Thursday, July 20, 2017

An Irish Immigrant. She Came, She Saw, She Gave Back.

by Heather Frey

Allow me to introduce you to Nellie Cashman, a fearless, boundary-pushing, territory-exploring Irish woman who saw America as the Land of Opportunity. She came, she saw, she conquered … and she gave back.
In 1850, at about the age of five, Nellie immigrated to Boston with her sister Fanny and widowed-mother. The three spent almost fifteen years together there, but then relocated west to San Francisco around 1872, give or take. Nellie and her mother, both of whom apparently had an adventurous streak, decided to move on to the bustling, untamed mining town of Pioche, NV. They only stayed a few years, but Nellie was deeply involved with the Catholic church there, helping with fundraisers and bazaars. 
When her aging mother decided Pioche was a little too wild for a senior citizen, Nellie took her to live with her now-married sister in San Francisco. Stunningly, Nellie then headed north alone to British Columbia to another rough-and-rowdy mining town. She opened a boarding house in the Cassiar District and tried her hand at mining.
Now, most girls in this situation, hanging around with such an unsavory crowd, might get into mischief, forget their morals. Herein lies the quirky thing about Nellie: she loved to help people, sometimes through hell and high water and avalanches. 
In the winter of 1874-75, Nellie took a trip to British Columbia where she helped establish the Sisters of St. Ann Hospital. Over the coming decades, she would continue to be a stalwart supporter of this hospital, and several others. She also helped destitute miners, making sure benevolence funds were available to them in whatever town she landed.
She is most famous, though, for what she did on the way home. Traveling back to B.C., she heard a blizzard had stranded dozens, if not more, of the folks from the Cassiar district, and they were experiencing a scurvy epidemic, to boot. Nellie immediately hired men and sleds, acquired medicine and supplies and started out for Cassiar. It took the group 77 days in unimaginable conditions to reach the miners. Nellie then worked tirelessly to nurse the folks back to health.
Her feat was so astounding, so brazen, so fearless, the story was picked up by the newspapers. With good cause, she came to be known to the miners as their “Angel of Mercy.”
Nellie was a legitimate legend.
She was also restless, constantly on the move, from one raunchy mining town to the next. After the death of her sister, she continued to feed her wanderlust, but with five nephews and nieces in tow. To keep food on the table, she bought and sold restaurants, and even owned and worked her own claims. She spent several years in Tombstone, AZ where she rubbed shoulders with larger-than-life figures like Wyatt Earp and Johnny Behan. Her faith, however, was as ingrained on Nellie’s heart as cactus in the dessert. Even in wild-and-wooly Tombstone, she worked to build Tombstone’s first hospital and Roman Catholic church.
When Nellie passed away in 1925, she did so in the Sisters of St. Ann hospital that she had funded for nearly fifty years.
I heard someone complain today about how her own life had never really amounted to anything because of a lack of opportunity. Nellie saw opportunity everywhere: opportunities to succeed, opportunities to help others. The Real American Way.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Critical Thinking and History

Post (c) Doris McCraw-writing as Angela Raines

The on-line dictionary defines Critical Thinking as: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

As many may know, the other Doris part of me researches and writes about historic events and people, specifically Colorado and Colorado Springs history, along with the women doctors who lived and worked in Colorado prior to 1900.

As I've stated before, it is difficult to divorce myself from preconceived ideas and my own personal experiences. When I find pieces of information, I try to collect as much and from as many different sources as I can, without making any opinion or judgment about what I find, until I've exhausted all options available. Believe me, much easier said than done.

One example: The murder trial that took place in Colorado Springs in 1879. If all I did was accept what I read in the paper, a man shot and killed another and later got what he deserved by being killed in a remote area of the state. There are both fact and opinion stated in the newspaper. But by digging deeper, the story is not so cut and dried. There are still many sources to be found and read beyond those I've located already. Once I have just the facts, then comes the distillation of those facts to find a conclusion. So far I've two other men who were outlaws, living and 'working' during the same time period. In fact two were in the territorial prison at the same time. So, the story is not so cut and dried. The information gathered definitely will require major critical thinking to find the truth based on any and all information found.

When it comes to the women doctors, the standard 'belief and opinion' based on what others have done, is that women had a difficult time entering and practicing in this profession. This had been the case for some, but as more information and resources have become available, the facts are not necessarily supporting the accepted belief. It will take more research, finding more of the stories of these women, before a definite answer is available. However, the answer will not be found if one doesn't question. That is a joy and frustration of research and critical thinking. It is also what drives one to learn and grow.

Have I reach a conclusion regarding the above pieces I'm researching. NO. That will take more research. What I do know is, to accept blindly what everyone says, without being objective and evaluating the information, is doing myself and others a disservice. To me, it has become important that I use critical thinking and do all I can to find the truth to the best of my ability, and form my judgment from there.  I am and never have been comfortable accepting 'opinions' without doing my 'due diligence' as we said when I worked in the Criminal Justice field. 

I had a music teacher once who told be I could sing the song anyway I liked, but in order to do it well, I had to learn it the correct way first.  I took those words to heart, and use them in my historic fiction and non-fiction. I can tell the stories I would like, but first I have to know the facts before I can manipulate them. 

So happy writing and keep the stories coming from your fingertips.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -

also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 

Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blog Tour Tuesday: CHLOE'S SANCTUARY

This week’s Blog Tour Tuesday features
Chloe’s Sanctuary 

Stones Creek Series #3

By Sophie Dawson

About Chloe’s Sanctuary:

A different sort of Mail Order Bride story

Five years ago Chloe Ashburn and her two children were rescued by Nugget Nate and Penny. Since then they’d lived at Nate’s mission for troubled women called Sanctuary Place. Now, with Sanctuary House ready she, and several other rehabilitated women, are moving to Stones Creek, Colorado to find a loving husband. When a person from her past is revealed she worries that her new start might be over for good. She just wants to find a Sanctuary where she and her children can feel loved, wanted, and useful. Can Stones Creek be that place or will she once again be cast aside? Will the men who abandoned her five years ago ruin her chance at a Happy Ever After? Or will she find Sanctuary in the arms of the local blacksmith?

McIlroy has a secret. He lost a wife and family during the Civil War. He wants nothing to do with any of the women at Sanctuary House, or so he tells himself. Yet, he’s drawn to the tall, dark-haired Chloe and her children. Can he learn to forgive himself and allow love into his life again? Or will he push the woman away out of fear and guilt?

Eight women are getting a second chance at Sanctuary House. Will they find it, or is the past too strong to overcome? Will they find husbands for themselves and fathers for their children, or was Nugget Nate wrong to send them here? Can the past be overcome? Is there really a chance for any of them to find Sanctuary? The answers lie in the pages of Chloe’s Sanctuary.

It is a stand alone book but reading the series in order is recommended.
Chloe's Choice Free if you sign up for Sophie’s VIP email list or .99 on Amazon


 McIlroy pounded the nail a last time. He was working on a side of the school building the town’s people were constructing. The goal was to frame and raise the sides of the building during the morning and the roof and siding in the afternoon.
“Would you like a donut and coffee?” It was the voice that caused his chest to ache.
Straightening from his crouch, McIlroy stood and looked at her. “Thank you.”
She was tall and thin. Thinner than he thought she should be. Her hair was shiny black, piled up in that way women did. Her oval face framed large dark eyes. So dark he couldn’t tell if they were a deep blue or brown. She lifted the tray of donuts urging him to take one.
“McIlroy,” Leah’s voice broke through his paralysis. “This is Mrs. Chloe Ashburn. She’s new in town.”
McIlroy wiped his sweaty hand on his britches and carefully picked up one donut between two fingers and his thumb. Leah poured a mug of coffee and handed it to him.
“Pleased to meet you, ma’am.” He glanced down at his hands wondering how he could offer one for her to shake. He lifted the coffee mug as a sort of salute.
McIlroy didn’t have a clue what to say so he took a bite of his donut, getting sugar around his mouth and down his shirt. Not able to brush it off because his hands were full, he licked around his mouth.
Chloe cleared her throat and looked at the ground. McIlroy hoped he didn’t look as dumb as he felt. It was as if he was sixteen again. This wasn’t good. He wasn’t interested in her. He’d had a woman before and he didn’t think he wanted one again. But she sure was pretty.
“Mama, can I have a donut?” It was a little girl asking. She was cute. Black hair like her mother, but with big bright blue eyes. A tightness came around his heart.
“May I have a donut?” Chloe corrected.
“Okay, may I have one?”
Chloe leaned down so the girl could take one from the tray. “Here you go. Mr. McIlroy, this is my daughter Lil-Pen. Lil-Pen this is Mr. McIlroy.”
Lil-Pen gave a small curtsy. “Pleased to make your quaintness.”
McIlroy smiled at the pretty little thing. His heart hurt but he kept his smile clear. “Pleased to meet you, too. So you like donuts, huh?”
“Yes, sir. Mrs. Almeda makes the bestest donuts.”
Several other men came up at the moment. Their intent was donuts and an introduction to the pretty Mrs. Ashburn. McIlroy backed away and turned to look over the crowd milling around the school yard. They’d been working for a couple of hours and were taking a break.
Not only was the day’s purpose to raise the school building, but also to introduce the ladies living in Sanctuary House to more of the community. That’s the way Pastor Preston had explained it anyway. McIlroy took that to mean for the women to meet the men of Stones Creek and the surrounding area.
Everyone knew the reason the women and children were here was to provide wives for the men. This event was a perfect way to begin that process.
McIlroy set his coffee mug down on a pile of boards and brushed the sugar off his shirt. He’d do well to stay away from all the women. Mrs. Chloe Ashburn especially. She reminded him too much of his past. Not that she was similar in looks or physical form, but how that form made him feel.
“Pretty good donuts, huh?” asked Dak Levine, one of the cowboys from the Chasing R Ranch.
“Yeah, they’re Almeda’s. You don’t want to miss them. Coffee’s good, too.” McIlroy looked around and saw several other cowboys from the ranch.
“Mr. McIlroy, Mama told me to ask if you wanted another donut.” Lil-Pen was holding up a plate with several donuts on it. Dak already had one in his hand. The plate was tipped dangerously with the donuts sliding to the edge.
He took one, then decided he needed to be more polite. He gently lifted the plate to be more level. “Thank you. So, Lil-Pen, how are you liking Stones Creek?” It was a question he thought she could answer. He figured she was around five-years-old.
“It’s fun. At least, so far. Dunc isn’t bothering me much. He sure did when we were on the train. He bossed me around something fierce. Mama finally made him stop.”
“Dunc?” McIlroy asked.
“My brother. He’s thirteen and thinks he knows everything. That’s him over there.” She pointed to a skinny youth just on the verge of puberty. He stood with a few other boys who all looked as if they wanted to be doing something like the rest of the men, but didn’t know quite how to start.
McIlroy took pity on them. He remembered being too old and too young at the same time. Maybe he could help them out.
“Lil-Pen, how about you go get another plate full of donuts and meet me over where your brother is?”
“Cause those boys need energy for what I’m going to set them to doing.”
McIlroy went over to Massot and caught his attention. “Massot, how about we set those boys to laying out the boards for the roof struts?” He tipped his head toward the group. “Gives them something constructive to do, and it’s a very important job.” The last words were said in an exaggerated manner.
Massot looked over at the boys and rubbed the stubble on his chin. “McIlroy, you’re smarter than you look. Come on, you can help me explain their job and help lay out the first one so they understand how to do it.”
Lil-Pen and Mrs. Ashburn met him and Massot as they approached the boys. They handed out the donuts as Massot explained what he wanted done.
McIlroy was impressed with the boys’ eagerness to do the job and how they listened carefully to the instructions. Soon the boys were moving the planks into position. They stood watching for a few moments then Lil-Pen pulled on McIlroy’s pant leg. He looked down into the upturned face.
“How come you talk funny?”
“Lil-Pen, that’s rude. Mr. McIlroy doesn’t talk funny. He speaks with an accent. Remember how Uncle Nate speaks with an accent.” Mrs. Ashburn’s cheeks had turned bright red with embarrassment over her daughter’s question.
“Tis fine. Lil-Pen, I come from a different country. I’m from Scotland. I came over to America nye onto fifteen years ago. We speak a wee bit differently over there.” McIlroy strengthened his brogue for emphasis. 
“I like it. Can you teach me to talk like that?” Lil-Pen was jumping with excitement.
“Well, I ken try, but you’ll be a needin’ ta ken ‘at most will na be understood.”
“What did you say?” Lil-Pen looked confused and McIlroy laughed. So did Mrs. Ashburn. Ach, but she was a pretty thing.
“I said I can try to teach you to talk that way but you’ll need to understand that people won’t be able to understand you.”
“Oh.” Lil-Pen drooped, dejected. “I don’t think I want to learn then. Mama, there’s Nancy. Can I go see what she’s helping with?”
“Yes, but be sure to mind the other ladies.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
McIlroy watched the little girl run across the yard. He wasn’t sure how to keep the conversation going. He just knew he wanted to.
“Mr. McIlroy, thank you for getting the boys involved. I heard you speak with Massot about giving them a job to do.”
“Just McIlroy. No mister. It was no problem, Mrs. Ashburn. They looked like they wanted to help but didn’t know how to ask.”
“It’s just Chloe. You don’t need to call me Mrs. Ashburn. Thank you anyway. The boys are good workers and helpful, but they are boys and tend to fall into mischief if not kept busy.”
McIlroy smiled. “Ach, don’t I just know it. I was a boy meself once.”

You can get Chloe’s Choice, the prequel to Chloe’s Sanctuary, for free by signing up for Sophie’s VIP mailing list.
Chloe’s Choice - Chloe was kidnapped as a ten-year-old child. Now she's been abandoned by the gang who held her for years. She's alone, except for her 8-year-old son, and in labor. What choice does she have? A broken down shack, little food and out in the middle of nowhere aren't the way she wants to deliver the baby.
 To purchase Chloe's Sanctuary 
please click here.

About Sophie Dawson:

Sophie Dawson has made up stories in her head all her life. It wasn’t until 2011 that she began writing typing them out.

Sophie writes Christian fiction(translate that to romance). Her first books were all historical fiction romance. They’ve won multiple awards and garnered rave reviews. Now, Sophie is branching out into contemporary romance though she plans to continue writing historical and hopes to add more books in her popular Cottonwood and Stones Creek series.

Sophie lives with her husband and cat on a farm in western Illinois. She’s an avid seamstress and was a professional quilter for a number of years before the writing bug bit. She’s just thankful it’s not fatal.

She lives on a farm in western Illinois with her husband and  extremely old cat. She loves reading, sewing, gardening, computer games and traveling. An avid seamstress she was a professional quilter before the writing bug bit. Thankfully, the bite wasn't fatal.

Sophie’s Links: