Category: History – General

The Scout and The American Indian

Howdy!

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

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

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

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

No, he did not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: February 20, 2017 — 9:48 pm

With Love, from the Battlefield: Songs of the Civil War

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

Americans didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day as we know it until the mid-1800s. By 1856, the practice of sending somewhat sappy cards had become so widespread that newspapers began to call the blossoming tradition a “social disease.” Conservative elements in society tried to stamp out the celebration because they considered such unvarnished expression of fondness evidence of “moral deterioration.” The February 1856 edition of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine included a cartoon depicting card-giving as crass and self-indulgent.

window valentine, ca. 1864

A “window” valentine, ca. 1864. Such cards were called window valentines because front flaps opened to reveal a hidden message or image.

A scant five years later, as the Civil War began, Valentine’s Day took on new significance. Cards often depicted sweethearts parting. Many incorporated flaps that opened to reveal soldiers standing in tents or couples at the altar. Some included a lock of the giver’s hair.

In addition to cards, songs of love and loss became popular with Civil War soldiers on the battlefields. At night, encamped on opposite sides of imaginary lines only hundreds of yards apart, men wearing blue and men wearing gray sang as one. Some of the songs were meant to keep sweet memories alive; many mourned happiness never to be.

The following are a few of the most popular love songs of the Civil War.

The Yellow Rose of Texas

A popular marching tune all over the Confederacy, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” dates to the state’s early colonial period. The first known transcribed version — handwritten on a piece of plain paper — appeared around the time of the Texian victory at San Jacinto in April 1836. In its original form, the song tells the story of a black man who has been separated from his sweetheart and longs to reunite with her. This YouTube video contains the modified version Texas troops actually sang during the Civil War, complete with references to “Bobby Lee” and Hood’s Texas Brigade…with one exception. By the time of the war, the phrase “sweetest rose of color” had been replaced with “little flower” in order not to imply white soldiers were pining for a mulatto woman.

 

“Aura Lea” (also spelled “Aura Lee”)

Most people today recognize the melody to “Aura Lea” as “Love Me Tender,” which became an instant hit when Elvis Presley sang the song during his first appearance on the big screen in the 1956 movie of the same name. The original, composed in 1861 by W. W. Fosdick (words) and George R. Poulton (music), is one of the happier songs of the era. Nevertheless, this song and “Lorena” (below) were banned in some camps because they tended to provoke desertion, especially among Confederates from 1863 forward.

 

Lorena

The Rev. Henry D. L. Webster wrote the words to one of the most popular love songs of the Civil War in 1856 after his intended broke off their engagement. His friend Joseph Philbrick Webster composed the music. Western Writers of America listed “Lorena” as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time; an instrumental version appears in the iconic film Gone with the Wind.

 

Somebody’s Darling

Credit for the lyrics has been given to Marie Ravenal de la Costa and the melody to John Hill Hewett, though the story behind the song may be apocryphal. The version most generally accepted is that, in 1862, Miss de la Costa penned the words in the Atlanta church where she had gone to pray after receiving word of her fiancé’s death on the battlefield. She left the handwritten lyrics behind. One of the saddest songs of the period, “Somebody’s Darling” was as popular in the North as it was in its native South.

 

When I Saw Sweet Nellie Home

Also known as “Seeing Nellie Home” and “Aunt Dinah’s Quilting Party,” the original was composed by John Fletcher (music) and Frances Kyle (words) in 1859. In 1861, Otto W. Ludwig changed the words to create the strident Union ballad “Courage, Mother, I Am Going,” about a young man who believes he won’t return from a war he is morally obligated to fight. Needless to say, Confederates sang the original. The Union version faded into obscurity after the war.

 

Oh! Susanna

Published by Stephen Foster in 1848, “Oh! Susanna” was popular with both bluebellies and graybacks, who viewed the words through entirely different cultural lenses. This version contains the original second verse, which is controversial (and potentially offensive) because of the language.

 

My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night

Published by Stephen Foster in 1853, “My Old Kentucky Home” speaks of love for home and family. The song became enormously popular with both armies during the Civil War—which was odd in the case of the Confederacy, because Foster’s notes on the original handwritten sheet music clearly indicate he intended the song to be an abolitionist anthem inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (Foster was a staunch abolitionist.)

 

Just Before the Battle, Mother

One of the saddest Civil War favorites speaks of love not for a sweetheart, but for a young’s man’s mother. With words and music (1862) by George F. Root, “Just Before the Battle, Mother” was strictly a Union song. (The lead-in on this version, performed by the 97th Regimental String Band, is long. The words start just before the one-minute mark.)

 

The Picture on the Wall

A sad song more popular among the folks at home than soldiers on the battlefield (for obvious reasons), Henry Clay Work’s “The Picture on the Wall” (1864) is almost unknown today. During the Civil War, it expressed tremendous grief about the loss of both sweethearts and sons.

 

Annie Laurie (also spelled “Annie Lawry”)

Brought to America from Scotland around 1832, authorship of the song is unknown. By the time of the Civil War, the words had changed from the original Scottish. Because the song was so well known, it was one of the most often sung across the lines, despite — or perhaps because of — the haunting chorus: “For bonnie Annie Laurie, I’d lay me down and die.”

 

Sweet Evalina

Composed in 1863 by Mrs. Parkhurst, the tune to “Sweet Evelina” is spritely even though the words come from the point of view of a young man fated never to marry the beautiful girl he loves. The song was incredibly popular among soldiers on both sides during the war but had all but disappeared by 1900.

 

Listen to the Mockingbird

Septimus Winner, using the name Alice Hawthorne, wrote the words to “Listen to the Mockingbird” in 1855 and set them to music composed by a guitarist friend. Despite the upbeat melody, the song tells the story of a man’s love for a young woman who has died. The tune was popular with both Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs. As an aside: In 1862, Winner was arrested and charged with treason after he published “Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People’s Pride.” The song protested Lincoln’s firing of Gen. George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Federal authorities released Winner only after he promised to destroy all remaining copies of the sheet music…but calling back the 80,000 copies that sold in the first two days after the song’s publication proved impossible. (McClellan was an exceptionally popular man.)

 

An excellent album called Songs of the Civil War contains renditions of some of these songs by artists including The United States Military Academy Band, Waylon Jennings, Richie Havens, Hoyt Axton, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Kathy Mattea, and Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (of “Ashokan Farewell” fame). It’s available from Amazon on CD and audiocassette, as well as in MP3 format and via Amazon’s PrimeMusic.

 

Powerful emotion breeds enduring art of all kinds. As heart-stirring as some of the music, poetry, paintings, fiction, and other art forms of the mid-1800s, let’s hope we don’t see another such prolific period for a similar reason ever again.

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And speaking of Valentine’s Day…

Prairie Rose Publications Valentine's Day ExtravaganzaPrairie Rose Publications is offering a token of its love to readers all week: Fourteen free novels, anthologies, and boxed sets. Who doesn’t love free? Let me tell you something: There are a passel of hunky heroes in that herd I’d love to snuggle up to on Valentine’s Day or any other day. Fourteen more novels, boxed sets, and anthologies have been discounted to 99 cents.

Y’all can find a list of the books here. Go take look if you’re of a mind to spend some time lost in love with sigh-worthy heroes and feisty heroines.

 

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Game Day! ~ Tanya Hanson

Football enters our homestead every August with our family’s Fantasy League. My team Wild Thang usually ends the season in last place. Mostly I like the smack-talk. We culminate things with a big Chili Cook-off on Super Bowl Sunday, and following this post, you’ll find the recipe I am entering this year. In the meantime, here’s some fun football facts.

Early leather helmets were replaced by plastic ones in the 1950’s

This early helmet with its nose guard is kinda Hannibal Lechter-y.

Anyway, back to the game. Beginning in 1827, Harvard started holding the “Bloody Monday” mob game between freshmen and sophomores–a mash-up of soccer and rugby that kind of presaged modern football’s violent nature. While there were certainly competitions using balls among our country’s first nations, today’s American football got its start from Europe’s historic soccer and rugby games.

Early balls were round, reminiscent of rugby, leather and laces over inflated pig bladders. In 1875, the egg-shaped ball was introduced.

In November 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played the first recognizable football game, although the ball was round. By the 1880’s, Yale’s great rugby star Walter Camp morphed the game into what we know today as football. He developed the line of scrimmage and “downs” and helped legitimize interference—otherwise known as blocking and highly illegal in rugby. Teams had been limited to 20 players in 1873.

Walter Camp (1859-1925), the Father of American Football

Later college coaches such as Knute Rockne and Glen “Pop” Warner helped introduce the forward pass. Football’s popularity grew and grew, with fierce rivalries between colleges, and popular “bowl’” games developed. The “Big Game” between Stanford and University of California at Berkeley in 1892 has long been considered the West’s first big face-off.

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Upon the development of professional teams, paying players for their time and talents was considered unsportsmanlike. William “Pudge” Heffelfinger (1867-1954) became the first professional player in America in November 1892 by accepting $500 from a Pittsburgh ball club. In 1897, the Latrobe Athletic Association became the first pro team to complete an entire  competitive season.

Pudge Heffelfinger (1867-1954)

The 1932 National Football League playoff game was the first to introduce hashmarks and was played indoors due to Chicago’s grim weather that winter. In 1946–the same year Jackie Robinson made baseball history–two of his teammates from UCLA, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, became the first African American players in the NFL.

Woody Strode, Jackie Robinson, and Kenny Washington pictured together on the 1939 UCLA team. All three made sports history.

Early padding looks like gramma’s quilt.

The first Super Bowl took place in January 1967 and my hubs—just a kid—was in attendance! Now we’re getting ready for our big game day shindig. Not long ago he and I went to the football exhibition presented by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library~it was full of great info and lots of photo ops.

How about you? Any football lovers out there? Anybody ever enter a chili-cook-off?

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Here’s my easy-peasy chili recipe. I promise you it’s good.

Rancho Taco Crocko

2 pounds ground beef or turkey (I use turkey), cooked.

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 ½ cups water

1 can (15 oz) chili beans

1 can (15 oz) corn, or a bag of frozen corn

1 can (15 oz) jalapeno pinto beans. Best to drain these. You can use regular pintos but we like spice around here.

1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes

1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes—recommend a southwest version that includes green chilies or similar additives. Do not drain.

1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies

I envelope ranch dressing mix. This is the secret ingredient.

(I will be adding pickled jalapenos, too.

Dump into crockpot (mine is shaped like a football LOL), and mix well, cook on high for a while stirring occasionally, then set to warm. Serves about 8, makes about 2 quarts. Calories unknown.

 

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When it rains it pours….I have two books coming out later this month. Details next time.

Updated: January 30, 2017 — 6:42 pm

TEXAS REDEMPTION and a Giveaway!

I’m so excited! TEXAS REDEMPTION will be out on Feb 7th- a week from today! This is a reissue of REDEMPTION that released in 2005. The book never got its due back then so I’m very happy to have it back in readers’ hands.

The climate of the story is during a bad time of our history. It takes place in 1869 –4 years after the Civil War. Texas was living under military occupation and the army was still searching for Confederates, especially the spies. Brodie Yates (legendary spy called Shenandoah during the war) is tired to running and wants to see his brother one more time before he dies. He’s going to make a final stand in his hometown of Redemption, Texas. The town is situated in the swamps of far East Texas.

During the war, he meets a beautiful woman known only to him as Lavender Lil in a brothel and loses his heart. Separated by war and miles, he never keeps his vow to get back for her. His skill with a Colt that hangs from his hip is the only thing keeping him alive. But can it when the army has built a stockade a few miles away?

Laurel James (Lavender Lil) is also in hiding after escaping the brothel where she was taken after being kidnapped from the area of Redemption and her family lives nearby but she can’t reunite with them until she cleanses her soul and regains respectability. She engaged to the town mayor, Murphy Yates.

So Brodie and Laurel are deeply shocked when they come face to face and they realize they’re still in love.  But they can’t hurt Murphy.

It’s a no win situation. Someone is going to lose.

One man offers her the respectability she craves. The other his heart. Which will she choose?

Here are a few pictures that I took when I visited Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake in East Texas where this is set. Dark, mysterious, and haunting, the swamp was the perfect place. My camera back in the late 1990s wasn’t very good, so excuse the quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Their secret pasts hold the power to destroy them and everyone else around. The stage is set. What will be the outcome?

Question for readers—Are you a fan of unrequited love stories between two people who meet, are torn apart by fate then brought together again—only insurmountable odds keep them from taking what they most want?

I’m giving away two copies of the book. Leave a comment. I’ll draw the winners on Sunday!

Updated: January 31, 2017 — 1:46 pm

Special Guest – Sondra Kraak

Some places sow themselves into your memory. They must be cherished. Revisited, even if only in the imagination. And if those places have been sown into the fertile loam of a writer’s imagination, they must be written about. Plain, Washington, is such a place for me.

Originally known as Beaver Valley to the pioneers who settled it, Plain packs a fierce visual punch with its medley of grassy meadows and pine forests. Rocky peaks play sentinel over the winding Wenatchee River, formerly a favorite site of native tribes for salmon fishing. Anything but plain, as its name might suggest, this pastoral valley has the power to send you back to frontier time with the soundtrack from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers rolling through your head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like the perfect setting for a historical romance, right? Which is why I based my first two novels on beautiful, Plain, Washington, renamed Pine Creek in my stories. And though I’d promised myself I wouldn’t write about a school teacher—it’s been done and overdone—my debut, One Plus One Equals Trouble, turned out to feature not one teacher, but two. Hence, the math equation and the trouble that ensues when two teachers are accidentally hired for the same position.

The red one room schoolhouse I pictured as I wrote about Barrett and Claire battling for the teaching position, was this historic gem below.

 

The old Winton schoolhouse used to sit several miles from Plain before being moved into Plain to be preserved. As a child, I visited it numerous times during camping trips to nearby Lake Wenatchee. The bright red building sat by the tracks, a delight for my dad, an avid railroad photographer. While he waited to photograph a freight train, my sister and I would wonder what it would be like to attend a one room schoolhouse. We thought of Christy and Anne of Green Gables. Ideas spun my thoughts as robustly as the steel wheels clickety-clacking over our pennies on the tracks. I suppose it was inevitable that when I began to write, a red schoolhouse with a pair of teachers pushed its way into my novel.

What is it about schoolhouses, horse-drawn wagons, and rugged valleys with refreshing streams that so intoxicates our senses and paints a whimsical idealism over our impression of frontier times? Because really, it was hard living without plumbing, electricity, or Nutella. I think it’s the simplicity that lures us into a love of the past. When I think of Plain—Pine Creek—I feel that quirky, old-fashioned charm that acts like a balm against today’s busyness and our media-crazed society. And I hope readers feel it, too. I hope they can hunker down in that Cascade Mountain valley beside San Franciscan native Claire as she adjusts to frontier life in a landlocked town. Or keep in stride with easygoing Barrett as he sets out to woo his unexpected and stubborn competition.

To show my gratitude for being able to visit the Petticoats and Pistols blog today, I’d love to giveaway print copies of the first two books in my “Love that Counts” series: One Plus One Equals Trouble and Two Ways Home.

Would you leave a comment telling me about a special setting in your life that carries you back to the past? Maybe a small mountain town like Plain, or a rustic desert valley? And after you comment, I’d be delighted if you’d hop over and visit my One Plus One Equals Trouble page on my website. You’ll get a little taste (four excerpts) of Barrett’s and Claire’s struggle to win the position without losing their hearts.

 

This is how the story starts: Killing Edward Stevens was beyond her proper ways. So instead, Claire Montgomery made tea. Even if she wanted to kill him, which she didn’t—not entirely—he was two states away, and she was here, stuck in a sparsely furnished cabin with a drafty window and a roof that moaned with the slightest wind.

And for those of you who like to read the last page first, who can’t stand a little mystery, I’ll share the last line—and only the last line—with you: “Ever.”

Bio:

A native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain, but nourish the soul.

Author Links

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For The Love of Candy

 

Save the Earth; it’s the only planet with chocolate

I’ve got candy on my mind this month and it’s not even Valentine’s.  There are two reasons why I’m thinking of all things sweet and it has nothing to do with the empty box of chocolates on my desk; January is national candy month and the heroine of my current work in progress owns a candy shop.  

While doing the research for my book, I turned up some fun and interesting facts.  For example, we can blame our sweet tooth on our cavemen ancestors and their fondness for honey.  But the most surprising thing I discovered was that marshmallows grow on trees—or at least used to.  That was before the French came up with a way to replace the sweet sap from the mallow tree with gelatin.   

I also learned that during the middle ages, the price of sugar was so high that only the rich could afford a sweet treat.  In fact, candy was such a rarity that the most children could expect was an occasional sugar plum at Christmas.  (BTW: there are no plums in sugar plums.  Plum is another word for good).

This changed during the early nineteenth century with the discovery of sugar-beet juice and mechanical candy-making machines.   

Soon jars of colorful penny candy could be found in every trading post and general store in the country. It took almost four hundred candy manufacturing companies to keep up with the demand. 

This changed the market considerably. Children as young as four or five were now able to make purchases independent of their parents. (Had youngsters known that vegetables including spinach was used to color candy, they might not have wasted their money.)

Children weren’t the only ones enjoying the availability of cheap candy. Civil War soldiers favored gumdrops, jelly beans, hard candy and, hub wafers (now known as Necco wafers).     

Never one to miss a trend, John Arbuckle, noted the sugar craze that had swept the country and decided to use it as marketing tool.  He included a peppermint stick in each pound bag of Arbuckle’s coffee to encourage sales. 

 “Who wants the peppermint?” was a familiar cry around chuck wagons. 

This call to grind the coffee beans got a rash of volunteers.  No rough and tumble cowboy worth his salt would turn down a stick of peppermint candy, especially when out on the trail.

Arbuckle wasn’t the only one to see gold in candy. Outlaw Doc Scurlock, friend of Billy the Kid and a Bloody Lincoln County War participant, retired from crime in 1880. Though he was still a wanted man, he moved to Texas and opened up a candy store.

Cadbury, Mars and Hershey rode herd on the chocolate boom of the late 1800s, early 1900s.  Penny candy still made up eighteen percent of candy sales but, by this time, some merchants had refused to sell it.  Profits were thin and selling such small amounts to children was time-consuming. Chocolate was more profitable. The penny candy market vanished altogether during World War II when sugar was rationed.  Fortunately, no war could do away with chocolate.

Okay, so what’s your favorite candy?  Anyone have a candy memory to share?

LeftattheAltarfinalcover

 

Who knew being Left at the Altar could be such

sweet, clean, madcap fun?

Amazon

 

 

 

Updated: January 23, 2017 — 5:05 pm

The Great Die Up

Today I’d like to share information on The Great Cattle Die Up, an ironic take on the term ‘cattle round up’.

Cattle grazing on open range.

During the early 1880s, the summers on the plains of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas had been wonderfully cool and winters had proven to be unusually mild, making it easy to feed livestock year around, thus lulling ranchers and beef speculators into a sense of false security. Cattle prices were high, and to increase profits, the ranges were overstocked and soon overgrazed. Beef prices started to fall and the summer of 1867 was unusually hot and dry, making it difficult to put up enough foriage to feed the stock in case the weather took a nasty turn…which it did.

It began to snow on November 13 and snowed every day for a month. The sparse food was hidden beneath the deep snow and the cattle, already in poor condition due to the summer drought, began to die. In January, the temperatures plummeted, perhaps as low as -63°F. A chinook came then, melting the top of the snow, then temperatures fell again, creating a hard crus on top of the deep snow. Stories tell of horses and cattle cut and bleeding from the knees down as they attempted to navigate the crusted snow. Cattle roamed into towns, bawling for food and eating shrubbery. Since little forage had been put up, ranchers had no choice but to watch their herds, their very livelihoods, starve and die.

By spring over 500,000 cattle—90% of the open range animals—had died. The carcasses covered the fields and clogged rivers and streams. The smell of rotting beef permeated the air.

Both small ranches and huge cattle companies declared bankruptcy. Thousands of cowboys were put out of work. Some ranchers tried to steal unbranded calves, leading to range wars. Ultimately, it was the end of open range in the area. Barb wire cut the range into smaller sections, changing the face of Montana ranching forever.

Teddy Roosevelt, prior to the Great Die Up had proclaimed cattle ranching “the pleasantest, healthiest and most exciting phase of American existence.” After the winter of 1887, he wrote to a friend, “Well, we have had a perfect smashup all through the cattle country of the northwest. The losses are crippling. For the first time I have been utterly unable to enjoy a visit to my ranch. I shall be glad to get home.”

Not a very happy story, but a true one that forever changed the face of ranching.

THE AMERICAN INDIAN SCOUT

Howdy!  And welcome to another Tuesday blog.  Before I go into the most interesting part of the blog and tell you about the awesome abilities of the American Indian scouts of old, I wanted to mention that I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF and also my most recent release, SENECA SURRENDER to two lucky bloggers.  Just leave a comment and you are automatically entered into the drawing for the book — remember to look over the Giveaway Guidelines at the right side of this page.

One other important point:  we all rely on you to come to the blog tomorrow (Wednesday — usually at night) or Thursday to see if you have won.  Unlike some other sites, we don’t contact you if you are the winner.  So please do check back.

apachescout4The reason why I’m giving away the ebook, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF is because it is a book about a hero who is, among other things, a scout.  In researching this profession, I ran across some extremely interesting abilities that these men of old had.  Now, I find it interesting, indeed, that these men could tell from a mere trail the thoughts, health, etc. of the man/woman/animal who had left that trail.  This information, some of which I’ll quote, comes from the book, THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, by Tom Brown, Jr., a man, who as a young boy was taken under the wing of an old Apache scout, and who was trained by that man as a scout.  Grandfather is what Mr. Brown called this old Apache scout.  So this passage is from this book.

“(Grandfather) defined the tracking that we had done as typical or novice tracking, but the tracking of the scout was defined as master tracking.  Even at the onset, the difference became obvious.  Grandfather told us that the earth was like an open book, filled with stories.  These stories were written not only in the softest ground but also on every other type of soil even on rock…”

arikarascoutMr. Brown goes on to say, “To this day, the greatest tracking thrill of my life was when Grandfather first showed me how to read track “compressions” in impossible soils and on solid rock…”

And here is where one really begins to learn about the old American Indian Scouts (those scouts who worked for the United States army were not the scouts of old).  Anyway, again, another quote from THE WAY OF THE SCOUT, “You must stop looking at the tracks as lifeless depressions in the ground. Instead, and you have noticed inside of the track is a tiny landscape.  There are hills, valleys, peaks, ridges, domes, pocks, and countless other little features.  These features the scouts developed into a science, that which they call the ‘pressure releases.’  It is through these pressure releases that the scout can know everything about the animal or man that he is tracking.  The scouts of my clan could identify and define over four thousand of these pressure releases, and I know of no peoples of the earth that have been able to do the same.”

curlycrowscoutMr. Brown goes on to explain in his book how these pressure releases can be read and identified, and he goes on to say that because man or animals are stabilized by their feet on the ground, they are always in motion and always having to keep balance — even to the tiniest of moves.  It’s because of this constant need to keep balance and shift that produces the “pressure releases.”

IndianScouts2Mr. Brown goes on to say that he and his friend, Rick, who was learning about tracking also, would start to identify their own moods and look at the pressure releases and note the difference between that mood and some other emotion — and study their own tracks — he says that everyone became a source of study.

He even goes on to say that “Grandfather taught us to expand our awareness and tracking beyond even that level.  He would stand beside a tree, point to a missing limb and ask, “How long ago was this done?  What did it and how?  What direction did the cutter come from?  Was his axe or saw dull or sharp, was he right- or left-handed, what degree of strength did he have?  Grandfather told us that we should always hold one question in our minds at all times:  What is this telling me?”

Charles EastmanIndian&boyscoutsBy the way, the picture to the left is a picture of a young Charles Eastman, a Sioux Indian, who became a lawyer for his people.  I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) that it was Charles Eastman who established the Boy Scouts long, long ago.  If he didn’t establish it, he certainly helped to create it.  Charles Eastman also wrote several books with the help of his wife, whom he met in collage.  She was white.  I believe some time ago, there was a television story concerning Charles Eastman and his wife, and I believe that Adam Beach played the part of Charles Eastman.  This was an interesting fact to learn for me, because I have never really known that the Boy Scouts came to us from the American Indian — I had never stopped to consider it until I read about it from either one of Charles Eastman’s books or another book.

adambeachascharleseastmanAt the left here is a picture of Adam Beach playing Charles Eastman.  : )

Well, that’s all for today.  Next blog I’d like to tell you a little about the water dance of the scout.  Did you know there was such a thing?  I can’t help but think sometimes that it is a shame that one culture coming in will often destroy the culture that is there already.  There is so much we could have learned from the American Indian of old.  I always look forward to these blogs so that I can tell you a little about what I’ve learned because I think it so vital to keep these things alive.

SpiritoftheWolf-The-R -- first draftAnd so today, I’m giving away a free e-book of THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, one of my stories that delves deeply into the scout and how this influences the heroine of the story.

I’m also giving away another book, SENECA SURRENDER, in e-book format because this is my latest book to be released.

So come on in, leave a comment, and let me know what you think of this very vital role of the American Indian culture, the Scout.

 

Updated: January 23, 2017 — 10:39 pm

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)

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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.

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AUTHOR BIO:

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:
http://www.blybooks.com/genre/contemporary-fiction/

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Book 1 is Wind in the Wires. Find it here: http://www.blybooks.com/books/inspirational-books-novel/

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 … http://www.blybooks.com/contact/stephen-bly-books-newsletter/

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Updated: January 17, 2017 — 10:19 am

COME WITH ME TO WOLF CREEK! by Cheryl Pierson

This past year, I was honored to be asked to participate in two more of the “Wolf Creek” collections that are the brainchild of Dr. Troy Smith, a wonderful author, outstanding history professor at Tennessee Tech,  and a very good friend. Troy’s vision, when he created the fictional post-Civil War Kansas town of Wolf Creek, was that it would be populated by a very diverse community. That, in itself, would cause its own brand of problems as the people of Kansas were sorely divided during the Civil War—and that conflict left its mark long after the War ended.

With over two dozen western authors making up the fabled “Ford Fargo”, author of the Wolf Creek anthologies and shared universe books, I have found myself in some very fine company to work alongside in these creations. The beauty of this project is that each author has the freedom to incorporate their character(s) into a loose framework that Troy lays out, and every shared story gets off to a great start, has no “sagging middle”, and comes to a very climactic ending—yet, it does so with the efforts of (usually) 6 authors per book.Imagine the thrill of being a part of such a collective effort—and seeing how flawlessly the eventual project comes out!

Available in print and e-book formats at Amazon.

In 2016, I participated in two anthologies. These are somewhat different from the “shared universe” books in which there is one story, divided into chapters. The anthologies are separate short stories, but they do propel the same story along to the completion, in many ways, a lot like the chapter books do.

I had a story in a book that was published in May, Wolf Creek: Book 14—WAR STORIES. This was a fun one, because there is a creepy barber, John Hix, who lives in Wolf Creek. He claims to have had nothing at all to do with the Civil War, yet he’s always wanting others to talk about what THEY did during the War…and he has his own reasons. And let’s just say, there have been some “unexplained disappearances”… This was a bittersweet book, as the incomparable western author, Frank Roderus, was a contributor—and this was one of his last publications before he passed away.

In my story, UNCLE JOHN, my character, Derrick McCain, discovers quite by accident that he has a daughter, six-year-old Viviana, that he didn’t know he had—and her mother is dying. But just as Vivi’s mother passes, Derrick is in for another surprise—one that troubles him to his soul: it becomes apparent that somehow, John Hix, the barber, is well-acquainted with little Vivi and her mother—and this is one man that Derrick doesn’t want anywhere near his family!

Available in print and e-book formats at Amazon.

The second book I contributed to this past year was called Wolf Creek: Book 18—HUNTER’S MOON. My story was THREE GOOD MEN, and this time, the town of Wolf Creek will soon be under siege by a band of raiding Kiowas who will show no mercy. They’ll reach the McCain family farm first, and though Derrick wants nothing more than to stay behind with the three men who’ve come to warn him and make their stand in his farmhouse, he knows he has to see his family to safety above all else. With the help of Sheriff Sam Gardner, a crusty lawman, Derrick and his wife, Leah, begin the trip to Wolf Creek in the dead of night under a hunter’s moon. But it isn’t long before Derrick realizes they are going to have to abandon the wagon and take their chances in the darkness of the forest to have any kind of hope of making it safely to Wolf Creek.

Some of the Kiowas follow, and while Sam and Leah make their way through the night with Vivi and her baby twin brothers, Derrick battles the Kiowas to save his family. When daylight comes, will the McCains and Sam be alive to continue the journey to warn the citizens of Wolf Creek of the impending attack? And what will become of the THREE GOOD MEN who have stayed behind to hold off the Kiowas and give Derrick, his family, and the town of Wolf Creek a fighting chance under a HUNTER’S MOON?

Available in print and e-book formats at Amazon.

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Here’s an excerpt from THREE GOOD MEN. Leah, the children, and Sam are making their way through the forest, and Leah is understandably worried about what’s going to happen. Here, she talks things over with Sam–and wonders where in the heck her husband is–or if he’s even still alive…

They walked in silence for a few more moments. Leah’s mind raced. Where is Derrick? He said he’d be right behind us. By her guess, it had been at least twenty minutes since they’d parted—maybe longer. Leah hurried to catch up with Sam, leaving Vivi out of earshot. “Sam, can you tell me—what was going on with you and John Hix? Were you–”

“Hix is a killer. I figured him out, followed him to your place. Charlie and Roman had ridden up just before I got there. You know the rest.” He shook his head and shifted Liam in his arm. “I hated having to go off and leave him there with Charley and Roman. But…there was no other choice.”

“Do you think—” Leah bit her lip. “I shouldn’t even mention my house at all, with the danger of the Kiowas killing three men. But…I love my home. I love what it means—a family…where my children lay their heads to sleep every night, in safety. Where my husband and I drink coffee in the mornings…and plan our dreams for the future. And where I finally have a place of my own, where I belong. To lose it—”

“Leah, they may not come—”

“Oh, they’ll come. Charley and Roman wouldn’t have stopped at our place if they’d thought there’d be any chance the Kiowas would’ve gone straight on to Wolf Creek. I have a feeling…I know my home will be destroyed.”

“If that happens,” Sam said carefully, “Wolf Creek will help you rebuild. I know that’s small consolation, but—”

She shook her head. “Forgive me. I shouldn’t even be thinking about my things when men’s lives are at stake.” She smiled at him as he glanced at her.

“It’s natural. Thinking about everything you stand to lose,” he replied.

“My family is all that matters. We will rebuild if we have to, of course. The most important thing is that we keep everyone…safe.” Her voice broke.

“You’re worried about Derrick,” Sam stated flatly. “He’s an excellent tracker, as you well know. Could be he decided to go after them; buy us some time. Don’t be thinking the worst, Leah.”

She nodded, and kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to calm her thoughts. Don’t be thinking the worst. But how can I keep from it?

“Mama, Uncle John said he paid for some candy for me at the store,” Vivi reminded her.

Leah forced herself to smile back at the little girl. “I heard. That was nice of him.”

“He’s going away.”

“Yes.” If John Hix was killed by the Kiowas, or if he went away forever, it would be a relief. Leah had never liked Hix, and she knew Derrick felt the same. They tolerated Hix for Vivi’s sake. And to be fair, Hix doted on their daughter. It was strange to think that the odd little barber knew Vivi better than she or Derrick…or, at least, had known her longer.

“Will he ever come back, Mama?”

“I don’t know, Vivi. But at least he was able to say goodbye.”

Vivi nodded, but she looked downcast.

Leah’s heart clutched. Vivi had suffered so much loss—leaving her home, losing her mother, and now, John Hix. Leah refused to consider the further impending loss that weighed so heavy on her soul right now. Where is Derrick? The thought nagged. Thank goodness Vivi was too young to understand what was happening, truly, at the moment.

They could be in the process of losing everything. Everything, including their very lives.

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Both of my stories have been entered in the WESTERN FICTIONEERS PEACEMAKER COMPETITION. I’ve been a finalist in that contest three times before, so I’m sure hoping for a win this year in the short fiction category with one of these stories.

Y’all keep your fingers crossed for me!

My character, Derrick McCain, is an odd hero because he is “just a man”—not a lawman or an outlaw or anything glamorous. He is a farmer who did some things in the Civil War he isn’t proud of. He’s half Cherokee and half white, and though he didn’t set out to be a “family man”, throughout the Wolf Creek series, he’s found himself in that situation under very different circumstances.

I’m wondering what kind of heroes you all like to see? A lawman set on seeing right done? An outlaw who’s seen the error of his ways and turned his life around? A cowboy fighting for justice on the range? Or someone like Derrick, who just winds up through fate’s hand becoming a hero—though he never thinks of himself that way…

Leave me a comment! I always want to know what other people think, and I’m giving away a print copy of a past WOLF CREEK book that I’ve been a part of to TWO LUCKY COMMENTERS!

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