Tag: Oklahoma

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH STAND WATIE AND A GIVEAWAY–BY CHERYL PIERSON

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I am fascinated by Cherokee leader Stand Watie. I’ve used him as a character in many of my stories. I think the reason I can’t seem to get enough of him is because of his remarkable life and accomplishments. Here’s a little bit about Stand Watie and what he did–and then I’ll tell you about my stories he appears in.

 

 

 

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Only two Native Americans on either side of the States’ War rose to the rank of brigadier general.  Standhope Watie (Uwatie), fighting for the Confederacy, was one of those two.  Yet, what makes this accomplishment so incredible is the fact that while he was fighting for the Confederate States of America, he was also fighting other Cherokee tribal leaders who held opposing political views and very different visions for the Cherokee nation.

Stand Watie commanded the Confederate Indian Cavalry of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi.  While the cavalry unit was comprised mainly of Cherokee, some Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole tribal members also served.

Born in Oothcaloga in the Cherokee Nation, State of Georgia, Uwatie (or Oowatie) was also known as Isaac.  He was educated in a Moravian mission school.  In his early adulthood, he occasionally wrote articles for the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.  The State of Georgia confiscated Cherokee lands in 1832 when gold was discovered, including the thriving plantation owned by Stand’s father and mother.  Stand and his brothers, part of the powerful Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the WA040Cherokee council, stood in favor of the Cherokee Removal. Their signing of the Treaty of New Echota facilitated the removal of the Cherokee people to Indian Territory—what is now Oklahoma.

Another faction of Cherokees following John Ross refused to ratify the treaty signing.  This segment was known as The Anti-Removal National Party.  Members of this group targeted Stand Watie and his brother, Elias Boudinot, along with their uncle, Major Ridge, and cousin, John Ridge for assassination.  Stand was the only one who survived the assassination attempt.  Although Watie’s family had left Georgia before the forcible removal of all Cherokees in 1838, another brother, Thomas, was murdered by Ross’s men in 1845.

In October, 1861, Watie was commissioned as colonel in the First Mounted Cherokee Rifles. Besides fighting Federal troops in the States’ War, his men also fought opposing factions of Cherokee, as well as Seminole and Creek (Muscogee) warriors who supported the Union.

In 1862, Stand Watie was elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, through dissension continued among John Ross’s supporters.

On June 15, 1864, Watie’s troops captured the Federal steamboat J. R. Williams on the Arkansas River off the banks of stand_watie_memorial_editedPleasant Bluff near Tamaha, Indian Territory.  The next morning, Colonel John Ritchie’s men, who were stationed at the mouth of the Illinois River near where the two rivers met, engaged Watie’s men as they attempted to confiscate the cargo.  The river was rising, and they fought to a standoff.  When Watie learned of the advance of Union troops from Fort Smith, Arkansas, (within about 40 miles), he burned the ship and much of the remaining cargo, then sank it.

Watie surrendered a year later in June of 1865, the last Confederate general to lay down his arms.

In my debut novel, Fire Eyes, I weave this bit of history into my plot.  The villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang have come upon the site where the J.R. Williams was sunk four years earlier.  Fallon speculates there could have been gold aboard, and sets his men to dive for it.  As mercurial as his temper is, none of them dare question his order.  Here’s what happens:

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FROM FIRE EYES:

“Damn! I know where we are.” Dobie Perrin said.

Andrew Fallon turned in the saddle, glaring at Perrin, the afternoon sun dappling them through the leaves of the thick canopy of trees. “So do I, you idiot! So do we all, now.”

The secluded cemetery sat on a bluff, overlooking the Arkansas River. They had been wandering for two days, ever since retracing their steps to the first small creek they’d come to. The one Fallon felt sure would give them their bearings. Now, at last, he recognized where they were. He’d figured it out ten miles back.

“Tamaha,” Denver Rutledge muttered. “I was raised up over yonder.” He inclined his head toward the riverbank. “Over in Vian.”

“Then why didn’t you know where we were?” Fallon’s anger surged. “I am surrounded by idiots!”

“I shore ’nuff shoulda known, General,” Rutledge said apologetically. “Right yonder’s where we sunk the J.R. Williams. Rebs, I mean. Stand Watie’s bunch.”

Fallon jerked his head toward the other man. “Right where, soldier?”

Rutledge kneed his horse, coming abreast of Fallon. “Why, right yonder, General. It was in June of ’64. She was a Union ship, the Williams was.”

“What was she carrying?”

Rutledge shrugged. “Don’t rightly know. Supplies, maybe.”

“Payroll? Gold?” Fallon fingered his curling moustache. “Could be anything, eh, Rutledge? But the Yankees were known to cache their gold profits in casks. Maybe that’s what the J.R. Williams was carrying. Casks that weren’t really supplies, but were filled with gold.”

“Could be, I ‘spect.” Rutledge’s voice was hesitant.

Fallon nodded toward the river. “I think maybe we’ll try to find out.”

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00JTAFTPS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476583998&sr=1-1&keywords=Fire+Eyes&tag=pettpist-20

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prp-meant-to-be-1-webThe next story Chief Watie was included in was my time-travel western novella, MEANT TO BE.  Here’s a little bit about this Civil War story:

Robin Mallory is facing another Christmas all alone when she decides to surprise her aunt and uncle several hours away. A flat tire leaves her stranded near a desolate section of interstate. With a snowstorm on the way, Robin has no choice but to walk, hoping to find shelter before the storm hits full force. But the road she chooses leads her back in time, to a battleground she’s only read about in history books.

Confederate Jake Devlin, an officer in Stand Watie’s Cherokee forces, is shocked when the spy he captures turns out to be a girl. She’s dressed oddly, but her speech and the ideas she has are even stranger than her clothing. Where did she come from, and what is he going to do with her? Will he be able to hold on to his heart? Is it possible for a love this strong to span centuries? It is, if it was MEANT TO BE…

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Meant-Be-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00M28NKI2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476584160&sr=1-1&keywords=MEANT+TO+BE+by+Cheryl+Pierson&tag=pettpist-20

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My most recent story that Stand Watie appears in is my first venture into “alternate history” in the alternate history anthology, TALES FROM THE OTHERVERSE released through Rough Edges Press. If you aren’t familiar with alternate history, it’s fascinating to read and to write–because you can change history to suit the story you want to tell. My novella is called MRS. LINCOLN’S DINNER PARTY–a very different story about how the Civil War ended, thanks to Varina Davis, Mary Lincoln, and of all people, Stand Watie. Hmmm…let’s just see what’s going on at this odd dinner party of Mrs. Lincoln’s, shall we?

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“If you’ll excuse me, sir,” Mary said, “I must return to the receiving line. You’ve had a long journey—if you’d like a moment to freshen up, Mr. Pennington can show you to your quarters—” She nodded at the guard standing behind the general.

“Yes, please. I’d like to know where I need to place my bag,” the general said.

Mary glared at Mr. Pennington, who squirmed uncomfortably.

“Thought maybe there was a mistake, Mrs. Lincoln—”

Mr. Pennington. There is no mistake. And I will not tolerate rudeness. Please, show General Watie to his quarters—and you carry his bag.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Pennington answered. “This way, sir.”

General Watie gave Mary a rare smile. “Thank you. I will see you at dinner, Mrs. Lincoln.”

Mary felt Abe’s eyes boring into her as she moved across the floor, back into her place in line.

“I’m…surprised at you, Mary.”

Mary felt the hot flush creep up her neck, into her cheeks.

“I’m wondering, what other—guests—you may have invited without my knowledge.”

Oh, how she did wish he’d keep his voice down! She didn’t want the children to see the discord between them—especially here in public, where it was so easy for others to read between the lines, pick up on any issues that were best kept private. As Robert had said earlier, they could all find themselves on the front page of the papers along with unflattering descriptions and comments if they weren’t careful.

She didn’t answer Abe’s prodding, becoming suddenly resentful of being placed in such a predicament. She wouldn’t have had to resort to this if Abe and the others who had started this war had been more reasonable.

And though, in her heart, she believed fathers loved their children dearly…she couldn’t yet reconcile how fathers could call for sons to go to war. War! Where the children mothers had fought so hard to keep safe and whole all their childhood years could—in one moment—be maimed, or left to die a horrific death at the hands of their enemy…The enemy—people who had, just two scant years earlier, been their neighbors, their friends—even their own families!

She couldn’t sit by any longer and do nothing. Robert would be heading off to West Point in the fall…then Eddie and Willie would follow.

She was not going to lose her precious boys to this confounded idiocy.

“My God,” Abe swore, his tone calling her back to the present. “Is that—”

“Varina Davis. Yes. It is.” Mary turned to look up at her husband. “It looks as if Jefferson declined the invitation. Would you care to accompany me to greet her, or—”

“Yes, I’ll come,” he all but growled. “Mary, we have some talking to do.”

But Mary was already on her way across the floor to greet Varina Davis, Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s wife.

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Otherverse-James-Reasoner-ebook/dp/B018CQF05I/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476584467&sr=1-1&keywords=Tales+From+the+Otherverse+by+Cheryl+Pierson&tag=pettpist-20

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I want to thank everyone for joining me today! Please leave a comment and you will be entered in my drawing for a copy (DIGITAL OR PRINT–YOUR CHOICE!) of FIRE EYES and I’m also giving away a copy of MEANT TO BE!

SCHOOL DAYS–THEN AND NOW by CHERYL PIERSON

toCheryl2041webI have always loved going to school. Even now, when I walk into WalMart or Target and the school supplies are displayed (in JULY!) I have to stop and look at them. My husband laughs at me, but I just keep on picking up post-it notes and pencils, thinking “I will need these at some point…”

Growing up in the 60’s, our school supply lists were not long at all in elementary school. A “Big Chief” tablet, one of those HUGE pencils, paste in a jar (with a brush built into the lid!), a box of crayons, and a pair of “school scissors” and a wooden ruler. That was it. By the time my kids started school in the 90’s—all that had changed. After shopping for school supplies for only two children, I wondered how families with several kids could afford for them to even go to school—and that wasn’t counting back-to-school clothing.

ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE IN BLANCHARD, OK, 1910

BLOG ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE IN BLANCHARD-1910

My mom spoke of her school days just shortly after Indian Territory became the state of Oklahoma. That happened in 1907. She was born in 1922, and started school when she was only 5. She attended a one-room school house in Albany, a very small southeastern Oklahoma town. With the Depression on the way, and the Dust Bowl days looming, she spoke of the poverty of everyone she knew. She was the eldest of eleven children. Food was scarce. School supplies were almost nonexistent. I imagine that was why she took such pleasure in buying Big Chief tablets and crayons for me.

SEQUOYAH ORPHANS TRAINING SCHOOL, 1920 (near Tahlequah, OK, Cherokee Capital)

BLOG-SEQUOYAH ORPHANS TRAINING SCHOOL (Tahlequah) 1920

Education is so important. Thinking back, I’ve included it in many of the stories I’ve written, and I always love to see it included in the stories I read, as well.

 

 

 

 

Young boys pose during recess. This picture was taken at Newcastle, Oklahoma, in 1914.

BLOG-Boys at school in Newcastle-1914

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is interesting. It’s the exam that students had to pass in order to graduate from 8th grade. This one came from Salina, Kansas, and is dated 1895. Students could take the exam in 7th grade and if they didn’t pass, could have another chance in 8th grade to re-take it. I don’t think I could pass this even now! Take a look!

EXAMINATION GRADUATION QUESTIONS OF SALINE COUNTY, KANSAS April 13, 1895 J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.

Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)

Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts

Grammar (Time, one hour)

  1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
  2. 2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
  3. 3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
  4. 4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
  5. 5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
  6. 6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
  7. 7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

  1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
  2. 2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
  3. 3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
  4. 4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
  5. 5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
  6. 6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
  7. 7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
  8. 8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
  9. 9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
  10. 10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

  1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
  2. 2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
  3. 3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
  4. 4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
  5. 5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
  6. 6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
  7. 7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
  8. 8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)

  1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?
  2. 2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
  3. 3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
  4. 4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u’.
  5. 5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.
  6. 6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
  7. 7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
  8. 8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
  9. 9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
  10. 10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

  1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
  2.  How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
  3. 3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
  4. 4. Describe the mountains of N.A.
  5. 5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
  6. 6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
  7. 7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
  8. 8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
  9. 9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
  10. 10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

Health (Time, 45 minutes)

  1. Where are the saliva, gastric juice, and bile secreted? What is the use of each in digestion?
  2. 2. How does nutrition reach the circulation?
  3. 3. What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?
  4. 4. How would you stop the flow of blood from an artery in the case of laceration?
  5. 5. Give some general directions that you think would be beneficial to preserve the human body in a state of health.

Incidentally, during these times, school only lasted 7 months, from October 1 to April 1. This allowed time for planting, farming, and harvest.

What about your “school days” memories? Were you a student who looked forward to school, or hated it? Do you have a favorite story of those by-gone times to share?

Vickie McDonough Visits with a Giveaway!

Thanks for inviting me to be a guest on Petticoats and Pistols. I always have a wonderful time here. Don’t forget to leave a comment (U.S. residents only) for a chance to win Jolene’s Redemption!Vickie McDonough 3 small

Vickie OK or bust

I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and I’ve always been interested in the land runs, one aspect of our state’s unique history. In case you’re not familiar with Oklahoma, much of the state was designated as Indian Territory in the later half of the nineteenth century. Over forty Indian tribes were eventually moved there because white settlers in other states and territories wanted their valuable land.Vickie OK land run

Cherokee strip sign up

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once much of the West had been settled, people started looking at Oklahoma as one of their last chances to get free land. They pressured the government to open the Unassigned Lands–land that had been promised to certain tribes, but no Indians had settled on it. The government finally agreed, and President Benjamin Harrison signed the paperwork for what was later called Harrison’s Hoss Race.

Vickie mapGabriel's AtonementOn April 22, 1889, over two million acres of land was opened for settlement in Oklahoma’s first land run. The homesteads were 160 acres with much smaller town lots also available. Anybody twenty-one and older could ride—women, foreigners, and blacks included. The race began with the blast of cannon and gunfire and a cheer so loud it made ears ache. An instant stampeded ensued. In less than a few hours, all of the homesteads had been claimed, leaving many people disillusioned and unhappy because they didn’t get one. In the first book in my series, Gabriel’s Atonement, my hero and heroine ride in the 1889 land run, which led to the settlement of Guthrie, Oklahoma City, and several other towns.

Joline’s Redemption, which released on November 1st, is the second book in my Land Rush Dreams series. It features the Cherokee Outlet aka Cherokee Strip land run, which was held on September 16, 1893. More than 100,000 hopeful settlers raced for 42,000 claims. I’m sure you can imagine the chaos of such an event. Lucky winners settled in sod homes and dugouts carved from the prairie while others lived in their covered wagons. The first winters were harsh as the land tested the endurance and character of its new inhabitants. Many of the settlers could not endure the harsh conditions, and after weeks or months, gave up their dream. But for those who stayed, hard times gave way to better days as crops flourished and communities, schools and churches rose from the wind-swept plains.

Jolene's Redemption

The land rushes were a chance for many folks to start over, and that’s what my heroine hopes to do.

Sarah’s Surrender, the final book in the series, releases next year, and it features the Oklahoma land lottery, which proved to be a less chaotic and less dangerous way to claim the land.

I’d love for you to follow my book news by signing up to receive my newsletter: http://www.vickiemcdonough.com/www.vickiemcdonough.com/Newsletter_Sign-up.html

You can find me online here:

Website:http://www.vickiemcdonough.com

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Heroes, Heroines, and History blog: http://HHHistory.com

NEW RELEASE AND GIVEAWAY BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041I wanted to talk a bit about my single author anthology, DARK TRAIL RISING that just made its debut a few days back! Dark Trail Rising is a collection of four of my short stories, The Keepers of Camelot, The Kindness of Strangers, Shot for a Dog, and Hidden Trails.

These are all historical western stories with no romance except for Hidden Trails. Oh, shoot. How can I say any story that has Guinevere, Arthur, and Lancelot as characters ISN’T romantic? So I suppose in one sense of the word, The Keepers of Camelot has romance in it too, but not in the conventional way we think of when we think of western historical romance.

You know that question people always ask you about “Which one of these stories is your favorite?” In this case, I’d have to truly say they all are, but for different reasons.

SPDark Trail Rising Cheryl WebThe Keepers of Camelot was a favorite because it was so different. I love the concept of the three main characters of the Camelot legend meeting centuries later, and finally being able to understand that forgiveness will bring them peace. It’s a Christmas tale, but one of redemption, and keeping the legend of Camelot alive in a young boy who loves it –hundreds of years later—just as Arthur did in the beginning. The Keepers of Camelot was a finalist in the Western Fictioneers short story category in the 2013 Peacemaker Awards.

The Kindness of Strangers is a favorite because it’s the first one I wrote that had no romance in it. A man is searching for the raiders who killed his wife and daughters. But when he finds them…will revenge keep him from saving three children who need him now that their parents are dead? This story was my first submission to a Western Fictioneers anthology—another reason it’s special to me.

Shot for a Dog…you know, this one was one of those stories that just came to me—you know the type. You try to put it off, say “Let me finish this other one first…” But it just won’t leave you alone until you give it what it wants—to be written! So I did, and it really was one of those that just twisted me up inside and wouldn’t let go. Lucas is jealous of his younger brother to the point of madness. Once he goes over the edge, he doesn’t know if he’s got hydrophobia or if he’s going insane.

Hidden Trails is the “true” romance of the bunch. It’s one I had thought I would put in the Valentine anthology last year…but sometimes, a story just gets out of hand and won’t let you end it where you’d thought you might. It’s got a lot of twists and turns in it, and I really loved the way it turned out for everyone.

What I’m really happy about is that these were all single sells or in other anthologies, but this is the first time they’re all together and IN PRINT!

Release day happened a few days ago, and I’m giving away an e-copy to a lucky commenter!

Here are the blurbs to whet your appetite for more!

These four incredible western tales with a twist by Cheryl Pierson won’t let you rest until you’ve read the entire single author collection. DARK TRAIL RISING is an anthology of old west stories that will keep you wondering and thinking long after you read the last line.

THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT—When King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot are again united on the 1880’s western frontier, can forgiveness bring them the peace that has eluded them for centuries? It’s an unforgettable Christmas brought about through one young boy’s steadfast belief in rekindling the glorious hope of the greatest legend of all time. THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT was a 2013 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award finalist in the short story category.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS—Jericho Dean has one thing on his mind: revenge for the murders of his wife and two little girls. As he closes in on the ruthless gang of Comancheros responsible for the crime, he is joined by an odd cowboy, Freeman Hart, who possesses some powerful magic. The two men come upon the outlaw band as they are attacking another homestead, and Jericho must make a decision. Will the relentless pursuit of vengeance destroy him, or will he find redemption and a reason to live in the eyes of three orphans who are left with no one to care for them but him?

SHOT FOR A DOG—At sixteen, Lucas Marshal is eight years older than his half-brother, Jeremiah. His hatred and jealousy of Jeremiah is all-consuming, until one dark day, it gets the best of him. Luke does the unthinkable, and shoots the family dog, Shadow. In trying to prevent it, Jeremiah is killed, as well. Forced to leave home by what he has done, Luke finds he has a companion he didn’t count on, and can’t get rid of. A river runs with blood, he hears voices—does he have hydrophobia, or is he losing his mind? The doctor is his only chance. But when he gets to town, somehow, the townspeople already have learned what he’s done—and the sheriff has a terrible secret of his own that may, indeed, be the death of Lucas Marshal.

HIDDEN TRAILS—Levi Connor has never run from anything in his life, and he doesn’t intend to start now. Wounded and riding through a blinding February snowstorm, he discovers a reason to exist when a beautiful mixed-blood girl takes him in and heals him. Valentine Reneau lives in fear that her father will find her someday. Time runs out when a stranger shows up on her land with two hired guns—and the devil in his plans. Will Levi kill for a woman he barely knows? The chips are down, the guns blaze, and everything finally comes clear along these HIDDEN TRAILS…but who’ll be left alive?

Now if you just can’t wait to see if you won a copy, here are the links to jump over and snap one up! Thanks to everyone for stopping by today!

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Trail-Rising-Four-Tales-ebook/dp/B0150SWII8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442108201&sr=1-1&keywords=Dark+Trail+Rising

INDIAN HOSPITALS (FOR INDIANS ONLY–PART 2) by Cheryl Pierson

Cheryln100000149781632_8303Welcome to “Part 2” of my “For Indians Only” series. The last time we talked about this topic, we talked about the boarding schools our country set up for Indian children to help “assimilate” them into white American society. It was a huge failure. Part 2, Indian Hospitals, is a true horror story from our nation’s past.

I want to talk a bit about a specific hospital in my state of Oklahoma. I’m sure there were many others like this, scattered around, but this is one I have a little personal knowledge of.

Located in Talihina, Oklahoma, in a secluded area on top of a large hill in the Kiamichi Mountains, the Harper Building is one of several from the former Eastern Oklahoma Tuberculosis Sanitarium. It was built in the early part of the 1900’s, specifically to house Indians (Choctaws and Chickasaws) with tuberculosis.

Talihina Indian Tuberculosis Hospital 1Here’s a little of the article that appeared at the time in our largest state newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman, in explanation of why it was being built. (Rootsweb Ancestry)—partial article

The Daily Oklahoman Oklahoma City, Oklahoma December 22, 1917 p 4

Sanitarium Is Provided

Six years ago the Choctaws, noting the increase of tuberculosis among them, took the first step toward establishing a tubercular sanitarium, the report says. On Dec. 14, 1911, the last Choctaw council passed an act appropriating $50,000 for such a sanitarium. This act was supplemented by a later act of congress, approving the appropriation, but it was not until the present year that the institution, located near Talihina, was completed. The hospital as established is doing a general hospital work, however, and no special provision has been made for the care of tubercular patients.

Therefore, the following detailed recommendations were made:

First: The Talihina Sanitarium – This sanitarium should be devoted particularly, if not exclusively, to tuberculosis. It offers the principal and immediate remedy for existing conditions. It is centrally located in the home country of the Indians, and if it is properly conducted Indian patients may be induced to reside there, where they will be properly clothed and fed and will receive the medical and surgical attention they need. They can be provided with religious services, and open air classes can be carried on for children so that they may not grow up in ignorance.

Talihina Indian Tuberculosis Hospital 3Jump to the next century, ca. 2008-2009. I was teaching a novel writing class, a small class with only 8-10 students. One of those students was an incredible Choctaw Indian lady, who I will call Emma. She told the class that she was there to learn how to write her life story. And she proceeded to tell us some of the stories of her life.

She’d gone to an orphanage at a young age, her single mother unable to feed her and her younger brother. When she reached her teen years, perhaps 16 or 17, she was sent from the orphanage to the Talihina Indian Tuberculosis Hospital. Young Emma made friends—most of the patients there were children and teens, but there were some adults. But because of the nature of the illness, Emma lost many of her friends to death.

She told of a particular instance, after the death of one of her good friends, when the janitor, who also helped dig graves, saw her in the hallway. He gave her a slow grin and pointed a bony finger at her. “When will I be coming for YOU?” he asked.

Talihina Indian Tuberculosis Hospital 2Even worse, experiments were conducted on the patients there at the Indian hospital. Why? Because there was a white tuberculosis hospital in the same area (my dad was a patient there a few years later) and they needed to find out the best treatments to use…so the Indians were the ones they experimented on. Emma told the story of going in and having them collapse her lung—with no anesthesia—when she was around 17 or so.

Talihina Indian Tuberculosis Hospital 4The hospital still stands, but is said to be haunted by all the children and others who died there. The government now owns the property, and it’s run by Oklahoma Veteran Affairs. These pictures are of the Harper Building where the Indian hospital was, and is being considered for demolition at this time.

Talihina Indian Tuberculosis Hospital 5

 

COWBOY DREAMS–THE ADVENTURES OF THE ABERNATHY BROTHERS by CHERYL PIERSON

Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols today, the final day of our special event! Mary Connealy will be giving away our prize today, a $25 AMAZON gift certificate, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing!  Today, I’m going to post one of the first blogs I ever wrote for P&P about two remarkable young boys, Bud and Temple Abernathy and their true life adventures as long riders. Even now, over 100 years later, they still hold the record for the youngest long riders ever. Here is their incredible story!

In the summer of 1909, two young brothers under the age of ten set out to make their own “cowboy dreams” come true.  They rode across two states on horseback.  Alone.

It’s a story that sounds too unbelievable to be true, but it is.

Oklahoma had been a state not quite two years when these young long riders undertook the adventure of a lifetime.  The brothers, Bud (Louis), and Temple Abernathy rode from their Tillman County ranch in the southwest corner of the state to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Bud was nine years old, and Temple was five.

They were the sons of a U.S. Marshal, Jack Abernathy, who had the particular talent of catching wolves and coyotes alive, earning him the nickname “Catch ’Em Alive Jack.”

Odd as it seems to us today, Jack Abernathy had unwavering faith in his two young sons’ survival skills.  Their mother had died the year before, and, as young boys will, they had developed a wanderlust listening to their father’s stories.

Jack agreed to let them undertake the journey, Bud riding Sam Bass (Jack’s own Arabian that he used to chase wolves down with) and Temple riding Geronimo, a half-Shetland pony.  There were four rules the boys had to agree to:  Never to ride more than fifty miles a day unless seeking food or shelter; never to cross a creek unless they could see the bottom of it or have a guide with them; never to carry more than five dollars at a time; and no riding on Sunday.

The jaunt into New Mexico to visit their father’s friend, governor George Curry, took them six weeks.  Along the way, they were escorted by a band of outlaws for many miles to ensure their safe passage.  The boys didn’t realize they were outlaws until later, when the men wrote to Abernathy telling him they didn’t respect him because he was a marshal.  But, in the letter, they wrote they “liked what those boys were made of.”

One year later, they set out on the trip that made them famous.  At ten and six, the boys rode from their Cross Roads Ranch in Frederick, Oklahoma, to New York City to meet their friend, former president Theodore Roosevelt, on his return from an African safari.  They set out on April 5, 1910, riding for two months.

 

Along the way, they were greeted in every major city, being feted at dinners and amusement parks, given automobile rides, and even an aeroplane ride by Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio.

Their trip to New York City went as planned, but they had to buy a new horse to replace Geronimo.  While they were there, he had gotten loose in a field of clover and nearly foundered, and had to be shipped home by train.

They traveled on to Washington, D.C., and met with President Taft and other politicians.

It was on this trip that the brothers decided they needed an automobile of their own.  They had fallen in love with the new mode of transportation, and they convinced their father to buy a Brush runabout.  After practicing for a few hours in New York, they headed for Oklahoma—Bud drove, and Temple was the mechanic.

They arrived safe and sound back in Oklahoma in only 23 days.

 

TEMPLE AND BUD IN AMARILLO

But their adventures weren’t over.  The next year, they were challenged to ride from New York City to San Francisco.  If they could make it in 60 days, they would win $10,000.  Due to some bad weather along the 3,619-mile-long trip, they missed the deadline by only two days.  Still, they broke a record—and that record of 62 days still stands, nearly one hundred years later.

 

The boys’ last cross country trip was made in 1913 driving a custom designed, two-seat motorcycle from their Cross Roads Ranch to New York City.  They returned to Oklahoma by train.

As adults, Temple became an oilman, and Bud became a lawyer.  There is a statue that commemorates the youngest long riders ever in their hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma, on the lawn of the Tillman County Courthouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED IN TODAY’S DRAWING, A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD FROM MARY CONNEALY!

GET SWEPT AWAY HERE: http://www.amazon.com/Swept-Away-Trouble-Texas-Connealy/dp/0764209140/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372275065&sr=1-2&keywords=mary+connealy+books

NEW FROM CHERYL PIERSON! COMING SOON!

COMING SOON! GABRIEL’S LAW

 

 

OKLAHOMA’S TERRIBLE TWISTERS by CHERYL PIERSON

Growing up here in Oklahoma, every spring was the same story—tornado season. My dad would carry me out on the front porch with him to watch the clouds. He’d talk about them, and command the thunder to roar! The lightning to flash! Looking back on it now, I understand that he was trying to teach me not to be afraid of the weather, and it worked. And maybe he was trying not to be afraid, too.

In those days, there was little to no warning before the storm hit. In today’s world, so many improvements and inventions have come along that our weathermen can pinpoint the minute the storm will hit a certain area. There is round the clock coverage on the three major stations when we are in a severe weather watch. They also broadcast from sister-station radio channels, in case you’re not near a television or are in a storm shelter. Doppler radar is one of the greatest life-saving inventions that ever happened, in my opinion.

Every elementary school child here is trained in our “tornado drills” just as they are trained in fire drills. How well I remember the hardships of trying to crouch on our knees, bowed over next to the walls in the hallway! At that time, most little girls wore dresses. Our biggest worry was trying to hold our dress down so no one could see our underwear.

Most families here don’t have storm shelters or cellars.  Most houses don’t have basements. Our home was no exception—no basement and no cellar.  Our water table is so high here that it’s hard to keep the dampness and/or flooding out. Even the pre-fab shelters are sometimes prone to leaking water.

One of my enduring memories was of the time when I was about five years old and we were caught at my grandparents’ just before the storm hit. They had an old root cellar—dug out of the red Oklahoma dirt, with an old tin door that my grandfather had made, and some cinder block steps that led down into the darkness. I remember my mother not wanting to go down into the cellar for some reason. When I got down there, I understood. My grandfather lit a kerosene lamp and we could see spiders…There was an old cot against the wall, and Mom and I sat down on it. Across the cellar, no more than 5 feet away, there were rough shelves that my grandmother’s jars of canned goods lined. And in the space between two jars…two eyes looked out at me.

“Look, Mom…there are eyes looking at us,” I said. In the next few seconds, I found out something about my granddad I would never have suspected. He could move like the lightning above us outside! He had everyone stand to one side, and he took up a hoe and an axe from the corner (hmmm….this must have happened before down there!) and quick as anything, he had that snake out of the shelf and on the floor with its head chopped off.  I learned later it was a copperhead.

Public shelters? Few and far between. Liability is a huge responsibility that no one wants to assume. And in these sue-happy days, it’s a very real possibility that organizations who are just trying to be good neighbors and offer safety could lose everything to one lawsuit. This is true of governmental and private organizations alike. Another fear, quite justified, is the fact that many people trying to get to a shelter create a traffic jam and are sitting ducks.

In light of all the tragedy that has happened lately here in our great state, I’m relieved to learn that FINALLY there is some positive action being made toward outfitting our schools with a safe place for the kids and teachers to be. That should have been done long, long ago. Of course, it’s all a matter of money. It’s expensive to do. But what price can we put on a child’s life?

I guess we can say that is the “silver lining” to all this. Thanks to each and every one of you who has kept us in your thoughts and prayers. There is still a great need for help and healing, but what a country we live in! I’m so proud to be an American. We have our differences, but when tragedy strikes, no one stands together like we do. I’m so thankful for that.

This is one of the most touching pictures I’ve seen. It reminds me of how, someway, there’s always someone who manages to fly Old Glory in the direst of circumstances and remind us that we are all just human beings, trying to make it in this world, helping one another when our world is literally ripped away from us. There has been such an outpouring of love and help from all over not only our own nation, but other countries as well, and yet–for whatever reason, we are always surprised and humbled that other care so much.

Last but not least, I leave you with a picture of one of my favorite Oklahomans, Miranda Lambert, married to another favorite Oklahoman, Blake Shelton. Blake organized a benefit concert and got tons of performers, not just fellow Okies in the business–to come out and give their all for our ravaged state. God bless them all!

KANE’S CHANCE by CHERYL PIERSON

I started to write a short story several months back that turned into a novella.  I wrote the novella and realized I wasn’t done with the story…so I wrote two more. These were my “Kane” trilogy—Kane’s Redemption, Kane’s Promise and Kane’s Destiny. These stories really wouldn’t be classified as a “romance” story. There’s no sex, not really even any spoken words of love between Jacobi Kane and his love interest, Laura, who later becomes his wife.

I did this on purpose, since the stories are told from the point of view of a young boy. That stuff would be too mushy for him to think about for too long. No, these stories are more action oriented, and being told from the first person viewpoint, it’s necessary to keep a high level of feeling to the forefront.

Will Green is the young boy who tells the stories. In KANE’S REDEMPTION, we meet him at the age of 9, almost 10. His parents and older sister have just been murdered by the Apache, and he has been kidnapped as they torch his home. But a few days later,  just as he’s given up hope, a mysterious man walks right into the Apache camp and rescues him.  Jacobi Kane has a mysterious past that he isn’t too keen on discussing with Will, though Will senses a kind of kinship between the two of them as they travel toward Fort Worth and safety. Kane harbors a terrible secret that might force Will’s hero worship of him to turn quickly to hatred…or of understanding, that Kane is a man who does what he must. But will that realization be enough, and is Will mature enough to come to grips with what Kane had to do?

In KANE’S PROMISE, Will continues to learn more about Jacobi Kane’s past when a group of law officers seek Kane’s help in capturing some of the same Apache Indian band that killed Will’s family.  Kane resists going because he is now re-married, with a new baby on the way and tells the lawmen he’s turned in his badge for good—years ago. But a promise he made in the past keeps him hungry for vengeance, and his new wife urges him to go and see an end to it all.  Of course, Will is not going to be left behind. Jacobi might need him!

KANE’S DESTINY wraps up the trilogy with a surprise visit from a man Will had never expected to see—his ship building magnate grandfather, from Boston, Robert Green. His grandfather first tries to intimidate him into returning to Boston with him, then falls back on honesty only when he must to convince Will to come back. Will vehemently refuses, but when he hears two of his grandfather’s men planning to murder his grandfather, he knows he has to go at least part of the way—to the first stop, back where it all started—the little burned out cabin where his family was murdered over two years past. Jacobi is out there, trailing them for protection, unseen and silent, but then Will learns a secret that makes his blood run cold. A man that Jacobi thought of as a friend is also caught up in the plot—but Jacobi doesn’t know the tide has turned. He’s in as much danger as Will and his grandfather are.

This is just a short bit about each story, but the big news is, now you can get all three stories under one cover, KANE’S CHANCE! With a little bit of editing and changing here and there for  “flow”, these stories are all combined into one novel now. This book is loved by young and old alike, a great YA novel for boys (and girls!), but also something adults enjoy as well. I loved every minute of writing these adventures of Will Green and Jacobi Kane, and I have a feeling I’m not done yet.

Karen M. Nutt did all my wonderful covers, and she came through again for KANE’S CHANCE. I’m giving away one digital copy of KANE’S CHANCE today to a commenter, so please comment and remember to leave your contact info!

Here’s an excerpt from KANE’S CHANCE. Thirteen-year-old Will and his grandfather are having a meeting of the minds as they travel up to Indian Territory from Fort Worth. Surrounded by men who want to kill both of them, they find themselves at odds in this conversation where Will tells his grandfather some things about himself that his grandfather didn’t know.

I had learned a lot from Jacobi. And by the way my grandfather looked away and fell silent, I knew there was a mighty big hole in the story somewhere.

“What is it you’re not tellin’ me, old man?” My voice was strong but quiet. I wasn’t sure if this was some kind of family secret or somethin’ he didn’t want Jack Wheeler, riding a few paces behind us, to hear.

He gave me a sharp look. “You may call me Grandfather, William. There’s no need for disrespect.”

“No need to tell half the story, either.”

At first, he looked at me from under his eyebrows like he’d like to take a strap to me. But I looked right back at him. Finally, he nodded and glanced away.

“I’ve been so desperate to find you because…you’re my only living heir. I built a ship building dynasty for my family, Will, and there’s no one left but you.” He cursed as the wagon hit a hole and jolted him sharply.

“My sister married a man, Josiah Compton, whose wife had died. He brought two sons to the marriage, but he and Margaret never had any children together. The boys are men, now, of course. George, the eldest, is a pastor. But Ben, the younger of them, is quite a wastrel. He has squandered his inheritance and is looking for more. If you weren’t…alive….well—everything would fall to the two of them. And though George is not the type to seek gain, Ben is quite a different story.

“Ben knows I won’t be around much longer. But you will always be a threat, Will. I’m afraid this is going to end badly for one of you.”

I thought about what he’d told me. It seemed like maybe he needed me to say somethin’. It bolstered my confidence to know that somewhere out there, Jacobi was ridin’ along easy, keepin’ a eye out on us. Especially, now that I’d learned this part of the story.

I looked at him straight in the face. “I’ll tell you one thing. It ain’t gonna be me that ends up dead.”

“I didn’t say that—”

“It’s what you meant though, ain’t it? When there’s a pile of money to be had, somebody’s always worried it’ll get taken away from ’em. Even if he knows I don’t want it, he’ll be worried about it. I’ve killed before. I’ll do it again, if need be.”

His expression turned to one of shock. I went on with what I was saying. “Ain’t nobody gonna take my life over somethin’ I don’t even want.”

He studied me openly, as if he were trying to decide what he should say. I saved him the trouble.

“I know you’re wonderin’ about it, so I’ll tell you.” And I did just that, from start to finish, from the day Papa and I had been out working together and seen the Apaches ride up all the way through when Jacobi had rescued me and we’d ridden out of the Apache camp together.

“We rode as long as we could, until I fell off the horse. Then Jacobi picked me up and we rode some more. When Red Eagle caught up to us, Jacobi and him fought.” My throat dried up just thinkin’ about how I’d felt to see Red Eagle and Jacobi locked close together, fighting with everything they had, and knowin’ one of ’em was gonna end up dead.

“I killed Red Eagle. Shot him dead.”

Grandfather was quiet.

“I ain’t sorry for it, either. It felt good. Every time I think about what he did to Papa and Mama, I know it was the right thing. But mainly it was right because he was so dang pure evil.”

FOR KANE’S CHANCE and all my other work, check BARNES & NOBLE and AMAZON. Here’s the AMAZON link to my author page.

 

A TRUE LOVE STORY by CHERYL PIERSON

This love story starts many years before the lovers ever met. It begins with something that happened when John Rollin Ridge was an eleven-year-old boy, and witnessed his father’s bloody murder.

John Rollin Ridge, called Cheesquatalawny, or “Yellow Bird,” by his fellow Cherokee tribesmen, was the son of John Ridge, and the grandson of a prominent Cherokee leader, Major John Ridge. Major Ridge was one of the most powerful and wealthy members of the eastern Cherokee tribes in the early 1800s. By the time John Rollin Ridge was born in 1827, the State of Georgia had discovered gold on Cherokee lands and wanted them relocated. Cherokee leaders, at first, were opposed to signing treaties with the U.S. Government, refusing to go.

But the State of Georgia confiscated Cherokee lands in 1832, including the homes and thriving plantation owned by some members of the tribe, including another prominent family, the Waties. Major Ridge and his son John opposed the removal, but because of the inevitability of the outcome of the situation, they and some of the other leaders reversed their stance on negotiating with the federal government. Major Ridge, and John Ridge, along with Stand Watie and his brothers, formed the powerful Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the Cherokee council, standing in favor of the Cherokee Removal. Their signing of the Treaty of New Echota sold Cherokee lands and facilitated the removal of the Cherokee people to Indian Territory—what is now Oklahoma—an act considered treasonous by many.

Another faction of Cherokees following John Ross refused to ratify the treaty signing.  This segment was known as The Anti-Removal National Party. The word was out—traitors were to be executed.

Blood Law (also called blood revenge) is the practice in traditional customary Native American law where responsibility for seeing that homicide is punished falls on the clan of the victim. The responsibility for revenge fell to a close family member (usually the closest male relative). In contrast to the Western notion of justice, blood law was based on harmony and balance. It was believed that the soul/ghost of the victim would be forced to wander the earth, not allowed to go to the afterlife, unless harmony was restored. The death of the killer (or member of the killer”s clan) restored the balance.  READ MORE HERE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Law

Members of this group targeted Stand Watie and his brother, Elias Boudinot, along with their uncle, Major Ridge for assassination.  On the morning of June 2, 1839, John’s father, John Ridge, was dragged from his bed by some of the tribesmen of The Anti-Removal National Party and murdered as his wife and children, including young John, looked on. This event would color John’s life until the end.

Mrs. Ridge took her family to northwestern Arkansas. Young John’s thirst for vengeance was tempered only by a young woman he met and fell in love with, Elizabeth Wilson.

 

They first met when John was studying Latin and Greek with a local missionary. Elizabeth worked for the missionary. John wrote to his cousin, “There is a prettily shapely girl of about 16 or 17 years, who is very friendly and gives me a quantity of enjoyment in her company, whenever I get tired of dusty pages of legal technicalities.”

 

Elizabeth was part Native American, and John was half Cherokee. To her, he was the handsomest man she’d ever seen, and she believed him to be a talented writer—one of the most intelligent men in the country. John was not only entranced by Elizabeth’s beauty, but the sweet honesty and goodness of her character, and her brilliance. They married in May, 1847, and though they were happy, their love couldn’t overcome the bloody images that John tried to forget, the tragedy that consumed him.

As an adult, he often dreamt of the morning of his father’s murder, awakening from sleep screaming.  Elizabeth was at his side, calming him. She promised to help him fulfill his desire for revenge any way she could.

“There is a deep seated principle of revenge in me which will never be satisfied, until it reaches its object,” he told her.

Eventually, they traveled to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) where they joined forces with other allies of the Ridge faction, all of them eager to track down and punish those responsible for the deaths of the Major Ridge, and members of Stand Watie’s family. In the end, thirty-two of the thirty-six men who had been responsible for the murders were found and killed.

John squared off against one of the four remaining assassins, Judge David Kell. When Kell advanced on John, John shot him, claiming it was done in self-defense. But John had no faith in getting a fair trial (Cherokee court) and he and Elizabeth ran to Missouri, settling in Springfield.

 

John became a freelance writer, selling articles to various newspapers to supplement his salary in the county clerk’s office.  He and Elizabeth now had a baby girl, Alice.

When news of the discovery of gold in California hit Springfield, John left his clerk’s position and joined a group of men heading west to seek their fortunes. He promised Elizabeth that he would send for her as soon as he could. During the time he was gone, he had no luck mining, although he loved the West. In 1853, he left mining in search of other work, accepting a clerk position in Yuba, California.

During this time he wrote for a New Orleans newspaper under the name “Yellow Bird.” About this time, he also contributed poetry and drawings to The Pioneer, a San Francisco  publication.

But in 1853, something else happened to John. He wrote a letter to his mother, describing an illness he’d come down with, “billious fever,” which caused “ulceration of the bowels.” He was alone, with no one to care for him, and was, in fact, dying. Leaving Alice in the care of John’s mother, Elizabeth headed west in the company of a family going to California.

John was near death when Elizabeth arrived, but through her constant care, she got him through it and back

on his feet. “You bless me with your love, dear Lizzie,” he told her.

Alice Ridge as a young woman

Elizabeth returned for their daughter, and once again traveled to California. John had, at her encouragement, sold several sonnets he’d written about the beauty of California. He seemed less angry, and gave credit for his improved temperament to his writing endeavors.

John wrote a book about the notorious outlaw, Joaquin Murieta, a crowning literary achievement. He never received any royalties, since his publisher went bankrupt, but because the book had been so popular, he was able to rise to full time editing jobs for such newspapers as the Marysville Democrat, the Grass Valley Union, and the Sacramento Bee.

After the Civil War, Ridge was invited by the federal government to head the Southern Cherokee delegation in postwar treaty proceedings. Despite his best efforts, the Cherokee region was not admitted as a state to the Union. In December 1866, he returned to his home in Grass Valley, California, where he and Elizabeth had made their home for more than fifteen years. Their daughter, Alice, married.

John Rollin Ridge and daughter Alice

The Ridges lived an idyllic life. But John’s health failed him at the age of thirty-nine. He became afflicted with “softening of the brain,” a disease that took its toll quickly through the spring and summer of 1867.John Rollin Ridge, Yellow Bird, died on October 5, 1867, leaving behind a collection of fine articles, sketches and poetry. In 1868, Elizabeth published an anthology of his poetry.

Elizabeth died in 1905 and was buried beside her husband in Grass Valley.

 

OF HER I LOVE

I READ but a moment her beautiful eyes,
I glanced at the charm of her snowy-white hand
I caught but the glimpse of her cheek”s blushing dyes
More sweet than the fruits of a tropical land;

 

I marked but an instant her coral-hued lips,
And the row of sweet pearls that glimmered between–
Those lips, like the roses the humming bird sips
On his bright wing of rainbows, when summer is green.

 

I timidly gazed on a bosom more white
Than the breast of the swan, more soft than its down–
To rest on whose pillows were greater delight
Than all else of rapture that heaven may own.

 

I gazed but a second on these, and on all
That make up the sum of her angel-like form,
And ere I could think I was bound in her thrall,
And peace fled my breast, as the birds flee a storm!

 

I am bound in love”s pain, and may never be free,
Till the bond is dissolved in her own melting kiss:
Till her loveliness, like the embrace of a sea,
Enclasps me, and hides me in the depths of its bliss.

 

John Rollin Ridge

John”s tombstone

WHAT BRINGS US ALL TOGETHER

I love reading stories about how other writers got started on their writing paths, because it makes me realize AGAIN what holds us all together as writers! So many of us have similar experiences, yet many of them are very unique–and they all have brought us together in this world of writing and sharing our stories with our readers.

I had written the “book that started it all” for me–my “baby”–trouble was, by the time I finished it, it was WAY too long to be published (for a first time author).  It’s around 284,000 words!  (But who’s counting!?)  I sent it off (FINALLY!) and of course, it was rejected by all the agents I sent it to, except for three.  Those three wanted to see something shorter.  That’s what made me get busy and write the “next” book–another western, but different characters and MUCH MUCH shorter.  I got an agent and was sure that that book would be “the one” to be published.  But, no.  I was already working on book # 3– another western.  When I shipped it off to my agent, again, it was with high hopes and crossed fingers.  He wrote to tell me that “No one reads westerns much anymore.  Have you got anything different?”

My husband had very graciously been “standing by” all this time while I had more or less taken a
break from working to write.  He was starting to get impatient about the way our money was at the time, and I was worried, too.  I went back to work part time, first as an emergency serivces operator (911) and then as a “guard” in the National Cowboy and Western Heitage Museum here in Oklahoma City.
My husband was not happy about me switching from the 911 job to the museum, but I knew I had to do it for self-preservation.  It was not nearly as much money per hour, but the pressure was not as tremendous either.  I enjoyed working there.  And as time went by, I realized that it was where I neededto be.

For whatever reason, I found that people who came through the museum were willing to open up to me and talk about all kinds of things–I don’t know if it was because we were strangers and they felt safe about telling me about old emotional wounds, knowing they’d never see me again– but even my co-workers noticed it.  No, it didn’t happen every day, but I’m thankful that I was “there” for them when
it did happen.  It’s hard to explain in an e-mail, but I felt like I was where I needed to be for those 2 years that I worked there.  The Viet Nam vet who talked about losing his best friend, the man whose father got him out of going to Viet Nam who blamed himself when his best friend was killed over there, the couple who had married, divorced, and then remarried after TWENTY YEARS, the man who had never made peace with his father before his father passed on. . . and on and on.

What does that have to do with writing?  In a way, it took the focus off — and the pressure– to crank
out that next book and hope that it would sell.  I realized that I would be writing, whether my books sold NOW, LATER, or NEVER.  I was a writer, and that was what I loved to do.  I was forced to quit the job at the museum due to a bout of poor health that year, and I never went back to work there, but I made some lifelong friends among my coworkers that I never would have met had I not worked there.  I gained a new perspective on my role as a writer, and what writing meant to me.  It was not a “job”–it
was something I’d been doing, literally, since I could hold a pencil.

 I’ve gone on to write several full length novels, and that third one I wrote (the western that “no one is reading anymore”) was the first one I sold.  Fittingly enough, the heroine is named for my daughter Jessica, who is my biggest fan, and the hero bears the same last name as my dear friend and supervisor at the museum, Martin Turner, who has since passed on. (The cover at the left is the 1st cover my book had when it was published with The Wild Rose Press. The one below is the new one it was given when it was reissued with Western Trail Blazer.)

It all connects.  Success is measured in so many ways for so many people, but for me, that little
“detour” of 2 years at the museum was filled with cherished memories, and I think it helped me as a writer in so many ways.    At the time, I saw it as something I had to do to help the family financially, but now, I realize it was not just the money I earned– it was the building of friendships, and helping others, and learning more about human nature and healing the spirits of those who confided in me in whatever small way I could.

I’m still hoping to sell the ‘book of my heart”– that 284,000 word saga– but if I don’t, I’m okay
with it.  I enjoyed writing it, and I will probably still be working on it, rewriting on it, cutting and editing on it forever.

What got you started writing? Any budding writers out there who want to share their experiences? I love it that we are all brought together by this wonderful fove of writing!

All my books and short stories are available here: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

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