Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Wrap up - Year End

Post by Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Photo (C) Doris McCraw

Five days, just five more days left to 2023, and then on to 2024. It has been a year. 

Let's begin by finishing the story of the De La Vergne family, specifically Edward, the son of  George W. from the Fish Farm story.

Edward was one of the first to invest in the Cripple Creek Mining District. Some stories claim he was the one who located the first paying gold. After Robert (Bob) Womack located the mineral in Starvation Gulch he decided to invest despite what others were saying about the danger of another hoax.

Image from Find a Grave

He was born in 1846 in Marietta, Ohio, the youngest of ten children. He moved to Colorado Springs, in 1878 with the rest of the family. During his time in Cripple Creek, he was vice president and general manager of the Elkton Mining and Milling Company along with owning additional mining properties.  

Like many others, De La Vergne was involved in community affairs and politics. By 1904 he was elected to the State Senate and served until 1908 when his term ended.

He married Alice Hook in 1896 who was born in England in 1864.

Edward died in September 1917.

With that end tied up the rest of the year will be devoted to where I want to take my writing in 2024.

I would like to resume the author biographies, especially the new members. Also, if I'd asked you to participate earlier and didn't get it posted, let me know. I'm in the process of migrating files over to a new system and don't want to overlook anyone.

As 2023 ends, what are your plans for the coming year?

As always:

Until Next Time Stay Safe & Stay Well


Thursday, December 7, 2023

On This Day in the Old West: December 8

 Let’s talk outlaws this December. On December 8, 1874, the infamous Jesse James and the Younger gang robbed the Kansas Pacific Railroad in Muncie, Kansas. They made off with $55,000, which would be over $1,200,000 in today’s dollars! This robbery makes the claim of the Tishomingo Savings Bank of Corinth, Mississippi that they were robbed by the James-Younger gang on December 7 seem highly unlikely. That establishment only lost $10,000.

Jesse Woodson James was born in Missouri in 1847. His father was a Baptist minister, Robert James, and his mother, a Kentucky native named Zerelda Cole James. In 1850, Jesse’s father traveled to California to preach in the gold mining camps. Unfortunately, soon after the family’s arrival, Robert fell ill and died. Zerelda was left with three small children—Jesse, his future partner-in-crime Frank, and their sister Susan—and was plunged into “perilous financial straits.” Zerelda tried marrying a wealthy, older man, but the marriage didn’t last and she moved her family back to her first husband’s farm and married again in 1855. She was to have four more children with her third husband, and after Jesse and Frank grew up to become outlaws, Zerelda remained their staunch supporter.


Jesse’s older brother Frank fought in the Civil War with the pro-secession Missouri State Guard, then joined a band of Confederate guerrillas known as “bushwhackers,” who carried out attacks against Union sympathizers on the Missouri frontier. In 1863, while at his family’s farm, a teenage Jesse was ambushed and horsewhipped, and his stepfather hanged from a tree by Union militiamen seeking the whereabouts of Frank and his fellow insurgents. Miraculously, the stepfather, Dr. Archie Samuel, survived his torture.


By age 16, Jesse followed Frank as a marauding bushwhacker, with both joining a ruthlessly violent gang led by William “Bloody Bill” Anderson. Jesse was shot in the chest in 1865 during a skirmish with Union troops near Lexington, Missouri, a month after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered. After being nursed back to health by his cousin Zerelda “Zee” Mimms, with whom he would later marry and father two children, Jesse banded with Frank and other former guerillas to rob banks, stagecoaches, and trains.


During an 1869 bank robbery in Gallatin—the incident that first brought Jesse public notice as an outlaw—Jesse shot and killed the cashier, thinking the man was Samuel Cox, commander of the pro-Union militia troops who had “Bloody Bill” Anderson in 1964. After this heist, an influential pro-Confederate newspaper editor, John Newman Edwards, befriended Jesse and went on to promote the former bushwhacker as a hero and “defiant Southern patriot of the Reconstruction era.” Jesse himself wrote letters to newspapers defending his actions. Through his articles and editorials, Edwards helped create the myth of Jesse James as a Robin Hood figure, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor (a myth historians have debunked).


After Jesse and Frank robbed a train in January 1874, the Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency was called in to hunt them down. In March, a detective searching for Jesse and Frank was found dead, while another agent who pursued the brothers’ fellow gang members Cole and Robert Younger was also killed. Catching the James brothers became a personal mission for Allan Pinkerton, an abolitionist who “had aided slaves on the Underground Railroad, uncovered a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln, and gathered military intelligence for the federal government during the Civil War. 


Shortly after midnight on January 25, 1875, a group of Pinkertons, acting on an outdated tip that Jesse and Frank were at their mother’s farm, raided the place. They threw a smoke bomb into the farmhouse, setting off an explosion that killed Jesse and Frank’s eight-year-old half-brother and caused their mother to lose part of one arm. Following this raid, public support for Jesse and Frank increased. The Missouri state legislature even came close to passing a bill offering amnesty to the two. The brothers also launched an intimidation campaign against their perceived enemies near Zerelda’s farm and in April, one of her neighbors, a former Union militiaman who had assisted the Pinkertons prepare for their raid, was shot to death. Allan Pinkerton never resumed his hunt for the James brothers.


The James-Younger gang came to its violent end attempting to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota. They targeted the bank after learning that Adelbert Ames, a former Union general and Republican governor of Reconstruction-era Mississippi, had recently moved to the town. Ames was rumored to have recently deposited $75,000 into the bank. During the attempted robbery, three members of the gang entered the bank and demanded the safe be opened, but the cashier refused. Meanwhile, townspeople outside got wind that a holdup was taking place and engaged in a shootout with the rest of the gang stationed on the street.


In the end, the gang killed the cashier and a passerby, while two bandits were shot to death by townsfolk before the rest of the outlaws fled. Two weeks later, the Younger brothers were captured, and another gang member killed in a gunfight near Madelia, Minnesota. The James brothers, who had split with the Youngers (and were the only gang members not caught or killed following the failed robbery), laid low for the next few years, living in Tennessee under assumed names. However, in 1879, Jesse recruited a new gang and began a fresh crime spree.


Jesse met his end when two of his new gang members conspired to betray him in his rented home in St. Joseph, Missouri. His wife and two children were in a nearby room when he was shot. Bob Ford, whose brother Charley was already a member of the gang, had arranged with Missouri’s governor to take down Jesse in exchange for a reward. The public was transfixed by Jesse’s murder and Bob and Charley soon began reenacting the event in a traveling show.


Following Jesse James’ death, speculation lingered that it was a faked event and someone else was buried in his grave. In 1995, scientists exhumed his supposed remains from Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri (where his remains had been transferred from the original site on the family farm). After DNA testing, the researchers concluded that the exhumed remains were “almost certainly those of the infamous outlaw.”


Your characters would almost certainly have heard of Jesse James, maybe even read a newspaper report of his escapades or of his passing.

J.E.S. Hays



Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Classic Country Ballads of Lost Love Series Finale – Two Songs to end the year on a happy note #westernfictioneers #countryballads #classiccountrymusic

I wrote an article every month this past year in which I shared my thoughts on classic country ballads that told the stories of tragically lost love. To jog our musical memories, here is the list with the links to those blog articles.


January – Marty Robbins – El Paso and Feleena
February – Faron Young – TheYellow Bandana
March – Willie Nelson and Ray Charles – 
Seven Spanish Angels
April – Marty Robbins – San Angelo
May – Billy Walker – Cross the Brazos at Waco
June – Billy Walker – Matamoros
July – Marty Robbins – Running Gun
August – Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger
September – Marty Robbins – They’re Hanging Me Tonight
October – Lefty Frizzell – Long Black Veil
November – Johnny Cash – Give My Love to Rose

Here we are in December, and we’ve reached the series finale of country ballads of lost love.

My end-of-year blogging gift to myself and to you, my faithful readers, is to end the year on a positive musical note. I’m leaving us with a happy ever after feeling with these two songs that tell the stories of how two couples found a way around seemingly insurmountable obstacles to make it to their Happy Ever After.

The two songs are Saginaw, Michigan and Meet Me Tonight in Laredo.

Saginaw, Michigan was Lefty Frizell’s sixth and final number one U. S. country chart hit in 1964. The song was released in November 1963. Bill Anderson and Don Wayne wrote the song.

Saginaw, Michigan tells the story of the son of a poor fisherman in Saginaw, Michigan who falls in love with a rich man’s daughter. Her father forbids her to have anything to do with our young fisherman. But our young man is resourceful, and he takes off for Alaska to find a fortune in the gold mines. When his hopes of finding gold are crushed, he concocts a scheme to return home under the guise of having struck it rich. The wealthy man is a greedy fool and he asks Will you sell your father-in-law your Klondike claim? The deal is made and the wealthy man goes to Alaska to dig for the nonexistent gold.

It serves him right and no one here is missing him
Least of all the newlyweds of Saginaw, Michigan.

To reference a quote from Hannibal Smith, I love it when a happy ever after plan comes together. ;-)

This next song is my favorite classic country song as well as my favorite Marty Robbins song.

Meet Me Tonight in Laredo

Mabel Cordle and Ronny Robbins wrote Meet Me Tonight in Laredo. Marty released it on The Drifter album in July 1966.

This song tells the story of a woman who meets a wild Comanchero by chance one night in Laredo. We get the idea right away that she’s in love with this man, because people tell her he had lived the outlaw life and if she hooks up with him her life will consist of nothing but toil and hardships and heartaches and tears.

 But love finds a way and one day he sends her the message she’s been waiting for.

Meet me tonight in Laredo.
Wait ‘til the moon’s hanging low
Meet me tonight in Laredo
We’ll soon be in Old Mexico

They slip away through the darkness and ride deep into Mexico to begin their lives together.

The hands that once held a six gun are holding their baby tonight.

My gosh, but I love this song. I love it so much, in fact, that I wrote a novel based on the lyrics. The novel is The Comanchero’s Bride.


This is the scene in which the woman meets the Comanchero one night in Laredo…

The pause between songs interrupted her private ponderings, and Elizabeth realized Domingo Valderas was walking straight toward her across the dancing area. So intense was his gaze, it was clear she was his intended destination. Pleasant anticipation knotted inside her. His self-assured, swaggering gait suggested an earthy vitality she’d never encountered in any other man.

His ornately adorned black charro jacket hugged his broad shoulders and the ends of his midnight-black hair brushed the collar of the red shirt that opened low on his chest revealing a patch of dark curly hair. His flashy calzoneras hung long over his boots, and a black poblano dangled down his back by a cord around his neck. The silver conchos dotting the wide, black leather gun belt strapped around his narrow hips caught and reflected the wavering torchlight with glimmering sparkles. With each arrogant step, the rhythmical jingle-jangling twirl of his large-rowelled Mexican spurs against the stone plaza held her, enthralled, as a moth drawn to the flame.

 Upon reaching her, he took her right hand and with a pretentious bow, brought it to his lips for a light kiss. His grip was strong, yet gentle, his gaze penetrating to the very core of what made her a woman. The brash, simmering desire in his sultry eyes sent a tingling response shimmering through her body. His mustache quivered with a smile that provoked and beckoned her at the same time.

Buenas noches. I am Domingo Raoul Valderas y César, recently of Monterrey, Monclova, and Saltillo by way of Santa Fé and all locations in between. My friends call me Mingo. Your name, señorita?”

His English was strong and clear, although heavily accented with a deep, languid tone that washed over her, caressing her with intimate familiarity. This man was desire personified, and her body responded where words failed her.

His expression took on feigned alarm at her continued silence, and he swept his free hand histrionically to his chest. “No! Do I hold false hope…Señora? Tell me my heart will not be broken to learn that you belong to another.”


Thanks for sticking with me all year on this series endeavor. See you all in January 2024.

Until next year,
Kaye Spencer
Lasterday Stories
writing through history one romance upon a time

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

A Brief Story of Cripple Creek

Post (C) Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines


Deserted Building between Cripple Creek & Victor, CO 2018
(Photo property of  Doris McCraw)
I am resharing some history of Cripple Creek, a mining town in the Colorado Rockies, prior to the rest of the DeLaVergne story. Of course, you can't share Cripple Creek's history without including the whole mining district, which sits in an extinct volcano caldera. So here we go.

It was during a time of volcanic eruptions some thirty-five million years ago, that lava flowed through what became the Cripple Creek Mining District. However, for some unknown reason, the flow did not bring gold to the surface. Richard M. Pearl, PhD, a geology professor at Colorado College, believed that when convulsions in the earth’s crust caused cracks in the underground granite to appear the gold salts were deposited into the cracks and seams of that granite. Those ores that were created by the various eruptions of volcanic activity in the region were almost exclusively gold ores. There was some small amount of silver associated with the gold, but usually in negligible quantities.

Between 1842 and 1844 Capt. John C. Fremont explored the region and his travels around Pikes Peak took him into the Cripple Creek area. During the Hayden survey of the 1870s, there were some gold specimens found by H.T. Wood, a member of that survey. In 1874, Wood returned to the Cripple Creek district with other prospectors set about trying to find the source of the gold he'd initially found. Wood organized the district under the name of Mt. Pisgah. The hope was they could find the source of the gold 'float'. Despite their efforts, no one was successful in finding the source.

In 1871 the Welty family moved into the region. Welty and his sons built a cabin and corral near the stream that flows through the Cripple Creek area. They were followed by the Womack family who purchased the Welty squatter rights for $500 and claimed a second homestead two miles south of the Cripple Creek stream with Robert (Bob) building a cabin at the bottom of a ravine the Hayden Survey had named Poverty Gulch.

High Mountain Ranching
 (photo property of Doris McCraw)
Other families moved into the region but by the mid 1880's most of the settlers had left and/or returned to places they had on the plains east of Colorado Springs, which had become active in the cattle and sheep industry. The homesteads were purchased by the Pikes Peak Land and Cattle Company, a partnership composed of three local residents and Phillip Elsworth, an eastern glove manufacturer. When Elsworth visited the area in 1885 he felt his partners had misrepresented the company's holdings. He forced them to quit claim their shares and he put the land up for sale. It was purchased by the Denver real estate firm of Horace W. Bennett & Julius A. Myers for $5,000 down and $20,000 if and when it could be paid.

That same year, 1885, Myers & Bennett created the Houseman Cattle and Land Company and renamed the area the Broken Box Ranch. George Carr was hired as foreman and within two years a profitable ranching operation was in place. Bob Womack, however, remained on the piece of the Womack homestead in Poverty Gulch.

Of all the towns affected by the Cripple Creek volcano perhaps the most impacted were Cripple Creek and Victor. However at the height of the mining boom, around 1900, there were approximately 10 additional towns. Cripple Creek became the financial center and Victor the mining area.

The land that Bennett and Myers platted out, from their Broken Box Ranch site, after gold was found again, was originally planned to sell for $25 and $50 for corner lots. By 1891 when the boom hit, those $25 lots were selling for $250. Buildings were put up very quickly, using wood, with wood pulp or newsprint for insulation. Some of the poorer buildings had rugs or tent canvas for insulation. This set the stage for the devastation that was to come. As Dr. Lester Williams said in his book Cripple Creek Conflagrations “Neither time nor money had been wasted on a mere town, or living accommodations, there wasn't much emphasis on safety from fire, and the end result was that Cripple Creek was ripe to burn...”

And burn it did. By April of 1896 when the first fire hit, the area was so crowded that to get a room meant you had to hustle to find a place to stay. The streets were crowded with all manner of people from all walks of life. The hotels were unable to accommodate the influx, so travelers were having to resort to lodging houses, which were being built at an average of a dozen or so a week. The first fire started on April 25, 1896, and by nightfall, approximately fifteen acres had burned. On April 29, 1896, the second fire broke out and burned all but a small portion of the western part of the town. The damage from both fires was approximately $2,000,000 in 1896 dollars.

Despite the setback of the fires caused, Cripple Creek was rebuilt, this time with brick. The 'new and improved' Cripple Creek remained the commercial center of the district. Of the rebuilding, the city now had buildings that were valued at “three-quarters of a million,” and were considered to be a “glorious monument to the energy and enterprise” of the residents. The city was proud of the fact that it was a 'law-abiding' camp. The camp had schools, churches plus the 'tenderloin' district. If one saw 'six-shooters' it was more as a precaution as opposed to necessity.

After 1900 Cripple Creek began a slow decline and by 1960 the population had dropped considerably. 

Today Cripple Creek has seen a small boon with the coming of limited-stakes gambling. Traveling into the area, one will see the casinos but there is also the history of the region and the remembrance of “The World's Greatest Gold Camp”.

A brief note on Victor, Colorado the second important town in the district.

View from Victor, CO.
(photo property of Doris McCraw)
According to one publication “The town [of Victor] is beautifully located, and in the summer of 1893, when the natural scenery was yet undisturbed and the sweet perfumery of wildflowers was the only outgoing freight, one would have seemed much at fault in judgment had he predicted that $5,000,000 in gold would have been transported thence in 1895.”

Victor from the beginning has been known as the ‘city of mines’. In fact, it had a gold mine right in the middle of town. The Woods brothers, who founded the town, were in the process of building a “first-class hotel” when gold was found as they were digging the foundation. Instead of a hotel, the Gold Coin mine came into existence. As a mine in the middle of town, the building was built of brick and even had a stained glass window at the entrance. As much as possible the mine looked as if it belonged in the city.

Remnants of the Gold Coin Mine entrance
(Photo property of Doris McCraw)
Most of the major producing mines were located near Victor and during the town’s heyday of activity Victor Avenue was one of the best-known streets in the world. By 1896 just three years after being founded the city was the second largest in the region and had light, water, telegraph, and telephone service the same as Cripple Creek.

Due to the vicinity of the mines, a large portion of the population of Victor and nearby towns was composed of miners. The nearby town of Goldfield was considered the 'family' town, but Victor was a mining and milling center. In the early days men were known to pay one dollar to sleep on a pool table and stand in line to eat. The growth was explosive. By 1896, three years after its founding, Victor’s population had grown to approximately 8,000 people. Like Cripple Creek, the growth had been so fast the structures were mostly of wood. In 1899 Victor was hit with its own destructive fire. The devastation covered twelve blocks of the business district, composed of some 200 buildings including the original Gold Coin Mine building. It was estimated that 3,000 were left homeless. The fire burned for approximately three and a half hours. The total estimated cost of the fire in 1899 funds was $2,000,000. After the fire, in fact, beginning the very next day, Victor set about to rebuild. The debris was cleared and tents and makeshift temporary buildings were erected. Saloons and restaurants were almost immediately back in business. By noon the post office was up and running

Victor had become so well known that after the fire the “Colorado Road” arranged an excursion train to view the 'effect of the great fire' for $4.50. The trip would begin in Denver and travel to Cripple Creek and Victor on August 26 and return on August 27.

So there you have it, a very brief history of Cripple Creek and Victor. Also of note, there is still an active gold mine in the region, although it is an open pit mine.
Battle Mountain Mines, Victor, CO (USGS photo)
I shall leave you with the following quotes about mining and prospectors:

“Geologically Cripple Creek is a freak. It is erratic, eccentric, and full of whims and caprices. That is, it is so to the man of science and the miner of experience.”

“...geology, so far as the location of ore deposits was concerned, was an unknown quantity. The prospector was the sole mine seeker...He was the lone wolf of mining for he usually went on his own. He wanted no prying eyes to behold the long elusive pot of gold at the end of his rainbow...”


Geochronology of the central Colorado Volcanic field, Wm. C. McIntosh, Charles E Chapin, New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources, Bulletin 160, 2004
Gazette Telegraph May 20, 1973
Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs...Illustrated, Henry L Warren & Robert Stride, authors and publishers, 1896 
Cripple Creek Mining District, Robert Guilford Taylor, Filter Press, Palmer Lake, CO 1973 
Cripple Creek, A Quick History, Leland Feitz, Little London Press, Colo.Spgs. CO 1967 Cripple Creek Conflagrations, Lester L. Williams MD, Filter Press, Palmer Lake, Co 1994 
Cripple Creek Guide, April 25, 1896 
History of Cripple Creek, America's Most Famous Gold Camp, The Quarterly Sentinel Vol I, Denver, Co, Feb 1896, WC Calhoun, Publisher 
A Quick History of Victor, Leland Feitz, 1969 Little London Press, Colo.Spgs, CO
The Denver Evening Post, August 25, 1899 
The Daily Mining Record, February 23, 1894

Until Next Time Stay Safe & Stay Well


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Fall Dump Cake

Time: 2 hours 5 minutes Yield: 12 servings

Ah, fall is in the air... can't you smell it? Yes, we do mean smell and you'll understand why here in a minute! Load up your slow cooker with this Fall Dump Cake for the easiest, sweetest, autumn-flared scents to circulate your surroundings for hours. Not only does it smell like all your fall fantasies, but the way the syrupy apple filling blends so nicely with the crumbly, cinnamon-coated cake will have you dancing around like a leaf on a windy day. Your senses will totally fall for Fall Dump Cake! 'Tis the season!


2 (20-ounce) cans apple pie filling 1 (15.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon whipped topping, to taste, for topping


Step 1 In a slow cooker, add the apple pie filling.

Step 2 Evenly sprinkle the cake mix over the filling, then dot it all over with the butter cubes.

Step 3 Sprinkle the cinnamon over the apple mixture.

Step 4 Cover the slow cooker and cook on high heat until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden-brown, about 2 hours.

Step 5 Serve the dump cake with the whipped topping.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Thanksgiving in the Old West

 Everyone has heard of the First Thanksgiving, the three-day feast at Plymouth in 1621. But how did the American harvest festival end up the national holiday we all know and love? Of course, harvest celebrations are nothing new, but in the New World, pioneers were eager to create a holiday of their own. George Washington attempted to set up a Thanksgiving holiday, but the day didn’t gain much momentum until 1846, when Sarah Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, began a letter-writing campaign to establish the last Thursday in November as National Thanksgiving Day. It took 17 years, but eventually her pleas fell on the ears of President Abraham Lincoln, who issued a proclamation on October 3, 1863, designating Thanksgiving Day.

So, how would your characters have celebrated the holiday? Why, with a feast, of course. Menu items from restaurants to home tables would have included many of the traditional favorites we still enjoy today, such as turkey, cranberry sauce, and mince, apple, or pumpkin pies. Hotels in Kansas City, Missouri outdid themselves in 1888. Their menu included Blue Point oysters, little neck clams, calf’s brains, buffalo tongue, red snapper, black bass, salmon, capon, turkey duck, ribs of beef, veal, quail stuffed with truffles, elk, squirrel, opossum, shrimp, pompano, asparagus, artichokes, puddings, pies, ice cream, macaroons, and Roquefort and Edam cheeses.


The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book of 1845, by Mrs. E.A. Howland, urged readers to serve the following Thanksgiving Dinner: Roast Turkey, stuffed; A Pair of Chickens, stuffed, and boiled, with cabbage and a piece of lean pork; A Chicken Pie; Potatoes; turnip sauce, squash; onions; gravy and gravy sauce; apple and cranberry sauce; oyster sauce brown and white bread; Plum and Plain Pudding, with Sweet sauce; Mince, Pumpkin and Apple Pies; Cheese.


The Golden Lamb in Ohio, served a Thanksgiving menu that included several oyster dishes (including plain oysters), such as consommé oysters as well as turkey stuffed with oysters. Other dishes were whitefish, roast beef, chicken croquettes, wild duck, broiled quail, celery and lettuce (plain or with mayonnaise), plum pudding, mince pie, pineapple with “De Brie cheese” and Charlotte Russe (a dessert of sweet cream and sponge cake popular during the Victorian and Edwardian periods).


And in Buckeye Cookery, Estelle Woods Wilcox suggested that the perfect Thanksgiving dinner included oyster soup; boiled fresh cod with egg sauce; roast turkey, cranberry sauce; roast goose, bread sauce or currant jelly; stuffed ham, apple sauce or jelly; pork and beans; mashed potatoes and boiled onions, salsify, macaroni and cheese; brown bread and superior biscuit; lobste4r salad; pressed beef, cold corned beef, tongue; celery, cream slaw; watermelon, peach, pear, or apple sweet-pickles; mangoes, cucumbers, chow-chow, and tomato catsup; stewed peaches or prunes; doughnuts and ginger cakes; mince, pumpkin, and peach pies; plum and boiled Indian puddings; apple, cocoa-nut or almond tarts; vanilla ice-cream;; old-fashioned loaf cake, pound cake, black cake, white perfection cake, ribbon cake, almond layer cake; citron, peach, plum, or cherry preserves; apples, oranges, figs, grapes, raisins, and nuts; tea and coffee.

So your characters would have eaten well on the holiday, even if their meal wasn't exactly what we'd serve today. Much of their Thanksgiving feast would have included whatever they could catch or raise, which may or may not include turkey. But you can certainly have your characters celebrating with a feast.

J.E.S. Hays



Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Classic Country Ballads of Lost Love – Give My Love to Rose #westernfictioneers #countryballads #classiccountrymusic

I grew up in the late 50s and 60s listening to the country music of that era. I stuck with country music through the 70s. I made it into the 80s but, by the late 80s, country music as I knew and loved was headed in a direction that, with a few exceptions, I wasn’t interested going. So I didn’t. (Get off my lawn.)

 The old west gunfighter and trail ballads, drinking songs, and revenge songs had an influence on me that was, and still is, every bit as strong as the impact Louis L’Amour’s books left with me. My lifelong interest, perhaps fascination bordering on obsession, with everything old west—truth, legends, and myths alike—have roots in those old cowboy and country songs.

 I’m inviting you to read along with me this year as I post one or two nostalgic-for-me country ballads on the first Wednesday of each month. I will share a snippet of trivia about each song along with a YouTube video.

 Each month, I will include a link back to the previous month’s article as reference to those songs. The common thread that runs among the songs I’ve chosen for this musical memory lane excursion is tragic lost love.

January – Marty Robbins – El Paso and Feleena
February – Faron Young – TheYellow Bandana
March – Willie Nelson and Ray Charles – 
Seven Spanish Angels
April – Marty Robbins – San Angelo
May – Billy Walker – Cross the Brazos at Waco
June – Billy Walker – Matamoros
July – Marty Robbins – Running Gun
August – Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger
September – Marty Robbins – They’re Hanging Me Tonight
October – Lefty Frizzell – Long Black Veil

Give My Love to Rose is the song for November. It was written by Johnny Cash. He recorded and released it in 1957. It was the “B” side of his single Home of the Blues. In 2002, Cash re-recorded Give My Love to Rose, which garnered him his fourth Grammy Award.

According to Cash, he came up with the basic idea for the song after having had a conversation with an inmate at San Quentin State Prison. The prisoner had asked Cash to give a message to his wife. From there, Cash wrote the story of a released convict traveling home to reunite with his wife and son. The former prisoner is either terminally ill or somehow injured, and he collapses along the railroad tracks. The song’s narrator finds him, listens to the dying man’s last requests, and presumably conveys that message to his family.

Until we meet again,

Kaye Spencer
Lasterday Stories
writing through history one romance upon a time

Wednesday, October 25, 2023


Post by Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Photo from Find a Grave

Of the many things that Colorado Springs is known for, one of the most unique, given the fact that Colorado Springs sits in a High Plains desert, is that one Col. George De La Vergne had a series of fish ponds.

An article in the local paper, Colorado Springs Gazette, from March 27, 1879, discussed visiting his business. The following is a description of the reporter's visit to these ponds.

"We first saw a pond in which there were about 70 mountain trout, caught by the Col. himself in the mountains, and brought to this place. Other ponds contained about 200 more of these trout. Most of these are two years old, and of good size for eating, but they will be kept for reproducing purposes. They reproduce very rapidly, one female trout laying at least 500 eggs. Near the mountain trout is a hospital where the sick trout are successfully treated on allopathic principles.

A little distance off are three other ponds containing about 1300 brook trout which were bought a few months ago in Denver from a party who had brought them from the East. The brook trout are decidedly the "gamest" of the trout species. We were much interested in seeing them partake of a little lunch of beef liver. Some of them would jump clear out of the water to grab a piece held over the water, while over the long pieces there would be a terrific struggle for full possession between two or three trout who might have hold of it.

Next we went into the nursery, a covered stone building, which was filled with youngsters. There were about 55,000 baby brook trout and 3,500 Lake Trout. It will be about two years before these fish will be large enough to send to market."

 Col. De La Vergne was born in New York on October 18, 1800. He died in Colorado Springs, CO. on January 15, 1893, of pneumonia. In his lifetime De La Vergne was more than just a fish farmer, but for Colorado Springs, this was an interesting way to make money.

His son, Edward Morton De La Vergne, is known as one of the first men to invest in what became the Cripple Creek Mining District. His story will follow later.

Until Next Time Stay Safe & Stay Well


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Several years ago, about ten or so, I wrote a book called “The Half-Breed’s Woman” about our hero, U.S. Deputy Marshal Jaxson McCall, who was the son of a white man and an Indian woman. Brought up in Indian Territory, he’s lived a very hard-knock life with his younger brother, Brendan, who is also a deputy marshal.

The heroine is a young debutante from Washington, D.C., Callie Buchanan, whose stepfather, Dunstan Treadwell, has nefarious plans for her now that she is eighteen. She is on the run (who wouldn’t be?) and Treadwell hires Jaxson to track Callie down and return her to him.

Jaxson takes the job, but things get complicated, and soon they are both in danger.

As the years passed, I thought of so many things I wanted to change in this book. Writers do that, many times—and a “do-over” is not always possible. BUT, in my case, I was able to do just that, and what fun I had with this!

I’m re-releasing this fabulous story under a new title and cover, A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE. It’s full of surprises and action, and one of the most poignant love stories ever.

It’s one of my favorite stories, and I have plans, still, to write sequels as to what happens to these characters—they are some of my very favorite creations. I hope you will feel the same.

Here’s the blurb—it tells the gist of the story much better than I can in the space I have:

A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE--A sensual western historical romance that draws you in and won't let go.

  U.S. Deputy Marshal Jaxson McCall is hired by Dunstan Treadwell, a powerful government official, to track down his runaway stepdaughter, debutante Callie Buchanan. When Jax realizes he’s been double-crossed by Callie’s stepfather, he doubles down to protect Callie from an evil nemesis from his own past who has been hired to kill them both.

The stakes have changed: Treadwell doesn’t want Callie back—he wants her dead. And the man coming after them is a master at murder.

Jax catches up to Callie in Fort Smith, and none too soon, for Wolf Blocker, the man Treadwell has hired to murder his stepdaughter and Jax, is one step ahead of them—and he’s got assassination on his mind. Jax and Callie set out on the stagecoach for Texas, neither of them able to be honest about their circumstances. With Blocker on their trail and Apaches ahead of them, the future is uncertain.

One thing Jaxson knows: he cannot take Callie back to Washington to face an attempted murder charge. Matters are further complicated when Jax and Callie are forced into marriage by worried Cavalry Captain Alan Tolbert to avoid the trouble he believes Treadwell could cause.

Through all the pretense, the hardships, and the deadly danger, one thing becomes obvious. Callie and Jaxson were meant to be together for this new beginning, for this new forever love that neither of them had ever hoped to find. Will they live long enough to see it through?

Have you ever read a story or seen a movie that had characters so REAL that they stayed with you long after the book was finished, or the movie had ended? What characters have stayed in your heart and mind long after the story was over?

A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE--KINDLE LINK: https://tinyurl.com/yn85vnkk

A MARSHAL FOR CALLIE--PAPERBACK LINK: https://tinyurl.com/mryt2fwf

CHERYL'S AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  https://tinyurl.com/2k7xeddt

Thursday, October 12, 2023

On This Day in the Old West: October 13

 October 13, 1792 marks the beginning of an American institution: The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The periodical’s first editor, Robert B. Thomas, published the very first edition on this date in 1792, during George Washington’s first term as US President. Although many other almanacs were being published at that time, Thomas’ The Old Farmer’s Almanac became an instant success. It cost only 6 pence (about 9 cents), and by the second year, circulation had tripled (from 3,000 to 9.000). Published every year since, it is now the oldest continually published periodical in the United States.


An almanac, by definition, records and predicts astronomical events (like sunrise/sunset), tides, weather, and other phenomena with respect to time. So what made The Old Farmer’s Almanac so different? Since Thomas’ format wasn’t all that original, we can only surmise that his astronomical and weather predictions were more accurate, the advice more useful, and the features more entertaining. 


Thomas used a complex series of natural cycles to devise a secret weather forecasting formula, still in use today, which brought amazingly accurate results, said to be as much as 80 percent accurate. His last edition, in 1846, was not that much different from his first, over 50 years earlier. However, in those 50 years, Thomas established The Old Farmer’s Almanac as America’s leading periodical by outselling and outlasting the competition. Thomas died at the age of 80, supposedly reading page proofs for the 1847 edition of the almanac.


Every September, The Old Farmer’s Almanac publishes weather forecasts, planting charts, astronomical data, recipes, and articles. Topics include gardening, sports, astronomy, folklore, and predictions on trends in fashion, food, home, technology, and living for the coming year. Few people, other than the Almanac’sprognosticators, have ever seen Thomas’ secret formula for predicting the weather. It is kept in a black tin box at the Almanac offices in Dublin, New Hampshire.


The publication was not always “Old,” however. At first, it was simply known as The Farmer’s Almanac. However, in 1832, with his publication having survived longer than similarly-named competitors, Thomas inserted the word “Old” in the title, later dropping it from the title of the 1836 edition. After his death in 1846, John Henry Jenks was appointed editor, and, in 1848, changed the title of the book permanently and officially to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. In 1851, Jenks made another change to the Almanac when he featured a “four seasons” drawing on the cover by Boston artist Hammatt Billings, engraved by Henry Nichols. Jenks dropped the new cover for three years, but then reinstated it permanently in 1855. This trademarked desing is still in use today.


An interesting anecdote has lawyer Abraham Lincoln using The Old Farmer’s Almanac to free his client from murder charges in 1858. William “Duff” Armstrong was on trial for murder in Beardstown, Illinois. Lincoln used an almanac, supposedly The Old Farmer’s Almanac, to refute the testimony of Charles Allen, an eyewitness who claimed he had seen the crime by the light of the moon. The book stated that not only was the Moon in the first quarter, but it was riding “low” on the horizon, about to set. There was no way Allen could have seen Lincoln’s client.


With The Old Farmer’s Almanac in continuous publication since 1792, any of your characters could have read this periodical, depended on its forecasts, or just noted its articles. You could even use the information contained in this post to date the exact cover and title your character would have seen. Robert B. Thomas’ creation has withstood the test of time.


J.E.S. Hays