Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sad News

One of our authors has been dealing with health issues and the dire illness of her son, and as we all believe family comes first, we understand her need to concentrate on her life away from writing.  Sadly, Sharla Rae's son passed away, and we hope you will all include her in your prayers and thoughts.  Once her heart heals and she's ready, she'll be back to join the group.  We wish her love, hugs and comfort during this difficult time and hope she will take all the time she needs to heal.  We're here for her.

Ginger & Cowboy Kisses Crew

Monday, July 22, 2013


When I took watercolor lessons, the first scene I painted was of a windmill at sunset. Not original, nor was it very good, but it was indicative of my love for both windmills and sunsets. Although they’re difficult to find now, my favorite are the old wooden-frame style windmills shown in the photo below. 

The land on which we live had a metal windmill, now down for repair due to a rude tornado that tore through the orchard. That part of our land has been sold to a neighbor, so it’s no longer our problem. However, I miss looking out the window and seeing that windmill turning. Our windmill was a Chicago Aeromotor, one of the major brands used in in the United States. 

Ranching Heritage Museum, Texas Tech University
Lubbock, Texas -
photo by author
I also miss the song the windmill sings during a breezy day or evening. With the windows open, the sound is a lullaby at bedtime. Don’t get me wrong, I love modern conveniences, but they’re a trade-off. We lose something with each part of our past that disappears.

Our former windmill at dawn
Photo by Stephanie Smith
Due to my love for the life-giving machines, I included them in two of my books. BRAZOS BRIDE was released in 2012 and has been re-released as part of a boxed set in MEN OF STONE MOUNTAIN: MICAH, ZACH, JOEL available from Amazon.. TEXAS LIGHTNING is a time travel due to be released in 2014. Thinking about these books led to research about windmills that involved more than just loving to look at and listen to the marvelous machines. Something many readers don't realize is that the few sentences I included in each of these books involved a lot of research. I might have been carried away and overdone the research, which happens to me often. 

Over 80,000 working windmills are estimated to be still working now in Texas. You can’t drive on any road without seeing them in the distance. They are of particular service to ranchers in the arid regions. Land that once was almost useless to ranchers became valuable once windmills were erected. The windmill has come to be one of the symbols of ranching and cowboys. Once I started researching them, I was surprised the type I have come to love was not as old as I’d suspected.

West Texas ranch land - water?
photo by author
Before the introduction of windmills to Texas and the West, inhabitable land was confined to areas where a constant water supply was available. There was no way for vast areas to be settled without a life-giving supply of water. The coming of the windmill made it possible to pump water from beneath the ground, and soon whole new areas were opened up to settlers. The first windmills were of the European style, built by Dutch and German immigrants for grinding meal and powering light industry. What settlers needed most, however, was a windmill that pumped water.

Windmills in Germany
Photo from iStock

Because of its bulk and need for constant attention, the European windmill was impractical for this purpose. The solution to this problem came in 1854, when Daniel Halladay (Halady or Halliday) built the first American windmill in Ellington, Connecticut. He added to his mill a vane, or "tail," as it was called by cowhands, that functioned to direct the wheel into the wind. The wheel was a circle of wood slats radiating from a horizontal shaft and set at angles to the wind, designed so that centrifugal force would slow it in high winds; thus, the machine was self-regulating and operated unattended. Its simple direct-stroke energy converter consisted of only a shaft and a small fly wheel to which the sucker rod was pinned. This compact mechanism was mounted on a four-legged wood tower that could be constructed over a well in one day.
Steam Locomotive - water required
iStock photo

Railroad companies immediately recognized windmills as an inexpensive means of providing water for steam engines and for attracting settlers to semi-arid regions through which they planned to lay track. By 1873 the windmill had become an important supplier of water for railways, small towns where there were no public water systems, and small farms. Many of the very early mills were crude, inefficient, homemade contraptions. One of the popular makeshift mills was a wagon wheel with slats nailed around it to catch the wind, mounted on half an axle. The axle was fastened securely to a post erected beside the well. A sucker rod was pinned to the edge of the hub. It was stationary and worked only when the wind blew in the right direction. The windmills used later on the big ranches were the more dependable factory-made windmills.

Barbed wire fences changed the West
Photo by author
Windmills moved to the ranches when the use of barbed wire began in the late 1870s. At first the water holes, springs, creeks, and rivers were fenced, so that the back lands had no access to water. In the midst of the fence cutting and fighting, some ranchers began drilling wells and experimenting with windmills. Most of these experiments were unsuccessful, however, due to lack of knowledge concerning the proper size of the windmill in relation to the depth and diameter of the well. One of the earliest successful experiments was made eight miles north of Eldorado, in Schleicher County, Texas by Christopher C. Doty, a nomadic sheepman. Doty moved his flock into that area and found abundant water in shallow wells. By 1882, however, a drought had dried his wells; he ordered a drilling rig from Fort Scott, Arkansas, bored a fifty-two-foot well, and erected a Star windmill, which successfully supplied water for his 4,000 head of stock.

Rock line cabin from the Matador Ranch mentioned below,
now on view at the Ranching Heritage Museum,
Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX

photo by author
 Watering stock with windmills spread rapidly. Eastern land speculators began buying, fencing, and running stock on the land until it became ripe for colonization. Among the first of these speculators to indirectly bring windmills to North Texas was the Magnolia Cattle and Land Company, organized by Maj. Willa V. Johnson. In 1884 the company bought two-thirds of the state-owned land in Borden County, land which had natural water resources and had long been unofficially claimed for grazing by Christopher Columbus Slaughter. When Johnson fenced the land, Slaughter was forced into the use of windmills to supply water for his cattle. By 1886 the Matador Land and Cattle Company (where years later my husband’s uncle worked) began using windmills to water stock.

Texas windmill - Imagine farming
or running cattle on this land
without the windmill's life-giving water

from Kozzi Photos
The largest of the Eastern land speculators, the Capitol Syndicate, began using windmills on its XIT Ranch in 1887. One of their windmills was believed to be the world's tallest; it was made of wood and was a total height of 132 feet. A Texas historical marker at Littlefield marks the site of a replica of the world's tallest windmill built on the XIT Ranch. The original windmill blew over in 1926. By 1900 the XIT had 335 windmills in operation.

Not until the King Ranch began extensive use of the windmill in 1890 did that the practice began to spread rapidly over that area. By 1900 windmills were a common sight in the Texas and the West. Inhabitable land was no longer limited to regions with a natural water supply. The windmill made the most remote areas habitable.

Pawnee National Grasslands Windmill
iStock photo

The use of windmills brought about two of the most colorful characters of the West, the driller and the windmiller, and altered the lifestyle of another, the range rider. The driller was usually a loner and seldom seen by anyone except the range rider and windmiller. He followed the fence crews and guessed at where he might find water, then bored wells with his horse-powered drilling rig. When the driller was successful the windmiller followed and set up a mill. Owners of the larger ranches usually employed several windmillers to make continuous rounds, checking and repairing windmills. The windmillers lived in covered wagons and only saw headquarters once or twice a month. The early mills had to be greased twice a week, and this was the range rider's job. He kept a can (or beer bottle) containing grease tied to his saddle. When he rode up to a mill that was squeaking, he would climb it, hold the wheel with a pole until he could mount the platform, and then let the wheel turn while he poured grease over it.

Lone range rider - iStock photo

The range rider was always in danger of attacks from swarms of wasps, which hung their clustered cells beneath the windmill's platform; there was the added danger of falling from the tower when such attacks occurred. The windmill industry's shift in 1888 to the back-geared, all-steel mill caused heated debates in Texas livestock and farming circles. Most ranchers and farmers welcomed the new steel windmill because its galvanized wheel and tower held up better in harsh weather; also, its gear system was better able to take advantage of the wind, thus enabling the windmill to run more hours per day. The back-geared mill could also pump deeper and larger-diameter wells. Those who favored the old wood mill argued that the steel mill was more likely to break because of its high speed, that it was not as easily repaired as the wood mill, and that when parts had to be ordered the steel mill might be inoperative for days. Though sales of wood mills continued, they declined steadily, so that by 1912 few were being sold.
Three windmills at sunset
iStock photo
The last major development in the windmill came in 1915. A housing that needed to be filled with oil only once a year was built around the mill's gears. This relieved the range rider of his biweekly greasing chores and somewhat diminished the windmiller's job. Because of the dependability of this improved windmill, worries over water shortages were eased for the rancher, farmer, and rural dweller. This mill was the prime supplier of water in rural Texas until 1930, when electric and gasoline pumps began to be widely used.

Though Texas became the largest user of windmills in the United States, there were never more than three active manufacturers of windmills in Texas at one time. Windmills remain an important supplier of water for Texas cattlemen. The King Ranch in the late 1960's kept 262 mills running continuously and 100 complete spares in stock. Stocking spare mills is a common practice among ranchers who depend on the windmill to supply water for cattle in remote pastures.

Because the windmill has been confined for the most part to remote areas, it has become a symbol of a lonely and primitive life, fitting for the pioneers it first served and the cowboys about whom we love to read. I hold windmills dear to my heart as symbols of the Old West--just not as old as I'd first imagined. 

Let me leave you with a video of one of my favorite groups singing one of my favorite songs about water and the need for it: Sons of the Pioneers singing "Cool, Clear Water."

Caroline Clemmons is an award winning and Amazon best selling western romance author. Her latest release is the boxed set of the MEN OF STONE MOUNTAIN: MICAH, ZACH, JOEL from Amazon at  

Thanks to Wikipedia and Texas State Historical Association Online Handbook of Texas.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Midwives or Witches?

For my first post on Cowboy Kisses I wanted to share something that I'd done a lot of research for, but also affected me emotionally and enabled me to write one of my main characters. 

In my new Historical Paranormal Western Romance, LAKOTA HONOR, Bounty Hunter, Otakatay is killing the Witkowin—crazy women believed to be witches. For my research I delved into where these women came from and why they were killed.

During the middle ages, a midwife/healer/witch was often the person called for a mother in labour, a broken limb, an amputation, an illness or pandemic, and as a counselor. They were unlicensed doctors of western history. These women were educated in the way of nursing, learning from hands on experience that was passed down from mothers to daughters. Their herbal remedies are still used today in modern pharmacology.

But what some may not know is that these women were hunted. They were called witches and sadly most burned at the stake.

Why were they crucified on a burning cross when they helped so many? Most witches were lay healers and therefore professed that some of their other remedies were purely ‘magical’ this in turn lead to their own demise.

In my research it is said that the witch-hunts were conceived from two notions, one being that the new male medical profession, under the protection and patronage of the ruling classes. This new medical profession played a key role in the witch-hunts, and maintaining that they were of medical reasoning.

.... Because the Medieval Church, with the support of kings, princes and secular authorities, controlled medical education and practice, the Inquisition [witch-hunts ] constitutes, among other things, an early instance of the "professional" repudiating the skills and interfering with the rights of the "nonprofessional" to minister to the poor. (Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness)

The second reason was religion. The witches were generally not of faith and practiced based on the knowledge they had acquired over the years as well as trial and error. The Catholics along with the Protestants professed that these women were born of devious nature and sexual conduct. They were spawns of the devil.

Their crimes became a multitude of transgressions from political subversion to blasphemy. A list of the three most prominent crimes mentioned periodically throughout history were
1. Every sexual crime against men. Infecting them during intercourse, lust in men was blamed upon the women, accused of making men impotent, of giving contraceptives, and performing abortions.
2. Being organized.
3. Having magical powers affecting health, harming but also of healing.

According to the church all witches powers were derived from their sexuality, which was a sin.

Now there are, as it is said in the Papal Bull, seven methods by which they infect with witchcraft the venereal act and the conception of the womb: First, by inclining the minds of men to inordinate passion; second, by obstructing their generative force; third, by removing the members accommodated to that act; fourth, by changing men into beasts by their magic act; fifth, by destroying the generative force in women; sixth, by procuring abortion; seventh, by offering children to the devils, besides other animals and fruits of the earth with which they work much charm...         (Malleus Maleficarum)

Witch-healers/midwives were the only practitioners available to small villages and towns without medical doctors or hospitals. However, according to witch-hunters Kramer and Springer, “No one does more harm to the Catholic church than the mid-wife.” So whether you are a witch or midwife you were doomed.

Witch-hunts lasted for hundreds of years being the most prominent during the 14th- 17th centuries. Witches represented a political, religious, and sexual threat toward the church and government alike. Thousands and thousands of women were burned at the stake in one account it states that there were two burnings a day for certain German cities. In the Bishopric of Trier, in 1585, two villages were left with only one female inhabitant each. Old women, young women and children were hunted and killed. Anyone harboring a witch or failing to report one faced excommunication and other punishments.

There are many accounts of how these women were crazy, how they were a part of the peasant’s rebellions of that time. But why wouldn’t they be? Their own government and church were prosecuting them. Some may have been crazy, thought to possess magical powers but it didn’t mean they deserved death punishable by horrid torture of imaginable means. They were unjustly hung, burned, and drowned because they were women taking from men a means of survival. They were a threat to society because they were different. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The New Dime Novel by Paty Jager

Pati, a recently retired member of our group is kind enough to fill in for me (Ginger) today.  Thanks Pati, I know everyone misses your posts already.  :)

I’ve always been intrigued by the Dime Novels that were the rage starting in 1860 in America. They began as short stories about life in the west. Some stories were true, some exaggerated. Some were stories that had been published in magazines and found a new venue in the Dime Novel.  The Dime Novel had stories that captured a nation and kept the growing literate population entertained.

Using the premise of a Dime Novel, I’ve started a series of short stories called Western Duets. They are ebook novellas that have two short western historical romances in them.  I have a file full of short stories that I’ve written as free reads or for promotion. By expanding the stories and in some cases rewriting scenes, I can offer them to readers in a new way.

I’ve read several blogs that state readers are moving toward reading shorter stories. The thought is people are busy and when they do read it is for short periods of time and with short stories they are able to finish them in their “down” time. Also the shorter stories are easier to access on the small screens of the new types of phones and tablets. 

While that all makes some sense and makes me feel like I’m on the cutting edge of the new norm, my main reason for putting out the Western Duets is to entertain my readers between my full length novels. Simple as that. And while they aren’t a dime they are less than a dollar. ;)

Western Duets - Volume One
Shanghaied Heart
Tossed together in the underbelly of a ship, strangers Finn Callaghan and Prudence Hawthorne must learn to trust one another in order to escape, but their freedom may be short lived once Finn discovers Prudence's brother wants her dead.

Last Stand for Love
U.S. Marshal Chas Brown agreed to be Sarah's proxy husband in order for her to keep her dead husband's ranch. Little did Chas know, he’d lose his heart in the process.

Award winning author Paty Jager ranches with her husband of thirty-four years raising hay, cattle, kids, and grandkids. Her first book was published in 2006 and since then she has published seventeen novels and novellas. She enjoys riding horses, playing with her grandkids, judging 4-H contests and fairs, and outdoor activities. You can learn more about Paty and her books at her blog;  her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager and twitter;  @patyjag.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wages in the 1870's

Dreams of making a good life drew people to the Wild West frontier by the hundreds. It’s estimated over 350,000 people traveled the 2100+ miles of the Oregon Trail. (Cholera was the most common cause of death for the one out of seventeen that didn’t make it.) Thousands of others took other trails, participated in land claims, and trekked toward the frontier on their own.

After the war, jobs increased substantially, especially during the manufacturing boom of the north, however, over 25% of the nation’s population was looking for work. Heading west may have been the only hope for many of them.

While researching for a story that included a character owning an iron works company in Chicago I came across a 1960 publication of wages during the 1860-1880’s and thought perhaps some of you might find the information useful. Below are the most popular 18 industries and the average DAILY wage for 1870. These numbers are from the East coast. An average of .20 more per day was paid in the west.

Stove foundries $2.30
Furniture  $2.24
Flour and grist mills $2.69
Hardware, cutlery, etc.  $2.41
Tin and sheet iron works $3.18
Saw and planning mills $2.10
Carriage and wagon works $1.96
Flint and window glass $2.47
Tanneries $2.26
Machinery $2.13
Railroad $1.06
Cigars and tobacco $1.58
Iron blast furnaces, etc. $2.27
Paper manufacture $1.85
Brick making $2.30
Clothing $1.38
Breweries and Distilleries $1.97
Woolen manufactures $1.52
Cotton manufactures $1.42

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Outhouses in the Old West by Jacquie Rogers #western @JacquieRogers

Outhouses in the Old West
by Moriah McCormick 

Have you ever wondered about outhouses? Growing up, my family and I did a lot of camping and at most camping sights there were outhouses available for use. My grandpa even had one on his farm. To me, outhouses were just a part of life. Nothing else.

It wasn’t until I moved to “The Big City” that I realized that not everyone thought that outhouses were commonplace structures. My friends would look at me strangely when I mentioned my grandpa’s outhouse and they’d tease me about how I was living in the wrong era, but invariably they’d start asking questions about them. I didn’t know how to answer these queries because an outhouse was a place to do your business and that was that.

When I was seventeen I went on a week long camping trip to Silver City, Idaho, where I saw a two-story outhouse. It triggered every question that my friends had ever asked me and a few of my own as well. For instance, what about that poor fellow on the ground floor? It was time to find some answers.

Crescent Moon
In modern day, there are men’s and women’s restrooms, but in all the pictures you see only one outhouse. Why? Also why was there a crescent moon on all of the outhouses? Conveniently for me those two questions can be answered at the same time.

An outhouse was made for privacy, but without a window how would light get in? Cutting a shape above eye level let in light but still allowed the users their modesty. In public places, a person could usually find two outhouses next to each other: one would have a carving of the crescent moon the sign for women, the men's would have a star.

Apparently the sanitation and maintenance of the men’s outhouses were not always on par with the women’s, and sometime in the early to mid 19th century, men began using the women’s outhouses and leaving the star behind.

But wait!  What about toilet paper?  Corncobs or paper (from whatever magazine or catalog available) had to suffice in the first half of the 19th century.  

Toilet Paper

In 1857, Joseph C. Gayetty introduced the first paper specifically for this purpose, Gayetty's Medicated Papers, also called therapeutic papers.  Rolled toilet paper wasn't invented until 25 years later, and wasn't commercially available to the mass market until the 1890s.

How did you keep down the inevitable foul smell of an outhouse so that a person could use it without throwing up? And what happens when it fills up?

Controlling the odor of an outhouse was a full time job. A bag of lime with a scoop was usually placed in the corner.  After every use you sprinkle a scoop of lime in the hole as a chaser to keep down the smell.  As for what happens when the outhouse gets full, easy—you simply dig a new hole, move the outhouse over it, and fill the old hole with dirt. This is a good place to plant a flowerbed or a tree.

Two-story outhouse in Silver City, Idaho
The two-story outhouse perplexed me the most. How in the world would you use the top without making a mess on the person below? It turns out that the seats were staggered and the top seat was placed farther back than the one on the bottom.  In the lower outhouse there was a wall placed behind the seat so that the occupants wouldn’t be defiled by the contents falling from above (thankfully).

Apparently I’m not the only person who thinks about outhouses. I Googled “outhouse” and was slammed with thousands of sights.

Do you like music?  Here's an outhouse song:

Anything you want to know about outhouses, you'll probably find on the Outhouses of America Tour website. Don't overlook the trivia and FAQ pages.

You just know Legends of America will have something to say on this topic. Take a look at their Outhouses of the American West pages (five of them).

A fun site to visit (and to send your outhouse photos and anecdotes) is They refer to the Legends of America site for the history, but this site offers photos, stories, and "misc. crap" (which has nothing to do with anything, but fun if you like disgusting humor).

Outhouses have long been a convenient source of good old American humor, the most often used is privy-tipping.  Outhouse scenarios are frequent in shoot-outs because they lend a little comic relief to an otherwise very tense "sit"-uation.  Yes, there's outhouse humor in nearly all my books--didn't realize that until now!

Here’s a snippet from
Much Ado About Madams
by Jacquie Rogers

Reese took aim, but lowered his rifle when he realized Buster was stabled just the other side of the wall. The .54 caliber bullet would go right though the man and the barn wall. Desperately, he searched for another way to take out the gunman. He ran to the outhouse and threw himself to the ground.

Gunfire stopped, and Reese’s skin crawled. Maybe his men had been shot. Maybe they were reloading. Praying for the latter, he positioned himself into a crouch, ready to spring. Seconds passed. The odor of the privy didn’t help his patience a bit. He made a note to tell Sadie to use more lime. Lots more lime.
♥ ♥ ♥
Hearts of Owyhee
Where the Old West really happened!
Much Ado About Marshals
Much Ado About Madams
Much Ado About Mavericks