“The Toughest Town on Earth” Eastern Newspapers called Helena. The first county seat of Karnes County, Texas founded in 1852. The town named for the wife of a founder, Lewis Owen. Helena flourished until the railroad bypassed it in 1894. After the county seat moved to Karnes City, Helena became a Ghost Town. The population is about 30 now; if you don’t count the ghosts.
Other than the ghosts of the past, Helena is known for the “Helena Duel.” It was invented by some mean hombres. Men who had a score to settle were tied at the left wrist and each wielded a razor sharp knife. The blade short so no vital organs could be punctured. Shirtless, the fighters lashed at one another until the loser begged to stop or bled to death. The local cowboys bet on the Helena Duel, like it was a cock fight.
My Great Grandfather, Dan Brown, operated one of the Helena Saloons until 1894 when the town died. That had to be a tough job! John Ruckman built a home in Helena in 1878 that is on the National Registry of Historic Places. I met Paul Ruckman, the Great Grandson of John, in Dallas in 1989. It was years later that we realized our Great Grandfathers settled the town of Helena.
The “Indian Summer Heritage Festival” is held in Helena on the last Saturday in October. Lulubelle and I will be signing books and telling stories this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Helena Courthouse Museum located at Highway 80 and FM 81 NE of Karnes City, 5 miles E of Panna Maria, Texas.
Horseracing’s coveted “Triple Crown” trophy (TCT), has been returned to its case at the Kentucky Derby Museum. The three-sided silver and gold trophy was designed by Cartier and commissioned by the Thoroughbred Racing Association. Only California Chrome was eligible to win the elusive Triple Crown, after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. The chestnut colt, with a white blaze across its long nose, failed to win the Preakness the last leg of the Triple Crown. The California-bred horse did win the hearts of racing fans the world over. Chromie, as the four year old colt is called by its owners; Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, is a crowd pleaser and loves the attention. Only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown; the last was Secretariat in 1978.
Chromie didn’t win the TCT; but won the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and placed fourth in the Preakness. He ran against the nation’s best four year olds, during a grueling five week racing schedule. The trainer is 77 year old Art Sherman and the jockey is Victor Espinoza. What makes this story neat is that an ordinary horse, owned and trained by everyday working people, could out run all but three of the best bred horses in the world on a bad hoof.
A future blog will be about a Texas horse that did win the Triple Crown.
In 2001, a great video was taken of the Christmas tree in Zilker Parker in Austin, Texas. The tree is still there today! Mike Carlson, South Austin Memories, posted this and I wanted to share this beautiful video of the City of Austin’s Christmas tree.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
After a two year wait for one of their pups, I had the pick of the litter from the breeder. They are selective about who gets one of their dogs. She was born November 9, 2003 in Shiner, Texas. I named her for where she was born. My granddaughter Ashleigh didn’t think Shiner was a proper name for such a pretty dog. She assumed I named the pup for a beer brewed in the town by that name.
Ashleigh thought Lulu would be more appropriate and I agreed to it as this dog was a lulu. The dog’s mother was named Belle so Lulu became Lulubelle. We have traveled nearly 100K miles together telling stories and just having fun. Not once has she tried to tell me how to drive. She just enjoys the ride and I enjoy her company.
The dog characters in my writing have developed from Lulubelle and my older dog Daisy’s traits. Lulubelle has a touching role in my latest book, Children of the Revolution. I cried when I wrote the moving scene of Adam saying goodbye to a stray dog that befriended him on the battlefield of Guilford Courthouse. Books of the Westward Sagas Series may be purchased on my website by clicking here.
Happy Birthday, Lulubelle!
In lieu of a blog today, I encourage those in the area of Jonesborough, Tennessee to come by and enjoy a fun weekend of storytelling at the 40th Annual National Storytelling Festival.
I will be telling stories and signing books at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, Friday and Saturday, October 5 and 6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, October 7, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.