Tug of War


In 1860, a party of Texas Rangers killed a camp of Comanche Indians near Pease River. Afterward, they noted that one of the women they had captured had blue eyes. She spoke no English, but when Col. Isaac Parker mentioned that his 9-year-old niece Cynthia Ann had been abducted by Comanches 24 years earlier, the woman slapped her chest and said, “Me Cincee Ann!”

As it turned out, Cynthia Ann Parker had been kidnapped twice. In 1836, when she was 9, the raiding Comanches had slaughtered her parents and taken her with them. She adopted their ways, grew to womanhood, married a native man, and bore three children. Then in 1860 the raiding Rangers killed her husband and abducted her back into white society.

She would be transplanted a third time: Forty years after her death in 1870, her son had her disinterred and buried on an Oklahoma reservation, reuniting her finally with her native family.

Damn Rebs


A combination plow and cannon, patented in 1862 by C.M. French and W.H. Fancher:

As a piece of light ordnance its capacity may vary from a projectile of one to three pounds weight without rendering it cumbersome as a plow. Its utility as an implement of the twofold capacity described is unquestionable, especially when used in border localities, subject to savage feuds and guerrilla warfare.

“As a means of defense in repelling surprises and skirmishing attacks on those engaged in a peaceful avocation it is unrivaled.”


Account of Samuel Bisset, “famous for teaching quadrupeds to perform very remarkable actions,” given in John Platts, Encyclopedia of Natural and Artificial Wonders and Curiosities, 1876:

Being a man of unwearied patience, three young cats were the next objects of his tuition. He taught those domestic tigers, to strike their paws in such directions on the dulcimer, as to produce several tunes, having music-books before them, and squalling at the same time in different keys or tones, first, second, and third, by way of concert. … He procured a leveret, and reared it to beat several marches on the drum with its hind-legs, until it became a good stout hare. … He taught canary-birds, linnets, and sparrows, to spell the name of any person in company, to distinguish the hour and minute of time, and play many other surprising tricks; he trained six turkey cocks to go through a regular country dance.

“In the course of six months’ teaching, he made a turtle fetch and carry like a dog; and having chalked the floor, and blackened his claws, could direct it to trace out any given name in the company.”

Cheshire Cat Illusion

Sit with a blank white wall to your right. Have a friend sit facing you. Hold up a hand mirror between you, positioned so that your left eye sees your friend’s face and your right eye sees a reflection of the wall. Now sweep your hand in a circular motion across the wall. Your friend’s face will disappear except for his eyes and mouth, like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.

This is worth the trouble to try, as the effect is startling. Your friend’s disembodied eyes may float before you for five seconds if he doesn’t blink or smile.