Tuesday, June 19, 2018

US Navy, and Marine Corps: Anchors Away, IN OKLAHOMA?

Wikipedia, Public Domain

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Heya, there!

Thank you for joining us this month as we explore the history and influence of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in the great state of Oklahoma. If you have been following this series, so far, we have covered the history and influence of both the US Army, and Air Force. This is our second to last post in the series about the history of the Armed Forces and the influence they had in the state of Oklahoma.

First allow us to say: we wish to pay our respects to the brave men and women of our military, and let them know our thoughts and prayers are with them, particularly those currently on deployment outside our country and away from their families.

What, you may ask, is possible for the influence of the Naval and Marine forces on such a land-locked state? That’s a very good question. In fact, other than a naval battle being fought during the War Between The States (WBTS), there were neither naval, nor marine engagements on our soil.

In fact, the truth of the matter is those different branches have less effect on our state, than the state has had on THEM. As far back as the WBTS, we have had naval vessels named after the State, municipalities, and people from here. The first vessel that was named after something in Oklahoma was the Gunboat Class Cimarron I SwGbt which was commissioned in 1862. The next was the Monitor Class Neosho I commissioned in 1863.

Wikipedia, Public Domain

Since the WBTS, there have been 23 other vessels named after the State, towns, and people from Oklahoma. This includes the USS Oklahoma BB37, which was commissioned 1916. It sunk during Pearl Harbor, recovered, and the superstructure sank in the Pacific while it was being moved back to San Francisco in 1947.

USS Oklahoma wearing experimental camouflage, circa 1917
Wikipedia, Public Domain

There have been two vessels named the USS Oklahoma City. The CL91, went through multiple reclassifications and was abandoned for about twenty years before it was sunk as target practice by a South Korean torpedo in 1999. The SSN 723, being one of the first nuclear powered submarines, was launched in 1985 and commissioned in 1988. SSN 723 is still in service today, its home base in Guam.

USS Oklahoma City SSN 723 Assignment Patch
Wikipedia, Public Domain

While there are very few resources that need to be protected in this land-locked state, there are naval bases and reservist centers here. The Strategic Communications Wing 1 is located on Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City. They employ more than 1300 active-duty sailors, and 100+ contractors to maintain, train, secure, and operate the resources of the USN here in Oklahoma City.
Unfortunately, other than recruiting information, of which Oklahoma is ranked #3 per capita with approximately 7% of the populace enlisting in the different branches, there is little to no information on the Marine Corps, and their involvement in this state.

But you better believe it they have an impact of families and Oklahoma pride. Those who are in the Navy and Marine Corps, along with any of the other Armed Forces, are the pride of the families, the heart of Oklahoma.

Join us next month as we wrap up this series, with the US Coast Guard. Thank you, and have a safe and blessed 4th of July.

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. Alanna loves the history of the state and relishes in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna lives with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. She is currently working on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Spanish Language in the Old West and a giveaway

With Nancy J. Farrier

Have you ever wondered where our western terminology comes from? I was surprised to learn that many of our familiar words in the west originate from Spanish and the early Spanish and Mexican people. I wanted to share a few of those words with you.

Rancho is the origin of our word for ranch. The Spanish rancho was a large holding of land where cattle and horses were raised. The Ranchero or rancher was the owner. The ranchos in California were land grants generally made up of 14 square miles.

Vaquero, one who takes care of the cattle, became Cowboy in English. The literal translation of vaquero is cow and man. The vaquero, like the cowboy, was a rough, hard-working man who endured hardship to do his job. They hired on for trail drives or to work the ranch.

Corral is spelled the same in both Spanish and English but the pronunciation is different. Both refer to a pen or enclosure for animals.

Cañón is where we get the English word, Canyon. Cañón is a tube or pipe. If you

visit some of the canyons in the west, you can understand the how that word came to mean the landform. There are many beautiful canyons in the west.

Vigilante is another word spelled the same in Spanish and English but the pronunciation is different. In Spanish, a vigilante is a watchman or guard. In English, the word has come to mean anything from someone who protects or guards to someone who seeks out vengeance. 

Mostrenco is thought to be the origin of the word Mustang. The original use of the word referred to roaming cattle that were unclaimed, but came to mean

horses that roamed free.

Bronco, the same in Spanish and English, means rough or coarse in Spanish. When we think of the bucking bronco, we understand how the term relates to horses before they are broken to saddle. A horse that’s never been ridden before certainly is rough when a cowboy tries to ride them.

Lazo means bow, knot or tie in Spanish. Lazo changed to lasso in English. The lasso is a versatile tool used by the cowboy in a variety of ways. To rope a cow
or horse. To tied up an animal. To lead an animal. The lazo or lasso was also used to entertain.

Rodear in Spanish means to go around. Rodear became rodeo in English. At fiestas, the rodeo was a way for the vaqueros to show off their skills and challenge one another. The modern day rodeo is still a way for the cowboy to demonstrate the skills he is adept at performing. The arena is the perfect place to show off the meaning of “to go around.”

Estampida became Stampede in English. In the old west, on trail rides, a stampede was something to inspire fear. Crazed animals running flat out would trample anything in their path.

There are many more terms we borrowed from the Spanish language, but these are a few that are common in western historical fiction. Which ones were new to you? Do you have any others to add to the list? I am doing a giveaway of my newest release, The Ranchero’s Love. Leave a comment and include your email address to be entered in the giveaway.

Rosalinda knows she will never escape her past, both the choices forced on her

and the mistakes she’s made. She longs to find a place to live in peace—where she can learn to mother her children and where Lucio Armenta won’t be a constant reminder of the love she can never have. Lucio wants to marry. However, Rosalinda, the only woman he’s ever been attracted to, doesn’t meet the ideals he’s set for his future wife. When he discovers she, and her adorable brood, are accompanying him to his sister and brother-in-law’s, he objects. An objection that is overruled. When secrets from Lucio’s past are exposed, and Rosalinda faces choices no woman should have to make, will their growing love, and their faith, survive? 

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.

Nancy and her husband have five children and two grandsons. 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: nancyjfarrier.com.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Royal Gorge War

In the Old West, the fastest gun usually won the fight and the first to claim a right-of-way usually won the passage.

But not always.

Sometimes things escalated into war. Even a quiet one.

The Royal Gorge War, or Railroad War, was fought along Colorado’s stretch of the Arkansas River 140 years ago following the discovery of silver in Leadville. Two major railroads wanted first dibs on the commerce generated by such a find, and they raced to clear a rail bed and lay track to an elevation of more than 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.

Trouble was, the Rockies are called “rocky” for a reason.

The quickest way to wealth followed the Arkansas River through a solid-granite gorge just west of Cañon City. At its narrowest, the gorge pinched down to 30 feet with sheer rock walls rising nearly a quarter of a mile. There wasn’t room for a footpath at that point, much less two railroads.

In 1878, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway had a terminal at Pueblo, Colorado, 35 miles east of Cañon City, gateway to the gorge, referred to at the time as the Grand Canyon of the Rockies. Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad already had tracks in the Arkansas River Valley that ended much closer to Cañon City, only three-quarters of a mile east.

That spring, with silver in their sights, Santa Fe rushed a crew to the mouth of the gorge and began grading for a track bed. The D&RG frowned upon what they considered usurpation and sent crews to the same site. But it was too late. Santa Fe workers blocked their entrance into the narrowing passage, and the war was on.

Roughly 300 men worked in the gorge for Santa Fe, and the D&RG tried to thwart their progress by building stone forts at the opposite end of the gorge. A Civil War veteran by the name of James R. DeRemer designed dry-laid rock breastwork for fighting battles, and several of these DeRemer Forts cropped up along the river, including one at Texas Creek, complete with gun ports and great views of the track. D&RG sympathizers sabotaged Santa Fe graders by rolling rocks down on them and stealing tools. The guerilla-type warfare lasted nearly two years.

The courts intervened and gave D&RG the right-of-way. However, shareholders feared financial ruin and convinced management to lease the line to Santa Fe. Santa Fe built up business away from Denver, and the mood swung from bad to worse. D&RG sought to break the lease and win an injunction barring Santa Fe from operating the line. “Troops” were mustered.

ALT="Bat Masterson 1879"
U.S. Marshal, Bat Masterson, 1879
Wikipedia Public Domain
Railroad lawyers on both sides argued the case in Colorado courts, and the fracas eventually landed in the Supreme Court who ruled for D&RG. Santa Fe quietly hired a U.S. Marshal, former Kansas sheriff, W.V. “Bat” Masterson. With the help of his pal, J.H. “Doc” Holliday, Masterson gathered about 60 men (some accounts say 150), including gun slingers like Ben Thompson, “Dirty” Dave Rudabaugh and “Mysterious” Dave Mather, and took over the Santa Fe roundhouse in Pueblo.

In June 1879, R.F. Weitbrec, treasurer of the D&RG, met with Chief Engineer J.A. McMurtrie, Sheriff Henly R. Price, and Pat Desmond, a deputy with the Rocky Mountain Detective Association, seeking a way to oust Masterson and his men from the roundhouse.

A cannon at the state armory in Pueblo seemed like a logical weapon to appropriate, but the D&RG boys quickly discovered that Masterson and his bunch already had it at the roundhouse, aimed right at them.

D&RG’s McMurtrie, Price, and Desmond rounded up fifty men and passed out ammunition and rifles. History says they stormed the telegraph office on the Santa Fe station platform, crashed through the doors, and sent Masterson’s men scrambling out the back windows. Then the fifty headed for the roundhouse.

Apparently, McMurtrie and Masterson discussed the situation, and Masterson told his men to stand down.

The battle was over.

Though there was little gunfire at the roundhouse, one of Masterson’s men was allegedly shot in the back and another reportedly lost a front tooth, later replaced with a shiny gold substitute free of charge by Masterson’s compadre, Doc Holliday.

ALT="The iron bridge or hanging bridge of the Royal Gorge, 1879."
The Iron Bridge, also known as the Hanging Bridge,
suspended from the granite walls of the Royal Gorge
in 1879. Gurnsey, B. H. (Byron H.), 1833-1880,
Photographer. Wikimedia Commons

At the narrowest point in the gorge, tracks had to be suspended above the water, and an incredible piece of engineering enabled the construction of the hanging bridge, attached to shear rock walls along the north side of the gorge. Kansas engineer, C. S. Smith, designed a 175-ft. girder held by “A” frames that anchored it to the walls. Cost: just under $12,000 – a lot of money in 1879.

In 1880, both railroads signed the “Treaty of Boston.” The right-of-way went back to D&RG, and they paid Santa Fe $1.8 million for the railroad it had built in the gorge, the grading it had completed, materials, and interest.

The line reached Salida on May 20, 1880 and pushed on to Leadville in July.

A decade later, the access allowed passengers to cross the continent via rail. Over time, alternative routes opened up, and passenger service ceased in 1967.
ALT="Passengers standing along the hanging bridge of the Royal Gorge in 1908."
The Hanging Bridge at the bottom of the Royal Gorge in 1908.
(Photo: Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center)

Today, the area that prompted such struggle, both in and out of court in the 1800s, is called the Royal Gorge. The local Royal Gorge Route Railroad follows the famous route through the gorge on a two-hour round-trip train ride enjoyed by tourists from around the world and area residents alike.

The engineering marvel of the hanging bridge remains intact, and supports trains to this day (www.royalgorgeroute.com).
Today's Royal  Gorge Route Railway traversing
the 139-year-old Hanging Bridge.

ALT="Book cover for Straight to My Heart"
Read how ranching families may have been affected by the Royal Gorge War in Straight to My Heart. In this second installment of The Cañon City Chronicles, old enemies might become new friends—and more—until Whit Hutton tries to tell Livvy what a woman can and cannot do on her grandfather's cattle spread.

Davalynn Spencer writes about cowboys, their business, and their brides. For more information, connect with her at www.davalynnspencer.com

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wattle Fencing

by Pam Hillman

Like many of the HHH bloggers, my blog posts come out of some obscure fact that I need while writing my novels. Today’s blog is no exception. I needed to know a bit about wattle fencing for the latest novel I’m working on.

In colonial times, wattle fencing was the best way to protect the garden from rabbits and other critters intent on eating up a family's food plot. While some fences were built to keep wild animals out, some were built to keep domesticated animals in.

Anyway, as soon as the subject of wattle fencing came up, I knew I had to at least have a working knowledge of the process. But before I get to that, let me tell you what wattle fencing is, and a bit of the history behind it.

Most of us probably associate wattle fencing with medieval times, but it’s still in use in some parts of Europe and other parts of the world today. Historically, these fences were utilitarian, but there are many instances where they are merely ornamental. It’s a great way to build a fence if the goal is to keep out small animals. And in some cases, the fences can become living hedges capable of turning away larger animals.

Wattle fencing can be made from a variety of wood, but one of the best options is willow. By using sturdy willow posts about two feet apart, and weaving flexible willow saplings — “suckers” or “withies” — in and out of the posts, gardeners down through the ages have created strong, sturdy blockades to keep rabbits and other small animals out of their food plots.

Depending on the type of animals attacking their gardens, they might have to build a taller fence with sturdier materials. Even if the fence is already completed and is only three to four feet tall, smaller limbs and twigs can be added to the top to form a taller barrier that might turn away a deer.

Now, the cool part about willow fences. Willow tends to take root and suckers will grow up, twining in and out of the fence. All this extra growth might not be aesthetically pleasing to someone who just wants a pretty fence, but I imagine any farmer’s wife who was fortunate enough to have their wattle fence take on a life of its own was happier than a pig in a wallow.

If the posts took root, then maintenance would be so much easier, keeping those unwanted critters out of the precious vegetable garden that had to feed the family for the winter.

Some farmers even took the idea of a small wattle fence a step further and “pollarded” or “coppiced” willow trees so they would have a supply of sucker growth to keep their fences in repair and to construct other willow crafts (as in rocking chairs and baskets).

The best time to build a willow fence is in the springtime when the suckers and new growth are green and supple. It's much harder to work with come summer as my poor characters found out. But even in summer, willow can be soaked to make it more pliable.

There are some amazing examples of woven wattle fences on the internet and I would love to post them here, but don't want to infringe on anyone's copyright. I pinned several here on this Wattle Fencing Pinterest board. Enjoy! 

And then I found this video where these ladies made a wattle fence. The end is really cute. Love the moss they added.

All this research (and the video!) has me itching to make a wattle fence. Hmmm, I suppose I need to plant a garden first.

Have you ever seen a wattle fence, or possibly even built one yourself?

I'm so excited to let y’all know that The Road to Magnolia Glen, book #2 in my Natchez Trace Novel series released last week. Squee! To celebrate, Tyndale is hosting TWO really cool giveaways.

Click HERE to enter!

They’re also hosting a kitchen-themed giveaway at Tyndale.com, including a set of colorful bowls, Mason Jar measuring cup set (which is the cutest thing ever!), and a copy of both The Promise of Breeze Hill & The Road to Magnolia Glen. You can enter this giveaway HERE. Ends in six days (I’m not sure if that’s the 18th or the 19th, so don’t put it off and miss out.)

Enter Goodreads Giveaway!

They’re also giving away ONE HUNDRED digital copies on Goodreads. Wow! Hop over to Goodreads to enter the giveaway HERE. Ends June 30th.

Even if you already have a copy of both (or either) books, feel free to enter. If you win, you can gift the books to your BFF. (I’d keep the bowls and the Mason Jar measuring cups if it was me. Just sayin’)

And thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed my books. I love to hear from you, so if you've posted a review, blogged about one of my books, or given me a shout-out on a social media platform, let me know. I love to share what you share!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ellis Island Hospital AND Giveaway!

Ellis Island-- When you hear that name what does it make you think? Millions of immigrants flooding into our country? That's what it has always made me think. But the immigration center was just a part of the history of Ellis Island. Let me share with you some interesting facts that goes beyond the immigration center.

It didn't take long with the flood of immigrants coming into the country to realize checks and balances were needed. They couldn't bring in sick people and expose the United States population to possible epidemics of tuberculosis, typhus, cholera, or trachoma (contagious bacterial infection of the eye). Before the time of antibiotics, all these diseases could be devastating if they hit the vast population. 

Original building before fire of 1897

It was in September of 1892, the year Ellis Island opened for immigration that a ship arrived in port with several cases of cholera. The Island had no hospital. Every ship then was put in quarantine to check for disease before allowing to proceed to land. The passengers found to have contagious diseases were then taken off ships at quarantine and transferred to one of two hospitals on either Hoffman or Swinburne Island.

When the original immigration building burnt down they immediately made plans to rebuild, but they added a hospital and surgeons house to the plans. 

New immigration center built after the fire.

Because of the belief that diseases could not cross a body of water, they chose to put the hospital across a body of water--but they had no close neighboring island.

Remember this was still in horse and buggy day! I found this particularly interesting. They needed more buildings but the small three acre Island wouldn't hold what they needed so they built an island. To create the land they needed, they drove wooden pillars down into the ground beneath the water, putting them tightly  together. When they had formed their rectangular outline with tight wooden beams, they pumped the water out of the center. Then they used the debris acquired from digging the subway to fill the massive hole and make the Island.

Two Islands were eventually built to fill the growing needs. The first new Island housed the hospital administration and contagious diseases ward. The second new Island housed the psychiatric ward. With the edition of islands, Ellis Island grew from 3 acres to 27 acres.

During the first World War immigration dropped drastically. In 1917 the island was used as a hospital for the United States Army. The Navy used it for a way station and also a detention center for enemy aliens. Just a year later the Army takes over most of the island and makes a way station to treat sick and wounded American servicemen.

If you'd like to read more about Ellis Island and more interesting facts and famous people who came through the Island you can read another post I wrote here.  

Do you have any family members that came through Ellis Island? Have you done any research into your family genealogy?  Was you surprised that two of the islands were man-made back in the late 1800's. 


New covers for my novellas!  If you'd like to be entered to win choice of these books and choice of format answer one of he above questions or leave a comment below. Don't forget to leave your email address.  

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.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Gowns from 1800 to 2018

Gabrielle Here:

I've loved using Pinterest as a way to collect pictures of clothing for my characters. My stories have been set from 1792 to 1927, so I've gathered images from numerous eras. Today, I thought it would be fun to watch the amazing transformation women's gowns have taken from 1800 to 2018. 

It was interesting to discover that somewhere around 1930 designers started modifying designs from previous generations and "updating" them. The trend has continued to this day. Since 2000 it's hard to determine what the "style" has been. It's such a combination of many eras.

I was also surprised to find that some gowns were only slightly modified from one decade to another, but there are a few decades that changed drastically (such as the 1910s to 1920s).

Here are some of my favorite gowns from the past two hundred years.

c. 1800

c. 1810

c. 1820

c. 1830

c. 1840

c. 1850

c. 1860

c. 1870

c. 1880

c. 1890

c. 1900

c. 1910

c. 1920

c. 1930

c. 1940

c. 1950

c. 1960

c. 1970

c. 1980

c. 1990

c. 2000

c. 2010

My favorite two are from the 1850's and the 1910's. 

Your Turn: What is your favorite era? If you could choose, which gown would you bring back? Which one would you leave in history? If you didn't have a choice, and you had to live and work in one of these gowns every day, which would it be?

In May, I had a new release in the Backcountry Brides Romance Collection. My story, Love's Undoing, begins in 1792 on the banks of the Mississippi River in what would one day become central Minnesota. Abi McCrea is the daughter of a Scottish fur trader and an Indian mother. She has always longed to see life outside the fur post and finally gets a chance to travel to Montreal with Henry Kingsley, an agent from the North West Company. But life in Montreal isn't what Abi has expected, and when the unlikely romance develops between her and Henry, she if left to wonder if she could ever fit into his world...

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events.

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