Category: History

How Billy the Kid Rose to Prominence in New Mexico

Henry McCarty is one of the most prominent figures from the Wild West era. Most people know him better as Billy the Kid.

He is known to have killed at least eight men before he himself was shot and killed at the age of 21.

McCarty became an orphan at age 15. He led a hard life without his parents, getting arrested for stealing food the following year. Only ten days later, he robbed a laundry and got caught again – but he escaped soon after.

That’s when he fled New Mexico for Arizona, turning himself into a federal fugitive and an outlaw. McCarty started calling himself William Bonney to try to avoid capture.

He Killed a Blacksmith in Arizona and Returned to New Mexico

After an altercation with a blacksmith in 1877, he decided to return to New Mexico. After joining some cattle rustlers, he became a well-known name in the territory. That’s when he took part in the Lincoln County War of 1878.

It wasn’t until the Las Vegas, NM newspaper ran stories about his crimes that McCarty’s notoriety grew. It only took a local sheriff a month to capture him after that feature, where he was tried and convicted for the murder of another sheriff during the Lincoln County War.

He was sentenced to hang the next month, but he escaped from jail on April 28, 1881, after killing two deputies. After evading capture for two months, he was shot and killed by law enforcement.

Legends grew that he survived the encounter, with several men claiming to be Billy the Kid. 

5 Affordable American Vintage Guitars

There’s something about vintage guitars that just seems to shout AMERICA! Maybe it’s the Made in the USA. Maybe it’s the classic American rock ballads. Maybe it’s the history behind them, or the unique sound they produce, but whatever it is, vintage guitars are definitely in demand.

The only problem? They can be pretty expensive. That’s why today, we’re going to take a look at 5 affordable vintage guitars that you can buy right now.

Fender Mustang

First up is the Fender Mustang. This guitar was first introduced in 1964, and has been a popular choice for vintage lovers ever since. It’s small and lightweight, making it perfect for players of all ages and experience levels. And with its vintage-style pickups, the Mustang delivers that classic Fender sound.

Les Paul Junior

If you’re looking for a vintage Gibson, the Les Paul Junior may be a good option. This guitar was first released in 1954, and has been a favorite of blues and rock players for decades. It’s simple and straightforward, with just one pickup and no fancy bells or whistles. But that’s part of what makes it so great – it delivers that classic Gibson sound without all the fuss.

Gretsch G5420T Electromatic

Next up is the Gretsch G5420T Electromatic. This guitar was designed to replicate the sound and style of vintage Gretsch guitars, and it does a pretty good job of it. With its hollow body and Bigsby tailpiece, the G5420T has a sound that’s unmistakably vintage. And at under $700, it’s a lot more affordable than most vintage Gretsch guitars.

Recording King RO-16

If you’re looking for a vintage-style acoustic guitar, the Recording King RO-16 might be a good option. This guitar was designed for players who want the vintage look and sound of a Martin guitar, but don’t want to pay the high price tag. It has all the features of a classic Martin acoustic, including a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and vintage-style appointments.

Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s

Finally, we have the Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster ’50s. This guitar was designed to replicate the look, sound, and feel of vintage Telecasters, and it does a great job of it. It has a vintage-style ash body, vintage-style pickups, and a vintage-style bridge. And at just $400, it’s one of the most affordable vintage Teles on the market.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable vintage guitar, any of these 5 guitars should be a good option. Happy shopping!

Why Kansas is Known as the Breadbasket of the United States

Kansas is considered the breadbasket of the United States because it typically produces more wheat than any other state in the country.

Winter wheat, which is found in almost every county, is used for grazing to feed the state’s 5.7 million cattle. It’s allowed to grow and ripen in the summer, producing enough to make billions of loaves of bread each year. 

Russel Springs claims to be the wheat capital of the world with its location and influence on the state’s production of this crop. 

Farmers Have Grown Wheat in Kansas for More Than a Century

When the United States accepted Kansas as a territory in 1854, the farmers in the area were already growing wheat. It’s a tradition that dates to the native tribes.

Summer wheat is more susceptible to drought than the winter variety, which is why many farmers grow that product in the state. In 1874, weather problems and insects destroyed a significant portion of the crop. Some decided to leave to find other opportunities, but those who stayed started varying their crops and growing techniques.

Kansas continues to be a significant producer of wheat, and it is also the largest flour milling state in the nation. The industry provides about $4 billion in revenues to the economy while supporting approximately 30,000 jobs.

In 1886, Kansas harvested wheat across 68,000 acres. In 2014, farmers planted 8.8 million acres with double the yield. The world can thank the producers of this state for their contributions to the food cycle, especially since the harvest provides enough food to feed every human for two weeks. No matter how political and cultural climates may shift, the significance of Kansas will remain the same.

Books About the Roaring ‘20s

When the 1920s came into full swing, the American economy experienced a unique revival. After spending two full years in semi-permanent isolation because of the global influenza pandemic, people were ready to party, socialize, and enjoy some bootleg liquor.

It was a period in U.S. history where everything seemed to be going well. It would last for about a decade before the Great Depression reversed that trend.

Many people believe the world is set for another energetic explosion after the COVID-19 pandemic winds down. These books about the Roaring ‘20s give us insights into this era and how it might happen again in the 2020s.

1. Paris Without End

This book about the Roaring ‘20s talks about the true story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. If you were an American with money during that decade, you made your way to Paris. You’ll learn more about Hadley Richardson, who was a 29-year-old Midwestern girl who would end up marrying one of the world’s best poets and authors of the era.

2. The Girls of Murder City

One of the unique aspects of the Roaring ‘20s was the dramatic rise of organized crime. Although the stories often center around Al Capone and Chicago, many U.S. cities experienced this issue. This book follows the story of Maurine Watkins, who interviewed two murderesses in Cook County to get the public intrigued by the sensationalism of the era.

3. Last Call

The Roaring ‘20s started with a prohibition on the manufacturing and sale of alcohol. It would last until 1933. The Constitutional amendment sent liquor underground, created criminal empires, and defined the decade. This book examines the forces that profited from the Volstead Act – and how it eventually ended.

4. Zelda

It’s been said that the author of The Great Gatsby stole his ideas from his wife. Then he committed her to an asylum after spending ten years of marriage together. This book tells the tragic story of this woman’s life.

What book do you think you’ll pick up first?

Here’s Why We Celebrate the 4th With Fireworks

One of the iconic traditions for the 4th of July celebrations that happen each year in the United States is to light fireworks. Did you know that we all have President John Adams to thank for this tradition?

When Adams was getting ready to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he wrote a letter to his wife. In it, he said that the moment would be one of the most memorable occasions in America’s history. It should be solemnized with numerous activities, including bonfires and illuminations, from “one end of the continent to the other.”

Since Adams was a well-known figure in the colonies, it didn’t take long for his wishes to spread to each community. Only one year later, in 1777, the first party to celebrate the 4th of July was held in Philadelphia. They set off 13 firework rockets in the town square.

The U.S. Has Never Had a 4th of July Without Fireworks

Although most cities didn’t celebrate with fireworks on that first 4th of July remembrance, it has been a holiday when fireworks have always been present. Even if we’re not celebrating together in person because of the ongoing pandemic, the colorful displays in the sky are still viewable online or while following social distancing.

It’s a unique holiday tradition, especially since most historians think that fireworks were invented over 2,300 years ago in China.

Adams would be proud of what would become a holiday tradition if he could see it today. From hot dogs and apple pie to the pomp and circumstance of community parades, this day is one of the few times when people set their differences aside to celebrate their country.

Can you imagine what would be possible if we were to follow the same process each day that we do when celebrating the founding of the United States?

Books That Share the Real Stories About American Cowboys

When you think about the Wild West, what comes to mind? It is a set of stories about cowboys, Native Americans, gangs, sheriffs, and the occasional gold rush for many people.

It’s one of the most romanticized eras of American history. If you look at what happened in the late 1800s, it’s also about two decades of homesteading that doesn’t fit the fantastic tales Westerns offer.

If you want to know about the real stories of American cowboys, here are the books you’ll want to read.

1. Lonesome Dove

Although there are some fantastical elements in this story, it has everything from cattle drives to riverboat gamblers. It’s one of the few stories that paint an overview of the myth while keeping the people real and flawed.

2. Legends of the Fall

This collection of three novellas is one of the best stories of cowboys in the Wild West that you can find. The author uses an omniscient view that shows a lifetime of trials (and sometimes tragedy) that families encountered after moving West.

3. Appaloosa

If you want to catch some authentic dialogue from a Wild West marshal, you’ll want to pick up this book to read. It’s a classic tale of a lawless town with new lawmen providing some cover. You’ll get a feel for the authentic environment without everything getting blown out of proportion.

4. Desert Solitaire

This non-fiction book delivers a tribute to the American west, including all of the wild places you can find in the southwestern states. It’s written by a ranger who served at Arches National Park, delivering an honest commentary on what it means to live on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.

5. Cowboy Life: Reconstructing an American Myth

This 1975 novel is a landmark study on the legendary role of the American cowboy in the Wild West. It follows the daily duties of what this life was like in the Great Plains from the 1860s to about 1900, including a discussion about how Lonesome Dove and other stories influence modern perceptions about it.

What are some of your favorite cowboy stories that you’d recommend?

The Bloody History of Texas Chili

Texas chili is one of those dishes that people tend to love or hate. Numerous recipes have developed over the years, some with meat and others without, creating a spicy soup-like dish with beans, peppers, corn, and other vegetables.

This dish’s popularity is so strong that it has spent over four decades as Texas’s state dish despite the region’s love of barbecue.

What many do not know about chili is that it has a remarkably bloody history.

Chili Was Served in Texas in the 1860s

The first chili dishes were introduced by women called “Chili Queens” in San Antonio. During the 1860s, they provided these meals in the Military Plaza to soldiers operating in the area.

You could also find chili stands in Houston and Galveston, delivering the combination of dried cumin and peppers with tamales. Local laborers began to see it as a quick and filling meal, especially when they realized that beans went well.

If you go back even earlier, Mexican families served spicy dishes out of the slums and hovels around Texas. Some writers during the time described the house-based restaurants as serving a plate with “a fiery pepper that bites like a serpent.”

The original recipe was red pepper, peas, beef, and gravy for chili con carne in San Antonio. A newspaper article from the time says that “they always have enough to go around, for no stranger, no matter how terrific a durned fool he is, ever calls for a second dish.”

Then they say you can’t put water in him fast enough with a “steam engine hose.”

Why Is the History of Texas Chili “Bloody?”

Although laborers enjoyed chili on a lunch break, much like we want to visit a taco truck today, this dish served as a simple military recipe that could be taken almost anywhere.

If it was cold outside, soldiers could eat the chili to get warmer. It was filling, satisfying, and something to provide energy for a battle to come.

There’s also the history of San Antonio to consider. It could be argued that no other community in the United States has seen as much conflict.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll find that modern chili is still as tasty as its predecessor recipes.

Every War Fought on American Soil

If you want to document every war fought on American soil, the first step in that process is to define “war” and “location.”

Are we talking about only the mainland United States, or do territories and possessions also count?

Does a single battle count when documenting these wars, or must it be a continued conflict for it to get counted?

You’ll find several definitions online that create different lists. When you want the definitive count for every war fought on American soil, you’ll get eight.

List of the Wars Fought on American Soil

Here is the generally accepted list of the eight wars that were fought on American soil. Although these battles weren’t exclusive to the United States only, they did have actions within the country’s borders.

  1. The Revolutionary War
  2. The War of 1812
  3. The Civil War
  4. The Mexican-American War
  5. The French and Indian War
  6. World War II (Pacific Theater and Oregon Bombing)
  7. King Philip’s War (Before the U.S. became a recognized country)
  8. Queen Anne’s War (Also before the U.S. was a country)

Several other conflicts that took place on American soil are considered “wars” by some historians. Here is a look at the disputed list of disputes that could be added to the overall index.

  • Cherokee-American Wars
  • Second Pennamite War
  • Northwest Indian War
  • Battle of Sitka
  • Tecumseh’s War
  • First and Second Seminole War
  • Winnebago War
  • Black Hawk War
  • Texas Revolution
  • Missouri Mormon War
  • Aroostook War
  • Dorr War
  • Milwaukee Bridge War
  • Bald Hills War
  • Pyramid Lake War
  • Black Hills War
  • Nez Perce War
  • Ghost Dance War
  • World War I (Ypiranga, Black Tom, Kingsland, Attack on Orleans)

If you include the generalized “War on Terror” that started in 2001, the September 11 attacks on New York City, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 would also make this list. Numerous blogs centered on the theme of past and present geo-political tensions and issues are available online.

American Novels That Wonderfully Encapsulate the Immigrant Story

Although the American story went through some stops and starts in the past four years, it is still one of the world’s most significant cultural melting pots.

You can find people from virtually every corner of the planet finding their way to the United States to make a new life for themselves and their families.

These fantastic American novels work to encapsulate those stories in unique and touching ways.

What Are the Best American Immigration Novels?

1. Behold the Dreamers

This novel introduces the reader to a Cameroonian family where the husband becomes a chauffeur for an executive at Lehman Brothers. When things fall apart because of the Great Recession, you’ll find that the drama creates a beautiful story about perseverance, love, and grace from an authentic American perspective.

2. Americanah

You’ll find one of the best contemporary characters in American immigration literature in this story. It follows a Nigerian woman who comes to the United States on a scholarship. Her significant other encounters troubles with government policies, so you’ll get a frank take on what people face in today’s world.

3. The Book of Unknown Americans

What makes this novel a must-read item is its structure. Instead of following one story, you’re getting to know several voices who all speak in the first-person to you. It’s a place where you can see blatant racism, hate, and hope – all on the same page.

4. Ha Jin

This story introduces us to Nan Wu, who came to the United States after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. After making America their permanent home, it becomes a story about one person’s search for meaning and a place in this world. How can you identify with your culture while living in a different country?

What are some of your favorite books about immigration that you’ve picked up to read over the past year?

What Makes the Boston Accent So Unique?

The Boston accent is unique in the United States because of its phonological characteristics. You’ll hear different vowel sounds, especially in the centering diphthongs, that make it more nasal and with additional short “a” sounds compared to others.

Any words that have “ar” together in them create the classic example of the Boston accent. Instead of say, “car,” you’d hear someone say, “cah.” If you were headed to the park with the kids for the day, you’d go to the “pahk.”

This accent started in the early 20th century, but it seems to be retreating with the younger generation. Although you can still hear it in the city’s older neighborhoods, the change is getting closer to a NYC accent instead.

The Pronunciation Is Over 400 Years Old

Although the city has been speaking with the Boston accent for about a century, the phonetics behind the words are over 400 years old. It’s called “non-rhotic” pronunciation, dating to the time when the first settlers came from Europe.

During the 17th century in England, it was considered a rustic part of the English language to omit the “R” sounds from most words. It’s not considered a prestige feature, but the city of Boston is who led the way in that perspective.

The removal of “R” sounds wasn’t limited to the spoken word. When you review documents from the 17th century throughout Massachusetts and upper New England, you’ll find most words had the letter removed. That means people named “George” had their names document as “Geoge.”

That’s why you can find George Washington documents that say “Geoge Washington.”

It’s not only the phonetics that set the Boston accent apart from others. You can find the city using British slang for some terms, such as “rubbish” instead of saying “trash.”

You can also engage in a fun conversation about whether you’re having soda, pop, or Coke when you need a carbonated beverage.