Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Finding Inspiration: The Life and Times of H.H. Halsell

by | April 7, 2012 | 10 comments

I enjoy reading firsthand accounts of the Wild West to get the “feel” of the time period. One of my favorite authors in this regard is H.H. Halsell.

 Texas born Harry H.Halsell was five years old when the Civil War ended. As a boy of six he and his brother O.D. Halsell were chased by Comanches, and survived but his uncle, George Halsell, a line rider for relative Dan Waggoner’s 10,000 acre ranch was killed and scalped.  Harry’s lifetime spanned from the Civil War to president Dwight D. Eisenhower for a total of 96 years.

 He lived the Wild West—and wrote about it. He wrote nine books in all, starting with Cowboys and Cattleland, a favorite, and published in 1937. In his books he writes about the life and times growing up in Texas and trying to make a living in the cattle business and the characters, some funny, many dangerous, who he encountered along the way.

According to his obituary in the New York Times, dated February 5, 1957 he had his first six shooter at the age of 7. “I realize now,” he wrote, that for three decades, from 1870 to 1900, the habit of being well armed saved my life on several occasions.”

 His brother Oscar D. Halsell was also a well-respected cattleman and made his fortune with open range cattle he kept on federal lands in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) before Oklahoma had its famous land rush. O. D. and his crew, H.H. among them, lived in a dugout while they tended the cattle. This was truly life on the range.

 H.H. remembers that up to about 1875 you could go “spring hunting” for cattle as H.H. called it, with cattlemen rounding up calves and sorting and branding the calves by whatever their mother was branded.  After the official hunt was ended, however, some cowboys would go “mavericking” as, H.H. relates: “Cattle were so cheap, and the danger of riding alone caused most of the settlers (who were not on trail driving herds to Kansas) to stay home and look after their crops, while the adventurous and thrifty few went into the river bottoms and caught and branded all the mavericks they could find. Oscar and I were small, but extra good riders, and the thrill of chasing these unbranded mavericks kept us in the woods a great deal, especially while Father was on the trail with his herds to Kansas and he was gone about four months of every year.”

 H.H. married twice. His first marriage was to a rich relative’s widow, a marriage he apparently ended at the age of 48 to court and win the heart of  a 15 year old beauty. Despite the age differences, they had six children and remained happily married until his death in 1957.  Harry was a handsome man, right out of the pages of a western novel. His daughter (author Grace Halsell) writes of her father, “It is unlikely that anyone who ever met Harry H. Halsell would forget him. His alert, confident stride and his striking personality demanded attention. In his prime, he had a strong, hard body, he was of average height with black hair, thick mustache and steel blue eyes that could flash fire. He wore handsome Nocona boots, tailor-made suits, and a fine Stetson.” Can’t you just picture him riding down the streets of a western town?

 I find firsthand accounts of the period I write about, the Wild West, inspirational as well as helpful in getting the feel of an era and H.H. Halsell is one of those writers who inspire me. Who inspires you?

Anne Carrole writes about cowboys who have grit, integrity and little romance on their mind and the women who love them. You can check out her contemporary romance, Re-ride at the Rodeo, at The Wild Rose Press. Anne also has a facebook page for lovers of western romance: www.facebook.com/loveswesternromances that she would love for you to like.



  1. Kirsten Lynn

    Great post, Anne! I will definitely have to look for H.H. Halsell’s books. I love reading first hand accounts of the Old West, and even more so I was blessed with grandmothers who passed along stories from their youth and their parents and grandparents. So, I would say my inspiration was close to home. :o)

    • Anne Carrole

      How fabulous, Kirsten, to have grandparents to pass down those stories. I remember author Kathleen Y’Barbo telling a story about her great-great-great-grandmother who built a profitable steamboat stop on the Brazos River after her husband was struck by lightning while on horseback leaving her a penniless widow with two children. Our family history can be full of such interesting and inspiring tales. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Ally Broadfield

    What an intersting man. Firsthand accounts are always the best. Wish I could find more from my time period, but I’d have to translate them from Russian and that would take way too long with my limited language skills. Now I know why books set in English speaking countries are more popular!

    • Anne Carrole

      Translating from Russian! That would be a challenge. Too bad there isn’t an internet program to do it for you–lol. Thanks for stopping by Ally.

  3. Carole St-Laurent

    Nice post. I love to hear about any history period though letters from the era. It’s enlightening.

    • Anne Carrole

      I agree Carole. I often wonder how people will learn about our times–from internet postings?–lol.

  4. Ella Quinn

    What a wonderful post. I love reading about history through firsthand accounts.

    • Anne Carrole

      Me too Ella, It really brings history alive for me as well. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Anna Kathryn Lanier

    Great post. Thanks for sharing, as I had not heard of this author before.

    • Anne Carrole

      Thanks so much for stopping in Anna. I’m happy I could turn a Texas girl onto an old Texas cowboy author. I know you’ll enjoy him.



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