Category: Gold mining

Deadwood’s Mount Moriah

This may seem morbid to some but I’ve always loved cemeteries. I love walking through them, reading the tombstones, imagining the person’s story. Did they achieve their hopes and dreams? Did they know love? Were they loved in return? How did they die? So many questions go through my mind. One of the most interesting trips my husband and I went on before he passed was to Deadwood. So much history there. Deadwood is where Wild Bill Hickok met his end in the Nuttal and Mann’s Saloon, shot by Jack McCall. Hickok, as well as Calamity Jane and a whole lot of others, is buried in the Mount Moriah cemetery.

Records show that in Deadwood’s first three years as a town there were 97 murders and suicides.

Here are few of Mount Moriah’s residents:

POTATO CREEK JOHNNY was a Welch immigrant at seventeen years old and looking for gold and excitement. Johnny (real name John Perrett) stood just 4’ 3” tall and as he grew older, he let his hair and whiskers grow long. Folks said he resembled one of Snow White’s dwarfs. Then one memorable day in May 1929, in working his mine, he discovered one of the largest gold nuggets anyone in South Dakota had ever seen. It weighed 73/4 troy ounces and valued at $45,000 at today’s currency rate. The find thrust him into celebrity status and he became a regular in all the parades. Folks from all around visited the cabin he built by himself in the woods. In 1943 at 77 years old, he took sick and died. He’s buried next to Wild Bill and Calamity Jane.


PREACHER SMITH was the first missionary in Black Hills and he was undoubtedly one of the most famous good guys. His real name was Henry Weston Smith and he walked into Deadwood with a wagon train in May 1876. He began preaching on the jam-packed street to the cutthroats, gamblers, prostitutes, and anyone who would listen. Tough, grizzled miners wearing guns would sit on the wooden planks or stand and listen to him. They always passed the hat at the end. August 20, 1876, he preached his last sermon and headed to a nearby town. He never made it. They found him three miles from Deadwood, shot through the heart. The killer was never found. All of Deadwood’s businesses shut down for the burial on Mount Moriah.


CHAMBERS DAVIS came to Deadwood in 1877 from the Denver Mint. He was an expert at ore testing an opened an assayer office on Main Street. He had a credit of $100,000 with which he was able to buy ore for California companies from eager prospectors. He was young and had a beautiful young wife, Adrienne. They were a popular young couple and were mentioned frequently in the social columns of the newspaper. In June 1878, she died very suddenly at the age of 33 of unknown causes. Then a year later in April, Chambers also died very suddenly and was buried next to his wife.


KITTY LEROY was Deadwood’s most famous soiled dove. The magnetic beauty was also a bigamist, married to five men all at the same time. Kitty was always armed to the teeth with two pistols, a couple of Bowie knives, and a dagger she tucked into her long brown curls. She wore huge diamonds in her ears and knew how to show a man a good time. In fact, men fought and killed over her. She was a professional dancer in the saloons and was often found at the card tables where she cheated men out of their hard-earned gold. Sam Curley, her fifth husband, was a faro dealer and very jealous. On Dec. 7, 1877, he caught Kitty in bed with another man and shot her, then shot himself. She was only 28 years old. Their funerals were held in the Lone Star saloon and they buried in a double grave. A month after the tragedy, ghostly apparitions were seen and continued until the saloon was demolished.


These are just a few of the interesting stories that are buried in Mt. Moriah cemetery. I’ll end this with a poem someone wrote upon the death of Marie Gaston, Deadwood’s first librarian.

How vainly we struggled to save her,

Around her how deeply we mourned,

When back to her Maker who gave it

Her beautiful spirit returned.


I just love visiting old cemeteries. In a plot next to my parents in the small country cemetery where they’re buried is a family who all died in the 1800s. The wife’s name was Texanna and I used her name as my heroine in a story I wrote for Give Me a Texas Ranger. I’m always finding something of interest. Do cemeteries interest you? Maybe you have one you’d like to share.

  • * ~  * ~  * ~  * ~  * ~  * ~  * ~  *

Kit Morgan: The Gold Rush Town of Leadville

Hi there! Kit Morgan here! It’s so nice to be invited to write for the Petticoats and Pistols Blog. Thanks so much for having me.

Today I want to tell you about a fun project I’m involved in. I love creating entire communities, so when western historical romance author Caroline Lee asked me to help spearhead a multi-author project with her, I was in!

Multi-author projects are difficult at best, especially when creating an entire town, its inhabitants, and the type of town it’s to be. In this case, we had to create a boomtown on a downward slide. A place where the gold was petering out and the miners were leaving in droves. To make things a little easier and have a guide (because lets face it, none of us were around back then) we found a town located near our fictional setting that went through all the same things our town was going to be experiencing. Leadville, Colorado. So we started digging and discovered all sorts of things! (Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.)

The basic story line for our town, which we named Noelle, follows a group of businessmen with a problem on their hands. Now that the gold is petering out, they’re trying to figure out a way to stay, make the town a real town, and not have to lose everything they’ve built up. The answer? Get the railroad to create a spur to Noelle. To do that they need to either find more gold or get folks to settle fast so the railroad will take notice. They go for both. Twelve mail-order brides are on their way while, at the same time, what miners are left work double time to find more gold. The railroad does take notice, but gives the town a deadline to achieve this feat. If Noelle doesn’t meet the required deadline, no spur will be built. And that’s when the fun begins.

But much the same thing happened in Leadville back in the day, sans a mail-order bride scheme to save the town. The town may have run out of gold, but other things saved the day. I’m not telling you what otherwise the surprise will be spoiled should you read the books. Still, towns lived and died quickly in the old west, and Leadville was no exception. This is why it made such a wonderful model for our story line.

By 1880, just three years after Leadville was founded, it was one of the world’s largest and richest silver camps, with a population of over 15,000. Income from more than thirty mines and ten large smelting works producing gold, silver and lead amounted to $15,000,000 annually.

Noelle isn’t quite so prosperous. But we sure are having fun with it! Myself, I’ve written two books that take place in Noelle. The Partridge: The First Day, 12 Day’s of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, and just released, Ophelia A Valentine’s Day Bride.

Our town is still growing and trying to become respectable. Though we don’t expect it to reach to 15,000 people in its first few years, it is growing. Slow but sure, one happy romance at a time.




Have you ever been to a gold rush town? What attracted you? I’m giving away one digital copy of the books above — one to two different winners. Leave a comment to enter.

Janet Chester Bly – 7 Little Known Facts of Goldfield, Nevada

Goldfield, Nevada of Esmeralda County is most known these days for its haunted hotel and array of original buildings still in good repair. A 20th century boom town, it sprang into existence after a rich gold strike by William Marsh and Harry Stimler (part Shoshone) in December 1902 and mostly died by 1910. Stimler and Marsh were first on the ground after sighting an Indian named Tom Fisherman loaded down with yellow rock. They eventually pressured Fisherman into showing them the place where he found the treasure. A revival of mining soon exploded in Nevada.

Here are seven other random factoids about the fascinating early days of desert ghost town Goldfield, Nevada.

A Town Full of Visionaries

Fantastical mining and business schemes abounded, of course, but also new inventions. Improvements for the mines, such as making building blocks from sagebrush. Brake upgrades for carriages. Charles Chrisman created the “Desert Flyer,” a sixty horsepower auto with no gears. However, efforts to produce the auto failed. Then, there were the various airships concocted by men with names like Beller and Froberg who made daytime and secret night test flights to the entertainment and endless derision of Goldfield citizens.

Death Stats

Alcoholism was either the sole cause or leading factor in more than 5% of deaths, especially in the boom years. In fact, water cost more than whiskey, which provided a story kernel for my late hubby author Stephen Bly’s novel Fool’s Gold, Book 1, Skinners of Goldfield series. In the early days, a bath was the ultimate expensive luxury.

Next, homicide victims were 4%.

Suicides rated 3%.

Unforgiving Environment

Descriptions of the site by newcomers ranged from “hideous” to “too much sky and not enough water” to “the end of the world.” Parmeter Ken in the Goldfield Gossip, 1906 wrote Goldfield had the “worst climate in the world … For three months it scorches the life out of you; freezes and chills you for another three, and blows what’s left of you into dust for the remaining six.”

Hosts of Pests

The desert town was home to its share of rattlesnakes, tarantulas, vinegarones, and bloodsucking flies. However, some considered the lizards the most beautiful they’d ever seen. One young man found them also somewhat palatable. He survived for five days by chewing cacti and lizards until a rescue party found him.

Teachers and Firemen

Both these trades held a unique distinction. They often worked without pay for periods as long as five months at a time.

Womba Women

Only the most vigorous women pulled up stakes with their men to come to Goldfield. One man wrote of his wife: “She is a brave little body and is entirely willing to cast her fortunes with me in Tonopah or Goldfield, and brings the matter up every day.” The ghost town still has about 200-300 hardy living residents and is a popular tourist stop.

The Ladies Aid Society

This group proved to be the civilizers and equal opportunity social movers of this frontier town. They raised money for a building where religious meetings of many different beliefs could take place. The hall also provided concerts, a justice court, as well as boxing matches, and served as an all-purpose recreation center for dances.

(You can find out much more in resources such as Goldfield/The Last Gold rush on the Western Frontier by Sally Zanjani)


Have you ever visited the town of Goldfield or one like it? What was your most compelling impression? Would you ever want to live there? Would love to have you leave a comment below so we can chat and also you can be entered in a drawing to receive a free copy of Down Squash Blossom Road — either paperback (USA only) or .pdf for your digital reader.



Janet Chester Bly is the widow of Christy Award winning western author Stephen Bly. Together they published 120 fiction and nonfiction books for adults and kids. Janet and their three sons finished Stephen’s last novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, a Selah Award Finalist. Down Squash Blossom Road is Book 2 in the Reba Cahill contemporary western mystery series.

Download 5 free chapters now here:


Book 1 is Wind in the Wires. Find it here:

Down Squash Blossom Road

What Secret Lies Down Squash Blossom Road?

Cowgirl Reba Cahill’s schedule is full. Save the family ranch. Free her mom from a mental institute. Take a road trip that includes Goldfield, Nevada. Solve a murder and kidnapping. Evade a stalker. Can she also squeeze in romance?

Reba Cahill focused on the duties of the ranch, along with her widowed grandmother. But a crippled Champ Runcie returns to Road’s End in a wheelchair and seeks revenge for the accident that put him there. He blames Reba’s horse. Meanwhile, a letter from her estranged mom forces her and Grandma Pearl back on the road: I can leave now. Come get me. Love, Mom

When they arrive in Reno, her mother issues a demand and refuses to return to Idaho. They head west instead by way of Goldfield, Nevada. In California, Reba’s friend Ginny’s marriage is on the rocks. The family business is threatened. And squabbles turn deadly.

Reba digs deep to find the courage to forge a relationship with her mom and escape a crazed man’s obsession. She also hopes for a future with a horse trainer who offers her a new horse to replace the one she lost in the accident. But why does he have a photo of a pretty woman on his wall?


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Hauck said of Book 1, Wind in the Wires: “I love your voice! I love the setting…It’s a great story!”


To Connect with Janet Chester Bly:

Sign up for Almost Monthly Bly Books News and receive 5 free chapters Wind in the Wires, Book 1 …

Follow Blog Tour Page for other giveaways:

Follow Janet Chester Bly on AMAZON

Follow Bly Books on Amazon Author Page for new releases:

Like’ Bly Books on Facebook:

Bly Books Blog:







Updated: January 17, 2017 — 10:19 am

Wining and dining in the vineyards of Sonoma County by Charlene Sands

Charlene-with-Books Hi Everyone!

Today I’d love to share with you my recent travels to Northern California for a dear friend’s wedding, and as we drove past San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge, we were treated to some of the most glorious scenery I’ve ever witnessed.  Vineyards abounded all along the highway and the inroads of small towns and bigger cities, until we reached the historic town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, where we spent a few fun days. Thousands of years ago, Sonoma was home to the Pomo Indians, but now ranks as a top seller of fine wines.  Now, I ask you, is this not a beautiful sight? H grapes

Healdsburg was voted one of the Top Ten Smallest Towns in America due to the three most important award-winning wine producing regions of Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River in Sonoma County.  Healdsburg population is 11, 254.  After the Gold Strike in 1849, many who didn’t find riches in gold, found something almost equally beneficial in this verdant rich farmland.  Healdsburg

In 1857 there was a “squatters rights” war called the Westside Road War and Harmon Heald, an Ohio entrepreneur was one of the winners and Healdburg was founded.  Harmon Heald was quick to construct a post office and general store in what is now called Downtown Healdsburg. He laid out a town grid and sold lots for $15 each and plotted his town in the Spanish style plaza design.  The plaza still stands today and is host to free concerts, picnics and lively events.  The town flourished with the arrival of the Northwestern Pacific Railway. H plazaH horseH breweryHere are some pics of the plaza and a gorgeous horse sculpture near the entrance of City Hall.  And of course, where do we choose to eat lunch while in Healdsburg in the heart of wine country?  Well, at a brewery, of course!   I’m not sorry, the fish and fries were delicious!H cupcakesOh and the dessert was wonderful too.

As we toured around the amazing wineries of Sonoma and the miles and miles of vineyards, I found many that have been in business for over 100 years!

H vineyards

Here we are attending the wedding in Santa Rosa, just 12 miles from Healdsburg at the Paradise Ridge Winery.  I tell a harrowing story on Facebook about how we got completely lost in the maze of vineyards and if not for a lovely older couple guiding us out, we would never have made the wedding in time.  But in the end,  we did and much fun was had.  H winery wedding

I love learning the history of regions we travel.  I find it so intriguing how towns get started and get their names.  Do you love learning tidbits about places you visit?  Does your town have an unusual history?  Do you drink wine (if so, what’s your fav?)  or are you more a beer or soda kind of person?  I’d love to give away a backlist book and other goodies to one blogger today.  Winner announced over the weekend!  Be sure to check back!

Updated: September 5, 2016 — 6:42 pm

Welcome Guest: Jaime Jo Wright

jaime-wright-media-12 (2)Dwelling in the past is something I love to do. Especially, when it involves ghost towns, gold, rivers, and hardy heroes. When I wrote my latest novella, “Gold Haven Heiress” from The California Gold Rush Romance Collection, it was very intriguing to find that ghost towns existed in the 1850’s! After towns were tapped out of gold, miners would pack up and hit the road for the next big hit and the buildings were left behind as memories of a bustling time filled with hopes of prosperity.

I loved planting my heroine, Thalia, smack in the middle of a ghost town. Stuck in a place where she could be alone and dwell in the murky pain of her past. Then I wondered to myself, how often do we plant ourselves in our own little ghost towns. Memories of where we once lived, who we once were, or what we once had. I believe in memories, they’re precious pieces of life that help us in the quiet moments. But to live there? To dwell there? It probably isn’t healthy when what before us are new memories, new beginnings, new hope.

My grandmother lived in New Mexico the majority of my growing up years. I recall hanging on the fence as my uncle worked the horses, riding the back of a hay bale pretending it was a bronco, and catching tarantulas with my cousins. Gramma always said that a piece of her heart lived in New Mexico and always would. But, she left it and returned to Wisconsin after my Grampa passed away.

I believe Gramma had the perfect equation of memories vs. living in the past. Pictures of New Mexico littered her bookshelf. A blue glass cowboy boot sat on her coffee table. A ceramic steer clock with leather ribbons hanging from its horns hung on the wall. An Aztec-patterned blanket draped over the back of her chair. But next to them all were the signs of new beginning. Even after the loss of her soul mate. The pictures of her great-grandchildren, the gardening gloves tossed on the kitchen table from tendering her flowers, the pressure cooker on the stove for canning, and her Sunday dress hung on the door ready to put on come service time.

Gramma always kept on keeping on. She moved forward even when memories tugged her back toward that ghost town. Toward the memories that perhaps seemed richer and more enticing than the future. She had hope in things eternal. In a land not-so-far away that would one day be that glorious place she’d call Home. My Gramma was an heiress to riches far greater than the ghost-town-memories.

I have memories too. They’re little golden nuggets I pocket in my heart. But like my Gramma taught me, I wave farewell to the ghost towns and journey down that dusty ol’ road. Adventure lays around the bend, you know, and there’s always the truth that more memories will be made.

What are some of your precious memories? Have you ever been to a real ghost town and felt the hovering of people’s memories in the vacant doorways?

I’m giving away one copy of THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH COLLECTION. Winner chooses either print or e-book.


The California Gold Rush CollectionBarbour Publishing
Release Date: August 1st, 2016 |  ISBN:

Gold Disappoints But Love Rewards

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

Gold Haven Heiress
?– Jaime Jo Wright

Jack Taylor determines to use his new wealth to restart a ghost town to help others. But one person challenges his conviction to embrace all the disillusioned and lost. Thalia wasn’t supposed to be hiding in the tiny little garden behind the ghostly saloon. And he never intended to fall hard for a used-up prostitute.


Professional coffee drinker?Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy Tinkerbell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.  Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at
Web site:?

Periscope: @jaimejowright


BLOG Keli Gwyn Author Photo-LgKeli Gwyn here to whisk you back in time. Imagine this. It’s 1866. You own a hydraulic mining operation in California. It’s the middle of the summer. There’s been no rain since May. Rivers are running low. Streams and creeks are drying up. But you need water to operate your mine. What do you do? Read on to find out how two bright men of yesteryear, who lived where I do now, came up with a solution.

The easy-to-find placer (surface) gold had been mined in the early years of the Gold Rush, forcing miners to use different methods. In 1853, hydraulic mining came into play. Water cannons with streams of water shooting up to 500 could blast away entire hillsides. The gold-rich quartz veins were revealed, the ore crushed and the precious metal extracted.

BLOG Keli Hydraulic MiningMine owners were happy…provided they had water. In order to get that precious commodity, ditches (canals) were built to divert water from the sources to the mines. The ditches might be able to supply enough water for smaller operations, but the big hydraulic mines needed more than that. John Kirk, an engineer from Pennsylvania, had anticipated this need. A forward thinker, he bought the water rights to many Sierra lakes high above the Gold Country. He and his partner, surveyor Francis A. Bishop, envisioned a canal that would bring water from the mountains to the foothills below. Although their plan for the canal was well thought-out, they’d completed less than one mile when they ran out of funds in 1871.

Kirk and Bishop sold their water rights and property to the newly formed El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company for $60,000. Incorporated in 1873, the Company assumed control of the project, following the plans laid by Kirk and Bishop.

The building of the El Dorado Canal was one of the most ambitious undertakings in the state of California up to that time. When it was completed, just in time for the U.S. Centennial celebration in July 1876, the canal was about thirty miles long. Four miles of that was wooden flumes resting on elevated rock walls.

BLOG Keli El Dorado Canal WorkersThe monumental task required a massive workforce. Over one thousand Chinese laborers came up from San Francisco, assisted by about a hundred Euro-Americans, mostly Italian. The canal cost the Company between $650,000 and $700,000, or about $25,000 per mile.

When I learned about the construction of the El Dorado Canal, I was impressed. Every time I turn on the tap to fill my glass with water, I’m benefitting from the work done one hundred forty years ago by engineers who had nothing more than slide rules and workmen wielding hammers, saws, shovels and pickaxes. Although the canal has been renovated and upgraded numerous times, the path the water travels today is much the same as it was then.

El Dorado Canal - FlumeI was so impressed by the men who designed and built the El Dorado Canal that I decided to honor them in my August 2016 release, Make-Believe Beau. The hero and heroine of my latest book, Flynt and Jessie, work for the El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company. I took fictional license in staffing the engineering department. Flynt is the engineer. Jessie is his newly hired draftswoman, which creates a stir in the office. While the story focuses on their romance—both the feigned one and the real one—I worked in as much of the history of the El Dorado Canal as I could. I’m sneaky that way. 🙂


Question fBLOG KELI bookcoveror You:

Drinking water today has become far more sophisticated than it used to be. Here in the U.S., many people prefer bottled water to tap water. There are flavored waters, carbonated waters, energy waters and more. We can also add ice if we like. I’m a tap water gal myself, since we get clean, clear water from the Sierras delivered right to our home, and I add plenty of ice.

When it comes to drinking water, what is your favorite kind?


I’m so excited about Flynt and Jessie’s story that I’m offering not one, but two print copies as giveaway prizes. Leave a comment, and be sure to leave your contact info in case you win!

My Upcoming Releases

Julian ~ The Ghost Town that Escaped


The lifespan of a mining town in the old west was as volatile as the dynamite used to blow up the rock and release the ore. Seems that just as soon as most of the ore was hauled from the mines, the town would dry up and blow away, becoming ghost town. Two famous ones in California that boomed and are now nothing but ghost towns are Calico and Bodie.

ghost towns

Calico Mining Crew

Calico in Yerma, California was established when silver was discovered in the mountains there in 1881. $20 million in silver ore came from the 500 mines surrounding the town over the next 12 years. Then, when silver lost its value, everyone packed up and left. Today, Calico is a historic site, restored for people to visit and see what life was like ‘back in the day.’ Calico makes for a very interesting destination today, but no one lives there anymore.


Bodie, California

The same thing happened to Bodie, California. The place was a small mining camp in the Sierra Nevada mountains when gold was discovered in 1859. Although nearby towns boomed, Bodie inched along until 1876 when more gold was discovered by the Sandard Company. Suddenly miners poured into the town and its population shot up to 7,000. $34 million in gold ore came from the mines there over the next eleven years. And then, like Calico, Bodie slowly died. In 1915 it was officially labeled a ghost town.

So how did Julian in San Diego’s back country escape the fate of becoming a ghost town? 

In 1870 gold was discovered 60 miles east of New San Diego and the Julian Mining District was formed. Over the next 6 years more than 600 people made Julian their home and enjoyed all that living in a boom town entailed. then in 1876 with most of the gold excavated out of the mines, the bulk of people left searching for better goldfields elsewhere. The population dropped to 100. What made Julian’s fate so different than Calico’s or Bodies had to do with a number of things–good soil, climate, and more than anything it seems, Julian became a place for family.

Although the town had its share of saloons and dance-halls and rowdy miners, it was never the “Wild West Town” like other mining towns. The early settlers of Julian saw to the opening of their first school–and the first year 100 children attended. When teacher after teacher married and had to stop teaching due to the law at the time that forbade married women to teach, the school trustees decided to hire a man for the position. When the miners learned of it, they threatened trouble, and the trustees relented and hired another woman.

When the mines played out, instead of leaving, a core group of 100 people remained and turned to agriculture. James Madison was the first to recognize the perfect soil a

Julian CA

Julian California

nd weather for apple growing and he, along with Thomas Brady started an orchard of young apple trees. Others followed suit, adding pear trees. Today Julian apples have won many awards and the town is world famous for its apple pies.

There were two main ways to socialize in town. One was through church (Free land was given for the establishment of churches.) The second was at the frequent dances. Dances and fundraising socials would often last through the night and into the early morning hours. The dance hall in town even had a separate room for mothers to leave their babies to sleep away the night so the mothers could continue dancing. A number of good-natured tricks were played on neighbors and friends in Julian. Couples tried to keep their romantic feelings a secret so they wouldn’t end up the recipient of these pranks. The people of Julian were known for enjoying each other and having fun in a big way. (To me, it sounds like the town had a lot of personality!)

Today, Julian is a tourist town with a small-town feel. It caters to those who want to get away from the city. They come for the mountain air, fresh apple pies, mining tours and–for many San Diegans (including me) — the snow in winter. I have always had a soft spot for Julian. As an author, it is great to vicariously live in the town of 1876 through the characters in my books. I am grateful it survived its gold rush heritage and has given me such inspiraFamiliar Stranger in Clear Springstion for my stories.

Do you have a soft spot for any particular place?

Leave a comment to be entered into my drawing for a copy of my latest book!

Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs

(Please see Giveaway Guidelines listed on this page)


The Copper Queen

Women weren’t supposed to prospect for precious metals in the 1800s. They were considered too delicate to travel across wilderness and deserts, collecting ore samples and chasing veins while carrying everything they needed to survive in a backpack. Ferminia Sarras did it anyway.

A small, compact woman, she identified herself as Spanish—not Mexican—and appeared on the Esmeralda, Nevada tax records as Ferminia Sarras, Spanish lady, in 1881. Eventually she would become known as Ferminia Sarras, the Copper Queen.

There’s no clear record as to why Ferminia, who was born in Nicaragua in 1840, came to the United States with her three young daughters in 1876. One theory is that she came

Esmeralda, Nevada

to join up with her husband in the Nevada mining camps. She placed two of her daughters in a Virginia City orphanage, quite possibly for their safety, before embarking on her journey to the camps with her oldest daughter, who married a miner a few years later.

Ferminia started prospecting in 1883, wearing pants and tramping the hills alone. She prospected in several Nevada mining districts, including the Candelaria, Silver Peak and Santa Fe Districts and recorded numerous copper claims.


Candaleria, Nevada

After the Comstock Lode petered out, Nevada went into a depression, however the discovery of gold in the central part of the state revitalized the mining economy and Ferminia’s copper claims increased in value. Her first sale came in 1901, with several more to follow, and eventually she made a fortune on her copper claims, thus earning the name the Copper Queen. She kept the gold coins from the sales in her chicken coop, which she considered safer than a bank.

gold fields

Goldfields, Nevada


Ferminia married at least five times to men younger than herself. One husband died in a gunfight protecting her claims and according to a newspaper account, all of her husbands died violent deaths. Historians theorize that she may have married younger men to help protect her claims, however one of the last men she was involved with robbed her and used the money to flee to South America.

Ferminia died in 1915. The town of Mina, Nevada, which currently boasts a population of 155,  was named in her honor.

For further information on Ferminia Sarras and other women who dared to prospect in the American West, check out A Mine of Her Own by Sally Zanjani. Much of the information I have on Ferminia came from that resource.

My First-Ever Full-length, Inspirational, Historical Romance (whew)~Tanya Hanson

My favorite gift this Christmastime is a place in the corral of authors at Prairie Rose Publications. I want to publicly thank the editors for bringing Claiming His Heart to life!

Hanson_Claiming_His_Heart_Web (3)

What’s the story about? Well, caught between a noose and a cave in, Tulsa Sanderson must do anything possible to prove his brother’s innocence…even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he just met. He needs every nugget and flake he can pull from her worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife. Save his brother and he’ll be back on the Texas cattle trails. God, and trusting Him, are things of the past.

Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last mysterious outsider who came to the valley. Faith? That’s wavered after too many family tragedies. Marrying the handsome Tull is her only choice to keep hidden the terrible family secrets he bears. But the unwanted marriage douses her plans to leave the valley to get help for her wounded twin brother…, yet stirs up hope and love for Tull…and begins to fortify her weakened faith.

Can the two of them find a future–and faith–together even with their haunted pasts? 

Setting this story in Holcomb Valley, near Big Bear Lake, California was easy for me. I actually started the book a while back as a secular historical, but upon my foray into inspirational romance, I realized the themes of the story and the decisions the characters make–and made in the past–were a good segue into a faith-based tale. On a visit to the valley not long ago, I almost heard voices from the past. It was easy to imagine my characters in the real-life places of long ago.

Holcomb Valley was once the richest gold strike in Southern California, and its mother lode has never been found. This meadow is where the real Belleville stood, a slapdash village named for the first baby born in the valley.

meadow where Belleville stood

Of course “Belle” Van Dusen is mentioned as my heroine’s childhood chum. And this arrastra, a rock circle where hard quartz rock was crushed to find gold flakes by donkey power, plays a part in the story.


And although it’s a ruin now, “Pygmy Cabin” shelters the reluctant couple during a blizzard.

pygmy cabin

Please comment today for a Kindle copy of the book! Tell us about a historical place from the past that “spoke” to you!


 Short excerpt:

He lifted his Stetson. Hard fingers ran against his scalp, ending at his neck to ease the tangle of nerves. The lost childhood, his dead ma, still tore his heart in two. But he had a chance to redeem it all, to save his brother—if these twins didn’t get in the way.

Then Charmlee’s eyes turned as hard as her voice, and she lifted her chin to stare straight in his eyes. “All right. I’m forced to agree this letter isn’t a forgery. But that doesn’t make you who you claim.” She raised an eyebrow. “Any thieving cowpoke could have collected that general delivery post and sought me out.”

Her smirk irked him. “I am who I claim. Make no mistake.”

“Well then,” Charmlee’s gray eyes narrowed and her voice slowed like a freezing creek. “Just how far would Mr. Tull Sanderson go to inherit his ‘birthright?’”

“How far? I already come all the way from Texas.”

She raised her eyebrows, and sashayed closer. “I mean, Daddy’s left a proviso. A requirement.”

“I will do anything,” he vowed, blood racing. Each day wasted brought his brother closer to doom.

“You sure about that? Well, I won’t, Mr. Tull. Make no mistake.” She was close enough now to whisper but be heard.

“What do you have to do with anything? You aren’t his kin. You said so yourself.” Tull tightened his fists in impatience.

“It seems I am the key, Mr. Tull.” Suddenly her gaze turned elsewhere. He froze. Like she was hatching plans to run off before settling things. But then she turned to him with a voice full of trembles, flicking the letter at him. “That key to your birthright, as you said.  According to Daddy’s wishes, you don’t get a thing unless you marry me.”


Amazon Buy link:


Prairie Rose Publications Link:




Updated: December 4, 2013 — 1:51 pm

Rocky Mountain Brides ~ Patricia Thayer

This last summer I was lucky enough to travel to Silverton, Colorado.  My husband, Steve, and I took the 47 mile, three-hour trip on the old narrow gauge train just like people had done a hundred years ago.  We also took along two of our grandsons, Connor and Finley.  I love seeing things through the eyes of a child, especially since I have a lot of kids in my books.

Anyway, the trip up the mountain was fantastic.  We saw some beautiful scenery through the Rockies and finally arrived at the old silver and gold mining town.  Once you get off the train, you honestly believe you’re stepping back in time.  Silverton, Colorado, looks just like it did all those years ago.

It was hard not to fall in love with the old storefronts and the historical hotels.  We stayed overnight at the Old Teller House, built in 1896.  The next day we toured an old closed mine, THE HUNDRED YEAR OLD MINE.

I love the inspiration I get when I travel to a location.  Stories start forming in my head.  It’s always interesting to see how people live.  When I was sitting in a café, the young waitress, barely twenty, told me that her father had been a mountain guide and her mother a mine prospector when they met.

Whoa, that twist caught me off guard.  But isn’t that what we want from a story?  To be different and intriguing.

I had visited Silverton years ago which had given me the ideas for my first three stories in the Rocky Mountain Brides series.  I’ve just completed two more stories set in Silverton, which I call the town Destiny in my books.  The name seemed to fit perfectly.

This series is one of my favorites.  I love to write about make-believe towns where I can create my characters and stories that hopefully will linger in the readers’ minds, and leave them wanting more.

In my new December release, my 4th book from this series is titled Single Dad’s Holiday Wedding.

My heroine, Lorelei Hutchinson, suddenly becomes the richest person in town.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Well, it took Lori by surprise when her estranged father died and left her everything in his will.  Of course, all she ever wanted was to have Lyle Hutchinson’s love.

Instead she inherited a mansion to live in, a bank filled with money and a good-looking business partner, Jace Yeager, who’s trying to keep from going bankrupt.

Single dad, Jace, has learned to rely only on himself and his adorable little daughter, Cassie. His construction business now depends on him working with Lori—so he sets out to prove who’s the boss.

But with the holiday season drawing near, it’s not all just business.  Jace discovers a sweet, generous woman wanting a partner for life.

Lori only wants to help the town survive.  That means she needs to complete the business complex her father started.  Jace is fighting for survival, a new beginning for himself and his daughter.

Lori wants to find a place, a home where she belongs.  Instead she finds a community who welcomes her with open arms.

Patricia will be giving away a set of her entire Rocky Mountain series (4 books) to one lucky winner!   To be eligible, be sure to leave a comment.

Patricia Thayer has called Orange County, California home with Steve, her husband of over 40 years.  Not only does she enjoy the warm weather year round, she gets the support of other authors, and for over twenty years, her critique group.  It’s a sisterhood like no other.

Since 1991, Pat has written over 44 books for Silhouette and Harlequin.  She has been nominated for both the National Reader’s Choice Award and the prestigious RITA.  Her book, Nothing Short of a Miracle, won a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award.

You can also find her at her cabin in the local mountains, spending a quiet weekend, writing her next story.

To learn more about Patricia and her books, visit her website.


Petticoats & Pistols © 2015