Time to Vote For Best Hero!

Okay, ladies and gents too. This is what you’ve been waiting for. I’ve saved the best for last. Time to vote again!

Which hero in my books do you consider totally outstanding in every way and is the swooniest cowboy or outlaw of all?

I’ll understand if you think this is hard to pick just one. I certainly can’t. 

Here you go……………

 

MEN OF LEGEND SERIES

Sam Legend

Houston Legend

Luke Legend

Stoker Legend

* * * *

BACHELORS OF BATTLE CREEK SERIES

Cooper Thorne

Rand Sinclair

Brett Liberty

* * * *

TEXAS HEROES SERIES

Duel McClain

Luke McClain

* * * *

Or you can write in your own hero. Some books have more than one. There was Noah Jordan in To Marry a Texas Outlaw. Henry Boone in Heart of a Texas Outlaw. Horace Simon in The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Then there was Toby Fleming in Twice a Texas Bride to name a few.

So the list is pretty long.

Tell me….who makes your heart pound, your palms sweat, your knees weak? I’m giving away a $15 Amazon gift card. Cast your vote to get your name in the Stetson.

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Astounding Early Inventions

The time period of some of these inventions will blow your mind. They did me. I couldn’t believe the Egyptians had precursors for some of our modern day conveniences. But they certainly were ingenious.

In The Cowboy Who Came calling, Glory yearns for a toothbrush. She’s never had one but the rich girls in town do and the paste to go with it. Glory has always had to make do with rubbing her teeth with soda powder to clean them. So when Luke bought her such a seemingly small thing, she feels very special and I think that one kindness turned their relationship.

Toothbrushes

China had the first toothbrushes in 1498. They took the stiff bristles from the backs of hogs. Only problem is, they weren’t very sanitary and also wouldn’t stay on the bone handle. People began preferring softer bristles or to pick their teeth clean with stiff quills. Science had to catch up on things.

Indoor Lighting

The Cro-Magnon man had the first oil lamp some fifty thousand years ago when he discovered that a fibrous wick fed by animal fat kept burning. The wick laid in a saucer-like piece of bone or other scooped out material. Then around 1300 BC, the Egyptians lit their homes and temples with oil lamps that had a wick made from papyrus. Instead of animal fat that stunk to high heaven, they used vegetable oil. And so it went down the line to the Greeks and Romans.

Home Air-Cooling System

Again we look to the Egyptians. They were certainly way ahead of their time. Each day around sundown, Egyptian women placed water in shallow clay trays on a bed of straw. Rapid water evaporation combined with the cool night air often would create a thin layer of ice and keep the room cool. In India, they hung wet grass mats over the openings on the windward side of the home and that worked great.

Toilet Paper

Joseph Gayetty was the first businessman to make toilet paper in 1857. But it was only available in packages of individual sheets and sold poorly, soon disappearing from store shelves. Besides, the majority of Americans couldn’t comprehend wasting money when they had perfectly good pages from a Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Indoor Toilets

Philadelphia became the first American city with fully plumbed bathrooms and bathtubs in 1836. Soon other large cities began laying down public sewer systems. Homes and hotels were then quick to jump onboard and install indoor facilities. This was a major innovation and put the United States on a path to better health.

Wigs

Can you believe those ingenious Egyptians made an art of wigs? They used artificial hair, not to mask baldness, but to complement formal attire. They were arranged mostly in braids and plaits. Some decorative ones were enormous and weighed a ton. One queen wore one that made her so top-heavy that attendants had to help her walk. Wigs were held in place with beeswax. Blond wigs became the rage in Rome in the first century BC. Later prostitutes adopted the blond wig and it became a symbol of their profession. Greeks bleached or powdered theirs as did the English. But they’ve been around for a very long time.

Dishwashers

The wife of an Illinois politician invented a dishwasher in 1880. She was fed up with the humdrum chore and decided to make it easier. She measured her dinnerware and fashioned individual wire compartments. As a motor turned the wheel, hot soapy water squirted up from the bottom of a boiler and rained down on the dirty dishes. It was crude but it worked and it won the highest award at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Unfortunately, the American housewife was unimpressed and didn’t want to be seen as lazy so the business folded.

These are but a few of remarkable inventions that came our way and are commonplace today. Which ones caught you by surprise?

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I Have Winners!

Huge thanks to everyone who came to read my post. I enjoyed our conversations that like sitting down with you at a table over a cup of coffee.

Now for the drawing……..

Winners of The Cowboy Who Came Calling (either print or ebook) are……

AMBER

ALISA

LOIS IMEL

BRENDA LEE DICKSON

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll contact each of you but if somehow you don’t happen to hear from me, email linda (at) lindabroday (dot) com.

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Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

My mother always joked about probably having to go to the poor farm one day and I wondered what she truly meant. Recently there was an interesting article in our newspaper about them. And with the homeless population soaring these days, I thought it a timely subject.

Poor Farms originated in the 1820’s in the East to care for paupers. Slowly as settlers moved west so did the system for helping the poor and infirmed. Poor Farms were set up and operated by the different counties and they remained a county responsibility until their demise in the 1930’s shortly after the government passed the Social Security Act.

Eastern poor farms were much better than those on the western frontier, but neither held any semblance to living in the lap of luxury. Counties bought or rented farms and overseers or superintendents were hired to provide the care. Usually a poor farm consisted of the main building for the superintendent and his family and from six to eight small outbuildings that each sometimes housed up to 10 to 15 paupers or “inmates” as they were sometimes called. The men were kept segregated from the women and families were broken up. Indeed, some poor farms resembled jails for once they took a person in, most were there for life. In an effort to make the farm self-sufficient and productive, each able-bodied person was assigned a job and they were forced to do it come rain or shine. But again it really depended on how compassionate the overseer was. There were good ones and bad ones.

Contracting out care to the lowest bidder often resulted in attracting unsavory characters. One woman in particular, Annie Cook, extensively abused (and there were even alleged instances of murder) the destitute and downtrodden of Lincoln County, Nebraska.

Texas in the mid-1800’s reviled the poor so much that they sometimes housed them with criminals in a multi-purpose building that was a “Jail and Poorhouse.” They treated paupers as if poverty was a crime. And other times paupers were thrown in with the mentally ill which was a horrible way to treat people who had no where else to go.

Also, there was a practice of dumping their indigents in the next county so they wouldn’t have to care for them. Honestly!

Out in the West, the system for caring for the poor was less than desirable. For the most part, the poor were viewed as being lazy, criminal, or intemperate and the fault lay with those who had the misfortune to be without. Sound familiar? As if they could willingly change the hands of fate.

Thank goodness, not all were like Annie Cook and other similar caretakers.

The kind benevolent poor farms were a real godsend for people, especially the elderly and the sick, who had nowhere else to turn. They were taken in and provided relief with genuine sympathy and compassion.

In some instances, counties chose individuals to provide the care – a doctor or a boarding house for instance and paid them a certain amount. That was the perfect solution for out of the way places or where settlers were few and far between.

Wouldn’t this make a great story? The wheels in my brain are turning.

The Western trail was littered with people who were down on their luck but who never saw the inside of a poor farm. These people came West with a support system – fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles who helped each other through good times and lean.

But, not everyone was fortunate to have had that support. Those without family to reach out to were the ones who fell at the mercy of poor farms.

My parents were homeless during the Depression and traveled across the country looking for work doing anything. They often spoke about how much worse their situation would’ve been had it not been for family. They stuck together and what one had, they all had. That kind of family cohesiveness and unity saw them through one of the country’s worst times. They did what they had to do to survive, on many occasions swallowing their pride.

I can certainly relate, having been homeless twice in my own life. It’s very scary not having a place to lay your head or know where your next meal is coming from.

In my new release, the reissue of The Cowboy Who Came Calling, Glory Day and her family are very poor and the bank is about to take their farm. Glory worries about where they’ll go. I sure related to their plight–and to Glory’s blindness.

The Good Book says “the poor we have with us always.” That’s certainly true. Today we have millions of homeless people, sadly a lot on drugs and addicted to alcohol. Ever given money or food to someone down on their luck? Have you ever heard Poor Farms mentioned before?

I’m giving away two copies of The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Just leave a comment to enter the drawing.

 

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Vote for Your Favorite Heroine

Okay, this time we’re voting for the ladies in my books. We sure don’t want them to get left out because that would really upset our heroes and that wouldn’t do.

These ladies are strong, independent, and full of grit. One or two are pretty sassy. All are beautiful.

Who among the list is your favorite heroine? I’ll be very interested to see who you choose.

 

Bachelors of Battle Creek

Delta Dandridge – Texas Mail Order Bride

Callie Quinn – Twice a Texas Bride

Rayna Harper – Forever His Texas Bride

 

Men of Legend

Sierra Hunt – To Love a Texas Ranger

Lara Boone – The Heart of a Texas Cowboy

Josie Morgan – To Marry a Texas Outlaw

 

Texas Heroes

Jessie Foltry – Knight on the Texas Plains

Glory Day – The Cowboy Who Came Calling

Laurel James – Texas Redemption

There you have it. Boy, this is gonna be hard! I have no idea which one would get my vote. Each of these women have what it takes to carve out a life and stand by their man through every storm.

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Jeff Milton: Courage in Spades

The American Frontier was overrun with outlaws of all sorts and descriptions but thankfully there were lawmen like Jeff Milton to stem the tide.

“When I die, I hope they have something better to say about me than to tell how many men I killed.” Jeff made the comment while listening to his wife read the obituary of a close friend.

Jeff (Nov. 7, 1861 – May 7, 1947) was born Jefferson Davis Milton at the beginning of the Civil War. His father was governor of Florida and quite a powerful Confederate supporter. But as the war began to wind down and it was apparent the South would lose, his father committed suicide, leaving his wife to raise their son and several daughters.

That one act of cowardice followed Jeff all his life. Unable to come to grips with it, he set out for Texas in 1878 at 14 years old, lied about his age and joined the Texas Rangers. He spent the next four years chasing outlaws.

By 18, he was lean, hard, a good judge and caretaker of horses, and as good a shot as you can get with a Colt .45.

In 1884 at 23, he moved through West Texas into New Mexico and became a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He teamed up with Sheriff John Slaughter in Cochise County, Arizona. Together they rid the country of the Jack Taylor Gang.

Courtesy University of Oklahoma libraries

But nothing satisfied his restless spirit. He resigned his commission as a marshal and took a job in Fort Davis, TX as a clerk in a mercantile. It wasn’t long though before an old friend in the Texas Rangers came calling. Jeff was deputized and sent to keep the peace in a railroad town called Murphyville that eventually became Alpine.

The first thing he did was start arresting the rambunctious cowboys. Seeing as there was no jail, he put them in a boxcar. It didn’t take long to have the cowboys singing a different tune. But he found peaceful surroundings boring.

He bought a saloon and kept it for a whole two hours before selling it. He couldn’t put up with the drunks. He cowboyed for a while, managed a ranch, and homesteaded his own place. Still, adventure called.

In 1895, he partnered with lawman George Scarborough and sent each member of a rustling gang either to a grave or jail.

His favorite job of all was one he took watching the entire border of Arizona and Mexico for outlaws and contraband goods. There he had an encounter with Black Jack Ketchum and wounded him before he escaped. Also in this job, Jeff developed a deep spiritual kinship with the desert and found some measure of peace.

The desert town of El Paso called to him and he became Chief of Police in 1894. In the performance of his duties, he went up against one of the most notorious gunmen—John Selman. The man had over twenty notches on his gun. That didn’t impress or scare Jeff Milton. He arrested and put him in jail. Then he set about cleaning up the town. He made a list of all the shady, downright crooked gamblers and gave them notice to leave town or die. All left.

But fate dealt a bad hand in Feb. 1900 while Jeff was working as an express agent on a train. A group of bandits led by Burt Alvord held up the train and a gunfight ensued. Jeff killed several before a bullet ripped into his left arm and hit an artery. Using his sleeve, he made a tourniquet to stop the squirting blood. The train engineer managed to get him to a doctor who tied the shattered bone together with piano wire. When the wound wouldn’t heal, it seemed the only recourse was amputation, which Jeff absolutely refused. He quickly went to a doctor friend of his who cleaned and treated the wound but the doctor told him that he’d be unable to ever use his arm (left two inches shorter) again.

In 1904, Jeff Milton settled down to a steady job—that of what we call a border patrol agent along the Arizona border. He was tasked with stopping the flow of illegal Chinese immigrants. And he did.

copyright K&B Books

On June 30, 1919, he married a woman named Mildred Tait.  He was 58 years old.

At age 71, he retired. He’d spent over 50 years as a lawman. The government gave him a small pension and he lived out his life peacefully in the desert he so loved.

He died on May 7, 1947 at 85 ½ years old. Mildred had him cremated and she spread his ashes in the desert.

Jefferson Davis Milton lived a life of adventure few would ever match. Still….I’m wondering if he outlived the dishonor and the ghost of his father. I’d like to think so.

Do you think a horrible legacy such as he had would stain someone like him for the rest of his life?

My father tried all his life but I don’t think he ever got the approval he wanted and needed from his father. He seemed to be haunted by the fact that he was never good enough. And I’m fairly certain my grandpa never told my dad he was proud of him.

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Daniel Webster (80 John) Wallace

From slavery, to cowboy, to cattle rancher and millionaire. This is the story of Daniel Webster Wallace fondly known as “80 John” from the age of twenty-five on.

Stories of exceptional people really draw my attention and such was the case of this humble man born of slaves, William and Mary Wallace. Three months before his birth, his mother Mary was sold to the O’Daniel family in south Texas. This was 1860. There, he grew up with O’Daniel’s two boys and they remained friends all his life.

In 1877, when he was seventeen, he got tired of chopping cotton under the hot Texas sun and ran off to join a cattle drive. He excelled in working with cattle and a dream was born — to one day own his own ranch.

But he had no education and that was holding him back. So at twenty-five years old, he went to school and in two years learned to read and write. That opened up a whole new world and gave him a better playing field.

Now armed with what he needed, he left school and joined Clay Mann’s outfit in Mitchel County, Texas and there he got his start. Clay Mann listened to him talk of big dreams but little way of reaching them. He came up with a plan. He paid “80 John” $5 a month out of his $30 wage for two years and paid the rest in cattle which he branded with a large 80. Clay Mann provided free pasture.

D.W. Wallace fell in love with a very educated woman by his standards—Laura Dee Owens. They married in 1888 and eventually had three daughters and a son.

When Clay Mann died in 1889, Daniel Webster Wallace moved his cattle to a 1,280 acre spread he’d bought and became one of most respected black ranchers.

Shortly after buying his own ranch, Wallace became a member of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He remained a member for over 30 years.

When D.W. Wallace died in 1939, he was worth over one million dollars.

I don’t know about you, but I love stories of success. They simply warm my heart. To go from a slave owning nothing but his name to a million dollar rancher boggles my mind. He had a dream and he didn’t let anything deter him from reaching it. He treated everyone right and, in return, they respected and admired him. But most of all they called him a friend.

Did or do you have a dream that burned so hot that you’d do anything to reach?

For me, it was getting published. The road was not ever easy and I think I wrote a million words before I got that first contract. Even then, it was hard. The publishing company folded and I was out of a job for a number of years. Now, if that happens again, I can fall back on self-publishing. That wasn’t an option back then.

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Have Mail Will Travel

This week I want to talk about a something a bit different, yet historical. I hope you like it.

We’re all familiar with postage stamps and gripe each time the price goes up. There’s also a lot of talk lately about the desperate situation the U.S. Postal Service has been in and fears that they may go bankrupt.

But what happened when you mailed a letter in the 1700 or 1800s? It had to travel hundreds or even thousand miles depending on the location. How did the mail ever find its way? Most went by stagecoach and then later by train.

On the American frontier, post offices were in the mercantiles, saloons, and often the sheriff’s office—just wherever they could find to put one. They had no delivery to houses. You had to go collect your mail. It was extremely difficult, especially if you lived a long way out of town on a ranch or farm. I love the envelope below that was posted during the Civil War. Could you tell by the address where it goes? I sure can’t.

The U.S. Post Office came into being in 1775 when Ben Franklin was appointed postmaster general. In those days it was the recipient, not the sender, who paid the cost to mail a letter and it continued this way until 1845. This was a less than ideal situation since the recipient often couldn’t be located or else they refused to accept the letter and it had to be returned.

That lost the post office a lot of money and folks on both ends got irate.

The first adhesive postage stamp ever produced in the U.S. was introduced in 1842 when a private enterprise carrier service called “City Despatch Post” began to operate in New York City. However, a few months after it came into being it was sold to the United States government.

On March 3, 1845, an Act of Congress established uniform postal rates throughout the nation with a uniform rate of five cents for distances under 300 miles. But still each city issued their own stamps.

The first national stamps came into existence in 1847 when Congress passed another act and declared all the city issued stamps invalid. An engraver was hired and production took off. (Above are the first national stamps issued.)

A 5-cent stamp paid for a letter weighing less than 1 ounce and traveling less than 300 miles.

A 10-cent stamp was required for 2 ounces or less or to places over 300 miles.

By 1851 the Postal Service had increased its revenue so much that Congress dropped the 1 ounce, 300 mile rate to 3 cents and it stayed that way for over 30 years. Just amazing.

When the Civil War broke out it threw the entire postal service in horrible disarray. The Confederate States wouldn’t accept the Northern stamps and vice-versa. That created a whole new set of problems. The public didn’t know where to turn. And they had no idea when they mailed a letter if it would reach its destination or not.

In 1860, the U.S. Post Office used the Pony Express to get mail to and from the West Coast. The Pony Express Trail was an exhausting 1,840 miles long. Their record was excellent and they did what they promised, but they couldn’t keep riders. It was too grueling and dangerous. They had to fight Indians, the weather, the rugged landscape so they dropped out. This was a short-lived venture, lasting only 18 months. (Credit goes to True West Magazine for the image below.)

In 1873 the Post Office began producing a pre-stamped post card.

Ten years later, the first-class letter rate changed from 3 cents to 2 cents. That prompted the issuance of new stamps. The 2 cent ones were brown.

It’s hard to believe that we pay 49 cents today to mail a first class letter, no matter the distance it has to travel. And the Postal Service is going broke. It seems computers and technology is putting them out of business. And that’s sad. I wonder what Ben Franklin would think about that.

Yet, I don’t think we’ll ever stop using the mail service. Last year I spent an exorbitant amount of money on postage just mailing out giveaways and I probably will again this year. Plus, I mail regularly to Canada and Australia.

How often do you use the postal service? What do you think about the prices? Or what are you thoughts in general? Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without the post office.

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Who in My Books is the Baddest of the Bad?

We’re in a brand new year that’s all shiny and bright and full of promise. So for the first post of 2018, I’m doing a little different.

I’m having a poll.

I’ve written some pretty bad villains in my career. Some were misguided, some driven by anger and revenge, and some were downright psychopaths with one who listened to voices inside his head. So, we’re going to vote. I want you to tell me which villain was truly, hands down, eaten up by evil.

Some of these I had look up because I’d forgotten them. And I think with each book the bad guy got worse and worse but that’s how he was in my head.

The List of Contenders………..

Of the The Bachelor of Battle Creek series—

TOLBERT EARLY – Texas Mail Order Bride

NATE FLEMING – Twice a Texas Bride

EDGAR DOWLEN – Forever His Texas Bride

Of the Men of Legend series –

FELIX BARDO and ISAAC FORD – To Love a Texas Ranger

YUMA BLACKSTONE – The Heart of a Texas Cowboy

BRENNER MCCALL – To Marry a Texas Outlaw

 

Texas Heroes –

WILL GENTRY – Knight on the Texas Plains

JEREMIAH FOLTRY – Knight on the Texas Plains

 

So, there you have it. Let’s see who you think the worst is. Who earns your vote? Who made you shiver and want to hide? I’m really undecided and waffling between two, which I won’t say right now. I don’t want to influence you. Maybe I’ll tell you later.

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