There were more modern displays in the museum as well, starting with Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger who tracked down and killed Bonnie and Clyde in the 1930s, and moving into contemporary times.
When I realized my post fell on Cinco de Mayo, I wondered how the day became such a big United States celebration. Okay, I hear those who remember I live in Texas saying, “You’re just asking this now?” Yes, I should’ve researched this sooner having lived in Texas over 35 years, but as my father said, I was born two weeks late and have been late ever since!
The first thing I discovered, that celebrating Cinco de Mayo is primarily a US festivity, surprised me. I also mistakenly thought some that the day commemorated Mexico’s independence from Spain. (This occurred on September 16, 1821.) What Cinco de Mayo originally celebrated was 1862 Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. On that day, Mexican peasants with South Texas and Rio Grande Valley vaqueros led by Goliad, Texas, born General Ignacio Zaragosa defended forts in Puebla. Though poorly trained, short on ammunition, weapons, and artillery, they defeated the French.
In 1864, Mexican American associations in California organized an event to memorialize the battle. To these people, the win was a symbol of Mexican pride and hope for freedom over tyranny. Soon after, communities in South Texas started commemorating the day. Newspapers from the 1880s and 1890s contained stories on Cinco de Mayo celebrations in San Antonio, Laredo, and El Paso. In the 1960s Goliad created the General Zaragoza State Historic Site in Goliad State Park. In 1973 the town held Fiesta Zaragoza which included music, ballet folklórico performances, and a barbecue cookoff. (After all, this was Texas!) In 1980 Puebla gifted Goliad with a statue for their historic site, and in 1990, the Texas Senate declared Goliad the “official place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.”
As to how Cinco de Mayo has become the huge event it is today in the US? Part of the reason could be because as some claim winning the Battle of Puebla, slowed Napoleon III’s taking of Mexico and installing Maximilian I, and prevented the French’s involvement in the US Civil War on the Confederate’s side. But most agree the celebration’s huge popularity is due to marketing folks realizing the day’s potential.
Tonight if you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and toast General Zaragoza and the bravery of those Texans that fought with him against the French but aren’t big on crowds, here’s my dear hubby’s margarita recipe.
Into a shaker with ice, place the following:
1 shot Tequila
1/2 shot orange liqueur such as Triple Sec
1/2 shot Fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 shot Simple Syrup (Make by bringing equal parts of sugar and water to a boil and cooling.)
Shake well. Strain into a glass filled with ice and rimmed with salt (optional).
Note: You can make a margarita mix to store in the fridge by mixing equal parts of fresh lime juice and simple syrup.
As an extra bonus, here’s my hubby’s great fajita recipe to go with the margaritas. The meat is also super in quesadillas.
1 lb skirt steak
1 pkg tortillas
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp coriander
1 Tbl chili powder
Sprinkle meat with tenderizer. Combine dry ingredients to make the rub. Apply the rub to the meat, let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle meat with fresh lime juice. Refridgerate 30-60 minutes covered. Grill on high heat for 6-8 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice against the grain.
To be entered in today’s giveaway of a margarita car air freshener, car coasters (they also fit in my couch’s cup holders), and a copy of The Rancher and the Vet leave a comment about your favorite Mexican dish, dessert, or cocktail. My favorite is a tie between sopapillas and flan!
Hi, I’m Andrea Downing and today I’d like to talk about the lesser known figure of John Larn.
The history of the West is littered with a glittering array of gunfighters and lawmen—sometimes both in one man. After all, the West wouldn’t have been ‘Wild’ without them; think how boring it would be if we only had pioneers and a quite ordinary workforce to write about! Like cream, certain names rise to the top in the litany of gunfighters: Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Their counterparts, the lawmen, were often not much better than they; think Pat Garrett and Wyatt Earp and company. But there were lesser mortals who left a trail of destruction in their wake, and one such man was John Larn.
Larn was born in Alabama in 1849, well before the heady, post Civil War main migration to the West. As a teen, he moved on to Colorado to find work as a cowboy, but the hot-headed young man ended up killing his boss around 1869 in an argument over a horse. Heading to New Mexico, he notched his gun a second time when he killed a sheriff he believed to be in pursuit of him. Moving on to Texas, he next had work as trail boss for rancher Bill Hays in Fort Griffin, around 1871. This led to the deaths of 3 more victims on the trail to Trinidad, Colorado.
As we all know, ladies love a bad boy, and Mary Jane Matthews, from a prominent family, was no exception. The couple married, would eventually have two sons, and Larn managed to become a well-respected citizen—for a time at least—of Shackleford County in Texas. But by 1873, rumors started to appear of cattle rustling in which Larn was involved. Somehow, he was able to put the spotlight on his former boss, obtain a warrant charging the outfit with rustling and, keeping in mind no good deed goes unpunished, he gathered a possee and joined soldiers from Fort Griffin to ambush and kill all Bill Hays’ ranch hands.
By now, you may be getting the idea that Larn was one blood-thirsty dude. I’d agree! His next foray into law enforcement was to join a vigilante group called The Tin Hat Brigade in Griffin. Griffin had become so lawless, such a magnet for the anarchic and unruly, that it needed this group to take control and bring some law and order. Earning respect from the local townspeople for this work, Larn was elected sheriff in 1876 and was able to build a ranch on the Cedar Fork at Lambshead.
But I guess law enforcement may not have paid well because in less than a year Larn had either resigned or been pushed out, and his next post was as a deputy hides inspector. This involved keeping an eye on all cattle movement and supervising butchers as well. He also obtained a contract to supply three cattle a day to the fort. Needless to say, Larn didn’t think to supply his own beef. He practically started a range war, leading a band of men in bushwhacking and heading cattle off ranches. When a band of citizens searched the area behind Larn’s house, no prizes for guessing what they found. Six hides with other ranches’ brands were found and, at last, Larn’s game was up. For a moment at least…no charges were filed despite the arrest. Unfortunately for him, however, his bad temper led to his last assault—that of a local rancher by the name of Treadwell who had supposedly uncovered Larn’s cattle rustling. Larn was arrested and taken to Albany, where the sheriff had him shackled to his cell. When vigilantes arrived wanting to lynch Larn, they found they couldn’t remove him and shot him instead. He was twenty-nine years old. That’s about the age of my hero in Shot Through the Heart.
Here’s a little more about the book:
Gunslinger Shiloh Coltrane has returned home to work the family’s Wyoming ranch, only to find there’s still violence ahead. His sister and nephew have been murdered, and the killers are at large.
Dr. Sydney Cantrell has come west to start her medical practice, aiming to treat the people of a small town. As she tries to help and heal, she finds disapproval and cruelty the payment in kind.
When the two meet, it’s an attraction of opposites. As Shiloh seeks revenge, Sydney seeks to do what’s right. Each wants a new life, but will trouble or love find them first?
So what do you think of these gunslingers and lawmen of the Old West? What made some men into killers? Mental disease? Family genes? And if you’d like to find out whether Shiloh and Sydney manage to find a middle ground, I’m happy to give away one e-book copy of Shot Through the Heart to one person who comments.
And of course, the book in both paperback and eBook is available at:
The turn of the century when the 1800s merged with the 1900s was called The Gilded Age among other names. It was an era of great economic growth and the world changed very rapidly, especially in the transportation and industrial sectors. Women were fighting for the right to vote and to have a say in the running of the country, to end social injustice. As they cried out for and demanded change a lot of women’s organizations sprang up.
One such organization was the American Temperance Society who advocated against liquor. They were led by women such as Carrie Nation whose first husband died of alcoholism. Carrie attracted a lot of followers who marched and carried signs decrying the evils of drink.
These women eventually became known as “Hatchettes” due to the fact they’d march into saloons carrying hatchets and destroy the place. It was a wild time and women were fed up being treated as second-class citizens and being abused (or killed) by their drunken spouses.
Grace Legend in A Cowboy of Legend joins the temperance movement and sees a hero in Carrie Nation. One of her childhood friends was beaten to death by her drunk husband so Grace sees this movement as one that will define her life.
She’s living in Fort Worth, Texas with her brother who’s trying to keep her out of trouble and not having much luck. As a baby in “The Heart of a Texas Cowboy” she was a sassy little thing and as an adult she’s headstrong, passionate, and determined to make her mark.
Tempers flare and sparks fly when she descends on Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock’s Three Deuces Saloon with signs, drums, and hatchets.
Having grown up with nothing, he’s worked long and hard for something to call his own and he’s not about to let these women take it from him.
But who is Deacon Brannock? Grace’s search yields no one in the state in Texas under that name. It has to be fake. If so why? What is he hiding?
And who is the young pregnant woman living above the saloon? A wife, mother, sister? Or maybe he’s holding her against her will. Grace wouldn’t put anything past him. He has a dangerous reputation and was questioned for the murder of one man. Who knows how many others he may have killed?
Yet, Grace is keeping secrets of her own as well. Her family would be furious if they knew what she was doing.
This story has a monkey named Jesse James, orphan boys, and a mystery.
A Cowboy of Legend releases a week from today on Tuesday the 27th.
I have two copies to give away. Just leave a comment answering my question. If you had lived back then, would you have joined one of these women’s organizations? Or tell me any organizations you have joined or are still a member of?
Once Upon a Mail Order Bride (ebook only) is on sale for $1.99 until close of day on Thursday, April 22! If you missed the fourth book of Outlaw Mail Order Brides, now is your chance to get it cheap.
I love learning historical tidbits, and getting to see pieces of history still standing is even better. Last month, my daughter and I met in Waco for a girls getaway weekend. Now that Bethany is working on her PhD at Texas A&M, I don’t get to see her very often, so we started a tradition of getting together for a weekend each semester.
She loves history as much as I do, so we skipped the shopping at the Magnolia Silos in favor of touring historic homes and walking along the Brazos River to visit the Waco Suspension Bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge was closed to the public for refurbishment, but we still managed to get a few pictures.
What is really fascinating about this bridge, however, is it’s history. It wasn’t built for man, you see. It was built for cattle.
In the mid-1800s, cattle was king in Texas, and cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail were essential for bringing those cattle to market. However, crossing the Brazos River was a difficult endeavor. No bridges spanned this river across central Texas, so trail bosses had to find shallow places to cross. With the unpredictability of Texas weather, those places became moving targets. One of the most stable locations to ford was Waco.
At the Civil War, Texas granted a charter to a private company called the Waco Bridge Company and promised them a monopoly on transportation across the river for 25 years if they would build a bridge. No other bridge could be built within five miles. The company hired New York civil engineer Thomas M Giffith to begin plans for the bridge in 1868. Griffith was a skilled engineer, having designed the first bridge to span the Mississippi in 1854. Griffith opted to build a suspension bridge and brought parts in by oxcart. His bridge was completed in 1870, and at the time was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.
The Waco Suspension Bridge wasn’t only used for cattle drives, of course. It became the main crossing point for travelers of all sorts and allowed Waco to become an economic capital for central Texas. Not only did the bridge bring merchants, farmers, and ranchers into Waco, but the bridge itself became an economic boom. The charter granted the Waco Bridge Company permission to charge a toll. Pedestrians paid five cents, and those on horseback or in carriages were charged ten cents. Any loose cattle or livestock cost five cents per head. The Waco Bridge Company reported that it made approximately $25,000 each year in collected tolls and paid off its mortgage in the first year of operation.
Tolls were collected from a bucket that would be lowered from one of its towers. If you look at the bottom right of the above photograph, the brick section with steps leading outside was where the toll keeper and his family lived. As one would expect, this toll quickly became unpopular. The county eventually bought the bridge for $75,000 and then sold it to the city for $1 with an agreement in place that the city would eliminate the toll and maintain the structure.
Eventually, the monopoly time frame expired and other bridges sprang up. Bethany and I saw remnants of a railroad bridge platform as well as a trestle bridge that was built in 1901. The trestle bridge had a section open to foot traffic, so we walked across that bridge and got some lovely shots of the river.
With all the traffic coming across the suspension bridge, enterprising local merchants figured out how to take advantage of this prime real estate. As you can see in the picture below, large advertisements hung from the the brick walls.
In 1913, citizens decided they no longer cared for the unattractive bridge since other options were available and asked for it to be torn down. Thankfully, the city preserved this historic bridge, choosing to beautify it by stuccoing over the brick and replacing the wooden trusses with steel. Cars were permitted over the bridge until 1971. Since then, it’s been open to pedestrian traffic only.
In 2010, however, cattle once again made their way across the Waco Suspension Bridge. During the Chisholm Trail Festival, cowboys herded 40 longhorns across the bridge to commemorate this fascinating piece of Texas history.
Do you find old bridges romantic or nerve-wracking?
Do you have any historic bridges in your area?
Each year. the residents of Fredericksburg, Texas enjoy a tradition that began with the town’s founding in 1847. On the night before Easter, residents dress up as settlers, Comanches, and Easter bunnies to commemorate a peace treaty the town signed in 1847.
When the early German settlers arrived, they were greeted by a harsh land full of fierce native people. The Comanches were not happy with this latest intrusion on their territory–and for good reason. They had experienced violent encounters with immigrants moving in from the East and Mexico from the West
It didn’t take long for the German settlers to realize that if they wanted to survive, their first job was to strike a treaty with the Comanches. As such a thing had never before been accomplished, it must have seemed like a daunting task.
Just before Easter, the town’s founders rode over the hill to negotiate with tribe leaders, leaving women and children behind.
Not knowing what had happened to their men, the women feared the worse. This caused a near panic in the town, especially among the children who were convinced of an attack.
According to legend, one woman came up with a story that calmed everyone down. The fires, she said, had been started by the Easter bunny so he could boil his eggs to deliver the next day.
Not long after that, the men returned, treaty in hand. it was a unique treaty struck by the two different cultures, and it turned out well for both sides. It is reportedly the only North American Indian treaty not to be violated by either party.
Now, every year, the town celebrates the occasion with church bells, bonfires, and pageantry.
What is your favorite Easter or Passover tradition?
I recently moved about 20 miles away from Fort Worth. I’m excited to discover more about this epic historical town, and will, the minute it’s safe to do so.
I’m putting together a list of little known places I want to see, and I thought I’d share it with you, in case you ever visit (this may even entice you to!)
- Jesus BBQ – This quaint shoebox on South Main has been in business since 1969. A sign hangs over the sidewalk – “Jesus BBQ and Mexican Food.” The reviewer loved it.
Pick Your Own Strawberries 3010 S. Bowen Road, Arlington Pay $10, get a 1-pound strawberry basket and spend a sunny day picking strawberries. Better get there early as sometimes the berries are picked over before closing.
The Blue Hole, Dinosaur Valley State Park 1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose
The swimming hole in Dinosaur Valley State Park offers visitors a chance to cool off in 20-feet-deep clear water surrounded by 100 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur tracks. Before you go, check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife website to learn how to map nearby dinosaur tracks because some may be hard to find.
Ayres Cemetery2500 Block of Scott Avenue
A tiny, antiquated cemetery hides one block off Interstate-30 in a motel parking lot in East Fort Worth. Crumbling gravestones tell a story of one of Fort Worth’s first families. Nestled next to a few of the gravestones are markers indicating that some were citizens of the Republic of Texas, which ended in 1846. The last time someone was buried in this family lot was in 1955. The Ayres Cemetery remains as a symbol of the area’s early settlers.
Bonnie and Clyde Shooting Dove Road, Just East of Hwy. 114
This power couple frequented North Texas reportedly because relatives lived here. However, their career as robbers and gangsters slowed and halted when they played a part in killing several Texas patrolmen near Grapevine.
Northside Street Art Intersection of 21st and Roosevelt streets
An enraged gorilla sits on the side of a nondescript building in an otherwise colorless part of town at the corner of 21st Street and Roosevelt. The artist is unknown.
- The Stockyards – Lots to do there:
- Cowtown Opry
- Fort Worth Herd Cattle Drive
- Mechanical Bull
- Cowboy Hall of Fame
- Cattlemen Maze
- Filthy McNasty’s Saloon
I don’t know about you, but I love the quirky, the obscure, the unknown. I plan to visit several of these places!
Have you ever been to Fort Worth?
Anyone familiar with my books might think I have a thing for Texas Rangers, and they be would right. The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency and will celebrate their bicentennial in two years. Stephen F. Austin organized the first group of 10 Texas Rangers back in 1823.
Those early Rangers had no formal law enforcement training, used their own horses and weapons, and faced some of the deadliest outlaws alone. Some even worked without pay. It was a hard job, requiring countless hours in the saddle and endless nights beneath the stars.
Some modern historians take issue with the Rangers’ “brutal force,” but times were tough and the stakes high. Historical events are often subjected to differing interpretations when viewed from modern times.
Most agree, however, that many Texas Rangers made their mark in Western history. Too many, in fact, to name here. But here are a few:
Counted as one of the most fearless men in Western history, he is credited with killing more than 60 outlaws. In the course of his work, he sustained 17 wounds and had been left for dead four times. He retired in 1932 but, even then, no outlaw was safe. Two years after his retirement, he retained a commission as Special Investigator in the case of Bonnie and Clyde. His work ended their deadly crime spree and resulted in their deaths.
Considered by some to be the greatest captains in Texas Ranger history, McDonald’s distractors considered him an irresponsible lawman who precipitated violence and sought publicity. Most, however, agreed that he was “a man who would charge hell with a bucket of water.”
“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’,” was his motto. Upon being sent to Texas to prevent a prizefight, he was asked by the sheriff where the other rangers were. According to legend, this was when the phrase “One riot, one Ranger,” was coined.
Texas Ranger Armstrong didn’t let anything get in the way of catching his man, not even a bullet wound to his leg. On assignment to capture notorious criminal John Wesley Hardin, Armstrong cornered the outlaw on a train. Limping aboard, Armstrong switched his cane to his left hand and drew out his gun. (Now that’s something you don’t see in movies.)
He shot and killed one of Hardin’s gang members, knocked Hardin unconscious, and disarmed the other three outlaws. Once he had everything control, the other law enforcers filed onto the train to take the men into custody.
John “Rip” Ford
Ford couldn’t seem to make up his mind what profession he wanted to pursue. He was a lawyer, doctor, surveyor, newspaper editor, teacher, historian, playwright, printer, mayor, sheriff, chief of police, city marshal, and state and national senator. But he’s most remembered as a Texas Ranger.
He was nicknamed Rip because of his habit of writing the words “Rest in peace” next to the names on the company’s casualty list, and for leading his men into successful battles.
Ira joined the Rangers in 1878 and played a central role in the Fence-Cutting Wars. Barbed wire put an end to the once-open range. Disgruntled cowboys, hustlers, and outlaws became fence clippers. Attempts to stop the wire cutters failed until Ira came up with a solution: dynamite.
He rigged the wires so if the one on top was cut, it would trigger an explosion. Word quickly spread that bombs were planted under the fence lines, effectively ending the “war.”
So what is your favorite type of western hero?
Two of my Texas Ranger stories
Hey, y’all. I’m Christian author, Caryl McAdoo. First, I have to say I’m so thrilled to be here at Petticoats & Pistols! A big thank you to Karen Witemeyer for the invite! Y’all have such a great group of readers here!
While doing research for my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, I ran across a very interesting incident that some say was a catalyst to the start of the Civil War, and it happened right there in Dallas, Texas where I lived until age twelve. That’s when we moved to Irving, one of the suburb cities to the west, between Big D and Fort Worth.
I set GONE TO TEXAS, book one in the series, in 1840 along the Delaware Creek that would become Irving. It took me five books in to get to 1860, just before the Civil War began, so that I could use the Dallas incident, but it inspired the title of book five TEXAS TROUBLE that debuted on September first!
The September addition to that series always also is in the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection—this year is its third, so Collection Three! Heather Blanton, Donna Schlachter, and Kim Grist wrote CAROLINA HOMECOMING, A PINK LADY’S THANKSGIVING, and MAGNOLIA’S MEASURE, respectively for the stories that all contain a very special Thanksgiving!
It was in one of those extra hot summers where the temperatures burned over a hundred degrees for days on end. I lived through a summer like that in 1980, but back in 1860 they had no air conditioning. Poor people. TEXAS TROUBLES opens with two young friends about to go into a barn dance.
While one of the young ladies had never said it aloud, the other spread the news to anyone who would listen that she loves Aaron Van Zandt, but he’d accepted a new position as a cotton buyer for a company in Richmond, and would be soon leaving the little community.
Cass had to figure out a way to persuade him to marry her before he left, and she hoped for her friend’s assistance!
You see, Josie Jo Worley (born in book one GONE TO TEXAS) happened to be the sister of Aaron’s best friend. But her problem was that she loved the dashing Mister Van Zandt as well—had for as long as she could remember, and she’d grown since birth in his shadow. Cass was a relative new resident there, and while JoJo loved her best friend, she couldn’t bring herself to be any part of marrying him off to anyone else!
So, the second fly in the proverbial ointment is that JoJo’s brother loves Cassandra. It happened so often in those days, that neighbors and friends’ brothers or sisters wed. The distances between folks greatly limited the pool of beaus or beauties. It wasn’t so common, though, that a widower fell in love with his dead wife’s sister . . . What would people think?
In TEXAS TROUBLES readers not only get a wonderful overview of the country’s one war—hardly civil at all—where Americans fought Americans. Reviewers say the story gives an excellent rendering of what it was like for those left behind, and so far, have given it one hundred percent five-star ratings!
It shows how the women kept things going at home. How they drew ever closer to God, praying for their husbands, sons, and sweethearts day after day, knowing nothing. How they poured over the lists printed the newspapers of those fallen, wounded, missing in action, or taken prisoner. Not every man who left the close-knit community would come home.
Aaron ended up signing on with the South. The Confederates’ headquarters centered there in Richmond. His best friend, Richard Worley, more like a brother since they grew up together since birth fought for the Yanks.
Following most of those in the conservative community, he joined up with the Federalists, putting the almost-brothers on opposite sides of the battlefields.
The costs of war proved high. Four years of civil war drained the American economy in both the North and the South, and the cost of human life . . . more than six hundred thousand perished, and at least that many or more wounded. Limbs lost and horrors seen changed the men’s lives forever, and doctors didn’t know about PTSD then.
I purposely skirted the horrors of the war, mostly it’s told through letters back and forth from the men and the women who love them. But it’s chock full of history, and I loved the research! One fun thing I learned was that they didn’t manufacture shoes specifically for the right and left foot. Until the Civil War, they were all the same!
Anyone who loves history will enjoy this story and get two romances for the price of one! Readers will live with those left behind. I’ve been so blessed in my life not to have been any part of war. My husband Ron signed up for the navy reserves when we were still in high school and then after we married, but got a honorable dependency discharge when I got pregnant. He would have gone to Vietnam. But God . . .
Has war touched your life?
Brothers are for conflict; and he who finds a wife has found a good thing.
Through the first battle to the end of the Civil war, partners Aaron Van Zandt and Rich Worley fought on opposite sides. The women who loved them lived in prayer and learned to trust God even more to stay sane. While their fellows fought each other, best friends Josie Jo Worley and Cass Andrews battle jealousy, worry, and regret. Experience the war as one who’s left behind. See how they cope. Readers aren’t able to stop turning the pages.
GIVEAWAY: I love giving and especially books! To enter for the opportunity to receive a copy of TEXAS TROUBLES, please comment below whether your life was ever touched by war, and whether you’re a new reader to my stories or have enjoyed some before! BLESSINGS!
GAME: And for those of you who love word games, check this one out! So much fun!
BIO: Award-winning hybrid author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory. Her best-selling novels have garnered over 1000 5-Star reviews, attesting to the Father’s high favor. Readers love her Historical Christian romance family sagas best, but she also writes Christian contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. They count Caryl’s characters as family or very close friends. The prolific writer loves singing the new songs God gives her almost as much as penning tales—hear a few at YouTube! Married to Ron over fifty years, she shares four children and twenty grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.
Did you know the U.S. Marshal did far more than protect the Wild West from outlaws? These courageous men—in addition to wrangling criminals to justice—also delivered writs, subpoenas, served warrants, made other arrests, and transferred prisoners. Sometimes they were given special missions, too.
They paid attorneys, clerks, jurors, and witnesses if fees were due. They were known to go into the street and recruit jurors. I can hear some farmer about town, eyeing the marshal as he held a firm hand on his holster, sporting a shiny badge. The farmer might nod real slow as he considered his options and say, “Uh, yes indeed, Marshal Everett, I reckon purchasing a new hat for the Missus can wait until after we decide on a hangin’ or not.”
1880’s U.S. Marshal badge,
photo courtesy of the U.S. Marshal website.
Marshals also hired bailiffs, janitors, and usually their own deputies. Sometimes they’d fill the water pitchers in the courtroom to allow attorneys and judges to concentrate on the cases. They traversed rural areas gathering census information, as well. One account I read involved a U.S. Marshal chasing a drunk through town and on for miles, and finally, over a fence out in the countryside. Sometimes presidents even needed marshals to become involved in acts of espionage.
Much of the west was governed by circuit judges holding court perhaps twice or thrice a year, often in a town some distance from the jail. Marshals were responsible for prisoners until the court date. It could be a mighty long wait for both the marshals and prisoners.
Although the marshal hero in Lydia’s Lot is busy capturing outlaws and winning over a bride once forbidden to pursue, my research beckoned me to consider the time these lawmen spent in other capacities. My active imagination led me to decide U.S. Marshal Heath Everett might have a companion dog to assist with holding down the field office and aiding in the capture of gun-slinging outlaws—which naturally made me think Heath would want a glorious hunting friend, such as the red Irish setter.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Loyal, friendly, and intelligent, did you know the Irish setter is a fine hunting and companion dog? They were ideal for the prairie with their long, wiry, and bony frames. When trained properly, they will point out grouse, pheasant, turkey, or other wild game to their masters (possibly outlaws, too)—and all with the wave of a hand, and little or no verbal command required.
They will hunch down quietly on all fours, front paws stretched out ahead while the master aims the shotgun and fires directly over their heads at prey. The master will then reward him with a generous portion of the quail, fish, or hunting game this amazing breed helps to secure. However, don’t take a harsh tone with this breed. The setter will never forget it.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
When did the Irish setter arrive on the western frontier? This is debatable, but we know they became wildly popular in America. According to the first pure-bred dog registry in the U.S., “Elcho” became the first Irish setter imported by Charles Turner in 1870. He sired 197 puppies! Several presidents had famous setters, including Truman’s setter, Mike; Reagan’s setter, Peggy; and Nixon’s setter, King Timahoe.
Readers inspired the name Fitzgerald Murphy (nicknamed Fitz) for the Irish setter in Lydia’s Lot. Fitz plays a significant role alongside Heath. You’ll also find some entertaining outlaws and a sub-plot in the novel.
To win a paperback copy of Lydia’s Lot, comment with what kind of mayhem an unrefined mail-order bride matched to a young preacher might be up to in my next historical western. I’d love to hear from you.
Forbidden to marry Heath, the one man she truly loves, Lydia Catherine Hayden, an American heiress from Boston, boards a train and heads west to become a mail-order bride when matchmaker, Milly Crenshaw, introduces her to Wyatt from Iowa. Five years have gone by, and she isn’t interested in any of the society gentlemen of whom her father would approve. Her love for Heath has turned to a mild hate since hearing he married someone else.
When the Wild Whitman Gang involved in an Iowa train robbery use orphans traveling west as human shields to make their escape, they converge on Lydia’s marriage ceremony to Wyatt, killing him and abducting the heiress in the process. Things don’t seem to be going well for the architect’s daughter and she’s in a heap of trouble.
When Heath, now a widowed U.S. Marshal in Des Moines, returns home to Boston to visit family, he decides to sign up for Milly Crenshaw’s mail-order bride agency services in hopes of settling down and becoming a farmer. After Milly learns Lydia is now widowed and being held captive somewhere in Iowa with seven orphans from New York City, she pulls Heath into the case, urging him to find her, and marry her if possible. But first, he has to track down one of the most notorious, dangerous, gun-slinging gangs the Wild West has ever known. Then, he has to win Lydia’s heart all over again, if he isn’t shot and killed first in the process.