Monday, October 15, 2018

What is Hell's Half Acre? PLUS Giveaway!!

I started doing some Texas research for one of my books. I considered the setting of Fort Worth, and though that wasn't where I ultimately decided to set my story, I did find some rather interesting information about Fort Worth to share.

During the late nineteenth century the frontier was dotted with unruly and lawless areas called Hell's Half Acre. Fort Worth, Texas was no exception. As a matter of fact, Forth Worth had some infamous visitors.

Hell's Half Acre, also known as 'The Acre' got its start in Fort Worth in the 1870's. Cattle drovers used the Fort Worth area as a stop along the cattle trails to Kansas. The Acre was on the lower end of town, making it the first thing the drivers would see when coming into town from the south.

These photos are from one of our trips to Texas. Fort Worth is a city that stole my heart. Here are beautiful sculptures that show the drivers and cattle being moved through the cattle trail.

Your average law abiding citizen didn't step foot onto Hell's Half Acre. This area which was not limited to a true half acre brought in some of the meanest criminals and unscrupulous people of their time. 

Hell's Half Acre consisted of mercantile businesses (even the scoundrels had to buy things, right?), but along with the mercantile businesses were dance halls, gambling parlours, saloons, and houses of ill repute/ brothels.

An average day and night at The Acre could easily see horse racing, cockfighting, drinking, gambling, brawls, ladies of the night, and the list could go on. 

The Sundance Kid

As unknowing travelers came through Hell's Half Acre they were prayed upon by conmen, robbers and unscrupulous women. The Acre was used  as a hideout for notorious gang members. Some of the famous characters that visited Fort Worth's Acre were train and bank robber Butch Cassidy, gambler and gunfighter Doc Holiday, gunfighter Luke Short, outlaw and train robber Sam Bass, outlaw The Sundance Kid, lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp, and professional gambler and lawman Bat Materson.

People became concerned with the violence in Fort Worth and in 1876 elected Timothy Isaiah Courtright to city marshal. He was expected to bring order to the unruly area. The marshal did crack down and on Saturday nights might fill a jail with the arrested. Courtright was successful, but his success was not appreciated by some of the business owners who were losing money due to the crackdown. Because of this a stance was taken against it and soon the lawless were welcomed back. Bottom line was those gunmen, robbers, conmen, gamblers, and brothels made the city money that they didn't want to give up. 

Poor Courtwright lost his support because of it and when the next election rolled around he wasn't reelected.

The good news is after a shoot out that left one man dead and after a prostitute was found murdered and nailed to an outhouse, some of the cities officials realized things had to change. 1889 brought the beginning of that change with new businesses and homes to Hell's Half Acre. 

Another of the beautiful sculptures

This is a picture of the cattle being driven through town

The famous Texas Longhorns

GIVEAWAY: For a chance to win Shattered Memories or one of my other novels answer one of the following questions and don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you should you win! 

Have you heard about the Hell's Half Acres that were dotted around the country? If so where was the one you knew about located?

Do you like to read? If so where do you most enjoy your settings in the United States, any where out west, a true western, New England States, Southern states or the mid-west?

Olivia Macqueen wakes in a makeshift hospital, recovering from a head injury. With amnesia stealing a year of her memories, she has trouble discerning between lies and truth. When her memories start returning in bits and pieces, she must keep up the charade of amnesia until she can find out the truth behind the embezzlement of her family’s business while evading the danger lurking around her.

Doctor Andrew Warwick frantically searches through the rubble left by the Charleston earthquake for the lady who owns his heart. He finds her injured and lifeless. When she regains consciousness, the doctor’s hopes are dashed as he realizes she doesn’t remember him. But things only get worse after he discovers she believes she’s still engaged to the abusive scoundrel, Lloyd Pratt. Now Drew is on a race with the wedding clock to either help her remember or win her heart again before she marries the wrong man.

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.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Charles A. Lindbergh: A Legacy and an Enigma

Gabrielle Here:

January 13, 2017, Erica Vetsch shared a little about our amazing Minnesota Historical Society and the twenty-five sites that dot the map of our beautiful state. One of those sites is the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site in Little Falls, Minnesota.

I'm especially fond of this historic site because it sits right across the river from where I live in my hometown, and I spent ten years of my life working there as a site guide, an assistant site manager, and later as an interim manager.

Charles Lindbergh is one of the most fascinating men I've ever studied. On the surface, many people know him as the shy, handsome hero who made the first non-stop, transatlantic flight in his monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, in May 1927.

Others may know him as the father of the baby who was kidnapped and murdered on March 1, 1932. The horrible event became known as The Crime of the Century and an important law, known informally as the Lindbergh Law, was enacted from that event, which allows federal authorities to step in and pursue kidnappers once they cross state lines with their victim.

Some may be more familiar with Charles Lindbergh's wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who wrote several books, her most famous being A Gift from the Sea. It continues to change women's live, over half a century after it was written.

And, yet, many others remember Charles A. Lindbergh for his stance on America's entry into WWII and his connection with Nazi Germany.

For a few, when they think of Charles Lindbergh, they think of his conservation work toward the end of his life, his design of the perfusion pump, which was the first apparatus to keep organs alive outside of the body, his work on the first rocket with Robert Goddard, and the routes he and Anne mapped out for air traffic, many of which are still used to this day.

Still others see Lindbergh as the father of illegitimate children in Germany, who came forward in 2003. DNA test proved their story was true, and they are now able to claim one of the most famous men in history as their father.

But, for me, I see Charles Lindbergh as a young boy, growing up on the banks of the Upper Mississippi River in Little Falls, Minnesota. A quiet, curious boy whose father was a lawyer and U.S. Congressman, and whose mother was a school teacher. He loved nothing better than working on the family farm until he left for college in 1920.

If you thought of any of those things, you'd know exactly who Charles Lindbergh was--yet, how many people really knew him? I spent ten years studying his life, reading his journals, letters, biography, and autobiographies--yet, I learned something new about him all the time.

He was a quiet, reserved man who was thrust into the world's spotlight as the first super-hero. He became the most famous person in the world in 1927, and despite his attempts to "retire" from his public life, he could never escape the fame. Very few people know what it was like to be Charles Lindbergh. He was hounded his entire life. Out of desperation and survival, he learned to keep things hidden, to shy away from reporters, and he drew into himself more and more.

There are points in his life that I admire--and others that I abhor. He was an American icon, a role-model for millions, yet he did unthinkable things throughout his life. He invented devises that saved lives, he was a pioneer for aviation, and he was tireless in his work for conservation efforts--yet, his respect for Nazi Germany is questionable, his marital affairs were deplorable, and his relationship with his wife and children was less than commendable.

Lindbergh is an American Legacy, and I applaud him for the great advancements he made. I even understand a few of the choices that shaped his life. But I still like to think of him best as the young man who made the transatlantic flight in 1927, or the child who roamed the woods of his family's property in Little Falls, before fame changed him forever.

He's also an enigma. A man hard to understand, who led a life that few will ever experience.

When I look at his life, I have to look at it through the lens of all these things. Not one individual moment, but the accumulation of seventy-two years of remarkable events that changed the world forever.

Gabrielle Meyer
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Saturday, October 13, 2018

An Eleven-Day Exodus from Georgia

by Denise Weimer

During the Revolutionary War, defeats in the North and threats from the French navy forced King George III to turn his eye southward. His “southern strategy” bombarded Colonial ports and enlisted Indian and Loyalist help.

Patriots attempting to hold their land in backwoods Georgia faced fighting so fierce the area earned the nickname “The Hornet’s Nest.” Famed Indian fighter Elijah Clark rose to the rank of colonel, leading militia from Wilkes County to victory at the Battle of Kettle Creek.

But by 1780, conditions look dire for the patriots. Charleston, Savannah, and Augusta have fallen to the British. For refusing the oath of allegiance, Clark’s band of followers are known as the Georgia Refugees. A last stand buckles, and Clark is faced with retreat.

Elijah Clark

But he’s not alone. Around six hundred women, children, and people of color flock to his camp at Dennis Mills on the Little River, south of Washington, Georgia. Homeless and hungry, they need his protection to flee their state. Thus ensues an amazing eleven-day journey on foot. The travelers lack provisions and have to live on acorns, haws, and crab apples, but they do not complain.

They cross the Savannah River below the Tugaloo River and head to North Carolina, where they hope to shelter in the settlement of Watauga. The Watauga pioneers purchased their land from the Cherokee and boast some of the fiercest fighters in the Appalachians, known as the Overmountain Men.

The British don’t make escape easy. Under the orders of Lord Cornwallis, Lt. Col. Patrick Ferguson pursues, lying in wait at James Steps. But the wily Clark takes another route. By October 3, Ferguson reports failure. The Georgia Refugees shelter in Watauga, while thirty of Clark’s men under Major William Candler leave the main body. They join the Overmountain Men bound for the Battle of King’s Mountain. In April of 1781, Clark’s men march back to Georgia, quickly clearing the state for the return of their families.

I found the courage and resilience of these people so amazing that I chose the “Hornet’s Nest” as the setting for my Backcountry Brides novella, Across Three Autumns. In the midst of Indian attacks, spying Loyalists, and the Watauga exodus, love springs up between settler Jenny White and Scottish militia scout Caylan McIntosh. Backcountry Brides on Amazon

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s an editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! To learn more about HHH’s newest contributor, connect with Denise here: 

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Fort Robinson, Nebraska

A footnote from history by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Have you visited western Nebraska? If not, you've missed stunning vistas and a chance to stay at Fort Robinson, known to Crazy Horse and Red Cloud, Spotted Tail and Dull Knife, Buffalo Soldiers, German prisoners of war, war dog trainers, and champion equestrians.

In 1874, when tensions ran high at Red Cloud Agency--named for a great leader of the Oglala Sioux--the agent called for troops from Fort Laramie. Both cavalry and infantry arrived in March of that year, resulting in the establishment of Camp Robinson, named for Lt. Levi Robinson who'd been killed the previous month. 

Men stationed at Camp Robinson would be caught up in ongoing tensions with both The Oglalas and northern Sioux at Red Cloud agency and Spotted Tail's Brules at Spotted Tail Agency. By summer of 1874, it was obvious the troops' presence wasn't temporary. Soldiers were building log barracks and other permanent buildings. By 1878, Camp Robinson had become Fort Robinson. The death of Crazy Horse and the tragic "Cheyenne Outbreak" took place here. 

Throughout the 1880s, routine life at Fort Robinson involved target practice, ceremonies, inspection--and building. New adobe officers' quarters and new barracks were added, and the Buffalo Soldiers arrived. Second Lieutenant Charles Young was among them. The son of former slaves, Lt. Young was a recent graduate of the U.S. military academy at West Point. 

From 1884 to 1887, Dr. Walter Reed (who gave his name to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.) was Fort Robinson's post surgeon. 

Fort Robinson was the Army Equestrian Team's training ground in the 1930s. Two horses, Jennie Camp and Dakota, placed in the 1936 Berlin Olympic games. 

During WWII, Fort Robinson became a reception and training center for war dogs. Over 5,000 dogs were trained in trail and attack work, sentry duty, message bearing, etc. before the reception center closed in 1946. 

German POWS housed at Fort Robinson during WW II were taken on farm details and worked in the fort's kitchen, bakery, and hospital. They also helped with routine care of the war dogs. At one time, the entire Afrika Corps Band was imprisoned at Fort Robinson. 

Today, visitors to Fort Robinson can stay in historic officers' quarters and barracks. They can visit the post museum, take trail rides up into the surrounding bluffs, go on Jeep excursions, and participate in a plethora of family-oriented activities. Learn more here:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

All three books in Stephanie's Pine Ridge Portraits series (Secrets on the Wind, Watchers on the Hill, and Footprints on the Horizon) are set at Fort Robinson.
Secrets on the Wind was not only on the CBA best seller list when first released but also a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. The e-book is only $2.99 but it will be FREE October 11-13 at:  

About this book:

It seems to be a typical U.S. Army post in 1878, but in the midst of regimented daily routines ...

  • a grieving sergeant harbors bitterness and guilt in his broken heart,
  • a desperate young woman struggles to recover from the trauma inflicted by unimaginable circumstances,
  • a new recruit with a changed identity seeks to escape the mistakes of his past,
and among them all, a woman named Granny Max feels called to embrace people in need and the secrets that cripple them.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Amelia Earhart

The Rest of the Story
by Martha Rogers

After all her accomplishments, Amelia looked forward to her dream of flying around the world.

She carefully planned the trip with her crew to make sure they had the best route.

Her first attempt began on March 17, 1937, Fred Noonan, Harry Manning and Mantz (who was acting as Earhart's technical advisor) were on board, but they encountered problems which forced them to stop in Hawaii for servicing. An accident on take-off three days later severely damaged the aircraft, so the flight was cancelled.

With the Electra now grounded for repairs, Earhart needed additional funds for a second attempt. With Putnam, she was able to secure the funds and prepared for the next flight. Instead of flying east to west, they reversed their pattern to fly west to east most likely as the result of changes in global wind and weather patterns along the first route.

With repairs competed and funds available, the second flight began in Miami, Florida where she announced her plans to circumnavigate the globe with Fred Noonan as her only crew member. 

Earhart and Noonan

They departed on June 1 and traveled to South America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. They arrived at Lae, New Guinea on June 19, 1937 thus completing 22,000 miles of the journey. The last 7000 miles would be over the Pacific.

The last transmission indicated Earhart and Noonan were flying near Howland, but then all transmission was lost. Attempts to make contact with both voice and Morse code failed. One hour after the last transmission, the USCGC Itasca undertook an unsuccessful search. 

Several bearings taken by Pan American Airways stations and the captain of the USS Colorado were sporadic for four or five days and added to the confusion of where the plane could be. Four days after the last verified transmission, the battleship Colorado was ordered to take over search efforts.

Officials abandoned search efforts after a few months, but researchers never stopped looking for clues. G. P. Putman, her husband, was one of those who undertook a search in the Phoenix Group and other islands in the area. Many theories grew from that research and from other observations. The most pre-dominant one being the plane crashed and burned in the ocean. They may have ditched the plane after running out of fuel and crashing, but perished at sea.

Another theory has them captured and imprisoned by the Japanese and later executed. A different version of that theory has the Japanese shooting the plane down over the ocean. The research became enough to convince some of her relatives that the Japanese were somehow involved.

Among other myths and legends that sprang up through the years included Amelia becoming a spy, she landed on an island and assumed a new identity, she and Noonan turned back and crashed somewhere else entirely, and one even suggests she was forced to make propaganda broadcasts with Tokyo Rose.

Men and women have written numerous books about the disappearance, and the show Unsolved Mysteries did a story as well as the National Geographic Channel on its Undiscovered History series. Others have attempted to duplicate the flight in honor of Amelia. The home where she was born is now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum.

This is one of the museum rooms
More recently, forensic anthropologists believe bones found decades ago may those of Earhart. The journal states that a bone measurement of bones found on Nikumaroro in 1940 may well be those of Earhart. No matter what is proven with the discovery, some aficionados of the mystery of where she may be will continue with their speculations. 

Have you ever heard tales and stories about Amelia Earhart? 

Start your reading for Christmas with Love Blooms at Christmas, a delightful story of a professor at a Bible college and the daughter of a philanthropist whose love blooms as they work together on a children's Christmas play in the early 20th century.

Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to four, soon to be five. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.

Find Martha at:
Twitter: @martharogers2 
Facebook: Martha Rogers Author