Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dio's backstory, part one -- on the edge of the Comanacheria

this is the first post in a series describing Dio's background, copied and slightly re-edited from the Road to Deadwood forum:

By now, quite of few of you probably know this tale as I talk waaaaay too much. But maybe I can tie some loose ends together.

As you see her now, Dio is a middle aged, recovering alcoholic confederate widow, slowly trying to rebuild her life.

Diogenes Aurelia Kuhr was born in 1831, in West Central Texas, on the edge of the region known as the Comancheria--the land ruled by the Comanche people. Her grandfather, Marcus Aurelius Kuhr, and her father were former "mountain men" who had come to settle in Texas when it still belonged to Mexico. Her father married an Irish immigrant girl, who bore two daughters and a son. Diogenes was the middle child, and was apparently her grandfather's favorite. He taught her a number of things, including how to shoot his old long rifle, to track and hunt, and to play the fiddle. Along with some of the boys from neighboring ranches, she learned even more about riding, shooting, practical medicine and the fine art of creative profanity from "Cap" Johnson, an old Texas Ranger who lived in the vicinity. After a raid in which her brother Harry (Heraclitus Kuhr) was taken by the Comanches (and we assume killed), Dio's father suffered a breakdown and lost interest in everything, including his younger daughter.

As her mother and sister then focused on looking after her father, Dio moved in with her "Papaw Marcus," and he took full responsibility for raising her. She also spent a good deal of time in the company of two of the boys whose families lived nearby: Jack Kuhr (a distant cousin) and Sepp Bogart. They became best friends and were almost constantly together until Sepp, the son of educated German immigrants and oldest of the three, eventually went east to Cincinnati to study medicine. Then, when Dio was 14, Marcus ultimately suffered a wound in a Comanche raid that proved to be mortal.

In 1846, when Dio was only 15, her parents and sister died from what was most likely cholera, and Jack, only a few years older than her, took it upon himself to propose marriage. With the dust from an approaching Comanche war party on the horizon, they were more or less married by the same old Captain of Texas Rangers who had helped Marcus teach them about shooting from horseback and how to swear.

Their first years together were very hard, with Jack turning to rustling to feed them (and he may have done some other things that he never got around to telling Dio about). She gave birth to a son at the age of 16, but the baby, "lil' Jack," was sickly and died when only a few months old. They did eventually get a ranch started, hired on some cowboys and vaqueros, and began to make a go of life not far from where Dio had been born. A few years after they had established their ranch, Sepp returned from the east and became a partner with them. They did fairly well, in between the usual frontier disasters and Comanche raids. It was during one of these fights that Dio had the experience of taking a Comanche arrow out of Jack's backside, an event that she never tired of describing, often in rather graphic detail.

stay tuned for part two....


  1. I hope you've got plans to recounts some of these early days tales at some point - I'd love to know more about the struggles the old homestead faced.

  2. Hey that's a good idea, HB. I have often thought it might be fun and/or interesting to do something more with the Character of Papaw Marcus.