I’m so excited to launch a brand new series called Outlaw Mail Order Brides on January 29, 2019! The first book is The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride and it’s about Clay Colby and Tally Shannon from the Men of Legend series.

A town founded by outlaws…Women needing protection…Lives that need saving.

Isn’t this cover simply gorgeous? I just love it, and after you read it, you’ll see how significant the campfire is and them dancing.

This series bleeds over from the Men of Legend and you’ll see recurring characters. I just couldn’t say goodbye to those hunky Legend men. And maybe you were having a hard time too.

Luke Legend and his wife, Josie, have started a private mail order bride service for men and women living in the shadows but yearning to step out and have families. They’re tired of living on the run, listening for the sound of the bullet meant for them.

In most cases, they only took justice where they could find it. With no law to be had, men back then had to seek it for themselves. This is the case Clay finds himself in.

If you remember, you meet Tally Shannon in Book #1 Men of Legend – To Love a Texas Ranger. She was living with and protecting a group of escapees from the Creedmore Lunatic Asylum. I’ve received many letters asking if those women will ever be able to live outside Deliverance Canyon. My answer is yes. It happens in this book.

Clay Colby was a gunslinger and outlaw in Book #2 Men of Legend – The Heart of a Texas Cowboy. He was working for Houston Legend as head drover on their cattle drive. Clay yearns for a wife, a family. He’s tired and wants to go straight—if everyone will let him.

Here are some short excerpts but there’s more at this link:

Clay stared helplessly at the destruction, his face hardening, as though his features were carved from stone. Tally thought maybe they were.“Montana Black took exception to my town and decided to burn it to the ground. We had a bit of a skirmish that ended with me shooting the outlaw. Badly wounded, he escaped on a spotted gray, vowing to burn down the town every time we rebuild. I just don’t know if I can make this happen.” 

She waited, listening and learning the man she’d soon marry. Her heart ached for him and she understood exactly how he felt. He couldn’t even look at her because he felt such a failure. If only she could slip her arm around him and offer a bit of comfort. But not yet.

She let her gaze take in Devil’s Crossing, the crude dwellings, the tent saloon. The creak of a windmill drew her gaze. She closed her eyes for a second, soaking up the scrape and grind of the rod going up and down as it pumped water from the earth. When she was young, she’d often fallen asleep, lulled by the sound of the windmill. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed that until now.

* *  *

Tally had been the protector of those escapees from Creedmore—she was everyone’s protector. Now she longed to be the protected one, to not have to lie awake listening.

Just for once, she wanted to know what being protected felt like.

Clay Colby appeared more than capable. But what sort of husband would he be? Domineering? An equal? She tried to see a bit of softness in him but failed. Tall and lean, he loomed over most, wearing a hardness like a shield that others carry into battle.

His strength appealed to her though. She didn’t like weak men. Muscles in his arms rippled and his torn shirt stretched tight across his broad chest and back. Naughty tingles danced up her spine. Soon she’d lie beside this man, this outlaw. Already, he seemed too rugged, too…hot. Yes, he seemed hotblooded. Powerful.

The urge to take a step back came over her but she tilted her chin and met his stare.

* * *

Tally followed Clay into his dugout. She liked the strong set of his jaw and broad shoulders that wouldn’t give under a heavy load.

The two-inch scar down his face and the Remington revolver swinging from his lean hip said he’d been through sheer hell and rode out the other side probably too many times to count. His dark hair that sported a few silver stands at the temples curled possessively over his collarless shirt like a gunslinger’s hand around his gun.

She shifted her glance to the earthen abode, not caring that it was dug into a hillside. She loved the scent of the raw land and the safety of the canyon. A stack of leather laid in a corner, pink and yellow flowers on the table added an unexpected homey feel.

This outlaw surprised her in a lot of ways.

* * *

Tally’s scared spitless about this undertaking, especially after escaping a mental institution. It really must’ve been terrifying to agree to marry a man sight unseen–especially when that person held your future in his hands. A lot of mail order brides were horribly abused but they stayed because there was nowhere else to go.

This book is available for preorder at these and other places: AMAZON | B&N | iBOOKS

Question: Would you have had the guts to marry someone without even seeing them first? To have faith that this person wouldn’t hurt you? And to have nothing, absolutely zero, to fall back on. It could be a trap that you couldn’t escape from.

Lawman “Bear River” Tom Smith

Sometimes a man casts such a huge shadow that it changes a town and the people who live there. Tom Smith was such a man.

His name is common but his deeds certainly were not. Tom was born June 12, 1840 in New York City. When he grew up, he took a job on the police force there until leaving in 1868 to work for the Union Pacific Railroad. His work took him west to Bear River, Wyoming. It was a rough temporary railroad town, a tent city for the most part for the railroad workers. As the railroad progressed, these towns picked up and moved along with it. But in Bear River, a few permanent buildings went up for those who decided to stay.

It was there where vigilantes hung a murderer who worked for the railroad. An angry mob of railroad workers confronted the group and an all-out war developed with citizens trapped in a log warehouse. In a blind rage, Tom Smith (appointed the city marshal) charged into the middle of the rail workers, emptying his twin pistols into them. He was shot multiple times but he kept on firing until 14 men lay dead. All shot up, Tom walked to the home of a friend where he collapsed near death.

(A picture of him compliments of Legends of America)

After a long recovery during which his reputation spread, Tom was contacted by the mayor of Abilene, Kansas which was one of the most lawless towns in the west. They’d already appointed man after man only to have them up and quit right away (one quit the same day he was hired.)  Tom decided to give it a try against a large number of heavily armed men fond of drinking.

The leader of the rowdy thugs was Big Hank. Tom ordered each of them to turn over their pistols. He was making Abilene gun-free. Big Hank replied that no one was big enough to make them.

Tom stepped up real close and knocked Hank backward with a large fist then took his pistols. Hank was dazed and those watching stood in amazement. Tom ordered the gang to rowdies to leave town and never return. They lost no time in doing so.

Some time passed and another man named Wyoming Frank, a cowboy on one of the ranches rode into town. Frank called Tom out into the street. But instead of facing off, Tom kept walking until he was nose to nose with Frank. He told him to hand over his weapon. Frank backed up, needing some room to draw but Tom moved with him. Again Frank backed up with the same results. Tom asked for his gun twice as was his custom. Finally, his big fist came out and two punches landed Wyoming Frank on the floor of the saloon where Tom had backed him.

He took Frank’s gun and gave him five minutes to leave town. Frank didn’t need all of the five. He got up and didn’t let his shirttail hit his back.

So Abilene adapted to the gun ordinance with little trouble, not even from the Texas drovers who came into town. Everyone got their guns back when they left town and Abilene became a safe place. The town elders raised Tom’s salary to a whopping $225 a month and the citizens took up a collection and bought him a pair of pearl handled revolvers.

Tom patrolled the town on horseback and occasionally those big fists came out. Trail hands learned that the signs meant what they said and that it paid not to mess with Tom Smith.

In the fall of that year, Tom resigned and took the job of a U.S. Deputy Marshal. He still lived in Abilene and everyone seemed glad because the new sheriff seemed to lack courage.

One day, a rancher’s cows got loose in a neighbor’s cornfield and shots were exchanged, killing the rancher. The new sheriff asked Tom Smith to go along to arrest the man. Shots were fired when they arrived and the sheriff ran off, leaving Tom to handle the situation. Tom was shot entering the dugout but he dragged the man out. Unfortunately, the man’s friend was waiting outside and killed Tom.

He was buried in Abilene’s town cemetery where he lies today. The two killers were apprehended, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to long prison sentences. The town returned to its lawless ways for a few years until Wild Bill Hickok arrived and became sheriff.

No man served with more distinction and Tom was long remembered as the man too tough to die.

Tell me what you think about Tom Smith. Is he hero material? 

Horseless Carriage Anyone?

We take the ease of driving for granted but it certainly wasn’t always that way. The automobile is so ingrained in our lives that we can’t remember a time when we rode horses to get places. The chaos of that time is fun to look back on when technology was ahead of the consumer.

In the 1900 there were 8,000 vehicles in the entire U.S and only 144 miles of paved roads.

Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company in 1903 and set up shop in a converted wagon factory. That was the same year the Model A came out, but it was quickly abandoned until the 1920’s when it was reintroduced. I always get confused as to whether the Model A or the Model T was first, but the Model T didn’t arrive on the market until 1908. The Model T was affectionately called the Tin Lizzie and the Flivver. Henry Ford produced over 10,000 of these cars the first year. It was extremely popular and reliable. And while the Ford wasn’t the first vehicle to be built it was certainly the most widely driven car.


Various factors caused the car industry to begin slowly. Roads were little more than horse paths and difficult to navigate. There were no gas stations, no mechanics, and no road signs. If a car broke down, the owner would have to wait for a horse to come and pull him back into town and usually crude repairs were done by blacksmiths or bicycle shops. One site I found stated that a driver averaged at least one flat tire each outing. That must’ve been frustrating.

The first drive-in gas station in the U.S. was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1913. Before that, people had to keep their own gas at home.

In the beginning, the average speed limit was 12 mph in open country and 8 mph in town. That gradually changed and by 1930 the speed limit had increased to a whopping 30 mph.

One newspaper wrote: “They tore along the street at a lively rate, dodging people and teams.”

Too funny! What would they think about cars today that can go over 150 mph?

A Model T Ford

With the advent of vehicle travel, people saw the need for laws, speed limits, and common rules of the road. The Department of Motor Vehicles was founded in 1917 to help address some of these problems. Here are some of the new rules:

  • Good brakes, a horn, and lamp were required on all cars.
  • Drivers were required to stop to allow teams of horses to pass.
  • Also drivers were required to assist in leading horses past their motor vehicle.
  • At intersections drivers had to come to a stop and blow their horn before slowly proceeding.
  • Drivers must keep to the right at all times.
  • A minimum driver’s age. Before this, anyone could drive–even an 8 year old.


Here are some facts:

  • Three-fourths of all fatalities were pedestrians, especially children playing in the street.
  • In 1917, Detroit had 65,000 cars on the road that resulted in 7,171 accidents, 168 fatal.
  • By 1916, two hundred and fifty police officers were devoted to managing traffic.


Yet despite all the rules and regulations that came about, folks were thrilled with their vehicles. Driving produced a whole new line of clothing and accessories. Drivers and passengers alike bought special hats, gloves, dusters, goggles, and boots. Many horseless carriages didn’t have tops so that allowed dirt, bugs, and grime to collect on the travelers thus the need for protection.

And everyone in town knew who owned the various cars so the vehicles were soon tokens of their identity. And for sure, owning an automobile could elevate a person’s social status.

Much like today. Those who drive Mercedes, big Lincolns, Jaguars, etc. are the wealthy.

1909-Buick Model F

Regardless of the perks though, there were certain drawbacks. Often the cranks flew backward when someone was trying to start their car and broke their arms. And then rumble seats were a hazard. When the vehicle hit a bump or pothole in the road, the passenger would fly out and land in the dirt and wouldn’t be missed until the driver reached home. Hilarious! I can just picture that now.

“The ordinary “horseless carriage” is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.”  Literary Digest, 1899.

Little did they know! Cars surpassed the bicycle within a few years. The public developed a real love affair with motor vehicles.

During the Depression, many people lived in their automobiles.

Have you read any romances or watched any movies that featured horseless carriages or tin lizzies? Only one pops into mind and that is a book called RUNABOUT by Pamela Morsi that came out in 1994. I’m sure there are others.

Pearl Hart: Lady Bandit

The ranks of women outlaws were pretty thin back in the old West. Women toiled from sunup to sundown amid danger, hardship, and loneliness. A lot of them went back east to their former lives, some turned to prostitution, but few of them became outlaws.

Pearl was born with the last name of Taylor around 1877 in Ontario, Canada. The petite, attractive woman was of French descent and well educated. She came to the U.S. around fifteen years old. She admired strong women.

At the age of 16 she was sent to a boarding school but was very rebellious and often escaped for a night on the town. She met Brett Hart a year later and they eloped. Brett was described as a rake, a drunkard, and a gambler. He was abusive and they had a tumultuous marriage in which she left several times.

She and Brett had two children—a boy and a girl. She sent them to her mother to raise.

While watching Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, she fell in love with the cowboy lifestyle. She began to drift from town to town and ended up in Phoenix, Arizona where she worked as a cook, a singer, and anything else she could find to do.

By 1898, she was in Mammoth, Arizona working as a cook in a boardinghouse. There she met a German drifter named Joe Boot. He owned a mining claim and she helped him work it for a time. After finding no gold, the pair decided to rob a stagecoach that ran between Globe and Florence. Pearl cut her hair short, wore men’s clothing, and toted a pistol. They netted $431.20.

She felt bad about taking the passengers’ money and returned $1.00 to each of them.

But they got lost after the getaway and a short time later, were captured and taken to Tucson. The jail had no accommodations for a woman so they put her in a regular room that wasn’t very secure. The media went into a frenzy and treated her like a celebrity. She entertained and gave interviews to anyone who wanted to see the Bandit Queen.

A short while later, she escaped leaving an eighteen-inch hole in the wall but was recaptured two weeks later in New Mexico.

During her trial in 1899, she entered an eloquent plea that her mother was sick and she needed that money to take care of her. The jury acquitted her and Boots which angered the judge. He got a new jury and retried them with a charge of interference with the U.S. Mail. This time both were found guilty.

Joe Boot drew a 30 year prison sentence and Pearl got 5 years. Both were sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison. But even there she was given a larger cell than the others and allowed her to receive a continuous line of visitors.

Joe escaped two years after his conviction and was never seen again.

In December 1902, she received a pardon and took a train to Kansas City. After that, she slowly dropped from view. Some had her owning a cigar store and others had her appearing in a play her sister wrote about her adventure. And no one knows when she died or where. What ever happened to her is a mystery to this day.

She blazed across history as the last female outlaw and she’s quoted as saying, “I shall not be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making.”

I don’t know how I feel about her. She deliberately broke the law and tried to escape punishment. I don’t think she was hardened though. She had compassion for others. But she seemed attracted to the bad boy type of men. What are your thoughts? Do you think she was misguided by men maybe?

Charlene Raddon Has Winners!

Wow! Thank you for visiting, Charlene! We had a fun time and loved hearing about this exciting new series.

Now for the drawing…….Drumroll………….

Winner of the Amazon Gift Card….JERRI LYNN HILL

Winners of the ebook of Priscilla……..



I’m so happy for you ladies! Congratulations! Charlene will contact you so be watching.


Welcome Charlene Raddon

I’m so very happy to host Charlene Raddon and celebrate the release of a new series called The Widows of Wildcat Ridge. There will be 17 stories in all with them releasing on the 1st and 15th until they’re all published. I was hooked by the overall premise of the series and found an entire town of only women so interesting. I think you will be too. Miss Charlene has some giveaways so scroll down. Then leave a comment to get in the drawing.

* * * *

Hi everyone!

The idea for The Widows of Wildcat Ridge came to me a long time ago, a town full of women with no men. What a dilemma. But it wasn’t until I read about a mine disaster that happened here in Utah in 1901 that the whole story idea jelled in my head.

In that disaster, 200 men died. The mine was not reopened and although the town exists still today with about 60 residents, it’s a ghost of what it used to be.

That was a coal mine, the most dangerous mining there is. In The Widows of Wildcat Ridge, it’s a gold mine that is destroyed by explosions and fire. One of the explosions came late, after townspeople streamed up to the mine to try to save their loved ones. Virtually everyone present died.

But losing husbands, brothers, sons and fiancés wasn’t the end of the ordeal for the women and children left behind. The mine owner has a new mine not far away, and he wants to build a new town–with the buildings from Wildcat Ridge. He gives the women an ultimatum; move out or marry men who will take over the businesses and pay the mortgage and rent payments he hasn’t received since the disaster.

Somehow the women must either find a way to earn money or find good men to marry. But where and how?

Here’s a little about the first few books.

Book 1, Priscilla by Charlene Raddon, is about the preacher’s daughter who lost both her father and her husband at the mine. Two days after the town meeting, she comes home to find a half-naked man unconscious on her bed with a bullet in his back.

Book 2, Blessing by Caroline Clemmons, otherwise known as Buster, grew up a tomboy despite her petite feminity. A hardworking ranch girl, she isn’t seeking marriage. But sometimes we get things we don’t think we want.

Book 3, Nissa by Zina Abbott, widows of the mine supervisor, and her two children, are evicted from the supervisor’s house. Destitute, she must find lodging for her children and a way to feed them.

Book 4, Gwyneth by Christine Sterling, a man comes to town to buy horses and is involved in an accident at the blacksmith shop and loses his memory, including his ability to talk. Gwyneth has to help him heal and in doing so heals her own deep wounds.

Book 5, Dulcina by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Book 6, Josephine by Kit Morgan

Book 7, Thalia by Charlene Raddon, loses her father and the fiancée she was to marry in mere weeks. Thalia wants the marriage life cheated her out of. But who can she marry? The only young, nice looking man in town is Dinky Moon, the town drunk. All she has to do is sober him up and keep him that way.

* * * *

Today, I will be giving away a $10 gift card and one copy of Priscilla to two separate winners. Good luck and come spend time with us in Wildcat Ridge. Become acquainted with the widows and the series villain, Mortimer Crane. Find out whether these tough, determined widows save their town and find new love.

Charlene learned about the shock value of fiction when she told her third grade class that her little sister died of a black widow spider bite. Only she didn’t have a little sister. What she did have was an excellent imagination. In 1980 after having a vivid dream and knowing it had to appear in a book, she began writing in earnest and came into her own. She’s now a fixture in romance publishing.


Ever Wonder How Pockets Originated?

I love the word pocket.  Pockets can hold everyday items, things of necessity…maybe even the hopes and dreams of your heart. These cloth pouches offered a private place to keep personal items and could be any size or shape.

Prior to the 1790s, women’s pockets weren’t attached to their clothing, instead tied around her waist under her skirt or petticoat. A slit at the side allowed room for her to slip her wrist inside and into the detachable pocket that she sewed by hand, even embroidered with a pretty stitch.

For men, a pocket was attached to the waistband of his trousers and sewn into the lining of his coat. So, they’ve pretty much always had the same thing. Theirs were easily accessible and THEY didn’t have to fumble around, trying to get into something hidden. Like it was a sin to wear.

Good Heavens!

There were watch pockets, flap pockets and even breast pockets. Yes, the men had it all. Easy and accessible.

But maybe women wanted  theirs hidden. At least she didn’t have to explain to anyone what she carried or why. That kinda makes sense. And they didn’t carry purses back then.

And what did she find important enough? After all, they had very little that was rightfully their own. Let’s see.

In Samuel Richardson’s novel in 1742, he described his heroine’s pocket when she escaped her master as holding one shift (a loose, shapeless garment,) 2 handkerchiefs, 2 caps and 5 shillings. Now, that was a big pocket!

The Victoria and Albert Museum have these listed among what women carried:

Keys, spectacles, a mirror, a watch, a diary (smart thinking, no one could read it,) pencil case, a snuff box, knife and scissors, a thimble, a pincushion.

Okay excuse me, now why on earth would a woman carry around a pincushion? Or a thimble? was she going to whip those out and start sewing? Or maybe she wanted to keep pins handy so she could jab someone who annoyed her. Lord knows there were probably plenty people who did. After all, every time she turned around someone was telling her what to do, say, or where to go.

I found it very interesting that some women carried oranges, an apple or some biscuits. This is so funny! To carry biscuits in your pocket in case the wearer got a hunger pain? But then food was a bit scarce.

This is from Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield: Releasing one of her arms, she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, and brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed into my pockets, and a purse which she put in my hand, but not one word did she say.’

When she went to sleep, she would hide her pocket or pockets under her pillow. Now, there’s a story!

In most of my stories, the woman usually carried a lace handkerchief and a weapon of some kind–either a gun or knife. After all, the west was a dangerous place. Pockets were pretty handy.

If you’d lived back then and made yourself a pretty tie-on pocket, what things would you have put inside?

Mail Order Catalogs

Mail order was a vital business for people living on the American frontier so far from large towns where they could buy whatever they needed. I once read where someone ordered a whole house back then from Montgomery Ward and had it shipped. It arrived as a kit that you had to put together and I think it was like $400. Amazing. It sounds like an idea for a book. Not only was the extensive list of merchandise interesting but I loved the fine print in the front section of the catalog. They were really quite trusting.

Montgomery Ward assured the purchaser that they employ no agents or traveling collectors and lay out their rules for ordering merchandise.

RULE #1:

“We will ship goods by freight to ANYONE if money accompanies the order. We will ship goods in our name and collect the bill through your banker if sufficient money is sent with the order to cover the freight charges. Be sure to give us the name and location of your bank.”

RULE #2:

“Goods will be sent by express, C.O.D. (collect on delivery) when, in our opinion, the articles ordered are suitable. Value, bulk, weight, class, distance, etc., will determine our acceptance or refusal of all such orders. We will not send C.O.D. for amounts under $5.00.” (It goes on to say that the purchaser has to pay all possible shipping charges up front and that no goods will be sent to points off a railway unless paid for in advance. It seems the prepayment of the shipping was a big deal.

RULE #3:

Mail Shipments (sending prepaid goods through the U.S. mail): “Postage by mail is 1 cent per ounce or 16 cents per pound. No one package must exceed 4 pounds, but any number of packages may be sent to the same address weighing 4 lbs. or less each. Packages can be sent by registered mail for 8 cents per package extra. We positively require cash in advance for both goods and postage. We will return the amount overpaid, if any. Explosives, poisonous or inflammable articles are unmailable. Sharp pointed instruments and glass such as needles, knives, pens, lantern slides etc. can go in mailing cases at an extra cost of 5 cents.”

And then there’s a section on insuring the merchandise ordered by mail. The cost was 5 cents for each package of $5.00 or under in value. Value of goods from $5 to $10 was 10 cents. Over that was an extra 5 cents additional. They tell the customer to be sure to write “Insure” on their order and enclose the appropriate fee.

RULE #4:

Discounts for cash. They gave 2% discount on orders $20 to $50. 3% on 50 to $100 and on up to 5% for orders over $150. But this only applied to cash sales.

They even addressed how to send money for those paying in cash—Bank Draft, Postal Money Order, or Express Money Order.

And of course there’s a section for returning goods. Their motto was money back guarantee and they stood behind their promise to the customer.

Of Interest: There are 36 pages of novels and other books of all kinds listed in this catalog I have that came out in 1895.

This book is an invaluable resource of historical writers or just anyone who loves history. I love looking through it and seeing the prices of things. Gold wedding bands were $3.60 to $.85. Leather saddles were around $10. Cookstoves $24.00. Pistols and rifles around $15.00. All kinds of furniture for very little.

As I girl, I used to anticipate the Montgomery Ward catalog twice every year. I think it came out in spring and at Christmas. I spent hours and hours daydreaming, looking through it, wishing to be able to buy things, and marking the things I wanted. When we got a little money, we’d go to the catalog store and place an order.

They didn’t have regular stores until I was around seventeen or eighteen. Browsing in those was a real treat. The stores were so exciting and all decked out at Christmas in bright sparkling colors.

I can only imagine what it was like for settlers and their children. Those mercantiles must’ve been so interesting for people who had little money and big dreams.

What are your memories of the Montgomery Ward catalog?

Life of the Early Texas Ranger

Much has been written and said about the Texas Rangers but few really know the hardships and sacrifice as they gave their all for Texas and the laws of the state.

In the front of my book The Texas Rangers by Walter Prescott Webb, is a preface written by the author and in it he says: “It has been the duty of a Texas Ranger to meet the outlaw breed of three races, the Indian warrior, the Mexican bandit, and American desperado, on the enemy’s ground and deliver each safely within the jail door or the cemetery gate.”

He was a man who rode straight up to death and stared it in the eye, never backing down. I deeply admire men of such courage and dedication and I try to instill this in each of my heroes.

To join the Rangers, a man had to own a horse worth at least $100. That doesn’t seem like much but in today’s currency, it would be around $3,000. It had to be a very good horse and one that would be able to cover great distances in pursuit, to stop on a dime, to charge, to gallop.

Each man had to furnish his own rifle, pistol, and knife. He lived outdoors without a tent, using his saddle for a pillow, a blanket thrown over him, his feet to the fire (if he allowed himself one) to keep warm. Wild game was mostly his food source.

He would sleep on a layer of grass or small brush in order to avoid the cold ground which often would be snow covered or wet. He slept fully clothed down to his boots and kept his firearm within easy reach. The least noise would wake him and he would spring up ready to fight in an instant. It was a rule among Rangers to camp on the south side of a thicket. In summer had the advantage of a cool breeze and in winter it protected against the blue northers.

Rangers swam by the side of their horses, guiding them and the temperature of the water made no difference. They crossed during the northers, the rain, the snow and sleet.

They were spurred forward by one rule—make a rapid, silent march then strike the foe while he least expected and punish him. They fearlessly plunged into the thickest of the fight.

In these early days of Texas there were few roads but even so the Ranger didn’t use them. He rode across the vast prairie, plotting his course by the stars, the sun, and the streams that all ran southeast. At night he rode by the north star.

One of the first Rangers was John Coffee Hays in 1840 and he came by his ability to lead quite honest. President Andrew Jackson was a great uncle. Hays commanded the First Regiment of Texas Rangers and died at the age of 66.

Another very distinguished Ranger was John RIP Ford. He joined Hays and was promptly appointed a lieutenant. He was known for always including RIP after the name of each casualty. He lived a long life.

There have been many who rode the prairies and trails of Texas and they each performed to the best of his ability, often giving his all for justice and freedom—for $1.25 a day.

Whenever the coffers were full that is. Many times the coffers were empty and men risked their lives for no money.

I love to write Texas Ranger heroes. No better, braver men lived than these. Luke McClain was my first then Sam Legend. I also wrote them into some short stories.

Sometimes I love to imagine what life was like for these Texas Rangers and often when riding in a car I look out at the passing landscape and picture one galloping across the prairie in pursuit of some desperado.

If you had been a man back then, would you have joined up? Would you have had what it took? I honestly don’t think I would be that fearless.

Law Enforcers in the American West

When have you picked up a western romance book that didn’t have some kind of lawman hero? I’ve noticed that an overwhelming number of stories feature marshals, sheriffs, Texas or Arizona Rangers, bounty hunters, and Pinkerton agents. And little wonder, because those occupations tend to breed larger than life heroes. Not that I’m saying the ordinary man can’t be a memorable hero. He certainly can. Heroes spring to life wherever there are people—the man who struggles to provide for his family, the rancher who’s trying to hold onto a piece of land by his fingernails—any man or woman who faces long odds and certain loss yet overcomes.

A hero is someone who gives his all for a belief in justice and right, knowing full well he might lose, but plunges ahead anyway.  He has unwavering conviction that he can make a difference. And he’s someone people respect above all else.

In the settlement of the West, law-enforcers were few and far between. Circumstances bred lawless men who ran roughshod over the weak. Oftentimes, the ordinary citizen had to take it upon himself to protect and defend. Ordinary people with grit and determination filled the gaps and helped carve out a land free of outlaws and greedy land barons. I’ve put together a list of the most written about heroes. I wish I’d known some of these facts when I wrote my first three books which featured a bounty hunter hero, a Texas Ranger, and an ex-Confederate spy. Almost all my books have a sheriff or marshal in them and at times I used the two professions interchangeably. <groan> For a long while I didn’t exactly know the distinction between them.


U.S. Marshals — the first federal organization to come into being.  George Washington and the Continental Congress created the service in 1789. Marshals are federally appointed, not elected, and they served a certain territory and still do today. Their authority extends to everything within that territory. Where states had not yet formed, the U.S. Marshal provided the only law. Their primary function was to support and defend the federal courts. They had wide authority in enforcing every aspect of the law, handling disputes, and carrying out death sentences. They also disbursed and accounted for monies used in running the courts. While I’m not exactly sure, I assume U.S. Marshals paid the bounty money for outlaws. The marshals were not put on an annual salary until 1896. Before that, they worked on a fee system, collecting set amounts for performing particular tasks. Strangely, from 1790 to 1870 they were ordered to take the census every ten years, a fact I didn’t know. U.S. Marshals reported directly to the Secretary of State until 1861 when Congress created the Department of Justice. U.S. Marshals hired as many deputies as needed to perform their duties. Another odd piece of information I learned was that U.S. Marshals had no official headquarters until around 1972. Kinda interesting.

James Arness stars as Marshal Matt Dillon, in the CBS television series “Gunsmoke.” Image dated June 7, 1967. CBS/LANDOV


Sheriffs –- Elected by the citizens of a town and paid by the city officials to perform their duties. Their jurisdiction was limited to the county in which they served. Their primary duty was to keep the peace, uphold the law, and maintain the jail. They acted in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals, but had limited authority. Sheriffs hired deputies and formed posses when needed. The sheriff also served as the tax collector for the county.


Texas and Arizona Rangers –- I can’t think of any tougher law enforcement groups more honored and more deserving than the Texas and Arizona Rangers. Rangers to this day offer untold service to their respective states. Some of their duties include: protect life and property, handle special criminal investigations, quell disturbances, serve as officers of the court at a judge’s request, and suppress criminal activity in any area where local officials are unable or unwilling to maintain law and order. A Ranger’s authority extends throughout the entire state, not curtailed by city or county boundaries. Directly under the governor, they act as an army at times while at others they’re like a police force. The Texas Rangers organized in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin got together a group of men to protect the frontier. Each ranger had to furnish his own horse and firearm. He received $1.25 a day. They were called upon to handle the toughest assignments, usually in conflicts where they were severely outnumbered – “one ranger for one riot” kind of thing. The Arizona Rangers were formed in 1882 under the territorial governor. They were the exact counterpart of the Texas Rangers. The Arizona State Congress abolished them in 1909 but they were reformed years later.

Group of Texas Rangers


Bounty Hunters – People aren’t quite sure where bounty hunters sit when it comes to being a good guy or a bad one. Some writers make them more the villains than the hero, but bounty hunters began as law enforcers. A lot of them served in the capacity of deputy U.S. marshals. Others worked directly with sheriffs in apprehending criminals. Bounty hunters freed up the marshal’s or the sheriff’s time so they could focus on their normal duties and they performed a valued service. There’s just that little problem of doing it for money and that tarnished their reputations. Today, bounty hunters track down bail jumpers mostly.

Pinkerton Agents –- A detective agency founded in 1850 by Allen Pinkerton. They operated nationwide, working for railroad and stage companies. Their logo was the image of an eye and their motto was “We Never Sleep.” Hence, the term private eye.  They performed some of the same work now assigned to the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service. In 1861 while investigating a railroad case, the agency uncovered and foiled a plot to kill Abraham Lincoln on his way to the inauguration. They sometimes used heavy-handed tactics and it sullied their reputation. However, it continued as a family-owned operation until 1967.

Town Marshals – These are completely different from U.S. Marshals and just a name the people gave their lawman. He was like a sheriff.

You also had the Secret Service that was formed on July 5, 1865 to combat counterfeiting. Later, it became their job to protect the president, vice president and other government leaders.

Sometimes a lot of men in the 1800s switched from lawman to outlaw or vice versa depending on how things played out. Among that group was Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Wild Bill Hickok, the Dalton brothers, and lots more.

In my new series Outlaw Mail Order Brides beginning in January 2019, I have an entire town of outlaws. They set their own rules and often take their own brand of justice. There were a lot of men like them living on the American frontier. They did what they had to do and now are being hunted for it. Clay Colby from The Heart of a Texas Cowboy is featured in the first book along with Tally Shannon, one of the women living in Deliverance Canyon. Clay and Tally make a wonderful couple and I think you’ll love them.

Matt Dillon at 6’7” is probably the best-known TV marshal. And Steve McQueen made an excellent, fair-minded bounty hunter in Wanted Dead or Alive. John Wayne often played a marshal in the movies. But do you have other favorites? Or maybe you learned something you never knew before about law-keepers in the Old West.