Category: Wagon Trains

My Last Trip to Hearts Crossing Ranch~Tanya Hanson

 

My eight-novella inspirational series is now compiled in one big anthology, at Pelican Book Group, including the never-published finale, Cross Your Heart. Each of the eight Martin siblings of Hearts Crossing Ranch in Mountain Cove Colorado, has a story of heartbreak and triumph, success or lost faith, sickness or health, and finds a western-style happily-ever after. (Even their widowed matriarch Elaine finds love again!)

My May post showed how a real-life wagon train trip inspired the entire series, but it was my husband’s 2008 cancer battle that led me down the inspirational road. (God be praised, he is now cured.)

Below is a nutshell synopsis about each of the stories.

  1. Hearts Crossing Ranch~ Losing her father to a drunk driver has shattered Christy Forrest’s faith and hope. Going solo on the city slicker wagon trip her dad had planned before his death gets her alongside a handsome wagon master. But the last thing she needs is a faith-filled cowboy…

Kenn Martin, himself jaded by a woman’s betrayal, realizes he could heal his heart with the lovely landscape architect—if Christy gives them the chance.

  1. Redeeming Daisy~ The ranch’s large-animal vet Pike Martin should steer clear from bad-girl Daisy Densmore, the woman who broke his brother Kenn’s heart, but something about her wounded soul can’t be ignored.

Broken and humiliated by bad decisions, Daisy has no choice but to fall back to Mountain Cove…and literally into Pike’s arms when he saves her from herself.

  1. Sanctuary~ Cancer survivor and ranch foreman Hooper Martin doesn’t dare fall in love again. The single dad has been through loss and a horrific physical struggle. But meeting Mallie Cameron at Kenn and Christy’s wedding lets him know love can bloom again

But Mallie is battling an incurable brain tumor and won’t get involved…

(My husband battled the same horrific cancer as Hooper’s, and Mallie is based on my daughter’s beloved sorority sister who left us in 2012 and tore out my heart. Even when you know it’s going to happen, nothing prepares you for when it does.)

  1. Right to Bragg~ Nanny and paralegal Tiffany Vickers has been disowned by her own family, and the guilt wants to drown her. Coming to work for attorney Rachel Martin is starting to give her a sense of family again.

Accountant and cowboy Bragg Martin, himself bearing guilt for faking tests during his star-athlete turn, knows in his heart that he and Tiffany could be a perfect couple in spite of everything. And then Daisy’s ex-husband puts the move on…

It’s Christmas, though, the time of hope and love.

  1. Soul Food~ Kelley Martin has no qualms about being a vegetarian in cattle country, but her failed restaurant brings her back home. She realizes the value of roots and family. Chuck cook on a Hearts Crossing wagon train gets her up close with geneticist Jason Easterday, a self-acclaimed vagabond. How can she get him to stick around?
  1. Angel Child~ Graphic artist and cowboy Scott Martin holds himself back from falling for his high school art teacher. Of course they’re adults now and it’s perfectly acceptable. But Mary Grace holds herself back. Not many men, not even a committed Christian like Scott, will accept her severely disabled little son…
  1. Seeing Daylight~ When her Army husband returns safely from his long deployment in the Middle East, attorney Rachel Martin knows they’ll make it. Until he dies in a foolish mishap. Meeting Brayton Metcalf doesn’t make life any better. He keeps secrets, too, and bears the burden of causing his wife’s death.
  1. The Finale, not available as a singleton: Cross Your Heart~ The youngest Martin, Chelsea has grown up, but nobody takes her seriously despite her college degree and travels abroad. Will her older siblings always consider her a baby? Or will they accept her commitment as an environmental scientist? Saving a wounded horse to prove her maturity is a start. Until she runs into her college love. Once a spoiled surfer with tons of money, Dutton Morse’s new heritage threatens to derail their reunion from the start: he’s an oil man…

I enjoyed writing my “ride” through the trails of Hearts Crossing Ranch and hope you do, too.

Updated: May 31, 2017 — 2:20 pm

Wagon-training around the Tetons~Tanya Hanson

 

                                                            

A while back,  I and my hubby T.L., brother-in-law Timmy and sis Roberta (l-r in the pic above) had the experience of a lifetime, taking a wagon train around the Tetons with an amazing group, Teton Wagon Train and Horse Adventures headed by wagonmaster Jeff Warburton out of Jackson, Wyoming. He’s a true cowboy and a gentleman and guested here in Wildflower Junction not long after we got back.

Anyway, this fantastic trip helped inspire my eight-novella series Hearts Crossing Ranch, about the lives and loves of eight siblings of a Colorado working ranch that also runs city slicker wagon trains. The entire series–including the never-before-published finale about the baby sister Chelsea–has been compiled in one big anthology, available next month, and available for pre-order.

 

Anyway….We spent four days circling the Tetons through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest bordering Yellowstone bear country. We didn’t see any bear– likely the thundering horses skeered ’em away.

We got our start in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

First stop on the bus taking us to the wagons were photo-ops of the Grand lady herself..followed by her neighbor Mount Moran reflected perfectly in a oxbow lake.

These scenes were practically perfection in itself..but all breath stopped when we reached The Wagons.

 There was nothing quite like chuck wagon cooking in the open mountain air.

Pulling our wagons were magnificent draft horses, Percherons and Belgians. They are named in teams, such as Lady and Tramp, Gun and Smoke, Sandy and Sage, Jack and Jill. The first name is always the horse on the left. These glorious beasts are capable of pulling up to 4,000 pounds as a team, and they love to work. In winter, they lead sleighs to the elk refuge outside Jackson.                                                              

While the wagons do have rubber tires and padded benches, the gravel roads are nothing like a modern freeway. Most times our route was called the “cowboy rollercoaster.”

Most of our hard-working, helpful cowpokes were college students working for the summer. I promise you they remembered everybody’s name from the get-go. No question was too dumb.

 

 

I think everybody’s favorite “crew member” was Buddy, probably the cutest dog ever. He accompanied every trail ride after following the draft horses from camp to camp…he romped in every stream and lake, caught mice, and totally stole everybody’s heart. Jeff says, Buddy’s pretty disgusted to become a backyard dog after the summertime.

Our tents were comfy—all sleeping essentials are provided–, and there was nothing so fine as a cup of Arbuckle’s to warm us up on a chilly evening.  After supper—cowboy potatoes, Indian frybread, and raspberry butter are among our favorites—we gathered around the campfire for Jeff’s tall tales, historical accounts of the Old West, legends, guitar strumming, cowboy poetry and songs, S’mores, and delicious Dutch oven desserts such as peach cobbler and cherry chocolate cake always served to the ladies first.

One of the nicest parts of the meals was Jeff leading us in a blessing first. Nobody had to join in…but seems like everybody did.

 

Days were full of Wyoming wildflowers, lakes and pine trees reaching for the clouds.   Nights after the camp quieted down were almost beyond description: the stars are endless, multi-layered, sparkling on forever and ever amen. What a sight.                                                   

But the most fun of all was riding horses!  Folks either rode, hiked, or wagonned it to the next camp each day.   My favorite mount was Copper. You can see her ears in the photo below–I’m astride and taking a pic of my hubby, ahead in the red ball cap.

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Our last day, the Pony Express rode through camp and brought us all mail.

Me and mine, well, we had the time of our life.

 

As Jeff said when we left, “There’s always be a campfire burnin’ for ya here in Wyomin.”

 

Yep. I’m feeling the warmth right now.

Sigh.

 

Updated: April 6, 2017 — 11:40 pm

Following the Oregon Trail

Source: Wikipedia Commons, photo by Mike Tigas

Before I was a romance writer, I was a voracious romance reader. My reading of choice in those early days was historical romance, particularly American-set historicals. There were two facets of American history that drew me more than any others — Colonial/Revolution and Westerns. So it wasn’t a stretch that the first manuscript I ever wrote was set along the Oregon Trail. And since my sister moved to the Northwest, I’ve taken opportunities over the years to go on road trips to see her instead of flying (which I don’t like anyway).

During one of these trips, I got to see with my own eyes several of the Oregon Trail sites that I’d researched and written about in that first manuscript. I was fascinated to travel in the steps of those brave men and women who headed out for a new life, who traveled into the largely unknown landscape that was filled with danger on a daily basis.

Source: Wikipedia Commons, Scotts Bluff National Monument – Panorama. August 2006. Author: Kahvc7

Nebraska and Wyoming are often considered flyover states, but there’s so much to see, so much history to be absorbed if you take to the roads instead. One of the famous landmarks Oregon Trail travelers looked for on their journey was Chimney Rock in present Morrill County, Nebraska. This geological feature made of a combination of clay, volcanic ash and sandstone has a peak nearly 300 feet above the surrounding North Platte River valley. Travelers along the California and Mormon trails also used it as a landmark. You can see it today from US Route 26 and Nebraska Highway 92. Learn more at the Chimney Rock National Historic Site website.

Source: Wikipedia Commons, photo by Chris Light

About 20 miles to the northwest of Chimney Rock, also along Nebraska Highway 92, is Scotts Bluff National Monument near the town of Gering. This collection of bluffs on the south side of the North Platte River was first documented by non-native people when fur traders began traveling through the area in the early 1800s. It was noted to be among the first indications that the flatness of the Great Plains was beginning to give way to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s named after Hiram Scott, a fur trader who died near the bluff in 1828, though the Native peoples of the area called it “Me-a-pa-te” or “the hill that is hard to go around.”

Oregon Trail Ruts near Guernsey, WY. Source: Wikipedia Commons, photo by Paul Hermans

After crossing into Wyoming, another National Park Service site preserving trail history is Fort Laramie National Historic Site, which sits at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte rivers. It has a rich history as a frontier trading post and then an Army post up until its decommission and transfer out of the final troops in 1890. The fort also has appeared in pop culture, including in the Oregon Trail and Age of Empires video games, the 1955 movie White Feather, and a 1950s CBS radio drama called, appropriately, Fort Laramie. You can learn more at the Fort Laramie NHS website.

Perhaps one of the most amazing things you can still see today along the Oregon Trail are actual ruts made by the thousands of heavily loaded wagons heading west. This physical evidence made me feel closer to those long-ago travelers than anything else. One of the places you can see these ruts is Oregon Trail Ruts, a National Historic Landmark near Guernsey, Wyoming.

To learn more about the Oregon National Historic Trail overseen by the National Park Service throughout seven states, visit their site. I hope to be able to visit even more trail sites in the future. I’d especially like to see Independence Rock in Wyoming and more end-of-the-trail sites in Oregon.

Have you ever traveled to historic sites you’ve either written or read about? What were your favorites? I’ll give away a signed copy of A Rancher to Love, part of my Blue Falls, Texas series from Harlequin Western Romance to one commenter.

Happy trails!

Updated: February 26, 2017 — 2:56 pm

A Life-Long Love of Westerns

Howdy, everyone! I’m happy to be joining the Petticoats & Pistols as the newest member today, partly because it’s always nice to hang out with other writers and readers but also because of the focus on westerns. You see, I’ve loved westerns for as long as I can remember. I recently had to answer a questionnaire for my publisher, and one of the questions was why I liked cowboy stories. I had to sit and think about it because it was just something that had always been true. As I was growing up in rural western Kentucky, we only had three TV channels and had to go outside to physically turn the antennae if the reception was bad. I distinctly remember that old movies played on Saturday afternoons, and a lot of those were westerns. When I think back on them now, I can identify why they attracted me and why I still love western-set TV shows, movies and books.

  • The landscape was so wide open with impossibly wide skies and a rugged type of beauty. This was completely different than the wooded, rolling hills where I grew up. At that point in my life, I’d barely been out of the state with brief trips a few miles down the road and across the river into Illinois and a Girl Scout trip to Opryland theme park in Nashville, Tenn., both of which looked pretty much like Kentucky. So those western landscapes, even if some of them were created on Hollywood lots, were like a different planet that I longed to visit.
  • Even though it was romanticized and still is to some extent, cowboys were iconic American heroes. They could live off the land, were honest (at least if they were wearing a white or light-colored hat), chivalrous, and a force for good. Even back then in the 1970s and ’80s, I knew that things were rarely that black and white in real life. Reality was more complicated and filled with shades of gray.
  • I love stories set in the past. I haven’t met a costume drama I didn’t love, and westerns — at least for me — fall into that category. It’s a bit like being a time-traveler and being transported to a different time and place, but you don’t have to worry about the lack of hygiene or modern medicine.
  • While I love my modern conveniences, I for some reason have always loved stories about survival and living off the land. When I think about people who set off in wagon trains west, not knowing if they’d make it or if they’d ever seen friends and family again, I’m awed by how much courage that took. Kind of like people who boarded ships in England and sailed for America. Even though modern-day cowboys and ranchers have the modern conveniences the rest of us do, they are still men of the land and work out under those wide-open skies.

While I write contemporary romance, many of which have cowboys as heroes, I still have a great love for western historicals. These were the first romances I read back in high school and continued to read in the years that followed — stories by Lorraine Heath, Kathleen Eagle, Elizabeth Grayson, among others. My first manuscript was even a historical set along the Oregon Trail, inspired partly because of that old video game called Oregon Trail. A friend even got me a shirt once that said, “You have died of dysentery,” which is a familiar phrase to anyone who played the game.

If a new movie comes out that is a western, I do my best to go see it in the theater so they’ll continue to make more. If there’s a western-themed TV series, I’m parked in front of the small screen. My all-time favorite show, Firefly, actually is a mixture of western and my other favorite genre, sci-fi. Yes, space western, and it was awesome!

In the months ahead, I look forward to blogging about various western-themed topics — my trips across the American West, my love for western-themed decor, rodeo, etc. And I look forward to interacting with the readers of Petticoats & Pistols.

Updated: January 23, 2017 — 1:26 am

Welcome Guest – Mona Hodgson!!!

Convenient Bride BannerKeeper of My Heart Wagon Train Trivia

Just about any Western movie or TV show captured my attention, pulling me into the adventure and possibilities. Shows like Wagon Train led to my fascination with wagon train travel, which inspired Prairie Song and Keeper of My Heart.

While researching wagon train history, I found some fun tidbits.

Ready for a wagon train trivia quiz?

  1.  Horses were the preferred animal for pulling a covered wagon across the prairie. True or false?

False. While some folks did have horses pull their covered wagon, more chose burros or mules for the job. Most pioneers, however, yoked four or more oxen steer to their wagons because of the superior strength and stamina that allowed the oxen to pull the 2500 pounds or more. Besides, horses are more skittish and easily spooked. Which animal would you prefer to trust to ford a stream or descend a mountain with all of your earthly possessions?The Convenient Bride Collection--Lrg

  1.  TV shows and movies correctly depicted covered wagon overlanders riding on the wagon seat.

False. That was something that seldom happened. Would you want to sit on a narrow, hardwood seat suspended between side rails with no springs? Most trail conveyances were simple farm wagons with no thought given to comfort. The wagon beds rode on steel tires mounted on wooden wheels, on solid wood axles, for fifteen or so miles on a rutted road. That’d be quite the bone rattling ride. I’d rather walk, thank you.

Most healthy travelers walked alongside the team of oxen or took shifts riding a horse.

  1. Need some butter for the biscuits you plan to cook over the supper campfire? Just hang the milk on the wagon.

True. Milk the cow first thing in the morning then, before you set out for the day, secure the crock of milk to a hook on the side of the wagon. All the jostling over rocks and through ruts will churn the butter for you.

  1.  The TV screen and paintings of the period got it right when they showed wagons circled for defense against hostile Indians.   

False. The wagon companies didn’t typically circle their wagons. When they did, it was usually to corral the livestock. Most wagon train roads led through safe territory, and hostilities were rare. But if a caravan of wagons was attacked, they didn’t have time to find an area big enough to arrange the wagons.

  1.   Wagons were covered, which made them into a 19th century recreational vehicle.Wagon with women and children

False. Ready to curl up for a night of sweet dreams in the covered wagon? We’re talking about an eleven foot long by four foot wide, ten foot tall space crammed full of barrels, casks, trunks, and miscellaneous household items. Things the pioneers would need for the journey as well as items and heirlooms packed for their new home.

Most overlanders slept outdoors, on the ground, with or without a tent overhead, or in a hammock suspended between trees or between a tree and the wagon. Exceptions to that rule included travelers who were sick and sometimes children. Excessive rain might have warranted taking shelter inside of the wagon, but it would’ve been an uncomfortable night.

Woman ShootistReading Prairie Song and Keeper of My Heart, you’ll discover that I busted many of the perpetuated myths in my telling of two 1866 wagon train stories.

Neelie “Shott”, the heroine in Keeper of My Heart, is headed for San Francisco, where she’s been promised a job in a Wild West Show. When Neelie set out on the road going West, she thought she knew where she was going. That was before she encountered The Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company and the widowed, spine-stiffening wheelwright named Ian Kamden.

Nor had she met his five children. As it turns out, Maisie, the youngest, is fond of picking black-eyed Susans and awarding the bouquets to those she loves.

I can’t wait for you to meet Neelie, Ian, and the others on their quest for a fresh beginning in Keeper of My Heart, one of nine novellas in The Convenient Bride Collection.

Thanks so much to the Petticoats & Pistols fillies for the invitation to come by and many thanks to you for joining me here. I hope you’ll stop by and chat with me. Do you have a favorite wagon train novel, nonfiction, or movie?

I’m excited to give away a copy of The Convenient Bride Collection, which includes Neelie’s story in Keeper of My Heart. I’d love to hear from everyone, but can only mail the book to a USA address.

 

Please find me online and join the conversation: Mona Hodgson chin on hands

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Mona Hodgson is the author of 40 books, historical novels and novellas for adults and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, The Quilted Heart novellas, and Prairie Song. Her children’s books include Bedtime in the Southwest, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, six Zonderkidz I Can Read books, and more.

How Wild Was the Old West—Really?

MargaretBrownley-header
I heard a TV commentator liken the violence of Baltimore back to the Old West. Is that a fair comparison? Some historians would probably disagree. Some have even gone as far as to describe the Old West as “a quiet, peaceful and law-abiding place.” Hard as that is to believe they may be on to something for the following reasons:

The Old West Practiced Gun Control

dodge-gunsYep, that’s right. In fact, the very first law passed in Dodge City was a gun control law. Many towns including Tombstone had similar strict laws barring guns. Visitors were required to turn guns over to the stable owner or sheriff. Checks or receipts were issued much like they are today when checking coats at a restaurant. Gun owners could reclaim their weapons upon leaving town.

Not everyone followed the law, of course. Drunkenness and disorderly conduct would get you a free pass to the hoosegow, but so would toting a gun. The gunfight of OK corral was actually sparked by an effort to enforce the “no gun” law.

Gun control made economical sense. Towns wishing to attract businesses and commerce or even the railroad couldn’t afford to let crime run amok.

The Law of Wagon Trainswagon
Some wagon trains reportedly contained more than a hundred wagons and as many as 800 people, so keeping law and order was of primary concern. Many of these trains had their own constitutions which spelled out a judicial system. Ostracism and threats of banishment kept most travelers in line and there are few reported instances of violence on these trains. That’s pretty amazing considering the conditions and long months on the trail.

What About All That Cattle Rustling?

cowsIf we believed all those old time Western movies there wasn’t a steer in the land that hadn’t been rustled at least once. No question; Cattle rustling was a problem. That is until ranch owners got together and formed cattlemen associations. These groups hired private protection agencies, which pretty much put cattle rustlers out of business.

Bank Robbers Ruled, Right?

Wrong again. According to the book Banking in the American West from the Gold Rush to Deregulation by bankLynne Pierson and Larry Schweikart, only eight actual bank heists occurred in the 15 states that made up the frontier west during the forty year period between 1859-1900. (Holy Toledo! My little hometown has had more bank robberies than that just in the last decade.)

Why so few bank robberies in the Old West? The answer is simple; Banks were hard to rob. Banks were located downtown often next the sheriff’s office. People slept above shops so the town was far from deserted. The bank’s walls were often doubly-reinforced. Blasting through the walls would wake everyone in town including the sheriff.

Some, like Butch Cassidy simply walked in the front door, but even that type of bank holdup was rare. Robbing stagecoaches was easier. But transporting money by stage fell out of favor when trains came along. Robbers who shifted attention to trains soon had to contend with Pinkerton detectives.

What About All Those Gunslingers?

gunDime novels, old newspapers and movies would have us believe that shooting from the hip and quick draw duels were the norm. In reality, gunfights were few and far between.

Some well-known shootists (the word gunslinger didn’t come into play until the 1920s) deserved their reputations but, by today’s standards, most would be considered lousy shots. Some, like Wyatt Earp, killed nowhere near as many men as they were given credit for. A gunslinger’s reputation, however exaggerated, was sometimes more valuable than his skills.

Peter Hill, co-author of  the Not so Wild, Wild, West wrote “If one wants to see the “Wild, Wild West” in action one should turn to congressional hearings, political demonstrations and arguments over recreational and consumptive vs. non-consumptive uses of forest lands.”  Now there’s a thought…It kind of makes you wonder what those old cowpokes would have thought about the recent riots.

So what do you think? Was the Old West a quiet, peaceful and law-abiding place or wasn’t it?

Speaking of Wild:

Maggie Michaels is sent to Arizona Territory as an undercover mail order bride to track down the notorious Whistle-Stop Bandit. If she doesn’t prove the suspect guilty before the wedding—she could end up as his wife!

undercoversmallClick cover to Preorder

Available in print, eBook or Audio

"Wagons, Ho!" by Agnes Alexander

THE FILLIES WELCOME AGNES ALEXANDER 
Agnes AlexanderThe first time I visited the states west of the Mississippi I knew I’d one day write a book set in that beautiful country.  At the time I was immersed in raising my daughter, working as a human resource manager and writing short stories and articles for the local newspaper, children’s Sunday school papers and regional magazines. I even wrote and sold three children’s books based on the work I did at my church with young people.  But the idea of writing novels stayed in the back of my mind.
Fiona's_JourneyFinally, I decided I’d waited long enough. I began writing novels. Three of those first attempts still rest in my desk drawer, but I sold my fourth manuscript – a mystery. Thirteen more mystery, romantic suspense, and mainstream books followed. Then I joined RWA and Carolina Romance Writers where I sat across the table from my idol and fellow member, Harold Lowery (aka Leigh Greenwood).  To say I was awed, is putting it mildly. He remarkedthat people should write what they like to read most. Well, I had not only read everything he’d published, I’d read some of them twice and three times.
RenaCowboy_smI came home, put my mystery writing on hold, pulled out all the pictures from my three vacations in the west. I then took a trip to my favorite used bookstore and bought stacks of western romance novels by a variety of authors. In three months I’d read 200 novels and felt I had a grip on what publishers wanted. Satisfied I knew what to do, I sat down and wrote my first western historical romance. It was a time travel western that didn’t sell at the time, but I wasn’t deterred. I looked through my notes and saw I had a lot of information on wagon trains. I also remembered ‘Western the Women,’ one of my favorite movies, and felt I had to write a novel about pioneers going west.
The large Conestoga wagons were too long and heavy to make the trip so the prairie schooner became the wagon of choice. Many of the immigrants traveling westconverted their farm wagons into ones that could make the trip. Oxen were recommended to pull these wagons because they had no trouble eating the different grasses, though some families chose mules and others horses. One of the most interesting items in my research was the list that many wagon masters put together about what a family needed in the way of food, clothing, and tools to make this journey.
camillaCOVERFood recommended for each adult: 150 pounds of flour, 20 pounds of corn meal, 50 pounds of bacon, 40 pounds of sugar, 10 pounds of coffee, 5 pounds of salt, 5 pounds of rice, 15 pounds of dried fruit and 15 pounds of dried beans. For each child: 1/2 to 2/3 of an adult portion.Many travelers added their favorite foods such as tea, potatoes, dried vegetables and other items. Some brought along a cow for milk to drink and butter, which was churned in a barrel tied to the side of the wagon as the vehicle swayed and bounced along the trail.
Clothing: Each person brought at least two changes of clothes and undergarments, multiple pairs of boots (two to three pairs often wore out on the trip because most people walked). Wool was recommended because it held up well and deflected the sun better than cotton. A sewing kit was a must because items tended to wear out or get torn.
Other necessities were rifles, hand guns, knives, tobacco, ropes, tents, tin dishes, soap, simple cooking utensils, bedding, matches, and medical supplies such as herbs, whiskey, and simple remedies.
Costs could run between $600 and $1,000 to outfit a wagon for this journey.
The book I wrote about the Oregon Trail is Fiona’s Journey, whichcame out in 2012 and was my first published western romance. I now have six western romances published and hope to write many more since I feel I’ve found my place in the writing world.
I love hearing from readers. You can contact me at my websiteor by email at agnesalexander100@gmail.com.

 

Thank you for inviting me to write a blog for Petticoats & Pistols. To show my appreciation I’m offering an autographed print copy of Fiona’s Journey, Rena’s Cowboy (the time-travel I mention above and my latest novel Camilla’s Daughters for drawings. Just leave a comment to be entered.

State Trivia ~ Gems of Missouri

State Trivia Logo 03.25.14

 

Good morning & good Monday!

I’m excited to kick-off our STATE TRIVIA WEEK here at Petticoats and Pistols! The Fillies live all over the place, and, at the suggestion of one of you, our readers, we’re going to introduce you to our states. Mine?

~ MISSOURI ~
“The Gateway to the West”

MO flag

Missouri was the 24th state in the USA, joining the union on August 10, 1821.
State Nickname – “The Show Me State”
State Motto – “Salus populi suprema lex esto ” – The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law
State Song – Missouri Waltz   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtgS3_YQ5E4
State Capital – Jefferson City
Name for Residents – Missourians
Major Rivers – Mississippi River, Missouri River, Osage River
Major Lakes – Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Clearwater Lake, Lake Wappapello
Highest Point – Taum Sauk Mountain- 1,772 feet (540 m) above sea level
Number of Counties – 114 (plus one independent city, St. Louis)

Those are some of the “stats” of the state. But here are a few of the “gems”:

St. Charles, located on the Missouri River, was the location of the first state capitol. The site is a State Park: http://mostateparks.com/park/first-missouri-state-capitol-state-historic-site.  Old St. Charles features many historic buildings from the early history of the state. Check out The Lewis & Clark Boathouse: http://www.lewisandclark.net/

President Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar (near Joplin) on May 8, 1884 (he was the 33rd US President, serving from 1945 to 1953). He retired in Independence, in the house his wife, Bess, owned.

 

Samuel Clemens In TophatSamuel Langhome Clements (right), better know as Mark Twain, was born in Florida, MO, and  grew up in Hannibal. His most well-remembered character, Huckleberry Finn’s home is Hannibal. Colonel Potter’s, too, for you MASH fans

Independence was a jumping off point for many wagon trains heading west. I had so much fun exploring the museums in this delightful town.

arch

The Gateway Arch
The nation’s tallest monument at 630 feet tall and 630 feet wide at the base, the Gateway Arch was completed in October, 1965. The vision of renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the Gateway Arch commemorates Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the United States.

St. Genevieve
French settlement on the Mississippi River, established in the early 1700s as part of the Illinois Country of the Upper Louisiana Territory. http://visitstegen.com

The second battle of the Civil War, The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, took place near what is now the city of Springfield, MO.

The Gratiot Street Prison, run by the Union, was in St. Louis during the Civil War. The site is now the Ralston Purina headquarters.

missouri_simple

The Lake of the Ozarks has more shoreline than California has coastline.

Missouri has so many Caves we’re known as “the cave state.” There’s Bridal Cave, Meramec Cavern, Fantastic Cavern, Onondaga, Cathedral… Check out all 6400 known caves– http://www.visitmo.com/missouri-travel/missouris-show-caves.aspx

I’ll stop now. But there are just so many cool things about my state!

Anyone of you readers live in Missouri? What did I miss?

Leave a comment and I’ll pick a name from the hat to win reader’s choice of the anthologies Wishing For a CowboyHearts and Spurs AND a Missouri keepsake keychain.

 

 

Early Canned Foods in America

 

When this subject came to mind for a blog, I remembered watching a John Wayne western filmed in 1948 called “3 Godfathers.” It co-starred Ward Bond. In the movie John Wayne and his compadres were outlaws on the run. They come across a wagon train that was attacked. All were killed except for a woman and her baby. When the woman dies, John Wayne and the rest vow to take care of the child and see it safely across the desert. They find a tin of Carnation milk so they make the baby bottles using that.

 

I wasn’t sure if canned milk really would’ve been available in the Old West so I checked. Sure enough it could have been.

 

In 1856, Gail Borden, an American, successfully produced sweetened condensed milk in cans for the first time and was granted a patent. With financial support, he launched the New York Condensed Milk Company in 1857. During the Civil War it was introduced on a large scale.

 

But to my surprise, canned fruits, vegetables, and some fish and meats were produced in 1812 by a small plant in New York. They were sold in hermetically sealed containers, not tins.

 

A lot of these canned goods were sold to settlers out west on the prairie.

 

The cans were very heavy though and difficult to open.  At first the only way to open them was with a hammer and chisel. The first can opener came out in 1858 and it was resembled a bayonet and was dangerous to use. I can only imagine! In 1870 a safer model was introduced however which was a godsend.

 

Through my research I learned that Del Monte didn’t produce its own brand of peaches until 1892. And Dole didn’t begin until after the turn of the century. Before that they were generic.

 

In 1869, Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson started the Anderson & Campbell Preserve Company in New Jersey. But Joseph bought Abraham out and the Campbell’s Soup Company was born.  They expanded the business to produce ketchup, mustard, and other sauces in addition to soups.  And like they say….the rest is history. I doubt you can go into a kitchen in the U.S. today and not find Campbell’s soup.

 

So that’s just a glance at a few of the things a pioneer might’ve packed in his wagon when he headed west.

 

I found this information very surprising. We couldn’t live without canned foods in this day and time. What are your thoughts? How many of you use Campbell’s soup to cook with?

Updated: June 10, 2013 — 1:02 pm

Seven Alone

Do you remember those books from your childbhood that made a lasting impression on you? I can remember walking into my elementary school library and choosing a book from the shelves because the title made me laugh – The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles – written by none other than Mary Poppins herself, Julie Andrews Edwards. That was the first book I remember reading that caused my imagination to picture a story unfolding without the use of illustrations. I was amazed that I could actually SEE the story happening in my mind.

There was another book from my childhood, however, that shaped my love for western historicals. A story that still holds me in awe today because of the courage and determination of the real family whose lives inspired the novel.

Seven Alone chronicles the tale of the Sager children who were orphaned while on the Oregon Trail. Henry and Naomi Sager joined a wagon train led by Captain William Shaw in 1844 in a quest for a better life. With them, they brought their six children: John 14, Frank 12, Catherine 9, Elizabeth 7, Matilda 5, and Louisa 3 years old. Along the trail, Naomi gave birth to child number 7 –  baby Henrietta. At first all was well with the family, but as the trip grew more arduous accidents and  sickness befell them. Catherine fell beneath a wagon and broke her leg. Then Henry fell ill. The father of the Sager family passed away and was buried on the banks of the Green River, not far from Laramie, WY. Naomi was out of her mind with grief. The women on the wagon train did all they could to help her – taking care of the baby, tending to Naomi when her grief led to illness.

They found a single man to help drive the Sager wagon, but after promising to bring back meat if allowed to use Henry’s rifle, he absconded with the weapon and was never heard from again. The doctor who had set Catherine’s leg did his best to aid the family along with Captain Shaw. Naomi struggled to hold on to life, determined to get her family to the Whitman Mission and winter there before continuing on to the Willamette. Despite her determination to hang on, Naomi Sager died near Idaho Falls.

Everyone in the wagon train pitched in to help the orphans, and by October they reached the Whitman Mission. Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, agreed to take in the Sager children. In July of the following year, Dr. Whitman petitioned for legal custody of the children. Yet, tragedy continued to follow these children. The Whitmans ministered to the Cayuse Indians, and maintained peaceful relations with them. However, as more and more settlers passed through on wagon trains, disease came with them. In 1847, an outbreak of measles decimated the Indians tribes of the area. The Cayuse held the white man responsible and attacked the Whitman Mission. The Whitman massacre claimed 14 lives at the mission including Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and the two Sager boys, John and Frank. The women and children were taken captive. Louisa Sager was one of those who died while in capitivity. One month after the massacre, Peter Ogden from the Hudson’s Bay Company, arranged for their release trading sixty-two blankets, sixty-three cotton shirts, twelve rifles, six hundred loads of ammunition, seven pounds of tobacco and twelve flints for the return of the forty-nine surviving prisoners.

Catherine, Elizabeth, and Matilda Sager meet at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Whitman massacre in November 1897.

After losing both their biological and adoptive parents, the four remaining Sager girls were split up and sent to different families. Henrietta (the baby born on the trail) died young at age 26, supposedly shot mistakenly by an outlaw. The other three girls, Catherine, Matilda, and Elizabeth all married, had children, and lived well into old age.

About ten years after her arrival in Oregon, Catherine wrote an account of the Sager family’s journey west. She hoped to earn enough money to set up an orphanage in the memory of Narcissa Whitman. She never found a publisher. Her children and grandchildren, however, saved her manuscript without modification, and today it is regarded as one of the most authentic accounts of the American westward migration.

The book Seven Alone, and the movie that followed, only chronicles the Sager children’s hardships and adventures while on the wagon train. Yet, I couldn’t resist telling the rest of the story.

So what about you? What stories (biolgraphical or purely fiction) do you remember reading as a child that made such an impact on you that you still remember them today?

Oh, and as an aside, if you haven’t read Jody Hedlund’s book The Doctor’s Lady, you might find it enjoyable. It is a fictionized account of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman’s journey west and how these two missionaries who married for convenience found love along the way.

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