Saturday, November 16, 2019

Mail Order and Proxy Brides – Why?

I am participating in the Proxy Brides multi-author series. I’ll be having a new one coming out in March and need to start brainstorming ideas. Since this is my fourth to write for this series, I was scratching my head a bit as to what scenario to write. This coincided nicely with my need to write this article. So I started doing some research and now my brain is abuzz with ideas. This was definitely a win/win situation :-)

One of the most basic reasons that men tried to find spouses through the mail during the nineteenth century was because of an imbalance in the gender ratio. There were many factors that contributed to this imbalance, ranging from the California gold rush, to the American Civil War, to westward expansion. The first significant event to contribute to the unbalanced gender ratio was the discovery of gold in California in 1848. It inspired many a man – both domestic, and international – to head to the American West in an attempt to find his fortune.

Many pioneers were disappointed to discover that all of the easily-accessible gold had already been panned. After investing extensive time and money to travel by ship, wagon, or railway, however, they were not about to head back home. As the 19th century progressed, pioneers headed into the mid-West and West in search of gold, natural resources, open land, and a fresh start. Some were coming from the eastern portion of the United States, but others came from foreign countries. Between 1850 and 1890 approximately 7.5 million European immigrants traveled to the United States, a portion of them settling on farms in the western part of the country. Due to the demanding nature of farming, some men sought to marry and have children who could help them to establish and maintain a farm. For others it was particularly significant to marry and have children so as to carry on the family name.

There were plenty of other reasons that men of the West wanted to marry. Some men desired a spouse because they were lonely, some needed money, and still others hoped for someone who shared their cultural background. It is important to note that while there were not as many white women in the American West, there was not a total absence of women. Indigenous women were, of course, present in the American West, and some pioneers formed relationships with them. Statehood advocates feared that inter-racial marriages would not count as “civilized behavior” and therefore threaten the possibility of transitioning from territory to statehood. Many Americans expected that the presence of (white) women would help to civilize the Wild West by replacing alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes with schools, and churches.

Just as the West drew men with the promise of opportunity, fortune, adventure, and a new beginning, it also did for women. In many cases marriage provided a literal ticket for a woman to go West and seek a better life. Other women also found that the mail-order method of match-making allowed them to pursue ambitions of their own, such as greater personal autonomy.

Some western states made a deliberate effort to encourage the migration of women by promising them liberal women’s legislation. In 1849, for example, California legislators crafted a state constitution that defied the tradition of coverture law. That is, the Constitution allowed women to retain ownership of their property upon marriage. Henry Halleck helped craft the Constitution, and he explained the end of coverture as a means of attracting single women to settle out west. Here’s what he said: “I do not think that we can offer a greater inducement for women of fortune to come to California. It is the very best provision to get us wives that we can introduce into the Constitution.” Kansas (1855), Oregon (1857), and Nevada (1864) also eliminated coverture laws with the intention of drawing women to their states. Since western legislation promised women autonomy, and western men offered marriage, independent women could achieve the former by agreeing to the latter as mail-order brides.

In addition to its favorable property laws for women, California offered women the legal right to initiate divorce. Presuming that women outside of California were aware of this law, it made marriage to a man met through the mail a slightly less risky proposition – if the marriage turned sour, women had legal rights to leave it.

States also wooed women to traverse the country with the promise of suffrage. In 1869 Wyoming became the first state to allow women the right to vote. Utah (1870), Washington (1883), Montana (1887), Colorado (1893), and Idaho (1896) followed suit, all promising women suffrage prior to their East Coast counterparts.

Some women became mail-order brides not to advance their position or pursue their own goals, but simply to survive. Women often depended upon men in their lives to provide for them economically. Losing a husband to death introduced an economic vulnerability. Having to provide for children after the death of the breadwinner only exacerbated economic woes.

The death of men in the Civil War only compounded the gender ratio imbalance that the resource rush to the West had begun. Between 1861 and 1865, nearly three million men fought in the War. One in five would die. Many others survived but came home grievously injured. The death count alone, though, was equivalent to approximately two-and-a-half percent of the general American populace. Although this might not sound significant enough to threaten women’s marriage prospects, the average age of a Union soldier was 25.8 years old – prime for marriage, therefore the one in five was concentrated among eligible men. As such, many women feared that with the new scarcity of men, they would end up spinsters.

This was such fascinating research and will lead to an even better book for me. Thanks for letting me share! In the meantime, have you read my latest Proxy Bride book, A Bride for Alastair?

Secrets divide them. Could love build a bridge to help them overcome their deceptions?
Jane was full of resentment and fear when the man she had married by proxy came to collect her. She resented the circumstances that required her to marry and was afraid of being tied to a stranger, especially a stranger she had to keep secrets from.
Alastair Fredericksburg, Fred to his friends, had arranged successful proxy marriages for a few of his friends but still had mixed feelings about marriage due to his sister’s unhappy union. He was understandably hesitant when his friends Ella and Carter McLain contacted him requesting that he arrange a marriage for their friend, Jane.
When a sudden inheritance that would solve many of his sister’s problems is dependent on his marriage, Fred can’t decide if it’s the Devil or Providence watching out for him. Since Carter had already sent Jane’s proxy, Fred quickly signs and registers their marriage. After making sure his sister was secure, Fred boarded the westbound train to claim his wife.
Jane was certain it was only the sweet wine they had been drinking that had caused her to agree to Ella’s rash suggestion. She had failed to tell Ella of the secrets that made her an ineligible match for Alastair Fredericksburg. Would she be able to keep her secrets from her new husband? And could they ever be happy while divided by deception?

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Gunslingers of the Wild West by Shirleen Davies

When I think of gunslingers, an image of a cool, sexy, bad boy Clint Eastwood comes to mind. In truth, these gunfighters, both men and women, offered equally intriguing stories of colorful antics.

     During the civil war many men grew used to violence. Having lost their lands and fortunes, they turned to the wrong side of the law when the war ended. The west was filled with men who killed without remorse and with little provocation.
James-Younger Gang

       James (Jim) Anderson, who rode with Quantrill’s Raiders during the war, is one example. At the end of the Civil War, he joined the James-Younger Gang. Fellow James-Younger Gang member, George Shepherd, killed Jim in revenge for Anderson and Jesse James robbing and killing his nephew. Shepherd slit Anderson’s throat on the lawn of the Texas state capital in Austin.

      John Peters Ringo, aka Johnny Ringo, fought so many gun battles he was given the nickname, King of the Cowboys. And, John Wesley Hardin, a Texas gunslinger, was credited with killing more than 40 men.

     Perhaps the most famous gunslinger of all was William Henry McCarty, aka William H. Bonney, alias Billy the Kid. When he was sixteen, a bully jumped on top of him. Billy was able to get hold of the revolver in his holster and fired it into the guy’s gut. That act branded Billy as an outlaw.
Billy the Kid

      James Dolan had a feud with John Tunstall, an Englishman entrepreneur. This bloody feud became the Lincoln County War. When The Boys stole Tunstall’s livestock, Billy was arrested. Tunstall noticed he was just a boy who’d had a rough childhood, so he hired him. The feud between Dolan and Tunstall escalated and after John Tunstall was brutally murdered, Billy and Tunstall’s other ranch hands formed a vigilante group called The Regulators. When Dolan's forces won the Lincoln County War, Billy got away, but was arrested for killing Sheriff Brady during the Lincoln County War. Billy escaped, killing his two guards. Sheriff Pat Garrett hunted him down and shot him dead in 1881, in New Mexico. You’ll find this is a common ending to a gunslinger’s life.
John Wesley Harden

      Many gunslingers joined gangs, such as the Red Jack Gang, and the most famous of all, the James Younger Gang. Jesse James, famous for holding up banks and trains, led the James Younger Gang with his brothers and the Younger brothers: Thomas Coleman, John, James, and Robert.

      Jack Almer aka Red Jack or Jack Averill led the Red Jack Gang. Jack’s gang held up a stagecoach carrying only one passenger, a woman who wore a hat with a dark veil. When the Wells Fargo guard said they weren’t carrying any gold, the passenger called him a liar. It wasn’t a woman at all. It was Jack disguised in women’s clothing. The guard went for his gun, but Red Jack was faster and gunned him down. The gang took off with nearly $3,000 in gold and cash. Soon afterward, a posse tracked them down and killed Red Jack.
     Gunfighters were a breed of their own—often both outlaw and lawman during their lifetime. Charles Allison, a deputy sheriff, led a band of outlaws who robbed stagecoaches from Colorado to New Mexico.

     Then there was David L. Anderson, most commonly known as Billy Wilson. He was a member of Billy the Kid’s Gang of rustlers, but later he was appointed sheriff of Terrell County, New Mexico.

     Gunslingers weren’t just men, it was an equal opportunity profession. Sarah Jane Newman, later known as Sally Skull, was a gun-slinging, horse-trading woman, who dressed like a man. Twice a year Sally came back from Mexico with horses she most likely stole. It was also rumored that she murdered two of her five husbands.
Belle Starr

      Belle Starr, born Myra Maybelle Shirley, received a classical education and learned piano at Missouri's Carthage Female Academy. That didn’t keep her from her favorite childhood pastime of shooting guns with her brother, Bud. She was also friends with the James and Younger boys in Missouri. After the horse thief she married was killed, Belle wed Samuel Starr and joined the Starr Clan, a Cherokee Indian family notorious for whiskey, cattle, and horse thieving in Indian Country (now Oklahoma). Belle was quite a sight, riding sidesaddle in a plumed hat and a black velvet riding habit with a cartridge belt hung across her hips. She earned a reputation as a crack shot. In fact, Belle was the mastermind of the gang.

      Pearl Hart was born in Lindsay, Canada in 1871. Though she attended an exclusive school she was more interested in adventure than education. Pearl eloped with a gambler, but left him by the time she was 22, riding to Arizona. There she fell in love with Joe Boot, but he couldn’t make enough money mining, so the pair turned to robbery.

     In 1899, Pearl came up with the plan to hold up a stagecoach. She cut her hair and dressed like a man, and as Boot held a gun on the driver, Pearl stole over $400 from the passengers. The two rode off with the money but the posse caught up to them in the desert. Pearl’s famous for telling the judge, “I shall not consent to be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making." She was convicted anyway, but was pardoned after only serving 18 months in jail.  For a short time, Pearl performed in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
Pearl Hart

     The teenage girls, Little Britches (Jennie Stevenson) and Cattle Annie (Anna Emmaline McDoulet) were sure-fire markswomen. The pair, who dressed in men's clothing, were among the most infamous outlaws in Oklahoma, selling whisky to the Osage and Pawnee and stealing horses. In mid-August 1895, Little Britches was captured, but escaped by stealing a deputy marshal’s horse. U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman and his deputy Steve Burke tracked Annie and Little Britches down. Burke caught 13-year-old Cattle Annie as she was climbing from a window, but Tilghman had a harder time capturing Little Britches. Tilghman finally took her into custody after he shot her horse and it collapsed to the ground.

      The era of the Wild West lasted for 30 years. But more than a century after their deaths, the tales of gunfighters live on.

Nate’s Destiny, book six in the MacLarens of Boundary Mountain historical western romance series is now available!

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019


by Rain Trueax

"Where we choose to be-- we have that power to determine our lives. We cannot reel time backward or forward, but we can take ourselves to the place that defines our being." 
Sena Jeter Naslund. 

In my own books, place is almost always key. My characters are often a product of the region in which they grew. It's not everything, but I've considered it one of the characters for how it shapes someone. It's why I only put my stories in places I have either lived or spent time. Not all writers need this for their stories, but I always have wanted it. Of course, imagination adds to it. One of my books is an Oregon Trail story, and even though I didn't follow the whole Trail, I've been on major sections of it. Even more, the dream of what these pioneers would find when they got to Oregon, I understood from my own experiences.

So what I want to write about today is how place has helped shape who I am as well as my stories. This is about the land where I have lived 42 years. My place is on a year round stream. Water is key to life and this stream has quite a story it could tell.

In the Oregon Coast Range, the quiet lays round the spring, buried in ferns, sheltered by large trees. Water rises up through layers of basalt and clay. It bubbles to the surface and heads on a journey. As with all coastal streams, it is a product of springs. It is not fed by snow melt as this is a mostly temperate climate. The surface springs here are fed by rainfall. Far below their surface is an old lake where its waters are much different for their chemical makeup. The streams do not depend on it.

When the water reaches the thirty acres outside my windows, it has traveled less than twenty miles from its origin. It has been added onto by those springs on the hills. Here it’s eight to ten feet wide and most places no deeper a foot or two except when in flood. The water takes on a new name when it plunges into a river about a hundred feet from our home.

The water I can touch as it passes the farm will be carried through canyons and farm lands, past forests, cutting through cliffs of clay and sandstone before it enters rivers that grow
larger before it reaches the Pacific Ocean. With time, it will return to this land as rain and start all over again. This is part of an ever changing ecosystem for a host of insects, birds and animals. They live out their lives here, taking their life for granted. I never take my time here for granted.

The deer, raccoon, turkey, fox, bear, cougar, duck, steelhead, and trout seem unlikely to have named my stream. Wild things know where these places are but don’t need to title them. Humans like to name things. The Kalpuya probably had a name for it. It’s lost to time if they did. Over centuries, they traveled in a yearly cycle and here they fished, hunted, dried meat, gathered berries, dug roots, and ground acorns as they camped along the banks.They left behind arrowheads and grinding bowls as well as hidden burial sites.

The first Europeans who came to these beaver-rich valleys, were trappers and explorers. It is thought they may have brought with them malaria which decimated the numbers of the indigenous already here.  When the first settlers arrived, they talked of seeing a few Indians walk past. It was a peaceful coexistence. There were no Indian wars fought in these valleys. I've been told that the ones here knew of the burial of one of the Kalapuya on a knoll—a hidden grave. Maybe it's not far from where the first pioneers established their cemeteries-- both a family and community one. There are other small family plots behind many of the farms with only a few left to know their place or tend them.

The early settlers did name the creek as they claimed the land, built cabins and barns, birthed babies, and died along these banks. When I wade the creek, I find evidence of all who came before me from Kalapuya to settlers where broken pottery and parts of equipment were buried in the sandy soil. When we first got here, there was a steel cable across the creek which was used by loggers to move their logs to the nearby river and get them to the sawmills that were here when we first came. Jump dams stop the stream enough to float them down as they released the water.

Below our barns was where wagons forded the stream on solid sandstone-- before bridges. I've been told that in the seven oaks there would be metal rings that were used to tether horses. One logger said that if you try to cut down some of those old trees, your chainsaw would run into them. I'd only cut one down if it became dangerous to the house due to disease or old age. Ours are now well over a hundred years and a hundred feet tall-- huge, precious oaks shelter this house and saw what I've only read about. Their acorns fed families and now feed sheep.

I’ve only been here forty-two years, making me a piker in this rural community where some have always been here. Although I also grew up in a home on the edge of wilderness, it was not this one. None here knew me as a child, but my children have many who can say they knew them back then.

What I learned when we first came to this valley is that my family had come here when they left South Dakota for health reasons. One of the homes still standing had family who hosted them until they could get settled in another nearby community. I had distant relatives here that I had no idea. Does place draw us in ways we don't really know consciously?

Is place important to who we are? Some would say no and that we bring us with us wherever we go. Others know it's the core of their being. In this Oregon valley where I live, there are people who have never lived anywhere else, have barely been out of these hills. For some, their parents were born on the land they still occupy. Of those I met when we first arrived, many are now buried in the country cemetery above the church as are my parents and that of Ranch Boss'.

Times have changed-- yet in many ways not so much as we still do what we came here to do-- raise cattle and sheep, which we market as grassfed. I no longer buck bales but still love the land and its stories. I sought this life of ranching and despite its pain, sometimes tragedies, and the hard work, I feel blessed to have experienced a place so deeply as I have on the banks of this stream. Does being a country woman define me? Not totally, but it has been an important part of what has for most of my life.

The other thing that helps define us are our stories. I have one to share with my December blog in Sweethearts. It was told me, and I have also researched it. It's about one of those first families, settlers to the land on which I live today. 

My first book about a family and the journey west on the Oregon Trail. Round the Bend

My romances are historicals, contemporary, and paranormal 
with more about them at Rain Trueax 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mail Order Brides Fact or Fiction? by E. Ayers

Sometimes it feels as though I tend to pick on those who write mail order bride stories. Yet, I’ve written them myself. Desperate women looking for someone to take care of them, often running away from a worse situation, and men in the prime of their life that haven’t seen an eligible female or any female in years. Life must have been pretty lonely for those guys, and it’s no wonder that the brothels flourished.
But I was thinking about an upcoming set of characters and how the heroine must feel. That led me down a rabbit hole when I thought about the women who had been kidnapped by the Indians. There are lots of those true-life stories. How did they survive being captured? Or why didn’t they embrace the white man’s life when they returned? So I picked up the phone and had long conversation with my friend, Cliff, who is a retired psychologist. He’s the PhD, not an MD. We had quite a discussion. I love delving into what makes people do what they do. That psychological side of people intrigues me.
Today we have a name for many of those women who were kidnapped and never were capable of returning to the white man’s life. It’s called Stockholm syndrome and that term isn’t fifty years old. Many of us remember the images of young Patty Hearst after her kidnapping. We all watched in horror as she helped her kidnappers rob a bank. What really happens when people and in the case of mail-order brides find themselves in some pretty difficult, strange, or horrible circumstances?
In all my research, I’ve never come across an instance where a woman was told to go west or be imprisoned for some misdemeanor. But it happened to men all the time. Our west was filled with criminals, they were either told to get out of town and never show their face again, or they were running from the law. (Heck, our country was a big dumping ground for criminals from England. It was easier to send them here. Then they wouldn’t have to put up with them. And you thought Australia was the only penal colony? Over 50,000 people were banished to colonial America. That means 25% of the early immigrants to America were criminals!)
So what happened to women who were mail-order brides? Spoiler alert! They weren’t sitting in a romantic situation. Would you send a few text messages to a guy you’ve never met and then run off to marry him? The odds are he wasn’t penning his own letters. He had someone doing it for him because he couldn’t read or write. I have a warm comfortable home. Translation, he had a soddie made from grass and dirt. The list goes on. The concept of mail-order bride is about as truthful as Cinderella and Prince Charming. They are fairytale stories.
What really happened isn’t found in today’s stories. Women had no value except to wash clothes, cook, and make babies. That was how she was perceived in the East and in the West. So often she was trying to escape from a bad situation in the East. Going west meant a fresh start and she was willing to try anything. (It certainly can’t be any worse! Maybe and maybe not.)
So she goes west and meets the man she’s to marry. He’s nothing like he portrayed in his letters. Her only hope is that he’s decent to her. She’s willingly allowed herself to be possessed by him. With a little luck, she’s landed in a small town and not two days drive from another human. If so she’s probably going to discover other mail-order brides or at least the women have been placed in the same situation. Most mining towns were nothing more than tent cities. Houses were scarce.
Chances are the company store owned him. He probably couldn’t keep track of his money anyway. If he needed soap, he bought it. He wouldn’t have known if it was five cents or 5 dollars. And if he only made $3 that week, it wouldn’t take long for him to be in a deep financial hole. But if he wanted a wife, he could get one. Sometimes it was the best thing for him and her. Sometimes it wasn’t.
But when it wasn’t, she had very little choice. Did the other women come to her rescue? Ask a woman today who is in an abusive relationship if anyone comes to her rescue. People haven’t changed much and interfering can be dangerous to the person trying to protect the other.
Today we call it Stockholm syndrome. The person placed or kidnapped identifies with her captor. It’s part of the survival instinct. They manage, blend in, and survive.
We don’t normally think of marriage as a captive situation but it can be. Women were often stolen from their homes by the Indians. The Indians were also short of females. Some of the stories that have been told about such women are fascinating, especially when the women were found and returned to their rightful home. But did they manage to go back to their old way of life? Most of them didn’t. They had lived as Indians for so long that coming back to the white man’s ways was strange to them. Their children often didn’t survive in the white culture. Many got into serious trouble with the law. Many tried going back to the tribe but were turned away. The women and children were between two worlds and discovered they didn’t belong in either place.
Fortunately, many women discovered that some tribes treated their women better than the white men. The Crow tribe revered their women and still do!
Not everyone had a horrible life. Some women were running from a worse fate. Becoming a bride to an unknown man was as close to heaven as she could visualize. For them, even poverty or extreme rural life was better than what they had. Often relying on faith, they found love. Was it really love, or did they convince themselves that they loved and were loved. There’s no way to tell. What we know about Stockholm syndrome makes it easier for us to comprehend the predicament.
What we know is that people went west in search of something better and the promise of a brighter tomorrow for them and their children. Did they find it? Maybe. Were those women happier than we are today? We’d like to believe they were.
We want to believe that these women took a chance to create a life for themselves. Becoming a mail-order bride was probably the first time they had ever made a serious decision in their lives. Their future husbands could be a prince charming, a pauper, or an abusive monster. We want to think they all found Prince Charming. We want to believe that the men portrayed themselves fairly in their letters. We want to think the women were beautiful, and the men were handsome and brawny. In truth, they weren’t.
The women who did become mail-order brides didn’t have any options for a good marriage. Crossed eyes, extra fingers, bucked teeth, disfigurement, and dozens of things would keep them from finding a suitable husband. Things that today we think nothing of because they are easily corrected with orthodontics or plastic surgery. But back then, the way someone looked was part of that selective process. It was more important than general beauty. Remember that women were basically for reproduction. So a man wants a woman to produce healthy sons. She needs to measure up.
The same held true for men. It’s not vain to want a handsome man. It’s part of that selective process. And what is handsome? That varies according to whom you ask. Handsome is anyone that you consider better looking than yourself. Yep, lots of recent studies have proved that. And if you use today’s standards, probably very few men back then would be considered handsome. A very tall man would be considered anyone over 5’9”. Today we think of men as being over 6 foot. The men back then had natural muscles that come from the jobs they did. They didn’t worry about sculpting their bodies.
Times have changed. But have we changed? Maybe. I believe we expect more from men and from women. Those women didn’t have many options. Maybe they didn’t have the expectations that we dare to have today. But somehow they found the strength to keep going and accept their new husbands for better or worse.
Through each stage of history, we’ve progressed. I can’t imagine living in Biblical times. I can barely imagine living in the 1800s yet I know my great-grandmothers did. Both had arranged marriages as did my grandmothers. My mother married to get away from her family. I married for love or at least I believe it was love. This November would have been 49 years for us. I know I loved him. Or did I have a Stockholm syndrome? He didn’t kidnap me. I willingly entered into marriage that should have been doomed from the start. Am I no different from those grandmothers and great grandmothers who accepted life? I’d like to think I am. I was in love. Moments of anger and frustration were part of marriage but so were the joys.
Enjoy the small snippet of my newest western historical.

Arabelle looked around and spotted the book beside the only comfortable chair in the room. She recognized the title. To call the place sparse was an understatement. But then he did say it was enough for him. Maybe it was. But it was too small for two people.
She turned as he stepped through the door.
“Give me a moment to prepare the room for you.” He vanished behind a door and returned a moment later. “There’s a clean cloth for washing and a towel for drying in the bedroom. I hope everything is satisfactory.”
She walked into the tiny room and spotted the bed. She sniffed at the sheets and was surprised that they smelled clean. They were slightly scented with a manly smell, but nothing overpowering. He had a small pile of clothes in the corner. The ewer and pitcher were clean, and a bar of soap sat in a small dish. It wasn’t the delicately scented soap a woman would use, but under the circumstances, she had no problem bathing with it.
She washed the best she could, and then joined him. “I believe I will need a bath. Where might I find such a luxury?”
He chuckled. “I have a big tub hanging on the wall by the back door. And the well is over there.”
She noted the direction that he pointed. “Am I supposed to fetch my own water?”
“Well that depends. Would you care for a bath after we have eaten? I don’t mind bringing you enough water in the evening, but if you prefer to wait until I am gone to work tomorrow, you’ll be fetching your own.”
She smiled. “Ah, the dilemma. I will assume you’d rather watch me bathe.”
“Your assumption is correct, except I promised that I am from a good family, and I have been taught right from wrong. I will fetch your water, help you heat it, and then I will take a long evening stroll.”
She smiled at him. “That sounds like the man who wrote those lovely letters.”
After his supper of ham and potatoes, he did as promised, and she slipped under the warm water to wash two weeks of dirt from her body. She toweled off and put on a chemise with a robe over it. The color of the bath water told of coal cinders and common dirt that had coated her body and clung to her hair. She stood by the stove and combed her tangled locks. Anyone who thinks curly hair is impossible should try combing straight hair.
She wondered what had happened to Claude. He had left her but had not returned. When her hair was dry enough to braid, she formed a long plait and tied it with a yellow ribbon. Then she began to empty the tub out the back door. That’s when she discovered that Claude had been waiting for her.
“I’ll do that.” He took the bucket.
In short order, he had emptied the tub enough to pick it up and dump what remained outside. Then he wiped down the tub and placed it on the outside wall of his house.
“The necessary is over there. It’s actually quite nice. I share it with the Wilsons next door. Mrs. Wilson is extremely amiable, and their children are well behaved.”
Arabelle picked up the lantern and went to find the privy. It was as he said. The wood shone in the light of the lantern. She returned to the house and looked around. “I’m to sleep… Where?”
“For now you may have my bed. I will inquire in town for a room.”
“Staying here, even being here alone long enough to have supper with you has ruined my reputation. What difference does it make if I am to marry you?” She watched him mull on that thought.
“Then I shall inquire about being married as soon as possible.”
“I don’t need to be married. Does it matter? This is the Lawless West is it not?”

Friday, November 8, 2019

New Release from Christi Corbett

Today I'm thrilled to announce the release of my latest book, Bound by his Word!

Here's a little detail about the book...

As he held his dying best friend in his arms, Luke Higgins made a promise—to return a locket to the man’s wife.
He arrives to find a proud yet exhausted woman, struggling to run the town’s sole restaurant while raising her young son. Luke hires on as her cook, figuring he’ll stick around long enough to help her regain her footing, then hand over the locket and leave. Months later, with guilt gnawing on him worse than any of the injuries he sustained in battle, Luke finds himself falling for his best friend’s widow.
Molly Fulton is intrigued by the handsome stranger whose willingness to work brings her much-needed funds, and something more precious than money—time with her son. She ponders a life with him as more than just her cook, until her son stumbles across a long-lost treasure hidden in Luke’s coat pocket.
Can Molly forgive the man who entered her life because of a promise, but stayed because of a lie?

Available from:
Amazon     Barnes and Noble     AppleBooks     Kobo     Scribd     24Symbols     

This has been a HECTIC week, and I'm about to head out the door with my twins for a four-hour drive (and doctor appointment). I won't be back until late tonight, but I'd love to hear from you, lovely reader. What's new in your life? Leave a comment and let's chat, 

Monday, November 4, 2019

DATES OF STATEHOOD West of the Mississippi By Cheri Kay Clifton

Clark County Heritage Museum in Henderson, Nevada, where we have a home, announced that October 31st was not only Halloween, it was also the 155th anniversary of Nevada's statehood. Eight days prior to the presidential election of 1864, Nevada became the 36th state in the Union.

With that in mind, I thought I'd re-post the article I did a few years ago listing the statehoods west of the Mississippi where most of our historical western books take place. Always a good reference!

 Listed in alphabetical order are the 24 states, when they officially became states and brief trivia about the origins of their state names, many of which came from Native American languages. Although not a part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii are included in the list of 24 states west of the Mississippi.

ALASKA, Jan. 3, 1959  Historically a district from 1867, it became an organized territory in 1912. The name originates from an Aleut word, "Alyeska," meaning "great land." The Aleuts are people inhabiting the Aleutian Islands and western Alaska.

ARIZONA, Feb. 14, 1912  The name is debated by historians, however, the region was sometimes called Arizona before 1863, although it was still in the Territory of New Mexico. The Spanish called the region Arizona based on Native American words translated to mean "silver-bearing" or "place of the small spring."

ARKANSAS, June 15, 1836 The name originated with the Native American Quapaw tribe by way of early French explorers.

CALIFORNIA, Sept. 9, 1850  The name originated from the Spanish conquistadors, after "Califia," a mythical island paradise described in Las Serges de Esplandian, by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo, c. 1500.

COLORADO, Aug. 1, 1876  Spanish origin, meaning "colored red." The name was given to the Colorado river because of the red sandstone soil of the region.

HAWAII, Aug. 21, 1959 The name is possibly based on the native Hawaiian word for homeland, Owhyhee. Captain James Cook discovered the islands in 1778 and named the group, "the Sandwich islands" in honor of the Earl of Sandwich. This name lasted until King Kamehameha I united the islands under his rule in 1819 as the Kingdom of Hawaii.

IDAHO, July 3, 1890 Mining lobbyist George M. Willing presented the name "Idaho" to congress for a new territory around Pike's Peak, claiming it was a Shoshone Indian phrase: "E Dah Hoe," supposedly meaning Gem of the Mountains.

IOWA, Dec. 28, 1846  The name Iowa comes from the Iowa River, which was named for the Native American Iowas, a Sioux tribe.

KANSAS, Jan. 29,1861  Origin from a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind."

LOUISIANA, April 30, 1812  Named in honor of Louis XIV of France

MINNESOTA, May 11, 1858 From a Dakota Souix word meaning "sky-tinted water."

MISSOURI, Aug. 10, 1821  Named after the Missouri Indian tribe, meaning "town of the large canoes."

MONTANA, Nov. 8, 1889  Derived from the spanish word meaning "mountain."

NEBRASKA, March 1, 1867  From the Oto Indian word meaning "flat water," referring to the Platt River.

NEVADA, Oct. 31, 1864  Spanish, meaning "snowcapped." The Spanish "Sierra Nevada" is also a mountain range in Spain.

NEW MEXICO, Jan. 6, 1912  New Mexico was named by the Spanish for lands north of the Rio Grande.  Mexico is an Aztec word meaning "place of Mexitli" (an Aztec god).

NORTH DAKOTA, Nov. 2, 1889  Dakota is the Sioux Indian name for "friend."

OKLAHOMA, Nov. 16, 1907  From two Choctaw Indian words meaning "red people."

OREGON, Feb. 14, 1859  Uncertain to the name's origin, however, it is generally accepted that it was taken from the writings of an English army officer, in which he refers to "the River called by the Indians, Ouragon."

SOUTH DAKOTA, Nov. 2, 1889 Dakota is the Sioux Indian name for "friend."

TEXAS, Dec. 29, 1845  Derived from the word "teyshas," meaning friends or allies, from the Native American Caddo language.

UTAH, Jan 4, 1896  From the Ute tribe, "people of the mountains."

WYOMING, July 10, 1890  From the Delaware Indian word, meaning "mountains and valleys alternating," and was first used by the Delaware people as a name for the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 1889  Named in honor of George Washington, our first president of the United States and the only state in the Union that is named after a president.

Happy Trails, Happy Writing!

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Saturday, November 2, 2019


By Vicki Hunt Budge

            When doing research for The Surveyor’s Daughter’s Series, I came across true stories of the first attempts to cross the country by automobile. These stories were so fun and I incorporated parts of this one in my latest book, Winds of Change.

Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson

In May of 1903 Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson made an impulsive $50.00 wager in a wealthy gentlemen’s club in San Francisco that he could drive an automobile from San Francisco to NYC in less than 90 days. He didn’t own an automobile at the time and he didn’t know how to drive one, but he had that American spirit of adventure, courage, determination, and optimism. Within four days of making his bet, Jackson hired Sewall K. Crocker, a bicycle mechanic, to make the trip with him. On Crocker’s advice Jackson purchased a 1903 Winton automobile and all the supplies needed, and they set out to cross the country.
There had been two previous attempts to drive across the country, but both had failed due to mechanical problems or by bogging down in the sands of Nevada.
Most people thought such a road trip was impossible. After all, automobiles were only a passing fad for the wealthy. And there were only 150 paved roads in America at the time. All in big cities.

Dr. Jackson in the Vermont

One of the first things Jackson did was name his cherry-red automobile the Vermont, after his home state. He decided to avoid the Sierra Mountains and the sands of Nevada by turning north in Sacramento and heading for southern Oregon. He and Crocker hadn’t gone far when their tires blew, and since they only had one spare, they solved that problem by winding rope around the tires. When they finally reached Alturas, California, they stopped and waited a long time for new tires which Jackson had ordered by telegraph. Once they got going again, they had mechanical problems which Crocker took care of, treacherous mountain roads covered with rock and boulders, and not much in the way of maps. They made a run at the many mountain streams hoping the momentum would launch them across. When that didn’t work, they got out the block and tackle and pulled the Vermont out of the mud and water.
When they finally reached southern Oregon in June, a lot of the roads were simply cow trails, that had never seen an automobile. At one point, the Vermont broke down and was towed to a nearby ranch by a cowboy on horseback. Later, they ran out of fuel and Jackson rented a bicycle which Crocker rode 25 miles to Burns, Oregon to buy gasoline. A punctured bicycle tire forced Crocker to walk most of the way back with the fuel. Through all of their troubles, Jackson maintained his optimism.
Once Jackson and Crocker finally made it across the border into Idaho they picked up a third passenger, a pit bull named Bud. The Vermont had no windshield necessitating the need for wearing goggles. Bud proudly rode in the Vermont between Jackson and Crocker wearing his goggles for the duration of the trip.

Bud in his goggles

 Now people lined the streets of every town they drove through thanks to the newspapers and telegraph and the trio became celebrities. The unpaved roads improved in Idaho because they followed the Oregon Trail in reverse, and Jackson usually offered a short ride in the Vermont to anyone who fed them.
Jackson and Crocker got lost in Wyoming and went without food for quite a few days. They finally came upon a sheep camp and the sheepherder fed them a hearty meal. After Wyoming, the roads improved and the weary travelers pulled into NYC on July 26, 63 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes after leaving San Francisco.

Museum exhibit honoring the trip

Jackson won his $50.00 wager but he never collected. And it cost him $8,000 to make the trip. His story is actually a beautiful love story. He wrote love letters to his wife throughout the journey, addressing her by her nickname as My Darling Swipes, and telling her how much he missed her and how he looked forward to being with her again.
Winds of Change was so much fun to research, write, and include some of Jackson’s adventures into my story about Cora Gardner, one of The Surveyor’s Daughters.