Category: Texas

Tiny West Texas Town Births an Empire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conrad Hilton was 31 when he arrived in Cisco.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tidbits and Texas Laws

I thought it’d be fun to look at some of the laws that are still on the books today.  Here are a few interesting ones I found in my file.  All are Texas laws and I added the town or area of Texas it’s applicable to. Many are statewide and I’m sure some have been amended.

• Temple, Texas: Cattle thieves may be hanged on the spot. No one may ride a horse and buggy through the town square, but they can ride their horse in the saloon.

• The capital of Texas, Austin: Wire cutters cannot be carried in your pocket.

• San Antonio, Texas: It is illegal for both sexes to flirt or respond to flirtation using the eyes and/or hands. It is also illegal to urinate on the Alamo.

• Texarkana: Owners of horses may not ride them at night without tail lights.

• It is illegal to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. It’s illegal to milk another’s cow.

• In Kingsville, there is a law against two pigs having sex on the city’s airport property. Why just the city’s airport property? Don’t ask me!

• It’s illegal to dust any public building with a feather duster. 

• In El Paso, churches, hotels, halls of assembly, stores, markets, banking rooms, railroad depots, and saloons are required to provide spittoons “of a kind and number to efficiently contain expectorations into them.

• In other parts of Texas you can’t land an airplane on the beach, throw trash from an airplane, or inhale fumes from model glue, not to mention you must obtain permission from the director of parks and recreation before getting drunk in any city park. This is where “Don’t Mess With Texas” comes in loud and clear!

• Texas is a common law state, so you can be legally married by publicly introducing a person as your husband or wife three times. So my advice to you, be careful what you say when you have your snoot full in a Texas honky tonk.

• Port Arthur: Obnoxious odors may not be emitted while in an elevator.

Some of these laws have been changed or strengthened, especially involving drinking and driving, while some like having wire cutters in your pocket or shooting buffalo from a second floor window of a hotel remains in full force and effect. So every time I look at the new Marriott being built, I wonder if they’ll add that law to the notice they put on the inside of your hotel room? I might just have to call them and find out.

But the best law of all: A cowman cannot tuck his pants into one boot unless he owns ten or more head of cattle. I have no idea what the purpose of this law might have been. Do you?

Are there any old laws that are unique to your part of the country that you’d like to share with us today?

 

To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I’ll give them their choice of an eBook or an autographed book of my newest Kasota Springs Romance Out of a Texas Night.

 

Updated: August 26, 2019 — 3:03 pm

It’s here! The C Bar C Ranch Duo! ~ Pam Crooks

 

Hot off the press! 

KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY

Book 2 of the C Barb C Ranch Duo is now available! 

 

 

So what does the word ‘series’ mean to you.  Two?  Three or more?

Merriam Webster defines series as “a succession of volumes or issues published with related subjects or authors, similar format and price, or continuous numbering.”  But the respected dictionary doesn’t define at what number a series makes.

In my opinion, anything two or more, as long as they are related, fits a series.  As you may know, series are extremely popular in the romance world.  Authors could typically have a half-dozen books in one series.  Multi-author groups could have their series stretch on for literally dozens of books.

In my case, The C Bar C Ranch series is two books with related characters on the same ranch.  Two books.  A duo, right?  Or a series, if you will.

Let me tell you a bit about my duo of stories that will always have a special place in my heart and were a joy to write.

Book 1

http://amzn.to/2TPWiJg

Carina Lockett is driven to build a legacy for her young daughter, and she doesn’t need a man to help her do it. But when her precious child is lured away and held for ransom, she must swallow her pride and ask for Penn McClure’s help.

Penn McClure had no intention of playing cowboy for any woman, especially one as strong-willed as Carina.

But driving a herd of cattle to Dodge City was no easy task. And he had a score to settle with the man waiting for them at the end of the trail.

Along the way, he discovers Carina is pure female–and that her legacy has become his own.

#kindleunlimited  #singletitle  #sensualromance

Buy on Amazon or read in KU

 

Book 2

Callie Mae Lockett is betrayed by the man who claims he’s responsible for her young brother’s tragic death. She chooses another to help carry on her precious legacy, the C Bar C Ranch , and he’s the farthest thing from a cowboy she’s ever met.

TJ Grier has always been one of the C Bar C’s best cowboys, but one horrible night destroys all he’s ever known.

Desperate to prove his innocence, he steals Callie Mae away, and together they plunge into danger to solve the secret that has torn them apart.

#kindleunlimited  #singletitle  #sensualromance

 

Buy on Amazon or read in KU

 

Would you like to win a copy of KIDNAPPED BY THE COWBOY?

Many of my books are in a series.  Just tell me if you’ve ever read one of them.  If so, which one? Or two?   Otherwise, what series have you read and loved?

Here’s a few of my western romances in a series:

                                    http://amzn.to/2TPWiJg     

Updated: August 8, 2019 — 7:42 am

First Woman Governor of Texas

Texas had the first woman elected governor in the United States, but she wasn’t the first woman to be governor. Marian A. Ferguson was better known as “Ma” Ferguson and elected in 1924 and inaugurated in 1925, which was two weeks after a woman became governor of Wyoming.

“Ma” Ferguson was married to former-governor James E. Ferguson, who was barred from running again after he resigned in 1917, just before he could be removed from office on corruption charges.

Interestingly enough, Governor “Ma” Ferguson is remembered for granting an average of one hundred pardons a month during her first two-year term of office, which was also marred by charges of graft and corruption.

Although she lost bids for re-election in 1926 and 1930, she served again from 1933 through 1935, when she fought the Depression with loans for cotton farmers and “bread bonds” to feed starving children.

One of Governor “Ma” Ferguson’s many full pardons went to “Buck” Barrow, who quickly took advantage of his release from prison to continue a life of crime. Buck and his wife got together with Buck’s brother, Clyde, and his girlfriend Bonnie Parker, who were already notorious criminals.
A few months later, in a shootout with police, Buck was killed, and his wife Blanche was capture. Bonnie and Clyde continued their crime spree.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were both Texas natives. They met in Dallas in 1930 and formed a criminal partnership that included jailbreaks, robberies, kidnappings, and murders.

Their crime-spree prompted a well-publicized nationwide manhunt that ended on May 23, 1934, when a group of lawmen ambushed the couple and killed them.

Since then, their short careers as lawbreakers have been popularized in films, songs, and movies. Even in the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco there is a display of exhibits related to their ultimate demise.

Tell me about your favorite outlaw real or imaginary!

To one reader who leaves a comment, I will give them an eBook of my latest Kasota Spring Romance Out of a Texas Night.

Updated: April 29, 2019 — 5:22 pm

Not Always by Choice: Mail-Order Brides

I love reading and writing mail-order bride stories set in the Old West.  I’m happy to say that next month my next mail-order bride story The Cowboy Meets His Match will be published. And boy, oh, boy, does that couple ever clash!

It’s hard to imagine a young woman traveling west to marry a man she’d never set eyes on. The original catalog-bride business grew out of necessity. The lack of marriageable women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War. The war not only created thousands of widows but a shortage of men, especially in the South.

As a result, marriage brokers and heart-and-hand catalogs popped up all around the country. According to an article in the Toledo Blade, lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalog company asking for brides. (The latest such letter received by Sears was from a lonely marine during the Vietnam War.)

In those early days, advertisements cost five to fifteen cents, and letters were exchanged along with photographs. Fortunately, the telegraph and train made communication easier.

Not all marriage brokers were legitimate, and many a disappointed client ended up with an empty bank account rather than a contracted mate.

For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail-order bride were so enamored with each other that they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.

Not every bride was so lucky. In her book Hearts West, Chris Enss tells the story of mail-order bride Eleanor Berry. On the way to her wedding, her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men. While signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her new husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her.

No one seems to know how many mail-order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey.  He wasn’t in the mail-order bride business, but, by the turn of the century, five thousand Harvey Girls had found husbands while working in his restaurants.

Under what circumstances might you have traveled west to marry a stranger?

His first mistake was marrying her; his second was falling in love.

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Updated: April 20, 2019 — 8:56 am

My Time Inside a Real Pullman Car

At the end of January, I had the chance to travel to historic Jefferson, Texas for a writer’s retreat. It was a history-lover’s delight! We stayed in an 1867 home, shopped in a 19th century mercantile, and stopped in at the oldest continuously run hotel in Texas. It was at the Excelsior Hotel, that we secured a tour of the authentic 1888 Pullman car stationed across the street.

Pullman cars offered sleeping berths for train travel in the 19th century. Usually only the wealthy could afford this luxury. But if you found yourself in the super-wealthy category, you might be able to afford a custom-built private sleeping car for personal use. Such was the case with railroad tycoon, Jay Gould.

Believe it or not, this tiny town of 2,000 was once the 4th largest city in Texas. Back at the height of the riverboat era, Jefferson was a bustling port with a thriving cotton culture and a population around 8,000. Jay Gould came to town and tried to convince them to let him run his railroad through Jefferson. Unfortunately, the town wanted nothing to do with his Yankee money and turned him down. Mr. Gould predicted the destruction of the town on his way out and decided to build his railroad through the tiny town of Dallas instead. Rather ironic that the town that once sent Jay Gould away made the effort to secure his Pullman car as part of their history years later. Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20.

The Pullman car was a wonder to behold. The lighting was both electric and gas. Electricity would be generated while the train was in motion, and gas would be piped in when the train was stationary.

You will notice jay birds featured in much of the decor. Jay Gould used the jay bird as his symbol. It was even part of his signature visible on the register in the Excelsior Hotel. You will see it etched into the glass globes around the lights and most decadently on the side of his bathtub.

The electric bulbs are lit, but notice the small pipe in the center. That is where the gas would burn. Also note the jay birds etched in the glass at the bottom.

Jay Gould’s private bathtub.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are other pictures I took. You might see some authors you recognize along the way.

Elizabeth Ludwig in the front compartment used for social gatherings or for conducting business.

A true water closet. The basin would pull down once the door was open.

Anne Mateer and Crystal Barnes in the hall admiring the lavatory.

One of the smaller staterooms that had seating below and a pull-down berth above.

One of the large staterooms with a full bed. This was used by Mrs. Gould.

The second small stateroom set up for tea with a removable table that hooked into the wall.

Elizabeth Ludwig and Regina Jennings peeking through the window from the hall – wanting to get in on the tea action.

These three photos show the kitchen. They start with the cold side where you will see an icebox and the sleeping berth for the cook. There is also a counter with a pass-through window area that leads to the hot side where the stove is situated.

Finally, the rear compartment. The overall set up had two staterooms on either side with the hall switching from the left to the right side halfway down the car near the kitchen area to balance out the weight of the car. Notice the stained glass transoms above the windows. These could be opened to create a breeze during warm days.

 

Even today this would be a luxurious way to travel.

What museums have you visited that made you want to travel back in time?

From Murderer to Lawman — Texas Ranger Captain Arrington

In April, I’m attending an arts workshop, including authors, in Canadian, in the Texas Panhandle. You can’t think about this part of Texas without giving a great deal of thought to one of our pioneers, Captain George Washington Arrington, who was also one of the first Texas Rangers. His ranch is now an historical site with a Bed and Breakfast. I’m hoping to take a tour while we’re there.

“Cap”, as he was known, was not just a lawman, rancher, spy for the Confederacy, and Texas Ranger, but also a murderer.

Arrington was born in Alabama under the name of John C. Orrick, Jr., and at the age of sixteen enlisted in the Confederate Army. But, in 1867 he murdered a businessman in his hometown; and after a while, he moved to Texas and changed his name to Arrington to escape his troubled past. He did many things during his lifetime; worked on the railroad, at a commission house, and farmed in Collin County, Texas, which led him to get hired on to be a drover in cattle drives. That seemingly changed his life.

In 1875 he enlisted in Company E of the newly organized Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers, where he excelled and after only two years was promoted to Captain of Company C because of his accomplishments of tracking down fugitives and outlaws. In 1879, his Company was moved to the Texas Panhandle to investigate depredations at area ranches. He eventually established the first Ranger Camp in the Panhandle.
 
After breaking up a major rustling ring, he left the Rangers and became the sheriff of “the mother city of the Panhandle”, Mobeetie, a wild and woolly town with a reputation for fast gunplay, sporting women and quick-dealing gamblers.

Although, Capt. Arrington had dealt with hostiles and outlaws, and had even murdered a man, he couldn’t deal with card sharks, cattle rustlers and ladies of the evening. But, the best thing about him living in Mobeetie was meeting and marrying Sara Burnette. Out of that union came ten children. The first two were born in the Old Mobeetie Jail, where part of the two-story structure was used as a resident.

After Arrington left his office as Sheriff, he managed the Rocking Chair Ranch, until it was sold to a large conglomerate. Involved in the civic affairs of Canadian and helping to establish their first rural school, Cap purchased his own ranch.
 
The Arrington Ranch Headquarters, which still stands today, is located south of Canadian adjacent to the Washita River. The house was ordered from the Van Tein catalog, delivered by railroad, moved pieces at a time by wagon for the first ten miles, and set up on the prairie in 1919. The building site was well chosen; sweeping vistas offer unobstructed sunsets and sunrises across the grassland.

Captain Arrington was definitely a self-made man of his era, harsh but fair. He was rarely seen without his sidearm, fully aware of the long list of enemies made during his tenure as a lawman. If the Captain wasn’t wearing a six-shooter, he had one within easy reach.
 
In his later years, he suffered from arthritis and made frequent train trips to Mineral Wells for their hot baths. In 1923, on one of these trips, he had a heart attack. He returned to his beloved Canadian where he died on March 31, 1923. He and his wife are both buried in the Old Mobeetie cemetery.


The Arrington Ranch House Lodge is alive and well owned by 5th generation Arrington, who have worked hard to keep Captain George Washington Arrington’s name alive and well in the Texas Panhandle.

Have you ever spent time in an historical home or building? How did it make you feel?

To one reader who leaves me a comment, I will give them an autographed copy of my latest Kasota Spring Romance Out of a Texas Night.
 

Updated: February 25, 2019 — 5:23 pm

Before There Was a Texas, There Were Texas Rangers

I’m on the last draft of the third book in my Haywire Brides series (at least I hope it’s the last draft). My male protagonist is a Texas Ranger and, as some of you might have guessed from my earlier books, that’s my favorite type of hero to write about.

The Texas Rangers have a long and checkered history, starting in 1823. When Stephan F. Austin hired ten men to protect the frontier, he probably never imagined that nearly two hundred years later, the force would still be going strong.  

Those early Rangers were called various names including mounted gunmen, mounted volunteers, minutemen, spies, scouts and mounted rifle companies.  The term Texas Rangers didn’t come into use until the1870s.

Maintaining law and order on the frontier wasn’t easy, but those mounted gunmen still managed to move with quick speed over long distances, and settle trouble on the spot. Those early rangers were called upon to serve as infantrymen, border guards, and investigators.  They tracked down cattle rustlers and helped settle labor disputes.  They both fought and protected the Indians.

The job didn’t come cheap.  A man was expected to provide his own horse and it had to be equipped with saddle, blanket and bridle.  A man also had to supply his own weaponry, which included rifle, pistol and knife. 

As for clothing, a Texas Ranger wore what he had.  It wasn’t until the Rangers became full-time professional lawmen in the 1890s that many started wearing suits.  (Today, Rangers are expected to wear conservative western attire, including western boots and hat, dress shirt and appropriate pants.)

He would also have carried a blanket, and cloth wallet for salt and ammunition.  To alleviate thirst, a ranger would suck on sweetened or spiced parched corn.  Dried meat, tobacco and rope were also considered necessities. What he didn’t carry with him was provided by the land. It was a tough life and it’s not hard to guess why a man seldom lasted more than six months on the job.

Those early professional Rangers received twenty-five dollars a month in pay and worked hard for it. An officer’s pay was seventy-five dollars.

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

Today, the Texas Rangers enjoy a stellar reputation, but that wasn’t always the case. Frontier justice could sometimes be harsh and cruel, and some Rangers fought according to their own rules. This led to excesses of brutality and injustice, including the massacre of unarmed citizens.  The Rangers were reformed by a Legislature resolution in 1919, which instituted a citizen complaint system.

The Texas Rangers have undergone many changes and transformations through the years. But the biggest change of all probably has such legendary Rangers as John B. Jones and Big Foot Wallace a-whirling in their graves; The Texas Rangers recently allowed women to join the ranks.  (Hmm.  I feel a story coming on.)

I told you the kind of heroes I like to write.  What kind of heroes do you like to read about?

“This book charms.”  Publishers Weekly

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Updated: January 18, 2019 — 2:16 pm

Cowboy Charm School & Giveaway!

When buying a horse don’t consult a pedestrian;

When courting a woman don’t ask advice of a bachelor.

                                               -Cowboy Charm School

I’m excited that my next book Cowboy Charm School will be published September 4th (but can be ordered now.) I played with the idea for four or five years before I actually got around to writing the book.  Book ideas generally come to me in scenes.  I’ll suddenly visualize someone atop a runaway stagecoach or scrambling over a roof and then have to figure out who, what, and why.

The scene that popped into my head for Cowboy Charm School was a wedding scene with a handsome stranger running down the church aisle yelling, “Stop the Wedding!” 

It took me awhile to figure out that the man was Texas Ranger Brett Tucker,  who thinks he’s saving the bride, Kate Denver, from marrying an outlaw. He’s mistaken, of course, but the groom jealously jumps to all the wrong conclusions and the couple breaks-up. 

Brett feels terrible for what’s he’s done and is determined to set things right. Since the hapless groom hasn’t a clue as to how to win Kate back, it’s up to Brett to give him a few pointers–and that’s when the real trouble begins. 

For a chance to win a copy of the book, tell us the best or worse advice anyone ever gave you.  (Contest guidelines apply.)

“This tale charms.” -Publishers Weekly

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Updated: August 19, 2018 — 7:38 am

How the West Was Wed–Giveaway

It’s PUB week for my book How the West Was Wed

and I’m giving away an eBook copy.

The only thing threatening their success is love.

After finding herself a widow at the age of twenty-six, JOSIE JOHNSON moves back home to Two-Time, Texas and takes over the town’s only newspaper, the Gazette.  Everything works as planned until the very charming, very handsome BRANDON WADE moves to town to start his own newspaper. At first Josie welcomes the competition, but soon learns that readers prefer Wade’s bold hyperbole to her more serious type of journalism.

Brandon never meant to put the pretty publisher out of business and suggests a solution.  Nothing sells newspapers like a good juicy scandal, but lacking that, the next best thing is a good old-fashioned print war between two battling editors.  Brandon even writes up an article disparaging himself and his paper to demonstrate. Josie refuses to stoop to such tactics.  She’ll gain her readers back on her own terms—or not at all!  But when her paper accidentally publishers Wade’s article, the print wars are on.

The rivalry between Josie and Brandon meets with immediate success and both newspapers fly off the racks. The editorial warfare is the talk of the town and readers can’t seem to get enough. While the ink wars rage on, Josie and Brandon find themselves fighting yet another battle—a mutual attraction that could put everything they worked for at risk.

Before the Civil War, people were content to receive news weeks and even months after an event, if at all.  The war changed that. Suddenly, people were demanding to know what was going on, and newspapers became an important part of life.  President Lincoln recognized that newspapers could be used to sway public opinion and he used them to good advantage, much as politicians do today.  

Here’s my question: What’s your favorite way of getting the news?

 

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Updated: March 17, 2018 — 7:03 am