Black Jack Ketchum: An Outlaw Meets a Gruesome End

Kathleen Rice Adams header

“Can’t you hurry this up a bit? I hear they eat dinner in Hades at twelve sharp, and I don’t aim to be late.” —Black Jack Ketchum

"Black Jack" Ketchum as a young man. (Image: University of New Mexico)
Black Jack Ketchum as a young man. (Image: University of New Mexico)

Whether or not he aimed to be late, Thomas Edward “Black Jack” Ketchum missed the dinner bell by more than an hour on April 26, 1901. In fact, his original 9 a.m. appointment on the gallows was delayed by more than four hours while authorities tried to ensure Ketchum’s execution was both humane and permanent.

They got the permanent part right.

Ketchum, the youngest of five children, was born in San Saba County, Texas, on Halloween 1863. His father, a prosperous farmer, died when Black Jack was five years old; his mother when he was ten. Because the family’s property went to the eldest son, Black Jack and his other brother, Sam, made their living cowboying in Texas. The work never suited either of them. By 1890, both had left the state.

By 1892, they were robbing trains.

Together with a gang of other young men—all of whom were described as well-mannered and well-dressed, riding good horses, and flashing plenty of money—between 1892 and 1899 the Ketchum gang liberated payrolls and other large sums of cash from trains passing through the Four Corners area of the Southwest. In 1895 and 1896, the gang included Kid Curry and his brother Lonnie Curry, who reportedly departed after a dispute over the division of proceeds from a holdup.

(Image: Herzstein Memorial Museum, Union County, New Mexico)
(Image: Herzstein Memorial Museum,
Union County, New Mexico)

In 1897 alone, the Ketchums heisted more than $100,000: $42,000 from a Wells Fargo safe outside Langtry, Texas, in May and another $60,000 in gold and silver near Twin Mountain, New Mexico Territory, in September.

Two years later, in July 1899, Sam Ketchum partnered with Wild Bunch members Will Carver and William Ellsworth “Elzy” Lay to rob the Twin Mountain train a second time. A posse chased the outlaws into Turkey Creek Canyon near Cimarron, New Mexico, where Sam was wounded in a shootout. He died of his wounds in Santa Fe Territorial Prison a few weeks later.

In August 1899, unaware of his elder brother’s fate, Black Jack lost his right arm to a shotgun blast fired by the conductor of a train he attempted to rob alone. “The handsome train robber” didn’t resist when either a posse or a railroad crew (there’s a dispute) found him near the tracks the following morning.

At trial, Ketchum was sentenced to hang, but the date of execution was delayed several times by arguments about where final justice should take place, since several towns wanted the honor. Finally, reacting to a rumor that the old gang planned to break Black Jack out of jail, the hanging became the center of a carnival in Clayton, Union County, New Mexico. Despite an extended debate about the length and strength of the rope necessary for the deed, something went horribly wrong.

"Black Jack" Ketchum, center. (Image: National Archives)
Black Jack Ketchum, center. (Image: National Archives)

Shortly after 1 p.m., the scaffold’s trapdoor opened and Ketchum, 37, plunged through. He died instantly, decapitated by the fall.

Black Jack Ketchum bears the dubious distinction of being the only man sentenced to die in New Mexico for “felonious assault upon a railway train.” Apparently his botched execution set the residents of Union County back a mite, because Black Jack also was the only man ever hanged in Union County. Until serial murderer Eva Dugan suffered the same fate at the Pinal County, Arizona, prison in 1930, Black Jack Ketchum was the only person in the U.S. who literally lost his head to a hangman’s noose ordered by a court.


No train robberies or grisly executions take place in the Civil War-era duet The Dumont Brand, although the hanging of a cattle rustler in her past plays a role in one heroine’s present. The book, which contains two stories about two brothers, debuted July 24. It’s the first in a trilogy about a Southeast Texas ranching dynasty with more skeletons than you can shake a stick at in its closets. Links and excerpts are on my website.

Here’s the blurb, and below that is a video trailer.

The Dumont BrandThe Civil War burned Texas…and fanned the flames of love.

On the eve of the Civil War, family secrets threaten everything a ranching dynasty has built…until one son finds salvation in the wrong woman’s love. In the aftermath of battle, a woman destroyed by betrayal brings peace to his brother’s wounded soul.

The Big Uneasy: To escape the unthinkable with a man about whom she knows too much, New Orleans belle Josephine LaPierre agrees to marry a Texan about whom she knows nothing. Falling in love with his brother was not part of her plan.

Making Peace: After four long years in hell, Confederate cavalry officer Bennett Collier just wants to go home—assuming home still exists. Widowed Jayhawker Maggie Fannin will hold onto her home at any cost…even if she must face down the imposing Rebel soldier who accuses her of squatting.

What is it with Sisters? ~Tanya Hanson

Anybody who knows me knows that reading Little Women when I was eight set my goal to be a writer. Someday, somehow.

lw antique cover

Celebrating my recent release, Sisters--two stories in one! I decided to regale you with trivia about those March sisters and their stories. See how well you do. (answers at the end.) And please leave a comment today…I’m giving away three Kindle copies of Sisters.

  1. Who is the oldest March sister:  a) Amy; b) Jo; c) Meg; d) Beth.


  1. Jo works for: a) Aunt March;   b) The Boston Beacon;   c) the Weekly Volcano;   d) Mr. Laurence.


  1. When Amy burns Joe’s treasured manuscript (horrors! No back-up or Dropbox…) what melts Jo’s fury?   a) Amy marries Laurie so Jo doesn’t have to.   b) Amy contracts scarlet fever.   c)Aunt March threatens to send Amy to art school in Paris.   d) Amy falls through the ice on a frozen pond.


  1. Beth becomes ill with:   a) consumption;    b) scarlet fever;    c) influenza;    d) appendicitis.


  1. Meg marries:  a) Ned Moffat;  b) John Brooke;  c) Friedrich Bhaer;  d) No, she doesn’t. She remains single.

lw cover

  1. Beth dies at age:  a) 19;  b) 18;  c) 17;  d) 16.  
  1. Originally a two-parter, the second half of Little Women (Part 2 today) was called:  a) Good Wives;  b) Army Wives (this was, after all, Civil War times.)  c) Little Children;  d) The Last March.


  1. Aunt March’s home is called:  a) Fruitlands;  b) Orchard House;  c) Apple Farm;  d) Plumfield.


  1. Meg’s children are officially christened:  a) Jack and Jill;   b) Jack and Daisy;  c) John and Jane;  d) John and Margaret.


  1. Little Women led to two sequels:  a) Little Men, and Little Children;  b) Jo’s Boys, and Meg’s   Twins;  c) The Finale March, and The Final Chapter;  d) Little Men, and Jo’s Boys.


So, what’s with Sisters? Well, in Her Hurry-up Husband, debutante Elspeth Maroney leaves her stinkin’, cheatin’ bridegroom at the altar, but realizes she needs a husband for just one month. And by then, she just might need to run screaming from her bridegroom’s crazy granny…


However, she finds her heart fluttering when her intended, handsome Colorado rancher Hezekiah Steller wants a wife for life. And an heir as quick as possible.  Sigh. How can they let each other go?


Anyway, my editor (the talented, ever patient and most excellent Cheryl Pierson) flat out said…Elspeth’s sister Judith has GOT to get away from their awful mama. Hence…(this this is an important word in the story…) Judith has her own set of adventures and romance in Her Thief of Hearts. Beautiful socialite (her). Darling orphan and…An outlaw! Bad-boy “Black Ankles” holds up a speeding train, and she’s on it. Along with Elspeth’s spurned bridegroom and the sisters’ former childhood governess! Oh no. Can her beloved Tremaine rescue her in time?

Tanya Sisters Double 2 Web (2)

So, both stories are now together in one pretty package. And  to make it more fun, Tremaine’s brother Ronnie has his own love story coming out at Christmas…because he’s really outlaw Black Ankles and so needs love and redemption.

All right. Here are the answers!

1-c; 2-a; 3-d; 4-b; 5-b; 6-a; 7-a; 8-d; 9-d; 10-d


Now, who’s your favorite March sister and why?

Love in the Time of Miscegenation

The Dumont Brand

Kathleen Rice Adams header

She’s the sweetest rose of color this darky ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew;
You may talk about your dearest May, and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas beats the belles of Tennessee.

Those are the original words to the chorus of “The Yellow Rose Texas,” a folksong dating to early colonial Texas. The first known transcribed version—handwritten on a piece of plain paper—appeared around the time of the Texian victory at San Jacinto in April 1836.

Marie Laveau 1774-1881 Marie Laveau by Franck Schneider
“New Orleans’ Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau (1774-1881) was a free Creole of mixed race.

In its original form, the song tells the story of a black man (“darky”) who has been separated from his sweetheart and longs to reunite with her. The lyrics indicate the sweetheart was a free mulatto woman—a person of mixed black and white heritage. In those days, “person of color” was considered a polite way to refer to black people who were not slaves. “Yellow” was a common term for people of mixed race.

During the Civil War, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” became a popular marching tune for troops all over the Confederacy; consequently, the lyrics changed. White Confederates were not eager to refer to themselves as darkies, so “darky” became “soldier.” In addition, “rose of color” became “little flower.”

Aside from the obvious racist reasons for the modifications, legal doctrine played into the picture as well. Until the U.S. Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional in 1967, all eleven formerly Confederate states plus Delaware, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia outlawed marriage and sexual relations between whites and blacks. In four of the former Confederate states—Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—marriage or sexual relations between whites and any non-white was labeled a felony. Such laws were called anti-miscegenation laws, or simply miscegenation laws. In order to draw what attorneys term a “bright line” between legal and illegal behavior, many states codified the “single-drop rule,” which held that a person with a single drop of Negro blood was black, regardless the color of his or her skin.

Texas’s miscegenation law, enacted in 1837, prescribed among the most severe penalties nationwide: A white person convicted of marrying, attempting to marry, or having sex with a person of another ethnicity was subject to a prison sentence of two to five years. Well into the twentieth century, it was not uncommon for the non-white half of the illicit relationship to be severely beaten or killed by irate local citizens.

The first American miscegenation laws arose in the colonies in the 1600s. The laws breathed their last gasp in 2001, when Alabama finally removed the anti-miscegenation clause from its state constitution after a referendum barely passed with only sixty percent of the popular vote.

Texas’s miscegenation law plays a role in “The Big Uneasy,” one half of the duet of stories in my new release, The Dumont Brand. The father of the heroine’s intended “lives in sin” with a free Creole of color. Under a tradition known as plaçage, wealthy white men openly kept well-bred women of color as mistresses in the heroine’s hometown, New Orleans. Texans frowned on the practice nonetheless. The situation causes no end of heartache for the heroine.

The Dumont Brand releases Friday, along with 20 other books, as part of Prairie Rose PublicationsChristmas in July event. About half of the books are holiday tales (like The Last Three Miles), and the other half are stories set in other seasons (like The Dumont Brand). Each of them will warm readers’ hearts all year long. Prairie Rose will host an extra-special Facebook fandango to celebrate the mountain of releases July 28-29. You can RSVP here. Did I mention the Prairie Roses will be giving away free books, jewelry, and other fun prizes?

The Dumont Brand 2 Web


On the eve of the Civil War, family secrets threaten everything a ranching dynasty has built…until Amon Collier finds salvation in the wrong woman’s love. In the aftermath of battle, a woman destroyed by betrayal brings peace to his brother Ben’s wounded soul.

The Big Uneasy: To escape the unthinkable with a man about whom she knows too much, New Orleans belle Josephine LaPierre agrees to marry a Texan about whom she knows nothing. Falling in love with his brother was not part of her plan.

Making Peace: After four long years in hell, Confederate cavalry officer Bennett Collier just wants to go home—assuming home still exists. Widowed Jayhawker Maggie Fannin will hold onto her home at any cost…even if she must face down the imposing Rebel soldier who accuses her of squatting.


The-Last-3-Miles-Kathleen-2-Web_FinalThe Last Three Miles also will debut Friday as part of PRP’s Christmas in July:

When an accident leaves Hamilton Hollister convinced he’ll never be more than half a man, he abandons construction of a railway spur his lumber mill needs to survive. Believing no woman shackled by social convention can be complete, railroad heiress Katherine Brashear refuses to let the nearly finished track die.

The magic of Christmas in a small Texas town may help them bridge the distance…if they follow their hearts down The Last Three Miles.

You can read excerpts from both books and peruse a complete list of the titles that are part of PRP’s Christmas in July event here.


To do a little celebrating of my own, I’ll give an e-copy of The Dumont Brand to one of today’s commenters and an e-copy of The Last Three Miles to another.

Please note: Both are available only as ebooks.


Here Comes the Bride…In the Movies!

Charlene FB June 2015

I’m such a movie buff, that when we came up with the idea doing a week of Brides and Weddings, I began thinking of all the movies I have adored over the years.  My most recent favorites are, Father of the Bride and Runaway Bride.

These were taken from a list of the TOP 50 Romantic Movies.  See how our tastes have changed over the years.

Do you have something else to add to the list?  Which one is your favorite?


My Best Friend's Wedding

Muriel's Wedding


Father of the Bride

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Runaway Bride

The Wedding Planner

The Wedding Crashers

And who can forget this classic Bride Movie? 

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Or the original first Bride movie ever made — The Bride of Frankenstein from 1935!!  Yikes!! 

The Bride of Frankenstein


Here’s a picture of a special day in our lives.  Daughter Nikki and son-in-law Zac’s wedding.

It’s hard to believe they’ve been married 7 years already.

nikki's wedding.

Do you remember the old rhyme –

First comes love, then comes marriage, 

then comes baby in the baby carriage. 

Well, that doesn’t always happen in order these days, especially in my brand new release! 

The Billionaire’s Daddy Test 

The Billionaire's Daddy TestOn sale now!  





Taking a Chance—a Big Chance—on Love & Book Giveaway


“Did you ever wonder why we use the word engagement
to describe both a promise of marriage and a war battle?”-Undercover Bride

My June release Undercover Bride is a mail order bride story with a twist. Maggie Michaels is a Pinkerton detective working undercover to nab the Whistle-Stop Bandit. To do this she is posing as his mail order bride. The clock is ticking; if she doesn’t find the proof she needs to put him in jail, she could end up as his wife!

My heroine has a good reason for doing what she’s doing, but what about the thousands of other women during the 1800s who left family and friends to travel west and into the arms of strangers?

Shortage of Men

mailThe original mail order bride business grew out of necessity. The lack of marriageable women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War. The war created thousands of widows and a shortage of men.

As a result, marriage brokers and “Heart and Hand” catalogues popped up all around the country. Ads averaged five to fifteen cents and letters were exchanged along with photographs. It took ten days for a letter to travel by Pony Express and often the wax seals would melt in the desert heat, causing letters to be thrown away before reaching their destinations.

According to an article in the Toledo Blade a lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalogue company asking for brides (the latest such letter received was from a lonely Marine during the Vietnam War).

                                      Cultural Attitudes


Marriage was thought to be the only path to female respectability. Anyone not conforming to society’s expectations was often subjected to public scorn. Women who had reached the “age” of spinsterhood with no promising prospects were more likely to take a chance on answering a mail order bride ad than younger women.

Not Always Love at First Sight

For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail order bride were so enamored with each other they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.

Not every bride was so lucky. In her book Hearts West, Christ Enss tells the story of mail order bride Eleanor Berry. En route to her wedding her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men. Shortly after saying “I do,” and while signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her. The marriage lasted less than an hour.

Men: Do Not Be Deceivedmail2

Women weren’t the only ones who could be duped. Ads popped up warning men not to be seduced by artificial bosoms, bolstered hips, padded limbs, cosmetic paints and false hair.

Despite occasional pitfalls, historians say that most matches were successful. That’s because the ads were generally honest, painfully so in some cases. If a woman was fat and ugly she often said so. If not, photographs didn’t lie (at least not before Photoshop came along).

There may have been another reason for so much married bliss. A groom often signed a paper in front of three upstanding citizens promising not to abuse or mistreat his bride. She in turn promised not to nag or try to change him.

No one seems to know how many mail order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey who, by the turn of the century, had married off 5000 Harvey girls.

Okay, since it’s almost June and I’ve got brides on my mind how about sharing a wedding memory, either your own or someone else’s?  It can be funny, sweet, nightmarish or just plain special.  Fair warning: anything you say could be used in a book!  If all else fails just stop by and say hello and I’ll put your name in the old Stetson.


Wild West Guns and Grins or How the West Was Fun

 Another Pinkerton Lady Detective is on the case. This time the female operative masquerades as a mail-order bride. Pretty funny overall plot to begin with, so expect some fun reading while the detective team attempts to unmask a pair of train robbers and murderers. That’s how Margaret Brownley writes. Western mystery with humor rolling throughout, like tumbleweeds on Main Street.

                                                           -Harold Wolf on Amazon




Welcome Guests – Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Syas Nitsick

Janet Nitsick
Janet Nitsick
ruth nordin
Ruth Nordin

Train Travel: A Passenger’s Perspective

“The train chugged toward the station. Smoke bellowed from the engine’s stack.  Standing underneath the roof of the brick-and-mortar depot, Opal gulped as she watched it approach. …” (Excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s novella, She Came by Train, included in Bride by Arrangement.)

Trains were vital to the Old West to not only transport goods but also for people traveling from East to West. They replaced wagon trains, a popular form of travel from the early 1840s to the late 1860s. Trains continued to be the dominant mode of travel until automobiles gained momentum in the 1930s and 1940s.

Tickets Please

Passengers could purchase first, second or third-class tickets, according to their financial abilities. First-class tickets cost the most and came with the most luxuries. A second class ticket cost more than third class with this class bringing the least benefits.

If a person purchased a third-class ticket, he or she would sit on a wooden seat, be placed in an open car and had to furnish their own meal. The ticket entailed them to one washroom (our current day restroom), and it was used by men and women.

A second-class ticket enabled the traveler to sit in an enclosed car with padded seats and included two washrooms — one for men and the other for women. This passenger had three meal options: bring your own food, eat at the buffet car, or get off the train to eat during a meal stop.

Photo by Robert Spittler of Omaha, Neb. Old Tucson railroad station served as the setting for some of Hollywood’s most famous television shows, such as “Bonanza,” “Gun Smoke,” “Have Gun will Travel,” and movies,  “Rio Bravo” and “McClintock.”
Photo by Robert Spittler of Omaha, Neb.
Old Tucson railroad station served as the setting for some of Hollywood’s most famous television shows, such as “Bonanza,” “Gun Smoke,” “Have Gun will Travel,” and movies, “Rio Bravo” and “McClintock.”

Passengers riding first class sat in leather or padded-velvet seats in an enclosed car. As in the second class, men and women had their own washrooms. But different from the other classes, a first-class traveler was provided meals, could eat in the buffet car or visit a restaurant at a destination stop.

If travelers didn’t bring a meal, such as second and third-class, ticket holders, they could eat at a restaurant near the depot or eat at the dining (also buffet) car during the train stop. However, passengers had limited time to eat these unappetizing, dining-car meals, probably between 15 to 20 minutes, so often they never finished their meals and continued their trips hungry.

Around 1899, Fred Harvey solved this problem by starting a chain of restaurants at the train stations. His restaurants served appetizing meals, such as plantation beef stew on hot buttermilk biscuits and smoked haddock. Harvey hired only females for his waitstaff to allure male patrons and help women find mates.

Baggage Tags

Originally, passengers picked up their own luggage from the baggage car, but as travel by train became more popular, it became necessary to have a system to track luggage to prevent loss or theft.  Metal tags, typically made of brass, were used. They included the railroad(s) involved, an identification number, and routing. One tag would go with the passenger, and a matching tag would be attached to the luggage.

When the Journey Ends

Once the train arrived at its destination, passengers needed to be careful when they got off their cars because of the short distance between the train and the platform. At the station, travelers walked, grabbed a cab or were met with individuals who took them to their ultimate destinations.

Click Cover to Order from Amazon
Click Cover to Order from Amazon

In She Came by Train, Opal has taken the long journey from Virginia to Lincoln, Nebraska, to be the governess to two young children of a lonely widower.  “Opal pulled out her smelling salts and sniffed.  She returned the salts to her belt before clutching her purse tight. Her new life faced her. …” (Excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s novella in Bride by Arrangement.)

In The Purchased Bride, Ada fought the tears, which she believed could have filled up more than what the Mississippi River contained, as she stepped from the train to meet her betrothed, Pete Kelly. She did not know what her future would be like since her brother arranged the marriage. “With each mile that separated Ada from Virginia, she didn’t know if she felt better or worse. … her brother had seen fit to sell her to a stranger out in Nebraska — far removed from anyone …” (Excerpt from Ruth Ann Nordin’s novella in Bride by Arrangement.)


Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Syas Nitsick are offering three paperback copies of their anthology, Bride by Arrangement, (which ranked in the top 100 in the Western romance category in the Kindle edition).

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble


A Christmas in July Giveaway AND a haunted hotel…~Tanya Hanson

MarryingMinda Crop to Use

Despite my histrionic attempts to get late registration at the Romance Writers of America national convention in San Antonio this week, I had to settle for staying at home. Sob. (I usually prepare well in advance for such events as this, but family summer plans changed… and I realized I DID have the time to get there after all. Ah, well, the travel gods paid me no nevermind.)

Anyway, best I could do was take Mary Connealy’s place at Wildflower Junction today–she’s rockin’ it in San Antonio–and spread some love from my visit there several years ago.

Yup. I loved The Alamo.

Alamo close up

And The River Walk.


And The Menger Hotel. The HAUNTED Menger

Menger facade

In 1859, twenty three years after the battle of The Alamo, a San Antonio brewer named William Menger added a boardinghouse for his customers. Since then, the hotel has expanded, and many dignitaries have stayed at the historic place including Robert E. Lee, Sam Houston, Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, Presidents Grant, McKinley, Taft, Eisenhower and Clinton, as well as such “stars” as Mae West, John Wayne, and Bob Dylan.

historic Menger

(“Menger Hotel San Antonio Texas photo of historical photo”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – 

But several guests have never checked out! Texas mega-rancher Captain Richard King (1824-1885) sometimes left his spread of 600,000-plus acres to stay at his favorite hotel. He passed away from cancer in his favorite room at The Menger, and his funeral was held in the hotel parlor. Although the room has been remodeled several times, his ghost doesn’t mind and seems to find it no matter what. Just ask those sleeping there in the King suite on the second floor.


Another famous, or perhaps infamous ghost, is hotel maid Sallie White. Her ghost is seen often on the third floor, carrying towels. She worked at, and died at, the hotel. The Menger cared for her after she suffered a severe beating by her husband in 1876. Lingering for two awful days, she died, and the hotel covered her funeral costs.

It is claimed that more than 40 ghosts wander The Menger. An old lady knits in the lobby. A little boy plays in guest rooms. Are sounds of marching and bugles soldiers from The Alamo?

Anyway, I had lunch there and didn’t see anything but beautiful gardens and splendid architecture.

Menger interior


Menger fountain

No wonder this lovely hotel has earned recognition on the national registry of historic hotels.

Menger plaque

Now a haunted hotel has NOTHING to do with my latest release. Covenant. It’s Christmas in July at Prairie Rose Publicationsand my short story is being re-released tomorrow for 99 cents. (It was part of the Wishing for a Cowboy anthology last Christmas.)

What a steal. To celebrate, I’m giving away FIVE non-gift wrapped Kindle editions, so please don’t leave me hanging and post some comments today!

Ever been anywhere supposedly haunted? Ever seen/heard/felt anything-anyone other-wordly?


Alone, abandoned, struck with guilt and grief, mail order bride Ella Green refuses to celebrate their first wedding anniversary by herself on the Nebraska homestead. Her fault Charlotte died.

Her fault her husband couldn’t stick around. So it’s back to Pennsylvania. Until the snow hits.

But do the spingerle cookie molds depicting her life–Carsten’s hand-carved courtship gifts to her across the miles–still have more story to tell?

Or is it truly The End?

Widower Carsten Green took on a bride merely to tend his little daughter. Unbeknownst to Ella, he gave her his heart instantly. Yet he believed she’s got no reason to stay after the child’s death. So he’s left her first.

How can the Christmas blizzard separating them warm their hearts, brighten their future, and ignite love gone cold?

Dr. Sue…Until The Day Dawns ~Tanya Hanson

MarryingMinda Crop to Use With the heroine in my current anthology release, Her Hurry-Up Husband hailing from Omaha, I came across a fascinating real-life woman while researching the city. Dr. Susan Le Flesche Picotte (1865-1915) of the Omaha tribe was the first Native American Indian woman to receive a medical degree.

She was also the first American to receive federal aid for professional education.

Susan was born on June 17, 1865 on the Omaha reservation in northeast Nebraska. Her parents were Chief Joseph “Iron Eyes” Le Flesche, son of a French fur trader, and his wife Mary “One Woman,” the mixed-blood daughter of an Army physician. Although Iron Eyes raised his four daughters Christian, in a frame house on the reservation, he never abandoned native traditions. In fact, his strongest wish and recommendation for Susan was that she become educated in both the white and native cultures. A relative later described her as having one foot in both worlds.

Dr Sue

As a child, Susan witnessed a white doctor refusing to care for a dying Indian woman. After attending school on the reservation and Elizabeth Institute for Young Ladies in New Jersey, she returned to the reservation to teach at the Quaker Mission School. Here Alice Fletcher, the renowned ethnologist, encouraged Susan to pursue medicine. She enrolled at the elite Hampton Institute in Virginia, the nation’s first school for non-whites.

At Hampton, the resident physician urged Susan to enroll at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Miss Fletcher helped Susan obtain scholarship funds from the U.S Office of Indian Affairs. Susan graduated at the top of her class in 1889, and after an internship in Philadelphia, she returned to the reservation to provide health care.

Never in vigorous health, due to a degenerative bone condition, Susan nevertheless managed a career that served 1,300 patients and covered 450 square miles. Not merely a healthcare giver, she often gave financial advice and family counseling. She instructed the Omaha peoples on the necessities of cleanliness, good hygiene, and ventilation. In a buggy drawn by her chestnut horse Pie, she made house calls at all hours, even in sub-zero weather. She earned about $500 a year, one-tenth of the salaries of military physicians. Bucked from a horse in 1893, she was too injured to fulfill the invitation to speak at the World’s Fair in Chicago.

Despite early vows to remain single, at age 29 “Dr. Sue” married Henry Picotte, a Sioux from Yankton, South Dakota, in 1894, and raised their two sons Pierre and Caryl in Bancroft Nebraska. Her practice here treated both white and non-white patients.

Henry Picotte battled alcoholism much of his life, inspiring Susan’s ambition to outlaw alcohol on the reservation. She led a delegation to Washington D.C. in 1906 to lobby for such prohibition. Her lifelong dream to open a reservation hospital came true in 1913 in Waithill, Nebraska. The hospital is now a museum dedicated to her work and the history of the Omaha-Winnebago tribes.

When the bone disease ended Dr. Sue’s life at age 50, September 18, 1915, three priests eulogized her as well as an Omaha tribesman reciting in the native language. This showed her successful assimilation into both her worlds..

Her tombstone is inscribed “Until The Day Dawns.”

Another incredible American I never learned about in history classes!

Lassoing a Mail-Order Bride Web FINAL


Excerpt from Her Hurry-up Husband in the just released antho...Rancher Hezekiah is waiting at the train station for his mail order bride, needing a wife for life. Little does he know Omaha debutante Elspeth wants a husband for only one month.

For a quick second, Hezekiah considered jumping on the train and riding it to Utah. The iron bench he sat on was harder than any boulder, colder than a long night in a line shack. What had he done? 

His heart thumped so hard it hurt and all but broke a rib when the woman departing the train came into eyeshot.

A woman wrapped in a black cloak like a bat closing its wings. A woman with hair so white she could have been the snow queen in a fairy tale. And so old she could have mothered Methuselah.

Good Lord, had the telegraph operator in Omaha meant 91, not 21?

The conductor gently loaded her onto the platform, and Hez prayed for death.

“Great granny? Great granny?”

A herd of Hunsakers ran from behind their worn-out wagon, all nine of ’em grabbing the old lady close. Life returned to Hez’s bloodstream.

But his heart stopped again when he heard the conductor call out his name.

“Hezekiah Steller? This lady’s looking for you.”

It was happening for real. Hez, heart stopped, plodded forward like he was that old woman’s man. Until the conductor pulled another female outside and unwrapped the long linen duster passengers wore to keep away the coal dust.

Beneath the grimy coat stepped his bride. Like an angel bursting forth from a bank of clouds. Like a dream coming true. Her beauty astonished him; her tiny waist brought on sweet relief. And Hez realized his life would never be the same. Realized he just might never breath normal again.

“How do, ma’am.” He tried to speak but no sound came forth.





Janet Tronstad: “Mail Order Sunshine Bride”

Tronstad_Janet-close_crop (2)I’m delighted to be back at P & P with another one of my mail-order bride stories.  Usually when I visit we talk about something related to these brides of the Old West (my favorite historical setting and I’m guessing it’s yours, too).

Today I am going to ask a question that has bedeviled women throughout history – from servant girls in the 1800’s to today’s ultra-modern internet dater.  Regardless of the time in history, scores of women are always asking — ‘What does a man want in a wife anyway?’

I’ll wager that nowhere have women asked that question with more desperation than the mail-order brides in the late 1800’s. In the western territories, men outnumbered women by as much as nine to one. In the east, thousands of women wanted to get married and were unable to find mates. Today a single life is a good life, but in those days it wouldn’t have been fun to be ‘on the shelf’ as they said.  A spinster had no status and, often, limited social options. For her livelihood, she usually either depended on relatives (sometimes being an unpaid servant to them) or lived a life of hard work and poverty.

It was no wonder that publications like the “The Matrimonial News,” a San Francisco paper, were flooded with personal ads from women as well as men seeking marriage.

For my brides, I’ve created a fictitious publication, Mrs. Murphy’s Matrimonial Catalogue, that will mirror these newspapers.

JTronstad_MailOrderSunshineBride_(1)In my upcoming novella, “Mail-Order Sunshine Bride,” my widowed heroine, Nellie O’Reilly, tries to figure out what it is that men want in a wife before she sends an ad to Mrs. Murphy for publication.  Nellie’s late husband, not a particularly kind man, always said she had little enough beauty, but she did have a non-demanding personality and that was what men wanted anyway. So Nellie advertises that she has a ‘sunshine personality.’

Unbeknownst to Nellie, the night before she and her young son arrive in the Montana territory, the storekeeper who had pledged to marry her reads her letter aloud to a dozen men at a poker game.  He gathered so much interest in his “Sunshine Bride” that he was offered a wager by another man for the right to marry her. The storekeeper lost the bet.

When Nellie steps off the train the next morning, the question of who she is to marry is so problematic that the sheriff takes her into protective custody until it can be resolved. Thus begins a rousing tale.

There are many things a man or a woman could find attractive in a mate.  But if you were going to answer the question right now, what would you say you would most look for in a marriage partner?

My ‘Mail-Order Sunshine Bride’ will be part of an indie anthology published in late June. When it is available, I will give a free e-copy of that anthology to someone who comments on this post.

For updates on this and other historical mail-order bride stories I will be writing in the future (I’m planning another Christmas one, ‘Mail-Order Santa Bride’), please like me on my Facebook page at!/pages/Janet-Tronstad-Dry-Creek-author/183817431655670

In the meantime, let’s talk!

Fascinating Historical Sites by Maggie Brendan

Maggie Brendan PubMy latest book, Perfectly Matched, takes place in historic Denver, 1888. I lived in the suburbs of Denver and grew to love the city and Colorado for over seven years. When possible, I enjoy visiting the places I write about, and although I used to live there, we went again to visit for my story. I’ve had the privilege to have visited all these wonderful historic sites.

My hero and heroine, Anna and Edward, are married in the beautiful United Methodist Church in Denver where it still stands today. It’s a magnificent structure of sandstone and stained glass. At the time, it was the tallest stone tower in the US in 1888. The reverend at the time Henry Buchtel later became Colorado’s seventh governor. I love discovering small tidbits like this to use in my stories.

Trinity United Methodist Church


After the marriage of my heroine, Anna, a mail-order bride, I wanted her to have a unique calling from what is typical of a mail-order bride. So amid the conflict of two totally opposite people, a desire to care for abandoned animals begins to fill Anna’s heart. She learns about the ASCPA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the desire to care for animals is born, much to the chagrin of her obsessive compulsive husband, who can only tolerate complete order.

As the hero begins to fall in love with his mail-order bride, he takes her shopping for pretty dresses and for tea at the famous tea room at The Denver, which was built in 1879. Later, it was called May D&F until its doors closed in 1986. I shopped there years ago before it was turned into apartments in 1994.

The Denver

 THE DENVERThe Denver's Tea Room


Elitch Gardens was another historic place in Denver’s history that was being built during the time of my story. Elitch Gardens was a famous family theme park. Mary Elitch’s support for Anna’s cause was a surprise, and Mary treats them to her restaurant.


Elitch Gardens


Through many disagreements, chaos, and some light-hearted moments, the story culminates at the place where Edward first laid eyes on his bride to be—the beautiful historic Union Station. This is another wonderful historic rail station that I’ve visited several times when I lived there. It is still in operation today and is just as beautiful. If you get a chance to visit Denver, you can discover its rich history and enjoy the Mile High City.

Union Station


Do you have a favorite historic building? Post me a comment for a chance to win a print copy of Perfectly Matched!!


Buy your copy of PERFECTLY MATCHED on Amazon!