WRITING THE OLD WEST: IT’S IN THE LOCAL PAPERS by Kathleen Y’Barbo

I love historical research almost as much as I love writing historical romance—some days, depending on how the writing is going, I love research even more! One of my favorite ways to get acquainted with my setting is by finding old newspapers writing during that time and, if possible, in that location.

By the mid-1800s, nearly every Western town of any size had at least one newspaper that kept a printing press busy. Many had more than one, and press wars—while they seem to be current—really do originate way back when. In their quest to be the best, as they do now, reporters were always looking for a blockbuster story. Sometimes they made it up, but newspapermen—and newspaperwomen—who cared about their craft would go to great lengths to get the story. In a time when photographs were not so easily available, words had to do the job of showing the reader the story.

When I created the character of Madeline Latour, my intrepid reporter for the New Orleans Picayune who goes west to get her story in my novel My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas (Barbour Books, July 2018), I knew she would have to be the type of person whose editor would trust to bring in the big story. She had to have a spirit of adventure to go along with her desire to bring the truth to her readers. Since Galveston, Texas is a real location, Madeline also had to exist within the framework of what was actually happening in Galveston—and in Texas–in the spring of 1880.

And that is where the real fun began. I went to the archives of the Galveston Daily News and read everything I could get my hand—or rather eyes—on. My favorite part of putting real life into historical fiction was to read the social column and the advertisements.

  I found a mention of a party that happened in the same week my characters arrived in Texas, so of course Madeline and Jonah attended. As well as this mention in the society column, a story chronicling the benefits of Dr. C. McLane’s Liver Pills and an advertisement for the Hazard Powder Company Blasting and Mining Powder actually appeared in the March 26, 1880 edition on the third page. Obviously there was no gossip about my fictional characters in that episode, although there were other interesting articles and advertisements. These included one for Jenkins’s Annihilator cure for rheumatism, gout and neuralgia, and another assuring readers that a cure for opium addiction could be found by purchasing morphine from the doctor who placed the ad. The name of the doctor in the opium cure ad is too blurry to read, which is probably just as well.

So the next time you’re curious about an area or an era, an incident or a person of historical significance in the Old West, check out the local papers. Imagine what your Old West character could do with some blasting and mining powder or a vial or two of morphine. Not only can you find out where he or she could have purchased it, but you can probably find an article or two detailing what happened afterward.

I will be giving away one copy of MY HEART BELONGS IN GALVESTON, TEXAS to one commenter from the UNITED STATES.

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 BIO: Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than ninety books with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. She is a member of ACFW, Novelists Inc., and the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division.

 Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for her historical romantic suspense Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas.  Recent releases include 2018 CBA Bestseller The Pirate Bride and the newly released My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.

 To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at http://www.kathleenybarbo.com.

 

 

 

Guest Blogger

35 Comments

  1. Newspapers have such a fascinating history in each town! This book looks so good and I have actually visited Galveston, so that always makes the setting more fun!

  2. I love how you went and researched true accounts and then included it in your story. What a cool thing to do. I hope you have a great weekend and thanks for visiting!

  3. I loved researching when I had to do papers. Often I went to old newspapers. They are a treasure trove.

  4. How interesting that you use real events in your book.

  5. Thank you for sharing your interesting post. I always enjoy visiting Galveston and would love to read your book.

  6. Hi Kathleen, you’re a new Author for me so I’m happy to have met you here. The book sounds wonderful.I will be reading it for sure. Thank you for the giveaway chance .

  7. Hi Kathleen. I have enjoyed some of the other books in the My Heart Belongs series and I look forward to to reading your contribution.
    Blessings!
    Connie

  8. I enjoyed your post I love research also. Your book sound really good and would love to read it.

  9. Thanks for sharing about your research today. I love Galveston. There is so much history there. But I also love the atmosphere, the fresh seafood and the sense of belonging somewhere. I would love to live there if it weren’t for the hurricanes (which I fear). I was hoping to get back this year but my husband just started a new job and no vacation again for us this year. I’ll be putting your book on my “must read” list.

  10. A fascinating post which interests me greatly. History and the background gives me great enjoyment and learning about a new setting.

  11. This novel sounds captivating and memorable. Loved your interesting information.

  12. Impressive and wonderful book which I would treasure. The history aspect is special as well as the story which is unforgettable.

  13. Morphine to cure opium addiction . . . somehow, I do not think morphine does what that doctor thinks it does. Fun information! Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Enjoyed this blog! Would love to read your book!

  15. I love history and would love to read old newspapers from my area. Maybe sometime in the future I will be able to do that. I have really enjoyed reading your previous books and look forward to this one as well.

  16. I love stories about the Old West, and especially when an author takes the research seriously. Once you find that author then reading their books is a double treat: a good story plus a bit of a history lesson. Thanks for the giveaway.

  17. Love the cover

  18. Because it was the only form of communication in most areas of the west back then.

  19. I have read some of the other books in the My Heart Belongs series and I am looking forward to to reading MY HEART BELONGS IN GALVESTON, TEXAS.Thank you for the opportunity to win.Have a wonderful weekend.

  20. Hi Kathleen, welcome to P&P! We’re delighted to have you. Old newspapers are so fascinating and I love reading the various articles because they furnish a shapshot of what life was like back then and what people found important enough to make the news. You can learn a lot from those old newspaper articles.

    I love the cover of your new book! Very pretty. The colors are so soft and I love the woman.

  21. I love research too, both in my former publishing career and as a genealogist. I found the kinds of things you mentioned in the Eufaula Indian Journal (later to be Okla.): local tidbits about who visited who, who went to town for supplies, local arguments, who was preaching on Sunday, and so on. I even found the obits for both of my great-grandparents as well as multiple posts about cousins, aunts and uncles.

    Good luck with your book. The cover is just beautiful.

  22. You guys are amazing! I’m loving all your comments and am thrilled to be here today!

  23. I used to live in Houston, so Galveston was a nice and close get away. I would love to read this one of yours to see how Galveston was back in the day.

  24. I went to a garage sale one time in CO, and found this large soft-covered book that held copies of old newspaper articles of the mining days. It’s fascinating and so fun to read through.
    I can’t wait to read your latest book. LOVE Galveston.

    1. That book sounds amazing!!

  25. How fun. I had never thought about authors reading old newspapers to help with their research and inspiration. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of this book.

  26. Truth is stranger than fiction. What a way to validate the historical content and background for your stories.

  27. Kathleen, thank you for this fascinating post! I grew up not far from Galveston.

    1. Really? Where? I’m from Port Neches.

  28. I love historical fiction because of writers like you who do the research. I have learned so much about our pioneer days. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your new book.

  29. I love reading Historical Romance for not only the romance but for the history I have learned more Historical facts than I ever did in school from reading Historical Romance with Western Historical being my favorite and really love to read books by authors that put the characters in settings of actual Historical events. Would love to read this book by you for you are a new to me author. Have a Blessed day

  30. Kathleen, Thanks for your blog. Newspapers are a awesome way to keep up with the latest news & old history. I still enjoy holding the paper in my hands, not reading it on my phone or computer.
    Historical Romance is my favorite romance reading. Looking forward to your book. Will put it on my TBR list. Thanks, for the chance to win a copy. Welcome to P&P with all the fillies.

  31. old papers are fascinating

  32. Once again, thank you for having me here on the Petticoats and Pistols blog! I’ve sent an email to the winner.

  33. Galveston is only fours hours away from me. I have been taught more history by historical western romance authors than I ever was in a history class. I have never read one of your books and would love the opportunity. I’m a virtual newbie to reading after not reading for decades. I started reading again in November 2016 and I’m now on my 149th book. Loved your blog!

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