Friday, July 28, 2017

The Pioneer Women

The Pioneer Women

In late June, I attended the Western Writers of America Conference in Kansas City, MO, which is the trail-head for the Santa Fe, the Oregon, and the California Trails. Kansas City takes great pride in its statuary and its fountains. Two memorable statues in Kansas City for me are the Pioneer Mother (http://bit.ly/2uvkSqz) in Penn Valley Park near downtown, and the Pioneer Crossing Park (http://bit.ly/2t2MXRK) in the nearby Shawnee Mission area of Kansas. Earlier in the year, we detoured east from I-35 to visit Ponca City, OK, to visit the Pioneer Woman Museum, home of an equally well-know statue of the Pioneer Woman.
These memorials pay tribute to the role strong-willed women played in developing the West, as we know it today. While each bronze is unique, all three emphasize the role of mother and child. The family produced a leavening effect on a wild, untamed, and uncharted land. The family reminded all of the fundamental fabric of society, the marriage of man and woman, who were to procreate and work the land.
The society of the mid- to late-1800s placed a multitude of restrictions on a woman’s role. However, the rigid societal structure weakened after crossing the Missouri border into the territories. The nature of the quest forced women to become an active partner, for survival, if for no other reason.
Each of us has our version of the strong-willed, determined woman standing beside her man, reloading the cap-and-ball rifles to ward off marauders. If the man fell, the woman picked up the rifle, continuing the fight to save herself and her children. The surviving woman, now a widow, faced a different life, then as now.
Life for a single mother in 1866 wasn’t all that different than in 1966. If a woman decided to remarry, she uprooted her family to move with her new man. In the process, the mother and the children experience a lot of anxiety about their new life. In my story, Tibby’ Hideout, Bess Newcomb says yes to a traveler who visited her twice a year while he carried trade goods to and from San Antonio. He wrote her wonderful letters. After accepting his proposal, Bess loads her family and their belongings into her Studebaker station wagon to move to Las Vegas.
Wait you say—“They didn’t have Studebaker cars in 1866. Where’d she get a Studebaker?” 
Studebaker of 1966 was the same company that built sturdy, reliable overland freight wagons and smaller station wagons in 1866.
What about LasVegas? It wasn’t there in 1866.
No, this is not the one in Nevada. In 1866, travelers on the Santa Fe Trail found Las Vegas, New Mexico, as the welcome last stop on the prairie before climbing into the mountains to reach Santa Fe.
As often experienced by new families, Tibby Newcomb wasn’t ready for a new father, or for moving from Comfort, Texas, and leaving his grandpa behind. Eight-year-old Tibby’s solution was to run-away. His Ma called him the “man of the house,” ever since he could remember. “Got her a new beau—she don’t need me anymore.” Tibby’s childish logic leads him into trouble.
Bess’s treatment of Tibby’s misbehavior may shock some of today’s readers. I remind those readers that in 1866 “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” was more than a sampler on the wall—they put it to practice. Bess gives Tibby a knuckle pop on the head when he says, “dang.” She yanked him up straight by the hair of his head for sassing her.
Tibby finds the ideal place to hideTrue to the Union, Bess fought two battles to defend her home and children. Once again, Bess must step up when her new husband falls wounded. The new family survives the encounter, a little worse for the wear. HEA.
, expecting his mother to leave him behind with grandpa. It’s such a good hideout, a gang of rustlers uses it—much to Tibby’s surprise. A reluctant Tibby leads the rustlers to Bess. In her first story,
The women who settled the west, as portrayed by Bess, became determined and strong-willed to survive the harsh land. The same respect is due those women who ventured west to marry strangers. They were not “came later” or “moved here,” (as opposed to “born here.”) These women rolled their sleeves, pitching in to stand by their men. The memorial statues mentioned in the opening were created to honor all of those pioneer women.

But wait…there’s more!
Tibby’s Hideout is one of my short stories in the anthology of eight western romances called The Posse. It’s available on Amazon, but if you want a free ebook of The Posse, join my blog, Traveling the West, and I’ll send you a copy—free! http://authorfrankkelso.blogspot.com

Bess is the protagonist of a Chapter book series, The Pioneer Woman, I plan to release in the summer of 2018. Bess, her sons Tibby and Isaiah, and her new husband, Joe Robidoux, will have more adventures.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cowboy Day

Today, I'm sharing the post from an author friend. I liked what she had to say about being a "cowboy" isn't about wearing the boots and hat, it about living by the "cowboy code." I hope you like as much as I did.

If you get this post from FB or shared from a friend and you want to join, click http://bit.ly/ThePosseWEB      If you join up, I'll give you a free copy of The Posse.

National Day of the Cowboy: Celebrating an American Icon
By E.E. Burke           https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEEBurke/

July 22 is National Day of the Cowboy. We in American have set aside a special day to recognize and celebrate cowboys.
What it is about cowboys and the cowboy lifestyle we find so compelling? I asked this question of other authors and got surprisingly similar answers. Or maybe it’s not so surprising.
Summed up, we all share a deep love for the iconic cowboy. He’s the hero of our romance novels, he has equal parts courage and honor, and he follows a code of ethics that don’t just guide him, they define him.

Historically, the “cowboy code” wasn’t a set of laws or statutes, it wasn’t even written down. Rather, it was about core values, and an unspoken understanding about how one should behave—in public and in private. Here’s a nice summation:

1) Live each day with courage.
2) Take pride in your work.
3) Always finish what you start.
4) Do what has to be done.
5) Be tough, but fair.
6) When you make a promise, keep it.
7) Ride for the brand.
8) Talk less and say more.
9) Remember that some things aren't for sale.
10) Know where to draw the line.

Even today, this “cowboy code,” or “code of the West,” speaks to us. Why?
I think it’s because it inspires us to be better than we often are, and it reminds us that these are the kind of values that will truly make a nation great.

But makes a cowboy a cowboy? It isn’t putting on jeans and boots and a hat, and driving around in a truck listening to country music, or displaying guns, or flying your colors. Feel free to do all that (this is what freedom grants you), but if you’re coarse and rude, or dishonest and lazy, the rest of package doesn’t matter. True cowboys, using the iconic definition I talked about earlier, are those who live by “the code.”

A little cowboy history

In reality, the original “cowboys” were mostly young men in their late teens and early twenties, who sought adventure and money as drovers taking cattle across rough, often hostile, country. They worked long hours, often through sleepless nights, keeping the herd together, safe and pointed north until they reached the rail-head. Most of the men who worked this job didn’t even own the cattle. If the owner was a rancher, he might ride along, but not always; and sometimes the owners were businesses, not individuals.

It generally took upwards of three months to reach the rail-head, where the cows would be loaded to be taken east to a slaughterhouse. Most of the cross-country cattle drives (such as the ones we think of when we hear “The Chisholm Trail”) were made in the early 1870s, before the railroads connected Texas to eastern markets.

Cowboys faced natural disasters (frequent storms and flooding), stampedes caused by any number of factors, inhospitable strangers, such as the farmers who hated the Texas cattlemen because of tick fever … and the list of obstacles goes on and on. Cowboys relied on physical vigor, cleverness, and sheer determination, along with the experience they gained along the way.

Out on the frontier, cowboys had to depend on each other’s character rather than depend on a set of written laws. In fact, the cowboy tended to be a mite independent (translate that, stubborn as a mule’s hind end). He might flaunt the law of a territory or state, particularly if he didn’t think it made sense, but you could count on him to abide by the code. Those who didn’t were drummed out of the brotherhood, at the very least.

Yes, cowboys could be wild, and at times, violent. They could also be generous, loyal and considerate, particularly to ladies. Were they perfect? Hell, no. And I’m betting they’d laugh if someone told them today they’re considered heroes with a special day set aside to honor them.

I’d like to introduce you to Texas Hardts, which follows a family steeped in the cowboy code.

Seducing Susannah, The Bride Train https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NB22Y6G/

Ross Hardt must marry a proper lady to reclaim his inheritance. Among the few remaining prospects is a beautiful, sassy widow who has tantalized him from the day they first met--the same day she slapped his face.

Susannah Braddock journeyed west on The Bride Train in search of agood father for her young son, but on the lawless frontier few candidates meet her requirements, least of all the arrogant, demanding, unfeeling railroad agent.

As Fate—and Ross’s scheming—draws them closer, Susannah glimpses unexpected tenderness beneath his harsh exterior, and she’s tempted by the fiery passion that flares between them. But when a secret comes out that threatens to destroy their budding relationship, passion isn’t enough. Only love can weather the oncoming storm.

Seducing Susannah features the founders of a legendary Texas ranch, and Maybe Baby kicks off a series about their descendants

Maybe Baby, Texas Hardts            https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7YAQDF/

Jen Chandler can’t ignore the urgent ticking of her biological clock, no matter how many hours she puts in at work. The nesting instinct has kicked in big-time, and she wants a baby. After too many failed relationships, plus issues with intimacy, she isn't interested in obtaining a husband. Instead, she sets out in search of a sperm donor to make her dream come true.

Logan Hardt, a laid-back cowboy who shows up at her Atlanta home one day, turns out to have the right genes, as well as a pressing need for cash. But he's seduced by more than Jen’s generous offer, and the closer the time comes to say goodbye, the less willing he is to honor a contract that would require him to walk away and never look back.

Could a contract between them lead to more than a baby? Maybe.


Thanks for reading Elisabeth's Blog. Post a thank you on FB or Tweet on National Day of the Cowboy. It's all about honoring our past and respecting those who blazed the trail.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Uvalde Texas

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Uvalde Texas

The short sentence from the Texas State History Association describes the west Texas town of Uvalde: Founded in 1853 … border warfare and lawlessness prevailed until the late 1880s.
If you’re a fan of “the old west,” Uvalde sat at the crossroads. The San Antonio-San Diego Mail route passed through Uvalde, heading for Del Rio and then to El Paso on the way to San Diego.
Another road led south to Eagle Pass on the way to Saltillo, Mexico. This road was the western trail of the El Camino Real to Mexico City. From the days, when Texas was under Spanish/Mexican rule, it was the primary commercial road from San Antonio to Saltillo.
The nearby Nueces River fed the wells and springs in Uvalde, making it an oasis in the west Texas desert. The Nueces flows from springs at the edge of the Edwards plateau in the hill country north of Uvalde. The Nueces meanders across south-central Texas from Uvalde to Three Rivers, Texas. The Nueces Plains formed a vast fertile prairie. During the Civil War, longhorn cattle roamed free to become the source of tens of thousands of beeves driven north in the great cattle drives of the late-1860s and 1870s before expansion of the rail system ended cattle drives.
I spent an afternoon prowling through the Virginia Wood Davis Archives in the El Progresso Memorial Library in Uvalde. I had the pleasure to meet and speak with Virginia, the well-known curator of the Archives. My visit was typical of visiting any library or bookstore—wanting to sit and read every book in sight.
My wife reminded me, “You schedule more things to do than we have time to do them.”
I found one interesting story of a ne’er-do-well in 1889, arrested for drunk and disorderly, turned on Sheriff Daugherty shooingt him dead, only to killed himself by a deputy. This Daugherty was no relation to the well-known Texas cattleman and early cattle trail driver.
In 1881, Uvalde hired a deputy sheriff named John King Fisher. What made it remarkable was Fisher had a reputation as a murderer, rustler, and horse thief. Fisher claimed, after his marriage in 1876, that he mended his ways. He bought a small ranch between Uvalde and Eagle Pass, staying out of trouble with the law until Uvalde hired him as a deputy. Within a few months, a country grand jury indicted the elected sheriff on corruption charges. County officials appointed Fisher the Acting Sheriff. A likeable fellow and efficient at keeping the peace, he made friends in Uvalde and planned to run for election in 1884.
To celebrate his rise in politics, an old pal of Fisher’s from his outlaw days, Ben Thompson, a notorious gunman in his own right, and the off-and-on elected City Marshall of Austin, invited Fisher to meet him in San Antonio.
Six months earlier, Thompson, while City Marshal of Austin, visited the Vaudeville Theater in San Antonio. In the back rooms, he entered a card-game with the theater owner, Jack Harris. The two quarreled over cards leading Thompson to shoot Harris. After a sensational trail, Thompson was acquitted, but he won no friends in San Antonio.
In an act of bravado, on the evening of March 11, 1884, Thompson and Fisher visited the Vaudeville Theater. After entering the darkened theater, Thompson and Fisher were shot in the back, killing both men. Following another sensational build up, a coroner’s jury ruled the deaths in self-defense, No one was ever charged with either murder.
Despite all the accusations of Uvalde be a rough town, few records exist to document any shooting or outrageous behavior. It may have happened, but “ain’t nobody talking about it.”

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Modern day Uvalde is a pleasant community. It is know as the spinach capital of the US, where water from the Nueces irrigates miles of flat lands south of the city. The most unusual relic in the area is a large abandoned plot that once housed the largest Internment Camp in the US. It held German Navy prisoners captured at sea, and Japanese-Americans families.
The road trip continued to Brackettville and Fort Clark in the next post.