Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hierarchy of the Cattle Drive

Howdy all.

Let's turn back the clock today to the era of the open range. Before trains made moving product to market, cattle ranches needed to get their product from the range to the dinner table. The idea of the cattle drive was born. Ranchers banded together, hired a group of drovers to move their cattle from Texas to the west coast.

The influx of people to the west coast because of gold fever created a seller's market. If a rancher could get his herd to the west coast, he might be able to get anywhere from five dollars to ten dollars a head. If the cattle made it all the way to San Francisco, the price could even be twenty times as much. From Texas, herds of cattle from San Antonio, through El Paso, to San Diego, or Los Angles. By the year 1866, an estimated 260,000 head of cattle crossed the Red River on their journey north. But what did it take to get hundreds to thousands of head to market?

The photo is of cowboys around a chuckwagon on the AJ Ranch around the year 1898 cutesy of the Texas Almanac

Banding together to get as much beef to market as possible, ranchers would hire a trail boss to over see the operation. (Remember Gil Favor from Rawhide?) The Trail boss would work with owners to get documentation on all herds. He would need to know ear tags, ear marks, brands, as well as the number of head each ranch would be sending. He would then hire a crew of at least twelve men to ride herd. These hands would begin the process of placing a trail brand on the cattle. With many herds moving north and west, cattle might migrate together and would then have to be cut out and returned to their respective herds.

In order to get the job done, each rider would have to bring a long a string of eight to ten horses for the journey. These horses would be cared for by nine to ten wranglers. The herd of horses were called a Remuda.

This is a photo of a cattle drive in the Dakota's taken in 1887 by Grabill, John C. H., photographer. Notice the herd continues far into the distance. Some cattle herds going to market stretched twenty-five to fifty miles

With each rank, a cowboy's pay was different. A trail boss might receive between a $100.00 and $125.00 dollars for his tour of duty. A drover no more than $60.00 a month. Wranglers in charge of the Remuda would receive the lowest pay a mere $30.00 a month for the five to six months it took to get their herd to market.

The Panic of 1873 put an end to the great day of the cattle drives as rail heads pushed west and the invention of refrigerated cars took over transportation.

Famous trails out of Texas:
Chisholm Trail
Goodnight Loving
Sedalia Trail

Next month will look at the positions and jobs of the drovers on a cattle drive. Until then, happy trails!

Nan O'Berry

Friday, June 24, 2016

Six-Shooter Siding aka Tucumcari, NM

Tucumcari, New Mexico began as a railroad camp in 1901 when the Rock Island Railroad decided to extend a line through New Mexico. The residents of Liberty (a small town three miles north) saw the opportunity the rail line presented. They moved southward closer to the rail line, and the camp became a tent city. It started as a rowdy railroad camp filled with saloons, merchants, gamblers, dance hall girls and outlaws.

Originally called Ragtown, the camp became known as Six Shooter Siding, due to numerous gunfights. Its first formal name, Douglas, was used only for a short time. One year later In 1908 it was renamed Tucumcari after the scenic Tucumcari Mountains acting as a background for the city. There are several legends behind the meaning of the word "Tucumcari.” You can read about them in my previous blog post by CLICKING HERE.
Tucumcari Mountain
The fathers of Tucumcari were five business men from Liberty who filed on the land, then donated 120 acres of land for town site. They were: M. B. Goldenberg, A. D. Goldenberg, Jacob Wertheim, J. A. Street, and Lee K. Smith.  J.A. Street is credited for erecting the first tent in the new railroad camp.

The first passenger train arrived in Tucumcari on March 12, 1902 and before long there were four passenger trains arriving daily, two from the east and two from the west.
Tucumcari, NM Train Depot, courtesy of Christian M. Mericle
One of the first issues these early pioneers dealt with was the lack of water. Initially, wells were dug into the hard ground, but failure to locate water discouraged further drilling. Therefore, water had to be hauled into the new settlement from the South Canadian River daily, costing the residents fifty cents a barrel.

Some of the first businesses to open in 1902 were the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with rooms for $2 a day, the Monarch Saloon, as well as many others baudy taverns, a furniture store, a livery barn, a boarding house located at First and Turner Streets, several mercantile stores, and the Exchange Bank. Max Goldenberg's home was the first permanent home built in Tucumcari, which contained the post office.

The Elk Drug Store was established in 1906. It was owned by Drug Store Cowboy Herman Moncus, who collected a mammoth assortment of items more or less relating to the history of the area. He hung his collection from the ceiling of his drug store.

At this time New Mexico was one of the last territories available for settling. By 1907 arriving homesteaders had caused many small towns to crop up around Tucumcari. By 1910, the town had expanded to include several churches, a school system and over seventy businesses. Growth continued through the 1920s, brought on by railroad and ranching opportunities. When the depression hit in 1930, many of the smaller towns began to disappear, and the town's population began to dwindle.
Baca-Goodman House, Tucumcari
Primarily thriving from the railroad and area ranching opportunities, the town continued to prosper until the Great Depression era. At that time, most of the 20 some small towns that surrounded the city were abandoned and quickly reverted to cow pastures. With the development of Route 66 and the businesses it generated, Tucumcari survived the depression.

In 1940, when the South Canadian River was dammed, this created some 60,000 acres of irrigated farmland. What were once cow pastures soon became rich farmland, pulling Tucumcari out of its slump.
Blue Swallow Motel, famous Route 66 landmark in Tucumcari, NM


Legends of America, Tucumcari, New Mexico, http://www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-tucumcari.html

Ballinger Family History, Tucumcari, New Mexico - 1910-1920; http://history.fristad.net/ballenger/tucumcari_nm.shtml

Tucumcari, NM; Wikipedia

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. The first three novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine,  A Resurrected Heart, and Her Independent Spirit, are now available. He Is a Good Man was published as part of the Lariats, Letters and Lace anthology.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Brief Look at Ellie's Legacy by Ginger Simpson #historicalromance #southernhistory

Fall in Tennessee
 I live in beautiful Tennessee.  I was born and raised in California so relocating to a new state at this stage of my life was a shock to my system.  The biggest surprise: I grew to love it here.

Our first Snow Experience
 Unlike California, where the four seasons aren't as readily apparent, you can definitely see the differences here in the South.  Spring brings back leaves to all the barren trees and is probably my most most favorite time of the year.  By summer everything is lush and green, and the fireflies light up the night.  Come Fall, all those leaves turn bright reds, oranges and yellows before they disappear again, and the winter temps aren't so horrible that you freeze, but give the opportunity to dress in layers while enjoying the intermittent storms that roll through.  Moving to Sparta, TN was the impetus behind my historical novel, Sparta Rose.  I also discovered a new calling in life here...serving as a correctional officer at the local jail.  That experience provided fodder for another novel, but that's a story for another visit.  *smile*

A Genuine Log House

Tennessee is rich in history, and writing historical with an old west feel is my favorite genre, both reading and writing.  When we first moved here, we lived in a log house, on a hundred acres, on Bon Air Mountain. For someone who had worked and lived with conveniences close at hand, this was a real change.

The Rock House - Stage Stop
 The country area, filled with abandoned coal mines, a preserved stage stop displaying evidence of past lives, lots of old buildings, rivers named after Indian chiefs, and old timers who've been around for years, stirred me to find out more about my new home.

 Colorful characters I met gave personality to those in my novel, and with Roselle Fountain as my guide, Ellie's Legacy came to life.  I'd like to share the blurb and excerpt with you:


Ellie Fountain has a dilemma--Tyler Bishop, the handsome ranch foreman who's won favor with her Pa.  Ellie's determined to prove to them she can do anything a man can do, even if it means buying a gun and learning to shoot.
Her father's ranch, Fountainhead, is her legacy and she aims to protect it from the Bryants, the trio next door who are using bullying tactics to purchase all the land in the area. When she accepts Ty's 'forced' invitation to a local dance, she never expects to find herself kidnapped and held hostage in an old drafty shack hidden somewhere in the snowy Tennessee Mountains.  She shouldn't have left the dance in such a huff without telling someone.


Ellie led Chessie out of the stall and mounted. Ty walked alongside as she rode out of the barn. Hopefully he was wrong about the Bryant’s being in town because she planned to make this trip come hell or high water. One incident wasn’t about to keep her ranch-bound; if anything, it was the reason to go and buy that gun.
Once outside, she reined her horse and looked down at Ty. “Tell Pa I’ll be home before sundown.”
Ty peered up from under the dusty brim of his hat. “You best be.”
Those eyes pierced her very soul, until he opened his mouth and ruined it. She nudged her mount in the sides and left him standing in a cloud of swirling dirt. “Don’t tell me what to do, Tyler Bishop,” she yelled over her shoulder. “You aren’t my boss.”
A smile tugged at her lips. It pleased her to put him in his place and leave before he could utter a sound. Her smile blossomed into an actual giggle at the thought of him wheezing and sneezing in the wake of her departure.
The invigorating gallop created a cool breeze across Ellie’s face. She pushed thoughts of the gunshot from her mind, relaxed back against the saddle cantle and took a deep breath of fresh air. Her mare was so accustomed to the downhill trail to town there was no need for a heavy hand on the reins. The leather straps hung loosely alongside the mare’s neck while Ellie kept sync with Chessie’s movement.
Along the rim, Ellie admired the beauty of Calf Killer Valley, so named after a Cherokee chief whose tribe inhabited the area in the early 1800s. Ellie couldn’t recall ever seeing an Indian, but she tried to picture what the chief might have looked like.
Amid the sprawling fields of wheat, tobacco and rye, she imagined tepees and red-skinned people. Yet, most of them had Ty’s face and eyes.
She stopped daydreaming and focused on the type of sidearm to buy and tried to determine a good spot to practice, out of prying eyes. The area around the old mineshaft about five miles from the ranch came to mind. She’d have to pass the rock house where the stagecoach stopped, but the spot was well beyond there.
“Yep, that’s the place,” she muttered and spurred her mount faster, anxious to get to Sparta and make her purchase.
Chessie’s sure-footedness handled the oft-traveled trail with ease. The ruts left by countless wagon trains ran deep, marring the road taken by hundreds in search of a place to settle–many in Bon Air and others passing through and following the bigger Caney Fork River to surrounding areas.
Ellie’s thoughts strayed to the many coalmines hidden deep beyond the trees peppering the hillsides. Luckily, there was one that had played out and would serve her purpose just fine.
Lost in reverie, the usual hour trip seemed much shorter. Before she realized it, she was in town.
Ellie slowed Chessie to a walk, waved at Reverend Franklin as he left the church, and reined the mare to the hitching post in front of the mercantile. She dismounted, stood on the plank walkway and brushed the dust from her clothing before going inside.
The bells on the door jingled.
Percy McCord looked up from the counter, and flashed a huge smile.
His teeth reminded her of Chessie’s—long and yellowed. In addition to his horsy appearance, countless freckles dotted Percy’s pasty skin, and fire-red curls framed his face.
“Good day, Miz Roselle. You’re looking particularly lovely this fine day.”
“Thank you, Percy.” She smiled.
“What can I do for you?”
The way he rubbed his hands together when he spoke made Ellie uneasy, but she forced herself to return his smile. God forbid he mistook it for any type of interest in him. Despite his good manners, he repulsed her.
She walked to the counter. “I’d like to look at some of your sidearms please.”
One red brow arched. “Sidearms? Why Miz Roselle, what in the world are you going to do with a gun.”
“It’s a gift,” she lied. Her lips tightened into a thin line of impatience. She hated untruths. Why was everyone always in her business? First Ty, now Percy.
Percy moved to the weapons’ display case and gestured. “We have a large assortment. Will this be on your father’s account?”
“No, I’m sure I have enough money of my own.” She crossed her fingers and studied the guns in the new-fangled glass display.
“I’d like to hold that one.” She pointed to a shiny silver revolver.
Percy handed it to her. “It’s a beauty, just got it in this week. It’s one of those new Colts. A thirty-six caliber. But depending on who the gift is for, that big ol’ Colt might be a little too much. You might want to take a look at this new Smith & Wesson twenty-two caliber.” He gestured to another pistol.
Ellie eyed the blue plated weapon with rosewood grips and wrinkled her nose. “It looks so small in comparison.”
“Yes, but this one is a single action, seven shot model rather than the old cap and ball design. It’s much easier to load and fire.” Percy eyed her suspiciously, “Are you sure this ain’t for you Miz Ellie? If it is, I’m certain you’ll find the Smith more suitable to your abilities.”
A typical man’s attitude.
Her jaw tensed. When would people quit treating her like a child?
She held the revolver like an expert, measuring its weight and overall feel, but eyed the one to which he pointed, and then shook her head. The Colt was much more impressive. Its heavy weight wielded unbridled power in her hand. She turned and aimed toward the door just as it opened.
Ty Bishop.
“Whoa, don’t shoot,” Ty threw up his hands. His eyes widened. “Is that thing loaded?”
She quickly dropped the gun to her side, certain her face matched Percy’s hair. “No it isn’t, and what are you doing here?”
“A better question is what are you doin’ here. I thought…”
“I changed my mind, if that’s all right with you,” she snapped. “And why are you following me?”
“I’m not. Your pa sent me to pick up a few things he ordered.” With a huff, he turned his attention to the clerk. “Are they here, Percy?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Ty. Got those nails and rope in yesterday, same time as I got the new Colt Miz Ellie is holding.”
Ellie promptly laid the gun back on the counter. “I was just curious, that’s all.” She gave Percy a stern look then walked over to the yard goods.
“But…Miz Ellie, you asked…”
Ellie didn’t want him to spill the beans. “I came to look at material for a new dress, Percy. You must have misunderstood me.”
“But-but,” he stuttered. “You asked to see a sidearm.”
She forced a giggle and ignored the confusion on the clerk’s face. Ellie fluttered her eyelashes at him and waved a limp wrist in his direction. “Oh, Percy, you silly goose, why would I say that? I said I need some yardage—just a might longer than my arm. When you showed me the new guns, I didn’t want to appear rude.”
She averted her eyes from Ty and feigned interest in a piece of flowered material. “This will do nicely.”
Ellie carried the fabric to the counter and promptly paid. Without another word, she picked up her parcel and left.

Although Ellie's Legacy is not a new release, it remains one of my favorites.  The novel won the best 2009 Historical at Love Romance Cafe under it's original title, Sparta Rose, and has been a best seller for me.  If you'd like to read more, the book is available in both print and ebook on Amazon.   Even though Tennessee is not considered part of the old west because it's on the wrong side of the Mississippi River, some of history's most colorful characters and newsworthy events happened in the south.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Article by Sherry Monahan (Borrowed from True West magazine)

Whether frontier pioneers lived in a sod hut in Nebraska, an adobe in Arizona or a frame house in Texas, they all needed a way to cook and bake. Most of the time, they did so in a stove or a fireplace.

To prepare for the daily routine of cooking, a pioneer housewife or cook had to start the stove. Ah, but heat was not generated via the simple flip of a switch. In cooler months, cooks kept fires in the stove going throughout the night and stoked up the flames with new wood, which she chopped herself, or dried animal dung if wood was not plentiful. In warmer months, cooks allowed the wood in the stove to burn out and ignited a morning fire using kindling wood, newspapers or buffalo chips (dried buffalo dung).

Frontier stoves were generally made of cast iron. One side contained the area for burning wood, while the other was used as an oven. The surface was used as a stovetop, and some even had options for hot and cold water faucets. Most were equipped with a reservoir, which often held a few gallons of water at near boiling throughout the day.

Pioneer cooks had to learn how to regulate the heat in their stove. The stove did not have a numbered dial; a cook held her hand inside the oven to gauge the temperature: warm, hot, very hot. A flue helped to regulate the heat. A familiarity with antique stoves clarifies why old-fashioned cookbooks might state a recipe should be baked in a slow, moderate or hot oven.

Most people used their stoves to cook and bake, and sometimes to store their pots and pans, but one woman in Omaha, Nebraska, used hers for another purpose. Alice Nelson decided her range was a good place to store her stolen booty, reported Omaha’s The Herald, on December 29, 1888.

Because J.S. had not been bringing in enough money to satisfy his wife, Alice, she stole $65 from her landlady. Worried about Mrs. Jacobson becoming suspicious, Alice hid the money in her cold oven. Mrs. Jacobson searched her house for the money and, unable to locate it, called the police. Sergeant Hayes searched the house. He was smart enough to look in the oven.

“The only part of that article chilly enough to hold money was the oven,” the paper reported. “When he opened the door of the oven there lay the roll in its original completeness.”

The Nelsons were arrested, but only Alice was held on bail of $500. In the early part of 1889, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in the state penitentiary.

Alice should have stuck to making soufflés in her oven. A paper in Topeka, Kansas, offered a recipe in 1893 for soufflés that should be “eaten the moment it is out of the oven to be in perfection.” This potato soufflé is basically a 21st-century version of twice-baked potatoes.

Potato Soufflé
6 large baking potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk or cream, hot
2 egg whites
Bake potatoes until they are done. Allow to cool enough to handle, and then remove the ends of each one. Carefully scoop out the cooked potato without breaking the skins. Beat the egg whites until frothy and set aside. Mash the potatoes until lump free, then add the remaining ingredients. Stand potatoes on one end and put in the filling. Do no put tops on the potatoes. Allow to bake in 375°F for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are browned or swollen.

Recipe adapted from The Weekly Capital and Farm Journal, Topeka, Kansas, May 25, 1893

Sherry Monahan has penned The Cowboy’s Cookbook, Mrs. Earp: Wives & Lovers of the Earp Brothers; California Vines, Wines & Pioneers; Taste of Tombstone and The Wicked West. She has appeared on Fox News, History Channel and AHC.

Charlene Raddon has written five historical romance novels set in the American west. Originally published by Kensington Books in paperback, then electronically by Tirgearr Publishing, Charlene recently self-published her e-books on Amazon where they can be found now. She is also a cover designer and has her own site, http://silversagebookcovers.com.