The Oldest Continuously Run Library in Texas

Last weekend, my family and I traveled to Lockhart, Texas for my niece’s wedding. My sister-in-law, who knows what a book nerd I am, encouraged me to visit the library downtown, giving me a hint at the historical significance of the building. I couldn’t resist!

The library in Lockhart, named in honor of Dr. Eugene Clark, is the oldest, continuously run library in the state of Texas. It was designed and built by T.S. Hodges in 1899 in a French Renaissance style. When erected, it stood near the opera house, in the cultural center of Lockhart.

Here is what it looks like today.

Since we visited in December, it was decorated for Christmas, and was absolutely beautiful on the inside. There was an entry area with an old rolltop desk and shelves. Then inside you can see the dark wood shelves, stage, and a beautiful stained glass window that features a book at it’s center.











Here’s a lovely view from the stage.

I so wanted to climb the spiral staircase to the upper floor, but I wasn’t s ure if it was allowed, so I forced my son to pose by it instead.

They had a more modern wing as well. This was where most of the books were stored. The children’s area was so fun, I twisted Peter’s arm again to jump into the photo.

Of course, I had to get a photo singing with the carolers outside.











While we were in the beautiful downtown area, I couldn’t leave without getting a few photos of the gorgeous courthouse at the center of the town square.

The cornerstone was laid on August 15, 1893 and completed on March 19, 1894. The 3-story structure is built of sandstone with red sandstone trim. The courthouse is topped by a central clock tower, with additional towers at each corner and flanking the north and south entrances. When it was built, the structure was equipped with the latest conveniences of the day, including electricity.

What is something you love about your local library?

The Little Cannon That Started A Revolution

The Fillies are proud to welcome Debra Holt to the corral with an interesting post. She has a giveaway at the bottom.

Once upon a time, nearly 200 years ago, there was a cannon…

It’s the 1830s, and Texas is a vast expanse of untamed beauty. Rolling plains stretch as far as the eye can see, punctuated by cacti and the occasional hum of wildlife. However, this tranquil landscape conceals rising tensions. American settlers, known as Texians, are growing restless under the Mexican government’s tightening grip. Central to our story is a small cannon gifted to the settlers of Gonzales by Mexican authorities to defend against potential Native American attacks.

Fast-forward a few years to 1835. As tensions reach a boiling point, the Mexican government, possibly regretting its earlier generosity, sends a detachment of 100 soldiers to Gonzales. Their mission? Retrieve the cannon. But the people of Gonzales, sensing the symbolic significance of this request, aren’t willing to comply that easily.

A Symbol of Defiance

The Texians, demonstrating their spirit of resistance, crafted a flag as a powerful retort. On it was a depiction of the very cannon in question, a lone star, and a daring message: “Come and Take It.” This wasn’t merely about a piece of artillery. It was a statement of autonomy, a declaration of their rights, and a refusal to be subdued.

Envision the Standoff

On one side, 100 Mexican soldiers were determined to carry out their orders and return with the cannon. On the other, a group of settlers, their improvised flag catching the wind, the small but symbolic cannon beside them, prepared to defend their principles.

The Skirmish

On October 2nd, as dawn broke over the Texian horizon, a confrontation became inevitable. With a burst of activity, the Texians mounted an offensive. Though the ensuing battle was brief, its repercussions were profound. The Mexican troops, perhaps taken aback by the settlers’ resolve, soon retreated, their mission unfulfilled.

Remarkably, this “battle” saw minimal casualties: one injured on the Mexican side, with the Texians emerging unscathed. Yet, its significance cannot be understated.

Ripples of Revolution

Given its scale and immediate impact, the Battle of Gonzales might seem like a mere footnote. However, in the grand tapestry of history, it was the matchstick that ignited the Texas Revolution. Word of this defiant stand spread rapidly, galvanizing Texians across the region. The “Come and Take It” banner became emblematic of their cause—a tangible representation of the Texian spirit.

In the following months, that spirit would be tested in conflicts like the Battle of the Alamo, culminating in the decisive Texian victory at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. All of this traces back to that small cannon in Gonzales and the unyielding will of those who stood by it.


Today, “Come and Take It” remains an enduring symbol of Texan pride, identity, and resilience. It’s a testament to the notion that even in the face of overwhelming odds, steadfast determination can prevail.

The Battle of Gonzales teaches us about the significance of symbols, the importance of standing up for your beliefs, and the ripple effects a single event can generate. So, if you ever find yourself in Gonzales, Texas, take a moment to remember the little cannon that stood at the heart of a burgeoning revolution.


I’m excited to send one of you a copy of my new book, The Texas Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle. It’s the 4th and final book in my Texas Heritage Series. Tell me, what’s your favorite part of Texas’ history? And what makes it your favorite?



Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings. (ah, romance!).

Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  (more story ideas!)  When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  Writing romances, both contemporary and inspirational, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs… to all who believe in happily-ever-after.

Samuel Walker and a Little Bit of History

Are you up for a little history today? We haven’t had any in while. I found this article about Samuel Walker that interested me.

Walker arrived in Texas six years following the War for Independence. He would only live five more years but in that time, he left an indelible mark.  Such as defend San Antonio from Mexican forces, invade Mexico four times, escape from a Mexican prison, and help design one of the most famous guns in Texas.

In 1843, he was captured and put in a Mexican prison. Instead of killing all 176 Texas militiamen, they made them draw beans from a pot. Whoever drew a black bean would die and the ones with the white beans would live. Walker drew a white bean and was marched 800 miles across Mexico’s most brutal deserts.

He eventually escaped and made it back to Texas where he joined the Texas Rangers in 1844.

This photo taken by Mathew Benjamin Brady is in the Library of Congress under Public Domain.

When General Zachary Taylor (who later became president of the U.S.) asked for volunteers for a dangerous mission, Walker raised his hand. It seems danger was something he thrived on. He led the battle for Monterrey and hoisted the American flag.

Have you ever heard of the Walker Colt revolver? In 1846, Samuel Walker met up with Samuel Colt and together they designed the heaviest military sidearm ever issued. It remained the heaviest for 88 years. It had a nine-inch barrel and a .44 caliber round and an effective range of 100 yards. That’s the length of a football field. Impressive.

By Samuel Colt – This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0,


The only drawback was that it weighed 4 ½ pounds, far too heavy for most men to hold with one hand. A lot of users made a scabbard and kept it on their horse, only using it when the need arose.

It was an awesome weapon. Several years ago I had the opportunity to hold one and I had to use both hands to pick it up and even then I could barely raise it to aim.

I’m not a gun advocate but I do admire the workmanship of this. I also admire Samuel Walker and the large life he lived, the mark he left on history, in just 5 years. A Texas Ranger Captain and officer of the republic, he died in 1847 in battle. A fitting end to a legend.

I’ve put the Texas Rangers into some of my stories but never as the main character. I may have to remedy that.

Do you ever find that a piece of history just leaps out at you? That happens to me all the time and I go chasing a rabbit down a hole. I’ll have a new book out in March called Winning Maura’s Heart. CLICK HERE to preorder. Who is the mysterious man known only as Calhoun?

A New Christmas Story


I’m so excited. I have a new Christmas novella that’s on preorder now and I think you might like it. HOPE’S ANGEL (Releasing October 4th) is set in the fictional town of Genesis where the real town of Thurber, Texas once was a thriving community. It contained the only coal mine in the state and it was also the only company run town. It was owned by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company. Nothing was free enterprise, not even the doctor. Everyone was paid in company script that could only be spent in the company store.

Jericho Cane lives there and he and his partner sell beef to the company to feed the miners. But Jericho never steps foot out of his house until after everyone goes to sleep. He suffered a horrible accident while saving a group of children from a burning train wreck and townsfolk call him a monster. So he hides.

Christmas holds painful memories so it’s nothing he wants to celebrate. His daylight hours are spent working on the sculpture of an angel holding the hand of a little girl. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do with it when it’s done and he doesn’t care. It’s for himself really.

But a pretty new doctor arrives and she’s not frightened of him. She sees his pain and is determined to help him. She’ll find him something worth living for.

I wrote the first five chapters of this story eight years ago and set it aside when I began writing for Sourcebooks. To my surprise, I ran across it recently and decided to finish it. The story of acceptance and compassion needs to be read and so you’ll all be able to in a matter of weeks.

But back to Thurber. Back in 1886, immigrants flooded in from Italy, Germany, Ireland, and many other countries, all looking for work. The Texas and Pacific Coal Company hired all ages–even boys as young as fourteen. This picture of a group of them isn’t very good. I see the look of despair on their faces and want to cry. Immigrants had it so rough and were taken advantage of at every turn.

Once the coal played out, the company turned to manufacturing brick. They paved uncounted streets in our growing state a great many of which are still being used today.

I visited there a couple of times but it’s now a ghost town. Nothing much remains except one restaurant called The Smoke Stack. If you’re ever that way, stop in. The food is excellent. My sister and I visited the cemetery and were struck by the sheer number of children’s graves. I’m not sure what happened to them but it was very sad seeing the little lambs on top of the tombstones. Maybe some kind of epidemic.

The book releases on October 4th, just right around the corner. Preorder now:

Okay, lets talk. When do you start reading Christmas stories? Just during the Christmas season or all year long?

I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one commenter.

I’ll be giving away some copies of this book next month so watch for it.

Also, we’re going to have a Love Train wrap up party on Facebook Thursday, Sept 22, 2022 from 10:00 am (CST) to 7:00 pm (CST)


The schedule in the image is Pacific Time

Writing About Disasters – Galveston Hurricane of 1900

As romance authors, we sometimes intentionally choose moments of historical hardship to write about, but why?


Are we a bunch of heartless people, looking to pull on reader’s heartstrings? Not really (though maybe…) Most of the time, we choose these moments in history for a few reasons:

It’s a good way to spread awareness of things that happened. 

Let’s face it, history, even trying history, can be boring when in textbook form. Reading about floods and hurricanes, dust storms and wars can be easily pushed off as being about “other people” when it’s in the pages of a history book. History books are “just the facts, ma’am” publications and we want them that way. But, if you want people to really think about what people went through, put it in the pages of a fiction novel.

It reminds us of how strong humans really are.

When we write about people, we expect them to be heroes and heroines. Average joes (and janes) come to life on the pages as they rise above and do the impossible. These terrible situations did happen and while there were many bad outcomes for people, good things did happen in the midst of these awful situations. The Lord does provide hope.

When good things happen in the middle of a terrible situation, it make the hardship easier to process (and thus increases our understanding).

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down (or so I’ve heard in a fun little song). That’s why history wrapped within a romance makes learning a little easier. If we only wanted a story about what happened, even fictionalized, we could just watch a docudrama or read regular historical fiction. But when we know there is the hope of a romance within the story, we can open the pages of the book knowing one good thing is going to come out of the book, even if it seems like many bad things could happen to other people.

In my research into the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, I’ve found all of these things to be true. While that particular storm has always fascinated me and I love history books, I haven’t picked up a book dedicated to that storm until recently when I decided to write 2 stories about it. There was so much devastation, so much loss, that I knew I would struggle with it if I couldn’t wrap my own story of hope within all that pain.


These books won’t be coming out for at least a year, but I’m doing the research now. What situations in history interest you but you wouldn’t want to read about them without adding a little hope to the story?

I haven’t done a giveaway in a while so I’ll choose one commenter to receive an ebook copy of To a Brighter Tomorrow. Winner will be chosen tomorrow evening.

Guest Author Amanda Cabot – Did You Know?

Research. Authors tend to be in two camps where it’s concerned: those who love it and those who hate it. I’m firmly in the first category. I love learning new things about the time period and location I’ve chosen for my books, but – and this is a big but – there’s a problem. All too often I uncover tidbits that I find fascinating but that won’t fit into my stories. Since I hate to have them languish in my research folder, I thought I’d share ten of them with you today.

The first five come from The Texans, part of Time-Life’s The Old West series. 

  1. Although there’s no denying Stephen Austin’s importance in Texas history, colonizing the area wasn’t his dream. It was his father, Moses’s. In fact, Stephen was less than enthusiastic about the idea. But when Stephen learned that his father’s dying wish was that he ensure that Moses’s plans for Texas were realized, the dutiful son agreed. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.


  1. One of the terms of the land grant Austin (Stephen, that is) received was that he’d bring 300 families to settle on that land. Though he’d expected that to be relatively easy to accomplish, he was only able to recruit 297. No one seemed too distressed by that breach of contract, and those families were soon referred to as the Old Three Hundred.


  1. The Mexican government had two stipulations for land ownership: settlers must become both Mexican citizens and Roman Catholics. Since most of the immigrants were Protestants, it was generally understood that Catholic rites would not be strictly enforced.


  1. Because not all communities had priests, couples who wanted to marry but didn’t want to wait for the priest to reach their town would often have a civil ceremony. That ceremony included signing a bond that they’d have their marriage confirmed by a priest as soon as possible. In theory, the bond was legally enforceable, but unhappy couples who wanted to dissolve their marriage simply destroyed the bond and declared themselves once more single.


  1. Speaking of marriage, Sam Houston, another legendary figure in early Texas history, had a disastrous one. Within three months of marrying the much younger Eliza Allen in 1829, they were separated, perhaps because of his drunkenness. Fortunately for him, when he married again in 1840, also to a considerably younger woman, the marriage was a longer and presumably happier one that resulted in eight children.


My second source of tidbits is T.R. Fehrenbach’s Lone Star.

  1. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the term hidalgo, but did you know that it’s derived from the old Spanish term Fijo d’Algo, meaning “son of someone important”?


  1. When Texas became a state, its constitution included some unusual (at least for the time) provisions. (1) No minister could serve in the legislature. (2) Married women were guaranteed property rights. (3) Private households were exempt from foreclosure. (4) Banks could not incorporate.


  1. In 1838 Texas became the first part of America to enact homestead legislation.


  1. Immigrants, particularly from Europe, formed a large part of the population. In fact, by 1850 European – mostly German – immigrants outnumbered Mexicans and Anglos in San Antonio.


  1. Among the immigrants who settled in the Hill Country were a number of intellectuals who formed utopian colonies referred to as “Latin Colonies” because they conducted weekly meetings where they discussed topics ranging from politics to literature to music in Latin. While there was no doubting the founders’ education, their lack of farming experience led to a predictable decline in the towns’ fortunes.


And there you have it: ten tidbits that intrigued me. Were you surprised by any of them? Which did you find the most interesting? Can you envision a story with one of these as its basis? If so, which?

Amanda is graciously giving away a print copy of The Spark of love to one lucky commenter.


The Spark of Love



Buying Links



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Christian Book Distributors


She’s determined to start a new life in the West . . . if only the old one will leave her alone


When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra carves out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach.


But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler.


With so much to lose—and hide from one another—Alexandra and Gabe will have to come together if they are ever to discover whether  the sparks they’ve felt from the beginning can kindle the fire of true love.



Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than forty books and a variety of novellas. Her books have been honored with a starred review from Publishers Weekly and have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best.



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What Exactly is a Maverick? Are You One?

I know you’ve all heard of the word Maverick. Politicians are fond of saying they’re one.

What does the term that was first used in 1867 mean? Independent minded happens to be the definition.

But do you know the origin?

I didn’t until I recently got an Electric Co-Op magazine out of my mailbox and read about Texan Samuel Maverick.


Wouldn’t you know he’d be from Texas? Seems we gave the world just a little bit of history.  🙂

Anyway….Samuel Maverick (1803-1870) was a lawyer, politician, land baron, and a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He was at the Alamo with the defenders but slipped out the day before it fell in a desperate bid to find reinforcements. Of course, we know what happened.

And when General Santa Anna again sent troops back into Texas six years later to try to retake it, Samuel and sixty others was captured and forced to march by foot down to Veracruz, Mexico. He was kept chained and given little food. Although he was offered his freedom several times in exchange for publicly stating that Texas belonged to Mexico, he refused. They finally released him and he returned to Texas, bringing his chains with him.

He served twice as mayor of San Antonio and several terms in the Texas House of Representatives, once opposing Sam Houston over a bill and won. He amassed land holdings amounting to something like 110,000 acres.

But the Maverick term came from refusal to brand his cattle, claiming that it was cruel and inflicted pain. Thus, any unbranded cow became known as a maverick. Because of his staunch refusal to brand, he couldn’t protect his herd from thieves, including his neighbors, and they stole from him left and right until he lost almost all of them. He died in 1870 at the age of 67… a stubborn maverick to the end.

Do any mavericks come to mind? Senator John McCain was known for being one. I’m giving away an e-copy of The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas to one lucky commenter.


As you know, we have Cowboys and Mistletoe coming up November 29 to December 2! There’s a ton of $10 gift cards to be had AND a Grand Prize of $120!! Everyone please come and play our Mad Lib game! It’ll be so much fun. AND you have lots of chances to win!! So mark your calendars and come over each of the four days to increase your odds of winning.

Texas Ranger Museum

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Waco with my daughter was visiting the Texas Ranger Museum. If you love westerns, this is the place to go. The guns alone were spectacular. I don’t own guns, nor do I like them outside of my stories, but seeing these centuries-old weapons in pristine condition was a researcher’s dream. I especially loved seeing the guns I’ve described in my stories close-up.
Reading the stories of the early Rangers and their amazing bravery and skill made me feel like Matthew Hanger and his Horsemen would’ve felt right at home.
The most interesting tidbit I learned was that most 19th century Rangers did not wear badges. The state did not provide them, so a Ranger would have to purchase his own. Instead, a Ranger carried his credentials in paper form – A Warrant of Authority and Descriptive List. It provided proof of his authority along with a physical description. I couldn’t help but wonder what could have happened if a Ranger’s credentials were stolen. Especially if he were killed and unable to report it. Could make for an interesting plot twist in a book someday.
Scattered throughout the museum were a collection of small bronze statues depicting western scenes and lawmen. I loved these! I snapped pictures of three of my favorites. The first is a Texas Ranger standing proud and ready to do battle. The second made me smile. It’s titled Free Legal Advice and it shows a man on horseback stopping to jaw with a professional man in a buggy. The third is my favorite. Nothing touches my heart more than a tough man holding a baby. In this statue titles Compassion, a man in buckskin cradles an infant. It makes my mind whirl with story possibilities. And reminds me a bit of my upcoming story The Heart’s Charge, where two of my Horsemen find a newborn and have to deliver her on horseback to a foundling home several miles away.
Me with my dangerous finger pistols posing with a hero of the west.

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.

Visiting this hall of fame made me think of all the old westerns I would watch growing up. Especially shows like the Rifleman. But it also made me think of the two most famous fictional ranger heroes.
If you had to pick one favorite fictional ranger, which would you choose?

A Little History, a Margarita Recipe, and a Giveaway!

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

2  limes

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!

Historical Figure John Larn and a Giveaway!

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: