Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Contraception in the Old West...and other Myths...


Image result for old west family

Writing romance in the old west is certainly not for the faint of heart, but as I dive back into the third story in my McCades of Cheyenne Series, I keep coming across the same dilemma—what was done for contraception back then? I mean a toss a hero and heroine together and well, even if not married things can get out of hand and I have to wonder if readers are wondering too about pregnancy even if the couple doesn’t discuss it.

As I writes these stories, I keep writing around the idea of just how women in the day kept from becoming pregnant. Hey, if I hurry and marry off the couple then it’s not really a big deal, but what about if the marriage might be a ways off in the story? So…I started doing a bit of research to answer my own questions and thought I could share this with some of the other writers who might be asking themselves the same questions.

Caution: PG-13 if you continue to read.  

Childbirth in the late 1800’s was a gamble for any woman given the complications and out west the lack of facilities of physicians made even a normal birth a huge risk for a woman. Birth control as a whole wasn’t widely accepted and should a woman birth a viable child, it might be she had a house full of children due to the lack of contraceptive ideas. The 1800’s was full of restrictions and law but held some of the highest abortion rates of any of the recent centuries, but women and even men weren’t beyond trying a variety of methods to keep from producing a child or more children.

Various methods of contraception in the Old West:

1-Abstinance-Providing a woman could convince her husband to stay out of her bed or possibly visit the local brothel instead.

2-Withdrawal-Which meant a man had to have the ability to hold off on the end result and had to have the ability to remove himself from the woman before his big finale. The problem here was the “guppies” at least a few escaped prior that same big finale and women often found this method failed them.

3-Sponges and douching-Sponges soaked in lemon juice were at times effective, as the acidity immobilized the “guppies” and the sponge blocked the path into he cervix. And lemons were not widely available and so woman might opt for Quinine which was proven to have little effectiveness when used with a sponge. There were also the women who opted for a variety of chemicals who caused them more harm than good and often ended in pregnancy anyway. Douching with various liquids and herbs might or might not work but often caused hard to sensitive tissues. Douching syringes were sold for the purpose and often with chemical like sulphates or Zinc or Iron to kill the “guppies”.

4-Cervical Caps were customized from a variety of items including beeswax and were easily replaced by the same wax that families used to make their candles, but without customized fits for security, the “guppies” found a way in more times than not. Some cervical caps were made of items such as wood and later rubber

5-Condoms did exist though as in modern day, men of the old west didn’t much prefer them, nor were they easily available or reliable. First condoms were made of sheep or pig intestine which could cost around one dollar each and men were often said to wash them out for re-use but of course each use lessened the security of leaks. And by the 1840’s rubber version became available, though failure rates were still in excess of 10%. Prostitutes were the first to readily use condoms to prevent pregnancy and disease, but it took a bit longer for married couples to venture into methods as such. Added to newer variety of rubber condoms was lemon juice, sulfur, zinc and a variety of other concoctions which didn’t lower the risk of pregnancy much more than the 10% of condoms alone and added to that was the costs and availability to a cowboy seeking a little pleasure from his women or wife.

6-Chemical or mechanical abortion. With little medical care, shortage of physicians and lack of resources, women did opt to “rid” themselves of unwanted pregnancies. A variety of harsh chemicals might terminate a pregnancy but often put a woman herself at risk. Toxic drugs such as Ergot and Quinine in large doses could terminate a pregnancy but also left the woman, if she lived with harmful effects from damage to the kidneys to excessive bleeding, anemia and potential death. With mechanical intervention the risks of bleeding and infection were extremely high and many women died. Women also wore tighter and tighter corsets, starved themselves, and caused themselves deliberate injury in order to end an unwanted pregnancy and it wasn’t until the 1850’s that anti-abortion protests began and 1870 when the act was banned by law.

7-Rhythm Method-Women who knew their bodies well, figured out their fertile and non-fertile days but this method of contraception was often not so reliable, given today we know that the “guppies” can live up to five or six days in the vagina and still manage to travel

Contraception was a bit different where Indian’s of various tribes were concerned. Because the Indian’s were nomads living off the land and often moving, children were spaced out for 3 to 5 years, given a mother could not travel and nurse more than one child with two small children.  Indian women often nursed a child for 3 to 4 years and during that time period was often abstinence and this was tolerated by the men, with most families consisting of no more than 3 to 5 children when compared to pioneer/western white families with twelve or more children.

Native American’s often utilized various herbs and plants to prevent pregnancy and it’s suggested some of these herbs work in this day and time:

1-Saskatoon Serviceberry

2-Indian Paintbrush-liquid concoction prevented pregnancy

3-White Turtlehead-Leave boiled for tea prevented pregnancy

4-One-Seed Juniper-Tea of leaves or tea of the berries drank every morning for 3 days prevented conception

5-Western StoneSeed-boiled roots, pounded and soaked in water and then consumed daily for 6 months would prevent pregnancy for good.

6-Bitter Cherry-dried wood form the plant was soaked in hot water and the water consumed to prevent pregnancy.

7-False Hellebore-Tea made from the root was consumed to prevent pregnancy

 
I couldn’t find much as far as rating all these plants in their effectiveness, but my guess is even today not one method of birth control is truly 100% effective…there is always that .00999% waiting to happen. Careful Cowboy….tread lightly. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Bad Girls, Bad Girls Whatcha Gonna Do? Ladies of the Wild Bunch Gang, Part 1

Since my current work in progress involves outlaws and the women who ran with them, I've been researching the members of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. Interesting characters indeed, but their female consorts are just as interesting, if not more so. I thought I'd write one single post about them, but their own stories are so rich, I'm take them in parts. We'll look at Etta Place, Laura Bullion, and the Bassett sisters, Ann and Josie separately.
Facts to keep in mind:
The Wild Bunch consisted of Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker), the Sundance Kid (Harry Longabaugh), Elzy Lay, the Tall Texan (Ben Kirkpatrick), News (Will) Carver, Camila "Deaf Charlie" Hanks, Laura Bullion, Flat-Nose (George) Curry, Kid Curry (Harvey Logan), and Bob Meeks.
The Outlaw Hideouts: Places  to shelter strung out along the outlaw trail where different gangs could rest, restock ammunition, and refresh horses. Place such as Hole-in-the-Wall, Robbers Roost, and Brown's Park. Often there was a give and take between the outlaws and the surrounding ranchers.

As I've mentioned on more than one occasion, because a classmate's father worked on the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, we were treated to a showing of that film every year from late grade school to jr. high. One of the results of those repeated screenings was that The Wild Bunch became my gate-way drug to a more serious addiction to all things western, and I am always delighted to return to this topic.

The "Wedding Picture" of the Sundance Kid and Etta Place. Later this picture would be used on "Wanted" posters to identify Etta

If you look up Etta up on Wikipedia, you find this information on her birth and death: "c 1878-?" Which about sums her up. Her life is bracketed in uncertainty and speculation. Nobody knows where she came from or where she went post Sundance, though in contrast the years between 1900 and 1907 are well documented as the Pinkerton Detective Agency was on the case enlisted by the Union Pacific railroad who'd had it with being robbed.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency's description of her says, "Classic good look, 27 or 28 years old, 5'4' to 5'5" in height, weighing between 110 and 115 lbs, with medium build and brown hair." It was reported by those who met her that she spoke in a refined and educated manner.

Another fun fact: she was one of only five women allowed into the hideout Robbers Roost in Utah.

We can also thank the Pinkertons for her name. Because it wasn't Etta but Ethel (...sometimes). When the first "Wanted" posters with her picture went up in South America, her name went from Ethel to Etta when a detective misheard her name spoken with the local accent.

And, Place was probably not her real surname. Longabaugh sometimes used the alias Harry Place, Place being his mother's maiden name.

There are various rumors of her origin. One says she left her two children and school teacher husband for Longabaugh, or that she was a school teacher herelf. Another version is that she was a prostitute from Texas who had relations with both Butch and Sundance.

Madame Fannie Porter ran a bordello in San Antonio frequented by the Wild Bunch. One prostitute there, Madeline Wilson, is sometimes put forth as Etta. Madeline was originally from England (thus the refined speaking manner) and disappears from the census after Butch and Sundance left the area. Another prostitute, Ethel Bishop, from a neighboring establishment is another likely candidate. She was an unsuccessful music teacher which reflects back on the stories where a school teacher is mentioned, and she has the right first name.



The infamous Fortworth Five picture, which helped identify gang members and went straight onto "Wanted" posters, necessitating the disbanding of the Wild Bunch. Sundance on the lower left, Butch Cassidy on the lower right. Note to outlaws: When on the run, don't stop to have your picture taken--even if everyone is having a good hat day at the same time.




Here's what we do know about Etta. In 1901 Longabaugh and Etta went to New York City. They had a photo taken and sent copies of it to friends and relatives, announcing their marriage (though if they were legally married or not is not known). Longabaugh wrote a friend that he "married a girl from Texas he had previously known." Sadly, when a copy of this picture got in the hands of the Pinkertons it was used to identify Etta and put on "Wanted" posters.

Not long afterwards, Etta, Sundance, and Butch set off for Argentina where they bought a ranch and tried to go straight. Under a new act, women were allowed to purchase land in Argentina for the first time, and Etta Place was the first woman to buy land there, which is an awesome fact to know. Reportedly, she was very happy on the ranch and kept it very clean and homey according to visiting neighbors.

Unfortunately, the long arm of the law was able to stretch all the way to South America, and the Pinkertons were on to them. This could be because Sundance and Etta made a couple of trips back to the states. They went to visit his family in Pennsylvania and Atlantic City. They managed to fit in travel to such unexpected places as Coney Island and the St. Louis Fair as well as a couple of mysterious trips for medical reasons. All this to-ing and fro-ing attracted the attention of the Pinkerton detectives who were then able to track them back to their ranch.

After that, it was back to bank robberies and life on the run. Etta even took place in one bank heist and it was reported in the newspaper she was a great shot. At this point Etta decided she'd had enough of this life and Sundance accompanied her back to San Francisco where he left her before returning to South America (sob), a six month round trip for him. There is no evidence they ever saw each other again, which breaks my heart because, bank robbers though they were, they did seem to have a solid relationship.

Then in 1909 Butch and Sundance were surrounded in their boarding house by soldiers in a dusty town in Bolivia. After an exchange of fire, the soldiers found both men dead in the house. It appeared the mortally wounded Sundance had been shot between the eyes by Cassidy, who then turned the gun on himself. That was the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (...or was it?*). It's at this point Etta Place walks off the pages of history.

Again, there are as many theories of her end as there are of her origins. She was variously reported as committing suicide, being shot and killed in a domestic dispute in South America, turning up as a school teacher in Colorado, marrying a wealthy South American landowner, and as well as turning up again in Texas and running a brothel of her own under the name Eunice Gray. Not that Eunice, who died in a house fire at an old age, ever claimed to be Etta, but they had similar stories of having to spend time in South America at about the same time. But photographs found of Eunice didn't match Etta.

The most interesting theory is that Etta Place was really Ann Bassett, who we will talk about in detail in the a later post. Ann and her sister Josie lived on a ranch near the hideout Brown's Park and both sisters were girlfriends of Wild Bunch gang members (there was some fluidity of romantic relations within the gang as we will find out later.)

The woman look very much alike. The Pinkerton description of Ann is almost the same given for Etta. In this theory it is noted that whenever Ann disappeared from Brown's Park for a time, Etta showed up with Butch and Sundance somewhere else.

In modern times, Dr. Thomas G. Kyle of a computer research group used existing photos of the two women and enhanced them for comparison. He stated the women were almost certainly the same person. He also found what he thinks is a scar or cowlick in the same spot on their hairlines.

Ann Bassett on the left, Etta on the right.

So, this theory is sounding pretty convincing except at an important point the Superman/Clark Kent act falls apart. Ann Basset was getting married back in the states and subsequently getting herself arrested for cattle rustling at a time the Pinkertons knew Etta was in Argentina.

Plus, Ann, who later wrote her memoirs, never mentioned spending a considerable amount of time in South America, or having had an intimate relationship with the Sundance Kid. And, by the way, there is only one known image of Etta where her face is seen clearly--and photos can be funny things.

Where did Etta go? Who was she? I'm not an historian. I'm just a person sitting at her computer, but if you ask me I think Etta was Ethel Bishop, the prostitute/failed music teacher in Texas. It not a stretch to think that Ethel Bishop like many a bride took (one of ) the last names of her new husband and became Ethel Place. And, her prostitute past isn't something the young lady would want to broadcast. It was noted that the couple visited his family in Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, but there is no mention of them visiting her family, which makes me speculate her past wasn't something she wanted to revisit. I think she took she money from the sale of the ranch and the last bank robbery, which was considerable, changed her name, and kept out of trouble for the rest of her life.

One final possible sighting took place in 1909 when a woman matching Etta's description showed up at the US Vice Consul in Chili and asked if she could have a copy of Longabaugh's death certificate, but it was not available so she left empty-handed. I wonder if she ever got over him?

So, what do you think? Comparing the images above, do you think Etta and Ann were one in the same?

Next up: Laura Bullion

*There were those who say rumors of their death in Bolivia are greatly exaggerated. Some say the two Americans killed that day were not Butch and Sundance. The bodies were not positively identified by Bolivian authorities (remember there was no death certificate when the mystery woman came to claim it). The outlaws may have been happy to see that rumor spread as they could finally escape the law. Rumors of Butch living to an old age under an assumed name persist. Even Josie Bassett, who we will talk about later, claims Butch paid her a visit after the South American incident. In modern times there have been attempts to exhume bodies placed in unmarked graves in the cemetery in Bolivia, armed with DNA from surviving relatives, but to date no matches have been found. So for those of you looking for a happily ever after, I'm throwing that out there. By this time I have read more stories claiming Butch and Sundance went on to live under assumed names than I can count, and some of them have Etta and Sundance going off together. So, your guess is as good as anyone else's. I know what I'm going to choose to believe (wink).

You can find my books on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B01C7L8QUU

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Cowboy Slang & Humor

From the Atlantic to the Pacific and from North to South, folks are firing up the backyard grill and spreading checkered cloths over tables in preparation of celebrating the 4th of July. Potato salad, hot dogs and watermelon are in demand. Children are splashing in pools or running through sprinklers eagerly awaiting tonight’s fireworks. To add to the celebration across our great country, I present you with more Cowboy slang and humor. Happy 4th of July!!

Slang:

Bar dog: a bartender
Belly cheater: a cook
Camping on his trail: following someone too closely
Choke strap: derisive name for a necktie
Didn’t have a tail feather left: a person cleaned out at the gambling tables or a person who is completely broke
Dump: slang name for a bunkhouse
Flea bitten: a white horse covered in small, brown freckles
Gallin’: courting a girl
Haywire outfit: an inefficient outfit or ranch
Landed fork end up: thrown from a horse head first
Lead chucker: slang for gun
More lip than a muley cow: a person who talks too much
On the dodge: hiding from the law
Paul Pry: a meddler
Prairie wool: grass
Ride like a deputy sheriff: to ride recklessly
Roll your bed: command meaning you’re fired
Sacking: a saddle blanket
Shoots his back: when a horse bucks
Tear squeezer: a sad story



Humor:

 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Cowboy Christmas in July


Tis the season for Christmas - Cowboy Christmas, that is.

Not for mistletoe and sleigh bells, or hot chocolate (unless it is frozen), but for mad dashes across the country as rodeo athletes seek to increase their chances for qualifying at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this December in Las Vegas as well as earn additional income.

Typically, rodeos around the 4th of July pay more than the rest of the year. And there are a plethora of rodeos for contestants to choose from. 

Because of this frenetic, hectic season with the opportunities for big payouts and solidifying the possibility of competing in Vegas, it's referred to as Cowboy Christmas. 

Cowboys who go all-in this week might compete in Prescott, Arizona at the world's oldest rodeo during Prescott Frontier Days. The dust in the arena might not even have settled from their ride before they are back on the road. Those who travel to my home state of Oregon will find to PRCA sanctioned rodeos just about thirty minutes apart with staggered start times. Cowboy can ride in Molalla then buzz to St. Paul to compete (sometimes with seconds to spare). 

They might be in Greeley, Colorado, or Cody, Wyoming, or Red Lodge, Montana before heading up into Canada for the Calgary Stampede - an event that might equate to some cowboys like Ralphie getting his Red Ryder air rifle on A Christmas Story.

Winnings earned at the Calgary Stampede don't count toward PRCA season standings, but they are rich. A win there could mean thousands of dollars to a cowboy for his ride.


Those who compete push their bodies to the limits, often living on the road for days at a time, grabbing sleep and showers intermittently. They test their skills to the extreme. 

In spite of the injuries, sleep deprivation, endless miles, and no scores, the possibilities of winning and the thrill of competing keep them going.


Read about rodeo cowboys, their adventures in competing, and the women who can't help but fall for them in my Rodeo Romances series!

Start with The Christmas Cowboy. 



After spending her formative years on a farm in eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes. When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:


Monday, July 2, 2018

Baseball in the Old West @CowboyKisses1 @McCaffreyKristy



By Kristy McCaffrey

The earliest known mention of baseball in the United States was in 1791 in Massachusetts. In 1845, the New York Knickerbockers was the first team to play by modern baseball rules, although it was considered an amateur club and far less popular than the game of cricket. But following the Civil War, over 100 clubs were members of the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP). The Chicago White Stockings won the championship in 1870. Today they’re known as the Chicago Cubs and are the oldest team in American organized sports.
  

One of the first games played in the Arizona Territory was a Christmas Day match at Camp Grant near Tucson in January 1873. A Prescott paper, the Arizona Miner, reported, “In the afternoon, an exciting game of baseball took place. This occupied the attention, [of] both of the combatants, until one o’clock, when the welcome call to dinner was wafted to our ears, and readily responded to.”

Baseball became a holiday fixture (Fourth of July and Christmas Day) for many young communities in the Arizona Territory in the 1870’s and early 1880’s. Matches tended to be played in the winter or early spring, with Christmas an especially favorite day for the sport.

On April 10, 1887, the Phoenix baseball club, with a number of its players from Ft. McDowell, played Fort Lowell from Tucson at the territorial fairgrounds with an audience of around 200 people (back then, fans were nicknamed ‘kranks’). A severe wind and sand storm delayed the match for half an hour and blowing sand remained a problem during the first few innings. The Phoenicians, outfitted with “considerable good material here in ball tossers” defeated the “boys in blue” 14-7. At one point in the eighth inning, the crowd surrounding the field made so much noise that the local players couldn’t hear their coaches’ directions and instead of scoring a possible three runs, only marked a single tally.


By 1900, amateur football had become popular and replaced baseball as the traditional game played on Thanksgiving and Christmas.




Connect with Kristy




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rodeo Cohorts

One of the definitions of a cohort is a companion or associate. 
That is what the equine contestants in rodeo are to their owners--companions and associates. 
These equine personalities make rodeo such an amazing sport, and many have fascinating stories.
Today I'd like to tell you about Gills Bay Boy, better known as Scamper. Scamper accomplished what no other barrel horse has come near to doing. He and his owner, Charmayne James, won ten Women’s Pro Rodeo Association World Titles in a row between 1984 and 1993.

Charmayne and her father bought the AQHA gelding from a feedlot when he was a six year old, and she was just twelve. It was rumored that Gils Bay Boy like to buck a bit when they got him. Only two years later the pair qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. They went on to win the NFR that year along with the WPRA World Championship and the WPRA Rookie of the Year.
One of Scamper's most amazing runs came during the 1985 NFR. As they came down the alley to enter the arena, Scamper’s bridle broke. He not only ran the pattern on his own, he and Charmayne won the go-round. 

In 1986 Charmayne and Scamper won money in all ten rounds at the NFR, a feat only three other riders have accomplished.
Scamper ended up with the enviable record of ten WPRA titles, six NFR titles and ten Rodeo Houston titles, along with many other circuit finals and major rodeo championships. He carried Charmayne to more than one million of her $1,842,506 lifetime earnings. He was retired after the 1994 season and was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1996.


Because he was a gelding and could not reproduce, James made the decision to clone Scamper. The animal genetics corporation Viagen performed the cloning, and the ensuing foal, nicknamed Clayton, was born in 2006, kept a stallion, and now stands at stud.
Scamper died at the age of thirty-five on July 4, 2012 . James said he enjoyed good health to the end.

“He’s one in a million. He’s a miracle…I doubt there will ever be another horse like him.”
Charmayne James, describing Scamper, 1989


I was only fortunate enough to be able to watch Scamper run in person once, but I watched him on TV many times. As a cowgirl who's been around great barrel horses for most of her life, let me tell you, Scamper was one of a kind. 
I wrote Changing A Cowboy's Tune with another great barrel horse in mind. My friend, Kali Jo Parker, was gracious enough to let me use her great mare, Tuneful, for my inspiration. Tuneful carried Kali Jo to many rodeo and barrel race wins. You can see the real Tuneful and Kali Jo on the cover below.
Get your copy of Changing A Cowboy's Tune here on Amazon. 

Did you ever watch Charmayne and Scamper run? 
Do you have a favorite horse that is one of a kind to you?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Marvel's of Modern Medicine






I’ve spent the past four days trying to get my rear out of bed. I was sidelined by a nasty virus that left me taking doctor prescribed medicine that looked more like a horse pill that something offered for humans. However, the good news is that after whopping doses of penicillin the bug seems to be retreating. 

While I was half comatose between my morning and early afternoon naps, I began considering how pioneer women handled colds, viruses, flu, etc. I do remember touring Yorktown and one of the stops was the physician’s tent.

Early American doctors use some of the very same things we have in our kitchen cabinets. Cloves were used for toothaches. A whole clove was placed on the gum below the tooth in question or rubbed against a teething baby’s gums. In the case of fevers, a tea made with the grated knots from a willow tree – willow bark tea, was used to bring temperatures down. A simple leaf called a lamb’s ear could be used in poultices to stop bleeding. Camphor or mustard rubs would break up chest congestion. Often the heat would leave blisters on the skin. A fine case of blisters meant the medication was working. Gives new meaning to what doesn’t kill you might cure you.

Now, that I’m feeling better, I went back to an old family bible, that was my great, great, great grandfather’s, Jonathan Whaley given to him in 1856. Not only did they list births, deaths, marriages, but medical advice. According to the ‘ladies’, a sure cure for Diphtheria was thus: a teaspoon of common sulfur mixed into a wine glass of water and used to gargle. For neuralgia, one must use a fresh cut lemon and rub against the heart. In the case of small pox, one must find a recently hanged individual and place the palm of the left hand against the skin. (Yeah, I must say, I’d just a soon die on that one) But, who would have thought, one would make a cure out of mold on bread either?

Until next time,
Happy trails. 

Nan O'Berry 

Actors Milburn Stone and Dennis Weaver on a still from the long running western, "Gunsmoke".