Mago Bill

I post a lot about Mago Bill. The following may help you to know why.

Mago Bill is a nickname I have given my paternal great grandfather. I have used the name Mago Bill for recent Blogs and in not so recent posts. I have done that because I believe that it inspires me to present you with more unusual and interesting backstories and histories in a variety of posts.

My sister, the genealogist of our family, introduced me to the existence of documentation of the life of M.William Sheehan. His existence had been unknown to us. We had not known his name or that he had been our paternal great grandfather. As I remember, my sister showed me that, he had been in the far south of Ireland and that he had immigrated to America when very young. We soon discovered that the initial, "M." In his name probably stood for Mago, a name not popular in the U.S. To me he promptly became Mago Bill, my inspiration.

Spanish speaking friends tell me that mago means magician in Spanish. Some of those friends tell me that "the three kings" or "the three wise men" who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were called magos. However, I have read that Mago was an important family name among the Carthaginian Phoenicians before Rome came of age and that later some of that family knew Hannibal.

Carthaginian traders and navigators came to Ireland to trade for tin and other precious metals. The brought so much knowledge of of the name Mago with them that it impress some of the people there. Seems inspiring to me. I tend to romanticize a bit.

About me. I am an old U.S. citizen living in Colombia.

You may expect future posts here to be short "essays" to deal with: citizenship, the USA, Ireland, Colombia, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Spain, Mago Bill and a lot more that I like to call culture


Chickamauga War

Our American ancestors, right from 1776, warred about as much as we war now. I hope to give you some brief histories of a few of those wars in the future. When you have questions I can add important points or data to one of those histories. 

Right now I will say a first bit about the "Chickamauga War."

Historians talk about the Chickamauga war, but I like to say "wars" because the Chickamauga wars started early and lasted long enough to change locations of and reasons for the killing. They paused killing to change locations and renew their reasons for killing.

Some call them the Cherokee wars. When Cherokee ancestors protected their families, tribe, and territory from the violence of our invading ancestors, our ancestors killed them; killed them man, woman, and child; killed them and took their homes and their land. Ancestors, theirs and ours killed each other. Our ancestors most often proved to be the better killers.

Even so, the Cherokee people, with the sometime help of other peoples such as the Muskogee and Shawnee, actively resisted for nearly a century. According to some histories, those wars continued for "only" 20 years. 

Much of those struggles took place in what we might call the northern tier of the southern states; states like Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, and North Carolina.

Mostly the Cherokee depended on their native allies, but they also allied themselves with the Kingdom of Great Britain to protect themselves from invasion and occupation by "Americans."

The Cherokee, it may well be remembered, are one of those people we called "civilized tribes." They were called civilized for a variety of reason; reasons such as their lifestyle; their way of dealing with others, and their knowledge of agriculture. They also married widely with Europeans from, perhaps, well before the first colonies were established in North America. The Cherokee, I believe, have long established bloodlines with Portuguese, Irish, Welsh, Scot and others.

During much of the most severe strife between Cherokee and American, an important Cherokee leader was Dragging Canoe.

Do you want to know why, besides, ignorance, these conflicts were called Chickamauga Wars rather than Cherokee Wars? Ask me or check with Wikipedia or Google.

The Cherokee are distant relatives of the Iroquois and spoke an Iroquoian language. They probably migrated south from Iroquois territory around the Great Lakes in pre-Columbian times. So, they may well have dispossessed others to claim the territory of those others.      









Chief Justice

It is my experience that many U.S. citizens were not pleased with Earl Warren's time on the Court. In reviewing some of his history, I find it pleasing, and the character of the man pleasing.

Let me recall a bit of what I have learned:

His father was an immigrant from Norway. My paternal grandmother's parents had roots reaching back to Norway. That may make me kin to Warren. Hope that doesn't prejudice this account.

He spent much of his childhood and youth in Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield is a town on the edge of the desert I have called home. Almost a homeboy.

He seemed to have had a strong dislike for mob action. I don't like it much either

Earl W. was a young charter member of Local 268 of the American Federation of Musicians. I am not a musician, but I have seen value in unity.

Warren quoted president Lincoln as saying, "I'm a slow walker, but I never walk backward." I am not exactly sure of what that means, but it does not seem a bad saying for a politician.

Well, now I feel interested in what Mr. Warren did as Chief Justice of our Supreme Court. I have walked backward from time to time, but just now I feel like working up a little essay on Warren's doings as Chief Justice.


by Richard Sheehan                                                                                                      for Mago Bill 























There Are Still Some democrats

In the distant past, there were democrats. In the recent past, there were democtats. There are still some democrats. A democrat might be thought of as a person believes in the people's ability to learn and to do. I know little about what those who call themselves democrats now are doing.  I do have a sharp emory of that which democrats have done in my lifetime. 

I hope you understand that I am not using "democrat" to refer to a member of a political party, but rather as one who holds a certain philosophical position. A Republican may be a democrat.

Democrats have tended to promote certain doings. Many of those doings tended to be definitive of their beliefs.

Democrats have promoted:

enhancement and protection of democracy among us.

the study of legislation affecting democracy.

vigorous ongoing education about the use and doing of democracy.

  • improved communication among political organizations and within them.
  • development of widespread leadership rather than of super-leaders.
  • enhanced education for participation in governance.
  • cooperative self-governance.
  • willingness to thoughtfully and promptly change a bad law for the better.
  • strong respect for law.
  • inclusivity and diversity in public life.
  • cooperation within and among groups.
  • knowledge of the history of democracy including its limitations and advantages.
  • respect for the varieties of democracy around the world.
  • our Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
  • loving care for each and every child.
  • respect and honor for the individual, the family, and the neighborhood.
  • more nearly equal opportunity for access to healthcare for each person. 
  • strong support for public health.
  • respect and support for the positions of minorities.
  • wide, ongoing educational opportunities for all. 


This list can be greatly increased.

However, there is already enough here to suggest planks for the platform of a present political party or candidate; or, for a new party or candidate.


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill 





Notes on the Colusa

I intend to write about the early people of North America from time to time. I'll begin now with notes on the great Colusa people. Here on Mago Bill, I hope to write enough about the Colusa to sharpen your interest in the people we have called Indians.  

In the 1500s the Colusa still controlled much of the southwest of what is now the state of Florida. They defended their land from the aggression of others, including Europeans. The Spaniards knew them as fierce.

The Caloosahatchee River, with its mouth on the southwest of Florida, was central to their lands.

They lived mostly along inland waterways and developed them for transportation and food production. The sea was also a source of food for them. They left middens of seashells large enough in size to compete with their great mounds and earthworks. They fished with nets and also trapped fish.

The Calusa may be directly related to the Paleoindians of 10,000 BC. They had seagoing vessels and were probably related to Caribean island people as well. In later years they were famous for their wide use of seashells.

They were physically well developed and in colonial times and later were known for being 3 to 4 inches taller than the usual European man.

The Colusa had a strong influence on the tribes around them. That influence, in some part, may have been due to their wide trading network. They typically used dugouts, for use at sea and along their inland waterways. They also built and used larger vessels. They visited the island we now call Cuba regularly and almost certainly sailed much farther into the Caribbean.

Their homes were built on platforms on pilings over the water. Their buildings had particularly handsome roofing of palmetto leaves. It is said some of their buildings were large enough to easily accommodate 2000 persons. They were excellent woodworkers and they did some fine wood carving.

They were also excellent farmers, sailors, fishermen, and traders. Their large gardens were often surrounded by canals and were built up and fertilized by dredging the canals. They are probably responsible for the construction of what we have called bayous.  


Their high-level culture has been dated to well before 100 BC. Many of their middens and earthworks have been dated to at least that time. And their culture may extend thousands of years before that time.

We have much to learn from and about these people. If you have anything to say about the Colusa please add it to the comment section.


by R.C.S.

for Mago Bill


James Hoban knew the White House Well

He was born in Ireland in 1758 and died in Washington, DC in 1831.

He did important architectural work in the Mid Atlantic and Southern states.  

He was the designer and architect of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Mr. Hoban also supervised the restoration of the White House after it was destroyed in the War of 1812. 


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago  Bill


Your "revolution" and Napoleon's

Napoleon Bonaparte, a leading republican of Europe, was willing to become Emperor of France. Most of Republican France welcomed Napoleon as Emperor! There may be a lesson or two to be learned from that bit of history.

Napoleon did bring reforms to Europe in the fields of education, science, and in a variety of cultural areas. Some of those works of his could be called republican. 

The legal system called the Napoleonic Code influenced most of Europe and much of the Eastern world. Much of the law of the U.S. state of Louisiana was founded on Napoleonic law.

Napoleon was a warrior. a leader of armies. Some say he won a war against Russia. To attack Russia, he left home with half a million men, the largest army to be assembled in Europe until that time. He returned home with about 20,000 men and "the shirt on his back."

He met his Waterloo in a battle against Prussia and GB, in which Prussia saved Britain's bacon. 

After Waterloo GB, Spain, Prussia, Russia, Austria, and others joined one another for suppressing liberal movements throughout Europe.

Lessons might begin with questions like:                                                                                                               

  • Why do the histories of so many revolutions seem revolting?
  • Why might a republican be willing to become an Emperor?
  • What could be the responsibilities of the citizens of a republic?
  • Where might your revolution be headed?


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill




Grasslands of South America: some short notes

In North America, there are prairies and plains. In South America there are pampas and llanos. All four are relatively level grasslands.

In the south of South America one often hears the word pampas. In the north of that continent, one more often hears the word llanos. All of these wide grasslands have their stories. The following may be taken as a kind of appetizer for those stories. 

Only 10,000 years ago people were killing and eating doedicurus not far from the present location of the great Argentinian city of Buenos Aires. I case you are not well acquainted with the doedicurus, they are a kind of glyptodont. You might  want to call those doing the killing and eating, America Indians.

In the late 1500s Spanish Americans began to settle the pampas. By 1833 there were about 40 million (million!) head of 'wild' cattle on the Argentinian grasslands. These cattle were the offspring of those bought and "lost" by the earlier explorers and settlers. Sounds reminiscent of happenings in North America, doesn't it? During the increase of these heards on the Pampa there was a decrease in the numbers of Native Americans there. Between that 'increase' and 'decrease' one might imagine an interesting story or two.

Heading to the north of the continent we could learn about Laneros, men and women of the llanos. Llaneros formed most of Bolivar's cavalry. That cavalry did much to overthrow Spanish rule over the people of the continent in the 1820s.  Descendants of those Llneros can still be found in the llanos of Colombia and Venezuela. Some of them now resist the dominion of "Yankee Capital and Imperialism." I famous old song contains the refrain, "Sobre mi caballo, solo yo; y sobre yo solo mi sombrero" Its about liberty and freedom. In English, it might go "Over my horse, only me; and over me, only my hat." 

Among the first noted horsemen to explore the llanos were German "conquistadors" who's patrons had loaned vast sums of money to Spanish royalty. What did influential Spaniards do with the wealth they gained from their "new world" colonies? What did influential Americas do with the enormous wealth they gained from the great America empire? The sponsors of the three German groups sent to South America gained little wealth from their ventures. Still, Spaniards were able to pay their much of their debts, and Germans profited from starting and running the first South America airlines.

About 270 years after the first Germans were allowed to explore the llanos the Spanish allowed another prominent foreigner into South America and its llanos. That person was the baron Alexander von Humbolt.  Every educated American and European ought to know that name. I do not think that he began his travels as baron, but I choose to call him so. The baron was a Prussian naturalist and much more. He would become the father of modern geography and.... except for Napoleon ... the best known European of his time.

I think that Humbolt told the story of a camp on the llanos where his host was so disturbed early one night, that the baron too felt the disturbance. Unknown to either of them, in the dry packed earth directly beneath his host's hamaca, a very large alligator-like animal was hibernating through the dry season. Just as his host was composed for sleep, something disturbed the crocodilian. To the surprise of all, it erupted from the earth noisily. However it soo left; with an evident air of disgust; one imagines to, to find a more peaceful resting place. The camp too was soon resting peacefully.   



by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill