Category: History – General

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:
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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!

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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?

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.

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!

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The Allure of Fort Laramie ~ by Amanda Cabot

When you picture a western fort from the nineteenth century, do you envision small, perhaps even dilapidated wooden buildings surrounded by a wooden stockade?  I did until I visited Fort Laramie.  It was the summer of 2004, only a few months after my husband and I had moved from the East Coast to Cheyenne.  We needed a break from the unpacking, picture hanging, and other tasks associated with moving into a new house, so we headed for the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.

Old Fort Laramie store foundation

Foreground: foundation of barracks; background: part of officer’s row, including the post trader’s store (the one-story building in the center back)

It was not what I expected.  There was no stockade, the buildings were far from primitive, and the way they flanked the central parade ground made it reminiscent of a New England village, not one of the military forts those old Westerns made popular.

Old Fort Laramie dining room

Nothing primitive about this dining room.

Old Fort Laramie birdbath

An in-ground birdbath.

As we entered the Visitor Center, the surprises continued, and I found myself fascinated by the elegant lifestyle the officers and their wives experienced during the last decade of the fort’s existence (the 1880s).Houses were surrounded by picket fences, many yards had flower gardens, and women strolled along the boardwalks carrying parasols.  There were even birdbaths.  Of course, since this was Wyoming with its famous winds, the birdbaths weren’t the typical basin-on-a-pedestal style that you might expect.  Instead, they were circular depressions in the ground. As I said, it was not at all what I had expected, but what I saw started my brain whirling, and I knew this would not be my only visit to the fort.

Old Fort Laramie Officers Row

Partially reconstructed officers’ housing and Old Bedlam (the two-story white frame building)

Old Fort Laramie Burt house

Andrew and Elizabeth Burt’s home. The red SUV in the background was definitely not there when they lived at the fort!

There’s a lot to see.  While many of the buildings have been destroyed, a number have been restored to their former glory to give visitors a sense of what life was like at the fort that was a major landmark on the Oregon Trail.  The most famous of those buildings is Old Bedlam, the oldest military structure in Wyoming.  Curious about the nickname?  It was originally constructed for bachelor officers’ housing, and those officers were a little … shall we say rowdy?  Later in its existence, it was used as post headquarters, and only a few years ago it was the site of a wedding.  I suspect the guests were better behaved than those bachelor officers of 150 years ago.One of the restored houses is the one where Lt. Col. Andrew Burt and his wife Elizabeth lived during their two tours of duty at the fort.  If you’ve never heard of the Burts, their story is told in Indians, Infants and Infantry: Andrew and Elizabeth Burt on the Frontier by Merrill J. Mattes, a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants an authentic view of life at nineteenth century forts.  The author used Elizabeth’s Burt’s diaries and letters to create a story filled with fascinating details of real life.

What does all this have to do with my current release?  Absolutely nothing.  A Stolen Heart is set in a charming town in the Texas Hill Country, not on a military fort.  Its hero is a sheriff, not a soldier.  Its heroine is a schoolteacher who becomes a confectioner, not a woman dealing with tasteless dried potatoes.  But Fort Laramie is such a wonderful place that I couldn’t resist taking this opportunity to tell you more about it.  If you visit Wyoming, I hope you’ll consider spending a day at Fort Laramie.  It’s well worth the detour.

And now to the highlight of the post: the giveaway.  I’m offering a signed copy of either Summer of Promise, which takes place at Fort Laramie during its elegant decade, or my new release, A Stolen Heart, to one commenter.

 

A stolen Heart

The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits . . .

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé.

But when she discovers he has disappeared—and that he left behind a pregnant wife—Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

The book is available at Barnes & Noble, and Christian Book Distributors.

 

Amanda CabotBestselling author Amanda Cabot invites you into Texas’s storied past to experience adventure, mystery—and love. She more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroad trilogy, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming.

Find her online at:
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Welcome Guest Author Tracie Peterson!

Hello all of you wonderful readers,

This month I’m debuting a new series titled Heart of the Frontier. Book one is titled Treasured Grace and is the story of three sisters in 1847. The focal setting of the story is the Whitman Mission in the area of present day Walla Walla, Washington.Whitman Mission, Walla Walla, Washington

Whitman Mission aerial of grounds layout

This is a model of the mission layout with the main mission house to the right, the blacksmith shop in the center and the Emigrant’s House on the left. The mill pond (upper left) was where they also had a grist mill.

Treasured Grace by Tracie PetersonThis location was the site of the Whitman Mission Massacre that took place November 29, 1847. It was this massacre that truly changed the course of westward expansion and brought on the setting up of military forts along the Oregon Trail.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (she was one of the first two white women who crossed the Rocky Mountains) had tried for over ten years to win the hearts and minds of the Cayuse Indians in their area. However, a measles epidemic struck and killed a great many Cayuse, as well as whites. The Cayuse were convinced that Whitman (who was a doctor as well as a preacher) was trying to kill them and so on November 29th, they attacked and killed the doctor and Narcissa, along with most of the other men who were living at the mission. The remaining fifty-four women and children were taken hostage and held for nearly a month by the Cayuse.

The mission site is part of the National Parks system and open to visitors.

On my many visits there to glean information for my series, I found the park rangers to be some of the best I’ve encountered while doing research.  It was fascinating to learn about the Cayuse people. They were a nomadic people who were known for their horses and horsemanship. They were also considered to have some of the fiercest warriors.

They lived in tulle mat lodges and traveled with the seasons to harvest various roots and vegetation, as well as take advantage of the salmon fishing.

In the 1840’s this area of America was called Oregon Country. It was mostly inhabited by Native Americans and the British. The latter ran a string of Hudson’s Bay Company forts and traded with both the Native Americas and whites who came west. I mention this because another fascinating aspect of this massacre and the aftermath was the part the Hudson’s Bay Company played.

When it was learned that 54 white women and children were being held captive, Peter Skene Ogden (one of the factors at Fort Vancouver – now present day Vancouver, Washington) went to work to secure their release.  He and Chief Factor James Douglas put together a ransom hoping they could convinced the Cayuse to let the women and children go without harm. The ransom included 62 blankets, 63 cotton shirts, 12 Hudson Bay rifles, 600 loads of ammunition, 7 pounds of tobacco and 12 flints.  Eventually the Cayuse did agree to this and the women and children were set free. I thought it quite interesting, if not touching that The Hudson’s Bay Company never billed the American settlers for the ransom. I thought it equally interesting that reimbursement by the American government was never offered.

If you’d like to read a brief summary of the actual attack, this website should help.

I had a lot of fun researching this series and hope you enjoy it.  Book 2 Beloved Hope will come out in June and Book 3 Cherished Mercy is due out in September.Tracie Peterson

 

Tracie will send one of today’s commenters a lovely gift basket containing Treasured Grace and five more of her latest book, plus some other goodies. Take our word for it: You’ll love the prize!

 

Find Tracie online at her website, TraciePeterson.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Society of the Wolf & The Water Dance

Howdy!

And welcome to another wonderful Tuesday.

Lately I’ve been furiously engaged in writing my next book, which has the working title of BRAVE WOLF’S LADY.  The hero is a member of the Society of the Wolf.  Society of the Wolf?  What’s that?

Well, in America’s past, the American Indian tribes had many different societies that a man might belong to.  The Society of the Wolf was a very secretive society.  In fact, outside of its own members, no one else in the tribe knew who belonged to this society.  Why?  Because this was the society of those special individuals who were the eyes, the ears and the life blood of the tribe — the scout.

apachescout4And so, because my hero is a scout, my nose has been poked into books about the scout.  Now, one of the fascinating abilities of the scout of old was the particular way he moved in water.  So graceful was it, it has often been called the Scout’s Water Dance.

Let me tell you a bit about it.  We all know that if one drops a rock into the water — or any object — it makes concentric circles in the water.  Any movement, it would seem, would cause water to move and to announce the presence of man or animal in the water.  So, how did the scout of yesteryear manage to move in the water without being seen, without making those telltale concentric circles, and so be able to  stalk his prey, or obtain information on the enemy?

I’m going to rely heavily upon the book by Tom Brown, Jr., THE WAY OF THE SCOUT to tell you a little bit more about this.  As I said in my last post, Mr. Brown was taken under the wing of an old Apache Indian, whom Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, called Grandfather.  Grandfather had been trained as a young man into the ageless ways of the Society of the Wolf — the scout — and Grandfather wished to pass along some his knowledge so that these things didn’t pass out of existence.

cheyennescoutI’m going to quote from the book now.  Grandfather is speaking:

“You must first understand that it (water) is the blood of our earth Mother, the same blood that courses through your veins.  Once entering the water you must blend your mind with that of the water, thus becoming part of the water and ultimately becoming invisible while wrapped in its mind…  …You must learn to move with the water, for to disobey its laws and move against its power is to perish.”  THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.

And so started the lesson, which is at first a little humorous to read.  As Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, were learning to become part of the water, they were having a tough time of it — trying to keep clear of brushes and fallen logs in the water.  However, he goes on with the lesson and says in his book, “After nearly two full hours of being impaled, battered, and tangled in sharp brush, Rick and I gave in to the stream’s energy and began to move freely, silently, and quickly.”  He goes on to say, “The stream and Grandfather had somehow taught us a great lesson without uttering a word…”  THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.

siouxscoutHowever, they had been going downstream and had reached their destination.  Now they had to somehow go upstream.  Says Mr. Brown that he and his friend Rick were struggling even more now and really fighting the currents of the water.  He says that both he and Rick were being beat up by the struggle to fight upstream.  Imagine then, these two boys, who upon emerging from the water being battered and tired, with no energy left, then found Grandfather waiting for them — for he had gotten far ahead of them in the water.  Says Mr. Brown, “He had that smile on his face, unruffled and relaxed, depicting an air of not having struggled at all.  Rick and I, on the other hand, were cold, exhausted, bruised, and cut…”

Grandfather then told the boys that they had chosen to fight the water, instead of moving with it.  But how can one move with the water upstream?  Grandfather answered their questions by signaling them to follow him back into the water.  And here’s what Mr. Brown writes:

“We began to follow Grandfather closely.  His motions were like those of a well-choreographed water dance, a flowing ballet, where he moved effortlessly.  He weaved back and forth, riding whirlpools, slipping through backwaters on the inside parts of bends in the stream, and dancing across submerged logs without a struggle.  He used the power of the waters to move him.”  THE WAY OF THE SCOUT by Tom Brown, Jr.

Isn’t that a beautiful description?0[5]  There is more, of course, as Mr. Brown and his friend, Rick, learn how to move in the water by watching herons and egrets who were in the shallows.  They learn how to raise up out of the water without leaving any of the telltale concentric circles, and they learn to stalk the more aware animals — a fox for example — from the water.  Mr. Brown says that he and his friend, Rick, went on to stalk all kinds of animals from the water, and he says, “We laughed at the antics of our local wildlife population around the waters of camp.  They had become a bit neurotic when approaching the water, but nonetheless seemed happy to join in the game.”

This is an incredible book and an even more incredible journey that Mr. Brown takes you on in this book.  It’s an older book, copyrighted in 1995.  But in the book, Mr. Brown makes mention of a school, a Wilderness Survival School.  If you’re interested, you might pick up the book and see if the school still exists.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll leave a message.  Remember that SENECA SURRENDER is on sale at Amazon and Books-A-Million.  Pick up your copy today!

Links:  Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Surrender-Warriors-Karen-Kay/dp/1539695786/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488852364&sr=1-1&keywords=seneca+surrender+by+karen+kay&tag=pettpist-20

Books-A-Million:  http://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=6888525182718&query=Seneca%20Surrender:%20%20Warriors%20of%20the%20Iroquois&where=rare_search&search=Search&work_id=35762341&qty_avail=2

Updated: March 6, 2017 — 9:13 pm

Give Me a Cowboy and the Rodeo

For Christmas my wonderful son-in-law bought tickets to the PBR in Wichita, Kansas, which will take place in a couple of months.  This isn’t the first bull riding event he’s taken me. They are all a treat and brought to mind the backstory to my $.99 eBook release of the first book in the Kasota Spring Romance series The Troubled Texan. Since this contemporary series takes place several generations later than one of the six Texas anthologies I was fortune enough to be included in with Fellow Filly Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace, Give Me a Cowboy, about a Texas Panhandle rodeo in the late 1800’s, I decided it might be fun to give you all a glimpse into how we developed this book. Without it, there would be no Troubled Texan.

Typically, the publisher matches up authors in a short story collection or an anthology and each author writes their own story based on the house’s criteria. In our case, our editor matched the four of us up and all but this one book had a theme and each of us wrote an individual story.

For our second book, we tried something different. We decided we’d all intertwine our stories around one rodeo.  This was really gonna be fun and challenging, so we got together and went through all of the historical facts. The first date chosen had to go because there was no rodeos in the Texas Panhandle until the summer of 1888. Our story changed dates to the 4th of July 1890. The Pecos, Texas, competition occurred on July 4, 1883. One thing about historical writers, particularly writing about your home town, you must stay as authentic as possible.  So we needed the name of a fictional town.  I was coming back from Dallas, and looked over and low and behold there was a railroad crossing a few miles from Amarillo … West Kasota.  In the 1800’s seemingly everything had a Springs attached, thus Kasota Spring, Texas, came to fruition.

Now for the next problem, since there were only four official events in the rodeo at that time, we all had to select one for our story.  We were sitting around the work table.  Jodi and Linda selected their events, so that left DeWanna and me.  I’ve always loved bull riding. Although it was an unofficial event, taking place somewhere far away from the rodeo grounds, we decided to include it.  I’d really been watching and studying up on bull riding because I had a fantastic story in mind or at least that was how I saw it.  Well, guess what?  DeWanna was the next in line to select; and, of course, what did she choose but bull riding and the reason, her brother was a bullrider!

I tried not to act disappointed when the only choice left was wild-cow milking!  Yes, just like today in our rodeos. The reason was simple, the ranches had to bring in the mama cow to take care of her youngster who was participating in calf roping.  Eventually, someone came up with the idea that if they hauled both mama and calf in why not make an event out of it … so I got wild cow milking.

To tell you the truth, I think my scene in the rodeo was so much fun to write.  It rains, so my hero and heroine who were undesirably teamed up, really got to know one another by the end of the scene!

In The Troubled Texan I borrowed, with her permission, several of Linda’s character’s families as founders of Kasota Springs.  Two pioneers out of my stories I truly loved were Teg Tegler and Edwinna Dewey (from the Christmas anthology). Here is a picture I took at the Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas, a few years ago. This couple is exactly how I envisioned Teg and Edwinna.  I know it’s okay to use their photo, since I got their permission and they asked me to autograph my stories to them as Teg and Edwinna!

The fictional Teg’s great-grandson works on the Jack’s Bluff ranch in The Troubled Texan and Edwinna’s great-great granddaughter lives in Kasota Springs still and has a book of her own as heroine that’s under contract.  It’s so much fun for me to write about these folks and their dreams.

How about a few fun facts about the rodeos of the 1800’s.

  • Before the 20th century, rodeos were called “Cowboy Competitions.”
  • Bragging rights for an entire year were at stake.
  • Cowboys tuned up their horses, shook the kink out of their ropes and made final decisions on who mugs and who milks.  That was my story. My hero did the mugging and my heroine did the milking in the rain.
  • Today, the cowboy winning events earn huge purses; however, in the original rodeos, they won a small purse and blue ribbons from the trim of a girl’s dress or bonnet.
  • Jail cells were used as boarding house rooms, since even prisoners were let out of the hoosegow for the rodeo.
  • The opening was full of “speechifying”, but the crowd never let it last very long.
  • They had chuck wagon competitions, just like today.  Fares included beef, potatoes, biscuits and bread pudding.
  • There was a lot of music competition.  Singers and pickers: guitars, fiddles, and poetry.
  • The oldest cowboy in the area always had the honor of shooting the pistol to begin competitions.
  • There were no rules that governed the rodeo, like there is today. The grounds were typically near the railroad and/or stock yards, because the main street was needed for parades and competitions.

When the evening was over, usually after a dance, everyone climbed aboard creaking buckboards, dusty buggies, and faithful horses and scattered to resume the tasks of their normal lives and to work on their skills for next year’s competition.

My question to you all, do you like rodeos and what is your favorite event?

 

To five lucky winners who leave comments,

I am giving away copies of the eBook

The Troubled Texas!

 

Updated: February 27, 2017 — 8:03 pm

True Facts of the Old West

Though it’s hard to imagine the likes of Wyatt Earp or Bat Masterson bowling, this was actually a popular sport in the Old West.  According to True West magazine, one of the strangest bowling alleys was built in California in 1866. After felling a majestic Redwood, miners turned the flat, heavily-waxed surface into a bowling alley.

Speaking of sports, baseball was also a popular sport in the Old West. Even Wild Bill Hickok was a baseball fan and reportedly umpired a game wearing a pair of six-shooters.

We think of the old West as wild, but it pales in comparison to what’s going on in some cities today. From the 1850s to the 1890s, Texas held the title as the most gun-fighting state. But during that forty-year span, the state logged in only 160 shootouts.

The number of Old West bank robberies were also greatly exaggerated. During this same forty-year period, only eight bank robberies were recorded in the entire frontier. Today, yearly bank robberies number in the thousands.  California and Texas have the highest number of bank robberies. At long last, the west lives up to its reputation.

Some cowboys were real swingers. Yep, they even played golf.

It breaks my heart to say this, but some of the phrases associated with the Old West weren’t actually coined until the 1900s, which means I can’t use them in a book.  These include “Stick em up” and “hightail.”

The one thing outlaws feared was dying with their boots on.  To “die with your boots on” was a term that meant “to be hanged.”  Outlaws often pleaded with the sheriff to take their boots off so their mothers would never know the truth of how they died.

Before the days of GPS, it was the chuck wagon cook’s job to keep the cattle drives heading in the right direction. Before retiring, his last chore of the day was to place the tongue of the chuck wagon facing the North Star. This was so the trail master would know which direction to move the herd in the morning.

It might be hard to believe, but most cowboys didn’t carry guns while riding. Carrying a gun was a nuisance to the riders and firing it would scare cattle and horses.

Of the 45000 cowboys working during the heyday of cattle drives, some 5000 were African-American.

The tradition of spreading sawdust on saloon floors supposedly started in Deadwood, South Dakota. The sawdust was used to hide the gold dust that fell out of customer pockets, and was swept up at the end of the night.

So what Old West fact did you find most surprising or interesting?

 

 

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

A Match Made in Texas

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Updated: February 23, 2017 — 6:54 am

The Scout and The American Indian

Howdy!

Welcome to another Tuesday blog here at Petticoats and Pistols.  Sadly, one of my publishers, SAMHAIN PUBLISHING, is closing its doors, and although I’m not exactly certain what that mean in terms of e-books and such, I thought that I would like to give away a few e-books today…just in case those e-books are turned off when I post again (March).  So come on in and leave a message.  Over here to the right are the Giveaway Guidelines that rule our free give-aways.  So take a look, and then come on into the blog and let’s talk.

The Scout.  I’m fascinated by the philosophy and the skills of the old scout of the American Indian tribes.  Over to the left here is a picture of “Curly,” who was probably one of the most famous “scouts.”  He was a handsome man, and many of the pictures depicting scouts show the image of Curly.  But was he really a scout?

Well, he worked for the military.  He was Crow, a traditional enemy of the Sioux, and he used his skills to help Custer track down the Sioux and kill them.

Hmm…  Yes, he could track.  Yes, he knew many things about tracking and about the environment that the white man didn’t know.  But did he adhere to the philosophy of the true scout?

No, he did not.

The Picture to the right here says that this is a Sioux scout, another handsome man.  However, though I’m sure he did some scouting for the military, the fact that he hired himself out to scout and had his picture taken as a scout, would pretty much show that he was not a true scout.  Why?

Reason number one:  Okay — this I find so very, very interesting.  The society of the scout — the true scout — was extremely secretive.  In fact, no one in the tribe, outside of the actual society, knew who were their scouts.  These men led dual lives, because to announce themselves as a “scout” would be as to deliver themselves up to a possible enemy.  It would defeat the very philosophy of the scout.

Reason number two:  A scout was a peacemaker.  Although the scout trained physically every day of his life, learning to endure and flourish in all kinds of weather and all kinds of conditions, he used those skills to improve body control, not to hurt others.  Rather he used these skills to control his body so well, that he could translate that control over into his thoughts.  This, then could open up the world of the spiritual nature of life to him.  A scout learned to fight and he could win most every battle — utilizing the wolverine style of fighting.  But he was taught never to start a fight and to also walk away from a fight, even if it meant his own humiliation.  Only if pressed, only if it were a matter of life or death for himself, a loved one or a member of a tribe, would a scout fight to kill.  Indeed, a true scout would be shamed to carry a grudge against a whole people, and he would never submit himself to aid any cause that would murder an entire tribe.

Reason number three:  In the book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, by Tom Brown, Jr., he points out that “Grandfather,” the man who taught Tom and his friend the scouting techniques of the Apache, was very adamant about the fact that these “scouts” who the US Army hired to track down other tribes were not the true scout.  The duties of the scout were to be “the eyes and ears of the clan.” Quote from Tom Brown, Jr., THE WAY OF THE SCOUT.  Their duty was to guide and protect the tribe from all enemies;  to find game and to lead the way to the game.  Always uppermost in their mind was to keep the tribe safe.  Upon their trusted word, depended the lives of every member in that tribe.

Boys were trained for as long as ten years to become a scout.  During that time, they learned the classical methods of tracking, of erecting shelters, of water safety.  But once learned, they were then taught the same skills again, this time with the aspect of secrecy that was the very life breath of the scout.  They learned how to erect shelters that would fade into the environment; they were taught how to read the emotions, mind set and even to tell different injuries to the body of the man or animal they were tracking.  They learned how to endure pain, hunger, cold, heat and yet flourish, but most of all, they learned to respect the right of all life to live, to enjoy life and most of all, how to love all life.

At present I’m engaged in writing my next book, whose working title is BRAVE WOLF’S LADY.  The hero is a scout, a true hero.

Because other men hired themselves out to the army to hunt down other tribes, I think that a great wrong has occurred.  Perhaps it was simply a mistake.  But those men who aided the army were incorrectly called, “scouts.”  They weren’t.  Perhaps many of those men didn’t speak English and so they didn’t set the record straight.  But for whatever reason, I believe that a stigma of viciousness has attached itself in a greater or lesser degree to the name of the scout.  And it is undeserved.  By the way, the picture to the left is Quanah Parker, Commache.

It is one of the privileges of writing, I think, that one is able to put some of these false impressions to rest by telling the real story.  And i also believe that this might well be one of the reasons why I write.

What do you think?  Do you believe that there are some historical lies that perhaps need to be set straight?

Come on in, leave a comment, and by doing so, you will automatically be entered into the drawing.

SENECA SURRENDER is currently on sale at:  https://www.amazon.com/Seneca-Surrender-Warriors-Karen-Kay-ebook/dp/B01M3QAE67/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487645087&sr=8-1&keywords=Karen+Kay+SENECA+SURRENDER&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: February 20, 2017 — 9:48 pm
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