THE GUNSLINGERS

Allen Bell aka Marshal Al Jennings 

Walking by Six Gun Territory in 1963, the sound of the train whistle drew Allen Bell’s attention and curiosity…the rest is history. He applied for a job initially running the sky ride and working on the train, but the lure of the gunfights is what really grabbed his attention – and held his love for all things Six Gun! He began as an outlaw and roof man, eventually becoming Marshal Al Jennings. He loved being a cowboy, and he especially loved meeting little children. That’s how he met Penny and her two little boys in 1973.  (They married in 1974.) 

Allen worked in many areas of Six Gun throughout the years until its closure. Marshal, outlaw, foreman, maintenance, train, sky ride…there was no job too big or small that he was not willing to do for this place that held his heart. Eventually in 1980, Allen and Penny’s home was moved inside the park behind the back gate and the Funland pond. His heart broke when the park slowly died, then sold – and the contents auctioned off. He remained on site until the end of 1986 as Security – then went to work for the purchaser of the park at Mockingbird Farm. 

Allen passed this year (2018), but his joy of reconnecting with so many of the friends and co-workers he worked beside over the years at Six Gun meant so much to him. The Wild West Weekends at Kirby Family Farm made it all possible. This man loved Six Gun Territory – to the extent that he was often referred to as “Mr. Six Gun”.

 

Jim Pierce aka Cole Younger

In 1969, at the age of eighteen, I moved to Florida from Indiana.  I was hired at Six Gun Territory as a gunfighter and quickly came to love the cowboy role I assumed: Cole Younger.  I was privileged to work with both Allen Bell and Charles Pennington.  Cole Younger took on whatever he was called to do, whether it was as an outlaw, Deputy or Marshal, occasional announcer, or running the Red Dog Saloon.  It was a great time in my life and I loved working at Six Gun Territory. 

Within a few years, I moved on to other things, but I always held a fondness in my heart for Six Gun Territory and good memories of the people that I worked with and the visitors to the park.  In 2015, we started putting together our first Reunion and Wild West Weekend at Kirby Family Farm.  It was a great success with so many people who also cherished their memories of Six Gun. 

My wife, Robin and I enjoy a good life in Ocala, Florida.  God has blessed us with six children and nine grandchildren.  We both love participating in our Six Gun Territory Reunions and Wild West Weekend events.

Come out and see us!  We’d love to hear your Six Gun stories.   

Steve Spence aka Jake Mason

I came to Florida and worked at Six Gun Territory in 1971-1972.  I moved back to West Virginia in 1975 and worked in a machine shop.  After a 35 year career in the Dental industry, I am now retired.  Married to Patty for 18 years, we have 5 children, 4 daughters and one son.

I am still a Cowboy at heart.

Rusty Nelson aka Shootin’ Swede

I can always remember playing “Cowboy” as a kid. Loved the old cap guns. I’d get all decked out in my cowboy stuff and sit in front of the tv on Saturday mornings. Lost track of cowboys for about 30 years, I guess. Bought stuff for my two boys but they didn’t enjoy it like I did. Finally got interested in SASS and shot it for about 10 years. Won Florida State Championship in 2008 for Frontier Cartridge Duelist (even a blind horse…). During that time, I was asked to perform cowboy reenactments as part of the “Not So Young Guns.” We did 4 or 5 shows a year. We also did the first train robbery of “Old #2” in Eustis, Florida. This became a once a month performance for about 5 months in the summer as part of the “Shadow Riders.” Continued to do other local shows and finally came the “Six Gun Territory Reunion and Wild West Weekends.” I’ve been to all of these and made lots of new friends which is one of the best parts. Wow, just love this and it’s all for a worthy cause! Gettin’ older but hope to be able to continue for many more years.

Charles Pennington aka Marshall John Slade

I started working at Six Gun Territory in late 1968 and was there through early 1972. I began as a back gate guard working all 3 shifts on the weekend. Within a couple of weeks, I became a Gunfighter. I quickly learned all the parts in the show from the roof falls to the ‘Digger’ character. It wasn’t long before I was made Marshal and with the exit of Jim Cunningham, I became the Gunfighter Foreman. I was lucky to work with Allen Bell, Jim Pierce, Harold Hoy and Bert Wise.

It was a great time in a young man’s life. Now I am lucky to be doing our shows at Kirby Family Farm for charity. It has given me a chance to work with different generations of Gunfighters from the park and compare our experiences.

I am still humbled by the turn out for our shows and the impact Six Gun Territory had on people.

Greg Hugo

Currently Production manager of Panhandle Wild West Shows Actor Stuntman, Director, Producer, technical director and Jack of all Trades has been preforming shows in most of Florida, Georgia and Alabama doing historical recreations of actual events

Professional Training as a Stuntman at Old Tucson Studio’s Tucson Arizona 1977-Present Worked with directors, other actors and playwrights to interpret lines and develop blocking,  Studied scripts and rehearsed roles for 6 one act shows each month.

Actor offers 40 years in all aspects of the film industry, including concept development. Exceptional leader talented at Stunt Choreography, Weapons Handling and Armorer, Certified by the NRA as Range Safety Officer (RSO). Technically-savvy with outstanding relationship building, training and presentation skills. As a Stuntman with 40 years experience. Areas of expertise include Choreography ground stunts, fight scenes, sword fighting, gunfights and pratfalls.

 

Hung out with the Outlaws and Lawdogs during 2018 Sixgun Reunion

Gary F Smith (1974-1978)

Gary F Smith moved from Miami to Ocala early summer 1974.  Two high school friends introduced Gary to Earl Ledford, Supervisor of Fun Land at Six Gun Territory.  Earl hired Gary to work the rides in Fun Land—summer 1974.  Gary worked at Six Gun Territory in different capacities over the next few years, including as a member of the Dixieland Band, and as Supervisor / Operations of Fun Land.  Finally, in the summer of 1978, Gary worked as a gunfighter.  He used multiple gunfighter names, often filling in roles of those off work.  Gary is a large fan of westerns, and very thankful to have worked at Six Gun Territory.  After Six Gun Territory, Gary was active in Civil War Reenactments.

John T. McEarchern III aka JT Harding

I worked at Six Gun Territory in 1969.  I started in fun land as a “Carnie” and became the park manager’s go-to guy for all kinds of other duties.  I did maintenance on the Sky Ride and the Railroad. I worked the Front Station for a while and helped Allen Bell when he came back from his absence following an injury.  Together, we re-upholstered the Wild Mouse ride and the Sky Ride.

I went to school and became a design draftsman and worked for Nobility Homes for several years and then I went to work at Emergency One where I designed their first fire engines and fast attack fire apparatus.

I became a Volunteer Fire Fighter for East Marion VFD 1976, where I was a member for 15 years and became Fire Chief.  In 1977, I decided to go to the Florida State Fire College to take the Standards Course which would make me eligible to be a Professional Fire Fighter.  I worked for Orange Springs VFD for 6 months and was hired by the Ocala Fire Department in 1978. I spent 28 years working there and retired in 2005. At the end of my career I was the Reports Manager and got to go to the Nation Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland to be a certified.

I have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

It was one heck of ride.

Ken Kirby aka James “Slim Jim” Garrett

Riding and showing horses since I was two years old, I slid into the saddle and the cowboy mindset when TV and Hollywood were still making westerns left and right. Fast forwarding my life through the military, moving, other hobbies, and life in general, I came across a sport called SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) where, again, I could enjoy the Cowboy life through organized shooting competition. A couple years in, I was introduced to the sport of Cowboy Fast Draw which hooked me quickly. A Mexican loop holster (not the buscadero of Hollywood and TV), a late 1800’s six shooter, and a degree of costuming (from mild to wild) are all that’s required to step onto the line. Trying to increase the presence of Fast Draw, I met with the folks of Six Gun Territory at a venue and we became fast friends. I have also become a part of the reenactment group, Outlaws & Lawdogs, performing Old West skits and, of course, the ubiquitous shootouts, making us a perfect fit with Six Gun Territory. In a modern world, the fun and romance of the Old West will forever be a part of my life.

Ron McKenzie aka Marshall Curly River

I have been a cowboy at heart since a kid growing up loving Roy Rogers, Westerns and Six Gun Territory. I was invited to join the Six Gun Territory Facebook page not long after it started and was thrilled to be included. The “All Call” went out looking for young ladies that like to dance to be the “New Generation” of Can Can Dancers for the up and coming Six Gun Reunion at the Kirby Farm.

My daughter, Amber was an Irish Dancer at the time and when asked if she would be interested, she said yes.  We met with Miss Melanie and a couple of the other original Six Gun Can Can dancers for an audition in Ocala. Amber was the only one that showed and after Melanie showed her the Can Can, Amber was “in.”  She loved it and Melanie was her new best friend. So it seems, Amber was the first of the “New Generation” of Can Can dancers.

While at the first Six Gun Territory Reunion and Wild West Weekend in September 2015 watching Amber perform, I met with Shadow (Cliff Matthews) and was invited to join the Shadow Riders. Shadow said I looked like a “law dog,” so Marshal River was born.

While in Umatilla, Florida on the Dad for Boys Ranch, turns out Shadow and Ike Clanton had taken over the ranch. The town folks scattered and ran leaving Marshal River and a few young kids to defend the ranch alone. Marshal River met a young man who was willing to defend the ranch with him, a boy named Whisper (Tyler McKenzie). Marshal River made Whisper his Deputy and the two took on Shadow and Ike Clanton together. Ike was shot down and Shadow was taken into custody with minor wounds. Occasionally, Whisper still leaves the side of the “law dogs” and participates in robbing trains (for a little supplemental income) at Kirby Farm.

Art Botzenmayer aka “Tall Texan”

My first trip to Six Gun with family was in 1971 and I was hooked. I spent many weekends at the park.

I started working there the day after I graduated from High School. It was my first real job and I was hired as a ride operator in Funland. After a week on the job, Allen Bell grabbed me out of Funland to be the Museum Curator, learning and sharing the park’s history and artifacts. That lasted two weeks and Allen transferred me to Building and Ground Maintenance – picking up garbage, cutting grass, cleaning bathrooms, and maintaining the historical buildings. Allen taught me a strong work ethic and I was soon promoted to supervisor. I was 18 and responsible for the crew maintaining the entire park. On several occasions they would be short Gunfighters and I would be told to lose the green jumpsuit put on a cowboy hat and gun and fall down when shot.

Then it happened… I reconnected with an old friend from school who also had started working in Funland. We will be married 39 years next month.

Little did I know years later we would start the Six Gun Territory Wild West Weekends bringing together a remarkable group of old and new friends to bring back the original shows of the park. A dream come true. I’m proud and honored to be a part of the Six Gun Territory family.

John McLean aka “Doc Holiday”

I’m a sixth generation Floridian, born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. Attended Six Gun Territory, many times as a young boy, loved the Haunted Mine and Gunfights the best. Come from a long line of Cattlemen and Farmers. Retired from the University of Florida. Began Reenacting fifteen years to date. Captain of Company B 2nd Florida Infantry, The Alachua Guards, portray characters from 1780 to 1890’s, just love Florida history.

Founding member of The Outlaws and Lawdogs, five years being a Cowboy reenactor. Current Cowboy character Doc Holiday and whatever is needed. Cowboys from the 1780’s thru who’s in Florida, home of the first North American Cowboys.

Martin Brabham aka “Smokin’ Gun”

My name is Martin Brabham my cowboy name is Smokin’ Gun.
I am a native Floridian, born in Gainesville, Florida and grew up watching westerns on television, playing Cowboy and Indians, shooting cap guns, riding horses, and dreaming of being a real live cowboy in the old west. I had the pleasure of going to Six Gun Territory in Ocala when I was in my early childhood and fell in love with it. I still dress up as a cowboy but now play with real guns and get to introduce people to cowboy fast draw to let them see how they would have measured up in a gunfight in the old west.

Michael Conners aka “Texas Slim,”
our illustrious gunfight announcer

Texas Slim spent his early years wandering around the west looking for a purpose.
He’s worked as a cowboy, gambler, gunslinger, and lawman, but when he wandered into Six Gun, he knew he’d found his home.

Nowadays you’ll normally find him hanging around the General Store. He knows everyone in Six Gun Territory, and if you listen to him tell his stories, he sometimes knows what folks are gonna do even before they do it.

Paul Bloom aka “The Reaper”

 

I grew up in Orange Park, Florida and frequently went to Six Gun Territory with my troop in the Boy Scouts. I reached the rank of Eagle in scouting. I was a member of the United States Army and a Law Enforcement Officer for several police departments in the state of Georgia. I’m now a professional musician and part time actor. I’ve been involved in the Six Gun Territory Wild West Weekend and Reunion since the second event. I’m now the Board Chairman for the Outlaws and Lawdogs old west reenactment group.

Roger Reid aka “Judge”

I am a founding member of the Wild West Production Group, OutLaws and LawDogs, based in Melrose Florida. I portray historical and fictional characters of the old west, (circa 1850’s to early 1900’s). I am known by the handle, “Judge” for my portrayal of Judge Roy Bean, The Law West of the Pecos! My family has been in the Marion Country region of Florida for more the 130 years. I was born in Coral Gables, Florida in 1961 and spent most of my summer breaks in Marion County working on the horse, livestock and produce farms. I am an alumni of the Miami Chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Silver Springs and Six Gun Territory were staples of my summer activities almost every summer, late 60’s to the 70’s. We would go to Six Gun Territory in the mornings and spend the day, then to the Springs in the heat of the day for a swim, then off to Fat Boys BBQ for supper. Those WERE the good ole’ days!

Shawn Arrau

I was just a young whipper-snapper when the Six Gun Territory theme park was in operation, but I always wanted to work there. The park closed a year before I was old enough to apply for a job. I have been blessed to have a childhood dream come true as I perform at the Six Gun Territory Wild West Weekends and Reunions.

THE PALACE SALOON

Susan Prasse aka Miss Susie 

I, Susan Prasse, live and have lived a simple, humble, grateful life filled with blessings from God every day.  Listening daily to see what path God will lead me on next, I found myself on a historical Wild West adventure at Six Gun Territory in Ocala, Florida.  I was an original Can Can Dancer at Six Gun Territory performing on stage at the Palace Saloon 1973-1974 with the stage name of Miss Susie. 

My new Western Frontier Town and Six Gun Territory family then and even now brings me cherished memories.  As we continue to preserve and share our western history, please visit our Six Gun family originals and new generation at the Kirby Farm in Williston, Florida for our Six Gun Territory Wild West Weekends & Reunions for a Western adventure of your own. 

Till then, “Happy Trails” and may all your days be blessed! 

Miss Susie (Susan Prasse)

Original Can Can Dancer, Six Gun Territory, Ocala, FL 1973-1974.

 

 

Leslie Kemper aka Diamond L!l

Flashing back without being overly melodramatic, I (Leslie Kemper aka Diamond L!l), landed in the town of Six-Gun in 1968 during a hiatus attending Flagler College.  It didn’t take me long to recognize a spiffy thing when I saw it.   1 ½ inch palmettos, the aroma of Sulphur water, cowboys, horses, bank robberies, cowboys, redeye… and last, but not least, the beautiful Palace Saloon.   I was smitten.

 After passing the audition for a gig there with my guitar, tap dance skills, slick wit, and voice, I quickly set up residence and secured roots.  My “L!l-ly Pad” came complete with a bird’s eye view of the Six Gun Town and its Cowboys, an added amenity I had not bargained for.   

I remained with my community at Six Gun until 1970-ish.  I then returned to St. Augustine, married a successful musician, and proceeded to travel 90,000 miles a year in a scaled back Silver Eagle.  I still reside in St. Augustine, Florida.  The Fountain of Youth comes in handy.

 After a number of years paying my dues at getting paid for what I do best: running my mouth in the Jacksonville and North Florida radio market for Clear Channel, Time-Warner, and others, I was ecstatic to be able to return to my Six Gun family in 2015.

 I seemingly have no tension to work off, and find pressure stimulating when it does strike.  This is usually on a daily basis with the Cowboys at Six-Gun!  I feel incredibly lucky to be able to…

  1. Have had a job and career that I truly loved and
  2. Be able to return to performing that job in a town, Six-Gun Territory, a town I adore.

 See you all at the next show…

Fondly,   Diamond L!l

Patricia Smith aka Starr “The Canadian Lass”

I was a Can-Can dancer at Six Gun Territory in Ocala, 1970-72, when Six Gun was part of National Parks. I worked with Sharma McDaniel (emcee) and shadowed Melany Smith Baskin! Our boss ladies were Molly & Miss Vicki Parks.  I also was at Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, NC for quite some time where I met my gunfighter husband (1972). I’m from Philadelphia and was also sent to Ghost Town in the Glen, Ghost Town on the River, and Six Gun Territory at Willow Grove Park.  I love reading all the post on the Six Gun Territory (Official) Facebook page – there are so many memories!

Dudes & Dolls

Penny Bell

As tourists visiting Florida in 1973, my sister, my two sons and I had done the Disney thing for a week and were breaking camp to head toward Busch Gardens – however, a dark sky and the promise of a bad storm in that direction caused a change of plans. My boys begged to go to the place on a brochure we had picked up on the Florida border – Six Gun Territory. Cowboys and Indians and pretty dancers – WOW! “Can we go Mommy?” Little did we realize that fate had just stepped in…what would change all our lives forever!

Allen Bell and I met that day and were married in April, 1974. I worked at Six Gun for about 18 months (Six Gun Gazette and in food service ), before moving on to work at Monroe Regional Medical Center (MRMC) where I retired after 34+ years. Since we lived on site at Six Gun, our boys loved growing up with all the perks of the park and the friendship of the Big Mountain family… not to mention “all those cowboys.“ Allen and I had a blessed and wonderful marriage for 44 years before he left to be with our Lord. The lure of Six Gun and the friends we made there has remained a special part of our memories and life to this day.

Jill Dempsey aka “Blue Hawk”

My name is Jill Dempsey. I have always loved horses, western movies, & dressing up. I attended Six Gun Territory in 1978 with my family, shortly after we moved to Florida. I loved the train rides, the shows, the can can dancers, and my favorite was the shootouts. I always wondered how I would have done in one of those shootouts on Main Street. I truly enjoyed my visit to Six Gun Territory.

Now I shoot Cowboy Fast Draw with Cracker Cowboys. My CFDA alias is Blue Hawk. I am the 2017 Florida State Ladies Champion. For the last 3 years we have set up a range out at the Kirby Family Farm Six Gun Reunion. We dress up in old west, 1800’s style clothing, shoot single action six revolvers, & bring fast draw to the public. We shoot at a 17 inch target from 15 feet away. Whoever shoots & hits the target first wins that round. (They would have been one of the quick, their competitor might have ended up one of the wounded or dead in the street). So now I get to relive my youth, dress up, & participate in the legendary Six Gun shootouts I remember from my childhood.

When you come out to the Six Gun Territory Wild West Weekend and Reunion come stop by the Cracker Cowboy Fast Draw range & find out for yourself if you would have survived a Main Street style shootout in the old west.