Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tootsie & Matilda ~ By: Ruthie L Manier

Hello everyone and welcome to Cowboy Kisses Blog!

I’ve always loved the history of strong, smart, and interesting women from the past. A few of my favorites were Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Jane Austen and Annie Oakley. I wrote this blog on a couple of women I’ve always admired and I was lucky enough to meet Tootsie a few times. I love to drive Highway 20 up to Marblemount, Washington where the Clark’s Family Resort is located. It’s a beautiful location set in the foothills of the Majestic Cascade Mountain Range. if you’re looking for your next vacation destination and you like hiking, fishing, canoeing and camping then it’s the place for you to visit.

Tootsie & Matilda

Tootsie was the granddaughter of Matilda Clark Buller, one of the most influential women of the western frontier history arriving in the late nineteenth century. Tootsie followed close in her grandmother Matilda's footsteps as another dynamic woman who spread warmth where ever she went.  

Tootsie was born Madrene E Buller on February 15, 1922. She was the daughter of Richard and Ethel Buller of Marblemount, Washington, previously named Bullerville, Washington. She was nicknamed Tootsie by a friend of the family who nicknamed her Tootsie from the adds of Tootsie Roll.

Bullerville's name was changed when some miner's brought marble samples into Matilda's Hotel. She offered up to the town members that they should rename the town to Marblemount after the marble mountain just across the Skagit River. The other town members agreed and so it was done.

Matilda built the first hotel in the area by the Skagit River for Mr. Buller had told her that’s what was needed at the time. She was also the first postmaster in Marblemount. It took a while for a carrier to be assigned because before Highway 20 was built, one of the only ways to get there was by a steamboat and then a canoe.

Years went by and Tootsie was given the property of Clark's Cabins's. She worked hard to turn it into a place for workers in the mine's, and logger's in the community, before adding a restaurant that all the regular's in the community enjoyed not counting the tourists after the opening of Highway 20.

Tootsie would be at the pass every opening day,  greeting people after the long winter had passed and the snow had been cleared from highway 20, with her famous cinnamon rolls. Everyone loved Tootsie for her spunky personality and her generosity. The cinnamon rolls were just a bonus and famous to the community, and the entire Skagit Valley.

Tootsie liked to fib about her age always saying she was around ten years older then she really was. When asked why? she simply responded,  “I love the compliments I receive for looking so much younger.”

Sadly she passed away at 97, however her and her grandmother Matilda’s memory will live on forever as two of the most courages First women of the Wild Western Frontier.

I love to make my women characters strong the same as the women in history that I admire. Marissa Clark third book in my Tombstone Ghost Cowboy series is a story about a woman from the 19th century who time travels to the 21st century and witnesses something she likes, women’s equality. Returning to the past she campaigns to get the nineteenth amendment (women’s right to vote) Ratified.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water....

I know we are still all in quarantine, and about to go stir crazy, but let's have a laugh at what we've had to learn again - simple hand washing.
I know it sounds crazy but it's a skill that never dies.

Soap actually was rather an important commodity. Benjamin Franklin's sister had their family recipe and they considered it so important that they buried it when the British occupied their town. So what makes soap??? Making your own soap involves chemicals like Lye, fats (in pioneer times hog fat), and oils for smell.  They are mixed together with good, old water and glycerine. The one thing about homemade soap was the ingredients made it heavy. Soap sinks.

Now, keep that in mind when you are out on the trail for weeks, months at a time and find a stream. Gosh, darn your excited. You get your soap run to the water, disrobe behind a bush or go in with your inner wear, there by scrubbing it clean too. But if the soap goes through your fingers it may sure get away - never to be seen again, unless drought dries up the lake.

This is where an accident makes soap better.

In the year, 1840, a fellow by the name of J.B. Williams decided to make a soap free from a lot of the lye and other ingredients that might be harmful to your skin. Of course, he marketed it for shaving cream and sold it to a company by the name of Proctor and Gamble. It went by the name of Ivorine. The founder of Proctor and Gamble son, Harley Proctor, noted how gentle it was. It reminded him of a bible verse from Psalms 45:8
"All they garments smell of myth, and alones, and cassia out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made they glad."

I bet you know the name by now? So in 1879, Proctor and Gamble sold it's first Ivory Soap with the slogan "It Floats."

Yep, Ivory couldn't get lost in the water because it floats to the top. Rumor has it, a man mixing the air into the soap left the machine on. They came back later and thought it ruined only to find out, the accident made it better.

                                                    First Ivory soap ad for a newspaper

                                              1890 ad for Ivory now appealing to the ladies.

Now, about that bathwater..... Because taking a bath was labor intensive requiring the wife or servant to bring in the water, heat the water, carry it up to the bathing room or to the brass, tin, or wooden tub that served the purpose and filling to the desired height - it was always the husband ( aka bread winner) who got the first soak. Then, in pecking order the males, females, the wife, finally the baby - all in the same water. As you can imagine when it was the child's turn, it was cold and nasty. If you lost control of the little one because of slippery skin, you had to search for him or her in the water. Hence, never throw out the baby with the bath water.

Okay. I hope today's note in history at least made y'all smile. Hang tough my friends, we are all in this together. We're pioneers and made of study stock.

If you'd like to follow me, or check in on my crazy world at times, be sure to find me on facebook at

Until later,
Happy Trails

Nan O'Berry

Friday, April 24, 2020

Forts Ellsworth & Harker by Zina Abbott

One of the frustrating aspects of researching frontier forts is that there were often several military camps, cantonments, posts, and forts in the same general area, all with different names. If that were not confusing enough, when it came to Fort Ellsworth, there were two of them, and their existences overlapped.

The first Fort Ellsworth was constructed during the American Civil War in the weeks following the Union defeat at Bull Run. It was located west of Alexandria, Virginia and was part of the defenses of Washington D.C. It was in operation between 1861 and 1865.

The Fort Ellsworth this blog post focuses upon was Fort Ellsworth in Kansas. Built along the Smoky Hill River and Smoky Hill Trail, it served to protect the military road that ran from there to Fort Zarah located along the Santa Fe Trail near the big bend in the Arkansas River.

Fort Ellsworth by Mathew Brady

The camp occupied the same general site as a stagecoach station and a hunting and trading ranch. It was also the point where the Fort Riley-Fort Larned Road crossed the Smokey Hill River in the present Ellsworth County in Kansas.

Daniel Page and Joseph Lehman established the hunting camp and trading ranch in 1860. The men gathered wolf and buffalo hides for trade. In 1862 the ranch became a station for the Kansas Stage Company. The station kept and fed mules that were changed when stagecoaches came through. The station was raided by Confederate soldiers in September of that year. [I also suspect those were the same Confederate raiders that in September 1862 descended upon Salina less than fifty miles to the east and stole most of the livestock, food, tobacco, weapons, and destroyed any firearms that they did not wish to take with them.] 

Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis
In August 1864, Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, the department commander, established a military camp four miles southeast of the stage and hunting ranch site. The fort's mission was to protect the area settlers from hostile indians. Soldiers from the 7th Iowa Cavalry, under the command of 2nd Lt. Allen Ellsworth, set up the fort. They built a two-story blockhouse using logs already cut and hewn on two sides found at the abandoned Page-Lehman ranch. The blockhouse became the nucleus of the fort. Other than that, since the fort was intended to be temporary, it consisted of hastily-constructed dugouts and log structures, which served as quarters for the soldiers. Other structures included a commissary, an officers' mess, and a makeshift shelter for the horses. Based on the descriptions, all of these structures were made largely from materials on hand--logs, sod, and brush.  Maj. Gen. Curtis named the post Fort Ellsworth for Lt. Ellsworth.

The 7th Iowa Cavalry no sooner arrived at the site than on August 7, 1864, Indians drove off and captured about fifty of the post's horses—most of what they had—and five mules belonging to the Kansas Stage Company. For some time, the post had only two horses. Col. James H. Ford, who visited Fort Ellsworth in January 1865, noticed the post still only possessed nine horses. Ford, in charge of the district that included the post, ordered an additional company of cavalry to garrison it.

Even though some buildings were constructed by the end of the Civil War, the men still lived in primitive housing. M. Wisner wrote his company arrived in January 1865 and had to build dugouts with mud chimneys. He also noted these dugouts were comfortable in the severe cold weather.

Gen Winfield S. Hancock
New man in charge, new changes. General Orders No. 22 issued on November 17, 1866 by General Winfield S. Hancock, commander of the Division of the Missouri, changed the name of the post to Fort Harker. It was named after General Charles Garrison Harker, who was killed in action at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in the American Civil War.

In 1867, the original Fort Ellsworth site was abandoned when a new site about a mile--(1.6 km or 0.99 mi) to the northeast was chosen for Fort Harker. Fort Harker, located in Kanopolis, Kansas, was an active military installation from November 17, 1866 to October 5, 1872.  

Construction on the new fort may have begun before the official order. Records show Fort Ellsworth had a master carpenter, a master mason, five carpenters, and fourteen masons on staff as early as September 1866. Based on the number of civilian contractors on the fort's payroll, major construction of the facility was likely completed by the summer of 1867. In June 1867, orders were given to tear down the remainder of the buildings at old Fort Ellsworth. Fort Ellsworth was sold to land developers and became part of the town of Ellsworth, Kansas.


Soon after the completion of major construction, the railroad arrived at Fort Harker. The Union Pacific Eastern Division completed a line to Fort Harker in July 1867. The rail line ran through the fort, and a depot was established just outside the fort. Two large warehouses were built next to the line, which became the principal resupply route for the fort. By the end of 1867, the fort supported a four-company garrison, the supply depot and over 75 buildings.
Junior Officers' quarters
In the summer of 1867, an Asiatic cholera outbreak began amongst the soldiers of the four companies of the 38th Infantry stationed at the fort. The disease may have arrived with the men of the 38th, who traveled to the fort from St. Louis, Missouri where a cholera outbreak was also occurring. The first case of cholera at the fort was diagnosed on June 28. Within days, one civilian and one soldier had died from the disease, and the epidemic had spread to other soldiers and civilians at the fort, as well as settlers in the surrounding area. The post quartermaster reported that 58 citizens were buried during the month of June. The epidemic continued through the remainder of 1867, and by the end of the year the official report shows 392 cases with 24 deaths among the white troops and 500 cases with 22 deaths among the black troops stationed at or near the fort. 

Fort Harker

Although no battles were ever fought at the fort itself, troops stationed at Fort Harker were involved in the ongoing Indian Wars between the United States Army and the natives of the Great Plains. In 1867, the troops stationed at Fort Harker performed more escorts of wagon trains (possibly oxen-pulled freight trains) in one year than troops stationed at any other frontier fort in the post-Civil War era. 

Railroad bridge near Fort Harker
Once the railroad arrived at the fort in 1867, the need for escort patrols began to shift to the west. By 1868, the primary role of Fort Harker changed to that of a supply depot and troop staging site.

Fort Harker was a major distribution point for all military points farther west and was one of the most important military stations west of the Missouri River.

  • In the fall of 1868, General Philip Henry Sheridan moved his command headquarters from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Harker, from where he commanded the campaigns against the Native Americans in the winter of 1868-1869. 
  • On August 25, 1869, Brevet Colonel Joseph G. Tilford was sent to Fort Harker, where he commanded two troops of General George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry. After wintering at the fort, Tilford and the cavalry set out on a campaign in February 1870.
  •  In May 1870, General Custer and the remaining troops of the 7th Cavalry passed through Fort Harker on their way from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Hays to engage the Native Americans farther west.
According to an 1870 military report, both Fort Ellsworth and the later military post Fort Harker were established to furnish a point from which operations could be carried on against the Indians, who were very troublesome during this time in Kansas History.

By 1871, Fort Harker had declined in importance in the Indian Wars. Native Americans living in the area of the fort had been displaced by white settlers, and the scene of conflicts had shifted to the west. An expanding railroad network diminished the importance of the fort as a distribution point for supplies. In March 1872, the 15th Infantry stationed at Fort Harker redeployed to Fort Union. On April 5, the remaining companies of the 5th Infantry departed from the fort as well. Official orders to abandon Fort Harker were received on April 8, 1872. Soldiers of the 5th Cavalry left Fort Harker on May 7, leaving behind a small garrison of two officers and five enlisted men from the 5th Infantry. The base was completely abandoned by October 5, 1872.

Fort Harker was located at the site of the present-day town of Kanopolis. The Ellsworth County Historical Society maintains three of the original buildings of Fort Harker as a museum commemorating both Fort Ellsworth and Fort Harker. These include the guardhouse, Commanding Officer's Quarters, and Junior Officer's Quarters. The museum also features a train depot with salt mine and later 19th-early 20th Century exhibits.


I have two books so far in which Fort Ellsworth serves as part of the setting. In Hannah’s Handkerchief, book 24 in the Lockets & Lace series set in 1865, Jake Burdock often finds his quartermaster duties take him to Fort Ellsworth. Hannah’s Handkerchief is now available. To find the book description and purchase link, PLEASE CLICK HERE.


In Mail Order Roslyn, book 9 in the Widows, Brides & Secret Babies series set in 1866, my heroine finds herself and her baby in the Ellsworth Stage Station near the town and Fort Ellsworth. At that time, hostile tribes, particularly the Cheyenne, frequently attacked stagecoaches and stations in an attempt to capture livestock and either kill or drive away the white Americans invading their favored hunting grounds. This book is not on preorder, but is due to be published next week. Please look for it.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

WESTERN WIVES by Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless

One of the many reasons I find the Wild West fun to write about is the opportunity afforded women during the time.  With a ten-men-to-every-woman ratio in many of the territories, women were more concerned about suitability than availability.  As someone who lives on an island where there are eight women to every man, I prefer those odds of 150 years ago. 

Unlike the East, where a woman’s marriageability was more likely based on social standing, family background and financial prospects, in the West, things were different.  Even a woman of questionable background could marry a man of her choosing, and if it didn’t work out, divorce was relatively easy to obtain in most areas. 

In keeping with those times I’m having a lot of fun writing about mail-order brides in the multi-author project, Widows, Brides and Secret Babies.  This popular, sweet western series stretches me as an author and offers me the chance to work with a talented array of other writers. 

I’m excited for you to meet Olivia in June and Rachel in August. 

Snippet from MAIL ORDER OLIVIA.  
Using an assumed name, Oliva shows up as a mail-order bride to the man she once loved, and was told had died.  Copyright 2020 Kathleen Lawless.  All rights reserved. 

          As the train slowed to a stop Olivia rose, settled her wiggly daughter on one hip, and reached for her valise, which was light enough to lift with only hand.  Because she had left Philadelphia in a hurry, she had packed only the bare necessities for Chloe and herself.
          She waited as passengers jostled past her, impatient to disembark.  No need to wonder if she would recognize Robert; she would know him anywhere.  When she stepped from the train, she spotted him instantly on the far side of the platform, talking to a plump, dowdy-looking woman.
          Pushing aside her fears and uncertainty, she covered the ground between them and reached the pair just as the other woman fisted some money Robert handed her, and rushed off. 
          Olivia knew exactly what had happened.  Robert had changed his mind.   Again.  The same way he had when he left her high and dry in Philadelphia, in a family way.  That wouldn’t be happening a second time!
          “Robert!  Her tone was more shrill than she intended, but it got his attention.  As he turned toward her, a myriad of expressions crossed his face.  Surprise and delight quickly faded to wariness.  His steps were hesitant as he approached her.
          “Livie!  What are you doing here?”
          “Looking for you, obviously.”
          “I don’t understand!”  
          “Neither do I.”
          Olivia was vaguely aware that the platform had emptied around them as they stood, gazes locked. 
          “You look well,” he said finally.  “I see congratulations are in order.  Where’s Harry?”
          “Harry died a few weeks ago.  Stumbled blind drunk in front of a train.”  She stated the facts with no more emotion than she had felt at the time, except relief that Harry was out of her life.
          “I’m sorry to hear that.”  His gaze darkened with emotion, only to vanish as quickly as it appeared.  “If you came to me for comfort, you’ve come to the wrong place.”
          “Nothing of the sort.”  She had come to ensure she and Chloe remained safe. 

Pre-order Mail Order Olivia here.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086JFJ6YC

Check out the entire series here.   https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084WYL1QX

Sign up for Kathleen’s VIP Reader Group to receive a free book, updates, special giveaways and fan-priced offers.    http://eepurl.com/bV0sb1