The British Are Coming and a Give Away!

The Old West remains an iconic part of our history, conjuring up images of cowboys, saloons, and horse thieves. And then the British aristocracy showed up …

But why? Well, The Union Pacific railroad stretched to Fremont, NE by 1865. Construction continued, and by mid-1867 it reached Cheyenne and joined the Central Pacific in Promontory in 1869, connecting the East and West coasts of the US. Cheyenne became the hub for all those railroad workers, and all of them had to be fed. The wintry grasses proved to be exceptional fodder for the ranchers’ cattle, and they quickly realized they could make a successful business in that region. When the railroad took the cattle east to the markets, that set the stage for Wyoming to become a major cattle ranching area. Then, in 1880, the steamer Strathleven embarked on a voyage with a new kind of cargo: meat preserved with mechanical refrigeration. This was the first time British people had ever encountered the process of ranching. And some were hooked.

Can you imagine an earl or baron chasing after cattle? Well, they did, and some were part of the Wyoming cattle industry from about 1867 to 1887. Though their stint as cowboys was fleeting, their imprint on the area left a lasting impression. It’s one of the reasons I have two fictional towns with British residents. One town, Clear Creek, has a huge cattle ranch nearby owned by a British family, the Cookes. And my newest series, Love in Apple Blossom, also has some British residents. The result of six brothers on holiday in America who happen upon the little town. An entire posse was killed by an outlaw gang and some of the women had to step up to take on their father’s, brother’s, or husband’s roles. Being gentlemen, the brothers stay to help a few of them out before returning to England.

But what, other than the lure of ranching and cowboy adventures, brought the British to America? Well, in short, the British gentleman was passionate about hunting. This was one of the things that drew them to America in the first place. They wanted adventure, excitement, and America had plenty of it. There was nothing like the thrill of a good hunt (weeks and sometimes months’ worth) to bring the English aristocracy to America. But there were other reasons some came, and it wasn’t to chase after elk or bear.

Desperate to escape the freezing grasp of the British Isles, some ventured to the Wild West in search of new health. Others, like Oliver Henry Wallop, scion of an earl, saw the need for a cavalry in the Boer War and set off to Wyoming. He partnered with Malcolm Moncrieffe, progeny of a Scottish baronet, and ran an enourmous 2700-acre ranch that brought the first thoroughbreds to the Western front. In Colorado, another British earl established a ranch and resort not far from Estes Park; a sprawling reminder of his former glory from across the pond. My British family in my fictional town of Clear Creek traveled West to Oregon not for their health, but to start a cattle ranch and ended up as pig farmers. Things obviously didn’t go as planned, but in the end, they fulfilled their dream.

On the other hand, there were some Britannic settlers in America that soon found themselves in a grueling struggle to make a living on the ranches. Cattle needed to be tended to and branded, while horses had to be fed and groomed. There were also everyday ranch chores and other work and dash it all, no servants to help. Even worse, some ranches were a hundred miles or more away from the nearest train station. Rain turned dirt roads into mud pits in summer and unpredictable snowstorms in winter. Both made travel hazardous. Is it any wonder so many high-tailed it back to England?

Thankfully, the Cooke family didn’t, and have appeared in numerous book series of mine and in not only my other pen name’s books, but other author’s books as well. I have a book on the British aristocracy holidaying in America in the 1800s, which was one of the things that inspired me to create a British family in the old west years ago. The rest is history!

Do you like reading about characters from other countries settling in the old west? I’m giving away one free e-copy of my latest release, Wooing the Undertaker, Love in Apple Blossom, Book 4 to one commenter. Here’s a little more about the book:

A Lonely Undertaker
A Man Determined to Go Home
And One Little Library …

After her father was killed by outlaws, Jean Campbell was forced to take on the role of undertaker. Like so many other women in Apple Blossom, she did what had to be done after a devastating tragedy took the lives of an entire posse. But months later, things were becoming hard, and she wasn’t sure what to do. And that’s when theycame to town. Six English brothers who took it upon themselves to help those in need. And so far, three of the brothers had found love. But Jean knew that wasn’t about to happen to her. After all, who wanted to woo an undertaker?

Wallis Darling wasn’t looking for love. He was looking for a way to back to England and with as many of his brothers as possible. Problem was, three were already planning on marrying, and two of them had decided to stay. If Wallis’ older brother Phileas fell in love and stayed on, their father’s dreaded title and estate would fall to him! The thought made him shudder. He liked his freedom and had to make sure his older brother didn’t come under love’s spell. But how? Then he got an idea. What if Phileas thought Wallis was in love? Would he hightail it back to England to do his duty? Wallis hoped so. Now all he had to do was find someone willing to fake a courtship. And then of course, talk her into it.


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USA Today bestselling author Kit Morgan is the author of over 140 books of historical and contemporary western romance! Her stories are fun, sweet stories full of love, laughter, and just a little bit of mayhem! Kit creates her stories in her little log cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader and knitter, when not writing, she can be found with either a book or a pair of knitting needles in her hands! Oh, and the occasional smidge of chocolate!

38 thoughts on “The British Are Coming and a Give Away!”

  1. I like any angle in a western that’s well-written. This country was settled by immigrants, so characters from other countries make sense in historical novels.

  2. Since my fathers parents are immigrants I always enjoy reading about they coming to this country and the immigration west. Though my grandparents stayed put in the east.

  3. Good morning, Kit! As always, a fun premise for your book. You don’t read about many undertaker heroines. Ha!

    Your mention of how Union Pacific stretched to Fremont, NE, in 1865 jumped out at me. Our lake cabin is 20 minutes from Fremont, our granddarlings have occasional ball games there, etc, so it’s a familiar place to us.

    Best wishes for lots of sales for WOOING THE UNDERTAKER!

  4. Since I enjoy doing genealogy and reading historical fiction, it is always fun to read your educational articles. I appreciate the excellent research behind your books! It is not really surprising those immigrants started venturing further west, based on two facts……methods of travel were greatly improved and there was less land available east of the Mississippi River and, also, in the general midwestern area. I had many ancestors come from Great Britain, but that was primarily in the 1600’s and 1700’s.

  5. I enjoy reading about genealogy whether mine or royal families. My family (both sides) immigrated to the United States in the 1850s from Great Britain. My grandmother’s grandfather was a descendent of Scotland. Both families eventually settled in southern Michigan, northern Ohio and in eastern Indiana. I like to imagine what their lives would have been like. I love reading historical stories, especially those that have been researched well.

    • I love hearing about people’s family’s that came over in the eighteen hundreds. My father’s side of the family came over around 1918. Some stayed in New York, while others, as they were polish immigrants, had the choice of going to either Portland, OR, or Chicago, IL. They chose Portland.

  6. Yes, I like seeing how families from other countries would have got along with different customs and the western environment of this country. It would make most interesting stories!

  7. In working on my ancestry, it appears all my ancestors came from Germany in the mid to late 1800’s. this history is so very interesting and if I could afford it, I would like to look into their professions. Once they arrived in the US and ended up in Iowa, the majority of them became farmers. They first landed in New York and I thank the LORD they did not stay there!

  8. Fascinating history. I could see how it could be appealing to second or third sons, too. That’s what my ancestors were on my dad’s side.

    I wonder if that’s how the term “cattle baron” originated? I guess I can go down the rabbit hole.

  9. I always enjoy “clash of cultures” types of stories. Motivation, reactions, expectations all vary from country to country even when similar. It can be a good point for misunderstandings which come in handy for plot and character development. This sounds like a good book and a good series.
    I hope 2023 is being good to you.

  10. We tend to forget that places such as Southeast Kansas was so German that newspapers were published in German. My Grandmother’s first language was German and she was born in Kansas; to top off the language was so strong, my Grandmother’s Mother was Swedish, not German but that was not the language most spoke and so, German.

  11. what a wonderful post. thanks for sharing. at first I wasnt so sure about this type of thing. But upon looking at history, it did happen. So I started reading about this type of thing and became enthralled with the idea and the very different way of life for them. How some adapted and how some didnt


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