Tag: research

A Contest . . . A Discount . . . And a Research Trip to the Deli

You just never know what you might find at the local WalMart deli. On Sunday, I went in to do my weekly grocery shopping and patiently waited my turn at the deli counter. A nice man was assisting several customers, of which I was the last. I asked for a pound of thinly sliced Virgina Ham, and what I got was a research gold mine.

First, this gentleman told me that the meat was technically Virginia Smoked Ham, though they just added a little flavor to it these days instead of smoking it to preserve it like they did back in the day – letting it hang in a smoke house for months and carving off pieces as they needed. He apparently grew up in a small Virginia town in the 1960’s that still had a mercantile. And one day when he was off exploring the woods as a kid, he smelled popcorn and followed his nose. It turned out he’d stumbled across a “shiner” making corn whiskey. The man had a shotgun and a dog, but our intrepid deli man was not afraid. He’d been reading up on the art of making moonshine in the Foxfire books, you see.

To learn more about the Foxfire project, click here.

What are the Foxfire books, you might ask? Well, they are a series of books chronicling the lost arts of survival in the wild as revealed by the residents of Appalachia who preserved this historic way of life by being closed off from the rest of the world. Well, as soon as I got home with my lovely deli ham, I had to look these books up. Sure enough, first published in 1972, The Foxfire Book set to paper everything you need to know about hog dressing, log cabin building, soap making, basket weaving, planting by the signs, preserving foods, making butter, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, and–you guessed it–moonshining.

My research brain quickly began taking notes. What a treasure trove of concrete knowledge for a historical writer! Apparently the first Foxfire book was so popular, they came out with 11 additional volumes covering such topics as: wagon making, banjos and dulcimers, hide tanning, springhouses, horse training, wood carving, knife making, cheesemaking, ironmaking, blacksmithing, flintlock rifles, bear hunting, cucumber dolls, wooden locks, shoemaking, and water-powered sawmills just to name a few.

Who knew that visiting the deli would uncover such research riches?

No Other Will Do On Sale!

The first book in the Ladies of Harper’s Station series is on sale just in time to prepare you for the release of Heart on the Line (book 2) next month.

Emma and Malachi’s story is on sale for only $2.99 (or less – Amazon’s price has been as low as $1.99) for the entire month of May. Yay! Grab a copy or email a copy to a friend. It would make a great Mother’s Day gift, too. Instant delivery for less than the cost of a card.

Click here to download from Amazon. It’s available on Nook and all other digital retailers as well.

Fun Giveaway!

And that’s not all . . .

There’s another big giveaway going on with BookSweeps. Two of the Fillies are participating – me and Margaret Brownley. All you have to do to enter is follow us on either Amazon or BookBub. Pretty painless. I’m giving away my RITA nominated novella, The Husband Maneuver. All the books in this grouping are classified as Christian historicals.

The more authors you follow, the greater your chance of winning.

  • Grand Prize – Kindle Fire and all the books in the overall promotion (including the other categories of historical romance such as Regency, Scottish, American, etc.)
  • First Prize – All the books in the Christian Historical Romance category
  • Second Prize – $25 gift card to the book store of your choice

Click here to enter the contest.

  • So what is the strangest place you have ever learned something interesting?

The Calgary Stampede with Linda Ford

Today our guest is Linda Ford, who is here to give us some background on the rough and rowdy Calgary Stampede.  Linda will also introduce us to her Big Sky series and give away a book to one lucky commentor!

The year is 1912 and the hero of the story is Guy Weadick, a man born in New York. He ran away from his boyhood home to Montana where he learned to ride and rope and talk like a cowboy. Weadick considered himself to be ‘half cowboy and three-quarters showman.’ Along with other performers, he toured with a vaudeville troupe, barnstorming across the country and even performing in England.

Enter our heroine, Flores LaDue, the stage name of Grace Maud Bensell raised in Montevideo, Minnesota next to an Indian Reserve where she learned riding and roping early in life. At a young age, she ran away from home to join the circus.  A talented athlete, she was famous for roping five running horses while lying down on the arena floor. It is said Guy fell in love with her the first time he saw the petite horsewoman (she was less than five feet tall) hanging upside down from her horse while swinging her rope overhead. Flores was a little more reserved about committing to the re

lationship. She was an independent woman with no interest in marriage. Nevertheless, she couldn’t resist the handsome cowboy and they were married five weeks after being together. He was 21, she was 23. They were partners in a way that was unusual for that day and age. Guy treated her as an equal. After her death, Guy had these words place on her tombstone “A Real Partner.”

Back to the story of 1912. Guy was concerned that the cowboy skills of the West were disappearing as the flood of settlers increased. He approached the Canadian Pacific Railway livestock agent with the idea of staging a rodeo to preserve the old west. He talked some local ranchers into financing his venture and thus the Calgary Stampede was born. From the beginning Guy use this boastful brand that has continued to this day, ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth.’ Guy considered Flores the business woman behind this venture. He considered himself the talker—the salesman.

Guy was determined this would be a Big show—$20,000 offered for prizes, 200 imported Mexican longhorn cattle, 300 of the meanest horses, a replica of the notorious Fort Whoop-Up and many other wonderful offerings. He didn’t want to leave out anyone and invited Treaty 7 First Nations to participate. The Stampede opened with a grand parade through the town. Among those watching the performances were the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and daughter, Princess Patricia.

Courtesy of the Calgary Stampede Archives

Top North American cowboy and cowgirl performers came to compete. Mexican Bandit Pancho Villa even sent his best rider.

A number of women contestants participated alongside men in events such as steer roping and bucking horse competition.

One of the most exciting events featured a local bronc rider, a Blood Indian by the name of Tom Three Persons. He drew the bucking horse, Cyclone, a big black gelding that had rarely been ridden. People shook their heads and predicted that poor Tom was done. The horse exploded from the chute and bucked his best but Tom held on and won the most important contest of the show.  The thousands of spectators erupted into a roar of applause.

Several competent trick riders gave Flores La Due stiff competition for the title of World Champion Trick and Fancy Roper but she won the prize in the end.

For some wonderful pictures of the Stampede and the people involved go to http://www.glenbow.org and search Calgary Stampede under the archived photos.
The Calgary Stampede continues to this day—still at tribute to the cowboy skills of the west.

My stories have never included the Calgary Stampede but do honor the cowboy life. My book, Montana Cowboy’s Baby, is out in July. It is the third book in my 6-book Big Sky Country series. It’s a story about a baby left on the doorstep of the hero with a note saying the baby is his. He knows it’s not. This series is set in Montana—in case you didn’t catch that—and features three Marshall young men, their sister and two close friends. Montana Cowboy Daddy was out in Oct. 2016. Montana Cowboy Family was out Jan. 2017. The fourth book—Montana Bride by Christmas—will be released in Oct. 2017. I am really looking forward to that story. It has many sweet elements. At least I think so. I’ve just turned in the fifth book and it’s about Annie Marshall’s friend, Carly, who is prepared to do anything to save her ranch and her home…including marrying a complete stranger.

I will be giving away a copy of Montana Cowboy’s Baby to one of those who comments on this post. (Or one of the earlier titles according to your wish).

Welcome, Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield joins us at the Junction  to discuss the methods she uses to research her books. Shanna is also giving away two books! Please join us in welcoming her!

newsletter header

What a treat to be back on Petticoats & Pistols as a guest today. Thank you to all the Fillies for this wonderful opportunity!

Although I write both contemporary and historical sweet romances, I love researching tidbits from the past for my historical books.

One resource I often turn to when I’m writing my Pendleton Petticoats series is the online version of the town’s newspaper from back in the day.

newspaper 1

Browsing through the newspaper gives me a general idea of what life was like at that particular time. The advertisements alone offer such an amazing peek into the past, a clear look at popular fashions, and words that may have been all the rage.

The newsworthy events and articles also help me create a realistic world for my fictional characters. It is easy to picture them sitting down for supper and recapping something they might have read in the newspaper or heard in town (or the nosy ones may have gleaned gossip by listening in on the party lines of the telephone). Would an attempted bank robbery in a neighboring town be that evening’s hot topic? Or would their interest turn more to an upcoming event that has the town all abuzz?

I’ve been researching information during the autumn of 1910 for the latest book in the series. During that time, very first Pendleton Round-Up took place in conjunction with the annual county fair. For nearly an entire month leading up to the events, the newspaper published at least one article (sometimes more) about the fair and rodeo each day.

I could write pages and pages of historical facts about the Round-Up, but I thought I’d share something a little different today.

One article I found very amusing was a recap of the baby show that took place the last day of the fair. It was fun to realize proud mothers showed off their babies even back then.

Portrait of beautiful blue-eyed girl

Deposit Photo

A judge from a distant town was coerced into the unenviable job of judging the contest.

According to the article, mothers remained confident their little darlings were the “prettiest, sweetest, and best regardless of the decisions of Judge Addison Bennet.”

After announcing the first, second and third place winners, the article went on to state that Judge Bennet “escaped with his life on the first train.”

Who knew baby contests were such a cutthroat business even way back then?

Just for fun, here’s an old tune that seems rather fitting…

divider

To enter for a chance to win autographed copies of the first two books in the Pendleton Petticoats series along with some other goodies, please share your response to this question:

What is your favorite county fair event?

divider

Dally long 1

For more information about the Pendleton Petticoat series, you can find the books here:

Dacey (Prequel)

Aundy (Book 1)

Caterina (Book 2)

 Ilsa (Book 3)

Marnie (Book 4)

Lacy (Book 5)

Bertie (Book 6)

Millie (Book 7)

Dally (Book 8)

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Please connect with Shanna online. She loves to hear from readers.

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Newsletter | Pinterest

 

The Smoky Hill River

Kathryns Banner

I am working on a series of historical western romances for Harlequin that take place in the fictional town of Oak Grove in Logan County in northwest Kansas. The town is situated just north of the Smoky Hill River which has so many interesting stories about it that I wanted to share a few here.

The waters of the Smoky Hill River start in the high plains of eastern Colorado and flow east with many other rivers joining in, until it flows into and forms the Kansas River. From there the water flows into the Missouri River and then on to the Mississippi River.

Kansas MapFor many years, Comanche, Sioux, Kiowa, and Arapaho tribes hunted extensively along the river before being forced out by encroaching settlers. Game was plentiful in the extensive grasslands and fish populated the river.

There are differing stories as to how the river got its name. The Plains Indians, depending on which tribe, called it CHETOLAH OR OKESSE-SEBO. The early English and French explorers called it the RIVER OF THE PADOUCAS. It has since become known as the SMOKY HILL RIVER.

George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938—naturalist, explorer, author, anthologist) said that the name came from a large grove of cottonwood trees along the river on the Kansas/Colorado state line. The trees were very tall and could be seen for miles from the flat grasslands. It is said they looked like a cloud of smoke. The place was a gathering place for many tribes to camp and barter and visit with each other. It was also a burial grounds and a place of refuge for the Indians under Black Kettle of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864.

James R. Mead’s version differs slightly. He said that the river is named the Smoky Hill because of the buttes along the river, that when seen from afar appear hazy from smoke. James  R. Meade was a trapper and trader in the area during the years of 1850 to 1860.

Logan County,Kansas

The Smoky Hill Trail used by the Native Americans along the river was the shortest, fastest route west across Kansas. In 1858, it was traveled by those heading to the goldfields of Colorado or beyond. The Native Americans did not want to relinquish the rich land and skirmishes with settlers followed. The army set up several forts along the river. A road followed, and then as more settlers came, a railroad. In 1870, the Kansas-Pacific Railway to Denver was completed.

Smoky Hill River

The Smoky Hill River in the area of Logan County where my story takes place is only about three feet deep. Of course, this level changes dramatically depending on the rains and the melting snow. One bit of research I found interesting took place in 1868 when a drought plagued the plains and the river level was quite low. An immense herd of bison—hundreds of thousands of them (enough to cover a thirty-mile area)—came to the river to drink. The first bison were crowded out by the animals that followed, who in turn, were pushed out by those in the rear. It is said they drank the river dry!

I am collaborating with author, Lauri Robinson, in writing the stories of the people of Oak Grove. Laurie has the fortune of having lived in the area for a few years. Since I have never visited Logan County along the Smoky Hill River, I have had to lean on book and internet research of the area for my next three stories. If any of you have been there and have something you would like to add, suggest or correct—please comment! I have a feeling that I will only feel reassured of my information if I get a chance to visit the area myself. A road trip may just be in my future!

To stay in the loop on this new series, please sign up for my newsletter with the link below.

Author Website  |  Newsletter  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon Author Page

 

Wild West Words: Grub and Hooch

Kathleen Rice Adams: classic tales of the Old West...that never forget the power of love

The final three decades of the 19th Century — 1870 to 1900 — compose the period most people think of when they hear the term “Wild West.” Prior to the Civil War, westward expansion in the U.S. was a pioneering movement, and the period around the turn of the 20th Century was dominated by the Industrial Revolution. But in a scant thirty years, the American cowboy raised enough hell to leave a permanent mark on history.

Round Up on the Musselshell, Charles M. Russell, 1919

Round Up on the Musselshell, Charles M. Russell, 1919

Cowboys also left a permanent mark on American English. A whole lexicon of new words and phrases entered the language. Some were borrowed from other cultures. Others embodied inventive new uses for words that once meant something else. Still others slid into the vernacular sideways from Lord only knows where.

One of the best ways to imbue a western with a sense of authenticity is to toss in a few bits of period-appropriate jargon or dialect. That’s more difficult than one might imagine. I’m constantly surprised to discover words and phrases are either much younger or much older than I expected. Sometimes the stories behind the terms are even better than the terms themselves.

In case you ever find yourself in the midst of a herd of hunky 19th Century cowboys, here are some terms with which they be familiar. All arose in the U.S. during the 1800s.

Ball: a shot of liquor. Originated in the American West c. 1821; most commonly heard in the phrase “a beer and a ball,” used in saloons to order a beer and a shot of whiskey. “Ball of fire” meant a glass of brandy.

Barrelhouse: cheap saloon, often attached to a brothel. American English; arose c. 1875 as a reference to the barrels of beer or booze typically stacked along the walls.

Bear sign: donuts. Origin obscure, but the word was common on trail drives. Any chuckwagon cook who could — and would — make bear sign was a keeper.

Laugh Kills Lonesome, Charles M. Russell

Laugh Kills Lonesome, Charles M. Russell

Bend an elbow: have a drink.

Benzene: cheap liquor, so called because it set a man’s innards on fire from his gullet to his gut.

Booze: liquor. Prior to 1821, the word was used as a verb meaning “to drink heavily.” The change in usage may have had something to do with clever marketing on the part of Philadelphia distiller E.G. Booz.

Bottom of the barrel: of very low quality. Cicero is credited with coining the phrase, which he used as a metaphor comparing the basest elements of Roman society to the sediment left by wine.

Budge: liquor. Origin unknown, but in common use by the latter half of the 1800s. A related term, budgy, meant drunk.

Cantina: barroom or saloon. Texas and southwestern U.S. dialect from 1892; borrowed from Spanish canteen.

Chuck: food. Arose 1840-50 in the American West; antecedents uncertain.

Dead soldier: empty liquor bottle. Although the term first appeared in print in 1913, common usage is much older. Both “dead man” and “dead marine” were recorded in the context before 1892. All of the phrases most likely arose as a pun: “the spirits have departed.”

Dive: disreputable bar. American English c. 1871, probably as a figurative and literal reference to the location of the worst: beneath more reputable, mainstream establishments.

Goobers or goober peas: peanuts. American English c. 1833, likely of African origin.

Camp Cook's Troubles, Charles M. Russell

Camp Cook’s Troubles, Charles M. Russell

Grub up: eat. The word “grub” became slang for food in the 1650s, possibly as a reference to birds eating grubs or perhaps as a rhyme for “bub,” which was slang for drink during the period. 19th Century American cowboys added “up” to any number of slang nouns and verbs to create corresponding vernacular terms (i.e., “heeled up” meant armed, c. 1866 from the 1560s usage of “heel” to mean attaching spurs to a gamecock’s feet).

Gun wadding: white bread. Origin unknown, although visual similarity to the cloth or paper wrapped around the ball in muzzle-loaded weapons is likely.

Hooch: cheap whiskey, c. 1897. From Hoochinoo, the name of an Alaskan native tribe whose distilled liquor was a favorite with miners during the Klondike gold rush.

Jigger: 1.5-ounce shot glass; also, the volume of liquor itself. American English, 1836, from the earlier (1824) use of jigger to mean an illicit distillery. Origin unknown, but may be an alteration of “chigger” (c. 1756), a tiny mite or flea.

Kerosene: cheap liquor. (See benzene.)

Mescal: a member of the agave family found in the deserts of Mexico and the southwestern U.S., as well as an intoxicating liquor fermented from its juice. The word migrated to English from Aztec via Mexican Spanish before 1828. From 1885, mescal also referred to the peyote cactus found in northern Mexico and southern Texas. Dried disks containing psychoactive ingredients, often used in Native American spiritual rituals, were called “mescal buttons.”

Mexican strawberries: dried beans.

The Herd Quitter, Charles M. Russell

The Herd Quitter, Charles M. Russell

Red-eye: inferior whiskey. American slang; arose c. 1819, most likely as a reference to the physical appearance of people who drank the stuff. The meaning “overnight commercial airline flight that arrives early in the morning” arose 1965-70.

Roostered: drunk, apparently from an over-imbiber’s tendency to get his tail feathers in an uproar over little to nothing, much like a male chicken guarding a henhouse. The word “rooster” is an Americanism from 1772, derived from “roost cock.” Colonial Puritans took offense when “cock” became vulgar slang for a part of the human male anatomy, so they shortened the phrase.

Sop: gravy. Another trail-drive word, probably carried over from Old English “sopp,” or bread soaked in liquid. Among cowboys, using the word “gravy” marked the speaker as a tenderfoot.

Stodgy: of a thick, semi-solid consistency; primarily applied to food. Arose c. 1823-1825 from stodge (“to stuff,” 1670s). The noun form, meaning “dull or heavy,” arose c. 1874.

Tiswin (also tizwin): a fermented beverage made by the Apache. The original term probably was Aztecan for “pounding heart,” filtered through Spanish before entering American English c. 1875-80.

Tonsil varnish: whiskey.

Tornado juice: whiskey.

 

Save

The Oldest Revolver in Existence

oldest-revolver_1If I asked you to name the maker of the oldest revolver in existence, who would you say made it? Colt? Smith & Wesson? You’d be wrong.

The oldest revolver know to exist in the world today was made in 1597 by German weapons blacksmith Hans Stopler and it is in the collection of the Maihaugen Folk Museum in Lillehammer, Norway.

The revolver belonged to Georg von Reichwein, a well-known officer who made his name defending Norway in the wars against Sweden in the early 1600s. Reichwein bought or received the revolver in 1636, according to the inscription on the gun stocoldest-revolver_3k, the year he was promoted to major and was put in charge of the forces stationed at the Bergenhus fortress in Norway. The gun is ornately decorated, with mother of pearl and engravings, so it’s doubtful it was meant for daily use.

Though it may be the oldest known revolver, it is definitely not the earliest one ever made, because the craftsmanship and sheer refinement of the weapon says it was built on well established conventions.

Like other guns of the era it is a flintlock, but instead of a single barrel and chamber, ioldest-revolver_4t uses a rotating cylinder with eight chambers and a fixed barrel. Each cylinder has a sliding cover to protect its flash pan and prevent chain fires — lighting up more than one charge at a time. That’s a bad thing!

The big difference in this revolver? It must be manually rotated! You point, pull the trigger, rotate the cylinder to the next chamber and repeat. According to the museum curator, the revolver was “made to injure other people. Not necessarily to kill, because in war at that time the most important was to injure other soldiers.”

Want to see a bit more?  Click here!

Buried Ships of San Francisco

By Jeannie Watt

Jeannie Watt 2Hi everyone and Happy Wednesday! I was fortunate to be able to spend the past weekend in my favorite
city, San Francisco, with my family. I love the history of this city, so thought I’d share a bit about the lost ships for those that are unfamiliar with this rather unique facet of the area.

Before the California Gold Rush, San Francisco was a quiet port, with a population of several hundred
people. After the rush, the population swelled to more than 42,000–25,000 of which arrived by water.  Ships poured into the harbor, dropping off would-be prospectors, miners and speculators as well as people starting businesses to support the gold miners.

Many of the ships that anchored in the harbor never set sail again. At one point there were more than 500 ships in the harbor, many of which were totally abandoned. Eventually some of the ships were refurbished and put back into service, while others rotted away at their moorings.

A ship-breaking yard, known as Rotten Row, began operation. Crews of mostly Chinese workers would break down ships and sell the wood and metal, or re-purpose the ships into bars, businesses, hotels and storage units. There is even record of a jail and church being build out of refurbished ships.

As business boomed in San Francisco, the locals wanted to fill the shallow part of the harbor in order to allow larger ships to unload cargo in the deeper parts. The easiest way to do this was to sell water lots, which the owners were required to fill with material to bring it above sea level. In order to have title, the owner needed to have real property on the lot and an easy way to do that was to sink a ship on it, prior to filling. Another ways to get a water lot was to sink a ship on it first, and then lay claim to the land around the ship as part of the salvage. Many ships sank in the dead of night.

Map showing the original shoreline (dotted line) and the resting place of several ships.

The original coastline of San Francisco began where the hills hit the water.The flat areas that now make up the Embarcadero and Financial District were once underwater. Eventually a seawall was built in 1871, creating the current shoreline. Between the seawall and the original coasts are the remains of as many as 75 buried ships.

The Old Ship Saloon, still in operation, opened in 1851 in the hull of the Arkansas. Original patrons had to walk up a plank to enter the saloon.

Oil painting of the Niantic

Oil painting of the Niantic

The most inland known ship, the Niantic, was beached on the corner of Clay and Sansome Streets in the Financial District in 1849 and served as a storehouse until the fire of 1851 leveled her to the ground and she was buried.

The ship Euphemia became the local prison in 1850. During the day the prisoners would work on a chain gang and in the evening return to the ship to be locked in the hold. The conditions on the Euphemia worsened throughout the year and eventually a new prison was built in 1851. The fate of the Euphemia was unknown until her remains were dug up in 1921 at the corner of Battery and Sacramento streets. [Note: There is still some controversy as to whether that particular ship is the Euphemia.] In 1925 the store ship Apollo was discovered nearby.

More recent discoveries have been made and most have been reburied, with buildings going in over the top of them.

The ship Rome was discovered while building a Muni tunnel at the foot of Market Street. The ship was too large to excavate, so the tunnel was built through the hull of the ship.

If you’re ever in San Francisco, strolling along the Embarcadero, remember than you may well be literally walking over the top of the ships that helped build the city.

 

 

Spring Cleaning Time

spring clean·ing

noun: spring clean; plural noun: spring cleans; noun: spring cleaning; plural noun: spring cleanings

  1. a thorough cleaning of a house or room, typically undertaken in spring.

verb: spring-clean; 3rd person present: spring-cleans; past tense: spring-cleaned; past participle: spring-cleaned; gerund or present participle: spring-cleaning

  1. clean (a home or room) thoroughly.

cleaning ladySince this is the first weekend since Easter that dh’s and my calendars were empty, and it was supposed to rain and storm (note I said “supposed”) – it is the perfect weekend for staying off the boat and off the lake and getting our spring cleaning done.

Now, understand, I hate cleaning! About the only thing I enjoy that even remotely resembles cleaning is straightening up my bookshelves, and I don’t do that very often. Dusting? Why?? I’ll only have to do it again in a week. I’ve never understood why Carol Burnett’s iconic cleaning lady smiled, either!

However, in Missouri in the spring, we have this phenomenon known as “oak pollen.” It makes people cough and sneeze, it coats everything left outside with a sticky yellow dust that rolls into breadsticks when you try to clean it up. In a word: nasty!

Spring cleaning here in the Garrett household has less to do with the inside than getting that sticky, nasty mess off the patio furniture, the railings and the floor. So, to make myself feel less like I’m wasting my time, I opted for some quick research on, you guessed it, spring cleaning.

Of course, there’s no way to know when or why this tradition began, but I found it interesting that some researchers trace the origin of spring cleaning to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of Passover, during which they are to rid their homes of even small remnants of chametz (leavened foods) for the length of the holiday. Therefore, observant Jews conducted a thorough “spring cleaning” of the house.

Catholic churches thoroughly cleans the church altar and everything associated with it on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, in the Spring. In the Orthodox churches it is traditional to clean the house thoroughly either right before or during the first week of Great Lent, referred to as Clean Week, that corresponds with the Julian New Year, or April 1.

The Iranian practice “khooneh tekouni”, which means “shaking the house” and happens just before the Persian new year on the first day of spring, means a serious cleaning of everything from the drapes to the furniture. The Scottish do “New Year’s cleaning” on Hogmanay (December 31), a practice now also widespread in Ireland, New Zealand, and to North America.

In North America and northern Europe, the custom found an especially practical value due to those regions’ continental and wet climates. During the 19th century in America, March was often the best time for a thorough cleaning because it was getting warm enough to stop using the fireplaces and coal furnaces, open windows and doorLOTOs, and get the dust, ash and soot out of the house.   [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_cleaning]

Now, all the historical precedent in the world isn’t going to make me enjoy spring cleaning, but I do like the results when we enjoy our morning coffee on our nice clean deck.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST DREADED SPRING CHORE? (Or are you one of those unnatural types that actually like cleaning?)

 

COMING MAY 19–HER SANCTUARY.
Another story in the continuing River’s Bend series.

 

Lucille Mulhall – The First Cowgirl

Lucille Mulhall was an anomaly—a small, feminine, soft-spoken girl who beat cowboys at their own game. After gaining acclaim as a Wild West performer, Lucille became the first woman commonly known as a cowgirl.

Lucille was born in Missouri in 1885. Her family relocated to Oklahoma to homestead during the land rush of 1889. The family started with 160 acres, which they eventually parlayed into the close to 80,000 acres.

As a young girl, Lucille rode the range with the cowhands, learning to rope, ride, and shoot. According to a New York Times article, “By the age of fourteen, she could break a bronco and shoot a coyote at five-hundred yards.”

Lucille’s father started a Wild West show, Mulhall’s Congress of Rough Riders and Ropers, in the early 1900s. Lucille starred in the show while still in her teens and became one of the first women to compete against men in roping and riding events and earned many championships, including three solid gold medals for steer roping in Texas, a cutting horse title and the title of World’s Champion Lady Roper.

When she performed in Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1905, she took the city by storm. A report in a New York newspaper said, “Against these bronzed and war-scarred veterans of the plains, a delicately featured blonde girl appeared. Slight of figure, refined and neat in appearance, attired in a becoming riding habit for hard riding, wearing a picturesque Mexican sombrero and holding in one hand a lariat of the finest cowhide, Lucille Mulhall comes forward to show what an eighteen-year-old girl can do in roping steers. In three minutes and thirty-six seconds, she lassoed and tied three steers. The veteran cowboys did their best to beat it, but their best was several seconds slower than the girl’s record breaking time. The cowboys and plainsmen who were gathered in large numbers to witness the contest broke into tremendous applause when the championship gold medal was awarded to the slight, pale-faced girl.”

As she gained fame, newspapers gave Lucille many names: Ranch Queen, Cowboy Girl, Female Conqueror or Beef and Horn, Lassoer in Lingerie, Dead Shot Girl, Daring Beauty of
the Plains, Queen of the Range. The name that stuck was Cowgirl.

Will Rogers was a member of Mulhall’s Wild West Show and helped Lucille hone her roping skills.  He wrote, “Lucille’s achievement in competition with cowboys was the direct start of what has since come to be known as The Cowgirl. Lucille was the first cowgirl.” Teddy Roosevelt also admired Lucille’s skills. He visited the Mulhall ranch and invited the Mulhall family to his inauguration. Geronimo gave her a beaded vest and Indian bow, which she treasured.

Lucille was a natural horse woman and known for her training abilities.She said, “My system of training consists of three things: patience, perseverance, and gentleness. Gentleness I consider one of the greatest factors in successful training.” Her horse, Governor, knew over forty tricks.

Lucille performed in other Wild West shows and toured Europe, performing for the crowned heads there.  She retired from world travel in 1917, but continued performing into the 1930s.

She was married twice, both marriages lasting only a few years.  Her first marriage produced a son. She died at the age of 55 in a car crash close to her home and was posthumously inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the 1970s.

Welcome Becca Whitham and a Give Away!

Welcome to Becca Whitham! Today Becca  is giving away a print copy of The Cowboy’s Bride Collection, but she won’t be able to mail the book until April. Anticipation is a good thing, right? Join me in welcoming Becca!

I’m exciCowboys Bride coverted to be a guest on Petticoats and Pistols today. A big thank you to Karen Witemeyer for hosting me.

My latest release is a novella called “Cowboy Competition” which is part of The Cowboy’s Bride Collection.  While researching, I discovered a distressing story about horses starving to death on the Great Plains during the mid-1800’s. The story was connected to the US Cavalry which imported people and horses from all over the country. Born and bred on richer grasses, the horses couldn’t survive on the less nutritious prairie grass so oats and corn were shipped in.  If a train carrying the supplemental food was delayed, the horses died. Several solutions were devised. One was to grow corn and oats in Texas, and the hazards these farmers faced are worth a story of their own. The second was to take horses born and bred on the plains and train them to be cavalry horses.

The reaction to this second idea was mixed, and that’s what I used in myBlaze story. My hero, Toby, is certain the army will pay fistfuls for trained horses that can survive without supplemental oats and corn. The fastest and cheapest way to start was to round up wild mustangs who roamed the plains. My heroine, Nia, thinks Toby’s loco because mustangs are called wild for a reason! If you’ve ever seen a bronco busting rodeo event, you understand why Nia was concerned.

History records that, starting in 1849, the army began to purchase prairie bred horses—as many as they could get their hands on. Bronco busting became big business. (Try saying that five times fast!) So Toby was right. But Nia was right, too. Not everyone can tame a wild mustang. It takes a very special person to do it.  If you don’t believe me, here’s a link to a movie called Wild Horse, Wild Ride.

The enduring appeal of a cowboy is centered on a man tough enough to tame a wild mustang but gentle enough to earn its trust. These men are the stuff of legend…and romance.

***

12528Becca Whitham (WIT-um) is a multi-published author who has always loved reading and writing stories. After raising two children, she and her husband faced the empty nest years by following their dreams: he joined the army as a chaplain, and she began her journey toward publication. Becca loves to tell stories marrying real historical events with modern-day applications to inspire readers to live Christ-reflecting lives. She’s traveled to almost every state in the U.S. for speaking and singing engagements and has lived in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Alaska. Website.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015