Enjoy a bundle of Circle C characters that feature ranch settings. Circle C Adventures characters are listed first, then Milestones, then Stepping Stones, the younger readers’ series.
Circle C Adventures Ranching Characters
Felicity Livingston is someone I would prefer to forget for as long as I live. (Long Ride Home) She was sixteen years old when I first had the misfortune of meeting her. She is very pretty, with fine, light-brown hair and hazel eyes. But her prettiness is crossed out by all of her ugly faces. And she has dozens of them. The spoiled face, the angry face, the hysterical face . . . need I go on? She is one of the meanest young ladies I have ever met. She looks down on folks (like Rosa and her family) because of their skin color and because they are poor migrants. She didn’t like me at all because she thought I was one of the Garduños. Even when she learned differently, she refused to believe I was anything but a servant. Nobody but nobody (well, but me) stands up to Felicity. I hope I never run into her again! (Unless, of course, her father gets her under control).
Update. Well, it happened. I ran into Felicity again a few years later. Shocked me to my toes! (“Unexpected Visitor,” Yosemite at Last: And Other Tales from Memory Creek Ranch)
Randall Livingston is Felicity’s father. He owns the prosperous Lazy L ranch near Livingston Flats. Do you think it is a coincidence that the town and the Livingstons have the same name? Nope. Mr. Livingston started the town and has a lot of influence in it. Basically, he runs the town, and nobody better cross him. He is very important in his town and county. Randall Livingston is a big man, with bushy black eyebrows that creep across his forehead like an ogre. He knows my family, but even that didn’t convince him to give me Taffy and send me home where I belonged. Nope, he was too concerned about his (wretched) daughter’s fragile emotions. However, I think he got shocked about some of the things Felicity did and has begun to look at her in a different way. I hope so.
Meanwhile, Back at the Circle C Ranch
Sid McCoy is the Circle C ranch foreman. He has worked for the ranch for so many years that even Chad’s memory is fuzzy trying to remember when Sid first arrived. “It was always Father and Sid,” Chad says when I pester him for details. He laughs. “And they both could tan our hides equally well.” Sid showed up with his three-year-old daughter one spring. His wife had died a few months before and Sid was desperate to find a job. He didn’t want a usual cowboy job. He needed a permanent home, where he could raise little Ellen. He found Jim Carter and his growing family to be the ideal setting, and apparently Father found Sid to be the perfect foreman.
Years later, Sid was invaluable when Father was killed. Chad was barely 20 years old, Mitch just a kid at 15, so Chad depended on Sid to help him keep the ranch running. Nobody knows how old Sid is, but he’s always been grateful for his Circle C “family.” When Riley’s mother was sick and his father was on the move with the US army, Sid took charge of his nephew until the family could be reunited. His daughter Ellen went to finishing school back East and is now married with a family of her own, but old Sid refuses to move. What would the Cart family do without him?
Diego Cortez is a valuable Circle C ranch hand. He is one of the top hands on the ranch and steps in to help Sid McCoy, the foreman, run things from time to time. Diego can be seen in the gardens or grooming the horses or giving the blacksmith a hand. He is a friendly Mexican man. He is always willing to give Andi a hand, like brushing Taffy or making sure the horse is fed. He is an excellent vaquero (cowboy) and remembers the days when the Spanish rancheros ruled California. He has been helpful teaching the Circle C hands the finer details of rodeos and roundups. He is Sid McCoy’s (one of the foremen) right-hand man.
Luisa Cortez, Diego’s wife, has been the Circle C housekeeper since before Andi can remember. She is a fiery little Mexican woman, who scolds Andi when she sees her sliding down the banister railing. Andi has grown up speaking Spanish as easily as she speaks English, and this is due mostly because Luisa only speaks Spanish around Andi. Both Diego and Luisa are getting up there in years. They have four children, who are very similar in ages to Justin, Chad, and Mitch. The Carter children played with the Cortez children when they were growing up, which is why all the Carters speak flawless Spanish. The Cortez children now live in Monterey, San Jose, and San Francisco.
Senator James Farley was a true-life United States senator. As you have probably figured out, the Carters are a wealthy family and important in the state of California. Entertaining a senator from the nation’s capital is not that unusual, especially in the 1880s. Jim Farley was elected to represent California in the U.S. senate in 1878 and served until 1885. The Carters probably knew him well from when he served in the California state assembly before going on to serve in the U.S. senate. He was married and had three children. In Long Ride Home, one of his daughter’s was Sophia (a fictitious name). He died in 1886.
Rodrigo Rojas is the foreman in charge of the fruit harvest on the Circle C. Chad employs a number of foreman, who work under Sid McCoy, the all-around head foreman and is the one in charge of the livestock. Another foreman is in charge of the hay harvest, another oversees the vineyards, etc. The Circle C is a huge operation with interests that extend to all parts of the state and farther.
Rodrigo makes sure that the fruit is harvested on time. He hires the day laborers (fruit pickers are not full-time Circle C employees) and checks to assure himself (and his boss, Chad) that the men and women are well taken care of and are doing a good job (not damaging the fruit). He is understandably upset when he discovers Andi working in the orchards. When he first notices the girls at work, assumes Chad hired a few laborers on his own, but his mistake is soon thrown in his face. He is livid. He is worried about Andi working around some of the rougher, younger laborers, men he wishes he didn’t have to hire. But there is a shortage and he keeps his eye on the single men.
Rodrigo is married and has three little boys. One of the boys runs errands for his papá and is seen at the end of chapter 1 making a beeline on his horse for Señor Chad. Rodrigo and his family, like Diego and Luisa, live in their own cabin on the ranch.
Manuel Ortega “Cook” has been our ranch cook for over 25 years on the Circle C. He has a gruff exterior but he’s soft as jelly on the inside. He speaks Spanish by preference, and between Cook, Luisa, and Diego (plus other Mexican vaqueros and their children), I was immersed in the language from an early age. I speak Spanish as flawlessly as any Mexican. Cook has a sister who lives in Bakersfield, from whom Cook borrowed Rico, his sister’s grandson, when the trail drive to Los Angeles grew short-handed (Heartbreak Trail). Cook also has family in Los Angeles.
Cook knows pretty much everything that has to do with ranching, including trail drives, of which he has been an integral part. I don’t mess around with trying to wheedle Cook. I know my limits, and he means business when he says “Basta ya!” (“That’s enough!) He has no trouble bossing me around, and I always jump when he speaks. Riley had the misfortune to work under Cook when he was a young boy while staying on the Circle C.
Rico Gomez is Cook’s great-nephew. He is pressed into service after Chad is shot and hauled into Bakersfield to see the doctor. (Heartbreak Trail) Cook brings him back. Rico is a wiry little boy, small for his age of 10, but manages to do as much work as Levi and I combined. I hardly ever saw him sleep. He was always hauling wood or washing pots and pans. Rico doesn’t speak any English, but he chatters in Spanish all the time. His “Tio Manuel” doesn’t ever appear to be listening, but he always knows what Rico is saying. Hmmm, which means he always knows what I am saying, even when I don’t think Cook is listening. Scary thought.
Circle C ranch hands are a loyal bunch and watch out for the ranch “ladies” like Mother, Melinda, and me. The newest (and youngest) ranch hand is Flint, age 17. He’s green as they come (even I can lasso better than he can), but he’s got grit (so Chad and Sidi say).
During the cattle drive, only about six of the permanent Circle C hands go along. Chad and Mitch couldn’t afford to take the entire complement of ranch hands. Somebody has to stay home and mind the ranch work (Justin sure isn’t going to). The hands that go along on the cattle drive to Los Angeles are Wyatt, Diego, Cook, Flint, and Joselito.
Temporary trail hands come along to fill the gap (Heartbreak Trail). A big drive needs a lot of men to ride herd on the cattle. Temporary hands are hired for the one drive only, and then they are paid and sent on their way.
Hiring temporary trail hands is sometimes risky, since you don’t know them like you know the regular Circle C hands. They can also sometimes prove not to be as loyal. The temporary hands on this cattle drive are Bryce, Toledo, Huey, Kirby, Tripp, and Seth.
Toledo McGuire is about as cocky as they come. Hired as a temporary trailhand for the upcoming cattle drive, Mitch considers him a “loose cannon,” which means he is unpredictable as to how he will respond in any given situation. He might take the lead and help things go smoothly, or he might argue or think he has a better way. I’m not sure why Mitch hired Toledo, but it might be because the young hand has incredible skills. He is only nineteen but appears and acts much older than his young years would suggest. (Heartbreak Trail)
His horse Sultan caught my eye right from the beginning. And I’m not too proud to admit that Toledo caught my interest too. Sometimes, though, I’m dumber than I look. I should have learned my lesson from the whole TJ/Troy disaster a few years before. I got charmed and then fell pretty hard when I figured it out. I figured Toledo out a whole lot quicker than I did Troy, but it didn’t do me much good. He still insulted me greatly. To this day, I burn inside thinking about it. Worse, Toledo insulted the entire outfit by stealing about 100 steers, but he did eventually get caught (along with his partners) and as far as I know, they are spending their years in prison.