The “Pinks” and Jesse James

Phyliss Miranda sig line for P&P BluebonnetHappy day after Memorial Day to all.  I’m out in California celebrating the high school graduation of one of my granddaughters, so I decided to rerun one of my very favorite blogs that I wrote long before I became a P&P Filly.  I hope you enjoy it!

In 1852, celebrated Chicago hero and former Deputy Sheriff, Allan Pinkerton, founded the first detective agency in the United States. Hated and feared by criminals, the Pinkerton Agency eventually became known as the “Pinks,” enjoying a colorful history, which included averting a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration.

During the Civil War, Pinkerton had a flourishing career as head of the pinkerton_logoAmerican Secret Service. Adamantly opposed to slavery, he worked for the Union Army to trap southern spies. With his law enforcement agency, he garnered great success. His slogan “We Never Sleep” was painted on his door, along with a huge, black and white eye, resulting in the origin of the term “private eye”.

Said to have a third sense, Allan Pinkerton had an uncanny ability to allanpinkertonidentify guilty parties long before police investigators came up with a suspect. Although some thought he had mystic powers, he proclaimed it nothing but experience because he researched the habits and practices of not only specific criminals on the lam, but of the criminal mind in general.

By the late 1860’s his sons, William and Robert, joined him and opened branch offices in several cities. Predecessors to the modern day FBI, the agency focused on swindlers, confidence men, and other no-gooders plaguing the big cities and little towns of America. Their field agents clipped newspaper articles and pictures, organizing them in categories. By the 1870’s, they had the largest collection of mug shots in the world and became a data base of criminal activity, leading to the FBI identification system used today.

jesse2As the New Frontier spread west, so did the “Pinks”, chasing outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and “Black Jack” Ketcham, but it was the infamous outlaw Jesse James who, for a short time, created scandal and bad publicity for Pinkerton.

Until 1875, the agency held a stellar reputation that even some outlaws admired. But not the James brothers; Jesse, in particular, had an intense dislike for Allan Pinkerton. For years, the renegade managed to outwit the lawman. “Old Man Allan” knew if he continued widening his network of men hunting Jesse and kept pressure on him, the cocky, wanted man would eventually panic and do something stupid.

On January 5th, two members of the James family were innocently attacked by a Pinkerton-led posse. Believing Jesse was hiding inside, the men surrounded a cabin near Kearney, Missouri. When he didn’t surrender, an iron torch was tossed inside. Jesse James’ mother was maimed and his handicapped stepbrother killed.

At this point, fact and fiction collide. Some scholars believe this sparked jesse1Jesse James’ path of retaliation, taking him to Chicago for only one reason…to kill Allan Pinkerton. As the story goes, for weeks the outlaw roamed the city’s streets with a loaded gun. Inside was a bullet with the name “Pinkerton” on it. But the famous detective never knew James was in town. Being frustrated and unable to get Pinkerton at the right time and right place, James returned home. This tale has never been substantiated.

For certain, the incident involving James’ family strengthened the outlaw’s position of being viewed by some as a modern-day Robin Hood fighting the wealthy Yankee bankers and rail men tooth and toenail. Well into the 1870’s many Missourians were still riled that, in their opinion, the North had won the war. The “Pinks” were considered the tools of the tycoons. The atrocities against the gang’s family only fueled support for them. Allan Pinkerton staunchly denied that one of his agents tossed the torch and patiently waited his turn to take Jesse into custody.

As history would have it, the gang eventually got overconfident, made pinkagentsmistakes, and lead by Jesse ventured from their beloved south to hold up a bank in Northfield, Minnesota. They found a less sympathetic public, meeting with savage resistance. Because the Pinkertons had sent information in advance that the James Gang, which by then included three of the renegade Younger brothers, was heading north, the town’s citizens were prepared. Caught in a hellish barrage of bullets, the outlaw band withered. Several of the gang were captured. Wounded and bloody, Jesse and Frank escaped, but it was the beginning of the end for them.

On April 3, 1882, after another robbery and with a bounty on his head, one of Jesse’s own gang shot him. Two years, after writing eighteen books, Allan Pinkerton died in his Chicago mansion.

I’ve been asked why I decided my hero in “Ropin’ the Wind” in our anthology Give Me a Cowboy released in 2009 would be a Pinkerton Agent. I wanted a different kind of law enforcer. When you read a western historical romance you are pretty much guaranteed there will be somewhere a mystical, reputable Texas Ranger or a tough-as-leather-strop sheriff. You expect one, just like horses and sagebrush. I wanted someone unique; thus, out of my imagination and research surfaced a citified, undercover Pinkerton Agent with a Texas background. It was so much fun to once again partner with one of the founding fillies of Petticoats and Pistols, Linda Broday, along with Jodi Thomas and the late DeWanna Pace to write the anthology, “Give Me a Cowboy.”

I have to admit a Texas Ranger turns my head, even a modern day one. That’s why I cast my “Pink’s” Achilles ‘ heel a rebel-rousing, retired Texas Ranger. There’s just something about a fearless Ranger that ladies love, but I was sure happy how different my hero, Morgan Payne, turned out in “Give Me a Cowboy”.

What kind of cowboy turns your head and wiggles into your heart?


To one lucky reader who leaves a comment today, I will

send you a Bath and Body Works Gift Certificate

or you  can choose one of my eBooks at

Watch for “Out of a Texas Night” coming in the fall.  It’s the second in the

Kasota Springs Contemporary Series and follows some of the families

from “Give Me a Cowboy” several generations later.


Today is Memorial Day!

flag soldiers

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
–Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863



General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

  1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

  1. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
  2. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of


Adjutant General




Today we celebrate Memorial Day, though celebrate may not be the best word. We remember—that’s more appropriate. Originally called Decoration Day, it was meant to be a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Though it has turned into the unofficial first weekend of summer and most of us spend it picnicking and boating and barbecuing with friends and family, we shouldn’t lose sight of its meaning—its reason.

“Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in military service
to the United States of America.”

Today, let’s take a minute out of our day of boating, eating and celebrating, to remember.  Put down the hot dogs, the baseball bats, the sunscreen, and remember all those who sacrificed for us—both those in the past and those doing so right now—so we may enjoy a wonderful summertime tradition.

Remember Memorial Day!

Tracy Garrett
HER SANCTUARY–available now!

Her Scanctuary Garrett Web










Victoria Bylin Has Winners!

SomeoneLikeYouCoverYeeHaw! What a fun visit. Miss Vickie shouldn’t wait so long to come back, darn it!

And what a passel of books to give away! Lordy, Lordy!

From a random drawing……………….




Wow, ladies! Congratulations! Miss Victoria will contact you for your selections and arrange delivery of the prize.


Victoria Bylin: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

Give a big howdy to former Filly, Vickie Bylin! We’re so happy she came to visit. AND she brought books to give away. Three in fact, so leave a comment!

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Home   . . .  That word is one of the most evocative in the English language. It’s also a fitting theme for today’s blog, because Petticoats & Pistols was my home for over three years. Hello, Fillies!  I miss hanging out with you and the P&P readers. I thoroughly enjoyed being a Filly during my time with Harlequin Historical and Love Inspired Historical.


Westerns will always be close to my heart. So will California with its beaches, mountains, valleys, and deserts. The state may not be the first one to pop in your mind when you think “traditional western,” not like Texas or Wyoming, but the history and culture have a western flavor.


SomeoneLikeYouCoverI live in Lexington, Kentucky now, but I miss the Golden State. That’s why I started writing about it. If we took a road trip with the characters in my contemporary romances, we’d walk barefoot on Pismo Beach, see endangered California condors in the wild, and camp out on Anacapa Island.


The Pismo Beach scene is in my latest release, Someone Like You (Bethany House, May 2016). The story is set at a historic resort in central California and is about what happens when college sweethearts meet after six years. Back at UC Berkeley, Zeke Monroe was a strong Christian, and Julia Dare believed in living for the moment. Fast forward six years . . . Now Zeke is struggling with his faith and Julia is a new believer and a single mom with a four-year-old son.


Until I Found YouTo add some western flavor (and because I like country music), I made the owners of the resort a retired country music duo called the Travers Twins. Ginger Travers no longer performs, but George Travers (who looks and sounds a lot like Sam Elliot) is going strong and still a heartthrob for Julia’s widowed mother.


California condors played a big role in Until I Found You. Those birds are amazing!  During the 1990s, when my family and I lived in the Los Padres National Forest a.k.a. “Condor Country,” we had the pleasure of seeing condors soar over our home. With their nine-foot wingspans, the birds look like glider planes. Writing about them brought back some great memories.  


Together With YouGoing camping again on Anacapa Island is another secret dream.  Anacapa (pronounced ANN-a-cap-a) is one of the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. In Together With You. Kentucky girl Carly Jo Mason and Los Angeles ophthalmologist Dr. Ryan Tremaine make a trip to the island with his kids.


 Ryan and Carly have quite the romance, but a little girl named Penny stole even more hearts—including mine. Penny has special needs and remains one of my favorite characters.


Thank you for taking a mini-trip home with me!  When it comes to romance, California is the perfect setting for strong characters, dramatic plots, and stories that touch the heart.

To celebrate my home state, I’d like to give away three books—reader choice from the titles above. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the drawing!


A big thank you to the Fillies for inviting me to visit.  As the saying goes, “East or West, Home is Best.”

You can contact Vickie at:


* * * * * * *

We Have a Winner!

12 brides of summerIt was fun reading about your furry friends. Thank you for sharing. 

The 12 Brides of Summer and Dog Toy goes to:


Send me an email with your mailing address:

If Bogie has a favorite color, send that, too.


It’s a Dog’s World–Book and Dog Toy Giveaway


When two people share the same dog, there’s bound to be trouble

The Twelve Brides of Summer collection has just been released. My story The Dog Days of Summer Bride features a cow dog, which is just another name for a herding dog. I’ve always loved border collies so that was my breed of choice. Since the dog in my story has the annoying habit of disappearing every week for a couple of days, the independent nature of these dogs was a trait that served me well. His herding instincts also made him the perfect matchmaker. I mean, if a dog can herd sheep and cattle, he can bring people together, right?  Here’s a short blurb:

Music teacher Marilee Davis and blacksmith Jed Colbert don’t realize they’ve been sharing the same dog until…it digs up a stash of stolen loot.  The reward will go to the dog’s owner—if only that can be determined.

Border collies have an interesting history. In the 19th century a Northumberland man created the ideal herding dog by combining several breeds.  TMozarthis particular dog was especially  suited to herding sheep along the border dividing Scotland and England, which is how it got its name.  Collie is a Scottish dialect word to describe herding dogs.

Scottish sheepherders immigrating to America brought their border collies with them.  Some of these same sheepherders were lured west during the California gold rush, dogs by their side.  It didn’t take long for cattlemen to note the value of these black and white dogs and this led to a whole new way of herding.

A good cow dog can do the work of seven cowboys. (Today workers are replaced by machines and robots; back then it was dogs.) By the end of the nineteenth century, border collies and Australian cattle dogs were a familiar sight on every working ranch and cattle drive.

The dog in my story has the annoying habit of disappearing each week.  Tell us about a habit (annoying or endearing) that your dog or a dog you know has, and you could win a copy of The Twelve Brides of Summer and a dog toy made by yours truly.  (Note Giveaway Guidelines apply.)


12 brides of summerAmazon



We Have a Winner for Karen Kay’s Mass Market book, WAR CLOUD’S PASSION


Many thanks to all those who came to the blog yesterday and who left their thoughts about the Mandan Indians.  So many points were made that I’d never even considered.  Many thanks to Eliza who did some awesome research with links for all of us who wanted to know more.

So…names were drawn and the winner of the free book is:  Elaine Breault

Elaine, please contact me at — since this is a physical book, I will need an address.  Again, many thanks to all of you!  I enjoy every comment.

1870’s with a 30’s Twist

I love early western movies—those made in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. These movies were made close enough to the times they portrayed—the 1860s-1890’s—that the sets, the clothing, the horse gear, have a fighting chance of being fairly accurate. And if they’re not accurate, at least they’re interesting.

This weekend I watched Zane Grey’s To the Last Man, which was filmed in 1933. It wasn’t the most accurate western I’ve ever seen clothing-wise…but it was interesting.

The story was one of young love redeeming feuding families. The Colby and Hayden families have feuded in Kentucky for generations. After the Civil War, Jed Colby (Noah Beery Sr.) goes to prison for murdering a Hayden, and the Hayden family heads to Nevada, leaving Lynn Hayden (Randolph Scott) behind to take care of the homestead. When Jed gets out of prison, he goes to Nevada, to seek revenge against the Haydens. Lynn is hot on his heels, hoping to stop the violence. Matters are further complicated by the fact that Lynn’s in love with Ellen Colby (Esther Ralston) and the two hope to marry.  I loved the final shootout, where people were actually reloading weapons, and the reloading took some time, just like it does in real life. The women are shooting as much as the men.

So, back to the clothing… no matter how bad an old movie might be, I can entertain myself looking at the fashions. Men’s. Women’s. Horse’s.

In this movie Randolph Scott wore buckskin. So did the heroine—and she
showed a fair amount of leg, even though the movie took place after the Civil War, probably in the very late 1860’s or early 1870’s. Was this accurate? Probably not–the leg part anyway. Nor were her 1930’s pencil thin eyebrows and semi-marceled hairdo accurate. But, since I love the 1930s, it was fun to see the 30’s influence on the 1870s fashions.

As you can see in the photo, Shirley Temple is in the film, as is a very young John Carradine.

If you want to catch To the Last Man, it’s available on YouTube.