I decided today to go back and look at some of my history with P&P. Our local newspaper sold after a century and a half and I’m none too pleased with some of the changes. It’s been on my mind so much, that my first anthology “Give Me a Texan” came to mind. Although it was publish a decade ago, I still love my story. My hero is newspaperman Quinten Corbett who wasn’t exactly expecting his new apprentice to be a female. Quin has to find something for the Boston-born Kaira Renaulde to do since she was much too sophisticated for the rough-and-tumble frontier town of Amarillo. He gives her assignments that today might be called “fluff” reporting.
In order to stay authentic, I researched newspaper articles during that era and used two of them. “October 9, 1884: An itinerant looking man with very small mules was selling apples and things here Wednesday. They came from Wichita Falls. The apples retailed at four bits a dozen, and were quickly taken.” — The Mobeetie Panhandle
Naturally, this type of article didn’t set well with the newspaper man, so he sends her out again. This time she comes up with another piece. “August 14, 1884: The juicy watermelon, the odoriferous muskmelon and the warty, git-up-and-dust cucumber have been here several days. Men and things change, but every returning season finds the cucumber possessing unalterably the same old characteristics.” — The Mobeetie Panhandle
I’m happy to say that “Give Me a Texan” is still in print after a decade, as are the other anthologies, so if you want to know more about how Quin and Kaira handle working together, you can still order it through Amazon.com.
In the anthology “Give Me a Texas Outlaw”, which came out nine years ago and is also still available at Amazon in both rack size and eBook, I used old newspaper articles for the epilogue taking a bit of creative liberties. I tried to tie together my stories in the four anthologies just a little bit, along with foreshadowing the next two in the series. Never did I believe that the anthologies, particularly “Give Me a Cowboy” would lead to my contemporary western romances with the same families of Kasota Spring, Texas, three to five generations later.
Here’s some more interesting information, I researched.
October 25, 1890: “At Tolosa, five miles south of Kemp, John Williams and Will Perkins became engaged in a difficulty, both being under the influence of whiskey. Perkins struck Williams just above the temple with a black smith’s hammer, smashing his skull. Williams made his escape, with the officer in pursuit, going in the direction of Athens, his former home. Williams is the son-in-law of W. Almow, a prominent farmer.” Note: They called this “engaging in a difficulty” in those days? —The Galveston Daily News
December 19, 1890: “Professor Garard, superintendent of the public schools, died very suddenly last night. He had been complaining a little for several days, but was feeling better yesterday. He ate a hearty supper last night, retired to his room and was found dead this morning.” —The Galveston Daily News
I thought it’d be fun today to give you a taste of authentic news articles during the 1800’s. I’ve left the spelling and punctuation as it was written for authenticity, so you’ll see some very odd spelling. It took the folks a while to decide exactly how to spell Panhandle. It was Pan Handle and Pan-handle, plus a couple of other ways before they settled into Panhandle.
“September 27, 1883: The largest cattle ranch in the world is said to be that of Charles Goodnight, at the head of Red River, Texas. He began buying land four years ago, securing 270,000 acres at 36 cents per acre. In the meantime the price has advanced from $1 to $2 per acre, but he is still buying, and controls 700,000 acres. To enclose his landed possessions, 250 miles of fence is required. On the range he has 40,000 cattle.” — Dodge City Times
September 20, 1883: “The wire cutters are busy at work with their clippers, cutting the fences in Montague, Clay, Wise and Denton counties, greatly to the annoyance of the owners.”
June 29, 1882: “Hamburg has a curiosity in the shape of a chicken which has only one leg. It was hatched that way, is about two months old and seems as happy and contented as though it had four legs.” —Dodge City Times
May 18, 1882: “Pan Handle Items: The road between here and Tascosa said to be well defined by a row of black bottles that flash back the rays of the sun. They are empty.” –Mobeetie Panhandle
October 16, 1880: “Land in Texas is cheap. The last Legislature set apart 3,000,000 acres of land in the Pan Handle, ordered a survey and put it on the market at a minimum price of 50 cents per acre. The survey of this 3,000,000 acres has been completed, and the land is now in market.” ** —Dodge City Times
**This is the land the state traded for a new capitol building, land that became the well-known XIT Ranch. On my list of future blogs is the story of the famous XIT Ranch, which is still in existence today.
And, one of my favorite articles comes from the Dodge City Times dated September 20, 1879: “The Pan Handle has been suffering for the want of rain, as several weeks have elapsed since rain has fallen; and if we don’t soon get rain we will have a long dry spell.” Hate to say it, but this is applicable to our weather today in the Texas Panhandle.
Since the Panhandle, as it was finally spelled, is suffering from a serious drought and prairie fires today, I must agree … if we don’t soon get rain we will have a long dry spell.
Do you have favorite newspaper or magazine quotes you’d like to share?
I’m fortune to have a supply of all six anthologies, authored with our own Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace. Tonight I’ll be drawing a winner to either get an autographed copy of “Give Me a Texan” or your choice of one of my eBooks, including my recently released “Out of a Texas Night”.