Kate Bender and her felonious family: America’s first serial killers

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The “Bloody Benders” were a hell of a family

They spent part of their lives on a killing spree

Sister Kate the attraction

With victims a distraction

A cold-blooded flirting; but their death not a fantasy

 

Pa “Bill” was the head of this fiendish clan

By all accounts he was a mountain of a man

Fathered John, a dumb son

Yet both killed for fun

And a means to prosper in their adopted new land

 

Eleven travelers at their Kansas inn waylaid

Hammer to skulls and slit throats was how the corpses were made

Then stripped and robbed in the cellar

By accomplice kin of the killer

And buried in Ma’s garden where they finally stayed

 

A percentage who care for this sort of bloody history

Prefer to keep the Bender’s fates shrouded in mystery

Cuz’ justice wasn’t served by the courts

All we have are three reports

Of vigilante justice by the vengeful hands of a posse

 

Colonel York was the brother of the Bender’s last kill

He swore that he would see all Bender’s sent to hell

A much deserved fate

They even burned Kate

So say posse members who threw their bodies down a well

 

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Jack Helm: a lawless lawman

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Jack Helm was a racist S.O.B.

Who wore the grey and favored slavery.

He even did wrong

Over a Yankee song

That a black man whistled with bravery.

 

And when there was no Civil War,

You could find him with a star that he bore

In the great state of Texas

Where he hated the Mex’s,

And everyone else that’s for sure.

 

Helm got caught-up in the Sutton-Taylor feud;

The type of duty that befit his evil mood.

A prime instigator,

He was head regulator,

And the days he didn’t kill he’d sulk and brood.

 

His body count raised his reputation.

The Governor even gave him a new station.

But when deeds come to light

Causing citizen’s fright,

He’s sent back to DeWitt for the duration.

 

John Wesley Hardin was one of Helm’s foes:

A kin to the Taylor’s, or so the story goes.

Several times they met,

Their back-ups vented and wet,

Yet Hardin and Helm escaped the death throes.

 

But in eighteen-seventy-three, in the month of July,

The two evil rivals would have one more try.

Helm came from the rear,

Hardin turned with a sneer,

To blast Helm with buckshot: his day to die.

 

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Critique of Bear Island (Part 3)

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The third section, Hole in the Day: Grafters and Warrants, begins with turbulent natural images around Leech Lake, and transitions into the equally turbulent social conditions on the reservation as a result of demeaning “treaty ties,” “federal legacies,” and “shady agents.” Then Vizenor begins to elaborate on the main character of this section, Chief Bugonaygeshig, Hole in the Day, who, the reader found out earlier, was disrespectfully called “Old Bug” by the local long knives. Continue reading

Critique of Bear Island: (Part 1&2)

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PART ONE:

Bear Island: the War at Sugar Point is by Gerald Vizenor. The foreword by Jace Weaver and the introduction by Vizenor give a fairly detailed account of the Sugar Point incident near the more notable Bear Island. It was an incident that predominantly occurred after Chief Hole in the Day became upset at being forced to walk a long distance after being acquitted of whiskey running charges. He swore he would never deal with the white man’s court again, so when he was again subpoenaed to go to court, this time as a witness, he refused. Thus, the authorities attempted to arrest him, but the chief called for aid and approximately twenty natives helped him escape. Continue reading

Leading up to the Red Power Movement

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People often try to pinpoint specific events when they talk about the birth of wars, happenings, fads, and major movements. For instance, it is easy to say America entered into a war with Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is a lot harder to retrace historic and cultural events which paved the way for Japan to ally itself with Germany and Italy. The same concept applies with consideration over what paved the way for the Red Power Movement of the 60s and 70s among the Native Americans. Similar to a chef adding various ingredients to some meal a variety of events occurred among Indians, over a thirty to forty year period, that created the recipe which brought forth the Red Power Movement. It is a complex issue that could easily require a volume of text to do justice. However, for the sake of brevity, I will point out some of the predominant ingredients which helped create the socio-political concoction known as the RPM: government policies, poverty, perseverance, and place paved the way for the Red Power Movement. Continue reading

Outlaw Dick Fellows has no horse sense

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They say “there’s no accountin’ fer’ taste.”

Perhaps it’s the same fer’ brains.

Like choosin’ a horse bearin’ criminal path

while unable ta’ control the reigns.

Dick Fellows was just such a fool,

though others would claim he was wiley.

Yet the mistakes he had made were of such a low grade

he would admit them quite rare, an’ then only shyly.

Assault an’ a robbery had bought him some time,

an’ the place he was sent was San Quentin.

Though the time that he got was cut rather short

on account of the faith he was hintin’.

He acted quiet pious, an’ bowed ta’ his knees,

then quoted a verse here an’ there.

A jailhouse conversion of the first magnitude,

with a personal testimony ta’ share.

Well, Governor Booth got wind of the change,

“let’s cut that poor Fellows some slack.”

So they unlocked the shackles an’ set Fellows free,

but the guards, they knew he’d be back.

He weren’t much of a worker, but wished ta’ be rich,

so to crime once more he did turn.

Yet ta’ rob a stagecoach he needed a horse,

but horses caused his innards ta’ churn.

Fellows went ta’ the livery ta’ rent a cayuse,

then sought a Wells Fargo stage he did fancy.

But on the way ta’ the hold-up, the ridden got wind of the rider,

an’ the spirited horse became antsy.

It bucked an’ it reared an’ threw Fellows down,

then ran off back ta’ the livery.

The timing now off, the first got away,

he switched targets fer’ the second delivery.

The Bakersfield stage he got ta’ hold-up,

then realized he forgot vital tools.

He could not break the locks so he carried the box.

How foolish ta’ forget all the rules.

The second horse then took off like the first,

leavin’ Fellows ta’ hump his own load.

But he’d gone this far, so carry he would,

just hopin’ he’d got him some gold.

So he shouldered the box, an’ walked in the dark,

then took a near twenty foot fall.

Down the number five tunnel of the Southern Pacific,

where he broke his leg an’ wanted ta’ bawl.

He drug himself ta’ a Chinaman’s tent,

an’ he found an axe ta’ steal.

Made himself a crutch, then chopped open the box,

“Eighteen-hundred, my God, what a deal!”

He then limped along ta’ the Fountain Ranch,

where he stole himself a new horse.

Then made his way ta’ an abandoned shack,

where he was arrested by detectives, of course.

Fer’ the crime he committed the verdict came down,

eight long years he must do.

Though the very next day Fellows could not be found,

a tunnel in the floor he went thru.

He stole one more horse, but had similar luck,

the law caught him before he could run.

Shipped him straight ta’ San Quentin, the guards had been right,

he was back there under the gun.

He was freed in five years, instead of the eight,

but quickly forewent honest means.

So he held-up a stage an’ got clean away,

but with only ten dollars in his jeans.

Well, he tried it again, but it was worse than before,

the cash box contained a mere letter.

Then the third attempt, after waitin’ some time,

had a similar outcome, not better.

Less than a year from the time of his release

back behind bars he did go.

He was sentenced ta’ life, at Folsom this time,

yet he escaped once more, don’t ya’ know:

though he hadn’t learned nothin’ in all his attempts,

as he mounted an’ grabbed up the reigns.

The horse bucked him off, the lawmen did scoff,

cuz’ once more the horse showed all the brains.

© JW Thomas

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Alferd Packer the cannibal tracker

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Alferd Packer, aka Alfred,

alias John Schwartze,

earned his claim ta’ infamy

as a mountain guide ta’ greenhorns.

Born in Colorado,

with only a smidge of education,

he grew up rude an’ crude,

an’ all humanity he did scorn.

At first he tried prospectin’,

he survived by eatin’ game,

but skills fer’ findin’ precious metal

had never lived within his brain.

He was good at drinkin’ courage,

he could talk down tenderfeet,

but when push came ta’ shove

he would crack under the strain.

In the early eighteen-seventies,

a miner struck it rich,

which brought a heap a’ dreamers

ta’ the mountains of Utah.

Yet most who came ta’ prospect

were as poor as Packer at it,

they all dreamed of bein’ Big Chiefs,

but they labored like a squaw.

In the Fall of seventy-three

Packer changed his way of thinkin’,

instead of scratchin’ dirt

he would snatch from those who would.

He conned nineteen Eastern lillies

into acceptin’ him as guide,

an’ they set out in a Winter,

at a time when no one should.

It was record breakin’ cold,

an’ the game it went ta’ ground,

so all these would-be miners had

was carried on their backs.

The days turned into weeks,

an’ the weeks they took their toll,

an’ Packer could not perform

like the lies he told in shacks.

When the food ran out the party barked,

an’ Packer acted squirrely;

he was lost, an’ he knew it,

but he wanted his commission.

A stroke of luck while trekking long,

to a friendly tribe they came;

so with a full belly Packer thought

he’d go back ta’ his ambition.

Chief Ouray, with wisdom wrought

from survivin’ many winters,

told the men ta’ turn back now,

or you’ll not survive til Spring.

The prospectin’ party had a parlay,

an’ ten did see the wisdom;

what good is silver, or of gold,

if ta’ life they couldn’t cling?

A loud-mouthed braggert, Packer was,

he mocked the ten fer’ quittin’,

but all he really cared about

was the money he would lose.

Salt Lake City was not an option,

Packer knew he could not go back;

back there his debts were high an’ wide,

an’ this grubstake was all he could use.

So off they tredged within the storm,

ta’ find within a few weeks,

the very same dire consequence

that had made them desparate before.

Then bickerin’ became the norm,

the party it split again,

to the Los Pinos Indian Agency:

the number ta’ go would be four.

The weather was bad,

the directions not good,

only two men ended up where they should:

an’ that’s after days in the blizzard.

They were gaunt, they were stringy,

they looked like Death come a walkin’,

an’ both were so hungry

 they’d be happy ta’ eat a lizzard.

Though as bad as it was

it coulda’ been worse,

they coulda’ remained with Packer,

like Swan, Humphreys, Noon, Miller, an’ Bell.

Off in the frozen beyond,

in an’ abandoned trapper’s cabin,

they ate their last meal

an’ laid down ta’ fight the chill.

From nineteen men ta’ five,

Packer saw his profit dwindlin’,

so he swore it was the end,

an’ took action ta’ see it thru.

Single-shots ta’ the heads

of all but Miller,

who awoke from the sounds

an’ arose fer’ a fight.

But alas, he was weak

an’ disoriented,

an’ Packer caved in his skull:

a ghastly sight.

Then thru the pockets

an’ packs he did go,

no food did they have,

just thousands in cash.

Yet that wouldn’t do,

he quickly surmised,

an’ the obvious

came in a flash.

With knife in hand

he cut an’ he sliced,

an’ filled his pack

with meat from the men.

A matter of taste,

man breast was his liking;

he judged it quite good,

as he swallowed his sin.

Though at civilization’s door

he would toss the remainder away,

an’ play the last survivor role

fer’ at least a country minute.

He then spent freely

from what he stole,

an’ the wise began ta’ wonder,

an’ Packer knew he stuck his foot in it.

But the biggest ‘damn’ was yet ta’ come,

indians found them on the way in:

the human jerky he tossed away

this time came ta’ bite him.

The jig was up,

his lies unfold,

he would show the law

where the story turned grim.

Yet even then he tried ta’ lie,

ta’ claim it was self-defense;

but with four in bed, with shots ta’ head,

it easily broke that spell.

We’ll take ya’ back an’ do it right

the law dogs quoted sternly,

but these five souls will never rest

til yer’ shit deep in hell.

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© JW Thomas