Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kansa (Kaw) Women

Often when discussing a society, the focus is on the men, particularly those who are the leaders. Today, to create a better understanding of my character, Meadowlark, in my latest book, Charlie’s Choice, I wish to focus on what life was like for the Kansa, or Kaw, women of the tribe originally known as the People of the South Wind. To learn more about this tribe as a whole, please refer to last month’s post, “The Kaw – People of the South Wind” by CLICKING HERE.

Women played a significant and sometimes humorous role in the creation stories of the Kansa. Based on contacts with the Kaw people at their Blue Earth Village near present-day Manhattan, Kansas in 1819,  Thomas Say noted that the “Master of Life” first created Kaw man. His solitary life, however, caused him to cry out in anguish, so the “Master” sent down a woman to alleviate his loneliness. Another early 19th-century account stated that Kaw men who simply emerged from the earth became boastful of their long tails, whereupon the Great Spirit (Wakanda) removed the tails and created nagging women from them, and then sent swarms of mosquitoes to remind all Kaw people that modesty was a virtue.

The most popular account, however, recalls that overpopulation on a small island created before the main part of the earth caused frustrated Kaw fathers to drown unwanted children, thus prompting more compassionate Kaw mothers to ask the Great Spirit to provide more living space. Their prayers were answered when beavers, muskrats and turtles were sent down to enlarge the island from the floor of the great waters, and in time the earth assumed its present form. Flora and fauna thrived, the population crisis was averted, and “the entire circle of the world was filled with life and beauty.”
Kaw Woman painted by George Catlin
Before frequent contact with Europeans, Kansa women wore wraparound skirts and deerskin shawls. They wore moccasins on their feet. In cold weather, they wore long buffalo-hide robes.

Where did the early Kansa get the materials for their clothing? Each winter was spent in buffalo country. When a bison was killed, all parts were used. The meat was used for food, the hide for clothes, and the bones for tools. A buffalo robe was produced from winter kills, while buffalos killed during the summer were stripped of their fur and made into leather (Spencer, 1906)
Kaw Man and his wife

Kansa women wore their hair either loose or braided. The hair was worn long, parted in the middle, the part colored with vermilion. Like the men, many of the women tattooed the body (Thwaites, 1906). You can get an idea of the early dress and hair styles of Kansa women from two paintings by George Catlin.
1890s - Kaw Women
Once they had access to cloth, Kaw women wore moccasins, knee-length leggings of blue and red cloth, a skirt and occasionally a cloth thrown over one shoulder. Later, Kansa people adapted European costume such as cloth dresses and vests, decorating them with beadwork as well.

A Kansa mother traditionally carried a young child in a cradleboard on her back. Being wrapped up tightly is soothing to infants, and most cultures have traditionally used some form of swaddling. Most American Indian cradleboards were intended only for young, nursing babies. Older babies were usually attached to the cradleboard with their hands free, so that they could play with a toy as they traveled. Once Native American children became old enough to sit up and crawl, they were usually not restrained in a cradleboard anymore, but instead allowed to play on the ground (usually under the supervision of a relative or babysitter.)

As far as how Kansa, or Kaw, women fit in the tribe regarding responsibilities, while men took responsibility for hunting, Kansa women were farmers and did most of the child care and cooking. Kansa women raised crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. They also gathered wild foods such as potatoes, roots, and berries.

Kansa women made their homes in more permanent camps in lodges made of wood poles, bark and woven mats.  It was only while they traveled with the tribe twice a year to the open plains to hunt buffalo that they lived in tipis.

Only men became Kansa chiefs, but both genders took part in storytelling, artwork, music, and traditional medicine. Kansa artists, including many women, are famous for their native weaving, beadwork and hide paintings.

Grandma McCauley
There are numerous traditional Kansa legends and fairy tales. Storytelling, such as the creation stories at the top of this post, is very important to the Kansa Indian culture.
Kaw Woman painted by George Catlin
In my book, Charlie’s Choice, one of my characters is a traditional Kansa woman named Meadowlark. The dress on the front of the book cover is similar to one of the dress bodices shown in an early George Catlin painting. Probably at the time of the story, the second half of the 1850’s, Meadowlark wore fabric for her everyday clothing. The deerskin dress would have been for a special occasion.

The following is an excerpt from the book. The scene is a conversation between Meadowlark and her meddlesome aunt who is looking out for the best interests of her dead sister’s daughter.

           Meadowlark, the water skin she used to bring water to the lodge in her hand, realized by the way Chases Quail walked directly towards her with an intent expression on her face, her aunt wished to speak with her. She changed direction and walked towards her. She hoped by meeting the older woman quickly she could prevent Chases Quail from blurting out at the top of her voice something that might embarrass her. Meadowlark joined her aunt at the edge of the trees lining the creek.
          “He is here, Meadowlark. I thought you should know in case you have an interest in him.”
          Meadowlark tried to ignore the amused look in her aunt’s eyes. The image of Gray-cloud-speaks-thunder’s countenance popped in Meadowlark’s mind. However, not wishing to be the subject of gossip if she could avoid it, she dared not give Chases Quail any indication she suspected of whom her aunt spoke. Instead, her face void of expression, she waited for the woman to continue.
          “His cousin, Eyes-like-hawk, has been speaking with some of the men—swapping hunting stories and bragging—you know how men talk. However, Gray-cloud-speaks-thunder has wandered off. Perhaps he wishes to speak to someone somewhere else.”
          Meadowlark wondered what her aunt hinted at. Did Chases Quail think Gray-cloud-speaks-thunder wish to speak to her? Whether he did or did not, she wished to see him again.
          “I need to fill the water bag for the lodge. Then I need to search for some herbs to season our evening meal. I do not know how far I must go to find what I look for.”
          Chases Quail pointed towards the dense brush to the southwest. Meadowlark’s gaze turned in the direction her aunt pointed, but she saw no one. She turned back, a question her expression. The older woman smiled knowingly and nodded.
          “When you search for your herbs, try over there. I saw something tasty that direction.”

Please CLICK HERE to find the book description and purchase link for Charlie’s Choice.


Monday, January 28, 2019


How do you feel about a hero or heroine who isn’t physically perfect? As a reader, are you interested in those kinds of characters? What about as a writer—are these the kinds of characters you want to introduce and develop in your storylines?

The first book I ever read with an “imperfect” hero was THE TIGER’S WOMAN, by Celeste De Blasis. The story takes place in San Francisco, 1869, and seems to be one of those that people either love or hate. For me, it was an eye-opener—I’d never read a strong, masculine, virile hero who had any kind of infirmity. Jason Drake’s is a limp.

Another one that comes to mind is A ROSE IN WINTER by Kathleen Woodiwiss. The heroine is “sold” by her father to pay his gaming debts to a mysterious man, Lord Saxton, who keeps himself covered to hide disfiguring scars from a terrible fire. I can’t say too much about these books without giving away spoilers, but both of them have many reviews that speak for them and their quality.

Mary Balogh’s book SIMPLY LOVE (one of the “Simply” quartet) is the story of an English aristocrat who has lost his arm and eye, and his face has been disfigured on one side. These are war injuries from “the Peninsula Wars”—and of course, he believes no woman will ever want him. He’s become reclusive. Enter Anne Jewell, mother of a nine-year-old son. UNWED mother, to be exact.

Kathleen Rice Adams has a short story, THE LAST THREE MILES, in the Prairie Rose Publications anthology, WILD TEXAS CHRISTMAS (yep, another Christmas story!) “Can a lumber baron and a railroad heiress save a small Texas town?” With Kathleen writing it, you can bet they’re going to give it their best shot, even though Kathleen’s hero in this one is confined to a wheelchair!

My own foray into writing a hero with a physical impairment is more modern. It’s a Christmas short story called THE WISHING TREE. Our hero, Pete Cochran, has been to the Middle East and suffered a devastating wound—the loss of an eye—shortly before he was to come home. Now, he works at his dad’s Christmas tree lot, just trying to heal his own mind and spirit…and then, a miracle happens. Maria Sanchez and her son, Miguel, stop by the lot one day and everything changes. You all know I believe in happy endings, but I don’t want to give any spoilers!

What about heroines? I’ve read books about heroines who have been lame—I can’t remember the titles right now. How do you feel about “imperfect” heroines? Are those more interesting than the heroes who suffer a permanent wound?

I would love to hear from everyone about this. I’m very curious as to what y’all think. So let’s hear it—and if you have read or written any books to add to this list, please DO!

I know it’s not Christmas, but I will be giving away 2 digital copies of THE WISHING TREE to two lucky commenters today! Thanks so much for coming by!

Saturday, January 26, 2019


What do you imagine when you read or hear homesteading the West? I think of families or lone men. However, in Marcia Meredith Hensley’s book. STAKING HER CLAIM: WOMEN HOMESTEADING THE WEST, I learned that many lone women became homesteaders.

I read the Women of Paragon Springs series, by Irene Bennett Brown, and loved the stories of women making their way West to set up their homes. What I didn’t realize, though, was how true-to-life Ms Brown’s stories were.

Ms Hensley’s book relates many women settling in Wyoming Territory. And why not? Wyoming was far ahead of the rest of America in recognizing a woman’s right to vote and other basic rights. But other stories take place in Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah.

As you can imagine, these women set out for the West for various reasons. Some were ill-equipped for the hardships. Others flourished in their new enterprise.  Ms Hensley includes letters written back East by some of the women homesteaders telling of their experiences. Fact or fiction?

Prairies required sod houses or
dugouts due to lack of wood.
“On the whole, women who wrote about their experiences homesteading alone told positive stories.  Although homesteading was difficult, they achieved success and had many enjoyable adventures as well. Women could do most of the work themselves, but, if necessary, they could count on help from neighbors, family, or one of the many men in the vicinity.”

Cutting sod for a house
Only about one in three women who homesteaded actually succeeded. In a 1921 article about her homesteading experience in Utah, Kate Keizer includes a section titled “Not All Roses” in which she cautions that for the typical homesteader without much money “the first two or three years are usually accompanied by privation and hardships.” She lists difficulties such as the high cost of freighting supplies in and having your claim contested if you were absent very long. Her greatest torments were the hordes of rabbits and prairie dogs that destroyed gardens in spite of scarecrows, guns, and poison.

Inside a sod house

Looking back on her homestead experience, Dr. Bessie Rehwinkle tempered her account of the exhilarating experience of becoming a Wyoming landowner with the admission that “it is not as easy or glamorous as the storybooks about the westward trek of the covered wagon often picture it. It is a slow process and a hard day-to-day struggle, and only the strongest are able to survive.”

Having wood made a more acceptable home.

The Homestead Act was in force from 1862 through 1976 (with a ten year extension for Alaska). Statistics provided by the National Homestead Monument suggest two million people attempted to earn a patent on land through the Homestead Act. Ms Hensley theorizes that 200,000 of these were women, of which 67.500 may have proved up on their claim.

I suggest reading Marcia Meredith Hensley’s book for fascinating non-fiction accounts of women homesteaders who were successful. For fictional accounts, nothing beats Irene Bennett Brown’s Women of Paragon Springs series: LONG ROAD TURNING, BLUE HORIZONS, NO OTHER PLACE, and REAP THE SOUTH WIND. Another good series is Linda Hubalek’s fictional Trails of Thread series.

What about you? Would you have attempted to claim your land alone?  

Caroline Clemmons' latest release is GARNET in the Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series. You can find the book on Amazon at 
For a complete list of her books, check her webpage at or her Author Page on Amazon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

WHEN IT JUST AIN'T RIGHT - RESEARCH #history #research

Those who know me, know how much I enjoy research. I can get lost in the stacks at the local library, genealogy books and ancestry/family search. Sometimes you come across a book that is the perfect place to find what you are looking for. Then as you dig deeper you find the information is not correct.  The following is a story from my work on early Colorado women doctors. 

A number of people use Wikipedia for a quick resource. I personally love the citations at the bottom of the page. However when it comes to history, it tends to be filtered through the experiences of the writer. I am just as guilty as the next person, but I try to keep the interpretations to a minimum and let the facts speak for themselves. But sometimes....

When researching Dr. Mary E. Phelps, a major source stated she had graduated from Northwestern University Medical College in 1913. The source did say she had a practice in Canon City, Colorado. Since the town is only about thirty minutes away from my house, I headed down there to see what I could find. Nothing for the 1913 time frame. However, when I went back in the records, I found her practicing in Canon City in 1895. I found records of her delivering three babies that year. One in January, one in February and the third in July.
Additional research showed her name in the local paper as attending social functions in 1899. Her name also appears int the city directory during the 1890s
Arkansas River that flows through Canon City, CO
From authors collection
I also found Dr. Phelps listed in the physicians licensing book. She received her license #1951 in 1894.
A round of Google Books research found Dr. Phelps active in the Fremont County Medical Society, with some meetings being held in her offices in Canon City. In 1908 she was elected president of the Colorado Women's Medical Society and in 1910-11 she was one of the passengers on the ship "Cleveland" when it made its trip around the world. That trip was immortalized in the book "Around the World on the Cleveland" by William Givens Frizell, ‎George Henry Greenfield

Sometimes our efforts just ain’t right, but if we keep going and trying we eventually will find the truth.  Whether it is research or writing, keep at it until you get to the nugget of truth and build from there. Dr. Phelps story can now go forward, it's just finding time to tell the stories. 

My first novel "Josie's Dream" has a female doctor starting practice on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Here is a short excerpt.

Now here she was in Kiowa Wells, on the eastern plains of Colorado just a few miles from the railhead at Kit Carson. Her biggest obstacle now was finding a place to set up her medical practice.

Despite his reservations, her father gave her a medical bag, equipped with the basics. “Something to remind you of this commitment, your Hippocratic oath,” were his parting words.
Her parents, though still in Iowa, were in her heart. Still, she knew it had been time to leave. While others of her friends were getting married, she had gone to medical school, her path clear to her.
Can I help you?” The voice behind her asked, a hand reaching around to grab her bags.
Turning to face the speaker, Josie took in the disheveled appearance, the look of cunning in the eyes.
I can manage, thank you,” Josie replied, taking a firmer hold on her belongings.
Now, there is no need to be rude. I was just tryin’ to be helpful,” the man said as he tugged at her bag.
Stiffening, Josie sternly repeated, “I can manage.”
With a hard yank, the man managed to pull her doctor bag loose and without a thought, Josie swung her large bag at the man, striking him on the legs as he turned to run off. Instead, he found himself flat on the ground.
Calmly, Josie bent, retrieved her property, and knowing he was just stunned, started down the street. She had only gone a few steps when she heard a bellow behind her.
Let me get to the point quickly,” she said as she turned to her tormentor, who stopped so quickly he almost fell. “I have nothing of value you could use. So, unless you are in need of medical care, I suggest you stop while you are ahead.” Now, standing close, she could smell the liquor on him. Her eye took in his inability to stand upright without swaying. But to be fair, his fall might have had something do to with that.
Doctorin’?” he questioned, “you’re lying.”
The two of them were drawing a crowd. Not the best way to start, Josie thought, but not a bad one either.
Yes, as you say doctorin’, I am a Doctor.”
Well, I’ll be — a lady doctor,” he said. “You sure you’re not just…”
I am a doctor,” Josie emphasized, “now it has been a long trip.” Turning, drawing herself up to her full five-foot-four-inch height, she continued walking forward.
Josie's Dream (Grandma's Wedding Quilts Book 9) by [Raines, Angela, Quilts, Grandma's Wedding, Americana, Sweet]
On Amazon
Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Line Riders and Line Shacks

Before diving into today's topic, I have some news. Along with western romance, I write paranormal romantic suspense. I'm honored to report my ROMANCING THE GUARDIANS series is nominated for 2 awards in the 2018 Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers Choice Awards. Yay! If you wish, you can vote here:

Categories I'm entered in:



Now, about those line riders and line shacks. COWBOY BOB’S DICTIONARY definitions:

“Line Rider - A cowboy who patroled the ranch boundry lines, pushing stray cattle back over the line back onto their respective ranchs. Later, on fenced ranches, a line rider would watch for, and repair, damaged fencing.”

“Line Shack - A cabin for use of cowhands when out patroling the boundry line of the ranch for cattle that may have strayed over the line.” (Please forgive the author's misspellings.)

line shack paid photo from

 Line shacks have history as lifesavers 

The description in this excellent article made me shiver and commiserate with old time cowboys who rode the line.
"When late winter weather rolls in I think of cowboys waiting out storms huddled in their line shacks drinking hot coffee from blue metal cups.

"Rode hard and put away wet, with ice-encrusted mustaches, frozen cowboy boots and red bandannas stiff as cardboard, the herders slowly thawed out in remote winter camps stocked with survival rations of beans, jerked meat, biscuit fixins, matches, dry wood and thin wool blankets atop mouse-infested wooden bunks."

The author quotes Teddy Roosevelt from TR's time spent as a rancher in North Dakota. "The men in the line camps lead a hard life, for they have to be out in every kind of weather, and should be especially active and watchful during the storms."

Yet another interesting article pointed out how lonely a line rider's job could be. Living and working alone for months on end might make a cowboy a little "teched" in the head. In cases where two men shared a line shack, it could be a blessing.

I mention their lonely job in this excerpt from Dashing Irish.

Tye dismounted and wound his reins around a hitching post outside the general store, near a buckboard awaiting its owner. He’d volunteered to ride into Clifton and pick up supplies for the line shack he shared with a colored cowboy named Dewey Sherman. The trip was a welcome break from the winter tedium. Riding the border along their section of the ranch, to stop cattle from straying and drive off predators, was a cold, lonely job.

David had stationed him as far from the Double C as possible to keep him away from Lil – to prevent trouble with her father, Tye both understood and resented – but she was never far from his thoughts. He’d foolishly hoped this change of pace might take his mind off her for a short while. So far it hadn’t worked.

Two months had passed since the social in Meridian, yet he couldn’t stop picturing her in that tantalizing red dress, with her beautiful dark hair rippling down her back. He also couldn’t forget the way she’d gazed up at him when she was in his arms, and how feeling her excitement had made his blood pound. He still thought himself unworthy of her, but that didn’t stop him from longing to hold her and kiss her again. As always, he became half aroused at the mere thought.Unbuttoning his jacket, he resettled his gun belt and told himself he’d simply gone far too long without a woman. While in town, he ought to stop by the saloon and take one of the birds of paradise upstairs for a while, but alas, the idea soured the instant it crossed his mind. He wanted Lil, no other.

Impatient with his unruly thoughts, he stepped up onto the boardwalk and crossed to the store entrance. He was about to open the door when it swung inward and an overloaded customer plowed into him. A feminine cry of alarm rang out as tinned goods and paper-wrapped parcels toppled from a crate the woman carried.

Tye grunted in reaction. Then, to his astonishment, he found himself face to face with the object of his pent up desires. Lil stared back at him, lips parted and brown eyes wide with shock.

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 a pair of 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 children.

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

Last Shot

While the American Civil War tore through the eastern half of the United States that was south of the Mason Dixon, Texas seemed to have escaped fairly unscathed. I won’t say completely, but considering how much Tennessee, the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, and other states in the Confederacy fared, Texas somehow managed to come out of the war in good shape.

While doing research for a new book and needing information of battles fought in Texas during the Civil War, it appears only five battles were fought in the Lone Star State, including what was probably where the last shots of the Civil War were fired—the Battle of Palmito Ranch in Cameron County. As casualties went, this one was light—only 118 Federal troops and an unknown number of Confederates, but as it is listed as a Confederate victory, I would assume Confederate losses were few, also. (I know—staggering isn’t it, that almost 120 dead is considered a light loss? But when held up to the death toll at Antietam—22,700 killed, wounded, or missing in one day; or Shiloh—23,700 killed, wounded, or missing; or even Gettysburg with more than 50,000 men killed, wounded, or missing, 120 dead is a small number.)

Palmito Ranch was fought May 12 and 13, 1865, more than a full month after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.  Apparently, the news of the surrender didn’t travel that fast. Since March of 1865, there had been what local commanders termed a “gentleman’s agreement” that neither side would engage with the other on the Rio Grande. In spite of this agreement, Col. Theodore H. Barrett, commanding forces at Brazos Santiago, Texas, dispatched an expedition, composed of 250 men of the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment and 50 men of the 2nd Texas Cavalry Regiment under the command of Lt. Col. David Branson, to the mainland, on May 11, 1865, to attack reported Rebel outposts and camps. At 2:00 am, on May 12, the expeditionary force surrounded the Rebel outpost at White’s Ranch but found no one there.

Exhausted, having been up most of the night, Branson secreted his command in a thicket. His men found places to sack out among weeds on the banks of the Rio Grande. Around 8:30 am, people on the Mexican side of the river informed the Rebels of the Federals whereabouts. Many combatants reported that firing came from the Mexican shore and that some Imperial Mexican forces crossed the Rio Grande but did not take part in the battle, though shots from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande or the involvement of Imperial Mexican forces has never been verified.

Branson promptly led his men off to attack a Confederate camp at Palmito Ranch. After much skirmishing along the way, the Federals attacked the camp and scattered the Confederates. Branson and his men remained at the site to feed themselves and their horses but, at 3:00 pm, a sizable Confederate force appeared, influencing the Federals to retire to White’s Ranch. Branson sent word of his predicament to Barrett, who reinforced Branson at daybreak, on the 13th, with 200 men of the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

The augmented force, now commanded by Barrett, started out towards Palmito Ranch, skirmishing most of the way. At Palmito Ranch, they destroyed the rest of the supplies not torched the day before and continued on. A few miles forward, they became involved in a sharp firefight. After the fighting stopped, Barrett led his force back to a bluff at Tulosa on the river where the men could prepare dinner and camp for the night. At 4:00 pm, a large Confederate cavalry force, commanded by Col. John S. “Rip” Ford, approached, and the Federals formed a battle line.

The Rebels hammered the Union line with artillery. To preclude an enemy flanking movement, Barrett ordered a retreat. The retreat was orderly, and skirmishers held the Rebels at a respectable distance.  The very last shot was fired approximately about 4:30 PM.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Historical music trivia and a Valentine's Day story by Kaye Spencer #westernromance #anthology #SweetheartsoftheWest

One of the many reasons I enjoy writing historical western romance novels and short stories is the research required to make sure all the historical details I include in a story are reasonable accurate.

In my novellete Mail-Order Mix Up (set in Colorado in 1891), which is included in the Valentine's Day-themed western romance anthology Lariats, Letters, and Lace, I have a scene in which the heroine, Irene Maxon, has a mental image of someone stomping about in heavy boots while singing a marching-type song. A religious song wasn’t appropriate for the situation, yet the lyrics needed to reflect the reason she was thinking of the song.

Two songs came immediately to mind: Battle Hymn of the Republic (aka John Brown’s Body) and When Johnny Comes Marching Home. But they weren’t quite right. Then I couldn’t think of any other songs, because they had achieved earworm status in my head.

I realized, though, these songs shared a common thread: the American Civil War. Since Irene was in her twenties during the war, she would have known the songs of the time period. So I did a Google search and hit pay dirt right off with a song I should have thought of on my own: Battle Cry of Freedom. Great. I had my song, and I finished writing that scene.

My research could have ended there, but I have a tendency to tumble down research rabbit holes, especially if there’s trivia involved.

Battle Cry of Freedom

  • George Frederick Root, an American composer, wrote Battle Cry of Freedom (aka 'Rally ‘Round the Flag') in 1862 to support the Union cause.
  • H. L. Schreiner (composer) and W. H. Barnes (lyricist) adapted the song for the Confederacy.
  • The Union version was modified as the campaign song for Lincoln/Garfield for the 1864 presidential election.
  • Garfield used the song during his campaign in 1880.
  • Composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk suggested it should be America’s national anthem.
  • Composer Charles Ives referenced the song in his song, “They are There”.
  • Ken Burns (known for documentaries) referenced the song in “The Civil War” documentary.
  • Film composer John Williams incorporated the song into the soundtrack of the movie “Lincoln”.
  • The 1939 film “Young Mister Lincoln” starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford has the song sung during the opening credits.

Here are YouTube renditions of Battle Cry of Freedom for the Union and the Confederacy. You'll notice the words a different.



Mail-Order Mix Up is set in the fictional town of Platte River City, Colorado, which is located on the South Platte River about 100 miles east of Denver.


Remarrying isn’t on widower Dale Forbes’ mind, but his three young granddaughters want a grandma. Widow Irene Maxon yearns for something more than the disappointments life has handed her. A mail-order bride catalog, a secret letter, and a blizzard combine to set the scene for match-making between Dale and Irene. However, another man expects Irene to fulfill their marriage agreement, and he isn’t going to take no as her answer.


“Forgive me for intruding unannounced, especially during your festivities. I’m here to return—”

“Oh, there you are, Dale, Violet,” Eloy broke in. “This is Irene Maxon from St. Louis.”

Irene followed Eloy’s wave and recognized the man and the girl coming along the hallway from the photograph she’d received with the letter. She also noted with more than passing interest that the photograph had not adequately captured Dale’s handsome maturity, strong chin, and fine, broad-shouldered physique. Before she could greet them, movement at the top of the stairs drew her attention, and she looked up to see a girl descending one slow stair at a time, her hand trailing lightly along the banister. The girl stopped midway down and looked right at Irene, the little satisfied smirk on her lips as pleasant as the sparkle in her eyes. So this was Meredith—the instigator of the marriage invitation.

Then a wisp of a child with braids flying burst through the midst of the group with a shriek of squealing delight. When she leaped, Irene instinctively caught her, staggering backwards a few steps under the child’s momentum. The girl clamped her arms around Irene’s neck with a grip so tight Irene couldn’t turn her head.

“Grandma! You’re here. You’re really here. I knew you’d come. I just knew it!”

Lydia’s face broke into a bright smile. Clara Jean clapped her hands and blurted, “It worked! She really got Meredith’s letter!”

All attention swung to Clara Jean who realized too late what she’d said as she ducked for cover behind the coat tree.

The few seconds of solemn, stunned silence shattered into echoes when Dale’s booming voice rebounded off the walls. “Meredith Margaret Forbes! What have you been up to now?”

But Meredith was nowhere in sight.

Lariats, Letters, and Lace is available on
Kindle | KindleUnlimited | Print

As I don’t send a newsletter, you may be interested in following me on these platforms:

Amazon (for new release notifications| BookBub (my book recommendations) | Blog (occasional posts)| Twitter (history trivia)

 Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
Writing the West one romance upon a time

References and further reading:

McWhirter, Christian L. (July 27, 2012). "Birth of the 'Battle Cry'". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved January 15, 2019. (