A Tour of the Hills

map of the hills.png

So, you think you might wanna visit the Hills, eh? Just so you know, we don’t take too kindly to strangers up here. They most likely bring all sorts of trouble that many of us have been avoiding. That’s why we’re here in the Hills in the first place.

Still, if you get an invitation from us, it might help ya to know a bit about the surroundings. Get yer footing, so to speak. But listen: this here map is for you and your eyes only. Don’t be sharing with the Sheriff and folks like that. We’ve got mystery and unknown on our side, and darn if a map laying out every darn thing wouldn’t just ruin the intrigue of the Hills.


Remember to let us know yer coming when you come, or you might find your hat being shot off your head as a gunpowder warning. It’s OK to bring a friend, if you need, too, as long as she is one of Us.

Charlene of the Hills

See ya soon.

Charlene of the Hills


Dixie Hawkins

Queen of the Bunco Ranch106

Dixie Hawkins - Queen of the Ranch
Dixie Hawkins – Queen of the Ranch

Howdy y’all! I am Dixie Hawkins – Queen of the Bunco Ranch106 in these parts. And that means “Boss and Owner”-  just so we are clear. And like my partner here  Charlene of the Hills, I never did let bein’ a woman stop me from doing right for others and especially my family – no matter what it took. Now don’t giddy-up supposin’ that I am one of those who got what she needed by becomin’ a painted lady. NO SIR-REE – too smart and respectful of my own self.

Let me tell you a little about this gal.

I was born into to a rather prominent family in Gotham. Can’t say I suffered too much as a dreadfully young gal -but in a family of all daughters of a strong Ma, that during my born days a smart woman needed to be even smarter and play in a man’s world. When I was at an age of just becoming a woman – the sickness struck and gone up in smoke was my Ma and Pa and a  few sisters. I had some choices to make about my future and the one I made was to join a family – the Burgerons, who was headed west to the frontier. They were a fine family who took me in as one of their own for the trip. I’ll tell you all about that adventure at a later date and how I met up with Wild Toady who became a trusted and daisy partner til this day.

What you need to know now is I landed in the new territory after separatin’ from the Burgerons. There weren’t a heap many females around and bein’ alone it was scary – I was fortunate that I had met up with Charlene of the Hills on the trail out west,  who offered some protection and advice until I could clear my head and think straight.

There weren’t too many paths for a woman in the west in the early days. Choices were limited: Painted Lady or Saloon Girl, and only a few like Pearl de Vere made that work in her favor.  I sure wasn’t interested in the path of finding some poke to catch and marry and workin’  myself to the big jump by havin’ babies, tendin’ animals, and helpin’ him try to fetch in a crop or tend the cattle. Some like Belle Star  , Pearl Hart, and Rose Dunn went to outlawin – but that was a dirty and dangerous route for sure; and even some like Charley Parkhurst went to just pretendin’ they was a man to survive and prosper.

I wandered into the burg saloon thinkin’ I might get some grub for doing some chores. The owner wasn’t interested in any cookin’ or cleanin’ help and kept givin’ me the eye. He said a young filly could be real comfortable and prosperous if she had the right man managin’ and protectin’ her in return for her satisfyin’ his customers. I knew the difference atwixt the painted ladies and the saloon girls. I talked him into takin’ me on as a modified saloon girl. I knew I couldn’t dance and really didn’t want those cowpokes hangin’ on me with their liquid courage breath. I convinced the owner to hire me as a saloon gal who would manage the other girls – sort of the one who would introduce the dance hall girls to them to keep them in the saloon and spendin’ actual. The establishment hostess to start. My business sense came out and I was able to show how actually havin’ more dance hall girls sellin’ drinks would drive the profits up more than addin’ painted ladies. A passed out cow poke might never know he didn’t get his turn or could easily be convinced he had plus lose some of his pay to the saloon.

I took on the job of saloon girl at $10/week plus commission. Gettin’ the cowpokes to drink was an easy task and they never realized my shots were nothin’ but bourbon scented tea. I had my own bottle – just told them it saved them from havin’ to buy my drinks so they could have more of their own. Although if push came to shove – I could and still can handle my share of firewater.

Bunco Anyone?
Bunco Anyone?

My goal was to earn enough to buy me some land and own a ranch. The weekly pay and commission was adding up a might slow. I  knew a whole lot about gamblin’ and card playin’ from my Pa. So I talked the bartender and owner of the saloon into letting me not only get the men folk to buy drinks, but to cut dirt with a Bunco game to get them in the mood for the gamblin’ and keep them in the saloon until a chair was open at one of the poker tables. I used my negotiatin’ skills and was able to reverse the tables on the owner giving the saloon 1% of the winnings and I kept the rest.

Faster than a jack rabbit I was taking in enough to buy out the saloon if I wanted, but business was daisy for the owner and he knew it. After a few months I purchased the first acres of my ranch and my first herds of cattle. A heap of the customers (whose acutal I earned) became friends of sorts. I had my pick of cowboys who needed ranch work. They knew I was fair and tough. That was the beginning  of my beginning as – Queen of the Bunco Ranch106.

Lookin’ yonder to some rustlin the creative range with the rest of the Outlaws gang.

Follow me on Twitter: @QueenRanch106

Photos from: 

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. "Queen of the Ranch." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-4149-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "A Bunco Game" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1898 - 1931. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/search/index?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=cowgirl

Charlene of the Hills


Charlene of the HillsSo, now listen up, you cowpokes … I’m more than a bit tired of this whole cowboy storytellin’ in which we girls need protectin’ by you Men of the Pen. It’s true that you men have been cause of more sufferin’ and more grievin’ than any known population on this here planet — something you never see fit to write about — but that don’t mean we women need you to come save us, either. We ain’t no damsels in distress out here, ya hear?

We girls can take care of ourselves, if you all would just get back on yer horses and get clear out of Dodge. Why, I can shoot a hat off a man at 300 paces, clean as a whistle. I can outrun a deer and wrestle a bear to the ground. I can talk three language, including “male” when need be. And I live in peace out here with the Indians around me, too. Not many men around here can say the same. Or the ones who thought that to be a fact are long gone, if ya know what I mean.

My name is Charlene. Charlene of the Hills. You might say I have a teensy bit of Robin Hood in me, if Robin Hood were really a woman, which he might have been for all we know — writers tend to put stories in a mirror and twist ’em all around and call it “truth —  and I might be our own Robin Hood if them woodsy places where Robin Hood lived outside that castle were really the Hills of this here Wild West. I’m still looking for my Big John, my right hand woman, but I aim to find Big Johanna soon enough.

Oh, I’m not alone here. Don’t get that impression. Nope. I got me a whole house full of friends, mostly women I have saved from them men who needed a lesson or two taught to them about how to treat other people in this dang world. And we got room for more. More than enough room. You need shelter, or a heavy hand, you let me know.

Yep, them sheriffs in town don’t quite understanding what someone like me is doing up here in these Hills. But I tell ya … if you come traipsing through here, you’re going to leave our Hills a little lighter once we take your money and anything else we want. And if we see a man mistreating a woman … well, let’s just say, we’ve got some Hill Justice in our bones out here. We don’t take kindly to that, partner. Not kindly at all.

There always a price to pay.

So while all them newspaper writers do their honky tonkin’ about these Men of the Wild West, know you this: Charlene of the Hills is out here, too, and she don’t take kindly to being sidelined in the stories of the West. Might come a time when we ride down from our Hills and start writing a few stories of our own. Might come a time … soon.

From the Hills and Beyond,



Wild Toady

Wild Toady ( aka Toady the Terrible, Toady Smith, Toady the Toad, Dammit Toady )

Howdy pardner, my name is Toady Conaway.

wildtoadyMy sister is the one who named me Toady. When we were little my friends heard her call me that they laughed and laughed. I tried to beat the crap out of them, but ended up bloody and beaten. They had knocked my glasses off and as I hear it, when I was cryin and swingin and screamin trying to find them and kick some butt, I looked like a wild animal. They ain’t never forgot that and to this day most folks call me Wild Toady.

My sister was married to a man named Billy Burgeron and they moved off to Texas some years ago. Last I heard they was doin well near a town with lots of cows. So many as I hear it, they named the town “Bovine.” Anyway, I don’t hear much from her.

I have had lots of adventures to tell tall tales about. I once knew the famous Hatchet Jack. I traded an old rifle to him once for some hides. It was this big ol’ bear rifle that hardly ever fired when the trigger was pulled. He never checked as far as I know and I ain’t heard anything about him in many years.

I look pretty young, but don’t let that fool ya. I am one wild fella. That’s why they call me Wild Toady.

I am lookin forward to ridin with this gang of outlaws and doin some outlaw stuff. I’m good at that kinda stuff cuz I am Wild Toady.

Lookin Fer Trouble?

Well, we are. We ain’t got 106 outlaws ridin’ with us, but if you wanna hitch yerself up with our gang of outlaws, we’ll have two. And that my friend is a hell of a start.

We are looking for vicious gif makers and some rough and tumble audio folk. We are looking fer anyone who can stand tall in the face of danger and other stuff and react with art. We will ride the western range far and wide creatin a wide swath of chaos and shenanigans.

We only got one beastly rule: Make Art Pardner, Make Art!

If you are interested in hitchin up here and doing some rabble rousin, just let that dastardly and wild @todd_conaway know. He’ll fill ya in on all the secrets and stuff.

If ya ain’t ready to ride with a wild bunch, you best be watching out fer us on the range. We’ll be the outlaw gang doing all the outlawed stuff.