Women Earning a Living in the 19th Century from Charlene Raddon

A big welcome to Charlene Raddon who is joining us today to talk about jobs women could have in the 1800s.

Women in the 1800s could not make contracts, own property or vote. A woman was seen as a servant to her husband. However, by the 1830s and 1840, that began to change when they started to champion social reforms of prisons, war, alcohol, and slavery. But life remained difficult for them. Jobs were scarce and often unbearable. 

In 1841, the census included occupations and provided some of the best information about working women, but it was more accurate for men. Women’s work was often part-time, casual, and not regarded as important enough to declare. 

It might have been illegal (as with prostitution) or performed in unregulated sweatshops (a further reason for failure to record). Women may have preferred their husbands not know they earned any income. They could earn small amounts at home by sewing, mending, knitting, canning, spinning, lacemaking, quilting, and even box-making. 

Female employment in the 1850s, 60s, and 70s appears to have been higher than any recorded until after World War II. Family budget evidence suggests that around 30-40 percent of women from working-class families contributed significantly to household incomes in the mid-Victorian years. This might have been even higher during the Industrial Revolution decades, before the rise of State and trade union policies regulating female labor and the promotion of the male as the ideal breadwinner. After the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. some women worked in factories, sometimes with their children. In 1840, 10% of women had jobs outside the home, and by 1850 that number increased to 15%. 

Domestic service was the largest employer for women, closely followed by work in clothing and textiles. Other jobs included confectioner, brewer, seamstress, laundress, maid, housekeeper, waitress, midwife, gardener, dressmaker, charwoman, clerk, and innkeeper. In some areas, they worked in mines alongside children, dirty, unhealthy, miserable labor. 

For my heroine in Maisy’s Gamble, dealing faro in saloons proved a better choice for its earning power and safety since her nemesis considered ordinary saloons beneath him. Being born in a brothel and raised in a gutter gave Gold Kingsley an exaggerated disdain for the type of life his mother lived. Maisy used this to her advantage. 

Dealing faro also allowed her to move around a lot, making her more difficult to find. She spent her adult years raising her son and finding ways to evade Gold. But time is against us all, and she knew he would find her someday. Fortunately, that day waited until the hero, The Preacher, came into her life. 

The Preacher spent his adult years allowing the vagaries of life to rule him. That ended once Maisy entered his life. Bonded by a common enemy and the need to stay alive, Maisy and Preacher joined forces to battle Gold, but only time could calculate their odds of winning the biggest gamble of their lives. 

 

EXCERPT: 

In this scene, a patron in the saloon where Maisy works is mistreating his dog. 

On impulse, Maisy stood and said, “Play me for him, Mr. Siddens. One hand of Draw. I’ll wager twenty dollars I can beat you. If you lose, the animal is mine, and you leave Pandora.” 

Crude laughter burst out of the man, splattering her with spit. “Ya joshing me, Maisy? He ain’t worth a plugged nickel.” 

Marshal  Harker moved to her side. “What are you doing?” 

She ignored him. “Well, Mr. Siddens…?” 

The drunken bully looked from her to the marshal and shrugged. “Why not? I don’t mind takin’ money from a woman.” 

Harker leaned close and whispered, “He’s drunk and cheats.” 

“I know. Don’t worry. I can beat him.” 

Shaking his head, the marshal lifted his hands in resignation. “Fine. One hand of Draw. But win or lose, Mr. Siddens, you’re done tonight.” 

“Whatever ya say, Marshal.” With that, Siddens righted the chair he’d knocked over, sat down, and gathered up the scattered pasteboards. 

Taking the opposite seat, Maisy drew a sealed deck from her skirt pocket. “You don’t truly think I’d let you use your cards, do you? I’ve known too many gamblers who cheat.” 

“Why, you…” He raised a hand, ready once more to strike out. At the cocking of a six-gun, Siddens dropped his arm and sat back. 

Maisy looked up surprised to see Preacher slip his Colt back into its holster. He tipped his hat, and she acknowledged it with a nod. Why had he protected her? Did it mean he didn’t work for Gold, or had Gold ordered that she be kept alive until he got his hands on her? 

“Maisy?” Jake said, bringing her back to herself. 

Determined to finish what she’d started, she reached into the small drawstring purse dangling from her wrist to find a gold eagle, which she placed on the table. 

Eyeing the coin, Siddens sneered, “Want me ta put the dawg on the table, too?” 

She forced a smile. “We’ll just pretend, shall we?” She shuffled and offered him the deck to cut. After dealing, she picked up her cards. An ace, two jacks, a ten, and a five. After setting the ten and the five aside, she placed the remaining three cards face down on the table. “How many would you like, Mr. Siddens?” 

“Three shiny new ones,” he said, tossing down his discards. 

She dealt the cards. “Dealer takes two.” 

Aware of the mob gathered around the table, Maisy let her eyes roam the faces, quickly passing over Preacher’s. The spectators murmured among themselves, and money exchanged hands. 

“Well, Mr. Siddens, what do you have?” she asked. 

He grinned as he spread out three queens on the table. “Three ladies. Can’t top that, now can ya, sugar?” He laughed and swapped grins with a few men. 

She smiled and laid down her cards—three aces and two jacks—a full house. 

“What the…?” Siddens leaped to his feet. “Marshal, arrest her. She musta cheated.” 

Jake gave his head a firm shake. “No, she’s just a damned fine player.” 

Grumbles erupted from losers as bets were paid off. Maisy called for paper and a pencil. When they arrived, she set them in front of Siddens and ordered him to write out a bill of sale. 

“Bill o’ sale!” he ranted. “I didn’t sell the mutt. I got cheated out o’ ‘im.” 

“Write.” 

Siddens did. “Damned dawg ain’t no good nohow.” 

The crowd dispersed. A deputy appeared to escort the gambler from the saloon. 

Back at her table, she settled the dog on the floor in the warmth of the stove and called for food scraps and a wet cloth to clean the animal’s wounds. “I think I’ll call you Hock,” she told him, “after the last card played in a hand of faro. When we go home, you’ll meet Soda. She’s named after the first card played.” 

He wagged his tail as if he approved. 

Jake Harker returned and took his usual seat, grinning at her. “Dammit, Maisy, I can’t believe you pulled that off. That piece of crap is a good card player, even without cheating.” 

“Yes, well, two can play at that game.” 

He stared at her a moment. “You mean what I think you mean?” Leaning forward, he gave her a stern look. “Did you cheat, Maisy?” 

Avoiding his gaze, she began arranging her faro gear on the table. “Someone had to get the poor animal away from him. He’s a brute, and you know it.” 

Charlene is giving away two prizes today!

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Maisy’s Gamble OR a $5 Amazon gift card, just share what type of work you might have done if you’d lived in the 1800s!

 

Charlene Raddon is a bestselling author of Western historical romance novels. Originally published by Kensington Books, she is now an Indie author. She grew up on old western movies and loved them, but never intended to be a writer. That part of her life just happened. Besides writing and reading, she raises orchids, designs book covers, and crochets. 

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Meet the real Black Bart

Did you know that Black Bart was a real man? And an interesting one, too.

Charles E. Bowles was born in England in 1829 and his family immigrated to the United States when he was two years old. Charles grew up on his family farm in Jefferson County, New York. He and a cousin headed to the California gold fields when he was twenty years old, arriving in 1850. They mined near Sacramento, but returned home in 1852, no richer than when they had left. After another trip to the gold fields, Charles returned to the east, married, settled on a farm in Illinois and had four children. When the Civil War started, he joined the Union Army and attained the rank of sergeant.

After the war, Charles left his family in Illinois and struck out for Montana and Idaho, hoping to strike it rich. He located a claim in Montana, which men from Wells Fargo tried to buy from him. He refused to sell, and Wells Fargo resorted to hardball tactics, cutting off their water supply, which made it impossible to mine.  He wrote to his wife about his difficulties with Wells Fargo and said that he was going to take steps to right the wrong done against him. The last letter his wife received was from Montana in 1871.  His wife never heard from him again and assumed he was dead.

This is where it gets good.

Charles became a new man. He changed his last name from Bowles to Boles, and adapted an elegant style of dress. He also targeted the Wells Fargo company for revenge. In fifteen years, Wells Fargo lost $415,000 in gold to outlaws. Charles intended to add to that figure.

In July 1875, Charles held up his first stagecoach near Copperopolis, California. Wearing a long duster, a flour sack over his head with eyes cut out, and a dapper black derby hat, he jumped out from behind a boulder and stopped the stagecoach.  He politely asked for the strong box to be thrown down, then he called over his shoulder to his “gang” to open fire if the driver shot at him. Seeing the barrels of rifles sticking out of from the brush, the driver complied. A woman offered her purse, but Black Bart told her he was only interested in Wells Fargo gold. After Charles had hacked open the strongbox and left with the contents, the stage driver realized that the rifle barrels where sticks tied to brush to look like rifle barrels.

He committed another robbery using this exact tactic five months later, and another six months after that. During his fourth robbery a little over a year later, he identified himself as Black Bart, leaving a humorous note and signing it with that moniker. He left a poem signed Black Bart after his next robbery a year later.

Black Bart robbed at least 28 stagecoaches over his outlaw career and netted at least $18,000. The interesting thing was that he always robbed on foot because he was afraid of horses. He never robbed a single passenger because his grievance was against Wells Fargo. On his last robbery, near the location of the first, he ran into trouble. The strongbox was bolted to the stagecoach, so he had to hack into it with an axe. The lone passenger on the stage, who had actually left the stagecoach while it lumbered up a steep hill just prior to Charles stopping it, saw what was happening and fired some shots. One hit Charles in the hand. He escaped with gold, but dropped a handkerchief with a distinctive laundry mark, which was used to hunt him down.

Wells Fargo only pressed charges for the final robbery, and Charles was sentenced to six years in San Quentin. He was released early for good behavior and left behind his life of crime. He lived in San Francisco and Visalia California before disappearing in 1888.

There was a rumor that Charles once again started robbing Wells Fargo stagecoaches, stopping only when Wells Fargo paid him a $200 a month pension.  Another rumor was that he became a pharmacist in Maryville, California, and the last was that he’d spoken of retiring to Japan, and that he may well have done just that.

So…hat’s off to Black Bart, the polite poet bandit with a fear of horses who refused to rob anyone except for the company that had cost him his mine in Montana.

Modern-Day Outlaws – Yikes! by Pam Crooks

I’ve lived in the same house in a rather affluent part of my city for 35 years. In that time, I’ve seen the area grow and thrive. We have lots of restaurants and shopping, banks and office buildings. Good schools and churches. Neighborhoods are well-kept and safe.

Safe, most of all.

Until recently, that is.

Several weeks ago, less than a mile away from my home, one of the banks I frequent was robbed. The two thieves pistol-whipped a bank employee, roughed up and dragged a pregnant employee by the hair, and injured a bank customer. They got away with $350,000. Luckily, the police found them early the next morning. One of the robbers had red dye staining his face, pretty strong evidence of his guilt.

Last week, unbelievably, a young, heavily-armed man walked into my Target store a mere block from the same bank. 250 people were in that store. Once he started shooting, people fled into bathrooms, fitting rooms, and out the back door. By the grace of God, he didn’t kill anyone. Dozens of police cars from all over the city and surrounding towns raced to the store. Six minutes after the first 911 call, one brave police officer took care of the situation, saving those 250 lives.

Sure makes you want to lock up your house and never come out, doesn’t it?

But of course, we can’t live that way, and in the time since, I wondered about the men and women who lived in the far reaches of our country when it was yet new and unsettled. No 911 calls. No speeding policemen. No high-tech databases. No cell phones to keep frantic families informed.

Sure, they had sheriff posses and organized groups like the Texas Rangers. The men were dedicated and tough, but they were helped along only by their horse, word-of-mouth, and possibly the occasional telegram from neighboring county law enforcement that might have news about an outlaw’s whereabouts.

The Pinkerton Agency’s detectives were a little more sophisticated in their sleuthing. Record-keeping was perfected, criminals and their methods were studied, and even the cleverness of working undercover produced positive results in preventing crime and catching criminals. But speed wasn’t their strong suit.

And then there were the citizens themselves who often took matters in their own hands when law enforcement was nowhere to be found or too far away to help. Vigilantes, too, who enacted justice with the help of a rope and a long-branched tree.

Thank goodness those days are gone. Justice was hard and slow. Sometimes it didn’t happen at all.

Unfortunately, crime still thrives, the acts far more sophisticated and deadly than ever before. I’m afraid the outlaws of yesteryear would never have thought of the crimes being committed today.

I’m grateful to say I’ve never been a victim of one. I’ve never had a car broken into, or my house robbed, or my purse stolen. My neighborhood–knock on wood–remains very safe, and hopefully will for a very long time to come.

Have you ever been a victim of a crime? Did the modern-day outlaw fall to justice?

Guest E.E. Burke, Outlaw Hideouts, and a Giveaway!

A Den for Thieves
by E.E. Burke

Robber’s Cave State Park near Wilburton Oklahoma has the dubious honor of being a favorite hideout for outlaws like Jesse James. This remote place and its rich history made it the perfect setting for my last Steam! Series novel, which features an outlaw, a Pinkerton agent, a deadly mystery, and some fascinating history.

After the Civil War, the U.S. entered a period of severe economic downturn. The sparsely populated, mountainous terrain along the border between Arkansas and Indian Territory became a sanctuary for criminals fleeing justice, who took advantage of confusing legal systems and lax federal oversight. Add to that, a corrupt judicial system operating out of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and you have a recipe for trouble…and an exciting historical romance.

As legend has it, some of the more famous bad guys who hid out in this remote area included Jesse and Frank James, the Youngers, and the Daltons.

Today, the area is a lovely state park with great views, beautiful waterfalls, streams and lakes, and lots of caves to explore. These aren’t your typical underground caves. Many of them are inside of massive stone structures that look as if Nature created shelters for the purpose they ultimately served—to shield fugitives and thwart those who might come to search for them.

.

A short drive west will take you across what used to be the old Katy Railroad line. Go south and you’ll soon be in Texas. The town of Denison became a cattle hub in the mid-1870s and the railroad was transporting beef in newly invented refrigerated railcars.

What do cold rail cars have to do with outlaws hiding in caves and a missing Pinkerton agent? You’ll have to read my book to find out.

The deal she offers him could be a path to freedom or a detour straight to hell.

Jasper Byrne, an accused train robber, is about to face frontier justice when he is stolen away from a lynch mob. His female savior, who claims to be a reporter, offers him a chance at redemption if he will help her solve a mystery.

He will do one better. Make certain she returns from her quest alive.

Undercover detective Brigit Stevens isn’t certain she can trust Jasper to keep his word, but she needs an outlaw to guide her through a wilderness known only to thieves and murderers. She doesn’t expect the rogue to become her protector. No more than she anticipates losing her heart to him.

Can an outlaw and a Pinkerton agent form more than a temporary partnership? Does love have the power to rewrite the future and create second chances?

Purchase Lawless Hearts today.

Giveaway!

What are some of the places you’ve been that have outlaw legends attached to them?
Do you have a favorite? Where and why?

Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Lawless Hearts.

E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical fiction and romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been finalists for numerous national and regional awards, including the Chanticleer International Book Awards, Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in.

Find out more about her books at her website: http://www.eeburke.com.

Belle Siddons–Gambler, Legend, and Inspiration By Pam Crooks

If you happened to catch our Yee-Haw blog on Monday, you’ll know I announced a new series called Love Train. My book, CHRISTIANA, is the launch book and will be released on April 1st, but I’ll talk more about that later.

There’s few things more satisfying than writing a book to the finish. Starting one, however, isn’t quite as satisfying, at least not for me. In fact, it can be downright stressful until I find my way with the plot, the characters, and their conflict.

To do that, I must do plenty of research, especially if I’m writing an historical. Then, as inevitably happens, I stumble upon an article that I find absolutely fascinating, and voila, my story starts to take shape.

That’s exactly what happened with Belle Siddons.

The author of the article mostly pieced together information from two reporters’ sources–a jail cell interview when she was a bit, well, inebriated, and a death bed interview where she describes herself as a victim and whose account doesn’t quite match up with what little historical facts could be found.

Still, the author wrote a fascinating piece, and from the beginning, I was hooked. Here’s a quote from a reporter at the time:

She went to the wildest excesses in dissipation. When not sitting behind her gambling table she was eating or drinking. But she was never known to drink in her gambling hall. There she would sit, silent and brilliant, coldly shuffling the cards, or carelessly turning her roulette table. Women she despised and seldom spoke to or of them. She never quarreled or exchanged words of anger. Her prompt argument was her pistol, which always lay beside her stacks of money. Her favorite costume was red or black velvet, ornamented with a profusion of gaudy jewelry, mostly diamonds and rubies. Her luxuriant black hair usually hung carelessly looped over her shoulders with gold and diamond clasps. This sensational costume, she said, was a part of her stock in trade. “It excites curiosity and draws in the suckers,” she said.

San Francisco Examiner, 1881

What’s not to love?

I won’t go too deep into her wild life given that not all of it can be backed up as factual. The author admits to fictionalizing Belle’s legend, and it made for fascinating reading.  But if you want to read the article, here’s a link.

From <http://shipwrecklibrary.com/deadlands/belle-siddons/>

Regardless, after poring over the writings, my story took off, and I love it when that happens.

Belle is the inspiration for my heroine’s mother, Olivia Turcotte. I softened her up quite a bit, and the story is truly Christiana’s, but the book is based on Olivia’s actions, Christiana’s love for her, and the hopes and dreams she has.

One thing I did keep was Olivia’s skill at the faro table. It was that skill which drew the villain’s interest, leads to the decisions she makes, and well, you’ll have to read the book when it comes out to learn more.

Suffice to say, everyone–even outlaws–have skills that everyone admires.

I’d like to think I have numerous skills–ha!–but probably my strongest would be organizational. It seems I’m always ramrodding something for my family or other authors, a throwback, I suppose, from being the oldest of seven children that were born boom-boom-boom.  Back in those years, my mother needed help, and she’d come to me saying “Pam, you handle it.”

So I did.

How about you? Can you name one skill that is your best?

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: 

BookBub

An Outlaw Land Agent, Mayor, and Romantic

In the settling of the U.S., owning land used to be the primary dream of almost every man–rich or poor. It was something tangible that meant you had worth and the owner could use it however he saw fit. But how were the sales handled when almost every town had a land office?

The General Land Office created in 1812 was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for all the public domain lands. It took over this function from the Treasury Department that had been in effect since 1785.

The General Land Office was in charge of surveying, platting, and selling of public lands. In addition they oversaw the Homestead Act and the Preemption Act in disposal of public lands.

During the Westward Expansion period, land sold at such a frantic pace that it was difficult to keep up. As I said, everyone wanted a piece to call their own.

Every town of any size had a land office where prospective buyers could see what was available. If they bought some, a deed was recorded and registered at that county’s courthouse which then made its way to the General Land Office in Washington D.C. But given the slow speed of travel, it might be a year or more before it got registered. And unscrupulous land agents could sell the same land twice or several times over. I see how easy it would’ve been. And how killings would’ve taken place. The West had no one to oversee a lot of things.

In 1946, the General Land Office and the U.S. Grazing Service merged to become the Bureau of Land Management.

In my newest release, ONCE UPON A MAIL ORDER BRIDE, Ridge Steele served as the mayor and land agent in the outlaw town of Hope’s Crossing. Unlike others, he is honest and above board in his dealings and in the recording of deeds.

To settle this fledgling town, he and his friends send for mail order brides through Luke Legend and his private bride service. Ridge is the last of his friends to get one.

When Adeline Jancy arrives, she’s more than he ever dreamed in every respect—other than she couldn’t speak. Due to horrifying trauma, she’s lost her voice. Ridge doesn’t have to marry her, but he does. He likes what he sees and figures she’ll do just fine.

He soon discovers Addie can throw a hissy or argue as well as anyone—all without words.

Their love grows slowly and ripens into a passionate story for the ages. From the moment they strolled onto the page, I knew they were perfect for each other in every way. Each had their own strengths that complemented the other as should a real relationship.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Or do you think it takes time to develop only after the couple has come to know each other? I’m giving away a copy of this book (winner’s choice of either ebook or print.)  I’ll draw on Saturday.

 

* * * * * * *

Dancing Outlaws

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.

The Outlaw’s Daughter & Giveaway

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!

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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?

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The Rose of Cimarron

 

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.