Sunday, February 9, 2014

Finding Out What You Never Guessed You Wanted to Know Circa 1879

Outlining The Storm Women from beginning to end has eliminated the "now what" question each time I complete a segment of the story. However, I've been tripped up when the places I've chosen for my traveling troupe of players to travel, in the outline, aren't even on the 1879 map! I gobbled up one whole writing day last week blundering around on the Internet trying to locate a town just a bit bigger than "two tents and a trading post!"

The following day, I stumbled upon Charleston, Arizona, with, among many other establishments, its fine hotel, four restaurants, a bakery, a post office, a lawyer's and a doctor's office, plus not one, but two livery stables. In 2014, Charleston and Millville, the town on the opposite bank of the San Pedro River, exist as ghost towns accessible only by shank's ponies. Things, and as I'm finding out, places do change mightily over the years, especially when the phrases "strike it rich" and "all played out" dictate the head count of a particular locale.

I may have spent time "blundering around" on the Internet, but in that process I discovered some treasure. The Arizona Citizen newspaper in Tucson, Arizona, from 1879 reports, on its front page, local stories of murder and mayhem, matters working their way through the territorial legislature, theater openings, and adverts for hotels, restaurants, and stores selling everything a miner needs to go prospecting right down to boots, shirts, pants and underwear.

Tucson evidently flourished toward the end of the 19th century, and the news stories of the day provide some rare candor and lively reading entertainment. It's worth joining just for the fun and fascination of reading some really, really old news!

I.O.U.: What if Apaches, highway robbers, deeply rutted roads and rattlers had kept our Old West ancestors from digging up fortunes in gold, silver, and copper?

Write On! Read On! Enchantment Awaits!

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