Slip Into Something Victorian

Home » Posts tagged 'Texas'

Tag Archives: Texas

NEW BOOK, FREE BOOK, AND A PEEK AT INSPIRATION

How exciting to announce that my latest release, O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, McClintocks book 2, is now available. I hope you love this book as much as I loved writing this one!

One of the difficulties of writing numerous books is trying to find a fresh twist for each one. Readers know that in a romance there will be a happily-ever-after ending, but getting there needs unexpected action. For O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, I decided to take my ranch hand hero on a difficult undercover assignment to capture the culprit responsible for disasters at a Texas coal mine. My decision meant lots of research into coal mining in the 1880s.

What I found was lots of information on mining from prehistoric times to today, but not much about the period I needed. At last I found details on late 19th century mining. Additionally, my critique partner’s father had been a miner and she provided important details about daily life in a mine town.

Hero Finn O’Neill is an honorable man who has spent his life trapped by circumstances beyond his control. Through his sister’s marriage to Dallas McClintock in THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, McClintocks book one, Finn and his family finally experience good fortune. Finn dreams of a life in partnership with Dallas raising horses. To achieve the dream, he must purchase land. Problem is, he has no money other than the generous salary paid him by his brother-in-law.

Stella Grace Clayton is a loving daughter and school teacher also trapped in a life she hates. No, she doesn’t hate teaching, just that her family lives in a coal town. Knowing her father won’t live a full life as a coal miner, she dreams of a better life for her and for her family. What’s more, she’s determined her younger brother will not be forced into that life. Nor does she want her sister or herself faced with only miners from which to choose a husband—but so far mine workers are the only men they meet.

ONeill's Texas Bride Final front cover_3

How do two people from two diverse backgrounds meet? Thank you for asking.

Here’s the blurb for this romantic mystery titled O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE:

Finn O’Neill longs for his own ranch, his own horses, his own home and family but thought the lofty dream beyond him. Now the opportunity has arisen but to achieve his dream, he bargains with Grandpa McClintock and his nephew to pose as a miner and seek out the person or persons causing disasters at the Farland Coal Mine.

Stella Clayton has witnessed the heartbreak and tragedy of a coal miner’s life. Her family came from England to the promise of a better life only to find the same hardships. She is determined that her young brother will never follow in their father’s footsteps. And she vows she will never marry a man who engaged in that work. She fights to resist charms of the handsome Irishman who’s recently come to work in Lignite, Texas.

When Finn arrives in Lignite, he immediately falls for the beautiful schoolteacher, Stella Clayton. But her father is one of the men suspected of causing destruction. What Finn discovers soon puts him and members of the Clayton family in peril. Can he salvage his dream, fulfill his promise, and protect the woman he loves and her family?

Here’s an excerpt of Finn in his undercover job:

This [mining] was no life. At least the married men had families to offer comfort and support and a wife to cuddle with at night. How did the single men keep going?

He didn’t mind working from before dawn until after dark on the ranch, but he hated being underground. ‘Twas not a fit place for a human, only for worms and moles and gophers. Plus the repetitive hacking at the coal wrecked his back and shoulders.

Solve this puzzle soon or go mad. Think of Lippincott’s fine ranch, boyo. ‘Tis going to be yours if you can ferret out the troublemakers.

He figured there were multiple problems at work. He no longer suspected Karpinski either. The man was full of dark looks but he worked hard as he played. That left Swensen and Hartford. Neither man was on his crew. Mayhap he could strike up a conversation with Hartford at dinner or breakfast.

Swensen was married and lived in one of the houses near Clayton. What excuse could he find to talk to Swensen? Didn’t he have a son working in the mine? Yeah, a kid about the same age as Lance Clayton.

Hmm, that fact set him to thinking, but he’d have to work on that another time. His mind had given all he could for this day. He laid the apple core beside his boots and fell asleep.

When he woke the next morning, the apple core was gone. Worse, his knife was visible inside his boot. Last night, he’d carefully covered his boots to conceal his weapons as he did each time he undressed.

He checked around him, but others appeared engrossed in dressing and making their way to the dining hall. Quickly, he pulled on his clothes and then his boots. He knelt and looked under his bed. Sure enough, the apple core was there next to his concertina and duffle bag.

James called to him, “Hey, come on if you want to make up for missing supper last night.”

“Coming.” Shoving his shirttail into his britches, he grabbed the core and tossed it in the rubbish bin as he followed James.

He longed for a hot bath and his own bed at the ranch. The only reason he slept soundly in this bunk with a thin, lumpy mattress was his complete exhaustion. One thing was for sure, he was building muscles in his arms that would help him later on the ranch. He hoped that’d be on his ranch.

O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, McClintocks book two, is available at these sites:

Amazon      AmazonUK     Apple     Nook           Kobo           Google Play

Right now, to celebrate the release of book two, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, McClintocks book one, is FREE in the USA. Here are the links:

Amazon      Apple                   Nook          Kobo          Google Play

I’m already at work on Nettie Sue Clayton’s story. She’s the younger sister of Stella Clayton by two years. Where Stella is a redhead with a fiery temper, Nettie Sue is a blonde with a sweet, mischievous nature. Well, sweet until she tangles with Josh McClintock in McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE.

Advertisements

The Civil War battle of Nueces

150 years ago today, on the morning of August 10, 1862, a Civil War skirmish occurred between a force of Hill Country Unionists and mounted Confederate soldiers. The Unionists had been camped along the west bank of the Nueces River twenty miles from Fort Clark. Mostly made up of German intellectuals, the Unionists had been headed to Mexico.  Major Fritz Tegener led the group.

Ninety-four Confederates led by Lieutenant C. D. McRae chanced upon the camp on August 9th. The following morning, firing began an hour before the sun rose. Nineteen Unionists, of the 61 to 68 present, were killed, nine were wounded. The wounded were executed just hours after the battle.

Eight more Unionists, from those who’d escaped, were killed on October 18, 1862, as they tried to cross into Mexico. Eleven of the survivors reached home, while others made it to either Mexico or California. German members of the Union League organized a militia to protect portions of Kendall, Gillespie and Kerr counties from both Indian raids and Confederate actions. They eventually joined Unionist forces in New Orleans.

While Confederates regarded this attack as military action against insurrectionists, German Hill county residents saw the event as a massacre. A monument commemorating the attack was erected on August 10, 1866. This monument is the only German language one dedicated to the Union in the South. The remains of those killed are buried there.

For more info on this battle, visit these sites:

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qfn01

http://davecrane.info/txgenweb/nueces.htm

http://www.rivenrockranch.com/fredericsburg/blog/comfort-remembers-battle-nueces-its-150th-anniversary

For info on my American Civil War romances, visit my website: http://susanmacatee.com

WELCOME SPRING BY READING A BOOK!

By Caroline Clemmons

Image
March is one of my favorite times because so many good things happen this month. Spring arrives today. Already daffodils and pansies are waving from many gardens. Bluebirds are nesting in their house and the goldfinches have arrived at our bird feeders. Our grass and plants are greening and native elm trees have leafed out. Soon our redbud tree will flower and our peach trees have already budded. Those two trees signal to my family that spring has arrived..Bluebonnets like those above are in bloom along the roadways.

Don’t you love spring? It’s as if the world gets a fresh start. Spring is a time of renewal for people as well as the earth. The new growth and flowers inspire us to make a new start at achieving our own dreams. This time of year, I feel invincible–like the country western song says, “Ten feet tall and bullet proof.” Well, until I look in the mirror and wonder what the heck happened there? LOL What are some of your goals for the rest of this year?

One of my goals for this spring was to finish BRAZOS BRIDE, a western historical. Yes, this is a Victorian blog, but we also write the Victorian period in the United States, and this book takes place in August of 1870. Thank goodness, I finished this book and published it on Amazon only one week after my goal date. I love publishing on Amazon Kindle because this gives me control over what and when I have for readers. Even better for readers is the fact that this book is only 99 cents. What a deal, right?

Here’s a blurb for BRAZOS BRIDE:
Hope Montoya knows someone is poisoning her, but who? She suspects her mother was also poisoned and knows her father was murdered. Who wants her family eliminated? She vows to fight! She realizes she won’t last the eight months until she turns twenty-five and her uncle no longer controls her or her estate. Never will she be dominated by a man as she was by her father, as she has seen her mother and grandmothers dominated. If she marries, she gains control now, but only if she weds a man she can trust. Only one man meets her requirements. Can she trust him to protect her and capture the killer…but then to leave?

Micah Stone has been in love with Hope since the first time he saw her. But he was accused of her father’s murder and surely would have hung if not for his two brothers’ aid. Most in the community still believe him guilty. But the drought has him too worried about water for his dying cattle to care about his neighbors’ opinions. When Hope proposes a paper marriage in exchange for land on the Brazos River and much needed cash, her offer rubs his pride raw. His name may be Stone, but he’s not made of it. He can’t refuse her for long, and so their adventure begins.

Here’s an excerpt from BRAZOS BRIDE:
She looked at her hands. Perhaps she was unreasonable. Or maybe insane for sympathizing with a man who’d had to work harder because of her family.
“I know it is an odd situation. If—if you wear your shirt and britches, I guess it would be all right if you slept on top of the cover here.” She patted the bed beside her.
He froze. Not a muscle moved, and he only stared at her. Had she misunderstood? Did he think her offer too forward?
She babbled, “That is, if you want to. You said I should trust you. Well, maybe you would be more comfortable where you are.” Why didn’t he say something? Would he prefer sleeping in a chair to sharing the bed?
From the street below, she heard raucous laughter and someone called to a man named Ben. Music from a piano, she supposed in the saloon, drifted in through the open windows. A gust of breeze moved the curtains and slid across her skin. In this room, though, there was no sound.
Slowly, he rose and extinguished the lamp as he moved across the room. She slid one of the pillows beside hers then scooted down. What had possessed her to offer him half her bed? Would he think she invited more?
Too late to take it back now, for the mattress dipped as he stretched out. Quaking inside at the thought of him so near, she turned her back to him. She heard his weary sigh, as if he relaxed for the first time in a long while.
“Good night,” she offered, and hoped he understood the finality of the phrase.
“Yep. Good night, Mrs. Stone.” The mattress shook as he turned his back to her. She felt the soles of his feet press against her ankles. He must be several inches too long for the bed and she guessed he had to bend his legs to fit. She didn’t dare turn to see firsthand.
She lay perfectly still, afraid to take a deep breath. Soon his breathing changed and she knew he slept. Outside the open window the town quieted and the distant tinkling of the piano was the only sound. Light from the full moon illuminated the room and slanted across the bed. A soft breeze drifted across her, lulling her in its caress.
With a sigh, she fought to relax, but abdominal pain kept her awake no matter how her body cried for rest. Perhaps if she planned, she’d forget the pain and chills that racked her frame.
Plan, yes. She needed a plan for food preparation when she returned to her home. No, Micah said he had a plan. Oh, dear, once more he took charge when it was her life, her home.
Maybe Aunt Sofia and Uncle Jorge would have left by then and things would be fine. Already she felt more secure. She sensed her eyelids drifting closed and the sleep’s blessed relief approaching.
A gunshot ripped apart the night.
The blast startled her and she screamed as something thudded near her head, showering her hair and face with splinters. Panic immobilized her. What had happened?
Micah dragged her onto the floor as a bullet ripped into the mattress.

Did that excerpt intrigue you? Please say yes. Here’s the buy link:
http://www.amazon.com/Brazos-Bride-Stone-Mountain-ebook/dp/B007HS10SY/ref=sr_1_14?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1332252127&sr=1-14

Read more about me at my blog http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com and my website http://www.carolineclemmons.com.
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Caroline Clemmons
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/CarolinClemmons (no E in Caroline)
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/458092.Caroline_Clemmons

Since St. Patrick’s Day occurs this month and this is also Irish-American Month and some of my ancestors were Scot-Irish, I thought perhaps I’d leave you an Irish Blessing to end the post. In my book THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, the heroine’s father, Seamus O’Neill, is a man with the gift of gab and a blessing or toast for every occasion. Here is a well-known blessing he used:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hallow of His hand.

Thanks for stopping by!

Caroline Clemmons writes romance and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. . Caroline loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com

HAVE A DRINK OF CRAZY WATER

Hi, Caroline Clemmons here. My friend Celia Yeary is allowing me to include in this post an article she did for Sweethearts of the West this week about Mineral Wells, specifically about the Crazy Water there. There’s a Crazy Water Festival, this year from October 7-9th, 2012. But the Crazy Water is sold year round and then there’s the Crazy Water Hotel and the Baker Hotel, and BatWorld.   Thanks for sharing with me, Celia.

I’ll start with Celia’s portion of today’s post and include her map of Mineral Wells’ location for non-Texans:

In 1877, James Lynch and his wife, Amanda, left the North Texas town of Denison, Texas with their nine children and fifty head of livestock. The Lynch’s were searching for a drier climate because their family had been in poor health. Both James, who was fifty, and Amanda suffered from rheumatism. 
 

Hills of Palo Pinto County

As they traveled, news of Comanche attacks further west stopped their journey. On Christmas Eve, 1877, one of their oxen collapsed and died after crossing the Brazos River and lightning struck  another. They decided to settle down where they were, in a pretty valley tucked in the hills of Palo Pinto County.

James Lynch Family Cabins and Well

Mr. Lynch purchase eighty acres of land and began to settle. From 1877 until the summer of 1880, the Lynch’s hauled water from the Brazos River to their land, some four miles away. That summer Mr. Johnny Adams happened upon the Lynch Ranch. Mr. Adams, a well driller, agreed to drill a well on the property for Mr. Lynch in exchange for a yoke of oxen.

James Alvin Lynch

At first the Lynch’s were hesitant to drink the water, because it had a funny taste and they were afraid it might be poisoned. Hauling water four miles, though, was difficult, so they began sampling the water. Finding that it was not harmful, the Lynch’s began drinking the well water. An unexpected thing happened. Mr. and Mrs. Lynch’s rheumatism was cured, and Mr. Lynch, once frail and gaunt, began putting on weight. In fact, the entire family became healthier. 

News of the improvements in the health of the Lynch family spread fast. Neighbors began trying the water, and within a month strangers were coming to the Lynch Ranch inquiring about it. Mr. Lynch began selling the water for five cents a quart. The water grew in popularity very quickly, and by the end of the year 3,000 people at a time were camping on the Lynch property.

The town of Mineral Wells was laid out on the ranch in the fall of 1881, and Mr. Lynch became the town’s first mayor. People arrived by the hundreds, and by November it looked like a small army had moved in. A boom town had sprung up. Because of the enormous demand, Mr. Lynch and others began to dig more wells.

Crazy Water Pavillion

The water got its name of “Crazy Water” from an elderly lady who suffered from a form of dementia and sat by the well all day, asking people to draw her up a pail of water. The water apparently had some positive effects on the “crazy lady’s” illness, and soon others were lining up for the water. The well was named the “Crazy Well” and a pavilion was built at the site. Today, the Crazy Water Retirement Hotel sits on that spot on Main Street.

Crazy Water Company Today

The Crazy Water Company became the most well known of the Mineral Wells water companies. Today, visitors can find the Crazy Water Company a couple of blocks behind the Crazy Hotel.

Crazy Water Crystal Plant

 
The Crazy Water Crystal Plant was built in 1919. “Crazy” water was boiled down until only crystals remained. These crystals became an early version of “instant food” to be dissolved in water. The crystals were sold all over the world.
 

Mineral Wells Today

Please read these notes from Celia:

NOTE #1: A significant amount of lithium can be found in some of the town’s wells, indicating that the “Crazy Water” story may have significance. Lithium is used today to treat some mental illnesses.

NOTE #2: As a very young man, my daddy worked in the Crystal Plant. When he met Mother, I believe he was working there at the time. My mother, as a young girl, worked in the basement laundry of the famous Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. They courted by going to dances held for young adults. My daddy always said of Mother: “Another fellow took her to the dance, but I took her home.”

Celia Yeary, Texas author

NOTE #3: I was born in Salesville, a small village eight miles north of Mineral Wells. I grew up in West Texas, but all through the years, we traveled back to Minerals Wells and Salesville to visit both sets of grandparents. I’ve known about the Crazy Hotel and the crazy water..and the Baker Hotel..my entire life.

Celia Yeary-Romance…and a little bit ‘o Texas 
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com
http://www.celiayeary.com
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Celia-Yeary-Author/208687145867971         

Caroline’s notes: In those prone to form them, the mineral-laden water hastens formation of kidney and gall stones. Otherwise, they are reputed to be beneficial for many conditions. Crystals are still shipped worldwide.

Other mineral water companies operated in the area. I have an old bottle from Wizard Wells, but nothing is left ot that community except ruins.

 

Baker Hotel

Now for my portion of this post. First, the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, Texas is on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. I love the place, and especially like that style architecture.

The Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells, TexasI was fortunate to tour the Baker Hotel on a Heritage Society Tour several years ago. My family had driven by the hotel many times when we traveled West on Highway 180 from the DFW Metroplex, and I was impressed with the architecture and size. I didn’t make it up to the bell tower, but I did see Mr. Baker’s large suite. Seeing inside the hotel saddened me. One speculator had almost gutted the place selling off fixtures, carpets, and anything marketable. After that, he deserted the hotel. Then vagrants and vandals moved in. For years, freinds of the Baker have tried to find investors to purchase and restore the hotel to its former beauty.

At one time, “the Baker,” as locals call it, had a full spa, solarium with tanning beds, ballrooms, meeting rooms, restaurant, swimming pool, bowling alley under the swimming pool, garages, and big name celebrities entertaining guests. Several notable celebrities made the Baker a temporary home during their visits to the city’s health spas; the star studded guest list included the likes of Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and future U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is even rumored by local historians that legendary outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow may have spent a night or two at the Baker.

As the lobby looked in 1929The lobby as it looks today.

 

The story of the Baker Hotel begins in 1925, when citizens of Mineral Wells, concerned that non-citizens were profiting off of the growing fame of the community’s mineral water, raised $150,000 in an effort to build a large hotel facility owned by local shareholders. They solicited the services of prominent Texas hotel magnate Theodore Brasher Baker, who had gained notoriety by designing and building such grand hotels as the Baker Hotel in Dallas, the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, and managed the Connor Hotel in Joplin, Missouri. Construction began the following year on the grand and opulent structure; it would rise fourteen stories over Mineral Wells, house 450 guest rooms, two ballrooms, an in-house beauty shop, and other novelties such as a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and an outdoor swimming pool (added to the plans by Theo Baker after a visit to California). Completed three years later with a cost in 1929 dollars of $1.2 million, the mammoth building instantly dominated the city skyline and was the first skyscraper built outside a major metropolitan area

Swimming pool with garages and bowling alley underneath

It boasted extravagant creature comforts such as an advanced hydraulic system that circulated ice water to all 450 guest rooms, lighting and fans controlled by the door locks that shut off and on automatically when the guest left or arrived in their rooms, and a valet compartment where guests could deposit soiled laundry that was accessible by hotel staff without them ever even having to enter the guest’s room. The hotel was fully air conditioned by the 1940s, which added to its appeal as a top-notch convention attraction, offering a meeting capacity of 2,500 attendees; a remarkable number considering that Mineral Wells was home to only approximately 6,000 residents in 1929. Even though it opened mere days after the 1929 stock market crash, the Baker enjoyed immense success throughout the 1930s, largely due to Mineral Wells growing reputation as a top tier health spa destination.

Molding on balcony overlooking lobby

T.B. Baker began to suffer financial difficulties in the early 1930s, eventually declaring bankruptcy in 1934. He passed control of the Baker Hotel to his nephew Earl Baker, who had served as the hotel’s manager as well as managing director of Baker’s Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. Despite its owner’s financial problems, the Baker Hotel continued to thrive throughout the mid 1930s. As the decade came to a close, however, Mineral Wells’ reputation as a health spa was in decline; advances in modern medication and the discovery of antibiotics such as penicillin began to lead local doctors, who had been encouraging patients to partake in the area’s therapeutic waters, to invest more confidence in medicine. Business began to suffer, until a second boom in the Baker’s popularity began when the Fort Wolters military base opened nearby in October, 1940. It was home to the largest infantry placement in World War II, and the hotel enjoyed its greatest popularity and success as a result; throughout World War II, the transient and permanent population of Mineral Wells hovered near 30,000, a large number of them making their temporary homes in the Baker.

After the war ended in 1945, Fort Wolters was closed and business suffered. A smaller renaissance came in 1951 when the Wolters facility was reopened as a helicopter base, and the Baker hosted the Texas Republican Party conventions in 1952 and 1955, and the Texas Democratic Party held their convention at the Baker in 1954. Aside from these successes, business declined steadily through the 1950s and the proverbial final nail was driven by Earl Baker himself when he announced that he would be closing the hotel after the passing of his seventieth birthday in 1963. True to his word, Baker shuttered the building on April 30 of that year, bringing an end to thirty years of service to Mineral Wells and surrounding areas. The hotel re-opened in 1965 when a group of local investors leased the structure from the Baker family, but the revival would be brief and marred by the death of Earl Baker of a heart attack in 1967 after he was found unconscious on the floor of the cavernous Baker Suite. In 1972, the Baker closed its doors for the last time and though several groups have made offers to rehabilitate the structure (the most recent.

Who is the ghost rumored to haunt the halls? I didn’t encounter her on my tour, but others report seeing the ghost of a woman.

Contractors have been surveying the place for about a year now, sizing up everything from its electrical and plumbing systems to its compliance with modern-day building and fire codes. If they get started remodeling the place this spring as planned, it’ll be ready to open in spring 2013. The estimated $54 million price tag to get the place up and running again includes outfitting it for business as a modern spa and hotel. Plans are to reduce the number of rooms and add even more luxury.

I eagerly look forward to the time when this beautiful old building is restored.      

Thanks for reading!

Caroline Clemmons, www. carolineclemmons.com, http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com

In the news…

I saw this article this morning but thought it revelant enough to share. It’s aweful Texas has such a serious drought but I think this is fascenating!

Depleted Texas lakes expose ghost towns, graves

Check out this slideshow for some great photos.

Johnny C. Parks died two days before his first birthday more than a century ago. His grave slipped from sight along with the rest of the tiny town of Bluffton when Lake Buchanan was filled 55 years later.

Now, the cracked marble tombstone engraved with the date Oct. 15, 1882, which is normally covered by 20 to 30 feet of water, has been eerily exposed as a yearlong drought shrinks one of Texas’ largest lakes.

Across the state, receding lakes have revealed a prehistoric skull, ancient tools, fossils and a small cemetery that appears to contain the graves of freed slaves. Some of the discoveries have attracted interest from local historians, and looters also have scavenged for pieces of history. More than two dozen looters have been arrested at one site.

“In an odd way, this drought has provided an opportunity to view and document, where appropriate, some of these finds and understand what they consist of,” said Pat Mercado-Allinger, the Texas Historical Commission’s archeological division director. “Most people in Texas probably didn’t realize what was under these lakes.”

Texas finished its driest 12 months ever with an average of 8.5 inches of rain through September, nearly 13 inches below normal. Water levels in the region’s lakes, most of which were manmade, have dropped by more than a dozen feet in many cases.

The vanishing water has revealed the long-submerged building foundations of Woodville, Okla., which was flooded in 1944 when the Red River was dammed to form Lake Texoma. A century-old church has emerged at Falcon Lake, which straddles the Texas-Mexico border on the Rio Grande.

Steven Standke and his wife, Carol, drove to the old Bluffton site on a sandy rutted path that GPS devices designate not as a road but the middle of the 22,335-acre lake, normally almost 31 miles long and five miles wide.

“If you don’t see it now, you might never see it again,” said Carol Standke, of Center Point, as she and her husband inspected the ruins a mile from where concrete seawalls ordinarily would keep the lake from waterfront homes.

Old Bluffton has been exposed occasionally during times of drought. The receding waters have revealed concrete foundations of a two-story hotel, scales of an old cotton gin, a rusting tank and concrete slabs from a Texaco station that also served as a general store. The tallest structure is what’s left of the town well, an open-topped concrete cube about 4 feet high. Johnny Parks’ tombstone is among a few burial sites.

Local historian Alfred Hallmark, whose great-great-great grandfather helped establish Bluffton, said his research showed 389 graves were moved starting in 1931 when dam construction began. That’s the same year Bluffton’s 40 or 50 residents started moving several miles west to the current Bluffton, which today amounts to a convenience store and post office at a lonely highway intersection serving 200 residents.

Residents had to leave their ranches and abandon precious pecan trees, some of which produced more than 1,000 pounds of nuts each year. “It was devastating,” said Hallmark, 70, a retired teacher, of the move. “They had no choice.”

Other depleted lakes across Texas are revealing much older artifacts. More than two dozen looters have been arrested at Lake Whitney, about 50 miles south of Fort Worth, for removing Native American tools and fossils that experts believe could be thousands of years old.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees Lake Whitney, is patrolling a number of areas that contain artifacts, including some rock shelters once filled with water, said Abraham Phillips, natural resources specialist with the agency.

At Lake Georgetown near Austin, fishermen discovered what experts determined was the skull of an American Indian buried for hundreds or thousands of years. It’s not clear what will become of the skull, said Kate Spradley, a Texas State University assistant anthropology professor who is keeping it temporarily in a lab. Strict federal laws governing American Indian burial sites bar excavations to search for other remains.

No such restrictions exist for the nearly two dozen unmarked graves discovered this summer in a dried-up section of a Navarro County reservoir. Some coffin lids are visible just under the dirt. Crews plan to excavate the site about 50 miles south of Dallas and move the remains to a cemetery, said Bruce McManus, chairman of the county’s historical commission. He said the area of Richland-Chambers Lake is on property formerly owned by a slave owner.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime find … and maybe the only silver lining in the ongoing drought,” McManus said.

NOVEMBER IS A BUSY MONTH

By Caroline Clemmons

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. But then, November is a busy month. This is National Family Literacy Month. Children are already counting the days until Christmas. Teachers are counting the days until Christmas vacation. 😉 I’m reading, writing, getting ready for Thanksgiving, and–just like a kid–counting the days until Christmas. I love this time of year. For what are you thankful? Probably too many things to count. One of the things for which I am grateful is that I get to spend all day writing my stories and promoting them. Not so much the promotion, but I love writing. I even like writing blogs. 

Speaking of thankful, this blog is about my stories. I’m grateful to have four you can order from The Wild Rose Press at http://www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638.html in print and download. They are:

OUT OF THE BLUE is a paranormal (time travel, clairvoyant) romantic suspense in which an Irish woman, Deirdre Doherty, jumps off a cliff in 1845 Ireland to escape a mob…and plops down in modern Possum Kingdom Lake in North Central Texas. Yes, that’s a real lake, and it was named because 19th century trappers used to gather so many possum skins there for the pelt trade. Euw. It’s also a popular lake for water sports. The lake is surrounded by hills covered in post oaks and cedar, and this time of year the post oaks turn brilliant colors. That’s why the low mountain range is calledthe Palo Pinto Mountains.  The Irish town of Ballymish and the Texas city of Radford are fictitious. Weird, huh, when Possum Kingdom is for real. Deirdre and police detective Brendan Hunter team up to learn who is trying to kill them, who killed Brendan’s partner, and who has framed Brendan. There’s a lively cast of supporting characters who people Brendan’s life–and now Deirdre’s as well. But is she in our time to stay, or will she suddenly be sent back to the mob who want to burn her as they did her home?

THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE is a western historical romance set near Bandera in the Central Texas hill country. Rancher Dallas McClintock has been breeding and training horses and is gaining respect for his skill. He doubts he’ll ever overcome the prejudice some feel toward him for his half-Cherokee blood, but he’s seen a difference as word of his ability with horses spreads. On a trip home after delivering horses, Dallas rescues a beautiful woman from two men who abducted her. Although he kills the two men, he is badly wounded in the exchange. Her father and brothers take him to their camp, a band of Irish Travelers. Although the O’Neill family are merely Irish who’ve been turned off their land in Ireland, they joined with the Travelers for protection. But Sean O’Neill sees a good chance for his daughter Cenora Rose to escape from the brutish Traveler leader who seeks to force her to wed him. Before he heals enough to escape, Dallas is caught in a trap and forced to marry Cenora. Not only has he suddenly acquired a wife, he has inherited her wild Irish family as well.  And does the O’Neill clan ever lead Dallas a traumatic life! He, on the other hand, is a man of honor who astonishes his new kin with his nature. 

SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME is a western historical romance set near Medina. Matt Petrov is assigned to help a distant relative, Ivan Romanovich, claim his land. When Matt arrives at the boarding house where Ivan is staying, Ivan has disappeared. And who should be helping her mother operate the boarding house but Beth Jeffers, the woman Matt’s loved for six years. Beth thinks Matt is cut from the same cloth as the man to whom she was briefly married–long enough to conceive her son Davey. Matt’s grateful she escaped her abusive husband before her son was born, but he wonders if Beth was party to Lionel Jeffers plans. Matt has wished he were the man she’d married instead of the conniving, and dead, Jeffers, but Matt never let anyone know. Now, he’s living in the same home as she and her son and mother. Beth doesn’t know Matt’s secrets, and he fears when she learns them she’ll never speak to him again. He couldn’t bear losing her twice. Just when he works up the courage to tell her, Beth’s son disappears. Can Matt save Ivan and Davey in time? What will Beth do when she learns the truth? (This one is available only in e-download)

HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is a contemporary western romance set in and near Lubbock in West Texas. Courtney Madison has battled poverty her entire twenty-five years but is determined to make a safe and happy home for her teenaged brother after the recent death of their mom. Her mom’s illness left Courtney with a mountain of hospital bills, her formerly sweet brother Jimmy is now cutting class and hanging with a rough crowd, and she’s just learned she’s being downsized in two weeks. Hanging on by the threads of a fraying rope, she learns she’s inherited two million dollars from a kind elderly man she befriended when he was in the hospital across the hall from her mom. She thinks her inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers–but Courtney learns that while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine. Rancher/entrepeneur Derek Corrigan has incredible instincts for flourishing in the business world. With women, not so much. In fact, his friends bemoan he’s King Midas where money is concerned, but his judgment of women is pathetic–evidenced by his late wife and now the flamboyant woman he’s been escorting of late. As far as Derek is concerned, all he wants is to be a good dad to his children Warren, aged 8, and Meg, aged 5. Derek suspects the worst of his new neighbor and vows to fight his attraction for her. The only way he can protect his children and himself is to keep his private life very private. Besides, he knows what women do to him–they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He’s been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured. Isn’t he?

Has your curiosity been piqued? I hope so, and I hope you’ll choose to make me even more thankful this season by ordering one of my books.

Caroline Clemmons writes mystery, romance, and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. Her backlist of contemporary and historical romance is now at Smashwords and Kindle. ALMOST HOME is the first mystery she’s published and is available at Kindle only. Read about her at http://www.carolineclemmons.comor her blog at http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com She loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com.

Thanks for reading!

EXCERPT SATURDAY – SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME

My love for historical novels lures me especially to western romance set in the latter part of the 19th century, especially books set in Texas. You can guess, then, when and where my book, SAVE YOURE HEART FOR ME is set, right? Here’s a blurb:
After fleeing an abusive husband six years ago, Beth Jeffers wants nothing more than to protect her son Davey and to help her mother operate a boarding house. The women in her family have had no luck with men, and she has no intention of letting any man influence her son. Not even Matt Petrov, no matter how much her lonely heart urges otherwise.

Here’s an excerpt

Federal Marshall Matt Petrov, also known as Lone Wolf Peters, fell in love with Beth the first time he saw her. Then she was another man’s wife, so he kept his longing a secret he’s saved his love for her for six horrific years. Now, the lovely widow and he have crossed paths again. This time, he intends to risk all for a chance at happiness. First he must rescue his distant kinsman from an assassin’s clutches. Will Matt succeed before his kin is killed? Mystery, kidnapping, and twists await Matt and Beth. And will his secrets shatter the love he and Beth share?
Here’s an excerpt set after Matt is severely wounded arresting two criminals and returns to the boarding house to recover:
Sweet heaven, he’d never known a more satisfying kiss. He tugged her until she stretched along his body.
When she broke the kiss, she moved her legs back to the mattress but laid her head on his chest. “Why’d you do that?”
“Needed to. For six years. Can’t say I’m proud of wanting you when you belonged to another man, but I won’t deny I thought about you.”
He felt her shudder with sobs, her tears ran wet on his chest. Caressing her back, he cursed himself for as big a fool as Jeffers. “Beth? Aw, honey, I didn’t aim to make you cry. Forgive me. I’d never willingly do anything to hurt you.”
“You didn’t. Matt, I’m ashamed. I hated the person I was when I knew you before. You saw me weak and abused. Heard Lionel yell awful things at me. When you came here, I was mean to you because you’d known me then. I didn’t want to be reminded of those times.”
She sobbed again. “As if I could ever forget them. Then, when you told me about him being dead, I—I felt relief. I’m sorry, but only what you’d be if you read there’d been a train wreck and people you never knew died. I must be a terrible person not to mourn him.”
“No, you’re a wonderful person and it’s not like you lived with him long or had seen him recently.” What a hell of a position to be in. How could he tell her how Jeffers died? He stroked her silky hair. “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I’m glad I found you. You’re a different person in a way but you were a sweet woman then and you are now. And a good mother and daughter.”
He thanked God he’d given Jeffers the money for her ticket home, but he’d never let her know about that. She’d hate him for sure if she learned her no-good former husband had borrowed the money from Matt to send her away in disgrace. It’d done her a world of good, though, and had probably saved her life.
She sniffed and rubbed her sleeve at her face. “I’m glad you came, too. I-I’d wondered what happened to you and where you were and if-if you’d met someone.”
He couldn’t tell her where he’d been, at least, not right now. “I didn’t meet anyone.”
“I’m glad. I, um, I mean, I’m sorry you’ve been alone all this time, but I’m glad you don’t have a woman waiting for you to come home.”
“Don’t have a home.” He didn’t add that he didn’t deserve one, that he’d had one once and lost it.
“Where will you go when you leave here?” She trailed her hand across his skin to rest it at the base of his ribs. He wondered if she knew how that touch affected him and if his erection showed in the moonlight. He bent a knee to conceal it.
“Don’t know yet. Guess it depends on how this thing with Ivan plays out.” He hoped Ivan was alive and pain free. Dang, maybe it was the sweetened tea, or maybe it was her being next to him. His own pain receded a little and life surged in him.
“I hope he’s all right. He’s a nice man.”
“Beth, I’m not a nice man.” No point in her thinking different or him trying to pretend. “I might have been once, long ago, but no longer.”
“You’re kind to Davey, and Mama, and all the other people here. You’re trying to help Ivan. Sounds pretty nice to me.” She sniffled again, and he wanted to comfort her, but she had to understand.
He pulled her up, so he could see her face in the light from the window. “No. I’m here because I have a job to do, not because of any higher intentions. And I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
“A job? You mean helping Ivan is like a job?”
She didn’t get it. “No. Beth, listen to me. I’ve been assigned to help Ivan. Paid. It’s not something I chose to do because I have a kind or generous nature.”
“Assigned?” She pulled away and sat up. “You mean it really is your job? Who are you working for?”
“Never mind. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Instead of any reaction he could have imagined, she laughed. “Whatever it is, at least you have a job.” She settled back beside him, her body touching his from her head at his shoulder to her toes at his ankle. “I thought you were up to no good.”
Dang, she made him feel like a man-and-a-half. He laughed in spite of himself. “Guess I am up to no good, but I’m being paid for it. Not much, but enough to get by.” He turned to face her. “You know that kiss?”
“What about it?”
He raised himself on his right elbow and leaned over her. “Let’s try that again.”

SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME is available at http://www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638html and at Amazon and other online stores.

%d bloggers like this: