Thursday, October 22, 2020

It's Halloween, or almost

 Post by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines. 

Photo property of the author

Halloween is fast approaching. While it may not be the same as when we were children, it is the child in us that remembers dressing in costumes and going door to door for candy, or perhaps the community got together and had a party for adults and children. Either way, I thought I'd take a look at Halloween and by extension Cemeteries. 

For many of us, when we were children we looked forward to dressing up, spending time deciding who we were going to be for Halloween. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. My mother would make the costume for both my brother and myself. One year the community got together in one of the old almost abandoned houses outside of town. Everyone came in costume. We bobbed for apples, the children ran around outside and generally got into trouble. (Just not too much.)

As I have gotten older the day doesn't mean as much to me. I have rarely been home for the 'trick or treaters' so I have even gotten out of the habit of having candy on hand for them over the years. At the same time, my love of cemeteries has grown. 

To me, each day at the cemetery is like the celebration, 'Dia de los Muertos', Day of the Dead. for me. I wander among the stones, seeing the stories, the names, and wonder what their lives were like. The stones, the monuments they leave are fascinating. At the same time, even though they leave large or small stones, in the end, they all are equal. Below are some of the stones in our local cemetery.

Some people leave large monuments
Photo property of the author

The statue for the Elks section
Photo property of the author

Others leave simple stones with what was important to them
Photo property of the author

A stone near the Myron Stratton Home plots
Photo property of the author

Sometimes families are listed under the same stone.
(you also wonder why the father has no death date)
Photo property of the author

I leave you with an excerpt from my short story ' Gilbert Hopkins in Going to Die' in the newly released anthology "Under Western Stars"

          Walking down that dusty street his eyes took in the weathered storefronts, worn hitch rails, and the periodic busted slats of the boardwalk. They didn’t look so old and forlorn in the rosy glow of the setting sun he thought with a smile. 
          At the end of the short street, where it met the main thoroughfare sat his small newspaper office. With a smile on his face and a lift of his shoulders, Gilbert unlocked the door and stepped inside. The smell of oil, ink, and he had to admit sweat, greeted him.
          He turned right and walked to his desk removing his coat and hanging it on the hat tree. He lit the lamp and pulling out his chair Gilbert reread the notes he’d made for his upcoming editorial beginning the process of editing before setting the type for tomorrow's paper.
          When he'd arrived in this small town it had been his goal to grow the paper to a daily publication. But weather, crop failures, lowered cattle prices, and the recession squashed that dream. Still, he was not ready to give up.
         "You will make a difference in this world, Gilbert Hopkins, you will," he said to the four walls surrounding him. "You are still young and have plenty of time."
          He was almost finished with the edits when he heard the door open. Glancing up Gilbert saw a young child about the age of eight, the small frame backlit by the setting sun.
          "’ Scuse me, sir," the child said. "Are ya the one I talk to ‘bout puttin’ a ad in the paper?"
         "Yes, I am," Gilbert replied. The little imp of a child made him wonder what kind of advertisement they were thinking of. He asked the first questions that popped into his head.  "How old are you? And what type of advertisement were you thinking of?"
          "I'm twelve, an’ I'm hopin’ ta find my mother."

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Margaret Borland, Trail-driving Cattle Queen

Margaret Borland was a gutsy woman. A widow three times over, she ran a huge ranch in South Texas and, in 1873, she shepherded cattle up the Chisholm Trail to Wichita, Kansas, acting as trail boss.

Margaret Borland ca. 1872

I've heard of women who accompanied their husbands up the long trail. I even wrote about a fictional Texas cowgirl who helps drive cattle to Kansas in Dashing Irish. But a woman trail boss? Hard to believe, right? Not after reading about Ms. Borland.

Born on April 3, 1824 in IrelandMargaret Heffernan sailed to America with her parents when she was five. The family spent some time in New York City, then moved to Texas, seeking better opportunities. The government (Mexican at that time) offered incentives to families who supplied their own tools and were able to sustain themselves for a year. At the year's end, the family would be given a yoke of oxen, a cart, ten milk cows and a league of land. The family was required to practice Catholicism and speak Spanish when doing business. Margaret was nine years old when she arrived in Texas.

The Heffernans were part of the McMullen-McGloin colony that intended to bring around 200 families to Texas. They settled on prairie land near San Patricio in South Texas. Margaret's father had been a candle maker, but he became a rancher, faring well in the Texas cattle industry.

Margaret's father died during the Texas Revolution, killed along with several other family members during an attack. The surviving family fled to a fort at Goliad, where legend says Margaret was spared during the massacre by posing as a Mexican child and speaking near perfect Spanish. The family moved several times after that. Margaret's mother never remarried and she died in Victoria, Texas in 1849.

Victoria County, Texas

In August 1843, Margaret married Harrison Dunbar. She gave birth to their daughter Mary in 1844, but Harrison died shortly after her birth from wounds he received in a "pistol duel." Margaret was only 20 years old at the time.

Shortly after, in October 1845, Margaret remarried to a man named Milton Hardy. The 1840 census showed Margaret's second husband had 2,912 acres of land, as well as five additional lots in town. They had two daughters together in the following two years, one of whom did not survive infancy. In 1852, Margaret gave birth to another healthy daughter named Rosa. That same year Milton and their young son William died during a cholera epidemic. Milton left Margaret 1200 cattle to manage.

Margaret married her third husband, Alexander Borland, on February 11, 1856. By the 1860 census, the couple owned 8,000 head of cattle, the largest herd in Victoria. They had twelve slaves, multiple properties, and considerable wealth. They had four children together, 3 boys and a girl named Nellie. By 1867, Alexander was not well. He went to see a surgeon in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sadly, he died there, leaving Margaret a widow for the third time.

The tragedies did not end there. In the summer of the same year, yellow fever swept across Texas. Margaret's daughter Rosa, who was only 15 at the time, caught it and died, followed by Margaret's firstborn Mary. Shortly after Mary passed, her infant son died as well. Margaret's daughter Julia, who was 19 and a new mom, also succumbed to the illness. Julia's husband, Victor Rose, who almost died during the epidemic, left their daughter, Julia Rose, with Margaret for her to raise. By the time the epidemic ended as cooler temperatures set in, Margaret only had three surviving children out of the nine she birthed.

After Alexander's death, Margaret assumed full responsibility for purchasing and selling her cattle, and running her ranch. Slaves, relatives, and farm hands helped with the physical labor required to manage the herd. Her brother James Heffernan stayed with her and her family, assisting his sister during difficult times.

In the winter of 1871-72 a freak blizzard struck Victoria and killed thousands of Margaret's cattle. Despite this, by 1873, she had over 10,000 cattle and decided to sell some of them to raise more money. However, the prices for Texas cattle were about $8 per head, whereas the prices for cattle in Kansas were almost $24 per head. Margaret made the unprecedented decision to be her own trail boss and to drive her cattle over the Chisholm Trail to Kansas.

With no one to watch over her surviving children and young granddaughter, she had to take them with her despite the perils involved. At the age of 49, Margaret headed for Wichita, Kansas with her family and 2,500 cattle. Her bravery as the first woman to undertake this trek as trail boss made the local newspapers and made her famous in the South, as well as the rest of the United States.

187596003 © Daniel Betterman |

With half a dozen hired hands to manage the herd of over 2,000 cattle, Margaret undoubtedly had to deal with the men's superstitions, as they often saw women on the trail as a bad omen. It took the group about two months to make it from South Texas to Kansas. They traveled around fifteen miles per day, allowing the cattle to graze as they went. Pushing them too hard would cause them to lose weight and make them harder to sell.

They passed through the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma.) Although Margaret may have sold some of her animals to Indian agents to keep danger at bay or for supplies, when the group arrived in Kansas they still had most of the herd. In 1873, it is believed that around 400,000 Texas cattle were driven to Kansas. Due to this influx, the cattle market crashed in the later part of the year. Consequently, the Borland cattle did not bring the financial gain Margaret had expected.

Sadly, Margaret would not live to see the cattle sold. Toward the end of the journey she was stricken by a serious illness known as trail fever. It has also been called congestion of the brain or meningitis. She passed away in a Wichita boardinghouse. Her two surviving teenage sons arranged the sale of the cattle.

The Wichita Beacon newspaper, now The Wichita Eaglereported the following: "We regret to announce the painful news that Mrs. Borland, the widow lady who came up with her own herd of cattle about two months ago, bringing with her three little children, died at the Planter house Saturday evening with mania, superinduced by her long, tedious journey and over-taxation of the brain."

Margaret Borland was 49 years old when she died. Her body was returned to Texas for burial in the state where she started her family and cattle business.  Margaret's brothers and sons took over running the huge ranch. Her young granddaughter, Julia Rose, was taken in by an aunt and uncle. She later became active in The daughters of the Republic of Texas and Daughters of the Confederacy.

Margaret's sons, Alex and Jesse, bought her a gravestone which reads:

Our Mama
Margaret Heffernan Borland
Born Apr. 3, 1824
Died July 5, 1873
Gone but not forgotten

— Evergreen Cemetery, Victoria

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)  

Website:  Lyn Horner’s Corner 

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wild, Wild Horses of the Frontier by Shirleen Davies

Swift, robust horses from Spain and Portugal carried Conquistadors through jungles and across deserts in search of gold in the New World. Then, in the 1600’s, Spanish colonists raised these same types of hardy horses on ranches in New Mexico. A few of these horses would run off from time to time and roam the open plains. These wild horses came to be known as Mustangs, from the Spanish word mesteno, which means stray or free-running animal. 

Wild Horse Herd

 Settlers from many countries arrived and built     ranches on the plains.  Some of their horses,   Morgans, and draft breeds like Percheron,   Belgians, and Clydesdales, also escaped from   settlers or were turned loose to join the wild   herds. Runaway cavalry chargers, and horses   that had belonged to Native Americans, also   mixed with the original mustang herds. In   addition, some stallions were released on   purpose to improve the traits of the horses already there.

In the mid 1800’s millions of wild mustangs roamed America’s plains and prairie, feeding on a variety of grasses and drinking from lakes or streams. Mustangs rambled across the western half of the country including Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, North Dakota, New Mexico, and California.

Wild Horse Territory
The land that lay between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River in Texas was known as the Wild Horse Desert. So many Mustangs ran there that a ranger in the mid-1800s came upon a herd that took an hour to pass. He stated, “As far as the eye could extend on a dead level prairie, nothing was visible except a dense mass of horses.”

Types of Horses in Wild Herds

A lot of different bloodlines went into these herds. Mustangs bear the unmistakable marks their Spanish ancestors and the domestic breeds added to them. Some herds carry the genes of thoroughbreds, quarter horses, carriage horses, trotting and pacing horses, gaited saddle breeds, heavy draft horses, and some show Morgan or Shire ancestry, while others are descended from ponies.

Breaking & Training Wild Horses

Breaking a horse, the method of training a horse to be ridden, is also called saddle breaking. It embodies bringing the mustang around to a routine of accepting a saddle, a bridle and the weight of the rider on its back. Capturing and breaking wild horses was a daily part of ranching.

Horse Breakers
  The practice of gentling and training wild   horses was so common place, Marty Robbins   wrote a western song about it. The lyrics to The   Strawberry Roan, tell of getting the blinds on the   horse, saddling it, then mounting him and   raising the blinds. The mustang heaved a big   sigh, and turned his belly up to the sun. He was   the worst bucker the cowboy had ever seen.   The  horse hit on all four hooves and raised up   high. The rider spun in the sky. Then the horse   turned over twice and tossed the cowboy onto   the ground. The mustanger said he’d bet all his   money that there wasn’t a man alive who could   stay on Old Strawberry when he made his high dive.

Each Bronc Buster had his own way of breaking a horse. In the song Strawberry Roan, the cowboy used the popular method of breaking a horse with a blind. A cowboy would blindfold the mustang with a jacket before getting on. And, the moment the cowboy’s butt hit the saddle, he’d yank off the blind.

Another way cowboys broke broncos was by tying the horse to a tree for a few hours without water or feed before saddling it. Or they tied a horse down until he was saddled, then let him loose, and as the Mustang got up, the cowboy would leap into the saddle.

The most important thing to remember in bronco busting was that no matter how many times you got bucked off, you had to keep getting back on until the horse got tired of tossing you to the ground. No matter what method they used to break a mustang, the truly great Bronco Busters never abused the horse, broke his spirit, or spoiled him.

Most mustangs are like any other horse, with a few key exceptions:

·       Having lived in a herd, wild horses understand leadership.

·       They're unspoiled and haven't been abused or taught bad behaviors.

·       They’re pure horse, you’re the first human they’ve experienced.

·       They’ve learned wisdom and cunning from their life in the wild.

·       They have a stronger sense of self-preservation than domestic horses.

Because of their sense of self-preservation, it's vital to win the horse's trust in order to train it. Wild horses having grown up in a herd on the range rather than in a stall, have a stronger sense of themselves. They've learned the social protocols of the herd, deference, the ability to function in a social order, to get along with others, what a good leader is, and how to follow a leader. All of this makes them incredibly loyal once they’ve learned they can trust you. And just like any horse, the better the training, the better the horse.

A wild horse has an innate aptitude for reading and understanding movement, energy, intent, and body language. It reads us loud and clear. But, we don't always read the horse well, and that's what we have to avoid. To train a horse properly, we must proceed at the horse's pace and ensure everything is solid before moving on to the next step.

Their Use on Frontier Ranches

Every cattle ranch in Texas and in most Western states used mustangs. These wild horses had ranching in their nature since the original Spanish horses were bred for hundreds of years for ranching in Spain.

Ranchers imported stallions with top European bloodlines and set them free to improve the quality, size, and overall appearance of the local mustang herds. Frontier ranchers used the wild herds as a chief resource for replenishing their working stock. They’d round the mustangs up, and capture the ones they wanted to train for ranch work or to sell to Eastern states, the military, or other ranchers.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and perhaps learned a few things. I’d love to read your comments!

Thunder Valley, book 16 in the Redemption Mountain historical western romance series is Available Now!



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Monday, October 12, 2020

The Haunted Fort Worth Stockyards by Bea Tifton

A few years ago, I took the Cowtown Winery's Haunted Stockyards Tour. We had complimentary Wine a Ritas in our hands and a great tour guide in our midst. The event at the end really happened. It was the perfect ending to a fascinating glimpse into local history. In the time of Covid, I'd like to visit that wonderful evening again, so forgive the repost. 

The Stockyards actually have a branch of the Trinity River flowing under Exchange, the main street. Many people believe that water holds spiritual activity and heightens paranormal activity.

The Stockyards Hotel was built in 1910 and was a crown jewel of a hotel, attracting rich oil tycoons. Bonnie and Clyde reportedly stayed in room 305. That room now overlooks Merrick Fine Western Wear, which was then a jewelry store, and the nearby bank.  Two stories are told about their stay. One is
that they rented the room to stake out the two businesses, but they liked Fort Worth so much they decided not to rob either place. The other tale is that they told the owners of the bank and the jewelry store that they weren’t there to rob them or cause any trouble because, as  Bonnie and Clyde said, they were just hiding out from the law until things cooled down a bit.
The Stockyards Hotel has a full-bodied apparition named Jesse. He’s a cowboy who couldn’t have afforded to stay in the hotel at the time. People speculate that he just wanted to stay there in the afterlife.  Visitors hear his spurs jingling as he walks through the hall or see him. Jesse never interacts with anyone.
Many have felt the presence of a former employee, Jake. He was a messenger from the 1900’s and he loved his job of 30-40 years. Visitors feel hot and cold spots and some of his physical duties are still taken care of. If guests leave their room unlocked, it will be locked when they return. For the last 30 years, the phone rings after hours. No one is there and the call cannot be traced, put on hold, or transferred. 

The Rodeo Arena  has had an indoor  rodeo since 1908. This arena is a hotbed of paranormal activity. There is a phantom black horse that runs around the arena.
Apparitions are of deceased cowboys in old-time clothing.  The rodeo was very dangerous and many lost their lives during their performance.  EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon; conversation not heard by the human ear) record hearing a voice saying, “Cow, cow, cow.” And “Pig, pig, pig.”
People have also reported seeing the spirit of Quanah Parker, who was the first Native American to ride in a rodeo.

The Exchange Building had two stories. One of the stories is that a man’s small child followed him to work in the early 1900’s. He wasn’t sure what to do with her, so he let her wander around. She went to play in the vault and an employee inadvertently locked her in. She wasn’t discovered in the airtight building until the next morning, and she had suffocated. Employees say they get an eerie feeling upstairs. They see a little girl running around playing and trying to get their attention. She looks out
windows at dawn. One early morning, the paranormal team from the Stockyards found two handprints on the inside of the door. 
The body of a prostitute was found inside years ago when prostitution was a licensed profession. She was probably murdered offsite and then dumped there. Her rose-scented perfume, for which she was known, can still be smelled on tours.

The Armour Swift Corporate Building is quite an attractive building outside. Arson destroyed the building in the 1970s and, with all the residual animal fat, it took 1 month to put  the fire out completely. The Spaghetti Warehouse was there after the building was rebuilt, but they couldn’t keep staff. Silverware would fly, things would be moved, staff would hear strange noises and experience uneasy feelings.  The building currently houses business offices.

Riscky's Steakhouse
is a popular restaurant in the Stockyards. A brothel was above this popular restaurant. This was a high class brothel that was more expensive than usual. The last member of the
Riscky family is very embarrassed about the brothel and won’t let people go up there. She threw everything away--but a red rocker once owned by the madame mysteriously reappeared in the building.The bells that signaled the men that their time was up are still there and working. The windows where the women would stand to attract customers have been covered up because people kept seeing apparitions of working women standing and posing in them.
Saunders Park
is a lovely part of the  Stockyards.When the nearby area of Fort Worth was known as part of  Hell’s Half Acre, however, people would take care of disputes by shooting at each other. The dead or dying were dumped into the river by the park. Historic reports from the time say that sometimes the water was red with blood. Divers report that there are too many human bones to count remaining on the bottom of that part of the Trinity River. The city decided not to dredge, leaving them out of respect.   
Miss Molly's B and B is a popular place to stay in the Stockyards. Molly is actually the name of the lead cow in the simulated cattle drive and the mascot of Fort Worth.
The actual Madame was Miss Josie. It was a speakeasy until the 1930’s, and then the site became a low end brothel. The girls were actually 11-15 years old. Most of the girls were orphans or runaways.  Miss Josie was abusive. She didn’t take any guff from the male customers and was known to throw them out on the street. She was morbidly obese and ill-tempered. The girls had huge quotas and, if they didn’t meet them or they talked back, Josie would lock them in the closet without food, water, or facilities as long as she felt the the discipline was required. 
Girls were very competitive and would poison each other’s food and lotion, resulting in some violent illnesses and deaths.  Miss Josie had a daughter, father unknown, who she abused terribly. When the little girl was 8 years old, she disappeared.  Everyone thought Josie had killed her, but it was never investigated.  One time a little girl on the ghost tour had her hair pulled and told her mother that “Mary was messing with her.” No one had told the little girl that Josie’s daughter was named Mary. The owner keeps toys for Mary that no one else is allowed to play with and the playthings move around.
Josie’s room and the Cowboy’s room are the most haunted. Men have their shoulders rubbed or their heads patted, but women report feeling very unwelcome and watched.
Miss Josie's Room

Cowboy's Room
The Longhorn Saloon
is a popular watering hole.  Three cowboys stopped to drink, just boys between 15 and 17. They got drunk and got back on what they thought were their horses. The men whose horses they stole confronted them and the boys were hanged in the saloon.  Now women in the ladies bathroom report having their legs tugged and feeling like they are being watched.

We ended up back at the Cowtown Winery. The paranormal team that works the Stockyards swept the building and found just as much activity as Miss Molly’s.  It used to be a Chinese Laundry with the family living above.  People feel the presence of a young boy. A medium said he was killed by an abusive parent, who kept him in a cupboard behind the bar. There is an old-fashioned sock monkey doll no one admits to having brought in.  It will disappear for days, then reappear in odd places.

Another presence is also felt. Wine is spilled during the night, crackers are spilled, and cases topple over. The motion detector is never tripped.  People hear glass break and rush in, but nothing is broken.

Photo: Jess Vide

While the guide was talking about the little boy, the street light in the alley was flickering. When she got to the story of the other presence, the light went out with a “Pop!” Everyone jumped, looked at the light, and then laughed at themselves. As the tour dispersed and the guide went back in, one of the remaining tourists said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the light came back on?”

And it did!

If you're ever in Fort Worth, Texas, you should really take the Haunted Stockyards Tour with the Cowtown Winery. I enjoyed it tremendously and the local history was fascinating. 

Do you believe in ghosts? Leave a comment below.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Great Land Grab - Homesteading in America by E, Arers

 When the New Territories were acquired, AKA the Louisiana Purchase, thousands of acreage become available. Suddenly land was available for people to homestead. But homesteading wasn’t easy.

 People had to meet certain requirements. The farms had to be self-sufficient. Plus, the government gave a certain amount to land to the railroads. They created a checkerboard pattern in the west. It also allowed freed Blacks to move westward and gain land. This became a problem for several law makers. Several lawmakers didn’t want slavery in the west, while others did.  Other senators wanted to allow freed Blacks to acquire land.

Only 40% of those who attempted homesteading succeeded. Most homesteading occurred during and right after the Civil War.  But there are several states that still allow homesteading. And we are not the only country that allows homesteading, Only a small percentage of the USA was homestead.

 The biggest problem was self-sufficiency. Lawmakers in the east didn’t understand that the west wasn’t exactly the same as farming in the east. Land was not as fertile, and it required more land for cattle to graze. Homesteading required a great deal of ingenuity because the laws were based on farming in the east. Lucky were those who were able to buy land from the railroads. That increased their chances. Even today, ranching in the west requires skill.

 A friend’s dad who lived in Texas bought land there a few years ago from a woman who they’d known forever. The land was barren, but it had a cabin on it. My friend’s dad figured it was the perfect place for him to sneak away and be by himself for a weekend. Shortly after buying the land, my friend’s father died. Her mom didn’t really care about the property but held onto it. About two years after her dad died, oil was discovered on the land. Now my friend’s mother is making a not so small fortune off the land.

 I love writing then and now stories. I have one in the works about the Lorde’s ranch today (A Rancher’s Request- historical)

A Rancher's Request.  (Click om the cover for an excerpt.)



Thursday, October 8, 2020



Wives and Captives

By Cora Leland


When I began to consider my latest book,  Rescuing the Indian’s Wife,  I looked straight at the complicated lives of young women who’d been kidnapped as children.  My heroine was engaged to be married to the highest noble warrior in the tribe, with only the chief to care for her if the marriage turned bad, if her husband abused, neglected or hurt her.


I had to look closely at what these young settler women had to embrace. The conflicting feelings must have been horrible.  Living away from more safety during a pregnancy was just one reality they’d have to live with.  My heroine also wondered how much freedom she’d be allowed when she became a ‘real’ Indian, a wife and mother.  Here are some of the ideas I found most fascinating.  There are many more.




The basic statement comes from local lawmen of the times, that the settlers of the southern plains (those plains south of the Dakotas and Canada) left their women and children entirely too much alone and unprotected.   ‘The women and children are left to care for all emergencies on their own, on the road and at the far-flung farms and ranches.’


Letters, diaries, newspapers and researchers tell us that most Indian raids took place when all or most of the men were working their land, leaving the women and children to care for everything, or with one or two men to speak to the Indians who’d come to call.  If the man sensed danger, he’d transact any business, like loaning/giving tobacco and meat, while the women and children escaped.


This was exactly the situation on the Parker settlement in the first third of the 1800’s. The Parker man of the home, answering the Native Americans’ needs was slaughtered; soon after that, Granny Parker saw her husband scalped alive before she was severely abused, then she escaped.  The story of Cynthia Ann Parker is so well-known that I’ll proceed to other tales and photos. 

Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter Prairie Flower

This article will also discuss how and why Indian raids were so common and describe early abductions in the colonies.


In colonial times, the Esopus Indians attacked several Dutch villages.  The villagers opened their gates to this local tribe to give the charity the Native Americans asked for that day.  When one of the Natives alerted the leaders, the Indians opened fire, slaughtering people in their houses with tomahawks, capturing and taking 8 women and 26 children as prisoners.


The stories of captive women have been told from many different points of view.  One of the most intriguing was written by Netherlands novelist Arthur Japin.  Cynthia Parker’s story of a kidnapped child who married a Native American chieftain is told through the other surviving female of the Parker attack, “Granny.”


Granny Parker was the only woman seriously abused in the raid, and in her words, she gave the rest of her life to seeing her ‘children’ brought again into freedom.  Japin’s version quotes Granny’s thoughts and reactions during the first meeting.  In seconds, Granny’s reactions raced from stunned silence to shattered dreams and finally to love. 


“I was at first staggered by the fact that she didn’t recognize me.  She didn’t have the faintest idea who I was…I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t know how… I did like her and placed my hand on my breast… on one arm she was still carrying her little girl, who was tugging at the long grey feather tangled in her mother’s hair…


“With that little girl between us we kissed and hugged…but I suddenly got a whiff of the mixture of tannis and pus lofting out of my granddaughter’s hair.”


Granny was realistic about the ways Indians survived:  in this case, scraping and drying and soaking skinned animals like her granddaughter was wearing.  Curing skins with scarcely any tools simply had odors.  Instantly she recognized that she was feeling what was contrary to what she’d expected. Then she reunited deeply with her long lost grandchild.


 By 1836, the date Japin uses for this meeting between Cynthia Ann Parker and her precious grandmother, Indian tribes had been decimated,  often with ¾ of the population dying from smallpox, cholera or influenza.  Cynthia Ann’s story was originally planned as being named Surrender but was finally published in Dutch as De Overgave and will be translated into English as Someone Found.

Cynthia Ann Parker's son, Quanah Parker, last great Comanche Chief 



The child and young woman thefts were common because of the tribes' shrinking populations.  The earliest smallpox epidemic outside of California so terrified the local settlers that the only authorities in the tiny town refused to allow the Indian tribes in the region to stay – even though the Indians were infected and some very sick with smallpox.  Bed rest was the only cure then for smallpox, though a vaccine had been invented and was available in the Wild West.


Other places, though, did vaccinate everyone,  including settlers and Native Americans.  In at least one case, the Indians, after receiving vaccination, retired to quarantine without being asked and returned only when the tribe was completely healed.


Though Cynthia Ann Parker starved herself, as you know, when her own daughter died of pneumonia, other women captives had their own reactions to captivity, and like Cynthia Ann’s, those feelings were often conflicting. 


A Puritan settler, Mary Rowlandson, was stolen and rescued in 1674.  Although she was in many ways thankful to be among those she knew and loved, she wrote of her life among the Wampanoags.  "I can remember the time," she confessed, "when I used to sleep quietly without workings in my thoughts, whole nights together; but now it is other wayes with me."


Children captives also noted the freedom and respect they got from their Indian families and the entire Native American community where they lived as one of the tribe.  Herman Lehrman, in particular, is worth listening to.  He was first kidnapped by the Apache and then the Comanche but eventually returned to his family later in life. 


Lehrman and Adolf Korn were called ‘White Indians,’ or children who turned completely from their own cultures to the ways of their Native American captors.  Children were often terrified of Caucasian settlers, especially, and remained with their new families out of fear of what would happen among the settlers. 


One persistent story that kept children from attempting to return, even if they felt like it, was that children, especially young women, who were raised among Native Americans, forgot their origins and became ‘too much like Indians.’  What if they were scorned and hated? At least with their Indian families, they could survive, even with privations.


Korn, in particular, became a wild and fearless raider.  Researchers say that young White Indian males followed their Native American instructors’ traditions for the rites of passage: young men were expected to burn houses and even to scalp and kill.


In fact, one record notes that when a young settler captive was told to burn a house, he hesitated an instant, then seeing his teacher’s expression, started the house and barn blazing.   Later, when his teacher said simply, ‘Scalp him,’ the young man immediately did this, noticing the quivering of the man’s head as he scalped him.


Korn destroyed his former neighbors’ property without any instructor, or so the records say:  he ran into the house, weaving through his victims, got fire from the kitchen, and set fire to the house and outbuildings.


By the times of Benjamin Franklin, a precedent had set in the country’s history.  In the 1700’s, he remarked that rescued colonists (settlers at that early time) ‘ran back to the woods.’  He found it incomprehensible that a colonist child would abandon his or her own civilization.  Franklin was among those who believed one of their duties was to share their own religion and high standards of health and cleanliness with their native neighbors, only to see these kidnapped children refuse to return.


For one final story that took place in the Wild West of the 1850’s, a former Mormon family, the Oatmans, were achieving what many people valued highest in their trek out West:  living as they wanted.  The Oatmans had left the traditional Latter Day Saints in Utah and followed a wagon train to California, but they left it as well. On their own, they went to New Mexico and Arizona, but were stopped from going further by warnings of Indian raids.    


Royce Oatman’s family, however, decided to continue.  Eventually a serious attack did take place and most of them were killed.  Lorenzo, another child, was beaten and left for dead. He came to consciousness and walked for help.

Lorenzo Oatman as a grown-up

Two daughters, Olive and Mary Ann, were stolen by the Apaches.  The girls were finally taken to a quiet village – a great deal of walking, as prisoners, without food or water, took place before then.  Eventually they were sold to the Mojave tribe.


Like many other stolen children, they were accepted and loved within a family.  Both sisters were accepted as members of this new tribe (Mojave), and their faces were tattooed like all other women in the tribe,  with blue lines on the chin and lower area around the mouth.  Some Mojave women had many more tattoos and all dressed with their upper bodies unclothed.

During a horrible period of starvation, Olive was kept alive by one of her ‘mothers.’  Her sister, Mary Ann, died, as did a great number of the tribe. 


The Oatman girls with grieving Mojave women

Olive survived and was finally rescued by the authorities. Back among the European-American settlers, Olive survived as well as she could, given the hideous shocks she’d endured.  Her travels and lectures are well-known, but I’d like to emphasize her happy life as a wife.  She married John B. Fairchild, a man she met on her lecture tour, and soon retired from public life entirely, to settle down quietly as a wife and mother.