It’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ve been working on another project that I’m really excited about — a book about a 1901 court case. It was originally going to be a post on this blog but I kept digging and learning more interesting things about the story, so it’s going to be a book instead.

For tonight, I have something unrelated and magnificent.

Let me introduce you to Judge Nathan Q. Tanquary, of Fort Stockton, Texas. We meet him in the spring of 1913, when he is about 58 years old. Prior to moving to Texas, the judge lived in Denver, Colorado, where he built his career. From all accounts, the judge was beloved by all.  The papers described Nathan Q. as “a man of fine character and genial manners”.

I should warn you, it’s probably wise to take the newspaper accounts of the judge with a grain of salt, since they appear to be so star-struck by him. Beginning in 1896, the press ran regular, fawning coverage of the judge and whatever he happened to be doing, even if that was nothing. Here are a few examples:

The Columbus Daily Advocate, June 1900
        Lead Daily Call, January 1907


The Columbus Daily Advocate, May 1911








When he moved to Texas, Fort Stockton quickly recognized Judge Tanquary as a state treasure. The El Paso Herald wrote that after just two years, the judge already enjoyed “great popularity and influence” in the Lone Star state.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly for Judge Tanquary… until March 15, 1913. Beware the Ides of March! The judge had gone on a business trip but did not return when expected. His wife Lillian, growing anxious, managed to arrange for a search party to go out and find her husband. Unfortunately, the posse didn’t find Nathan Q…. and what they did find made things look bad for the judge.

The morning headlines in the El Paso Herald told the terrible tale:

El Paso Herald, March 1913


It seemed there was no hope for the judge… or was there? When the posse came back without the judge’s body, people began to wonder if the esteemed judge might be alive after all. Wild conspiracy theories began to emerge, like The Herald’s speculation that Nathan Q. has lost his mind and is wandering on the mesas.

But then, incredibly, two cablegrams from the judge himself arrived. The messages were fairly cryptic: he simply said he was in Peru and starting for home.

El Paso Herald, March 1913


El Paso Herald, Apr 9,1913












So, what happened to Judge Tanquary? How did he leave from Texas to drive to Colorado, then disappear for a month – only to resurface in Peru?

The celebrity judge did not let his people down: as a matter of fact, he published the whole story.  Stay tuned for the follow up post!

Just over 100 years ago, on a warm and festive day in June 1913, Emily Wilding Davison made history at a horse race at Epsom Downs.

Emily Davison3

Davison wasn’t merely a spectator at the race. She was there on a mission. And, in a way, she was a celebrity in her own right. At any rate, she was well-known to authorities.

Prior to 1908, Davison would have been notable primarily as a woman with more education than most, and one who had a real career.

Emily Davison4

In 1906,  she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Two years later, Davison quit her job to devote herself to the suffragette movement.

Emily Davison

Davison’s intelligence was evident, but she was also a violent person. She may well have been unstable. Her crimes included smashing windows, throwing stones, disrupting the peace, arson, and physical attacks. She was arrested and jailed nine times.
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Over time, Rasputin became more and more necessary to the Romanovs, at least in Alexandra’s opinion. The monk gradually became a fixture in the palace. He was given unrestrained access to the palace and was casually familiar with the family. Despite the rumors and substantiated stories, nothing could harm him with the Romanovs.

tsar and children
(L-R) Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the Tsarevich Alexei


People noticed it, and reacted with resentment. In a sign of imminent trouble, suggestive cartoons appeared in the newspapers, disrespectfully portraying the tsar and tsarina as manipulated children, and the tsarina as Rasputin’s lover. This is stunning, given the newspapers were censored. Even a year earlier, no editor would have had the courage to print them.

cartoon 2

A suggestive cartoon that appeared in a St. Petersburg newspaper in 1916
A suggestive cartoon that appeared in a St. Petersburg newspaper in 1916


If there was any doubt in the minds of Nicholas and Alexandra, it disappeared when Alexei had another scare. Rasputin was in Siberia when Alexandra’s frantic telegram arrived: the doctors said the boy couldn’t live through the night. Rasputin responded immediately, reassuring the Empress that God had heard her prayers and Alexei would recover.

The next day the tsarevich was better. After that, nothing could dislodge Rasputin.

Alexandra and Alexei
The Empress Alexandra with the tsarevich



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