HUGE Thanks to all who have visited the campfire in 2013!! Your support and comments kept the fire burning! Hope y’all have nothing but the best in 2014!! See ya round the campfire!
Sorry, I didn’t get a Christmas story written this year, but the characters in my current project are the jealous types and didn’t give me time to think of anyone else. That and Cookie invited the whole clan up for Christmas and we’ve been busy cleanin’ up the camp and gatherin’ the festive grub. Fact is, Cookie’s out beatin’ the blankets as we speak.
Don’t look at me like that ya ol’ rawhide, get to beatin’, there’s buttons to be put on the gingerbread men when you’re done with that.
As I was saying, while working on different projects, I’ve been sidetracked more than once by one of my favorite parts of research…looking through old newspapers. Thought it might be entertaining (not as entertaining as watchin’ Cookie swearin’ as he beats blankets and decorates sugar cookies) to share a few of the Yuletide traditions and fun articles I’ve found thumbing through the Sheridan papers of yesteryear.
Personally, I love digging through these treasure troves of information. Newspapers used to cover everything from world events, local gatherings, who’s visiting who, whose cow was found in whose pasture.
At the turn of the Century, the Sheridan Inn offered its annual Christmas dinner a menu including. According to the Sheridan Post the Inn would be serving dinner from 5-7 with a menu of:
Oysters, caviar, young pig with apple sauce, goose stuffed with chestnuts, Belgian Hare, Venison. For those with discriminating tastes: Opossum, braised, with Sweet Potatoes. After your opossum you can indulge in green apple, mince, lemon-meringue pie, or English plum pudding with hard or brandy sauce. (I’d like the brandy to wash down the opossum, thank you.)
Coffeen’s store offered a wide selection of dolls, drums, toy stoves, whistles, swords, books as well as candy and nuts for the young’uns Christmas joys in 1900. We all know where good St. Nick was doing his shopping that year.
Of course, romance is always a welcome story during the Christmas season. The wedding of Angus Beaton of Manderson, Wyoming and Miss Catherine McBeth of Torrindon, Rosehire, Scotland, reported in 1909 saw a ten year romance find a happily ever after (or at least I like to think so):
“Bride Comes from Scotland to Marry”
“Eight years ago Beaton came to America to seek his fortune and his sweetheart agreed to wait until he should send for her. Beaton settled in Wyoming and is now fairly well-to-do. Miss Beaton came from Scotland unaccompanied and arrived a few days before the wedding, being interim the guest of Mrs. Rogers of this place.”
The same edition of the Daily Enterprise advertised bobsled rides to the Beckton dance. Couples who could afford a dollar, per couple, could dash through the snow to the little community just outside Sheridan for an evening of dancing, refreshments and maybe their own romance.
Some years saw Christmas take on a new meaning in Sheridan. In 1917, as the shadow of the Great War oozed over the United States, Sheridanites prepared with pleas for Peace and Good Will. Combating the doom, papers announced traditional celebrations would continue.
Instead of advertisements filled with special goodies Sheridan stores announced gift giving would take the form of useful things to wear and keep with toys still going to the youngsters. Only, many stores were not joyfully filling full-page ads with all the games and toys.
A new face appeared in the papers. The Red Cross declared a huge success to their Christmas fund drive. The funds would go towards a vast number of programs including: “hospital distributing service sends supplies to 3425 French military hospitals and preparing immense stores of emergency supplies for our own army. ..Operating six canteens for use of French soldiers… and children’s refuge and hospital at a point in the war zone.”
In the midst of scaling back on giving and digging deeper for charity, the people of Sheridan and the surrounding area did indeed find time to celebrate the peace they still enjoyed. Churches announced musical programs, masses and special programs for children and adults.
Individuals and social groups opened their homes and community centers for dances and socials.
“The guests at the Foster House are entertaining their friends at a very enjoyable dancing parting this evening. The rooms are festive with holiday decorations, excellent music has been engaged and the good spirits co-incident with the season will make the occasion memorable for its pleasure…”
“Mr. and Mrs. L.H. Brooks were hosts Thursday evening to a company of friends, entertainment taking the form of a musicale. Dancing and the serving of light refreshments concluded the evening.”
Still the message Christmas 1917 was summed up in the following letter in the Sheridan Post.
“Therefore at this Yuletide, which may be the last in which we all gather about the old fireside, we put from us temporarily all thought of things abhorrent and enjoy in American fashion the pleasures of family and reunions, feasting and gift giving, mindful of a supreme power and grateful to the same for having postponed for so long a time (of) evil days that may be in store for us. In the midst of national peril and with what hope we can summon for brighter things, we wish the people of our country the happiest Christmas possible to them.”
What a transformation occurred the very next year in the December 24, 1918 edition. Despite the flu epidemic and the resulting cancellation of a few children’s programs, reading the articles and advertisements one feel the relief, hope and excitement of a country witnessing the end of war and praying they won’t see it again.
As always the Post gave a running account of the movements of Sheridan County residents and visitors crossing the county’s borders.
“Hon. A.M. Halbert and family left Tuesday for a holiday visit to their former home in Missouri.”
“Mrs. Silas Cotey of Wheatland is visiting her sister, Mrs. John Winterling. She will remain several weeks.”
Traditional Christmas programs resumed, but as stated in an announcement: “On earth, peace”, takes on a deeper meaning than ever before and the feeling of “Good will toward men,” is universal.
Churches celebrated the birth of Christ with special programs and “Christmas trees and treats for the little kiddies.” Also promised, were festive Christmas trees lighting the windows of Sheridan.
The Red Cross’ column, the previous year filled with gloom, proclaimed a feast fit for the returning heroes. The train depot in Sheridan was turned into a dining hall.
“Returning soldier boys who fail to reach their homes but who are fortunate enough to pass through Sheridan during the holidays are not going to miss the good cheer of Christmas time. The Red Cross depot canteen workers are seeing to this and have provided such a feed as to almost make the boys cease to regret their absence from mother’s table. Roast turkey, roast chicken, cakes.”
Of all the articles and ads in the 1918 issue one seized my attention and touched my heart. Its message is simple, but in all the early 20th Century language and questionable grammar lies a joy for the season we all should strive to attain, and lessons we should put into actions. I didn’t change a thing. It’s exactly as it appeared in the Post almost a century ago, but it’s my message to you. Merry Christmas, y’all!
GOOD CHEER TO ALL THIS CHRISTMAS DAY by DeLos E. Brandon
“Christmas this year will be the best of all. We have won the war and that, in itself, is cause enough for rejoicing. The past year has been one of the most prosperous of all. America has maintained its name as the champion of freedom. The boys, victorious, are returning home. Some of them will arrive home in time for this wonderful day. Some homes will receive a letter that the son or husband will be home in the spring. Others, that are on their way now. O’…there are a million things one could mention!
And you are happy. You are trudging home late tonight, your arms loaded with bundles—presents for all. You haven’t overlooked a single one. And they, too, will be happy.
What a wonderful world this really is. Despite all the sufferings and hardships. Christmas comes at just the right time of the year. Should it come in summer, spring or fall, it would not, could not be appreciated as it is now. There is something in the spirit of Christmas, coming in the winter season, that endears it to the heart. In the tropics, this day of the year is never appreciated as it is in the northern climes.
Maybe it is the contrast between the cold, dreary outside and the warm hearth with the loving ones at home. Maybe it is—well, you know what I mean. There is an undefinable something that we have learned to love.
And, with all the happiness that will come to you, the many and varied presents, are you going to overlook the more unfortunate friends, neighbors, or acquaintances this year? Let’s not. Try and do something that will bring joy to some needy family or some lonesome person of whom you know. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and
A Merry, Merry Christmas to all!
Sheridan Post, Tuesday, December 24, 1918. Pgs 1-10
Sheridan Post, Tuesday, December 25, 1917. Pgs 1-8
Sheridan Post, Thursday, December 20, 1900, Pg 4
Sheridan Daily Enterprise, Friday, December 24, 1909, Pg 2
Thanks so much Alison and everyone else who stopped by Cookie’s fandango and wishing Tex lots of success!!!
Tex, may this be your first step down the trail to New York Times Bestseller!!!
See y’all round the campfire soon!
Sorry, we’re a bit late gettin’ this fandango started, but Cookie had to get the cake juuuust right…I swear sometimes that man can drive me to drink tainted water. Yeah, I’m talkin’ ’bout you Mr. Top Chef…Get on over there and start cuttin’ that dad-burned cake and let’s get this party started…
WHOOO-EEEEE, YEEEEE-HAW, AND RING THE DINNER BELL, HOOT AND HOLLER!! We’re celebratin’ like it’s Christmas round the campfire and that’s because the brand new publisher, Prairie Rose Publications has just released it’s brand spankin’ new Christmas anthology WISHING FOR A COWBOY (and let’s be serious who’d turn away a cowboy if ya found one under the tree). Eight beautiful, heartwarming, tear educing, perfect holiday stories by eight beautiful, heartwarming and bordering on perfect authors!!
ANNND as excited as we all are here round the campfire for all the wonderful authors and the new publishing house, our buttons are plumb bustin’ for Kathleen Rice Adams, aka Tex!!! YIPPEEEEE KI YAY!!! This is Kathleen’s big premiere, but it won’t be her last. I read her story PEACHES in the anthology and if your heart doesn’t grow three sizes too big after finishing it then I’ll send Cookie round to slap ya upside the head with the cast iron skillet ’cause you are guaranteed to fall in love with Whit, Ruth, the children and yes even those three busybodies! Seriously, one of the best Christmas stories I’ve read!!
I can’t wait to read the other offerings! Knowing Cheryl Pierson, Livia Washburn, Phyliss Miranda, Tracy Garrett, Sarah J. McNeal, Jacquie Rogers, and Tanya Hanson each will be a sweet treat for the season!
Here’s a sneak peek of all the stories in WISHING FOR A COWBOY! AND FOLKS TEX IS OFFERIN’ UP A FREE E-COPY OF THE ANTHOLOGY TO ONE LUCKY COMMENTER!! YEP, IT’S A PARTY FOR HER AND SHE’S BRINGIN’ THE GIFT!! (Winner will be announced Sunday, November 3rd since Cookie held up the works…Don’t give me the skunk eye duffer, I told ya the first cake was fine…)
So, grab a hunk of cake (please just the cake not Cookie), a mug of Arbuckles and wish these fabulous authors and Prairie Rose all the best and smooth trails!! And Tex a big ol’ welcome to the ranks of published author and here’s to many, many, many more for everyone at Prairie Rose!!
“A Christmas Miracle” by Phyliss Miranda
“Outlaw’s Kiss” by Cheryl Pierson
“A Husband for Christmas” by Sarah J. McNeal
“Peaches” by Kathleen Rice Adams
“A Gift For Rhoda” by Jacquie Rogers
“Her Christmas Wish” by Tracy Garrett
“Covenant” by Tanya Hanson
“Charlie’s Pie” by Livia J. Washburn
HUGE CONGRATS GALS!!!
“Get out from under yer bedroll ya ol’ coot and get the coffee brewin’!”
Sorry, folks we’ll just havta get along with what’s left in the pot. We’re tellin’ ghost stories round the campfire today and ol’ Cookie’s shiverin’ in his boots.
Wyoming has her share of ghouls, ghosts, legends and lore that’s for sure. And here at the foot of the Bighorns we’re carving pumpkins and stockin’ up on candy for the little gobblins who will be knockin’ on our doors this Halloween. So, it’s a good time to share about those haunting voices carried on the Wyoming winds and the bumps in the night that send our heads under our pillows.
Here in Sheridan there are tales of Miss Kate Arnold still keeping watch over her beloved Sheridan Inn. Miss Kate arrived in Sheridan in the early 1900s and worked and lived at the inn until her death in the 1960s. She loved the Inn so much, she requested her ashes to be buried there and it’s said they were buried the wall of her room. Miss Kate is joined in her haunts by the son-in-law of Buffalo Bill Cody who took his life at the Inn after a series of business and personal failings. There is some speculation, however, that he didn’t take his life, but it was taken from him. These are joined by many other tales from beyond from Sheridan to Buffalo and everywhere in between. Today, I’d like to visit the in between at Lake DeSmet.
Lake DeSmet is named for Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet a Jesuit missionary priest to the Indians in the 1800s. The lake is a beautiful, tranquil body of water attracting fishermen and tourists. Pioneers, however, reported horses and dogs wouldn’t go near the lake and strange noises echoed across the water at night. Hidden under this gem of blue water are legends and secrets best left undisturbed…but we’re going to disturb them.
The low moans of a heart breaking it’s said belong to a Crow warrior, Little Moon. His band was camped along the lake, when Little Moon asked his sweetheart, Star Dust, to meet him at the edge of the water once the others went to sleep. Little Moon arrived at the spot before Star Dust. While he waited a mist hung over the lake and in the mist was the face of a beautiful girl, more beautiful than any girl he had ever seen.The vision beckoned Little Moon with a smile.
Hypnotized by the water enchantress, Little Moon viciously pushed Star Dust aside when she arrived and tried to put her arms around him. He turned back to the face in the mist to see it gone.
Star Dust cast herself into the water when repulsed by her lover. The next morning Star Dust’s body was found drowned by the red bluff north of the lake. Her father demanded revenge against Little Moon. The men of the band bound Little Moon to the rock and left him there to watch for his mysterious maiden.
Now, when the wind moans over the lake it’s said to be the faithless lover caller; the howls of a disloyal sweetheart. His spirit destined to wander around the shore looking for his maiden.
Another legend is that of one of the first Indian bands to camp near the lake. They tried to use the water for drinking and cooking, but found it to be bitter. Nothing in the area explained why the water would be acrid, so they believed its bitterness to be due to the presence of an evil spirit.
That night, terrifying sounds echoed around them and suddenly the lake was infested by great hordes of sea gulls. Throughout the night they soared and cried and swarmed. At dawn the gulls disbanded en masse and disappeared.
But the worst was yet to come. After breakfast the champion swimmer among the tribe ran to the lake’s edge, gave a happy whoop and plunged into the water. As the others watched he turned and opened his mouth as if to scream, his eyes widened in horror and he was sucked below the surface. They circled the lake, not daring to enter the water, but after a time when all was lost, they grabbed their belongings and fled the lake in terror.
Local ranchers and early pioneers reported a monster appearing from the mist and rising above the waters.Smetty, because every water monster needs a truly terrifying name, is a legendary creature thought to dwell in the subterranean caverns of Lake DeSmet. These caverns are speculated to be a faraway outlet from the Pacific Ocean.
Those who have seen Smetty report a monster 30 to 40 feet long with bony ridges along the back. His head is said to resemble that of a horse and rises from the water in a swimming motion. Others report a large alligator like creature and still others compare Smetty to the legendary Nessie of Loch Ness fame.
One rancher, whose home was near the lake, rose early and went into the fields. He heard a strange noise coming from the lake and turned to see a huge sea serpent rise from the water. It stayed only a second and then disappeared. His description of Smetty approached more of a dinosaur than any other.
Does a monster lurk under the waters of the lake? And does a Crow warrior still wail for his lost love? Well, guess you’ll just have to pitch a tent by the water and find out for yourself. (I’d bring a fishing pole with ya cause chances are better of catchin’ a trout)
“Now get out here Cookie! For Pete’s sake, we can hear your teeth chatterin’ clear over by the fire! And ya still need to get that ol’ tub filled for bobbin’ for apples!”
Guess we shouldn’t ‘ave set up camp so close to the Lake DeSmet. MwahaMwahahahaha…**dissolves into choking**
If you’re stopping by for Part Eight of the Widow’s Lawman, I’m so sorry it’s delayed. Life interfered with writing and I couldn’t get the chapter to turn out like Jake or Ellie wanted or I was happy publishing. I’m working on it, though, and hope to have it to you early this week!
Thanks for not resortin’ to a hemp party!
Howdy Folks!! Welcome to the campfire! Cookie has the coffee hot and the biscuits hard as a rock…Aw, come don’t go skulkin’ away ya ol’ so and so! **rolls eyes**
Well, y’all didn’t stop by to listen to me and my ornery cook carryin’ on. We’ve dusted off the best hollowed out logs and spit and polished our boots to celebrate Kat Flannery’s new release LAKOTA HONOR!!
Don’t miss out on this one folks! It’s a Western with an alpha hero, a heroine with healing powers and a fight for true love…It’s got everything!
Bestselling Western Romance author, Kat Flannery takes you on an exciting journey with the release of her new Historical Paranormal Romance, Lakota Honor.
Fate has brought them together, but will a promise tear them apart?
In the small town of Willow Creek, Colorado, Nora Rushton spends most of her days locked up in her home with a father who resents her and fighting off unwanted marriage proposals from the wealthy Elwood Calhoun. Marked as a witch, Nora must hide her healing powers from those who wish to destroy all the witkowin—crazy women. What she doesn’t know is that a bounty hunter is hot on her trail.
Lakota native Otakatay has an obligation to fulfill. He has been hired to kill the witkowin. In a time when race and difference are a threat and innocence holds no ground, courage, love and honor will bring Nora and Otakatay together as they fight for their freedom. Will the desire to fulfill his promise drive Otakatay to kill Nora? Or will the kindness he sees in her blue eyes push him to be the man he once was?
“Transport back to the old west with this paranormal historical, and its alpha hero, and a heroine hiding her secret talents.”
—Shannon Donnelly, author of the Mackenzie Solomon Urban Fantasy series
“Ms. Flannery doesn’t shy away from writing gritty scenes or about unpleasant topics…That’s what good writing is all about—bringing out strong emotions in a reader.”
—Peggy L. Henderson, bestselling author of the Yellowstone Romance Series
“Those who relish the conflict of a heroic half-breed trapped between the white man’s world and the Indian will fall in love with LAKOTA HONOR.”
—Cindy Nord, author of No Greater Glory
“LAKOTA HONOR weaves a fast paced and beautiful prose that lures you through every chapter and leaves you wanting more.“
—Erika Knudsen, paranormal author of Monarchy of Blood
Colorado Mountains, 1880
The blade slicing his throat made no sound, but the dead body hitting the ground did. With no time to stop, he hurried through the dark tunnel until he reached the ladder leading out of the shaft.
He’d been two hundred feet below ground for ten days, with no food and little water. Weak and woozy, he stared up the ladder. He’d have to climb it and it wasn’t going to be easy. He wiped the bloody blade on his torn pants and placed it between his teeth. Scraped knuckles and unwashed hands gripped the wooden rung.
The earth swayed. He closed his eyes and forced the spinning in his head to cease. One thin bronzed leg lifted and came down wobbly. He waited until his leg stopped shaking before he climbed another rung. Each step caused pain, but was paired with determination. He made it to the top faster than he’d thought he would. The sky was black and the air was cool, but fresh. Thank goodness it was fresh.
He took two long breaths before he emerged from the hole. The smell from below ground still lingered in his nostrils; unwashed bodies, feces and mangy rats. His stomach pitched. He tugged at the rope around his hands. There had been no time to chew the thick bands around his wrists when he’d planned his escape. It was better to run than crawl, and he chewed through the strips that bound his feet instead. There would be time to free his wrists later.
He pressed his body against the mountain and inched toward the shack. He frowned. A guard stood at the entrance to where they were. The blade from the knife pinched his lip, cutting the thin skin and he tasted blood. He needed to get in there. He needed to say goodbye. He needed to make a promise.
The tower bell rang mercilessly. There was no time left. He pushed away from the rocky wall, dropped the knife from his mouth into his bound hands, aimed and threw it. The dagger dug into the man’s chest. He ran over, pulled the blade from the guard and quickly slid it across his throat. The guard bled out in seconds.
He tapped the barred window on the north side of the dilapidated shack. The time seemed to stretch. He glanced at the large house not fifty yards from where he stood. He would come back, and he would kill the bastard inside.
He tapped again, harder this time, and heard the weak steps of those like him shuffling from inside. The window slid open, and a small hand slipped out.
“Toksha ake—I shall see you again,” he whispered in Lakota.
The hand squeezed his once, twice and on the third time held tight before it let go and disappeared inside the room.
A tear slipped from his dark eyes, and his hand, still on the window sill, balled into a fist. He swallowed past the sob and felt the burn in his throat. His chest ached for what he was leaving behind. He would survive, and he would return.
Men shouted to his right, and he crouched down low. He took one last look around and fled into the cover of the forest.
Kat Flannery has loved writing ever since she was a girl. She is often seen jotting her ideas down in a little black book. When not writing, or researching, Kat enjoys snuggling on her couch with a hot chocolate and a great book.
Her first novel, CHASING CLOVERS became an Amazon’s bestseller in Historical and Western romance. This is Kat’s second book, and she is currently hard at work on the third.
When not focusing on her creative passions, Kat is busy with her three boys and doting husband.
YEEE-HAW!!! Thank y’all so much for comin’ by the campfire, during the Cowboys and Lawmen blog hop! We had ourselves a real fandango and it was a pleasure meetin’ so many nice people! Hope y’all will come back and read the rest of THE WIDOW’S LAWMAN. If nothin’ else to support Sheriff Avery…that boy’s gonna need it. Well I dug deep into my Stetson and the winner of the $10 Amazon Card is….
I’ll be sending you an email, Shadow, so be on the look out! And check your Spam folder. If ya don’t hear from me by the end of today give me a holler here on the “Contact Me” page!
And don’t forget, everyone, be on the lookout to see if you won the Grand Prize!!!
See y’all soon!!
HOWDY! Welcome to the campfire! Grab a cup of coffee and make yourself to home. Find a seat on a hollowed out log, a bedroll spread on the ground, or a sexy cowboy’s lap! I write spicy Western Historical Romances, and I LOVE talking about cowboys and lawmen from the past, when the West was wild in all sorts of delicious ways (or current sexy cowboys and lawmen, I’m not particular).
I’m not published, YET, so I’m sorry I can’t offer a free book, BUT don’t let it be said we’re cheap here on the trail. For one lucky commenter I’m offering a $10 Gift Card from Amazon or B&N, winner’s choice!! And of course, all commenters will have a chance at the Grand Prize…A $100 Gift Card from Amazon or B&N!!!!
BUT that’s not all…Cookie show them what else we have…Oh fine, I’ll do it myself…Since y’all so generously stopped by, I’m giving a preview of my next FREE READ to be featured here starting May 11, 2013!! So keep on reading to the end of the post! If you’re new to the site, I’ve published two free reads here, “Race to Marry” and “Christmas Stroll” please take a look.
OH and if you’re new Cookie is my sidekick and I don’t keep him around for his biscuits…if ya get my drift.
Okay enough jabberin’ let’s get to the reason y’all stopped by…
What’s fun about writing lawmen in the old west is they were a colorful bunch, and often chosen from a lawless bunch. A writer can bring these dichotomies into Western romances to create multidimensional heroes. All but two of my stories take place in Wyoming. It’s where I grew up, where I returned after a brief absence, and the place I love. Most of Wyoming’s early lawmen were men with less than desirable pasts who were elected because:
1.) A town wanted a man who would look the other way regarding other nefarious deeds
2.) The best way to catch a thief is to hire a man who knows how they think
3.) These were men were respected or feared enough to keep law and order
One Wyoming lawman had all these characteristics and his life reads like a great plot for a book. This was William Galispie “Red” Angus (Even the name is great! Don’t you love it! Oops, sorry).
Born in 1849, William Angus grew up in Kansas when the territory was in the throes of a nasty guerrilla war over slavery. This warfare took its toll on young Angus. In 1862, when he was only 12 years old, he demanded that he be allowed to enlist in the Union army. He joined as a drummer boy. When discharged in 1865, at the ripe old age of 15, he’d witnessed some of the worst fighting of the Civil War, but instead of quelling his desire for danger he embraced it. Angus found work as a freighter in western Kansas, when such employment was considered highly dangerous. The Cheyenne, Arapahoe and Lakota Sioux were active in the area, and Angus was in Fort Wallace in 1867 during its siege.
Surviving these hostilities, Angus joined the 19th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and participated in a campaign against the Cheyenne. He was discharged in 1869, and though you’d think he’d had his quota of excitement he refused to seek a quiet life. He resumed freighting between Kansas and Oklahoma, and then worked for three years in Texas as a cowboy before spending a year as a teamster in Guatemala. He made his way back to the United States through California where he again found work as a cowboy and finally made his way to Wyoming driving a herd in 1880. He first came to Prairie Dog Creek in northern Johnson County, but relocated to Buffalo in 1881.
Not shockingly, Red Angus had red hair and though normally easygoing he possessed a fierce temper when riled. He was also known as a man whose courage was without question. In Buffalo, he became part of the Laurel Avenue and saloon crowd. Laurel Avenue being the area of Buffalo that catered to the baser needs of men. Angus became known as the “Mayor of Laurel Avenue,” and his first wife had been a prostitute in one of the brothels. He was no stranger to run-ins with the law. Territory v. Angus was the first criminal case filed in Johnson County. Angus was charged with assault for pistol-whipping a man. Tried and convicted in 1882, he paid of a fine of $80 with $5 charge for court costs.
Nearby Fort McKinney was a primary economic force in Johnson County, but cattle raising was the butter on the bread supporting a great number of cowboys and a few rich men. Big cattle companies dominated the southern half of the county, while smaller family outfits filled the northern half. Big cattle outfits in southern Johnson County, whether or not they held title, occupied and monopolized huge chunks of land, more than they could ever legally claim. They asserted rights under fictitious legal theories like “range rights” and “accustomed ranges.”
So what does that have to do with Red Angus?
By 1884, Red took an interest in becoming a lawman and started working toward that goal. He built a new saloon and became a bar man. He served on the town council and was elected chief of the fire department earning the respect of the citizens of Buffalo.
Trouble was brewing at the same time Red Angus was preparing to run for sheriff. The year 1888 saw huge divisions in Johnson County. Officials from the northern portion petitioned the Territorial Government to become its own county, Sheridan County, and won. Also, after a series of disastrous winters the cattle barons and small ranchers were scrapping for any grazing lands.
It was during this heated time, Red Angus, likable bar owner closely associated with Buffalo brothels ran against Frank Canton, model of an efficient sheriff. But the respect Angus had been earning swayed voters in Red’s favor. And in the community of Buffalo, owning a bar and having “unsavory associations” at brothels wasn’t always a bad thing. In the general election, Angus won 509 to 379. Angus’ election was contentious because it was well known he supported the small cattle ranchers, those the cattle barons accused of being rustlers.
By 1891 and 1892, this small Wyoming County was described by national papers as “a raw and brutal haven for range pirates,” and “the most lawless town in the country.” A county “under the control of criminals so maliciously confident that they had begun naming big cattlemen to be put to death.” Charges and countercharges were flung from one camp to the other. It wasn’t long before the battle of words turned to a series of lynchings and other hostilities perpetrated by the large cattle barons against the small rancher.
I won’t get into the whole of the Johnson County War, as I blogged on that in http://www.kirstenlynnwildwest.com/blog/?p=908. After a series of murders and raids, in the spring of 1892, “regulators” under the leadership of men from the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association took a train from Cheyenne to Casper where they unloaded and rode into Johnson County. The invaders attacked a small ranch and killed two “rustlers” Nate Champion and Nick Ray. They then took refuge at a friendly ranch, the TA Ranch.
Angus’ legendary temper and courage surfaced with a vengeance and he rounded up a posse of 48 men that soon grew to an army of anywhere between 200 to 300 men, and surrounded the TA ranch. Many riding, and duly deputized by Sheriff Angus, were cowboys who had worked for the very men they were riding against. The invaders held off Angus’ army by using the natural defenses of the ranch along with well-placed ranch buildings.
Soldiers from Fort McKinney saved the invaders, but Angus issued arrest orders for the “regulators.” His warrants were denied as the soldiers had been called in as a favor to Governor Amos Barber (a supporter of the big cattle barons), who knew the men would be executed if turned over to Red Angus. Angus secured an agreement that the invaders would be turned over to Civil Authority for trial, and the prisoners were sent to Fort McKinney. Authorities fearing the wrath of the local citizenry transferred the prisoners to Fort D. A. Russell for safe keeping. Their fears may have been justified, a few days after their arrest the barracks at McKinney were bombed by three cowboys.
The Court held that the regulators wouldn’t receive a fair trial in Buffalo and transferred venue to Laramie County. The people of Johnson County had no recourse, as the County simply couldn’t afford the cost of prosecution. In Laramie County, the invaders faced a sympathetic court and were set free.
Sheriff Angus was defeated for reelection and took a job tending bar at the Occidental Hotel, in Buffalo. Later, however, he served as deputy clerk and county treasurer. In 1893, he engaged in a shootout with Arapahoe Brown in the street in front of the hotel. Neither was a very good shot. Doctor Will Frackleton, a circuit riding dentist was in town and witnessed the fight from the doorway of the hotel. Bullets flew into the barroom while the customers ducked for cover. When the fight was over, Frackleton told Angus and Arapahoe, “Well I don’t see what in hell you carry those things for. You fellows can’t hit anything with them.” The tension dissolved and the men joined the dentist for drink at the bar.
William “Red” Angus remained in Buffalo where he passed away in 1921.
Davis, John W. Wyoming Range War: The Infamous Invasion of Johnson County. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2010.
PREVIEW OF THE WIDOW’S LAWMAN (SPRING FREE-READ COMIN’ TO THE CAMPFIRE)
“Hell’s fire and sweet damn! Not her…not today.” Sheriff Russ Avery dropped the shade and stepped back from the window. One week, one damn week on the job and he’d suffered through at least thirty visits from the widow Ellie Reed. Next time a lawman offered the choice between swinging from a rope, or taking over as sheriff Russ was gonna choose hangin’…hands down. Hell, he’d even take his own horse and rope and find the cotton wood suitable to get the job done.
A small shadow crossed over the shade and Jake almost tripped over his own boots getting to his desk and falling into his chair. Holding his breath he started thumbing through handbills. If he wasn’t breathing and looked busy maybe she’d just keep going.
“Please Lord have mercy on a miserable sinner.”
“Sheriff Avery, I have a matter I wish to discuss with you.” The widow blew in like a dust storm on the prairie flipping up the shade as she passed by the window.
Jake shielded his eyes against the flood of light as the woman settled into the chair on the opposite side of his desk. By the bright eager look in her brown eyes and flush on her cheeks, Jake’s gut squeezed. This was the day he was going to pay for past sins.
Copyright @ 2013, by Kirsten Lynn (This is an original work of Kirsten Lynn any attempt to reprint part or all of this work is strictly prohibited)
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Yee-Haw!! I just took home an honorable mention from Siobhan Muir’s ThursThread (flash fiction) with author Scott Mckinley judging! Thanks to both Siobhan and Scott! This was a fun exercise to get the ol’ brain workin’!
For those wandering what flash fiction is: you’re given a phrase that has to be incorporated in a scene no longer than 250 words. The phrase for this contest was “Nothing personal, Kid.”
If y’all wanna check out the prose that took this prize, I’ve included the scene below!
“Sonofabitch!” Jack grabbed the foot the protesting big toe hopping like that might ease the throbbing pain. All effects of the whiskey consumed in town died in a flash of pain. “That goddamn trunk…”
A baby’s cry split the air. Every muscle tensed like a well stretched rope. The orange glow of gaslight unveiled a woman’s form gliding across the floorboards of his bedroom to a crib. Was he at the wrong ranch?
Jack dropped his foot. “That ain’t mine!”
The angel in a white cotton gown angled her head meeting his gaze. Green eyes flashed with fire. Lines creased her brow. “Of course he’s not, ya fool. But he’s my responsibility and if I’m sharing your bed, he’s gotta come, too. I can’t be leavin’ him alone.”
“Sharin’ my…” He whistled low remembering morning by the breaking ring.
“Sorry, it’s nothin’ personal, Kid.”
“I’m not a Kid. I just outrode and out roped every man here.”
“There’s a depression goin’ on, Little Lady. Men got families to feed.”
“I need to feed mine, too. What do ya suggest I do?”
“Can ya ride a man like ya handled that mustang?”
“Better.” He saw the lie in her red cheeks.
“Fine. Show up tonight and ya got yerself a job in the house and out.”
Two sets of green eyes stared at him as he returned to the present. “Sonofabitch.”