Category: History – General

Marilyn Turk: No Iced Tea?

The fillies are handing a big hey welcome to guest blogger Marilyn Turk! Come on in!

When I began planning the menu for the Cowboy Café in my new novella, Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café, I was pretty sure I knew what foods would be served. After all, my main character, Sarah Beth Taylor, is a southern belle who hails from a Georgia plantation not far from Savannah. Since I, too, am a southern belle, (ahem), I’m familiar with southern food, and I was certain she’d serve iced tea.

But when I discovered our setting in Crinoline, Texas was in 1868 west Texas, I had a problem getting ice to her café. After years in the food service business, I had to rethink how they managed food preservation in 1868. How did they keep things cool in hot, dry Texas? Some of the gracious western writers on this blog offered solutions like spring houses, wells and basements. But ice? Now that was another matter.

Researching the history of commercial ice, I discovered that natural ice was originally harvested in the winter from frozen lakes, ponds and rivers in the north and stored in icehouses through the summer. Frederick Tudor of Boston began the ice trade in 1805, shipping ice blocks stacked with wood shavings and sawdust for insulation by ship or train. By 1847, ice was shipped to 28 cities in the United States, including those in the South like Savannah and Galveston. From there, the product was shipped inland via train or wagon.

As demand grew for natural ice, so did the competition. In 1851, Dr. John Gorrie of Florida (of course) invented mechanical refrigeration and the first ice machine. By 1876, the process had been perfected by other inventors. And in 1877, Elisha Hall and R.R. Everett established the Houston Ice Manufacturing Company, then other ice companies followed. Most ice plants produced 300-pound blocks of ice. Once made, block ice was delivered to homes and commercial businesses, first by mule or horse-drawn wagon. Of course, these wagons were not refrigerated, so they couldn’t travel too far from the ice plant and keep their ice frozen.

But Crinoline Creek was too far to get deliveries by wagon and there was no train there yet. It never got cold enough for the lakes and rivers to freeze, so they couldn’t cut ice from them. So, Sarah Beth couldn’t get ice in 1868 and she couldn’t serve iced tea. The best she could do was make lemonade as long as the general store could get lemons, or maybe order some bottles of sarsaparilla and hope to keep them cool in the well. I’m sure that eventually, ice was available in Crinoline Creek and the Cowboy Café could finally offer iced tea to its customers.

Hey guys, Marilyn has graciously offered to give away a copy of this marvelous book (I know that because I love these authors!!!!) Leave a comment, an opinion, or a pithy remark below about how you’ve managed to “make do” without something you’d like to have over the years? It could be ice… or chocolate?

No. 🙂 Not chocolate! Let’s see what you’ve got below!

Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café” by Marilyn Turk

A refined but feisty southern belle inherits a saloon she plans to convert into a genteel café. Even though her lack of cooking skills threatens disaster, she rejects the town banker’s advice. What will happen when the two lock horns and an unlikely romance simmers on the back burner?

 

A “literary archaeologist,” Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction flavored with suspense and romance for Barbour Books, Winged Publications and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. One of her World War II novels, The Gilded Curse, won a Silver Scroll award. She has also written a series of novels set in 1800 Florida whose settings are lighthouses. In addition, Marilyn’s novellas have been published in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection and Crinoline Cowboys. Marilyn also writes for Guideposts magazine and Daily Guideposts Devotions.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Word Weavers International.

When not writing, Marilyn and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, playing tennis or visiting lighthouses.

Marilyn is a regular contributor to the Heroes, Heroines and History blog. https://www.hhhistory.com). Connect with her at http://pathwayheart.com, https://twitter.com/MarilynTurk, https://www.facebook.com/MarilynTurkAuthor/, https://www.pinterest.com/bluewaterbayou/, marilynturkwriter@yahoo.com.

Tenacity – The Stuff of Cowboys, Pioneers, and Persevering Women

The fillies welcome guest blogger Pamela Meyers!

The title may sound like a odd mix of people-types in the title, but think about it. The cowboys of old were a rare breed as they engaged in cattle drives while moving their herds to market. In the old west they had to deal with wild animals and attacks made by the area’s first dwellers, the American Indians. Today’s cowboys who rodeo (it’s used as a verb in the rodeo world) have to possess a lot of tenacity in all the events, but most of all, bull riding. They get on a 2,000-pound animal with nothing to hold onto but a loose rope tied around the bull. They have no idea if they will end the 8-second ride still astride the wild brute, or on the ground in one piece. And even if they are injured, they get back on a new bull the next week. I’ve seen cowboys ride with casted legs and arms. Tenacity at its best.

I can’t imagine the strength and tenacity that the pioneers of the past had to have to load their meager belongings in a covered wagon and travel west to begin a new life in a part of our country they had never experienced. Like the cowboys who drove their herds across the land, the pioneers had to face possible attacks along with bad weather that could delay them for days.

I’m currently writing historical stories set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that used to bear the nickname “Newport of the West.” It sounds strange today to think of a small town and lake in southeastern Wisconsin as “the west,” but back in the late 19th Century it was considered our country’s west. At that time, only the bravest souls had moved on past the Mississippi to the far-flung actual west

My four-book series called The Newport of the West, follows a fictional family who is displaced by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 as they move north to Lake Geneva, the same way many of Chicago’s wealthy did in real life after the fire.

Each book focuses on the daughter of the fictional couple in the previous book. Each heroine, beginning with Anna Hartwell in Safe Refuge (Book 1) possesses tenacity as they face obstacles, some real and solid ones as well as emotional ones. And along the way they come to lean on the Lord’s strength more than their tenacity to get them through. Anna had to deal with not only her family losing everything in the fire and having to start over in Wisconsin, but also faces the will of her parents when she was set to marry a terrible man in an arranged marriage.

 

The urgency of dissolving the arrangement before the nuptials take place is heightened by her falling in love with a wonderful God-fearing Irish immigrant. A totally unsuitable match in her mother’s estimation.

Is tenaciousness a trait you like to see in the heroines of the books you read? Can you share about a favorite fictional character that exhibits this trait in a way that has kept you turning the pages? Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for either “Safe Refuge” or “Shelter Bay”– I am absolutely delighted to hear what you think!

Pam Meyers has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Her novels, set in and around her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, include Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, along with Safe Refuge, and Shelter Bay.(Books One and Two in the Newport of the West Series.) Tranquility Point, Book Three, will publish in April 2020.

Pam resides in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats, only an hour or so away from Lake Geneva where she often is found nosing around for new story ideas. 

Photographer on a Sidesaddle

with guest blogger Regina Scott.

 

I love researching for a new novel, finding those unique nuggets that are going to bring a character or setting alive. In my recent release, A Distance Too Grand, my heroine Meg Pero is a photographer who wrangles her way onto a survey of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1871, only to discover the Army captain leading the expedition is the man she once refused to marry.

 

That doesn’t stop her. Meg’s used to being a woman in a man’s world. She followed her late father as he shot pictures of everything from a Civil War battlefield to Niagara Falls. Now she has to lug heavy cameras and deal with the harsh chemicals to prepare the glass plate negatives and develop the pictures. On such a rugged expedition, I thought surely she would ride astride.

 

Nope.

 

At that point in American history, except for a few daring or practical ladies out west, most ladies still rode sidesaddle. If Meg wants to be taken as a lady and a professional, she has to ride sidesaddle too. Which means, she needs a riding outfit.

 

And not just any riding outfit. For a two-month survey, Meg has one small trunk and two saddlebags in which to place all her personal belongings. If she wants to change her underthings, she has room for about two outfits. These outfits have to allow her to mount and dismount easily and climb into her photography van to set up her negatives. She must clamber over rocks, duck under trees, and venture out onto ledges to get the perfect shot. Nothing is more important to Meg than getting the shot.

 

Typical riding habits would not work. They were usually designed to look more like men’s wear, with tailored jackets and long, often tight sleeves. They also featured long skirts that could drape over the side of the saddle and hide the lady’s legs. Many of these skirts were so long they trailed on the ground when the lady was standing. All that would make it challenging for Meg’s work. 

 

However, as early as the 1830s, it was possible to purchase a riding habit that came with breeches or even trousers that were worn under a modest skirt. The short pants buttoned just below the knee. The longer trousers extended down over the boots and had a strap that went under the instep to keep them in place. If you look at this picture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can just see the hem of the trouser peeking out under the skirt on the right. Meg brings two such habits with her—one navy with brass buttons and one cream-colored version like what you see on the cover.

 

So, would you have been daring enough to wear breeches under your riding habit or even, ahem, ride astride? Comment below for a chance to win a print copy of A Distance Too Grand.

 

 

 

Regina Scott is the award-winning author of more than forty-five works of warm, witty historical romance. She and her husband live in the Puget Sound area of Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. Her fascination with history has led her to dress as a Regency dandy, drive a carriage four-in-hand, learn to fence, and sail on a tall ship, all in the name of research. You can learn more about her at http://www.reginascott.com or connect with her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/authorreginascott) or Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/reginascottpins

Online Dating in the 19th Century

With guest blogger Becca Whitham.

Online dating is not a new phenomenon…at least matching two people over a distance before they meet in person isn’t. During the 1800’s, it manifested itself as mail-order brides. The Telegraph Proposal is the final book in what Gina and I call our “mail-order brides gone wrong” series. We wanted to explore pitfalls of modern online dating using an historical setting. In our first story, The Promise Bride, we looked at what happens if the person you’ve been corresponding with was lying with malicious intent. The second story, The Kitchen Marriage, explored what happens when the family of the person you’ve been dating thinks only desperate and dishonest people resort to matchmaking services. And the final book looks at what happens when the dating service matches you with someone you not only know but don’t like.

Our research turned up fascinating stories which, if you changed the dates and a few particulars, read like they were ripped from today’s news stories. Women were often lured away from home with the promise of something better only to find themselves lost in the underworld of drugs and prostitution. There were stories of individuals falsely representing themselves to get money. Here’s a quote from The Chicago Tribune (which we added to the opening of The Kitchen Marriage): “…(Here’s) a fact that all women who ever answered a matrimonial advertisement or ever intend to answer one should remember: No man who has the ability or the means to support a wife in comfort needs to advertise for one.” The article was written December 28, 1884, but doesn’t it sound like advice you hear today?

 

To combat the perception that only desperate people would advertise for a spouse, services bloomed to help vet prospective candidates. Today we have Match.com, eHarmony, ChristianMingle, and others. My husband vetted someone. He was a pastor in Washington State at the time, and one of our congregants had been corresponding with a woman in Florida. Her pastor called my husband and said, “Okay. Tell me about this Greg fellow. Is he who he claims to be?” My husband was able to assure the Florida pastor that Greg was indeed telling the truth about himself. A few months later, after the woman had come to Washington for some in-person courting, my husband performed their wedding.

In the 1800’s, matchmaking agencies offered vetting services. For The Telegraph Proposal, our principal characters were tricked into a correspondence courtship by a well-intentioned but deceptive member of such an agency. However, instead of letting the ruse stand, we blew it up early in the story. I don’t know about you, but I hated how the movie “You’ve Got Mail” ended. Had I been Meg Ryan’s character, I would not have lovingly wrapped my arms around Tom Hanks’ neck and kissed him on that bridge after discovering how he’d tricked me. I’d have slapped his face and stomped off! So that’s what happens in The Telegraph Proposal. Our characters had to learn how to find their way back to love after such a disaster.

This skill is something we all need. My husband and I have conducted close to a hundred marriage retreats, and we always talk about how couples need to learn how to fall in love with the person they actually married as opposed to the one they thought they had. Some couples figure it out before marriage, others—like my husband and me—must figure it out afterwards. The opening sentence of The Telegraph Proposal sums it up: “Marriage did not make women experts on men.”

Becca Whitham (WIT-um) Award-winning author, paper crafter, and Army wife, Becca and her twelve-foot long craft cabinet follow her husband of thirty-five years wherever the army needs a good chaplain. She thinks the cabinet should count as a dependent. So far, neither the army nor the IRS is convinced. In between moves from one part of the country to the other, she writes stories combining faith and fiction that touch the heart. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. You can find her online at http://www.beccawhitham.com

 

Ruthy here: Becca has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Telegraph Proposal! Leave a comment below to be entered… and tell us what you think of online dating. The good… the bad… and if you’ve got a great story to share (like Ruthy’s nephew and his lovely wife, married 12 years and three kids, met at Match.com) we’d love to hear it!

LAKOTA SURRENDER, 25th Anniversary Edition Now on Sale

Howdy!

Good Morning (or afternoon or evening) and welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  Well, I have some good news.  I hope you’ll find it good news.  My very first book ever, LAKOTA SURRENDER, which has been out of print for 26 years, is now going back into print.  At present it’s only in e-book format, but soon (very soon, I hope), it will be released once again in paperback for the first time in 26 years.  It’s a big deal for me.  Lots of editing (once again) to hopefully make it a tighter book.  The story line hasn’t changed at all, it’s only that it’s a bit of a tighter book, I think.  Here’s the cover.

 

I love this cover.  As I was doing the final look through on the edits, I had at the same time just received the cover for the first time.  It blew me away.  What do you think?

So I’ll be giving this e-book as a gift to one of you bloggers today who leave a message, so do leave a message, if you please.  So, with this book newly out in print (hopefully soon), I thought I’d post the blurb and an excerpt.  Hope you enjoy.

LAKOTA SURRENDER

by

Karen Kay 

25th Anniversary Edition, publishing November 1, 2019

Forbidden love…

Lakota, Book 1

As she travels west to join her cavalry officer father at his Kansas outpost, Kristina Bogard eagerly anticipates new adventures—and her first glimpse of wild Indians. She has long dreamed of flashing black eyes, skin-covered lodges and buckskin and leather.

What she finds in Fort Leavenworth, though, is a far cry from her Indian nanny’s thrilling stories. What few natives she’s encountered have been broken shadows of their proud past. All except one. A handsome warrior who stands tall and proud. A warrior who stirs up an entirely new set of dreams and emotions for Kristina.

Tahiska can’t take his eyes off the green-eyed beauty whose graceful hands are fluent in his native sign language. But he can’t afford to let anything distract him from avenging his father, who was murdered by two white soldiers.

Though anger fills his mind, Kristina steals into his heart, igniting a wildfire passion that must remain their desperate secret. For soon comes the day of reckoning, when justice will be served…or a travesty will shatter their love.

This is the 25th Year Anniversary Edition of this book

Warning: Sensuous romance for the romantic at heart

 

LAKOTA SURRENDER

by

Karen Kay

An Excerpt

 

Fort Leavenworth

July 4, 1833

 

The sun had scarcely been up an hour. The grass was still glistening with dew. The scents of early morning and of breakfast permeated the air.

Kristina brushed her forearm over her brow, her hand gripping the musical tuning fork. She was glad she had already consumed her morning meal. This tuning of the piano was requiring more time then she had anticipated. Soon the fort would come alive with soldiers and traders. She would like to have the piano tuned before it became too crowded.

She was seated at the instrument in the open air, on an erected, foot-high platform. As with most young women her age, Kristina had been taught music at a young age. But, while others played only at small, quiet gatherings, Kristina openly defied convention and played with the cavalry band.

The piano had been moved out of the church last night and set here at the head of the main courtyard, but she’d had little opportunity to tune it last evening. Besides, she had justified to herself, it was better to let the piano sit overnight. The adjusting might hold better.

She worked as quickly as she could. Because it was the Fourth of July, there would be a grand celebration today and the piano was needed to fill in with the band, not only for the raising of the flag, but also for the party afterwards.

She glanced toward the sun in irritation. Already she was warm and the day had just barely started.

She leaned over the instrument, played a middle C, then a C one octave higher, turning the wooden peg until she was pleased with the sound. She hit the tuning fork once again and struck the two notes. Satisfied, she advanced to C sharp.

The sound echoed through the fort, creating a hollow twang whose eerie song had never before been heard by the three pairs of Indian ears.

***

Tahiska and his two companions were awake and alert long before the sun became a red orb in the eastern sky. The journey to the soldier fort took usually a full moon, but the three young warriors, anxious for revenge, had traversed the distance in three weeks, changing mounts often, traveling into the night and sleeping little.

Tahiska’s heart was saddened still, and, though anger coursed through his veins, he couldn’t deny that there was an excitement about this day that eluded him. Perhaps he would meet his own death today. Perhaps. But he did not think so. A premonition stirred his soul; a feeling that an undertaking of importance was to happen today. He knew it. He could feel it. He had sensed it even as he had hunted and eaten a breakfast of berries and fresh meat. Yes, today was a good day.

The three young warriors had prepared themselves earlier in the morning and had washed in a creek close by, praying to Wakan Tanka, the God of all, for courage and bravery in the face of an enemy they had yet to meet.

Tahiska had formulated his plans well. He did not intend to wage his war against the entire fort. Though his emotions urged him to kill any white person available for atonement, his personal ethic would not allow him to commit such an immoral act. And, he schooled himself to think clearly. He would kill the two who had committed the crime and none else. Such was the courtesy he would show the white man. So it was for this reason that he and his friends would not wear the customary war paint into the fort. Only after he had singled out the two murderers would he prepare for battle.

No, first he would meet with their chief and ask for the murderers to be turned over to his own party. If this failed, and he had no way of anticipating the actions of the white people, he had other plans.

They dressed this day for council, not for war, and, leaving their horses hobbled in their camp, they made their way to the fort on foot. They stood outside the gates, awaiting entry.

They were, each one, dressed richly in elk and deerskins. Their shirts were made of delicate, soft leather, each one fringed and decorated with ornamental porcupine quills. Their leggings were fringed and fell to their moccasins, which in their own turn were adorned with beads and colorful quills. Slung horizontally across their backs were their bows, quivers, and shields. Their lances they held in their hands. While his two friends were dressed in tan, Tahiska was wearing white, and, when the white man acknowledged their presence, it was Tahiska to whom the soldiers addressed their inquiries.

But the white man’s tongue was strange, and only through a long dissertation of repeated signs was Tahiska able to tell the white soldiers that he and his party had come to speak with the fort’s chief. While Tahiska was stunned to learn that the soldiers were in ignorance of the language of hand signs, which was so common and well known on the plains, good manners kept his scorn carefully hidden.

They waited for permission to enter the fort. To an outsider their expressions would seem dour, but courtesy forbid them to show any emotion; their anger, even their contempt at being kept waiting in the ever-increasing heat of the day, was shrouded behind their eyes. They stood patiently, not making a move at all.

It was more than an hour later that the strange notes carried over the garrison walls. The sound was eerie, mysterious, and the Indians began to wonder if Wakan Tanka had heard their prayers this day.

***

As was the custom at the fur company, so too, at the fort, the Indians’ weapons were placed in an arsenal. Tahiska demanded, and was allowed, possession of his bow. Tahiska sought out the soldiers in the white man’s building and was at last able, through painfully crude sign language, to convey to the soldiers that he desired a council with the white man’s chief. Just as crudely and with great deliberation, the white soldiers told the Indians to return when the sun was at its zenith. Today was the Fourth of July, a holiday. The white chief could see them no sooner. The Indians nodded understanding and turned to leave.

As they strode back into the sun, Tahiska quickly scanned the fort. It took only a second, but his practiced gaze missed nothing—the two women to his right, one hundred yards away; the three soldiers, each carrying one firestick and a long knife; the two guards parading the planks of the garrison walls, each armed with one firestick and another long knife. He sized up the men as opponents, observed that there was no other exit but the gate they had just entered through, and wondered at the buildings along the road. The area around him was practically deserted, though there were sounds of movement elsewhere within the fort.

Tahiska was astounded at the late hour in which the fort commenced to do business. Had he been at home, he could already have hunted for himself and another family. But his thoughts were not revealed on his face, his expression guardedly blank.

There it was again. That sound. The eerie song they had heard over the fort’s walls that morning. It shrieked through the morning air, its sound more disturbing than the cry of a raven. Tahiska’s gaze searched the sky for the cause, but he could see nothing. He had no indication his medicine was bad this day, yet this melody made him uneasy.

“Spread out, investigate each tepee, each home,” Tahiska commanded, “Wahtapah, you on this side and you, Neeheeowee, on the other. I will see what sort of bird sings this song. I will see if it is good medicine or bad. When the sun is high, we meet here. Now go.”

***

Kristina sat at the piano bench, hunched over the instrument. She had one leg beneath her, one leg on the floor, and her skirts settled around her. The job of tuning the piano was almost done and she was feeling quite pleased with herself. Just two more octave notes and she was finished. She played one, then the other, turning the peg until she was satisfied. This done she moved farther down the piano and began to play a song.

An odd sensation swept over her skin, leaving goose bumps along her arms and a prickly feeling at the back of her neck. She played a few more notes, then cocked her head to the side, her peripheral vision catching a glimpse of a white-clad figure. Thinking her senses were playing tricks on her again, Kristina started to turn away when the clean scent of prairie grass caught at her breath. She stopped, her fingers in midair, as the earth beneath her seemed to reel. To counter the sensation she set both feet on the ground and spun around.

She had to look a long way up to meet the black eyes that were watching her intently. Her breath caught in her throat, and Kristina had to force herself to exhale. Perhaps, she decided, it would be best to stand.

Clutching the piano with her hands behind her, she stood, noting with a mixture of dread, plus an odd sort of excitement, that this Indian stranger stood a good head taller than she.

She stared into his face. He looked foreign, wild, and yet oddly familiar.

She tried to smile, but it was shaky. “Hello,” she tried.

He said nothing, his expression registering nothing, as well, and he looked her directly in the eye.

Kristina, unused to such open scrutiny, blushed, not understanding that he gazed at her so openly because he was uncertain if she were friend or foe. Where have I seen him before? Nervously, she wrung her hands, then gestured toward the piano. “I…I was just tuning it for the…ce…celebration today.”

His glance had left her eyes, was now roaming slowly, meticulously over the golden tan of her hair, the soft oval of her face, her nose, her lips, then downward toward her neck, stopping at the material of her gown as it clung to her shoulders.

His gaze jerked back to hers. Quickly he signed a greeting and Kristina visibly relaxed, for she knew this language well.

She moved her hands, motioning a response, but also asking, “Where are you from—what tribe?”

He didn’t answer, but instead trod to her side, next to the piano.

Kristina noted several things about him all at once: the fluid way he moved, as though it took no effort; the lone tooth dangling from a leather cord around his neck; the beaded earrings hanging from both earlobes, giving him not an air of effeminacy as one would have expected, but a sense of potent strength. His hair was quite long, reaching way past his shoulders, and Kristina was startled to note that it did not detract from his allure. He was probably the most handsome man she’d ever seen.

“What is this?” he signed, indicating the piano. He hadn’t looked at her, but when he turned back to her, catching her scrutiny of him, Kristina felt so embarrassed she couldn’t control the flush that warmed her face. Realizing her cheeks were awash with color, she averted her gaze.

“It’s a piano,” she stated, stumbling over what to sign in reply, finally settling for “song-maker.” “Pi-a-no,” she repeated, pointing to it.

She pressed down on a key; then another and another.

“See, when you finger it, it sings.” She attempted another uncertain smile. “Here, I’ll show you.”

She invited him with gestures to tap a key, but he was not cooperative, and his face revealed no expression whatsoever.

“Here.” She touched his hand. At the contact a sudden tremor shot up her arm, causing her to gasp.

She pulled back, her eyes darting up to his, but she couldn’t easily read his thoughts. His stare was unwavering, and she wondered if she were the only one who had felt it—the shock.

“I…”

He silenced her with a sign.

Neither one spoke. Neither one moved. And, for a moment, a short space of time, she felt her world stop.

The sun beat down its warmth upon them, and its tawny rays caught a fiery red highlight in his hair, reminding her of fire and passion. All at once, Kristina thought she might burst.

She turned away, but this time, he reached out toward her. It was a light graze, lasting only a moment, its intent clearly to keep her from leaving. A simple gesture. That’s all it was. Yet Kristina felt a jolt all through her body.

He motioned her to sit.

She complied, almost without thinking.

“Sing,” he motioned.

“Sing?” she asked aloud.

He gestured towards the keys, signing again, “Sing.”

“Oh, I see. You want me to play.” She fingered the keys lightly, not pressing down on them. “Like this?”

With one hand, he motioned, ”Yes.”

She played then, her attention not on the notes, but rather on the man who stood at her side. Without thought, her hands moved over the cool, ivory keys in the haunting melody of Pachelbel’s “Canon”; Kristina closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on what she was doing, not on the virile Indian watching her intently. It made no difference. Every other sense she had was alerted to him, from the clean scent of him to the muffled sound of his soft, white-bleached clothing as he moved.

Moved? Kristina played the last note and opened her eyes to find the Indian not at her side as she had thought, but in front of her, the height of the piano between them. She gazed up at him, over the piano, catching a look in his eye that might have been—admiration? She couldn’t be sure because it was so quickly gone that she wondered if she had only imagined it.

“Kristina,” Julia exclaimed, bursting onto the scene. “Come quickly. There’s news that…there’s…” Julia’s words gradually slowed. “That…there…are wild Indians… Kristina, I think you’ve discovered this for yourself.”

“Yes,” Kristina said. She glanced down as she rose from the piano. She had to get away. She wasn’t sure what had happened to her just now and she needed time alone to consider it. Without stopping to think, she quickly signed a good morning to the Indian, smiled unsteadily in his direction, and dashed toward Julia. The tingling sensation at the back of her neck told her the Indian’s gaze had never left her.

What had happened? Why did he look so familiar?

***

Well, that’s it for now.  Please do leave a message and let me know what you think about the cover and also about the excerpt.  But most of all, have a beautiful day.

https://www.amazon.com/Lakota-Surrender-Warrior-Book-ebook/dp/B07ZW9FSLG/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=lakota+surrender+by+karen+kay&qid=1572920639&sr=8-1%3C%2Fp%3E&tag=pettpist-20

Updated: November 4, 2019 — 9:25 pm

Where The Deer and the Buffalo Play

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  The prairie.  When we drive through the prairie in our modern day times, we see lots of farming, and, of course, very flat land.

The prairie is so much a part of the West, it’s hard to think of the Western without the prairie.  In Kansas and Missouri, the prairie had grasses sometimes so tall that a man on a horse would disappear into the grass.  Did you know that?  I think it was when I was first researching the West and the Prairie that I came across that info.

BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY was a 2018 release.  One of the reviewers of that book made a comment that the book was really about the Prairie and the feeling of being there on the prairie at that time when the story takes place.

Very intentionally I wrote about my fascination about the prairie, and it was wonderful to see that someone else appreciated it, too.

One of the sources of research that I like most is George Catlin, who in 1835, sailed up the Missouri on a steamboat in order to paint the Indians.  Here’s a quote from Catlin from around 1835 concerning the prairie seen on the Missouri,the Platte and the Arkansas Rivers.  He’s talking about a Prairie Fire here.

“But the burning plain has another aspect when the grass is seven or eight feet high and the flames are driven by the hurricanes that often sweep over the meadows of the Missouri, the Platte, and the Arkansas. This grass is so high that we were obliged to stand in our stirrups to look over its waving tops.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 199). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

In doing some research for the book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, I traveled over the Prairie of Kansas and along the Arkansas River, where my story was to take place.  Sometimes, one can visit some of the off-the-beaten-track places, where they have preserved the prairie as it once was.  Many travelers at that time called it the sea of green — constant and flowing and seemingly never ending.

I soaked up the feeling of the prairie, trying to imagine what it would have been like at that time for the hero and heroine.  Loved reading about the Santa Fe Trail and all the adventures that the pioneers had along the way. 

This book, THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR, is about that prairie, as well, and about those that traveled on The Santa Fe Trail.

Here’s another quote from Catlin’s book:

“The high grass, being filled with wild-pea vines and other impediments, render it necessary to take the zigzag trails of the deer and buffalo.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (pp. 199-200). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

In another book, my very first book, LAKOTA SURRENDER, I make mention of and have an entire scene wrapped around a prairie wild fire.  Again, the idea was sparked by a prairie wild fire that Catlin was in, and almost didn’t escape.

Here’s what he says:

“White man,” said he, “see that small cloud rising from the prairie. He rises. The hoofs of horses have waked him. The Fire Spirit is awake; this wind is from his nostrils, and his face is this way.” He said no more, but his swift horse darted under him, and he slid over the waving grass as it was bent before the wind. We were quickly on his trail. The extraordinary leaps of his wild horse occasionally raised his shoulders to view, then he sank again in the waving billows of grass. On the wind above our heads was an eagle. His neck was stretched for the towering bluff, and his thrilling screams told of the secret that was behind him. Our horses were swift and we struggled hard, but our hope was feeble, for the bluff was yet blue and nature nearly exhausted. The cool shadow advancing over the plain told that the sun was setting. Not daring to look back we strained every nerve. The roar of a distant cataract seemed gradually overtaking us. The wind increased, and the swift winged beetle and the heath hens drew their straight lines over our heads. The fleet bounding antelope passed us, and the still swifter, long legged hare, who leaves but a shadow as he flies. Here was no time for thought, but I recollect that the heavens were overcast, the distant thunder was heard, and the lightning reddening the scene, and the smell that came on the wind struck terror to my soul. The piercing yell of my savage guide at this moment came back on the wind, his robe was seen waving in the air, as his foaming horse leaped up the bluff.

Our breath and our sinews were just enough, in this last struggle for life, to carry us to the summit. We had risen from a sea of fire. Now looking back, still trembling from our peril, I saw beneath me a cloud of black smoke which extended from one extremity of this vast plain to the other, and seemed to roll over the surface of a bed of liquid fire. Above this mighty desolation the white smoke rose like magnificent cliffs to the skies. Then behind all this we saw the black and smoking desolation left by this storm of fire.”

Catlin, George. My Life Among the Indians (1909) (p. 202). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

What an amazing accounting.  Sometimes, I think when we pass through this country, it’s wonderful to remember how it once was.  And so, the tall grass prairie is something that I think is thrilling to add to a story.

What do you think?

I’ll be giving away one of these e-books to one of the bloggers here today.  She can have her pick as to which one.  Thanks so much for coming here today, and thanks for participating.  Be sure to leave a comment

 

Above here, are me and my brother-in-law in a short grass prairie in Montana.  And below here is my darling husband, also in a short grass prairie in Montana.

 

 

Updated: October 7, 2019 — 8:16 pm

Constance Kopp – Determined Heroine Turned Law Enforcement Officer

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Back in January I started a series of articles about several amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. If you missed the prior posts you can find them here:

 

Today I want to discuss Constance Kopp, who is the very definition of a feisty woman. Even within this series of trailblazing women, Constance’s story is a remarkable one.

Constance’s father wasn’t in the picture much and was an alcoholic) Early in her life Constance was determined to have a career outside the home and attempted to study both law and medicine. Her mother, however, wouldn’t allow her to complete her studies, leaving Constance frustrated and rebellious. It is rumored that the youngest sister, Fleurette (love that name!) was actually her daughter, the result of a youthful indiscretion.

Constance, however, was no shrinking violet. Standing a good 6ft tall and weighing in at 180lbs, she was a formidable presence, one who loomed over most men of that time. That, coupled with her forceful personality and her father’s frequent absences, was likely why she became the de facto head of household, the person the rest of the family turned to for guidance when things turned bleak – which they did soon enough.

The extraordinary trouble entered the Kopp women’s lives in July of 1914, when Constance was 35, with what should have been a simply resolved traffic accident. Henry Kaufman, the wealthy owner of a silk factory, crashed his car into the Kopp family carriage that Constance and her two sisters were riding in. The accident resulted in damage to the carriage, including breaking the shaft.

Constance made several attempts to get Mr. Kaufman to pay for the damages. When he refused, Constance, not one to back down when she was in the right, decided to file a lawsuit. The courts awarded her $50. Kaufman was outraged to be held accountable and at one point accosted Constance on the streets. Undeterred, Constance promptly had him arrested.

But that was only the beginning of the man’s unreasonable reaction. Prowlers began roaming around the Kopp home, where the three sisters lived with their widowed mother. Vandals broke in and damaged furnishings. The Kopps received threatening letters. One threatened to burn down their home, another demanded $1000 with the threat of dire consequences if they refused, and still another threatened to kidnap Fleurette, still a teen, and sell her into white slavery. And while all this was happening they also had to deal with random shots being fired into their home.

Constance turned to Sheriff Robert Heath for help. Luckily Heath was a progressive minded man. He not only took the situation very seriously – the only person on the police force who did so – but he immediately armed the three sisters with revolvers.

Constance agreed to go ‘undercover’, agreeing to meet the writer of the threatening letters on not one but two separate occasions. They ultimately found enough evidence to convict Kaufman and he was forced  to pay a $1000 fine ad was warned he would serve jail time if the harassment of the Kopps didn’t cease immediately.

Sheriff Heath was very impressed with Constance’s bravery and determination, so much so  that he offered her the position of Under Sheriff, making her the first woman ever to hold that position. And this was no sham title. One of Constance’s early cases was to track down an escaped prisoner, something she handled with unexpected ease. She held the job for two years, losing it only after Sheriff Heath was replaced by someone less progressively-minded.

Her story was virtually forgotten until an author, researching some information for a book she was writing, stumbled across an article in some old newspaper archives, that led her down an unexpected trail. Amy Stewart eventually wrote several books that were fictionalized accounts of the Kopp sisters’ experiences, starting with Girl Waits With Gun.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There you have it, another very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of a brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

 

 

I’m very excited to announce the upcoming release of my latest western romance, Sawyer. Sawyer is the 6th book in the Bachelors & Babies series – another Filly, Pam Crooks, had the lead off book, Trace. These books are all stand alone but have been proving to be popular with readers – fingers crossed that my book will continue that trend! Sawyer will officially release on Nov 1 and is now available for preorder.

 

Sawyer Flynn vows to see that the man who murdered his brother pays for his crimes, but becoming the sole caretaker of an orphaned infant sidetracks him from the mission. Sawyer can’t do it all—run his mercantile, care for the baby, and find justice for his brother. He needs help. But not from Emma Jean Gilley.

When her father flees town after killing a man, Emma Jean is left alone to care for her kid brother, but her father’s crime has made her a pariah and no one will give her a job. Learning of Sawyer’s need, Emma Jean makes her case to step in as nanny.

Sawyer is outraged by Emma Jean’s offer, but he’s also desperate and he reluctantly agrees to a temporary trial. Working together brings understanding, and maybe something more. But just when things heat up between Sawyer and Emma Jean, the specter of her father’s crimes threatens to drive them apart forever.

To learn more or pre-order, click HERE

Updated: October 6, 2019 — 1:08 pm

Beaverslides

Hey everyone! Today I’m talking about beaverslides, which are not fun devices located on playgrounds for flat-tailed furry mammals, I’m sorry to say. A beaverslide is a way to stack loose hay.

In the eastern part of the United States, it wasn’t necessary to store as much winter forage/hay as it was in the west. Due to the long, harsh winters, western ranchers often needed to store more hay than the average hayloft could hold. Thankfully, due to the low humidity, hay could be stacked outside, rather than under a barn roof, without rotting as it would do in the east.

When my mom was a kid, the field hands pitched loose hay from the fields into wagons, where people (kids) would stamp down the hay to make room for more. The trick, she said, was to not get a pitchfork in the leg. Having once had a pitchfork in my leg, I think about that often. The wagon of loose hay was then pitched into haylofts where it was protected from the weather, or it was stored in stacks. In the early 1900s, however, two ranchers in the Big Hole country of Montana, very close to where I now live, invented the Beaverhead County Slide Stacker, soon to be known simply as a beaverslide, which provided a quicker and more efficient way to stack loose hay. 

Now I saw these contraptions in hay fields as a kid, most of them falling apart from lack of use, and while I knew they had something to do with haying, I didn’t know how they worked. Here’s how:

I’m happy to say that while most farmers and ranchers bale hay, the beaverslide is still being used today. Here’ a beaverslide in use close to where I live:

How cool is that? Using a beaverslide today might be more labor intensive than using a baler, requiring a crew of 6 to 8 people, but it saves on fuel, which is huge. A beaverslide can stack hay up to 30 feet high. They are usually made of lodge pole pine and wooden boards, but some have metal components.

About 24 tons of hay can be stacked before the beaverslide is moved to make a new stack in a new area. An average size cow consumes 24 pounds of hay a day, so one stack will feed 2000 cows for one day, or 500 cows for 4 days. We have 50 cows on our place, so a 24 ton stack would last us for about 5 weeks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our adventure in loose hay today!

Best,

Jeannie

 

The Dynamite Kid

 

The past several weeks, I’ve been working on a new book in my Baker City Brides series which is set in the 1890s in Baker City, Oregon. 

The town got its start from gold mines in the area back in the 1860s. The gold played out, or so people thought, then enjoyed another boom around 1890. 

The story, titled Dumplings and Dynamite, takes place for the most part at a mining camp. 

Photo Credit: Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This is a photo of the E&E Mine out of Baker City. It appears much as I envision the mine where my story takes place. 

Photo Credit: Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

I’m fascinated with the mill buildings that sprung up against the hillsides at mines like this one – the Golden Gate Mine near what once was called Greenhorn City. 

It’s hard for me to envision what it was like working in a mine because I wouldn’t have lasted a day. Probably not even an hour. I don’t like dark, enclosed spaces. At all. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to get up day after day and spend hour after hour in the bowels of a mountain digging out some other man’s fortune. 

 

Photo Credit: Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

The image above shows mine workers from the Bonanza Mine (one of the most successful of its time) near Baker City.The men are wielding “single jacks,” four-pound hammers, and steel drills. For light, the miners had candles on a wire stuck in a crack in the wall.

In my story, the hero is working as a powder monkey (a new term I learned in my research), also known as the brave individuals who worked with the explosives at a mine. The powder monkeys, or powdermen, were in charge of rotating the explosives to ensure older explosives were used first, ordering explosives, transportation of explosives, and keeping up the area where the explosives were stored. And in my story, he also sets off the charges, although, in reality, this job was often left to the miners who were digging out the ore. 

It was while I was trying to dig up research on dynamite usage in the early 1890s that I happened across an interesting story. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s fun reading, anyway. The source is from Richard Dillon’s book Shanghaiing Days. New York: Coward, 1961. 

According to the story, a young man named George Banks had a job working on the portage railroad at Cascade Locks, Oregon. It was the mid-1890s and shanghaiing was a rampant sport at the docks in Portland. In fact, it was a known fact the port was one of the worst places in the world to be kidnapped around that time. 

One day, George (known as a confident, upright, rock-solid fellow) was in Portland picking up a load of freight and he missed his returning sailing on the riverboat. Stuck on the wharf with crates of merchandise for work, he didn’t want to have to wait for morning to leave. 

A few friendly fellows approached George and offered to help him out. They made a deal for George to pay them for transporting him and his crates, and the men soon returned with a boat. The men helped George load his crates and they cast off, heading the wrong direction. At first, George merely puzzled over what they were doing. Then one of the men explained to him he was a sailor now and they were taking him to their ship where he’d be stuck working for them as little more than a free laborer. 

George took exception to this plan. 

“You ain’t gonna shanghai me,” George informed his kidnappers, reaching into his pocket. “I’ll blow you to hell first.”

His hand came out full of blasting caps.

All those crates the men had loaded were full of dynamite and George had the nickname among his friends as the “Dynamite Kid.” 

Needless to say, the boat turned around and took George where he wanted to go. After he unloaded his cargo, he paid the men as he’d originally agreed to do, then went about his work. 

I think I would have liked to have met George. Talk about pluck and determination! 

Although I’m not quite ready to do a cover reveal of Dumplings and Dynamite, I will share a little excerpt with you today:

 

Seth gathered an armload of wood and carried it inside the cookshack where mouth-watering aromas filled the air.

Long tables and benches filled the room. Through a doorway, he could see a woman and the two younger boys he’d noticed earlier scurrying around the kitchen, scooping food into bowls and dishing it onto platters.

“Need some wood?” Seth asked as he walked through the doorway.

The woman glanced up at him in surprise, but quickly recovered. She waggled a gravy-coated spoon in the direction of the wood box then went back to scraping gravy into a large bowl.

“I’m Seth. Mr. Gilford just hired me,” he said after he dumped the wood he carried into the box by the stove. He stuffed his hands in his pockets to keep from snatching a golden flapjack off a platter one of the boys carried out to the table.

“I’m Mrs. Parrish, the cook,” she said, not meeting his gaze as she handed the gravy bowl to a boy then picked up two platters full of bacon.

“Allow me,” Seth said, taking the platters from her. The woman might have been twenty or fifty. From her stringy hair, rumpled dress, and bedraggled petticoat hanging an inch below her skirt hem, she looked rather unkempt, but she smelled clean and her eyes were bright.

In fact, they were an unusual shade somewhere between gray and green that made him think of the sagebrush that grew so prevalent to the south and east of Baker City. In spite of circles beneath her eyes and smudges of flour on her cheeks, her skin was smooth, without the wrinkles age brings, and dusted with a generous helping of freckles.

He glimpsed her hands. Although rough and red from hard work, they looked young, almost delicate.

Yet, the woman moved slightly humped over with the hint of a limp and when she smiled at him, he couldn’t miss the absence of her two front teeth. He stepped back and followed the boys out to the dining area, setting the platters on the table. Something about the woman bothered him and it had nothing to do with the lack of teeth. If he was a gambling man, he’d bet she was hiding something. He had a feeling Mrs. Parrish was not at all what she seemed.

 

Learn more about the Baker City Brides series on my website, or browse through my boards on Pinterest!

What about you? If you found yourself living at a mining camp in the late 1800s, what job would you have done? 

 

 

 

Tiny West Texas Town Births an Empire

I love discovering historical tidbits in my own backyard. About a month ago, I discovered just such a find on a trip home from Dallas. I live in Abilene, Texas, and whenever I travel to Dallas, I take I-20. Rarely do I stop along the way since the three-hour trip is not so long as to require a potty break. But on this particular trip home, I decided to stop at the new rest area that they’d built atop Ranger Hill in Eastland County, just east of the small town of Cisco, Texas.

Not only did this rest stop offer necessary refreshment and lovely sidewalks to stretch one’s legs, but they offered a mini museum filled with local historical tidbits. The one I found most fascinating was the tale of a name recognized all over the world – Conrad Hilton.

In 1917, oil was found in nearby Ranger, Texas, setting off an oil boom. The Ranger oilfield, along with other nearby wells, gained international fame by eliminating critical oil shortages during World War I. The town of Ranger and the nearby small town of Cisco were soon overrun with those seeking to make their fortune in oil.

Ranger, TX in the 1920’s at the height of the oil boom.

Before the war broke out, Conrad Hilton had been a successful banker in New Mexico. Raised by a savvy businessman father who ran a mercantile, Conrad grew up with keen mind for finance. He began running his father’s store at the age of 21 but hungered for bigger things. He was elected to the state legislature and served two terms. However, he believed banking to be his calling.

Hilton father’s mercantile in San Antonio, New Mexico.

When war broke out, Conrad Hilton sold his successful bank and joined the military to serve his country. When the war ended, he came home in 1919 ready to start again and searched for a bank to purchase. Unfortunately, no opportunities presented themselves.

Conrad Hilton was 31 when he arrived in Cisco.

He traveled from his home state of New Mexico into Texas along the railway and when he heard of the oil boom in Ranger, he traveled to the nearby town of Cisco determined to buy the first bank he saw. He found one willing to sell, but by the time he pulled the necessary investors together, the owner decided to raise the price. Frustrated, he declared the owner could keep his bank and stormed across the street to a two-story red brick building. The Mobley Hotel. 

Henry Mobley was making a solid profit serving the overflow of oil workers from Ranger. He had 40 beds in his hotel, and he rented them in 8-hour shifts to the crowds of tired workers standing in line in the lobby. Conrad Hilton instantly recognized the worth of such an investment and made Mobley an offer on the spot. Profits were so good in the first year, that Hilton opened the Melba Hotel in Fort Worth and the Waldorf in Dallas.

In 1921, the Ranger oil boom busted, leaving scores of failed businesses and banks in its wake. Hilton’s hotel business continued to thrive, however. By 1923, he owned 5 hotels. By 1930, he was the leading hotelier in the region. He managed to survive the Great Depression and went on to become the king of the hospitality empire.

The Mobley Hotel no longer rents rooms. It now houses the Chamber of Commerce, a community center, and several museums. They did, however, preserve a room in the style of of the 1920’s hotel that was the beginning of Hilton’s empire.

Have you discovered historical tidbits in your backyard that surprised you?

When you travel, what type of place do you like to stay?
Hotel – Bed & Breakfast – Campground – Other?