Cowboy celebrity Charles Siringo is born - HISTORY
Year
1855

Cowboy celebrity Charles Siringo is born

Charles Siringo, one of the most famous contemporary chroniclers of the cowboy life, is born in Matagorda County, Texas.

When Siringo was only 30 years old, he published the first authentic autobiographical account of the cowboy life, A Texas Cowboy, or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Cow Pony. The book was an immediate success and played a pivotal role in creating the enduring American fascination with the Western cowboy.

Unlike some of the subsequent popular accounts of western ranching written by eastern greenhorns, Siringo based his memoir on his authentic experiences as a Texas cowboy. While still only a teen, Siringo had registered a brand and begun building his own ranch by the then still acceptable practice of claiming “mavericks,” unbranded cows wandering the open range. Siringo was never able to build much of a herd, but his years spent on trail drives and roundups provided perfect material for a genuine, if somewhat romantic, portrait of the short-lived golden era of the open range.

A few years before he wrote A Texas Cowboy, Siringo had abandoned the footloose cowboy life to become a husband and storekeeper in Caldwell, Kansas. Siringo, though, seemed incapable of staying out of the action for long. In 1886, he hired on as a detective for the infamous Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Working out of the Pinkerton’s Denver office, Siringo’s career as a detective for hire was every bit as dramatic as his earlier years on the open range. In 1892, he infiltrated the radical labor movement in the mining region near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where conflicts with management had become bitterly violent.

Around the turn of the century, Siringo spent four years pursuing the famous Wild Bunch at the behest of the railroad companies angered by the gangs’ repeated train robberies. Siringo traveled more than 25,000 miles around the West chasing after Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and other gang members. When Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fled to South America, the Pinkertons finally forced Siringo to abandon the case.

In 1907, Siringo left the Pinkertons and turned again to writing about his past adventures. In 1912, he published A Cowboy Detective, an account of his 20-year career as a detective. Three years later, Siringo attacked the often violent and illegal Pinkerton methods he had witnessed in Two Evil Isms: Pinkertonism and Anarchism. Legal threats from the Pinkertons forced him to eliminate such overt attacks from his subsequent books, and he instead returned to the Wild West themes that had won him his first success.

Siringo lived out his later years in California, and died in 1928 at the age of 73.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Great Baltimore Fire begins

In Baltimore, Maryland, a small fire in the business district is wind-whipped into an uncontrollable conflagration that engulfs a large portion of the city by evening. The fire is believed to have been started by a discarded cigarette in the basement of the Hurst Building. When ...read more

King Hussein of Jordan dies

On February 7, 1999, King Hussein bin Talal, the 20th century’s longest-serving executive head of state dies, and his son Prince Abdallah bin Hussein ascends to the Jordanian throne.Hussein was named the third constitutional king of Jordan in 1952 and proved a great leader in his ...read more

First human satellite

While in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Captain Bruce McCandless becomes the first human being to fly untethered in space when he exits the U.S. space shuttle Challenger and maneuvers freely, using a bulky white rocket pack of his own design. McCandless orbited Earth in ...read more

European Union treaty signed

After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe finally unite in the spirit of economic cooperation with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty of European Union. The treaty, signed by ministers of the European Community, called for greater ...read more

Tire king Firestone dies

On February 7, 1938, automotive industry pioneer Harvey Samuel Firestone, founder of the major American tire company that bore his name, dies at the age of 69 in Miami Beach, Florida.By 1910, Firestone’s profits passed $1 million for the first time. The following year, the winner ...read more

Beatles arrive in New York

On February 7, 1964, Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York’s Kennedy Airport–and “Beatlemania” arrives. It was the first visit to the United States by the Beatles, a British rock-and-roll quartet that had just scored its first No. 1 U.S. hit six ...read more

U.S. jets conduct retaliatory raids

As part of Operation Flaming Dart, 49 U.S. Navy jets from the 7th Fleet carriers Coral Sea and Hancock drop bombs and rockets on the barracks and staging areas at Dong Hoi, a guerrilla training camp in North Vietnam. Escorted by U.S. jets, a follow-up raid by South Vietnamese ...read more

Operation Dewey Canyon II ends

Operation Dewey Canyon II ends, but U.S. units continue to provide support for South Vietnamese army operations in Laos. Operation Dewey Canyon II began on January 30 as the initial phase of Lam Son 719, the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos that was to commence on February 8. ...read more

Zola is brought to trial

On this day in 1898, French writer Emile Zola is brought to trial for libel for “J’Accuse,” his newspaper editorial attacking the French army over the Dreyfus affair.On January 13, Zola had published his editorial in the newspaper L’Aurore. The letter exposed a military cover-up ...read more

The Beatles arrive on American shores

“On the airplane, I felt New York,” Ringo Starr said many years later. “It was like an octopus….I could feel, like, tentacles coming up to the plane it was so exciting.” For the better part of a year leading up to their arrival in America on this day in 1964, the Beatles had been ...read more

First appearance of “Little Tramp”

On this day in 1914, the silent film Kid Auto Races at Venice premieres in theaters, featuring the actor Charlie Chaplin in his first screen appearance as the “Little Tramp,” the character that would become his best-known onscreen alter ego.Born on April 16, 1889, in England, ...read more

Plea bargaining gains favor in American courts

Albert McKenzie pleads guilty to a misdemeanor count of embezzlement in Alameda County, California. McKenzie had originally been charged with a felony for taking $52.50 from the sewing-machine company for which he worked. However, rather than go through a trial, the prosecution ...read more

Forensic evidence solves a crime

Bernard Josephs returns to his house in Bromley, England, and finds his wife Claire lying under the bed, her throat slashed and severed to the spine. Defensive wounds to her hands appeared to be caused by a serrated knife. No weapon was found at the Josephs’ house, and police ...read more