Cowboys , Outlaws and the Dime Novels

Cowboys and Outlaws

To say that literature describes the old west cowboy in different ways is a true understatement. Add television to the mix and the cowboy life is portrayed in an even wider range. Whether the cowboy was written of in the nineteenth or twentieth century makes little difference. There are many story lines attached to the cowboy…some very true and others total fabrication.Was it a romantic life, a hard and dirty job or perhaps something in between.

cattle drive structure

Cattle drive structure

In many ways the same holds true for the portrayal of outlaws. Literature has portrayed the old west outlaw from a romantic Robin Hood type character to a murderous psychopath.

There are questions to be asked. The questions are…who really was the American cowboy and what was the cowboy life really like? What was the difference between outlaws and cowboys? In some cases maybe no differences. In others, total differences. The biographies of these two type individuals often intersect. While there have been inaccurate portrayals written about both, the largest inaccuracies have probably been written about the cowboys. There was a great deal published about the subject during the latter part of the 1800’s and, in a way, literature often helped shape events. In fact, successful western literature in the latter 1800’s was similar to what sells today on bookshelves. The wild west was wild, but perhaps not as wild as often presented to sell books and movie tickets.

western ghost townsWhat Author’s of the Era Wrote

The Dime Novel depicted both outlaws and cowboys as a wild bunch. In Lewis Atherton’s book, The Cattle Kings, the author points out that Mark Twain himself described the cowboy as more gunman than ranch worker.

Roughing It

Twain worked for a time at the Virginia City Enterprise, Nevada Territory’s first newspaper.  Twain wrote glamorizing accounts of the western cowboy. Twains experience in Virginia City gave him the background to write a book, Roughing It, in 1872 which was the real start of his literary career. In his book, Mark Twain makes mention of bad men stalking the streets and moving easily from ranch to mining camp. Twain describes them as wearing long coats, cocked hats and revolvers. He goes on to further describe them as brave and reckless fellows who traveled with their life in their hands and who did their killing most within their own circles. They thought it shameful to die with their boots off.

All of this was Mark Twain’s account of the outlaw of the west. While this account stirs interest among readers, it also omits quite a bit of factual information. Nevertheless, this type of literature sold well. Twain was describing the outlaw, not the cowboy.. Although somewhat similar in appearance to the cowboy, the outlaw or bad man was an entirely different individual.

ranch bunhouse photo

Old JA Ranch Bunkhouse

The Big Bonanza

There was a book written by the senior editor of the Virginia City Enterprise, Dan De Quille. The book was encouraged by Mark Twain who urged De Quille to write a factual account of life in the Virginia City mining town. De Quille did publish his book in 1876 titled, The Big Bonanza. De Quille basically agreed with Twain’s account with the exception that he didn’t glamorize the violence. Instead, he denounced it and the men who caused it. It’s not surprising to note that Dan De Quille’s more realistic account didn’t sell as well as did Twain’s book.

According to the book, Cattle Kings, another book, Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, this one written by a Joseph G. McCoy who is credited with bringing ranchers and cattle buyers together in Abilene Kansas, described the cowboy and his dress in colorful terms.

McCoy wrote that..mounted and drunken, they charged wildly through the streets, shooting up the town as they went, or rode directly through the swinging doors of saloons to demand drinks at pistol point. Literature published by both Mark Twain and Joseph McCoy, attached a code of reckless action by the cowboy in the 1870’s that gave or proposed a style of behavior for new cowboys to emulate. This was a mixing of the cowboy and outlaw culture and I think gives the wrong impression of the cowboy. It has been written however that serious individuals who entered the ranching world in the late 1870’s and 1880’s actually found this much publicized code of conduct either humorous or irritating. Although colorful, it wasn’t necessarily accurate.

xit ranch cowboys

XIT Ranch cowboys

What the Ranchers Had to Say About Cowboys

If you really want to find an accurate account of the cowboys of the old west, there is probably no better source than ranchers of the era. First of all, ranchers were not selling books. They were in the business of raising and selling cattle and anything that would disturb that process was unwelcome. Ranchers employed cowboys and at the same time laid down the rules. In fact, ranchers operated in areas far removed from the courts and oftentimes lawmen. The ranchers were in the position to make the laws and enforce them. Some ranchers were small operators and others large corporate concerns. One of the largest, the XIT in the Texas Panhandle, employed about 150 cowboys during it’s peak years.

Was the Cowboy Armed or Unarmed?

Contrary to many of the Hollywood westerns, many ranchers didn’t carry firearms and had rules against their ranch hands carrying guns. Carrying a six shooter was the exception rather than the rule. One of the reasons mentioned for this was the idea that an armed man sent an unspoken message. An armed man would be much more likely to be involved in some sort of violence than an unarmed one. The sometimes controversial “code of the west” prohibited the shooting of an unarmed individual. Most ranch owners simply felt that a sixshooter could only lead to trouble and especially so when mixed with alcohol. This was something detrimental to running a cattle business and was highly discouraged.

The famed Texas rancher, Charles Goodnight, presents a good example of ranching law and order. In the book, Cattle Kings, Goodnight was said to have ordered his cowboys to keep their differences under control while working his long cattle drives. He stipulated that his outfit would hold an immediate trial and hanging of anyone found guilty of committing murder. This reportedly worked effectively for Goodnight. As far as he was concerned, the cowboy could go settle his differences, but not while working on one of his drives. While working on the ranch itself, Goodnight forbade drinking, gambling and swearing.

The above mentioned book also describes how a ranch manager by the name of John Clay handled differences among his employees. Clay was known to settle differences by persuasion. This usually worked. Clay was said to have carried a firearm only once when unruly cowhands ran off one of his supervisors. Again, firearms on the ranch was an exception.

Teddy Roosevelt, when spending time ranching in the Dakota Territory, wrote of his experience and concluded that people had little to fear about murder in the west as long as they minded their business and stayed out of barrooms. Barrooms of the old west being the natural habitat of outlaw and alcohol. Regarding cowboys, Roosevelt pointed out their rough language but contended that it was little different than when any group of all males got together. There was no mention made of shooting up the town.

The Real Bad Men of the West

While the cowboy certainly was spirited, he was also a very hard worker. Many old west cowboys of the late 1800’s were mere teens. Working cattle drives was difficult work and required good physical conditioning. To understand the physical conditioning required to carry out the cowboy’s job, just visit one of the many rodeos held throughout the country and you can see for yourself what was involved.

When cattle drives ended at rail heads such as Abilene, Kansas and later Dodge City ,Kansas, there was a lot of steam to be let off and the cowboys had their pay. You could say it was a time of planned rowdiness. This type of activity was in stark contrast to the western outlaw who would be more apt to target the cowboy.

Again, the ranching industry was involved with the criminal element as well. The western outlaw or gunslinger really came to the forefront after the American Civil War. This was the era of the James Gang, the Daltons, Sam Bass, Butch Cassidy and others. In the case of the James Gang, much of their violence was attributed to lingering hatred from Civil War days, although that is an arguable point. What is significant is that none of the stories about the above mentioned outlaws had a good ending.

sam bass round rock texas

Outlaw Sam Bass who was shot and killed in Round Rock, TX

The Rustler Outlaw

The biggest bane to the cattle rancher was the rustler. Cattle associations were established to, among other things, deal with rustlers and old west outlaws.

Cattle associations went as far as employing range detectives who many times themselves had prior brushes with the law. Cattle associations themselves were responsible for violence when it came to the rustler, or alleged rustler, such as in the case of the Johnson County War in Wyoming. Rustlers were dealt with severely and quickly and in some cases the ranchers may have hung the wrong person in the rush for justice.

Vigilance Committees

The more you read about the subject of lawlessness in frontier or cattle towns, the more you realize that it was a short lived event. Many old western towns had vigilance committees that dealt with the criminal element their own way. The criminal element the committees were targeting were not drunken cowboys having a good time after trail drives. From vigilance committees came formal law enforcement and often times the two operated simultaneously. It was true that the great majority of murders committed in the old west were between members of the lower element. One reason was that if a rancher or land owner, someone of rank within the community were killed by a gunman, certain retribution was sure to come.

great train robberyWhen one gunman killed another gunman, many in the community were actually glad there was one less outlaw. Stagecoach and train robberies of course did effect law abiding citizens and it took little effort to organize a posse to go in pursuit. In addition to this, if you happened to rob a bank or a train you could be assured to have the Pinkertons on your trail brought in by banking associations.

Outlaws, gunmen, rustlers and others were simply detrimental to business and settlement. The American west was all about business and settlement. It is for this reason that the criminal element was dealt with firmly and swiftly, whether it be by a sheriff, a vigilance committee or the Pinkertons. Sometimes all three working together. To be sure, lawlessness in the frontier town ended more sooner than later.

The dime novels often paint the life of the cowboy and the outlaw with the same broad brush. This is especially true about the carrying and use of firearms. While this portrayal might spice up the mundane, hard working life of the cowboy, there was no similarity between cowboy, outlaw or gunslinger.

The cowboy could be rowdy as Teddy Roosevelt pointed out, but he would be more inclined to be pulling practical jokes and bragging rather than to break the law. Were there bad cowboys? Certainly. Ranchers were quite aware of this. Did some cowboys become outlaws later? Yes. An interesting fact taken from Dodge City Kansas records of 1872 says a lot about the cowboy. It was 1872 that the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad reached Dodge City making it an important cattle drive rail head. During that year there were a total of twenty-five murders that occurred during fights. Out of the total of twenty-five only one involved a cowboy.

See additional Trips Into History and Western Trips Articles on the Links Below…

The Saints Roost Western Museum in Clarendon, TX

See the Famous Goodnight Ranch House in Goodnight, Texas

Visit Historic Round Rock, Texas

Museums and Venues to Add to Your Next Trip Itinerary

The National Ranching Heritage Center – Lubbock, TX

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum – Oklahoma City, OK

The XIT Museum – Dalhart, TX

King Ranch Museum – Kingsville, TX

Saints Roost Museum – Clarendon, TX

Black American West Museum – Denver, CO

The Rex Allen Museum – Willcox, AZ

Desert Caballeros Western Museum – Wickenburg, AZ

The Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame – Hobbs, NM

(Article copyright Trips Into History)

 

Texas World War II Aircraft Exhibits / San Marcos Regional Airport

There are plenty of fine venues for viewing vintage and historical airplanes in Texas. One special venue is located in San Marcos, Texas and called the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum. Located at the San Marcos Regional Airport and operated by the Central Texas Wing, this museum displays a very interesting collection of aircraft including a B-25 Mitchell bomber, replicas of a Japanese Zero and a Japanese Torpedo Bomber, a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane and several others Also many smaller artifacts from the war years.

texas world war two aircraftThe Museum Hangar

The Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum is located inside a hangar built during the days of World War Two. During the war, the San Marcos Army Airfield was a navigator training school. There were an estimated 10,000 navigators trained at this airfield.

When the war ended, the San Marcos Army Airfield was deactivated. Military helicopter training brought the airfield back to life from 1948 to 1949. It was the largest helicopter flight training base in the U.S. After this second deactivation, the San Marcos airfield became San Marcos Air Force Base in 1951. The field was given the new name of Gary Air Force Base, named for the first soldier from Hays County Texas killed in World War Two, in 1953, later named Edward Gary Air Force Base and was deactivated for the last time in 1956.

mitchell b-25 bomber yellow rose

Mitchell B-25 Bomber “Yellow Rose”

The hangar where the Commemorative Air Force Museum resides at today’s San Marcos Regional Airport is the last remaining hangar there from the days of World War Two. The wooden hangar was one of three built in 1942 shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Museum’s B-25 Mitchell Bomber

The B-25 Mitchell Bomber “Yellow Rose”, built in 1943 by North American Aviation, is one of the key exhibits at the museum. The bomber is completely restored to its wartime capabilities and is operated by the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The restoration effort took four years to complete. It is one of the flying museum pieces belonging to the organization’s “Ghost Squadron” aircraft collection.

The “Yellow Rose” goes on tour each year to an average of twenty-five cities and towns. This B-25 let’s people get a real close up look at this historic sixty plus year aircraft. You may even have a chance to crawl through this flying museum.

Japanese Zero Replica

Two other aircraft exhibited at the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum are Japanese World War Two aircraft. One of the planes is a Japanese Zero and the other a Japanese Torpedo Bomber “Kate”. The Japanese Zero and Torpedo Bomber, both replicas, were built for the movie Tora, Tora, Tora.

You may also enjoy the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

American Military Aircraft

The Famous Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

Visit the Old Santa Fe Railroad Depot / Brownwood Texas

japanese zero replica

Japanese Zero replica

Visiting the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum

Museum hours of operation are Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Saturday 9:00-4:00 There is no admission charge but a recommended $3 donation is appreciated to keep them flying. The Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum operates as a non-profit.

The museum is located at the San Marcos Regional Airport in San Marcos, Texas. San Marcos is located about 30 miles south of Austin along Interstate-35. For more information regarding the Commemorative Air Force Hangar Museum, aircraft, activities and shows planned around Texas by the Central Texas Wing see website…http://cafcentex.com/

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History)

 

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Centex Wing Museum highlights military aviation memorabilia, especially World War II. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf
P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane
P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane

P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane
B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf
B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-39 Airacobra pursuit plane. – See more at: http://txhillcountrytrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/central-texas-wing-commemorative-air-force#sthash.fuT1odl4.dpuf

The Story of the Famous Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

The airplane model featured in this article has won more aerobatic contests than any other aircraft in the U.S. Today the plane still remains a powerful competitor. The Pitts Special S1 is one of the most famous airplanes in civilian aircraft history. It has performed at more air shows than any other type of aerobatic aircraft.

pitts special plane

Pitts Special Aerobatic Plane

The Pitts Special aerobatic planes were designed by Curtiss Pitts and took to the air in 1944. Pitts built a limited number of planes and two models were built from the original model. These were a one-seater called the S-1 and a two-seater called the S-2.

A Rough Beginning Followed by Recognition

When Curtiss Pitts set put to build an airplane, the intention was to build only one for himself.The trouble is, when a airplane you build performs so good, word spreads. The face of aerobatic flying was changed forever when Pitts built his first plane. That plane today is one of the most recognized American built aerobatic airplane.

The first plane built by Pitts which had a home built inverted fuel system was destroyed in a crash. In 1946, Curtiss Pitts received an order for ten of his planes but before they could be delivered the purchaser filed for bankruptcy. At that time only one plane was completed and it was eventually sold to a Miami, Florida firm called World Air Shows.

pitts special s 1

Pitts Special S-1

As it turned out, this sale of only one Pitts Special to World Air Shows would help achieve world wide recognition for this remarkable aircraft. The plane that World Air Shows purchased would be flown by a young aerobatic pilot named Betty Skelton.

Betty Skelton who was later called “The fastest woman on earth“, flew the Pitts Special to several competitive wins. Skelton won the National Aerobatics Championship three times. She was the first woman to attempt the “inverted ribbon cut,” in which she would fly upside down only ten feet off the ground, slicing a ribbon with her propeller of her Pitts Special. Betty Skelton twice set light-plane altitude records, attaining an atitude of 29,050 feet in a Piper Cub in 1951. Even though the planes engine exploded during flight Skelton achieved an unofficial women’s air speed record of 421 mph in a P-51 Mustang.

Later, Betty Skelton worked in advertising and test driving Corvettes. Skelton held the honor of being the first woman to drive a Pace Car at the Daytona 500.

See these additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Heathkit Home Built Airplanes

Some of the Best Western U.S. Air Museums

The USS Midway / San Diego’s Premiere Attraction

From our Western Trips site see...Wiley Post and His Record Setting Lockheed Vega Airplane

An excellent book to add to your reading list is …Pitts Specials: Curtiss Pitts and his Legendary Biplanes by author Budd Davisson. There are also several books for youngsters regarding Betty Skelton which you may find interesting. One of these is titled, Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by author Meghan McCarthy.

The Pitts Special Specifications

The Pitts Special had a Lycoming 180 HP engine.

Maximum speed was rated at 176 MPH with a range of 315 miles.

Upper wingspan measured 17 ft 4 in. Length 15 ft 5 in and height 6 ft 3 in.

Gross weight was 1,148 lbs. Service ceiling was 22,300 ft.

The Pitts Special Legend

Homebuilt planes were built from the original plans sold by Pitts who later sold more refined technical plans starting in the 1960’s. Curtis Pitts left perhaps the biggest mark on aerobatics and air shows with his innovative airplane designs.

The International Council of Air Shows Foundation says this about the Pitts planes…From the first prototype to the hundreds of Pitts Specials that have performed at air shows over the last half century to the design ideas taken from the Pitts Special and integrated into today’s high-performance monoplanes, much of what air show flying is all about today can be traced back to the Pitts Special”. All Pitts one and two seat planes designed can be traced directly back to the Pitts Special of 1944.

It’s been said that Curtiss Pitts didn’t invent aerobatics or small planes. He also didn’t invent bi-planes. What Curtiss Pitts achieved was to mold all of these together into what today is the art of modern aerobatics.

curtiss pitts aerobatic plane

Curtiss Pitts, an aviation pioneer, died at his home in Homestead, Florida in June 2005.

As of this writing, a sample list of several museums around the U.S. where Pitts Specials are on display include…The National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C….The San Diego Automobile Museum in San Diego, CA…The Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, CA and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. There are more displays plus you’ll likely see a Pitt Special or two when attending your local air show.

betty skelton

Betty Skelton Frankman

Please note that there is also a Betty Skelton collection at the National Air and Space Museum.

Betty Skelton began flying airplanes at the age of twelve years and as mentioned above won many titles in the Pitts Special. After Skelton’s retirement from aviation, she joined Chevrolet with their development of the popular and unique fiberglass Corvette. Betty Skelton also set several records behind the wheel of the Chevy Corvette.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Trips Into History. Betty Skelton Frankman photo in the Public Domain)

Glore Psychiatric Museum / A Fascinating Trip Stop

The award-winning Glore Psychiatric Museum chronicles the 130-year history of the state hospital and centuries of mental health treatment.The museum is located on the adjoining grounds of the original state hospital in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Glore Psychiatric Museum certainly offers a unique trip back into history and is recognized as one of the 50 most unusual museums in the U.S. The museum’s address is 3406 Frederick Avenue, Saint Joseph, MO.

glore psychiatric museum

Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph Missouri

Establishing the Glore Psychiatric Museum

The Glore Psychiatric Museum was started in 1968 in an abandoned ward of the St. Joseph State Hospital by George Glore. Glore had been collecting historical psychiatric treatment devices as well as interesting items made by the actual patients of the hospital for over four decades.

o hallorans swing

O’Halloran’s Swing

The current collection includes interactive and audio-visual displays. Also, department store mannequins strapped into various psychiatric devices of the era. If this isn’t enough, there is an artistic display of 1,466 inedible items — safety pins, screws, nails, buttons bottle caps that were removed from the digestive tract of a former St. Joseph State Hospital patient.

There’s also the story about a patient who swallowed a Timex clock and when the item was passed it was still ticking. Permanent displays at the museum cover about 400 years of psychiatric history.

The hospital asylum had a working farm and farming equipment used in that period is on display. A work program was in place as a key therapy for patients. In addition to the working farm, a sewing room was in place, a car restoration project was begun, a rug weaving program produced rugs used throughout the hospital and several others programs were established.

Also you’ll view original hospital furnishings and various surgical equipment. Some of the permanent displays also include  the Bath of Surprise; O’Halloran’s Swing; the Tranquilizer Chair; and the Hollow Wheel. It’s been said that patients could spend up to six months in the tranquilizer chair.

tranquilizer chair

Tranquilizer Chair

George Glore

The museum is named for its founder George Glore, who spent most of his 41-year career with the Missouri Department of Mental Health. His work with mental health patients sparked his interest in the history and treatment of mental illness. His collection of  museum artifacts is one of the largest exhibitions devoted to the evolution of mental health care in the United States. The museum fills four floors.

The original Glore collection featured full size replica exhibits of 16th, 17th and 18th centurytreatmentdevices that very much resemble the torture devices used during the same period. George Glore created these exhibits for a mental health awareness week celebration. The exhibits were received well by the general public and Glore was urged by his superiors to expand the exhibit. After additional mental illness treatment items were added the museum came into being.

In 1997 the museum was relocated from the original Lunatic Asylum No.2 to it’s current location when the asylum campus was converted to a correctional facility. The museum is outside the prison fence in a group of brick buildings.

George Glore passed away in 2010. The museum is no longer affiliated with the State of Missouri but is part of the St. Joseph Museum. As of this writing the museum hours are M-Sat 10A-5P, Sun. 1-5P. The Glore Psychiatric Museum phone number is 816-364-1209.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Historic Missouri Travel Sites

The Quacks

M-Sa 10 am – 5 pm, Su 1-5 pm.
The museum sits right outside the prison fence, in a complex of brick buildings. – See more at: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2142#sthash.PMZTvz4h.dpuf

The Original State Lunatic Asylum No. 2

bath of surprise treatment

The Bath of Surprise

Is the museum worth a visit? We certainly think so.The Glore Psychiatric Museum highlights the ways patients were treated in the old days and presents a glimpse of psychiatric history.

This is in many ways similar to the story of turn of the century medical devices that claimed to heal a variety of illnesses and aches and pains. Many of these were electrical in nature. The harnessing of electricity in the late 1800’s opened the door for quacks to make what seems today outrageous claims for healing.

The original ‘State Lunatic Asylum No. 2, by approval of the Missouri State assembly, opened in November of 1874 with 25 patients on land located east of the City of St. Joseph. At first there was added 120 beds which eventually grew to 350. As mentioned above, the asylum eventually became a prison and the present day museum was relocated adjacent to it.

The name of the asylum was changed in 1903 to the State Hospital No. 2. In 1952 it was renamed the St. Joseph State Hospital.

Visiting the Glore Psychiatric Museum

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Glore Psychiatric Museum is a very unique venue. There’s four floors of exhibits that give the visitor a real good feel for the progression of psychiatric treatment prior to the introduction of the powerful medicines of today.

If your travels take you to St. Joseph Missouri, you may want to take the time to visit what is one of the most unique museums found anywhere in the country. St. Joseph is located about 57 miles north of Kansas City Missouri and about 135 miles southeast of Omaha Nebraska.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos and images in the public domain)

 

Studebaker Cars and the Studebaker National Museum

The Studebakers were wagon makers and blacksmiths when they arrived in America from Holland. They trained their sons in that same tradition.

Founded in 1852 as the H & C Studebaker blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana, the organization was incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company. Their business was as a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the military.

studebaker wagon

Authentic Studebaker wagon

The Studebaker brothers, Henry and Clement, began in business as horse drawn wagon makers and achieved a great deal of success. The Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company built horse drawn wagons at a time that the American population was on the move.

The 1850′s were a time of great western expansion and there were many of the Studebaker brother’s products that made the trek over the popular Overland Trail. In a large way the California Gold Rush and it’s demand for transportation launched to Studebaker brothers into the wagon building business. Studebaker wagons became known as some of the most reliable of their kind and were the chosen way to cross the continent from East to West.

Studebaker was a major contractor to the Union Army during the American Civil War. It’s also believed that the very first chuckwagon was designed and built by legendary Texas rancher Charles Goodnight. Goodnight reportedly used a surplus Studebaker wagon from the Civil War for his first chuckwagon.

1951 studebaker commander

1951 Studebaker Commander

After years of constant urging by a Studebaker family member who thought it was time to enter the horseless carriage business, Studebaker the carriage maker entered the new automobile business in 1902. An interesting side note is that Studebaker had the distinction of manufacturing electric powered cars during their first two years in business. At the time the Studebaker brothers felt that electric was the way to go. The company switched to gasoline power just a few years later in 1904. On February 14, 1911, the company was organized into the Studebaker Corporation.

An interesting note is that the Studebaker’s were building all types of wagons from simple farm wagons to elaborately built closed carriages.Some of these wagon models were named the Phaeton, the Victoria and the Brougham and these same style names were used by various automobile makers during the 1900’s.

studebaker commander

Another view of the Commander

The 1920’s Meant Major Changes for Studebaker

Studebaker ended their horse drawn carriage business in 1920. The 1920’s also saw the company moving it’s production from Detroit Michigan to South Bend Indiana. The 1920’s were a very good decade for the Studebaker Manufacturing Company. Studebakers were popular throughout the ’20s and the company usually ranked among the top 10 auto makers. The 1930’s were a different matter. As was the case with several other automakers, the Great Depression took it’s toll. Studebaker had to go into receivership in 1933. Company Vice Presidents Paul Hoffman and Harold Vance were appointed receivers and led Studebaker back to solvency just two years later in 1935.

Some of the icon Studebaker models included the 1939 Champion, the 1947 Starlight Coupe, the 1950 “Bullet Nose”, the 1953 Starliner Hardtop and the 1963 Avanti. Another important fact was that Studebaker was the first automaker to introduce new post war designs in 1947.

studebaker wagon 1800's

Iron suspension of the Studebaker Wagon

The Studebaker National Museum

Visiting the Studebaker National Museum offers you a very unique historical experience. Learn all about the company that began building wagons that were used by pioneers and successfully transitioned into an automaker whose brand continued into the 1960’s. If you are into antique cars this museum is definitely a must see. The museum grounds are beautiful and you’ll be able to explore three floors of history and cars

The Studebaker National Museum is home to four of the presidential carriages: The Grant, Harrison, Lincoln and McKinley carriages can be seen at the museum.

For children the museum features an interactive exhibit named the Studebaker Super Service Center. This exhibit allows children to pretend to work on automobiles and is  designed for children ages 3 to 10.

The Studebaker National Museum is located at 201 Chapin St, South Bend, IN.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Studebaker Frontier Wagons

Luxury Cars of the Great Depression

Also see articles on our AutoMuseumOnline site on the links below…

The 1951 Studebaker Commander

The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster

A very good book regarding the Studebaker brothers and their wagon and automobile business is Studebaker: The Complete History by author Patrick R. Foster.

1955 studebaker president

Stylish 1955 Studebaker President

Studebaker’s Last Days

Studebaker production in the U.S. ended in 1963. The company had been in financial trouble ever since the 1950’s and had merged with Packard in 1954.

The last cars produced by Studebaker were the 1964 model year GranTurismo.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)