It’s Not Just Sew, Sew

The old West had a shortage of everything except hard times and backbreaking work and there was sure plenty of that. Pioneer women took extra pains with all their belongings and to lose something as small as a button really was difficult to take.

Buttons have been around approximately 4,000 years with its history dating back to Egypt. Archeologists have unearthed them in ancient tombs and in archeological digs.

At first buttons were used entirely for decoration. Men and women both wore buttons to adorn themselves. King Louis XIV of France spent $600,000 a year on buttons and King Francis I once had 13,600 buttons sewn to a single coat. The First Duke of Buckingham had a suit and cloak covered in diamond buttons. Talk about extravagant.

From ancient times, buttons have been fashioned from pearls, shells, glass, metal, wood, bone and antler, precious stones, porcelain, and leather among other materials. It appears that our ancestors made buttons from everything imaginable that was available at the time. Buttons with images of angels on them date back hundreds of years.

  

 

But buttons were not just for clothing. They could be found on purses, bracelets, belts, and shoes and still can today. Early buttons showed beautiful artistry. Artists filled their time painting portraits and scenery on them. Europe became so button crazy the church denounced them as “the devil’s snare,” mainly because of women’s front-buttoned dresses. Ridiculous I know. Even the Puritans condemned buttons as sinful.

No one is quite sure when someone came along and fashioned the first buttonhole, but it was quite an accomplishment. Everyone jumped on the button wagon. It was so nice to able to make form-fitting garments that didn’t have to be secured with a belt, hooks, or other devices.

        

Sadly, decorative buttons have become a lost art. Today, most buttons are mass produced from inexpensive plastic.

Button collecting began in the 1930’s. The National Button Society was formed in 1938. There are thousands of collectors today. People collect all kinds and shapes and some of the prices fetched for a single button is outrageous. Recently, a button was sold in auction for $850. People are serious about their buttons.

The Smithsonian Institution has an extensive button collection as do many other museums.

Did you know that March13-19 is National Button Week?

Most of us have buttons somewhere, either in jars or in sewing baskets. I have a zip lock bag full of buttons that I’ve cut off clothes before I toss them in the trash. I always think I’ll need one for something.

A friend of mine plays a game of buttons with her grandchildren. She lets them choose from her button collection then tells them some wild story about where it came from and who wore it. The more outrageous story the better. Their eyes grow wide as they listen to the tales she weaves.

Do you have a stash of buttons? I have some very pretty decorative ones. Can you imagine wearing a piece of clothing that has over 13,000 buttons sewn on it?

Kickin’ up Yer Heels

Step back in time—how do you celebrate a barn raising in the Old West? A wagon train coming to town? A wedding? The end of a cattle drive? Or something as regular as a Saturday night?

Dancing!

The towns in the West were full of independent, rugged people, looking to make a mark on the world or at least on their own pockets. Town dances invited all to attend; cowboys and miners, outlaws and lawmen, bankers and merchants, cultured women and soiled doves. Dances were important to bring a community together for courtship and friendshipping. It was also a vehicle that mixed the social classes, giving people opportunities for advancing one’s class. America’s class system wasn’t as rigid as had been the countries of Europe and the attendees of the dances proved this especially in the West.

Immigrants found it easy to hoe-down with their neighbors as many of the dances originated in Europe and changed very little from the folk dances people already knew. The Polka was a favorite in the new West, but other common dances were the Quadrille, Grand March, Waltz and Scottish Fling. As dances evolved, new steps became incorporated and a dance master would call out the steps to keep the group in sync. This evolved into an American original, the square dance. It seemed to fit the American ideal of a mixture of people and ideas that work together to create a new culture.

In many western towns, women were scarce. And just as in Shakespeare’s plays, men would assume the female role. “Heifer branding” solved the problem as burly men would don a piece of fabric tied round their arm or strap on a bonnet or apron to take the place of the fairer sex and the party continued.

Hurdy-Gurdy Girls traveled to western towns in a group of several women, chaperoned by a married couple, often with children. They hired out for dances and then traveled on to another town.

Saloons found that dancing brought in more men and more money, and employed women as dance hall girls. These women were looked down upon by “proper” ladies, but they were not prostitutes as they were accused. Men would buy a dance ticket for a dollar, then spend it on a partner of his choice, dancing together for a quarter of an hour. The interaction allowed for dance and conversation with men starved for female companionship.

The women generally earned half the price of the tickets they claimed. If they took the man to the bar after the dance, they received a commission on the drinks as well. The dance hall girls could make more in a week than most men made in a month. They also made more money than the prostitutes did, and when given an opportunity, the soiled doves made their way into the dance hall ranks.

Towns also sponsored regular dancing events. In Albert Benard de Russailh’s travel journal, Last Adventure, published in 1851, he wrote of dances in San Francisco. “I am occasionally reminded of our balls at the Salle Valentine on the Rue St. Honoré. There is one important difference: Parisian rowdies often come to blows; but in San Francisco hardly an evening passes without drunken brawls during which shots are fired.”

Dance in the Old West is part of the mystique of the era and was as vital to building their culture, as it is today. It was used to release energy, bring together neighbors, socialize, and provide recreation. So come on out to the barn—let’s dance.

One lucky commenter chosen at random will receive her choice of one of Jo Noelle’s ebooks! To be entered in the giveaway leave a comment on your favorite dance or your favorite dancing memory.

To follow Jo Noelle on on Facebook at Loving Sweet Historical Romance click here. To visit her website click here, and to buy her books, click here.

Works Consulted:

 

Phyliss Miranda Asks…Hangin’ or Jury?

 

 

In the Old West, the terms rustling and rustler had several meanings. Livestock who forged well were called rustlers by cowmen; meaning the animals could graze or “rustle up” nourishment on marginal land. A horse wrangler or camp cook was also a rustler, but the most widespread and notorious use of the word referred to a cattle thief.

On the vast open ranges of yesteryear, rustling was a serious problem and punishable by hanging. At its peak, one of the largest ranches in the Texas Panhandle had over 150,000 head of cattle and a thousand horses. Obviously, thieves could drive stolen livestock miles away before a rancher learned he had animals missing.

cattle-rustlersThe vast distances to town, hence law enforcement, often prompted ranchers to take actions of their own. Court convictions for rustling were difficult because of the animosity of small ranchers and settlers toward big cattle outfits. Many times, “vigilante justice,” hang ‘um first…ask questions later, was handed down by organized stockmen. Like horse thieves, cattle rustlers could be hanged without benefit of trial, judge or jury.

Today, even with detailed brands logged in books, registering with state officials, inspectors, and the meticulous paperwork involving transportation, not to mention a new era of branding technology to keep track of animals, ranches still face cattle rustlers…those dishonest people who want to profit from selling cattle without the bother of raising them.

cowsNo longer is a single head of beef stolen for food or an occasional Native American slipping off the reservation to provide for his family… it is big business. Modern day rustlers often sneak onto rural ranches at night, or on weekends when the owners are away, steal and sell cattle. An average calf can bring thousands of dollars on the open market; so multiply that by a trailer, or even a truck load, of cattle and you can see why it’s a profitable business for thieves.

Amid warnings that cattle rustling is on the rise in Texas, recently the state Senate passed a measure that would stiffen penalties for stealing farm animals, making theft of even one head of livestock a third-degree felony drawing up to a ten year prison sentence and a fine. Until the proposal is signed into law, a rustler can steal ten or more head of livestock and the punishment is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the law of the Old West … hang ‘um high and fast.

rustling-wanted-poster

But was hanging always fast and efficient?

I delved into the subject of cattle rustling and the methods of rustlers while researching for Give Me a Cowboy where my Pinkerton Agent comes to the Panhandle to break up an outfit of rustlers. But I became interested in “vigilante justice” from my mother-in-law, who recently passed on at the age of 92. A story teller, she was reared in Clayton, New Mexico. One of her favorite tales was about the outlaw Black Jack Ketchum, the first man hanged in the town. His execution turned into a big town event, with the lawmen actually selling tickets to the hangin’. As history has it, the sheriff had to use two blows of the hatchet before the rope broke. Probably because of their lack of experience in “structured” hangings, coupled with the lawmen misjudging Ketchum’s weight and stretching the rope during testing, he was beheaded.  Ketchum was buried at Clayton’s Boot Hill on April 26, 1901.

blackjackketchum-hanging

But my mother-in-law’s story only began there. Three decades later, when she was in grade school, Ketchum’s grave was moved to the new cemetery. Because her father was Clayton’s mayor, she witnessed the reburial. According to her, they opened the grave and she and her cousin touched the bones of Ketchum’s little finger. I’m sure in those days a casket did not weather well.

To me it’s so fascinating when history bridges time and touches our lives. Do you have a family story where history inserted itself into reality?

I’m giving away your choice of either hardback or paperback of either Give Me a Texan or Give Me a Cowboy to one of the commenters.

 Click on Cover to order from Amazon

Visit me at http://www.PhylissMiranda.com

A Blacksmith is a Blacksmith, Right?

Ask our guest Jennifer Uhlarik that question. She’ll tell you!

 

Blacksmiths—those who work to shape metal into useful tools, decorative pieces, or bits of jewelry—have been around since our earliest history. In the Old West, a blacksmith was a highly valued member of any community, as at some point, most people would find a reason to visit his shop to have a new tool crafted or an old one fixed or restored. A well-trained blacksmith would earn good pay for his craft. But it might surprise you to learn that not all blacksmiths could do all types of metalwork. Quite the contrary. Some were very specialized in their skills while others had a rather broad ability to work in many areas. Here’s a quick primer in the various types of smiths:

 

  1. Blacksmith—one who works with iron and steel. Going back to the Colonial days of America (and far earlier), blacksmiths made most of the metal tools anyone could dream of. Plows, hoes, shovels, door hinges, metal chains, and everything in between. Your typical village blacksmith had a wide range of knowledge and could work on lots of types of projects.

 

  1. Farrier—a smith who shaped and fit horseshoes. Since the Industrial Revolution, horseshoes have been mass-produced, but before that, shoeing horses required someone with the skill to be able to shape the iron into the horseshoe as well as adhere them to the horse’s hooves. In addition, this type of smith would have to have knowledge of how to clean, shape, and trim the horse’s hooves. Many farriers were general blacksmiths, but not all blacksmiths were farriers.

 

  1. Wheelwright—a craftsman who could create or work on wooden wheels or wagons and other conveyances. This included crafting the metal wheel rims and other metal parts of wagons, carriages, and the like.

 

  1. Locksmith—someone who forged locks from metal. Initially, locks were made from wood, but as man learned ways to craft with metal, the locksmiths changed their chosen media. They would work for hours, cutting and filing small pieces to create the inner workings of the locks.

 

  1. Gunsmith—one who designed, built, repaired, and/or modified guns. In addition, they might also apply decorative engraving or finishes to the completed firearm. Gunsmiths still have a place in modern society, working in gun-manufacturing factories, armories, and gun shops.

 

  1. Bladesmith—as you might guess, a bladesmith was someone who used blacksmithing techniques to shape metal into knives, swords, and other bladed implements. In addition, this smith would have knowledge of shaping wood for blade handles, as well as some leatherworking ability for creating knife sheaths, etc.

 

  1. Swordsmith—an even more specialized form of bladesmith, who worked only on swords.

 

  1. Coppersmith (also known as a Brazier)—this craftsman worked mainly with copper and brass, creating anything from jewelry to plates/platters to sculptures and more.

 

  1. Silversmith—a smith whose chosen metal was silver. An interesting tidbit about silversmithing: in this craft, the metal is worked cold, unlike iron which requires great heat. As it is hammered and shaped, it becomes “work-hardened”, and if it isn’t periodically “annealed” (heated to soften it again) the silver will crack and weaken.

 

  1. Goldsmith—Closely related to a silversmith, a goldsmith worked with gold and other precious metals to create silverware, jewelry, goblets, service trays, and even religious or ceremonial pieces.

 

There are other types of smiths, but these are some of the most common.

 

For the most part, the skill, craft, and artwork of the blacksmith is a thing of the past, though you can find working blacksmith shops in some places today. Sometimes they are part of historic sites or living history museums, meant to show what life was like in a given time period. Others are meant to introduce today’s culture to the craft of blacksmithing through simple hands-on classes where you can make an easy project in a few hours. Most common in today’s culture, those with smithing skills work in jewelry designing/sales, the firearm industry, or as locksmiths.

 

It’s your turn: Did it surprise you to learn that not all smiths could do all types of work? Which type of smithing work intrigues you the most? Leave me a comment with your thoughts, and I’ll give one commenter a signed copy of my latest release, The Blacksmith Brides, with four fun romances all containing blacksmith heroes.

 

Available now on Amazon!

Blacksmith Brides: 4 Love Stories Forged by Hard Work

 

Hearts Are Forged by the Flames of Gentle Love in 4 Historical Stories
 
Worth Fighting For (1774—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) by Pegg Thomas
Talk of war has surrounded Meg McCracken, including her father and four brothers. Alexander Ogilvie doesn’t care about the coming war; his plans are to head west. When Meg comes to his smithy, sparks fly off more than the forge. But can they build anything during unstable times?
 
Forging Forever (1798—Cornwall, England) by Amanda Barratt
When the actions of Elowyn Brody’s father force her into a marriage of convenience with blacksmith Josiah Hendrick, she consigns love to a bygone dream. But as Elowyn comes to know her new husband, her flame of hope begins to burn again. Until heartache threatens to sever the future forged between them.
 
A Tempered Heart (1861—Charlottesville, Virginia) By Angela K. Couch
Buried under a debt that is not his own, Thomas Flynn’s only focus is gaining his freedom. He has learned to keep his head low and not pay attention to the troubles of others, until a peculiar boy and his widowed mother show him how empty his life has become. After years of protecting her son from slights and neglect of the people closest them, Esther Mathews is not sure how to trust the local blacksmith with her child…or her heart.
 
A Malleable Heart (California—1870) by Jennifer Uhlarik
A hard-hearted blacksmith finds acceptance with the town laundress. But when his past comes to call, will he resist love’s softening or allow God to hammer his ruined life into something of worth?

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

 

Bachelors and Babies by Hebby Roman

Please join us in welcoming Hebby Roman as our guest author today! Welcome, Hebby! It’s great to have you join us!

 

 

Zach is the eleventh book in the Bachelors & Babies series. As with three of my other sweet western historical romances, I chose to set this book at a Texas fort, Fort McKavett.

I’ve been researching Texas forts for over two years, and I’m amazed by how many different kinds of forts there have been in Texas. In the early days, regions of Texas were claimed by both France and Spain. Each of them built forts to protect their claims. The Alamo is an example of a Spanish presidio, built to bring Christianity to the natives.

Along with the Spanish presidios and the log forts of the French in East Texas, there were many families who moved to the wild lands of Texas and built their own personal forts. The John Parker family established Parker’s Fort in 1833 on the banks of the Navasota River. This fort was the site of a well-known Comanche Indian raid in May 1836, where the Comanche captured 12-year old Cynthia Ann Parker. She was the mother of the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker.

The famous Texas Rangers built base camps to use for their raids on hostile natives and various outlaw bands. Before Texas became a part of the United States, it was an independent nation, known as the Republic of Texas, and the Republic built forts as well. Most of the Texas Republic forts were “rough” affairs of mud brick and timber. Prior to the Civil War, the United States built two lines of forts to protect settlers from hostile natives. Some of these forts were taken over by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, others were decommissioned and abandoned, a few were used as outposts for state militia or even as stagecoach stops. Many of these forts were taken back by the U.S. cavalry and protected the Texas frontier for years.

Fort McKavett, where my book Zach is set, was one of those frontier forts that changed hands during the Civil War and was reclaimed as part of the U.S fort system. Originally, it was known as the Camp on the San Saba River, and it was established in March, 1852 to protect settlers from Comanche and Kiowa raids in Menard County, Texas. Later that year, in October, the fort was renamed Fort McKavett, in honor of Captain Henry McKavett, who had served meritoriously in the Mexican-American War.

With the outbreak of the American Civil War, the post was occupied by members of McCulloch’s Company E, 1st Texas Mounted Rifles, and the camp served as a prisoner-of-war camp for Union soldiers who had survived the Battle of Adams Hill, which took place north of San Antonio, Texas.

The fort was reactivated by the United States Army in April, 1868, as part of “the redeployment of a frontier military force,” by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Beaumont’s 4th Cavalry Company.

From 1868 to 1883, Fort McKavett served as a major supply depot providing food and provisions for most of the Texas military campaigns, along with scientific and mapping explorations for other forts in West Texas. The spring of 1869 brought dramatic historic developments to the post with the arrival of the 41st Infantry, and its commanding officer, Colonel Ranald Mackenzie. The 41st was one of the army’s six regiments, and Mackenzie would become one of the foremost Native American fighters of the post-Civil War army.

Nestled in the picturesque Hill Country of Texas, Fort McKavett was characterized by General William T. Sherman as “the prettiest post in Texas” on his inspection tour of Texas forts in 1871.

My giveaway includes a $10 Amazon gift card, along with a digital copy of my boxed set, “A West Texas Frontier Trilogy.” “Zach,” which is set in Fort McKavett, as discussed above is the fourth book of my Texas fort series and it is currently in pre-orders. When it is released on April 1st, I will also send the winner a digital copy of “Zach.” One lucky winner will receive all three prizes! All you have to do to enter the drawing, is to comment on this blog and P&P will randomly select a winner.

Please,  leave a comment so we can chat and good luck!

Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS TRILOGY is an Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning series. SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance. Her medieval historical romance, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, was selected for the Amazon Encore program and was #1 in medieval fiction. She won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. She has been a RONE Finalist three times and in three different categories.

* * * * * *

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.

Golden History by Cynthia Woolf

Please join us in welcoming our guest Cynthia Woolf! She’s sharing about her latest book with us today. Thank you, Cynthia, for stopping in to chat!

My latest book is a novella titled A Husband for Victoria. It is a mail-order bride book, since that is what I write and what I’m known for.

I set the book in Golden City, Colorado Territory. It’s just called Golden now and is the home of the Colorado School of Mines, first opened in 1870, and Coors Brewing Company, opened in 1873.

The reason I set it there is because that’s where I grew up. Yup. I’m a Colorado native.

When I was sixteen, I worked for the Pioneer Museum in Golden. It was a fascinating place and I fell in love with the history of my town.

I’ve set several of my books in Golden, all historical Western romance. Golden was once the capital of the Colorado Territory but lost out to Denver when the town snagged the capital title when Colorado became a state in 1876.

I like Golden. It was a gold rush town though the gold found there was not nearly the amount found in Central City which is about twenty miles up in the mountains from Golden.

Today there is still ranching and farming going on. Some of these ranches have been in the same family since the town was founded in 1859. These ranchers may have been miners that didn’t make their fortune in gold mining and took up ranching as a way to make a living.

There are many buildings in Golden that have been there for more than one hundred years. The Astor House was built in 1867. It was a boarding and rooming house. At one time, they charged twenty-five cents for a bath and it was said they made more off the baths than they did the rooming house!

Here is a scene from A Husband for Victoria after which, I’ll tell you about my giveaway.

The stagecoach driver helped her down from the coach and handed her the two carpetbags that held everything she owned.

“Thank you, Mr. Jones.”

He tipped his hat. “You’re welcome, Mrs. Coleman. You take care.”

“Thank you, I will.”

She looked around and walked up the steps to the boardwalk in front of the Golden West Hotel. The location gave her a slightly higher vantage point from which to survey the surrounding town and look for Mr. Mayfield. Surveying the town up and down the street, she was too busy to pay attention to those behind her.

The air was cold and her breath was visible. The buildings kept her from seeing much and to be honest, the scenery didn’t interest her as much as finding her prospective husband.

“Mrs. Coleman?”

She screeched and jumped. “Good grief. You startled me, sir. Are you Mr. Andrew Mayfield?” She raised her gaze to the face of the tall man next to her. He was taller than her by a good six inches, even in her boots, and though she couldn’t see his eyes, she saw his chiseled jaw and the firm set of his mouth. His lips were not too full and not too thin, though right now, they weren’t very welcoming either.

“I am. Are these all your bags?” He picked up her two carpetbags.

“Yes. That’s it.”

“Follow me.” He turned and started walking.

At the end of the boardwalk, in the alley next to the Golden City Mercantile, stood a wagon. As they got closer she saw that it was filled with large bags and boxes of canned goods and smaller bags. She looked up and saw the bench was just a plain wooden plank and stifled a groan. Great, another ride on a board with no padding. Her poor bottom was already hurting.

He helped her into the wagon before going around the back and climbing in next to her. Then he released the brake and slapped the reins on the animals’ bottoms.

She did her best to stay on her side of the bench but it was narrow and her skirts rode against his leg. His very muscular leg. She’d noticed when he walked the way the muscles moved. The man definitely worked for a living.

“Are we going to your ranch now?”

He shook his head. “Not until we visit the preacher. He knows we’re coming. I won’t have my wife’s reputation besmirched.”

Now for my giveaway, I’ll give away 3 copies of A Husband for Victoria in ebook and one $5 Amazon Gift Card. That’s four chances to win!

AUTHOR BIO:

Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of more than forty-four historical western romance books and two short stories with more books on the way. She also has six scifi romance novels. She also has three boxed sets of her books available
Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and her great critique partners for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.
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The Oregon Trail Trading Post with Jennifer Uhlarik!

Hi everyone. Jennifer Uhlarik here. Have you ever thought of what traveling along the Oregon Trail is like? While I am fascinated with the idea of our forefathers traveling months along the path to make a life in the wilds of Oregon or other western places, the thought of being that far from civilization—particularly someplace to replenish supplies—is a frightening one. Keeping it real here: I live 2 miles from the grocery store, and it’s waaaaayyyyyy too easy for me to wait until 5 pm some nights to decide what I’m making for dinner, then rush off to the store for supplies. Our ancestors on the Oregon Trail didn’t have such luxuries! They had to pack enough stores to do life until they reached a trading post or fort to buy more.

So how did these trading posts get their start and what were they like?

As early as the 1500’s, French and English fishermen were sailing to the coast of Newfoundland to fish for cod. It was here that they encountered some local Indian tribes who were anxious to trade for metal goods. In order to obtain the iron pots, pans, knives and tools they coveted, the Indians offered beaver pelts, which they could provide in great quantities. It took the fishermen little time to sell the pelts once they returned home, and people quickly realized that the soft underfur of a beaver pelt made a wonderful felt for hat-making. With a growing demand for beaver pelts, both France and England began to explore North America with the intent to colonize it. Not long after, France began setting up trading posts in Quebec. Of course, England’s Hudson Bay Company moved into the area as well, sending traders and trappers across parts of Canada and the American frontier. Wherever they went, Hudson Bay Company set up trading posts to barter with the native population.

As life on the frontier changed from a focus on the fur trade to a focus on Westward Expansion, many of the old trading posts lived on. The owners of the posts continued to trade with the Indian tribes, but they also became outposts where white travels and settlers could get supplies. These small outposts provided staples like coffee, tea, rice, tins of hardtack biscuits, dried fruit, or canned goods. They also offered tools and utensils, such as cast iron pots, kettles, knives, and axes, saddles, and flint and steel for starting fires. Customers could trade for textiles, such as beaver-felt hats, blankets, bandanas, ribbon, thread, needles, and fabric. Ornamental or decorative supplies were commonly found, anything from silver to beads and beyond. And of course, guns, ammunition, and other shooting supplies were a common item found in these trading posts.

I’m sure you can imagine, life on the frontier could be lonely and supplies might be hard to come by. You had to learn to live with what you had…and make do until you could restock. Often, these trading posts were lifesavers, keeping people from starving or doing without until they reached the next major stop on their journey west. Or they might have prevented settlers from having to make a long trek to the nearest town or city, which might be days or weeks away. They certainly weren’t as convenient as today’s 7-Eleven, but I’m betting they were welcome stopovers to more than a few of our ancestors.

 

It’s your turn: If you had lived in times past, would you have liked to live on the frontier where a trading post might be your nearest source of supplies, or would you have preferred to live in a town or city? I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection to one reader who leaves a comment.

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Follow Jennifer at bit.ly.UhlarikNews

 

The Oregon Trail Romance Collection

Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail where daily challenges force travelers to evaluate the things that are most precious to them—including love. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples.

 

Click HERE to buy

 

Fun Things About the Ol’ West

I love research, particularly about the old west. I could get lost in it and a lot of the times I do. Please don’t get me wrong, I love to write, but if I ever had to make a choice between researching for a book and writing one, I’m not sure but I think I’d go with the research.

I thought it’d be fun to blog about western terminology and some of the things I’ve learned from researching the Old West, particularly since I was born and raised in Texas. Now here’s my first comment … we’ve always used born and raised then when I began writing, I got heavily edited with “you raise corn, you rear children”. Now that’s changed back to born and raised.

Many of the jargon popular back in western times are still used today.

  • Wild-cow milking: When sister Filly Linda Brody, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace and I began to write our anthology Give Me a Cowboy we had already decided that we’d have a 4th of July Rodeo take place in Kasota Springs, Texas, over four days. There were a lot of things that we had to iron out for consistency sake. I had to have a rainy day, so we had to make sure one day it rained. But, the funniest thing that happened was choosing events, so we didn’t duplicate. In the 1800’s there were only a limited number of events to choose from. I love the rodeo, so I had my mind set on bull riding. Linda and Jodi selected their events first … not bull riding, so I knew I had my event in the bag! But one problem, Dee selected hers next and since her brother was a champion bull rider … oh yes, you guessed it, she asked for bull riding. I took a deep breath and the only event left was wild cow milking. So, I smiled and enjoyed learning about this part of a rodeo. In the long run, I probably had more fun writing the scene where my hero and heroine were teamed up for this event and it began to rain. I’m not gonna tell you anything else, but if you haven’t read Give Me a Cowboy I think you’d enjoy what could happen in a wet arena with two people attracted to one another when they are trying to hold down a cow and milk her.  Of interest, the wild cow milking event came into existence because they had to bring calves for roping and of course they couldn’t separate the mama’s and their calf, so thus wild cow milk came about.
  • Chute Rooster: This was another term I learned through research and used for the same story. A chute rooster is a rodeo-wise boy who perched on top of the chutes and knew how everything should be done and didn’t mind telling about it.
  • Doggone: A wild slang expression. Whenever he could think of it, a cowboy used this term around womenfolks. I still use it.
  • Salty Dog: A man who was considered better than anyone else in his line, whether it was shooting, roping, riding, cattle rustling, holding up trains and stagecoaches, or just “plumb ornery”. Dog was also one of the old-time cowboy’s terms for bacon. When it was salty, it was “salty dog”.
  • Dofunny: The cowboy’s expression for a useless object.
  • Bible Two: A term used by Texas Rangers for the list of outlaws published every year by the Adjutant General’s Office. It was said that at one time the Texas Rangers had a list of over 5,000 desperadoes wanted by the law.
  • Hog-tied: I love this one. When a cowboy got “hog-tied” by a female he was no longer a cowboy but a cowman. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.
  • Vamoose: The cowboy used this word several different ways, but basically it meant “to move on” or “let go”. The word came from the Spanish vamos, which means “we go”. It’s still used today in our neck of the woods.
  • Cross Draw: The act of drawing a pistol with the right hand when it was worn on the left side. The sidearm was carried either in the waistband of the trousers or in a holster with the butt of the gun forward. The gunfighter had to cross his arm over to whip it out. When two guns were worn, both with butts forward, the gunfighter employed a “cross-arm draw” to take them out. This has been used many times in Westerns over the years.
  • Critter: Chiefly a term for a cow, but it could be any animal. We still use it today.
  • Road Brand: This was the light brand placed on cattle sufficient to “last up the trail” to the shipping point when different brands were in the same herd. Once the cattle were sold, the rancher would change to their own brand.
  • Hollow Horn: I found this particularly interesting. It is a disease that puzzled the tenderfoot. Cows’ horns simply dropped off after a freeze. Of course, they were hollow, thus the term hollow horn.
  • Liquored up: Has only been around since the early twenty century, but most everybody knows that it means “drunk”.
  • Larruppin’: One of my favorites. Larruppin’ good means excellent, especially with food.

What old terms do you use in your daily life?  What is your favorite?

To one two lucky readers I will send you an autographed copy of Give Me a Cowboy. If you already have one, I’ll give you an eBook copy of my latest western contemporary romance Out of a Texas Night, which have many of the founders of Kasota Springs, three to five generations later in it.

I wish to give credit to Bruce Grant and his book The Cowboy Encyclopedia because I mixed some of my own terminology with some of his. Thank you.

Krystal M. Anderson presents: The Stage Coach: Icon of the West (and a PAPER BACK GIVE AWAY!)

First of all, I’m so thrilled to be with you today and look forward to making some new friends!
We hear about lots of brave men – and a few women, too – who faced incredible obstacles in settling the American West. This was wilderness untamed, a place where you could never be sure what you’d find… or what would find you. Their stories are the ones I like most, for the events that brought them to their destinations often were so incredibly unlikely, yet true. As the 19th century progressed, people traveled west by wagon, handcart, stagecoach, and train. To me, each of these are symbols of that wild time period, but perhaps none more thrilling than the stagecoach.
Can you imagine traveling in one?
Nine passengers could be crammed inside, twelve more squeezed onto the roof. Belongings were packed on the roof or in the front or rear boot (those leather pouch-looking spaces). It varied, of course, on the type of terrain and road conditions, but a stagecoach averaged 5 mph (8 km/h) and could travel 60-70 miles per 24 hours.
If you wanted to ride a stagecoach from your town to another that was 100 miles away, you would typically ride 24 hours a day in the coach. That’s where you would sleep, too. They had to stop every 10-15 miles to swap out the team of horses at a swing station (ideally, they were galloping that entire distance, weather and trail permitting) and passengers could get out and stretch for a minute. Home Stations were located every 50 miles or so, and that’s where you’d come inside to have a meal.
Riding across the country in a stagecoach was miserable, dusty, bumpy, and cramped. It would be a test in patience and endurance to travel in such a way, in my opinion!

As I researched stage lines and all the fascinating treasure stories involved, I came across very few women.

Charley Parkhurst was a notable stage driver in California and Nevada in the mid-1800s, though no one knew she was a woman until after her death. She wore an eye patch and could spit tobacco and shoot a gun like any man of the west. Her story intrigued me. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to write a female stage driver?”

That’s how The Stage Driver’s Daughter came to be.

Winnifred Morgan, the heroine, spends most of her childhood in the driver’s seat of a stage coach beside her pa, learning all he knew. When he is killed suddenly, Winnie has no one left. So, she forsakes her dress and bonnet for boots and trousers and turns to what she knows: driving a coach, and not through civilized, populated roads – No. Where is the fun in that? She takes on the perilous mining routes in Nevada, and does it better than anyone else, too.

When she begins conveying treasure boxes for Wells Fargo Express, they hire a shotgun guard named Benjamin Sharpe to ride with her. Wouldn’t you know, she fights her growing attraction to him as they face many a highwayman on those dusty, dangerous roads.
But a secret surfaces, something her pa took to his grave, and those who seek it are coming after Winnie… You’ll have to read it to find out what happens when they do!
The Stage Driver’s Daughter is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited here.
To celebrate the book’s release one week ago, I’d love to give a paperback copy away here today.

I’ll pick a random winner from the comments to this post. Tell me your favorite way to travel, and why.

Thanks for having me, and I hope to see some of you on Facebook or my newsletter!

 

 

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