Archive for February, 2011

Wild Wild West, Eight Fascinating Facts About Deadwood

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Eight facts about historic Deadwood South Dakota

The history of Deadwood, SD has filled many books through the years. I find it interesting that facts stated in one book are called fiction in another. Many of the people who made Deadwood famous were famous in their own right and that fame came with stories, both real and mythical. Rather than deciding for myself what is true and what is truly made up, I am picking these eight facts from a book whose author worked hard to discover the truth. The Read Deadwood by John Ames is a fascinating book that separates historical truth from both the fantasy of the penny dreadfuls of the 19th century and the fantasy of the TV series in the 21st century. Enjoy!

1) Women wanted – Deadwood in the late 1870s had 200 men for every woman.

2) A prospector could find $20 to $25 worth of gold a day in the early days of the gold rush. He often lost it in the saloons and brothels in Deadwood. If he managed to not lose it on the many vices available he would probably lose it buying food. 100 pounds of flour started at $10 and went as high as $80. Fresh eggs sold for several dollars apiece.

3) Seth Bullock became Deadwood’s first sheriff in 1877. He and Theodore Roosevelt were good friends.  Seth rode in Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade, leading 50 cowboys.

4) A small pox epidemic hit the Black Hills in 1878. Among the brave people treating the inflicted was Calamity Jane.

5) Lawman Wyatt Earp spent the winter of 1876-77 in Deadwood. Since no claims were left he started a business hauling winter stove wood to the residents. It was cold hard work but in the spring he left Deadwood with $5,000 profit.

5) The queen of female gamblers, “Poker Alice” Ivers was known to make up to $6,000 a night at the height of her career. She became a legend in the Black Hills and often sat in on big stakes games.

6) The Sundance Kid spent time in the Lawrence County jail in Deadwood in 1897 for a robbery of a bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. After several weeks he escaped and became one of the west’s best known outlaws.

7) Potato Creek Johnny (Welshman John Perret) stood only four foot three, but was the stereotype of a well-worn prospector. His fame exploded when he found the largest gold nugget ever discovered in the Black Hills. It weighed 7 ¾ troy ounces. A replica of the nugget is on display in the Adams Museum in Deadwood. The real one is in their safe.

8) Mt. Moriah Cemetery sits above Deadwood. With congressional permission an American flag flies day and night over its famous residents:  Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok, among others. Over one hundred thousand people visit Hickok’s grave annually.

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“Wagons West…” by Dana Fuller Ross

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

The westward flow of American exodus having been staunched by the pounding pacific long ago, we can be thankful that the journeys of our brave ancestors are entombed for our re-living in books and films. Among this vast array of collected tales, I have been most fortunate to stumble across what I can only refer to as the best series I have ever read.

The “Wagon’s West…” series by Dana Fuller Ross first entered the roundup of historical fiction in 1979 with the release of the first book, …”IDEPENDENCE!”  It’s great to see such a diverse group of people forging friendships and making allies from foes as the wagon train begins its first leg of a long journey west. The character development is very strong in this particular book, which is the reason why the reader absolutely cannot wait to pick up book 2; NEBRASKA!” Who marry’s who? Who beats the odds against nature, natives, and nay-sayers?  The people who undertook the westward roll were braver than anyone I’ve ever encountered, and this series portrays that sense of courage and dedication to a ‘T’.

This series is action-packed to beat all get out. Sometimes, while reading this series, I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and I found myself  wishing that I could move my eyes as fast as I could move my fingers. Five stars, five stars, five stars. Buy it, read it, and read it again. You can’t do much better in re-living the westward experience than within the pages of the “Wagons West” series.

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Western novel, “Cherokee Trail” by Louis L’Amour

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Louis L’Amour is the king of westerns; with many of his dozens of books turned into movies or TV shows*. He turned the wandering of his early years into the vivid stories that have lasted for decades. His many adventures introduced him to many captivating people, and he filled his books with unforgettable characters. Unlike some western writers, he knew that the west was made by both men and women and some of his books tell the women’s stories as well as the men’s. One such book is Ride the River which continues the Sackett saga with Echo Sackett from Tennessee. Another is Cherokee Trail, the story of two women surviving and thriving in Wyoming during the height of the Civil War.


Mary Breydon is a typical woman facing difficult problems. Her plantation in Virginia has been destroyed by the War Between the States. As she and her husband head west to start a new life, he is murdered leaving her alone to care for herself and their young daughter. Her only choice is to take the job her husband had accepted, running a rough and tumble way station on the rugged Cherokee Trail. With the help of a young woman in need of a job, and a variety of friends she finds a home in the untamed west.


All she wants is to run a successful business and provide for her family, but there is danger she must face. Her husband’s killer is using lies and money to gain power among the community. At first she has no desire to endanger herself or the people at the station, but when the killer discovers who she is and how she can ruin him, he brings the fight to her. With her back against the wall she faces her fears and does all she can to stop this man before he can harm anyone else.


Is Cherokee Trail worth reading? I think that any Louis L’Amour book is worth a try, but no fan of western fiction would be disappointed by this book. Humor, adventure, loyalty, and deceit – all that and more can be found between these pages.


*One of the long running TV shows was Five Mile Creek that ran three seasons starting in 1983 on the Disney Channel. It was based on Cherokee Trail.

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February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi, welcome to the  ALL THINGS WEST! blog. This is where I will post things of interest that I run across as I engage in research for my western novels. Of course, the first thing that should be posted in an all things west blog is an interview with Mr. Charles West. Said interview notwithstanding, this first post will deal with a minor introduction of the writer of westerns whose name is not West. Namely, me. Richard Bonham Waters.

As any reader of westerns will be quick to recognize, I do not as of yet have any of my exciting and daring tomes on display at the local bookstore. Why is that, one such person is sure to wonder. Surely a writer of westerns would have westerns available for perusal and, by golly, for purchase. The long and the short of it is, dear reader, that said manuscripts are anxiously awaiting their turn on the editor’s desk.

While we wait for due process and all the nitty-gritty business of getting from my fingers into your hands, we will explore the past together. I plan to post all manner of interesting tidbits in this blog. I will showcase Madam Featherlegs, the only prostitute in the U.S. who has a monument erected in her memory. Also on display in this blog will be the rip roaring Cheyenne – Deadwood Stage Line,  a bit about Mr. Samuel Colt, a turn with Native Americans, the cooking of rabbits, Calamity Jane and a whole lot more.

Stay tuned and check in often. I’m promising a hell of a ride.

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