Camels in the Old West

Having lived in Nevada for almost half of my life, I was very aware of the brief role camels played in Virginia City and Austin during the mining days, hauling salt and ore. What I hadn’t known was that camel-power had been experimented with many times over the course of US history. So I offer to you, a brief Camel’s in the west timeline.

First of all, camels are native to North American and spread to Asia via the Siberian Land Bridge during the ice age. Camels died out in North America, but thrived in the Old World where they were domesticated.

Camels have a metabolism and specialized body-cooling system that allows them to go days without water, and they eat vegetation that other animals pass up. They can haul large loads. A mule can pack 300 pounds, but a dromedary camel (one hump) can haul 600 pounds. They can lose 40% of their bodyweight without upsetting the fluid balance in their blood, and they can drink 25 gallons of water in one visit to the trough.

Camels first came (back) to North America is 1701 when a sea captain brought a pair to Salem, Massachusetts and displayed them as a curiosity.

In 1836, US Army Major George George H. Crossman suggested to Congress that they explore the use of camels in desert environments. In the late 1840s Major Henry Wayne believed that camels were better suited to the conditions of the American Southwest than horses and mules, due to their ability to go without water and to forage where other animals could not. He made a formal request to the War Department to import camels for the purpose of developing a camel cavalry.

Eventually, in the mid  1850’s Congress provided $30,000 for the purchase of 50 camels, and the hiring of 10 camel drivers. Major Wayne traveled to the eastern Mediterranean via a Navy ship, where he investigated the camel markets of Egypt.  He eventually bought 33 animals, 32 of which survived the sea voyage to Texas. Forty-one more camels arrived in Texas in 1857.

Camels were stronger and had more endurance than horses and mules, and were used for various purposes, such as packing and road building, but horse traders feared that camels would put them out of business. Horses hated camels and anti-camel sentiment grew in Texas. When the Civil War broke out, the Texas camels purchased by the US Military were seized by the confederacy.

Camels that were used for military purposes in western forts were abandoned during the war as the troops moved east to fight the war. The camels scattered and became feral.

After the Civil War, camels were used to haul ore and salt in western mining areas, such as the Comstock in Nevada, and the Silver King in Arizona. The one drawback to camels was that their feet were suited to sand and soft earth, not the rocky paths near mining areas.

In 1875, Nevada made camel traffic illegal on roads due to the fact that camels frightened horses. This ended the use of camels in the mining areas. The animals were either set free or sold to circuses.

In the early1960s, a spoof article in a Nevada newspaper, The Territorial Enterprise, touted the results of a fictitious camel race in Virginia City. The editor of the San Francisco Chronicle reprinted the article believing it was genuine. The next year when the Territorial Enterprise once again mentioned an upcoming camel race, the editor of the Chronicle informed the editor of the Nevada newspaper that they were sending a team to compete. The camel races were born. Director John Huston won the first camel race on a camel borrowed from the San Francisco zoo. The tradition continues to this day.

Wooing the Schoolmarm and Giveaway

Today, three-quarters of teachers in primary schools are women.  It wasn’t always that way.  Prior to 1850, teaching was primarily a male occupation.  Men received an education, and women were taught how to run a household. 

Industrialization changed all that.  The new economy led men into business and better wages, creating a teacher shortage. This left the door open for women to step in.   

It was a tough job.  Teachers taught in one-room schools with as many as sixty pupils.  Female teachers commanded less pay than their male counterparts, but the job did give women more independence. 

In my book, Wooing the Schoolmarm, Miss Maddie Percy has come all the way from Washington D.C. to teach school in Colton Kansas.   Instead, the feisty red-haired schoolmarm finds the town burned to the ground and her only shelter an isolated sod house belonging to widower Luke Tyler and his young son, Matthew. Never one to be deterred by setbacks, Maddie is soon making friends with the local Indians, setting up a tepee to live in, and finding her blood racing every time Luke comes near.

Luke Tyler has no room in his life for a woman—especially one as eccentric, spunky, and smart as Maddie Percy.  His prairie farm life is too harsh, his memories too painful and his secrets too dark to give in to the feelings she has awakened in him.  She might be stealing his son’s heart, but he is keeping his own out of reach. If only he could keep the sparks between them from igniting something as dangerous as lo

For a chance to win a copy of Wooing the Schoolmarm, tell us the challenges you’ve had with homeschooling during the pandemic or share a favorite memory of your early school years.  

 

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The Lingering Appeal of the Wild West and Doc Holliday ~ Kimberly Grist

Happy Fall, y’all. I’m so pleased to be your guest blogger today. I love history, and one of my favorite parts about the writing process is doing the research required to ensure accuracy in my stories. I also like to try to find something that may not be widely known to keep the story interesting.

My family and I share our hometown of Griffin, Georgia, with a notorious gambler and gunfighter who’s also a dentist. I work only a block away from the location of his dental practice.

Doc Holliday is well known for his participation, along with Wyatt Earp, in the O.K. Corral gunfight in 1881. The battle itself lasted less than a minute. After almost 140 years, what do we still find so intriguing about the man? Multiple movies retell the story of the lawman, Wyatt Earp. But strangely, the character we’re most drawn to is a sickly dentist turned gambler and gunman known as Doc.

Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.

Perhaps the complexity of his character is the reason for his lingering appeal. His vibrant personality is rooted in contrast. Doc is critically ill but bold and gallant. He’s a deadly gunslinger and gambler, yet smart, educated, flashy, witty, compassionate, and loyal. Stir in a bit of vulnerability, a touch of vanity, and don’t forget a healthy dose of gallant southern charm to describe this critically ill man.

 

Born with a cleft palate on August 14, 1851, John Henry Holliday was fed by his mother with an eyedropper and a spoon.

The baby’s uncle, Dr. John Stiles Holliday, performed surgery, assisted by Dr. Crawford Long, the namesake of the Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The operation may have been the first time in history in which ether was used on an infant. He was schooled at home by his mother, who spent years training him to conquer his speech impediment. She also instilled in him Southern etiquettes, which would forever be part of his demeanor.

Two actors who played Doc Holliday, Stacy Keach and Jason Robards, were also born with the same condition.

Jason Robards played Doc in Hour of the Gun in 1967.

In 1864, his family moved to Valdosta, Georgia, where his mother suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis, and died when he was fifteen. Three months after his mother’s death, his father remarried.

 John Henry Holliday, age ten

Holliday attended Valdosta Institute, where he received a classical education, and in 1870, nineteen-year-old Holliday left home to attend the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He graduated five months before his twenty-first birthday. He returned to Griffin, Georgia, in 1872 to practice dentistry. 

John Henry was soon diagnosed with consumption and, in 1873, ended his career as a dentist. Some say he didn’t want his family to see him deteriorate and die from the disease. Others suggest he went west in hopes that the climate would be beneficial to his lungs. Regardless, Doc took the train to the literal end of the railroad line—Dallas, Texas.

Holliday understood the gravity of his disease and most likely considered himself a walking dead man. Though a realist, he remained hopeful for a cure. Doc found comfort in whiskey and gambling.

Texas was full of guns, knives, and violent men, some of whom were suffering from post-traumatic stress from the effects of war. Doc reinvented himself—from a southern gentleman dentist to a dangerous gunman who’d killed more than a dozen men in various altercations.

Holliday traveled from town to town, following the money and gaining a reputation as both a gambler and a gunman. In 1877, Doc was involved in an argument, but instead of going for his gun, he used his walking stick. His serious wounds, compounded by worsening tuberculosis, spurred a change of scenery. His next stop was Fort Griffin, where he met Wyatt Earp, who ultimately saved his life.

Earp and Holliday became fast friends. Eventually, Doc would join Earp in the wild boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona. Due to recent silver strikes, the town was flooded with merchants and cash but short on law and order. By the end of 1880, Tombstone was embedded with organized rustlers and thieves called the Cowboys. 

Val Kilmer as Doc alongside Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell & Bill Paxton as Virgil, Wyatt & Morgan Earp in 1993

On October 26, 1881. Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp deputized Holliday. Virgil asked Doc to carry his shotgun under his coat, and the four strode down the middle of the street to meet and disarm five members of the Cowboys near the O.K. Corral, which resulted in a thirty-second shootout.


GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment and you could win an ebook copy of WILLOW’S WORTH!

 

 

Telegraph operator, Willow Graham, has benefited from a unique lifestyle growing up with her grandfather at the livery. She’s independent and loves spending time riding and training animals. With her twenty-first birthday approaching, her family pressures her to return to the city and take up the lavish lifestyle her uncle has planned for her.

Her other alternative is to take her chances with a matchmaking agency’s recommendation and begin correspondence with a handsome farmer.

Leo Weaver is a man of many talents. Hardworking, he’s helped his father develop a successful farm. Loyal and giving, he volunteers as a deputy sheriff. Handsome and charming, he’s about to become the target of several well-meaning ladies in the community who have submitted his name for a new matchmaking venture.

 Willow craves the outdoors. Leo loves community life and wants to live in town. Can a matchmaking agency help two independent people realize the opposing desires of their hearts?

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Kimberly Grist is married to her high school sweetheart, Nelson, a former teacher and coach, now a pastor. They have three adult sons, one with Down syndrome, and they have a passion for encouraging others with family members with special needs.

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a young girl; however, I began writing my first novel in 2017. Inspired by so many things life has to offer, one of which includes our oldest son’s cancer diagnosis, it’s especially gratifying to write a happy ending.

I believe you should come away refreshed and inspired after reading a book. In my personal life, I wear so many hats, working inside and outside the home. I work hard, try harder, and then begin again the next day. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life stinks. Bad things happen. I need and want an outlet, an opportunity to relax and escape to a place where obstacles are met and overcome. My stories are designed to entertain, refresh, and inspire you, the reader. They combine History, Humor, and Romance, with an emphasis on Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.

Links:

Website: https://kimberlygrist.com/

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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.

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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.

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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