Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Oklahoma Land Runs: Myth or Mystery? Part 2

Oklahoma Land Openings Map
Used with permission from the Oklahoma Historical Society

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Thank you for joining us this month as we look into the history of the Oklahoma Land Runs.

Last month, we covered the history leading up to the allowance of white settlement in the Indian Territory by the US government, and of the first or the “Great Land Run”. This month, we are diving into several other of the Land Runs, as there were more than most people think.

After the success of the first Land Run, the federal government was pressured into opening more and more lands within the Indian Territory. Unfortunately, those lands were still in the hands of the tribes that were living there as part of their assignment proceeding the different conflicts, for example, the War Between The States, and the Red River War.

The US government, overlooking the existing treaties, opened the lands up for white settlement over the course of more than a decade, the first Land Run happening in 1889, the final one happening in 1901.

There was a set of five in 1891 which opened of the Shawnee lands, just to the east of the Unassigned Territory (which opened on April 22, 1889). The next four Land Runs, also taking place in 1891, the Shawnee lands became Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties, with Tecumseh and Chandler being their county seats, respectively.

The next Land Run was in 1892, the opening of the Comanche and Arapaho lands in the southwestern part of the state. This Land Run was important as many of the best plots of land that were opened for white settlement were given to the Indian Scouts that served with the army. Many of the scouts were able to take some of the more choice allotments of land as payment for their service to the Army.

"Boomers Camp, Arkansa City, Kansas. Waiting for the Strike to Open
May 1st, 1893"
Public Domain

The next and final Great Land Run was that of the Cherokee Outlet, or the Cherokee Strip, in 1893. This Land Run opened much of the Northwestern part of what is now the state of Oklahoma (minus the panhandle). This Land Run gave us towns such as Enid, Woodward, Seiling, Vici, Slap Out and Laverne.

This Land Run was, in some ways, more famous than the first, as it opened the mostly tall plains grassland, and the arid desert regions of the northwestern part of the state.

When most people think of Oklahoma, they think of the region that is in the north central part of the state, normally. This part of the state is empty prairie lands, as we like to call it “miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.”

It was after the Land Run of the Kickapoo lands between the Shawnee lands and the Unassigned Territory in 1895, that the federal government determined that the problems that crop up with the large-scale Land Runs was too much trouble. So the large-scale land allotments were handled by sealed bid.

"Land Openings"
Used with permission from the
Oklahoma Historical Society
There were several sealed-bid allotments of land, to include the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation, the Wichita-Caddo Reservation, and the Big Pasture.

The final Land Run was in the town of Arcadia in the eastern part of Oklahoma County in 1901. It was allowing settlers to choose individual town plots within its district only. The town of Arcadia today has been annexed into Edmond and consists of several homes and one of the man-made lakes, Lake Arcadia.

Thank you for joining us this last couple of months as we looked into the history of the Land Runs of Oklahoma. If you are interesting in digging deeper in to the history of these historic events, please feel free to contact the Oklahoma Historical society, the regional and town Historical Societies, or preferably an older resident of the area you are inquiring about. Thank you, and have a blessed day!

Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Judge was born and raised in Little Axe, Oklahoma, the son of A.F. Veterans. Judge and Alanna love the history of the state and relish in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her second published story, part of a collaborative novella titled 18 Rebud Lane, came out March 2019. Alanna and Judge live with her parents in the Edmond area. They are currently collaborating on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Oklahoma.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Crypto Jews of New Mexico

By Nancy J. Farrier

Crypto Jews? What are crypto Jews? I remember being puzzled when my Aunt Mary Jean asked me if I’d ever heard of the Crypto Jews of New Mexico. She has a friend who did some research and while we didn’t have time to go into any detail, she told me I should read up on them because the story is so very interesting. I agree with her and this blog post is what I found in my research.

Spanish Inquisition, Wikimedia Image
The story begins in Spain and Portugal in the late 15thcentury. The King of Spain declared that all Jews needed to convert to Christianity. Many of the Jews left Spain. Some of them went to Portugal. Five years later Portugal also decided the Jews must convert to Christianity. 

The punishment for those who didn’t leave or convert was severe. The government started the Inquisition to look for Jews who were hiding among the Christians. Many of the Jews became Crypto Jews or hidden Jews to keep themselves safe. However, staying in Spain or Portugal still meant a huge risk to their lives and the lives of their families. 

After Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, many of the Crypto Jews decided to become colonists where they could practice their faith in secret. A large group of them made their way to New Mexico, although traces can be found throughout the Southwest. 

The Inquisition followed them to the Americas and Mexico. This is why so many moved to the far northern point of Mexico at the time, northern New Mexico. They wanted to escape the persecution and to live a peaceful life.

Jewish Star, photo by Alex Proimos
Wikimedia Commons

The Crypto Jews were well hidden in the Catholic church. They attended services and to most appeared to be practicing Catholics. However, if you were observant you would note they did not eat pork. They lit candles on Friday night. They attended services on Saturday. They did not pray to the saints. They practiced infant circumcision. These were small clues that mostly went unnoticed but meant the Jews were keeping their faith alive underneath the pretense.

Wikimedia Commons
In the 1980’s, New Mexico hired a new State historian, Stanley Hordes. Hordes had written a doctoral dissertation about the Crypto Jews and New Mexico. After he took office, he saw an influx of people visiting him with questions about their ancestry. They talked about grandfathers who wore hats to church on Saturday. They wondered about their unusual skin coloring, which didn’t match that of the Hispanic community. They asked about the unusual artifacts left to them, including driedels. The practice of slitting an animals throat and preparing it in a kosher method. Finding gravestones with the six-pointed Jewish star. 

There were those who opposed Hordes findings and disavowed the idea of Crypto Jews. But, there are many who support these people. In fact, there is a Society for Crypto Jews, started in 1991. Here is a link to their website. They are there to gather information on this hidden segment of society. They have a conference where they share information and meet together. The 2019 Conference is the end of this month in Denver.

I think it would be fascinating to attend this conference and learn more about
Dreidel: Photo by
Roland Scheicher
Wikimedia Commons
the history of these people who avoided execution by fitting in with their surroundings. At the same time, they kept their faith alive, handing down practices through generations.

Have you ever heard of the Crypto Jews of New Mexico? What would you do if you were forced to leave home, leaving behind all your belongings, or die for your faith? What a difficult question. I don’t know if I would truly see the enormity of the decision until faced with that choice. 

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

Monday, June 17, 2019

Women Behind the Keys

My mother was an excellent typist and worked “keeping books” for my father’s several small businesses. It wasn’t long before I mimicked her, sitting at the typewriter-stand-on-wheels, pecking away at the keys.

During my junior year in high school, I took a night class for typing at the local college and, thereby, set the course of my life.

I’ve been typing – or keyboarding – ever since.

The keys that make my living.
I dare say that typing skills have served me in every job I’ve had, from secretary to schoolteacher, journalist to novelist. It’s difficult to imagine making it through life without the ability to type.

However, this specialized skill changed the course of more lives than mine, particularly that of women in the public workforce during the 1880s. As typists, women could do more than they had as telegraphers, clerks, and copyists in the previous decades.

Both men and women worked as typists, but they were not referred to as such. Research indicates that there were discrepancies in the spelling of typewriter or type-writer. Sources differ in their opinions as to which denoted the machine and which denoted the operator.

Newspaper articles of the day touted the type-writer as a great invention. By 1885, it was credited with expediting business and coming close to replacing the pen. The Remington Standard Type-Writer was heralded as the premier machine.

Remington had previously been associated with firearms (and sewing machines), and the company had several under its belt, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns.

William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody himself reportedly carried a Remington New Model Army .44 from 1863 to 1906.

We haven’t heard that he carried a typewriter.

Remington was founded in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington in Ilion, New York, and later became E. Remington and Sons in 1839. It was not the first company to produce a writing machine, but by 1873 became known for manufacturing the first successful commercial typewriter.

Another writing-machine company, Sholes and Glidden, sold their patent to financial backers Densmore and Yost who negotiated with E. Remington and Sons for production. Remington introduced Sholes’s QWERTY board in their model, and the Remington No. 2 of 1878 became a wildly successful typewriter with both upper- and lower-case letters accessed by a shift key.

Today it’s hard to imagine anything else.

Sholes & Glidden Type-Writer, invented by Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel W. Soule in 1868, and manufactured by Remington & Sons, Ilion, New York, USA, between 1874 and 1878. This was the first typewriter to be manufactured commercially (about 5000 were made), the first to use the Universal or QWERTY keyboard which Sholes invented, and the first to be called a 'typewriter'; Sholes coined the term. The colorful flowery decorations may have been intended to appeal to women, who were entering the typist profession. Wikimedia Commons.
The QWERTY keyboard design was so named for the lineup of letters on the top letter row of keys, with other letters placed elsewhere based on frequency of use. With a few changes in other letter/character positions, it remains in use today with Latin-script alphabets. Wisconsin newspaper editor and printer Christopher Latham Scholes came up with the layout after earlier designs resulted in the jamming of keys.

Scholes's QWERTY, 1878. Wiki-Commons
The Remington typewriter was used in law offices, counting rooms, and mercantiles in European and American cities, employing young women with wages ranging from $12 to $15 per week. 

Even my old Oliver from 1914 has the QWERTY layout.
The abandoned heroine of my novel, An Unexpected Redemption, is one such young woman who finds employment as a type-writer in a Denver law firm and later in her hometown of Olin Springs, Colorado. Her not-so-portable Remington No. 2 model typewriter influences the course of her life, as does her other Remington, which you can read about here.

Funny, how a few little letters—and the ability to manipulate them—can change a person's life for the better.

Davalynn Spencer
Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. She writes Western romance with rugged heroes, teaches writing workshops, and plays a different keyboard on her church worship team – when she’s not wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Timber Rafting

Have you ever heard of timber rafting? It is fascinating! I knew from the first time I stumbled on this type of transporting logs that I wanted to use it somehow in my writing.

Unlike driving loose logs down a river, timber rafting consists of tying the logs together in massive raft-like structures and floating them down wide, quiet rivers like the Mississippi. There is evidence of this practice dating back to the sixteenth century and up into the 20th century, possibly even today.

How does timber rafting work? Think of the way boxcars are coupled together to form a train. This is kind of like the long, snaking timber sections coupled together to keep the whole shebang traveling together, but allowing each section to break with the bends in the river. Each section was linked together with flexible coupling poles so the raft could maneuver around bends. Sometimes hardwood or sycamore was used at intervals to make the raft more buoyant.

The size of timber rafts depended on the width and swiftness of the river to be navigated, how serpentine the river was and how many men the logging operation had to work the raft. 

According to one Wikipedia article, “Timber rafts could be of enormous proportions, sometimes up to 600 metres (2000 ft) long, 50 meters (165 ft) wide, and stacked 2 metres (6.5 ft) high.” It could take up to 500 men to drive such a huge raft. And since these raftsmen were living on the raft and the river for weeks at a time, they build cabins and galleys on top of the rafts.

Raftsmen had their own lingo and terminology for the tools they used. “Chain dogs” or “raft shackles” were two iron spikes on either end of a short chain to hold the poles in place. “Steering oars” and “steering sweeps” were used more like rudders to guide the timber raft down the river and to keep it from running aground more than they were used to paddle.

TIMBER RAFT By Frances Anne Hopkins, Public Domain
The “sweep man” was at the mercy of the raft’s speed in the current. Massive sweeps were mounted at the front of the raft on a special bolster. It had a hole in it to accommodate a large peg that was the pivot for the sweep. Think of the rudder on the back of a boat, but instead mounted not the front and much larger. The sheer weight of such a beast would have made controlling it almost impossible. But the raftsmen did have a few tricks up their sleeves. “Pike poles” or “jampikes” were used by men stationed at points along the rafts to keep it shoved off rocks, sandbars, and snags. “Snub poles” were often made of hickory and used near the rear to slow the raft down. Depending on the depth of the water, longer poles were inserted between the logs to drag the river bottom and slow the raft down.

There were ways to tie off on shore on slower moving rivers, but it was risky and the crew had to work together to accomplish such a feat. Long ropes were kept at the ready and men had to either swim for shore and tie up to trees along the way.  Each section of the raft would need to be secured at exactly the right time or it could be disastrous for the crew. 

Check out this video from an almost a century old German documentary 16mm silent film. This may be the Hozu river near Kyoto.

In my research, I developed a healthy respect for the tough men who became raftsmen on these larger than life timber rafts. Just from watching the videos, it’s obvious they had to be quite skilled at their jobs.

Timber rafting makes an appearance in The Crossing at Cypress Creekthe third installment in Pam Hillman's Natchez Trace Novel series, the O’Shea brothers cut a path through the wilderness between the lawless Natchez Trace and the Mississippi River. Their plan is to drive logs down the river to feed the booming construction in the city of Natchez.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Lesser known D-Day Facts

In honor of this month being the 75th anniversary of D-Day, I thought I'd post some interesting and some less known facts about that day.

The name ~ what in the world does D-Day stand for? Actually it means nothing. D stands for day which was a code for an important military operation.

There were over six million people involved on the Allied side of D-Day. The vast majority of them were Americans and British, but they were joined by other countries fighting for freedom such as the French, Hungarians, Polish, and Dutch. Nearly 160,000 of the troops landed on Normandy.

Once the troops landed they knew they would need supplies and support. In order to fill that tall order, 423 ships and tugs were sent out. Some of that support came through laid pipes and cables across the entire width of the English Channel. This vital job would supply much needed fuel to tanks and vehicles now on land to keep them moving, and the cables would allow the troops to communicate beyond where they were dropped off. 

Just a few hours before the Allied forces planned to attack, British Meteorologist, James Stagg, persuaded Eisenhower to delay the attack. A storm had been brewing as Allied meteorologists watched the weather. The troops needed good weather to land safely. Stagg predicted a break was coming in the weather and after talking to Eisenhower the decision was made to delay the attack by 24 hours. Many meteorologists disagreed with Staggs but Staggs advice ended up being crucial to the success of the mission. The Axis Powers also monitored the weather and because of the stormy weather and rough seas, many left their posts believing that it would be impossible for an Allied attack.


Meteorologist, James Stagg

There were a number of famous people who were part of the D-Day invasion. Here are just a few you might know, the famous author who penned "Catcher in the Rye" J.D. Salinger, the handsome movie star Henry Ford,  and baseball great Yogi Berra. Star Wars superstar Obi-Wan Kenobi played by Alex Guiness. The Force sure was with him and his comrades that day. And James Doohan, you might remember him as Scotty on Star Trek. Those famous Star Trek words, "Beam me up, Scotty."  I'm sure he'd have liked to have beamed himself up on that day.

It was more than just ships that contributed to the success of the mission. There were 10,000 aircraft that participated. The most important rolls these planes and pilots filled were dropping paratroopers behind the enemy lines, keeping the airspace clear from enemy planes, and lastly to weaken German resistance to the invasion. They did this through bombing key fortifications and troops.

I admire Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for what he told his wife the night before the invasion. It shows that he held all life as valuable. He told his wife, "Do you realize by the time you wake up in the morning 20,000 men may have been killed?" There were actually fewer casualties than expected on the Allied side.

And the last tidbit I'd like to share is that in the summer of 1943 a man passing by the Norfolk House in London picked up an early copy of the invasion plans that had blown out the window. He turned them in stating his sight was too poor to read them.

Norfolk House is on the far right of this mid-18 century engraving

I hope you enjoyed this brief bit of interesting history. Every man and woman that fought on D-day is a hero that needs to be remembered. As are all of our military!

Amnesia can numb your pain…  

…. unless it gets you killed.

A freak earthquake upends Olivia’s world, while two men claim her love. When her memory begins to return in bits and pieces, Olivia discovers embezzlement. With danger lurking all around her, she must continue the charade of amnesia. But will time run out on her before she uncovers the truth? Buy Shattered Memories

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 5 horses, 3 dogs, cat and miniature donkey.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The First War on Terrorism, 1801?

Some years ago, while doing research on pirates, I came across some interesting information about a group of Islamic pirates who sailed from the North African Berber states of Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli (the Barbary Coast).  These pirates were the scourge of the Mediterranean for years, capturing merchant ships and enslaving or ransoming their crews for wealth that made the Muslim rulers of these nations rich and powerful.

Though the Mediterranean was across the sea, America was not immune to these attacks. The Barbary pirates captured and held the crews of several of our merchant ships. Before the United States won it's independence from Britain, the Royal Navy protected our ships, as well as France under the Treaty of Alliance.  But after we became a nation, all bets were off!  On October 11, 1784, Moroccan pirates seized the American brigantine, Betsey, and Thomas Jefferson, the then US minister to France, sent  envoys to Morocco and Algeria to try to purchase treaties and the freedoms of the captured sailors held by Algeria. He was successful in part for Morocco  did sign a treaty with the U.S. on June 23, 1786 that formally ended all Moroccan piracy against American shipping interests.

But Algeria was another matter.  On July 25, 1785 they captured the schooner Maria and the Dauphin a week later. All four Barbary Coast states demanded a
sum of $660,000 as ransom for the captured sailors.   Diplomatic talks ensued but no agreement was reached, leaving the crews of the Maria and Dauphin in captivity for over a decade, as well as other soon-to-be captured ships and their crews. In 1795, Algeria came to an agreement with the U.S. that resulted in the release of 115 sailors they held, at the cost of over $1 million. This was nearly 1⁄6 of the entire U.S. budget, and  was demanded as tribute by the Barbary States to prevent further piracy.

In March 1785, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to London to negotiate with Tripoli's envoy, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. Upon inquiring "concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury", the ambassador replied:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy's ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.

After returning to Washington, Jefferson argued that paying tribute would encourage more attacks. Although John Adams agreed with Jefferson, he believed that circumstances forced the U.S. to pay tribute until an adequate navy could be built. The U.S. paid Algiers the ransom, and continued to pay up to $1 million per year over the next 15 years for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20% of the U.S. government's annual revenues in 1800!!  Can you believe we ever negotiated with terrorists?

Jefferson continued to argue for cessation of the tribute, with rising support from George Washington and others. With the recommissioning of the American navy in 1794 and the resulting increased firepower on the seas, it became increasingly possible for America to refuse paying tribute, although by now the long-standing habit was hard to overturn.

On Jefferson's inauguration as president in 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, demanded $225,000 from the new administration.  In response, "Jefferson sent a small force to the area to protect American ships and citizens against potential

And thus we entered the first Barbary War. On June 10th 1805, a peace treaty was signed which halted hostilities and returned American prisoners for a price.  But by 1807, Algiers had gone back to taking American ships and seamen hostage. The War of 1812 kept America too busy to respond until 1815 when we sent two naval squadrons to deal with the problem.  The United States Defeated the Algerian pirates once again and on July 3, 1815, aboard the Guerriere in the Bay of Algiers, a treaty was signed that guaranteed no further tributes and granted the United States full shipping rights!!

Award-winning author MaryLu Tyndall dreamt of sea-faring adventures during her childhood days on Florida's Coast. With now more than twenty-five books published, she makes no excuses for the spiritual themes embedded within her romantic adventures. Her hope is that readers will not only be entertained but will be brought closer to the Creator who loves them beyond measure. For more information, visit her website at