Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Plains Indians & The Buffalo

The Plains Indians
by Ginger Simpson

While reading historical literature about my favorite topic, American Indians, I was amazed to learn how many Plains tribes existed.  The "Plains," as defined in the 19th century, included land ranging from northern Alberta, Canada into Texas in the south, cutting swaths through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.  The names of those tribes are, but not limited to: Sarcee, Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Ojibwa, Assiniboin, Gros Ventre, Hidatsa, Mandan, Crow, Arikara, Ponca, Cheyenne, Dakota, Omaha, Iowa, Pawnee, Araphaho, Oto, Kansa, Wichita, Kiowa, Osage, Kiowa-Apache, Comanche, and Caddo.
Amazingly enough, though many tribes lived and co-existed on the Plains, the language spoken consisted of only nine different ones: Siouan, Kowan, Caddoan, Algonquian, Shoshoean, and Athabascan.  It’s not surprising that sign language became a means of communication for those who didn’t speak the same dialect.
A shared interest by all tribes was the buffalo.  Indian survival greatly depended upon the animal, and once I learned the importance of the huge shaggy beast, I suddenly understood why tribal tempers flared when white men began slaughtering the animals for the pure sport of it, shooting  through the windows of moving trains and leaving the carcasses to rot. 
For centuries and centuries, Indians have depended upon the buffalo as their mainstay.  In fact, before horses were introduced as a means of transportation, nomadic bands hunted on foot.  Of course, you can safely assume that the lifespan of these hunters was relatively short because of the danger involved. Have you seen the size of a buffalo?
Usually, twice-yearly hunts were organized and different methods were used to fall the huge beasts.  Before the advantage of riding among the herd on horseback, hunters found ways to cause stampedes and then drove the animals off a cliff.  Warriors dressed in buffalo skins and wandered among the herds, gaining a vantage point of leadership in which the bulls followed and were stunned to a fearful run by other tribe mates who stamped their feet and yelled.  Now, that's what I call bravery. 
Saying, “depended upon” is not an understatement.  Not only did the buffalo provide essential food for the tribe, nothing was wasted from a kill.  Clothing, blankets, lodge coverings, utensils, dishes, and even bowstrings were fashioned from the animal’s remains.  The meat was divided equally among the tribe, often dried with berries to create a dish called pemmican to sustain the people through the winter.

Even the needles and thread used to tack on the colorful beading that decorated the clothing of the tribe came from the blessed kill.  Take a minute and try to picture having to manufacture everything you use from a buffalo--from the food on your table to the very pot you cooked it in. That doesn't count all the work that goes into scraping and drying the hides.  I don’t know about you, but the supermarket is looking pretty darn good to me. You?
I'd like to thank Jacquie for inviting me here to share some of the old west with you. If you love the era and people as much as I do, please stop by my new western blog, Cowboy Kisses where I often host an array of talented authors who share our same passion.  Have a Nice Day, or as a Lakota woman would say:  Aŋpétu wašté yuhá pe.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chicken Dinner: Politicians, Imported Bulls, & Rifles

On Memorial Day, we honor our troops as well as our loved ones who've passed before us. It began as Decoration Day, first celebrated by the Freedmen of South Carolina during the Civil War, and continued in 1868 as a national observance for veterans, then designated a date of May 30.

And how about Idaho Territory? What were they thinking along about this time? The Owyhee Avalanche reports the state of the nation on May 25, 1872, reprinted May 23, 2012:
A STRONG NATION. The census of 1800 [RTW: 1850?] gave the total property values of the United States at $16,000,000,000. The census of 1870 makes a return of nealry $32,000,000,000. Thus the wealth of the nation had about doubled itself in a decade during which the country was convulsed by a great civil war, involving an expenditure to both sides of not less than $6,000,000,000, and a vast destruction of life and property. Seven years after this terrible struggle, the total national, state, county, and municipal debts are only $3,271,841,786, and the country sustains a total tax of $688,520,535. These figures give an impressive idea of the financial strength and wonderfully rapid development of the United States, in view of which, the national debt seems a light affair. The showing is the more remarkable when we reflect that this debt has been reduced at a rate permitting yearly reduction of taxation.
The article ends with this bit, which shows that some things never change:
All the blunders of all the politicians cannot repress energies so boundless, though they may prevent their fullest and healthiest action.
Other news involved the importation of blooded stock from the States--Durham bulls and cows, as well as Berkshire hogs, and "four hens and two cocks of an improved breed."  Obviously Idaho Territory had a healthy competition going on with Oregon. This newsworthy item ended with:
...twelve imported bulls, one cow, four hogs, and six checkens in the county at present. We doubt even if any county in Oregon can boast of such an array of imported stock. The animals were brought to Winnemucca on the cars and thence driven up here [Silver City]. They are now on the bunch-grass range in the vicinity of Camp Lyon, and are doing splendidly.
Articles of interest this week:

Trail to El Paso by Alison Bruce

And on June 1, 1866, the Winchester Repeating Arms Corporation opened in Connecticut, producing a 17-shot, lever-action rifle. (From On This Day in the Old West.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vice in the Old West: Whores with a Heart of Gold

Vice in the Old West:
Whores with a
Heart of Gold
by Jacquie Rogers
Copyright © 2009-2012 Jacquie Rogers

Just because a woman sold sexual favors, or other women’s sexual favors, to men, didn’t mean she shirked her civic responsibility. When I attended the University of Idaho, most of the young men made at least one pilgrimage to Wallace, Idaho, where several brothels operated (the law looked the other way). But we’d all known about the brothels earlier, because at the high school marching band competition, the Wallace High School Band always had the best and flashiest uniforms in the entire state—paid for by the madams of the Oasis Bordello. I’ve been told that other madams paid for Wallace’s fire station, and another donated money for playground equipment at the city park.

Don’t believe it? Read this article from the Los Angeles Times. A few years ago, my husband and I visited the Oasis Bordello. It closed in 1988 and is now a museum.

The point is, where brothels co-existed peacefully with the town, there was nearly always at least one “whore with a heart of gold.” I’m from the Pacific Northwest so most of the lore I’ve read is from here. Wherever you are, I’ll bet there’s a story of a whore with a heart of gold there somewhere.

Molly B’Dam
Maggie Hall was born in Ireland and emigrated to America when she was twenty. She was 5’6” with golden hair, blue eyes, and a bubbly personality. New York didn’t hold the pot of gold for her, though, and she went to work as a barmaid, charming the fellows but not engaging in any further activity. She married a wealthy customer named Burdan, and changed her name from Maggie, which she considered plain, to Molly. Her situation wasn’t what she’d envisioned at all. Instead of a Catholic ceremony, they were married by the Justice of the Peace. And once Burdan’s wealthy parents knew of his marriage, they cut off his allowance.

Burdan was in debt, and he begged Molly to let men have sex with her to ease his debts. Heartbroken but still in love with him, she agreed. When she went to confession, she was excommunicated. Her dreams were shattered, and her soul was forever damned.

Molly went west and plied her trade as a prostitute. She was high-priced and popular. In 1884 she headed to Idaho Territory and traveled there on the train with Calamity Jane. Calamity returned to Deadwood, but Molly traveled to Murray (that’s in northern Idaho) by pack train. The weather was freezing and snowy. When a mother with a toddler was unable to keep up with the train, Molly gave her a fur coat and put the two of them on her horse. The train went on, leaving the three of them to fend for themselves. The next day, Molly brought the mother and child into town, rented a cabin for them, and saw to their comfort.

The townspeople mistook her Irish brogue when she said her name was Molly Burdan—and from then on she was Molly b’ Dam. Molly rented a brothel and set up shop. She was generous to the miners, lending many of them a grubstake. In times of difficulty, she was the first one to help, either with her own two hands, or her bank account. She and her girls nursed the town through a small pox epidemic, and they never forgot what they owed her.

Here’s a bit of her eulogy, printed in Soiled Doves—Prostitution In The Early West by Anne Seagraves, p. 111:

Generous to a fault with her worlds good, and with her bodily strength, she was one in whom no sacrifice was too great. She was a ministering angel to the sick and suffering when exposure of illness laid men low. Neither snow nor heat kept her from an unfortunate’s bedside, and these kind acts have been recorded in the Book of Books to her credit, overbalancing the debt side.

No photos of Molly exist, although there are a few posted on the internet labeled as her.

Madam Lou Graham
(born Dorothea Georgine Emile Ohben)

Washington State Trial Lawyers Association,
formerly Lou Graham's Bordello

This is one interesting lady. She came to Seattle in 1888 after working in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast. The first thing she did was approach city officials, who were trying to get a railroad to Seattle, and tell them that if they were to be successful, the city would need an establishment where gentlemen could take their comfort in the posh style of Paris or New York City. They bought into her line of thinking and Madam Graham went to work building the classiest whorehouse in the Pacific Northwest.

Her palace of pleasure was wildly popular and profitable. She had a standing policy that any city official could get whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted at no charge. This obviously paid off, and it’s said that the lion’s share of city business was conducted there, even though city hall was only a block away. In 1889, a huge fire burned must of downtown Seattle but Madam Lou had plenty of money to not only rebuild in grander style, but to buy waterfront property as well.

The new bordello was a four-story brick structure, and is now the place of business of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

When she died, she bequeathed over $250,000 to the Seattle School District.

Julia Bulette
Julia with her firehat.

Julia Bulette was the first white woman to set up shop in Virginia City, Nevada. It was in 1859, and Wikipedia reports that she charged $1,000 a night for her services. Silver was flowing and it made a lot of men rich, so I don’t have any reason to doubt this amount.

She was well-liked for her wit and personality as well as her shapely body. She was generous with her spirit as well as her money, and at one time turned her posh bordello into a hospital to nurse dozens of ill miners.

We visited the Julia Bulette Red Light Museum in Virginia City. It houses some very interesting sex toys and devices—frankly, I have no idea what they did with most of them. But the most interesting thing was her obsession with the fire department. She donated heavily for equipment, wagons, uniforms, and hats. The curator said Julia wanted to be a fireman-lady, but the fire chief thought it too dangerous. He did, however, let her work the water pump on occasion.

She was brutally murdered in 1867. Thousands attended her funeral and she was buried with honors, loved by all. But she was buried outside the “respectable” area of the cemetery, so even in death, that distinction was made.

Dora Hand

Dora Hand (I think)

Dora drifted to Dodge City, Kansas in either 1877 or 1878. She was an accomplished musician, but her background is shrouded in mystery. Some reports say she left her home for a drier climate and that she had consumption. That’s not documented, however, and only a guess.

Hand came to Dodge City on the advice of friend Fannie Garretson, a seasoned performer who had made the rounds of the cow towns and mining camps. Garretson was also a friend of Dog Kelley, the flamboyant Dodge mayor and part owner of the Alhambra Saloon and Gambling House. Through that connection, Garretson and Hand landed stage gigs for a lucrative $40 a week at the Lady Gay Dance Hall and Saloon, co-owned by Ben Springer and Jim Masterson (younger brother of the late Marshal Ed and Ford County Sheriff Bat). . .

In Dodge City: Queen of Cowtowns, Kansas historian and author Stanley Vestal also speaks of her generosity: "During the day she proved a kindly, resourceful and energetic person, always ready to help anyone in trouble. If some raw boy from Texas who had never even seen a train before lost his pile at faro or drank too much redeye and was rolled south of the Deadline, she could be counted on to grubstake him or redeem his saddle so that he could ride home. She asked no security or even the names of the men she helped. When someone fell sick, she was willing to play the part of a practical nurse. Of course, in such a small community, everybody knew all about everybody else, and few people in Dodge were more respected than Fannie Keenan [Dora Hand’s stage name]."
Dora was killed by Spike Kenedy, who fired shots into the cabin where she was staying, thinking he was killing Dog Kelly, who’d thrown Kenedy out of his saloon earlier. A posse came together almost immediately. Guess who?
At 2 p.m. on October 4, a posse set out after the suspected murderer. Ford County Sheriff Bat Masterson, Marshal Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp and soon-to-be-lawman Bill Tilghman rode out with Ford County Deputy Sheriff William Duffy.
Quite a posse!

Dora’s funeral was huge.  One old cowhand who witnessed it was quoted as saying, "Every store, saloon and gambling house in Dodge closed during the funeral, and 400 men with their sombreros on their saddle horses rode behind the spring wagon that carried Dora Hand up Boot Hill."

There you have it—whores with a heart of gold. All of them died young.

Win Free Stuff!
 I'm also running a contest at Martha's Bookshelf.
Comment to win either a print copy of
Hearts of Owyhee #1 
or a Kindle copy and a
$10 Amazon gift certificate
Martha wrote up a really nice review, too:

you could win
Three Kindle copies of
Hearts of Owyhee  #2

All you have to do is tell me which actor you think should play Reese McAdams, and who you'd cast as Lucinda Sharpe. (Need help? Read excerpt of Much Ado About Madams and how it came to be written in Monday's feature -- Jacquie Rogers: Much Ado About Madams.)

Small print:
All comments must have your email address to be eligible.
Drawing will be held May 26, 2012, at 9pm Pacific Time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jacquie Rogers: Much Ado About Madams

Much Ado About Madams
by Jacquie Rogers

People have emailed and nudged me with a little reminder that I have never answered my own questions on Romancing The West, so now, in a dual role, here goes. First, my bio:

There’s nothing quite like growing up in Owyhee County, Idaho, to fuel a young girl’s imagination. I lived on a dairy farm six miles southwest of Homedale. Stories popped into my head while I was feeding calves, or hoeing beets, or shucking corn. These stories placed me in another time, wild and exciting, full of adventure, handsome heroes, and heinous villains.

At no point did I ever want to be a writer, though. Instead, my fondest dream was to be a baseball announcer in TV. Obviously, that didn't work out, nor did my second dream of becoming an interpreter at the United Nations. Instead, I've milked cows, ran a deli, managed political campaigns, managed offices, and owned a software consulting company, among other things. Nothing holds my interest for long.

Writing came as a fluke after I'd been sick and did nothing but read for a couple months. I dreamed a book, so I wrote it. Now I have several published novels in a couple sub-genres. Who knew?

RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Much Ado About Madams?

JR: The lives of real people fascinate me more than the mythos of the Old West. Women like Malinda Jenkins, hard-working women who weren't the typical East Coast Victiorian woman transplanted to the West are most fascinating. The common thought is if a woman wasn't a schoolteacher or a cook, she was a prostitute. This simply wasn't so. Malinda owned businesses everywhere she went, and she moved from the mid-west to Texas, to several places on the West Coast and Alaska, finally ending up in Idaho. She spent her retirement years betting on horseraces.

I like to look at family history to get a glimpse into the real history of the United States and westward expansion. Often, our families didn't conform to what we were taught in history class. I want to know how they really lived, thought, did, and who they loved. To me, this is far more interesting than the shoot-out at the OK Corral or Billy the Kid. On my mother's side of the family, there was the Alsup-Fleetwood Feud, which lasted longer and was much bloodier than the Hatfield-McCoy Feud we all know about. (We're from the Alsups, by the way.)

As for Much Ado About Madams, well, I confess I have no experience with prostitution other than I once served on a jury in a pimp trial. Actually, the book was supposed to be about suffragists, and when formulating a suffragist heroine I got to thinking what if she accepted a teaching position but upon arrival out West, found out she'd been hired by soiled doves? The Comfort Palace was born and along with the brothel came Fannie, Sadie, Chrissie, Petunia, Trinket, Holly, and Felicia.

Jacquie Rogers, author

RTW: If you lived in 1882, what would you visit first? Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your research sources?

JR: Mundane details of day-to-day life are glossed over. Most of us don't really know what it would be like to bake bread and fix a meal using a wood stove, crockery bowls, and cast iron utensils, pots, and pans. These ladies must have had biceps that any male romance cover model would covet. Men's jobs, especially on the ranch, are far better documented.

But I have to admit, I'm curious about how a mid-class brothel would actually operate. We know what they looked like because there are extant brothels, many made into museums, to visit. But how does the whole thing work, exactly? When a gent comes in door, how is he treated? Does he drink and play faro before and after the main reason for his visit? Is the brothel as much of a social club as a sexual outlet? My guess is that every brothel was different in operating methods, and ran the gamut from social club to establishments who catered to men's baser natures.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?

JR: Why not start with my books? Hahaha. Really, my books are light, contain elements of a little bit of all Westerns, and they're purely entertainment.

Louis L'Amour
 That said, my favorite Western author is Louis L'Amour, mainly because he was a master craftsman at weaving romance and sexual tension into his stories. Any Louis L'Amour book is good. I adored The Sacketts, and then of course there's the made-for-TV Sacketts with Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot. That'll get any red-blooded woman's heart pumping. Ahem. But scenery aside, those stories are compelling, the kind you think about for a week after you view or read them. My one grievance is he only included 80% of the romance arc, which is probably why I ended up writing romances.

RTW: Why must Reese McAdams take this particular story journey? What does he have to prove? How does Lucinda Sharpe affect his journey?

JR: Let's face it--Reese doesn't know what to do with a houseful of soiled doves. He feels an extra responsibility toward them because of his father's ill deeds, but running a brothel just isn't in his career plan. Until he figures out that his father's failings are not his own, he can never be truly happy. Then Lucinda bursts upon the scene. Her character arc is very similar, but different in that she truly loved her mother, just not the circumstances of her life. Still, she's chosen the suffragist path in part to help other women who find themselves in the same position as her mother. Put together, there's lots of opportunity for internal conflict. And they turn each other's carefully crafted worlds upside-down in the craziest ways. :)

RTW: Tell us about your excerpt.

JR: This is the opening scene where the madam of the Comfort Palace, Fannie, is working hard to write a letter to their lone applicant to tell she's been hired. Fannie's been through third grade but still, spelling is not her forte.

Copyright © 2012 Jacquie Rogers

Dickshooter, Owyhee County, Idaho Territory
June, 1882

Dere Miss Sharpe,
The skool bord of Dickshooter, Idaho, dooly invits you . . .
Fannie clenched the pen with a death grip and pursed her lips as she drew her letters. The five scantily clad women standing around her watching every mark she made, didn’t help matters a bit.

“Fer hell’s sake, woman, quit thinking so hard and write the damn letter,” grumbled Trinket. But then, Trinket always grumbled about something.

The frustrated madam blew a stray lock of dye-pot red hair out of her eyes. “You girls don’t have to stand there like chickens ready to pounce on a snake. You’re making me nervous.”

“You said you knew your letters,” accused Chrissy.

“Leave me alone. I went all the way to third grade, and I writ the ad fer the newspaper, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, but the newspaper man probably fixed it up some.”

“Can I make the letters on the envelope?” whispered Holly, who’d nearly been strangled by a no-good drifter the week before. She still couldn’t talk right. The bouncer had run the worm out at gunpoint and told him never to come back. Fannie had taken a liking to Holly, a young girl who, even though she served drinks in a whorehouse, was ignorant about the ways of the world—a lot like Fannie had been when her old man threw her out of his house so many years ago.

Fannie tapped the spare piece of precious paper lying on the desk. “You can practice on this once I’ve finished here.” That is, if she didn’t mess up this paper, she thought, and she probably would if she didn’t get some peace and quiet.

“This ain’t gonna work, anyway,” Trinket walked across the room, swaying her hips seductively out of years of habit. “What decent schoolmarm would teach a bunch of whores their letters? And how do you know she’ll marry Reese? Hell, he owns a whorehouse!”

Fannie couldn’t imagine a woman who wouldn’t want him. “Reese is a fine, upstanding man, and handsome as sin. She won’t be able to resist, and she’ll force him to close up shop so we can be on our way to new lives.”

“What if she’s some pinch-nosed Bible-thumper?” argued Trinket.

“If she’s ugly, Reese might not want her, but even if she tries to save our souls, at least we’ll all learn reading and writing to help get ourselves a respectable living. We can’t lose.”

Felicia sniffed. “Ha! We’re already losers, or we wouldn’t be stuck in this hellhole.” She’d whored in the best brothels in New Orleans until a crazy man had cut her face up.

Fannie tried to sympathize, but damn, why’d Felicia have to be so uppity? Fannie ignored her remark, like she always did. She’d have thrown Felicia out on her nose a long time ago, but knew no place else would take her.

“Once the mines up in Silver City bring in more customers, no decent businessman would shut this place down,” Felicia added.

Fannie thunked the pen down on the desk, ink splattering clear to the wall. She had to get these women out of the office or she’d never get this letter written. They had a plan, and it was up to her to make it work, but she sure as hell couldn’t do it with all these women pecking at her like a bunch of vultures. “Fer gawd’s sake, Petunia, take a bath! You stink like a bucket of last week’s slop.”

“Aw, Fannie, I just had a bath last Sunday.”

“Like I said, last week’s slop. Now, go!” Petunia left the office, mumbling all the way out the door.

Fannie turned to Felicia. “Go get your room ready before the gents come a calling. It always looks like a pigsty. I want the sheets changed and your butter dish cleaned.”

“Humph! Sadie should do that.”

“Honey, you’re not in some fancy New Orleans whorehouse any more. You have to do fer yourself.”

Two gone, three to go. “Chrissy, help Sadie with dinner.”

Chrissy jammed one hand on her hip and patted her tousled auburn hair with the other. “I ain’t no cook.”

“You are today.”

“It ain’t my turn. Besides, it’ll roughen my hands.”

“Your hands have been through worse.” Fannie waved toward the door. “Go on, now.”

She pulled a bottle of black dye from her desk drawer. “Trinket, your blonde roots are showing something fierce. Take care of it.”

“But the men will be coming in a few hours, and my hair won’t be dry.”

“Go stand in the sun. If you ever went outside, you’d know the sun’s shining today.” She handed Trinket the bottle. “If any of your callers come early, I’ll hold ‘em off for an hour.”

Holly whispered, “Do you want to get rid of me, too?”

Fannie didn’t, but the other girls would throw a fit if she let Holly stay. “Do some mending or something. Come back here in half an hour and I’ll let you make some letters.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She paused at the door. “Will I be serving drinks tonight?”

“It’s time. You’ve had a week off.” Fannie didn’t have the heart to make Holly take gents to her bed. The other girls grew more resentful all the time, but she doubted that Holly had ever had a man—and once she did, there was no going back.

The last of the girls finally gone, Fannie finished the letter.

Dere Miss Sharpe,
The skool bord of Dikshooter, Idaho Terr., dooly invits you as to be our noo skoolmarm, startin Septimbr 1, 1882.
Mr. Reese McAdams
♥ ♥ ♥
Available on Kindle

RTW: What’s next? Is Much Ado About Madams a part of a series?

JR: The third book in the Hearts of Owyhee series will be Much Ado About Mavericks. It's nearly ready to go right now, so will be published soon. It's set in northern Owyhee County and features a rather unique heroine and a downright sexy hero. Definitely an "opposites attract" story. The fourth book, Much Ado About Miners, is in the early writing stages and the heroine is Iris, the sister of Much Ado About Marshals' heroine, Daisy. It will be a while before that book is published since I only have one scene written, and it might change.

Also, I'm planning to write a mini-series of novellas called The Soiled Doves. These will be the fallen ladies of the Comfort Palace and their paths to Happily Ever After. Those are still in the planning stage since they're a true series, with an overall arc, but a full story in each one, as well. I'm not one for cliffhanger endings, as you've probably guessed.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

JR: If you'd like to enter another contest besides the one here today, I'm also running a contest at Martha's Bookshelf. Comment to win either a print copy of the first ♥ Hearts of Owyhee book ♥, Much Ado About Marshals, or a Kindle copy and a $10 Amazon gift certificate. Martha wrote up a really nice review, too: Book Review: Much Ado About Marshals.

I'd also like to thank the readers and contributors of Romancing The West. In less than a year, RTW has hosted over fifty authors and we have over a thousand hits every week. Who knew? I thought it would be a long shot for a western blog to survive, let alone thrive. So I'm very grateful to all those who have helped make RTW such a success. The authors have contributed some fantastic articles and I've learned a lot for them. I hope you have, too! And what talented writers we've had.

You could win
Three Kindle copies of
Hearts of Owyhee  #2

All you have to do is tell me which actor you think should play Reese McAdams, and who you'd cast as Lucinda Sharpe.

Small print:
All comments must have your email address to be eligible.
Drawing will be held May 26, 2012, at 9pm Pacific Time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reservation Life

Paty Jager, author
Reservation Life
by Paty Jager
Copyright © 2012 Paty Jager

Indian tribes were considered “foreign nations” when the European settlers came to America. With that belief in tact, the U.S. Government made treaties and agreements with the tribes as more settlers moved onto the tribes’ land and more conflicts and violence occurred.

More times than not, the treaties benefited the government or settlers over the Indians, giving the tribes uninhabitable land or not following through with their promises. Often the treaties were made in good faith and military or government officials in charge of enforcing the treaty would twist the truth to either inflict revenge on the tribes or gain monetarily.

In 1838 the Federal Government removed the “Five Civilized Tribes,” Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole 800 miles from their homeland to “Indian Territory” in what today is Oklahoma. These peaceful tribes were marched during the cold winter to their new home. This march has been called “Trail of Tears” and over 4,000 Cherokee and an untold number of the other 15,000 herded through the dead of winter died from disease, exposure, and starvation.

By the late 1800s the United States had either signed treaties with all the tribes or forced them onto reservations. Most treaties promised the tribes that for their land and natural resources the government was taking they would not allow settlers on their reservations. The reservations were created by the Federal Government to segregate the Indians from the settlers to help avoid conflict.

Each time the government would make a treaty with a tribe it wasn’t long before they’d want even more of the tribe’s land and would make up a new treaty, making the tribes’ lands smaller and moving tribes together onto reservations.

Most Indians had a hard time adapting to the reservation life and came to despise it. In the treaties, the government agreed to provide food, health care, and other benefits to help the Indians until they were able to raise food and sustain themselves. However, in some cases, the agents or military overseeing the reservations sold the rations sent by the government or pocketed part of the money intended for the supplies. Many Indians died from starvation or disease on the reservations.

The agents and military thought the men were lazy because the women did the work while the men sat around. They didn’t understand that the women were the workers. They were the ones who did the farming and harvesting. The men had always been the hunters and protectors. They no longer had vast areas to hunt or the weapons to protect their families other than sitting around and discussing the problems on the reservation and trying to converse with the Indian agents to get what the government had promised.

Some reservations were run well and the occupants prospered, but some were run by cruel men who gave the Indians disease infected blankets, spoiled meat, and sparse rations.

The Native American population was robbed of their customs and language when they were told to conform to the whiteman’s standards, yet, weren’t given the same freedoms as their counterparts.

Now the tribes are slowly researching and discovering their customs, languages, and their ancestors’ pride that was stripped of them when they were taken from their lands and forced onto reservations.

Paty Jager (website, blog)

To help kick off the release of the third book in my historical paranormal romance trilogy I have a blog tour and contest going.

I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky commenter.

Blog Tour Contest! Each blog stop has a picture of an eagle in the post. Follow the tour and send me the number of different pictures you saw while following the tour. To learn where I’ll be, go to my blog or website. If there is more than one correct entry I’ll draw a winner on May 21st to receive a $25 gift certificate to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon, a handmade custom ereader cover, and chocolate. Send your entry number to: by May 21st.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Paty Jager: Spirit of the Sky

Spirit of the Sky
by Paty Jager

Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently ranch 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

She is a member of RWA, EPIC, and COWG. She’s had eleven books and a short story published so far and is venturing into the new world of self-publishing ebooks.

Her contemporary Western, Perfectly Good Nanny, won the 2008 Eppie for Best Contemporary Romance and Spirit of the Mountain, a historical paranormal set among the Nez Perce, garnered first place in the paranormal category of the Lories Best Published Book Contest. Spirit of the Lake was a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Romancing The West is delighted to have Paty here all this week, and here she is!

To help kick off the release of the third book in my historical paranormal romance trilogy I have a blog tour and contest going.

I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky commenter.

Blog Tour Contest! Each blog stop has a picture of an eagle in the post. Follow the tour and send me the number of different pictures you saw while following the tour. To learn where I’ll be, go to my blog or website. If there is more than one correct entry I’ll draw a winner on May 21st to receive a $25 gift certificate to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon, a handmade custom ereader cover, and chocolate. Send your entry number to: by May 21st.

Growing up in an area rich in Native American history has made me curious and empathetic to the band of Nez Perce who summered in Wallowa County many generations before Lewis and Clark entered their lives.

The Wallowa, or Lake Nimiipuu as they call themselves, are a band of the Nez Perce(Nimiipuu) who moved like nomads across the Pacific NW and into the plains with the seasons. They wintered along the Imnaha River in the lower warmer regions of Wallowa County, spent the early spring in the camas meadows of Idaho, and summered at Wallowa Lake, fishing the Columbia in the fall and returning to their winter home before the snows became too treacherous. The warriors and some of the women went out on hunting expeditions to the plains for buffalo.

They were nomadic, but they had a fierce love of the land in their hearts.

The Trilogy is set around three sibling Nez Perce spirits who fall in love with mortals.

Spirit of the Mountain, the first book of the trilogy, shows the Nimiipuu’s love of the lake area and how they came to carry it so deeply within them. The heroine, in this book, carries the mountain in her heart and when she falls for the white wolf spirit who looks after the mountain and its occupants, she loses her heart to him as well.

Spirit of the Lake, is the second book in the trilogy. This book deals with the Whiteman encroaching on their land and the way the Nimiipuu are willing to look the other way to avoid being forcefully taken from their home. The Lake spirit is a Bull Elk who resides in the lake and saves a woman from drowning and ultimately finding himself falling in love with the woman.

Spirit of the Sky, takes place as the Lake Nimiipuu and four other non-treaty bands of Nez Perce are being chased far from their homes in an effort to remain free. The spirit is a bald eagle who falls in love with a cavalry officer who befriends her and her people.

Blurb for Spirit of the Sky
To save her from oppression, he must save her whole tribe. To give her his heart, he must desert his career…

When the US Army forces the Nimiipuu from their land, Sa-qan, the eagle spirit entrusted with watching over her tribe, steps in to save her mortal niece. Challenging the restrictions of the spirit world, Sa-qan assumes human form and finds an unexpected ally in a handsome cavalry officer.

Certain she is a captive, Lt. Wade Watts, a Civil War veteran, tries to help the blonde woman he finds sheltering a Nez Perce child. While her intelligent eyes reveal she understands his language, she refuses his help. But when Wade is wounded, it is the beautiful Sa-qan who tends him. Wade wishes to stop the killing—Sa-qan will do anything to save her people.

Can their differences save her tribe? Or will their love spell the end of the Nimiipuu?

Excerpt for Spirit of the Sky
She smiled and his heart leapt into his throat. He thought her beautiful from the first moment he saw her standing in the river fiercely protecting the child, but watching her tense face relax and smile, he was smitten. A light and pleasing calm washed over him for the first time in a very long time. He could only bask in the moment briefly. They were enemies.

“I am from the sky, and I watch over the Nimiipuu.” She nodded her head and flashed him with yet another smile. “You may call me Angel.”

“Only if you call me Wade.”

She nodded. “Let me check your wounds. You have moved around.”

“Why are you taking such good care of me when your warriors left me for dead?”

Her sunshine gaze peered straight into his eyes. “You saved my niece at the village and the wounded from the Bannock scout. You do not have the thirst to kill like the other soldiers.” She bowed her head and removed the blood encrusted bandage from his shoulder. “The Nimiipuu need you.”

Her touch warmed his body, tingling the areas around his wounds. He glanced at her small, delicate hands hovering over his injuries. He shut his eyes, and then opened them. Her hands shimmered as if in a fog. His pain subsided, in fact, his body felt well rested.

A soft lyrical chant rose from her lips as she continued to hover her hands over his wounds. Her eyes remained closed, her light lashes resting on her sun-kissed cheeks. He’d never seen a woman as beautiful as this. He had to learn her true origins and return her to her family.

You can learn more about Paty at her blog, her website, Facebook, or Twitter, @patyjag.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Outfitted for Going West: A Woman's Journey

Velda Brotherton,

Outfitted for Going West
A woman’s journey
by Velda Brotherton
Copyright © 2012 Velda Brotherton

Westerns often depict a romantic version of the westerward movement, especially the role women played in this important part of our history. Stories told round the campfire leave out the less pleasant stories or gloss over them.

So let’s imagine this for a moment. One day your young husband, whom you wed a scant three months ago, returns home from the mercantile where he clerks, enters your one-room log cabin and announces his intentions to pick up “his” family and head West. That includes you, and in those days women weren't consulted about much of anything.
A typical log cabin of the 1800s

We can blame this idea of Westward Ho! on the gold rush, which began the movement in 1849. The Civil War came along and slowed down the idea, but by 1875 exploring the West had become a popular concept. Getting rich by finding gold had by then turned into a desire to homestead land. For many it was simply a need for adventure. Very few women were too enthusiastic about picking up and leaving family and home, yet they did it. Some talked their parents, brothers and sister into accompanying them.

Young women fared very well until or unless they were expecting a child. Let's explore the type of transportation available for this long trip.

The advice in various guidebooks was similar and recommended what was commonly known as a light, two horse wagon. In 1846, J.M. Shively advised emigrants to " a light strong wagon, made of the best seasoned materials...."

A mercantile store such as
our young husband would have worked in
 Joseph Ware, in 1849, also recommended, "Let your waggons be strong, but light...," as did Andrew Child in 1852 and Captain Randolph B. Marcy, who told emigrants in his 1859 guide, "Wagons should be of the simplest possible construction strong, light and made of well seasoned timber...." Emigrants who had already made the overland trip also offered helpful advice in the letters they sent home.

Forget the movies where great Conestoga style wagons are shown crossing the prairie headed for the spectacular Rocky Mountains. It wasn't done. They'd never have made it through even the easiest of passes. These wagons were popular east of the Mississippi, but once the emigrants crossed the mighty river that separated civilization from wilderness, a smaller lighter wagon was necessary. For the most part a version of a common farm wagon was used. Canvas was stretched over bows in the style of the Conestoga.

A farm wagon with the parts identified

Think of all the "stuff" you have that you'd want to take along on such a trip. Then remember that this little wife waiting in her one-room cabin probably has two or three dresses, bedding for one narrow shuck-mattress, a couple of iron cooking vessels, a few tin plates and cups…well, you get the idea. The largest item she might insist upon taking could be granny's rocker and/or a trunk filled with all she owned.

What she takes along is of smaller consequences compared to what she is facing. It's a sad fact that the three major stresses of pioneer women in route was the birth of a babe, a lost child who wandered off and the train had to keep moving or the death of their husband.

But I digress. Let's return to this young wife. She could be as young as fifteen. She's about to leave her mother, who has been her emotional and physical support, her father who always offers a shoulder to lean on, siblings, probably several since most families were large in those days. She must talk herself into this great adventure because she loves her husband, and in truth also yearns for something more than being cooped up in this small cabin all day every day.

So let's say she begins this adventure with great expectations. Many diaries written by these younger women speak of the excitement, the fun of walking along beside a loaded wagon day after day, discovering new places, colorful prairie flowers, unusual animals.

As the days pass, though, reality sets in. Mud so deep the wagons sink to their hubs and everyone must literally help the mules, oxen or horses pull or push them free; rain day after day until quilts and clothing are soaked and there's no drying them; weavils that hatch into the corn meal and flour; the threat of cholera, a disease that wasn't well understood as to how it was passed from one victim to the other.

Polite women were not to drink, cuss, or be other than pious, however, peddlers sold them almost 100% proof cough medicine. It was acceptable for women to sip medicine. It was fortunate that their tender age saved them from stress developing into depression. Thus, our young wife is lucky in that respect.

Pioneer women whose husbands found the "right piece of land" worked from before daybreak to nightfall. Many a woman's diary (sometimes written on edges of the family Bible for lack of paper) stated she wished she had time to give in to the vapors or be sad. She welcomed the first three children as they would be helpful to her with the baby that arrived every year.

Sounds pretty tough, and it was. Those who survived and raised at least a few of their children to adulthood are the ancestors of our western dwellers of today. No wonder they are hardy, a bit wild and have an affinity for the great outdoors.

Emigrants continued to head West by the thousands, despite letters written back about the hardships of traveling day after day for months and months. Stories of loss and sorrow, interspersed with descriptions of a land so beautiful, of soil so rich it would grow anything, of mountains and plains to take away the breath, did not deter the trips, or even slow them down.

As one woman put it, "we had no fear and we did not know we were poor, for we were all alike and it was our life, one we had chosen."
So read romances of the west and forget the bugs and the hardships, for isn't love the greatest gift?

Images: #1 A typical log cabin of the 1800s #2 A mercantile store such as our young husband would have worked in. #3 A farm wagon with parts identified

Velda's Contest!
I'm posting five questions about Stone Heart and Aiden Conner. Those who answer them in a comment and get them right will go into a drawing for a free copy of this book plus their choice of two of my western historical romances from Kindle Ebooks. The answers to the questions can be found in the first chapter, so they can read it on Amazon or my website.

Here are the questions:
1. What is the name of the Fort where the Northern Cheyenne are imprisoned?
2. Who carries the precious Chief's bundle?
3. What was engraved on the muskets to show they were for trading with Indians?
4. What is the name of Aiden's fiance?
5. What weapon does Aiden use on Lawson when he attacks her?

RTW Note: Comments must include an email address to be entered in the contest. Drawing will be held Saturday, May 12, at 9pm Pacific Time, but will not be announced on Sunday's Chicken Dinner post this time (I'll be without a computer).

Thanks so much for visiting with me here. Check out Monday's interview and excerpt.  Comments to enter the contest (see above questions) can be made on either page.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Velda Brotherton: Stone Heart's Woman

Stone Heart's Woman
by Velda Brotherton

Romancing The West is happy to host multi-published author Velda Brotherton this week!  A little about her:

It was purely an accident, that first western historical romance, and Velda credits best friend and long time buddy western writer Dusty Richards for its publication. Goldspun Promises began as a western, but an editor from Penguin asked her to turn this western with a female protagonist into a romance. She never looked back, nor did she worry that she had never read a romance. “When an editor’s interested in your work, you don’t tell him no,” she's fond of saying.

Since those first western romance publications, she’s also managed to write six nonfiction historical books and find publishers for each one. Recently she saw the acceptance of her seventh western historical romance, Stone Heart’s Woman with The Wild Rose Press. The book was published in February, 2012. Not about to stop there, she’s learned how to format, design covers and publish her back list to Kindle.

Changing gears, Velda wrote a contemporary paranormal mainstream novel, Wolf Song, and found a home for that one with SynergE Books. It is available for pre order.

Self publishing through her own Weedy Rough Press is in the near future for three contemporary women’s fiction novels. And who knows where Velda will go from there?

RTW: Why do you write Westerns? What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Stone Heart's Woman?

VB: I grew up on stories told by my dad. He was born in Texas, the eldest of four boys and their mother died when he was in his teens. His dad took the boys with him as he traveled around Texas and Oklahoma working in the oil fields. His dad was half Cherokee and his mother also had Cherokee blood. My dad always wore cowboy boots though never rode a horse. But he loved to tell stories of his growing up years in Texas. I went to western movies and read western books, and was a tomboy, playing cowboys and Indians with my brother. We were raised in Wichita, Kansas, which has a rich western heritage. So when I won first place in a contest with three chapters of a western featuring a female protagonist, that was the springboard to what finally became my published western historical romances.

I've always been intrigued by the cross cultural aspects of western life. Because of my background heritage, and stories Dad told about the whispering that went on about the Cherokee blood in the family, I'm curious about how people dealt with this in such an atmosphere. Most of my books include this situation in some form.

RTW: If you lived in 1879, what would you visit first?

VB: I'd like to see places like Yellowstone National Park before it became a park. If I were younger, I'd like to attend a Mountain Man Rendezvous on the Green River in Wyoming, and witness the gathering of Sioux and Cheyenne prior to Custer's final battle. It must have been a sight to see, thousands of men, women and children determined to hold on to a culture that was fast disappearing. As for going without modern conveniences, I'd rather not. Some situations were definitely not romantic and best left out of my books. Like the infestations of bugs, going without bathing or washing clothing for long stretches of time.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?

Velda Brotherton, Author

VB: I never hesitate to recommend both the book and the series, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. While not classified as a romance, it contains a touching love story. If one could read that book and watch the series and not fall in love with the characters, laugh and cry, and swear allegiance to westerns from that moment on, then I'd be greatly surprised.

McMurtry is a genius at creating characters we can never forget. Because they have flaws, some more than are healthy for them. And they are also gentle, powerful, and realistic. We can identify with their strengths and weaknesses, feel compassion and anger and love for each of them.

When a writer succeeds in presenting those kinds of characters, then an exciting story evolves naturally around them, and we take them to our hearts. I could only hope I create characters and stories with one-half the depth that McMurtry does.

RTW: Why must Stone Heart and Aiden Conner take this particular story journey? What do they have to prove? How does the setting affect his journey?

VB: Since I write from two strong viewpoints, both the hero and heroine, there are two answers to these questions. Stone Heart's Woman is first a story of a journey of a people losing their battle to survive, and second the love story of two people from socially separated cultures, first learning to accept and love each other, then joining in this battle of my heroes people to live free in their homeland rather than being held captive on a reservation. In this case, The Indian Nation which is now Oklahoma.

My hero, Stone Heart, has rebelled against his white father, who happens to be George Armstrong Custer, and rejoined the Northern Cheyenne, who have traveled 1500 miles in six months, always pursued by the army. All they want is to go home, and many of them die in the trying. Stone Heart is determined to see they get home, if he has to die in the process.

My heroine has been abandoned in a small town in Nebraska by her fiance and run out of town by respectable people because she's been singing for her supper, so to speak. She wants to go home to Kansas City until she meets Stone Heart, falls in love while they are trapped alone by a blizzard, then gets involved in his desire to help his mother's people. So her presence which might have deterred his goal, instead helps him. In the end … well, I won't spoil it.

A bitter winter greatly affects their journeys, and makes for some scenes that are brutally realistic.

RTW: Great characters! You have an excerpt--please set it up for us.

VB: Aiden and Stone Heart have dug out of the soddy in which they've been trapped, into a snow covered world. While shut up together, they've grown to know each other and are falling in love, but realize the futility of such a thing. You can read the entire first chapter of Stone Heart's Woman on Amazon or at my website.

Excerpt from:
Stone Heart's Woman by Velda Brotherton

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Under her hands his heart thudded, and the heat from his body crept into her. A knot of incredible desire tightened deep inside her being. Without thinking, she reached up and brushed snow off his cheeks. “I wish . . . I wish we . . . .”

Going deathly still, like he did so easily, he pushed a strand of hair away from her face, and cupped a hand over her ear. His gray eyes smoldered like embers coming to life. She licked away the melting flakes and waited for him to lower his mouth to hers.

His tongue traced his own lips, as if in anticipation, and she closed her eyes, inched closer. Leaned into the hardness of him and wished they wore less clothing. He did not make another move, so she snaked an arm around his neck, stood on the tips of her toes and pulled him downward. She could do no more, it was up to him. His warm breath caressed her tingling skin. Tiny rivulets of melted snow dripped onto her cheeks. All fear left her and she waited with anticipation.

But he pulled brusquely away, leaving her with arms outstretched into the falling snow.

“This is not the time.” The harsh tone spoke much more than the few words.

Arms empty, body yearning, she stood deathly still, realized there never would be a time for them. He had but one purpose, and she was not a part of it. She must go back to her world, leave him to his, and forget the way he made her feel by just glancing at her with those smoldering eyes, touching her with those fingers at once strong and gentle. They were strangers, and they would pass beyond each other all too soon. Forget each other even sooner. This storm would not last forever, and when it ended, he would be gone. She could only hope he would take her as far as Fort Robinson where she might get transportation back east where she belonged.

He could go on to his destiny. Which she feared was death at the hands of the white man.

RTW: Thanks for the wonderful sneak peek! Where can we buy it?

VB: Stone Heart's Woman is available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Wild Rose Press.

RTW: What’s next? Is Stone Heart's Woman a part of a series?

VB: No, this one is stand alone. I am working on a series now, which I hope will be published by The Wild Rose Press. This one is set during the English settling of Victoria, Kansas in 1875. The three books will cover the lives of three young women, who leave England when one is promised in marriage to Lord Blair Prescott, a man she soon grows to despise. He has promised to be a guardian to the younger women, but this is dependent on the marriage. On the other hand, her sister quickly falls in love with him. Their cousin, the youngest of the three, presents plenty of problems as she embraces living western.

This English settlement is near Fort Hays, known as one of the wildest settlements in the west. Libby Custer once said of Hays, Kansas, that the goings on there would fill dozens of dime novels. So I can manage to fill three. These will be more light hearted than some of my previous books. All the research is finished and I'm working on edits on the first book, which has yet to receive its final title.

RTW: Sounds interesting--I'll be waiting to read them! Anything else you’d like to add?

VB: I'd like to urge writers to explore the unusual and write what they love, not what they think will sell. Passion is the key to outstanding writing. In today's market we can find a home for almost any genre. Explore the Ebook market and Indie Publishers and you'll find one that is just as passionate as you are.

To readers, if you like a book, take the time to review it on Amazon or B & N, as those reviews are critical to the success of your favorite writers' books. With so many books available to the discerning reader, your support of those writers who touch your heart is all important to their continued success.

Velda's Contest!
I'm posting five questions about Stone Heart and Aiden Conner. Those who answer them in a comment and get them right will go into a drawing for a free copy of this book plus their choice of two of my western historical romances from Kindle Ebooks. The answers to the questions can be found in the first chapter, so they can read it on Amazon or my website.

Here are the questions:
1. What is the name of the Fort where the Northern Cheyenne are imprisoned?
2. Who carries the precious Chief's bundle?
3. What was engraved on the muskets to show they were for trading with Indians?
4. What is the name of Aiden's fiance?
5. What weapon does Aiden use on Lawson when he attacks her?

Thanks so much for visiting with me here. Check out Thursday's Western article for some unusual and well-flawed characters from out of the old West. Learn some strange customs and ideas you might not know about.
RTW Note: Comments must include an email address to be entered in the contest. Drawing will be held Saturday, May 12, at 9pm Pacific Time, but will not be announced on Sunday's Chicken Dinner post this time (I'll be without a computer).