Billy the Kid: Unanswered Questions

Billy1History is full of conspiracy theories. Everything from the assassination of President Lincoln to the Apollo Moon Landings to UFO sightings is fair game to people who are convinced of government cover-ups. While I don’t always agree with them, I do enjoy a good conspiracy theory. They make life more interesting! And, they tend to introduce us to some very interesting folks.

Today, I’m going to tell you about a good ol’ Wild West conspiracy theory. This one involves the infamous outlaw, Billy the Kid, and a man who was known as Brushy Bill Roberts.The question is. . .which one is the real Billy the Kid?  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions and I’m going to try to keep an open mind, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned with age, it’s that I don’t know half as much as I used to think I did!

Kid Stuff

Billy the KidBefore we get into the nitty gritty conspiracy stuff, let’s cover some of the Billy the Kid basics. He was born in 1859, in the slums of New York City. Yes, before he was Billy the Kid, he was Billy the Baby. We’re going to skip right over his childhood because most of what can be found about that is myth. Sources can’t even agree on his real name, but it was likely William Henry McCarty Jr. Or maybe it was William Bonney. Or perhaps it was Henry Bonney. For all I know it was Rumpelstiltskin, but I don’t suppose it matters. The good thing about Western history is that we’re not tied down the to the facts and that makes for fantastic stories. The bad thing is that over time, it becomes almost impossible to separate truth from balderdash!

But I do want to clear up a few things, right off the bat:

  • Billy the Kid did not kill his first man at the age of twelve. By the time Billy was supposed to have killed a man for insulting his mama, his mama had already been dead for a year!
    Billy gravestone
  • He was not illiterate.
  • He wasn’t known as a drunk.
  • He wasn’t known for being ugly. Hey, anyone can take a bad picture. It’s just unfortunate that the only official photograph of Billy the Kid wasn’t a flattering one!
  • There were no “Wanted” posters for Billy the Kid. The images you have seen were made as souvenirs.
    Bill the Kid - Wanted
  • He was never a member of the James Gang. He might have been an outlaw, but Billy the Kid had no interest in robbing banks and trains with Jesse James! Outlaws have standards, too!
  • He wasn’t known for his hot temper and he did not kill twenty-one men.

Now, I realize that this is taking a lot of the air out of the “Billy the Kid as an outlaw” balloon. If it will make you feel any better about his outlaw status, he is believed to have killed somewhere between four and nine men, although most of those shootings are said to have been in self-defense. Is your head spinning? Well, hold on to yer hat! I haven’t even gotten to the conspiracy theory yet!

Are You Kidding Me?

Pat GarrettBilly the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881. Right? I mean, that should be easy enough to verify. Well, it depends on whom you ask! Billy the Kid was about to be hanged from a noose in New Mexico for the murder of Sheriff William Brady. The Kid escaped from the Lincoln County Jail. Sheriff Garrett tracked him down and shot him in Fort Sumner.

Billy the Kid bioBilly the Kid was quickly buried and Sheriff Garrett had the glory of being the one responsible for taking down the photogenically challenged outlaw. (Yes, I know that “photogenically” is not really a word.) Soon after the shooting, Garrett wrote a biography entitled, The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid, though he didn’t let accuracy get in the way of a good story.

There were always people who doubted Sheriff Garrett’s story. Even one of the men who was with Garrett at the time of the shooting, said that the man who was shot was not Billy the Kid. The speed of burial led to more gums flapping about a cover-up. And then there’s this guy… Brushy Bill Roberts!
Billy tombstone

New Kid on the Block

Billy7Long after the person shot by Sheriff Garrett was buried in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, Brushy Bill Roberts surfaced in the small town of Hico, Texas. That wouldn’t be notable except Brushy Bill claimed to be Billy the Kid. This “Billy the Kid” made more than a few believers of the townfolk, and from this comparison photo, I’d say that they had good reason!Billy8

The Hico town motto is, “Where everybody is somebody!” And, in Hico, Brushy Bill Roberts could be Billy the Kid!

When not going by the name Brushy Bill, Roberts went by Ollie Partridge Roberts. He claimed that to be an assumed name. He would also answer to William Henry Roberts. He lived in Hico for seventeen years, but it wasn’t until the late 1940s that his claim of an outlaw past surfaced. Of course, people didn’t just take his word for it. They wanted proof. And, when an examination revealed that Brushy Bill had bullet wounds to match those of Billy the Kid, the folks of Hico were sure that they had a living ghost in their midst. The fact that Brushy Bill’s dates were a bit sketchy didn’t seem to matter. When Brushy Bill died in 1950, he was buried with an elaborate marker identifying him as Billy the Kid, in Hamilton, Texas.
Billy Memorial

Kidding Around

You might think that this issue could be easily resolved. Hey, I’ve seen enough crime shows to know that a little DNA can wrap up a case in one hour of prime time television. But, by golly, that requires DNA. A 1904 flood destroyed the cemetery where Billy the Kid #1 is buried. The bodies were collected, but there was no way to identify them. So, although there is a tombstone for Billy the Kid in New Mexico, there’s no telling who is resting beneath it. Billy the Kid #2 (or Brushy Bill) is resting comfortably in Hamilton, Texas, but there’s no living relative to provide a DNA match.

One thing is for sure. Fort Sumner, New Mexico and Hico, Texas are both happy to lay claim to the outlaw. Both towns have their own Billy the Kid Museum, though, as you might guess, they have different stories to tell.

  • Billy10
  • Billy11

I have a hunch that neither the residents of New Mexico nor Texas are chomping at the bit to solve this mystery. I suppose there are worse things than the same man having two museums and two graves. As I said before, this is the stuff that makes life interesting!

Here’s Billy’s whole story, beautifully told in an hour-long video, from the PBS series The American Experience!

Happy trails, y’all!
Anita Lequoia

The Mystery of the Loretto Chapel Staircase

The Mystery of the Loretto Chapel StaircaseI don’t know about you, but I love a good mystery. Crop circles really get my blood pumping! The Bermuda Triangle and Stonehenge intrigue me. I desperately want to believe in the Loch Ness monster. So, when a mystery happens to coincide with my love for the West, it’s enough to make me do a happy dance! That’s how I feel about the mystery of the Loretto Chapel Staircase in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

American Gothic with a French Accent

Sisters of LorettoIn 1872, the Sisters of Loretto, a Roman Catholic convent in Santa Fe, commissioned a new convent chapel. French architect, Antoine Mouly, designed the chapel and based it on one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Paris, Sainte-Chapelle. It had flying buttresses, soaring spires and stunning imported stained glass windows.

The Mystery of the Loretto Chapel StaircaseThe construction of the chapel was completed in 1878, but there was a problem. The architect died before completion and the builders realized that there was a steeply elevated choir loft that was inaccessible to anyone (other than a choir of angels or, or perhaps the Flying Nun!) No architectural plans had ever been drawn for stairs, and there was no architect to consult, so the carpenters all agreed that a ladder would have to suffice. There was simply no space available in the small chapel to construct a standard staircase that rose 20 feet. A ladder wasn’t unheard of in early churches, but the Sisters of Loretto weren’t too keen on the idea. Climbing a ladder in a nuns’ habit could have been a recipe for disaster, so the Sisters did that which they do so well . . . they sought wisdom from above.

Loretto Sisters

Miracle Worker or Stair Master?

St. JosephAccording to legend, the Sisters of Loretto prayed a novena to St. Joseph. Who better to turn to than the patron saint of carpenters? They prayed diligently for eight days. On the ninth and final day of the novena, a poor looking stranger appeared at the chapel. He carried a toolbox and offered to build a staircase for the Sisters. The nuns didn’t ask to see his references or his design portfolio. They recognized “a sign” when they saw one!

St. JosephThe mysterious stranger reportedly told the nuns that he needed complete privacy to create the new staircase, and he locked himself away in the chapel for about six months. The wood used in the staircase was not native to the area, though no one ever reported seeing wood delivered to the chapel. In fact, there weren’t even any reports of the builder being spotted coming or going from the chapel during the entire building period.

The Mystery of the Loretto ChapelWhen the work was completed, it is said that the stranger simply gathered up his tools and departed. The Mother Superior wasn’t even able to pay him for his work. The Sisters of Loretto offered a reward for the identity of the mystery carpenter, but it was never claimed. Many concluded that the carpenter was St. Joseph, himself. In fact, the chapel is often called, “St. Joseph’s Chapel”.

Stairway to Heaven

The Mystery of the Loretto Chapel StaircaseThe identity (or lack thereof) of the carpenter isn’t the only thing miraculous about the staircase. The staircase ascends twenty feet to the choir loft and is said to contain no nails—only wooden pegs. It was constructed through the use of a square, a saw and warm water. The design features thirty-three steps that make two 360-degree turns, with no visible means of center support. In 1887, a railing was added and the outer spiral was fastened to an adjacent pillar, but prior to that, it really did appear to be a stairway to heaven.

The Loretto Chapel Staircase

Flight of Fancy

Mary Jean Straw CookOf course, some people claim to have solved the mystery of the Loretto staircase. The grandson of a German woodworker once claimed that his grandfather constructed the stairs, though he had no proof. In the 1990’s, author Mary Jean Straw Cook claimed that the builder was Francois-Jean Rochas, an architect who was killed in 1895. Cook found a document, which named Rochas as the builder of “the handsome staircase in the Loretto Chapel”.

The Mystery of the Loretto Chapel StaircaseAs for the miraculous design, that is said to be a matter of physics, rather than miracles. The explanations include lots of talk about joists, stringers and other things that fail to thrill my soul. I’m not liking the idea of reason in this matter . . . I prefer the idea of the miracle.

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

The StaircaseApparently, I’m not the only one who wants to believe in miracles. The staircase has been the subject of numerous articles, films and TV shows. In 1998, Barbara Hershey starred as the Mother Superior of the Loretto Chapel in a television movie, “The Staircase”. “Unsolved Mysteries” re-enacted the story of the Loretto Chapel in an episode entitled, “Miracle Staircase”.

Loretto ChapelIn 1968 the Loretto Convent closed down, the property was sold and deconsecrated. Today, the Loretto Chapel is owned by a private company and serves as a museum and wedding chapel.

Yes, I know that there are perfectly logical explanations for many of life’s mysteries, but sometimes I just don’t want to hear them! If you ask me, miracles are perfectly logical explanations, in their own special way.

Here’s an interesting little video about the chapel, I think that you’ll enjoy it!

Happy Trails, y’all!
Anita Lequoia

Cathay Williams/William Cathay, Union Army Soldier

Cathay WilliamsThis story has it all, my friends—history, war, peace, intrigue, cross-dressing… Cross-dressing? That’s right! Today we’re going to talk about Cathay Williams, also known as William Cathay. Williams had the notable honor of being the first African-American woman to enlist in the U.S. Army. That alone makes this story interesting. The fact that she did it by posing as a man makes this story irresistible!

Born a Slave in Independence

Cathay WilliamsCathay Williams was born in Independence, Missouri in 1844. Although her father was a free man, her mother was a slave. That meant that Williams’ fate as a slave was sealed. Williams worked for William Johnson, a wealthy farmer. And, of course, when the Johnson family moved to Jefferson City, Missouri, their slaves went with them. Williams worked as a house servant. Her master died and she was passed to his widow. She remained there until the Civil War broke out.

Out of the Fire and into the Frying Pan

Cathay WilliamsAt the beginning of the Civil War, in 1861, Union forces occupied Jefferson City, Missouri. Some sources say that the Union Army freed Williams. And, I suppose you can make a compelling argument for that. Hey, she was no longer a house servant. However, it was up to individual commanders to decide what to do with the captured slaves, who were considered contraband. In truth, becoming “contraband” did not mean that a former slave had full freedom. As a female contraband of the Union Army, Williams would have received pay—a whopping $4 a month. But it isn’t as if she had the right to turn down a job with the Union Army.

Cathay WilliamsHere are Williams’ own words from a St. Louis Daily Times article that ran on January 2, 1876:

“ …when the war broke out and the United States soldiers came to Jefferson City, they took me and other colored folks with them to Little Rock. Colonel Benton of the 13th army corps was the officer that carried us off. I did not want to go. He wanted me to cook for the officers, but I had always been a house girl and did not know how to cook. I learned to cook after going to Little Rock and was with the army at The Battle of Pea Ridge. Afterwards the command moved over various portions of Arkansas and Louisiana. I saw the soldiers burn lots of cotton and was at Shreveport when the rebel gunboats were captured and burned on Red River. We afterwards went to New Orleans, then by way of the Gulf to Savannah, Georgia, then to Macon and other places in the South. Finally I was sent to Washington City and at the time Gen. Sheridan made his raids in the Shenandoah Valley, I was cook and washwoman for his staff. I was sent from Virginia to someplace in Iowa and afterwards to Jefferson Barracks, where I remained some time.”

Shuffle Off to the Buffalo Soldiers

By the time the Civil War ended, Cathay Williams had learned how to cook. She had also learned that she liked being financially independent. She didn’t want to rely on relatives for support. After weighing her options, she came up with a scheme you would normally expect to see in screwball comedies. She decided to pass as a man and enlist in the U.S. Army!

Cathay WilliamsOn November 15, 1866, Cathay Williams became William Cathay and shuffled off to join the Buffalo Soldiers. Cathay informed the recruiting officer that she was a twenty-two-year-old cook. In his notes, the officer described Cathay as 5’9” with black eyes, black hair and a black complexion. Don’t blame the officer for failing to mention that Cathay was a woman. An Army surgeon missed that, too, when he examined Cathay. I’m beginning to think I could have made it as a 19th century Army doctor! She was deemed fit for duty, and the rest is history.

Buffalo Gal, can you come out tonight?

Cathay WilliamsEven though U.S. Army regulations did not allow for the enlistment of women in a peacetime army until 1948, “William Cathay” was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry. Cathy traveled throughout the West with a unit of unsuspecting peers. Only two people knew the truth—Cathay’s cousin and a friend, who were also in her regiment. Her secret was safer with them than the recipe for Bush’s Baked Beans is with that talking dog, Duke!

Even when Cathay contracted smallpox and was admitted to a hospital near St. Louis, her secret was still not discovered. How she got well with medical care that didn’t even take note of her true gender is a mystery, but she did get well! She rejoined her company, which was in New Mexico by that time.

Private Cathay carried her musket and performed her duties, until she no longer wanted to. In the same St. Louis Daily Times interview, Cathay revealed:

“…finally I got tired and wanted to get off. I played sick, complained of pains in my side, and rheumatism in my knees. The post surgeon found out I was a woman and I got my discharge.”

Cathay will receive no judgment from me. Heck, I’ve complained of worse just to get out of playing volleyball in gym class! At the time of her discharge on October 14, 1868, Cathay Williams had served for almost two full years.

Cathay Williams

The Secret Was Out

Following her time in the military, Cathay Williams moved to Pueblo, Colorado and made her living as a cook and laundress. She had a brief marriage to a man she described as being a “no account.” After he stole her watch and chain, money and team of horses, she had him arrested. That is when she made her way to Trinidad, Colorado where she still planned on making her own way. As she said, “I want to get along and not be a burden to my friends or relatives.”

Cathay WilliamsIn 1891, a doctor from the Pension Bureau examined her. Her two years of military service and the fact that her toes had been amputated as a complication of diabetes were not enough to persuade the government that she should receive disability payments. The date of Cathay Williams’ death is unknown, though it is believed to have been sometime in 1892. Over time, the wooden marker on her grave eroded leaving the whereabouts of her burial site a mystery.

At this point, I normally throw out a few pop culture references. Alas, there are no pop culture references regarding Cathay Williams. She hasn’t been the subject of movies or songs. I’m not sure how the public has remained in the dark about her story, but, in a way, I’m glad. Since her story isn’t terribly well known, time hasn’t morphed her into a tall tale and we can still learn about the fact that she was irresistibly human!

Happy Trails, y’all!
Anita Lequoia

Hell’s Belle: The Bandit Queen, Belle Starr

1Gaining notoriety is a funny thing. By definition, notoriety is “the state of being famous or well known for some bad quality or deed.” Gaining typically means the “act of obtaining something that is desirable.” So, why do we talk about someone gaining notoriety? Is it to be considered the act of obtaining the desirable state of being famous for a bad deed? I guess it depends on who is doing the obtaining! I’ve been studying up on Belle Starr, who gained notoriety as an American outlaw of the Old West. From all I’ve learned, it doesn’t seem like gaining notoriety bothered her one bit!

A Starr is Born

Belle StarrWhen Myra Maybelle Shirley was born in 1848, her parents probably didn’t have a clue that she would one day become known as a notorious American outlaw, although she did have an exciting branch on her family tree. Her mother, Eliza Hatfield Shirley, was a relative of the Hatfield family that was famous for its participation in the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Myra “Little May” Shirley was born on her father’s farm near Carthage, Missouri. She lived there until the 1860s, when her father bought an inn and livery stable in Carthage.

Myra Maybelle ShirleyIt seems the childhood of the future notorious outlaw was better than that of many girls of the day. She received an education at the Carthage Female Academy, which her father had helped found. In 1864, the Shirleys moved to Scyene, Texas, after a Union attack on Carthage.

If Belle’s childhood had a major downside, it was probably that she grew up with a couple of fellows who were destined to become notorious outlaws themselves—Cole Younger, who grew up to join Frank and Jesse James in their famed crime spree and James Reed, whom she married.

  • Cole Younger
    Cole Younger
  • James Reed
    James Reed

Wedding Belle

James Reed James Reed was the son of a prosperous farmer from Carthage and James had plans of going into the family business. The Reed family had also moved to Scyene, after the Civil War. When Belle married James Reed in 1866, he seemed like a pretty good catch. Reed and Belle had two children, a daughter, Pearl, and a son, Eddie. Throw in a family dog and the Reeds might have looked like they were going to live the American dream. But, try as he might, Reed was not successful at farming, so he reevaluated his skill set and decided to become an outlaw instead. When a warrant was issued for his arrest for murder in Arkansas, the family moved west to California.

James Reed It was there that Reed met up with the Starr clan, a family of Cherokee outlaws, who mentored him in his new profession. The Starrs were known as cattle rustlers, horse thieves and bootleggers. Reed also ran with the James and Younger gangs. In 1874, Reed was accused of a stagecoach robbery and Belle was accused of being an accomplice. The couple high-tailed it back to Texas, but Reed was shot and killed by authorities, in Paris, Texas.

Hitch Your Wagon to a Starr

Belle StarrThe widow gave her children over to relatives and set off into her own career as an outlaw. It’s possible that Belle had a three-week marriage to Charles Younger, uncle of Cole Younger, in 1878. The rumors can’t be substantiated, however. Dealing strictly with what we know, following Reed’s death, Belle joined the Starr Clan and moved to Indian Territory, near Fort Smith, Arkansas. In 1880, she married Samuel Starr and Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed officially became known as Belle Starr.
Belle Starr honed her outlaw skills. She acted as a front for bootleggers and learned how to fence for cattle rustlers and horse thieves. She was also a pro at harboring fugitives! You might say the fugitives were “saved by the Belle!” (Well, I don’t know if you would say that, but I couldn’t resist.) Belle was so good at her job that she could fund her own bribery whenever she was caught.

Starr-Crossed Lovers

Starr-Crossed LoversThings were going well for the notorious, lady outlaw and her husband until they found themselves in the sights of Judge Isaac Parker, better known as the “Hanging Judge.” The duo was charged with horse theft in November 1882, and a few months later, a jury found them guilty.

Judge Isaac Parker
Judge Isaac Parker

The Hanging Judge was showing his softer side the day he handed down their sentences. Since it was the first conviction for both Mr. and Mrs. Starr, he sentenced them each to a year in prison. It is said that he was hoping they would “decide to become decent citizens.” The pair was sent to Detroit on a railroad prison car. They were released for good behavior after serving nine months.

Sam Starr was killed in a gunfight in 1886. It was then that Belle announced her common-law marriage to Jim July Starr. The good news is that she didn’t have to get new monogrammed towels!

Hell’s Belle

Hell’s BelleIt’s difficult to say if Judge Parker got his wish and if Belle Starr decided to become a decent citizen. She definitely decided to be a neighborly citizen. She took up her welcome mat for fugitives. She helped her neighbors when they were ill. But, a reputation is a difficult thing to shake. For the rest of her life, she was suspected whenever her neighbors were missing livestock. And, who is to say if she was guilty or not?

In 1889, Belle Starr was killed by a shot in the back as she returned home from a general store. As to who might have wanted her dead, the list was long. It included outlaws, her offspring, a former lover and her husband. The mystery remains one of the coldest of cold cases of the Wild West.

Belle of the Ball

Hell’s BelleBelle Starr gained more notoriety in death than she enjoyed in life. The woman who scorned skirts in favor of buckskins, wore a man’s Stetson hat with an ostrich plume, ran with infamous gangs, and liked to drink, gamble and shoot, was too much for the public to resist. She became the subject of dime novels and Belle Starr, the Bandit Queen, became a household name. Everyone from Gene Tierney and Jane Russell to Florence Henderson and Elizabeth Montgomery has portrayed her. Woody Guthrie wrote a song about her. And, she received a mention in a song by Bob Dylan.

Hell’s BelleHer grave is in Eufaula, Oklahoma. There, you will find her tombstone, engraved with a bell, a star, her horse, and a poem written by her daughter Pearl.

Happy Trails, y’all!
Anita Lequoia

Lady Wonder, the Psychic Horse

Psychic horseI’ve always been a fan of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Robert Ripley understood that some tales are so bizarre that not everyone is going to accept them as truth. That’s okay . . . you can believe it, or not. Well, today I’ve got a Campfire Chronicle “Believe It Or Not” for you! It’s the story of a famous horse named Lady Wonder, whom many believed had psychic abilities. In her lifetime, she solved two murder investigations for police and she was as famous as Man O’ War! Since it is a little difficult to establish fact from fiction in this story, I’m just going to throw it out there and let you decide what to make of it . . . believe it or not!

Pony Tales

Lady Wonder, the offspring of siblings, was born in 1924 and gained fame in 1927. According to legend (believe it or not!), Lady Wonder’s dam died when she was a mere two weeks old. Mrs. C.D. Fonda, of Richmond, Virginia, purchased her and bottle-fed her through those early days. During the months of bottle-feeding, Mrs. Fonda played with Lady Wonder the way she would have played with a child. Mrs. Fonda brought out the alphabet blocks and spent hours building houses and spelling words for the horse. To each his own! It was during this time that Lady Wonder decided to join in on a family game of “hide the thimble.” The kids discovered that the filly was a champion thimble finder!

Lady WonderIt wasn’t long before Mrs. Fonda and her husband noticed something special about Lady Wonder. The Fondas claimed that they didn’t have to call the horse’s name when they wanted her. Whenever they so much as thought about calling Lady Wonder, she came trotting up to them. Now, that’s a nice trick, but it’s hardly enough to warrant the reputation of having a psychic horse. Of course, there’s more to the story.

Mental Blocks

Lady WonderBy the time Lady Wonder was a two-year-old, she had reportedly learned to count and spell out small words by positioning alphabet blocks with her nose. Mr. and Mrs. Fonda were so impressed that they created a sort of horse typewriter. A long bar holding a series of tin cards containing letters and numbers was placed in front of Lady Wonder. The horse would lower her muzzle to the appropriate cards, spelling out answers to questions. The questions posed to Lady Wonder weren’t just run of the mill horse questions like, “Would you prefer an apple or a carrot?” Oh, no, these were the type of questions that one might have asked of the Amazing Kreskin or Miss Cleo!

Lady Wonder - Mind ReadingWell, evidently, a spelling, psychic horse could draw quite a crowd and the Fondas decided to capitalize on that. For the sum of $1, Lady Wonder would answer any three questions a person might want to ask. If you have a horse prophet, you might as well turn a profit, right?

In the Cards

Dr. J.B. RhineIn 1928, a group of highly regarded scientists and parapsychologists visited Lady Wonder’s stable to conduct tests on her, using the scientific method. The group included renowned medical researcher, Dr. J.B. Rhine of Duke University, who coined the term, “extrasensory perception,” and invested his entire career into researching the subject. The researchers placed a screen between themselves and the horse and conducted 500 tests over a one-week period.

They asked her a combination of math questions, common knowledge questions and questions a non-psychic horse wouldn’t begin to know. And, for the record, the common knowledge questions weren’t common horse knowledge. They asked things like, “Where can I borrow money?” Lady Wonder spelled, “Bank.” I’ve known a lot of horses in my life and I don’t believe a single one of them would have had the slightest concept of financial institutions! The investigators also wrote words on a piece of paper and didn’t allow Lady Wonder to see the words. But, that didn’t matter. She still managed to “type” the hidden words. In the opinion of the testers, Lady Wonder had genuine telepathic ability.

Wonder of Wonders

Dr. J.B. Rhine In 1950s, police turned to Lady Wonder for help in several missing persons cases. In 1951, when 4-year-old Danny Mason was missing in Massachusetts, friends of the Mason family paid a visit to Lady Wonder. She spelled out, “Pittsfield Water Wheel,” The area was searched, but police did not find a body. Then it was decided that, perhaps, the message had gotten garbled. Perhaps the message was “Pit Field Wilde Water.” When the Field-Wilde quarry was dragged, the body of Danny Mason was recovered. Got goose bumps yet?

Police visited Lady Wonder when three-year-old Ronnie Weitkamp was missing from his home in Indiana, in 1955. Legend has it that the police asked the horse if she knew why they were there and she spelled, “Boy.” When asked if she knew his name, she spelled, “Rone,” meaning “Ronnie.” (Hey, “Rone” is pretty good spelling for a horse!) When asked if Ronnie was dead or alive, she spelled, “Dead.” Further questioning resulted in Lady Wonder “telling” the police that little Ronnie Weitkamp would be found in December, in a hole dug in sandy soil, near an elm tree. The prediction also said that he would be found more than a quarter mile from his home. The body was, in fact, discovered in December, in a hole dug in sandy soil, near an elm tree. The location was a little more than a mile from the Weitkamp home. Now I definitely have goose bumps!

A Horse With 6th Sense

Harry TrumanLady Wonder is said to have predicted everything from Presidential elections to heavyweight boxing champions. She is also credited with correctly predicting the U.S. involvement in WWII. She mistakenly predicted that Thomas Dewey would defeat Truman in the 1948 Presidential election, but we can’t really fault her for that. After all, the Chicago Daily Tribune did have a headline that read, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

What a Wonderful World

Lady WonderLady Wonder died on March 19, 1957, at the ripe old age of 32. Even she had predicted that she would die three years prior. The Richmond News Leader ran a front-page headline announcing the death of “Richmond’s famous mind-reading horse.” Of course there have been plenty of people who questioned the actual psychic ability of Lady Wonder. It was said to be everything from deliberate trickery to an innocent matter of the horse picking up cues from the people surrounding her. What are your thoughts? Was Lady Wonder a genuine psychic horse? Do you believe it or not?

Happy Trails, y’all!
Anita Lequoia