Friday, September 30, 2016

YOU GOT MAIL...ALEXANDER TODD, EXPRESSMEN, THE PONY EXPRESS, WELLS FARGO & BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND MAIL DELIVERY

By: Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Listen my child and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of...Alexander Todd??

When it comes to American history, most people have heard about Paul Revere and his critical role as a messenger who rode by horseback from Boston to Lexington, warning his countrymen about the British Army and their imminent attack. Not only did the Battle of Lexington and Concord become the first military engagement of the Revolutionary War, but the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" became legendary. In fact, on the 85th anniversary of Revere’s ride, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was still so inspired he wrote a poem about it.

Throughout history, messengers on horseback have played key roles in the development of the United States. One such messenger was East coast bookkeeper Alexander Todd who found his destiny in a rather roundabout way. Simply put, had it not been for an acute case of gold fever, he never would have made the 170-day sea voyage around Cape Horn to reach San Francisco. That’s right, 170 days at sea to reach California. Hard to fathom now, isn’t it?

But, as fate would have it, Todd soon realized he didn’t have the stamina to be a prospector. Wading in icy streams searching for bits of gold was quickly ruining his health. Thinking about a better way to make a living, it didn’t take long for him to recognize the isolated miles of wilderness in the gold field was also affecting the other miners.

Cold, often sick, and working to the verge of exhaustion, they longed to hear from the world they left behind; hoping in vain for a letter from their wives, children, sweethearts, family and friends. But the only way a miner could get mail was if he made the arduous trek to San Francisco, a journey that not only took weeks to accomplish but left his dig site unprotected against claim jumpers.

Alexander Todd decided he could provide an important service and also make a profit. Although the United States government held a monopoly over the flow of mail, Todd suspected they wouldn’t mind help with certain deliveries.

At the time, the Post Office charged five cents for a half-ounce letter traveling a distance less than 300 miles, and 10 cents for more than 300 miles. In addition to these fees, Todd devised a system of three fees for his personal mail delivery. He charged $2.50 for carrying a letter from the gold fields to San Francisco’s post office.

Incoming mail was more prized and more expensive; after all, he had to make inquiries at the post office for each individual miner’s mail. As such, a fee of $1.00 was established, and the miner’s name was placed on a subscription list. If Todd found mail for the subscriber, the price for bringing that mail back to the gold field would be exactly one ounce of gold dust (worth about $16.00 at the time).

Without blinking an eye, hundreds of prospectors handed Todd their letters, signed up for his subscription list, and paid the required fees.

With an investment of two horses (one for him and the other for the sacks of mail), Todd rode from the Sierra foothills to Stockton, then a sprawl of tents beside the San Joaquin River. There he prepared to board a boat and travel down to San Francisco. However, in Stockton, some merchants heard of his trip and asked him to deliver $150,000.00 in gold dust to a company in San Francisco. Mind you, Todd was a total stranger to these people, yet someone had to make the journey. Todd was willing to accept the responsibility, but not before negotiating a price granting him five percent (5%) of the value of the dust, or $7.500.00. Having no other alternative, the merchants agreed.

After stowing the gold dust in a discarded butter keg, Todd boarded his horses and found a boat headed toward San Francisco. Without trouble, he delivered the gold dust for the merchants then went to the post office. There he encountered chaos. Imagine if you will, people standing in lines up to half a mile long just waiting to reach the postal clerk’s window.

Why the long lines?

Way back then, with each individual’s inquiry, the clerk had to go through stacks of unsorted envelopes by hand. When Todd reached the window, he turned over his sack of outgoing mail and explained his subscription list. Fortunately for him, the Postmaster had an entrepreneurial spirit. In exchange for swearing in Alexander Todd as a postal clerk, thereby allowing him to sift through the mountains of mail from the East, the Postmaster levied a kickback fee of 25 cents for each letter Todd found for one of his clients.

Wanting to repair the small dent in his profits, Todd quickly developed some sidelines, one of which was to buy a load New York newspapers (already over a week old), knowing he could sell them at a healthy profit back in the gold fields. Needless to say, the miners not only embraced their mail but bought the newspapers on the spot for $8.00 a copy.

Soon, Todd had 2,000 clients on his mail subscription list and was earning $1,000 a day for both mail delivery and safeguarding gold dust from his clients in the field to their bank. And so it was that in 1852, the West’s first major express agency was established by Alexander Todd.
Other express companies were started, among them Wells, Fargo & Company, the Butterfield Overland Mail Company, and The Pony Express.

By 1860, Pony Express riders were relaying mail across more than half the United States in as little as ten (10) days. Using what could only be described as a cross-country relay race, couriers changed horses about every 12 miles, riding so hard and fast they exhausted as many as six mounts before passing their mail to the next relay rider. Among its early riders, The Pony Express employed a then unknown William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody.

Another important rider for The Pony Express was William Campbell, who not only carried a copy of Lincoln’s first message to Congress in 1861 to California, but in 1932, at 90 years of age, became the last living Pony Express rider.

Eventually, the railroad and telegraph service replaced the need for Expressmen, but there is no mistaking they provided a much needed service and played an important role in the development of this country’s means of communication.

From lone riders like Alexander Todd and later the men of The Pony Express, to The Wells Fargo and Overland stagecoaches, delivery of the mail (and at times passengers) prove so dangerous an escort of cavalry was often necessary. Yet before the stagecoach became involved, there were the Expressmen, lone riders facing the elements -- relentless heat, rugged countryside, lonely plains, swollen rivers, flash floods, snowstorms and pelting sleet, as well as unfriendly Native American Indians


We often take for granted how easy it is to instantly communicate with loved ones and friends these days. We live in an age where one can call anywhere in the world by telephone in seconds. Emails, texting and even "Face Time" have become the norm for communicating. As immediate and convenient as this may be, isn't it wonderful to still get cards and letters in the mail? There is just something more personal, more 'connected' about that piece of correspondence you hold in your hand.

Needless to say, one can imagine how it must have felt for those miners when Alexander Todd rode back into camp after that first trip and said, ‘You got mail’.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. I hope you enjoyed learning about Alexander Todd, and the importance of mail delivery to people in isolated areas of the West. ~ AKB

For more information about Ashley Kath-Bilsky and her writing, please visit her website at www.ashleykathbilsky.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WHY DID YOU NAME IT THAT? by CHERYL PIERSON


Ask any writer where their titles come from for their work and you’ll get a thousand different answers from “It just came to me!” to “My publisher made me use this one.” As an author, I’ve had both happen to me, with several other scenarios for my titles scattered in between.


BUY IT HERE:https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Eyes-Cheryl-Pierson/dp/1499215452/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474425964&sr=8-1&keywords=Fire+Eyes
In my first book, FIRE EYES, the heroine’s name is Jessica—my own daughter’s name. She needed a name that she was referred to by the Indians, and my daughter had told me years earlier she wanted her Indian name to be FIRE EYES. So that was a given. And it worked out great! That story was the one that the title came easiest for, of all my books.


BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Danger-Cheryl-Pierson-ebook/dp/B00KY8GGH4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1474426021&sr=8-4&keywords=Sweet+Danger
Fast forward to my first contemporary romance novel, Sweet Danger. The story takes place in a deli that has been taken over by a very dangerous escaped convict, Tabor Hardin, and his men. His hostages just happen to include an undercover police officer, Jesse Nightwalker, who put him away in prison—supposedly for life. One of the other hostages is Jesse’s neighbor, Lindy Oliver, who is the retired police commissioner’s daughter. They’ve just met and are minding their own business over a sugar ring when a hail of gunfire erupts and—well, y’all know how I love my wounded heroes, and Jesse is no exception. I had titled the story THE SUGAR RING. But I was told by my publisher that that title would have to be changed. Period. SWEET DANGER was born, and in retrospect, is a much better title.

Titles should stick with the reader, be memorable, and make readers want to know more about the book.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Who would do that?)
SWEET SAVAGE LOVE (Tell me more!)

SHANE (Who is this person?)
ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN (Who were they?)
NOBODY’S DARLING (Maybe mine?)
THE GATES OF THE ALAMO (I’ve gotta know!)
THE CHRISTMAS SPIDER (What???)
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (Maybe I can learn something, here!)
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (Did I live there once?)

BUY IT HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Otherverse-James-Reasoner/dp/1519314272/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474426092&sr=8-1&keywords=Tales+from+the+Otherverse
TALES FROM THE OTHERVERSE (Where is this place, and what are these tales about?)
LOST SISTER (Who was she and why was she lost?)

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (Who was he? Certainly not who we thought!)

The list goes on—but you get the idea. I know right now you’re thinking of titles you’ve read that have stuck in your mind—and the questions they’ve made you ask about those particular stories or books.

And I bet you’ve seen a phrase and thought, “That would be a great book title!” I know I’ve done that plenty of times. I’ve even written them down. Now, if I could only remember where I wrote them!

https://www.amazon.com/Code-West-Classic-Western-Novels-ebook/dp/B01JM2UONO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474426315&sr=8-1&keywords=Code+of+the+West
Another fun way to come up with titles is through a title generator. There are several of these online. They even have them for different genres: Sci-fi, westerns, fantasy…you name it. But they come up with some real doozies! Take a look at some of the ones a western title generator came up with for me:
FALLEN SAVAGE
THE GUITAR OF THE AZURE
THE PLAINS OF THE SAGE
THE DEATH’S RING
WOLVES IN THE MESA
THE WILLOW AND THE HOLSTER
THE REIN OF THE DWINDLING SECRET
THE BIBLE OF THE WHITE HEART
RUBY IN THE CHURCHYARD
LIGHTS IN THE SOMBRERO
ANGEL OF THE FINAL LIGHT

These are mainly odd, funny titles, but the beauty of them is that they get your mind working in ways you might never have thought before—and adding and changing some of the words in some of these titles can make for a beautifully creative experience!

What are some of YOUR favorite titles, and why?
I will be giving away a copy of A KISS TO REMEMBER, a digital boxed set of five western historical romances by Livia J. Washburn, Kathleen Rice-Adams, Tracy Garrett, Tanya Hanson and myself to one lucky commenter! Be sure to leave your contact info in your comment in case I draw your name!



IF YOU CAN'T WAIT TO SEE IF YOU WON, HERE'S THE BUY LINK!
https://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Remember-Western-Historical-Romance-ebook/dp/B01IM37OAA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474431965&sr=8-1&keywords=A+KISS+to+Remember

Monday, September 26, 2016

RAGS TO RICHES DOWN OL'E TEXAS WAY!


This is a true story of rags to riches. Christopher Columbus “Lum” Slaughter claimed to be the first male child born of a marriage contracted under the new Republic of Texas. He was born on 9 February 1837 to Sarah (Mason) and George Webb Slaughter in Sabine County.  Lum was a ranching pioneer, banker, millionaire, and philanthropist. Yet at one time, he was so poor he had to ride bareback because he didn’t own a saddle.

Christopher Slaughter
He was educated at home and at Larissa College in Cherokee County. As a boy he worked cattle with his father and at age twelve helped drive the family's ninety-two-head herd to a ranch on the Trinity River in Freestone County, where the family moved in 1852. Because of his expertise in herding cattle across the often swollen river, he was regularly employed by drovers bound for Shreveport with Brazos-country livestock. At age seventeen he made a trading expedition hauling timber from Anderson County to Dallas County for sale and processing Collin County wheat into flour for sale in Magnolia, Anderson County, a trip that yielded him a $520 profit.

With what must have seemed vast wealth to him at that time, he bought his uncle's interest in the Slaughter herd. Having observed the better quality of the Brazos stock, he persuaded his father to move farther west. They selected a site in Palo Pinto County, well positioned to provide beef to Fort Belknap and the nearby Indian reservations. In 1856, Lum drove 1,500 cattle to his new ranch.
On 5 December 1861 (possibly 1860), Slaughter married Cynthia Jowell of Palo Pinto, Texas; they had five children. After being widowed in 1876, he married Carrie A. Averill (Aberill) in Emporia, Kansas, on January 17, 1877; they had four children.

Cattle drive before barbed wire


When open war with the Indians broke out in 1859, he volunteered his service and was in the expedition that unexpectedly liberated Cynthia Ann Parker from a Comanche camp. With the withdrawal of federal protection during the Civil War, Slaughter continued to fight Indians as a lieutenant in the Texas Rangers. He also served under Capt. William Peveler in Young County in the Frontier Regiment, part of the effort to maintain frontier protection during the war.

When the Confederacy fell and Indian harassment continued, Slaughter and other ranchers started for Mexico in search of new ranchland. During the expedition Slaughter suffered an accidental gunshot wound that incapacitated him for a year, causing a nearly ruinous decline in his cattle business. After his recovery he started a cattle drive to New Orleans in late 1867, but en route contracted with a buyer for a Jefferson packing business to sell his 300 steers there for thirty-five dollars a head in gold, a large sum. At some time during this period, people began referring to him as Colonel Slaughter.

With his new stake he began regular drives to Kansas City in 1868, selling his herds for as much as forty-two dollars a head. He sold his Texas ranching interests in 1871 and in 1873 organized C. C. Slaughter and Company, a cattle-breeding venture, which later pioneered the replacement of the poor-bred longhorn with Kentucky-bred blooded shorthorn stock. By 1882 a herd shipped to St. Louis received seven dollars per hundred pounds, several times what he could have made selling in Kansas. His income increased until it reached $100,000 per year, at which time he began giving away money to charitable purposes, donating from 10 to 25 per cent of his income to philanthropy each year.

In 1873, Colonel Slaughter moved his family to Dallas and a few years later dissolved his partnership with his father. About 1877 he established one of the largest ranches in West Texas, the Long S, on the headwaters of the Colorado River and there grazed his cattle on the public domain. Desirous of becoming a gentleman breeder, Lum purchased the Goodnight Hereford herd in 1897 and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair grand champion bull, Ancient Briton. In 1899 he acquired the famous Hereford bull Sir Bredwell for a record $5,000.

Hereford Cattle
Through these purchases Slaughter's purebred Hereford herd became one of the finest in the business. Around 1898 Slaughter undertook a major land purchase in Cochran and Hockley counties. He bought 246,699 acres, leased more, and established the Lazy S Ranch, which he stocked with his Hereford herd and mixed breed cattle from the Long S and consigned to the management of his eldest son.

In 1877, Slaughter helped organize the Northwest Texas Cattle Raisers' Association (later the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association), for which he also served a term as president in 1885. He was the first president of the National Beef Producers and Butchers Association in 1888, an organization formed to combat market domination by the meat-packing industry.

Frequently titled the "Cattle King of Texas," Slaughter became one of the country's largest individual owners of cattle and land. By 1906, he owned over a million acres and 40,000 cattle and was the largest individual taxpayer in Texas for years. For a time "Slaughter Country" extended from a few miles north of Big Spring for 200 miles to the New Mexico border west of Lubbock. By 1908–09, however, he opened his Running Water and Long S Ranches to colonization and sale.

Failure of the land company promoting colonization caused much of the land to revert to his ownership by 1911. Under the management of Jack Alley, it was restored to profitability by 1915. Slaughter maintained strict control over his operations until 1910, when he suffered a broken hip that crippled him for the remainder of his life, compounding problems caused by his failing eyesight. He consequently turned the business over to his eldest son, George.

In addition to ranching, Slaughter participated in banking in Dallas where he helped organize City Bank in 1873 and invested in the bank's reorganization as City National Bank in 1881. At that time he became its vice president. In 1884 he helped establish the American National Bank, which evolved by 1905 into the American Exchange National Bank (later First National Bank). He was vice president from its organization until his death.

Slaughter was a Democrat and Baptist who contributed two-thirds of the cost for the construction of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and served as vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as president of the state Mission Board from 1897–1903, and as an executive board member of the Baptist General Convention of Texas from 1898–1911. His support of a plan to retire the consolidated debt of seven Texas Baptist schools and coordinate their activities into a system capped by Baylor University assured its acceptance by the general convention in 1897.

Slaughter also contributed generously to the establishment of the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium, which later became Baylor Hospital in Dallas. This is especially interesting to me, as both our daughters were born at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. He also contributed to the medical school and to the Nurses Home and Training School.

Slaughter breaking
ground on the hospital


Colonel Slaughter often summed up his philanthropic philosophy saying, "I have prayed the Master to endow me with a hand to get and a heart to give."

Slaughter established the
Free Clinic for Minorities


He died at his home in Dallas on 25 January 1919. However, his death precipitated a tangled family financial scandal. Less than a week after his death, his younger brother Bill, with whom he had had a long and strained financial relationship but who managed the Long S, was accused of fraud. Bill had attempted to sell his nephew Bob Slaughter’s new Western S Ranch on the Rio Grande in Hudspeth County to an unknown company from Mexico. 

Slaughter Dallas Home
Learning of the fraudulent negotiations and backed by his brothers, Bob confronted and fired his uncle. Although Bill Slaughter later filed a $3 million slander suit against his nephews, he apparently never collected anything from it. Colonel Slaughter’s family continued to give to causes close to the heart of C.C. Slaughter, and Baylor Hospital became one of many testaments to his generosity.


Caroline Clemmons is the award winning and Amazon bestselling author of numerous western romances. Her latest series is Bride Brigade. Coming soon is RACHEL, Bride Brigade book 5. Currently, check her latest release, THE RANCHER AND THE SHEPHERDESS, a Montana Sky Kindle World. https://amzn.com/B01J4R6364

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Few Old West Tidbits




Over twenty years ago, we built a sauna in our back yard. The sauna room was finished, it’s all cedar-lined and has running water. The outside was also completed—it’s covered with barn wood we salvaged off an old barn that was being torn down. However, the changing room—the room you first walk into, was just left roughed in. I don’t know why we never got around to finishing it, but over the years, even though we used the sauna part, the changing room became more of a storage spot, as did the rafters above both rooms. Last fall, the girls decided they wanted to use the changing room as a club house. So we cleaned it out—a large percentage of what was in it went into the dumpster—and since then, they’ve spent many hours playing in it. Over the winter, Papa would build a fire in the sauna stove so it was nice and warm for them—which worked out well, because then it was ready for us to take a sauna after they went home. This spring, he decided we should finally finish the changing room and turn the upper area into a loft for the grandkids to play in, so after cleaning out the rafters, he bought the lumber and somehow convinced me to be his carpenter helper. 

This picture is of the outside, I haven’t taken any pictures of the inside, yet. Will do that when it’s all done. I plan on decorating it with a few of the antiques I’d forgotten were stored in there. When we built it, the spruce tree in front of it was only about six feet tall, now it towers over it and hides half of the building.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, between the weekday day job, being hubby's helper every weekend (including this weekend), and a November 1ST deadline for my next book, I’m running short of time. Therefore, I’m making my life easier and reusing a short post I’d used on another blog a few years ago about tidbits from the old west.


  • ·         The Santa Fe Trail came close, but never actually made it to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • ·         As partial compensation for his lost territory, in 1905 the United States Government gave Geronimo a Cadillac.
  • ·         After committing a robbery, Charles E. Bolton would leave a note signed “Black Bart”. He was almost sixty when he started robbing stages.  
  • ·         It’s said Mail Order Brides did more in taming the west than any law or lawman.
  • ·         Clay Allen pulled out a dentist’s teeth after that dentist had pulled one of Clay’s—the wrong one.
  • ·         The Dalton Gang met their fate in Kansas in 1892 when they attempted to rob two banks at the same time.
  • ·         Billy the Kid was also known a Billy Bonney, Henry McCarty, and Henry Antrim.
  • ·         Jesse James’s nickname to his close friends was Dingus.
  • ·         Ben Kilpatrick, one of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch known as the “Tall Texan”, loved riding bikes and only ever ordered ham and beans to eat because he couldn’t read.


My next release will be in October/November. (Harlequin releases the print version a couple of weeks before the ebook version.) Unwrapping the Rancher’s Secret is a Christmas story set in Colorado. 

A ghost of Christmas past… 

Heiress Sara Johnson is shocked when the stepbrother she believed was dead returns to Colorado to claim his inheritance! It might be the season of goodwill, but Crofton Parks seems determined to destroy his late father's empire. 

Sparks fly as Crofton and Sara are forced to work together, and soon she begins to uncover the secrets behind his disappearance and need for revenge. But a far more unsettling discovery is the desire he awakens in Sara. This roguish rancher might just claim her heart by Christmas!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mountain Man Lingo

By: Peggy L Henderson

 At the time of this posting, I will probably be somewhere in Colorado or on my way home from a road trip which includes research for future mountain man and wilderness romance novels. 

Here's a quick  introduction to the language of the mountain man. Like the old west cowboys, the mountain men created their own unique language and terms. Today, if someone overheard a conversation by a couple of mountain men, it would most likely be completely incomprehensible. Not only because of the words used, but also because many of the activities and items back in the 1800’s no longer exist in our modern times. Fur traders came from all over. There were Frenchmen, English, Spaniards, and Europeans. Mix those up with several native Indian tribes, and a colorful new language soon developed that was a blended hybrid soup of all of the above.
Listed below are some of the words and phrases used by the mountain men during the fur trade era of 1810-1840.

"ABSAROKEE" also Absaroka. The Crow Indian word for their tribe meaning "children of the hawk" or "children of the crow."
"AH'LL SWAR BY HOOK" I'll swear to it.
"APPOLAS" sticks sharpend at both ends, stuck in the ground around a fire, on which are jabbed chunks of meat to roast slowly.
"ARWERDENTY" whiskey, from the Spanish words "agua ardiente", which means "fiery water".
"AUGE FIT" a fever, which comes and goes (not uncommon for men who spent a lot of time in waist deep water setting traps).
"BACCER or BACCY" tobacco.
"BALDFACE" alcohol.
"BANK BEAVER" beaver that makes a burrow on the bank of a fast moving river.
"BLACK YOUR FACE AGAINST (TO)" to go to war with, as in the Indian custom of blackening a face with paint before riding out on a raid.
"BOUDIN" delicacy of stuffed buffalo intestines. Also "boudie".
"BRAVE AS A BUFFLER BULL IN SPRING" a brave man.
"BUFFLER" buffalo. The favorite food of the trapper and Indian alike.
"BUFFLER WOOD" buffalo chips, dried buffalo dung. Used for fuel in cooking fires.
"BUG'S BOYS or BEN JOHNSON'S BOYS" blackfoot warriors.
"BUSHWAY or BOOSHWAY" From the French word "bourgeois." A company man who supervised and indentured trappers who were forced to work for a fur trapping company. At the buckskinner's rendezvous these days a booshway is the person in charge of a rendezvous.
"BY A LONG CHALK" better or worse by a long shot.
"COLD DOIN'S" frigid weather.
"CONSARNED" expression of exclamation.
"COMPANY MAN" an employee of a fur trapping company, looked down upon by the free trappers.
"CORNCRACKERS" contemptible term used for farmers back East.
"DAB" castorium. The extract of the two perineal glands of the beaver. Used as a scent to attract beaver to a set trap. Strong and musky smelling, it is thick and yellow in color.
"DARE TO SET?" used in gambling or betting meaning "care to bet?"
"DIGGINS" home.
"DURST" dare, as in "Durst yeh?" ("Do you dare?")
"EUKER" an old time card game.
"FEEDBAG" eating a meal, also the stomach or abdominal area of the body.
"FEELING RIGHT PERT" feeling pretty good.
"FLATLANDER" Term of contempt for someone that was green or new to the mountains.
"FOOFURAH, FO FARRAW, FOO FURAW" trinkets, trade goods, doodads, etc. From the French "fanfaron". Every trapper carried a supply of these items as trade goods.
"FOTCH" knock or hit another man as in a fight.
"FREE TRAPPER" the ultimate mountain man. A trapper who was his own boss, a free man not endentured to or working for a fur trapping company.
"FREEZE INTER HIT" go to it.
"GALENA PILL, GALEENY PILL" lead bullet made from galena lead.
"GONE UNDER" one who had died or was killed.
"GRAININ A SKIN" scrapin a skin clean of flesh and fat.
"GREASEWOOD" sage.
"GREENHORN" a term to describe the unexperienced newcomer to the mountains.
"GREEN IS WEARED OFF" when a greenhorn becomes a mountain man.
"GREEZ HUNGRY" hungry for meat.
"HAF FROZE FER HAR or HAF STARVED FER HAR" desire to lift a scalp.
"HAR YER STICK FLOATS" what you do and what you are.
"HAWK" a tomahawk.
"HE'S GOT A TOUGH BARK" a man has a tough hide, refuses to be killed.
"HE'S NOT OPENED HIS HAND" not any presents or gifts.
"HEAP" plenty of something.
"HEAVY IN HORN" a big bull, buffalo or elk.
"HENYWAYS YE LAY YER SIGHTS" any way you look at it.
"HIT WON SHINE IN THIR CROWD" something won't do by mountain man standards.
"HIT WON WASH" it won't do.
"HITS BETTER TER COUNT A HORSES RIBS EN TER COUNT HIS TRACKS" trappers adage: better to keep an animal penned up and hobbled than to chase the animal when run off by Indians.
"HIVERNAN or HIVERNANT a man who had the experience of wintering over in the mountains a year or two. No longer a greenhorn. They were also known as "winterers".
"HOLE" a secluded mountain valley.
"HOLLOW WOODS" Indian name for the small kegs used to haul alcohol.
"HONEYDEW" or "OL VIRGINNY" terms for tobbaco.
"HUGGIN" wrestling, usually meaning the wrestling for fun and rendevous.
"HYARS DAMP POWDER AN NO WAYS TER DRY HIT" a bad situation with seemingly no way out.
"JACK OF LIKKER" a leather sack of fire water.
"JOHN BARLEYCORN" alcohol, whiskey.
"KALLATE" calculate or figure.
"KINNIKINIK" Indian word for smoking material made from inner bark and leaves of red willow, sumac, dogwood, and other common trees and bushes. Often mixed with tobacco.
"KNOW FAT COW FROM POOR BULL" expression used to mean a smart trapper.
"MANGEUR DE LARD" French, meaning "eater of pork". An inexperienced man. Term came from the fact that men from the settlements ate pork. The diet of the mountain men was buffalo and elk.
"MED BEAVER FER" lit out for, headed for.
"MEK AN INJUN COME" to kill an Injun.
"MEKKIN MEAT" the killing of an animal or a man.
"NAYBOBBIN" chattering or talking.
"NO MORE SIGN EM A SQUAWS HEART" very little sign of enemy or game, expresses it's very hard to tell what's in a woman's heart.
"OLD EPHRAIM" also "Bar", "Grizzly". A Grizzly Bear.
"OLD HOSS" a term to describe someone ("Bill, you ole hoss, I hain't seed you since last ronnyvoo!").
"ON HIS OWN HOOK" on his own or by himself.
"ON THE PERAIRA" "on the prairie", used to mean something is for free.
"ON THE TRAMP" on the move.
"PAINTER MEAT" something good doings.
"PAINTER or PANNER" panther, mountain lion.
"PAUNCH" the stomach or meatbag.
"PALAVER" a corruption of the Portugese "palavra" meaning "to talk".
"PANNER PISS" also called "panther piss". A name given to cheap whiskey.
"PARFLECHE" rawhide for making containers, moccasin soles, shields, and a sort of suitcase. Usually decorated with painted designs. From the French.
"PEMMICAN" Indian word for pounded dried meat combined with dried berries or currants, mixed with melted fat and stored in cakes. It could be eaten as it was or turned into a rich soup by adding water and heating over a fire.
"PILGRIM" a term of contempt to describe someone new to the mountains. Much the same as "greenhorn" or "flatlander".
"PIROGUE" a canoe made by hollowing out a log. French.
"PLEW" a beaver pelt. from the French word for "plus". Also, the Hudson Bay Company used to mark each "made beaver" or pelt with a + in their accounting ledgers.
"PLUCK" courage, guts.
"POPO AGIE" from the Crow language meaning "main river" or "head river". It is located north of the Sweetwater and south of the Big Horn and Wind Rivers. The site of the 1829, 1830, and 1838 rendezvous.
"PORK EATER" a term of contempt to describe the "company man" who usually ate salt pork as part of working for a fur company. (Why would anyone eat pork when they could have elk or buffler?) See: Mangeur de Lard.
"POSSIBLES" small, but highly important collection of valuables the trapper kept by his side in his shooting pouch, which could mean the difference between life and death when put afoot without a rifle. (Read the book "The Saga of Hugh Glass" by Myers)
"PUNCH THE FIRE" stoke up the fire.
"PUPS" children.
"QUEERSOME" funny or odd.
"QUIT THIS ARRER OUT'N ME" cut the arrow out of me.
"REAL BEAVER" the real thing, the best.
"REES" Arikara Indians.
"REGLAR HAWKEN" the very best of something.
"REZZED SOME HAR" lifted a scalp.
"RIGHT THE FIRST WHACK" right on the nose, right on the first try.
"ROBE SEASON" winter.
"ROBE WARMER" an Indian woman.
"RONNYVOO or RONDYVOO" rendezvous. The annual summer get-together when the trappers came down out of the mountains to trade furs, swap gossip, and generally have a good time. This was also when the trappers would buy supplies for the coming year in the mountains. These were held annually from 1825 until 1840 except for 1831 when the supply wagons failed to arrive on time.
"RUNNING MEAT" running game down on horseback.
"SEAL FAT AND SLEAK" animal pelt or horse that is smooth and well fed.
"SHINES" "that shines" means something is suitable or good. Also something very special. ("Thet there flinter of yourn shines, it truly does.")
"SHININ TIMES" a good and memorable experience, prime trapping, something special.
"SHOOT CENTER or PLUM CENTER" a trustworthy rifle.
"SHOT IN THE LIGHTS" shot through the lungs. ("Lights" was what the lungs used to be called.) Here's a note from Shoshone Woman on that very same subject: "I was talking with one of the HBC members one day about the Haggis recipe that they use to make the annual Haggis pie to be eaten at the Ft. Nisqually Bobby Burns Day celebration. They said it was made of liver, lights, and oatmeal all cooked in the paunch of the animal. So I ask what is the lights? and was told that it was the lungs. So there you go."
"SIGN" anythings that tells the trapper something about the country he's in.
"SKELP LOCKED ON TIGHT" expression meaning a trapper good enough to keep his hair.
"SKY PILOT" a preacher.
"SLIK AS SHOOTING" something done very well by trapper standards.
"SNORTIN WITH FUNK" horse animal or man wheezing and coughing after a hard run.
"SOME PUNKINS" something or somebody extraordinarily nice.
"SOURS MY MILK" upsets me.
"SQUAMPSHUS LIKE" nervous or anxious feeling.
"SQUEEZED HIS PRESENTS TWEEN HIS FINGER" gave his gifts grudgingly.
"TAKE A HORN" take a drink.
"THE WHOLE CONSARN" the whole thing.
"THROWING BUFFLER" to shoot a buffalo with one clean shot dropping in his tracks.
"TRAPPERS OATH" pledge of truth in what a man says, taken by placing the muzzle of a rifle in his mouth to signify that he is telling the truth or promises to do something.
"UP TO GREEN RIVER" plunge a knife up to the trade mark on the blade near the handle (Russell Green River Works knives).
"VOYAGEUR"French for traveler. French-Canadian conoe handler. They were thought of as cowards and held in contempt by the free trappers.
"WAAH!" also Waugh! or Wagh! Exclamation of surprise or admiration. Sounded like a grunt.
"WADE INTER HIS LIVER" stab an enemy in the gut.
"WAL, AH'LL BE ET FER A TATER" I'll be damned!
"WATER SCRAPE" the travel though a dry country without water.
"WHOLE SHITEREE" the whole shebang, the whole works.
"WINDIGO" among the French-Canadian voyageur, this was thought to be a creature who stood 20-30 feet tall and who roamed the woods in search of prey. The windigo was described as an eater of human flesh. It was used as a sort of 'boogieman" and probably had its origin amongst the Indians.
"WINTERER" someone who has spent some years trapping in Indian country and who has "wintered over". Also called a "hivernan".
"YABBERIN YAHOOS" screaming Indians or noisy companions.
"YE KIN SLIDE" you're crazy or you can go to hell.

When I was researching mountain man lingo for my book, Yellowstone Heart Song, I thought I would use some of these terms to add authenticity to the story. The more I thought about it, however, the more I decided not to. I wanted to portray my mountain man, Daniel Osborne, as not so much backwoods in the way he spoke, and I justified my logic with the fact that the story takes place a little before the mountain man era was in full swing, so this type of language would not have been around yet. Since he was raised mainly by a native tribe and educated in the east, he would not have had much exposure to the cruder language of the time. Did it work for my story? Did it take away the “authenticity”? So far, I haven’t heard any negative comments from my readers. I know it’s always good to infuse as much authenticity into our stories as possible, especially when we write historicals, but when readers can't understand what they are reading,  it distracts from the story. 



Peggy L Henderson
Western Historical and Time Travel Romance
“Where Adventure Awaits and Love is Timeless”

Award-Winning Author of:
Yellowstone Romance Series
Teton Romance Trilogy
Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series
Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series
Wilderness Brides Historical Romance Series