The Great Turkey War–and Book Giveaway!


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Meet the Brides of Last Chance Ranch

(Read below to find out how to win one of these books)

You’ve heard of Old West range wars,

land disputes and feuds,

but have you ever heard of a turkey war?

It all started in 1850s in Aurelia, Colorado (now west Denver) when a gang known as the Bummers began raiding the town.


The group was made up of Thomas Clerno, Chuck-a-Luck  Todd, William Harvey, Buckskin Bill Karl and others.


This wasn’t the normal, thieving gang, mind you. This group was too lazy to rob banks or stages like respectable outlaws were prone to do.  Instead, these idlers and loafers put their occupation to shame by relieving farmers of game, merchants of goods and clotheslines of wash.  But the day they absconded with a wagon load of turkeys was the day they went too far.


Beef1It was the day before Christmas in 1859 and the town’s upright citizens decided that enough was enough. Having their long johns stolen was one thing, but no one was going to get away with stealing their Christmas dinners.  Feathers would fly.


Upon hearing this, the Bummers decided to get off their duffs and fight back.  Weapons were drawn and fires shot and it appeared that the turkey thieves had the upper hand.


When the Bummers threatened to burn down the town a dispatch was sent to the Jefferson Rangers drilling nearby.  The military company rode into town and restored order, but not before one of the outlaws had been killed.


A town meeting was held and a resolution passed; the Bummers must leave town or be hung.  That’s all that turkey-thieving gang needed to hear.  They were lazy but they weren’t dumb and the last anyone saw of them was the rears of their horses hightailing it out of town.


As for the gobblers—I’ll let you guess what happened to them.



For a chance to win a Brides of Last Chance Ranch book (the winner gets to choose which one), all you have to do is tell us how your family celebrates Thanksgiving–or what you are especially grateful for this year.  That’s it!



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78 thoughts on “The Great Turkey War–and Book Giveaway!”

  1. I’m especially grateful that we adopted our second daughter two months ago! It’s been an amazing blessing for our family.

  2. Congratulations Heidi. That is something for sure to be thankful for. I’m thankful that all went well with the surgery and my 10 mo. great-granddaughter to have her pallet built. She was born with a bad clef lip and palate. The lip was done when 3 months old. I thank GOD for letting doctors learn to do this kind of surgery. Also for a two year great-grandson who had surgery for a colonoscopy bag right after birth, to successfully have a rectum built and for it to work just as it should, being born without one and so many other things that could have caused his death, like a missing ventricle on his heart. He has been in and out of the hospital so many times in his short life. But is such an active and happy little boy. Our GOD is great! I would love to have one of your books Margaret. Have tried to win them each before. This article about the Turkeys was good. Maxie

  3. Hi Maxie,
    Thank God that your two great grandkiddies are doing well and that doctors are now able to perform such miracles. Your family has been through so much and my prayer is that you all have a wonderful, blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving.

  4. I’m spending Thanksgiving with my daughter and two S-I-L. I’m making the turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, a meat stuffing and an apple pie.

    I’m thankful for my family and my health.

    Safe travels everyone! Enjoy the holidays!

  5. My husband, my 85 year old mother and I are very blessed. All our family lives in states far away but a family in our town adopted us about five years ago and every Thanksgiving we join them for a wonderful dinner and time of fellowship. There are eight children in the family, with two now married and their dining room table can seat about twenty (it was made by the Amish), but each Thanksgiving there are always about 28 to 32+ people and it is always such a WONDERFUL blessed time. This year their oldest son’s wife (she was raised Amish)will have her Amish mother and father there. We’ve met them before and they are precious. This year we are going to have a small ‘quilting bee’ to learn how the Amish make quilts. I’m am doubly excited.

    The think I am most thankful for every year is God’s grace and how He always provides.

    I loved the story about the Great Turkey War and it created some wonderful visions in my mind and a few chuckles. 🙂

    I would love to be entered in Margaret’s giveaway!

    Well, today’s my birthday and my hubby wants to take me out to celebrate (movie and lunch). He’s so special and I’m very thankful for him.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  6. We celebrated Thanksgiving a week early this year since part of the family will be out of town the week of Thanksgiving and I am so thankful that we could all be together. I am blessed to still have my parents in my life as they are older and my dad had been really sick but,feeling much better, we were together. It was so nice.

  7. Thanksgiving this year is going to be insane. A huge family gathering, bigger than usual. And that’s saying something in my huge family. We’re going to get together in the church. And we’ve got an out of state brother coming home and five of his six kids, adults some of them so coming form many directions, also coming, plus many other adult children. Yeesh.
    It’s be a riot.
    But crazy fun.

  8. My mom, 85 years old…I just keep saying, “Take it easy. Buy the turkey and SIT DOWN. Let everyone else do the work. When you get tired SIT DOWN.”

    I’m not sure she can do that.

  9. Mary, Yep, they were called the Bummers, seriously. They didn’t worry about being politically correct back in those days. Can you imagine what would happen if you used the term Bummers today? I think that would be considered bullying or sexual harassment or something.

  10. All of our family is far away. We spend Thanksgiving with our church family. We eat, play games, fellowship, and watch t.v. I am thankful for my friends and family. We have four awesome kids! Thanks for the chance to win!

  11. Margaret, what a great story! It reminds me of an episode of Gilmore Girls, when Paris was tutoring high school seniors for the SAT. She said something like, “I can beat stupid out of them, but lazy…I can’t do anything with that.” She would have hated the Bummers. 😉

  12. We always gather at my dad’s and I cook Thanksgiving dinner. It is not the same since my mom passed away in 2012.
    I am thankful for my family, my friends, my health and having a job.

  13. I’m thankful we’re still alive after last Thanksgiving . . . Now that I’m married, holidays are naturally a little more complicated than they were before (back when Thanksgiving meant going to Grandpa’s for the day and the boys would all go out on the annual unsuccessful pheasant hunt, which failed one year when they not only saw a pheasant but actually shot it and had to decide how to split it a dozen ways). So last year we decided to be bold and just go to both sides of the family for Thanksgiving. We stayed at Grandpa’s long enough for the traditional pheasant hunt, and then we drove what would usually take 4 hours over state borders, except there was the first real snowstorm of the season, which is when everyone is re-learning how to drive in winter, some more successfully than others. So over 5 hours and 5 inches later, when my fingers were peeled from their death grip on the steering wheel, we arrived for cold leftovers, thankful (and still thankful today) to survive another of our bright ideas.


  14. I am especially grateful for my wonderful, sweet, funny husband, Rich! I always dreamed that someone would love me the way that he does. I am also grateful for my one & only Godson (who is also my nephew), PJ. He is such an amazing person with a very big heart! I can’t help but smile every time that I’m with him, & my heart swells up with pride & joy at the thought of him!

  15. Hope you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
    I am thankful for all my family members who are still here to share a special time with. Our holiday celebrations changed with recent family loses but I treasure the people still in my life.

  16. Hope you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
    I am thankful for all my family members who are still here to share a special time with. Our holiday celebrations may have changed in numbers but not in memories.

  17. Jackie, so sorry for your losses. That’s a good reminder to treasure the people in our lives because you just never know what will happen down the road.

    Have a happy, blessed and love-filled Thanksgiving!

  18. Thanks for the great post! My family’s thanksgiving was pretty usual but when my husband and I got married I told him of an Idea I had as a child and wanted to make it part of our family tradition. So about every other year for thanksgiving instead of doing the traditional thanksgiving dinner, myself, husband and kids pick our favorite meal that we would eat normally. That’s the meal we are most thankful for. So this year I have chosen orange chicken, one of my kids chose pizza, the other steak and my husband wants this yummy honey mustard turkey swiss sandwich that you bake in the oven. It may sound strange but that way we teach our kids to be thankful for all kinds of food!

  19. How funny! Thank you for posting this. It would make a great addition to a book. Just proves life is stranger than fiction. My mind is whirling.

    I’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with my children. Hopefully! Unless the weather keeps me homebound. It’s supposed to be bad here (sleet, snow, ice) for the next four days. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    Wishing you and your family a very wonderful Thanksgiving!!

  20. Ha ha, Margaret. Great post. For a variety of reasons this year, we are making dinner on Friday. My little grandsons and I are gonna make “gingie-bread” cookies afterwards. On Thursday I might find myself up at the horse rescue helping out so others can be with their families. This year, thankfulness abounds. We are healthy and happy after some real challenges. God bless you and yours, Margaret xoxox

  21. Cori, your Thanksgiving dinner is usual, but what fun! I love it when people come up with unusual traditions. My favorite dinner just happens to be turkey and all the trimmings! Have a happy chicken, steak, pizza and sandwich day!

  22. We have a nice small family gathering at Thanksgiving. We all chip in to help get things ready. The pies are made the day before. We dress up the dining room a bit… bring out the fancy plates… enjoy each others company. I am always thankful that my family is near. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays all! 😀

  23. We used to always celebrate Thanksgiving, which for us Canadians is in October, it would be the big family thing. As our Thanksgiving is the 2nd Monday in October, we usually had our dinner on the Sunday before. That way we could eat leftovers and do other things on the actual holiday and not be too tired to go back to work or school on the following Tuesday… We don’t have those big celebrations for Thanksgiving anymore. My mom and dad are both gone and other than Christmas, where my brother and I, along with their families get together then.

  24. We used to do the big Thanksgiving dinner, which for us Canadians is in October.. All of my mom’s brother and sister’s and their families would be at my Grandma’s house. We would have Turkey and Ham and all the fixings. Most of my mom’s family is gone now so we do what we want on Thanksgiving. This year I went to one of my cousins for dinner.

  25. Hi Kathleen, the Canadian Thanksgiving is October 14th, right? Your day sounds very much like ours.

    Is there a special significance for celebrating Thanksgiving on that particular day? Curious minds want to know.

  26. Hi Margaret, Where do you find these crazy stories? Don’t stop, please, I love them. As for which book I would like–I don’t have any of these 3, so it would be your choice.
    My Thanksgiving will be like the last several years. My daughter and I will spend the day with her summer employer and many of the gang that work at the Mammoth Lakes Pack outfit. They have become a family for us. This year it will grow to about 20. We have added several new ones, (guys who have no family close by and it’s too far to drive and leave stock for someone to feed).
    We are thankful that the 100 Mule Aqueduct Walk to Los Angeles was a success, even though most people in LA didn’t know about it. The folks in Owens Valley knew. (I’m still a 1960’s rabble rouser at heart).

  27. I love the story of The Great Turkey War and look forward to sharing it!

    We have already celebrated our Thanksgiving together with our family. We are blessed to enjoy four generations and for that I am thankful! I delight in watching my grandparents enjoy my three children!!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  28. Mary J, I’m so glad that the 100 mule walk was such a success. That must have been a great sight. I wish I could have been there.

    I have this thing for mules and a story I wrote about a love-sick mule named Josie appears in A Pioneer Christmas Collection.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  29. How can turkeys be so ugly and yet taste so delicious? Never could figure that one out.
    We always serve the traditional foods for Thanksgiving and add tamales to the menu. Living in the Southwest, that seems to be when they are really the star of the meal.

  30. Every year our family gathers and watches the Thankgiving Day parade on TV. We always have big turkey dinner and often we start decorating our house for Christmas.

  31. Joye, not only are they ugly but according to Butterball this year’s crop is skinny and they don’t know why.

    Do you think those turkeys will share their secret with us?

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  32. My widowed sister will be visiting us this year.. But I remember going to my grandparents one year. Grandmother had 3 kinds of pie and one cake and some ice cream… having asked what her hubby, son and son-in-law what they wanted… she threw up her hands and said it would be self serve in the kitchen… Each guy had given her a different combo …

  33. Katie, you’re the first one to mention the Macy’s parade.

    I’m waiting to see if anyone here intends to put the cart before the turkey and go shopping that day. They’re already lined up at my local BestBuy.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  34. Our youngest daughter and her husband have been hosting our family Thanksgiving for the last ten years. The special thing we do is “pie fest”. Each family brings a pie, usually some new recipe they want to try, and we taste test them using a toothpick to mark your favorite. Our son-in-law’s grandmother has won the most usually with something traditional like apple or peach. The rest of us have picked recipes from holiday issues of magazines—some have been good and some the recipe was never used again. It’s been great fun.
    We, too, will have four generations present from our son-in-law’s side of the family.

  35. We celebrate by hosting a “homeless” thanksgiving, inviting all the students in our congregation who can’t go home for the holiday to have a traditional thanksgiving dinner with my parents and brother. My parents are incredible and drive 10 hours just to host this dinner where my brother and I attend school.

  36. Hi Hilltop farm wife,

    Your pie fest sounds like so much fun. We tried something like that one year with cranberry sauce. My family takes cranberry sauce serious.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  37. Had to laugh at the tale of the lazy outlaws!

    There are eighteen in our immediate family and
    we usually add in a few in-laws for the Thanks-
    giving festivities! Lots of goodies load down
    the table, but giving thanks for each other and
    all that God has given us is the center of our
    day! God’s blessings on everyone!

    Pat Cochran

  38. My family comes to our house the day after Thanksgiving to celebrate. We started this several years ago because my mom’s birthday was on that Friday. My uncle (her brother) ended up passing away a few days before that so the first one turned out to be a funeral dinner but we’ve had many more Thanksgiving dinners since then. My mom has had a few birthdays on that date too. She will be 89 this year (not on that date though).

  39. For the past few years, Thanksgiving has moved to our house. My mother in law, brother in law and niece drive in from New Mexico. All family living in the area come. Last year was very special. It was the last Thanksgiving with my husband’s grandmother. She died a month later. We didn’t know it was coming and I am so glad that she was able to be with us. We even had friends of family here as well. We ended up with 22 people celebrating with us. This year, the group will be pretty small, but we are excited to have those with us who can make it.

  40. Brittany, I had something similar happen. My mother in law celebrated Christmas and passed away six weeks later. We didn’t even know anything was wrong. It was quite a shock.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  41. I am grateful for the chance to provide thanksgiving for siblings of mine who would normally spend Thanksgiving alone. I’ve been cooking for my siblings for many many years now, and we normally have a huge turkey AND ham dinner, with all the fixings on the side.

  42. Thanksgiving for me is just being surrounded by my family. That’s the best. I loved your post “The range wars…”

  43. For thanksgiving, me and my family go see my grandparents and cousins.We all eat great food and talk and catch up. Haha my grandmother cooks so much food then worries if she cooked enough lol. I love spending time with them! We live an hour away and don’t always get to see them when we want but I’m thankful for the time I get to spend with them. I feel really blessed to be apart of a big, loud, and hilarious family!

    God Bless You!
    Thanks- Sara.

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