Frontier Doc

Not-So-True True Grit

matt-damon_laboeuf_mattie_texas-rangerFour riders surrounded the Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Matt Damon).

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Sioux Success, Against All Odds

charles_alexander_eastman_sioux_doctor_american_indians_ohiyesaOn May 28, 1868, during a U.S. Congress floor debate about an Indian appropriation bill, Montana Territory representative James M. Cavanaugh remarked, “...I 
will say that I like an Indian better dead than living.”

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Too Much Sun

The snow-blind trapper.

In mid-January, the high country was covered with snow, three feet in places.

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TB Havens in the Old West

frontier-doc_tuberculosis-sanitariums_doc-hollidayRecall that powerful scene in the 1993 movie Tombstone in which Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell)  sat by the bedside of his dying friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), playing cards.

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Jesse Blue Eyes

From what malady did Jesse James suffer?

Jesse James' strongest features were his soul-piercing crystal blue eyes.

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Spittle, Flies and Dixie Cups

frontier-doc_dr-samuel-jay-crumbine_public-healthThe Old West frontier town was dirty, dusty, smelly and often dangerously unhealthy.

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The Myth of the Single Shot Kill

Hollywood has blown it way out of proportion. 

Is it physically possible to stop a man dead in his tracks?

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Docs, Dentists & Booze

frontier-doc_brewster-higley_home-on-the-rangeAmerican Western lore has spawned many stereotypical depictions of men and women in various professions ranging from sheriffs to prostitutes to men of medicine.

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What's in His Head?

How much schooling did frontier docs really have?

In his 1910 treatise, Medical Education in the United States and Canada, Mr. Abraham Flexner reported the following startling words to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching:

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Worms, Lice and Nothing Nice

sargent-nebraska-1886Dr. Harold Brown (my professor at Dartmouth Medical School in 1975) wrote a masterpiece titled Basic Clinical Parasitology.

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Feel Lucky, Clint?

A wound of wonder in Two Mules for Sister Sara.

During the medically captivating scene in 1970’s Two Mules for Sister Sara, Hogan (Clint Eastwood) lay in pain for about 70 minutes after being shot through the shoulder by a Yaqui Indian Arrow.

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Strychnine, Hollywood Style

matt-dillonIn the Old West, the rancher’s cupboard contained a myriad of hazardous substances, ranging from rat poison and lye (caustic soda for making soap) to lead bars (to melt and cast into bullets) and patent medicines containing mercury, arsenic and even cocaine.

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Spilling the blood on Old West cinema fistfights.

“Mellow-Trauma” appears dozens of times in just about every Western movie where the prerequisite for success is at least one and, better yet, even two fistfights.

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Baits, Traps and Old West Rats

How the realization that rats spread disease led to improved bait methods.

In the Frontier West, and throughout history, rats and men have lived in a delicate, fascinating equilibrium.

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Eye Tech in the Old West

Diagnosing cataracts on the frontier.

Fictional frontier doctor Elijah Baines quietly studied his rancher patient, 57-year-old J.M., who presented with a two-year history of decreasing vision.

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A Deadly Oasis

What often poisoned thirsty desert travelers at Old West water holes? 

It occurs naturally, everywhere in the West.

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Sawbones, Literally

Let’s revisit those beginning scenes in Dances With Wolves, when Lt. Dunbar (Kevin Costner) is lying, bootless, with an injured right foot in the surgical tent awaiting medical attention.

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Frontier Headache

Head injuries faced by cowboys bucked off their trusty horses.

One of the most unpredictable, harrowing, sometimes embarrassing and always painful misfortunes that a cowboy could expect in the Old West was being bucked off, knocked off or even shot off his trusty horse.

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An Insane Treatment

A 1967 ABC episode of The Big Valley illustrated the institutional horrors faced by mentally ill persons and those “undesirables of troublemakers” who could be made to disappear from society by powerful men.

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Dust, Death and Disability

How the power of wind and dust inspired fear on the frontier.

Dust storms undoubtedly inspired heroic resolve in some pioneers committed to the land, while causing madness, disease and disability in those less able to cope with this chaotic distuption of their lives.

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A Hair-Raising Tale

Going bald has never been more painful.  

The origins of scalping during warfare seem to originate hundreds, if not thousands of years ago in Europe and may have been practiced on this continent in pre-Columbian times, as well.

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True Westerners

Rick Wallner

Rick Wallner

The best book on Bent’s Fort is David Lavender’s Bent’s Fort , although Mark Lee G...

Justice for Jack

Justice for Jack

Pioneer Jack Swilling should be remembered for his many contributions to Arizona...

Liberty, Not Death

Liberty, Not Death

Children soothed their thirst by scraping their fingernails on barrack windows t...

MAY 2015

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JUNE 2015

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JULY 2015

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True West Magazine Issue August 2015
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True West Magazine Issue September 2015
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True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!

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