Tag: #historicalromance

Meteorology in the Victorian Era

When I first began researching details for my Baker City Brides series a few years ago, one particular historical fact I found piqued my interest.

In the 1890s, Baker City, Oregon, was home to a meteorological station.

For my soon-to-be released fifth installment in the sweet historical romance series, I decided to make the heroine’s father the newly-stationed meteorologist.

Which meant I had to dig up more detail about the station and why it was in Baker City of all places.

Weather, it seems, has always been important to the citizenry of the United States. As far back as the arrival of the first colonists, records of the weather were kept, noting the harshness of the New World.

Many of the Founding Fathers observed the weather with avid interest including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. During the early and mid 1800s, weather observation networks began to grow and expand across the United States.

Then the telegraph became operational in 1845 and visionaries saw the possibility of forecasting storms simply by telegraphing ahead what was coming.

Acc 000095, Box 27B, Folder Joseph Henry #11775

A man named Joseph Henry (sometimes referred to as the Father of Weather), Secretary of the new Smithsonian Institution, envisioned communication system opportunities that could extend across the North American continent. A plan was approved in 1848 for volunteer observers who could report the weather via telegraph and by the end of 1849, 150 volunteers were reporting weather observations to the Smithsonian regularly. By 1860, five hundred stations were daily furnishing weather reports.

President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a resolution in February 1870 that established an agency for reporting the weather. Although the brief resolution was given little press at the time, the agency it created would affect the daily lives of most citizens through its forecast and warnings.

Through the resolution, weather stations would operate under the War Department’s Signal Service Corps. This organization, The Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce, laid the ground work for the National Weather Service we know today.

On November 1, 1870, the first synchronous meteorological reports were taken by observer/sergeants at twenty-four stations in the new agency and transmitted by telegraph to the central office in Washington, D.C.

The work of the new organization demanded men familiar with observations, theoretic, and practical meteorology. Commissioned officers detailed to Signal Service work were required to acquire meteorological knowledge by studying, consulting and learning from leading meteorologists of the time. For the education of the weather observers (enlisted men), a school of meteorology was added to the existing school of instruction in telegraphy and military signaling located at Fort Whipple (Fort Myer), Virginia.

The Signal Service’s field stations grew from twenty four to almost three hundred in 1878. Three times a day, each station telegraphed an observation to the home office including  observations about the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, wind velocity, pressure of wind, clouds, and general state of the weather.

One such station existed in Boise, Idaho, but it closed just two days before Idaho became a state in July 1890 and moved to Baker City. The reasoning was that the area in Baker City was better for gathering weather information.

Then, in July 1891, the weather stations, telegraph lines, apparatus, and all the office equipment right down to every accounted-for pencil were transferred from the Signal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly formed civilian Weather Bureau. The bureau created the basis of the weather service we know today.

Lightning and Lawmen (Baker City Brides Book 5) will release June 28.

Here’s a little excerpt:

At least the pleasant weather was one thing working in Baker City’s favor. In spite of the house’s disorderly status, she would greatly enjoy spring days in the area if today was any indication of what the future held. She pushed the cape from her shoulders, closed her eyes, and relaxed against the chair, enjoying the peaceful moments before her father returned.

“Maybe this place won’t be all bad,” she whispered, allowing her grip on her father’s bag to loosen.

“Baker City tends to grow on most folks, if you give it a chance,” a deep voice said, startling her from her musings.

Her eyes snapped open in surprise. Pride straightened her spine as her glance settled on a man standing a few yards away on the winter-browned grass on the other side of the porch railing.

Sunlight glinted off a shiny silver badge pinned to the front of a long duster. She studied the black western-style hat on his head, similar to those she’d seen cowboys sporting on the train. The lawman wore a tan flannel shirt topped with a dark vest and a neckerchief the color of crocuses. Dark blue denims encased muscled legs while dust covered the toes of his worn boots.

Slowly, her gaze glided from his boots back up to his face. A square jaw covered in a rakish growth of stubble, firm lips, and a straight nose proved to be a handsome combination. But it was the man’s eyes that captured her attention.

 

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Flying Into History

 A while ago, when I was knee deep in research for my latest sweet historical romance, I happened across the mention of a woman who made history. Only I’d never heard of her.

I quickly became quite interested in learning more about her contributions to our past, though.

You see, her big historical moment might have been touted around the world, but fell by the wayside when a much bigger event took place at the same time.

Harriett Quimby was born in May 1875 on a Michigan farm.  She was in her early teens when the family moved to San Francisco. With dreams of becoming an actress, she was listed as one in the 1900 census.

She began writing for magazines.  In 1903, she moved to New York City and became a theater critic. Reportedly, she even authored a few screenplays that were turned into a silent films.

Harriett eventually turned to photojournalism as a career and leaned into adventure and excitement. She enjoyed travel, theater, and automobiles. In 1906, after a ride on an automobile racetrack, she bought her own car. At that time, it was unheard of for a woman to do such thing.

Through her journalism work, she covered an aviation tournament at Belmont Park in 1910. Harriett was friends with siblings John and Matilde Moisant. John ran a flying school and produced his own monoplane. Harriett enrolled in the school, along with Matilde. In  the summer of 1911, Harriett became the first American woman to be licensed as a flyer by the Aero Club of America, the U.S. branch of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. A few women had flown before her, but none at that time were licensed.

Tall and energetic, Harriett was hard to miss, especially when she created a flying costume that became her trademark. She wore a purple satin jacket and matching riding pants with high laced boots and a soft cowl around her head.

Seeking more excitement, she went on the barnstorming (a form of flying in which stunt pilots performed tricks, either individually or in groups called flying circuses) circuit where she became quite popular.

In the spring of 1912, after weeks of preparation, she traveled to England to purchase a Bleriot airplane. She borrowed one in Dover, England. Early on the morning of April 16, Harriet became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, landing in France.

Unfortunately, just a few hours after her history-making flight, the world discovered the tragic news of the Titanic sinking the previous day and poor Harriet was obliterated from the headlines.

She returned to America and barnstorming, joining in several air meets. On July 1, 1912, she was paid handsomely to participate in an air show near Boston. In front of the gathered spectators, her plane lurched, throwing her lone passenger to his death. Although she struggled to gain control, Harriett was also thrown from the plane and was killed.

Harriett had been a pilot less than a year, but her impact on the aviation industry, particularly for women, continues to this day.

As I was working on my book, I thought about how young women of 1912 may have looked up to Harriet, found inspiration in her achievements. You can read more about her impact on my fictional characters in Quinn (Pendleton Petticoats Book 9).  The sweet historical romance releases tomorrow.

She’s waging a war for women’s rights

He’s fighting a battle to win her heart…

There’s nothing typical about Quinn Fairfield. The outspoken suffragette spends her days writing sensational headlines as a newspaper reporter and indulging her natural curiosity. She’s much more likely to be found riding a bicycle around town than learning the social graces at which her sister, Caitlyn, excels. When Caitlyn announces her plans to wed a man Quinn doesn’t trust, she sets out to find a reason to break up the happy couple. In the process, she finds herself falling for an intriguing, kind-hearted man.

After spending several years in Portland at college, Walker Williams returns to Pendleton, eager to make his mark on the world. He’s determined to become a legendary architect despite the challenges that arise from his upbringing on the nearby Umatilla Reservation. When a feisty red-headed newspaper reporter catches his eye and captures his heart, Walker fights his growing feelings for her. He’ll do anything to shelter Quinn from the prejudices aimed at him and his heritage.

Can the two of them overcome their fears, set aside the burdens of the past, and surrender to the sweet romance blossoming between them?

Filled with laughter, adventure, and historical tidbits from 1912, Quinn is a sweet historical romance brimming with hope and love.

You can find Quinn on Amazon: http://a.co/2MX4ewF

To enter to win a digital copy of the book, answer this question:

Name a woman who has inspired or influenced you in a positive manner.

 

Bested by a Buzz Wagon

I’ve spent many hours the last few weeks combing through digital editions of old newspapers from Pendleton, Oregon.

As I was browsing through the news on one front page, a headline caught my eye.

Buzz Wagon Proves Too Much for Ted

The first thought that popped into my head was “what’s a buzz wagon?” The second was “who’s Ted?”

If, like me, you haven’t been exposed to the early 20th century slang term, a buzz wagon is what some people used to refer to an automobile. (Presumably from the noise emitted from those early vehicles.)

On a lovely June day in 1912, a cowboy named Ted and another cowpuncher brought 300 head of horses to Pendleton to sell.

According to the newspaper, Ted could ride anything that had two ears and a tail, but the “golderned buzz wagon” was too much for the buckaroo to handle.

While they waited around town the evening before they were to set to sell the horses, Ted and his fellow cowpuncher wandered down to the Pendleton Round-Up grounds to see what amusements they might find.

What they found was an automobile left sitting in the arena, unattended, while members of the Elks club tried out teams for an upcoming chariot race (wouldn’t that be fun to see?).

The two cowboys thought the seats of the auto looked inviting, so they slid in to watch the proceedings. After a while, Ted landed on the brilliant idea of taking the auto for a spin. Although he’d never been in an automobile before, let alone drove one, he asked his friend to get out and give the car a crank to start it.

The car started but ol’ cowboy Ted found he couldn’t control the “red devil” as it traveled across the track of the arena. He whipped the wheel one way then the other, touched every button and pulled every lever to no avail. The auto stopped when he bashed into a pole at full speed.

When the owner of the car arrived on the scene, Ted offered to buy the man a new automobile. The owner thought he could have the auto repaired and they settled on $25 payment.

Ted declared he was through with man’s inventions, much preferring a bucking horse than the unpredictability of a “buzz wagon.”

To find out more about the happenings in Pendleton during 1912, be sure to attend the Petticoat Ball on April 12 on Facebook! The fun begins at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) and runs until 2 p.m. Guest authors, games, giveaways, and details about my latest Pendleton Petticoats book, Quinn, will be shared!

 

Comfort and Joy

 

 Due to an ice storm that knocked our power out for a day and a half right before New Year’s Eve, I had plenty of time on my hands to do some much needed cleaning and sorting in my cupboards and closets.

As I dug through one deep drawer where I store assorted blankets, I happened upon a well-loved quilt.

My mama helped me make it one cold, snowy January when I was heading off to begin my college internship 1,100 miles away. The fabric used in the nine-patch quilt came from scraps saved from a variety of places, but all connected to sweet memories. When I settled into my tiny apartment, all alone in that big city, I curled up under the quilt and found comfort in the lovingly-made stitches. The quilt became a reminder of home, of family, of the my ties to the past. Even after I married Captain Cavedweller, the quilt came along. It was often the covering I reached for when I needed a bit of comfort when I once again found myself all alone while he worked nights.

I took the quilt out of the drawer and spent a powerless afternoon cuddled beneath the warmth of it while the joy of remembering sweet times from years ago flooded through me.

Quilts have always been important to me because they’ve always been gifts made with incredible love.

quilt sunbonnet sue

My Grandma Ila made this quilt for me when I was a little girl. It graced my little twin-sized bed in my very pink bedroom for years and years. The pattern is Parasol Lady.

 

quilt roses grandma nell one block

CC’s grandmother made this quilt for us one year for Christmas. She knew how much I love roses and surprised us with this beautiful cross-stitched quilt. Grandma is no longer with us, but the love she put into this quilt will last forever.

 

quilt rose of sharon full

This is the quilt Grandma Ila made as our wedding gift. She let me pick the pattern and the colors then she and my mom pieced and quilted it. There was a lot of piecing and a lot of quilting and a lot of love that went into this Rose of Sharon variation quilt.

 

 

quilt grandma jackson

My Grandma Elsie started this Tulip Basket quilt for my mom back when she was a teen. Mom told Grandma she didn’t like the colors, so Grandma never finished the quilt. One day when I was in high school, we were at Grandma’s helping her clean and found a bag with the quilt blocks. Grandma gave them to me, so Mom put the top together and quilted it. When she completed it, she couldn’t remember why she thought it was ugly in the first place.

 

quilt grandma nell's mom

The blocks for this quilt came from CC’s Grandma Nell. Her mother made the squares back in the early 1900s. No one ever finished the quilt. She gave them to me and when we needed one more block to make the quilt work, Mom did the one with the pink roses (pictured top left of the above photo). Mom sewed the top, then did all the quilting.  I should mention that Mom and Grandma did their quilting by hand. No fancy machines for them. I remember seeing a quilt frame stretched across our entire living room on many occasions. In later years, Mom would quilt using a big hoop instead of the frame.

Unfortunately, with all the talented quilters I’ve known, the gene and talent completely escaped me. I can sew – but quilting is beyond my patience and skill. That doesn’t, however, keep me from having one (or three) storage tubs full of fabric I hope to someday make into quilts. I’ll just have to find someone to do the quilting.

 

quilts pile

I enjoy looking at the quilts and thinking of all the love, detail and skill that went into making them.

Last year, I participated in a series of books that featured quilts. It was a lot of fun for me because it brought to mind all the quilts I watched my grandmas and mom make over the years.

The series, Grandma’s Wedding Quilts (which includes a book by fellow Filly Kathryn Albright!), features all sweet novellas. Grandma Mary’s traditional gift to each of her grandchildren is a hand-pieced and hand-stitched quilt, woven with memories, wisdom, and a family legacy of enduring love.

tads-treasure

My contribution to the set, Tad’s Treasure, is the final book in the series.

Tad Palmer makes a promise to his dying friend to watch over the man’s wife and child. Years later, he continues to keep an eye on Posey Jacobs and her precocious little boy. The only problem is that he’s not sure his heart can withstand the vow he made when he falls in love with the widow and her son.

Posey Jacobs misses her beloved husband, but her wrenching grief has given way to hope for the future as she finds herself falling deeper and deeper in love with Tad Palmer. However, the infuriating man doesn’t seem to notice her interest and treats her as he would his sister.

Throw in a goat who thinks she’s a dog, a town full of quirky characters, and this widow has her work cut out for her if she wants one handsome cowboy to give her his heart.

~*~

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What’s your favorite way to stay warm on a cold winter day?

Wishing you call comfort and joy throughout this new year!

Christmas Confections by Shanna Hatfield

Christmas has always been such a beautiful, blessed, wonderful season to me.

A tradition that my mom taught me, one I still carry on, is to bake goodies, infused with love, and share with family and friends.

One year, I spent hours and hours making elaborately frosted sugar cookies. In particular, I recall a little rocking horse that I’d painstakingly decorated with tiny little reins and a saddle accented with mini holly and berries made of icing.

Then my dad and brothers came in for supper and made short work of my creations!

I still make sugar cookies (a recipe I spent years experimenting with until I got it just right), although I don’t spend hours decorating them like I used to.

Sugar Cookies

I also love to make cinnamon rolls and share them with our neighbors when the rolls are warm from the oven and icing is melting into sweet pools all around them.

Cinnamon Rolls

I have an overflowing recipe box with all the traditional sweets I typically make during the holidays.

But while I was researching details for my latest release, I found so many more recipes I’d love to try.

The heroine in the story is a Swedish baker. My goodness! I think I gained five pounds (or ten) just writing about all the delightful pastries and goodies she created in her bakery.

Confection long

The Christmas Confection is book 6 in the Hardman Holidays series, set in the old western town of Hardman, Oregon.

2017 Christmas Confection

Will a sweet baker soften a hardened man’s heart?

 Born to an outlaw father and a shrewish mother, Fred Decker feels obligated to atone for the past without much hope for his future. If he possessed a lick of sense, he’d pack up and leave the town where he was born and raised, but something… someone… unknowingly holds him there. Captivated by Hardman’s beautiful baker, Fred fights the undeniable attraction. He buries himself in his work, refusing to let his heart dream.

Elsa Lindstrom adores the life she’s carved out for herself in a small Eastern Oregon town. She and her twin brother, Ethan, run their own bakery where she delights in creating delicious treats. Then Ethan comes home unexpectedly married, the drunks in town mistakenly identify her as a missing harlot, and a mishap in the bakery leaves her at the mercy of the most gossiped-about man in Hardman.

Mix in the arrival of three fairy-like aunts, blend with a criminal bent on dastardly schemes, and sprinkle in a hidden cache of gold for a sweet Victorian romance brimming with laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer.

Excerpt:

“Well…” Fred gave her an odd look as he stood in the doorway with autumn sunshine spilling all around him.  “There are two other things I’d like.”

“Two?” Elsa asked, wiping her hands on her apron and facing him. “What might those two things be?” She anticipated him asking for a batch of rolls or perhaps a chocolate cake.

“My first request is simple. Please call me Fred. I’d like to think, after all this, we’re friends and all my friends call me Fred.”

Elsa nodded in agreement. “We are friends, Mr. Deck… er, I mean Fred. If you want me to call you Fred then you best refer to me as Elsa.”

The pleased grin on his face broadened. “Very well, Elsa.”

Her knees wobbled at the sound of his deep voice saying her name, but she resisted the urge to grip the counter for support. “You said there were two things you wanted, in addition to cookies. What is the second?”

“It’s a tiny little thing really,” Fred said, tightly gripping his hat in both hands.

“A tiny little thing? Then I shall take great honor in bestowing whatever it is.” Her gaze roved over the kitchen, trying to imagine what in the world Fred could want. She kept a jar full of assorted candy. Sometimes, she used the sweets to decorate cakes and cookies. Perhaps he wanted one. “A piece of candy?” she asked.

Fred shook his head. “No, Elsa. It’s sweeter than candy and far, far better.”

Intrigued, she took a step closer to him. “What is it?”

He waggled his index finger back and forth, indicating she should step closer. When she stood so her skirts brushed against the toes of his boots, he tapped his cheek with the same finger. “A little sugar right here would be even better than ten batches of cookies.”

~ Giveaway ~

red bowed packages on white background

Make sure you enter this drawing for a chance to win a mystery box of Christmas goodies!

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Wishing you all a bright, beautiful, holiday season!

What’s one thing do you always look forward to baking or eating each Christmas?

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