Archive for June, 2011

Howard often wrote of the desperadoes terrorizing the South and Midwest during the early 1930s to his fellow Weird Tales writer H.P. Lovecraft. On July 13, 1932 he included this bit of information on Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd and Harry and Jennings Young in his letter to HPL:

Referring to “Pretty-Boy” Floyd, he’s still at large, as near as I can learn, having recently shot his way out of a trap where the police had him surrounded. It’s rumored that he was in the farm-house in Missouri the night the Young brothers massacred those six officers, and I think it quite probable. You know the Youngs were cornered in Houston and killed themselves. I don’t think Floyd will go out that way. He’ll probably be shot in the back by one of his own gang who wants the big reward.

Despite Howard’s assertion that Pretty Boy Floyd was a participant in the massacre, it was merely a popular rumor at the time. While Harry Young and Floyd undoubtedly met in the Missouri prison where both were incarcerated during 1927 and 1928, Floyd was not at the Young farm that fateful day. What started out as a simple arrest, turned into the worst loss of life in law enforcement history resulting from a single incident. Six officers died that day, a deadly record that stood until September 11, 2001.

James David Young, was a Christian and honest man, but had to hang his head in shame when three of his eleven children turned to a life a crime and he was powerless to stop their slide down that slippery slope. Three of his sons, Paul, Jennings and Harry, became gun-toting wise guys who believed they were above the law and disdainful of honest, law abiding citizens. Indeed, they felt entitled to appropriate any property they wanted from those citizens they so despised. His wife, Willie Florence Young, was supportive of all her children, even the ones who went astray. The family lived on a 100 acre farm just southwest of Springfield, Missouri, located in the Ozarks region of that state.

The three brothers, who called themselves the Young Triumvirate, were suspected of committing both petty and major crimes, but despite the efforts of law enforcement, nothing could be pinned on them. A reckoning came in 1919 when Paul and Jennings broke into a small-town store south of Springfield, and were quickly caught with stolen merchandise. In light of the overwhelming evidence, they confessed to the theft and were sent to the state penitentiary in Jefferson City.

The pair was indifferent to the shame and humiliation their father felt in the presence of his friends and kin. The rest of the Young children shared their father’s grief, but Mrs. Young held Paul and Jennings blameless in the crime. She pleaded frame-up, double-cross and misplaced justice. She became the defender of her sons’ transgressions, especially Harry who was her favorite.

Their father was inconsolable over the actions of his sons. All he wanted was peace and quiet, but the burden of what his sons had become was too much for him to carry. He became sicker and sicker —  his heart broken, he died while Jennings and Paul were in prison.

A one point in the brothers’ lengthy crime spree, Mrs. Young was nearly arrested after police officers found stolen merchandise in her home. She claimed she knew nothing of the items (tires and rugs) stored in the farm house and Jennings stepped up and took the fall so his mother wouldn’t be charged with possession of stolen merchandise. While he cooled his heels in prison, brothers Paul and Harry kept up the family traditions of robbery and burglary. Harry was sent to the penitentiary in 1927, but soon all three were free again.

On June 2, 1929, Harry was driving recklessly through Republic, Missouri, when he was apprehended by City Marshal Mark Noe for drunk driving. Marshal Noe’s body was found in a roadside ditch several miles out of town the next day. Harry was hunted in big cities and small towns throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Now and then officials would hear of him and often they read of crimes they thought were his, but he was like a ghost, eluding capture for over a year.

Around Thanksgiving 1931 it was learned that Harry, Paul and Jennings were stealing cars and peace officers were on the lookout for the trio of criminals. Federal warrants were out in many jurisdictions for them on violations of the Dyer Act, and there were numerous state warrants too, for offenses including the charge of murder against Harry. Greene County Sheriff Marcell Hendrix spread the false story in the Youngs’ neighborhood he was tired of looking for Harry and that in all probability he had fled to Mexico anyway. It was generally agreed among the sheriff’s forces and the Springfield police they would bide their time flushing the Youngs out of the farm house. They also did not want to tip off Mrs. Young in advance of the raid, fearing she would alert her sons who returned home now and then for short visits.

Federal and State officers in Oklahoma and Texas had traced stolen cars to Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa and Illinois, and they had evidence the Youngs were responsible for the thefts. And then there were an equal number of stolen cars taken from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Illinois into Oklahoma and Texas for disposal there. At the time, their elaborate auto theft ring was one of the largest the FBI had ever seen. Clearly the Young brothers needed to be dealt with, and sooner or later officials knew some of them would stop off at the home place for a visit with their mother. A few days after Thanksgiving it was learned that Jennings was actually at home. He soon left, probably on his way to Illinois with a stolen car and returned shortly on his way back to Texas with a stolen Illinois car, and then on another trip through the Ozarks he actually came into Springfield.

On Saturday, January 2, 1932, evidence indicated that Jennings and probably Paul and Harry were at the family farm. Sheriff Hendrix collected ammunition, deputies and detectives to make the raid. A total of eleven men headed for the farm seven miles southwest of Springfield that fateful day. Since the farm was outside the city limits of Springfield, Chief of Police Ed Waddle handed the matter off the the County Sheriff to deal with. Sheriff Hendrix had been a friend and neighbor of the Youngs for many years and believed they would not harm him. When they arrived, the men milled about the farmhouse for a few minutes, banging on doors and yelling. They thought they heard noises coming from inside and came up with a plan to safely force the occupants out of the house. Getting no response from the occupants, it was agreed that the officers would fan out around the front of the house, fire a gas canister into one of the upstairs windows, and after the gas had time to saturate the second floor, the Sheriff and a few others would force their way in the back door and flush the brothers out the front door. Detective Johnson fired a gas canister through one of the upstairs windows while the group of officers waited a few minutes before taking up their assigned positions.

Sheriff Hendrix and Deputy Sheriff Wiley Mashburn, followed by Detective Virgil Johnson, left the southeast corner of the house and walked to the kitchen door. In order to cover them and observe their movements, Chief of Detectives Tony Oliver took cover behind a tree on the outside of a small lawn fence. Patrolman Charles Houser stood unprotected by the lawn gate. Detective Sid Meadows stood behind a tree outside the lawn fence on the north side where he might observe any exit from the northwest corner of the house. Detective Ben Bilyeu stood in the open close to Oliver. Detective Frank Pike and civilian R. G. Wegman were ordered to the rear of the officer’s cars to keep careful watch of the barn and shed. Detective Owen Brown and Deputy Sheriff Ollie Crosswhite took up positions at the northeast corner of the house so Crosswhite could look in the window.

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This entry filed under H. P. Lovecraft, Howard's Texas, Weird Tales.

Before Howard’s Turlogh O’Brien, there was a historical O’Brien:

Toirdelbach Ua Briain (1009–14 July 1086), anglicised Turlogh O’Brien, was King of Munster and effectively High King of Ireland. A grandson of Brian Bóruma, Toirdelbach was the son of Tadc mac Briain who was killed in 1023 by his half-brother Donnchad mac Briain.

For the first forty years of his life nothing is known of Toirdelbach. It was not until the 1050s that he found allies in Connacht and in Leinster, particularly the powerful King of Leinster Diarmait mac Maíl na mBó, who would aid his claims to be ruler of Munster. It took perhaps ten years of sustained attack to remove his uncle Donnchad from power, and send him into exile, and to place Toirdelbach in power in Munster as Diarmait’s faithful ally.

On Diarmait’s death Toirdelbach took over the reins of power, establishing himself as ruler of more than half of Ireland. While not a great military leader, he was a capable politician whose influence extended as far north as Ulaid and who made and unmade Kings of Connacht. He died after more than two decades in power, following a lengthy illness, still in control of events. His son Muirchertach Ua Briain would be the leading king of his day, and his grandson Toirdelbach Ua Conchobair would be greater yet.

Toirdelbach (Turlogh) was the son of Tadc mac Brian (Teige O’Brien), son of Brian Bóruma, and Mór, daughter of Gilla Brigte Ua Maíl Muaid of Cenél Fiachach. His father was killed in 1023, probably on the orders of his half-brother Donnchad (Donagh) mac Briain who thereby made himself king of Munster. Donnchad, while he successfully retained control of Munster for four decades, was never able to achieve the same success as Brian. Epigraphic evidence shows that he aimed to be king of Ireland, and perhaps considered himself to be such, but the annalists and later historians recognised no such pretensions.

As for Toirdelbach, the annals record nothing of him until the 1050s, at which time he was seeking, and finding, outside assistance against his uncle. Donnchad’s (or Donagh’s) main rivals were Diarmait mac Maíl na mBó, King of Leinster from 1042, and Áed in Gaí Bernaig, King of Connachtfrom 1046. Diarmait in particular was a serious threat; allied with Niall mac Eochada, King of Ulster, he installed his son Murchadas ruler of Dublin in 1052, driving out Donnchad’s brother-in-law and ally Echmarcach mac Ragnaill. From the beginning of the 1050s onwards, Donnchad came under sustained attack from both Áed and Diarmait. Toirdelbach first joined with Áed in the early 1050s, raiding into Tuadmumu in 1052 and inflicting a heavy defeat on Donnchad’s son Murchad in Corco Mruad, the north-west of modern County Clare in 1055. By 1058 Toirdelbach had gained Diarmait’s support, for he was present when Diarmait, the Leinstermen and the Osraige drove Donnchad from Limerick, which he burned so that it would not fall into the hands of his enemies, and defeated him at Sliabh gCrot in the Galtee Mountains.

In 1060 Donnchad attempted to divide his enemies by submitting to Áed. This was unsuccessful as Áed attacked again in 1061, razing the Dál gCais fortress at Kincora and burning their church at Killaloe. Injury was added to insult when Diarmait brought an army and Toirdelbach in his train, to Munster in 1062. Donnchad’s son Murchad led the unsuccessful resistance, and even when Diarmait returned to Leinster, Toirdelbach defeated his kinsmen. By 1063, Donnchad was beaten. Deposed, he went on pilgrimage to Rome where he died the following year. Diarmait installed Toirdelbach as a puppet king in Munster.

                                                                                                                                           — Wikipedia

And now a timeline for Robert E. Howard’s Turlogh O’Brien.

(This assumes that REH knew more about Turlogh than Wikipedia does.)

995 — Born to the Clan na O’Brien. Newborn, he is tossed into a snowdrift to test his right to survive.

1003 – (?) Captured by Normans in obscure circumstances. The boy Turlogh may have been shipwrecked on the Normandy coast.  He may have been taken by Norman pirates in the Channel and held for ransom while on a voyage with kinsmen. Alternatively, perhaps he was sent into Normandy as a hostage during negotiations by clan O’Brien with the Normans. It’s possible, considering that his grandfather Brian Boru had just become High King of Ireland after at last defeating his rival Máel Sechnaill. (This happened in 1002.)

In any case Turlogh spent two or three years there, possibly even at the castle of the then Duke of Normandy, Richard, second of that name, who ruled the duchy between 996 and 1026. Richard’s duchess was Judith, a lady from Brittany, who would then have been twenty-one, about 12 years younger than her husband.  Judith’s father (REH fans will grin at this) was named Conan.  Conan I, Duke of Brittany from 990 onward, and Count of Rennes before that.

Young Turlogh learned to appreciate the value of mail from watching the Norman fighting men, even though most Gaelic warriors scorned it as cowardly. Perhaps he imitated their custom of shaving and cutting their hair short when he grew to manhood, too.  Even the rough fisherman on the remote western coast in “The Dark Man” guesses Turlogh’s identity by that, outlaw in the wilds though he is at the time.

1005 or 1006 – Turlogh returns home.  He’s now ten or eleven years old. I believe ten. Brian Boru is working and fighting to impose his will as High King on the only province that as yet does not recognize his authority – Ulster of the O’Neills. This was difficult. By land there were three main ways an invading army could enter that province, and they all favored the defenders. Brian used co-ordinated forces by land and sea to achieve his goal, as the Ulster rulers couldn’t stop his fleet from attacking their shores. That must have been the context in which young Turlogh honed his sailing and sea-fighting skills. (“The Dark Man” makes it plain that he did so somehow, and while still a lad.)

1010 – Turlogh turns fifteen in this year. Moira, daughter of Murtagh, a Dalcassian chief, is seven, and Turlogh is evidently fond of her. This is the girl he will later seek to rescue from Thorfel the Fair in “The Dark Man.”

1014 – Battle of Clontarf. Easter. Turlogh fights there memorably, meeting one of the Viking chiefs (Brodir) in the battle and putting him to flight. Among the other mighty warriors present is Athelstane, the renegade Saxon from Wessex, whose path will cross Turlogh’s again and again. 

Brodir kills Brian Boru in his tent as he departs, and Turlogh swiftly catches up with Brodir. He avenges his grandfather by slitting Brodir the Warlock’s belly and walking him around a tree until all his entrails are wound about the trunk. This gruesome incident later finds its way into the Icelandic Njal’s Sagha, or The Burning of Njal. (Some of the characters in the saga fight at Clontarf.) 

Shortly thereafter, “all Erin is rocking under the Dalcassian throne.” Turlogh is outlawed from his clan, accused of treachery and intrigue with the Danes. “The jealousy of a cousin and the spite of a woman.” (“The Grey God Passes”)

Turlogh’s father Teige and his uncle Donagh or Donchad, Teige’s half-brother, are already divided by mistrust and ambition. The “cousin” who was jealous is probably a son of Donchad’s. The “spite of a woman” that contributed is more obscure. If the exact circumstances are ever discovered, it’d make a good story.

1015 — Canute of Denmark’s fleet sets sail for England. Turlogh, who hates the Danes to the point of madness, goes to England to fight them. He becomes a friend of King Ethelred’s son, the warrior prince Edmund Ironside. During the winter of 1015-16 he pretends to desert to the Danes in the guise of a Danish-Irish bastard named Wulf, hoping to get close enough to Canute to murder him and so finish his invasion. While in Canute’s camp he challenges two Jomsvikings who insult him, fights both at once in a formal holmgang, and kills both. This gains him the by-name of “Wulf the Quarrelsome” among the Vikings.

Athelstane the Saxon, once of Wessex, now in Canute’s service, recognizes Turlogh and guesses his purpose in the Danish camp. He exposes him to save Canute’s life. Turlogh has to cut his way out and run. Overtaken by some of the Polish riders who form part of Canute’s invasion army (sent by Canute’s ally, Boleslaw the Brave of Poland) Turlogh kills them too and completes his escape on a Polish horse.

1016 – Edmund, who was briefly king, is killed by treachery, organized by Eadric Streona of Mercia. This occurs in November. Turlogh vows to take vengeance on the manifold traitor, who has changed sides more than once during the struggles between Danes and English. First, though, he communicates with Edmund’s widow, Queen Aldgyth, and they make plans to take her infant sons to safety lest Canute have them murdered.

Canute does in fact intend to do just that, but prefers to have them killed far away from England, to avoid unrest among his new subjects. He sends them to Sweden on a ship, with a letter to the Swedish king, Olof Skötkonung, asking him as one king to another to kindly dispose of the little boys.

Turlogh, with a crew of English warriors who fought beside him and Edmund, follows the ship, using information given him by Aldgyth. Before the vessel reaches Sweden, he catches it at one of its landfalls, quietly kills the infants’ guards, and takes them and their wet-nurse down to his own fleet dragon-ship. Then he sets fire to the Danes’ ship, burning it to ashes, and burns the hall in which they shelter for good measure. He lets any women and children out but cuts down the men.

Afterwards he sails south, and further south, stopping at last in Bordeaux for the rest of the winter. 

1017 – In the spring, Turlogh sells his ship to finance the journey overland. He and his band of English warriors cross southern France and the kingdom of Burgundy, then Lombardy by way of Milan and Trent, before heading up through Bavaria to Hungary. Inevitably they meet bandits and wicked predatory lords on the way; quite possibly supernatural menaces too. With Turlogh’s leadership they win over them and protect their young charges.

In Hungary, then ruled by Stephen the First, Turlogh uses diplomacy instead of his ax for once, to convince that (pretty humane for the times) monarch to accept and shelter the English athelings. I’d presume he had to do Stephen a sticky and dangerous favor of some sort, but that once he succeeded, Stephen swore on holy relics to protect the boys.

After that, Turlogh rides back across the German Empire, the northern part of it this time. Passing through Vienna, Nurnberg and Aachen, he came to Normandy, where he still had friends, and gained ship-passage back to England. Being Turlogh, it’s a sure bet he has a number of violent adventures that would do credit to Conan, as he travels.

Back in England, he discovers that King Canute has married Emma of Normandy, the widow of King Ethelred. The wedding took place in July. Emma probably had little choice about it. Canute, in this first year of his reign, has ruthlessly had killed a number of English nobles he mistrusted. One of Ethelred’s sons, Eadwig, (his fifth son by his first marriage) has been among those murdered, even though he’d fled abroad in an attempt to survive. Canute’s assassins had followed him. Eadric Streona is still thriving, though.

Turlogh enters King Canute’s palace at Christmas and kills the traitor. Canute allows men to think it was done by his orders, and has Eadric’s corpse thrown over the wall for dogs to devour. As he says to a protesting underling, “Man, would you rather have it thought that Eadric could be killed in my palace if I had not ordered it?”

At about this same time, strife has arisen between Turlogh’s father Teige, in Ireland, and Teige’s half-brother Donagh, king of Munster. Donagh is defeated. He nurses resentment, and a few years later he murders Teige. Characteristic Irish family relationships.

1018 — Turlogh returns to Ireland at last. He finds a rather less warm welcome there than he was given in Hungary.  An outcast from the O’Brien clan still, and persona non grataamong the O’Neills of the north in a big way, he spends a few months in the Wicklow Hills (east coast) “preying on the O’Reillys and the Oastmen alike.” Then he hears that Moira, daughter of Murtagh, a Dalcassian chief, has been taken by Vikings, and learns who took her – a fact unknown to the other O’Briens. He goes to the west of Ireland to get a boat and rescue her.  

In “The Dark Man,” REH writes, ” … scarcely three years had passed, as the fisherman knew … ” since the battle of Clontarf.  That was at Easter, 1014, so by my chronology it would be over four years. But people, even nobles, didn’t keep close track of time in those days, and common folk like the fisherman even less. He’d think in such terms as “the year Uncle Connor died” or “the year of the great storm at Lugnasadh.” He probably wasn’t sure how many years old he was himself.

Turlogh is young — 23 — and, the story says, he is many years the abducted Moira’s senior. It’s hard to say what would count as “many” in his mind, but I’m assuming Moira is 15.

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This entry filed under Howard Scholarship.

In 1923 or 1924, a souvenir folder of postcards depicting landmarks and attractions in and around Brownwood was published by the Jones & Dublin Company of Brownwood. Howard spent a good bit of time in Brownwood and certainly either visited or knew of all of these places. He and Hester lived there while Howard attended his last year of high school and he later returned to attend classes at Howard Payne. Rob, who has nearly spent as much time in Brownwood as Howrd did has written about at least four of these places on this blog.

Here is the text that accompanies the pictures and photos contained in the souvenir folder:

Brownwood, Texas

Brownwood, in the heart of Texas is a city of 12,000 population.  The exact geographical centre of Texas is within 16 miles of Brownwood.

The town is at the junction of the Santa Fe Railroad and the Frisco railroad, which affords easy and rapid communication with all points. Temple is 143 miles southeast and Fort Worth is 143 miles northeast.  Brownwood is in the midst of the largest natural gas field in the world, and the gas is cheap for all purposes. The Brownwood Gas Company, in addition to a six-inch line was laid an 8-inch line from the Jane Ellen gas field to this city.

  • Brownwood has a population of 12,000. Brown County has 22,000.
  • Brownwood has a live wire chamber of commerce. Wright Armstrong, secretary.
  • Brownwood has a county club valued at $30,000, including golf links.
  • Brownwood has two first class colleges — Howard Payne and Daniel Baker.
  • Brownwood has the best school system of any town in Texas.
  • Brownwood has fifteen churches, of which three have been recently built at a cost of $100,000 each.
  • Brownwood has a great oil field, producing 3,000 barrel of oil weekly.
  • In the vicinity of Brownwood The Dixie Gasoline Company built its big gasoline manufacturing plant at a cost of $250,000. This plant converts 6,500,000 cubic feet of gas into gasoline daily.
  • The Prairie Pipe Line Company has a line leading from the Brown County field and is taking all the oil produced in the field.
  • Brownwood is the centre of the Wholesale trade in central west Texas.
  • Brownwood is the headquarters for more than 200 commercial travelers.
  • Brownwood has two large oil refineries and a pipe line from the refineries to the north Brown County oil field.
  • Brownwood is the centre of the Pecan industry of Texas and here is located the largest pecan shelling industry, with the exception of the one in San Antonio.
  • Brownwood has two of the largest and most complete swimming pools in the southwest.
  • Brownwood has the largest cotton compress between Fort Worth and San Francisco, more than 60,000 bales of cotton being handled the past season.
  • Brownwood has the largest and best equipped cotton oil mill in the southwest.
  • The average rainfall for the Brownwood area for the past six years was 29.93 inches.
  • Brownwood has a well organized Poultry Association that puts on a big show every year.
  • Brownwood is headquarters for the Brown County Fair Association.
  • Brownwood is headquarters for two military companies.
  • Brownwood has several fine bands – The Old Gray Mare Band, The Junior Band, the High School Band.
  • The Blue Devil Band of Howard Payne College and the Colored Band.
  • Brownwood is building an auditorium that will cost $100,000 — to be ready by April 30.
  • Brownwood has five banks, all doing a fine business.
  • Brownwood has six hotels, all well patronized.
  • Brownwood has a well organized polo players club.
  • Brownwood is headquarters of the West Texas Telephone Company.
  • Brownwood has a well organized Fin and Feather Fishing Club.
  • Brownwood has all the facilities possessed by the modern city five times its size.

The hellish crimson gem that a doomed diver had brought from a sunken city in the Persian Gulf had caused rivers of blood to flow wherever it went, maddening those who held it with a lust for conquest and slaughter. Its origins seem to have been definitely pre-human, perhaps in the strange southern civilization whose existence is hinted in the annals of King Kull. It was the diver’s bequest to that equally doomed Babylonian prince, Belshazzar. In the west it was named for him. For generations its presence haunted the Persian kings. It briefly passed through the hands of Alexander the Great, who took it into India and lost it there. From India it travelled further east in the hands of a thief, and eventually arrived in China.

The terrible first emperor, Shi-Huangdi, possessed it, as did the bloody rebel Xiang Yu. The fiendish Grand Dowager Empress, Lü Zhi, was more cruel than either of them, and the ruby – which became known in China as the “Demon’s Joy,” according to the Buddhist chronicler Fa Hsien – was buried with her in 180 BCE. All sensible men and women hoped it would remain there until the world ended. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Her tomb was despoiled of the cursed gem after a mere four decades.

No Chinese did that. According to Fa Hsien, whose “Account of the Ruby” is the only detailed source for what became of it in the far Orient, an ambassador from the barbarous Hiung-nu carried out the robbery, under instructions from his ruler. The Hiung-nu, or Xiongnu in the fashionable modern spelling, may have been essentially the same people as the Huns who menaced the late Roman Empire. Their most famous leader – here in the west, anyhow — was the dreaded “Scourge of God,” Attila.

In the third century BCE, the Hiung-nu were a group of central Asian tribes a lot like the later Mongols. Even the language they spoke is in considerable dispute among scholars. What is certain is that their first great leader known, Modu, was born about 234 BCE. From a very young age he’s said to have been outstanding for courage and skill. After killing his father Touman and taking over the tribes Touman ruled, at the age of twenty-five, he set out on a path of conquest, subdued and united all the Hiung-nu tribes (much as Genghis Khan did centuries later), creating a vast empire centered on the Gobi – one of the largest that then existed. It rivaled the Chinese and Persian Empires; it was greater, in extent at least, than the Maurya Empire of India.

His story deserves to be told at greater length, but since he never owned the “Blood of Belshazzar” it’s irrelevant to the history of the gem. He was known as Modu Chanyu; his full title, “Chengli Gutu Chanyu” means “Son of the Endless Sky.”  He died in 174 BCE and was succeeded by his son Juzhi, known in China as Laoshang.

While Modu reigned, he fought a three-year war with the newly established Chinese Han Empire. He outfought the Han and compelled them to pay a humiliating yearly tribute to the Hiung-nu. When the Emperor Gao-tsu (formerly known as Liu Bang, a rebel warlord of peasant origins) led an army forty thousand strong against the Hiung-nu in 200 BCE, he was besieged and defeated at Baideng. After that, a still more humiliating peace settlement included the condition that Chinese princesses be given regularly in marriage to the Chanyu of the nomads. This was called heqin, which means “harmonious kinship.”  It wasn’t so harmonious in the eyes of the Han, who considered the Hiung-nu uncouth barbarians. In any case they didn’t send true “princesses,” but daughters of this or that emperor by subordinate concubines, and such girls might number dozens. Nevertheless, the Han viewed the arrangement as degrading.

The Han emperor Wudi ascended the throne in 140 BCE. An embassy from the nomad empire came to his court at once, supposedly to settle details of tribute and trade agreements. The true purpose was to loot the tomb of Lü Zhi of the Blood of Belshazzar. The Chanyu of the nomads at that time was Gunchen, who had been reigning for twenty years. Gunchen had not achieved much in those twenty years, certainly nothing to compare with the creation of his immense empire by Modu, and he had become tired of being a little man trying to fill his forebear’s big shoes. He credited the superstition that the Blood of Belshazzar brought victory and conquest. It didn’t always. It inspired bloodlust, obsessive purpose and sometimes outright madness.

The nomad ambassador successfully looted the Grand Dowager Empress’s opulent grave. Before the desecration was discovered he’d returned home, but he was ambushed and killed by a lesser ambitious chieftain, who took the accursed ruby. Gunchen Chanyu never saw it. For the last fifteen years of his reign, chief after ambitious chief attacked his rivals, won or lost, slaughtered their tribes or had his slaughtered, formed alliances and treacherously broke them, while the ruby changed hands with the fortunes of war. No holder of the ruby actually became supreme lord of the Hiung-nu in that time, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. Gunchen had other problems, too, as when he was lured into Chinese territory in 133 BCE and almost caught in an ambush by 300,000 Chinese soldiers. He escaped only because a traitorous Chinese officer sent him warning. After that the Chinese emperor abrogated the heqin arrangement, trade relations collapsed, and Hiung-nu caravans to China were attacked without regard for treaties.

Gunchen’s younger brother Ichise became Chanyu in 126 BCE. Ichise reigned for twelve years, during which Hiung-nu disunity increased and the Chinese had a number of victories over them. Chinese commanders actually penetrated deep into Hiung-nu lands on their campaigns, and in 123 BCE nearly 20 thousand Hiung-nu were killed or captured. According to the Chinese records, over five years they killed or captured 300,000 Hiung-nu.

The Blood of Belshazzar, now called the “Demon’s Joy” by the Chinese, remained north of the Great Wall in Hiung-nu.

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This entry filed under Howard Scholarship.

This is the second 2011 post of the online version of Nemedian Dispatches. This feature previously appeared in the print journal until I moved it to the website last year. On a quarterly basis, Nemedian Dispatches will highlight new and upcoming appearances of Howard’s fiction in print, as well as Howard in other types of media.

In Print:

Since I just recapped all the new books that appeared at Howard Days last week, I won’t repeat that information here, but I will list other new items.

The Big Book of Adventure Stories
This huge collection of pulp stories features Howard’s “The Devil in Iron” and a ton of other stories by a “who’s who” of pulp fiction writers, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Clark Aston Smith and Jack London. This hefty volume is edited by Otto Penzler.

The Golden State Phantasticks: The California Romantics and Related Subjects
Donald Sydney-Fryer presents a thick volume containing a number of essays on Clark Ashton Smith, Ambrose Bierce, Robert E. Howard and others.

A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard
Hippocampus Press has published a trade paperback edition of its two volume hardcover set containing the correspondence of fictioneers H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. This collection is annotated and edited by Rusty Burke, S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz.

Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #2
The second issue of this first-rate comic features the writing of Robert E. Howard, Marc Andreyko, Joe Casey, Roy Thomas, Paul Tobin and art by Tim Bradstreet, Gil Kane, Ernie Chan, Pop Mhan and Michael Atiyeh, with a cover by Tim Bradstreet. REH’s Savage Sword features a number of Howard’s heroes in new adventures and restored, re-colored reprints of classic tales. Conan, El Borak, Dark Agnes, Sailor Steve Costigan, and Roy Thomas and Gil Kane’s long-out-of-print classic, “The Valley of the Worm,” re-colored and reprinted.

Red Nails and The Hour of The Dragon
These are a couple of knock-off paperback editions of two of Howard’s better Conan yarns published by some outfit named Aegypan.  Hardly worth your time unless you must own everything ever published by REH.

Kindle & E-Books:

Adventure, Horror & Western Megapacks
Each of these genre collections contains 25 stories each. The Adventure Megapack contains REH”s “Son of the White Wolf,” the Horror collection has “Children of the Night, while the Western set has two Howard yarns, “Texas John Alden” and “War on Bear Creek.”

The Complete Adventures of Breckenridge Elkins
Howard’s humorous western character Breckenridge Elkins shines in these tongue-in-cheek, tall-tale adventures that form the basis for this 24 story collection of the best of Breck.

The Hour of the Dragon (Annotated with an Essay on the History of the Fantasy Genre)
Yet another digital version of this Conan novel with some sort of essay on the history of fantasy. The author of the essay is not listed and no reviews have appeared on Amazon’s website, so proceed with caution on this one.

Graphic Art:

The Forbidden Kingdom
Girasol Collectables has just published a high quality, offset-printed reproduction of Australian artist Patrick J. Jones’ barbarian masterpiece “The Forbidden Kingdom.” The art print is 16″ x 24″ on sturdy 8pt stock and captures all the magnificent detail of the original.

Coming Soon:

Robert E. Howard: The Battle for the Legacy of Conan
This long delayed volume by Tom Stewart is slated for publication on August 16th is the first in-depth study of the creator of Conan the Barbarian and the inside story about what happened to the character after his creator’s death. The book details the complicated history of the legal battles and intricate story of how Howard’s Barbarian made his way from the pulps, to paperback books, to comics books and ultimately to the big screen.

Conan the Barbarian: The Stories that Inspired the Movie
The contents of  this book have not yet been announced, but the hope is this mass market sampling of Howard’s Conan stories will lead people to buy the three Del Rey Conan trade paperbacks, and perhaps the other nine books in the series that feature other Howard characters and stories. The release of this paperback is set for July 26th. On a related note, Michael Stackpole’s movie novelization will be published on July 5th.

Some News of Coming Attractions from Howard Days:

Christophe Gans, director of Brotherhood of the Wolf and Silent Hill is on board as writer and director for a new Dark Agnes movie. A Kull movie is in the works, as are film adaptations of “Vultures of Wahpeton” and “Pigeons From Hell” – some talk of a Steve Costigan movie as well. Plans are also for a sequel to the Conan movie to premiere in two years. Paradox hopes to keep Momoa busy on another of their films so he doesn’t get tied up making some other movie when the filming begins on the sequel.

A lot of folks have been clamoring for a hardback collection of Jim and Ruth Keegan’s “Two-Gun Bob” comic strips and Dark Horse seems willing to do one once they have 200 strips under their belts – they completed 120, so 80 more to go for the book to come to fruition.

“Spicy Adventures,” with a cover by the Keegans, will be the next book out from the REH Foundation Press, with a number of other items in the pipeline behind it including a multi-volume “Fight Stories“ collection and a biographical book containing Post Oaks & Sand Roughs, along with some of Howard’s other biographical related material. And a much requested fourth edtion of Collected Poetry is in the works as well.

Dennis McHaney will have out soon Illustrating Robert E. Howard, featuring interviews and write-ups on the top Howard illustrators, plus a ton of their artwork in full color.

Howard Days 2011 unofficially began Thursday night at Humphrey Pete’s, in Brownwood. That’s where the conversations that take the weekend to get sorted out begin. Most of the “movers and shakers” in Howard fandom attend. This year, Rusty Burke, Bill Cavalier (above), Dennis McHaney, Damon Sasser, Mark Finn, and several others were in attendance.

Friday comes waaay too early, but the show must go on. Rusty and Bill kicked things off (above) with a history of Howard Days itself. The brainchild of Burke and Vern Clark (I think), the first Howard Days was to be a one-shot deal. Good thing everyone involved saw the benefits to the affair; what would we all do in June if they decided once was enough?

The first panel was followed by a fanzine panel with McHaney, Sasser, and Lee Breakiron. Breakiron covered the history of fanzines (with samples), and our two guests of honor talked about their experiences as publishers.

I had some Foundation business to attend to, so I missed the “Howard’s Historicals” panel. While that was going on, Paul Herman was busily making sure that the high school theater was ready for Paradox Entertainment’s presentation. Above, Fred Malmberg and Leslie Buhler provided the backstory to the photos and theatrical trailer for the upcoming Conan film. We were the first audience to view the R-rated trailer. This was preceded by a personal video from Jason Mamoa in which he expressed his regrets for not being able to attend.

After a short Q & A session, those in attendance (above) handled a few movie props and took pictures. Then it was off to the Silent Auction and Banquet at the Community Center.

After dinner, our Guests of Honor spoke about the trials and tribulations of their Howard careers. The funniest moment was when Sasser told the story of his first Howard Days experience. During that trip, Bill Cavalier described Damon as a living legend. Sasser told his family, and he said “They didn’t know I was a living legend.” I guess you had to be there.

After a late Friday night in the pavilion, I again missed most of the panels on Saturday, but I didn’t miss the Foundation luncheon at Jean’s Feedbarn (above). We were joined by Fred Malmberg and everyone stuffed themselves. Legacy Circle members received The Hyborian Age, a collection of all the drafts of that important essay. Membership has its benefits.

After the “What’s Happening with REH” panel–during which we heard about the movie and comic book deals that Paradox is working on, as well as the next Foundation book in the pipeline: Spicy Adventures–we hopped in our cars and headed to the Caddo Peak Ranch for a barbeque. The line was longer than usual, which indicates that attendance was up this year.

After the traditional REHupa photo, we all headed back to the pavilion for one more night. Decisions were made and plans were schemed. Hopefully next year will be even better.

This past weekend, the newly renovated Howard House Museum Gift Shop was packed to the rafters with all sorts of new books and publications. By late Saturday afternoon, the huge stacks of books had dwindled down significantly as Howard heads blew the doors off the Gift Shop and toted off a ton of Howard swag. Here is the rundown on the new items were there:

  • Anniversary:  A Tribute to Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector from publisher Dennis McHaney. While not currently available, Dennis should have it back on sale on soon.
  • The Howard Collector #19, which is being sold by Paul Herman. Contact him directly to order a copy.
  • School Days in the Post Oaks and The Collected Letters of Doctor Isaac M. Howard, two new REH Foundation Press books debuted at Howard Days.  The volumes are available on the Foundation’s storefront in both softcover and hardcover versions.
  • Footsteps of Approaching Thousands by Ann Beeler is a history of the city of Cross Plains and features a chapter on the Howards written by Rusty Burke. The book is published to commemorate the centennial of the town and is now available through
  • Dreams in the Fire: Stories and Poetry Inspired by Robert E. Howard was one of those books flying off the Gift Shop shelves. Edited by Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, this collection of prose and poetry from past and present REHupans was one book that nearly everybody had tucked under their arm. You can order your copy from

Copies of the limited edition The Fantasy Fan hardcover were also sold at Howard Days. The publisher, Lance Thingmaker, graciously donated an autographed copy of the book to the Cross Plains Library and asked if I could bring a few copies to sell for him. I agreed and he sent me five copies –  all sold in a matter of minutes, leaving some folks who wanted a copy without one.  But fear not, Lance still has copies and you can contact him via e-mail to order direct from him.

In addition to REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #15, I also brought a large batch of two different postcards that I donated to the Gift Shop to sell. One was the full color Bran Mak Morn painting from the cover of the current issue of TGR, and the other was a colorized version of plate one from the “Beyond the Black River” portfolio, both by Michael L. Peters. These items sold very well and I will be bringing some different ones next year.

Overall, Howard Days was a huge success – Rob should have a detailed trip report up shortly. In excess of 200 people attended one or both days and $1500 was raised at the silent auction, up from last year and there were fewer items this year. If the event gets any bigger, Project Pride will need to expand the size of the venues as they were at full capacity this year.

Howard spent a lot of his spare time meandering around Texas. Of course, other trips were more serious when his ailing mother needed specialized medical treatments not available in or near Cross Plains. But overall, Howard writes fondly of the places he visited and the people he met along the way. In this excerpt from a letter to H.P. Lovecraft, circa July 1935, he mentions three of his many trips:

I haven’t done any travelling to speak of since I returned home. Outside of my usual trips to Brownwood and Coleman, I’ve made only three journeys, and they were very short. Once to De Leon, 45 miles to the east, and over a most damnable road, and back by the way of Comanche and Brownwood. Comanche is the oldest town in this region, and has a varied and violent history. It bore the brunt of Indian attacks in the ’60s; they used to camp outside the town and ride up and down the streets at night shooting at the windows while the people fired back at them. The majority of the Rangers who took part in the great Dove Creek fight with the Kickapoos were from Comanche. It was in Comanche that John Wesley Hardin killed Sheriff Webb, for which he was later sentenced — in the same town — to twenty-five years in the pen; and it was in Comanche that Joe Hardin and some of his cousins were lynched. It was a live town fifty years ago. I made a trip to Mineral Wells, which lies about 107 miles east of here, among the Palo Pinto mountains; and a few weeks later another trip east, that time to Weatherford, which lies about thirty miles east of Mineral Wells. Weatherford is the county seat of Parker County, named for the Parker family of old Fort Parker, and in which county I was born. It was in Weatherford, that was danced, so far as I know, the only scalp-dance ever danced by whites in the States. Some Comanches butchered some people in the vicinity, but were caught before they could get back into the Territory. The Rangers brought their scalps back to Weatherford and strung them up in the square, and the population, male and female, turned out, and danced them in regular Comanche style.

We’ve touched on a few of the topics he brings up in his letter – the killing of Charlie Webb and Mineral Wells here on the blog. The last part of the above excerpt addresses an incident in that occurred in Parker County in 1860.

In June of 1860, General John R. Baylor resided in San Antonio, with his brother George W. Baylor, his two sons, Walker K. and John W. Baylor. That month the four of them and a friend named Wat. Reynolds visited the Clear Fork of the Brazos, where the General formerly lived. Gen. Baylor was a member of the Texas state legislature in 1853 and a delegate to the Texas secession convention in 1861. He rose to the rank of colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and was Representative from Texas in the Confederate Congress during 1864-65. General John Magruder was so impressed by his gallantry that he recommended that he be promoted to brigadier general, however his highest Confederate rank was colonel. Baylor University is named for Gen. Baylor’s uncle, Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor.

While there, hunting cattle, Gen. Baylor and his group were informed of the killing of Josephus Browning, and the serious wounding of Frank Browning, by a large body of Comanches. They immediately rode to the Browning ranch on the Clear Fork, near the mouth of Hubbard’s creek, where they met a group of other men who had been attracted to the location by news of the murderous acts of the Indians. Gen. Baylor, George W. Baylor, Elias Hale, Minn Wright and John Dawson started in pursuit of the killers, and on the fifth day — June 28th — overtook them on Paint Creek, where a fierce battle ensued, during which Baylor and his friends killed thirteen of the Comanches.

They returned victorious to Weatherford, bringing the scalps of nine of them, together with a number of trophies, including the scalp of a white woman whom the Indians had killed, plus several bows and arrows, darts, quivers, shields, tomahawks, and other accouterments of savage warfare. The hatred toward the Indians was so bitter that Baylor and his group were celebrated for their prowess and daring. The horrible murder of Mrs. Sherman and others in the northwestern portion of the county in 1859, and other similar outrages, were fresh in the minds of the townspeople who had lost friends, relatives and property at the hands of the murderous tribes. So there was much excitement among them over the killing of the savages by Baylor and his men.

The news of Baylor’s success spread to the adjoining counties, and the heroic men were honored with a public barbecue on the town square, in which several hundred people participated in — speeches were made, and a general rejoicing ruled the day. In the evening a dance was held at the courthouse, which went on all night long. This is the event Howard referred to in his letter to Lovecraft.

Various American Indian tribes, including the Comanches of Texas, had some form of a scalp dance, which was a victory dance celebrating the conquest of their enemies.

Scalps were a good thing to carry back to the village and dance over; in addition, scalps were used to trim and fringe war clothing and to tie to the horses bridle before into battle. Usually the scalps taken were about the size of a silver dollar-sized pancake, but like any other piece of flesh they stretched greatly, and young braves were instructed how to do this.

The scalp dance was no wild frenzied affair, as most people might imagine, rather it was a sociable courtship dance made up of several parts, which took place around a huge bonfire. The singers for the dance were middle-aged men, all married. The ceremony of the dance was perfectly well defined, and the song was well known and unvarying as if it had been printed. The young men lined up north of the fire, and the young women lined up across from them. Sound familiar? Take away the scalps and it sounds like a typical American high school dance.

In the largest room in the Parker County courthouse, a rope was stretched diagonally across and on it were hung the nine Indian scalps, the woman’s scalp captured from the defunct Comanches, and the other trophies of the successful expedition. In all the excitement incidental to the celebration, those who participated in the festivities evidently forgot that the prominent decorations of the hall were unmistakable evidences of death and murder, and the relics of barbarism – the same barbarism that was a very frequent visitor to Parker and surrounding counties.

Indeed, the thought of civilized white settlers dancing what they would consider to be a heathen dance is a bit of a shock, but it appears that a group of them did in Weatherford – whether they fully realized it or not – the scalps hanging above them  included one from a white woman victim of the Indians. No doubt about it, there was some serious scalp dancing going on in Weatherford that June evening in 1860.

This entry filed under H. P. Lovecraft, Howard's Texas, Howard's Travels.

Here is a special announcement from Paul Herman on a fantastic surprise to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Howard Collector:

That’s right, after 28 years of quiet, The Howard Collector, the first and greatest REH journal, has returned. Started by Glenn Lord in 1961, THC served as a venue for REH studies, and set the standard for REH periodicals. Collecting rare and previously unpublished REH stories, poems and letters, along with book reviews, and interesting historical information from REH’s friends and associates, THC was uniquely situated to provide the best of everything. Glenn acquired the famed Trunk of lost materials, and he served as the literary agent for the REH heirs for more than 30 years. Glenn also tracked down and visited with several of REH’s friends, and accordingly gaining access to even more material. And finally, Glenn is the kind of person who crafts a book with class, subtlety and care, to create a book without silly flash, just great meat on them bones.

THC ran for 18 issues, ending in 1973, as Glenn got too busy with the business of REH to deal with cranking out a fanzine. Those original 18 issues are now highly collectible, and contain all sorts of rare and interesting REH works and discussion. Go check them out on eBay, sometime, and see the prices these fetch.

Glenn has been retired from the world of REH for more than a decade now. But Dennis McHaney had the idea of seeing if Glenn would be interested in doing another issue in his spare time. A group of us chatted with Glenn, and he decided to do it. With the kind permission of Paradox, and the efforts of a few friends (including Rob Roehm), the latest issue is now available. A lot of research and work went into trying to properly match fonts, styles, paper, etc. Contents include an introduction by Glenn Lord, a previously unpublished REH poem, a previously unpublished REH drawing, a previously unpublished Breck Elkins fragment, and the infamous first draft of “Black Canaan,” the one that REH said the editors “cut the guts out of.” The guts are back in. And finally, some book reviews by the great Fred Blosser.

The print run is limited to 200 copies total. The book is a fat 52 pages, and sells for $20. As Glenn has better things to do, I’m handling the shipping. Shipping in the US is $3 First Class, $6 Priority. Insurance is $2. For non-US destinations, please contact me.

Checks or money orders can be sent to:

Paul Herman
P.O. Box 250526
Plano, TX 75025

or to pay via PayPal, click here for the e-mail address.

Note this book was debuted and on sale for a couple hours in Cross Plains during Howard Days this past weekend, and about a third of them were sold, without many folks even getting to see it. When they are gone, they are gone. All profits go directly to Glenn.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

This entry filed under Collecting Howard, Glenn Lord, Howard Days, News.

Day 3 of the Texas trip took me first to Hamilton, Texas (above), about an hour east of Cross Plains. Hamilton is the “big town” in Hamilton County, and the closest source of groceries for a little town called Aleman (pronounced Ale-man). Howard’s correspondent and onetime visitor Herbert Klatt lived in Aleman.

Besides a very few homes and ranches, there’s very little left in the town of Aleman (below), if there was ever much to begin with. The locals in Hamilton said there was nothing there, but I found a few items of interest.

In Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, Klatt is transformed into Hubert Grott, and he is witness to the shenanigans between Howard, Clyde Smith, and Truett Vinson at Smith’s uncle’s ranch. Besides Howard, Klatt corresponded with Smith, Vinson, and Harold Preece. He had a poem in one issue of Howard’s Right Hook, and was an assistant editor on Vinson’s Toreador.

In the last year of his life, Klatt became an assistant teacher at the Aleman Lutheran Church. He died in 1928 and is buried in the church’s cemetery.

After Aleman, I went back to Cross Plains and met up with the arriving Howard-heads, then went to Brownwood to take care of a couple of things. Then, at 5:00, everyone converged on Humphrey Pete’s for dinner. Afterwards, some folks visited Howard’s gravesite, others went back to Cross Plains. Speaking of which, I need to get out there.

Howard Days begins officially tomorrow, so don’t expect any more posts from me until Sunday. You know you wish you were here.