My Fascination with George and Libbie Custer ~ by Diane Kalas

My current release is HONOR BRIGHT, An Inspirational Historical Romance Set in the West, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1.

George and Libby CusterGeorge and Libbie Custer are secondary characters and hometown neighbors of my heroine in book 1. The story takes place two years before Custer’s last campaign, a time when tensions were escalating on both sides of the issues. Each book in Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series, takes the reader closer to the final event in the Little Bighorn Valley.

How did I become interested in the Custer story? I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and knew that Custer spent some of his childhood in my home state. A job transfer moved us to Ohio for several years where we traveled the I-75 north through Monroe, Michigan to visit family. Alongside the highway in Monroe is a huge billboard with Custer in uniform stating: Monroe, Michigan – boyhood home of the boy-general. A few years later, a temporary job transfer brought us back to Michigan for a year. My husband rented a house on Lake Erie in Monroe County.

At that time, I had no plans about Custer being in one of my future books. Out of curiosity, however, I visited the small Custer museum in Monroe, and a neighborhood bookstore where I purchased several books about George and Libbie Custer written by a local Custer historian. Next, I stopped by the Monroe County Library that has a fantastic Custer Collection.

The librarian informed me that next to Presidents Washington and Lincoln, no other historical figure in our country has as many books written about him as George A. Custer. She also mentioned that people living in Japan and Italy have made inquiries about Custer’s career. After all this time, people want to learn more details about the controversial boy-general!

At a county flea market, I found an original edition of Libbie Custer’s BOOTS AND SADDLES or Life in Dakota with General Custer, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1885. That was the first book Libbie wrote, years after George died. Cost: $6.00. I do not really believe in coincidences. I finished four other stories, before starting my current release: HONOR BRIGHT, An Inspirational Historical Romance Set in the West, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1.

George Armstrong Custer’s prankish career at the United States Military Academy put him last in his 1861 graduating class. Afterward, his flamboyant cavalry escapes during the Civil War brought a continual interest from the press of the day. Old men admired his courage and women saw him as a dashing figure. Today, however, mention Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer and his 7th Regiment of Cavalry, given to Custer as a reward for his Civil War record, and images of war against the Plains Indians come to mind. Current authors and historians write more books about Custer as villain, because of the post-Civil War years, than as hero.

When people react negatively to Custer’s name, it is because as a military officer he represented our government and its policies at that time. Our point of view today, concerning the western expansion after the Civil War, is sympathetic toward the Indians and highly critical of our actions against Native Americans.

The list of officers mentioned here guided and/or ordered Custer’s military career. General Alfred Terry, Custer’s immediate superior; Major-General Phil Sheridan, his close friend and mentor; Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman; President Ulysses S. Grant, commander in chief (all Civil War generals). In other words, Custer did not act alone.

My bibliography for Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series has exceeded my budget. Last month, I purchased two additional books on Custer. I’m hooked on research.

Some called the Little Bighorn Battle “a clash of cultures and Custer, a man of his time.” My hope is that the reader will enjoy the fictional story with interesting characters, set against the backdrop of an isolated fort in the Dakota Territory in 1874.

About the house on the cover of Honor Bright

The cover of HONOR BRIGHT, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1, features the 1989, rebuilt home and command headquarters for the famous 7th Cavalry. This was George and Libbie Custer’s first home built for them by the U. S. government, and the reassembled 7th Cavalry Regiment since it was formed after the Civil War. Location is Fort Abraham Lincoln, across the Missouri River from Bismarck, Dakota Territory (ND today).

The Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation raised funds and constructed the home after years of research and planning. The estimated total cost to develop Cavalry Square was $6 million, with $2 million appropriated by the U. S. Congress. The Custer House cost almost $400,000. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department now operates the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.

As the centerpiece of Fort Abraham Lincoln, the Custer house is the third built on the exact same lot as the original Custer residence. The first was built in 1873, one of seven buildings that formed Officers’ Row on the fort’s western perimeter. In the center of three duplexes for bachelor or married officers, is the Custer home.

Fire destroyed the original house in the middle of the night in February 1874. George and Libbie barely escaped with their lives. Donations quickly replaced just about everything they lost. Libbie called their frontier home elegant, especially after she requested the installation of the bay window in her parlor, and George provided funds for the railing to the second story (balustrade) made of butternut, a difficult wood that required 80 hours of labor to construct.

 

Honor Bright by Diane KalasHONOR BRIGHT, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1

Spring 1874. Rebecca Brewster arrives at Fort Abraham Lincoln to preview life on the far western frontier, before her marriage to an officer in Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s famous 7th Cavalry Regiment. Becca is soon disillusioned with her childhood love who is critical of her tomboyish ways. He insists she behave as a lady in the footsteps of Libbie Custer.

Major Randall Steelman, second in command under Custer, finds Becca’s fun-loving spirit and open affectionate ways charming. As an officer, however, Rand’s strict code of conduct forbids him to act on his interest in a woman when it involves a brother officer. How can he stand by and watch Becca marry an arrogant hothead with unbridled ambition, when he finds Becca more irresistible each day?

Amid increasing tension between the hostile Sioux Indians and the government that Custer represents, Rand walks a tightrope balancing professional duties and a friendship with his commander. Custer’s reputation is two-fold: Capable cavalry officer and fearless leader; arrogant and petty tyrant.

With one-year left to serve his country, Rand is determined to retire with a blemish-free record and with his rank intact. Becca must make a life-changing decision, before it’s too late and she marries the wrong man.

The book is available on Amazon.

 

About the author

Diane KalasDiane Kalas collects antique books written by men and women who lived through the American Civil War, and/or who pioneered out West. With a degree in interior design, she enjoys touring historical sites, especially Federal era homes with period furniture. Published writers Pamela Griffin, Gina Welborn, and Kathleen Maher have been critique partners and mentors. Diane’s biggest challenge is writing Inspirational Historical Romance. Her biggest distraction is her fascination with historical research. Diane is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Find Diane online at:
Facebook
Forget Me Not Romances
Blog: Transporting you back in time
Pinterest: 19th Century history, architecture, and fashion
Twitter

Other books by Diane Kalas:
PATRIOT HEART, Journey Home Series 1
FAITHFUL HEART, Journey Home Series 2
HOPEFUL HEART, Journey Home Series 3

Diane will give either an e-book or paperback copy of HONOR BRIGHT, Officers of the 7th Cavalry Series 1, to someone who leaves a comment, so y’all head on down yonder and say howdy!

Save

Guest Blogger

It’s Time for Spring Break!

Howdy to all our friends and family! This year, the fillies are taking turns celebrating each beautiful season.  Join us all next week for a spring fling of blooms and beauty, fresh starts and fun as we take a Spring Break!

 

You never know what you’re gonna find so come and join the fun!

Yee-Haw! Win something!

Special thanks to Kelli McCaslin of South Lake Tahoe, California, for the beautiful photographs. We so appreciate you sharing your talent with us!

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: March 23, 2017 — 8:51 pm

They Said What?

There’s nothing like looking back at the Old West through the words of those who lived it. There were some real characters back them, and here are a few actual quotes to prove it.

Words to Live By

  • “Never run a bluff with a six-gun.”– Bat Masterson
  • “As a good horse is not very apt to jump over a bank, if left to guide himself, I let mine pick his own way.”-Buffalo Bill
  • “Why should I obtain by force that which I can obtain by cheating?”-Doc Holliday
  • “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” –Wyatt Earp
  • “Shoot first and never miss.” – Bat Masterson

Setting the Record Straight

  • “They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. It ain’t true. I only killed one man for snoring.” – John Wesley Hardin

Famous Last Words

  • “If a man knows anything, he ought to die with it in him.” -Sam Bass
  • “Can’t you hurry this up a bit? I hear they eat dinner in Hades at twelve sharp and I don’t aim to be late.” – Black Jack Ketchum
  • “Let the record show I’ve killed 51 men. Let ’er rip.” Deacon Jim Miller, professional killer
  • “Suppose, suppose …” Wyatt Earp
  • “I see a good many enemies around, and mighty few friends.”-Bill Longley

Calamity Jane

 Girls with Guns

  • “I figure, if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.” -Calamity Jane
  • “A pair of six-shooters beats a pair of sixes.” -Belle Starr
  • “I never killed unless I was compelled to.” -Belle Starr
  • “I ain’t afraid to love a man. I ain’t afraid to shoot him either.”-Annie Oakley

Now That’s Mighty Thoughtful

  • “I didn’t want to send him to hell on an empty stomach.”- Clay Allison after killing a man at dinner

The Hangman Speaketh

  • “I never hanged a man that didn’t deserve it.” Judge Parker’s hangman George Maledon
  • “We never did hang the wrong one but once or twice, and them fellers needed to be hung anyhow jes’ on general principles.”- nameless judge

 That Fighting Spirit

  • “Well, if there ain’t going to be any rules, let’s get the fight started.” -Butch Cassidy
  • “I want results when I fight.”- Frank James

  Reaching for the Stars

  • “All my life I wanted to be a bank robber. Carry a gun and wear a mask. Now that it’s happened I guess I’m just about the best bank robber they ever had. And I sure am happy.” -John Dillinger

 Okay now it’s your turn. 

What saying or words of wisdom would you like to be remembered for?

 

There’s a new sheriff in town and she almost always gets her man!

A Match Made in Texas

Available for pre-order

B&N

iTunes

 

 

 

Margaret Brownley
Margaret has published more than 40 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and past Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! A Match Made in Texas is available for pre-order now. Margaret's stories also appear in the 12 Brides of Christmas, Pioneer Christmas and Second Chance at Star Inn collections. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Updated: March 19, 2017 — 7:43 am

We Have a Winner — Two of them

Howdy!

Yes, indeed, we have 2 winners — sometimes happens when I draw two names at the same time…  Those winners are:

Deanne Patterson and Nancy Farrier

Congratulations to you both.  As you know we here on Petticoats and Pistols rely on you to contact us, so please email me privately at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net and we’ll figure out how to get these e-books to you.

Many thanks to all of you who came to the blog today and who left a message.  It means so much to me to hear from you and to read your thoughts on these sometimes important issues.  Please keep coming back here — you are important to me and to all of us here at the Junction.

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the author of 17 American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.
Updated: March 22, 2017 — 10:00 am

Diane Kalas Returns to the Junction!

Miss Diane has started out and will arrive here on Friday, March 24, 2017!

This dear lady loves everything historical and will have something something fun to share. You can bet on that.

And she’s toting a book to give to someone.

Join the party! Come and be counted.

Shake the wrinkles out of your bustle and saddle up. 

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: March 21, 2017 — 12:50 pm

RITA Finalists!

Buy LEFT AT THE ALTAR on Amazon

Buy WITH THIS RING on Amazon

Pam Crooks
Pam has written 14 western romances, most with Harlequin Historicals. She has recently re-released four titles by ebook, individually and in a boxed set titled IN THE ARMS OF A COWBOY. More releases are HER MOTHER'S KILLER, a romantic suspense, and THE SPYGLASS PROJECT, Book One of her new Secret Six series, historical suspense set in the 1920s! THE BREWER'S DAUGHTER, Book Two. Next up - KISSES LIKE WINE, Book Three!

Parade Saddles

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday!

When I was a kid, my idea of some kind of wonderful was a palomino horse and a black and silver parade saddle. If I’d been blessed with a palomino horse and a parade saddle, I would have ridden around the countryside, solving crimes and helping people…but no.

I didn’t get my palomino or parade saddle. What I did get a very cute black pony named Bunny and we won a dollar in the Sandpoint, Idaho July 4th parade in a year I will not specify. In that same parade was a riding group that did indeed have parade saddles. I remember coveting them.

Now that I’m older, I still love parade saddles, but I doubt I’ll ever own one. I can’t see where I’d ever use one, and more than that, I can’t see how I would fit one into my budget. But I can tell you a few things about them.

These saddles were most popular in the 1950s and 60s and they were made to stand out. Because they were covered with so much bling, they tended to be larger than the average saddle, with wide skirts and tapaderos, which are the stirrup covers. Silver was the bling of choice, which made the saddles very heavy. The saddle often had a matching breast collar and perhaps even a bridle.

One of the most famous parade saddle makers was Ed Bohlin, a master craftsman in both silver and leather and had superb carving skills. He was born in Sweden in 1895 and came to America at the age of 15. He worked cattle drives in Montana and then started his first saddle shop in Cody, Wyoming. He met Tom Mix in Los Angeles and Tom convinced him to stay in the area and set up shop there. Ed made over 12,000 saddles, many of which were featured in the Rose Parade. He also dressed and outfitted numerous movie stars.

I did a quick eBay search and found a Bohlin saddle for sale for almost as much as my first house cost. It was beautiful, both as a saddle and as a piece of history.

So I must ask…what piece of western memorabilia would you like to own?

Jeannie Watt
Jeannie Watt lives off the grid in an historic cattle ranching area and loves all things western. When she's not writing, Jeannie enjoys sewing, making mosaic mirrors, riding her horses and buying hay. Lots and lots of hay.

Iroquois Prayer for Peace

Good Morning!

For all of you who follow my blogs, you’ll know that I’ve been talking about the incredible Iroquois Confederacy. With the release of BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER (both of them deal with the Iroquois Indians), I thought I’d post a little bit about what the Iroquois thought of peace — the way they set about achieving it, and how beautiful was the society they had gained because of it.  I’ll also be giving away a free copy of the e-book, BLACK EAGLE to some lucky blogger.

...............................................................The eagle here is the symbol of the Iroquois Confederation, and is supposed to be on watch for any who would try to bring the Confederacy down.

Long ago, and it appears that it was as long ago as August 31st, 1142 AD, the Iroquois Confederacy came into being. It is dated by an eclipse. Some historians date it later — around 1451 and others dated later — depending on the eclipse. But for me, I believe that it was founded August 31st, 1142 AD. The reason I say this is because when the white man first met representatives of the Iroquois Confederation, notation was made (and this was in 1600’s) that the Confederation was centuries old.  And most of the Iroquois sites that I’ve visited date its foundation at 1142 AD.

300px-hiawatha_departure1 This picture to the right is an artist’s rendition of Hiawatha, one of the founders of the Iroquois Confederation. So…back in 1142 AD, there was trouble in the land they called Turtle Island (America).   Killing was the standard of the day, not the exception and worse, the fighting was often between brother vs brother, clan vs clan, tribe vs tribe. Wars were usually fought to avenge a dead relative — the dead themselves were known to urge their loved ones on to avenge them. But imagine –someone is killed through evil doing or through a mistake. A clan member then kills a member of the offending clan — this is then repeated by the “offending clan,” which is then repeated over and over and over.  It’s a never ending scheme.

Well, two men, the Peacemaker and Hiawatha (the real one, not the one of Longfellow’s poem) thought to end this “game” that had become such a problem.  These two — With the Peacemaker’s urging — came together to ease the suffering not only of he or she who had lost a loved one, but to ease the suffering felt by the dead, as well — and they sought to end war forever by doing this.

rhk01480The Peacemaker and Hiawatha introduced a beautiful ceremony called the Condolence ceremony.  Using strings of wampum, they could wipe away the grief of the deceased and his relatives and bring about a good frame of mind for everyone.  They would say the Three Bare Words that would relieve one of his grief and would open up his eyes and his heart to the beauty of the sky. Thus, by wiping away the insanity of grief (this is what the Peacemaker and Hiawatha called grief — an insanity — for it makes a person do deeds that he normally wouldn’t do) — and by healing this grief, one would wipe away war from the face of their land, Turtle Island, (America).

beltmast11Here is an example of wampum (white and purple beads) that I got from the website http://www.wampumchronicles.com .

So here’s the question of the day: How many governments can you name that were started not by war or revolution, but by making peace in order to end war forever?  I can name no other.  Can you?

So let’s have a look at how successful they were. The Peacemaker and Hiawatha set up a government that was made By the People, Of the People, and For the People, long before (1142 AD)  our own American government was set into place.   There are certain laws within the Iroquois Confederation that were set down by the Peacemaker at this time.  Laws for the men.  Laws for the women. And from all observations, it appears that this Confederation lived in relative peace for over 500 years before it began to crumble.  Five hundred. Wow!  Compare our Republic — only a little over two hundred years old…and with many, many wars.  For my part, I think the Iroquois Confederation set  a very good record.

img_4311This picture by the way is of Grandfather George Randall, who lives with us. He is a Native American actor and elder. Okay, so not until the incoming Europeans came to America did the Iroquois Confederation begin to crumble. The cause? There were many. Propaganda from the incoming culture, pitting brother against brother as each took sides in the European wars.  Not only the English, but the French and the Dutch went from town to town, village to village, to recruit Indians to fight for them in their causes. Also, incoming priests began to divide brother against brother, and the French and Indian war — particularly the battle at St. George — pitted Mohawk against Mohawk — a condition that the Peacemaker and Hiawatha had warned against.

trips-079There were also problems with trade. The Iroquois became dependent on the trinkets and things from England and Holland and France. While this might have gained them a little ease (maybe), it had the effect of pitting tribe against tribe as each contended with the other for the friendship and trade of the English and French.  But before the European came to the Americas, the Indians, themselves, had made peace amongst themselves as well as with many of their neighboring tribes.  This peace and well-being brought about a strong and firm inclination toward independence and liberty.  And so it was that a free people (the Iroquois) met the English and French.  But these newcomers had a long history of oppression and taxation.  Was it any wonder, then, that the two had a difficult time understanding the other?

It wasn’t long, however, before the Iroquois left their mark on the newcomers   And soon the Americas became filled with the voices of freedom and liberty.  It was even commented upon abroad.

180px-declaration_independence1America has a long tradition of freedom, independence and liberty. It was here, established by postulate, by the inhabitants of this beautiful land long, long ago; it was put here by two men who wished to wipe away grief from the world at large and thus bring about an end to war. It’s a beautiful start; it’s a beautiful thought. May that postulate (decision/wish) go on and on and on and may no tyranny ever come to roost here on what the Iroquois called then, and still call today, Turtle Island.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this little bit of history. I find it utterly beautiful and very inspiring. Please come on in and tell me your thoughts.  I’ll be giving away the e-book, BLACK EAGLE to some lucky blogger.  So come on in.

I look forward to your comments.

Karen Kay
KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the author of 17 American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
Please refer to http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules for all contest rules.
Updated: March 21, 2017 — 1:14 pm

The Smoky Hill River

Kathryns Banner

I am working on a series of historical western romances for Harlequin that take place in the fictional town of Oak Grove in Logan County in northwest Kansas. The town is situated just north of the Smoky Hill River which has so many interesting stories about it that I wanted to share a few here.

The waters of the Smoky Hill River start in the high plains of eastern Colorado and flow east with many other rivers joining in, until it flows into and forms the Kansas River. From there the water flows into the Missouri River and then on to the Mississippi River.

Kansas MapFor many years, Comanche, Sioux, Kiowa, and Arapaho tribes hunted extensively along the river before being forced out by encroaching settlers. Game was plentiful in the extensive grasslands and fish populated the river.

There are differing stories as to how the river got its name. The Plains Indians, depending on which tribe, called it CHETOLAH OR OKESSE-SEBO. The early English and French explorers called it the RIVER OF THE PADOUCAS. It has since become known as the SMOKY HILL RIVER.

George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938—naturalist, explorer, author, anthologist) said that the name came from a large grove of cottonwood trees along the river on the Kansas/Colorado state line. The trees were very tall and could be seen for miles from the flat grasslands. It is said they looked like a cloud of smoke. The place was a gathering place for many tribes to camp and barter and visit with each other. It was also a burial grounds and a place of refuge for the Indians under Black Kettle of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864.

James R. Mead’s version differs slightly. He said that the river is named the Smoky Hill because of the buttes along the river, that when seen from afar appear hazy from smoke. James  R. Meade was a trapper and trader in the area during the years of 1850 to 1860.

Logan County,Kansas

The Smoky Hill Trail used by the Native Americans along the river was the shortest, fastest route west across Kansas. In 1858, it was traveled by those heading to the goldfields of Colorado or beyond. The Native Americans did not want to relinquish the rich land and skirmishes with settlers followed. The army set up several forts along the river. A road followed, and then as more settlers came, a railroad. In 1870, the Kansas-Pacific Railway to Denver was completed.

Smoky Hill River

The Smoky Hill River in the area of Logan County where my story takes place is only about three feet deep. Of course, this level changes dramatically depending on the rains and the melting snow. One bit of research I found interesting took place in 1868 when a drought plagued the plains and the river level was quite low. An immense herd of bison—hundreds of thousands of them (enough to cover a thirty-mile area)—came to the river to drink. The first bison were crowded out by the animals that followed, who in turn, were pushed out by those in the rear. It is said they drank the river dry!

I am collaborating with author, Lauri Robinson, in writing the stories of the people of Oak Grove. Laurie has the fortune of having lived in the area for a few years. Since I have never visited Logan County along the Smoky Hill River, I have had to lean on book and internet research of the area for my next three stories. If any of you have been there and have something you would like to add, suggest or correct—please comment! I have a feeling that I will only feel reassured of my information if I get a chance to visit the area myself. A road trip may just be in my future!

To stay in the loop on this new series, please sign up for my newsletter with the link below.

Author Website  |  Newsletter  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon Author Page

 

Kathryn Albright
Kathryn Albright writes sweet western historical romance. Her award-winning stories celebrate courage and hope with a dash of adventure. She loves hiking and traveling and being caught up in a good story. She lives with her family in the rural Midwest.

Amanda Cabot

 

Thanks for sitting around the campfire with us, Miss Amanda! Fun, fun!

I hope everyone’s having a good Sunday. I brushed down my mule, Jasper, and gave him an apple. He’s happy. Me–not so much.

The random winner of the print book is…………………

TONYA LUCAS

Woo-Hoo!! Dancing a jig for you, Tonya! Be watching for Miss Amanda’s request for your mailing particulars and choice. You get to choose between Summer of Promise and A Stolen Heart! 

 

Felicia Filly
When I'm not keepin' all these Fillies in line, I'm practicing my roping so I can catch me a cowboy. Me and Jasper (my mule) are two peas in a pod. Both of us are as crotchety as all get-out.
Updated: March 19, 2017 — 10:01 am
Petticoats & Pistols © 2015