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'Dirty Dave' Rudabaugh, Billy the Kid's Most Feared Companion - Book

“Dirty Dave” Rudabaugh, Billy the Kid’s Most Feared Companion

Dirty Dave” Rudabaugh, Billy the Kid’s Most Feared Companion

By David G. Thomas

This book is about David Rudabaugh, a man whose life is both obscure and wildly mythologized.

Rudabaugh’s obscurity begins with the spelling of his surname. In the only U.S. census in which he appears, his name is spelled Radenbaugh. His father, in his Civil War service record, spelled his name Rodenbaugh. Rodebaugh is the spelling David uses in his first public document, his confession to an attempted train robbery. Yet, throughout his life, he answered to Rudabaugh, and was usually referred to as such in newspaper accounts and legal documents. That is also how most historians have chosen to spell his name.

“Dirty Dave,” a sobriquet whose original source is unknown, was never applied to Rudabaugh by contemporaries. Its use is relatively recent. The primary source that may have suggested the label is probably this statement in the December 27, 1880, Las Vegas Daily Optic:

“[Rudabaugh was] dressed about the same as when in Las Vegas [nine months earlier], apparently not having made any raids upon clothing stores.”

One of the oft-repeated myths about Rudabaugh is that in the early 1870s he was the leader of a gang of cattle rustlers in Texas (or in Arkansas in some accounts) –- and he even killed a man! In fact, as of March 1, 1875, Rudabaugh was living at home on a farm with his 46-year old, single mother and three younger siblings, two brothers and a sister.

The stories continue: that on leaving Texas, he became the boon companion of such famous Dodge-City personalities as Wyatt and Morgan Earp and John Henry “Doc” Holliday. Supposedly, he taught Doc Holliday how to fight with a gun (or a knife in some accounts). There is no evidence for any of that, and it is not true.

Another myth about Rudabaugh is that he was a “nasty, treacherous bully” who “stole and killed and brutalized people… Dirty Dave would try anything, as long as it was crooked.” Not true. Another fictitious accusation is that Rudabaugh shot a jailer in cold blood. The true account of jailer Antonio Lino Valdez’s fatal shooting is presented for the first time in this book, based on the never-before-published trial transcript. The unquestionable trial evidence shows that it was another man who shot the ill-fated jailer, not Rudabaugh.

Following the jailer’s killing, Rudabaugh fled. Now a wanted man, Rudabaugh teamed up with Billy the Kid and participated prominently in Billy’s final gun battles with authorities. (Rudabaugh and Billy had never met previously.) Famously, Rudabaugh was captured along with Billy at Stinking Springs by Deputy Sheriff Pat Garrett and his posse.

After his capture, Rudabaugh was tried for Valdez’s killing and sentenced to death by hanging. He escaped jail and went to Mexico.

On February 18, 1886, Rudabaugh was killed by a Winchester rifle shot to the chest in Parral, Mexico, by a grocery man named José. Following his killing, Rudabaugh was decapitated by José. His head was placed on a pole and paraded around the Parral plaza. Present at Rudabaugh’s beheading was Albert W. Lohn, a nineteen-year-old photographer.

Lohn took four photographs of Rudabaugh’s decapitated head. The two negatives he printed were confiscated by Mexican authorities. The other two negatives remained in Lohn’s files for 57 years, entirely forgotten by him. The story of how these two negatives were acquired by an avid collector of Western memorabilia is given in this book.

Rudabaugh’s life story is mesmerizing. It is as adventurous as that of any Wild West figure. The events of his life include being both a wanted man and a lawman, a failed train robbery, two successful stage hold-ups, being sentenced to death by hanging, an ingenious jail escape, and an eight month association with Billy the Kid — an association that made him almost as famous in Wild West outlaw history as Billy.

194 pages, 45 images, many never published before.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-952580-20-8
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-952580-21-5

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Water in a Thirsty Land

Water in a Thirsty Land – Ruth R Ealy – David G Thomas

Water in a Thirsty Land

by Ruth R. Ealy
David G. Thomas, Editor

“Water in a Thirsty Land” is a chronicle of Dr. Taylor Filmore Ealy’s 1874 to 1881 sojourn as a medical missionary in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and New Mexico Territory, compiled by his daughter Ruth R. Ealy, and privately issued in a limited edition of 40 copies.

The sources of Ruth’s account are her father’s extensive, contemporaneous diaries and his recollections and correspondence.

Dr. Ealy’s first assignment was Fort Arbuckle, Chickasaw Reservation, Oklahoma Territory. His second was Lincoln, New Mexico Territory. His final assignment was Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico Territory.

Dr. Ealy’s faithful accounts of his struggles and challenges at these — at the time — exotic locations make for fascinating reading. His daily records of eye-witnessed events in Lincoln are of exceptional historical value. He arrived in Lincoln on February 19, 1878, the day after John Henry Tunstall was murdered. The unprovoked, sadistic murder of Tunstall kicked off the bloody Lincoln County War. Dr. Ealy was present at Tunstall’s funeral, the killing of Lincoln County Sheriff Brady and Deputy Hindman, and the five-day shootout that ended with the firing of Alexander McSween’s home and the heinous slaughtering of McSween and four others as they frantically fled the blazing conflagration.

There are many details about the Lincoln County War in Dr. Ealy’s account not recorded in other sources. Here are examples:

  • Tunstall’s funeral was held at 3 pm. His bullet-holed, bloody clothes were lying on the dirty ground in McSween’s back yard during the service.
  • The Lincoln county jail when Sheriff Brady was shot was “a hole in the ground with a watch-tower over it.”
  • Sheriff Brady had handcuffs in his pocket when he was shot.
  • The book provides many details about Tunstall’s store: “The floors were good ones and the windows were large.” One room was “12 feet high, 18 feet long, and 18 feet wide, with a huge window and a door with a large glass in it.” That room was “large enough to hold three hundred people.” The store lot was five acres in size and fully fenced.
  • When the McSween house was fired during that 5-day shootout, one of Elizabeth Shield’s children stepped in the coal oil used to ignite the fire.
  • Among the items in McSween’s house destroyed by the fire were an elegant piano, a Brussels carpet, costly furniture, rich curtains, and fine paintings.
  • After Taylor testified at the Dudley Court of Inquiry, he was warned by anonymous note that he would be killed before he got back to his home in Zuni (a “coffin note”).

From Lincoln, Dr. Ealy went to Zuni Pueblo. There, he entered a long-isolated, deeply ethnocentric world that had not changed for hundreds of years. His keen observations are one of the primary, early sources of halcyon life in Zuni in 1878.

Dr. Ealy was in Zuni when the first James Stevenson anthropological expedition arrived in New Mexico. He knew well pioneer ethnologists such as Frank Hamilton Cushing, Matilda Coxe Stevenson, and Alfred Kroeber. He was present when John Karl Hillers took his famous photographs of Zuni Pueblo.

The Editor has added an extensive introduction, contextual notes, footnotes, appendices, and an index to the text of this extremely rare book.

Supplementing the text are 45 photos, including many photos never published before. 208 pages.

Available in both paperback and hardcover.

Paperback, ISBN 978-1952580109
Hardcover, ISBN 978-1952580116

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The Frank W. Angel Report on the Death of John H. Tunstall - Book

The Frank W. Angel Report on the Death of John H. Tunstall

The Frank W. Angel Report on the Death of John H. Tunstall

By David G. Thomas

“In the matter of the cause and circumstances of the death of John H. Tunstall….”

So begins the single most important contemporary document recounting the origins of the Lincoln County War. That document is the “Report of Special Agent Frank Warner Angel on the Death of John Henry Tunstall,” known today to historians as the “Angel Report.”

The 395-page, hand-written Report that Angel submitted on October 3, 1878, on Tunstall’s unprovoked, sadistic murder is published for the first time after 144 years in this book.

The Report documents the events leading to Tunstall’s murder – the testimony of the men present at the brutal killing – including Billy the Kid’s eye-witness account – and the violent consequences that followed.

It includes sworn accounts by Robert W. Beckwith, Henry N. Brown, James J. Dolan, Pantaleón Gallegos, Godfrey Gauss, Florencio Gonzales, John Hurley, Jacob B. Mathews, Alexander A. McSween, John Middleton, Lawrence G. Murphy, John Wallace Olinger, Juan B. Patron, Robert A. Widenmann, and 21 others.

Supplementing the Report are an extensive introduction, notes, contemporary documents, associated letters, biographical details, and a timeline.

The book also reveals the brazen attempt by two powerful politicians – Thomas Catron and Stephen Elkins – to destroy the Report, depriving history of its priceless contribution.

Forty six images, many never published before. 254 pages.

Available in both paperback and hardcover.

Paperback 978-1-952580079
Hardcover 978-1-952580055

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The Trial of Billy the Kid

The Trial of Billy the Kid

The Trial of Billy the Kid

By David G. Thomas
This book is about Billy the Kid’s trial for murder, and the events leading to that trial. The result of Billy’s trial sealed his fate. And yet Billy’s trial is the least written about and, until this book, the least known event of Billy’s adult life.

Prior biographies have provided extensive – and fascinating – details on Billy’s life, but they supply only a few paragraphs on Billy’s trial. Just the bare facts: time, place, names, result.

Billy’s trial the most important event in Billy’s life. You may respond that his death is more important – it is in anyone’s life! That is true, in an existential sense, but the events that lead to one’s death at a particular place and time, the cause of one’s death, override the importance of one’s actual death. Those events are determinative. Without those events, one does not die then and there. If Billy had escaped death on July 14, 1881, and went on to live out more of his life, that escape and not his trial would probably be the most important event of Billy’s life.

The information presented here has been unknown until now. This book makes it possible to answer these previously unanswerable questions:

  • Where was Billy captured?
  • Where was Billy tried?
  • What were the governing Territorial laws?
  • What were the charges against Billy?
  • Was there a trial transcript and what happened to it?
  • What kind of defense did Billy present?
  • Did Billy testify in his own defense?
  • Did Billy have witnesses standing for him?
  • Who testified against him for the prosecution?
  • What was the jury like?
  • What action by the trial judge virtually guaranteed his conviction?
  • What legal grounds did he have to appeal his verdict?
  • Was the trial fair?

Supplementing the text are 132 photos, including many photos never published before. 296 pages.

Available in both paperback and hardcover.

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Killing Pat Garrett, The Wild West's Most Famous Lawman -- Murder or Self-Defense?

Killing Pat Garrett, The Wild West’s Most Famous Lawman — Murder or Self-Defense?

Killing Pat Garrett, the Wild West’s Most Famous Lawman – Murder or Self-Defense?

By David G. Thomas
Pat Garrett, the Wild West’s most famous lawman – the man who killed Billy the Kid — was himself killed on leap day, February 29, 1908, on a barren stretch of road between his Home Ranch and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Who killed him?
Was it murder?
Was it self-defense?

Here for the first time, drawing on new, previously undiscovered information, is the definitive answer.

Supplementing the text are 102 images, including six of Garrett and his family which have never been published before. It has 50 years since a new photo of Garrett was published, and no photos of his children have ever been published.

Garrett’s life has been extensively researched. Yet, the author was able to uncover an enormous amount of new information. He had access to over 80 letters that Garrett wrote to his wife. He discovered a multitude of new documents and details concerning Garrett’s killing, the events surrounding it, and the personal life of the man who was placed on trial for killing Garrett.

A few examples:

  • The true actions of “Deacon Jim” Miller, a professional killer, who was in Las Cruces the day Garrett was killed.
  • The place on the now abandoned old road to Las Cruces where Garrett was killed.
  • The autopsy report on Garrett’s death, lost for over 100 years.
  • Garrett’s original burial location and tombstone.
  • The sworn courtroom testimony of the only witness to Garrett’s killing.
  • The New Mexico Territorial Policeman who provided the decisive evidence in the trial of the man accused of murdering Garrett.
  • The location of Garrett’s Rock House and Home Ranches.
  • New family details: Garrett had a four-month-old daughter the day he killed Billy the Kid. She died tragically at 15. Another daughter was blinded by a well-intended eye treatment; a son was paralyzed by childhood polio; and Pat Garrett, Jr., named after his father, lost his right leg to amputation at age 12.

Garrett’s life was a remarkable adventure, with enormous highs. He met two United States presidents: President William McKinley Jr. and President Theodore Roosevelt. President Roosevelt he met five times, three times in the White House. He brought the law to hardened gunmen. He oversaw hangings. His national fame was so extensive that newspapers from the East to the West Coast only had to write “Pat Garrett” for readers to know to whom they were referring.

He also had devastating lows. He experienced heartbreaking family tragedy. He was blocked for re-appointment as El Paso Customs Collector by unjustified personal animus. He was pursued ruthlessly for a loan that he had co-signed as a favor for a friend. He had his ranches and livestock confiscated and sold on the Las Cruces public square. In spite of his reputation as a gunman, when faced with public humiliation, he responded with commendable dignity. Queried after losing the Custom Collector job, he replied:

“I simply take my medicine.”

This book is written so you experience his life as he did, as it happened, event by event.

258 pages, 102 images.

Available in both paperback and hardcover.

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Billy the Kid’s Grave – A History of the Wild West’s Most Famous Death Marker

Billy the Kid’s Grave – A History of the Wild West’s Most Famous Death Marker


Billy the Kid’s Grave – A History of the Wild West’s Most Famous Death Marker

By David G. Thomas
“Quien es?”

The answer to this incautious question – “Who is it?” – was a bullet to the heart.

That bullet – fired by Lincoln County Sheriff Patrick F. Garrett from a .40-44 caliber single action Colt pistol – ended the life of Billy the Kid, real name William Henry McCarty.

But death – ordinarily so final – only fueled the public’s fascination with Billy the Kid.

  • What events led to Billy’s killing?
  • Was it inevitable?
  • Was a woman involved? If so, who was she?
  • Why has Billy’s gravestone become the most famous – and most visited – Western death marker?
  • Is Billy really buried in his grave?
  • Is the grave in the right location?
  • Was the grave washed away by the Pecos River?
  • Is it true that Pat Garrett’s first wife is buried in the same cemetery?
  • Is Billy’s girlfriend buried there also?
  • The Fort Sumner cemetery where Billy’s grave is located was once plowed for cultivation. Why?
  • What town, seeking a profitable tourist attraction, tried to move Billy’s body, using a phony relative to justify the action?

These questions – and many others – are answered in this book.

The book is divided into three sections.

  • The first gives an account of the chain of events that led directly to Billy’s death, beginning with the singular event that started the sequence, Billy’s conviction for murder and his sentencing to hang. As much as possible, these events are related using the actual words of witnesses and contemporaries.
  • The second tells the story of Billy’s burial and the many surprising incidents associated with his grave over the years.
  • The third lists the 111 men and women known to be buried along with Billy in the Fort Sumner cemetery, with short biographies. Sixteen of these individuals had very direct connections with Billy.

Appendix A supplies Charles W. Dudrow’s correspondence regarding the locating and disinterring of the military burials at Fort Sumner. Appendix B reprints the only newspaper interview ever granted by Sheriff Patrick F. Garrett on the killing of Billy the Kid.

To supplement this history are 65 photos and illustrations. These include photos of the different memorials that have marked Billy’s grave over the years, including a photo of Billy’s previously-unknown second grave marker; pictures of the men – friends of Billy – who re-located the grave in 1931; pictures of Billy’s most likely girlfriend, Paulita Maxwell, and her parents; and a historic 1906 Fort Sumner cemetery map showing the location of Billy’s grave.

154 pages, 66 images.

Available in both paperback and hardcover.

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The Stolen Pinkerton Reports of the Colonel Albert J. Fountain Murder Investigation

The Stolen Pinkerton Reports of the Colonel Albert J. Fountain Murder Investigation

The Stolen Pinkerton Reports of the Colonel Albert J. Fountain Murder Investigation

By David G. Thomas
The abduction and apparent murder of Colonel Albert J. and Henry Fountain on February 1, 1896, shocked and outraged the citizens of New Mexico. It was not the killing of Colonel Fountain, a Union Civil War veteran and a prominent New Mexico attorney, which roused the physical disgust of the citizenry – after all, it was not unknown for distinguished men to be killed. It was the cold-blooded murder of his eight-year-old son which provoked the public outcry and revulsion.

The evidence indicated that although Colonel Albert J. Fountain was killed during the ambush, his son was taken alive, and only killed the next day.

The public was left without answers to the questions:

  • Who ambushed and killed Colonel Fountain?
  • Who was willing to kill his young son in cold-blood after holding him captive for 24 hours?

The case was never solved. Two men were eventually tried for and acquitted of the crime.

The case file for the crime contains almost no information. There are no trial transcripts or witness testimonies. The only reports that exist today of the investigation of the case are these Pinkerton Reports, which were commissioned by the Territorial Governor, and then stolen from his office four months after the murders. These Reports, now recovered, are published here.

These Reports are important historical documents, not only for what they reveal about the Fountain murders, but also as a fascinating window into the how the most famous professional detective agency in the United States in the 1890s – the Pinkerton Detective Agency – went about investigating a murder, at a time when scientific forensic evidence was virtually non-existent.

The two Pinkerton Operatives sent to investigate the crime were John Conklin Fraser and William C. Sayers, the Agency’s most competent detectives. Their investigative methods revolved around taking witness and suspect statements, and then working to verify what they were told, a process that remains at the heart of criminal investigation today. As of the date of this writing, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office has reclassified the murders as an Active Case.

The Pinkerton Reports — List of Images

194 pages, 28 images.

Available in both paperback and hardcover.

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Screen With A Voice by David G. Thomas

Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces New Mexico


Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces New Mexico

By David G. Thomas
The first projected moving pictures were shown in Las Cruces 110 years ago. Who exhibited those movies? What movies were shown? Since projected moving pictures were invented in 1896, why did it take ten years for the first movie exhibition to reach Las Cruces? Who opened the first theater in town? Where was it located? These questions began the history of moving pictures in Las Cruces, and they are answered in this book. But so are the events and stories that follow.

  • First movie shown in Las Cruces
  • First theater in Las Cruces
  • First talkie shown in Las Cruces
  • Invention of drive-in theater in Las Cruces
  • Opening of Rio Grande Theater
  • Impact of Great Depression on business
  • Raffle of six-week-old baby girl at Mission Theater
  • World premiere of first BILLY THE KID movie
  • Second world premiere of a BILLY THE KID movie
  • Arrival of Organ, Rocket, Fiesta, and Aggie Drive-Ins
  • Shooting of Clint Eastwood’s HANG ‘EM HIGH

There have been 21 movie theaters in Las Cruces – all but three or four are forgotten. They are unremembered no longer. And one, especially, the Airdome Theater which opened in 1914, deserves to be known by all movie historians – it was an automobile drive-in theater, the invention of the concept, two decades before movie history declares the drive-in was invented.

To supplement this history are 102 photos and illustrations. These include ephemeral documents such as the 4-page flyer for Las Cruces’ third movie exhibition, at the Rink Theater; historic photos of theaters; aerial photos of drive-ins; and never-before-published photos of the shooting of HANG ‘EM HIGH.

Cover: Depicts the 1930 world premiere of BILLY THE KID, starring John Mack Brown as Billy, at the Rio Grande Theater in Las Cruces.

Paperback, 194 pages, 102 images.
Ebook, all text and photos.

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Giovanni Maria de Agostini, Wonder of the Century

Giovanni Maria de Agostini, Wonder of the Century

Giovanni Maria de Agostini, Wonder of the Century — The Astonishing World Traveler Who Was A Hermit

By David G. Thomas
This book is about a remarkable man, Giovanni Maria de Agostini, born in Italy in 1801, who combined two seemingly contradictory aspirations: a fervent desire to devote his whole life to “perfect solitude” and an astonishing urge to travel incessantly.

Following extensive travel in Europe, Agostini takes vows revocable only by formal dispensation from the Pope. He immediately leaves forever his “beloved Italy” for South America. Twenty-one years he spends traversing that, at the time, greatly unexplored continent, visiting Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile — and so doing multiple times. During this spectacular solo Odyssey, he survives a trip down the Amazon River by canoe, crosses the Andes by foot several times, walks vast distances, and endures living alone in scalding deserts and subzero mountains. In spite of oppressive and infuriating obstacles, including death threats, unjust arrest, deportation, jail, and forced confinement in a mental asylum, Agostini persists undeterred in the solemn goal he set for himself when he left Europe.

Seeking change and another continent, Agostini leaves South America for Mexico, passing through Panama and Guatemala, and then Mexico for North America, passing through Cuba. In Cuba, he is hailed as an extraordinary adventurer, his photograph is taken, and he is proclaimed “The Wonder of Our Century.”

After arrival in New York, he walks to Canada, where he spends almost a year, then “goes west,” eventually reaching, in the midst of the American Civil War, the Territory of New Mexico, where he meets his merciless fate.

Agostini is remembered in many places — in South America as Monge João Maria, in North America as Ermitaño Don Juan Agostini; however his life story is encrusted with myth and false fact. As the veritable events of his life are unveiled, a man of fascinating originality, prodigious endurance, intelligence, self-discipline, and self-sufficiency, infused with an indomitable spirit of adventure, emerges.

Today in Argentina, as many as 15,000 people participate in a yearly festival initiated by Agostini at Cerro Monje, “Monk’s Hill.” In Brazil, at Cerro Campestre, “Campestre Hill,” and Santo Cerro do Botucaraí, “Holy Hill of Botucaraí,” over 10,000 people celebrate annual events founded by Agostini. In Lapa, Brazil, a national park protects the pilgrimage route to Gruta do Monge, “Monk’s Grotto.” At Araçoiaba Hill, near Sorocaba, Brazil, the Trilha da Pedra Santa, “Trail of the Holy Rock,” is climbed annually by thousands of people desiring to pay respect to the memory of the Monge do Ipanema, the “Monk of Ipanema.”

These are just a few examples of Agostini’s cultural legacy, 145 years after his death.

“David G. Thomas has finally pulled back the veil of obscurity that long shrouded one of the most enduring mysteries in New Mexico’s long history to reveal the true story of the Hermit, Giovanni Maria de Agostini. Tracking Agostini from Italy throughout South and North America to his final resting place in Mesilla, Thomas has once again proven himself a master history detective. Of particular interest is the information about the Hermit’s life in Brazil, which closely parallels his remarkable experience in New Mexico, and required extensive research in Portuguese sources. Thomas’s efforts make it possible to understand this deeply religious man.” — Rick Hendricks, New Mexico State Historian

Paperback, 208 pages, 20 maps, 65 images, including two rare photos of Agostini, one taken in Chile in 1857 and one taken in Havana in 1861.

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La Posta by David G. Thomas

La Posta – From the Founding of Mesilla, to Corn Exchange Hotel, to Billy the Kid Museum, to Famous Landmark

La Posta – From the Founding of Mesilla, to Corn Exchange Hotel, to Billy the Kid Museum, to Famous Landmark

By David G. Thomas
The story of a building, its people, and its place.

The building sits on a lot next to the plaza. The lot is a “terreno de solar,” a grant to a Mexican citizen by the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, on which to build a house. By the terms of the grant, the grantee is obliged to own a horse and a gun. Within a year or so the grantee – and his lot – are no longer in Mexico – they are both in the United States.

A merchant buys the home, and opens a store. He sells to a partner, who opens Samuel Bean & Co. The Civil War begins and the town is occupied by Confederates. The Confederates are driven out by the Union. Bean is denounced as a “Johnny Reb,” and a U. S. Marshal confiscates his store. It is sold for almost nothing on the town plaza. After a fast series of buyers make quick profits, Lola Bennett buys it and builds her dream home. She trades it to John Davis, who establishes the most famous hotel in New Mexico Territory, the Corn Exchange. Davis dies. His widow runs the Corn Exchange as long as she is able. She dies and the church inherits it. The church sells it to the town priest. The priest sells to George Griggs, the impresario of the Billy the Kid Museum. Griggs sells to “Katy” Griggs for $1, who opens the most famous eating place in southern New Mexico – La Posta.

The Corn Exchange hosts guest from as far away as London and Hong Kong, and cities like San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York, and Washington D. C.

Ulysses Simpson Grant, Jr., son of the president, stays at the Exchange. As does John S. Chisum, “Cattle King of the West,” just two days after being robbed of $100 and a gold watch in a Silver City stage holdup.

Virtually all of the significant people in Billy the Kid’s life stay at the Exchange: Sheriff Harvey H. Whitehill, who arrests Billy for his first crime; “Doc” Scurlock, Charles Bowdre, and Richard Brewer, Billy’s best friends; Attorneys Albert J. Fountain and John D. Bail, who defend Billy in his trial for murder; William Rynerson, the District Attorney who relentlessly pursues Billy; Simon Newcomb, the prosecuting DA in Billy’s trial; and Judge Warren Bristol, who sentences Billy to “be hanged by the neck until his body be dead.” Even Billy’s implacable enemies James Dolan and John Riley stay at the Exchange.

Did Billy stay at the Exchange? Someone signed his name. Was it he?

Paperback, 118 pages, 59 photos.
Ebook, all text and photos.

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When New Mexico Was Young – Harry H Bailey His Autobiography

When New Mexico Was Young: His Autobiography

By Harry. H. Bailey (Author), Homer E. Gruver (Editor)

This is the autobiography of Harry H. Bailey (1868-1954) Mr. Bailey was a pioneer New Mexican who took a major role in the development of the Mesilla Valley. He started the first nursery in the Valley and sold the first trees that were planted at New Mexico State College (now NMSU). In 1900, he built the “Natatorium,” the first public swimming pool in El Paso, Texas. Three years later, he built the Angelus Hotel. In 1906, part of the Angelus Hotel building became the Crawford Theatre. After leaving El Paso and returning to New Mexico, he helped develop Radium Springs as a health resort and built the hotel and baths there.

His autobiography contains many stories about the early-day Mesilla Valley settlers who were his companions. Among the individuals he knew were Sheriff Pat Garrett, Colonel Albert J. Fountain, Attorney Albert B. Fall, Oliver Milton Lee, Sheriff Mariano Barela, Demetrio Chavez, Humbolt Casad, and George Griggs. He was a close friend of Western author Eugene Manlove Rhodes. For few months, he lived in the courthouse building in Mesilla where Billy the Kid was tried and convicted to hang.



186 pages, 10 images.

Reprint of 1946 Edition.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1952580017

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Torpedo Squadron Four - A Cockpit View of World War II

Torpedo Squadron Four - A Cockpit View of World War II

Torpedo Squadron Four – A Cockpit View of World War II

By Gerald W. Thomas
This is the sole personal account emerging from World War II of a carrier-based Torpedo Bomber pilot. Thomas served on combat duty with Torpedo Squadron 4 (VT-4) for 25 months, beginning in February, 1943. During this period, he was assigned to three aircraft carriers: the USS RANGER, USS BUNKER HILL, and USS ESSEX. On the RANGER he served in the Atlantic Theater; on the BUNKER HILL and ESSEX, he served the Pacific Theater. Air Group 4, of which Torpedo 4 was one component, was the only air group that served in both theaters of the war.

While on the RANGER, he participated in OPERATION LEADER, the most significant attack on Northern Europe by a US carrier during the war. OPERATION LEADER was a strike against German shipping and shore installations along the fjords south of Bodo, Norway. This operation was a complete surprise to the German defensive forces and destroyed 23,000 tons of shipping, damaged 4 other ships, and killed about 200 German troops.

During LEADER, while attacking a freight barge carrying 40 tons of ammunition, Thomas’ plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The engine began burning and it appeared the plane was going down. Thomas ordered his crew of two to bail out and had just opened the cockpit and was climbing out when his turret gunner yelled, “Don’t jump, don’t jump.” The other crewman had accidentally opened his parachute in the belly of the plane. With bailing no longer possible, Thomas considered his options and decided their best chance was to fly the plane toward the carrier as far as it would go. Surprisingly, in spite of the considerable engine damage, the plane made it back to the RANGER, where Thomas crash-landed. That landing was his 13th official carrier landing.

In the Pacific, Thomas participated in the numerous actions against Japanese targets in the Philippines, including strikes on Ormoc Bay, Cavite, Manilla, Santa Cruz, San Fernando, Lingayen, Mindoro, Clark Field and Aparri.

Following these actions, Thomas’ squadron made strikes on Formosa, French Indo-China, Saigon, Pescadores, Hainan, Amami O Shima, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Japan. The attack on Japan was the first attack on Japan from an aircraft carrier since the “Doolittle Raid.”

While on the ESSEX, just after Thomas had returned from a strike on Santa Cruz, the ship was hit by a Kamikaze piloted by Yoshinori Yamaguchi, Yoshino Special Attack Corps. Yamaguchi was flying a Yokosuba D4Y3 dive bomber. The Kamikaze attack killed 16 crewman and wounded 44.

You can listen to a 2001 interview in which Thomas describes Yamaguchi’s Kamikaze hitting the Essex (2.28 minutes).

Thomas interview on YouTube — “Kamikaze Strikes USS Essex”.

On December 28, 1944, the Bombing Four (VB-4) component of Air Group 4 was replaced by two Marine squadrons, VMF-124 and VMF-213. Flying F4U Corsairs, these squadrons were the first carrier-based Marines of the war. Although they had trained for carrier operations, and were carrier qualified, the initial carrier deployment was costly, with two Marine pilots and three F4Us lost in the first two-day shakedown.

Returning from a strike on Hainan, off the Chinese coast, Thomas’ plane ran out of fuel. After a harrowing water landing, Thomas and squadron photographer Montague succeeded in inflating and launching one rubber boat and his crewman Gress another. After a long day in pre-Typhoon weather with 40 foot swells, the three were rescued by the USS SULLIVANS.

On March 1, 1945, Air Group 4 made its last strike of the war. The pilots and crew of all planes approached this strike on Okinawa with notable nervousness, no one wanting to lose their life or be taken POW on a last mission. Sadly, one Torpedo Bomber and one F6F Fighter where shot down by Ack Ack, costing three men their lives.

In recounting the events in this book, Thomas draws upon his daily journal, his letters home, and extensive interviews and research conducted over 40 years with fellow pilots and crewman. The book cites 20 interviews and 5 combat journals, and contains 209 photos documenting the ships, planes, men, and combat actions of Torpedo Squadron 4. Many of the photographs were collected by Thomas during the war and include gun photo shots, recon photos, and, remarkably, a picture of the tail of Thomas’ Torpedo plane as it sinks in the China Sea following his water landing.

Thomas was awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Air Medals, and 2 Presidential Citations for his combat actions in WWII. He retired from the Navy Reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Paperback, 280 pages, 209 pictures.

Ebook, all text and photos.

YouTube Video of Thomas discussing Operation Leader: Operation Leader — World War II Battles
Sample chapter — Chapter 1: Operation Leader: Initiation Over Norway — Free online version
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Torpedo Squadron Four - Photo Supplement

Torpedo Squadron Four - Photo Supplement

Torpedo Squadron Four – Photo Supplement

By Gerald W. Thomas
In preparing my memoir, Torpedo Squadron Four: A Cockpit View of World War II, I had a difficult time selecting the photos for the book because I had many choices. The 209 photos I eventually included were just 30% of the photos I had collected over 40 years relating to Air Group 4, Torpedo 4, the

In the year since the first book was published, I have received many letters and emails mentioning the photos. Many have expressed appreciation for the photos and several have asked about additional photos. Because of these requests I have decided to create a second volume with 120 supplemental photos.

This volume does not duplicate the history, recollections, and combat accounts of Torpedo Squadron Four: A Cockpit View of World War II. The intention is to supplement that book. If you enjoy photos, I think you will like what is presented here. The Navy photographers who took these photos did a superb job of documenting the Navy experience of World War II. They were polished professionals which their work well reflects. The photos are all black and white. Very few color photos were taken by Navy photographers during the war.

The 120 photos are arranged by subject matter. Topics include the USS RANGER, USS BUNKERHILL, USS ESSEX, Operation Torch, SBD Dauntless dive-bomber, SB2C Helldiver dive-bomber, TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, F6F Hellcat fighter, F4U Corsair fighter, Ulithi, Mog Mog, Saigon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and more.

120 pictures

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A Winding Road -- Gerald W. Thomas

A Winding Road -- Gerald W. Thomas

A Winding Road To The Land Of Enchantment

By Gerald W Thomas
In this book, Thomas recounts growing up on a ranch in Idaho during the Great Depression, playing baseball with Jackie and Mack Robinson, joining the Navy after Pearl Harbor, and serving as a TBM Torpedo Bomber pilot on aircraft carriers in the Atlantic and Pacific.

In an air attack on Bodo, Norway, his plane was heavily damaged by AA fire. In spite of an oil leak that covered the cockpit canopy and reduced visibility to almost zero, he was able to crash-land on the carrier, saving himself and his two crewmen.

In the Pacific, he participated in air attacks on Manilla, Mindoro, Luzon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Japan. He had just returned to the USS ESSEX after a strike on Luzon when the carrier was hit by a Kamikaze, killing 16.

Thomas was awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Air Medals, and 2 Presidential Citations for his combat actions in WWII.

After the war, Thomas earned a PhD and after a distinguished academic career, became president of New Mexico State University.

Paperback, 270 pages, 205 pictures.

Sample Chapter – Lidy Hot Springs
Table of Contents
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