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Thursday, January 31, 2019

New Release — The Legacy by Ann Markim

Pregnant and unwed, Anna Jorgesen is disowned by her parents and sent to America from her beloved Denmark and all she holds dear. With high hopes and plans to wed the father of her unborn child, Jorn Stryker, her heart is full of dreams. But Jorn greets her with little enthusiasm, and reluctantly agrees to marry Anna in order to be able to continue his business of helping young men emigrate to America—with her family’s help.

Jorn assigns a farm hand, Halvor Hansen, to look after Anna each year when he returns to Denmark for his next group of emigrants, and slowly, Halvor begins to fall in love with Anna. Could she ever return his love, or will she remain steadfastly loyal to her harsh husband, who seems to care nothing for her or his growing family?

Anna becomes more self-reliant as she grows into womanhood, and faces disappoints in her turbulent marriage to Jorn—until something happens that rips her world apart, changing her life in more ways than she would ever have believed. She is forced to make a painful decision, and though she feels she can live with the finality of it, that choice threatens to turn the entire town against her.

With the unforeseen, far-reaching consequences of the choice she makes, will everything be lost to her? Or will she be able to at last find happiness?


October 23, 1874

     Thankfully, I survived the Atlantic crossing and interminable train journey from New York to Cedar Falls. At times, I was so ill that I was not certain if I would live or die. On my eighteenth birthday, a downpour and constant jagged lightning kept me prisoner in my cabin. Throughout the day, squalls churned up colossal waves. The ship pitched from side to side, down and up with such force it flung me from my bed. I prayed that my death would be swift and painless when the vessel capsized.
     Throughout my journey, memories of being with Jorn in Denmark last summer kept me going.
     Despite the incessant sour smell of fermentation from Peder’s brewery, I feel much better after my four days in Cedar Falls. I am lucky that my brother has willingly taken me in. He sent word to Jorn that I am here.
     Peder says Jorn usually comes to town on Saturdays, so I expect he will call on me tomorrow. It seems like years since August, when he left me to return to America. I can hardly wait to see him, and I am sure he is eager to see me, too. I had so wanted to wear something pretty for him, but all my garments have been packed in trunks for so long that they are creased beyond help.
     That is a small thing, as we have our wedding to plan, and I hope he will show me his vast farm, which he described so proudly when he told me of his life in Iowa. Many times, I have imagined what his house looks like, since I am soon to become its mistress. I wonder how many servants we shall have. Probably quite a few, since he has helped so many people emigrate from Denmark.
     Oh, Jorn. Your Special Girl is here and ready to begin our life together.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book review: Outlaw Heart by Tanya Hanson



When ex-outlaw Bronx Sanderson arrives in Leadville, Colorado, he has plans to make a new start and put his past behind him. But right away, he meets flame-haired Lila Brewster, a beautiful widow who reminds him of someone from the past he’s trying to forget.

Lila does so much for everyone else at the mission she and her late husband, Emmett, started, she has no time to think of her own wishes. It comes as quite a surprise when she finds herself attracted to Bronx Sanderson—especially since she’s vowed in her heart to keep the mission—and her preacher husband’s memory—alive.

With advice from Doc Holliday and a meddlesome landlady, can Bronx and Lila make their own future? When a Pinkerton detective shows up, Bronx is between a rock and a hard place—but he’s determined to quit running. Lila’s domineering brother-in-law also arrives in Leadville to try to force her to marry him. If Bronx is arrested, what choice will Lila have?

My review:

Outlaw Heart shares the sweet story of Bronx and Lila finding themselves, as well as each other, when life looks bleak. Themes of forgiveness, acceptance, and restoration are shared throughout.

Lila has a heart of gold and unconditional love for the outcasts. She also carries multiple heavy burdens given to her by her late husband, all of which she learns to come to terms with. Bronx has a desire to rebuild his life and fix past transgressions, but struggles with feeling lost and overwhelmed. When Lila and Bronx meet, they both struggle with the instant connection, and despite the burdens and worries and fears, still can't help but reach out to each other.

With some help from unlikely sources and some surprises mixed into the multiple uncertainties, Bronx and Lila prove what strength and beauty and faith they have in themselves and each other, delivering a sweet and much deserved happily ever after.

Purchase link:

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Book Review: Valentine Angel by Gail L Jenner



Jake Morris is a lawman, but—wounded and near dead—his survival depends upon Mary Hastings who discovers him half-hidden in her family’s woodshed. Practical, determined Mary nurses him back to health. But danger is not far off; the outlaw who wounded him has continued to pursue him, and now threatens both Mary and her sister, as well. More than just an intriguing and attractive woman, Mary becomes the Valentine Angel who not only helped heal Jake’s body, but also helped heal his heart.

My review:

Mary and her sister, Sarah, have their hands full when they discover a wounded man in their shed. Mary quickly shows the strength and resourcefulness of her character by taking charge and taking care of the wounded sherrif. She's definitely no nonsense, and hasn't fully given up on her dream of her own hea.

Jake was wounded by a outlaw he was tracking, and somehow managed to make it to a safe spot where he could find help and healing. And not just help and healing for recovering from the gunshots, but he also found healing for his heart. He was man enough to accept help, and man enough to claim his woman! Who wouldn't want to be his angel?

This is a cute little valentine story to spend an hour getting lost in.

Purchase link:

Friday, January 25, 2019

Book review: A Kiss in Time by Lorrie Farrelly



Texas Ranger Colin Carter owes his life to a girl who appeared out of nowhere to save him. His gratitude quickly turns to passion, and Cady Corcoran loses her heart to him in return. Now all that stands in their way is time: Colin was killed 25 years before Cady was born. Will these two star-crossed lovers ever have Time on their side?

My review: 

Eek! This little short story delivered some sweet goodness in an explosive little package.

Suspend belief and imagine a dream world where you know the history and feel connected to it, and then realize... You're not dreaming, but living your dream.

Cady and Collin's love story swept me away with its charm and sweet. And those kisses? Whew, I was glad I had a fan on! It's a great little story to escape into.

Oh, and can we just keep starin' at that cover for a while!?  I stinkin' LOVE it!!

Purchase links:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Surviving Winter: Now and Then

It's mid January here in Chicago, the temperature has dipped to something-teen and we're digging out from a snowstorm. I'm tired of winter already. But when I go inside my house with central heating I can forget about it for a while. Also if I have to go anywhere, I have a car which also has heat. In the event I'm running low on food, I can take my warm car to the supermarket where someone has thoughtfully loaded shelves with food I can select and take home. So, I have the luxury of escaping the cold. Survival is more a matter of keeping up my spirits.
But what about the peoples who had to live through winters on the frontier? Keeping warm and planning ahead was a matter of survival. How did they do it?

Some of the Native Americans picked up and moved to more hospitable winter locations--like some retirees today. For the Plains Indians this meant moving the tipis. At a first glance, the tipi doesn't look like a thing you'd want to hole up in for the winter, but in actuality they were quite cozy. The buffalo hide is an excellent barrier to the wind (It worked for the buffalo too.), and the openings at the ground and hole at the top create an updraft for the fire blazing in the middle. Inhabitants slept together under buffalo robes to share body heat.

Indian camp in winter

Not always as weather resistant was the frontier cabin, could be drafty by comparison.  If you were lucky enough to live in a sod house (and that's not a sentence I'll probably ever use again), you'd have the advantage of being better insulated from the cold. But, in either case the frontiersmen tended to build small one or two room cabins, which are easier to keep heated by a fire or stove. Families gathered together in front of the fire to wait out winter evenings. Some of these cabins had sleeping lofts for the children, and heat rises so it would be warmer up there. The children would bundle up in one or two beds under layers of quilts and blankets.

Togetherness in a frontier cabin, Iowa. 

Means to transport the heat from the fire to help warm beds, or to make the carriage ride more pleasant were developed. We've all seen the long handled bed warmer that was filled with hot rocks and slid under the covers. Similarly, metal boxes fitted into a wood frame or heated soapstone wrapped in rags were used as foot warmers in bed and in the carriages.

Ride in a one-horse open sleigh, brrrr. (oil painting by Cornelius Krieghoff)

One common winter survival trait to both Native American or settler families: togetherness. In modern times we have central heating, but that also allows family members to retreat to separate rooms in the house. I wouldn't trade my modern comforts, but I do wonder what we gained and what we've lost. How different would family life be? Would such togetherness bring everyone closer under trying times bring us closer? Or would the lack of privacy and personal space wear everyone out? Would they even been aware of such concepts?
What do you think? Can you picture you and your family hunkering down together in an isolated, one-room cabin?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Book review: Found Hearts by Cheryl Pierson



Southern belle Evie Fremont has lost everything—except hope. When she answers an advertisement for marriage to Alex Cameron who lives in the wilds of Indian Territory, she has few illusions that he could be a man she might fall in love with—especially as his secrets begin to unfold.

Ex-Confederate soldier Alex Cameron needs a mother for his two young half-Cherokee sons more than he needs a wife—or so he tells himself. But when his past threatens his future on his wedding day, he and Evie are both forced to acknowledge their new love has come to stay—along with their FOUND HEARTS.

My Review:

Alex and Evie are two lost hearts searching for that special someone to make their heart whole, without even realizing it. Alex just thinks of finding a mother for his two boys and Evie is just looking for a safe home. Putting blind trust in the other, Evie comes to Alex as a mail order bride. Learning to communicate deeply and fully with the other lead to them being vulnerable and letting their hearts connect. This is an insta-love quicky story that provides all the feel goods. Throw in a little danger and some motherly wisdom and you got yourself a story that packs a little punch.

Purchase Link:

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Original White House Cookbook

Cold Mondays always make me think of soup. And cooking. I want to share a really cool research book I discovered several years ago. 

A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home,
Mrs. P.L. Gillette & Steward of the White House Mr. Hugo Ziemann, 1887

To the
Wives of Our Presidents,
Those Noble Women who have
Graced the White House,
And whose Names and Memories
Are dear to all Americans,
This Volume
Is affectionately dedicated

The Original White House Cook Book has a wealth of information that isn’t restricted to a single locale, a single setting in our history. There are complete menus showing family dinners or how a fancy dinner was put together in the late nineteenth century in America; dyeing or coloring cloth--and eyebrows; how to repair a hole in a silk gown; even table etiquette.

Here’s an example. General Grant’s Birthday Dinner started with clams, went to Consomme Imperatrice Bisque de Crabes (crab bisque), then to a variety of hors d’oeuvres, followed by trout, mushrooms, filet of beef… and then they got to the entrees! They served chicken and veal with green beans and asparagus, followed by sorbet to cleanse the pallet. Next came squab and salad, then fruits and pastries. The meal ended with glace, or glazed fruit, petit fours and coffee.

The book includes the seating arrangements for a dinner when the President was in attendance, how glassware should be arranged on the tables, even what to put in the ladies’ corsages and the men’s boutonnieres.

Toward the back of the volume is a section dedicated to caring for those who visit the White House; how colds are caught; how to clean black lace; and how to render muslin clothing less likely to catch fire. In the author’s words: “Remember this and save the lives of your children.”

You can even learn how to make Rose Water or Bay Rum, Cold Cream or Hair Invigorator. Or my particular favorite, how to remove freckles. And no, I haven’t tried it yet - but I might.

This is a fun book with a wealth of helpful information. For example, if your heroine is a mail-order bride who grew up working in a wealthy household, you can find what kinds of skills she might have learned in this book.

THE ORIGINAL WHITE HOUSE COOKBOOK 1887 Edition, Mrs. P.L. Gillette & Steward of the White House Mr. Hugo Ziemann 

Have you discovered a research book that you feel is exceptional? Share it, please.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Book reviews for River’s Bend by Tracy Garrett

I was delighted to discover Tracy Garrett's fictional world of River's Bend MO and how many of her books are all connected around the town.  And while there's no specific series order, the three stories showcased below initially bring the world to life.



Two sweet River's Bend Stories

Wanted: The Sheriff --- Martha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend.

No Less Than Forever --- Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back. Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor.

My Review:

This is a charming duo of stories based out of River's Bend, both quick, easy reads. Tracy Garrett excelled at capturing my curiosity with the secondary characters as well, leaving me delighted that there's more stories from River's Bend to discover.

Wanted: The Sheriff
Martha and Matthew's story quickly grabbed my attention and kept me hooked in their story, even though I wasn't fully intending on starting it right at that second! But once I got started, I didn't want to stop! Matthew's the town sheriff and was quite an attractive mix of manly-lawman and considerate-gentleman. Martha was a charming mix of innocent and brazen - just enough to keep Matthew on his toes around her. Watching their dance to fall in love left me smiling sweet.

No Less than Forever
We first meet Franz and Rebekah in the previous story and you can tell right away that there is something special between them. Rebekah's past breaks your heart, but she proves there's strength behind her vulnerability as she heals both physically and emotionally. Franz is the ideal man for her, with his compassion, his gentleness, his understanding, and his attention. Their journey to their hea is filled with heartache, but then turns a corner and gifts you with a quiet beauty all its own.


And for Valentines day, we'll meet up with Matthew's friend Jericho and his woman, Mary.


When a man who believes he’ll never have a home and family…

Former U.S. Marshal Jericho Hawken should have been shepherding a wagon train to new territory, but he unwillingly left them vulnerable to a vicious raider. The murder of the settlers he was supposed to be guarding is the hardest thing he’s ever had to face…until he meets the sister of one of the settlers.

…finds a woman who has lost everything…

Instead of a joyous reunion with her brother, Maryland Henry has come to River’s Bend to take responsibility for her three orphaned nieces. Fired from her teaching position and with no other family on whom to rely, Mary believes Jericho Hawken is responsible for all her woes. Or is he what she’s been searching for all along?

It takes a lot of forgiveness and a few fireworks to realize that together their dreams can come true.

My Review:

Oh! Another River's Bend novella!! I'm lovin' this world Tracy Garrett has built around the little town of River's Bend Missouri. With each story I find, it's like getting to revisit a charming little town and enjoying every moment!

This time, we get to meet Mary, who's struggling through her grief of losing a huge part of her family who she was depending on to reconnect with and settle down by. But now she faces having to raise his three orphaned daughters - and then keep pushing through as her world continues to crumble around her. Needless to say, her struggles and attitude makes your heart hurt for her.

Jericho is dealing with some demons from his past, and then not so recent past. So when he crosses paths with Mary, there's quite a few snaps, crackles, and pops to maneuver through. But Jericho isn't one to shy from a challenge or do what's right, even if it's hard... especially when he's trying to put at least one of those demons to rest. He's human like everyone else, but has a heart of gold.

I was swept away in their story and loved watching them travel the path of forgiveness and determination to make it to their happily ever after. These two definitely needed each other, and the family they created with the three girls. My heart was happy-sighin' by the end.


Her Sanctuary is the full length novel for River's Bend, and I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with everyone and fallin' in love with a new couple.

Purchase Links:


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Gambling with Love by Kaye Spencer - January #blogabookscene #prairierosepubs #westernromance

The blog-a-book-scene theme for January is Baby, It's Cold Outside. Here is teaser from my western romance Gambling with Love, which is set in Wyoming and Colorado in the spring of 1883.

Deputy Federal Marshal Nick Foster is on the trail of gambler Lainie Conrad, a woman wanted for murder, and has finally caught up with her at a hotel during a spring blizzard. They have a history...


Taking the stairs to the second-floor hallway, Nick let himself into Lainie’s room. Low light glowed from the oil lamp on the bedside table, and fire burned in the parlor stove near the bed, neither of which surprised him. Lainie liked to be comfortable, and paying to have a warm, lighted room awaiting her arrival was something she would do.

Stowing his gear and coat in a corner, he looked the room over. Apparently, she was traveling light nowadays. Her steamer trunks and portmanteau were missing. It looked like she was living out of a couple of oversized leather bags. For as fastidious in her dress and grooming as she was, that wasn’t like her, which made him wonder what she was up to.

Nick added another piece of wood and a shovelful of coal to the stove, grateful to be inside after riding three hours through the raging blue norther that, right now, was doing its damnedest to batter down the building with gusts of howling wind that rattled windowpanes and slammed loose shutters. He looped his gun belt over a bedpost within easy grasp, stretched out on the bed, situated his hat on the off-hand side, and slipped a set of handcuffs beneath it. He’d give her a chance to come with him of her own accord, but knowing Lainie… Well, she wasn’t getting away so easily this time.

While he waited, it felt good to let the weariness of the trail ease from his bones. Minutes later, the doorknob grated, and the door opened. That she didn’t use her key told him she knew he was waiting for her. It was her gambler’s nature; she noticed every little detail.

She paused at the threshold, coffee pot in hand, and the trim line of her figure silhouetted for a moment against the dim yellow hallway light before she stepped into the room, closed and locked the door. Crossing the few steps to the stove, she situated the coffee pot on the flat top, and placed a coffee cup, the room key, along with her reticule, on the table. Taking her time, and seemingly oblivious to his presence, she removed her short-waisted jacket, draped it over a chair back, and sashayed to the bed.

Lamp light shadows played off her swept-up golden tresses, and visions of their last night together in New Orleans seized him. Right then, he hated himself for how shamelessly he still loved her.

“You can only imagine my extreme disappointment when I saw you standing on the stairs. All this time I’d hoped you were dead.”

The teasing welcome in her tone belied her harsh words, and a warm rush of missing her made it hard to keep a clear head with a churning den of rattlers twisting around in his belly. He’d never loved a woman before Lainie waltzed into his life, and even though she’d run out on him almost as quickly as she’d arrived, there was no room in his heart for another woman. There never would be.

“Your aim was off. It was just a graze, but it rang my bell and bled like hell.” There wasn’t enough light for her to see it, but he turned his head and pointed to the scar that began at his right temple and ended over his ear.

“Why are you assuming my aim was off? By your own admission, it did knock you out, which was the object of my intent, I’ll have you know.”

Nick cocked an eyebrow, mocking her. “So, you’re a sharpshooter?”

He loved the lyrical lilt of her laughter, and she laughed now. “Next time you use that little parlor gun of yours, make sure you’re close enough to cram it right into the poor chump’s belly when you pull the trigger. You still might not kill him, but you’ll increase your chances of slowing him down, that’s for sure.”

“Why, thank you so much for the advice. However, in my defense, if you hadn’t tried to disarm me, I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger. It was your own fault that I shot you. Your ultimatum left me no choice, but to demonstrate the sincerity of my convictions.”

 Her voice dripped of syrupy sweet sarcasm.

Nick remembered all too well. “Are you planning on shooting me again?”

A grin played at the corners of her lips. “That depends upon your intentions toward my virtue.” Lainie busied herself with adjusting the lamp wick until she was satisfied with the glow.

Her subtle jasmine fragrance made it difficult to keep his hands to himself. “You know my intentions toward your virtue have never been honorable.”

Gambling with Love is available on

Print | eBook | Kindle Unlimited

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Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
Writing through history one romance upon a time

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Mina Hubbard: The Woman Who Charted the Last American Wilderness

By Kristy McCaffrey

Mina Benson Hubbard, A winter picnic ca. 1901
(courtesy of Betty Cawkill Ellis)
In 1903, Mina Hubbard’s husband, Leonidas, died from starvation while trying to be the first non-native to trek across the interior of Labrador, at the time one of the last unmapped areas of North America. The other members of his expedition—Dillon Wallace, a portly middle-aged lawyer, and George Elson, a half-Scot, half-Cree guide—had left him alone while going for help.

Mina was devastated. When she encouraged Wallace to pen a book to memorialize her husband, her grief soon turned to outrage. Wallace portrayed her husband as an ill-prepared amateur, and he planned to finish the unsuccessful mission. Mina decided to reclaim her husband’s honor by completing the trip herself. When the press caught wind of the competition, the idea that a woman would attempt such a thing was truly scandalous.

While her husband’s expedition had been poorly planned, Mina prepared herself by learning mapping skills, investigating supplies and equipment, and consulting with men who had already traveled into parts of Labrador. She also persuaded George Elson to accompany her, as well as hiring three additional part-native guides.

Both Mina and Wallace launched their trips in June 1905. Not only was it outrageous for a woman to lead an expedition at the turn of the 20th century, she would also spend months alone in the wilderness with four men. Mina chafed over their protectiveness and would occasionally journey on her own, worrying them to no end. “They said to me they never were on a trip before where the women didn’t do what they were told,” wrote Hubbard.

Mina Hubbard and three men around campfire, 1905.
(Coll-241, Archives & Special Collections, Memorial University, Canada)

Despite the racial and gender differences, Mina and her team became close over the next two months. They navigated raging rivers, scaled boulders, and suffered intense clouds of mosquitos and black flies. Mina surveyed the land, took latitude readings and snapped photographs, as well as naming rivers and rapids. She also made contact with the Naskapi Indians.

Wallace’s team had taken a different route and were plagued with poor navigation and disasters. They completed their trek six weeks after Mina Hubbard. The ensuing headlines made Mina famous.

In the end, however, questions remained over how a humble and farm-raised girl from Ohio could travel more than 550 miles in the rugged wilderness, and she was dogged with rumors that she had had an illicit affair with George Elson.

Several years after the journey, Mina married the scion of a coal-mining fortune and settled in an English mansion. She never undertook another expedition. She died at the age of 86 by walking in front of an oncoming train, and some speculate that it had been on purpose.

Connect with Kristy

Monday, January 7, 2019

Butte and the Copper King Mansion


In August, 2012, two girlfriends and I took a road trip to Butte, Montana, for no particular reason except to go on a mini-holiday. I’d never been to Montana and at the time was considering locations for another book. I’ve been fortunate to have visited all the settings of my books so I could familiarize myself with flora and fauna and the scenery. Well, I am once again hunting for a location for my current wip, which has to be set in the western United States. I’d love to use Texas or Colorado or Wyoming but have only seen them in western movies, not the same as actually being there. Then I remembered I’d taken dozens of photos on the trip to Butte and problem solved (gulp), I hope. 

Butte is situated in a wide, natural bowl surrounded by bluffs in the northern Rocky Mountains of Montana. This Silver Bow Creek area was the hunting and fishing area for the native Salish people and its name originates from the Salish “Sin-tahp-kay-Sntapqey” meaning: Place Where Something Is Shot In The Head. 

Butte, Montana, is an amazing city that began as a silver and gold mining camp in the late 1860s but became most famous for its huge natural stores of copper. In 1888 alone, mining operations generated $23 million, a huge sum for the times (equivalent to over $640 million in today’s money). The lure of gold and silver brought miners and fortune seekers from all over the world and Butte soon became a melting pot of European nationalities, culture, and food. In just two decades Butte became the largest city between Chicago and San Francisco. 

As we explored Butte via car and guided tours, that mix of nationalities was still evident as some areas clung to their ethnic roots. Back in the day, gangs formed ethnic groups to preserve their traditions and to date, Butte has the highest percentage of Irish Americans in the United States. Some of the foods popular with the miners were easily taken with them for a cold meal underground, such as povitica, a Slavic nut bread pastry, a boneless pork chop sandwich, Scandinavian lefse and baked foods made with the readily-available huckleberry, the latter made into jam and available for purchase at several tourists spots we visited. 

I was so impressed how devoted Butte citizens are in preserving their history and historic buildings, proven by the fact that in 2002 Butte was one of only twelve towns in America to be named a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. To me, Butte is literally a photo album of elegant home and buildings mingling with old buildings sagging on tired feet, proudly showing all their cracks and peeling paint. For two nights we stayed in a hundred-year-old elegant hotel, toured a century-old jail and an abandoned state prison that made me shudder for the miscreants, some underground tours, and the infamous Berkley Pit. A tour on an old trolley took us past beautiful elegant Victorians including the famous Copper King Mansion where we spent the last night of our visit. We also visited the statue of Mary, Our Lady of the Rockies, who overlooks Butte and protects its inhabitants. (sorry for the poor was taken from afar.

Any town that grows too fast and lawless also invites the risk of earning a reputation of “anything goes”. Saloons and bordellos sprang up like weeds. The red light district flourished on Mercury Street with elegant or shoddy bordellos and cribs on Venus Alley. During our tour of Butte, we passed the famous Dumas Brothel and planned to visit it, but the only free time we had left led to disappointment because the brothel wasn’t open for tours. This infamous district was popular with not just the miners, but welcomed visitors from all over the territory and stayed operational until circa 1982. 

Fortunes were made in the mining of copper, an important component in electrical power—as a result, Butte became the largest producer of copper in North America. And thus the legend of the Copper Kings was born. Three tycoons jockeyed for power in Butte in the 1880s. The rivalry between William A. Clark, Marcus Daly, and F. Augustus Heinze became heated in their bid for power. Clark and Daly each established their own newspaper to help influence their political agendas with the miners and the general population. Clark had studied law in his early years, then traveled to Colorado to mine for gold, invested his gold and eventually amassed a fortune through his copper mines, railroads, and newspapers. 

It took William Clark four years to build his elegant red brick mansion (1884-1888), which is beautifully preserved (restored in 2011) and the large, airy rooms are filled with exquisite woodwork, stained glass, antiques, paintings, and bric-a-brac. The mansion had remained unoccupied for many years when William Clark left to again live in New York in 1999, where he built two mansions. The Copper King Mansion is now a bed and breakfast and is open for daily tours to help maintain its upkeep. We spent the final night of our vacation there (but encountered nary a ghost) and enjoyed a lovely, elegant breakfast. The only drawback was we had to remove all traces of our occupancy during the public tour. Of course, I took lots of interior pictures, far too many to include here. 

This wealthy magnate created a retreat for families and their children to enjoy a bit of life away from the mines by purchasing the Columbia Gardens and developing it into an amusement park, complete with a pavilion, rollercoaster and a lake for swimming and boating. Two Boston investors and a wealthy miner formed the Boston and Montana Marching Band to add to the entertainment of the community. With all these amenities, Butte earned the rank of the first mining camp of the world and for a time became Montana’s most populated city. It also became known as “the richest hill on earth” because of the copper, silver and gold mined there. 

There is a treasure trove of information about Butte’s mining history, which is too voluminous to get into here, but I have to touch on The Berkely Pit, which, to coin a favorite English adjective of mine….had me gobsmacked! This pit is HUGE. It’s one mile long and a half mile wide and 1780 feet deep. Absolutely boggles my mind, hence the adjective. The phrase, “the pit is a giant bathtub” is an excellent description. It’s hard to wrap my head around 7,000,000 US gallons of treated water per day being discharged from the Berkely Pit into Silver Bow Creek just to keep the pit water from contaminating the groundwater. Great safety measures are in place to protect birds and wildlife from this contaminated site because this lake is toxic to birds, animals, and humans. 

“From 1880 through 2005, the mines of the Butte district have produced more than 9.6 million metric tons of copper, 2.1 million metric tons of zinc, 1.6 million metric tons of manganese, 381,000 metric tons of lead, 87,000 metric tons of molybdenum, 715 million troy ounces (22,200 metric tons) of silver, and 2.9 million ounces (90 metric tons) of gold." After the closure of the Berkeley Pit mining operations in 1982, pipes which pumped groundwater out of the pit were turned off, resulting in the pit slowly filling with groundwater, creating an artificial lake. Only two years later the pit was classified as a Superfund site and an environmental hazard site. The water in the pit is contaminated with various hard metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, and zinc.” 

The usually big blue sky that Montana is famous for was hazy the entire time of our stay from the numerous area forest fires, which helped temper the usual August prairie heat. Butte is an amazing city, full of history and beautifully restored buildings as well as ones showing their wrinkled, worn faces. There are so many places to visit, especially The World Museum of Mining, which is a fabulous recreation of a mining town with dozens of historic buildings. 
     Easily plan an entire afternoon for that stroll through history and peek through all the windows. This is one of the many buildings in the park...a lady of the evening gazing out her window

Mary, Our Lady Of The Rockies stands on The Continental Divide and watched over Butte, and is well worth a little side trip. In a nearby town, we also visited a car museum (sorry I can’t recall the name of the town) that has an abandoned state prison open to the public and nearby is the most amazing collection of vintage cars. If you are planning a trip to Montana, definitely pencil in a few days to explore Butte, a visual feast for the eyes of any history buff. I’d go again in a heartbeat and stay longer, especially in the awesome Copper King Mansion. Hmmm, I believe there’s another story idea there…. 

I would love to hear from anyone who has visited Butte, or had an interesting experience exploring an area rich with history. There are so many fascinating, historic places that I don’t think a person can live long enough to explore them all. 

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Posted by Elizabeth Clements 
Labels: Elizabeth Clements Butte Montana Copper Kings Copper King Mansion

Sunday, January 6, 2019

INTENTIONS; OR HOW I PLAN TO SPEND 2019 #writing #goals #resolutions

The “First Ladies of the Pikes Peak Region” blog posts will return in February. 

With the New Year upon us, I wanted to take the time to talk about where I/we plan to travel these next twelve months.

Most people around this time of year will make resolutions or set goals. For myself, I prefer the word intention. Intention to me is less strict or more fluid if you would prefer. If you look online for the definition of intention, you will find it is a thing intended; and aim or plan. The nice thing about intentions is they can change. By using the word intention I don't feel I need to put myself down when I don't succeed, yet it is strong enough to keep me going.

My intentions for the last two years, at least in terms of my writing, have been to write a novel and a short story. Since I work outside the home at a day job, although not full time throughout the year, it does cut into the my writing time. So how do I feel about what I’ve done so far? Not too badly. I credit my Thursday night writing group, the discipline and the support pf the other writers, with a lot of what I've been able to accomplish. And yes, I did complete a novel and short story. The short story, 'The Homestead' appeared in the Western Fictioneers anthology "The Untamed West". But for 2019 I feel like I wish to accomplish more.

So what is my intent and how shall I accomplish it? Ultimately it's still the same, to write a novel and a short story a year. But I also wish to start sharing some of my historic research to the nonfiction readers. I do a lot of that with blog post, but to a certain extent that's a limited audience. To reach a wider range of readers will require my reaching out to publications that are interested in the history that I research.

Yes, I have done four scholarly papers for our library district. Two have been published in the regional history books, and two more are awaiting a decision. But again that's a limited audience, and the publications not one the general public reads.

So, for those who want to know, this year the intent is to write a certain number of words at least five days a week, with the cumulative amount due at the end of seven days. This does not include blog writing or article writing, only the fiction writing.

To guide me on this journey I look to other authors, deep thinkers, and visual stimulation. Perhaps some of my favorite quotes may help you also.

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow
until the faucet is turned on. - Louis L’Amour

Your going to be someone favorite author.

Just write everyday of your life. Read intensely. Then see
what happens. Most of my friends who have been put
on that diet have very pleasant careers. - Ray Bradbury

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live. I wouldn’t
brood. I’d type a little faster. - Isaac Asimov

What are your intents, goals or resolutions for the coming year? And of course if you take this writer's journey, there is also the business side, but that's for another blog.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


A writer without a library is like a warrior without a sword. Libraries have been a sacred haven for most of us since childhood. But historically, libraries did not exist except for the wealthy or well connected. Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Benjamin Franklin who founded the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731, the first lending library and predecessor of the free public library. Supported by United States taxes, the Boston Public library was established in 1848 as a free public library and opened to the public in 1854.

Benjamin Franklin

Librarians and Library Paraprofessionals are civil servants governed by a board to serve the public interest.

Free services are provided to the public such as story times for children to promote early literacy, also libraries are a place for quiet study, with work areas for students and professionals, and book clubs to encourage reading literature for adults.

Typically, the libraries lend borrowers books, other materials such as popular newspapers and periodicals, and CD’s as well as videos for a certain period of time. All that is needed is a library card to access whatever a public library has to offer. Library cards are free and easy to obtain. If a borrower goes beyond the determined period of time, they must pay a small late fee.

In recent times libraries have evolved to include time on computers and the internet and 91% of libraries offer free wireless internet. The librarians teach people how to use computers and help people access the internet and assist with e-government services on local, state, and federal levels with documents, information forms, and services.  This addition of technology for free to the public has been a great help to people applying for jobs or services on line. Libraries even give classes for free to the public to help them learn not only computer skills, but also to teach literacy. Today, two-thirds of all libraries offer the lending of e-books.

There are special books offered through the Reader’s Advisory Services such as large print books and Braille materials. Also, if a particular library doesn’t have a book, they can get that book from another library for anyone who asks for it through inter-library loans.

For the privacy of patrons, any materials they check out is private with no fear it will be revealed later even if it is controversial or embarrassing. Good news for writers who might be researching this information for their work, right?
Libraries provide rooms for classes, meeting places, or to function as community centers or for reading, study, and formal as well as informal meetings. I took some classes at the library on writing newspaper articles and proposals to news editors.

Here is something I did not know, but it certainly makes sense: Public libraries are the guardians of the First Amendment to the Constitution—the right to freedom of speech and information.

Andrew Carnegie

Here’s an interesting fact: In 1898 Andrew Carnegie built a library in Homestead, Pennsylvania that not only loaned books, but had a bowling alley, an indoor swimming pool, basketball courts and other athletic facilities, as well as a music hall, and numerous rooms for local organizations. Wow! I’d like to see that. 

Carnegie's Library in Homestead, Pennsylvania

He is responsible for the widespread establishment of free public libraries all over the United States of America. He was a Scottish-American industrialist who believed strongly in public libraries and uplifting the knowledge of all people. Here is a famous quote by Andrew Carnegie about his support in free public libraries:

Libraries also provide free lectures, events, and cultural performances.
Some libraries keep historical documents specific to their locale and serve as a resource for historians. Urban libraries have collections of photographs and digital images.

Here is something else I didn’t know, but certainly shows the care and concern library officials have established for citizens: sensory story times which have ways of processing information with particular consideration to autistic patrons who are concrete thinkers. They also consider those who have sensitive issues to things like fluorescent lighting or ambient noise from other patrons. I had no idea such considerations were in place.

Most of us know about mobile libraries especially in the summer months when school is out in order to promote literacy and learning, but those mobile libraries can also include not only buses, but pack animals like donkeys to reach into remote areas.

The Children's Section of Plaza-Midwood Library in Charlotte, North Carolina

For a time many of us were concerned for the future of libraries when many libraries were shutting down in some communities, mostly due to the lack of funding. But the spirit of Ben Franklin lives on. Citizens rose up to defend our libraries, signed petitions, made donations, volunteered, and pressed the government to keep our free public libraries. As a consequence libraries evolved to accommodate a more modern and technological age. I was fortunate that my community library, the Plaza-Midwood Public Library survived. They now offer digital books and wireless service and free internet access. They update me about events and new services through emails. This library is where I registered to vote. Now what’s more American than that?

Did the libraries where you live shut down? What is the name of your favorite Library? Has your library changed with the times? Does it offer digital books and internet? Is there a service you wish your library offered, but doesn’t?