Thursday, August 30, 2018


The Doctor's Bag

The blog about Medicine and Surgery in the Old West 

By Keith Souter aka CLAY MORE

Dr George Goodfellow, the surgeon to the gunfighters is famed as the doctor to treat your gunshot wound in the Old West. He developed his expertise during his practice in Tombstone and later on in Tucson in the 1880s and wrote a major paper on the subject in 1889. He was practising in the early days of antiseptic surgery and adopted Joseph Lister's methods of sterilizing instruments in carbolic acid and cleansing wounds with it. 

A hand-operated carbolic spray, such as Dr Goodfellow may have used

As western writers we often set out stories before the Lister era of aseptic surgery. I thought it might be useful to consider how earlier doctors might treat gunshot wounds, so here is a short paper from the American Medical Times of 1862, by Dr Lewis Sayre. He was a leading orthopaedic surgeon of the nineteenth century. 

Oakum as a Substitute for Lint, in Gunshot and other Suppurating Wounds

Dr LEWIS A. SAYRE recommends (Am Med Times, Aug 9, 1862) picked oakum as a substitute for lint, in all cases of suppurating wounds, particularly in connection with opened joints where the suppuration is excessive. The oakum, he says, is more of an absorbent than lint, and therefore fulfills one of the objects of dressing better, and another advantage is its cheapness.

"It is necessary," he says , "to place under the wound a piece of India-rubber cloth, or oiled muslin, for the sake f cleanliness; and in case of much inflammation, by simply wetting the oakum in cold water, and wrapping the oiled muslin around the limb, or wounded part, so as to exclude the air, you have at once the neatest and most comfortable poultice that can be applied to it. In gunshot wounds, which go through an through a limb, particularly if made with the 'Minié ball,' the whirl or screw of the ball entangles in its thread the muscular fibres and cellular tissue, and separates them from their attachments for a long distance from the real track of the ball itself.

"As the muscle and tegumentary tissues are more freely supplied with blood vessels than the the fat and cellular tissue, the consequence is that they begin to granulate more readily than those other tissues, and will thus often close up the wound, and prevent the free escape of pus, before those parts have perfectly healed, and thus lead to the formation of extensive secondary abscesses. I, therefore, in all cases where no blood vessels prevent it, pass an eyed probe through the wound and draw through it a few fibres of the oakum or tarred rope, which keeps it perfectly free, and the tar is a very excellent antiseptic, and removes all unpleasant odour.

"A few fresh fibres are twisted on the end of the seton *at every dressing and drawn into the wound, and the soiled piece cut off and removed with the dressings."

[* seton - a thread of gauze or other suture material threaded through tissue and used to keep a wound open.]

A three ring Minié ball, as invented by Claude-Etienne  Minié

This was loose hemp or jute fiber, sometimes treated with tar, creosote, or asphalt, used chiefly for caulking seams in woodenships and packing pipe joints.


In Victorian prisons and workhouses inmates were made to pick old ropes apart to produce oakum.

Tarred rope and oakum may be the answer in your stories of the really Old West

Hemp rope required tarring to prevent rot. So there you have it. 

If you are treating a gunshot in the 'really Old West,'  that is before aseptic surgery as advocated by Joseph Lister from 1865 (the date when he started using carbolic acid dressings and 1867 when he developed and started using his carbolic acid spray - picture above), then consider using  tarred rope strands as outlined above and wound dressing with oakum.

Dr Lewis A. Sayre (1820-1900)

To round off, you may be interested in a little background on this doctor. Lewis Albert Sayre, MD was a leading orthopaedic surgeon of the nineteenth century, who was a surgical innovator and a prolific medical writer. He was a founder of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1861. This institution merged with University Medical College in New York in 1898 to become New York University School of Medicine. He was also a founding member of the American Medical Association, and was elected its president in 1880.

Dr Lewis Albert Sayre

He is most famous for being the first surgeon to operate to cure hip ankylosis (stiffness) and for his treatment of scoliosis, by suspending the patient to allow gravity to straighten the spine and then to put the body in a plaster cast. This treatment made a huge difference to many thousands of people. 

Although this may look alarming, the patient was actually in control and suspended herself prior to having the Plaster of Paris bandage applied to the torso to maintain the straight spinal position. He described this fully in his 1877 text Spinal disease and spinal curvature: their treatment by suspension and the use of the plaster of Paris bandage.


If you are interested in reading more about medicine and surgery in the frontier days, including the work of Doctor George Goodfellow, then you may find The Doctor's bag useful. It is a collection of my past blog posts, published by Sundown Press.

The novel about Dr George Goodfellow, the Tombstone surgeon to the gunfighters

The novel about Ned Buntline, the King of the Dime Novelists

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Which Dr. Bates?

For those who might not make it to the Western Fictioneers Convention this September, I thought I would share a bit of information about two Colorado women doctors who had a medical practice prior to 1900, who just happened to have the same first and last names. Here are the brief stories of  the Doctors Mary Bates.

First, a bit of context for their stories. Colorado became a state in 1876, hence the name 'The Centennial State'. The theory about Colorado's lateness in mass settlement is that people did not believe you could cross over the many fourteen thousand foot peaks. Of course there were the mountain men in the early 1800s, but it took a gold rush in 1859 to prove that theory wrong. From that point on the state saw an influx of gold seekers, and businesses that provided goods and services to said prospectors. 

Following the gold and silver seekers were the health seekers. Many found the clear, cold and thin air of Colorado to be beneficial to their health. With the health seekers came the physicians and others who offered their services to the ill. Into that mix came the women physicians who also wished to practice medicine. There were many women who took advantage of the opportunities afforded them in this new area. The first Dr. Bates arrived around 1878.

Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates was born December 17, 1845 in Hannibel, Oswergo County, New York. She was the daughter of Dr. Ezra Barker and Jane Ruth Freeman. Mary graduated from the Women's Medical College in Philadelphia in 1873.  That same year she moved to Utah, where some sources say she began an Obstetrics School for women in Salt Lake City. The family site states she was 'Brigham Young's Family Physician'. While still in Utah she met and married attorney George Clinton Bates in 1876. By 1878 Mary and George moved to Leadville, Colorado. There the two practiced their vocations. In the 1879 Leadville City Directory, Dr. Bates is the only female physician listed along with the other thirty-four doctors.

Image result for images of leadville colorado 1881
Leadville 1881- from Pinterest
Leadville sits at 10,152 feet above sea level in the Colorado Rockies. It is currently the highest incorporated town in North America. (The honor for highest town originally went to Altman, Colorado at 10,630 feet, but it is now a ghost town). During the 1870s and 80s it was a booming mining town. It was in Leadville that the Guggenheims, and Horace Tabor made a fortune in silver. Doc Holliday and possibly even members of the James gang were in Leadville for a time.  

By 1881 Dr. Bates and husband moved to Denver, Colorado for George's health. It was also 1881 that Colorado started licensing physicians and Mary Helen was one of the early one. (Her license number was 271). It was in Denver Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates made history as the first woman in Colorado to be appointed to the staff of the Women's and Children's Hospital in 1885. She also was a member of the Denver Board of Education, Vice-President of the Colorado Medical Society and Colorado's Delegate to the Pan-American Medical Congress. Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates passed away on August 3, 1924 in Denver at the age of 78.

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Bates was born in February 25, 1861 in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin to William Wallace Bates, a ship builder, and Mary Cole Bates, a physician. She arrived in Denver in 1891. Prior to arriving in Colorado she was the first woman intern (1882-1883) at the Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She achieved this position after a grueling exam in which she beat out a number of male candidates. After her internship she studied in Vienna from 1883-1884, which a number of physicians both male and female did. Upon her return to Chicago she was a professor of anatomy at the Woman’s Medical College in Chicago from 1884-1889. In Colorado she was involved in the Woman’s Suffrage movement and was part of the group that affected the passage of the 1893 referendum which gave Colorado women the right to vote. In 1909 Dr. Bates developed a bill “The (Bates) Colorado Law for the Examination and Care of Public School Children” which passed in June of 1909. Dr. Bates also championed a strict adherence to the liquor and gambling laws of the state. 

Cook County Hospital, 1900 W Harrison, 1882, Chicago
Cook County Hospital-Chicago Illinois 1882 - from Pinterest
Of her time as an intern at Cook County Hospital, Dr. Bates says of the nineteen months she worked as in intern, she worked in the morgue, took part in fourteen amputations. Of her time there she later said “the first six months were hell, the second six months were purgatory, the next six months were heaven; when it came time for me to leave, I wept bitter tears..."  Dr. Mary Elizabeth Bates passed away September 18, 1854 at the age of 93. 

For those who think women had a hard time practicing medicine, they did, but in Colorado the hard times were probably not a tough as other areas of the country. The West was opening up and doctors were needed, regardless of there gender.

Of course I've included women doctors in my writing. 

Chasing A Chance (Lockets & Lace Book 7) by [Raines, Angela, Lace, Lockets and , Sweethearts, Sweet Americana]

Josie's Dream (Grandma's Wedding Quilts Book 9)
Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


Monday, August 20, 2018

Western Fictioneers Presents — THE UNTAMED WEST (A Classic Western Anthology With 29 Stories)

A collection of twenty-nine tales of the Old West featuring previously unpublished stories by such classic Western writers as James Reasoner, Douglas Hirt, McKendree Long, and Michael R. Ritt. Edited by award winning author, L. J. Washburn. Western Fictioneers is the only writers’ organization devoted solely to traditional Western fiction, and this huge collection will take readers from the dusty plains of Texas to the sweeping vistas of Montana and beyond.

Western Fictioneers was founded in 2010 to promote the oldest genuine American art form, the Western story. Its worldwide membership includes best-selling, award-winning authors of Western fiction, as well as the brightest up-and-coming new stars in the Western field. The organization*s third anthology features original stories by Big Jim Williams, Easy Jackson, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, McKendree Long, Michael R. Ritt, S. D. Parker, James Reasoner, J. L. Guin, J.E.S. Hays, James J. Griffin, Jesse J Elliot, Ben Goheen, Barbara Shepherd, Nik Morton, S. L. Matthews, James Clay, Keith Souter, Tom Rizzo, Matthew P. Mayo, Dorothy A. Bell, L.J. Washburn, Angela Raines, Gordon L. Rottman, Charlie Steel, Douglas Hirt, Dennis Doty, and Cheryl Pierson.

THE UNTAMED WEST is more than 150,000 words of action packed classic Western fiction.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The 9th Annual Peacemaker Awards Now Open for Submissions

Submissions for the 9th Annual WF Peacemaker Awards are now being accepted for works originally published in the year 2018.


First time in print must be between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, 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 Kindle/mobi, 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 05/15/2019 and the winners will be announced on 06/15/2019.

The WF Peacemaker Award will be awarded in four 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 YA/Children Fiction– Any fiction written for ages 1-17 published during the award year set in the appropriate time period (1830-1920). 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 print form, 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. All entries must be postmarked or received via email by midnight, CST, January 15, 2019. 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.

Links to forms to include are at the bottom of the list of judges. You will need 4 copies for each printed entry, one for each judge and one for the Awards Chair.

Awards Chair: James Reasoner
P.O. Box 931
Azle, TX 76098-0931

Monday, August 13, 2018

Remembering Neville Brand - television and movie actor by Kaye Spencer #westernfictioneers #westerns #goldenageofhollywood

I'm turning once again to the Golden Age of Hollywood for the topic of this month's article. (Read my John  Wayne article HERE).

Lawrence "Neville" Brand, a familiar face in movies and on television from 1949 through the early 1980s, was born on August 13, 1920 in Griswold, Iowa. He died in Sacramento, California on April 16, 1992.

Neville Brand was one of seven siblings in a family that moved several times before he ended up in high school in Kewanee, Illinois. In 1939, he joined the Illinois Army National Guard as a private then enlisted in the US Army as a corporal (infantryman) on March 5, 1941 and was discharged in 1945.

During his military service, he rose to rank of sergeant and platoon leader. He was wounded in action in 1945. Of his many military awards, he received the Silver Star (gallantry in combat) and a Purple Heart (wounded in combat).

According to his IMDb bio, "It was while he was in the army that he made his acting debut, in Army training films, and this experience apparently changed the direction of his life. Once a civilian again, he used his GI Bill education assistance to study drama with the American Theater Wing and then appeared in several Broadway plays. His film debut was in Port of New York (1949). Among his earliest films was the Oscar-winning Stalag 17 (1953)."

He reportedly once said of himself in an interview, "With this kisser, I knew early in the game I wasn't going to make the world forget Clark Gable."

Neville Brand as Al Capone
(attribution below)
Two quotes about Brand's acting from Wikipedia:

Early roles: "His hulking physique, rough-hewn, craggy-faced looks and gravelly voice lead to him largely playing gangsters, western outlaws, and other screen 'heavies', cops, and other tough-guy roles throughout his career."

(Doesn't this also remind you of Charles Bronson?)

"He had the distinction of being the first actor to portray outlaw Butch Cassidy in the film The Three Outlaws opposite Alan Hale, Jr. as the Sundance Kid."

Brand rose quickly as a bankable actor in other movies: Halls of Montezuma (1950), Man Crazy (1953), Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), Return from the Sea (1954), and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962). 

He played a tough guy in the Elvis Presley movie Love Me Tender (1956). He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Willie Stark in Kraft Theater's All the King's Men (1958). He portrayed Al Capone on television and film. His first film role was as a sadistic hoodlum opposite Edmond O'Brien in D.O.A (1950).

D.O.A. (attribution below)
Television acting offered countless opportunities. He took on a variety of characters, and it wasn't long before his career balanced on the edge of being typecast as a villain. He managed to sidestep the typical-for-the-time Hollywood character typecasting and created a unique persona through his diverse roles from comedy to drama to out-and-out villainous characters whether it was television, stage, or big screen.

The New York Times wrote in his obituary,

His looks helped him get parts but also tended to stereotype his career. A sympathetic news article in 1963 said that 'in 50 screen roles he has never been without a gun and has consistently been cast as a soldier or a gangster,' a pattern that was being broken then with a new role as a spear-brandishing Viking.

This is a quote from his Bio on the IMDb website. He said of himself about playing villains:

"...I don't go in thinking he's a villain. The audience might, but the villain doesn't think he's a villain. Even a killer condones what he's done. I just create this human being under the circumstances that are given. I don't think he's a villain. Everybody just condones his own actions."

When you look at his list of acting credits on the website IMDb, you can follow his career through his early uncredited performances to his plethora of bit parts to his recurring television roles to his movies.

His television credits are impressive. In the 1960s and 1970s, it seemed he showed up in just about every popular television series: Fantasy Island, Baretta, McCloud, Kojak, Police Woman, Bonanza, Marcus Welby, M.D., Alias Smith and Jones, The Virginian, Daniel Boone, Tarzan, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Death Valley Days... The list goes on and on.

I remember him most for his recurring character Texas Ranger Reese Bennett in the television western Laredo (56 episodes from 1965-1967) and Disney's That Darn Cat! (1965). [What can I say? I was a kid, and I had two Siamese cats.]

Neville Brand as Reese Bennett - Laredo 
(attribution below)

What memories do you have of Neville Brand?

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

Writing through history one romance upon a time

Prairie Rose Publications
YouTube Channel

**D.O.A. image attribution: By Film screenshot - D.O.A. film, Public Domain,
**Neville_Brand_1966 image attribution: By NBC Television - eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain,
**Neville_Brand_as_Al_Capone_The_Untouchables_1959 image attribution: By NBC Television - eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain,

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Elk

During the days of the Wild West, one large mammal roamed throughout most of the country, providing meat and other necessities for your characters. That mammal was the elk, also called the wapiti, a Native American word meaning “white rump.”

The scientific name of the elk is Cervus canadensis, and it is found in the deer family. It is one of the largest deer in the country, second only to the moose. Males, or bulls, grow antlers that may reach up to four feet above their head, so that the animal towers nearly nine feet tall. Females (cows) stand around four feet tall at the shoulder and around seven feet from nose to tail. They weigh on average around 500 pounds. Bulls weigh in at around 700 pounds and are around eight feet long.
A group of elk is called a gang, and elk stay in single-sex groups for most of the year. Females form large herds of up to fifty individuals. During mating season, called the rut (from August to early Winter), mature bulls will join the herd and try to control a harem of cows. Rival bulls challenge their opponents by bellowing or bugling, and by striding back and forth parallel to one another to show off their antlers and bulging muscles. If neither bull backs down, they wrestle with their antlers, which sometimes causes serious injuries.

A bull’s bugle is a loud, distinctive scream most commonly heard early or late in the day, and once heard, is instantly identifiable. Here is a link to a sound file of an elk’s bugle.
Bulls also grow antlers during the spring and shed them each Winter. Large antlers can weigh up to forty pounds. They are made of bone and can grow nearly an inch a day until fully developed. During the growth period, the antlers are covered with a soft layer of skin called velvet, which is shed in strips during the summer. Bulls remain mostly solitary while they have antlers, but form bachelor groups once they shed them, with one or more scouts to watch for predators.
Elk are ruminants, which means they have a four-chambered stomach and chew cud. They are primarily grazers which feed on grasses, but they will browse on leaves and twigs when that is not available. Elk feed most commonly in the mornings and evenings and are especially fond of aspen sprouts, creating a decline in aspen groves in some areas.

Like many deer species, elk migrate into higher altitudes in the Spring, following the retreating snows, and back to the lower altitudes in the Fall. During Winter, they look for wooded areas and sheltered valleys for protection from the wind and availability of tree bark to eat.
Wolf packs and the solitary cougar are the most common predators of the elk, though brown and black bears have been known to take down an elk. Coyote packs mostly prey on calves, though they sometimes take down a winter- or disease-weakened adult. Elk can live around 10-13 years in the wild if they avoid predators.
Your characters would probably be familiar with the elk as a source of food and hide. Native Americans utilized the elk as much or more than the bison. At birth, Lakota boys were given an elk’s tooth to promote long life (since that is usually the last part of an elk to decay). Hides were used as tepee coverings, blankets, clothing and footwear. Antlers were used in artwork, furniture and various utensils.
J.E.S. Hays

Saturday, August 4, 2018


In early 1887, an inmate by the name of Lew P. Shoonmaker of Minnesota State Prison at Stillwater decided to explore the possibility of publishing a newspaper. Schoonmaker, a former bookkeeper from Wisconsin, went to Stillwater in 1886 to serve a two-year sentence for forgery.

Schoonmaker spent several months trying to persuade the warden on the merits of the revolutionary idea of a newspaper funded, written, edited, and published by inmates. When the project was finally approved, Schoonmaker went looking for investors.

The first name on his list: outlaw Cole Younger. He and his brothers Bob and Jim were serving life terms at hard labor for their roles in the botched robbery of First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota. 

Shoonmaker figured by enlisting Cole Younger, the publication would enjoy immediate legitimacy and, of course, sell more newspapers. At the time, Cole served as the prison’s librarian. Jim was named the facility’s postmaster. Bob worked as a clerk.  

The Younger brothers came up with $50—a quarter of the required start-up capital. 

Shoonmaker and several other inmates also kicked in some cash.
Schoonmaker became editor and hired Cole as associate editor and printer’s assistant.

Cole liked Shoonmaker’s business model, which called for the money to be earmarked for the prison library once the investors were repaid at the rate of three percent interest a month. When everyone was paid back, the library would own the paper and subsequently pay for new books and other materials.

The new publication—The Prison Mirror—debuted Aug. 10, 1887, and was made available to prisoners and non-prisoners. 

Each issue cost five-cents. Annual subscriptions when for $1. Several local merchants helped the bottom line by buying advertising space in the new paper.

The first issue was four pages long, 14 by 17 inches. The opening article, written by the founders, declared: 

“It is with no little pride and pleasure [that] we present to you, kind reader, this our initiative number of THE PRISON MIRROR, believing as we do, that the introduction of the printing press into the great penal institutions of our land, is the first important step taken toward solving the great problem of true prison reform.”

In addition to prison news and humorous and literary submissions, the paper pledged to “encourage prison literary talent [and] instruct, assist, encourage, and entertain.” It also promised to serve as an independent voice for prisoners and operate without official oversight.

In the same issue, the newly-appointed warden—Halvur Stordock—advised readers he was entirely behind the project. He also emphasized that the Mirror was not funded by taxes.

“If it shall prove a failure, then the blamed must all rest on me,” he said. “It if shall be a success, then all credit must be given to the boys who have done all the work.” 

Shoonmaker resigned when the second issue of the Mirror was published, possibly because of his scheduled release. Younger also decided to hang up his editorial hat. According to some reports, his role at the paper had diverted his time and attention from the prison library.

The Mirror, believed the oldest continuously published prison paper in the U.S., celebrated its 130th anniversary this year. Over 2200 copies are printed each month—most of them for inmates. A couple of hundred copies are distributed to prison advocacy groups, as well as law schools and other organizations.

The Mirror has been ranked several times as the best prison newspaper in the country.

 Unlike the days when Warden Stordock allowed the prison staff to run the show, today’s version of the Mirror is different. Its contents are closely scrutinized by prison officials and the inmates themselves. 

Each issue is now reviewed by several departments before the warden signs off on the material before it goes to print.  

Even with editorial watchdogs in place, the Mirror still manages to publish breakthrough stories now and then. 

In 2012, editor Matt Gretz conducted an investigation that revealed Minnesota lawmakers had taken $1.2 million in profits from Stillwater’s prison canteen to offset budget cuts in 2011. 

Over the years, the paper covered labor strikes of the early 20th Century, women’s suffrage, and the deadly A-Block rampage in 1975.

The Mirror is published monthly at the Minnesota Stillwater Correctional Facility. Subscriptions are $12. The newspaper’s debut edition displayed the motto: “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.”

The motto was changed a few issues later to read: "It’s Never Too Late To Mend.”