Guest Blogger: Joyce Henderson

joyce-henderson.jpgI’m thrilled to be here on Petticoat & Pistols. The fillies milling around in this corral are some of my favorite writers. J

For those who don’t know me or my work, I wrote for 20 years prior to first publication in 2005. You can get a little insight into me if you go to my web site, which I constructed myself, ugh, and keep up after a fashion, That said, what comes to mind out of my long years of experience to talk about here? Family, I guess, and some of the stories behind why I write Historical Native American Westerns. My maternal great-grandparents migrated to Central Texas in 1900, from Tennessee and Georgia.

I don’t know much about my biological father’s relatives. Although, his family is rumored to have some Native American blood mixed in somewhere back in history, but I’ve never been able to pin down anything definitive in that regard. Mother escaped a bad marriage by hauling me out a window, literally, when I was three years old, and packing me off to Southern California where I grew up.

My roots are firmly planted in the 60-acres of rocky Texas soil my maternal great-grandparents farmed. Not having a lot of money, they couldn’t hire much help. So what did folks do in those days to get cheap labor to clear trees and stumps, dislodge those rocks, and build a house that stood until 1980?

William Lamar Yancy Bond, March 26, 1861 – August 8, 1931
Bethana Ada Morgan Bond, October 18, 1887 – August 19, 1962
Nuptials photo August 16, 1885

In the case of my intrepid ancestors, William Lamar Yancy Bond and Bethany Ada Morgan Bond proceeded to grow their own farm workers—twelve youngin’s. I marveled at my great-grandma, who was in a wheelchair the last 25 years of her life because a broken foot wouldn’t heal (diabetes), and wondered how she managed to birth strapping children. She was all of 4′ 10 or 11″ and weighed maybe 90 pounds soaking wet.

On the other hand, my great-grandpa was a barrel-chested six-footer—and answered to that little squirt he married. Yessiree, he sure did! I think most women who migrated west were tough little ladies, or they never would have made the journey. So many survived and even flourished with few amenities, and most certainly fought the miseries of dirt, rain, biting wind and snow.

The Bonds built a three-room house, with outhouse, a small barn for the plow horse and milk cow, and a chicken pen right next to the barn. They had a few pigs, and the kids tended a small herd of cattle that was mostly raised for beef.

I don’t know how, or from whom they got to help them dig a well, maybe grandpa and the boys did it themselves. But water was piped into the side of the kitchen, and a hand pump was situated over a sink. Voila, indoor plumbing! 

The third room in the house was like a barracks along the side of the kitchen and the room with the fireplace that served as the living room. In those days, grandma and her daughters made all their clothes and bedding. And that meant, a quilt frame was forever part of the main room, suspended from the ceiling with ropes, and could be lowered to accommodate the women sitting on either side to quilt. Woe be to the girl who failed to sew tiny, neat stitches in those quilts!  

People of today think cigarettes are disgusting. Um, my great-grandma and my grandma both dipped snuff. Now there’s a disgusting habit! And you know, my great-grandma never owned a toothbrush. Eeww! It’s true. She used the burnt end of a wooden match stick to clean her teeth. I think she had every tooth in her head the day she died.

There was a narrow stream not too far from the house where the kids and grandpa, more often than not, bathed. Winter forced them all inside to the round tin tub that grandma used year-round.

They had one luxury, or what might be considered a luxury. A chiming wall clock hung just inside the front door. It was great-grandpa’s pride and joy, I guess. Interestingly, he died at, as I recall, 6:10 in the evening. The clock stopped at the precise moment of his death and never ran again.

You may now understand why I write about farm life. For me, the mid 1800’s to early 1900 hold a never-ending fascination and, specifically, my family’s history. How many of you have tales about your family history to tell?  

the-edge-of-the-stars.jpgFrom those who leave a comment, I will draw a name and send that person signed copies of  my two 2005 releases, WALKS IN SHADOW and WRITTEN ON THE WIND, both now out of stock. A second name drawn will receive a signed copy of TO THE EDGE OF THE STARS.

Check back here to see who won, and then email your address so I can send out the books right away.   

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39 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Joyce Henderson”

  1. Hi Joyce,
    thanks for sharing your family history with us! I love to listen to my grandmother when she tells stories about her childhood (she is now 94 years old), when she and her sister shared shoes in the winter and went to school every second day, snow to her knees and 3 miles to walk. The shoes were made of paper!
    I’m happy we have real shoes today!!
    I’ll put your Walks in Shadows on my Christmas wish list…

  2. I’ve heard numerous stories through my mom’s side of the family, though her father’s mother’s side is very hard to trace- I can’t find anything further back than her though I think. It’s rumored we have Cherokee through my great grandma’s side, but since we can’t find out anything about her family, it makes it difficult to know for certain.

    One of the stories I remember most though was the story my grandma used to tell me about when my grandpa was in WWII. She told him she’d wait for him, even though just before that she’d been aggravated with him. They wrote letters all the time(though I’m not sure if the letters were kept) and they had made a vow that if either of them ever found someone else and fell in love, they’d write with a red ink pen to let the other down gently.

    My grandpa came home around the holidays from Fort Campbell in 1944 and they were married on December 23rd before he was shipped back out. He came back home in July of 1945 on leave and my grandma got pregnant with my oldest uncle. My grandfather stayed too long and was considered AWOL, so when he returned he was thrown in the Army prison.

    My grandma of course didn’t hear from him for a long time and she was heartbroken. She thought he might be dead and by that time she knew she was pregnant. She finally received a letter from my grandfather, explaining what had happened to him, but to her devastation, it was written in red ink. Though he hadn’t mentioned finding someone else, she was hurt and thought he didn’t want her anymore and here she was pregnant with his child.

    She wrote him back, distraught. He wrote back to her and as it turned out, while he was in prison, a red ink pen was the only one he could get his hands on. That was the only reason it was written in red. When he was discharged from the Army in 1946, they went on to have my other two uncles, my mom and my aunt and were together until my grandfather passed in 1991.

    A somewhat sad side note of this story is that in 2001, my mom found someone looking for my grandfather’s side of the family. She told me and I investigated, contacted the man who was searching and I found out that his ex-wife was my 1/2 aunt by my grandpa. Her mother had been stationed at Fort Campbell when my grandfather was. She had gotten pregnant with my half-aunt in February of 1945, only 2 months after my grandparents had married. At some point the woman went home to have her baby and my grandfather supposedly signed his rights away.

    We don’t know ANY of the story behind it because both my grandparents had passed by the time I found my half-aunt and whether my grandmother was ever aware of this other woman or the child she and my grandfather took it to their grave My half-aunt’s mother kept the secret of her real father’s identity right up till she passed away. So my half-aunt doesn’t know anymore about it than we do. We don’t know if my grandfather loved both women, or whether my half-aunt’s mother was a fling or something. It’s all shrouded in mystery and I doubt we’ll ever know the truth.

    I mean, my grandfather did come home to my grandma, but suppose the red ink story was actually his attempt to tell my grandmother he wanted a divorce to be with my half-aunt’s mother, but then changed his mind when he found out my grandmother was also pregnant. It altered that cherished story I always begged my grandma told me, but I’ve gotten used to the idea of how things were back then, and now I have a 1/2 aunt, 5 first cousins(something I didn’t have on my mom’s side at all) and a bunch of 2nd/3rd cousins.

    Have a great Saturday!

  3. Hi Joyce!
    Your family history is interesting. We have no farmers in ours that I know of. All I know of my family is that there was a sailor on one side and a maid. Everyone that I know of lived in or around cities although everyone is now located in suburbia.

  4. Joyce, welcome, welcome! Thank you for visiting us at Petticoats and Pistols. Your blog was fascinating–and made me realize all over again how good we have it these days.

  5. Taryn, enjoyed reading your family history, too. I’m sure you were all insanely curious to learn all the details of your grandfather’s affair. Interesting stuff!

  6. Good morning.

    Eva, Walks In Shadow is out of print, as is Written On The Wind. You can try bookstores and ask if they have a copy in their warehouses. I’m having book signings (yesterday and today) for TO THE EDGE OF THE STARS, and BAM nor Waldenbooks could get copies of Walks or Written so I could sign back list if people wanted them.


    Thanks for the web site, I’ll pass it on to my son-in-law, who is heavily into geneology, and just the other day sent me some new information on my biological father’s side…which is where the Native American blood rumor lies.

    He said he’d gotten the McGlothlin family tree back to the 1700’s…nary a NA in the mix. However, he did say that second or third cousins a couple times removed I’m related to Kathryn Hepburn and Booker T. Washington. Washington’s relation tickles me to death. I can just imagine how those later relations would have reacted to knowing and black slave had been mixed into the blood line. But, hey, I’m sure all those white folks back then thought nothing of bedding their slaves. Besides, Washington turned out to be one helluva educator!


    My step father (I called him Daddy because he was from the time I was three) was one of four boys. He had flat feet, and during WWII that was grounds for 4F rating. Jack, his youngest brother, served but late in the war, and never saw overseas duty. His brother Luzon, however, was on Guadalcanal, and when he returned home he stayed at our house for a while. His room was next to mine. Many a night he woke me yelling for some friend, or weeping over the death of one, reliving that hell in his sleep.

    That your grandmother didn’t know about her beloved’s straying may have been a blessing. It does make it tough for those left who are interested in that era and find out bits and pieces of an ancestor’s transgressions…out of the marriage bed.


    On my husband’s side, his folks were tight-lipped about family. His mom didn’t even like anyone to know their ages. His grandmother Mamie Morton was a tough old bird, widowed at age 39. And, get this, she lived with Mom and Dad Henderson all their married lives except for six month. Dad Henderson (WWI veteran) was an absolute saint! 🙂

    When my youngest daughter, married to son-in-law who’s researching the family, took a long trip back to our roots, his too, they swung up into, I think it was Rapid City, and found Bob’s grandfather Morton’s grave. We had been told by both Mom H. and Grandma Morton that Harry was a businessman and died of a heart attack. When my daughter got a copy of the death certificate for our records, it said he died of scerosis of the liver. in other words, he was a falling-down drunk, litrally. He may have died of a heart attack, too, when he fell of the barstool, but his liver was gone! Oh, the the businesman part? He owned the saloon.

  7. Hi Joyce! Welcome to our humble little ranch. We’re really proud to have you come visit. Loved the family history you shared. Your great grandmother must’ve been quite a stick of dynamite. I’d like to have known her. She was tough as a boot as those who were crazy enough to cross her probably found out. I think I see glimpses of her in Kalen Barrett. I haven’t finished reading “To The Edge of the Stars” but I love the story. Great hero name too—Taylor Savage. You had me hooked at the first word. Savage burned into the timber over the gate to the ranch. I wanted to know more immediately. Kalen’s a scrapper but so full of pride. It’s no wonder sparks fly between her and Taylor. Excellent story!

    My family was so poor the church mice looked rich. From as far back as I’ve been able to trace, they worked other people’s fields, never owning a parcel of land themselves. They had so much pride though in themselves and their jobs. They believed if a job was worth doing it had to be done right. And also if you started something, finish it. They passed that on to me. I feel the same way and hopefully I’ve taught it to my children. The worth of a person doesn’t have to be measured in dollars.

    Excellent, heartfelt post! I’m so glad you’re here and I hope you come back again. Best of luck with your writing. Do you have anything else in the works?

  8. wow!, what a story that’s really neat about the clock stopping when he died. Every year i had a dream around my sister in law’s Birthday after she died(giving birth to their last child) every year it would pick up where it left off from before,I called my mom and told her because they were so real and she was convicing me she was still here and she was fine my mom ask me you realize this is near her birthday and i had not thought of this but this went on for 5 years. one night i had cleaned the whole house, i wanted to do something special for my husband and I lit all the candles in the house except one i tried several times to light it but it would not light. He even noticed when he came home because he ask me about it well, around 8:00 I blew out all the candles and went to bed the next morning i came down stairs and 1 candle was burning and i turned cold when i realized which one it was and i even looked at how much wax was burned and it would be comparable to 30 min. of burn time. I ran up stairs and ask my husband if he ever got the candle to light because it was burning down stairs and he said i must not have blown it out good and i said no that it was never lit and he came down stairs and saw it and he said for me to never tell anyone that story they would not believe me, anyway i never had anymore dreams about her and my brother past away 5 years later. I know they’re together now

  9. Thanks for sharing your fascinating history. My family goes back to PA before the Revolutionary War on both sides, with a book printed on my father’s side.

  10. Thank for sharing family history. I would like to make a family tree about my family, but that isn’t possible. Both my grandmother and grandfather don’t know who their father is. So I’m a bit stuck there. It would have been fun to see how far I could go back.

  11. I have goosebumps over that clock! I love hearing about everyone’s backgrounds. My husband’s uncle has been working on geneology for a long time and has gone back a couple hundred of years! All my grandparents came from Sicily and I’ve heard many stories of ow everyone lived (large families of course). My mom is 85 and she still comes up with stories I haven’t heard (and a lot that I have over and over lol). Isn’t it amazing how much times have changed?

  12. Hi!

    Just got home from a wonderful book signing. Sold out in a little over an hour. Left ’em ordering! That’s the way I like it. 🙂

    To those who stopped by to welcome me, thanks. I’m having a lot of fun reading these posts.

    Linda Broday,

    I sort of fall in love with most of my hero’s, and my heroine’s usually take a page from an ancestor or moi. 🙂 There are two scenes in To the Edge of the Stars that I actually saw first hand. My daughter fell while competing in a gymkhana, and the other thing that happens to Uncle Jed. Only in real life that happened to a child.

    Yes, I am about 260-80 pages into another story about a full-blood Comanche and a spitfire redhead. What else would you expect? 🙂 It isn’t sold yet.


    You tale about your sister-in-law is far more eerie than my clock story! Shivers.

    Jeanne Sheats,

    Geneology searches are a lifetime endeavor, I think. My family makes it easy to find scenarios to draw from, though. i.e: I said my great-grandma birthed 12. My grandma had six by her first husband, who died working on the railroad, and my mother was next to the youngest in that batch, and then Grandma remarried and had four more.

    Grandma was not much bigger than her mother, either. And, this is the fun part, she had her last as my mother had me. In other words, I am 20 minutes older than my aunt, who is my mother’s half sister. Then, my mother had her last child two months ahead of schedule or she and I would have birthed in the same month when I had my first. In other words, two generations of mothers and daughters were pregnant at the same time.

    Oh, it gets better…and more confusing. My step dad and his brother married my mother and her half-sister in the second batch my grandma produced. Got that?

    Oh, it gets more confusing. When my grandmother married her second husband, her oldest daughter married her new husband’s brother. So I think that means I have double cousins in two generation…or something like that

    “I’m my own grandpa…” surely fits my family.

  13. Hi Joyce. Thank you so much for sharing your family history with us. It is amazing how strong and resilent our ancestors were.

  14. Congratulations on selling out at your booksigning! That’s what I call a success any day. I know you were ecstatic. I’m glad you’re working on a new story. You have such talent for drawing realistic characters.

  15. Your family history was very interesting. I don’t know much about my other then we started out in Irland. That’s about all I know. I do need to do some research.

  16. My family history has always fascinated me. It is amazing to see family resemblances generations back. I ask my grandmother questions all the time about her relatives and sometimes I think she thinks I am crazy for asking so many questions! But, if I don’t ask the questions now, I may never have the answers to them!! LOL

  17. I enjoyed your family history, Joyce, and I have your new book on my “wish list” since I love Native American historicals/westerns. Happy Holidays!

  18. I was re-reading your story and wanted to mention about everyone using the tub. I remember my grandmother and her friends making quilts by hand and tobacco sticks they were attached to while they were sewing them stitch by stitch. i just turned 43 this year and my grand parents past away when i was around 14 but i remember my mom taking me outside when i was small to the outhouse to use the bathroom and i thought that was odd they were living in a totally different erra than us i remember when they got their first phone how exciting i understand since i’m getting older it’s not so easy to adjust to new things when the way you do them already works. They would be blown away with how things have changed.

  19. You have some great family history! The reason I love writing about the 1800’s is the fact women and men had to be strong and resourceful to make the trek West and then live wherever they settled. Just that struggles and then coupling it with the relationships makes for great reading.

    I had a great, great uncle on my dad’s side who lived in Nebraska and took lots of photos of the changing of that country and the Indians. And my great, great grandfather on my mother’s side was of German descent. He was working on a ship to pay off a debt and when it was docked near San Francisco, he jumped ship and swam ashore. He hid for a while then became well known as a cultivator of wine grapes. His plant even won a prize at the World’s Fair in the early 1900’s.

    Great topic!

  20. Estella,

    Your name conjours my mother’s sister right below her in line of birth, Estelle. Loved that lady to death! My mother’s siblings have died in order of birth. W.T., Wesley died from lock jaw when he was six from jumping on a nail to pound it into the crack in the floor. Well, his older brother told him to! Then there was Audie Mae, Clarence, my mother Ethel, and then Estelle. In the second batch there was Doris, Betty Jo, Jimmy Earl, and Naomi. All pretty oldfashioned names.

    Linda Broday,

    While I think my stories are character driven, I hear from many of my readers that I “must have been there” because my scenes are so realistic. In some cases I was. 🙂


    Don’t let your grandmother slip away without asking a gazillion questions. Once they are gone much is lost, and that’s a cryin’ shame.

    Thank you to others who plan to read my book. I hope you enjoy Kalen’s and Taylor’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    On another note… My husband’s grandmother died in about 1968, I think it was. She had traveled to Nebraska by covered wagon. They buried one of her little sisters on the trail, six-year-old Alice. But what always tickled me about Grandma Morton, she pshaw the “circle the wagons” scenes in shows like Wagon Train. Some of you may not be old enough to remember that show on TV. But Grandma Morton would shake her head. “Wasn’t anything like that when we crossed in the wagon,” she’d say. Most Indians we encountered were just plain hungry and asked for food.”

    The theme that you’ll see running through all my books is, I want to believe that intermarriage and half-breed births were not always from rape and pillage. I want to believe that there were instances of meeting and falling in love, and damn the consequences on either side of the war paint. Not easy, I’m sure, but surely there were folks who looked past the skin and embraced a different culture.

    As I recall from my research, Cynthia Ann Parker’s mate, Nocoma was his name I think, died in the raid in which she was captured and taken back to the white world. After her little daughter died, she grieved herself to death when her “white” family would not let her return to her Indian people.

    If that wasn’t love, I don’t know what is. What say you, ladies?

  21. Oops, I missed your post Paty Jager!

    Wine, eh? My dh was an agricultural engineer for 40 years, and designed irrigation systems for grape vineyards in Southern California and also avocado groves and orange groves, pastures, etc. He traveled to Iran to design a system for jojobas, and left just ahead of the Shah in 1978. His work took him to Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerta Rico, Jamaica, and of course here to Florida. That’s why we moved here (ran away from home to hear my son tell it) in 1983.

    On our ranch in California, besides horses, we had pigs, goats, one sheep (dumbest animal alive!), beef cattle, chickens and the assortment of cats and dogs. We grew avocados, oranges, cherimoya, and we were one of the first farmers to plant Kiwi in Southern California. And let me tell you, I can pick limes with the best of ’em. One season I picked 3000 pounds by my lonesome!
    And I canned all kinds of vegetables from our garden. Lordy, was I domestic in those days. 🙂 Although, I was also busy doing the books and typing all those bills of materials for my hubby’s irrigation jobs, plus I was a part-time manager with an international cosmetics ompany. I didn’t let any grass grow under my feet, you might say.

  22. I am continually entertained by your books and their wonderful plots, Joyce. They just keep getting better and better. While Westerns generally aren’t the “horse-I-ride-in-on”, yours are too good to leave unread. I’m looking forward to that next one!

  23. Glad I stopped by. I loved reading your family’s stories. You’re right about the frontier women (and men) being amazingly tough. And so resourceful.

    Great blog, ladies! Waving hi to the talented Linda Broday, too!

  24. What a great topic you picked, Joyce! Thanks for being our guest at P&P! Don’t be a stranger here, either. Wildflower Junction will roll out the red carpet any time you stop by.

    Thanks so much for sharing your grandparents’ story.

  25. I loved reading about your family history. A distant relative on my momma’s dad’s side of the family was putting a family history together some quite some time back. That side of the family has lived in South Texas since the early 1800’s. There is some talk about one of my ancestors owning property that later became the King Ranch. Before coming to America that same side of the family came from Spain, where there is still a town with the family name. I’d love to learn more about my family history.

  26. Good morning!

    Second day of fun stuff to read on Petticoats & Pistols. 🙂

    Lynnette, Colleen and Christie, thanks for stopping by.


    I’m so fortunate that my daughter and son-in-law began delving into our familys’ histories, and now he keeps researching. As I said earlier, I think it takes a lifetime of dedicated digging to do it right. Oh yeah, in that regard, their digging has unearthed the fact that my daughter may have married her cousin many times removed. His grandmother is a Morgan from the same area of Georgia as my great-grandma “Morgan” Bond.


    You mentioned first phones. My folks first telephone hung on the wall in the hallway. It was a party line, and one had to listen before dialing to get the operator because someone might be talking already. I had to get a chair to stand on to use it. In those party-line days privacy was not an option. LOL

    My folks owned a grocery store and left for work quite early. I was left alone (today they’d be considered neglectful!) long before I had to walk to school. I had to clean up the kitchen, and then in the afternoon I had to get dinner started before they got home. I was an only child until I was 15, so that routine was a way of life from age seven until Mother stayed home to have her baby. Then of course, two years later we were pregnant at the same time.

    My mom didn’t hesitate to wield a switch when I was growing up. There are only a few things I can remember doing that I deserved a switching. Naomi, my aunt, the one who was my age, was a “fraidy cat” and I was a tomboy. I remember coaxing her to climb the grape arbor trellis behind me, then I pushed her out. When we were five, we both got skates. Same scenario, fraidy cat wouldn’t roll down the short grassy knoll to the sidewalk. Yeah, I pushed her again. You might say I was the female Dennis the Menace. LOL

    I had to cross railroad tracks on my way to school. “Never crawl under a train stopped on the tracks blocking your way,” said Mother. Uh-huh, that was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. She never found out that I did that though until after I was grown and married.

    Another first in my family. We had the first TV on our street, late 40’s. Can’t remember the exact year…1947, 48, 49? Anyway, we along with all the neighbors were glued to that screen day after day and night after night for I can’t remember how long when little Kathy Fiskus, or Fiscus, fell into an abandoned well. So tragic that they couldn’t save her like they did another tyke a few years later.

  27. Oh for heaven’s sake! I just noticed in my original post that the first time I wrote Bethana rather than Bethany for Grandma Bond’s name. It was Bethany, although everyone called her Ada.

  28. Hi Joyce – great story. Thanks for sharing!

    I just managed to trace my paternal family history from 1300’s France (to Kentucky). Very interesting, indeed. My maternal side goes back to Italy (my grandparents migrated here in the early 1900’s), so I have a ways to go with that side of my family.

    I love Genealogy and learning about my ancestors (which is probably why I love to write historicals).

    Happy Holidays!

  29. Welcome! Thank you for sharing about your family. My grandmother does genealogy and I enjoy hearing about people’s family history. I haven’t done any of my own research though. Most of my ancestors are all Georgians. My grandmother gave me some photos of some of my ancestors and it is amazing to see how fashion, photography, and life has changed. My grandfather used to tell us that we all had it too easy nowadays.

    Your book looks wonderful…that cover and title is gorgeous. It sounds like a great read!

  30. To all the fillies at the Junction, thanks so much for having me bed down for the weekend. It was a lot of fun. I’ll certainly stop in and see others as the new year unfolds.

    My fondest wish is that one and all have a blessed holiday and a happy, healthy New Year.

    I’ll mosey along now. Will check tomorrow to see who Cheryl drew to receive my books. If you are one of two winners, send me your mailing address so I can get them out right away. Cheers.

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