Sunday, November 30, 2014

WE NEVER SLEEP - ALLAN PINKERTON AND THE PINKERTON NATIONAL DETECTIVE AGENCY

By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Long before Sherlock Holmes became a glimmer in the imagination of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, another Scotsman had achieved fame and fortune as a legendary detective and the founder of a national detective agency that became as famous for their skill as their slogan, “We Never Sleep”…not to mention the nickname that emerged based on their logo…the Private Eye.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland on 25 August 1819, Allan J. Pinkerton was the son of William Pinkerton and Isobel McQueen. William Pinkerton died when his son was eight years old—an event that resulted in grave poverty for the family and caused Allan to quit school and help support the family by working in a pattern-making shop. Eventually, as he grew older, Pinkerton found work as a cooper, but the plight of his widowed mother and the working class in general greatly influenced the mindset of Allan Pinkerton.

He became involved with the British Chartist Movement—a group of political and social reformists who believed the working class should have the same rights as everyone else, especially concerning the right to vote. Often considered radicals, Pinkerton’s involvement led to a warrant for his arrest. In 1842, after secretly marrying Joan Carfrae, Allan and his bride set sail for America. Then only 23 years old, he settled in Chicago, Illinois. He relocated to nearby Kane County and the town of Dundee in 1843, where he opened shop as a cooper.

Here is where what I like to consider one’s path of destiny appears. While minding his own business, cutting wood for his cooper business—on a deserted nearby island no less—Allan Pinkerton happened to come upon a gang of counterfeiters. The key information he provided the law helped lead to the gang’s capture. Before long, the young Pinkerton had played a key role in bringing other criminals to justice. It came as no surprise to locals when Allan J. Pinkerton was named Deputy Sheriff of Kane County in 1846. Having heard of his intellect, skill, and bravery, Cook County solicited his services. Pinkerton was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Cook County based in Chicago, and in 1849, he became the first detective in the city of Chicago.

Realizing the great need for other trained detectives, Pinkerton resigned from the police in 1850 and started his own detective agency with Edward Rucker, a Chicago attorney. Originally called the North-Western Police Agency, Pinkerton’s partnership with Rucker would end in 1851. He then joined forces with his brother, Robert, who had also formed a detective agency called Pinkerton & Co. With Allan on board, the company became known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and specialized in railroad theft cases.

Among the techniques invented by Pinkerton (and still used today) were secret surveillance, known as shadowing, and assuming a fictitious identity, better known as undercover work. In addition to running the business and training agents, Pinkerton always seemed to have an uncanny knack for being at the right place at the right time. In fact, his intelligence and skill for gleaning secret information became world-renowned when he thwarted an attempt to assassinate president-elect, Abraham Lincoln. Impressed by Pinkerton, President Lincoln hired the master detective and several of his agents as personal security during the Civil War. Agents also worked as Confederate sympathizes…and even soldiers. Pinkerton himself often went on many undercover spy missions.

[Pictured left: Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln, and Maj. Gen. George McClellan]

After the Civil War ended, Pinkerton returned to Chicago and detective work at the agency he co-owned with his brother. When Robert died in 1868, Allan ran the company alone, although his sons, William and Robert, started working with him. A year later, in 1869, Allan Pinkerton suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. As he struggled to regain his health, his sons and the sons of his deceased brother worked together to run the agency. Unfortunately, in-fighting and rivalry caused problems and the agency suffered, internally and financially. As best he could, Allan Pinkerton tried to bring order back to the business.

Throughout his life, Pinkerton admitted he was difficult to work for…and live with...but he strived to be just and honest. Without question, he was also a shrewd businessman. I think a perfect example of this is when disaster struck Chicago on 07October 1871, otherwise remembered the Great Fire.

For three days the fire raged. In the aftermath, among the businesses destroyed was the Pinkerton building and most of the agency’s records. Financial ruin and the fate of the agency threatened. On the work front, agents were being hired to prevent looting in a city under martial law. On the home front, the widow and children of his brother (and former partner) were homeless. When his sister-in-law asked Pinkerton for financial assistance, he encouraged her to return to Great Britain, offering to pay for the journey. Mrs. Alice Pinkerton and her sons accepted the offer. A benevolent gesture or shrewd business decision? One thing is certain. Allan Pinkerton was well aware he needed to focus on re-establishing his business and wanted no more in-fighting with relatives. The departure of Alice and her sons left Pinkerton and his sons with complete control of the agency.

Allan Pinkerton disliked failure of any kind, so much so that when a railroad contract ended because his agents had failed to capture outlaw Jesse James, Pinkerton continued to track Jesse at his own expense. One might say he became obsessed with capturing Jesse James. The animosity between Pinkerton and James escalated, especially on 05 Jan 1875. Though it is believed the tactic was authorized by his sons, Pinkerton agents tossed an iron torch inside a house where they believed Jesse was living. The act caused an explosion resulting in the arm of Jesse’s mother to be blown off. For the first time it was difficult for the public to tell the good guy from the bad guy. Needless to say, Jesse James wanted revenge and went to Chicago to kill Allan Pinkerton. According to history, Jesse (and his loaded gun) looked for Allan Pinkerton for four months. Jesse obviously didn’t take into account he was dealing with a former Union spy and perhaps the most skilled detective in the world at that time. Finally, Jesse gave up and left town.

Even without getting Jesse James, under the leadership of Allan Pinkerton, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency grew in stature and became not only the most famous detective agency in the United States, but world renowned. It was not unusual for other countries to seek the services of Allan Pinkerton and his agents. The agency was often hired by the US government to handle cases that are now assigned to the CIA, FBI and Secret Service. In fact, Pinkerton’s impressive techniques and efforts at uncovering military intelligence during the Civil War became a major contributing factor to the establishment of the United States Intelligence Service, today known as the Secret Service.

Pinkerton agents increased not only by reputation but in number, and were often considered an army unto themselves. Their services were so highly sought after throughout the United States, they were authorized to carry firearms wherever they went. At the height of the agency’s notoriety, it was well-known that Pinkerton employed more detectives than the standing army of the United States. To say the State of Ohio found this fact rather intimidating is an understatement; they actually outlawed the agency, fearing a company of that size and skill could be hired as a private army.

In the late 1870s, Allan Pinkerton’s health continued to deteriorate. Under the leadership of his two sons, the agency continued to experience criticism, primarily because agents had been retained to investigate and stop militant labor unions. When you remember that as a young man back in Scotland, Allan Pinkerton worked for the rights of workers and had himself been a Chartist, something doesn’t sound right about his agents fighting labor unions that were supposed to help mine workers. Yet, when criticized—particularly during the famous Molly Maguires movement in Pennsylvania—Pinkerton maintained his company was trying to help the workers fight oppressive, violent labor unions that used terrorism to get their demands met.

By the end of his life, Pinkerton’s attention was focused on creating a procedure that consolidated criminal information and photographs called the Rogues Gallery that would, in turn, be shared with other law enforcement agencies. In fact, when the FBI was established they used many of Allan Pinkerton’s procedures, including his ID database. Pinkerton also wrote 18 books, including The Spy of the Rebellion (1883), which detailed Lincoln’s 1861 journey to Washington.

Allan Pinkerton died in 1884; he was 64 years old. It was not until three years later in 1887 when the fictitious Sherlock Holmes made his brilliant debut in A Study in Scarlet, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In May 2000, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency donated an archive of “rare and once-secret files, photographs, drawings and documents on Jesse James, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, the Missouri Kid and Butch Cassidy” to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. In 2001, Pinkerton and Burns International merged, becoming part of the Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., “the largest security services provider in the world”.

On a personal note, I have always held a great fascination and appreciation for Pinkerton detectives. You see, my great-grandfather was a Pinkerton agent who worked for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, also known as the KATY. He was one of many undercover detectives who worked to prevent and/or stop train robberies. In fact, the handsome hero in my western historical romance, Whisper in the Wind, is a Pinkerton detective inspired by my ancestor.

Featured left is a photograph taken in the late 1870s of my handsome great-grandfather (seated) and his partner. [Note: This image is copyrighted by me, and cannot be reproduced or used without written authorization.] Years later, after leaving the Pinkertons, he would work as a detective for the Dallas Police Department.

If you are interested in the Pinkertons, check out the new television series 'The Pinkertons'. The television series takes place not long after the Civil War ended, and is an action-adventure series which "follows Allan PInkerton, his son, William, and America’s first female detective, Kate Warne, as they solve crimes throughout the “Wild West” of the 1860s.

Scots actor Angus Macfadyen (pictured) portrays Allan Pinkerton with brilliant perfection. And I really like the fact they have an intelligent female detective assigned to partner with Pinkerton's son, Will. Check your local listing for time, or visit the series' website to learn more: http://www.pinkertonstheseries.com.

As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope you found my post of interest. ~ AKB

Sources:
Thirty Years A Detective by Allan Pinkerton
Allan Pinkerton: The First Private Eye by James Mackay
Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations

Friday, November 28, 2014

TWO NEW PRP CHRISTMAS ANTHOLOGIES AND GIVEAWAYS! by Cheryl Pierson


Hey everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday! I have some exciting news to announce--We've just released two new Christmas anthologies at Prairie Rose Publications! Present for a Cowboy is our sweet/sensual collection, and Wild Texas Christmas is our sensual/spicy anthology. They're both chock full of wonderful stories and just perfect for this busy holiday time.



PRESENT FOR A COWBOY
Christmas is on the way and our western heroines are in search of the perfect PRESENT FOR A COWBOY!

Livia J. Washburn’s TINSELTOWN kicks off this exciting holiday collection. Set in the “Roaring ’20’s” in Hollywood, western movie actor Pecos must rescue a young woman in danger—and finds love in the bargain. The rescue of a young, abused boy in Gail L. Jenner’s JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS opens the door to love for a young woman and a loner who has sworn off relationships. Linda Carroll-Bradd’s CLARI’S HERO features a man who views himself as anything but a hero—and a woman who shows him otherwise, and Lorrie Farrelly’s CHRISTMAS TREASURE is an unexpected gift that can’t be measured in gold. In Sarah J. McNeal’s story, a lonely widow’s perceived indiscretion may cost her and her cowboy their happiness WHEN LOVE COMES KNOCKING.

This sweet/sensual collection of wonderful Christmas stories has something for everyone!




WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS
Is Christmas wilder in Texas? It just might be! These cowboys and their ladies sure have their hands full—and Christmas brings them together to sort it all out!

Cheryl Pierson’s LUCK OF THE DRAW is the story of a handsome gambler and a beautiful witch. With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all! Can a lumber baron and a railroad heiress save a small Texas town? Kathleen Rice Adams pens some holiday magic in THE LAST THREE MILES. When dreams turn to vengeance for a young gun-handy woman, it takes the love of a marshal to convince THE KID IN BLACK that Christmas really is a time of miracles. In THE TEXAN WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS by Jacquie Rogers, a Texas cowhand is snowed in for Christmas in Idaho. When he becomes part of the town’s “Secret Christmas Angel” game, will he be able to part with his heart? A lady gambler and a con man find themselves in an unlikely situation that could save both of their hearts if they’re willing to trust one another in Kaye Spencer’s A GIFT OF CHRISTMAS HOPE.

This sensual/spicy collection of holiday tales is sure to warm your heart and bring smiles as big as Texas!

I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF EACH OF THESE ANTHOLOGIES TODAY SO BE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING!

Amazon buy links:

PRESENT FOR A COWBOY
http://www.amazon.com/Present-Cowboy-Livia-J-Washburn-ebook/dp/B00PZ8VKP6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1417142380&sr=1-1&keywords=Present+for+a+Cowboy

WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS
http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Texas-Christmas-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00PZ9EV38/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1417142438&sr=1-1&keywords=Wild+Texas+Christmas





Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THANKSGIVING AND SUKKOT (TABERNACLES) AND A BLESSING

By Mary Adair. Guest Author


Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I give thanks every day for my blessings, but to have a day set aside for thanks giving is truly special.  Knowing many  (if not all) Americans celebrate by remembering all the good things and wonderful people in their lives for which they are thankful adds to the festivity.

I decided to look into the roots of the celebration, and this is what I learned. According to some scholars, before coming to the new world, the Pilgrims lived for a decade among the Sephareic Jews in Holland.  Holland was considered a safe haven from religious persecution at the time.  

The Pilgrims, being devout Calvinist and Puritans considered themselves as “new Israel”. I can see where they likely learned that Sukkot commemorated Israel’s deliverance from the religious persecution in ancient Egypt and thought of it as a parallel to their own situation.



After they immigrated to the promised land of America, it is not surprising to me that the Pilgrims may have considered the festival of Sukkot when planning their own celebration. The Pilgrims considered their perilous journey to the new world as a type of exodus and wanted to associate their new celebration to the appropriate Biblical holiday.

It is interesting to me that the Jewish observance of their holiday always falls on Thursday and there is a special prayer of “Thanksgiving” before eating the meal.  It is also interesting to note that the Hebrew word for turkey is tarnegol hodu, literally “Indian chicken”.  Is it a happy coincidence that we customarily eat turkey on thanksgiving?




We all have times of ups and downs. We all have something and someone (probably more than one someone) to be thankful for. My Thanksgiving wish for all my friends and family is well expressed in this:

Cherokee Prayer Blessing

May the Warm Winds of Heaven Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit Bless all who enter there.
May your Moccasins Make happy tracks in many snows,
and may the Rainbow Always touch your shoulder. 



Mary Adair is the author of the Passion series: PASSION'S VISION, RAVEN'S PASSION, AND PASSION'S PRICE. These center around the struggles of a colonial Cherokee woman visionary and an emissary of the King of England. Those and others of Mary's titles are available on Amazon and other online vendors.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Photos courtesy Google commons

Monday, November 24, 2014

This and That about Thanksgiving




My favorite holiday is approaching fast. The gathering of friends and family to give thanks makes me look forward to Thanksgiving more than any other holiday. My current work in progress has had me doing a lot of research of American communities in the 1600’s, which as we all know is when the first Thanksgiving occurred—a three day feast of thankfulness hosted by the Pilgrims and a local tribe of Wampanoag. 

Although my family, and many others, goes for the ‘traditional’ turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, the first one is thought to have consisted of lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squash, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese. 

Due to the size and abundance of wild turkeys, the turkey became a Thanksgiving mainstay by the time President Lincoln issued his proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November as a national Thanksgiving holiday. Some historians claim Lincoln was also the first president to official pardon a turkey (his son’s pet turkey). 

During my recent research, I’ve discovered during the time of the first Thanksgiving, families usually ate two meals a day, morning and mid-afternoon, and certain religions forbid any work on the Sabbath including preparing meals. If there were no leftovers, the families fasted. Utensils were not overly plentiful. Families often had only a few spoons they shared, and most eating was done with their fingers.

A few turkey facts:
The average turkey purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
The heaviest turkey recorded was 86 pounds.
A mature turkey has approximately 3,500 feathers.
Turkey is the most popular ‘leftover’ food.

My husband and I belong to the National Wild Turkey Federation and attend their events regularly. Our
granddaughters look forward to attending the local benefit with us. The raffles and live and silent auctions means we usually come home with things we didn’t know we needed. Last year the little one in this picture won the kid’s pellet gun that was given away. It was much longer than she was tall. (Still is, she’s a tiny little girl.)

We all know Thanksgiving is followed by black Friday. I’ve been there done that, and will never do it again. It’s just not my cup of tea. I much prefer to stay home reflecting upon the wonderful gathering we’d experienced the day before.

I’m thankful for the life I live every day, but relish the one day I can celebrate the fact we live in a wonderful country, our freedom, our right to worship God, our family, friends, and all the obvious, bountiful, and even sometimes taken for granted things.

Blessings to each and every one of you during this wonderful holiday.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!




By: Peggy Henderson


With Christmas starting earlier every year at the retail stores (Christmas trees at Costco before Halloween, anyone?), Thanksgiving seems to have become the overlooked holiday.

Not at my house. I refuse to even begin to think about Christmas until the Monday after Thanksgiving. Black Friday? No. I stay home.  My teenage son looks forward to Thanksgiving more that he does Christmas. Why? The food, of course! He has been asking me for weeks if I was going to be cooking his favorites again this year. When I made an experimental apple pie a few weeks ago, he came home from school, inhaled a deep breath, and smiled. “Smells like Thanksgiving,” he said. “I can’t wait for Thanksgiving.”



Thanksgiving at our house isn’t a huge family gathering. We’re all pretty much spread out around the world, so it’s often just our immediate family. The last few years, it’s just been my husband, kids, and me. But I still put out the big spread and all the fixings – Turkey, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (ok, too sweet for me, but my husband wouldn’t be happy without it), green beans, mashed potatoes, and home-made cranberry sauce. And of course, pumpkin and apple pie for desert.


What could me more American, right? And I’m not even an American citizen. Growing up in Germany, we didn’t have Thanksgiving. I don’t have the memories of cinnamon and pumpkin spice, and sitting at a large family table. Apple pie, any kind of pie, was foreign to me. (I’m still more of a fan of cake than pie, but on Thanksgiving I make an exception)

One of the foods that absolutely can’t be absent from our Thanksgiving table is home-made cranberry sauce. The boys eat it like candy. I make a double batch than what the recipe calls for, because otherwise there wouldn’t be any left at dinner time. Here’s the recipe that I’ve been making for years:

1/2 pound fresh cranberries
fresh zest from two oranges
fresh zest from a lemon
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from the orange you just zested)
3 tbsp lemon juice (from the zested lemon)
1/2 cup sugar (I use a little less)
1 tspn vanilla extract (I like a bit more)
2 cups water
3 tbsp cornstarch

Put cranberries, orange/lemon zest, orange/lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat.Bring to a boil and cook until cranberries pop (about 10 minutes). Dissolve the cornstarch in the other 1/2 cup water and add to the saucepan. Reduce heat, and stir constantly until mixture thickens. Cool completely, and serve. The smells in the kitchen from this is wonderful!

When a reader asked me a few months ago if I would write another holiday story in my Yellowstone Romance Series, I immediately thought of Thanksgiving. I had already done a Christmas story, so this Thanksgiving was my logical choice this time around. I wanted to write a heartwarming story of family, while showcasing Thanksgiving in a setting when and where the national holiday of Thanksgiving wasn’t even known yet.

I hope my story will remind readers of feelings of home and family that Thanksgiving evokes, even as I have some fun with one of their favorite characters from the Yellowstone books. I had to re-read a lot about the customs and daily lives of the Sheepeater Indians for this story, and I found a couple of gems in my research that I simply couldn't pass up to include in the book. 


Here’s the blurb and a quick excerpt from my Thanksgiving short story, A Yellowstone Season of Giving

Yellowstone … Winter of 1850

As the days get short and the nights turn cold, and the season changes from fall to winter, Daniel and Aimee Osborne gather the family for their traditional Thanksgiving meal. It’s a time to reflect on the year’s good fortunes, and to reminisce about days gone by.
Join them around the hearth for the holiday, as memories are shared, and a story is retold of how one young hunter won favor with the woman of his heart during a past season of giving.


The moment Daniel opened the door to Sarah’s cabin, he and Aimee were greeted by loud voices. The warm home was filled with the rich aroma of roasted meat mixed with the succulent smells of various dishes Sarah was known to prepare – greens she’d gathered in the mountains, potatoes they brought from St. Louis during the summer, and wild grains. Daniel stepped aside to allow Aimee to enter ahead of him, and he removed her heavy coat, hanging it on a peg near the door.
Kara and Emily rushed up to them, wide smiles on their rosy cheeks.
“We’re just waiting for you, Grandma and Grandpa,” Kara said, her blonde hair braided down her back. Unlike her sisters, twelve-year-old Kara liked to dress in britches, which did nothing to disguise that she was blossoming into a beautiful young woman.
Daniel smiled. Chase would soon have his hands full, fending off suitors for his four daughters. Although he loved and doted on his girls, relief had been evident on Chase’s face when his only son, Kyle, had been born two years ago. He was no longer the only male in his house.
 Kara reached for Daniel’s hand, and ushered him to the head of one of several tables that had been set up in the center of the main room. Elk Runner and Little Bird were already seated, along with Summer Rain. There was an empty seat next to her, obviously intended for Samuel.
Daniel glanced around the room, a satisfied smile on his face. His three oldest granddaughters mingled with Elk Runner’s grandchildren who were close in age. The younger ones, including Sarah’s youngest daughter, Hannah, sat at a smaller table.
Chase and Samuel brought in large trays piled high with meat, and took their seats. Chase held Kyle on his lap, and the toddler stuck his hand into the gravy dish. Chase managed to pull it away just before Kyle would have tipped it over. He stood, and handed his son to Sarah, who wiped his dripping hand with a cloth.
Chase grinned, and raised a cup. “Now that everyone’s here, we can eat,” he said loudly. Everyone cheered, and steaming bowls of meat and vegetables were passed from person to person, and from table to table.



Here’s wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all my friends at Sweetheart of the West!


Peggy L Henderson is a laboratory technologist by night, and best-selling western historical and time travel romance author of the Yellowstone Romance Series, Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and Teton Romance Trilogy. When she’s not writing about Yellowstone, the Tetons, or the old west, she’s out hiking the trails, spending time with her family and pets, or catching up on much-needed sleep. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart. Along with her husband and two sons, she makes her home in Southern California.






Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cuero, Texas: Turkey Capital of the World

by Lyn Horner

When our kids were young, my husband and I once took them to a drive-thru wildlife preserve here in Texas. Among the animals we saw that day was a small flock of wild turkeys. They roamed free and showed no sign of fear as we stopped to snap pictures. Those birds were impressive, a lot bigger than I expected and a little bit scary. I mean I wouldn’t care to meet one on foot, especially a large male with his tail spread out in challenge like a huge fan.

Male turkey with tail spread; Wikipedia commons
 

Now imagine watching thousands of these birds trotting along the main street of a small town in south Texas in the early 1900s. That’s exactly what happened in Cuero, TX, (pronounced Quair-oh) beginning around 1908, when a processing plant opened on the outskirts of the town. Turkey raising soon became a major industry in the area. Buyers bought flocks of birds from outlying farms and herded them through town to the plant.

J. C. Howerton, publisher of the Cuero Record, is credited with suggesting a Turkey Trot. The local chamber of commerce took up the idea in order to advertise South Texas turkeys and encourage turkey raising. The Cuero Fair and Turkey Trot Association was formed, and the first official Turkey Trot took place in 1912, at the opening of the fall marketing season.

Named for the popular "turkey trot" dance of the period, the event was a hit, attended even by Texas governor Oscar Colquitt and other dignitaries. They were entertained by a parade of “floats festooned with turkey feathers” as well as 18,000 or more turkeys strutting down Main Street. Cuero merchants reaped benefits by providing visitors with food, drink and lodgings.

Cuero Turkey Trot, 1912; Wikipedia commons, public domain
 

The following year, a Turkish theme was introduced for the Turkey Trot. Sultan Yekrut (turkey spelled backwards) and Sultana Oreuc (Cuero backwards) reigned over the festivities. Over time, the pageantry became more elaborate. The Sultan and Sultana acquired an entire royal court with attendants in Turkish costumes. Cuero became, for a short time each autumn, an exotic oasis amid the mesquite trees and sagebrush.


Apparently, the event was not held every year. The thirteenth Turkey Trot took place in 1967. Unfortunately, many of the broad-breasted feedlot turkeys collapsed, and thereafter the Trot was replaced by a seven-county South Texas Livestock Show. However, as part of Cuero's centennial in 1972, the Turkey Trot was revived, using hardy range-raised turkeys in the parade.

Today, Cuero holds "Turkeyfest" each October, featuring a parade, arts and crafts show, food booths and a Miss Turkeyfest beauty pageant. A highlight is the "Great Gobbler Gallop," a race between prize turkeys from Cuero and Worthington, Minnesota. This competition resulted from a Worthington newspaper editor's claim that his town was the world's turkey capital, not Cuero. Contestants’ names are always Ruby Begonia for the Texas turkey and Paycheck for the Minnesota bird. They vie for the title of World's Fastest Turkey, racing in two heats, one in each city over a two-year period.
 
Cuero's population in 2010 was 6,841. It is the county seat of DeWitt County, Texas, and is unofficially known as the "turkey capital of the world." Cuero High School teams are called the Gobblers. Also in 2010, Cuero was named one of the 'Coolest Small Towns in America,' by Budget Travel Magazine. ~ Wikipedia

All thanks to our wild Texas turkeys!

Three Turkey Facts from TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE

  1. If Wild Turkeys could smell, they'd be nearly impossible to hunt. The eyes and ears of a turkey make it one of the toughest of all Texas game animals. Their vision is the keenest among all Texas game animals. They are especially astute at pinpointing movement and can hone in on noises from a mile away.
  2. Wild Turkey Revival! A hundred years ago, turkeys almost disappeared from Texas due to unregulated hunting and loss of habitat. Now, thanks to hunter and landowner support, bag limits and a restocking program, they are making a steady comeback.
  3. Where the Wild Turkeys are. Turkeys now inhabit 223 of the 254 counties in Texas. You can see them roam at many Texas State Parks. One of the most substantial and oldest winter turkey roosts is at South Llano River State Park near Junction.

 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Cowboy Kind Of Thanksgiving



 Sarah McNeal is a multi-published author of time travel, paranormal, western, contemporary and historical fiction. Her stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints of Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Her website: http://www.sarahmcneal.com  

A COWBOY KIND OF THANKSGIVING

When I was about eight years old, my dad decided he didn’t want a turkey for Thanksgiving. Instead he wanted roast beef. I believe Pop was addicted to roast beef, especially pot roast made in a Dutch oven with carrots, potatoes, and onions. We had it every Sunday. Pop was obviously stuck in a rut. Turkey is like the very symbol of Thanksgiving. In my childish mind I thought we must be too poor to have a turkey. I didn’t want my friends or classmates to know we had fallen into such dire circumstances that we had to have roast beef for Thanksgiving. What kind of Thanksgiving has roast beef for Pete’s sake?
Well, turns out pioneers and cowboys would have loved some roast beef for Thanksgiving. In Laura Ingalls’ famous stories about growing up on the Great Plains during the pioneer days in America, she describes the excitement and joy in preparing a Christmas dinner (close enough to Thanksgiving as far as feasting is concerned) with no turkey or roast beef.
"Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas. She baked salt-rising bread and r'n'Injun bread, and Swedish crackers, and huge pan of baked beans, with salt pork and molasses. She baked vinegar pies and dried-apple pies, and filled a big jar with cookies, and she let Laura and Mary lick the cake spoon."
I never heard of vinegar pie, but I did find a recipe for it and added it to the list at the end of this article.

Cowboys led a labor intensive life and needed plenty of protein to keep up their energy and strength. Here is a list of their foods:
Dried and Fresh Meat
You’d think with all that beef on the hoof they were chasing around all day, they would be eating beef every day, but not so. Fresh meat was a rare treat usually produced by hunting.
Hard Cheese
Hard cheese was dried until hard and dipped in paraffin wax. The stuff could last for months without spoiling and was nutritionally valuable in its high fat and salt content. I would have loved this ration.
Beans
Beans were provided in large quantities and were one of the most abundant foods available to traveling cowboys. Versatile beans could be made into chili, mashed beans and bean soups when cooked in a Dutch oven overnight would last for many meals and were often re-purposed, made into patties when cold and fried.
Dried Fruit
Dried fruit supplemented the starch and protein that composed the majority of the cowboy diet. Apples, raisins and apricots were the most common, but berries and prunes were also available. Watch that prune intake out there on the trail.
Biscuits
Cowboy biscuits were based on the recipe for Civil War hardtack and so resembled them in taste, texture and longevity. Meant to be palatable for a long period of time, cowboy biscuits contained only flour, water and salt. Baked for a long time at a low temperature, they became hard, brittle and very dry…not the kind of biscuits I’d be looking forward to, for certain.
Coffee
Coffee became an important staple of the cowboy diet. Used to remain alert and warm in the wilderness, coffee was prepared by boiling it directly in the water without straining. Often full of grounds, cowboy coffee was very thick and strong. 
Except for the grounds in there, I like it strong. My parents used to keep coffee going all day long until my mother had a heart attack. She couldn’t stand the smell of it after that and she switched to hot tea.

Oh, just for fun, I found some Chuck Wagon Etiquette at a website titled Legends of the Old West

Chuckwagon Etiquette
  • No one eats until Cookie calls
  • When Cookie calls, everyone comes a runnin'
  • Hungry cowboys wait for no man. They fill their plates, fill their bellies, and then move on so stragglers can fill their plates
  • Cowboys eat first, talk later.
  • It's okay to eat with your fingers. The food is clean
  • If you're refilling the coffee cup and someone yells "Man at the pot." You're obliged to serve refills.
  • Don't take the last serving unless your sure you're the last man.
  • Food left on the plate is an insult to the cook.
  • No running or saddling a horse near the wagon. And when you ride off, always ride down wind from the wagon.
  • If you come across any decent firewood, bring it back to the wagon
  • Strangers are always welcome at the wagon.
Did you know? 

When Cookie  was finished with his work for the day and before hitting the sack, he would always place the tongue of the chuck wagon facing north. When the trail master started in the morning he would look at the tongue and then knew what direction he would be moving the herd. 
Camp Cook Names
 
Soggy, Pot Russler, Lean Skillet, Old Pud, Coosie, Old lady, Belly Cheater, Biscuit Roller, Dough Boxer, Dough Puncher, Greasy Belly, Grub Worm, Gut Robber, Sourdough, and more.

I’m glad to report that we only spent that one Thanksgiving with roast beef. My sister and I gave Pop so much grief over it, we reverted back to good old turkey after that. Looking back on it, I’m sure my dad thought his daughters lacked gratitude, but tradition, in my opinion, must be upheld.


Here are a few recipes of pioneer feasting foods:

Mormon Johnnycake
Here is a form of cornbread used not only by the Mormon immigrants,
as the name indicates, but quite often by most of the immigrants traveling west.
Because of the inclusion of buttermilk, a source of fresh milk was a necessity.
2-cups of yellow cornmeal
½-cup of flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients and mix in
2-cups of buttermilk and 2-tablespoons molasses.
Pour into a greased 9” pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. 
To get a lighter johnnycake include two beaten eggs
and 2 tablespoons melted butter.


Thanksgiving Pudding
(From an 1880 Cookbook)
Pound 20 crackers fine, add 5 cups milk and let swell.
Beat well 14 eggs
pint sugar
cup molasses
2 small nutmegs
2 TSP ground clove
3 ground cinnamon
2 TSP salt
½ TSP soda.
Add to crackers.
Finally add pint of raisins. Makes two puddings.

Soda Biscuits
Take 1lb flour, and mix it with enough milk to make a stiff dough;
dissolve 1tsp carbonate of soda in a little milk;
add to dough with a teaspoon of salt.
Work it well together and roll out thin;
cut into round biscuits, and bake them in a moderate oven.
The yolk of an egg is sometimes added.

Red Bean Pie
Beans were a staple of the cowboy's food, particularly when he was on the trail.  Beans could be easily stored and they were inexpensive.  And although it probably wasn't known, they're also nutritious.
Here is yet another way the cook could feed cowboys beans.
1-cup cooked and mashed pinto beans.
1-cup sugar.
 3-beaten egg yokes.
 1-teaspoon vanilla.
 1-teaspoon nutmeg.
Place combined ingredients in an uncooked piecrust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Make a meringue with the leftover egg whites.  Spread over baked pie and return to oven to brown.

Baked Apple Pudding
The recipe below was brought out west in the 1800’s
by the ancestors of Audrey Crandell of Linden, Arizona.
3 Large apples, grated
1 cup sugar
1 cube butter
½ cup nuts
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
Beat egg, sugar and butter.
Add apples and mix well.
Add dry ingredients.
Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with cream or a white sauce.

Vinegar Lemonade
Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a 12 ounce glass of water.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar to taste.
Note: The pioneers used vinegar for numerous reasons.
One reason was to add vitamin C to their diet.

Corn Muffins for Breakfast
Farmer’s Almanac 1885
Pour one quart of boiling milk over one pint of fine cornmeal.  While the mixture is still hot, add one tablespoonful of butter and a little salt, stirring the batter thoroughly. 
Let is stand until cool, then add a small cup of wheat flour and two well-beaten eggs. 
When mixed sufficiently, put the batter into well-greased shallow tins (or, better yet, into gem pans) and bake in a brick oven for one-half hour, or until richly browned.  Serve hot.

How To Fry Quick Doughnuts
The following recipe for doughnuts came from the March 17, 1885 Daily Missoulian.  Obviously, anyone making these doughnuts will want to find a substitute for fat as a cooking oil.
Put a frying kettle half full of fat over the fire to heat.  Shift together one pound of flour, one teaspoonful each of salt and bicarbonate of soda, and half a saltspoon full of grated nutmeg. 
Beat half a pound of butter to a cream and add them to the flour.  Beat the yokes of two eggs to a cream, add them to the first-named ingredients, beat the whites to a stiff froth and reserve them. 
Mix into the flour and sugar enough sour milk to make a soft dough and then quickly add the whites of the eggs.  Roll out the paste at once, shape and fry.


Vinegar Pie

There were two different kinds of vinegar pie, one without eggs cooked as a cobbler in a Dutch oven, and the one below which is a custard pie.

A most important concern for a cook on the trail was to have items, especially for dessert, that do not require perishable items, and can have substitute ingredients. When the cook wanted to make the pie below, and ran out of sugar, he would substitute molasses, honey or syrup.

½ cup sugar
 1 tablespoon butter
 2 tablespoons vinegar
 2 tablespoons flour
 3 egg yokes (Save the whites for a meringue.)
 1 cup water

Line a pie pan with your favorite pie crust. Bake the crust about half done before placing the mixed ingredients into it.

Bake in a slow oven until the custard is done.

If you would like you can use the egg whites for a meringue, but it is not necessary.


Sourdough biscuits were a delicacy whether on the trail or at the ranch. Once a cook got a good sourdough starter he cherished it like a baby. On the trail he would store it in a dark, cool place in his chuck wagon. Here is one cook's recipe for a sourdough starter.

2 cups of lukewarm potato water

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

Make potato water by cutting up 2 medium-sized potatoes into cubes, and boil in cups of water until tender.

Remove the potatoes and measure out two cups of the remaining liquid. (The potatoes can be used for the evening meal.)

Mix the potato water, flour and sugar into a smooth paste.

Set the mixture in a warm place until it doubles its original size.
Slapjack
This recipe came from The Old Confederacy Receipt Book of 1863.
Take flour, little sugar and water,
mix with or without a little yeast, the latter better if at hand,
mix into paste and fry the same as fritters in clean fat.

Boy in Bag
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts (black walnuts are fine)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup chopped suet
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup chopped dried fruit of any kind.
Chop suet into small pieces no pieces being larger than a bean.
Combine with raisins, nuts, brown sugar, and chopped dried fruit.
Then mix flour, spices, and salt with baking powder.
Add gradually to fruit mixture with milk, beating well.
Put in flour sack or tie in large square of cloth. Put in kettle of boiling water and boil 3 hours, always keeping enough boiling water, and put on cloth to drain.
After about ½ hour, untie cloth and turn pudding onto dish. Let chill.
Slice and serve with hard sauce.
This pudding will keep well and is similar to plum pudding.
This can be made in camp with molasses instead of brown sugar. Or can be made with white sugar instead of either brown sugar or molasses.
This was a great favorite with chuck wagon cooks.

Thanksgiving Pudding
(From an 1880 Cookbook)
Pound 20 crackers fine, add 5 cups milk and let swell.
Beat well 14 eggs
pint sugar
cup molasses
2 small nutmegs
2 TSP ground clove
3 ground cinnamon
2 TSP salt
½ TSP soda.
Add to crackers.
Finally add pint of raisins. Makes two puddings.

Baked Apple Pudding
The recipe below was brought out west in the 1800’s
by the ancestors of Audrey Crandell of Linden, Arizona.
3 Large apples, grated
1 cup sugar
1 cube butter
½ cup nuts
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
Beat egg, sugar and butter.
Add apples and mix well.
Add dry ingredients.
Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with cream or a white sauce.

Well, I haven’t tried any of these recipes, but if you do, let me know how it all turns out.  I found bunches more, a venison stew, possum belly, and a hominy recipe that, apparently was a favorite of Wild Bill Hickok that was made of cooked hominy, butter and, for some reason I cannot fathom, bits of pimento, but I thought this was plenty of recipes to see how the cowboys ate and food to celebrate while on the trail.
I hope everyone has a spectacular Thanksgiving and plenty of delicious food to share on your table. I’ll be having turkey for certain. Wherever Pop is in the great universe, I hope he gets all the roast beef he wants. Love you, Pop.
Happy Thanksgiving y’all.

Note: all cowboy photos are courtesy of Wikipedia public domain.
References:
Legends of the Old West:

Wikipedia