Posts tagged ‘Women of the West’

Woman’s Adventure in the Old West

Western Europeans made up a good many of immigration into the United States – and here we have Fiona, who has left Ireland after a very tough beginning. Forced to marry at a young age, she escapes a bad situation and learns a little more of the finer ways of life. She sets her sights on America and sails across the Atlantic, she finds herself useful to ailing passengers on the ship that end up bringing rewards. She hopes to succeed in her new country.

And how she does! She is aboard a steamship, spends some time as a servant, and suddenly, through a chance meeting, she becomes an actress of renown. Life, however, finds some sour cherries in the bowl – Fiona falls into a nasty situation that requires her to leave New York and head west. She encounters more acting opportunities that find her back on ship … this time, it is a brand-new Paddle Wheel boat on its virgin voyage down the Mississippi.

But again, the sour cherries appear. Her past – some of it from Ireland, some from New York, catches up with her. She finds herself in the midst of some dealings ‘under the table’ with gun runners and smugglers.

Fortunately, our pretty Fiona is clever and confident and smart. Her interactions with the characters of the book reveal all these traits, and more. Her natural acting skills impress the theatre impresarios and wow the audiences. Her conversations with her acting friends and those she meets along the way are witty and bright. She finds love. She finds hate, both at a personal level and at a cultural level. She finds traitors. In the end, she becomes part of the key that settles the book into its conclusion.

The settings vary so very much – a sod hut, old Irish villages, the glory of a thriving New York City. Chicago, just recovering from Mrs. O’Leary’s cow and its fire, is a source of culture for Fiona. The paddle wheeler is a shiny, brand-new river craft that for its day is state of the art, right down to its jewel box of a theatre and its calliope that announces its arrival in each town.

Characters abound as well – a disrespectful husband, nurses and teachers, crafty theatre producers, patrons of the arts who are secretly patrons of something other than the arts, ship captains (one who secrets that are quite interesting), fellow actors and actresses – all in a range from big-hearted people to self-centered divas that dwell only on their own value.

THE WIND AT HER BACK is a trek in the life of our Irish immigrant Fiona. But there is no mistake – she is headed for surprises, intrigue and even murder as she tries to build her fruitful life in America. 


Another Great Women of the West by Morris


by Kathleen Morris   Published by Dunraven Press, April 2023

285 pages, plus author’s notes following


eBook: 979-1-7379866-9-0 paperback: 979-1-7379866-8-3 hardcover: 979-8-9874563-0-9

Kathleen Morris’s first four books feature real women of the American Old West; all of them filled with amazing drive and character who build their lives in what is now the southwestern region of the United States.  GOLDDIGGER goes even further with the story of Nellie Cashman, who makes her presence well known in such places, but also enthusiastically experiences adventures well into the northwestern states, Alaska and Canada.

The reader first meets Nellie as a young girl in Ireland.  From there, its off to Boston and points west.  She sails with her mother and sister to San Francisco.  Eventually, gold fever grabs the always-restless Nellie.  She takes off in search of gold, heading up her own mining endeavors.   She also seizes the opportunity to open general stores and restaurants in the towns she inhabits.  Her businesses are usually profitable – when they are not, she sells them to another and she moves on. And those sites?  There’s Tombstone and Bisbee, Cassiar, the Yukon, and a rather disastrous trek into Mexico.  There are more places that vary in success but such experiences enhance the make up the strong-willed woman that is Nellie Cashman.

She spends plenty of time at these various sites, but in a deep sense of family, she regularly returns to her mother and sister, assisting them in ways above and beyond the scope of so many.  When her widowed sister dies, Nellie takes in all five children, raising them as if they were her own.  Her faith in God via her connections with the Catholic church leads the reader to discover Nellie’s selfless, lifelong donations to the churches in her towns, and in raising money for new churches and hospitals.

Nellie is just as home on horseback and working her mining claims as she is sitting in her office spaces.  When confronted with adversaries who challenge her position, she is not shy in standing up for every inch she has earned.  Uncouth cowboys and the occasional mountain man become Nellie’s foes, as well as a certain gentlemanly sort who unsuccessfully tries to manipulate Nellie into a marriage that would serve only him.  That’s just not Nellie’s way.

Ms. Morris’ writing also gives the reader a good sense of the scenes in Nellie Cashman’s life. There is the civilized worlds of Boston and San Francisco and the lawless towns of the west.  There are the tough winter conditions, including getting caught out on the breaking ice of a frozen river in the far north range of her travels, and enduring tough desert conditions as she rides expertly across the land.

GOLDDIGGER offers the reader a look into the life of an extraordinarily strong and motivated Nellie Cashman, complete with adventures, challenged values, and a productive life that serves in more dimensions than are standard for many of us.  Take a read – and while you are at it, read Ms. Morris’ other books as well.



By Kathleen Morris

Published by Dunraven Press, January 2022

ISBN Numbers

E-book 978-17379866-2-1

Paperback 978-1-737866-3-8

278 pages

Reviewed by Charles Johnson

Strong, independent women fare well in the books written by Kathleen Morris, including Big Nose Kate (THE LILY OF THE WEST), Fiona (THE WIND AT HER BACK) and Chastity James (THE TRANSFORMATION OF CHASTITY JAMES).  In FALLEN CHILD, Morris adds another to that list, and her name is Josephina Fallon.

The reader first meets Josephina as a pre-teen in an orphanage in the Old West, somewhere in southeast Arizona.  Wise for her years, she realizes the operators of the facility are not necessarily all that benevolent when she discovers that some of her orphan friends and residents of the place are sent off and away from the orphanage – not to be adopted or to learn valuable trades under the tutelage of some merchant or skilled artisan.  Not at all.  The boys are sent to toil for hours and days and years on end in the dirty underground mines.  The girls find themselves offered for bawdy (and bodily) favors at the saloons throughout the area.  These kids have been Josie’s friends.  She fears the worst as she watches them transported off the grounds in carriages and wagons, headed for a fate they are not aware of.

Josie learns she is very soon to become one of those who has already left the orphanage.  She and her friend Colin formulate a plan.  They manage their escape just minutes before Josie is scheduled to shipped out.  They are chased down by the henchmen of the orphanage.  In the struggle as the henchmen catch up, Josie and Colin (and another who had managed to tag along) manage to disable and/or eliminate their pursuers, requiring them to seek a safe hiding place.

In a nearby ranch, they are taken in by a sympathetic man and his crew.  Under his supervision, Josie and Colin learn skills of staying alive in the deserts and nasty conditions of the southwest, include riding horses and handling pistols and rifles, to name a few.  The ranch is set upon by foes of the ranch owner, forcing Josie and Colin to flee yet again out into the wild and desolate square miles of Arizona.

They pick up a few friends along the way – Billy, for one, who becomes enamored with Josie.  The small rag-tag group learns that there are other orphanages that exist for the same purpose as Josie’s original home, so they decide that their mission is to travel to each orphanage.  Their goal; handle the managers of each site, and then make sure the kids are taken care of.  As a sidelight in the mix, they discover the mastermind behind the whole network is living in Prescott, Arizona, so they decide to make a visit to him as well.  At every site and in Prescott, the skills they learned back on that first ranch come in quite handy – the evildoers are dealt with in ways they deserve – bullets fly and knives flash, and our group escapes on their strong horses.  And all the time, it is Josie who makes the decisions, Josie who leads and inspires them along the trail and it is Josie who mediates when her group squabbles amongst each other.

Of course, their activities attract the attention of the law – wanted posters appear across the state.  Posses track and besiege Josie and her compadres.  More struggles – some violent, some battles of wits – keep the reader guessing as to what comes next.  Ultimately, Josie finds peace, but not without a cost that leaves her with scars to contend with for the rest of her life.

In FALLEN CHILD, author Morris paints the Old West gracefully when she needs to – and harshly, when she needs to.  That applies to her characters, her settings, and her descriptions of the action.  There is a good pace in changes from action scenes where gunfire is common, or nights spent around a campfire as Josie’s crew moves along their trail from orphanage to orphanage.  Some of her characters are highly likable, some absolutely polluted with vile personalities, and some are charming – either as royalty or as snakes in the grass.

Once more, here is another good yarn from the Old West of author Kathleen Morris.