The Oldest Continuously Run Library in Texas

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

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

Here is what it looks like today.

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











Here’s a lovely view from the stage.

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

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

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











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

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

What is something you love about your local library?

The Little Cannon That Started A Revolution

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

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

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

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

A Symbol of Defiance

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

Envision the Standoff

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

The Skirmish

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

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

Ripples of Revolution

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

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


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

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


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



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

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

Always Time For Hope

Yes, indeed there’s always time for hope and the holidays always fill my heart to the brim. I’m so looking forward to Christmas. The last few weeks I’ve felt fall in the air and it’s made the anxiousness even worse. We’ve gotten so much good rain and I feel very blessed.

HOPE’S ANGEL came out last year about this time and is set in the fictional town of Genesis where the real town of Thurber, Texas once was a thriving community. It contained the only coal mine in the state and it was also the only company run town. It was owned by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company. Nothing was free enterprise, not even the doctor. Everyone was paid in company script that could only be spent in the company store.

My fictional hero, Jericho Cane, lives there and he and his partner sell beef to the company to feed the miners. But Jericho never steps foot out of his house until after everyone goes to sleep. He suffered a horrible accident that’s left him horribly scarred so townsfolk call him a monster. He only goes out under cover of darkness.

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

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

I wrote the first five chapters of this story eight years ago and set it aside when I began writing for Sourcebooks. I ran across it recently and decided to finish and self-publish it. This story of acceptance and compassion needs to be read.

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

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

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

Jericho Cane and Irish doctor Kathleen O’Shea have quite a story to tell and I hope you enjoy it. This sweet romance is $2.99 in Kindle Unlimited and the print book is $9.99.

If you haven’t gotten in the holiday spirit yet, maybe this will do it. I know a good many of you read Christmas books all year and that’s good. I’ll have this available in Audible next month so look for that.

How do you choose which holiday stories to read? Christmas in the title, the cover, the price, or by the author? I’m giving away three ebook copies so don’t forget to leave a comment.

Linda Broday

Debra Holt – Celebrating Texas Heritage and a giveaway!

Debra Holt

The Lone Star State of Love: Celebrating Texas Heritage

Texas heritage is a rich tapestry woven with threads of vibrant cultures, gritty resilience, and larger-than-life legends. From its early beginnings under Spanish and Mexican rule to the Battle of the Alamo and its vital role in the Civil War, Texas has consistently been at the crossroads of defining moments in history.

The Echo of the Cowboy

If you listen close enough, you can still hear the echo of the cowboy through the ages, a testament to our enduring ranching culture. Imagine the silhouette of a lone rider against the setting sun, the vast expanses of untamed land stretching as far as the eye can see, and the camaraderie around a campfire under the star-spangled sky. It’s a heritage we wear with pride, like a pair of well-worn boots or a trusty Stetson hat, reminders of a legacy that’s as timeless as the Texas soil itself.

The Power of the Pigskin

The spirit of Texas isn’t confined to ranches and prairies; it also roars to life on the football field. Our love for football, whether it’s the Friday night lights of high school games or the big leagues of the Dallas Cowboys, is as fiery as a summer scorcher. It’s more than just a sport, y’all; it’s a testament to the grit, teamwork, and resilience that’s deep in the heart of every Texan.

The Thrill of the Rodeo

And, let’s not forget the thrill of the rodeo, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in particular. From the heart-stopping rodeo events to the celebration of our agricultural roots, it’s a spectacle that brings to life the unbroken connection between the Texas of yesteryears and the Texas of today.

The Song of Our Soil

Speaking of traditions, our land itself sings the songs of our heritage. The state’s varied landscapes, from the Piney Woods in the east to the desert mountains in the west, are each a testament to our rich culture and history. They whisper the tales of the Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and pioneers who traversed and tamed these lands.


Texas’s musical heritage is a symphony that resonates far beyond its borders. Home to legends like Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, and Beyoncé, the state’s music encompasses a broad spectrum from country and blues to Tejano, rock ‘n’ roll, and hip-hop. The city of Austin, dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World,” embodies this rich musical tradition.

The Heat and Heart of Texas Cuisine

Food culture in Texas is a tantalizing fusion of flavors, showcasing its multicultural heritage. The state is famous for its mouth-watering barbecues, sizzling Tex-Mex, spicy chili, and delicate Gulf Coast seafood. And who can resist the allure of the State Fair of Texas, home to a cornucopia of unique treats?

The Texas Cowboy’s Rescue

Now, I’m here to share with y’all the third installment of my Texas Heritage Series, “The Texas Cowboy’s Rescue,” which is more than just a love story. It’s a celebration of our Texas heritage. You’ll journey into the heart of our state, from the sprawling cattle ranches to the rustic charm of our small towns.

I’m giving away an ebook copy of this book to one lucky person who comments below.

Texas isn’t just a backdrop for our story; it’s a character, a living, breathing entity that shapes our lovers and their destiny. It’s the beating heart of our Texas heritage and a testament to the magic that can happen when we honor where we’ve come from.

What’s your favorite part of Texas history?

Drop by and chat! I can’t wait to talk to you!

Bringing Annie Oakley to Texas

When we were first brainstorming ideas for what would become the Pink Pistol Sisterhood series, it seemed only natural to look to a 19th century woman famous for both her marksmanship and her femininity as inspiration. When we learned of Annie Oakley’s passion for teaching other ladies how to defend themselves, we knew we had a foundation upon which to build.

It is estimated that Annie Oakley taught more that 15,000 women how to shoot over the course of her lifetime!

My heroine, Tessa James, seeks lessons from the great Annie Oakley, and I have to tell you that writing such a legend into my story was both daunting and incredibly fun.
Since my heroine lives in Caldwell, Texas, I needed to find a way to bring Annie to the Lone Star State. The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago had just concluded. Annie had performed alongside the World’s Fair with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. This had been a long engagement, so I thought it possible that Annie and her husband Frank Butler might be in the mood for a change of scenery. Why not bring them to the south, and to Texas in particular? I found documentation that Buffalo Bill brought his western extravaganza to Texas in 1900, so perhaps this could have been an early scouting trip by one of his headliners.
Annie and Frank made their living through their own shooting exhibitions when they weren’t traveling with Buffalo Bill. So as all fiction authors do, I began asking What if? What if Annie and Frank decided to visit the Texas state capital and put on an exhibition while there? What if Annie agreed to give shooting lessons to any females who stayed after the performance?
Now that I had Annie coming to Texas, I needed to find a place for her to perform. My research led me to the perfect place–Hyde Park Pavilion.
Hyde Park was the first suburban development in Austin. Streetcar service made it possible for people to settle in this quiet, rural area. Before the area was developed with Craftsman houses and shady lanes, though, it was an area famous for recreation. The Texas State Fair used the area as its fairgrounds from 1875-1884. The flat terrain made it ideal for racing, so the Capital Jockey Association set up a racecourse there that became known as “the finest in the South.” The state militia used the area for training and drills during its summer encampments and drew crowds numbering in the thousands.
The State Lunatic Asylum had been built on these grounds in 1861, and during the 1870’s, they embarked on a beautification project that created 600 yards of scenic drives and a chain of lakes and lily ponds. Following this beautification, the asylum grounds became a favorite place for courting couples. Buggy drives and picturesque strolls became the norm. And when a large pavilion was constructed by Gem Lake in 1892, this became one of the most popular resorts in Austin.
The pavilion played host to concerts, plays, dances, and hosts of other entertainment. It seemed the perfect location for Annie Oakley to perform. I found a great photograph to help me picture what a turn-of-the-century crowd might have looked like at the Hyde Park Pavilion.
I had Annie perform inside the pavilion, where a crowd could watch in comfort, but the lessons she gave to Tessa and the other ladies happened on the lawn area that stretched wide on the side opposite the lake.
Who knew that the grounds of a lunatic asylum would provide the perfect setting for Annie Oakley to meet my heroine?

Click on cover to preorder.

In Her Sights is now available for preorder and early reviews are coming in. Here is what some readers are saying on Goodreads:

This book hits all of the right notes. It was sweet, it was funny, it had likeable characters who were easy to root for, and I was grinning like an idiot almost the whole time I was reading it.
Tessa and Jackson are delightfully perfect for one another . . . Tessa’s plan to catch Jackson’s attention is priceless and I laughed at the whole scene behind the old school.
I loved Every. Single. Thing. about this novella! As usual, Karen Witemeyer hooks you from the beginning with memorable characters and a enduring storyline.
Hilarious! What a delightful, comic, and inspirational love story! Ms. Witemeyer has delivered a great story with characters I would like to know. . . Can’t wait for the next book!
If you lived in Austin, Texas at the turn-of-the-century,
would you have wanted to go courting on the grounds of a lunatic asylum?

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?

Samuel Walker and a Little Bit of History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Texas Ranching History – by Debra Holt

“Other states are carved or born;

Texas grew from hide and horn.”

                                            — Bertha Hart Nance, 1932


Texas ranching has a long and storied history. Its roots go back to 1493 when Christopher Columbus made his second visit to Hispaniola. He brought with him several head of cattle, who were the ancestors of the Texas Longhorns bred throughout the state today.

The 16th and 17th centuries saw cattle ranching advance through Mexico and into modern-day Texas. The first cattle ranch was found in the El Paso region, where several thousand cattle were raised. These early ranches were formed by Spanish missionaries; private ranches would arise in the mid-18th century.

The Mexican War of Independence destroyed the Spanish missionary ranches. The Austin colony was formed at the end of the war, attracting Anglos to come stake a claim on the land and the cattle on it. They brought their eastern cattle to breed with the Spanish cattle, and the result was the Texas Longhorn.

The U.S. annexed Texas in 1845, and it spread out land for railways and new settlements. There was plenty of land to go around, and the demand grew high for beef. The cowboy system we’ve come to hold so dear began around this time.

It wasn’t just men who worked on the ranches; women were important to ranch operations, too. One woman, a former slave named Julia Blanks, helped with roundups, planted crops, raised up animals, and helped with the cooking during roundups on the Adams Ranch.

Her daughters followed in her footsteps — “My oldest girl used to take the place of a cowboy, and put her hair up in her hat. And ride! My goodness, she loved to ride.”

The first woman who led a cattle drive was Margaret Borland. After her husband passed, she became the sole owner of the Victoria ranch and 8,000 longhorns. Six years later, she had 10,000 cattle in her care. In 1873, she became the first female trail boss, leading 2,500 longhorns, her three children, and several cowboys up the Chisholm Trail into Kansas.

In recent years, ranches have had to adopt newer ways of bringing income, as the cost of cattle and maintaining the land has risen. The historic YO Ranch let its land for hunting and outdoor recreation. The Matador Ranch soon followed suit.

This past spring, the last ‘grande dame’ of the Texas ranching world was laid to rest. And last month, one of the few remaining ranching ‘empires’ went on the chopping block.

I call it a chopping block because here in Texas, far too many of our great and historic ranches have been sold to the highest bidder (usually someone residing outside the country, let alone the state) and chopped up into smaller pieces, the land and its resources plumbed until nothing worth anything remains, and a vital chapter of our Texas heritage and history has been wiped clean.

This sad fate of a place I consider to be a bit of Texas heaven inspired this story and this series — the Texas Heritage series.

In the first book, The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal, we meet the two granddaughters of Sarah McNamara Burkitt…Laurel Annabella and Samantha Josefina. The heroine of this first book will be Samantha, aka Sammi Jo. She has just been handed a hard blow when her older sister shares the finer points of their grandmother’s will.


Stop a minute and comment about a piece of your heritage that still impacts your life today.

One lucky commenter will receive a free copy of The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal!

Purchase The Texas Cowboy’s Proposal here

Find Debra online at her website here

Guest Author Amanda Cabot – Did You Know?

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


The Spark of Love



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


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


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


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



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



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Fort Worth Stockyards

I wrote a blog here a while back about things to do around Dallas. One of those were the Fort worth Stockyards. Well, I can’t very well recommend somewhere I’ve never been, right? The grandkids were visiting from Panama (and getting vaccinated-dual citizens!), so we went on a day trip.

Wow, there’s something there for everyone!

First recommendation – go in early spring or fall – it gets hot there! Second, go early. We got there early enough to snag a shady parking spot, and started wandering.

Tons of shopping! Everything from tourist-trap stuff to really top end boots and attire. These guys were outside one shop, and I was tempted to take one home – instead, settled for the perfect coaster for my desk!

Then we sat on a bench beside the brick of Exchange Avenue, and waited for the cowboys to drive a herd of longhorns past! (happens daily at 11:30 & 4:00) I don’t know if you’ve ever been close to a longhorn, but they are HUGE!

They also had one saddled and standing in the shade that you could get on and grab a photo, but none of us were tempted.

We wandered, and every fifty feet or so there are stars in the sidewalk, like in Hollywood, but they’re for cowboys (and women) that helped settle the west, Western actors, even the cattle trails had one.

After a delicious lunch at Shake Shack (Didn’t know there was one in Texas!), we set off again.

Next stop, Cowtown Coliseum. They have rodeos there every Friday and Saturday night, and the kids would have loved to have seen one, but there just wasn’t time, this trip. But it’s open to the public every day, and there are still things to see there, including Sancho of the curly horns.

It’s also home to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame – I had a blast finding all the bullriders I’ve followed for years, including the King of the Cowboys, Ty Murray. But it wasn’t only just cowboys – rodeo stock (bucking horses and bulls) are represented too!

Next stop, The John Wayne Museum. It was closed, but we went in the gift shop, and I couldn’t believe it! There was Trigger and Bullet! For you youngsters, that was Roy Rogers’ horse and Dog, from his TV show. I’d seen them at the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, Ca, decades before, and it was like seeing slightly macabre old friends!




On the way out, I couldn’t resist – I had to get on the bucking machine. Mind you, it was NOT moving. Trust me, getting up on that thing was hard enough – a sure sign I’m too old for it, but I had to get a photo!

All in all, a great, fun day – I highly recommend it! You can learn more of the details of what to do there, here.

If you make it there, send me a photo of YOU on the bucking bull!