Monday, June 30, 2014

Meet Ellie Fountain-From Sparta, TN - Again!

The Courthouse
Because I will probably be camping on my appointed day, I'm scheduling an older post I featured on Cowboy Kisses two years ago, right before I first decided to create a western blog to help revive the genre.  I didn't' have to look far to find some fantastic authors who've contributed some great stuff.

 It appears more and more authors are writing about the historical west, but not because of me, hopefully, because readers want more about Cowboys and Indians...and even romance. One of the keys to writing historical novels is to pepper enough history throughout  to help the reader learn something aside from your story.

In Ellie's Legacy, my heroine, Ellie Fountain, lives in Sparta TN...actually an unincorporated area above called Bon Air, but Sparta was where the stores, churches, and civilization existed..  I've tried adding facts throughout the story to help describe the period.  Today, I'm adding some more that people from TN might not know.

Sparta became the county seat in 1809, and was the first capitol of Tennessee.  When state legislators decided to change the location, Sparta lost to Nashville by one point.

I lived in Sparta for a time, and loved it.  It's a small community that really gave credence to "Southern Hospitality."  I think forming friendships is a main benefit of living in a place where the population isn't inflated.  Unfortunately, we were forced to move because the median wage there is just above poverty, and employment benefits died when most of the businesses went to Mexico.  Those who remain are employed by the retail stores and few business that stayed or residents farm the land.  I can't believe I made a whopping $7.55 per hour to be correction's officer at the local jail...but that conjures up a whole different story.

The Rock House
I did mention in the book that, situated between, Knoxville and Nashville, Sparta was a hub for travelers.  In fact, I think I described the Rock House which was built as a stage stop to allow passengers a rest during a long  ride and still stands today as an historical monument and testament to the times.

Beautiful Fall in an Orchard in Sparta
The Calfkiller River was also something I mentioned, as it traveres Sparta and joins the Caney Fork River.  The White Mountains provide a beautiful display of red, oranges, yellow, and green during the fall, when the trees display nature's pallet, and even more beautiful, nearby you can travel to a place called Fall Creek Falls..even camp is you wish.

Sometimes authors have an uncontrollable urge to respond to those less than favorable reviews left on Amazon.  I had one that questioned the accuracy of mining in Sparta...claimed she knew better.  To her, here...I offer this proof:

White County was the site of a very large saltpeter mining operation during the Civil War. The Cave Hill Saltpeter Pits (No. 1 and No. 2), located on Cave Hill near the mouth of England Cove, were intensively mined and still contain numerous relics from that operation. Saltpeter is the main ingredient of gunpowder and was obtained by leaching the earth from these caves.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_County,_Tennessee

For those of you who are a fan of old country music, one of the first things you'll see when you enter the city, is a memorial to Lester Flatt of Flatt and Scruggs fame.

Anyhow, I'm doing an interview here...so let's get on with it.  There is more historical in my novel.

INT – So, Ellie, tell the readers a little about Ginger's story.

 RF – *Smiles* Well, I can’t give away too much. Ginger would skin me alive, but I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you that it’s got a little romance, a lot of western, and even more feistiness than her last historical romance. My problems begin when Pa hires Tyler Bishop as the ranch foreman. I kinda figured Pa always wanted a son, and Ty proves me right. Their relationship gets me pretty riled up. I have a bad temper at times… I think it comes from this red hair. *pulls a strand forward and grins*.

INT – So, besides your jealousy of Ty, is there any adventure involved.

 RF – Oh, you bet. *Squares herself in her chair*. The polecats that live on the neighboring ranch are aiming to get Fountainhead away from Pa. Dude Bryant and his twin boys are meaner than snakes… well at least Dude and Jeb are. Joshua comes across as quiet and a follower. But, *balls hands into fists* I’ll be danged if they’re gonna get my legacy. I actually bought a gun and taught myself to shoot it.

 INT – A gun?  What for?

RF – Protect Fountainhead of course. I’m aim to show Pa he don’t need Tyler Bishop around when he has me. I just wish Ty wasn’t so dang good lookin’.

 INT – I haven’t heard you mention your mother. How does she feel about you owning a gun?

RF - *Lowers her eyes*. My ma died when I was very young. I suppose that’s why I took up with the ranch hands and spend so much time workin’ outdoors. *Raises a steely gaze*. But, now that Ty’s in the picture, Pa wants me to spend more time in the house doing womanly things.

 INT – Would that be such a bad thing?

 RF – Of course it would. I don’t much care for makin' vittle’ and cleanin’. We have Cook for that. I’d much rather brand a cow as fry one.

 INT – So what about the romance part of the story?

 RF – *Chews her bottom lip for a moment* Well, I accompany Ty to a dance in Sparta, and as usual, he gets my dander up there, too. I never should have gone, but those eyes of his make my knees weak. My better judgment flew right out the window. *Takes a deep breath* What happens from then on, you’ll have to find out for yourself. I may look young and na├»ve, but I’m not silly enough to give away the whole story. Miz Ginger is counting on sales to help pay for some sort of operation to make her look younger  *Looks confused*  Can they do that?

 INT – I don't know anything about plastic surgery, so let's get back to story. I've read the book and know the dance holds a key to the suspenseful part of the story, but I certainly wouldn’t want you give away too much. You’ve already given us enough of a teaser to stir some interest. Hopefully we’ll see you on a best seller’s list somewhere.

 RF – That would be right nice. It just may happen cause remember, I have a gun. *Slaps hip and fakes a draw*.

 INT - Well, here’s hoping you don’t have to use it. *laughs*. Thank you so much, Ellie for being with us today. And good luck in the future.

 RF – Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to tell you that Ellie's Legacy is on something called the “Innernet” at, *reaches in pocket and pulls out a slip of paper; reads it* http://www.amazon.com/author/gingersimpson *looks up*.  Boy, ain't that a mouthful. *looks back a paper*.  Oh...and her publisher is called Books We Love *stuffs paper back into her pocket*.  Boy, I don't understand all this http stuff, but I'm hoping everyone else does.

 INT – I've sure they do, Ellie. Thanks again for being here.

Not a Western? Really? Color Ginger Shocked!

It's a free Monday and I thought I might share a blog that was published two years ago.  This is still one  of my favorite books, and I hope it will become one of yours.


 

I've just recently decided to re-release the book that was voted best historical romance of 2009 by Love Romance Cafe.  What debuted as Sparta Rose has now become Ellie's Legacy because I definitely thought the story was worth an attempt to garner more readership.  The one thing that surprised me the most when I promoted the book as a "Western" historical romance, was finding out that anything on the east side of the Mississippi river is not considered a western.  Dang!

But then, I was recently reading this wonderful book The Politically Incorrect Guide to The South (and Why It Will Rise Again) by Clint Johnson, and I pretty much felt vindicated in having my story take place in Tennessee and still consider Ellie's Legacy a western-themed novel.

Now please note that all of my references here are attributed to Mr. Johnson who, I must say, wrote a very compelling and moving history of the South.  I learned a lot from this book, especially discovering that the western expansion of the United States is due largely to 140 southerners who had "adopted" God's will that the United States spread from ocean to ocean.  The period of time was between 1830 and 1850, and of the six presidents who served during this period, five were from the south.  The following details were provided by Mr. Johnson's research:

In the mid 1840s - Georgia-born John C. Fremont and Kentucky-born Kit Carson headed explorations of the west, mapping and exploring routes to encourage settlers to travel of California and Oregon.

The Mexican War (1846-1848) was led by Virginia-born generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott.  The president at the time was James K. Polk who hailed from North Carolina and Tennessee.

After the Mexican War, The Gadsden Purchase, made by South Carolinian, James Gadsden, acquired portions of Arizona and New Mexico to hopefully allow for a cross-country railroad stretching from the south to California.

Had not these brave souls from the south had the chutzpah to explore uncharted lands, unlike New Englanders who wanted to limit the size of the Union, we might never have realized life in the old west as we know it.  As Mr. Johnson states, in this case,"we would not have been a United States stretching from 'sea to shining sea.'"

So, I'm quite proud my ranch foreman, Tyler Bishop is patterned after the Stetson-wearing, rope-tossing cowboys of the west.  I can guarantee, if you read the book, you won't see much difference between Tennessee pride and that of those who settled in the areas we recognize from TV cowboy and Indian sagas.  In fact, if you read a lot of historical novels, you might recall that the lion's share of wagon trains began in Missouri with folks headed for Oregon and California.  They don't call "it" the "Oregon trail" for nothin'. 

There are so many things I didn't know about the south...  Little things like: Fourteen of the nation's top Ivy League schools are in the south, and since the inception of the Miss America pageant in 1921, one-third of the winners have been southern. Slavery was not legalized in the south, and the Confederate battle flag is symbolic of Christianity, modeled after St. Andrew's Cross (seen in Scotland's national flag and in the Union Jack of Great Britain.)

 I was born and raised in California, but since moving to Tennessee, I've come to the conclusion I was meant to be here.  Pride, honor and faith is alive and well in the south.

By the way, if you'd like to check out my work, please visit my website where I have all my books featured, along with videos/blurbs. I'm happy to say I'm still alive and kicking, and as long as I am, I'll keep pumping out western historical novels. I'm currently working on two historicals...Yellow Moon and The Well.  Yep...it means a lot of research, but I'm learning as I go.

Special thanks to my friend Ronnie Brown who loaned me The Politically Incorrect Guide to the South by Clint Johnson, and again to Mr. Johnson for letting me in on his southern knowledge.  Loved it!

Friday, June 27, 2014

School Days

By Alison Bruce

My son graduated from grade eight last night. It got me to thinking about how much education has changed in two centuries and how most of the critical change happened in the 19th Century.

Before 1820: Private Education
No public schools. You either paid to send your child to a private school or you hoped there was a charity-run school they could attend part-time.

There were no set professional standards for teachers. Many tutors and teachers were young men teaching to earn money while they studied for law, the ministry or an academic career at a college.

The closest thing to today's public schools were established in the northern British colonies/states. They generally ran for 10-12 weeks per year. Boys were favored and they were not free.

Pioneer children would learn their letters and numbers from their parents. As towns were established, those who could might take on teaching as a sideline when their real work was slow.

1820: The Common School Movement
Precursor to modern public schools, the movement was started by Horace Mann who believed that a free and sectarian education was a universal right for all. He advocated a longer school year and teaching standards. He helped shape policy and laws that would make elementary schooling mandatory. The first Normal School, for teaching teachers, opened in 1839 but it took until 1918 for all the states to make school attendance compulsory.

1836: The McGuffey Reader
Standardized universal education required standardized text books. William McGuffey's Eclectic Readers became that standard. His first reader was published in 1836 and his readers were used in public schools up into the mid-twentieth century - and are still in print.

The first book contained 55 illustrated lessons that introduced children to reading, arithmetic and an ethical code. McGuffey was a Presbyterian minister but his readers were non-sectarian Christian. Reformers believed that moral lessons should go hand in hand with academics. McGuffey fit the bill. His second reader, which came out shortly after the first, had eight-five lesson covering diverse subjects from history and geography to table manners. Eventually his books covered primary to grade six.


1840's: Feminization of Education
The Common School Movement had its roots in the Industrial Revolution and was happening in Britain and Europe as well.  A workforce with basic literacy and numeracy skills was considered valuable.

Women's education was another banner being taken up and the 1820's and 30's saw the opening of the first women's colleges America. It deserves it's own post but mention should be made how women teachers came to dominate in public, especially primary, education.

The following pretty much sums it up:
"God seems to have made woman peculiarly suited to guide and develop the infant mind, and it seems...very poor policy to pay a man 20 or 22 dollars a month, for teaching children the ABCs, when a female could do the work more successfully at one third of the price." -- Littleton School Committee, Littleton, Massachusetts, 1849



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Trail of Tears by Ginger Simpson

http://questgarden.com/
The Trail of Tears is a sad testament of the greed displayed against Native Americans in the 1800s.  In order to achieve land and build states, the Native American tribes were forced to leave the lands they occupied, and moved against their will.  Although those who wanted to stay were allowed to remain and assimilate into society, there is no doubt they were not treated well as white men didn't look favorably upon those with red skin.

Oklahoma, not yet formed was the home of the Choctaw Nation, later named Indian Territory. The government's aim to achieve their personal goal was to relocate Native Americans to the west.  The Indian Removal At of 1830 allowed President Andrew Jackson to enact treaties allowing the removal of all tribes living east of the Mississippi.  For the most part, the removal of the Choctaw was peaceful, but those who resisted were eventually forced to leave if they didn't wish to assimilate into society.
The Creek refused to move, but in good faith, signed a treaty in March 1832 to surrender a large portion of their land as long as the remaining lands were afforded protection.  The US failed to deliver, and in 1837, the military forcibly removed the tribe without benefit of a treaty this time.
The Chickasaw realized they had no other alternative, and and signed a treaty in 1832 to include their protection until their move. The Chickasaws were forced to move earlier than expected as a result of white settlers.  The war department refused to intercede.
A small group of Seminoles signed a relocation treaty, but the majority of the tribe rebuked the agreement.. After resulting in what is known as the Second and Third Seminole Wars, those who survived were paid to move west.. 
www.seerandolphcounty.com
In 1833, the Treaty of New Echota provided two years for the Cherokees in the state of Georgia to move west or face a forced exit.. By the deadline, only a small number of Cherokees had migrated westward and sixteen thousand remained steadfast on their land. As a result, the US sent seven thousand soldiers to enforce the treaty, not even giving the tribe time to gather their belongings.  The escorted march westward became known as the Trail of Tears because four thousand people died along the way.
The thousand-mile march began In the winter of 1838, many Cherokee covered only with skimpy clothing, most on feet without shoes/moccasins.  Beginning in Red Clay, Tennessee, the tribe crossed Tennessee and Kentucky, never allowed to step foot into any towns or villages because of the fear of disease.  Having to bypass these places added miles to their journey, but when they finally arrived at the Ohio River in Southern Illinois around December 3, 1838, they were subjected to a dollar per person toll to use Berry's Ferry.  The traditional charge was twelve cents per head, and the Indians were not allowed to cross until all others were served.  During their wait, as many of the tribe as possible sought shelter under "Mantle Rock," a  bluff on the Kentucky side of the river.  While huddled together, many died from exposure. Several Cherokee were murdered by locals.
The marchers reached southern Illinois on December 26.  An agent for the detachment wrote, "There is the coldest weather in Illinois I ever experienced anywhere.  The streams are all frozen over...  We are compelled to cut through the ice to get water... It snows here every two or three days...we are now camped in Mississippi swamp 4 miles from the river, and there is no possible chance of crossing the river... We have only traveled sixty-five miles in the last month, including the time spent at this place, which has been about three weeks.  It is unknown when we shall cross the river...."

"I fought through the War Between the States and have seen many men shot, but the Cherokee Removal was the cruelest work I ever knew.".
—- Georgia soldier who participated in the removal
The Trail of Tears
Historical information for the blog was gleaned from Wikipedia, including the map above.  Other photographs have been given attribution.

Monday, June 23, 2014

DANGER ON THE OPELOUSAS CATTLE TRAIL!


Stories about the old Goodnight and Chisholm Trails have so dominated the writings of Western Americana that even most Texans have forgotten that their first great cattle drives ended up at New Orleans rather than Abilene or Dodge City, Kansas. Known as the Opelousas Trail, enterprising men took advantage of the thousands of longhorn cattle, unbranded and roaming. In Texas and Mexico, the cattle were worthless. Across the Sabine in the United States, they were worth upwards of a dollar a head. At the time in 1825, it was illegal to drive longhorn cattle to Louisiana. That didn’t stop men seeking their fortune.

This is the tale of danger for those returning from New Orleans after selling cattle. A tale that rivals Alfred Hitchcock’s story of the Bates Motel in “Psycho.” (And I still have shivers when I think of that movie.)

Thomas Denman Yocum was born in 1796 in Kentucky to Jesse Ray Yoakum and Diana How Denton. From birth, Thomas learned theft and deceit. He and his father and brothers rode with John Murrell but struck out on their own. Jesse was tried for murder several times in Natchitoches, Louisiana. A veteran of the American Revolution, he was suspected of bribing witnesses and jurors and was never convicted.    

After being forcefully “invited” to leave Louisiana, Thomas Yocum and his family crossed the Sabine and settled on a Mexican land grant on Pine Island Bayou, the south boundary of the Big Thicket of Southeast Texas, around 1830. Having acquired some wealth and affluence by 1835, the old killer and slave stealer became more selective with his victims. He and his family built Yocum’s Inn in Jefferson County, Texas.


Jefferson County was then a virgin, sparsely-settled region of prairies, pine barrens, and thickets. Any settler living within ten miles was considered a neighbor. The deep, navigable stream, 100 feet wide and 75 miles long, was a tributary of the Neches River and had already attracted ten or more pioneers who also held land grants from the Mexican government.

Jefferson County in Reddish Pink

Thomas Yocum’s Inn was a combination saloon and lodging house between Beaumont and Sour Lake and stood on the Opelousas cattle trail between Texas and Louisiana. Yocum reportedly rode out at the first sound of the herds heading east and invited the drovers to quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger at the Inn. The well-treated travelers spread word of the genial host’s hospitality. When they returned with money belts filled after selling their cattle, they once more stopped at Yocum’s Inn. Big mistake, as solitary travelers were never seen again. Instead, the Yocum’s stock of fine horses grew.

Exactly how many people the Yocum’s robbed and murdered is unknown. The popularity of Yocum's Inn spread far and wide. Yocum soon became the postmaster of Pine Island settlement under the old Texas Republic, supervised the local elections, served on juries, and was widely respected by his neighbors and travelers alike.

Yocum acquired much land and many slaves, and by 1839 his herd of l500 head of cattle was the fourth largest in Jefferson County. While other settlers rode the wiry Creole, or mustang-size, ponies of a type common to Southwest Louisiana, Yocum's stable of thirty horses were stock of the finest American breeds and his family drove about in an elegant carriage.

Apparently. a gentleman's life held no attraction for Yocum, a man who literally was nursed from the cradle on murder and rapine. For many years, Yocum's Inn was actually a den of robbers and killers. What is the most startling is the fact that Yocum was able to camouflage his activities for more than a decade, maintaining an aura of respectability while simultaneously committing the worst of villainies, with a murderous band of cutthroats unequaled in the history of East Texas.

How Yocum could accomplish this since he used no alias, is unexplainable, for he, his brothers, his father, and his sons were known from Texas to Mississippi as killers, slave-stealers, and robbers. If any neighbor not a member of the gang suspected that something at Yocum's Inn was amiss, he probably feared for his life too much to speak out.

One account, written by Philip Paxton in 1853, observed that Yocum, "knowing the advantages of a good character at home, soon by his liberality, apparent good humor, and obliging disposition, succeeded in ingratiating himself with the few settlers."

In 1841, the Yocum’s downfall occurred. A well-dressed man stopped at the inn and asked directions. Thomas agreed to ride with him and show him the way. Thomas returned leading the man’s fine horse.

Yocum’s wife, Pamela Peace Yocum, was overheard to ask, “How much did he have?” When Yocum replied only six bits, his wife said, “Any man who rode a horse like that, wore such fine clothes, carried a gold watch and chain, and only had seventy-five cents on him deserved to get killed.”

Another potential victim staying at the hotel overheard the conversation and went for the Regulators, an illegal but active vigilante group. The Regulator posse went to Yocum’s Inn, ordered him and his family to pack up and quit the country, and then torched the building. Shortly after the Yocums left, an elderly black man who’d been a witness to some of the goings on at Yocum’s Inn showed the posse the remains of other victims. 

According to Paxton, the Regulators found the bones of victims in Yocum's well, in the neighboring thickets, in the "alligator slough," and even out on the prairie. The Regulator posse set out after the Yocums. A day or so later the posse caught up with the family. No longer willing to trust a Yocum's fate to the whims of any jury, the vigilantes gave the old murderer thirty minutes to square his misdeeds with his Maker, and then they "shot him through the heart" five times. In addition, they may have killed other members of the Yocum family.

A place to hide bodies and treasure?

Almost from the date of T. D. Yocum's death, legends began to circulate concerning the murderer's hoard of stolen treasure, because the vigilantes knew that neither he nor any member of his family had had time to excavate it before they were driven from the county. Some of them thought that only Yocum and one of his slaves actually knew where the loot was hidden. For years treasure hunters dug holes along the banks of Cotton and Byrd Creeks. Decades later sinks and mounds in the Pine Island vicinity were said to be the remains of those excavations.

Now the Big Thicket is a National Preserve

If anyone ever found the treasure, that fact was never made public, and one writer claims it is still there awaiting the shovel that strikes it first. At least the Thomas Yocum family can no longer waylay travelers.

Sources:
TALES OF BAD MEN, BAD WOMEN, AND BAD PLACES, C. F. Eckhardt, Texas Tech University Press, 1999 

 Photos: Google commons

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wranglers and Levi's OH MY! Why I love blue jeans...

Here's a tease of the best looking man in a pair of jeans.  *sigh*

King George!  And no one looks better in Wranglers!

As you know, I live in East Texas.  Lindale to be exact.  Yes, Miranda Lambert's hometown and no I've never met her. But her folks still live here and I've heard she is super sweet.  But this post is about blue jeans.  More specifically, Wranglers and Levi's.

Here's is the Wikipedia version of the history of Levi's.  Didn't want to bore you with the length.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levi's

Of course, any man in a pair of low slung, button up fly Levi's is a winner in my book.  Something about how the material just molds to a man's body.  *sigh*  Blue jeans were made out of necessity and through the decades, they have been traded between countries, worn either too skinny or baggy.  Seriously, no one wants to see your skivy's.  But the truth of the matter is that they are still around today and worn but just about everybody on the planet.  I still have a pair of button up fly jeans that I swear one day, I will wear again.  I bet Mr. Strauss didn't think that they would be a part of our every day life when he invented them.

I would be remiss to include why I think Wranglers are the best jeans for men to wear.  They just cup a butt so beautifully.  Living in Texas, I see every style, shape and color of jeans.  But I'm still a sucker for a cowboy in a pair of iron creased Wranglers with a pearl button shirt and cowboy hat.

I dare you to disagree!
Its the softness of the cloth, they way it hugs the body and best of all...they can be worn anywhere and no one will care.  Women will stare and men will be envious but through it all, nothing beats a pair of Wranglers.

Join me next month when I talk about Lindale, Texas.  And yes, I might throw in a bit about Ms. Lambert.
















Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My very first post....

...and this is totally my fault !  I should have posted a couple months ago on my day but you know, life happens.

Anywho, i'm so glad to be a new member to Cowboy Kisses !

I am a wife to a really ornery man and mother of 4 high energy kids ranging from 8 to 14.  We are a blended family, my stepdaughter(left pic, bottom right corner) and my 3 have had a bit of adjusting over the last few years but we love them dearly.  They do however, test me on a daily basis :)














As far as my writing history, i guess i started sometime around 2007 to 2008.  After a few houses closed after contracts got signed, i published  short stories with Turquoise Morning Press.  They have since all been reverted back to me so those will be re-writes and submit !  I also have three current works....

Western Escape line at Decadent Publishing    


Harper's Wish from Roane Publishing


Second Nature from The Wild Rose Press







I definitely have a few(20 or 30) WIP's but i think the one furthest along is Morgan's Mountain, a Montana Series book set to go to Roane Publishing.  Of course there are also follow-ups in process for both the other two above as well.

In addition to being an author, i also run a promotion company called Bridging the Gap Promotions.

With all that said and a handful of kids, it's a wonder i have any free time lol.

Feel free to visit me anytime at my Cowboy Kisses author page and feel free to shout out your hello's right on this post !  I promise the next time i blog here, i'll be all Western :)

Have a great day and happy reading !!

Krista



Monday, June 16, 2014

The Cowboy Hero


www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com


There’s a reason we love to read, and write, about cowboy heroes. A cowboy isn’t just a man wearing boots and a Stetson. It’s a way of life. A breed all its own. 

Here’s a list of a few traits cowboys are known for:

They respect women. Throwing their coats over mud puddles and opening doors for a lady is embedded in them. Cursing in front of women is a no-no.

Faith, in God, the land, animals, and other people runs deep. They expect others to respect that, too.

Humility runs strong in cowboys. The limelight isn’t for them. 

They are spendthrifts, until it comes to their horse and gear. Conservative, too, and not just with money. This includes words, deeds, beliefs, and politics.

Protectiveness runs strong in them—over their loved ones, animals, and the land. Don’t mess with a cowboy because he will fight to the death.

Music. Aw, yes, a cowboy loves his music. To play it, to dance to it, to sing. There’s always a song in a cowboy’s heart. 

Speaking of his heart—he wears it on his sleeves, although he’d never admit it. His heart is often as well used as his hands, full of scars and covered with calluses, but when he gives it away, it’s for a lifetime.

The strong silent type. Yep, that’s a cowboy. John Wayne meant it when he said, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say much.” Prying words out of a cowboy can be impossible. They’d rather communicate through actions. A cowboy doesn’t throw words around, especially ones he doesn’t mean.

Critters—they have to have more than one. Horses are a must, but so are dogs. They like other animals, too, but expect each one to have a purpose. 

That’s about it. Cowboys are simple men, down to earth, and utterly loveable—when they want to be. A heroine, lucky enough to have a cowboy fall in love with her, needs to understand these things. If she tries to change him, she’s changing who he is, and they’ll both be miserable. 

A final note, here’s a fun Cowboy Slang Dictionary. (http://ridesouthdakota.com/cowboy-slang-dictionary.html)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Great Links for Western Lovers - @JacquieRogers



I spent a lovely five days with a writer friend, Judith Laik, on the shores of Lake Chelan, Washington.  We plotted and brainstormed the whole time--at least, when we weren't partaking of fine wine.  Oh wait, it was that fine wine that helped with the brainstorming...  Ahem.  

Like most authors, I have several projects lined up waiting to be written.  Each of these stories requires a different knowledge set, and it's always necessary to do at least a little research for the next story.  Some people think this is work, but I call it fun, and in fact I have to limit myself.  Same with visiting museums.  Doncha just love museums! 

Anyway, take a look at some of the sites I visited this week:

Hungry Cowboys
Head on over to the Cowboy Showcase if you want to learn how to cook on the trail.  Dutch Oven Cooking with Floyd Crandall tells you how to heat, use, and clean a dutch oven.

Oregon Trail
At the Pathways of Pioneers site, historian Don Shannon tells about the tragic experience of a wagon train at Castle Butte, Idaho Territory, and their forty days of hell until 16 of 44 immigrants were finally rescued at what now is called Starvation Camp.

There's Gold In Them Thar Hills
Think the gold rush is over?  Someone forgot to tell that to about 367 members of the Idaho Gold Prospectors Association.  If you want to prospect for gold and have a little fun besides, check 'em out.

Gnarly Mountain Men
The first lucrative enterprise of the American West was fur trapping and trading.  John Jacob Astor made a pile of money from this business.  Jim Bridger (left) and his friends wanted in on the action and formed the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. 

Dressed in buckskins, wearing coonskin caps, and packing scalpin' knives, these men explored and trapped in every area of the West.  Some of the later "explorers" used these men's maps and lore.  Learn all about the trade, the men, and the business from Legends of America, Fur Trading in the American West.

Back East...
Another site that I frequent, especially when writing the Wolf Creek stories for Western Fictioneers, is the Kansapedia.  The cowtowns, several of the famous lawmen and outlaws, and lots of wheat aren't the only things you'll find in Kansas.  Besides, Matt and Miss Kitty were there... oh wait...

And Home Again
Since my stories are mostly set in Idaho, I do a lot of research there.  For a brief overview, go to the Visit Idaho Site.  For more in-depth information, go to Idaho State Historical Society Digital Collections, and here's an overview of Owyhee County history.  Of course, the best thing to do is ride a horse in the Owyhee Mountains and smell the sagebrush, but if that's not in the cards, a visit to the Idaho State Archives is in order.  They have a grant to digitize many of their newspapers, so that will be a boon to me since I live in Seattle now.



To be released Fall of 2014:
Much Ado About Mustangs



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

#WildWest #Facts #DidYouKnow

The more I write my historical cowboy books, the more I discover about the truth of the West. It's not as wild and black or white as most movies and books would have you believe.


Wyatt Earp was neither the town marshal or the sheriff in Tombstone, Arizona at the time of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. His brother Virgil was the town marshal, who had temporarily deputized Wyatt, Morgan and Doc Holliday prior to the gunfight.

The Oregon Trail, from Independence, Missouri to Fort Vancouver, Washington measured 2,020 miles. An estimated 350,000 emigrants took the Oregon Trail but one out of seventeen would not survive the trip. The most common cause of death was cholera.

Mike Fink was a keel boatman along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and an expert marksman. However, he loved his drink and was a known brawler. One of his favorite games was to shoot a mug of brew from the top of some fellow's head. However, on one night in 1823, he had drank so much that it didn't matter how good were his shooting skills. This time he missed and killed the guy who was wearing the mug on his head. In no time, the dead man's friends retaliated by killing Fink. For whatever reasons, his legend was being told for decades along with the likes of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill.

The Colt Peacemaker, the weapon that became known as "the gun that won the West” was a .45-caliber manufactured by Colt’s Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut in 1873. At the time it sold for $17.00.


Though the term "stick 'em up" is widely used in Western films, it wasn't actually coined until the 1930's.

The Infamous Dalton Gang only operated for one year and five months, beginning with a train robbery in Wharton, Oklahoma on May 9, 1891 and ending at the shootout at Coffeyville, Kansas on October 5, 1892.

The main characters of the Dalton Gang – brothers, Grat, Bob and Emmett all wore badges before moving to the other side of the law.

Jesse James was shot in the back by Bob Ford on April 3, 1882, in St. Joseph, Missouri. Professed to be a friend of James, Ford was reviled for shooting James from behind and was forever known as a "coward.” Ten years later, he himself was himself shot to death in Creede, Colorado.


On November 24, 1835, the Republic of Texas established a force of frontiersmen called the "Texas Rangers”. The rangers were paid $1.25 per day for their services. The members of The Texas Rangers were said to be able to "ride like a Mexican, shoot like a Kentuckian, and fight like the devil."

The famous Goodnight-Loving Trail was established in 1866 between Fort Belknap, Texas and Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Oliver Loving was later killed by Indians on the trail bearing his name. Goodnight, on the other hand, died a wealthy man in his nineties in 1929.

During the course of his 21 year tenure at Fort Smith, Judge Isaac Parker sentenced 160 men and women to death for convictions of Rape or Murder; of this total, only 79 men actually were executed on the gallows. The Judge only handed down the death sentences, he did not attend the executions or participate in them in any official capacity.

On September 8, 1883, Sitting Bull, the main chief of the Lakota tribes, delivered a speech at the celebration of the driving of the last spike in the Northern Pacific railroad joining with the transcontinental system. He delivered the speech in his Sioux language, departing from a speech originally prepared by an army translator. Denouncing the U.S. government, settlers, and army, the listeners thought he was welcoming and praising them. While giving the speech, Sitting Bull paused for applause periodically, bowed, smiled, and continued insulting his audience as the translator delivered the original address.

The Long Branch Saloon really did exist in Dodge City, Kansas. One of the owners, William Harris, was a former resident of Long Branch, New Jersey and named the saloon after his hometown in the 1880’s. The Long Branch Saloon still exists in Dodge City and can be seen at Dodge City’s Boothill Museum.

The famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral only lasted about thirty seconds.

Mattie Earp, Wyatt Earp’s second wife, who was with him in Tombstone during the O.K. Corral gunfight committed suicide with an overdose of laudanum on July 3, 1888 in Pinal, Arizona. She was despondent because Earp had left her for another woman.

Despite Hollywood’s depiction to the contrary, Jesse and Frank James were never cowboys. Both were raised on a farm in Missouri, where many of their crimes occurred.


Jesse James was called "Dingus" by his friends.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Is Bigfoot alive and well in Texas?

by Lyn Horner

"Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" is a legendary ape-like creature believed by some to exist in the Pacific Northwest. But did you know cryptozoologists are diligently searching for the same type of animal in the Lone Star State? Indian legend and modern day sightings indicate they may be on the right track.

I’ve been researching Caddo Lake in East Texas to use as a setting in my upcoming book (title still up in the air.) Lying half in Texas and half in Louisiana, Caddo Lake is named after the Caddoan Native American tribes who inhabited the area in days past. It’s the only natural lake in Texas and the largest one in the south, covering approximately 26,800 acres. And it may be an ideal habitat for Bigfoot.

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Caddo Lake with Bald Cypress trees; photo by Jay Carriker (User:JCarriker); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caddo_Lake

How the lake formed has been debated. One theory claims it was created by the New Madrid earthquakes of December 1811. Centered in northeast Arkansas, the quakes strongly shook an estimated 50,000 square miles.

An alternate theory suggests the lake was formed by the Great Red River Raft, a huge log jam that extended above and below present day Shreveport, LA. for some 160 miles. Having formed over several centuries, the raft completely blocked the river channel and caused massive flooding. However, tree rings and geologic evidence prove Caddo Lake even older than the raft.

Note: The Great Raft was cleared after the invention of nitroglycerin.

During the 1800s, Caddo Lake made Jefferson, Texas the state’s second largest port. Only Galveston shipped more goods and people to and from Texas in those days. Steamboats moved up the Mississippi River, into the Red River and on to Jefferson via Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou. For four decades, large quantities of cotton and other materials were carried down this route to New Orleans.

Today, Caddo is a mysterious wonderland of lake and wetland, home to waterfowl, alligators, turtles, frogs, snakes, raccoons, minks, beavers, white-tailed deer and other mammals. Bald cypress trees draped with Spanish moss and aquatic plants thrive in the maze of sloughs, bayous, and ponds.

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Photo in the Public Domain; Wikipedia Commons

The lake is also bordered by tall pine forests – the East Texas Piney Woods, nearly 12 million acres of forestland. What, you thought Texas was all prairie and longhorn cattle? Nope. We boast four national forests and five state forests in East Texas, spreading over forty-three counties. It’s this part of the state where most sightings of Bigfoot are reported.

The Texas Bigfoot Research Center, located in Jefferson, is a non-profit organization dedicated to proving the existence of the legendary creature in this region. The center has recorded several substantiated sightings of the hairy “ape-man” in the lake region, as well as hundreds of unofficial reports.

One such beast called the "Caddo Critter" is said to have inhabited the bottoms around Caddo Lake in the 1970's. Similar stories have come from the Sulphur River area along the Texas-Arkansas border for decades, and farther south, Sabine residents reported seeing a hairy gray ape-like animal in the area's dense forests in 2000. It was dubbed the "Sabine Thing."

Bobby Hamilton, founder of the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization (GCBRO), states, "I know it sounds crazy, but there are Bigfoot creatures right here in Texas. . . . I've been researching these creatures in the field for quite some time now. They're out there." Hamilton goes on to say, "We have recorded some noises we just can't place with known animals. Some of these sounds are pretty amazing, even frightening.”

Loren Coleman, co-author of A Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide and viewed by many as the world's foremost cryptozoologist, asserts there are numerous historical references to apelike creatures in the South, both from Europeans and Native Americans. "The Louisiana Choctaw Indians had an animal they called the nalusa fayala, which means ‘long, evil being’," he said.

While no one has produced a clear photo of a Bigfoot, let alone an actual specimen here in Texas, the Caddo Lake region, with it’s dark forests and misty waters, surely offers a perfect hiding place for the shy, reclusive creatures. If they exist.

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Now here’s a peek inside my “nameless” book. Hint: It begins in Ireland but shifts to Texas, and there’s a supernatural element. Oh, and it’s the first in a series.

Excerpt:

She gave him a funny look then turned to stare out her side window. “There’s a lake!” she suddenly exclaimed. “I can see it through the trees.”

Clearing his throat, he managed to speak in a normal voice. “Yeah. Guess I forgot to tell you the cabin backs up to Caddo Lake.”

“You certainly did.”

They rounded a gentle curve and he slowed to turn onto the winding drive leading to the cabin. When it appeared behind the screen of tall pines Lara gave an astonished cry, making Conn grin in satisfaction.

“That’s the cabin? It’s huge!” She gaped at the two-story log structure as he pulled up in front. The place was impressive with its wraparound porch, upper balcony and professionally landscaped grounds.

“I did tell you it belongs to the company I work for. The big bosses use it for meetings and to entertain clients, but they make it available for us roughnecks when there’s nothing going on out here. Lucky for you and me it’s empty for the next couple weeks.”

She scowled at him. “You’re a devil, Connor O’Shea! You deliberately didn’t tell me what to expect, admit it.” Her lips twitched, telling him her affronted act was all in fun.

He laughed and reached out to give her shiny dark braid a tug. “You’ve got me there, honey.” He didn’t intend to kiss her, but when her eyes widened and her rosy lips parted, he gave in to temptation. Her warm breath fanned his face as he bent close.

Sources:

http://texaslesstraveled.com/bigfootcountry.htm

http://www.anomalist.com/reports/lonestar.html

http://www.countylinemagazine.com/July-2012/Caddo-Lake-Caddo-Country/

Find my books on these sites:

http://www.amazon.com/Lyn-Horner/e/B004CY506Y/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Lyn-Horner?keyword=Lyn+Horner&store=catalog