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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Women were the backbone of the west ~ Nan O'Berry

 As writers, we write about the heroic cowboy swooping in and saving the damsel. But those ladies of years gone by, were not such delicate creatures. No sir, they had us beat by a long shot.

These women had to deal with living outside in the elements until their homes were constructed. In hoop skirts, three petticoats, and a tightly laced corset, they worked right along side their man. Some brave souls even undertook the cattle drives. 

Margaret Borland; Texas State Historical Association

One such woman was Margaret  Borland. Married not once, but three times, she survived the Yellow Fever that killed her husband. With over 1,000 head of cattle to get to market, she saddled up, and began the arduous journey up the Chisholm Trail to the rail head in Kansas. It had to be a hard and lonely job. Imagine a woman being the boss in times were women were not thought of as having a strong heart or mind. Not only did was her drive successful, she accomplished it with three children in tow. 

Some women took to the drives with the ease of a man. Minta Holmsley followed her husband as he drove cattle up the trail. She nursed the cowboys, even developing a cure for poison oak. She was a smart business woman and when she noted the fall of cattle prices, she negotiated a sale on her own that netted her family a good sum.

It seems to me, that the women of the cattle trails were a pretty good backbone to the development of the west.

Until Next time,



If you are interested in other facts about the women of the cattle drives, be sure to check out this book

A Bride of the old Chisholm Trail  by Mary Burton

or these two articles

10 Bold Texas Women Who Blazed the Cattle Trails

Sidesaddles and Sunbonnets

Monday, October 25, 2021

Halloween Fun

Thanks for joining me here on Cowboy Kisses. I appreciate each one of you. 


I suppose most of you, if you are anything like me, are getting ready for Halloween. It’s one of my favorite holidays. How about you? 


My kids are all grown with children of their own, yet we still put on the annual Halloween party each year. We have a feast of yummy food, hot chocolate, games, and the parents take their children trick or treating. We dress up in costumes which is my favorite part. Do you still dress up? If you don’t, you should. It’s fun and you can be whatever you want to be. Plus, the children get a real kick out of it!



We love Halloween so much that my son and I wrote a short spookish story for you to enjoy if you dare:


Shy sat down her book even though it was one of her favorites she couldn’t concentrate on it tonight. Roman was on her mind and the fact they’d be late for the masquerade party if he didn’t arrive soon. 


He should have come home by now. Where is he? What’s taking him so long was the question laying heavy on her mind. To be truthful, she had noticed him acting different the last few days and wondered if the reason for his tardiness had anything to do with it?


Her chair scraped the floor as she stood up moving to the wood barrel. Shy lifted out a medium sized chunk of alder wood, and then added it to her dwindling fire. She strolled to the window as she had done many times tonight hoping to see Roman trotting down the trail. 


It was getting quite dark; the bright full moon is all she could see. The wind was fierce. Tree limbs thrashing together making sharp whipping sounds. She heard the coyotes howling not too far off in the distance. She trembled. 


Something was wrong. Roman is never late. Suddenly the rain came pounding down on the roof and she heard the thunder like dynamite blowing out the side of a mountain, surrounding her cabin. Lightning struck a tree and it sounded like it was the old pine tree right next to her home. 


“Sweet Jesus!” She shrieked, as the tree broke through the roof crashing down onto her house. The tree’s trunk punched straight through the wall. Falling backwards, Shy had just managed to evade it. 


Unfortunately, the fireplace wasn’t so lucky. Nor was her house. The fire spread rapidly, igniting the debris left from the wide gaping hole that was supposed to be her wall.


Shy ran to the Lean to and grabbed a couple of buckets then hurried outside to the well. She filled the buckets and ran back inside. She threw the water on the fire and then sped back outside for more water. She followed the same routine several times before coming to the realization that she might not get the fire out by herself. 


The howling was getting closer so she stopped to get her rifle, coat, and boots thinking she would have to sleep in the barn tonight, and she’d probably need the protection. Especially if her husband did not make it home tonight. Then she continued to the well still wondering where her husband was. 


She prayed, “Heavenly father please let Roman be safe, and bring him here soon.  I don’t think I can put out this fire by myself. Please help me save our home, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”


Suddenly as if on que the rain grew stronger, heavier, and before she knew it it was raining cats and dogs. The rain poured from the sky until the last embers were out and then stopped as fast as it had started. She breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the good lord for his help.


Shy, knew she wasn’t out of hot water yet, though. Part of her living courtiers was wide open to the world full of smoke and the howls were inching closer. Terrified

though she was she managed her escape towards the barn. Taking one last glimpse at her decimated house she ducked inside. 


Shy pulled the side barn door shut with a slam; then locked it. The young wife made her way to the ladder on the other side of the room. Once elevated, she could see outside from a small platform on the second floor that was meant to be hay storage. 


“Where in the hell is, he?” She questioned in her heavy western dialect, scanning the landscape outside for any indication of life. 


Just as she was doing this something caught her eye. Back behind her house off against the tree line a massive shadow was silhouetted by the lights of her house if only for moment. 


The lights of the remaining candles luminating her home began flickering and finally died out altogether. The figure was gone in seconds with the illumination. Shy, unsure of what she had just viewed inched her way towards the side of the platform peering once again into the dark. 


That’s when she heard the noises. Like claws ripping deeply into scattered lumber. A jar fell and crashed with a loud Bang, causing Shy to yelp in surprise. Was it just the wind? She hadn’t the slightest idea. But she wasn’t just gonna sit 

around here all night to find out. She was going to investigate.  


Shy checked the chamber of her weapon. Living out on the frontier required that she must always be prepared to protect herself, and tonight was no different. Her weapon was fully loaded, and with her husband gone, she needed all the help she could get. 


Descending the ladder Shy fumbled through the darkness below. Her fingers reached out and felt across a shelf she was familiar with. Finally, she found the lantern they’d always kept in the barn and ignited the flame. Shy saw out across the distance separating her from the house. There stood a massive creature. She wasn’t sure if he was man or beast. Long hair seemed to cover most of its body and head. Big sharp teeth. Muscles upon muscles and his clothes were ripped as if he had grown out of them rapidly. 


He moved toward her slowly, carefully as if not to frighten her. With each movement he seemed to shrink. Even his face. Suddenly she noticed he looked familiar. The clothes he was wearing were Roman’s. The realization hit her hard. My husband is a Werewolf! BooYah

Thanks’ for taking a few moments out of your valuable time to read. Happy Halloween! Be safe.

If you’d like to reach out to me my email address is:

Find my books on Amazon. Here’s the link:

Friday, October 22, 2021

Columbia Gold Mining and Water by Zina Abbott

In the California gold fields, there was one resource that was almost of greater worth than gold: WATER. Without the wet stuff, it was almost impossible to effectively remove the gold from the soil and crushed rock.


Stanislaus River with inset (ctsy Google Maps) showing relationship of Columbia and South Fork of the Stanislaus river to the Stanislaus River.

 Columbia in the southern Sierra Nevada Foothills, which today is preserved as a state park, is a mostly dry region with seasonal streams that flowed from the first rains in autumn or early winter until late spring or early summer after the rains ceased. The area very seldom received snowfall. The nearest river that carried snowmelt year around was the Stanislaus, but it was several miles from the gold-rich land of Columbia.


Originally known as "Hildreth's Diggings," gold was discovered in Columbia in March of 1850 by a party of miners, most of whom came from the state of Maine. In 1851, the Tuolumne County Water Company (TCWC) was founded to provide the water needs of both Columbia and the surrounding regions. The plan was to divert water from the South Fork of the Stanislaus River by means of flumes, ditches, and reservoirs. These carried water for long disances and were expensive to build. This resulted in high water rates for miners to wash their gold.


Water rates table courtesy Columbia State Park Museum

Water rates were quoted in “Miners Inches,” which legally measured the amount of water that flowed through an opening one inch in diameter under twenty pounds of pressure for twenty-four hours. The opening in the guage boxes could be increased or decreased by means of a sliding device. Guage boxes were placed in the water ditches wherever needed and checked by “ditch tenders.”

Disgusted over what they perceived to be unfair water rates, several miners banded together to create their own water company by diverting water from what they considered the more reliable Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River. When the sixty-mile project finished in 1858, it was described by a San Francisco newspaper as “the most stupendous work of the kind in California.” With the predictable supply now available, hydraulic mining using giant “monitors,”or hose nozzles, began operating by directing the powerful water force against the walls of Maine Ditch (The area that is now the parking lot for the state park), digging it deeper and deeper in search of gold.


Like the Tuolumne County Water Company, they soon realized the extensive cost in materials and labor that were involved in building flumes. In addition, by the time the water supply was ready to reach Columbia, the easy-to-mine placer gold were almost depleted. In 1859, this company went broke and it was put up for auction. Its network of flumes and ditches were purchased by the TCWC.


The transition did not go smoothly. Disgruntled shareholders of the defunct water company blew up flumes and ditches, threatened TCWC company trustees, and, it is believed, were responsible for killing several ditch tenders. It was not until 1861 that a truce was negotiated.

The TCWC continued to expand for several years. It bought several other water companies in the county. It considered expanding into Merced County, but changed their plans when it became apparent that both the population and water demand had dropped, which affected their revenues. After reorganizing and going through name changes several times, it was bought out by Pacific Gas & Electric Company in the 1920s.

Maine Ditch, Columbia, about 1870s

The Tuolumne County Water Company only handled water for commercial use, such as in first, placer mining, and, later, hydraulic mining. Water for domestic use was supplied by the New England Water Company organized in 1854. Why New England, you ask? The founders of Columbia plus many others came from New England. That is also the reason the main ditch south of the main part of town which carried the seasonal stream on which the town relied was named MAINE Gulch, not Main Gulch. This area was torn up during the years of hydraulic mining.


Daniel Fraser of New England Water Co., Ctsy Columbia State Park Museum

After the the first big fire in Columbia, the New England Water Company constructed seven cisterns beneath the streets of Columbia to hold water for domestic and fire-fighting use. A square lid to one of these cisterns may be seen today in front of the firehouse on State Street. This early water system remained in use until the 1950s.


There were also water ditches build along the edges of several of the streets in Columbia, remnants of which are still visible today. I’m not sure if that was part of the Tuolumne County Water Company, the New England Water Company, or built later to capture water runoff.


 In my most recent release, I've included issues surrounding water use both in Columbia and other mining communities in the Mother Lode foothills and how it affected the growing agricultural communities downstream. To find the book description and purchase link for Madeline, please Compatible with MacBook MacBook Pro 13 inch, Hard Plastic Shell.




The majority of my information came from the displays in the Columbia museum and the displays around Columbia State Park.






Tuesday, October 19, 2021

REFILLING THE WELL By Kathleen Lawless

 I recently learned that creativity burnout is a real thing.  I always felt lucky not to suffer from writer’s block, which I avoid by working on more than one story at a time.  But this is different.  It’s affecting not only my writing, but other creative endeavors, like what to make for dinner and what to wear.  Someone likened it to running out of gas, only refilling ¼ tank, but expecting to travel as far as with a full tank.  Yup, that sounds right.  And it can happen to anyone at anytime.

 In the past, I was really good at taking myself on an Artist’s Date.  I knew the importance of feeding the muse, refilling the well, honoring my creative soul, however you like to think of it.  But things have changed.  I can’t just spontaneously drop into a museum or art gallery for a wander.  Decorating stores and galleries are by appointment only for serious buyers, not starving artists. Wilderness trails and parks are clogged with so many people that a visit there is no longer a peaceful, nourishing experience.   Book stores have a line up to go in and empty shelves when you do get in.  There have been no outdoor concerts. 

 I’m muddling through.  Kindness towards myself goes a long way.  Talking to friends helps.  Plus, I’m lucky enough to be involved in a variety of multi-author projects where I have a commitment to the other writers, and a loose concept to tease my malnourished imagination.  Like my next book, Mail Order Noelle, An Impostor for Christmas series.  Why would a mail order bride deliberately impersonate someone else?  And when does the groom learn the truth?  Mid-Point?  Black Moment?  Can I pull this off and still have her be a sympathetic heroine?  Of course, I can.  That’s my job.  Here’s a little tease. 

           From the shadows of the train station in Boston, Noelle crossed her fingers as she watched her brother, Theodore, walk her sister Merry to the waiting train after first delivering her oversize trunk to a porter. 

          Theodore gave her sister a quick peck on the cheek, then watched her board the train.  Noelle inched further into the shadows as he turned, walked past her, and exited the station.  The second he was out of sight, Noelle scampered to the train’s steps just as the whistle blew and Merry disembarked, passing her a ticket.

          Merry gave her a hug that nearly squeezed the breath from her lungs.  “I will never forget this.” 

          “You better not,” Noelle said.  “Be happy.  You deserve it.”  Noelle disentangled herself and jumped onto the train just as it started to move.


You can view the entire series here

and preorder Noelle here   

Next month, I’ll tease you some more.  In the meantime, be good to you.  And please share any coping mechanisms you've found that help prevent you from burning out.

Kathleen Lawless blames a misspent youth watching Rawhide, Maverick and Bonanza for her fascination with cowboys, which doesn’t stop her from creating a wide variety of interests and occupations for her many alpha male heroes.   

Her hero, Steele, in HER UNDERCOVER COWBOY, is a modern-day cowboy, so when she was wooed by a man called Steel— while he’s not a cowboy, he is an alpha male and her forever hero.  Which is why all of her stories end Happily Ever After.

Sign up for Kathleen’s VIP Reader Newsletter to receive a free book, updates, special giveaways and fan-priced offers.



Monday, October 18, 2021

And the Parties Begin! by Paty Jager

I haven't been writing straight western romance these days. I have finally returned to the genre I love to write and read--mystery. 

However, my mysteries do have elements of western life and in some more than others a bit of romance. The series are all set in areas where there is ranching and rural life.  

You are probably wondering what parties has to do with my mystery writing. I will be participating in the Cowboy Kisses Annual Round Up, on Wednesday. 

I have some cute, old fashioned Christmas ornaments I'll be giving as a prize along with a print book with three of my contemporary western novellas from the Tumbling Creek Ranch series, and the first book in my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. 

The Shandra Higheagle Mysteries have the most romance in them, so far, of my mystery books. I'm starting to heat up things a bit in the Spotted Pony Casino mystery series by adding another male character who is interested in my female main character. Who isn't looking for a guy in her life. And now she has two! 

All of the Cowboy Kisses authors who blog here will be spending time at the Cowboy Kisses Facebook Page to visit with you and share how you can win prizes from 9:30 am - 1:30 pm (Mountain Time) at the Facebook page.

October is the month that starts the holiday season. We live too far from anyone to get Trick or Treaters other than our grandchildren. But I still like to decorate for each holiday- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It just makes things feel more festive. 

Do you like to attend holiday parties? Do you have a favorite holiday? 

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 51 novels, 8 novellas, and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

blog / websiteFacebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest   / Bookbub

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Thursday, October 14, 2021



Stories of lost treasure in the Wild West have inspired the idea for my third book, THE BOUNTY’S BETRAYAL, in my Runaway Outlaws series. I’m currently drafting this western romance due to release in 2022. Duke Logan and Samantha (Sam) Beckett chase a lost treasure in the wild Montana Territory of 1887.

There are numerous legends of outlaws who robbed stagecoaches or trains in the Wild West. With the threat of a posse after them, outlaws often would bury the loot. For those captured, retrieving it was impossible. To this day we wonder where all that loot is still buried, waiting to be discovered.

Over the centuries, thousands of stories have been told and retold. Have you heard the famous pirate legend of Jean Lafitte? According to the legend, Lafitte buried 20 chests of stolen treasure formerly belonging to the Emperor Napoleon. He buried the treasure in several locations along the Texas and Louisiana coast. Every now and then, a few lost gold coins surface and keep the legend of Lafitte alive.

Then there are the notorious outlaws of the Wild West like Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch. They are credited with burying thousands of dollars in Irish Canyon—a remote place in the Colorado Uintah Mountains. Some doubt this story because if they hid the mass fortune within reach, why travel all the way to Bolivia to start over? Perhaps they went to Bolivia with more than their bad reputations.

The fun part of these legends arises when we wonder where fact and fiction blend. As an author of historical western romance,  I draw ideas from the fascinating history of the American Wild West. 

See you next time,  


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Book 1 Available at:

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Book Blurb:

Duke Logan, a down-on-his-luck treasure hunter, was more determined than ever to find the elusive Captain’s Loot treasure. His father’s death spurred him on to find the missing clue necessary to solve the old outlaw legend. His adventure is only beginning when he shows up in the Montana Territory seeking the information he desperately needed. Instead, he finds a feisty dark-haired beauty who refuses to hand over the clue. Will Duke convince Sam to join him in the quest to find the lost treasure? Or will the treasure forever be lost?

Samantha (Sam) Beckett has successfully carved out a new life for herself, as a single woman. She swore off any man who wanted something from her. There was no chance of saying “I do” in her future. When Duke Logan shows up in town, wanting the very thing she yearned for, she digs in with more determination than ever. She refuses to lose out on the tantalizing dream of finding treasure she herself had searched for.

Their treasure hunt will thrill you as Duke and Sam dodge booby-traps, fight rival treasure hunters, and follow a worn treasure map leading them past betrayal, greed, and a centuries old legend more dangerous than they could have imagined.

Will Duke and Sam fall in love with more than a dream of holding the lost Captain’s gold? Or become yet another long line of cursed souls?

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A Shipwreck In The Sand

 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Near Fort Union - New Mexico
Photo property of the author

Traveling to the West is something many people choose to do today. There is much to recommend, the mountains, the plains, and all those areas encompass. Some stay for a brief time, others will make it a long-term stay. But what about those early days?

One of those early trails was the Santa Fe Trail. Recently, they celebrated the 200th anniversary of the trail. There has been much written about those early days. What some may not realize is the trail split off in mid-Kansas yet the trail came through Colorado in two places. The mountain trail went through what is now Lamar/La Junta and down through Trinidad through Raton Pass. Although longer, there was water along this route, but Raton Pass did create a challenge to traverse. 

Bent's Fort looking out the Front Gate
Photo Property of the Author

It was along this route that Williams Fort (Bent's Fort) was built. The fort was a major stop and international trading area for sixteen years.

The other route crossed the far southeast corner of Colorado. Although shorter, it also had the challenge of a long stretch without water. 

Ruins at Fort Union - New Mexico 
Photo property of the author

Both routes met at Fort Union and continued on through Las Vegas NM and onto Santa Fe. Today you can still travel the route. One can imagine what life might have been like for the teamsters and other travelers. So much can be learned by visiting sites along the way and reading diaries and books written during and just after that time. 

National Park Service - Bent's Fort

NPS Map of the trail

Susan Magoffin kept a diary of her time on the Santa Fe Trail. You can learn more about her here: Susan Magoffin

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Post (c) Doris McCraw All Rights Reserved