Archive for March, 2011

Synopsis Of My Novel, “Cottonwood Justice”

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Our two heroines meet at Fort Laramie, Wyoming in the early spring of 1878. Both are on separate heroic expeditions to bring the murderers of their loved ones to justice. Having exhausted their funds, the two women pair up to manage a way station along the Cheyenne/Black Hills trail as a means of securing monies in order continue on their missions.

Over the span of the next six months the two women, Josephine Becker (Jo) and Katherine Baine (Katie), breathe life into the Way Station with delicious meals and hand-crafted furniture. They form friendships and even procure a makeshift family when they rescue two abused teenagers, Ann Harms and Manuel Martinez, from their abusers.

In her journey’s Jo learns that she can protect herself despite the fact that she does not know how to handle a gun. Using a frying pan, tin plate, or a coffeepot for defense, she states with her actions as well as her words that injustice will not be tolerated where she is concerned. Katie learns to trust people again as she realizes that in order to meet her goal for justice, the best solution is to enlist the aid of her friend. With her fine shooting skills and quick-thinking, she thwarts more than just the progress of the outlaws that her bead was originally drawn on.

Together or separate, both women lead an action-packed life of rescuing the abused, stopping stage robberies, shooting wanted criminals, preventing a bank robbery, and even saving the life of a courtesan.

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Westward Mountain Man

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

It wasn’t until I had read “Wagons West, Nevada!” that I finally came to realize what the lure of Nevada could have been back in the old west days. When I saw Nevada for my first time two years ago, all I saw was blackish mountain ranges, sometimes snow-covered mountains, sagebrush and rocks. At that time, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the allure of settling in Nevada – what attracted the likes of Kit Carson, anyway?  Did they really have to pull wagons over sagebrush/rock covered mountains for mile upon mile? Why did they do that?

It was the great gold and silver hunt to fund the Civil War, of course. Well, I have never felt so lacking in my knowledge of American history as I did at that revelation. There was so much gold and silver in Virginny City and the Comstock Lode that Abraham Lincoln granted statehood to Nevada despite the fact that there were not enough residents in Nevada to merit it. When the silver ore was found, it was worth over $2,000 a ton – 1859 prices – so it’s not at ll surprising that President Lincoln wanted Nevada to join the Union.

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West of Lust, I mean Lusk

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

During the rough and ready days of the Black Hills gold rush, not far from Lusk Wyoming,  there lived a woman with feathers on her legs and  hellfire in her hair. She gave shelter to robbers, threw parties for roughians, and maintained a bank of stolen goods.  This woman was revered with the moniker “Mother Featherlegs” which was as endearing a name that could be attached to a woman who traded flesh for funds.

Without wondering too much at how this renowned woman of the world’s oldest profession acquired “Mother” in her name, the fact is that “Featherlegs” is thought to come from referring to her red pantalettes that waved in the breeze. Some questions one answers, some questions one leaves well enough alone.

Mother Featherlegs is lilely the only prostitute in the United States with a monument erected in her honor. The monument stands ten miles west of Lusk,  not far from where her murdered body was discovered in 1879. Madam Featherleg’s partner, Dangerous Dick Davis, later confessed to the Madam’s murder while also revealing her Christian name, which was Charlotte Shepherd.

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Ft. Laramie – a Portrait of Manifest Destiny

March 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Trappers, Indians, emigrants, soldiers, prospectors, tourists – these people and more passed through Ft. Laramie in southeastern Wyoming throughout the 1800s. Located on the Laramie River trappers picked the sight in the 1830s as a place to trade furs. It became a much needed resting spot for travelers of the Oregon and Mormon trails in the 1850s. As more people moved west looking for land or gold the soldiers were kept busy dealing with the Sioux who resented whites traveling across their land. The skirmishes diminished in the 1860s only to start again when gold was found in the black hills in 1874. Fort Laramie then became a stop on the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage line as prospectors, gunmen and tourists flooded into Deadwood.

 With the building of the train from Cheyenne to Deadwood in the 1880s the fort became unnecessary, but not forgotten. Preservation of Ft. Laramie began in the 1930s and much of the fort now looks like it did in its heyday.  Today Ft. Laramie National Historic Site is managed by the National Park Service and stands as a visual history of western expansion. It is a wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in the history of the American west.

I visited Fort Laramie several years ago. My most vivid memory of the site is not the historic buildings, but the absence of anything modern. As you stand at the edge of the fort and look west you can easily imagine what the emigrants must have seen and felt as they got ready to leave the safety of Fort Laramie and head into the great unknown looking for a better life.

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