Submission Guidelines Galway Press is Oghma Creative Mediaâ€™s western imprint, and Saddlebag Dispatches is our quarterly e-magazine. We are looking for short stories, serial novels, poetry, and non-fiction articles about the west. These will have themes of open country, unforgiving nature, struggles to survive and settle the land, freedom from authority, cooperation with fellow adventurers, and other experiences that human beings encounter in the frontier. Traditional westerns are set left of the Mississippi River and between the end of the American Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century. But the western is not limited to that time. The essence, though, is openness and struggle. These are happening now as much as they were in the years gone by. Query letter: Put this in the e-mail message: In the first paragraph, give the title of the work, and specify whether it is fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. If the latter, give the subject. The second paragraph should be a biography under two hundred words. Manuscript formatting: All documents must be in Times New Roman, twelve-point font, double spaced, with one inch margins all around. Do not include extra space between paragraphs. Do not write in all caps, and avoid excessive use of italics, bold, and exclamation marks. Files must be in .doc format. Submit the entire and complete fiction or poetry manuscript. We will consider proposals for non-fiction articles. Other attachments: Please also submit a picture of yourself and any pictures related to your manuscript. Manuscripts will be edited for grammar and spelling. Submit to email@example.com. Put Saddlebag in the subject line.
CONTENTS T h e Ra n g ing Shot
D ispatc hes
Saturday Night Bushwhack J. B. Ho ga n
Many Lives, Many Horses, Many Mines Nan c y B u r g e ss
Last Ride To Devilâ€™s Hole Velda B ro t h e r ton
The Campfire Max O l i ve r
She-Devil Justice Tammy H i n t o n
Vengeance or Redemtion B. J. Mc M i n n
Into The Sunset
Hang Tig ht, Cow b oy
17 20 41 53 55 61
The Passing of No. Sixteen Ro d M iller
The Adobe Go r d o n L . Ro t t m an
Out of A Job, Not Earning A Dime Dus t y Rich a r d s
8 47 65
t the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner presented a paper titled, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” He was a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin and later at Harvard. The essay starts by quoting a report from the Superintendent of the Census in 1890 acknowledging that the frontier effectively no longer existed. Turner’s thesis is that the frontier was the defining characteristic of American life. Our center of gravity was always beyond the western edge of settlement and civilization. This may seem strange to modern ears, given the many obsessions of our current political environment, but what Turner argues offers us one of those clarifying moments when everything falls into place. The concept here is that America was founded on the principle that people could always venture forth into the wilderness, live according to their own rules, help their friends and fight their enemies, engage in the struggle of nature, and seize for themselves what Teddy Roosevelt called the strenuous life. And that is the essence of the western. It is the story of who we are, who we have been, and who we hope to be. So what are we looking for at Saddlebag Dispatches? We want everything to do with the west. That means anything on the opposite side of the Mississippi River from New York City, both in terms of geography and attitude. You may write about any
time between the making of Clovis-pointed spears to fracking, but the article, story, or poem must be in keeping with the frontier spirit. Show us the struggle, show us the freedom, show us the triumph and tragedy of life beyond the boundaries of the settled and the predictable. If you write non-fiction, check your facts, send pictures, if you have any, and teach us something we did not know about the west. Poetry should echo the language and the land. In fiction, we want stories that are driven by characters, rather than one damned thing after another happening on the edge of a cliff, and those characters should be people we can believe in, even if we would be surprised to meet them. And as a favor to the editors, please proofread before sending. This first issue of Saddlebag Dispatches will give you a good idea of what we are after. Give it a read, then send your piece to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a short bit about who you are and a picture of yourself. If you have a book that you would like our readers to know about, send us the information about that as well. Contributors get an advertisement gratis. If you just want to advertise with us, we can talk terms about that. So welcome to Saddlebag Dispatches. Keep your powder dry, your ink wet, and your coffee ready for a friendly stranger riding up to your campfire.
Foster Hits The Mark in Ridgeline
t was called soldier’s heart at the time, not PTSD as we know it today, but veterans of the Civil War came back from the fighting with as many painful memories as warriors in any conflict endure. Pamela Foster’s novel, Ridgeline, tells the story of Jeremiah Jones, a saddlebag preacher and ex-Confederate infantryman who carries with him the ghosts of men he killed and the memory of watching the woman he loved poison herself to escape her abusive husband. He proclaims the Word of the Lord— though he no longer believes that God to be just—and revels in the floodtide of sensation and adrenaline brought about through sin and violence that, while not often sought, is rarely denied. In the course of his travels, Jeremiah rescues a young woman, Adeline, from a whorehouse and the leering eye of Brett James, cousin of the famous out-
law. Adeline’s parents are dead, and she is entering adulthood alone. She steals Jeremiah’s horse and then his pity and grudging affection. Adeline’s naive innocence is the antithesis to Jeremiah’s hard-won cynicism, and their budding relationship is a study of push-pull codependence in the face of undeniable connection and magnetic attraction. The third major character is Montego, a mysterious and canny Osage Indian who starts as their enemy, but becomes their savior after a bloody fight with Brett James and his gang of toughs. Montego allows Adeline to take on the role of mother to his infant nephew, and helps the pair while Jeremiah recovers from a devastating injury. He tolerates the difficult preacher as the two men develop a terse friendship. These three intertwined lives form a tale of brokenness in search of redemp-
tion. In prose that blossoms repeatedly into poetry, Foster weaves this narrative about the consequences of violence and the yearning for peace—found in each other when men are bent on destruction and God watches impassively from on high. The story builds to its fiery conclusion, propelled by a need for resolution, a need for forgiveness, and a need to find home. Foster is an author with a gift for conveying the richness of the world through the eyes of her characters, and Ridgeline is both a sensuous and intellectual pleasure like no other. This book, the first in the Long Journey Home trilogy, is a worthy read for fans of western fiction that has believable characters and plots pulled from the struggles of real life. —S.D.
The Life and Times of a Comanche Heart
ax Oliver’s Saga of a Comanche Warrior series consists of five novels chronicling the life journey of a young Comanche Native American in the 1800’s. Born the smaller and weaker of twins, he nevertheless must bravely confront one challenge after another on the long road to adulthood. Oliver’s writing draws heavily upon his own research and his lifelong interest in the lives of the Americans who called the land home before European newcomers forced them onto reservations. Saga of a Comanche Warrior begins with Little Boy, in which the physically frail young Comanche is protected from death by his mother, No Talks; he grows up to be a skilled and intelligent brave of the Peneteka Comanche band. When kidnapped by Apache, he uses his head as well as his training to escape. In No More, Little
Boy embarks on the long journey home from the Great Mountains, a rugged land where simply obtaining food and shelter to survive can be harsh indeed. The challenges he overcomes transform him into a warrior and earn him the name of No More. In Tomo Pui No More marries the love of his life, Tomo Pui (meaning “Sky Eyes” in the Comanche language); living off the land is difficult, but also joyful, until Apache warriors capture her and their infant son. In Red Nose, No More and his friend Red Fox (a white main that No More trained in Comanche warrior skills, whose wife and daughter were also kidnapped by the Apache) strive to find and rescue their families. They split up during their travels through Comancheria, Mexico, Apache Lands, and the Great Mountains. No More’s bravery in opposing the Apache and the Mexicanos earn
him the new name of Red Nose. The culmination of the saga is Chief Red Nose, in which Red Nose is selected to become the new chief of his Peneteka band, after the old chief is killed. With his new responsibility comes the greatest challenge of his life: dealing with the White Eyes who have spread throughout Comancheria. The conflict leads inexorably to war, with terrible consequences on both sides. Saga of a Comanche Warrior is true to the sometimes harsh world in while like Red Nose had to live, yet reveals that it is possible to keep honor and dignity even under the most trying and violent of times. All five books are highly recommended, especially for public library collections. —Peter Brown A Bright Soothing Noise University of North Texas Press
Jory Sherman Jeanie Horn Guest Writer
egendary Western Writer Jory Sherman passed away June 26, 2014, after a long illness. His amazing body of work includes non-fiction books, poems, essays, articles, short stories, and over 400 novels. He was 81. Jory began his writing career as a poet in San Francisco, California. During his years of writing professionally, along with his other writing, he still wrote poetry. He published many poems, and through the years won in contests he entered and recent wins are; May 2010 he was awarded the first place winning in the Art category of the Art & Photo Show and Best of Show for his painting, Western Sunset. In May 2011 he was awarded second place for Art in the annual Art & Photo Show. May 2007 he won first place in the annual Gene Andereck short-story OWL writing contest. In the late 1970s he was also known for the “Chill” series of horror novels he wrote. Medicine Horn, a fur-trade story that was the first of a series he called The Buckskinners, won the Western Writers of America Spur Award. On 26 February 1983 a meeting of writers, artists, and photographers took place,
in Missouri and Jory was one of the authors there. Several people suggested they organize an Ozarks Writers & Speakers Guild. The purpose would be to preserve Ozarks history and heritage. At this meeting, Jory suggested they use the name “Ozarks Writers League” and the group agreed. Members would be known as OWLs, and the official emblem of the League would be a great horned owl clutching a quill and paint brush in its talons. In June 2013 Jory received the Owen Wister Award, recognizing his lifetime
achievement of writing. The award is a bronze statue of a buffalo created especially for WWA by artist Robert Duffle. “I first met Jory at the February 1985 OWL meeting,” Dusty Richards said. “He gave me a WWA membership form, and I later joined as a member and that began my career as a western writer. I am so glad he received the Wister Award, he deserved the recognition of lifetime achievement. His death leaves another hole in the ranks of western writers.” In November the same year he attended the OWL meeting; with fellow charter members presented a panel program on the history of OWL. They all remembered and shared humorous stories about the early years and their regular Friday afternoon meetings of OWL members and kindred spirits who met at the Red Lion Tavern in Hollister. Given the name Friday Afternoon Round Table Society, they shared laughs over the fact those OWL members are still referred to as the old FARTS. Jory spent the last two years of his life at his home on Cedar Creek in Taney County, MO. Many readers will remember him for his efforts to keep the genre of western novels alive. Many Owl members will remember him as a mentor and teacher of all genres of writing.
robert Conley Dusty Richards Editor-in-Chief
n addition to Jory’s passing another Owen Wister-winner left us this past year, Robert Conley. Robert was this year’s winner of the WWA award and a good friend. He taught Cherokee History in his tribe’s legendary university in N. Carolina. Robert authored many books about the west and his people. He won the WWA Spur award for the book “Nicajac”. It is the greatest Indian book ever written and a western novel that
truly shows how to write one-when Robert says they talk in Cherokee you believe him. Robert wrote many other fine books. At the WWA Conference a few years ago Robert asked me to be his vice president as we were going out of the Cowboy Hall of Fame from a banquet. I probably would not have considered it had it been anyone else—but I couldn’t turn him down. I enjoyed the position and the presidency as well. We salute another lost soldier of the pen, Robert Conley and may God bless his lovely wife Evelyn.
Photo by Casey W. Cowan
he horse hadn’t started to bloat when the feed crew showed up that morning. But left to lie in the summer day, it would have swelled in the sun until stiff legs spraddled at impossible angles. Number Sixteen was the only name the horse had ever known. Bred and born to buck, home for his nine years of life had been pastureland owned by the Rough String Rodeo Company. And, of course, the catch pens at countless rodeo arenas and the stock trailers that carried him and the other broncs in the bunch there. “Well, there ain’t no doubt what killed him,” Andy Bowen, Number Sixteen’s owner, said. The chains binding the horse’s hind legs to the bucket of the front-end loader tightened, and the tractor dragged the carcass from the pen. “The question is who.” “And why,” said the deputy from the county sheriff’s office.
10 The eight other horses in the pen huddled as deep into the far corners as they could, snorting and pawing and trembling as their dead corral mate’s neck and head snaked through the gate, a thick stream of dried blood crusted from the scorched hole in the center of Number Sixteen’s forehead to the dull, dead eye dragging through the dust. A veterinarian was on hand, but nobody needed his expertise to tell them it was a bullet from the barrel of a pistol that felled the horse. “Fired at close range,” he had told them earlier, attempting to add something to the conversation. But Bowen and Hugh Morgan, the deputy, could see that for themselves. For that matter, so could the hay hands who first found the dead bronc and the two cowboys who rolled out of their sleeping bags to see what the commotion was all about. “Damn,” one of them said, face still smeared with sleep. “Number Sixteen. Best bareback bronc in the bunch.” The other cowboy only nodded. But the comment caught Bowen’s attention, and he turned to study the two cowboys. He recognized them both as regulars this summer at the rodeos where he provided stock. The one who had spoken, Wes Simms, entered the bareback and saddle bronc riding and rarely earned his entry fees back. But the other, Tanner Lambert, was already making a name for himself aboard bareback horses, regularly winning money in this, his first rodeo season. “Hell, Tanner, this is bad business for you,” Bowen said. “You had Number Sixteen drawed in the bareback riding this afternoon.” Again, the young cowboy only nodded. He knew, and Bowen knew, the killing of Number Sixteen put a cramp in his chances to win the buckle at this rodeo. Whatever replacement horse drawn for him from the re-ride pen, no matter how good, wouldn’t hold a candle to Number Sixteen. Lambert knew drawing that bronc was as close as it gets to a guaranteed paycheck for the cowboy who could ride him. And he could—he’d done it last month at the rodeo in Cedar Ridge. * * * Across the fairgrounds, unnoticed by the men behind the bucking chutes in the pen just vacated by the carcass of Number Sixteen, Rowdy Galvin sat on the trunk of his battered car, sock feet propped on the bumper, watching. Galvin, too, was a regular at rodeos in the region. A few years back, he’d been a top hand in the bareback and bull riding, and even managed to win money at the big shows against the top riders. Plenty of those in the know believed he could have hit the road in a serious way and won a place at the National Finals,
the biggest rodeo of them all, especially in the bareback riding. But Rowdy Galvin was undisciplined with a wild streak as wide as the gap in his spur lick, and so he worked at odd jobs and entered what rodeos he could get to, usually winning his share of the purse, but never getting ahead, owing to his reckless habits. His dissolute nature started innocently enough, hitting the rodeo bars after the shows. Beer and whiskey were bad for him, and with a bellyful of either or both, Rowdy lived up to his name. But when a buckle bunny—one of those wayward girls in every town whose goal, at least for that weekend, is to catch a cowboy—introduced Galvin to harder stuff, he really went off the rails. Crystal meth was his demon at present. He had snorted, smoked, and injected enough of the stuff that his teeth were already paying the price. The effects were obvious in the rodeo arena, as well. What the hell. He slid off the back of the car, opened the rear door, and flopped onto the back seat, wallowing himself a nest in the dirty laundry, food wrappers, filthy blankets, and stolen motel pillows, hoping against hope to get some sleep. But the lingering effects of smoke from the latest glass pipe may not allow much of it. * * * “Any idea where to begin looking into this?” Deputy Morgan asked the stock contractor. “Not a clue,” Andy Bowen said. “Who’d want to kill a horse?” “Wonder why nobody heard it. There was folks here all night.” Morgan chewed on the toothpick poking out the corner of his mouth. “You boys—what’d you say your names are?” “Wes Simms.” “Tanner Lambert.” “You two was sleeping here, wasn’t you?” “Yessir,” Simms said. “Right over yonder under them trees. That’s my car there—the green Ford with the gray front fender. “You didn’t hear anything? No gunshot?” Lambert shook his head. “Nosir,” Simms said. “’Course we didn’t get back here to bed till twelve-thirty, maybe one o’clock.” “Where were you before that?” “We was in town. Had supper after the rodeo, then just hung out for a while.” “Hung out?” Morgan said. “Hung out where?” Simms squirmed. Finally, Tanner Lambert answered. “We was in the parking lot at the Longhorn Bar.” “Parking lot?” “Yup,” Lambert said. “See, we ain’t of age to go inside.” Simms butted in with, “But all them girls goin’ to the bar, they got to get there through that parking lot, so we thought we’d take
11 our chances on meetin’ some.” Morgan chewed his toothpick some more. “I don’t suppose any of them girls—or anybody else—might have slipped you a bottle of beer or two, maybe?” Simms squirmed. “Hell, Deputy, leave the boys alone,” Bowen said. “They’re good kids. And it seems to me like you got bigger fish to fry here than worrying if some cowboy might have, just maybe, licked a little foam off his lips last night. Find out who shot my horse, dammit.” Tossing the toothpick into the bloodstain in the dirt, Morgan followed the drag rut left by Number Sixteen’s carcass out the gate and down the alley. He opened the door of his patrol car, paused for a look around, then climbed into the car and drove away. “You boys sure you didn’t hear or see anything?” “No, Mr. Bowen, we sure didn’t,” Lambert said. “Time we got back,” Simms added, “we was so tired we coulda slept through a lot more than one little ol’ gunshot. Leastways I coulda.” Tanner Lambert nodded in agreement. “Well, if you boys would keep your eyes and ears open I’d sure appreciate it,” Bowen said. “Anybody dumb enough to shoot a horse might just be dumb enough to brag on it.” “Sure thing,” Simms said. “C’mon, Tan—let’s go into town and see if we can’t find us some fried eggs at that choke ’n puke café where we had dinner.” As the boys drove through the fairgrounds gate, a tricked-out cherry-red pickup truck passed them going in. Jacked up high on oversized tires with a row of lights decorating the roll bar, the truck’s most distinguishing feature was a sound system blasting low-frequency thumps from sub-woofers that shook the leaves on the cottonwood trees, loud enough to drown out the deep rumble of the engine, amplified by custom headers and straight pipes. Lambert cranked his head around to watch it pass by. “Little early in the morning for that kind of thing, don’t you think?” “Guy must have a permanent headache,” Simms said. * * * The truck pulled up behind Rowdy Galvin’s junk car, stopping only when the grill guard added another crease to the rusty heap’s trunk lid. The driver’s side door popped open, and a pair of pointytoed boots with contrasting leather toe caps swung out, topped by faded jeans with frayed slits and holes up the legs, and dropped the distance to the ground. The man wore a plaid western-style shirt with the sleeves torn out at the shoulders, snap-front undone and gapped open to reveal a crude, homemade, obscene tattoo on
his bare chest. The tough-guy attire ended with a flat-billed cap, cranked around backward with a forelock of greasy tangled hair hanging out the hole above the adjustable plastic strap. Out the other door dropped an oversized man dressed in multicolor athletic shoes, camo-print cargo shorts, and a solid black t-shirt two sizes too small. Although the sun had yet to clear the horizon, a pair of dark glasses wrapped around his shaved head. The big man leaned casually against the fender of the truck and folded his beefy arms. The driver, jerky and erratic like an anxious, broody hen, strutted to the open door where Galvin’s feet hung out and pounded on the car’s roof. “C’mon, asshole! Outa there! Haul your sorry ass out here, and don’t forget to bring your wallet!” Galvin shot upright and out the door in such a hurry he neglected to duck, and his head bounced off the top of the door frame with enough force to knock him back into the car. The driver grabbed him by the leg and jerked him out, and the rough landing knocked the wind out of the dazed cowboy as efficiently as a buckoff would. The driver dropped to his knees astraddle Rowdy’s chest, yanked his head off the ground by a hank of hair, and jerked him side to side. He slammed Galvin’s head down then slapped one cheek and backhanded the other until streams of saliva tinged with blood from loose teeth threaded out his mouth. “I want my two hundred dollars,” the driver yelled, much louder than necessary, even given the addled state of Galvin’s brain in the circumstances. He grabbed a fistful of Galvin’s shirt and hauled him upright as he stood, then slammed the stumbling cowboy against the car’s fender. “Where is it? Where’s my money?” Galvin lifted his sagging head and looked into the fiery eyes of his attacker. “I ain’t got it yet, Wolf. You know I ain’t got it. I done told you tomorrow.” The driver poked a finger into Galvin’s chest. “Listen, asshole, I drove all the way over here from Crawford City to get that money, and I ain’t leaving till I get it. I’ll take it out of your sorry hide if I have to—won’t be able to spend it that way, but I’ll trade it for the satisfaction of pounding you to a pulp.” “Look, Wolf, I’m up in the bareback ridin’ tonight. I think I can win it. You’ll get your money then.” Wolf laughed and snarled at the same time. “Hell, I was here last night, Galvin, and saw that bull pile drive your ugly head. Don’t look to me like you’re in line to win a damn thing. You didn’t last but maybe three seconds.” “That’s all right, Wolf. I’ve always done better in the bares. And I think my chances just got better.” “How’s that?” “This kid, this upstart name of Tanner Lambert’s been ridin’
12 real good. He was drawed up in this afternoon’s perf on ol’ Number Sixteen, which made him damn near a shoo-in to win it all.” “Yeah, we heard that from some of your idiot cowboy friends in town last night. So what?” “Well, they just dragged that horse off to the byproducts plant a while ago. Which means Lambert won’t be gettin’ on him. I drawed a pretty good horse, so no matter what that kid does this afternoon, there’s a good chance I can outscore him on the horse I drawed for tonight.” Wolf all but burned holes in Galvin’s eyeballs with his stare. “Lucky for you. See you do it.” The driver turned to go, but Galvin grabbed him by the elbow. “Wait, Wolf,” he said. “Look, I ain’t feelin’ too good. I can’t ride worth a damn like this. How ’bout you stand me to an eight-ball of glass?” After another of his snarly laughs, Wolf said, “Listen, asshole, you’re already into me for two hundred bucks. You want to more than double that debt?” “I got to, Wolf. Like I said, I can’t ride like this.” Wolf thought a minute. Then, “How much you stand to win— assuming you can stay on long enough?” “Can’t say exactly. With the added money, I’d guess the purse for first place will run about six hundred.” Wolf thought again. “All right. But here’s the deal. You win, I get five hundred. And you damn sure better win.” Galvin swallowed hard. “I’ll do my best, Wolf.” “Get the man an eight-ball,” Wolf told his passenger. The big man fetched a baggie from the truck’s jockey box, carried it around behind the truck and up to where the pair stood to hand it to Wolf. The driver dangled the bag in front of a hungry Rowdy Galvin. “Now you listen to me, asshole. I’ll have my money before I leave this pissant town, or you’ll answer for it.” “Like I said, I’ll do my best.” “It better be good enough. If it ain’t, I’ll beat you to within an inch of your life.” Galvin swallowed hard as he stared, as if hypnotized by the dangling bag of meth. “And when I’m done with you, I just might hand you over to Bubba here. You ain’t likely to survive that.” The driver and his passenger boarded the big truck, backed away from Galvin’s car, and ripped a doughnut through the grass and dirt, spraying the cowboy and his car with debris as they roared away, stereo pounding some unrecognizable, tuneless thump, thump, thump that hung in the morning air as the pickup tore through the fairgrounds. As if awakening from a bad dream, Rowdy Galvin dove into
the car, jerked open the hatch in the center console, and pulled out a black Walther nine-millimeter semi-automatic pistol, jacked a shell into the chamber, and stood holding it as he listened to Wolf ’s truck disappear, the sound lingering long after the vehicle was out of sight. “Shit,” he said, staring at the pistol. After a moment, he reawakened, tossed the pistol back into the console, and rooted around in the mess in the back seat for a glass pipe. * * * Down at the all-night café, Tanner Lambert used a triangle of buttered toast to mop up the last of the egg yolk and shove the few remaining strands of hash browns onto his fork. “You boys like some more coffee?” the waitress asked as she made her rounds with the steaming glass decanter. “Yes, ma’am,” Wes Simms said. “Scoot on over, honey,” the waitress said. “I need to take a load off. I been up all night.” “Sure thing.” Simms slid against the wall to make room. “We remember you was here last night when we come in.” “You boys in town for the rodeo?” she asked as she filled their china mugs. “Yes ma’am,” Simms said. Lambert nodded in agreement. “Been lots of you guys in here the last couple days. What’s you boys’s names?” “I’m Wes Simms. That feller over there, that’s Tanner Lambert.” “Tanner Lambert? Why, I heard your name mentioned here last night, right at this very table!” “How’s that, ma’am?” Lambert asked. “Well, there was a bunch of cowboys having a late supper— or early breakfast—after they’d been to the bar, you know. And these other two came in—not cowboys, them two, even though one of them wore boots, but not the kind like any real cowboy would wear if you know what I mean. Other guy, he looked like a side of beef. Anyways, they started asking the cowboys sittin’ here all about the rodeo—how much money there was to be won, who was most likely to win it, like that. Seems like, Mr. Lambert, you’re the odds-on favorite to win the bareback riding.” Crimson climbed up Lambert’s neck and flushed his cheeks before he found his voice. “I… I sure hope so, ma’am. But you never know. You just do the best you can and hope them judges’ pencils is sharp.” “Ol’ Tanner here just got some bad news about that, though,” Simms said around the lip of his coffee mug. “Talk on.”
Photo by Casey W. Cowan Simms set the mug down after a sip. “See, he was all fixed to ride the best bronc in the string. Horse called Number Sixteen. Thing is, somebody shot that horse last night.” “Shot a horse?” “Yes, ma’am. Right in a pen out at the fairgrounds.” “I never heard of any such thing.” “We only just found out a while ago. The law’s looking into it, so I reckon word will get around soon enough.” “So what about you, Mr. Lambert? Now that you don’t have a horse to ride, I mean.” “Oh, they’ll draw me another mount out of the re-ride pen. It won’t be as good as Number Sixteen, but I hope it’ll be good enough to win some money on.” “Well, best of luck to you. Say, you boys might know this other cowboy they was askin’ about. Rowdy… Allen?” “That’d be Rowdy Galvin, ma’am,” Simms said. “Them two was mighty interested in him. His chances of winnin’ and all.” “Rowdy’s a passable bull rider and darn good bareback rider when he’s on his game. Which he ain’t been too much of, of late. So what was the verdict on Rowdy?” “Oh, them cowboys said much the same thing. Told that pair he wasn’t likely to win no buckle, what with Mr. Lambert here in the competition. They might have even mentioned that horse you were talking about—the one that got killed. Anyways, they wasn’t too happy when they left here. Stomped out in a huff and drove off in this big nasty red pickup truck I’d need a stepladder to get into. Not that I would. “Well, I best be I’ back to work,” the waitress said. “Nice talkin’
to you, and good luck at the rodeo.” She topped off their mugs again before shuffling back to the coffeemaker behind the counter. “What do you suppose that was all about? Them boys askin’ all them questions?” Lambert asked. “Hell, Tan, I don’t know.” Simms stifled a yawn. “Let’s get back out to the fairgrounds. I got half a mind to stretch out under one of them cottonwood trees and stare at the insides of my eyelids for a while.” * * * Deputy Hugh Morgan was back at the fairgrounds when they arrived, in a huddle with Andy Bowen, the stock contractor. When the lawman saw their car, he waved them over. He spat out a chewed-up toothpick when the cowboys climbed out of the car. “Where you boys been?” Simms wrinkled his forehead. “In town, is all. Havin’ some breakfast. Why?” “Just wondering, that’s all.” The deputy pulled another toothpick from his hatband and stuck it in the corner of his mouth. “I aim to keep track of everyone who was here last night until we get this sorted out.” “So what’ve you learned?” Bowen said. “Not much. The vet fished the slug out of that horse’s skull. Nine millimeter. After filing a report at the office, I talked with all the folks camping out over here. No one noticed anything out of the way. Some said they heard outfits coming and going in the night, but nothing more than you’d expect.
Rod Mil er
od Miller is two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award—for Best Western Short Story and Best Western Poem—a Finalist for Best West Short Story, and winner of the Westerners International Poetry Award and the Academy of Western Artists Buck Ramsey Award for Best Poetry Book. Author of four novels, three nonfiction books, and three books of poetry, Miller has another nonfiction book and a novel awaiting release. He is also author of numerous anthologized poems and short stories, dozens of book reviews, and many magazine articles. His latest books are the novel, Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range: True Adventures of Bravery and Daring in the Wild West and Goodnight Goes Riding and Other Poems. Rod is a member of Western Writers of America and received the 2014 Branding Iron Award for his service to the organization. Visit him online at www.writerRodMiller.com.
“One thing, though. What do you know about the guy in that wrinkled-up Chevy over there?” Morgan paged through his notebook. “Bruce Galvin?” “Bruce? That his name?” Bowen said. “Only name I ever knew he had was Rowdy. What about him?” “He seems a mite suspicious to me. Tweaker if I ever saw one.” “Tweaker? What the hell’s a tweaker?” “Meth head. Speed freak. Sketcher. Druggie.” “Beats the hell out of me. Wouldn’t know what the stuff looks like if it was sittin’ on my dinner plate. Wouldn’t surprise me, though. Rowdy’s always been prone to overdoing whatever it is he’s doing. And the folks he runs with ain’t likely to invite him to attend church with them.” “What about you boys?” Morgan said as his back teeth frayed his toothpick. “You know if he’s into drugs?” Neither Simms nor Lambert had an opinion. “We’re just small-town boys,” Simms said. “Ain’t none of that stuff where we grew up.” The deputy laughed. “The hell you say. You boys just don’t know what you’re looking for. Drugs are everywhere.” Lambert said, “I ride against Rowdy all the time, but I ain’t never seen nothin’. He does seem changeable when it comes to moods. Sometimes he seems fine, other times he’s wound up like a pocket watch. Now and then he walks around half asleep. One time at Castle Bluff, he flew off the handle at the flank man and shoved him right off the back of the chute ’cause he didn’t like the way he was hangin’ the flank strap. Couple of fellows had to hold him back when he climbed down off the chute threatenin’ to beat the old man. Weren’t nothin’ to it—no reason for him to get in a huff at all. But, far as I know, that’s just Rowdy. I ain’t never seem him before this summer.” Morgan nodded. “Sounds like he’s tweaking to me. I think I’ll have another talk with him. Shooting a horse just for sport ain’t out of the question for a meth head. Even if he’s not involved, he might know more than he’s saying.” The deputy was back within minutes. Rowdy Galvin stared out the back seat window of the patrol car, sitting awkwardly with his hands cuffed behind his back. Morgan brought over a pair of plastic evidence bags to show Bowen and the boys. “Just as I suspected.” He held up a bag with a short glass tube with a glass ball on one end, all tainted with brown soot, and a little bag of what looked to the boys like rock salt inside. “This is the stuff. Meth. They smoke it in that glass pipe.” But the other evidence bag set the stock contractor and cowboys back on their heels. Inside was a semi-automatic pistol. “Nine millimeter,” the deputy said. TO BE CONTINUED...
BUSHWHACK J.B. Hogan
t was nearly pitch black around the edges of the city square at night. There was just one coal oil lamp mounted on a wooden pole on each side, and the illumination they gave off was not nearly enough to cover all of the area that needed to be. On a dark, cool evening in July of ’81, town marshal, Will Parsons, and his deputy, Ed Sharman, were crossing the northeast corner of the square when the first shot rang out. Four more shots quickly followed. Parsons and Sharman lay dead, right in the heart of the city. I reckon the trouble started about a year ago or so. We had a different town marshal then. W. F. Stephens was his name. He was a pretty tough fellow. Had fought with Stirling Price in the Missouri campaigns. Had seen a fair amount of battles. Had killed his share of men. Back home after the war, like many others, Stephens had squirmed under the yoke of Reconstruction. When it finally lifted, he and the other Confederate boys took the town back from the Unionists. There was still some bad blood around. The Tucker boys, like some other few around the area, had fought for the Union. Before the war, they were farmers, had a big spread a few miles south of town out in the woods, raised corn, tomatoes and such, kept enough meat and milk cows to be self-sufficient. There were three boys: George, John, and Tom. They had all shipped out with the Yankees at the start of the late hostilities and had seen plenty of action down in the Mississippi theatre, helping General Grant subdue the rebellion there. When the Tucker boys came home, things were right for them, what with the Union occupation and all. But when the troops pulled out and the old Confederate boys moved back into their pre-war positions as politicians and lawmen, things went bad for the Tuckers. George in particular took the new reality hard. Folks said he was a decent, hard-working fellow until he started drinking and then it was Katy bar the door, just stay out of his way. One Friday evening in August of ’80, George had come into town to get his fill of corn whiskey at Fred McCarron’s place
down on Smokey Row, a small strip of stores just east of the town square that served alcohol to the thirsty and oftentimes troublesome lot. That night, George – drinking with a couple of old friends – got his snoot full and a passel of bad attitude to go along with it. When Marshal Stephens was called to McCarron’s late that night to settle things down. George gave the marshal some of that attitude. Stephens, who had seen combat at Wilson’s Creek, Prairie Grove, and Pea Ridge, did not find George’s behavior even mildly amusing. “Let’s go,” he said, grabbing George by the scruff of the neck and throwing him out McCarron’s front door. “Turn me loose, Stephens,” George yelled, trying to break loose from the marshal’s grip as soon as they were out on the street. Several of McCarron’s patrons fell out to watch the action. “Settle down,” Stephens ordered. “Let me be,” George cried, almost losing his shirt in his escape attempt. “I warned you, Tucker” the marshal said. Pulling a long barrel .44 from its holster, Marshal Stephens commenced to pistol-whipping George Tucker, raining hard blows around the drunk’s head and shoulders. Tucker fell to the ground semi-conscious, and Marshal Stephens shoved him down into the muddy road. “Leave him alone, Stephens,” one of the onlookers, a tall, skinny older man, told the marshal. “You done beat him enough.” “Get him out of here, then,” the marshal said. “I won’t put up with no backtalk from nobody.” Several men hurried to George Tucker’s side and helped the dazed man to his feet. “You had no call to hit him with your iron,” another in the crowd, a younger, stockier man said. “You just beatin’ him ‘cause you wear that badge.”
18 “I’ll take it off,” Marshal Stephens said, “if you want to try your luck.” The stocky man grumbled under his breath, but he joined the others in leading Tucker away. “I’ll get you for this, Stephens,” Tucker said when the men had gotten him up onto his horse and his head had begun to clear some. “I ain’t gonna forget this.” “I’ll be here,” the marshal countered, bringing his right hand to rest on the butt of his pistol. Nothing came of George Tucker’s threat that year, and towards the fall, Marshal Stephens stepped down to be replaced by young Will Parsons. Parsons chose Ed Sharman, a few years his senior, as deputy. Through the winter they maintained a peaceful order in town. Come mid-March, however, with the thawing of early spring and the warming of the weather, the Tucker squabble re-emerged with dire consequences. Late one muddy Saturday afternoon, John Tucker, the middle brother, known as a hothead without the influence of strong spirits, was outside a hole-in-the-wall whiskey-selling store just up the street from McCarron’s when Deputy Sharman came down Smokey Row, rousting out the early-starting drunks. John Tucker stood by with nothing more than a hostile-toauthority sneer on his face as Sharman drug a couple of inebriated farmers out of the little store. But when Sharman arrested a friend of Tucker, things took a sharp, dangerous turn. “What do you think you’re doin’?” John Tucker demanded of Deputy Sharman as the lawman drug the drunk miscreant out onto Center Street. “Keep out of this, Tucker,” Sharman said. “I’ll not do it,” Tucker countered. “You cain’t be haulin’ in just any damned people you want. I won’t stand for it.” “I said back off,” Sharman growled. “Let him go.” Tucker’s hand slid toward the pistol holstered on his belt. “Don’t do that,” Sharman warned, releasing the drunk, who fell on his rear end in the wet road. “Damn you, lawman,” Tucker cried, dragging out his pistol. But Deputy Sharman was ready and drew first. He fired into John Tucker’s chest. Tucker reeled backwards, firing a wild shot into the air before landing flat of his back in the mud. He writhed from side to side for a few moments, blood spurting from his wound, then was quiet. “You kilt him,” the drunk Deputy Sharman had rousted out spluttered. “He’s daid.” “Back off,” Sharman told the crowd that gathered around the scene of the shooting. “You won’t get away with this,” someone said.
“It’ll be hell to pay,” another person chimed in. “You’ll face your own law for this one,” a third person commented. And Deputy Sharman did face the law for the shooting. He came before Judge P. R. Mayfield in April of ’81. The judge listened to arguments from Sharman’s lawyer and from one representing the Tucker clan. Several witnesses testified, including the drunk whose arrest had started the whole incident. After deliberating less than an hour, Judge Mayfield exonerated Deputy Sharman of any wrongdoing in the case. The Tuckers, after burying brother John, made their displeasure with the verdict well known, and George, burning with righteous anger, came to town one fine June morning to avenge his brother’s death – murder, he called it. He was looking for Deputy Sharman, but when Marshal Parsons learned of George’s intent, he went in search of the elder Tucker. He found him where he figured he’d be – drinking in one of the little ramshackle bars Smokey Row way. “Time for you to be getting’ out of town and on back home, Tucker,” Parsons said, confronting his antagonist in a dingy little drinking hole at the end of a row of dingy little drinking holes. Besides the barkeep there were maybe three old drunks filling up the corners of the place. “I’ll leave when I damned well please, you murderin’ dog,” George challenged the officer. “Let’s go,” Parsons ordered, grabbing George by the sleeve and pulling him towards the door. “Turn loose, you bastard,” George snarled, jerking his arm free. In a heartbeat, Marshal Parsons drew his pistol and before George Tucker could even begin reaching for his own sidearm cut down on him. The drinkers ducked for whatever cover they could find as Parson’s .44 exploded in a deafening roar. George reeled backwards and crashed against a wooden rail. Parsons palmed the hammer on his pistol and prepared to fire again, but there was no need. George Tucker fell dead onto the dirt floor of the grungy bar. “You seen what happened here,” Parsons said to the men cowering against the walls of the bar. “He refused to come peaceable.” “What…ever you say, marshal,” one of the men managed to choke out. Once again there was a trial before Judge Mayfield, and the actions of a marshal were again called into question. This time the courtroom was crammed with friends of the Tuckers, and Judge Mayfield had to call them to order again and again and twice threatened to clear the court. In the end, Marshal Parsons, like Deputy Sharman before, was exonerated of any wrongdo-
19 ing in the shooting death of a Tucker. Unlike the Sharman case, however, this decision by Judge Mayfield was met with open threats and hostility. The judge was forced to exit the courtroom through a back door, and Marshal Parsons and Deputy Sharman had to draw their weapons in order to clear the courtroom of the angry crowd. “You know where to find me,” Marshal Parsons told several men waiting outside on the street. “I’m not goin’ anywhere.” “You’ll pay for this, Parsons,” one of the men spat at the lawman. “Back off, Crawford,” Deputy Sharman ordered, stepping between his boss and the threatening saliva-spewer. After a few more threats and exchanged unpleasantries, the mob dispersed, and things settled back down in town – at least for a bit anyway. Then not more than a month later, Marshal Parsons and Deputy Sharman made their ill-fated check of the downtown business district. They had paused in front of old Stephen Connor’s red brick store on the northeast corner of the square while Parsons loaded up his favorite corncob pipe. The marshal had just lit the pipe and blown out the match when persons unknown came out of the dark from behind and shot the two men down. Earwitnesses said they heard at least five or six shots, but none of those rounds were fired by the unfortunate lawmen. They had not had time even to draw their weapons. Town was all aflutter then for several days, and there was talk of going after Tom, the remaining Tucker brother, and anyone who could be identified as a friend of the family. Others, perhaps a minority, felt that maybe the Tuckers had not been treated right by our local lawmen and that the killings of Marshal Parsons and Deputy Sharman were justified in some fashion. A grand jury was convened to consider evidence relating to the fatal double-shooting, but no decision was ever reached. In the end, nothing else ever came of the double killings. I reckon the authorities seen it as a feud between local men and the deaths of Parson and Sharman as somehow settling the score. No arrests or indictments were ever made in the case. As for me, I’d seen enough of blood feuding and lit out for the Injun Territory and greener pastures. Turned out pretty quick that the grass over there weren’t so green after all. After about a year or so, I drifted back home. By then all the fuss over the Tucker and lawmen killings had died down, and people had gone back to the regular business of living. That seemed like a whole lot better deal to me, and so I stayed on. It’s a right nice little town these days – what without all that shootin’ and killin’. Darned good little place to live in that’s for sure. I reckon I’ll just stay for a while now.
. B. Hogan is a prolific and award-winning author. He grew up in Fayetteville but moved to Southern California in 1961 where he finished high school and attended junior college before entering the U. S. Air Force in 1964. After the military, he went back to college, receiving a Ph.D. in English from Arizona State University in 1979. He spent many years working as a technical writer in Tucson, Arizona and Boulder, Colorado before returning to Fayetteville in 2004. J.B. has published over 250 stories and poems. His book of fiction, The Apostate and his local baseball history book Angels in the Ozarks are available from Pen-L Publishing and Amazon.com. Jerry currently serves as President of the Washington County Historical Society and is former Chairman of the Fayetteville Historic District Commission. He plays upright bass in East of Zion, a family band that specializes in bluegrass-flavored Americana music.
A Placer Miner using a rocker, hoping to find some “color,” in Yavapai County, Arizona about 1920.
he history of mining in Arizona is long, complicated, and many-faceted. Mining has helped to shape the spirit of Arizona. Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans, and Europeans have mined in Arizona and have helped to establish the culture and personality of the state. Ever since Coronado went in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola in 1540, as Grace M. Sparkes wrote in Yavapai, the Land of Opportunity in August of 1917, “legends of immense treasures buried in the deep recesses of the mountains and guarded by the fierce Apache, have made the name of Arizona a synonym of magic wealth, mystery and romance.” As I wrote in An Illustrated History of Mayer, Arizona, “[m] ining brought people from many places and of many cultures to Arizona in search of fortune: many failed; many succeeded; many failed and then succeeded; many succeeded and then failed. The business of mining in Arizona is fraught with death, injury, claimjumping, jealousy, mystery, romance, fraud, great financial gain and great financial loss, political influence and political ruin.” The pioneer miners of Yavapai County, the old “Hassayampers,” endured the hardships and dangers of Indians, weather, medical emergencies and lack of food, commodities and companionship. They placer mined, maybe did a little sluicing if water were available, carried their belongings on their backs or on the backs of their burros, camped where they thought the diggings looked good, and, when they proved not to be, moved on to another prospect. If they found a little (or a lot) of gold, word soon got out. Some miners were able to keep the secret of their finds for a time, but once they went to town for supplies, which were paid for with gold dust or nuggets, the secret was out. Then the miner had to prove up his or her claim and frequently either sold out for a tidy sum or a paltry sum or became part of a new camp which sprang up around him. Today, newspapers no longer print the mining news on a daily basis. Datelines of Palace Station, Scopel’s Diggings, Venezia, Senator, and Poland, Arizona no longer make the headlines. That’s because nothing happens there—today, there isn’t much “there” there. But that doesn’t mean that these ghosts of the heydays of mining in central Arizona have been lost to the memory of today’s miners—or the never-ending search for that ever-elusive strike.
Joe’s friend Earl Snore (on left) at a mine near Allen Springs, Arizona, 1920s.
Two Miner’s burros packed with supplies at the Congress Mine, Congress, Arizona.
J. E. Addicks’ Mattie R. Mine in the Bradshaw Mountains of Arizona about 1903. Addicks came to Arizona to mine “just for the adventure of coming.”
23 Building a hoist at a mine in the Bradshaw Mountains. Some mine operators had their own sawmills as Ponderosa Pine was plentiful in the mountains of central Arizona. Joe Ward built several hoists and mills for himself and other mine owners.
25 Harold “Shorty” Johnson on horseback during World War I.
The Story of Joe Ward Joe Ward is a miner, a man who has lived many lives, a man who has traveled far and wide on a horse, a man who has lived and worked amongst the ghosts of the hidden, buried, lost and abandoned mines of central Arizona. Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1914, he came to Arizona with his mother, Freda, for his health when he was about six or seven. Joe and Freda settled in a cabin on a ranch across the Verde River from Tuzigoot in the Verde Valley, which was leased by Harold “Shorty” Johnson, a veteran of Princess Pat’s Canadian Regiment of the British Army in World War I. Later, he and Freda Ward, married. Shorty was a rancher, horse wrangler, and miner. His father had been a miner in South Africa, and Shorty had been trained at the Jerome Mine to perform mine rescue work in the 1920s. Shorty Johnson not only became Joe’s stepfather, but also his mentor. Joe’s first mining job
Joe at the age of about five (1920) with his mother, Freda Ward, in Detroit.
was the summer he was about sixteen in 1930 when Shorty was working at the Stoddard Mine east of Mayer on the Agua Fria River in Yavapai County, Arizona. Joe was a roustabout. The work was hard, and he slept outof-doors. He had to put the legs of his cot into cans of water to keep the insects out of his bed and rigged up a canopy over top to keep the big June bugs from bugging him. Stoddard was soon abandoned when a drop in copper prices brought an end to the camp of some one hundred people. Under Shorty’s tutelage, Joe became a horse trainer, wrangler, and all-around ranch hand. As a teenager, Joe moved onto another ranch which was also leased by Shorty Johnson. Joe worked there along with a couple of other young wranglers who were completely on their own. Their job was to keep an eye on things and manage the livestock. This ranch was located at a higher elevation and was called the upper
Shorty Johnson and Joe’s mother, Freda Ward, about 1937 in Phoenix.
Shorty Johnson was also a miner, as was his father. Here he is taking a break at the mines in Jerome.
Young Joe in Jerome, Arizona at the age of about 18. His mother and Shorty were living in Jerome. Joe would ride his horse from the ranch in the Verde Valley to visit them.
27 ranch. Joe chased wild burros, caught and trained wild horses, herded cattle, and roamed far and wide on his horse, including riding to Jerome to see his mother and Shorty. During the early days of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) when Joe was still a teenager, he worked on the Twig Blight Eradication Project. Of medium height and thin and lanky, Joe was a high climber, scrambling up the pine trees and cutting the damaged branches. Shorty Johnson left mining and ranching behind in the late 1930s when the open range was being fenced by the CCC on order from the United States government. Shorty and Freda moved to Prescott, while Joe worked for the Town of Jerome for several years, leaving about 1940. At the same time, Joe was working at the Stoddard Mine and for other ranchers. Joe also learned mining from Shorty, and as an adult became a prospector, miner, expert on minerals and mining, mine owner, mine and mill operator, agent for mine investors and owners, Joe (on the right) and others at the Stoddard Mine in Arizona, where Joe had his first and a builder or fixer of almost anything. mining job at the age of sixteen.
Shorty Johnson at the Stoddard Mine. He is leaning against Joe’s cot, which Joe has Joe, Shorty and Joe’s Model T in Jerome about 1930. The Model T was part of Joe’s placed in cans of kerosene to keep the bugs out of his bed. salary for his work at the Stoddard Mine.
The Bradshaw Mountains of central Arizona became Joe’s home base. The Bradshaws, a rough and tumble range with many secrets, has been reluctantly giving up its treasures for 150 years—lode gold, placer gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, and other minerals, more than $6,000,000 worth. The men and women who managed to wrest those treasures from the earth were and are a hardy, brave, and industrious lot. Joe Ward is one of those men, and his wife, Mary G. “Pat” Fairchild Ward, was one of those women. Joe and Pat were married in 1939. Pat was born in Los Angeles in 1919 and came to Arizona about 1936. Joe first saw her at the Geary Heights Club in Cottonwood where she was having dinner with her parents, and he was immediately smitten. He asked her to dance, and she said no. But her father’s car wouldn’t start, so she asked Joe for help, which apparently broke the ice. They were married for almost fifty years until Pat’s death in 1987. For all of those years, Pat was Joe’s partner in anything that he tackled, and she was just as hard working as Joe. During World War II, Joe worked at Thunderbird Field as an airplane mechanic and learned to fly a small plane, although he never got his pilot’s license. He and Pat lived in downtown Phoenix at the time. Since mining was more important to the United States government at the time, Joe was released from working on airplane engines to return to his former occupation. From the mid-1940s to about 1950, Joe worked and lived at
Venezia, now a ghost town some twenty miles south of Prescott and a mile north of Palace Station at the foot of Mt. Union at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Venezia was first worked in the 1880s and was known as Scopel’s Diggings. Frank Scopel named the camp for Venice, Italy. A mill was built as early as 1875, and in 1895, the Venezia Mining Company expanded with a twentystamp mill which continued to operate into the 1930s. At the end of the World War II, Joe and Pat bought a mining claim on property above Palace Station off the Senator Highway between Prescott and Crown King, Arizona. A log cabin had been partially constructed on the property, and they finished the dwelling and moved in. In an undated letter (about 1948), Joe’s uncle, William Ward, wrote of his trip from Prescott to Pat and Joe’s log cabin above Palace Station: I am not much of a letter writer and if I had not taken a trip over the mountains to the home of Joe, the son of Freda, probably I should have nothing to talk about. . . . The most unusual part of the trip was on Sunday morning, when we started the trek to the cabin of Joe (from Prescott). I have been driven over some hills in my lifetime, but . . . I have never been over such a damnable ride as we took on last Sunday morning. Just wide enuf [sic] for a car, rutted and gutted roads, deep down into a narrow gorge just wide enuf [sic] for the tracks of the car, and around icy corners that looked down a mile straight into hell, that is the way it appeared to me. Shorty was driving, and there I was frozen to the seat, scared as a kitten of a mountain lion, and I would rather have tackled a mountain lion than taken
29 The Bradshaw Mountain Railroad Switchbacks. The Bradshaw Mountains were Joe and Patâ€™s home base for decades.
Joe and his wife Pat about 1943. They were married in 1939. They built their first log cabin (inset) themselves near Palace Station from Ponderosa Pine cut on the property.
30 that ride. It seemed to be a million miles to the house or cabin of Joe, but they tell me it was about 18 (miles) from Prescott. They told me there was a beautiful view to be seen all along the route, but I was too much afraid to look out of the car windows. I imagined in places I could see a wolf, and another time a lion or wildcat, then I thought I could see a bear waiting for us around every corner, until I thought it would be necessary to hide out in one or more of the gold mines that some prospector had cut out of the hills. Well, we finally arrived and my principal objective was as to how the hell we were going to get back. Ward concluded the letter by writing, “I have in the car a medal, a Catholic medal of St. Chrystopher [sic]; the car was blessed by a priest in Clinton for its former owner and I am confident that that saved us from tumbling down into Crooks Canyon on a ride we will never forget.” In the 1940s and 50s, Pat worked off and on for the United States Forest Service as a fire lookout in the towers at Horsethief Basin and Towers Mountain near Crown King and Mt. Union. At the same time, Joe was locating and marking trails on horseback for the Forest Service so that brush crews could come and re-establish trails into the forest to improve access for fighting fires. Joe also occasionally fought fires for the Forest Service. As I wrote in An Illustrated History of Mayer, Arizona, “In the 1890s, the demonetization of silver spurred an increased interest in the search for and development of new gold mines. Arizona became one of the regions which was most attractive to the mining speculator of the time. Although Arizona had a reputation for the production of only surface gold, by the 1890s it had
been proven that Arizona had vast resources of ‘deep workings’ of gold and other precious metals. In an article in the January 5, 1896 issue of the Arizona Weekly-Journal Miner the editor wrote of a field trip he had recently taken into the gold country of the Bradshaws. He wrote: ‘[t]here is perhaps no section of Yavapai that can compete with the Bradshaws, Richenbar, Big Bug, Chaparral and the Agua Fria in the amount of smelting ore that could be brought to a smelter.’ He also wrote of his meeting with an old placer miner, which gives a very good idea of what placer mining by a well experienced individual miner was all about in 1896: Along the creek we met a congenial old miner rocking out golden flakes from the bed of the stream. He called his location the Klondike, and told us to wait a few moments and he would tell us how much his wealth had increased. He pulled the gravel into the rocker a pan full at a time and from an improvised bucket dipped water from the newly made trench, poured it into the rockaway and the oscillation of the crude machine shaking the finer particles down into a screen below. The reserve was then placed in a pan, taken to the stream, and by a process at which old miners are expert, the gravel was washed out of the pan, leaving on the bottom a neat saving of gold. Drying it in the sun, the gold was taken from the pan, placed in the hand and cautiously transferred to his brass purse in the shape of a cartridge to keep company with more of its kind.” Although Joe and Pat worked mines in other parts of Arizona, and occasionally in other states, their base starting in the 1940s was the Palace Station area of the Bradshaw Mountains in the Prescott National Forest on the Old Senator Road. There, they located old and new mines, filed claims, opened shafts, cleared
A typical lone miner of the 1890s with his sturdy burros, which are packed with pretty much everything he owned. Joe and Pat used burros to pack ore and supplies in and out of their mine more isolated locations. They had up to fourteen burros at one time.
A Claim Monument for one of Joe and Pat’s mining claims in the Bradshaw Mountains.
tunnels, built roads, worked their own mines and those of other owners, dealt with claim jumpers and warned mine investors of some of the mining scams that were prevalent at the time. Joe was a member of the Arizona Small Mine Operators Association and described himself as ‘a small mine operator.’ An advertisement (no date, but probably the 1950s, based on the 3-digit telephone number) for Joe’s mining business, Southwest Mines Contracting Company, states: “Mining is our business. Men of experience equipped to handle any job. Everything furnished. We contract by the foot or by the ton. Contact us and we will get it done.” There were literally thousands of mining claims in the Bradshaw Mountains which are mostly located within seventy mining districts. The naming of mines was an art in itself, and each tells a story. Yavapai County is a treasure trove of creative names. Joe and Pat worked in mines in the Hassayampa, Prescott, Walker, and Turkey Creek Mining Districts that often came with a registered name, and most of the time, that name remained with the mine. But they also expanded existing claims and often located new claims adjacent to those earlier ones. Joe had his own naming patterns. Some were named for the minerals found there, such as the Copper Penny, Silver Star, Golden Glory, Silver Streak, Silver Streak Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, Copper Canyon, Azurite, Silver Trail, Brite Silver, Silver Bullet, and Gold Bank; some were named for places, such as the Arrastra, Mt. Union, Old Mill, Scopel Diggings, Old Ore Bucket, and Old Vanderbilt; some were named for people, such as the Frenchman, Frenchman No. 1, Mountaineer, B. Frank, Ward’s Prospect, Patsy Joe, Great Scot, Ben Silverman, Yankee, and the Old Prospector; some were named for the plants in the area, such as the Lonesome Pine Nos. 1 & 2 and Silver Spruce; some were named for the scenery, such as Star Brite, Starlight No. 1 & 2, Starlight Galena, and Starlight Galena No. 1; some were named for the frustrations of the miner, such as the Lonesome and Golden Memories; and some were named for the hopes and dreams of a jackpot, such as the Rainbow’s End, Rainbow’s End North and South, Pay Dirt, Pay Dirt No. 1, Lucky Break, Lucky Draw, Reminiscent, Good Luck, and Hot Shot. Joe and Pat were known for their hospitality to most anyone who came by. Joe also kept an eye on and cared for some of the old miners of the Hassayampa Mining District—took them to town (Prescott or Mayer), brought groceries to them, and made sure they had enough firewood. One of those Old Hassayampers was L. C. Smith, who lived on a remote claim near Joe and Pat. He would show up at Joe and Pat’s cabin with a note attached to the lapel of his sport coat by a large diaper pin on which he had written his list of needed supplies. Occasionally,
33 Joe and Pat would take L. C. into Prescott in Joe’s Model A Ford. During the winters, Joe would sometimes hike in on snowshoes to Smith’s claim to check on him when they hadn’t seen him for a while. In 1961, Joe completed a mill on his Whippoorwill Hill Mill site about two and a half miles from his home and began processing ore from his own mines and for others. They also had concentrating tables for processing ore. In about 1962, Joe and Pat sold the original cabin and built a new log house nearby. In 1978, Pat and Joe sold their home and mining properties near Palace Station and moved to Coyote Springs near the present community of Prescott Valley, Arizona. Joe saved almost every piece of paper, document, letter, and receipt from his long career as a cowboy, miner, contractor, and builder. At Coyote Springs, he and Pat also had Joe’s collection of mining equipment and several retired burros. However, in spite of their move from the mines, Joe was still filing mining claims and affidavits of work into the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, Joe began selling off mining equipment and his remaining mine interests. Some of the equipment made its way to the Gold King Mine Museum in Jerome, Arizona. Shorty Johnson passed away in 1965 in Superior, Arizona, and Joe’s mother, Freda, later moved in with Joe and Pat in Coyote Springs. Joe’s mother died in June of 1987 at the age of 93, and Pat passed away in November 1987. Joe subsequently married Pat’s sister, Doris, and they moved to Seligman, Arizona, where they had a large parcel of land and the wide-open spaces of the high desert. After Doris’ death, and as Joe’s health began to be problematic, he moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma, where he now lives with family and continues working on his collection of papers, memorabilia and photographs. A Joe Ward Collection of many of his documents and photographs has been established at Sharlot Hall Museum Library and Archives in Prescott, Arizona, and he continues to add to the collection. Although he did not have a lot of formal education, Joe is an intelligent man and a shrewd businessman. His innate mechanical ability served him well throughout his working life, and his knowledge of mining, learned from Shorty and through the school of hard knocks, has made him a sought-after expert in the mining industry. Today, at the age of ninety-nine, Joe Ward is still a man of many lives and many mines, but his horseback days are behind him. He still gets calls and visits from those interested in getting his opinion on mining ventures. He laments that he can no longer hike the hills and claim those many minerals hidden under the ground and scattered among the rocks, trees, and brush of the Bradshaw Mountains of central Arizona.
Joe’s new mill, which he built himself, at his mine near Palace Station.
Mines in Metcalf, Arizona showing the ore being brought down from the mine to the mill on inclines. This is typical of early mining in the mountains, and Joe used this method in some of his mines.
A Mining Claim Map of part of the Bradshaw Mountains near Prescott. Joe and Pat owned many of the mines shown on this map Mines in Metcalf, Arizona showing the ore being brought down from the mine to the mill on inclines. This is typical of early mining in the mountains, and Joe used this method in some of his mines.
Nancy Burgess Joe and Pat’s second log house, which they built about 1962 near their first log house.
Pat and Joe at their home in Coyote Springs near Prescott Valley about 1984. Although they were no longer actively mining, Joe was busy consulting with mine owners on all things related to mining.
ancy Burgess is an Arizona native and a historian and photographer specializing in the history of central Arizona. She is one of Arizona’s 100 Culturekeepers and has won numerous accolades for her three decades of work in historic preservation and writing of Arizona history. She is the photographer for Ranch Dog, published in 2000 by Willow Creek Press. Nancy is the author of A Photographic Tour of 1916 Prescott, Arizona published by McFarland & Company, Inc. in 2005 and An Illustrated History of Mayer, Arizona, also published by McFarland & Company, Inc., in 2012 and the co-author of Around Yavapai County: Celebrating Arizona’s Centennial, published in 2011 by Arcadia Publishing, Inc. She is the author and publisher of An Arizona Auto Adventure: Clarence Boynton’s 1913 Travelogue, published by Badger Mountain Press in 2013.
The following is copied from a transcription by someone unknown. It records the account of Charles Hill about his life in the American west.
harles Hill, who died last week at the age of ninety, lived most of his life in Union County. Last year in April, Mr. Hill told the story of his life at the request of Bernal D. Hug of Elgin, and the transcript has been made a record of the Union County Historical Society. The story will be printed in two or three installments in The Elgin Recorder, and readers, particularly the old timers, will find it interesting. Young people, too, may be more satisfied with their lot today after reading it, for it tells of hardships. The story begins with a forward by Bernal Hug: Although ninety years old, Charles Hill was physically and mentally quite alert and had a pleasant personality. In discussing his recent ninetieth birthday, Jennie (Ashby) O’Bryant, a long-time resident of North Powder, had the following to say: Charlie was one of the best-natured men I ever saw. Some time ago I taught school at Telocaset for a number of years and boarded at the Hill home. We all henpecked Charlie and deviled him to no end, but not once during those years did I hear him utter a cross word. He had an unusal habit of always getting up quite early and preparing a splendid breakfast, then he would call his wife and children and me.
The Story of Charlie Hill My father was born in Glouchestershire, England, August 17, 1838, and mother was born in Portsmouth, England, on February 3, 1846. Mormon missionaries had convinced them that the Lord would come to Salt Lake to meet them in 1852. Grandmother was so enthused about the religion that she left my grandfather in England and came to America. The stories they told of the trip to Utah were filled with extreme hardships. Mother’s group left England on February 3, 1852. The trip across the Atlantic took seven weeks. Crossing the American prairies by ox teams was strenuous. Each wagon carried eight hundred pounds of corn meal as the main item of food for the summer-long trip. They told of many hardships of that journey, one of which I will mention. One time they had been without water for so long that their cattle’s tongues were hanging out and badly swollen from thirst.They were approaching the Platte River, and when the cattle saw or smelled the water, they stampeded right into the river with the wagons. It took two or three days to get the wagons repaired and the provisions dried out so they could travel again. The folks walked all of the way across the prairies, and it was a tired, ragger, hungry, and cold group that reached Salt Lake on
38 November 23, 1852. It was snowing like the Lord was not there to meet them. Life was rough, hard, and rugged in those days in Utah. Grandmother Hill and her daughter lived near enough to where the Fancher wagon train was massacred in 1857 that they knew many details of that unfortunate event at Mountain Meadows. Mother’s folks were also close enough that as a girl, Mother had the task of washing blood-stained clothing that was salvaged from this tragedy. Stories that I might tell about this event would be better untold. When Mother was fifteen, the authorities told her she was old enough to marry and that they had a man who needed a wife. They took her to Father, who she had never met before, and that was it. After a few years, my parents were so discouraged with conditions in Utah that they decided to move, which was very risky because they might take undesirable information to the outside world. In 1869, they started out. There was a little gun play, and had it not been that they secured the protection of some United States soldiers, they probably would have lost their lives. They went to Douglas County, Nevada, where Father worked as a blacksmith and where I was born on Valentine’s Day in 1870. Our place was twenty miles south of Carson City and three miles from the Indian reservation. We were extremely poor. Mother never had a cookstove until after we moved to Oregon. She did all her cooking in a big iron pot in a rock fireplace. One of my earliest recollections is going with her to scrape up alkali to mix with her sourdough to make bread. Sourdough and alkali was all she had to raise bread until we came to Oregon. There were four of us boys, and we had six sisters. How Mother ever fed us and raised us half civilized I never could understand. She made her cloth on the spinning wheel and was handy with knitting needles. My clothing was tanned buffalo skins with the hair on—pants, coat, and moccasins. Why someone did not shoot me for a wild animal I never knew. My bed was a pile of corn husks in the corner of the cabin, and I slept with one buffalo skin under me and one over me. My childhood chum and playmate, Tulymahu, was a full blood Paiute. He was a good companion, and we had many, many happy days together. I envied him his good clothing and bow and arrows. His clothes were made of nicely tanned buckskin. He had a good bow and could shoot it well, while I had one made of willow, and I could not shoot nearly so well. All my life, hunting has been a favorite hobby with me, and I have hunted everything from grasshoppers to bear. Speaking of grasshoppers, that was one thing that I declined to eat when at Tulymahu’s teepee. His mother made a stew in which she put dried grasshoppeers. I suppose it was as good as many things we ate, but the thought of the grasshoppers was enough to stop me. They kept a hair rope lying clear around their teepee to keep rattlesnakes from coming in. A snake will not cross a scratchy hair rope, so it make an effective fence to keep them out.
When I was eleven years old, my folks decided to move to Oregon. On May 1, 1881, we left. I drove a two-horse team on a wagon. My older brother, Bill, drove four horses, and Bill Park had a four-horse team. It took us until June 19 to reach Union County, a long trip over a barren wasteland. One time we were so short on water we had to share water with the stock from our drinking barrels. When we finally came to water, it was so full of alkali that the horses would not drink it. The only way we could stand it was to boil coffee in it. I drank three cups of coffee, which was the only coffee I ever drank in my life. I also have my first cigarette to smoke and my first drink of whiskey to take. I am old enough now that I intend to let these things go. William Park and father bought a place from Ned Morelock right west of where Rinehart Station was built—the place later owned by Sam Knight and then by Jim Roberts. When they were building the railroad from La Grande to Elgin from 1888 to 1890, my brother, Bill, and I worked on the construction. We each drove a team on a wheel scraper. The company had about a hundred Italians working with pick and shovel in the rock cliffs of the river canyon just below our place. One time they set off a charge of six hundred pounds of powder, and a rock was thrown into a tent where four Italians were playing ping pong. It hit and killed one man. They gave Bill and me a dollar to shave him before they took him out on the edge of the grade and buried him in a rough box. We were a little nervous with our razor, but finally got the job done. Another time there was some issue at election time that the company was interested in. They told Bill and me to each hitch our teams to wagons, then load about twenty Italians in each and take them and their bosses to Elgin to vote. This was in the days before voters had to be registered. They all voted but me. I was too young. As soon as they had finished voting, we were told to drive to Summerville, where they all voted again, then to Island City, then to La Grande. They wanted us to drave to Union that evening, but we refused to overwork our teams that much. We were all payed a day and a half ’s wages for the trip. A few years after I was married, I bought a place at Telocaset. This was in April 1903. The day after Christmas of that year I moved up by hauling my belongings with wagons and driving loose stock. The house we moved into was an extremely cold and delapidated shack. However, Telocaset was quite a railroad station in those days, and the railroad let me have plenty of coal, which kept us from freezing. There were about seventy-five voters, two stores, and the usual other buildings at Telocaset in those days. It was a hard pull for a few years making payments on my farm, but before too long, I had it clear and have bought more since. I now have what I consider a real good one-man farm, which I have sold to my son, Willard. After we learned how to farm this land, we raised good crops, and it is a good cattle country. My place has seventeen good springs on it.
39 In my early days at Telocaset, this was sort of a robbersâ€™ roost. In fact, Antelope Valley, as our valley is called, was referred to as Thief Valley. The reservoir that was built for irrigation storage at the lower end is officially called the Thief Valley Reservoir. In those early days, there were some notorious familes of horse thieves and cattle thieves who lived here. They operated from Wallowa County out through central Oregon. Likewise, during Prohibition, Antelope Valley had twelve properous stills. I left all these folks alone and minded my own business. They treated me as a good neighbor, and we got along fine by following our separate ways. I have served on the local school board for thirty-eight years and have been on the Telocaset election board for fifty years, most of the time as chairman. After living in the valley for nearly sixty years, it is home sweet home to me. Last summer, twelve of us neighbors went out to the highway at six oâ€™clock in the morning of July 16, 1959 to meet seventy-one year old Walking Grandma Gatewood, who was making the spectacular walk along the Oregon Trail as a gesture of tribute to the old pioneers. She interested me especially because she was making a long walk like my own grandmother had made years ago, but of course not suffering all of the hardships. I have received letters from her since she returned to her home in Ohio.
On the last February 14th, I had a wonderful party to celebrate my ninetieth birthday. We held it at the Telocaset school, and 153 people signed the register. Friends and my children did everything to make it a big success. It was a highlight in my life. When I recall the many beautiful birthday cakes that folks brought, I could not help but remember my first birthday party back in Nevada and the marvelous cake my mother made me and how wonderful it tasted. As I was seven years old, she made me sevel little flat cakes like hotcakes and stuck them together with honey. We had no sugar, but she managed to get a little honey. My, but that was a good cake. How things have changed. One other thing I want to tell you about my ninetieth birthday is that by strange coincidence, I received nice birthday cards from exactly ninety friends. My daughter-in-law, Virget Hill, put them all in an album for me. I think that was very thoughtful of her, and I am proud of my birthday album. You know, when I think back over the past ninety years with all its many changes, I feel that I was born thirty years too soon. I would like to be around to see what happens when men put atomic power to beneficial use. I have no desire to go to the Moon, but I would like to talk to the men who do go there and find out about their trip.
DEVIL’S HOLE Velda Brotherton
he floor slammed me in the face. Hard. A blanket of darkness, and next I knew, Rand’s big paw had me by the shirt front, shaking me like a dog does a rabbit to make its kill. Saying my name over and over from deep down in his throat. “Marly, Marly, Marly.” This man, the one I loved, who loved me, became a monster for some reason I couldn’t fathom. My words meant nothing, nor did my touch. Fighting back only made him hit me harder. Him, a man big enough to kill me. As if he knew that, he tossed me in the corner and stalked from our cabin, cursing at the moon like some wolf on the prowl. Shaking all over; as if I had the palsy, I lay there till the sound of him riding off faded into the silent night. For a while, all I could do was crawl, but anger coursed through me, giving me a strength I’d never dreamed I had. With deliberation, I dragged myself to my feet, staggered to the wash pan, and splashed cold water over my battered face. Soon as the blood was washed away, the first thing I saw was his six gun hanging in its holster on the wall. He never wore it to town. The marshal would take it away from him, and all he wanted this night and many others was to get falling down drunk and sleep it off in some alley in Fort Smith. It took me half an hour to shake the beating enough to walk a straight line. We both worked the land together, so I wore britches same as him. Made holstering that old gun around my waist real easy. Then I dragged the chair to the middle of the room and slumped into it, facing the door, the Army Colt clutched in my hand and laying in my lap ’cause I was shaking too hard to hold it at aim. Guess I went to sleep. First thing I remember after that is jerking awake to the sound of his footsteps pounding across the porch floor. It was still dark, stars twinkling in a black sky. This time he wasn’t drunk enough to have to crawl home. Probably
stayed sober so he could whack on me some more. No matter. I shook my head hard enough to set the pain off and wake me up proper, raised the gun, thumbed back the hammer, pointed it at the door, and waited. He paused, the door squeaked open, and I shot him right in the middle so as not to miss. The gunfire rattled the windows and stuffed up my ears with noise. Stunk up the place something fierce. A little whoofy sound came out of him, and he dropped right then and there. The stench of powder lingered, burned my eyes, clogged my nose, dried out my throat. My hand shook so bad I dropped the heavy gun to the floor. For a long time I held my breath, wishing I’d said something to him first. Told him why I was killing him, let him know in that split of time before he went to his maker that it was me that sent him. All the yesterdays flew over me. The day we’d met and he charmed me right down to my toes. A tall, handsome man with sparkling blue eyes and dimples when he smiled. Big and broad and strong. And gentle. How could I forget that? His touch, his kiss, all of it like he was afraid I might break. “Well, Rand, I broke, you son of a bitch. And it was you broke me.” Didn’t intend to say that aloud, but there it was. Me being brave now that he lay in a pile at our doorstep. Maybe if I’d been able to tell him, get him to quit drinking, or find out why he did. Maybe then, things would’ve been different. But I wasn’t, I didn’t, and I couldn’t. The sun came up before I could stir from the chair. Light slithered across the pool of blood, flowed over his body, making it all real, when in the dark it seemed like a dream. I had to do something with him. But what? And how? First I holstered the Colt on my hip. Good. What’s next? Drag him off the porch. Big dead men are heavy. When I bent to drag him, my battered head whirled, and I grabbed at the door frame to keep from falling right in the middle of my kill.
42 Out front his horse, Wahoo, whinnied and stomped. Wanting unsaddled. Demanding grain. She had a lariat on her saddle, a solution to part of my problem. I stumbled off the porch and across the dew-sweetened grassy yard, untied her, and led her close to the cabin. Unconcerned about what I was up to, she began to munch at the wet grass. I tied the lariat around the horn, then unwound its curl, walking back to where my dead husband lay. After unsuccessfully wrestling to lift him and tie the rope under his arms, I gave that up and looped it around his neck. Too bad if it pulled his head right off. It took a few minutes to gather my strength, but I strode out to the horse, mounted, and backed her up, dragging that son of a bitch like a downed steer. He plopped down the steps, head thunking hard on each one. Too bad he wasn’t alive to feel the pain of that like I had. Thinking like that, I got so blamed mad I kicked him when I got him situated up close to the saddle. What I was thinking was drape that rope over the saddle, then hand over hand drag him up till I could hang him over it. Might work, I wasn’t sure. Know how you can see something clear in your mind somehow, how to get something done, but then when you go to do it, things just don’t work out like you thought at all? That was the case here. Right away I saw I’d have to tie the horse up. If I didn’t, she wasn’t going to go along with my plan. Once I did that and began to pull on him, the rope burned the palms of my hands, so I had to wind it around the horn to hold Rand in place while I went to fetch a pair of leather gloves. The saddle taking all that tugging on one side began to slip, and I had to stop again, this time to tighten the cinch. Wahoo danced, kicking up dust, swung her head around, and rolled her eyes at me. I snubbed her down tight to the post and finished the job. By the time I had Rand laying belly down over the saddle, me and the horse were both pissed off. “Just can’t quit making trouble for me, can you?” I slapped Rand hard on the butt, loosened the reins from around the post so the poor horse could relax, then went inside and made a pot of coffee. Let him lay out there a while and contemplate the evil of his ways. Besides, I didn’t think I could get my mare, saddle her, and mount up, my legs were so shaky. But I could and did get down on my knees and scrub away all that blood. Took a whole bucket of water. While the coffee perked on a newly built fire in the cook stove, I went to wash up and made the mistake of glancing in the mirror over the wash pan. My eyes were swollen and turning black, a bruise along my jawline tinged blue. Tendrils of hair had escaped the long braid, and I looked like hell.
The cold water soothed the burning on my face, so I held a wet cloth over my eyes for a few minutes until the scent of perking coffee dragged me back from wherever I’d gone. A quiet place where peace lived like a promise. Mouth watering, I fetched a cup and filled it to the brim, blew gingerly over the steaming liquid till I could gulp down several swallows. Stared through the window at puddles of sunlight growing in the field to the east where our cattle grazed as calm as if nothing had happened. Reckon it hadn’t, far as they were concerned. “This is the way you lasso that little doggie.” A younger, finer Rand, showing off with the lariat, swinging it above his head, urging the cow pony forward with pressure from his knees, the rope gripped between his teeth. Lord, he was beautiful in motion. Lithe and strong, body swaying with the movement of the horse, sandy hair blowing in the wind. And I loved him so much it hurt sometimes to think about. And he loved me. Or so he said. Once, a long time ago. We had the ranch, the animals, each other. And we were so happy. No sense thinking about that now, though. I sucked down the remainder of coffee, set the cup on the cabinet, closed the damper on the stove, and left the cabin, closing the door behind me. When I came back, he would not be there. He would never be there again. It would be silent and peaceful. And I would be alone. As I went about the business of saddling Katy, it occurred to me that people might ask where Rand had gone to. What would I say? What should I say? I mulled that over and stepped into the stirrup, settled in the saddle, and went to get my dead husband, lying across his horse, waiting. This would be our last trip together. I sure hoped he enjoyed it, ’cause I was going to. Our cabin sat in a deep cut on a south slope for protection from the cold winds of winter. To the south and west, pastures filled the valley as far as I could see. To the north, the land climbed the foot of the Boston Mountains. The wilderness road to the east was cut by steep inclines, ragged bluffs, and a place called Devil’s Hole. Deep and dark and uninhabited by anything but critters. We headed up over the rough trail toward his final resting place, the horses hooves clattering through loose rocks that tumbled off beneath us. He came along obediently, without a word, tied over the saddle so tightly he wouldn’t slip. And he was so quiet I had time to mull over what I would tell folks when they asked whatever happened to Rand. Maybe I could say he told me he was going west to seek his fortune and he would send for me. Nah, no one would believe that. Every-
Photo by Nancy J. Cowan one saw how he kept me tethered close by except when he made his nightly visit to the saloon. “Ole Rand, he’d never leave that purty little thing of his alone for any longer than it took to drink himself drunk,” one or t’other would remark. When they asked, I could shrug. Say I don’t know. He never came back the other night when he went to the saloon. How to explain his horse, which I didn’t want to get rid of. I’d say Wahoo came trotting in about daylight, and I went out immediately to look for my wandering husband. Not a sign anywhere. Could he have fallen off, crawled away somewhere? Been eaten by a bear? Could be, but there’d be a trace. A belt buckle, a boot, something. I liked it. Katy stumbled and dug for purchase, yanking me from my supposings. Wahoo yanked backward on the reins, then leaned into the climb and came on. We reached a flat bench and followed a long curve that skirted a deep drop into the ravine known as Devil’s Hole. The place I had in mind for my husband’s burial ground. At a wide, flat spot in the path, I reined up, dismounted and moved Katy out of the way, tying her to a piece of shrub sticking out from the bank above us. Wahoo turned spooky on me. Probably figured out her cargo was a dead man. I held her head down till she calmed a bit,
then tied her, too and went to work on the knots in the rope that held Rand’s hands to his feet beneath Wahoo’s belly. I’d tied hitch knots to make them easy to undo. When the last one came undone, leaving him untethered over the saddle, that blamed horse stood on her hind legs and pulled the brush loose where I’d tied her, showering me with dirt. Rand’s body flopped out of that saddle, flipped over once till he lay on his back on the rim of the trail. Slipping, sliding. Before I could react, he disappeared over the edge carrying a noisy shower of rocks and gravel with him. My heart lurched, and my stomach turned over. I scrambled my way to the drop-off, hoping against all that was holy that he’d be gone. My job done. But no such luck. A good twenty feet down his legs straddled a fair-sized sapling and there he hung. Stuck. Over the years I’d learned some cuss words from my husband, and I used a few of them, taking off my hat and beating myself on the thigh with it, as if that would help. All it did was add to the spooking of poor old Wahoo who’d decided at this point that I gone plumb loco. Freed of her burden and reins hanging loose, she clattered back down the trail, leaving behind a cloud of dust. For a minute my brain refused to put everything together, then it kicked in. Go get Wahoo first before she went all the way to town and
44 someone found her. They’d surely come in search of her owner. Rand could just perch down there for a while, for all I cared. Hadn’t been anybody up here on this trail for a good long while. Even if they did ride by, what were the chances they’d see a body astraddle of a tree partway down the steep incline? It wasn’t like he could holler for help. A little ways down the trail, I caught the confused horse before she headed off that steep drop and killed herself in the process. Well winded, I rode the side-hopping mare back up, stopping a ways from Rand’s body to tie her to a juniper tree clinging to the rocky jag above us. “Now settle yourself down before I take a board to your knot head.” She stared at me like she’d do what she danged well pleased and grabbed a mouthful of green grass. “Don’t let that horse pull one over on you, city girl.” Rand grinned right big at me. “You got to get their attention with a board first. Don’t reckon I’ll ever teach you to ride one of these ornery cusses. You’re too gentle with them. “But I can’t hit something so sweet and beautiful with a board. Why can’t they be trained to obey like a dog is?” “’Cause, honey, they are bigger than we are and downright mule-headed at times. They’ll do as they please once in a while, no matter how trained they are. So you gotta be ready and remember you’re boss. Now come on, get those knees to working, weight in the stirrups, and take your hand off that horn.” And he showed me, his graceful body one with the animal. Told me he rode before he walked, and I had a vision of a golden haired, beautiful little boy riding out across the wide open grassland, laughter echoing behind him. Oh, Rand. Dear God, Rand, what happened to you? To us? Katy took a deep breath when I shrugged off the memory and coaxed her back up the trail. At the place where the body had hung up, I slowed her. Sat there a minute, staring down at the dead man and the deep gulch below him, trying to steady my nerves. Okay, so I’d go down there. Pry him loose and let him fall. At the idea my stomach lurched again. Good thing there was nothing in me to upchuck. It was way past time to finish this. Off Katy, I stood on the edge, leaned out to check the terrain for foot and handholds. Behind me, she let me know she wasn’t up for much more of this nonsense, either, so I took her across the trail and tied her near Wahoo. Let them mutter to each other about this whole damned mess. Boots crunching, I crossed the trail, stretched out flat on my belly, and peered down. The body had slipped forward some on the sapling. Good. Maybe if I found me some good sized rocks
and pelted him with them, he’d tumble on down. It was all I could think of, short of climbing down and kicking him off, and that I couldn’t even imagine. Not yet, anyway. I shoved to my feet and hunted till I found a rock that might do the trick. Big enough to knock him loose, all right, but also so big I couldn’t lift it. No matter how hard I tried to roll it out of the shallow ditch on the upper side of the trail, I just couldn’t do it. Rocks all around me. Too big or too little, so I gave up and sat down to think. The sun climbed high into the sky and poured heat down. Sweat soaked my shirt and ran from under the brim of my hat. “What am I gonna do with you, Rand?” I can’t think I expected an answer, nor did I get one. I could leave him there and hope for the best or scoot down, shove him off, and maybe tumble down with him. If he didn’t have a bullet in him, I might consider just riding off, let someone figure he fell of his horse and died there. But a bullet meant murder to the law, and who would they look at first? Me, that’s who. Everyone knew he knocked me around, but that wasn’t against the law. I was his wife, after all. His property to do with as he pleased. What was against the law was me killing him for it. Considering it all made me mad again, and I crawled clumsily to the edge. Dust raised around me, and I coughed. Behind me Katy whinnied. Staring right at her, it came to me what to do. A few minutes later, I had the rope under the pommel and tied around the horn of the mare’s saddle, just like Rand had taught me for steer roping. Tied hard and fast, he’d called it. I looped the other end around my backside. Gripping one gloved hand above my shoulder, the other below my butt I made myself a swing of sorts. When I put pressure on the rope, the cowpony held her ground, backed up like she knew to do. “You do your job, sweetie, and don’t let me fall. This’ll just take a minute, then I’ll be back up, and we’ll go home.” Her soft eyes regarded me as if I were a bit loony. By that time, I was. At the edge, clinging to the rope, I took a deep breath and stepped off solid ground into space. The rope tightened around my rump. Boots slithering against the bank kicking pebbles down into the canyon, I lowered myself inch by slow inch until I hung in midair beside the jammed body. Braced by both feet and nothing else, I placed all my faith in that cow pony up there. Now what? I couldn’t let go the rope to yank him free. Heart thundering in my temples, panic all but blinded me. Should’ve thought ahead better. I lifted one foot and placed it against his thigh. Pushed. He remained, but I went twirling away, the rope twisting, my feet swinging free. Above, Katy tightened the rope. The swinging slowed, and I
45 managed to plant one foot, then the other. Idea number two. If Katy continued to do her job, I could let both feet go, swing toward Rand, and kick him good and solid with the bottoms of my boots. Hang on to that rope tight like my life depended on it. ‘Cause it did. “You old bastard. Ornery right to the end. Now let go.” Eyes closed I swung, opened them in time to give him a double blow. When I hit, it must’ve startled Katy, for I slipped downward a foot or two before the rope tightened, then held. Terrified, I swallowed my heart and glanced up in time to see Rand sliding ever so slowly off the branch. Headed right down toward me! With all the energy left in my sore body, I side-walked on the face of the incline, knocking loose an avalanche and praying Katy would hold steady for a bit longer. At least give me time to work my way up the rope to safety. I was so engrossed in reaching the top that I never watched Rand fall. Just heard the rustle and crackle of limbs as he tumbled through the trees far below. With one last lunge, I landed on both knees on the trail, Katy holding that rope taut to the very end. For a minute I was stuck, kneeling there like someone caught in a blizzard and froze to the spot. Dizzy headed and grateful, I climbed to my feet and stumbled to the mare, threw my arms around her neck. “You are the best danged horse in the whole wide world.” The words blubbered out of me, then my knees gave way, and I plopped in the dirt. Mouth dry as the dust hanging in the air, I made a try at licking my lips, but my tongue stuck inside my mouth. Why hadn’t I brought water? It was a long way back down to the ranch. It wasn’t like I’d die or anything, but I’d sure be thirsty time I got home. Sitting there, I stared through tears at a long-ago memory. A young Rand astride Wahoo, riding off, waving. “Don’t worry, city girl. I’ll be back to see you soon. You’d better be waiting, ’cause I’m going to marry you.” He laughed and rode out of sight over the top of the hill. I buried my face in both hands and bawled like a baby. Katy nudged my shoulder once, then again. I dried my tears with the bandana tied around my neck and prayed that would remain my final memory of that blue-eyed cowboy who’d stolen my heart so long ago. Wahoo in tow, we headed back down to the ranch. It was a perfect day. The kind that beckons one to ride out to the ends of the earth. Breathe free of the wind, embrace the warm sunshine. With someone you love.
elda Brotherton has a long career in historical writing, both fiction and nonfiction. Her love of history and the west is responsible for the publication of 12 books and novels since 1994. But she’s not about to stop there. When the mid-list crisis hit big city publishers, she turned first to writing regional nonfiction, then began to look at the growing popularity of e-books as a source for the stories that continued to flow from her busy mind. Those voices simply won’t shut up, and so she finds them a home. Velda’s latest works include the Mainstream fiction novel Beyond The Moon, from Foyle Press, an imprint of Oghma Creative Media, and the Western Historical Romance Rowena’s Hellion, from The Wild Rose Press. Both will be available in hardcopy and e-book format this fall. And look for more great books from Velda in 2015!
he adobe building was the most common shelter in the old southwest. They were a great deal more common that the wood-frame and plank ranch houses with wooden shingle roofs depicted in Western movies. Houses sitting in the middle of desert were too far from sources of scare trees and sawmills and the costs of freight transport was high. Adobes were common in south and west Texas, northern Mexico, and the southern portions of New Mexico, Arizona, California, and elsewhere. These places are characterized by hot dry climates and so happened to possess an abundance of the raw materials necessary to make adobe mud—dirt. The word, abode, goes back to at least 2000 BC, the ancient Egyptian dbt for mud brick with the modern spelling coming from Old Spanish. Morelos, Coahuila I took an interest in adobe construction after examining buildings and compound walls in Morelos, Coahuila in northern Mexico, my wife’s hometown. The town and the other four towns of Los Cinco Manantiales—the Five Springs—are about thirty miles across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. The communities were established some 170 years ago and some original
Simple adobes under construction. Note the modern tile roofs.
adobes still in use. We have relatives living in adobe homes build around or even before the turn of the twentieth century. They’re structurally sound and built like forts. They’ve been modernized, of course, with electrical outlets, lighting, water, and sewer lines. Many are now air conditioned. Most have the original exterior plaster, although this occasionally requires patching. In most cases the interior plaster was removed and a more durable concrete-based plaster applied. The floors in most are a layer of adobe bricks overlaid with attractive title. In a few instances, the base bricks broke up and were replaced by poured concrete with iron rebar, sometimes after laying water and sewer lines. In the old days, a smooth layer of thick plaster was laid on the floor bricks. Floor tile came with increased prosperity, along with indoor plumbing in the 1960s. The exterior walls are eighteen inches, sometimes even twenty-four inches thick, making for interesting and utilitarian window sills. Interior walls are ten to fourteen inches thick. All walls are considered loadbearing. Interior and exterior plaster could be three quarters to almost two inches thick and use the same mud as for the bricks and mortar. Asking about maintenance is like talking about the passing of great grandparents. The last repairs were always, Hace mucho
49 tiempo—a long time ago. Unlike modern North American homes with weathering, peeling paint, dry rot, termites, deteriorating roofs, etc, it’s just not a concern. I’ve asked about roof leaks, and everyone looked at each other like it’s a subject that’s never thought about. Finally someone will say, “We have never had a leak.” Making adobe bricks An adobe house can be built almost entirely from locally available materials, de la tierra—from the earth. The soil is tested by filling a large glass jar with one third earth and two thirds water. It’s shaken vigorously and then allowed to sit until the water’s completely clear—one or two days. It will settle in three layers—top to bottom: clay, silt and sand, and course sand and gravel. A good mix for adobe mud is 15% clay, 10-30% silt, and 55-75% sand/gravel. Mixes will vary greatly. Up to 25% or more clay is preferred by many and there should not be too much gravel. Old builders dug the soil from favored quarries, even if it meant transporting it some distance. It was mostly dug from river banks with an abundance of clay, sand, and silt. Adobe mud is not created by adding specific percentages of clay, sand, silt, and gravel like concrete. It comes pre-mixed in the soil that is selected. The mud is mixed on the construction site in a five-inch pile spread on the ground, lower in the center. Small amounts of water are poured and uniformly mixed with a hoe, eliminating lumps to create a stiff mud. A three-inch layer of four to six-inch long chopped straw is spread over the mud—one part straw per five parts soil. Dead weeds, finely chopped twigs, and cow manure can be used. The fibrous material is completely worked into the mud. Once dried, abode bricks made with manure do not smell, and they repels insects. The straw does not strengthen the bricks. It allows the bricks to dry evenly and quicker to reduce cracking. After the turn of the century, cement or lime was sometimes added to make them more durable and waterproof. Today, liquid emulsified asphalt is used for the same reasons. The mud is shoveled into wooden forms. Forms are not always single bricks, but multiple bricks, five or eight, for example. Bricks can be three to five inches thick, eight to twelve inches wide, and fourteen to eighteen inches long. There is no standard size. It’s the builder’s preference. They are generally the same size for a specific house. Exterior walls may be fourteen to thirty-six inches thick, usually toward the thinner. Smaller bricks might be used for interior walls, though. Bricks are removed from the forms after a day or two and laid on level ground to dry further. They are not stacked as the bottom ones could break. Broken bricks are okay as many half bricks are needed. Bricks are laid in the shade to dry. If sufficient shade trees are not available, leafy branches are laid over
4 x 12 x 14-inch adobe bricks. The crude mortaring will be plastered over
them. Drying too fast in sunlight will crack them. After a couple of days, they are set on edge with an airspace between them to dry for up to six weeks. Two men can make two to three hundred bricks a day. Like Rome, adobes are not built in a day. Nor can it be done in the rainy season. Once completely dry—2-3% moisture content—bricks can be stored for extended periods and stacked, but it is best to store them on edge with air spaces. They can still absorb moisture from humidly, dew, and showers. Raising an Adobe House Now that we know how adobe bricks are made, let’s build a house. As with any style of housing, adobes varied significantly in quality even though the same basic materials were used. It depended on the owner’s affluence, resources, preferences, help, and time. In the 1800s, a cheaply built peon’s casa adobe was simple with few amenities. I’ve spent the night in a couple that are still used as outbuildings on ranches. The ground was merely leveled and construction began—no foundation. Sometimes a several inches deep trench was dug to set the first course of bricks. Some dug a shallow trench and placed thick flagstones as the foundation. These are the ones most likely surviving today. Bricks are laid one course at a time all the way around the building so there is no weight buildup on any one portion. That might cause an uneven wall as the heavier section settles before the rest. This includes interior walls. The mortar was the same as the brick material, but without straw. It was of a different consistency, perhaps a little wetter to make it more workable. The mortar work usually looks sloppy—not like the neat smoothed mortar seams we see in conventional brickwork—if the interior and exterior are to be plastered.
Gordon L. Rottman
The wall here is unusual in that it is so thin. Note the lighter colored wooden “gringo blocks” set in the edges of the door and window openings to which frames will be attached.
ordon Rottman lives outside of Houston, Texas, served in the Army for twenty-six years in a number of “exciting” units, and wrote war games for Green Berets for eleven years. He’s written over 120 military history books, but his interests have turned to adventurous young adult novels—influenced by a bunch of audacious kids, westerns owing to his experiences on his wife’s family’s ranch in Mexico, and historical fiction focusing on how people really lived and thought—history does not need to be boring. His first western novel is The Hardest Ride, to be followed by more. The Hardest Ride, A Western e-novel, Taliesin Publishing Peacemaker Award Winner, Best Western and Finalist, Best First Western Novels Spur Award Finalist, Best Traditional Western Novel Tears of the River, YA survival e-novel, Taliesin Publishing
Heavy timber or log lintels crown doors and windows to support the bricks above these openings. Plank door and window frames, the latter often with shutters, are secured to the walls by screwing or nailing the fames into “gringo blocks”—wooden blocks set in the place of bricks. Peons often had only packed dirt floors. Some laid a clay and sand mixture which was smoothed and buffed to make it quite durable. Others laid a layer of sand and paved it with flagstones and adobe mortar grout. Another method was to lay and grout adobe bricks. Stucco-like plaster, usually with more sand than regular adobe mortar, was plastered three quarters to almost two inches thick on interior and exterior walls, the exterior only if cost was an issue. This protected the bricks from weathering, especially by rain, which severely erodes adobe over time. Unplastered interior walls do generate dust, so if not initially plastered, they often were later. Sometimes one and a half to two feet high rock facings protected the bases of exterior walls from rain-splatter. Regardless, there are old unplastered compound walls well over a hundred years old, and while they heavily eroded, they remain sound. Thick walls are needed not only to support the heavy walls and roofs, but to insulate the building. Mexico and the southwest is a land of climate extremes. During the day, the sun heats
51 An old adobe updated to an office. Behind the open door can be seen an unplastered adobe wall, and the floor is paved with adobe bricks.
the thick walls insulating the interior. After sunset, the temperature drops, and the heat transfers into the house. It will not keep it toasty warm all night, but it helps. By sunrise the interior has cooled as has the exterior wall and the process starts over. A veranda, especially on the south side of the house, shades the walls and keeps the interior cool longer. A veranda supported by adobe or stone arches is especially effective sun protection. High ceilings allowed hot air to rise. Windows were located not so much for the view, but for air circulation. Roofs were supported by eight to ten-inch diameter beams called vigas, usually no longer than fifteen feet—the characteristic log ends jutting from adobe roofs. Wider buildings have a central load-bearing wall to support spanning vigas. They were set two to three feet apart. Spruce and Ponderosa pine are popular due to their resistance to splitting as they dry. Overlaid perpendicularly to the vigas was a thick layer of one to two-inch diameter limbs—the latías. This is usually mesquite, but carrizo cane is also used. A layer of adobe mortar was spread over this to seep between the latías, bonding them. Adobe bricks are laid on the mortar, often a bit thinner and wider or square-shaped, compared to wall bricks. They are grouted and another layer of mortar laid, followed by a second course of bricks. These too are grouted, and a third layer of mortar spread. Most roofs are flat, but some had the slightest rain-draining slope. Mod-
ern roofs have cement in the mortar, but more commonly low pitched title roofs are used today. A poor man’s roof was adobe mud with a higher clay content, then a thick layer of packed dampened earth and then a layer of mortar. This would have to be replaced after several years. Modern adobes have plastered ceilings. Adobe houses were typically long and comparatively narrow, a series of rooms set end-to-end. There might be a door in each interior wall, but some rooms at least could only be entered from outside doors. There were no hallways. Owing to the massive weight of adobe bricks and the lack of structural supports other than walls, seldom will adobes be higher than two stories. As rugged as they are, adobes were particularly susceptible to earthquake damage. Modern building codes in Mexico and America require structural steel or reinforced concrete support. An 1800s lead rifle bullet or even a modern full-jacketed bullet will not penetrate an adobe wall (I’ve tested it). Adobes are interesting structures to which scant attention is given. Now that you’re a little familiar with these buildings, it might provide a bit of color in your writings. In The Hardest Ride, I briefly describe the adobes on the DeWitt Ranch in south Texas. In the coming sequel, Ride Harder, I provide more description of the old six-room adobe ranch house Bud and Marta take over.
My dear fans of bygone Westerns, Stop crying cowboy fans, the news that the adult western is dying this fall is false. Let Jake Logan, Long Arm, and the rest perish in the frightful demise of my genre. Major publishers have given up on you readers who clamor to read about the more realistic men of the west. The new man rides in and will soon be available for you in e-book form. If there is enough demand, the book will show up on the printed pages, but you‘ll want to read the original book. It’s called Leonard Cross and The Cheyenne Princess, and it’ll be available October 14 on Amazon and e-book outlets everywhere. So who is this new hero? Leonard Cross was a military academy graduate from Alabama who got made an officer in the Confederate Army as the first shots were fired. He fought bravely in that long encounter with death. Captain Cross returned home to Gate Wood Plantation to find the mansion burned to the ground. His father lived in the slave quarters with his loyal blacks who remained with him and tried to farm, despite the lack of everything. Recovering from two bullet wounds from the war, Cross found the home place depressing and confining with little future, but when the carpetbagging tax man came by and slapped his aged father with a quirt for saying he wasn’t paying the high tax he demanded right then, Cross lost his control. No one could stop him. He came with a fence post and battered the three Union soldiers before they could draw arms, then he made sure that official would never hit another southern land owner with his whip again. He choked the bastard to death with his bare hands. After that he turned his back on his homeland and moved west on the most wanted list. A young man who died of pneumonia answered Cross’s description two years later and was turned in one cold January day with light snow falling at the U.S. Marshal’s office in Van Buren, Arkansas by two young bounty hunters. This court was the one Judge Parker would later preside over. The federal warrant paid the two men two hundred dollars in script for the body of Leonard Cross. That script was promptly pawned to a barber in Cincinnati, Arkansas for a hundred and fifty dollars who later said he didn’t know the men who pawned it. They had ridden on. The body believed to be Cross was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave, and the undertaker was issued a ten-dollar script for doing the services. But Leonard Cross wasn’t dead. He rode away with one hundred and fifty dollars in cash money in his pocket. A young lady from Texas was visiting her relatives in Carthage, Missouri when those same two young men passed through. They heard her playing piano. They stopped to listen and were introduced to Belle Shirley. A thin girl in her late teens, later that night she came down a ladder set up by the pair from an upstairs bedroom. The threesome frolicked under blankets. Before morning they made sure she was back inside and replaced the ladder. Later on whenever Cross heard something about Belle Starr, he had fond memories of a night he spent with Joey Malone and her in a southern Missouri barn hay loft. And he never heard a better piano player in his life. A few years later, Cross trailed a small herd of cattle with some guys from Texas up to Fort Scott, Kansas. Kansas was usually dry, and they were in some joint with plenty of ladies of the night playing poker. Some young man lost a lot of money by playing wild. Since Cross had the largest winnings at his place, that young man came back with a gun and demanded his money back. Cross told him nicely to put the revolver away, losses were part of the game. The youth was in the chips as they called it and insisted Cross stand. He even had trouble finding the holster to put his gun back. Cross stood up and held his left hand out warning him not to draw, but the boy fumbled for the gun, and when he finally cleared leather, Cross shot him. “I done this right, boys. Gave him all the chance I could. I didn’t want to kill him, but he’s dead or will be shortly.” A big blonde woman of the night with lots of exposure of her chest showing said, “He’s Judge Arnold’s son. He won’t take sitting down having his baby being killed by a Texan. Whatever your name is, mister, you better hurry out of Kansas.” Cross raked all the coins and paper money in his Stetson and left that night. Reward posters followed him, so he never stayed long anywhere. But the ladies of the west were generous with their bodies and charms, so life for Leonard Cross was never without some kind of frolicking gong on. Join us for tales of this new character on the western frontier, dodging lawmen, fathers, brothers, and husbands in his pursuit of a good life. Sincerely Yours,
THE CAMPFIRE Max Oliver Darkness came some time ago The food is gone and talk is slow The bottle now passed around No glasses can be found A sleeve wipes the bottle clean As friends pass it between The belly full and embers glow Brows wrinkle as seriousness shows The jokes were told long ago Cold day’s trail, long way to go No time for talk in the day’s ride From your worries you can’t hide And now that day’s work is done Memories come one by one The cattle softly low Whiskey cause the courage grow A man among friends is apt to say “I knew this girl once in Santa Fe And I love her to this very day” All at the embers stare As if answers found there In their mind they share A feeling of despair For every one has been there Silence for a long time The speaker’s words remind Of things left behind Not a mother’s son will ask Nor tease a mind so tasked With thoughts of love that would not be Each man hypnotized by the fire’s glow
Another would have friends know He had a girl when he was young But her father was on society’s high rung He sent the girl away, back east “So I came cowboying out west” A third hand tells of a man that’s dead In a dispute on who his girl would wed Things told at campfire’s side With good friends there’s nothing to hide Each man knows his story safe Never will a friend repeat or take Advantage of the scars within But use the knowledge to understand The experiences that make this man Another drink the fire is low The mood takes on a somber show Just briefly they came outside Of their tough lonely shell and pride It doesn’t last long’, they won’t abide Finally one who has spent too long in sorrow Say’s loudly “We didn’t do much today, we’ll give’er hell tomorrow” One by one they leave the fire To their saddle blanket beds retire Tired and full, sleep should come fast But it won’t to a mind so tasked With thoughts of love and home and times gone by They’re saddled up when first light comes to the sky Nothing will be said about last night Coffeed up, comes the cowboy’s plight “Let’s go, we’re burning good daylight.”
uthor Max Oliver was so intrigued by Comanche Life while living in Comancheria most of his life, that he researched the tribe and felt compelled to write about the daily life of the Numuu (the People). Garnering information from research, personal conversations, and experiences, he wrote the “The saga of a Comanche warrior) which includes five books, Little Boy, No More, Tomo Pui (Sky Eyes), Red Nose and Chief Red Nose, hoping to enlighten the reader of early day tribal life. He has also written Poetry, “Cries of the Heart”, and “Next Boom” which provides insight into the daily living and working as the oil industry began which he lived for a large portion of his life. Looking at religious aspects of all, the author wrote “College Degree Not Required” a philosophical work to show that one need not be a scholar to know God’s way.
JUSTICE Tammy Hinton
fter a day of dust and sweat I’d got my mules stabled and lifted my first beer at the Gilded Lily when the marshal walked through the door. Damn, I just wanted to enjoy my beer in peace, get some food and sleep, and get out of this town. He sauntered over, unknotted his yellow bandana, and wiped his forehead and the inside of his hat with it, then plunked the sweat stained hat on the bar. He was gray-haired, but still looked like he could handle himself. I’d feel no hesitation about calling him “sir” if he decided he needed to know what I was doing in these parts. I didn’t have to wait long for him to ask. “Howdy, mister. You just passing through?” “Howdy, Marshal. I delivered a printing press to Guthrie. I’ll be gone in the morning.” The barkeep traipsed over, wiped the counter top with a towel, and sat down the beer the marshal hadn’t ordered. A man in a fine store-bought suit and gray bowler got up from the table, strode over, and rested his foot on the rail. He pulled out a pencil and small notebook, then asked the lawman, “What’d you think about the trial today?” “What I think ain’t fit for printing. Sure as hell that damned she-devil is dancing on Elder’s grave.” He took a drink of the amber liquid then continued. “There are two kinds of justice in Oklahoma Territory, one for men and one for women. Sterling Elder didn’t get either one, and that’s a damn shame.” “Can I quote you, Ben?” “Nope.” The reporter patted the marshal on the back. As he headed for the door, he told the bartender he’d see him next trip. Then he turned back around and yelled at the marshal, “Don’t let it eat at you, Ben. You did what you could.” That left the two of us lifting mugs to quench our thirst in Chickasha’s half-lit saloon. I reached in my pocket and pulled out two bits to leave for the bartender when the marshal asked,
“You in a hurry, boy?” “No, sir, I don’t have to be on the road until sunrise. You got something you want to ask me?” I tried to look tough and nonthreatening at the same time. “I just need to talk awhile. I’m still wound up over today’s verdict. I’m not ready to go home to my missus yet. She doesn’t always want to hear me go on about outlaws and guns and the like.” He took a drink and looked right at me. “I can’t blame her none.” The officer signaled for two more beers. We took them and parked our butts in a dark corner near an empty poker table. The lawman hitched his gun to the side and leaned against the wall so he could watch the door. He pushed his hat back and rested, perched over his drink on the table. He wrapped two weathered hands around the cold glass and started again. “Jake sure pours a nice head of foam. He brews his own beer in back. His family’s a bunch of them Germans that settled in Texas. They moved north when the territory opened up.” He raised the mug and drank. “Damn, I’m getting tired of this job.” He said it without hesitation. What is it that makes a man share more of himself when he’s lifting beers with a stranger than he would with his own wife? I waited for him to begin again. When he didn’t, I started the conversation. “So that man, Elder, that got killed—was he a friend of yours?” “Yeah, we were friends. He and his wife, Mollie, were neighbors. Sterling came over and strung wire with me the first year we were both in Grady County. I didn’t even have to ask. He just showed up. We pulled on a jug that night and told each other the stories about our lives, added with a white lie or two. Elder made it through the war, survived freezing and starving at Camp Douglas, only to be shot down like a dog on his own doorstep.”
56 “Camp Douglas, wasn’t that a Yank prison up north in Chicago? I heard that lots of Rebs didn’t take too much to that part of the country. Said it was the Yank’s Andersonville.” “Sterling told me there wasn’t enough food or blankets to go around. The wind would come off the lake and blow right through the walls. Once he’d huddled with a fellow to stay warm and woke up cold to find the man had died during the night. The only thing that kept Elder going was thinking about his sweetheart, Amanda, back in Georgia.” “I thought you said his wife’s name was Mollie.” “Amanda was his first wife. They grew up together. She bore him a couple of children, but she died when they left Georgia and settled in Texas. He had a real sad look in his eyes when he talked about her. When she died, he needed a mother for his young’uns so that’s when he hooked up with Mollie. Her family worked a nearby farm. Mollie was young and high strung.” “Did her being high strung have anything to do with Elder getting shot?” “Could be, but we’ll never know for sure. There was bad blood between the Isaacs and the Elders. The Isaacs were neighbors of the Elders too. One spring day, Sterling and Mollie were out
in front of their cabin when Lizzie Isaacs and her brother, John Ellis, came over and started a fuss over grazing rights. Lizzie slid off her horse, and she and Mollie got into a regular cat fight. They were pulling out handfuls of hair and rolling around on the ground, kicking and screaming, and both of them big with child. All of them except Sterling were carrying loaded revolvers. The two men stood and watched the brawl, thinking it was pretty durn funny. It went bad real fast. Elder turned to walk into the house, and John Ellis shot him dead. Pert near blew the back of his head clean off.” The marshal paused and took a slow gulp. He seemed distant like he was reliving the scene. I spoke up. “I never seen women tussle like that, Marshal. Except maybe once some fallen angels in a cat-house in Abilene years ago. It just don’t seem natural for women to brawl.” “Well, it was natural enough for Lizzie Isaacs. Lizzie left her first husband, a dirt farmer named Byrne, and her son, Wiley, and took up with George Isaacs. George was a bad sort, with a well-earned reputation for trouble. He and Lizzie hung out with local outlaw Tulsa Jack Black and with the likes of the Bill Doolin gang. They all parted ways when Doolin joined up with the Dal-
57 ton gang. George came up with a plan for him and Jim Harbolt, Jake McKinzie, and some of their friends to fandangle the Wells Fargo Company outta a passel of money, and they got caught.” “What they’d do?” “George got them fellars to put their money together in five packets of one dollar and two dollar bills. He made it to look like they had twenty-five thousand dollars. It only amounted to about five hundred, though. Isaacs sent it from Kansas City back to Canadian, Texas, insured for the full twenty-five. His men planned to rob the train when it stopped at the station and then later collect the insurance. The Kansas City Wells Fargo detective worried about the train carrying so much money, so he wired ahead to Sheriff Tom McGee to meet the train. When the gang arrived to rob the station, shots flew. They mortally wounded Sheriff McGee. The gang vamoosed, leaving the packets of doctored money behind. The money told Wells Fargo who they were looking for. Once the posse got Isaacs, he admitted his part in the heist. He was doing life in prison in Texas for McGee’s death when Elder was murdered here in Oklahoma Territory. ” “Outlawing seems to have been the family business all right.” The bartender took off his apron and put on his hat. “I’m going to the café. Can I bring you fellars something?” “Sure. Bring us two of their daily specials and some cobbler if you don’t mind. I’ll settle the bill later. Thanks, Jake.” Sounded to me like I was getting fed free for listening to him tell me about this wild woman desperado. I would’ve paid just to hear the end of the story. We exchanged small talk until Jake returned with the trays. I could smell the daily special from across the room. It wasn’t German, but it suited this starving country boy. I patted my belly, leaned back, and relaxed in the chair. “Did you arrest Lizzie and her brother?” “Sure did. I arrested him for murder and her for accessory to murder. She bonded out and was free for the two years before it came to trial. That didn’t set well with folks around these parts—me being one of them. Mollie testified against both of them. It didn’t take the jury long to find Lizzie and Ellis both guilty. Around here, the death penalty was the normal sentence for murder, but since she was a female, she got a life sentence.” “Hell, that’s fitting, life in prison.” “Maybe, if she was still in prison. She and her two sons were living in another county some years later. That gal was as free as a bird. There’s no paperwork on file in Guthrie to say why they released her. I doubt it could’ve been for good behavior.” I scratched my scraggly day-old whiskers. “That don’t seem fair. Did she turn over a new leaf ?”
“You tell me. Her younger sister, Helen, married a man named Tom Sparks and lived over in Indian Territory. They were a respectable family in their community. Helen died in childbirth and left four motherless children. Next thing everyone knows, Lizzie moved in with Tom and calls herself Jessie Sparks. There’s no record that they ever married. Lizzie was a good fifteen years older than Tom. Tom proceeded to get interested in a younger woman, so Lizzie burned down his new barn. Tom got up a head of steam and went to town and filed charges against her. She’s arrested and taken to jail. That loathsome woman posted bond and took one of her boys, Roy, back out to Tom’s place to scare him or maybe she thought she didn’t have enough blood on her hands already.” The marshal stopped to take a bite of cobbler, a drink of coffee, and to make me crazy wondering what happened next. “What did Tom do?” “Tom told her and Roy to git off his place. Told her he could lawfully shoot her for trespassing. She cussed him and called him a couple of names no lady should know. Tom told her to git or he’ll shoot. She sauntered towards him, hands on her hips, yelling how no man was going to tell her what to do. Challenged by her rancor, mad, and feeling threatened, Tom pulled the trigger. The blast knocked her back with a big hole in her chest. Lizzie was dead before she hit the ground. He blowed her straight to hell with one shot. Roy whirled around and traded shots with Tom. Tom’s got a shotgun, so he won that battle. Roy’s wounded in the arm, but he managed to git back to town with his ma’s body.” “Well, finally, there’s a suitable justice for that woman.” “Maybe so. The story’s not over.” “What? There’s more?” “The local sheriff arrested Tom Sparks for murdering Lizzie.” “No. They were trespassing. He gave them warning.” “Tom’s trial took place three months later in Cromwell, Texas. Lizzie’s two sons, Dick and Roy Isaacs, were called to testify against Tom. The boys saw him on the street across from the courthouse before the trial even started and pumped him full of lead. I saw a picture of Tom’s body. They filled him with more holes then I could count on two hands.” “Why? Why did they shoot him? That makes no sense. He was already on trial for murder?” “In court, Roy sneered and said they didn’t trust the law to get justice for their ma. Can you believe that? They wanted justice for that vile evil woman.” I sat speechless. The story played like a dime novel. The marshal continued. “Today the jury found them boys not guilty. Not guilty. Everyone in front of the courthouse saw
those two kill Tom Sparks. Kill a man who had lived a good clean life until he met up with that no-good, she-devil, Lizzie Ellis Byrne Isaacs, Jessie Sparks, or whatever hell name she answered to. Makes me wonder why I wear this badge. Why do I put my life on the line so murderers can be set free? That’s what my wife will ask me tomorrow when I strap on my gun to walk the streets. I don’t rightly have an answer.” Neither did I. What kind of jury would do a thing like that? “Well, Mr. Byrne, I need to get on home. Have a good trip back to Texas. Take care of yourself.” “How’d you know I’m Wiley Byrne?” “I stopped at the livery on my way over here. I do that at the end of every day so I know who’s in my town. I knew right away when I heard your name was Byrne. The livery owner is new around here so he never put two and two together. I figured you stopped in Chickasha to hear the story firsthand so I obliged you.” “I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. It happened when I was young, so I don’t remember much. My step-mother is a wonderful woman. She’s the only mother I’ve ever known.” “Keep it that way. Lizzie may have birthed you, but that don’t make her your ma. You seem like a nice enough young man. Don’t let Lizzie steal your life like she did your brothers. Now, you have a safe ride back home.” We shook hands. “Thanks, Marshal.” * * *
ward winning author, Tammy Hinton explains, “I don’t want to live anywhere where men don’t wear boots and a Stetson hat.” Maybe that has an influence in her desire to write books that have a western flavor, whether period pieces or contemporary. And she has had great success at it. Her books Unbridled and Retribution, won the prestigious Will Rogers Medallion Award and Best Western Novel for from the Western Fictioneers. Unbridled also was a finalist for the Spur Award from Western Writers of America and the Willa Award from Women Writing the West, Ms. Hinton earned a Bachelor of Science in EducationComposite Social Sciences from Black Hills State University, Spearfish, South Dakota. While there she received the Wenona Cook Scholarship Award presented by Friends of the Leland D. Case Library for Western Historical Studies for her academic achievement. Please check out her website tammyhinton.com.
The next morning I pointed my team south and never went back to Chickasha. Knowing what I know now helped me bury the demons that clawed at my gut. I’ve never tried to find my brothers. I only think about Lizzie once or twice a year. I still wonder why she went bad. I guess only God and Lucifer know for sure what made her decide to spend eternity burning in the fiery pit of hell. Author Tammy Hinton’s grandmother was Angie May Elder, Sterling and Amanda Elder’s granddaughter. This fictional narrative is based on the true story of Sterling’s death. He rests in a small unkempt graveyard in a pasture surrounded by grazing cattle near Chickasha, Oklahoma. His headstone is pushed over and covered with vines. Lizzie Isaacs is buried under the name of Jessie Sparks in Cromwell, Texas. A large tombstone Roy Isaacs placed there reads, “No love like a mother’s love ever was known.” Both graves can be viewed at www.findagrave.com.
REDEMPTION B.J. McMinn
age boiled red-hot in Leroy’s gut as he pounded the metal spade against the crude cross one last time. The marker sank deep into the dry earth from the force of his anger. He threw the shovel to the ground. A Kansas wind whipped across the top of the two freshly dug graves, and dust swirled around his legs. Carved deep into the wooden plank, the words Mattie Ragsdale, beloved wife and mother, reminded him of the few short years they’d had together. A shorter span of life lay beneath the second mound of earth. Beth, his twelve-year-old daughter hadn’t had the chance to grow into the beautiful woman her youth had promised. A small hand slipped into his and squeezed. “You gonna kill the men what done this, Pa?” He glanced down at his ten-year-old son, Charlie. Long brown hair fell over his eyes and clung to his wet cheeks. The boy hadn’t shed a tear since they’d come home for the noon meal and found the homestead raided and Mattie and Beth brutally murdered, until now. Leroy glanced passed the framework of the new house he’d planned to finish before winter to the windowless log cabin― not much bigger than the privy―that he’d called home since the War Between the States ended three years ago. Most of the chinking littered the ground. The barn, one door missing, and the other hanging to one side, listed toward the east. Over the rise, he could barely see the field him and Charlie had plowed this morning. All the work he’d put into the place didn’t amount to a hill of beans without Mattie, who with her soft spoken ways and Bible reading had changed him from a hardened bounty hunter, who preferred to bring his prey in dead rather than alive, to a church-going farmer.“Pa?” Yanked from his reverie by his son’s voice, he said, “Yeah, I’ll get ’em. Saddle up boy. We got a long piece to ride before we camp for the night. We can’t let those murdering bastards get too big of a head start.” Blue eyes, so much like his mothers, lit with eagerness. Without a word, Charlie raced toward the railed enclosure where they’d corralled the horses before they discovered the gruesome
scene inside the cabin. He headed for the house. Knowing what he’d find, he took a deep breath before he stepped over the threshold. Anger seethed inside him at the sight of the ransacked house, the bed in the corner stained with Mattie’s blood and Beth’s ripped clothing trampled into the dirt floor. Those bastards would pay. Pay with their lives. With a shoe missing from one of the horse’s hind hooves, tracking the two men would be easy. He yanked a pillowcase from a pillow and tossed food items inside. Canned beans, peaches, anything they could eat, even the biscuits left from their morning meal. The hinge on the old chest growled in protest when he lifted the lid. Inside, under Mattie’s wedding dress, laid his holster and Remington .44 army revolver. His calloused fingers clung to the lacey garment a moment before he pushed it aside to lift out the gun he hadn’t worn since the day they were married. Unfolding the soft, pliable leather, he swung the belt around his hips and fastened the buckle before tying the thin strap around his leg. The pistol slid easily from its holster when he tested his draw. Over the years, he’d kept his trade honed by hunting squirrel, rabbit, and deer for food. When he caught the bastards, his aim would be true. And deadly. He headed for the corral. Astride his horse, Charlie sat ramrod straight. Anger twisted his young face. “Did ya bring me a gun pa? I can help ya kill those no-account scum.” Leroy squeezed his son’s leg. The boy’s tender heart had changed into the heart of an angry man set on vengeance the instant he’d seen his ma and sister. A boy shouldn’t have to grow up in no longer than the time it took to swat a fly. The hatred lurking in his eyes is not what Mattie would want for their son. A young kid had no business seeing what Leroy planned to do, but he had no place to leave him, nor the time to take him there if he had. Charlie would just have to tag along. He’d try to protect the boy from becoming the kind of man he’d been before Mattie’s love changed him. Right now, the man in him demanded retribution from the murders that killed his family. An eye for an
62 eye, Mattie’s Good Book said. “When the time comes, you can help by doing what yer told.” His intent stare held his son’s hate filled glare. “You understand me, boy?” His fingers tightened on the scrawny thigh under his hand. “Yeah, pa.” The jingle of spurs sounded softly as he slipped his booted foot in the stirrup and mounted. The bag full of supplies that he’d hung on the saddle horn bumped his leg as they galloped away from the homestead. Gaze fastened to the soft earth, he tracked the shoeless hoof print south. The men had a good four-hour lead. With any luck, they’d catch them before they came to any big towns with a sheriff who would prevent Leroy from dealing out the vengeance burning in his soul. He pulled his horse to a halt at dusk and made camp. Charlie snatched what food he could, stuffed it into his mouth, and fell into his bedroll. Leroy leaned against his upended saddle sipping coffee and gazed across the campfire to watch Charlie sleep. The day of hard riding had been tough on the kid but he hadn’t complained. All day they had splashed through streams, inched their way over rocky terrain, and galloped across spans of open prairie. Late in the afternoon, he thought he’d lost the trail. When they came to an outcropping of rock, he dismounted and climbed to the highest point to scan the horizon. In the distance, he saw two men. Convinced he’d spotted his query he mounted and with Charlie following, picked up the trail again. Charlie was swaying in the saddle by the time they stopped to camp long after dusk had fallen. The boy had barely eaten a tin of peaches and some hard tack before he curled onto his side and fell asleep. Sliding deep into his bedroll, Leroy tried to sleep. They had covered enough ground that by tomorrow night his prey would be in his sight. He could sneak into the outlaw’s camp and murder them while they slept. Hopefully, their deaths would fill the hollow place in his heart. Thoughts of the past raced through his mind. Wind whispered through the treetops in that soft, gently way of summer when stars glittered bright against the velvet dark sky. He had proposed to Mattie on a night like this, but she’d refused to consider marriage unless he hung up his guns. “Vengeance is Mine, the Lord said,” she’d told him, “redemption is yours for the asking, take it.” And for Mattie, he had, until he’d gone home to discover her murdered. Her death demanded retribution. He rolled over and ignored the words his wife had convinced him were true fourteen years ago. Now, hatred burned in his heart. Those men had taken Mattie away from him. They were going to spend eternity in hell for what they had done to her and Beth, and he was going to send them there. Charlie helped him break camp just as the sun began to glimmer over the horizon. Another long grueling day in the saddle lay ahead of them. Night had crept over the land when he finally saw the faint
glow of a campfire glittering through the trees. After two days of tracking his prey and hate-wrenching pain gnawing at his gut with every stride of his horse, his quarry lay within reach. In a stand of trees, he dismounted and tied the reins to a low limb. When he’d finished, Charlie stood beside him, his horse secured to a sturdy bush. “I’m going with ya, Pa.” The quiver in Charlie’s whispered words was unmistakable. He was scared, but determined. Hand on his shoulder, Leroy said, “No, boy. You stay here. If I don’t come back in five minutes after the shootin’ stops, you mount up and head home.” He took the bag of supplies and slipped it over Charlie’s saddle horn. “Go to town and tell the sheriff what happened. Hank and his wife will take you in.” “But, Pa.” “Don’t argue.” Leroy grabbed his son and hugged him tight. He ruffled the boy’s hair and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back. Now let’s sit here under this tree, nice and quiet like, while they settle down to sleep.” Head braced against the bark of the old oak, he muttered under his breath, “Fools, did they think no one would avenge the deaths of their womenfolk?” The cadence of tree frogs stilled as darkness blanketed the forest. Charlie lay asleep snuggled against his side. He shook him awake. “It’s time. Remember what I said. I showed you signs along the trail to follow. If you have to, you can find your way home can’t ya?” “Yeah, Pa.” “Good, then mind what I told you.” Charlie stared at him. Unshed tears sparkled in his eyes. With one last hug, Leroy judged the distance to the campfire and jogged away. His heart hammered with anticipation as he crept through the brush toward the now quiet camp. He’d give those murdering bastards the same chance they gave his Mattie and Beth. None. Flat on his stomach, Leroy studied the camp. The dying embers flickered in the darkness. A man lay on each side of the fire on top of their bedrolls. Horses tethered nearby, lifted their heads, snorted softly, and then ignored him. He rose to his full six-foot-two, took three steps, mashed his boot on the chest of the man closest to him, and cocked his gun. Eyes bulged with fear and the man opened his mouth to speak. Leroy shook his head in warning. Mattie’s sweet voice kept up a persistent nagging in his head. “Vengeance is Mine. Vengeance is Mine.” The litany caused him to hesitate. “Pa?” A small figure appeared at the edge of the clearing. In one hand, he held the outlaws saddlebags, in the other, firelight glittered off his ma’s wedding band. Before he knew what happened, the sleeping man jumped up and grabbed his son. With an arm around Charlie’s chest, he yanked the boy against him. His gun pointed directly at the boy’s head.
63 “Drop yer gun, or I drop the kid.” The cold, wispy fingers of death crawled up his spine. He couldn’t lose Charlie. But if he surrendered his gun they’d both be dead as quick as it took the man to cock and pull the trigger twice. One look at his son’s eyes, wide with fright and the knowledge that he’d made a fatal mistake by disobeying a direct order to stay put, and Leroy knew he couldn’t let Charlie die knowing his defiance had caused both their deaths. Leroy stared into the killers face. A feral grin spilt the man’s too-thin lips. He knew Leroy had two options: watch his son die or let his son watch him die. “What’s it’s gonna to be, mister?” Without warning, small hands shoved the gun skyward. Charlie lifted his legs and tucked his feet under him. His weight broke the man’s grip. Leroy lifted his gun and pulled the trigger. Charlie dropped to his knees and scrambled away before the outlaw, a bullet between his eyes, hit the ground. With his foot still in the middle of the first man’s chest, Leroy whipped the barrel of his .45 down, pressed it against the man’s forehead and whispered, “Get ready to meet yer maker.” Bug-eyed, the man begged, “Please mister, don’t shoot.” A knot clenched tight in his stomach. His shoulders quivered. This man deserved to die. Blood pulsated in his veins. Aching to pull the trigger, his finger twitched. Name one good reason why I shouldn’t pull the trigger, he told the pesky, little voice whispering in his ear. The man you killed threatened Charlie, but this will be coldblooded murder. A soft, subtle breeze drifted across his face, a breeze as gentle as his wife’s loving-touch. Again, Mattie’s sweet voice echoed in his mind. “Vengeance is Mine, the Lord said, redemption is yours for the asking, take it.” He glanced at his son. Charlie’s eyes no longer burned with vengeance or hatred, but horror at what he’d witnessed. Death, up close, had a way of changing a man, or a boy. He released the hammer. “Come on, Charlie. Let’s take this foul piece of dung heap back to town where he can meet his fate at the hands of the hangman. He’ll have the whole ride there to ponder about how his neck will feel stretched at the end of a noose.” “Here, Pa.” A rope tangled from Charlie’s hand, his eyes sparkled with relief. “Tie ‘em tight. We have to get home. Ma wouldn’t want the farm to fall to ruin.” “Yer right Charlie. And yer ma was right, too.” The burning in his chest cooled. The knot in his stomach unraveled. Peace settled deep into his soul. “About a lot of things,” he added under his breath. By dawn, he had one-man draped face down across his saddle, and the other, mounted, hands tied behind his back. Leroy gazed at Charlie, picked up the reins, and nudged his horse forward. “Let’s go home, son.”
arbara J. McMinn lives in NE Oklahoma with her husband. Fascinated with history and the western cowboy she has forged them together in The Prescott Series. This family saga focuses on the lives, loves, and disappointments settlers faced in the 1850’s. Barbara’s varied interest range from quilting to horseback riding. She serves as treasurer of the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc., and is a member of several other writing groups throughout Oklahoma and Arkansas. In addition to the Prescott Series, she is also the author of Love Across Time, a time-travel romance novel, the reference book Phrases for the Expressive Writer, and the forthcoming mystery, Murder Once, Murder Twice.
im Dailey had no reason to stop in Willow Grove except for some matches. He was down to a dozen or so, and he decided to stop. Dismounted, he hitched Brody to the rack. Two horses stood next to his own all covered in road dust and dried salt. They’d sure been rode hard from somewhere to get there. He stepped into the mercantile to buy a box of Torpedo Head Kitchen Matches. He planned to ride on west after that Things looked matter of fact quiet enough in this small Kansas town. He tipped his hat to two proper ladies putting up parasols who ignored him going out. No matter, he didn’t expect more than a nod from them. Inside the shady interior of the store, he blinked in disbelief at what he saw. Two armed men stood at the counter with their backs to him. Their guns were aimed at a man in an apron behind the counter with his hands high. Dailey drew his own Colt. “Drop your guns.” The taller man whirled with a pistol in hand, and Dailey’s six-gun spat fire and smoke out the barrel. The stricken outlaw shot his own revolver in the wood floor and dropped with bent knees to the floor. In the eye burning gun smoke, Dailey swung his six gun toward the other bandit’s threat. The muzzle belched more smoke, lead, and noise. That holdup man crumbled down on his face. Dailey kicked the gun from his hand, the fog burning his eyes. Where was the clerk? He hurried to look over the counter. The man was on the floor. Had he shot him too? He holstered his gun, leaped over the counter, and lifted the man’s head on to his leg. The shorter man in his forties looked groggy and shook his head to clear it. “You shot?” Dailey asked him. “No. I guess I fainted.” “Aw hell, I was worried you were shot.’ “What is hell’s going on in here?” someone shouted from the front door. Dailey stuck his head up to see through the veil of gun smoke at a marshal with a shotgun in the front door. “Hold your fire. Those two robbers are down. This man fainted, and I ain’t scratched.” ‘That you, Hurley?” the lawman asked the storekeeper. “Yeah, Buck, this man saved me from getting robbed and maybe killed.” “What’s your name, mister?” “John Dailey.” “Where do you live?” “I use to live in Newby. But I’m looking for work right now.” “Well drifter, I guess we owe you a meal and a night’s lodging for your quick thinking.” “You ever think about working in a store?” Hurley asked him while looking him over and brushing off his apron.
“No, not really. I’ve been a cowboy, since I was a boy.” “Can you add and subtract?” Hurley asked “Of course, and read and write, too.” “Well, Dailey, why don’t you try it?” the marshal asked. “Hey boys, couple of you take these dead guys up to Sawyers Funeral Home. Everyone stay out of here. We need to air this place out. No ladies in here.” He shoed the curious out of the store with his hand waves “Is my father all right?” A woman’s voice sounded desperate, and the marshal let her by him. She came with her skirt in hands. She stopped at her sight of the first body sprawled on the floor. “Daddy, are you all right?” She ran into his arms. “I was so worried when I heard the shots down here.” “I am fine. Thanks to this man right here. John Dailey, met my daughter, Heidi.” He rushed to remove his hat for her. “How are you, Miss?” “No, I am Heidi, Mr. Dailey.” He looked down at the prettiest young woman he’d ever seen in his twenty-seven years of life. Why, she looked like a queen or princess or even an angel in the haze hanging in the store. But her beauty damn sure took his breath away. “Heidi, talk him into going to work for me.” “Sure, Daddy needs you, Dailey—is that what they call you?’ “Yes, there’s lots of Johns in this world.” She gripped his sleeves and ducked her face, a little embarrassed at his reference. “Yes,” she said recovered and released his arms. “There are lots of them. No, my father works too hard and needs some good help. Why don’t we go to our house, and I will cook supper for the three of us.” “I need to put Brody up first. He’s my horse.” “Does he need to stay here any longer?” she asked her father. The bodies had been removed and Marshal Long went to see about the one they took to Doc Green’s office. “I think we can close up. People know we’ve had enough for one day.” Hurley started herding the few remaining people out in his gentle manner that Dailey observed. “I’ll show you where you can put your horses,” Heidi led him outside, nodding and talking to the onlookers as well. She stopped at the bay horse on the hitch rack. “Is that Brody?” “Yes, ma’am. I mean that’s Brody, Heidi. He’s a good horse.” “Oh, I can see that. Bring him along. We have horses and a place for him.” Their fresh painted house was two story and new. The tall gable roof barn behind it still smelled of fresh lumber, and the alfalfa hay in the mow smelled sweet. “You can put him in a stall.” “Oh, he’s a using horse. Can he be in a corral outside?”
67 “Oh yes. I understand.” She led him out back. “You can toss him some hay, and he will have water in that pen.” “Thanks.” He undid the girth, swung the saddle, bedroll, and pads off him. “Come this way. It can go in the harness room.” She showed him the rack, and he put it up with the blankets on top. Bridle hung on the horn, he clapped his hands. Brody was rolling in the dirt. He could hear him grunting as he forked him some of the sweet hay over the fence. “Now tell me about yourself, Dailey,” she said and fell in beside him going to the house. “I was born in Tennessee. We moved to Texas when I was five. At fifteen I drove cattle to Abilene for John Majors. Did that for three years and then I went to work for Mr. Cannon and ran the outfit—took two thousand cows to Nebraska to stock his ranch.” “Ever been married?” “No, ma’am.” “Did that sound bold of me to ask that of you?” “No.” “Don’t be nice to me.” “Heidi, I’m the frankest man you will ever meet.” “Where did you learn that?” “The last man I worked for bringing his cattle up here from Texas. He asked if I would be his ranch foreman. I said not unless he changed his attitude toward me and let me run what I know best and him do his part the best.” “What did he say?” “Why you are the frankest man I have ever met. I said, it’s the truth.” “Are you going to go to work for my father?” “I’m kind of a sugar foot, but I’ll give it a try.” “Folks are really settling around here and raising crops. This part of Kansas will soon be farmland.” He agreed. “They sure won’t need a cowboy, will they.” “I’m sorry. That sounds so final.” “Hey, don’t worry your pretty head about me. I am a survivor. Trust me.” “Since my father lives here, you can take a bedroom in our big house.” “Now I don’t want to ruin your reputation. In a small town like this, tongues can wag.” “It will be none of their business.” He stopped in the hall to hang his hat and six-gun-holster on the peg. Then he looked at the polished wood floor. Too nice for his boots. He sat down on the parson seat and twisted them off. “What are you doing?” “I’m not wearing my gritty soled boots in there. Why, my mother would have killed me if I’d done that at home.”
She chuckled. “You’ve been gone from there how long?” He shook his head. “Too long to count. But I do have manners.” “There’s a Kansas City newspaper on the couch you can read. I’ll change my clothes and start supper.” “Don’t fret about me. Thanks.” She chewed on her lower lip. “I don’t know what I’d done if those men had killed my father. He and I are so close. My mother died five years ago when we first moved her. Dad’s store business has been growing, and we keep each other up.” She stood in the kitchen door, acting like she shouldn’t leave him. “I’m fine. Go change. Don’t worry about me.” “All right.” He watched her disappear. No need in him thinking about her and him. She was too damn nice to put up with the likes of a chuck line-riding cowboy. He opened the four-day-old newspaper and began reading. Congress was upset about the New York stock market crash. Plans for the government to borrow money was put off until financial markets returned to normal. He shook his head. Every time he read a newspaper, the nation’s economy was on another brink of collapse or one had happened. Money had been short in the country ever since the War. Why, they’d even printed money for coins ‘cause they didn’t have silver or copper to mint them. “Anything interesting?” She appeared in an apron, and he put down the paper. “No, just more bad news. Be nice if you could pick up a newspaper and read a happy story.” “I never thought about that.” He rose and headed for her. “I’ll just hang out in there if I can?” “Can? Why, you are most welcome. Sit at the table while I make biscuits, and I can flour you down.” He laughed. She sure was good-natured. Reminded him of his oldest sister, Connie, who married Harris Randall and had five kids. They lived in north central Texas on a ranch. No one could get her down, either. She worked hard beside her husband, cooked their meals, kept her kids in clean clothes, and her house always looked kept. “Heidi, where did you come from before Kansas?” “Missouri. We lived at Jefferson City.” “I’ve seen southern Missouri, but never been that far north.” “Were you in the war?” He shook his head. “Wasn’t there a draft in Texas?” “I was with the Texas rangers the last two years of the war, chasing Comanches.”
68 “That was dangerous.” “Yes, ma’am. I mean Heidi.” “I hope you forget about acting like I am some queen or princess. I’m Heidi. I ride horse astride so I don’t fall off. Does that shock you?” She was busy cutting out biscuits from her flattened dough with a whiskey jigger and placing them on a greased flat pan. “My sisters did it that way too.” “I’d like to meet them.” “Lord, they’re scattered. I was thinking about my oldest, Connie Randall, who lives in north Texas. She has five kids, and they own a nice farm-ranch north of Fort Worth.” “Five kids?” Her eye brows raised in disbelief. “There were seven of us lived to be grown ups. Five kids worry you?” She looked near embarrassed. “I simply never imagined myself having five kids.” Her biscuits in the oven, she glanced at the ceiling for some help. She amused him. Supper was good. He’d not feasted at a dining room table served by a young woman with linen napkins in a long time. Her father looked tired when he came in for the meal, and she’d made a fuss over him that perked him up. “Any more trouble?” Dailey asked him. “No. But some people were upset those two had been shot. I can’t believe people—oh, my. What were they going to do, pray over them while they robbed me?” Dailey shook out his napkin. “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Having taken her seat, she pointed at him. “That is exactly right.” They laughed. After supper she heated water for him to take a bath. Since her father was close to his size, she found him some clothes to wear after he bathed in the tub. The pants legs were a little short, but they’d work. She also brought him a razor, a hoghair brush, and shaving mug. A while later all cleaned up, he felt new again and joined them in the living room. “Ah, we have a new man.” She smiled. “I don’t know about that, but I appreciate the loan of the clothes. Guess if you still want me, I’ll get up in the morning and try store clerking.” “Wonderful. I have a good trade in the store. Not having a railroad here, it is a little hard to get resupplied, but they talk about building one through this valley.” “That would be the frosting on the cake around here. Railroads are the answer to commerce.” “How much education do you have?” he asked. “I went to several sessions of school growing up, but a man
I worked for said I needed to stay informed by reading lots of newspaper and printed things. And I have. Even when I was a ranger, I read every newspaper I could get my hands on.” “Sounds like we have ourselves a real smart man here, Heidi. What was being a ranger like?” “Busy,” he said, thinking she didn’t need to hear about killing Injuns and bringing in men wanted for rape of small girls. “Sometime, I’d love to hear about your adventures when you were riding with them.” “I guess I’d still been one, but that carpetbag government they got down there disbanded us after the war.” “What a shame.” “Poor folks live out in west Texas are paying the price, too. Them Comanche and Kiowas are murdering ranch families right and left.” Enough said about that in mixed company. “Heidi will get us up early. She makes good breakfasts. I can show you all about the store tomorrow and get you a pair of pants fits you better than mine.” ‘That will be fine.” “Where can he sleep?” ‘The first room on the right at the head of the stairs. The bed is made. Will you need anything else?” she asked. “No, you all have been very hospitable to this old cowboy.” “We are grateful you happened along. Oh, the marshal said you would get their horses and saddles. He thinks there are rewards on those two as well, and you will get them too. One’s dead, and the other one is close to it.” “I have no place for their horses.” She had him by the arm. “Yes, you do. You can bring them out here and put them in the corral until you can sell them.” He looked at the tin ceiling squares for help. “Thanks.” * * * Store keeping for him started with sweeping out the place and dusting the goods off. The acrid smell of gun smoke still hung in the air along with all the rest of the aromas a general store could muster. The feed shed was out back with a dock. He and Hurley had looked over most of it. There were two barrels of coal oil with spigots on stands and several empty gallon glass bottles that could be filled, though he said most had their own can. Lots of the loose grain was stored in the big stall-like bins. Several sacks had been filled with corn, ground corn, or oats. They were marked, and a platform scale to weight them stood by the dock. In his white apron, new pants, and his hat on his head, he met the first influx of customers. He tipped his hat to the first lady, pencil in hand. “What can I get you, ma’am?” “I am Mrs. Whipple,” she said in a demeaning tone of voice.
69 “Well, ma’am, I am proud to meet you. I’m Dailey. What may I get you today?” “Do you have any of Mrs. Mayberry’s Comfort Pills?” ‘Yes, we do,” Hurley put in while waiting on another and gave a head toss back. “Second shelf, blue box.” “Thanks. One or two?” he asked her. “One will suit me.” He put it on the counter. “Anything else, ma’am?” “I am considering that at the moment.” Hurley must have seen him fixing to turn in his resignation. “Dailey, go get Jane Hale here two sacks of oats. I can handle Mrs. Whipple’s purchases.” The fresh-faced woman with gray hair gave him a motherly smile. “I’ll sign the ticket and then I can back my buckboard to the dock. You can add the oats to the bill when you come back in. Thanks, Hurley.” “See you next week.” “I’ll meet you back there,” he said to her, so glad to escape the lilac perfume of Mrs. Whipple. He weighed the two oats sacks, gave her a receipt, then put them in her rig. He jumped down. “I heard about the attempted robbery you stopped. You are a nice young man. Hurley really needs help here, and you will be good for his business. We aren’t all like that stuffed shirt hussy in there. Don’t let her kind get you down.” He about kissed her. Sounded like his mother giving him advice. “Thanks. I’ll remember that.” Nothing after that ever got him down the rest of the day. “You were busy,” Hurley said. “Heidi came by to take your two horses home.” “I forgot about them.” “Business was sure good today. Time to lock up.” They were walking up the empty dirt street to the house. “I had forgotten about the horses.. I didn’t—” “She knew you were busy. We had a helluva mid week business day today.” “I kinda wondered how you handled it by yourself if that was the way it went.” “I had tried two other young men. They would never have gotten it. You fit in the job like a glove.” “’Cept for Mrs. Whipple.” Hurley looked around in the growing darkness to be sure they were alone. “She is the biggest pain in the ass I have.” They laughed. Heidi met them at the door. “It’s about time you two got in here. You stop for a beer?” ”We should have,” her father teased. She hugged him, then hugged Dailey. Her impulsive squeeze about took him back, but when she let go, he hung up his hat
71 and then sat down and took off his boots. “Those old felt slippers are yours till I can get some better ones,” she said to him. “Well, thank you.” She’d thought of everything. My, my, his life had taken a new turn that he’d never expected in his wildest daydreams. Here he was living under a roof and working as a clerk in a general store. For the most part he liked store keeping, but no telling for how long. Nothing ever lasted forever in his life, anymore. Like the ranger deal, he liked that, but those damn carpetbaggers had shut it down and were letting the Injuns kill all those Confederate-loving ranchers west of Fort Worth. He could grit his teeth over them letting that go on down there. Her supper was like a holiday meal to him. He figured in another few months or so he’d miss eating boiled frijoles three times a day. Fried spring chicken, mashed potatoes, and new crop green beans plus her biscuits and sweet cream butter made a fine meal. “Hurley, if you didn’t work so hard at the store, you’d weigh two hundred pounds,” he said to him. They laughed, and he agreed. “There is a new newspaper to read,” she said to Dailey. “I’m not going to disappoint you, I hope, but after I feed those horses, I am going straight to bed. This store keeping is hard work.” “I fed them. Those new ones are well broke horses. They should sell for a good price.” ‘Thanks. I am in your debt. What are they worth?” “I’d ask sixty dollars apiece for them.” “You can sell them for that I’ll pay you a commission.” “She can sell them, I bet,” Hurley said. “Sell them. Horse like that in Texas are lucky to bring ten bucks.” “We will see, Mr. Dailey.” He shook his head. “No, I’ll be whistling Dixie.” Realizing the slip, he covered his mouth. “I mean Yankee Dottle Dandy up here.” “Yes,” she said, amused by his slip. He turned in and slept when he hit the mattress. Jarred awake in the darkness, he realized that she was in the bed with him. He rolled over on his side to face her and found she was wearing a nightdress that was buttoned to the collar. “What’s wrong?” he asked in a stage whisper. “I’m sorry. But I couldn’t sleep,” she whispered. “Girl, you can’t. . . do this.” “You know I wanted to kiss you tonight, I was so glad you stayed to work at the store.” He nodded. “But—” She silenced him with a finger to his lips and then kissed him. “Do you want five kids?”
“If I have to have that many children to have you, yes.” Gods, what should he do? She was asking way too much of him to be restrained with her having him in such a spot. It wasn’t that he didn’t want her. There was a real strong appeal for him to take her body, but did he really want—need—a wife? “Am I shocking you?” “Yes.” “I am innocent. I have never kissed another man in my life until tonight. But I am withering all over inside to be yours.” Forehead to forehead, his hand idly ran over the material encasing her back. “We can’t do this tonight. Why you want me, I have no idea. You hardly know me.” “Are you telling me no?” “No. I’m trying to think how to handle this.” She started to unbutton her dress. He stopped her. “No. We’ll get married first.” “When?” she asked “Saturday.” She squeaked and then smothered him with kisses. “Tell me your plans.” He shook his head. “We will get married by a preacher if we can. We can honeymoon then here.” “I love you so much, John Dailey.” He rolled over on his back. “Go back to your bed. We will tell your father in the morning.” Sprawled on top of him, she began kissing him again. Oh, hell, he had to stop her. Finally he sent her off and closed the door. He was excited thinking about having a wife as neat as her—excited by all their closeness. He could imagine her flesh against his. His whole body shuttered. At breakfast, he looked over at her and squeezed her hand under the table. “Hurley, Heidi and I have decided to get married—next Saturday.” “I am not surprised. I knew when you came and met her you’d steal her away from me.” “I’m not stealing her. She’ll still be your daughter.” “Well, you two have to make plans in a hurry.” “You aren’t mad?” he asked him. “No, I knew you were a man of good intentions. You’ll be happy with her.” She rushed over and hugged her father. Then she came and sat on Dailey’s lap. “I am so excited. You two are wonderful.” “No,” Dailey said. “You are our angel.” Then he hugged and kissed her. Things went fast around the household. She tried on her mother’s wedding dress and decided it would be all right for their ceremony. The preacher said he wished them the best
usty Richards grew up riding horses and watching his western heroes on the big screen. He even wrote book reports for his classmates, making up westerns since English teachers didn’t read that kind of book. But his mother didn’t want him to be a cowboy, so he went to college, then worked for Tyson Foods and auctioned cattle when he wasn’t an anchor on television. But his lifelong dream was to write the novels he loved. He sat on the stoop of Zane Grey’s cabin and promised that he’d get published. And in 1992, his first book, Noble’s Way, hit the shelves. Since then, he’s had 140 more come out. He is a sought-after speaker and master of ceremonies, and has served as President of Ozarks Writers League, Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc., and Western Writers of America. If he can steal some time, he also like to fish for trout on the Buffalo River. Find out more about Dusty and his many books at www.dustyrichards.com
when Dailey asked him to perform the ceremony. Everyone was invited. Hurley ordered a steer barbequed by the Hubbard family who did that for big events, and the women of the Methodist church began preparing food for an army. The entire community was involved. It would be the wedding of the century in Willow Grove. A special arbor was built beside the church to hold the event in the park beside the church with tables made from new cut lumber nailed on sawhorses for the guests to eat on. Nothing was spared. His bride to be slept with him in her neck to ankle night dress every night. But try as she might she couldn’t coax him to sample her body. He was going by the rules. He was infatuated with entire notion of having her as his wife. But he wanted them married before they sealed the deal. They had their entire lives to share their bodies. It rained on Friday. Heidi grew concerned it would wreck their plans. No way they could get everyone in that small church, but Saturday awoke them with the meadowlarks singing at daybreak. They kissed hard, him imagining how wonderful his afternoon would be holding her in her arms and then at last making love to his bride. Six men had carried the church pump organ outside for the wedding. The town marshal, Buck Long, was to be his best man. She had given him her mother’s wedding ring. Her best friend, Kay Arnold, was her bridesmaid. She came on her father’s arm to join him at the altar, sparkling in the sunlight. Then out of nowhere an armed man charged his sweaty horse into the side yard crowded with people who moved aside from his excited stomping horse. He shouted, “You shot my brother. You sumbitch.” He took aim at Dailey. Heidi raced to defend him. The man shot, and she went down. Dailey stood, helpless. No gun. The marshal had no gun. Someone tried to shoot the rider, but missed, and the gunman turned his horse on a dime and raced away through the parting crowd who were all too shocked to stop him. Dailey was on his knees, holding Heidi’s limp body in his arms. The thunder of his heart raging in his chest and pounded in his ears. Her blood soaked into his white shirt sleeve on the arm he had underneath her. “I. . . love. . . you.” She slumped into death’s arms He screamed though his teeth. ”Don’t let her die, God! Don’t!”
Hang on till December. This tale will be continued...
ow do you kick off a new western magazine about both cowboy and cowgirls? Welcome to Saddlebag Dispatches. Someone said the world is changing fast and baby you can believe that is happening in the book business. In my life time we went from Royal Type Writers with a bell to warn you when you approached the limit of the line to iPads and even Dick Tracy-like iPhones that you can type on and get killed driving and texting. Don’t do that, though—we need western fans. Our book purchases once were off racks in every store, drugstore and grocery in town. If I had a quarter I spun them around to find a new one I hadn’t read. And if I didn’t find one I liked, why, I’d go home and write one. They were in long hand and I got real good at writing book openings. I don’t think I ever finished one. But I have a large gray storage box of them to find new ideas for books if I ever run out. They would be new to me too by now. English teachers hated westerns. I am not certain why. They were exciting fast moving and to me entertaining. I could see sissy girls not liking them maybe that’s where English teachers came from. I’d pack one to school, put it on her desk and tell my teacher that she ought to read it and she’d looked at me as shocked as if I’d mooned her. Crying out loud, if she thought Silas Mariner was a good book to read, she had feathers for brains. We read the dumbest things in class. A few years ago I met an English teacher in
Rogers who had his kids read, “All the Pretty Horses.” A book written by an antisocial guy who didn’t have quotation marks in his computer, if he had one. But it was a tough western and by damn it was a western. And if we’d read it in my school, I’d said something like, “Halleluiah!” So I have not totally given up on the English Departments. This maybe the dawn of something great, recognizing the west--a history all our own. Knights that ride good horses and save fair maidens like the storybook history of England. Guys that didn’t intend to hand pick cotton all day and rode off on a horse to become drovers and hands on ranches instead. The men who brought law to hellholes like Abilene flush with Yankee dollars for cattle that were for the taking in Texas. Wild Bill was there. Long blond hair no weak-hearted man would dare wear, a buckskin coat, wore two six guns, smaller caliber (thirty some caliber) than most men carried. He had a liking for good whiskey, pretty soiled doves, and no use for lawbreakers. Abilene was a tough place and a no nonsense lawman was needed—they hired Hickok. Did you know Wild Bill had a real street shoot out before that over some pocket watch deal in the square in Springfield, Missouri? He did. TV dressed him up and tried to hire John Wayne for the role can you imagine him as Marshal Dillon. “Alright pilgrim put that gun away or I’ll shove it up where you can ‘t find it.” Wayne loaned them James Arness from his film company.
77 He made a formidable good character. Will Conrad had done the radio script, great voice but he was an ad for Weight Watchers. Man he had a voice. “That’s the way things went around Dodge in those days. The best bit of history I ever heard about Abilene, Winston, Wichita and Dodge came from participants. The cowboys later reported it, “At midnight it was broad daylight there, ‘cause the cowboys shot so many damn holes in the sky.” We will have lots of needs for both male and female writers. Woman can write some tough westerns and there is a fine class of western romance writers. This magazine is for you too ladies. We’re looking for short stories to lure the western readers in here. Also historical things and articles about some great place where you researched at like Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott Arizona or the Billings Montana Public library in that Montana town. Maybe you have been to Woolarc Museum over at Bartlesville Oklahoma or the Chisholm Trail Museum south of Ok City. Have you have been to the Pubic Library in Mason, Texas and checked out their westerns? They miss Elmer coming by signing books and talking to the library users. Lord we all miss that man. Share your visit with our readers send pictures too of the event, how to contact them and anything else. Next, I am looking for western and western romance serials. Take a novella make it into chapters. Say it is 70 pages to 120 pages, make chapters out of the story or how you want, end each chapter with a real Perils of Pauline ending, so they want to come back for our next issue. If you don’t have lions or tigers in your story have your POV internalize about what they fear. You should be doing this in every chapter of our books anyway, makes your book a page-turner. I’ll hang up here. Remember author pages are free this time. Get yours started Check out how to send your book information in. There is a form for books and also for an authors’ page. And one for hot articles in this issue. We are new and this is our first copy but we hope to expand in time when our circulation grows we won’t give free author’s pages, now is the time to get listed. If we accept a short story or article—we will give the author a full page ad of his new book in the months this copy covers. The form for that is at the email address explanation. Welcome to our E-book world of the western fiction, romance and history. Be sure to sign up for the tri-monthly edition of this magazine Till the next time may the Good Lord bless and keep you. I’ll be here at the ranch writing books and thinking about you.
Is it Dusty, or is it Bigfoot? Dusty enjoys a light moment during Fayetteville (AR) Springfest in April, where he sold books beside fellow authors—including Bigfoot.
Yes, Bigfoot sightings have even been made by such famous Western authors as Dusty Richards...
Dusty with Farmington (AR) Public Library Director Rachel Stump during a recent signing event. He donated copies of each book in the Chet Byrnes series to the library.
Where stories of the West come to be told.