Category: History – General

Old West Towns: Real or Myth?

Shops and businesses on the streets away from the center of town were laid out willy-nilly; some with entries facing alleyways. Boarding houses and private homes were seemingly dropped at random, as if tossed like dice from a gambler’s hand. –from my WIP, Stop the Wedding (book #1 Shotgun Brides)

I’m working on a new 3-book series that takes place in the fictional town of Haywire, Texas.   Before I could begin writing, it was necessary to map out my town.  Fans of western movies might think that’s a bit strange.  When a town is only one street wide and a block long, what’s to map out?  Well, for one thing, western movie sets are generally much smaller than a real town ever was, and less spread out.

Gold Hills, Nevada

The town in my book was built prior to the Civil War.  That’s important to know, because towns founded before the war generally sprang-up along wandering cow paths.   If you ever got lost in parts of Boston, as I once did, you’d know how confusing such towns can be.

Fortunately, after the war, town founders hired surveyors to plat grids oriented to railroad specifications. This practice came too late to help the poor residents of Haywire—or my hero who gets lost while chasing a bad guy through town.

Since business taxes in the Old West were calculated on width, shops and saloons were built long and narrow. What was generally called Outhouse Alley ran behind the buildings, parallel to the main thoroughfare.

Some buildings did double-duty. Schools often shared space with the Oddfellows or Masons, and shopkeepers lived over shops.

My town’s main street is T-shaped which runs into the railroad.  On the other end of Main, the town is split in two by a hundred-foot wide cross street.  A street like this was known in many western towns as the Dead Line, the purpose of which was to separate moral businesses from those beyond the pale.

Dead Line streets were wide enough so that anyone who accidentally ventured into the wrong side of town, occupied by saloons, bordellos and in Haywire’s case, the barbershop, could easily turn horse and wagon around.  Thus delicate constitutions were saved and reputations left intact.

Typically, the bank would be built next to the sheriff or marshal’s office, which explains why bank robberies in the Old West were rare. Only the most daring outlaw would attempt a bank robbery. It was much easier to rob stages—and a whole lot healthier.

Movies do get some things right. For example, buildings in many towns were mostly wood with false fronts.  These fake facades were added to make hastily-built buildings look more impressive and provide a place for signage.  Some towns, especially in the south-west where few trees could be found, were built mostly from adobe.

Speaking of movies, what western would be complete without having the hero barge through a saloon’s bat-wing doors? In reality, not every saloon had such doors. In some parts of the country, it was too cold or windy and too much dust would blow inside. Saloons that did have café doors also had standard doors that could be shut and locked when necessary.  A tour guide at Universal Studios explained that movie sets had saloon doors of different sizes: an extra-large one to make the heroine appear small and demure, and an extra-small door to make the hero appear taller and more imposing.

Another thing that frontier towns had that you won’t see in most western movies is a sign telling visitors to check their guns.  Now that’s one area where Hollywood and Haywire can agree.

Have you ever visited a western ghost town or movie lot?

 

Welcome to Two-Time, Texas

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

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Updated: April 27, 2017 — 4:50 am

CROP CIRCLES & LEGENDS OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN (Plus free give-away)

Howdy!

Strange title, eh?  Or maybe not.   THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR from the Lost Clan Series is based on a myth that is common throughout the American Indian myths — tribe to tribe.  The story of the Thunderer.

But there’s another legend that caught my interest early on — and it is the one I thought I’d discuss with you today.  At the time I came upon this myth, I knew nothing about crop circles — had never heard of them — but this legend, and my knowledge of crop circles has left some questions in my mind — and I thought I’d tell you about them.

SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, from the Legendary Warriors Series, is based in no small degree upon the myth of a hunter and the daughters of the Star People.  The book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE actually starts with the hero and heroine and the legend as it is told in Native American lore.  Interestingly, I found this myth not in just one tribe — but several — and the thing is, it was told almost (but not quite) identically, tribe to tribe.  The legend I’m about to tell you is from the Shawnee.stortell[1]

I believe that the name of the hero (it’s from a children’s book that I’m quoting) is Red Hawk, and the name of the book is RED HAWK AND THE SKY SISTERS by Gloria Dominic and Charles Reasoner.  Again, this legend is repeated in several different tribes — although the hero’s name is often different.

Red Hawk is a great hunter.  But he is puzzled because he sees the same thing in the prairie each time he goes to hunt.  It is a circle — a perfect circle — but there are no paths leading up to it — or going away from it.  There is evidence that something was there and made the circle — but how?  Red Hawk decides to spend the night, hiding himself from view.

51GoIbPuXOL._SL110_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-sm,TopRight,10,-13_OU01_[1]And so he does.  He discovers by hiding himself, that a basket gently falls to the earth and that there is singing from feminine voices.  As the basket comes to land softly on the earth, the sisters alight from the basket and dance around it in a circle.  Red Hawk watches this for many nights until one night he falls in love with one of the sisters — the youngest I believe.  And so, once again hiding himself, he waits until the sisters are about to get into the basket and go back into the sky — but suddenly he jumps out from his hiding place and captures the woman of his heart.

They marry and are happy, but she misses her home in the sky (she is a star).  They have a  child and she wishes to take the child and return to visit her home in the sky.  Our hero lets her go, but keeps the child with him, hoping that the child will be enough to cause her to return.  When she doesn’t return, our hero again captures her, and she falls in love with him all over and they live happily ever after.

th[1]I did find that the ending varies a bit from tribe to tribe, and I’m uncertain of how this book ends the story — I have this book, but of course, needing to find it for this post, the book eludes me.  : )

So what does this have to do with crop circles and aliens.  Well, I found it very interesting that crop circles seem similar and are also tied to aliens — here’s a link, if you’ve never heard of crop circles:  https://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/cutting/cropcirc.htm

Here is a picture of an actual crop circle — where the crops have been bent back without any footprints to or from the circle.   They are usually made at night — and made within one night.

Although attributed to more modern times, it’s interesting to me that our legend goes back centuries — to come to us today — to perhaps make the crop circle even more mysterious.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the post today.  And I hope I’ve created some interest in the American Indian legend.   Oh, and by the way, what do you think of the legend and the crop circles in general?

I’ll be giving away an e-book copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE today to some lucky blogger — please see the Giveaway Guidelines over to the right here for our rules that govern giveaways.  Oh, also I wanted you all to know that LAKOTA SURRENDER, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN, BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER are now on KindleUnlimited.  If you are a part of that, you can now read those books for free.  Nice, huh?…

 

Updated: April 24, 2017 — 10:56 am

THE MAKING OF A WESTERN SERIES and a giveaway by Charlene Sands

Most of the romantic series I’ve written are family sagas, with the stories centering around one set of family members or friends and usually, (but not always) the stories are set in the same town, territory, or city.  But the key factor is how to tie in the stories, while still making the plot easy to follow for readers who have not read the other books.  Authors often say the books are part of a series, but they can also be read as a STAND ALONE, meaning they have all the elements in the story to make for a satisfying read even if you haven’t read the other books.   It’s the task and joy for the writer to make sure the story holds up and is a cohesive enough to stand alone.

My series are usually a set of three stories, but sometimes as I’m writing, another character pops up that needs his or her to be told.  So there’s no hard and fast rule about how many books can be in a series.  If an author has a vision for six or ten or fifteen stories and the readers are invested enough and love the stories, the writing, and the setting, more the better.

 

 

What’s Fun About Writing a Series:

The Setting—once the town or ranch or territory is established, readers (and the authors) love to revisit familiar places from the earlier books.  In my Forever Texan series we often see the Bluebonnet Bakery and Wishing Wells and 2 Hope Ranch.

Taming the Texas Cowboy

The Characters—it’s fun to see the characters interact together from one story to another. Brothers, sisters, cousins, moms and dads and best friends all play a role, but the writers strive to make sure the romance between the hero and heroine is the main event in every story. The secondary characters often get their own stories later down the road.

The Theme – Often there’s an underlying theme that connects the stories.  It can something as simple as a holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas maybe, or a special event such as a rodeo coming to town.  It can also be a wedding or a pregnancy that connects the stories.  The themes know no bounds.  I was once  part of a multi-author series about a Bachelor Auction.  I’ve also written a series centered around a winery called Napa Valley Vows, a series centered around a hotel called Suite Secrets and around a ranching family called The Slades of Sunset Ranch.

The Love–  Not between hero and heroine, because that’s a given,  but for the author.  Once I’ve established my town and the people in it and yes, even the stories I plot and plan out, I sorta fall in love with the whole idea.  These people are my friends, this town is somewhere I’d love to live and it’s the journey and the challenge to make the series click and stick, as I say.   One thing I know for certain, once the love is gone, once the writer tires of the setting or runs out of story, it’s time to move on, to be inspired once again.

I’m really proud of my new Forever Texan story set in Hope Wells, Texas.  The stories center around two cousins and their best friend.  It’s been a labor of love for me, as I started this series long ago and have finally found the right time and place to publish this trio of amazing Texans.   I’ve been lucky enough to have input in the covers, the titles and series name.  It makes this all the more special for me.

You may already know the first book in the series Taming the Texas Cowboy starring Trey and Maddie Walker, but I’m happy to say the second book in the series (Jack and Jillian’s story) is available for pre-order.  And this is the OFFICIAL COVER REVEAL for Loving the Texas Lawman.   I know, it’s a hardship looking at this guy, isn’t it?

 

 

The last thing honorable Sheriff Jack Walker needs is a blast from the past, but that’s exactly what he gets when his high school love, now sexy lingerie designer, Jillian Lane arrives on his doorstep needing his help and protection. 

Jillian is desperate to save her company, Barely There and turning to Jack Walker, the town hero, is her only option. The trouble she left behind in California has followed her home, leaving Jack no choice but to protect her. Unwittingly, Jillian’s put everything Jack has ever wanted in life at risk. 

The years have not made it easier for Jack to say no to his first love, but saying yes may threaten all he holds dear. Jack may have a solution: marriage–the temporary kind. And how can a girl from the wrong side of the tracks refuse a marriage proposal from her one-time love? 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y3MW7HJ/?tag-tulepubli-20&tag=pettpist-20

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1126172852?ean=2940157567781

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/loving-the-texas-lawman/id1224208557?mt=11

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/loving-the-texas-lawman

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06Y3MW7HJ/?tag-tulepubli-21&tag=pettpist-20

 

 

For Fun:  Take a guess at the names of my hero and heroine from FOREVER TEXAN Book 3 titled, Redeeming the Texas Rancher coming this August.  Post either number ONE, TWO OR THREE and be entered into a random drawing to win a backlist book of your choice, either print or digital from my available titles.   Random drawing winner will be posted later tonight.  Be sure to stop by again!

 

  1. Conner and Willow
  2. Tristan and Susanna
  3. Colby and Dakota

 

 

Updated: April 11, 2017 — 12:08 pm

Speaking of History . . .

Last Thursday, I had the honor of being the featured speaker at the annual Author’s Luncheon in Post, TX. Post is small town off Hwy 84 on the route between by hometown of Abilene and the city of Lubbock. I’ve driven through it many times, but this was the first time I actually got off the highway and explored a bit of the town itself.

Post, TX has a fun history. It was founded in 1907 by cereal manufacturer Charles William “C.W.” Post. Anyone eaten a bowl of Grape-Nuts ( first produced in 1897) lately? I usually have a box in my pantry.

C. W.  Post purchased 200,000 acres of ranchland and established the Double U. Company to manage Post City’s construction. The company built trim houses and numerous structures. They planted trees along every street and prohibited alcoholic beverages and brothels. The Double U. Company rented and sold farms and houses to settlers. A post office began in a tent during the year of Post City’s founding. Two years later the town had a school, a bank, and a newspaper, the Post City Post. (Because what else would you call it? Ha!) The railroad reached the town in 1910. The town changed its name to Post when it incorporated in 1914, the year of C. W. Post’s death. (Source: Handbook Of Texas Online)

Well, one the buildings Mr. Post paid to construct was a hospital. This gorgeous brick building with tall, white columns is now the local history museum and the building next door to where I spoke at the author luncheon. The building where I spoke was originally constructed in 1911 as a boarding house for the nurses who worked at the hospital. It has been renovated and turned into a wonderful community center. The perfect place for me to give my talk on the subject of Plotting with History.

Boarding House on left, Hospital on right.

Here is the beautiful entry hall and part of the cute bathroom. I just had to take a picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I was blessed with a wonderful turnout. We talked history and reading, and I learn wonderful details about the marvelous town of Post that makes me want to come back for another visit when I can stay longer and explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • What hidden gems have you uncovered in your travels?
  • What are some fascinating historical tidbits or trivia people would be surprised to learn about your own hometown?

 

Robert Yellowtail, A Crow Indian and an American Hero

Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening (depending on when you’re joining us today)!   I will be giving away the book, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE, to some lucky blogger.  So come on in and leave a comment.  Also, remember that if I pick your name, you must contain me personally (email) to claim your prize.

Today I thought we’d journey into the past, but the more recent past.  Usually I blog about the early or mid 1800’s, but today I hope you’ll come along with me as I tell you the story of an incredible man, Robert Yellowtail, a Crow Indian hero.

The picture to the left is not of Robert, but of a handsome youth taken about this same time in history.  He is definitely Crow — easily identified by the style of his hair and accessories.  Robert may have looked similar in his youth.  Robert Yellowtail was born on August 4, 1889, but was boarded at a government school, away from any his parents and any influence from his tribe at an early age.  He was only four years old.  The 1890’s were an extremely difficult time for the American Indian in general.  Not only was it forbidden by “do-gooders” and government agents for the American Indian to practice their traditional way of life, but Indian land was being looked upon as desirable by powerful corporations who had influence over the government and Indian agents.  Land was needed.  Land was important.  And here were the Indians with “lots” of land, or so it was said.

It was also a tough life at government schools.  No youngster was allowed to speak his own language, or to practice any skill that might be similar to that of the old ways.  The idea was to “kill” the Indian and “give birth” to a “red-white-man.”  Yellowtail was both intelligent and stubborn and gave his teachers much trouble (so would I have done, I like to think).  So much was this the case that Robert was sent to the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California.  California was more tolerant in those days, and here he did very well and graduated in 1907.  He studied law at the Extension Law School in Los Angeles, where he would go on to earn a law degree via correspondence courses.  His main interest was to use the law to help his people.  He also learned to play the clarinet. ?

In 1910, senator Thomas Walsh introduced a bill to open up the Crow reservation to homesteaders. Crow Chief Plenty Coups (one of the most famous chiefs of the Crow) knew he needed someone with knowledge of the law, someone with knowledge of the white man’s ways, and someone stubborn and intelligent enough to fight for the Crow.  He called upon Yellowtail, and Yellowtail rose to the occasion.

It was a seven year struggle, a battle that was fought in courts and in Congress, with Walsh attacking the Crow and Yellowtail in particular ferociously.  However, finally, the Crow won this battle much because Yellowtail was an experienced orator and he went on to speak for hours at the Senate — much like a filibuster.  He simply refused to give up.  At last he won, and the reservation lands were kept under the control of the Crow.  Yellowtail was only twenty-eight years old.

In the following years, Yellowtail’s accomplishments grew even more incredible:

  • In 1919, Yellowtail was needed again in Washington D.C. to help write and fight for (if need be) the 1920 “Crow Act.”  Here he shined.  Using his experience in law for the good of his people, he went on to ensure that Crow Lands would never be able to be taken away from the Crow again.

It’s also important to note that because of Yellowtail’s work, the American Indians were at last “given”  the right to vote in 1924.

In 1934, Yellowtail went on to become the Superintendent of the Crow Indian Reservation.  This might not sound like the accomplishment that it was because he was the first Indian superintendent of his own tribe.  Working under the duty to improve his people’s lot in life, the culture of the Crow flourished under his leadership.

Yellowtail was also a prosperous rancher.  And sometime in the mid-30’s he managed to get the ranchers (whites in the area) to return 40,000 acres of land.  Under his leadership buffalo were brought back to the reservation, as well as some breeds of horses and cattle.

This photo to the left, by the way, is one of my most favorite photos of the Crow.  It has served me well as images of handsome Indian warriors.

The only controversy that shadowed Robert Yellowtail’s life was what happened at Bighorn River.  Commissioners and unelected officials wanted to damn up the Bighorn River.  Yellowtail was completely against it.  In fact fighting that damn consumed him.  The Bighorn Canyon (which the damn would cause to be flooded) was considered sacred. The tribal council sided with Yellowtail, but as we know, those with unscrupulous morals often take underhanded roles to accomplish what they want.

Unity of the Crow began to crumble under the onslaught of rumor campaigns.  Yellowtail, himself, was said to be willing to sell out the tribe.  It was all a lie, but even to this day, this haunts his image.  In the end, Yellowtail was forced to negotiate or lose everything.  He rose to the challenge and demanded the government pay the Crow tribe $1 million a year for 50 years.  And when those 50 years were finished, the Crow would get their land back.

More rumor campaigns ensued.  In the end, Yellowtail lost and the government got everything and paid an equivalent of only $600 per tribal member.  Yellowtail was downtrodden, and the funny thing about it is that the damn is named after him.

But there was another battle ahead, which came much later, in the 1970’s. This time it was over mineral rights (coal) and this time, despite rumor campaigns and attempts to blacken his name, he won.

Yellowtail lived to a ripe old age of 98, but he lives on in the legacy that he left.  Because of him, the reservation retained most of their land, they were able to govern themselves and they hadn’t sold away their mineral rights (and by the way, the offer was a pittance).  It was a different sort of war that he fought, he was a different sort of warrior, but he will never be forgotten so long as the Crow people live.

LoneArrowsPride72sm[1]

Off to the left here, is the cover of a book that I wrote about the Crow, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE.  I’ll be giving away a copy of that e-book today.  And off to the right here is a picture of the cover for SENECA SURRENDER, on sale now.

Now, here’s my question for you today:  In an age where criminality becomes more and more the “norm” for a society, do you think a hero, similar to Robert Yellowtail, with honest concern for his people, has a chance to exist?

All I can say is I certainly hope so.  Come on in, leave a comment

Updated: April 10, 2017 — 10:26 pm

Wild West Words: It’s a Gamble

Kathleen Rice Adams: classic tales of the Old West...that never forget the power of love

Gambling has been a popular way to fill empty time almost as long as people have existed. Many modern words related to gambling saw their genesis in the 1300s. “Pasteboards,” slang for playing cards, arose in the 1540s because the cards were made of layers of paper pasted together. Roulette, in the gambling sense, originated in about 1725. Terms like “game of chance” (1920), “snake eyes” (1930), and Lady Luck (1935), on the other hand, didn’t arrive until the early 20th Century.

Gamblers, c. 1900. Artist unknown.

Gamblers, c. 1900. Artist unknown.

The following words and phrases, most of them slang appropriations of previously mundane words and phrases, sneaked into the language during the 1800s.

Ante: opening bet; American English poker slang. Noun form arose 1838; verb, 1846. Both are based, appropriately, on the Latin ante, meaning before.

Baccarat: As a card game, arose 1848. Variant spelling of the French word for the same game, baccara, which is of unknown origin.

Bank: to put money on. American colloquial usage arose c. 1884, based on the 1833 meaning “to deposit in a bank.”

Bankroll: roll of bank notes. American slang from 1887 as a conflation of “bank” and “roll,” the latter of which gained the slang meaning “quantity of paper money” in 1846.

Beginner’s luck: explanation for wins by the inexperienced. American slang c. 1897.

Big deal: in poker, a game-changing turn of the cards. Arose mid-19th century. The sarcastic phrase meaning “So what?” is American English from 1965.

Bilk: a cheat or to cheat. Although the 1651 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as a cribbage term meaning to spoil an opponent’s score by playing unusable cards, in the western U.S. after the Civil War, calling someone a bilk was about the worst insult one man could bestow upon another. “[T]he most degrading epithet that one can apply to another is to pronounce him ‘a bilk.’ No Western man of pluck will fail to resent such concentrated vituperation.” (A.K. McClure, Three Thousand Miles Through the Rocky Mountains, 1869)

Blackleg: gambler or swindler. Popular in the American West 1835-1870.

Bottom dollar: the last of one’s money; from 1882.

Bluff: the noun meaning subterfuge in cards dates to 1839 in the U.S., perhaps from the Dutch bluffen (to brag or boast) or verbluffin (to baffle or mislead). Bluff as an alternative name for poker is American slang from 1844. The verb bluffing, meaning misleading in poker, arose c. 1845; later generalized to misleading in any context.

 

"Gambling Down Below," illustration from the Mark Twain story of the same name, 1883

“Gambling Down Below,” illustration from the Mark Twain story of the same name, 1883

Card sharp: shortened form of the American slang term card-sharper, which entered the lexicon in 1859.

Chip: counter used in a game of chance. Americanism; first recorded in print 1840. “When the chips are down” is from the 1940s as a reference to the pile of poker chips on the table after all bets are made.

Cleaned out: left penniless by losses; arose c. 1812.

Craps: game of chance employing dice. American English from the Louisiana French craps (“play a dangerous game”), based on an 18th-century Continental French corruption of the British “crabs,” which was slang for the lowest dice throw: two or three.

Crap out: a losing throw of two, three, or twelve in the dice game of craps. American slang, 1835-1845. Called “seven-out” when the player threw a seven instead of making his “point.”

Dead-man’s hand: a poker hand including two aces, two eights, and any other card. Yes, it really is based on the hand Wild Bill Hickock held at the moment of his 1876 assassination by Jack McCall.

Dough: money. From 1851.

Down on [one’s] luck: at a low point financially or personally. From 1832; possibly borrowed from gambling. “Be in luck” first appeared in print in 1900 but may be older; “push [one’s] luck” first appeared in 1911.

Draw a blank: come up with nothing. The image is from lotteries, c. 1825.

Face card: jack, queen, or king; c. 1826. Also called “court cards” because of the royal images.

Four-flusher: a cheater or sneak. Arose 1896 from the earlier verb four-flush (origin uncertain), meaning to bluff a flush while holding only four cards in the same suit.

Full house: poker term for three of a kind and a pair. 1887 American version of the 1850s British term “full hand.”

Gamble: a risky venture. Arose as slang in 1823. By 1879, the act of gambling. Apparently a remnant of the dialectical Middle English gamel (1590s), “to play games.” The B may have been added due to confusion with “gambol.”

Gouge: to cheat, swindle, or extort. Verb form attested 1880, probably from the 1560s gouge, meaning to cut with the tool of the same name.

Grand slam: in suit-based card games, to win a series of games; 1814. First use as a bridge term 1892.

 

"The Gaming Table," Thomas Rowlandson, 1801

“The Gaming Table,” Thomas Rowlandson, 1801

Have a card up [one’s] sleeve: originally, the poker term was literal. Poker players would hide a winning card under their sleeve cuff and exchange it for a losing card the sly. Arose c. 1898.

High-roller: extravagant spender. American slang by 1873, probably originally as a reference to throwing dice.

Jackpot/jack-pot: big prize. From 1881, a series of antes that results when no player has an opening hand consisting of two jacks or better. The slot machine sense arose 1932; slang for a big win in any situation from about 1944.

Joker: non-royal face card in a poker deck, 1868. Probably a reference to the generic British slang use of the word to mean any man, fellow, or chap. Black Joke, a card game in which all face cards were called jokers, is mentioned in Hoyle’s 1857 edition of Games.

Kitty: pool of money in a card game. Arose 1887 from 1833 “kit,” meaning a collection of necessary supplies, with a possible contribution from the 1825 British slang “kit,” meaning prison or jail.

Lucky break/lucky strike: in billiards, at least one ball landing in a pocket after the opening collision of cue ball with the rack. Attested from 1884. Earlier meaning “fortunate failure” arose 1872. Lucky Strike as the name for a brand of pre-rolled cigarettes, 1872.

Monte: a particular card game, so called because of the heap of cards left after the deal. The game arose 1824, with the name probably borrowed from monte, Spanish for mountain. The game was especially popular during the California gold rush. Three-card version arose in Mexico in 1877.

Pass the buck: American slang, originally literal, 1865. A bone-handled knife, or “buck,” was laid on the table in front of the dealer to keep track during poker games. As the game progressed, the deal passed from player to player around the table, and so did the knife. Figurative sense “shift responsibility” first recorded in print 1912.

Penny-ante: insignificant; American slang. Originally an 1855 poker term for small stakes.

Play the trump card: slang for an unexpected winning move; from 1886. Originally “play the Orange card,” which meant “appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment for political advantage.”

Poker: a particular card game that arose in America in 1834. Origin of the term is unknown, but perhaps from the German pochen, “to brag,” which itself arose from a slang corruption of the verb spelled the same way which meant “to knock or rap.” May also be related to French poque, a card game similar to poker, though that is undocumented.

Poker face: expressionless by intent. 1874 slang from a poker tactic disguising a bluff.

 

"Monte in the Mines," J.D.Borthwick, 1851

“Monte in the Mines,” J.D.Borthwick, 1851

Risky: dangerous. Arose 1825 from “risk,” which itself was a 1728 anglicized version of the 1660s French risqué. “Risk-taker” is from 1894.

Showdown/show-down: lay down a poker hand face-up. From 1873; American slang. Figurative “final confrontation” arose 1904.

Stack the deck: cheat by unfairly arranging the cards in a deck before the deal. First recorded 1825.

Straight: a poker hand containing any sequential run of cards from different suits; arose 1841 from 1640s use of the term to mean “level.” By 1864, “straight” became slang for the straight part of a horse-racing track.

Straightaway: the flat, straight home stretch of a horse-racing track; 1839.

Stud poker: a form of poker in which the first card is dealt face-down and the others face-up. From 1864; antecedents unknown. The related term “hole card,” meaning the card dealt face-down, is an Americanism from 1905.

Swindle: cheat out of money. American English colloquialism from 1826.

Take a chance/take chances: do something with an uncertain outcome. From the 1815 usage meaning “participate in a lottery.” The related “take a risk” is first documented 1826, but may be older.

Tinhorn: of no value, but flashy. By 1857, from the earlier use referring to low-class gamblers who used a tin can to shake dice.

 

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The Surprising History of Fort Pickens

The entrance to Fort Pickens.

I love visiting historic sites, particularly those that are so well preserved by the National Park Service. I’ve been to numerous ones throughout the West that are rich with that western culture and history we love here at Petticoats and Pistols, but you might be surprised that there exists such a place with western ties near where I live in the Florida panhandle.

Fort Pickens, which is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, has ties to American history going back to three decades prior to the Civil War. After the War of 1812, the U.S. government decided it needed fortifications to defend its major ports. Several were build to protect Pensacola Harbor. Among them were Fort Pickens, which sits on the end of Santa Rosa Island across the harbor’s entrance from Naval Air Station Pensacola, home of the famous Blue Angels demonstration flying team. On days when the Blue Angels are practicing, you can watch them from the fort.

The fort is filled with these types of arches.

Though we all learned that the first shots of the Civil War occurred at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, some say that they actually happened at Fort Pickens on Jan 8, 1861, when U.S. forces at nearby Fort Barrancas fought off a group of local civilians who intended to take the fort. Barrancas was abandoned in favor of the more defensible Fort Pickens. Two days after the attack on Fort Barrancas, Florida seceded from the Union. The fort was one of only four in the South that remained under Union control throughout the entire war.

The tie to the West came after the end of the Civil War, during what was known as the Indian Wars. Native American captives were transported east for incarceration. Apache war chief Geronimo; Naiche, the youngest son of Cochise; and several warriors were held at Fort Pickens, separated from their wives and children, who were held at Fort Marion in St. Augustine.

Band of Apache Indian prisoners at rest stop beside Southern Pacific Railway, near Nueces River, Tex. (Geronimo is third from the right, in front), September 10, 1886. Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain

Part of the reason the men were housed at Fort Pickens was because some in Pensacola felt Geronimo’s fame would enable the city to draw tourists, as horrible as that is to contemplate now. Tourists had to obtain permission from Colonel Langdon and then pay for a boat trip to the island so they could see the Apache prisoners. The Apaches were housed in two rooms that were built to house cannons and worked seven-hour days clearing weeds, planting grass and stacking cannonballs. In April of 1887, the prisoners’ families were brought to live with them at Fort Pickens. Fort Marion saw many deaths of Apache prisoners, but in contrast there was only one death at Fort Pickens. One of Geronimo’s wives, She-gha, is buried in Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola.

From the top of the fort, you can look out over the Gulf of Mexico.

A yellow fever scare led to the the move of the prisoners to Mount Vernon Barracks north of Mobile, Alabama, in 1888. Six years later, they were moved to a reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where Geronimo died in 1909, still a prisoner. In 1913, the prisoners were finally released. Some chose to remain at Fort Sill, but Naiche, the hereditary chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, and his family returned to New Mexico, to the Mescalero Reservation. Between 1850 and 1914, the Apache population had dropped a dramatic 95 percent.

The fort is full of displays such as this telling the long and rich history of the site. There is also a gift shop full of books if you want to learn more about the fort, historical figures and the time periods during which the fort operated.

Fort Pickens received some updates in the years that followed, partially to help guard against the threat of German U-boats, but by the end of World War II it had outlived its usefulness. It spent some time in the state parks system of Florida but has been part of the national seashore since the early 1970s. Today visitors can spend hours walking through the seemingly endless rooms of the fort, climbing to the upper level to look out over the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay, and imagining all the history that resides at the spot.

Updated: April 2, 2017 — 6:28 pm

Spring — Texas Wildflowers

By Phyliss Miranda

I am thrilled to kick off the Spring Special Week for Petticoats and Pistols.  Being a born and raised Texan, I couldn’t resist doing a blog on the Spring wildflowers of Texas.

We have an abundance of variations of wildflowers in the state.  Being 1,244 miles wide and 801 miles from north to south, we equal some 268,601 square miles with topography from the Gulf of Mexico to the caprock  of the Panhandle then east to the thickness of East Texas and back west to the Llano Estacado.  The “Lone Star” state has 254 counties spread over this quarter of a million square miles.  Needless to say, we have a record number of wildflowers.

Our state flower is the beautiful bluebonnet; one of more than 5,000 species of flowering plants native to Texas.  Their abundance is the results of an exceptional multitude of plant habitats and weather conditions.  One of the old sayin’ around our parts is: “If you don’t like the weather, just stick around it’ll change by tomorrow.”  I don’t know who coined the phrase, but it’s so very true.

My darling husband retired from the Texas Highway Department (now the Department of Highways and Public Transportation).  Along the roads of the Texas highway system lie more than 700,000 acres of right of way. TexDot cares for every acre and their commitment led to making the landscape more beautiful by transplanting wild flowers.  I’m not going to go into where the 5,000 wildflower species are planted, I’m just going to hit some of my favorite types of wildflowers and a tad about them. One little personal note that might save you a ticket. It’s against the law to pull a wildflower along our highways.

In my town on the corner of two of our busiest streets is a huge Yucca plant that always blooms in the spring.  Native Texans held the Yucca in high regard for its practical uses.  The stalks were roasted or dried for eating. Prehistoric humans reportedly twisted the fibers into twine and rope to make belts and bow strings.  Yucca roots were pounded to a pulp and mixed with water to make shampoo.  It’s still a popular base of many shampoos and body bars today.

The Indian Blanket of bright red-and-yellow-flowers in the height of spring, hold many legends. One came to light around 1928 and really stands out for me.  A young Native American girl was lost in the woods, and as the cold night fell, she asked “The Great Spirit” to cover her with the beautiful blanket she had seen her mother weaving for her warrior father.  When she woke the next morning, she found the fields covered in gaillardia, which her people called the Indian blanket from that day forth.  The original Indian Blanket flower were entirely yellow, per folklore.

Another flower native to Texas is Indian Paintbrush.  They are known as the co-star to the Bluebonnet and are seen together in many fields. There are approximately 200 different species of the flower, and nine are Texas natives.  While Indian Paintbrush is by far the flower’s most common name, it is occasionally called butterfly weed, prairie fire, painted lady, and grandmother’s hair.  The last nickname can be attributed to the Chippewa tribe, who used the flower to make a hair wash and treat women’s ailments including rheumatism.

I want to leave you with one of the least favorite wildflowers of Texas, but one that really sticks in my mind.  The Jimsonweed, also known as the Thorn Apple and Angel Trumpet, is a large, white, trumpet-shaped flower that can be found from one end of the state to the other.  It holds a refreshing surprise.  My first encounter with the Jimsonweed was in San Antonio where my oldest daughter and family once lived.  They built their house in an area where they had land behind the house and in the spring a number of vegetables and flowers would come up, corn for one.  Along the sidewalk there was natural Jimsonweed; therefore, the walk was built to follow the plant  up to the house.  During the day there was nothing but a vine, no flower, really nothing by big green leaves.  This went on for months until I went outside in the middle of the night and there were beautiful trumpet  flowers on the branches.  This wildflower stays dormant until sundown and blooms at night! One of the amazing things is that the plant is poisonous by nature and has a bad odor and taste; therefore, livestock and wild animals stay away from it.  It has to be one of the most interesting wildflowers of Texas.

What is your favorite wildflower?  I know I focused on Texas, but every state has their favorite. If you don’t have a favorite then please share with us your state’s flower.

For three lucky winners, I am giving away an eBook of my latest Kasota Springs Romance “The Troubled Texan”.

I just received word that “The Troubled Texan” eBooks is still on sale at all major retailers and they’ve extended both the special pricing of 99 cents to April 12th, as well as additional outlets.

 

 

 

Updated: March 26, 2017 — 6:42 pm

My Fascination with George and Libbie Custer ~ by Diane Kalas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the house on the cover of Honor Bright

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The book is available on Amazon.

 

About the author

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

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

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

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

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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?

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