Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hey, Ranger!

By Peggy L Henderson

The west wouldn’t be the west without its rangers. Many stories have been written about the most famous of the western rangers, namely the Texas Rangers. Sorry, I’m not going to talk about them today. I am going to talk about a different ranger. The National Park Ranger, and how the National Park Service came to be.

After Yellowstone became our first national park on March 1, 1872, Congress set aside exactly zero dollars to fund the park. The first superintendent, Nathaniel P. Langford, was not paid a salary.
Visitors came to Yellowstone almost immediately after its creation, and along with them came the vandals and poachers. Yellowstone’s natural resources, which were the sole reason the park was created in the first place, were being destroyed as poachers killed animals, souvenir hunters broke off pieces of geological formations, and developers established numerous tourist camps.
Langford resigned in 1877, disgusted with Congress and their refusal to help support the park. Along came Phileus Norris, who volunteered for the superintendent position. He was finally able to get Congress to financially help support the park, and he set aside $1000 of the $15,000 he received in 1880 to pay for a “game keeper”, someone who would protect the wildlife of Yellowstone from undue slaughter. Hunting was not regulated within the park’s boundaries until 1877, and not prohibited until 1883.
Harry Yount, a civil war veteran, hunter, trapper, guide, and packer, was appointed to the position of game keeper in 1880.
“Rocky Mountain Harry Yount” has been described as “a typical leatherstocking frontiersman. He was rough, tough, and intelligent.” Independent, resourceful, able to subsist on his own, and having familiarity and knowledge of the natural processes surrounding him, Harry Yount has become an archetypal model for the National Park Ranger.
He pointed out in a report that it was impossible for one man to patrol the entire park, and urged the formation of a ranger force. He is credited with being the first national park ranger.
As a result of his report, and his resignation a mere 14 months into the job, the park turned to the US Army for help. In 1886, men from Company M, First US Cavalry, Fort Custer, Montana Territory, came to Yellowstone to begin a - what would be thirty year - military presence in the park. The troops lived in temporary frame buildings near Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. After enduring five cold and harsh winters, they realized they would not be leaving anytime soon. In 1890, Congress appointed $50,000 for a permanent post, and Fort Yellowstone was completed in 1891.
Soldiers stationed at the fort were ordered to “conduct themselves in a courteous and polite, but firm and decided manner” when carrying out their duties.
In 1912, President Taft in a special message to Congress said: "I earnestly recommend the establishment of a Bureau of National Parks. Such legislation is essential to the proper management of those wonderful manifestations of nature, so startling and so beautiful that everyone recognizes the obligations of the government to preserve them for the edification and recreation of the people."

The National Park Service Act was signed on August 30, 1916.
Soon after, soldiers were discharged from the Army to form the first ranks of park rangers. The National Park Service took over protection of Yellowstone National Park, "by arrangement with the War Department, and with its hearty cooperation," on October 1, 1916. The National Park Service assumed full administrative responsibilities in 1918.

During the Army's tenure, they developed regulations that put much emphasis on conservation, and under their watchful eyes, the features and wildlife of Yellowstone National Park were protected from vandalism and extinction. Many of the policies initiated by the army at Fort Yellowstone were later adopted by the National Park Service.

Today, the old post is known as the Fort Yellowstone-Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District, designated as a National Historic Landmark on July 31, 2003. Within the district are the administrative headquarters for Yellowstone National Park. It is located in the northwestern portion of the park on an old hot springs formation. 
Numerous buildings continue to stand including the Captain's Quarters, Post Headquarters, Guard House, Hospital Annex, Commissary and Quartermaster storehouses, and several more.

Duties of the park ranger today include:
Law enforcement – park rangers hold police powers and enforce national laws and park regulations
Interpretation and Education – park rangers provide a wide range of informational services to visitors
Emergency Response – They are trained in wilderness first aid and participate in search and rescue to locate lost persons in the wilderness
Firefighting – park rangers are often the first to spot forest fires and are trained in wild land firefighting
Scientists and scholars – they are responsible for protecting the natural resources or cultural sights for which they work

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Women Who Dared to be Free


“The emancipation of women may have begun not with the vote, nor in the cities where women marched and carried signs and protested, but rather when they mounted a good cowhorse and realized how different and fine the view. From the back of a horse, the world looked wider and possibilities greater.”

~ Joyce Gibson Roach, Texas author, teacher and folklorist

I love that quote, don’t you? It paints a picture of western women, not just as housewives who cooked, laundered and raised children, but as adventurers who loved riding the range just as much as their menfolk. Women who dared to free themselves, to break the shackles placed upon them by society.

When pioneer women crossed the Mississippi River, they left behind the laws and customs of the East. They may not have given that fact much thought, but the hardships of frontier life forced them to assume new roles they never would have dreamed of back home. Many were wives and mothers, struggling to maintain a crude home, raise their children and drive off marauding Indians with a gun if need be, while their husbands worked the land or herded cattle. Often they were left alone for weeks, even months with only themselves to depend on.

Others, single women, widows or wives wanting to supplement their family income, took up work that ranged from running a boardinghouse or hotel, to baking and selling pies to hungry miners, to designing hats and dressmaking. Still others worked on horseback.

We generally think of ranch hands and drovers in the old west as men, but the fact is women also worked cattle, broke horses, roped and branded steers. Most were wives or daughters of ranchers and occasionally ranch owners themselves.

“We ranchwomen today really don’t know the hardships the ladies did then. My grandmother had it really tough. Since my grandfather was a sheriff and a U.S. marshal, she took care of the ranch. She worked in the hay fields and broke all the horses.” ~ Carol Horn of the Horn Ranch in Granby, Colorado

There were also a daring few western women who hired on as cowhands. One who became famous was Middy Morgan. An Irish colleen by birth, Middy came to the U.S. in search of a new life. Not finding New York to her liking, she headed west and took a job as a hired girl with a rancher.

“So completely did she identify herself with the change in her position, that in a short time she had acquired so much skill in the breeding and rearing of stock that the farmer (rancher,) perceiving her value, admitted her to a partnership in the farm (ranch.) Soon did her fame spread abroad, and at every fair and cattle market in the West was her name familiar. Gradually this fame has travelled East, and indeed no reputation is so widespread over all the Union as that of Middy Morgan.” ~ The North British Agriculturalist, June 30, 1880

When the Earl of Dunmore decided to try his hand at ranching in Montana in 1880, he needed to know which of his 30,000 head of Scottish cattle would fare best in the Montana environment. He chose Middy Morgan as his advisor.

The North British Agriculturalist went on to describe her this way:

“At every great fair or market may she be seen, with broad-brimmed hat tied down beneath her chin by a bandanna handkerchief, a thick frieze coat with many capes, short skirt, ingeniously gathered into high leather boots, something like knickerbocker costume. With a long cowhide whip in hand, wending her way with skill between the droves, now stooping low to examine the hoofs, now standing on tiptoe to examine the head of the beast brought to her for valuation; and so great is the reliance placed by the farmers (ranchers) on her judgement in these matters, that none would ever seek to cheapen the animal after Middy Morgan has pronounced her verdict . . .”

Seems like Miss Morgan and all her unheralded sisters were indeed emancipated in many ways by heading west.

Horshoe, cactus, stetson & horse divider  New Cover redo 2013

The heroine of Dashing Irish, Texas Devlins Book II, is a daughter of the West who does a man’s job but longs for love.


“Consarned critter! Why’d you have to go and get stuck in there?” Lil Crawford muttered. She tugged harder on her rope in an effort to pull the bawling calf from the mud wallow it had wandered into. No luck. The animal was mired nearly up to his shoulders in thick clay gumbo. No matter how hard she pulled, she wasn’t going to get him out.

Nearby, standing beside the creek that had carved out the treacherous wallow along the bank, the calf’s mamma lowed plaintively as if blaming Lil for her baby’s predicament. Sending her a baleful glare, Lil said, “It’s not my fault. You should’ve dropped him in the spring like you’re supposed to ’stead of in the middle of summer. Then maybe he’d be big enough to climb out of this dang mud.”

Arms crossed, she studied the situation. She considered letting Major, her buckskin gelding, drag the calf out but feared injuring the little mite, possibly even breaking his neck. She sighed in disgust. There was no help for it; she’d have to get down in the mud and wrestle the calf out. It was either that or leave him there to die a slow, miserable death.

Dropping to the ground, she tugged off her boots and socks. She set them near the edge of the wallow, then rose, unbuckled her gun belt and laid it atop her footgear, where she could reach her six-shooter if need be. Her hat joined the pile for good measure.

Lil took a deep breath, set her teeth and stepped into the wallow, cringing as she sank up to her knees in the gooey muck. It squished between her toes and clung to her legs, plastering her britches to her skin. It also stank of rotting grass and other things she’d as soon not name.

Crooning softly to the frightened calf, she wrapped her arms around his middle, coating her hands, arms and shirt with mud in the process. She braced herself, preparing to wrestle the animal free.

A man’s deep-throated laugh caught her off guard. Jolted by the sound, she cried out in surprise and struggled to turn around, fighting the mud that imprisoned her legs. Once she succeeded, she stared, slack-jawed, at the stranger grinning at her from atop the most broken down nag she’d ever laid eyes on. The dude himself was a sight to behold. Togged out in a funny checked suit, with a derby hat atop jet-black hair, he made her lips twitch. However, her humor fled when she met his eyes. Brilliant blue, they shot sparks of light, brighter than the toothy grin splitting his handsome face.

“Sure’n I must be dreaming,” he said in a lilting Irish brogue. “Or are ye truly a lovely faery maid sent to enchant me?”

His foolish question broke Lil’s frozen stare and roused her anger. She knew she was far from lovely, and right now she was covered with nasty muck besides. “Mister, I’m no fairy and I don’t take kindly to strangers who ride up on me with no warning. So you can just turn that bag of bones around and git. Right now!”

“Ah, colleen, will ye not grant this poor beggar a few moments of your company? ’Twould be my pleasure to help ye with the wee animal if ye like.”

She snorted at his offer. “No thanks. I can get him out by myself. ’Sides, you wouldn’t want to muddy up your fancy suit, would you?” she drawled with a smirk.

He looked down at himself and grimaced. “I take it ye don’t care for my fine attire.” Fine came out sounding like foin. “Well, you’re not the first. A layer of mud might not be such a bad thing, eh? With that in mind, will ye not reconsider and allow me to lend ye a hand?” He gave another roguish grin and splayed a hand over his heart. “In truth, your beauty so captivates me that I fear I cannot turn away.”

Lil bristled at his absurd comment. Certain he was making fun of her now, for her beauty would never captivate any man, she narrowed her eyes. She’d teach him, by criminy!

Without a word, she plowed through the mud over to where her belongings lay piled. She hastily wiped the worst of the mud from her hands onto the grassy embankment, then reached under her hat and drew her Colt. Coldly calm now, she turned to face the impudent stranger. It pleased her to see how fast he sobered with a gun aimed between his eyes.

“This is Double C land, mister. You’re trespassing. I could shoot you dead and nobody’d blame me. So unless you want a hole in your head bigger than your mouth, you’d best get moving.”

Sighing, he crooked his lips. “As ye wish.” He tipped his hat to her, clumsily reined his horse around and started to leave, but then he pulled up and glanced at her over his shoulder. He held up his hands when she cocked her gun. “I’m going, colleen, never fear. But first, could ye be directing me to the Taylor place, by any chance?”

Lil stared at him for a moment while questions raced through her head. Normally, she didn’t poke her nose into other folks’ business, but in this case . . . . “What do you want at the River T?” she demanded.

He frowned testily. “I mean no harm, if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m merely trying to find my sister. She’s wed to David Taylor. D’ye know him?”

Lil drew a sharp breath. “You’re Jessie’s brother?”

“Aye, that I am. So ye do know them.”

“I know them all right,” she gritted. She should’ve guessed who he was from his damned Irish accent and those blue eyes that were so much like his sister’s. The two looked a lot alike in other ways, too, except Jessie’s hair was dark red instead of black. And he was handsome, not beautiful.

Fiddlesticks! She didn’t care what he looked like. And she didn’t cotton to the way he was staring at her now, as if he was trying to see inside her head. It gave her an uneasy feeling. She wanted him gone. If giving him directions would get rid of him, so much the better.

“Follow the creek. It’ll take you to their place,” she snapped, jerking her head in the downstream direction. “Now leave before my trigger finger slips. On purpose.”

He blinked and seemed to come back to himself. “I thank ye for your kind assistance, milady,” he said mockingly. Facing forward, he kicked his sorry mount into a stiff-legged trot and headed down the creek, bouncing in his saddle.

Watching him, Lil snickered. He was a greenhorn if there ever was one, and he was going to be mighty sore tonight. She waited until he was well out of sight before laying her gun aside and returning her attention to the mired calf.

Dashing Irish (Texas Devlins, Tye’s Story)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0069HLDJU (Kindle)

http://tinyurl.com/lk8w55d (Nook)


Riding Pretty: Rodeo Royalty in the American West by Renee M. Laegreid

Quotable Texas Women by Susie Kelly Flatau and Lou Halsell Rodenberger

Cowgirls, Women of the American West by Teresa Jordan

Friday, July 18, 2014

The 101 Ranch and Wild West Show

Presented by Sarah J. McNeal, author of contemporary, historical, paranormal, time travel and western stories.

                                                  The Ranch 101

Years ago, after my father died, when I received Grandfather McNeal’s family trunk, for the very first time, I looked at the things that lay beneath the false bottom. Before then, Pop had only shown us the things at the top of the trunk, things like pocket watches, clay and wooden smoking pipes, wire rimmed glasses, a huge magnifying glass, and other small items. I was very curious about what lay beneath that false bottom.

After I removed the false bottom, I discovered a photo album with all the pictures Uncle John had taken while he toured the United States and Canada on his motorcycle. I found his death certificate, birth certificate, an envelope containing all the news clippings of his drowning and a two letters he wrote home to his family. Uncle Donald, on the other hand, must have written home every week because there were quite a few letters from him. The trunk was full of old pictures, tintypes, marriage, birth and death certificates, letters from other family members, a childhood drawing by my sister, Mary, my baby book and a school paper with the word purple colored with purple crayon that I enthusiastically colored having discovered the color for the first time.
And there were other things that didn’t have anything to do with family; among them two rolled up posters from an old rodeo. One poster was of a cowboy on a horse, and the other was an American Indian on a horse. 

(Thanks to my nephew, Matthew McNeal Beaty for taking these pictures of the posters)

The posters were very colorful and I could tell they were quite old. I knew that if I didn’t do something to preserve them, they would eventually deteriorate. I had both posters framed with acid free paper behind them and spacers so they wouldn’t touch the glass the way museums preserve such things. It was certainly worth the money it cost to do it.
It wasn’t until I read a Southern Living Magazine article about the Ranch 101 in Oklahoma and saw posters of the rodeo, one of which looked just like mine, that I realized what those two posters were all about and the magnificent history behind them.

The 101 Ranch began as a cattle ranch in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma on 110,000 acres before Oklahoma was a state. It was founded by Colonel George Washington Miller, a Confederate Army veteran, in 1893. The 101 Ranch was the birthplace of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show and was also an early focal point of the oil rush in northeastern Oklahoma.

                                      The Huge Ranch House at the 101 Ranch
                                            (What's up with those ostriches?)

When Colonel Miller died in 1903, his three sons, George Jr., Zack, and Joseph took over the operation. Their neighbor, Major Gordon W. Lillie, who performed as Pawnee Bill, convinced the brothers to produce their own Wild West Show. The brothers, who had done local performances, began shows on a national level in 1907 and began their show at the Jamestown Exposition in Virginia. From there, they began touring in Brighton Beach, New York. An exceptional equestrian, the eldest brother, Joe, was the star performer. As their show grew, it included well known performers such as Lillian Smith, Bill Picket, a black performer who also worked on their ranch for thirty years, Bessie Herberg, Bee Ho Gray, Tom Mix, Jack Hoxie, Mexican Joe, Ross Hettan, and the now elderly Buffalo Bill.

                          A Mural of the 101 Ranch Painted on the Side of a Building

Because they came into the Wild West Show business late, they suffered financial set backs due to the invention of motion pictures. They also suffered problems that cost them money during their first year after a serious railroad accident, followed by an outbreak of typhoid fever among the cast. Later, Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill combined their shows into an extravaganza that broke records at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. The Miller brothers took their show abroad. In England, the British confiscated the 101 horses, stagecoaches, and automobiles for the war effort while tensions were building that would lead to World War I. In Germany, the Oglala Indians were arrested under suspicion of being Serbian spies and were never seen again. Zack Miller became frantic and managed to get all of them out of Germany through Norway, and back to England, but he couldn’t find a steamship that would sell them passage. Finally, he was able to obtain passage on an American ship for his cast. Once they returned to Oklahoma, Joe Miller refused to pay the Indian cast overtime, and as a consequence, the entire Indian cast left.

                                   Geronimo touring the 101 Ranch in an automobile

By 1916, the two youngest brothers had had enough of their volatile eldest brother, Joe. George Jr. and Zach went back to working on the ranch, but Joe had big ideas of making the show a success. He hired the aging and out of work Buffalo Bill to star in a World War I recruitment show he called the "Pageant of Preparedness." Buffalo Bill Cody quit the show and died with a year. Undeterred, Joe persisted to try to sell the show to the American Circus Corporation until 1927, but was unsuccessful. In October 21, 1927, Joe was found dead by a neighbor in the 101 Ranch garage with his car still running. His death was determined accidental by the family doctor. In 1929, George Jr. died in a car accident.

                                                Pawnee Bill and Zack Miller

Zack Miller tried to carry on alone, but The Great Depression hit and, in 1932, Zack filed for bankruptcy. The United States government seized the show’s remaining assets and bought 8,000 acres of the 101 Ranch. The show closed after the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Zack died of cancer in 1952.

The 101 Ranch Oil company
Back in 1908, the Miller brothers had entered into a leasing agreement with E. W. Marland, who formed the 101 Ranch Oil Company. After striking oil in 1911 at the “Wiilie-Cires-for-War” well, Marland would become a millionaire and then a U. S. congressman. Eventually he was elected governor of  Oklahoma. The 1911 discovery of oil led to the founding of Marland Oil Company, which later became renamed the Continental Oil Company, and finally, the Conoco Phillips Company.

The 101 Ranch Historic Landmark

After Zack went bankrupt, the federal farm Security Administration divided what was left of the ranch and sold it off in parcels to individuals. The 101 Ranch house and most of the other buildings were torn down. Until September 22, 1987, the 101 Ranch store remained standing until it burned in a fire. Very little is left of the 101 Ranch today, but in 1990, the Oklahoma Legislature designated State Highway 156 as the 101 Ranch Memorial Road. An historic marker is located on the highway just 13 miles southwest of Ponca City. All that remains of the 101 Ranch today, is a couple silos and some building foundations of the store, other outbuildings, and the once palatial house on one acre of land.

Bill Picket, was posthumously inducted into the Cowboy Hall of fame in1971. The legendary African-American cowboy was additionally honored in 1994 when his image appeared on a special issue U.S. Postal stamp as part of the notable “Legends of the West” series.
His grave and the White Eagle Monument are located on the ranch grounds.
Wild West Show performer, Lillian Frances Smith. Known professionally as Princess Wenona. The Murphey’s found her grave in Ponca City’s IOOF Cemetery. Her grave was simply marked with a small stone that read, “P. Wenona”. Lillian Smith once billed as the “Champion Rifle Shot of the World” toured with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Shows and later performed with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show from the 1880’s into the late 1920’s died destitute in 1930 while a resident of Marland, OK.

                               Location of Kay County Oklahoma and the 101 Ranch 

                                      All that remains of the 101 Ranch Today
Preservation Measures
I was happy to learn that funding to restore some of the 101 Ranch is ongoing by several organizations and they are making progress in buying back part of the land that the 101 Ranch once owned.

In January of 1996 the 101 Ranch Old Timers acquired the remaining acreage owned by the 101 Ranch Restoration Foundation and later that year opened three acres as a public picnic area.

For its 1996 dedication, the United States Department of Interior supplied National Parks Service historic plaques. Hundreds attended as Indians danced in front of teepees while cowboys and cowgirls on horseback paraded with wagons and a stagecoach during the ceremony.

On August 16, 1998, the Old Timers group with the City of Ponca City sponsored the dedication of a monument to the memory of the late Bill Pickett of the 101 Ranch. Today, that engraved flat stone monument can be found at the corner of Third St. and Grand Avenue in downtown Ponca City, OK. Pickett was both a working and performing cowboy from 1905 to 1932 with the historical ranch and its Wild West Shows. He is credited with the innovation of what is known today as the rodeo sport of “Bulldogging”.

In August of 1999, the 101 Ranch Old Timers and other sponsors unveiled a handsome stone monument for “Princess Wenona at her Ponca City I00F grave site. The four foot tall black marble memorial headstone features the image of Princess Wenona along with her record breaking accomplishments as a trick shot artist and association with the 101 Ranch.

In December of 2004, the Old Timers group hosted a national television film crew doing a segment for the History Channel series, “History’s Mysteries”. On the subject of the 101 Ranch, that episode aired in 2005.

During the summer of 2007, the 101 Ranch was chosen as a topic by the Oklahoma Educational Television System broadcast series “Oklahoma Horizon” (www.okhorizon.org). It also appeared internationally on the Dish satellite systems’ RFD-TV network (Dish satellite channel 231).

The 101 Ranch OTA offers a single DVD on the history of the 101 Ranch. Produced by Ken Greenwood and Cox Communication Company, the DVD is titled, ‘Cowboys and Tall Grass Country-The 101 Ranch”.

 For Your Viewing Pleasure
Documentary video of 101 Ranch

Ghosts and Legends: the 101 ranch

Wikipedia History of the 101 Ranch
History of the 101 Ranch Old Timers Association by Al Ritter

The information on the 101 Ranch was taken from: The Noble County Genealogy Society History of Noble County Oklahoma Perry, OK: McNaughton & Gunn, Inc., 1987. Permission was granted by the Noble County Genealogy Society to Cheryl DeJager and the Cherokee Strip Museum to use this information for research purposes. The information should not be used for publication or for other purposes without the express permission of the Noble County Genealogy Society.
Note: Not all of the photographs contained in this exhibit are available at the Cherokee Strip Museum. Photographs may have been edited for presentation on the web site.

 Where you can find me:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

MOB in The Old West ~Tanya Hanson

I first tell in love with the Old West through childhood books like Caddie Woodlawn and the Little House series. Oh, the outdoorsie, pioneer life seemed just right for me. These days I am very much an indoor-plumbing/Marriott sort of girl, but those childhood fantasies just won’t quit. Hence, writing western romance. And one of my favorite themes to read or write is the Mail Order Bride.

In my book Marrying Minda, the good guys of Minda Becker’s Pennsylvania hometown are either dead or severely maimed due to the Civil War. After raising three little sisters, she refuses to be a caretaker anymore. Joining a “hearts and hand club”, she finds the perfect mate: a well-off farmer in Nebraska. She arrives in Paradise wearing her wedding gown and...marries the wrong man.

In my latest, Her Hurry-up Husband, socialite Elspeth Maroney needs to hide from a serious indiscretion in the city. Escaping to the outback of Colorado as a rancher’s MOB--just for one month--sounds about right. But of course she wants to stay with Hezekiah forever after about ten minutes.

Okay, these are fictions. What provoked a woman in the 19th century to partake in such a life-changing decision fraught with danger? We all have happy endings in our books, but was MOB-ing worth the risk?
What would get a woman to travel hundreds of miles to marry a man she didn't know? Or at best, knew only from letters and a tintype or two?

Here’s what I think:

1.  Starting Over.  Like my Elspeth Maroney, her reputation is in tatters and a future in her normal locale is too scandalous.

2.  Lack of Suitable Men.  It’s true. Gender equality didn't exist in much of 19th century America. And I don’t mean voting rights. I mean, as with my Minda Becker...the East had a proliferation of females due to the deadly costs of the Civil War. In the West, the frontier teemed with masculine jobs like logging, gold mining, and starting up a farm or ranch from scratch. Here, men outnumbered women as much as 3, sometimes 4 four, to one.
(dark spots on this census map indicate the highest concentration of males.) 

3.  Her Desire for Excitement and Adventure.  Sounds scary to me without the modern advantages of internet searches, eHarmony, and Google Earth. Goodness, one’s intended might write about a gorgeous, three thousand acre spread that turns out to be a dug-out in the side of a hill. And shivers...maybe he’s an ax murderer...

4.  Civilize and evangelize!  The untamed west was full of saloons and bordellos and pretty short on churches, tea rooms and schools.

5.  Looking for Love...and the usual places just aren't working.

6.  Financial security...she’s down on her luck and has nothing else to try and nowhere else to go.

As for guys advertising for mail order brides, well, we all know their needs: bedroom and kitchen. Just kidding. Men too wanted love, companionship, and families...culture and cleanliness. In 1849, a ship arriving in San Francisco with a promised load of MOB’s actually produced only three..leaving the waiting bachelors so bereft they went on an epic spree of drunkenness.

What do you think? What would motivate a woman to become a mail order bride?

Prim and proper socialite Elspeth Maroney flees from an indiscretion to the Wild West of Colorado as a mail order bride. She doesn’t plan to stay long, only a month. Rancher Hezekiah Steller needs a wife quick to get himself an heir, but what will the stagecoach deliver to his doorstep?

Their worlds collide deliciously until Ellie must confess her mistakes. Will Hez still want her tomorrow?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tabitha Brown, Mother of Oregon

by Anna Kathryn Lanier

 I wrote about Tabitha Brown’s covered wagon journey to Oregon in a previous blog (find it HERE) and made short mention about her story after her arrival in Oregon.  For those unfamiliar with Mrs. Brown, she started the 1846 cross-country journey in her sixties, already a widow.  Her older brother-in-law traveled with her.  They arrived at the end of the trail with only the clothes on their backs.  It was then that Tabitha discovered that what she thought was a button at the end of a glove’s fingertip was really a six-and-one-fourth cent piece.  She used the meager amount to “purchase three needles and traded off some of my old clothes to the squaws for buckskin, and worked it into gloves for the Oregon ladies and gentlemen.” During her first winter, she profited $30.

In October 1847, about a year after arriving, Mrs. Brown visited her son on the West Tualatin Plains, (now called Forest Grove). There she met the Reverend and Mrs. Harvey Clark, missionaries in the area, and learned many children arrived as orphans when their parents died on journey west.  She was moved by this revelation and asked The Reverend Clark “Why has Providence frowned on my and left me poor in this world? Had He blessed me with riches as He has many others, I know right well what I should do. I should establish myself in a comfortable house and receive all poor children and be a mother to them.”  Believing in her sincerity, Rev. Clark provided Mrs. Brown with the means to start up a school for orphans.  In the Spring of 1848, she “found all things in readiness for me to go into the old meetinghouse and cluck up my chickens for the next Monday morning.”

The first school in the territory to board children, local families also sent their children to be educated. Those who could afford it paid a dollar a week per child.  By 1851, her ‘family’ had 40 people at Tualatin Academy.  In 1854, the territorial legislature altered the academy’s charter to provide for the creation of Pacific University.  The academy and the college thrived under Mrs. Brown’s tutelage. The growth of a local public high school caused the Tualatin Academy to be closed in 1915 and Pacific University stood on its own -- a pioneer institution of higher education.   The University still thrives today, thanks to a woman who wanted only to care for and education orphans.

Pacific University

For her representation as a person of “distinctive pioneer heritage, and the charitable and compassionate nature, of Oregon's people,” Tabitha Brown was proclaimed The Mother of Oregon and is one of only six women whose name is inscribed in the legislative chambers of the Oregon State Capitol.

Tabitha died in 1858 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Salem, Oregon.

For further reading:
Covered Wagon Women: Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 by Kenneth L. Holmes

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Never let your memories be greater than your dreams. ~Doug Ivester 

Travel by Horse

By Kathleen Rice Adams

Horses are a staple of western fiction. When writing or reading about them, it’s helpful to understand common terms about the way they move. Whether or not an experienced horseman can see the animal, he or she can tell how fast the critter is moving by the distinctive sound of hooves striking the earth.

A walk is a four-beat gait, meaning three hooves remain on the ground while the fourth moves. The walk is a very comfortable gait for riders. It’s smooth, producing only a slight swaying motion. At a walk, riders have no trouble keeping their butts in the saddle.

Horses can walk all day, even under saddle, but they don’t move very far very fast. The average horse will cover three to four miles an hour at a walk; some move as slowly as two miles per hour.

Trot and jog
Technically, a jog is slower than a trot, but practically—at least in western riding—both gaits are referred to as jogging. Jogging is a two-beat gait in which diagonal pairs of legs move together: left rear with right front; right rear with left front.

Trotting primarily is associated with horse shows (during which judges want to see that a horse can move at variety of speeds on command) and harness racing. Racing trotters often cover as much ground as quickly as other horses gallop. Some harness races require horses to pace, in which the legs on each side move together while the legs on the other remain on the ground.

The jog is a horse’s natural working gait. If left to his own devices (and not escaping a threat), a horse will move at a jog when he wants to cover distance quickly. Horses can jog for a long time without tiring, but many riders can’t take the pace. With a few notable exceptions, a jog can be extremely jarring and puts enormous strain on the muscles in a rider’s legs, back, and abdomen. Working cowboys who spend a good deal of time in the saddle may move their horses at a jog, but pleasure riders generally try to avoid the gait if they value their butts, which slap the saddle with each step until the rider learns to “move with the horse.”

At a jog, horses cover an average of about eight miles an hour. So-called “gaited horses” like the Tennessee Walking Horse and the American Saddlebred don’t jog or trot. Instead, their natural middle gait, a “running walk,” can cover as many as fifteen miles in an hour. Because all four hooves move independently, a running walk is a comfortable gait for riders. Both breeds are primarily pleasure, not working, horses.

Lope or canter
Lope and canter are essentially the same gait, a three-beat movement in which three hooves are off the ground while a rear leg supports the horse’s weight. At a lope, horses can cover about ten to fifteen miles in an hour; some can reach speeds of up to twenty-seven miles per hour.

Note: Horses under western saddle lope. Canter is an English-riding term, possibly derived from Canterbury.

The gallop, a four-beat gait, is the horsey equivalent of run and averages about thirty miles per hour. Horses bred for speed, like Thoroughbreds and racing Quarter Horses, can gallop as fast as fifty miles per hour.

In the wild, horses gallop in order to escape a threat. Most horses can gallop for only a mile or two without risking serious injury or death. (Yes, some horses will run themselves to death at the urging of a rider.)

How far can a horse travel?
How far a horse can travel in a day depends on the horse’s condition, the availability of food and water, and the terrain he is asked to cover. At a combination of lope and walk, a young horse in optimal condition can travel fifty to sixty miles a day in good weather over flat terrain, as long as he is allowed to drink and graze every couple of hours. The faster a horse moves, the more often he will need to rest, eat, and drink.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the longer a horse moves fast, the shorter the distance it can cover in a day. Pony Express riders galloped about 10 miles (or about half an hour) before changing horses and usually covered 60-70 miles a day, but that was an exceptionally grueling pace for the rider. A good average pace is about 40 miles per day, which is the speed the U.S. Cavalry aimed for during the nineteenth century. Over uneven terrain or in bad weather, a horse and rider would do well to cover twenty miles per day. In the mountains, ten miles per day would be a good pace.

Many cowboys carried grain—usually corn or oats—in order to get more out of their horses. Grain provides increased carbohydrate-based energy. Sweet feed, which contains molasses, was not as common unless a horse was stabled. Horses love sweet feed, but it’s not good for them except as a treat.

Remember, too, that most working cowboys preferred—and still prefer—to ride geldings over mares or stallions. As a rule, geldings are much more tractable than either stallions (which can be a handful at best and a nightmare if a mare anywhere in the vicinity is in season) or mares (who naturally establish a pecking order within a herd and can be cranky). In the wild, a mare runs the herd; stallions are tolerated only for breeding and protection.