Wednesday, November 14, 2018

What Ever Happened to Big Nose Kate

Big Nose Kate - Photo copyright
I don't know about you, but I'm a HUGE fan of the movie Tombstone. It's one of my top ten, must watch every year no matter what, movies. Maybe it's the intrigue of the wild west and the many barriers they faced settling in the western states or maybe it was the authentic, desperately sexy portrayals by Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton and Kurt Russell, (yum). Most likely the latter.

Tombstone Cast of Yummy Characters Photo Copyright
Doc Holliday was a well-educated dentist, with a gambler/gunslinger soul. He didn't like many, but those he trusted and respected could count on him when things got nasty. Wyatt Earp was one of those friends, as was his lady love Big Nose Kate.
Mary Katherine Horony, later known as big nose Kate, captured the gunslingers heart. She is said to have descended from Hungarian nobility. Her father, a physician, immigrated to American with his wife and children in 1860. After settling in Davenport, Iowa, Kate's father and his wife died within three years of settling. This sadly thrust their children into the foster care system.

At 16, Kate had had enough and ran away. Feisty even then, she stowed away on a riverboat bound for St. Louis. She reported to have married, and had a child, but no clear records were found. For a short time, it's said that she entered the Ursuline Convent, but only for a short time. In 1869, she started working as a prostitute for none other than Nellie "Bessie" Earp, James Earp's wife, and so goes her path to meeting and falling for Doc Holliday.
Doc Holliday Photo Copyright
Her real adventure started when she met Doc Holliday in 1877 in Fort Griffin, Texas in the John Shanssey's Saloon. The connection was instant and undeniable. They understood one another. Doc boasted that 'Kate was his intellectual equal.' By this time, she had already earned the nickname 'Big Nose Kate' due to her prominent nose. The couple followed Doc's good friend Wyatt Earp to Dodge City, then eventually to Tombstone, Arizona in 1880. She was his steadfast partner for many years, though many reported loud and passionate arguments and fights between the two.
Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate Photo Copyright
In 1887, three years after Doc Holliday died of tuberculosis, Kate married an Irish blacksmith named George Cummings. They followed the excitement and intrigue of the mining boom from Colorado to several different Arizona counties. Kate moved to Dos Cabezas and started working at the Cochise Hotel, for John and Lula Rath when Cummin's alcoholism caused him to become abusive.
Cochise Hotel Photo Copyright
In 1910, Kate moved into the home of miner John J. Howard and lived a much calmer life until his passing in 1930. In 1931, 80 year old Kate contacted a longtime friend, Arizona governor George Hunt, and applied for admittance to the all men Pioneers' Home in Prescott, Arizona. It took Kate six months to be admitted. She was one of the first female residents of the home. She became an outspoken resident, assisting other residents with living comforts. 
Kate died on November 2, 1940, just five days before her 90th birthday, of acute myocardial insufficiency. Her death certificate states that she also suffered from coronary artery disease. She was buried on November 6, 1940, under the name Mary K. Cummings, in the Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Over the next few posts, I thought I'd share some 'conversations' I've had with a friend and movie critic. We spent many a year watching the Oscar nominated films and had some fun and sometimes contentious hours of discussion about the films we'd just seen.

I asked him to give me his perception and birds eye view of how he perceived stories and storytelling. His answers were so precise and thought out I feel that to do them justice I would cover each section separately. This post will start with his overview and my thoughts about how he sees story. Thank you Joe. How do you see your stories within the concepts he brings up. When it comes to romance and history, the things we love to write and read, telling the best story possible is the goal. Even early writers like Helen Hunt Jackson had romance on the mind with her Saxe Holmes stories.

  • General Notes
    1. Writing is NOT a list of rules, but a list of principles, (thus explained below. To be discussed in future posts)
    2. Contrary to popular belief, you show a story, you never tell a story. If your audience is film or television or stage then it’s a literal SHOW don’t tell. This means the audience is smart and they have already been conditioned to watch the textual actions of the actors for story cues. The writer need not hold the hand of the audience. As for the novelist, it’s a non-literal SHOW. It’s the writer’s responsibility to paint the picture for the reader. Be as descriptive as possible without going overboard.
    3. The goal of the writer is to create a “suspension of disbelief.” Great stories take hold and grasp the audience to a point that they themselves forgot about their real world surroundings and focus on the roller coaster actions and events of the story. We have all been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it. Just ask a Starwars fan.
Let's take number one. Writing is NOT a list of rules. I think most would agree, although I think we sometimes find ourselves creating rules. If we have rules then we can follow them and the story will magically appear. It is true genres have rules or ideas that readers expect, but are the great stories really written by rules? I do like the idea of principles. According to a principle internally motivates you to do tings that seem good and right...A rule externally compels you, through force , threat or punishment, to do the things someone else has deemed good or right. For myself, when I write, it's to tell the story that I want, in the way I want. If I can't love my story, then I don't think readers will either.

Number two: Contrary to popular belief, you show a story, you never tell a story. The writer need not hold the hand of the audience. How many times have we been told to show, not tell. But that can be difficult. It can come down to semantics, but I believe if you show your readers through dialogue, both external and internal you can come close. The rest is painting the picture of what's around to spark the dialogue.

I also love the statement "The writer need not hold the hand of the audience."  There are times when authors think they have to tell everything. If you do that, how can a reader be involved, allow their imagination to fill in the blanks. I've had conversations with friends who loved a story because their imagination was involved. They could fill in the gaps with what they needed the story to do for them.

Number three: The goal of the writer is to create a “suspension of disbelief.” Perhaps this is my favorite. When we tell stories we want our readers to join us in the world we have created. To do that, we need to know that world well before we can draw others in. Once you succeed at that, readers are willing to go wherever your characters are headed. They will cry, cheer, scream and jump for joy with the hero and heroine.

Most of us read and write about the West. It is a real yet mythical place. There is joy in the complex simplicity of that time. It is in the sharing of that love of time and place that we wish to share with our readers, at least I do. History is a passion, and telling stories of that history is what keeps me up and night and at the keyboard.

Until next time and Part Two, here's to telling great stories that touch the hearts of our readers and ourselves.

"The Homestead" a story in the anthology "The Untamed West" takes place in Colorado and had it inception based on a story near where I live.  If you are so inclined, you can find it and many other 'Western' stories there.

Below is an excerpt:

      Ruth placed the axe against her left leg, rubbing her tired shoulder muscles with calloused hands. She noticed rain clouds hanging low against the northwestern sky, as though they were waiting for some signal to move.
     Ruth watched the same pattern all spring that seemed to be repeating itself this fall. Her eyes, tired and sad, stared at the hated lonely stretch of land, the small piece of the greater high desert at the mountain's base in the new Colorado Territory. She'd hated the place when Joseph had brought them here. Hated it even more now. She was a prisoner. Not as most would think, but a prisoner she knew herself to be. She was hemmed in by the endless stretch of land to the east and south, the dark, high mountains to the west and forest to the north.
     "It's amazing how love will lead you to the loneliest places," she told the blowing wind. Wind that told of the coming storm.
     Sighing, Ruth turned back to the pile of wood she'd dragged in. Again, she picked up the newly sharpened axe, intending to finish before the storm arrived.
     "Mother, Mother," Ruth heard excitement and fear in her five-year-old son Samuel's voice.
     Heart pounding, Ruth moved away from the wood she was chopping. She turned to see Samuel standing some twenty feet away. He was standing statue still, not moving.

The Untamed West
Amazon ebook

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners
Western Fictioneers

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Enchanted Rock

(photo from Wikipedia)

If you can see the tiny dots in the upper center of the photo, those dots are people! And the dome is a giant pink granite mountain in the Texas Hill Country known as Enchanted Rock. 

(photo from The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

Seriously, we’re talking big. I’ve climbed it a couple of times—well, at least most of the way—and I can tell you that it is big! It covers approximately 640 acres and rises approximately 425 feet above the surrounding terrain to an elevation of 1,825 feet above sea level. If you’re ever in Texas, it’s a great place to visit!

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Enchanted Rock has fascinated humans for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence indicates human visitation going back at least 11,000 years. Folklore of local Tonkawa, Apache and Comanche tribes ascribes magical and spiritual powers to the rock.

Tonkawa Indians thought that ghost fires flickered on top of the dome. The odd creaking and groaning coming from the dome frightened them. But Geologists say that the dome creaks and groans as temperatures change. As for the ghost fires, the rock glitters on clear nights after rain. Scientists think the glittering is reflections from collected water or wet feldspar.

One story tells of an Indian maiden who saw her tribe killed by an enemy. She threw herself off the top of Enchanted Rock, and her spirit haunts the rock still. Another tells of a young Spanish soldier who rescued his true love just as Comanches were about to burn her at the base of the rock.

Once, the Tonkawa captured a Spanish conquistador who escaped by hiding in the rocks. This gave rise to an Indian legend of a “pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own.” The Indians believed he wove enchantments on the area.

Some other legends associated with Enchanted Rock: 

 It's revered by native tribes as a holy portal to other worlds.

Anyone spending the night on the rock becomes invisible.

It’s haunted by spirits of warriors from a now-extinct Native American tribe who were slaughtered at Enchanted Rock by a rival tribe.

Footprint indentations on the rock of Native American chief who sacrificed his daughter and was condemned to walk Enchanted Rock forever.

Woman's screams heard at night are of a white woman who took refuge on Enchanted Rock after escaping a kidnapping.

Bad fortune and death will befall anyone who climbs the rock with bad intent. 

So don't have bad intent!  

**With thanks to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Wikipedia 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Wild Women Gamblers of the West

Life is a gamble. No words more accurately described the Wild West where life's entertainments were as limited as the opportunities for a woman to earn a living.

Here are 2 real-life lady gamblers who bet against the odds (and won and lost) every day of their lives...

Carlotta Thompkins, Aka Lottie Deno (shortened from dinero - Spanish for money)

( born 1844 in Warsaw, Kentucky ) 

Lottie’s father, a wealthy Kentucky tobacco farmer, took her with him on business trips where they played poker, faro, and roulette at the finest gambling houses. By the time she was 16, she was a skilled card player. After her father enlisted in the Civil War and died during his first battle, her mother sent her to Detroit to live with friends and find a husband.

When the war left everyone struggling financially—her in Detroit and her mother and sister back home in Kentucky, she used gambling to earn enough to support herself and her family. When her mother died, she became a riverboat gambler in order to put her sister through private school.

Lottie fell in love with Frank Thurmond while dealing cards at his saloon, but Frank was forced to go on the run after he stabbed and killed a disorderly patron. She followed a rumor that he was heading West and went that way as well, gambling in each town until they played out—and until she found Frank in Texas.

After they married, she dealt cards at night and managed their restaurant, hotel, and two saloons during the day. When she eventually gave up poker to play bridge, she also became involved with civic organizations and helped build an Episcopal church.

Eleanor Dumont, aka Madam Mustache

( born 1829 in New Orleans )

Not much is known about Eleanor’s early years, but she worked in San Francisco dealing cards until 1854 when she traveled to Nevada City and opened her own gaming house. She decorated it expensively and tastefully, kept it open 24-hours a day, and offered guests free champagne.

In addition to being a beautiful and talented cardsharp, she had a reputation for being honest and for being generous to losers. She had many admirers but she loved unwisely.

The first was the editor of the Nevada Journal, a man who never returned her affections. So, when Nevada City’s gold mines stopped producing, she took her winnings to the gold camps that were booming. When their fortunes waned, she moved to the next camp, and the next.

When her good looks started to fade and the facial hair under her nose earned her the name Madam Mustache, she left gambling and bought a cattle ranch. Knowing nothing about the lonely life of ranching, she married a handsome cattle buyer who turned out to be a smooth-talking scoundrel. When he took all of her money and deserted her, she returned to her first love—gambling.

Sadie Sullivan

( born... in my mind )

Who is Sadie Sullivan? 

She's my Kansas farm girl turned Dodge City cardsharp in my novel, Between Love & Lies (the first story in my Gambling Hearts series). And what happens to make Sadie turn to a life of gambling in 1877? 

Here's the book blurb...

Sadie Sullivan lost everything when a herd of longhorn cattle bound for Dodge City destroyed her farm. Now she works in Dodge—one of the most wicked and lawless towns in the West—at the Northern Star Saloon. But her survival in this new world of sin and violence depends on maintaining a lie so deadly it could end her life before the town of Dodge can.

The one man capable of unraveling Sadie's secrets is Noah Ballantyne, the Texan rancher whose herd destroyed her home. Back in town and taking up the role of deputy alongside legendary lawman Bat Masterson, Noah vows he won't leave until he's made things right. But with the saloon’s madam unwilling to release Sadie and a rich cattle baron wanting her as well, the odds aren’t in favor of finding love…or leaving town alive.

In a town ruled by sin, will he earn her love or her lies? 

Want to read more about Sadie and Noah? CLICK HERE to read the opening scene of their adventure.

~ * ~ 

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Poker Alice

Alice fashionably dressed
Born in Sudbury, England in 1853, Alice Ivers is best known as the highly skilled female poker player and faro dealer who loved cigars. The only daughter of a school teacher, Alice’s childhood consisted of the best education and moral values. When she was twelve, her family immigrated to the United States and settled in Virginia, but with the Civil War raging and gold being discovered in the West, she and her family eventually moved to Lake City, Colorado.
As a young woman, with exceptional breeding, class and beauty, Alice was sought after by many men. The first man she favored was Frank Duffield, a mining engineer and gambler. It is believed that throughout her life Duffield was Alice’s one true love and she soon married him. Duffield’s job took the couple from one mining camp to another before they settled back in Lake City. There they enjoyed social parties and Alice loved the attention lavished upon her. She began joining her husband at the poker tables, where Duffield taught her everything he knew about the game. Some nights she sat in for him while he was at work. Because of her fine education, her math skills were exceptional and it wasn’t long before she was more adept at the game than her husband and gaining a bit of notoriety; females rarely ventured into a saloon and were never expected to be good poker players.
A few years into married life, Duffield was killed in a mine explosion. Alice quickly came to the conclusion she would now have to make her own way in the world and turned to gambling full time as a means to support herself. Shortly after she hit the tables, she earned the nickname ‘Poker Alice’.       
Leadville, Colorado
Finding work wasn’t difficult for Alice. She held many jobs in gaming houses throughout Colorado, to include Leadville and Alamosa. She kept her appearance neat, dressed in fashion, carried a .38 caliber revolver, and somewhere along the way, acquired a love for cigars. Often seen puffing on a stogie, if anyone rudely commented on her smoking habit, she’d pull out her gun and effectively put an end to their ribbing.
Alice found her way to Oklahoma and her fame spread there, too. She continued to win substantial amounts and made her way to New Mexico before moving to New York City. There she treated herself to new clothes and enjoyed the nightlife. With her funds nearly depleted, she left New York and headed back west, to the new mining town of Creede, Colorado. At forty years old, she took a job working eight hour shifts at the tables at Bob Ford’s Exchange. Bob’s claim to fame was having killed Jesse James. Many folks disliked his bragging, because at that time, Jesse James was still considered more of a hero than an outlaw. Eventually, Ed Kelly killed Ford in 1892. Alice witnessed the shooting and moved to Deadwood soon after.
Deadwood, South Dakota
In Deadwood, Alice took another job dealing stud. She met fellow dealer, Warren Tubbs, and the two struck up a friendship. Tubbs hailed from Sturgis, worked as a house painter by day and dealt at night, though his skills weren’t good. Alice saved Tubbs’ life when a drunk miner came into the saloon and tried to stab Tubbs. She shot the miner in the arm, and soon after Tubbs fell in love with Alice. They married, with the agreement Tubbs would stick to painting and Alice would continue with gambling. The couple had seven children, whom Alice kept away from the tables as she continued winning large sums of money to provide for her family. Once their children grew up and moved away, the couple retired to a chicken ranch north of Deadwood. Tubbs contracted pneumonia in 1910. He died on a cold winter’s night with a wish to be buried back in Sturgis. Alice drove his body back to Sturgis through a blizzard and pawned her wedding ring for payment for his burial.
Playing cards, circa 1800's
Alice remained in Deadwood and took another job dealing poker. At this time in her life, she changed her clothing from fashionable to plain attire and continued with her cigar smoking ways. She hired George Huckert to take care of her farm and when she owed him wages of more than one thousand dollars, she married him, reasoning it was cheaper to marry him than pay him what she owed him. Huckert was a loafer and spent most of time in the bars. Upon his passing, Alice was relieved and took back her name of Tubbs.
Life became tougher for Alice as she aged. Most of her money was gone and reform was fast becoming the rage in Deadwood and Sturgis. She opened her own gambling hall and catered to the soldiers at Ft. Meade. Several times she was arrested on gambling, prostitution, and alcohol charges. Each time, she beat the charges and was set free. She was also charged with killing a soldier and beat this rap as the jury agreed she killed the man in self-defense. Past the age of 70, Alice began having gall bladder troubles. With medicine reaching new heights, doctors convinced her to undergo a relatively new surgical procedure. She readily agreed, mostly due to the fact a fortune teller had told her she would live to one hundred. Sadly, Alice died during the operation. She is buried at St. Aloysius Cemetery located in the Black Hills. Ted Walker saved her home in Sturgis from demolition and had it moved to Junction Avenue. To this day, Alice remains a poker legend in Colorado and South Dakota.                

Monday, November 5, 2018

How would you like a cowboy at Christmas?

By Kristy McCaffrey

I'm so pleased to share my first Christmas-themed story as part of the collection A CHRISTMAS COWBOY TO KEEP.

Only 99 cents

The weather is cold, the atmosphere is festive, and the cowboys are hot. How do you keep a cowboy at Christmas?

Don’t miss this holiday collection of modern-day cowboys and the women they love, featuring the same USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-Winning authors from “A Cowboy to Keep,” which garnered 55 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars.

Daniel Dylan Layman is determined to show headstrong city girl Liberty Ann Hart that a country life in Mistletoe, Texas, is the perfect Christmas gift.

A CHRISTMAS CAROLE by Andrea Downing
Carrie Matheson and her son are trying to settle into a new life in Wyoming. Tate Schrugge is trying to ditch his Scrooge and play Santa to the young boy. But will there be a Dickens of a romance by Christmas?

Lawyer Skye Mallory returns home for the holidays due to an unexpected inheritance, and cowboy Joe Carrigan stands in her way.

When Kristen Kelly receives a Christmas kiss from Cole Lawson, she doesn’t believe it means anything. But Cole sets out to make things right with the woman of his heart.

SLAY BELLS by Hildie McQueen
At a small-town Christmas festival sparks fly between Carmen Dias and Detective Jared Bowden, but a dead body and a pesky ex-girlfriend don’t exactly spell romance.

All Sofia Rossi wants is to re-connect with her estranged son. But can Gar McCulloch, a handsome cowboy who runs a juvenile rehab ranch, be the answer to her problems?

Wedding planner Melody Evans views happily-ever-after endings with a skeptical eye. Veterinarian Leland Jennings IV thinks Christmas is for kids. Can the holiday spirit bring them together?

An Excerpt from The Peppermint Tree
Joe scanned the crowded dance floor. Where was she?

A merry melee of couples crowded before him, tuxedos and gowns of various lengths all meshed together beneath a flashing disco ball.

He caught sight of Tina three tables over. He spun around and headed in the opposite direction, and spied Skye at the bar.

He came up behind her and leaned his mouth close to her ear. “You can’t keep avoiding me.”

She jumped. “My God. You’re so quiet. What are you? An assassin?”

“Just a cowboy. How about a dance?”

She didn’t exactly agree but didn’t resist when he placed a hand on her lower back and guided her to the dance floor. Once they infiltrated the throng of couples clinging to one another as they swayed to Frank Sinatra, Skye turned to him, her face a blank mask. He folded her hand into his and wrapped his other arm around her, enjoying her proximity. Spending time with her hadn’t unfolded as organically as he’d hoped, since she’d managed to avoid him for large chunks of the evening.

“Did seeing Anderson make you feel like you were at prom again?” he asked, trying to ignore the cleavage teasing his senses and the heady scent reminding him of wildflowers.

She shrugged. “He’s doing well, of which I’m glad, and his wife is very lovely.”

She wouldn’t look at him, her countenance as icy as a frozen lake.

“Am I missing something here?” he asked.

“I’m tired. I want to go home.”

“I was hoping to spend some time with you.”

Putting distance between them, she raised her chin and locked eyes with him. “Are you now? What a piece of work you are, Carrigan.”

Her anger ignited the small space between them.

“Why do you say that?” He pressed his hand against her back to keep her from walking away, because one thing was certain—she was about ready to bolt.

“I’m tired of being at your beck and call.” Her voice seethed in a furious whisper. “You rejected me all those years ago, and now you’re just stringing me along again. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t keep treating me like some consolation prize and expect me to put up with it.”

Taken aback by her outburst, he attempted to regroup. “I’m not stringing you along.”

“I can’t do this anymore.” She tried to leave again, but he held fast to her. “I can’t be your friend,” she bit out, her voice still lowered so as not to attract attention. “I’ve tried. It’s too difficult.”

The shadow of pain in her eyes brought him up short.

He’d had no idea how much he had screwed up until this instant.

He grabbed her hand and led her out of the ballroom as Brenda Lee started singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” His grip firm, he wasn’t about to let her go.

Copyright © 2018 K. McCaffrey LLC

Treat yourself to an early Christmas present. Grab a copy today!!

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