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Monday, November 19, 2018

First Transcontinental Telegraph & a Family Connection

The American Civil War started in early 1861. Later that same year on October 24th, the workers of the two companies working under the Western Union Telegraph Company linked the eastern and western telegraph networks of the nation at Salt Lake City, Utah, completing a transcontinental line that for the first time allows instantaneous communication between Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. Stephen J. Field, chief justice of California, sent the first transcontinental telegram to President Abraham Lincoln, predicting that the new communication link would help ensure the loyalty of the western states to the Union during the Civil War.

With the passing of the Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860, Congress authorized a subsidy of $40,000 a year to any company building a telegraph line that would join the eastern and western networks. The Western Union Company won the bid. A milestone in electrical engineering, the line connected an existing network in the eastern United States to a small existing network in California by a link between Omaha and Carson City via Salt Lake City.

The newly created Overland Telegraph Company of California built the line eastward while Sibley's Pacific Telegraph Company of Nebraska built westward. The lines met in Salt Lake City, Utah. Construction began in 1861. The line moving westward from Omaha, Nebraska reached Salt Lake City on October 18th 1861. The line coming east from Carson City, Nevada reached the city and completed the line on October 24, 1861.

There were many other challenges to building the telegraph line. Wire and glass insulators had to be shipped by sea to San Francisco and carried eastward by horse-drawn wagons over the Sierra Nevada. The largely treeless Midwest and the Great Basin country meant poles needed to be transported east from the western mountains.

Indians also proved a problem. In the summer of 1861, a party of Sioux warriors cut part of the line that had been completed and took a long section of wire for making bracelets. Later, however, some of the Sioux wearing the telegraph-wire bracelets became sick, and a Sioux medicine man convinced them that the great spirit of the “talking wire” had avenged its desecration. Thereafter, the Sioux left the line alone.

From my personal family history, my great-grandfather, Edwin Brown, was called up to serve in the Civil War. To set the stage, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still dominated the Salt Lake City region. Four years before the beginning of the Civil War, upon being convinced by enemies of the Church that the Mormons (the nickname given to the church by its enemies; the members referred to themselves as Saints) were in revolt against the United States, President Buchanan authorized a large Army to march to Utah Territory to subdue the people. Word got back to the people in Salt Lake City the intent was to annihilate the members of the church—genocide.

The Saints fought back and prevented Johnston’s entry into the Salt Lake valley during the winter of 1857-58—enough time for the citizens to temporarily relocate elsewhere. It ended up that the church president, Brigham Young, recognized the new governor sent by Washington D.C. However, he made it clear to Johnston that if he came to Salt Lake City, he must march his men through the city without stopping, or the Saints would torch Salt Lake City and burn it to the ground. The members of the church were done with building up cities only be driven out by mob violence so others could come in and inhabit what they had built. Johnston did just that and set up Camp Floyd to the west.

Yet, in 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, President Lincoln sent messages to the leaders of all the territories to the west to know if they intended to stand with the Union. Anyone who knew anything about Utah Territory knew, no matter who ran the civil government, to get the cooperation of the majority of the population, they must go through Brigham Young.

There remained an uneasy truce between the soldiers who came to quell a rebellion that did not exist and the Saints. When the Civil War broke out, Sidney Johnston had already been transferred to California to head the Pacific Division of the Army. The soldiers at Camp Floyd left for the East to join the war effort. Yet, Brigham Young was the first in the territories to send the message back to President Lincoln that the Saints would stand with the Union.

After that, Utah was asked to raise a company, which it did. Brigham Young asked for each family to send one man to serve under Lot Smith (who led the resistance against Johnston’s Army a few years earlier). Brigham Young himself came to the Brown family with his request.

The Brown family had immigrated to the United States from England in 1853 and believed in the practice of primogeniture where the oldest son inherits the bulk of the estate upon the father’s death. Because my second great-grandfather died many years earlier, his oldest son, Henry, inherited and had the responsibility for providing for his mother and younger siblings in addition to his own wife and children. It fell to the second son, my great-grandfather, to serve.

As with most volunteer units of the day, the men were called up for a six month enlistment. Their assignment was to protect the newly-completed telegraph line between Green River, Wyoming and northern Utah from both Indians and Confederate saboteurs intent upon disrupting communications between Washington D.C. and California—the source of gold President Lincoln counted on to help finance the Union Army. Strung out along the route of the telegraph and far from civilization, the men suffered from the elements and the lack of a consistent food supply.

At the end of the six months, it was decided this unit did not need as many men. Those who owned their own horses were re-enlisted for an additional six months. Those like my great-grandfather who were on foot were mustered out to return home.

With the completion of the transcontinental telegraph, the Pony Express became obsolete overnight. It would be another nine years before trains crossed the vast Prairie. The transcontinental telegraph served as the only method of near-instantaneous communication between the east and west coasts during the 1860s.

Family history of Robyn Echols


Bridgeport Holiday Brides, my fifth and final book in the series, Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 takes place in November. It wraps up the remaining romances in the series. You may read the book description and find the purchase link by CLICKING HERE.

The following is one of my favorite excerpts from the book. It takes place during the wedding reception for Val and Beth:

         "And your sister is delightful." A twinkle entered her eye and a grin lit her face. "And I understand she soon may also be joining the family in an even closer capacity very soon."
         Beth's eyes twitched with suspicion. "Who told you that?"
         Barbara's eyes widened and she brought her fingers to her lips. "Oh! I hope I didn't let the cat out of the bag. Luther made a special trip up to Carson City to buy Hazel a ring. He stopped by and stayed with us coming and going. It's a beautiful ring, Beth. Haven't you seen it yet?"
         "No, I ain't. And Hazel ain't of age. Luther finagled his way into courtin' her, but he ain't said nothin' to me about askin' for her hand."
         "Oh. I'm sorry, Beth. I thought you knew."
         "No need apologizin'. Right glad you spoke up."
         Beth's gaze roamed over the crowd until she located Luther with Hazel on his arm while he chatted with friends.
         Once Luther caught the eye of his newest sister-in-law and realized she was glaring at him, he straightened to his full height then froze in place, like prey hypnotized by a snake. As soon as Beth started toward him with a resolute stride, he turned to Hazel and whispered in her ear.
         Three long strides on his part, and Luther and Beth stood face to face.
         Beth spoke first. "You and me need to talk, Luther Caldwell. Somewhere private."
         Hazel followed Luther, standing behind him. She looked on with concern. "Bethie?"
         "Luther'll be right back, Hazel. Him and I got a bone to pick over."
         Luther followed Beth outside the barn. Although most of the wedding guests were in the barn where it was relatively warm, there were enough in the yard that Beth had to search for a spot where she could speak to Luther in relative privacy. She finally spotted a tree on the far side of the yard next to one of the corrals. She strode in that direction, knowing Luther followed close behind her. Once she was far enough away from everyone she spun on the ball of her foot to face her brother-in-law. Luther almost toppled over in the effort to keep from running into Beth.
         Her arms akimbo, Beth glared at Luther. "Heard you done bought Hazel a ring."
         Luther's expression of consternation turned to a mischievous grin. "Has Barbara been talking to you? She never could keep things like that to herself."
         "Good she did, because you sure ain't been talkin' to me. You give that ring to Hazel yet?"
         Luther turned serious. "No, Beth. I haven't said anything. I wanted to get past yours and Val's wedding. I didn't want to say anything too soon and have the news of it take away from yours and Val's big day."
         "That's right thoughtful of you, Luther, but you know she ain't of age. You need to get my say-so before you go askin' her."
         Luther gave another sheepish grin. "That was another reason I planned to wait. I figured once you were happily married, you would settle down and be apt to be more agreeable to our engagement. I had planned to ask her so we could announce it at Thanksgiving dinner."

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Anthology Book Review: Lassoing A Mail-Order Bride



A woman would have to be loco to become a mail-order bride...wouldn't she? Leaving everything behind and starting fresh in the untamed west is the answer to a prayer for these ladies! A beautiful socialite needs a husband fast —but her husband wants a bride for life. A pregnant young lady becomes desperate —almost as desperate as her soon-to-be husband, who just inherited his sister's kids. A man is in love with a woman he can’t have —or can he? A woman’s reputation is tarnished and professional career compromised —she runs, but she can't hide. Will they all find love with strangers they've never met who are set on LASSOING A MAIL-ORDER BRIDE?

A pregnant mail order bride. A groom with three orphaned children. Some dreams get a rough start

A beautiful socialite needs a husband fast —for just one month —but the rancher wants a wife for life!

He needs a wife to get custody of his grandchildren. She needs a fresh start and a new reputation. Desperate men —and women —sometimes take desperate measures...but can she be A PERMANENT WOMAN?

THE BIG UNEASY—Kathleen Rice Adams
A man in love with a woman he can’t have. A woman engaged to a man she doesn’t love. A secret in common could destroy them all.

My Reviews:

This is a perfect weekend read. All 4 stories are easily read in an hour or two, so you can have time to fit in a full story and get all the feel goods out of it!

These Rough Dreams by Cheryl Pierson
Oh!!! I think I have a new favorite Cheryl Pierson short story!!!! (I say this often! lol) Johnny Rainbolt swept me away just like any worthy hero should.

I adored how Gabby and Johnny found each other, and by taking advantage of the situation given, determined to give each other the best of themselves. Their relationship was an answer to prayer neither even knew to ask for. They were both open and accepting and honest from the start with each other, which allowed for some easy moments before greater trials arrived.

I happy-sighed alot through this story and couldn't have wished for a better way for their dreams to come true.

Her Hurry up Husband by Tanya Hanson
What happens when best laid plans get tossed out the window and a better future is waiting to be claimed? Well, you get to experience Elspeth and Hezekiah's storybook ending.

Elspeth thought she lost her happily ever after and was just hoping for some sort of respectable solution. She had the grit and determination to do what she believed was best. Hezekiah was feeling pressured to start a family of his own, and decided he's gonna do it his way and sent off for a mail order bride. He had such a gentle heart to go with his protective nature.

Both have their own ideas of what the future holds, but maybe there could be something better then they could have ever planned for. Themes of trust, honesty, and acceptance make this a story to enjoy and fall on love with.

A Permanent Woman by Kaye Spencer
I absolutely love A Permanent Woman!! Tessa and Simon both had some unique circumstances they were dealing with and found the ideal solution with each other. Their meeting had me laughing and smiling and falling in love with them. Simon and Tessa quickly figured out how much they needed each other and built a new family together. When the storms came that should have destroyed their world, they instead discovered their love and need for each other could survive the past. I also love that being older characters (in their 40s) brought a refreshing point of view and proves that a happily-ever-after can come at any age.

The Big Uneasy by Kathleen Rice Adams
Secrets, secrets, and more secrets!! Boy did those skeletons rattlin' in everyone's closets make a racket! I loved watching how everything unfolded and the sweet attraction between Amon and Josephine grow into something from sparks to meant-to-be. With the mystery behind Josephine's past so carefully hidden and the Dumont's family secrets quickly unraveling, you're left wondering what's really going to happen. One of my new favorite short stories!!

Even if you're not a fan of anthologies, or even if you just want to read one of these stories and skip the rest (but... they're all beautiful, so hopefully you don't!) you don't want to miss out on this collection of stories!

Purchase Link:

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Book Review: Kidnapping Kalli by Cheryl Pierson


Texas Ranger Shiloh Barrett loses his hotheaded older brother to a gunfight over a hand of cards. Now the “winner”—a wealthy landowner who’s coveted the Barrett homestead—finally has what he wants. But could there be something Seamus O’Connor desires more than the Barretts’ land?

O’Connor has not seen his beautiful daughter, Kalli, for thirteen years. He knows that she's living with her mother’s Cherokee people in northeastern Indian Territory. Determined to have her kidnapped and brought to him, Seamus uses the deed he holds to the Barrett homestead to get what he wants. Even though it goes against everything Shiloh Barrett believes is right, O’Connor’s blackmail cannot be ignored.

But beautiful Kalliroe White Dove O’Connor has some tricks up her sleeve as the handsome ex-ranger spirits her away into the nearby San Bois Mountains. The tables turn when Shiloh is bitten by a rattlesnake their first day on the trail. Though Kalli tells herself she has no other choice but to stay with Shiloh—and she does want to reunite with her father—deep down, she knows there is another reason she can’t leave the handsome lawman. Could it be she’s falling in love with him?

In a final showdown with a cutthroat outlaw gang, Shiloh heads straight into the pit of vipers to buy some time for the man he despises—Kalli’s father. No matter how this all plays out, KIDNAPPING KALLI has been the best thing Shiloh Barrett’s ever done—if he only lives to see it through…

My Review:  

Kidnapping Kalli is an adorably sweet Christmas story that warms your heart and gives you all the warm-fuzzy-feels. I love how Kalli and Shiloh meet under some rocky circumstances, and experiencing how quickly they come to depend on each other after some danger strikes. Their attraction grows and solidifies quickly, which is good considering what they have to face in their future. Shiloh proves himself to be just the man for Kalli, and Kalli is the perfect missing piece to fill a spot that Shiloh didn’t realize was empty.

Shiloh and Kalli’s story gives me all the adventure and sweet love story I love to read, all wrapped up in a short-escape-from-reality story. 

Purchase Link:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Release — KIDNAPPING KALLI by Cheryl Pierson

Texas Ranger Shiloh Barrett loses his hotheaded older brother to a gunfight over a hand of cards. Now the “winner”—a wealthy landowner who’s coveted the Barrett homestead—finally has what he wants. But could there be something Seamus O’Connor desires more than the Barretts’ land? 

O’Connor has not seen his beautiful daughter, Kalli, for thirteen years. He knows that she's living with her mother’s Cherokee people in northeastern Indian Territory. Determined to have her kidnapped and brought to him, Seamus uses the deed he holds to the Barrett homestead to get what he wants. Even though it goes against everything Shiloh Barrett believes is right, O’Connor’s blackmail cannot be ignored.

But beautiful Kalliroe White Dove O’Connor has some tricks up her sleeve as the handsome ex-ranger spirits her away into the nearby San Bois Mountains. The tables turn when Shiloh is bitten by a rattlesnake their first day on the trail. Though Kalli tells herself she has no other choice but to stay with Shiloh—and she does want to reunite with her father—deep down, she knows there is another reason she can’t leave the handsome lawman. Could it be she’s falling in love with him? 

In a final showdown with a cutthroat outlaw gang, Shiloh heads straight into the pit of vipers to buy some time for the man he despises—Kalli’s father. No matter how this all plays out, KIDNAPPING KALLI has been the best thing Shiloh Barrett’s ever done—if he only lives to see it through…


     Kidnapping Kalliroe White Dove O’Connor had been easier than Shiloh Barrett had believed possible. And he was glad of it. He’d never been one to take ‘dirty’ jobs—and this one barely bordered being just that.

     But, he figured, right was right. Kalliroe had two parents—a Cherokee mother and an Irish father—and her father had as much right to her as her mama did. Mama had had her for thirteen of the last eighteen years, now—all to herself. Papa just wanted a fair shake before the girl ended up getting herself married or—something.
     The pay had been good—and vital, in many ways. Shiloh hadn’t made that much money for one single job such as this in quite some time. Yeah, taking Miss Kalliroe had been the easy part—but she was not, by any means, going to cooperate, now that he had her.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Thanksgiving - a brief history of its origins by Kaye Spencer #prairierosepubs #thanksgiving

A note... For those of you may have already read this article recently on a different blog, thank you. For those of you who haven't, I hope you enjoy this brief history of how the American Thanksgiving came to be.

photo by pippalou courtesy

The Legends of America website and the article "The American Tradition of Thanksgiving", compiled and edited by Dave Alexander, 2017, offers a nice explanation of where the American Thanksgiving 'idea' began and how it evolved into the celebration as we know it today. I have condensed the information and put it into bulleted format. (

Events worth noting...

  • Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado held a Thanksgiving celebration in Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle in May of 1541.
  • A Thanksgiving get-together of French colonists occurred in Florida in June of 1564.
  • English settlers in Maine held a harvest feast in August of 1607.
  • Jamestown colonists celebrated the arrival of desperately needed food supplies in the spring of 1610.
  • Plymouth Pilgrims had a three-day feast in October of 1621.
  • In 1777, commander-in-chief George Washington designated December 18th as a day of "Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise".
  • This led to the Continental Congress' recommendation that all 13 colonies observe a day of thanksgiving.
  • In October 1789, the now President Washington, proclaimed November 26th as a day of national thanksgiving and prayer. It didn't catch on for a variety of political and social reasons.
  • In 1827, a woman named Sarah Hale (editor of Godey's Lady's Book), began writing essays that turned into a concerted letter-writing campaign in 1846 to establish the last Thursday in November as National Thanksgiving Day.
  • In 1863, her persistence paid off when a letter she sent to President Abraham Lincoln swayed him to set the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
painted by James Reid Lambdin (1807-1889), Sarah Hale portrait, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

  •     President Andrew Johnson changed Thanksgiving Day to the first Thursday in December.
  •     President Ulysses S. Grant went with the third Thursday in December.
  •     The Presidents who came after Grant embraced the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day...
until 1939.

  •     This is when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (with pressure from the National Retail Dry Goods Association) declared November 23rd as Thanksgiving Day. The motive was to extend the Christmas shopping season by an extra week.
    This wasn't a popular decision. In fact,

"November 23rd was] ...only followed by twenty three states. Twenty three others celebrated on November 30, and Texas and Colorado declared both Thursdays as holidays. This caused mass confusion from football schedules, to families not knowing when to have their holiday meals, or even sure when to start their Christmas shopping."

  •     Two years later, Congress and President Roosevelt would get this mess straightened out and the fourth Thursday in November officially became Thanksgiving Day. This took effect in 1942 and has remained as the American Thanksgiving Day ever since.

Personally, Thanksgiving occurs in what I call my 'thankful season." September through February are the months during which I recharge my inner batteries. I reassess what lies behind me. I look to the future in anticipation of experiences and discoveries yet to come as I travel my life's journey.
photo by algilas courtesy
During this time of year, the reclusive loner in me sheds her March through August "Get off my lawn!" growliness and embraces the joy and wonder of autumn colors, crisp morning air, cooler days becoming winter cold with the shorter nights, the sights and songs of Canadian Geese and Sandhill Cranes flying to wherever it is they'll spend the winter, smaller migrating birds stopping at my birdfeeder, foxes (and lamentably, skunks) coming in to help themselves to the food I keep out for feral cats, clear starry skies, and snow, prairie snow.

For me, the autumnal weeks of Halloween and Thanksgiving are heralds to the holiday spirit that arrives with the Christmas season. Then, winter sets in, and I'm at my physical and mental best during these darkest days of the year.

I think of this time of year as an extended thankful season, not just a day here and there for self-reflection and appreciation for what I have in my life. So, with that, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are and however you celebrate.

On a side note: I have experienced an ongoing struggle for several weeks with commenting and responding to comments on Blogger. If I am unable to respond to your comment, I will come back to this article and add comments in this area. Please check back, because I do read and respond to every comment, as I appreciate the time and interest you've taken to write a comment.

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
writing through history one romance upon a time

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018


By Kristy McCaffrey

This is the month in the U.S. where we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. It got me thinking about our connection to our ancestors.

Kinship with our ancestors can serve to ground us. In some cultures, bones of the deceased are revered and even worshiped as vessels of spirit. Today, we visit cemeteries of our loved ones to pay our respects, but we often remember our kin with altars—photographs and mementos that remind us of our connection to the past and to the Earth, remind us of blood that flows through us today.

In Australia, Aborigines believe that messages are relayed from ancestors while in the Dream state. In this way, sacred stories, songs, and rituals are transferred to the earthly plane from the realm of spirit. Robert Moss, a pioneer in active dreaming, states that our ability to receive information isn't restricted to our own ancestors but can also come from the place in which we live. The great ones of indigenous peoples may stay close to the earth and watch over it, seeking to share insights and wisdom to those 'in the vicinity.'

The wind that carried away your grandfather's last breath, gave it to a newborn wolf as its first breath of life. ~ Michio Hoshino

An ancestral connection can unlock great creative potential. Learning about where one came from might not only help in understanding family history, it can also lead to a rich collection of knowledge that can be fed into creative projects.

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live. ~ Irish proverb

May we honor those that have passed before us. We’re tied to them more than we can ever know.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kristy xoxo

Works Cited
Estés, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With The Wolves. Ballantine Books, 1992.

Moss, Robert. Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination, and Life Beyond Death. New World Library, 2010.

Connect with Kristy

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thanksgiving Traditions

It's November! And that means Thanksgiving is just around the corner. 

There’s just something about Thanksgiving. The food, of course, and getting the family together. I think every family in America has a few inviolable Thanksgiving traditions. I know we do.

For instance, when we were first married, we moved to Dallas and didn’t have any family close by. For Thanksgiving, Dan and I invited any fellow grad students who weren’t going home to come to our house for dinner and bring a traditional dish that you couldn’t imagine not having on the Thanksgiving table. We lit a fire and turned on the air conditioning—it was 75 in Dallas that year. We got to taste some good food that day and made some great friends.

Now that we live much closer to family, we each have a dish that is “ours.” My sister always makes deviled eggs and the sage dressing—she took those over from Mom. Dan and I brine and roast the turkey and make the green beans and cranberry sauce. My mother-in-law makes the mashed potatoes, my sisters-in-law bring sides and desserts and… well, you get the picture.

How about you? Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition you honor every year?

Thanksgiving, to me, is about home, so here’s a scene from WILD TEXAS HEARTS where Wolf and Cal finally get back home.

Wolf and Calvin topped the last rise, both eager to see their little house come into view at the end of the long valley. It had taken all of the week Wolf had predicted to get here, but tonight they would sleep in their own beds.
“There it is, Pa! We made it!”
He smiled at Cal’s enthusiasm. Though Wolf wouldn’t admit it to his young son, the ghosts had been riding him hard the past few days, visiting him in the darkness and daylight, reminding him of all his failures. His wife, beautiful, gentle Emily. She deserved so much more than to die because he hadn’t been there to protect her. And little Amanda, his baby girl, who shouldn’t have known the horror, the violence of men at such a tender age.
“We’ve still got the better part of an afternoon’s travel to get there, Cal. So keep moving.”
The sun was setting when they rounded the last bend. The little house looked the same, almost eerily so. The yard was swept of leaves and debris, the porch looked freshly swept and…
“Pa?” Calvin guided his little horse closer to his father’s side, fear and confusion in his voice. “There’s smoke comin’ from the chimney.”
Wolf had seen the wispy white trail more than an hour ago, but had convinced himself it was lack of sleep that had him imagining things. But if Cal could see it, it must be real.
Squatters. Someone low life had moved into their home. “Whoever it is, they won’t stay long once we get there. Get behind me, son.”
He checked the load in both revolvers and his shotgun before bumping his horse in the ribs. As they neared the house, he spotted the lazy freeloader, on the roof of the barn. What the hell was he doing up there? When Wolf saw fresh patches, he realized the squatter was fixing the holes.
That made no sense. All the squatters Wolf had encountered moved into an empty structure and made use of what was there until they were forced out again. He should know. He’d made use of his share of empty houses while he searched for his children.
But the evidence was before him. “This should be interesting,” he muttered. Motioning Cal out of sight, he slid a revolver free and rode up to the barn, stopping just out of the shelter of the eaves.
“What the hell are you doing to my barn?”
The intruder spun around, forgetting his precarious perch. Wolf spotted the flash of sun on a barrel, but before he could react, the man lost his footing, let out a squeal, and started sliding off the roof.
Wolf was moving almost before the realization hit. The curve of hip, the narrow waist. He snagged the falling body just short of the ground.
“Damn it. You’re a woman.”