Thursday, August 30, 2012


By Ashley Kath-Bilsky

We live in an age when most people think professional baseball when they hear Texas Rangers and not the “oldest law enforcement body on the North American Continent.” Still, there is little doubt what inspired the Texas Rangers baseball team name. And as much as I love baseball and am a loyal fan of the Texas Ranger team located in Arlington, Texas, I am here today to talk about the ‘real’ Texas Rangers and their history.

Long before The Lone Ranger first aired on the radio in 1933, the Texas Rangers had become iconic heroes of the American west. Thirteen years earlier, in 1910, The Ranger’s Bride became the first motion picture to feature a Texas Ranger character. Western authors like Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour fictionalized them in exciting western novels, many of which were also adapted for film.
[Pictured: 1930s Lobby Card for The Lone Star Ranger]

Texas Rangers were prominently featured in short weekly matinee serials of the 30s and 40s. In addition to the widely popular Lone Ranger radio program, a western radio drama entitled Tales of the Texas Rangers aired in the 1950s with movie star Joel McCrea as Texas Ranger Jayce Pearson. Rather than the fictional Lone Ranger, Tales of the Texas Ranger featured episodes which reenacted actual Texas Ranger cases.

From cartoons, comic books, merchandise, weekly television shows like Walker, Texas Ranger and the award-winning miniseries Lonesome Dove, to western classics like The Searchers, Judge Roy Bean, True Grit, Bonnie and Clyde, and most recently, No Country for Old Men, there is little doubt the Texas Ranger character has been immortalized in many formats.

But just who were the real Texas Rangers, and how (and when) did they come into existence?

The Empresarios

In 1820, when Texas was still under Spanish rule, Moses Austen (father to Stephen F. Austin) traveled from Missouri (once under Spanish dominion) to Spanish Texas and was the first Anglo-American granted an empresarial contract. As an empresario (meaning entrepreneur in Spanish), this contract meant he was the first Anglo American authorized to settle in Texas and establish a colony of 300 families. However, while returning home to Missouri, Moses Austin was attacked and would later die at home of pneumonia on 21 Jun 1821. Upon his death, his empresarial contract was inherited by his son, Stephen.

The man who would one day be called the Father of Texas, arrived in San Antonio on 12 August 1821, intending to fulfill his father’s dream of colonizing Texas. However, during the time when his father had been issued authority as empresario and his son’s arrival in Texas, Mexico had claimed independence from Spain, and Texas had become a province of Mexico. Consequently, Mexico refused to honor the land grant previously authorized by Spain. This required Stephen F. Austin to obtain approval. In 1823, Stephen F. Austin began to recruit settlers for a colony. In exchange for his efforts, Austen received land, titles, and military power to govern the colony, the latter of which proved instrumental in forming the Texas Rangers. [Pictured: Stephen F. Austen c1830 - Public Domain]

With settlement came bloodshed and death as Comanche and other Indian tribes viciously attacked. Raids and killings became so prevalent that Stephen F. Austin formed a militia unit to defend and protect the people of Texas.

In May of 1823, an initial company of volunteer men were assembled by Austin and Moses Morrison (his lieutenant) to defend the Texas coast. In August, Austin asked for ten more men to supplement Morrison’s company. His exact words were as follows:

“Since the commencement of this colony, no labor or expense has been spared on my part toward its organization, benefit and security, and I shall always be ready and willing to risk my health, my property or my life for the common advantage for those who have embarked with me in this enterprise. As a proof of the reality of this declaration I have determined to augment at my private expense the company of men which was raised by the late governor Trespalacios for the defense of the colony against hostile Indians. I therefore by these presents give public notice that I will employ ten men in addition to those employed by the government to act as rangers for the common defense. The said ten men will form a part of Lt. Moses Morrison’s company and the whole will be subject to my orders. The wages I will give the said ten men is $15 a month payable in property they find themselves. Those who wish to be employed will apply to me without delay. Stephen F. Austin – August 1823”

Men volunteered as needed and were required to provide their own horses and equipment. Multiple weapons, including rifles and knives, were necessary. After all, these men could be outnumbered by as much as fifty to one. [Pictured: Antique powder horns - Photo by AKB]
They might serve days or months at a time then the company would disband. At first they fought on foot then soon realized to effectively battle mounted Indians they also had to be on horseback. And, understandably, in life and death situations these rangers quickly became proficient at this type of warfare. In fact, their reputation as extraordinarily skilled mounted militia would become so well-known and respected that, years later, during the American Civil War, both the Union and Confederate armies used their skill and strategies as an example for training cavalry units.

Corps of Rangers
The name Texas Ranger was not used until 1874. Early documentation referred to the volunteers as rangers, minutemen, scouts, mounted gunmen, mounted volunteers, and ranging companies. They were volunteers who received no monetary payment for their service. Neither were they a constant form of defense, but used on an as-needed basis.

However, in 1835, a Corps of Rangers was formally created by a council of colonial Texas representatives to help defend the frontier against increasing Indian attacks. Wages were fixed at $1.25 per day, and the rangers were authorized to elect officers. They were still required to furnish their own horses, weapons, and equipment. This first Corps of Rangers was commanded by R.M. Williamson, with William Arrington, Isaac Burleson, and John J. Tumlinson serving as Captains.

Also in 1835, the desire for Texas independence from Mexico had quickly escalated. By 1836, that fervent desire had ignited into a rebellion for freedom. During this volatile time, Texas Rangers “covered the retreat of civilians from dictator Santa Ana’s army”. And, it should be noted, that when Col. William B. Travis issued his plea for help in defending the Alamo, the only men who answered and rode to help him, and who fought and died in that historic battle were Rangers.

Perhaps one of the most famous Texas Rangers was John Coffee “Jack” Hays. Within three years of his arrival in San Antonio in 1837, Hays had earned such a reputation for fighting Indians and bandits that he was made a captain of the Rangers.[Photo of John Coffee "Jack" Hays courtesy Hays County Historical Commission]

Called “brave too much” by an Indian who had left his people to ride with Hays, the Ranger captain was also known for using the best weapon available at that time – namely the Colt Revolver. One of Samuel Colt’s earliest customers was the Republic of Texas. In fact, there is little doubt that Colt’s reputation as a gun manufacturer was established by the Texas Rangers. And it was a Texas Ranger in Captain Hays’ unit who made suggestions for improving the Colt pistol they used. Samuel H. Walker, a Texas Ranger, worked with Samuel Colt to invent the powerful 5-lb. Walker-Colt revolver.

The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas, has an outstanding collection of Colt revolvers on display, including the Walker-Colt revolver. [See photo by AKB].

A year after Texas statehood in 1845, war was declared between the United States and Mexico. Texas Rangers from various companies were mustered into federal service as scouts, including Samuel Walker (who was killed in the war). After the war, the Texas Rangers returned to being a strictly volunteer paramilitary company, recruited when needed and disbanded when their service was no longer required.

In 1861, the Civil War ignited, dividing the country and turning brother against brother on countless battlefields. Texas seceded from the Union, and thousands of Texans joined the Confederate Army. During their absence a Regiment of Rangers provided frontier protection back home. In time they would also become part of the Confederate Army. When the war ended, and Restoration began, the United States Military disbanded the Rangers.

The southern states were ravaged by the War, and many families lost everything. Hoping for a new life, a wave of new settlers migrated to Texas. Indian attacks, although less frequent, still occurred. Crime also increased. Under Union control, the frontier became increasingly unsafe. To deal with this increasing problem, the 1874 Texas Legislature passed a bill creating six Ranger companies and a Special Force Ranger Company. In addition to continuing to protect against renegade Indians, the Rangers were authorized to restore law and order in Texas.

Frontier Battalion and Special Forces

The six Ranger companies were named the Frontier Battalion, and were charged with protecting citizens from Indian raids. The Special Forces unit, led by Capt. Leander McNelly, handled cases that involved criminal activity including the capture of murderer John Wesley Hardin and train robber Sam Bass.[Photo below: Lithograph James Gang robbing train - Public Domain]
It should be noted that, at this time, badges were not officially issued. To prove their authority, the State of Texas Adjutant General’s Office issued ‘Warrants of Authority’. These documents were carried by Ranger officers only. Enlisted men were not provided with any type of official identification or badge. However, many Texas Rangers did carry a badge made at their own expense.

[Pictured: Typical Texas Ranger clothing of Frontier Battalion and Special Forces - Photo by AKB]
From its early days as a volunteer militia to its formation as the Frontier Battalion and Special Forces unit, the Texas Rangers were heroic defenders of the innocent as they worked to provide law and order in Texas. During the one-year period of 1894-1895, the Texas Rangers “scouted 173,381 miles, made 676 arrests, returned 2,856 head of stolen livestock to their owners, assisted civil authorities 162 times and guarded jails on 13 occasions.” Yet, by 1900, the need for a Frontier Battalion had diminished, and the Special Ranger Force had been dissolved in 1881.

Dawn of a New Century

In July 1901, the Texas Legislature passed a new law about the Rangers. The Frontier Battalion was restructured into a Texas Ranger Force. This force included four companies, with 20 men in each company. The law stipulated the force would be organized by the governor “for the purpose of protecting the frontier against marauding or thieving parties, and for the suppression of lawlessness and crime throughout the state”. Captains would choose their own men who still had to provide their own horses and provide their own clothing.

As Texas entered the 20th century, Rangers served with diligence and skill to thwart everything from bandit raids and racist political insurrections to assisting federal officers during prohibition against bootleggers. During WWI, an additional 400 Special Rangers were appointed by the governor. When the war ended, 1919 Legislature reduced the force to four companies of 15 men, as well as a sergeant and captain. A “headquarters unit” comprised of six men and a senior Ranger captain was also established in Austin.

In 1935, the 44th Texas Legislature created the Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Rangers were made part of it. On the 112th anniversary of the month when Stephen F. Austen organized his first rangers, the name of Texas Rangers was made official. Six new companies were created. Commanded by a captain, they were lettered Company A through Company F. Badges and credentials were also issued at this time..


As mentioned previously, official badges were not issued until 1935. However, this does not mean Texas Ranger badges did not exist. The badges were purchased by individual Rangers at their own expense. These now rare, original badges of the 19th century were made out of a Mexican silver dollar and crafted by a jeweler or gunsmith. During the frontier law period, the Texas Rangers went from a paramilitary unit to a law enforcement organization. And since they were often based near towns, the badges were "used to identify themselves and as a symbol of authority", particularly necessary when other law enforcement personnel or hired guns might be present.

The earliest authenticated badge of this type is dated 1889. An easy way to identify a genuine historic Texas Ranger badge of this period is to look at the reverse side of the badge. The Mexican coin markings are still visible. [See Photo by AKB of the Ocho Reales Badge below.]

Another type of badge made before the official distribution of badges in 1935 was known as a Shield badge. Now considered rare, one such badge was carried by “Special” Railroad Ranger Milton Poole during the 1920s. Poole worked directly for the railroad and was, therefore, not paid by the state.

The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas has an extensive display of badges, authentic as well as fraudulent. [Pictured left are fradulent badges - Photo by AKB]

Over the years, many badges have been made and sold as being 'authentic' which were, in fact, replicated fake copies. There is certain criteria which helps identify a fraudulent badge. For example, the Lone Star Flag for the State of Texas has never been used on an official badge. The size of the badge itself, including either the circle or star, varies on fraudulent badges. And any badge which uses "current department emblems or wording" is considered fraudulent and violates state law.

In 1962, the Texas Rangers returned to the original tradition of using a Mexican silver dollar for the badges. The ‘new’ official Ranger badge replicated the original badge and was made out of a Mexican five peso silver dollar.

An article from the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1962 describes the meaning of the badge as follows: “The five-pointed star on the badge symbolizes the “Lone Star” of Texas. The points are supported by an engraved wheel, which is termed the ‘wagon wheel’ badge…” “The oak leaves on the left side represent strength and the olive branch on the right signifies peace…” “The cutout center star has engraving on it and the center of the star is reserved for the Company designation or the rank of Sergeant or Captain or Senior Captain.” “The edges still often have the coin lines and the coin is still highly visible on the reserves of the badge.”[Quote Citation: Colonel Homer Garrison, Jr., Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety and Chief of the Texas Rangers, announced in October, 1962]

Texas Rangers in the 21st Century

Texas Rangers have authority throughout the State of Texas, and are called in by various communities and cities for their expertise in solving cases. They are an official law enforcement organization and have the same power as any local sheriff with one exception. The authority of a Texas Ranger extends throughout the State. Since 1993, the Texas Rangers are recognized as a major division of the Department of Public Safety with “lead criminal investigative responsibility for the following: major incident crime investigations, unsolved crime/serial crime investigations, public corruption investigations,officer involved shooting investigations, and border security operations.” Highly skilled with knowledge of the latest and most scientific methods for their investigations, they provide exceptional assistance to law enforcement throughout the State of Texas, very much like the FBI does for the United States. And since 9/11, the Texas Rangers have also become involved with homeland security matters in the state.

The statewide Texas Ranger headquarters is located in Austin, Texas. Individual company headquarters, A-K are as follows:

Company “A” – Houston
Company “B” – Garland
Company “C” – Lubbock
Company “D” –San Antonio
Company “E” – Midland
Company “F” – Waco
Company “G” – McAllen
Company “K” – El Paso

Wearing civilian clothing, a Texas Ranger is often recognized by his western hat and boots. And above the left pocket of his shirt is his official badge, still made as an homage to their predecessors from a silver Mexican coin – a testament to their history and their legacy.

A wonderful place to visit and learn more about the history of the Texas Rangers is located in Waco, Texas. The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, sponsored by the City of Waco, Texas strives to preserve the proud history of the Texas Rangers, serving as a repository of artifacts and documentation, a research and study center, as well as honor the men who proudly served the State of Texas as Texas Rangers.[Photo by AKB]
I hope you enjoyed this lengthy but hopefully comprehensive history of The Texas Rangers, and appreciate you taking the time to read it. ~ AKB

The Texas Ranger Law Enforcement Association
The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas
The Texas Rangers by Walter Prescott Webb, 2008
Hays County Historical Commission

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

THE "LOOK" CHALLENGE by Cheryl Pierson

“Look” is one of those words for which writers are always on the lookout. Like other words related to the senses, “look” can distance readers from the point-of-view character’s experience, so we try to use it with caution. The Look Challenge is a game writers play to remind us to keep an eye out for the overused word and replace it with something more evocative when appropriate. The rules of the Look Challenge require us to find the first occurrence of “look” in one of our works in progress, and then post that sentence and the surrounding paragraph(s).

The Look Challenge is only a beginning for us to try to find our overused words as

writers—and kind of a fun game to play. I have to say, it is a word I have to be careful of in my writing because I do tend to use a lot of facial expressions when I describe my characters, and for me, the characters’ eyes are so important! You can also use this challenge for other sensory words (heard, felt, etc.) that "distance" the reader from the character.

Just for fun, I’ve gone back into some of my current soon-to-be released galleys and WIP manuscripts and checked for the first showing of the word “look”, or any of its variations. I’ll share some of those with you now, and writers, please feel free to do the same in your comments! I’m always curious about how others are doing with these same issues we all have and how they “fix” them!

Here’s mine from Gabriel’s Law, one of my western historical WIPs that placed third in the SARA MERRITT contest a couple of years ago. Half-breed gunfighter Brandon Gabriel is being attacked by the men of the town who hired him to get rid of a gang. Now that the gang is gone, they don’t want to pay him. This is the first occurrence of “LOOK” and I was pretty proud that it didn’t show up until page 3-4.

He shook away the memory as the whip found its mark again, this time across his neck and shoulders. Smith roared in pain as the backlash caught him on the cheek. But Brandon made no sound. His harsh training had been equal in both worlds, Comanche and Anglo. He clenched his teeth and bit back his groan of pain.

They converged on him, and he was almost thankful. At least, they were finished with the whip. Now, it would only be a matter of time. Still, he fought as they tried to grasp his arms. They struggled for several minutes before subduing him, four of them holding his arms pinned behind his back, forcing him to stand.

Arnold Smith’s florid features swam into his view, redder than usual...he was looking at him through a haze of his own blood.

“You understand, don’t you, Gabriel?” Smith asked. “It’s just business.”

This snippet is from my upcoming October 2012 release, TEMPTATION’S TOUCH. It’s a contemporary romantic suspense. Recently divorced Kendi Morgan rushes out in the darkness to give some high school kids who constantly party on her land a piece of her mind. Only, instead of the teenagers, she finds that she has instead come upon two men murdering a third. In horrified silence, she watches, unable to do anything about what she sees…until the killers drive away and she realizes that the victim may not be dead after all. This didn’t show up until page 7! Doing better!

For an instant, she hesitated about shining the light higher, onto his face. If the murderer had shot him in the head, she wasn’t sure she could look at that. But she had to know if he was dead.

“What else could he be, Kendi?” she whispered to the wind.

Her lips compressed tightly. She took another hesitant step forward, shivering from cold and nerves.

Lightning flared, followed by a roar of thunder, and Kendi flinched. In the sudden brightness, she thought she had seen the man move. But that was impossible. He was dead. She had helped kill him by not diverting the attention of the two goons who had murdered him. That, she would never forget as long as she lived.

This last snippet is from my holiday novella A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES that will be re-released with a new publisher, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER, this fall.

When widow Angela Bentley takes in injured ex-gunhawk Nick Dalton and three orphans on Christmas Eve, she is determined only to lend a hand where needed. But when the children drag in a small, scraggly Christmas tree, Angela finds herself wanting to create a memorable holiday for them. Can these visitors become the family she longs for? For those who believe in miracles, anything is possible--even true love, in the most unlikely circumstances.

The girl’s shy expression had turned to one of hopeful expectation, her cornflower blue eyes lighting with genuine joy. Angela gave her a nod, her gaze returning to settle on the man. In the striking depths of his sapphire eyes, Angela saw a personal agony with which she was familiar, a pain completely separate from the physical wound he had suffered.

A wound to his soul.

It drew her to him in spite of her intention to remain aloof. She placed a steadying hand on his side. He muffled a groan and stiffened at her gentle touch. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. He looked to be in much worse shape than she had first thought. When Angela drew her hand away, it was smudged red-brown in the fading light, and sticky with his blood. He took a shallow breath, raspy and ragged.

The older boy looked at her, eyes wide.

“Let’s get him inside,” she said, hiding most of her alarm. The stranger slid from the saddle with a harsh groan.

I hope you all have enjoyed my “LOOK” Challenge snippets. I had fun with this, and

will continue to be on the “LOOKOUT” for more instances of using “LOOK.” Please feel free to join me in posting your snippets from a current WIP or recent release. Give us a LOOK at how you use LOOK. LOL

GABRIEL’S LAW will (hopefully) be available in 2013.

TEMPTATION’S TOUCH will be available October 24, 2012 in both print and e-book format.

A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES will be available in time for the holidays this year as well.

For all my short stories, novellas, novels and other works in anthologies and collections, please click here:

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Obviously, I love the West or I wouldn't be associated with Sweethearts of the West. Even my contemporary novels and mysteries are set in the West, but I've written more novels set in the historic West as depicted by Frederick Remington. A few of his works are in the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. I love that museum, which is one of the few free museums around. If I were wealthy, I'd have a larger home with walls hung with western art. As it is, I look at books like the one Dover Publishing sells (with a DVD) of famous Western paintings. Let me tell you about one of my favorite Western artists, Frederick Remington.

Frederick Sackrider Remington was the most successful Western illustrator in the “Golden Age” of illustration at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century. Other Western artists such as Charles Russell (another of my favorites) and Charles Schreyvogel were known during Remington’s life as members of the “School of Remington”. His style was naturalistic, sometimes impressionistic, and usually veered away from the realism of earlier Western artists such as George Catlin. His focus was firmly on the people and animals of the West, with landscape usually of secondary importance--as opposed to Albert Bierstadt, who focused on the natural beauty with people and/or animals minutely included. Remington took artistic liberties in his depictions of human action, and for the sake of his readers’ and publishers’ interest. Though always confident in his subject matter, Remington was less sure about his colors, and critics often harped on his palette, but his lack of confidence drove him to experiment and produce a great variety of effects, some very true to nature and some imagined. You can see his solution clearly in the shadows below.

Aiding A Comrade, circa 1890

Remington was born in Canton, New York October 4, 1861 to Clara (Sackrider)  and Seth Pierre Remington. The family moved to Ogdensburg, New York when Remington was eleven and he attended Vermont Episcopal Institute, a church-run military school, where his father hoped discipline would rein in his son’s lack of focus, and perhaps lead to a military career via West Point. Remington took his first drawing lessons at the Institute. He then transferred to another military school where his classmates found the young Remington to be a pleasant fellow, a bit careless and lazy, good-humored, and generous of spirit, but definitely not soldier material. He enjoyed making caricatures and silhouettes of his classmates.

At sixteen, he wrote to his uncle of his modest ambitions, “I never intend to do any great amount of labor. I have but one short life and do not aspire to wealth or fame in a degree which could only be obtained by an extraordinary effort on my part”. He imagined a career for himself as a journalist, with art as a sideline. Can you tell he was an only child and much pampered? ☺ 

Remington was accepted to art school at Yale University, but while there, he spent more time in the sports programs than in attending art classes. He didn’t like drawing still life or from casts. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved horseback riding, swimming, camping and numerous other forms of exercise. He left Yale in 1879 to help nurse his ailing father, who died a year later of tuberculosis.

Living off his inheritance and modest work income, Remington refused to go back to art school and instead spent time camping and enjoying himself. At nineteen, he made his first trip west, going to Montana, at first to buy a cattle operation then a mining interest but realized he did not have sufficient capital for either. In the Old West of 1881, he saw the vast prairies, the quickly shrinking buffalo herds, the still unfenced cattle, and the last major confrontations of U.S. Cavalry and native American tribes, scenes he had imagined since his childhood. He also hunted grizzly bears with Montague Stevens in New Mexico in 1895. Though the trip was undertaken as a lark, it gave Remington a more authentic view of the West than some of the later artists and writers who followed in his footsteps, such as N. C. Wyeth and Zane Grey, who arrived twenty-five years later when the Old West had slipped into history.

From that first trip, Harper's Weekly published Remington’s first published commercial effort, a re-drawing of a quick sketch on wrapping paper that he had mailed back East. In 1883, Remington went to rural Peabody, Kansas, to try his hand at the booming sheep ranching and wool trade, as one of the “holiday stockmen”, rich young Easterners out to make a quick killing as ranch owners. He invested his entire inheritance but Remington found ranching to be a rough, boring, isolated occupation which deprived him of the finer things of Eastern life, and the real ranchers thought of him as lazy.(Refer to his letter to his Uncle Bill above.)

A Dash For The Timber, 1889

Remington was one of the first American artists to illustrate the true gait of the horse in motion (along with Thomas Eakins), as validated by the famous sequential photographs of Eadweard Muybridge. (Which I was fortunate to see at Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum.) Previously, horses in full gallop were usually depicted with all four legs pointing out. The galloping horse became Remington’s signature subject, copied and interpreted by many Western artists who followed him, adopting the correct anatomical motion. Though criticized by some for his use of photography, Remington often created depictions that slightly exaggerated natural motion to satisfy the eye. He wrote, “the artist must know more than the camera... (the horse must be) incorrectly drawn from the photographic standpoint (to achieve the desired effect).”

He soon had enough success selling his paintings to locals to see art as a real profession. Remington returned home again, his inheritance gone but his faith in his new career secured, and he and his wife Eva moved to Brooklyn. He began studies at the Art Students League of New York and significantly bolstered his technique. Newspaper interest in the dying West was escalating. He submitted illustrations, sketches, and other works for publication with Western themes to Collier's and Harper's Weekly, as his recent Western highly exaggerated experiences and his hearty, breezy “cowboy” demeanor gained him credibility with the eastern publishers looking for authenticity. His first full-page cover under his own name appeared in Harper's Weekly on January 9, 1886, when he was twenty-five. With financial backing from his Uncle Bill, Remington was able to pursue his art career and support his wife.

Against the Sunset 1906

In 1886, Remington was sent to Arizona by Harper's Weekly on a commission as an artist-correspondent to cover the government’s war against Geronimo. Although he never caught up with Geronimo, Remington did acquire many authentic artifacts to be used later as props, and made many photos and sketches valuable for later paintings. He also made notes on the true colors of the West, such as “shadows of horses should be a cool carmine & Blue”, to supplement the black-and-white photos. Ironically, art critics later criticized his palette as “primitive and unnatural” even though it was based on actual observation.

After returning East, Remington was sent by Harper's Weekly to cover the Charleston, South Carolina earthquake of 1886. To expand his commission work, he also began doing drawings for Outing magazine. His first year as a commercial artist had been successful, earning Remington $1,200, almost triple that of a typical teacher. He had found his life’s work and bragged to a friend, “That’s a pretty good break for an ex cow-puncher to come to New York with $30 and catch on it ‘art’." 

Conjuring Back The Buffalo 1892

For commercial reproduction in black-and-white, he produced ink and wash drawings. As he added watercolor, he began to sell his work in art exhibitions. His works were selling well but garnered no prizes, as the competition was strong and masters like Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson were considered his superiors. A trip to Canada in 1887, produced illustrations of the Blackfoot, the Crow Nation, and the Canadian Mounties, eagerly enjoyed by the reading public.

Later that year, Remington received a commission to do eighty-three illustrations for a book by Theodore Roosevelt, RANCH LIFE AND THE HUNTING TRAIL, to be serialized in The Century Magazine before publication. The 25-year-old Roosevelt had a similar Western adventure to Remington, losing money on a ranch in North Dakota the previous year but gaining experience which made him an “expert” on the West. The assignment gave Remington’s career a big boost and forged a lifelong connection with Roosevelt.

The Buffalo Hunt, 1890

His full-color oil painting Return of the Blackfoot War Party was exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the New York Herald commented that Remington would “one day be listed among our great American painters”. Though not admired by all critics, Remington’s work was deemed “distinctive” and “modern”. By now, he was demonstrating the ability to handle complex compositions with ease, as in Mule Train Crossing the Sierras in 1888, and to show action from all points of view. His status as the new trendsetter in Western art was solidified in 1889 when he won a second-class medal at the Paris Exposition. He had been selected by the American committee to represent American painting over Albert Bierstadt.

Around this time, Remington made a gentleman’s agreement with Harper's Weekly, giving the magazine an informal first option on his output but maintaining Remington’s independence to sell elsewhere if desired. As a bonus, the magazine launched a massive promotional campaign for Remington, stating that “He draws what he knows, and he knows what he draws.” Though laced with blatant puffery common for the time claiming that Remington was a bona fide cowboy and Indian scout, the effect of the campaign was to raise Remington to the equal of the era’s top illustrators, Howard Pyle and Charles Dana Gibson.

His first one-man show, in 1890, presented twenty-one paintings at the American Art Galleries and was very well received. With success all but assured, Remington became established in society. His personality, his “pseudo-cowboy” speaking manner, and “Wild West” reputation were strong social attractions. His biography falsely promoted some of the myths he encouraged about his Western experiences.

Remington’s association with Roosevelt paid off and the artist became a war correspondent and illustrator during the Spanish-American War in 1898, sent to provide illustrations for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. He witnessed the assault on San Juan Hill by American forces, including those led by Roosevelt. However, his heroic conception of war, based in part on his father’s Civil War experiences, were shattered by the actual horror of jungle fighting and the deprivations he faced in camp. His reports and illustrations upon his return focused not on heroic generals but on the troops, as in his Scream of the Shrapnel in 1899, which depicts a deadly ambush on American troops by an unseen enemy. When the Rough Riders returned to the U.S., they presented their courageous leader Roosevelt with Remington’s bronze statuette, The Broncho Buster, which the artist proclaimed, “the greatest compliment I ever had…After this everything will be mere fuss.” Roosevelt responded, “There could have been no more appropriate gift from such a regiment.”

                                                   REMINGTON THE AUTHOR

In 1888, he achieved the honor of having two paintings used for reproduction on U. S. Postal stamps. In 1900, as an economy move, Harper’s dropped Remington as their star artist. To compensate for the loss of work, Remington wrote and illustrated a full-length novel, THE WAY OF AN INDIAN, which was intended for serialization by a Hearst publication. Five years later the novel was published in Cosmopolitan. (Hmmm, I guess Cosmo has changed a lot since then.) Remington’s protagonist, a Cheyenne named Fire Eater, is a prototype Native American as viewed by Remington and many of his time.

Remington completed another novel in 1902, JOHN ERMINE OF THE YELLOWSTONE, a modest success but a definite disappointment. Remington's novel was completely overshadowed by the best seller THE VIRGINIAN, written by his sometime collaborator Owen Wister, which became a classic Western novel. A stage play based on “John Ermine” failed in 1904. After “John Ermine”, Remington decided he would soon quit writing and illustration (after drawing over 2700 illustrations) to focus on sculpture and painting.

                                                   REMINGTON THE SCULPTOR

Remington then returned to sculpture, and his first new works were produced by the lost wax method, a higher quality process than the earlier sand casting method he had employed. By 1901, Collier's was buying Remington’s illustrations on a steady basis. As his style matured, Remington portrayed his subjects in every light of day. His nocturnal paintings, very popular in his late life, such as A Taint on the Wind and Scare in the Pack Train, are more impressionistic and loosely painted, and focus on the unseen threat.

The Bronco Buster

In 1903, Remington painted His First Lesson set on an American-owned ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico. The hands wear heavy chaps, starched white shirts, and slouch-brimmed hats. In his paintings, Remington sought to let his audience "take away something to think about -- to imagine." In 1905, Remington had a major publicity coup when Collier's devoted an entire issue to the artist, showcasing his latest works. His large outdoor sculpture of a “Big Cowboy”, which stands on Kelly Drive in Philadelphia, was another late success. His “Explorers” series, depicting older historical events in western U.S. history, did not fare well with the public or the critics. The financial panic of 1907 caused a slow down in his sales and in 1908, fantasy artists, such as Maxfield Parrish, became popular with the public and with commercial sponsors. Remington tried to sell his home in New Rochelle to get further away from urbanization. One night he made a bonfire in his yard and burned dozens of his oil paintings which had been used for magazine illustration (worth millions of dollars today), making an emphatic statement that he was done with illustration forever. He wrote, “there is nothing left but my landscape studies”.

Old Stage Coach Of The Plains, 1901

Near the end of his life, he moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut. In his final two years, under the influence of The Ten, he was veering more heavily to Impressionism, and he regretted that he was studio bound by virtue of his declining health and could not follow his peers who painted plein air. Obesity had become a constant problem for him due to his excessive eating and drinking, exacerbated by attending frequent banquets to promote his painting. He was admired as a "man's man and a deuce of a good fellow" among his friends and acquaintances.

Frederic Remington died after an emergency appendectomy led to peritonitis on December 26, 1909. The active man of his youth and prime then weighed nearly 300 pounds. His obesity complicated the anesthesia and the surgery, and chronic appendicitis was cited in the post-mortem examination as an underlying factor in his death. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Canton, New York.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks to Wikipedia for the biography.
Photos from Dover Publications
Sculpture photo from Wikipedia

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lose a quick twenty five pounds….

How, you might ask. Simple. Just take off your clothes. That is if you were living in the mid 1800’s. A woman’s ensemble could easily weigh over twenty-five pounds—not including socks, shoes, overcoat/cape, hat and gloves.

Their outfits usually started with the tight corset (also known as stays) which, by the way, was claimed to ‘provide even the stoutest of women a healthy option to control the shape of her body’. Along with the corset, add at least two petticoats, drawers, a chemise, crinoline, and bustle with cover, a corset cover, the ever fashionable hoop skirt, which was made with thick, heavy wire so it wouldn’t lose its shape, and then over all of this came the dress, (these were often made of heavy cottons, brocades, and wools).

This cartoon is from the July 11th 1857 issue of Harper's Weekly (New York).

In the 1860’s the popular, huge hoop skirts limited movement and sitting to the point at some social events, woman stood for the entire evening. No wonder the ‘vapors’ set in! (Women would soak a small sponge in vinegar and conceal it in their handkerchief to sniff when they grew lightheaded to keep from fainting.)

With the popularity of the home sewing machine, patented in the U.S. in 1848, and then the invention of paper patterns in the 1860’s, came infinite changes in apparel, both for men and women. The ability to mass produce clothing provided accessibility to a much larger array. Synthetic dyes were also becoming more popular, which provided bold, vibrant colors. The Civil War and the western land runs also changed fashion. During this time the simpler clothing worn by the ‘working’ class became more popular, especially in the south and west. Laboring in the plantation fields and/or walking for up to forty miles a day beside a covered wagon, women quickly discarded layers and the more constricting garments.  Until then most of the fashions came from overseas, and filtered through the U.S. by way of New York, but the gold rush in California quickly increased the population of the western U.S. shore and the women there, being outnumbered by men two to one, had the power to instill new fashion trends.

We often think of split skirts for horseback riding, but it wasn’t until the bicycle increased in popularity that split skirts and bloomers became popular. The trend started in San Francisco where women started to ‘shorten’ their skirts to ride bike. This is also where the ‘General Association for the Simplification of Women's Clothing’ was founded in 1896.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meet the Authors of Honky Tonk Hearts!

Honky Tonk Hearts
New Series on The Wild Rose Press

Lonely hearts seem to gravitate to the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk. A few miles outside Amarillo off historical Route 66, the large wood-paneled structure boast a large neon star with a single flashing steer riding away from it. Owner and bartender, Gus Rankin, has seen his share of the wandering souls cross his bar and dance floor over the years—he’d even like to think he helped a few find true love along the way.

Greeting, ladies! I'm very happy to host you on Sweethearts of the West. It's very nice that I know all of you and something about your writing, too. But I'm wondering if you've been in a Honky Tonk. I'm an old hand at CW dancing in Texas Honky Tonks--back in the 80s! The Crystal Chandelier where I saw George Strait before he hit it really big; No Whar But Texas in Dallas; The Wagon Wheel, and nearby Gruene Hall, the Oldest Dance Hall in Texas. The atmosphere is basically the same in all of them. Celia

1. So, what is your experience with Honky Tonks, and how much of that is in your story?
Jannine Gallant: Celia. I’m a California girl, so I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t any experience with Honky Tonks. Nothing But Trouble includes two scenes that take place in the Lonesome Steer – one in the morning when it’s closed and a second on Karaoke night. I figured Karaoke is much the same in Texas as it is in California!

Lauri Robinson: I’ve only seen honky tonks in movies and the famous Bird Cage in tombstone.  So for Sing to Me, Cowboy, it was largely research and imagination and the sketch for the series.

Sherri Thomas: I love the music and line dancing associated with Honky Tonks. There is some dancing in Lost Memories.

Vonnie Davis: Celia, I’m a Honky Tonk virgin. But Stacy, editor of our series, gave us a great description of both the interior and exterior of The Lonesome Steer, which was a great kicking off point for my story Those Violet Eyes. As a dancer, I can do the Texas-two-step, having taken lessons in Pennsylvania where I was living at the time. So, (author blushes) guess you could say I do the Yankee-Texas-two-step.

Donna Michaels: Hi, Celia! Thank you so much for having us here today. As for experience in Honky Tonks, I used to frequent ‘Emma’s On The Trail’ where we’d go to eat and dance to a live band, but unfortunately it disappeared with one of our floods. Most of COWBOY-SEXY (release date 1-02-13) takes place on a ranch, so not much of my Honky Tonk experience went into my story.

Brenda Whiteside: Phoenix, Arizona certainly has its share of honky tonks. I have to admit I’ve two-stepped through a few of them. But I’m not part of my story. I do think my western upbringing helped me tell an authentic story.

I love the blurbs and excerpts of all your stories.
2. Where did you get your ideas for your hero and heroine?

Sherri: Nick and Darcy originated from a combination of country songs. They started off as very vague characters. It was more the scene that developed first.

Vonnie: My hero, Win, roared into our bedroom on his Harley. I’d been struggling with a scene in a book set in Paris and was a little miffed with my French hero. Believe me, the last thing I needed was another man invading my mind. But Win charmed me with his polite Texan twang and those soulful hazel eyes. I knew in an instant he was a wounded war vet. As for Evie, she just stomped into my mind in those pink cowgirl boots, crossed her arms and announced she wasn’t taking any of Win’s guff. All righty then…

Donna: My husband is career military and I wanted to capture some of the issues they have to deal with when they come home. So, when Stacy told me about this series, I knew I wanted my cowboy to be military, too. Then I thought, heck, I’m going to have my heroine in there as well. And what better way to add tension then to put them in different branches. Viola! COWBOY-SEXY was born. The characters seriously wrote themselves.

Lauri: With a honky tonk as the setting, a Honky Tonk Man was perfect.  I didn’t want Sunny to be the usual rancher’s daughter so I had her come on scene as a waitress, which set the story up for misadventure. 

Jannine: My story evolved out of my vision of the opening scene. Honor is stranded on Route 66 outside the Lonesome Steer. Chase offers her a ride. She takes one look at him and knows he’s nothing but trouble.

Brenda Whiteside: Most of my stories prior to this novella had parts of people I have known. This is one of the few times I can say they are both totally out of my imagination.
Evie Caldwell hates her life. Five years ago, she gave up college and her dream of teaching to care for her ailing mother. Now, she's trapped taking care of her worthless brother and the family ranch. Waiting tables to earn her way out of Texas, the last thing she wants is a muscleman with a macho Marine attitude complicating her life. But, oh, how that man makes her insides melt.
Wounded vet Win Fairchild returns to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul, and open a ranch for amputee children. Finding someone to love is not on his agenda. But when he starts work at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, a spitfire with violet eyes and a major attitude instantly captures his heart.
Evie just wants to escape, but now that Win knows what he wants, can he convince Evie to stay in Texas—and his bed?

Heather Gibson's past catches up with her one dark Texas night.
Locked in a custody battle with an ex-husband who's looking for any excuse to take her children, Heather doesn't need any more trouble. But when a broken-down car and a dead cell phone leave her stranded at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, she comes face-to-face with the one man who could jeopardize everything—including her heart.
Country-singing sensation Lance Dugan is back in Amarillo for his grandfather's birthday and to take care of a bit of unfinished business—apologize to Heather for leaving ten years ago. Lance has fought hard and won big the last few years, but seeing Heather again makes him wonder if he's been fighting for the right things.
Finding each other again may seem like fate, but one horrible secret, buried deep, could divide them forever.

Chase Paladin avoids commitment like a patch of stinging nettles. He's seen how love can trample a man, and he doesn't plan to get hitched—ever. But when Honor Jackson walks into his life, hell-bent on keeping her distance, she turns his convictions inside out.
One look at the too-handsome cowboy with laughing green eyes and a killer smile, and Honor knows he's nothing but trouble. She's come to Redemption, Texas to help an old friend, not to let another man charm her into certain heartache.
But every time she turns around, Chase is there, and the closer they get, the more she fears he'll break her heart. So when anonymous threats make it clear that someone in Redemption wants her gone, Honor is ready to oblige. Only now Chase isn’t certain he can live without her.
Will two wary hearts take a chance on love before it's too late?

Can there really be love at first sight?
Abigail Martin doesn't think so. Unless the sexy red-headed stranger she wakes up with the morning after her best friend's wedding is telling the truth.
Bobby Stockwood fell cowboy-hat-over-boot-heels for the brown-haired beauty, and married her in an impromptu wedding ceremony. Now he just has to convince his new bride that the morning after can be the first day of the rest of their lives.
But just when Abigail starts believing the fairy-tale is real, she finds out exactly who Bobby is, and the walls of make-believe start crumbling down.

JAN. 2, 2013
Finn Brennan is used to his brother playing practical jokes, but this time he's gone too far--sending Finn a woman as a ranch hand. And not just any woman, but a Marine. When 1st Lt. Camilla Walker's commanding officer asks her to help out at his family's dude ranch until he returns from deployment, she never expects to be thrust into a mistaken engagement to his sexy, cowboy twin--a former Navy SEAL who hates the Corps. But before long, Cammie is wishing their fake engagement could be real. The Corps took Finn's father, his girlfriend, and threatened his naval career. He's worked hard for another shot at getting back to active duty. The last thing he needs is a headstrong, unyielding, hot Marine who not only tempts his bed, but soon has him rethinking his goals.
When your past is a blank, it’s hard to trust the future…
A car accident leaves Darcy Brooks with amnesia, but she’s determined it won’t ruin her life. She finds a job on a dude ranch—hiding her brain trauma to get it—and falls in love with her work. Now if she can just avoid falling in love with her boss.
Nick Matthews knows his new employee is hiding something, and he’s determined to discover what. He’s failed to protect his family from disaster in the past and won’t let it happen again. Now if he can just keep his attraction to Darcy from clouding his judgment.
Nick soon comes to value Darcy as an employee and a friend—even as the heat between them builds. But when a man claiming to be Darcy's husband shows up, Nick realizes just how much he wants to keep Darcy for himself.
Authors, thank you so much for your answers. All the books sound like great stories, and the covers are outstanding, as The Wild Rose Press usually does. Congratulations to you all.
Readers: Please visit The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, B&N, and Fictionwise