Sunday, August 27, 2023

School in The Old West!

Schools in the Wild West during the 1800s were vastly different from the modern educational institutions we are familiar with today. In an era characterized by rugged frontier life and limited resources, education was often a challenging endeavor. Despite the harsh conditions, communities in the Wild West recognized the importance of education for their children's future and made efforts to establish schools. One-room schoolhouses were the norm in the Wild West during the 1800s. These small, simple structures served as a central hub for education in rural areas. The schoolhouse usually consisted of a single large room where students of all ages and grades were taught together by a single teacher. Due to the scarcity of resources and the need for efficiency, students had to share textbooks, and the curriculum was often limited to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Teachers in the Wild West faced numerous challenges. They were typically young, unmarried women who were recruited from the local community or brought in from the East. These teachers were responsible for instructing students of varying ages and abilities, maintaining discipline, and managing the schoolhouse. They often faced long hours, low pay, and limited resources, but their dedication to education played a crucial role in shaping the minds of the next generation. In addition to the academic curriculum, schools in the Wild West also provided social and community functions. Schoolhouses served as gathering places for community events, church services, and even elections. They were essential in fostering a sense of community and providing a platform for social interaction in remote areas. Despite the challenges and limitations, schools in the Wild West during the 1800s laid the foundation for education in the region. They symbolized the community's commitment to progress and the belief in the transformative power of education. Today, they serve as a reminder of the resilience and determination of those who sought to provide educational opportunities in even the most challenging of circumstances.
I will be back next month! Until then stay safe, and be kind to all you meet! xoxoxo

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Chinese Camp by Zina Abbott

For the next two months, my writing takes me back to Tuolumne County in the Mother Lode foothills of California. Although my next book it set in Sonora, California, today’s post is about a town that in the 1850s through the 1880s, attracted a large population, including many Chinese. It was because of the Chinese that it became known as Chinese Camp.

Here is the wording of the historical marker for Chinese Camp:

Mark Twain Bret Harte Trail
Chinese Camp

Reportedly founded about 1849 by group of Englishmen who employed Chinese as miners. Much surface gold found on hills and flats. Headquarters for stage lines in early 1850's, and for several California Chinese mining companies. First Chinese tong war in state fought near here between Sam Yap and Yan Woo tongs. Present stone and brick post office built 1854, still standing. St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church built in 1855, restored 1949. First pastor, Father Henry Aleric.

Historical Landmark No. 423

Tablet placed by California Centennials Commission
Base provided by Tuolumne County Council No. 2165, Knights of Columbus
Dedicated June 18, 1949

With only about 146 inhabitants counted on the 2000 U.S. Census, Chinese Camp is now mostly a ghost town. It is best known for its Tong war, which took place on September 26, 1856, in the meadow opposite Crimea House at the junction of the Mound Springs Road with the modern road to La Grange. 

It is reputed to have involved possibly over 2,000 Chinese fighting for rival tongs (Chinese societies), the  Sam Yap and Yan Woo tongs. The dispute arose between two companies of Chinese who were mining at Two Mile Bar on the Stanislaus River; one company having rolled a boulder onto the claim of the other company and refused to move it. Very few men were involved at the outset but it ended with over a thousand. One account says 1200 on one side and 900 on the other. The battle ended when four men were killed. At that point, one of the tongs retreated.

The town was first known as Camp Washington or “WashingtonVille.” When a nearby Camp called Camp Salvado forced the Chinese miners out, many of them ended up settling in Camp Washington, which was over the mountain down the road. As the Chinese were driven out of surrounding mining camps, they gradually congregated at Camp Washington. It was soon known as Chinese Camp.

In spite of being known for its large Chinese population, Chinese Camp was equally the home of Americans and European immigrants. At one time, the town boasted a population of about 5,000 people—mostly men, and probably more Chinese than those of European descent. The Chinese lived along Main Street to the west. The Americans and others lived to the east. The buildings in the Chinese section are now gone. The buildings that remain are mostly the ruins of the Caucasian section of town.

The two groups did interact, since each group had goods and services sought by the other. For one thing, at one time there were seven herbal Chinese doctors. Several Chinese also grew produce, which they sold throughout the town. The Chinese bought American goods brought in my freight wagons.

The Chinese made industrious residents of the settlement, kept to themselves, and took care of their own indigent—if any. The white merchants appreciated them as customers, for, although frugal, they were scrupulously honest.

As Chinese Camp grew and gathered the trade of outlying mining communities and ranches, roads became of paramount importance—wagon roads to replace pack trails. By 1853 conditions had improved to the extent that stages now passed between Chinese Camp and Sonora every two or three hours.

Washington Street, which reflects the town’s original name, was the first prominent street. However, businesses and many residences built along Main Street, which may be reached from Highway 120.

 The post office building, made of stone with a brick front, is still in good repair. The heavy iron shutters are old and are the authentic insignia of the early mining town where the threat and the fear of fire was always present, especially during the dry season. It was at one time the Thomas McAdam’s store.

The following is a marker attached to the front of the old Post Office building:

To honor Eddie Webb

Born December 17, 1880, in Snelling, Calif. One of the last of the stage drivers, Eddie made the haul from Chinese to the Coulterville, Groveland areas between 1898-1902 and drove the first mail stage over the “new” Shawmut Road.

Dedicated by Matica Chapter , No. 1849

E Clampus Vitus – May 6. 1961


Nearly opposite the post office is a lonely stone wall which marks the property of the early Wells, Fargo & Company’s office run by Solinsky and Sol Miller. It was in operation as early as 1857. East of the remaining wall of the Wells, Fargo & Company’s Building is the tiny passageway known as Solinsky Alley, connecting Main Street with Washington.


One building that dates back to 1855 (another source claims 1854) is the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. The building was restored in 1949. Near the building are several headstones that serve as witnesses that a large Italian population had lived nearby.

An 1860 diary claimed that Chinese Camp was the metropolis for the mining district, with many urban comforts.

The placer gold seemed to last longer in Chinese Camp than it did in surrounding areas. The active years for the town were from the 1850s through 1870. An 1899 mining bulletin listed the total gold production of the area as near 2.5 million dollars.

As the gold ran out and people moved elsewhere to earn a living, the town gradually diminished in size. With the development of roads and stagecoach service, many began to travel to Jamestown and Sonora for a greater selection of goods and services. A terrible fire in the 1890s sounded the death knell for Chinese Camp. By then, the town population was severally depleted.  Except for some ranching operations surrounding the community, the prospects for the future were limited. Most people moved away rather than rebuild.

You may find more details on Chinese Camp by clicking HERE.


My next book, which will be released on September 18, 2023, is titled A Watchman for Willow, part of the Mail Order Papa series. Set in Sonora, it features the Tuolumne County seat and the only incorporated city in Tuolumne County. 

To find the book description and pre-order link, 






Monday, August 21, 2023

Take Off Your Pants!!!

 Pantsing or Plotting? 

I am a total write by the seat of my pants kind of author. I never know what is going to happen in a book as I'm writing. I go into it with a basic idea then my characters take over.

Lately I have been struggling. My characters aren't talking to me and I'm in a writing slump.

I recently listened to Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker on audible. It was a great book to listen to and it was very informative. I also have been reading Save the Cat by Jessica Brody. Hoping to understand story structure and outlining.

Outlining has always overwhelmed me for some reason. I don't know why. One would think it would be easy and helpful. I've talked to lots of authors that use Scrivener and Plottr to help them outline. I will try both to see if it helps me get organized.

I'm hoping that this shift in writing methods will help me get out of my writing slump.

What is your writing method?

Sunday, August 20, 2023

From Pottery to heirlooms, every woman needed a Trousseau

 The word Trousseau is a collection of linen, pottery, jewelry, pots, pans, and heirlooms boxed away for a maiden's marriage. Often it was the box itself that was called the Trousseau. These boxes held all the hopes and dreams of a young lady as she packed away needed things to bring her new home alive.

In 1877, it was deemed practical for a maiden to have a dozen of everything including linens, quilts, pillowcases, sheets, toweling, table linen, handkerchiefs, painted fans, gloves, slips, pantaloons, corsets, hoops, stockings, and shoes. She might squirrel away jewelry given by her parents and her intended. Along with a years worth of clothing. These items took years to accumulate. Their storage in trunks and decorative boxes are what we call today's hope chests. 

Items embroidered such as pillows, tapestries, pillowcases, and handkerchiefs would be created by hand. Every woman learned to embroider, quilt, and sew. It was considered a helpful skill to elevate her husband in society. He and his family might show off the items the wife would bring to the marriage. Some ladies would place delicate silk embroidery of initials or slogans on intimate apparel, or place their husband's initials on shirts. Before the wedding these items might be placed in the parlor for guest to inspect and marvel at before the wedding. 

If a woman was traveling, she would have to pack the belongs in as few boxes or trunks as possible because of cost. Items might have to be shipped later and there was always worry over robberies. In her small carpet bag, a maiden might carry her jewels and intimate apparel for the wedding night. Thus if a train robbery happened, these items might be over looked of given back out of compassion. Other items such as pottery and kitchen supplies would be boxed and secured from breakage by straw, then placed between quilts for extra protection. A smaller trunk would hold the clothing, shoes, and if a mail order bride - the dress itself along with the letters of correspondence.

A lot depended on bride to be. She often was meeting her intended for the first time. Often never seeing a picture of them. With no family, she was dependent on the grooms family to help her prepare for the event. Imagine the fear if indeed, this groom had embellished his own description or wealth.


In the series, Pioneer Brides of Rattlesnake Ridge, these ideas might just bear fruit as a group of authors and myself explore mail order brides in the American West. 

Until next time, 


Thursday, August 17, 2023

William H. Bonney


 Billy the Kid, also known as William H. Bonney, is an iconic figure in American history, renowned for his life as an outlaw during the Wild West era of the late1800s. Born in 1859,his early life was shrouded in mystery and often obscured by conflicting accounts. He gained notoriety as a teenage outlaw, participating in a string of criminal activities, including cattle rustling and gunfights, which propelled him into the annals of Western folklore

One of the most significant chapters in Billy the Kid's life was his involvement in the Lincoln County War, a feud between rival factions vying for economic and political control in New Mexico during the 1870s. Amid this conflict, Billy became associated with the Regulators, a group seeking to oppose the oppressive practices of the established authority.His charismatic demeanor and skill with firearms solidified his reputation as both a feared gunslinger and a symbol of resistance against injustice. The Kid's exploits reach a climax when he allegedly killed several men, both lawmen and adversaries, earning him a reputation as a ruthless and cunning outlaw. 

Ultimately, Billy the Kid's life was cut short at the age of twenty-one when he was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881. Despite his relatively short existence, his legend persists through dime store novels, folk songs, and later, in popular culture through movies and books. The Kid's complex character, mixing elements of heroism and lawlessness, continues to captivate historians and enthusiasts,  reflecting the enduring allure of the Wild West and its enigmatic characters. 



Monday, August 14, 2023

Cowboy Up! by Jan Scarbrough

When I wrote Kentucky Cowboy, I researched the Professional Bull Riders and became a fan. Several years ago, my husband and I attended the Bass Pro Chute Out, in Louisville, KY, at the KFC Yum! Center.


Instead of a basketball court or the stage where Fleetwood Mac performed a few nights earlier, the floor was covered with dirt, chutes, pyrotechnics, determined cowboys and even more determined bulls. A bovine aroma permeated the arena and hard rock and country music blared loudly.


It was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Seriously. We saw Bushwacker, the 2011 World Champion Bull, buck one of the top riders in the world off his back. The bull scored 48.25 points out of 50. Asteroid, another contender for champion bull, bucked off a top rider.


Bulls won most of the time, but cowboys scored a few 8 second rides. There were only nine qualified rides in each of the two long rounds ― a total of 18-for-70 ― and one in the final round.


Tennessee native Cody Nance earned his first Built Ford Tough Series win of 2013. Nance rode Rock & Roll for 86.5 points and was the lone rider to cover all three bulls at the KFC Yum! Center.

Here’s an excerpt From Kentucky Cowboy 


This was the championship round. After seven rounds in a period of two weeks, he and a Brazilian cowboy were stalemated. Either one could win the finals with a high score. But to win it all, the world title and the million bucks, all Judd had to do was stick on the back of the last bull for eight seconds. His score didn’t matter.


He had drawn Bad to the Bone.


Sweat coated his upper lip. It would be the longest eight seconds in his life. He had put himself in a fix by getting bucked off twice in the first seven rounds. He had lost focus. Forgot to concentrate. Now everything was riding on his final effort. His effort, his injuries this past year, and the accumulation of so many points over the whole season would mean nothing if he didn’t ride this ornery bull one more time.


“You’re up, Romeo.”


Judd jerked a quick nod. He didn’t say a word, just jammed the mouthpiece into his mouth and climbed into the chute. The cowbell tied to the end of the bull rope clanged almost like a warning signal.


As he had done every regular-season event and championship for ten years, Judd pulled the slack out of the rope around the bull’s midsection. Next he wrapped the rope underneath his gloved right hand and across his palm. Closing his fingers, he made a fist. With his free hand he pounded his fist—once, twice.


Blinking, he shut out the past. The future. Only the present counted. Eight seconds. His heart slammed into his throat.


Judd nodded to the gateman. The gate swung open and Bad to the Bone blasted out of the chute in three powerful jumps. The bull turned back to the right, spinning, his power building, the motion throwing Judd off balance.


Judd pitched to the right, jerked out of position, slipping. No! I’m gonna ride this sucker. The muscles in his right arm burned from the strain. His jaws cramped.


Where’s that damn buzzer?


He tipped farther to the right, not really riding any longer, just hanging on. Inches from the dirt, Judd smelled defeat. He squeezed the bull rope, holding on with raw determination and fiery gut.


The buzzer sounded.


Judd released his grip and fell hard. He scrambled to his feet, the roar of approval in his ears. Thanks to the bullfighter, the bull veered away to the right. Judd sailed his cowboy hat into the air. It hadn’t been pretty, but he had stuck it. He’d won! His head buzzed as the sweet reality hit home.

I used my first hand research in two other western romances: Brody and Mercer, both of the Dawsons of Montana series.


Friday, August 11, 2023

This I Remember

My great grandfather on my father's mother's side accomplished a lot in his life. He was born in 1875 and died in 1975, at 99 1/2 years old, and his mind was sharp till the end. 

I am lucky that my mother and my cousin took time to interview Papa and make a book of his memories. Below are some excerpts.

The following excerpts are from This I Remember - the first 18 years, 1875-1893.

"A woman had only one dress a year that she called her nice Sunday dress, and she wore it on all occasions when visiting and going to church. She would wear the same hat for three or four years. Commercial face powder was unknown, and women used flour for face powder. Lipstick and nail polish were unknown to a country woman. A beauty parlor was unknown. Country people did not have bought toothbrushes, toothpowder, toothpaste, hair oil, or hair tonic.

"Women wore dresses instead of shorts. A woman would not let her dress skirt come above the top of her shoes. It took 10 yards of cloth to make her a dress, and the cloth cost 5 cents per yard. Both men and women wore shoes instead of slippers. A woman was considered an outcast if she was caught around a saloon.

"Children walked as far as 3 miles to school.

"Father only called the children one time to get up in the morning.

"Father and Mother would tell you what to do instead of you telling them what you intend to do.

"The price of a good milchcow was $25.00.

"All wells were dug by hand and walled up with posts.

"A rail fence was the clothes line and wire was unknown.... The first barbed wire came into use about 1885.

"...There were no screens on the doors and windows to keep flies out of the house and no poison to kill them with. A member of the family would stand by the table and try to fan the flies away with a peach tree limb or a fan made out of paper while the rest of the family ate their meal.

"A boy got to go to school when he had caught up with the farm work, or it was too wet to work in the fields. If he got through the blue back speller and Guffey's Fourth Reader, he was pretty well educated.

"Every man and boy from 18 to 60 years of age had to work on the public roads 5 days each year or pay $5.00 per year to be exempt for the year.

"A man worth $10,000 was considered a rich man."


If you want to read more about Papa, his sneaky elopement, and some of the love letters he wrote to his wife, you can find that on my blog.

Thanks for visiting. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Cowboy Kisses News ~ Julie Lence

 Hello Everyone! I hope the summer heat isn't too unbearable in your area. And if it is, hopefully you've found a cool spot to read. To keep you up-to-date with Cowboy Kisses, we bid goodbye to Lucy and wish her all the best in her future endeavors. Western Romance author Deborah Camp is filling Lucy's slot for the 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Be sure to visit Deborah's author page to learn more about her and catch up with her on our Facebook group page. 

Keep cool these last remaining weeks of summer, and as always, Thank You for your continued support. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Thank You Ladies ~ Deborah Camp

 Every writer has other writers tot hank for inspiration, encouragement, and lessons learned. Although I have a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, I learned how to be a novelist from other working writers and from books I feel in love with and wanted to emulate. I’ve studied- and still so, occasionally -novels as my textbooks. Authors such as Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt sparked my interest in romantic suspense. I examined their sentence structure, their dialogue, and their expertise with mood setting and describing characters and action sequences.

Janet Dailey and Sandra Brown fired my imagination with contemporary and historical stories of people who were more familiar to me – more realistic and sexier. I can’t begin to count how many hours I’ve spent going over and over certain paragraphs and snippets of dialogue penned by these women. They were my able tutors.

LaVyrle Spencer’s books challenged me to write straight from the heart, elevate my prose, and take risks. She made me fall in love again with historicals -- especially those set in the 1800s. To me, her novels are works of art. 

Lately, I’ve taken lessons from Roni Loren, Katrina Halle, and Mia Sheridan, and Deanna Raybourn, but there are so many wonderful writers whose stories and characters cling to my mind long after I finish their books. When I write, I aspire to join them in their stratosphere. Sometimes I make it up there with them, and let me tell you, the view from there is addictive. Visiting that place makes me work harder and learn more as a writer so that I can breathe that rarefied air.

I owe a huge debt to all the westerns on TV that my dad insisted on watching. As for me, well, Saturday would be Saturday back when I was a kid if I didn't watch Roy Rogers and Gene Autry! I also had a thing for Hop-a-long Cassidy. All those years of watching westerns came back to me when I started writing them. Nowadays I'm totally into the TV series 1883, so the love affair continues.

We never know what will influence us until it does. When I picked up my first western romance novel, I had no idea that I would later be compelled to write one! I was totally a contemporary romance novelist back then. But the beauty of the writing and the memories of all those TV westerns overwhelmed me and I found myself plotting my first western romance.

So, a big thanks to all the wonderful writers who continue to inspire me, challenge me, and entertain me!

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Words for the Soul? How About Poetry?


Post (c) Doris McCraw

Love flowers on Lily Pads
Photo (C) Doris McCraw

What is it about poetry that touches the soul? What makes certain combinations of words haunting, happy, or beautiful? This poem by Helen (Hunt) Jackson may help us understand the power of words.


As when on some great mountain-peak we stand,

In breathless awe beneath its dome of sky,

Whose multiplied horizons seem to lie

Beyond the bounds of earthly sea and land,

We find the circles space to vast, too grand,

And soothe our thoughts with restful memory

Of sudden sunlit glimpses we passed by

Too quickly, in our feverish demand

To reach the height,–

So darling, when the brink

Of highest heaven we reach at last, I think

Even that great gladness will grow yet more glad,

As we, with eyes that are no longer sad,

Look back, while Life’s horizons slowly sink,

To some swift moments which on earth we had.

From the book “Poems” by Helen Jackson

Little Brown and Company 1908

First appearance in publication September 19, 1872, New York Independent

One thing I love about the poetry of Helen Hunt Jackson is the musicality it has when read aloud. Not read as one usually reads poetry, with the breaks and breaths at the end of the line, but reads as prose. If you read this poem aloud, reading through the complete thought, its true beauty comes through. Try reading it through more than once. Try different combinations of breaths and thoughts combining. The beauty of this poem; each time you read it something different blossoms into being. I believe that true poetry never has the same story, or the same meaning twice. Each will touch a different chord.

As you read this or any poem, keep an open mind and heart. Helen was favorably compared to many of the poets of her time. For some she was actually considered the best; male or female. It is interesting that Helen was so popular during her lifetime and almost unknown now. With her poetry, essays, and novels she was able to make a living as a writer. Emily Dickinson, a childhood friend who lived down the street from Helen in Amherst, did not become popular until her death. Now the tables have turned, Emily is now the more well know of the two. Each had their own style, and each wrote beautiful pieces of work.

The next time you are looking for something do to, search online for some of Helen’s poetry, or better yet, find a book of her poems, and start reading. To me, the gift of the poet, and for me that is Helen, is the joy of finding something new every time I read their work. Give poetry, especially Helen’s, a try.  For me, poetry, especially Helen’s will never grow old.

It was Helen who inspired my original writing practice of writing a daily Haiku. From those original poems, I created a book of Haiku poetry I published in 2022. Thank you, Helen.


Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy.