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Trouble in Texas: Horse Thieves

A wild west adventure story, which all begins because of a missing horse.


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For most writers, creating a book can be an intensive, lengthy process and that’s just the writing part. The next step is the submission process which can be just as grueling. This is true about my book set in frontier Texas, a story that first formed in my mind in 2009. The main character came to me in a dream, in part because of a question from my then elementary aged son. He was studying westward expansion and had read a brief statement about lawmen and hanging criminals in the Wild West. The lawless frontier has fascinated countless generations, and sentencing outlaws to hang, most especially horse thieves, is a real and horrible part of U.S. history.

After the Civil War gangs of outlaws took what they needed, ravaging and stealing from frontier families whose livelihood depended on their horses, mules and livestock. Horses have a long history of partnering with humans from providing transportation to hauling goods, and even playing a valuable role in war time. Law enforcement officers were scarce. Law-abiding citizens had to take matters into their own hands and enforce the laws. One such group, the Anti Horse Thief Association was organized. Major David McKee is credited with leading the initial start of the association in 1854 and the formal founding of the A.H.T.A. in 1863. The initial meeting was held in Athens, Missouri. The organization developed a reputation of “sound planning and execution.” The prevailing boast of the day was that an A.H.T.A. posse would ‘chase a thief to the gates of hell—and go on in if needed.’

A.H.T.A. Range of Influence

A.H.T.A. Range of Influence


The Spark for a Story

I wanted to write a humorous tale set in frontier Texas, heavy with details of the time period, and that would address my son’s curiosity about outlaws in the American West. The main character is a slight, wise-cracking young girl with curly black hair, named Silver Belle. Her cohort in adventure is a smart, easy-going boy whose main job is to keep his friend out of trouble. In book one of the series, the school teacher is accused of stealing a horse, which is a hanging offense. The Anti-Horse Thief committee meets and hears from multiple witnesses who saw Miss Libby ride the now missing horse through town. Silver Belle knows who the real horse thief is, and she convinces Jeremiah to help her stop the hanging. Their plan is carried out with hilarious results. It’s a wonder the town of Justice, Texas survives these two!

Book cover design by Meghan Hail Graphic Designer.

Book formatting for eBook and Print by

HANGIN’ DAY is a family fun, Wild West adventure story for all ages!

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REF: A.H.T.A.—the-ahta.html

Natalie Cline Bright is a blogger and author of the fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, the RESCUE ANIMAL eBook series, and is currently working on an action-packed novel for young adults, WOLF’S WAR. Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, recently selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017). More information here: Amazon Author Pages