Wednesday, December 4, 2019

R.I.P. By Cheri Kay Clifton (Part 2)

In October, I posted an article about  how a few famous legendary men and women's lives ended and where they now "rest in peace." I want to add four Native American leaders who also changed the course of history:

 Hunkpapa Lakota Sitting Bull, holy man and tribal chief, led several attacks on U.S. forts in the West and played a role in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Years later, he was offered a pardon.  By 1885, Buffalo Bill had him in his Wild West Show and Sitting Bull gained significant popularity.  He befriended, Annie Oakley and often made public appearances. However, in 1890, after returning to the Agency reservation and during the Ghost Dance Movement, he was accused of encouraging Indian rebellion and his arrest was ordered.  Sitting Bull refused to cooperate and a scuffle ensued.  A nearby Lakota, Catch-the-Bear, shot the arresting officer, who fired back, killing Sitting Bull. Sixteen people were killed in the skirmish, including eight police officers, Sitting Bull, and seven other Sioux. Two weeks later the massacre at Wounded Knee would take place.  Age 59, Sitting Bull was initially buried at Fort Yates, ND, the remains were supposedly dug up in 1953 and moved to Mobridge, SD off U.S. 12.

Crazy Horse, literally "His-Horse-Is-Crazy" was a leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the United States Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General Cook, in May 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard, while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. His remains were given to his elderly parents who secretly buried the 35 year-old Sioux leader somewhere in the wilds near Nebraska’s Red Cloud Agency.  No marker exists showing his final resting place.  He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American tribal members and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

Red Cloud was another highly respected leader of the Oglala Lakota. He led from 1868 to 1909 and was one of the most capable Native American opponents the United States Army faced.  After finally signing the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), Red Cloud led his people in the important transition of reservation life. He continued fighting for his people, even after being forced onto the reservation.  He outlived all the other major Lakota leaders of the Indian Wars. He died in 1909 at age 88 on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he was buried. He is quoted as saying in his old age, “They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one – They promised to take our land…and they took it.”

Last but not least is one of the most recognizable names in the world, Geronimo. After years on the warpath, Chiricahua Apache warrior, Geronimo achieved fame when he turned himself in for the final time in 1886. He traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and made appearances at fairs and gatherings before dying in the prisoner of war camp in 1909, never achieving the freedom he had been promised. He died quietly of pneumonia in the post hospital at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909 a few months before his 80th birthday. He was buried in the fort’s Apache cemetery, but tribal legend says his remains were secretly removed to the Arizona Mountains of his youth.

There are so many stories of where the famous legends lie.  As you’ve read, some of the stories of how they died, though sad, were almost as interesting as how they lived. I could go on & on, but have to end somewhere!

Happy Holiday Trails,

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Monday, December 2, 2019


By Vicki H. Budge

            My latest book, Winds of Change, was so much fun to research and write because 1903 was the beginning of a new era for the automobile. The automobile had been a toy and a luxury for the wealthy before this time, but because of Horatio Nelson Jackson’s successful road trip from San Francisco to New York City in 63 days, more and more people set out to beat his record and show that automobiles could be driven in the west.
One of them was Alice Ramsey.
            Alice, a young mother of 21, didn’t set out to be the first woman to drive across America. It all started when she was nearly thrown from a cart one day when the loud noise of an automobile caused her horse to bolt. Her husband, who was 24 years older than her, immediately went out and bought her a Maxwell Runabout, thinking that if she was driving an automobile, she would be safer than in a cart with a horse. What he didn’t expect was that she would become passionate about the automobile, even entering a dangerous race where the automobiles had to be driven around curves and hug a cliff above the ocean.

Alice Huyler Ramsey

            After finishing the race, Alice was approached by a man who represented the Maxwell Company, her car’s manufacturer. After watching her driving skills, he had the idea that she could handle the difficult roads or lack of roads out in the west and could be the first woman to drive an automobile across the country. The Maxwell Company would provide her with a brand new automobile, plus all the provisions, and send a pilot car ahead into the western states to help map out her journey.
            The only way Alice’s husband would agree to let her take on this cross-country road trip was if his two sisters, Nettie who was 47 and Maggie who was 44 went along for the ride. Alice invited her friend, Hermine Jahns who was 16 years old to join them, and started preparing for the journey.

Alice, ready to leave on her travels

            On June 9, 1909 the four ladies packed a 30-horsepower Maxwell automobile and set out to drive from New York City to San Francisco. They wore billowing rubber ponchos to keep their clothes clean from all the dust and dry from the many rain storms they were sure to encounter. They hoped to accomplish their goal in less than 40 days.
            There were a lot of people who didn’t like automobiles at this time, and a lot of other people who didn’t think a woman should be driving one, so not everyone was friendly on their trip. The New York Times referred to Alice as “A Freak.” A farmer doubled his fee to tow them out of a mud hole with his horse. Other people called out insults to them. One man went so far as to paint his building green to cause trouble for the travelers because the guide book Maxwell furnished said to turn left at a certain yellow building. This misdirection didn’t stop Alice for long. There were no good surveyed maps or road signs at this time.

Being towed

            Alice and her three traveling companions were proper ladies and didn’t appreciate these rude behaviors by people who were against their journey. After an overnight stop in Chicago, Alice’s  sisters-in-law appeared the next day in fancy clothes and huge fancy hats, hoping their appearance would earn them more respect.
Rain accompanied them on much of their journey out west. Their automobile tires were outfitted with chains to see them through the mud, but the chains only worked when the mud wasn’t too deep. Of course the clanking of the chains and the pop, pop, popping of the engine meant that the ride was a noisy one. Mud slowed them down many times, especially on the poor roads out west, but dealing with miles of mud holes couldn’t stop them. Alice changed 11 flat tires on the trip and made many repairs to the Maxwell herself. She wouldn’t let anyone change the automobile tires for her, showing that she was truly in charge of her automobile. She also wouldn’t let anyone else “crank” the car to start it.

Alice changing a flat

Gasoline wasn’t easy to find the further west they went, and the best place to find it was a the local mercantile. The only way Alice could check the fuel level of her Maxwell was to get out of the automobile and remove her seat cushion where there was access to the tank. There was a wooden measuring stick to use for guessing how much fuel was left.
The ladies got stopped by the sheriff in Nebraska and had to show that they did not carry any guns. They had crossed the trail of a manhunt for a killer in the area. In Wyoming, they ended up with a case of bedbugs from a local hotel. In Nevada they were chased by a Native American hunting party with their bows and arrows drawn. The travelers were delighted to discover that the Native Americans were actually chasing a rabbit, not them. 

Another flat

            After many more trials, Alice and her companions arrived in San Francisco on August 7, 1909. The journey had taken 59 days, not the 40 that they had hoped for. Alice had driven the Maxwell the whole way by herself.
            Unfortunately, Alice realized at the end of the journey that the whole thing had been a publicity effort by the Maxwell Company, and all the press reports going back east had been about the automobile and not about her and her companions. Alice finally received the recognition she deserved when she was named “Woman Motorist of the Century” by AAA in 1960. She wrote a book about her journey in 1961 while living in West Covina, California, entitled Veil, Duster, and Tire Iron. Later in 2000, after her death, she was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, the first woman to receive that honor.
Alice drove clear across the United States 30 more times over the next 70 years. She lived to be 96 years old and is considered a vehicular pioneer.

When Cora Gardner reads about a wealthy doctor who’s attempting to drive an automobile from San Francisco to New York City via southern Idaho, she makes a fifty-cent bet that he’ll succeed. But there are only 150 miles of paved roads in the country, and none in Idaho, so her chances of winning are slim. Her enthusiasm for the cross-country road race excites all the young people in town who are fascinated with the idea of horseless carriages. All the young people, that is, except for that stubborn Gideon Lewis.

Gideon Lewis learned to build wagons and wheels from his father, a master craftsman in his trade. He’s positive the automobile is simply a passing fancy for the wealthy, and that the doctor who’s attempting to drive across the country will bog down in Nevada’s sand like his predecessor. Gideon accepts Cora’s bet, however, and humors her in the attempt to win her hand.

Will the biggest event of 1903 in southern Idaho enable Cora and Gideon to stop arguing about the future of the automobile? Is the beginning of a new era in America also the beginning of a new era for Cora and Gideon?

Winds of Change is a fictional story based on an exciting true adventure. It’s a story of love and friendship and the ability to dream anew.

Authors Promise: This is a clean and wholesome historical western romance with no cliffhangers.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

DRAGON'S BLOOD by Zina Abbott

There is dragon’s blood, and then there is dragon’s blood. One kind has to do with color, varnish, and medicine; the other has to do with silver mining.

Let’s deal first with the one we might most likely come across today.

Dragon's blood is a bright red resin which is obtained from different species of a number of distinct plant genera: Croton, Dracaena, Daemonorops, Calamus rotang and Pterocarups.

The resin of Dracaena species, "true" dragon's blood, and the very poisonous mineral cinnabar (mercury sulfide) were often confused by the ancient Romans. [I would suggest we not allow ourselves to be confused, and we avoid ingesting or rubbing on our skin anything with “cinnabar” or “mercury sulfide” in it.]

Dragon's blood, powdered pigment or apothecary's grade and roughly crushed incense

Dragon's blood was used as a dye, painting pigment, and medicine (respiratory and gastrointestinal problems) in the Mediterranean basin, and was held by early Greeks, Romans, and Arabs to have medicinal properties. In folk medicine, dragon's blood is used externally as a wash to promote healing of wounds and to stop bleeding. It is used internally for chest pains, post-partum bleeding, internal traumas and menstrual irregularities.

Dragon's blood of both Dracaena draco (commonly referred to as the Draconis Palm) and Dracaena cinnabari were used as a source of varnish for 18th century Italian violinmakers. In modern times it is still used as a varnish for violins, in photoengraving, as an incense resin, and as a body oil. There was also an 18th-century recipe for toothpaste that contained dragon's blood.

In ancient China, little or no distinction was made among the types of dragon's blood from the different species. Both Dracaena and Daemonorops resins are still often marketed today as dragon's blood, with little or no distinction being made between the plant sources; however, the resin obtained from Daemonorops has become the most commonly sold type in modern times, often in the form of large balls of resin.

What does this have to do with American history, other than some of these substances continued to be used through time?
Cornish Miners 1866

I started my search for more information about dragon’s blood after touring the Lebanon Tunnel mine. Although tin miners from Cornwall had left their mark throughout the world since before Roman times, by the nineteenth century, most of the tin and copper mines in Cornwall were depleted. That left a people with centuries of tradition as miners looking for work elsewhere.

It is estimated that about sixty percent of the miners who worked in the Georgetown and Silver Plume Colorado mines were from Cornwall. With them, they brought their own mining terms and folklore – among them the belief in dragons.

Silver, when it is exposed to oxygen, forms silver oxide – that black tarnish we clean off of our silverware. Silver also dissolves in water over time, which is why miners cannot pan for silver like they do for gold.

With the heat, compression, and movement of the earth, veins of various elements will form in the cracks between sections of solid rock. When a vein of silver works its way to where it is exposed to both oxygen and water – even moisture in the air – it turns into a sludgy semi-liquid called dragon’s blood by the Cornish miners. They accepted it as evidence that a dragon guarded a nearby hidden treasure. The treasure within the mine was a vein of silver.

Since the presence of dragon’s blood indicates that large source of silver is nearby, miners looked for the formation of dragon’s blood as an indicator where they should drill and blast out a test pocket in search of the silver vein.

This particular incidence of dragon’s blood has seeped out and formed fairly recently. If it had existed at the time the Lebanon Tunnel was actively mined, there would be a drift there where ore was blasted and removed. It is estimated this dragon’s blood began showing sometime between 1896 when this mine closed for good and was blasted shut, and 1976 when the SeaBees came to open the mine to turn it into an optional tourist attraction add-on to the historic Georgetown Loop Railroad tour. 

I have written seven books for the multi-author series, Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs. Jubilee Springs is a hypothetical silver mining town set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My most recent book in the series, Two Sisters and the Christmas Groom, Book 18, is currently available. Please CLICK HERE.

My eighth Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs book, and my next book to be released, Nathan's Nurse, Book 19, is the first book in which I wrote a scene that took place inside the Prosperity Mine. 
Nathan's Nurse is currently on pre-order and is schedule for release on December 27, 2019. You may access the book description and purchase link by CLICKING HERE.

Wikipedia: dragon’s blood & silver oxide
my notes from a tour of the Lebanon Tunnel Silver Mine

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


By Caroline Clemmons

My husband, daughters, and I have long been fascinated by American Indians. We have tromped over Anasazi ruins in summer heat from Tennessee to New Mexico. Although we did make it as far north as Hovenweep and Mesa Verde, the rest of our stops have been in the southern United States.

Recently, I needed a tribe of American Indians to use for my book MELODY. That setting is Montana Territory, so I investigated that area. The Blackfeet/Blackfoot tribe was perfect for my story. I’ve always wondered why they were called Blackfeet.  I found the reason is because they dyed their moccasins black.

The Blackfeet are an Algonquin people who were migratory hunter gatherers of the plains. Late in the eighteenth century, they acquired the horse. Having horses gave them the ability to become great buffalo hunters. They raised tobacco which they mixed with herbs and called kinnikinnik.

You can imagine that for a book, I needed descriptions of their lifestyle, dress, and customs. I found wonderful graphics and photos online as well as customary names. I imagined a chief named Grey Wolf.
Chief Grey Wolf

Because my hero, Nick Walker, was a doctor, I thought he should meet the Blackfeet shaman. The graphic I found would be frightening to encounter. The medicine man dressed in a bearskin with the head attached and worn on top of his head. On the fur were attached reptile skins, bones, and feathers.
Blackfeet Shaman/Medicine Man

There are three major tribal divisions:
Blackfeet (Siksika) – North Blackfeet are those with black-dyed moccasins
Blood Kainai) – Middle
Piegan (Pikani) – Poorly dressed of the Southern area and the largest of the three Blackfeet-speaking groups that make up the Blackfoot Confederacy.

Piegan peoples in Canada and the United States were forced to divide their traditional homelands in the nineteenth century according to national borders. They were forced to sign treaties with one of those two countries, settle in reservations on one side or the other of the Canada/U.S. border. They were enrolled in one of two government-like bodies sanctioned by those two countries. Those in the U. S. are the Blackfoot Nation, a federally recognized tribe in Montana. The Pikani Nation is a recognized Indian band in Alberta, Canada.

Women wore traditional deerskin dresses. Men wore buckskin tunics and breechcloths with leggings. Both were often fringed and decorated with porcupine quills, beads, and elk teeth. In winter, they used buffalo hides as coats.

In spite of treaties, Blackfeet lands were decreased many, many times. In 1896, a 20-mile wide strip of Blackfeet Reservation was ceded. This strip is known today as Glacier National Park. The Blackfeet claim the land was only provided for a 99-year lease.

Twice the band was decreased by smallpox. Other conflicts affected the population. The Blackfoot Massacre, often called the Bear River Massacre, the Baker Massacre, or the Marias Massacre occurred on January 23, 1870. The Heavy Runner Band was camped on the Bear River during cold winter weather. A column of cavalry and infantry under the command of Major Eugene Baker attacked the sleeping camp early in the morning. The attack was purportedly to be in response to the killing of an influential rancher, Malcom Clark. Clark had been in several conflicts with Owl Child, a Piegan, who was not camped with Heavy Runner, but with Mountain Chief. By the end of the attack, 217 people had been killed. The largest numbers of victims were women and children. The army gave the death count at 173. While some political leaders were outraged, no disciplinary actions were taken against Clark or any of the soldiers.

The first land allotments were made on the Blackfeet Reservation in 1907-1908. Approximately 2,656 individual Blackfeet tribal members received allotments. In 1911, this was amended to include children born after the middle of the year, who were allotted 80 acres.

In 1934 of the 1,785 eligible voters, 994 voted in favor of tribal organization under the Wheeler Howard Act, commonly known as the Indian Reorganization Act. Under this legislation, the Blackfeet Tribal Constitution and By-Laws were ratified in 1935, creating a representative form of government through elected tribal council representatives. Originally numbering 13, tribal council representatives now number nine.

Did you find this tribe as fascinating as I did? I hope so. I also hope you’ll chose to read MELODY, Angel Creek Christmas Brides book 7. The universal Amazon link is

Here’s the blurb:

Such a tiny lie…
Desperation drove her…
She couldn’t know the risk…

After the death of her grandmother, Melody Fraser must quickly leave what has been her home in South Carolina. There are those who think she murdered her Nana Fraser. She’s innocent but there’s talk about arrest and prosecution. To escape, this Southern belle agrees to become a mail-order bride in far away Montana.  

Nicholas “Nick” Walker is a doctor from Gettysburg whose wife and children were killed when mortar fire destroyed their home. Eager to escape the memories and ravages of the Civil War, he buys a medical practice in Montana Territory. He wants a competent nurse who can assist him with operations and care for patients as his plans expand for a hospital. He wants a well-organized wife to keep him company and start a family. With his usual efficiency, he combines the two into one job description when he requests a mail-order bride.

What will it take to teach Nick that—although she isn’t what he expected—Melody is exactly what he needs?

Here are a couple of quotes from my beta readers:
“I REALLY like this story. It has a lot of substance with fleshed out characters. I loved reading it.”

“Melody is a charming, engaging story that will heal your heart.”