Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Liaison of Big Nose Kate and Doc Holliday

Mary Katherine Horony, Big Nose Kate, was born November 7, 1850 in Pest, Hungary. She was the long-time companion/common law wife of gunfighter Doc Holliday. She was the second oldest daughter of a Hungarian physician, Dr. Michael Horony. In 1860, he and his second wife Katharina and children traveled to the United States on board the ship Bremen. Her father was appointed the personal surgeon of Mexico’s Emperor Maximillian in 1862. After leaving that position and some traveling, the family made their home in Davenport, Iowa in a largely German community. Kate’s parents both passed away within a month of each other in 1865. After being moved around from place to place, Kate and her younger siblings ended up in foster care.

At the age of 16, Kate took off from the foster home and snuck onto a riverboat headed for St. Louis, Missouri. She met a dentist named Silas Melvin, had a child, but sadly lost both of them in the same year. She stayed there until 1874 when she set out for Dodge City, Kansas, and worked in a “sporting house”, under the name of Kate Elder. The house was run by Nellie Bessie Earp, wife of James Earp where Kate was labeled as being a prostitute or soiled dove. She listed herself as a dance hall girl and worked there until she moved to Fort Griffin, Texas. There she met a card dealer named, Doc Holliday, at John Shanssey’s Saloon. This is where she acquired the moniker of “Big Nose Kate” because of her prominent nose. She was sassy and willful with a nasty temper equal to Doc’s and said that no man or place owned her. She also proudly stated that she was a soiled dove/dancer because she loved it.

Her feelings for Doc were tested when he had to defend himself against a no-good cheating gambler. It was in 1877 when Doc was dealing when a local troublemaker named Ed Bailey who decided to test Doc’s known bad temper. During the game Bailey would pick up the discarded hands which were in violation of the Western Poker rules. After being told a couple of times to not do that, Doc grabbed the pot and didn’t show his hand which pissed off Bailey who pulled out his pistol from under the table. Before a shot was fired, Doc’s mighty knife was able to gash Bailey’s stomach open, spilling blood everywhere.

Since there wasn’t a distinct jail in the town, Doc was held in a local hotel room. Seeing that a vigilante group was being formed against Doc, Kate set an old shed on fire. Fearing that the fire would consume the entire town, all the lawmen were busy putting out the fire, leaving one man guarding Doc. With a pistol in each hand, Kate overpowered the guard, allowing the two of them to escape.

The pair wound up in Dodge City, Kansas, where they registered at a boarding house as Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Holliday. They decided to make a life together with him promising to hang up his gambling hat and her giving up being a prostitute and soliciting in saloons. Many times throughout their relationship the duo separated. The first time Doc left for Colorado, with Kate and his friend Wyatt Earp staying in Dodge City. After an altercation which left a man dead and Doc running from a lynch mob, he headed back to Dodge City, but Kate and Wyatt were gone.

Doc heard that Wyatt moved to Tombstone, Arizona, where the mining town was booming from all the silver strikes. On his way to Tombstone to meet up with his old buddy, Doc stopped off at Prescott, Arizona, where he was on a win streak at the tables. After winning $40,000, he ran into Kate who was also on her way to Tombstone and the twosome decided to travel together.

While Doc lived in Tombstone, Kate ran a boarding house in Globe, Arizona, which was about 175 miles away. She would visit often and stay with Doc but it wasn’t always fun. Kate would get drunk and belligerent, with things ending in physical violence. By early 1881, Doc was tired of the vicious behavior and asked her to leave and not to return.

There is nothing like a women’s scorn, especially if you are “Big Nose” Kate. After four masked men held up a stage and the driver was killed, Kate in one of her drunken binges outwardly blamed Doc as being one of the masked men. After the booze worn off and Kate realized what she had done, she retracted her statement and all charges against Doc were thrown out. He gave her money, put her on a stage, and told her to never come back to Tombstone.

In 1882, Doc moved to Colorado because he was suffering with tuberculosis. It was rumored that Kate also lived in Colorado with her brother who owned property in Glenwood Springs. Since her brother’s home was near Sulfur Springs where Doc would go for treatments, there were reports of he and Kate spending time together until his death in 1887.

A year after Doc’s death, Kate married a blacksmith, George M. Cummings, and the two lived in Bisbee and Pearce, Arizona. A year later, in 1889, she left her husband, moved to a small railroad town, Cochise, Arizona, and worked in the town’s hotel. By mid 1900, she met a man named Howard and was on the move again, but this time to the mining town of Dos Cabezas. When Howard died in 1930, Kate inherited his property and a year later wrote the Governor of Arizona, George W.P. Hunt, asking to be permitted to live in the “Arizona Pioneers Home”. Since Kate was not born in the United States she wasn’t eligible to be admitted, but lied about her place of birth. She claimed to have been born in Davenport, Iowa, and was later accepted to the home. She lived there until her death on November 2, 1940, which was 5 days shy of her 90th birthday.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Circlestone Ruin

Tucked away amongst the rugged and mysterious Superstition Mountains lies an unfathomable ancient stone wall shaped in a circular pattern. This profound structure has a pinwheel appearance labeled as an “Indian Medicine Wheel”, and can be found about 54 miles east of Phoenix.

The wall is a remarkable 3 feet thick, relatively high and is seen in an uninterrupted circle that is estimated to be about 440 feet in length. The only entries are small access points scattered throughout the wall. The wall has a slight elliptical shape lending to the theory that it could be an ancient calendar or clock of some kind. Those who have studied it have noticed a possible sun alignment especially after the ruin was precisely mapped.

Here is how they describe the shape and theory: “The shape of the overall circle in the dimensions north-south as opposed to east-west. This has the effect of providing an additional, 90-degrees opposed diameter, which “doubles-up” the linear and circumference codes encrypted into the site. There is a flat section of wall over toward the east that spears to run for about 44 feet before reverting to a curve. The site has two clear “spoke” walls running out from the centre to the outer wall, as well as 4 “faint” spokes, which are now somewhat more difficult to detect.”

Others state that, “The Solstice and equinox sunrise may have been marked or measured on or by the straight portion of the east wall. The other alignment the data suggests is a horizon marker at Spring Equinox.”

The geographical placement of the Circlestone Ruin was built in an appealing locality deep in the Superstition Wilderness. From the location, mountain ranges can be seen 75 miles away such as the Superstition Mountains and Weavers needle to the west, the Sierra Anchas to the east, and the Mogollon Rim to the south.

The Circlestone Ruin is not the only archeological circular wall uncovered in the region. Many of the trails leading into the Superstitions are thought to have been paths used by the early people. Another stone wall with the same circular pattern was located northwest of Circlestone Ruin and called, “Paridise Spring Overlook.” From the center of the circle, it measures about 70 meters and is twice as large as Circlestone. The walls were not as substantial or elevated which made it hard to clearly identify the site. Chris Allen, who founded the site, presumed it to be another site where rituals were preformed akin to Circlestone.

The breathtaking view from the ruins is one to be seen but the ancient find is revered to be one of Arizona’s national treasures.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Hotel San Carlos Ghost Hunt Photos

More than 50 paranormal enthusiasts, along with their ghost hunting gear, converged on the known haunted Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix, AZ, this past Saturday night. Debe Branning hosted an informal investigation “Spirit Photo Workshop” where we got the opportunity to experience the ghostly activity that has been reported at the hotel.
At 3:00 pm we all met by the pool located on the third floor after dumping all our stuff in our rooms. Our room was on the fourth floor where the ghost children have been heard running up and down the halls late at night.  After the meet and greet and quick swim, we broke out in three separate groups for dinner. Three restaurants known for their paranormal activity were chosen. Our little group went to the George and Dragon that I wrote about earlier.  We met up with others that picked this fine English pub to have dinner.

After dinner it was back to the hotel where we split up in two separate groups for out private ghost tour. Our tour guide was Julia who took us to the manager’s apartment first. This area is where a couple of mischievous ghosts have made their presence known. There is one that makes his presence known in photos as orbs conveniently on women’s breasts. We offered up our girls but he wasn’t going for it.  We did an EVP session and Autumnforest did experience her hair being tugged.

Next, she took us down to the basement. This area has lots of activity and can be attributed to the tragic deaths that occurred down there. Because the hotel was first a school, the reported sightings in the basement are of children. The story is told that four boys were playing in the basement near where the well is located and all fell in and drowned. Their apparitions and the sound of children playing have been reported down there.  It was too hot and muggy, so we didn’t stay long.

Next was the stair case with its own interesting story. This is the stairs that Leone Jensen climbed to get to the rooftop where she plunged to her death. People have reports seeing a female figure floating down the hall on the 7th floor, and then moving up the stairs where it disappears.

Afterwards we decided to take another swim before the pool closed. The moon looked particularly creepy that night, especially next to the abandoned building across the street. 
 After a cool swim, we went to our room to conduct the experiments that Autumnforest had planned for us. No our good friend is not having a Flash Dance moment; it is just one of her experiments. There is a magnet in the band. She will explain more about all the experiments and results on her blog. (Investigation Hotel San Carlos Phoenix)   We did pick up some voices on our recorder and someone touched my foot while I was trying to sleep.

the hotel lobby

the mean streets of Phoenix from our room...
Don't know what that dude in the wheelchair is up to...

Abandoned building across the street from the hotel used to be a hotel or bank.

Hotel San Carlos in the morning. 

Looking down Central Avenue from the hotel.

*Check out Mike’s post on the history and haunts of the Hotel San Carlos:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Curly Bill Brosius: Wild West Outlaw

Tombstone seems to have an endless supply of stories from the notorious bad-boys, sultry women, famous lawman and places around town. Everyone knows plenty about the Earps, especially Wyatt, but I find that the lesser know people of this once booming mining town have the more interesting stories. They have also carved their names in the history books of the American Wild West. Curly Bill Brosius is another of those slightly mysterious outlaws that you may know little about.

William “Curly Bill” Brocius (or Brocious) has left his mark in American Old West history as an outlaw, gunman and a member of “The Cowboys” outlaw gang of Tombstone during the early 1800’s. He was born in 1845 in Crawfordsville, Indiana and his middle name was Graham. There is only one known picture of Curly Bill (above picture) and that one hangs in the Bird Cage Theatre Museum in Tombstone. He is described as a tall stocky man with freckles and dark curly hair.

As part of the Cowboys, Curly Bill was known to have the fastest shot of the gang. He was known to be able to shoot a running jackrabbit, candle flames out without touching the candles, and quarters between the fingers of anyone who was crazy enough to offer their assistance. Curly Bill was a nasty drunk that enjoyed making people dance by shooting his gun at their feet. Sometimes when feeling particularly wild, he would have them strip naked first.

Some documents have Curly Bill entering the Arizona Territory by way of Texas in 1878, but his earlier life is still a mystery. On October 27, 1880, Wyatt Earp escorted him to Tucson for shooting a town Marshal, Fred White. He claimed that he was drunk and his gun accidentally went off while White tried to arrest him. White died two days after being shot and before he died, confessed that he felt the shooting was an accident. Curly Bill still spent a couple of months in jail but was later acquitted with a ruling of accidental death.

There are many stories told about Curly Bill where he was involved in other crimes such as a robbery where a man was murdered, and then later a prison escapes with another man, Robert Martin. Curly Bill’s rumored history puts him with Martin in the Jesse Evans gang; a bunch of derelict mix match criminals that Billy the Kid was briefly was a part of before becoming one of John Tunstall’s Regulators. He was believed to be a part of the many crimes committed by the Cowboy gang.

Curly Bills notorious ways were more known after meeting the Clanton gang. He once rustled cattle and even was a tax collector for a sheriff making other rustlers pays taxes on their stolen cattle. He was shot in the neck by a so-called friend after a heated exchange of words. Since the bullet went through his neck and out his cheek, he survived to continue on a murderous rampage. In July 1881, he and Johnny Ringo murdered two men all in the name of revenge for the Clanton gang. He led an ambush again a Mexican trail herd killing six men and torturing the others. Because there was no way to prove that Curly Bill was a part of the killings, no charges were ever brought upon him. Later he earned the reputation as “Arizona’s most famous outlaw” and loved the recognition.

After the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, there are stories that Curly Bill was present at the attempt on Virgil Earp’s life and the murder of Morgan Earp. There was no proof or eyewitnesses putting him at the scene of the crimes but the Earp Vendetta Ride still had him on their revenge list. It was on March 24, 1882 that Wyatt was able to sneak up on Curly Billy’s camp and kill him with one single double shotgun blast to the chest about 50 feet away. Curly Bill was able to get a shot off at Wyatt before dying, but only winged his coat.

There are other tall tales stating that Wyatt didn’t kill Curly Bill who heard about these stories years later. It was told that he changed his name and moved back to Texas until he died. There was a $2,000 bounty on his head, if he was seen alive. That bounty was never claimed. Other stories state that after his death, he was buried on the Babocomari River, near the McLaury ranch, on land believed to have been once owned by Frank Stilwell and five miles west of the ghost town of Fairbank. If he was buried there, his gravesite is lost by all the wild vegetation that has grown around that area over time. Whatever the truth may be about this notorious bad-boy, he and his dusty old hat were never seen again in Tombstone after March 24, 1882.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ghosts of the George and Dragon Pub

There is a quaint little place in downtown Phoenix that reflects the look and feel of a genuine English Public House or “Pub”. The George and Dragon Pub opened its doors in 1995 and deliver that remarkable one of a kind ambiance that is usually seen in English pubs. The George offers the finest collection of imported Ales, Stouts and most exceptional Scotches that has any world traveler feeling like they are back at home. Along with the generous array of drinks, the George also offers up the best lunches, and dinners, along with a side of ghosts.

The owner of the George and Dragon, David, said that many of paranormal activity have been witnessed by employees and patrons of the pub. There are claims of glasses being thrown, people hearing they names being called out, women being grabbed by unseen hands, and bottles of beer exploding in midair. Other reports are of disembodied voices, moaning, footsteps, and the towel dispenser in the men’s room clanking. Eyewitnesses have claims of seeing shadow people, and the computers turning on by invisible forces.

David said that wherever he was working, in London or America, the paranormal activity seemed to follow him and this place was no different. A manager told that having your back poked and hair pulled is an ordinary occurrence he and the other employees experience on a nightly basis. He hates being alone at night and is unwilling to do so. Most of the activity happens in the late hours when the place is quiet. Famous psychic/medium Allison DuBois sensed the spirits that were hanging around the pub when she visited the George. Several paranormal teams have investigated the alleged claims to see if they were true. One of the team’s crew members was setting up equipment in the kitchen, and he felt someone grab his arm but no one else was in the room at the time. Voices and spirits that appeared to be answering the investigator’s questions were picked up on the recorders. It seems like there are intelligent ghosts hovering around the pub perhaps waiting for that glass of extraordinary scotch.

David feels the spirits are there because across the street from the pub was an Indian burial ground. His employees tell a different story and feel that he brought the ghosts with him from wherever he used to live. Whatever the reason, put the George and Dragon Pub on your places to visit the next time you are in Phoenix.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Legend of Gold Dollar

Tombstone has many famous legends that once walked the dusty streets and left their mark in the Wild West history. One of the lesser known legends was that of a dancer named Gold Dollar. She was first known as Little Gertie but with her long golden blonde hair, fair complexion and earning a gold dollar as payment for services bestowed, she was given the moniker “Gold Dollar”. She danced at the Crystal Palace saloon which was located near the Bird Cage Theatre. This woman was tiny in stature but very feisty and not to be messed with. Most of the women of this era were very protective of their men and Gold Dollar was no different.
Gold Dollar had taken a shine to a local gambler, Billy Milgreen, who passed himself off as someone influential. They lived together and she considered him to be her man. She threatened harm to any woman that touched and flirted with him. The women of Tombstone were afraid the petite prostitute and stayed away from Billy.

Trouble came to town in the name of Margarita, an attractive Mexican woman. With her creamy bronze skin, this sensual, graceful, mysterious woman with long black hair immediately set her dark eyes on Billy. She took a job as a soiled dove at the Bird Cage Theatre where many of the men along with Billy, were mesmerized by her beauty.

Margarita was aware of Gold Dollar and Billy’s relationship, but it didn’t stop her from flirting with the handsome gambler. The wrath of Gold Dollar was soon bestowed upon Margarita when she got wind of the bitch’s intentions. Even though she threatened Margarita with “cutting out her heart” if she didn’t back off, and Margarita continued flirting with Billy. Knowing what Gold Dollar was capable of, he promised her that he would have nothing to do with Margarita and would ignore all her flirtations.

One evening, Billy got wind of a high stakes poker game at the Bird Cage and wanted in on the action. Gold Dollar knew that Billy made his living gambling and grudgingly allowed him to play. She was working at the Crystal Palace that night and made him promise to stay away from Margarita. Excited about playing the game, he agreed whole heartedly and ran off to the Bird Cage.

While Billy concentrated on his cards and the game, Margarita flounced gracefully across the floor towards him trying to get his attention. Billy wanted to honor his promise to Gold Dollar but had trouble keeping his mind on the game as Margarita strutted around the table. After trying to get the gambler’s attention, she decided to plunk herself in his lap and overwhelm him with kisses.

Some stories say that Gold Dollar didn’t trust Billy being able to fight off Margarita’s affections and went down to the Bird Cage to check things out for herself. Other stories are that someone told her the hussy was putting moves on her man and she ran to the Bird Cage in a fit of anger. She busted through the doors and rushed over to where they were sitting. She grabbed a fistful of Margarita’s hair and pulled her off Billy.

The mystery of these women’s past paled in comparison to how Margarita was really killed by Gold Dollar. Here is what tales have been spun about the murder. After she was pulled off Billy, Margarita fought back against the petite woman but was no match for her enraged temper. Gold Dollar pulled out a 4 inch stiletto and stabbed her in the side. Before the doctor could reach her, Margarita died from her wounds. Other stories are told that she did indeed stab her in the chest and almost cut out her heart just like she had threatened to do. Margarita fell down and died instantly. When they called for the Sheriff, Gold Dollar ran out of the Bird Cage and hid the stiletto outside the building.

No murder charges were brought upon Gold Dollar because the murder weapon was never found. She ended up quietly leaving town, followed by Billy months later. It is not known exactly how many years later the stiletto was found, but it was discovered behind the Bird Cage. That stiletto is on eminent display inside the Bird Cage Theatre.

Many that work at the Bird Cage Theatre feel Margarita’s ghost is still hanging around the building. The lingering smell of cheap lilac perfume can by detected by the employees and visitors from time to time.