Wednesday, July 18, 2018


  So send me far from Lombard Street, and write me down a failure;
Put a little in my purse and leave me free.

                     Robert Service, ‘The Rhyme of the Remittance Man’

     The so-called ‘remittance man’—a man sent from Britain with a family allowance, or remittance, to seek his fortune in the 1880s wilds of the American West—seems to have been inspiring writers ever since the west became the favored destination for pioneer adventurers and scoundrels alike. From Robert Service’s 1907 poem, ‘The Rhyme of the Remittance Man,’ through references in Mark Twain's writing and a 1995 song by Jimmy Buffett, the lives of remittance men have captured the American imagination in ways that were more often pejorative than complimentary, and frequently inventive rather than truthful. 
     To Americans, born of a democratic nature that esteemed free enterprise, the concept of a grown man being even partially supported by a father or brother could only reflect harshly on the man's character. Surely he must be a black sheep, sent to the United States due to a scandal or some embarrassing behavior such as gambling debts back home. Yet the truth was that having some allowance, from a father or older titled brother, was the norm for most of these men, who still sought to make their own money.
     American fathers of wealth viewed their offspring equally and generally divided their estate between them, assuming that each individual would then go forth and hopefully multiply that wealth. However, with the British, primogeniture ruled the aristocracy. Money was entailed on the estate, which in turn belonged to the title and he who inherited it: the oldest living male relative in direct descent. The feeling was that to divide the money would dissipate the inheritance and leave the estate, often very grand stately homes or castles, without the funds to keep them going.
Frontispiece from Letters of a Remittance Man to His Mother by                                              W.H. P. Jarvis                (public domain) 
     Furthermore, while work was the American ethic, it was far from the British aristocrat's consciousness to dirty one's hands with employment other than overseeing the estate. Even for second sons or spare heirs, the idea of doing anything relative to the merchant class was repugnant. There were three areas of profession where a gentleman might safely provide for himself while remaining in Britain: the church, the armed forces, or government. None of them provided well, and not all of them were to every man's liking.
     In my own book, Loveland, the uncle of my heroine is a remittance man and, while he is something of a scoundrel, his reasons for being so made him fairly typical of the remittance men who came to the west.  One must remember that even second sons had been brought up in the same manner as the heir apparent, in the same sumptuous homes with the same numerous servants to cater to their every need, the same plentiful food and other luxuries of the day. Then, suddenly, when they reached their majority, the second sons were cast out to make their own way in the world. Obviously, trouble brewed. Jealousies ensued. Gambling debts mounted.
     The men who came west, like my character Oliver Calthorpe, often came to manage the large cattle companies being formed by contingents of aristocrats. They were granted stock in the company for their trouble, and had salaries in addition to their remittance from their father or older brother. They could live like gentlemen, but their expectations of how they would live often, unfortunately, exceeded their incomes.
     Homes were built that were frequently exorbitant in cost and bore no relation to their surroundings. One such residence built on the Big Sioux River had fifteen rooms, a six-foot wide staircase, a library and central hall with huge fireplace of imported tiles. While local Americans might be living in log cabins or simple wood homes with few conveniences, windmill pumps for water or wells were dug for the British who also had attic-mounted tanks for their running water. Telephones were installed, walls were papered and carved wooden stairways were highlighted by chandeliers. One family arrived in 1880s Iowa with no less than 81 trunks!  Servants were frequently imported or accompanied men with families, though more often than not the turnover was great. Once the nannies, cooks and maids became known on the local, American marriage market in areas where females were scarce, it was sooner rather than later that they were homesteading with their own families to look after.
     For most remittance men, however, the idea was definitely not to stay in America. Most sought to make their money within five years or so and return home to marry and set up home on the wealth accrued in the west. Others moved on to British colonies like South Africa or India. And for yet others, like my Oliver Calthorpe, the end of their American adventure might have been more violent, more final. But for some lucky few, the vagaries of life and death might have meant that they now inherited the estate and could call some other relative a remittance man.   

If you'd like to read my own story including a remittance man, get a copy of Loveland at

     The light was failing and the birds were settling with their evening calls. Somewhere in the pasture a horse nickered. She sensed Jesse was there, watching, but she never turned as he stood at the fence. She heard him climb over and ease up behind her. He took the coiled rope from her in his left hand and slid his right hand over hers on the swing end, almost forcing her backward into his arms.
     She thought of paintings and statues she had seen, imagining his naked arms now, how the muscles would form them into long oblique curves, how he probably had soft downy fair hair on his forearms, how his muscle would slightly bulge as he bent his arm. His voice was soft in her ear, and she could feel his breath on her neck like a whispered secret.
     “Gentle-like, right to left, right to left to widen the noose, keep your eye on the post—are you watchin’ where we’re goin’?”
     He made the throw and pulled in the rope to tighten the noose. Alex stood there, his hand still entwined with hers and, for a moment, she wished they could stand like that forever. Then she took her hand away and faced him. For a second he rested his chin on the top of her head, then straightened again and went to get the noose off the post while coiling in the rope. She looked up at him in the fading light and saw nothing but kindness in his face, simplicity and gentleness that was most inviting. A smile spread across her face as he handed her the coiled rope and sauntered away, turning once to look back at her before he opened the gate. Emptiness filled her like a poisoned vapor seeking every corner of her being, and she stood with the rope in her hand listening to the ring of his spurs as his footsteps retreated.

(with apologies if you've read any of this before--I'm hoping I'll soon be back in the saddle!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

All the Pretty Horses

Recently I had the awesome opportunity to spend a vacation with my sister--in South Dakota. Yes, while some of my friends are going to Europe this summer, I was positively giddy about visiting the American West! On our girls-only trip (after participating in Wild Deadwood Reads), we made a stop at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

Look at that blaze!
 This 13,000-acre ranch is a little off the beaten path--but aren't most things that are truly spectacular?

In 1988, Oregon rancher Dayton Hyde raised the money to buy a ranch that had been in existence since the late 1880's. Today, the BHWHS has a herd of 700 wild horses--horses that have never had a saddle on them. They came here because they didn't qualify for the Bureau of Land Management's adoption program. "Listless, dejected, some have lost the will to live. Spirits broken, unwanted, either too old, too ugly, or too independent..." That was under BLM care. At the sanctuary, they thrive!

My sister making friends with a Choctaw pony--a special project at the sanctuary.
 My sister and I took a tour of the ranch and saw all four herds. This really was a spectacular opportunity for us. There were only 6 guests total. We drove out onto the land and saw not only the horses but a hill that is an ancient Sioux burial ground--they found this out because the horses would not walk across the area. Sonar shows hundreds of human bones! Centuries of Sioux at rest.

We also saw the cave where the original owner lived for two years while he built the ranch. Not to mention, remnants of a Pony Express station, and ancient petroglyphs! 

The cave where the original owner lived--for two years!
 You can visit the ranch, support it financially with donations or purchases from the gift shop. You can also adopt a horse virtually or for real! 

I have horses and know how hard it is to keep them pretty and healthy. I can't imagine the work involved in managing a herd of 700 horses, but these animals were beautiful and healthy-looking.

If you ever get to South Dakota, don't miss the sanctuary. And if you have a birthday or anniversary coming up, maybe someone would adopt a horse in your name. What a way to honor the spirit of the American West!

Part of the rock wall from the Pony Express station!

Our guide knew the horses really well. The ones who were nice and the ones who were a little iffy. Here he is pushing away a curious-but-unpredictable stallion.
We would do it again! South Dakota ROCKS!

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).

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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!!


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



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.

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