Dancing! Oh yes! I love it! I put dancing throughout my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series and it’s all the real-life outlaw gunslinger Clay Allison’s fault! They say he suffered a head wound during the Civil War and it left him with a terrible temper. Maybe so. His epitaph reads that he didn’t kill anyone that didn’t need it and it is a well-known fact that he put a lot of men six feet under.
But strangely, Clay loved to dance—a lot. He owned a ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico and always kept a violin player on his payroll.
I first put Clay Allison in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy as Houston Legend’s drover and my editor liked him so much she wanted me to give him his own book. I thought it best to make him fictional so I changed his last name to Colby. Book #1 of Outlaw Mail Order Brides—The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride—is about Clay Colby.
Clay and some of his friends are tired of running and want to settle down so they decide to carve a town from their hideout. Next came populating it so they send for mail order brides.
Since Clay has been writing a wanted woman in hiding, Tally Shannon, he asks her to marry him so she travels to Hope’s Crossing. She agrees.
Oddly, Clay makes sure one his fellow outlaws is a fiddle player and they have a dance each night after supper, waltzing over the uneven ground under the stars. And that’s how he and Tally get acquainted. It worked.
My town has the dancing-est outlaws you ever met. It keeps ’em out of trouble. (Psst, not really)
I’ve always loved to watch dancers, but I didn’t know how until around the age of 30. I was married and three kids underfoot when I took classes at the local college for ballroom dancing. I learned the foxtrot, tango, the waltz, and then the teacher threw in the two-step.
It opened up a whole new world and I loved it. The only problem was my husband didn’t dance and had no desire at all to learn so I was forced again to sit on the sidelines.
Occasionally one of male customers would ask me, but then we stopped going to those places altogether, and sadly, I lost what I’d learned.
I still love to watch dancing couples though. And I love the show Dancing With the Stars, living vicariously through them. Sometimes, I even get out of my chair and do the steps. You’d die laughing.
Dancing has been in our culture probably since the beginning of time. The earliest proof was found in 9,000 year old cave drawings. I’m astounded.
Some of the dances had such names as the Quadrille, the Minuet, the Polka, the Waltz, and many others. Rock and Roll brought many, many more dances like the Lindy Hop, the Twist, the Jitterbug, etc. This didn’t involve a partner so I jumped right in and loved twisting and gyrating and making a fool of myself.
Tell me the first person you ever danced with and the type of dance it was. I’m giving away The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride to three people who leave a comment.
He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter…
I’m happy to announce that my new book has just been released! This is book three in my Haywire Brides series, but each book stands alone.
I’m giving away a book today to one of you. So be sure to leave a comment!
Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero…and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation.
Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the Ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims…even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.
Ellie-May has lived all her life in the shadow of her outlaw father. Do you think a parent’s reputation has the same impact today as it did in the 1800s?
Writing a series about outlaws has opened my eyes a bit concerning the oddities I sometimes find hidden way back in history. It’s been fun and very interesting.
Sometimes teens in the old West, just as today, had some wild oats to sow. Yet, you never think about girls doing it back in the 1880s. Yet, this one became famous for it.
Rose Ella Dunn was born Sept. 5, 1878 in Indian Territory at Ingalls, Oklahoma. She was the only girl among five brothers. That was probably the problem right there. They taught her to ride, rope, and shoot. The boys had formed their own outlaw gang by the time she was just twelve years old. I’m not sure what their parents must’ve thought of that.
A few years passed and when she was fourteen or fifteen, her brothers introduced her to outlaw George “Bittercreek” Newcomb.
The striking beauty with a kind demeanor became very infatuated and Bittercreek called her his Rose of Cimarron. Bittercreek was a member of the Doolin/Dalton gang and they were extremely protective of her.
Rose would go into town for supplies and whatever the gang needed, plus bring back news. It was a good system.
For some reason, maybe they got religion or something, her brothers disbanded their gang and started bounty hunting. Knowing most of the gangs and how they operated, they had quite a bit of success. I’m sure the brothers switching horses mid-stream must’ve made everyone on the lawless side just a tad bit nervous.
On September 1, 1893, the gang was in the saloon in Ingalls, Oklahoma when they found themselves surrounded by a posse of U.S. marshals. A hail of bullets rained down on them. The outlaws exchanged fire and made a run for it.
Bittercreek was struck down in the street but managed to pull himself to cover. Rose watched it all from a nearby hotel, filled with horror. She ran to him with two belts of ammunition and a Winchester rifle and hunkered down next to him.
Rose fired the Winchester at the marshals while Bittercreek loaded his revolvers. Finally, he was able to escape.
Three deputy marshals lay dead. On the gang side, several were badly shot up. Rose hid out with them, nursing them back to health.
By 1895 Bittercreek had a $5,000 bounty on his head and was wanted DEAD OR ALIVE. That caught the attention of her brothers. Loyalty didn’t amount to much when that much money was involved.
The next time they came to visit at the house, the brothers were waiting. They shot Bittercreek and the outlaw with him as they dismounted, killing them both.
Rose was never prosecuted for her involvement with the gang and her life of crime ended. She married a local politician until her death at the age of 76. I could find no record of any children.
So, was she just a rebellious teenager innocently caught up in something over her head? Or was she truly an outlaw and in it all the way? Have you ever been caught up in something you really wanted no part of and then couldn’t figure a way out?
I’m giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards in a drawing on Sunday.
Color is all around us and writers use a lot of color in telling a story. Readers visualize the characters knowing the color of their eyes, hair, and clothes. Animals, landscape, foods–it’s impossible to write a story without using the various shades and hues.
There’s a reason why hospitals use a lot of blue, churches employ white, firetrucks are red, and nobility wear purple.
Here’s a little of what I discovered:
WHITE – purity, innocence, and wisdom. i.e. angels
BLACK – negativity and judgment
RED – energy, vigor, power, strength
PINK – love and compassion
PURPLE – royalty, blending of mind and spirit, uplifts
BLUE – prime healing color, relaxation, sleep, peace
BROWN – the earth, commitment
GREEN – balance and harmony, sensitivity, abundance
YELLOW – the emotional self, cleansing, creativity
ORANGE – cheerful and uplifting, warmth
TURQUOISE – brotherhood, friendly, the color of the freed soul
* * * * *
My new book – THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET – will release on Jan. 28th. This is Book 3 of my Outlaw Mail Order Bride series and tells Tait Trinity’s and Melanie Dunbar’s story.
Melanie has turquoise (green/blue) eyes and Tait describes them as the color of ancient stones. His eyes are an icy gray, the color of quicksilver. Her hair is red and his sun-streaked brown. Color says a lot about these two.
Tait is an outlaw and has a large bounty on his head for a string of train robberies so when his sister’s twin boys and four-year-old daughter appear on his doorstep, he’s totally unprepared for the responsibility. The last thing he needs are children to raise, yet he can’t let them go to an orphanage. His friends advise him to send for the mail order bride he’s been writing, but when she arrives, she’s nothing like what he expects.
Melanie is thrown as well to see there are kids involved. She lets him know right off that she’s not going to be his nanny, housekeeper, laundress, or cook while he rides out and stays gone for weeks or months at a time. Wife is the role she’s agreed to, but she comes with secrets—big juicy ones.
How long will it be before Tait figures out her true reason for marrying him? And he does.
I hope you give this book a try. The children provide ample humor and the ending is the most powerful I’ve ever written. The old western series Paradise provided a lot of inspiration. Book 4 will release the end of the year and complete the series with Ridge Steele and Addie Jancy.
Question: How does color affect your life? Do you have a favorite and why?
Giveaway: Two people who comment will win a copy (their choice of format.)
The past several weeks, I’ve been working on a new book in my Baker City Brides series which is set in the 1890s in Baker City, Oregon.
The town got its start from gold mines in the area back in the 1860s. The gold played out, or so people thought, then enjoyed another boom around 1890.
The story, titled Dumplings and Dynamite, takes place for the most part at a mining camp.
This is a photo of the E&E Mine out of Baker City. It appears much as I envision the mine where my story takes place.
I’m fascinated with the mill buildings that sprung up against the hillsides at mines like this one – the Golden Gate Mine near what once was called Greenhorn City.
It’s hard for me to envision what it was like working in a mine because I wouldn’t have lasted a day. Probably not even an hour. I don’t like dark, enclosed spaces. At all. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to get up day after day and spend hour after hour in the bowels of a mountain digging out some other man’s fortune.
The image above shows mine workers from the Bonanza Mine (one of the most successful of its time) near Baker City.The men are wielding “single jacks,” four-pound hammers, and steel drills. For light, the miners had candles on a wire stuck in a crack in the wall.
In my story, the hero is working as a powder monkey (a new term I learned in my research), also known as the brave individuals who worked with the explosives at a mine. The powder monkeys, or powdermen, were in charge of rotating the explosives to ensure older explosives were used first, ordering explosives, transportation of explosives, and keeping up the area where the explosives were stored. And in my story, he also sets off the charges, although, in reality, this job was often left to the miners who were digging out the ore.
It was while I was trying to dig up research on dynamite usage in the early 1890s that I happened across an interesting story. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s fun reading, anyway. The source is from Richard Dillon’s book Shanghaiing Days. New York: Coward, 1961.
According to the story, a young man named George Banks had a job working on the portage railroad at Cascade Locks, Oregon. It was the mid-1890s and shanghaiing was a rampant sport at the docks in Portland. In fact, it was a known fact the port was one of the worst places in the world to be kidnapped around that time.
One day, George (known as a confident, upright, rock-solid fellow) was in Portland picking up a load of freight and he missed his returning sailing on the riverboat. Stuck on the wharf with crates of merchandise for work, he didn’t want to have to wait for morning to leave.
A few friendly fellows approached George and offered to help him out. They made a deal for George to pay them for transporting him and his crates, and the men soon returned with a boat. The men helped George load his crates and they cast off, heading the wrong direction. At first, George merely puzzled over what they were doing. Then one of the men explained to him he was a sailor now and they were taking him to their ship where he’d be stuck working for them as little more than a free laborer.
George took exception to this plan.
“You ain’t gonna shanghai me,” George informed his kidnappers, reaching into his pocket. “I’ll blow you to hell first.”
His hand came out full of blasting caps.
All those crates the men had loaded were full of dynamite and George had the nickname among his friends as the “Dynamite Kid.”
Needless to say, the boat turned around and took George where he wanted to go. After he unloaded his cargo, he paid the men as he’d originally agreed to do, then went about his work.
I think I would have liked to have met George. Talk about pluck and determination!
Although I’m not quite ready to do a cover reveal of Dumplings and Dynamite, I will share a little excerpt with you today:
Seth gathered an armload of wood and carried it inside the cookshack where mouth-watering aromas filled the air.
Long tables and benches filled the room. Through a doorway, he could see a woman and the two younger boys he’d noticed earlier scurrying around the kitchen, scooping food into bowls and dishing it onto platters.
“Need some wood?” Seth asked as he walked through the doorway.
The woman glanced up at him in surprise, but quickly recovered. She waggled a gravy-coated spoon in the direction of the wood box then went back to scraping gravy into a large bowl.
“I’m Seth. Mr. Gilford just hired me,” he said after he dumped the wood he carried into the box by the stove. He stuffed his hands in his pockets to keep from snatching a golden flapjack off a platter one of the boys carried out to the table.
“I’m Mrs. Parrish, the cook,” she said, not meeting his gaze as she handed the gravy bowl to a boy then picked up two platters full of bacon.
“Allow me,” Seth said, taking the platters from her. The woman might have been twenty or fifty. From her stringy hair, rumpled dress, and bedraggled petticoat hanging an inch below her skirt hem, she looked rather unkempt, but she smelled clean and her eyes were bright.
In fact, they were an unusual shade somewhere between gray and green that made him think of the sagebrush that grew so prevalent to the south and east of Baker City. In spite of circles beneath her eyes and smudges of flour on her cheeks, her skin was smooth, without the wrinkles age brings, and dusted with a generous helping of freckles.
He glimpsed her hands. Although rough and red from hard work, they looked young, almost delicate.
Yet, the woman moved slightly humped over with the hint of a limp and when she smiled at him, he couldn’t miss the absence of her two front teeth. He stepped back and followed the boys out to the dining area, setting the platters on the table. Something about the woman bothered him and it had nothing to do with the lack of teeth. If he was a gambling man, he’d bet she was hiding something. He had a feeling Mrs. Parrish was not at all what she seemed.
You’ve probably never heard of Pearl Hart, but she committed one of the last
stage robberies in the Old West. Pearl was born in Lindsay, Ontario, to
affluent and religious parents, who afforded her with the best education
available. She was enrolled in boarding school at the age of sixteen, where
she met her future husband, who seemed to have various first names, but
most often was referred to as Frederick Hart.
Unknown photographer (Historian Insight)
[Public domain]via Wikimedia Commons
Frederick Hart was known to be a drunkard and gambler. Pearl eloped with
Hart, but quickly learned he was abusive, so she returned to her mother’s
home. They reunited and separated several times, resulting in two children,
which Pearl left with her mother.
Pearl’s husband worked a stint at the Chicago World’s Fair, where Pearl
developed a fascination with the cowboy lifestyle while watching Buffalo Bill’s
Wild West Show. After the fair, the couple moved to Colorado. Hart described
this time in her life: “I was only twenty-two years old. I was good-looking,
desperate, discouraged, and ready for anything that might come. I do not care
to dwell on this period of my life. It is sufficient to say that I went from one city
to another until sometime later I arrived in Phoenix.” During this time Pearl
worked as a cook and singer. There are also reports that she developed a
fondness for cigars, liquor, and morphine during this time.
Hart ran into her husband again, and they lived in Tucson for a time. But
things went badly, and the abused started again. When the Spanish-American
War broke out, Mr. Hart signed up. Pearl shocked observers by declaring that
she hoped he would be killed by the Spanish.
Pearl resided in the town of Mammoth, Arizona in early 1898. Some reports
say she was working as a cook in a boardinghouse. Others say she operated
a tent brothel near the local mine. While she did well for a time, the mine
eventually closed, and her financial status took a nosedive. About this time
she received a message asking her to return home to her seriously ill mother.
Hart had an acquaintance known as “Joe Boot” (most likely an alias), who
worked at a mining claim he owned. When the mine didn’t yield gold, Hart and
Boot decided to rob the stagecoach that traveled between Globe and
Florence, Arizona. The robbery occurred on May 30, 1899, at a watering point
near Cane Springs Canyon, about 30 miles southeast of Globe. Pearl had cut
her hair short and dressed in men’s clothing, and she was armed with a .38
The trio stopped the coach, and Boot held a gun on the robbery victims while
Hart took $431.20 and two firearms from the passengers. Reports say Pearl
returned $1 to each passenger to aid them in getting home. Less than a week
later, a sheriff caught up to them and both were put in jail. Boot was held in
Florence while Hart was moved to Tucson since the jail lacked facilities for a
The room Hart was held in was not a normal jail cell but rather made of lath
and plaster. Taking advantage of the relatively weak material, Hart escaped
on October 12, 1899. She left behind an 18-inch hole in the wall. Just two
weeks later, she was recaptured near Deming, New Mexico. After their trials,
both Hart and Boot were sent to Yuma Territorial Prison to serve their
In December 1902, Pearl received a pardon from Arizona Territorial Governor
Alexander Brodie. After she left prison, Hart disappeared from public view for
the most part. She had a short-lived show where she re-enacted her crime
and then spoke about the horrors of Yuma Territorial Prison. Tales from Gila
County claim that Hart returned to Globe and lived there peacefully until her
death on December 30, 1955, other reports place her death as late as 1960.
Hart’s exploits have been popular in western pulp fiction. The musical The
Legend of Pearl Hart was based upon Hart’s life, and her adventures are
mentioned in the early 1900s film Yuma City. Pearl Hart was the subject of an
episode of Tales of Wells Fargo that aired on May 9, 1960, played by Beverly
Garland. She was also the subject of a Death Valley Days episode from
March 17, 1964, titled “The Last Stagecoach Robbery”, with Anne Frances
playing the part of Pearl.
The Lady and the Lawman:
4 Historical Stories of Lawmen and the Ladies Who Love Them
My novella in Lady and the Lawman collection:
On Track for Love by Vickie McDonough
A new job and a move to a new state put Railroad Agent Landry Lomax on track to meet Cara Dixon—a spirited woman holding a derringer on a train robber. This stubborn woman is not one he wants around his young sister, but then they end up in the same St. Louis boardinghouse. But could Cara’s gumption help him trap a gang of train robbers?
Vickie will give away one print copy of Lady and the Lawman to a US winner. To enter for a chance to win the book, please answer this question:
Would you have been an outlaw or a lawman?
About Vickie McDonough:
Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead, she married a sweet computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is a best-selling author of more than 50 published books and novellas, with over 1.5 million copies sold.
“With shelves of books behind him, Clyde David Robert III settled in his library chair … he grabbed the rolled up paper [inside his desk] from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.
“Spreading out the gold sheet, he examined it once more along with the agency’s guarantee of finding his daughter. The document was dated March 21, 1896. Where was she? How could his daughter have escaped without detection?”
-An excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s recent release, The Heiress Comes to Town.
Slipping out of her father’s New York mansion on her wedding day, Nina Robert . . . leavesher luxurious life to settle on the Plainswhere she discovers romance, but all could end with her father’s hiring of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to find her and enable him to fulfill his arranged marriage contract.
The Pinkerton Detective Agency
Motto: We Never Sleep
Formation and Prominence
The private-eye detective business began with the formation of the Pinkerton Detective Agency by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.
But they did not become famous until credited with foiling a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln, as he was to take the reins of his first term.
How did the Pinkerton Agency claim to do this? With the help of the first female detective hire, Kate Warne, a widow, this woman and other agents arranged for President-elect Lincoln to board an overnight train hours before he was publicly scheduled to appear.
Abraham Lincoln posed as Warne’s invalid brother, and agency’s operatives cut telegraph lines, so Southern sympathizers could not communicate with one another.
The Civil War
The detective agency continued to make its mark during the Civil War with its enemy spy rings of Southern sympathizers in the North. The operation did not always go well.
One such misstep was in the 1862s during the Peninsula Campaign when spy intelligent agents reported Confederate forces around Richmond were more than twice as large as their actual number.
The result was General George B. McClellan delayed the Union’s advance in part due to his request for more troops. But the intelligence was wrong since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was in fact much bigger than the Confederates.
Wild West Bounty Hunters
The Reno Gang
The Pinkerton Agency often was employed to chase after Wild West bandits, which began with the Reno gang of John and Simeon Reno holding up an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County Indiana. What was different about their holdup?
A booty of $13,000 and no detection since they committed their crime on a moving train – the first such type train robbery – while traveling in a sparsely populated area. However, the Pinkerton agents often get their man, and they did the same to the Reno gang by infiltrating it.
Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch
Remember Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch? Well, the Pinkerton detectives chased after them, too.
Jesse James and his Gang: A Pinkerton Failure
The pursuit of bank robbers, Jesse and Frank James, by the Pinkerton agents started in the 1870s.
One detective attempted to infiltrate the Missouri-based gang but was exposed and then murdered. Then two more agents died in a shootout.
If this was not bad enough, the hunt for the James brothers ended in 1876 during a raid on his mother’s home. The famous brothers had been tipped off and had left the premises.
The Pinkertons questioned James’ mother. An argument pursued. During the standoff, a posse member tossed an incendiary device through a window, which blew off part of her arm and killed James’ 8-year-old half brother.
Journalists portrayed the Pinkerton agents as murderers. Humiliated by their depiction of his detectives and the public outrage, Allen Pinkerton stopped pursuing the James gang. Thus Jesse James was able to continue his havoc for seven more years until 1882 when an assassin’s bullet killed him.
Larger than the United States Army
In the 1890s, the agency grew until it had 2,000 detectives and 30,000 reserves. This was larger than the United States Army at the time.
The Agency Exists Today
It operates today as Pinkerton and is a private security and guard service.
*Janet Syas Nitsick is offering a signed paperback copy of The Heiress Comes to Town, a Christian, historical, page-turner mystery and clean romance to one person picked at random from those who leave a comment today.
The Heiress Comes to Town
by Janet Syas Nitsick is on Nook, Kobo, iBooks.
Click here for the Kindle and paperback link on Amazon:
Janet Syas Nitsick
Shy, natural redhead Janet Syas Nitsick’s writing passion began as a child when she wrote a neighborhood play at 10-years-old. In 2010 Janet’s story, “The Silver Lining,” placed 10th in the Writer’s Digest mainstream/literary competition.
Janet writes suspenseful, clean, Christian, historical, homespun-romantic tales set in Nebraska. She is married and has four sons – two with autism. Her late father, Nebraska State Sen. George Syas, served 26 years in the Unicameral.
In July of 2011, while on our booksigning tour for the anthology Give Me a Texas Outlaw, fellow author Linda Broday and I had the opportunity to not only visit Liberal, Kansas, where we got a lot of insight into their old west and legends, but we also visited the Dalton Gang Hideout at Meade, Kansas.
We visited the former home of Eva Dalton Whipple, sister to the infamous Dalton Gang, as well as Linda being arrested by the town’s sheriff and locked up in an original jail cell of the 1800’s. We were honored to be able to witness a true old west shoot out, as well as travel through the underground tunnel between Mrs. Whipple’s house and the barn below the hill where Frank, Bob and Grat Dalton used to hideout.
But one of the most interesting things I personally discovered was taken from The Journal; The Official City Newspaper of Coffeyville, Kansas, dated Friday,::October 7, 1892. I’m using the exact punctuation original to the article. The account was authored by Jack Long for this edition of The Journal.
It was a beautiful morning Oct. 5, 1892, and Jim Boothby and I were going up town from the Santa Fe depot. We had just got in front of McLeese and Lewark’s livery barn when Jesse Morgan came around the corner of Eighth and Union shaking his umbrella and shouting, “They’re robbing the banks.”
Boothby and I walked on to the First National Bank, where I leaned against a railing in front of the plate glass window and looked across the street at the Condon bank. Boothby peeked in the First National bank door. Emmett Dalton saw him and hollered, “Get in here you SOB.”
In a moment, Emmett Dalton punched his gun against the window and said, “Get away from here, son before you get hurt”. I stooped down, looked under the curtain and saw four men inside, J.B. Brewster, Abe Knotts, Jim Boothby, and another man I didn’t know, standing with their hands in the air.
I took Dalton at his word and stepped over in front of Rammel Brothers drug store. George Cubine came up and stood beside me, holding a short Winchester. About that time, the Daltons started out of the bank. George shot, and they turned around and went out the back door of the bank. I walked to the back of the drug store and stood on a platform to watch them. They saw me but didn’t shoot because I had no gun.
They went on to the alley, where Lucius Baldwin was standing by the corner of a barn with a pistol in his hand. I heard Bob Dalton tell him two or three times. “Boy, throw that gun down—I don’t want to hurt you.” But Baldwin stood there like he was froze, and Bob shot him.
The Daltons rode north then to Eighth street, and I ran back through the drug store. Cubine was still in front with his short rifle. I told him, “George, they’re coming this way.” Just then a shot rang out, and Bob Dalton hit a shotgun in the hands of Charles Gump. Gump ran in the Isham hardware store.
By that time, the Daltons had reached Union street. Cubine was standing on my left with the rifle when Bob shot him. He fell on the sidewalk in front of me. Just after he fell, Charles J. Brown, an old shoemaker ran up and picked up Cubine’s gun. He no more than straightened up when Bob shot him. He fell across Cubine.
This seemed like a hot spot, so I stepped back in the drug store. Bob’s rifle cracked again, but the bullet hit the door behind me. The bullet hole is still in the door.
Thomas G. Ayers, cashier of the First National Bank, came running into Isham’s store to get a gun. He came to the north door of the store and was looking through a horse collar that was hanging there for a sign. Bob saw his face peering through the collar and shoot him through the jaw.
I could see the Condon bank, and everybody was shooting at it. While the shooting was going on, Jack Broadwell, one of the Dalton gang, came out of the bank. He walked back and forth in front of the bank for a while, looking in all directions. Broadwell was sure a wild looking human, and I heard he was just as wild as he looked.
After things quieted down a little, I went across the street, where I met Frank Skinner and Pat Boswell. We were the first men on the street. We stumbled over a sack, which Pat kicked and said, “They even brought their horse feed with them.”
Then along came H W. Read, president of the bank, to pick up the sack of what Pat, Frank, and I thought was feed. The sack contained $90,000. Read picked it up and took it back to the bank.
I knew Bob and Emmett. After Emmett got out of jail, I met him in Bartlesville on the day he was married. I asked him why Bob shot at me, and he said Bob thought I picked up the gun and stepped in the store.”
I could have continued to research the Dalton Gang and mixed fact with fiction to come up with a story, but nothing could be any better than a firsthand account of a piece of history. I deliberately used the spelling and punctuation of the era.
As hard as I tried, I was unable to find out anything on the original writer, Jack Long, but the editor wrote, “The following account of the Dalton raid as remembered by Jack Long, was written by Long especially for this edition of The Journal. Therefore, full credit for the newspaper account is given to Mr. Long.
As quoted from the newspaper … DALTON! The Robber Gang Meet Their Waterloo in Coffeyville.
Where is the most interesting historical place you have every visited?
To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I will send you a copy of Give Me a Texas Outlaw signed by all four authors.
In April, I’m attending an arts workshop, including authors, in Canadian, in the Texas Panhandle. You can’t think about this part of Texas without giving a great deal of thought to one of our pioneers, Captain George Washington Arrington, who was also one of the first Texas Rangers. His ranch is now an historical site with a Bed and Breakfast. I’m hoping to take a tour while we’re there.
“Cap”, as he was known, was not just a lawman, rancher, spy for the Confederacy, and Texas Ranger, but also a murderer.
Arrington was born in Alabama under the name of John C. Orrick, Jr., and at the age of sixteen enlisted in the Confederate Army. But, in 1867 he murdered a businessman in his hometown; and after a while, he moved to Texas and changed his name to Arrington to escape his troubled past. He did many things during his lifetime; worked on the railroad, at a commission house, and farmed in Collin County, Texas, which led him to get hired on to be a drover in cattle drives. That seemingly changed his life.
In 1875 he enlisted in Company E of the newly organized Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers, where he excelled and after only two years was promoted to Captain of Company C because of his accomplishments of tracking down fugitives and outlaws. In 1879, his Company was moved to the Texas Panhandle to investigate depredations at area ranches. He eventually established the first Ranger Camp in the Panhandle.
After breaking up a major rustling ring, he left the Rangers and became the sheriff of “the mother city of the Panhandle”, Mobeetie, a wild and woolly town with a reputation for fast gunplay, sporting women and quick-dealing gamblers.
Although, Capt. Arrington had dealt with hostiles and outlaws, and had even murdered a man, he couldn’t deal with card sharks, cattle rustlers and ladies of the evening. But, the best thing about him living in Mobeetie was meeting and marrying Sara Burnette. Out of that union came ten children. The first two were born in the Old Mobeetie Jail, where part of the two-story structure was used as a resident.
After Arrington left his office as Sheriff, he managed the Rocking Chair Ranch, until it was sold to a large conglomerate. Involved in the civic affairs of Canadian and helping to establish their first rural school, Cap purchased his own ranch.
The Arrington Ranch Headquarters, which still stands today, is located south of Canadian adjacent to the Washita River. The house was ordered from the Van Tein catalog, delivered by railroad, moved pieces at a time by wagon for the first ten miles, and set up on the prairie in 1919. The building site was well chosen; sweeping vistas offer unobstructed sunsets and sunrises across the grassland.
Captain Arrington was definitely a self-made man of his era, harsh but fair. He was rarely seen without his sidearm, fully aware of the long list of enemies made during his tenure as a lawman. If the Captain wasn’t wearing a six-shooter, he had one within easy reach.
In his later years, he suffered from arthritis and made frequent train trips to Mineral Wells for their hot baths. In 1923, on one of these trips, he had a heart attack. He returned to his beloved Canadian where he died on March 31, 1923. He and his wife are both buried in the Old Mobeetie cemetery.
The Arrington Ranch House Lodge is alive and well owned by 5th generation Arrington, who have worked hard to keep Captain George Washington Arrington’s name alive and well in the Texas Panhandle.
Have you ever spent time in an historical home or building? How did it make you feel?
To one reader who leaves me a comment, I will give them an autographed copy of my latest Kasota Spring Romance Out of a Texas Night.
I don’t know if this happens to other writers, but I’ve had some strange things happen during the writing of a book. I once turned a manuscript into my editor at the same time another writer turned in hers. Oddly, enough, our protagonists shared the same first names and professions. There were also many other similarities throughout our manuscripts, and all had to be changed.
Another time I was hiking a trail in Mammoth when I met a geologist who was the spitting image of the geologist hero in the book I was working on. Even weirder, his first name was Damian and I’d named my hero Damon. Close enough, right?
But the strangest thing that happened occurred recently. I’d been toying with the idea of taking a DNA Ancestry test for quite some time, so my daughter decided to gift me with one for Christmas. The results were pretty much what I expected, with one surprise. It turns out that the outlaw Jesse James and I share a common ancestor.
The timing was especially weird since Jesse James plays a part in the book I’m currently working on. Come to think of it, it’s not the first time Jesse James has popped up in one of my books, and I can’t count how many blogs I’ve written about the outlaw.
That’s because Jesse is a fun person to write about. Not only was he controversial, he had both a light and dark side. The son of a Baptist minister, he was known to pass out press releases to witnesses at his holdups and had no qualms about exaggerating his height. He might also be the only person on record who took a gang on his honeymoon. I don’t know what his bride did while he and his gang robbed a stage. Maybe she went shopping.
Jesse James lived for only thirty-four years, but there was never a dull moment. He was a Confederate guerrilla, was shot in the chest on two separate occasions and once overdosed on morphine. He also claimed to have murdered seventeen people.
Jesse went by many aliases, but his nickname was Dingus because he shot off the tip of his finger while cleaning his pistol. He wrote glowing articles about his gang, saying that they robbed the rich and gave to the poor, though all indications are that they kept the spoils to themselves.
Far as I know, he was also the first person to prove that housework can kill. While tidying up his house, he was fatally shot by his new hire Bob Ford in the back of the head.
I can’t tell you what it was about Jesse James that first caught my interest. I can’t even tell you why this writer, who’s allergic to horses, writes Westerns. All I can say, is that it must be in my DNA.
Have any of you had your DNA tested? If so, were there any surprises that you’re willing to share