It’s Historic Cowboy Time Again

Yep, I did it! I wrote another historic book. When I write the word historic to me sounds as though I just did something epic. No! I wrote a book about two people struggling in the west. I’m going to say that their story isn’t that much different from dozens of other people who lived back then on ranches and did what they did.

People haven’t changed much. The things around us change and that creates different circumstances. So I have to go back and discover what those people had or didn’t have. That is going to change attitudes. I read several parts of this particular book to my writer’s group and one women in the mix was almost angry with me because I had written such a thing. Whoa! Back up about 125 years, please! Yes, women today have more options. Don’t be angry with me because we’ve progressed. What we have today wasn’t available back then.

Women had arranged marriages. Women became mail order brides because they were desperate. Women married men they didn’t know. Women did things we’d never do today. And children did things that we wouldn’t dream of having them do today – after all, they are children. Would we teach a six-year-old boy how to use a gun? The odds are slim, very slim. Back then on a remote ranch, it was a necessary skill. It was as important as learning to saddle his own pony, or using a hatchet to cut kindling wood for the kitchen stove.

So maybe if I can make people see how we lived back then, they will realize how far we have come. And maybe they will realize that in spite of every advancement we’ve made, there are still areas where we need to improve. Yes, we get upset when the washer breaks down and we are forced to repair or replace, but back then, washing clothing was a big deal and if they were lucky enough to have a washer it was a far cry from the wonderful automatic ones we have today. What if you had to stand there and step on a treadle to keep it going. Today we put the clothes in and walk away. Not back then! A washer was a luxury item and you stood on the treadle and pushed down that would cause it to slosh a little. So step-step meant slosh-slosh. And since you didn’t want to put those soapy clothes into another bucket of water, you squeezed the soapy water out by putting them through the wringer. Think two rollers that turned when you turned the crank. Now you could rinse the clothing. Most women used a paddle to keep from hurting their fingers between the rollers as they fed the clothes through. They often used that paddle to slosh the clothes in the rinse water. And then you fed the the rinsed clothes through the wringer (those two rollers) to get the water out of them! Now you can hang these washed clothes on the line so they dry. Except what do you do if the wind was blowing dust? Or it was minus 4 degrees? Clothes freeze! And if they freeze, they will break! So you hung them inside over your wooden floors because you’ve have to be living on the city or or very wealthy to have floors that weren’t wood. And we know what happens to wet wooden floors!

Oh let’s add one more fun thing to this lovely chore of doing laundry, even if you were so lucky to have a washer. That little time of the month when we use all sorts of disposable products to keep everything fresh and nice. They used rolled pieces of rags, and old toweling or strips torn from diapers were prized. Then they washed them and had to hang them to dry. But in those days, such womanly things were unspoken and no male what so ever was supposed to know about such happenings, nor was he ever supposed to actually see your undergarments. Plus who wanted to see such stained and horrible looking things?

But deep down inside, we have not changed. We still love. We love our spouse and our children and we will do everything we can for them. The average young couple today wants all sorts of things for their first home together. That will include things like super-sized TV’s and they look at things such as washers and dryers as basic necessities or they take everything to the cleaners. But back then that washer was as prized as a super-sized TV.

Times have changed and I’m glad they have! But I’ll invite you as a contemporary reader to step back in time and read my historical book Loving Ellen. It’s sexy and gritty, but I keep it sweet enough to read with a child hanging over your shoulder.

coverMorgan’s Crossing, Montana

A new mail order bride, Ellen has now been widowed.


With two young boys from her first marriage to raise, a newly deceased mail-order-husband, no food and no money, she is forced to accept an offer of shelter from the neighboring rancher who found her latest husband’s body. Ellen is no stranger to sacrifice as a means to achieve a better future for herself and her children, but there is something different about Nick.

11 thoughts on “It’s Historic Cowboy Time Again

    • My friend freaked out over the situation that this woman would go off to marry someone she didn’t know just to have a place to live and food for her children and her. She needed to learn to make do. How dare women be that dependent on a man! No matter how I tried to explain that in the middle of rural Montana there were no jobs. There was nothing in the garden, no food in the pantry – the woman was truly abandoned. My friend just couldn’t get it. She could understand that my heroine came from a background where hardship was no stranger and married her dream guy. He made enough to keep them going. But once he died, it was over. She did work a menial job to support herself and her children. Women weren’t supposed to work especially mothers! She became a mail-order bride because she had something as important as money to a rancher – two boys! She was a prize with promise of giving birth to more sons! (The thinking was if she had two boys she’d produce more sons and not worthless daughters.) But the men who applied for these brides were always exactly honest – and it’s much like online dating. But with two rambunctious sons, Ellen was wearing out. The the idea of a rancher, who had painted a glowing picture of himself, appealed to her. Lots of space for her boys to run and they wouldn’t get in trouble like they could in the city. They could run and play with her worrying about someone kidnapping them, etc. In her mind, she saw more than doing other people’s laundry. This would be wonderful. Each change brought her further down into poverty, and although Joseph wasn’t poor by ranching standards, he was poor by what she knew. Yes, we come a long way since then.

      Liked by 3 people

        • Yes, and I know a woman whose first marriage was arranged when she was a little girl. She was happy because he turned out to be a handsome young man. But after two years of marriage, he died in an accident. Then she fell in love with a man. Head over heels in love! She never got to marry him because her parents made her marry a man they chose for her! She says she never really was in love with him. He was good to her and she had several children by him. Today and widowed for the second time, she’s tried and tried to find her first love. Oddly enough this woman is only a few years older than I am.

          Yet, I can’t imagine marrying a man MY parents chose for me! They could “punish” me for marrying a man they did not approve, but they could not keep me from marrying him. My grandmother was part of that first wave of women who did get to choose her own husband.

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            • We are used to going to the stores and seeing three or more young girls out shopping with their friends. In many countries, such stuff is not allowed. Those young girls are kept at home until they are married! I think Greece is one of those countries as is Italy and Spain. Yes, different lifestyles even in countries where you would not expect it.

              It’s easy to understand how our old tradition of arranged marriages has fallen to the wayside, but there are still plenty of people here who will push their children to marry a friend’s child. I have a dear friend who the entire time our children were growing up wanted her son and my oldest daughter to marry. I used to laugh at her and tell her that would be like asking them to marry a sibling, because our children were close! Now they are all on FB together, and each has gone in different directions. I think my daughter still looks at him as though he was a big brother. My photo album is filled with pics of the children playing together. But honestly, we probably could have pushed them to marry.

              My mom wanted my sister to marry her friend’s son. And they were dating. I remember family vacations where he was invited to come. And that is how it works here in the State. I’m not certain what happened, but my sister revolted and eventually married someone else.

              Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. This release has been a real roller coaster ride. But I’ve always said I write about good people. Whether contemporary or historical, my men are never jerks. Jerks don’t deserve a story! But the good guys do. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The story sounds great! I’ll definitely be checking it out.
    Historically, we’ve come a long way, baby! Imagine generations to come despairing of the “hardships” we had to endure. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    • They will probably laugh at those horrible, clunky TV’s we had to hang on the wall.

      I think back to my grandmother who was born before the Wright Bros flew their plane in Nags Head, NC. Yet, she lived long enough to see Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the moon! I promise, watching TV in black and white wasn’t that bad! We just imagined that her dress was pink or blue!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I simply can’t imagine living in times where my parents would choose my mate! Even, or especially, today’s time. I most certainly would’ve rebelled. Since there were probably hundreds of reasons a woman would choose to become a Mail Order Bride, I have to say I admire women who did what was necessary to give their own children a home, or to find adventure traveling to find a husband they could come to love and be loved in return. The women sacrificed a lot, but I like to think most of them were treated well and respected. I cringe thinking of the ones who weren’t treated well. That was a normal way of life back then. Who are we to condemn them? Not me.

    Liked by 1 person

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