Category: Places

Kit Morgan: The Gold Rush Town of Leadville

Hi there! Kit Morgan here! It’s so nice to be invited to write for the Petticoats and Pistols Blog. Thanks so much for having me.

Today I want to tell you about a fun project I’m involved in. I love creating entire communities, so when western historical romance author Caroline Lee asked me to help spearhead a multi-author project with her, I was in!

Multi-author projects are difficult at best, especially when creating an entire town, its inhabitants, and the type of town it’s to be. In this case, we had to create a boomtown on a downward slide. A place where the gold was petering out and the miners were leaving in droves. To make things a little easier and have a guide (because lets face it, none of us were around back then) we found a town located near our fictional setting that went through all the same things our town was going to be experiencing. Leadville, Colorado. So we started digging and discovered all sorts of things! (Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.)

The basic story line for our town, which we named Noelle, follows a group of businessmen with a problem on their hands. Now that the gold is petering out, they’re trying to figure out a way to stay, make the town a real town, and not have to lose everything they’ve built up. The answer? Get the railroad to create a spur to Noelle. To do that they need to either find more gold or get folks to settle fast so the railroad will take notice. They go for both. Twelve mail-order brides are on their way while, at the same time, what miners are left work double time to find more gold. The railroad does take notice, but gives the town a deadline to achieve this feat. If Noelle doesn’t meet the required deadline, no spur will be built. And that’s when the fun begins.

But much the same thing happened in Leadville back in the day, sans a mail-order bride scheme to save the town. The town may have run out of gold, but other things saved the day. I’m not telling you what otherwise the surprise will be spoiled should you read the books. Still, towns lived and died quickly in the old west, and Leadville was no exception. This is why it made such a wonderful model for our story line.

By 1880, just three years after Leadville was founded, it was one of the world’s largest and richest silver camps, with a population of over 15,000. Income from more than thirty mines and ten large smelting works producing gold, silver and lead amounted to $15,000,000 annually.

Noelle isn’t quite so prosperous. But we sure are having fun with it! Myself, I’ve written two books that take place in Noelle. The Partridge: The First Day, 12 Day’s of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, and just released, Ophelia A Valentine’s Day Bride.

Our town is still growing and trying to become respectable. Though we don’t expect it to reach to 15,000 people in its first few years, it is growing. Slow but sure, one happy romance at a time.

 

  

 

Have you ever been to a gold rush town? What attracted you? I’m giving away one digital copy of the books above — one to two different winners. Leave a comment to enter.

Happy Birthday, Oregon

 


Today is a special day for a variety of reasons.

It’s Wednesday, which is always a nice day to mark the half-way point through the work week.  It also happens to be Ash Wednesday.

The big event today that most people are celebrating, though, is Valentine’s Day.

A day full of romance and roses, candy hearts and sweethearts.

And of all the quotes about Valentine’s Day, my favorite is this:

“I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.

When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind

is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.”

-Author Unknown

Today also happens to be my home state’s birthday.

On February 14, 1859, Oregon was officially admitted to the union as a state.

Oregon’s story started with Spanish and French exploration in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the early 1800s, Oregon was mapped by the Lewis and Clark expedition in their search for the Northwest Passage, opening a route for further exploration.

Merchants, traders and trappers were among the first people to forge a path across the Continental Divide on their way to Oregon territory. Missionaries are credited, through, with blazing the Oregon Trail. The first missionary group made their way west in the early 1830s.

Between 1840 and 1860, thousands of pioneers made the grueling overland trek of more than 2,000 miles. The U.S. began joint settlement of the area with the United Kingdom. In 1846, the border between U.S. and British territory was formally established at the 49th parallel. The part of the territory that was given to Britain would ultimately become part of Canada.

More than 50,000 people called Oregon home by 1857. Only white men were allowed to vote and they petitioned for statehood. The U.S. Senate began to consider Oregon statehood in May 1858 amid a split of the Democratic Party over slavery and ongoing controversy over admitting Kansas to the union. Oregon’s bid added complications to the ongoing debate. Southerners, such as Senator Jefferson Davis, opposed the admission of any more northern states, concerned about keeping a political balance. Others looked at specific issues such as the valid question of whether Oregon had a large enough population to qualify for statehood.

The final vote on the Oregon admission bill in the U.S. House of Representatives was delayed until February 1859, after languishing in the committee on territories for over six months.  When votes were tallied on Feb. 12, they showed a narrow 114 to 103 victory for statehood. Two days later the president signed the bill and Oregon officially became the 33rd state in the union.

Here are some State of Oregon facts:

Date of Statehood: February 14, 1859

Capital: Salem

Population: 4,093,000 (2016 census)

Size: 98,379 square miles

Nickname: Beaver State

Motto: She Flies With Her Own Wings

Tree: Douglas Fir

Flower: Oregon Grape

Fruit: Pear

Bird: Western Meadowlark

Some other fun details about the state include the fact there is no state sales tax. Oregon is the 10th largest state in the union (land wise) and is bordered by Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and the Pacific Ocean.

Oregon’s Nature

The state of Oregon offers great diversity in the landscapes. From the rugged coast and lush green forests on the west side of the state to the high desert and rolling hills of wheat on the east, Oregon offers an example of nearly every geographic terrain on the planet within its borders.

*Oregon is home to Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States.

*You’ll also find Hells Canyon in the northeast corner of the state, the deepest river-carved gorge in North America.  At 7,913 feet, it’s deeper than the Grand Canyon.

*The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the richest fossil sites in the world.

*The largest concentration of wintering bald eagles can be found in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

*The highest elevation point is Mt. Hood at 11,239 feet.

*There are more than 6,000 lakes and 112,000 miles of rivers and streams.

*Nearly half of Oregon’s total land area is forested – close to 30 million acres.

 

History and Heritage

Although Oregon’s history may seem relatively new compared to other parts of the country, it has 14 National Historic Districts and four National Historic Trails, including the Oregon Trail (with ruts still visible in some areas).

*The first scenic highway in the U.S. (and also a historical landmark) is the Historic Columbia River Highway.

*Nine historic lighthouses and one light ship dot the Oregon Coast.

*Oregon is home to 10 Native American Tribes.

*Oregon boasts dozens of historical museums and a few interpretive centers including the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City.

Other Oregon Tidbits

*Although many get it wrong, Oregon is pronounced OR-UH-GUN or OR-GUN, but never, ever OR-EE-GONE.

*Oregon grows 99 percent of the entire U.S. commercial hazelnut crop. (Nutella, anyone?)

*More than 750 vinyards in Oregon product in excess of 70 different varietals of wine grapes.

*Tater tots were invented by two Oregon brothers, Nephi and Golden Grigg, founds of Ore-Ida.

*The Goonies was filmed mostly in Astoria with scenic cameo shots taken in other Oregon coastal towns. You can visit the official Goonies museum in Astoria to get more detail on the movie.

Now that your head is full of Oregon lore, how about we fill your heart with a little sweet Oregon-based romance?

Today, you can download this novella set in the fictional town of Holiday, Oregon, for FREE!

Valentine Bride

Fynlee Dale returns to Holiday to take care of her wacky grandmother. Although it means giving up her dreams of a career and husband, she needs to be there for Grams.

Carson Ford vows to take care of his elderly aunt after buying her ranch. Comfortable with all aspects of his life, his world turns upside down when he meets a woman who’s impossible to forget.

They find themselves in the midst of a plot by two scheming old women determined to make them fall in love.

Valentine Bride is a funny, sweet romance given a liberal dose of humor through a cast of colorful characters intertwined around a heartwarming love story.

Available on Amazon

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Christmas Roses

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  I hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving. Mine was lovely – I feel truly blessed.
As for today’s post, I’m going to break from my usual western-themed subject matter to tell you about another project I’m part of.

Shreveport, Louisiana is home to the national headquarters of the American Rose Society.  The Gardens of the American Rose Center are located on a 118-acre tract of wooded land and is the nation’s largest park dedicated to roses. The park features in excess of 65 individual rose gardens and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 rosebushes. In addition the park is also filled with other plants, fountains and sculptures. And every year during the month of December, they transform the place into a winter wonderland known as Christmas in Roseland. It’s a magical place filled with lights, festive displays, entertainment, photos with Santa Claus and lots more.

As it happens, the Shreveport area is also where my local chapter of Romance Writers of America©, the NOLA STARs, is based. Last spring we decided to undertake a project where a number of our members would pen original short stories for an anthology and we wanted to feature the American Rose Society as part of the project. So nine of our members set out to write these stories with the only restrictions given is that each story be set during the Christmas Season and that there be some mention of the Rose Center as part of it. The result is a collection titled American Roses. Though the stories all contain those same two elements we started with, they are all as different as the authors who penned them. And I deviated from my normal setting to create a contemporary story. My contribution is titled A Crossword Puzzle Christmas and is a play on the ‘friends to lovers’ trope.  I had such fun writing it!

One of the neat things about this collection is that all of the authors have donated their stories – none will be collecting royalties. Instead, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Rose Society and the remainder will go back to our chapter.

And now, as a reward to you for reading through all of this, I’m going to give away a copy of the collection to one of the visitors who leaves a comment on this post between now and Tuesday afternoon. Just tell me your favorite rose-related memory or what variety/color of rose is your favorite and why.

CHRISTMAS ROSES

Come visit a place where love blooms and holiday magic fills the air…

Set against the background of the Gardens of the American Rose Center, these stories of hope and holiday cheer are sure to warm your heart and put you in a festive mood.

There’s no better gift than finding love among the roses. In this collection, you’ll find second chances at love, couples who find more than friendship under the mistletoe, and holiday reunions that bring the joy of the season. So grab a cup of hot cocoa and curl up with Christmas Roses.

Amazon Button

 

Updated: December 1, 2017 — 1:27 am

Weaving with Words, Riding with Spurs…

Weaving creates an image, doesn’t it? No matter how you apply the word, we envision yarn or threads being moved in lock-stitch by hand or machine. We see the flash of success as the weft threads pass through the warp threads, and a foot treadle bounces the threads up and down in clockwork precision.

That’s kind of what it’s like when we write a story.

Umm… NOT THE PRECISION PART!!!!

I’m a pantser, a writer who begins with the idea of how I see the story and characters and then I create… and I add and subtract as I go. Not all writers work like this, some like notes, charts, timelines, etc… I do better by avoiding all that as completely as I can.  But what all authors have in common is the weaving of the word… and when I’m writing a Western (like my upcoming Shepherd’s Crossing series with Love Inspired or my Double S Ranch series with Waterbrook) I weave with a different set of threads. Some are coarser. Some are thicker. Some are rugged because carving a living off the land requires not only skill but fortitude. And I love folks with fortitude! (I just listened to the full recording of Peace in the Valley this weekend… Barbara McCullch did a great job with this Western and the character voices!)

I want my Westerns to sound authentic. Not contrived. Not over-done. If a rancher is educated, I want them to sound that way with a distinct twang as needed. 🙂 There’s nothing like an Ivy League educated cowboy (Colt Stafford “Back in the Saddle”) that comes across when he faces the heroine and does nothing more that touch the tip of his index finger to the brim of his hat.

No words needed.

🙂

He said it all with one gesture, a gesture he wouldn’t have used in Lower Manhattan but one that is quite effective in Central Washington. Colt’s a coming home character, a man returning to his roots out of necessity, a man surprised to find he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be… at last.

Mary Connealy taught me years ago that cowboys aren’t generally the talkative type. She’s right.

Like so many hard-working men, they grunt a lot, and then they’re surprised when those around them are at a loss to read their feelings. And then you go and read a Paul Harvey poem “So God Made a Farmer” and you realize you need to go beyond words, to actions.

There’s a book that talks about love languages, and it’s so stinkin’ true in many ways… not all people speak in poetic license.

A lot of men have to choke out “I’m sorry” or “I love you”… the dolts! 🙂

But sometimes those same men will go the distance to make sure the wagon seat is smooth enough to not snag a pretty dress…

Or extra warm potatoes to keep a historical heroine’s feet from taking a chill…

Or run to school to pick up a sick child of a single mother so she doesn’t lose her job at the diner…

Or dig the grave for his daddy’s old Golden Lab, gone home to heaven. I love that scene in “Saint Maybe” and used a similar scene in one of my first books “Waiting Out the Storm”… because acts of sacrifice transcend genre and touch a reader’s heart and soul.

There are so many ways to show emotion as we write. Some require few words. Some require a pause in the action. A long moment. Unshed tears. Or gut-wrenching sobs…

While others show the frontier or pure country joy… a single flower, tucked in a Mason jar on the heroine’s table. A pair of pumpkins, set on a porch with a tuft of corn by their side. A walk with a calf, or a foal, or to bottle feed lambs…

Love on the ranch or the farm or in the country isn’t always shown the same way as on the coasts. Fancy meals and pricey nights out are usually not the norm. And while those are good in their place, there’s something more soul stirring about a pot of stew and fresh bread. A homemade pie. A pretty scarf that the hero buys because it matches the heroine’s eyes…

When I’m writing Westerns, I make sure my mindset is on animals and kids first, because honestly, when dealing with a farm or ranch and animals, they have to come first. They can’t fend for themselves… That simple admission leads the reader into the heart of the rancher, the devotion of the hero and/or heroine. The words I choose to set the scene or ride the wave of emotions have to ring true to the reader, no matter where he or she lives… or what they do for a living.

Word weaving… it’s what makes an authors voice distinctive, and what makes a story memorable or forgettable. Those words create and follow the rise and fall of emotion and that roller coaster ride should be as real as we can make it… so the reader gets the full price of their ticket!

Do you have favorite book scenes that have stuck with you over years? I’d love to hear about them… comment today because I have a beautiful copy of my newest Love Inspired book “The Lawman’s Yuletide Baby” as a giveaway… and I think you’ll love this beautiful story of healing and hope and sacrificial love.

Of course the fact that it’s my 20th LOVE INSPIRED STORY is a wonderful milestone!!! 🙂 I brought coffee and hot chocolate because things are cooling down here in Western New York… and some homemade double chocolate chip cookies, because while Pumpkin Spice everything is fun… nothing beats double chocolate chip. And it don’t pay to argue with me, because I’m armed… and dangerous, my friends!

Cookies for everyone!

 

 

Updated: October 29, 2017 — 7:52 pm

Past, Present and Future

They say time flies when you’re having fun. That must be why it seemed unbelievable that last Thursday I celebrated the 10th anniversary of when I got the call from Harlequin that I’d sold my first books to them. While the first couple of books that published with Harlequin American Romance weren’t westerns, the third, Elly: Cowgirl Bride, was as part of the six-book, six-author continuity series called The Codys: The First Family of Rodeo. This series was set in northern Wyoming, a beautiful area east of Yellowstone National Park that I visited a number of years ago while on a trip out West to visit my sister.

Soon thereafter I wrote the first book set in my fictional Hill Country town of Blue Falls, Texas. At the time, I thought The Cowboy’s Secret Son was just the first of a planned trilogy about three ranching brothers that was tagged with the name The Teagues of Texas. I had no idea that I would continue to write Blue Falls stories for years and that the series would, after that initial trilogy, have a its own series name named after the town. Thus far, there have been 15 full-length novels, one e-novella and one Harlequin online read set in Blue Falls, Texas. Two more are in the pipeline. In fact, I just finished writing the first draft of the last contracted book last night (Sunday).

Yellowstone River flowing through the Paradise Valley.

As you might have heard, Harlequin is closing the Western line next June. That put me and a number of other authors at a crossroads, trying to decide what step was next in our careers. I’m happy to report that I recently signed a contract for three western romances with Tule Publishing. I’ll be able to return to the Yellowstone area again, this time to the beautiful Paradise Valley north of the park in Montana. This area sits between the Gallatin and Absaroka Mountains, and the Yellowstone River runs through the middle of the valley. This stretch of Big Sky Country is home to ranches, fly-fishing outfitters, hot springs resorts and trophy homes. Such visually stunning films as A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer had scenes filmed here. I’m going to be writing about three brothers once again. This time their family not only has a large ranch but also a hot springs resort. I’m excited to dive into writing the first story soon, creating a new cast of characters and a new small town for readers to love.

Updated: October 29, 2017 — 8:07 pm

Welcome Lena Nelson Dooley

It’s with a great deal of pleasure that we welcome back to the Junction, our week-end guest blogger. Lena Nelson Dooley, who will share with you the story behind the story and her research for A Heart’s Gift!

Love the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. My first trip to Colorado was in October of 2004, and that’s when I fell in love. I taught a retreat at Silverthorne in Summit County, not far from the Continental Divide. I was mesmerized by the beautiful mountains. The weather turned really cold, and a light snowfall dusted the higher slopes that I could see from the windows of the house where the retreat was held.

If the person I was talking to was between me and the wall of windows, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on that person. The mountains kept pulling my attention away. Breathtaking isn’t a strong enough word for what I saw when my eyes wandered. I decided that I wanted to set a book in Summit County. While I was in Summit County the first time, I bought a book about the history of the area.

A Heart’s Gift came out in December of 2016. When I write, I work hard to make the book authentic to the time period, which was 1893. Silverthorne wasn’t even a town at that time, but lots of both silver and gold mines were located in Summit County. Some small and owned by individual miners. Some had been bought by mining companies and were large enterprises. In addition to the book I bought when I was there, I also looked on Amazon for any historical books. There are at least two series of books that contain not only information, but also actual photographs taken in different time periods.

A treasure trove of details is available online and in books. I used a lot of them to recreate the area in 1893. I bought the Images of America book of photos in Summit County. These included photos of Breckenridge, which was a thriving town with mines and cattle ranches close by. I learned a lot about the area, and I was able to actually visualize the town and surrounding area.

Of course, the characters in my novel and the ranch are completely fictitious. Here are a few of the things that are authentic:

  • Capital Bank of Denver
  • Details about a cattle drive
  • Shipping cattle by rail to Swift slaughter house in Chicago
  • The baby furniture, the high chair and the cradle (I found these in a historical Sears catalogue I already had)
  • The Ladies’ Book Club in Breckenridge
  • The Arlington Hotel (but I fictionalized the owner and the special suite for mine owners)
  • The Breckenridge Bakery on Lincoln Street that actually did make cream puffs at that time
  • Vaudeville show – The Face on the Barroom Floor
  • Stamp mills, throbbing beat
  • Ladies spent a lot of money on hats

As a reader, I love when there are authentic details in books. I think most other readers do, too. That’s why I do so much research. I want readers like you to get a real picture of the history of the time when my books take place. I’ve written a lot of western historical novels.

I’d love for us to chat some, so I’m going to ask you some questions to get us started.

Do you as a reader like to know that the historical details are authentic? 

What time period do you prefer reading about? 

Who is your favorite western author?

A Heart’s Gift received the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Award for long historicals. I will be giving away one Kindle copy of the book. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a Free copy of Kindle for Apple (computers), Kindle for PC, Kindle for tablets, or Kindle for Android phones where you can read the book.

 

Buy links:

Print – http://ow.ly/X7HK30fC0IV

Kindle – http://ow.ly/Qyth30fC0Ym

 

WELCOME FALL! by Cheryl Pierson

Hi everyone! Fall is here, and you know that old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words?” It’s so true! Today, I wanted to share some pictures of my second home, the state of West Virginia. These were taken by professional photographer Rick Burgess who also happens to be a good friend. Rick is so talented, and he has many prints, 2018 calendars, t-shirts, and even a book that features his wonderful photography that are all available to order! This is a just a very small sample of Rick’s work, but I know once you’ve seen these gorgeous pictures you’ll want to see more!

Do these pictures evoke a fall memory? I don’t know why, but when I think of fall, I think of realizing “fall is in the air” on one of my walks to my piano teacher’s house one afternoon after school. Odd, isn’t it? I was about 10 or so, but I will never forget how that day smelled as I walked–crisp, clean, and well–like fall! What’s a favorite fall memory of yours? I hope these pictures will stir the memories of beautiful fall days in your mind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gnarled tree at Plum Orchard Lake.  The Lord has a beautiful palette of colors in His work–more than we could ever imagine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mist at the end of a West Virginia road…wonder what’s down there around the bend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Rick Burgess shot of the New River Gorge. There is a bridge that goes over this, and once you’re at the place where you can get out and look down, you are so high you’re level with the hawks that make their home there–they call it “Hawk’s Nest”–and it’s one of the most breathtaking places on earth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my personal favorites, these trees at sunrise with the mountains behind them. I love these colors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A West Virginia rainbow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of my favorite pics of Rick’s. A reminder of days gone by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many colors! Beautiful stuff, with the leaves on the trees changing to their fall hues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A gorgeous sunset. Isn’t it beautiful?

The fog lifting in the West Virginia highlands. This reminds me of the Woody Guthrie song, “This Land is Your Land”. When I was growing up in a small Oklahoma town in the 60’s, Woody Guthrie’s sister was our school secretary. We learned many of the beloved songs he wrote about Oklahoma, but also “This Land is Your Land” which was about our entire country. When we sang these songs sometimes before class started, she would listen on the intercom and compliment us. She always said, “My brother would be so proud of you all!”  There’s a stanza that talks about the fog lifting:

 

When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling
In the wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me.

And one last parting shot! Beautiful stuff! If you would like to see more photography and PRINTS by Rick Burgess, here’s a link: https://wvexplorer.com/photo-galleries/gallery-west-virginia-images-rick-burgess/

To connect with Rick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rick-Burgess-Photography-1784107871826356/

Homesteading on the Prairie

 

Homesteading on the Prairie

By Kathryn Albright
Tales of Courage & Hope

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I have scurried down many rabbit holes in my research so that my books set in western Kansas are historically accurate. Rivers, native fish, agriculture, Native Americans, sod houses, native birds and wildlife, cattle drives and cattle breeding are a handful of these “holes.” The internet is a big help in fact-finding, but my-oh-my do I get lost at times and surface just before it is time to prepare supper for my family!

For my next book in the Oak Grove Series, I’ve had to do some research into homesteading on the prairie.

The early inhabitants of Oak Grove, a fictional town set along the Smoky Hill River, lived in tents made from the canvas of their prairie schooners, but with the Kansas-Pacific Railroad now established all the way to Denver (1878), the small town was growing and wooden structures were springing up as the train brought supplies from the east and wood from the Rocky Mountains. The town prospered with the nearby stockyards that shipped cattle (up from the drives in Texas) to the miners in Colorado and to Chicago.

Railroad land grant Kansas

Homestead Act of 1862

However, some who lived out of town on 160 acres of their own, were farmers who’d come west with nothing but a dream to take advantage of the government’s Homestead Act of 1862. Requirements to own a plot of land by this means included:

  1. Must be at least 21 years of age.
  2. Must be a citizen or an immigrant with the intention of becoming a citizen.
  3. Must pay a filing fee (usually at the Land Office in the nearest town where it was also determined that no one else had claimed that particular parcel of land.)
  4. Must farm the land and live on it for five years before gaining the official deed to the property.
  5. Must build a home within six months. (Requirements in some states included the minimum dimensions of the home, one glass window, and also building a well.)

Homesteading on the Prairie

On the open prairie, it seemed that all weather was extreme. On arriving, many of the “sod busters” began by building a small dugout into the side of hill, just to escape the relentless wind, sun, snow and rain. Since there were no trees or large stones for construction material, the settlers would use their mules, oxen, or horses, and a special plow to cut rectangles of sod, 18” x 24” (weight = 50 pounds) to use as “bricks” for their home. These would be set so that the roots could grow and intermingle into the next row of sod, creating a very strong wall.

The base of a soddie was wide and the walls would then taper inward slightly to allow for settling. Most had a dirt floor, but later a puncheon or plank flooring might be used. On the inside, the walls would be plastered with mud to create a smooth appearance. Open windows were covered with oil cloth. A fireplace for cooking would take up one wall of the house.

The roof caused the most concern in the building process. Wooden poles, laid across the rim of the sod house, were then overlaid with bundles of brush. On top of the brush, more sod blocks were placed. Dirt clods dropping form the roof was a problem as well as other insects and an occasional snake. If the sod became too wet after a hard rain it could cave in. Every few years, depending on the severity of the weather, the roof would have to be replaced. Structures had one to three rooms and were surprisingly very snug and warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Homesteading on the Prairie

With all the difficulties they had to face, the years of too much or too little rain for their crops, less than 50 percent of homesteaders achieved the five-year requirement and acquired the deed to their land. Those who did not, went back home or traveled further west. Although most homesteaders consisted of a husband and wife and often children, a single woman or widow could also homestead and work to own the land. Once source reported that single and widowed women made up to 12 percent of the men and women homesteading in the Rocky Mountain area.

From 1862 to 1900 over 600,000 claims to homestead were filed. The Homestead Act ended in 1976 for the contiguous 48 states and in 1986 for Alaska.

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Learning these facts helped me form the basis of my fictional character’s life on the prairie. I was worried that the land would not be hers after her husband died, but was gratified to know she could hold on to it and it would be there for her son, and her son’s son if he chose that same life. That is why she fights for it so fiercely. The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, a western historical romance, won’t be available for a few more months, but it is available for pre-order here ~ [  Amazon  ]

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I doubt that I would have lasted six months living in a sod house! The bugs falling from the roof would have been too much for me! What, for you, would have been the most difficult part of life in a soddie?

Comment to be entered into a drawing to receive my latest release ~ Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove!

Homesteading on the Prairie

 

[  Amazon  ]

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Return to Oregon’s Past with Tracie Peterson

We Fillies are thrilled to have author Tracie Peterson with us today to talk about another of her wonderful books and a fascinating slice of Oregon history. Welcome, Tracie!

The last book in my Heart of the Frontier series, Cherished Mercy, debuts this month, and I found myself revisiting research that I did for this series and in particular for this final installment. Cherished Mercy takes place in the Oregon Territory, as did the other books in the series.

However, most of the area where Cherished Mercy takes place is in the Rogue River and coastal area of Southern Oregon. To research the area, I took a trip to the Rogue River, enjoyed a wonderful river tour and took lots of notes and pictures. I read various books about the Rogue River Indians and the conflicts that took place there during the 1850s. After starting the series with the Cayuse attack on the Whitman Mission near present day Walla Walla, Washington, I thought it interesting to contrast the end of the series with the attacks of the whites on many of the various Native American tribes in the Rogue River area.

The Rogue River is a fertile, lush area that provided not only fishing for the native peoples, but also revealed a bit of gold which caused the white settlers to pursue the area in hopes of finding riches. As is often the case, this didn’t prove as bountiful as the miners had hoped. However, it turned up the heat on the already tense relationship between the native tribes and the whites.

There were multiple tribes who called the Rogue River home, but people tended to lump them together as the “Rogue River Indians.” I chose to deal with the Takelma who lived on the Rogue River near Agness.

You can see from this map, however, that there were many tribes that lived along the Rogue River.

The Takelma were an interesting people, not so unlike many of their neighboring tribes. They lived in houses that were dug about halfway into the ground and made of split sugar-pine wood.  Here’s an illustration showing how the natives in this area lived. Often, we think of Native Americans and teepees come to mind, but there were so many different varieties of housing.

Acorns were of immense importance to the Takelma. They used these as a staple in their eating and made flour from them. Camass root and fish were also staples of their diet, but manzanita berries were an all-time favorite.  I did my best to weave in elements of their life and culture in Cherished Mercy.

Sadly, the Rogue River Indian Wars saw our government make big pushes toward the forced reservation system for the American Indian tribes. The Rogue River tribes were moved from a lush forested area along the river where they had fertile soil and plenty of game and fish to live on to an arid, open area of Oregon that was nothing like what they had known. It was called “The Second Trail of Tears.” Thousands would later die of disease, exposure and malnutrition.  It’s a sad time in our history.

I hope my readers will enjoy the conclusion of the series. I’ve loved this little corner of history and I’ll share a secret. I’m already thinking about a second related series dealing with the next generation from these families. I think it’s important that we learn from our history, but also that we cherish and honor it. Every element is important to who we are today and through stories like this, I hope to keep that history alive.

Tracie is offering a great prize to one of today’s commenters. The gift basket contains not only all three books in her Heart of the Frontier series but also some awesome Montana goodies.

Updated: September 12, 2017 — 3:36 pm

New Kid in Town!

I AM A FILLY!

I’ve always been a girl… And then a woman/sister/mom/wife/daughter/sister-in-law/grandma….

But now I’m officially a Petticoats and Pistols filly and do you know why?

I write Westerns.

It’s not my fault.

IT’S NEVER MY FAULT!  (Just had to get that out of my system.)

But this time it’s true… Love Inspired asked me to be part of a Western continuity a few years ago and I was hooked.

#mustlovecowboys

#cowboysrock

I am over the moon and if that sounds overdone, trust me: it’s not. It’s facts, ma’ams, simply facts.  And huge thanks to the wonderful writers/cowgirls of Petticoats & Pistols for bringing me ’round the campfire. But how is writing a Western novel different from writing my typical novels?

BOOK ONE of the DOUBLE S RANCH SERIES AVAILABLE HERE!

That’s Colt Stafford on the cover. And  that cover is a clue. Western heroes are larger than life, regardless of size… Because it’s not the size of the man. It’s the size of the heart.

Real cowboys are strong enough to be gentle… They’re man enough to put others needs, including the horse, the stock, the wife, the kids… before theirs. They’re tough enough to find faith, even if it’s not for the first time. They practice “Cowboy code” and they’re proud of it.  Whether you’re the oldest brother Colt, pictured above…

Or the middle brother, Nick: (Nick’s book is a finalist in the Maggie Award of Excellence for 2017. It’s available here.)

Or the country crooner superstar youngest brother, Trey:

Westerns are different in lots of ways. The obvious distinction is setting, and that’s a big difference because the West prides itself on being The West… Movies and books chronicle the push west, Ken Burns did a whole documentary about Westward expansion, Western movies and television shows abound and there are high school and college courses done on the positives and negatives of that westward push. History books cleaned up some stories, while scholars re-painted those same stories with dark intent that sometimes went to opposite extremes.

In the midst of it all, a region was built, bought, separated, fought for, fought over, divided and maintained. The heartland became the opening segue into the American We. With land spreading west, north and south, new states, cities, towns, villages and ranches were born. People moved west, moved back east, and moved west again, pushing that invisible wall of separation until they hit the Pacific Ocean.

I’ve delved into the history of it to create a fictional town set in South Dakota, one in Idaho and one… romance in a soddy!… in eastern Nebraska.

I’ve written an award-winning, bestselling series about the contemporary west, and loved it.

Whether my stories are set in modern times or historical venues, they have one thing in common: Love. And strong, strong women.

I love strong women.

I love empowering women.

Women are the unsung heroes in so many roles in life, but not in a Ruthy book. A memorable hero is a wonderful thing. But I love a book that celebrates the strong overcomer in a woman. A book that champions HER as much as it does him…

Because I believe women are blessed with an amazing strength that gets overlooked too often. Hey, I’ve been in a labor bed… and at a bedside, holding a dying hand. I’ve been in an emergency room, watching skilled professionals try to save a life… and at a graveside, mourning when life succumbs.

A great Western is a story of strength… of hope… of love.

My joy in writing gets polished in all of my books, but my cowboy books grab a piece of my heart and don’t let go… Maybe it’s the hat.

Maybe it’s the setting.

Or maybe… just maybe… it’s that pioneer-loving side of me that will never take the American West for granted.

Hey, I brought some home-made ice cream and chocolate dipped cones… and strong coffee.  Join me inside and if you leave a comment, I’ll toss your cute name into a hat for the first Double S Ranch book “Back in the Saddle”. Let’s talk why we love romance

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