Tag: #historicalwesternromance

Marilyn Turk: No Iced Tea?

The fillies are handing a big hey welcome to guest blogger Marilyn Turk! Come on in!

When I began planning the menu for the Cowboy Café in my new novella, Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café, I was pretty sure I knew what foods would be served. After all, my main character, Sarah Beth Taylor, is a southern belle who hails from a Georgia plantation not far from Savannah. Since I, too, am a southern belle, (ahem), I’m familiar with southern food, and I was certain she’d serve iced tea.

But when I discovered our setting in Crinoline, Texas was in 1868 west Texas, I had a problem getting ice to her café. After years in the food service business, I had to rethink how they managed food preservation in 1868. How did they keep things cool in hot, dry Texas? Some of the gracious western writers on this blog offered solutions like spring houses, wells and basements. But ice? Now that was another matter.

Researching the history of commercial ice, I discovered that natural ice was originally harvested in the winter from frozen lakes, ponds and rivers in the north and stored in icehouses through the summer. Frederick Tudor of Boston began the ice trade in 1805, shipping ice blocks stacked with wood shavings and sawdust for insulation by ship or train. By 1847, ice was shipped to 28 cities in the United States, including those in the South like Savannah and Galveston. From there, the product was shipped inland via train or wagon.

As demand grew for natural ice, so did the competition. In 1851, Dr. John Gorrie of Florida (of course) invented mechanical refrigeration and the first ice machine. By 1876, the process had been perfected by other inventors. And in 1877, Elisha Hall and R.R. Everett established the Houston Ice Manufacturing Company, then other ice companies followed. Most ice plants produced 300-pound blocks of ice. Once made, block ice was delivered to homes and commercial businesses, first by mule or horse-drawn wagon. Of course, these wagons were not refrigerated, so they couldn’t travel too far from the ice plant and keep their ice frozen.

But Crinoline Creek was too far to get deliveries by wagon and there was no train there yet. It never got cold enough for the lakes and rivers to freeze, so they couldn’t cut ice from them. So, Sarah Beth couldn’t get ice in 1868 and she couldn’t serve iced tea. The best she could do was make lemonade as long as the general store could get lemons, or maybe order some bottles of sarsaparilla and hope to keep them cool in the well. I’m sure that eventually, ice was available in Crinoline Creek and the Cowboy Café could finally offer iced tea to its customers.

Hey guys, Marilyn has graciously offered to give away a copy of this marvelous book (I know that because I love these authors!!!!) Leave a comment, an opinion, or a pithy remark below about how you’ve managed to “make do” without something you’d like to have over the years? It could be ice… or chocolate?

No. 🙂 Not chocolate! Let’s see what you’ve got below!

Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café” by Marilyn Turk

A refined but feisty southern belle inherits a saloon she plans to convert into a genteel café. Even though her lack of cooking skills threatens disaster, she rejects the town banker’s advice. What will happen when the two lock horns and an unlikely romance simmers on the back burner?

 

A “literary archaeologist,” Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction flavored with suspense and romance for Barbour Books, Winged Publications and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. One of her World War II novels, The Gilded Curse, won a Silver Scroll award. She has also written a series of novels set in 1800 Florida whose settings are lighthouses. In addition, Marilyn’s novellas have been published in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection and Crinoline Cowboys. Marilyn also writes for Guideposts magazine and Daily Guideposts Devotions.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Word Weavers International.

When not writing, Marilyn and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, playing tennis or visiting lighthouses.

Marilyn is a regular contributor to the Heroes, Heroines and History blog. https://www.hhhistory.com). Connect with her at http://pathwayheart.com, https://twitter.com/MarilynTurk, https://www.facebook.com/MarilynTurkAuthor/, https://www.pinterest.com/bluewaterbayou/, marilynturkwriter@yahoo.com.

Tenacity – The Stuff of Cowboys, Pioneers, and Persevering Women

The fillies welcome guest blogger Pamela Meyers!

The title may sound like a odd mix of people-types in the title, but think about it. The cowboys of old were a rare breed as they engaged in cattle drives while moving their herds to market. In the old west they had to deal with wild animals and attacks made by the area’s first dwellers, the American Indians. Today’s cowboys who rodeo (it’s used as a verb in the rodeo world) have to possess a lot of tenacity in all the events, but most of all, bull riding. They get on a 2,000-pound animal with nothing to hold onto but a loose rope tied around the bull. They have no idea if they will end the 8-second ride still astride the wild brute, or on the ground in one piece. And even if they are injured, they get back on a new bull the next week. I’ve seen cowboys ride with casted legs and arms. Tenacity at its best.

I can’t imagine the strength and tenacity that the pioneers of the past had to have to load their meager belongings in a covered wagon and travel west to begin a new life in a part of our country they had never experienced. Like the cowboys who drove their herds across the land, the pioneers had to face possible attacks along with bad weather that could delay them for days.

I’m currently writing historical stories set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that used to bear the nickname “Newport of the West.” It sounds strange today to think of a small town and lake in southeastern Wisconsin as “the west,” but back in the late 19th Century it was considered our country’s west. At that time, only the bravest souls had moved on past the Mississippi to the far-flung actual west

My four-book series called The Newport of the West, follows a fictional family who is displaced by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 as they move north to Lake Geneva, the same way many of Chicago’s wealthy did in real life after the fire.

Each book focuses on the daughter of the fictional couple in the previous book. Each heroine, beginning with Anna Hartwell in Safe Refuge (Book 1) possesses tenacity as they face obstacles, some real and solid ones as well as emotional ones. And along the way they come to lean on the Lord’s strength more than their tenacity to get them through. Anna had to deal with not only her family losing everything in the fire and having to start over in Wisconsin, but also faces the will of her parents when she was set to marry a terrible man in an arranged marriage.

 

The urgency of dissolving the arrangement before the nuptials take place is heightened by her falling in love with a wonderful God-fearing Irish immigrant. A totally unsuitable match in her mother’s estimation.

Is tenaciousness a trait you like to see in the heroines of the books you read? Can you share about a favorite fictional character that exhibits this trait in a way that has kept you turning the pages? Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for either “Safe Refuge” or “Shelter Bay”– I am absolutely delighted to hear what you think!

Pam Meyers has written most of her life, beginning with her first diary at age eight. Her novels, set in and around her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, include Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, along with Safe Refuge, and Shelter Bay.(Books One and Two in the Newport of the West Series.) Tranquility Point, Book Three, will publish in April 2020.

Pam resides in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats, only an hour or so away from Lake Geneva where she often is found nosing around for new story ideas. 

Photographer on a Sidesaddle

with guest blogger Regina Scott.

 

I love researching for a new novel, finding those unique nuggets that are going to bring a character or setting alive. In my recent release, A Distance Too Grand, my heroine Meg Pero is a photographer who wrangles her way onto a survey of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1871, only to discover the Army captain leading the expedition is the man she once refused to marry.

 

That doesn’t stop her. Meg’s used to being a woman in a man’s world. She followed her late father as he shot pictures of everything from a Civil War battlefield to Niagara Falls. Now she has to lug heavy cameras and deal with the harsh chemicals to prepare the glass plate negatives and develop the pictures. On such a rugged expedition, I thought surely she would ride astride.

 

Nope.

 

At that point in American history, except for a few daring or practical ladies out west, most ladies still rode sidesaddle. If Meg wants to be taken as a lady and a professional, she has to ride sidesaddle too. Which means, she needs a riding outfit.

 

And not just any riding outfit. For a two-month survey, Meg has one small trunk and two saddlebags in which to place all her personal belongings. If she wants to change her underthings, she has room for about two outfits. These outfits have to allow her to mount and dismount easily and climb into her photography van to set up her negatives. She must clamber over rocks, duck under trees, and venture out onto ledges to get the perfect shot. Nothing is more important to Meg than getting the shot.

 

Typical riding habits would not work. They were usually designed to look more like men’s wear, with tailored jackets and long, often tight sleeves. They also featured long skirts that could drape over the side of the saddle and hide the lady’s legs. Many of these skirts were so long they trailed on the ground when the lady was standing. All that would make it challenging for Meg’s work. 

 

However, as early as the 1830s, it was possible to purchase a riding habit that came with breeches or even trousers that were worn under a modest skirt. The short pants buttoned just below the knee. The longer trousers extended down over the boots and had a strap that went under the instep to keep them in place. If you look at this picture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can just see the hem of the trouser peeking out under the skirt on the right. Meg brings two such habits with her—one navy with brass buttons and one cream-colored version like what you see on the cover.

 

So, would you have been daring enough to wear breeches under your riding habit or even, ahem, ride astride? Comment below for a chance to win a print copy of A Distance Too Grand.

 

 

 

Regina Scott is the award-winning author of more than forty-five works of warm, witty historical romance. She and her husband live in the Puget Sound area of Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. Her fascination with history has led her to dress as a Regency dandy, drive a carriage four-in-hand, learn to fence, and sail on a tall ship, all in the name of research. You can learn more about her at http://www.reginascott.com or connect with her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/authorreginascott) or Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/reginascottpins

Bonus Day History Lovers… or Not!

It’s a Bonus Ruthy Day here in Filly-land and there’s a reason why… because Ruthy’s been doing her history research and she wants to give away another Kindle version of EITHER….  “The Sewing Sisters’ Society”

 

AMAZON

OR!!!!!!

Her newest release, just six days out… “A Most Inconvenient Love”... and with the help of Pam the Amazing Filly I figured out what I was doing wrong with the links and they’re here now! OH MY STARS, I am so depressingly normal! 🙂

 

AMAZON

Writers write so that readers will read.

We give things away so that readers will talk.

We want you to talk about us. About our work. About our stories! And that doesn’t mean you’re going to love everything an author does, but we love your sweet reviews, we love your shares, we love your moments when you say to a group of friends… “Oh my gosh, I just read the best book!!!!”

And then share the title or the book or the site….

All of this means a lot to us in an industry-wide market! You mean a lot to us!

So today is READER APPRECIATION DAY and I’d love to hear about how you exchange books or share books or ideas… and if you’re a writer, feel free to jump in and talk about your inspirations. We love hearing all of it!

My inspiration for this series was like a trifecta of love for courage, for pioneers, and for faith…. and a healthy dose of wanting to see the best in things! TOTAL POLLYANNA SYNDROME! 

 

So here’s your chance, give us a holler below and let’s talk books… and westerns…. and history.

Because this is my reality today:

 

Yes, that would be my back yard, darlings… so I’ve got a little time and I know how to use it. YEE HAW! 🙂

Whatever suits you today!

 

Behind the Book ~ The Oak Grove Series

With the release of Christmas with the Outlaw over the holidays, the Oak Grove Series 
that I wrote with Lauri Robinson came to its conclusion. I loved writing this sweet series set in Kansas,
diving into the history of the land and  the people there so that the stories would come alive with authenticity.
I thought I’d share some of the behind the scenes facts that helped drive and layer the plots of each book.

For example ~

 

BOOK #1

FACT:  

A year after the 1878 setting of the first book in the series, I learned that a prominent issue in the state legislature was prohibition. Carrie A. Nation, was living at Medicine Lodge, KS at this time before she began her famous crusade against alcohol. By 1880, an amendment to the state constitution was in place that prohibited the manufacture, sale, or gift of liquor. And by 1881, Kansas had become the first state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.

FICTION:

So, in Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove (set in 1878) when twin sisters, Mary and Maggie, were “railroaded” into the fledgling town as obstinate mail-order brides-to-be, it was only natural for them to try to escape their predicament. As daughters of a snake-oil salesman, and in the midst of the brewing controversy (pun intended,) they resurrected their past livelihoods and began making their meade-based family health elixir.

 

BOOK #2

FACT:  

Flooding of the Smoky Hill River often occurred in the spring and eventually dams were built along the river to try to control the worst of it. While bridges were slowly being built along the more populated areas of the river (Salina), Oak Grove still had a ferry crossing. In the spring of 1879, the heavy rains brought intense flooding that destroyed the crops and land to the south of the river. In soddies, it wasn’t unusual for the roof to cave in. (For more on this, see Homesteading on the Prairie, a previous post of mine.)

FICTION:

In The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, it was this torrential rain and flooding that necessitated that independent, isolationist Sylvia Marks leave her soggy soddie and brave the river so that she and her son could survive. It also forced her to leave her comfort zone and look to others for help. Eastern-educated Doctor Nelson had a lot to learn about women and life on the prairie, and Sylvia was just the one to teach him, if he’d only put aside his prejudices.

 

BOOK #3

FACT: 

In 1873, George Grant transported four Angus bulls from Scotland to Kansas and showed them at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition. Breeding these bulls with Texas longhorns produced a much heartier breed. (For more see my post From Longhorns to No-Horns.)  In 1874 four Kansas Railroads shipped 122,914 head of Texas cattle to the east. Mennonites from Russia introduced Turkey Red wheat to the state. And the Native Americans were forced to move to the reservation in Oklahoma Territory. In 1878, the last Native American uprising in Kansas occurred in Decatur County.

FICTION:

In Wedding at Rocking S Ranch, Raymond Wolf is looking out for the ranch of his best friend. The ranch had once been an encampment of his mother’s people – the Wichita. He is studying the breeding of the Texas longhorns with Angus cattle. When his best friend’s widow arrives in the autumn with news that she intends to sell the ranch, Wolf’s life is suddenly upended. Amid the arduous work of branding and driving the cattle to market, they discover that the truths they have believed were an illusion, and that what matters most is far more important.

 

BOOK #4

FACT:

Newspaper work is dangerous! Missing fingers and long hours. (See The 19th Century Newspaper Office)  It was fun gathering facts about small-town newspaper offices and touring Midway Village ~ a nearby living history museum. I was able to speak with the docent there who just happened to be a small-town newspaper man!

FICTION:  

In Christmas With the Outlaw, my novella in A Western Christmas Homecoming, Abigail White is a straight-laced, just-the-facts, unemotional journalist. It’s safer for her heart that way. When a man from her past stumbles into her newspaper office to hide from the law, suddenly she is confronted with an emotional crisis. Should she be true to her journalistic sensibilities and report him to the sheriff? Or will her heart win out? She must learn that not all is what it appears on the surface of a person’s life.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Researching my stories always gives my plots more layers ~ even though often I disappear for hours down the “research rabbit hole” chasing trails that are down right fun, but don’t lead anywhere productive. But then…sometimes they do!

 

 

I have been a filly in P&P’s corral for the past four years and the time has come to say an affectionate goodbye. It has been a delight to get to know each of the “fillies” and also the many women who have commented frequently on my posts. Thank you for joining in the fun here! Thank you for the camaraderie and the friendship. Saying goodbye is bittersweet and I will miss being a part of this group.

I wish you all the best!

                                                                                                                                        

HAPPY 2019!

 

Please visit me!

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  GOODREADS

And find my books at

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE 

 

Dude Ranch Fun with Guest Author Caroline Clemmons

 

Please give a BIG Petticoats & Pistols Howdy to our Friday guest author Miss Clemmons!
She is giving away an e-copy of her latest book to TWO readers who leave a comment.
Here’s a short introduction for those of you who aren’t familiar with her or or books ~

 

Caroline Clemmons picThrough an illogical twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this inexplicable error, she writes about handsome cowboys,
feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave.
She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs.
The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author
and won several awards.

Yee Haw! Thanks to the fillies at Petticoats and Pistols for having me today.

Years ago my husband Hero, our two daughters, and I went to the Mayan Dude Ranch near Bandera, Texas. Our eldest daughter had been petitioning (hounding) us for a horse. We hoped the ranch would pacify her. Were we ever wrong!

We were assigned to one of their native stone cabins, which was spectacular. The girls shared a room with two beds and a western theme. Hero and I had a lovely room with a fireplace and comfortable seating as well as a great bed. You’ve never seen two girls so excited. Hmmm, make that three because I loved the experience, too. Hero, not so much, but he was a good sport.

 The Medina River flows through the approximately 350 acre ranch owned by the Hicks family. Trail rides follow the river at times and are led by the head wrangler. We were there in early June, and the scenery was lovely. On our trail ride there were several teen-aged boys cutting up at the back of the line. They were used to horses and decided to head for the barn ahead of the others. As they raced past our daughter, her horse took off with them.

Being new to horseback riding, she wasn’t able to control the horse, or so we thought. The wrangler yelled he’d get her and urged his horse after hers. When he returned to us, he said she was having too much fun and didn’t want to be rescued. This was not a good sign for our plan.

Each night there was themed entertainment. One night after being served TexMex dinner, the entertainment was girls doing the Mexican hat dance followed by a piñata for the children. They also had a singing cowboy with his guitar, a trick roper, and other western attractions. To add variety, this was held by the Texas-sized swimming pool, in the dining room, the dance hall, or other areas.

The food was delicious. Their dining room was well-appointed in western style. A hayride took us to the cowboy breakfast one morning. We also attended a western cookout one evening. Nearby is the Old West town of Hicksville, which was a treat. Small but authentic, there is a dance hall and a couple of other businesses. If you don’t know how to dance, they’ll teach you while a live band plays.

 

We were surprised there were guests there from all over the world. The Mayan enjoys a top reputation, both for food and accommodations. For us, though, the excellent service and accoutrements only added to our daughter’s desire to have a horse. Foiled again! At least we had a great time.

 

 

 

While I have your attention, let me tell you about my latest release, GARNET, book 9 of The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series.

Garnet Book Cover

The universal buy link at Amazon is http://getbook.at/garnetWOWR.  

Garnet Chandler is fighting to hold onto her café, her niece and nephew, and her sanity after the deaths of her husband, his brother, and his sister-in-law. A persistent prowler and the threat of losing custody of her niece and nephew spur her to action. She doesn’t need another man, but she needs a husband long enough to convince the children’s grandparents she can offer a stable home.

Bounty hunter Adam Bennett was ready to settle down when his friend was killed by a horse thief. He set out to capture the man who had also killed a guard when escaping prison. Adam must have let down his defenses because the man he followed and two cohorts waylaid Adam, beating him and stealing all his possessions before kicking him down a steep ravine. Adam is determined to capture the three as soon as he heals from their encounter.

Garnet and Adam join forces to achieve both their goals but will that be enough?

Here’s an excerpt when Adam first meets Garnet:

A loud rap at the back door startled her. She kept the curtains closed unless they were serving food and couldn’t see who had knocked.

Joey grabbed his stick. “Don’t answer it. Might be the robber there.”

She wiped her hands on her apron. “Or a friend who needs something.” Joey didn’t know the Colt was in her apron pocket. After taking a deep, bracing breath, she opened the door.

The dirtiest man she’d ever seen stood there. His beard was as dirty as his clothes. Fresh cuts showed through the mud on his face. He was tall and broad-shouldered but looked as if he could barely stand.

“Ma’am, my name is Adam Bennett. Please don’t be put off by my appearance. I was robbed up the mountain a ways and lost all my gear. I’m mighty hungry. If you need anything done, I’d like to work for a meal.”

Joey was by her side. “He isn’t the one from last night.” All the same, her nephew kept his pick handle in his hand.

“We’re the Chandlers. Come in and sit down. Wait, wash your hands and face at the sink first. You can’t handle food while you’re that filthy.”

While the man washed his hands, she filled a plate from leftovers and poured a cup of coffee. “Joey, please get my medicine box from upstairs.”

He leaned close. “I don’t think I should leave you alone while he’s here.”

Joey took being man of the family seriously. “Oh, all right. Hyacinth, would you get the medicine box for me?”

“How come he doesn’t have to and I do?” Usually sweet, Hyacinth was a bit spoiled and definitely jealous of her brother.”

“Because Mr. Bennett is injured and needs our help. Please hurry.”

Her niece stomped up the stairs while muttering under her breath, her golden curls bouncing with each step.

When Garnet glanced at the man, she saw he’d wolfed down his food. “I’ll get you more. How long since you’ve eaten?”

“Not sure how long I was in and out of consciousness up there. They attacked me on Saturday. What day is this?”

“Monday. No wonder you’re hungry.” She set another plate of food in front of him and refilled his cup.

What about you?
Would you love the Old West atmosphere combined with modern comforts at a dude ranch?
Leave me a comment to be eligible for the giveaway.

I’ll be giving away an e-copy of GARNET to two people who comment on this post.  

Come visit me on my blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest

The Outlaws Are Coming and Cover Reveal!

A town of nothing but outlaws…Women needing protection, love, and hope

…People living in the shadows in desperate need of saving.

I’m launching a brand new series January 29, 2019 called Outlaw Mail Order Brides and here is the gorgeous cover for the first book!!

By the way, it’s available for preorder. Not that I’m begging or anything.

The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride is about Clay Colby and Tally Shannon. These are both characters from my Men of Legend series. Clay was Houston Legend’s right-hand man in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy and I’m thrilled to give him his own story. In fact, I’m beyond excited for my Legend series to bleed over into this one. Readers weren’t done with my Legend men and neither was I, so they’ll appear some in these. Luke probably will more than any because he and his wife Josie have formed a private mail order bride service to match men and women living outside the law for whatever reason.

I received a lot of mail asking if I’ll free the women in hiding. Yes, in this book.

You first met Tally Shannon and her band of women living in Deliverance Canyon in To Love a Texas Ranger (the first Men of Legend.) They’re in hiding after escaping the Creedmore Lunatic Asylum—only none are crazy. They were put in there by family members wanting to get rid of them. In fact, there’s quite a lucrative racket going in that horrible place.

Tally knows they can’t live in hiding forever and it’s time to walk in the sunshine. She volunteers to go first and try marriage. The outlaws can protect her but she’s struggling with trust issues. She doesn’t trust anyone—not even Clay. And this causes big problems between them. Still, she sees Clay’s huge heart and begins to lose her fear.

Tally begins to feel safe in Devil’s Crossing and loves working by Clay’s side in making it a town. He needs this as much as she. But there are lots of potholes in the road.

Can they smooth them out and stay alive long enough to make this marriage work? It’s anyone’s guess.

This cover perfectly depicts their rustic life. The big fire is in the center of the town where all the people gather and a lot of nights one of the men gets out his fiddle and they dance. I modeled Clay after the real life gunfighter and outlaw, Clay Allison, who loved to dance more than–well, shoot bad guys. So….do outlaws really dance? You bet’cha.

The book is available for preorder: AMAZON  B&N  |  iBOOKS

Book #2 – Saving the Mail Order Bride – follows a few months later on April 30, 2019.

 

 

Question: how do you like the cover? Is there anything that draws you? I just love the splash of red. If you don’t want to talk about the cover…how do you like fall so far?

* * * * * *

Cowboy Fever, Orphans, and a Giveaway!

 

 

Oh man! Do I have cowboy fever and it’s not just this week! Mine is a permanent condition. I love reading about them, writing their stories, and contemplating how it used to be before barbed wire and paved roads.

I’m sure some things are the same and cowboys still have the same kind of heart and love for the land and his way of life.

Next week, I’ll release TO CATCH A TEXAS STAR (Book #3 Texas Heroes.) In this story, Marley Rose McClain (the baby in Knight on the Texas Plains) is all grown up and looking to make her own way in the world. But she’s shattered to learn the secret Duel has kept from her all these years and to discover he and Jessie aren’t her parents. Who is she really?

A cowboy drifter named Roan Penny comes to see her as his Texas star and helps her sort it all out and find herself again. In the process they fall in love and plan for the future. But, will they live to see it?

I loved figuring out who Marley is and what she wanted. She loves writing stories for the many children her parents have taken in but sees no hope of getting them published. Roan has faith enough for both of them though.

This is the first time I’ve written about a character who writes and it was fun.

People ask why I write orphans into almost every story and here’s why.

The 1800s was overrun with orphans. New York City alone had 30,000 in 1850. Immigrants arrived and a good many died of disease and starvation, leaving their children with no place to go. The orphanages bulged at the seams and there were still so many living on the streets.

In an effort to curb the situation, they began shipping children out on orphan trains and offering them to any one willing to give them a home. From 1854 to 1929, a quarter of a million orphans rode on those trains. Yet, with no oversight, a good many faced horrible abuse.

Things weren’t much better in out west. People were dying in cholera epidemics, yellow fever, small pox, etc. Then you add in the numbers of the women dying in childbirth and it’s staggering. Then came the Civil War and left even more children without parents. On the American frontier, there were Indian uprisings in addition to everything else. It was a horrible time of upheaval and children bore the brunt.

Children are very dear to my heart. They represent the future and we should protect and nurture them. They are so vulnerable and helpless and I think we have a duty to be their voice.

What is your passion, what do you feel strongly about? Animals, children, equality, justice?  

To celebrate the release of TO CATCH A TEXAS STAR I’m giving away three copies of the book. Just leave a comment to enter the drawing that will take place on Saturday.

I hope you like it. I’m hard at work on a new series called Outlaw Mail Order Brides and launching Book #1 in January with Book #2 following soon after.

The 1890’s General Store

Photos by Jim Phillip

 

Before Rockford, Illinois became known as Rockford, it was called Midway Village. Travelers would stop here at the midpoint of their trip between Chicago and Galena, which is on the Mississippi River. The Rock River had a rocky bottom which made passage (fording) easier than at other areas. Hence the name that stuck for the growing town: Rockford.

Rockford’s living history museum, Midway Village, hosts many fascinating events – the nation’s largest WWII reenactment, a WWI reenactment, school programs, weddings, and garden tours. The small town is made up of several original buildings along with a few replicas that portray life in the 1890s. The docents are a wealth of information about life in earlier times. In a recent tour of the general store, I learned of a few sayings that have lasted until our time.

For instance, I thought the phrase “The whole nine yards” had something to do with football, although why ten yards wouldn’t be better, I’m not sure … sigh. (Laugh if you must.) What it means is that a woman wants to purchase the entire bolt of fabric for sewing.

What about “Get down to brass tacks?” The docent pointed out a row of brass tacks that were placed every six inches on the counter’s edge near the cash register. They were used to measure fabric, ribbons, and string before cutting. You can barely see them in the picture above.

“Cash on the barrel.” The pickle barrel that is. Nothing was ever stored on the pickle barrel because it was opened so often to buy pickles. See how the lid has a flat area with a slight edge? Because of that edge, coins wouldn’t roll off. You can see the large pickle barrel in this picture too.

 

1890 Post office

Most small town general stores doubled as the post office.
The docent is standing before the post office boxes.

Even though my series is set in Kansas (not Illinois), a small town general store
and its owners are featured in The Prairie Doctor’s Bride.

One other piece of information imparted was that when the first settlers arrived here from the east, they thought the land must not be any good for farming. They were used to forests that they had to cut down in order to farm the land. But here they saw grass, grass, and more grass which might be good for livestock…but not crops. Any trees they saw hugged the rivers. I guess that is a warning about first impressions! Now the Midwest is known as the world’s “bread basket” because its soil is the richest in the world and crops grow exceedingly well.

Prairie Grass

Here I am standing on a patch of natural prairie in northern Illinois! Look at the height of that grass! I cannot imagine walking beside a wagon and trying to get through it. I also cannot imagine coming upon a snake!

What is your state “famous” for?

The countdown has started for my next book ~ Wedding at Rocking S Ranch.
I will tell you all about it the next time I post.
Until then, have a safe, fun summer!

Available for pre-order HERE.

Release date is July 17th!

Finding the Perfect Match

 

EHarmony… FarmersOnly … Zoosk… Match…  Today, there seems to be a niche for every type of person out there to find their perfect match through the internet.

In this modern day of internet meet-ups, I have several friends and acquaintances who have met online and then gone on to marry and live their happily-ever after. Often these online dating sights have the new participant answer a list of questions to pinpoint their own character and what type of person would make a suitable match.

It is this idea of an interview that I used for The Prairie Doctor’s Bride.

In the Oak Grove Series, the Betterment Committee has been established to bring women to the town in order to “grow” the town. Doc Graham missed out on the first trainload of five women that arrived in 1879. Now the second arrival of women has him all set to make a match. He needs a wife — or — actually a nurse to help in his office.

Doc Graham, although smart in other matters, is quite clueless when it comes to matters of the heart. He has made a list of desirable qualities that he expects in a woman and is in the process of interviewing each new arrival, blind to the fact that he has already met his perfect match in a young woman who lives across the river.

A few months ago, I shared an excerpt of his date with Katie O’Rourke. Below is an excerpt of another woman — Penelope Pratt. (I had a lot of fun with these interviews!)

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Pratt didn’t say a word as they walked past a dog and a few children playing in the school yard. The silence between them grew awkward. He hadn’t expected this. Weren’t most women prone to talking?

“Please. I urge you to speak freely. The one month that the Betterment Committee allows you to decide on a husband and a man to decide on a bride makes it crucial that we find out if we are compatible. That cannot happen unless we talk.”

She came to a swift stop and pressed her lips together in a thin line. “That is a blunt way to put this highly uncomfortable situation.”

He hadn’t thought so. He’d simply been honest. “I tend to be direct.”

He took the moment to assess her appearance. Green eyes, just like his, his height, and a long, slightly curved nose. Egads! She could be his sister!

“Now what?” she asked, stiffening. “You look as though you swallowed your tobacco.”

“I don’t chew.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I find the habit disgusting. Then what did that look mean?”

“I was noticing our…similarities.”

“Oh, that.” She raised her chin. “I noticed them immediately.”

“Then should this move into a state of matrimony and should we have children—”

Her eyes widened.

“—their looks would be a foregone conclusion.” It was an interesting possibility.

She frowned. “Perhaps as you suggest, it is best to be frank and let you know my thoughts on the matter of propagating. Your education may even allow you to comprehend what I am about to say better than the other men I have encountered here.”

He wasn’t sure what to make of that.

“I want to marry. Truly I do. I have no close family. I want a companion with whom to share my life.” She took a deep breath and blew it out as if to steady herself. “However, I am not interested in the part of a marriage that happens behind the bedroom door.”

If he had been walking, he would have stumbled.

“You are shocked.”

“No…no…” Yes, yes he was!

“Come now. I can see it on your face.”

He swallowed—an attempt to absorb her statement politely and give himself time to gather his thoughts. “I have never heard a woman speak so plainly about such things.”

“I will remind you that you asked me to speak freely.”

He huffed out a breath. Could it be that he’d come across a woman who not only looked like him but who spoke and acted like him? “Perhaps I shall choose my words more carefully.”

She bestowed a slight smile.

“Are you ready to continue with our stroll? We’ve only walked through half the town.”

“As long as we understand each other.”

They continued on their way.

It was disconcerting that Miss Pratt could be as blunt as he. Would such a trait be smart to have as a nurse?

“You’ve said the same thing to other bachelors?” he asked. He didn’t want the entire town to be aware of any arrangements they might have that were of a private nature.

“No. The men I have met have all been much more forward than you. Each one found a way to take my arm or assist me in some way that required touching. When they did that I immediately checked them off my list. I’ve spoken to no one else about marriage except you.”

She kept a list? Another disconcerting thought. Their similarities were growing. “That is encouraging. But—am I so unlike them?” He wasn’t sure he wanted to be all that different from the others.

She arched her thin brow. “As I said—you are most direct. The others were still mentioning the weather while your conversation has already jumped beyond that to marriage. You are a gentleman. Your Eastern breeding is apparent in the way you speak and carry yourself. I would hope that means you keep this conversation we are having just between us.”

She hadn’t answered his question. Mayor Melbourne was a gentleman too, as well as Sheriff Baniff. And he could name several others who deserved that title. All were very different from each other, but he thought of them all as gentlemen.

“While we are on the subject, are there any other expectations you have of marriage?”

She shook her head. “No. I do find it interesting that you haven’t taken me back to the hotel.

You must still be considering me as a possibility, which is a pleasant surprise in light of what I just said.”

More likely, it was because he was still in shock. He’d taken it as a bygone conclusion that if he married, he would have children. He wanted several. That was one of the benefits of wedded bliss. That, and the fact that he had vowed to be a better father than his own.

The distance from the boardwalk down to the road in front of Miller’s Cabinetry Shop was particularly high. Considering what she had just said, he refrained from taking her elbow to assist her. He did offer his arm, but she didn’t take it. He nodded toward the livery and began walking in that direction.

“I had expected children at some point,” he admitted. “I will have to give your condition some consideration. I also desire a companion in marriage, but equal to that, or perhaps more so, I desire a nurse in my work.” He glanced sideways at her. His announcement hadn’t shaken her nearly as much as hers had him.

“Go on,” she said.

“I would like someone who will work beside me and help me run my office. This would entail having fresh bandages cut up, washed and rolled at all times. Watching over the patients that are in my office if I am called away on an emergency. Helping to make up medication, salves and tonics. All this would be in addition to cooking and cleaning and the general duties that wives do for their husbands.”

She drew her brows together. “And what would you be doing while I did all this?”

He thought that was obvious. “Seeing to my patients.”

“And in your free time?”

“I’ll use my free time to keep abreast of the changes in the medical field. Reading, writing articles and taking an annual trip to Denver to meet with my colleagues.”

“During which time, I would be required to remain here and keep the office in a state of tidiness?”

“I haven’t thought that far into it, but that is the general idea. I suppose some years my wife might accompany me to see the sights of the city.”

They walked silently past the livery to the railroad station where she stopped once more.

“You have given me a lot to think about.”

“As have you.” More than you know!

“I have no doubt that I could perform the duties you have mentioned.”

“In return, you would have a roof over your head and a respected standing in the community and a lifelong companion.” But he’d never considered that there wouldn’t be touching, caressing, or even a kiss now and then. His first words to her about what their children would look like sounded foolish now. Yet, perhaps, if he was honest with himself, it made sense. He certainly didn’t know how to be a father. His had never been around much. The only hugs he’d received from his mother had been stiff and awkward. He had never seen his parents so much as hold hands. The marriage that Miss Pratt and he had just described to each other sounded a lot like his own parents’ marriage.

The entire thing sounded like a business proposition. His initial excitement at the thought of abiding harmoniously had been squashed with pragmatism.

Well, isn’t that what he had originally intended? Josephine had made it clear he was not suitable marriage material. She’d called him cold. Nose in a book. Cared more for his patients than he did for her. He had hoped to move beyond that defining moment when she’d called off the courtship. He’d hoped for more warmth in a lifelong companion.

“I’ll walk you back,” he said, disheartened. “I think we both have a lot to consider.”

* * * * * * * * * *

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride
Copyright by Harlequin Books & Kathryn Albright
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

I hope you enjoyed this look into “dating” in Oak Grove. Poor Doctor Graham. He has a lot to learn about love, but when he does open his eyes and experience it for the first time, it is a wondrous thing to behold.

What about you? If you had the opportunity, would you ever consider
meeting a possible future spouse via the internet?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of the Prairie Doctor’s Bride!
(See our Giveaway Guidelines above.)

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