While the bout between Georges Carpentier and Battling Siki would never be billed as “the fight of the century,” it did garner attention from a 32-year old Ho Chi Minh, evidently a fan of the pugilistic sport. “From a national viewpoint,” he wrote, “boxers are indispensable as an example of, and stimulation to, the physical excellence of the young generation. From the colonial viewpoint, a Carpentier-Siki match is worth more than one hundred gubernatorial speeches to prove to our subjects and protégés that we want to apply to the letter the principle of equality between races.” A very lofty thought, but the fight was quite a sordid affair, in fact, it was “fixed.”

In Carpentier By Himself, “the Orchid Man” admits it was a “phoney” match and adds that he could have finished Siki off in the first round if he had so desired. He wrote that “as a boxer [Siki’s] standard was primitive and no one in his senses could reasonably have regarded him as a suitable opponent for me.” Carpentier, we’ll soon discover, was not the most modest of men. His manager, François Descamps, felt it was necessary to arrange a match for his French fighter in Paris, and Carpentier agreed. In his book he writes—“As I saw the whole thing I was doing the Parisian public a favor and making a deliberate concession to their quite understandable desire to see me fight in the capital again.”

Deschamps and Charlie Hellers, Siki’s manager, got together and planned the details. Siki would hit the canvas in rounds one, two and three, and then in the fourth he would go down and stay down. Peter Benson, in his excellent biography, Battling Siki: A Tale of Ring Fixes, Race, and Murder in the 1920s, states that “Siki hated the whole idea, but if he hadn’t agreed to go through with it, there would have been no bout.” Of course Carpentier’s version is quite different—Siki is absolutely terrified and the only way he can be made to fight is the promise that the Frenchman won’t hit him too hard when the time comes for him to take his dive.

In the first round Carpentier taps Siki lightly and the Senegalese falls to the canvas, and cries of “fix” start to pepper the air. The referee, Henry Bernstein (who knows all about the pre-fight arrangements), angrily tells Siki to get up, that he hadn’t been hit. The next couple of rounds continue, rather tamely, with the crowd getting restless, and so Carpentier starts to swing a little harder, trying to make it look good. It must have felt like the Frenchman was hitting a bit too hard to Siki, who begins to get mad. When he is knocked down, supposedly, in the third, Siki looks up at Carpentier and has a change of heart. His pride is too great—he, according to his own statement, had never been on his knees before to any man and he gets off the canvas determined to now win the fight. He promptly knocks Carpentier down and the bout turns into a real match. The Frenchman gets up, clinches, calls Siki a bastard and tells him to go down. When the bell sounds Hellers asks Siki if he’s forgotten that he’s supposed to lose, but his fighter doesn’t reply.

The fourth and fifth rounds turn into a slugfest and a brawl, with Siki dominating—in his book Carpentier admits that not only hadn’t he trained for a fight that wasn’t really a fight, he had been living a dissolute lifestyle and so now didn’t have the stamina he usually did. In the sixth Carpentier is heading to the canvas for the last time when he trips over Siki’s leg and the referee, obviously very confused by now, disqualifies “the Singular Senegalese,” and awards the victory to Georges. The crowd, who have been throwing their support behind Siki ever since the third round, start to raise hell and the referee’s decision is overturned and Siki finally comes away the winner and the new light-heavyweight champion.

A strange ending to a strange fight and Carpentier never got over how he was double-crossed. Siki was a very good fighter, as was Carpentier, but I think no honor from this fight can really come to either of these two men—a fix is a dirty deal in any sport, and a double-cross doesn’t make it better.

One last episode from Siki’s life needs to be recounted, as it does help us understand this boxer and his times. Nigel Collins, in his book Boxing Babylon (1990), relates a story from Siki’s First World War experiences. Seems that, singlehandedly, Siki surprised a group of nine German soldiers and was holding them prisoner when he started to realize how tough it was now going to be to get his captives back to the French lines. He solves this singular dilemma by ordering the nine men to climb into a hole and then tosses two grenades in after them. I don’t know how much faith can be placed in this story, after all Siki is the only survivor, but France believed him and decorated him with a medal.

We’ll end, as we began, with a quote from Ho Chi Minh, which perhaps sums up how some minorities perceived the 1922 fight. “Ever since colonialism existed, the Whites have been paid to bash in the faces of the Blacks. For once, a Black has been paid to do the same thing to a White.” For the quotes from Ho Chi Minh I am indebted to Andrew Gallimore’s A Bloody Canvas (2007), the story of Mike McTigue, the Irishman who dethroned Siki.

Read Part One

This entry filed under Howard the Pugilist.

On many occasions, Howard loved to hop in his Chevy and take off on a trip to some destination in his beloved Texas. Here he relates a story about a trip down to the south Texas coast to H.P. Lovecraft in an October 1931 letter:

Nature is a grim old mistress, as she has proved time and again, in Galveston and elsewhere. Storms and inundations have always sent shivers along my spine, even in the contemplation of them. Anything you can’t fight is horrible. You can’t shoot or cut a hurricane nor brain a flood with a bludgeon. All you can do is die like sheep — a most detestable end. I wouldn’t live on the coast for that reason — although destructive wind storms are not uncommon in this country. I have noted a tendency to resent remarks concerning the possibility of future catastrophes, among the people of the Coast. Just as Californians speak of the earthquake as “the big fire” and resent comments regarding earthquakes. I remember a night I spent at Rockport, a little port not very far from Corpus Christi. I stayed in a big rambling hotel close to the water’s edge, and learned that in one of the more recent hurricanes — one which did great damage in Corpus Christi — a derelict hull rammed the hotel and almost demolished one side of it. But the proprietor of the hotel waxed irritable at the suggestion that the town might fall prey to another hurricane some time, and he said that Rockport was in no more danger from the elements than any other town in the country. Not wanting to antagonize the man, I agreed with him, commenting on the peril of oceanic inundation of Denver, Colorado, and the risk of tropical storms run by the inhabitants of Butte, Montana, and Madison, South Dakota. But he seemed to suspect a hint of irony in my innocent remarks, and thereafter treated me coolly.

Hurricane season just ended a few days ago and as someone who has lived his entire life on the Texas Gulf Coast, I can sympathize with the innkeeper’s sentiment about hurricanes. I think Howard misunderstood what his host was stating. It was not so much a sense of resentment he was expressing, but more likely a sense of futility. That is, there will always be another storm and while other locations in the country did not have to deal with hurricanes, they had their own weather related and natural disasters to contend with.

As for the hurricane that Howard references in his letter, it would appear to be the “big one” that ravaged Corpus Christi and the surrounding area in September of 1919. Between 1919 and the date of Howard’s visit, there were several other storms that came ashore in that same area of the Texas Coast, but none as devastating as the 1919 storm. Here is a description of the storm from the NOAA website:

September 14-16th, 1919: A severe hurricane formed just east of the Virgin Islands on the 1st of September. It gained much of its strength between Santo Domingo and the Central Bahamas, one of the favored areas for major hurricane development (track to right). The pressure at Key West fell to 28.81″ as the storm passed by on the 9-10th ; gales were experienced for 26 ½ hours due to the storm’s slow movement. The Sand Key Weather Bureau station was abandoned at 1 PM on the 9th. The anemometer was blown away as winds passed 84 mph and the pressure fell to 28.35″ at midnight. As it moved over the Dry Tortugas on the 10th, the pressure had dived to 27.51″…a nearby ship reported a pressure of 27.36″. Ten vessels were lost in the Florida Straits, among them included a ship with 488 people on board. Gales began along the entire Gulf coast, yet the Weather Bureau had difficulty keeping track of it due to very few ship reports. Storm warnings were hoisted on the 11th for Texas. People from Galveston took no chances and prepared for the impending cyclone. Fish invaded the Corpus Christi Bay in great numbers that day. On the 12th, a ship about 300 miles south of New Orleans reported a pressure of 27.50″…and Galveston already had a storm surge of 8.8 feet.

Rumors had spread that the hurricane made landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi and the storm warnings were dropped. Even as the Bay became frothy early on the 14th, the Weather Bureau advised it would be smaller than the 1916 hurricane, and winds would only be 40 mph. Soon after, hurricane flags were put back up. Padre and Brazos Islands were quickly submerged. West winds of 40 to 50 mph swept the Lower Rio Grande valley, damaging a few buildings. Brownsville reported 4.75″ of rain during the storm; see chart on the right for rainfall records set during this hurricane. Later that day, the storm moved inland 25 miles south of Corpus Christi while the storm continued its slow forward trek, putting the city in the dreaded right-front quadrant of the system, where the highest winds and storm surges normally occur. Corpus Christi’s number was finally up. Winds of 110 mph and a pressure of 28.65″ were experienced. Storm surge there was sixteen feet.

Timbers from the docks at Port Aransas became battering rams, destroying buildings on their way inland. Residents on North Beach took an 18 hour trip across Nueces Bay, but it was no pleasure cruise. People clung to whatever they could find to survive the trip amongst ten foot waves. Fifteen hundred cattle were driven off Padre Island into the Laguna Madre. After the storm, the beaches were littered with debris and bodies, which were quickly buried in a mass grave near White Point. A ten foot storm surge along the Matagorda peninsula inundated the area, causing damage to agriculture.

The S.A.U. & G. railroad west of Odem was washed out. Summer houses in Victoria were leveled and the cotton crop was destroyed. An eight foot storm surge overwashed Sabine Pass. At Port Aransas, the steamship Media was lifted onto the docks. As the storm passed inland, San Antonio saw the pressure fall to 29.48″ and winds southeast of 34 mph. Over 310 lives were lost. Heavy rains were experienced across much of Texas (see map above (after Ward & Grice)). Damage estimates were at $20 million. During the storm’s life, Miami, Burrwood in Louisiana, and Galveston all reported winds at least as high as 60 mph, indicating this storm’s large size. This storm led to a breakwater off Corpus Christi in 1925, and ultimately to their seawall by 1940.

The Corpus Christi hurricane of 1919 remains one of the most intense in Texas history. A total of 287 people died in the 1919 hurricane. The sixteen foot storm surge inundated the low-lying areas of Corpus Christi, destroying almost all of the wooden buildings there. The nearby city of Port Aransas was nearly totally demolished. One of those who survived the storm was a young man named Robert Simpson, who would go on to a distinguished career as Director of the National Hurricane Center. Simpson was co-founder of the Saffir-Simpson Scale which is used to classify hurricanes by intensity.

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

After putting together the last REH Foundation Newsletter, the one focusing on Images Out of the Sky, the unpublished collection of verse by Robert E. Howard, Lenore Preece, and Tevis Clyde Smuith, I remembered that Smith had self-published a collection of his own verse under that title in 1966. Maybe, I thought, there was some reference to the earlier collection contained therein. I’m sure I could have asked someone about this, but when I went looking, I found a copy for under ten dollars, autographed, so . . .

The book arrived today, and I went straight to the Dedication, which is the only prose in the 65-page collection. The book is dedicated to Smith’s son, Tevis Clyde III, who died at 22 following an operation to remove a brain tumor. Sad stuff. It appears that the younger Smith had told his dad that he would publish the poems contained in the volume someday. Following his son’s death, the elder Smith wrote the following: “Irony makes no compromise. I am publishing the book myself, and dedicating the poems to Tevis.” There is only a vague reference to the original, proposed collection:

Most of the poems had been written before Tevis died. They were poems which I had enjoyed writing. Many of them had gathered dust for years.

While I didn’t find any useful information, I was finally able to cross a few items off my “Need List” from the REH Bookshelf: “Aellening the Wolf,” “Hope,” and “Retraction.” Howard had nothing but praise for Smith’s poetry, so I’ll end with one of his comments, followed by the poem itself.

March 1928: “Glad you’re writing these days. Good stuff, ‘Ellening the Wolf’ was great, especially.”

AELLENING THE WOLF

I was virile and proud and strong,
I who loved the battle’s din,
Rushing to fight with shout and song
Leading my band of fighting men.

Helmet-winged, in the prow I stood,
A full-fledged master of the sea,
Loving the life I found so good,
In a world that was made for me.

I joyed in the battle lust,
The clash of steel, the cry of doom,
The whirling arm, impassioned thrust
That gave to men a liquid tomb.

Just so I died. One wild, dark night,
Like leaping waves, my foemen came,
And then I perished in the fight
And left the world a Viking’s name.

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Tevis Clyde Smith.

With the death of Bill Tilghman, an era ended in the west. At age 70, Tilghman was one of the last of the old-time western lawman still active in law enforcement — active until a crooked prohibition agent named Wiley Lynn ended his life with a hideaway gun before escaping into the night. But what about justice for this brave lawman — would he ever get it?

Part II left off with the coward Wiley Lynn running away from his dastardly deed, fleeing to the safety of the office of the U.S. Commissioner at Holdenville and pleading self-defense for the killing of Cromwell’s town marshal to his superiors. In an effort to bolster his claim of innocence, Lynn said in a November 4, 1924 Oklahoman article, that Tilghman was “blocking his arrest” of other persons, and in other newspaper accounts, Lynn stated that he shot Tilghman in self-defense. Despite his pleas of self-defense, Lynn was soon in custody, cooling his heels in the Seminole County Jail in Wewoka, Oklahoma, awaiting trial for the murder of Tilghman.

Lynn went to trial in May of 1925. The prosecution’s team included the former Oklahoma Attorney General, S. P. “Prince” Freeling, while Lynn’s criminal associates in Oklahoma City hired several high-powered lawyers to defend him. Arnold Killian, Lynn’s former local crime boss, was said to have worked behind the scenes, hoping to influence the outcome of the trial to Lynn’s benefit,

Soon after the killing, fearing for his life after receiving death threats, W.E. Sirmans, fled to Florida to avoid testifying against Lynn. Likewise, Rose Lutke disappeared and was never heard from again — odds are she was killed by Lynn to silence her. Even Hugh Sawyer, Tilghman’s rookie deputy, let him down, stating at the trial he could not clearly see what happened.

Had Sirmans been present to testify about what he actually saw and heard, there is little doubt that the trial’s outcome would have been different. However, Sirmans feared for his own safety and yielded to the instinct of self-preservation. He did provide a written statement, which was a far different version of the shooting than that described by the well-planned and embellished defense. This is what Sirmans wrote in a letter to U.S. Marshal E.D. Nix:

There is no question but that he was murdered in cold blood. Lynn had been getting graft from those illegal liquor people and Tilghman had been breaking into his racket too much. Lynn would have been lynched by a local mob that night I am sure if he hadn’t speeded out of town.

The state’s case, lacking witnesses, fell apart and the jury accepted Lynn’s account that he killed Tilghman in self-defense.  Lynn was acquitted, much to the chagrin of the general public.

Amazing, after his acquittal, Lynn continued to work for the U.S. government for a short while until he was finally fired. The disgraced Lynn experienced one misadventure and brush with the law after another for the next eight years, including being arrested for inciting a riot, several times for being public drunkenness and once for bootlegging. By 1932 he was estranged from his wife and children and living with his parents near Madill, Oklahoma.

One of the lawmen Lynn had brushes with was Crockett Long, a former Madill Chief of Police, who was an Agent of the State Crime Bureau in 1932, living in Oklahoma City, and was in Madill for a weekend visit. Lynn’s hate for Long had smoldered for two years. It all started when Long was Chief of Police and had once been forced to pistol whip Lynn who was resisting arrest for being drunk on the streets of Madill. It was a well known fact that Lynn had threatened the officer, stating: “I’ll kill you someday for this!”

On July 17, 1932, a drunken Lynn walked into the Corner Drug Store in Madill. He immediately saw Long sitting at a table with several friends. Lynn pulled his pistol from his waistband and made this loud demand: “Put ‘em up you SOB, I’m going to get you sometime, so it might as well be now!” At the sight of Lynn and his .38 automatic, customers and staff quickly scattered, diving for cover or seeking the nearest exit. 

Actually, Long was hard of hearing and Lynn had to repeat himself. Once Long caught on to what Lynn was up to, he yelled, “Put that gun down, Lynn!” The fearless Long was undaunted by this latest threat on his life, as he tried in vain to talk the inebriated Lynn out of his quest for revenge. Long then stood up and braced himself for the final shootout, despite the odds in Lynn’s favor – he had his pistol pointed at the officer. The fast draw of Long somewhat offset the disadvantage. Both men fired at the same time, each quickly emptied their pistols at the other. The blaze of gunfire thundered in the crowded store and hot lead slammed into flesh with devestating results.

With all the bullets flying, two young men near the soda fountain were unlucky enough to get hit. Rody Watkins and John Hilburn were both struck by one of the bullets fired by Lynn that had gone entirely through the body of Long. Shots from Crockett’s .44 Special  hit the mark, putting four bullets into Wiley Lynn — two in his chest, one in his stomach, and another into his arm. Long was riddled with bullets as well (a total of five) and lay mortally wounded on the floor of the drug store, dropping where he stood while Lynn was able to walk out and staggered across the street to a service station before he collapsed.

Long died on the operating table about an hour after the shooting. Watkins, one of the two  wounded bystanders, died at 12:30 a.m. Hilburn was not seriously injured and survived his wounds. Lynn lingered for twelve hours before he died. It was about three o’clock the next morning when Lynn was told that Long had died, and he replied: “If he’s dead, now I’m ready to die.” He then folded his arms across his chest and immediately succumbed to the four bullets that had riddled his body. At last Lynn had met his inglorious end. It took some eight years for Tilghman’s death to be avenged, but another fine layman and an innocent bystander lost their lives in the process. The upside to the bloody shootout on that sunny summer afternoon in 1932 was that Lynn was at last sent violently into the afterlife, never to harm another person.

As Zoe Tilghman bitterly observed upon learning of Lynn’s demise, “No jury on earth can acquit him now.”

Read Part I / Part II

This entry filed under Howard's Texas.

 

Over at Lulu Press, they’re having a “Cyber Monday” sale. Shoppers will receive a 30% discount by entering the coupon code CYBERMONDAY, from now until 11:59 (Pacific time) tomorrow night. This is good for Howard fans. Besides the items shown above, a search for Howard-related titles at Lulu revealed the following (most in both paper and hard back editions):

The Robert E. Howard Reader by “Albert Schweitzer”
The Robert E. Howard Reader Volume One is a collection of some of Robert E. Howard’s greatest adventures. None of the stories appearing in The Robert E. Howard Reader are found in the two Del Rey “best of” collections, making it a wonderful companion piece to those volumes. This is the one and only ORIGINAL Robert E. Howard Reader, first published in 2007. It consists of content by ROBERT E. HOWARD.

Robert E. Howard: World’s Greatest Pulpster by Dennis McHaney
This book details the writing career of Robert E. Howard, the author who created Conan the Barbarian. It is a unique look at the pulp magazines that gave him his creative playground, told in letters from the readers of those magazines, and in letters and remembrances from his closest friends. The book is lavishly illustrated with color cover reproductions of many of the magazines in which his stories originally appeared. Winner of the 2006 Cimmerian Award, which is currently the highest achievement in Robert E. Howard studies.

Robert E. Howard: Selected Poems
A large and representative selection of the poetic work of Robert E. Howard, with a general introductory essay, 30 chapter introductions, and commentary by Prof. Frank Coffman, one of the foremost authorities on Howard’s verse and “ways with words.” Three indexes add to the value of this ample selection: by title, by first lines, and a “Form Finder” index to allow quick access to Howard’s work with the ballad, the sonnet, blank verse, free verse and other forms and techniques. Well over half of Howard’s more than 700 poems are included in this text, set in a text size and format for presentation that enhances readability and enjoyment. For those who are familiar with Howard’s prose fictional works, but who remain uninitiated in the many qualities and nuances of Howard’s verse, this compilation and commentary will offer insights into the complexity, quality and breadth of his work. For those who believe they know Howard’s poetic work, some new perspectives will broaden their appreciation.

A Gent from Bear Creek by Robert E. Howard
Saddle up, pards, and ride the range with one of Robert E. Howard’s greatest characters, Breckinridge Elkins. This is the novel version of A GENT FROM BEAR CREEK, first published in 1937 in London, and the rarest and most valuable Howard book ever published. It was reprinted in facsimile form by Donald M. Grant in the sixties, but every reprinting of it since then has been edited. This version restores the original Jenkins text. The original dust jacket is reproduced on this edition. There are only a handful of original dust jackets in existence, most of them in libraries in England.

And a whole lot more, including all of the Foundation’s Lulu books. A 30% discount is even bigger than our members receive.

 

All of my Roehm’s Room Press books are available, too, including Howard’s Haunts and the brand new Lone Scout of Letters:

Herbert C. Klatt was a primary figure of the Lone Scouts of America movement in Texas. Not only did he contribute to Lone Scout, the organization’s official organ, he also wrote articles for a plethora of “tribe papers” and edited Lone Scout columns for regional and community newspapers. Despite all this, Klatt is probably best known as a friend and correspondent of Texas author Robert E. Howard. Klatt’s importance in Howard’s biography has not been fully explored, but he was instrumental in the introduction of his more famous friend to the group of writers that eventually produced The Junto, including Harold Preece and Booth Mooney. Upon his death in 1928, Klatt’s friends attempted to garner support for a memorial collection of his writings. Plans were made and printers contacted, but the attempt was never realized—-until today. This anthology collects Klatt’s letters to Tevis Clyde Smith and a sampling of his Lone Scout material. It also includes material by Robert E. Howard, Truett Vinson, and Smith.

Plus a pile of other items. Happy shopping.

Battling Siki, “the Singular Senegalese,” saw his share of troubles during his lifetime and Robert E. Howard clearly knew this when he drew a crude sketch of Siki being beset on all sides by knives bearing the names of different fighters—this doodle now decorates the cover of The Collected Drawings of Robert E. Howard.  One of the knives has “Carpentier” etched into the blade and that’s a point of interest because it was Georges Carpentier that Siki bested to become light-heavyweight champion of the world on September 24, 1922 in Paris, on a night that threatened rain.

It would be an evening that Carpentier, idolized by his countrymen, would never forget—he would leave the ring battered, bloody, and booed by those who had once been fans. In Carpentier By Himself  (1958) he would state that this bout had been a “phoney fight” and that a man with an “I.Q. about that of a child of five” and who “was literally shaking with fright” could never have emerged as the better man had the contest been a legitimate one.

But before Siki ever wore the crown he had many hurdles to overcome and, of course, racism was always the biggest one. “A lot of newspaper people have written that I am a chimpanzee who has been taught to wear gloves,” Siki once noted and this prejudice continued with the outlandish cartoon depictions that were placed inside those same papers.

According to Peter Benson’s Battling Siki: A Tale of Ring Fixes, Race, and Murder in the 1920s  (2006) this underrated black boxer was born in “Saint-Louis, the windswept settlement in the arid north of Senegal,” possibly in 1897, and stayed there until he was about ten or eleven years old. At that time an entertainer, Elaine Grosse, swept him away with her to France; some writers claim she was rich and was trying to ease him out of poverty, and others, obviously with minds residing in the gutters, claimed that she was impressed with his “anatomical attributes.” But he went to France all the same and ended up serving in WWI where he distinguished himself, earning a few medals.

After knocking the hell out of Carpentier, he held the championship for only about 6 months, losing it when he faced a tough Irish fighter, Mike McTigue, in Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day—obviously the Senegalese didn’t care about being a crowd favorite.

Battling Siki is of major importance to any fan of Howard’s Ghost Stories tale, “The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux,” or, as it appeared in the pulp, “The Apparition in the Prize Ring.” Ace Jessel’s foe in this story is named Mankiller Gomez, who is almost a dead ringer for Siki. Howard writes that Gomez was “a full-blooded Senegalese from the West Coast of Africa” and a “son of the black jungle.” We’ve already seen that Siki was, indeed, from Senegal, and in Benson’s book we learn that at the time Siki was fighting he was tagged, almost exactly like Gomez, as being a “child of the jungle.” It was also said that Siki was “born to the dank jungles of Senegal” even though the boxer declared that the first time he’d ever really seen a jungle was in an American movie!

“The Singular Senegalese” was not destined for a happy ending—he was murdered in New York in 1925, perhaps the victim of gangsters he had double-crossed—it’s an ending shrouded in mystery, and no one ever served time for the killing. The Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, father of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., officiated at Siki’s funeral, which was held in Harlem. His body was returned to Senegal in 1993; he was welcomed back as a national hero.

Next we’ll be exploring the Carpentier-Siki “phoney” bout, and we’ll even talk a little about Ho Chi Minh, and what he thought of Siki.

Read Part Two

This entry filed under Howard the Pugilist, Howard's Fiction.

Born and raised in the farm communities of Texas, Herbert C. Klatt became a primary figure of the Lone Scouts of America movement in Texas. Not only did he contribute to Lone Scout, the organization’s official organ, he also wrote articles for a plethora of “tribe papers” and edited Lone Scout columns for regional and community newspapers. Despite all this, Klatt is probably best known as a friend and correspondent of Texas author Robert E. Howard. Klatt’s importance in Howard’s biography has not been fully explored, but he was instrumental in the introduction of his more famous friend to the group of writers that eventually produced The Junto, including Harold Preece and Booth Mooney. Upon his death in 1928, Klatt’s friends attempted to garner support for a memorial collection of his writings. Plans were made and printers contacted, but the attempt was never realized—until today.

Now available from Roehm’s Room Press, Lone Scout of Letters collects all of the known surviving letters written by Klatt to Tevis Clyde Smith (12) and Robert E. Howard (1). It also includes a sampling of Klatt’s work from various tribe and farm papers, letters outlining the planned memorial collection, and an extensive appendix containing all of the known material written by Truett Vinson, including Lone Scout items, letters, and articles from The Junto.

The material is presented in chronological order, with articles from various publications interspersed between Klatt’s letters and excerpts from other correspondents, including Robert E. Howard and Truett Vinson. The complete text of Howard’s single surviving letter to Klatt is included, as is his letter to Smith eulogizing Klatt, the section from Post Oaks and Sand Roughs that describes Klatt’s visit to Brownwood, and other excerpts from his novel and correspondence.

The collection also features all of the known surviving photographs of Klatt (9 of them), a recently found article by Tevis Clyde Smith from The Junto that mentions Howard, and title and subject indexes, all with introduction and notes by yours truly.

While primarily a collection of material by and about Herbert C. Klatt, Lone Scout of Letters also serves as a resource for the Howard fan and scholar. Besides Klatt’s mentions of Howard in his letters to Smith, the volume provides information about The Junto and its members, as well as the Lone Scouts of America, an organization whose members had an influence on Howard.

This anthology is available in two editions via lulu.com: hardcover for $25 and paperback for $16. See the preview on the Lulu page for a list of contents.

In Part I we got a flavor of what the outlaw life was all about as we followed Bill Doolin as he progressed from small crimes to major crimes, meeting a violent end and crossing paths several times with legendary lawman Bill Tilghman in the process.

The life of William Matthew “Bill” Tilghman began in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he was born on July 4, 1854. By the age of 15 he had left home and was hunting buffalo on the southern plains with his older brother Richard. The two of them killed numerous buffalo and sold their hides in Dodge City, Kansas. Soon the buffalo business petered out as overkill drove the beautiful animals to near extinction and the brothers moved on to other endeavors.

The Tilghmans relocated to Dodge City in the spring of 1877 where Bill Tilghman and a business partner, Henry Garris became owners and operators of the Crystal Palace saloon. A year after the move, someone accused Tilghman of being involved in a train robbery in a neighboring county. He was not. However, few months later Tilghman was arrested by Ford County Sheriff Bat Masterson for horse stealing. The case against Tilghman was eventually dismissed.

Despite these troubles, Tilghman and Garris continued to operate the Crystal Palace saloon and at some point, Tilghman became a Ford County Deputy Sheriff at Dodge City. It was his first job as a peace officer. Tilghman and his partner sold the Crystal Palace saloon in the spring of 1878. Tilghman bought another saloon, the Oasis, for his brother Frank to run.

In 1877 he married Flora Kendall, a widow, and started up a small ranch on a homestead near Dodge City. Tilghman was soon appointed city marshal, faithfully serving the famous cattle town for two years. The following year Tilghman was hired by one of the factions in the Gray County Seat War. The War involved the bitter struggle between the high plains boomtowns of Cimarron and Ingalls, Kansas over which would be the county seat for Gray County. During the conflict, Tilghman killed Ed Prather on the Fourth of July in a saloon fight.

Tilghman participated in the Great Oklahoma Territory Land Run of 1889, staking a land claim near Guthrie. In 1893 he worked as a peace officer in the wild boomtown of Perry where he killed a troublemaker named Crescent Sam on September 17, 1893. During this period Tilghman moved his wife and four children to a stud farm near Chandler. Flora Tilghman contracted tuberculosis and, in 1897 returned to her mother’s Dodge City home and filed for divorce. Flora died in 1900. Tilghman wed a second time in 1903, at the age of 49, he married 22-year old Zoe Agnes Stratton.

During the mid-1890s Tilghman was a deputy U.S. Marshal and honed his skills as a man hunter, collecting significant amounts of reward money. Working with Heck Thomas and Chris Madsen, the trio was known as “Three Guardsmen.” Among Tilghman’s greatest success were the capture of fugitive “Little Dick” Raidler and the arrest of notorious gang leader Bill Doolin.

In 1900, Tilghman was elected sheriff of Lincoln County, Oklahoma and served several years there. While serving as sheriff, Tilghman mastered another important factor of being a lawman, he learned the art of politicking. The new century marked a change in the previous style of getting votes. A modern politician of the day had to rely on more efficient and sophisticated ways of getting the vote out to a growing population. Views had to be transmitted through the expanding print media to reach the electorate. A 1907 letter to the editor of the Lincoln Broadsides newspaper identifies Tilghman’s impressive record and publicizes his campaign:

I desire to call to the attention of the voters to the good work done by Wm. Tilghman during his tenure in office as Lincoln County Sheriff. During the first thirty days of Mr. Tilghman’s administration he received warrants for nine persons charged with horse stealing. He caught eight of the thieves, recovered the horse in the ninth case and afterwards caught the thief and sent him to the penitentiary, a record for thirty days never made by any sheriff before or since that time. During the ten years prior to his election there have been convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary thirty-nine persons charged with various crimes. During his term of office eighty-four persons were convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary, being more than has ever been sent to the penitentiary before or since his terms as sheriff. A large portion of these were the hardest criminals Lincoln County ever had to contend with, a good many of them being horse thieves, bank robbers, and murderers. This record was accomplished by hard work. No sheriff in Lincoln County ever worked harder or more faithful than Wm. Tilghman did. When a crime was committed the night was never too strong or too dark for him to go after criminals. He went and kept going until he captured them and landed them in jail and kept them until they were indicted and convicted. He then transported them to the penitentiary and delivered them to the warden of the institution. Mr. Tilghman inaugurated a system of collecting personal taxes that saved the farmers of Lincoln County hundreds of dollars. Lincoln County never elected an officer that worked harder or more faithful than Bill Tilghman during his terms in office. Do you want Lincoln County over-run with horse thieves? Do you want to guard your pastures to protect your stock at night? Do you want Lincoln County to continue to be a banner county in Oklahoma for bank robbers? Do you want Lincoln County murders to escape and go unpunished? Do you want your homes burglarized? If not vote for Wm. Tilghman on June 8th.

Yours Very Truly,
R.P. Martin

When President Teddy Roosevelt visited the Big Pasture area in Oklahoma Territory for a well-publicized wolf hunt in 1905, he asked the intrepid marshal how he had eluded death with the many quick-drawing outlaws he had confronted. The mild-mannered Tilghman replied that he had many times beaten his adversaries by only the sixteenth of a second. He also expounded that the man who knows he is right always has the edge over a man that knows he is in the wrong.

President Roosevelt was quite taken with the lawman and admired his skills, so he offered Tilghman a monumental task – go deep into Mexico and bring back a railroad embezzler who had eluded the U.S. Government for some time. The year 1905 was an especially turbulent time in Old Mexico. Mexican government rurales (federal troops) were trying to keep revolutionaries from controlling remote regions of the country – the land was hot, barren and full of murderous bushwhackers. Traveling south of the border, Tilghman, soon met with Roosevelt’s Mexican counterpart, President Porfirio Diaz, who was impressed with the letter Tilghman presented to him from President Roosevelt. Diaz offered him any number of rurales he wanted. After all, Tilghman was headed to Aguascalientes, a corrupt and violent city inhabited by the worst of criminals – both Mexican and American. However, Tilghman respectfully declined Diaz’s offer, reasoning he didn’t want to cause a commotion that might offer the quarry an opportunity for escape.

Tilghman rode into the dusty, dingy village alone. Soon he was riding back out of town with his rifle across his saddle covered by a duster. The man the U.S. Government hadn’t been able to capture sat the saddle on the horse in front of him. He was delivered north of the border – alive.

In 1908, he became fed up with the way Hollywood was glamorizing the outlaws of the day. So he and real life historical figures Quanah Parker and Heck Thomas made a short film called A Bank Robbery. Then, in 1915, Tilghman and his friends U.S. Marshal E.D. Nix and Chris Madsen wrote the script for and starred as themselves in the full length feature film, Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws to show how things really were back in the heyday of the Wild West. They even managed to get an old outlaw nemesis, Arkansas Tom, released from prison to be a consultant and act in the film.

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This entry filed under H. P. Lovecraft.

Robert E. Howard’s interests ranged widely, but strong among them was his fascination with the ancient world and the different branches of the human race. That antique people of northern Italy, the Etruscans or Tuscans, caught his attention, but little was really known about them in his lifetime. Even the words Etruscan and Etruria are Roman in origin. Their name for themselves was Rasenna. The Greeks called them Tyrrhenians, and the Tyrrhene Sea between Tuscany and Provence still carries that name. The Adriatic on the other side of the Italian peninsula derives its name from Etruscan influence too. They were famous sailors. They could have given Ulysses a run for his money.

No-one could read their language in REH’s day. It wasn’t Indo-European, as most of Europe’s ancient languages, from the Celtic lands across to Persia, were. The Etruscans and the Basques were among the few remnants of an older time, speaking tongues unrelated to the others. Part of the fascination for Howard may have been that very mystery. In September of 1930, He wrote the following to H.P. Lovecraft:

I agree with you that the Tuscans influenced Roman physiognomy and character greatly. And that brings up another question – who were the Tuscans and from where did they come? I would certainly like to see your views on the subject.

Lovecraft must have responded, because in a return letter REH said:

Your remarks on the Etruscans interested me very much. I am sure you are right in believing them to be of a very composite type of Semite and Aryan. It’s a pity no more is known about them; doubtless their full history was a spectacular pageant of wars, intrigues and culture development. Where did they have their beginning? What unknown tribes went into their making? Was it conquest, friendship or pressure from some common foe which brought together and mingled these alien race-stocks into one people? Was this mingling accomplished in three or four generations or did it require the passing of a thousand years? In what secluded valley did these people slowly and peacefully climb the ladder of evolution, or over what wastelands were they harried by what nameless enemies? Did they spring into being in Italy, or did they come from some far land? And if the latter, what drove them from their original homeland and what chance flung them on the Italian coasts? These are questions whose answers we doubtless shall never know, and after all, may be asked of almost any race.

Not much later, in October of the same year, Howard wrote:

I am much taken with your suggestion for tying up the Etruscans with an Elder World civilization and mean to have a fling at it some day, though my notions about them now are so hazy that it will require a great deal of study of their ways and customs before I would be able to write intelligently about them.

Other people seemed to think so too. I remember reading only two historical novels about the Etruscans. They were pretty widely separated as to quality. One was The Etruscan  (1956), by Mika Waltari, who had written the very fine The Egyptian as well. Lars Turms, the Etruscan, is a superstitious and deeply religious man, like all his people. He travels widely, seeking the secret of his identity, a difficult task as he’s lost his memory. And the other – going from the sublime to the ridiculous – was Lord of the Etruscans, a slim paperback in a cheap 1960s series of pseudo-historicals that were basically lightweight soft porn. Banquet orgies and fine Roman girls captured by lustful Etruscan pirates. I can’t remember anything about it except the title.

That has always struck me as fairly odd. The Etruscans, even from the little that’s known about them, were a fascinating people. REH could have written a rip-roaring adventure story with Etruscan characters, either as villains or heroes, since at their height they contested for control of the western Mediterranean in a three-cornered struggle with the Greeks and Carthaginians. They were skilled seamen, notorious pirates and superb metal-workers. Their religious ideas were quite dark and emphasized the horrors of an afterlife in hell. Their demons were pretty frightening. They invented gladiatorial contests to honor their great men at their funeral games. Rome copied the practice and made it a public sport for bloody entertainment a good deal later. The Etruscans dominated Roman political life in Rome’s early days and provided several of its kings – most famously, “the great house of Tarquin.” By the early days I mean before the Republic.

Howard’s interest in “tying up the Etruscans with an Elder World civilization” and meaning “to have a fling at it some day” could mean that he liked the idea of ascribing (fictionally) the Etruscans’ origin to the former ages of Conan and – perhaps – of Kull. The Etruscans were an ancient race, Mediterranean, and dark in complexion. They had that much in common with REH’s fictional Picts. I forget which Bran Mak Morn story it comes from, but at one point a captive legionary (I think) taken before Bran, asks who he is and receives the reply, “A Mediterranean.” The captive says skeptically, “Of Caledonia?” and Bran tells him, “Of the world.” As to the physical difference between Bran and his gnarled, stunted subjects in the heather, the king says, “I am as the race was.”

The story “The Lost Race” also features Picts, but they are not like Bran Mak Morn or his subjects. This is a branch of the Pictish race that inhabits Cornwall, and has been driven from the daylight by the invading Celts, living in caves and ravines and becoming on average scarcely four feet tall – the “little people”, the “dark elves” of legend. But they still call themselves Picts. Cororuc, the Briton of the story, finds that unlikely. In REH’s words:

I have fought Picts in Caledonia,” the Briton protested; “they are short but massive and misshapen; not at all like you!

They are not true Picts,” came the stern retort. “Look about you, Briton,” with a wave of an arm, “you see the remnants of a vanishing race; a race that once ruled Britain from sea to sea.

The speaker, the priest of the little people, says the difference exists because the northern Picts bred with “ … the red-haired giants we drove out so long ago, and became a race of monstrous dwarfs … ” He also declares that his people, originally and long ago, had come “ … from the south. Over the islands, over the Inland Sea.”

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

Yesterday, a group of Glenn’s family and friends gathered at the Monument Inn in La Porte, Texas. The restaurant faces the Houston Ship Channel and is adjacent to the historic San Jacinto Battlefield where Sam Houston and his men defeated Santa Anna and won independence for Texas.

Of course, Glenn and his bride Lou Ann were there, as were his two children and a number of his grandchildren. Besides me, Barbara Barrett, Rusty Burke, Paul Herman, Dennis McHaney, Todd Woods and Dave Hardy, along with his wife and daughter, made up the Howard fandom contingent. Altogether 18 people were in attendance and enjoyed a fine meal, topped off with birthday cake and an ear-splitting rendition of the Happy Birthday Song. Needless to say, everyone had a fine time honoring the World’s Number One Howard Fan on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Also, Paul Herman announced the next book coming from the REH Foundation Press will be a collection of all of Howard’s Science Fiction stories with a color cover by Mark Schultz and an introduction by former REHupan and author Mike Stackpole.

This entry filed under Glenn Lord, Howard Fandom, News, Rusty Burke.