Historical

The Christmas Bride By Sylvia McDaniel

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fort Worth, Texas a Wild Place

While doing research for my series The Burnett Brides, I read a book called HELLS HALF ACRE by Richard F. Selcer. This book gives details about a half acre section in downtown Fort Worth in the late 19th century where cowboys, gunslingers and gamblers frequented. This area of town had everything a traveling cowboy could ever want when they came to town with the cattle drives; saloons, dance houses, bordellos, cribs and gambling.

Many lawmen from this era were reformed gunslingers and men who had decided against a life of crime. Given the time they lived in, I'm sure they lived longer by being quick with a gun in the wild, lawless town. But they also were often friends and acquaintances with gamblers and gunslingers.

The other piece of information I came across in this book that made me dig deeper for a later book I wrote was the availability of opium. You could buy it in a drug store, or if you couldn't get it there, just go down the street to the Chinese laundry where it was available. There were opium dens in the city that people often frequented, even though they were against the law. I was stunned at the number of individuals who were addicted to drugs and used that information in another novel.

This book also revealed for me the true life of a soiled dove. Soiled dove is a pretty name for the profession, but few ladies actually chose this life, but were women down on their luck. If you were in the profession, you were lucky to be working in a sporting house. Most soiled doves worked in shanty's called cribs and earned pocket change. The Miss Kitty I remember on Gunsmoke, would have lived in a crib or perhaps a sporting house. According to arrest records there were less than twenty women who worked in the sporting houses and the saloons were usually a male only establishment. Many of these women died young and lived hellish lives. Some even committed suicide. According to the book, the idea that many of these women married could not be verified.

I have other research books on the west and especially Fort Worth, but this one is on my keeper shelf. When I need to know the realities of life in a rugged, wild western town, I reach for this one first.

If you get the chance to visit Fort Worth, I encourage you to get a copy of HELL'S HALF ACRE. There's an interesting map in the front of the book that shows the location of the saloons, the hotels and even Jim Earp's residence. Most of these locations were located in the area where the Convention Center is now. It's fun to walk down the street and try to figure out where the past occurred. I believe that one of the saloons is still open for business.

This is one of the research books that I used to write my best-selling western series, The Burnett Brides. The latest installment is the matchmaking mother’s story. Come check out how Eugenia Burnett’s children and daughter-in-laws get even with her for her matchmaking ways.

Leave a comment and tell me your favorite Christmas Western Romance and be entered into a drawing for a free copy of The Christmas Bride.

Book Blurb
In the western town of Fort Worth, Texas, matchmaking mother, Eugenia Burnett, has achieved her goals. Her three sons are happily married, but she hasn’t given up her matchmaking ways. Now she’s introducing lonely widows and widowers. Until one widower, rancher Wyatt Jones, lets her know he’s only interested in one woman, her. Come celebrate a western Christmas with the Burnett family and watch Mama Burnett meet her match. http://amzn.to/16TEYmP

Sylvia McDaniel likes to spend her time writing western historical novels and cute, funny, zany, contemporaries. Drop by her website and sign up for her newsletter at www.sylviamcdaniel.com to get the latest information on her new releases and what’s going on or you can visit her facebook page at SylviaMcDanielAuthor or @SylviajMcDaniel to follow on Twitter.