The Spanish Flu : Guest Post by Margaret Hanna

It began as a rumour. People overseas were dying of a new disease. No one gave it much

It was summer of 1918. Millions of young men had already died in the Great War. The death of a few more from disease seemed of little consequence. It wasn’t.

The Spanish Flu exploded in North America in August and spread swiftly around the globe. About one-third of the world’s population was infected; between 20 and 50 million people died. Without today’s medical technology, the flu spread quickly and killed just as quickly. Approximately 55,000 died in Canada and 675,000 in the USA. Mortality was especially severe among young adults.

The flu arrived in Saskatchewan in early October and hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. In November, 300 people died. Given a population of about 650,000, that amounts to 50 deaths per 100,000 for that month alone. The flu wrecked havoc in small communities such as Meyronne in southwestern Saskatchewan where my grandparents, Abraham and Addie Hanna, lived. Meyronne was slightly more fortunate than many of the surrounding villages — it had a resident doctor and nurse.

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1927 Village and Farm

Abe kept diaries, and the first indication that all was not well was his entry of Sunday, October 27: “Sabbath School and service cancelled on account of influenza.” He was particularly concerned when their two children contracted the flu at the same time as Addie became “indisposed”. He was worried enough about the children to call in Dr. Donnelly; they recovered a few days later. Next, his hired man contracted the flu; he was ill for over a week. Abe seems to have survived it all.

The local paper, Meyronne Independent, chronicled the impact on the village. On November 6, it reported almost everyone in the village of about 250 people was ill. Dr. Donnelly had commandeered the hotel as a temporary hospital; it now housed 20 patients. He ordered the laundry to boil the sheets with bleach, and the cafes to provide meals for the sick. He would settle the bill later. He ordered those still well to bring anyone sick into town to be treated. School, as well as church, was cancelled. Business somehow limped along in spite of most staff being ill. The editor inserted some humour into the otherwise distressing news with the report that “No small number of “safety-firsters” took up their daily allotment of “preventative” when the ban was lifted;” – the provincial government had temporarily lifted the prohibition against selling alcohol.

Life seemed to be back to normal by late November. On December 1, Abe wrote “Attended service in eve.” The December 10 Independent makes no mention of illness. In all, six people died in the Meyronne district.

The flu did not subside in Saskatchewan until late December; a secondary peak in February 1919 claimed 50 more lives. Not until 1920 did the Spanish Flu fade from the face of the earth.

About Margaret

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Margaret grew up on the farm her grandfather homesteaded, just outside the village of Meyronne in southwestern Saskatchewan. After obtaining degrees in archaeology, she was Curator of Aboriginal History at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for 23 years. She retired in 2007, married and moved to Airdrie AB. Her writes mostly what she calls semi-fictionalized family history but she also dabbles in other genres. More information can be found at
Caption: Photo by Kali Birks Gallup




Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 9.51.27 PMIn a new collection of essays titled Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children, WWW member Kathryn Winograd braids together the pressing environmental issues of today with the sacred and profane intersections of the human and the natural world. She explores in the microcosm of a forty-acre high mountain meadow and its surrounding lands vast worlds of ecological and familial migrations. The announcement by Kathryn’s eighty-five-year-old mother that she would be moving to Colorado to live out her last years sent Kathryn on a journey into what it means to be a steward of land and a steward of a grieving mother.

Expanded gold mines, drought-induced wildfires, sudden aspen decline, solitary hawks and summer-pastured longhorns, coyote and elusive cougar, fairy trumpets: as Kathryn explores the deceptively remote and arid landscape in southwest Colorado at the “back” of Pikes Peak, she begins to discover its metaphorical connections to the emotional family landscape she now lives in.

Slow Arrow is published by Saddle Road Press.

To purchase:

About Kathryn

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 9.51.34 PMKathryn Winograd has published six books, including Slow Arrow.  She received her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Denver, and a M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Iowa. She taught poetry and creative nonfiction for Ashland University for ten years and currently teaches for Regis University’s Mile-High MFA program. When Kathryn isn’t teaching, she spends her time writing at the back of Pike’s Peak in the shadow of Nipple mountain in a little timber frame cabin. To learn more, visit


The Peralta Adobe

Guest Blog Post by WWW Member Linda Ulleseit. Learn more about Linda by visiting her author website and pick up one of her books, too!

Screen Shot 2020-02-03 at 5.59.33 PMSan Jose is the oldest city settlement in California. It was founded in 1777 when 66 settlers were sent there from San Francisco by the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition. The Luis Maria Peralta adobe is the oldest building in San Jose. Nestled amongst high rises and trendy marketplaces in repurposed old buildings, the adobe is an honored vestige of San Jose’s earliest days. History San Jose offers weekend tours as well as school field trips during the week.

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The adobe was built by Manuel Gonzalez, an Apache Indian who was a member of the de Anza expedition and original settler of San Jose. It is named, however, for Luis Maria Peralta, its most famous inhabitant, who was the comisionado of San Jose, the highest military and civilian official.

The adobe is two rooms, roughly equal in size made of over 2000 adobe bricks. Outside is the kitchen area, with three different eras of cooking represented. On the far right is the earliest, just a pot on a tripod over an open fire. In the middle is a brick fireplace, and on the left is the more recent oven, or horno.

Inside, the bedroom is decorated to reflect what it probably looked like when the Peraltas first lived there. At that time, the Spanish government forbade trade with any other country besides Spain. The citizens of San Jose had to wait months for someting to come from Spain, or they used the resources at hand. The bed is laced with rawhide straps, and the blankets are bearskin. A cradle full of soft rabbit skins hangs near the bed. The Peraltas had 17 children, but only 9 survived to adulthood. Even so, that’s a lot of people for one bedroom! The four boys probably slept outside all summer, at least.

The other room is the living space. It shows how the family would have lived thirty years later, once California was under Mexican rule. Clearly, the family was more well off. The floor is wood instead of dirt, and a variety of decorative and entertainment items grace the shelves. Mexico allowed its citizens to trade whereever they wanted, so this room shows pottery and glassware, as well as manufactured goods, from other countries. Californios, or Mexican citizens living in California, traded candles made from cattle tallow and items made from leather for things they couldn’t make or grow.

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Also in that front room is the writing desk, which speaks to me personally. I love the rustic (to me) table by the window, the candles and the quill ready to write. The bottle of liquor is, of course, a necessity to modern writers as well when the frustration of a blank page arises, or when friends come over to celebrate a new book release! Finally, think about the mothers and grandmothers who must have sat on the porch in that rocker covered with fur and watched generations of young people develop what is now the 10th largest city in the United States.

NEW RELEASE: Mortal Music by WWW Member Ann Parker

Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 2.14.40 PMSan Francisco music-store owner Inez Stannert has a past that doesn’t bear close inspection, including running a saloon in the wide-open silver boomtown of Leadville, Colorado. But those times are gone, it’s now winter 1881, and her music store is struggling. Inez also lacks capital for her other enterprise: staking the business efforts of local women entrepreneurs. So when “The Golden Songbird,” prima donna Theia Carrington Drake, hears Inez play and demands she replace her accompanist, Inez is tempted, but hesitates. The holiday concert series would be a golden opportunity to focus polite society on her store and replenish her bank accounts, if she is willing to step out from the shadows. Theia’s husband/manager Graham Drake offers to sweeten the pot, so Inez accepts—and trouble begins.

MORTAL MUSIC is published by Poisoned Pen Press, an imprint of Sourcebooks. Click here to purchase!

About Ann

Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 2.18.51 PMAnn Parker lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is a science writer by day and historical fiction writer at night. Ann is the author of the award-winning Silver Rush historical mystery series, set primarily in the 1880s silver boomtown Leadville, Colorado, and, more recently, in the “Paris of the West,” San Francisco, California. Learn more about Ann and her series at

What Happened at the FALLCON Trade Show & Conference?

By WWW Member Doris Baker

Thanks to all WWW members who participated in the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association trade show in October.

As you’ll recall, all WWWers were given the opportunity to have their books displayed at the conference of booksellers from throughout the West. Our table displayed 36 books and attracted lots of attention. Attendees stopped to examine the books and ask about Women Writing the West. They were impressed with the books and the new 2019 catalogs and WILLA postcards. All books were displayed face out with sell sheets or bookmarks close by for the taking. Many books were handled and examined, and if a bookseller requested a sample copy of any book on display, he or she was given a copy and a sell sheet. Volunteers at the table kept a list of who received sample books and authors were notified by email that a store was interested. Four hundred plus attended the conference. Approximately half of the attendees were associated with a retail bookstore. Definitely our crowd!

If you participated this year, I hope something good came from the exposure. If not, keep in mind that WWW will likely be back in Denver for FallCon 2020.

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San Antonio’s Briscoe Western Art Museum: As Reported by WWW Member Mary Trimble

While in San Antonio, Texas to attend the 2019 Women Writing the West conference, we toured the amazing Briscoe Western Art Museum. It was a tour to remember.

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 4.10.06 PMThe museum is housed in a renovated historical building, a 1930s structure that once served as the city’s library. The Briscoe, located downtown San Antonio on the River Walk, opened in 2013. The museum, the city’s first dedicated Western art museum, features hundreds of western objects, including a full-size reproduction of a Wells Fargo stagecoach, and an actual chuck wagon used on cattle trail drives. Walls and display cases of saddles and spurs fire the imagination and bring the old West to life. In addition to cowboy culture, the museum also explores American Indian, Spanish and Mexican contributions to the area.

The museum’s three levels feature the story of the West through paintings and sculptures, from ancient concepts to the place we know today. Each floor has a theme showing the diversity of cultures, ideas and commerce.

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In addition to the permanent displays, the museum also has a rotating display of the newest acquisitions. When we visited, the Briscoe featured a very large exhibit, the Art and the Animal, the flagship exhibition of The Society of Animal Artists.

Outside, the McNutt Sculpture Garden provides visitors a leisurely courtyard stroll among bronze sculptures depicting figures of the American West.Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 4.10.25 PM

The Briscoe Western Art Museum Store has an impressive selection of merchandise including books, jewelry, arts and crafts, all relating to the Museum’s collection.

If you’re in San Antonio, be sure to visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum. It offers a memorable tour of yesterday and today’s  American West.

Photos by April Brauneis

New Release: LADY LAW AND THE TEXAS DERANGERS by WWW Member Xina Marie Uhl

Screen Shot 2019-10-17 at 12.28.55 PMCowboys, Indians, and Outlaws.
It may be 1892 but the Old West is still alive and kicking in the dusty west Texas town of Abalone. When a bad batch of coleslaw kills Texie Cortez’s father she takes over his old job: Sheriff.
Texie’s proud of how she keeps the gunslingers away and the cowpokes in order. Then HE comes to town.
Gambler Alec Malone aims to attract attention with his handsome face and slick smile. One look at the sassy sheriff and his womanizing ways get the best of him. Too bad his mysterious mission keeps getting in the way.
The appearance of an outlaw gang proves that Alec is just the kind of distraction Texie doesn’t need. She’s determined that his smart mouth and soft lips won’t keep her from tracking down the weirdest bandits in Texas!
Available through
About Xina

Screen Shot 2019-10-17 at 12.30.44 PMA resident of Thousand Oaks, California, Xina Marie Uhl has a BA and an MA in history. As a freelance writer of nonfiction kids books, she’s written more than thirty titles including history, biographies, technology, and career readiness. She’s published a number of novels and short stories in various genres, including fantasy, historical romance, humor, and western.

Learn more at

WWW Member Sarah Byrn Rickman Honored by Aviation Associations

Sarah Byrn Rickman, author of 9 books about the WASP — the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II — has been doubly honored. Rickman has been named the recipient of the 17th Annual Combs-Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF.)  In addition, she is one of several chosen for induction into the International Forest of Friendship, Atchison, Kansas, a memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) awarded Rickman’s two-volume young adult series, WASP Pilots, their 17th Annual Combs-Gates Award and a $20,000 cash prize. She will receive the honor at the National Business Aviation Association’s 72nd annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (BACE) in Las Vegas, NV on October 22, 2019.

The WASP Pilot series, written for readers age 10 and up, begins with two biographies — Nancy Love and Barbara “BJ” Erickson.  Love founded and commanded the first group of 28 experienced women pilots who flew as part of the U.S. Army Air Forces in fall 1942. The 28 grew in time to 303 women pilots who ferried 12,652 military aircraft, logging more than 60 million miles. Erickson commanded a squadron of 75 women ferry pilots attached to the 6th Ferrying Group, Long Beach, CA. She proved to be an exceptional leader and a versatile pilot, ferrying a wide range of Army aircraft, including the four-engine B-17 bomber.

Rickman also won this award in 2009 for her book WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deeds.

The Combs-Gates Award emphasizes the individual pioneers – the people – who defined America’s aerospace horizons. The award is named for Harry B. Combs and Charles C. Gates who shared the vision for historic preservation of this history. A panel of expert judges reviews each submission based upon criteria such as historical accuracy, creativity, potential for long-term impact, and value to the NAHF’s mission of honoring America’s outstanding air and space pioneers.

The International Forest of Friendship was a gift to America on the Nation’s 200th birthday (1976) from the City of Atchison, Kansas (Amelia Earhart’s birthplace) and The Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. Trees in the forest represent all 50 states and 35 foreign countries. Rickman was honored with a plaque in the Colorado section of the forest. She was sponsored by friends in the aviation community for the honor.

Sarah Byrn Rickman grew up in Denver where she attended East High School. She worked as a reporter and columnist for The Detroit News, and, later, as editor of two suburban Ohio newspapers. She often speaks at national aviation conferences and is recognized as an authority on the women and history of the WASP. Rickman is also a pilot who flies vintage tailwheel aircraft. She is a resident of Colorado Springs, CO. To learn more, go to her website,

NEW RELEASE: From Our Home To Yours: Homestead Vegetables – Rhubarb by Ann Edall-Robson

Screen Shot 2019-07-21 at 11.49.55 PMRhubarb. Is it a fruit for a vegetable?

In the pages of From Our Home To Yours: Homestead Vegetables – Rhubarb, the much-maligned, yet versatile rhubarb embarks on a culinary journey.

Rhubarb is a vegetable, and one that has travelled the world to eventually riddle homesteads across the land. A mainstay for many of the generations that came before, now only memories remain where huge leaves are found decades and centuries later, in places, near buildings, or where people no longer exist.

Experience the recipes and more as rhubarb makes its way from homestead living into the current century by way of food and intriguing ideas for usability!

To buy:

About Ann

Screen Shot 2019-07-21 at 11.49.44 PMAnn Edall-Robson was raised in ranching country, and her love for cooking is filled with memories and traditions.  Ann’s passion for the fast-disappearing western heritage and values is evident in all of her creative pursuits from her numerous books and published photography. Ann currently resides near the foothills of Alberta. For more, visit: 


Living in Living History

Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 4.19.55 PMWritten by WWW Member Susan D. Matley

This May I went “live” with a new project, portraying Matilda Sager Delaney for Fort Walla Walla Museum’s Living History program. The project incorporates many of my loves- -history, research, writing and performing.

There are probably as many formats of historic reenactment as there are historical museums and societies. At Fort Walla Walla, Living History presentations are made by individuals who portray a person from Walla Walla’s past. A major historical event in the Walla Walla Valley is the Whitman Massacre, November 29, 1847. At age eight, Matilda Sager witnessed horrendous carnage perpetrated by a handful of Cayuse warriors, including the murder of her two brothers and her foster mother, the missionary Narcissa Whitman.

I could go on for pages about the Whitman Massacre, but what I’ve been invited to write about is the experience of portraying a real person for Living History.

Screen Shot 2019-07-01 at 4.20.01 PMFirst, it’s required time and effort. I’d come to know Matilda through research for a novel-in-progress but additional research was required to create the presentation. The Whitman Massacre is a well-known incident and chances are good that someone in any given Living History audience has studied it in detail. In addition to sharing Matilda’s life and experiences, I needed to develop a concise explanation of the events leading up to the killings and know the history of any person I named.

The Whitman College archives has a major collection covering the Whitman Massacre, up to and including contemporary news articles about the semi-centennial commemoration in 1897. I chose 1898 for my presentation year for two reasons: Matilda could relate the very interesting details of the semi-centennial and she’d be nearly my age. Letters written by Matilda, interviews, and her autobiography helped me capture her voice.

In addition to archival research, I read books covering everything from the Whitmans, themselves, to the dubious trial of the five Cayuse men who were brought to Oregon City for judgment in 1850. Though I use only a fraction of what I’ve learned in my presentation, knowing more helps me understand how Matilda’s story fits into larger events. It’s also helpful during the Q & A session. I know the political maneuvering behind the semi-centennial commemoration. I know the lamentable history of Matilda’s youngest sister, Henrietta.

Shaping the presentation was challenging. I worked through many drafts, tweaking the release of historic fact for the greatest effect. It’s an ongoing process, honing a concise version of what, when, where, who, how and why. Matilda’s life after the massacre was filled with hardship and incident. Having already survived the death of her parents on the Oregon Trail and the Whitman Massacre, she was placed with a brutal foster family from ages eight to fifteen. Matilda married three times and gave birth to eight children. She proudly owned and operated the Pioneer House hotel in Farmington, Washington, until it burned to the ground in 1897. Matilda suffered terribly from rheumatism the last three decades of her life. She died at eighty-eight.

I strive to layer my life experiences underneath Matilda’s and attach real emotions to the words I’ve created for her, a kind of method acting. Side benefit: talking about the death of Matilda’s first husband gives me a conduit for my own feelings of recently being widowed.

During the month leading up to the first presentation I rehearsed every day, alternating between reading directly from the script and working “off book” to see if I could keep the story moving in a straight line without dropping relevant details. Since Matilda’s launch I review my script at least once a week, and more often when nearing a presentation date.

As writers, I believe we have an advantage in portraying real people from history. We know how to balance research and plot, and understand the importance of pacing. If you enjoy both writing and performing, creating a living, breathing character from history may be an excellent project for you.

About Susan

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Susan comes to writing from a background as an actress, musician, and accountant. She writes historical westerns and sci-fi/fantasy from her home in Washington State, which she shares with her many four-legged children.