Category: western romance

El Muerto: The Headless Horseman of Texas

Kathleen Rice Adams header

First published in 1820, Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” has been terrifying children for almost 200 years. Though the tale of a hapless schoolmaster’s midnight gallop through the New York woods made the phrase “headless horseman” a household term in America, by the time Irving’s story appeared headless horsemen had been staples of European folklore for centuries. German, Irish, Scandinavian, and English legends all offered versions of the ghoulish phantoms, who usually were said to appear to proud, arrogant people as a warning.

headless horsemanTexas has its own gruesome headless horseman legend. Unlike Irving’s unforgettable spook, though, Texas’s headless horseman rode among the living once upon a time.

Some say he still does.

In the summer of 1850, a Mexican bandido by the name of Vidal made an egregious error: He and several compadres rustled a sizable herd of horses from several ranches south of San Antonio. One of the ranches belonged to Texas Ranger Creed Taylor, a veteran of the Texas War for Independence and a man not inclined to forgive his enemies. (Taylor later would be one of the participants in the Sutton-Taylor Feud, a bloody, years-long running gun battle that resulted in four times as many deaths as the better-known fracas between the Hatfields and McCoys.)

Rustling cattle already had earned Vidal’s head a dead-or-alive bounty. Stealing a Texas Ranger’s horses was the proverbial last straw. Together with fellow Ranger William A.A. “Big Foot” Wallace and another local rancher, Taylor set out to put a stop to Vidal’s unbearable insolence.

The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas, 1865

Capt. Mayne Reid’s version of a Texas Legend, published in 1865, received a mention in Charles Dickens’s final novel, Our Mutual Friend.

As a group, the early Texas Rangers were hard men. Tasked with protecting an enormous patch of land rife with outlaws and Indians, the early Rangers were expert trackers, accomplished gunmen, and not opposed to meting out immediate — and often brutal — “frontier justice.” Vidal was about to discover that in a very personal way.

After tracking the bandidos to their camp, Taylor, Wallace, and the third man mounted a surprise attack while the outlaws were asleep. Killing the desperados was not enough for Taylor and Wallace, though. The entire Ranger force was fed up with the rash of rustling plaguing Texas at the time. Not even leaving bodies hanging from trees or hacking them to pieces and using the bits for predator bait had made a strong enough statement.

So, Wallace got creative. After beheading Vidal, he secured the corpse upright on the back of the wildest of the rustled horses, lashed the bandido’s hands to the saddle horn and his feet to the stirrups, and tied the stirrups beneath the animal’s belly. Just to make sure anyone who saw the ghoulish specter got the message, he looped a rawhide thong through the head’s jaws and around Vidal’s sombrero, and slung the bloody bundle from the saddle’s pommel. Then Wallace and his friends sent the terrified mustang galloping off into the night.

William A.A. "Big Foot" Wallace, ca. 1872

Big Foot Wallace, ca. 1872

Not long thereafter, vaqueros began to report seeing a headless horseman rampaging through the scrub on a dark, wild horse. As sightings spread, some claimed flames shot from the animal’s nostrils and lightning bolts from its hooves. Bullets seemed to have no effect on the grisly marauder. They dubbed the apparition el Muerto — the dead man — and attributed all sorts of evil and misfortune to the mysterious rider.

Eventually, a posse of cowboys brought down the horse at a watering hole near Ben Bolt, Texas. By then the dried-up body had been riddled with bullets and arrows, and the head had shriveled in the sun. The posse laid Vidal’s remains to rest in an unmarked grave on the La Trinidad Ranch. Only then did Wallace and Taylor take public credit for the deed. The episode contributed to Wallace’s reputation and had the intended effect on rustling.

Even the revelation of the truth behind the legend did not end el Muerto’s reign of terror. Until nearby Fort Inge was decommissioned in 1869, soldiers reported seeing a headless rider roaming the countryside around Uvalde, near Taylor’s ranch. Thirty years later, a rise in the ground 250 miles to the southeast, near San Patricio, Texas, was christened Headless Horseman Hill after a wagon train reported an encounter with el Muerto. A sighting occurred in 1917 outside San Diego, Texas, and another near Freer in 1969.

El Muerto reportedly still roams the mesquite-covered range in Duval, Jim Wells, and Live Oak counties — still fearsome, still headless, and still reminding those who see him that Texas Rangers didn’t come by their tough-hombre reputation by accident.

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Robbing Banks Stealing HeartsI haven’t written any tales about headless horsemen — yet — but ghosts play a significant role in one of my short novellas. Family Tradition is one of two stories that compose Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts.

Everyone should have career at which they excel. At failing to commit crimes, nobody is better than Laredo and Tombstone Hawkins. Maybe they can bumble their way into love.

Family Tradition
Haunted by his kin’s tradition of spectacular failure, bank robber Tombstone Hawkins is honor-bound to prove his family tree produced at least one bad apple. When carnival fortuneteller Pansy Gilchrist tries to help, she accidentally summons a pair of dishonest-to-goodness ghosts. Getting into the spirit of a crime is one thing…but how do you get the spirits out?

 

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Stone blinked at the apparitions. If not for Madame Minerva’s confirmation, he’d have sworn he was seeing things—and he hadn’t touched a drop of whiskey in weeks.

He eased backward a step.

So did she, sidling up next to him until her hipbone collided with his leg.

The two ghosts floated around the table, one on each side, and planted themselves close enough for Stone to poke a hand through either misty shape. Forcing a swallow down his throat, he squinted at the nearest. He’d been on the receiving end of that old man’s irritated glare far too often.

Heart racing fast enough to outrun a mule with a butt full of buckshot, Stone faded back another step.

The fake gypsy stayed with him, as though she were glued to his side.

The gauzy forms kept pace.

“Emile?” Madame Minerva’s voice squeaked like a schoolgirl’s.

Even on a ghost, disappointment was easy to spot. A pained frown gripped one apparition’s face. “I’m not part of the con any longer, Pansy. You can’t call me father just once?”

Stone ducked his head and tossed the woman a sidelong glance. “Pansy?”

“Said Tombstone,” she hissed.

The second ghost spoke up, his voice strangely hollow but recognizable. “Boy, you got nothin’ to say to your ol’ pop?”

“I uh… I…” Stone’s tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth.

Thank God, Emile picked up the conversation. “I see my little girl is keeping the family tradition alive.”

“I am.” Pansy’s breathy whisper carried a hint of tears. “Oh, Emile, I wish you had stayed.”

“I’ve been here all along. You just haven’t looked for me before.” Emile’s specter extended a hand to cup his daughter’s cheek. Pansy leaned into the phantom caress.

Stone snatched her before she toppled over. Too late, he discovered she weighed little more than a ghost herself. His grab yanked her off her feet and slammed her into his chest.

He exercised quite a bit more care setting her back on the dirt floor.

 

 

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Tattoos in the American West

 

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I don’t think anyone will disagree that often research takes us to some very interesting places. When I wrote my new release To Love a Texas Ranger, I needed to know just how prevalent tattoos were among the people who lived in 1877 and I found out some surprising things.

The earliest recorded tattoos were in 12,000 BC in Egypt. The workers building the pyramids wore them. Later the Romans adopted tattooing to mark criminals and slaves.

Interestingly enough, the Greeks used tattoos as a form of communication among spies. Bet you didn’t know that. And other nationalities utilized tattoos in ceremonies.

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OLIVE OATMAN

Borneo had a rather odd practice of tattooing. And maybe they still do. It was customary for a young woman to get a tattoo to advertise a particular skill and that increased her marriageability status. I just wonder what kind of tattoo indicated being a good housekeeper? A broom? A mop?

The American Indians also were big on tattooing. One of their most famous captives—Olive Oatman—was captured in 1851 and then sold to the Mojave tribe where they tattooed her chin with blue dye of some sort. There’s conflicting stories about what the tattoo meant. Some say it marked Olive as a captive and others claim it was a mark of esteem. The western TV series, Hell on Wheels, portrayed her in the show only they named her character Eva.

Love a Texas Ranger smallerIn my new book, a horrible bad guy wears a black widow spider tattoo on his hand. Sam Legend keeps his eyes peeled throughout the book for a man with that spider tattoo. The scene where he finally finds him is pretty gripping.

In Texas, some Legends are born, some are made, and some are created by destiny.

This Legend family has carved their name in blood on the raw Texas land. Sam is tested in ways he couldn’t have expected as secrets are exposed and he finds the love of a lifetime. Only the path is a rocky one. He can’t bear the thought of waking up in the same place every morning for the rest of his life so feels he can’t ask her to marry him. Sierra Hunt has never had a home and dreams of owning one where she can plunk down deep, lasting roots and she won’t give that up—not even for Sam.

I’m giving away one copy of my new book (if you already have it, I can do something else) to one person who can tell me either about their tattoo or one they saw on someone else. This is going to be fun!

Buy Links:  AMAZON  |   B&N   |   iBOOKS

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Guest Post from Anna Schmidt

anna-schmidtHaving been born and raised in the hill country of southwestern Virginia and spending most of my adult life in Wisconsin, I am not exactly ‘cowgirl’ material. But I was blessed to have a father who devoured Louis L’Amour novels and loved western films. Later in life I had friends who lived in Phoenix where I visited several times, hiking the mountain and desert trails and marveling at the diversity of landscape this great country of ours has to offer. So when my publisher came looking for someone to propose a Western historical series, of course I raised my hand!!!

LAST CHANCE COWBOYS is a four-book series about a ranching family in Arizona in the late 1800’s. A lot of people don’t realize that the era of the cowboy as depicted in movies like Lonesome Dove was brief. Once the railroads made their way across the country, cattle drives that covered long distances and kept cowboys away from home for weeks or even months at a time were a thing of the past. Another factor that played into the demise of the Hollywood portrait of a cowboy was the huge influx of settlers heading West and taking claim to land—fencing that land to mark their property and in effect ending—or at least seriously limiting—the ‘open range.’ There were other factors as well—resettlement of native peoples among them.

Attending conferences in Denver and San Antonio, I was fortunate to connect with Arizonian Melody Groves . Melody has been my reader for all the books of the series and her contributions to setting and detail cannot be underestimated. I also spent ten days last fall in Santa Fe—first on a group tour that exposed me to pueblo life and history and then for a three day self-sabbatical when I stayed at the Quaker Meetinghouse in Santa Fe—a wonderful adobe building that certainly gave me the flavor of living in those surroundings. I’m returning this fall for a refresher!

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Whether I am writing about cowboys, Amish families, World War II or modern-day characters, I see them all as people who experienced or are experiencing the same joys and travails people have gone through for as long as we’ve walked upright on this planet. So a Florida cowboy (THE DRIFTER) looking for a place to call home drifts across the southern United States until he stumbles upon a ranch in Arizona run by a woman. In THE LAWMAN, a prodigal son returns home to build a life and re-connect with his family and the love he left behind.  Neither is all that different from a former hedge fund investor, just out of prison looking to make a fresh start. (Hint: my next project after this Western series!) My characters struggle with similar regrets, hopes, fears and triumphs that drive the choices—good and bad—they make throughout the novel. They may live in different centuries and get around by different modes of travel, but they have a lot in common.

This belief that while the world around us changes daily (sometimes hourly), people are essentially the same in how they go through their lives is what drives my writing. I love walking down a cobblestone street or through a historic building and thinking about those who have walked there before—the choices they faced, the decisions they made.   The human spirit is a fascinating thing!!

 

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GIVEAWAY!!

Anna will give away an audio copy of THE DRIFTER (Book One of Last Chance Cowboys) to one individual who leaves a comment on this post.

 

 

 

E. E. Burke: A Bonfire, S’mores, and Eight Western Romance Tales

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We’re so delighted to have E.E. (Elisabeth) Burke come to visit. This lady knows more about steam engine trains and Kansas history than anyone I know. She’s written a whole series around trains and is in the middle of a bride train series about mail order brides. She’s a fantastic, award-winning writer of historical western romances. Please make her welcome.

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What’s more fun than a bonfire and s’mores? Having a sizzling story to read while you’re enjoying the fall foliage. How about eight sizzling tales from the Old West?

I’m delighted to be part of a multi-bestselling author publishing project, HEARTS ABLAZE, a collection of eight Western historical romances set during the autumn months and blazing with passion and adventure. This set is available on Oct. 18 for just 99 cents, but you can preorder it now. Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2ek7pL6!!

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When the eight of us first came together to work on this project, we quickly realized we had something very special–a collection that represented the varied and vibrant tapestry of the Old American West. From the wild Pacific forests to the lonesome prairies, on wagon trains and at frontier outposts, you’ll fall in love with lumberjacks and soldiers, trailblazers and trick riders, courageous warriors and rugged cowboys.

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For my part, I’m re-releasing an updated version of my debut novella, KATE’S OUTLAW, which is set against a historic railroad race. The race took place primarily in 1870, when two railroads were laying track through Kansas as fast as they could to be first to reach the border of Indian Territory (modern day Oklahoma). Congress had promised the winning line free land and the exclusive right to pass through Cherokee lands into cattle-rich Texas.  The owners were ambitious men willing to do just about anything to secure the prize. Spies, saboteurs and even outlaws disrupted the competition and turned the contest into a battle.

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Most of the activity took place in southeastern Kansas in an area dubbed the Cherokee Neutral Lands because it was supposed to serve as a buffer between white settlers and the Indian Territory. As early as 1850, whites began to settle there, and by 1865, shortly after the Civil War, thousands of immigrants were pouring in.

The Tsa-la-gi (Cherokee) people had suffered setback after setback. Thirty years earlier, their homelands in the Southeast had been taken from them and they’d been forcibly marched west and relocated. They’d been dragged, divided, into the Civil War, and subsequently lost more land as a result. By the time the Katy showed up on their doorstep, they were sick and tired of the white men’s lies and broken promises.

The 1866 treaty gave one railroad the right to pass through their territory, but said nothing about giving land away, so when Congress promised free grants to the railroad, the Cherokee Nation objected—strenuously. A bitter lawsuit ensued. How the poor Indian nation paid for this legal battle isn’t mentioned, but I came up with a few theories, which led to my idea for Kate’s Outlaw.

heartsablazecoverIn the meantime, the Katy Railroad struggled to keep building so it didn’t go bankrupt after exhausting most of its resources to win the race. The line eventually crossed the Red River into Texas and became, for a time, a thriving railroad.

Today, the Katy no longer exists and portions of its rail bed have been turned into scenic hiking and biking paths. The Cherokee Nation has survived and thrived, ironically adapting to modern times much better than the railroad it challenged so many years ago.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Hearts Ablaze and check out my updated version of Kate’s Outlaw, along with seven other tales from bestselling authors.

In Whispered Love, bestselling author Kathleen Ball takes you to the wild Pacific Northwest, a land bristling with handsome, well-muscled lumberjacks. Foreman Samuel Pearse has only one rule; no women allowed. Until he finds one asleep in his bathtub—Pat Clarke, the company cook. With her secret revealed and her virtue at stake, Pat turns to the only man who can help her…the one man who sets fire to her heart.

The Officer and the Bostoner, from USA Today bestselling author Rose Gordon, follows the adventures of a well-to-do lady traveling cross-country to meet her intended. Instead, she finds herself stranded at a military fort and forced into an unwanted marriage. Can a hot-blooded officer spark love in his wife’s cold heart?

Fools Rush from USA Today bestselling author Ciara Knight. A young woman, desperate for independence from all men, embarks on a crazy cross-country wagon train adventure disguised as a man. Instead of finding her independence, a bounty hunter captures her under the guise of horse thieving, a crime punishable by hanging. Will a man she’s lied to for months save her, or will he surrender her to a monster with a badge?

Ridin’ For A Fall by Kirsten Lynn immerses you in a fiery tale of forever love. When circumstances force best friends and Wild West Show performers, Lena Boden and Kyle Allaway to marry and return to Wyoming, they must stand together against internal doubts and external forces seeking their destruction—or risk a fall that will knock them out of the saddle for good.

In A Warrior’s Heart, bestselling author Amanda McIntyre brings to life the passionate story of a bold Cherokee warrior and the brave white woman he rescues from certain death. Thrown together by circumstances not of their own making, they overcome betrayal and tragedy to find a love strong enough to bring nations together.

The Rancher, by bestselling author Hildie McQueen, transports readers to 1870s Montana Territory and into a sensual encounter between an injured rancher and a woman running for her life. Sometimes love enters at the worst moment…

In The Drifter, bestselling author Elizabeth Rose takes readers on an epic journey across the plains, as drifter Chase Masters shows up wounded at Nessa Pemberton’s stagecoach relay station mistaken as the bandit who killed her husband. Can a single mother learn to love again and put her trust in a man who is nothing but a drifter?

 

hb-partyJoin the party!

On Thursday, Oct. 20, from 6-10 p.m. Eastern, we’re rounding up lovers of Western historical romance for a big party on Facebook to celebrate the release of Hearts Ablaze.

Joining as hosts:  E.E. Burke, Hildie McQueen, Amanda McIntyre, Kathleen Ball, Rose Gordon, Ciara Knight and Elizabeth Rose. We’ll be turning up the heat (on each other), and providing readers with excerpts, fun facts, Flash giveaways, and a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card!

Hope you can make it! Here’s the link to RSVP and join the partyhttp://bit.ly/HeartsAblazeParty

What are some of your favorite characters in Old West stories? Cowboys? American Indians? Soldiers? Outlaws? Tell us why.

Today we’ll be giving away a FREE boxed set to a lucky commenter.

About E.E. Burke:

Weave together passionate romance and rich historical detail, add a dash of suspense, and you have books by bestselling author E.E. Burke. E.E., also known as Elisabeth, has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in.

Find out more at E.E. website: http://www.eeburke.com

Sign up for her newsletter and start her Steam! Romance and Rails series FREE: http://bit.ly/SteamFreeBook

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TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER Book Release!

Love a Texas Ranger smallerI’m so excited! TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER is out and just waiting for you to read it! This is book #1 of my new Men of Legend series. It’s about a family – a father and his three sons – who live on a huge North Texas ranch called the Lone Star. For those who remember the western TV series Bonanza it’ll seem like going home. Instead of the Cartwrights this is the Legend family and they’re bigger-than-life.

Stoker Legend is a tough rancher who carved his name in blood on the Texas landscape. The ranch began as land given to him for fighting in the Texas War of Independence but now it’s grown to 480,000 acres and it’s a lot harder to hold onto.

His sons Sam, Houston, and Luke learned to have the same kind of steel in their backbone and they don’t back—from anything or anyone. Sam left the ranch as soon as he was able though which is a bone of contention between him and his father. Houston is most like Stoker and wants only to ranch. It’s in his blood. No one knows about Luke, not even Stoker, until this book. This illegitimate son turns their lives upside down. Luke is also an outlaw. Being a lawman, Sam feels a duty to arrest him and would if Stoker hadn’t stopped him.

So you see, conflict oozes from the pages of this story.


to-love-a-texas-ranger6In TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER, Sam is incapacitated and can’t do his job so his captain sends him home to recover. He boards a train and is immediately launched into saving Sierra Hunt, a pretty young woman who is running from outlaws. If he can just get her to the Lone Star, she’ll be safe. But two hundred miles stand between them. A mysterious gunslinger, joins them in the mad dash and at times only seconds separate them all from death.

And of course, with this being a romance, Sam falls in love with Sierra. But he won’t give up his job and the need to keep moving. Sierra has always dreamed of having a house one day where she can put down strong roots and she won’t give it up—not even for Sam Legend.

BLOG ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE IN BLANCHARD-1910Sierra is a schoolteacher so once she reaches the Lone Star, she teaches the ranch families’ children. On a ranch of this size, there are about 30-40 children. The Lone Star is so remote that Stoker Legend built a small town so the families wouldn’t have to travel so far to a town. They have a mercantile, telegraph, doctor, blacksmith, and a school.

Strangely enough, there were ranch schools back then. There was no excuse for ignorance so they taught them everything they needed to know in order to make it in the world. The schools consisted of one-room with the various grades all combined. The ranch owner paid the teacher a salary and furnished a place to live. It was a setup that greatly benefited everyone.

Pick up a copy of this book and ride along with Sam and the Legends. Stick your feet in the stirrups and hang on tight because if you fall off, Sam’s too busy chasing outlaws and saving Sierra to come back and get you.

Four lucky people will win a copy– choice of format. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

If you like a book brimming with juicy secrets, this one is for you. What are you most drawn to in western romance? I really like stories that contain a lot of juicy secrets. And boy do I mean juicy!

Book #2 – HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY comes out in May 2017 followed by the 3rd one in November.

Visit my website, read an excerpt and sign up for my newsletter at  http://lindabroday.com/

AMAZON   |   B&N   |   iBOOKS

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The Devil’s Rope Comes to Texas — and a Giveaway

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Longhorn cattle in the Texas Hill Country

Texas has seen a number of mass migrations since the Mexican government opened the territory to Anglo settlers in the 1820s, but perhaps none were as transformative as the influx that took place immediately following the Civil War. Carpetbaggers, footloose former Union soldiers, and dispossessed former Confederates all found attractive the state’s untamed rangeland brimming with feral cattle called longhorns. Many a man with nothing more than guts and grit built a fortune and a legacy by shagging longhorns from deep scrub and driving the tough, stubborn, nasty-tempered critters north to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska. Others pushed herds to Montana and Wyoming to begin new lives where the West was even wilder.

Between 1866 and 1890, cowboys drove an estimated twelve million longhorns and one million horses north. A crew of twelve to twenty men could push a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 beeves about ten to fifteen miles a day, reaching Kansas railheads in three to four months.

The development of barbed wire in the mid-1870s — along with an incursion of sheepmen and farmers — put a crimp in the cattle drives by crisscrossing Texas’s wide-open spaces with miles and miles and miles of fence. To protect themselves and their herds from the yahoos who would use Texas range for something besides Texas cattle, wealthy ranchers strung wire around the land they owned or leased, often extending their fences across public land, as well. What once had been open range across which cowboys drove enormous herds of steak on the hoof became parceled off, causing no end of frustration and unfriendly behavior.

Fence-cutting began almost as soon as the first of the wire went up. Small confrontations over “the Devil’s rope” happened frequently, with wire-nipping taking place in more than half of Texas counties.

barbed wireIn 1883, the conflict turned bloody. Instead of merely cutting fences that got in the way during trail drives, bands of armed cowboy vigilantes calling themselves names like Owls, Javelinas, and Blue Devils destroyed fences simply because the fences existed. Fence-cutting raids usually occurred at night, and often the vigilantes left messages warning the fence’s owner not to rebuild. Some went so far as to leave coffins nailed to fenceposts or on ranchers’ porches. During one sortie, vigilantes pulled down nineteen miles of fence, piled the wire on a stack of cedar posts, and lit a $6,000 bonfire.

In response, cattlemen hired armed men to guard their wire…with predictable results. Clashes became more violent, more frequent, and deadlier. In 1883 alone, at least three men were killed in Brown County, a hotspot of fence-cutting activity, during what came to be known as the Texas Fence-Cutter War.

The bloodiest period of the Fence-Cutter War lasted for only about a year, but in that period damages from fence-cutting and range fires totaled an estimated $20 million — $1 million in Brown County alone.

Although politicians stayed well away from the hot-button issue for about a decade, in early 1884 the Texas legislature declared fence-cutting a felony punishable by a prison term of one to five years. The following year, the U.S. Congress outlawed stringing fence across public land. Together, the new laws ended the worst of the clashes, although the occasional fracas broke out in the far western portion of Texas into the early part of the 20th Century.

Texas Ranger Ira Aten

Texas Ranger Ira Aten

The Texas Rangers were assigned to stop several fence-cutting outbreaks, and being the Texas Rangers, they proved remarkably effective…with one notable exception. In February 1885, Texas Ranger Ben Warren was shot and killed outside Sweetwater while trying to serve a warrant for three suspected fence-cutters. Two of the three were convicted of Warren’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1888, a brief resurgence of fence-cutting violence erupted in Navarro County, prompting famed Texas Ranger Ira Aten to place dynamite charges at intervals along one fence line. Aten’s method was a mite too extreme for the Texas Adjutant General, who ordered the dynamite removed. The mere rumor of the explosive’s presence brought fence-cutting to a rapid halt in the area, though.

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Though Civil War battles left few scars on Texas, the war’s aftermath was devastating — and not just because barbed-wire fence appeared. Texas existed under federal martial law for five long years after the war ended, becoming the final member of the Confederacy to repatriate only under duress. During Reconstruction, lingering animosity led some of the occupation forces to plunder and terrorize their jurisdictions. Bearing their own grudges and determined to become an independent republic again, Texans demanded “the invading foreign army” remove its boots from sovereign soil. A U.S. Supreme Court decision finally ran the rebellious Lone Star State back in with the rest of the herd in 1870, at last reunifying a divided nation.

A Kiss to Remember

 

My newest story, The Trouble with Honey, takes place during Reconstruction in Texas: A marshal’s widow can escape a Union Army manhunt only with the help of an outlaw condemned to hang. The novella is part of the trilogy The Dumont Way, which begins a saga chronicling the lives and loves of a Texas ranching dynasty from before the Civil War to the turn of the 20th Century.

The Dumont Way is available in the five-author boxed set A Kiss to Remember. Three other Petticoats and Pistols fillies also contributed to the collection: Cheryl Pierson, Tanya Hanson, and Tracy Garrett.

 

Excerpt:

Boots meandered across the stone floor. The marshal’s snicker slapped Daniel between the shoulder blades. “Injun Creek hasn’t seen this much excitement in a month of Sundays. We’re planning quite a celebration for you.”

One of life’s great mysteries: Had Halverson been born arrogant, or had the skill required practice? “Always did fancy a crowd of folks looking up to me.”

Whistling, the marshal moved away. Daniel stared at the dingy clapboard across the alley. That wall wouldn’t present much challenge. This wall, on the other hand… A barrel of black powder and a lucifer would come in handy right about now.

He rested his forehead against the bars. Daisy would dig up his body and throw a second hemp party if he didn’t show up for the wedding.

The jailhouse door scraped open, and a swirl of fresh air tapped him on the shoulder. Fingering the tender crease running from his eyebrow to his hairline, he pivoted. If Halverson’s lucky shot hadn’t dropped him—

His fingertips stilled. So did his breath.

The marshal ushered in a voluptuous vision and lifted a tin plate from her hands. An abundance of golden hair, gathered in soft swirls at the crown, framed her head like a halo. Curls fell beside rounded cheeks.

“What’re you doing here?” Judging by the pucker in his tone, Halverson had eaten one too many sour apples. “Where’s that old drunk you insist on keeping around?”

“Henry hasn’t touched a drop in—”

“What? Twenty-four hours?”

The angel raised her chin. “He isn’t feeling well.”

Daniel drifted to the front of the cell and slouched onto the forearms he draped over a horizontal bar. The familiar voice… Nectar, fresh from a hive.

Gracing Halverson with a shallow smile, the buxom beauty tipped her head toward the plate. “Chicken and dumplings for your prisoner’s supper.”

Steam rising from the lump meant to be his meal carried a whiff of old socks. Daniel’s thoughts churned right along with his stomach. High point of the day: bad vittles. Now, the lady… She was downright mouthwatering.

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A Kiss to Remember is available exclusively on Amazon (free for those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited). I’ll give an e-copy to one of today’s commenters who answers this question: If you had migrated to Texas after the Civil War, would you have settled in town or on a ranch or farm? Why?

Thanks for stopping by today! I’m looking forward to your comments. 🙂

 

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Guest Kari Trumbo Talks Train Wrecks

Kari Trumbo is one of those people who sneaks up on you — in a good way. She’s not loud or rowdy (like some of us who won’t be named…ahem). Dig beneath the surface, though, and you’ll find a warm heart, a passion for family and fiction, and a sincere desire to live the precept “love thy neighbor.” She’s come to visit with a “story behind the story” of her new western historical romance.

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To Love and ComfortIn my latest novel, To Love and Comfort, Margot must face a train disaster. Now, I had only read minimally about train accidents in history with my children (we homeschool). When the story started veering in that direction I had to stop and do some research.

Most of the big train accidents happened earlier than the setting of my story. That is not to say they didn’t happen in 1901, just that the majority of these incidents happened earlier in history. They happened by and large because of brake systems that could wear out and bridges that were built quickly and not maintained well. Trains weren’t new, but what had to be done to maintain a 50-year-old bridge was.

I also had to research what large river my character was likely to cross and what the terrain might be where it crossed. This proved to be incredibly difficult, as the U.S. has a lot of rivers and the terrain varies a lot even within small distances. In the end, I ended up going with the terrain the way my character described it and made the disaster over the Ohio river, as that was the river it was most likely they would have been traveling over.

In the end, I found the train disaster fascinating and terrible to research. Putting my character through that situation was daunting. I am so thankful for history and survivor testimonies to help us know that our writing about feelings and what situations would be like are as accurate as they can be.

To Love and Comfort

Margot Fleur is devastated by a secret kept by the man she’s known as her father, tearing her heart to pieces. Struggling with feelings of isolation, she desperately wants to be part of something more; to be whole.

Tyler Wilson longs to sweep Margot off of her feet. Seeing past her imperfections, he loves her for the sparkling spirit and bright dreams she once held so dear and only wants to see her smile again. Strong and determined, he sets out to win her heart but will a stubborn unwillingness to hear the call of the Lord forever keep them apart? And if he doesn’t learn, will Margot be lost forever?

Excerpt

“Where did the 72 depart from?” But he knew the answer before he asked. His face pinched with pain before the answer was even given.

“Philadelphia, sir. The wreck is about thirty miles straight west of here. Follow the tracks out of town, but be careful. They’ll be trains coming along soon to bring those passengers back. You might want to wait here if you knew someone on the train. Might miss them.”

Tyler backed out the door, his mind a mess of what he’d just heard. She had to be alive. He’d know if she were dead, wouldn’t he? That dreadful feeling meant she needed him, not that she was gone…right? He turned as Jax approached him.

“What did you learn?” He grabbed Tyler’s shoulder and shook him.

“I need a horse, a fast one.”

Jax grabbed his other shoulder. “Just where do you think you’re going?”

Tyler looked up at him and shrugged his hands off. “I have to go get her and the stage will slow me down.”

“You’re sure you know where you’re going?”

“I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life.”

 

Kari TrumboKari Trumbo is a writer of Christian Historical Romance and a stay-at-home mom to four vibrant children. When she isn’t writing, editing, or blogging, she homeschools her children and pretends to keep up with them. She is the author of the Western Vows series and co-author of the Best-Selling Cutter’s Creek series. Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing with the worship team, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota with her husband of nineteen years, two daughters, two sons, and three cats.

Places to follow Kari:

Website           Facebook        Twitter            Pinterest          Amazon          BookBub

 

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THERE’S A NEW BOOK A COMIN’

A Kiss to Remember

On July 28—that’s only three days from now—A Kiss to Remember will release. It’s an anthology of five books by authors we know and (hopefully) love to read.

Her Sanctuary

 

Her Sanctuary by Tracy Garrett

Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward-bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible

 

 

Gabriels-Law-Web

 

 

 

Gabriel’s Law by Cheryl Pierson

Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and Gabriel’s Law.

 

Outlaw Heart

 

Outlaw Heart, by Tanya Hanson

Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive: a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an Outlaw Heart.

 

 

 

 

The Dumont Way

The Dumont Way by Kathleen Rice Adams

The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains The Trouble with Honey, a new, never-before-published novella. Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things The Dumont Way.

 

 

 

 

YESTERDAYS FLAME PRP WebYesterday’s Flame by Livia J. Washburn

When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell’s duties propel her from San Francisco in 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be. “A timeless and haunting tale of love.” ~ The Literary Times

 

 

 

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this anthology with such amazing talents. So thrilled, I’m giving away one electronic (mobi) copy! All you have to do to enter is tell me why you love western historical romance in a comment (include your email address) and I’ll pick a winner tomorrow (July 26).

 

Surprises in History (and a Boxed-Set Giveaway)

Kathleen Rice Adams header

Research is one of the most important tools of the fiction author’s trade. Regardless what an author writes—historical, contemporary, fantasy, science fiction—he or she must have some knowledge of the real world in order to create a world in which characters live and breathe.

A Kiss to RememberGood authors don’t beat readers over the head with their research, but what they dig up informs every aspect of their stories. Much of what we discover doesn’t make it into our books. Instead, the information clutters up our heads and trickles out at odd times.

This is one of those times.

Each of the five authors who contributed to Prairie Rose Publications’s new release, the boxed set A Kiss to Remember, uncovered historical tidbits that surprised, charmed, or saddened her. Since all of us are good authors and would never dream of beating readers over the head with our research in our books, we’re taking the opportunity to beat readers over the head with our research in a blog post. We can be sneaky that way.

Without further ado…

 

Her SanctuaryHer Sanctuary by Tracy Garrett

Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward-bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible.

Tracy: I’m a “cradle Lutheran,” meaning I was born into a Lutheran family, baptized in the Lutheran church… You get the idea. Imagine my surprise when I began researching the history of the church in Missouri and found they’d been in the state a lot longer than I thought. It was fun, though.

 

Gabriels LawGabriel’s Law by Cheryl Pierson

Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and Gabriel’s Law.

Cheryl: Orphanages of the 1800s and early 1900s were mainly what I needed to research. And what sad research it was! The Indian orphanages and “schools” were the worst. The Indian children were forced to “assimilate”: cut their hair, wear white man’s clothing, and speak only English. Punishment was swift and sure if they were caught speaking their native tongues. In essence, they were taught they had to forget everything they knew—even their families—and adopt the ways of the whites completely. This only ensured they would never be wholly at ease in either world, white or Indian.

 

Outlaw HeartOutlaw Heart, by Tanya Hanson

Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive: a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an Outlaw Heart.

Tanya: The research that fascinated me the most was meeting and getting to know Dr. John Henry Holliday. What a guy. I’ve quite fallen in love with him. This handsome, soft-spoken, peaches-n-cream Southern gentleman can bring me to tears. He died slowly from tuberculosis for fifteen years after losing his beloved mother to the disease when he was 15. Talented pianist, multilingual, skilled surgeon who won awards for denture design… Most of his “deadly dentist” stuff was contrived. He needed a bad reputation to keep himself safe from angry gamblers. I was thrilled and honored both when he asked to be a character in Outlaw Heart.

 

The Dumont WayThe Dumont Way by Kathleen Rice Adams

The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains The Trouble with Honey, a new, never-before-published novella. Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things The Dumont Way.

Kathleen: Did you realize George Armstrong Custer was part of the Union occupation force in Texas after the Civil War? Neither did I. While I was double-checking my facts about Reconstruction-era Texas, I ran across that little tidbit. Texans may not have liked him any better than any other Yankee, but they were grateful for his kindness. During his five months in Texas, Custer was disliked by his own men because he strictly enforced Army regulations about “foraging” (read “stealing”) and poor treatment of civilians. I must admit I’m one of those who tended to view Custer as one of history’s real-life bad guys, but that one tidbit softened my impression. Funny how little things can make a big difference, isn’t it?

 

YESTERDAYS FLAMEYesterday’s Flame by Livia J. Washburn

When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell’s duties propel her from San Francisco in 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be. “A timeless and haunting tale of love.” ~ The Literary Times

Livia: I really enjoyed learning about the firefighting companies in San Francisco. The massive earthquake in 1906 was followed by an equally devastating fire, and there were a lot of heroes among those early firefighters.

 

Have you ever been surprised, charmed, alarmed, or vexed by something you’ve read—in either fiction or non-fiction? What was it? We’d love to hear! One brave soul who shares her or his discovery in the comments will win a digital copy of the brand-new boxed set A Kiss to Remember before it’s available to the public! The five books comprise more than 1,000 pages of heart-melting western historical romance…and that’s a fact.

 

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