Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Pioneer Thanksgiving

By Roberta C.M. DeCaprio

All of us grew up with celebrating Thanksgiving on the next-to-last Thursday of November, but the origin of this tradition wasn’t always the case.

December 18th, 1777 marked the first time that all 13 colonies joined in a Thanksgiving celebration. It commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga.

President George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving for November 26th, 1789 to honor the formation of the United States government.

It wasn’t until 1830 that the State of New York proclaimed Thanksgiving an official holiday. Other states soon followed its example.

In 1850 Minnesota territory’s Governor, Alexander Ramsey, proclaimed for what is now the State of Minnesota, plus the Dakotas as far west as the Missouri River, (which contained approximately 6,000 settlers at the time), the celebration of Thanksgiving Day to be on December 26th.

Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor for her Boston Ladies’ Magazine, wrote many articles championing the cause to have all nations join together in setting apart a national day of giving thanks. By 1852, Hale succeeded in uniting 29 states in making the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day. Finally, after a 40 year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale’s passion became a reality. On October 3rd, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving.

In 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the next-to-last Thursday of the month to be Thanksgiving Day. This break with tradition was prompted by requests from the National Retail Dry Goods Association. To this day that date has remained.

While stuffing and roasting the turkey you’ll dine on this Thanksgiving, keep in mind that in 1868 in Wyoming Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated with turkey and all the trimmings. Cheyenne printers feasted on oysters.

In 1881 troops at Wyoming’s Fort Washakie dined on ten elk, six black-tailed deer and one buffalo. Apples, almonds, pecans, cherries and codfish were also part of the meal.

A “Calico Hop” in Sheridan, Wyoming on Thanksgiving night featured supper, music, dancing and a taffy pull contest.

The November, 1871 issue of “The Laramie Sentinel” advertised canned corn, nuts and fresh, cultivated cranberries at the Eagle Bakery. But not a single advertisement, however, featured a turkey. Maybe 1871 was a bad year for turkeys all over the State of Wyoming.

If you’re interested in further information on how the pioneers celebrated Thanksgiving, pick up a copy of “The Frontier Holiday”. This book describes Thanksgiving as a spirited celebration.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks for the Giving

I’m the new arrival to this blog group. I sold a Western romance to The Wild Rose Press in October and I’ve been trying to play catch-up since then. Not that I didn’t know what selling entails. This is actually my second book, but in the years between sales I’ve been focused on the writing, and not so much on the marketing.

So, I have to re-design my website, update the personal MySpace page, actually start blogging on my blog and now I’m invited to join an awesome group of writers. Did I mention the more than full-time job? I know, poor me, I sold a book. But, I was unprepared.

Which leads me right into the topic of this post, because tomorrow is Thanksgiving, our traditional day to pause, join with loved ones and eat a dinner with about 5000 calories. Of course, we think about the origins of this holiday as we watch parades and football games. After, all we learned everything we’d ever need to know about Thanksgiving in third grade, right? It involves Pilgrims with weird clothes who invited Indians wearing buckskins with feathers in their hair to dinner. The Pilgrims gathered to pray and thank God for getting them through the worst year of their lives. Got it.

Except, if you do a bit of research, you’ll discover that isn’t really the whole story. First of all, it wasn’t even a day for prayers of thanks. Those folks were Puritans, and if you remember your English history, they captured the government and executed the King of England, (Charles I). When the king’s son returned to claim the throne, some of the revolutionaries plotted against him. They were invited to leave. They headed to the New World. If you’re a Puritan, I don’t mean to insult you, but those folks were not noted for their sense of humor. They were pious, and we’d probably call them religious fanatics today.

So off to the New World they sailed, landing on Plymouth Rock. They were heading for the Catskill area of New York, but with stormy weather and not so great navigation, they went a bit off course. It was November and the place they landed looked pretty good after sixty-six days at sea. They found an Indian community that had been decimated by disease, (brought to them by Europeans) and settled in for the winter. Things did not go well. Ah, to the message of the post: They Were Not Prepared.

Without enough food or medicine, nearly a third of the group died. By the spring, they were in bad shape, but a local man, Squanto, who happened to speak English decided to help them. They worked hard through the season. They learned some valuable lessons. (I can relate). By the harvest, things were going better and they decided to host a traditional Harvest Festival, but not a Thanksgiving. For a Pilgrim, that would have involved a long day of prayer and fasting. This was a celebration.

They invited the neighbors, who had been kind to the Pilgrims despite their ignorance of living on land that actually belonged to them. Squanto, his friend Massasoit who was the sachem for the Wampanoag tribe he lived with, and about ninety of their relatives arrived. Once again, the Pilgrims were unprepared. They didn’t have enough food for the celebration and the Indians recognized the situation immediately. The guests went hunting, fishing and back to their wigwams. They returned with enough food for everyone and the three day party began.

They feasted, told stories and played games. Maybe this is where the idea of having football games on Thanksgiving started. I wish I could say it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but most of us know it didn’t turn out all that well for the Indians. Many people of the tribe died from disease, and those left a generation later were attacked by the same Pilgrims they shared the meal with on that first Thanksgiving Day. When it comes to Native people, our history is dark and disturbing. The descendants of the original tribes have a lot to be angry about, and have a different perspective of our national holiday.

Did you know that November is Native American Heritage Month? As part of my job, I create programs for one of the busiest library systems in the US. I decided to give the Indians some equal time, and we offered several programs to educate the community about Native American culture and heritage. By the way, before I wrote this I asked my friends about what to call them, Indians? Native Americans? Aborigines or First Nation? They said all the titles work, if you are speaking with respect. The photo at the top of this post is of two of my favorite Native American performers, Peter Ali playing the flute and Gene Tagaban who is a Raven Dancer.

So, I invite you to think about the other part of Thanksgiving this year and consider the folks who actually pretty much made it happen, but don’t get much credit. We should all thank the Creator that they were there, and as we count our blessings remember to add special thanks for the kindness of strangers.

Happy Harvest Festival,
Deborah Schneider

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


ABOVE: The house I imagined on the West Texas Spanish ranch. The image is actually a residence in San Miguel, in the mountains in the interior of Mexico.


During the Eighteenth Century, Spain ruled Texas, and during the Nineteenth Century, Mexico ruled. Both of these countries issued hundreds, if not thousands, of land grants. Spain granted land to build towns around missions, which were actually forts, and granted thousands of acres for ranching. Mexico followed the same pattern until Texas won its independence.
Research found on the internet describes a dizzying number of grants, large and small, urban and country, along with often vague genealogies of families associated with the land.
With this information, I loosely based my first novel, ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS, on a ranch which was an old Spanish land grant owned by the fictional Spanish Romero family.
Rafael Romero, the father, married a half-breed woman whose father was a Comanche warrior and whose mother was a Spanish lady. Together, they had one child—a son named Ricardo.
In 1880, Ricardo Romero travels by train all the way to the East Texas town of Nacogdoches. His mission is to purchase twenty blooded mares and one fine stallion from the ranchers of that area, who were known to have the finest horseflesh a man could buy.
While there, he becomes acquainted with a beautiful Anglo woman, Miss Cynthia Harrington, the daughter of the richest man in town. They marry, and he takes her home to the ranch on the far Western edge of the Texas frontier.
Ricardo Romero knocked three times on the massive door of the Harrington residence. Maria answered, looked at him, sniffed with her chin up, and asked with one raised eyebrow. “Yes?”
“I need to see Miss Cynthia. Now, please.”
“Yes, sir, follow me,” she answered only somewhat meekly.
While he waited in the parlor, Ricardo thought through his plan once more. Was this the right thing to do? His schedule was to leave in three days. Would that be enough time? He paced back and forth in front of the large front window, hoping Mr. Harrington would not come home. All he needed to do was convince Cynthia, and he believed he could. The biggest problem was his family and other situations waiting at the ranch.
He heard her approach and spun on his heels. There she was, pale but beautiful, sad but strong.
“What are you doing here?” She cocked her head to one side. He thought she’d been crying, at least sometime during the previous hours.
“Will you sit here beside me?” He swept his long arm toward the love seat.
She sat and he sat beside her. “Cynthia, I have news. And I have a proposition. Will you hear me out?”
Turning slightly toward him, she leaned forward in curiosity. “What do you want, Ricardo?”
“I want to ask you to marry me. Three days from now, if you will.”
She gasped and pulled back. “What?”
“I ask for your hand in marriage,” he said as he studied her light blue eyes, so wide with surprise. She had not turned from him yet. “The marriage proposal you received yesterday will be retracted soon, before the afternoon is over, I’m certain. So, I ask you to marry me instead, but not a month from now—in three days.”
“Why three days?” she asked with surprise in her voice. “And how do you know Harris will retract his proposal?”
He almost laughed. She asked why so soon, not “why on earth” would he ask in the first place. Then, she asked about Newton.
“Believe me; Harris Newton does not want to marry you, now. Because you were out on the road with me all night. He will retract his proposal.”
“Well, then, why should I marry you in three days?”
This was a good sign, a good sign, indeed. “Because I’m going home, and I want you to go with me—as my bride. Will you, Cynthia? Will you marry me?”
She was speechless, but she did not reject him out of hand. After some moments of heavy silence, she asked. “Where exactly do you live?”
He breathed a sigh of relief. “West of San Antonio, on a very large ranch.”
“Why are you here in Nacogdoches? I’ve often wondered.”
“To buy blooded mares to add to our herd.”
“Our. Who else?”
“My father. He and I ranch together on property that’s been in his family for generations. He and my mother live there, but it’s a very large house, and an enormous operation. It takes all of us and many vaqueros to keep things going. My father is aging, so I am mostly in charge.”
“A ranch? I know nothing of ranching or the West. I would like to live in a city. But you live…”
“Not far from San Antonio,” he hastened to say. “But it is far enough away that we only go twice a year for a holiday.”
She lowered her head and looked at her hands. “I don’t know. That seems far out of my realm of expertise. I’m not certain I could do that.”
“Answer this, Cynthia. Would you rather live here until your father finds another husband for you, or would you rather make your own decision? I’m giving you a choice.”
At that moment, they heard heavy, hurried footsteps on the porch. Both knew it was the master of the house. Just as he opened the door, stepped in, and turned toward the parlor, Ricardo gathered Cynthia into his arms. He turned her just so, placed his lips on her soft, feminine ones, and kissed her with all the passion he could muster. For good measure, he moved one hand to one breast. Instead of fighting, she responded as though she hadn’t heard her father.
“Cynthia Louise Harrington! What the devil are you up to?”
Ricardo and Cynthia pulled back, but they did not jerk apart. Instead, they gazed into each other’s eyes and parted slowly. Without caring if the man was in the room or not, Ricardo placed his palm on her cheek, and kissed her on the other, ever so sweetly and gently. Before he let her go, he whispered, “Will you marry me?”
She nodded and whispered in return, “Yes, I will marry you.”

TO: Rafaelo Romero. Double R Ranch. Rico Springs, Texas
FROM: Ricardo Romero
Arriving home STOP Twenty mares STOP One stallion STOP One bride STOP

Trailer: All My Hopes and Dreams.

The title of this novel is ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. The e-Book release is November 21, and the print will be available February 22, 2009.
Thank you for reading,
Celia Yeary


Cowboy Dreams
The Adventures of the Abernathy Brothers

In the summer of 1909, two young brothers under the age of ten set out to make their own “cowboy dreams” come true. They rode across two states on horseback. Alone.

It’s a story that sounds too unbelievable to be true, but it is.

Oklahoma had been a state not quite two years when these young long riders undertook the adventure of a lifetime. The brothers, Bud (Louis), and Temple Abernathy rode from their Tillman County ranch in the southwest corner of the state to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bud was nine years old, and Temple was five.

They were the sons of a U.S. Marshal, Jack Abernathy, who had the particular talent of catching wolves and coyotes alive, earning him the nickname “Catch ’Em Alive Jack.”

Odd as it seems to us today, Jack Abernathy had unwavering faith in his two young sons’ survival skills. Their mother had died the year before, and, as young boys will, they had developed a wanderlust listening to their father’s stories.

Jack agreed to let them undertake the journey, Bud riding Sam Bass (Jack’s own Arabian that he used chase wolves down with) and Temple riding Geronimo, a half-Shetland pony. There were four rules the boys had to agree to: Never to ride more than fifty miles a day unless seeking food or shelter; never to cross a creek unless they could see the bottom of it or have a guide with them; never to carry more than five dollars at a time; and no riding on Sunday.

The jaunt into New Mexico to visit their father’s friend, governor George Curry, took them six weeks. Along the way, they were escorted by a band of outlaws for many miles to ensure their safe passage. The boys didn’t realize they were outlaws until later, when the men wrote to Abernathy telling him they didn’t respect him because he was a marshal. But, in the letter, they wrote they “liked what those boys were made of.”

One year later, they set out on the trip that made them famous. At ten and six, the boys rode from their Cross Roads Ranch in Frederick, Oklahoma, to New York City to meet their friend, former president Theodore Roosevelt, on his return from an African safari. They set out on April 5, 1910, riding for two months.

Along the way, they were greeted in every major city, being feted at dinners and amusement parks, given automobile rides, and even an aeroplane ride by Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio.

Their trip to New York City went as planned, but they had to buy a new horse to replace Geronimo. While they were there, he had gotten loose in a field of clover and nearly foundered, and had to be shipped home by train.

They traveled on to Washington, D.C., and met with President Taft and other politicians.

It was on this trip that the brothers decided they needed an automobile of their own. They had fallen in love with the new mode of transportation, and they convinced their father to buy a Brush runabout. After practicing for a few hours in New York, they headed for Oklahoma—Bud drove, and Temple was the mechanic.

They arrived safe and sound back in Oklahoma in only 23 days.

But their adventures weren’t over. The next year, they were challenged to ride from New York City to San Francisco. If they could make it in 60 days, they would win $10,000. Due to some bad weather along the 3,619-mile-long trip, they missed the deadline by only two days. Still, they broke a record—and that record of 62 days still stands, nearly one hundred years later.

The boys’ last cross country trip was made in 1913 driving a custom designed, two-seat motorcycle from their Cross Roads Ranch to New York City. They returned to Oklahoma by train.

As adults, Temple became an oilman, and Bud became a lawyer. There is a statue that commemorates the youngest long riders ever in their hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma, on the lawn of the Tillman County Courthouse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Gunfighters, gunslingers, shooters, gunmen, highway men, outlaws, they had many names, but the thing they had in common was snubbing the law, either by robbing or killing.

Most books allege the shootouts in the streets were invented by Hollywood. That doesn’t mean the men with several notches on their pistol handles didn’t kill. They did, just not in the flourishing style as movies depict. There were shootouts, but they didn’t stand in the middle of the street and usually more innocent victims were claimed than the outlaws. And they have the gunslinger dressed as a cowboy. He would be dressed just like any other person of the area he inhabited. He didn’t come from any one social station. Only when they openly carried a pistol would they catch anyone’s attention. Most gunmen were quiet and blended in. Surprise was their best weapon. To catch their intended victim by surprise and therefore have the upper hand.

A real shooter didn’t get drawn into a shootout. The odds weren’t on his side if the person was ready and willing to shoot. He preferred to shoot when his opposition least expected it. The fast draw is also something that came about in movies.

Some gunmen started as lawmen and others moved from gunmen to lawmen. How they went one way or the other would make for good character traits in a hero or villain. Their best friend was their gun in parts of the country where there was no law and order. Though most movies and novels depict shootouts in the street with several people on each side, most shootouts were typical of the old-time duels-one against one. And where the sword duels were won on skill the gun duels were won by the person who could get the drop on the opponent. If it meant shooting him when he flinched and wasn’t really going for his gun- so be it.

Most stories about famous outlaws are just that- stories. The amount of people they killed have been embellished and for some reason the general public doesn’t care. They like the myth, the legend of the outlaw.

And you'll notice I tend to have outlaws as the villains in my books because they have been so glorified they make great characters. I can see why Hollywood took an otherwise boring and face it unlikable person and made them characters people want to see and boo.

My latest release, Outlaw in Petticoats, has a couple of bad guys that make your skin crawl but if the hero and heroine didn't have the bad guys pulling them apart how will they realize how much they love one another?

Here's an excerpt from OIP and Thank you for stopping by!

A nicker and the click of a hammer being pulled back
on a pistol, snapped Zeke awake. He rolled toward Maeve.
The flat, rough blanket smacked his body. He shot to his
feet, taking in the scene of an angry, frightened Maeve
being passed between several men.

“Let go of her!” he shouted, disregarding the gun
pointed at him and diving into the melee. He grasped
Maeve, pushing her behind him as he backed away from
the group. “Keep your hands off my wife,” he said in a low,
commanding voice and stared at each man, defying them
to take a step toward him. There was only one who
compared to him in size. The rest were average men. But
they all had guns pointed at him except for the man with
long, blonde hair and a sneer.

“We didn’t know she was your property,” said the
unarmed man, pushing his way through the five men
smirking like they were ready to take him.

Maeve took offense to being called property. It was
bad enough Zeke kept calling her his wife. The men had
pulled her from the blanket and a deep sleep, but she now
had all her faculties working. She slipped her pistol from
the holster and aimed it at the man who’d called her

“I’m no man’s property.” She stepped from behind
Zeke and heard his exasperated sigh as she pointed the
gun at the man in the front of the pack.

“That so.” The man grinned and stepped closer.

Zeke put out his arm to keep her from moving ahead
of him. She shot him a sideways glance. The twitch in his
jaw proved he was just a tad bit upset with her. She
smiled. He had to learn she didn’t belong to anyone. Not
even him. Her mother taught her a long time ago, she
couldn’t rely on anyone.

“We’re just on our way to Boyd and don’t plan on
causing you boys any trouble,” Zeke said, again pushing
her behind him.

She shook her head, planted her feet, and kept the
pistol aimed at the man, now standing half way between
them and the others.

“I don’t plan no trouble.” The man spread his hands
and smiled a disarming smile. “Fellas, put your guns
away.” The men with the guns aimed at Zeke scowled, but
they dropped the muzzles of their rifles to the ground.

She studied the man edging closer. He was a good ten
years older than Zeke and not nearly as handsome, but
still not hard to look at.

“If you aren’t looking for trouble, why did your
friends handle my wife?” Zeke’s accusing tone did little to
wipe the smile from the man’s face.

“They were just having a little fun.”

“Did that feel like fun to you?” Zeke turned and asked

She narrowed her eyes and glared at the intruder.
“No, I wouldn’t call that fun.” She scanned the group
gathered behind the man. They were all grinning like
they were about to get a gift. She wasn’t it.

“I’m tired of every man who gets within arm’s reach,
grabbing me. The next one is getting a bullet in them.” To
make them see her point, she squeezed the trigger,
shooting at the ground between the closest man’s feet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Garda, come on down!

(Sorry, the Price is Right is the only game show I ever really watched.)

Garda, who posted a comment on November 12th for Loretta’s blog, is who won the e-book of Shotgun Bride, The Quinter Brides Book One. Garda please email me at Lauri @ izoom . net so I can email you your book.

Thanks to all who entered the contest! Every time someone posted, I wrote your name on a slip of paper and put them in a jar. This morning, I had my DH draw one out.

Shotgun Bride is being released in e-book today, and will be released in print in February 2009. This was such a fun book to write, and I’m having a great time finding perfect mates for each of Kid’s younger four brothers. I grew up in Western Kansas where these books are set, and it’s been entertaining to dig deeper into all of the landmarks I’ve visited over the years. “Boot Hill” is one of my favorites, but the Dalton Gang Hideout, and the pyramids along with the Kansas Badlands, and Hell’s Half Acre are sights to see as well.

I’ll leave you with another excerpt from the book:

Shoulders back, chest forward, and clutching the hateful bag, Jessie walked down the front steps as Hog and Snake loaded her trunk in the back of the wagon. Sammy, sensing something was wrong, ran around her ankles, almost tripping her. Each step was more painful than the last, but she gritted her teeth and kept moving.

A shiver ran up her spine as she heard Kid's voice. "Bug!" he shouted from his stance near the wagon. "Grab Sammy and tie him to the porch."

Bug looked nervous as he crouched down and tried to coax Sammy to come to his side. The dog wouldn't have anything to do with the brother.

Fighting the breaking of her heart, Jessie patted her thigh then walked over to Bug. She knelt down, and wrapping her arms around Sammy, hugged him close as Bug tied the rope around his neck. Burying her face in the dark, silky hair, she kissed the tops of his wide ears before she stood, and forced her legs to move to the wagon.

Kid stepped forward, meeting her near a back wheel. As he took the bag from her, she placed a hand on the edge of the wagon, balancing her wobbly stance. Sammy, no longer able to reach her, started barking and tugging at the rope. The noise made a new slice in her chest.

Kid took her elbow and led her near the wagon seat where he wrapped her in a hug. After a few moments, his hands framed her face. "Don't be mad at me, Jessie," he said.

The sob in the back of her throat came forward. Pressing her hands over her eyes, she shook her head. She could never be mad at him, she loved him too much.

His lips settled on her forehead, lingering there until she was ready to cry aloud. Then he lifted her into the wagon, his fingers slipping away as his normally rough voice, softly whispered, "Good-bye, Jessie."

Sammy's barks increased. She pressed her fingers against her eyelids, forcing the tears to stay put. Hog took a hold of the reins and the bench seat sagged as Snake crawled up on her other side. The wagon jolted forward and the wheels began to turn. Unimaginable pain formed tight knots in her body.

"Bye, Jessie!" Bug's voice rang out above the barking.

She gasped for air and turned around, blinking and trying to focus. Bug waved a hand high in the air. Kid stood beside him, hands behind his back. Sammy, stretching the rope as far as he could, yipped and howled at the departing wagon. He pawed at the air, then backed up and leaped forward. The rope went tight, slamming him back onto the ground with a loud yelp. Tears and sobs burst from their holds at the same time.

Snake reached out, one arm meant to wrap around her in comfort. She pushed it away. Nothing could ease the pain ripping across her chest.

Kid witnessed her refusal to be calmed as the wagon roll away, pain searing his heart like a hot branding iron. The rattle of the wheels could barely be heard over Sammy's barking and howling. The dog jumped, twisted, and bit at the rope, doing his damnedest to follow his mistress. Kid knew just how he felt. Sending Jessie away was by far the hardest thing he'd ever done. It just might break him. Sweat popped out on his forehead.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Hawaiian Tanya Hanson

If you’re like most folks, you likely think the Old West stopped at America’s Pacific Coastline. Which it does if you travel three thousand miles farther. Yes indeed, Hawaii has a cowboy history all its own. It even involves vaqueros!

Those first cowboys, Mexican vaqueros, taught Texan buckaroos how to lasso, make lariats and herd cattle. But much earlier in the 1800’s, those guys traveled across the Pacific and roped longhorns in Hawaii.

What? Longhorns in Hawaii?

Captain George Vancouver brought Hawaii’s first longhorn cattle as a gift to King Kamehameha I in 1793. Vancouver believed he’d delivered a new resource to the islands, but His Majesty imposed a ten-year kapu (restriction), making them a protected species. The animals were allowed to roam wild and breed freely.

Consequently, the herds became a nuisance, harming native vegetation and forests. Upon descending the uplands, the cows knocked down fences, trampled village gardens, and destroyed taro fields.

So vaqueros from Mexico and Portugal were imported to control the cows and teach native ranchers how to oversee the herds. The islanders called these guys paniolo. Ranchers constructed stone walls and cactus barriers to stop the foraging beasts. Tourists today sometimes view old rock walls in Hawaii and assume they’re ancient heiau (temples) or home sites. But more often than not, these rock piles are just leftover cattle walls!

Like cowboys everywhere, a paniolo relied on his horse to round up the wild pipi (cattle) from the places they shouldn’t be in a particular method called Po'o Waiu, which is now a rodeo event.

In 1908, a paniolo and rodeo champ named Ikua Purdy set the rodeo world on fire with his roping and riding skills at the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. A year ago, Purdy was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. This year, the Paniolo Preservation Society sent a large Hawaiian delegation to Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, and an exhibit featuring the Hawaiian cowboy will be on display at the Old West Museum there throughout May 2010.

In turn, Wyoming sent a reciprocal delegation to The Waiomina Centennial Celebration in August. Waiomina means Wyoming in the Hawaiian language. It’s a year’s worth of rodeos, trail rides, concerts and festivities honoring Hawaii’s cowboy and ranching culture.

2008 is designated The Year of the Hawaiian Cowboy by Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and Harry Kim, mayor of Hawaii (the Big Island) County.

Today about 75 percent of the state’s cattle roam the Big Island of Hawaii. Fifth and sixth generation Hawaiian cowboys continue to raise, herd, brand, and market cattle. Parker Ranch is among the largest ranches in the United States, spanning some 150,000 acres across the Big Island. Established nearly 160 years ago, it is also one of the country’s oldest ranches.

The ranch’s story begins in 1809 when nineteen-year-old John Parker jumped the ship that brought him to Hawaii. He quickly came to the attention of King Kamehameha I for his new, state-of-the-art American musket. The gun got John the “privilege” of being the first man allowed to shoot some of the thousands of maverick cattle wandering the island’s remote plains and valleys. Due mostly to John’s efforts, salted beef replaced sandalwood as the island’s chief export.

A recent trip to the Islands took me to Koloatown on the sleepy island of Kauai. Established in 1835, it's often still called Homestead and looks like someplace you'd find in Wyoming, full of charm and history.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of aloha yee-haw! And I'm thrilled to announce the release date of my Nebraska-set Western romance, Marrying Minda. Look for it June 5! But before I sign off, which is your favorite of these United States for a Western romance to be set?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Belle Starr

Big Nose Kate

Wild Women of the West

Whether she was addressed as Madam or Ma’am, Señorita or Squaw, a woman needed guts to live out West. The “weaker sex” encountered savage, brutal and obnoxious obstacles (and these were just the men!) not to mention Mother Nature and a plague or two, or three. In spite of these barriers, or maybe because of them, the American frontier attracted legions of non-conforming women—mavericks, loners, eccentrics, and adventurers.
Some of these women we’ve learned about through history, others remain nameless to us. Those listed are just a few of many women rebels.
Belle Starr became one of the first famous women criminals. Once married to Cole Younger, she was friends with Jesse James. She was a felon, to the end, and horse thieving was her game. At the age of forty, she was shot and killed in 1889 while making her way back to an outlaw stronghold in the Choctaw Nation. Records state that no one was ever accused or convicted of the killing her and that her death went unresolved.
Cattle Kate was born Ella Watson. She was a prostitute who was hung by vigilantes after being accused of stealing cattle in Wyoming; an act which spurred the Johnson County War. She probably wasn’t a thief, but most likely took some cattle for payment for her services. Even though married in 1886, she continued her trade. She claimed a homestead right next to her husband’s (James Averell). Both homesteads were located right in the middle of land belonging to a big cattleman named Albert J. Bothwell. There were many disputes between Cattle Kate, her husband and Bothwell that led to Bothwell pulling Cattle Kate and her husband out of their homes and lynching them.
Mary Catherine Haroney later became known as Big Nose Kate. Hungarian by birth, her father was a prominent doctor. At the age of 14 she was orphaned and placed in a series of foster homes. By 1875, she’d changed her name to Kate Elder. She worked in Dodge City as a dance hall girl and prostitute. She was tough, stubborn, and with a temper to match. Although she spent several years with Doc Holliday, she said she worked the “business,” because she liked it, belonging to no man and no house.
In 1744, Catherine Gouger Goodman was captured as a child by Shawnee Indians and remained in their captivity for five years until some French-Canadians bargained for her release. She lived in Canada for two years and worked to pay off the ransom the French-Canadian trappers paid to the Indians. Later she was recognized as the first white woman settler in Ross County, Ohio.
Elizabeth Simpson Bradshaw, a widow with five children, the youngest only six years old, walked across the American Prairie pushing all her family possessions in a handmade, wooden handcart. Enduring many tribulations, Elizabeth, with all of her children still alive, arrived at her destination, Salt Lake Valley. There in the West, she made her home, reared her children and was eventually honored by her posterity.
These women reached out and took their freedom to the extreme, going places and doing things that even their mothers would probably thought disgraceful. Yet, in their lifetimes these women became legend reinforced through press dime-novels and the Hollywood motion picture industry.

Loretta C. Rogers

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wild Rice Soup & Twenty-five pounds

Last Saturday I planned on spending a comfortable day writing. Comfortable meaning, I had no intentions of getting out of my favorite loose fitting ‘pajama’ pants and extra large t-shirt. The day progressed and about 5PM I pulled out the ingredients to make pot of wild rice soup, that’s when the inevitable kink in the chain happened. I didn’t have any heavy whipping cream, which is what truly makes the soup delicious. I slipped on a pair of crocs and drove to the local convenience store a few miles from the house—all the while hoping I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. As I park, a car pulls up next to me—my neighbor lady. We climb out at the same time, look at each other, and start laughing. Our outfits were identical. Oh, her cotton pants and t-shirt had different prints than mine, and her crocs were red, mine are blue, but overall we, were twins (including the baseball hats on our heads).

“Didn’t plan on leaving the house?” I asked.

“Nope,” she answered.

We each purchased our items and left, agreeing to call each other next weekend if we found ourselves short on something. I drove home, finished the soup, and returned to writing. I’m typing away, and realize while I’m sitting in my comfy weekend clothes, my heroine just gained a good twenty-five pounds. Not from scrumptious meals cooked over a wood stove, but from the mere fact of dressing.

It started with the tight corset which, by the way, was claimed to ‘provide even the stoutest of women a healthy option to control the shape of her body’. (Yeah, right!). Along with the corset, add at least two petticoats, drawers, a chemise, crinoline, and bustle with cover, a corset cover, the ever fashionable hoop skirt, which was made with thick, heavy wire so it wouldn’t lose it’s shape, and then over all of this came the dress, (these were often made of heavy cottons, brocades, and wools). A women’s ensemble of 1800’s easily weighed over twenty-five pounds—without shoes, overcoat/cape, hat, gloves, etc. etc.

In the 1860’s the popular, huge hoop skirts limited movement and sitting to the point at some social events, woman stood for the entire evening. No wonder the ‘vapors’ set in!

With the popularity of the home sewing machine, patented in the U.S. in 1848, and then the invention of paper patterns in the 1860’s, came infinite changes in apparel, both for men and women. The ability to mass produce clothing provided accessibility to a much larger array. Synthetic dyes were also becoming more popular, which provided bold, vibrant colors. The Civil War and the western land runs also changed fashion. During this time the simpler clothing worn by the ‘working’ class became more popular, especially in the south and west. Laboring in the plantation fields and/or walking for up to forty miles a day beside a covered wagon, women quickly discarded layers and the more constricting garments. Until then most of the fashions came from overseas, and filtered through the U.S. by way of New York, but the gold rush in California quickly increased the population of the western U.S. shore and the women there, being outnumbered by men two to one, had the power to instill new fashion trends.

We often think of split skirts for horseback riding, but it wasn’t until the bicycle increased in popularity that split skirts and bloomers became popular. The trend started in San Francisco where women started to ‘shorten’ their skirts to ride bike. This is also where the ‘General Association for the Simplification of Women's Clothing’ was founded in 1896. I’m assuming it’s this association we have to thank for the much simpler bras and underwear of today.

I love researching and writing historicals and often have said I’d like to time travel into one of the settings of my stories, but wearing a corset everyday would be about as convenient as the outhouse, so I’m glad I live in the twenty-first century.

The next time you plan on staying home all day, relaxing in your p.j.’s and writing or reading about heroines wearing the ‘latest styles’, here’s a wonderful soup recipe to try…just make sure you have all the ingredients on hand!

Chicken Wild Rice Soup
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped onions
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup flour
2 cups cooked wild rice
2-3 tablespoons chicken flavored stock granules in 2-3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 cups heavy whipping cream
2-3 cups cooked and cubed chicken breasts seasoned with Cavender’s Greek seasoning
Pepper, salt, and Thyme to taste

Cook wild rice per instructions on package, drain. Cook (either fry or microwave chicken sprinkled with Greek seasoning), cube. Heat the 2-3 cups water and add granules as directed on the package. In large soup pot, melt butter and, sauté onion, celery and carrots until tender. Blend flour with butter and veggies until thick and lumpy. Pour in hot chicken broth, stirring constantly until creamy. Boil for one minute, while stirring turn down heat and add chicken, pepper, salt and Thyme. Simmer for 5-10 min, and then stir in rice and cream. Let simmer for 5-10 min or transfer to a crock pot.

Disclaimer: I’m a ‘pinch’ and ‘dump’ type of cook, so I’ve estimated the measurements.

I’ll leave you with a reminder that I am giving away an E-Book of Shotgun Bride-The Quinter Brides Book One on its release date, November 14th, to someone who leaves a comment on this blog before November 13th. Here’s an excerpt from the book—where Jessie discovers she was taken captive at gun point to marry one of the Quinter boys, namely, Kid:

Jessie glanced to the loft, wondering how a child could sleep through the ruckus of the house. A tinge of sorrow softened her fear, imagining how the kid they spoke of was probably hiding beneath the covers, frightened to death.

“He’ll like it just fine once he finds out we got her for him.” Stephanie scooped ground coffee into the pot then set it on the stove.

“For Kid? What does Kid want with her? Does he know about Miss Molly?” The skinny frame rising from the chair was that of a teenager, not quite a kid, not quite a man. Lamp light bounced off dark eyes wide with shock, or was it fear?

“Get off your arse and go get Kid!” Stephanie twisted, grabbed a broom, and whacked the boy with the straw end. He covered the back of his head with both hands as another wallop hit, and scrambled toward the door.

“Ma, we can’t go get Kid. It’s really raining out there,” Skeeter said as the boy skidded to a halt behind him.

“Yeah, and it’s only gonna get worse. Now go get Kid ‘afore the lightning and wind hits.”

“But Ma, Kid ain’t gonna come with us. You know that.” Skeeter reached behind his back and pulled the boy to stand in front of him. Quicker than a fly, the younger boy shot back behind Skeeter, the two of them continued to try and use the other for a shield as their mother stomped across the room.

“Well, if’n you know what’s good for ya, you’ll figure out a way to get him here. And be quick about it!” She went after both of her sons with the broom.

“I still don’t think it’s fair. You said I could have her.” Skeeter scrambled out the door as the whisk of the broom hit the younger one again.

Stephanie Quinter shouted into the rain, “And what would you do with a woman this fine? You ain’t got no idea how she needs to be treated.” She turned to Jessie, a smile softening her haggard face. “But Kid does. You’ll make him a good wife.”

“Wife?” Jessie choked on the word as the door slammed shut.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Clothing on the Prairie in the Nineteenth Century

As families traveled West in covered wagons, women brought their current fashions with them safely stored in trunks. Thus women's clothing on the prairie varied with styles from the East and Europe blending with those of pioneer women. Dresses were out-of-style and made over to try to stay current with the trends seen in magazines and fashion plates.

Material was scarce so no scrap was wasted. Thus the patchwork quilt that is so much a part of our American heritage. When the seat of a skirt became shiny with wear, the panel was removed or turned so that the shiny surface wouldn't be so obvious. Or, when worn beyond repair, remnants were removed to make clothing for the children.

The image above is of my great-great grandmother, Lavinia Ann, born December 15, 1853. Lavinia's mother, Tennessee Caledonia, was full blood Cherokee. I love the name and plan to use it in a story one day soon. The dress Lavinia is wearing looks to be black serge which was popular and serviceable at the time. I imagine it was very hot. It would have been worn to church, funerals, and on special occasions.

During 1840-65 when skirts were full, it took ten yards of the wider bolt calico fabric or fourteen yards of silk to make a dress. That was a lot of fabric so women were lucky if they got two new dresses a year. They were reserved for special occasions and the old ones relegated to everyday use.

In the early 1850's bloomers, called knickerbockers by some were worn by a few, mostly women traveling. The bloomers reached just to the top of the boots and a knee length skirt was worn over them. For women with active lives on the prairie, they were useful attire but the style didn't hang around long. Split or riding skirts did, however.
Mother Hubbard dresses were popular in the 1880s. They had rounded fitted necklines with flowing skirts that caught in the breeze scaring horses and mules causing them to bolt. Men insisted while in town women wear belts to hold them in at the waist.
This picture is of my grandmother, Martha Comfort Pyburn Riley. She was in her thirties when she left Tennessee to visit cousins in Texas. There she met my grandfather, fell in love with his young son, and married Grandpa to give my uncle a mother. My mother, one of the middle children, was born in 1923 so I assume this photo was taken in the early 1900s. This was probably her one good dress.

Starting in the 1920s, feed companies in an effort to help those suffering during the depression, started storing feed, seeds, and grain in recyclable print fabric. Grandma Riley saved the sacks that chicken feed came in and used them to make her clothes. Since the print was different on each bag, the lengths were saved until there was enough matching material to make a dress. She also gave them to her granddaughters and nothing made me prouder than to wear a feed sack dress. Back then flour sacks made dish towels, were used to strain milk, and cover food to keep off the flies. Our ancestors knew how to avoid waste.
Thanks for reading.