by Miralee Ferrell
I love research, and I have to say that Tombstone was my favorite town to visit while writing a book set there, with Baker City, Oregon, coming right behind as I researched the Love Blossoms in Oregon series (my current). But I’d like to share some real people and events who populated Tombstone I found so interesting that I wove some of them into my book.
Reverend Endicott Peabody was the pastor of the Episcopal church and was known to be a brave and good man. When he saw the churchyard needed a fence, he marched into the Oriental saloon where a big game was going on and passed the plate. They filled it with chips to overflowing. The pastor cashed them in, built the fence, and had a little left over.
All residents of the city, even those normally shunned by church people, were well received in his church. Even the loose women of the camp would regularly attend the Episcopal services, then depart for the saloons to resume their work at the end of the worship. Most men of the church-going element thought nothing of taking a few drinks on Sunday morning before church, and afterward stopping by the saloon for a few more drinks or even to sit in on a game of chance. Until Rev. Peabody came to town and started a campaign to finish the partly started church building, the congregation met in Ritchie’s Hall, a flimsy wooden structure with a torn canvas roof, used as a theater with a dance hall adjoining the rear where voices and music could be heard during the service. My wedding at the end of the book took place in this church, and these are my photos of the actual, historic one in Tombstone.
The city marshal was on hand as the loaded stages came in and saw to it that all exposed firearms were deposited away from view, or confiscated. Any man who ventured onto Allen Street with a derby or high hat would soon lose sight of said head covering, also. Off it would fall (or be knocked off), as first one, then another, would bunt it along with a kick, soon making it an object not worth recovering. But the owner generally took this playfulness with good nature, soon falling in line by wearing the regulation sort of cowboy headgear. Often the crowd would chip in to provide the price of a new hat for the tenderfoot. This ‘event’ was woven into my story.
Known in Tombstone as The Angel of Mercy, Nell Cashman established the Russ House, a restaurant featuring ‘the best meals in town’. Not yet thirty, no scandal was ever associated with her name. She brought her widowed sister and five children with her from Tucson to Tombstone and when the sister died in 1883 she raised the children as her own. She took up charitable causes, helped the sick and injured, and took collections. Few could refuse her pleas for donations to aid her worthy causes.
|The original building that housed Nellie Cashman's Cafe|
When the sheriff was preparing to hang five men, Nellie took it upon herself to worry about their souls. She volunteered to hear the confessions of two men who were Catholics (the same as her) and converted the other three. When she discovered tickets were being sold to watch the hanging and seating built in the form of a grandstand, she recruited several rugged miners to help, and at 2 in the morning, they reduced the grandstand to kindling. It was too late to build another one before the hanging, so no tickets were sold. Nell was a prominent secondary character in Love Finds You in Tombstone, AZ.
A popular saying in the area - for just cause on both counts - was that the two greatest causes of disease or death in the silver camp were whiskey and cold lead. Whiskey was the cause of the first of two major fires which destroyed much of downtown Tombstone when a barrel of whiskey exploded. This event was also depicted in my book.
|Crystal Palace Saloon today--very little has changed since 1880|
The Crystal Palace escaped destruction in both fires, although in the first, its principal competitor just across the street, the Oriental, was leveled. But after both episodes of devastation, new construction was started while ashes still were hot. It truly was the Era of the Optimists. Both the Oriental and the Crystal Palace played parts in my story.
Big Nose Kate's Saloon
This popular saloon of today first got its start as the Grand Hotel in September, 1880. Declared one of the finest hotels in the state, it was luxuriously furnished, provided thick carpeting, and its walls were adorned by costly oil paintings. Providing 16 bedrooms, each with a 'view', they were fitted with solid walnut furnishings, toilet stands, fine fixtures and wallpaper. The hotel opened with an invitation only ball on September 9, 1880. My hero stayed in this hotel for a night or two when he first came to town.
A TRIPLE Drawing! Win Miralee's three-book set of the Love Blossoms in Oregon series, including the brand new Dreaming on Daisies, just released. Leave a comment telling any or all of the following:
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Miralee Ferrell is a multi-published, award-winning author of 11 books. She lives in the Pacific NW with her husband of 42 years, where they enjoy working in their yard and garden, riding horses and playing with their dogs. Two of Miralee’s books in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series are currently on sale in ebook format—Blowing on Danelions at $1.99 and Forget Me Not (a 162 pg novella) at .99, both through October 15.
When her father’s debts, brought on by heavy drinking, threaten Leah Carlson’s family ranch, she fights to save it. When handsome banker Steven Harding must decline her loan request, he determines to do what he can to help. Just as he arrives to serve as a much-needed ranch hand, Leah’s family secrets—and the pain of her past—come to a head. They could destroy everything she’s fought for. And they could keep her from ever opening her heart again.
This is historical romance that offers hope and healing to the deepest wounds in a woman’s past.