Thursday, May 30, 2013

THE COMANCHE - LEGENDARY MASTER HORSEMEN OF THE AMERICAN WEST

By Ashley Kath-Bilsky



While writing and doing research for 'Spirit of the Wind', the second book of the Windswept Texas Romance Series, a great deal of time has been spent learning about the Comanche. Spirit of the Wind is the story of Ethan Blake (brother to Jordan Blake, featured in my best-selling time travel romance, Whisper in the Wind).

As the reader learns in Whisper in the Wind, Ethan was captured as a young boy by the Comanche after they raided and destroyed his family's home, stole prized breeding horses, and murdered his parents. The not-knowing what happened to his older brother haunted Jordan Blake his entire life, enough so that he became a Texas Ranger and Pinkerton detective to try and find Ethan. Unfortunately, he never did. It begged the question, "What happened to Ethan?"

In order to tell Ethan's story, I needed to gain accurate historical insight into the culture and thought process of the Comanche, as well as what effect growing up in their environment would have on Ethan Blake, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Because of his young age, would Ethan adapt and willingly be adopted by the Comanche? Quite possibly, as was the case with Cynthia Ann Parker, the 19th century version of the "Stockholm Syndrome" could come into play whereby Ethan eventually became sympathetic to his captors and grew to love them. Or, would hatred and contempt burn inside his belly and drive him toward revenge? What I've discovered is not only how much I love this character, but the compelling complexities of his relationship with the Comanche and how (in good and bad ways) they shaped the man he would become.



Since Ethan's captivity began in April 1861 and the last of the free Comanche surrendered to military authorities at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in June, 1875, fourteen years of this character's life would be spent living with the Comanche. In essence, if done correctly, Ethan's story would be an eye-witness account (albeit in a work of fiction) to how the Comanche lived on the Southern Plains. Because of this, I wanted to address their history as accurately as possible.

First, although we frequently use the word 'tribe' when talking about Indians, the Comanche were not actually considered a 'tribe', but called themselves "The People". As a people, they were organized into individual bands. The names for some of these bands include Antelope, Wanderer, Buffalo-eaters, Yap-eaters, etc. Because they were hunter-gatherers, they were nomadic and lived in tee-pees, thereby enabling them to break up their camp and move to better hunting grounds when needed. Like their Kiowa allies, the Comanche usually camped near a running stream by open timber.



Much has been written about the fierce, ruthless raids by the Comanche against Spanish, Mexican, and white settlers, so I won't go into much detail here. Suffice to say that for 150 years they ruled the Southern Plains, which began in Nebraska and extended down to Texas. Once part of the Shoshone, the Comanche broke away from them and moved south. To get a foothold on the Southern Plains and claim new territory, they became skillful warriors and attacked anyone in the area (red or white).Among the Indians they attacked with relentless vigor were the Navajo, Pueblo and Apache. In 1838, they attacked the Pueblo in Santa Fe so badly that the 'handful of survivors' abandoned their village. As early as 1744, they attacked towns and ranches on the Rio Grande frontier, killing anyone who tried to defend themselves whilst stealing thousands of horses, mules, cattle, and (at that time) predominately Mexican children. This practice became their modus operandi. Without doubt, they had zero tolerance for anyone who settled on the land they ruled, but more often than not a primary motivation for their raids was stealing horses.


George Catlin [pictured] (1796-1872), author, extensive traveler, and American painter who specialized in paintings of Native Americans in the American West, described the Comanche as follows: "In their movements they are heavy and ungraceful; and on their feet one of the most unattractive and slovenly-looking races of Indians I have ever seen; but the moment they mount their horses; they seem at once metamorphosed, and surprise the spectator with the ease and grace of their movements."



The Comanche were, without question, the legendary master horsemen of the American West. They had horses when they migrated to the Southern Plains, using them to raid New Mexico in 1705. In a relatively short period of time, through capture and primarily horse-stealing raids from the Texans and Mexicans, during the first half of the 19th century, the Comanche became the richest Indians of the American West. Horses were the most valuable property a Comanche could own, enabling him to hunt the buffalo, go long distances to raid, fight in battle, and barter for trade.



Each Comanche warrior had a 'favorite' horse and set that horse above the total number of his herd. Often given a personal name, the 'favorite' was kept close to the tee-pee, while the rest of the herd grazed elsewhere. A Comanche named Post Oak Jim further elaborated on the importance of a 'favorite' horse by saying, "Some men loved their favorite horses more than they loved their wives.” Should someone kill a man's 'favorite' horse, it was considered the same as murder, and the owner could seek retaliation by killing people in revenge. In fact, it was customary to kill a warrior's personal riding horses on his grave when he died; however, the 'favorite' was often bequeathed to a friend.

A prized horse among the Comanche was the Mustang, and wild herds of them roamed free across the Southern Plains. In addition to being small, agile and fast, the Mustang had amazing eyesight and such an alert intelligence they signaled danger before their rider knew it existed. The Comanche had several techniques for capturing wild Mustangs. They might drive them into a specially built corral that had only one exit. With high stockade-type walls made of blackjack posts, brush and tree limbs were assembled so high and thick on the outside of the walls that the horses could not see through or jump over them. Another method (and one I shudder to mention) was called 'creasing'. Done only by an expert marksman, a shot would be fired through the muscle part of the horse's neck above the vertebrae. If the marksman hit the exact spot, the horse dropped to the ground temporarily paralyzed for 2-3 minutes, This enabled the Comanche to rope and tie the Mustang before it recovered. Research on this particular method said that once the wound healed, the horse had no lingering affects whatsoever. A much kinder means of capture occurred after a stallion drove young males from their herd, The Comanche would, in turn, entice and capture these young males by using gentle, older mares as a lure.



Of course, catching the wild horses was one thing. Training them was another matter and involved a great deal of effort and skill. A method used to break particularly strong-willed wild horses was to establish dominance over the animal. The Comanche warrior would choke the wild horse into exhaustion, pull it to the ground, and assert their dominance over the animal by blowing their breath into the horse's nostrils. Needless to say, although the Comanche loved the challenge of capturing a wild Mustang, they preferred stealing. Although they did do raids for no other purpose than to destroy their enemy and take their scalps, more often than not they wanted horses and other plunder. Ironically, despite how hard it was to capture and tame a wild Mustang, stealing horses was more prestigious for the Comanche because it also involved fighting an enemy as well as skill.

Comanche horses were never shod. However, if a man’s ‘favorite horse’ was tender footed, he would be fitted with a rawhide boot soaked in water and tied over the sore hoofs. Meanwhile, other riding horses were “walked back and forth near the heat and smoke of a fire” to toughen their hoofs.

To further illustrate how much the Comanche loved and valued horses, a onetime captive of the Comanche reported that despite having an extremely limited vocabulary they had developed words to describe different horses. A brown horse was dupsik’uma, a reddish brown horse was ekakoma, and a black horse was du uk’uma. They had words for every color imaginable, and their horse vocabulary went beyond just the color of the animal's body. For example, although a yellow horse was called ohaesi, a yellow horse with a black mane and tail was called dunnia.



Much as they valued each horse they owned, a Comanche warrior would never ride a mare, especially into battle. Mares were for children and women. The ability to ride a horse was important to every Comanche, and each person (including children) had their own horse. The first thing a Comanche child learned to do was ride. As infants they were strapped to their mother's back while she rode. Once able to walk, they were tied onto their mother's horse. Both boys and girls were taught to ride without a saddle, and girls also rode astride. By the age of four or five, they stopped using ponies and were given older, gentle mares. Understandably, it was essential for a Comanche boy to be a skilled rider and they underwent rigorous training from an early age. Each young boy was required to do daily drills that might be expected of a trick rider. One such drill included the young boy picking up objects off the ground while riding his mount at full speed. Small, light objects were initially used. Eventually, as the boy became older and stronger, the size and weight of the object increased until, if needed, he could pick up a heavy body on the ground and swing it across his horse. This ability was of great importance to the Comanche because it was considered a sacred duty to rescue any fallen warrior and not leave their body behind to be mutilated and desecrated by the enemy. As a result, every Comanche warrior was expected to be trained to perform this duty.



In battle, a Comanche warrior used his mount like a shield. Imagine the sight of a Comanche speeding toward its enemy, shooting arrows from beneath their horse's neck and having nothing but a leg hooked over the backbone of his mount. The key to performing this heart-stopping ability started in those daily drills as a boy. The warrior would use a loop of rope braided into his horse’s mane. He would then slip the loop over his head and under his outside arm, affording him the freedom to cling to the side of his horse and have both hands free for shooting or picking up heavy objects while also riding at incredible speed.

The details of the Comanche knowledge about and relationship to the horse is amazing. They were experts at breeding horses and, contrary to how some of their methods sound today, took great care of their animals. During the 19th century, T.A. Dodge of the United States Army once wrote that the Comanche "knows more about horses and horse breeding than any other Indian”. Dodge added the Comanche also was “far less cruel to his beasts, and though he begins to use them as yearlings, the ponies often last through many years.”

Although the Comanche were one of the most violent group of Indians in the American West, terrorizing, capturing, and killing countless pioneers as well as other Indian tribes, their tyranny over the Southern Plains finally ended in 1875. With their prized horses either captured or destroyed, the buffalo on the road to possible extinction, and their tee-pees burned, the last small band of a starving people surrendered at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. What happened after that is another story, but what cannot be denied is their remarkable reputation of superb nomadic horsemanship that was, ironically, copied by others including the United States Army and the Texas Rangers.

In closing, to substantiate the physical description earlier provided by artist George Catlin, a German scientist and world traveler named Baldwin Mollhausen visited the Southern plains in 1853. Here is his eye-witness account of the Comanche: “Indeed, he makes an awkward figure enough on foot, though he is no sooner mounted than he is transformed; and when with no other aid than that of the rein and heavy whip, he makes his horse perform the most incredible feats.”

Thanks for taking the time to visit today and allowing me to share some of what I have learned about the Comanche doing research for my upcoming book, Spirit of the Wind. ~ AKB

Now Available



Sources:
The Comanche: Lords of the South Plains – by Ernest Wallace and E. Adamson Hoebel;
University of Oklahoma Press (1952, 1986)

Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751-1845 - by Stanley Noyes
University of New Mexico Press (1994)

Empire of the Summer Moon - by SC Gwynne
Simon & Schuster, Inc, (2010)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

KANE'S CHANCE by CHERYL PIERSON


I started to write a short story several months back that turned into a novella. I wrote the novella and realized I wasn’t done with the story…so I wrote two more. These were my “Kane” trilogy—Kane’s Redemption, Kane’s Promise and Kane’s Destiny. These stories really wouldn’t be classified as a “romance” story. There’s no sex, not really even any spoken words of love between Jacobi Kane and his love interest, Laura, who later becomes his wife.

I did this on purpose, since the stories are told from the point of view of a young boy. That stuff would be too mushy for him to think about for too long. No, these stories are more action oriented, and being told from the first person viewpoint, it’s necessary to keep a high level of feeling to the forefront.

Will Green is the young boy who tells the stories. In KANE’S REDEMPTION, we meet him at the age of 9, almost 10. His parents and older sister have just been murdered by the Apache, and he has been kidnapped as they torch his home. But a few days later, just as he’s given up hope, a mysterious man walks right into the Apache camp and rescues him. Jacobi Kane has a mysterious past that he isn’t too keen on discussing with Will, though Will senses a kind of kinship between the two of them as they travel toward Fort Worth and safety. Kane harbors a terrible secret that might force Will’s hero worship of him to turn quickly to hatred…or of understanding, that Kane is a man who does what he must. But will that realization be enough, and is Will mature enough to come to grips with what Kane had to do?

In KANE’S PROMISE, Will continues to learn more about Jacobi Kane’s past when a group of law officers seek Kane’s help in capturing some of the same Apache Indian band that killed Will’s family. Kane resists going because he is now re-married, with a new baby on the way and tells the lawmen he’s turned in his badge for good—years ago. But a promise he made in the past keeps him hungry for vengeance, and his new wife urges him to go and see an end to it all. Of course, Will is not going to be left behind. Jacobi might need him!



KANE’S DESTINY wraps up the trilogy with a surprise visit from a man Will had never expected to see—his ship building magnate grandfather, from Boston, Robert Green. His grandfather first tries to intimidate him into returning to Boston with him, then falls back on honesty only when he must to convince Will to come back. Will vehemently refuses, but when he hears two of his grandfather’s men planning to murder his grandfather, he knows he has to go at least part of the way—to the first stop, back where it all started—the little burned out cabin where his family was murdered over two years past. Jacobi is out there, trailing them for protection, unseen and silent, but then Will learns a secret that makes his blood run cold. A man that Jacobi thought of as a friend is also caught up in the plot—but Jacobi doesn’t know the tide has turned. He’s in as much danger as Will and his grandfather are.

This is just a short bit about each story, but the big news is, now you can get all three stories under one cover, KANE’S CHANCE! With a little bit of editing and changing here and there for “flow”, these stories are all combined into one novel now. This book is loved by young and old alike, a great YA novel for boys (and girls!), but also something adults enjoy as well. I loved every minute of writing these adventures of Will Green and Jacobi Kane, and I have a feeling I’m not done yet.

Karen M. Nutt did all my wonderful covers, and she came through again for KANE’S CHANCE. I’m giving away one digital copy of KANE’S CHANCE today to a commenter, so please comment and remember to leave your contact info!

Here’s an excerpt from KANE’S CHANCE. Thirteen-year-old Will and his grandfather are having a meeting of the minds as they travel up to Indian Territory from Fort Worth. Surrounded by men who want to kill both of them, they find themselves at odds in this conversation where Will tells his grandfather some things about himself that his grandfather didn’t know.

I had learned a lot from Jacobi. And by the way my grandfather looked away and fell silent, I knew there was a mighty big hole in the story somewhere.

“What is it you’re not tellin’ me, old man?” My voice was strong but quiet. I wasn’t sure if this was some kind of family secret or somethin’ he didn’t want Jack Wheeler, riding a few paces behind us, to hear.

He gave me a sharp look. “You may call me Grandfather, William. There’s no need for disrespect.”

“No need to tell half the story, either.”

At first, he looked at me from under his eyebrows like he’d like to take a strap to me. But I looked right back at him. Finally, he nodded and glanced away.

“I’ve been so desperate to find you because…you’re my only living heir. I built a ship building dynasty for my family, Will, and there’s no one left but you.” He cursed as the wagon hit a hole and jolted him sharply.

“My sister married a man, Josiah Compton, whose wife had died. He brought two sons to the marriage, but he and Margaret never had any children together. The boys are men, now, of course. George, the eldest, is a pastor. But Ben, the younger of them, is quite a wastrel. He has squandered his inheritance and is looking for more. If you weren’t…alive….well—everything would fall to the two of them. And though George is not the type to seek gain, Ben is quite a different story.

“Ben knows I won’t be around much longer. But you will always be a threat, Will. I’m afraid this is going to end badly for one of you.”

I thought about what he’d told me. It seemed like maybe he needed me to say somethin’. It bolstered my confidence to know that somewhere out there, Jacobi was ridin’ along easy, keepin’ a eye out on us. Especially, now that I’d learned this part of the story.

I looked at him straight in the face. “I’ll tell you one thing. It ain’t gonna be me that ends up dead.”

“I didn’t say that—”

“It’s what you meant though, ain’t it? When there’s a pile of money to be had, somebody’s always worried it’ll get taken away from ‘em. Even if he knows I don’t want it, he’ll be worried about it. I’ve killed before. I’ll do it again, if need be.”

His expression turned to one of shock. I went on with what I was saying. “Ain’t nobody gonna take my life over somethin’ I don’t even want.”

He studied me openly, as if he were trying to decide what he should say. I saved him the trouble.

“I know you’re wonderin’ about it, so I’ll tell you.” And I did just that, from start to finish, from the day Papa and I had been out working together and seen the Apaches ride up all the way through when Jacobi had rescued me and we’d ridden out of the Apache camp together.

“We rode as long as we could, until I fell off the horse. Then Jacobi picked me up and we rode some more. When Red Eagle caught up to us, Jacobi and him fought.” My throat dried up just thinkin’ about how I’d felt to see Red Eagle and Jacobi locked close together, fighting with everything they had, and knowin’ one of ‘em was gonna end up dead.

“I killed Red Eagle. Shot him dead.”

Grandfather was quiet.

“I ain’t sorry for it, either. It felt good. Every time I think about what he did to Papa and Mama, I know it was the right thing. But mainly it was right because he was so dang pure evil.”

FOR KANE’S CHANCE and all my other work, check BARNES & NOBLE and AMAZON. Here’s the AMAZON link to my author page.
https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson


Sunday, May 26, 2013

EMILY, THE YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS



How many times have you heard the song “The Yellow Rose of Texas?” Since I grew up in and still live in Texas, that term “yellow rose” did not sink in until I was an adult and learned it referred to a woman who was a quadroon, a term I always thought silly. Quadroon means a person who has one Negro grandparent and three Caucasian grandparents. In our society of blended ethnic and racial bloodlines, these sorts of racial descriptions should have long ago lost their usage and meaning. But I digress.



The Yellow Rose of Texas was an attractive woman supposedly named Emily Morgan. In reality, her name was Emily West. Many assumed, due to her being a quadroon, that she was James Morgan’s slave and called her Emily Morgan. She helped win the Battle of San Jacinto, which resulted in the Texas army’s victory over Santa Anna. This created the Republic of Texas, a separate nation until it joined the United States in 1845. I think she was a heroine, a woman who turned forced servitude/prostitution into an opportunity to fight her oppressor and defend her adopted family.

She was born Emily West around 1816 in New Haven, Connecticut, but moved to New York. She was a free woman and signed a contract with agent James Morgan in New York City on October 25, 1835, to work a year as housekeeper at the New Washington Association's hotel, Morgan's Point, Texas. Morgan was to pay her $100 a year and provide her transportation to Galveston Bay on board the company's schooner, scheduled to leave with thirteen artisans and laborers in November. She arrived in Texas in December on board the same vessel as Emily de Zavala and her children. At the mouth of the San Jacinto River, Morgan laid out the town of New Washington. Morgan was away building a fortification to defend Galveston from Santa Anna when the dictator arrived at New Washington.

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
The Little Napoleon
Due to lack of records, there is a lot of speculation on the actual facts. Here’s the consensus: General Santa Anna saw a beautiful mulatto woman helping load supplies at the dock to help Colonel Morgan’s family join him at Galveston. Santa Anna, the “little Napoleon” womanizing dictator, decided that Emily Morgan was to become his new “personal maid.” Soon twenty-year-old Emily occupied his three-room, candy-striped tent. But the Mexican dictator had chosen/forced the wrong woman. Emily was a Texian sympathizer.

Santa Anna ordered a slave named Turner, whom he had taken at the same time he acquired Emily, to perform a reconnaissance of the Texian army. Before Turner and his escort of soldiers left on their mission, Emily secretly had a word with him. Since Morgan kept his family apprised of Texian activity, Emily knew where Houston was camped. She also knew Turner would be sympathetic to the Texians. She disclosed Houston’s location and instructed Turner to let him know the Mexican army was in pursuit. Through guile and good horsemanship, Turner was able to pass on Emily’s warning. In addition, he fed Santa Anna false information about Houston’s location.

On April 21, 1836, all was quiet in the Mexican camp. Santa Anna was at his tent. Inside were a piano, silverware, china, food, and chests of opium to feed the dictator’s addiction. The soldiers were having a siesta with limited guards on duty. By the time the Texian soldiers arrived, Santa Anna had retired into his tent with Emily. At the first sign of gunfire, the dictator rushed out and stumbled over cases of champagne stacked at the entrance. Clad only in silk drawers and red slippers, Santa Anna could not restore order among his troops. He wrapped himself in a bed sheet, grabbed a box of chocolates and a gourd of water, and jumped on a horse to escape. He was caught the next day.

Santa Anna's surrender

After the Battle of San Jacinto, a member of the victorious Texian army escorted Emily Morgan back to New Washington. She told Colonel Morgan of the victory. He later learned of the importance she had played in the event. He immediately released her from indenture and it is rumored he bought her a house in a community of free blacks in Houston. Later, she returned to New York and faded into oblivion. (I wonder what happened to Mr. Turner, the slave who helped.)

Folklore picked up on Emily’s heroics. Eventually, Mexican historians admitted to Santa Anna’s “quadroon mistress” during the Texas campaign. William Bollaert, an Englishman who visited Texas several times and was an acquaintance of the Morgans, kept a diary of his travels and recorded Emily’s actions. The diary was not made public until 1902. By then the Yellow Rose of Texas had already become established in Texas lore.




Emily’s story inspired “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” one of the best known songs about Texas. In 1861, Texas Confederates marched off to war singing this song. In 1936 a concert arrangement was offered by David W. Guion for the Texas Centennial (and dedicated to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ordered a White House performance). In 1955 Mitch Miller recorded an arrangement for Columbia Records that made the song popular with Americans. The lyrics were altered from the original Negro spiritual to the more politically correct version of today. A 1949 movie “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” starred John Wayne and Joanne Dru. As long as there is a Texas, and as long as the melody of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” lingers, Emily Morgan and her part in the short-lived battle on April 21, 1836 will be remembered.



There’s a yellow rose in Texas, that I am going to see,
Nobody else could miss her, not half as much as me
She cried so when I left her it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, we nevermore will part.
Chorus
She’s the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew
You may talk about your Clementine and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only one for me.

When the Rio Grande is flowing, the starry skies are bright,
She walks along the river in the quiet summer night:
She thinks if I remember, when we parted long ago,
I promised to come back again, and not to leave her so.
Chorus

Oh now I’m going to find her, for my heart is full of woe,
And we’ll sing the songs together, that we sung so long ago
We’ll play the banjo gaily, and we’ll sing the songs of yore,
And the Yellow Rose of Texas shall be mine forevermore.
Chorus


Thanks to FROM ANGELS TO HELLCATS: LEGENDARY TEXAS WOMEN 1836 TO 1880 by Don Blevins for part of the above information.
Wikipedia
Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas online.   




Would you become a mail-order bride?

Tabitha Masterson is certain whatever awaits her in Radford Springs, Texas will be better than what her brother and that awful William have in mind in Boston. After her father’s death, her brother has become a tyrant. She escapes to start her new life in Texas, but trouble can’t be far behind. She believes if she’s married when trouble arrives, she’ll be safe. But her fiancĂ© is reluctant to accept her as a substitute for the mail-order bride he’d courted.


Bear Baldwin is crushed when he receives a wire notifying him that the woman with whom he has corresponded for almost a year has passed him off to her friend.  Do the two women think he’s like an old shirt to be handed down? His mother urges him to give the substitute fiancĂ©e a chance, but his pride is stung and he hasn’t decided.

Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D0C3MNC

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 24, 2013

THE LAW WEST OF THE PECOS-JUDGE ROY BEAN

By Celia Yeary


JUDGE ROY BEAN

Judge Roy Bean, the self-appointed “Law West of the Pecos”, became a saloonkeeper and Justice of the Peace on the Rio Grande in a desolate stretch of the Chihuahua Desert of SW Texas. When the Texas Rangers weren’t around to stop him, he brazenly held court.
PECOS RIVER, TEXAS/MEXICO BORDER
 
 
SALOON ON PECOS RIVER, TEXAS SIDE
 
Roy Bean found himself in trouble most of his life from Texas to California. He killed, stole, cheated, swindled, and abused his wife.

Young women considered Bean handsome, and often competed for his attention. In San Diego, a Scotsman named Collins challenged Bean to a pistol shooting match on horseback. He allowed Bean to choose the target, and Roy Bean decided they would shoot at each other. Bean shot Collins in the arm. The sheriff arrested both men and charged them with attempted murder. During the two months in jail, Bean received many gifts of flowers, food, wine, and cigars from the ladies of San Diego. The last gift included knives encased in tamales. He used the knives to dig through the cell wall.   

In Southwest Texas by the Rio Grande, the small town of Langtry was established as a construction junction from east and west during the building of the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway. Two origins of the town’s name are under dispute. One claim says the town was named for a civil engineer named Langtry who directed a group of Chinese laborers in the railroad construction.
LILLIE (LILY) LANGTRY
The other more popular and accepted claim is that Judge Roy Bean,
an eccentric, colorful character, insisted he named the town after his idol,
English actress Lillie Langtry, the “Jersey Lily.”
THE SALOON TODAY, OPEN
FOR VISITORS
 
 
Today, a Texas Visitor’s Center sits next to the preserved
150-year-old-saloon  in Langtry, Texas.
The center is well maintained, with clean restrooms,
a snack area, landscaping, and a gift shop.
~~*~~*~~
NEWEST RELEASE-contemporary Western novella-TRUCK STOP PARADISE

He stood near the door next to the rack that held beef jerky and salted peanuts. He wore the same faded, ragged-at-the-heels, worn-at-the-knees Levis, and the familiar black felt Resistol with the braided leather around the hatband. Oh, yeah, and beat-up, cowhide leather boots. Black longish hair hung down his neck and mirrored sunglasses sat firmly in place on his narrow chiseled nose. Uh-huh. That was him, all right, as gorgeous as ever.

"Hey, Chad. Who told you I was here?"

"Nobody."

Shrugging, she stopped one foot in front of him, deliberately holding him against the wall. She remembered he was claustrophobic and didn't like to be crowded, but he was fine if he was the one doing the crowding.

She laughed a little and studied her nails. When she looked up, he'd clenched his right jaw so hard, he had a little red spot there. "Oh, I think someone did. You're looking for me. Why don't you just own up to it and quit beatin' around the bush?"

Shaking his head, he cleared his throat and tried to move sideways, but the rack of beef jerky was in his way. "Okay, Miss-Know-It-All, what do you think?"

Deciding to free him from the wall, she stepped toward the door but stopped with her forearm on the door handle. "Want to move outside? I have a question or two."

He made a grunting sound in his throat. "So do I."
**********
 
99CENTS on Amazon:

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

WELCOME GUEST-Linda Carroll-Bradd!

By Linda Carroll-Bradd
I appreciate the opportunity to share some background about my historical romance novella, Dreams of Gold, a release from The Wild Rose Press.

One of the reasons I chose Wyoming for the setting of Dreams of Gold is because it became known as the equality state. Even before the territory became a state, legislation was passed in 1869 that granted women the right to vote, serve on juries, and hold elected office. This was the first time a government had granted “female suffrage” and became law upon Governor A.J. Campbell’s signature on December 10, 1869. Within three months, Ester Hobart Morris had been appointed justice of the peace in South Pass City (a site of gold strikes). In September 1870 in Laramie, Mrs. Louisa Swain was the first woman to cast a vote for equal suffrage.

These facts were important because my heroine, Ciara Morrissey, was raised in the east, Massachusetts in particular. Living in an area of higher population gave her access to a wider number of opportunities—ways to support herself, as well as gatherings and meetings that educated and informed. Raised by a liberal-minded mother, Ciara had attended both anti-slavery and suffrage meetings since she was a child. Therefore, she arrived in Wyoming Territory in 1871 with expectations on how to conduct her business that were a bit more open-minded than the hometown sheriff, Quinn Riley, was used to. And the sparks flew…

BLURB:   
In 1871, Easterner Ciara Morrissey travels west to honor a sacred promise to her mother and locate her fortune-seeking father. Caretaker to her grandparents and mother until their deaths has created a thirst in Ciara to see the wider world.
Sheriff Quinn Riley hunts the Irish charlatan who swindled half of Bull City, Wyoming’s residents. He’ll stick close to the newly arrived opinionated woman. Within only hours, easterner Ciara Morrissey upsets the townspeople by making inquires about his prime suspect. He’s duty-bound to keep her safe but being near the green-eyed beauty sets off a stampede in his heart.

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TWRP   http://bit.ly/12TzIzf

EXCERPT:
More evidence she was a stranger to the wild circumstances of the western frontier. Anticipation of organizing the chase flitted through him. “Did they use names? Or speak to their horses?” At her head shake, he fought back the urgency rising in his chest. “Anything that might provide a clue?”

“We heard shots, Sheriff, and Mr. McGinnis shouted for us to do what we were told. A man rode up to the window on each side, demanding our money and jewels.” A dainty shoulder lifted in a shrug. “That’s when Miss Fairchild screamed her virtue was about to be stolen and swooned, landing in my lap.” Green eyes danced, and a high-pitched giggle escaped. “Frankly, I doubt the robbers planned on lifting anyone’s skirts.” Eyes widening, she clapped a hand over her mouth and shook her head.

Damn. Quinn had seen witnesses suddenly realize the danger they’d been in and that’s when hysterics set in. Lord, he could not abide a crying woman. “Did you notice any detail about their saddles or markings on their faces that stood out?”

Her brows scrunched low, and she squared her shoulders, pulling her jacket snug across her breasts. “I feared for my very life, sir, and you think I should have noticed their saddles?” She inhaled deeply, and then her whole body stilled. “Yes, I do remember something about the saddles.”

He watched the movement of her chest—in particular, how the buttons strained their closures. The rhythm of his heartbeat kicked up and a bead of sweat trickled on his forehead. Lifting his gaze to her face, he leaned forward, forcing himself to concentrate on what she might share. “What’s that?”

“Each man sat in one.” Her body rigid, she raised the mug to her lips and waited, an eyebrow arched high.

BIO:
As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.

Places to find Linda on the web:
www.lindacarroll-bradd.com




PLEASE NOTE:
Those who leave a comment here or on my blog (http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com) by May 24th will be eligible for a drawing of a title from my backlist. Be sure to include your email address so I have a way to contact you.

 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Panthers in Texas?

 
Cougar (panther, painter)
Fort Worth, Texas, where I live, is often called the Panther City. This nickname traces back to the Civil War. When army troops were called away to fight in the war, settlers became vulnerable to attack by Comanche and Kiowa raiders. As a result, many Fort Worth residents fled eastward. In their absence, panthers supposedly slept in the deserted streets. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a good yarn.

When I say panthers, I don’t mean the big black cats native to South American jungles. I mean cougars, also known as pumas, mountain lions or catamounts. In the old days they were often called panthers or painters, and they roamed all over Texas. Now, they’re found mainly in the mountainous deserts, including Big Ben National Park, and on the brushy Rio Grande Planes bordering the southwestern part of the state.

Leopard (el tigre)
In centuries past, Texas was home to the jaguar, the third largest cat in the world. Called el tigre in Mexico, this beautiful spotted cat inhabited the southern and eastern portions of Texas, but there have been no proven sightings since the turn of the 20th century.

Ocelots also once ranged all over the dense brush thickets of south Texas and were occasionally seen in the north and central parts of the state. Now they’re found only in a few brushy patches on the Rio Grande Plains. Likewise the small, dark gray or brown jaguarundi. Margays, small spotted cats, are extinct in Texas, but fossil evidence shows they once roamed within our southern borders. They’re now found only in tropical forests.
 

Bobcat
Bobcats are the most common wild felines in Texas. Short-tailed, rusty-brown or gray, with dark splotches and bars, they are as large as a medium-sized dog. Preferring rocky areas or brushy thickets for cover, bobcats have adapted to human intrusion in their habitat and still range all over the state. Like most cats, they are shy of humans and do their hunting mainly at night. They eat mostly ground squirrels, wood rats, mice and rabbits, but will sometimes prey upon domestic sheep, goats and poultry. Bobcats are occasionally seen in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where I live, mainly on the outskirts. My daughter has a cat that's an offspring of a bobcat and a domestic cat. He's very shy and eats like a little pig!

Now, let’s get back to cougars, aka panthers. These shy, solitary cats are nocturnal hunters of deer, wild hogs, rabbits and other small prey. However, they do occasionally kill livestock. In Dashing Irish, book two in my Texas Devlins series, Tye Devlin tangles with an angry panther while on a cattle drive to Kansas. Delayed by the flooded Red River, the herd is being held, waiting for the river to go down before crossing into Indian Territory (Oklahoma.) Nearby flows a small stream called Panther Creek (a real place) where panthers are said to lurk. Tye is riding night guard.
 
 Here’s an excerpt from his encounter:

The panther had screamed a couple times earlier, but he’d sounded farther away. He was getting too close for comfort now. Along with the other night guards, Tye attempted to calm the cattle, not an easy task when he was on edge himself.

Glancing at the stars, he judged it nearly time to head for his bedroll. Three nights of double guard duty had left him dog tired, but the panther’s presence overrode his need for sleep.

He stiffened in his saddle when another blood-curdling cry rang out, sounding dangerously close. Dozens of cattle scrambled to their feet, almost ready to run.

“Stop your racket, ye devil,” Tye muttered. Figuring he was closer to the troublemaker than anyone else, he made a quick decision. Not giving himself time to reconsider, he swung the grulla toward where he thought the shriek had come from, certain the panther wouldn’t attack him. He’d seen the creatures down along the Nueces and back in Colorado. They must roam all over the West. Lions, some miners called them. Despite their fearsome cry, they usually ran off when a man approached.

He’d drawn near to a rocky outcrop when a long, shadowy shape detached itself from the rocks and took off running with a snarl. Startled for a second, Tye kneed his horse after the predator to make sure it kept going. Oddly, the cat appeared to limp, but it still outran them for a good ways. Then it stumbled to a halt, whirled around and shrieked.

The grulla stopped so short, Tye nearly catapulted over its head. Before he could regain his balance, the horse neighed in terror and reared. Losing his grip, Tye tumbled from the saddle and hit the ground hard, knocking the breath out of him. He lay there for a few seconds, fighting to breathe while the horse galloped off. Then he started to sit up . . . and froze.

Not ten feet away, he saw the dark form of the panther. Ears laid back, fangs bared and eyes glittering in the moonlight, the cat crouched, ready to spring. Tye grabbed for his gun, but stopped, remembering the nearby herd. A gunshot might start a stampede. Reaching for his knife instead, he barely had time to draw it from his boot before the panther was on him.

The snarling brute instantly went for his throat. Tye clamped his free hand around the beast’s own throat to hold it off. As he did, razor-sharp claws raked his shoulders. Hissing in pain, he attempted to plunge his knife into the cat’s heart, but oaken ribs deflected the blow. All he did was make the demon madder.

Growling, the panther tried to twist free of his hold on its neck. A hind foot clawed his right thigh; front talons flayed his chest. Crying out, Tye shifted his grip and desperately forced the animal’s head back.

Learn how this life and death battle ends in Dashing Irish.


Amazon: Dashing Irish                                Barnes & Noble: Dashing Irish

Other books in this series available on Amazon and B&N:

Darlin' Irish -- Texas Devlins, Jessie's Story
Dearest Irish -- Texas Devlins, Rose's Story

White Witch -- Texas Devlins Origins (a prequel novella)

Saturday, May 18, 2013



Sarah McNeal, author of  westerns, paranormal & time travel and contemporary romances

The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp
All Pictures from Wickapedia

Although I didn’t get to see it often, I remember a TV western about Wyatt Earp. In the series, Earp was always a hero, unattached and handsome. I believe the theme song included the words “Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, brave, courageous and true.” But was he all those things? Later, there were several movies about him and my favorite was Tombstone. In the movie he fought against a gang known as the ‘cowboys’, had a famous friend named Doc Holliday, a wife who died, Urilla Sutherland, a girlfriend named Mattie who reportedly was a drug addict and then met his true love, Josephine Sarah Marcus who was a beautiful Jewish actress. He also worked as a buffalo skinner, owned a mine, owned a saloon and worked as a lawman. At the end of the movie, we saw his visit to Alaska in his later years and his connection to cowboy actor, William S. Hart. So, how much of the movie was fiction and how much was fact? Well, here are the facts:
Wyatt and his mother (wickapedia)
Wyatt at age 19  He was quite the handsome hunk
 

Wyatt Earp only married once and that was his wife, Urilla Sutherland. She died in childbirth and Wyatt never had any other children. Both Mattie and Josephine were common law wives. Mattie was addicted to laudanum and later, committed suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum in Arizona supposedly pinning for Wyatt. Josie really was Wyatt’s true love. They lived for a time in San Francisco so Josie could live close to her family. Josie stayed by his side for 43 years. Why they didn’t officially marry, I don’t know.
 

 
Wyatt's second wife, Mattie
 
Wyatt's True Love, Josephine
 

Wyatt’s jobs and adventures are so numerous it’s difficult to list them all. He had a reputation as a gun fighter, but did work as a lawman off and on for most of his life. Tombstone and the showdown at the OK Corral really happened. He had many friendships with well known people including Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, and William Hart who was a famous cowboy actor. Over his lifetime, Wyatt owned several saloons and the Golden Poppy Brothel above one of his saloons. He gambled and loved horse racing. He also was a buffalo skinner in his early years and, like so many in the gold rush era, mined for gold. He looked for gold while in Nome, Alaska with Josie. While in San Francisco he worked for law enforcement secretly chasing down criminals in Mexico. What a life.

He was an imposing figure at six foot tall and 170 pounds in a time when most men were about five foot six. One truth about his character surfaced about him frequently, that he was fearless. Although he owned several saloons, he rarely drank liquor. He sounds like a hero, even though he had his dark side.
Wyatt at age 75
 

Suffice it to say, Wyatt Earp lived a long and active life with many varied pursuits and adventures. He and Josie lived together for 43 years. Wyatt died of chronic cystitis which was most likely prostate cancer at the age of 85 in Los Angeles on January 13, 1929. He is buried in a Jewish cemetery beside his common law wife, Josie. His legacy is that we will always remember him for the fantastic and sometimes outrageous life he led and that he did it all so courageously.
Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California
Sarah McNeal may be found at the following places:
Fantasy and Dreams
also at Facebook and Twitter
HARMONICA JOE'S RELUCTANT BRIDE
time travel, paranormal, 1910 western
A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny. 
Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?
BUY LINKS:
FOR LOVE OF BANJO
WWI era western
Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.
Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past.  To earn the right to ask for Margaret O’Leary’s hand, he must find his father and make something of himself.
Margaret O’Leary has loved Banjo since she was ten years old but standing between her and Banjo is pride, Banjo’s mysterious father and the Great War.
Will either of them find happiness?  
BUY LINKS:
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/136814
Amazon.com: