Please join me in welcoming guest author Krystal Anderson to the Junction.
There’s something about standing in front an old western fort that brings that bygone era to life. The chipped stone walls and thick timbers tell a story of conflicts withstood, the battlements and gun ports atop eighteen-foot walls a sense of strength and security.
For many traveling through America’s untamed west, forts were among the only places of safety from Indian attack and harsh elements and were utilized by mail carriers, stagecoach operators, and weary travelers alike. Some, such as Fort Vancouver in Washington, weren’t even established with defense in mind, but industry and commerce. Others served as way stations along main travel routes, such as Fort Benton along the Missouri River in central Montana, or Fort Bridger, Wyoming, which became a vital resupply point for those traveling the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.
In my little corner of Utah there are plenty of old forts to explore, some only remains of crumbled stone wall, that were constructed to protect the herds and homes of local settlers during the Black Hawk War (1865-1870). Recently I took my children to explore historic Cove Fort in central Utah and boy, did it fuel my imagination! Details from that visit will likely carry into many of my future stories.
Cove Fort is rectangular in shape and made of volcanic rock with six rooms on each of the long sides, each with its own chimney. A central courtyard opens in the center, and when those thick wood doors were closed, I don’t see how anything or anyone could have gotten through. Just outside the fort, which also served as a ranch, was a bunkhouse, vegetable garden, ice house, blacksmith shop, derrick, livestock barn, and supply store. It was to imagine how people were able to labor and live in such a place, but I’m certain it was immensely difficult. The women spun their own thread and fashioned rugs and blankets on a loom, scrubbed the laundry, and tended to the fort’s guests in addition to their own families. Years of harsh winters were spent enveloped in the fort’s cold stone walls. Do you think you would have possessed the fortitude to live in a remote, rugged western fort without many of the comforts of the day?
With that fort in mind, I created a fictional fort on the coast of Oregon for my latest story titled Her Keeper’s Heart. Fort Donnelly, I called it, stationed somewhere in Tillamook County. The book’s heroine, a mail-order bride named Orissa, is making her way to the Oregon coast from Connecticut via sailing around Cape Horn when catastrophe strikes. I won’t divulge the details (no spoilers here!), but she and the sailors find sanctuary at industrious Fort Donnelly. And that’s not all she finds there…
I’d like to give away a signed paperback copy of Her Keeper’s Heart to one of you lovely people. To enter, tell me something you couldn’t live without should you have been called upon to man an old western fort. I look forward to reading your responses, and thank.
HER KEEPER’S HEART
Living as the assistant keeper at the Puffin Point lighthouse for four years, Leonard Tarby admires everything about his coastal home: sweeping ocean seascapes, lush, tangled forests, and unobstructed views of the stars he enjoys charting. There was only one thing Leonard would change, and that is the absence of a loving bride by his side. Certain the only way to achieve that goal is to send for a bride through the mail, Leonard sits back to wait for her arrival, dreaming of a life of wedded bliss soon to come.
The young lady is soon on her way to Puffin Point but goes missing en route. Is there foul play involved or did she simply get cold feet? Will Leonard ever have a bride of his own?
Find out in this sweet historical romance full of dangers, intrigue, and love, all beneath the ever-watchful beam of a Pacific lighthouse.
Today the Fillies are pleased to welcome guest author Tina Dee to the Junction. Tina is here to tell us about her new release and one aspect of her research. She’s also got a fun giveaway in store so read on to learn the details!
Hi, everyone! Thank you to the Petticoats & Pistols blog hosts and to you, sweet readers, for having me here today. I love spending time with you all! For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I write heartwarming historical and contemporary Christian romances with a good deal of humor.
Today, I’m sharing about my upcoming release, For the Love of Penni, which takes place in the late 1800s. This story is about a woman in search of her brother who is slow of learning and became lost in the War Between the States. And now, she is torn between finding him and her new life as a mail-order bride.
One of the things in life that calms Penni’s heart is to pet her favorite hen, Dainty, when chores on the farm are finished. Later, Dainty travels with her onboard a steam train in a homemade cage.
One of the things I had the most fun researching for this story was chickens. Penni’s hen, Dainty, is a Dominique breed. It is said that they are the oldest known breed, being favored by settlers back in the 1750s. They were hardy birds and were important to settlers because they didn’t require a lot of special care.
The hen pictured below is actually from the Barred Rock breed but looks very similar to the Dominique—though the Dominique has a ruffled-rose type comb (the place where I get my stock photos only had this chicken breed’s pics available). These Dominiques, and their rose combs, were resistant to frostbite. The hens roamed freely and foraged for their existence. Their feathers were also used for stuffing pillows. I hope to have a few of these one day. Many thanks to thehappychickencoop.com for the fun facts. Do you raise chickens? If you do, share what breed, and what you love about them?
More about my story, For the Love of Penni:
She’s in search of a family. He has one to offer. Can she be the wife he needs or will her desire to find her brother pull her heart away?
Penni Pembrooke has stopped at nothing to find her long lost brother after the War Between the States. With years of searching behind her, she’s just about given up hope. Now, the home where she resides has become overcrowded. With extended family pressing in on all sides, Penni writes to a mail-order bride agency in hopes of a new life. Meanwhile, she continues to search for her brother who is slow of learning. He still needs her; a war wouldn’t change that.
Connor Callaghan finds himself the father of a brand-new infant. While he’s bringing his orphaned niece and his mother home from Ireland to Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, he learns the mail-order bride he left behind is now married to another.
With a farm to run and more mouths to feed it’s more than he bargained for. Yet, Penni comes as a fresh surprise—but will she make her heart available to him?
For the Love of Penni is a lighthearted, Christian mail-order bride romance and is part of the multi-author Brides of Pelican Rapids series. All books in this historical Christian romance series are stand-alone stories and can be read in any order.
For the Love of Penni releases on 9/30/21. It’s currently on pre-order for 99 cents. To pre-order from Amazon click on the image below
Tina Dee enjoys writing historical and contemporary western romances. She lives on the west coast with her family, including a heard of crazy cats and a bossy little Yorkie named Molly.
She loves coffee and almond croissants. She enjoys campfire cooking, and her favorite seasons are autumn and winter.
Tina is giving away the adorable towel pictured below. Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing
Please welcome guest author Caryl McAdoo to Petticoats & Pistols.
My home is The Peaceable, a twenty-acre wooded property about five miles south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County, in far Northeast Texas. This area is sometimes called the “Piney Woods” part of the State. Almost anytime I get out, I pass several lumber businesses, and usually an eighteen-wheeler or three loaded with cut timber as well. (I don’t like to drive behind them!)
As soon as pioneers began to settle Texas, timber proved to be a valuable resource, then right after the Texas Revolution in the spring of 1836, the lumber production increased steadily in the new Republic. By the 1860s, there were reportedly two hundred sawmills in the state. The construction of rails across East Texas ushered in another boom of the Texas timber industry in the 1880s.
From the time my parents brought me to Texas from my California beginnings (a six-month-old in 1950), until March of 2008 when we move to Red River County, I lived in Northwest Dallas and Irving which falls within the Cross Timbers which stretches from Kansas, through Oklahoma, and down as far south as Central Texas.
In Texas, the forest regions run in two narrow, parallel strips, separating the Black Prairies in the east from the Grand Prairies in the west, from the Red River to the Brazos where the woods play out.
The average width of the Eastern Cross Timbers, which includes Dallas, is around fifteen miles. The eastern strip’s soil is more fertile than the western, lending not only to larger trees but a wider variety and more dense undergrowth.
In the early days the Cross Timbers was a famous landmark and quite difficult for the settlers to get through due to its density. Besides log cabins and providing firewood, the trees served another important function. They prevented rainwater from running off, letting it soak in for the hundreds of wells pioneers dug!
I lived in these timbers for fifty-eight years, then moved to the piney woods. Is it any wonder that a lot of my stories are set in both? My second family saga is named for them, the Cross Timbers Romance series, and is set in the area along the Delaware Creek (that later became Irving) and downtown Dallas.
Book seven just released September 3rd! It’s title? Why, TEXAS TIMBERS!
It’s heroine, Autumn Hope, has had prophetic dreams since she was a child (LEAVING TEXAS, book four), and God has been showing her a man in a dream. She kisses him in the night vision, so figures he must be her husband. The Lord also shows her where he’s working down in the Sulphur River bottoms cutting bois d’arc, too.
She’s deadest on going to find him to convince him she should be his wife. Sean O’Farrell, of course, is a timber man through and through and pretty much thinks she’s crazy.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading the fun story! It’s available HERE
I’d love to gift one of my commenters an eBook copy of book one in the Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, GONE TO TEXAS! Just tell me where you live and what’s special about your area! I pray you’ll be blessed!
Award-winning, Christian author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory. Of her best-selling novels, readers love her historical Christian romance family sagas most, but also enjoy her Christian contemporary romances, Biblical fiction stories, her new mystery series, and tales for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. The far majority of reviewers award her stories five-stars and praise Caryl’s characters, feeling as though they get to know them well.
The prolific writer loves singing the new songs God gives her almost as much as penning new novels—hear a few at YouTube! She’s been married to Ron fifty-three years. They share four children and twenty-one grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.
Please welcome our very special guest Tracy Garrett back to Petticoats and Pistols. Tracy will be giving TWO lucky commenters an e-copy of her upcoming release Robbie. Details can be found at the end of her post.
The Homestead Act of 1862, signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, gave adventurous and brave settlers the chance to own land west of the Mississippi River—up to 160 acres each. All they had to do was live on the land and improve it. After five years, the homesteader could file for his or her patent, or deed of title.
Robbie Hathaway, the hero in my next release, ROBBIE, took advantage of that Act to acquire land in northwest Nebraska, not too far from King’s Ford, where he was raised. The adopted son of Reverend James and Esther Hathaway (JAMES, Book 13, Bachelors and Babies Series), Robbie has always wanted to know who he came from—and why they didn’t want him.
A chance meeting in a saloon in North Platte, Nebraska, sends him to Wyoming, where he finally finds answers—and his future.
ROBBIE – Coming October 1, 2021
Left on a pastor’s front porch as an infant, Robbie’s arrival made them a family. Though raised in love, the man he’s become needs to know who he came from… And why didn’t they want him anymore? Then a chance meeting sends him to a remote ranch in Wyoming where he finds more than just his past.
Exiled for believing the promises of a man and left to piece together a new life for herself and her child, Anna will face challenges she never anticipated. When she falls for the stranger whose arrival brings that carefully built life crashing down, can she trust that this time she chose well?
A fatherless child knows exactly who should be her new papa, but can she help her mama believe it, too? A new future awaits them all, if only the three can become a family.
EXCERPT from ROBBIE
North Platte, Nebraska, 1901
His very first Harvest drive with his own herd was finally over—and never had a September been so long. Robbie Hathaway slapped at the dust on his hat and clothes before stepping into the bank, ducking his head a little to avoid cracking his skull on the frame. He’d done all right for only moving fifty head of R-Cross-H cattle to market. Combining his herd with Douglas Randall’s meant the man had an extra cowhand for the drive, while Robbie had help with his own cattle, a chuckwagon to keep him fed, and the safety that comes in numbers.
As soon as the money from selling his beeves was wired to the bank in King’s Ford, he was going to find food and a bath. “Bath and a shave first,” he decided, scratching at the multi-week growth of beard gracing his chin.
“May I help you, sir?” The man behind the counter kept his expression carefully blank.
“I’d like to see Mr. Thompson, please.”
“He’s very busy. Perhaps I can—”
“No, thanks. I was told to ask for Mr. Thompson.”
“I’ll see if he’s available. If you’ll wait here.”
It wasn’t a request, so Robbie leaned against the counter. Several minutes later, the man returned and pointed him toward an open door at the end of the room.
The manager of the First Bank of North Platte eyed Robbie from behind his ostentatious oak desk, a look of distaste pruning his mouth.
Robbie glanced at the name plate on the desk. “Robbie Hathaway, Mr. Thompson. Douglas Randall recommended you and your bank. I’d like to wire some money to my bank in King’s Ford.” Douglas had said this was the only bank in town that didn’t charge the price of a cow on the hoof to wire money.
The banker’s distaste disappeared behind a smile as he rose and extended a hand. Nothing like a pocket full of cash to garner a money man’s appreciation.
“Of course. It will be my pleasure to be of service.” His eyes lit at the sight of the money. “And please thank Mr. Randall for his trust.”
“You can thank him yourself. He said to tell you he’d be along, just as soon as his sale is complete.” Robbie held out the cash and a small piece of paper. “There’s the information you need.”
“Wonderful. I’ll see to your transaction personally. If you’ll just wait here?”
“Uh, Mr. Thompson, I’d appreciate it if you’d count that money right here. Just to be sure I didn’t make a mistake.”
The banker’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly, but he did as requested. Once they both knew exactly how much money he was wiring, he left Robbie in his office.
Robbie waited more than twenty minutes, fidgeting and fretting the whole time about handing his hard-earned cash to a man he’d just met. But carrying it with him all the way back to King’s Ford would be painting a target on his back, even if he took the train. And Douglas said the bank was reputable.
He’d held back enough to pay for train tickets to Ft. Fetterman, northwest of Douglas, Wyoming for himself and his horse, a couple of hotel rooms and some meals along the way, and some trinkets for his mother and sister. The last thing his father said when he left was, Remember to bring a little something for the women.
With the bank transaction finally completed, Robbie walked to the barber shop and bath house across from the hotel where he’d taken a room. It was the same hotel and same barber Douglas had used for the past twenty plus years and that was enough recommendation for him. Once he was neck deep in a tub full of clean, steaming water, he considered his options for the evening.
A meal at the hotel? Or should he partake of food and everything else on offer at The Rose Saloon and Dance Parlor?
Deciding he wasn’t interested in spending time with one of Madame Rose’s girls, he dressed in the only go-to-church clothes he’d brought along and headed for the hotel restaurant. He’d just been seated when he was hailed.
“Evenin’, Robbie. Mind if we join you?” Douglas walked up to the table with Wyatt Harrison, another rancher who’d made the drive from King’s Ford to North Platte with them.
“Please do.” He caught the eye of the pretty young woman who’d showed him to the table and motioned for two more menus.
Robbie didn’t know Harrison that well, mostly because, unlike Douglas, he hadn’t been pestered by a young boy to teach him how to be a rancher. Robbie had searched Douglas out at every Harvest from the time he was tall enough to climb on a horse on his own. When Douglas realized Robbie was serious about learning, he’d made him an honorary hand and the real training began.
While they enjoyed a steak and all the fixings, the three men chatted about the price of their beeves on the hoof, how easy a trip it had been this year, anything that came to mind. Once they’d washed down their apple pie with coffee, they all sat back with a sigh. “It sure is nice to eat something besides Cookie’s recipes.”
“That’s true. The man is decent at the fire, but his menu is limited.” Douglas declined more coffee. “Harrison and I plan to catch the train back to Wyoming day after tomorrow, if you’d like to join us for the trip back.”
“I appreciate the offer. It doesn’t make sense to stay in town very long. Too many nights sleeping in a real bed might make a man soft.”
They shared a laugh. “Fine then, it’s settled. You got plans for tonight?”
Robbie signaled for their checks. “I thought I might grab a beer at The Rose. Maybe sit down to a couple hands of cards.”
Harrison chuckled. “I sometimes forget you do those things, you being raised by a preacher and all. Mind if we tag along?”
“Suit yourself.” Robbie counted out the money to pay for his meal, adding a little extra for the waitress, then motioned for the two older men to lead the way.
Night had crowded out the daylight while they ate, and Robbie studied the shadows and the people they passed carefully as they strolled along the boardwalk. Lantern light from the few open businesses spotted the scuffed planks with gold. Though no one was supposed to be carrying a gun, he knew better than to assume everyone followed the law.
They passed a duded-up city slicker, wearing a gray striped suit and garish scarlet vest, with a matching hat band on his gray bowler. The man stopped to stare as they passed. With no guns to defend himself, the attention made Robbie itchy. Finally, they stepped up the high threshold into The Rose. “Let’s sit over here.” He motioned to an empty table near the bar.
Douglas called out their order to the bartender then settled in a chair and glanced around the crowded saloon. City folk and cowboys rubbed elbows at the bar and card tables, all eager to spend what they’d earned. “I thought you wanted to join a game.”
“Maybe later.” With their backs to the wall, Robbie could watch the room for a while. Around here it never paid to let down your guard.
The bartender had just dropped off their beers when the city slicker came into the saloon. He hesitated just inside and scanned the room, like he was looking for someone. When his gaze lit on Robbie, a huge grin split his face.
“Well, Clade Newton, you old dog. What are you doing in these parts?” He strode to their table, hand extended, then stopped, stared and let his hand drop. “You’re not Clade Newton.” The man shoved his bowler back with one pale finger. “Well, cover me in honey and call me a bee. You could be his twin brother, I do declare.” He took off his fancy hat and scratched the top of his head with a single finger. “Who would have thought it? Sorry to bother you, gentlemen.”
Robbie watched him turn to leave. “Wait.” Under the table he flexed long fingers sore from weeks of holding leather reins and chasing cows. “It’s not every day a man hears he has a twin.” He tried for a friendly smile. “Join us?”
We’re very thrilled to have author and rancher Natalie Bright visit and tell us of her observations about the cowboys of yesterday and today. There’s little difference it seems. She has a new cookbook out full of recipes they serve to the men on the Sanford Ranch. Nobody appreciates good food like cowboys! She’s also giving away a copy.
Thank you all for having me. It’s great to be back. Over a year and a half of research went into my most recent book about the history of the cattle driving era and the food of the chuck wagon. As I searched through countless archived images, I realized that the work cowboys did over 150 years ago continues today. My photos of the Sanford Ranch cowboys are almost identical. The traditions established then are still practiced.
In the early days, fences did not block the route from pastures to the railheads north. Neighboring outfits drove their combined herds to central locations and the trail drives usually consisted of thousands of head. Livestock was rounded up in early spring and branded to establish ownership. Charles Goodnight is credited as inventor of the chuck wagon used to feed cowboys during the months long drive to market.
On the Sanford Ranch we hold spring branding and the tradition of feeding the branding crews continues. These crews consist of seasonal dayworkers, skilled cowboys who travel from ranch to ranch providing extra labor during the busy times of spring and fall workings. A rope, a saddle, and a good ‘cowey’ horse remain the primary tools of the trade. Some ranches treat the cowboys at a local café, while others utilize an SUV or cook trailer to carry food to the pasture. We have an actual cookhouse on our ranch, and we employ a cook who relies on friends and volunteers who enjoy being a part of branding every year. Here are some pictures I took of our cookhouse and branding season.
After breakfast, everyone is saddled and ready to go before first light. Instead of the grit and grime of a trail drive over thousands of miles, horses and riders are transported by pickup truck and trailer. The Ranch foreman makes assignments and explains the route, just as the trail boss did long ago.
A cow’s way of thinking hasn’t changed much in 150 years, and the necessary work of a cowboy remains. The most efficient positioning of driving a herd of cattle is still in practice today. The point man rides in front of the few older cows who naturally become leaders, flankers are on either side and the drag riders follow behind in ‘the dust of the drag’, as it’s called.
Ownership of livestock and land was respected and held in high esteem then as it is now. Our pastures are large, several sections in size (a section equals 640 acres) and the fence line neighbor is notified when we gather. If we have any of their strays, then they can pick them up or we deliver them back home.
I’m the photographer on the ranch and you’ll see me with a camera when I’m out. I love this ranch life and the way I see it I’m recording history and trying to make sure it doesn’t get lost.
My newest book, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, is classified as cookbook but it contains so much more. Along with history and photos, the book includes over 100 recipes from authentic cow camp meals to modern recipes from our own cookhouse. You don’t need a fire pit or a chuck wagon. You can prepare these dishes in your own kitchen…and you can bet they’re all cowboy approved. (Click on the cover to go to Amazon.)
In my new western romance series, THE WILD COW RANCH, my co-author Denise and I include some of these long-held traditions of cattle ranching as well as the small-town sense of community and faith. Elements that are very much alive today. (Click on the picture and it’ll take you to Amazon.)
What interests you the most about the American cowboy and the cattle ranching legacy?
For a chance to win a FREE copy of my cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’, please leave a comment below. And if you enjoy pictures of cows and the Texas sky, follow me on Instagram @natsgrams #sanfordranch and Pinterest.
The Fillies are happy to welcome Lacy Williams and her latest historical western romance. She’s giving away a gift card to someone who leaves a comment about their bucket list.
Do you have a bucket list?
Google says a bucket list is “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to accomplish during their lifetime”. I’ve always thought of it as a list of goals or places I want to go before I get to the end of my life.
I almost always have a list of written goals. January first is a great time to renew that list. I look at my goals frequently. But a bucket list is a little different. Like, I want to visit Europe someday. I’d like to have a book on the New York Times bestseller list. I want to see my children give their lives to Jesus.
Right now it feels like I have plenty of time to complete my bucket list.
But what would it feel like if you knew your time was almost up?
In THE WRANGLER’S READY-MADE FAMILY, hero Gil has been diagnosed with consumption and doctors have told him he only has months to live. Gil feels restless and unmoored. He doesn’t really have a bucket list, he just feels as if his life isn’t over yet.
And when he meets heroine Susie in a stagecoach accident, he feels like he’s gotten a second chance. When he begins to fall for her, he wants to use his limited time left to help her reconnect with her estranged family.
But it turns out one “bucket list” wish isn’t enough.
About the book:
Susie is a desperate young mother with another baby on the way. Her late husband left her nothing but his bad reputation. She has no money and is too ashamed to return home to her family. When she is trapped alone during a snowstorm with a stranger and the baby coming, her only choice is to rely on him.
Boone came west to find healing for his tuberculosis. He never expected to find himself trapped with a lost young widow. Or how fast he could fall for her and her two little ones. But it doesn’t take long for his secrets to come to light.
After everything she’s suffered in the past, can Susie ever trust another gambler?
I’d love to give away a $10 Amazon gift card to one commenter who tells me something on your bucket list. Good luck!
Thank you for hosting me on the Petticoats blog today!
Lacy Williams wishes her writing career was more like what you see on Hallmark movies: dreamy brainstorming from a French chateau or a few minutes at the computer in a million-dollar New York City penthouse. In reality, she’s up before the sun, putting words on the page before her kids wake up for the day. Those early-morning and late-night writing sessions add up, and Lacy has published fifty books in almost a decade, first with a big five publisher and then as an indie author. When she needs to refill the well, you can find Lacy birdwatching, gardening, biking with the kiddos, or walking the dog. Find tons of bonus scenes and reader extras by becoming a VIP reader at http://www.lacywilliams.net/vip
The Fillies welcome the return of Charlene Raddon. Her series are much in demand for their unusual storylines. She’s giving away two copies of CONNOR so leave a comment to be entered.
Cattle ranchers are notorious for hating sheep. The hero in my new book, Connor, Cupids & Cowboys Book 12, is no exception but doesn’t believe violence is the answer, and so, Connor sets about finding a solution.
There were many armed battles in western states, particularly Arizona, Wyoming, and Colorado, between cattlemen and sheepmen over grazing rights. Cattlemen saw the sheepherders as invaders who destroyed the public grazing lands, which they had to share on a first-come, first-served basis. Between 1870 and 1920, approximately 120 engagements occurred in eight different states or territories, resulting in the deaths of over 50 men and the slaughter of 50,000 to over 100,000 sheep.
One of the most famous cattlemen/sheepmen battles occurred in Pleasant Valley, Arizona, resulting in the near annihilation of the men of three families. In 1884, angry Arizona cattlemen rounded up wild horses, strapped cowbells to their necks, rawhide to their tails, and drove them into a series of sheep herds numbering more than 25,000, yelling and firing guns in the process. The sheep scattered in all directions, many killed or wounded. That same year, cowboys drove over 4,000 sheep into the Little Colorado River, many of which died in quicksand.
The sheep wars in Wyoming and Colorado were exceptionally violent and lasted well into the 1900s. Wyoming saw about twenty-four attacks and at least six deaths between 1879 and 1909. In Garfield County, Colorado, 3,800 sheep were driven over cliffs into Parachute Creek. About 1,500 more sheep were massacred there in the same year. In November 1899, forty masked men attacked a sheep camp located on the lower Snake River. Over 3,000 sheep were “clubbed and scattered,” the shepherds robbed, and their wagon burned.
In Wyoming, 1896, about 12,000 sheep were slaughtered in a single night by being driven off a cliff near North Rock Springs. In 1905, ten masked men attacked a sheep camp on Shell Creek in the Big Horn Basin. The cowboys clubbed about 4,000 sheep and burned the wagons with two live sheepdogs tied to the wheels. The owner of the flock lost about $40,000. Similar events took place up until about 1912.
Near Ten Sleep, Wyoming, three sheepherders were killed, along with many of their sheep and dogs. No one expected anything to come of it, but seven men were arrested, five of them sent to prison, and cattlemen became reluctant to attack sheepmen.
In Montana, where my story, Connor, Cupids & Cowboys Book 12, is set, similar proceedings took place, few as severe and deadly as those in other states.
According to Robert Elman, author of Badmen of the West, the sheep wars ended because of the decline of open rangeland and changes in ranching practices, which removed the causes for hostilities.
How did Connor resolve the cattle/sheep war in my story? Here’s an excerpt:
“Folks,” Connor began (addressing the members of the Cutthroat, Montana Stockgrowers Association), “this is Mr. Dean Rivers. He has a ranch near Hawksville where he raises cattle and sheep and kindly consented to tell us of his experiences. I hope you’ll do him the courtesy of listening as you would with any other speaker.”
Rivers cleared his throat. “As Connor said, I have a ranch about forty miles east of here. I know how you feel. That’s how I saw the matter at first. Never intended to raise sheep. It was my wife who went out and bought fifty of ’em and herded them home.” He chuckled. “We had quite a row about it, I can tell you. Before coming here tonight at Connor’s request, I sat down and calculated the monetary differences between raising sheep and cattle. The results surprised even me. I think they’ll come as a bit of a shock to you.”
Before continuing, he laid his hat on his chair and moved behind the podium. “Hope you don’t mind if I rest my weary bones on this here Bible stand.”
A few in the audience chuckled. The others sat stone-faced, determined not to listen.
“Now, these figures are only as accurate as my mathematics, which my old schoolteacher will tell you ain’t much.”
More laughter. Connor glanced around. The ranchers had settled down and appeared to like Dean Rivers. No doubt because of his friendly, down-home looks and manner of speaking.
“For the purposes of this here talk,” Rivers went on, “we’ll say an animal unit is a one-thousand-pound cow with a five-hundred-pound calf pulling on her teat. And we’ll say six sheep equal that cow. Now, my figures can differ somewhat with grass/forb ratios, terrain, and grazing management, but I’d call it whisker close. That cow and calf, or animal unit, should be worth about sixteen dollars. Am I right?”
Several men shouted, “Close.”
“All right. Now, those six sheep, or animal unit, should produce ten lambs worth three dollars and twenty cents apiece. That comes out to thirty-two dollars per animal unit compared to sixteen dollars for the cow and calf. See where I’m going here?”
“That’s a fairly noticeable difference,” Rivers said. “Should I lose a cow, I’m out sixteen dollars. If I lose a sheep, I’m out three-fifty. But we’re talking animal units, so losing those six sheep would cost me thirty-two dollars.
“There’re costs to raising these critters, of course.” Rivers continued. “Deworming, de-licing, de-ticking, salt, ear tags if you use ’em, hiring extra hands for roundup and branding. That’s just for cows. To herd a hundred cows, you need at least two hired hands on horseback. Three would be better. To bring in a hundred sheep, you send out a couple of sheepdogs. They don’t ask for wages, just a bone and a pat on the head. Try that with your hired hands.”
Some laughter broke out.
“We never make it through a season of handling cows without our share of physical injuries,” Rivers said. “Stomped-on toes, crushed ribs, broken arms. Had a hand once got his eye poked out by a steer’s horn. Ain’t had no injuries with sheep. Another thing; sheep’ll eat ‘most anything. Weeds, thistles, and plants poisonous to cows. Cows gotta have grass.”
“That’s the trouble,” someone yelled. “The damned sheep don’t leave nothing left for the cows to eat.”
Rivers held up a hand. “Not if you move them often enough. Just takes some monitoring. Plus, you can put your sheep higher up the mountain where not much grass grows, but there’s plenty of weeds. So far, I’ve had no problems with cows refusing to graze where sheep have been.”
“Aw, bull-cracky,” a man spat. “You genuinely expect us to believe that?”
Chatter broke out among the men, and several booed.
Rivers shrugged. “I’m only telling you my experiences, friend. You can believe what you want. When you get right down to the facts—and you can figger ’em yourself from what I’ve told you—three hundred cows will give you a profit of four thousand, eight hundred dollars at the end of the year.”
He waited a moment while murmurs of agreement and approval circulated through the audience.
“The same number of animal units in sheep,” he added with a pause, “will bring you nine-thousand, six hundred.”
A stunned silence followed.
Not all the ranchers were convinced, but enough to defuse the hostilities. The fact that Rosalina Camila Antonella DeLeon, the beautiful owner of the sheep in question, also spoke and won the ranchers’ respect helped. It also worked to move the romance between Connor and Rosalina along, and, after all, that’s what the book is truly about.
If you had been a sheepherder back then, would you have stayed and fought (possibly dying) or packed up and gone someplace else?
Leave a comment to get in the drawing for two copies of CONNOR!
Charlene Raddon is an Amazon bestselling author with twenty-two western historical romance books to her credit. She never intended to become a writer, however. Charlene was an artist until she discovered romance novels and had a vivid dream that begged to be put into a book. So, she dragged out a typewriter and went to work. She’s been writing ever since. Her other interests are crocheting, genealogy, travel, Ukranian egg dying, and graphic design. Charlene has her own book cover website offering premade covers. She specializes in western historical covers.
They made their way to Missouri to join a wagon train company. Hopeful Americans and immigrants alike longing for a better life. The free land in the West, and especially in Oregon, seemed the stepping stone to that life of plenty.
Just imagine that first day of walking the hundred miles to the other side of the continent. Here’s how I pictured it for my latest heroine in Beau’s Elegant Bride:
The oxen slowed even more than their typical crawling speed. One even tried to snatch a mouthful of grass from beside the road. Using the small whip in his hand. Beau carefully snapped it above their heads. At the same time, he crooned a command.
“Giddup now. Day’s not done.”
The cattle resumed their walk, pulling slightly faster. It seemed they were no happier to be on this trail than Francy was. Never in her life had she imagined to feel any kinship to stupid beasts.
While more than an estimated 400,000 people left from Missouri on wagon trains for Oregon, very few made it to that spot. Only about 80,000 actually settled in Oregon.
If you’ve played the popular Oregon Trail game, you might think these overlanders simply died. That works for a game, but is historically untrue. Very few actually passed away.
The trail ended some pioneers’ dreams merely because of broken wagons. If a traveler didn’t bring an extra axel, he had to settle near where he was stuck. That is, if someone couldn’t help repair the wagon.
Even then, discouragement might have been enough to make the man decide to stay on the plains. After all, land for farming could be claimed there and if a man had served in the Union Army during the war between the states, he could stake a claim for little or nothing.
As wagons reached the Rocky Mountains, travelers could see distant towering shapes growing daily larger. Imagine how intimidated those people felt. Already tired from crossing the plains, they saw those distant peaks and knew they needed the energy to get over the mountains. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oregon-Trail
At the junction of the Raft and Snake Rivers, trails verged to other parts of the country. These promised a bit easier going or even the chance to settle and leave the trail behind.
Denver had a boom of miners. The young city, not much more than a collection of tents as you can see by this picture, desperately needed the produce from farmers.
Many settlers veered toward the land available there. Word had been passed to these travelers that the soil was good. The promised of building a home and even planting a late summer garden lured some from their goal of Oregon.
My characters in Beau’s Elegant Bride consider this very thing:
Panic flashed through her. “Do you think we might farm near the Crooks? Are they going all the way to Oregon?”
“Might be we could change plans. The Crooks are leavin’ the company and followin’ the South Platte in a few days.”
“Are there mountains that way?”
Beau squeezed her tighter and rested his chin on her head, not something easily done as they were similar in height. With her head bent against him, he managed it. “I’d need to study my map or ask William Crook ‘bout it. He says the people in and around Denver need farmers bringin’ in vegetables.”
News from California circulated in the East about the rich soil and crops that could be grown. California, with its warmer temperatures or even the promise of gold, also had some separating from the wagon trains to make up a smaller train as they headed away from the company to take a southern trail.
Where did all the settlers go? The easy answer is they simply settled, lived, and helped change the face of our nation.
Now it’s your turn. Do you think you’d have had the strength needed to stay on the path to Oregon? Or would you have stopped or veered off course long before? I’m giving away an ebook copy of Beau’s Elegant Bride to three (3) lucky commenters.
The Sweepstakes Rules posted on P&P apply.
A retired high school English teacher, she and her husband reside in Saginaw, Michigan. Her sweet historical romances focus on her home state of Wisconsin. Inspiration to write came in part from hearing family stories about her pioneering Wisconsin ancestors.
Turquoise, sterling silver, mother of pearl—oh my! When it comes to jewelry, I love artisan pieces with a pop of the unexpected. In particular, I like pieces that I can mix and match and ones that can be layered with all types of clothes, from casual to dressy.
For instance, I think these turquoise hoop earrings could go with so many outfits.
So when the heroine in my latest novel needed a profession, it was fun to make her a jewelry designer. Readers can get lost in this world through my latest novel, ISLAND CHARM. Here’s a quick overview:
Jewelry designer Anna Worthington takes the Key West honeymoon intended for her identical twin, leading to island surprises and tropical romance but with an expiration date.
In the novel, readers get to travel with Anna (who hails from Texas) as she explores western/southwestern elements and then uses them to add her own twists to jewelry making.
Jewelry is a passion for a lot of individuals, and it’s easy to see why. There are so many options for creating and accessorizing!
My hometown has its own artisan named Richard Schmidt, and his craftsmanship is what I used as inspiration for the types of pieces Anna Worthington designs in ISLAND CHARM. And, yes, even though Richard does not live near the coast, he still uses some coastal elements in his jewelry.
This starfish ring reminds me of something Anna would wear:
The last cuff in this photo uses spiny oyster, a material that Anna decides to use after discovering it in Key West during ISLAND CHARM.
Now the storyline isn’t just about jewelry. There’s more to explore in ISLAND CHARM. Here’s a full synopsis:
When Anna Worthington’s twin sister gets jilted by her fiancé, Anna steps in with a plan for a girls’ Key West getaway instead of a honeymoon trip. Yet when her twin has her own crisis of commitment and doesn’t board the plane, Anna finds herself on a romantic getaway that she’s forced to navigate alone.
Gunnar Lockhart, whose specialty is island tourism, is the perfect match for helping Anna complete her vacation bucket list, but time together forges a connection more personal than either anticipate. As they make island memories, Anna has to untangle her mixed emotions. Are her feelings toward Gunnar real? Or like her sister’s wedding day, has this connection been doomed from the start?
So whether you are a jewelry lover or a book lover, there is something for everyone in ISLAND CHARM.
Thank you to all the writers and readers at Petticoats & Pistols for chatting today. To celebrate the book’s release, I’d like everyone to think about memorable jewelry in their own lives. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF JEWELRY AND WHY? Share it in the comments below.
One randomly selected commenter is going to win a lovely summer prize: A CD that includes over a dozen e-books (including ISLAND CHARM!) that can be read in virtually any format. ARV= over $50. Learn more about the CD HERE.
Note: all photographs of jewelry in this blog post are used with permission of Richard Schmidt.
Bio: Audrey Wick is a full-time English professor at Blinn College and author of women’s fiction/romance. Her writing has also appeared in college textbooks, and she is a guest blog columnist with Writer’s Digest. Wick believes the secret to happiness includes lifelong learning and good stories. But travel and coffee help. She has journeyed to over twenty countries—and sipped coffee at every one. See photos on her website audreywick.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @WickWrites.
With homesteads on the American prairie often far from the nearest town, people needed a unique way to get together, aside from an occasional quilting bee or barn raising. Some ingenious folks came up with the idea of holding a “box social” as a way to catch up with friends, smile at new babies, and—and many cases—raise funds for school supplies or church pews. Since corrugated cardboard boxes weren’t in existence until 1871, and wooden crates were expensive, willow baskets proved a good substitution.
The premise for the auction was simple; women would decorate a basket and fill it with a supper for two. The men bid on the women’s boxes anticipating a meal with the women whose box it is. Generally, the boxes are anonymous so the men don’t know whose box they are bidding on. Of course, if the men knew their wife’s box they were expected to bid on it and get it for their supper. The real competition was among the bachelors and the unmarried ladies with the mystery, teasing, joking, and sometimes humorous results adding to the fun.
The women were very clever at decorating their baskets. Many times the unmarried women would surreptitiously drop hints indicating which box was hers. Pieces of fabric, wildflowers, string or yarn, or burlap doubled as clues as a way of rigging the results.
The auctioneer would start the bidding by announcing the contents of the basket. Cold fried chicken, ham biscuits, hard-cooked eggs, pickles, and cornbread were perennial favorites. Coconut Jumbles, Joe Froggers (molasses cookies), slices of pound cake were most welcomed. And if a bidder was real lucky, a dried apple pie might be tucked in between the folds of a length of toweling.
Often the bidding would start slowly at “two bits” (twenty-five cents). To sharpen the bidding, a glib-tongued auctioneer encouraged the men, embellishing the contents of the basket making the food sound more appetizing than it might have been. By the end of the bidding, towns usually netted between ten to fifteen dollars depending on the number of baskets.
While watching the second act of Oklahoma! (the box social scene), I was inspired to add this feature in my newest release Grace-Brides of New Hope-Book Three. If you’d like to read an excerpt CLICK HERE
Though the practice had fallen out of favor with young people since the 1950s, there has been some resurgence in recent years. The rules have become less rigid with men providing boxes as well, but the goal remains the same…raising funds for a school, church, or civic project.
I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Lessie-Brides of New Hope Book One and Posey-Brides of New Hope Book Twoto one random winner! For a chance to win, answer the question below:
As a bachelor/unmarried woman, would you have participated in a box supper social in New Hope, Kansas in 1872. Why or Why not?
Jo-Ann Roberts was born and raised in western Massachusetts. Fascinated by America’s Old West, she always felt she was destined to travel on a wagon train following the Oregon Trail. She enjoys writing sweet historical romances which take readers back to a simpler time when families and friends help one another find love and happiness.
To purchase Grace-Brides of New Hope Book Three CLICK HERE
All three books in the Brides of New Hope series are available for free for those who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.