Category: History – General

These Boot Are Made For Giving!

After the Civil War, the boots cowboys were wearing weren’t cutting the muster on the job. While accounts differ whether this occurred in Kansas or Texas, most agree a cowboy went into a shoemaker asking for changes to the day’s boot style. Each feature the smart cowboy asked for fixed a problem. The pointed toe made it easier for him to get his foot in the stirrup. The taller shaft served the purpose of protecting his leg from mesquite tree thorns, barbed wire, snakes and other dangers. The bigger, thicker heel kept his foot from coming out of the stirrup. The boot’s tough leather protected a cowboy’s ankle from being bruised by the wooden stirrup.

The cowboy changed his footwear his footwear because it wasn’t working. A lot of my stories deal with something not working in my hero and/or heroine’s life. Sometimes they know they need to make a change. Sometimes not. Sometimes life forces them to make a change when it’s the last thing they want. But still, my characters tug on their boots, put one foot in front of the other, whether they’re happy about it or not, and walk toward the future.

In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, both AJ Quinn and Grace Henry are forced to make a change in their lives, and neither is very happy about it. Grace is laid off and her best friend talks her into coming to Texas to manage her bed and breakfast. AJ is undercover for the FBI taking the recently vacant job as chief of police to catch a forger. Both vow working in Wishing, Texas, is temporary. They know where they want their lives to go and this isn’t what they had in mind.

Their meeting is one of my favorites. Grace is driving into town and her breaks give out. She rear ends AJ’s truck. AJ tries to tell Grace who he is, but she won’t let him get the words out, instead saying they should exchange insurance info, call a tow truck and be on their way. AJ lists the reasons to call the police, her insurance company may require a police report, debris needs to be cleared from the road, and someone needs to divert traffic until their vehicles are moved. When Grace still resists, AJ asks if there’s a reason she doesn’t want the police called. Grace responds that all the police will do is complicate the issue and small-town police will be even worse about it. Talk about an awkward first meeting! I love when my characters dig themselves into a hole and refuse to put down the shovel!

Another thing I love to do is have the hero or heroine give a gift to the other during the story. Though they may not realize it at the time, the gift is a big turning point in their relationship. In To Catch A Texas Cowboy, Grace is a New York city girl. AJ tells Grace she can’t keep running around in flip-flops and gives her a box. What does AJ give her? What else? A pair of cowboy boots she admired!

I’m going to admit something…I love shoes and I love boots even more. I have four pairs of cowboy boots I wear in the winter and various open toe ankle boots I wear in the winter. Stop by today and leave a comment about your favorite footwear to be entered to win a signed copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy and a pair of boot socks. 

Updated: March 26, 2020 — 9:34 am

Research Road Trip

As an author of historical novels, I love it when I get a chance to walk over the same ground as my characters. Most of my research is done online, but every once in a while, I get the chance to get my boots walking in the actual setting of a book I’m writing. This past January was just such an occasion.

During the last weekend of January, I took a research trip to explore the setting of my current work in progress. Not only did I get to dig into the local history of Kingsland, TX, but three writing friends met up with there and turned the weekend into a writing retreat. So wonderful to be blessed by the fellowship of fellow writers and friends.

Anne Mateer and I are in the ticket window with Nancy Kimball (left) and Crystal Barnes (right) in the main living area.

I love staying in historic places whenever possible, and especially when I’m trying to immerse myself in an historic setting. We pulled that off in Kingsland with The Antlers Hotel. The hotel was built by the railroad in 1901 a few years after the rail line came through town in 1892. Unfortunately, it’s about 6 years too modern to include in my story, but it offered fabulous accommodations. I took some photos inside the lobby as well as the exterior.

Since there were four of us, and retreats are much more fun when we can all stay together, we rented a separate building on the property. The Depot cabin we rented had been an actual railroad depot in Muldoon, TX in the 1890’s. I loved opening the door to discover two ticket windows still in place. So fun! Creaky wooden floorboards added to the historical ambiance.

After spending a couple hours on Friday afternoon in the local library’s genealogical section reading up on local families, I drove down to the railroad bridge that is still standing from 1892. I found a really cool tidbit about how folks from the Burnet side of the Colorado River could only get into Kingsland by rails – either on the train or by walking across the railroad bridge. I took a photo from the Burnet side showing the top of the track. I also took a picture from the Kingsland side to show the underside and the pillars. The 4 stone ones are original. The concrete supports were added later.At some point, one or more of my characters is going to be in peril on this bridge. I just need to figure out who and why.

Saturday morning, I took a drive down a country road (and I mean country – dirt, cattle guards, livestock free and ranging) to get some photos of Packsaddle Mountain. It was named for the dip in the middle that makes it resemble a packsaddle on a horse. A major plot point in my novel revolves around this mountain, so being able to see it in person will help me get the details right. A couple decades before my novel’s timeline, this was also the site of the last Indian battle in the region. The settlers, while greatly outnumbered, routed the raiding Apaches and ushered in a time of peace.

On my drive, I also ran into this fellow. Probably not historically accurate, but fun nonetheless.

We finished off the weekend by having brunch on Sunday at the Grand Central Cafe located on the same property where we were staying. It is a grand Victorian home built around the turn of the century and serves wonderful food.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. So much history, so many great conversations, and great food for the imagination and the taste buds . (Crystal Barnes made us her famous farm fresh breakfast with ingredients straight from her very own cow and chickens Saturday morning and fried us up some fresh-off-the-hoof hamburgers for dinner. Yum!)

What are some of your favorite historical locations to visit?

Kingsland was only about a 3-hour drive from my home. Do you have places close to you that are rich in history?

 

Secrets of My Heart and Book Giveaway

Secrets of My Heart comes out March first and is part of the Willamette Brides series (a sequel to the Heart of the Frontier series which came out several years ago).  The story deals with three women who are caught up in the racial conflicts of 1879 Oregon. As I researched for this story, I kept finding a lot of issues that reminded me of problems we’re continuing to deal with today.

For instance, did you know that early in Oregon’s history, exclusion laws went into place that made it illegal for African Americans to even take up residency in Oregon Country.  Wagon train masters signed agreements to not allow blacks in their trains. In one of the museums I visited they had a display that told the story of former slave Rose Jackson who was forced to hide in a specially made wagon box all day, every day, as the wagon train came west. She was only able to come out at night after everyone had gone to bed.

Freed slave in Oregon.

There were three exclusion acts – Peter Burnett’s Lash Law was one of these that called for African Americans to be expelled from Oregon, and if they refused to go, they were to be lashed. The law was rescinded in 1845 when it was determined lashing too harsh. The next exclusion law was made in 1849 and stated, it was unlawful for any “negro or mulatto” to enter or reside in Oregon Territory.  It was rescinded in 1854.  The third and final exclusion act was passed in 1857 and actually written into Oregon’s Bill of Rights. The clause prohibited African American from being in the state, owning property, and making contracts. Oregon became the only free state admitted to the Union with an exclusion clause in its constitution. It wasn’t repealed by voters until 1926, with final racist language not removed until 2002.

While the exclusion laws were generally not enforced, they hung as a threat over the heads of African Americans who feared that at any given moment new laws might be passed to strip away their possessions and force them from the state.  This was especially driven home when the Fourteenth Amendment issue came up.

The Fourteenth Amendment which grants citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves, was ratified by a very narrow margin in 1866.  Oregon then rescinded that ratification in 1868.  The Fourteenth Amendment in Oregon was not re-ratified until 1973. They also refused to ratify the 15th Amendment which allows African American men the right to vote. That law wasn’t ratified in Oregon until 1959.  For more information go to:

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/exclusion_laws/#.XRf4A-tTmpo

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/14th_amendment/#.XRfyZetTmpo

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/15th_amendment/#.XRfxxutTmpo

Of course, along with these laws, were laws against the Native Americans. Including making it illegal for whites to marry a person who was at least half Native American or even a quarter black, Chinese or Pacific Islander. This law wasn’t rescinded until 1951.

Learning about these laws and the problems they caused was quite fascinating and reminded me that as Solomon said in the Bible there truly is nothing new under the sun.  It also reminded me that as Christians we should love others as Jesus loved us and when we do that, it allows for no prejudice or negativity based on the color of our skin. 

I hope you’ll enjoy the series.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

What do you think would be the hardest part of traveling the Oregon trail in a covered wagon?

Tracie is giving away a print copy of Secrets of My Heart to one person who comments today.

Amazon

Tracie had an unexpected travel engagement arise today and will not be available to respond to comments here today, but she welcomes readers to contacted her directly at tjpbooks@aol.com or through her website http://www.traciepeterson.com.

Updated: March 9, 2020 — 11:13 am

In Honor of Steve Reevis — Give-Away and 99 cent books

Howdy!

About 3-4 weeks ago, I learned that a good friend of mine, Steve Reevis had passed away.  He passed on in December of 2017.  Unfortunately, for me, I was unaware of this because when I moved away from LA, his family and mine lost contract.  Steve was a Native American Actor, and he appeared in many films.  Probably my favorite film of his was “The Last of the Dogmen,” where Steve played the major Native American role.  I will leave a list of many of his films at the end of this blog.

Steve was only 55 years old when he passed, much too young to leave this world.  In 1999, Steve helped me and my husband and a few other friends to set up a literacy project on the Blackfeet reservation.  This was the first time I had met Steve.  He was a very handsome young man, he was quiet, yet when he did speak, we listened, for he was also a wise young man.  Steve never asked for anything in return for the help he gave us, his main concern being to help his people.

In truth, I was shocked when I learned of his passing, and so I thought that today, I would hostess a give-away in the style of the Blackfeet in Montana.  (I am adopted Blackfeet.)

I’ll be giving away many books today, so do leave a message so that you can enter into the give-away.  I’ll also be giving away a pair of Blackfeet made earrings.  Now, let me show you some pictures of a fundraiser that we did with Steve and his beautiful wife, Macile, in a Walmart in 1999.  All of my Blackfoot Warrior series (three books total) will also be on sale for a week for 99 cents in honor of Steve. (See  below for the links to those books.)

The picture to the left here is of Steve when he was speaking at the fundraiser.  This event also included many romance authors from the Orange County Romance Writers Association.  At the event, we had a local drum group, who also donated all of their time and their musical art for the literacy project.

Off to the right here is a picture of Steve in a conversation with Maria Ferrara, who helped to fund raise for the project and was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.  Without her help, there would have been no project.

As you can see here, Steve is listening intently to Maria, and this is one of my favorite pictures from that time.

To the left here are several people connected to the project.  From left to right are:  Mark Reed; Maria Ferrara; Jeff Butler; Harold Dusty Bull; Kinder Hunt; Steve Reevis; Macile Reevis; George Randall; Toni Running Fisher; Saginaw Grant; Yours truly.

 

And again, to the left is Harold Dusty Bull, who was In Charge of the Project.  In the background to the left is Steve and on the right is Mark Reed, from the Iroquois/Mohawk tribe, I believe.

Both Harold and Steve grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana.

 

 

 

To the left here is Steve dancing.  Steve was a grass dancer.  

And, to the right is a couples dance.  Here is Steve and Macile; behind them are Harold Dusty Bull and the founder and head of the H.E.L.P. project (Hollywood Education and Literacy Project), Kinder Hunt.  Pulling up the rear in the picture is Saginaw Grant and Toni Running Fisher.

Also, there was Blackfeet style Indian bread and tacos — made by Toni Running Fisher.

 

 

 

To the right here is another view of Steve and Macile dancing the Couples Dance, with Saginaw Grant and Toni Running Fisher not too far behind them.

Here also is a view of some of the men who gave in the drum who gave us the music so the dancers could dance.  To the left is another picture of Steve dancing.

To the left here is Steve speaking, and in his hand he holds an eagle feather fan.

To the right is Steve’s beautiful wife, Macile.  Macile, by the way, has her own clothing line of Native American clothing.

 

To the left here is a picture snapped of us when we were visiting the L. Ron Hubbard Author Services Center in Hollywood, CA.  From left to right are:

Paul Bailey (my husband); Harold Dusty Bull; Steve Reevis; Macile Reevis and her daughter; me; Toni Running Fisher and her husband Kevin.  By the way, the dress I’m wearing in this picture is one of Macile Reevis’ creations.

 

And lastly, here we all are:  the authors, the Drum, Steve and Macile (off to the left).

The event was very successful and the HELP literacy project was also a success on the Reservation, and was up and running there for many years.

I will miss my friend, Steve Reevis.  Somehow, I thought he would always be here, alive and well, and I wish that I hadn’t lost touch with his family when my own family moved East.  Steve once said to me in a passing conversation, “Why do you think all those warriors in the past would risk their lives?”  I didn’t know and said so.  Steve then said, “Because they knew they would live again.”

Somewhere, in some other time and place, perhaps, I feel that Steve is still with us, and is, even now, the cause of someone else’s joy and happiness.  Good-bye, Steve.  You are missed.  But I know that wherever you are, those who are with you, love you.

All of the Blackfoot Warrior Series books are on sale for .99 in honor of Steve.  Those books are:

GRAY HAWK’S WOMAN — https://tinyurl.com/qtl7hsu

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH — https://tinyurl.com/vbanq3m

NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE — https://tinyurl.com/twdjtx4

These are list of some of Steve’s Films, as well as some photos from those films:

 

  • CREDITS
  • Film Appearances
  • Indian, Twins, Universal, 1988
  • Indian child, Grim Prairie Tales (also known as Hellbent),Academy Entertainment, 1990
  • First Sioux and first warrior, Dances with Wolves, Orion, 1990
  • Indian in desert, The Doors, TriStar, 1991
  • Chato, Geronimo: An American Legend, Columbia, 1993
  • Two Bears, Posse, Gramercy, 1993
  • Yellow Wolf, Last of the Dogmen, Savoy Pictures, 1995
  • Sioux Chief Whistler, Wild Bill, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1995
  • (As Steven Reevis) Shep Proudfoot, Fargo, Gramercy, 1996
  • Freddy, Follow Me Home, New Millenia, 1997
  • Sam Keno, The Outfitters, New Skivvies Films, 1999
  • Sim Lundy, Highway 395, Creative Light Worldwide, 2000

 

 

 

  • Film Work
  • Stunt performer, War Party, c. 1989.
  • Television Appearances
  • Movies
  • Crazy Horse, TNT, 1996
  • Mule, Horse Sense, The Disney Channel, 1999
  • Episodic
  • Sammy Wheeler, “Return of Jimmy Blackhorse,” JAG, NBC, 1996
  • “The Only Goode Indian,” Goode Behavior, 1997
  • Jake Stonecrow, “Mayday,” Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS, 1997
  • Sheriff Lamont Nez, “The Outrage,” Promised Land, CBS, 1997
  • John Wolf/Lone Wolf, “Way of the Warrior,” Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS, 1999
  • Also appeared in Unsolved Mysteries.
  • Other
  • Grey Eyes, Miracle in the Wilderness, 1992
  • Jack Buck, Wild Grizzly, 1999
  • RECORDINGS
  • Videos
  • Life, Love, and Earth (educational music video), Shenandoah Films,1999

 

 

 

Updated: March 9, 2020 — 7:16 am

Chapel Cars – Reprise

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I have a book due at the end of this month and the last few weeks heading toward a deadline are always pretty intense for me. So I hope you will forgive me for pulling out an old post and dusting it off to share once again. This one appeared during my first year as a filly, 2009. Wow, hard to believe I’ve been part of this fabulous fun group for 11 years now!! Time really does pass fast when you’re having fun 🙂

 

‘Saving’ The West

I came across an article when researching circuit preachers for a minor story thread in one of my books.  The article covered a unique tool utilized by missionaries who were attempting to do their own brand of ‘taming the west’ – namely Chapel Cars.

These were railroad cars that were modified to serve as traveling churches.  They rode the rails from town to town, shifting over to sidings for as long as they were needed, then continuing on to the next stop.  They included modest living quarters for the missionary and, if he had one, his wife.  The rest of the space was utilized for the church itself.

Most western movies and tales glorify the gun-toting lawman or vigilante, portraying them as the tamers of the wild and woolly west.  In actuality, the peace-minded missionaries who rode the rails played a larger, more influential part in bringing peace to the lawless west than any of their more aggressive counterparts.  They traveled in their mobile churches to remote areas of the country, bringing spiritual direction and a civilizing influence to people who were starved for something to offset the violence and loneliness of their existence.

These Chapel Cars traveled throughout the west and mid-west – including North Dakota, Nevada, Minnesota, California, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon and Colorado.  They stopped at mining towns and logging camps, tent cities and newly established towns, bringing their gospel message and the reminder of civilization to people who had seen neither for a long time – if ever.

And, given the unfettered existence of those in the camps and towns, their appearance was surprisingly well received more often than not – especially by the ladies of the area.  The arrival of these Chapel Cars signaled not only the chance to attend Sunday services, but brought with them someone to perform weddings, funerals, baptisms and also a welcome excuse for social gatherings.  In addition, many a rough and tough cowboy who would have balked at attending a traditional church, seemed to feel differently about these side rail services.  In fact, the very novelty of the Chapel Car brought folks from miles around just to have a look.

Of course, they didn’t always receive a warm welcome.  There are recorded instances of the Chapel Cars being pelted with eggs and refuse, defaced with graffiti and even set on fire.  But these were rare instances and the cars and their custodians survived to continue their mission.

These repurposed rail cars were furnished with pews, a lectern, an altar table and in some cases an organ.  Depending on the construction, they could seat over 70 people inside.  The Chapel Car was a multipurpose unit, serving as a home, church, Sunday School, social hall, library and meeting place.  They carried bibles and tracts which were distributed all along the lines.  The missionary and his wife, in addition to their usual ministerial duties, were expected to function as singer, musician, janitor and cook.  They helped organize permanent churches, including raising the necessary funds and helping to construct the buildings.

There are records to support the existence of eleven Chapel Cars in all, though there is some evidence there may have been as many as seventeen.  Of the eleven known cars, three were utilized by Catholics, seven by Baptists and one by the Episcopalians.

Chapel cars remained in use throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  With the advent of World War I, however, the railroad tracks had to be kept clear for troop movement.  In addition, new regulations prohibited the railroad companies from giving ‘free rides’ to the Chapel Cars, something that had been common practice up until that time.  And as paved roads and the automobile became more prevalent it became easier for folks to travel longer distances on their own to attend church.  Thus, the Chapel Cars that had brought their spiritual message and civilizing influence to the rough and tumble west faded into history.

So, where’s the most memorable place you’ve attended a church service?

 

And on the good news front, Love Inspired is re-releasing one of my previous titles this month in a 2-in-1 volume with former Filly Cheryl St.John.  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy.

 

SECOND CHANCE FAMILY

Mitch Hammond is a man of his word. And as far as Cora Beth Collins is concerned, that’s a problem. The stubborn sheriff has vowed never to love again, for fear of wounding someone else. The most he can offer Cora Beth is marriage in name only. And with no other way to adopt two runaway orphans and keep her patchwork family together, she accepts.

Mitch is doing the honorable thing. So why does it feel so wrong? Despite his intentions, Mitch is starting to want more from Cora Beth…and from himself. For in her trusting eyes he sees everything he hopes to be—as a lawman, a father and a husband.

 

 

Updated: March 9, 2020 — 12:31 am

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME — New Release & e-book Give-Away

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!

Big news!  At least for me.  THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME has just been released.  Am not going to say too much about it, except to say to be sure to leave a comment, cause I’ll be giving away a free e-book to one of you bloggers.

This is a rather long excerpt (Prologue and First 2 Chapters).  So without further ado, here is the blurb and excerpt (prologue and first two chapters).  Please enjoy!

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, by Karen Kay

A vision foretold his tribe’s doom.  Is the flame-haired beauty the trickster or his true love?

 

Lucinda Glenforest’s father, a general who’d fought in the Indian Wars, taught his flame-haired daughter to out-shoot even the best men the military could put up against her. When Luci’s sister is seduced and abandoned, it’s up to Luci to defend her honor in a duel.  Although she wins, the humiliated captain and his powerful family vow vengeance. The sister’s only hope is to flee and hide until their father returns from his overseas mission.  Out of money, Luci hatches a plan to disguise herself as a boy and use her sharpshooting skills in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has a terrifying vision, that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe.  He enlists Charles Wind Eagle to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in hopes of appealing to the President of the United States for help, and to find and stop the deceiver. When Wind Eagle is paired with a girl whom he knows is disguised as a boy, he believes she might be the deceiver.  Still, she stirs his heart in ways he must resist, for he has a secret that can never be told, nor ignored.  And Luci can never forget that her father would destroy Wind Eagle if she were to fall in love with him.

Forced to work together, they can’t deny their growing attraction.  Will Luci and Wind Eagle find a way through the lies to find true love?  Or will they be consumed by the passion of deception and slander?

Warning:  A sensuous romance that might cause a girl to join the rodeo in order to find true love.

Excerpt:

 

PROLOGUE

 

The Wild West Series

Book One

The Assiniboine Sioux Reservation

Northeastern Montana

May 1884

 

 

 

          “Run!  Run to them!  Help them!”

          Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, couldn’t move.  It was as though his feet were tied to the ground with an invisible rope.  He attempted to lift his feet one at a time.  He couldn’t.  Bending, he struggled to remove the shackles that held him prisoner.  It was impossible.

          Straightening up, he looked down into the Assiniboine camps from his lofty perch upon a hill, and he watched as a cloud of dust and dirt descended from the sky to fall upon the children of the Assiniboine.  Helpless to act, he stared at the scene of destruction as each one of the children fell to the ground, their bodies withering to dust.  Still, he stood helpless, unable to act in their defense.  He heard their cries, their pleas for aid.  He reached out to them, he, too, crying.  But he couldn’t move; he couldn’t save them.

          The cloud lifted.  The children were no more; their bones had returned to the earth.  Instead, in their place arose a people who appeared to be Assiniboine outwardly, but within their eyes, there showed no spark of life.  They appeared to be without spirit, without heart; they were broken—mere slaves.

          From the cloud of dirt came the sound of a whip as the people cowered beneath its assault.  Then arose the lightning strikes and the thunder.  One by one even those soulless people fell to their knees—a conquered people, their heads bowed in fear.

          And, then they were no more.  All was lost; all was gone.

          What force was this?  Who or what was this faceless power that had killed the Assiniboine people and their children?  He knew it not.

          He cried, his tears falling to the ground, but even the essence of this, his body’s grief, was barren.  His proud people were no more.

          Jerking himself awake, Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, chief of the Rock Mountain People, sat up suddenly.  His sleeping robes fell around him and sweat poured from his body.  Tears fell from his eyes as he came fully into the present moment.

          At once, he realized that what he had seen had been a mere dream, and, while this might have comforted a lesser being, Horned Headdress knew that there was more to the nightmare.  It was a vision, a warning from the Creator: this was what would come to pass if he and his people didn’t act.  And now.

          But, what was he to do?  He didn’t know who this enemy was.

          It was then that, wide awake, he beheld a vision unfolding before him as the Creator spoke to him in the language of the sacred spider.  And, as the spider weaved his web, pictures of a future time appeared upon that maze, as though it were a backdrop for the images.

Astonishment and fear filled his soul.  But, he soon came to realize that the Creator had not warned him in vain, for, upon that same web appeared visions of deeds that would thwart that future evil, if he could but do them.

He must act, and with speed.  This he vowed he would do.  But how?  He was no longer a young man, conditioned to the rigors that would be required.  He could not perform the skills necessary to accomplish what must be done.

But there are two youths among our people who can.  The thought came to him as though it were his own, but he realized that the words were from the Creator.  Moreover, he saw with his mind’s eye, that there were, indeed, two young men who were strong enough and proficient enough to undertake this task.

With a calmness of purpose, Horned Headdress knew what he would do, what he must do…. 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

May 1884

 

 

“Our way of life is endangered, and our people might well be doomed, I fear—all our people—unless we act.”

Twenty-year old, Wa?blí Taté, Wind Eagle, of the Hebina, the Rock Mountain People of the Nakoda tribe, listened respectfully to his chief, Horned Headdress.  The chief held an honorable war record, was honest beyond reproach and was known to be wise at the young age of fifty-two years. On this day, Wind Eagle and his ?óla, Iron Wolf, were seated in council within the chief’s spacious sixteen-hide tepee.  There were only the three of them present: Horned Headdress; himself, Wind Eagle; and Macá Mázasapa, Iron Wolf, the chief’s son.

“The White Man is here to stay,” continued Horned Headdress.  “Many of our chiefs speak of this.  Already we have seen changes that are foreign and confusing to us, for their customs are not ours.  I have asked you both to this council today because I have dreamed that our people will not long exist if we do not act as a united people.  But allow me to explain.

“As you both are aware, the annuities, promised so easily in treaty by the White Father, did not arrive this past winter to replace the hundreds-of-years-old food source, the buffalo.  Because of this, too many of the young and the old did not survive the harsh snows and winds that inflicted wrath upon this country; a worse winter cannot be remembered, not even by the very old.   All our people are grieved, for every family amongst us lost loved ones, and, I fear that if we do not become like the beaver and act in a fast and well-organized manner, we, as a people, will perish from the face of this earth.

“The Indian agent is partly to blame for this; he put us at a terrible disadvantage, for our men of wisdom and experience, who have always ensured that our people remain alert to future dangers, were rounded up and placed in an iron cage that the agent calls jail.  He used Indian police to do this; they were young men from our tribe who listened to this agent’s poisonous tongue, and, feeling they knew best for our people, acted for the agent and not us.  They helped him to disarm us, not realizing that their people had need of their guns and their bows and arrows not only to defend their families, but to hunt for food.   Later, these same young men lamented their actions, for they learned too late that the Indian agent is not our friend.

“Some of our young men, like yourselves, escaped by hiding until the danger passed.  Then, stealing away into the night, these men left to find food and bring it back to supply us with needed rations.  But in many cases, the food arrived too late, and the evil face of starvation caused the death of too many of our people. 

“We have heard this agent laugh at our plight, but what are we to do, for we have no one else to speak for us to the White Father?  We chiefs have spoken often of this matter and have pondered who among us might seek out the White Father and express our grievances.

“Recently I received a vision from the Creator.  I have now seen that the danger is not in the past; I have learned that our children have a terrible fate and we might lose them all if we remain here and do nothing to change our future.”

          Wind Eagle nodded solemnly; no words were spoken, as befit the purpose of this council.

          “I believe I know what must be done,” continued Horned Headdress. “I have seen in vision that there is a white man whose name is Buffalo Bill Cody, who is now visiting our Lakota brothers to the southwest of us.  I am told that this man, Buffalo Bill, is not a bad man, though he pursues fame and approval, as well as the white man’s gold.  Further, I am told that he searches for those among us who can perform feats of daring, because he would take the best that we have and parade those youths before the White Man.  It is said to me that this is the manner in which this man purchases the necessities of living.

          “I have discovered that he offers a home for those whom he chooses, as well as the white man’s gold and silver which can be traded for clothing, food and other comforts. He is soliciting youths who can perform trick riding, or who can run as fast as the wind or those who can shoot with precision.  He also is asking for young men who are unparalleled in tests of strength and brawn.  Wind Eagle, you have proven yourself to be unequalled in shooting the arrow straight, accurately and with a speed that no one in all the nations can match.”

          Wind Eagle nodded silently.

          “And you, Macá Mázasapa, my son, are the best horseman in all the Nakoda Nation, performing tricks that even the finest riders of the Plains, the Blackfeet, admire.”

          Iron Wolf dipped his head in acknowledgement.

          “I am now asking you to act for me on behalf of your people; humbly, I would implore you both to travel to the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and enter into those contests sponsored by this man, Buffalo Bill.”  Horned Headdress paused significantly as though he were choosing his next words with care.  “I have seen in vision,” he continued, “that the White Father, or a man representing him, will attend one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows.  If I could, I would go in your place, but there are reasons why I cannot.  I am no longer a youth who might compete against other youths.  Also, I am needed here to counsel our sick and our needy and to act against this Indian Agent on behalf of our people, for this man is still here, is still corrupt, and every day denies our people the food and supplies that have been promised to us by treaty.”

As was tradition in Indian councils, neither young man spoke, both kept their eyes centered downward, in respectful contemplation.  Not only was it the utmost in bad manners to interrupt a speaker, but it was a particular taboo to volunteer one’s opinions with an elder of the tribe unless asked to do so.  At length, Horned Headdress continued, saying, “I have seen into the future, and I believe that both of you will be accepted by this showman.  I ask you this: when the White Father or his representative comes to this show, ask for a private audience with this man, who I believe will grant your request.  But beware.  I have also seen that all will not be easy for you, for there is a deceiver there.  You may come to know this person by being part of Buffalo Bill’s show.  Have a care, and do your work well, for this deceiver might be the greatest threat to all the Indian Nations.  This trickster, if not recognized and stopped, may bring about death and destruction to our children in ways that our minds do not comprehend.  Look for this person, discover who it is, man or woman. Be alert that if we do not learn from what tribe he or she hails, this deceiver could bring disaster not only to us, but to all the Indian Nations, and we, as an Indian people, might die in spirit forever.  Identify this person as quickly as you might and disarm him or her, for I do not speak lightly that the fate of our children rests with you.”

He paused for a moment.  “And now,” he continued, “I would hear what you wish to say about this burden I ask you to shoulder, for I would know if each one of you stands ready to pit your skills against this ill wind of tragedy for our people.”

Now came the chance for each young man to speak, and they both agreed that they would be honored to bear this responsibility.  They would go at once to their Lakota brothers in the south, and yes, they would use all their cunning and strength to prevent any future harm that might befall their people.

Horned Headdress nodded approval.  “It is good,” he acknowledged, before adding, “Seek out another young man from your secret clan, the Wolf Clan, once you have been successful in joining Buffalo Bill’s show.  Take him into your confidence, for I have also seen that three is oftentimes better protection against evil than two.”

Both young men nodded.

Wašté, good.  Now, listen well, my young warriors, and I will tell you what I wish you to say to the white man’s representative, and what I wish you to do.…”

***

Wind Eagle looked out from his lofty perch upon a stony ridge, which sat high above the winding waters of the Big Muddy, or as the white man called it, the Missouri River.  He faced the east, awaiting the sunrise, his face turned upward, his arms outstretched in prayer.  Below him unfolded numerous pine-covered coulees and ravines, jagged and majestic as they cut through the mountains, a range which appeared to never end.  The huge rock beneath his moccasined feet felt solid and firm, and, as he inhaled the moist air of the morning, he gazed outward, welcoming the beauty of the Creator’s work.

He sought a vision to guide him on this vital quest for his people.  Also, he hoped to ease his troubles, for as Horned Headdress had so elegantly said, the shared tragedy that had destroyed so many of their people had also struck Wind Eagle personally.

It was true that starvation had been the ultimate weapon employed by rogue forces within and without the tribe.  Because both the Indian Agent and the Indian police had acted against the people, Wind Eagle’s grandfather had died in those cages the white man called jails.  At the time, Wind Eagle and his father had been gone from the village on the hunt for food.  But game was scarce, causing his own, and his father’s, absence to extend for too long a time.  When they had returned to their village, they had found that many of their friends were now gone.  Even his beloved grandmother—the woman who had raised him—had been weak when Wind Eagle and his father had returned.  For a short while, it had appeared that she might recover, but it was not to be.  Too soon, she had left this life to travel to the Sandhills, where she would join her husband.  At least, they would journey on that path together.

It was only a few days past that Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, had spoken to himself and Iron Wolf, setting the two of them into action.  Quickly, they had made their plans and had talked of nothing else for the past two days, and, if they were both picked by the Showman to be a part of the show, each individually knew what his part would be in this vital task.  Failure was no option; the life of their people must continue.

Because no delay could be spared, they were to leave this very night to set out upon the trail to the Pine Ridge reservation.  They would travel by horseback, the both of them taking two or more of his ponies with him.

But no such journey could commence without first seeking a vision, for only in this way could a man communicate with his Creator.  And so Wind Eagle began with a prayer:

“Waka?tanka, hear my plea.  I come before you humble, having given away my best clothing to the needy.  As is right for my appeal, I have bathed myself in the smoke of many herbs, and have spent many days in prayer.  Show me, guide me, to see how I might best aid my chief and my people.”

Then he sang:

 

          “Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya, (Creator, I pray for them)

          Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya,

Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata, (Creator, I call thee by name)

          Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata,

          Waka?tanka, unkákí japi. (Creator, we suffer)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya. (Creator, help me)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya.”

 

He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply as the sun peeped up from above the horizon.  Already, he could feel the sun’s warming rays, and he sighed.  It was good, and he became quiet, merging himself with the spirit of Mother Earth, hoping that he might be gifted a vision.  Perhaps Waká?ta?ka was attuned to the cries of His people, for Wind Eagle was not left long to linger.  As he opened his eyes, he beheld a pair of bald eagles—his namesake—dancing in the cool drafts of the air.  Beautiful was their courtship ritual as they climbed ever higher and higher into the airy altitudes of the sky.

Then it happened, the dance of love: locking talons, they spun around and around, spiraling down toward the earth in what might seem be a dive to their death. Still, neither let go of the other, embracing and holding onto each other in their twirling spectacle until the very last moment.   From that courtship dance, the pair would mate and form a union that would last their lifetime, and out of that union would appear a new generation of bald eagles.  So it had been for thousands of years past; so it was now.

Entranced by the exquisiteness of this show of nature, he didn’t at first see what was before him, didn’t realize the two eagles were now hovering in the air, within his reach.  The sound of their flapping wings, however, was loud in the cooling mountain breeze, and, lifting his vision to encompass them both, they spoke to him:

“We, the eagle people, are sent here from the Creator to tell you that He has heard your plea.  He has told us to say this to you.

“Learn from us, for we, the eagle people, marry but once, and for all our life.  Heed the advice of your heart, since it will lead you on a path that will ensure the well-being of your people.  Beware the past mistakes of others. Beware also the one or the many who would hide within the cloak of deceit.  Be strong, remain alert, for the way to help your people will be fraught with great danger.

“Opportunity will soon be yours, for your skill is the best in all the Nations.  Use this to learn about your peoples’ secret enemy, for it will be through this venture that will appear the chance to free your people from a coming darkness.  If you are successful, your acts of valor will be spoken about throughout the Indian Nations.

“Trust your heart, for there is one there who might help you to find peace within your mind and spirit.

“We have spoken.”

 

Wind Eagle outstretched his arms toward the eagles, and he might have sung his song back to them, but the two birds had already lifted away from him, soaring higher and higher into the sky.  Once more, the eagles locked talons, repeating the ancient courtship ritual dance.

Breathing deeply, he watched their magnificent show with respect, until at last the eagles plummeted to the earth, breaking away from one another before striking the ground.  Coming together again, they climbed high over the rocks, alighting at last upon their nest.  Here, they would love, ensuring that their species survived well into the future.

What was the meaning of their verse?  He would relay his vision to his chief, of course, for only in this way could he assure the success of his task. But, before he left, he sang out his thanks in prayer, saying:

“Waka?tanka, I thank you for the vision you have given me.

“Waka?tanka, I honor you.  I honor your messengers.

“And now I would seek out my chief that I might ensure I understand fully your instruction to me.”

So saying, Wind Eagle stepped back from the ridge and retraced his steps to his camp.  The day was still young, and he felt renewed with purpose.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

An infamous dueling field outside Bladensburg, Maryland

May 20th, 1888

 

The early morning’s cool, gray mist hung low over the dueling field’s short grass and the woods that surrounded it.  The lawn and woods-scented air was heavy and moist here at the Bladensburg contesting grounds; and, because this notorious spot lay only a few blocks from Washington DC proper, the atmosphere was further flavored with the scent of smoke from the fires and the wood-burning stoves of the numerous houses in the city.  The earth felt mushy and wet beneath her footfalls, and the grass both cushioned and moistened the leather of her boots, as well as the bottom edge of her outfit.  There was a chill in the air, and Lucinda Glenforest wore a short jacket of crushed velvet gold over the flowery embroidered skirt of her cream-colored, silky dress.  Her bonnet of gold and ivory velvet boasted a brim that was quilled, and the satin bow that was tied high on top, fell into inch-wide strings that tied under her chin.  The color scheme complemented her fiery, golden-red hair that had been braided and tied back in a chignon that fell low at the back of her neck.  The entire ensemble had been strategically donned in the wee hours of the morning to allow for freedom of movement, which might be more than a little required for the sedate “battle” which was to take place.

Beside her reposed Lucinda’s fifteen-year-old younger sister, Jane, whose condition being only a few months in the making, was, for the moment, hidden.  But soon, in less time than Lucinda liked to consider, the consequence of Jane’s ill-fated affair would become evident.

“Don’t kill him, Luci.”

          The words served to irritate Luci; not because of Jane’s concern for the swine who had done this to her, but because of Luci’s involvement in a situation that should rightly involve male members of their family.  But their father, General Robert Glenforest, had left for the Island of Hawaii on the urgent business of war, and this, because their family had no brother to uphold its honor, left only Luci to contend with the problem.  The fact that she possessed the skills to tackle the dilemma was hardly the point.

          Being the eldest child in a military family, Luci had been fated to mimic her father’s profession, for General Glenforest had made it no secret that he had hoped his firstborn would be a boy.  To this end, he had carefully schooled Luci into the more male occupations of war, of shooting, of defense and of strategic planning.  Luci’s own inclinations—which had included dolls and pretend dress-up—were of no consequence to her father.  With the feminist movement in full swing, General Glenforest had found favor in openly proclaiming that he hoped Luci would follow in his footsteps, or if this weren’t quite possible, to marry a soldier as like-minded as he.  He went further to state that he hoped his daughter would thereafter advise her husband wisely.

          As Luci had grown older, she had protested, of course, but it hadn’t done her any good, especially since she enjoyed and stood out in the sport of the shooting gallery.  Her prowess in these matches had earned her many a trophy over her male counterparts, and, as time had worn on, she had gone on to win and win and win, even those matches where the man she was pitted against was years older than she.

          Now, while it might be true that Luci enjoyed the thrill of shooting matches, it was not factual that she shared other traits of the male gender.  After all, she was well aware that she was not a man, and outside of the marksmanship that she excelled in, she held few common threads with the male of the species.  Indeed, she often found a boy’s rather crude sense of humor extremely gross and very unfunny.

So it was that she had mastered a defense against her father, her resistance being to dress up and to act in as ladylike a manner as possible. Indeed, she flaunted her femininity, had done so even as a child, especially when her father was in residence.  Her rebelliousness had earned her a treasure, though.  She had come to love the manner in which she adorned herself.  Even her day dresses protested the current trend of the dark colors of black, brown and gray; none of that for her.  Her clothing consisted of vivid hues of blue, coral, pink, yellow, green and more.  Indeed, she flaunted the style of the walking dress, cutting her version of that style low in the bodice.  Tight waists, which hugged her curves, ended in a “V” shape over her abdomen in front and the beginning arc of her buttocks in back.  These and other attributes of her clothing asserted her female gender quite vividly.  Her bustles were soft and feminine, and were generally trained in back, adding to the aesthetic allure of her costume, while the overall effect of her skirts, draped in gatherings of material, fell like a soft waterfall to the floor.

That this style was considered to be a woman’s attire for only evening gatherings bothered her not in the least.  Although she had often heard the whispered gossip doubting the truth of her maidenhood, no one dared to repeat such lies to her face. 

Her father, when he was in residence, accused her of playing up her feminine assets too well.  But when he had gone on to criticize her too greatly, Luci had merely smiled at him; revenge, it appeared, was sweet.  Truth was, left to her own devices, Luci might have made much of her own inclinations, for her heart was purely girlish.  Indeed, secretly at home, she enjoyed the more womanly chores of baking, cooking and sewing.

It did bother her that her abilities with a gun appeared to frighten suitors, for at the age of nineteen, she had never known the amorous attentions of any young man; no boyfriends, no male interest in her as a young woman.  She’d not even experienced a mild flirtation with a member of the opposite sex.  Indeed, it might be said that she was nineteen and ne’er been kissed.

          So it was with reluctance that Luci answered her sister’s plea to “not kill him,” saying, “I promised you that I wouldn’t, Janie, and that’s all I can assure you.  You must admit that the brute deserves no consideration whatsoever.  If father were here, you know that he would demand a Military Tribunal for that man, since both our father and that viper are military.  Even a firing squad would be too good, I’m sure.  To think, that skunk told you he wasn’t married—“

          “He did propose to me.”

          “How could he?  Janie, he was married when he proposed to you.  He’s nothing but a lying thief.”

          “He’s not a thief!”

          “He took your maidenhood, didn’t he?” Lucinda whispered the words.  “Once lost, it’s gone forever.  You must see that he deserves to be killed.”

          Jane blushed.  Still, she persisted, entreating, “Please don’t do it, Luci.  Please.  I love him so.”

          This last was said with such urgency and dramatics, that Luci’s only response was a sigh.  If it were up to her…

          She still remembered back to a few weeks ago, and to Janie’s confession.

 

          Luci had found her blond and beautiful fifteen-year-old sister locked in her room, grieving.  On enquiry, Jane had confessed her problem.  “I’m pregnant, Luci.  We had planned a June wedding.  But now?…”

          “Pregnant?  Had planned a June wedding?”

          “He’s married.  I didn’t know.  I swear I didn’t.  He told me he loved me, and that we would be married in June.  But when I came to him to tell him of the child, he laughed at me.”

          “He laughed?  You’re telling this to me truly?  He honestly laughed?”
          Jane cried and seemed unable to speak.  She nodded instead.

          “Who is this man?”

          Jane hiccupped.  “I…promise me that you won’t kill him.”

“How can I say that to you in view of what has happened? And with Father gone.  Now, tell me, who is this man?  You know I’ll find out one way or the other.”

“I suppose you will.  But please, I can’t reveal his name to you unless I have your word that you won’t kill him.”

Luci paused.  She could force the issue, but she would rather not.  Perhaps it was because Jane was more like a daughter to her than a sister, for Luci had taken on the role of “mother” at the age of four, when their own mother, shortly after giving birth to Jane, had passed on to the heavenly plane.  Plus, their father had never remarried.  Luci uttered, “I will do my best not to kill him, Janie. But that’s all I can promise.”

Sniffing, Jane blew her nose on the dainty handkerchief in her hand, then at length, she admitted, “I guess that’s good enough.  I think you might know him.  It’s Captain Timothy Hall.  But please, don’t be angry at him.  I love him so.”

          Of course Luci knew the worthless snake.  He had once courted Abagail Swanson, one of her best girlfriends, who also had been underage at the time.  Luckily for her friend, she had discovered the truth of Hall’s marital state before he’d been able to inflict permanent damage on her.

What was wrong with the man?  Was his twenty-year-old wife already too old for him?  Was he a pervert?

          Oh, what she would like to do to him if the society around them would only allow it.…

 

          Well, that was all in the recent past; what was done was done.  Today was the day he would pay.  Today, that no-account slime would contend with her, and Luci pledged to herself that her sister’s honor, as well as that of their family, would be avenged.

Once again, she thought back to the last few weeks.  In less than twenty-four hours after her talk with Janie, Luci had challenged the bearded, black-haired degenerate, and had done so in as public a place as possible, a garden party.  He had laughed at her, of course, when she had confronted him, and, using her gloves, she had slapped his face.

 

“You’re a two-timing scoundrel, Captain Hall, and I challenge you to a duel.  Make no mistake, I will protect and defend my family’s honor.”

“You?  A woman?  Dueling me?”  He snickered.  “I wouldn’t stoop so low.” 

“Low?  Are you a coward, then?  Is your problem that your spine runs yellow?  You know that no man has ever bested me in the skill of the shooting gallery.”

His answer was nothing more than a loud hiss.

“My second will act at once, setting the time and place of the duel.  And hear me out, if you don’t show, I will ensure that all the country in and around Washington DC, as well as your wife, will know not only of your misdeeds, but also of your cowardice.  And this, I promise.”

 

          Still, she thought, he might not come.  For now, she awaited her second, as well as those in Hall’s party.  She picked up her pistol—a Colt .45—checking it over carefully, swearing to herself what she would do to him if the wicked man didn’t show.…

***

          “The rules for this duel are as follows,” declared Sergeant Anthony Smyth, a tall, dark-haired gentleman, who was Luci’s second.  Smyth was an excellent marksman in his own right, which was one reason why Luci had picked him to preside over the duel. That both he and his wife were close family friends had aided Luci in making the choice.  But Smyth was continuing to speak, and he said, “The match continues to first blood, and, regardless of how minor the injury, the match then ends.  No further shots are legal, and will not be tolerated. The twenty paces, which were agreed upon in writing, have been marked out by a sword stuck in the ground at each side of the field.  When I drop the handkerchief that I hold in my hand, you may each advance and fire.  Lieutenant Michaels is on duty as the official surgeon.”  Sergeant Smyth glanced first at Luci, then at Captain Timothy Hall.  “Are there any questions?”

          When neither she nor Captain Hall spoke up, Sergeant Smyth continued, “Then it is begun.”

          Luci glanced down the field, estimating her distance, as well as determining where exactly she would place her shot.  Having already decided that a shoulder injury would be the easiest to heal, she calculated the precise angle that would be required to obtain that “first blood,” and end the match.  Next to Captain Hall stood his older brother, James Hall, his second.

          Behind Luci, well to her rear and out of shooting range, sat Janie, who had brought a blanket to cushion the soft ground upon which she sat.  Refreshments of cinnamon rolls and coffee, with plates and coffee cups, decorated a table next to Janie.  As was expected by the rules of conduct for all matters concerning dueling, both Janie and Luci had brought the refreshments for the participants today, including that serpent, Captain Tim Hall. 

Luci hadn’t easily consented to the early morning snack, but her friend, Sergeant Smyth, had already determined that the duel would follow the rules of personal combat exactly, making her obligated to provide the food and drink.

          She sighed as she awaited the signal to begin, but she never once glanced away from her target.  To do so might be fatal.

          Smyth dropped the handkerchief, and both duelists fired at will.  Luci’s shot hit Hall in the shoulder, as she had intended, while Hall’s volley missed her entirely.

          “First blood has been taken,” called out Sergeant Smyth. “The match now ends as formerly agreed upon.  All participants are to put down their weapons, and all are invited to coffee and rolls, which they will find at the far side of the field.  A surgeon is on hand to deal with your wound, Captain Hall.”

          Luci turned away, setting her gun down on the table next to her.

          Blast!

          The explosion was unexpected.  The match was finished, wasn’t it?  If so, why was Captain Hall still firing at her?

          Boom!

          Hall’s next shot hit her in her left upper arm.

          “Stop this at once!” shouted Smyth.  “Halt! This is illegal!”

          But Luci ignored her second in command; she was in a gun fight and under attack; his words didn’t even register with her.  With the quick reflexes of one who is in command of her weapon, she grabbed hold of her Colt, turned, and carefully aimed her shot to do the most damage to Captain Hall without killing him.

          Blast!

          She sent her answering bullet at Captain Timothy Hall, placing the slug high up on his thigh, intending the bullet to miss, yet graze his masculine parts.  His loud cry indicated she had been successful.  She turned her pistol on Hall’s second—James Hall—who had picked up his own gun, as though he might consider using it against her, also, illegal though it was.

          “Captain Hall, you and your brother must cease this at once.  You will be reported.  You and your second will likely be court martialed if you continue firing,” Sergeant Smyth yelled, as he hurried toward Luci, his own Colt drawn and aimed at the two culprits. But his threat fell on deaf ears.  Hall had fallen to the ground, his shrieks indicating he was in too much pain to be of any more use in a gunfight.  Hall’s brother, James, however, looked ready to continue the match, except that when he espied Luci’s Colt pointed directly at him, as well as Smyth’s drawn weapon, James Hall instead dropped his gun and held his hands up in surrender.

          Luci nodded.  But that was all that she did.  Without letting her guard down, she kept her weapon trained on both the Hall brothers as she paced to where Jane sat at the side of the field. Bending, Luci grabbed hold of her sister by the arm and pulled her up.  Then, without turning her back on Captain Hall and his brother, she made her retreat toward the street, where her coach awaited.

          “Make a report of this at once,” she instructed Smyth, as well as Lieutenant Michaels, the military surgeon.  “Let all know what a cowardly slime Captain Hall truly is.  My father must be informed, and he will thank you both for doing so.”

          Without cause to do more at the moment, Luci and Jane slowly withdrew, Jane leading the way to their coach, for Luci never once turned her back on her opponent.  That the screams of Captain Timothy Hall wafted through the air was music to Luci’s ears.  By measured retreat, they gained the street and the carriage, and Jane practically flew into her seat within.

          “Driver!” yelled Luci as she quickly followed her sister into the conveyance.  “Take us to the army telegraph office as quickly as possible!”  Seating herself with care, she continued, declaring to Jane, “We must send Father word of this at once.”

“Why, you’re hurt!”

          It was true.  The exact extent of the damage was yet to be determined, and it was only now, within the relative safety of their coach, that Luci realized her arm hurt unbearably.

          Yet, to Janie, all she said was, “It is only a scratch, soon healed.  But come, Jane, please tear off a part of my petticoat, and give it to me to tie, that I might stop this bleeding, for I fear it is staining my blouse.”

          “Leave it to you to consider only the damage to your clothing,” scolded Jane as she did as instructed.  It was also she who tied the tourniquet. “As soon as we arrive at our home, I will summon our surgeon to attend to you at once.”

“After we send that telegraph to father,” amended Luci.  “I fear we have not heard the last of Captain Hall and his brother.  Though I feel assured that Mr. Smyth will also telegraph word to our father on any channel available to him, he may not be able to do this at a speed that could be required to ensure our good health.”

          “What do you mean?”

          Luci sent her sister a cautious glance.  With the duel having gone as badly as it had, it was not in Luci’s nature to instill even more alarm in Jane, especially considering her delicate condition.  Nevertheless, a word of attentiveness might be in order.

          To this end, she patted Jane’s hand, smiled at her and said, “When Captain Hall heals from the wound I inflicted upon him, he might feel compelled to seek us out for daring to expose his base nature to his fellow military officers.  A man who would flaunt the rules of honor cannot be trusted.  And I fear—”

          “Luci, please,” Jane cried, tears in her eyes.  “What he has done is wrong, so very, very wrong, but please do not keep degrading his character to me.  A scoundrel he is, I have no doubt, and I feel terrible that he has hurt you, but I am, after all, carrying his child.  I wish I weren’t, Luci, but it is done, and I must bear the consequences of my actions.  However, I fear that, as he is the babe’s father, he may have rights that even I don’t understand. I should try to discover a good trait he might possess, for I fear that I may have to deal with him in the future.”  She pulled out a hanky from her purse and blew her nose.  “Is it possible that he might have some logical reason as to why it was necessary to continue to fire at you when he should have stopped?  Perhaps it was a reaction he could not control?”

“He fired two illegal shots at me, Janie, not one.”

“Oh, how hard it is to love a man so much,” Janie uttered with so much heartfelt passion that Luci was reminded of her sister’s youth—and the hardship of being pregnant at so young an age.  “I know it’s true enough that he lied to me, but that doesn’t make him all bad, does it?  I once found good in him.  It must still be there.  Oh, Luci, it hurts to love him so.  It hurts.”

          Momentarily, Luci felt at a loss for words.  She made up for that lack by patting Jane’s hand instead.

“It will get better,” she assured Jane at last.  “I know it might seem now as though the hurt will never heal.  But it will.” She sighed.  “It will.  And perhaps you are right.  Maybe in the future we might be dealing with a good man.  I guess one could say that only the future will declare the truth of his character.  We can hope, Janie, we can hope.”

Luci averted her gaze to stare at the closed, royal blue curtains that fell down over the windows of the carriage.  Enough said.  She would send this telegram to their father, then wait and see what might unfold.  Reaching over to pull that blue, velvet curtain away from the window, she watched as the sun came up in the east.

Buy THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME on Amazon!

Updated: February 11, 2020 — 8:21 am

Laura Ingalls Wilder Trivia and Fun Facts

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the death of Laura Ingalls Wilder and in her honor I thought I’d share a bit of trivia about her life and accomplishments.

 

  • Laura was 65 when the first of her Little House books, Little House in the Big Woods, was published. It was 11 years later, when she was 76, that the 8th and final book in the series was published.
  • Laura received her teaching certificate at age 15 and taught in one room schoolhouses until she married Almanzo Wilder at age 18.
  • The Little House books were not her first paid writing accomplishments. At age 42 she went to work for the St. Louis Farmer as their poultry columnist. She eventually went on to write columns for the Missouri Ruralist, McCall’s Magazine and The Country Gentleman. In order to give her writing more credibility with male readers, her columns were published under the name A.J.Wilder.

 

 

  • As a young child, she lived through a devastating invasion of over 3.5 TRILLION locusts. It was one of the worst natural disasters the country had ever faced to that date, causing an estimated $116 billion worth of damage and causing near starvation for many settlers,, including her own family. The culprits, the Rocky Mountain locusts went extinct about 1902, though no one knows the reason why.
  • Laura had some interesting leaves on her family tree. One ancestor, Martha Ingalls Allen Carrier, was hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials.  She was also related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt through her great grandmother, Margaret Delano Ingalls.

 

  • She was once told that writing for children was a waste of time. I’m so glad she ignored that advice! Her Little House books have remained in print continuously since the 1930s and the series has sold over 60 million copies and have been published in 26 languages.
  • Laura received lots of fan mail over the course of her writing life. After her Little House series took off she averaged about 50 pieces of mail per day. In fact, on her last birthday she received over 1000 bits of correspondence.
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was established in 1954 by the American Library Association. Its purpose was to honor authors and illustrators whose children’s books have made a major impact on children’s literature. Laura was, of course, the first recipient. Since then, other recipients have included Theodor Geisal (Dr. Seuss), Maurice Sendak and Beverly Cleary. However, the organization announced in June 2018 that it planned to change the name of the award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award due to the way Laura portrayed Native Americans in her books. In their statement the organization added this caveat: “Changing the name of the award, or ending the award and establishing a new award, does not prohibit access to Wilder’s works or suppress discussion about them. Neither option asks or demands that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children.”

  • Prior to the establishment of her namesake award, Laura had already won Newberry Honors on four of her Little House books.
  • A fun little bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder trivia – In the summer of 2017, Laura (in her young pig-tailed girl persona) was sculpted in butter at the Iowa State Fair in honor of the 150th anniversary of her birth.
  • Laura died on February 10, 1957, just 3 day after her 90th birthday. She was survived by her daughter and only child, Rose. Rose never had any children of her own, but Roger MacBride whom she met when he was a teenager and who later became her lawyer and literary agent, became her heir. He inherited an estate  that has a present day value of over $100 million and was responsible for licensing the television rights to the Little House books.

So there you have it, some interesting tidbits from the life of one of the most beloved of children authors. Were any of these new to you? Do you have some fun facts of your own to add? Have you read the books yourself?  

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

 

An Eccentric Texan

Texas has it’s share of eccentric millionaires, but there was one in my hometown who raised the bar for others…not just for his philanthropy, but because of the art work and creativeness he gave to our community even after his death.

Stanley March 3, notice not a Roman Numeral III. He said the III was way too pretentious for his liking.  He was well-known for his outrageous art projects. The one that earned him national notoriety is the 1970s Cadillac Ranch. If you’ve ever driven on Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo you can’t help but notice the Cadillacs planted nose-down in a field to the south of the highway. The trunks and tail-fins of these former gas guzzler’s extend above ground, like whale flukes that become visible just before the big mammals dive…all colorful and personalized by millions of travelers and locals.

Although Marsh had to move the project to stay clear of our urban sprawl, Cadillac Ranch is still open to the public. In fact, visitors are encouraged to participate in the project by spray-painting graffiti on the rusted hulks. Periodically, some are painted in a solid color, so new art work can be added by travelers. It’s a must see when visiting our area.

I can’t help but post a picture of my youngest grandson, who is now in high school, at the ranch in front of one of our famous tumbleweeds a/k/a Russian Thistle. This proves everything in Texas is bigger than life.

Another roadside sculpture closer to Amarillo on the Frying Pan Ranch, one of the original ranches in our area, commissioned by Marsh is the “Two vast and trunkless egs of stone”. It was inspired by the work of British poet Percy Shell, in his 1818 sonnet, Ozmandias. It consists of two legs–one 24 feet tall, the other 34 feet. Like Marsh’s Cadillac Ranch, this art project on their ranch is subject to the occasional gratuitous paint job, and the feet have been seen adorned with sports socks.

The third unique thing that Marsh added to our city are hundreds of bogus highway signs proclaiming surprise announcements or posting questions, such as “What is a village without village idiots?”. They showed up unexpectedly in people’s yards, as well as public places, although many are gone now. Marsh was quoted as saying, “Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well.”.

Do you have anyone in your own who is eccentric enough to leave their footprints all over the area?  I’d love to hear about them.

To two winners who leave a comment, I will give them an eBook of my latest Contemporary Romance Out of a Texas Night.

 

 

Updated: February 1, 2020 — 4:00 pm

Baker City Mining

 

Admittedly, the history of mining isn’t something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about or researching. And then I happened to include a setting of mines in not one but two stories and dove into researching hard rock mining in the Baker City, Oregon, area at the end of the 1800s.

I knew before I started that there were many, many mines in the area from the 1880s through the 1890s and on into the new century. Dozens of little mining towns popped up on the horizon and just as quickly faded one the mines closed. 

From 1880 through 1899, Oregon produced more than $26 million dollars in gold and silver with more than $18 million of it coming from Baker, Grant and Union county (which are all in the Baker City region). 

To say mining was a big deal at the time is something of an understatement. It was a huge business.

Thankfully, the Baker County Library has an incredible digital library of thousands of old images. I found many that illustrated the mining business and aided my research more than I can even say. 

As a visual person, it was fantastic to look at these images, read the descriptions and picture how things would look at my fictional mines. 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This advertisement was such a help to me because the illustration lets you look inside the various levels of the mill and see how they were built into the hills. 

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This is an image of the Eureka & Excelsior Mine mill building in the Cracker Creek District, Oregon. You can see how it’s built into the hill, quite similar to the illustration in the advertisement. 

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This image shows the vanner room at the Bonanaza Mine, which was one of the top producing mines during the mining heyday in the Baker City region. It was located four miles from Greenhorn City which straddled both the Baker and Grant county lines.

Vanning is a process of separating the material of value from that which is worthless. Typically, a powdered sample of orestuff is swirled with water on the blade of a shovel and then given a series of upward flicking motions. The heavier ore is tossed up through the water and appears as a crescent shaped patch at the top of the charge with the lighter material that is unusable below.  In the 19th century, the process was automated and used to separate ore on an industrial scale. The Frue Vanner was a widely-adopted machine, invented in 1874 by W.B. Frue in Canada. 

With a Frue vanner, a continuous rubber belt (usually 4 feet wide and about 27.5 feet long, shown in the center of this photo) passed over rollers to from the surface of an inclined plane. The orestuff was concentrate on in the belt and the belt traveled uphill from three to twelve feet per minute while being shaken anywhere from 180-200 times. Crushed orestuff from the stamps fed onto the belt. As it traveled uphill, it met small jets of water which gradually washed the gangue (the commercially valueless material in which ore is found) off the bottom of the belt. The heavier ore adhered to the belt as it went over the top roller and passed into a box containing water where the ore was deposited. To make this work, anywhere from three to six gallons of water per minute was required. One machine could treat approximately six tons per twenty-four hours of orestuff.

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

 

This is a photo of the stamping room at the Golden Gate mine, also located near Greenhorn City. There are ten stamps shown here. The stamp is a large mechanical device used to crush ore and extract minerals. Repeatedly, the stamps and raised and dropped onto ore that is fed into the mill, until the coarse ore is reduced to a finer material that can be further processed. The number of stamps used depended on the size of the mill and the amount of ore being taken out of the mine.

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

The Red Boy Mine (also located near Greenhorn City) boasted it’s own laboratory, at least in this 1902 photo. On-site labs were considered to be a strategic value to a mine. Among the work done there was testing and sampling to derive critical operational, metallurgical, and environmental data needed to make the most of mining and mineral processing production.

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

This amazing photo (undated) was taken at the Bonanza Mine.  Five men are working in a tunnel wielding four-pound hammers that were called “single jacks” and steel drills. Note the candles on a wire stuck in cracks in the walls to provide light.  Total production at this mine from 1899-1904 was just shy of a million dollars. It was mostly a gold mine, although they did find some silver. Reports show total production from the mine totaled $1.75 million dollars. 

 

Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon

And this awesome image is taken inside the superintendent’s cabin at the St. Anthony Mine in 1901.  One might assume the woman in the photo is the superintendent’s wife. Many of the mines refused to allow women in the camp and were called a “boar’s nest.” 

If you’d like to read more about mining in this region of Oregon, there’s a lot of detail in this digital report

And if you’d like to read about the adventures of my characters at the fictional mines that exist only in my head, you’ll find Graydon (Grady) Gaffney at the Lucky Larkspur Mine in Gift of Hope.

 

When his affections are spurned by the girl he plans to wed, Graydon Gaffney rides off in the swirling snow, determined to stay far away from fickle females. Then a voice in the storm draws him to a woman and her two sweet children. Despite his intentions to guard his emotions, all three members of the DeVille family threaten to capture his heart.

Giavanna DeVille holds the last frayed edges of her composure in a tenuous grasp. In a moment of desperation, she leaves her sleeping children in her cabin and ventures out into a storm to release her pent-up frustrations where no one can hear her cries. Much to her surprise, a man appears through the blinding snow. He gives her a shoulder to cry on and something even more precious. . . hope.

Can the two of them move beyond past heartaches to accept the gift of hope for their future?

You’ll also find the characters of my latest book Dumplings and Dynamite (releasing tomorrow!) at the Crescent Creek Mine, up in the hills out of Baker City. 

Widow Hollin Hughes doesn’t care how long it takes or the depths of deception required to discover how her husband really died. She’s determined to unearth the truth and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. Then a new dynamite man arrives at the mine and throws all her plans off kilter.

With a smile that makes females of any age swoon, Deputy Seth Harter can charm his way into or out of almost anything. When he’s sent undercover to Crescent Creek Mine, even the cranky cook seems entirely immune to his rugged appeal, making him wonder if he’s losing his touch. Eager to get to the bottom of a series of unexplained deaths, Seth counts on catching the criminals. He just didn’t anticipate a tempestuous woman claiming his heart in the process.

Brimming with humor, tidbits from history, and a sweet, unexpected love, don’t miss out on a heartwarming romance packed with adventure.

And here’s a little excerpt from the story:

A flash of pity swept through him for the baby’s mother who lost her husband and was now working for the contemptible Eustace Gilford. He had no doubt the woman had to rise in the wee hours of the morning to be able to cook a big breakfast for a camp full of miners. It had to be challenging to cook and care for such a newly-born child.

Mrs. Parrish hurried back into the kitchen, saw him holding the baby, and her pale skin blanched white.

“What are you doing?” she asked in a harsh, quiet tone. She moved across the room and took the baby from him with such haste, he had no idea how she’d managed to reach him in so few steps. He couldn’t be certain, but he thought maybe she’d forgotten about her limp.

“I hoped if I held her, she’d stop crying. It worked,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets, although he moved a step closer to the widow. “What’s her name?”

“Keeva.”

“I’ve never met anyone named Keeva. Is it a family name?” he asked.

The woman merely nodded. “It was her great-grandmother’s name.”

“Then I’m sure she’d be proud to have a beautiful little granddaughter to share it with.”

The woman looked at him over her shoulder with an uncertain glare, as though she couldn’t quite figure him out, before she turned back to the baby. “Breakfast is on the table. The men will be in soon. If you want something to eat, you best get out there. If Mr. Gilford didn’t mention it, the men pack their own lunches from the food on the tables near the door.”

“He did say something about that. Thank you, Mrs. Parrish.” Seth tipped his head to her then made his way to the dining room where men began trickling inside.

Eustace directed Seth to a chair at the far end of the long table. When everyone was seated, he pointed to Seth. “Meet our newest employee, Seth Harter. He’ll be drilling and blasting.”

Mrs. Parrish nearly dropped the pot of coffee she carried at this announcement but quickly recovered. Seth wondered how hard he’d have to work to charm the truth out of her. In spite of her appearance, something about her made him look forward to trying.

Although Dumplings and Dynamite releases tomorrow, you can pre-order it today!

If you were a miner back in the 1800s, what kind of mineral would you have been searching for? Gold? Silver? Quartz? Copper? Lead? Something with a little more sparkle? 

Marilyn Turk: No Iced Tea?

The fillies are handing a big hey welcome to guest blogger Marilyn Turk! Come on in!

When I began planning the menu for the Cowboy Café in my new novella, Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café, I was pretty sure I knew what foods would be served. After all, my main character, Sarah Beth Taylor, is a southern belle who hails from a Georgia plantation not far from Savannah. Since I, too, am a southern belle, (ahem), I’m familiar with southern food, and I was certain she’d serve iced tea.

But when I discovered our setting in Crinoline, Texas was in 1868 west Texas, I had a problem getting ice to her café. After years in the food service business, I had to rethink how they managed food preservation in 1868. How did they keep things cool in hot, dry Texas? Some of the gracious western writers on this blog offered solutions like spring houses, wells and basements. But ice? Now that was another matter.

Researching the history of commercial ice, I discovered that natural ice was originally harvested in the winter from frozen lakes, ponds and rivers in the north and stored in icehouses through the summer. Frederick Tudor of Boston began the ice trade in 1805, shipping ice blocks stacked with wood shavings and sawdust for insulation by ship or train. By 1847, ice was shipped to 28 cities in the United States, including those in the South like Savannah and Galveston. From there, the product was shipped inland via train or wagon.

As demand grew for natural ice, so did the competition. In 1851, Dr. John Gorrie of Florida (of course) invented mechanical refrigeration and the first ice machine. By 1876, the process had been perfected by other inventors. And in 1877, Elisha Hall and R.R. Everett established the Houston Ice Manufacturing Company, then other ice companies followed. Most ice plants produced 300-pound blocks of ice. Once made, block ice was delivered to homes and commercial businesses, first by mule or horse-drawn wagon. Of course, these wagons were not refrigerated, so they couldn’t travel too far from the ice plant and keep their ice frozen.

But Crinoline Creek was too far to get deliveries by wagon and there was no train there yet. It never got cold enough for the lakes and rivers to freeze, so they couldn’t cut ice from them. So, Sarah Beth couldn’t get ice in 1868 and she couldn’t serve iced tea. The best she could do was make lemonade as long as the general store could get lemons, or maybe order some bottles of sarsaparilla and hope to keep them cool in the well. I’m sure that eventually, ice was available in Crinoline Creek and the Cowboy Café could finally offer iced tea to its customers.

Hey guys, Marilyn has graciously offered to give away a copy of this marvelous book (I know that because I love these authors!!!!) Leave a comment, an opinion, or a pithy remark below about how you’ve managed to “make do” without something you’d like to have over the years? It could be ice… or chocolate?

No. 🙂 Not chocolate! Let’s see what you’ve got below!

Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café” by Marilyn Turk

A refined but feisty southern belle inherits a saloon she plans to convert into a genteel café. Even though her lack of cooking skills threatens disaster, she rejects the town banker’s advice. What will happen when the two lock horns and an unlikely romance simmers on the back burner?

 

A “literary archaeologist,” Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction flavored with suspense and romance for Barbour Books, Winged Publications and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. One of her World War II novels, The Gilded Curse, won a Silver Scroll award. She has also written a series of novels set in 1800 Florida whose settings are lighthouses. In addition, Marilyn’s novellas have been published in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection and Crinoline Cowboys. Marilyn also writes for Guideposts magazine and Daily Guideposts Devotions.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Word Weavers International.

When not writing, Marilyn and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, playing tennis or visiting lighthouses.

Marilyn is a regular contributor to the Heroes, Heroines and History blog. https://www.hhhistory.com). Connect with her at http://pathwayheart.com, https://twitter.com/MarilynTurk, https://www.facebook.com/MarilynTurkAuthor/, https://www.pinterest.com/bluewaterbayou/, marilynturkwriter@yahoo.com.