History of Tanner’s Ford
1844: Laird Finan MacDougal and his wife, Phoebe, travel west. Both are from Highland Scotland, where Finan’s father is still Laird of the McDougal Clan. He is the Clan Chief of the MacDougals in America. Finan Junior and Hugh travel with them, while Louisa is very pregnant once more.
They also travel with another couple, Benjamin and Louisa Elliott, and their young son, Trace. They stop in Fort Laramie where Phoebe dies giving birth to a baby girl. She is named Louisa, after the woman who delivered her. With no milk for the baby, and no wife to care for him and his children, Finan leaves the fort to find an Indian woman.
He rides out with the wailing baby and meets Sunbird, a Bannock Indian (Bana’kwut is the tribal spelling) [The Dictionary of Native American Terminology, Carl Walkdman, Castle Books, 2009]. Having just lost her husband and infant son, she is eager for a baby to suckle. She speaks of a wonderful area to settle, her people’s land, and leads them there.
1845: the Elliotts and MacDougals build identical cabins across the valley from each other. They get along well, as there are few people within hundreds of miles.
1858: Tanner’s Ford is created when John and Patsy Tanner’s heavily-laded wagons of good break down.
1861: Louisa Elliott, now mother of six sons and a daughter, dies of a spring fever. Benjamin, heartbroken, gives up and succumbs to the same fever. The MacDougals, with seven children of their own, take in the youngest four: Ranger and Ben, Jessamine, and Patrick. Trace, Simon, and Jack stay on the Rocking E.
1862: Miss Lily and Rosa arrive, and build a Parlor for Gentlemen. Trace saves her from attack, is roped and dragged, breaking his larynx, which causes his voice to be harsh unless he whispers.
1863*: gold is found in Grasshopper Creek, Alder Gulch. Men arrive by the thousands to find their fortune.
1864: on May 26th*, Montana Territory is established. Amos McLeod builds the Tanner’s Ford Hotel, with his young bride, Sophie, at his side.
1865*: on February 20th, the first Marshall of Montana Territory is appointed; The Civil War/ War Between The States/ War of Northern Aggression ends. Thousands head West, leaving a dearth of husband material in the East
1866: fed up with what he sees as masses of people, Finan MacDougal moves his family to Texas to start anew. He takes the Elliotts that still remain with him as he does not want to lose their labor as he carves our a new ranch. There is a rumor years later that Trace provided gold nuggets to pay the way and to purchase land. Finan’s new land abuts that of the Garcia spread. Fin Junior and brother Hugh move to Texas, leaving Gillis, Ross, and Nevin to run the MD Connected. Benjamin Elliott is later sent to Virginia to attend law school, as he is not fit to work.
1868: Orville Rivers is elected Mayor of Tanner’s Ford; Hugh and Eudora Jennet have set up their bank in town; Gillis MacDougal goes East to find a bride; returns with sickly Prudence Smathers;
1869: May 15th, William Fletcher Wheeler appointed 3rd US Marshall of Montana Territory*; Luke Frost, Gabriel Downey, and Oscar Cutler arrive and create the Circle C ranch; Autumn: Trace, Simon, and Jack Elliott are warned by Sheriff Frank Chambers that they will not be allowed back in Tanner’s Ford without a wife. Since Gillis MacDougal and his brothers, Ross and Nevin, settled down when Gillis married Prudence, the sheriff expects the Elliotts to do the same.
1870, spring: Elizabeth James, the first bride to ride all the way to Tanner’s Ford, arrives in town. She is soon thrown in jail for refusing the advances of Big Joe Sheldrake. She is given an ultimatum: find a husband by midnight or marry Big Joe. This creates the first book in the Bride Train series, Barefoot Bride For Three.
1871, spring: Amelia Smathers, younger sister of Prudence, arrives in town after signing a contract to marry a Mr. MacDougal in order to care for her infant niece,
on the death of her sister: Bride Train 2: A Contract Bride’s Triple Surprise.
1871, late August: Jessamine Elliott, dressed and acting like a 12-year-old boy, arrives back in Tanner’s Ford after being away since she was a child: first in Texas, then the last two years at a finishing school. Her brother, Ranger, convinces her to prove herself by working for a trio of English aristocrats: Bride Train 3: Compromised Cowgirl.
1871, September: Florence Peabody takes the Bride train, pretending to be mother to two orphans. She meets Benjamin Elliott on the train. Bride Train 4: A Convenient Husband.
1872, May: Victoria Edison accompanies the belongings of Frederick Smythe, her way paid as part of the bargain. Jed Adams, Riley Jansen, and Clint Fortune take the wagon from under her: Bride Train 5: 1 Bed, 2 Weddings, 3 Husbands.
1872, June: Sarah Unsworth opens her bakery, making the mayor and banker furious. The men of the Circle C ranch, Luke, Gabe, and Oz, want to help: Bride Train 6: Beauty and the Beasts.
1872, late August: Zach, Gideon, and Rusty McInnes take matters into their own hands when they grab a wife from the Bride Train before it arrives at the station. Katherine Mason wants adventure, and gets more than she bargained for: Bride Train 7: The Badger City Gang.
1872, mid-September: With winter coming on, Southerner Cassandra Wright must find a job, or freeze to death. As a favor to Sophie McLeod, Cole Taylor, Byron Ashcroft, and Marshall Stevens take on her young cook, even though he is a boy: Bride Train 8: Southern Seduction.
1872, late September: Sophie McLeod heads to wicked Bannack City to confront the man who’s been terrorizing women. She interrupts the work of Pinkerton detectives Max, Sam, and Joshua Gibson: Bride Train 9: Demanding Satisfaction.
The saga continues…
1988, spring: Marci Meshevski is taken in by her sister, physician to the town of Climax and the Tanner’s Ford Valley, after her husband dies in a horrid fire. Simon MacDougal, direct descendent and very much like his ancestor Gillis, breaks his leg and needs assistance until his fraternal twin, Lance returns: The Merry Widow of Tanner’s Ford.
1988, summer: Doctor Nikki Meshevski, having spent her days and nights alone at the library or working at the hospital, decides to throw away her virginity as research to help guide her patients. Eric Frost, direct descendent of Gabriel Downey through Sarah Unsworth, seems perfect as he wants no strings. His younger brother, Matt, wants a wife, but Nikki concentrates on Eric: novel is in process
2013: [this new series is in the creation stage] The people of Climax, Montana, including descendents of the original families from the Bride Train series, must find a way to keep their town alive by expanding local industry. The Internet is a tool to draw people in, as is the prospect of tourism. Rumors of gold nuggets, leftover from the gold rush 150 years ago, may draw some. Guest ranching is a suggestion, as is opening a facility for guests to enjoy the hot springs on the Double Diamond ranch.