Saturday, June 30, 2012

QUILTING - A LEGACY OF FAMILY, HISTORY, CREATIVITIY, AND REMEMBRANCE

By Ashley Kath-Bilsky
It’s quite possible, at this very moment, that some of you may have in your home a legacy that had been passed down to you from someone in your family. In many cases, it is a time capsule of a moment in the lives of an ancestor, or may even contain important family history using the only medium available at the time.

Perhaps you went to a museum or local arts and craft show and stared in wonder at a beautiful quilt on display, mesmerized by its color, simplistic or intricate design, and exceptional craftsmanship. As someone who loves history, especially history than crosses time to touch several generations, I can honestly say that I love and admire quilts (especially Amish quilts!). However, quilts are not just about someone’s family; they have become historical markers of our communities, different time periods, and the diverse cultures and religions that can be found in America. And so, it’s not surprising that today quilts are also considered a true art form.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF QUILTING

Quilt making actually dates back thousands of years. The oldest piece of patchwork-type quilting is a patchwork canopy for a bed, and dates from 980 BC. This patchwork canopy is on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The patchwork squares are made of leather that has been dyed in various colors. Silk quilts have also been found in Chinese tombs. A 9th century altar cloth, described as a patchwork of rectangular pieces of cloth, was found in the early 20th century by British-Hungarian archaeologist Sir Marc Aural Stein during the excavation of The Cave of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhaung. It is believed the rectangular pieces of cloth were made by poor pilgrims to the cave, who took the pieces of material from the only thing they had, their clothing. This altar cloth can now be found in the British Museum.

In early Rome, bedding was known as a ‘culcita’, basically a sack of cloth or cushion that had been stuffed and tied in the center to hold the inner layer in place. As the Roman Empire grew, so did the culcita. In France, the word culcita became ‘cuilte’. England adopted the word as ‘cowlte’, which would eventually become the word quilt.

As crusaders, adventurers, and merchants began to travel the world, so did customs and traditions like quilting, as well as the availability of different textiles. Cotton from India, silk from China, and finely woven linen from Egypt would be traded first in the Far East and then throughout Europe.

NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION

Many of us have ancestors who made quilts, traditionally a type of bed cover using several pieces of cloth that have been pieced together by meticulous hand stitching. Most were crafted out of a necessity for warm bedding, especially during Colonial and Frontier America. The cost for imported fabric was very expensive and although homespun fabrics were available, they were not as durable. As such, saving leftover scraps of material was very important.

During the Colonial period, most quilts were made in the pattern known as wholecloth. Repeat lengths of the same leftover pieces of fabric were sewn together, creating the illusion of one piece of cloth. Pictured left is a c1780 block print wholecloth chintz quilt made for a four-poster bed.

After the American Revolution, pieced quilts became more commonplace. Leftover fabric was cut into uniform shapes that, when pieced together with other fabric of similar shape and size, formed a pattern such as blocks, stars, circles, or other shapes. Pictured below is a traditional design patchwork quilt using triangular shapes. Made in New England around 1825 it incorporates fabric from the late 1700s through 1820.

As time went on, the creativity and design of quilts became more elaborate, incorporating more difficult and artistic techniques such as hand applique.

Pictured below is a quilt from 1845 using a white rose applique design.

Formed out of three layers, the top cloth was the decorative layer; the middle layer was batting or wadding, and the third layer (or backing) was woven cloth. The word quilting refers to the joining of at least two of these layers using hand stitching or ties.

Quilting was often a family or communal event. My great-grandmother, along with my grandmother and her sisters, quilted together. As a little girl, my mother would not only watch but knew by sight what each person’s stitches looked like. I have distinct memories of my mother also pointing out a certain fabric in a family quilt and remembering her mother had used that material to make a dress for her, or saying “that was the fabric of our kitchen window curtain”.

Many church groups also had “quilting bees” where the womenfolk gathered together and, amidst laughter and lemonade, worked together to make a quilt for a new parishioner, a, bride-to-be, or perhaps just to help raise money for church repairs. Today, the Amish community is an excellent example of the legacy of quilting and coming together as a group to embrace their history and culture, using only hand-stitching, in what has become a much admired and respected art form.

But when exactly did quilts, as a whole, become recognized as ‘art’?

A RESPECTED FORM OF ART

Although created as a necessary source of warmth and comfort, found in log cabins on the frontier, clapboard farmhouses on the plains, and both slave quarters and antebellum pillared homes of the south, they definitely incorporated color, creative design and use of textiles, and skill.

But it was not until the early 1970s that the Guggenheim Museum in New York took grandma’s quilts off their beds and put them on the wall as a work of art. Cosmopolitan New Yorkers were suddenly face-to-face with the examples of colorful textile artistry that would have hardly been noticed by them in their natural home’s setting. In addition to the design, skill and fibers used to make the quilt, the patterns were studied and it soon became clear that many of them tell a story. For example, you won’t find calico or fabric featuring patterns or stripes on an Amish quilt. As part of their culture and religion, strict observance must be made to the prescribed requirements of both color and fabric.

Perhaps the most moving antique quilt I have ever seen is one called “The Graveyard Quilt”. I first learned of this quilt in a DAR magazine article two years ago, and it has haunted me ever since.

In 1836, a woman named Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell began stitching a quilt in memory of her two-year old son named John, who had just died. A few years later, in 1843, she added the name of another son who had died at the age of 19. But what was so unusual about her quilt is that it features a graveyard in the center. On the top is where the graveyard is located in Monroe County, Ohio. I must admit the grim, almost Tim Burton, look to it disturbed me. I wanted to know why this woman had chosen such a depressing way to remember her family.

Once again, necessity became the mother of invention. Apparently, when her family moved, Mrs. Mitchell wanted to make sure that no one forgot where her two sons had been buried. So, from a heartbreaking, mourning perspective, she used the materials she had and a talent she possessed to not only remember her deceased children but document her family’s history for future descendants. As such, her quilt became a genealogical and historical artifact.

As the family grew, Mrs. Mitchell felt the quilt had ‘design flaws’. She started another quilt, using the original quilt top as a practice piece. The practice quilt now resides in the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center in Ashland, Kentucky. The second, finished quilt (pictured) is part of the Kentucky Historical Society’s Thomas D. Clark History Center in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Having been involved in geneaology and family research for over twenty-five years, I know how difficult and frustrating it can be to find a missing piece of the puzzle, that key bit of genealogical information or firsthand historical documentation. So, now that I understand the story and her reasoning, I appreciate and admire the love and sentimentality Mrs. Mitchell crafted into her quilt. I must admit, however, that her method of keeping up the quilt bothers me. You see, when a child was born into the family (a joyous occasion usually filled with happiness and hope for their future), a black, eight-sided coffin was immediately added to this quilt around the outer edge. When death occurred, these coffins would be removed from that edge and reapplied into the graveyard area, located in the center. The death date would also be embroidered. After 175 years, quilters today may be impressed by Mrs. Mitchell’s “traditional layout of a center medallion surrounded by blocks of alternating 8-pointed stars and black printed fabric”, but for anyone who has spent hours and even years searching for one clue about their ancestors, “The Graveyard Quilt” (macabre as it may seem) is a tangible artifact and sacred history for the descendants of Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell.

Today, you will find many art shows and museums across the country that exhibit quilts as a form of art. Texas even has a museum wholly dedicated to the art of quilt-making.

On November 13, 2011, The Texas Quilt Museum opened in La Grange, Texas. Situated on the Colorado River in Fayette County, the museum comprises two historical buildings from the 1890s and includes over 10,000 square feet and three galleries. With its high ceilings, wooden floors, and brick wall, the non-profit museum is the perfect location to display both antique and contemporary quilts.

At present, the museum is featuring its third installment of “Texas Quilts Today: Selections from the book, Lone Stars III – A Legacy of Texas Quilts from 1986-2011”. The book was written by museum co-founders and co-directors, Karey Patterson Brensenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes, and features no less than 200 Texas quilts. The last phase of this three-part exhibit will run through September 30, 2012. Beginning in October 2012, the museum’s exhibit will be on “Antique Quilts”.

The Texas Quilt Museum also has a wonderful gift shop featuring quilt-related items including signed copies of “Lone Star III – A Legacy of Texas Quilts from 1986-2011”, instructional videos and CDs of music to quilt by, as well as “treasure boxes” by quilt artist Judy Murrah, and beautiful, hand-crafted pressed floral note cards by master gardener and artist Betty Ann Bilsky, (who, coincidentally, also happens to be my very talented mother-in-law). Many of her cards (see photos) feature various textures and textiles, including hand embroidery, and are suitable for framing.
PRESERVING QUILTS

Whether you have a much loved quilt that you use everyday, display as an heirloom, or just want to preserve, it is important to remember that quilts are an art form where fibers are used as the medium. As stated in The Quilt: A History of an American Art Form (2007), “Only a small number of quilts made before the nineteenth century survive today, making them all the more precious.” And because quilts are made of natural fibers, precautions need to be taken to preserve them – very much like any piece of artwork. If a quilt is on display, the quilt should be placed in a cool, dry environment and, most important, not put in direct sunlight. If the quilt is to be folded and displayed on a quilt rack, tissue paper between the layers of the quilt when folding is recommended. If you have an heirloom quilt and want to store it, remember that quilts need air, so do not store quilts in a plastic bag or sealed plastic container. Special containers made of muslin, canvas, etc., can be purchased online to safely store and preserve quilts.

I hope that you enjoyed my post about quilts and their legacy, and remember that each one tells a story. The next time you see a quilt show, whether at your county fair or a museum, admire the creativity and artistry that went into it, as well as the patience and time it took to make those meticulous stitches by hand. And if you are fortunate enough to have a quilt that has been passed down within your family, remember it truly is a time capsule that represents not just the person who made it, but the time period they lived in, the textiles available to them, and the legacy that the art of quilting continues to inspire.
~ AKB

Sources:
The Texas Quilt Museum http://www.texasquiltmuseum.org
A Treasury of Amish Quilts by Rachel Thomas Pellman, Kenneth Pelman: Good Books (1990)
The Quilt: A History and Celebration of an American Art Form by Elise Schebler Roberts: Voyageur Press (2007)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

KANE'S PROMISE IS HERE!

Last year, I started to write a short story for a western anthology that I wanted to

submit to. I had an idea that wouldn’t let me go, no matter how hard I tried to shake it off. I normally write romance. But this story was to be a western, with no romance involved. My “what if” concerned the long reaching effects of an Indian massacre and kidnapping on a young white boy, Will Green.

To tell a story like that, I was going to have to be inside the boy’s head. So the story would have to be told from the first person POV—something I just never do. It’s always been a temptation of mine to write something in first person. But could I pull it off? First person, a boy, a child. I had to try, because there was just no other way to do it.

Once I began to write KANE’S REDEMPTION, I could see that the “short story” was not going to remain “short.” The word count limit for stories for the anthology was 5,000 per story. When I stopped to count, I was already at double that amount. I laid the story aside and started another shorter story in order to finish it in time to submit. But when I came back to KANE’S REDEMPTION, I was free to make it as long as it needed to be.

By the time the story ended at around 25,000 words, I knew that it truly wasn’t finished, even then. So much had happened to young Will and Jacobi Kane, the man who rescued him from the Apache, that I knew this was going to be a series of novellas. In the first book, Will and Jacobi forged quite a relationship, first of necessity and then of a father/son bond. But that relationship was only just beginning.



I wrote KANE’S PROMISE, book 2 in the series, that carries them on into the next year of Will’s life. When a posse comes calling to ask Jacobi Kane to help them track the Apache, will he go? He’s made a promise to his first wife to avenge her, as she lay dying in his arms, but now he has other responsibilities.

Ten-year-old Will is torn between staying with his pregnant stepmother and following Jacobi. He must make a gut-wrenching decision. But they are a family now, and family helps one another, no matter what.

BLURB:
Kane's Promise, the second in a series of three, is the continuation of Kane's Redemption, the story of Will Green, a young boy whose family was murdered by the Apache, and Jacobi Kane, the man who rescued Will from the Indians.

In Kane's Promise, Jacobi Kane must lead a band of lawmen in their mission to find and annihilate the remnants of the Apache renegades who were responsible for killing Will's parents and Kane's wife and children.

But Will knows he belongs at Jacobi Kane's side—not left behind in the safety of the cabin. Once they find the Apaches, all hell breaks loose.

Can Kane protect Will and see this battle to a final end?

EXCERPT: Will and Jacobi are getting ready to leave Colbert’s Ferry Station when Marshal Eddington, one of Jacobi’s old nemeses, decides to cause trouble. He has just insulted Jacobi in front of everyone, and Will, unable to stand Jacobi’s silence, jumps down from his horse and attacks the unsuspecting marshal. Jacobi pulls Will off, but Eddington draws Jacobi into the fight. Here’s what happens:

“I ought to kill you!” Eddington’s eyes were murderous, and now that I had regained my senses, it dawned on me I had made us an enemy for life by making him look foolish in front of the other men. He looked back and forth at me and Jacobi, so I wasn’t certain who he meant to kill, but I was pretty sure he meant me.

Jacobi turned to look at Eddington, rising swiftly to close the few steps between him and the marshal. “If you ever lay a hand on him, Oscar, you’ll answer to me.”
Eddington was busy wiping the blood off his face but he looked up at Jacobi, his thick lips twisting in a sneer. “Go on. Tell me you know a hundred ways to kill me, and all of ’em would make me wish I’d never come into the world at all!”

“You said it, Eddington. Not me.”

Eddington took a final disgusted swipe with his dirty bandana at the trail of blood that kept trickling from his nose.

“I believe ’em, Kane,” he spat. “All those rumors about you bein’ part Injun your own self. You’re no better’n Laughing Wind hisself. A murderin’—”

Jacobi jumped for Eddington, who had quickly gone for his knife. Jacobi landed squarely atop the marshal’s belly and delivered a hammering blow to his jaw at the same time. He easily knocked the marshal’s blade out of his hand as if it were child’s play. Eddington let out a loud “oomph” when Jacobi’s fist connected with his belly.
But Eddington had learned a few tricks of his own, and he was surprisingly quick to be as fat as he was. I’d always felt sorry for his horse, having to tote him all over creation, as heavy as he had to be.

Jacobi knew what Eddington’s next move would be before he made it, it seemed like. I’d only seen Jacobi fight twice before. The first time was when Red Eagle found us and tried to jump us. I could tell both Jacobi and Red Eagle knew they were fighting for their lives, but I couldn’t see much, bein’ as how it was in the middle of the night. The fight Jacobi and Laughing Wind had had was just as serious—a fight to the death, for Laughing Wind. But, in the heat of the battle that had been going on around me, I hadn’t absorbed the skill Jacobi had. The way he rolled and punched and parried Eddington’s blows was like some kind of a dance.

After a few seconds, it was all over. I knew it wouldn’t take Jacobi long to end what he’d started.

Eddington had stopped trying to fight and was covering his head, instead. He was making the little girl noises again. Jacobi had sure beat the hell out of him, and it made my heart glad. I reckoned Jacobi understood just how I’d felt only a few minutes ago. I knew there wouldn’t be one word of lecture from him about me tearing in to Marshal Eddington, when he’d gone and done the same thing his own self. He rolled away from Eddington and came to his feet, breathing hard and just looking at the marshal for a few seconds. Then, he reached down and picked up his hat, dusting it off.
The other men had all gathered around, and even Mrs. Colbert and her daughters had come outside and stood watching. Marshal Eddington began to holler like a wild man when he saw everyone watching him.

“I’ve got witnesses! Kane, you’re going to pay, one way or another! You and that whelp of yours—”

Jacobi took a step forward, planting his foot squarely on Eddington’s wounded thigh, directly over the bullet hole.

“Son of a bitch!” Eddington screamed. He tried to roll, but Jacobi dropped to his knees, grabbing Eddington’s arm and twisting as he kept his weight on the wound.

“Don’t threaten me, Eddington. Never, ever threaten my family, or me.” He leaned close and spoke so softly no one else but me and Marshal Eddington could hear. “Don’t force me to pick one of those ‘hundred ways’, Marshal. I promise you, I will do it.”

Today I’m giving away a copy of KANE’S PROMISE to one lucky commenter. Please leave a comment along with your contact info to be entered—easy, huh?

You can find KANE’S PROMISE as well as KANE’S REDEMPTION here at my Amazon site:
Cheryl's Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Kane’s Redemption is available at Barnes and Noble for Nook, and Kane’s Promise should be there as well by the end of the week.

Look for part 3 of the series, KANE’S DESTINY, in the fall! Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of KANE’S PROMISE.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WHERE WRITERS GET IDEAS

By Caroline Clemmons



Every author is asked a gazillion times where he/she gets ideas for all his/her stories. People who aren’t writers--ie, normal people--don’t have all these people in their head talking to them. No, writers (at least most of us) aren’t schizophrenics and don’t have disassociative disorder. We have muses.

Muse at work
Muses are wonderful. Yep, and those muses consist of characters who talk to us until we write their story to get them to shut up. Not that we EVER want them to stop talking! Just the loudest ones, the ones who demand their story now, which is why we translate their epic from our muse to the computer as fast as possible. If you’ve ever wondered why an author slips in stories between releases of a series, that may be one reason.

Yesterday, Lauri Robinson said in her excellent post that writers are always writing, even when we are doing totally unrelated tasks. At the same time, we are always acquiring new ideas. Everything we see or hear becomes a “what if” kernel for a story plot.

For instance, on Thursday my friend told me her son, who is working in another state while his wife and daughter remain here, was very ill and had been to the ER. All the time she was relating her son’s experience, the friend part of me deeply sympathized with her. The writer part of me, though, was thinking, "Hey, what a great story idea! This would make such a good book if the heroines were....”

Muses sprinkle
fairy dust ideas
Don’t think I’m callous. I really do sympathize not only with a mother worried about her son, but with the ailing son stuck many states away from home. Terrible situation, but that’s what makes a great story. While sympathizing with her, the situation ignites my muse.

Even when we stare off into the distance, we are writing. This is hard on family members, who sometimes may think we’re not paying attention to the conversation. (We’re probably not.) My husband once asked me what I was staring at each day when I looked at our hay meadow from the breakfast room window. The answer is nothing. It’s just a pleasant scene to observe while I’m thinking, but sometimes I see only what's in my head, not anything real. One of my favorite cartoon comics is an old Shoe strip which shows him with his feet on his messy desk while staring off into space for a couple of frames. He almost looks as if he could be dozing. His nephew comes by and says something to him. Shoe snaps, “Can’t you see I’m writing?”
Fortunately, my husband is a true Hero and realizes my blank stares or semi-doze
states equate working out plots.

Staring into space
can be writing
Author Meg Chittendon said, “Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”

And we are simply incurable. There is no 12-Step Program for writers. That’s all right with me. There’s nothing I’d rather do than write. Although, I really enjoy having people read my books, especially if they have kind things to say.

One idea source I haven't experienced, but which many others have, is dreams. Some authors have entire books come to them in dreams. Others dream initial ideas. I just sleep. If I've been worrying because a scene doesn't feel right, then sometimes when I awake the next morning, the idea comes to me of what's needed to correct the scene. That's as much as I can claim.

Except for years in Southern California from ten months to age seven, I grew up in Texas. My husband and I live on a small acreage in rural North Central Texas. As early as I can remember, my father talked about his ancestors moving from Georgia to Texas in the 1800's. His stories fueled a love of history, especially Texas history. You can understand why each of my books is primarily set in Texas. In the event you are interested, and I hope you are, here are links to all my books, not just the romances.

Each is available from Amazon at .
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_17?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=caroline+clemmons&sprefix=Caroline+Clemmons
Those labeled with TWRP are also available from The Wild Rose Press at
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=638
My page at Smashwords is https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CarolineClemmons

ALMOST HOME - contemporary mystery Amazon, Smashwords
BE MY GUEST contemporary romance Amazon, Smashwords
BRAZOS BRIDE historical romance Book One, Men of Stone Mountain trilogy, Amazon
DIGGING FOR DEATH cozy mystery, book one of Heather Cameron series
Amazon
HAPPY IS THE BRIDE historical novella, Amazon, Smashwords
HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME contemporary romance TWRP
LONG WAY HOME historical novella, Amazon, Smashwords
OUT OF THE BLUE contemporary time travel romantic suspense TWRP
SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME historical novella TWRP
SNOWFIRES contemporary romance, Amazon, Smashwords
THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND historical romance, Book Two, Kincaids
Amazon, Smashwords
THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE historical romance, Book One, Kincaids
Amazon, Smashwords
THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE historical romance TWRP

Thanks for stopping by!
Me with cup of tea, and my cat Bailey
wanting to be petted

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What does a writer do when not writing?


http://www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com/
I always cringe when asked that question. I believe, for the most part, a writer is always writing. We may not be putting words on paper, but other than when we’re sleeping (and even then dreams are often writing related) a writer is always doing something that has to do with writing. Plotting while driving, building characters while waiting in line and ‘people watching’, taking vacations that include research, attending conference, workshops, and groups, etc. etc.

So, what do I do when I’m not sitting at the computer?


Spending time with my family. That is number one for us. We have three granddaughters, two step-grandsons and three granddogs and lots of family activities. I am one of eight children and my husband is one of four so rarely does a weekend go by when we aren’t gathering at or hosting a family event. 

We have property in the northern part of the state, about six hours from our home, and especially during the summer months, we travel up there as often as possible. 

Our home is five miles from town, and though we don’t have any animals to tend, (other than an inherited little dog) we do have fruit trees, raspberry and strawberry patches, and a garden. (The granddaughters have grown to expect us to keep them well supplied with jams and jellies all winter.)

 Hubby and I are both NASCAR fans. I also enjoy cooking, baking, sewing, crocheting, knitting, wood crafts, reading, flower gardening, and pistol shooting. Oh, and hubby owns an auto repair business he runs out of our home, and I work full time for a senior companion company.  

Therefore, when I’m not writing, I could be doing any number of things, but there’s always a story flowing in the back of my mind.


Books released in 2012:

January 1: Disobeying the Marshal (Harlequin, Mills & Boon)

February 1: Testing the Lawman’s Honor (Harlequin, Mills & Boon)

May 1: The Sheriff’s Last Gamble (Harlequin, Mills & Boon)

May 23: Sing to Me, Cowboy (The Wild Rose Press)

August 29: Sheriff McBride (this had been part of an anthology and is being re-released as a single title (The Wild Rose Press))

September 1: What a Cowboy Wants (Harlequin, Mills & Boon)

September 18: His Christmas Wish (All A Cowboy Wants for Christmas Anthology (Harlequin, Mills & Boon))

October 16: Unclaimed Bride (Harlequin, Mills & Boon)

Release date yet to be determined: A Soldier for Christmas (this had been part of an anthology and is being re-released as a single title (The Wild Rose Press))

The other question I’m always asked is which book is my favorite. They each trigger special memories and hold special places in my heart for various reasons. If I had to choose from the stories released this year, The Sheriff’s Last Gamble is the one that flew onto the page. I couldn’t type fast enough to get that story out, and Sing to Me, Cowboy was so fun because it’s part of the Honky Tonk Hearts Series. See, even in that I can’t choose just one. And of course, the one I’m writing right now is my favorite at the moment. ;)

Friday, June 22, 2012

MARSHAL DALLAS STOUDENMIRE: A CURE AS BAD AS THE DISEASE?


By Kathleen Rice Adams

El Paso City Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire, 1881
(courtesy El Paso County Historical Society)
 
Desperate times call for desperate measures…and in April 1881, El Paso, Texas, was about as desperate as a town could get. Four railroad lines had converged in the city, bringing with them gamblers, gunmen, and “ladies of questionable virtue.” Within spitting distance of Old Mexico and the lawless western territories, El Paso became a haven for vagabonds, thieves, murderers, and other criminals.

The city was not entirely without a law-and-order presence. The county sheriff’s office was only fifteen miles away—a half-day’s ride on horseback. Fort Bliss was closer…but the Army had its hands full defending settlers from Indians and cross-border marauders. Nearest of all was an entire company of the Texas Rangers Frontier Battalion, headquartered right there in town. Even a force of forty fearsome men who a few years later would adopt the motto “one riot, one Ranger” couldn’t be everywhere at once, though, especially when they had a 1,250-mile unruly border with Mexico to police.

El Paso needed a tough city marshal, and it couldn’t seem to find one. During the eight months starting in July 1880, the town employed four different men in the position. One resigned after two months in office. Another was relieved for “neglect and dereliction of duty.” A third was allowed to resign after a dispute over his pay left El Paso full of bullet holes. By April 1881, the town drunk wore the badge because he was the only man who would take the job.

City fathers thought they were in luck when, on April 11, they enticed a six-foot-four shootist with experience as a soldier, Texas Ranger, and city lawman to claim the marshal’s star. Dallas Stoudenmire, 36, was described by newspapers of the day as a temperamental, physically imposing man with an even more imposing reputation for gunplay.

Dallas Stoudenmire had the barrel of this 1860 Colt Army revolver sawed
off so the gun could be concealed. The Colt was retrieved from the El Paso
street where Stoudenmire was killed in a shootout on September 18, 1882.
 (courtesy The Peacemakers: Arms and Adventure in the American West by R.L. Wilson)

Born in Alabama, Stoudenmire enlisted in the Confederate army at 15. After the war, he migrated to Texas and joined a company of Rangers tasked with subduing renegade Indians in the southern part of the state. Only 20, Stoudenmire reportedly “killed a few men” during his year with the Rangers, ostensibly in the line of duty.

After that, he drifted through Texas, working as a carpenter, a wheelwright, and a sheep rancher before turning to the profession that eventually led him to the job in El Paso: hired gun. Stoudenmire was said to be quick and accurate on the draw, but a hot temper and a fondness for drink frequently caused him trouble. When a saloon brawl in 1877 left bullet holes in several people—including Stoudenmire—he was arrested. He escaped in short order, only to find himself wanted again less than a year later, after he and a couple of compatriots left several men dead in a shootout over a herd of cattle.

Stoudenmire lit out for New Mexico, soon coming to rest as marshal of Socorro in the northern part of the territory. By early 1881, he was back in Llano County, Texas. That’s where the El Paso city fathers found him.

It would take them only a few short days to realize they’d made a mistake, but a total of thirteen violent, frightening months would pass before they removed him from office. Ultimately, only Stoudenmire’s untimely demise freed the city of his presence. Some called the man a criminal with a badge; others credited him with doing more than any other single individual to tame El Paso’s lawless element.

The trouble started three days after Stoudenmire pinned on the marshal’s star. In an incident that came to be known as the Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight, Stoudenmire’s twin .44 Colts dispatched three people—one an innocent bystander attempting to take cover. The other two were an accused cattle rustler and one of El Paso’s former city marshals. The fourth casualty, whose death at the hands of the alleged cattle rustler started the ruckus, was a county constable. Stoudenmire, unscathed, received a raise.

Three days later, friends of the dead men hired another former El Paso city marshal to assassinate Stoudenmire. In the course of firing eight or nine shots at his attacker, Stoudenmire obliterated the would-be assassin’s privates.

In May 2001, Dallas Stoudenmire’s Smith & Wesson American,
serial number 7056, sold at auction for $143,000. His El Paso
city marshal’s badge sold for $44,000 in a separate lot.
(courtesy Little John Auction Service catalog, May 2001)

The notorious gunman continued to collect enemies while he performed some aspects of his job admirably. Even his detractors credited him with a steel-nerved ability to face down miscreants, six of whom he reportedly introduced to Boot Hill. Stoudenmire collected fines and taxes with alacrity, at the same time shooting dogs whose owners neglected to pay the $2 annual license fee. He angered the local religious community by using a prominent church’s bell for target practice while he policed the streets, usually in the middle of the night. The jail and prisoners were well tended, but the marshal’s records were a mess, and unauthorized expenditures caused friction with the city council.

Stoudenmire also drank heavily, often on duty, leading the editor of the El Paso Times to call into question his fitness as an officer of the law. When the Texas Rangers took an interest in Stoudenmire’s idiosyncratic approach to law enforcement, he called them a pack of cowards and liars and tried to get the entire force banned from El Paso, without success.

The city decided it had endured enough in February 1882, when Stoudenmire and his new bride returned from their wedding trip to find her brother murdered and the accused killer absolved of charges. Vowing revenge, Stoudenmire went on a violent drinking binge. One writer called his behavior “as irresponsible and dangerous as the town hoodlums.” Right away the city council passed a resolution mandating a stiff fine for any lawman caught drinking in public. Since Stoudenmire collected the fines, the law was woefully ineffective.

Public sentiment against the marshal had reached a crescendo…and so had the city council’s fear of the monster they had created. In May the council called a meeting to fire Stoudenmire, but when the marshal showed up drunk and waving his infamous Colts, the meeting quickly adjourned. Two days later he sobered up and resigned.

Despite the public’s ill will, Stoudenmire and his wife remained in El Paso. The now ex-marshal continued to drink, get into fights, and settle arguments with his guns; nevertheless, in July he was appointed deputy U.S. marshal.

Over the next few months, Stoudenmire’s feud with the man accused of his brother-in-law’s murder escalated. Stoudenmire mocked and insulted the man and his two brothers in public, daring them to fight. When other citizens ventured an opinion about his behavior, Stoudenmire cursed and threatened them. The El Paso Lone Star warned “citizens stand on a volcano,” and the streets might be “deluged with blood at any moment.”

On September 18, the volcano erupted. Stoudenmire and the three brothers met in a saloon and argued. One of the brothers and Stoudenmire drew their guns. Stoudenmire was hit twice: The first bullet broke his gun arm, and the second bullet knocked him through the saloon’s batwing doors. Lying in the street, Stoudenmire pulled his second gun and wounded his attacker just before another of the brothers killed him with a shot to the head. The wounded brother pistol-whipped the body.

Separate trials acquitted the brothers of murder. They left El Paso and died of natural causes in 1915 and 1925.

Stoudenmire’s widow buried him in Colorado County, near Columbus, Texas, where they had been married a few months earlier. The Freemasons, of which he was a member, paid all funeral expenses for the destitute widow. Although a commemorative marker documenting his Confederate service exists, no stone marks his gravesite, and all records of its location have been lost.

An obituary in the Colorado [County] Citizen called Stoudenmire “a brave and efficient officer, and very peaceable when sober.”

Kathleen Rice Adams
A journalist in real life, Kathleen Rice Adams also is an editor and ghost writer of non-fiction books. She much prefers romancing fictional western antiheros one protagonist at a time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

STETSON , THE BOSS OF THE PLAINS


By Gini Rifkin

Gini Rifkin, Author

          I was delighted when Caroline invited me to quest blog on Sweethearts of the West. Although I have published two Medievals and two Victorians, my first western novella, SPECIAL DELIVERY, was released in May, and I’m thrilled to be heading into cowboy country.

       Brushing up on history of the American West, I felt it was essential to study the Stetson phenomenon. I needed to know if geographically my hero would have access to purchasing one of these hats, and if they were common or even in existence in the time period I chose for my story. I’m a stickler for detail regardless of the era, spend hours researching, and hope the end result is a story that feels real and offers a painless subliminal learning experience.

Here’s what I discovered about……..

                                   THE HAT THAT WON THE WEST

A cowboy without his hat is
simply a man on a horse.

       The concept of a broad-brimmed hat with a high crown worn by a rider on horseback can be seen as far back as the Mongolian horsemen of the 13th century. A tall crown provided insulation, the wide brim, shade. In hot, sunny climates, hats evolved to have extremely wide brims, such as the sombrero of Mexico.

        Before John Batterson Stetson created the “The Boss of the Plains”, men who drove cattle and worked the range sported any number of hat styles. They generally wore whatever headgear was required at their previous profession so it wasn’t unusual to see them in a sailor hat, a beret, derbies, Civil War paraphernalia, and even top hats. None of these were very useful out on the prairie. And luckily this was soon to change and a legend was about to be born.  

A cowboy and his horse are partners


         John Batterson Stetson started his life in East Orange, New Jersey in 1830. His father, Stephen Stetson, was a successful hatter and taught his children the hatting trade. But having developed tuberculosis as a young man, a doctor advised John B. to move west and in 1859 he struck out for St. Joseph, Missouri.

      While there, he tried to join the Union Army in the early 1860’s but was rejected do to his poor health. Undefeated he worked as a bricklayer which went fairly well until the river flooded and washed his business away. At loose ends, he joined a group heading west to the gold fields of Colorado.

      This didn’t “pan out” but during his stay in the mountains, he fashioned a head covering from beaver hides. After a mule driver paid him a $5 gold piece for the hat right off his head, Mr. Stetson, being no fool, decided to refine, manufacture and sell this type of product.

       By 1865 he was back in Philadelphia working in the hat manufacturing trade. A year later the “Boss of the Plains” came into being, and after that, came the front creased Carlsbad, destined to become “the” cowboy style. The Stetson® hat has captured the essence of the west, has become an American icon, and is now an indelible part of western history.
                                                 
 The Stetson®

           The rugged individualism of the West was perfectly represented by a hat that could be shaped differently by each wearer—a punched-in crown, a bended brim, a braided leather band—all were different ways to make a Stetson® one’s own.

         By 1886, Stetson owned the world’s biggest hat factory. Situated in Philadelphia it employed nearly 4,000 workers. And by 1906, the factory was putting out about 2 million hats a year. John B. transformed hat making from a manual to a mechanized industry by introducing iron cutting and shaping machines, and by improving quality control. He was also among the first U.S. tycoons to offer benefits to reward workers for hard work. He dispensed free health care to employees and gave shares in his company to valued workers. As a philanthropist, he founded Stetson University in Deland, Florida, and built a Philadelphia hospital.

Stetson's Hat Factory

             Inside the cowboy hat is a memorial bow to past hatters, who developed brain damage from treating felt with toxic mercury (which gave rise to the expression "Mad as a Hatter"). The bow on the inside hatband at the rear of the hat resembles a Skull and crossbones. Early hatters used mercury in the making of their felt. Their bodies absorbed mercury, and after several years of making hats, the hatters developed violent and uncontrollable muscle twitching. The ignorance of the times caused people to attribute these strange gyrations to madness, not mercury.

Other Hat Types offered by Stetson


                    SINGING COWBOYS IN TEN GALLON HATS


         In the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, a hat was an indispensable item in every man’s wardrobe. Stetson focused on expensive, high-quality hats that represented both a real investment for the working cowboy and a statement of success for the city dweller.

       Early on, Stetson® hats became associated with legends of the West, including “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers, and Annie Oakley. It is said that George Custer rode into the Battle of Little Big Horn wearing a Stetson®. Later on, Western movie cowboys were quick to adopt the Stetson®. Many were drawn to the largest most flamboyant styles available. Tom Mix, an early-20th century movie star, wore a ten gallon hat (my Mom rode in his car).

Tom Mix in a Ten Gallon Stetson

      Texans were known for their preference for the "Ten Gallon," model, possibly so named for its enormous crown which at least appeared to be able to hold ten gallons were it to be dipped into a stream and used as a pail. An early Stetson® advertising image, a cowboy dipping his hat into a stream to provide water for his horse, symbolized the Cowboy hat as an essential part of a stockman’s gear.

         According to Win Blevins' DICTIONARY OF THE AMERICAN WEST (p388), the term "ten-gallon" has nothing to do with the hat’s liquid capacity, but derives from the Spanish word gal√≥n (braid), ten indicating the number of braids used as a hat band.
 
A cowboy was seldom without his hat

         The first American law-enforcement agency to adopt Stetson’s western hat as part of their uniform was the Texas Rangers. In the Second Boer War, the flat brimmed Stetson® became the standard issue of the second Canadian Contingent, becoming recognized throughout the British Empire as a symbol of Canada. Canadian police, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Red Serge dress uniform includes a Stetson® with a flat brim.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
adopted flat brimmed Stetsons®


     John B. created not only a hat but an image, a daydream inducing piece of clothing that has survived into the 21st century. A cowboy today might carry a GPS gizmo on his belt rather than an 1851 Colt Navy, but the hat is still the same. Tonight I'll be dreaming of Stetsons® and the men who wear them!

Don't know if this is a Stetson®,
don't care!

            My late husband Gary and I spent many years re-enacting the Mountain Man Era, attending rendezvous and making our own clothes accouterments, and foofaraws. It was a brilliant learning experience for my writer’s treasure trove of sights, sounds, smells, and just plain old tales of adventures.

Gary and Gini Rifkin

       For me, the road to publication has been long and arduous, yet well worth the tears and effort. My best advice, if I dare presume to give any, would be to rise out of the ashes of your rejection letters, and like the heroines in your books, don’t give up. And write not only what you know, but what you love. Never let age determine your dreams. My first romance was released one month before my 60th birthday.            
    Please visit www.ginirifkin.com and http://ginirifkin.blogspot.com                

SPECIAL DELIVERY only $1.99
At Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Special-Delivery-Love-Letters-ebook/dp/B00801Q3RK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339978207&sr=1-1&keywords=Gini+Rifkin

 and The Wild Rose Press
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_146&products_id=4838

and other online stores.



Clover City, Colorado—1888

      A mysterious letter and the drop-dead handsome town marshal, are the last things Mariah expects to find making rounds as a midwife.

      Mariah McAllister plans to be married before her next birthday. Too bad Marshal Virgil Kincaid barely knows she’s alive. Not one to give up easily, she’s determined to show him she has an abiding passion for more than her work.

     Virgil Kincaid loved a woman once—after she broke his heart, he spent three years in prison. Women can’t be trusted, no matter how good they look. He’s sworn off relationships in favor of Saturday night poker games. Life is simple—the way he wants it…until a stranger turns up dead in the road.

     Forced to work side by side with Mariah, Virgil begins to wonder if she might be his second chance at love. As they trade kisses and oh so much more, he’s willing to take the gamble. But when a killer threatens their once peaceful town, all bets are off.

SPECIAL DELIVERY Excerpt:
        Virgil Kincaid was a prime cut of man. Over six feet tall, he made Mariah’s five-foot seven height seem less gawky and awkward. And he was built for action, long and lean with broad shoulders—shoulders she hankered to hold onto—and with narrow hips—hips she could easily envision pressed up against her own.

      And then there were his eyes. Gray as the sky in winter, full of secrets, revealing nothing. Virgil had been the town Marshal for nearly three years, yet no one knew where he’d come from or how long he intended to stay. What would it take to light a fire in those eyes and put settling down in his thoughts?

       Her gaze drifted lower and latched onto the front of his Levi’s. A picture of what he might look like naked skittered across her mind and her cheeks grew hot at the imagining.

       “You done lookin?” he asked.

        Her gaze snapped up to meet his and the heat of humiliation replaced the lustful warmth.

        “Yes,” she babbled, “there doesn’t seem to be anything of interest here.”

        “Really?” he challenged, with a cocky grin and a raised brow.

         He stepped closer and stood so near she could smell the man scent of him as she tried to ratchet her breathing down to a more normal rate.

        “You’re a very unusual woman, Miss McAllister.”

        “Is that good or bad?” she dared to ask.

        “I’m not sure yet.”


Gini Rifkin lives and plays in Colorado where the moon rises over the prairie and the sun sets over the Rocky Mountains. When she's not reading or writing, she's caring for her Noah’s Ark of rescued animals. At present she has a chaotic but happy family of ducks, geese, goats, donkeys and cats. If you see her in a crowd she’ll probably be the one wearing a hat. It’s not quite a fetish but she's working on it.


Monday, June 18, 2012

A Genealogy Chart for Characters?

The Camerons of Texas
Have you ever created a genealogy chart for a fictional family you invented for novels? If no one says 'yes,' I may feel a little foolish. I did just that after I'd written and published three  Western Historical novels under the subtitle--The Camerons of Texas.

In each couple's story, the hero and heroine were not the only characters in the books. There were parents,  stepchildren, adopted children, brothers, sisters, and cousins. A large clan of Camerons. In my mind, I had enough material for about a dozen more stories. Today, I'm at least making a dent in my list.

In TEXAS BLUE, the hero Buck Cameron, had two sisters who appeared in the story. The first was Charlotte who had married William Garrison. Their two children were Maximilian and Katherine--Max and Kat.

~*~I used a grown-up Max in a novella "Dime Novel" titled Angel and the Cowboy.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=celia+yeary
ALL MY DIME NOVELS, AS WELL AS EVERYTHING ELSE CAN BE FOUND ON AMAZON.


~*~I used Charlotte in another  "Dime Novel" titled Charlotte and the Tenderfoot.









~*~Now, Kat and the U.S. Marshal is submitted as another Dime Novel and I'm waiting on a release date.  Kat is Max's sister from Angel and the Cowboy.
I agree this can be confusing, and that's the reason I made the chart. We authors feel like normal people, don't we? Even though we have characters in our heads and hearts that are very real. Any non-author cannot understand this, and so I don't talk about it to anyone except others such as I.

Unless I get a serious mental block, I have a list of characters for future novels or novellas.
For Example:
~*~Lee Cameron King--he appeared in Texas Blue as a small boy who picked his nose and rode imaginary horses around the yard. I'd like to make him an early 20th Century entrepreneur  during the oil boom in Texas--a wildcatter, a risk taker, a rich man with money to make money, a tough businessman who has a big sense of humor. I'd have him run into a real buzz-saw, a serious woman who is investigating oil company monopolies for a New York newspaper.

~*~Jackson Rene Deleon--he was the baby boy in Texas True. I see Jackson grown up and the heir to the great Deleon fortune. At a young age, he becomes the head of an empire consisting of ranching in Texas, gold and silver mines in Colorado, and shipping lines out of Houston. I'd have him meet a titled British lady whom he must convince to marry him and live in South Texas on the ranch--the headquarters for the Texas Star Corporation his father formed.

~*~Lacy Deleon--she was the little niece of Sam Deleon in Texas True, born in the Flats in Austin, a prostitution area where she and her little brother, Antonio, were born and lived. When True Cameron married Sam Deleon, she found the small girl and boy and brought them home, causing a huge problem. But True was determined to raise them as their own children. Lacy, now grown into a proper young lady, discovers her lurid birthplace and challenges the local government to do something. She would meet a brash, young attorney/senator and entice him to help her.

~*~Antonio Deleon--Lacy's wild little brother in Texas True. He was a hellion as a kid, although lovable and good-hearted. But he didn't understand the word "no." I see him grown and sowing too many wild oats and getting in trouble. I'd like him to meet a strong-willed female rancher who challenges him to straighten up and learn to be a man.

~*~Laura Lynn Paxton--Jo King's half-niece in Texas Promise .  Beauty Laura Lynn has such a horrible past she knows little about, but sets out to find the burial place of her prostitution mother in New Mexico. In doing so, she hires a tracker to help her.

~*~Alexander King--son of Dalton and Jo King in Texas Promise. I have high hopes for the darling child. Just look at his name. He has it all--handsome, rich, smart, educated, adored by the entire family...and takes it all for granted. Until...what? His story will require much thought.

NOTE: Texas Promise and Texas True have a new home at Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery. Both will be re-released by September, with new covers, and available in ebook as well as prints. I am thrilled with this development for these two stories. Thank you. 
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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