Thursday, February 10, 2011

COMMANCHEROS AND RANSOM CANYON


Ransom Canon, Cañon de Rescate
in West Texas

Sometimes you can live in an area and never really know everything about it. About twenty-five miles from where I live in West Texas is an historical site called Ransom Canyon, a part of the larger Yellowhouse Canyon. And I never really knew it existed until recently. In 1977 it was incorporated into a town, but in the 1800’s it was the scene of trading in human flesh.

It became known as Ransom Canyon after it became the regular meeting place for the Comancheros and the Comanche and Apache Indians. The Comancheros would trade guns and whiskey for stolen cattle or, more often than not, white captives. The Comancheros would then ransom off the captives back to their families for a hefty sum. If the families didn’t or couldn’t meet the price, the captives were sold to the highest bidder. Not a pleasant life for sure for the captives. I can’t imagine.

But who were these Comancheros?


On Sale July 1, 2011
They were a blood-thirsty outlaw group mostly of Mexican descent who roamed the Llano Estacado (it’s pronounced ya-no esta-kado) commonly known as The Staked Plains (an area that covers western Texas and the Panhandle and extends into eastern New Mexico.) It’s one of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent. One source says it covers over 32,000 square miles.

Back to Ransom Canyon though….

It was carved out by a tributary of the Brazos River. The huge canyon was protected by steep walls which made it a perfect haven for travelers.

The Comancheros and Native Americans weren’t the only ones who used it. Because of its clear trickling streams and towering cottonwoods, it became regularly traveled. Besides the American Indians and Comancheros, buffalo hunters, U.S. Army soldiers, frontier settlers, and cowboys with their cattle herds camped here.


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Anthology
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I drove over to take some pictures of the Texas Historical marker and see what else I could see. When I stepped out of the car, I got goosebumps. Just standing on the ground where so much happened was pretty emotional. When I closed my eyes I could see the frightened faces of the captives. I felt their spirits. They say the canyon is haunted and I can believe it.

Ransom Canyon and the Comancheros appear in my story for an upcoming anthology called GIVE ME A TEXAS OUTLAW that will release July 1st. I’m again featured with Jodi Thomas, Phyliss Miranda, and DeWanna Pace. This will make our fourth anthology together. We hope you look for it. 

 Have you had a strong connection to a historical place where it felt like you’d stepped back in time?

37 comments:

  1. Linda, yes I often get goosebumps when I'm at a hisotical site. I love your post--it makes me want to go back and look at Ransom Canyon again.

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  2. Good morning, Linda--Hi from another West Texas girl--raised in Levelland. You've described the area perfectly, and it makes a fantastic setting for a novel. Thanks for being our guest--Caroline and I will be around--Celia

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  3. Caroline, I hope you get to come back to visit this area before too long. It's calling you. I'm astounded with how much we have in common. I'm thrilled you asked me to blog over her today. You ladies are awesome.

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  4. Hi Celia, wow we're Texas neighbors! Levelland isn't far from where I live. There's so much history here. Thanks for inviting me to blog today. This is such a neat site. You ladies have done an amazing job to help promote not only western romance but old west history as well.

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  5. Linda, this is a great post about an area of Texas most people don't know about. So picturesque. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Phyliss

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  6. Hi Linda, I got goosebumps just looking at the picture. Standing on that spot in person must have been incredible. What a mix of hope and suffering . . . I'm looking forward to the book!

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  7. Hi Phyliss, glad you stopped by to visit. I appreciate the support. You're going to have to come for a visit and let me show you around. We'll have fun. I know how eagerly you're looking forward to Outlaw's release because I'm counting the days also. I think this anthology is our best yet.

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  8. Hi Linda, Oh, I got chills reading this! It always amazes me often tragedy and beautify co-mingle in the Old West.

    I had a similar feeling not long ago when I visited The Alamo. I was in San Antonio for a few days, and my hotel was so close....I walked through the mission and the grounds at least twice a day.

    Wonderflu post, and I am eager for another antho from you fine ladies.

    Hugs oxoxoxox

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  9. Hi Vicki, some places just really call to you and Ransom Canyon did that for me. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about it and then seeing it with my own eyes. It's not only a breathtaking sight when you descend from the top to the bottom of the canyon but you can also feel the suffering of the captives. It's a powerful place. Hope you enjoy Outlaw when it comes out. I love this cover.

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  10. Hi Linda,

    Love your covers and your writing!! Can't wait to add your book in my list of TBR on my Kindle. We'll be visiting Texas soon again.
    Hugs and love
    Charlene

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  11. Caroline--interesting info on Ransom Canyon! The one place I that gave me the shivers was during our vacation to the Black Hills years ago. Westood next to wagon train tracks that had been preserved over time and I swear I heard voices whispering when the wind blew that afternoon.

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  12. Hi Tanya, thanks for dropping by. I appreciate it. Yes, the Alamo is another site that evokes powerful feelings. So much happened there.
    i hope you enjoy Outlaw when it comes out.

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  13. Hi Caroline:

    The most emotional place I’ve ever been is inside the Roman Coliseum. I’d been in the copy in Los Angeles so I knew what it could be like full of shouting people. The fact that there was so much evil done in that place and that people paid to watch it and enjoyed it makes it like no other place on earth.

    Vince

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  14. Hi Charlene, thanks for coming by. Glad you enjoyed my blog about Ransom Canyon. It's a really neat place and so beautiful. Especially at Christmas time. The people who live there really go all out putting up lights and decorations. I drove over there at night and seeiing the lights reflected on the water really was pretty. Thanks for the compliment about my writing. I hope you enjoy Outlaw.

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  15. Hi Marin, glad you enjoyed my blog. Thanks for stopping by. I'm sure that place in the Black Hills is very special. It's eerie how the wind seems to carry the voices of people long ago. Those wagon tracks must've been something to see. I'll have to put that on my list of places I want to visit.

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  16. This is interesting. Great first hand research. I would love to have the money to be able to travel to different areas to see things up close and get the feel of the land and people that were there. Great job, Celia.

    Love and blessings
    Rita

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  17. Hi Vince, thanks for stopping by. I've never been to the Roman Coliseum but I can just imagine the sadness of the place. It's really terrible what people did and still do to one another. Looks like we'd learn a lesson one of these days.

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  18. Hi Redameter, I'm glad you enjoyed my subject. There are so many wonderful historical places to visit. My list is really long too. I hope to get to at least half of them before I die. It really makes a difference to stand on an historical spot and feel the spirits talking to you. Reading about those places in books is not the same.

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  19. Linda, I've had two places affect me this strongly.

    Carlsbad Cavern and Lake Itasca

    I'm setting a book in a fictionalized 'carlsbad cavern' a three book series beginning in August.
    When I walked through Carlsbad Cavern I was struck so hard by the image of an explorer trying to find his way down there. It's so beautiful and so dangerous.
    And did you know ... though Carlsbad Cavern wasn't really 'discovered' until 1900...they found three dead bodies down there? How spooky? Loved that place. I'd love to go back too. It captured my imagination like no where else on earth ever.

    And Lake Itasca is the headwaters of the Mississippi in northern Minnesota. To get there we had to drive into this incredibly dense forest. We just drove and winded and trees right up to the car door (on a paved highway). There was something about that place, the drive into it. The woods are so intense.
    I felt like I time traveled to a day, long ago, no paved roads. A frontiersman trying to go north through these woods. You could see out into the trees and it is impassable. Trying to imaging walking through it....well, I couldn't.
    thick underbrush, rugged land, certainly not level land to walk on, and yet not the steep mountains often associated with woods.
    And I could imagine someone ... if there WAS a way to get into the deep dark jungle ... disappearing, hiding from the law for example, and NEVER being seen again.

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  20. Hi, Linda--me, again. No, I don't live in Levelland anymore. I grew up there, married, left home. We live in San Marcos--and have done so for 35 years.
    Caroline lives close to my birthplace, Mineral Wells. We think we might be "cousins" because we have so much in common.
    Now, I'll add you to my list of "West Texas Girls." Except I say "South Plains" or "The Panhandle." True Texan, through and through. Celia

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  21. Hi Mary, thanks for coming over. I'm very familiar with the Carlsbad Caverns since I grew up not far from there. As a kid we averaged visiting there at least twice a year. Like you, I fell in love with it. I liked to close my eyes and picture the first person to ever go down there. He must've been quite an adventurer with a deep curiosity. That's a huge place. I'm sure it was very easy to get lost down there for days....or weeks.

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  22. Celia, San Marcos is a very pretty place to live. The scenery is lots prettier than Levelland. Next time I go through there I'll holler and we'll meet up for lunch or something. I'd love to meet you.

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  23. I was raised in that part of the country. Levelland and Lovington. Loved the post and want more. Can't wait for Texas Outlaw in July.

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  24. Hi Winona, wow! Thank you so much for coming by. You, Celia, Caroline, and me all came from this part of the country. I know Lovington well. My dad worked at a job on the courthouse there when I was a kid and he got burned really bad in an explosion. Can't wait to see you in July when Phyliss and I come to speak to the RRRW girls. I'm counting the days.

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  25. I can understand your goosebumps, Linda, imagining the heartbreak and danger those captives faced. Your new book sounds wonderful.
    Elizabeth

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  26. Love your post, Linda. I, too, get goosebumps at historical sites. : )

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  27. Hello, my filly sister! Welcome to SOTW. Loved this post, Linda. Very interesting and informative, as always. I have always been able to feel the presence of "others"--my earliest memory of it was at Vicksburg Battleground when I was about 5 or so.
    Cheryl P.

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  28. Hi Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by. My Filly sisters are awesome! I know you live in California and there are tons of historical places that compare to our Ransom Canyon. All we do is get out and visit them. Hard to do sometimes when we're so busy writing.

    Thanks for the kind words about my stories. You're so sweet. Hope Outlaw doesn't disappoint.

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  29. Hi Karen, so glad you stopped by. I'm sure you've seen your share of historical sites since you visit so many reservations and Native American places. I'd love to go to a powwow some day. Bet it's lots of fun.

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  30. Hi Cheryl P, glad you came by to chat. You must have a special gift to be able to feel spirits at such an early age. I wasn't able to sense those things until I was married and had children. I hear those Civil War battlegrounds are great places to sense the pain and suffering of those soldiers. I've been to one but I hope to one day. Folks who have been say there's nothing like it, especially if you go when they're having an reenactment.

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  31. Linda, what a fascinating bit of history. I'm ashamed to say in all my reading I've never come across Ransom Canyon. How can that be? :-)

    Yes, I had a similar experience years ago. I was visiting the grounds where a Texas frontier fort had been located. It's since been restored, but at that time there were only the remnants of a few buildings -- and nothing to explain what they were. As I was standing in an open area, I imagined metal clattering, a low murmur akin to voices, and a ka-ching sound. In another area, I had a sensation of sadness. When I returned years later, to the restored fort, the area where I'd sensed the noises was the parade ground. The area where I'd sensed sadness was a small cemetery. It was a fascinating experience -- not at all unsettling. And it seems after I share my story with people, they have one of their own :-)

    I enjoy your writing!

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  32. Hi LInda,

    Great post! That's why I wrote the Spirit trilogy about the Nez Perce of Wallowa county. I've felt their pressence when riding my horse as a girl on our land in the Wallowa Valley.

    Great information about that area. I've heard of it but didn't know all the details.

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  33. Hi Nancy, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog about Ransom Canyon. Sounds like you've had more than a few experiences yourself. Those old forts are very haunted I'm told. I don't know which one you visited but that was a neat feeling I'm sure. I was really fortunate to visit Fort McKavett down by Menard, Texas and that place was so full of restless spirits.

    I appreciate the kind words about my writing. Glad you enjoy my stories. I hope you'll look for GIVE ME A TEXAS OUTLAW in July.

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  34. Hi Paty, I'm so glad you stopped by to chat and glad I could bring you something interesting. Growing up where you did must've been quite something. It's really strange how certain things, especially historical places, call to us and we feel obligated to write about them. Your Spirit Trilogy was excellent and it showed that you knew little details that you wouldn't have been able to find in research books.

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  35. Linda, I haven't explored the Canton yet. Now I'm going to have to. Thanks and congrats on the upcoming anthology!

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  36. Hi Linda. I've lived in Brownfield and Amarillo and never knew about Ransom Canyon. Sheesh. That's what happens when you move in and out so fast. lol Luckily, our son and his family are in the area, so we have another chance.

    Devil's Tower gave me the chills. Indian spirits, spirituality always fascinates me.

    I look forward to your new anthology. Best of luck with it. I"ll need to add your first 3, too.

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  37. Linda,
    Congratulations on your new anthology! I'm so glad you're telling the history of the Commancheros. I've read a little of the history and was surprised then to discover their headquarters so close by.

    I agree with Marin on the spirits. When my dh and I take walks in the desert on the other side of the Rio Grande, it's as if I can hear in the wind the voices of the spirits of those who lived there hundreds of years ago.

    The strongest feelings of a historical event I've ever felt came to me in the Alamo on a trip to San Antonio about 10 years ago. The feelings were so strong that I had goose bumps as I walked inside the buildings, and it was a warm day in the spring.

    Carlsbad Caverns is an amazing place. I've been there so many times since I was old enough to walk it in grade school. My daughter and dh have been to Lechugia (spelling?) Cavern where they walked with the aid of flashlights. Anytime my daughter had friends come to visit, she would insist on taking them to see Carlsbad Caverns and if they had time, the Space Museum in Alamagordo, New Mexico.

    Thanks for visiting Linda! This has been fun!

    Jeanmarie

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