Nineteenth Century Hysteria and a Give Away!

Back in the 19th century, women developed, (in epidemic numbers, mind) an entire syndrome even doctors sometimes interpreted as a power grab rather than a genuine illness. This new disease was called “Hysteria.”

For example, my character Mrs. Dunnigan of Clear Creek, a character from the Prairie Bride and Prairie Groom series, uses hysteria on several occasions to get her way. Many authors have had their characters “afflicted” with this malady, but fiction is one thing. Reality another. Back in the nineteenth century, this new disease epitomized the fact that a lot of women didn’t have proper emotional outlets. Interestingly enough, the “disease” affected upper and upper-middle-class women almost exclusively. The “working class” were far too busy working to catch it. Naturally, it had no discernible organic basis and it was totally resistant to medical treatment. For those reasons alone, it was worth considering in some detail.

Doctors, however, were baffled. Hysteria appeared, not only as fits and fainting, but in every other form: hysterical loss of voice, loss of appetite, hysterical coughing or sneezing, and, of course, hysterical screaming, laughing, and crying. The disease spread wildly, yet almost exclusively in a select clientele of urban middle and upper-class white women between the ages of 15 and 45. Doctors became obsessed with this most confusing, mysterious and rebellious of diseases.

In a lot of ways, it was the ideal disease for the doctors. After all, it was never fatal and it required an almost endless amount of medical attention. On the other hand, it was not an ideal disease from the point of view of the husband and family of the afflicted woman. This put most doctors on the spot. It was essential to their professional self-esteem either to find an organic basis for the disease and of course cure it or to expose it as a clever charade. Women weren’t too happy when the latter occurred.

Doctors began to observe that many “afflicted” never had fits when alone, and only when there was something soft to fall on. One doctor accused patients of pinning their hair in such a way that it would fall luxuriously when they fainted. The hysterical “type” began to be characterized as a “pretty tyrant” with a “taste for power” over her husband, servants, children and, if possible, her doctor.

But doctors’ accusations had some truth to them. The “hysterical fit” for many women was the only acceptable outburst they had for emotions like anger, despair, or simply to expel pent-up energy. However, it would be years before men recognized women as anything other than sickly, weak and fragile.

Perhaps this is why we are so attracted to strong female characters of Western romances and other stories. Sure, we don’t mind if a heroine faints. But it’s more fun to watch her fight for what she wants. It’s hard for a woman of the 21st-century to relate to the hysterical fainting woman of the 19th-century. Though we do like to have them in a story or two, don’t we? Sometimes as the antagonist, sometimes as a secondary character. They’re still fun. Not only that but historically accurate in a lot of cases. To sum it up, if you lived in the nineteenth century, one could probably make a good living making fainting couches. My character Mrs. Dunnigan doesn’t own a fainting couch, she preferred to fall on the ground for a much more convincing effect. I’ll choose a random winner from the comments below to win a free copy of Her Prairie Knight, in which Mrs. Dunnigan uses hysteria like a pro, as you can see in this excerpt from Her Prairie Knight (Prairie Brides Book Two):

 

Now Belle’s laughter caught everyone’s attention, as she and Colin were over halfway down the trail. Some turned and waved at the newcomers, others headed over to greet them.

Mrs. Dunnigan also turned to look, with a huge smile on her face. Then the smile vanished. Her eyes widened, closed tight, opened and widened again. She snorted like an about-to-charge bull, threw down the serving spoon she held in her hand and took a few steps forward, glowering at the couple as they reached the bottom of the trail.

Belle and Colin didn’t notice. But they were walking toward Harrison and Sadie, who most certainly did.

Mrs. Dunnigan took one last look at Belle with Colin, glanced around herself and let fly with a noise somewhere between a wail and a locomotive whistle. Belle turned just in time to see her aunt drop to the ground in a faint that had it been on the stage, would have brought applause and some gasps from the audience. As it was, it did elicit a gasp from Fanny Fig, who threw up her arms in shock before making her way to her fallen friend.

Harrison would have been running to her as well if he hadn’t noticed Mrs. Dunnigan looking for the best possible place to land beforehand. He turned to Sadie, who stood with her mouth open in shock. “Oh, dear.”

“Auntie!” Belle exclaimed as she pulled away from Colin and dashed toward her aunt, who now lay in the grass on her back. Fanny Fig knelt beside her, fanning the unconscious form with her reticule, its long thin strings of beads hitting Mrs. Dunnigan in the face.

Harrison rolled his eyes at the scene. “Do you think they rehearsed it?” he asked his wife dryly.

Sadie was about to object to his cynicism, then stopped and thought about it. “Most likely,” she replied before making her way to the gathering crowd.

Colin, meanwhile, watched in exasperation as he joined his brother. He grinned despite himself. “Did you see that? I didn’t know Mrs. Dunnigan had it in her.”

“And I didn’t know our little picnic would come with a show.” Harrison laughed and put his arm around Colin. “Come along, dear brother. Let’s go see what she does for an encore.”

Colin’s face took on a more serious look. “Frankly, I’m afraid to find out.”

* * *

Aunt Irene’s eyes fluttered open as Fanny Fig continued her furious fanning/beating. Belle reached out and grabbed Fanny’s wrist to stop her. At this point, she was convinced her aunt hadn’t really fainted. Who could possibly stay insensate when one’s face was being whipped by beaded fringe?

“Doc Waller!” Fanny cried.

Belle looked at the faces of the townsfolk who’d gathered. Doc Waller wasn’t among them, but Grandma was. The old woman pushed her way through and bent to look at the patient. “You all right, Irene?”

Belle watched Aunt Irene moan and her eyes roll back.

“Someone fetch me a cup of water!” Grandma yelled.

“I don’t think she’s in any shape to drink anything,” Harvey Brown commented.

“I’m not going to have her drink it! Nothing brings a person around quicker than a cupful of cold creek water thrown in their face.”

Aunt Irene’s eyes fluttered once more. Belle closed her own eyes and sighed. How far was her aunt going to take this?

“Here ya go, Grandma,” Mr. Dunnigan said, handing her a cup.

“Land sakes, Wilfred! How’d you get this so fast?”

“Went to the creek the minute I seen her go down.”

Belle looked at her uncle, who didn’t seem overly concerned. It seems I’m not the only “doubting Thomas.” Oh, Auntie, really?

“Belle …,” Aunt Irene moaned. She sounded like she was auditioning for the part of the ghost in Hamlet.

“You want this?” Grandma asked Belle, shoving the cup at her. Belle took it. “If she closes her eyes again, toss it at her. She’ll come around.” Obviously, she suspected Aunt Irene’s faint was nothing more than theatrics as well.

Not all of the other townsfolk were so astute. “I’ll help you take her back to town, Miss Belle,” Harvey Brown offered.

“That’s mighty neighborly of you, Harvey, but I’ll take Irene back to town,” Uncle Wilfred replied. “No sense you missing out on any of the festivities.”

“Oh, well … if Miss Belle is going to be staying, I’d be happy to keep an eye on her, Wilfred.”

Belle stood as Harvey looked her up and down and smiled. Maybe she ought to toss the cup of water in his face …

“No need, Harvey – the Cookes will look after her,” Uncle Wilfred told him.

Aunt Irene moaned again.

Doc Waller finally showed up, a fishing pole in one hand, a lovely trout in the other. “What’s all the commotion?”

“Irene’s done ‘fainted’.” Wilfred drawled. “We’d best get her back to town.”

“Belllllle ….” Aunt Irene wailed. “I need Belle!”

Doc Waller handed his pole and fish to Harvey. “Let’s have a look.” He knelt next to Aunt Irene and began to examine her. “Any headaches lately, Irene?”

She looked at Belle. “Yes,” she moaned. “I think Belle should take me home and take care of me.”

Grandma snorted. “A young gal from Boston taking care of a sick woman? What does she know about doctoring? I’ll take you home myself and give you a good dose of castor oil! Trust me; it’ll fix you right up!”

Aunt Irene moaned again. “Belle! Belle, where are you?”

Belle was now having trouble keeping a straight face. She felt sorry for her aunt, stooping to such childish antics – but not so sorry that she wasn’t willing to have just as much fun with it as her uncle and the Wallers. “I trust your judgment, Mrs. Waller. If castor oil is what she really needs, then you’d best get her home and give her some.”

Her aunt perked up at that. “Oh, Belle, just take me home, will you? I’ll feel much better after I lie down.”

“You’re already lying down,” Grandma quipped. “Seems to me you should be feeling better already.”

Aunt Irene scowled. “Don’t tell me how I should feel! You’re not the doctor!”

“I agree with Grandma on this one,” Uncle Wilfred said with a chuckle. “Now let’s get you up and take you home.”

“But … but what about Belle?” Aunt Irene screeched.

“What about her?”

“She’s going home with us!”

“Why should she? She isn’t feeling poorly. Harvey, give me a hand, will you?” Harvey helped Uncle Wilfred pull her aunt up from the grassy ground. She stood unsteadily and tried to grab Belle for support, but Uncle Wilfred, God bless him, was quicker and grabbed her instead. “Belle will be in good hands with the Cookes and the Figs. And Colin can bring her home,” he added.

Belle couldn’t believe her uncle had said it. She could believe how quickly Aunt Irene’s face reddened in fury. The townsfolk backed up en masse.

 

Mail-Order Bride Stories, Why We Love ‘Em! And a Give Away!

Hi, Kit Morgan here. As some of you may know, I have a lot of books out. 84 at present, most of which are, you guessed it, mail-order bride stories.
So why do I write so many? Because there are readers out there who can’t seem to get enough of them. They LOVE stories of two people thrown together and marrying that very day or within days (at times a couple of weeks depending on circumstances) and starting a new life. Scary, right? You betcha!
But I’m not the only author who’s delved into this realm. Many of the other fillies here at Petticoats and Pistols have too! And, like me, I’m sure while researching this fun and interesting topic, they’ve discovered that becoming a mail-order bride wasn’t all it was cracked up to be back in the day. In fact, it could be downright dangerous. 

     

Chris Enss, a wonderful author who writes about women in the old west, wrote a fantastic book on the subject entitled Hearts West. I remember buying my copy in the gift shop at Crater Lake in Oregon (we were camping nearby) taking it back to the campsite, starting it that night and finishing it the next day. I was fascinated by all the stories of love gone wrong, but also the many that went right. Still, the women braving such an endeavor were taking a huge risk. Often times their grooms never met them at the train station or stage stop. Worse, the man was horrible. One look and the poor bride wanted to tuck tail and run! The terrible truth was they had nowhere to go in a lot of cases. Of course, these historical facts make for some good storytelling as my fellow fillies can all agree. We love to take things that happened in the past and make them our own. My personal favorite is to have a mail-order bride show up and the poor groom had no idea she was coming! All of us at Petticoats and Pistols who’ve written mail-order bride stories have put our own twist on the subject with wonderful romantic results! Myself I have entire series devoted to mail-order brides and their ups and downs

 

 

But could any of us become a mail-order bride today? Yes, we have the internet now and contemporary romance authors have written about e-mail-order brides. With matchmaking sites all over the web, people are having those first-time face to face encounters all the time. Many resulting in marriage, though not on the first date! I’ll be writing a book next month involving a mail-order groom. I’ve always wanted to do one!

Okay, so for fun, picture yourself as a mail-order bride back in the old west. You’ve gone to the mail-order bride agency and you’re sitting across the desk from the matchmaker. She hands you a stack of applicants. What kind of man are you hoping to find among the pages? Back then I would imagine things would come down to some basic requirements. But here are your choices for a husband. Which would you choose? Pick from the ads posted here and below.

And yes, these are actual ads posted by men looking for mail-order brides back in the 1880’s.

I’ll pick one lucky winner from the comments to receive any THREE of my mail-order bride books! You can check out my books on my website at http://www.authorkitmorgan.com

**********************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

Ah, the Family Cow … and a Give Away!

   Back in the old west (among other places) once a frontier/pioneer family started to settle and cleared a little land, they bought a cow. If they didn’t have one already, that is.

The useful cow provided milk to feed the family and any calves they might be blessed with could be sold, slaughtered for meat or, if male, trained to plow and pull a wagon. The milk could also be turned into cheese and butter to trade at the general store or used to fatten the pigs and hens. Believe it or not, very little of the milk was used for drinking. As a result, people didn’t get as much calcium as they needed back then and many lost their teeth by the time they were thirty. But cows had other uses as well.

If a Pioneer family ran out of candles they could melt butter and pour it into a small lamp called a “cruisie” or “betty lamp.” The melted butter fueled the linen wick and gave a small amount of light.

In winter when cows couldn’t graze on fresh grass, the butter made from their milk was almost white. Carrot scrapings were used to give the butter a more pleasing color. One of the first color additives!

Families on the move made butter by hanging a leather bag full of cream from the back of the wagon. The bumpy ride churned the butter as the family traveled. Don’t think to hang a bag of cream off your truck and go four wheeling. Unless of course, you’d really like to have that fresh butter!

 

I don’t have any cows in my latest release. My heroines hail from Boston, they didn’t need to worry about a cow. As they travel west by train and stagecoach, hanging a bag of cream off the back of the stagecoach might have been an option, but they were more interested in meeting their future husbands than making butter. Gee, I wonder if they bought a cow once they were settled? Have you ever had a cow? Had a neighbor that had one? Comment below and I’ll choose a random winner to receive an e-book copy of Dear Mr. Comforts.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with a little snippet! 

Rosie Callahan waved at her latest suitor as he ran down the porch steps. “Goodbye, Nicholas – I hope you call on me again!” She closed the door, groaned and let her head fall against it. “Rats. Lost another one.” She turned with a sigh and went into the parlor.

“Well?” her sister Georgie said. “Is he going to call on you tomorrow?”

Rosie shook her head, fell into the nearest chair and groaned again. “How does Aunt Henrietta expect us to get married when she chases off every potential groom?” She glanced around the room. “Where is Aunt Henrietta?”

“Upstairs in her room.” Her eyes flicked to the ceiling and back. “I hope she stays there.”

“Where’s Hunny?” Rosie asked. Their older sister, Phryne Hunnicutt Callahan, had gone by that nickname ever since she was ten, when she found out what historical figure her parents had accidentally named her after. Rosalind and Georgina were thankful that their Christian names lent themselves to comfortable shortening.

“She hasn’t returned from choir practice. Maybe that nice Mr. Edmonds will walk her home.”

“Mr. Edmonds the land agent? I thought he left town to go further west.”

Georgie shrugged. “Maybe he did. I can’t keep track anymore.”

Rosie beat her head against the back of the chair a few times. “At this rate we’ll never get married.”

“I’m worried you’re right,” Georgie agreed. “The way Aunt Henrietta acts, you’d think she doesn’t want us to marry, yet she’s always talking about it. I don’t understand her at all.”

“Nor I,” Rosie picked at a fingernail. “What if we never marry?”

Georgie’s eyes widened. “Don’t talk like that. Of course we’ll marry – it’s only a matter of time.”

“Only a matter of time before Aunt Henrietta chases off every viable suitor in the city. That woman is missing a wagon wheel.”

“Quiet, or she’ll hear you.”

Rosie folded her arms and sat back. “So what if she does? Tarnation, you know it’s true.”

Georgie gasped. “Rosie, watch your language!”

“What does it matter? I’m never going to be in a room with a man long enough for him to notice my manner of speech.”She got to her feet and paced. “Maybe I’ll bake some cookies. That always helps.”

“You can’t bake something every time this happens,” Georgie pointed out. “Even if it was you this time. My suitors never last past one visit. At least with Nathaniel Bridgewater you got two.”

“I know, but cookies make me feel better no matter who it happens to.” She turned and headed for the dining room.

Georgie jumped out of her chair. “Wait for me!”

Rosie crossed the dining room to the rear door that led to the kitchen downstairs. Aunt Henrietta had a large two-story townhome in Denver, complete with servant’s quarters, a summer kitchen and a lovely backyard with a gazebo. She didn’t actually keep servants – she was too cheap for that. Instead, she had three nieces to boss around and keep the house clean and the meals cooked.

Rosie – the cook – went into the larder to gather what she needed. “Sugar or molasses?” she asked Georgie.

“Molasses. We ate sugar cookies the last time Hunny got jilted.”

Rosie nodded. “True. Maybe we should make a different cookie when she gets jilted next time.”

Dear Mr. Comforts is available for pre-order on <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JDYRR1ZAmazon/a/p?tag=pettpist-20

Kit Morgan’s Winners!

Woo Hoo! And my winners are: Tonya Lucas, Kim Hansen, Stephanie Jenkins Ortiz Cerrillo and Yvonne Wohlfeil! Congratulations ladies, you each get one free e-copy of your choice of the books displayed in my blog post. Comment here to tell me which title you would like and we’ll go from there!

Summer’s end, Fall’s beginning and a Giveaway!

 

Ah, Autumn, it’s finally here! And I’m loving it! This is my favorite time of year and has been for as long as I can remember. I love the changing of the seasons as summer fades and fall begins. And of course, I’ve set books around this wonderful time of year but we’ll get to those in a moment. Right now, I want to share a few recent moments (literally, as I just ran outside and snapped some pictures from around the house) and some not so recent but hey, I thought I’d share! 

I’m in Oregon and the leaves are just starting to change. One of my favorite things about fall is what I call the “carpet.” It starts with the cedar trees changing color. Toward the end of October, the orange bits of cedar fall off with the east winds to carpet the driveway and ground, turning everything orange! It’s a grand sight and the smell is lovely too!  I used to love walking home from school, (the house is in a canyon with a mile long driveway) getting to the bottom of the canyon and walking on the “carpet.” My sister and I own the house we grew up in, and of course, this delight never gets old!

Fall also brings with it familiar friends, as our local deer love to venture into the canyon and do so more often in autumn. Always a fun sight, I like sipping coffee and watching them when I can. And yes, these are some of the girls in front of my house by the creek. Autumn is also beautiful in different parts of the country. I spend a lot of time in New York City as my daughter and son both live there. Here’s a shot of a trail in Prospect Park, my favorite. A beautiful place in the Fall!  And then of course, there’s the food … 

Last night I made my first fall dinner. Thin cut pork chops with potatoes, onions, and carrots simmered in Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup. It’s so easy. Just brown your pork chops, add your soup and water as per instructions on the can, stir, add vegetables and stir again! Then let simmer until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste. That’s it! You can also add red cabbage or any other vegetables you want!  It’s simple and yummy! Of course, hearty fall recipes get me thinking about pumpkin cookies and what not. You’ve got to have dessert, right? I’m always up for some of that!

Okay, on to the books! I’ve written a few books that take place in autumn. Both historical and contemporary. These books are near and dear to my heart because of my love of the season. Authors approach seasonal romance differently. Some really showcase the season itself, so that it becomes a huge part of the story (almost like a character). Others touch simply on it so you enjoy the setting with your characters. I love all the different ways authors in my particular genre write about how folks celebrated the season with harvest festivals, All Hallows Eve, Fall barn raisings, school and the changing of the seasons in general. Here are just a few of my books that take place in Autumn.

 

As you can see, I like this season!  In most of the books of this particular series, none of the grooms know the bride is coming! Of the four books above, Love at Harvest Moon and The Thanksgiving Mail-Order Bride, my grooms haven’t got a clue. In The Columbus Day Mail-Order Bride and The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride, the two heroes are also identical twin brothers which made things a lot of fun. How about an excerpt or two?

From Love at Harvest Moon:

 

“Mr. Brody, it’s my fault yer son lost his sight – ye can’t tell me otherwise!” Finn stood and ran a hand through his hair. “I only hope that one day, Lorcan can see it in his heart to forgive me.”

“Pah! He’s already forgiven ye! Yer just too stubborn to see it.”

“Then why doesn’t he write? I’ve not heard a word from him!”

Mr. Brody stood and waved the letter in Finn’s face. “Well it just so happens that Lorcan is sending ye something! Something very special!”

Finn took a step back and stared at him. “What? And why didn’t he write and tell me about it?”

“Probably so Ada wouldn’t have to write and send two letters.” He unfolded part of the letter and showed it to him. “See, look here – read it!”

Finn did so, and slowly he smiled. “Well, what do ye know? He is sending me something.” He looked at Mr. Brody. “What do ye suppose it is?”

Mr. Brody shrugged. “Must be something special, if he has to send it by stagecoach.”

“Stagecoach – I almost forgot! There was an accident up the road. The afternoon stage lost a wheel and crashed into a ditch. The sheriff’s gone to fetch the driver – he’s hurt pretty bad, I hear.”

“What’s this? Who told you?”

“The Passenger.”

Mr. Brody blinked a few times. “Passenger?” He glanced at the letter, folded it and shoved it into the pocket of his jacket. “Where’s the passenger now?”

“Doc Henderson’s. She was trying to run through my pumpkin patch to get help, but fell and twisted her ankle.”

She?” Mr. Brody began to cough.

“Aye. Birdie’s taking care of her. She told us she came to Oregon City to get married. I was just on my way to fetch her intended, but decided to wait for the sheriff to see how the driver fared.” He looked at the street again. “Ah, looks like the wait’s over. Here they come.”

Mr. Brody stilled his coughing and watched the sheriff and his men approach. One of his deputies was driving a buckboard to transport the injured man. “Er … ah … Finn?”

“Aye?” he asked without taking his eyes off the men.

“Did the young lady from the stage happen to tell ye the … name of her intended?”

“No. But she gave me this,” he said and took the folded envelope she’d given him from his pocket. “Here’s his name and address. I’m sure he’ll want to know what happened. I know I would, so I thought I’d find out before I fetched him to her.”

Mr. Brody gave him a lopsided smile, took the envelope, pulled out the paper and read it. Then he coughed again and gave the paper to Finn. “Ye’ve, uh … not read it?”

Finn looked at him just as the sheriff rode up. “No.”

Mr. Brody’s face was turning redder by the second. “I think maybe ye should.”

Finn glanced at the paper and paled. “Don’t tell me that poor girl is here to marry one of the McPhees?”

Mr. Brody shook his head.

“That’s a relief,” Finn said and crossed himself. He looked at Mr. Brody again. “One of Jim Tark’s boys then? Oh, the poor wee thing …”

Mr. Brody shook his head again. “Read the paper, Finn.”

Finn rolled his eyes. He’d been so intent on the sheriff and buckboard, he really hadn’t thought to look at the blasted paper! He unfolded it and …

“Great Mother o’ God!”

Mr. Brody smiled in satisfaction. “I told ye Lorcan was sending ye something special.”

 

And from The Harvest Time Mail-Order Bride:

 

Calvin strolled among the various booths, most of which were nothing more than planks of wood on saw horses, with some sort of covering to shade the occupants. He kept a close eye on his wife, who studied her surroundings with interest. He’d felt numb up to this point, their wedding a blur, and just now felt the first inklings of excitement that he was now married.

But did she feel the same?

Her English was broken most of the time, only the occasional full sentence, but that should improve with time. Of course, his hadn’t, nor had his brothers … but they hadn’t really tried. None of them had any fancy education, but they could read and write and do their sums. You didn’t need much more than that to work on a farm. It was more important to know how to till the land, maintain the orchards, take care of livestock, protect your property and those that lived on it …

He stole another glance at his bride. Her beauty was beyond compare. How was he going to protect her? She was turning more than a few heads, and it was starting to bother him. What would she think of him if he socked some dreamy-eyed suitor? He hoped he wouldn’t have to since they were married, but some of the men, especially those from out of town, might not know that.

And then, of course, there were the women. He’d already overheard two or three say “She married Calvin Weaver?” as he and Isabella strolled by. Why was it so hard for them to believe he could have a beautiful wife? Were they expecting her to show up without her teeth?

“I don’t believe it!” another whispered loud enough for everyone within earshot to hear. “Is the girl daft?”

Calvin tensed and wondered if Isabella noticed. He’d best do something to distract himself. “Ya hungry?”

She put down the wooden soldier she’d picked up and smiled at the man selling toys. “A little. Is it time to eat?”

“Not yet, but I could do with a little somethin’. There’s no set time to eat lunch today and everyone’ll make do with somethin’ for dinner before the dance.”

“Dance?” she asked, her eyes bright.

“Yeah, we have one every year. Actually, we have three. The Harvest Festival, Christmas, then the Valentine’s Dance.”

She nodded and eyed one of Aunt Betsy’s pies. She was selling them whole and by the slice.

Calvin followed her gaze and smiled. “How ‘bout a piece of pie? We could share one.”

She smiled at him, then pulled him toward his aunt’s booth. “Hey, slow down,” he laughed.

“Well, there you are!” Aunt Betsy said as they approached. “How do you like our little festival, Isabella?”

“I like it very much. Very happy.”

“Most folks would agree,” she said. “This is a happy time of year. Our barns and root cellars are full, folks are settling in for the winter and Harlan Hughes is in town!”

 

Ah, and there you have it. Harvest Festivals, mix-ups, surprises and all taking place in my favorite season! To celebrate, how about a giveaway? I’ll give to FOUR lucky winners one e-copy of your choice of the books shown above! Comment and tell me what it’s like around your house this time of year. Do you decorate? Make special dishes or desserts? I’ll pick my winners from the comments!

 

 

 

 

The Horse Race that Signaled the End of the Old West

Hi, Kit Morgan here, and for those of you that don’t know, my little sister is a professional racehorse jockey. Marijo has been racing for as long as I can remember and made a life-long career out of it. She left high school early to start galloping at the track and train to become a jockey. Her love of horses drove her, not to mention a keen competitive nature. She has recently given up racing for something a bit safer, like training Hunter/Jumper horses. Ahem … anyway … this post isn’t about my sister, but about one particular race held in 1893. But hey, it’s hard to mention anything about horse racing without bringing her up!

In 1893 the western plains were largely settled. By now much of the land was farmed and fenced in. There were no more wild buffalo roaming the plains, no more Indian wars (for the most part) because the Native Americans had been moved to reservations. Telegraph wires were strung up everywhere and Telephone lines were quickly stretching west. The country was moving on and the wild west was dying out.

Then along came a race, one that started out as a gimmick. The brainchild of a crafty businessman named John Maher, (who by the way was one of the first to report from the scene of the Wounded Knee Massacre) devised the race as a way to draw attention to the tiny town of Chadron, Nebraska, which was struggling at the time. What started out as a mere gimmick, turned into something much more.

Hundreds of hard-bitten cowboys, both locals and those that rode in, wanted to be in the race that came to be known as The Great Cowboy Race. One fellow was a western outlaw and horse rustler! A desperado by the name of “Doc” Middleton. The race drew all sorts of folks to it, all eager to enter and win. The route spanned a thousand miles, beginning in Chadron and ending at Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West showground which was right next to the World’s Fair in Chicago. The prize? A new leather saddle, a golden Colt revolver, and a fat cash purse. The race took the entrants over the Nebraska Sand Hills, through the Iowa cornfields, across both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and through the wheat fields of Illinois. 

Driving them on was the truth of their own old age. As they rode they saw changes in the land. Changes that would keep growing, pushing out the old cowboy and his ways. Perhaps they could tell the boys that gawked at Model T Fords what it was like to race across the land on a horse, to have the country watching them. Regale the boys with stories of the old west when they, themselves, were young. They could tell them about the small towns of America, those along the race route, and how the blacksmiths would pound on their anvils, signaling the riders were coming. People lined the streets to watch them and shout encouragement. Boys especially cheered them on. Newspapers also covered the race, bringing to life the old west once more. 

For one summer this race created an unforgettable image of the old west that would live on in the minds of many. Cowboys atop thundering horses, racing to their destination and carrying them into cowboy immortality. 

And this is just one of the reasons I love to write westerns! Maybe it’s about time I wrote a story about a horse race, hmm?

If you would like to check out my books, you can find them at http://www.authorkitmorgan.com

Ah, the Pioneer Life! Sort of . . .

Hi! Kit Morgan here. As I’m the newest filly in this corral of wonderful western authors, I thought I’d let you know a little more about me.

Most folks don’t realize that I grew up in a log cabin in the woods with a lovely creek flowing through the property. Back then the cabin had a fireplace and a wood cook stove, the only sources of heat. It was built as a summer cabin and had no insulation. It was made to stay cool. And it does! I live in said cabin still. My sister and I bought our older siblings out and are in the process of making the cabin better suited to year-round living.

Growing up I remember my mother cooking on wood cook stoves. The picture you see is me, seven years old, standing next to our first little stove. The second was huge, but I couldn’t find pictures of that. The electricity often went out in the winter, so having a wood cook stove meant we didn’t go without a hot meal. We used oil lamps and candles for light and had to haul water up from the creek. Our mother would then boil it so it could be used for drinking, cooking, washing and other necessities.

We had to chop and haul wood, feed the livestock and walk a mile to the school bus stop in all kinds of weather … yes, I can say I did that! We also often ate trout and steelhead fished out of our creek.

When we were older, our dad got my little sister and me horses, and playing cowboys and Indians was our favorite past time. Is it any wonder I write western romance?

Growing up in the woods away from everything gave one an appreciation of the simple things, like the pleasure of writing outdoors. Besides, I get a few visitors while working, and like to stop and watch them.

So, having lived like a pioneer (a little here and a little there) gives added insight into writing historical western romance. Though I wouldn’t want to live like that year round. It was hard enough when the power was out for days at a time. But back then we didn’t know anything else, so it wasn’t a big deal. Now I might be tempted to check into a comfy hotel if the power went out for more than a day or two! Yes, I’ve gone soft in my old age! Besides, you can’t binge watch Downton Abbey when the power’s out …

Until next time, happy reading!  Kit