Sunday, July 28, 2013


My birthday is July 28th. I share my special day with Jackie O., and only one other person I’ve actually met in my lifetime—my daughter’s best childhood friend, Hailey.

I always loved that my birthday came in July. The Oklahoma weather was traditionally hot. In those early years, we dressed in our best party dresses, wore white anklets and Mary Janes, and always, there were beautifully wrapped gifts (no gift bags in those days!) and a marvelous homemade cake.

My sixth birthday is one I remember vividly. We were in the process of moving, and our furniture hadn’t arrived. Mom never bought cakes, but this was an exception. She bought the only chocolate cake the store had—a German chocolate cake—forgetting that I was “the one” who didn’t like coconut. We pulled out the kitchen drawers, turned them on end and used them for makeshift chairs around our “table”—a large wardrobe box turned on its side. The same day we were moving in, another family was doing the same thing, just down the street. The best birthday gift of all? They had a little girl my age! Jane became my best friend. (This is a picture of Jane--who also had a July birthday and was a year older than I was--playing in my sandbox when we were around 8 and 9 years old.)

Slumber parties were popular in later years. Parents endured a houseful of giggling, rambunctious elementary school-aged girls for the longest night of their lives…until the next year rolled around.

Costume parties were another fad. The pictures that my parents took of a costume party I had for my tenth birthday are unforgettable. I remember how much fun we all had, figuring out “who” or “what” we were going to be. Amidst a hippie, a leprechaun, and Indian princess, and a gypsy, I was a hula dancer. My oldest sister had just returned from a year of college studies in Hawaii, and I had a brand new grass skirt that needed to be broken in. My good friend DaNel, who’d moved just across the street, wore my kimono—another present from my sister. This was before Pizza Hut—we ate hot dogs for dinner.

And what about skating parties? Do any of you remember those? We had a skating rink with a wooden floor (yes, this definitely shows you how old I am!) and we never tired of skating around and around, couples skating, all boys, all girls, backward skate—the changeups were endless, as were the games.

This month I’ll celebrate a milestone birthday—number 56. I don’t mind getting older at all—hey, I can get my discount at IHOP now!

In my book, FIRE EYES, Frank Hayes, the youngest of the deputy marshals, has made an embarrassing and potentially deadly mistake. Though Kaed Turner, the main character, survives, Frank has made the decision to give up law enforcement. Kaed seeks him out, along with Travis Morgan, another marshal, to have a talk with him about it. He shows Frank that no matter what, he’s part of a different kind of family now. Birthday reminiscing is how the difficult conversation begins.


“Well, Frank, I expect you’ll remember to tell someone next time, won’t you?” Kaed said quietly.

“Won’t be a next time, Mr. Turner. I don’t b’lieve I’m cut out for this.”

Travis started forward, but Kaed put a staying hand on his arm. Travis met his eyes and Kaed shook his head. He came toward Frank slowly. When he got within arm’s length, he stopped.

“How old are you, Frank?”

“Twenty. Or close enough. My birthday’s next month. My ma, she always made a cake.” He glanced around at Kaed, a flush staining his neck, making its way into his face. “Chocolate,” he mumbled, “if she could get it.”

Kaed gave him a half-smile and closed the last bit of distance between them. “You’re awful lucky, Frank. I lost my mother when I was just shy of nine. I’m not sure I even remember exactly when my birthday is. But, that’s not really important, anymore.”

Frank nodded, but didn’t look at him. He kept his eyes fixed on the gently swirling water of the creek.

Kaed went on. “When you became a marshal, you got another family. We all share the same life, the same dangers, the same loneliness of bein’ out on the trail.”

Frank shuddered, his lips compressing tightly. “I know you’re right, Mr. Turner.”

When he didn’t continue, Kaed said, “I’m not mad at you, Frank. Anybody can make a mistake. Travis, here, he was a couple of years older than you when he made his big one.”

Travis drew his breath in, and Kaed turned to give him a quelling glance. “Right, Trav?”

Travis nodded.

Kaed turned back to Frank. “You’ll have to get Trav to tell you about it.” He spoke easily, as one friend would to another, as if he thought Travis and Frank were on amicable terms.

Frank gave a short, brittle laugh. “I don’t think Travis Morgan is gonna talk to me about any mistake he ever made.”

“Trav, come on up here,” Kaed said.

Travis slowly stepped forward to join Frank and Kaed, swallowing tightly. “Frank, I guess I need to say—”

“You better do more than guess what you need to say, Travis,” Kaed said, his tone cool.

Travis glanced at Kaed and flushed. He nodded. When he turned back to Frank, his green eyes were apologetic. “I gave you a hell of a rough time, Frank. I’m sorry for that.” He extended his hand. “Will you accept my apology?”

Kaed looked at Frank expectantly. He felt like an older brother overseeing two younger, quarreling siblings, forcing them back to brotherhood once more. But Kaed knew he was the only one who could end this discord between them.

Hesitantly, Frank reached for Travis’s hand and shook. “Sure. Forget it.”

“All right. Now let’s hear no more of this business of you givin’ up marshaling, Frank,” Kaed said. “You trained with Lem Polk, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. I think that might be my problem.”

Kaed nodded, sure that it was. “You ride with Travis for the next few months, see if he can’t teach you what you need to know.”

Both Travis and Frank started to speak, but Kaed held up a hand, giving them both a hard, cutting look. “Make your peace, boys. Travis, I expect you to teach him everything I taught you.”

I’ll be giving away a copy of FIRE EYES today to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment about one of your own birthday celebrations to be entered in the drawing. Thanks so much for coming by today!

I also have a free short story at Amazon through today, July 28! It's called THE WISHING TREE--a contemporary Christmas romance for Christmas in July with my publisher.
All my works are available at Amazon here:

Friday, July 26, 2013


I live in North Central Texas on the Fort Worth side of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The town of Mineral Wells is a couple of counties to the west. This town bears that name for a very good reason.  Each summer they hold a Crazy Water Festival. There are several versions of how Crazy Water acquired the name, but here is the one most often recorded.

Brazos River near Mineral Wells, Texas

The first well was dug by a Mr. Elder when he tired of hauling water from the Brazos River nearby. At first his family refused to drink the water because of the smell. When the cattle appeared to show no ill signs from drinking the well water, the family tried it. Mrs. Elder's rheumatism disappeared and Mr. Elder's stomach problems also disappeared. Word spread, and soon neighbors were lining up to buy water.

One nearby family had a terrible burden. The wife/mother was truly crazy in the medical sense of the word. Probably she was bi-polar, but that definition wasn’t around then. Her family and neighbors only knew the woman was nuts.Her husband dug a well and struck water. After drinking the water, the woman became more and more normal until, eventually, she was cured—as long as she drank the water. Word spread and soon neighbors were hauling “Crazy Water” from that magical well, hoping it would cure whatever ailed them. (I think they should have called it “Sanity Water.”)

Little did they know, the reason for the miraculous result was the well was dug through a shaft of lithium—the same lithium used today to treat severe depression and similar disorders. Although other wells in the area carry lithium, they also have high mineral content including bicarbonate of soda, calcium, and phosphate, hence the name of the town Mineral Wells. And it is plural. Numerous artesian wells in this area produced healing water for those suffering stomach complaints and rheumatism and arthritis. Bathing in the water high in carbonated salts eased aching joints and muscles.

Crazy Water Crystal Plant then

An industry evolved in which the water was distilled and the salt crystals sold nationwide in every form from small packets of salts,  “crystals,” bottles, soaps, and large jars. In fact, that business is still going today.  A customer can buy bottled water or crystal packets. Caution, although this highly mineralized water helps certain stomach complaints, I was told it also creates kidney stones and gall stones.

Famous Water Company
Mineral Wells, Texas
as it looks today

One antiquish collectible I own is a green quart-bottle from Wizard Wells, a Crazy Water competitor. My husband and I drove to the site of the old Wizard Wells baths and bottling plant, but were disappointed to find only brush. There were numerous other competitors, but Famous Water Company with its Crazy Water is the only survivor of these once thriving businesses. Although we heard a report of one place that offered mud baths, we were unable to locate the establishment. Now it appears, the young couple who purchased the Famous Water Company have revived the practice of mineral baths. 

Baker Hotel

Moving on i my saga, the Baker Hotel was built in 1926. This luxury hotel featured baths, swimming pool, massage rooms, mud baths, and all the services expected at a luxury health resort hotel. It had air-conditioning and ice water was piped into each room. A bowling alley was built under the swimming pool. The garage was reached through a tunnel under Highway 80 (now Hwy 180) to a parking building across the street. Of course, in an opulent establishment like the Baker, residents did not park their own cars. Famous people from across the nation stayed there and include Bob Hope, Marlene Dietrich, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, the Andrews Sisters, the Dorsey Band, and my hero Roy Rogers. And many of them performed in the elegant ballroom.

Sadly, the Baker Hotel and the Crazy Water Hotel nearby have seen better days. The Baker is an empty shell, stripped of all its fixtures by a previous owner who auctioned them off and then declared bankruptcy. Attempts to raise the several million dollars required to restore this grand old landmark have been unsuccessful. At last there is interest from a buyer and hope blossoms that the day will come when this beautiful structure will be renewed.

The Crazy Water Hotel, which is built on the site of the first well, has fared only slightly better. It has been converted to an assisted living facility for elderly residents. At least the large bedrooms are an improvement over most such establishments. I wonder if the hotel residents drink the famous water and suffer from fewer medical complaints? From the south windows of the Crazy Water Hotel, one can view the sales offices of Famous Water Company where water, salts, crystals, and soaps are sold. Recently, baths have been added. At least a small portion of the legacy continues. Here's a video from ABC's WFAA - Chanel 8 in Dallas:


Wednesday, July 24, 2013


First off, congratulation to Will and Kate on the birth of the Prince of Cambridge! 

My family is awaiting such an arrival. Our daughter-in-law is expected to deliver any day. Her due date is the 26th. We know it’s a boy, and his arrival is greatly anticipated by his older sisters, ages six and four. This is the 3-D ultrasound picture of the new baby. Amazing, isn’t it? 

Remember when ultrasounds first came out? Those gray and white pictures that didn’t look like anything. I must admit, I was like Rachel on Friends, I just couldn’t ‘see’ a baby no matter how hard I tried.

Plenty of things with birth control, pregnancy and childbirth have changed over the years. Here are a few tidbits from the 1800’s: 

Not including miscarriages and still births, the average American woman in the 1800’s gave birth to six children.

To maintain modesty, doctors were to have ‘eye contact’ with their patients and exams were performed only by touch.

Pain during childbirth was expected, but in the mid-1800’s chloroform was offered to some upper-class woman. The pain reliever soon became more acceptable. Easily obtainable, any one assisting with a birth could administer it. Mid-wives, family members, etc. and overdoses were not uncommon.

During this time, when more lower-class women were working outside of the home, postpartum rest (in the years before this included up to a month of ‘lying in’) eroded. Women were expected back at work the day after giving birth, especially those in domestic positions.

If a woman couldn’t breast feed, or afford a wet-nurse a ‘pap’ was created from bread, water, and sugar. Milk was added weeks later.

Actual maternity clothes were not ‘invented’ until 1906, before then women adapted the dresses they had to accommodate their ever growing middle. 

‘Bandages’ or ‘support girdles’ were sometimes worn to support the stomach. There was a ‘pregnancy corset’ which hid their growing abdomen so women could participate in social activities long into their pregnancies, but doctors did advocate not lacing it too tightly.

Up until the 1920’s most babies were born at home, hospital births were only for the very poor. There was also the fear of disease due to sanitary measures in most hospitals.   

Birth control—a very common prevention method was nursing. Women nursed their babies until the age of two which for many prolonged their infertile period.

Condoms, sponges, diaphragms and douching were a few other methods, however, these were used mainly by ‘ladies of ill repute’ and were not promoted to prevent pregnancy, but to stay free from venereal diseases.

At the time, there was nothing greater a woman could give her husband than a houseful of children. If a woman was encouraged to refrain from having another child due to complications, abstaining from sexual intercourse was the prescription given. Separate bedrooms, or long vacation where one spouse or the other went to live with family, were often the way couples attempted to follow doctor’s orders. 

My latest release, The Cowboy Who Caught Her Eye features a pregnant heroine.

Pregnant and unmarried, Molly Thorson knows her livelihood is under threat. The last thing she needs is a distracting cowboy swaggering into view. Especially one who knows she has a secret and still looks at her with desire in his eyes.  

Carter Buchanan knows all about secrets. It's his job to know. And Molly sure has something to hide. But the fear in her eyes touches a place he thought long-ago dead-and now this cowboy can't help but consider exchanging his pistol for a band of gold.... 


Monday, July 22, 2013

A Family Affair--a post by new author Carra Copelin

By Carra Copelin
First I'd like to thank Sweethearts of the West for having me today and for allowing me to announce the launch of my first book, CODE OF HONOR. You are all so gracious.
Families. Sometimes we love 'em, sometimes we hate 'em, but in the end, if we're lucky, we all have 'em. There are a few sayings we throw around, Relatives and fish after three days . . . , You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family, or I can tease you and call you names, but I'll punch anybody else in the nose if they try. In our formative years, the family unit is important in giving us a sense of place or belonging and forms our ideas of relationship, loyalty and honor to each other.

When our country was in its early years and expanding to the West and Southwest, family took on an even greater meaning. Farms and ranches were miles from town isolating people. Working the land and animals was impossible without someone to lend a hand. Limited funds or no money at all precluded hiring the number of hands needed. Large families helped because, by having many children, they provided their own workforce.
There are, unfortunately, children who for one reason or another are without family. They end up in the "system" as we call it, being raised by foster families. Set in North Central Texas in the fictitious town of McTiernan, Code of Honor touches on Bridey McTiernan Benning and her husband Andrew. Early on in their marriage, they wanted a large number of children to dote on and to whom they could pass on the family McTiernan and Benning ranches. They learned shortly after their first child, Wyatt, was born that he would be an only child. Bridey and Andrew became foster parents and found their niche. The books in the series touch on the current lives of each foster or adopted child raised by this couple.

 The following is a blurb and an excerpt for my first Texas Code Series, CODE OF HONOR.
Graeme McAlister has returned home to Texas to discover why his foster brother overdosed on morphine and crashed the company jet. The idea makes no sense, but the NTSB and coroner's reports both confirm suicide. Graeme's determined to unearth the truth and return to Washington, D.C. but, when he sees his brother's widow, will he be able to handle the biggest revelation of all?

Graeme McAlister
A widow at the age of twenty-eight, Maggie Benning, resolves to establish a successful and independent life for herself and her five-year-old son, Andy. Her initial goal is getting back her RN job at the hospital ER where she was accused of stealing the drugs that killed her husband ten months ago. She's reconstructing her shattered life when Graeme McAlister comes back to McTiernan, Texas and stirs up old memories and feelings she thought long buried. Can she overcome past hurt and loss of trust to accept the possibility of a new love in her life?

Maggie Benning
Maggie took her place behind the scarred, antique oak bar. She tied a worn bleached-white apron over her jeans, gathered the empty glasses and bottles and swiped a bar towel over the sticky remnants of beer and mixed drinks spilled earlier in the afternoon.

She looked across the bar, through layers of swirled smoke, to the handful of customers sitting at tables surrounding the dance floor. Businessmen and good old boys exchanged stories from their day while enjoying the frigid indoor temperature, band members set up their equipment, and a few cowboys played pool off to the far right.

Two men sat at a table in a shadowed back corner, their heads angled close in deep conversation. It was too dark to see their faces, but they appeared almost angry at times, each taking his turn stabbing the tabletop with an index finger to make his point. Maggie wondered what their story was. Were they discussing a major transaction, ranchers making a deal or enemies settling a score?

Before her imagination could run any other direction, Harry walked up with a stack of clean towels. He placed them on a shelf behind the bar then stood between her and her curiosity, effectively blocking her view.
* * *
Jaw clenched and tense as a bull rider waiting for the gate to spring open, Graeme stared at the drink in his hand as his older brother took verbal swings at his character.

"Now that you're back, do you have the balls to stay, or are you going to turn tail and disappear again?" With that final sarcastic shot, he finally shut-up.

Graeme pushed upright in his chair to loosen the kinks from his back and shoulders. Every muscle screamed a protest at being bunched in a knot.

Elliott's words stung like the slap of Andrew's hand the first time Graeme had openly defied an order. He supposed, in all fairness, his brother had a right to ask the question. Whether one was born a Benning or raised as one, family meant everything. And, while he hadn't had a choice on whether to go or stay, he hadn't been available when the family had needed him.

While Graeme didn't have an answer yet, he damn sure had a few questions of his own for Dallas County's Assistant District Attorney.

Graeme took a swig from his longneck as Elliott mirrored his actions. They were, he thought, like two grade school opponents sizing each other up on the playground at recess. Graeme swiped at the condensation on the beer bottle while deciding where to begin.

"So Wyatt never contacted you, at any time, before the crash? You had no idea he was in trouble?"

"No. Not a clue." Elliott shifted in his chair, repositioned his beer. His foster brother made it apparent that he was unaccustomed to being questioned. Either that or there was something else he wasn't saying.


"Nothing . . ." Elliott swiped at a water puddle under the bottle. "It's nothing."

"Look, if we're going to get to the bottom of this, we have to level with one another. What were you going to say?"

"You know Wyatt. He was never like the rest of us. He didn't act out, never bucked the system. He always kept things bottled up."

"Yeah, that goody two-shoes act used to piss me off. We could never wheedle anything out of him." Graeme shook his head and grinned.

"Well, it was the same thing this time, except…"

"Elliott," Graeme ground out his brother's name, huffed out a sigh in exasperation. "Stop dragging this out. What?"

"Maggie came to the office about a month prior to the accident. She asked me for the name of a good divorce attorney."

That news ripped through Graeme like a shot.  After digesting it for a minute, he asked, "Did you give her one?"

"Yeah, I did."

Graeme leaned toward the table, rested his forearms against the edge. "Did she go? Did she file?"

"No." Elliott picked up his bottle, drained its contents then answered sadly, "Whether or not she intended to, I don't know, because the next time I saw her, Wyatt was dead. Soon after the funeral, she moved in with that ditzy friend of hers like she didn't want anything to do with the family."

"Is that when you decided to charge her with theft of the morphine Wyatt likely overdosed with? When she was alone and vulnerable?"

Elliott scowled. "D.A. Harrison was relatively new in his job and still trying to impress the good people of Dallas County."

Snorting in disgust, Graeme ground out, "And he did it at Maggie's expense."

"Yeah, but not without cause. The drugs disappeared from the hospital's inventory and the investigators narrowed the time down to Maggie's shift."

"What did she have to say about that?"

"She denied stealing the drugs, of course."

"You don't really think she did, do you?"

"I don't want to, but . . . hell, I don't know," Elliott said with a sigh. "You knew her better when we were growing up. Do you think she's capable?"

Graeme pushed his chair away from the table. "I think I should talk to Maggie to get her side of the story."

Elliott leaned back in his own chair, sported a grin, and glanced past him. "Somehow I don't think you'll have to go far."

Graeme swiveled around to see Maggie standing behind the bar.  While he tried to decide whether to go up to her now or wait until tomorrow, Maggie looked out across the room and made eye contact.
Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West blog today. I hope you enjoyed my post and excerpt for my book, CODE OF HONOR, which is available at 
on in ebook and paperback and at  
on for print.

In honor of my book launch, I'm offering a free download from Amazon to one person who comments on this post. Please remember to leave your email if you wish to be considered for the drawing.
Currently, I'm working on the second book in the Texas Code Series, CODE OF CONSCIENCE.
Visit my website :
Twitter: http://twitter/CarraCopelin


Tags: Texas, Carra Copelin, family, CODE OF HONOR, Southwest, foster children

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saddle Up, Cowpokes!

Cowgirl hat banner
 My husband gave me the idea for this post. He asked me how cowboys got their saddles in the old days. Where were they made? I replied that there must have been saddle makers located in frontier towns, but I didn’t really know because I’d never investigated the subject. How could I neglect such an important matter? I’m a western historical author, for gosh sakes!

Photo from Wikipedia commons
Donning my researcher’s hat, I went hunting for a definite answer on the net and quickly confirmed my assumption. There were indeed many saddle makers in the Old West. Today, I’d like to tell you about three brothers who became famous in the trade here in Texas. They were Tom, Clint and Jesse Padgitt.

 The three boys came to Texas from Tennessee with their family in 1853. They first settled in Houston, where their father and older brother Bob died of yellow fever in 1854. Their mother succumbed to the same disease four years later, leaving twelve-year-old Tom to provide for his two younger brothers and sister. They managed to survive until a few months later when their uncle, Tom Bond arrived. An experienced saddle maker, he opened a shop in Houston, and in 1859, he put Tom and Clint to work as apprentices.

 During the Civil War, the Padgitts crafted saddles and harnesses at the Confederate arsenal in Houston. Younger brother Jesse earned money as a newsboy on the Houston streets. Years later, he recalled seeing the paper roll off a press powered by a horse walking on a treadmill.

After the war, the South was bankrupt. Texas railroads didn’t resume building for five years, all except the Houston and Texas Central. In July 1867 Tom Padgitt headed for the end of the line of the H and TC, where he opened a shop to supply harness for teamsters hauling supplies for the railroad. In 1869 Clint joined Tom’s business in Bryan, Texas. Now the home of Texas A & M University, Bryan was a rowdy railroad camp back then. The Padgitts’ shop was located next to a saloon.

 As the railroad progressed northward, Tom moved with it, opening a shop at each town along the way. When the Waco and Northwestern Railroad, a branch of the H and TC, reached Waco, Tom decided to settle in that growing city with his wife and family. (He married three times, losing his first wife in childbirth and his second to apoplexy – a stroke.)

Tom’s business flourished and he contributed greatly to Waco’s development. The Tom Padgitt Company became famous across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, supplying saddles for Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show and to celebrities such as Will Rogers. Eventually, Tom even traded in South America.

RT Dennis & Co. and Tom Padgitt Inc. Buildings, Waco, Texas (Destroyed in Waco tornado of 1953) Courtesy Baylor University Texas Collection

Meanwhile, Clint and Jesse were making saddles in Bryan, Corsicana and other wide open towns along the H and TC tracks. Jesse, who lived to the ripe old age of 97, recalled having to sleep on the floor of his shop in Grosebeck with kegs of trace chains protecting him from bullets whizzing through the flimsy walls from the gambling house next door.

Courtesy Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection
In 1873, Clint and Jesse joined forces to open Padgitt Brothers in Dallas, at that time a wild west town of wooden shacks, board walkways and muddy streets surrounding the courthouse square. The Padgitts set up shop in a two story brick building on the west side of the square with a sign over their door reading “Manufacturers and Wholesalers of Horse Collars, Harness and Saddlery Goods." Padgitt saddles were already in great demand, and like their older brother in Waco, Clint and Jesse prospered. Their trademark was the “Bronco Brand”, depicting a cowboy riding a bucking horse in a Padgitt saddle.

Courtesy Dallas Public Library Digital Collection
Dallas was a hub of trade, supplying freighters and ranchers across the vast Texas prairie and beyond. Soon, Padgitt Brothers moved into larger quarters, again and again expanding until finally settling in the five story Padgitt Bros. building. But they weren’t done growing yet. In 1900 they built a six story factory and spread out to show their line of buggies and carriages.

There were other pioneer saddle makers in Dallas, and by 1908 it was the saddle market capital of the world. For further history of the Padgitt brothers and the saddle trade, refer to these sites:
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Butch Cassidy: Good Guy or Villain

I guess most of us remember the famous movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid. In the movie, they were portrayed as witty, fun loving men who just happened to rob banks and railroads for a living. Robert Redford liked his character so much he named his film festival Sundance. At the end of the movie, the two sort-of heroes are battling it out with the government officials in Bolivia, South America after they robbed a mining payroll and we assumed they both died that day.

So, is that what Butch Cassidy was really like? Was he a happy-go-lucky guy who just made a living by stealing, or is there more to the story? Did good ol’ Butch have a dark side? And did Butch die that November day in Bolivia with his friend, Sundance?

First, a few factoids: Butch Cassidy’s real name was Robert Leroy Parker and he was born in Utah to Mormon parents on April 13, 1866. I guess that would make him a post Civil War baby like my Grandfather McNeal who also was born the year after the Civil war. He worked as a rancher and a butcher before he took up his life of crime. Cassidy formed the Wild Bunch gang in 1896 after he got out of a short term in prison and they went on a string of robberies unmatched in American history. The Union Pacific Railroad exerted great effort as well as the U.S. government to do something about the robberies and the pressure on Cassidy became so great he intended to surrender, but when that didn’t work out, he fled to Bolivia with the Sundance Kid.

With theatrical license, movies about Butch Cassidy and his partner seem to tell the story of two guys who hated violence and were just having a good time, but as it turns out, Butch wasn’t exactly a nice guy. He actually murdered innocent people.

There is a bit of mystery surrounding Butch Cassidy’s death. Some report that he died with his partner and friend, Sundance at that shoot-out in Bolivia on November 6, 1908, but there is evidence that suggests he may have escaped and returned to the United States to live in obscurity until July 28, 1938. Since there is dispute between historians about the date of his death, I suppose we will never really be certain about when he died. I am of the mind that a good mystery is always way more intriguing than cut and dry facts. Until I did this research, I always thought that Paul Newman’s portrayal of Butch Cassidy was the whole truth and nothing but. I have to admit that I am disappointed to learn that Butch Cassidy was just a villain after all.



A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny.

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FOR LOVE OF BANJO (western/WWI historical and sequel to Harmonica Joe) 

Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.



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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Numbers--Tanya Hanson

I do have a new release (Midnight Bride), but I'll regale you with that next time. You see, I'm on my way to Atlanta, GA for the Romance Writers of America's national conference. My very first time South...unless one count's DisneyWorld which I really don't. One of my scheduled outings is a visit Thursday night to the Margaret Mitchell House where some great-big-name romance authors are doing an evening reading!

So...that immediately reminded me of Gone With the Wind. Then came to mind other Civil War stuff that has fascinated me, such as the Jimmie Stewart classic movie Shenandoah.  (I just read that Sam Elliott fell in love with Katharine Ross the first time he saw this movie!)  Recent visits to Gettysburg and Harpers Ferry reinforced its allure. Peeking through a flea market find (Civil War Trivia and Fact Book by Webb Garrison) pointed out some wonderful tidbits that I thought inquiring minds might want to know.

1.  Only 28 percent of the 30,500 miles of railroads in 1860 lay in Confederate territory.
2.  The two warring capitals, Washington DC and Richmond, VA, are only 100 miles apart. 

3.  Seven states had announced their secession at the time of Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. (Can you name them?**  See below.)

4.  86 percent of the United States’ manufacturing firms were located in the North.

5.  38 percent of the Confederacy’s population were slaves.

6. Diarrhea, including dysentery, was the most common ailment in the camps and claimed the lives of 44,000 Union soldiers.

7.  More than 68 American Revolutions could have been financed for the estimated cost of the Civil War.

8.  During the years of the conflict, 2,778,304 men were enlisted in all the branches of the Union forces.

9.  Four states were classified as “border states”, meaning they remained in the Union but had strong ties to the South. (Can you name them?*** See below.)

10. New Orleans was the Confederacy’s largest city, with an 1860 census of 168,000.

11. New York, with its 1860 population exceeding 800,000, was the North’s largest city.

12. Due to inflation in the Confederacy, the price of a pound of tea was $10.00 by the end of 1862.

13.  On New Year’s Day 1865, 55 percent of the Confederate fighting forces was listed as AWOL.

14. The tallest man in the Union forces was Captain Van Buskirk of the 27th Indiana.  Six feet, ten and one-half inches.

15.  The shorted man in the Union forces was a private in the 192nd Ohio.  Three feet, four inches.

16.  There were 33 states in the Union in 1860.

17.  In 1861, a Union soldier’s monthly salary was $13.

18.  As president of the United States, Abe Lincoln’s annual salary was $25,000.

19.  About 200,000 blacks eventually served in the Union army and navy.

20.  Union regiment, the First Minnesota, lost 82 percent at Gettysburg, the highest percentage of one-battle casualties.

21. By the war’s end, 12,912 graves had been filled at infamous Andersonville Prison. (total deaths is believed much higher.) 

22.  When Harper’s Ferry fell to Stonewall Jackson, he seized 73 cannon and 13,000 small arms from the arsenal there. And 10,000 prisoners.

23. Thirty six (36) horses were needed to pull the six guns of a standard field battery, three pairs in tandem per gun.

24.  Six Confederate generals were killed at Gettysburg.

25.  Black troops participates in 450 battles and skirmishes.

26.  The most popular handgun in the North with about 200,000 manufactured between 1860-1872 was the Colt Army and Navy revolver.

27.  The weight of a shell thrown by a 13-inch mortar (the largest in use then) was 220 pounds.

28.  Three of the 2,300 Federal chaplains, received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I hope you didn’t mind a history lesson today! Which fact did you find the most interesting?

** South Carolina; Mississippi; Florida; Alabama; Georgia; Louisiana, and Texas.

*** Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri