Saturday, April 18, 2015

When Disaster Strikes, What Would You Do?

None of us know what we would or wouldn’t do in a disaster until it’s upon us. We would probably like to think we would act calmly and preform with courage and valor. Maybe we even hope we will lead others to safety or protect them in horrific circumstances. Perhaps these hopes, fears, and wishes make us think about the disastrous sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 at 2:20 AM.

One person that comes to mind when I think about the sinking of the Titanic is the unlikely heroine, a wild western woman, Margaret Brown. She did what we all hope we would do in the face of a horrific disaster. After her heroic efforts, she later became known as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown”. But the Titanic is not the only time Margaret rose to the occasion as a humanitarian and a leader. Settle back in your desk chair or recliner while I tell the tale of the remarkable Margaret Brown.

She was born Margaret Tobin in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri, the daughter of an impoverished ditch-digger. When she was 18, she travel to Leadville, Colorado to join her brother, Daniel, who worked in the booming silver mining town of Leadville, Colorado. It was there she caught the eye of James Joseph Brown, nicknamed “J.J.”, the manager of a local silver mine. J.J. was an enterprising, self-educated man whose parents, like Molly’s, had emigrated from Ireland. The couple married in 1886. Although Molly had always planned to marry a rich man, she said, “I wanted a rich man, but I loved Jim Brown. I thought about how I wanted comfort for my father and how I had determined to stay single until a man presented himself who could give to the tired old man the things I longed for him. Jim was as poor as we were, and had no better chance in life. I struggled hard with myself in those days. I loved Jim, but he was poor. Finally, I decided that I'd be better off with a poor man whom I loved than with a wealthy one whose money had attracted me. So I married Jim Brown.”

But things were about to change, The Brown family acquired great wealth when in 1893 J.J.'s mining engineering efforts proved instrumental in the production of a substantial ore seam at the Little Jonny Mine of his employers, Ibex Mining Company, and he was awarded 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board. In Leadville, Molly helped by working in soup kitchens to assist miners' families.
In 1894, the Browns moved to Denver, Colorado, which gave the family more social opportunities. Molly became a charter member of the Denver Woman's Club, whose mission was the improvement of women's lives by continuing education and philanthropy. Adjusting to the trappings of a society lady, Molly became immersed in the arts and became fluent in French, German, and Italian. Molly co-founded a branch in Denver of the Alliance Française to promote her love of French culture. I had a hard time learning French in high school. I certainly can’t imagine learning two other languages fluently as well, so I think these accomplishments show how smart and determined Molly Brown was.

Unfortunately, the blue bloods of Denver found Molly to flamboyant and forceful for their taste and she was never accepted into their society. Sadly, after 23 years of marriage, J.J. and Molly privately separated in 1909. The agreement gave Margaret a cash settlement and she maintained possession of the house on Pennsylvania Street in Denver. She also received a $700 monthly allowance (equivalent to $18,374 today) to continue her travels and social work. They continued to stay in touch and cared for one another through the rest of their lives. They had 2 children, Larry and Helen.
Molly Brown continued her social work by assisting in the fund-raising for Denver's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception which was completed in 1911. She worked with Judge Lindsey to help destitute children and establish the United States' first juvenile court which helped form the basis of the modern U.S. juvenile courts system.
And then she boarded the Titanic.

When the ship began to sink into the icy Atlantic on April 15, 1912 at 2:20 AM, Molly helped passengers board the life boats until, she was finally convinced to take a seat in Life Boat #6 to preserve her own life. Because she was instrumental in saving the lives of other passengers, convincing them to row back and save other survivors. Her urgings were met with opposition from Quartermaster Robert Hichens, the crewman in charge of Lifeboat 6. Hichens was fearful that if they did go back, the lifeboat would either be pulled down due to suction or the people in the water would swamp the boat in an effort to get inside. Sources vary as to whether the boat did go back and if they found anyone alive when they did.  Molly even took an oar herself to row them to safety on the Carpathian, Margaret Brown became known as “the unsinkable Molly Brown.”

 Molly Brown giving Captain Arthur Henry Rostron an award for his service in the rescue of Titanic's surviving passengers

But Molly wasn’t finished. She ran for Senate in 1914 but ended her campaign to return to France to work with the American Committee for Devastated France during WWI.

Later, when J.J. Brown died on September 5, 1922, Margaret told newspapers, "I've never met a finer, bigger, more worthwhile man than J.J. Brown." J.J. died without a will and it caused five years of dispute between Margaret and her two children before they finally settled the estate. Due to their lavish spending J.J. left an estate valued at only $238,000, equal to $3,353,292 today. Molly was to receive $20,000 in cash and securities (equal to $281,789 today), and the interest on a $100,000 trust fund (equal to $1,408,946 today) in her name. Her children, Lawrence and Helen, received the rest. A court case against Helen and Lawrence was settled privately, and Margaret and her children were reconciled at the time of her death in 1932.

Her fame as a well-known Titanic survivor helped her promote the issues she felt strongly about—the rights of workers and women, education and literacy for children, historic preservation, and commemoration of the bravery and chivalry displayed by the men aboard the Titanic. During World War I in France, she worked with the American Committee for Devastated France to rebuild areas behind the front line and helped wounded French and American soldiers. She was awarded the French Légion d'Honneur for her good citizenship including her activism and philanthropy in America. During the last years of her life, she was an actress.

After she died in 1932 (during the Great Depression), her two children sold her estate for $6,000, equal to $109,311 today. She is buried in the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, New York.

Margaret Brown, the unsinkable Molly Brown, will live in our memories forever. Though wealth may have given her the opportunity to be in first class on the HMS Titanic, it was her willingness to act with valor and courage when it was greatly needed, that made her famous and for which we will always honor her in our hearts.

 (All photos open domain from Wikipedia)

 Sarah J. McNeal

Sarah McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery, Victory Tales Press, Prairie Rose Publications and Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press, imprints of Prairie Rose Publications. She welcomes you to her website and social media:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Month of Memories by Linda Hubalek

Instead of a post relating to a western topic this month, I decided to write something personal. I think it helps readers see us writers are affected by everyday events like everyone else, except we may work our life events into a story we might write in the future.

It's been a month of memories for me, both good, bad, and sad as I clean out my parent's home of their final belongings. Both were now in the nursing home and the material existence of their sixty-nine years together had to be reduced to fit in a few plastic tubs of keepsakes.

Mom was a "paper saver" so every childhood event program the four of us kids were ever in was saved, along with canceled checks of major purchases, recipes clipped from magazines, greeting cards going back to over fifty years ago, to snapshots from the 1920's to present day.

Everyday events listed on pieces of papers told the history of my parent's marriage and as us children were added to the family. The history of previous generations were also revealed from the photos and documents mom saved from her and my father's parents and grandparents too.

It's easy to see where my ideas for stories come from when handling my family's paper trail.

The check stubs I found from 1919 showed the final dispersal of money to the children of Samuel and Charlotta Johnson, who I based my Planting Dreams series on.

The material scraps my grandmother was using for quilt blocks is still in the same shoe box she put them in before she suddenly died in 1946. Quilts made by her and her ancestors were worked into my Trail of Thread  series.

Photos of the wagon my newlywed parents used to haul their meager belongings from their town apartment to their newly rented farm in 1946, were studied and described in my great grandparent's trip from Kansas to the Indian Territory in my Tying the Knot book.

And this same wagon, saved and rebuilt by a grandson, was used to carry my father's casket to his final resting place last week.

You can bet this event will be mentioned in a future story of mine too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mary Hallock Foote

By Anna Kathryn Lanier

Once again I’m turning to a book by Chris Enss, WITH GREAT HOPE: WOMEN OF THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH, also written by JoAnn Chartier.  This book has a dozen or so stories of women who went “west with great hope for the future [and] left a legacy.”  Mary Hallock went west with great reluctance.  A Quaker from New York, Mary was already a well-established artist when she married, in great trepidation, Arthur Foote in 1876. She had learned the intricate, difficult and tedious artistic process of woodcarving while studying at the Cooper Union Institute School of Design, the only art school at that time who admitted women.   Her instructor, William Linton declared her the best wood designer at Cooper Union.  It was just the beginning of praises for her work.

Within a few years of graduating at the age of seventeen, Mary had sold four pictures for the book Beyond the Mississippi.  Ten years after leaving school, Mary was busy illustrating books for a number of publishers, including Harper’s Weekly.  She was quite content with her life, unmarried as she was. 

In 1874, she met Arthur Foote at a party and while they conversed in private, she sketched him, unaware that he would later be her husband.  He was an engineer who had worked at both the Tehachapi Pass and the Sutro Tunnel.  He had attended Yale University’s Scientific School until being told erroneously that his bad vision could not be corrected.  Arthur dropped out two years shy of graduating.  However, he later obtained corrective lenses and went West to seek his fortune, determined to win the heart and hand of the woman he loved.  He conducted his courtship via letters.  Mary replied to his written declarations with extols of Eastern society and life, making clear her intentions of remaining a successful, unmarried artist.

A Pretty Girl of The West (1889)

Arthur persisted though, and returned to Boston to marry her.  She weighed carefully his proposal and finally agreed to the marriage.  Shortly after they exchanged vows in her parents’ parlor she travelled to New Almaden, California, with a commission to illustrate a new addition of The Scarlet Letter in hand.  The western landscaped proved a wonderful backdrop for the drawings she sent back east. 

She also sent letters to her good friends Helena and Richard Glider.  Richard was the publisher of Scribner’s Monthly and he pieced together some of Mary’s descriptions in a few articles for his magazine. From there, Mary was encouraged to write stories set in the area. The result of this was The Led-Horse Claim about the silver boom in Colorado.

Arthur’s work had the family moving around quite a bit during the early years of their marriage. Sometimes, work was hard to find and it was Mary’s income from her books that sustained the family during the rough times.  At one point, when Arthur’s business venture failed and, to make matters worse, the bank holding his savings also collapsed in a national bank panic, he sank into both depression and drink.  It was then that Mary took their three children and left him for a short time.
To support herself and her children, Mary released a series of western potboilers that were not literary masterpieces, but did the job of keeping a roof over their head and food in their stomachs. In three years, she wrote five adult tales, two children’s stories and several short stories.  Mary had to follow a formula (sort of like Harlequin does today) and this resulted in works that were popular fiction but not very durable.  Mary herself wasn’t overly proud of the work, but they paid the bills during her husband’s uneven employment.

In 1895, Arthur took over as supervisor of the North Star Mine in Grass Valley California. The couple remained there for the next twenty years. Even with Arthur’s stable job, Mary continued to write and draw.  Life was good, until 1904, when tragedy struck.  The couple’s seventeen year old daughter died unexpectedly from complications of appendicitis. After her daughter’s death, Mary’s writing career took a backseat as she devoted her time and energy to her family.

However,  in her later years, she produced several more novels, including A Victorian GentleWomen in The Far West, her memoirs.  Mary lived to the age of 90 and when she died, the woman who did not want to go west in the first place, had her ashes buried in Grass Valley.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Never let your memories be greater than your dreams. ~Doug Ivester 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Horse is a Horse: Breeds Common in the Old West

Wild Horses in Arizona (photo by John Harwood)
By Kathleen Rice Adams

In the Old West, a horse was a horse, right? As long as it had four hooves and a modicum of “horse sense,” nobody really cared about its pedigree, did they?

Yes and no. Just as in the modern world, folks used different horse breeds for different purposes—and a broader spectrum of horse breeds and purposes existed than most people realize.

Without considering draft horses, ponies, and mules (which are fodder for other posts), here are some of the more common horse breeds found west of the Mississippi River. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination—just an accounting of the breeds most folks would have recognized.

Mara, an American Quarter Horse mare
(photo by Derrick Coetzee)
American Quarter Horse
A truly American breed, the Quarter Horse was essential to life on the frontier for very good reasons: They could do almost everything. Heavily muscled, hardy, and acutely intelligent, Quarter Horses were the horses that won the West.

Steel Dust, the first recognized Quarter Horse, was foaled in Kentucky from stock developed in the Colonies by crossing English stock with animals left behind by the Spanish conquistadors. After his arrival in Texas in 1844, the breed came into its own. Originally called “Steeldusts,” the horses quickly became a favorite of Texas ranchers, who admired their “cow sense,” calm disposition, and the short-coupled bodies that made them maneuverable in a variety of terrain. Found in every remuda and pasture from the southern tip of Texas to Canada and from the East Coast to California, the horses worked cattle, broke sod, pulled wagons and buggies…and raced. Racing was as common in the old west as cattle drives and quilting bees. Quarter Horses came by their enduring breed name because on a straight, level quarter-mile track, they can outrun any other horse on the planet—including Thoroughbreds.

American Saddlebred yearlings (photo by Heather Moreton)
American Saddlebred
A cross between the now-extinct Narragansett Pacer and Thoroughbreds, American Saddlebreds were common by the time of the American Revolution, when they were called simply American horses. Tall and graceful like Thoroughbreds, they also exhibited the Pacer’s easy-to-ride gait. Known as Kentucky Saddlers by the early 1800s, owners and breeders prized the animals for their beauty, pleasant temperament, eagerness, strength, and stamina. Although used in the West primarily to pull carriages and provide snazzy mounts for the wealthy, they also did their share of hard work on ranches and farms.

Nez-Perce men with an Appaloosa, 1895
The Appaloosa arose among the Nez-Perce Indians of the Pacific Northwest. The Nez-Perce were skilled horse breeders, and by selecting the best animals from among the wild herds, they produced equines especially suited to war and hunting. The horses were practical, hardy, and versatile with the additional advantages of tractability, good sense, and almost endless stamina.

Unfortunately, the color pattern that made the horses distinctive also led to the downfall of their creators. To escape continuously broken treaties and the U.S. government’s Indian extermination policies, the Nez-Perce headed for Canada under relentless pursuit, only to surrender several miles from the border when starvation and ceaseless battle prevented their continued flight. The government confiscated their horses—a symbol of the people—and sold them to local settlers, hunting and killing the animals that got away. Today, the annual Chief Joseph ride, open only to Appaloosas, travels the last 100 miles of the Nez-Perce trail marking the battles of Chief Joseph’s band with the U.S. Cavalry nearly 140 years ago.

Mirage, an Arabian stallion (photo by Trescastillos)
Prior to the first Arabian’s arrival in the U.S. as a gift to President George Washington, the world’s oldest true breed enjoyed a long and storied history as prized mounts of royalty and European war horses. In 1877, the Sultan of Turkey presented a pair of stallions to General Ulysses S. Grant, who bred them to Arabian mares imported from England. Celebrated for their beauty, intelligence, loyalty, and stamina, a few were used as cavalry mounts in the Civil War but the majority saw lives of leisure among the wealthy in the Old West.

Quick Trigger, a Missouri Fox Trotter (photo by Kayla Oakes)
Missouri Fox Trotter
Developed around 1821 in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri, the Fox Trotting Horse comprised a mixture of Morgan, Thoroughbred, and Arabian bloodlines. The horses excelled at plowing, hauling logs, and working cattle in the rugged, rocky terrain. After adding Tennessee Walker and Standardbred blood, the horses became known as Missouri Fox Trotters and went West as stylish buggy and riding horses. Because of the breed's ability to travel long distances at a speed of five to eight miles an hour, Missouri Fox Trotters quickly became a favorite of sheriffs and marshals, country doctors, and others who needed a comfortable ride.

Known for their surefootedness, sweet nature, and comfortable seat, today Missouri Fox Trotters are the horse of choice for the National Park Service.

Morgan colt (photo by Laura Behning)
America’s first recognized horse breed descended from a two-year-old stallion of unknown ancestry acquired by a teacher in 1791 as settlement of a debt. The horse famously passed along his extraordinary traits, including sweet disposition, cobby and well-muscled body, and hardiness. Morgans were official cavalry mounts on both sides during the American Civil War. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson and Union General Philip Sheridan both rode Morgans they personally owned.

Both before and after the war, Morgans served as draft horses, stock horses, and speedy, durable mounts, playing roles on farms and ranches, among the miners during the California Gold Rush, as favored mounts of the Pony Express, and racing horses. Morgan blood heavily influenced the development of Quarter Horses in Texas. Although the breed almost died out in the 1870s, a few diligent breeders revived the bloodlines that continue today.

Mustangs in Nevada (Bureau of Land Management photo)
America’s feral horses are living history and an enduring reminder of the country’s Wild West past. Descended from escaped and abandoned horses brought to the New World by the Spanish in the 1500s, Mustangs claim Barb, Sorraia, and Andalusian blood, along with traits inherited from all other American breeds. “Hot” horses (meaning they love to run), their intelligence and intuition made them notoriously difficult to catch, contain, and tame, but once domesticated, Mustangs became strong, loyal, reliable, and sturdy mounts and draft animals, performing all sorts of tasks in the American West.

In 1900, approximately 2 million Mustangs roamed 17 western states; by 1970, thanks to an extermination program undertaken by stockmen who considered the wild horses a threat to their range and purebred herds, fewer than 17,000 remained. The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 protects the animals now. Under the auspices of the Bureau of Land Management, herds thrive on open rangeland in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, and several other western states. Without natural predators, herds can double in four years, so the BLM periodically conducts roundups and places the detainees up for adoption. Those not adopted are re-released. (The BLM program is controversial and way beyond the scope of this post.)

Paint Horse (photo: American Paint Horse Association)
Paint Horse
Paints, also called pintos during the period, were favored by the Comanche Indians not only for their speed and endurance, but also because their “loud” color patterns gave the horses and their riders “magic” in battle. Reportedly brought to the New World by Hernando Cortés, the first horses with “white splotches” appeared on the American continent in 1519. Some escaped, others were left behind when the explorers returned to Spain, but eventually the animals interbred with other wild horses and produced entire herds with paint markings.

Similar to American Quarter Horses in body type, appearance, and versatility, modern Paints also are considered quintessential stock and rodeo horses.

 Rocky Mountain Horse (photo by Heather Moreton)
Rocky Mountain Horse
Somewhat of a latecomer, the Rocky Mountain horse originated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Largely a secret outside that area until about 1880, the horses were surefooted, easy-gaited, and versatile. In the Old West, postmen, doctors, and traveling preachers favored the horses. Because the breed also is strong and tough, Rocky Mountain Horses were used to plow fields, herd cattle, and pull buggies and wagons.

Tennesse Walking Horse (photo by Jean)
Tennessee Walking Horse
Known today primarily for its “running walk” gait and flashy, high-stepping movement, the original Tennessee Walking Horses were developed in the American South for use on plantations in all sorts of capacities. The breed’s ancestors include Narrgansett Pacers, Canadian Pacers, and Spanish Mustangs from Texas. Today’s breed arose in the late 1800s after interbreeding with Morgan stock.

Primarily a pleasure-riding horse for well-to-do city dwellers, a few Tennessee Walkers were employed by Old West doctors and others who required a mount that wouldn’t jar all their bones loose during lengthy trips.

Canadian Horse (photo: Rare Breeds Canada)
Canadian Horse
One last breed deserves mention, not because people would have encountered it in the Old West, but because it contributed a great deal to other breeds. Descended from draft and riding horses imported to Canada in the late 1600s, the Canadian Horse became popular in the American Northeast during the late 1700s. Due to massive exportation to the U.S. and Caribbean, along with extensive and often fatal service during the American Civil War, the breed nearly became extinct in the mid-19th Century.  In the mid-20th Century, a group of dedicated breeders began a repopulation program, but the horse remains a rare breed.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Texas Women in History and Government

I missed posting early this morning as I remembered until yesterday. We didn't have internet all day, so I guess I removed all traces of responsibility from my head. BIG oops. I'm sharing a post I submitted to Smart Girls Read Romance last month on Women in Texas History and Government. I promise to be better next month.

March was Women's History Month so I thought I'd talk about several women who've made strides in government to help shape our future in the state of Texas and the world

Sarah Cockrell

 I've spoken before about Sarah Cockrell (1819-1892), a business woman who built the first iron bridge over the Trinity River in Dallas in 1872. She thought big and invested wisely and set up her own corporations. When she died in 1892, her properties were so extensive that her will had to be published in pamphlet form.

Molly Goodnight (1839-1926) established the first ranch household in the Texas Panhandle in 1877. She rescued orphaned buffaloes, had her own cattle brand, the Flying T and helped establish the Goodnight College in 1898.
Mollie Goodnight

Elizabet Ney

Elizabet Ney (1833-1907) was a renowned sculptor from Bavaria. She
moved to Texas with her husband in 1872. She secured a commission to create statues of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. She became the outspoken advocate of the teaching of fine arts in the state's schools and was instrumental in the founding of the Texas Fine Arts Association.

Minnie Fisher Cunningham
Minnie Fisher Cunningham (1882-1964) was President of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association from 1915 to 1920 and became the first executive secretary of the National League of Women Voters. She was an important leader in the campaign for votes for women on the state and national levels. Graduating in 1901, she was one of the first women in Texas to receive a pharmacy degree from the University of Texas medical school. She ran for but lost races for the U.S. Senate in 1928 and for governor in 1944.

Sarah T. Hughes
Sarah T. Hughes was an attorney, legislator, women's rights activist, United Nations supporter, and Texas' first female state and federal judge. A member of a Dallas law firm from 1923 to 1935. she was elected to her first term in the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat on 1930 and voted "Most Valuable Member" her second term. In 1935, she became Texas' first female district judge and was reelected seven times. She was Dallas County co-chair of the Kennedy-Johnson campaign in 1960, and in the following year, President John F. Kennedy appointed her Texas' first female federal judge. After Kennedy's assassination in 1963, she administered the Presidential oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson.

These are but a few of the many women who have influenced me and I hope by reading about these women, you'll be inspired to read more about them or look up other influential women in our state of Texas and other states in our great nation.

Thank you for stopping by today. I love seeing y'all here on Sweethearts of the West.

Hugs, Carra

  Carra Copelin WebsiteCarra's Blog , Carra's FB page , Carra's Twitter Page

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

One Thousand White Women

By Celia Yeary

One Thousand White Women-by Jim Fergus
A Review and Commentary

One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime.
Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Journalist Jim Fergus was published in 1998. It is written as a series of journals chronicling the adventures of an "J. Will Dodd's" ancestor--May Dodd-- in a "Brides for Indians" program of the United States government.

The premise of the story is that the Northern Cheyenne Indians are shrinking in numbers and seek a way to assimilate into white society. They decide to marry white women and have half-blood children, enabling the two cultures to blend naturally. The Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf approaches President Ulysses S. Grant with the proposal to trade 1000 white women for 1000 horses, an offer publicly refused by the government.

However, the U.S. government sees placating Indians as being to their benefit, so they begin the "Brides for Indians" program in which women who are physically healthy and of child rearing age may volunteer to go.

In order to keep the plan unpublished, they offer the trip to women in prisons, asylums, and other restrictive situations.

In Chicago, May Dodd was born into a wealthy family but she fell in love with a man who was "beneath" her, and bore his two children out of wedlock. Her family had her institutionalized in a mental asylum and had her children taken away.

The "Brides for Indians" program sounded like a way out of the asylum, so she joined and started a life of adventure.
The book is Fergus' debut novel based partially on fact blended with his wonderful imagination to tell a tale of a remarkable group of women who embarked on an adventure into the land of the Cheyenne in 1854.

"The women move out west to become the brides of Cheyenne warriors," Fergus said. "It is based on a true event."

FACT: In 1854 a group of Cheyenne chiefs requested of the white authorities one thousand white women as brides for their young warriors. The Cheyenne were a society in that any child born automatically belonged to the mother's rather than the father's tribe. As early as 1854 the Cheyenne saw that their life as they knew it as free people was going to be soon swallowed by the whites. They saw this as the perfect way to assimilate themselves into white culture. All of their offspring, from their way of thinking, would automatically be white people.

But, the peace conference where the Cheyenne made their proposal fell apart and the women were not actually sent to mate with the Cheyenne.

"But in my book they do," Fergus said.

Fergus was researching a non-fiction book about the Cheyenne for a biography of Little Wolf, chief of the Cheyenne nation, when he learned about the request for the women. He knew he could expound on the subject and turn it into a novel about what could have happened if the chiefs had not been refused.

"I wasn't sure just what I was going to do with the information at first," he said. "I thought it was going to be a non-fiction book. Then I thought it was going to be a collection of three novellas. My agent decided to drop the other two and turn this one into a novel. I was very intrigued by this, I couldn't get it out of my mind. I got to thinking what if it really did happen."


If one did not read the description carefully, one would read this novel as a true story--May Dodd's story.

There was no May Dodd.

There are some who maintain the tale is all true.

The author created this story, but he did use several non-fictional entities to his novel, including:

Chief Little Wolf of the Northern Cheyenne tribe.

Description of many Cheyenne beliefs.

The military forced move to the reservations.

Some other situations are adapted from real life, including Little Wolf's murder of a tribe member and exile.

One Thousand White Women can be found in ebook form, hardback, and paperback. I read this novel several years ago by checking it out of our city library.

Celia Yeary
Novel: One Thousand White Women
Blurb for the novel
Jim Fergus's notes.