Thursday, March 28, 2019


The Doctor's Bag

The blog about Medicine and Surgery in the Old West 

By Keith Souter aka CLAY MORE


People often ask why doctors use Latin. Indeed, there is a perception that we use it to make diagnoses sound scholarly, and that we write prescriptions in an indecipherable Latin scrawl to ensure that no-one except a trained pharmacist can read them.        

The fact is that Latin is the international language of medicine, just as it has been since the days of Ancient Rome. You see, because Latin is a dead language it is unchanging, hence its suitability as an international medical language. Thus, doctors speaking in different languages can communicate their findings to one another using medical Latin.

I find the study of medical Latin fascinating, since it illustrates the way in which medical ideas were transmitted. Although the Romans were never great innovators in the field of medicine, they translated the medical works of their neighbours the Greeks into Latin and then disseminated the texts across their empire. 

About ninety to ninety-five per cent of all medical terms are based on Latin and Greek. Most of the anatomical terms and the scientific names of micro-organisms are of Latin origin, whereas many of the disease names and medical terms come from Greek, or a mixture of the two languages. The Greek terms reflect the knowledge and skills of the early Classical Greek physicians, while the Latin terminology comes both from antiquity and from the Renaissance, when Latin became the language of science and medicine. 

The abdominal cavity
The ‘abdomen’, as most people are aware is the name for the anatomical cavity between the thorax (chest) and pelvis. It contains the liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, small and large intestines. The name was first coined by the famous Roman encyclopaedist Pliny in 50AD. It comes from the Latin word - from abdere, meaning ‘to hide’ and omentum, meaning ‘entrails’. It literally means, ‘the cavity that hides the entrails’.

But take care if you are writing about gunshot wounds to  the abdomen. The anatomical texts show where organs are expected to be within  the abdomen, but in life they may be in different positions according to body build. In the two extreme types of build illustrated, just look at the positions of the stomach in each case (it is the shaded organ).

Hypersthenic habitus (large build)

 Asthenic habitus (slim build)

A curious link between medicine and the law
 The testis or testicle is the name for the male genital organ. The name actually comes from the Latin testis, meaning ‘witness’. The connection may seem obscure to us today, but it in fact gives us an insight into Ancient Roman law. In Roman times only a man could ‘testify’ in court, or appear as a ‘witness’. Women and eunuchs were excluded, so the presence of testes(plural of testis) was proof of being a man. So, testicles are man’s ‘little witnesses.’ 

Those strange prescriptions
The word ‘prescription’ comes from the Latin words, prae, meaning ‘before’, and scribere, meaning ‘to write’. When your doctor writes a prescription he or she often writes Rx. This is an abbreviation of the Latin word recipe, meaning ‘take thou’. The word sig is often written. It is short for the Latin signa, meaning ‘mark.’ This indicates the instructions for the pharmacist to write on the instructions. You might see an abbreviation like t.d.s. which is short for ter die sumendus, meaning ‘take three times a day.’ And p.r.n., is short for pro re nata, meaning ‘take as required’. 

Arteries – right name, wrong reason
 Most students know that arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the tissues. The name comes from the Greek aerterion,meaning ‘air-carrier. In fact, the early anatomists thought that the arteries carried air, not blood. The reason they assumed this was because the arteries collapse and empty after death, most of the blood being found in the veins. 

A musical bone
The tibia,meaning ‘flute,’ is the large lower leg bone. In Roman days musicians used the tibias of animals and birds to make pipes and flutes. 

And its partner
The fibula is the smaller lower leg bone. It is called fibula - 'broach-pin.' Fibula itself is derived from

figere - to fasten . If you look at them, the fibula looks like a broach-pin.


If you are intrigued by medical Latin, then you might like to dip into this book, which you can pick up for a cent or two!

If you are interested in reading more about medicine and surgery in the frontier days,  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, March 26, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Part of the Arkansas River, Canon City, CO
photo property of the author
Those who know me, or read my posts, know how much I love history. The history of my adopted state is a constant source of fun and great reading. Since I've been researching for an upcoming novel, I thought I'd share some stories of the places my characters travel.

The journey starts in Canon City, pronounced "Canyon". Founded late in 1859 as a 'way station' to the gold fields to the west. By 1860 the town started to grow and after gold was found in California Gulch, it exploded. (For those who wonder, California Gulch is the Buckskin Joe, Leadville area). According to Rosemae Wells Campbell in her book  From Trappers to Tourist – "that winter Canon City was a wide open, wild town. Every department of pleasure ran at capacity. Saloons became numerous and those who frequented them also found pleasure in ways that did not involve drinking or gambling. General courtesy and basic manners were lax or nonexistent, midnight brawls were commonplace, and gunfights occurred on a regular basis. Men were shot over petty grievances; still others, for less, such as the case of Charles Dodge "shot and killed three men who irked him." 

After that winter, the miners, prospectors and hangers on, returned to the mountains and the town was able to focus on growth. Sitting on the Arkansas River, and the mouth of the Royal Gorge, the town had its excitements. The territorial prison was built there in 1874 before Colorado became a state. In 1880 they were building a military academy. There were also a large number of Confederate soldiers who settled in the area. Of course, who can forget the Royal Gorge War between the Santa Fe and Denver & Rio Grande Railroads. That war, to be the first through the Gorge, was to get to the mines in Leadville to convey the ore out of the mountains.

Journeying onward, you travel that route through South Park, on into the mountains. Cripple Creek is just north of Canon City, although it didn't come into existence until the 1890s. You did have Nathrop and Buena Vista, the region of the Lake County War, which I wrote about some time ago. For those who'd like to read about that, here is the link: Lake County War

There have been many posts about Leadville, that town at 10, 152 feet, and the characters who spent time there. Of course, Horace Tabor, Doc Holiday, Wyatt Early, and possible the James brothers or members of their gang.  What many forget is places like St. Elmo, Como, Breckenridge, Gunnison and Virginia City.

Image result for historic images of tin cup
Tin Cup, 1906 from a photo of the Tin Cup Civic Association
Yes, there was a Virginia City in Colorado. Of course since Montana and Nevada, the name didn't last long. So what was it changed to? Tin Cup. If you wanted a wide open town, this was the one for you in the late 1800s. In its early days, there was no true law. It was said they went through seven marshals in a very short period of time.

Here is a piece from the Gunnison Daily News-Democrat from July 12, 1882

Block image

In his book "Jeep Trails to Colorado Ghost Towns", Robert L. Brown had this to say:
"By 1879... There were plenty of saloons... Tin cup had several hotels, chief among them were the Pacific and the Eagle. … After the summer of 1879, tin cup was rated as the largest town in Gunnison County, next to Gunnison itself.

There were three physicians in town. One of them was Dr. McGowan, who always wore a full beard which resulted in his death while he was smoking in bed.

In the old days, Tin Cup was entered mainly from St. Elmo, over Tin Cup Pass, and frequently by way of Pitkin, Cottonwood, and Aspen. It was a rough trip from Tin Cup over the divide to St. Elmo.

No railroad ever served Tin Cup. In the summer time you rode the stagecoach and in the winter you skied."

So there you have a short trip though history along the Arkansas River and up to Leadville and Tin Cup. There is so much more history, but time and space limit the story.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Twenty-Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Dances With Wolves

It was on this date twenty-eight years ago, March 25th, 1991, that Dances with Wolves won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 63rd Academy Award ceremonies, becoming only the second western film to earn that honor - the first being Cimarron (1931), directed by Wesley Ruggles. To honor the occasion, here are twenty-eight things that you didn’t know about Dances with Wolves:

  • Author, Michael Blake, wrote Dances with Wolves as a novel after Kevin Costner convinced him to do so. Blake originally tried to sell the idea as a screenplay, but Costner believed that it would generate more studio interest as a novel.
  • Three other prominent directors were offered the project, but each one turned it down. Finally, Costner decided to direct the film himself in his directorial debut.
  • The scene involving the buffalo hunt utilized an amazing 3,500 buffalo and took two weeks to shoot. Only one take could be made each day for the scene because the buffalo would run up to ten miles and had to be rounded up for each take.
  • Two-Socks, the wolf in the film, was actually played by two different wolves – Buck and Teddy.
  • Costner’s six-year-old daughter, Annie, appeared in the film, playing Stands-With-a-Fist as a child.
  • The novel upon which the film was based was rejected by over thirty different publishers before it was picked-up by Fawcett Books.
  • Dances with Wolves was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, winning seven including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and Best Original Score. 

Kevin Costner and Michael Blake - Photo credit Ron Galella WireImage
  • Although Dances with Wolves has earned over 424 million dollars and is the top-grossing western in movie history, it never topped the box office charts while in theaters.
  • In 2007, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
  • The buffalo liver that Wind-in-His-Hair offers to Dunbar after the buffalo hunt is actually made of cranberry Jell-O.
  • One of the doctors who is preparing to amputate Dunbar’s (Costner’s) leg in the opening scene is actually played by Costner. His face is never seen and his voice is dubbed over.
  • Blake based the character of Stands-with-a-Fist on Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped and adopted by the Comanche at age ten in 1836. Her story was the basis of another Western classic, The Searchers (1956). 
  • To add authenticity to the film, a Lakota language tutor was brought in to teach the cast how to speak the Lakota Sioux language. The gendered aspect of the Lakota language made the male language much harder to learn than the female language, so all of the Sioux in the film are speaking the female gendered Lakota, even the men.
  • Because of the films sympathetic depiction of the Indians, the Sioux Nation made Kevin Costner an honorary member.
  • The buffalo hunt scene made use of a specially built animatronic buffalo that cost a quarter of a million dollars.
  • During the buffalo hunt scene, a buffalo charges a young brave named Smiles-a-Lot who had fallen off of his horse. The charging animal is really Cody, a domesticated buffalo. In order to get Cody to charge toward the camera, his handler enticed him with his favorite treat – Oreo cookies.
  • Another domesticated buffalo was used for close-up shots. His name was Mammoth, and he belonged to singer Neil Young.
  • The film had an initial budget of fifteen million dollars. It ran over budget, so Costner put in three million dollars of his own money. This investment earned Costner an estimated forty million.
  • Graham Green played Kicking-Bird, a Sioux holy man. In order to best portray an older man with poor posture, Green put a slice of bologna in each of his moccasins, believing that the slimy sensation would help him to project the proper bearing.
  • There is a sequel to the book. It is titled The Holy Road. It is in development for a movie and is rumored to have Viggo Mortensen playing the part of John Dunbar. Viggo was originally considered for the part of John Dunbar in Dances with Wolves.
  • Tom Berenger was also considered for the part of John Dunbar.
  • The first cut of the film ended up being five and a half hours long.
  • The producers had a “garage sale” where props and costumes were sold off in order to raise money for the two-month long post-production.
  • John Dunbar’s jacket has yellow epaulets signifying the cavalry. He gives his jacket to Wind-in-his-Hair. Later in the movie, after the battle with the Pawnee, the epaulets have changed to blue, signifying the infantry.
  • The Lakota language tutor who taught the cast the Lakota language was named Doris Leader Charge. She was given a speaking role in the film as Chief Ten Bears’ wife, Pretty Shield.
  • Dunbar reports to Fort Hays (which is misspelled “Hayes”) sometime in 1863-64. However, Fort Hays did not exist until 1865 and was not named “Fort Hays” until 1866.
  • The films beautiful symphonic score (especially the John Dunbar Theme), composed by John Barry, was a personal favorite of Pope John Paul II. Barry won his fifth Oscar and his fourth Grammy for Dances with Wolves.

  • For a while, Michael Blake, the author of Dances with Wolves, slept on Kevin Costner’s couch while working on his manuscript. He later moved to Arizona to continue his writing and supported himself by washing dishes in a Chinese restaurant for $3.35 an hour.

Sunday, March 24, 2019


Vonn has been traveling for a few weeks and hopes you'll enjoy this reposting of THE ANSWER IS BLOWING IN THE WIND, first published on the blog site in November, 2014.

Much has been written about the Range Wars of the American West. The premise of cattlemen and farmers in conflict, sometimes violently, over grazing and water rights found its way into iconic books and movies such as To the Last Man (Z.Grey), The Virginian (O. Wister), Shane, Oklahoma!, and Chisum.

The invention of barbed wire served only to exacerbate the range wars for the next several years. Farmers built fences to keep open range cattle out of their crops, but that meant they also cut off access to water sources for the roaming herds. Not until the late 1880’s were laws passed that required, among other things, the addition of gates for every three miles of fencing.
To complicate matters, the western states and territories employed prior appropriation water rights, described as “first in time, first in rights.” The earliest landowner in the region held superior rights to waterways running through his property. Throw in a few irrigation ditches or a dam, and he could have some very disgruntled neighbors.

There were few water wells in the Old West, and for good reason. They had to be hand dug or drilled and the water table in those arid regions could be several hundred feet below grade.

Even as the fur and bullets flew over the right to water access, the solution to the problem was being devised in a New England machine shop. In the small town of Ellington, Connecticut, a mechanic named Daniel Halladay was tinkering with water pumps. His pump relied on steam engine power, which most everything did in those days.
Daniel Halladay
John Burnham, Jr.
He crossed paths with a visionary named John Burnham, Jr., who was fascinated with the use of wind power to run hydraulic machines. Halladay hired Burnham and, together, they invented the first wind engine that could pivot with directional wind changes by use of a tail vane. (Old European windmills were fixed, with enormous sails that required considerable winds to operate.)

Halladay’s first wind engine design, The Halladay Standard, utilized four paddle-like blades made of wood or sailcloth. This evolved into the self-regulating wind engine, which featured sections of narrow blades that could fold back in high winds, much like the action of an umbrella.

The Halladay Standard
(Original Patent)

Self-regulating Wind Engine
(shown with sections folded

The biggest problem facing Halladay and Burnham was that their wonderful invention was just not selling…at least not in Connecticut. Burnham suggested that they expand to the Midwest. While most of the manufacturing operations remained in Connecticut, they opened a shop in Batavia, Illinois. The move was a fortuitous one. Sales took off in America’s breadbasket and Halladay moved the rest of his company to Batavia.

Salesmen traversed the western states by train and wagons, carrying samples of windmills to farmers and ranchers on the parched plains. To say that the wind-powered water pumps all but ended the range wars would not be an exaggeration. More manufacturers entered the market and Batavia, Illinois, would become known as “Windmill City.”

Thomas O. Perry, an engineer who worked for Daniel Halladay, experimented with new, more efficient blade designs and lighter assemblies. He needed to test his new ideas and outfitted one of the factory’s buildings into a primitive wind tunnel, effectively producing two inventions that would revolutionize American industry.

Aermotor Windmill
Curiously, Halladay was not interested in the new design and Thomas Perry went on to work for the Aermotor Windmill Company. Perry’s cupped steel blade design became the standard for windmills. Ironically, the Aermotor Company is the only U.S. manufacturer of windmills still in business. They are based in San Angelo, Texas.

Great engineering marvels always come down to simplicity, elegance and functionality. Certainly, the humble windmill qualifies. Day after day, year after year, they catch the wind and turn it into power. They work when it’s raining, snowing…when the sun is high or the moon is dim…when it’s Christmas or just another Tuesday. What would the American West be without them?

For you road trippers, there are a number of windmill museums located across the U.S. (Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska and New Mexico) The state of Texas is especially known for its ubiquitous windmills. Here's a little story from the early Panhandle days:

"When one of the first windmills in the Texas Panhandle was installed and put into operation, the owner took his crew of riders out to see how it worked before acceptin' it from the contractor. When he saw the little trickle of water flowin' out he was as tickled as a cub bear with a honeycomb, and declared that the windmill would revolutionize the cow business. One skeptical cowhand eyed the small stream, and said, "Hell, Boss, I could get behind a bush and do a better job than that." ---- Ramon F. Adams, THE OLD-TIME COWHAND, 1948.

All the best,


Short stories

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Are you the kind of reader who likes to have a detailed description of the hero or heroine in romance books? What about other secondary characters? And do you feel the same way about characters in books of genres other than western historical romance, or romance in general?

To me, there is a big difference in how much character description is needed in romance novels versus other genres, and here’s why.

When we read romance, we put ourselves in the story, empathizing with both the heroine and the hero. Of course, we need enough description to let us be familiar with them both, but this might be a case of “less” being “more.”

In our personal lives, we have preferences in how our romantic “leading men” look, speak, behave, and so on. If our preferences are toward the tall, dark, and handsome hero, it will be hard for us to be vested in a story with a hero who’s short, fair, and ugly. Or one who has habits we personally don’t find attractive.

I knew a woman who didn’t like blond heroes. If he had blond hair on the cover, she’d color it brown or black with a marker. In the book, if “blond” was mentioned, she’d mark through it and write whatever color of hair she’d decided he needed. I asked her about the heroines. “They’re all me,” she answered. “I don’t pay attention to their descriptions.”

It made me wonder how many others felt this way.

Stephen King had mentioned at one time in his book ON WRITING that “description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

And in genres other than romance, character description is different and maybe more important, because the reader doesn’t have any preconceived expectations of the story, such as romance readers do.

When I taught creative writing classes, this description was one I used to illustrate how so much could be packed in to a short amount of words without being an info dump.
This is the beginning of St. Agnes’ Stand, by Thomas Eidson, who also wrote The Missing. Take a look:

He was hurt and riding cautiously. Thoughts not quite grasped made him uneasy, and he listened for an errant sound in the hot wind. His eyes were narrowed—searching for a broken leaf, a freshly turned rock, anything from which he could make some sense of his vague uneasiness. Nothing. The desert seemed right, but wasn’t somehow. He turned in the saddle and looked behind him. A tumbleweed was bouncing in front of the wild assaults from the wind. But the trail was empty. He turned back and sat, listening.

Over six feet and carrying two hundred pounds, Nat Swanson didn’t disturb easy, but this morning he was edgy. His hat brim was pulled low, casting his face in shadow. The intense heat and the wind were playing with the air, making it warp and shimmer over the land. He forced himself to peer through it, knowing he wouldn’t get a second chance if he missed a sheen off sweating skin or the straight line of a gun barrel among branches.

And then this, a couple of paragraphs down:

He had been running for a week, and he was light on sleep and heavy on dust and too ready for trouble. He’d killed a man in a West Texas town he’d forgotten the name of—over a woman whose name he’d never known. He hadn’t wanted the woman or the killing. Nor had he wanted the hole in his thigh. What he did want was to get to California, and that’s where he was headed. Buttoned in his shirt pocket was a deed for a Santa Barbara ranch. Perhaps a younger man would have run longer and harder before turning to fight and maybe die; but Nat Swanson was thirty-five years that summer, old for the trail, and he had run as far as he was going to run.

I absolutely love this. Can you feel that you’re right there with Nat Swanson as he’s riding? There are no wasted words, and this is just such an eloquent, masterful description of not only Nat, but the situation and the physical place he’s in as well as the dilemma he’s faced with.

Another excellent way of describing a character and setting the scene at the same time is from another character’s POV. This passage is from Jack Schaefer’s iconic classic, Shane—from the eyes of Bobby Starrett—when Shane first rides into his life.

This is just the very beginning of the book—there is more physical description of Shane a few paragraphs later, but I chose this passage because it lets us know what’s going on in a few short sentences—and that is real talent.

He rode into our valley in the summer of ’89. I was a kid then, barely topping the backboard of father’s old chuck-wagon. I was on the upper rail of our small corral, soaking in the late afternoon sun, when I saw him far down the road where it swung into the valley from the open plain beyond.

In that clear Wyoming air I could see him plainly, though he was still several miles away. There seemed nothing remarkable about him, just another stray horseman riding up the road toward the cluster of frame buildings that was our town. Then I saw a pair of cowhands, loping past him, stop and stare after him with a curious intentness.

He came steadily on, straight through the town without slackening pace, until he reached the fork a half-mile below our place. One branch turned left across the river ford and on to Luke Fletcher’s big spread. The other bore ahead along the right bank where we homesteaders had pegged our claims in a row up the valley. He hesitated briefly, studying the choice, and moved again steadily on our side.

This is tough, because we’re seeing it through two “lenses”—Bobby is nine years old, and this is what he sees, but it’s filtered by the adult Bobby who’s now telling the story of what happened all those years ago.

In writing the story this way, the reader gets the full impact of experiencing the fears, the situation brings, the joy of having Shane there, and the anguish of his leaving all through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy, with the adult overview that lets us know that Shane was not a hero—but he was to Bobby and those small time settlers who needed one so desperately. Yet, leaving was the only thing he could have done and kept Bobby’s view of him untarnished and intact.

Because we don’t know how the story will end, and we don’t know what to expect, we are learning about Shane’s character right along with Bobby so we are actively looking for details and descriptors the author might give us along the way—it will affect our opinion of Shane and let us know if Bobby is a reliable narrator, and it affects the outcome of the story.

I bring this up because in romance, seldom does the description have such a direct effect on the story itself, unless our main characters have scars, afflictions, or disabilities that might have some direct bearing on the story and its outcome.
So what do you think? Do you like a lot of description and detail about the WHR heroes you read about, or would you rather “fill in the blanks” for yourself?

As far as heroines go, most people I’ve talked to are not as concerned wither physical description (maybe because each person sees herself in the heroine?) but are more concerned with her personality traits—is she likable? Is she determined?

If she is not a fierce match for the hero, the story line is doomed.

And what about our hero? Though he can get away with more “questionable” traits, he has to be endowed with almost superhuman strength to overcome everything that’s thrown his way, and that is description that must be thoroughly detailed—not left to the reader’s interpretation.
(I apologize for the Amazon links being all over the place--I could not get them to "stick" under the book covers.)

Monday, March 11, 2019

March Old West Trivia by Kaye Spencer #WesternFictioneers #trivia #OldWestHistory

Just for fun, here are twenty tidbits of Old West history trivia for the month of March.

March 2, 1836 - Texas Independence Day

March 6, 1836 - Battle of the Alamo

Ballad of the Alamo, Marty Robbins

March 2, 1861 - John Butterfield's Overland Mail Company received a government contract for daily mail service to the west coast.

March 6, 1887 - Southern-Pacific Railroad offered a new one-way, $12 fare from Missouri to California. Price wars soon drove the fare down to $1.

March 7, 1885 - Kansas law made it illegal to drive Texas cattle into the state from March 1 to December 1 in an effort to stop hoof-and-mouth disease epidemic

March 9, 1916 - Revolutionary leader Pancho Villa attacked the border town of Columbus, New Mexico.
Pancho Villa
Unknown, Pancho villa horseback, marked as public domain,
more details on Wikimedia Commons

March 10, 1871 - Construction began on the Denver and Rio Grande Railway

March 11, 1867 - A pony express-type route was established between Helen, Montana Territory and Minneapolis, Minnesota

March 13, 1878 - Fire destroyed part of Abilene, Kansas

March 15, 1881 - Abilene, Texas was officially established by the Texas & Pacific Railroad along with west Texas cattlemen.

March 15, 1883 - Cheyenne, Wyoming: Lillie Langtry (Judge Roy Bean idolized her) played at the Cheyenne Opera House
Lillie Langtry
Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, As in a Looking-Glass 1887,
marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
March 16, 1903 - Judge Roy Bean died in Langry, Texas. He was 78. He called himself the "law west of the Pecos".
Judge Phantly Roy Bean, Jr.
Unknown, Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. ,
marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
March 16, 1874 - In Missouri, Pinkerton Detective Agengy lost two agents in a shoot-out with the Younger Brothers. John Younger died.

March 18, 1880 - Arizona Territory: Southern Pacific Railroad of Arizona and New Mexico was completed to Tucson, which connected to the San Francisco & Pacific Railroad lines

March 18, 1852 - Wells, Fargo & Company was established in response to the California gold rush. Wells Fargo eventually becomes the leading freight and banking company in the west

March 19, 1848 - Born: Wyatt Earp in Monmouth, Illinois
Wyatt Earp (left) with friend John Clum (right) 1900 Nome, Alaska
Unknown, EarpinNome, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons
March 19-1916 - Eight American planes take off in pursuit of Pancho Villa. This became the first United States air-combat mission.

March 20, 1880 - Tucson, Arizona Territory: The first Southern Pacific train arrived in town. The event caused quite a celebration.

March 22, 1886 - Seattle, Washington and Abilene, Kansas get electricity. An Abilene newspaper reporter wrote that he doubted the citizenry had a serious interest in using electric lights.

And a day of venerated observance in my family—

March 22, 1908 - Born: Western writer Louis L'Amour.

Louis L'Amour
By Source, Fair use,
 My top ten favorite Louis L'Amour books are:

1. The Man Called Noon.
2. The Keylock Man
3. How the West was Won
4. Down the Long Hills
5. Last Stand at Papago Wells
6. Conagher
7. The Shadow Riders
8. Sitka
9. Dark Canyon
10. Haunted Mesa

What is your favorite Louis L'Amour story?

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Old West Recipes: Desserts

And for our final post, let’s look at some dessert recipes from the Old West. 

Black Pudding

6 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup sweet milk
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix well. Pour into a 1-pound can and steam for two to three hours by placing into a kettle of boiling water. Keep covered.

This is to be served with a vinegar sauce:

1 cup sugar
1 tbsp flour
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vinegar
2 slightly beaten eggs

Add enough boiling water to sugar, flour, nutmeg, butter and vinegar to make the amount of sauce desired. Add eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce reaches the desired consistency.

Potato Pie

¼ pound of potatoes
1 quart milk
3 tsp butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
Sugar and nutmeg to taste

Boil potatoes until tender, then peel and rub them through a sieve. Add the rest of the ingredients and bake as you would a custart pie.

Sorghum Cake

2 tbsp butter
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sorghum molasses
½ cup water
½ tsp baking soda
2 cups flour

Mix butter and sugar then add eggs. In a separate bowl mix molasses, water and baking soda. Combine all ingredients together. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Sweet Potato Pie

Boil sweet potatoes until well done. Peel and slice them very thin. Line a deep pie pan with good, plain pastry and arrange the sliced potatoes in layers, dotting with butter and sprinkling sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg over each layer, using at least ½ cup of sugar. Pour over 3 tablespoons of whiskey and about ½ cup of water. Cover with pastry and bake. Serve warm.

Plum Pudding Sauce

Glass of brandy
2 oz. of fresh butter
Glass of Madeira*
Pounded sugar to taste

Mix sugar with part of the brandy and the butter. Warm until butter and sugar are dissolved, then add the rest of the brandy. Either pour it over the pudding or serve it in a tureen.

*The recipe makes no further mention of the Madeira. I don’t know if you add it to the mixture or simply drink the glassful!

Spotted Pup Pudding

Take whatever amount needed for hungry cowboys of fluffy, cooked rice. Put in a Dutch oven and cover with milk and well-beaten eggs. Add a dash of salt, raisins and a little nutmeg and vanilla. Sweeten well with sugar. Bake in a slow oven until egg mixture is done and raisins are soft. 

Red Bean Pie

1 cup cooked and mashed pinto beans
1 cup sugar
3 beaten egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg

Place combined ingredients in an uncooked pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Make a meringue with leftover egg whites. Spread over baked pie and return to oven to brown.

Chocolate Caramels
(from a recipe in the Albuquerque Evening Citizen, Oct. 23, 1893)

Boil together a pound of white sugar, a quarter of a pound of chocolate, four tablespoons of molasses, a cup of sweet milk, and a piece of butter as big as a walnut. When it will harden in water, flavor with vanilla and pour on a buttered slab. When nearly cold, cut in squares.

Pie Plant (Rhubarb) Pie

3 cups pie plant (rhubarb)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp full flour
1 tsp full butter
Pie crust for top and bottom

Wash pie plant. Do not skin. Cut into small pieces. Mix sugar and flour well with pie plant. Place in crust and dot with butter. Cover with upper crust and bake.

J.E.S. Hays