Tag: Linda Broday

Research Nugget: St. Elmo’s Fire

Some authors hate research and find it tedious, but I love it. I’m always surprised by something I find and it’s a little gift to me when I run across tidbits that deepen my story. They don’t have to be earth-shattering either. Small details can add another layer of realism.

In THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY it was St. Elmo’s Fire. I’d heard about it for a long time but never knew exactly what it was. This is a weather phenomenon that occurs during thunderstorms. It’s a plasma discharge similar to lightning and forms a blue or purple glow that attaches and hangs onto the tip of sharp objects. Even blades of grass have been known to attract this strange glow. Often, but not always, a hissing sound can be heard.

The occurrence was recorded as far back as the 14th century when an eerie glow formed on the tall masts of ships. It’s the patron saint of sailors and to see the phenomenon is viewed as a good omen.

Cattleman Charles Goodnight wrote about the experience during one of his cattle drives and how the glow formed on the tips of the long horns and jumped from animal to animal. It never hurt the cows one bit.

The Heart of a Texas Cowboy that came out on May 2nd takes place during a cattle drive up the Great Western Trail. Houston Legend is trying to save the Lone Star Ranch by selling off two thousand of his herd. But first he has to get them to Dodge City. The woman he marries in order to give her child a name, Lara Boone, volunteers to come along as cook. Two days out, he sees riders trailing them. He doesn’t know what they want but he’s determined to protect his wife and child, his drovers, and his herd. It soon turns into an all-out fight with love blossoming along the way in this marriage of convenience story.

One night, during a huge thunderstorm, Houston sees St. Elmo’s Fire jumping from tip to tip of the cows’ long horns. He doesn’t know exactly what to call it and is amazed that it doesn’t affect the animals.

Here’s a short excerpt of that scene:

Lightning flashed around Houston as he moved amongst the herd around midnight. An eerie glow danced along the six to nine foot horns of the frightened animals leaping from one to another. It was strange how it never hurt the cows. Or didn’t seem to anyway.

In the midst of the summer rain, he scanned the herd, looking for signs of a possible stampede. So far, they were just restless. The biggest threat for a stampede was at the beginning of trail drive. After a few weeks, the jumpy cattle settled into the routine and became acclimated to the noises. Thank goodness for that or this storm would send them into a panic.

His thoughts tried to return to Lara and he kept reeling them back in. Lives depended on him focusing on this right now. Everything else would have to wait. He rode around the fringes speaking soothing words, keeping the animals in a tight bunch.

Harmonica music drifted in the air as Joe rode alongside him. The song, Beautiful Dreamer, had a calming effect on the herd. One by one they laid down, lulled by the music. Houston breathed a sigh of relief that the danger had passed. He watched the steady drip of water off his hat brim onto his oilskin slicker, wishing he was in a Dodge hotel. After a hot bath with his lady, Lara would curl up next to him with nothing between them but skin.

With what had happened tonight, he had high hopes that they would in the near future. He still felt her hand brushing his chest and sneaking up under his jacket. She seemed to like touching him and he certainly didn’t mind a bit. Whatever she fancied to do was fine with him.

But teach her how to love?

Not a chance. What did he know? He was raised with little softness. Stoker was a hard man and he’d instilled that sharp-edged toughness into his sons that had squeezed out affection and sentiment. Still, he’d try. He wanted more than anything for Lara to know a true husband’s love.

* * *

The book released on May 2. This is #2 Men of Legend series and will be followed by #3 (To Marry a Texas Outlaw) in November this year.

Come along and take this journey with me. Meet the Legend family—the tough father and his three sons—and help them tame the West.

As far as I know I’ve never seen St. Elmo’s Fire but maybe you have. If not, tell me about the scariest thunderstorm you’ve ever witnessed. Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of two copies (print or ebook) of this.

Linda Broday: Cattle Drive and Trouble

Are you ready? THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY (#2 Men of Legend) is galloping into bookstores and online on May 2nd! I’m so excited. Houston Legend has tons of adventure, romance, and suspense waiting. This book has more twists and turns than a roller coaster.

After his father, Stoker Legend, gambles away half of the Lone Star Ranch, he tells Houston they can get it back—if he marries the new owner’s daughter. Houston reluctantly agrees but makes one thing perfectly clear—love is out of the question.

Yet, all Lara wants is a name for her baby. And kindness.

He’s never met or seen Lara so he has no idea what to expect, but marry her he does. Two weeks later, he leaves on a cattle drive, taking two thousand head of longhorns up to Dodge City. At the last minute, his cook quits so Lara steps in and goes along. Of course, the baby who’s just started crawling has to come too.

Trouble starts two days out when Houston sees riders trailing them. Soon, he discovers that Lara is unsafe and it turns into an all-out fight. Houston will do whatever it takes to protect his wife.

As they struggle to stay ahead of Yuma Blackstone, love blossoms between them and passion flares under the looming threat.

But, the baby, Gracie, crawls into a dangerous situation and they have to find a doctor…somewhere in Indian Territory.

That took some research and I had to contact Dr. David Ciambrone for help. A very nice man by the way and also a mystery/suspense writer.

I also had to see if anything was available to relieve Lara’s severe discomfort while Gracie is unable to nurse.

Lo and behold! There were breast pumps in 1878. In fact, I discovered that these mechanical devices dated back to Ancient Greece. I couldn’t believe it. In the U.S. they operated like a hand pump. Problem solved.

Here’s a short excerpt following their short marriage ceremony:

Her vivid green eyes held misery. “It’s just that I don’t know what you expect of me.”

Her statement caught him by surprise. What did he expect? Certainly not a wife, given they were utter strangers. But not a cook and housekeeper either. That wasn’t right. No wife of his would ever fill the role of a maid to be at his beck and call.

Hell! He yearned for a stiff drink.

 “A friend.” His answer surprised him probably more than it did her. “I expect you to be a partner. We both have gaping wounds that have to heal and things in our past to forget. I need someone who’ll stand with me in good times and bad.”

 A smile transformed Lara’s face. She was a beautiful woman. He felt the urge to let his fingertips brush her delicate cheekbones and drift along the curve of her jaw.

 “I can use a friend,” she said. “I’ll try not to ever make you sorry for your decision.”

“You won’t.” The words came out gruff and he didn’t know how he could say them with such confidence. Yet, somehow deep in his being a calm surety settled like disturbed silt back to the bottom of a riverbed.

He felt a tug to his trouser leg and glanced down. Gracie had crawled to him and gripped the fabric in her tiny fist. He picked her up. They would face lots of ups and downs but they’d survive. For no other reason than the little girl giving him a toothless, slobbery grin.

The babe needed a father. Lara a husband.

And Houston desperately needed some reason to keep living.

* * * *

I’m giving away three copies of the book before release day. Just tell me if you have a favorite marriage of convenience story, either book or movie. Mine is Sarah, Plain and Tall. Maybe it’s yours too.

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Oh, and I almost forgot…TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER (#1 Men of Legend) is on sale for .99 until next Saturday, April 22, 2017!  Just click on the cover.

Valentine’s Day – The Day of Love

Today is the day of love and all over the U.S. (probably the world) couples will celebrate. My husband never really liked celebrating too many things but he loved Valentine’s Day. He’d always buy me a box of candy and a card. Never gave me flowers because he had asthma. I think he chose candy because he loved it and always ate at least half of what he gave me.

There was no doubt in my mind that he loved me though. I still have one of the cards that he made by hand (including his own words) and it remains one of my most treasured possessions.

A whopping six million men (and yes women) will propose on this day. And why not? It’s the day of romance and the mating of hearts.

I’ve written a marriage proposal (and/or wedding) into every one of my books. I just love validating the way my characters feel about each other and that’s the perfect way. Love means commitment and spending the rest of your life together. I’ve written two Valentine’s stories. One was “Cupid’s Arrow” in Be My Texas Valentine anthology with Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace. We had great fun writing those stories. By the way, that’s still available online.

The other Valentine’s story was in the Hearts and Spurs anthology published by Prairie Rose. Cheryl Pierson posted about this anthology yesterday. My story’s title is THE WIDOW’S HEART.

Skye O’Rourke thinks her imagination is playing tricks on her when a man emerges from the shimmering desert heat. No one would willingly take a stroll under the scorching sun with a saddle slung on his back. She’s shocked to discover it’s Cade Coltrain, a man she once gave her heart to only to have him give it back.

Can she trust him not to abandon her this time? Yet, trusting each other is the only way they can survive. And love might just save them if they believe….

Hearts and Spurs is FREE this week. Here’s the link to download it.  http://a.co/bBfM69A

And here’s a short excerpt:

Cade Coltrain was a dangerous man. He’d always been someone to reckon with, but adding in the hardness that swept the length of him now he could put the fear of God in a man with only a look.

In her heart, she knew the truth. He’d become an outlaw.

But, it didn’t matter. Nothing did.

A sudden need to be held in those arms washed over her. She rested her head on the thick window pane and let the tears fall.

The loud ticking clock reminded her she had dishes to do. Raising her head, she brushed away her tears. Glancing out the window once more, she found Cade standing beside Matthew’s grave with his head bowed.

What would he say to the brother who’d married the woman Cade had cast aside when adventure called?

She prayed he’d move on soon, before she gave in to the desire that created such a powerful ache in her body.

Just to be held again, feel warm breath on her cheek; lay her palm on the hard muscles that rippled beneath the skin. Those desires were something she couldn’t put a price on. But they were the things she’d buy, if only she could.

Skye wanted to be a woman again. Someone cherished.

* * * *

Download the book and you’ll find lots of wonderful stories by Cheryl Pierson, Tracy Garrett, Phyliss Miranda, Tanya Hanson, Livia Washburn, Kathleen Rice Adams, Sarah McNeal, and Jacquie Rogers.

What do you hope to get from your honey for Valentines? Candy? Roses? Or something else?

Lottie Deno, Lady Gambler

Do you know who Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke was created from? If you said the lady gambler, Lottie Deno, you’d be correct. Born Carlotta Thompkins on April 21, 1844 on a Kentucky plantation, she created quite a stir everywhere she went.

Her parents were very well-to-do and Lottie didn’t want for anything. At her birth, she was assigned a nanny from among the slaves—Mary Poindexter. She was a giant of a woman—7 ft. tall—and she accompanied Lottie everywhere she went. Nobody messed with big Mary.

Lottie’s father taught her to play cards and she became an expert. When he was killed in the Civil War, Lottie played cards to support her mother and younger sister. For a while, Lottie worked on the riverboats and gambling houses along the Mississippi. She was a vivacious redhead with sparkling brown eyes and could charm the pants off any man—and his wallet too. I love this woman!

In 1865 Lottie arrived in San Antonio and a year later was offered a job dealing cards at the University Club. She fell in love several times but stayed single until later meeting a half-Cherokee gambler named Frank Thurmond. He left town very suddenly after killing a man and soon after, Lottie followed.

Lottie rode into the rough town of Fort Griffin, Texas on a stagecoach. She sat out in the open right on the very top where she could see everything. She caused quite a stir. It didn’t take long to get a job at the Bee Hive Saloon. One night she and Doc Holliday played cards all night long and by morning she’d won thousands of dollars of Doc’s money. She also played with legendary Wyatt Earp and many other notables of the old West.

It was in Fort Griffin where Lottie got the Deno part of her name. One of the gamblers who’d lost to her hollered out, “Honey, the way you play your name should be Lotta Dinero.”

Once when a gunfight broke out inside the Bee Hive Saloon all the people fled except Lottie. She got under a table and waited. When they asked her why she stayed, she said she wasn’t about to leave her money and besides, they couldn’t shoot straight.

She separated herself from the violent population of Ft. Griffin by taking a shanty in what they called The Flats on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. She only left it only to visit the local mercantile and to go to work. But Lottie lost her heart to Frank Thurmond and followed him to Silver City, New Mexico where they married and opened two saloons, a restaurant and a hotel.

Lottie got involved in charity work, feeding newly released prisoners and giving them a place to stay.

She and Frank eventually moved on to Deming, New Mexico where they got out of the gambling business and settled down to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Frank became vice president of the Deming National Bank and helped found the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

In 1908, after forty years of marriage, Frank passed away. Lottie outlived him by 26 years until she, too, died and was buried next to Frank. Those who knew her said she maintained her laugh and good cheer to the end. I’d like to have met her. I’ll bet she was a lot of fun.

She and Frank became models for characters in a series of books by Alfred Henry Lewis. Miss Kitty owed everything about her characterization to Lottie Deno.

I think I would’ve been friends with her. She was bold and daring in a time when women were told what to do and how. I like her rebellious spirit, maybe because I’m a little rebellious also.

If you could sit down and talk to one of the larger-than-life characters from the old west, who would it be? I’m giving away a copy of TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER (#1 Men of Legend series.) 

I’m so excited! I have a new release on February 7th–TEXAS REDEMPTION. This is a reissue of REDEMPTION (2005.)  It’s set in the swamps of East Texas four years following the Civil War. Brodie Yates and Laurel James are searching for redemption for things done in their pasts. Secrets abound–all threatening to come out. It’s a tale of two brothers who love the same woman. I’ll tell lots more about this in my next blog on release day, Feb. 7th. It’s available for preorder everywhere online.

Naughty or Nice?

Linda pubpixChristmas is full of ringing bells, a soft warm throw, and hot drinks. But it also means gift-buying and hiding things and calls for a lot of plain old sneakiness.

Bad as I hate to admit it, I have a confession to make. I’m a snoopy person. There, my secret is out. Everyone in my family knows it. I’m not exactly proud of it, but I can’t seem to stop. I just have an insatiable curiosity. Especially when it comes to brightly wrapped gifts with my name on them. There’s nothing like that to put my well-honed skills to the test.

wrapped-giftIt all started when I was big enough to read and recognize my name. The minute those wrapped gifts came out, I’d wait until everyone was busy and not looking then I’d sneak the gift into a safe place where I wouldn’t be disturbed. (I tried to wait until everyone was out of the house but often my curiosity wouldn’t let me. I tell you, it was bad.) The best place in the house was the bathroom where no one would question a locked door. I became very skilled at removing the tape without tearing or messing up the paper. I’d quickly see what was inside and put everything back exactly like I’d found it. I never got caught back then. If I had, I would’ve gotten my sneaky little behind tanned. No, I was very careful. And I became so accomplished at the art that my little sister would beg me to do the same with hers.

And then I figured out that it was easier to peek at them BEFORE they got wrapped. Duh! I’d climb onto a chair so I could reach the top of my mom’s closet. That was generally her hiding place for the Santa stuff and presents she hadn’t had time to wrap yet. Another good spot was in her dresser drawers. No place was safe from my inquiring fingers. I was such bad, bad girl. To my knowledge, no one found out.

Although….one Christmas my mama looked at me really odd. I think she knew and the thought I disappointed her even now puts a big lump in my throat.

It never occurred to me to that it was more fun to wait for the surprise. I just never had that much patience. But what’s bad is that I’m still that way. I’m hopeless. Years ago, when everyone was still at home, my husband and kids got wise to me and either put my gifts under lock and key or they waited until the very last possible minute to buy them. Used to frustrate me to no end.

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I think being snoopy has had its advantages though. It’s come in mighty handy in writing my stories. That early training has helped me dig for those illusive facts and little hidden details that add depth to my stories. My snoopiness has worked in chipping away the ore in the mine for those sparkling golden nuggets. It’s also been helpful in finding ways to craft satisfying story endings. Searching for, digging, and unearthing the gifts that have my name on them.

Oh, and I reckon this is a good time to confess that I always have to read the last page of a book before I buy it. For some odd reason, I must know that everything is going to end well before I invest time in reading a story. Drat these ebooks! They won’t let me!

I don’t know if it’s true about confession being good for the soul or not, but I feel better. But I imagine this pretty well seals my fate at a time when Santa’s making his list and checking it twice. I’m reasonably sure I’ll find Linda Broday on the naughty side of the ledger.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

How about you? The confessional’s open. Do you have something you need to get off your chest? But are you brave enough?

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The Mighty Red River

Linda pubpixMen have fought rivers all the way back to Biblical days but none more so than the Red River that creates a natural boundary line between Texas and Oklahoma. It’s very long at 1,360 miles and can get very wide in places and is the southernmost major river system in the Great Plains.

Seasoned cattlemen and drovers of those trail drives feared and cursed the crossing as well as those living in towns along its length. It was a roaring, growling beast. The currents were unpredictable and fast moving and, especially when it flooded, you took your life in your own hands crossing it. Many people (and cattle) died in the attempt. The river demanded respect (and got it) and earned the name The Mighty Red. Quicksand also added to the danger.

It begins not far from where I now live in the Texas Panhandle and winds its way to the Mississippi River. It’s notorious for severe flooding even today, despite that the river usually doesn’t contain but a trickle of water. In an effort to control the flood damage, levees and dams were built along the length.

I always feel very sad whenever I drive across it now and see little or no water. I feel we’ve lost part of our history.

red-river-movieThis waterway has been the subject of many books and movies. Howard Hawks directed and produced the blockbuster Red River in 1948, starring John Wayne. It was filmed in Arizona and the San Pedro stood in for the Red River.

Tidbit: John Wayne gave the producers extensive advice about the possible location and logistical problems associated with making Westerns and insisted Howard Hawks hire real cowhands and trained stunt professionals instead of the amateurs he had lined up. The director ended up signing 70 real cowboys for the job. He also contracted to have dozens of horses represent the hundreds required by the story and about a thousand head of cattle at $10 per day each stand in for Dunson’s herd of 10,000. Wayne said once it was clear Hawks was taking his advice seriously and the budget would be increased, he agreed to do the picture.

Another tidbit: Most of the cattle were actually Herefords because they couldn’t find but about two dozen longhorns. They strategically placed the longhorns during the filming to make it appear the herd was comprised solely of these. And the 10,000 strong herd was actually only about a third of that. Camera angles and other tricks were used.

Joanne Dru was the author of the book Red River that they adapted this movie from.

Often a river, town or other place becomes a character. That’s the case with the Red River. I wrote a scene in Heart of a Texas Cowboy (Book 2 of Men of Legend) of Houston Legend driving 2,000 longhorns across it.

Do you know other rivers that cause big problems, maybe where you live? Comment to enter the drawing for one copy (print or ebook) of To Love a Texas Ranger.

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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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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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Lottie Deno, Lady Gambler

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Did you know who Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke was created from? If you said the lady gambler, Lottie Deno, you’d be correct. She was one of the most interesting women on the American frontier. She was born Carlotta Thompkins on April 21, 1844 on a Kentucky plantation.

Her parents were very well-to-do and Lottie didn’t want for anything. At her birth, she was assigned a nanny from among the slaves—Mary Poindexter. She was a giant of a woman—7 ft. tall—and she accompanied Lottie everywhere she went. Nobody messed with big Mary.

lottie_denoLottie’s father taught her to play cards and she became an expert. When he was killed in the Civil War, Lottie played cards to support her mother and younger sister. For a while, Lottie worked on the riverboats and gambling houses along the Mississippi. She was a vivacious redhead with sparkling brown eyes and could charm the pants off any man—and his wallet too. LOL Which she did every chance she got.

In 1865 Lottie arrived in San Antonio and a year later was offered a job dealing cards at the University Club. She fell in love there with a half-Cherokee gambler named Frank Thurmond. He left town suddenly after killing a man and Lottie soon followed. I don’t know about you, but he sure wasn’t anything to look at. She could’ve done far better.

She was a bold woman and rode into the rough, lawless town of Fort Griffin, Texas on the top of a stagecoach like a fairy princess. She sat out in the open right on the very top like a fairy princess where she could see everything. With her flame-colored hair shining in the sun and a wide smile flashing, she caused quite a stir. It didn’t take long to get a job at the Bee Hive Saloon. One night she and Doc Holliday played cards all night long and by morning she’d won thirty thousand dollars of Doc’s money. She also played with legendary Wyatt Earp and many other notables of the old West.

frankthurmondIt was in Fort Griffin where Lottie got the Deno part of her name. One of the gamblers who’d lost to her hollered out, “Honey, the way you play your name should be Lotta Dinero.”

During a gunfight when all the others fled the saloon, she got under a table and stayed. When they asked why, she said she wasn’t about to leave her money and besides they weren’t shooting very straight.

She separated herself from the violent population of Ft. Griffin by taking a shanty in what they called The Flats on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. She only left it only to visit the local mercantile and to go to work. But Lottie lost her heart to Frank Thurmond and followed him to Silver City, New Mexico where they married and opened two saloons, a restaurant and a hotel.

lottie-denoLottie got involved in charity work, feeding newly released prisoners and giving them a place to stay.

She and Frank eventually moved on to Deming, New Mexico where they got out of the gambling business and settled down to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Frank became vice president of the Deming National Bank and helped found the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

In 1908, after forty years of marriage, Frank passed away. Lottie outlived him by 26 years until she, too, died and was buried next to Frank. Those who knew her said she maintained her laugh and good cheer to the end. I’d love to have met her. She was a colorful character.

She and Frank became models for characters in a series of books by Alfred Henry Lewis. Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke fame owed everything about her characterization to Lottie Deno. 

Okay, how many of you watched Gunsmoke? Do you think Matt and Miss Kitty should’ve gotten hitched? If you can remember that far back, did you have a favorite episode? I liked the one where Miss Kitty got kidnapped and Matt searched everywhere for her.

Just What WAS in Those Saddlebags?

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I’ve always been curious about the contents cowboys carried in their saddlebags. In the movies, it often seemed that they held everything except a kitchen stove. Strange how those men pulled out exactly what they needed. But what did they actually tote along?

 

  • Jerky and hardtack when unable to build a fire
  • Matches
  • One or two Tin Plates, forks and knives
  • Extra Ammunition
  • A Curry Comb and Brush
  • Picket Pin to stake your horse at night
  • A Horseshoe and nails
  • A Change of Clothes
  • Other Small Personal Items—maybe a book or something to write on
  • Maybe a small amount of grain or oats for your horse

 

A gunnysack tied to the pommel and hanging off the side would hold things like a small coffeepot and coffee, a small skillet, a jar of lard, or more of the contents listed above.

campfire

They either hung a canteen of water off the side or stuck it in the saddlebags if they had room.

Although, they were careful not to load the horse down too much or they couldn’t travel far without stopping to rest. For long distances, the cowboy usually had a packhorse along to carry all this and more. That was ideal.

In my upcoming story, TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER, Sam Legend steals a group of outlaw’s horses. When he, Sierra Hunt and Luke Weston go through their saddlebags, they find dry clothes which they sorely needed, coffee and a coffeepot. Plus, stolen loot in the amount of $650.

Later after Sam and Sierra cross the raging Brazos River, the matches, coffee and coffeepot in their saddlebags get them warm.

old west saddlebags

The contents of those traveling suitcases often saved not only the cowboy but his horse.

TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER comes out October 4 and is available for preorder online on bookstore sites. You can find an excerpt on my website. Click HERE and it’ll take you.

What do you think about life on the trail and living out of saddlebags? Could you have fit in everything you needed?

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