Category: Guest Author

We Never Sleep–The Pinkerton Detective Agency

“With shelves of books behind him, Clyde David Robert III settled in his library chair  … he grabbed the rolled up paper [inside his desk] from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

“Spreading out the gold sheet, he examined it once more along with the agency’s guarantee of finding his daughter. The document was dated March 21, 1896. Where was she? How could his daughter have escaped without detection?”

-An excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s recent release, The Heiress Comes to Town.

          Slipping out of her father’s New York mansion on her wedding day, Nina Robert . . . leaves her luxurious life to settle on the Plains where she discovers romance, but all could end with her father’s hiring of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to find her and enable him to fulfill his arranged marriage contract.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency

Motto: We Never Sleep

Formation and Prominence

          The private-eye detective business began with the formation of the Pinkerton Detective Agency by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

          But they did not become famous until credited with foiling a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln, as he was to take the reins of his first term.  

          How did the Pinkerton Agency claim to do this? With the help of the first female detective hire, Kate Warne, a widow, this woman and other agents arranged for President-elect Lincoln to board an overnight train hours before he was publicly scheduled to appear.

Abraham Lincoln posed as Warne’s invalid brother, and agency’s operatives cut telegraph lines, so Southern sympathizers could not communicate with one another.

The Civil War

          The detective agency continued to make its mark during the Civil War with its enemy spy rings of Southern sympathizers in the North. The operation did not always go well.

          One such misstep was in the 1862s during the Peninsula Campaign when spy intelligent agents reported Confederate forces around Richmond were more than twice as large as their actual number.

          The result was General George B. McClellan delayed the Union’s advance in part due to his request for more troops. But the intelligence was wrong since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was in fact much bigger than the Confederates.

Wild West Bounty Hunters

          The Reno Gang

          The Pinkerton Agency often was employed to chase after Wild West bandits, which began with the Reno gang of John and Simeon Reno holding up an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County Indiana. What was different about their holdup?

           A booty of $13,000 and no detection since they committed their crime on a moving train – the first such type train robbery – while traveling in a sparsely populated area. However, the Pinkerton agents often get their man, and they did the same to the Reno gang by infiltrating it.

          Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

          Remember Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch? Well, the Pinkerton detectives chased after them, too.

          Jesse James and his Gang: A Pinkerton Failure

          The pursuit of bank robbers, Jesse and Frank James, by the Pinkerton agents started in the 1870s.

          One detective attempted to infiltrate the Missouri-based gang but was exposed and then murdered. Then two more agents died in a shootout.

           If this was not bad enough, the hunt for the James brothers ended in 1876 during a raid on his mother’s home. The famous brothers had been tipped off and had left the premises.

          The Pinkertons questioned James’ mother. An argument pursued. During the standoff, a posse member tossed an incendiary device through a window, which blew off part of her arm and killed James’ 8-year-old half brother.

          Journalists portrayed the Pinkerton agents as murderers. Humiliated by their depiction of his detectives and the public outrage, Allen Pinkerton stopped pursuing the James gang. Thus Jesse James was able to continue his havoc for seven more years until 1882 when an assassin’s bullet killed him.         

Larger than the United States Army

          In the 1890s, the agency grew until it had 2,000 detectives and 30,000 reserves. This was larger than the United States Army at the time.

The Agency Exists Today 

It operates today as Pinkerton and is a private security and guard service.

 

*Janet Syas Nitsick is offering a signed paperback copy of The Heiress Comes to Town, a Christian, historical, page-turner mystery and clean romance to one person picked at random from those who leave a comment today.

The Heiress Comes to Town

by Janet Syas Nitsick is on Nook, Kobo, iBooks.

 Click here for the Kindle and paperback link on Amazon:

Janet Syas Nitsick

Shy, natural redhead Janet Syas Nitsick’s writing passion began as a child when she wrote a neighborhood play at 10-years-old. In 2010 Janet’s story, “The Silver Lining,” placed 10th in the Writer’s Digest mainstream/literary competition.

Janet writes suspenseful, clean, Christian, historical, homespun-romantic tales set in Nebraska. She is married and has four sons – two with autism. Her late father, Nebraska State Sen. George Syas, served 26 years in the Unicameral.

Click here to check out Janet’s website, blog or Facebook page.

Updated: June 21, 2019 — 9:05 am

Who Was Calamity Jane?

Jennifer Uhlarik

Hi everyone. I’m celebrating this month! June 1 marked the release of Cameo Courtships, a 4-in-1 novella collection which I am part of. My story in the collection is Taming Petra, and my heroine goes by the name of “Buckskin Pete Hollingsworth.” Buckskin Pete is a buckskin-wearing, gun-toting, tomahawk-throwing tomboy, loosely modeled after Old West icon Calamity Jane.

If you’re like me, you know of Calamity Jane, but only in the most general way. So who was Calamity Jane?

She was born Martha Jane Cannary, on May 1, 1852, the eldest child of a gambler father and a prostitute mother. She had two brothers and three sisters. As the family traveled from Martha Jane’s birthplace in Missouri to Virginia City, Montana, her mother fell ill with pneumonia and died. A year later, her father also succumbed to death, leaving Martha Jane, who was just fourteen years old at the time, to take charge of her five younger siblings and support her family. The six siblings settled in Piedmont, Wyoming, where Martha Jane took whatever jobs she could find—from dishwasher, to waitress, to nurse, to ox-team driver, to sometimes prostitute.

 

As her younger siblings grew up and moved on, it freed Martha Jane to strike out on her own as well. In the 1870s, she is said to have acted as scout for the Army, an Indian fighter, as well as displaying excellent aim as a sharpshooter.

Calamity in a dress

When asked how she came to be called “Calamity,” she told the following story in a short biographical pamphlet. While working with the Army near Goose Creek, Wyoming, they were sent out to subdue an Indian uprising. On the way back to the post, they were ambushed about a mile and a half out. As she charged through the fray, being fired upon, she turned in time to see Captain Egan struck and reeling in his saddle. Jane turned back to help, caught the officer before he fell, and pulled him onto her own horse in front of her. Once safely back at the post and the captain recovering, he jokingly stated that he would dub her Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains, and she proudly wore the name from that point forward.

While the story is an entertaining one, several details call its credibility into question. For one, Calamity Jane was functionally illiterate, so she would have had to dictate such a story to someone else for the pamphlet. It’s possible she did just that. But in the story itself, she claims to have singlehandedly pulled a wounded and reeling man from him horse onto her own and held him in the saddle until they reached the safety of the army post. The likelihood of such feats of strength do cause one to question the story. Another alternative for how she came to be known as Calamity Jane is that she would warn any man who crossed her that he was “courting calamity” by doing so.

She is known to have had a kind and generous side. In Deadwood, S.D., she is rumored to have nursed the sick during an outbreak of smallpox. And she was also known to have helped those in need, providing food she’d hunted herself or given money to those unable to provide for themselves.

Calamity Jane at Wild Bill Hickok’s gravesite

Rumors link Calamity Jane to another well-known Western icon—James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. Some rumors state they were friends. Others tout the pair were lovers. Calamity Jane herself stated that she and Wild Bill were married in 1873 and had a daughter, who was later adopted by another family. No marriage license has been found to support a legal union between the two characters. Of course, Wild Bill died by a shooter’s bullet in 1876, so any romance that may have existed lasted only briefly.

The later years of Calamity Jane’s life saw her become a hard-drinking alcoholic, often down on her luck, living life mostly alone. For a brief time, she performed with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show as a storyteller and sharpshooter, but otherwise, she drifted from town to town. She died of pneumonia on August 1, 1903, at the age of 51. She and Wild Bill Hickok are buried next to each other in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.

My heroine, Buckskin Pete Hollingsworth, is loosely based on Calamity Jane—in their shared propensity to wear men’s buckskin trousers, their ability to scout and track, and their soft sides that enabled both to help those in need. Do you enjoy reading fictional characters you know are based on a true person from history, or do you prefer purely fictional characters that are wholly original? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts to be entered in a drawing for an autographed paperback copy of Cameo Courtships.

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Check out her website and Facebook page or follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.

 

 

Updated: June 13, 2019 — 8:01 pm

An Interview With Tag Baker

Carolyn Brown Headshot

Author Carolyn Brown

Good mornin’ all y’all! Thank you for inviting me back to Petticoats and Pistols to talk about Cowboy Rebel. I’m so excited about this book, and can’t wait to begin to get reviews from the readers. It’s the fourth book in the Longhorn Canyon series. Don’t you just love looking at Tag Baker with his clear blue eyes on the cover?

I thought maybe I’d let all y’all hang out with him a little today, and get to know him. So I have him here with me to answer questions. He’s got a glass of sweet tea in his hand and has motioned that he’s ready so fire away.

Question: Why did you leave the huge ranch out in the Texas panhandle and come to the hill country in the north central part of the state?

Tag: Well, darlin’, it’s like this. My twin brother, Hud, and I’ve always wanted to buy a place that we could call our very own. We wanted something just like Canyon Creek Ranch with the potential of building it into a dynasty like our folks did with the Rockin’ B Ranch. Besides all that, our sister, Emily, married Justin Maguire over on the neighbor ranch a few months ago. We missed her when she left the panhandle a few years ago, and now we get to live close to her.

Question: What did you think of Nikki the first time you met her?

Tag: I met her at Emily’s wedding a few months before we moved out here to Sunset, Texas. She struck me then as a little independent and a whole lot sassy. My opinion didn’t change when I met her the second time in the hospital emergency room—but that time there were sparks between us, and I just had to get to know her better.

Question: So what did you do to get her to consider going out with you?

Tag: (With a chuckle) I bought her a gold fish.

Question: Why would you do that?

Tag: She said she’d always wanted a pet, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave it alone so many hours while she worked as a nurse at the hospital.

Question: I heard you were considered a bad boy before you came to Sunset. Is that right?

Tag: (Ducks his head) I’m afraid that’s the truth. I’m tryin’ to change my ways and be more responsible.

Question: Who all works on the ranch with you and your brother?

Tag: We hired two of our friends, Maverick and Paxton, and they’ve joined us on the ranch now. We’ve pretty much known them our whole lives, and we’ve worked right along beside them since we all got out of high school.

Carolyn: We’ve only got time for one more question, so that little lady in the back wearing a pink cowboy hat…what would you like to know?

Question: Will Hud’s story get told?

Tag: (With that brilliant smile that makes a woman’s bloomers begin to crawl down to her ankles) I believe that’s in the works, but first Maverick’s story, Christmas With a Cowboy, will come out in September.

Carolyn: Thank you all for letting Tag and I pop by today. I’m giving away a signed copy of Cowboy Rebel. Just tell me in the comments what it is about a good cowboy book that draws you to it? Cover, back copy, first paragraph, part of a series? Talk to me, folks!!

 

Updated: May 29, 2019 — 11:03 am

Welcome Guest – Caryl McAdoo!!!


The WILD WEST, UP CLOSE and PERSONAL!

Readers voted at Sweet Wild West Reads! They wanted more stories with covered wagons and cattle drives. The new multi-author Prairie Roses Collection was born with that poll almost a year ago. And the 2019 stories have just launched. Our heroines are the roses: Sadie, Remi, Hope, Grace, and Julia, and do they create a lovely bouquet of fiction for Mothers Day! The award-winning, best-selling western authors writing for Prairie Roses Collection are: Patricia PacJac Carroll, myself, Barb Goss, Indiana Wake, and Vickie McDonough. All the books are covered wagon stories.

My story, REMI, begins with a young woman’s seasickness aversion which influences her choice not to accompany her step-father and mother to the Riviera, but to travel west to California to search for the father she’s never met. In 1853, she and her bondwoman journey to Saint Joseph to join a wagon train. Readers first meet her in UNIQUELY COMMON, my April 2019 release with all the same characters.

What a blessing to go and ride along the same trail as the early, courageous pioneers traveling two thousand miles in wagon trains—a journey plagued with hardships and troubles—to settle the West. Last December, traveling from our home in Clarksville, Texas a full day to Saint Joseph, Missouri, I did just that! I couldn’t wait to see the Oregon/California Trail.

Once the pioneers crossed the Missouri, they were no longer in the U.S., but the government still helped, building forts along the way where wagon trains would rest a day or three, do their repairs and restock.

I found it so interesting to discover they sold food at cost or even gave it away free to those who couldn’t pay. They also sent the Army Corp to work on the passes such as at Scott’s Bluff.

It was an amazing sight and right when Remi and Edwina passed by here, the U.S. Army Corp were there!

I know that my 4300+ mile trip made Remi such a much better story. I pray it comes alive for you in the pages of my novel. I didn’t make it all peaches and cream. This wagon train suffered measles, water shortages—plenty of hardships, including fatal accidents. I hoped to portray the difficulties these settlers faced.

It flabbergasted me to come upon Fort Laramie in Wyoming. The main building, erected in 1851, has been completely refurbished in recent years. I rejoiced with Asher and Remi, Dusty and Edwina, and Ethan and Christina Cord as they saw it, too. A bit of civility in the wilderness. The government set their eyes on the manifest destiny of the nation being from sea to shining sea one day.

And then there was Independence Rock which for me, was a bit of a spiritual experience. Hundreds, thousands of those in the covered wagons stopped here and celebrated being at Independence Rock in early July because that meant they would make it over the Rockies before the winter storms! While at this heart-warming landmark, the men, women, and even some children carved their names all over this Independence Rock so they would be remembered.

Here’s an artist’s rendition I photographed at Independence Rock See how many wagon trains would be there to circle up a couple of celebratory days.

I touched the very rock my friends Remi and Samantha carved their names on in 1853. My characters are that real to me, and I believe they will be to you! I hope you’ll enjoy visiting all these historical sights in the West when you read REMI and the other Prairie Roses Collection stories!

Thank you so much, Karen, for the invitation to Petticoats & Pistols!

 

I’d like to gift THREE eBook copies of Remi to THREE WINNERS as it debuted on my birthday, May 3rd !

Leave a comment below for a chance to win!

REMI jacket copy: It isn’t within man to guide his own steps—or a woman. Caught between a wagon train and the deep blue sea, Agnes Remington Dalrumple, Remi for short, chooses the overland journey west over crossing the Atlantic with her mother and step-father. Though the introvert has never been on her own, she decides to go to California and try to find the father she’s never known. Thwarted at every turn, almost every effort is dashed until a widower’s thirteen-year-old daughter intervenes on her behalf. How can the headstrong young woman place herself under the responsibility of the girl’s father, a perfect stranger? But if she doesn’t, her journey ends right there in Saint Joseph, Missouri. On the Oregon/California trail, will pride and independence deter her from the destiny God has prepared?

Caryl’s bio: Award-winning author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory! Her best-selling novels are blessed with a lion’s share of 5-Star ratings! With forty-three-and-counting titles, she loves writing as well as singing the new songs the Lord gives her—listen to a few at YouTube. Sharing four children and eighteen grandsugars, Ron and Caryl live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County, in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Contact links for Caryl:

Orphan Train Sweet Romances, and Train Travel in 1855

Hello everyone, Wendy May Andrews here. When I was planning this series I had to give a great deal of thought to the timing. I chose to set the series in 1855. I didn’t want to address any of the issues connected with the war so I had to make it as early as possible, but I also needed the train to go far enough West to be interesting. And, of course, there was the orphanage too. That’s the only place I took “creative license”. Mr. Charles Brace established the Children’s Aid Society in 1853 but in my first book, I have it that my heroine, Sophie, was a resident at the orphanage for ten years before she became one of the workers there. So the timing of that doesn’t quite jive. But other than that, everything else was perfect. And, too, there’s the fact that orphanages did exist in New York City ten years before 1855, just not one’s organized by Mr. Brace as he was only born in 1826.

The history surrounding the Orphan Trains is fascinating! I’m sure there are many sad tales in the annals of its history, but for the most part it afforded the opportunity for children to have a better life than what they would have had as abandoned orphans in the stews of the big city. Mr. Brace’s theory was that every farm table had room for at least one more, so he arranged for new homes out West with families who promised to house and educate the children. Unlike some other similar arrangements, Mr. Brace did not place the children in any sort of indentured circumstances so they had a better prospect for a happy future.

I also enjoyed researching what their new town might be like. This is a four book series. The first one, the prequel, takes place exclusively in New York, but the rest are set in their new town in Missouri. All three young women are city bred. The first, Cassie, had no intention of staying in the small town. She had just grown attached to the orphans and wanted to ensure they were getting good homes. Being a socialite from New York, she was a little appalled by the circumstances of the new town. But the other two young women, who planned to make new lives for themselves out West, were relieved to find it wasn’t as primitive as they had feared. Perspective is everything!

The rail construction boom also resulted in the development of new villages and towns along the way. The readier access to supplies with the train going through helped these new towns grow and thrive. I can’t say I would have loved to live back then, but it’s certainly a fascinating time to visit through research and good books.

Thank you for stopping by my guest visit here at Petticoats & Pistols! I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of Book 1 in the Orphan Train series. (Buy link for Sophie – Book 1

 

      SOPHIE

Blurb:

His pursuit of her threatens everything – except her heart:

Sophie Brooks has lived at the orphanage since she was ten years old. Now nineteen, she’s not only a resident, she works there as well. It’s the only true home she can remember and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe.

When her budding relationship with the son of one of the orphanage’s benefactors threatens the charity’s funding, Sophie must choose between her loyalties and her heart.

 

 

I’d love it if you check out the whole series page on Amazon

I can be found in various places around the web and I’d love to stay in touch: 

 

 

 

 

Updated: April 28, 2019 — 8:44 am

Welcome Guest Kari Trumbo!

When a cowgirl becomes a cow boss…

We all love reading about a fantastic hero. Sometimes, he even steals the show in romantic fiction. If you read westerns, the male lead is expected to be dashing, heroic, strong, capable, a good horseman, and he’s always good to his lady. But what about the heroine?

While the number of women who came west in the early-to-mid 1800’s was sparse (some figures claim it was as little as 10 to 1) by the late 1800’s, women were coming west for jobs and adventure. Just like their male counterparts. Women of the west were doing things that their sisters back east would swoon over.

In Along a Tangled Path, book 6 in my 7 book series, Brothers of Belle Fourche, Wilhelmina “Will” Galliger pretends to be a mute boy so, she can rope and ride her way to her own land. Her goal is her own ranch. My research tells me, though she is fictional, she was not alone. My character is very loosely based on Lucile Mulhall, from Charles Wellington’s Let ‘Er Buck: A Story of the Passing of the Old West. She is listed as the only woman to down a steer within the time limit at the Pendleton Round Up, among other things.

Women were allowed to have these roles, but they were rare. In the case of my heroine, she dresses as a man to avoid conflict. Of course, it adds a whole heaping helping when it’s discovered exactly who she is. Some women in the west hid who they were, such as Charely Parkhurst. Others, Like Lucile, did not.

 

One of the biggest freedoms women of the west enjoyed, was the ability to not only own land, but to retain it if their husband died or divorced them. This was not the case in other areas of the country. In Along a Tangled Path, Will was treated as chattel by her father as she was growing up and she associates happiness with ownership. She doesn’t want a husband, she wants land. Where she came from, land could be taken if a husband decided to divorce her. So, part of her motivation to act like a man is not only for respect, but because it suits her goal.

I love a strong heroine, but does that make the hero weak? I don’t think so. Charles was so much fun to write as Will’s foil. He’s trying to protect her secret and his heart all at once. He respects her, but it’s important he act as a traditional cowboy hero should and he must protect her above her secret.

For more information on cowgirls of the west, you can click HERE
And to find out more about Lucile you can click HERE  or HERE

Giveaway!! An autographed copy of Along a Tangled Path will be given away to one commenter. Let’s discuss: Do you love a strong female heroine or a more traditional Victorian heroine?

 

 

Kari Trumbo is a bestselling author of Christian and sweet romance. 

She writes swoony heroes and places that become characters with historical detail and heart.
She’s a stay-at-home mom to four vibrant children. When she isn’t writing, or editing, she home schools her children and pretends to keep up with them. 

Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing when no one’s listening, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota, land of frigid toes and mosquitoes the size of compact cars, with her husband of over twenty years. They have two daughters, two sons, one cat, and one hungry wood stove.

 

You can find Kari at the following links:

Facebook      Bookbub     Website     Amazon                                   

Link to book

 

 

Updated: April 8, 2019 — 7:33 pm

Welcome Guest Heidi Peltier!

 

“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-coming.”

– Captain Bill McDonald, Texas Ranger

 

Almost since their inception, the name Texas Rangers has called up a romantic image of the men who valiantly stood against any and all enemies. Brave, noble, and true, they fought to protect the land they loved, and they became legends for it. There are lawmen, and then, there are Texas Rangers. In his book The Men Who Wear the Star: The Story of the Texas Rangers, Charles Robinson quotes former adjutant general William W. Sterling, a former Ranger himself, who said, “There is no question but that a definite potency exists in the name ‘Texas Ranger.’ Take two men of equal size and arm them with identical weapons. Call one of them a deputy sheriff and the other a Ranger. Send each of these officers out to stop a mob or quell a riot. The crowd will resist the deputy, but will submit to the authority of the Ranger.”

Texas history is full of examples of these legendary champions of the state. Consider men like John Coffee Hays who single-handedly held off a band of Comanche Indians at Enchanted Rock in 1841, Samuel H. Walker who helped develop the Colt Walker single-action revolver, and Frank Hamer who helped hunt down Bonnie and Clyde. Captain Bill McDonald was once sent to stop a prize fight, and when asked when other officers would arrive, he said, “Hell! Ain’t I enough?” “One Riot, One Ranger.” They’re just that great!

The Rangers have a Major League Baseball team named for them. They have their own museum in Waco, Texas. The one and only Chuck Norris chose to play a Ranger on TV! Let’s face it – Texas Rangers are Just. Plain. Cool.

 

When I started The Lawmen of Texas series, I had no idea it would even be a series, but while I was working on the first book, my cousin Erick Reed passed away after twenty years of battling a kidney disease. He was only 42. Since we were kids, he dreamed of serving his country as a fighter pilot. He would have been a doting husband and a fun dad, but the disease kept him from those things and ultimately took him from us. After he was gone, my heart needed to rewrite his story for him, to give him the adventure and happy ending he should have had. Once I got the idea, book two practically wrote itself. I don’t write about pilots, but, I think, making him a Texas Ranger is just about as cool! The Ranger’s Purpose is my gift to Erick.

 

 

Texas Ranger Erick Carlton is tough, intimidating, unyielding, but two gunshots to the shoulder can render a man useless. He’s got outlaws to track down and can’t afford time to heal, but these injuries have knocked him flat. It doesn’t hurt that the nurse tending him is a beautiful young woman, and taking time to recover might not be so bad, if only the damage from the gunshots wasn’t so life-altering.

Mahala Peters doesn’t want to be anywhere near this stranger, or any man for that matter. Since a terrifying attack three years ago, she’s been in hiding and would like nothing more than for Erick Carlton to pack up and head out. But as his wounds heal, so does her heart. She knows she shouldn’t get attached. The man is on a mission, after all, bound to leave as soon as he’s healed. Only now, does she really want him to go?

With lingering complications from his wound and the draw of a woman he can’t provide for, can this Ranger find his true purpose?

 

Heidi is offering a digital copy of  The Ranger’s Purpose to three commenters on today’s blog.

 

Heidi loves connecting with readers.

Visit Heidi’s website and sign up to join her newsletter.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

Updated: April 12, 2019 — 7:18 am

Welcome Guest Zina Abbott!

Postmasters & Political Patronage 
by Zina Abbott
 

 
Welcome! My name is Zina Abbott. I am pleased to have been invited as a guest blogger on Pistols & Petticoats today.
 
I have recently written two book for the series, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge. In my second book, Diantha, my character not only ends up taking over the Ridge Hotel in town after the death of her husband in a mining disaster that killed many townspeople, she also ended up taking over her late husband’s postmaster position. When readers first meet Diantha in my first book I wrote for the series, Nissa, she serves as the postmistress.
 

General Post Office Department, Washington, D.C. ca. 1900-1906

 

Before the Postal Reform Act of 1970, there was no United States Postal Service. Mail delivery in the United States was managed by the General Post Office Department, a federal agency based in Washington, D.C. The Post Office Department handled contracts for mail delivery, often awarding them to
freight train companies, stagecoach lines (think Butterfield and Wells &
Fargo, plus a host of one-man operations) and, later, railroads. Then there was that glorious year and a half where the freight company, Russell, Majors and Waddell, won the mail contract for the Pony Express.
 

Old Matagorda, Texas Post Office, built 1871

 
Postmaster positions, however, were an entirely different matter. They were a “political plum.” Awarding postmaster positions was not controlled by the General Post Office Department. They were appointed by the local congressman for the district in which the city or town was located in recognition (payment) for either the support, both financial and other means, helping the congressman win election or achieve his political aims. Men awarded postmaster positions in large cities were guaranteed a nice salary and steady employment—at least while that congressman stayed in office. In smaller towns where the citizens’ involvement in a congressman’s career was less, the awards may have been tempered by the selections also being narrowed down to who had the facilities and ability to run a post office operation. Either way, for many years, awarding postmaster positions was one means a congressman had of rewarding those who either served their country well, or furthered the congressman’s political career.

Seaside Post Office founded 1889

 
I became aware of this when I started working for the United States Postal Service in 1980 as a relief carrier (think vacation and sick day coverage). The reform act did away with political patronage for postal positions. By the time I applied, I submitted an application to the USPS, took a test, was awarded a score based on the test results, and was called in for interviews based on my test scores.

Unidentified Rural Free Delivery carrier – fortunately I drove a right-hand drive car.

 
However, I was hired to back up a man who had been hired as a rural carrier through political patronage. Like postmaster positions in his time, he submitted his application for the job to his local congressman, who took into consideration his military service, community service in addition to his political party. A second rural carrier in the office where I worked was also hired under the old rules of political patronage.
 
It is good to keep note that, back in the days of the old West, you might find a post office operation in a variety of businesses. Mercantile stores were good locations. Sometimes, a stagecoach business used a local hotel to pick up and drop off customers and the mail.
 
 
In my book, Diantha, Wells Fargo had its own business location. I used the hotel lobby for the local post office. Diantha, whose late husband had not involved her in either the hotel business or the post office operation prior to his death, figured once she notified the Post Office Department she was taking over her husband’s job to become the local postmistress, everything was settled. However, the local Utah Territorial Congressman had different ideas. It was his right to award the job as a reward for political support – and he did just that. Imagine how surprised Diantha, the Wells Fargo stagecoach employees, and the citizens of Wildcat Ridge were when Hank Cauley showed up in town and announced he was the new postmaster.
 
My two books in the series, The Widows of Wildcat Ridge, are written to be stand-alone novels. However, they do have several connections which readers will enjoy if they are read in order as a duet. Today I am offering a free ebook copy of my first book in the series, Nissa, to one person selected at random who leaves a comment in the comments section of this blog post.
 
 
 
Nissa and her two children used to live in the mine supervisor’s house before her husband was killed in the Gold King Mine disaster. Forced to leave, she is reduced to seeking a job washing the laundry for the Ridge Hotel. Dallin comes to Wildcat Ridge for a horse auction. Attracted to the lovely red-headed laundress, he decides he wants to leave Wildcat Ridge with more than new horses.
 
Hal, one of two wranglers working for Dallin, discovers the homely teller working for Crane Bank is hiding something—her beauty inside and out. He would like to take her back to the ranch where he works, but there is no place for her in a bunkhouse full of men. Birdie, hoping to earn enough to escape Wildcat Ridge and apply for a bank teller job in a large city, changes her mind after meeting the handsome wrangler.
 
To read the full book description and find the purchase link for Nissa, please CLICK HERE.
 
 
Diantha is forced to learn how to run a hotel and manage mail delivery after the death of her husband. Her world is turned upside down when a stranger shows up in town claiming to be the new postmaster. Hank’s business failed and he was forced to live with and work for his brother. Things look up when his brother uses his influence to get him a small postmaster position in Wildcat Ridge. However, he runs into trouble when the current postmistress is not willing to give up the job.
 
Buck, a wrangler who came to Wildcat Ridge for the horse auction with his boss, finds when he returns to the ranch, he cannot get that sassy, redhead, Hilaina, out of his mind. Hilaina is desperate to find a husband in a town full of widows, but will not leave Wildcat Ridge and her widowed mother behind.
 
To read the full book description and find the purchase link for Diantha, please CLICK HERE.
 
 
About
Zina Abbott
:
 
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols
for her historical novels. A member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, and American Night Writers Association. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.”
When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.
 
 
Connect
with Zina Abbott
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Updated: April 5, 2019 — 8:11 am

Our Friday Guest: Charlene Raddon

Miss Charlene Raddon has boarded the stage and will arrive Friday, March 15, 2019!

She’ll talk about the Women of Wildcat Ridge series that’s winding down. It’s been a heck of a ride!

And you’ll be happy to note that she’s toting giveaways!

Now, that’s welcome news and will have you heading over.

We’ll be here waiting and give you a big howdy.

So come and leave a comment to get in the drawing!

 

Updated: March 14, 2019 — 9:06 am

A Deal Made in Texas by Michelle Major

Thanks so much for having me here today. I’m really excited to be a part of Petticoats & Pistols.

I was taking a tiny break from writing recently and checking out Facebook (not procrastinating at all!). A trailer for a new Netflix movie caught my eye and I wanted to share because it was so intriguing.

Have you heard of ‘The Highwaymen’? It releases at the end of this month and stars Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson – which might be enough of a recommendation right there. They play two former Texas Rangers who are hired to track down the infamous duo, Bonnie and Clyde.

I’m familiar with Bonnie and Clyde but admit that some of that comes from the old Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway movie, which somewhat romanticized their violent crime spree. What I found so fascinating about the new movie is the contrast between the ‘newfangled’ innovations in law enforcement – it was the early 1930s and the FBI was now a part of things along with air surveillance and more modern technological advances. But the governor of Texas calls on the ‘cowboys’ to bring in the bad guys when everything else fails.

There’s something really special about the lore of the western lawman. To me, that history is what makes western romance so captivating – even when it’s contemporary. There’s the spirit of self-reliance coupled with a huge sense of community – those two things make a perfect backdrop for characters finding their way to love.

Which is why I’ve been honored to be part of the Fortunes of Texas continuity for the past several years. Writing is such solitary work most of the time so it’s fun—and sometimes challenging—to bounce ideas around with other authors and make sure character development and plotlines work together. Because all of us see the outline for each of the six books, I really enjoy reading the books when they release to see how each author has made the story their own.

In 2019 readers meet ‘The Lost Fortunes’ – and the miniseries kicked off with my hero, Gavin Fortunado, in A Deal Made in Texas. He is tired of his family’s matchmaking ways and embarks on a pretend engagement with longtime friend Christine Briscoe. But their feelings become real all too quickly and it was so fun to write the two of them struggling not to fall in love when they’re perfect for each other.

 

 

 I’ll be giving away 2 print copies of A Deal Made in Texas (US only). To win, tell me your favorite western movie or TV show.

I have a feeling ‘The Highwaymen’ might end up on my list of faves.

 

Here’s a little more about A Deal Made in Texas:

It’s like a page ripped from her diary when Christine Briscoe finds herself dancing with Gavin Fortunado at his sister’s wedding. It’s like a scene from her dreams when the flirtatious attorney asks her to be his—pretend—girlfriend. But there is nothing make-believe about the sparks between the quiet office manager and the sexy Fortune scion. Considering Gavin’s reputation, she might be heading for heartbreak. Or maybe, just maybe, straight down the aisle!

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