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20 Incredible Old Photos From the Wild West!

Kelsey Freeman

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The era of the Wild West occupies a fascinating time in the history of the United States. While so much about North America was in flux, there were precious few ways for it to be recorded in a visual manner. Photography was just coming into its own which meant that photographs were going to be incredibly rare, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist! We collected 20 incredible photos taken during the 1800s by the camera known as the daguerreotype. Using this camera, photographers were able to collect some of the most incredible old photos from the most pivotal time in the history of the United States. Let’s dig in!

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Hard Labor All Day.
Let’s start our list by acknowledging that you don’t start a journey on the frontier because life is going to be easy. Literally building up a country from its foundation took a lot of work. Here we see workers at the McDonald Brickyard in Round Pond, OK.

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The Gunfighter Billy Brooks.
Guns weren’t just part of American life back in the 1800s, they were the only way to make sure that you and your family stayed safe. Unfortunately, there were individuals who took it too far like Billy Brooks. Brooks was a notorious gunfighter who served as a lawman in Kansas before turning into a petty thief and criminal. He was hung in 1874.

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Survivor of Custer’s Last Stand.
The fall of Custer is one of the most famous moments in frontier history, if only for the way that it disparages the Colonel Custer himself. Here we see Curly, a Crow scout that worked directly beside Custer. He was there during the final battle and he ended up as one of the only survivors. Curly fled the battle to alert other Americans what had happened but since he knew no language, he had to resort to sign language. Curly became something of a minor celebrity and lived until 1923.

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Making a Life.
Surviving the Wild West meant that you had to get creative. Here we see a team of California workers banding together to do something known as Dragnet Fishing. This image was taken at some point in the early 1900s.

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General George Cook.

If you liked to fight and didn’t like Native Americans, there was always a job for you. Here we see George Crook, one of the most well-known Indian-fighters in the entire United States Army. Crook was a gritty, ‘get things done’, kind of soldier.

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Death Valley – Journey by Mule.
Death Valley is still one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the entire United States. Now, imagine trying to traverse this stretch of desert without your air conditioner. Here we see a wagon train that is being hauled by 20-mule teams. This team is angling for the nearest railroad in order to complete their shipment of borax.

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Cowboy Cleanup Time.
Life out West was less than sanitary at the best of times. Here we see cowboys taking a pitstop to get cleaned up during a prolonged cattle drive. Cattle drives could last up to three months at a time.

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Hard Won Lunch.
Here we see a wagon stopped in the middle of Greenwood County in Kansas. What looks like a pleasant afternoon lunch was actually a hard-won meal after a long day of wagon riding. Nothing was easy out here, ever.

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Life on the Range.
Here we are transported back in time to Arizona, circa 1887. What we see in this old photograph is a group of men playing cards at a table in front of their brand new ranch. This is supposedly John Doyle’s Ranch and we can see that frontier life was notoriously difficult, even when you had friends at your side.

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The Outlaw Ned Christie.
Ned Christie wasn’t what you would typically think of when it comes to Old West outlaws. Christie wasn’t a bank robber and he wasn’t a murderer. Instead, he was a Cherokee native who ran whiskey. Christie was killed in a firefight after refusing to allow lawmen to arrest him. Here we see Christie’s body lashed to a board for a ‘trophy’ photograph which was a popular type of photo for lawmen of the time.

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Geological Expedition.
What we so often forget about life in the Wild West was that everything was more or less uncharted to exploring Americans. What this meant was simple: everything was new, everything was ‘up for grabs’, and every discovery was fascinating. Here we see members of the Geological Expedition led by Clarence King. King helped to explore the Sierra Nevada.

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Apache Indian Prisoners.
When fighting between Americans and Natives wasn’t bloody, it was often just sad. Here we see a group of Apache Indians being hauled to the Southern Pacific Railway for transfer. 1886.

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Sierra Nevada Pass.
This photograph was discovered by Phil Spangenberger in the cabinet of an old antique shop somewhere in California. What we see are the Sierra Nevada Mountains which is being traversed by a pair of passengers with armed guards at their flank. To have armed guards back in the late 1800s meant that you were generally someone of importance.

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Jesse W. James.
Is there a more famous outlaw in American history? We don’t think so. Jesse James was the most notable member of the James/Younger gang. He was murdered in 1882 by the ‘coward’ Robert Ford.

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Texas Rangers – James Bird and John Haynes.
Long before Chuck Norris was hamming up basic cable with a hat in his hand and a gun at his hip, real Texas Rangers were working to become the most famous lawmen in American history. Here we see James Thomas Bird as well as John J Haynes during a photoshoot in 1868. Rangers were famous for fighting Comanche as much as finding outlaws.

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Chief Joseph.
While the Wild West was a journey of exploration for Americans, it was something quite different for Native Americans. Here we see Chief Joseph, one of the most renown orators and war chiefs in Native American history. Chief Joseph was vital during the Nez Perce War in 1877.

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Olive Oatman.
This incredible photograph shows Olive Oatman in 1856. Oatman had been a captive of the Mohave for a prolonged period of time when her ransom was finally paid for. Oatman is seen sporting a tattoo that was given to her by the Mohave as an honorary sigil, hoping to afford her a positive afterlife.

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The Bloody Bill Anderson.
When historians say that our country was built on bloodshed, do not argue. Bill Anderson, one of the most ferocious and deadly pro-Confederate leaders of the 1800s, was a perfect emblem of all the bloodshed. This photograph shows Bill Anderson himself and it was recovered by a Union soldier from Anderson’s body.

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Belle Starr of the Bandits.
This fascinating photograph shows us Belle Starr, a woman from the Indian Territory who found herself increasingly ensconced in the lives of bandits. She had been in a relationship with Cole Younger and had even married, at different times, of course, the likes of Sam Starr and Jim Reed. For some people, the life of a bandit was an attractive proposition — but it was not a long-lived one.

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Canyon de Chelly.
This incredible image was not pulled from a Clint Eastwood film. Instead, we are looking at actual Navajo riders crossing the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona circa 1904.

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History

Here Are 5 Facts About The “Band Of Brothers” That You Did Not Know!

Anjali DeSimone

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Since its initial airing back in 2001, the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers has only continued to gain in popularity. Now that later generations are accessing the miniseries on their favorite apps and devices, the men of E Company have become a regular topic of discussion.

They answered the nation’s call as members of the 101st Airborne Division (506th Parachute Infantry Regiment). They were one of the elite forces of World War II but there is still much to be learned about each of these brave men and the battles that they fought. Read on to learn some little known facts about each of these soldiers…..

1. Captain Ronald Speirs

The series and book spent some time focusing on the role that Speirs played in the Brecourt Manor attack. German cannons had been firing on the troops at Utah Beach prior to this counterattack. While the series hinted that he was responsible for the killing of a German POW platoon, this was not likely.

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He was also one of the few men in the army to have made a combat jump in Korea and in World War II. Many do not know that Speirs served as a Red Army liaison as well. After this assignment was complete, he also served as a liaison to the Royal Lao Army before the Vietnam War broke out. 

2. Albert Blithe

Those who have read the book remember the story about Blithe losing his eyesight. He was shot in the neck during a Normandy patrol but the series and book were both incorrect when it came to addressing his fate. The book and series implied that Blithe died as a result of this wound.

In fact, he lived on after World War II and even served in Korea as well. Blithe was also not a southerner, as the series portrayed. He was actually from Philadelphia and did not speak with a southern accent. 

3. Edward “Babe” Heffron

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“Wild Bill” Guarnere was a close friend of Babe’s, as the two men both hailed from the city of Philadelphia. After the series aired, Babe and Wild Bill began to give tours of the famous battle sites together. The actor who played Babe looks nothing like him, though.

Robin Laing is a Scotsman with a gentle appearance. Meanwhile, Babe looks like more of a tough guy. The real Babe even makes an appearance in the actual series. He had a cameo as a Dutchman who was seen drinking wine during the Eindhoven liberation. 

4. Herbert Sobel 

Brilliantly played by none other than David Schwimmer of Friends fame, Sobel was detested by the other men in the E company. They viewed him as a coward who was too interested in going by the book. The famous scene where Sobel sends the men up Mount Currahee after a massive pasta dinner is 100 percent true.

However, Sobel is also credited by many of the men in the company for his unorthodox training techniques. They did not like him but they certainly respected him. He survived a suicide attempt in 1970 that cost him his eyesight and died in a VA facility of malnutrition 17 years later.

5. “Why We Fight”

One of the most famous episodes of the series, “Why We Fight” focused on the E company’s liberation of an SS camp in Germany. The episode concludes with German citizens assisting the men in burying the dead, forcing them to confront the true horrors of the regime that had risen to power.

There was just one issue: the men had never liberated any such camp. The producers added the liberation as a means of conveying the horrors of this war. They did not wish to solely focus on the experiences of the E Company.

If these facts were as amazing to you as they were to us, be sure to pass them along to your friends and loved ones. Let’s all do our part to keep our nation’s war history alive and well in the years to come! 

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History

The MOH Marine Who Carried An Aircraft Machine Gun On Iwo Jima

Cynthia Brooke

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There is no doubt the United States marines are all heroes that should be celebrated but some of them take their patriotism and heroic acts to a higher level. Unfortunately, not all these heroes are celebrated the way they should be celebrated and some of their achievements only get noticed or publicized after their demise.

One of such heroes is Corporal Tony Stein who can best be described as the hero of Iwo Jima. He virtually single handled took out a lot of Japanese soldiers who had laid siege for American troops in Iwo Jima in 1945 during the Second World War. Since this article is meant for casual readers, it has been written in a simplified form devoid of too many military terms. Corporal Tony Stein recently received the Medal of Honor posthumously. The medal was given to his widow. However, not many are aware of why he was nominated for the award. 

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This is why this article has been written to bridge the knowledge gap. Stein was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1921 to Jewish immigrants from Austria. He was enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve shortly before his 21st birthday. He initially served in the Marine Corps paratrooper unit. Thereafter, he fought in the Pacific Theater on several occasions. During this period, he had started exhibiting some extraordinary courage, intelligence, and patriotism that are worthy of emulation. 

One of his impressive achievements was taking out five Japanese snipers in a single day. Tony Stein was definitely a handful for the Japanese troops. For his military prowess, he got promoted to corporal in 1944 shortly after the paramarines were disbanded and was assigned to the 5th Marine Division where he was the assistant squad leader.

One of the most effective weapons then was a variant of M1919 that was meant to be used on patrol aircraft and bombers. Although it is a lighter version of M1919, it is much more destructive than M1919. While M1919 could output 400 rounds per minute, this improved version could do up to 1350 rounds per minute and Corporal Tony Stein was astonishing with it.

Due to its level of destructiveness, the weapon was dubbed “The Stinger” and there were only six of them but Stein was in custody of one them. And you bet it was utilized to capacity by the young marine. In fact, it was his mastery of the use of this machine that won him the highly coveted Medal of Honor.

He made the best of the beast when his unit hit Iwo Jima on February 1945. He singlehandedly wiped out several Japanese troops with the weapon. When he ran out of ammunition, he would run back to the beach to resupply himself without his boots and helmet so that he could run faster. He made 8 of such trips and during some of them, he would help a wounded marine get back to safety. In some cases, when they had to lie low to avoid continuous enemy fire, he would courageously stand up and take some destructive shots at the enemies’ location to obliterate them and he often did it successfully with his stinger.

To underscore how close he was told death, in Iwo Jima, his stinger was shot out of his hands twice but he would pick it up and continue to do what he did best until the Japanese troops had to retreat in defeat. 

Unfortunately, Corporal Tony Stein was taken out by a sniper not long after. He was being treated when he heard that his unit had been pinned down so he left the medical facility to join them. May be it was because he wasn’t fully fit or it wasn’t just his day. The great Corporal Tony Stein was taken down by a Japanese sniper.

It is quite heartwarming that his achievements, courage and patriotism didn’t go unnoticed and unrewarded. His Medal of Honor was presented to his widow about a year ago. The least you can do to celebrate this war veteran is to share the story of his sacrifice and contribution to America. 

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History

Our Real Life Hero Sergeant Snorkel

Kelsey Freeman

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Beetle Bailey and Sergeant Snorkel were actually based on real-life people. The comic strip may have been embellished upon to add to the humor, but the real Sergeant Snorkel did possess many of the same characteristics. His daughter Griffen wished that her father Octavian N. Savu had known that the comic strip was based on him. He would have enjoyed knowing that.

Octavian Savu had been born to parents who had immigrated from Romania. Savu was born in Indiana and raised in St. Joseph MO. When he began school, his teacher had misunderstood his name when she was told it was Tavi, so he remained being called Tom or Tommy. He later attended Park College, Junior College and the University of MO.

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When he turned 21 years old, in 1935, he joined the service. He was sent to the US Army at Fort Leavenworth Kansas. He was in the 17th infantry. This was the beginning of a decade long career for Savu.

In 1940, he married the love of his life, Margo. Around this time, he began to climb the ranks slowly in the military. He first became a Reserve Officer Trainer in Iowa, at the Abraham Lincoln High School. He taught the young recruits map reading skills, first aid, marksmanship and also combat tactics.

When he and the wife moved to St. Louis, he began a position at St. Louis’ Washington University. He was the overseer of soldiers in that school’s Army Specialized Training Program. These were twelve-week courses between 1943 and 1945. The courses later became known as “Engineering, Science and Management War Training Program”. This is where he met Mort Walker, an already known artist. Walker came from Kansas City and was a World War 2 draftee. In later years, Mort Walker would become the creator and artist of Beetle Bailey comic fame. The world would later learn that Sergeant Snorkel, the character in the comic strip, was actually based on Octavian Savu. Before leaving Missouri in 1944, Walker had given Savu a hand-drawn caricature of Savu.

Savu was then assigned overseas in France. He was a First Sergeant. Octavian Savu was there from April until August 1945. He served as an Administrative Sgt. with the 14th Reinforcement Depot. He was discharged early and sent home on a disability discharge on September 21, 1945. He was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and later it was found that he was diabetic. 

Octavian and Margo Savu adopted two daughters and moved to Colorado. He became an employee specialist at the Air Force Accounting and Finance Services. When the girls were still young, Savu had his first heart attack. He then began gardening and became known for his lawn and his roses. He was also a commander in his local VFW post.

In April of 1968, the family took a vacation and headed to where Mr. Savu had grown up. He showed the girls his family home where he had grown up. They also visited with family friends. As the vacation neared the end, they began to drive home. They stopped for the night in Omaha and obtained a hotel room. Savu had his third heart attack and passed away in the hotel room. The daughters were 14 and 11 years old.

Octavian N. Savu was given full military honors during his funeral. He was then buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.

His daughter, Griffin has stated that “He possessed many of the characteristics of Sergeant Snorkel. He was a compassionate man. He was tough but fair, and he was full of character. That is quite possibly why the troops loved him.” She also stated that to her and her sister, he was not just dad; he was their hero and their mentor.

Mort Walker spoke very highly of Savu also, before he himself passed away. He recalled when the Sergeant had written a poem and given each one of the men a copy by placing it on their pillows. The poem was called “My Boys”. Walker had stated that that was the point that they had realized he had a heart. 

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