Saturday, September 26, 2015


Don't miss the giveaway at the end of the post!

Research is a large part of a writer’s world, especially when he or she writes historical novels. I confess I love delving into a subject and have trouble keeping on task. One of the fun parts is the day trip through North Texas' mountains.

Years ago my husband and I took a trip to Palo Pinto County, Texas for a driving tour and that’s when I fell in love with the area. No, actually I already loved driving through the valleys and the mountains that look more like hills. This tour, however, convinced me this was an area in which I would set many books. So far, I have two series set here—Stone Mountain and Bride Brigade—and a time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE.

Valley view on Johnson's League Ranch
As I mentioned, to most people, these would be considered hills, but geologically, they are true mountains. Don’t ask me why, I’m just a writer. There are many picturesque areas and I enjoy driving through at any time of year. Now, however, is a prime time because the leaves are changing. You find it’s easy to see why the Native Americans dubbed the trees “painted posts”.

Although many live oaks dot the forests, most trees are smaller scrub oaks which turn colors and lose their leaves. Live oaks lose leaves, but they’re quickly replaced and have dark green leaves year around, hence the name. Also in the area are cedars and they provided fence posts material as well as small logs for cabins. Add in a smattering of cottonwood, hackberry, bois d'arc, and elm.

In Palo Pinto County are many springs, the most famous of which is the "crazy water well" near Mineral Wells. According to accounts, a family with a mentally disturbed wife moved to the area and the husband dug a well. While drinking that water, the woman was cured. It should be called sane water, but that doesn’t have the ring to it that crazy water does.

Historic reproduction of cabin and well in Palo Pinto County
The original well went through a lithium deposit and that provided relief to the woman’s condition. People came for miles to get water from that well. To this day, Crazy Water Crystals are available for sale. Frankly, I doubt these are from the lithium well due to the FDA controlling that substance. Likely they are useful as little more than laxatives from minerals. The town isn't named Mineral Wells for no reason.  

One of my favorite ranches is the Belding-Gibson Ranch, which has a spring that never dries up and was a favorite Native American campground. This is a beautiful ranch that has been continuously run by the Belding family and descendants since 1859. The original cedar log cabin dating to 1854 has been incorporated into the ranch home, as has the smokehouse and the dog trot and second cabin. Fortunately, this family is lovingly protecting their heritage and have been generous in sharing with the public.

The Gibson home on the Belding-Gibson Ranch,
which includes the original cabins
I enjoy this county, although I’m glad I live in a Fort Worth suburb with all the shopping and medical conveniences I prefer. While visiting Palo Pinto, I can visualize life as it was in the last half of the nineteenth century. A drive there sets my imagination cog wheels turning and generating new ideas faster than I can write them.

Do you have special areas that inspire you? I’ll give away a copy of my first Bride Brigade romance, JOSEPHINE, to one person who comments today.

Thanks for visiting today. Don't forget to comment if you want to be included in the drawing for a copy of JOSEPHINE!

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.

Subscribe to her newsletter here to receive a FREE novella. 

Photos by author; cover by Skhye Moncrief.


  1. Hi Caroline, one of my books is set in the mountain area of north Texas... I did a lot of research, but have never been able to visit that part of Texas... I have driven through Texas twice to visit friends in west Texas... thanks for sharing this setting! I hope to write the next book in this series at some point.

    Anyhoo, about the lithium deposit... I have no clue about what the FDA is regulating. However, lithium as a natural mineral is different in composition than prescription lithium. Many people, especially Veterans, get a lot of relief from using NOT THE PRESCRIPTION LITHIUM... but the natural supplement called Lithium Orotate. Also, every trace mineral supplement -- and trace minerals are NEEDED by the body -- has a tiny amount of lithium in its natural state. In fact, lack of this trace mineral can cause a variety of health problems. Why can I say this? No, I'm NOT a professional. However, I have studied herbs and supplements for about 35 years now because I can't take any prescription medication due to severe allergic reactions. Anyway, there's lots of info that can be found on the web about lithium orotate.

    Your book looks wonderful!

    1. All true, Savana. Apparently the deposit at the site of the original well was very high and acted as a prescription now would. If you need info on this part of Texas, I'll be glad to help you.

  2. Hi Caroline,
    This was a great post. I think I would have loved to live in that cabin - looks so peaceful.
    Within walking distance of my house, there's a Nature Park where I enjoy to go for a walk. It covers 261 hectares and is split in a few sectors. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I went to the biggest part with our soon-to-be 3 years old grandson and his one year old sister. We took a long walk and were lucky enough to see a few deer as well as a bunch of squirrels and many birds. My grandson was thrilled.
    I go there by myself once in a while and walk leisurely, stopping here and there to look at the scenery and try to spot deer and other wild animals (there are owls, foxes, coyotes, deer, a huge variety of birds, marmots, beavers, raccoons, skunks, grass snakes and whatnot. It's very peaceful. We're also within walking distance from the St-Lawrence River (actually, I live in the easternmost part of the Island of Montreal, where the Rivière des Prairies and the St-Lawrence River meet. So, we have a nice area where we can walk alongside the river. Another peaceful place. And, since there's a very nice park, my grandson loves it when we go there with him.
    Congrats on your new series, Caroline.

    1. Liette, that sounds very peaceful. I'm glad you have such a nice place to take your grandchildren.

  3. Texas is a huge state and it has a bit of everything. I am more familiar with the central plains and eastern part of the state from my time living there than I am with the west and the mountains. I didn't get to Galveston or get to the mountains, but the mountains certainly sound fantastic from your blog. I only remember seeing a few big oaks. There was definitely a scarcity of them where I lived.
    I loved the picture of the log cabin--makes me want to live there.
    I haven't been back to Texas in many years. Now that I'm older, I'm here at home in North Carolina most of the time. I do have my favorite places here like, Blowing Rock, Asheville, and Wilmington.
    A lovely blog, Caroline.

    1. I said he cabin is a reproduction, but that's wrong. It was moved to a history area and reassembled. I love touring places like that. I've wanted to travel to the Carolinas for a long time. Many of my ancestors were from there.

  4. Southeast Texas-Big Thicket area always inspires me. I think of the settlers that arrived in the 1830's-who fought against the Indians and later the Mexican Army during the fight for Texas Independence from Mexico. Whenever I visit the cemeteries-Lowe Cemetery in particular-to visit the graves of my 2x and 3x Great Grandparents, the foliage of the trees are so thick, that there isn't any sunlight. (And a bit spooky ;)

    1. My husband and I love driving in the Big Thicket. We always said we would love to live there but there were no jobs for my husband. Driving through there is a nice experience. We go to a fishing camp there and spend a couple of days once a year. I don't fish, so I use my laptop and just enjoy the scenery.

    2. Denise, you're the winner of the free e-book. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented.

    3. Thank you-can't wait for book 2 in this series.

  5. Ah, as you know, you're talking about my home. I was born in Palo Pinto Country, in the farming community called Salesville...8 miles N. of Mineral Wells. This area I very familiar. Even though we moved away when I was 4, we returned countless times to visit two sets of grandparents, and now my sister lives there.
    I love those Blue Mountains, and yes others might laugh and say, 'those are just hills"--depends on exactly where you are. They are definitely Blue Mountains. Look on any map.
    My newest release is a full length novel titled "Beyond the Blue Mountains." I visualized my characters living in a place like Salesville, and especially when the cold weather arrives, the mountains look more blue.
    I think we've both written posts about the family who found the crazy water well. You're so right about the water containing trace amounts of lithium, which is used today to treat Bi-Polar patients.
    When my daddy was a very young man and lived in Salesville, he'd go the 8 miles every day, back and forth, on a horse to work in the Original Crystal factory. The crystals today are shipped all over the world!
    Oh, thank you, Caroline, for all these wonderful memories. It's a wonderful post.

    1. Dear Almost-Cousin Celia, you know what I mean when I saw driving through these mountains is relaxing. The area where the Belding-Gibson Ranch is my favorite, but I love the entire county.

  6. Enjoyed your post with its pictures of North Texas. It looks like we need to get off I-40 and travel farther afield--perhaps to the Red River region where some of my husband's people settled after the Civil War. My inspiration comes from my local mountains, the Sierra-Nevadas--windward and leeward sides, with their oak trees and Manzanita. Beautiful this time of year, especially after the first rain to settle the dust and get the grass growing again.
    Robyn Echols w/a Zina Abbott


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