Category: Texas History

Law Comes to the Nueces Strip

Texas always has been a rowdy place. In 1822, the original Anglo settlers began trickling into what was then Mexico at the invitation of the Mexican government, which hoped American immigrants would do away with the out-of-control Comanches. Texans dispensed with the Comanches in the 1870s by foisting them off on Oklahoma, but long before that, the Texans ran off the Mexican government.

Republic_of_Texas_labeled_smallFrom 1836 to 1845, Texas looked something like the map at right. The green parts became the Republic of Texas as a result of treaties signed by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana after Sam Houston and his ragtag-but-zealous army caught the general napping at San Jacinto. The treaties set the boundary between Texas and Mexico at the Rio Grande.

This caused a bit of a fuss in the Mexican capital. No matter how embarrassing his situation, Santa Ana did not possess the authority to dispose of large chunks of land with the swipe of a pen. Mexico eventually conceded Texas could have the dark-green part of the map—bounded to the south by the Nueces River, which lies about one hundred fifty miles north of the Rio Grande—but the light-green part still belonged to Mexico.

Arguments ensued.

While Texas and Mexico were studiously avoiding one another in the disputed territory, outlaws, rustlers, and other lawless types moved into the patch between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. After all, no respectable outlaw ever lets a perfectly good blind spot on the law-enforcement radar go to waste. The area, 150 miles wide by about 400 miles long, came to be known as the Nueces Strip.

NuecesStrip_smallIn 1845, the United States annexed all of the land claimed by Texas, including the disputed territory, and came to military blows with Mexico over the insult. By the time the two countries signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 to settle once and for all (sort of) who owned what, the lawless element was firmly entrenched in the strip of cactus and scrub between the Nueces and the Rio Grande. For nearly thirty years, brigands raised havoc—robbing, looting, raping, rustling, and killing—on both sides of the border before retreating to ranchos and other hideouts in the Strip’s no-man’s land.

That began to change in 1875 when Texas Ranger Captain Leander McNelly was charged with bringing order to the southern part of Texas. Newly re-formed after being disbanded for about ten years during the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Rangers were determined to clean up the cesspool harboring notorious toughs like King Fisher and Juan Cortina. With a company of forty handpicked men known as the Special Force, McNelly accomplished his task in two years…in some cases by behaving at least as badly as the outlaws. McNelly was known for brutal—sometimes downright illegal—tactics, including torturing information out of some prisoners and hanging others. He and his men also made a number of unauthorized border crossings in pursuit of rustlers, nearly provoking international incidents.

Nevertheless, the “Little McNellys” got the job done. By the time McNelly was relieved of command and subsequently retired in 1876, the Nueces Strip was a safer place.

McNelly died of consumption in September 1877. Though he remains controversial in some circles, the residents of South Texas raised funds and erected a monument in his honor.

 

 

Great Hanging at Gainesville

newsletter_headerjpg - 2Typewriter and lampLast month, I started work on a new book. A new book means new research. Lots and lots of research. I wanted to create a fictional town set in the Texas panhandle, an area that I haven’t used as a setting before. And I needed to give my heroine backstory, which entailed a different setting, in a city that would have been settled from the time she was a child. Thanks to all the Indian trouble on the west Texas frontier, this was a challenge. But I found my city for her childhood – Gainesville. It had hosted settlers from the 1840’s, old enough not only for my heroine to have grown up there, but for the aunts who raised her to have grown up there as well.

But what I didn’t expect to find as I dug into the history of this town, was a grisly case of a mass hanging back in 1862.

During the Civil War, Texas was a Confederate state. Yet not all of its citizens sided with the confederate cause. Many were more concerned with the Indian threat and the danger of leaving their families unprotected to fight a war far from home.

By 1860 fewer than 10 percent of landowners in Gainesville owned slaves. Yet the large slaveholders were the ones in positions of military power, and thanks to the Butterfield Overland Mail Route opening up and people moving in from abolitionist states, they feared an uprising.

Confederate Flag“Actual opposition to the Confederacy in Cooke County began with the Conscription Acts of April 1862. Thirty men signed a petition protesting the exemption of large slaveholders from the draft and sent it to the Congress at Richmond. Brig. Gen. William Hudson, commander of the militia district around Gainesville, exiled their leader, but others who remained used the petition to enlist a nucleus for a Union League in Cooke and nearby counties. The members were not highly unified, and their purposes differed with each clique. Most joined to resist the draft and provide common defense against roving Indians and renegades. Rumors began to circulate, however, of a membership of over 1,700 and of plans for an assault when the group had recruited enough men. Fearing that the stories of Unionist plots to storm the militia arsenals at Gainesville and Sherman might prove to be true, Hudson activated the state troops in North Texas in late September 1862 and ordered the arrest of all able-bodied men who did not report for duty.” (Handbook of Texas Online)

Texas state troops led by Col. James G. Bourland arrested more than 150 men on the morning of October 1, 1862. In Gainesville, he and Col. William C. Young of the Eleventh Texas Cavalry supervised the collection of a “citizen’s court” of twelve jurors. Bourland and Young together owned nearly a fourth of the slaves in Cooke County, and seven of the jurors chosen were also slaveholders. The prisoners, none of whom owned slaves, were accused of insurrection or treason. The jury condemned seven influential Unionists, but an angry mob took matters into its own hands and lynched fourteen more before the jurors recessed. In retaliation, assassins killed Young and James Dickson. The decision already made to release the rest of the prisoners was reversed, and many were tried again. Nineteen more men were convicted and hanged. Their execution was supervised by Capt. Jim Young, Colonel Young’s son. Forty men in all were hanged, many of whom were innocent of Union sympathies, but were lumped into the group because of their lack of slaves and their desire to avoid the draft. The Great Hanging of Gainesville entered infamy as the largest act of mob violence in American history.

This depiction, from the Feb. 20, 1864, issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, is metaphorical—the victims were actually hanged one or two at a time.

This depiction, from the Feb. 20, 1864, issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, is metaphorical—the victims were actually hanged one or two at a time.

It’s hard to fathom such an atrocity taking place, but it brings to mind the dangers of paranoia and mob mentality. How many good men got caught up in the lynching frenzy only to be plagued with regrets for the rest of their days?

And yet, history unfortunately repeats itself. The riots in Ferguson come to mind. I pray that as we start a new year, that we will remember the dangers of assuming to know the minds of others and standing in harsh judgment, of letting the voice of the many drown out the quieter inner voice that calls for compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. May this be a year of peace.

  • Do you have a goal (resolution) for 2015? I’m still working on the losing weight one that I have every year. Sigh. Maybe this will be the year I finally break through.

Nuns on the Frontier

threesisters

An early re-enactment of the 1869 journey from Galveston to San Antonio undertaken by three Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. The journey resulted in the formation of what is today the largest congregation of women religious in Texas.

When the sun rose on Sept. 9, 1900, the island city of Galveston, Texas, lay in ruins. What would come to be called The Great Storm, a hurricane of massive proportions, had roared ashore from the Gulf of Mexico overnight, sweeping “the Wall Street of the Southwest” from the face of the Earth.

Over the following weeks, rescuers pulled more than 6,000 bodies from the rubble, piled the remains on the beach, and burned them to prevent an outbreak of disease. Among the departed, discovered amid the wreckage of St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum, were the bodies of ninety children ages 2 to 13 and all ten Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. In a valiant, yet ultimately futile, attempt to save the children from floodwaters that rose to twenty feet above sea level, each sister bound six to eight orphans to her waist with a length of clothesline. The lines tangled in debris as the water destroyed the only home some of the children had ever known.

Sister Vincent Cottier and two of her young charges at the orphanage in Galveston. All three perished during The Great Storm of 1900.

Sister Vincent Cottier and two of her young charges at the orphanage in Galveston. All three perished during The Great Storm of 1900.

All that survived of the orphanage were the three oldest boys and an old French seafaring hymn, “Queen of the Waves.” To this day, every Sept. 8 the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word worldwide sing the hymn in honor of the sisters and orphans who died in what remains the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike U.S. soil.

Established in Galveston in 1866 by three Catholic sisters from France, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word is a congregation of women religious. Not technically nuns because they take perpetual simple vows instead of perpetual solemn vows and work among secular society instead of living in seclusion behind cloistered walls, they nevertheless wear habits and bear the title Sister. Today the original congregation is based in Houston, but back then Galveston seemed an ideal spot for the women to build a convent, an orphanage, and a hospital. On January 7, 1867, they opened Nazareth Academy in Victoria, Texas. In 1883, the federal Bureau of Education praised the academy as one of six Texas schools providing “superior instruction of women.” By 1869, the sisters had founded a second congregation in San Antonio. From there, they expanded to other cities in Texas, including Amarillo, and even farther west, all the way to California. In 2014, the sisters operated missions in Ireland, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Kenya in addition to the United States. They continue to operate Nazareth Academy, but as a coeducational school serving children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Two postulants from the Congregation of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, ca. 1890.

Two postulants from the Congregation of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, ca. 1890.

Armed with faith instead of guns, the sisters did their part to civilize Texas’s notoriously wild frontier. They did not do so without significant hardship. Catholics often were not well-tolerated in 19th Century America, although in Galveston the sisters were admired and even loved for their industry and benevolence. That benevolence led to the deaths of two of the original three Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, who perished during Galveston’s yellow fever epidemic of 1867.

As a Galvestonian, the history of the island city and its diverse people fascinates me. I continue to hope for inspiration that will grow into a story set here, where the past overflows with tales of adventure dating back well before the pirate Jean Lafitte built the fortified mansion Maison Rouge on Galveston in 1815. In the meantime, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word provided the inspiration for the heroine in a quick read, The Second-Best Ranger in Texas, which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and .

TheSecond-BestRangerInTexas_200x300

 

A washed-up Texas Ranger. A failed nun with a violent past. A love that will redeem them both.

Thanks so much for stopping by. As a token of my appreciation, I’ll give a copy of The Second-Best Ranger in Texas, in the winner’s choice of e-fomats, to one of today’s commenters.

‘War, War on the Range…’ – Texas Range Wars

Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word—

Hold up there just a cotton-picking minute. What gave anyone that idea? “Discouraging,” my hind leg. Nineteenth-century Lone Star language could get downright inflammatory, especially on the range.

Take these four Texas quarrels, for example.

Texas Vigilantes

Texas vigilantes, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 12, 1881 (public domain)

Regulator-Moderator War, 1839-1844
Also called the Shelby County War, the first major battle to pit Texan against Texan erupted in the eastern part of the newly minted republic. The whole thing started with a land dispute between a rancher and the county sheriff. The sheriff called for help from the leader of a lynch-happy anti-rustling vigilante bunch known as the Regulators, and the rancher soon thereafter shook hands with Saint Peter. The Moderators, a group of anti-vigilante vigilantes who called the Regulators terrorists, jumped into the fray, and before anyone knew what was up, a judge, a sheriff, and a senator died and homes burned in four counties. After a gun battle between 225 Moderators and 62 Regulators near Shelbyville, Sam Houston himself rode in with the militia and suggested both groups shake hands and go on about their business before he lost his temper.

Texas cowboys, circa 1880

Texas cowboys, circa 1880 (public domain)

Hoodoo War, 1874-1876
Also called the Mason County War, this Reconstruction-Era Hill Country dust-up over dead and disappearing cattle pitted Union-supporting German immigrants against born-and-bred, former-Confederate Texans. A lynch mob of forty Germans lit the match when they dragged five Texans accused of cattle rustling from jail and executed three of them before the county sheriff, elected by the Germans, reluctantly put a stop to the proceedings. In a sterling display of what can happen when a Texas Ranger goes bad, a vigilante gang led by a former Ranger embarked upon a series of retaliatory attacks against the German community. At least a dozen men died before still-commissioned Rangers restored order. Johnny Ringo spent two years in jail for his role on the side of the Texans, only to end up on the wrong end of Wyatt Earp’s good nature five years later in Tombstone, Arizona.

"Them Three Mexicans is Eliminated," Frederic Remington, 1897 (public domain)

“Them Three Mexicans is Eliminated,” Frederic Remington, 1897 (public domain)

El Paso Salt War, 1877
The only time in history Texas Rangers surrendered happened in the tiny town of San Elizario, near El Paso. An increasingly volatile disagreement over rights to mine salt in the Guadalupe Mountains began in the 1860s and finally boiled over in September 1877. A former district attorney, intent on laying claim to the salt flats, rather flagrantly murdered his political rival, who had insisted the flats were public property and the valuable salt could be mined by anyone. The dead man’s supporters, primarily Tejano salt miners, revolted. A group of twenty hastily recruited Ranger stand-ins rushed to the rescue, only to barricade themselves inside the Catholic church in a last-ditch effort to keep the instigator alive long enough to stand trial. Five days later they admitted defeat and surrendered to the mob, who killed the accused murderer, chopped up his body, and threw the pieces down a well. Then the rioters disarmed the Ranger puppies and kicked them out of town.

Fort Bend County Courthouse where the violence took place, 1889 (public domain)

Fort Bend County Courthouse where the violence took place, 1889 (public domain)

Jaybird-Woodpecker War, 1888-1889
The last major set-to in Texas took place in Fort Bend County, near Houston. The liberal-Republican Woodpeckers, mostly former slaves, swept the county election in 1884. The conservative-Democrat Jaybirds, primarily white former Confederates, opposed such inconsiderate behavior for racist reasons. After Woodpeckers swept every office again in the 1888 election, retaliatory violence on both sides resulted in the deaths of several people. During the Battle of Richmond—a twenty-minute gunfight inside the county courthouse in August 1889—four men, including the sheriff, were killed. The Jaybirds won the fracas, and with the assistance of Governor Sul Ross’s declaration of martial law, seized control of county government. Jaybirds forcibly ousted every elected Woodpecker and proceeded to disenfranchise black voters until 1953, when the Supreme Court put a stop to the whites-only voting shenanigans. Intermittent Jaybird-Woodpecker violence lopped over into 1890, when a white Woodpecker tax assessor, accused of murdering a white Jaybird who had been his political opponent, was gunned down in Galveston before he could be tried for the alleged crime.

 

I hope everyone’s holidays are shaping up to be much more peaceful than some of Texas’s merriest and brightest moments. To help with that, I’ll give an e-copy of Wild Texas Christmas to one of today’s commenters. The anthology of five Christmas romances set in the Old West will bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.

Available in paperback and e-book

Available in paperback and e-book

Available in paperback and e-book

Available in paperback and e-book

 

Just Take Them Sheep Right on Outta Here

Texans are resilient. They defeated the Mexicans—twice—took a beating during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and then chased the Comanche clean out of the state and into Oklahoma. All of those events were watershed moments in Texas history.

And so was the day they came.

ThePlainsHerder_NCWyeth_1909

The Plains Herder, NC Wyeth, 1909

Sheep. Hundreds of thousands of them, munching their way across the land like wooly locusts. The sight of a single woolyback could boil a cattleman’s blood. The critters trampled the range, close-cropped the forage, and left behind an odor neither cattle nor man could abide. They also carried a type of mange called “sheep scab” to which cattle were susceptible.

As if all of that weren’t enough, pastores herded on foot, not horseback. Horses were a status symbol in the Old West. Cowboys figuratively and literally “looked down on” mutton-punchers.

Sheep are not native to Texas, although they’ve been in the state since padres brought Spanish transplants with them in the 1700s. Since the animals provided both food and clothing, no mission was without a flock.

In 1800, 5,000 head of sheep lived in far south Texas, along the Rio Grande. By 1870, 700,000 woolies had moved in, primarily with Germans and other Europeans who immigrated to central and western Texas. By 1890, the state was home to 3.5 million of the critters. Of the 30 million sheep in the U.S. in the middle of the twentieth century, one-third were in Texas. At that time, the state produced 95 percent of the country’s Merino wool.

Due to market fluctuations, drought, and some disastrous government programs, in 2012 the entire ovine population of the U.S. stood at only 5.345 million; 650,000 of those, still the largest bunch by more than 100,000 animals, were in Texas. To this day, mutton, lamb, and wool make a significant contribution to Texas’s economy.

SheepRaidInColorado

Sheep Raid (Harper’s Weekly, Oct. 1877)

Ranchers in the mid- to late-1800s never would have believed such a thing possible. In fact, they went to great lengths to prevent the possibility. The notorious clashes between sheepmen and cattlemen that scarred the entire West began on the Charles Goodnight range in Texas. Between 1875 and 1920, one hundred twenty serious confrontations occurred in Texas, Arizona, Wyoming, and Colorado. Across the four states, at least fifty-four men died and 100,000 sheep were slaughtered.

Real and imagined problems led to the sheep wars. Texas cattlemen already were becoming testy with one another over grazing and water rights. Add sheep—which, as a means of finding other flock members, scent the ground with a noxious substance excreted by a gland above their hooves—and the range got a little smaller. Add sheep “drifters,” who grazed their flocks on other folks’ land or public property because they owned no territory of their own, and the situation became volatile. Add barbed-wire fence…and everything exploded.

The Texas legislature outlawed grazing sheep on private range without permission and on public land at all. Cattle and horses faced no such restrictions. Consequently, sheepmen were among the first to throw up fences in order to keep their flocks in and other animals out. Sheep fences lit one of the first matches in what became the Texas Fence-Cutter War, which erupted across more than half the state for about a decade starting in the 1870s. The cattlemen erected their own fences, and soon everyone was at someone else’s throat. The fence war died down, for the most part, when the state legislature criminalized fence-cutting in 1884.

Merino_Sheep

Texas Merino Sheep, courtesy Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Not long thereafter, most Texas cattlemen were shocked—and somewhat relieved—to discover good fences make good neighbors. They also discovered mutton and wool sold even when a mysterious disease known as Texas Fever made driving cattle to the railheads in other states well-nigh impossible.

Today, many Texas ranchers run sheep and goats right along with their cattle, and all the critters get along just fine on the same property.

Of course, had stubborn Texans on both sides of the fence paid attention to the native Indians who’d run cattle and sheep together for a hundred years before the trouble started, they might have spared themselves considerable aggravation.

In my debut novel Prodigal Gun, sheep and a barbed-wire fence touch off a war in the Texas Hill Country, bringing an infamous gunman home for the first time since he left to fight for the Confederacy. The book releases tomorrow in both paperback and digital versions, but it’s available for pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and .

There’s an autographed print copy up for grabs! I’ll let Random.org draw a winner from among those who are kind enough to comment today. Please leave me a way to get in touch.

PGCover_v3A dangerous man. A desperate woman. A love no war could kill.

Widowed rancher Jessie Caine buried her heart with the childhood sweetheart Yankees killed on a distant battlefield. Sixteen years later, as a Texas range war looms and hired guns arrive to pursue a wealthy carpetbagger’s agenda, Jessie discovers the only man she ever loved isn’t dead.

At least not yet.

Embittered by a brother’s betrayal, notorious gunman Calhoun is a dangerous man, come home to do an unsavory job. A bushwhacker’s bullet nearly takes his life on Jessie’s land, trapping him in a standoff between the past he tried to bury and the infamy he never will. One taste of the only woman he ever loved puts more than his life and her ranch in the crossfire.

With a price on his head, a debt to a wealthy employer around his neck, and a defiant woman tugging at his heart, Calhoun’s guns may not be enough to keep him from the grave. Caught between his enemies and hers, Jessie faces an agonizing choice: Which of her dreams will die?

On a Wheel and a Prayer

MargaretBrownley-header

“What was it about yesterday that made you think

I was a gentleman, Miss Blackwell?” 

                                                                                                                           -A Bicycle Built for Two

When you think of the old west, bicycles probably don’t come to mind. I mean can you honestly picture John Wayne chasing down bad guys on a tricycle  or boneshaker? Yet, the bicycle craze that hit the country in the 1890s was just as prevalent in the west as it was in the east.

 

bicyle

The new craze not only changed the way people got around, but also the economy. An editorial in the Fort Macleod Gazette in the early 1890s stated, “If this craze for bicycle riding continues much longer our livery stable men will have to close down.” The same lament could be heard from hatters, dressmakers and carriage workers.

Not only did cowboys, sheriffs and outlaws join the wheeling club, but so did women

One Texas newspaper in 1895 issued this warning regarding female bicycle riders: “We have been watching the course of events with breathless anxiety and Nebuchadnezzar himself never saw the handwriting on the wall more distinctly than we see it now. The bloomer is coming sure enough.”

 

One Kansas newspaper lamented that “Women wear their trowserettes even when their machines are left at home.”  While bikes1jpgsome were criticizing women’s attire others like Susan B. Anthony declared bicycles “Have done more than anything else in the world to emancipate women.”

Head over Handlebars

Bloomers aside, muddy dirt roads and wooden sidewalks made for a wild ride. Newspapers regularly reported people taking a “scorcher” and “being knocked senseless” or “carrying an arm in a sling.”

 

One Texas town responded by adopting the following regulations:

          1.Anyone riding a tricycle or relocopede must be supplied with a bell or horn that must be rung at all crossings.
          2.Any persons riding a tricycle at night must have a suitable lantern.
          3. It is especially prohibited for three or more riders to ride abreast
          4. No person or persons shall rest their bicycle, velocipede, or tricycle against a building (including saloons) where the vehicle will be on sidewalks

 

Some cities imposed a speed limit in town, usually four miles an hour. Fines could be as high as twenty-five dollars. The ordinances created as many problems as they prevented. Not only was there suddenly a shortage of cowbells but the noise created by them posed another problem.

 

It wasn’t just riders that gave sheriffs and marshals a headache, but a new kind of outlaw—a bicycle thief. Bicycles were also used as getaways and one thief led his pursuers on a merry chase through Sacramento.

 

Hold on to Your Stetsons

An Arizona Territory newspaper reported that cowboys in Three Rivers, Michigan “have discarded their horses for bicycles in herding cattle. Cowboys in Arizona would have a happy time herding cattle on bicycles.”

 

Cattle didn’t always take kindly to bicycles as one doctor found out when he unexpectedly ran into a herd of cattle. He ended up with a broken shoulder blade and his $100 bike in ruins. Things got so bad that some insurance companies announced they would charge double for bikers.

 

Some lawmen like Arizona Sheriff Donahue decided to fight fire with fire and announced that he was the proud owner of a “handsome nickel-plated bicycle” and was in negotiations to purchase a Ferris wheel bike for his under-sheriff.  John Wayne will never know what he missed.

 

I don’t know how it is where you live but the bicycle craze has hit my town big time and I recently caught my husband drooling over a $1000 bike. How are wheeling conditions in your town and have you joined the pack?

 New on Amazon today!

BicycleBuiltForTwo

To order click cover

A Bicycle Built for Two

Everything goes to hades in a handbasket when Damian Newcastle rides into Amanda’s life.

No one can pedal a bicycle around turn-of-the-century New York without a license, so Amanda Blackwell’s cycling school has become all the rage. The innovative establishment provides an income for the independent miss and her brother Donny, a special child. But in one afternoon, everything goes to hade in a handbasket. Amanda’s uncle is suing to put Donny into an institution and Damian Newcastle, the man she has every reason to hate, rides into her life to ruin everything.

 

Updated: September 21, 2014 — 8:52 am

Marital Abuse in the 1800s & Big Cover Reveal

LindaI can think of nothing more shameful or heartbreaking than violence against women. Until the late 1800s a wife had few rights, especially in Texas. The law didn’t see wife-beating as a crime. Husbands could pretty well do as they wanted without fear of arrest. My source said that Maryland was the first state to pass a law making this an actual crime. That was in 1882.

In my book that is coming out in January, the first of my Bachelors of Battle Creek series entitled TEXAS MAIL ORDER BRIDE, a secondary character, Jenny Barclay, suffers a horrendous beating  by her husband and she subsequently loses the baby she was carrying. Although it’s not viewed as a crime in Texas, the sheriff arrests him and puts him in jail even though he knows he can hold him longer for being drunk than he can for beating his wife.  

Mail Order BrideMy hero, Cooper Thorne, isn’t about to the man get away with it. When Cooper catches the sheriff out, he goes in and drags Jenny’s husband kicking and screaming from his cell. I won’t go into what Cooper does when he gets him outside of town, but he does get justice for Jenny.

The book will release on January 6, 2015. It’s available for preorder now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million plus a few other places. Reserve your copy today.

THE BLURB FROM THE BACK COVER:

“So beautiful. You make it impossible to think.” He pulled her against him and found her mouth. “You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to do this.”

When he let her up for air, she whispered as though she couldn’t trust her voice, “Is this another Texas custom?”

“Absolutely,” he growled. “Welcome to Texas.”

Rancher Cooper Thorne thinks his life is finally on an even keel—until Delta Dandridge steps off the stagecoach claiming to be his mail order bride. Brash and quick-witted, the meddling Southern Belle is everything Cooper thought he never wanted…and everything his heart is telling him he needs.

But Cooper swore long ago that he’d never marry, and he aims to keep his word…especially now that the demons from his past have returned to threaten everything—and everyone—he holds dear.

* * *

I’m so excited that the release date is getting closer. I’ll talk more about this book in the coming months. I think the cover is simply gorgeous. What about you?  
Updated: August 20, 2014 — 8:33 am

WILDCATTERS! by Tessa Berkley

Tessa 2 LordHeartless

The Fillies are happy to have Tessa Berkley come and chat with us. She’s such a delightful guest.

 

 

 

As a writer, I love how inspiration sometimes pulls from the truth to find the perfect solution for a story. I’ve been doing some work on a modern historical. I suppose since we’ve turned the corner some 15 years on the new century it would still be considered a historical. My focus has been on the early history of oil in Texas and the wildcatters who made up the work force. Little did these men realize their efforts to bring black gold or Texas ‘T’ to the surface would bring a huge change and usher in the modern age with one determined individual, Captain Anthony Lucas.

TESSA BERKLEY Spindletop_gusher_smlLucas served in the Austrian Navy and was a trained engineer as well as a salt miner. He’d worked for the Gladys City Gas, Oil, and Manufacturing under Patillo Higgins who believed there was oil beneath the salt dome in an area near Beaumont, Texas. Drilling was hard in Texas. Sand made up most of the soil instead of the rock formations most drillers had experienced in the Pennsylvania oil fields. Anyone who has gone to the beach and dug deep into the sand understands the ease in which such loose grains can create cave ins. Ingenuity was the mother of invention, one of men under Lucas suggested pumping water into the hole thus stabilizing it. After two months of drilling and facing setbacks, on January 10th, 1901, the men found oil in a small place called Spindle Top, which will be the setting for my novella coming early next year.

My hero, Chase, is Clark Gable in disguise. No, not Rhett Butler, but the Gable seen in It Happened One Night. And yes, he is ruggedly handsome! Deep down, he believes there is oil beneath the salt lined sand on the St. James ranch.

TESSA 2 Clark-Gable-in-It-Happened-One-Night-clark-gable-15582513-1067-800

My heroine, Lucy St. James, is the cynic. She’s the one that doesn’t believe in the new-fangled automobile, that fouls the air and frightens cattle and horses. She fights him tooth and nail to get him to see the error of his ways.

Of course, there are scally wags, cheats, and unscrupulous men who will dare to try and take advantage of them, but we all know its romance and where would we be without that happily ever after. I guess you are wondering how and why I began this little piece with the idea of inspiration pulling from real life. Oddly, Lucy’s father who plays a part in pulling the two together is named Lucas. Did I know about his finding oil at Spindle Top? Nope, not until after the first forty pages were done. Muses, God bless em.

TESSA BERKLEYEBarry Fitzgerald my pic for Lucas St. James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment and have a chance to win my latest ebook historical release, Lord Heartless.
Tessa Berkley

Tessa Berkley loves to hear from readers. You can find her on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tessa.berkley.7

or at her web page http://tessaberkley.wix.com/tessaberkleyromance

 

 

Pirates in Texas?

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Jean LafitteWhen you think of Texas outlaws, you probably think of stagecoach robberies or cattle rustling. Gritty men with bandana-covered faces and revolvers in their hands. You probably don’t picture the man off to the right. But as it turns out, Texas was home to one of the most famous pirates of the 19th century – Jean Lafitte.

Jean Lafitte was a French pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his brother ran a successful smuggling operation from an island in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay until the American authorities invaded in 1814 and seized most of his fleet. Always ready to make a deal, Lafitte agreed to help General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British attack of 1815 in exchange for a pardon, thus beginning his more honest career as a privateer. Once pardoned, Lafitte moved his base of operations to Galveston Island, Texas where he set up a pirate colony called Campeche.

Well, when I learned this fascinating tidbit, I knew I had to find a way to work this pirate angle into one of my books. Full Steam Ahead proved the perfect place.

In my story, my heroine’s grandfather, Henri Renard served with Lafitte in his privateering efforts and in the course of events, saved the pirate’s life by taking a bullet meant for Lafitte. Lafitte rewards his valor with the gift of his personal, jeweled dagger.

The Lafitte Dagger became the Renard family legacy handed down from father to son. It became a symbol of honor and loyalty, and over time its legend grew. Over the next few decades Galveston underwent great political turmoil – going from Mexican rule through the Texas Revolution; it became an independent republic; then joined the union as a state – and through it all, Renard Shipping flourished. People began to believe that whoever possessed Lafitte’s dagger would find prosperity in the port of Galveston that he established.

When a rival shipping owner sets out to steal the dagger, Nicole Renard, as the only heir to the Renard line, takes the dagger and flees Galveston in an effort to protect her ailing father. Only, instead of escaping to New Orleans to meet up with trusted family friends, she is forced to take a Cutthroat-Island-geena-davisdetour up the Trinity River and ends up on the same plantation as Darius Thornton, an obsessed scientist investigating steam engine boilers. Adventure, romance, and many explosions ensue.

I had a lot of fun giving my heroine several unexpected pirate-y traits, too. (Watch out for her knife skills…)

  • So what are some of your favorite pirate movies?

Anyone remember the old Gina Davis pirate film Cutthroat Island? She made a great female pirate. Loved that one!

What Did That Say?

Those of you  who’ve read my blogs for any length of time know I love history. I not only enjoy writing about the past, but researching those bits and pieces that make the historical story I’m working on more realistic, interesting and accurate. I’ve been known to lose myself for hours down the “research rabbit hole.”

I’ve found many ways to research. Of course, I can spend hours in a library, hunting through books. Or online, looking for one particular fact. But my favorite type of research is the kind I didn’t plan, those you find in—or are sent from—unexpected places.

You’ve probably had the same experience. You stop to grab lunch at a restaurant off the freeway and discover the nearby town has, for more than a hundred years, hosted a festival in celebration of prickly pears. Or that there is a fully restored Civil War-Salt War markerera mental hospital only a few blocks away.

In my road trips to research a story, I’ve come across some fun facts. Did you know there was a salt war in Texas? Neither did I until I saw the roadside historical marker on my way to Jack County, TexasSt Louis Arch

Were you aware there was a Revolutionary War battle in St. Louis, Missouri? That’s right, halfway up the mighty Mississippi. The Battle of Fort San Carlos was fought when British-led Sioux, Sac, Fox, and Winnebago warriors attacked a newly built French entrenchment in May of 1780. That historical fact came from a local newspaper article my mother forwarded to me.

Ever heard of Crash, Texas? It’s a town that was built for the express purpose of allowing spectators to witness a train crash up close and personal. A friend sent me that news story. I did a blog on that for P&P – CLICK HERE.

Pony Express RiderThen there’s the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race, begun in 1848 and revived in 1977. I found out about it when researching the coach stops along the Santa Fe Trail after visiting the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Do you read the footnotes and attributions at the end of a historical research article? Or you might take a stroll through the archived blogs right here at Petticoats & Pistols –the Fillies have shared some wonderful research.

I love running across obscure information while I’m researching something else. And you can find some of the most interesting—and mostly useless—tidbits in some unlikely places. ebay® is one place that surprised me. I found some cool info on china and crystal and Texas artifacts there once when researching for a story.

What’s the most unusual fact you discovered in an unlikely place?

PRPLassoing a Groom WebI’ll give away an e-book of Lassoing a Groom to one person who leaves a comment.

 

LASSOING A GROOM
How is a woman supposed to catch a husband? In the wild, wild west, she’s got to find a way to Lasso a Groom! Some of them are lawmen…some are outlaws. Ranchers and homesteaders are fair game, as well—none of ’em safe from love’s lariat, or the women who finally manage to rope ’em in!

WANTED: THE SHERIFF by Tracy Garrett 
He’s a confirmed bachelor…but she’ll capture his heart. 

 

www.TracyGarrett.com