Friday, May 2, 2014


By-Kirsten Arnold

Thanks to the Sweethearts for inviting me back 'round their campfire! For me, this is a very special post. It is the first time I get to announce the publication of one of my stories!  I’m honored to join the Prairie Rose Publication gang of ace-high talented authors in the summer anthology, LASSOING A GROOM!  Please excuse me as I scream my throat dry. YEEEEE-HAW!

I hope y’all will snatch up a copy when it appears on virtual bookshelves.  My story, RACE TO MARRY, features a bronc rider who gets bulldogged by a wild Wyomingite gal and is convinced to race for her heart.  (We Wyomingites tend to be a bit unconventional).  

Let’s head to the Sheridan fairgrounds and get a look at the actual 1909 Wild West Show that planted a seed in my mind and grew into a story.

The October 2, 1909, and October 5, 1909 issues of the Sheridan Daily Enterprise, reported on a Wild West Show and rodeo organized by Jim Jennings.  The show ran from Thursday through Saturday, but it was so thrilling and drew such large crowds that a half-page ad in Saturday’s paper announced a special show was planned for Sunday.  “IF YOU DON’T ATTEND IT WILL BE YOUR LOSS: THE SHOW COMMENCES AT 1:30!”

From the accounts in the newspaper, the participants were Sheridan locals or from neighboring communities. Events included a marathon, a hold up of the Deadwood stage, roping and tying exhibition, a relay foot race with four teams, a wild horse race, and a pony express ride; just to name a few.

One of the novelty races was the midnight race. “The most laughable event of the day.” Contestants started 200 yards from the wire and rode to the front of the grandstand. There they donned longshirts, mounted and raced around the track. For this race “A fast horse counted for little…It was the handy man with a shirt who won.”

For another race contestants were required to carry umbrellas. Then they rode to the wire where they “turn their coats wrong side out, light a cigar and ride with umbrellas raised.”
While the novelty races and trick exhibitions entertained the crowds, two events stole the show: bronco-busting and the race for the bride.  Reports in the Enterprise, exhibit the bronco-riding held quite a few exhilarating moments.  “Corkscrew, a wild outlaw, threw every man, Bud rich went down like the sound of a pile driver hitting the top of a wet log.”

“Clyde Brown on Aeroplane had a narrow escape in his broncho [sic] busting contest. He was thrown and his foot caught. People averted their heads for fear the crazed horse would stamp the man to death. But by a dexterous twist Brown himself got loose from his perilous position in safety.”

But the climax of the bronco-busting was the ride of Jim Jennings on the back of Corkscrew.  Jennings was a Sheridan local with a ranch on Mead Creek, fourteen miles from town. He traveled with Buffalo Bill for four years, touring in Europe in 1903 and 1904. “He is one of the best riders in the state, and that is the same as saying the best in the world, for Wyoming horsemen have no superior.”

Corkscrew entered the rodeo a noted man-killer, sending a Buffalo, Wyoming man to the hospital for several weeks and severely injuring another cowboy just a year before. Jennings, having few equals as a rider, was game to ride Corkscrew and subdued the outlaw. However, Corkscrew had the final word sending Jennings to the ground with a hard thud on his back. “Jennings is carrying around a fractured rib as a memento of the occasion.”

The crowd went wild for the “Race for the Bride.”  The bride’s name was given as Hazel Foster and Lillian Foster. However, it appears as Hazel Foster in most records and on Sheridan’s official website. The “grooms” name was Harry Lewis. Lewis participated in the pony express ride, bronco-busting and the wild horse race, as well as the bride race.  While riding his bronc, he didn’t place and he came in second to Sage Collins in the wild horse race, but he would outride Sage to capture the bride.  

The “lady and the cowboy catching her would be married on the spot.  Judge Story, it was said, would perform the ceremony without cost.”

All we know of Hazel Foster was she hailed from Rock Creek, and was obviously an excellent horsewoman as she gave her pursuers a run for their money. Hazel was given a 200-yard head start and made good use of it not intending to get caught.

“Sage Collins, on his favorite roan, was after her, but whether or not he would have overtaken her will never be known. Harry Lewis started late and realizing that Sage could never be overtaken, he doubled back, intercepted the bride on the last quarter, and carried her to the grandstand,” much to the crowd’s delight. Harry Lewis won $50 and the hand of Hazel Foster.
Jennings show was such a success he decided to take it on the road. By the end of Sunday’s performance he already had a long list of applications from the Wyoming cowboys participating.  Enough applications, in fact, that he planned to take the show to Billings, Montana the next week.

As for the bride and her cowboy, I am not sure I would ever want to know what happened after the race. I prefer to make up my own happily ever after ending for the couple. 
So from two newspaper reports Cal and Josie’s story sprouted. I reduced the show to one day. Cal’s character emerged from Jim Jennings wild ride on Corkscrew and Harry Lewis’ daring capture of his own bride.  Yep, it took two men to make one of Cal. But it all started when I read about a young woman, Hazel Foster, agreeing to be the fox to seven Wyoming hounds. What would make her do such a thing? Excitement? Was she a spinster? Or did she need to save the family ranch? From these questions, and Hazel’s race, Josie Allison was born.
This summer meet Cal and Josie in LASSOING A GROOM!

THE SHERIDAN DAILY ENTERPRISE.  Saturday, October 2, 1909. Sheridan, Wyoming: pages 1 and 4.
THE SHERIDAN DAILY ENTERPRISE.  Tuesday, October 5, 1909. Sheridan, Wyoming: pages 1 and 4.

Thanks for reading my post on Sweethearts of the West.
Kirsten Arnold-guest blogger


  1. Kirsten, I'm up early today, so let me be the first to welcome you to Sweethearts of the West AND to our band of Prairie Roses!

    This story about Josie and Cal just stole my heart clean away, Rustler! Very entertaining--and no wonder! I had no idea it was based on a true story. (But I should have, since you love research sooooo much!)

    You really outdid yourself with this tale, and I can't wait for everyone else to get to read it!

  2. YEEEE-HAW! Rustler, we are so glad to have you in the Prairie Rose family. (I think. Knowing your proclivity for "livestock acquisition, we're gonna keep a close eye on you. ;-) )

    I can't wait for this anthology to come out. Your story is thoroughly delightful. Josie and Cal are hoots, and it's clear early on that she'll lasso his ornery butt.


  3. Kirsten, your story sounds like another winner for Prairie Rose Press. I love the research. What a show that must have been at a time when there were no TV, movies, etc.

    Welcome to Sweethearts of the West today! Great post.

  4. THANK YOU, Cheryl! I'm so grateful to you and Livia for giving me this opportunity and it means the world to me that you love my story (especially since you've written some of my favorites).

    Something just hit me when I was reading that article in the old newspaper and I knew there was more to the I made it up. :)

    Just a sidebar, I enlarged the newspaper article and it's now displayed in my rodeo section at the Museum, so Josie and Cal made it into history. :)

    Thanks again!!

  5. I don't know what chokes me up more, Tex, the fact I'm seeing a dream come true and joining the Prairie Roses, or that I have to thank a Texan. :) Seriously, thanks for believing in me and all the encouragement.

    Yeah, I think Josie had Cal hogtied from the first. :)

  6. Caroline,

    Thanks so much for stopping by today. I always enjoy spending time at the Sweethearts of the West.

    Researching these shows, I think they would have been a real hoot to attend or even participate in.

  7. Kirsten so good to see you here and to congratulate you in the new anthology. I can't wait to read your story, and as for the inspiration behind it, wow. Way to go with the imagination. I sure enjoyed Hazel's story, too.

  8. Dag-gum! This is going to be a mighty exciting story and I can't wait to read, Kirsten. How on earth did you dig up this bit of history? Positively fascinatin'.
    Welcome to the crazy Prairie Rose Club.

  9. Sounds wonderful, Kirsten. I look forward to reading it and sharing a book credit with you!

  10. Kirsten, Congratulations!
    It's wonderful you can take an article and fill in the missing blanks on what could have happened!

  11. Sorry, I'm just getting back.

    Tanya, thanks so much! Sometimes the best inspiration for fiction in real life. :) I appreciate you stopping by today.

  12. Sarah,

    I love digging through the old newspapers of Wyoming. I just happened to stumble on this story and it would not leave me alone. I loved the whole chase from the late start to Hazel out-riding all her pursuers and the groom double-backing and catching her.

    So glad you enjoyed the story! Thank you for the welcome to Prairie Rose, I'm thrilled to be one of the gang.

  13. Thanks, Kristy! I'm proud to be a part of this anthology with you, too.

  14. Thank you, Morgan! I love reading articles like this and then making up a story and this one just screamed for its own tale.

  15. Kirsten--thanks so much for being our guest. Now, with your first release, we all feel like your aunts...or your we're all in a similar group. Congratulations and good luck!

  16. What a fantastic story! I love it! Kirsten, you're an amazing writer and congratulations on joining Prairie Rose. Doing a happy dance for you!

  17. Thanks so much, Celia! I'm honored to be part of the family. :)

  18. Thank you, Lorrie! You've always been so supportive and it means the world to me.

    Join me dancing on the tables. :)


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