Friday, May 26, 2017

Fort Smith, Arkansas

Soon after, the Pike Expedition (1806) explored the Arkansas River. Fort Smith was founded in 1817 as a military post. A stockade was built and occupied, from 1817 until 1822, by a small troop of regulars commanded by Major William Bradford. Around the fort a small settlement began forming, but the Army abandoned the first Fort Smith in 1824 and moved 80 miles further west to Fort Gibson. Army sutler and land speculator John Rogers bought up former government-owned lands and promoted growth of the new civilian town of Fort Smith, eventually influencing the federal government to re-establish a military presence at Fort Smith during the era of Indian Removal and the Mexican War.

Fort Smith's name comes from General Thomas Adams Smith (1781–1844), who commanded the United States Army Rifle Regiment in 1817, headquartered near St. Louis. General Smith had ordered Army topographical engineer Stephen H. Long (1784–1864) to find a suitable site on the Arkansas River for a fort. General Smith never visited the town or forts that bore his name.

Built on the eastern edge of Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma, in 1838 Congress authorized the enlargement of the military post at Fort Smith. John Rogers sold the United States 306 acres adjoining the site of the first Fort Smith for $15,000. Due to the Indian removal primarily from the eastern states now known as the “Trail of Tears,” western Arkansas was one of the busiest places on America's southwestern frontier during the late 1830s. A new military post was under construction and a bustling town named Fort Smith was emerging on its perimeter.
Old Fort Smith ca. 1852
During the Civil War, the North met the South here with devastating results.  
Units stationed at Fort Smith
The fort was occupied by the Confederate Army during the early years of the Civil War. Union troops under General Steele took control of Fort Smith on September 1, 1863. A small battle occurred there on July 31, 1864, but the Union army maintained command in the area until the war ended in 1865.

Courtesy of Bill and Ann England / Men gather in front of Devany's shoe store on Garrison Avenue on a day in September 1867. The buildings behind them were on the northwest corner of the intersection of Garrison and North Sixth Street Notice the fiddler seated in the covered wagon and the animal on top of the cover.
Postcard of early Garrison Street, Fort Smith
The town of Fort Smith became a haven for runaway slaves, orphans, Southern Unionists, and other victims of the guerrilla warfare then raging in the Border States. Federal troops abandoned the post of Fort Smith for the last time in 1871. The town continued to thrive despite the absence of federal troops.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Company maintained a division center at Fort Smith, a junction point for its southbound coaches from Tipton, Missouri, and its west bound coaches from Memphis, Tennessee.
Butterfield Overland Route Map
Fort Smith has many sites commemorating and preserving Trail of Tears, Civil War and Butterfield Overland Mail Company route history that are now part of the Arkansas Heritage Trails System.

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels.
Please visit the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.


Fort Smith, Arkansas Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Gunslingers’ Good Fellow

It interests me that the profession of doctor and the profession of gunslinger should both be so dependent on dexterity—and hand/eye coordination—yet one takes life and the other saves it. But it fascinates me even more that the most famous gunfight in the history of the Old West should have taken place at a time when one of the greatest doctors in the nation, a specialist in gunshot wounds whose methods are still employed today, should have been practicing in Tombstone, AZ.
George Goodfellow, photo by C.S.Fly, Tombstone
George Emory Goodfellow was born a westerner although educated back east. Son of a miner—eventually a mining engineer and mining executive—Goodfellow was sent off to boarding school at the age of twelve but returned to California to attend military academy.  His future was certainly oriented toward a career in the armed services, and he briefly attended Annapolis before being expelled for fighting with the first African American cadet. Having a wide range of interests, Goodfellow sought out his cousin, a doctor, and studied with him before going on to medical school in Ohio. Returning west, he eventually settled in Arizona Territory, initially working in Prescott with the Army before relocating in 1880 to the flourishing mining town of…Tombstone.
If you’re envisaging a kindly country doctor along the lines of Doc Adams in ‘Gunsmoke,’ think again.  The hard-drinking gambler, Goodfellow had been boxing champion at Annapolis and had a penchant for getting into fights, both with his fists and with a gun. Furthermore, he was quite the Renaissance Man with numerous and varied interests. Aged just twenty-five, he opened his office on the second floor of the Crystal Palace Saloon and settled down for his place in history. While many of his cases involved mining accidents, there was mounting practice in gunshot wounds. Making advancements in this area, he would eventually write articles that appeared in learned journals propounding that gunshots from .44 or .45 caliber into the abdomen were almost always fatal, as opposed to .32 calibre and lower. In those cases, he deduced, the main danger would be from either fecal or urinary matter causing infection. The higher calibire shot would rest in the abdominal cavity, thereby causing the victim to bleed to death unless a laparotomy was performed almost immediately. His treatise on this subject, ‘Cases of Gunshot Wound in the Abdomen Treated by Operation’ eventually appeared in the May, 1889, edition of The Southern California Practitioner.  Goodfellow, who believed in Lister’s practice of antisepsis surgery and Germ Theory, actually performed the first laparotomy on a miner shot outside of Tombstone. This procedure is still in use today. He also observed a shoot-out that took place at close range, and discovered the bullet that entered one of the contenders was still wrapped in a silk handkerchief from the man’s pocket.  Studying this closely, he wrote, ‘Notes on the Impenetrability of Silk to Bullets,’ also for the Southern California Practitioner. He advised that bullet-proof vests could be manufactured from silk, and made the first one of eighteen layers of silk. By the end of the century, such vests were in production.
So, by the time October, 1881, rolled around and there took place something now called Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, it was extremely opportune that George Goodfellow was on call. Goodfellow tended to the wounded on both sides of the argument. Unable to help cowboy Billy Clanton with six bullets in him, he removed the boy’s boots because Billy had promised his mother to die with his boots off. Goodfellow's testimony at the Earps’ and Doc Holliday’s trial played a large part in having the case against them dismissed as self-defense; he testified that the position of Billy Claiborne’s arm could not have been raised in the air.
Two months later, Virgil Earp was ambushed as he walked from the Oriental Saloon, hitting him in the arm with buckshot. It was Goodfellow’s belief that the arm should be amputated but Virgil refused.  Operating at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Goodfellow removed approximately four inches of the shattered humerus bone, saving the arm but leaving it crippled. Still, Virgil had his gun arm and was later able to serve as a US Marshal. His brother Morgan was not so lucky. Shot in the back while playing billiards, he died within the hour. As County Coroner, Goodfellow performed Morgan’s autopsy.
But while he was known as ‘The Gunslingers’ Surgeon,’ Goodfellow’s advances in medicine did not stop with gunshot wounds, nor was medicine his only field of expertise.  In the coming years, he performed the first successful prostatectomy and was among the first surgeons to use spinal anesthesia. He performed reconstructive face surgery, and also advocated the dry air of the desert as a treatment for tuberculosis, facilitating the large number of sanatoriums that would soon appear in Arizona.
Outside of medicine, in 1886, Goodfellow rode with the US Army to recapture
Geronimo who had escaped from the San Carlos reservation. He eventually befriended the man. In 1887, he made two trips to aid survivors of the Sonoran earthquake and to study the effects of the quake. He reported his findings in the US scientific journal, Science, and for his work, the Mexican President awarded him the gift of a horse.
Goodfellow on his gift horse
He proved, in 1891, that the bite of a Gila Monster was not necessarily fatal and published his findings in Scientific American. And having become personal physician to General Shafter during the Spanish-American War, he is credited with helping in negotiations for the peace settlement, due to his knowledge of Spanish.
Goodfellow’s later career had him setting up practice in Tucson prior to moving to San Francisco.  Sadly, the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed his manuscripts and patient records, and Goodfellow was forced to take a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad in Mexico as their chief surgeon.  He subsequently returned in 1910 to his sister’s home in Los Angeles, where he died aged fifty-five.
George Goodfellow, the ‘Gunslinger’s Surgeon,’ is credited with being the first trauma specialist.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Who Was the First Woman to Write a Western Romance?

by Heather Blanton

A simple question on the surface, I thought a quick Google would give me the answer. Turns out, a few females claim the honor. So after a little more serious digging, I came up with Mary Hallock Foote and her first novel, Led-Horse Claim: A Romance of a Mining Camp published in 1883.

Turns out, Mary was quite an interesting gal. Born in 1847 in New York to Quaker parents, she attended school at the very proper Female Collegiate Seminary in Poughkeepsie. Her gift for the creative arts convinced her father (clearly a forward-thinking man) to invest more in his daughter’s education. He sent her to Cooper School of Design for Women, and by her early twenties, Mary was a sought-after illustrator and designer for some of the most notable publishers in New York City. She loved her job. She loved the city. But she loved a man more.

In 1876, she married Arthur De Wint Foote, a young mining engineer whose career would take her deep into the wild-and-wooly Western frontier. Mary saw it all. From Deadwood to Leadville, from Idaho to Mexico.

Impressed, sometimes astonished, at the characters populating these rowdy mining towns, Mary wrote and illustrated dozens of articles for readers “back East.” She quickly gained the reputation for being one of the sharpest observers of, and most civilizing influences on, the bawdy mining, and ditch (irrigation) towns out west. According to an article in the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, “The Victorian gentlewoman traveled the American West dressed in hoop skirt and petticoats, insisting that her children be educated by an English nanny and fed by a Chinese cook, so that she could work on her illustrations and stories, without interruption.

What this quote doesn’t tell you is that Mary didn’t have time to raise the children because she had to help put bread on the table. Her husband’s career as a surveyor and civil engineer was difficult, at best, due to his unswerving honesty. Apparently, fudging numbers was expected in the mining industry, but Arthur didn’t play along. Hence, the continual moves from one town to the next. But Mary wrote about it all and her short stories and serials gained in popularity. They were published alongside the likes of Rudyard Kipling. Her articles and observations of life in the Wild West were met with lavish reviews, especially by those who could recognize the ring of authenticity—because they lived it.

Mary’s stories leaned more toward Western romance, though, as opposed to Owen Wister-style shoot-outs and brawls. She wrote fifteen novels in all. However, her husband eventually landed a job managing a mine in California and as his salary increased, Mary’s hectic writing pace decreased. Her last book was published in 1919. She didn’t seem to miss writing.

Mary and Arthur were married nearly sixty years. She, ever hardy and determined, lived until the ripe old age of 90. Unfortunately, while her life was long, her fame was not. It is nearly impossible to find the complete collection of Mary’s works now, even on Amazon. What a loss for the Western Romance genre.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Marketing a Million Readers

I recently attended the Romantic Times Reader Writer Con in Atlanta and discovered one very important truth. I had no idea what a hook was! As a historical writer, I always assumed I would take key points from the history surrounding my characters to try and hook my readers. People who enjoy westerns and historical fiction are my main readership after all.


Thus the error in my thinking. In order to catch new readers or people who don’t yet know they may be interested in my books, the average person, you have to be able to get to them on their level, in their everyday lives, at least if you want to reach that million reader mark.  I have always heard people say that you have to sell yourself as much as you sell your book, and I thought this meant I had to sell my ideas or thoughts on my own books. While in one media marketing workshop I learned, however, it is not me I am selling as much as my expertise. Not only am I selling my expertise, but I am selling base knowledge that relates to the topics covered in my book.

Destiny’s Purpose ( for example, introduces a series of book about the black cowboys that came out of the Mexico Texas Border. It covers the untold border wars that went on between the bounty hunters and the escaped slaves in that region. These books span the pre, post, and civil war era. Thus, most of my articles and blogs covered that time frame and those topics.

One media expert asked me what my books were about. When I told her she astonished me with her response. She told me the books I wrote were a very hot topic at the moment. I didn’t follow her reasoning until she said my own words back to me. Border Wars: The Untold History. With the controversy going on in the United States over the Borders, my topic could be made very relevant.

BorderWarsTitleCard (1).jpg

My understanding of a hook has always been that you must use your book itself to hook the audience. I have used the most exciting lines or scenes in my books to try to hook my audience. This method is fine if your reader has time to really go through and read or listen to more than a thirty second description. The average person is not going to take more than 13 seconds to really read or listen before their attention wanders. The marketing experts at the conference also encouraged us to think outside of the box about your topic.

If you are writing a story about a librarian who discovers her mother has cancer, and both mother and daughter hav
e to meander through the tragedy together, the first thing you might think of is covering cancer or even cancer survivor stories as your hook. On average, however, any one news outlet might receive six hundred stories on cancer survivors. Not to demean the event, but it is a story that is covered a lot. How about Children Coping with Parental Cancer, or Bald is the new Beautiful. It hovers on your story but presents it in a new and interesting perspective. Your hook should be different than what other people most commonly cover.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nothing Else Like It

Building the transcontinental railroad was an unprecedented feat of engineering, extraordinary vision, and raw courage. The railroad was the hope and dream of Abraham Lincoln, but he would not live to see its completion. Investors risked their businesses and money; a few politicians understood its importance; engineers and surveyors risked and some lost their lives; Irish and Chinese immigrants, many of the defeated Confederate soldiers, and other laborers did the backbreaking and dangerous work of laying track. The transcontinental railroad was a huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat. Upon its completion, there was nothing else like it in the world. 

Two companies were pitted against one another to create a railroad that is still used routinely today. The Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads competed with one another for funding. Speed was tantamount and caution was thrown to the wind. Most of the building of this railroad line was done by hand—from excavating dirt, cutting through ridges, fillings gorges, and blasting tunnels through the mountains.

The workforce approached the size of the Civil War armies at its peak. As many as fifteen thousand workers toiled on each line. For the Union Pacific, most of those workers were Irish. On the Central Pacific, Chinese immigrants filled the ranks.

Work began in 1863 and as the tracks were set, tent cities rose. Some of those “towns” faded into oblivion as the rails continued away across the landscape. Others became cities in their own right—places like Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins Springs, Green River…and in 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, the last spike was driven, completing the ribbons of iron that would join a nation from one coast to another.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Whiskey, Beer, and a New Series by Paty Jager

I’m ready to start my new historical western romance series. The idea has been brewing since the first of the year. I’ve been researching, asking readers questions, and now I’m am ready to start writing the first book in the series. 

The series is called Ladies of the Silver Dollar Saloon. Guess where a lot of each story will take place? Yep! In the Silver Dollar Saloon in Shady Gulch, Dakota Territory. I wanted the town on a railroad, and I discovered that the Great Northern Railway ran from Duluth to Bismarck in 1873 and continued on in 1881. 

Shady Gulch is a made-up place, but I’m using towns along the railroad route to formulate my own.  I didn’t want to worry about keeping things exact to an already established town. This way I have some leeway. But I’m making sure I have historical facts and figures in the stories along with fun characters. 

The free land act gave a person 21 or older 160 acres of farm ground. They had to prove up 10 acres for 5 years and it was theirs. Many people of different nationalities came to the Dakota Territory to start a new life. Some made it and others left when harsh weather kept them from being able to prove the land. Wheat was the biggest cash crop. It sold for $1 a bushel in the early 1880’s. And with the railroad, they didn’t have to haul it by wagon hundreds of miles away.

My research on the Dakota Territory has given me even more ideas for the stories and heroes the Ladies of the Silver Dollar Saloon will meet and marry. With the cattle ranchers, railroad men, farmers, schools, newspapers, and so many different cultures converging in the area and along the railroad route, the ideas just keep pinging around in my head. 

I’ve also been researching saloons in the time period of my story. They sold whiskey and beer. Whiskey at most saloons would be watered down to make the saloon more money. In some places they sold whisky colored camphine, fusel oil, and oil of turpentine.  This was why many who drank to excess ruined their stomachs and died.  It was also noted they would mix creek water with any or all of these ingredients to make a drink that was hot, acrid, and bitter, giving it the illusion of strength:
Tartaric, citric, and sulfuric acids, fusel oil, ammonia, black bone meal, gunpowder, molasses, oak bark, oatmeal, cayenne pepper, tobacco, snake root, nitre, juniper berries, creosote, and turpentine.

No wonder whisky got the nickname “Rotgut”. 

The Scotch-Irish have been credited with being the creators of whiskey in America. They used rye, corn, barley, and potatoes to make the whiskey.  “Western Whiskey” which originated in the wild untamed west had three varieties: rye, bourbon, and corn whiskey. Corn whiskey, of course, was made from corn with a bit of barley malt to help it ferment.  Whiskey was made in barrels which made it easier and more profitable to transport than the commodities it was made from.  Bourbon has been said to have been accidentally invented by the Reverend Elijah Craig in 1789. He scoured the inside of empty barrels with glowing ashes to clean and ready them for whiskey. He then forgot several barrels that were hid in a dark corner, and when they were found and opened they had aged, mellowed, and had a full-bodied spirit. 

Beer was the other drink sold at saloons.  It appeared early in the West. There was a brewery in California in 1837 when it was still under Mexican rule. The first regular brewery opened in San Francisco in 1850. German Union troops had a “lagerbeer wagon” follow them in the Civil War. By 1880 breweries were in mining camps and larger cities.  

Most saloons sold both beer and whiskey but there were some that sold on beer. A large or “big ‘uns” was 10 cents and a “little ‘uns” was a nickel. 

The Silver Dollar in my series will have both whiskey and beer and because my saloon owner will also be a hero in one of the books and I have him portrayed as a good guy, he’ll sell only real whiskey but will also have a watered down bottle for the drunks who should be home taking care of their families. 

The first book of this series: Savannah and Larkin will be available in August. 

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 30+ novels, a dozen novellas, and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award, EPPIE, Lorie, and RONE Award. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what readers have to say about the Letters of Fate series- “...filled with romance, adventure and twists and turns.” “What a refreshing and well written love story of fate and hope!”

 Photo source: © Can Stock Photo / surpasspro