Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Law and Order in the Old West

Looking back into the history of the wild west, lawmen didn't really exist much before the 1850s. This was a lawless period, where justice was served accordingly. What happened to change all that? Where did the lawmen come from?

 After the Civil War, there were many men without homes or loved ones to go back to. Lands were destroyed, jobs were not available, and many men didn't want to return to the devastation of a ruined city or town. There was one thing they did know how to do, and that was to use a gun. Some men left their homes and traveled to the west, looking for a new start.

Moving west was not easy, but many of these men already suffered terribly from the war. They went to find a new life where they could survive and start over. Some men had the means to start their own business, while others signed on to ranches to become cowboys, the lure of open fields satisfying to them.

Some men, who were skilled with a gun, became gunfighters. Without laws to hold them back, and since the government wasn't in the business of law and order in desolate places yet, criminals escaped to the west to keep from being imprisoned. Many famous towns attracted these types of criminals, especially the mining cities that sprung up overnight.

There were lawful men and women who were moving westward and bringing with them the determination to make these towns law-abiding towns where families could be raised. Getting the riff-raff out was a necessary task, and they needed someone who was good with a gun.

Even in towns with lawmen, a sheriff or deputy may be less than honest. For instance, in my book, A Bride for Abel, the town's sheriff is so dirty he has the whole town scared to go against anything he says or does. With fear instilled in each man and woman, the sheriff did as he pleased.

Until the women of Pistol Ridge had enough. They convinced one man to defy the odds and help them save the town. It's an interesting story of how good versus evil and good always wins.

Here is the blurb:

 A man wrongly accused of murder - A woman out of options - Can a marriage by proxy save them both?

Abel Roosevelt finds himself behind bars in Pistol Ridge for simply defending himself in a game of cards. He is given the ultimatum; marry the bride by proxy who was meant for the man that was killed.

Or, hang.

Kate Eisenhours only choice is to marry by proxy, so she sets off to a new life in Montana Territory where her Uncle is the sheriff. Can Kate survive a marriage by proxy to a man she never met?

What about Abel? Can he convince Kate her uncle is not the person she thinks he is?

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

GOING FOR THE GOLD by Marisa Masterson

Gold in the Dakotas! Treasure in the Black Hills! In 1874, a gold rush started. This time, different from the rush to California in 1849, a train was available to take would-be miners across country. Still, the tracks didn't take a man all the way.
Freighting in Buffalo Country

Enter C. W. Drake, a man who recognized an opportunity.

A waiting stage
During the winter of 1876, Drake founded a stage line from Kearney, Nebraska to the Black Hills. Along with his partner, Downing, they received the contract to carry mail from Kearney to Deadwood. The previous summer, they laid out the route and established supply areas along the way, gaining. This let the people they dealt who know the two meant business.

So, in 1877, Kearney was considered the spot to leave the train if you wanted to go to the Black Hills. With four days of almost continual travel, the stage could cover the 330 miles to Deadwood. Quite a feat at that time!
Deadwood, SD, 1877

Too bad, after all that planning, that it was only popular for the one season. By 1878, Sidney was believed to be the best spot for travel from the train to the Black Hills. Poor Drake and Downing.
My next super-secret project is set in Kearney in the summer of 1877, during the exciting time of growth in the town. Stay tuned for more details next month...

For more information on the stage out of Kearney, check out

Available for pre-order now at

Rustlers and a forced engagement. A treasure map and a missing child. How much can a lady stand?

Forced into the role of a U. S. marshal, Delia Perkins keeps that a secret and goes on with her life as a teacher in the small town of Belle. After all, she's only a courrier, waiting for someone to contact her. So why does she not trust the man who claims to be her contact? Instead, she's drawn to the man she's sure is a part of a gang of rustlers. Will any of this change when someone threatens to reveal her background?

Roland Anderson juggles training both his horses and his daughter. The bad thing is that the horses are better behaved than his little girl. He has a job to do and now he's sure the new teacher knows his true identity. Will she give him away before he can find and arrest the leader of the gang of thieves? Getting close to the gorgeous teacher to find out doesn't seem like a hardship to this widower. Keeping his mind--and hands--off of her is becoming more difficult each day.

When the two are forced into an engagement, will Roland be able to catch the thieves without losing the girl? This is one Valentine's Day that neither Delia nor Roland will soon forget.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Cowboy Sayings - Need to See a Man about a Horse

In the west, horse races were fairly common. It was typically used as a time of celebration, maybe held during a festival or fair. A town might sponsor a race, set it up and then collect an entry fee from each racer to put into a pot for the winner.

But the winner wasn't the only one who received money in their winnings. Betting on races back in those days was considered a fun expression of support for their favorite horse or rider. Gambling wouldn't have been as much of a problem because horse racing wasn't a daily or multi-daily occurrence.

Regardless, in order to join the race or place a bet on one, you had to do so in a timely manner. The race had a start time and you needed to be at the start line or finished with your bet before the race started. So, if you needed to see a man about a horse before a race, you needed to excuse yourself from a conversation quickly because time was of the essence.

Today, when you "need to see a man about a horse," you are saying that you have something expedient that you must take care of, if you could be excused. Normally, that expedient thing now is the need to use the restroom. And the expression is considered a funny idiom, since most people have nothing to do with horses or racing.

How often do you see this expression used in daily life? Did you know the meaning of it before? Leave a comment and let me know!

On average, P. Creeden releases 2-3 stories each month. Interested in learning more? 
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Friday, January 24, 2020

The Feat of Building the Transcontinental Railroad

While researching my last release, GRAYSON, book 8 in the Bachelors and Babies series, I read a non-fiction account of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad titled Nothing Like it in the World by Stephen E. Ambrose. Although long at more than 400 pages, I was captivated at the recounting of how visionaries like Abraham Lincoln (who served as a railroad attorney before running for president) and Grenville Dodge recognized the need for travel between the coasts. This in-depth look at all factors involved (companies, tent cities created, Indian attacks, accidents, blasting through blizzards, leaders, directors) reads like a suspense novel.

What I hadn’t known was how the U.S. government pitted the two companies, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads, against each other through the offer of incentives (money and land) granted for each mile of track surveyed, graded, and laid. Even if all involved knew the value of a solidly built and reliable railroad, the pressure was on to build it fast. Not only were the investors anxious to see a return on their money, but the idea of fast travel captured the public’s interest. Correspondence (mostly in the form of telegrams) between the principals demonstrated they were willing to lay down the track then come back later and reinforce it to last. An endeavor this large involved approvals at the congressional level and backroom deals were made because senators from the affected states wanted the line to benefit their constituents as much as possible.

In that kind of atmosphere came unscrupulous behavior. Several board members from the Union Pacific Railroad formed a separate company, Credit Mobilier, that handled the bids for work and received the government payments. Skimming off the top to benefit the investors occurred which increased the costs of the actual construction.

Several years ago, AMC ran a five-year series titled “Hell on Wheels” (which I loved) that depicted the building of the railroad. As I watched it, I was caught up in the dynamics of the characters and their struggles and motivations. Then when I read Nothing Like it in the World, I realized how accurate the series was and recognized the names of real-life people being featured. If you haven’t seen the series, I highly recommend it. Who else saw that series?

BLURB: A year ago, lawyer Grayson Wainwright's brother was killed due to faulty metal bridge braces. When Grayson files a wrongful death case against a company accused of supplying shoddy materials to the Transcontinental Railroad, he relishes his chance to achieve justice. Grayson’s two witnesses intimately know the accused, Leary Riddock--one is his wife, Loraine, and the other is his secretary, Catalina del Mar.

Catalina and her husband, Joaquin, moved west from Omaha, working at various jobs for the Union Pacific. But when their infant son died, Joaquin abandoned her in Cheyenne, and Catalina was forced to support herself. She became a bookkeeper in Riddock’s construction company and soon learned her boss was not a legitimate businessman. As soon as the facts are revealed about Leary’s embezzlement, she agrees to serve as a key witness.

Then Loraine is killed right before she is scheduled to testify, and threats prove Catalina is next. Now with an orphaned infant on his hands, Grayson must move heaven and earth to protect his beautiful remaining witness…and his heart.


I’m promoting new followers to my BookBub author page today through noon tomorrow here. Sign up as a new follower and be eligible for a chance at a $5 Amazon card.

As a child, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about characters having exciting adventures in places far away. In later years, she started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Now Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor.

Thursday, January 23, 2020


We've all heard the saying - money makes the world go around. Well, it might not, but it does move the people around. Yes, as the Bible says ~ the love of money is the root of all evil ~ yet, we do need money to get along in this world.

The need for money to purchase food and housing is a great motivator. Would I have 50+ books written if I didn't need to pay bills? I'm not too sure, but I would have to guess the answer would be no. And I love to write.

But today, I'm interested in the history of money in the United States. Today, we can go without handling a dollar. For most of us, our money is a digital number that comes and goes as we earn and spend. Hopefully, our earning is larger than our spending.

The Continental Congress issued the first currency for the new country. Times were hard and it was backed only by future revenue from taxes. And the phrase, not worth a continental became commonplace.

In 1785, the congress named the currency of the United States ~ the dollar. The first US Mint in 1793 made our coinage.

But things got carried away and soon there were state-chartered banks with their own currency and over 30,000 different colors and designs of dollars and coins to contend with.

Before the civil war, the Treasury issued Demand Notes and a few years later, the Greenbacks which were to use green ink to prevent counterfeits. The Secret Service was put in charge of controlling counterfeits.

In the frontier, people bartered with furs, gold dust and nuggets until civilization caught up. And with the gold strikes it didn't take long.

San Francisco had a US Mint by 1854 and Denver by 1863.

Thanks for stopping by for a little history of U. S. money.
Have a wonderful day.
You can find my books on Amazon ~ Patricia PacJac Carroll
My latest book is Jericho.

Jericho ~

A stained woman trying to find her wings. A reformed outlaw trying to make his second chance a reality. Together, can they forget the past and forge a future together?

She’s the first of Bridgette’s Bridal Registry. Bridgette is looking to match up brides for her Bounty Brigade graduates who have turned from a life of crime to become upstanding citizens of Shirleyville, Montana.
Del Selmer has served his time and is now ready to use his carpentry skills to help build the town. But he wants a wife and to start a family.
Bridgette has sent out ads in various newspapers throughout the country and has a few respondents.
Jericho has a past of her own. Can Del break down the walls she’s put up around her heart?

Enjoy this sweet and clean Christian historical mail-order bride story set in 1880s Montana.

Have a blessed day
Patricia PacJac Carroll

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

As January rolls along, I have been taking some time to look at what I'd like for the year to be for me as a writer and what I can share with my readers and hopefully find some new readers who enjoy the type of stories I tell.

So what kind of stories am I drawn to write? I enjoy stories that move, have action if you will, along with emotions that will move the reader. I love history and enjoy sharing what I find. Almost every story whether Medieval or Western contain or were inspired by pieces of research.

"Josie's Dream" came about because of my love and research of the early women doctors in Colorado. No, that does not include the TV show Dr. Quinn, which was fiction or Doc Susie the Colorado doctor the show was based on. Dr. Susan Anderson did not arrive in Colorado until 1894/5. The women who inspire me were here in the 1870s. Their stories and the reasons they came to this state informed my character, Josephine Forrester. The rest of the story played out in research on railroads, ranching and the land in which Josie walked.

When I was looking at what became "Chasing a Chance" I had read a book called "Holding the Ace Card" and done some research on the town of Boston, Colorado, located in the southeast portion of Colorado. In the case of this story, the location and events that occurred in the doomed town of Boston became the basis of the story.

I was writing a paper on the research I had done on a Colorado criminal names 'Joe Ward' when I began what was the novel "The Outlaw's Letter". Most of the characters in the story came almost directly from extrapolating characteristics of the outlaws and people I'd come across. Places and events were as in sync as I could make them with what was happening in Colorado during that time. I sometimes changed location or names, but as they say, writing is ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration.

So who do I go about researching the past? Many times all I do is read old newspapers and city directories at my local library's special collections department. I find names and occupations that catch my eye. Then I will sometimes to an ancestry search on those people to find where they came from, what occupation they had before arriving here.

Additionally from my own background in the criminal justice field, I find myself drawn to crimes that occur during the timeframe I'm writing about. Sometimes, like the town of Boston, Colorado, I will try to find all I can about a location I will be writing about. My current WIP takes place in Colorado in one of the mountain valley's, so I'm reading the newspapers from the towns in that area. All of this serves to add an authentic feel to my story.

So as readers, watch for what your favorite author has to say about the time they are writing about. As authors, what do you do when you're starting or writing a story? I really would love to know. Each piece we share can only make what we do more exciting.

I wish everyone a wonderful and productive year of books read and written. Thank you for taking the time to read my process. If you have enjoyed mine or other author's works, please share a testimonial. We appreciate the feedback.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Monday, January 13, 2020

Treating Brain Injuries & Bruises in the Old West by Zina Abbott

This is one of those blog posts where I need to start with a warning.


Some of the images you are about to see
may be disturbing for sensitive groups.

In Nathan's Nurse, my hero, silver miner, Nathan Price, suffers, among other injuries, a head injury when a crossbeam from a square set (often built in mines to help support the rock walls) glances off the back of his head. With only a mine dispensary in the remote mining community, no modern hospital with a sterile operating room, what was a doctor hired to treat broken bones, scrapes and bruises, and diseases related mining to do?

For my research, I relied heavily on two sources. The first was the book, The Doctor's Bag by Dr. Keith Souter who writes Western fiction as Clay More. although Dr. Souter is a medical doctor educated in modern times, his book focuses on the medical knowledge and practices of the nineteenth century.

In my story, I referred to two medical practices in use in the late nineteenth century. One was trephination (trepanning) to relieve pressure on the brain, and the other was the use of leeches to reduce the build-up of blood in large bruises.

Trepanning to relieve pressure on the brain is an ancient practice.  It was used from the neolithic period forward, both in Meso-America and Europe.
Surgeon performing trephination procedure

The Hippocratic Treatises make mention of trepanning in the chapter on injuries of the head, which states: ‘For a person wounded to the same . . . extent . . . will sustain a much greater injury, provided he has received the blow at the sutures, than if it was elsewhere. And many of these require trepanning.’

Skull showing different trepanning methods
Galen also makes mention by explaining the technique of trephination and the risks involved to the patient:

For when we chisel out the fragments of bone we are compelled for safety to put underneath the so-called protectors of the meninx, and if these are pressed too heavily on the brain, the effect is to render the person senseless as well as incapable of all voluntary motion.

Trephination, or trepanning, is accomplished by using a trephine, or small circular saw with a center pin mounted on a strong hollow metal shaft to which is attached a transverse handle. It is used in surgery to remove circular disks of bone from the skull.

Dr. Souter's book also clued me into the use of leeches. Although the practice of using leeches to bleed patients to remove the "bad blood" that made them sick had been disproved by the latter half of the nineteenth century, leeches were still used to remove partially clotted blood from large bruises. (Quite frankly, these images of using leeches freaked me out more than the ones of cutting into the head.)

Eighteenth century physician applying leeches to patient

My second source of information was my own experience of learning more about my brother's condition after, as a child, he twice suffered from blood clots on the brain. 

The first time it happened, he was two and a half years old. After being rushed to the hospital when he became unconscious for no apparent reason, the surgeons drained a blood clot found during emergency surgery. Because that condition was so unusual for a child that age, and because he fully recovered, nothing more was done.

When he was six and a half years old, after dragging his tricycle up the stairs to the second story of our home, he collapsed. After discovering a second blood clot, the doctors knew there was something else going on, and they performed exploratory surgery. This was in the 1950s, long before laparoscopic surgery techniques were developed.  They found an abnormal cluster of blood vessels that had weakened and burst, causing the blood to escape inside his cranium. Although they fixed it, the damage of that second episode caused my brother permanent brain damage. 

As his thirteen-year-old sister, I had questions about the changes in my brother. I learned that parts of his brain dealing with his reasoning ability were affected, although the part dealing with memory was not. (My brother exhibited fantastic recall throughout his life. Within the months after his surgery, my father took him along when he visited construction sites or the homes of employees and work associates. Sometimes, my dad could not remember how to get someplace when he had been there only once several weeks earlier. My brother pointed out the way.)

My brother ended up being partially paralyzed on half of his body. I learned that the clotting on the left side of his brain affected the left side of his face and head including his left eye and speech. Due to the nerves crossing somewhere in the neck region, the right side of his body became partially paralyzed. He never did regain full use of his right arm and leg. Although he eventually relearned how to speak well, it sometimes took him longer to think through what he wanted to say.

The word "stroke" was never used in relation to my brother. However, that basically was what happened, not due to a build-up of plaque in the blood vessels and arteries that broke loose and blocked blood flow, but due to injury to the blood vessels  in the brain that drained the blood flow to the brain and resulted in a blood clot that put pressure on the brain. 

I used this understanding gained from my experience of living with my brother in my book. My heroine, Dahlia, knew of a boy in her home town who suffered a brain injury when a child, and this boy never fully recovered. When she is confronted with taking care of Nathan, she also worries about his future. 

Excerpt from Nathan's Nurse:

          “No doubt about it, Mrs. Price, he’s pretty battered up. As you can see, he suffered quite an extensive head injury. It might be hard to believe, but he’s doing better than he was. It surprised me when they first brought him to me. He did open his eyes and respond to my voice, although he could not answer my questions regarding his pain level. Not too long after that, he became totally unconscious.”

          “That was when he went into a coma? Not as soon as he was injured in the mine?”
          “That’s right. Don’t get me wrong—he was knocked unconscious when the wood beam first hit him, but he came to while they were bringing him to the dispensary. After he slipped into a coma after that, I suspected a brain clot inside the cranium…er, the skull…and called for Dr. Adams, here in town, to join me for a consultation. He agreed. Fortunately, he has a trephination saw. So, while I stayed and set bones on one of the other miners they brought in, he went back to his office to collect his saw and his medical book on the procedure for us to review before we started cutting into his cranium.”

Trephination operation - 1821 Wellcome from public domain (I spared you the colorized version)
          Dahlia pressed a forearm to her stomach to prevent the bile she felt forming there from rising in her throat. “You cut into his head?”
          “Yes. It was the only way to drain a blood clot that had formed inside his skull. It’s kind of like how apoplexy works. If too much blood presses against the brain and nerves, it can cause considerable damage, even death.”
          As she absorbed this new information, Dahlia stared off to the side. “Oh. I had no idea.”
          “You need to be aware, Mrs. Price, that we removed a small disk of bone from the skull. After we drained what we could, we washed it in a mild carbolic solution to prevent infection and put the bone we removed back in place before we closed the skin and sewed up the incision. Dr. Adams and I debated about leaving it partially open so the bleeding in the brain and beneath his skin could drain. We decided, due to the dust that exists around the mine and its structures, to close it up. Instead, since neither he nor I keep leeches, we contacted the railroad construction crew doctor. He sent a couple down. I used them the next day to keep the blood build-up down and prevent too much pressure on that piece of bone we reset in his head.”
          “I-I didn’t know they still use leeches.”

from Historia Medica by W. van den Bossche 1638

          Dr. Sprague shrugged. “Not as much as they used to, since most physicians no longer believe routine bleeding is beneficial. The railroad doc keeps some on hand because, for one reason or another, the men he treats frequently get into brawls. 

1852 advertisement for leeches for medicinal purposes
Leeches are useful for removing excessive blood from black eyes and other large bruises. Head injuries are known to bleed a lot. So, I was grateful when he sent them down for me to apply to the swelling on the back of your husband’s head. We just need to watch that area. He may end up with a slight indent in his head if the piece of bone we removed gets pushed in too far as it heals. Or it may bulge out a bit. The main thing is to keep the brain healthy and his head free from too much swelling, both from blood accumulation and infection.”
          Dahlia huffed out a breath and looked off to the side, already feeling drained and incompetent to handle the challenge of providing proper care for her new husband. Nathan’s injuries were far more extensive than Royce Bainbridge had led her to believe. However, if she had not agreed to take on his care, who would have?

Nathan's Nurse is the second book in the "Train Wreck in Jubilee Springs" trilogy. The first book is Two Sisters and the Christmas Groom. In spite of its title, Two Sisters and the Christmas Groom does not focus so much on a Christmas theme that you will feel like you are reading the book out of season if you read it now. Likewise, although some scenes in Nathan's Nurse include Christmas Day, the story continues into the new year of 1882. 

You may find both books by clicking on the hyperlinked titles above. The third book will not come out until later in 2020.