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A game bird that frequents wooded areas.
(Minesweeper No. 14: dp. 950 (n.), l. 187'10" ; b. 35'6"; dr. 9'9" (mean); s. 14.0 k.; cpl. 85; a.2 3"; cl. Lapwing)
Woodcock (Minesweeper No. 14) was laid down on 19 October 1917 at Chester, Pa., by the Chester Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 12 May 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Lewis T. Kniskern; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 19 February 1919, Lt. (jg.) W. J. Fanger in command.
After performing experimental minesweeping work Newport, R.I., and tending lightships at New York, Woodcock sailed for the Orkney Islands and reached Kirkwall, Scotland, on 10 July 1919. Over the ensuing months, the ship operated in the North Sea on minesweeping duties with the Atlantic Fleet's minesweeping detachment. During that time, Woodcock spent 54 days in the minefields and 28 in port for needed upkeep and voyage repairs occasioned by the heavy weather often encountered by the ships of the detachment.
Upon conclusion of the sweeping operations, the ship returned to the east coast of the United States and operated with Mine Squadron 1, Mine Division 5, Atlantic Fleet, until she was decommissioned at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard on 5 May 1922. Meanwhile, she had been classified as AM-14 On 17 July 1920.
Woodcock remained in reserve at Portsmouth until recommissioned there on 21 February 1924. She then became station ship at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to support Marine Corps peace-keeping forces there. As such Woodcock was one of the three Lapwing-class ships recommissioned for service as gunboats. Her sisterships, Penguin (AM-33) and Pigeon (AM-47), were sent to the Asiatic Fleet for duty with the Yangtze Patrol.
Outside of yearly return voyages to a navy yard in the United States such as that of Charleston, S.C., for repairs and alterations, Woodcock remained in Haitian waters, based on Port-au-Prince, through the spring of 1934. That summer, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to pull the Marine Corps occupation force —a veritable fixture in Haitian history since August 1916—out of Haiti, Woodcock took part in that impotent troop lift. On 15 August 1934, amidst impressive shoreside ceremonies and "most friendly feelings displayed by the populace," Woodcock—in company with Bridge (AF-1), Argonne (AS-10), and Army transport Chateau Thierry—embarked 79 officers and 747 enlisted men of the 1st Marine Brigade the last of the occupation troops, and eventually took them back to the United States, thus closing a colorful chapter in Marine Corps history.
Soon thereafter, the minesweeper—or quasi-gunboat —shifted to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She served as a district craft—occasionally exercising with the fleet during its winter maneuvers and participating in some of the Fleet's amphibious exercises under the aegis of the Commandant, 15th Naval District, through the outbreak of war in Europe in the autumn of 1939.
During World War II, Woodcock operated under the auspices of the Panama Sea Frontier command, working between the Canal Zone and New Orleans. While performing towing, salvage, and local escort duties, she assisted vessels in distress and stood by to protect them until help arrived. During her service in gulf waters, the ship was twice reclassified—first becoming an ocean-going tug, AT-146, on 1 June 1942; then an ocean-going tug (old), ATO-145, on 15 May 1944.
Following the war, Woodcock continued local operations out of Cristobal and called at the Galapagos Islands in the spring of 1946. Retained until the arrival of Recover? (ARS-43), Woodcock performed her final towing service that summer. She took YR-64 from Cristobal to New York, reaching the latter port on 27 August 1946. After getting underway the following day, Woodcock headed south; arrived at Charleston on 31 August; and reported to Commandant, 6th Naval District, for disposition.
Decommissioned at Charleston on 30 September 1946, Woodcock was struck from the Navy list on 23 April 1947 and transferred to the Maritime Commission on 4 August of the same year. She was sold to the Potomac Shipwrecking Co., Inc., of Pope's Creek MD., on 19 December 1947.
The more people come to know the woodcock, the more they appreciate this unique bird.
Naturalists seek out woodland openings in early spring to watch the acrobatic mating flights of male woodcock and to listen to the beautiful sounds they emit during their display flights and their intriguing ground calls. Some folks hunt woodcock in autumn, following flushing and pointing dogs while participating in a centuries-old North American tradition. Others marvel at the bird's intriguing life history, which scientific research continues to reveal.
The Woodstock Music Festival was the brainchild of four men, all age 27 or younger, looking for an investment opportunity: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang.
Lang had organized the successful Miami Music Festival in 1968 and Kornfeld was the youngest vice president at Capitol Records. Roberts and Rosenman were New York entrepreneurs involved in building a Manhattan recording studio. The four men formed Woodstock Ventures, Inc., and decided to host a music festival.
Creedence Clearwater Revival was the first big-name talent to sign on and gave Woodstock the credibility it needed to attract other well-known musicians.
I have been very lucky this game season with the range of species that have fallen into my lap. Last post I told you all about the snipe I managed to get from my butcher Mark Frost. Well he’s done it again and has managed to hold of half a dozen beautiful woodcock, the larger cousin to the snipe almost as elusive and certainly no less delicious! Another rare treat for the patrons of The Buttery.
Woodcock and snipe are similar birds and likewise can be cooked in similar ways, so much of what can be said about cooking and eating snipe can be said about woodcock.
A while back I wrote a general entry about game. Read it here.
Woodcock in brief
Season: 1 Oct – 31 Jan (England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland)
Hanging time: 4 – 8 days
Roasting time: 20-30 minutes at 230⁰C
Breeding pairs in UK: 55 000 (increasing to 1.4 million in the winter)
Habitat: Mainly woodland, but also heath and marshland
Collective noun: fall
Our second-smallest game bird is a mysterious little creature, spending most of its day hiding in the undergrowth in wooded areas. The only time you are likely to come across one is if you startle it during a walk in the woods, but even then you may just catch a glimpse one of skitting and zig-zagging toward another hiding place.
Then, suddenly, usually around the full moon before Hallowe’en there is a huge influx of migratory woodcock, using Britain as an overwintering spot, often being first spotted on beaches, exhausted. Seeing the birds apparently come from nowhere in this fashion and at this time must have added to their already ethereal reputation.
Having little understanding of migration, people thought woodcock went to the moon during spring and summer. Seeing them first on beaches made others believe that they hatched from mermaid’s purses (the desiccated egg cases of sharks).
Reclusive and well-camouflaged, they only venture from their hiding places to hunt their prey at dusk and it is for this reason that woodcock are rarely found in butcher’s shop windows. It’s a lucky shooter that manages to bag a few woodcock, and they rarely go further than the hunter’s kitchen. I’m lucky in that my butcher is also a shooter!
A treat almost as rare as snipe, it is absolutely delicious t traditionally roasted completely whole on a piece of toast, with just breast and leg feathers removed. The trail (i.e., the innards) are then scooped out and served upon the toast. Ortolan and plover are cooked in the same way (though it is now illegal to eat ortolan).
Because they are eaten whole, they should not be hung for long, as those gamey aromas quickly turn into the aroma of decomposition. However, it is all personal taste – true gastronomes hang their woodcock or snipe by the feet until the innards of the birds start to drip through their bills.
Woodcock were not as rare a treat as they are today where they can only be legally shot during the months when the country is teeming with them and can only be shot. Guns were not light enough to shoot woodcock with any accuracy or success and so night nets were set up that caught the birds in great numbers so they could be sent to market still alive. This practice is now illegal (though, unfortunately not in all other European countries).
Woodcock are rarely found on sale, but I have spotted them in my butcher’s shop a couple of times in the last three or four years. I do remember seeing them once at a game stall in London’s Borough Market. Patience is a virtue and if you keep looking, you’ll eventually find one. On the open market, you’ll pay at the very least £15 per bird.
Alternatively, make friends with a hunter, or ask if you can help in a local hunt. I have never done this, but would love to.
Preparing woodcock for the table
Take a woodcocke, & reyse his legges and his wynges as an henne this done, dyght the brayne.And here begynneth the feest from Pentecost unto mydsomer.
From The Boke of Keruynge (the Book of Carving), 1508
As already mentioned, woodcock need not be drawn. You can pluck them, but be careful as they have very thin skins that are easily torn. If you are keeping the head on, remove the eyes and skin the head if you like. To draw the birds it is best to use some sharp scissors to make an incision. Use your first two fingers to loosen the innards and pull them out. Keep the tiny livers if you like. Drawing woodcock is easier compared to other small game birds such as partridge.
See the post on snipe for more details.
Woodcock is not always roasted, but because you often only get hold of just one, it’s the only way you can eat it really. I’ll not repeat myself the way it is cooked and served is exactly the same as snipe, except for a few minor differences:
A snack for the elites (Paul Freedman, Yale University)
Unlike many American food trends of the 1890s, such as the Waldorf salad and chafing dishes, the club sandwich has endured, immune to obsolescence.
The sandwich originated in the country’s stuffy gentlemen’s clubs, which are known – to this day – for a conservatism that includes loyalty to outdated cuisine. (The Wilmington Club in Delaware continues to serve terrapin, while the Philadelphia Club’s specialties include veal and ham pie.) So the club sandwich’s spread to the rest of the population, along with its lasting popularity, is a testament to its inventiveness and appeal.
A two-layer affair, the club sandwich calls for three pieces of toasted bread spread with mayonnaise and filled with chicken or turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato. Usually the sandwich is cut into two triangles and held together with a toothpick stuck in each half.
Some believe it should be eaten with a fork and knife, and its blend of elegance and blandness make the club sandwich a permanent feature of country and city club cuisine.
The club sandwich: A perfect blend of elegance and blandness. (Alena Haurylik)
As far back as 1889, there are references to a Union Club sandwich of turkey or ham on toast. The Saratoga Club-House offered a club sandwich on its menu beginning in 1894.
Interestingly, until the 1920s, sandwiches were identified with ladies’ lunch places that served “dainty” food. The first club sandwich recipe comes from an 1899 book of “salads, sandwiches and chafing-dish dainties,” and its most famous proponent was Wallis Simpson, the American woman whom Edward VIII abdicated the throne of Great Britain to marry.
Nonetheless, an 1889 article from the New York Sun entitled “An Appetizing Sandwich: A Dainty Treat That Has Made a New York Chef Popular” describes the Union Club sandwich as appropriate for a post-theater supper, or something light to be eaten before a nightcap. This was one type of sandwich that men could indulge in, the article seemed to be saying – as long as it wasn’t eaten for lunch.
New York City’s Union Club served an early version of the club sandwich that was a hit. (Gryffindor, CC BY-SA)
Allowing opioid epidemic to happen
During five years of reporting into a history of the American pharmaceutical industry, I discovered there was plenty of blame to go around in the opioid epidemic. Those culpable were not just pharmaceutical companies that aggressively promoted their addictive products, but also overprescribing doctors, multibillion dollar drug distributors who hid the high volume of orders to so-called pill mills and even national pharmacy chains, where secret bonuses prompted druggists to direct patients to higher profit narcotic painkillers.
I also came across evidence that the FDA was partly responsible for the epidemic. Unlike the others who were motivated by greed, the fault of the FDA was that it repeatedly failed to fulfil its role as the nation’s guardian of public health. Instead, the opioid crisis is filled with instances of the FDA’s timid enforcement, too easy approval of narcotic painkillers and regulatory decisions friendly to drug manufacturers. Some of its worst lapses were with Purdue Pharma and its blockbuster narcotic painkiller, OxyContin.
Janet Woodcock — often referred to as “the top drug cop” — had been in charge of CEDR for only a year in 1995 when the FDA considered approving OxyContin for sale to the public.
Purdue managed several significant victories. Despite safety studies demonstrating Oxy was safe for “short term” use, mostly severe end-of-life pain, the FDA approved Oxy for much broader treatment of chronic pain, everything from fibromyalgia to back pain. And while Purdue had not conducted any clinical trials to determine whether OxyContin was less likely to be addictive or abused than other opioid painkillers, the FDA allowed Purdue to claim on Oxy’s insert that its delayed absorption was “believed to reduce the abuse liability.” The drug’s label declared that addiction “is rare.” That freed Purdue’s marketing team to push their drug as much safer than any opioid competitor.
Janet Woodcock on June 14, 2011, in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Woodcock was still chief of the FDA’s watchdog group in 2001 when advocates argued for changes to OxyContin label to address the rapidly increasing rates of addiction and overdose. The FDA and Woodcock rebuffed most of the proposed reforms and instead approved mostly inconsequential changes to Oxy’s label. Victim’s groups had asked the FDA to rescind its endorsement of dispensing Oxy for chronic pain. Instead, the revised label said OxyContin was “for the management of moderate to severe pain when a continuous, around the clock analgesic is needed for an extended period of time.”
Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler contends that the “label change was a blank check.” The broad language resulted in billions in additional sales for Purdue.
As evidence poured in that opioid prescribing had exploded and that overdoses followed, the FDA hurriedly convened an advisory panel of 10 experts the following year and tasked them with recommending whether the agency should forbid dispensing opioids for chronic pain. There was no notice from Woodcock or the agency that Purdue had paid five of those panelists as consultants or through its speakers program. Three others had done similar work for other opioid manufacturers. Not surprisingly, the panel recommended no change in the FDA’s permissive labeling.
Woodcock and the FDA then took six more years before they removed from Oxy’s label the claim that the risk of addiction was rare. The missteps regarding opioids continued unabated. In 2010, with Woodcock still at the helm of CEDR, Purdue won approval for a “new and improved” tamper-resistant OxyContin, although the agency’s own field tests demonstrated the new formulation had “no effect” in reducing abuse potential.
The following year, the FDA approved Endo Pharmaceutical’s Opana ER, an extended released opioid painkiller the manufacturer also touted as "tamper-resistant.” When ultimately the FDA was forced to request Endo pull Opana from the market, Woodcock admitted, “We determined that the product had dangerous unintended consequences.”
Pennsylvania Route 86 passes through the borough, leading northeast 4 miles (6 km) to Cambridge Springs and southwest 9 miles (14 km) to Meadville, the county seat.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.66 square miles (1.72 km 2 ), all of it land. 
|Sources:    |
As of the census  of 2000, there were 146 people, 55 households, and 44 families residing in the borough. The population density was 260.2 people per square mile (100.7/km²). There were 57 housing units at an average density of 101.6 per square mile (39.3/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 97.95% White, 2.05% from other races.
There were 55 households, out of which 36.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.1% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.0% were non-families. 14.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 20.5% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 36.3% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 5.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 87.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $50,500, and the median income for a family was $56,250. Males had a median income of $31,667 versus $32,250 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $19,577. There were none of the families and 2.6% of the population living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and none of those over 64.
United Empire Loyalists reach Canada
On May 18, 1783, the first United Empire Loyalists, known to American Patriots as Tories, arrive in Canada to take refuge under the British crown in Parrtown, Saint John, Nova Scotia (now New Brunswick), Canada. The town was located on the Bay of Fundy just north of the border with what is now the state of Maine.
Most of the refugees came from New York, which had been under royal control throughout most of the War for Independence. After the Treaty of Paris ended the War for Independence in February 1783, the British evacuated their New York Loyalists to remaining British territories, mainly in Canada. These families had been dispossessed of their land and belongings by the victorious Patriots because of their continued support of the British king and were able to regain some financial independence through lands granted to them by the British in western Quebec (now Ontario) and Nova Scotia. Their arrival in Canada permanently shifted the demographics of what had been French-speaking New France until 1763 into an English-speaking colony, and later nation, with the exception of a French-speaking and culturally French area in eastern Canada that is now Quebec.
In 1784, one year after their arrival, the new Loyalist population spurred the creation of New Brunswick in the previously unpopulated (by Europeans, at least) lands west of the Bay of Fundy in what had been Nova Scotia. In 1785, the Loyalists yet again made their mark on Canadian history when their combined settlements at Parrtown and Carleton of approximately 14,000 people became British North America’s first incorporated city under the name City of Saint John.
Loyalist refugees in western Quebec received 200 acres apiece. The division between the Anglophile and Francophile sections was ultimately recognized by creating the English-dominant province of Ontario, west of Quebec, in 1867.
The Wilcox Train Robbery
Near dawn on June 2, 1899, an engineer from the westbound Union Pacific Overland Flyer No. 1 fired off a telegram from Medicine Bow, Wyoming: ‘First Section No. 1 held up a mile west of Wilcox. Express car blown open, mail car damaged. Safe blown open contents gone….’ Immediately following engineer W.R. Jones’ report, a dispatch was sent from the Union Pacific Railroad offices in Omaha, Nebraska, offering a ‘$1,000 reward for each and every one of the train robbers…dead or alive.’ Later, the Pacific Express Company, whose safe was robbed, made the same offer, as did the U.S. government. There were six robbers, so at $3,000 per head, the total reward was worth $18,000.
The Union Pacific Railroad quickly sent the No. 4 — a specially outfitted train kept ready in Laramie, Wyo., containing cars for horses, equipment, food and men — to the robbery site, near Wilcox Station (often called Wilcox). This posse train arrived at the site about 9 a.m., just seven hours after the holdup. Although the Union Pacific had its own detective force, it also brought the Burlington Railroad and the Pinkerton Detective Agency into the chase. These professionals joined with the local posses, one of which even employed bloodhounds. Wyoming’s Governor DeForest Richards also dispatched Company C of the state militia. Within 24 hours, nearly 100 possemen were out chasing the train robbers.
The June 2, 1899, Wilcox holdup would become one of the West’s most famous train robberies. The Union Pacific Overland Flyer No. 1 had two sections, each pulled by its own locomotive. The first section was flagged down by two men with lanterns at milepost No. 609 at 2:18 that rainy Friday morning. Thinking that a small wooden bridge ahead might have washed out overnight, engineer Jones brought this first section to a screeching stop. The two men, wearing masks, boarded the locomotive and ordered Jones and the fireman, named Dietrick, to pull forward to the bridge and stop again. Dynamite, already tucked under the trestle, was ignited, and Jones was again ordered to pull ahead ‘and be quick about it.’ When he moved too slowly for the outlaws, one of them clubbed him with a gun butt.
The train had barely cleared the bridge when the explosion came. Although the bridge was not destroyed, the bandits had prevented the train’s second section, whose headlight they had seen, from following. They then told engineer Jones to stop the first section so that the passenger cars could be uncoupled. The mail and express cars were what interested them. Following orders, Jones and Dietrick pulled ahead another two miles, where four more outlaws were waiting. Three of the robbers herded the trainmen over to the mail car and ordered clerks Robert Lawson and Burt Bruce to open up. When the clerks did not immediately comply, the door was blown with more dynamite.
Finding very little, the outlaws next ordered the express car messenger, Charles Woodcock, to open the door. He refused. Again the thieves put a match to a couple of sticks of dynamite and easily blew the express car open. Woodcock was badly dazed in the explosion and unable to supply the bandits with the combination to the Pacific Express Co. safe. Therefore, more dynamite was used to blow open the safe. This charge proved a bit heavy, and succeeded in not only opening the safe but also blowing out the sides and the roof of the car.
By 4:15 a.m., the six bandits had gathered unsigned bank notes, cash, 19 scarf pins, 29 gold-plated cuff button pairs and four Elgin watches. The initial estimate claimed a total of $30,000 was taken, but in 1904, then Union Pacific Superintendent W.L. Park wrote that the railroad had actually lost more than $50,000, some of it in gold. The outlaws escaped in a northerly direction, toward the Hole-in-the-Wall, a well-known outlaw enclave in the middle of Wyoming.
Once the bandits had left the scene, the trainmen limped their broken train about 12 miles into Medicine Bow, the next regular stop, where engineer Jones reported the holdup by telegram to Union Pacific officials in Omaha. Jones’ telegram concluded: ‘….We were ordered to pull over bridge just west of Wilcox, and after we passed the bridge the explosion occurred. Can’t tell how bad bridge was damaged. No one hurt except Jones scalp wound, and cut on hand. Jones, Engineer.’ A later telegram added that ‘the bent of the bridge was shattered’ but it was repaired enough for trains to pass.
A Rawlins, Wyo., newspaper immediately suggested the thieves were Tom O’Day, an occasional Wild Bunch rider, and local toughs Bob Taylor and Manuel Manetta. The paper later replaced O’Day’s name with another area man named Cavanaugh. However, the professional detectives focused their full attention on members of the Wild Bunch, whose modus operandi matched that of the Wilcox outlaws.
The physical descriptions of the thieves, even though the men had been masked, further convinced the authorities that known outlaws were involved. ‘One man about 31 or 32 years of age’… blue eyes…peculiar nose, flattened at bridge’ was a definite match for ‘Flatnose’ George Currie. Born in Canada on March 20, 1871, Currie was a known rustler and thief who lived near the Hole-in-the-Wall.
‘Two men looked like brothers′ and 5’…about 28 and 30…very dark complexion/4 Cherokee…dark hair & eyes’ could easily describe Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry, and his brother Lonnie. Harvey and Lonnie often rode with Flatnose in fact, Harvey had taken his alias from Currie, who was his mentor. The other outlaws involved in the holdup were believed to be Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid Ben Kilpatrick, alias the Tall Texan and Will Carver. This trio of outlaws often rode together with the Logans and Flatnose, and all were members of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.
While Butch Cassidy (real name Robert LeRoy Parker) has often been credited as the mastermind, he probably took no part in the actual robbery. On January 19, 1896, he had been granted a pardon by then Wyoming Governor William A. Richards and was released from the penitentiary at Laramie. The condition for Butch’s early release was his promise to never again participate in any crimes within the borders of Wyoming.
Soon after the Wilcox robbery, Butch ran into William L. Simpson, his one-time neighbor and the lawyer who had orchestrated his pardon. Simpson accused Butch of going back on his word, but Butch assured him that he had ‘nothing whatever to do with the Wilcox robbery.’ Still, Butch did apparently receive a share of the loot, and the posses following the outlaws’ trail noticed that an extra set of tracks had joined the escaping outlaws. It was believed they belonged to the gang’s leader, Butch Cassidy.
In typical Wild Bunch fashion, the outlaws had set up horse relays along their escape route, in order to outrun the posse. After dividing the money near Lost Cabin, southwest of Hole-in-the-Wall, the gang split up, to better evade a posse. Flatnose, Harvey and possibly Sundance made a brief rest stop at Al Hudspeth’s CY Ranch near Horse Ranch, Wyo., but Hudspeth quickly reported the strangers to the authorities in Casper.
By June 6, a posse led by Converse County Sheriff Josiah Hazen had tracked those three outlaws to Castle Creek, a deep ravine surrounded by rocks and crevices some 75 miles from the holdup site. (In later years, this area was renamed Teapot Dome and became infamous in a scandal involving its fraudulent leasing by Secretary of the Interior Albert S. Fall.) The outlaws were well hidden, and the posse unknowingly rode right in upon them. A fierce gunfight broke out, but it quickly ended when Hazen received a mortal wound from Harvey Logan.
The remaining posse members were so numb with fear that the outlaws managed to sneak away, leaving the posse hiding under cover. The thieves abandoned their horses and a portion of the loot in their escape on foot. Once it became apparent that the outlaws were gone, the posse quickly transported the dying Hazen to Douglas, Wyo. The posse claimed that the outlaws had managed to ambush them in part because of a relatively new invention, smokeless gunpowder.
In his book on Powder River history, local rancher J. Elmer Brock claimed that Flatnose, Harvey and Sundance got fresh horses at the Billy Hill ranch near Kaycee, Wyo., rode through the Brock family ranch near Buffalo, and headed toward EK Mountain. He further stated that well-known lawmen Joe LeFors soon after appeared with a posse and spent the night on his family’s ranch. When the possemen left, they took nearly all the family’s food and blankets. Brock’s closing comment was, ‘Isn’t it strange that as many outlaws as had been in that place that the first people to commit petty larceny should be a bunch of United States Marshals?’ Brock’s account is of particular interest because it provides insight into the feelings of many local ranchers. Since the rustlers and the outlaws had sided with Wyoming homesteaders against the larger ranch outfits during the recent Johnson County War, the small ranchers occasionally overlooked the outlaws’ questionable behavior.
There were numerous rumors of local help. Residents of the Little Snake River area were suspected of supplying the outlaws with horses, food and lodging. In fact, one posse member was quoted as saying that the bandits would never be caught because they ‘were aided by powerful friends, there is no doubt.’ A saloonkeeper from Baggs, Wyo., who had previously been a freight conductor on the Union Pacific, was suspected of supplying secret railroad information, such as when the larger gold shipments were usually carried. However, none of these people were ever officially accused or arrested.
On July 3, Dave Putty and Bud Nolan were captured in Dillon, Mont., and held as the suspected Wilcox outlaws identified as the Roberts brothers. Dietrick of the Union Pacific was immediately dispatched to Dillon, but he was unable to identify either of the two men. The problem was that the bandits had worn white masks during the holdup. Within three weeks of their capture, these two men were released.
One of the stolen items was a package described as ‘incompleted currency, $3400.00 from U.S. Treasury Department…for First National Bank, Portland Oregon.’ Although this package sustained damage in the explosion, the outlaws’ decision to take it enabled detectives to later follow a paper trail. Both the Pacific Express Co. and the U.S. marshal’s office in Cheyenne, Wyo., issued memos to agents, bankers, merchants and others, listing the denominations and bank numbers for the package of missing bills. The further description, ‘lower right hand corners all torn diagonally,’ obviously made the bills very identifiable.
The dynamite residue and other damage made the outlaws’ haul too easy to trace, so the gang needed to launder the telltale proceeds. Years earlier, Butch Cassidy had made a solid friendship with Wyoming lawyer Douglas A. Preston, a future state attorney general. Preston was apparently approached to act as a go-between in arranging a trade for spendable cash. In fact, Butch had a ‘good’ use for the money.
A couple of months after the Wilcox robbery, Butch’s friend Elzy Lay was captured in New Mexico Territory. Lay had taken part in a train robbery near Folsom, New Mexico Territory. A shootout between the outlaws and the pursuing posse had resulted in the death of Sheriff Ed Farr. Train robbery was a capital offense in New Mexico Territory in 1899, while being convicted of murder, depending on the degree, did not always mean a hanging. Lay was tried for the ‘lesser’ crime of murder — probably because of a payoff of some kind. If money was offered to the right people, it could pave the way for Lay’s life to be spared — or he might even get off free. Lay’s lawyers were Edwin Franks and A.A. Jones.
Two letters written by Preston to a C.E. Rowe were discovered more than a year later at the campsite of the Wild Bunch members who held up the First National Bank of Winnemucca, Nev., on September 19, 1900 (see story in June 1998 Wild West). Most researchers believe that ‘Rowe’ was Butch Cassidy (who also used the name ‘Lowe’) or at least one of Butch’s gang. In one letter, Preston wrote, ‘Several influential parties are becoming interested and the chances of a sale are getting favorable.’ In the second letter, the lawyer wrote: ‘Send me at once a map of the country and describe as near as you can the place where you found the black stuff so I can go to it. Tell me how you want it handled. You don’t know its value. If I can get hold of it first, I can fix a good many things favorable. Say nothing to anyone about it.’ Was Preston trying to launder the blackened gold and burnt currency in Wyoming? And was he also in contact with influential parties in New Mexico Territory who could secure Lay’s release for a price?
United States Marshal Frank A. Hadsell of Wyoming was one of the posse leaders who tracked the Wilcox robbers. In his personal papers, on file with the Wyoming Archives, are informants’ letters explaining that the outlaws ‘were in [Rawlins] a few days ago with powder-burned currency’ and that they also had ‘a lot of gold coin that seemed to be blackened or burned considerably.’ These informants further stated that the currency and gold were exchanged by local gamblers in Rawlins and by a rancher from Dixon, Wyo. Interestingly, Sundance had once worked for a number of ranchers in the Dixon area, and both he and Butch were well-known in the Rawlins area.
On October 10,1899, Elzy Lay was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Sheriff Farr. And then in January 1906, Lay was unexpectedly pardoned and released from the New Mexico Penitentiary — and evidence suggests that he was actually released earlier, in December 1905. These developments suggest that Butch’s share of the loot from the Wilcox robbery was put to good use — at least good for Lay.
Soon, stolen bank notes began to turn up throughout the West, again proving the gang’s ability to disperse, in spite of the numerous posses and agencies chasing after them. Lonnie Logan tried to cash in Wilcox money through a deposit from his Curry Brothers Saloon in Harlem, Mont. Although the Pinkertons quickly tracked down the bills, Lonnie had sold his saloon and hit the road in a hurry. Torn bills also surfaced in the town of Alma, New Mexico Territory, where Butch was working at the WS Ranch. When Pinkerton agent Frank Murray arrived in town, a kind and likable bartender named Jim Lowe suggested that Murray leave Alma before he was recognized and gunplay resulted. Later, the Pinkertons discovered that Lowe was none other than Butch Cassidy himself.
In an oral history of New Mexico’s Mogollon and Alma, Elton Cunningham related the same story of the Pinkerton agent who had met Jim Lowe. Cunningham also said that some of the Wild Bunch gang in the area had once cached stolen money from a train robbery. They later returned, he said, ‘and got that money, but the corner of the bills was blowed off when they blasted the safe…they put those bills through with the corner blowed off…they took that money back there [New York] and got good money for it.’ In another oral history, Montegue Stevens claimed that it was Cunningham who had in fact signed some of the unsigned Wilcox bank notes.
Unsigned bank notes also appeared in Monticello, Utah, and Durango, Mancos and Cortez, Colo., near where Sundance’s cousin George Longabaugh homesteaded and near the La Sal Mountains hideout often used by Harvey Logan. However, by the time the money was traced, the Pinkertons were already at least three weeks and hundreds of miles behind the outlaws.
Finally, Wilcox bills began appearing in Cripple Creek, Colo., and in Dodson (later absorbed by Kansas City), Mo. When Lonnie Logan left Montana, he went home to his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Lee in Dodson. There, Lonnie and his cousin Bob Lee visited and liberally spent Lonnie’s Wilcox money. When Bob returned to his job in Cripple Creek, he had a pocket full of Wilcox bills, which ultimately led to his arrest early in 1900.
On February 28, 1900, the Pinkertons and local police surrounded the Lee farm, looking for Lonnie. Seeing the armed men gathering outside, Lonnie tried to escape out the rear door, only to be shot dead by the Pinkerton agents.
Flatnose George Currie was killed by Sheriff Jesse Tyler near Moab, Utah, in April 1900. Tyler, who was tracking cattle rustlers and happened upon Flatnose, was later murdered under suspicious circumstances. One commonly held belief is that Harvey Logan had avenged the death of his mentor, George Currie.
Will Carver was killed in Sonora, Texas, on April 2, 1901, while resisting arrest for the murder of a pig farmer. Harry A. Longabaugh, aka the Sundance Kid, headed for Argentina with Ethel (or Etta) Place and Robert LeRoy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy. In 1908, after robbing a silver mine payroll, Sundance and Butch died in a shootout in San Vicente, Bolivia.
Harvey Logan and Ben Kilpatrick were caught separately and jailed in the early 1900s for passing stolen bank notes from a 1901 Montana train robbery. Harvey escaped and was done in by a posse tracking Colorado train robbers in 1904. Kilpatrick was released from prison in 1911 and shortly thereafter attempted to hold up a train in Sanderson, Texas, but the express messenger killed both Kilpatrick and his partner. In less than a dozen years, every Wilcox outlaw had died with his boots on and his guns blazing.
This article was written by Donna B. Ernst and originally appeared in the June 1999 issue of Wild West.
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Between 1944 and 2004, in the United States, Woodcock life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1944, and highest in 2001. The average life expectancy for Woodcock in 1944 was 31, and 72 in 2004.
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