Saturday, February 22, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

I've been focusing on women who banded together to improve the status of all women in the West and the Country. The year 2020 is the centennial of women receiving the right to vote, but the journey began long before that. For this post, I'll be focusing on Colorado. I hope you enjoy this short exploration.

Image result for alida avery
Dr. Alida Avery
Women Doctors were one of the first groups of women in Colorado who not only strove to help the sick but were also involved with the suffrage movement along with the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Even while still a territory, there were discussions about women's suffrage. Dr. Alida Avery left her position as a physician and professor at Vassar College to move to Colorado in 1874. One here, she was involved in the Colorado and National suffrage movement, traveling and speaking on behalf of women. She also was an early proponent of women being a part of the medical association, requesting membership within two years of her arrival.

On a side note, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was a fictional show that may have been based in part on the life of Dr. Susan Anderson and her work in Fraser, Colorado after she moved there in 1907 over thirty years after the first female doctor, who graduated from a medical school, arrived in Colorado.

By 1881, Colorado was licensing physicians, and women were licensed the same as men if they met the state's qualifications. A look at those who were licensed included a number of women.

It was no just women who were pushing for suffrage. Men were also involved. In 1876 the head of the Colorado Medical Society made waves when he advocated that women be included not only in organizations, but they should attend medical schools on an equal basis.

Image result for early women's suffrage photos colorado
1893 Referendum - Colorado
By the early 1890s, the women regrouped to finish the push for suffrage in Colorado. One of those who helped in that final effort was Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates. She arrived in Colorado in 1879-80 with her husband and settled in Leadville where she was the lone female doctor for a brief while. Moving to Denver because of her husband's ill health, Dr. Bates was active not only on behalf of children in the schools, but also working for the right for women to vote and be a part of the voice making policy for all. The effort paid off. In 1893 the state of Colorado was the first state to make women's suffrage a part of the constitution.

I confess to being in awe of these early women and their commitment to making life better for not only themselves but for others. These histories, while not always explicit in my fiction writing, play a big part in the development of my female characters. What are your 'role models' for your characters? I'd love to know.

I confess the first novel I wrote had a female doctor as the heroine. She was fun to write and has a special place in my heart. Below is an excerpt from that book:

Will didn’t know who he was, where he came from, despite being told his name was Will Murphy. All he knew was this doctor, a woman at that, was an irritant. Since the Haneys, father and son, had brought him in, she had been ordering him about. He was tired of lying in bed. His head felt better, and the cuts and scrapes were healing nicely. It was time to get up and get going. Blasted woman, doctor or not, he figured he knew what was best for himself.
He was going to get up out of the bed. Now that his decision was made, Will swung his legs out from under the covers, only to gasp as the doctor walked in.
Will quickly covered himself with the sheet, for no woman should see a man in his altogether.
What do you think you’re doing?” The soft voice asked. “And don’t be embarrassed, after all, I am a doctor. You have nothing I’ve not seen before,” the voice continued, with a hint of laughter.
That soft voice, so enticing, almost had Will returning to his bed. The doctor’s green eyes were daring him to continue.
Very well, Will thought, I’ll show you. Will continued his journey from the bed. Dropping the sheet, Will moved until his feet touched the floor. With the aid of his arms, Will slowly raised his body up to his feet, precariously balancing on legs that were more feeble than he’d hoped.
Glancing at the doctor, sweat trickling down his nose and cheeks, he braced himself for a scolding, while praying that he could remain upright.
The scolding never came. Instead the doctor, Josie he thought they called her, stood watching him, hands on hips, compressed lips, but with the hint of a smile and admiration in her eyes.
If he believed in love, Will thought, he would fall head over heels right now. That fact that he was wavering probably would have made it a fact, if the good doctor hadn’t spoiled it by asking, Do you feel better now, or should I help you back into bed before you fall?”
Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Corsets for Ranch Women? Not Mine!

In the Victorian Era women were regarded as the weaker sex and corsets were considered a necessity to protect their virtue and support their “fragile” bodies. Tight lacing indicated a virtuous woman, loose lacing a loose woman.
Hourglass corset c. 1878; wikipedia commons, public domain
Of course a corset’s main purpose was to pinch in the waist and push up the bust, making the wearer more appealing to the opposite sex. It didn’t matter that the devices made deep breathing impossible, caused fainting, led to lung infections, deformed internal organs and caused many miscarriages. Yes, maternity corsets were available, but rather than provide helpful support, they were designed to constrict the pregnancy. I hate to think what this did to the mother and baby.

Doctors were well aware of these ill effects. The following is from an article published in the British medical journal, The Lacet and reprinted in the The Times of London.

“Our old friend, tight-lacing, has again made his appearance. ... The folly is one which was formerly to be found mainly in the drawing-room, but now it also fills our streets. ... as medical practitioners, we see its effects every day in the train of nervous and dyspeptic symptoms … and in the still more grave internal mischief of permanent character which is often caused by it.”

Corsets also seriously restricted movement. After donning a chemise to protect the corset from body oil, it was advisable for a woman to put on her drawers, stockings, garters and shoes before being laced up because she wouldn’t be able to bend over afterward.

How could a woman encased in layer upon layer of clothing, bone or metal stays, and laced up tight, ride a horse? Well, there were corsets designed especially for riding, cut higher over the hips to allow sitting in a saddle – a side saddle that is. Ladies did not ride astride, not by society standards.

However, those society ladies didn't perform all the tasks required of a frontier wife and mother. Quoting an article by Susan Jarrett, on her site History of Fashion and Dress:

“While there is evidence of high fashion entering the frontier, it can be surmised that for the average American settler of the early frontier, practicality and functionality mattered more than high style. A frontier family's day was filled with hard labor and long hours. For women, skirt lengths were shorter, necklines higher, and sleeves were close fitting. Both women and children wore large sunbonnets or woven hats to protect their skin from the sun. Aprons and smocks were worn to protect clothing from the laborious chores of frontier life.”

Nowhere does the author mention corsets. Although she was writing about an earlier period (1800-1840) it’s safe to assume the same applied to women on the advancing frontier. If a ranch wife needed to mount a horse and help her husband push cattle, which some did, she would likely pull on a pair of boots, hike up her skirts and ride astride. Alternatively, she might make a split skirt or buy one ready made if available. Such a skirt wasn’t tailored. It contained yards of cotton, wool, corduroy or even denim in later decades. It would be hot and heavy but far more comfortable than a tightly laced corset.

In Dearest Irish the heroine, Rose Devlin, must learn to ride if she’s to save the life of a wild stallion that won’t let anyone but her touch him. A split skirt may preserve her modesty.

Rose met Jack’s stare, reading challenge in his dark eyes. “I would like to try riding him,” she said timidly, wondering where the words came from.
Tye glared at her. “Have ye lost your mind? That fiend would likely kill ye.”
She regarded the stallion, who was now rubbing his neck on the fence rail separating him from herself. His warm brown coat gleamed in the sunlight. Raising his head, he nibbled at her open palm with his lips. It tickled, making her giggle.
“We’re friends. He wouldn’t hurt me, would ye, Brownie?”
“Brownie? You’ve named him? Woman, you’re as daft as Choctaw Jack,” Tye said crossly. Bending close, he whispered, “And ye plied your healing arts on the beastie last night, didn’t ye?”
Rose gave him a tiny smile, not denying his accusation.
Her riding lessons began the next morning. For the first few days, her brother attempted to teach her, but she had trouble getting used to the lady’s saddle, was afraid of falling off and found it impossible to obey his directions. He became impatient and snappish, driving her to tears at one point, until he finally turned her over to Choctaw Jack for instruction. Tye was not happy about the Indian cowboy being her teacher, why she didn’t know, but Lil convinced him his sister would learn more easily from a stranger, for which Rose was very grateful.
Jack insisted she learn to ride on a man’s saddle, saying it was more natural and safer. Tye grumbled but couldn’t say no since his wife pointed out she’d always ridden astride before growing heavy with child. Rose expressed no opinion in the matter until Lil casually mentioned she would need to wear a pair of men’s trousers for riding. Horrified at the thought, Rose stared at her wide-eyed from her chair at the kitchen table, where she sat peeling apples for a pie.
“What? No! I can’t,” she protested.
“Why not? I did,” Lil said, frowning from across the table as she shucked corn for dinner. Her mother stood between them, preparing dough for the pie.
“Ye did? But how could ye display yourself so . . .?” Rose bit back the word she’d been about to utter, not wishing to insult her sister-in-law, but it was too late.
Lil narrowed her eyes. “So brazenly? Is that what you were going to say?”
“I-I meant no offense,” Rose stammered, clutching a paring knife in one hand and a half peeled apple in the other. “But I’m not as b-brave as yourself. I simply can’t wear trousers.”
“Even if it means never riding your Brownie and knowing he’ll be shot?”
“Oh, please don’t say that!” Rose cried. Her eyes filled with tears. Dropping the knife, she clapped a hand over her trembling lips, fighting to hold back a flood of regret.
“There is another way,” Rebecca said. Wiping her hands on the long white apron draped over her dress, she glanced at Rose. “I could make a riding skirt for you.”
“You mean one of those split skirts like Jessie wears?” Lil asked dubiously. “I don’t know how she climbs aboard a horse with all that skirt dragging on her.”
“She manages.” Motioning Rose to her feet, Rebecca looked her up and down carefully. “You are about the same size as your sister. Perhaps she will let me use one of her skirts as a pattern.”
“I’m sure she would,” Rose said, a surge of hope helping to dry her eyes. Recalling the riding skirt she’d once seen on Jessie, she thought she could stand to wear such a garment. Certainly it was better than figure-hugging trousers. If it allowed her to ride Brownie, thereby saving his life, she would do it.
Word was sent to Jessie and she immediately supplied not only a skirt, but the paper pattern she’d used to make it. At Rebecca’s request, Tye escorted Rose and her into Clifton, the nearest town, where Lil’s mother chose a durable corded fabric suitable for their purposes. While there, Tye also outfitted Rose with a plaid work shirt, a pair of thick-heeled western boots, and a Stetson hat much like the one he wore.
Once back at the ranch, Rebecca wasted no time in cutting out the pieces for Rose’s skirt. With Lil pitching in to help, the three of them finished sewing it within two days.
On the morning her lessons were to commence with Jack, Rose hesitantly stepped out of the house wearing her blue plaid shirt and grayish blue riding skirt. She’d pinned her long hair into a tight knot at her nape beneath the brim of her brown hat. Walking cautiously in the unfamiliar boots, she tugged on a pair of leather gloves borrowed from her sister-in-law.
Lil had assured her she looked fine; Tye had merely raised an eyebrow and shrugged at her appearance. Still, when Rose spotted Jack standing by the corral, watching her approach, she blushed hotly, feeling self-conscious in her strange new clothes.
“Morning. You ready to learn?” he asked as she drew near.
“Aye, I’m ready.” Painfully aware of his gaze upon her and his imposing size, she studied the ground. Much to her relief, he made no comment about her changed attire.
“Good. Come on. I saddled Betsy for you,” he said without any inflection in his voice. Ushering her into the corral, he led her over to the quiet mare Tye had previously chosen for her. She was a muddy brown color, not the lovely warm hue of Brownie’s coat, but she was sweet-natured and patient, qualities Rose had come to value during her inept attempts to ride.
“Hello, Betsy,” she murmured, patting the mare’s neck. The animal turned her head and eyed her, perfectly calm.
“The first thing you need to learn is how to mount and dismount,” Jack said. With that, he demonstrated the proper way to do both. Then it was her turn.
She felt horribly exposed with her backside partially outlined by the riding skirt and practically in his face as she clumsily lifted herself into the saddle, but he seemed not to notice. All he did was adjust her feet in the stirrups and order her to sit straighter. Once he was satisfied with her posture, he had her climb down and repeat the process. This went on for close to an hour, with Jack patiently, if somewhat coolly, correcting her mistakes. Finally, he seemed satisfied with her efforts.
“That’s enough for today. I’ll meet you here tomorrow morning,” he said, touching his hat to her.
Lyn Horner is a multi-published, award-winning author of western historical romance and paranormal romantic suspense novels, all spiced with sensual romance. She is a former fashion illustrator and art instructor who resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” - with her husband and two very spoiled cats. As well as crafting passionate love stories, Lyn enjoys reading, gardening, genealogy, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged babies.

Amazon Author Page: (universal link)
Newsletter:  Lyn’s Romance Gazette
Website:  Lyn Horner’s Corner 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

What Kind of Wagon Was my Heroine Driving?

I’m in the final stretch of writing my next Proxy Bride book, A Bride for Hamilton. In it, Sadie, my heroine finds herself married to a well-to-do man out west in Nebraska. The story calls
for her to do some travelling around the area so I’ve had to research how she did so. Would she ride? Would she drive? What kind of transportation options did she have after she arrived in Nebraska by train? Here is a little of my research:

 A single horse could pull a wheeled vehicle and contents weighing as much as a ton! Wow! I had no idea! Apparently their pulling abilities exceed their ability to carry on their back. Here are some of the wagons and carriages that would have existed in the 1850s:

Buckboard Wagon: The no-frills buckboard wagon was commonly used by farmers and ranchers in the 1800s. It was made with simple construction. The front board served as both a footrest and offered protection from the horse’s hooves should they buck.

Gig Carriage: A gig was a small, lightweight, two-wheeled, cart that seated one or two people. It was usually pulled by a single horse and was known for speed and convenience. It was a common vehicle on the road.

Concord Coach: American made Concord coaches were tall and wide and incorporated leather straps for suspension that made the ride smoother than steel spring suspension. They were also extravagant, costing $1000 or more at a time when workers were paid about a dollar a day. Wells, Fargo & Co. was one of the largest buyers of the Concord coach. Today the company still displays its original Concord Coaches in parades and for publicity.

Barouche: A barouche was a fancy, four-wheeled open carriage with two seats facing each other and a front seat for the driver. There was a collapsible hood over the back. It was a popular choice in the first half of the 19th century and was used by the wealthy. It was often pulled by four horses.

Victoria Carriage: The Victoria carriage was named for Queen Victoria and renowned for its elegance. It was a low, open carriage with four wheels that seated two people. It had an elevated seat for the coachman.

Phaeton: The Phaeton was a sporty four-wheel carriage with front wheels that were smaller than the rear wheels. The sides were open and that exposed a gentleman’s trousers or a lady’s skirt to flying mud. The seat was quite high and required a ladder to access. Phaetons were fast, but also high-centered leaving them vulnerable to tipping. They were pulled by two or four horses.

Landau Carriage: The Landau carriage was considered a luxury city carriage that seated four. It had two folding hoods and was uniquely designed to allow its occupants to be seen. It was popular in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Brougham Carriage: Designed by England’s Lord Brougham, the Brougham carriage was lightweight, four-wheeled carriage with an enclosed carriage. It was popular because passengers sat in a forward-facing seat making it easy to see out. It was also lower to the ground and easier for passengers to climb in and out of the carriage. The Brougham was driven by a coachman sitting on an elevated seat or perch outside of the passenger compartment.

Rockaway Carriage: The Rockaway originated on Long Island. It was a popular vehicle with the middle class and the wealthy. One distinguishing feature of the Rockaway was a roof that extended over the driver, while the passengers were in an enclosed cabin.

Conestoga Wagon: The Conestoga wagon was large and heavy and built to haul loads up to six tons. The floor of the wagon was curved upward to prevent the contents from shifting during travel. The Conestoga was used to haul freight before rail service was available and as a means to transport goods. Conestoga wagons were pulled by eight horses or a dozen oxen and were not meant to travel long distances. The Conestoga wagon is credited for the reason we drive on the right side of the road. While operating the wagon, the driver sat on the left-hand side of the wagon. This freed his right hand to operate the brake lever mounted on the left side. Sitting on the left also allowed the driver to see the opposite side of the road better.

So, I have concluded that Sadie was probably using either the buckboard or the gig depending on the situation.

In the meantime, if you’d like to read some of the other proxy bride stories while you’re waiting for Sadie and Hamilton, here is one I'm sure you'll enjoy:

Ransom is just looking for a mother for his orphaned niece. The fact that she’s from Boston is a bonus. Their arrangement allows him to get out of town.

Hannah needs a husband. Her new name will protect her siblings. The fact that he lives in the back of beyond gives them a place to hide. She hadn’t counted on him being so appealing.

But what happens when they realize how very permanent their proxy marriage truly is?

Enjoy this book on Kindle or Free on KU.

I'd love to stay in touch. Please join my Facebook group or Follow me on Instagram.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Raiders of the Civil War by Shirleen Davies

Raiders of the Civil War

Forsaken Falls, book nine in my Redemption Mountain series includes a key sub-plot which has to do with a pro-confederate guerilla group I’ve named Price’s Raiders. Researching bands such as these who came together throughout the Civil War was fascinating, and became the source for this post.

In 1861 Missouri delegates to a statewide convention rejected secession. In turn, several semi-organized groups of raiders quickly formed and guerrilla warfare erupted throughout the Kansas and Missouri area. The pro-confederate forces were called Bushwhackers and the pro-Union guerrillas were known as Jayhawkers.

Quantrill's Raiders
Before the civil war, William C. Quantrill lived in Indian Territory and learned Cherokee guerrilla tactics from his friend, Joel B. Mayes, future chief of the Cherokee Nation. Quantrill served in the Confederate Army for a while, but the disciplined structure of military life didn’t suit him and he left to form a band of fighters in Missouri.
William Quantrill

 Quantrill's Raiders ambushed Union patrols and supply convoys, seized the mail and raided towns on the Kansas-Missouri border. He trained his men in tactics like disguises, synchronized attacks, using multiple .36-cal. Colt revolvers for expanded firepower, hit and run strikes, and how to thin out preplanned escape routes after a skirmish.

Under the Confederate Partisan Ranger Act, Quantrill was granted a field commission as a captain in the Confederate army, but he often referred to himself as a colonel. He usually acted on his own with little regard for his government's policy or orders.

In August 1863 Union authorities imprisoned the female family members of the known guerrillas so they could banish them. Several of these ladies, some were teens, were maimed and killed when the women’s jail collapsed. John Noland, a freed slave, was one of Quantrill's men and his best scout. Noland helped scout Lawrence, then Quantrill led 450 men into the city to avenge the women’s deaths. Quantrill ordered his raiders to kill every man big enough to carry a gun. At least 150 men and boys were shot dead.

After the devastation at Lawrence, Federal General Thomas Ewing, Jr. forced 10,000 men, women, and children on the Missouri border from their homes. Jayhawkers plundered and burned the empty houses and the region became known as the Burnt District. 

12,000 Confederate troops rode in to help Quantrill and the bushwhackers but Federal troops chased the Confederates to Arkansas.  Quantrill fled with his men to Texas. In 1864, a Collin County Texas magistrate, a sheriff, and a third man were lynched in Tyler, Texas to revenge the deaths of two of Quantrill's Raiders, who were killed in a gunfight with a Texas posse.
Bloody Bill Anderson
In 1864 some of the guerrillas left Texas and returned to Missouri in separate bands, commanded by lieutenants "Bloody" Bill Anderson and George Todd. These bands reigned terror on the Missouri River Valley in the summer of 1864, paving the way for Price's Raid when the Confederates tried once more to secure Missouri.

During the raid, the guerrillas massed their forces near the Confederate soldiers. But, Major General Sterling Price failed to adequately use regular and irregular forces simultaneously against the union, so he lost the advantage. He also failed due to the slow progress of the regular force during the raid and the irregulars massing so close to Price's regular troops. Price was defeated and retreated back to Louisiana. Anderson and Todd died. Anderson was reportedly shot north of Orrick. George Todd was shot out of his saddle by a Union sniper, north of Independence, Missouri.
Quantrill's Raiders Reunion 1898

Quantrill took several of his loyal men, a group of 30 guerrillas, and headed east toward Kentucky. There, Quantrill's group of guerrillas were cornered in a barn. A shootout resulted in Quantrill getting wounded in the spine, unable to move. He was arrested but died from his wounds just a week later.

Some of the guerrillas continued under the leadership of Archie Clement, who kept the Raiders together after the war. In 1866, he was killed by the state militia in Lexington. His men became the outlaws known as the James-Younger Gang, which included Jessie James.

There were many other organized guerrilla groups during the Civil War, here are a few:

·    Morgan's Raiders
John Hunt Morgan, known as the thunderbolt of the Confederacy and the great raider, led Morgan’s Raiders, which operated as part of the cavalry forces of the Confederate Army of Tennessee in 1862 and 1863. Morgan also led daring raids into Kentucky as well. In his last raid, he disobeyed orders by crossing the river bordering the state and raiding Ohio and then Indiana as well. He captured nearly 6,000 union troops, destroyed bridges, and fortifications, and ran off livestock. This was the furthest raid north of any organized cavalry invading from the south. Morgan was captured and surrendered in Ohio but later made a daring escape from the Ohio State Penitentiary and returned to service. Morgan's Raiders was mostly disbanded in the late days of the Great Raid of 1863.

Mosby’s Rangers
Even though he stood only five feet tall, the most feared and respected Confederate guerrilla commander was John Singleton Mosby. He was a University of Virginia educated lawyer and a self-educated warrior. His rangers struck Union forces throughout northern Virginia. Stealth was one of the group’s greatest qualities.
John Singleton Mosgy

They would leave the hard roads where the horses’ hooves could be heard and they cut through the grassy fields taking down bars or fences and quietly pass through. They stole supplies, destroyed telegraph lines, and attacked Union patrols, effectively tying down Federal forces behind Union lines in northern Virginia in the last two years of the war. Federal attempts to defeat Mosby's Partisan Rangers fell short of success because Mosby wisely used small units (10–15 men) operating in areas that were friendly to the Confederacy.

      Thomas’ Legion
A regiment of white and anti-Union Cherokee Indians merged into a guerrilla force and fought in the remote mountain back-country of western North Carolina for a month after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. They voluntarily ceased hostilities after capturing the town of Waynesville on May 10, 1865.

Throughout the American Civil War, units of partisan rangers fought bloody campaigns of guerrilla warfare against enemy soldiers as well as civilians. These raiders with loose ties to the Confederate and Union Armies were commanded by men like the infamous William C. Quantrill, who operated outside the standard rules of warfare.

Please take a moment to sign up for my Newsletter and Follow Me on:

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Madstones in the 1800s by Bea Tifton

Those living in the frontier feared rabies and the excruciating death it could cause. One way of cheating this horrible illness of its victim was through the use of madstones. 

Before madstones there were bezoars. A bezoar is a lump of stone-like material that forms when calcium and magnesium phosphate build up around plant fibers, hair, or a pebble, much like a stone hairball, in the digestive track of a ruminant such as a camel, an ox, an antelope, a goat, or a llama.  The stomach contracts and smooths the bezoar into a round shape. The word “bezoar” is derived from pad-zahr, a word that means “anecdote” in Persian.  The bezoars were thought to cure poison, leprosy, measles, cholera, and depression.  Arabian doctors began using bezoars in the 8th century. In the 12th century, they were introduced to western medicine as a cure for poisoning, and monarchs were very interested in them as that was a common means of assassination. Queen Elizabeth I had a bezoar set into a silver ring.

Pioneers who contracted rabies could expect to experience flu like symptoms, followed by anxiety, confusion, and agitation. The unfortunate victim would go on to experience hallucinations, hydrophobia, and insomnia. When these symptoms appeared, the disease was almost always fatal.

 Pioneers obtained madstones from the stomachs of deer or cows. Some users maintained that there were rules regarding the madstones. They must never be bought or sold. The shape must not be altered (so no silver rings). The patient must seek the madstone, as opposed to the madstone being brought to a patient. The owner of the madstone should not charge for its use. It was generally passed down through families, especially from father to son.

 When the madstone was obtained, it was boiled in milk, then applied directly to the bleeding wound. If there was the presence of rabies in the wound, the madstone would stick to the bite wound.  When the stone fell off the wound, the madstone was boiled in milk again until the milk turned green, signifying that the rabies was out of the stone.  The stone was reapplied to the wound and the process repeated until the stone no longer stuck to the wound. Then, the patient would not get rabies. Madstones are porous so they could stick for hours.

In Forgotten Tales of Texas, Clay Coppedge writes that that some doctors on the frontier actually carried one or two madstones. One such doctor was Benjamin Tomas Crumley, who was half Cherokee. Crumley studied traditional herbal medicine with the tribal elders and also attended a Parisian medical school. His use of madstones reportedly had a high success rate. 

When Warren Angus Ferris, a pioneer surveyor who plotted out a settlement called Warwick that was later renamed Dallas, was bitten in the leg by a rabid raccoon, he borrowed a madstone from a neighbor posthaste. Ferris later recorded the experience in his diary. “The evaporating water could be seen as it was boiling at every tube, and I could feel a distinct burning sensation in the wound such as I would presume would be induced by a minute blister of flies.” (Forgotten Tales of Texas, Coppedge) He never did come down with rabies.

McPhail Madstone of Houston County

How did the madstones work? No one knows. Perhaps some people wouldn’t have died, anyway. A person bitten in the head or the face by a rabid animal has a 90% chance of getting rabies. A person bitten on the bare arm or leg has a 40% chance, but a person bitten through clothing only has a 10% chance. Often the seeker of the madstone may not have been sure if the animal who bit him really was rabid. “On the frontier, where rabid animals outnumbered doctors, people didn’t take any chances.” (Coppedge, Forgotten Tales of Texas.)  By the 20th century, the madstone was mostly relegated to folklore.  

Coppedge, Clay. Forgotten Tales of Texas.
Fick, Lorraine. “The Magical Medicine of Bezoars.”
Muncrief, Dennis. “The Madstone: Truth or Myth.”