Monday, June 28, 2010

The Infamous Ike Clanton

Joseph Isaac (Ike) Clanton was a pivotal player of one of the most famous events in Wild West history, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He along with his younger brother Billy has chiseled their place in American Old West history. He was born on June 1, 1847 and one of seven children. His father, Newman Haynes Clanton was known as Old Man Clanton by many and was a day laborer, a gold miner, a farmer, and by the late 1870’s, a cattleman in the Arizona Territory. His mother was Maria Sexton (Kelso) Clanton and died in 1866 in a mining center.

After his mother’s death, Ike stayed with his father and brothers, Phineas (Fin) and Billy after they moved to Tombstone. His father ran a small lunch counter and then a ranch which Ike worked on. The Clanton boys earned a bad reputation and were accused of cattle rustling, banditry and murder. Ike didn’t gain fan as a notorious bad boy until his many conflicts with the Earps and Doc Holliday. He was an ill tempered, heavy drinking loudmouth that was constantly bad talking about the Earps.

The problems between the Earps began right after Wyatt arrived in Tombstone in November 1879. Wyatt’s horse was stolen and a year later he found out that it was in Charleston on the Clanton’s ranch. After getting ownership papers proving the horse to be his, Wyatt and Doc headed out to their ranch. They were met by 18 year old smart mouth Billy, who was somewhat threatening to steal more of his horses. He finally retrieved his horse, which seemed to anger Wyatt and Ike as well. After that, the Clantons and the Earps both exchanged accusations that each was committing the many crimes happening in and around Tombstone.

On October 25, 1881, Doc Holliday confronted Ike about a stagecoach robbery which angered him. Ike got very drunk and belligerent and shortly afterwards, an argument with Holliday ensued. Morgan and Virgil threatened to arrest the both of them if they didn’t stop, so they did. They left the scene, Doc to get some sleep, but Ike stayed up through the wee hours playing cards with Tom McLaury and Virgil Earp. When the game was over and the other boys went to bed, but Ike kept drinking and was seen carrying his rifle in the middle of town, yelling like a fool, threatening Doc and the Earps. Virgil and Morgan were able to get the jump on Ike, knocking him out and throwing his filthy butt in jail. He was fined for carrying a weapon in the city, paid the fine and had a heated exchange of words with the Earps as he left.

Ike, along with Tom McLaury, later met up with his younger brother Billy and Tom’s brother, Frank, in back of the O.K. Corral. They were angered by what the Earps did to Ike and made strong threats against them. The Earps got wind of the threats, headed down the street towards the O.K. Corral, and was joined by Doc Holliday. They went there to retrieve the McLaury’s and Clanton’s weapons, and a few minutes later history was made. At 3:00 pm on October 26, 1881 in a vacant lot behind the O.K. Corral, a gunbattle ensused and at the end, three men were dead. There were reports by witnesses that Ike was unarmed and was able to skinned out unharmed along with Billy Claiborne, but his little brother Billy and the McLaurys were not as lucky. Afterwards there was a hearing against the Earps who were accused as being murderers.

In his usual fashion, Ike tried to spin the story making it look like the Earps and Holliday went to the corral with the intent to purposely murder all of them. He painted them as cool blooded killers and lied about other incidences from the past further making them look like liars and thieves. However, the Earps had a better defense and with all that Ike tried to do to get them convicted of murder, the charges were eventually dropped.

In December of 1881, Ike along with his brother Fin and Pony Diehl, attacked Virgil Earp in an attempt to assassinate him. Virgil didn’t die but was disabled for life. Ike was arrested but his friends provided him with an alibi, so the judge had no choice but to dismiss the case. There attempt to kill Virgil failed but in March of 1882, Ike along with Frank Stilwell and others, attacked Wyatt and Morgan leaving Morgan mortally wounded. He eventually died from his wounds causing Wyatt to remove Virgil from Tombstone for his safety. After Wyatt killed Stilwell, the Earp Vendetta Ride went after Ike and the other cowboys involved in the slaying of Morgan and the second attempt on Virgil’s life. Ike escaped again but his hell raising days were not over yet.

After getting caught cattle-rustling with his brother Fin, they were trapped at the Jim Wilson’s Ranch on Eagle Creek, near Springerville, Arizona by Detective Jonas V. Brighton on June 1, 1887. Fin surrendered quietly but not Ike. He was shot twice with the fatal blow going through his heart. He fell off his horse and hit the ground dead. There were many reports of where his body was buried, but it wasn’t until 1996 that a remaining relative, Terry Clanton, along with grave expert, James A. Browning, found where it was officially located. Under a large tree near the creek in Greenlee County, Arizona, is a shallow grave they believe to be his. Even though Terry has tried to get Ike’s remains buried in the Boothill Graveyard near Tombstone, the town’s officials feel that his remains shouldn’t be bothered.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Ghosts of the Birdcage Theatre

The Birdcage Theatre opened in 1881 and was not only a theater, but also served as a saloon, gambling hall and brothel. The New York Times called it, “The wildest, roughest, wickedest honky tonk between Bash Street and the Barbary Coast”. It had all the best beer and champagne and a miner could spend a month’s pay there. It was opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and even on holidays. There were 26 deaths during the 80 years of business and has over 120 bullet holes in the walls and ceiling.

On December 25, 1881, William “Billy” Hutchinson and his wife Lottie opened the Bird Cage Theatre. It got its name from the 14 boxes that were referred to as “cages”. These cages are located on the second story balconies on both sides of the main hall. Each box had drapes that could be drawn while the prostitutes amused their cliental. Also found in the main hall is a stage where live performances were held and below was an orchestra pit.

Many famous and notorious legends frequented the Bird Cage. Performers such as Lillian Russell, Lotta Crabtree, and Eddie Foy Sr. have performed on the stage along with Fatima, the belly dancer. Others like the Clantons, Earps, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and even Pete Spence, laid down many silver coins for a shot of whiskey. The basement was set up as a poker room and where the story is told that the longest-running poker game in history was played there. This game was played 24 hours, and apparently lasted eight years, five months, three days, with over 10 million dollars exchanging hands. Some of the participants were Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst, with the house getting 10 percent of the profits. The game ended when the ground water seeped into the mines, flooding many of the buildings. In 1889 the town went bust, along with the Bird Cage Theatre and the building had to be closed.

Perhaps one of the most notorious prostitutes at the Bird Cage was named “Gold Dollar” because of her long gold hair. It was said that a woman named Margarita came to town and took a shine to Gold Dollar’s boyfriend Billy. She loved sitting on his lap and flirting with him. One time Gold Dollar got wind of Margarita sitting on Billy’s lap and she headed to the Bird Cage Theatre. She threatened Margarita and told her that she was going to cut out her heart. They got into a brawl and Gold Dollar stabbed Margarita in the chest, and cut her heart out. The angry ghost of Margarita has been seen walking around the Bird Cage Theatre.

In 1934, the Bird Cage Theatre’s new owners opened the place back up for show. They found everything in the building the exact way it was left, even the poker table. Today the Bird Cage stands as a tourist attraction and a visual look into its colorful past. With its violent history, there is no short supply of ghostly activity reported there. Several ghost hunting teams such as Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and Ghost Lab have investigated the place with incredible results.

Some of the ghostly claims that have been reported are crowd noises, music, card shuffling and the smell of cigar smoke. A stage manager was said to be killed there when a sandbag dropped on him. His ghost can be seen walking across the stage. A gift store owner saw the spirits of three cowboys in the gift store just standing in the back, and then disappeared. In the poker room in the basement, a lady in a white dress has been seen in the security cameras when no one was in that room at that time. They even have a photo of a white ghostly figure on the stairs leading down to the basement. The apparition appears to be a woman in a bonnet holding her dress as she walks down the stairs. A female employee was helping an older gentleman find his wife only to have him disappear on her. A tourist found a rare gold coin ($25 birdcage chip with only 3 in existence) on the table in the poker room. No one can explain where it came from because it wasn’t there before. In some pictures, a ghostly figure of a cowboy can be seen in the stagecoach in the back area of the theater. During a séance, an owner was choked by a spirit’s unseen hands. Also, the smell of cheap lilac perfume can be smelt in various areas of the building.

Ghost Hunters: The personal experiences of the TAPS team were cards shuffling, smelling smoke, shadows walking across the window, a shadow walking across the stage (perhaps the stage manager), a ball dropping and rolling, and cowboy boots walking. Jason and Grant saw a woman about 5’ tall, in a white dress, wearing a bonnet, going downstairs to the poker room. They could not find anyone down there. (Perhaps the same woman caught on the security camera and in the photo). They also smelt a lilac smell (perhaps the presence of Margarita). Steve and Brian heard a loud noise and found their heavy electrical cord unwrapped and lying on the ground. They could not figure out how that happened.

On audio they captured the sound of a piano (music) playing. If Brian and Steve heard it they would have said something but did not. On video they caught the cord lift up and unwrap itself by some unseen force. That was pretty cool.

Ghost Adventures: Zak immediately sees a light and Aaron hears voice. They said it felt like 50 people were watching them and then proceeded to hear a man's voice. As Zak continues to shoot a gun, Aaron felt something tugged on his flashlight perhaps mistaking it for a gun. They heard a sound in the hearse area and headed to towards that room. Nick is now asking for some action and he got it, a noise where the prostitutes’ pictures are hung. Zak points his camera at each picture asking if they made the noise; while Nick hears a growl. Zak's camera went out of focus after asking one of the pictures if they are trying to get their attention and then the sees a bluish face to the side of him. Now near the hearse, Zak produces a silver dollar to see is Caleb will come forward and right afterwards, they heard a knock. Zak then gets in the coffin leaning on the wall but nothing happened. Zak and Nick head back to the poker room with whiskey and cigars while Aaron watches on the screens. On the way down, Zak sees a shadow and gets goose bumps. They both heard a man talking but the cameras didn't pick it up. They did capture a faint female scream. They offer the whiskey and cigar to the spirits while their camera near the stagecoach caught unexplained footsteps. On the digital recorder they caught male voices saying "come here” and "no, keep talking", and then another voice saying "no". They checked to see if Aaron said the “no” because it was so clear, but it wasn't him. They continued hearing multiple disembodied voices and noises. Now it’s Aaron turn in the poker room alone. Standing near the stagecoach in the hearse room, he had the feeling like someone was following him up the stairs to the room. He puts the recorder on the death mobile, as he describes it and slides underneath the hearse. He freaks out and quickly gets out from under. He said that he felt something grab his shirt and decides it was time to leave. Aaron to the guys, “Dude not cool, not going to do this no more.” On their static cameras in hearse room, they caught a voice. In the poker room, they caught a strange light and caught what sounded like cards shuffling and a grunt or breath. Dwight, the paranormal investigator, thinks the light might be a spirit trying to manifest itself, because it looked like an upper torso. He listened to the female voice and heard it saying "someone is here" and a male voice "sighing" loudly as if they interrupted them having sex. He also confirmed hearing the cards shuffling, and then a noise like the cards were hit on the table afterwards.

Apparently, there is lots of spirits still haunting the Bird Cage Theatre; those that died there and those that did not get to finish their game.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Old Spaghetti Company: Pasta and Ghosts

It has be a long time since I had a meal at the Old Spaghetti Company. Any place that serves up pasta with a side of ghosts has my attention. Sitting in downtown Phoenix, Arizona on Central Avenue is an old building which once was two houses where the Cole and Baker families resided. Both houses were built in the 1920’s and were merged together when the Cole family bought the Baker House in the 1940’s. With an addition built between the houses to unite them into one establishment, a furniture shop was the first store to open its doors in the newly renovated building.

The building was eventually sold to the Barrow Family and then to a Phoenix business man in the 1970’s. He turned the building into a restaurant and the Spaghetti Company was born. It remained as such until 1996 when they sold the property to the Old Spaghetti Factory.

Shorty afterwards the ghost stories started to become more apparent after employees and guest started experiencing strange occurrences. One time when two Phoenix police officers were enjoying their dinner, they heard the loudest bone-chilling scream, almost like someone was being murdered. This visually shook up the employees as well as the officers. The scream came from an abandoned area on the second floor of the Baker house portion of the building. After being gone a long time to check out the incident, the officers came back downstairs and warned all the employees to not go up there but never elaborated on why.

There have been stories told about murders in that section of the building along with ghost sightings. An old man was bludgeoned to death while sleeping and a woman was shot and killed. Most of the paranormal activity was reported by the ones that worked there. The reports are from hearing someone whispering their names when they were alone, white masses floating in some of the rooms, tables and chairs moving on their own, lights turning off and on, and the sound of a woman crying in the basement. They also noted that under the buildings were bizarre tunnels that no one knew existed.
There have been paranormal teams that have investigated the place. Some have reported seeing an apparition of a girl floating, cold spots, an uneasy feeling, hearing a young girls voice saying “Mommy”, the faint sound of 1930’s music, and a woman’s voice.

Next time you are in the mood for an Italian dish; don’t forget to check out the Old Spaghetti Company and its unseen guests.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Those Bizarre AZ Names: Part Two

Here I go again with another group of those bizarre Arizona names for some of the towns and crossings. This group didn’t provide me with much information for the source of their names leaving me to my own devices.

1. Happy Jack – This small place in Arizona is located in the Mogollon Rim Region of Coconino County. With the gawd awful hot summers in Phoenix, many escape to this area for a cool getaway. I couldn’t find the source to this name, so here is what I think. As Jack and his wife, Jill, were heading up the hill to fetch a pail of water, they looked over this beautiful piece of land and decided to stay. They christened the occasion with lots of sex, thus making him a happy Jack. Corny I know, but this is what I thought when I read the name.

2. Hard Rocks - Hard Rocks is a community located in the Navajo County. A beautiful place in the northern part of Arizona where many amazing rock formations can be found. The name came from these rock formations.

3. Booze Crossing – Located in Mohave County, is an area called Booze Crossing. I didn’t find the source for this name but this must be where the Duke boys were able to get Granny’s homemade elixir cross the state without being detected by Sherriff Joe.

4. Pipyak – This town is located in Pima County. I couldn’t find much about the name but I thought it was funny. I just want to know, what the hell is a pipyak?

5. Three Way - Three Way is a community in Greenlee County, Arizona, United States. How did this town get its name, make your own joke here. Perhaps Jack, Jill and a pipyak?

6. Coffeepot – Coffeepot is located in Gila County and got its name for the mountain nearby that was shaped like a coffeepot.

7. Bullhead City – Located near the Colorado River sits the town of Bullhead City. Once known as Hardyville in the 1800’s, this town had a bustling population because of the profitable mines in the area. Once the mines dried up, Hardyville became a ghost town. Many decades later, the town was brought back to life and named Bullhead City after Bullhead Dam. The bullhead name was derived from the Bull’s Head Rock, which is a well known landmark on the Colorado River. The construction for the Bullhead project was completed in 1953.

8. Gripe – This place is located in Safford AZ, which was founded by three gentlemen. Their work on canals and dams was destroyed by floods in 1873 which makes me think that Gripe came out of that incident. Since there was no source for the name, I just have to assume. (We all know what happens when you assume, lol)

9. Kool Corner –Kool Corner is located in Yuma County. The only thing I could find out was that it was named for an area in the town. The name “Kool” brings me back to the 70’s and for some reason, one of George Carlin’s jokes: “I am the hippy dippy weather man, with your hippy dippy weather, man.” Gotta love him.

10. Skull Valley – This town is a small ranch community located 12 miles west of Prescott in Yavapai County. Located in this one-horse town are a general store, a church, an auto shop, and a post office. Skull Valley was once home to western artist, George Phippen. He was co-founder and first president of the Cowboy Artists of American. The town may have been named for all the skulls found in the surrounding desert or a rock resembling a skull, but I’m not exactly sure.

11. Snaketown – The archaeological site of Snaketown belongs to the Hohokam culture of the American southwest, and is located on the Gila River in the Sonoran Desert of central Arizona. Occupied from the 1st century BC through the mid-1500s, Snaketown consists of a village of pit houses and one large (195 feet by 15-20 feet deep) oval ball court, indicating evidence of connections with Central American societies. (Wikipedia)

12. Three Forks – This tiny bit of heaven is located in the White Mountains in Apache County. Was it name for the three forks in the road that meet where the town exists or did a cowboy ride up on the area and saw three forks jabbed into the ground? I am going with the first suggestion.

13. Wikieup – Just about a 2 ½ hour drive from Phoenix, Wikieup is a small community located in the western part of Arizona. Another name I couldn’t fine its origin, so here is how I pictured how the name came about. A cowboy stumbled out of the saloon after spending several hours celebrating his poker winnings. He fell down the steps leading to the saloon and began looking for his horse. He finally found his horse and tried several times to mount up. Two other cowboys watched him flop around like an idiot and decided to help the wasted cowboy onto his horse. As he finally headed out of town, the men heard him yell, “wikieup, you son of a bitch”. After laughing at the dumbshit, they realized the name Wikieup would make a great name for their new town. At least they didn’t name the town “Son of a Bitch”, lol.

I have more to come later and hope that more information is given for the origin of the town, creeks and crossings names.