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     Frank Thurmond was the son of J. C. Thurmond and his wife Martha Stokes Thurmond.  J. C. Thur-mond was born in Jackson County, Georgia on June 18, 1817, and was the son of Thomas T. Thurmond of Wilkes County, North Carolina.  All his brothers fought in the Revolutionary War, according to Phoebe Ann Hampton White, niece of Frank Thurmond.  Photo supposedly made at Denison, Texas.

Lottie Deno, known also at various times as Carlotta J. Thompkins, Charlotte Tompkins, and Charlotte Thurmond. She came from a wealthy family. Her father loved to gamble, raised racehorses, and traded in crops grown on the plant-ation. After her father was killed in the Civil War,Lottie's mother and sister were forced to manage the family plan-tation. To ensure their future security they sent Lottie to Detroit at the age of eighteen to find a husband of the right social standing. In Detroit Lottie met Johnny Golden, a jockey who had ridden for Lottie's father. Knowing Lottie was versed in gambling, Johnny encouraged Lottoe to gamble on the Ohio and Mississippi River. Lottie and Johnny traveled the rivers during the Civil War. In 1863 the two split. During that time, Lottie became a house gambler at the University Club in Texas, where she worked for the Thurmond family, from Georgia. 

She met and fell in love with Frank Thurmond. Lottie was known in San Antonio as the "Angel of San Antonio." Later in 1869 Johnny arrived claiming that Lottie was his wife, but Lottie denied the assertion. Frank went to West Texas after supposedly killing a man in an altercation during a game. Soon Lottie followed to find him, leaving behind Johnny and Mary. She gambled her way around West Texas-Fort Concho, Jacksboro, San Angelo, Denison, and Fort Worth-and eventually moved to Fort Griffin. 

In Ft. Concho, Lottie had been called 'Mystic Maud." It was in Fort Griffin that she began to call herself Lottie Deno. Her new name supposedly came from a card game where she was suspected of cheating; one player suggested she should call herself "Lotta Dinero." 

Lottie's gambling opponents included Doc Holliday and other well-known western figures. She left Griffin in May 1877 to join Frank in Kingston, New Mexico. There she and Frank ran a small gambling room on the rear of the Victorio Hotel. Later Lottie owned the Broadway Restaurant in Silver City. On December 2, 1880, in Silver City, New Mexico, Lottie and Frank were married. 

From 1882 until Lottie's died, she and Frank lived in Deming, New Mexico, as respected citizens. Frank became a miner, then dealt in land sales and eventually became vice president of the Deming National Bank. Lottie, who was always said to be a lady, always worn the finest clothing and practiced the best manners. She gave up gambling and became a founding member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Deming. She died on February 9, 1934, and is buried in Deming next to Frank. 

Lottie is immortalized as the basis for Gunsmoke's character, "Miss Kitty".

Info condensed from The Texas State Historical Association.

CHEROKEE HALL (Frank Thurmond) as pictured by Frederick Remington 'to illustrate "Wolfville" in 1880.

FRANK THURMOND (Cherokee Hall) as he appeared in 1898


 Unfortunately, the youthful Carlotta fell for a business connection of her father’s that her family found unsuitable largely, it seemed, because Johnny Golden was both a gambler and Jewish. With money running out, Johnny convinced Carlotta to run away with him and gamble on the riverboats that trolled the Mississippi River even during the height of the war. Accompanied by the ever vigilant Mary Poindexter, Carlotta joined her love on the riverboats.

 While a lady gambler was unusual during this time, gamblers were not. During the mid to late 1800’s, in fact, gambling was seen as a profession, much like being a trader on Wall Street is today. Skill was respected and, though it was not necessarily admitted, almost every gambler had his (or her) little tricks. Those that gambled with professional gamblers invariably understood this (much like the public who trade on Wall Street today know that, with high speed trading, the odds are at least slightly rigged against them) but prided themselves on being able to tell when the cheat occurred before they bet the hand, though we know that wasn’t always the case.

 For reasons not revealed, Johnny and Lottie decided to split up in 1863 and rendezvous later in San Antonio. Gambling her way through New Orleans, Carlotta and Mary arrived in San Antonio in 1865. Johnny would not show up for five more years. Even though she was a woman, and perhaps due to both her skill and nerve, Carlotta got a job dealing cards at the University Club in San Antonio, owned by the Thurmond family of Georgia.  Carlotta soon fell deeply in love with the owner’s part Cherokee son, Frank Thurmond, and he with her.


By all accounts the lady gambler was a popular attraction in San Antonio. She dressed in the latest, tasteful, fashions, displayed refined manners, and forbid cussing, smoking, or drinking at her table. She carried herself like the lady she had been born and her demeanor dispelled any suspicions as to cheating. The men lined up to play at the “Angel of San Antonio’s” table, where Mary Poindexter sat on a stool behind her mistress to keep an eye on things. She continued to send money back home, supposedly telling her mother she had met and married a wealthy cattle rancher.

Gambler’s, however, did encounter work hazards, usually in the form of an inebriated patron who felt he had been cheated. Such was the case with Frank Thurmond. Finding himself in a brawl, he pulled a Bowie knife he had on a string down his back and killed his attacker. Perhaps knowing that Frank would get off on grounds of self-defense, the man’s family put a bounty on his head and Frank fled, leaving Carlotta behind, but not for long.

Carlotta set  out  to find  Frank,  gambling her  way  across  Texas in  towns  such  as Fort Concho, Denison, and Fort Worth before finally locating Frank under the assumed name of Mike Fogerty at the Bee Hive Saloon in Fort Griffin (known as the Flat) where he was once again dealing cards.  She arrived in Fort Griffin Flat, a notorious town which claimed it “had a man for breakfast every morning”, riding in next to the driver atop a stage coach looking every inch a lady of means.


She immediately got a job at the Bee Hive dealing cards and running a faro game where the likes of Doc Holiday played. In fact, it was reported that Big-nosed Kate Elder, the paramour of Doc Holiday, got into a fight with Carlotta, in which they both pulled guns, when Kate felt Doc was spending too much time at the lovely lady’s table. Doc stepped between them and cooled tempers. Carlotta had already given her heart to Frank and, by every account, was not a promiscuous woman, despite appearances to the contrary. It did appear that Doc Holiday enjoyed playing at Carlotta’s table, even if he didn’t win, as it is reported he once lost as much as $3,000 to the lady.

 Indeed, there are many tales about Carlotta’s time in Fort Griffin as she ran games with some of the most 

desperate men in Texas at her table. In Edgar Rye’s 1909 book, The Quirt and the Spur, he relates” She always appeared well-dressed and walked with the air of a perfect lady. And strange to relate she was present during many a rough house, saw the flash of deadly six-shooters and heard the oaths of the men in desperate conflict, but it did not drive her from the scene, though when the smoke cleared away, there were dead men lying in pools of blood near the card tables.” 

 On one occasion, when men were lying dead at her table after an altercation, the sheriff stated he would not have cared to stay during the fracas as she had done. She responded, “Perhaps not, sheriff, but you are not a desperate woman.”

 Fort Griffin Flat is also where Carlotta got her name of Lottie Deno. As the legend goes, she won every hand from everyone at the table who dared to play that night and, as she counted her winnings from the final hand, a cowboy from the back yelled out. “Honey, with winnings like them, you oughter call yourself Lotta Dinero.” Seizing an opportunity to protect her identity so those back home would not learn of her exploits, Carlotta christened herself Lottie Deno.

 By an odd turn of events, Johnny Golden, her first love, arrived in Fort Griffin Flat (as it was known) and laid claim to Lottie as his wife, which she vehemently denied. She was in love with Frank, now.  On the day he arrived and was turned down by Lottie, Golden got arrested on some infraction of the law. On his way to the guard house it was claimed by the officers that a friend of Johnny’s tried to intervene, shots flew, and Johnny fell dead.  It is said Lottie paid for his funeral but didn’t attend, grieving behind closed curtains.

For unknown reasons, Frank thought it best to leave Fort Griffin Flat and Lottie followed about a month later, the couple relocating to Kingston, New Mexico where Frank and Lottie opened up a gambling room in the back of the Victorio Hotel. Later Lottie opened up a restaurant in Silver City, New Mexico, the town where they were finally married in 1880 and Lottie, at thirty-six, took the name of Charlotte Thurmond. At some point during this time, Frank had another occasion to use his Bowie knife to kill a man. That seemed like the last straw and they both gave up gambling, settling down in Deming, New Mexico.

 Frank took up mining, got involved in some land sales, and eventually became a vice-president of the Deming National Bank. They both became upstanding citizens of the town with Lottie being a founding member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Deming to which she purportedly gave $40,000 toward a new building. Frank died in 1908 and Lottie in 1934. They are buried together.

 According to the Texas State Historical Association website, “Frank and Lottie were immortalized as Faro Nell and Cherokee Hall in a series known as the Wolfville books, written by Alfred Henry Lewis. Lottie was also the prototype for Miss Kitty in the television series “Gunsmoke” and for Laura Denbo in Leon Oris’s movie Gunfight at the OK Corral (Paramount, 1957).”

 A true legend of the Wild West, Lottie Deno chose to use her gifts of intelligence, skill, and beauty to survive in a man’s world while still carrying herself like a lady, worthy of respect. I thought it funny though that an Amazon reviewer of Cynthia Rose’s book on Lottie titled Lottie Deno: Gambling Queen of Hearts, apparently thought Lottie’s life was fiction describing the book’s “plot” as “entirely predictable,” perhaps not realizing that Lottie was real and the prototype, not the stereotype, for several female western characters. For me, Lottie gives admirable testimony to the pragmatism and resilience of the women who tamed the West. How about you?

 For more about Lottie Deno as well as a picture of the beauty check out


 On Line sources:

 Publication sources:

The quirt and the spur by Edgar Rye

Tales of Bad Men, Bad Women and Bad Places: Four Centuries of Texas Outlawry  by C.F. Eckhardt

Lottie Deno: A Gambling Southern Belle

by Webmaster | September 7, 2012 | Anne CarroleBlog | 3 comments

A lady gambler who was also one of the founding members of her Episcopal church, the woman who went by the name Lottie Deno was an unexpected sight at the Post-Civil War Texas gaming tables of San Antonio, Fort Worth, and, perhaps the most notorious town of its day, Fort Griffin Flat.  Where did this gorgeous, red-haired, southern belle come from and, perhaps more importantly, how did she end up winning money from the likes of  Doc Holiday, earning the respect of her patrons for her skill, and keeping her reputation as a lady in tact? 

 Lottie Deno was born Carlotta J. Thompson in 1844 to a devout Episcopalian family who owned a farm in Warsaw, Kentucky. Her father, an inveterate gambler who frequented the gaming tables of New Orleans when he was there on business, believed his daughter should have some skills in this world and, having no sons, taught her the games of chance that he enjoyed. Carlotta was an excellent pupil and accompanied her father to New Orleans on several occasions.

 After Carlotta’s father was killed in the Civil War, relatives sent Carlotta to Detroit, where her father had business acquain-tances, in hopes she would find and marry a wealthy man who could take over her father’s enterprises. Accompanying Carlotta on this trip was her companion, Mary Poindexter, their former slave who, at over six feet tall, also acted as body-guard to her young charge.

Kingston, New Mexico

Where the Bradley Boys got their start

Kingston, New Mexico isn’t a ghost town. But it’s also not the place of which it was said that on nights when the miners had been paid you couldn’t walk ninety feet in 30 minutes for the crowd, a place with 22 saloons, 14 grocery stores, three hotels, three concurrently-operating newspapers, an opera house, and a school, a place where the bank once held $7,000,000 in silver and the population topped 7,000. Nope, it’s not that place now. And it never was. There may be few Old West mining boom towns that have had their history so exagerated. Kingston has even been considered to have once been the biggest town in territorial New Mexico.

Now, everyone agrees that in the early 1880’s precious metal, particularly silver, was found in the area. Ralph Looney’s Haunted Highways recounts the story that Kingston’s establishment can be traced to a drunkard, Jack Sheddon, who became such a nuisance in Lake Valley that the sheriff put him on a burro with food and whiskey and sent him north. En route to Chloride, he made a stop near what would become Kingston, had a good long drink, and passed out on a rock. When he came to, he noticed that his stony pillow had flecks of metal in it. This was bornite, a silver ore, and he quickly established the Solitaire Mine. Soon prospectors were descending from every direction. It’s a great tale, but not really true. Prospecting was underway before Sheddon even arrived (he at least did exist) as a few miners had already moved the 10 or so miles west from Hillsboro, which had been established in 1877.

In the fall of 1882, James Porter Parker, General G.A. Custer’s former roommate at West Point, platted Kingston, which took its name from a local mine, the Iron King. Soon it was reported by the Tombstone Epitaph in Arizona that there were 45 men working area mines. By 1885, a year after Kingston’s oft-reported peak population of 7,000, Territorial Census figures show 329 residents in Kingston and the adjacent Danville Camp combined, even with Spanish and Chinese included in the tally.

It may well have been a rowdy place though. In an 1886 edition of the St. John’s Herald out of east-central Arizona (at the time Kingston didn’t have one newspaper) a citizen expressed upset at their town’s lack of a school, church, or, indeed, any public institution. Reverend S.W. Thornton even referred to Kingston as “the typical mining town in all its wickedness.” In 1888, construction of a stone church began which would serve Kingston’s now-1,000 residents. Sometimes claimed to have been spontaneously financed by prostitutes, gamblers, and dance-hall girls, it’s more likely that Rev. N.W. Chase solicited the funds.

In 1890, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kingston’s population reached 1,449, a count it probably never surpassed by much. The 1893 economic panic sent silver prices crashing and the number of Kingston’s occupants plummeting quickly back into the low hundreds at best. By the time it was really all over in the early 1900’s almost $7,000,000 in precious metal had been mined in the vicinity, not an inconsiderable sum. But it took over 20 years; that amount was never in the Percha Bank at one time.

Even the usually no-nonsense Philip Varney slips up when it comes to Kingston, mentioning in New Mexico’s Best Ghost Towns that Chief Victorio’s band of Apaches once descended on the town but because the miners were assembling a hunting party and thus had their firearms at hand they were able to quickly drive the attackers out. It’s said Victorio decided to leave Kingston alone after that and the happy populace named their new three-story hotel The Victorio in his honor. The problem is that Victorio died in 1880, two years before Kingston was established. It’s not entirely Varney’s fault; there are many stories about Victorio and his band’s depredations in and around Kingston. And Varney didn’t have Wikipedia in the 1970’s.

You may also hear of the ironically-named Virtue St., on which was an infamous Kingston brothel. While you will find a very short side street named Virtue today, it was created after Kingston's initial abandonment. But don't fret! The world has not gone entirely topsy-turvy; there certainly was a brothel in early Kingston.

Walking the two short thoroughfares, many have wondered how a town could’ve risen and fallen so precipitously. Since it didn’t, it’s not as surprising that only one historic building exists wholly intact: the Percha Bank. The old Assay Office, remodeled as a private home, and a vastly reconfigured hotel—The Victorio—also persist. Floods and fires have certainly done their damage, but there was never as much to disappear as is usually imagined.

Much of the confusion over Kingston is attributable to James A. McKenna’s classic Black Range Tales, which, it should be noted, contains the word tales in the title and not facts. Some of McKenna’s yarns, which most ghost town sources at least reference, take place in a Kingston of 7,000 rabble-rousers, "the metropolis of the Southwest" which, while possibly true to the spirit of the day, never quite existed. The same year that Black Range Tales was published, 1936, Madame Sadie Orchard told an interviewer of a peak population of 5,000. Few having actually been there, such wild overestimates made their way into subsequent Kingston literature. In the end, maybe the Kingston of myth is just one of those places in the Wild West of our collective imagination that people wanted to exist so badly that it was finally wished into being. It’s not the worst thing to have happened to history, I suppose..


On the site of a former Apache camp, nestled in the knees of the Black Range in southwestern New Mexico, Kingston (elevation 6,224 feet) lies astride Middle Percha Creek. Originally called Percha City, the town boomed in 1882 after a silver strike by miner Jack Sheddon.

The first officially recognized habitation in town was a tent store set up in June 1882. A rough-hewn tent and board city soon busted out along the creek. Within two months some 2,000 people were buying lots for $15 in the newly platted town site. By 1883 Main Street lots sold for $500, while lots near the diggings fetched up to $5,000.

The largest mine, the Iron King (for which Kingston is named), soon had competition from the Solitaire, Empire, Calamity Jane, Miner’s Dream, Black Colt, Brush Heap, Bonanza, Gypsy, Ironclad, Caledonia and Little Jimmy. Eventually, 30 mines dotted the hills. By 1885 the population peaked at more than 7,000.

Characters associated with Kingston included New Mexico’s own Billy the Kid, satirist Mark Twain, President Grover Cleveland, Wild Bunch pals Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Apache leaders Geronimo andVictorio, political boss Albert Fall, badman “Black Jack” Ketchum, cowboy chronicler Eugene Manlove Rhodes and poet-scout John Wallace “Captain Jack” Crawford.

The town’s ethnic mix and early character are reflected in such place names as Italian Avenue, Chinese Gardens and Virtue Street (the latter home to Sadie Orchard, the town’s leading madam).

Among the wildest Western mining towns, Kingston sported 22 saloons with gambling halls for roulette and faro, 14 grocery and general stores, a brewery, three newspapers, several restaurants (one served oysters), three hotels, several boardinghouses, two assay offices, two fraternal lodges, a bank, numerous gambling dens, a drugstore, a dancing school, a tennis court, an ice-house, seven sawmills, a theater (once graced by actress Lillian Russell), a school, a smelter, a kiln, a blacksmith, a dentist and two doctors. Madam  Orchard  reportedly  passed  the hat (or perhaps a stocking)to have a church built.

The gold standard replaced the silver standard in 1892, dropping silver prices 90 percent almost overnight and sparking the Panic of 1893. As the mines played out and profits turned into losses, Kingston folded. Many folks moved to Arizona Territory or simply shifted to neighboring Hillsboro, whose economy was based on gold mining and ranching.

As townspeople left, they tore down the wooden buildings and carried out the lumber to build new homes. In 1893 they burned many of the remaining buildings to recover the square handmade nails. Little was left standing of what was once New Mexico’s largest town.

The Percha Bank, onetime repository for $7 million in silver, remains intact and serves as a museum. The original vault (an 1885 Diebold) occupies a brick room within the bank’s 2- foot-thick stone and Kingston brick walls. The design was brilliant—even if a thief broke through the outside walls, he couldn’t access the vault. Apparently it worked, as no one ever broke in to or robbed the bank.

A former assay office now serves as a residence, as does the Victorio Hotel, named for the Apache upon whose hunting grounds Kingston sits. Across the street is the Black Range Lodge:

 [], a beautifully restored bed-and-breakfast. Its plastered brick walls date back to an 1880s boardinghouse that lodged both miners and troopers of the 8th Cavalry.

The cemetery occupies a hill overlooking Kingston. Still in use today, it chronicles the lives and deaths of merchants and unlucky miners, immigrants, soldiers and a war hero.

When visitors arrive in search of treasure or artifacts, says local historian Mark Nero, there is no need to go to the landfill, as people “dig up all sorts of stuff” right in town. Bottles, cavalry buttons, leather and other relics turn up regularly.

Still meeting once a month in the old schoolhouse is the Spit & Whittle Club, dating from 1888, which bills itself as one of the nation’s oldest continuously active social clubs. Talk of religion or politics is prohibited—as is spitting and whittling. Townswomen halted those activities when first allowed to join.

Today about 25 people live in Kingston []. A lightning-sparked wildfire threatened the town last June. Residents evacuated, but no buildings burned.

Kingston is off I-25, Exit 63. Take Highway 152 nine miles west of Hillsboro. The turnoff for Main Street is just past the ranger station. Look for the Spit &Whittle Club marker. At night roaming livestock and wildlife make driving difficult.


Originally published in the October 2013 issue of Wild West. 

El Paso Herald-Post,  Tuesday August16, 1938, Page 4


By Chester Chope

Col. E. R. Bradley is up and about again.

     To the younger generation of El Pasoans that probably does not mean anything.  But to the old-timers, who had heard that the Colonel was ill for several months with a blood clot on the brain at his home at Kew Gardens, Long Island, N.Y., that is interesting news.

     The colonel is a survivor of those colorful days in El Paso when the town was wide open.  It was here that he laid the foundation for a fortune that enabled  him  to concentrate on a hobby, thorough-

bred racing, until his horses have won almost every major stake in America.


He was only 14 when he quit the Pennsylvania steel mills and and came to the Southwest.  He worked on Texas cattle ranches, prospected for gold in Arizona and Mexico, and served as a government scout in the campaign against the Apache Indians.


From 1882 to 1887 he lived in El Paso.  With his brother, John, he operated the celebrated Bacchus Club on San Antonio Street.  It was the largest gambling establishment in the state at a time when life was tracked  in the care free border town of 2000 persons. 

It was here that he accumulated a sizable stake.  So when the doctors told him to quit business, he took up horse breeding and racing as a hobby, and estab-lished a farm at Lexington, Kentucky.

When he and his brother sold the Bacchus Club they opened the Beach Club in Palm Beach.  The place didn't do so well at first and was about to fold up when women members of a dinner party asked to be admitted one night.  Women were barred from first class gambling places in those days.  Because they had nothing to lose, the operators of the Beach Club admitted the feminine guests.  From that night on the place was a success.


Bradley has been  a plunger most of his life.  He has been credited with bets of $10,000 to $20,000.


His philanthropies are wide.  He has given away a fortune friends say.  


El Pas Herald,  Thursday, October 3, 1907,   Page 1


Man whom Herald Dispatches Told of Yesterday in Far North, Worked Once for The Eggers.


​Worked First in the Old Bacchus and Then in Center Block -- Has Hunted All Over the World.

​     John R. Bradly, spoken of in yesterday afternoon's Herald dispatches as heading to the North Pole in a boat named for him, is an El Pasoan, having worked in El Paso as a gambler in several different place and accumulating the start here which has made him a millionaire several times over.  The present trip is in satisfaction of one of his hobbies, hunting big game in out of the way and uninhabited places, of the earth, according to his old friend, The Eggers, who received a letter from him in July telling of the start for the Polar regions.

The Eggers Gave Him A Start.

     Mr. Eggers had known John R. Bradley and his brother, Ed, for more than 20 years and was really the one who gave the two Bradley's their start in El Paso, which has handed them on the topmost wave of prosperity and enabled John Bradly to gratify his hobby for travel and exploration.

​ Came to El Paso in 1885

     "John Bradley and his brother, Ed. Bradley, came to El Paso in 1886," said Eggers this afternoon.  "John was at that time about 18 years of age and his brother slightly older.  They had been following Mexican fiestas and carnivals running a "chunk-a-lunk" machine. 

     "I was instantly attracted to the two boys, especially to John and offered then some inducements to quit their roving and put their energies into square gambling.  They were both hustlers and were always doing something.

     "Once when John wasn't gambling he took a job cooking for a New Mexico mining camp, later coming back to El Paso.  I gave him a position in the old Bacchus, which was where the D. & H. shoe store is now, and which was later the Astor House.  The Bacchus was opened up on Christmas Eve, 1886, and John and Ed both had positions in the place.

Gets interest In Gambling House

     "Later I took John Bradley up and introduced him to McLein, who at that time running a gambling house in the Center Block.  McLein saw something in the young fellow from the start and offered him a good thing, giving him part of the profits and making him practically manager of the place.  John was at that time about 18 or 19 years old.


Made First Trip Around World

     "In the fall of 1887, John Bradley left El Paso to make his first trip around the world.  Of a roving disposition he did not seem to be able to stay in one place very long.  He was gone eight or nine months and came back to take his position with McLein again.

     "He had become a square gambler and the house of which he was manager for McLein was lucky, winning a lot of money.  John Bradley left El Paso for good about 1889, having accumulated a good start from the profits of the McLein house in the Center Block.

​Established Resort in Florida.

     "He and McLein went together and established a big gaming house in St. Augustine, Florida, later establishing another at Palm Beach, Florida.  Both of these places they own today.  They also gambled in the east, owning gambling houses in Chicago and New York, and became millionaires several times over.

     "When John Bradley found himself in a financial position that allowed him to do so he began to gratify his hobbies, which had been in his interest always.  One of his most predominant hobbies is hunting big game in out of the way places.

Spent $20,000 on African Hunt

     "About three years ago he equipped a hunting party at a cost of $22,000 which went into the inner-most depths of Africa and he invited me to go, but I was unable to do so.  Later he sent me dozens of photographs of the trip, showing himself and others of the party sitting upon rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers and lions which had been killed in the most unknown and little explored portions of the dark-continent.

​Book of Trip Cost $2,500

     He wrote a book of the trip, giving a number of photographs, and had the book printed for private circulation.  Each one of the party received a copy and he sent one to me.  I presume that not more than three or four dozen of the books were printed, but he wrote me that they had cost him $2,500.  They were got up in an elaborate and artistic style and I value mine highly." 

Wrote Before Leaving on Trip

     "He wrote me from Boston under date of July 1st when his present expedition started out and he said that he was simply making a trip for big game of the Arctics.  I notice that the dispatches say the party intend making a try for the North Pole, so I suppose they have decided to hunt for the most northern point while they were at it."

     Eggers has a large number of photographs of both John Bradley and his brother, taken in various places as they sat at gambling tables and as they stalked big game through the unexplored jungles of little known parts of the earth.  Several of these pictures decorate the walls of his saloon and others are carefully preserved in photograph books.

​Ed. Bradley Also Millionaire

     "As John Bradley has prospered, so has his brother, Ed.," continued Eggers, "Ed. Bradley is himself several times a millionaire and is interested in various enterprises.  He owns a big tailoring establishment in Chicago, is interested in various other mercantile establishments and owns a large and valuable string of race horses.

     "He owns a horse race breeding farm near Lexington, Kentucky, where he breeds some of the best animals in the country.  This farm is of itself said to be valued at $500,000."

     In his letter to Eggers, just before leaving on his polar expedition, Bradley enclosed a clipping from the New York Herald giving an account of the trip he was to undertake.  The Herald says:

     "To hunt the polar bear, the musk ox, the walrus and the caribou at home in the shadow of the north pole not only with his rifle but with a moving picture machine as well.  Is the summer vacation planned by John R. Bradley, an amateur sportsman of New York City.  He will depart on July 1 to board his auxiliary schooner at Boston.  Dr. Frederick A. Cook, former companion of Robert E. Peary, veteran of Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, will accompany him."

     Mr. Bradley has landed in every part of the world except the vast, unexplored territory of the Arctic Circle.  He has made several trips to Africa and to Asia and has covered almost every foot of big game country in the United States and the northwest.  He was in Mongolia last year seeking the long-haired cave tiger.  Before that he was in Thibet, where he obtained specimens of one of the rarest of mountain sheep.

      For his coming voyage, Mr. Bradley purchased a Gloucester fishing schooner, 118 feet over all, and installed in her a powerful engine.  She has had her sheathed with three inch oak and reinforced   inside and out.  He will take a large crew, with officers and an ice pilot, and does not expect to return until the latter part of the year.

     "We will go up the west coast of Greenland, "said Mr. Bradley yesterday, "and hunt caribou for a time."  From there we go to Melville Bay, from where I expect to get polar bear all the way up in Smith sound, which is seventy eight degrees north latitude, or within eight degrees of the "furthest north" reached by Peary.  On the islands of the sound and the surrounding mainland we hope to strike the musk ox and of course the walrus.  These will be particularly plentiful, I understand, in Hudson's Bay.  After that we will go south into Hudson Bay, turning into Chesterfield Inlet if the ice permits, where we will be able to hunt in the barren lands for musk ox.

      "Of course, I shall attempt to obtain some good specimens of game, but one of the interesting features of the expedition will be the taking of moving pictures.  I have used the camera largely in all my travels, and had arranged to take a moving picture machine with me last year, but I could not get film in Paris.  We hope now to photograph animals as they live and move."

     "While I am hunting," continued Mr. Bradly, "Dr. Cook will be pursuing his studies of the Eskimo.  He has made exhaustive studies of the tribes, and will complete them this year.  To him also the camera will be of great benefit. 

     Our schooner will not go into the smaller bays and inlets, for the risk of getting caught in the new ice would be too great, so we procured a 20 foot whale boat and put in her a 10 horse power engine, and on her a hooded cabin with accommodations for four men.  She is of light draught and can go anywhere, and if she should be caught by the ice, we can abandon her."

     Mr. Bradley said this would his last big hunt because, so far as he knows, the globe has no other big game country unexplored by him.   

El Paso Herald-Post,   Tuesday, August 7, 1962   Page 13

Old Wigwam Building Razed in 1912 Marked Change for El Paso

By Betty Pierce

     In the fall of 1912, El Paso was mourning the passing of a landmark.  The old Wigwam Building, the "first modern and pretentious two-story building ever erected on San Antonio street," was being torn down to make way for progress.

     The shades of bankers, dance hall girls, Gentleman Jim Raynor, "Red" Hart, the famous Cincinnati Lady orchestra, champagne and busy gambling tables haunted the rooms of the Wigwam.

El Paso Changed

     "It excelled any other of its kind," wrote L. H. Davis in the Herald.

     In the 30 years since the Wigwam was erected, El Paso had changed.  Culture had invaded the city, and the dance-hall had given way to the theater an the country club.  The "wide open" town of the  80s had taken on a veneer wich muted the noisier elements by the year 1912.

     "Society" was greatly influenced by "the east," -- especially New York -- and genteel entertainments were provided, church attendance flourished, and civic betterment groups were waging a valiant effort to stamp out the baser elements, although in some places they were forced to stamp lightly.

Ball Every Week  

     In those days the social lines were not closely drawn and most of the dancers were from the underworld," write Davis of those early days at the Wigwam.  "Males were composed of all classes of men.  There was a real 'sound of revelry' by night, and some of our now venerable and saintly pioneers mingled in the giddy maze."

     The Wigwam had been El Paso's social center.  There was a fancy dress ball once a week and a dance every night and other forms of entertainment.  The building housed a saloon and a restaurant second to none in the southwest, expensively furnished and elegantly maintained.

     The expense and elegance seem to have been lost on a certain element of the patronage, however, as Davis recalls that one New Year's Eve there was a roman candle battle "between the inmates of the Wigwam and a rival saloon across the way called the Bacchus."

     "The battle was so fierce taht in the morning all the glass fronts and windows of both saloons were smashed.

     Bradley, one of the owners of the Bacchus, was the New York millionaire who financed Dr. Cook's expedition to the North Pole, and one is led to wonder whether the expedition was more expensive than that New Year's Eve in El Paso.

     Legend has it that Maury Edwards suddenly went bald one night in the Wigwam when "Red" Hart pulled out a sawed off shotgun and began to mix it up with Gentleman Jim Raynor, and Edwards hid under the billiard table until the smoke cleared away, while the other customers exited through doors an windows.

     The razing of the old Wigwam Building, made room for a theater, to be run by Campbell and Winch, and it is doubtful that anything shown on the stage or the screen could ever match the drama of the scene paled out in the old Wigwam. 

Wigwam Saloon - Across the street from the Bacchus - Demolished 1912

El Paso Herald-Post   Thursday, May 23, 1974   Page 9


Mother of All-Time Great Winner Sneaked Across Rio-Grande

Kentucky Derby Founders Held Close El Paso Ties

By William C. McGraw

     Few El Pasoans who watched Commander thunder down the straightaway at Louisville's Churchill Downs and win the 100th running of the Kentucky Derby, know of this city's close association with the history of this classical race.

     To begin with the famous "Run for the Roses" was started by a cousin of the late Gen. William J. Glasgow, who celebrated his own 100th anniversary eight years ago at his residence on McGoffin Street where his daughter, Octavia still resides.

    SECONDLY, it is likely there would not be a Kentucky Derby, and certainly it would not be run at a place called Churchill Downs if Gen. Stephen Watts Kearney had not wed a beautiful St. Louis belle named Mary Radford.  it was General Kearney's forces who placed most of the land between El Paso and California under the American flag -- but that is another story.  

     THIRDLY, many of the Derby records, and the most unusual ones were set by horses owned  and brad by an Irishman who once lived at 604 North Oregon Street --  where the house of Carpets is today -- and who had a place of business at 107 San Antonio Street, where the American Furnituer Co. store now stands.

   As if this weren't enough for the area.  It is furthermore evident that a former manager of the Juarez Race-track made the Kentucky Derby the noted event it has become, while a noted Juarez filly, called Useit was sneaked across the Rio Grande into the United States and later became the mother of one of the all-time great Kentucky Derby winners, Black Gold.

     THE KENTUCKY DERBY was conceived by Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. who built the famous race course and named it after his mother, Abigail Churchill.  The interesting thing is that Abigail was almost  NOT his mother. His father, Meriwether Lewis Clark Sr., had planned to marry the St. Louis belle, Mary Radford, but his family strongly opposed the union because Meriwether was not only her stepbrother, but first cousins as well so she married Kearney.

     Meriwether, Sr. didn't give up easily, though, for when the then Major Kearney was wooing the St. Louis beauty, Meriwther was attending West Point. He heard about the proposed nuptials, however, and on the day Mary and Kearney were to be wed, Meriwether returned to St. Louis and he convinced her that she was making a mistake that she didn't show up at the alter and Major Kearney paced back and forth alone.

     THE WEDDING was postponed until the next day, and Mary finally decided against marrying her cousin and step-brother.  She went through with the wedding with Kearney and Meriwether remained a bachelor for four years at which time he returned to his father's home state of Kentucky and there married Abigail Churchill  of the same family as the late Sir. Winston.

     There first son was Meriwether Leis Clark Jr., and it was he  who established the Derby in 1875, after spending several years in Europe, studying the races and courses there.  He copied the Derby after the Epson Downs, England.  He named the Kentucky course Churchill Downs, because it was from his mother's family he acquired the land upon which it was built.  

     MERIWETHER Lewis Clark, was called "Lutie" by his family and it was by this name he was addressed by his aunt "Tee" who was Harriet Kennerly Radford Clark, mother of General Glasgow and grand-mother of Octavia.

     Now about the Irishman who dominated so many Derby races for so long a time and who lived in El Paso.  He was Colonel Edward Riley Bradley, often written about by El Paso's Owen P. White and J. D. Pender, the latter one-time editor of the Times.

     Bradley, born in 1859 at Johnstown, Pa., came to New Mexico with his brother, John in 1880 to mine at Kingston and Hillsboro.  Although they were strong and finely built men, they were too small for the mines, so turned to gambling under the tutelage of Lucille Dino and her husband, Frank Thurmond, later to become beloved pioneers of Deming.  It must be remembered that in those days gambling was an honored profession.

     AROUND 1882 Ed Bradley left his brother, John, to run their place in Kingston and he moved to El Paso, bringing with him a former deputy of Bat Masterson's, a fast gunman. named Michael McLean, and one of the world's greatest dealers, Del Betterworth.

     Bradley, as a good luck omen, called everything he owned with a name beginning with a "B' and that held for his gambling casinos as well as his thiroughbredd runners.  So when he opened his elegant casino at 107 San Antonio Street, he called it the Bacchus.  Ed turned over the first floor saloon and profits to McLean and Butterworth while he retained management of the games on the second floor.

     THE INSTITUTION thrived, but Ed had his eyes on greener pastures back east, so he sold out the Bacchus to a gentleman named Si Ryan, known affectionately by his friends as "Three-fingers, " who until then had oper-ated a small place on Overland which he called the Cardiff Joint.  To demonstrate that he, too, had a touch of class, Three-Fingers renamed the Bacchus, calling it the Astor House.

     There is little doubt that the Bradleys were by far the classiest gamblers to grace El Paso table.  In addition to being honest, Pender called them intelligent young men...both athletes...crack shots with pistol or rifle...Beau Brummels...intolerant of shabbily dressed men."  Uncle Jimmy McKenna, who knew them at Kingston. wrote that "only a square game was ever backed  by Colonel Bradley's money." 

     AND A GOOD chunk of Bradley's money was handed over to McLean before the brother's left., for Ed  backed his former partner in the purchase of a majority interest in the Wigwam, which was to become El Paso's most notorious gambling emporium.  Minority interest owner in the Wigwam was Theo Eggers.

     Bradley soon established the Idle Hour Farms near Lexington to further his breeding ambitions and went out to bid in top horses over the competition of such notables as the Wideners and the Vanderbilts.  His foundation sire was a horse called Black Toney.

     From the on, he was always a top contender for the Derby honors, and was the only owner ever to see his horses run one-two in two different Kentucky Derby races.  That's domination -- not withstanding Mrs. Tweedle's fine entries.

     In the 1921 Derby, Colonel Bradley's Behave Yourself came in first, followed by his other horse, Black Entry, and five years later another Bradley colt, Bubbling Over, came pounding down the stretch to nudge another Bradley horse Bagenbaggage, out of the winner's circle.  But that is not all, he had many other winners.

     I was fortunate enough to be standing in the last turn at Churchill Downs in 1933 to see Head-Play, ridden by Herb Fisher, drift wide and allow Don Meade to guide Broker's Tip along the rail and take the lead.

     Broker's Tip, another Bradley horse, started his move and Fisher reached out. grabbing Meade by the silks to hold him back.  Meade whacked Fisher across the nose with his whip and the blood started to fly.  Fisher grabbed at Meade's saddle and thus they went battling down the long straightaway at Churchill Downs with Bradley's entry crossing the wire first.  Fisher's foul claim was not allowed, since he started it. 

     Matt Winn is the racing genius who made the Kentucky derby what it is today, and he also managed the track at Mexico City and Juarez in the early years of this century.  While he was running the Juarez track, a filly named Useit, who had won 25 six furlong races, was entered in a Juarez feature.

     The filly was owned by R. M. Hoots, who heard nobody would claim his jewel, but a sharpy named Tobe Ramsey filed a claim, so Hoots rode Useit across the Rio Grande in the middle of the night and shipped her back to Kentucky.  There she was bred to Bradley's Black Toney, to produce Black Gold, which won the 1924 Derby.

     BRADLEY was responsible for many innovations.  For one, he had an oculist design a special pair of glasses for one of his race horses who couldn't see too well, and he designed and installed the first starting gate in 1928 at Fair Grounds, a track he then owned at New Orleans.  He also invented fiber skull caps for jockeys.

     In the early 1940s when Bradley was in his 80s, the old man had his private parlor car shunted off the Southern Pacific to California for a few days stay in El Paso to look over his old haunts.

     BOB INGRAM, the Herald-Post sports editor then, as now, went down to the railroad yards to interview the famous race track man and not once did Bradley ever mention he was a former El Pasoan.

     Owen P. White, the best writer El Paso ever produced, was difficult to fool, and he certainly had the number of the Bradley boys.   "The Bradley brothers," opined White sagely, "were not born until they were 45." 

A little note on Cy Ryan who became the owner of the Bacchus, renaming it the Astor House

November 09, 2010

Before Sun City, El Paso was Sin City

January 13, 2003

By Leon Metz / Special to the Times

......Most gamblers were transients. In 1902 an estimated 600 lived here, most of them making a living in 96 saloons.

But none of them in terms of style could touch Cy Ryan, the most colorful, flamboyant gambler ever to hit El Paso. Ryan opened the Mint Saloon at 207 S. El Paso Street, old timers remembering the location as the Alhambra Theater and later the Palace Theater.

Then Ryan went big time, opening the Astor House Saloon and Gambling Emporium at 107 San Antonio.

The gambling house ran wide open 24 hours a day. Celebrities passing through always made a point to stop in. Famed gunman and sports writer Bat Masterson spent time there, as did former world heavyweight champion, John L. Sullivan.

Loud in every sense, Ryan wore "expressive" raiment topped off with a silk stovepipe hat. When he spoke, the whole town heard him, and when he went to church, he dropped only coins in the collection box because they made such an impressive, noticeable clatter.

Every morning he threw open the doors of his saloon, tossing handfuls of coins into the street where boys would scramble for them.

Once each week, Pomroy Stables sent its finest hack to the Astor House, the horses shining and prancing, the driver dressed like a wealthy cab driver. Ryan's servants then trotted out with sugar, coffee, flour, meat, corn and whatever.

With Ryan looking like a European count, silk top hat never slipping, and with a crack of the whip, he and the coachman rumbled off in their chariot to distribute food to the poor in South El Paso.

The Astor House gambling emporium is gone, in its place a rather quiet parking lot alongside Pioneer Plaza, across the street from the Camino Real Hotel. Shoppers, businessmen, tourists and politicians stroll by with scarcely a thought to the showy events that once occurred there.

As for whatever happened to the colorful, high-stepping Cy Ryan, I have not the vaguest idea, but he brought a sense of style that's sorely needed today.

El Paso Hearld, El Paso, Texas,  Wednesday, May 31, 1905   Page 7




Stock is Sold to the Gem and a Jewelry store Store Will Occupy the Place That Was Once Most Noted Gambling House in Southwest

     The Astor House, one of the pioneer saloons of El Paso, closed its doors yesterday and from present indications the history of this famous resort is now all  recorded.  The suppression of gambling put it out of business, it is said.  As the Astor House and a saloon it is out of business forever and, although the deal has not been made public it is understood that one of El Paso's leading jewelry stores will soon occupy the building.

     Clarence E. Dixon, the proprietor of the Astor House, has sold his stock of wines and liquors to Joseph L. Koph, of the firm of Look and Koph, of the Gem saloon.

     When asked this morning if he intended to reopen the saloon, in the present location, Mr. Koph replied that he did not intend to do so.

     Further inquiry developed the fact that the Gem saloon did not intend to move into  this building as many had supposed.

     The stock of the two saloons will be consolidated, it is understood, and the Gem saloon when it vacates for Cannon Mercantile company, will probably move into the room now occupied by the D. & H. shoe store onc door north of the present location.

     The Astor House, situated at 107 San Antonio street, was one of the pioneer saloons of the city and in its early days as a money maker, it was such a success that foundations were laid for fortunes that have since grown to millions.

      Until the year 1888, the building was occupied by Kohlberg brothers with a cigar factory and store.  In this year they moved out and the Bradley Brothers, Ed and John, together with Messrs. McLean and Eggers, opened it up as headquarters for the Cactus Club and gave it that name.  Later, the name was changed to the Bacchus, while still under the same management.  In 1890 Col. Si Ryan bought it and it was changed to the Astor House, which title it retained until its close.

     The Asor House was in its time the most widely known sporting headquarters in the southwest,  In El Paso's palmy days of Monte Carlo fame.  From its opening under the Bradley Bros. in 1888 or 1889 until November 19, 1904, when the lid was put on for good in El Paso, gambling never ceased in this place, except during the short life of several reform movements that started at different times in its history.  All the gaming tables were run by three shifts of men, each shift working eight hours, and up until the memorable November 19, last fall, huge signs on the walls bore the words, "These games never close."  But about 10 o'clock on Saturday nigh, November 19, 1904

someone posted a blank piece of white paper over the word "never" on those signs and write "at midnight" after the word "close." and true to the revised wording of the signs open gambling disappeared at midnight from El Paso.

     During te two years the Bradley brothers and McLean and Eggers were in charge of the place, success unparalleled in the history of El Paso is said to have attended them, and the Bradley brothers especially laid the foundation of a fortune which has passed the million mark.  These two men who made their stake in this place now own, it is said, a greater part of Palm Beach, Florida, the noted millionaires' winter resort.

     About 1890 McLean and Eggers went across the street to the Wigwam and Si Ryan bought the place naming it the Astor House.  Later Ryan died.  His brother bought the lease and continuing the business but Clarence B. Dixson bought the lease and continued in charge until its close yesterday.  He prospered as the others had done, until gambling was closed, after which business waned until the place no longer paid him.

     Thus passes a relic of the early days which will never again return.  The Astor House will be replaced by a business of another sort which will more indelibly mark the passing of the border town and Monte Carlo of earlier days and bring just that much nearer the "Greater El Paso."     

El Paso Times,  El Paso Texas, Wednesday, August 1, 1894,   Page 7



The Games Are Running in the Gem and the Astor House-- "Watch the Play" is the Response to Inquiries -- County Clerk Thomas is Interviewed as to the Ryan Bond.

     Si Ryan, proprietor of the Astor House bar, and alleged partner in the Astor House gam-bling rooms, was yesterday arrested by Sheriff Simmons on a warrant issued by the county court clerk on information filed by County Attorney McGown.  Ryan at once gave bond in the sum of $500 for his appearance before the September term of the county court.  A. K. Albers and Phil Young becoming his sureties.  The warrant charges him, as proprietor, with allowing gambling on the premises of the saloon.

     "Watch the play," is the answer of the gambling house men when asked for their plans since the arrest of the proprietor of the Astor House.  They refuse to be interviewed and the "play may be watched literally, the while.  Last night both the Astor House and Gem were in full blast, though the playing was not heavy.  When spoken to about the situation and asked as to his plans, County Attorney McGown replied that he did not care to be interviewed, as he had his official duties to perform in the matter. "And these duties" he said, "Iam going to perform."



El Paso Times,  El Paso, Texas,  Fiday, October 19, 1888   Page 6

Horse Race.

There will be a free for all horse race Saturday evening at 2 o"clock, on the track north of the Texas & Pacific section house.  Ten dollars en-trance fee.  Three horses have already been en-tered, one by J. W. O"Neil, one by Jack Krater and one by by W. Johnson.  The race will be a quarter of a mile, three heats, the winner to take entire pool.  Hoeses can be entered up to hour of race by depositing entrance fee with Mr. Ed Bradley, at the Bacchus Saloon.

El Paso Times,  El Paso, Texas,   Saturday, July 6,  1889   Page 7

     Thursday night there was a regular pitched battle between the Bacchus and Wigwam saloons, the former gave a grand display of fireworks.  Roman candles and bombs were the arms used in the battle.

El Paso 1885  San Antonio Street

El Paso 1880

El Paso 1881

El Paso 1887

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