Thursday, December 31, 2015

#NewRelease MERCY: BRIDE OF IDAHO by @JacquieRogers #western #mailorderbride

Website | Pickle Barrel Gazette | Amazon

by Jacquie Rogers
American Mail-Order Brides series #43

This series is unprecedented! 50 States, 50 Brides--yep, 50 Books written by 45 Authors, and released one book each day starting November 19th. Well, the wait is over because Mercy is finally here. All the books, including this one are on the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program so if you're subscribed, you can read the entire series for FREE. (The first four Hearts of Owyhee books are also available in KU.)

Also free to everyone is the Prequel by Kirsten Osbourne, so be sure to pick that up.

I was in Deadwood, SD, when Caroline Clemmons called me and told me I was going to write this book. Yes, that's what friends are for. Ha! I thought it was a crazy idea but if Caroline thought it was a good deal, I was in. The concept came from the awesome (and zany) Kirsten Osbourne, and I thought this series was wild enough that it just might work.

It has!!!  So far, American Mail-Order Brides has been a fabulous success and I hope Mercy: Bride of Idaho carries banner, too. Mercy Eaton is the younger sister of Caroline's heroine in Patience: Bride of Washington (American Mail-Order Brides #42), so if you haven't read that book, you'll definitely want to get it.
Mercy: Bride of Idaho 
One woman bent on saving her family.
One rancher determined to save his own heart.
Is her love enough to save them all?

So what was happening in 1890?  I really didn't know since all my books have been earlier than that so I'd never researched that decade.  Here are a few tidbits that I included in this book--some from that time and some from earlier.

Mercy is a seamstress but it seemed only likely that she'd be making her own hats.  

I knew that Elias Howe had invented the modern sewing machine but I didn't know that Isaac Singer had been court-ordered to pay royalties to him.

Mercy is a city girl from Lawrence, Massachusetts.  Coming to Owyhee County would have been quite a culture shock, both in climate and population.

Mercy: Bride of Idaho is connected to the Hearts of Owyhee series even though it takes place much later, because Jake O'Keefe, the heroine in Much Ado About Mavericks (Hearts of Owyhee #4) is the mentor to the hero.  And his ears are still ringing.

I hope you had a wonderful 2015 and a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016!

Sunday, December 27, 2015


My friend Sunny often pops in unexpectedly. She knows where I hide the key and she’s an I-know-you’re-in-the-bathroom-but-I’m-coming-in kind of friend.
    “Why are you taking a bubble bath at one in the afternoon…in your Tony Llamas?” she says. “And you wanna explain the bottle of tequila on the kitchen island? Wait…are you bawling?”
    I try to answer but end up blubbering unintelligibly. I’m pretty sure I just blew a snot bubble.
    “What’s that you say? You have an objection to ladders? What are you talking about?”
    More blubbering. A little more intelligibly.
    “Rejection letter? Oh…you got a rejection letter! You mean, for that story you just sent to those people for the book thing?”
    I try not to wail. But I can’t help it.
    “I’ll take that as a ‘yes,’” says Sunny. “Well, little Vonnie gets her first rejection letter! Come on, sister. You’ve been writing for a couple of years now and this is the first time you’ve been turned down, right?”
    “Yes.” I hold out my empty coffee mug.
    “Ah, I don’t think you need any more of that.” Sunny crosses her arms. “Seriously…you’re beating yourself up over one rejection? Someone needs to count her blessings. You’ve had a really good run so far. Lots of writers were turned down dozens…shoot, hundreds of times before they got published. So they hated the story?”

“They didn’t say they hated it. They said ‘we liked your story but…’ I can’t remember the whole thing. Maybe that it needed a stronger ending.”
    “And did it?”
    “I don’t know, Sunny. Maybe. Maybe it needed a stronger ending! I said it. Are you happy? I’m incompetent. I shouldn’t be writing.”
    “Hey, hey. Lighten up. Writing is one of those subjective things. Maybe the next guy will like the story. Or maybe you can tighten up the ending. You know, revise and resubmit.”
    It occurs to me that Sunny’s mother must have consulted a psychic when picking out a name for her future sunbeam of a daughter. It also occurs to me that optimists can be very annoying.
    “Why did I have to pick such a subjective career?” I moan. “Why not a ‘do this and that happens’ kind of career? Like those chickens in the cages at the smart animal place. I just want to go and peck on a piano key and get my piece of corn, you know? None of this we-liked-your-style-but-no-corn-for-you business.”
    Sunny rolls her eyes. “A chicken in a cage? Sounds kind of like a cubicle. You remember the cubicle, don’t you?”
    I do remember the cubicle. And the stacks of papers with the endless columns of numbers. And the ticking clock. And the bad coffee. In desperation, I made an ornate sign for my tiny space, proclaiming it La Petite Boîte à Chaussures, “the little shoe box.” I initiated an inter-cubicle rubber band fight at 2:00 PM sharp every day. A creative soul crying for escape.
    “Somebody on Craigslist is looking for a seasonal female Santa,” I say, piling bubbles into a peaked hat shape on top of my head.
    “I don’t think you’d better answer that ad.” Sunny places a folded towel on the edge of the tub.
    “Or I could go back to college…”
    Sunny is getting impatient. “I went to college with you, Vonn. Every other paper you turned in came back with the same note, written in red at the top. ‘Have you thought of becoming a writer?’ Even your algebra papers. In fact, especially your algebra papers. Face it. It’s the thing you love. Go do it. Well, not right this second. Allow me time to evacuate. I’ll be in the kitchen, okay? I hope you left a little tequila for your therapist.”
    Ten minutes later–clothed and mostly in my right mind–I join Sunny. Miraculously, the Tony Llamas are dry. Well, except for a few bubbles clinging to the bootstraps. Sunny is waving her smart phone at me. She’s obviously been Googling.
    “Here’s the scoop,” she says. “Louis L’Amour got 200 rejections before anyone would sign him. Stephen King practically wallpapered his office with rejection letters before he sold his first book.  Elmer Kelton got published on his thirtieth try! You’re being a diva, Vonn. Or maybe just a wimp.”
"Publish? That? You're kiddin' me, right?"

    “A wimpy diva. Well, that sets me quite apart from the pack, doesn’t it? Thanks, Sunny. I can always count on you for moral support.”
    We stay huffy for almost a minute, which is about average for us. Finally, I give her an affectionate kick in the shin.
    “I know what’s wrong with my writing career,” I say at last.
    “What’s that?”
    “It needs a stronger ending.”
    Sunny favors me with a double-dimpled grin. “Well then, you’d better get to work, sister,” she says. We hug goodbye and Sunny helps herself to a Diet Coke on her way out.
    I sink into my favorite chair and open my laptop. Fingers find the home keys. I close my eyes and wait…for the sparks to fire from the mysterious flint and steel of creativity. The refrigerator hums. My faithful pup turns around three times and lies down on my foot, settling in for the vigil.
    Time suspends. With eyes wide open, I become unaware of my physical surroundings. I follow a memory, or maybe a dream or a vision, into another realm.
    The mournful cry of a steam whistle. The squeak of a saddle.The sputtering flames of a campfire on a clear, cold night and the silhouettes of two trail-weary men. One of them is named for a Greek god. The other will not live to see Cheyenne.

      The next thing I know, the sun is slanting between the kitchen curtains and I can hear the alarm clock chirping from the back bedroom. My neck is stiff and I need coffee…but I’m five thousand words in, and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.


Keep up with Vonn...





Saturday, December 26, 2015

Western Fictioneers Presents LEGENDS OF THE GUN: Six Classic Western Novels 99 Cent Boxed Set

The good old shoot-'em-up westerns are still around, and this collection has six by the masters of the genre.

West of the Big River: The Avenging Angel by Michael Newton – Orrin Porter Rockwell is more than just a deputy United States marshal and a deadly gunfighter. He's a member of the Mormon Danites, the group of enforcers known as the Avenging Angels, and he's the personal troubleshooter for Governor Brigham Young. And when Young sends Rockwell to the rough-and-tumble mining town of Tartarus, there'll be plenty of trouble for him to shoot. Award-winning author Michael Newton spins an action-packed, historically accurate yarn in THE AVENGING ANGEL.

The classic, Spur Award-winning novel by Frank Roderus, POTTER'S FIELDS is the story of Joe Potter, a man haunted by the past who deals with the harsh realities of the frontier by becoming harsh and violent himself. A former lawman no longer able to find work carrying a badge because of his corruption and brutality, Potter becomes a cowboy and spends the winter in an isolated line shack, where the arrival of a stranger forces him to confront himself and his past. Rich with poignant emotion and vividly detailed ranch life, POTTER'S FIELDS is a novel that will stay with the reader long after the story is over.

Jake Scudder is just a drifting, peace-loving cowboy. So why does he find himself in jail, convicted of the murder of an old-timer he had befriended and sentenced to hang for that crime he didn't commit? Jake gets a chance to clear his name when the train taking him to the gallows crashes, but was that wreck an accident? Who's the real ringleader of the gang of vicious outlaws known as the Marauders? Jake Scudder has to dodge not only the law but also a cunning murderer as he attempts to save his own life and that of a beautiful young woman. A ROPE FOR SCUDDER is another classic, action-packed Western from bestselling author Clay More.

A fortune in gold dust, two beautiful women, a pair of deadly bushwhackers gunning for him, a dangerous blizzard, an avalanche, and an unknown plotter masterminding murder and robbery . . . These are just some of the things Clay Brand has to deal with when he signs on to guard gold shipments coming down from the mining country in California's San Bernardino Mountains. But before Clay can get to the bottom of the violence plaguing the mountains, he'll have to shoot straight and fast and escape the unexpected menace of a lynch mob! GUN FOR HIRE is the first Western ever written by acclaimed author Jory Sherman. Includes a new introduction by the author written especially for this volume in the Western Fictioneers Library.

In THE HAM REPORTER by Robert J. Randisi, Bat Masterson is no longer a sheriff in the Old West. He’s moved East to New York City where he gets a job as a sports writer for The Morning Telegraph. But when his friend and fellow-newsman, Inkspot Jones, disappears, Masterson’s wife Emma asks if he could look into it as a favor to the man’s wife. It doesn’t look hopeful—Inkspot had something on somebody, and that somebody may have decided to play rough. Pretty soon they’re up to their eyeballs in crooked politicians, hired thugs and a woman of mystery. And before it’s done, Bat may have to strap on his Colt again for some old fashioned Western justice.

Lawyer Billy Cambridge, a retired Texas Ranger, and his best friend, vaquero and ranch foreman Nacho Graves, set out by stagecoach from Pecos, Texas, to deliver $20,000 in cash to a client in Fort Smith, Arkansas. When the stagecoach is held up and Cambridge and Nacho lose the twenty grand, they set out on a dangerous quest to recover the money and bring the outlaws to justice…a quest that leads them to beautiful women, cold-blooded killers, the last Comanchero, and more surprises than they're ready to face. RED RIVER RUSE is a fast-moving Western novel packed with action, emotion, and danger, from award-winning, bestselling authors James Reasoner and L.J. Washburn.

Friday, December 25, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS (or) Maybe A Little Too Merry? - Meg Mims

My friend Tarrin Lupo does these interesting videos about all kinds of neat stuff. I laughed when I saw one of his latest, about bizarre Christmas ornaments. And since my WF day falls right smack dab on the actual DAY, I thought - who's gonna take time to read my post? Why not share a fun and fast video...

So here you go, and MERRY CHRISTMAS! or Happy Holidays. or get your JINGLE on... whatever best suits you. Since I kind of felt like a cheat this month, I'll share a cookie recipe I love. Toss these babies in the oven and save 'em for your New Year's Eve party. Mmm! Very easy to make.


Tart Crust -- CREAM 1 cup butter with 6 oz. cream cheese, then add 2 cups flour. Make 48 small balls and then (I use my fingers) press into tiny tart pans. Mine are like mini-cupcake tins.

Filling -- place 4 eggs unbeaten in bow, add 3 cups brown sugar, 4 Tbsp. melted butter, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup chopped pecans. MIX WELL. Fill tart shells and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Eat a bunch of cookies this holiday season. Take a Christmas nap by the glowing tree. Indulge in some holiday nog, or snog with a loved one... ENJOY! and happy writing in 2016!

Mystery author Meg Mims earned a Spur Award from WWA and also a Laramie award for her western historical mystery series, Double Crossing and Double or Nothing. Meg is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for a mystery series featuring Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins for Minotaur books. Book 2 just came out, MOVE YOUR BLOOMING CORPSE. Book 1, WOULDN'T IT BE DEADLY, was nominated for a 2015 Agatha Award. Meg lives in Southeastern Michigan. Meg has currently has a Malti-Poo who causes plenty of holiday trouble. Maybe 2016 will feature Dusty on the cover... 

Thursday, December 24, 2015


The Doctor's Bag


Keith Souter aka Clay More

I'm going to take a break from talking about things that put people off their food this month - because it is Christmas!

Christmas Day is just around the corner and with it comes the meal that many people consider to be the best of the year. The conviviality, the party atmosphere, the wine and crackers all contribute to the enjoyment, but the traditional centrepiece of it all, the good old turkey certainly seems to have a part in making you feel good.  It seems that it does this because it is rich in the amino acid, tryptophan.

In our house this year we are actually going to have goose. When I was told this I wondered whether it would be as good as turkey in keeping people’s spirits up, so I ran a check. And the good news is that all of the usual fowls are rich in tryptophan, with goose at the top of the league table. Next comes duck, and then turkey and chicken with round about the same amounts, pound for pound. Other good sources of tryptophan are milk, cheese, bread and bananas.

Tryptophan and serotonin
Tryptophan is an important amino acid in the diet, because it is used to build serotonin, which is one of the main neurotransmitters within the brain. Unfortunately, the absorption of tryptophan from the diet depends on several factors. For example, if there are lots of other amino acids available for the body to choose from, then there is a sort of competition to see which are taken in. Tryptophan is often not absorbed whereas other amino acids are.

This is quite significant, according to research published in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity. Dutch researchers have shown that people with a family history of depression are fifty per cent more likely to feel down if their tryptophan levels fall. Ten per cent of those without such a family history also get down when their levels fall.

Low levels of tryptophan are liable to occur in people taking high protein and low carbohydrate diets, which have become very popular lately. Low levels also occur in those not eating properly through illness, depression, or through various types of fad dieting. Body builders also need to be careful about how they feel, because they can get down in the dumps without realising why. And the same goes for people who are already down; they may create a vicious circle that feeds their depression.

You have to activate it - get the cranberry sauce ready
You may well ask, will eating lots of turkey and chicken really make you feel happy?
 No, I am afraid not. The point is that tyrptophan is not easily absorbed, especially if there are lots of other amino acids in the same meal. But if you do eat it then you are optimising your chances of raising the levels of tryptophan in your system and thereby ultimately raising your serotonin levels. That is what lifts the mood.

One important point about tryptophan, however, is the fact that to activate it you need to take carbohydrate and Vitamin B6 at the same time. And this is perhaps why turkey literally goes down so well at Christmas with cranberry sauce and red wine, which provide the carbohydrate you need and the Vitamin B6.

There is some debate in our house as to what sort of activator we are going to use. Certainly we shall be using a little wine, but it looks as if an accompaniment on the plate will either be cranberry or orange, or some combination with ginger.  We shall see!

Merry Christmas, Cowboy!
Matt and Miss Kitty toast each other - but not with wine!

Happy Christmas dinner to you all.

 If you have enjoyed, or found some of these medical blogs interesting or helpful, you may like to know that THE DOCTOR'S BAG - MEDICINE AND SURGERY OF YESTERYEAR has been published by Sundown Press, available on ebook or paperback.

He has several other offerings out this Christmas:

This medieval novella  of the Order of the Black Rose in ebook

Or a mystery story THE MISSING LYNX, set in the silent movie era in the anthology NINE DEADLY LIVES

A short story about Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty in this anthology

A short story about the identity of Jack the Ripper in this anthology

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Ever since I came upon some of the weirdest vintage Easter cards I’d ever seen and blogged about those (in two parts, no less!) I’ve just been fascinated by some of the ideas that artists of the past have had for greeting cards. What in the world crossed their minds? Who did they think would enjoy these cards, much less pick them out of all the choices available to buy and send?

Evidently, I’m not the only one who has wondered. Take a look at some of these—they are beyond “odd”.

Yes. Scallops lamenting the absence of their friends (natives), so the card says—obviously the British. “May we soon see them again.” Uh…why? So they can eat us? MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but…being wish “Compliments of the Season” by a boiling pan head imp that looks female on top and male on the bottom…well, that’s just plain weird. For some reason, this reminds me of the scene at the beginning of Bewitched when the pan boils over on the stove…

Downright creepy. An educated pigman. Or is it a boy? The hat looks like that of a young boy, but that face is anything but endearing. And why does he need the binoculars? “The better to spy on you with, my dear…” Oh, but he’s carrying a book, so at least he must be educated.

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a picture of a dead robin, does it? I mean, what could be more joyful? Nope…can’t think of much else that could come close.

Do y’all remember the picture on the Easter card of the rabbit carefully stepping out of his home to go hunting with the colored eggs all around him? That’s what this reminds me of. A sweet little dog with a rifle near at hand…just in case he needs it.

Well, what have we here? A frog that has been robbed and murdered by another one. But, let’s not forget to have a MERRY CHRISTMAS, shall we?

As long as we’re on the subject of frogs, how about this one? Beetle and frog having a Christmas waltz, while the dragonflies dance in the background and the giant mosquito plays the tambourine. Festive, right?

Merry Christmas! If you survive being mauled by the polar bear…

It’s hard to think what must have been going on inside the creative brains of these illustrators, isn’t it? Or…were they just toying with us? Maybe these were meant to be ridiculous and make us laugh. But wait…what’s that I hear? Crying children? Wings of a…LOOK OUT!

Above all, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, even if you’re fighting off polar bears, dancing with frogs, or running from wasps!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


It's the middle of December, and Christmas is only 10 days away--that means that in less than three weeks, we'll be saying goodbye to 2015 and hello to a brand new year.

And a few weeks later, we'll be welcoming a new President and Vice-President of the Western Fictioneers! Keith and I will be stepping down from our two-year term at that time, and two new "someones" will pick up the reins and yee-haw us into 2016.

I want to thank you all for your support over the past two years. We've gained some new members and achieved a solid blog presence (with 275 followers!) We've also added a new category to the Peacemaker Awards for authors of young adult western stories. And, in my opinion, most important of all--we have had our very first convention! A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MICKI MILOM FOR BEING A WONDER WOMAN CLONE! Thank you, Micki!

I also want to say THANK YOU to Courtney Joyner and to Bob Vardeman for taking their turns as Chairman of the Peacemaker Awards judging. This isn't easy, having to coordinate entries, judges, and get the timing down as it should be to make it all come out right by the deadlines. AND thank you to the judges who selflessly give of their time and efforts in making some very tough decisions.

I have thoroughly enjoyed these two years of my term as president, and have served on the board with some wonderful, supportive people--Keith Souter, Bob Randisi and Livia Reasoner.

Thanks to them and to all the rest of the Western Fictioneers. Together, we can make our organization strong, supporting one another in every way possible--and I thank all of you for doing that for me.

Here's hoping each and every one of you has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and that 2016 brings us all--personally and professionally--the best of everything we could ever hope for.

(All illustrations by Jack Sorenson)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Cattle baron Charles Goodnight stared at the old Studebaker army-surplus wagon he hauled to his ranch and tinkered with an idea he believed would improve the long and physically demanding days of long cattle drives. 

Cattlemen like Goodnight moved large herds across overland trails to meet the northern demands for beef. The cattle drives required lots of cowhands who faced living on the open range for months at a time—men who had big appetites. Typically, drovers kept food and supplies in their saddlebags. But Goodnight figured out a more practical and streamlined approach.

Although mobile kitchens were already in widespread use, Goodnight decided he could improve the concept by developing what became known as the Chuck Wagon, which brought about a viable solution to feeding and caring for the men who spent long days and nights on the hot, dry, dusty range.

He created a prototype by bolting a wooden box to the back of the surplus military wagon he bought. 

Along with food, the Chuck Wagon also carried water, utensils, bedrolls, rope and other equipment. 

Chuck was a term that originated among meat merchants in 17th century England. 

In addition to sharing meals, the chuck wagon became a central gathering place for cowboys to socialize, get medical help, or have clothes and equipment repaired.

(National Cowboy Museum) 

Next to the trail boss, the highest paid member of a cattle drive was the cook, who made about $45 a month. Cookie, a familiar nickname, logged long days, rising well before sun-up to hand grind beans for coffee. He also worked late into the night making enough sourdough biscuits so they'd last throughout the day. 

A typical breakfast on the trail consisted of meat, hot bread, dried fruit, and coffee for breakfast. The noon and dinner meals usually included roast beef, boiled potatoes, beans, brown gravy, light bread or biscuits, and coffee. Stewed dried fruit, dried fruit pies, or spiced cake often served as dessert–if the chuck wagon cook had enough time to prepare them.

But Cookie had other duties. He made repairs to the equipment, tended to ill drovers and often functioned as a banker, barber, and even as a dentist. The chuck wagon revolutionized the cattle industry. Drovers complied with unwritten rules regarding behavior around the chuck wagon.

Goodnight ranked as one of the most successful cattlemen on the American frontier, combining his skill at ranching with an ability as a trailblazer to brand his name onto the pages of history. 

Born in Macoupin County, Illinois, his mother and stepfather moved the family to Milam County Texas. As a teenager, Goodnight hauled freight. When he turned twenty, he got into the cattle business and moved to northwest Texas. 

About a year later, he joined a the Minute Men of Texas, a group formed to protect the range from Indian raids. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Minute Men became part of the Texas Rangers where Goodnight fought for the Confederacy and achieved a reputation as a guide and scout.

When the war ended, Goodnight succeeding in gathering a herd of cattle on his ranch in Palo Pinto County, Texas, and prepared to drive them to market. At this point, Texas ranchers drove their herds north to the railhead cattle towns in Kansas so they could be shipped East. 

Goodnight, however, was convinced he'd benefit from better profits by getting the cattle to the growing beef markets in New Mexico and Colorado. It was during this time that he met Oliver Loving, a well-known frontier cattleman. 

The two men formed a partnership and, in 1866, established a 500-mile route that stretched north from Fort Belknap, Texas, to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The Goodnight-Loving Trail—which would later extend north into Colorado, and into Wyoming—became one of the most heavily used cattle routes in the Southwest.

But there were risks involved since the trail passed through lands where small bands of hostile Indians roamed. At the end of the trip to Fort Sumner, in 1867, Loving died from the wounds he had received in a battle with Indians. Goodnight, because of the respect he had for Loving, continued to share the trail earnings with his old partner's family.

During the next ten years, Goodnight and another partner built the JA Ranch, the first ranch in the Panhandle. He and partner John Adair bred new strains of cattle. Goodnight was among the first Texas ranchers to use barbed wire. The JA Ranch consisted of over a million acres, accommodating 100,000 head of livestock.

Goodnight eventually married. He and his wife, Mary Ann Dyer, developed land he owned in Colorado.

His entrepreneurial ways continued as he and others established the Stock Growers Bank in Pueblo. Between 1868 and 1871 he organized Colorado stock-raisers into an association, and in 1880, served as the catalyst for the Panhandle Stock Association. 

Goodnight also provided beef to the Kiowa and Comanche and acted as a mediator between them and the U.S. Army. Always an advocate of education, he founded the Goodnight College in Armstrong County, Texas.

The 93-year old Goodnight, who died in December 1929, was often referred to the Father of the Texas Panhandle.


A novelist, storyteller, and naturally curious amateur historian, Tom Rizzo's new three-volume collection, TALL TALES FROM THE HIGH PLAINS & BEYOND, features more than 180 true stories. Featuring characters and events of the Old West, the stories are created with a fictional technique that eases readers into the middle of the action.

For more stories like this at Western Fictioneers, and for a FREE SAMPLER of all three volumes, visit Tom's BlogIf you enjoyed the story above, please share it with friends.

Rediscover the Historical West!

Monday, December 14, 2015

‘You Take that Back!’ — Texas Feuds

By Kathleen Rice Adams

The notorious Hatfield clan, 1897
Although lesser known than the notorious Hatfield-McCoy fracas that claimed about a dozen lives along the West Virginia-Kentucky state line between 1865 and 1888, six and a half of the ten bloodiest American feuds took place in Texas.

Yes, six and a half. Just hold your horses and I’ll explain.

Two of Texas’s feuds were deadlier than the quarrel between the Hatfields and McCoys, and most of them erupted over a bigger insult than laying claim to a wayward pig.

In ascending order of body count, the feuds were…

Early vs. Hasley, 1865-69

Sam Hasley did not take it well when he returned from fighting for the Confederacy to discover his elderly father had been roughed up by a member of the Union occupation force sent to keep order in Texas during Reconstruction. Hasley vowed vengeance not only upon the culprit, John Early, but also on every other Federal in Bell County. He and the friends and family who gathered around him openly defied the authorities, leading the Early faction to accuse Hasley’s group of any crime of any kind anywhere in the vicinity. Yankee soldiers ambushed and killed one of the Hasley contingent in mid-1869, effectively disbanding the gang. One rogue member, however, pursued one of Early’s friends into Arkansas and killed him later that year. Sam Hasley went on to become a deputy sheriff. In 1889, drunk on duty, he was shot and killed by a deputy city marshal while resisting arrest in Temple, Texas. Body count: two.

Reese vs. Townsend, 1898-1907

A plantation house in Columbus, Texas, ca. 1840
The Reeses and the Townsends got crossways over politics. U.S. Senator Mark Townsend, the Boss Tweed of Columbus, Texas, withdrew his support from incumbent sheriff Sam Reese and threw his considerable political clout behind former deputy Larkin Hope instead. When Hope ended up on the wrong end of a broad daylight assassination in downtown Columbus, Reese was the most likely suspect, though no evidence surfaced. Townsend’s handpicked replacement won the election. Perturbed by the unanticipated turn of events, Reese picked a gunfight with a Townsend supporter, thereby moving out of politics and into a casket. The former sheriff’s family vowed to avenge him, provoking five shootouts in Columbus over the following six years. Four combatants died, including Sam Reese’s brother Dick. Body count: six.

Horrell vs. Higgins, 1874-1877

Lampasas, Texas, ca. 1882
When the five Horrell brothers—Ben, Mart, Tom, Merritt, and Sam—took it on the lam to Lincoln County, New Mexico, in order to avoid a murder rap in Texas, they probably didn’t plan to leave one of their number under six feet of dirt before scrambling back to Lampasas barely ahead of a posse. They fared no better in their hometown, running afoul of former friend and neighbor John “Pink” Higgins right away. Higgins accused the high-spirited Horrell boys of rustling cattle…and that’s when the trouble started. A jury acquitted the Horrells of all charges, but continuing ill will led to Merritt Horrell’s death at Higgins’s hand during a saloon fight. Folks lined up behind both families, swore to wipe the opposing faction from the face of the planet, and set about their task with admirable devotion. By the time the Texas Rangers put an end to the running gun battles in June 1877, four men were dead, dozens more were injured, and the three remaining Horrell brothers were behind bars. Although they were released in short order, two of the three were arrested on suspicion of murdering a shopkeeper less than a year later. A vigilante gang shot them to death in their jail cells. The feud ended when both sides signed a written promise to leave one another alone. Amazingly, they kept their word. Body count: seven.

Boyce vs. Sneed, 1911-1912

1912 New York Times report
about the Boyce-Sneed
disagreement. (Click to read.)
Wealthy ranchers John Beal Sneed and Albert Boyce, Jr. came to blows over Sneed’s wife. After more than a decade of marriage and two children, in 1911 Lena Sneed admitted to having an affair with Boyce and asked for a divorce. Sneed straightaway had her committed to an asylum. Boyce rescued the damsel in distress, and the couple ran off to Canada. Incensed when kidnapping charges were dropped, Sneed upped the ante: In early 1912, he murdered Boyce’s unarmed father in the lobby of a Fort Worth hotel. Widely publicized court proceedings ended in a mistrial, spurring a mob of Boyce supporters to storm the courthouse and kill four men. Sneed’s father was the next to go, in an alleged murder-suicide. Although John and Lena Sneed reconciled in mid-1912, he could not let the insult go: Wearing a disguise, he shot and killed Boyce in broad daylight on a Fort Worth street and then surrendered at the county courthouse. Juries later acquitted Sneed of all charges, calling the killings justifiable homicide. Body count: eight.

Sutton vs. Taylor, 1866-1877

former Texas Ranger Creed Taylor, ca. 1880
Dewitt County Deputy Sheriff William Sutton set off the longest-lasting and most widespread feud in Texas history when, in three separate 1866 incidents, he shot and killed three members of former Texas Ranger Creed Taylor’s family. In 1867, two more Taylors died while Sutton was attempting to arrest them on a minor charge. After adopting the motto “Who sheds a Taylor’s blood, by a Taylor’s hand must fall,” the Taylors retaliated by killing two Sutton allies. Mob violence, ambushes, prison breaks, and lynchings ensued. Sutton himself was gunned down while attempting to board a steamboat and high-tail it out of the area. After numerous attempts at peacemaking failed, Texas Ranger Captain Leander McNelly and his Special Force put a stop to the violence. Body count: at least 35.

Lee vs. Peacock, 1866-1871

Fighting Over a Stolen Herd, Frederic Remington, 1895
Only Arizona’s Pleasant Valley War, which took the lives of twenty to fifty men between 1887 and 1892, outstripped the Lee-Peacock feud of northeast Texas. Like the Early-Hasley dustup, the Lee-Peacock fandango grew out of lingering animosity over the Civil War. Confederate veteran Bob Lee butted heads with an organization of Union supporters, leading Lewis Peacock, the leader of the Union bunch, to round up a posse and arrest Lee for alleged war crimes. To “settle the charges,” Peacock seized Lee’s valuables and exacted a promissory note for $2,000. Lee won a subsequent lawsuit, earning an assassination attempt along with the money. His doctor was murdered while Lee convalesced in the medic’s home. Thereafter, Northeast Texas fractured along Union-Confederacy lines and bands of armed men proceeded to track down and do away with their ideological opponents. The Fourth United States Cavalry’s arrival to end the fracas only made things worse: Although a house-to-house search failed to turn up Lee, it sparked several more gun battles. Lee was betrayed by one of his own men in 1869 and died during the cavalry’s attempt to arrest him. Fighting continued until Peacock’s shooting death in 1871. Body count: about fifty.

And now for the one-half Texas feud…

Brooks vs. McFarland, 1896-1902

Although most of the violence took place on Oklahoma land belonging the Creek Nation, a fatal attempt to rob a former Texas Ranger started the fight. After would-be robber Thomas Brooks was killed, family patriarch Willis Brooks accused neighbor Jim McFarland of planning the unsuccessful crime and then tipping off the Ranger. Not disposed to sit idly by and watch the family name besmirched, the McFarlands lined up behind Jim and faced off with the Brooks clan. Both sides vowed to shoot members of the other on sight. The conflict came to a head in a Spokogee, Oklahoma, gunfight in September 1902, when Willis Brooks and his son Clifton were killed along with a McFarland family ally. The survivors were arrested, but allowing them to make bail may have been a mistake: One month later, Jim McFarland died in an ambush at his home. McFarland’s death put an end to the feud.

A Texan to the bone, Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen’s stories, even the good guys wear black hats.

Her short story “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” won the coveted 2015 Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Fiction. Her novel
Prodigal Gun received a 2015 Peacemaker nomination for Best First Western Novel.

Visit her hideout on the web at