Tag: #KathrynAlbright

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!

Kathryn’s Winner

 

Thank you to all who stopped by yesterday and joined in the conversation!

Melanie Backus won the “draw”… (on my giveaway!)

Congratulations Melanie!

Connect with me at Kathryn at kathrynalbright dot com and let me know your street address
so that I can mail your autographed copy of The Prairie Doctor’s Bride!


The Prairie Doctor's Bride

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.)

the Prairie Doctor's Bride 2

Author Website | Newsletter

Party Games of the 1800’s

Kathryn Albright Banner 2018

Party games! Don’t you love them? My household is a family of “gamers.” Over the years, snow-days and holidays and birthday parties, whenever we were all together, we would usually have a game of some sorts going. It has come in handy this winter, which has been quite a LONGGGGG one! We are all ready to see some spring flowers here in the Midwest.

What would we have played if we all lived in the 1800’s? Some of the social games from then survived into my childhood, such as Blind Man’s Buff and Twenty Questions and Musical Chairs. But no matter the year, games have always provided a way for people to have fun, “let down their hair” a little, laugh, interact socially, flirt, and enjoy socially approved physical contact.

The spirit of these social games in the 1800s involving boys and girls, men and women of the middle and upper classes, was that an overly competitive attitude was considered “poor form.” The idea was to have fun together and not to “out-do” another player to the point that feelings were hurt. Camaraderie, a relaxing of inhibitions, and laughing at one’s self were the important aspect of social games. I imagine that cowboys, used to a barn dance or two, would feel out of place playing some of these games, but I bet they would have brought an entirely new competitive atmosphere to them!

Barn danceHere are a few examples of games from the 1800s that involve a mixing of the genders ~

Puss, Puss in the Corner

For the game, all that you need is a fairly square room with four corners and the furniture moved out of the way. If played outside, you need something to denote the four corners such as bean bags or chairs. I suppose a baseball diamond could be used, but such a large area would make for a very energetic game. The game requires five or more players. One stands in the center of the square, while the others stand in each corner. The central player calls out: “Puss, puss in the corner!” On the word “corner” everyone moves to a different corner. Since there are five players, one will always be left out and that one becomes the new “Puss.” If more players are involved, the one left out of a corner goes to the end of a line of the others waiting to play, and the first in that line becomes the new “Puss.” Sometimes when this game was played, a “forfeit” was demanded of the one who became the new Puss.

Twirl the Trencher

In this game, everyone sits in a large circle (with or without chairs depending on the age of participants.) Each player is assigned either a number, an animals name, or a flower’s name. The starter goes to the center of the circle and spins a plate on its edge (wooden or some other unbreakable plate or disc.) He calls out a number or one of the names and dashes to his seat. The person being called out, must jump up and rush to the plate to spin it again and call out another player. The play continues until someone is not quick enough and the plate falls. That player, then must pay a forfeit.

The Key of the King’s Garden

This is a memory game much like Grandmother’s Trunk. Players sit in a circle. The one starting begins by saying “I sell you the Key to the King’s Garden.” Then indicates a player on his right or left. That player adds to the sentence. For example, by saying, “I sell you the chain that held the Key of the King’s Garden.” Then it is the next person’s turn in the circle. “I sell you the dog that wore the chain that held the Key of the King’s Garden.” This continues around until everyone has played. If someone does not repeat the words exactly, a forfeit is demanded.

 

Forfeits
(My favorite part!)

These games were played for fun with a light-hearted attitude. Keeping score (numerically) wasn’t done. However, there was such a thing as “forfeits” which added tremendously to the fun. (Personally, I think these should make a comeback!)

Forfeits occurred when someone made a mistake, lost their chance to a seat or space in the game, or lost in some way. That player would write their name on a piece of paper, which would then be placed in a bowl or basket. At the end of the game (or the evening,) a judge would be chosen. A second player would select a paper from the bowl and announce: “I have a forfeit to be redeemed.” The judge would ask whether it belonged to a lady or a gentleman. Upon learning which it was, he would then assign a task for the person to perform (not knowing the actual person’s identity.)

Examples of “forfeit” tasks ~

The Imitation
A man puts on a lady’s hat and imitates the owner. Or a woman puts on a man’s hat and imitates the owner.

The Statue
The “forfeiter” is posed by a selected number of other players, usually in ridiculous positions.

Bow to the Prettiest, Kneel to the Wittiest, and Kiss the One You Love Best
This is reserved for a man. (Hopefully he will do all three tasks with the same lady!)

The Nun’s Kiss
A lady kisses a man chosen by the judge, performing the kiss through the bars of a chair.

The Counsel
The person must give a piece of advice to all (or just one) players. (Always done in the spirit of fun and good humor.)

The Will
The person leaves to each other player an item or a quality he thinks he possesses. (Also done in the spirit of fun and good humor.)

Kiss the One You Love without Revealing Who It Is
The individual must kiss all the players of opposite gender, without letting on which player is the one he or she loves.

There are many others – as varied as the imagination of the judge!

* * * * * * * * * *

With teenagers constantly watching their phones
rather than communicating face to face,
I can’t help but think that these would be fun to bring back!

Who is with me?

What is a social game of yours that you have enjoyed playing?

Comment to be entered into my giveaway drawing for my newest release!

“This book was a pure delight.”
The Prairie Doctor’s Bride/San Francisco Review of Books

WEBSITE

 

Cabin Fever – Time to Dream & Plan

by Kathryn Albright

Cabin Fever anyone?

We have it so much better than the pioneers did in the Old West!
Although they had their share of quilting bees and sleigh rides,
I’m sure that by the middle of March they were dog-gone tired of the snow and slush and cold.

I can’t imagine that anyone in the southern states has to deal with such a thing
(except in the form of putting up with snowbirds who fly down from the north!)
but here in northern Illinois, cabin fever is a very real feeling!

All I can say is thank goodness for books, movies, and the internet!
(And my husband, board games, puzzles…)

This is me with cabin fever…well, not really.
I just loved the dress (and I wish I had her waist!)

But truthfully, I love the change of seasons.
The rest of the year, I am outside with all sorts of busyness,
but when the months of January through March happen,
suddenly I am tucked inside, cozy and content.
For some reason, being closed in by the cold weather,
I feel safe and cocooned and that is when my imagination takes wing and…

Magic Happens!

 

 

I dream up new stories…

I dream up the next big road trip I hope to take with my husband…

 

Last year’s epic trip to the Northwest!

We are thinking about Branson, Missouri for a new destination.
Have any of you been there? Any suggestions or advice?

 

 

I dream up the next landscaping renovation for my aging house…

We are putting in a patio that I designed after scouring Pinterest!
Thank goodness my sons live close enough to help with some of the heavy lifting!

 

This winter, I also started cooking lighter. I’ve had a few fails — such as making cauliflower buns for turkey burgers. Those simply fell apart 🙂 But I did come across one recipe my family loved and I thought I would share it here…

 

Chicken Taco Soup (for the crock pot)

Ingredients:
2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 teaspoon taco seasoning mix
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
13-14 oz raw chicken breasts – should yield 9 oz cooked
2 cups cabbage, chopped (May need more because of shrinkage)
2 oz shredded Mexican Cheese to garnish

Directions:
Combine chicken broth, water, diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, cumin, chili powder, garlic, cabbage and chicken in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours. Shred chicken breasts in crock pot before serving. Pour soup into bowls and top with cheese.

Servings: 2

(I doubled this recipe for my family. It is just as tasty as leftovers.)

* * * * * * * *

What about you? Do you deal with cabin fever or are you snug and content where you live?

Here’s wishing everyone at Petticoats and Pistols

— readers and fillies alike —

a Warm, Happy Spring!

 

 

 

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride ~ An Excerpt

A look behind the book!

To create a scene, quite often authors draw on their life experiences and the emotions they felt at the time. That is how Katie O’Rourke’s “date” with Doctor Graham became a scene in The Prairie Doctor’s Bride.

When my husband took his first job as a school principal, he moved our family to a remote rural area in western Illinois. We rented a big, old farmhouse on a hill surrounded by fields of corn and wheat and woods, three miles from the town where he worked. The picture above is similar to the house, except the condition was much better! I enjoyed living in the country, but there was no hospital nearby for me to work in my profession as an obstetrical nurse. I took a position at the closest place ~ a nursing home. I didn’t last long. Those lovely elderly men and women reminded me too much of my grandparents — one of which had recently passed away. My emotions were frayed after only one day of working there.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Nelson Graham, the doctor in my latest sweet western romance, the Prairie Doctor’s Bride, is in need of a wife (and a nurse.) Growing up in the east, he attended a boarding school and then a university in Boston. He never had much contact with the “fairer” gender and so when he decides to take a wife in Oak Grove from among the mail-order brides that the town has procured, he is more than a bit out of his comfort zone.

He makes a list of attributes he expects in a wife, but he also wants to make sure she will work beside him as his nurse. He is not expecting a love-match. There wasn’t much love in his parent’s marriage and so he decides the best he can hope for is a help-mate.

He goes about meeting each mail-order bride and assessing them to see which one would work out for him the best. Needless to say, I had fun with this part!

The following is an excerpt of one such meeting ~ (Hint: Katie is not the heroine!)

* * * * * * * * * *

The next afternoon he called on Katie O’Rourke. He’d heard good things about her from a few of his more gossipy patients. Miss O’Rourke had the start of lines near her pale blue eyes and a more generous girth than the other brides. He was immediately drawn to her pleasant smile and outgoing personality. He invited her to dine with him in the hotel’s restaurant.

“I’m surprised you asked for me, Dr. Graham. I imagined that you would be interested in a younger woman. After all, your first choice was Mara. She’s the youngest of us from the train.”

“There is something to be said for life experience in a good marriage, Miss O’Rourke. You and I are likely close to the same age and have far more in common.”

Rollie brought in two bowls of cabbage soup and two plates of scalloped ham and potatoes. He set them down before Nelson and Miss O’Rourke. “Hello, Doc. Ah…Miss Katie…I would appreciate your opinion on the meal.”

Nelson raised his brows. Miss Katie, was it? It wasn’t like Rollie to solicit anyone’s opinion, especially when it came to his wife’s cooking. Ever since Rollie married Sadie, he had said that she could do no wrong.

“Oh, Katie here is a fine cook,” Rollie said, catching Nelson’s expression. “She’s been teaching Sadie and me some secrets from her native Ireland. I wish she had been here for Saint Paddy’s Day.”
Across from him, Miss O’Rourke smiled. “You’re too kind, Mr. Austin. I’m sure this will be delicious.”

“Well, I’ll be waiting to hear your thoughts.” And with a quick rap on the table as goodbye, Rollie headed over to another table to speak with another couple.

She could cook! That was good news for Nelson’s purposes. He settled back to enjoy his meal, his opinion of Miss O’Rourke rising steadily.

“What is it you did before coming to Oak Grove?” he asked halfway through his soup.

“Ach. I suppose you might think that I was married before, seeing as how I’m older than the other brides, but I haven’t had the pleasure.”

“It was on my mind,” he admitted. “I find it refreshing that you don’t make excuses. Sensible.”

“Well…it is what it is, isn’t it?”

She took a bite of ham and potatoes before continuing, “Ye see, I took care of my parents. First my ma fell sick, and it became my duty to do the cooking and cleaning and tending to my sisters. Then, a year after she passed, my da had an accident on the river. He needed my help after that.”

“What about your sisters? Did they help?”

She shook her head. “They married off as fast as you can say Christopher Columbus. First Bridget and then Susan. I’m glad of it. They have bonny husbands and they are happy.”

Another mental check went down on the positive side his list. She thought of others before herself, and she’d cared for a sick mother and ailing father and hadn’t minded her duty. “Miss Katie,” he said. “The fact that someone hasn’t snatched you up bewilders me.”

A becoming blush rose up her apple cheeks. “It’s hoping I am that I’ll never have to care for another sickly person again, unless, of course it was my own. You see—I like to be out of doors and I’ve had so little chance to do that. A garden of my own to tend on my own little patch of land, and cooking what I grow. Could anything be better than that?”

Oh no. That didn’t sound like the life he had envisioned. “What about helping your husband?”

“I suppose it would depend on what he did. For instance, I do like animals you see. And as I said—growing things. Anything that is out of doors.”

“Well, what if he was a doctor?”

Her eyes widened. “Are you asking me for my hand?”

His heart nearly stopped. “No, no!” he said quickly. “Of course not. It’s much too soon.”

“Well, then, just what is it you are saying?”

“I’m obviously not doing a very good job of making myself clear. I meant to say, or to ask…” He was stumbling about like a fool! He took a deep breath and began again. He leaned forward. “I would expect my wife to work with me. In my office. Doing things such as a nurse would do.”

She snatched herself back from him as if burned. “I’m sorry, Doctor. I’ve done my duty as a daughter and I hope never to look on another hurt or dying man or woman in my life. It’s my heart, you see…”

“No. I don’t see,” he said perhaps a little too crossly. “You are experienced. You are obviously well suited for the type of work.”

“But I couldn’t bear to go through it again. Every person I tended would remind me of my ma or my da. I—couldn’t.” The last was said in a whisper as if she was remembering more than she wanted. Her eyes filled with tears. She stood. “I won’t be misleading you to think that I would.”

Others in the restaurant were watching the drama with growing interest. This was not how he anticipated the afternoon going. “Please, Miss O’Rourke. Sit down again. I would have you finish your meal.”

She stood there a moment, undecided.

“Believe me, I do understand. I’m disappointed, for myself, but I completely understand your position.” It was obviously too much for her gentle nature.

“Are we to be friends then?” she asked, her voice uncertain.

“That would suit me fine. A person can’t have too many friends.”

“To be sure,” she said, gave a relieved smile and slowly sat back down to finish eating.

* * * * * * * * * *

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt!

(I thought it fit well with Saint Patrick’s Day!)

Do you have a Saint Patrick’s Day tradition? Do you wear green?
To enter the giveaway, Let me know!
I will choose a winner tomorrow from among those who comment.

 

 

 

Raising her son alone, penniless Sylvia Marks has had enough of being the subject of town gossip. But when her son is seriously injured she’ll do anything to save him…even kidnap handsome Dr. Nelson Graham!

Nelson knows what he wants in a wife; she’s to be amiable, biddable and skilled in domestic chores. Gun-toting Sylvia Marks isn’t what he had in mind, but as the two are forced together he realizes she’s exactly what he needs!

* * * * * * * * *

To find out more please visit my website at http://www.kathrynalbright.com

To purchase, or read more reviews…

 

 

Fact-Checking Historical Westerns

 

Fact-Checking Historical Westerns

I imagine that most of us read a historical romance for enjoyment first, and then some learning on the side about what life was like back in the day. It is fiction, after all, not a scholarly history book. However, words, items, and phrases that are untrue to the setting can pull the reader out of the story and possibly make them quit reading the book altogether. As an author, I feel I owe the past and my ancestors, the respect of portraying them as truthfully and authentically as I am able.

I just finished up the rough-draft of my next book and am in the middle of fact-checking to make sure that I have everything correct.To double-check the initial usage of words, I use my ancient Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary on my desk or I pull up Dictionary.com. I must make sure that the things my characters say and the items they use, actually existed in the time and setting of my historical romance. Thank goodness for the internet! It is so much easier today than when I first started my career as a writer. (The internet is always right…Right?) I do find though, that in this part of the writing process, I get sucked into checking out all sorts of strange, fascinating and downright weird tidbits that never make it into any of my stories.

The Rebel and the Lady

The Rebel and the Lady

When I first started writing westerns, I peppered my second book, The Rebel and the Lady (set at the Alamo) with Stetsons and blue jeans, only to find out upon fact-checking that those items didn’t exist in 1836. The John B. Stetson Hat Company started making the Stetson in Philadelphia in 1865, almost thirty years LATER! Arrrgh!

Denim pants were around, but were called “waist overalls” in 1873. They weren’t dubbed “jeans” until 1890.

Stetson Hat used in the Army

 

In the book I am currently writing, I recently made the correction about my hero hitching his thumbs on his belt loops. Although belts have been around for centuries in various forms, the kind we think of today, along with belt loops, began catching on with the general population slowly. They were on some Civil War uniforms, but wearing them really took off in 1922 when they were placed on Levi jeans. Before that, suspenders were the norm. (I kind of like the look of suspenders. How about you?)

Standard Civil War Infantry Waist Belt

I was sucked down the rabbit-hole again when I wondered if a small town like Oak Grove would have water-closets in each of their businesses along the main street. I mean…people lived on the second floor and had their business on the first floor. In a city like Chicago or New York there would be a sewer system. But what about a one-horse town like Oak Grove that is just starting out? Would each business have an outhouse behind it? Would there be any type of communal cistern? What about communal privies?

 

Not only is it items that I need to check the existence of, it is words and phrases. Although “fetch” has existed since before the 12th century, the use of it meaning someone attractive or pleasing to look at (fetching) wasn’t common usage until 1880 (according to some dictionaries.) My story is set in 1879 and my editor caught this one. I still insisted on its use though. It characterized one of my characters perfectly. And my thoughts are that people used it for awhile before the dictionary made it an official word. Just as “google” was used as a verb for searching the internet several years before it was admitted to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006. (My! Has it been around that long already?)

The words, phrases and items that I don’t catch when I fact-check are usually caught by the eagle-eye of my copy editor in London. She is hyper-critical and an amazing editor. It would be great to send in a completed manuscript and have it so “clean” that she can’t find any issues. So far, that day has not happened. ?

 

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The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, is my newest release.

Look for it at:

And visit me anytime on my website or Facebook!

 

OF BROKEN BONES & BONESETTERS

Welcome to Wildflower Junction and another year of chatting about wonderful books and the Wild West. Looks like we have a great line-up of guest authors coming our way on Fridays this year!

To start the year off right, I am offering a give-away at the bottom of this post, so keep reading!

I am currently writing the OAK GROVE SERIES which is shared with Lauri Robinson. It started last May 2017 with MAIL-ORDER BRIDES OF OAK GROVE. A complete listing of all the books in the series can be found at http://kathrynalbright.com/about-the-books/oak-grove-series/

My newest book in the series, THE PRAIRIE DOCTOR’S BRIDE has just been released. (YAY!) Since the hero is a doctor, I had to portray him doing doctorly things. In books or movies about the Old West, someone with a broken leg or arm will often have their injury splinted with sticks for immobilization. Usually this is “out in the bush,” and although Doctor Nelson Graham could certainly do this method I wanted him showing off his education a bit. Doc Graham was not a lay doctor or a bone-setter (a barber or in a pinch the local blacksmith.) He attended a prestigious school in Boston, and then had several years of experience, employed by the Kansas-Pacific Railroad Company to attend the men building the railroad. He had his own home-office in Oak Grove, Kansas. So, I had to find about a little more about the history and care for fractures.

Hippocrates

HIPPOCRATES

The earliest known care for a broken bone (after resetting) dates back to the early Egyptians of the 5th Dynasty (2400 B.C.) Hippocrates, a physician of the 4th century BC, wrote about immobilizing the bone to let it heal and also having the injured person do specific exercises to prevent atrophy of the muscles. His writings spoke of using cloth soaked in resin and wax. A little later on, starch was added to assist with quicker hardening. Throughout the next 1500 years, different solutions and pastes were used, such as egg whites, clay, and gum mixtures. If a person had a broken bone, they did a LOT of laying around.

Plaster of Paris had been used as a building material for centuries, but in the early 19th century, it became widely used for immobilizing broken bones. The injured limb would be reset and placed inside a wooden box and then the plaster poured over it, encasing the leg or arm in a rigid sleeve. This was heavy and made it impossible for the injured person to move.

Then in the 1830s, Louis Seutin, a doctor in the Belgian army, used strips of linen and carton (or pasteboard) splints that were wet and molded to the limb. The limb was then wrapped in bandages and coated with a starch solution and allowed to dry.

GAUZE COATED WITH PLASTER OF PARIS

Building on Seutin’s work, Antonious Mathijsen, a medical doctor in the Dutch army, found that strips of coarse cotton cloth into which dry plaster of Paris had been rubbed, could be applied and then moistened with a sponge or brush. The cast would harden as it was rubbed and would dry in minutes. Another version of this would be to very carefully dip the dressing or cloth into a bucket of water, so as not to dislodge the plaster of Paris already rubbed into the cloth, and then apply it to the limb. This lighter-weight, smaller cast made it possible for a person to move about while a bone healed.

WALKING CAST

Mathijsent wrote about his method and it was published in 1852 in a medical magazine, Repertorium. This became the standard for setting broken bones until 1950 with only a few minor changes—ie: the use of shellac to make the cast water-resistant. And alterations such as this picture–with a stub to enable walking and yet keeping the cast dry and clean.

So – knowing this – I could finally write the scene where Doc Graham took care of Wally Brown’s arm and actually used a plaster of Paris cast! Since I was a nurse in my past life and the history of medicine has always fascinated me, I had to be careful not to “talk technical” as I wrote the medical passages but to remember to use regular words. Instead of “new, granulation tissue” I described the skin as reddened, a bit puffy, and without any sign of purulence.

If you are interested in finding out more, here are a few links to check out:

http://hankeringforhistory.com/history-of-the-cast/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5420179
https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/setting-a-broken-bone-19th-century-medical-treatment-was-not-for-sissies

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Now for the Giveaway!

How about telling me what book you are reading this first month of the year!
Those who comment will have their names put into my Stetson for a drawing for my new release!

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THE PRAIRIE DOCTOR’S BRIDE

Nelson Graham has had every advantage in life.
Is it possible for this Boston-trained doctor and a woman who “lives off the land”
to find any common ground?

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“This book was a pure delight.” San Francisco Review of Books

 

For more information on this book and others, please visit and follow ~

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  |  BOOKBUB

 

It’s New Year’s Eve!

New Years Eve

It’s December 31st! What are you up to?

I feel like I am standing in the warm sun at the edge of sparkling blue swimming pool preparing to dive in!

Okay…that may be a bit over-dramatized. It’s bitterly cold here in the Midwest. And will be cold for several more months. But I am ready to turn the page on 2017 and start afresh with a spanking new year.

With three family birthdays between Christmas and New Year’s, I have always felt as though the holiday season is one long party…which for an introvert can be a bit overwhelming! By the time New Year’s Day comes, I am ready for things to calm down. Although I love the hubbub and the rich food and the gathering with friends and family in the days leading up to the first of January, New Year’s Day is special to me in that there are no expectations from “the outside.” None of those “shoulds” that accompany the holidays here in the States.

 

New Years

Tomorrow, I plan to enjoy a fire in the fireplace, write the birthdays in my new Mary Engelbreit calendar, and cook a large batch of chili while my husband and sons watch football on the T.V. There is a holiday puzzle out on the coffee table that we are almost finished and tomorrow is DONE day for that. In the evening, likely we will play a board game or two. Everything will be slower and winding down. I am looking forward to it!

Last year’s puzzle.

I look ahead to the new year with expectant hope. It is a blank page – and as a writer, a blank page fills me with excitement. How will I fill it up? What type of story will I write? I hope that what I write will entertain and bring encouragement to others and help them on this journey we are all on together.

Here’s wishing you a hopeful, happy New Year for 2018!

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Tomorrow, my new release, The Prairie Doctor’s Bride will be officially released in both formats – print and eBook!
I hope you will take a moment to check it out. Here are a few links…

To see reviews & a short excerpt, check my website:  KathrynAlbright.com

To purchase at Harlequin, check HERE.

To purchase at Amazon, check HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Kathryn’s Winner

 

Thank you to all who stopped by and joined in the conversation yesterday on my post of making lists!
The winner of the giveaway for an autographed copy of Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove is

DENISE!

 Congratulations!  

Please add a comment to this post
and let me know if you would prefer an ebook or a print copy!

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015