What It’s Like to Love a REAL Cowboy by Jean Brashear

(See note below for info on a giveaway!)

Hello, Jean Brashear here.  I’m a fifth-generation Texan who grew up in a family of ranchers, and one of my most treasured possessions is five pages of reminiscences by my great-grandmother, Nannie Jowell, who was born in 1860. I’m part of a just-released boxed set collection of five full-length novels called LOVE ME SOME COWBOY, and all of us adore our fictional heroes—but here is a slice of what it was like to love a REAL cowboy…the first sentence says it all.;) 

“While we lived in Palo Pinto County, I met Jerry Jowell who was interested in cattle and was never interested in anything else. 

We married January 10, 1883 and moved to his place near Strawn.  The house was a big log one with a hall between the rooms and the kitchen and dining room were built of lumber on the north.  There was a porch on the south.  There were two of the big rooms built of logs.  We kept cattle and farmed a little.  That was all the farming that we ever did.  We raised grain and corn.  We moved to the town of Strawn, and Jerry gathered a bunch of his cattle and drove them to Kansas City.  He left in May and was gone about three months.  The cattle turned out fine.  As a rule they generally got good prices them days. 

When Jerry got back, he went on west to Midland to dig wells so the cattle could have water.  They used windmills, but when the wind didn’t blow they were run by horsepower.  He ran his cattle on the open range.  Everybody’s cattle ran together.  His brand was JT at first and mine was O Tail Q.  We didn’t brand the old cows—just branded the calves in our own brand.  After finding water for the cattle, Jerry gathered up the cattle and took them out between Midland and Carlsbad.  I don’t remember how many calves we branded a year.  I was too busy taking care of my kids and doing the cooking. 

When Jerry got water for the cattle in the spring of 1886, we moved to Midland which was just a small place in the road.  The Texas Pacific Railroad had just gone through.  There was just one store.  Soon the nesters started coming in and kept coming in until we had to drive our cattle out from there to range—generally to the Pecos country.  It took all spring and summer to get the cattle out there. 

From then until 1900, when we came up here, we had ranches at different places.  We had to move to get grass and water for our cattle.  We had just common cattle and finally graded them up.  At first we had many that were long horned. We lost so many that year that we moved up here.  I don’t know how many there were.  We moved to the M-Bar Ranch with our cattle until we got more water and then moved to a location between the JAL Ranch and Muleshoe. 

We lived in a tent all this time, mind you.  We were looking for water.  We had to put the cattle where there was water until we could get water somewhere else.  We had a large tent.  We cooked and eat out on the prairie.  We burned mesquite roots and cow-chips.  I had nothing to do with the fuel part.  Mr. Jowell and the cowboys tended to that.  We had cow-chip ashes in the coffee—but I guess they were purified after being burned.  We got our supplies out of Midland which was about seventy miles.  They got supplies from Pecos when they were working cattle in the valley. 

Then we moved to Monument Springs.  There was an old rock house—no telling when it was built.  There were springs there.  It had been used as a camping place of Indians when they were on their raids, before I was there, of course.  The corrals were even made of rough rocks.  We lived in the old rock house.  It was just one great big room.  I cooked and ate in one end of it and slept in the other.  It had two doors and one window.  Our furniture was mostly soap boxes.  Sometimes we had chairs and sometimes we didn’t.  We had wooden bedsteads, feather beds and mattresses.  We generally had plenty to sleep on when we had a place to put it.  The cowboys slept on the ground.  We had a common cookstove—not a range.  We used coal oil lanterns for lighting purposes. 

At Midland when Nannie and Charlie, my children, were small, I used to put them on an old mule to let them hunt bird nests in the mesquite so I would not have to watch them so close to keep snakes from biting them—rattlesnakes and sidewinders.  Later when we moved to Martin, I put Roy, the youngest boy, on old Jen to protect him, too.  Old Jen was a dandy.  She raised all the kids.  That’s a fact.  Nobody but them and me about the place—I would go bridle old Jen and put the kids on her so I could go about my work and they would be safe.  They never fell off though sometimes I was afraid they would because when that old mule saw a snake in her path, she always stopped suddenly, and then turned around and trotted off in the opposite direction. 

Nights when we were alone I didn’t sleep much.  I was afraid a snake might come crawling in and bite one of the children. 

When we were living in that tent near the sand hills, Mrs. Vaughn, whose husband worked with mine, was living in another tent not far from mine.  I often visited her and her children. 

One day I looked out and saw two bulls fighting.  It was not an unusual sight, but it scared me because they kept fighting toward my tent.  I took my kids and left for Mrs. Vaughn’s tent.  From there we watched those bulls fight.  They fought and fought and finally ran into my tent and tore it up badly.  They broke and tore up everything in the tent.  I feared most for my cookstove.  I just knew it would be ruined so I couldn’t fix it to cook on.  It was knocked down and scattered about, but we found that nothing was broken.  We put it together and I cooked supper on it.” 

I love cowboys, as we all do…but I feel incredibly privileged to come from women with grit like this!

*  *  *

USA Today bestselling Texas romance author Jean Brashear’s family home now resides in the Ranching Heritage Center at  Texas Tech.

She once couldn’t wait to see her small Texas hometown in her rearview mirror…and she now appreciates the irony that she has grown to love cowboys, country music and those eccentric characters who bring small towns to life!

Visit her website at www.jeanbrashear.com


Jean and four other authors have joined together to present a collection of five full-length novels featurning rugged cowboys.  The collection is titled Love Me Some Cowboy and is being offered for a steal of a deal – only 99 cents!  And for one lucky commenter today, Jean is offering a choice of EITHER a coupon good for obtining a copy of one of her ebooks or a physical copy of one book from her most recent Harlequin trilogy.


In Nothing But Trouble by USAToday Bestselling Author Lisa Mondello, city girl Melanie Summers must spend an  entire month alone in the Wyoming wilderness with sexy rodeo cowboy, Stoney Buxton, without getting into trouble.  Possible?   Not a chance in the world! 

 USAToday Bestselling Author Jean Brashear adds Lone Star flavor with Texas Secrets.  Boone Gallagher returns to the only home he’s ever known only to find it’s been willed to a sexy stranger who’s intent on leaving.  He must keep her there for thirty days or it will be lost to them both. 

Love romantic reunion stories?  Then USAToday Bestselling author Barbara McMahon has the perfect book for you!  Crazy About a Cowboy brings you Sam and Lisa Haller, who divorced for all the wrong reasons.  Now Sam wants his ex-wife back for all the right ones. 

Once Upon a Cowboy by USAToday Bestselling author Day Leclaire introduces Cami, a lovable, greenhorn spitfire determined to become a cowboy, despite the objections of her sexy rancher boss. 

And last, but far from least, Waldenbooks bestselling author Ginger Chambers offers a heartwarming treat with Love, Texas, in which Cassie Edwards returns to the hometown she’d forsaken to negotiate the sale of land belonging to the Taylor family. Hard-working rancher Will Taylor, once her girlhood crush, is all man now and fighting hard to save his heritage. When attraction flares, will true love triumph?

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18 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Love a REAL Cowboy by Jean Brashear”

  1. How wonderful to own something so precious. I have to laugh when women nowadays complain, they have nothing to complain about. Women in the olden days were tough. I respect them immensely.

  2. What a fascinating real tale of how they lived in the days of your great-great grandmother.. You had to be tough I am sure to get through those times. And the things she did to protect her kids… I can’t imagine having to do that. Thanks for sharing your family history with us..

  3. Wow, Jean, what a fabulous legacy you have. I loved getting a glimpse into your family history. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for joining us here in the Junction!

  4. What a great treasure to have words written by your great grandmother. I would cherish something like that from a great grandparent. Enjoyed reading your blog today.

  5. I enjoyed reading your post! what a great family history! Women back then had to be so strong. Thank you for sharing such a powerful history! I would love to read your works!

  6. Jean thank you so much for sharing a piece of your family with us… I wish I had more info about my family… I just know little bits… nothing past the little bits I know about my grandparents and what they mentioned of their parents… One day I hope to uncover some more info.

  7. Jean, a big welcome to P&P! We’re excited to have you on this Memorial Day. Loved your blog and I loved reading Nannie’s diary excerpt. I live in Lubbock and we have a house that George Jowell built in Palo Pinto, Texas in 1870 at the National Ranching Heritage Center. Is George any kin to Jerry? It’s odd that they lived so close to each other. I’m thinking they might’ve been brothers. That connection would be neat.

    Good luck and much success.

  8. Hi, everyone! I am SO very sorry! We had a family crisis pop up (not solved…not really solvable, but under control better now, I think) and I just flat lost track of the date! My very, very bad!

    Thank you all so much for your very kind reactions! I do indeed feel so very fortunate that someone took the time to write down what my great-grandmother had to say–something like that is SO rare! You know, women made just as much history as men, but so little of it ever got written down–as several of you noted, because they were too dang BUSY to do it, even if anyone realized how important it would be!

    And yep…women today have no idea how hard life was for the pioneers. I’d like to believe some of that grit is inside me, but wow…what they lived through…

    Linda, the Joly House at Tech’s Ranching Heritage Center is indeed from my family. Rat Jowell and Jerry were brothers. I have a whole bunch of paperwork related to that house, plus a Christmas ornament with a picture of it on there, from back when it was dedicated. My mother was there for the dedication. The stones of that house were numbered in Palo Pinto, then moved by helicopter–none of them would ever have imagined such a thing!

    Thank you all for your lovely welcome, and big thanks to Winnie for hosting this very tardy guest who is hanging her head right now, I promise you. My grandmother would have switched my behind (oh, that evil willow tree…) for losing track of the date. I was brought up never to be late for ANYTHING and just about never, ever am!

  9. P S If any of you would like to come have some silly fun with us, the group of authors of Love Me Some Cowboy are having a King Daddy of Cowboys blog hop through May 30, with a chance to win free ebooks and the grand prize of a $50 gift certificate. You can start the blog hop here: http://bit.ly/115eMqp

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your great grandmother’s words. It shows how important it is to talk to the older generation and record their memories. It is sad how many stories are lost to us when they pass.

    Her story shows us just how unromantic the life of a cowboy’s wife really was. It was an adventure to be sure, but I think the charm wore off not long after she started living in tents, using a mule as a nanny, and avoiding bulls in her “kitchen.” It is wonderful that you have this vivid picture of what life was really like for the early cowboys, ranchers, and their families.

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