Prison Life in the 1880s

Good morning! Once again, I find myself caught up researching an interesting topic for my latest release, THE OUTLAW’S REDEMPTION (July 2013). This time, I’ve had to delve into prisons and prison life in the 1880’s. Not the best of times to be convicted of a crime, or to be a lawman for that matter. We’ll start with the lawman.

Like today, once the conviction and sentencing of a criminal were handed down, a U.S. marshal was assigned the job of escorting the prisoner to the state or federal penitentiary where he would serve out his time. The marshal didn’t have his own office or holding cells. He relied on local sheriffs for temporary jail space, rented by the week, until he could transfer his prisoner to his permanent cell. This posed several problems, including arguments over jurisdiction, as well as coming up with the necessary money to rent the space. There was also the matter of who was supposed to watch the prisoner in the interim between conviction and transfer.

If you’ve seen the movie 3:10 Yuma, you have an idea of the problems a frontier U.S. Marshal encountered while escorting a man to prison. As you can imagine, there were many opportunities for escape along the route, beginning in the local holding cell. A frontier U.S. Marshal needed to be a hard, ruthless, seasoned lawman. The movie True Grit (either version) gives a relatively accurate depiction of such a man.

Now let’s talk about the convicted outlaw. The life of a prisoner a century and a half ago was very different from today. Considered less than human, prisoners were treated like animals. Thus they were deprived of liberties and declared slaves to society. A frontier prison received, on average, about fifty new detainees a year. Once inside, the prisoner was assigned a small cell made of hard walls, floors covered in dirt and rodents, and a bed, the latter only if he was lucky. This bed was usually nothing more than a wooden bench. Food was rationed out and not especially hardy or healthy. The convict was expected to work for his stay. Usual activities included carpentry, blacksmithing, shoe cobbling, clothing repair, brick manufacturing and general maintenance.

Because the system was not altogether organized at the time, prisons had a hard time making ends meet. One source of revenue was the contracting of prison labor outside the prison. Often a company would furnish the materials, machinery and supervision for the manufacture of a specific product. The prison then provided the labor, factory space and maintenance of said labor in return for a small fee per man-hour. An interesting side note, it wasn’t until around 1900 that prison labor was used for highway construction (what we think of as chain gangs). Prison reform didn’t kick into high gear until the early nineteen hundreds. Often, the conditions were so terrible prisoners died of dehydration and/or starvation.

Times have certainly changed.

Phyliss has a winner and it’s …

I had a great day blogging and hope you all did, too. I put everybody’s names in a hat and drew a name. And, the winner is  …

                                                  Vickie Couturier

Vickie, if you’ll send me your snail mail address to, I’ll get an autographed copy of A Texas Christmas off to you right away!

Congratulations, Vickie!

The Rebel’s Way Home …

I love the history behind the Civil War, particularly those little known facts that make for great conversation.  I came across one such oddity and thought it’d be fun to share it with you all.

It was often necessary to deliver goods, as well as medical supplies, behind enemy lines. My story is about Joshua Moon, Jr. and his young son, Columbus.

The southern Wagoner often delivered goods behind Union lines and was able to help escaping Confederate prisoners both night and day … on his way back home “down South.”

By night the father and son duo could ride the otherwise empty wagon in the relative safety of the dark. By day, though, any interested Union soldier could take a gander at what was in their wagon. However, in most cases the Yankees taking a look paid little attention to the tree boughs laid out on the wagon bed. Only once did an inspecting Yankee ever ask about them and he was easily put off by the elder Moon’s explanation that the branches were just a fool notion of his son.

Their real purpose was quite different. One of the little known facts about the Civil War.

The Moons were using the tree boughs to mark the route home for Rebel compatriots following on foot during the daylight as best they could. To avoid detection, the escaping prisoners clung to the wood along the road, as much as possible, but they at least knew where they were going thanks to the Wagoner and his son. That was because at crucial turns and forks in the road, the Moons dropped off the tree boughs to point out the proper pathway leading to their homeland in the South.

Do you have any little down oddity of the Civil War, or any other war for that matter, that you’d like to share? I know we’d all love to hear about them.

With the holiday season coming on, I’ll give away to one lucky winner a copy of our anthology “A Texas Christmas”.



The winner of Candlelight Christmas is
I will email you to arrange to delivery your ebook
If you don’t hear from me, please email me and
mary @ maryconnealy . com
And remember, if you didn’t win,
Candlelight Christmas
by Linda Goodnight and Mary Connealy
is availabe right now for only $2.99 on Amazon
This is an ebook but if you don’t have a Kindle you can download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac and read the book from your desktop.
Check it out here.

And thank you all for hanging around Petticoats & Pistols and enjoying our big launch of our new look!!!!!!!

The Springfield 1873 Trapdoor Rifle

The Springfield 1873 Trapdoor Rifle is one we’ve probably seen in photographs and in Hollywood movies, but I doubt many of us realized the impact this rifle had on warfare of the period.

A redesign of an earlier trapdoor system, the Springfield 1873 was the first standard-issue breech-loading rifle adopted by the US Army. It saw lots of action in the battles with the American Indians, including at The Battle of Little-Bighorn. To the left is a picture from 1866 of Apache Chief Geronimo holding a Springfield Trapdoor rifle.

The rifle was named for its hinged breech block, which opened like a trapdoor allowing rapid loading of the single-shot weapon. With a barrel nearly 33 inches and an overall length of 52 inches, the rifle used .45-70-405 bullets: that means .45 caliber, 405-grain bullet propelled by 70 grains (4.5 grams) of black powder. With that kind of firepower, it was an effective weapon for the shooter.

Springfield also made the 1873 rifle in a half-stock, shorter barrelled carbine version, which fired bullets with less powder—and less recoil—for mounted cavalry soldiers.

The 1873 trapdoor was originally designed to fire copper cartridges rather than brass, but they expanded more in the breech, causing jamming. While a foot soldier could drop back and use a knife blade to clear the jam, a cavalry soldier found himself carrying a rifle that was only useful as a  rather fancy club.

The black powder Model 1873 continued to be the main service rifle of the U.S. Military until it was gradually replaced by a bolt-action rifle using smokeless powder in 1892. It still was used by secondary units during the Spanish–American War in Cuba and in the Philippines,

By the way, if you include a Springfield 1873 Trapdoor in your story—or any black-powder weapon—remember the shooter can’t hide. The haze of bluish smoke would give away their position every time. 

Melissa Cutler’s Winner!


Woo-H00! Now I have no doubt Miss Melissa is a true cowboy lover. She was wonderful yesterday and livened up the Junction.

I folded up all the names real neat like and put them in my Stetson.



I’m dancin’ a jig for you, Catslady!! No need for  you to do anything except wait for someone to contact you for your mailing particulars. Oh, and get ready to read a really good book about a handsome cowboy.

Filly New Release Update – Nov 2012

Listed below are the upcoming releases from our talented writers here at Wildflower Junction.  To purchase any of these fine books, just click on the book covers.  And to learn more about the authors, click on their names.


By Donna Alward

A week before Christmas, city girl Hope McKinnon finds herself snowbound with rugged rancher and all round do-gooder Blake Nelson. What is it about this handsome, generous man that has her blood boiling and her pulse racing?

Blake knows his ranch is the last place that Hope wants to be, but somehow her presence feels so right! Hope is the first woman guarded Blake has wanted to be around for a long time. Her visit may be temporary, but he has one more night to convince her to stay….




INTO THE FIRE (First Responders, Book 3)
By Donna Alward

The last person firefighter Chris Jackson expects to rescue from a burning animal shelter is Ally Gallant—his ex-fiancée. Even though three years have passed since she gave him back his ring, one look at her frightened face in the haze of a smoky building is all it takes for him to realize he’ll still do anything to protect her.

Ally’s put her heart and soul into the shelter, and she’s devastated when it’s destroyed. What’s more, Chris is suddenly there for her in ways she doesn’t expect—ways she’s sure she doesn’t deserve—as she makes decisions about her future. Then there’s the not-so-small matter of the blazing passion between them that refuses to be extinguished.

But when Chris is injured while on a call, Ally’s reminded of all the reasons she walked away. Now she must look deep within herself to find the courage to put fear on the back burner and step into the fire—into love.

Warning: Adorable dogs, a hot firefighter and five-alarm passion. Fire extinguisher (or cold shower) highly recommended.



 ANGEL CHILD (Book Six, Hearts Crossing Ranch series)
By Tanya Hanson

 Determined to get her life back on track,  Mary Grace Gibson takes on a substitute-teaching  job, grateful for the room and board offered at Hearts Crossing Ranch. The bustling family life helps her heal after abandonment by her ex. But her little boy’s serious disabilities make her cautious about revealing her secrets to anybody. Even Scott Martin, the handsome cowboy who’s fast stealing her heart.

Her former student now grown up, cowboy and graphic artist Scott Martin is instantly drawn to the beautiful single mom. She’s had some hard luck but never let go of her faith. Their age gap doesn’t fret him, and their kisses ignite his love. But as they fall for each other, Mary Grace’s lack of trust in him shatters his feelings, for he’s been down that broken trail before.

How can he assure her he’s different from the man who hurt her and neglected her son?


By Tanya Hanson

 Goodhearted outlaw “Canyon” Jack Ransom grows a conscience after thieving horseflesh from a rich old lady who reminds him of his gram-maw. Remembering the deathbed promise he gave her –to learn to read, he hires Eliza Willows, a beautiful schoolmarm, to get himself some learnin’.

Turns out Eliza is the old lady’s granddaughter. Believing Jack is a “tracker”, she hires him to find her granny’s missing horses. Falling in love is easy and wonderful–until their secrets come out. Despite those little setbacks, getting snowbound on Christmas Eve only adds to their fun!



By Cheryl Pierson

A four-story Western collection from award-winning author, Cheryl Pierson.  It includes:

A Night for Miracles
Widow Angela Bentley takes in injured gunfighter Nick Dalton and three orphans on Christmas Eve. Angela determines to keep her distance – until the children drag in a scraggly Christmas tree.

A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission for a dying Confederate enemy. Will a miracle be able to heal his heart and reunite him with his beloved?

Meant to Be
Robin Mallory is shocked when she is tackled by a man in a Confederate uniform. A flat tire and a coming snowstorm have stranded her in the middle of a re-enactment – or is it?

Scarlet Ribbons
Persuaded by a vendor, Miguel Rivera~El Diablo~makes a foolish purchase–scarlet ribbons. Will they, and a mysterious meeting, set him on a new path? 




Melissa Cutler here, and I’m so excited to be on Petticoats and Pistols celebrating the release of my debut book, The Trouble with Cowboys. The culinary world meets ranch country in this steamy contemporary when disgraced chef Amy returns to her hometown roots and butts heads with her new restaurant’s key supplier, cattle rancher Kellan Reed.

I love reality TV shows that feature experts in their field doing what they do best, such as So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, and Project Runway, and tapped those as inspiration for chef Amy and her story.

And now to whet your appetite (love chef humor!), I’m sharing the top ten things you’ll learn from The Trouble with Cowboys:




The Top Ten Thing You’ll Learn from The Trouble with Cowboys

  1. There is only one good reason for a man to keep his hat on when going inside: when it’s clear that his dusty, worn-in cowboy gear is getting his  sexy-as-sin new neighbor all hot and bothered.
  2. Never underestimate the social scene that is a church’s donut and coffee table.
  3. You can’t actually die from embarrassment, even if your worst meltdown ever is captured on national TV, goes viral, and makes you the butt of every late night talk show host’s jokes for a month.
  4. Nothing sets the Christmas mood better than cinnamon-scented candles—even in a bad boy rancher’s bachelor pad.
  5. Even a cow looks pretty when you put a flower behind her ear.
  6. Sometimes the best foreplay happens with your clothes on…in a restaurant.
  7. It’s perfectly acceptable to resolve a squabble among sisters with a food fight. Orange segments down the shirt is a winning strategy.
  8. All  foods taste better when sampled on a beautiful woman’s skin.
  9. If a man lies to you about exactly what kind of business he’s involved in, make sure you get some power behind your swing when you’re aiming to drown his briefcase in a watering hole.
  10. Cowboys are nothing but trouble, but every now and then one comes around who makes      jumping into trouble look like a tempting proposition indeed. And if he happens to give you his heart along the way, then you’d better hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

From the back cover:

Cowboys have never been good for Amy Sorentino. First her hard-riding father bankrupted the family farm. Then her all-hat-no-cattle boyfriend sold her out on national television, ending her promising career as a chef. Now she and her squabbling sisters have partnered up in a final attempt to save their land by starting an inn and local restaurant. So it figures that with everything on the line, Amy’s key supplier is just the kind of Stetson-tipping heartbreaking bad boy she’s sworn to avoid. But Kellan Reed has a few secrets of his own–and cowboy or not, Amy can’t resist this kind of wild ride.

The Trouble with Cowboys is available now:


Barnes & Noble:

My thanks to Petticoats and Pistols for hosting me today. I love hearing from readers and am really easy to find at, on Facebook ( ), and Twitter (@m_cutler). And you can always email me at or sign up for my newsletter ( ) to find out about my latest books and upcoming events.

Giveaway Alert!

Are you a fan of reality TV shows? What do you love or hate about them? One reader who comments will be randomly selected to win a copy of The Trouble with Cowboys. Good luck!

 Melissa Cutler is a flip-flop wearing Southern California native living with her husband, two rambunctious kids, and two suspicious cats in beautiful San Diego. She divides her time between her dual passions for writing sexy, small town contemporaries for Kensington Books and edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense for Harlequin.


Well, goodness, we started off this contest with trivia about the Fillies at Wildflower Junction and learned even more tidbits about them during these past two weeks of wonderful blogs.

Now we’ll end with some more trivia!!  So bear with me, before I announce the winners here’s some really cool stuff about our authors!

Oh and by the way, it’s trivia, but certainly not trivial.


All of the Fillies combined have published exactly 300 books!


Eight more books were Indie or Self-published  (with more on the way)


These 4 fantastic authors have hit the New York Times Bestseller list!

Cheryl St. John,

Phyliss Miranda,

Linda Broday  

Margaret Brownley


These 5 great authors have hit the USA Today Bestseller list!

 Phyliss Miranda

Linda Broday

Margaret Brownley

Charlene Sands 

Cheryl St. John


These 3 awesome authors have hit the Christian Book Association Bestseller List and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Bestseller List!

Margaret Brownley

Mary Connealy

Karen Witemeyer 


The Fillies have also been nominated for 107  prestigious awards, including the Rita, the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and Hero of the Month Award,  Daphne, Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award,  Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Texas Gold, Lorie, National Readers’ Choice Award, Heart of Excellence Award, RT Kiss Award, the Pioneer Award, the SARA, Ignite the Flame, Coffeetime Romance Recommended Read Award,  Wisconsin Writers Award, Loves Western Romance Award, Crystal Globe Award, Dorchester New Historical Voice, Writer’s Touch, Writer’s Digest,  TARA and Bookseller’s Best Award.

 The Fillies have WON 35 prestigious awards from the above named group!

The Fillies are a diverse and talented group of author writing in these genres: Western (of course!) , Contemporary,  Category series, Inspirational, Romantic suspense, Historical suspense, Mystery, Romantic thriller, Young adult, American romance, Children’s books, Paranormal and  Young Adult Western.


Special thanks to all who have commented and joined in on the fun!   And now on to our Winners!

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! ! !

Grand Prize winner of $100 Gift Card to Amazon OR Barnes and Noble  is …. QUILT LADY

Second Prize and Third Prize winners of $25 Gift Card to Amazon OR Barnes and Noble  are…MARY J and VALRI WESTERN

 Please contact Pam Crooks at and she will be happy to award your prizes.


NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON and all other bookstores!! Click on Cover for Excerpt or to Purchase.




Melissa Cutler Visits the Junction


Hello little Darlin’s,

Melissa Cutler has hitched up her wagon and will entertain and delight us on Saturday, October 27.

Miss Melissa has just started out on her publishing journey, but we know her life will be full of fun as she tells these stories that are swirling inside her head. She’s a woman after our own heart too. Plain and simple, she loves cowboys.

Just get a gander at the book cover. Oh my dear Lord! He’s steaming up my glasses.

Miss Melissa will give away an autographed copy to one lucky commenter.

Follow the trail to the Junction and get your name in the hat.

That’s Saturday right here at Wildflower Junction. We’ll be lookin’ for you!