Please welcome Tammy Hinton, author of Unbridled, to Peeking Between the Pages today. I met Tammy on Twitter and she is just the nicest person! Her book Unbridled really caught my interest as I love pioneer stories and I have to admit that I loved the cover of this book as well. It reminds me somewhat of my parent’s farmhouses from when they were growing up. I intend to fit Unbridled in as soon as I can (so does my mom) but for now I thought I’d share an interview with Tammy where she talks about Sarah Cannon’s story which is what the book is about. Enjoy…
Your debut novel, Unbridled, is being honored by both Western Writers of America and the Western Fictioneers. How did you come up with Sarah Cannon’s story?
I always loved stories about the west. As a youngster in the 1950’s I grew up on a steady diet of Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry. Every Saturday afternoon you found my sister and me at the local Bijou, quarter in hand, to see a double feature and cartoon. Sugar Daddy stuck to the roof of my mouth, eyes focused on the screen, I sat transfixed willing myself back in time to the “Old West.” Week days I rode the wild open plains of the school yard playing cowboys and Indians. I always wanted to be the beautiful Indian princess. After all, I was part Cherokee. My mother told me so.
Mom spoke of her Cherokee blood with great pride. She reminisced about her Great-grandma Cannon, Great-aunt Mary Hummingbird, and other relatives from the Anadarko area of Oklahoma.
Bitten by the genealogy bug in the 1990’s, my goal was set to find my ancestors on the Dawes Commission Role, the census of the Five Civilized Tribes taken by the U.S. federal government between 1898 to 1914. What I found on this journey was more intriguing than I could have imagined.
I determined the Cannons would be my starting point. All I knew about the family was that they left Georgia after the Civil War, spent some time in Texas, and then settled in Indian Territory in the 1870s.
Since my research started in 1996 there was little information on-line. At the St. Paul, Minnesota Church of Latter Day Saints Genealogy Center I sat glued to an old wooden chair scanning microfilm documents looking for one piece of the puzzle. For hours I rolled the hand crank to view copies of census, marriage, and death records. My eyes strained as letters written a hundred years ago flipped by.
At home I sent a mass mailing to the Cannons listed in Anadarko and posted queries on county genealogical websites. Soon distant cousins contacted me to share information. Their stories made my ancestors come to life and take on personalities.
Before long our family history started to fall into place. I’d found my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Ellen Virginia Bryce. When the Confederacy fell the Bryce family left the Georgia land scorched by Sherman, to seek a new beginning in the west. Sarah met and married Augustus Cannon. The Grayson County, Texas Personal Assessment Roll of 1871 revealed Gus and Sarah owned a home and a horse each valued at $40.00. Was that a really good horse or a really bad house? Sometime between 1871 and 1874 they moved to Indian Territory. Lula Jane Cannon, my great-grandmother, was born there in 1874 the second of ten children.
Sarah Bryce Cannon, from solid Scottish immigrant stock, was a determined woman in the pre-land rush era of Indian Territory. Widowed and left with a large family to raise, she transcended the traditional role of a female in the pioneering west to secure a future for her children. A young Presbyterian minister, S.V. Fait, wrote the local Indian Agent in March of 1899, “Mrs. S.E.V. Cannon, I understand, is an applicant for the Thomas farm. Should you find it possible to let Mrs. Cannon have this farm, I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe she will farm in a satisfactory manner. I have known the family for five or six years, and Mrs. Cannon has during that time, at least, been its main stay, and it is my opinion that she will get along better, now that her husband is dead than when he was living.”
I admired Sarah’s goals to succeed in a male dominated time and place and thought about how she could be successful. That’s how the novel Unbridled came about.
Did you find your ancestor’s name on the Dawes?
No, my journey’s not ended. I haven’t found my Cherokee or Choctaw cousins nor the elusive name of my ancestor on the Dawes Role. I’m not an Indian princess, (they were a myth fashioned by Hollywood to seize the imagination of little girls), what I did find is if we each look to our past we will find extraordinary people to admire from our own gene pool.
Every one of us has a similar story in our own family history. Writing memoirs is a wonderful way to pass your family story on to the next generation.
How do you suggest a non-writer proceed?
I took a writing class at a local technical college. This updated my writing skills and informed me on current punctuation usage. Join a critique group. A critique group will give you feedback on what works and what doesn’t. They help edit grammar and punctuation. Even if the book is just for your family, you want to be proud of the end product.
Thank you for sharing your story.
I find the best part of book signings is talking to the people who come to my table and share their own incredible family stories. Thank you for having me.
When Sarah Cannon joins the pioneers in the Kiowa lands of 1870’s Indian Territory, it’s not the virgin prairie, but the challenges to her young marriage, the ruthless treachery shown the Indians, and their bloody vengeance that ultimately tests her faith and resolve. SARAH BRYCE CANNON… struggles to conform to society’s definition of the proper wife and mother. When she can no longer watch her children suffer, she listens to her inner voice. A woman in a man’s world, she is not to be denied. GUS CANNON…distant…unable to express his love. Ill prepared for pioneer life, he fails at every turn. Unbridled, paints a picture of the struggles of life in the unsettled west, flavored with the regional history of Custer and the 7th Calvary’s Washita Massacre and the Battle of Anadarko. It’s through her friendship with a Kiowa woman that Sarah is made aware of what it means to be Indian in Indian Territory.
About Tammy Hinton
Tammy earned a Bachelor of Science in Education-Composite Social Sciences from Black Hills State University, Spearfish, South Dakota. While there she received the Wenona Cook Scholarship Award presented by Friends of the Leland D. Case Library for Western Historical Studies for her academic achievement.
I have one paperback copy (if you prefer a Kindle copy if you win let me know) of Unbridled by Tammy Hinton up for grabs. To enter…
- For 1 entry simply leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do, thank you, and please let me know so I can pass that extra entry on to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word.
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents and I will be drawing for the winner on Saturday, May 5/12. Good luck!