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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hope Emerges

     While the fight over the Fifteenth Amendment was being waged in the east, the western states and territories were more favorable to women’s suffrage.
     The first territorial legislature of the Wyoming Territory granted full voting rights to women in 1869. On September 6, 1870, Louisa Ann Swain of Laramie, Wyoming became the first woman to cast a vote in a general election.
Louisa Swain
In 1890, the U.S. Congress demanded Wyoming rescind the right of women to vote as a condition of statehood. The Wyoming legislature responded in a telegram: “We will remain out of the Union one hundred years rather than come in without the women.” Congress gave in. Wyoming became the 44th state and the first state in which women had full voting rights. 

     Utah had a more turbulent history in relation to women’s suffrage. The territory was home to many Mormon communities that practiced polygamy. Politicians opposed to the practice of polygamy believed if women were given the vote it would help to end the practice. On the other hand, many Mormon men supported voting rights for women to prove to the nation their wives were not oppressed by polygamy.

     In 1870, the Utah territory passed legislation that enfranchised women. This lasted until 1887, when the United States Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Anti-Polygamy Act. The act placed restrictions on the Mormon Church, including disincorporating it and seizing its property. It required individuals to take an anti-polygamy oath in order to vote, hold public office or serve on juries. The Edmunds-Tucker Act also disenfranchised all women in the Utah Territory. Both Mormon and non-Mormon women formed suffrage organizations.
      When Utah Territory applied for statehood in 1895, women convinced politicians to include women’s suffrage in the new state Constitution. When Utah became a state in January of 1896, women were again legally able to vote.
     Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, women continued to fight for the right to vote. In a piecemeal array of states, territories, counties and towns, they won different configurations of partial voting rights. Usually, those rights allowed women to vote only for local officials such as school board members, city officers and/or county representatives. But in most of the country, woman were still excluded from participating in elections. 

      In 1872, Susan B. Anthony, voted in the election in Rochester, New York, although the state had not granted suffrage rights to women. Her sisters and eleven other women also voted in the election. They argued that constitutional language gave them the legal right to cast ballots. They were subsequently arrested for voting. Anthony was held on $1000 bail ($21,157 in today’s dollars), the rest were held on $500 bail each. The following year, Anthony was denied a trial by jury and lost her case. She was fined $100 plus court costs.
      The U.S. Congress first introduced a suffrage amendment in 1878. Four years later, the House and Senate appointed committees on woman suffrage. Both favored votes for women. Two years after the favorable reports, the U.S. House of Representatives debated woman suffrage. In 1886, the suffrage amendment finally reached the floor of the U.S. Senate. It was defeated.

     As women received partial voting rights in some places, they began running for public offices. Many women won positions as school board members, county clerks, state legislators, judges, and other local officials. In 1884, Belva Lockwood, the first female to be admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, even ran for president. Although she lost handily, women had started to gain political clout. But the fight for suffrage was far from over. 

Previous installments:
Voting in Colonial America:


The Fight Begins:

A Rupture in the Cause

Ann Markim

 Buy Links:      Paperback at Amazon    Amazon Kindle

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Medieval May - a picture blog

My latest historical romance, "The Master Cook and the Maiden" takes place in early spring but mentions summer as a time for travel. May in particular for people in the Middle Ages was both very busy and a time of relaxation and pleasure. After the hard graft of winter and spring, May was a holiday month in early summer, with few tasks in the agricultural calendar. May Day, a blend of Christian and older pagan traditions, was celebrated by everyone, with dancing, revels and drink.

May was the time when people would go wandering in the fields and woodlands, to enjoy the fresh greenery and woodland flowers. It was also blossom time, when the fruit trees and hedgerows burst into bloom, wild cherries and wild apples following each other in glorious profusion.

Later summer was a harder task-master: if a peasant worked on the land, later summer was when the sheep were sheared, then the hay and wheat harvests were gathered in. Summer, too, was often the prime time for military activity, when knights might be called to fight for their overlord or king on campaign. However, even in these months there was merry-making.

Midsummer was marked by bonfires, a pagan ‘left-over’ from the earlier festival of Beltane and celebrated in the Middle Ages as the saint’s day of St John. Young couples would sometimes leap over the midsummer bonfire for luck. Wells could also be dressed with flowers around this time – a relic of earlier water-spirit worship, and still carried on today.

I touch on some of these customs in my novella "Midsummer Maid", part of "A Knight's Choice and Other Romances."
July was marked by St Swithin’s day, when the strewings in the churches would be changed from the winter rushes and straw to the summer hay and sedges, and August saw the feast time of Lammas – loaf mass – to give thanks for the hard-won harvest.

[Photo of oxeye daisies and cornflowers by Colin Smith, photo of well-dressing by Bob Embleton, both of The fifteenth-century stained glass harvesting scene is from the Victoria and Albert Museum. All three sourced from Wikimedia Commons.]

Lindsay Townsend

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Book review: Hollow Heart by Sarah McNeal



Madeline Andrews is a grown up orphan. Sam Wilding made her feel part of his life, his family and swore he’d come home to her when the war ended, but he didn’t return. With the Valentine’s Ball just days away, the Wildings encourage Madeline to move forward with her life and open her heart to the possibilities. But Madeline is lost in old love letters and can’t seem to let go.

My review:

I was looking for a shorter story that would still dish out all the feels, and this one popped up and I'm so glad it did!  I've read a couple of the Wildings stories and this was an awesome addition to their family's tales.

Set just after WW2 has ended, Madeline and her "adopted" family through the man she loved are grieving his loss - MIA in the war.  They're encouraging her that it's time to start living again and not hiding away. Her sense of sweetness and abiding love for Sam and his family shines off the page.

While we don't see Sam much in the story, he is present on every page, because the memory of him lives on in Madeline and his family.  You can still feel the sense of honor and love Sam carried for his family, and the responsibility he had in the war.

The ending was perfect - all the feels and even some tears may have been falling.  The words and the moment combined with that same abiding love that was felt from page one of the story delivered a breathtaking conclusion.

Purchase links:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Tobacco Brides

A couple years ago, I wrote an article for USA Today and later for RWR Magazine on how 45 authors got together and wrote 50 novellas about mail order brides. The trope of mail order brides has been a staple in western romance for years, but the way these ladies packaged their product and featured one bride in each state was what made it new and different.  

Of course the concept of mail-order brides isn’t unique to America. It’s been a method of matrimony in all parts of the world and is still is use today. But I was surprised to find the concept in America didn’t start with the gold rush in the western United States, as originally thought. It really began with the first colony established in the country by the British. Jamestown. 

Jamestown in 1607 was established with the hope this new country would be capable of growing tobacco. At the time, England had a fierce addiction to the product, and men, women and children all had clay pipes and a need for tobacco. Most of the product was purchased from Spain, who owned the Caribbean islands along with Central and South America, so perfect for growing tobacco. Most of the incoming tobacco was smuggled into the country, in order to circumvent the hefty import tax Britain imposed on the product. So Britain wasn’t collecting the tax, and a lot of coin was being spent on the smuggled goods. They had to do something. 

Their first step was to offer the men of Jamestown a tract of land each to work. But what the men really wished for was the companionship of a woman. So England rounded up twelve women–one widow and eleven maidens–as the first shipment in 1619. They arrived on America’s shores and were put up for auction, the price being 120 pounds of tobacco for each woman. The ladies could reject any offers being put forth, and would be housed in appropriate quarters until a man captured their fancy. However, there were no reports that these first twelve were not wed by the eve of their arrival. The reason for the fee for the ladies helped to prove the men were industrious and hard-working and would be capable of supporting a wife and their future children. Only free men who owned land were eligible bachelors for these women. Indentured servants, who were working off the cost of their passage, were not eligible to marry until their servitude ended, typically lasting seven years. 

But who were these ladies? Where did they come from? The logical assumption is that early America was a disposal for those in England’s jails, as was the case in Australia in its early days. But that seems not to be the case for these Jamestown brides. The widow, Anne Rickard, had tired of her life in a London parish and wished for a fresh start in a new country. The reason why these ladies chose to make a treacherous overseas voyage was no different from the reasons American women chose to head west on wagon trains as mail order brides–a lack of available men in the parts of the world where they were located. An economic depression in England made men hesitate to marry and have a family to support. England also worried about a dwindling supply of people in the colony, since there was loss from disease, accidents and hunger. 

Bringing women to the colony and beginning to settle it by building churches and then schools for the forthcoming children seemed to be a good idea. A call went out from the Virginia Company for “young, handsome and honestly educated maids.” All those willing had to submit letters of recommendation and to have someone vouch for them in person at the Virginia Company in London. These ladies came from a multitude of social backgrounds. Some were the daughters of working class families, some came from the homes of titled gentlemen. The Virginia Company was very interested in the homemaking skills each woman possessed. If they could cook, bake, spin yarn, sew, make butter and cheese, so much the better. The Virginia Company outfitted these ladies for the voyage with clothing,  bedding, gloves and white caps, called coifs, which they could wear once they married. 

The fee rose from 120 pounds to 150 pounds of tobacco. The next shipment of ladies were 90 in number. In total 144 Tobacco Brides were brought to the shores of America by the Virginia Company, between 1619 and 1622. Only six of them survived longer than six years in Jamestown. 


Monday, May 18, 2020

Old Cowtown Museum - an Insider's Perspective

I conducted this interview by telephone with Old Cowtown volunteer reenactor and photographer Niki Pauline Conard back in early March.  For obvious reasons, I've postponed this blog post several times, wanting to wait until they might be opening up for the season.  Since things are still so uncertain, and since I think we all need to daydream about future travels, I'm going ahead with it this month.

Old Cowtown Museum, located in Wichita, Kansas, was founded in 1950.  It's the largest living history museum west of the Mississippi, at 23 acres.  While the buildings in Old Cowtown have been transported there, 95-98% of them are actual historical buildings, from all over Kansas.  The way the museum is set up, you move forward in time, beginning around 1868-70 with the Heller cabin, trappers cabin, and Munger house.  By the time you get the the farm further along, you're in the 1880s.

Under normal circumstances, Old Cowtown is open year-round, for limited hours in the winter season (normally November 1 through April 1), and with a fuller schedule from April through the end of October. 

While school tours make a substantial amount of their business, events and tourism are also a significant part of what Old Cowtown does.   Living historian re-enactors volunteer for events centered around the Civil War and gunfighters, but there are also Once Upon a Time fairy tale events, Halloween events, and steampunk events, to attract a broad range of visitors.

Ghost tours are among the most popular events at Old Cowtown, with the Wichita Paranormal Society regularly involved, and from a bit further away, the Tennessee Wraith Chasers having visited as well.  Several of the buildings on the site are believed to be haunted, and quite a few of the volunteers have stories about strange experiences they've had in these buildings.   Foremost among these is the Murdoch House, which was the residence of Marshall Murdoch, founder and editor of the Wichita Eagle newspaper from 1872 until his death in 1908.  Murdoch's 8 year old daughter haunts it, and sometimes Murdoch himself has been seen there.

Last year, Niki was the committee head for the Age of the Gunfighter event.  150 re-enactors who specialize in Old West gunfighting came from as far away as Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina to participate.  Most of them camped on the grounds, historical style.  This June, a new event, the Women of the West 19th Amendment Celebration was scheduled to debut.

With only seven employees, Old Cowtown relies on its volunteers.  Some of the re-enactors play roles like Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, or Buffalo Bill Cody, and stay in characer.  Others play skinners (fur traders), Buffalo soldiers, and Victorian ladies.  They don't have tour guides at Cowtown -- rather, people wander around and investigate on their own.  During season, the museum also hires interpreters who have specific skills that allow them to play roles like carpenter, blacksmith, or printer.  Re-enactors in museums hold themselves to high standards -- the clothing must be exactly right, and there must be a reason for what each character does.  At the same time, they also need to entertain the visitors.  The Cherokee Light horse Civil War re-enactors are regulars, as are the Dalton gang of Coffeyville, Kansas and the Gunfighters at Flint Hills, with the Guthrie Gunfighters turning up for special events as well.

Niki got involved with living history reenactments when she was living in Oklahoma in 2000, and when she moved back to her hometown of Wichita, sought out a place where she could get involved.  Niki herself usually presents a Cattle Queen look, a gunfighter outfit that mixes long skirts with some menswear elements.  The ladies in proper Victorian dress snub her, as part of the play.  She does have some Victorian dresses for events like Victorian Christmas.   When we spoke back in March, she was looking forward to a Dress Reform outfit that she'd be able to wear to ride her horse.  While women during that time period actually rode side saddle, very few re-enactors go that far.

I learned about Old Cowtown when Niki became an Internet friend, and I'm certainly hoping to make a visit out there someday.  For the Prairie Roses who live closer than I do, it's a great opportunity to immerse yourself in real Western history.  Have you been there already?   Please share in the comments.

To find out more about Old Cowtown and about Niki's photography:
Old Cowtown website
Old Cowtown on Facebook
Cowtown through the Lens of RedRock & Friends
Niki's portfolio on Instagram

And to read my Prairie Rose debut, Courting Anna,

Connect with me online:
Website & Blog:
Twitter: @CateSimon3

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Work in Progress sneak peak by Kaye Spencer #prairierosepubs #workinprogress #westernromance

I work on multiple stories at the same time. I write on one until I hit a snag then I hop over to a different story and so forth. Right now, I'm working on two projects that I will submit to Prairie Rose Publications by the end of the summer.

One is a revisiting of a previously published western romance novel that deserves a good revamping prior to republishing. The other is this one that I’m sharing a sneak peek with you. It is a novella-length western romance I’m roughly halfway finished writing. The tentative title is The Locket.

The idea for the story evolved from this postcard I purchased in Kingman, Arizona a few years ago while on a round-trip train ride from Lamar, Colorado to Kingman.

I’ve changed the train robbery to a stagecoach holdup. Kissing the wimmin folk is the spark that lights the story’s fire.

Here’s the kissing scene that fans that plot flame between the hero, John Thomas (aka J.T. Barlow), and the heroine, Ada Snowden. Ada, in failing health and recently widowed, is returning home after being away for twenty years. J.T is a member of an outlaw gang that holds-up the stage she's on. The gang’s leader has demanded Ida relinquish her gold locket. Ida has flatly refused as the locket was a gift from her deceased husband. The leader is about to work her over with quirt when J.T. intervenes.

Excerpt (work in progress and subject to change)

“My parents taught me to respect women, not mistreat them. Besides, a pretty woman should be appreciated, not roughed up.” He looked her over, the lines around his eyes crinkling with amusement. “And you are sure enough a handsome woman—a woman who takes pride in keeping herself up for a man. Mmm mmm mmm.”

The illicit suggestion in his tone sent her hand flying, but he caught her arm before her palm made contact with his face. Never physically mistreated in her life, the iron grip of his fingers clamped around her wrist brought out the fight in her, especially since the sparkle in his eyes said he was still grinning.

“Widow lady, huh?”

“Yes.”She hissed the word through her clenched teeth.

“Where are you headed?”

“Burney Springs, if it’s any of your business.” Ada pulled vainly against his grip.

There was a chuckle in his voice, and the lines around his eyes deepened. “What’s your name?”

“Are you keeping a record of the women you rob?”

“Maybe I am.” He snorted a grunting chuckle. “For posterity.”

Ada saw the flicker of a frown push away the smile around his eyes, and she wondered if she’d touched the fringes of some deeper truth.

“Well,” he prodded. “You have a name?”

“Ada Snowden. Mrs. Snowden to you. I’d ask your name, but I doubt a bandit would give an honest response.”

The taunting gleam in his eyes returned. “Don’t be so hasty to judge. What you see on the outside might be deceiving.” He released her arm as he leaned into her, his broad chest pressing against her bosom. “It’s a matter of pride now. It can’t get out that we show favorites when we rob folks. Our reputations as road agents would be ruined. When we turn to robbing trains and banks…or stealing watermelons from a preacher’s garden, people have to respect us, fear us.” He chuckled softly, amused with himself. He put his gloved hand over hers where it rested protectively over her locket. “Let me have it.”

“No.” Ada grabbed the bottom of his bandana and yanked. Startled, he stepped back. She braced herself, fully expecting he’d strike her. Instead, a slow, widening grin spread over his face. A face with angular, chiseled features, strong jaw, and cleft chin. A face that was nice to look at and made her just a little weak in her already shaky knees.

“I admire a gutsy woman.” Grasping her shoulders with his big hands, he pushed her backwards until she came up hard against the side of the stagecoach with an oompf. “Now that you know my face, here’s something so you won’t forget me.”

He leaned into her. The heat from his body brought the already scorching temperature up several degrees. The moment his lips touched hers, all thoughts of resistance dissolved, and so help her, she closed her eyes and kissed him back. Why she didn’t resist this stranger’s kiss, she didn’t know. Feelings rose from a place deep down inside she’d buried ages before she’d laid her husband to rest two years ago. Neither could she say why when he put his hand over hers again that she loosened her grip on the locket and allowed him to slip his fingers inside hers. With a tug, the clasp broke, and he withdrew the locket as his lips left hers.

“Seems to me you liked that kiss.” The deep husky rasp in his voice suggested he’d gotten more than he’d anticipated. “Maybe it’s the best you’ve ever had.” Tucking the locket into his watch pocket, he pulled up his bandana, returned to his horse, and swung into the saddle. The bandits raced off behind the leader, but the man lingered.

Touching the front of his hat, he said, “Nice to meet you, Ada Snowden. Around these parts, I’m known as John Thomas. Remember my name. I’m gonna be famous.”

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

Stay in contact with Kaye—

Monday, May 11, 2020

Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton

Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton (October 26, 1860 – April 8, 1958)
When Francis Boardman Eaton was eight years old, his family joined the rush to Kansas, establishing their homestead eight miles west of Carbondale, KS. One night, shortly after arriving, his father was gunned down by a gang of lawless Southerners who called themselves “the Regulators.”
Encouraged and taught by his father’s friend and neighbor, young Frank learned to shoot with a Dragoon cap and ball pistol. He became proficient enough that he could shoot the head off a rattlesnake with either hand by merely “point firing”—not taking the time to aim.
In 1875 Frank went to Fort Gibson where the 6th Cavalry was stationed. When he outshot everyone at the fort, the commander, Colonel Copinger, gave him a badge for his marksmanship and the nickname “Pistol Pete.”
In 1887, he learned that two of his father’s killers were living just southwest of Webbers Falls, Indian Territory. Eaton rode into the clearing where the cabin was located and saw one grabbing a rifle on the porch. Frank gave the outlaw time to aim, but he was still no match for Frank’s fast draw. He found the other man working cattle in a nearby clearing. Eaton shot him off his horse with “two forty-five slugs through his breast”. Both of the outlaws were known cattle thieves and, for his actions against them, Eaton was hired as a detective by the Cattlemen’s Association.
Photo from @exploringmissouriozarks
Eaton then set off to find one of the men’s brother who had been helping sell the stolen cattle in Missouri. The night before he arrived, the outlaw was killed for stealing a jack from the bottom of a deck in a poker game. Eaton attended his funeral just to make sure he was dead. While there, he learned that two more of his father’s killers had a small ranch in the Ozarks. Eaton found the brothers at home and challenged them to a duel, killing both of them only feet apart.
Eaton then got wind that the last killer was tending bar in Albuquerque. With the help of Pat Garrett, Eaton found the man and two of his hirelings at the bar. Eaton ordered the killer to “fill your hand, you son of a b****!” shooting him twice through the heart as he reached for his gun under the bar. The two hirelings wounded Eaton, shooting him in the leg and in his left arm. Garrett helped Frank and saw to it he received help from friends out of town.
After seeing Eaton in an Armistice Day parade in 1923, students at Oklahoma A & M College, now Oklahoma State University, asked “Pistol Pete” to pose as the school’s mascot. Eaton agreed and became the “original cowboy” and living symbol of Oklahoma State University until his death.
His likeness was also adopted as the mascot of the University of Wyoming and New Mexico State University, which lead to a bit of a kerfuffle. It's also rumored that the cartoon character "Yosemite Sam" was modeled after him. I think ol' "Pistol Pete" would have been proud.
Tracy Garrett