Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Emma F. Langdon and the Power of Words

Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo property of the Author

THE state of Colorado ceased under the administration of James H. Peabody, to be republican in its form of government, and became a military oligarchy. The expressed will of the people was ignored by their chosen representatives; thus bringing upon the state a series of calamities, the magnitude of which may now readily be seen.”

The above is taken from the introduction to Emma's book “The Cripple Creek Strike, A History of Industrial Wars in Colorado 1903-4-5”. Regardless of your belief in who was right or wrong during this tumultuous time, this book is considered the definitive work on the region and events of the time and area. That it is written by a woman makes it even more amazing.

Here then is the story of Emma F. Langdon.

Emma was born September 29, 1875, in Tennessee. She married Charles Langdon, born June 9, 1870, in 1896. She also became a stepmother to Lucille M. Lockett with this marriage. In 1900 the family was residing in Junction City Kansas.

In 1903 Emma and her husband moved to Victor, Colorado, and worked at the Victor Daily Record. Although Emma had said a woman belonged at home and not in public life, her sentiment was not to be.

On May 15, 1893, in Butte Montana, the Western Federation of Miners was born. It was comprised of forty delegates from fifteen unions from the states of Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, and South Dakota. Approximately six months later the unions negotiated shorter work days (eight hours) and an increase in pay ($3.25 a day) in the Cripple Creek-Victor area. In 1903 the tensions between miners and mine owners increased. The union supported the smelter workers who were working long hours and less pay.

The situation became so volatile that the mine owners censored and arrested anyone who opposed their edits. This resulted in the workers at the Victor Daily Record being rounded up so that this pro-union newspaper could not put out the next issue. When Emma was told of the 'arrest' she went to the paper and that night barricaded herself in, set type, and put out the paper on schedule. When she delivered the issue to the men who had been taken to the 'bullpen' the laughter of the captors changed and the incarcerated rejoiced.

In 1904 when the strike ended those who had supported the union were requested to leave. Emma moved to Denver Colorado where she remained until her death on November 30, 1937. She continued her work on behalf of the union.

The story of the Labor Wars in Colorado is full of people from both sides that made their mark on the region's history. From 1893-1914 and the Ludlow massacre, Colorado was a hotbed of conflict between the haves and have-nots with errors in judgment on both sides. Not an easy read, but a fascinating one.

Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy.


Wednesday, April 19, 2023


Hi everyone! I've got a new book releasing tomorrow, a sweet romance story that takes place in Indian Territory in 1899. It's part of a series with several other authors who blog at PETTICOATS & PISTOLS.

My story is third in the series and was a lot of fun to write. The series involves a legendary pink pistol--the grip is a pale shade of pink mother-of-pearl, and the legend is that the woman who grips it will fall in love--a true, lasting forever love. Is it true? Does it work that way? There are ten of us writing our own versions of what happens when the pistol comes along to the heroine in our stories, and the series spans the years from when Miz Annie Oakley is given the pistol by the maker and passes it along. The pistol is handed down through the years from that time to present day, and there are some wonderful adventures and great reading.

Tomorrow is my release day and I am so excited!
In my story, LOVE UNDER FIRE, Johnny Houston is a cavalry captain who is only a few days from mustering out of the military. Because he's a scout and is very familiar with Indian Territory, having been raised there, he is given the assignment of escorting the sharpshooting Krissy Donovan to an orphanage for a benefit she's giving for the children. Johnny is not happy about the assignment, but he understands he's the best man for the job. Krissy just wants to get home to North Carolina and plan her wedding. As it turns out, their journey together is the best thing that's ever happened to either of them. Have you ever had a dreaded situation that turned out to be something you were thankful for instead? What was it? (I'll go first--mine was having to move to West Virginia my senior year in high school after living in Oklahoma all my life. BUT--I met my future husband there and we've been married 44 years now!)

LOVE UNDER FIRE AMAZON LINK: https://tinyurl.com/4ax46m6x
Krissy was actually trained by Miz Oakley, in my story. Did you know that Annie Oakley taught over 15,000 women to shoot during her lifetime? Krissy is coming west from Raleigh, NC, to put on a shooting exhibition. Her father has inadvertently put her in danger, and when he realizes it, wires Ft. Smith to ask for an escort for her. Johnny Houston is chosen, since he spent a few years at the orphanage when he was young. And, of course the pink pistol manages to come along and...everything changes.
Wish me luck on this new venture!

Thursday, April 13, 2023

On This Day in the Old West: April 14

 On April 14, 1841, the very first detective story was published. As we’re writers, I thought this would be interesting to learn about—and your characters might even have read the story, which was called “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and was written by none other than the famous Edgar Allen Poe.

The story was published in Graham’s Magazine and Poe described it as one of his “tales of ratiocination.” The detective, C. Auguste Dupin, is from Paris. As the very first fictional detective, Dupin displays traits which later became literary conventions for detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Many later characters, for example, follow Poe’s model of the brilliant detective, including the sidekick narrator and the “big reveal” where the detective first spotlights the villain, then explains his rationale for the choice.


The story opens with an explanation of the analytical art of deduction by the unnamed narrator. He then explains how he met Dupin and shared a house with him, during which time Dupin showed his deductive reasoning by deducing the narrator’s thoughts based on clues from the man’s previous words and actions. They then read about a baffling murder case in the newspaper. A woman and her daughter were found murdered at their home on the Rue Morgue. The murders took place in a fourth-floor room locked from the inside, and within the room were found a bloody straight razor, tufts of bloody gray hair, and two bags of gold coins.


Several witnesses say they’d heard voices in the room at the time of the murder. One, male, spoke French, but the second voice spoke an unknown language. The bank clerk who’d delivered the coins to the women is arrested, despite no further evidence linking him to the crime. Dupin, remembering a service the clerk had once performed, determines to prove him innocent.

Dupin decides that the unknown voice (the one not speaking French) is not a human voice at all. He and the narrator examine the scene for clues and Dupin points out that robbery was obviously not a motive because of the coins left behind. He also says the murderer had to have superhuman strength because of the condition of the bodies (one was stuffed up a chimney). He also had to enter and exit the house via the open fourth-floor windows, which involved an agile climb up a lightning rod. Based on the tuft of hair he finds, Dupin concludes that an orangutan is the guilty party and advertises in the newspaper for someone who has lost one.


A sailor shows up, looking for the primate, and even offers a reward for its capture, but Dupin is interested only in solving the crime. The sailor tells him that the orangutan had been trying to imitate his shaving routine with his straight razor, then escaped and fled down the Rue Morgue, where it clambered into the women’s apartment and tried to shave one of them. She, naturally, resisted, so the orangutan murdered her, then turned on her daughter before the sailor managed to climb up to the rooms himself. The voices witnesses heard were those of the sailor and the orangutan.

With the true villain unmasked, the bank clerk is freed from jail and Dupin emerges victorious, his brains having outwitted the brawn of the orangutan and, to a lesser extent, its cruel owner. This paved the way for the intelligent detective, relying on clues and motive rather than brute force. 


Poe explains the method used by his detective, ratiocination, as follows: "the extent of information obtained; lies not so much in the validity of the inference as in the quality of the observation.” This method also relies on the written word. Dupin’s curiosity is aroused by reading a newspaper account of the murder, and he recalls information about orangutans he has previously read in “an article by Cuvier” (probably Georges Cuvier, the French zoologist). This also includes the reader, who follows along by virtue of the written story’s clues. Poe also emphasized the spoken word, having Dupin interview the sailor as to the facts of the crime.

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” created many of the tropes used in modern mysteries: the brilliant (but eccentric) detective, the bumbling police officers, the narration by a close friend, and the device of presenting the solution first, followed by the clues leading to that solution. This is also the first “locked room” mystery story. The Pennsylvania Inquirer printed that "it proves Mr Poe to be a man of genius... with an inventive power and skill, of which we know no parallel."  Poe, however, downplayed his achievement in a letter to Phillip Pendleton Cooke: 

These tales of ratiocination owe most of their popularity to being something in a new key. I do not mean to say that they are not ingenious – but people think them more ingenious than they are – on account of their method and air of method. In the "Murders in the Rue Morgue", for instance, where is the ingenuity in unraveling a web which you yourself... have woven for the express purpose of unraveling?"


Your characters could well be familiar with the writing of Edgar Allen Poe, if not with this particular story. They could also read “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in the newspaper in 1841, wherein you can record their reactions to the tale. At any rate, the invention of the modern detective story makes for interesting reading.


J.E.S. Hays



Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Classic Country Ballads of Lost Love – San Angelo #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

 This month’s song is San Angelo by Marty Robbins.

 San Angelo was written and recorded by Marty and released in September 1960. San Angelo’s story of the outlaw riding into town to be reunited with his lover, Secora, because she’s sent him a message to meet him there. Unbeknownst to him, Rangers have somehow intercepted her message, and they are laying in wait for his arrival with intent to kill him.

 When Secora sees the outlaw, she breaks free of her Ranger-captivity and runs onto the street to warn her man to get out of town before the Rangers kill him. But it’s too late. A Ranger shoots her, and she dies in her man’s arms. Grief, rage, and vengeance consume the outlaw, and he makes his last stand—

 The ranger that killed her is standing there waiting for me
I rise to meet him, my one thought it beat him
He deserves death and I swear that this ranger will die
I beat his draw and I shot him six times

 This song has a theme similar to that in Seven Spanish Angels. The couples in both songs make their final fight against the authorities, and they die together with confidence in their hearts and minds that they will be reunited in the hereafter.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer
Writing through history one romance upon a time