Farmers Markets and Horse Rustler “Peg Leg” Smith

                         Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  According to information published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Tutankhamen was the reigning king of all Egypt 3,200 years ago, give or take a hundred years I would imagine. The Mediterranean Sea and the mouth of the Nile River lie along the northern border of Egypt. Alexandria, Canopus and a half dozen other communities make up what is known as Upper Egypt. At the other end of the Nile, after its passage through the Nubian Desert, are the communities of Abu Simbel and Soleb. In between is the Valley of the Kings. This is the place where Howard Carter, an adventurer and archaeologist, had exhausted his personal funds and money from investors searching for the tombs of the ancient pharaohs. Then on February 17, 1923, Carter and one of his backers, the Earl of Carnarvon, opened the door to a burial chamber that made them famous.

They had discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen dating from 1134-1325 B.C. which was one of the most celebrated periods in Egyptian history. As was the custom, the young king had been buried with artwork, artifacts, jewelry and everyday objects, all of which painted a portrait both of the king’s stature and of the culture he came from. There was something else in the tomb that few know about and that I discovered.

The Nile River that was the lifeblood of the country was also the site of the very first farmers market. Yes, it is well documented from the Egyptians’ own hieroglyphics that these markets existed and now farmers markets can be found all around the world. According to a website devoted to these markets, the first farmers market in America started in the early settlement of Jamestown. Today the largest farmers market is in Tokyo with over 1,700 booths. With around forty vendors, the Bartlesville Farmers Market which is now open on Saturdays, is just a bit behind those numbers but does not lack for quality produce or friendliness. Yes, I went through three thousand years of history to encourage everyone to support your local farmers market. It’s a resource we surely don’t want to lose.

Moving from the Egyptians to the early settlers of the west, from 1830 to 1855 thousands of stolen horses were taken from California to Santa Fe, New Mexico where horses were selling at a premium. According to the history of the area, some of these thieves were Ute Indians including Chief Walkara. Along with a group of mountain men, the Utes raided many California missions. The leader of these early outlaws was Thomas L. “Peg Leg” Smith who was also considered to be the brains behind the operation. Peg Leg hadn’t always been a horse thief but after years of working as a trapper, he lost part of his leg in a gun fight. Apparently the injury changed him and he turned to the dark side. Always a tough and crafty man, many pursuing law men were left dead in ambushes along the trail that Peg Leg planned. Law abiding family men were afraid to help track the notorious bunch knowing the fate of those who had tried before them. The route from California to Santa Fe passes through deserts and mountain passes and it took several weeks to make the trip. Some of Peg Leg’s men and some of the horses weren’t tough enough to make it and they died along the way.

Ute Indian Chief Walkara continued the raids into California until his death in 1855. Peg Leg Smith, who has mostly been forgotten, was said to have gone straight after making a fortune. Travelers claim that his ghostly form can still be seen pushing horses through the mountains. Traces of these old outlaw trails are often found in remote locations northwest of Santa Fe along with occasional horse bones and fragments left by the gang. This is the area I’ll be taking you to on our next travels. If you can’t make the trip with me, stay tuned.

Till next week, I’ll see ya down the road…..









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *