In April 2017, the gang was credited with 11 murders.[5]

It is well documented that people are more afraid of a knife attack than being shot. Most of us can relate: the thought of being stabbed sounds horrific, painful, and probably would result in a great deal of suffering. Being shot is seen as being impersonal and a quick death.

5 Human Trafficking

Eradicated in the United States over 150 years, slavery is far from being abolished. Modern day human trafficking is not fueled by racism, but by profit. Today we see various forms of human trafficking; exploitation of migrant workers and sexual exploitation of women, children, and at times, men.

Robbing its victims of their lives and their rights, human trafficking is a serious offense. With large numbers being trafficked each and every year, it aids in depleting already struggling countries of potential contributing members of society. Prosecutors have historically found human trafficking cases challenging, and at times, nearly impossible to bring to trial. With legal barriers and requirements, unfortunately for the victims, the odds of achieving justice through the court are generally stacked against them.

Evidently lacking in moral standards and a sense of value for human life, it is to no surprise that MS-13 is notorious for human trafficking. A lot of times we think about human trafficking as being a problem that solely third world countries encounter. However, this is far from true. Trafficking and prostitution rings are very prevalent in the United States.[6]

A source of income for the gang, that is how they view the exploitation, sale, and assault of women and children. Most of the time trafficking comes at little to no cost to the gang, as long as they don’t get caught, this is what makes it an attractive industry to criminals.

4 Threat to Border Control

A hot-button issue in the United States: Border Control. To build the wall or not.

The stigma is that gangsters are uneducated, making them remedial. MS-13 makes it clear that you do not have to have an MBA to be a successful criminal. With much of their business coming from smuggling people, weapons, and substances across the US-Mexican Border, the gang has a lot at stake. This means that they will not let Border Patrol come between them and their paycheck (not an actual paycheck, I’d imagine they get paid in cash—presumably unmarked bills). According to recent statistics, 92 percent of MS-13 gang members arrested are in the United States illegally,[7] meaning they are well-versed in the art of “hopping the fence,” getting caught once on the other side, not so much apparently.

The largest border apprehension to date occurred in February 2005. An MS-13 member had escaped from a Honduran prison and was transporting narcotics across the border when he was stopped by a trooper. The gang member was accompanied by other MS-13 crminals; they opened fire on the Department of Public Safety trooper. Twenty-eight people were killed during this deadly exchange of gunfire.

3 Tough to Tackle

How does one go about stopping a transnational gang that is so deeply embedded in certain societies that without them would cease to exist? World leaders and law enforcement struggle with this question. Gangs such as MS-13 are parasites that render entire countries, cities, and communities lifeless. “They are getting more disciplined and more organized. And they’re getting smarter,” said Susan Ritter, chairwoman of the criminal justice department at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

What about the police? Police enforcement is a good start. However, it is not a cure-all. A community center head out of Buffalo was quoted saying, “when they shut down a drug house, it just moves down the street.”

Ironically, police crackdowns bring people together. When the men in blue start poking around, gang members band together, forming closer connections and stronger ties to the community. The Department of Justice’s “Weed and Seed”[8]tactic offers promise. It includes weeding out the top tier gang members and seeding the neighborhood with economic means and resources to prevent further gang activities. It is quite a novel idea if you consider that the “top tier” gang members got to where they are by climbing the ranks while remaining elusive and undetected.

What is scarier than a ruthless gang? A transnational gang. El Salvador, Mexico, United States, Honduras, Guatemala, and even parts of Canada are all countries in which MS-13 has staked its claim. They are expanding and show no signs of halting their spread anytime soon. Some reports even state that members of MS-13 have set up camp in Australia. As they strengthen their hold on territories they already control, it becomes more difficult to remove them.

2 Recruiting in a City Near You!

It’s bad enough that these gangs exist throughout the world in the first place, but preying on young boys and girls makes MS-13 even sicker.

The tactic is to find youths who are coming from Central America to the US. This way they have nowhere else to go and limited resources to aid them in avoiding the gang life. If there is nobody to know that the children are missing in the first place, even better.

Their initiation process is brutal, and everything you would imagine of a gang. Committing murder, getting beaten, and branded with tattoos are only some of the known aspects of their process.[9] Not joining can be even more dangerous in most cases.

1 A Market of Their Own

Criminals don’t pay taxes on their smuggled weapons or kidnapped teens. Ruling the streets comes with perks, well not perks that would entice most. They make the rules, and they make money. Simple. Extortion, murder for hire, trafficking, smuggling, the list goes on—all business opportunities that MS-13 utilizes to the fullest extent.

They are no drug lords in comparison to the Mexican cartels, but they make money none the less. With such a strong following it is easy for the gang to make their rules and charge what they like for their services.

Drugs seem to be the common linkage between most gangs. Whether they are transporting, selling, or consuming, they are involved in one way or another. We are not talking about marijuana. Gangs tend to gravitate towards substances such as crack cocaine and PCP. There have been reports made that MS-13 has maintained steady relationships with Mexican drug cartels, and at times aided them in smuggling operations.

Extortion fees are just another, equally as immoral, form of income MS-13 collects. With their large numbers and violent reputations, they are able to scare locals into paying them off with ease. Often they will make shop owners or families pay to ensure their safety, if they do not, they could fall prey to the gang’s rage.[10]

 

Top 10 Facts That Change How You See The Story Of The Mayflower

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H/T ListVerse. 

Ten things about the Mayflower they did not teach you in your history class.

 

 

The Pilgrims who boarded the Mayflower and sailed across the ocean to America, we’re told, were trying to set up a new colony free of religious persecution—but there was a bit more to the story than that. The Pilgrims weren’t just a group of religious Puritans. The real story of the colony that one day grew into the most powerful nation in the world isn’t exactly pure.

10 The Pilgrims Were Actually Escaping The Religious Tolerance Of The Dutch

Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Pilgrims didn’t flee religious persecution in England by going to America—they went to the Netherlands.

Long before the Pilgrims stepped aboard the Mayflower, they settled in a Dutch city called Leiden, where they were welcomed with open arms. The Dutch let them hold Puritan services in their churches, promising that they let all honest people live freely in their nation.

And they did. The Dutch lived up to their promise—but the Puritans realized maybe religious freedom wasn’t what they wanted after all. They complained about the “extravagant and dangerous” lifestyle of the Dutch, who, they complained, were depraved enough to spend part of the Sabbath not resting. The Puritans were worried that their children might be swept away by the depraved and wild lifestyle of doing work on the Sabbath. The young Puritans, William Bradford wrote, were being “drawn away by evil examples” by “the great licentiousness of youth in that country.”[1]

And so they boarded the Mayflower—not to escape religious persecution, which they’d already escaped by going to the Netherlands, but to escape the religious tolerance of the Dutch.

9 French Pilgrims Went To America First

Photo credit: NPS

The Pilgrims on the Mayflower weren’t the first people to have the idea—some French settlers had already gone off to America in search of religious freedom 55 years before them. They didn’t find it. Instead, they found the Spanish, and what happened next makes it a bit easier to understand why the Puritans didn’t want to stay in Europe.

The French set up a settlement called Fort Caroline and began living lives as Lutheran Protestants, away from all the religious wars of Europe—until Europe found them. A Spanish army led by Pedro Menendez de Aviles tracked them down and killed them all, for no other reason, as he proudly explained, than “for being Lutherans.”[2]

The Spanish climbed over the French walls with ladders, snuck into their bedrooms, and attacked. The French Pilgrim’s piousness was no match for the Spanish conquistador’s guns and their willingness to sneak into someone’s bedroom and murder him in his sleep.

132 Pilgrims died—nearly every single person there. And the Spanish conquistadors renamed the fort “Mantazas,” meaning “massacre,” to commemorate their favorite pastime.

8   A Man Put His Kids On The Mayflower To Spite His Wife

Photo credit: William Halsall

The strangest names on the passenger list of the Mayflower were the More children: four unaccompanied minors, all under nine years old, sailing off to America without their parents.

The Mores were the children of Samuel and Katherine More—or, at least, that’s what Katherine told Samuel. As the kids grew older, though, Samuel started noticing that they didn’t look very much like him. Instead, looked an awful lot like Jacob Blakeway, the guy his wife kept insisting was just a friend.

Samuel More divorced his wife, but under English law, he still had legal authority over his kids. He also absolutely hated his wife, so, purely out of spite, he handed her kids off to the Puritans and bought them a one-way ticket on the Mayflower.

All but one of the kids died during the first winter. The sole survivor was Richard More, who ended up settling in Salem. Apparently, he still had his biological father’s genes—years later, he was convicted for “gross unchastity with another man’s wife.”[3]

7 Less Than Half Of The People On The Mayflower Were Puritans

Photo credit: John Rogers Herbert

Despite how we imagine it, the Mayflower wasn’t a boat full of Puritans. In fact, out of the 102 people on the boat, more than 60 were Anglicans—followers of the very religion the Puritans were trying to escape.

The Puritans let the Anglicans come with them because they needed their money. Sailing two boats to the New World and setting up a colony was expensive, and they needed investors. They made it clear, though, they weren’t part of the group. They called these Anglicans “Strangers” and called themselves “Saints.” Those two boats, though, didn’t pan out anyway. The other, the Speedwell, started leaking before they even got off the docks, and so all 102 people had to cram into the Mayflower.[4]

By the time they’d made it to Plymouth, there were only 32 Puritans left alive. Worried that they were going to fall into “the devil’s hands,” the Puritans signed the Mayflower Compact with the Strangers, letting them elect their own governors—and then made sure a Puritan was elected every time.

6 They Landed At Plymouth Because They Were Running Out Of Beer

Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Puritans were against a lot of things, but beer wasn’t one of them. They drank incredibly heavily. In fact, they brought more beer with them than water. Pretty much all the Pilgrims drank was beer. Water, they explained, “spoiled quickly,” which sounds like an alcoholic father’s justification for brushing his teeth with Pabst Blue Ribbon.

By Christmas day, after months of sailing in cramped quarters, starving, and being ridden by disease, a true tragedy struck: they were running out of beer. They had to start rationing their supply, and, to the Pilgrims, this was a nightmare. “We have, divers times now and then, some beer,” William Bradford wrote in his journal, but they’d resorted to the unthinkable: “We began to drink water aboard.”[5]

People started complaining—so they kicked them off. The first settlers were dropped off at Plymouth and forced to drink water, because the people who stayed on the boat wanted to make sure there was enough beer for themselves. They didn’t suffer long, though. They refused to. One of the very things the Pilgrims built was a brew house.

 

5 The Pilgrims Robbed Native American Graves

Photo credit: Wikimedia

When the Pilgrims landed, they expected to see a thriving Indian population all around them—but nobody was there. Other than the distant light for a few campfires at night, there wasn’t any sign of life anywhere around them. Then they started to wander out, and they found empty towns full of corn, beans—and the bones of dead men.[6]

The natives had been wiped out by a plague, spread by the first Europeans to the area. It had wiped out between 90 and 96 percent of the people in southern New England, leaving behind nothing but empty towns full of supplies just waiting for the settlers to use them. The settlers, instead of being worried about the fact that an entire country had just been wiped out took this as a sign of god’s favor. John Winthrop called it a miracle, writing, “God hath cleared our title to this place!”

They took their corn, but more than that, they literally robbed their graves. One settler wrote in his diary that he dug up a dead man’s grave and fished out all the possessions he’d been buried with. “We took several of the prettiest things to carry away with us,” he wrote, “and covered the corpse up again.”

4 The First Native American They Met Asked For Beer

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Not every Native American was dead. While the settlers were still setting up their camp, they made first contact with a Native American—who, out of nowhere, wandered into their camp and said, in English: “Welcome, Englishmen!”

The man’s name was Samoset. He’d met Englishmen before, and he’d picked up enough phrases to get by. He knew, at least, how to welcome an Englishman, and, more important, how to ask them for beer.

After he’d asked them enough times, the Plymouth colonists gave him “strong water,” which was enough to make him happy. Apparently, Samoset had a bit of a personality. After a while, they started politely hinting he should go home now, but they couldn’t figure out how to get rid of him.

They ended up letting him sleep off the strong water in their camp, which paid off. Samoset would ultimately save their lives several times and help them make peace treaties with the Wampanoag tribe. He also sold some of the first land in America to the Plymouth settlers—which probably wasn’t his to sell, but certainly gave the settlers a signature they could use to call the land their own.[7]

3 Squanto Had Been Sold Into Slavery Several Times

Photo credit: Wikimedia

 

Samoset told the settlers about Squanto, a man in his tribe who could speak English even better than he could. He wasn’t lying. Squanto spoke English nearly as well as the Englishmen themselves.

There was a reason. Six years before, Squanto had met another famous settler: Thomas Hunt, John Smith’s successor at the Jamestown Colony. Hunt had kidnapped him and 23 other natives and sold them into slavery in Spain. From there, Squanto was sold again to an Englishman, who taught him to English and brought him to Newfoundland to work as his interpreter. While in Newfoundland, he was sold again, this time to Thomas Dermer, who took him to Massachusetts. By a miracle of chance, Squanto made it back to his home. By the time he’d arrived, though, everyone he’d known was dead, wiped out by the plague.

Squanto ended up with the Wampanoag when Dermer was taken hostage. He won his freedom, and, in an act of mercy, convinced them to let Dermer go alive. And that was how he ended up the tribe’s interpreter to the Plymouth Colony—a colony that was built, as he realized when he met them, directly on top of his family’s grave.[8]

2 Squanto Went Mad With Power

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Squanto never extracted revenge on the settlers. Instead, he helped them so much that, without his help, some believe, the settlers wouldn’t have survived. He taught them to grow maize, to catch eels, and helped them negotiate with the nearby tribes.

In time, though, he got a little carried away. He was the tribe’s connection the European settlers—and that made him their connection to guns and technology. He started making people give him gifts in exchange for a few good words with the English, and at least once threatened that, if they didn’t do what he said, he would make the Englishmen release the plague again.[9]

One of his tricks went too far. He got mad at Massosit, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe, and decided this time he was going to show them he was bluffing. He’d really get the Englishmen to kill him. So, he tricked the Englishmen into believed that Massosit was planning on killing them all, trying to convince them to strike him first.

When they realized it was all made up, Massosit demanded Squanto’s head. The Englishmen were going to do it, too—but when they realized how doomed they were without his help, they had to side with Squanto, who, it turns out, really was as important as he thought he was.

1 They Hung A Dead Man’s Head Over Their Fort

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Peace didn’t last long. Even with all the empty villages around them and the help of people like Squanto and Samoset, the settlers were starving. It was a just a matter of time before the harshness of life broke out into war—and when it did, it was brutal.

Things were particularly bad in the nearby Wessagusset Settlement. They were starving so badly that, when one of their Pilgrims stole corn from the Pecksuot Tribe, they agreed to hang him for it. They needed the help of their native neighbors so badly that they were willing to kill their own people.

The Pecksuot Tribe, though, wasn’t totally satisfied, and a rumor that they were plotting to destroy the white presence in America reached the Plymouth Colony. It was the same sort of rumor they’d ignored before, when Squanto spread it, but they’d been in America for a few years now, and they were harder, more cynical people. So, a group from the Plymouth Colony, led by Myles Standish, took care of it.

They invited the best warriors from the Pecksuot tribe over for dinner. Then they locked the door, stabbed them to death, chopped off the chief’s brother’s head, and placed it on the roof the blockhouse, next to flag made from a cloth soaked in his blood.[10]

 

10 Strange Tales From America’s Second War For Independence

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H/T ListVerse.

It wasn’t long after the Revolutionary War that the young United States found itself at war with Great Britain once again. Although the War of 1812 has sometimes been called the second war for independence, it’s been largely overlooked in favor of other conflicts, like the initial revolution and the Civil War. Washington, DC, was burned, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written during the War of 1812, but there are other stories that are too fascinating to be forgotten.

10 Kentuckians Accounted For 60 Percent of US Casualties

When the Kentucky Historical Society established a commission to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, they were paying tribute to a huge number of their own. Around 60 percent of US casualties during the war were from Kentucky, a statistic that sounds rather unlikely but is true. Kentucky suffered greater losses than any other state.

At the time, the new state’s total population was only about 400,000, not much compared to other states like Virginia, which was home to one million people. More than 25,000 men from Kentucky served in the military and were stationed all over the US, making records extraordinarily difficult to track down. Some served for the requested 30-day enlistment period, some served much longer than that, and many were incorrectly recorded in the military’s record-keeping system, which too often relied on phonetic spellings for the names of their members.

By the end of the war, the death toll was a number that seems surprisingly low—1,876 killed in battle (not counting the many more killed by disease), according to Kentucky’s official roster. Around 1,200 of those battle deaths were from Kentucky, serving as soldiers, sharpshooters, and spies in the fight to secure America’s freedom. Kentucky’s losses were so great that nine of its counties currently bear the names of men who fell in one of the most unlikely named battles of the war, the Battle of the River Raisin. While “Remember the Raisin” became one of the strangest battle cries ever, the names Simpson, Meade, McCracken, Hickman, Hart, Graves, Edmonson, Ballard, and Allan were given to state counties.

9 Laura Secord Canada’s Paul Revere

While the midnight ride of Paul Revere has entered into US mythology as a highly exaggerated story, Canada has their own version.

Laura Ingersoll was born to a US family that had fought against the British only a short time before. Her heart had other ideas, though, and she eventually met and married British-allied James Secord. She ended up living with him in Queenston, Upper Canada. On June 21, 1813, a group of US soldiers showed up at their home and demanded food and lodging. While they were there, they discussed their plans, including where they were headed and exactly who their targets were. James, still recovering from wounds he’d sustained on the battlefield, was too weak to ride. Laura decided that she was going to warn the Americans’ target herself.

So she started walking.

It was 30 kilometers (20 mi) from her home to Beaver Dams. After hiking through swamps and bogs, she stumbled upon a group of Iroquois, who escorted her the rest of the way after she told them where she was going and who she had to warn of an impending attack.

Her story was almost forgotten, as there’s no immediate mention of her in any of the contemporary records of the time. It was only in a letter from 1827 that Lieutenant FitzGibbon, the soldiers’ target, mentioned Laura as being responsible for the warning. And it wasn’t until decades after that—when she was 85 years old—that she was recognized for her bravery on those hot June days.

 

   8 Hiram Cronk The Last Surviving Veteran

When it came to wartime heroics, Hiram Cronk missed the worst of the fighting. He enlisted in the military in 1814, during the heart of the war, and he was only 14 years old. As a part of the New York militia, he was stationed at Sackets Harbor. He arrived only after the worst of the fighting was over and spent 100 days in the military.

Afterward, he led a pretty normal life. He got married, spent most of his life in New York, fathered seven children, helped to dig the Erie Canal, and worked as a shoemaker. He also stayed in touch with his fellow veterans, and in 1905, he died as the last surviving soldier from the War of 1812.

Having reached the impressive age of 105, he was hailed as one of the final links between the post–Civil War US and a country that was still fighting to secure its freedom. Even though his service had been pretty uneventful, he was honored with an incredible military funeral and parade through New York City, which was recorded on video. Roughly 25,000 people showed up to pay their respects to the veteran as he was escorted to his final resting place in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn. Among those who marched alongside him were members of the Washington Continental Guard, the New York City Mounted Police, and active members of the US Army.

7 Dolley Madison’s Red Dress

Photo via Wikimedia

According to one of the war’s most popular stories, First Lady Dolley Madison was instrumental in saving some of the White House’s most priceless treasures from advancing soldiers. And while she might not have saved all the things she’s given credit for, it’s still pretty likely that she was instrumental in overseeing the evacuation of the White House and the rescue of some important pieces. One of those pieces is a little odd—the red velvet drapes that once decorated the Oval Drawing Room.

In 1809, Congress approved a massive budget of $14,000 (that’s over $200,000 today) for redecorating the presidential residence. A minor crisis happened when, with silk in short supply, they had no choice but to go with heavy, red velvet curtains. The decorators were horrified, but Dolley Madison loved the look so much that the curtains were ultimately one of the things she saved from destruction by the British. She said as much in a letter that she wrote not long afterward, so we know she rescued them.

It wasn’t until much later that a widowed Madison was forced to auction off her remaining belongings, including an iconic red dress that seemed to be made of an unlikely material. Eventually, it found its way to the Dolley Madison Memorial Association, which joined up with the Daughters of the American Revolution to try to match cloth samples from the red dress with samples of the velvet curtains. While microscopic examination revealed that the DAR’s cloth wasn’t the type of curtain that they thought it was, Madison’s red dress was the same kind of velvet that would have been used to make the real curtains. Did she use the White House curtains to fashion a dress? Evidence indicates that it’s highly likely, but we’re unlikely to ever know for sure.

6 Machias Seal Island

 

Photo credit: Albnd

The US and Canada still have an unresolved border dispute, and it dates back to the War of 1812.

Machias Seal Island is less than 20 acres in area and sits about midway between Maine and New Brunswick. Technically, most border disputes were settled with the 1783 Treaty of Paris after the Revolutionary War, but by the time the War of 1812 came along, the British were occupying Maine. When the Treaty of Ghent was signed at the end of that war, it divided up most of the nearby islands and properties between the two nations. Not mentioned, however, was Machias Seal Island.

Since it wasn’t specified just which nation should get the island, the British decided to go with a policy of “finders, keepers.” By 1832, they had built a lighthouse there, and aside from a brief period during World War I, it’s been solely occupied by Canadian forces, protected by the Canadian Coast Guard, and manned by Canadian lighthouse keepers.

The island’s nationality sounds pretty straightforward, but in 2015, Canada and the US were still involved in what amounts to a sort of diplomatic shoving match over rights not only to the island, but to the well-stocked lobster fishing grounds around it. Disagreements over who has the right to fish the grounds have been going on for decades, with Canada pointing to a 1621 land grant to support their claim to the island and the US claiming that the 1783 treaty negates the first one. Weirdly, an opportunity arose to settle the argument in 1984, but it wasn’t taken. The issue was turned over to a court at The Hague that settled border disputes . . . but Machias Seal Island was left off the table, with neither country wanting to risk officially losing it.

5 Uncle Sam

“The Star-Spangled Banner” isn’t the only patriotic symbol that dates back to the War of 1812, even though it wasn’t until 1961 that Congress officially declared Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the man behind Uncle Sam.

Born in Massachusetts in 1766, Wilson and his brother eventually moved to Troy, New York, where they became successful in the bricklaying and meatpacking industry. During the war, their company contracted with the government to supply rations to the troops. The barrels in which the military’s beef was packed were stamped with “U.S.” to mark them as part of the government contract, but those who handled the barrels often said that it was a reference to Sam Wilson’s real-life nickname, Uncle Sam. Though no one knows for sure, Wilson is believed to be the inspiration for the patriotic symbol.

The earliest representations of Uncle Sam in connection with the United States date back to around 1813, and he took the place of another iconic representation of the country. Columbia (not Colombia), named for Christopher Columbus and taken from Latin words meaning “lands of Columbus,” was a female figure typically associated with the nation in its early days. She was eventually replaced by Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty.

The use of figures like Columbia and Uncle Sam to symbolize an ideal or a nation is surprisingly ancient, dating back to the Roman era and finding increasing popularity throughout Renaissance Europe. While most people are probably more familiar with the name “Uncle Sam” than they are with the name of his inspiration, “Sam Wilson” pops up in another prominent place—as the real name of Marvel’s Falcon and new Captain America. It could easily be a coincidence, but if so, it’s a fitting one.

4 The Question Of Secession

After the American Revolution, England moved on to more wars closer to home, and with them came the need for more and more sailors to man their ships. When they started impressing US sailors into service on British ships, Thomas Jefferson partially solved the problem with an embargo that forbade trading between US ships and foreign countries. While that certainly kept soldiers out of foreign hands, it also ruined the country’s economy, particularly impacting New England. Suddenly, it wasn’t England that was the biggest problem; it was Washington.

When Madison took over after Jefferson and declared war, he summoned New England militias to the South. Massachusetts said no, and in response, Madison sent no support to states that refused to support the war. New England was left to fend for itself and still bears the scars of British attack, as they burned ships, fired upon towns, and established an agreement with the Quakers that would leave them out of the conflict. The British continued to crack down on Northern trade, and New England politicians held their own meeting in Hartford, Connecticut, to discuss their options when it came to seceding from the United States.

The top-secret meeting, now called the Hartford Convention, started on December 15, 1814, and members had some serious grievances. Those in power were largely Southerners, who had gotten where they were because of legislation that allowed slaves to count toward their population when it came to holding seats in Congress. Most of the expansion at the time was to the south and southwest, and the New England states already felt not only isolated, but as though they were bearing the worst of the impact from the war.

They even got as far as drawing up a formal document that outlined the conditions that had to be met in order for them to remain a part of the country, and they were on their way to Washington, DC, to present those demands when the war ended. The end of the War of 1812 was seen as a big victory for the US, and the political mood changed in Madison’s favor. The New England politicians gave up and went home.

3 The Congreve Rockets

 

 

The Congreve rockets are the ones that inspired the line about “the rockets’ red glare” in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and they were the brainchild of a British man named William Congreve. Until Congreve started working on them, rockets were used more as flares than weapons, but he saw huge possibilities in them, especially when it came to defending Britain against the then-imminent threat of a French invasion. Congreve’s tinkering increased the size and range of the rockets that were currently in use, but he couldn’t quite figure out how to aim them. By the time they were used at Fort McHenry, 10 years after their development began, they were still considered fairly experimental and were employed mostly against ships and forts. Aiming didn’t matter so much when you had a giant piece of wood as your target, and they would start fires wherever they landed.

The rockets were too big to carry, so the British outfitted ships with them. The first ship to feature Congreve rockets sailed against the French, and the second was the Erebus, which was dispatched at Fort Henry.

Even though they were used in huge numbers (between 600 and 700 were fired), the “red glare” was an exaggeration. The Erebus wasn’t even close enough to hit much, and at the end of the war, the death toll actually attributed to Congreve rockets was three.

The rockets did, however, hit and destroy the Maryland farmhouse of a man named Henry Waller on August 28, 1814. At the end of the war, Waller sued the government for damages to his property. He won, thanks largely to his lawyer, Francis Scott Key.

2Thomas Jefferson, The Library Of Congress, And Debt


After the British burned the capital and destroyed the Library of Congress, the largest private collection of books belonged to Thomas Jefferson. In 1815, he sold that collection to kick-start the Library of Congress yet again, giving the government 6,487 books for $23,950 (over $300,000 today). While it might have seemed like the perfect way to reboot the library in a win-win situation (the government got their books, and Jefferson could pay off some of his debts), not everyone wanted the collection.

Some congressmen argued that the contents of the books might not be suitable for inclusion in a government collection. Some of the books were written in languages that other than English, leaving some bothered by the presence of books that not everyone could read. A bill needed to be passed to authorize the use of government funds to buy the library, and some Federalist congressmen argued that Jefferson was simply using the sale to get his supposed “infidel philosophy” into all corners of the government.

The bill passed by only the narrowest of margins, and much of the money from the sale went to pay Jefferson’s creditors. William Short ended up with $10,500 of it (around $134,000 today) to settle some real estate debts. The last of Jefferson’s books left Monticello on May 8, 1815. When they got to the library, we’re guessing that the librarians were in for a bit of a surprise. Unlike most people, who tend to organize books alphabetically, Jefferson officially organized his by subject and unofficially organized them by size.

1 Black Refugees

When it came to strategy, the British struck at one of the subjects that formed a clear divide between the states—slavery. They offered slaves living in the US a choice: They could remain slaves, or they could join the British military and be given the right to settle as free men and women in British colonies after the war.Around 4,000 people took them up on the offer, and they ultimately became known as the Black Refugees. Most ended up settling in Trinidad, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the West Indies after the war, making the War of 1812 the largest emancipation event in the country until the Civil War. Slave owners sent formal delegations to the British to complain about the loss of their “property.” Even free men who’d chosen to serve with the British Navy tried to talk some of the recruits out of their defection.

Lack of manpower meant that there were a few options for black men to serve in the US Army, but the prospect of being captured by British troops and shipped off to Dartmoor Prison was less than favorable. While many distinguished themselves in combat on US ships and gained praise for their abilities in combat, the prospect of freedom was much, much sweeter.

When the war ended, part of America’s demands included the return of its property either in body in or monetary reparations. The British absolutely refused on the grounds that any slave who made it to British soil was free, and British ships were British soil. They stayed free, too. The descendants of the ex-slaves who settled in Trinidad still call themselves “Merikans.”

 

 

Top 10 Wild Women Of The West

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H/T ListVerse.

An amazing collection of stories about women in The Old West. 

The Wild West of the late 1800s and the turn of the next century was a land with loose laws, big egos, and, of course, adventure. It attracted fiery individuals, with spirits as wild as the terrain, who left colorful pages in history. It was a place where rebellious women roamed free and pushed all the envelopes ever made for the fairer sex. These 10 women reveled in the freedom of the frontier and led lives in a way that still has us talking about them today.

 

10 Calamity Jane

Photo credit: C.E. Finn

Born: Martha Jane Cannary
Lived: May 1, 1852–August 1, 1903
Areas: Wyoming, Utah, Arizona

Calamity Jane is perhaps the most famous of the wild women of the West and for good reason. She pretty much did it all when it comes to the things that brought these women notoriety. She skillfully shot a gun, told tall tales, dabbled in prostitution, committed hefty crimes, and drank—a lot.

Besides her reputation as a drunken outlaw, Calamity Jane was known for her generous heart. She and her siblings were orphaned when Jane was 14, and she took it upon herself to care for them.

This responsibility helped to shape her into a true enigma.[1] While one of her earliest-known careers was as a dance hall girl, she also became famous for wearing men’s clothing and riding alongside the roughest cowboys on whatever work or action she could find.

Jane ended up with a plethora of careers, including a short stint as a storyteller in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. However, none of these careers lasted long due to Jane’s unfortunate chronic alcoholism.

Like many of the notable characters from the Wild West, Jane was unashamed about telling a fib. She is known for being a sidekick of Wild Bill Hickok and bragged about their friendship until the day she died. However, many who knew them both said that Jane was, in fact, obsessed with Bill rather than having a true partnership or friendship with him.

Although she was buried next to him, his friends said at the time that the location of the burial was a joke on Hickok. He was rumored to have said that he had “absolutely no use” for Jane.

9 Big Nose Kate

Photo via Wikimedia

Born: Maria Katalin Horony
Lived: November 7, 1850–November 2, 1940
Areas: Arizona, Texas

Known primarily for being the longtime companion of Doc Holliday, Big Nose Kate was an indomitable woman to be reckoned with.

Kate’s family emigrated from Hungary to Iowa when she was 10 years old. Tragically, the roughness of the frontier left Kate and her siblings orphaned only three years later. In true outlaw fashion, she ran away from her foster home at age 15 and became a stowaway on a riverboat headed for St. Louis.

She proceeded to dabble in various careers and move around until meeting Doc Holliday in Texas in 1877. History, in fact, would not be the same without Kate, as she was the one who introduced Doc Holliday to Wyatt Earp.[2] Kate and Doc moved to Tombstone, Arizona, with Wyatt and his brothers in 1880, and the rest is history.

Her legacy continues to this day. A Tombstone saloon named in her honor is still one of the best cowboy bars in the entire area.

8 Poker Alice

Photo credit: chrisenss.com

Born: Alice Ivers
Lived: February 17, 1851–February 27, 1930
Areas: Colorado, South Dakota

Perhaps even more than today, the Wild West was a place where women were given permission to experiment with careers not normally seen as fit for women. Alice Ivers embraced a career as a poker player, a profession still largely dominated by men.

Alice was born in England to conservative parents in 1851. Her father had the wanderlust bug of the age and relocated the family to Colorado. Alice seems to have caught the ailment herself as she fled her family at a young age to marry her first husband, Frank Duffield. This bold act would change the course of Alice’s life forever as Frank was a poker enthusiast, to say the least.

Preferring to accompany her husband out at night, she sat at the tables behind him while he played. When he died in a mining accident a few years into the marriage, Alice took up gambling[3] herself. This led to another interesting Wild West crossover: She made big bucks playing at a bar in Colorado owned by Bob Ford, the man who killed Jesse James.

Alice was known to use her skills to finance a lavish lifestyle and made a show of heading to New York City with large earnings to stock up on the couture fashions of the day. She was also exceptionally shrewd as a professional gambler. It is widely believed that she married her last husband rather than pay off a large gaming debt she owed him.

Humorously, it is reported that Alice refused to play on Sundays despite her nontraditional ways. However, she was still arrested several times for running girls, bootlegging, and public drunkenness.

7 Belle Starr

Photo credit: biography.com

Born: Myra Maybelle Shirley
Lived: February 5, 1848 – February 3, 1889
Areas: Missouri, Texas

Belle Starr was destined to live a life rubbing shoulders with notable outlaws. She was childhood friends with both the James brothers and the Younger brothers (of the Younger Gang), all native to Missouri. All the families eventually ended up in Texas, where their bonds were strengthened.

In time, Belle married a Cherokee man named Sam Starr who was addicted to a life of crime and could not tolerate traditional employment. During their marriage, Belle became skilled as an organizer for local cowboy gangs, providing refuge for fugitives, bootleggers, and thieves. She was well-known for her class, always riding sidesaddle and in her best black velvet. Belle loved the outlaw life and only quit after Sam was gunned down.

She lived the rest of her life attempting to have less notoriety. Her cause of death, two days before her 41st birthday, remains a mystery with several colorful theories.

At the time, it was reported that Belle was ambushed[4] on her way home from a neighbor’s house late at night. Some believe that she had come from a dance and was killed by a rebuffed attendee with whom she had refused to dance. Still others believe that it was her own son who committed the murder in a fit of adolescent rage.

6 Sally Scull

Photo credit: legendsofamerica.com

Born: Sarah Jane Newman
Lived: c. 1817–Unknown Date of Death
Areas: Texas

Sally Scull loved to shoot, loved to intimidate those around her, and loved to marry. She perhaps attracted so many suitors because she intrigued everyone she met. She played poker, was a good shot, and could ride a horse. Sally could also lasso as well as any man and better than many. She combined this with a strong taste for men and must have been a striking and unforgettable woman to encounter.

Sally learned to be brave, bold, and fierce as a young girl growing up in Comanche territory. One famous story recalls her mother chopping off the toes[5] of a local Native American who was trying to break into their home. By the time the family moved to Texas a few years later, Sally had learned to be a quick draw and a skilled horsewoman.

Sally became famous for her skills as what we now call a cowgirl. But her legacy has perhaps survived because of her five husbands and her involvement in the deaths of two of them. In one instance, Sally reportedly fired in shock at her current husband after he poured ice water over her head to wake her one morning.

In another case, her husband and the horse on which he was riding met their deaths when a strong river current overcame them. Rather than expressing any grief, Sally famously said that she wished her husband’s belt buckle had been saved so she could retrieve the $40 it was worth.

Given her abilities and knowledge of the area, Sally was the perfect person to help the Confederacy during the Civil War. She seems to have stayed busy and profited from transporting cotton during those years.

Following the war, her trail runs cold. It is not even known when or how she died. Had she been born a decade later, she could have built a career as an outlaw or frontierswoman. Nonetheless, she still left quite a legacy.

5 Laura Bullion

Photo credit: Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency

Lived: October 1876–December 2, 1961
Areas: Texas, Tennessee, Missouri

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree with this wild woman. Laura Bullion came from a family who lived on the edge. Her father was a bank robber who was friends with Wild Bunch gang member Ben Kilpatrick (aka “The Tall Texan”), and her uncle was a train robber. Needless to say, her family life was less than stable and she left home at age 15 to make her own way.

As with many infamous female outlaws of this age, Laura started her career of crime as a prostitute. Sadly, she began very early and retired around age 17 when she transferred to robberies with Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. She was likely welcomed into the group because of her father’s connections, and she did, in fact, become romantically involved with Kilpatrick for a time.

Laura is known to have participated in many heists[6] with the Wild Bunch. She is believed to have been involved with many more because she often dressed in men’s clothing and may have gone unrecognized. As with many other outlaws, Laura retreated into a life of traditional employment and a low-profile existence after she was released from prison.

Perhaps most notably, prior to her death, Laura was one of only three people believed to know the true identity of Etta Place, a secret that she happily took to her grave.

4 Etta Place

Photo credit: DeYoung Photography Studio

Lived: 1878–Unknown Date of Death
Areas: Utah, Argentina, California

No list of female Wild West outlaws would be complete without at least a mention of Etta Place, the mysterious companion to Harry Longabaugh (aka “the Sundance Kid“). The two were so devoted to each other that she was the only person to flee the country with him and Butch Cassidy and the only woman to stay with a member of the Wild Bunch as long as she did. At the same time, few people from recent history can claim such notoriety and mystery.

Despite Etta being one of the only women to have penetrated the inner circle of the gang and stay with them long-term, little is known about her life before or after her relationship with Longabaugh. It is widely believed that she met the Sundance Kid while working as a prostitute, possibly in Utah, and that the two eventually became devoted companions. When Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid escaped to South America in 1901, Etta was at their side.[7]

There are at least half a dozen theories about Etta after she parted ways with Longabaugh, most of them involving Etta living as a prostitute or outlaw. It is known that she lived in San Francisco in 1907, at least for a little while, but the trail runs cold after that. Estimations about her date of death range from 1922 to 1966. Now that’s one wild woman with a talent for mystique!

3 Pearl Hart

Photo via Wikimedia

Born: Pearl Taylor
Lived: 1871–Unknown Date of Death
Areas: Missouri, Arizona

The success of train robbers in the Wild West was lucrative but short-lived. Pearl Hart, besides earning a name as a female gang member, is also famous for being involved in the last of such recorded robberies.

Pearl was a true rebel. Born into a well-to-do family, she eloped at age 16 with an abusive alcoholic with whom she had an on-again, off-again relationship until 1893. Then she discovered Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and became infatuated with the cowboy life.

In 1898, she ended up in Phoenix running a tent brothel. When the nearby mine closed, she and a male cohort decided to rob a stagecoach for funds. She cut her hair short and dressed in men’s clothing to commit the crime.

The pair was quickly arrested and ultimately acquitted. (Pearl’s passionate plea to the jury that she needed the money to care for her elderly mother actually worked.) But she was arrested[8] and convicted a short time later for mail tampering.

Pearl had evidently learned a thing or two about using her female charms to her advantage. She used her notoriety to finagle a comfortable stay during her five years in prison. Not only was she granted a comfy mountainside suite, it came complete with an outdoor yard. She was also allowed to visit with the public and pose for photos (for which she received compensation).

Pearl was pardoned in 1902. While the reasons remain unknown, many believed that it was because she became pregnant and the authorities wanted to keep the circumstances secret. She was given a ticket to Kansas City, Missouri, and proceeded to dabble in various careers, even going full circle and working anonymously as a storyteller for Buffalo Bill’s show.

2 Fannie Porter

Photo credit: sacurrent.com

Lived: February 12, 1873–January 1, 1940
Areas: San Antonio

When it came to the famous outlaws of the Wild West, Fannie Porter rubbed shoulders with them all. However, it was not as a fellow outlaw or lover that she knew them. It was because she owned a brothel that most of them frequented over the years.

As with many of the frontier women who dabbled in prostitution, Fannie started her career at a young age—15 years old. By age 20, she had already become known for her business acumen as a high-end brothel owner, running one of the cleanest, safest, and classiest establishments in Texas.

Fannie didn’t just supply outlaws with short-term company. Many of her “girls,” as she referred to them, became lovers and companions to the most famous Wild West figures.

Until becoming the girlfriend and accomplice to Kid Curry, Della Moore worked at the brothel. She returned after the relationship ended. Lillie Davis was a companion to Will “News” Carver of the Wild Bunch and claimed to have even married him before he died.

Most famously, the mysterious Etta Place is believed by many to have met the Sundance Kid while she was working for Fanny (rather than in a brothel in Utah). However, this has not been confirmed.

As the outlaws disappeared into obscurity and the Golden Age of the Wild West came to an end, Fannie also faded from the public eye. Some say she retired rich,[9] some say she married rich, and some say she returned to England to live well. Whatever the case, many famous outlaws have her to thank for introductions of the most provocative type.

1 Lottie Deno

Photo credit: gamblingherald.com

 

Born: Carlotta J. Thompkins
Lived: April 21, 1844–February 9, 1934
Areas: Texas, New Mexico

Born Carlotta J. Thompkins, this wild woman was so skilled at poker that she was eventually given the name “Deno,” which was a shortened version of dinero (“money”). Unlike many women who made names for themselves living on the edge of the law during this time, Carlotta was from a wealthy family and from parents who gave her ample care and affection.

She learned to play cards by spending time with her father, a successful gambler and horse breeder. After he was killed in the Civil War, Lottie began her own career at the poker table.[10]

She quickly added fugitive-companion to her resume when she fell in love with Frank Thurmond, also a professional gambler. He was accused of murder, and the two of them went on the lamb, happily using poker to support their lifestyle.

The pair ended up in Fort Griffin, a quintessential cowboy town, and became friends with Doc Holliday. Fearful of being caught, Lottie and Frank hid their relationship until they were married years later. In Fort Griffin, Lottie’s fame grew as a poker player who was not to be challenged. She became the subject of songs, paintings, novels, and numerous short stories.

Lottie and Frank were a couple with their eyes on the big picture. They eventually married in 1880, used their savings to invest in a number of legit businesses, and settled in New Mexico. There, they became leaders in their community. Their later life found Frank as the vice president of a bank and Lottie as the cofounder of a hospital.

 

 

Top 10 Famous Companies With Unexpected Origins

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H/T ListVerse.

We generally associate most companies with specific goods and services. For instance, we associate Shell with oil, Nokia with phones, and Nintendo with games. But these companies and a host of others never started in the niches they’re famous for today. In fact, some predate their niches and only got involved due to bizarre reasons.

 

10 Royal Dutch Shell

Photo credit: Wikimedia

The history of Royal Dutch Shell can be traced to 1833, when London shopkeeper Marcus Samuel started importing oriental shells—which was used for interior designing—from the Far East. By 1886, the business was in the care of his children, Sam and Marcus Samuel Jr, who added rice, silk, copper, and chinaware to their imports. They also exported machines and textiles to Japan and the Far East and traded in wheat, sugar, and flour.

The brothers later developed interest in the oil trade and became the first to transport oil in tankers. By transporting oil in tankers and not barrels—as was common then—the duo could transport more oil at once, reduce leakages, and sell at a cheaper price. The brothers called their new oil transport company “The Tank Syndicate,” which they changed to Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1897.

Shell Transport and Trading Company soon expanded its operation to the Far East, where it found itself in competition with the Royal Dutch petroleum company. Both companies remained in competition until 1903, when they partnered and formed the Asiatic petroleum company to compete with the bigger Standard Oil.

In 1907, the Asiatic Petroleum Company became Royal Dutch Shell, with Royal Dutch owning 60 percent of the partnership and Shell Transport and Trading Company owning 40 percent. Its famous scallop shell logo belongs to Shell Transport and Trading Company, which adopted it in 1904 after switching from a mussel shell.

9 Samsung

Photo credit: Wikimedia

In March 1938, Lee Byung-chull—with capital of just $27—opened a grocery store and a small company in Taegu, Korea. The company was called Samsung, and it focused on the importation and exportation of dried fish, vegetable, and noodles. Later on, it moved into sugar refining, insurance, security, and textiles. At one time, Samsung even owned the biggest textile mill in the whole of Korea.

Samsung started making electronics in 1960, when it opened several subsidiaries that produced televisions, microwaves, telephones, telephone switchboards, fax machines, washing machines, and mobile phones. In 1987, Samsung was divided into Samsung Electronics, Shinsegae Group, CJ Group, and Hansol Group. Samsung Electronics focused on electronics, construction, engineering, and technology, while the rest were into retail, chemical, food, logistics, and entertainment.

Samsung sold off some of these subsidiaries in 1993 to focus on electronics, engineering, and chemicals. Today, Samsung is a conglomerate of 80 companies that are into electronics, telecommunications, construction, shipbuilding, medicine, and finance.

8 Nokia

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Nokia traces its history to 1865, when engineer Fredrik Idestam opened a paper mill in Tammerkoski Rapids, Finland. Six years later, Idestam opened another paper mill on the banks of Finland’s Nokianvirta river, which inspired him to name his company Nokia Ab.

With time, Nokia Ab went into electricity generation and was acquired by Finnish Rubber Works, which itself was acquired by Finnish Cable in 1922. The three companies operated as different entities until 1967, when they were merged to form the Nokia Corporation, which focused on producing toilet paper, car tires, rubber shoes, bicycles, and computers.

Nokia started its foray into mobile phone production in 1979, when it went into partnership with Salora to form Mobira Oy. Mobira Oy’s first product was the 10-kilogram Mobira Senator, which was the first ever car telephone. Nokia Corporation acquired Solora in 1984, and three years later, it launched the Mobira Cityman 900, the world’s first mobile phone.

In 1988, the Nokia Corporation was divided into six subsidiaries that focused on telecommunications, data, electronics, cables, machinery, and mobile phones. One of the subsidiaries was Nokia-Mobira Oy, which was renamed Nokia Mobile Phones in 1989. Nokia sold off all its subsidiaries except Nokia Mobile Phones in the 1990s and remained a phone company thereafter.

7 Nintendo

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Nintendo was founded in 1889. Then, it was known as Nintendo Koppai, and its primary produce was playing cards. Nintendo Koppai’s playing cards were a hit in Japan, where they were widely used for gambling by the Yakuza, the Japanese equivalent of the mafia.

Nintendo’s higher-ups soon got skeptical about the future of playing cards and tried looking into other sources of income. They launched a love hotel with windowless rooms where couples could have a quick getaway and a taxi company. They also produced instant rice and vacuum cleaners, all of which were unsuccessful.

The playing card industry later got saturated, as expected, and Nintendo almost went bankrupt. It was only saved by its highly successful Ultra Hand toy that functioned like the extension of an arm and allowed people pick things that were beyond arm’s length.

Nintendo took interest in the gaming industry when it became the official distributor for the world’s first game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, in Japan. It later focused on making games for consoles until 1983, when it released its first video game console called the Family Computer (Famicom), which was later remodeled and renamed Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

6 Toyota

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Toyota is the brainchild of Japanese engineer Sakichi Toyoda, who made Japan’s first mechanical weaving machine in 1897. Toyoda acquired patents for his inventions, and in 1918, he created Toyoda Spinning and Weaving to create threads for his machines.

In 1926, he created Toyota Automatic Loom Works (now Loom Works) to focus on making weaving machines, while Toyota Spinning and Weaving concentrated on making threads for the machines. In 1927, he began mass production of his new G-Type weaving machine, 25 of which could be operated by one worker at once. Two years later, he sold the patent rights for his G-Type machine in all other countries excluding Japan, China, and the United States, to the Platt Brothers of Britain for 100,000 yen, which he gave to his son, Kiichiro, who invested it in researching into automobiles.

The automobile division was under Loom Works, and it made its first car, which contained parts from Chrysler, Ford, and Chevrolet, in 1935. It also released its first truck the same year, and the next year, it changed its name to Toyota for easier pronunciation. In 1937, Toyota Motor Corporation was separated from Loom Works. Meanwhile, Loom Works remains in business and still produces weaving machines, air-conditioner compressors, and forklifts. It also produces engines for Toyota vehicles.

5 Wrigley

Famous for its chewing gums, Wrigley was started by William Wrigley Jr in 1909. Before then, he worked as a salesman for his father’s soap business. Wrigley Jr gave free umbrellas to whoever bought his soap, but the umbrellas faded in the rain, so he switched to giving free baking powder. The baking powder proved more popular than the soap, so he dumped soap-selling to sell baking powder.

He did not want to give free soap to whoever bought his baking powder, so he gave out chewing gums, which, like the baking powder, turned out more popular than the soap. Wrigley saw a business in selling chewing gum, and in 1909, he bought Zeno Manufacturing, the company that supplied him with the chewing gums and converted it into the Wm Wrigley Jr. Company.

4 Peugeot

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In 1810, brothers Jean-Pierre and Jean-Federic Peugeot converted their flour mill into a steel mill to produce saw blades, coffee grinders, and pepper grinders. These products are the source of their distinctive logo—the lion with open jaws—that they used to symbolize the strength of their grinders. They soon moved into making crinolines (deadly dresses held together by steel frames) and later, umbrella frames, wheels, bicycles, and later vehicles.

Peugeot made its first bicycle, the Le Grand Bi bicycle, in 1882 and its first car, a three-wheeler, in 1889. As time went on, Peugeot was split into two divisions. One focused on making tools, while the other focused on making automobiles and bicycles. The two merged in the 20th century and concentrated on making cars and bicycles.

3 Suzuki

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Suzuki was started by Michio Suzuki in 1909. Like Toyota, it focused on making weaving machines and was called Suzuki Loom Works. It was renamed Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company in 1920, which, due to the success of its weaving machines, started the side gig of making automobiles.

Suzuki made its first prototype car in 1937 and released its first car four years later. During World War II, it was repurposed by the Japanese government to produce war materiel and only continued making its weaving machines after the war.

The weaving machine market crashed in 1951, and Suzuki, which was at the brink of bankruptcy, quickly returned to making automobiles. In 1952, it released a motorized bicycle, which was so successful the Japanese government provided it with subsidies to produce more bicycles and motorcycles. This formed the basis of the Suzuki Motor Corporation, which separated from the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Company in 1954.

2 Hasbro Inc.

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Hasbro—the world’s second-biggest toy maker after Mattel Inc.—was founded by the Hassenfled brothers in 1923. The brothers called it Hassenfeld Brothers Incorporated and dealt in selling fabric leftovers. Later on, they started using the leftovers to make pencil box covers, which they sold alongside their pencils.

In 1930, their suppliers increased the price of their pencils and started making pencil boxes, which they sold at a lower price. Not wanting to be thrown out of business, the Hassenfeld brothers started manufacturing their own pencils and later toys, which they considered school supplies.

By 1968, they changed their name to Hasbro Industries and fragmented the company. One focused on making toys, while the other focused on making pencils. The two were always at loggerheads, most especially because the toy division got more funds than the pencil division, which brought in more profits. Hasbro also diversified into running nurseries and making cookware, but neither was profitable. So, they sold off the pencil-making division and concentrated on making toys.

1 3M

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In 1902, five entrepreneurs founded today’s American conglomerate 3M in Two Harbors, Minnesota. They did not found the company to produce the over 50,000 goods it produces today. Rather, they founded it to mine corundum, which they wanted to process and sell as sandpaper. This is evident in its original name: the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, which was shortened to 3M in 2002.

The entrepreneurs soon found that the supposed mineral was not corundum but a useless rock. Undeterred, they went on to import another mineral that gave them a product of lower quality. In 1905, at the verge of bankruptcy, businessmen St. Paul and Lucius Pond Ordway pumped $25,000 into the company in exchange for 60 percent ownership.

This allowed the entrepreneurs to improve and expand their sandpaper business, and they soon delved into producing masking tape, cellophane tape, post-it notes, and floppy disks. The new businesses were a success, and today, 3M is active in several industries, including communications, office supplies, health care, security and transportation.

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