Monday, February 8, 2016

C.W. Post--A Great Man With a Tragic Life


I grew up in the Fifties in West Texas--on the South Plains of the Panhandle--in a small oil and farming community named Levelland. Seventy-one miles Southeast just below the majestic Caprock, lay another small community named Post, Texas. 
Somehow during my young years, I learned the Grape Nuts my daddy ate were invented by a man named Post—C. W. Post, as I now know. An author in a book titled “Tales From Out Yonder,” described Grape Nuts as “a cereal with the appearance of creek gravel.”
C.W. Post was an intriguing man, but not only for inventing Grape Nuts and Post Toasties. No. As a young man, his ability to invent and create was notable.
He was born on October 26, 1854, in Springfield, Illinois. After graduating from the Springfield public schools he entered Illinois Industrial University (now the University of Illinois) at Urbana. He remained only two years before abandoning school "for hard physical work."
At seventeen he went to Independence, Kansas, where he worked as a salesman, clerk, and store owner. He returned to Springfield in 1872 and worked for the next fourteen years as a salesman and manufacturer of agricultural machines.

SULKY PLOW-DRAWN BY ONE HORSE
During this period he invented and secured patents on such farm equipment as cultivators, a sulky plow, a harrow, and a haystacker.

On November 4, 1874, Post married Ella Letitia Merriweather of Battle Creek, Michigan but lived apart for several years before divorcing. They had one daughter named Marjorie Merriweather Post.
    After a nervous breakdown in November 1885 caused by strain and overwork, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas with his family.
    There, he became associated with a group of real estate men who were developing a 300-acre tract in the eastern part of the city, an area known today as Riverside. Other members of the family, including Post's brother Rollin, followed C. W. to Fort Worth.
In 1888 the Posts acquired a 200-acre ranch on the outskirts of the city and began the development of a subdivision on their property; they laid out streets and lots for homes and constructed a woolen mill and a paper mill.

However, only three years later, Post suffered a second breakdown and moved with his wife to Battle Creek, Michigan, where he entered a sanitarium. With rest came recuperation, and soon he was experimenting with a cereal drink he called Postum. Next, he developed Grape-Nuts and Post Toasties, breakfast foods that by the end of the century made him millions of dollars.
In 1906, as a result of a desire to own a farming community in Texas, he purchased some 225,000 acres of ranchland along the escarpment of the Caprock in Garza and Lynn counties.  He designated a central site as the location of his new town.
In 1907 Post City, as it was called until after the developer's death, was platted, farms of 160 acres were laid out, shade trees were planted, and a machine shop, a hotel, a school, churches, and a department store were constructed.
Post tried various forms of automatic machinery in developing dry-land farming techniques and introduced varieties of grain sorghums such as milo and kafir. One of his most spectacular experiments was his rain-making effort through dynamite explosions. From firing stations along the rim of the Caprock four-pound dynamite charges were detonated every four minutes for a period of several hours. Between 1911 and 1914 he spent thousands of dollars in this endeavor, which met with little success.

Post's main contribution to Texas was opening the plains region to agricultural development.

His health failed again in 1914. He passed away at age 59--presumably by taking his own life with a gunshot wound.
Post’s genius was clouded by mental problems his entire life. Before the psychological terms manic-depressive and bipolar disorder were tossed about, Post was merely considered peculiar, a gentleman with wild mood swings. From his psychological highs, Post’s inventive mind conjured up new products that made him a household name and launched wildly ambitious projects. His low points often terminated in a visit to a sanitarium, from which he would emerge many months later rejuvenated and would begin anew.

Note: To read about his daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who inherited the company General Foods in Battle Creek Michigan—see Previous Posts titled “The Richest Woman in America.” January 8, 2016.
~~*~~*~~
Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West.


NEWEST RELEASE:
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS
PUBLISHER: PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS
Now available on Amazon

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

SOURCES for C.W. Post:
The Handbook of Texas On-line: Texas State Historical Association
Wikipedia
Wikimedia
“Tales From Out Yonder”-Ross McSwain

Saturday, February 6, 2016

RUSTLING UP HEARTS: A COWBOY'S VALENTINE



Seems I've been running a day behind since the new year began. So, I thought I'd drag this old blog out and dust it off since Valentine's Day is just around the corner. There are many things cowboy's do well and rustling a young lady's heart is one of them. It's why we all love reading about these knights on the plains.



After all the posts on ghosts and haunted habitats, I thought it would be nice to get back to what we all love...Romance and Cowboys! What’s romantic about the cowboy?  You might ask (if you’ve been under a rock for a hundred or so years).  What’s not romantic about the cowboy? Cowboys have been icons of hard work, hard play, and hard lovin’ since they shot onto the American landscape in the 19th Century.

Below are just a samplin’ of songs, poems and letters showin’ the heart of the Cowboy, and just one of the many reasons we Western Romance writers fell in love with this particular breed of man.

If there’s one thing a cowboy knew it was loneliness on the trail, and the fear another might win his lady’s heart while he was gone for months on a cattle drive.  Some put their fears into lyrics, or wrote them in letters home.







LONELINESS
At nights I think of her a heap,
These quiet nights when shadows creep
Down thro' the sage, and ev'ry tree
Looks like a black hearse plume to me.
Oh, lonely land and lonely heart,
It surely seems when I 'm apart
From her I hain't the least excuse
Fer livin', and I sees no use
In even daylight comin', fer
It's always nighttime without her.

@Robert V. Carr, 1912


Fred and Mittie

Fred Tucker and George Oathanile Bacus both vied for Mittie Richardson’s attention. In 1902, Mittie was sent east to Boston apparently to resolve the situation. In correspondence from family members, it appears that Mittie's mother did not approve of either George or Fred. Mittie's mother referred to George as "Backhouse." In one letter, Mittie's mother wrote, "I sat there and looked at Fred while he was eating dinner and I though of the old saying that love would go where it is sent if it went into a dogs - - - and I just thought if anybody fell in love with that thing they aught to have him why he can't even talk I was pleasant to him but O dear." Both Fred and George wrote Mittie while she was in Boston, each expressing their love. After Mittie's return, in June 1903 things boiled over in the bunk house with Bacus shooting Fred (Fred survived but fled Wyoming). Bacus sent Mittie a letter of explanation (excuse George's spelling and grammar):


Casper Wyo
June 14, 1903

Miss Mittie Richardson
My Loved One, I sit down to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am on deck yet. I will be back soon to see my littel love again and se what they do weath me for what I have don. I see now where I was foolish for leaven Elmer [LaPash, Mittie's brother-in-law] toald me to give up and I am sorry I didnt. I took the horse exptoan [expecting] to go to town if I could of seen you before I left, I would not have left there. Now Darling, pleas donant let eny one out side of your folks see this letter I toald ProSiak that I was to blame for shooting and would not give up, but I gess I well now doant tell Fred I am coming back I donant want any more trubele weath anyone. Darling I would like to have a talk weath you. I was not to blame for what happened in the bunk house but had not [illegible] of shot atall but I was excited then and could not help it Well Dear this is cloast to your birth day and I will send you all I can from here that is thre of the pretest fours I can fiend I must close the tears will not lit me rite eny more best washes to you as ever your Love
G O Bacus


…These air sweet for get me nots [forget me nots] it is all I have and hoap they will be recped weath pleasher Hope to see you soon and Mittie when I am in Jale in Laramie Will you come and see me I would like to tell you all about every thing but can not rite it as I havent time no neather have I go paper this is all I have I will be back as soon as I can rais money anouff the countey would send for me but I doant want that I will come back weath out thair assistants if they will let me

P S I will be back to hay if thay will let me out in time

George Bacus


Mittie was not loyal to George or Fred and married another man altogether.

Of controversial origin and changing lyrics, a cowboy standard is a song known as the “Cowboy Love Song,” and reflects the sorrow of a cowboy whose sweetheart, unable to withstand the harsh conditions of the West, leaves him. We know this song as…

Red River Valley
From this valley they say you are going.
I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine.
That has brightened our pathway awhile.
Come and sit by my side if you love me.
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
But remember the Red River Valley
and the cowboy that loves you so true. (Chorus)
From this valley they say you are going.
I will miss your sweet face and your smile.
Just because you are weary and tired,
You are changing your range for awhile.
I've been waiting a long time my darling
For the sweet words you never say.
Now at last all my fond hopes have vanished.
For they say you are going away.
O there never could be such a longing
In the heart of a poor cowboy's breast.
That now dwell in the heart you are breaking.
As I wait in my home in the west.
Do you think of the valley you're leaving?
O how lonely and drear it will be!
Do you think of the kind heart you're breaking.
And the pain you are causing to me?
As you go to your home by the ocean,
May you never forget those sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley,
And the love we exchanged mid the flowers.

Many early drovers who came up the Texas Trail were Confederate veterans. During the war one of the most popular songs with southern soldiers was the sad and haunting Lorena about a lost love, and it remained a favorite among cowboys.

Lorena
Words by the Reverend Henry DeL. Webster
Music by Joseph P. Webster

The years creep slowly by, Lorena,
The snow is on the grass again;
The sun's low down the sky Lorena,
The frost gleams where the flowers have been;
But the heart throbs on as lovely now,
As when the summer days were nigh;
Oh, the sun can never dip so low,
Adown affection's cloudless sky.
A hundred months have passed, Lorena,
Since last I held your hand in mine,
And felt that pulse beat fast, Lorena,
Though mine beat faster far than thine;
A hundred months -- 'twas flow'ry May,
When up the hilly slopes we climbed,
To watch the dying of the day,
And hear the distant church bells chimed.
We loved each other then, Lorena,
More than we ever dared to tell,
And what we might have been, Lorena,
Had but our loving prospered well --
But then, 'tis past, the years are gone,
I'll not call up their shadowy forms;
I'll say to them, "Lost years, sleep on,
Sleep on, nor heed life's pelting storms."
The story of the past, Lorena,
Alas, I care not to repeat,
The hopes that could not last, Lorena,
They lived, but only lived to cheat;
I would not cause e'en one regret,
To rankle in your bosom now;
For "if we try, we may forget,"
Were words of thine long years ago.
Yes, these were words of thine, Lorena,
They burn within my memory yet;
They touch some tender chords, Lorena,
Which thrill and tremble with regret;
'Twas not thy woman's heart that spoke;
Thy heart was always true to me --
A duty, stern and pressing, broke
The tie which linked my soul to thee.
It matters little now, Lorena,
The past -- is in eternal past,
Our heads will soon lie down, Lorena,
Life's tide is ebbing out so fast;
There is a future -- Oh, thank God --
Of life this is so small a part,
'Tis dust to dust beneath the sod,
But there, up there, 'tis heart to heart.

For some, love came hard. As was the case of Wyoming sheep rancher John Love in his pursuit of Ethel Waxham. For four years John sent letters that followed Ethel from Colorado to Wisconsin back to Colorado, until finally in June 1910, Ethel became John’s wife.

John Love
Muskrat, Wyoming
September 12th, 1906
Dear Miss Waxham,
Of course it will cause many a sharp twinge and heartache to have to take "no" for an answer, but I will never blame you for it in the least, and I will never be sorry that I met you. I will be better for having known you. I know the folly of hoping that your "no" is not final, but in spite of that knowledge... I know that I will hope until the day that you are married. Only then I will know that the sentence is irrevocable. Yours Sincerely,
John G. Love


November 12th, 1906
Dear Miss Waxham,
I know that you have not been brought up to cook and labor. I have never been on the lookout for a slave and would not utter a word of censure if you never learned, or if you got ambitious and made a "batch" of biscuits that proved fatal to my favorite dog... I will do my level best to win you and... If I fail, I will still want your friendship just the same.
Yours Sincerely,
John G. Love

April 3, 1909
Dear Mr. Love,
There are reasons galore why I should not write so often. I'm a beast to write at all. It makes you -- (maybe?) -- think that "no" is not "no," but "perhaps," or "yes," or anything else... Good wishes for your busy season
from E.W.
P.S. I like you very much.

October 25th, 1909
Dear Miss Waxham,
There is no use in my fixing up the house anymore, papering, etc., until I know how it should be done, and I won't know that until you see it and say how it ought to be fixed. If you never see it, I don't want it fixed, for I won't live here. We could live very comfortably in the wagon while our house was being fixed up to suit you, if you only would say yes.
John Love

Dear Mr. Love,
Suppose that you lost everything that you have and a little more; and suppose that for the  best reason in the world I wanted you to ask me to say "yes." What would you do?
E.
Ethel Waxham




For the lucky cowboys their true loves came without a fight and remained true to the end. These cowboys settled into lifetime partnerships, either building empires (both large and small) of their own, or seeking new adventures wherever the trail took them.
John and Eula Kendrick (John Kendrick was a Wyoming Cowboy, Governor, Senator with Eula his partner in ranching and politics)

Eula Kendrick
In 1889, following time at finishing schools in Boulder, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, seventeen-year-old Eula was reintroduced to one of her father's former employees, a cowboy named John B. Kendrick. She remembered meeting him before: at age seven she had climbed into the lanky cowboy's lap and announced that when she was old enough, she intended to marry him. In 1891, she did just that.

Following a church wedding in Greeley and a reception at the Wulfjen residence, the newlyweds left immediately for New York on the afternoon train. When their two-month wedding trip through the Eastern U. S. was over, Eula had to face the reality of her new home: a mud-chinked log cabin fifty miles from the nearest town.

It would be several months before Eula would get to live in that cabin, however. Upon their return from the East, Eula went back to her parents' home while John went to Montana to finish construction. He felt that the rough bachelor digs he'd left behind were not good enough for his cultured bride. It was a lonely time for both John and Eula and letters flew back and forth between them. For a man accustomed to solitude, separation from a loved one was a new thing for John and he expressed his loneliness eloquently and often during this period:


John Kendrick
Do you miss your old man? Not one half so much as I miss "the girl I left behind me."  Somehow the feeling of loneliness is inexplainable. Everything lacks interest: the scenes along the road, the different views of the snow peaks of the Big Horns, things that I used to enjoy so much. 

By the end of April 1891, the cabin was still not finished. Fed up with living apart, Eula announced to her husband that she was going to Montana, even if she had to sleep on the floor and cook for herself. This response delighted John to no end:

You can never know how many false notions you have driven from my mind in your proposal to come out and do your own cooking, not that I want you to do it, but I did want so much for you to show the spirit of a true little wife and helpmate and the one thing needed to fill my cup of happiness you have supplied. 

The OW Ranch in southeastern Montana was Eula's home for the next eighteen years. Though isolated and far from friends, she had no time to be bored: she cooked, cleaned, ironed, sewed and did all the bookkeeping for the ever-growing Kendrick Cattle Company.

To read more about the Kendricks go to: http://www.kirstenlynnwildwest.com/blog/?p=5



Frank Butler and Annie Oakley:

Frank and Annie

Frank Butler, an immigrant from Ireland, developed a shooting act, banking on the growing popularity of marksmanship displays in America in the 1870s. He and his partner would perform as one of up to 18 acts in a variety show, rattling off trick shots for about 20 minutes. Butler often issued a challenge to any local shooting champion. In November 1875, while he was performing in Cincinnati, someone took him up in it. There would be a match nearby, Butler was told, with a prize of $100. He accepted.

The last opponent Butler expected was a five-foot-tall 15-year old named Annie. "I was a beaten man the moment she appeared," Frank later said, "for I was taken off guard." His surprise continued when his young challenger scored 25 hits in 25 attempts -- Butler missed his last target and with it lost the match. But he recovered quickly enough to give Annie and her family free tickets to his show, and soon he began courting her. Butler was 10 years older, had been married and already fathered two children. He never drank, smoked, or gambled, traits that appealed to Annie's Quaker mother. The couple was married on August 23, 1876, although Butler would later claim June 20, 1882, as the date. Perhaps Butler was not yet divorced when he first met Annie, or maybe the later date was given because Annie had lopped six years off her actual age in the midst of her rivalry with the younger sharpshooter Lillian Smith. Either way, the marriage was a happy one, lasting for some 50 years.
Frank often included poetry in his letters to Annie.

“Her presence would remind you, Of an angel in the skies, And you bet I love this little girl, With the rain drops in her eyes."

After they were married Frank Butler continued to tour with his marksman act while Annie returned home to complete her schooling. On May 9, 1881, Frank sent Annie this poem outlining his plans for their future.

Some fine day I'll settle down
And stop this roving life;
With a cottage in the country
I will claim my little wife.
Then we will be happy and contented,
No quarrels shall arise
And I'll never leave my little girl
With the rain drops in her eyes.


The famous couple never really did settle down in a cottage in the country, but spent the majority of their years together traveling the world in various wild west shows.

Frank and Annie

Whether riding the range, building a ranching empire, or trailing an outlaw the cowboy’s mind often wondered…

To Her
Cut loose a hundred rivers,
Roaring across my trail,
Swift as the lightning quivers,
Loud as a mountain gale.
I build me a boat of slivers;
I weave me a sail of fur,
And ducks may founder and die
But I
Cross that river to her!
Bunch the deserts together,
Hang three suns in the vault;
Scorch the lizards to leather,
Strangle the springs with salt.
I fly with a buzzard feather,
I dig me wells with a spur,
And snakes may famish and fry
But I
Cross that desert to her!
Murder my sleep with revel;
Make me ride through the bogs
Knee to knee with the devil,
Just ahead of the dogs.
I harrow the Bad Lands level,
I teach the tiger to purr,
For saints may wallow and lie
But I
Go clean-hearted to her!

@Badger Clark

Wylie and the Wild West put some music behind “To Her,” and it’s a beautiful song! Take a listen!

TO HER by WYLIE AND THE WILD WEST



  
SOURCES:
http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/program/episodes/eight/psilikeyou.htm
http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/cattle.html
Chartier, JoAnn and Chris Enss.Love Untamed: Romances of the Old West. The Globe Pequot Press: Guilford, CT, 2002.




Kirsten Lynn is a Western and Military Historian. She worked six years with a Navy non-profit and continues to contract with the Marine Corps History Division for certain projects. Making her home where her roots were sewn in Wyoming, Kirsten also works as a local historian. She loves to use the history she has learned and add it to a great love story. She writes stories about men of uncommon valor...women with undaunted courage...love of unwavering devotion ...and romance with unending sizzle. When she's not writing, she finds inspiration in day trips through the Bighorn Mountains, binge reading and watching sappy old movies, or sappy new movies. Housework can always wait.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

THE MORGAN HORSE By Cheri Kay Clifton



I'm going to make the bold statement that I bet all the Sweethearts of the West are horse lovers.  Many of you may be horse owners, of whom I am truly envious!  One such lucky gal, I know is Peggy Henderson.  Actually, it would be nice to know how many of our authors are equestrians.  Although I've never owned a horse, over my lifetime I'm had the joy of riding many horses.

Since I wrote about the history of Fort Kearny which was referenced in my book, Trail To Destiny in my last blog, I decided this post and my next one would be about two breeds of horses I've always admired, the Morgan (a genetic breed) and the Pinto (a color breed), both of which I'd chosen for my two main characters, Laura and Grey Wolf, to ride.

I found out the Morgan was one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States and after reading that the United States Equestrian Federation stated, "a Morgan is distinctive for its stamina and vigor, personality and eagerness, and has a reputation for intelligence, courage and a good disposition, I knew he was the perfect choice for my heroine, Laura, to ride on her journey west.  I named him Sonny after a beautiful horse I'd enjoyed riding on scenic trails in the Smokey Mountains.

All Morgans trace back to a single foundation sire, a stallion named Figure, who was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts in 1789.  At age three, he was given to a man named Justin Morgan as a debt payment.  As was the practice of the day, Figure became known by his owner's name, the Justin Morgan horse.  This colt was the founding sire of the Morgan breed.

After Justin Morgan's death, Figure moved on to other owners and spent a life working on farms, hauling freight, and as a parade mount at militia trainings.  He spent his life working and died in 1821 from an untreated kick received from another horse.  His three most famous sons - Sherman, Bulrush and Woodbury - carried on his legacy to future generations of Morgan horses.  I won't go into depth about the bloodline groups or the extensive breeding history, only to add that there were estimated to be over 175,000 Morgan horses worldwide in 2005.  They come in a variety of colors although they are most commonly bay, black and chestnut.



 These beautiful steeds were used as cavalry mounts by both sides in the American Civil War.  They were in much demand due to their endurance, weight carrying ability, strong short back, excellent feet and legs, and a calm and cheerful temperament with an abundance of natural style that appealed to the Cavalry officers.  

Many tributes to these hard-ridden heroes are displayed in paintings, as public statuary, as well as some rare mounted hides and heads staged in proud museums.  Famous Morgan, Rienzi (also known as Winchester) was ridden by General Philip Sheridan to rally his Union troops and was preserved and is at the Smithsonian museum.


General Philip Sheridan Memorial Civil War Bronze Statue 
Depicts Sheridan riding his horse Rienzi
Washington, D.C.

Little Sorrel was a Morgan ridden by Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in his Civil War campaigns.  After Little Sorrel's death in 1886, his hide was mounted at the Virginia Military Institute Museum, where it's still a popular attraction. The taxidermist took the bones as partial payment and gave them to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, something that never sat right with Southerners. The VMI Museum got the bones back , cremated and interred them in 1997, on the parade grounds, at the feet of a statue of General Jackson.  "It's the right thing to do," said the curator. Today, Little Sorrel stands near the raincoat that Stonewall Jackson was wearing when he was mortally wounded. The coat is displayed so that visitors can see the bullet hole.

General George Armstrong Custer rode several Morgans.  One of his favorites was a horse named Dandy.



"Sighting the Enemy," equestrian statue by Edward Clark Potter of
General George Custer at Gettysburg, located in Monroe, Michigan.
Since Custer was not killed in this battle, his Morgan horse is depicted with
all four feet on the ground.

While Morgan enthusiasts have stated that the horse Comanche, a survivor of the Custer regiment after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, was either a Morgan or a Mustang/Morgan mix, records of the U.S. Army and other early sources argue that claim, stating more likely he was of "Mustang lineage" with possibly "Spanish" blood.  Many also believed Custer rode Comanche, but in fact, Captain Myers Keogh owned and rode the bay horse into battle.

Although Comanche was touted as the sole horse to survive the famous battle, many horses survived and were taken by the Indians.  But the Indians had no use for a horse that couldn't dodge a bullet.  Two days after the Custer defeat, a burial party investigating the site found the severely wounded horse and transported him by steamer to Fort Lincoln, 950 miles away, where he spent the next year recuperating. Comanche remained with the 7th Cavalry, never again to be ridden and under orders excusing him from all duties. Most of the time he freely roamed the Post and flower gardens. Only at formal regimental functions was he led, draped in black , stirrups and boots reversed, at the head of the Regiment.

Comanche, aging but still in good health, continued to receive full honors as a symbol of the tragedy at Little Bighorn. Finally, on November 7, 1891, about 29 years old, Comanche died of colic.  The horse is currently on display in a humidity controlled glass case at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History in Lawrence, Kansas.


Comanche taxidermy 

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Morgan Horse, including many of the breed's faithful steeds and in addition, the truth about the famous horse, Comanche.

I'll end with a couple horse quotes:

"Sit tall in the saddle, hold your head up high, keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky and live like you ain't afraid to die, don't be scared, just enjoy the ride." Chris LeDoux

Many people have sighed for the 'good old days' and regretted the 'passing of the horse,' but today, when only those who like horses own them, it is a far better time for horses.  ~C.W. Anderson

Sources: https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Morganhorse
                https://www.roadsideamerica.com
                https://morganhorse.com
                https://wikipedia.org/comanche_(horse)

www.cherikayclifton.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spies At Work

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
Emma was living in Flint, Michigan, when the first call for Union enlistments went out. She wanted to answer the call. So she cropped her hair, got a man's suit of clothing, took the name of Frank Thompson and tried to enlist. It took her four tries but finally she did in fact get sworn into the Union Army (at that time the physical consisted merely of asking the enlistee questions - no medical examination). On April 25, 1861, Emma Edmonds alias Frank Thompson became a male nurse in the Second Volunteers of the United States Army.
After training in Washington, D.C., Emma's unit was sent south to be part of McClellan's campaign in Virginia. Private Thompson (Emma) was assigned as a male nurse to the hospital unit of the 2nd Michigan Volunteers and had no trouble in maintaining her masculine masquerade. Even before the hostilities erupted on a full scale two events occurred that changed Private Thompson's life forever. The events were: (1) A Union agent working in Richmond for McClellan was caught and faced a firing squad. This left a void in the intelligence gathering for McClellan.
(2) A young officer, named James Vesey, who Emma had known back in Canada, was killed on a patrol. Emma, not knowing this, went to see him and arrived at his unit just as his funeral was about to begin.
As a result of these events, when the word went out that McClellan's staff was looking for a person to act as a spy prior to the campaign - Private Frank Thompson volunteered. She studied all she could find on weapons, tactics, local geography and military personalities and when interviewed for the position, Private Thompson so impressed the staff that the position was his (hers).
Prior to her first mission, Private Thompson had to devise a disguise that would not alert the Confederates to her real mission and she decided to enter the Confederacy as a black man. Assisted by the wife of the local chaplain, the only person knowing her true identity, she used silver nitrate to darken her skin to the point that the doctor she worked for in the hospital did not recognize her. She donned men's clothing along with a black minstrel wig - chose the assumed name of "Cuff" - and departed on her first mission.
Once on the Confederate front she was soon assigned to work on the ramparts being built by the local Negroes to counter McClellan. Her hands were so blistered after the first day that she convinced a fellow slave to swap jobs with her and the second day she worked in the kitchen and all the time she kept her eyes and ears open. She learned a great deal about the morale of the troops, the size of the army, weapons available, and even discovered the "Quaker guns" (Logs painted black to look like cannons from afar) that were to be used at Yorktown. After the second day, she was luckily assigned as a Confederate picket, which allowed her to escape and return to the Union side. The information she delivered was well received and she even had a personal interview with McClellan, after which she returned to duty as a male nurse in the hospital unit, but not for long.
About two months later, she once again was ordered to infiltrate the Confederate lines. She did not want to return as "Cuff," so she went as a fat Irish peddler woman with the name of Bridget O'Shea. Once again she successfully gained admittance to the Confederate camps - sold some of her wares and garnered as much information as she could. She returned to the Union camp not only with the information but with a beautiful horse from the Confederate camp, that she named Rebel. In the process of returning on this trip, Private Frank Thompson was wounded in the arm, but managed to stay in the saddle and elude the Confederates in the chase.
With the battle in Virginia slowing down, the Second Michigan was transferred to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to support the efforts of General Philip Sheridan. Private Thompson's reputation as a nurse and also as a spy preceded the transfer and Private Thompson soon found new territory for spying. On several occasions Emma went behind the Confederate lines as "Cuff," a fellow of whom Emma herself said, "I truly admire the little fellow. He's a plucky one; got his share of grit."
In August of 1862, Private Thompson again went behind enemy lines and this time Emma went as a black mammy complete with the black face and the bandanna. On this trip she became a laundress in the camp and while cleaning an officer's coat a packet of official papers fell out of his pocket. Emma quickly picked them up and decided it was time to return to the Union side with the packet. She did and the officers were delighted with the information she had garnered.
At the end of 1862 her unit was transferred and this time they were sent to the Ninth Corps, commanded by General Ambrose Burnside near Louisville, Kentucky. As before, the reputation of Private Thompson preceded the transfer and his secret missions continued in the new area. Here he was asked to assume the role of a young man with Southern sympathies by the name of Charles Mayberry and go to Louisville to assist in identifying the Southern spy network in the town. Once again Private Thompson succeeded in his mission-this time just prior to the unit's transfer to the army of General Grant in preparation for the battle of Vicksburg.
Under General Grant, Private Thompson worked long hours in the military hospital until a real dilemma arose. She became ill with malaria and could not admit herself to the hospital where her true identity would be discovered. After much soul-searching Emma decided that she had to leave camp for a while and recover in a private hospital. Arriving in Cairo, Illinois, she once again became a woman and checked herself into a hospital for treatment of malaria. Once recovered Emma planned to don her uniform and rejoin her unit - that is until she read the army bulletins posted in the window of the Cairo newspaper office. There on the list of deserters from the Union army was the name of Private Frank Thompson. With the last of her funds, Emma Edmonds bought a train ticket to Washington where she worked as a nurse until the end of the war. There would be no more secret missions for Private Frank Thompson to add to the eleven successful missions in his career.
After the war Emma wrote her memoirs titled Nurse and Spy in the Union Army, which became a very popular book selling thousands of copies. Emma gave all of her profits from the book to the U.S. War Relief Fund. Once the book was completed Emma became homesick for her native Canada. When she returned there she found love. In 1867 Emma married Linus Seeyle and went back into the United States, initially to Cleveland, Ohio. The marriage was happy, and Emma raised three sons, one of whom enlisted in the army "just like Mama did."
While happy in her family life, Emma continued to brood over being branded a deserter in the Civil War. With the encouragement of her friends she petitioned the War Department for a full review of her case. The case was debated and on March 28, 1884, the House of Representatives passed House Bill Number 5335 validating Mrs. Seelye's case. The House Bill includes the following statements:
"Truth is oft times stranger than fiction, and now comes the sequel, Sarah E. Edmonds, now Sarah E. Seelye, alias Franklin Thompson, is now asking this Congress to grant her relief by way of a pension on account of fading health, which she avers had its incurrence and is the sequence of the days and nights she spent in the swamps of the Chickahominy in the days she spent soldiering.
That Franklin Thompson and Mrs. Sarah E.E. Seelye are one and the same person is established by abundance of proof and beyond a doubt. She submits a statement... and also the testimony of ten credible witnesses, men of intelligence, holding places of high honor and trust, who positively swear she is the identical Franklin Thompso..."
On 5 July 1884, a special act of Congress granted Emma Edmonds alias Frank Thompson an honorable discharge from the army, plus a bonus and a veteran's pension of twelve dollars a month. The resulting Special Act of Congress read:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of Interior is hereby authorized and directed to place on the pension roll, the name of Sarah E. E. Seelye, alias Frank Thompson, who was late a private in Company E, Second Regiment of Michigan Infantry Volunteers, at the rate of twelve dollars per month Approved, July 5, 1884.
Now satisfied, Emma lived out the rest of her life in La Porte, Texas, where she died on September 5, 1898. She is buried in the military section of Washington Cemetery in Houston, Texas. In honor of her duty and devotion to her country she is the only female member of the organization formed after the Civil War by Union veterans - The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). In her own words Emma Edmonds said of her adventures:
"I am naturally fond of adventure, a little ambitious, and a good deal romantic - but patriotism was the true secret of my success."
Source: "Spies and Spymasters of the Civil War" by Donald E. Markle

Saturday, January 30, 2016

COWBOYS - HEROES OF THE AMERICAN WEST

By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Without question, there is a certain mystique to the American West -- one that has captured the imagination of men and women for generations. The imagery, language, and culture of the American West has influenced literature, paintings, sculptures, architecture, music, clothing, furniture, jewelry, toys, comic books, old radio shows, as well as television and motion pictures.

There is an instant visualization conjured just thinking about the panorama of the American West. [Pictured: Monument Valley, Utah - and the beautiful sandstone "mittens". Public Domain]

Other images may be rooted in childhood, family history, personal experience, or from reading books about western romance or adventure.

Words like pioneer, frontier, Indian, outlaw, gunslinger, stagecoach, saloon, covered wagon, cattle drive, or box canyon can cause one to picture the American West in a heartbeat.

Yet, no word can quite capture the American West as cowboy. More than a word or job description, cowboys have become the personification of a time and place that has mesmerized people all over the world from the 19th century to the present. For many, cowboy means the American West.

Apart from early western books, which reached a more limited audience (especially worldwide), no other medium has brought cowboys and the American West into our lives as successfully or vividly as television and motion pictures. It all began in 1903 with a 12-minute long silent film called The Great Train Robbery (now preserved and protected in the United States National Film Registry).


Suddenly, what had only been imagined in the mind's eye took shape and form on film. Audiences immediately became enthralled. With the advent of sound, western films continued to gain popularity and resonate with audiences.

Original screenplays, as well as a great many best-selling novels, were adapted to the screen. Matinee screen idols such as Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, Randolph Scott, and James Stewart starred in westerns, which not only increased their fan base but helped make the 'western' a film genre all its own. But cowboy stars came from other walks of life as well. An unknown bit part player named Marion Morrison took a job in a film called The Big Trail to help pay college tuition. Realizing the young man had a great screen presence, his name was changed to John Wayne. In a career that spanned five decades, John Wayne became the most popular western movie star in the world.

With television came westerns, a favorite for the entire family. Films previously available for viewing only at a theatre were now televised into your living room. Popular movie cowboys became stars of their own television show. In 1959 alone, there were 26 western shows on television. [Pictured: Roy Rogers and his trusty steed, Trigger.]

In the 1960s, half-hour programs extended to hour long shows, many of which were now filmed in color. In the decades that followed, innovative westerns offered everything from contemporary set crime dramas like McCloud and the wholesome family drama of Little House of the Prairie to award-winning mini-series formats such as Lonesome Dove and cable shows like Deadwood.

The cowboy has become an icon, the physical embodiment of the American West and (more often than not) the hero who ultimately saved the day before riding off into the sunset. He might be driving a herd of cattle, leading a wagon train of settlers to a new frontier, or the strong patriarch of a ranching family. Perhaps he was a loving single father with a mysterious past and knack for using a rifle at lightning speed. He could be wearing a white hat and badge, risking his life on dusty streets to keep a town safe. Or, he might be more complex and tormented.

One of my personal favorite film cowboys was Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran searching for a niece captured by Comanche Indians. I am sure most of you know the name of this classic film. Driven by hatred and prejudice for his enemy, Ethan's arduous quest to save his niece becomes a determined, fatalistic mission to put an end to the misery and humiliation she has suffered once and for all. If you haven't seen John Ford's 1956 classic motion picture, The Searchers starring John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter -- do so immediately.

Ultimately, the complexities of the cowboy character (whether in books or films) has made him remain a constant favorite with audiences.

He isn't perfect and maybe that is what we find so endearing. He may be reluctant, have a dark past that taught him some pretty tough life lessons or caused him to follow a trail that ended badly. But at his core, his heart, his mind and his soul -- he is a good man who will save the day, even if he dies trying. It is the inherent goodness in his spirit, along with the human flaws, strengths and weaknesses, that brands the cowboy in our heart and mind as a hero of the American West.

It should be noted that not all western films are serious dramas; neither are they historical period films. Although known for some mighty serious western roles, one of my favorite Clint Eastwood westerns is Bronco Billy (1980). IMDb tagline: "An idealistic, modern-day cowboy struggles to keep his Wild West show afloat in the face of hard luck and waning interest."

Even The Sundance Kid aka Robert Redford [pictured] starred in a comedy western romance as a contemporary (rather disgruntled) cowboy in The Electric Horseman (1979). Another one of my personal favorites.

IMDb Tagline: "Sonny Steele used to be a rodeo star, but his next appearance is to be on a Las Vegas stage, wearing a suit covered in lights, advertising a breakfast cereal. When he finds out they are going to drug the horse in case its too frisky, he rides off into the desert."

For many of us, there remains a soft spot in our heart or a sentimental smile on our lips remembering a favorite western film or television show. A writer's fond affection for the cowboy hero of their youth may often influence the appearance or qualities of a hero they create. A reader may visualize a certain actor when reading about a hero in a book. I know I do, usually with recurring favorites like Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Sam Elliot, Tom Selleck, or Lee Majors. (Confession: I loved The Big Valley and all the Barkley brothers, but Heath was my favorite.)

And so, I think it's time we all take a moment to reflect and remember the cowboys who first captured our attention on television and film. For many of us, they will never grow old or die, and continue to inspire future generations. Several years ago, I made a short video tribute to the actors who brought many cowboy heroes to life on film. I hope you like it. Note: The song "Cowboys and Clowns" sung by Ronny Milsap is from the film Bronco Billy that I mentioned above. Oh, and if you have a favorite western film or cowboy hero, please share the memory with us.



Happy Trails! ~ AKB

www.ashleykathbilsky.com

Friday, January 29, 2016

THE NAME GAME by CHERYL PIERSON

I am a collector of names. Have been, ever since I was a kid. Probably because I always wished for a different one, myself. Mine wasn’t really exotic, but it was…different. Cheryl. My parents decided on the pronunciation of “Chair-yl” rather than the more common way of saying it. The way a million other people sad it…with a “SH” sound, “Sheryl,” rather than the hard “CH” sound.

So when I began writing, I knew my characters had to have ‘good’ names—names that fit. Names that weren’t too strange, but not too common. Names that were appropriate for the time period, the setting, and the culture.

The hero, of course, had to have a name that was also something that could be whispered by the heroine in the throes of passion, yet something that would be tough enough on the villain’s lips to strike a modicum of fear in his heart, just by uttering it.

Because I was writing historical western romance, I decided to pull up a chart that would give me an accurate “slice of life”—possible names for my heroes. According to US Social Security records, the top ten names for men in 1880 were: John, William, James, Charles, George, Frank, Joseph, Thomas, Henry, and Robert.

Okay, I could maybe work with the top four. In fact, the first book I ever wrote was about a gunslinger of this time period called ‘Johnny Starr.’

And William could be shortened to ‘Will’—still masculine; but never ‘Willie.’ James—very masculine, and unwittingly, calls up the rest of the line—‘Bond. James Bond.’ At least, it does for me. I could even go with Jamie. Charles is pushing it. George, Frank, and Joe are names I have and would use for a minor character, but I’d never use those for my hero. They’re somehow just too ordinary. Thomas? Again, a great secondary character name, but not a show-stopper. Henry…eh. And Robert is just ‘okay.’

I fast-forwarded a hundred years to 1980. Here are the top 10: Michael, Christopher, Jason, David, James, Matthew, Joshua, John, Robert, and Joseph. Four of the same names were there, though not in the same poll position. By 2008, only William remained in the top 10. John had fallen to #20, James to #17, Joseph to #13. The others had been replaced, not all by modern names, but most in the top 10 were surprisingly “old fashioned.”

2008: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel, Alexander, Anthony, William, Christopher, Matthew.

This told me something. If you aren’t too wild with the names you choose, you have quite a lot of choices! We know that Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Daniel, and Matthew were Biblical names. Just because they weren’t on the “top 10” list in 1880 doesn’t mean they weren’t being used—a lot!

Another source of names for that time period is family records. If you go back through old family documents, it’s amazing to find some of the odd names that cropped up.

Still maybe not ‘protagonist’ material, but your secondary characters could benefit. And who knows? You may find the perfect ‘hero’ name!

No matter what you choose, remember these rules, too:

1. Sound and compatibility—Say your character’s name aloud. Does the first name go well with the last name you’re using? Be careful about running the name together—“Alan Nickerson” or “Dick Keller” may not be good choices. Avoid rhyming names such as “Wayne Payne”—and try to stay away from cutesy names that might make your hero the focus of ridicule.
2. Uniqueness—I’m sure my parents were only trying to be ‘unique’ by pronouncing my name differently than the other 99.9% of the people in the world would automatically say it, but you don’t want your hero to have such an odd name that readers trip over it every time they come to it. Louis L’Amour was a master at coming up with ‘different’ names that were simple. Hondo Lane, Ring Sackett, Shalako, Conagher…and the list goes on.
3. Genealogy—Does it play into your characters’ storyline? If so, you may want to come up with a neat twist somehow on a common name. In my first manuscript, Brandon’s Gold, the gunfighter, Johnny Starr, is named for his father, but the names are reversed. His father was Thomas Jonathan Brandon. He is known as Thomas in the story. Johnny was named Jonathan Thomas Brandon. He goes by Johnny. This keeps a theme alive in my story of the ‘fathers and sons’ of this family, and their relationships. It weighs heavily, because Thomas is dying, but Johnny doesn’t know it. They’ve been estranged for many years.

When Johnny’s own son is born, his wife, Katie, changes the name they’ve decided on just before the birth. She makes Johnny promise to name him after himself and his father, Thomas Jonathan, bringing the circle around once more, and also completing the forgiveness between Johnny and his dying father.

4. Meaning—This might somehow play into your story and is good to keep track of. What do your characters’ names mean? This is a great tool to have at your disposal when you are writing—it can be a great conversation piece somewhere, or explain why your villain is so evil.
5. Nicknames and initials—this can be more important than you think. You may need to have your hero sign something or initial something. Don’t make him be embarrassed to write his initials and don’t give him a name that might be shortened to an embarrassing nickname.

In my book, FIRE EYES, the protagonist has an odd name—Kaedon Turner. I gave him an unusual first name to go with a common last name. I learned later that Caden, shortened to Cade, though not common for the time was not unheard of. Kaedon, shortened to Kaed, was just a different variation. It sets him apart from the other marshals, and emphasizes his unique past in a subtle way.

In my recent contemporary release, SWEET DANGER, my protagonist is half Choctaw Indian. His name reflects both cultures; his Anglo, (Jesse) and his Choctaw, (Nightwalker).

Below are some excerpts from Fire Eyes, available now through TWRP, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. I hope you enjoy!

EXCERPTS FROM FIRE EYES:

Marshal Kaed Turner has just been delivered to Jessica’s doorstep, wounded and unconscious by the Choctaw Indians. This is part of their first conversation, Kaed’s introduction.

“Just pull.” Her patient moistened his lips. “Straight up. That’s how it went in.”

She wanted to weep at the steel in his voice, wanted to comfort him, to tell him she’d make it quick. But, of course, quick would never be fast enough to be painless. And how could she offer comfort when she didn’t even know what to call him, other than Turner?

“You waitin’ on a…invitation?” A faint smile touched his battered mouth. “I’m fresh out.”

Jessica reached for the tin star. Her fingers closed around the uneven edges of it. No. She couldn’t wait any longer. “What’s your name?” Her voice came out jagged, like the metal she touched.
His bruised eyes slitted as he studied her a moment. “Turner. Kaedon Turner.”

Jessica sighed. “Well, Kaedon Turner, you’ve probably been a lot better places in your life than this. Take a deep breath and try not to move.”

He gave a wry chuckle, letting his eyes drift completely closed. “Do it fast. I’ll be okay.”
She nodded, even though she knew he couldn’t see her. “Ready?”

“Go ahead.”

*******

From Kaed’s POV—Finding out his “angel’s” name!

“I need to stop the bleeding. You were lucky.”

“One lucky sonofabitch.”

“I meant, because it went all the way through. So we don’t have to…to dig it out.” There was that hesitation again, but he already knew what it was she didn’t want to have to say to him. He said it instead.

“All we have to do is burn it.”

She let her breath out in a rush, as if she’d been holding it, dreading just how she was going to tell him. “Right. Sounds like the voice of experience.”

“Yeah.”

She touched his good arm and he reached up for her, his warm, bronze hand swallowing her smaller one. Her fingers were cold, and he could tell she was afraid, no matter how indifferent she tried to act.
“You’ve got one on me,” he muttered.

“What’s that?”

“Your name. Or, do I just call you angel?”

He felt the smile again, knew he had embarrassed her a little, but had pleased her as well.

“Jessica Monroe, at your service, Mr. Turner.”

“Don’t go all formal on me.” He paused, collecting his scattering, hard-to-hold thoughts. “I like Kaed better.”

“Better than Mr. Turner?”

He opened his eyes a crack and watched as she gave him a measuring look, her cinnamon gaze holding his probing stare for a moment. “What you’re doin’ for me warrants a little more intimacy, don’t’cha think, Jessica?”

She glanced back down at the seeping wound, worrying her lower lip between even, white teeth. Her auburn hair did its best to escape its bun.

Kaed’s thoughts jumped and swirled as he tried to focus on her, wondering disjointedly how she’d look if she let her hair tumble free and unbound. And her eyes. Beautiful. A man could get lost in the secrets of her eyes.

Maybe he should’ve used a word other than intimacy.

Available at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00JTAFTPS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454088781&sr=8-1&keywords=Fire+eyes+by+Cheryl+Pierson

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

REVIEW OF JODI THOMAS' RUSTLER'S MOON

By Caroline Clemmons

Jodi Thomas is one of my favorite authors. I loved her western historical romances, her contemporary women’s fiction/mystery, FINDING MARY BLAINE, and her contemporary romances. The contemporary romance RUSTLER’S MOON, released today, carries on in the great tradition of her other works.

If you’re wondering what a rustler’s moon is, here is the explanation straight from the book as told by Wilkes Wagner to Angela Harold:

As they reached the porch, he pointed to the sky. “See that quarter moon? That’s called a rustler’s moon. Enough light for rustlers to slip onto a ranch and steal cattle, but not so much that anyone on guard would see them clearly.”

She leaned back and stared up at the sky. “And what would you do, Wilkes, if you could move unseen beneath the rustler’s moon?”

“I might steal your heart, pretty lady,” he answered, halfway kidding.

She laughed. “Not likely.”

“Then I’d settle for a kiss.” The words were out before they’d passed through his mind.



RUSTLER’S MOON is primarily the story of Angela Harold and Wilkes Wagner.

In Florida, Angela Harold’s father left her a cryptic note written minutes before he died. “Disappear,” he told her. She realized he’d been preparing her to leave for months. Accepting the job as curator of a small North Texas museum on the edge of Palo Duro Canyon, she immediately loads her car and heads for Crossroads, Texas. She can’t outrun trouble, and someone stalks her. She believes she has nothing of value and can’t imagine what the person can want—unless he intends to kill her.

Wilkes Wagner is the last of his family. His elderly great-uncle Vern nags him about marriage, but Wilkes is not certain he wants to marry. Vern is a bachelor who flirts with every woman he meets. Wilkes’ parents have no wish to live on the Devil’s Fork Ranch and have left Wilkes in charge of the ranch—and Uncle Vern. Wilkes loves the ranch and his uncle, but lately he’s feeling restless and as if he’s missing something.

Like all Jodi Thomas books, there are numerous subplots running through the story. Yancy Grey is inexplicably drawn to the supposedly haunted Gypsy House. Carter Mayes searches the canyon for the cave with prehistoric drawings he saw as a child. Lauren Brigman wants more closeness from Lucas Reyes. All of the threads running through the book are woven into a lovely tapestry that will delight you. You’ll long to move to the small, close-knit town of Crossroads, Texas near the characters you’ve come to love.

Although each of the books of the Ransom Canyon Series stands alone, I hope you’ll do yourself the favor of reading the two previous novels in the series. WINTER CAMP is the historical detailing the founding of the town. RANSOM CANYON is the first contemporary of the series. 

The RUSTLER’S MOON buy link at Amazon is http://amzn.com/0373788622

Jodi Thomas, Author

Jodi Thomas is a fifth generation Texan who chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable. 

She has won many awards available to romance authors, including receiving the Romance Writers of America RITA award four times and being inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. (The RITA is the romance industry equivalent of Hollywood’s Oscar.) In addition, she is a USA Today and NY Times bestselling author.

With a degree in Family Studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics.  Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus at Canyon, where she currently serves as Writer In Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, "When I was teaching classes full time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher, or nurse, or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place."

For more information, please check Jodi’s website at www.jodithomas.com.f