Western Fighters was first published by Hillman Periodicals in April 1948, The title would run for 43 issues until March 1953. Western Fighters, had the tag line 'True Stories ... Where The Gun Was Law!'. How much truth was in the stories is highly debatable. A couple of real life characters featured were Mickey Free and Charles Goodnight, both of whose lives were much more bizarre than the fictionalized accounts.
Mickey Free was born around 1847, the son of Jesusa Martinez and Santiago Tellez. The child was named Felix. After his father's death his mother moved to John Ward's ranch in the Sonoita Valley of Arizona, and Ward adopted Felix. On January 27, 1861, an Apache raiding party attacked the ranch and carried off the thirteen-year-old Felix Ward. He was brought up as an Apache warrior. Eventually Felix served as an Indian Scout for the U.S. Army. He gained his nickname 'Mickey Free', from a character in a popular book. Mickey Free could speak three languages Apache, Spanish, and English and moved easily between the different cultures. This made him somewhat of a folk hero. After he retired as a scout Mickey lived on the White Mountain Reservation, where many of his descendants still live.
Charles Goodnight was a very famous cattle rancher. Early in his life he helped the Texas Rangers 'rescue' Cynthia Ann Parker from an Indian camp. She had been captured when about ten years old. She then lived with the Comanches for nearly twenty-five years, forgetting about her past live. Cynthia Ann pined for her children and the Comanche way of life and tried to escape on a few occasions. Her son Quanah Parker became an important Comanche chief.
Goodnight eventually became a highly successful rancher. After the death of his wife Charles Goodnight remarried a 26 year-old nurse, he was 91. Her name was Corinne Goodnight and after the marriage she became Corinne Goodnight Goodnight. Although he was illiterate Goodnight was a benefactor to education. Eventually he lost his money investing in Mexican silver mines.
Which all goes to show that fact can often be stranger than fiction.
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