Monday, July 25, 2016

Legendary Stagecoach Drivers—and a Giveaway



It’s here, it’s here, it’s here! The Courageous Brides Collection, which includes my 3rd novella, Mountain Echoes, came out on July 1. So I’ll be celebrating this month with a giveaway of an autographed copy. 

My hero in Mountain Echoes is stagecoach driver Finn McCaffrey. In researching the men (and women) who held such a job, I found them to be a colorful bunch, so I thought I’d share a bit about them.

Stagecoach drivers were a daring sort. They had to handle a six-horse team with great skill while driving at top speed through sand, mud, inclement weather and harsh terrain. They had to be able to make hairpin curves on rocky mountain passes or cross flooded creeks without batting an eye. They needed the backbone to face robbers and Indians who might be laying in wait along their path, all with the mind to keep both passengers and any valuables they carried safe. They were affectionately known by various nicknames. Charley. Whip. Reinsman. Or my personal favorite…Jehu. This one was in reference to the Bible passage in 2 Kings 9, where the Israelite king, Jehu, was described as driving his chariot “furiously.”

The typical garb for a stagecoach driver was a flat-crowned, wide-brimmed hat. They wore a long linen duster coat to combat the elements, and long gloves to protect their hands from the leather reins. Tall leather boots completed the outfit. Most carried a whip which they’d crack above the team’s heads to encourage them along the route.

So…who were some of the real people who made names for themselves as stage drivers?

HANK MONK
 
Hank Monk
Henry James Monk, better known as Hank, was born in New York on March 24, 1826. He had a great affinity and skill with horses and was said to have once driven eight horses side-by-side in a Boston celebration. By the age of twelve, he was driving wagons and stagecoaches in New York State. At the age of twenty-six, he crossed the Isthmus of Panama and made his way to California where he began driving stagecoaches for various different companies across his long and storied career. He drove many routes for several different companies, but all the routes fell somewhere between Sacramento, California, and Virginia City, Nevada. Probably the best-known stagecoach driver in the West, he was imortalized by Mark Twain in Roughing It, where Twain described a stagecoach ride that famed New York Daily Tribune journalist Horace Greeley once took. Greeley complained to Monk that he was going to be late for a lecture he was slated to give in Placerville, California, so Monk put on the speed, to the point that Greeley was so jostled inside the coach that his head went through the ceiling! He was said to have called out to Monk that he was no longer in such a hurry, and to please slow down, to which Monk replied, “Just hang on, Mr. Greeley. I’ll get you there on time.”

GEORGE MONROE

George Monroe
George Monroe was born in Georgia and traveled west at the tender age of 11. Early on, he showed great promise with training and driving horses. At the age of 22, he hired on with the A.H. Washburn Stage company, which drove to Yosemite. Monroe’s quick thinking and nerves of steel gained him the title of “best all-around Reinsman in the West,” and when various U.S. Presidents (Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, and Rutherford B. Hayes) each toured the west, he was the whip chosen to drive them. Grant, an avid horseman himself, chose to sit on the bench beside the driver on the most treacherous part of the path—an unbelievably narrow 26-mile passage full of hairpin curves, potholes, and falling rocks. Grant watched as Monroe navigated each difficulty with great skill and later said that it was as if the six-horse team were one animal under Monroe’s control.


CHARLEY PARKHURST
 
Charley Parkhurst
This driver was an interesting person. Often called One-eyed Charley or Cockeyed Charley, this Jehu drove for many different stage companies throughout California for over thirty years. But rather than give you my brief description, I’ll let former HHH blogger Winnie Griggs’ post (found here) on old Charley speak for itself.

It’s your turn: Of the three drivers mentioned here, which would you have wanted to travel with? Leave your contact information with your comment to be included in the drawing for an autographed copy of The Courageous Brides Collection. Drawing will be held tomorrow, July 26, 2016.

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won five writing competitions and finaled in two other competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children.

PREORDER NOW:



Ride into adventures alongside nine determined women of yesteryear whose acts of compassion and bravery attract male attention. Marcy helps displaced Indians. Emmy tends wounds at Fort Snelling. Ronnie stows away on a cattle drive. Daisy disguises herself as a Pony Express rider. Elinor becomes an abolitionist. Mae tames wild horses. Hannah gets help for accident victims. Lucy’s curiosity unnerves criminals. Kate nurses soldiers on the battlefield. Will real dangers douse the sparks of love?




37 comments:

  1. Whoa! I'm really floored about One Eyed Charley! Think he/she would be the one safest as he could ride and shoot and protect! Loved your topic today, Jennifer! Love to read this book on our own Nicaragua adventures!

    missionwife AT hotmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Melody! Thanks so much for stopping by. I thought One Eyed Charley was quite a hoot too. Such a character.

      Delete
  2. I love that Charley was born in NH, but I think I'd feel most comfortable with Mr. Monroe. Very good blog today!!!
    bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post today, Connie! I'm with you. I'd probably choose Mr. Monroe as a driver also. If he was deemed safe enough to transport the various presidents, I'd feel safe with him also (I think. LOL)

      Delete
  3. After reading the info about One-Eyed Charley, I believe I would feel safest with her/him. I am amazed she was able to pull off a lifetime of being a man. It would take a lot of pluck to do what she did.

    princessdebbie1_2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Debbie! It has always baffled me how One-Eyed Charley managed all those years to pull off that ruse!

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I remember the Charley story! That one blew me away. It seems as if Mr. Monroe would be the safest, or maybe Charley just because of how far she got being who she was!
    lattebooksAThotmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I truly believe that Charley's story is one that will stick with you after you've read it--just because it is so unusual!

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am going with Charley! Thank you for sharing your interesting post.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Melanie!

      Delete
  8. What an interesting post! I loved reading about each of these stagecoach drivers, and I think I would have enjoyed riding with One-eyed Charley!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charley was quite the character, Britney. One of those people it would be interesting to go back in time to meet and talk to! Thank you for stopping by.

      Delete
  9. One eyed Charley would have been my choice of stagecoach driver too! What a rousing adventure it must have been for her to step into a man's world so she could live the exciting life she wanted. What a woman! Thank you for the fascinating glimpse into the life of a stagecoach driver...I really enjoyed both history lessons. 😊
    Dblaser(at)windstream(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Diane! You have to hand it to Charley--that's one person who wasn't going to let life hold him (her) back!

      Delete
  10. I'm going to go with Hank Monk, who seems to be interesting and have a lot of experience. Thanks for the giveaway. teshaw(at)sbcgobal(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you stopped by, Tammie! Hank Monk certainly seemed to be a wild and crazy character.

      Delete
  11. They all seem like good stagecoach drivers. The one I found most colorful was Charley Parkhurst, but the one I think I would most like to drive me would be George Monroe. I'm afraid I would get too wild a ride with Hank Monk. Thank you for this post and this giveaway.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I'm with you, Susan. Hank Monk seems a bit too wild for my taste. George Monroe is the one I'd choose, though it sure would be interesting to have met Charley!

      Delete
  12. It certainly sounds like one could figure on getting safely to your destination with any of the drivers mentioned. I think my preference would be to ride with George Monroe. :) Thanks for the giveaway.
    bettimace at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good choice, Betti! Thank you for stopping by.

      Delete
  13. Thanks for the post. cheetahthecat1986ATgmailDOTcom.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very interesting post, Jennifer. I hadn't heard the term Jehu used in that way before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a new term to me also, Vickie, but I found a way to work it into my story. ;)

      Delete
  15. One Eye Charley! LOL. I love stagecoaches and reading about them. Though at times it can be dangerous, there's always some adventure in stories with them! I visited a transportation museum once and was able to sit in one. So cool!

    justcommonlyATgmaildotcom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to know where that museum is! I was trying to find a nearby location where the Wells Fargo stagecoach would be on display so I could go see it while I was writing my story. Unfortunately, they weren't in my area at the time.

      Delete
  16. George sounds like he was a "horse whisperer". I'm impressed he drove some of our presidents.
    psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You very well could be right, Caryl! He sure could have been a horse whisperer. Thank you for stopping by today!

      Delete
  17. I would love to take a dangerous mountain drive with George Monroe to Yosemite! Thanks for the giveaway- this collection looks fabulous!

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Heidi! Yosemite sounds fantastic. A stage ride to it, even more intriguing!

      Delete
  18. Wow, what fascinating stories of the stagecoach drivers presented here today. My choice would be One Eyed Charlie. With this driver I would not fear for my safety and sounds like she knows her way around horses and had quite the bravery going on. I would love to read THE COURAGEOUS BRIDES COLLECTION. This collection sounds fabulous!
    Deanne Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Deanne, thank you so much for stopping by! I definitely think One-Eyed Charley would have had to be brave in order to live as long as she did pretending to be a man. And to do all she did. One amazing person.

      Delete
  19. I absolutely love this book! All of the authors are great. Since I already own it, I would love to win a copy to give to my daughter, so please enter me!
    debsbunch777@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so happy to know you loved the collection, Debbie! I'll let everyone know the winner in a few more hours!

      Delete
  20. Thank you everyone for all the wonderful comments. The winner for the drawing this month is Heidi Robbins. Heidi, I will contact you privately.

    ReplyDelete