Tag: Jeannie Watt

Wedding at the Graff by Jeannie Watt

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a great Wednesday! I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a little about my latest release. I usually write contemporary western romance. It’s kind of my thing. However, my most recent book is a sweet contemporary set in Marietta, Montana, and since this is my very first (official) sweet romance, I wanted to share it with you.

Originally the story, which is the last book of Tule Publishing’s Holidays at the Graff series, was supposed to take place on and around St. Patrick’s Day, which happens to be one of my favorite holidays. Previous books took place at Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s (waving at fellow filly Marin!) and Valentine’s Day. Since my book was the end of the series, a wedding was in order, so we decided to make my book Wedding at the Graff. (I still worked in St. Patrick’s Day. Yay!) The only problem was that my characters weren’t yet dating. Yikes! The only solution was to make them friends who’d always secretly been aware of the the other. But what’s going to keep them apart? A ‘stolen’ heirloom ring which the heroine has in her possession and which the hero needs to return to his boss, her former fiance.

Enter the Flanigan Stone.

Here’s the prologue:

Garrett Hawley dropped the glossy color photo on the Macassar ebony desk and leaned back in his chair. “Colleen won’t give it up. She’s convinced my great-grandfather stole the ring from her great-grandfather, even though she has no proof.”

Michael Donovan pulled the photo closer. He’d only seen the antique emerald and diamond ring a half-dozen times on Colleen Flanigan’s finger. Once she’d become engaged to Garrett, he’d removed himself from her life. It was the only way he could handle the situation. Tamp down the gut-wrenching sense of loss and move on.

“You know, the only reason I gave her that ring is because of Granddad. He suggested it.”

Michael raised his gaze. He had not been aware. The late Hugh Hawley Sr. had been both generous and business-savvy. He was the reason Michael had his education, and the reason he had a job at Hawley Enterprises. He was also the reason Michael was tied to the company for three more years.

“Yeah. When Dad found out, he came uncorked, but it was too late. Kind of hard to tell your new fiancée you want to trade out engagement rings—especially that ring.”

No doubt. The Flanigan Stone, as Colleen had called the emerald, was a Flanigan heirloom that the Hawleys had gotten possession of, either by purchasing or stealing, depending on who told the story. Colleen and Garrett’s marriage was supposed to put an end to the family feud…but things hadn’t worked out that way. If anything, their failed relationship had thrown gas on the fire.

Garrett’s jawline hardened. “Dad wants to have the emerald reset to give it to Serena as an engagement present.”

“Seems kind of a shame,” Michael said. He meant that in many senses. It was too bad that the pristine stone would be pried from its antique platinum-and-white-gold setting. Too bad that high-maintenance Barlow would be wearing it. But Serena had Hugh Hawley Jr. wrapped around her finger, and what Serena wanted, Serena would get. Which meant that Garrett would do what he could to retrieve the stone, which was why Michael was there for the late-night drink in the offices of Hawley Enterprises.

My life is going to be a nightmare until I get the ring back.”

“No way that Serena would be happy with another more expensive ring?”

Garrett leveled a speaking look at Michael.

“I’ll take that for a no.”

“What you have there is a $50,000 stone. Untreated. Colombian. Do you know how many untreated natural emeralds of that size there are in this world?”

“Not off the top of my head.”

“Point one percent.” Garrett sounded as if he’d just had the statistic hammered into him, which he probably had, since he and his father had been closeted in Hugh Jr.’s office during the latter part of the day. Michael had assumed it had something to do with procuring new financing for their latest condo project, but apparently not.

Garrett smiled the wry half-smile Michael rarely saw anymore, looking for one fleeting moment like his old fraternity friend—a guy he’d respected and liked. The smile evaporated.

“Serena is all about having what other people don’t.” Garrett snorted. “Kind of like Dad.”

And kind of like Garrett, himself. The reason Garrett had swept Colleen off her feet was because she was jaw-droppingly beautiful and Garrett collected beautiful things. Showed them off. But in addition to being beautiful, Colleen was intelligent and hardworking, witty and fun.

The perfect woman in Michael’s mind. Or she had been. Times had changed. She’d changed. But the fact that she’d changed didn’t keep Michael from feeling a stab of alarm when Garrett said, “I’m going to have to unleash .” The head of legal for Hawley Enterprises. “I’ll have to pay for his hours myself.” Garrett reached for the crystal decanter and held it up. Michael shook his head and then Garrett poured another two fingers of Oban into his glass. “No way Dad is going to let the company pay for what he calls ‘my mistake.’”

Garrett grimaced as if mentally calculating the lawyer’s fee. Not that he couldn’t afford it. Michael understood his boss didn’t like to make mistakes, and if he did, he hated his father rubbing his face in them.

“Am I here so that you can unburden yourself?” Michael asked. He doubted that was the case given the way his relationship with Garrett had evolved.

“I want you to talk to her.”

“Excuse me?” Michael now wished he had scotch in his glass.

“She’ll probably listen to you more than she’ll listen to me.” Another of those rare half-smiles. “Our relationship is acrimonious.” Garrett put his forearms on his desk and leaned forward. “If you agree to go to Nowhere, Montana, and convince Colleen to give the ring back—convince her I’m serious about a charge of grand larceny—I will make it worth your while.”

Go to Montana and meet with Colleen? The thought shook him.

“How?”

“Let’s just say a big chunk of the down payment you just dropped on that condo will reappear in your bank account.”

Michael’s eyebrows lifted, even though he made it a point not to show emotion during business dealings. “That could get into some serious money.” More than the ring was worth, but quite possibly less than the lawyer would charge.

“Totally worth it to get my dad off my back, see Serena happy and…you know.” He gave a small shrug before leaning back and finishing his second scotch, which Michael read to mean that he wouldn’t mind seeing Colleen squirm. She’d hurt his pride and given Hugh Hawley Jr. the ability to say ‘I told you so’ to his son.

“I’ll need a more exact number than ‘a big chunk,’” Michael said. But even as the words left his mouth, he knew that the amount they agreed upon wouldn’t matter. He’d fly to Montana because he was concerned about Colleen doing battle with the Hawleys. She could be stubborn and headstrong, and the emerald was an emotional thing for her. Colleen Flanigan was not above cutting off her nose to spite her face, as his gran would say.

He didn’t want to see her get herself into trouble, because despite his efforts to the contrary, he still wasn’t over her.

So that’s how the story begins. I also made a Pinterest Board showing the inspirations for the story. I hope you’ll check it out!

Cheers!

Jeannie

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Jeannie’s January

Hi Everyone,

Well, 2018 started off for me in an interesting way. My husband and went to the dump and hit a stretch where the road had drifted. Someone had made it through, so we figured we could, too. We figured wrong, because we were driving the garbage hauling truck which doesn’t have very good tread on the tires. You know how it is when the back end of the rig gets sucked toward the ditch. It just keep moving that way. My husband and I are old hands at getting unstuck–snow, bogs, mud–we’ve done it all at least once. But this time we didn’t have a shovel, because again, we were in the garbage hauling truck. So I used what was on hand–a kitty litter bucket. I’ve got to tell you, it worked better than a shovel. I have it riding in the back seat of the garbage-hauling truck now just in case.

So that was the start of 2018. Since then I’ve turned in a book–my very first Heartwarming, Her Montana Cowboy, which comes out in August. I’m very excited to be writing for Heartwarming and this is a sweet continuation of my Montana Bull Riders series that I wrote for Harlequin Western. My voice has shifted a little and I like the new fun tone. I’m also in the process of finishing up Wedding at the Graff, which is another sweet romance. It releases March 1. I adore this cover.

We brought in the cows to weigh the calves and do some vet work. As you can see, after the big snow drift-kitty litter bucket adventure, we haven’t got much snow. The cows are back out in the field on winter pasture. The plus side of very little snow is that each day they’re on pasture, they’re not eating hay, which saves a lot of money. Plus my husband just had back surgery and isn’t in tractor shape yet, so this is working out well.

And lastly, my daughter got engaged. She’s getting married in November and we’re going dress shopping next month.

That’s my January wrap up. I’ll be writing some research posts in the future, and some excerpts from my books, but this seemed like a good time to just catch up. I hope everyone reading this is well. I’ll close with a photo of a beautiful Montana in January sunset.

Cheers!

Jeannie

 

Christmas on the Frontier

In 1849, California pioneer Catherine Haun wrote, “Although very tired of tent life many of us spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in our canvas houses. I do not remember ever having had happier holiday times. For Christmas we had grizzly bear steak for which we paid $2.50, one cabbage for $1.00 and oh horrors, some more dried apples! And for a Christmas present the Sacramento River rose very high and flooded the whole town!”

Now that’s a holiday to remember!

Celebrating Christmas wasn’t easy for those making their way in new territories, but upholding traditions was an important way of making these places feel like home. Often resources were limited and decorations consisted of whatever was handy—evergreen trimmings, berries, pictures clipped from magazines, popcorn garlands—and presents were often handmade, or ordered from catalogs, if mail service of that kind was available.

In Boise, Idaho, the community shared a tree in the 1860s and residents were invited to “communicate through it with their friends,” according to the Idaho Statesman. People could exchange gifts and there was a Christmas Eve party at the tree.

But what about those people who were truly in the wilderness on Christmas Day? Well, some of them couldn’t take time off from the important business of staying alive as this journal quote from fur trapper David Thompson attests:  “Christmas and News Years day came and passed. We could not honor them, the occupations of every day demanded our attentions; and time passed on, employed in hunting for a livelihood.”

Fort Clatsop

Lewis and Clark and spent several Christmases on the trail during their famous expedition. Christmas of 1804 was spent in Fort Mandan, North Dakota where the men were issued flour, dried apples and pepper to help celebrate the holiday. Clark wrote of this Christmas: “I was awakened before Day by a discharge of 3 platoons from the Party and the french, the men merrily Disposed, I give them all a little Taffia and permited 3 Cannon fired, at raising Our flag, Some men went out to hunt & the Others to Danceing and Continued untill 9 oClock P, M, when the frolick ended.”

In 1806, the expedition was stranded at Fort Clatsop on the Pacific Coast. This was more of a gift giving occasion, according to Clark: “Our Diner to day Consisted of pore Elk boiled, Spoilt fish & Some roots, a bad Christmass diner. I recved a presnt of Capt L. of a fleece hosrie Shirt Draws and Socks—, a pr. mockersons of Whitehouse a Small Indian basket of Gutherich, two Dozen white weazils tails of the Indian woman, & Some black root of the Indians before their departure.”

That “Indian Woman” was Sacagawea.

If you’re interested in learning more about Christmas in the Old West, check out Christmas in the Old West: A Historical Scrapbook, by Sam Travers. The information in this blog was adapted from that book.

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Very Merry Christmas! I’ve loved spending 2017 with you, and look forward to 2018!

Jeannie

The Bull Rider’s Plan

I have a new release this month–my last Harlequin Western Romance, which makes me a little sad. I love writing these light romances and I particularly loved writing this one. It involves a twin. The responsible twin. I thought I’d have more fun writing the wild child twin–Tyler in A Bull Rider to Depend On–but Jess turned out to be just as much fun. The trick was to give him a spunky little heroine. A little sister type who’d tried to tag along back in the day, and who once again wants to tag along to his rodeos to escape a tense situation at home. Emma turns Jess’s well-ordered life upside down, and creates some mayhem in her own at the same time.

Jess agrees to let Emma come along as a driver, but he fully expects to regret that decision. Here’s an excerpt:

Emma swerved the truck to miss a pothole, then glanced over to see if she’d disturbed Jess. He was out, dark eyelashes fanned over the tanned skin above his cheekbones. Her heart bumped a little. He really was good-looking. Maybe it was because she hadn’t been around him in well over a year that he seemed different. Or maybe she was looking at him differently. Whatever. She could kind of see what her friends saw—now that he was asleep and not telling her what she couldn’t do.

The road straightened out in front of her and traffic was light, so she chanced another glance, curious about why he seemed different. Maybe it was the fact that he’d matured and the angles of his face had become more chiseled, the hollows under his cheekbones more pronounced.

She eased her way around the only car in front of them for miles and then glanced back at Jess. His mouth, which she had to admit was a very fine mouth, was slightly open—and, a split second later, so were his eyes.

Em gave a start as her gaze slammed into his electric one.

“The road.” The words were clipped. Not very friendly.

She jerked her attention to the pavement—where’d it’d been one short second before she’d given in to temptation and went for that third look.

“I was just checking on you,” she said in a huffy voice.

“To see if I was breathing?”

“To see why you looked different.”

He frowned at her. “Different how?”

She kept both hands on the wheel, squeezing it more tightly than she needed to. “I don’t know. That was why I was looking.”

He sat up straighter.

“You can sleep, you know. It wasn’t as if I was staring dreamily at you rather than minding the road. You just happened to catch me midglance.”

“Ah.”

“And they were fast glances.” She demonstrated, exaggerating the speed of her head turns. “Like that.”

“Stop.”

She smiled a little and relaxed now that they were safely back in their roles, although she couldn’t say why the word safe had popped into her brain. “I think it’s because you’ve lost weight.”

She sensed that he’d gone still and risked his wrath by glancing over at him yet again. He wore a perplexed expression. “I don’t recall ever being particularly heavy.”

“In your face. You’ve lost the baby fat.”

He muttered something that sounded like a plea to a higher power, then slumped back into his seat. “I don’t know if I can sleep if you’re looking at me.”

“I won’t look. Promise.”

He let out a breath. Em fought with herself then glanced over. His eyes were still open.

“That was a trap,” she said as she focused on the road.

“That was a test.”

“I guess you’re going to have to get used to me staring at you when you sleep if you’re going to take advantage of having another driver along.”

He let out a long breath and closed his eyes once again—Em knew because she looked. “Just…keep it between the lines, okay?”

“I will,” she said in a resigned voice. “And maybe, for once, you can have some faith in me.”

Have a great day, everyone!

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Getting Ready for Winter + Free Book!

Hi everyone. I hope you’re having a great Wednesday! We’re having a beautiful fall here in Montana. Fall is my favorite season, and in northern Nevada, where I used to live, we didn’t get super long falls. It seemed to be hot, and then it was cold. Now there’s snow in the mountains and it looks like we’re getting closer to real winter.

Lots of Sand Hill Cranes.

The grain field next to my house has been cut and because of that, the Sand Hill Cranes, which come here to nest, are gathering in the stubble and feasting on grain and probably mice.

If you’ve never seen a Sand Hill Crane, they are fairly large birds, and they gather in this field by the thousands before their fall migration. I love watching them from my window.

We put the cattle on the winter pasture, along with my two old horses–brothers who are 23 and 24 years old. The pasture is connect to the “crane field” and the cattle come in everyday to drink and soak up the sun before heading back out to the pasture to graze. 

Note all the cranes in the background. 🙂

The winter wood came today before daybreak. Essentially its a load of logs. The guy unloads them and them my husband and stepdad will “buzz” them or cut them into rounds. We hope this stack will last at least two winters. The cats love, love, love the logs because they have lots of little places to hide and to hunt.

And lastly, as the holidays approach, I’m pleased to announce that my book The Christmas Secret is free for a limited amount of time. I hope you’ll check it out!

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Wrangling the Rancher by Jeannie Watt

Hi everyone and Happy Wednesday! I’m thrilled to have a new release this month. My latest Harlequin Superromance has one of my favorite tropes–city girl, country guy. (Although I admit to also loving city guy, country girl.)  In the story, I have a down to earth guy who has worked for the family guest ranch long enough to be sick and tired of wealthy, privileged people. He finally makes an escape and leases a farm, only to have the granddaughter of the guy he leased from move in…and she just happens to be a privileged city girl–the bane of his existence.

Here’s an excerpt:

Cole was drinking coffee when he heard the sound of an engine. He glanced at the clock and frowned. Five thirty seemed too early for a social call…maybe the granddaughter had once again called law enforcement?

He set down his cup and went to the door. The car that pulled up was low slung and sexy. A thin coat of dust covered the silver finish, but it was obviously a car that had been well cared for. The woman climbing out of the driver’s side wasn’t that tall, but she was fit and sexy, with long blond hair pulled into a low ponytail. She perfectly matched the vehicle. She shaded her eyes when she caught sight of him standing on the porch watching her, then squared her shoulders and marched toward him.

The granddaughter. This should prove interesting.

Cole leaned against the newel post and waited. A guy didn’t spend eight years working on a guest ranch without learning to both read people and deal with them effectively. His read on this woman—simmering anger. Frustration. In need of a scapegoat for…something. No question as to whom that scapegoat might be.

“Hi,” he said when she hit the end of the broken-up walkway. “Want some coffee?”

Her brisk steps slowed. “You don’t know who I am.”

“I’m guessing that you’re Karl’s granddaughter.” He jerked his head toward the house. “I just made a fresh pot.” He ran his gaze over her. “You look like you could use a cup.”

Her bemused expression changed to something approaching a smirk. “Thanks.”

With a casual shrug, he opened the door. The woman hesitated, then preceded him into the house.

“It hasn’t changed much,” she said.

“Why would I change it?”

She shot him a look. “I guess that depends on why you’re here.”

He went into the kitchen and pulled a second mug down from the cupboard near the sink. “I’m here to farm. Why are you here?”

“I’m here to check on the welfare of my grandfather.”

“Then,” he asked in a reasonable voice before handing her the steaming cup, “why aren’t you in Dillon, where your grandfather is?”

Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly. A woman used to playing her hand carefully. “That is where I’m going.”

“Just thought you’d stop by? Introduce yourself?” He set down his own coffee and held out a hand. “Cole Bryan.”

She returned his handshake. “Taylor Evans.”

“Nice to meet you, Taylor. And thanks for calling the deputies on me.”

“I didn’t have a lot of choice. My aunt wouldn’t answer her phone, you answered my grandfather’s phone and I was concerned.”

“Yet not concerned enough to keep closer tabs on your grandfather over the past several months.”

Her expression iced over. “There were circumstances at play there.” He lifted his eyebrows politely. “Private circumstances,” she said in a tone indicating that if he had any manners at all, he would stop the questions now.

He took a sip of coffee. If she thought cool superiority was going to make him remember his place, she had another think coming. Having worked with a master of the freeze strategy—his step-aunt and former boss, Miranda Bryan—she was going to have to do better than this.

“Are you satisfied now that all is well?”

He could tell the word no teetered on the edge of her lips, but she caught it before it fell. “I guess I don’t understand why you’re here in the house. My grandfather said he doesn’t think he’ll be in Dillon for all that long.”

“Maybe your grandfather is lonely and would like a roommate.”

“My grandfather is not the roommate kind.”

“You sound certain.”

“I know him.”

“Yet you didn’t know he moved.”

Irritation flashed across her features. “Would you stop bringing that up?”

“Sorry.” He set down his cup and gripped the counter on each side of his hips. “Maybe if you told me why you’re here, I can help you out, and then you can continue on to Dillon.”

She smiled tightly. “Yes. What a great idea. I wanted to meet you.”

“Make sure I was on the up-and-up?”

“My grandfather always leased his land to the neighbor to farm. I understand the neighbor is still farming.”

“Are you suggesting that I might have persuaded him to lease to me instead?”

She gave a small shrug. “The thought crossed my mind.”

“I did.”

Her eyes widened, and it took her a few seconds to say, “How long have you known my grandfather?”

“He used to cowboy with my grandfather a long time ago.”

“Karl never was a cowboy.”

Cole said nothing. He wasn’t going to argue the point.

Her eyebrows drew together. “Not that I knew of anyway.”

A slight step back, which gave her a couple of points in his book. “I didn’t use any kind of coercion. I just…talked to him.”

“And ended up living in his house. Using his stuff.”

“I’m a smooth talker.” And since her suspicions—her attitude, really—was starting to tick him off, he saw no reason to mention that Karl had been concerned about the place being broken into during his absence. Having Cole living there solved a problem for both of them, but too much explaining was only going to give her more to latch onto. He glanced past Taylor to the teapot-shaped clock on the wall. “I also have to get to work.”

“You have a job?”

“Yes,” he said in his patient guest-ranch-manager voice. “I’m a farmer.”

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. If you want to know more, please follow one of the following links:

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My Favorite Will Rogers-isms

Hello everyone! I’m having a really busy week–books due (as in plural) and family coming to visit. I’m excited to get the books done and even more excited to see my family!

Today I’m going to give you ten of my favorite Will Rogers quotes. Will Rogers was such an interesting guy–he was an actor, a vaudevillian, a humorist, a circus performer (his first job). He had a gift for making astute observations and presenting them in a way that did not offend. Quotes from Will invariably make me slow down, think, and smile.

So without further ado, here are my Will-isms:

1) Don’t squat with your spurs on.

2) Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

3) Never miss a good chance to shut up.

4) What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.

5) Always drink upstream from the herd.

6) Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.

7) Things ain’t what they used to be and never were.

8) If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering someone else’s dog dog around.

9) The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter-he’s got to just know.

10) There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

Which quote speaks to you? Mine is the last. Every time I read it, I laugh.

Have a great Wednesday!

10 Favorite TV Westerns

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Many of us fell in love with westerns from watching them on television. I know I did. So when Jeannie and I teamed up for this Birthday Bash post, it was easy to collect our favorite TV westerns. We tried to find series that covered a wide range of decades, and since it was difficult to rank them by preference (they’re ALL fabulous!), we decided to list them by premiere date. I hope this takes you down memory lane and maybe even inspires some binge watching.

And speaking of binge watching . . . read to the bottom to see the giveaway Jeannie and I are sponsoring. Super fun!

10 Favorite TV Westerns

1. Maverick (1957-1962)

2. Wagon Train (1957-1965)

3. Rawhide (1959-1965)

4. Bonanza (1959-1973)

5. The Big Valley (1965-1969)

6. The Young Riders (1989-1992)

7. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-1998)

8. The Magnificent Seven (1998-2000)

9. Longmire (2012-2017)

10. The Pinkertons (2014-?)

 

Giveaway!!!

In honor of these wonderful westerns, Jeannie and I are giving away the first seasons of Rawhide and The Magnificent Seven on DVD as Birthday Bash party favors. WooHoo!!! Hunky cowboys coming your way.

Leave a comment about your favorite TV Western for a chance to win. We will draw two lucky winners, one for each DVD set.

May the commenting commence!

 

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giant birthday bash giveaway (separate from this daily giveaway). You can find all the details along with the entry form HERE.

Sally Scull – One Scary Woman

 

 

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday!  I have a bit of a guilty confession–I am fascinated by lady outlaws. Life was tough in the old west, and people did what they had to in order to survive. And some took things a step farther.

I don’t know what motivated Sally Scull , but over her lifetime she developed the reputation of being a female desperado. There are claims that she killed 30 men, including at least one of her husbands. She was also known as a horse and cattle thief, however, she was never arrested and never spent time in jail for her crimes.

Sally was born Sarah Jane Newman in Illinois in 1817. Her family moved to Texas in 1823 to become one of Stephen F. Austin’s original group of colonists. Sally’s mother, Rachel, was also a tough women. When a Native American intruder tried to come down the chimney, she lit her feather pillows on fire and smoked him out. When another intruder stuck his feet under the front door, she chopped off his toes.

Sally married Jesse Robinson, a  veteran of the first Texas Ranger Company when she was 16 years old. Jesse was twice her age and worked as a volunteer soldier and militia man. The marriage was a rocky one, and after 10 years, Jesse filed for divorce. Sally did not get custody of her children, a son and a daughter, however, she had a reputation as a fierce and loving mother.

Two weeks after her divorce, Sally married a gunsmith named George Scull. He died in 1849, allegedly by Sally’s hand. Although Sally married three more times before her death, she kept the name Scull, which was often spelled Skull–perhaps for effect. Legend has it that her name was used to frighten children of the day–“Behave or Sally Skull will get you.”

Her third husband, John Doyle, also allegedly met a violent end. According to the memoirs of  John ‘Rip’ Ford, “He heard the report of a pistol, raised his eyes, saw a man falling to the ground and a woman not far from him in the act of lowering a six-shooter. She was a noted character named Sally Scull. She was famed as a rough fighter, and prudent men did not willingly provoke her into a row. It was understood that she was justifiable in what she did on this occasion, having acted in self defense.” The man who fell was supposedly her husband.  Her fourth husband, Isaiah Wadkins either left the marriage peacefully…or was drowned by Sally in a barrel of whiskey. Tales differ.

Sally always wore a black bonnet, sometimes dressed as a man, and rode astride her horse instead of sidesaddle, as was appropriate for women of the day.  She was proficient with a bull whip, wore pistols at her waist, and was a deadly shot with both pistols and a rifle.  One visitor to Texas described her as “…Superbly mounted, wearing a black dress and sunbonnet, sitting as erect as a cavalry officer, with a six shooter hanging at her belt, complexion once fair but now swarthy from exposure to the sun and weather, with steel-blue eyes that seemed to penetrate the innermost recesses of the soul…”  there are reports of people witnessing her kill men in self-defense as she conducted her business of buying (or stealing) and selling horses and cattle. She carried her gold on a sack looped to her saddle horn, but no one was fool enough to try to steal it from her. Sally had a tough reputation.

When Union blockades kept the South from exporting cotton, or receiving needed supplies, Sally served the Confederacy by transporting cotton through Texas to Mexico, and then bringing contraband supplies back via this Cotton Road.

 

After the Civil War, Sally simply disappeared. There is no record of her death, and no grave.  One story is that she and her last husband, Christoph Horsdorff, a man 18 years her junior who was said to be without redeeming qualities, went for a ride. Christoph came back alone.  Another bit of lore says that she moved to West Texas and spent the remainder of her life living quietly. No one knows for certain.

 

Learning to Love the Camas Root

I grew up in the Palouse area of Idaho, close to the Camas Prairie, and when I was in the third grade, while we were studying the Nez Perce Indians, I ate a cookie made with camas root flour. I can taste it to this day–and not in a good way.  It might have been the cook, it might have been the camas root flour. I don’t know, but that cookie did not agree with me. Interestingly, Lewis and Clark had a similar experience.

Before I tell you about Lewis and Clark, let me give you some background on the camas root. The camas is a blue flowering plant. It’s really quite beautiful and although there are several Camas Prairies, my Camas Prairie is an area in north central Idaho where the Nez Perce gathered camas roots for thousands of years.

The camas root is really a bulb, and it’s higher in protein that some fish. The native peoples would dig the root with sticks or parts of antlers in the early summer months. The time varied depending on the altitude. After the harvest, the camas roots were cooked in earthen ovens. The roots that were not eaten were dried for later consumption. Dried camas root lasted for years. There are stories of travelers eating camas roots that were more than thirty years old.

It was very important to only harvest the blue camas bulbs, because the white camas bulbs, which are also nutritious, closely resembled another species of camas known as White Death. The White Death could be lethal if enough was consumed, so white camas plants were generally avoided.

 So what happened to Lewis and Clark?

When the explorers reached the Weippe Prairie in Idaho in September of 1805, they were essentially starving. The Nez Perce fed the men camas roots, which were described as “sweet and good to the taste”. They were also very high in fiber and very hard on the starving men’s digestive systems.  The men fell ill with vomiting, diarrhea and gas. Captain Clark wrote, “Capt Lewis Scercely able to ride on a jentle horse which was furnishd by the Chief. Several men So unwell that they were Compelled to lie on the Side of the road for Some time others obliged to be put on horses.” The sickness lasted over five days, during which time the less weak men took care of the sicker men while making five canoes to travel the Clearwater River. Those guys were tough.

Later it was discovered that fermented camas made a decent beer and the men felt friendlier toward the root. Eventually, their bodies adapted. The men came to like the camas root and took a large supply with them when then traveled down the Clearwater in October 1805.

In researching the camas, I’ve learned that the roasted bulbs taste similar to pumpkin and sweet potato, both of which I hated as a kid, and that, I believe, was the source of my issues with the root. I would try a camas flour cookie again, given the chance. And hopefully, like Lewis and Clark, I would come to appreciate this historically valuable food source.

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