Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Turquoise and Silver and an Old, Ratty Blanket

I was researching a book and needed to find something that could be laying around unnoticed in an old house, but still be worth enough to buy a ranch.

The book is set in the Southwest, so naturally I began looking at vintage Native American jewelry. There are some stunning examples by well-known artists like Tim Kee Whiteman and John Hartman.

This bracelet is by Tim Kee Whiteman and is the inspiration for the bracelet Reed gives to Catie at the beginning of Silver Dreams...On A Tin Can Budget. It is valued at 2250.00

This pendant is by John Hartman. The stone is from the famous Lavendar Pit in Brisbee, Arizona, and is valued at 7800.00.

As you can see, both are beautiful, but neither is worth enough to buy a ranch, even a small one.

I was really getting frustrated when I came across a story about a Navajo (Dinè) First-phase Chief's Wearing Blanket. Navajo Chief's blankets come in four phases.

Until about the 1820's, the Navajo made simple striped blankets identical to the Pueblo. That's when Navajo weavers began making the First-phase blankets. There are probably no more than 100 of the First-phase blankets left in existence. Prized even then, they cost from 100 to 150 dollars when wages were about 5 dollars a week.

Further research revealed a story that couldn't be made up. No one would believe it.

When Loren Krytzer lost his leg in a car wreck, he was unable to work. Because of that, he also lost his home and business. After his grandmother died, the rest of the family went through her house and took almost everything.

The only thing they allowed him to have was a dirty, worn old blanket. They didn't seen any value in it, and neither did he at the time, but it was a remembrance of his grandmother. He was at home watching Antiques Roadshow when he saw a similar blanket appraised at half a million dollars.

After contacting an appraiser, Krytzer's blanket sold for one and a half million dollars. See, if an author wrote that storyline in a book, readers would shout, "Unbelievable!"

My hero, Reed McCoy's story isn't quite as dramatic, but his involves a First-phase Blanket, too. If you'd like more information on Loren Krytzer's story, check out this link, Man sells blanket.

Silver Dreams...On A Tin Can Budget and the other Novellas in the Copper Mills World are available on Amazon.

Have you ever found something you thought was worthless, and it turned out to be valuable?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Christmas Magic By: Nan O'Berry

In 1987, something happened that changed Christmas and brought an understanding of the magic in the season. It brought an old curmudgeon, a little girl, a wise old elf, and a newspaper together to enhance and spread the idea of faith.

But before we bring the players out, we have to go all the way back to September of that year. In a small brownstone building on West Ninety fifth Street in the great city of New York, there a sweet child had been tormented by her schoolmates. Returning home in tears, she recounted the discussion that led to an argument.

“Is Santa Claus real?”

Though her mother consoled her, the answers she gave did not satisfy the inquisitive nature of this eight year old. So, the discussion continued when her father came home. A brilliant man and a devote to the New York Sun, he surmised that…”If you read it in the Sun, it must be true.”

Well, in those days as we know, there were no Google searches, no internet. Mr. Claus himself was brought to our shores by immigrants, who recounted the tales brought from their homelands. The Dutch who established New Amsterdam later New York, knew him as Sinta Klaas which was later converted to Saint Nicholas (1773). Later (1809) a writer by the name of Washington Irving gave him a blue three cornered hat, a red waist coat, and yellow stockings. But the real image we have of Santa Claus, came to use by Clement Moore and the illustrator, Thomas Nast. Suddenly, he was a “right jolly old elf” who wore a red suit, drove a sleigh pulled by reindeer through the night sky and miraculously delivered toys to the world in one night alone!

 I must say it was quite the deed. Yet, I digress. Let me get back to my tale.

On this September evening, our intrepid young waif, was urged by her father to write a letter. Pencil and paper in hand, she penned these lines. 

Dear Editor: 
I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. 
Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so."
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Well of course, the letter was mailed and when it came to the Sun, the brother of the owner, a cynic, an atheist, who didn’t believe in superstitious belief was given the task of answering the child. I wonder how hard it was to know that your words would doom a child to heartbreak if they were rough and unhewned? Did her innocence affect his answer?

Francis Pharcellus Church had to rise to the occasion. He wrote to little Virginia O’Hanlon a letter which still brings tears to our eyes and gives us the most wondrous look behind the veil of belief with our hearts.

He told her,

 “Yes, Virginia, your little friends are wrong. VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, VIRGINIA, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance, to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!
You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus,but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?
Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not; but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine  all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise  inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. 

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain 
and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.   

Is it real?

Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! 

Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, VIRGINIA, nay, ten times ten
thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Although his words touched everyone’s heart and provided proof that this is something more tangible
 to St. Nicholas that many wish to believe, Mr. Church never signed the editorial. 

And what became of our Virginia O’Hanlon? Oh, I believe she carried that editorial around in her hands
 for quite some time. She lived from 1889 to 1971. Her little letter, still touches the hearts of children 
and adults everywhere.  

 As we begin this season of love, let us keep Virginia’s wide eyed innocence and belief that there is
 nothing but good in this world for those who do believe.

To the readers of Cowboy Kisses, allow me to wish you all the most wonderful of holidays and a very, 
very Merry Christmas.

The editorial can be found using these links:  The letter used in this article was found here:

Sun editor Frances Pharcellus Church (1839-1906) -  
Scan of the original version of the editorial published in The New York Sun

Friday, November 23, 2018

Legend of Minnehaha from an Interesting Source

I have a weakness for books, especially free books.

My county genealogical society announced at our meeting a week ago they had several books available for free because they were outdated, had copyright issues, or were duplicates--issues that that made them inappropriate to be in a county library repository.

I found some interesting genealogical sources, but mostly I felt drawn to the HISTORICAL books. Among them was the following book:

From Fort Atkinson, Iowa to Long Prairie, Minn.
Guarding Removal of Winnebago Indians

By William E. Read

Private in Morgan's company

This narrative, which was transcribed from handwritten pages, was originally written about 1848 at the close of the Mexican-American War. In the middle, the author told an interesting account of the legend of Minnehaha.

I looked this up on Wikipedia, and here is what the first paragraph read:

Minnehaha is a fictional Native American woman documented in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. She is the lover of the titular protagonist Hiawatha and comes to a tragic end. The name, often said to mean "laughing water", literally translates to "waterfall" or "rapid water" in Dakota.

Yet, in this narrative, the author wrote it as an actual event he heard from the last living witness. Here is the transcribed story from the ca. 1848 narrative listed above, including the original spelling and punctuation:

Now we are approaching the rocky cliff, or precipice, where Minnehaha took her fatal leap that immortalized her name. As I am, perhaps the only white man now living who met and talked with an eye witness of that tragic scene, I will tell what he told me. He was a small Indian, not more than 4 and one half feet high, rather lean and sparely built, tolerably gray; and, I should think, about seventy-five years old. The interpreter I had was a young half-breed, by the name of Balige, who lived in the vicinity of Reed’s Landing, below Wabasha, on the Mississippi. He was not an expert in the language of the Dakotas, but could converse with them pretty well. The old Indian said, and showed with his hands:

“A good many years, or moons, ago,” pointing north west, “up a river”, (which we understood to be the St, Peters river) lived a young chief. He married another chiefs daughter; and, after so many moons, came with his wife to a big falls on this river and went down a little ways to a little falls. That here his wife was delivered of a daughter (paplaspapoose), it being near enough the little falls so that they could hear the noise. The woman, waking up once, and a kind of dreamy state, and hearing the sound of the water falling, thought it was a band of Indians laughing, and she asked her husband, “Who is that laughing?” He answered “It is the water laughing (Menaukuanuahuawah).” The name has grown into Minnehaha in the same way that Ouisconsin has grown into Wisconsin, and Maquoquetois into Maquoketa. When little Menauhuawah grew up to womanhood, she was the fairest of fair daughters of the northwestern tribes and just as good as she was handsome. She was beloved by all the Indians far and wide and had lovers, who sought her hand in marriage by the score. 
John Henry Bufford's cover for The Death of Minnehaha, 1856.

One young brave, from away east on the Wisconsin river wooed her and won her heart. But her father had grown to be a big chief -- Head Chief of a good many tribes, and it was beneath his dignity to give his daughter in marriage to a low grade hunter. She must marry a chief, and he forbade the young brave’s coming about his lodge. The Old Chief had located his village some way up the ridge from where Menauhuawah made her fatal leap. Finding that his orders had been disobeyed, and that the lovers had met, against his will, he flew into a passion and sold his daughter to a young chief that lived away up the St. Peter river. The time arrive when the young chief was to come and claim his bride. All preparations were made, and the ceremony was to take place at sundown. When the groom came in sight, everyone was on alert, and Menauhuawah slipped out and her absence was not discovered until she was half way to the river. The Big Chief ordered some young braves to run after her and fetch her back. A good many ran, but three of the swiftest outran the others, and were within a few bounds of her when she leaped from the precipice. They ran to the edge and looked down, but could see nothing of her. They had to go back some distance before they could found a place where they could get down. They got down and went to the place where she went over, but could find no sign of her whatsoever, not even blood on the rocks where she must have fallen. For two days, the whole tribe and the bridegroom with all his retinue made search, but could find no trace or sign of Menauhuawah’s body. 

Death of Minnehaha by William de Leftwich Dodge, 1885
On the third morning, as there were many old squaws and others around the precipice, mourning for the lost, when the sun rose and shown over the hills on the east side of the river, and its rays struck the rocks of the precipice, they began to send forth a dismal sound that increase in volume till it made the stoutest heart quail, and the boldest brave tremble with fear. And, although many years have gone by, and the sound diminished, nothing would induce an Indian to go near the cliff at early sunrise. The name Menauhuawah (now Minnehaha) will exist as long as the world stands. The English Mina, the Dutch Mena, and the Indian Menau you, have all merged into the Scotch Minnie in form, but retain the meaning of the Indian Menau, when attached to counties, towns, lakes, etc., such as Minnehaha, Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, etc. And long after the last Indian has passed from the wide domain of North America, and he exists only in history, the name of Minnehaha will stand as a monument to remind us of the once numerous and noble red men of the forest.

My latest novel, Nissa, Book 3 in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series is now available on Amazon including Kindle Unlimited. To read the book description and purchase your copy, please CLICK HERE.