Friday, October 28, 2022

San Antonio’s Famous Fort


In researching the story I’m currently writing, Cherishing Caitlyn, book 6 in the “Thanksgiving Brides” multi-author series, I needed a fort on the Texas frontier for the big meet between my protagonists. Because I was also including a plot element of the professional rodeo (which is acknowledged as premiering in May of 1888) I had a limited time frame. By the late 1880s, the majority of the 19th-century forts had served their purpose of either being supply posts for westward travelers or to guard settlers against the native population and were closed. With the capture of the last escapee from the reservation system, Geronimo, the native threat was considered over.

I settled on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio as the fort for the opening of my story. The fort is named for the man who served as a US Senator and Governor of Texas, as well as a US Representative and Governor from Tennessee. The bid for construction of the fort was won in 1876, 33 years after Texas gained independence from Mexico. An interesting feature of the fort, and the first structure built, is the Quadrangle, a set of long buildings constructed around a central green space. The original use was as a supply depot. At one end of the Quadrangle, a brick clock tower and a large water storage tank were built.

By 1881, the fort consisted of 15 officers’ quarters, built near a parade ground, and the house for the fort’s commanding general, now named Pershing House.

In 1886, Geronimo was housed at Fort Sam for about six weeks following his capture in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona Territory, before his transfer to a Florida reservation while negotiations were conducted over how his surrender was to be classified--conditional or unconditional. Legend says that he refused to eat food he did not hunt himself so a herd of deer was imported to live in the Quadrangle.

Although I lived in San Antonio from 2000-2012, I never toured the ninety remaining historic buildings at the fort, which is now part of a huge military complex. But I can attest to a herd of deer that often grazed along a roadway I drove through undeveloped land in the northeastern part of the city on my way to work.

On a visit with an aunt and uncle at an army fort, Caitlyn O’Mara meets a man with exceptional horse riding skills and is intrigued. At a ball, she enjoys a flirtation with the cocky rider where they exchange only first names.  Anxious to return to her horse breeding program, she travels back to the family ranch, only to discover the charming stranger is on the same stagecoach. When a broken wheel rolls the coach, everyone is injured and alone on the Texas prairie.

Mateo Beltran is on his way to investigate specially trained horses. He’s on the lookout for cutting horses to give him the edge for the roping event in the newly established professional rodeo. An accident leaves him injured with his future career in jeopardy.

Determined they are the most fit, Caitlyn and Mateo lean on each other to reach the next stagecoach stop to summon help. Trust develops but will it last when they discover an unknown connection?

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