Tuesday, September 27, 2022



Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Pikes Peak
Photo Property of the Author

Most have heard of Pikes Peak, but do you know the other names that this mountain has had? Read On.

1. Tava - this is the name that the Ute called the mountain. The word means "Sun Mountain"

2. Montana del Sol - this is the name the first Spanish explorers used for the mountain. Translated it is "Mountain of the Sun"

3. El Capitan - this is the name the Spanish explorers used later. The definition is "the Captain" or "the Leader". This may have come into use as the peak is the easternmost of the 14ers on the Front Range of Colorado.

4. Heey-otoyoo- this is the name the Arapahoes gave the mountain. Translated it means "the Long Mountain"

5. Grand Peak - this is one of the names Zebulon Pike called the mountain in his journals.

6. Highest Peak - this is another name that Zebulon Pike for the mountain in his journals.

7. James Peak - This was in honor of Edwin James the botanist with the Long Expedition who actually climbed to the top in 1820.

8. Pike's Highest Peak - a number of the early explorers, trappers and settlers called the mountain by this name.

9. Long Mountain - The use of this name may have been for Stephen Long, the leader of the expedition of which Edwin James was a member.

10. Pikes Peak - the name we all know the mountain by today. Named for Zebulon Pike, who tried, but never climbed the mountain that bears his name. 

The mountain has also had many elevations over the years.

14,109', 14, 147', 14, 500', 14, 110', and finally 14, 115' which is the official altitude today. (And no, it is not the tallest peak in Colorado. The tallest is Mt. Elbert, near Leadville, at 14,433')

For fun, here is a link to the cameras at the top of the mountain: Cameras at the top of Pikes Peak

For a full article on the Peak: History Colorado article

For those who are wondering, I've found bits and pieces about Dr. Hewitt, soon his story will hopefully be told. In the meantime, it's back to writing and research.

I've just published a book about the early women doctors who are buried in Evergreen Cemetery, in Colorado Springs, CO. the town that sits on the base of Pikes Peak.

Amazon or Books2Read

Until next time, Happy Reading. Doris McCraw

Wednesday, September 21, 2022


With all the busy-ness of our lives and the search for something different for meal time, ground beef is often a “go-to” food because it can be used for so many things. But do you ever wonder how long we’ve been eating GROUND beef? I was watching Rawhide the other day as they were serving up yet another helping of Wishbone’s stew, and it made me wonder exactly when ground beef came into existence.

No one knows for sure, because it’s a “bone of contention”—but some say it was invented in Europe in 1885. One thing for sure, though, it’s generally accepted that our version of the hamburger patty/hamburger was not popular here in the USA until it was served up at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904!

I’m sure Gil Favor, Rowdy Yates, Mushy, Quince, and Scarlet, as well as the rest of the crew, were heartily sick of stew! Yet, what could they do? The hamburger had not been invented, nor had ground beef.

If only they had known…Wishbone could have whipped up this tasty variation of stew right quick for the crew and it would sure have helped their dispositions in a lot of cases!

I found this recipe in my memories on Facebook, and had never made it. So…. Since I’d put off going to the grocery store “one more day” I thought I’d give it a try—I just happened to have the ingredients in my cupboard, so I felt like that was a ‘sign’ since I was out of so many other things. I even had cornbread mix!

Here’s the original recipe and my modified notes. The great thing about this recipe is that it is VERSATILE and you can change it to just the way your family likes it.

Hubby and I do not like celery, so I never cook with it. Instead, I just added more carrots and a can of whole kernel corn.

See? It’s just whatever you like or have handy! And believe me, it is DELICIOUS! (And easy!)

Note: Serve with buttered cornbread, biscuits, or crackers.

2 pounds ground beef
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes
(Here, I put in only 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 1 can of tomato sauce, and one can of beef broth.)
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
(I left this out entirely.)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
(I used ¾ cup Minute Rice)
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained—my addition to the recipe
1 to 2 tablespoons salt (this will depend on how much tomato ‘stuff’ you use, and beef broth)
1 to 2 teaspoons pepper
(I used parsley, a little garlic salt, LOTS of pepper—I love it!—and even a tiny bit of that ‘Hot Shot’ pepper from McCormick)

Cook beef and onions over medium heat; drain. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce (if used), beef broth (if used), carrots, celery, potatoes, water, rice, drained corn (if used) salt and pepper and other spices; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables and rice are tender. STIR FROM TIME TO TIME TO PREVENT STICKING. Uncover; simmer 20-30 minutes longer or until thickened!

The original version of this recipe came from an old Facebook group that has changed, so I don’t know who to properly credit, but they sure did a great job!

You can make this whatever consistency your family likes, and if it thickens overnight, just add a little water before reheating the next day.

It is wonderful, and makes quite a lot! Perfect for these fall and winter days that are coming soon!

I hope you enjoy!

Have any of you ever made HAMBURGER STEW? Do you have a different recipe? This one is really good, but I always love to see what variations people use in their own recipes!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The 13th Annual Peacemaker Awards Now Open for Submissions


Submissions for the 13th Annual WF Peacemaker Awards are now being accepted for works originally published in the year 2022. 


First publication (print or ebook) must be between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022, no reprints or revisions.  Limit of 2 entries per category.

Books and short stories may be published in any country in the world (submissions must be in English) in print or electronic format. Electronic submissions must be made with epub, PDF, or Word/text files. WF reserves the right to decline any submission for consideration of an Award.

Authors, agents, or publishers may submit a work for consideration of an Award.

At least three entrants in a category must be received during the submission period for an Award to be presented.

Novels and short stories must be set in the time period between 1830-1920 to be considered Westerns under WF guidelines. Time periods beyond the 1830-1920 traditional western focus may be included in submissions as long as the periods outside of the 1830-1920 span constitute no more than 50% of the story. At least 50% of the story MUST TAKE PLACE in the 1830-1920 period. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Nominees for the WF Peacemaker Award will be announced on 05/15/2023 and the winners will be announced on 06/15/2023.

The WF Peacemaker Award will be awarded in three categories:

Best Western Novel – Any novel published during the award year set in the appropriate time period (1830-1920), 30,000 words and higher. There are no format requirements. The novel may be a hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, or eBook.

Best Western Short Fiction – Any short story, novelette, or novella published during the award year set in the appropriate time period (1830-1920), 500 words to 29,999 words. There are no format requirements. The short story may be published in any publication, print or electronic.

Best Western First Novel – Must meet the same requirements as Best Novel, and must be the author’s first published Western novel. If the author has published novels in any other genre they will not disqualify the author from the Best Western First Novel Award competition. Submissions for Best Western First Novel may also be submitted in the Best Novel category in the same year. 


If sending paperbacks or hardbacks, one copy of the work must be sent to each judge (3 per category), and the Awards Chair for a total of four, accompanied with the appropriate form. 

Electronic versions should be emailed to the Awards Chair, James Reasoner with the appropriate submission form. The electronic submissions will be distributed to the judges by the Awards Chair. Judges should not be contacted by any entrant concerning their entry during the consideration period. Doing so may result in disqualification of eligibility for the WF Peacemaker Award. Works submitted will not be returned after the awards have been announced. There is no fee to enter. There will be no exceptions made to the submission procedures, for any reason. 

All entries must be postmarked or received via email by midnight, CST, January 16, 2023. 

The appropriate submission forms and a list of the judges can be found on the Western Fictioneers website. 


Thursday, September 8, 2022

On This Day in the Old West: September 9

 1839 was a big year for photographers. Louis Daguerre invented the Daguerreotype that year. But on September 9, Sir John Herschel created plate glass photography, and this is what we are interested in.

Cameras have actually been around for a long time. The Chinese were playing around with pinhole cameras, boxes with a small hole for light to enter, in the 5th Century BC, for example, and they were aware that certain chemicals changed when exposed to light. They had all the right ingredients, but there is so far no proof that anyone put the two together back then. After the Chinese, the ancient Greeks toyed with the technology, followed by the Arabs, then the Europeans. But it wasn’t until the early 1800s that photography as we know it, was born.


Sir John Herschel, who is actually the one who introduced the word “photography” into the English language, created a photographic negative on a glass plate, using a light-sensitive emulsion of silver salts. A “negative” refers to the image created when light is focused through the camera lens and lands on light sensitive materials. The created image is the opposite, in terms of light and dark, than what is seen by the eye.


For the photographic process, ordinary glass plates were “wet-coated” at the time of use, with many “recipes” used by various photographers. The photographer had to hurry and develop these plates while still wet, in a darkroom of some sort, either in the studio or in the field. By the late 19th Century, pre-coated gelatin dry plates were largely in use. These were the first photographic negative materials that were manufactured and mass produced. Dry plate emulsions didn’t have the same time limitations as wet plates, which allowed for greater mobility and convenience. Photographers could store their exposed plates in the box until they could be developed. Of course, they are fragile (and surprisingly heavy), so carrying them around can be tricky.


Once satisfied that the subject was sufficiently lit and positioned in a visually pleasing way, a photographer would select a dry glass plate and take the following steps. (The dry plate or gelatin silver glass plate negative was made using a sheet of glass coated with silver-based light-sensitive materials suspended in a gelatin solution bonded to the glass using heat)

1.     Place a dry plate contained in a plate holder into a slot in the camera.

2.     Slide the cover from the plate holder to uncover the dry plate.

3.     Uncover and then recover the lens. (By 1880, photographic plates were so sensitive that an exposure of less than a second was often enough to achieve the desired result).

4.     Slide the cover on the plate holder back over the dry plate.

5.     Remove the plate holder containing the exposed plate, now ready for processing in a darkroom.


Once the negatives were developed, you could use a variety of printing processes, depending on the type of result desired. Printing Out Paper was a fairly thin paper treated with photosensitive silver chloride crystals in a gelatin glaze. This was used for printing photographs which were to be mounted on strong cards such as cabinet prints. These prints would then be toned and fixed. With this type of paper, the image was developed solely through the effect of light, without requiring further chemical development. You simply placed the paper under the negative in a special frame and exposed it to daylight or strong artificial light until the image developed. Toning was done using gold and platinum toners to convert the silver into more stable compounds, then the photograph would be washed and fixed using standard fixing solution.


The platinum print (also called a platinotype) was often used for landscape or architectural photographs. In this method, the metal deposited on the paper through a series of chemical reactions is not silver, but platinum. Paper treated with a mixture of iron salts and a platinum compound would be exposed to light and the image developed out using a solution of potassium oxylate. The platinum print had a great range of subtle tonal variations, usually silvery gray, and was valued for its permanence. Unfortunately, the price of platinum soared in the early 20th Century. By 1907, it was over 50 times more expensive than silver.


In the carbon printing process, the paper used is made with carbon pigment treated with light-sensitive chemicals suspended in a gelatin emulsion. This paper is exposed to light through the negative, which causes the gelatin to harden more in the darkened areas than in the lighter ones. The print is developed by washing it in warm water so that the softer gelatin comes away and the darker areas remain. It has a matte finish and can be produced in a variety of colors, ranging from sepia tones to cooler shades of blue or gray. Carbon prints are resistant to fading, so they were often used for commercial editions of photographs. The technique was difficult and time-consuming, but highly regarded among photographers.


Sir John Herschel also created the “Cyanotype” method of photography, which uses iron compounds to create a cyan-blue colored image.


Herschel was one of the great Victorian masters-of-all-trades. Not only was he a pioneer in the field of photography, he also excelled in botany, math, chemistry, and astronomy. His father was astronomer Sir, William Herschel, after whom the space observatory is named. And the son’s plate glass photography is ideal for photographing the skies. So ideal, in fact, that astronomers continued to use it well into the 1990s.


Your characters could easily have come in contact with a photographer who used the glass plate method—or they could have been a photographer themselves!


J.E.S. Hays



Sunday, September 4, 2022

Here’s the list of some NATIVE AMERICAN HERBAL REMEDIES (some surprisingly NOT from Americas)

                               by Jesse J Elliot aka Julie Hanks, Ph.D


       When I need specific material for an article or story, I always look to the books, lists, and sites of the professionals. Researching is exciting but time consuming. Also, if you’re unfamiliar with a topic such as specific guns or a more reliable horse, turn to someone who knows.   I’m no specialist when it comes to herbal remedies, but I use them often enough in my writing to compile a list to which I can refer regularly.

            One thing I always wondered about with these herbs, besides their use, was their origin. I was surprised to find many of the common herbs cited in novels and even Native American herbal remedies books are not native to the Americas. So while violence marked the meeting of the European settlers and original peoples of the Americas, the healers obviously met and exchanged herbs, medicines, and seeds.

         Here is a list of the most commonly used medicinal herbs.      

1.              Alfalfa – this amazing plant relieves digestion and is used to aid blood clotting. You can use this powerful herb to treat other health problems as well, such as: arthritis, bladder and kidney conditions and bone strength. You can also use it to boost your immune system. Alfalfa is NOT indigenous to North America.


2.              Aloe – you’ve probably heard about aloe. The aloe leaves contain high amounts of aloe gel that can be used to treat burns, insect bites and wounds. Aloe is NOT indigenous to North America.

3.     Arnica - Arnica is used topically for a wide range of conditions, including bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wound healing, superficial phlebitis, joint pain, inflammation from insect bites, and swelling from broken bones. Found in the Mountains of North America.


4.              Aspen – the inner bark or xylem is used in a tea to treat fever, coughs and pain. The bark contains salicin, which also is found in willow trees and is the foundation ingredient for aspirin.


5.              Bee pollen – you can mix it with food and use it as energy booster. Bee pollen also aids digestion and boosts the immune system. Note: you should be very careful, because if you’re allergic to bee stings you will most likely be allergic to bee pollen. Bees are NOT indigenous to North America.


6.              Beeswax – you can use it to soothe burns and insect bites, including bee stings. Note: it can only be used externally. Bees are NOT indigenous to North America.


7.              Blackberry – you can use the root, bark and leaves. You need to crush them and make a tea. You can use this powerful tea to treat diarrhea, reduce inflammation and stimulate the metabolism. As a gargle it treats sore throats, mouth ulcers and inflammation of the gums.


8.              Black Raspberry – you can use the roots of this plant. Just crush the roots and make a tea or you can just boil them and chew to relieve coughs, diarrhea and general intestinal distress.


9.              California Buckwheat & Buckwheat– buckwheat seeds are used in soups and as porridge. People use these seeds to lower the high blood pressure. These seeds are also very helpful and useful with blood clotting and relieve diarrhea. Though California buckwheat is indigenous to western US, buckwheat is not—it apparently originated in Finland!


10.          Cayenne – you should know that the pods are used as a pain reliever when taken with food or drunk in a tea. You can also use them to treat arthritis and digestive distress. Or, you can apply it to wounds as a powder to increase blood flow and act as an antiseptic and anesthetic to numb the pain. Though chilis were popular in the South and Central America, Cayenne is specifically from Cayenne, French Guiana.


11.          Chamomile – you can use both chamomile leaves and flowers and make a tea, and use this tea to treat intestinal problems and nausea. Though it grows freely throughout North America, it is native to western Europe, India, and western Asia.


12.           Chokecherry – the Native American tribes considered this herbal remedy as an all-purpose medicinal treatment, the berries were pitted, dried and crushed into a tea or a poultice to treat many different health problems, such as: coughs, colds, flu, nausea, inflammation and diarrhea. You can also use it to treat burns and wounds. Note: but, you should be very careful, because the pit of the chokecherry – much like apple seeds – are poisonous in high concentrations. So, make sure to pit the cherries if you’re considering this for any use.


13.          Echinacea – this herb is also known by the name purple coneflower, and it’s a classic Native American medicine that is used to strengthen the immune system, fight infections and fever. Echinacea has powerful antiseptic properties and it’s often used for many minor ailments, such as: for colds, coughs and flu. Native to North America, though the prevalent species indigenous to the prairies and plains is endangered.


14.          Eucalyptus – the eucalyptus oil from the leaves and roots is a common treatment when infused in a tea to treat coughs, sore-throat, flu and fever. The eucalyptus oil is a common ingredient in cough drops. Eucalyptus globulus, blue gum eucalyptus, is a tree that is not native to California. It is an invasive plant that was introduced from Australia and naturalized in the wild.


15.          Fennel – this amazing plant, which has a licorice flavor, is often used in a tea or chewed to relieve coughs, sore-throat, aid digestion, offer relief to diarrhea and was a general treatment for colds. You can also use fennel as a poultice for eye relief and headaches. Fennel is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated for centuries for culinary and medicinal properties. In California, it presumably escaped cultivation in the mid-1800s. Fennel grows wild in the slough near my house.


16.       Feverfew – people still use this herbal remedy as a natural relief for fever and headaches – including severe headaches like migraines. You can also use it to treat digestive problems, asthma and muscle and joint pains. The plant is native to North America.


17.      Feverwort (or boneset) – you can use this herbal remedy for many ailments, such as: soothe general pain, itching and joint stiffness. It can be ingested as a tea or chewed, or crushed to a paste as a salve or poultice. It is native to North America.  Doctors once believed if wrapped around a broken bone, that it would help the boneset—it didn’t.


18.      Ginger root – is one of the healthiest roots on the plant and a super plant in Native American medicine. There are many different ways to incorporate ginger into your healthy diet: crushed and consumed with food, as a tea or a salve or poultice. Ginger root will improve your digestive health, and it also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, aids circulation and can relieve colds, coughs and flu, in addition to bronchitis and joint pain. It is NOT RELATED to true ginger.


19.      Ginseng – this amazing herb has a long history that goes back across cultures for millennia. Ginseng roots were used by Native Americans as a food additive, a tea and a poultice to treat fatigue, boost energy levels, boost the immune system and help with overall liver and lung function. Note: the ginseng leaves and stems also were used, but the root has the most concentration of active ingredients. Ginseng is native to North America, and it is shipped everywhere, especially to the Asian countries.


19.      Goldenrod – people nowadays think that this herbal remedy is just a source of allergies and sneezing, but it was actually considered another all-in-one medicine by Native Americans. As a tea, an addition to food and a topical salve, it is used to treat conditions from bronchitis and chest congestion to colds, flu, inflammation, sore throats and as an antiseptic for cuts and abrasions.


20.      Honeysuckle – you can use all parts: berries, stems, flowers and leaves – and you can use them to topically treat bee stings and skin infections. As a tea, it is used to treat colds, headaches and sore throat. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. This plant is native to North America and Eurasia.  There are over a hundred types of honeysuckle.


21.      Hops – you can make a hops tea and use it to treat digestive problems. Or, you can mix it with other herbs or plants, such as aloe, to soothe muscles.  Hops is  also used to soothe toothaches and sore throat and as a sedative. Native to new and old  world.


22.      Licorice – you can use the licorice roots and leaves to soothe chronic coughs, colds, sore throats. Note: the root also can be chewed to relieve toothaches.


23.      Mullein – the Native Americans used this herb to make a tea or they add it to a salad or other food, and they used it to treat inflammation, coughs and congestion and general lung afflictions. It is quite common and you probably have it growing in your backyard or somewhere close.


24.      Passion flower – you can use the passion flower leaves and roots to make a tea to treat anxiety and muscle pain. A poultice for injuries to the skin such as burns, insect bites and boils also can be made from passion flower.


25.       Red clover – this amazing plant grows everywhere and the flowers, leaves and roots are usually infused in a tea or are used to top food. This amazing herb is often used to manage inflammation, improve circulation and treat respiratory conditions. This is NOT indigenous to North America.


26.      Rose hip – have you ever heard of the rose hip? Well, this is the red to orange berry that is the fruit of wild roses and it’s already known to be a massive source of vitamin C and when eaten whole, crushed into a tea or added to food it is used to treat colds and coughs, intestinal distress, as an antiseptic and to treat inflammation.


27.      Rosemary – is a member of the pine family and used in food and as a tea to treat muscle pain, improve circulation and as a general cleanser for the metabolism.


28.      Sage – is the most powerful and most effective natural insect repellent and it can be used for the standard list of digestive disorders, colds and sore throat.


18.          Spearmint – this amazing herbal remedy was used by Native American tribes for treatment of coughs, colds, respiratory distress, diarrhea, and a stimulant for blood circulation. It is native to North America and parts of Eurasia.


19.          Valerian – valerian root was used as an infusion in a tea that relieves muscle aches, pain and is said to have a calming effect. Good for sleeping and is relatively safe. Found in North America and parts of Eurasia.


20.          White Pine – You should know that the ubiquitous and the needles and the inner bark can be infused in a tea. Used as a standard treatment for respiratory distress and chest congestion.




1.     Europe’s Medicinal and aromatic: Their use, trade, and Conservation by Dagmar Lange

2.     23 Medicinal Plants the Native Americans Used on a Daily Basis

3    .Gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org National Botany Foundation

4.   Google

5.   healthylifetricks.com



Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Dr. Henry H. Hewett - I'm Out to Find You


Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo property of the Author

Have you ever run across something while researching that just won't let go? It happened when I started on the journey of early Colorado women doctors after reading an obituary in a newspaper. It happened again as I finished the short book about the early women doctors buried in Evergreen Cemetery here in town. 

What you may ask happened this time? Well, I came across the name of an early doctor, not a woman, by the way, that seems to want to keep his identity hidden. His story is intriguing and I just may have to write a fiction piece if I can't find much more.

Here's what I've found to date:

Name: Henry H. Hewett

Birth: 1846 - (+or- a year or two) in New York

He may have enlisted in the Union Army at age 18 in September1864 with the 148th New York Infantry, Company I. He was mustered out in June of 1865 in Richmond, VA.


He lived in Colorado in 1860 during the early gold rush in this state, left and studied medicine in Ohio, returning in 1869


He was a combination miner, Doctor., Deputy US Marshal, and Deputy Provost Marshal here in the Colorado territory. From 1863 to 1866 he lived in California Gulch and from there moved to Georgetown where he had some success as a miner. In 1878 he was in Leadville, and then in the early 1880s, he moved to Aspen.

The only information I have about his death was that he was injured in a stagecoach accident between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. He died from his injuries in Denver.

The last piece of information I've located about Dr. Hewitt is that he was the first County Physician appointed for Lake County Colorado.  

Much like the joy and frustration I've encountered in telling the stories of the early women physicians, I feel this will be another such journey. Dr. Henry H. Hewett, I'm on the hunt and I will find you. 

Doris McCraw


Wednesday, August 17, 2022


Hi everyone! While I was deciding what to blog about this time, I came upon an OLD blog of mine from October 1 of 2012! Oh wow--nearly TEN YEARS AGO. But hey, I'm still just as proud of this book and my participation in this series as I was then, and if you have not had a chance to read it, and the following books, PLEASE REMEDY THAT QUICKLY! This series was the brainchild of Troy Smith, and he did a fantastic job of putting it all together and "herding the cats" to make it all happen. I sure do miss writing for this series and am so glad to have been a part of it. SO...without further ado, I'm posting this re-run of that blog so many years ago and fondly remembering all the wonderful stories that followed this first one!
Today, I’m proud to introduce five wonderful western writers who I was privileged to

work with on a “new concept” western, the kick-off novel of the Western Fictioneers’ Wolf Creek series.

Western Fictioneers is producing a new series of western novels, under the umbrella title Wolf Creek. The series gets its name from its setting, the fictional 1870s town of Wolf Creek, Kansas. The first installment, Bloody Trail, was released on September 1, with a new volume to follow every three or four months. Under the house pen name Ford Fargo, the six authors who collaborated on the first book of the series, Bloody Trail, are Clay More, James Griffin, L.J. Martin, Troy Smith, James Reasoner, and Cheryl Pierson.

Bill Torrance, Spike Sweeney, Derrick McCain, Charley Blackfeather, G.W. Satterlee, and Logan Munro are common citizens, until the day their small town of Wolf Creek, Kansas, comes under a methodically cruel siege. Led by one of the most brutal men of the post Civil War years, Jim Danby, the outlaw gang that invades Wolf Creek figures they got away clean with murder and bank robbery. But the dwellers of Wolf Creek have secrets of their own, and the posse that goes after Danby and his men are anything but the ordinary people they seemed to be before the attack. They'll go to any lengths to keep their town safe, no matter how long they have to follow the BLOODY TRAIL.

I asked three questions of each of the authors about their character, collaboration, and what’s to come in future editions of the Wolf Creek series. For the sake of space, I’ll post the questions once here at the beginning and number the answers to correlate.


1. Wolf Creek is a town filled with secrets, and people "with a past." Tell us a little about your character without giving away all his secrets. What kind of man is he and how does he change in this story?

2. The idea of a collaboration with other authors is sometimes daunting. What did you enjoy most about working with your co-authors under the pen name "FORD FARGO"?

3. Are there any plans for your character to reappear in a future edition of the Wolf Creek stories? If so, what edition will it be?

Let’s start with Clay More’s answers, since his character kicks the story off.

CLAY MORE—Dr. Logan Munro

1. Logan Munro is a Scottish doctor, as am I. Shortly after graduating from

Edinburgh University he served with the British Army Hospital in Scutari in Constantinople during the Crimean War. In 1856, at the end of the war he had the opportunity to go to India. While there he married Helen, a young governess. A year later The Indian Mutiny took place and he was involved in the siege. Sadly, Helen died from malaria. Disillusioned with life, and bereft at losing Helen, Logan sailed for America. Along came the Civil War, during which he served as a surgeon in the Union Army. When the guns ceased and the smoke cleared he settled down in Wolf Creek. He has seen a lot of action in the three wars he served in and he has honed his surgical skills on the battlefields. He is tired of all the killing and he just wants to settle down as a family doctor in a sleepy town.

I don’t think that Logan has really changed in the course of the story. Like all of the decent citizens of Wolf Creek he is sickened by the attack by the Danby gang. When a posse is formed he insists on going, since he feels that he may be needed. His training and his experience mean that he keeps a cool head when he is under pressure.

2. This was indeed a very daunting prospect, since I was working with top names in the western genre, five writers whose prose and imagination I greatly admired. When Troy gave me the task of opening the story I was naturally anxious in case I failed to engage the reader in those first two chapters, which would result in the whole project collapsing. Troy had worked out an outline for us all to work to and everyone had the opportunity to chip in until we had the plot mapped out. Then each writer told the story through the viewpoint of their character. I think Troy was inspired to come up with the whole concept. We wrote the book sequentially, so I had to write mine quickly and hand it on to Jim Griffin, who then wrote his story and handed it on to Troy. Then Larry took up the reins and handed it on to James. And of course, Cheryl had to finish it off, which she did beautifully.

It was a lot of fun, but each writer had his or her own pressure to keep the story moving. I really enjoyed working with all of the writers and seeing just how the story panned out. I have to say that Troy, who ramrodded the whole thing, did a fantastic job in taking the whole manuscript and blending it seamlessly together. I think the result is a book that has turned out to be greater than the sum of its parts.

3. Yes, I am happy to say that Logan returns in Book 4 - The Taylor County War. In fact, I am working on it right now.

LARRY MARTIN—Angus “Spike” Sweeney

Angus “Spike” Sweeney is the town blacksmith.

He wears a butternut wool Confederate Kepi with a Davis Guard Medal pinned above the eye shade and invites comments, which might just be met with an iron bender’s grip on the throat and a pounding left to the proboscis. Considered a hero of the Davis Guards and the defense of Sabine Pass. He is usually unarmed, but is deadly within twenty feet with his hammer, and can split hairs at fifteen with his hatchet or Arkansas toothpick. A decent and deliberate shot with both a sidearm and long gun.

Spike was born in New Orleans and was a sailor (both in trading vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Mississippi) and on-board smithy, where he acquired some skill as a gunsmith as well. He keeps a garden in the rear of the shop with both vegetables and flowers, and is teased about the flowers. He is bashful around women and wouldn’t swear in front of one if a beer wagon ran over his moccasin clad foot, but is on the prod for a woman who can put up with his (in his eyes) questionable looks, and long hours in front of a hot forge.

Spike’s silent partner at the forge is Emory Charleston, an ex-slave -the two men make an incongruous, but mutually loyal, pair. Em’s biggest complaint about Spike is the Confederate cap he insists on wearing.

JIM GRIFFIN—Bill Torrance

1. My character is Bill Torrance, the owner of the Wolf Creek Livery stable. He’s a

man who seems to care only for horses, and little else. He’s never even been known to carry a gun. In modern-day terms, he’d be considered a “wimp”. However, Bill Torrance is not his real name, and his background is far from the picture he presents to the citizens of Wolf Creek. This becomes clear when the town is attacked by the Danby gang.

2. First, it was an honor to be asked to participate in this project, with authors far more well-known than I, all of whom I admire. What I found most amazing and enjoyable was the complete cooperation among all the authors, and the complete lack of egos. Everyone was willing to bend to let the storyline mesh together cleanly. All of the authors were allowed to use the other authors’ characters in their chapters, as long as they didn’t change the character “owner’s” concept of his or her character. Again, everyone was fine with that. By everyone working together and setting aside our natural instincts to not want anyone else using “our” characters, we were able to avoid transition and storyline problems.

3. Yes, Bill Torrance, now using his real name, will be appearing in a future Wolf Creek book. I believe Volume 6. In that book, we’ll learn more about him, plus he’ll be interacting with Edith Pettigrew, widow of one of the founders of Wolf Creek. Bill had a confrontation with her in Bloody Trail, so when they meet again the sparks will once more be flying.

TROY SMITH—Charley Blackfeather

1. Charley Blackfeather’s father was an escaped slave, and his mother was Seminole –he

was raised as a member of that tribe, and as a very young man fought against the U.S. military in the Seminole Wars. Later, during the Civil War, he served in the same blue uniform he had once fought against… now (1871) he serves as a cavalry scout, making use of his vast knowledge of Kansas and Indian Territory.

Charley is an adept tracker and hunter. He bears a lot of pain from the losses he has suffered in the various wars, but carries it stoically. He can be pretty intimidating if you don’t know him well –but if he is comfortable with you he can display a wry sense of humor. In the course of our first episode, Charley is visited by ghosts from his past that re-awaken his grief and rage. He also begins to develop new friendships, with people he would not have expected he would ever trust.

2. As editor of the series, I admit I did have some trepidation about trying to coordinate this kind of complex project, and about dealing with so many different authors. I feared it would end up being an exercise in herding cats, and that I would have a lot of stubborn, narcissistic, recalcitrant people to deal with (in other words, writers.) But I was pleasantly surprised. This book, and the ones that are set to come after, were joys to work on. Everyone cooperated wonderfully- it really did feel like a team from the outset. And the rich, vibrant characters everyone created came alive immediately.

3. Well, that’s kind of a trick question in my case. As editor, I will be writing a section in every book, to help pull the various other parts together. I have two characters –one for stories that take place mostly in town (Marshal Sam Gardner) and one for stories that take place largely outside of town (Charley Blackfeather.)

JAMES REASONER—Sheriff G.W. Satterlee

1. My character, Sheriff G.W. Satterlee, is a former buffalo hunter and army scout who

drifted into packing a badge, and in the process he discovered that he's an instinctive politician who enjoys the power of his position. He's not the morally upright lawman hero so often found in Western fiction, but neither is he the corrupt official out to line his own pockets. Rather, he's somewhere in between . . . which means that he's capable of either inspiring us or disappointing us, depending on the situation in which he finds himself and his reaction to it. In BLOODY TRAIL, he discovers that maybe he has a little more of a conscience than he thought he did. As with most things about G.W. Satterlee, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, we just don't know yet . . . and probably neither does he.

2. I really got a kick out of the passion and enthusiasm the other authors brought to the project. Everyone tried to make this the very best novel it could be.

3. Since G.W. Satterlee is the county sheriff, headquartered in Wolf Creek, he's bound to make plenty of return appearances, ranging from brief cameos to leading roles in some books. I believe he's supposed to be featured again in the fourth book in the series.

My blog can be found at http://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com


1. I have two characters in this story, Derrick McCain, who has come back to Wolf

Creek after many years of "drifting" after the war. He's uneasy with himself and his past--he did some things that he regrets both during and after the war. But he has a personal stake in joining the posse to go after the gang that attacked Wolf Creek...he's seeking revenge of his own. My other character is Carson Ridge, a member of the Cherokee Lighthorse law enforcement. He makes a brief appearance but will be back in future editions of Wolf Creek.

2. I truly loved working on this project. Getting to read the other parts first really helped me in my decision as to how to end it properly, since I wrote the last two chapters. It was important to "get it right" because the ending has to leave the reader wanting more. But every chapter built on the one that came before it, and Clay, Jim, Troy, Larry and James really made my job a lot easier than it might have been otherwise. This was Troy's idea, and he has been organized and kept the ball rolling all along. So for me, the entire experience was really a good one--and nothing like I'd ever done before.

3. Derrick McCain will appear in book 5, Showdown at Demon's Drop. I also have a couple of short stories planned for his character in future anthologies. Carson Ridge may also appear in book 5--I'm not certain yet, but I know he will turn up again in the future somewhere!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

On This Day in the Old West: August 12

 On August 12, 1969, Emperor Joshua A. Norton issued a new proclamation. What? You weren’t aware that the United States had an emperor? Well, we did, from 1859 to 1880.


Joshua Norton was born in England, but not much is known of his life until he arrived in San Francisco in late 1849. We do know he spent much of his early life in South Africa, but there’s no clue as to what he did for a living or how he got to San Francisco from Boston, Massachusetts, where he landed in March 1846.


Norton operated in San Francisco as a successful commodities trader and real estate speculator. He was actually one of the city’s richest citizens by late 1852. In December 1852, Norton saw a business opportunity. China, faced with a severe famine, banned the export of rice, a move which caused the price of the grain to rise in San Francisco from four to thirty-six cents per pound. Norton bought out a shipment of rice from a Peruvian ship carrying 200,000 pounds. He paid twelve cents a pound, thinking to make a profit when he sold the rice at thirty-six cents. However, shortly after he signed the contract, other Peruvian ships arrived with more rice, causing the price to plummet to three cents a pound. 


After spending nearly two years in a heated court battle with the Peruvians, Norton lost his bid to have the rice contract voided. He lost his fortune and the Lucas Turner & Company Bank foreclosed on his holdings in North Beach to pay his debts. Norton declared insolvency in August 1856.


There followed a three-year period during which Joshua Norton practically disappeared from the public eye. It is known that he took lodgings in a working-class boarding house and in September 1857, he served on the jury during the trial of a man accused of stealing a bar of gold from Wells Fargo. In August 1858, Norton ran an ad announcing his candidacy for US Congress. 


By 1859, Norton had become completely disillusioned with what he considered “the inadequacies of the legal and political structure of the United States.” In July, he published his first “Manifesto” in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, addressed to the “Citizens of the Union” and outlining what he saw as the national crisis. Norton suggested the imperative for action to address this crisis but did not lay out any concrete plans for such action.


Two months later, on September 17, Joshua Norton hand delivered a letter to the offices of the Bulletin:


At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.


He signed this letter Norton I, Emperor of the United States.


The newspaper, thinking this a grand joke, printed the letter in their evening edition, and the 25 year “reign” of Emperor Norton officially began.


The Emperor issued many decrees on matters of state, such as the one abolishing the US Congress in 1859, and the subsequent decree ordering the US Army to depose the elected officials in 1860. Neither the Army nor Congress paid any attention to these official notices.


On August 12, 1869, a decree was issued abolishing the Democratic and Republican Parties. Norton stated he was “desirous of allaying the dissentions of party strife now existing within our realm.” Sounds like a reasonable plan--maybe we need a new Emperor nowadays.

Emperor Norton spent most of his days inspecting the streets, taking note of the condition of the sidewalks and cable cars, the state of repair of public property, and the appearance of the local police officers. He spent time in parks and libraries and paid visits to newspaper offices and old friends in the city, in Oakland, and in Berkeley. In the evenings, Norton was often seen at political gatherings or at theatrical or musical performances, where he was given free admission.


He wore an elaborate blue uniform with gold-plated epaulettes, sometimes given to him secondhand by officers at the Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco. Norton embellished this with several accoutrements, such as a beaver hat sporting an ostrich or peacock feather and his rosette. He also carried a walking stick and an umbrella. 


The 1870 US Census lists Joshua Norton as a 50-year-old living at 624 Commercial Street; occupation: Emperor. It also noted that he was insane.


Emperor Norton reigned until January 8, 1880, when he collapsed on the corner of California Street and Dupont Street (now Grant Avenue), in front of Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral. The police immediately sent for a carriage to take him to the nearest hospital, but Norton died before it arrived. The San Francisco Morning Call reported the following day, “On the reeking pavement, in the darkness of a moonless night, under the dripping rain … Norton I, by the grace of God, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life.” Two days later, the San Francisco Chronicle posted an article on Norton’s funeral with the headline “Le Roi Est Mort.”


Your characters would likely have been aware of the existence of this beloved eccentric, as his antics and proclamations were widely reported in newspapers around the West. They might well have run into the Emperor if they traveled to San Francisco during the years of his reign. The Emperor always makes a wonderfully humorous addition to a historical story.


J.E.S. Hays