Hello, Petticoats & Pistols readers! I’m so excited to be back with you today. I’m sharing a bit about an era in American history called The Gilded Age.
Many of you may already know what the Gilded Age is, but in case you don’t, it was the time period here in America occurring between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century (1865 until 1900). The term, “The Gilded Age,” came from Mark Twain’s novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. Twain’s work satirized the many social problems of the era, which society had seemed to gloss over, as if with a thin layer of gold. While Twain’s book was published in 1873, the term didn’t come into use for this time period until the 1920s.
So what were some of the common issues that marked the Gilded Age?
- Rapid economic, technological, political, and social transformation
- Huge disparity between the rich and the poor across the country
- Building and completion of the Transcontinental Railroad
- Westward Expansion
- Native Assimilation—forcing the Native American people to either assimilate into white culture or live on government-run reservations
- An increase in European immigration
- The formation of labor unions, which fought for worker’s rights, child labor laws, and eight-hour work days, among other things
- An increase in popularity of some Christian denominations
- An uptick in Christian missionary work
- Social reforms, such as temperance movements or the Women’s Suffrage movement
- An increase in women in the workforce
- An increase in leisure activities like sports
And the list could go on.
I was excited to have the opportunity to write a novella for Barbour’s recently-released Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. The theme of the collection is all about the Gilded Age. Each of the nine stories focus on the haves and the have-nots of society, although the stories aren’t all about romances between a rich person falling in love with a poor person. Sometimes the stories feature two working-class people falling in love, or two rich people finding romance together. But the theme of wealth—or the lack thereof—is prevalent in each story. And in most cases, the stories also delve into at least one, if not several, other themes of this period. Because the era was so broad—board in years, broad in location, broad in the changes that came about during this time—the stories are vastly different, offering quite the range of reading in one volume. The authors in this collection are: Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jaime Jo Wright, Erica Vetsch, Kathleen Y’Barbo—and me, Jennifer Uhlarik.
My story, Union Pacific Princess, focuses on the themes of Westward Expansion, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and Native Assimilation. After her mother’s untimely death, my heroine, Dara Forsythe, leaves Boston to join her estranged father, a bigwig with the Union Pacific Railroad. But she experiences quite the culture shock when she steps off the train into a hell-on wheels railroad camp. All around her are tents, mud, and squalor. The one bright spot in the entire tent city is the poor, but charming hero—Gage Wells.
Gage is a Georgia farmer-turned-highly-skilled Confederate sharpshooter. At the Civil War’s end, he moved west to escape the memories of the conflict, but as the railroad plows across the territory he now calls home, he sees another conflict brewing—this time between the railroad, the white settlers, and his new friends, the Cheyenne. Gage’s plans to stop the railroad—and prevent a war—become far more complicated when he meets the intriguing rich girl, Dara Forsythe, and realizes she’s the daughter of his nemesis.
So there’s a snapshot of the Gilded Age—and the Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. I hope you’ll check our stories out.
It’s your turn! Have you ever heard of The Gilded Age? Which of the various parts of the age that I listed above do you think you’d have been a part of, if you’d lived during that time—and Why? I would love to give one lucky reader an autographed print copy of Of Rags And Riches, so leave me your thoughts!
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won and finaled in numerous writing competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. She currently writes historical novellas of the American West for Barbour Publishing and works as a Content Editor for Firefly Southern Fiction. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.
Copyright Info for steam engine photo:
ID 10208093 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Copyright info for train tracks:
© Jennifer Uhlarik
Copyright info for Author headshot:
© Emilie Anne Hendryx