Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Celtic Knot in Our Tree of Life

Looking forward to returning to Tombstone with my soul-mate, Dan.

Our last visit was in celebration of our engagement. It was very meaningful to us. We discovered our own, "Tree of Life." The gnarled roots of the Tombstone Rose bush formed a Celtic knot. It's tiny roses were in full bloom symbolizing our hearts opening to each other.

The clipping we took home to commemorate Dan moving in.

Our little tree today, still thriving after 7 months. 
(Be durned if I'll let it die, it representing our relationship and all. lol)

Can our "tree of life" hold up to the weight of our first Christmas? 

Yes! It can! 

Our "tree of life" on our one year and one month anniversary! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Who Snatched Geronimo's Gun?

Seeking inspiration to rehearse my dramatic reading of the Clum letters, I watched the "true story" of John Clum capturing Geronimo in "Walk the Proud Land" (starring Audie Murphy). 

What fun! It was even shot at Old Tucson Studios! Perfect way to get in the spirit for our trip to Tombstone! Trailer highlights such as Ann Bancroft's sprayed on tan, Audie's full head of hair (John Clum was prematurely bald), and the hilarious musical theater war dance, should have clued us in on the film's authenticity. But the claim that it was a true story sent me and my beau on an ardent search for the facts. After all, it was based on the book, "Apache Agent: The Story of John P. Clum," by his son, Woodie. 


As research for my dramatic reading, I read several letters that the Clums wrote to each other during this time period (1886). It was interesting to discover what Mary meant when she wrote to her mother-in-law, "I fully appreciate the many trials and temptations he must encounter."  The movie dramatizes that temptation with an Apache widow that the chief gives to John. In reality his wife never comes to the reservation to confront the widow, like she does in the film. Nor do they get married in Tucson. The historical letter includes a detailed description of their wedding in Delaware, Ohio, surrounded by Mary's family. 

It is probably more accurate to say that the film is "inspired by a true story." John Clum did in fact fight for the rights of the San Carlos reservation Indians to govern and police themselves. He created a troop of very successful Apache police who even protected settlers from violent Apaches. 

In the movie there is just one chief and a few under chiefs living on the San Carlos reservation. In reality there were several chiefs and their tribes. (I realize this is a plot convention used to tighten the story.) Word arrives that Geronimo's renegades have been attacking settlers and are on the Ojo Caliente reservation. The movie has Clum deciding spontaneously to go after Geronimo, when actually the Commissioner of Indian Affairs directed him to do it. (With a promise of backup troops if needed.)

In the movie Clum has a handful of Apache police with him when he approaches Geronimo, and a scheme (inspired by a biblical story) in which a few Indians surround them in the mountains and shoot off their guns - the echo making them sound more numerous than they were. In reality, Clum found Geronimo on the Ojo Caliente reservation (abandoned by the Indian Agency). Clum had 20 braves with him as he approached the chief. There were 80 more hiding in the commissary poised for a clever ambush that intimidated Geronimo's renegades into surrendering. The next day the cavalry comes to the rescue, marching in formation, flags and pennants flapping. Clum is lounging with his legs up and casually points out Geronimo already shackled in chains. He and his Apache police had captured the great warrior Geronimo without firing a shot.

But what about Geronimo's gun? In real life, John just snatches Geronimo's gun, Geronimo pulls a knife on him, but one of the Clum's Apache police relieves Geronimo of his weapon. In the movie, there is skirmish including some gun shots and John ends up with the gun. I like the actual incident better. History was more compelling than the movie.  

Unfortunately, the movie inspired this blog entry instead of my rehearsal. Leaving tomorrow for Tombstone! My reading is Friday afternoon! Better get at it! Wish me luck!

The Clum Letters: Through the Eyes of Mother Clum

While preparing for my dramatic reading at Tombstone Territory Rendezvous, I conducted research on Epitaph editor and Indian agent John Clum (He actually captured Geronimo!) at the U of A Special Collections library. After poring over Clum family letters, I have decided to portray John Clum's mother reading letters from her son and his wife, Mary. I plan to include: the first letter Mary wrote to her new mother-in-law in which she shares the details of their wedding, Mary's last letter before dying in which she tells about her life in Arizona, and John's letter sharing the sad news of his dear wife's death (as well as the newspaper clipping he enclosed.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dear Maddie: Researching Tombstone Mayor John Clum's Letters to His Dear Wife (or They Actually Let Me Touch Historical Letters!)

Researching John and Mary Clum in Special Collections at the U of A.

by Jana Segal

It had been a few years since I performed the dramatic reading of John Ringo's mother's pioneer diary at Tombstone Territory Rendezvous, so I was eager to perform another historic reading. TTR organizer, Jean Smith, suggested that I do something on the wife of one of the mayors of Tombstone since this year's program already included several prominent men. I googled "mayors of Tombstone." At the top of the list were the current mayor of Tombstone and John Clum. John Clum - Earp supporter, Epitaph founder, and Indian agent! His wife at the time was Mary Clum. I was intrigued to find out more about her. Someone was already scheduled to do a presentation on Mayor Clum based on Gary Ledoux's new book, so Mrs. Clum would fit in nicely. Following that lead, I discovered Gary Ledoux on facebook and asked him if he had any copies of the Clums' letters. He didn't, but he graciously sent me some pages from his book that included excerpts from Clum's April 16th letter to his wife (written while serving at the Southern Apache Indian Agency where he captured Geronimo.) I had a date to work with! A google search for that letter, led to a collection of the Clums' letters in the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections.

I was tickled to find how easy it is to look up historic documents at Special Collections. The research librarians were so helpful bringing up boxes full of folders with letters, newspaper clippings, and old photos. (I imagined them scooting their little cart by row after row of artifact boxes like the iconic scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark.") Plastic envelopes held the fragile, aging letters. I couldn't believe that I was allowed get my grubby mitts (or white gloves) on 130 year old love letters! I read Clum's letter to Major J. F. Wade from the the 9th Cavalry detailing the capture of Geronimo. I struggled to decipher the Clums' messy handwriting and smiled at their gushing affection. Finally, I happened onto John's letter to his mother sharing the heartbreaking news of his wife's death. Profoundly touched, I knew that I had to share their story with a dramatic reading of their letters.

Tombstone Territory Rendezvous will be held October 29th to November 2nd.