Tag: #KathrynAlbright

The Smoky Hill River

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I am working on a series of historical western romances for Harlequin that take place in the fictional town of Oak Grove in Logan County in northwest Kansas. The town is situated just north of the Smoky Hill River which has so many interesting stories about it that I wanted to share a few here.

The waters of the Smoky Hill River start in the high plains of eastern Colorado and flow east with many other rivers joining in, until it flows into and forms the Kansas River. From there the water flows into the Missouri River and then on to the Mississippi River.

Kansas MapFor many years, Comanche, Sioux, Kiowa, and Arapaho tribes hunted extensively along the river before being forced out by encroaching settlers. Game was plentiful in the extensive grasslands and fish populated the river.

There are differing stories as to how the river got its name. The Plains Indians, depending on which tribe, called it CHETOLAH OR OKESSE-SEBO. The early English and French explorers called it the RIVER OF THE PADOUCAS. It has since become known as the SMOKY HILL RIVER.

George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938—naturalist, explorer, author, anthologist) said that the name came from a large grove of cottonwood trees along the river on the Kansas/Colorado state line. The trees were very tall and could be seen for miles from the flat grasslands. It is said they looked like a cloud of smoke. The place was a gathering place for many tribes to camp and barter and visit with each other. It was also a burial grounds and a place of refuge for the Indians under Black Kettle of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864.

James R. Mead’s version differs slightly. He said that the river is named the Smoky Hill because of the buttes along the river, that when seen from afar appear hazy from smoke. James  R. Meade was a trapper and trader in the area during the years of 1850 to 1860.

Logan County,Kansas

The Smoky Hill Trail used by the Native Americans along the river was the shortest, fastest route west across Kansas. In 1858, it was traveled by those heading to the goldfields of Colorado or beyond. The Native Americans did not want to relinquish the rich land and skirmishes with settlers followed. The army set up several forts along the river. A road followed, and then as more settlers came, a railroad. In 1870, the Kansas-Pacific Railway to Denver was completed.

Smoky Hill River

The Smoky Hill River in the area of Logan County where my story takes place is only about three feet deep. Of course, this level changes dramatically depending on the rains and the melting snow. One bit of research I found interesting took place in 1868 when a drought plagued the plains and the river level was quite low. An immense herd of bison—hundreds of thousands of them (enough to cover a thirty-mile area)—came to the river to drink. The first bison were crowded out by the animals that followed, who in turn, were pushed out by those in the rear. It is said they drank the river dry!

I am collaborating with author, Lauri Robinson, in writing the stories of the people of Oak Grove. Laurie has the fortune of having lived in the area for a few years. Since I have never visited Logan County along the Smoky Hill River, I have had to lean on book and internet research of the area for my next three stories. If any of you have been there and have something you would like to add, suggest or correct—please comment! I have a feeling that I will only feel reassured of my information if I get a chance to visit the area myself. A road trip may just be in my future!

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Women’s Hat Fashions in the 1800s

 

Much has been written here on Petticoats and Pistols about the advent of the Stetson, cowboy hats, and bowlers. I wanted to balance that with a look at

Women’s Hat Fashions.

It seems there weren’t many professions for women in the 1800s where they could make a respectable living on their own. School teachers abound in many western historicals. The other occupation I’ve noticed is that of a milliner.

I’ve always had a thing for hats. I’m sorry that they aren’t worn more in today’s world. I love seeing the hats worn by Princess Kate and Queen Elizabeth. I have never see the Queen without a hat. Such elegance!

It seems in the past everyone wore hats. Why? What made them start wearing hats in the first place? Was it due to necessity? Or is a hat simply a frivolous accessory like a tie or jewelry? And other than for certain events like the Kentucky Derby, why don’t people wear hats today?

The first known example of a hat is from a tomb painting in Egypt – ca. 3200 BC. In the Middle Ages, the church decreed that all women must cover their hair. In 1529, the term “millaner” was first recorded. It referred to the haberdashers—men who traveled to Milan, Italy to obtain the best and most popular straw products for hats.

Hatmaking and millinery is the designing and manufacture of hats, with the term “milliner” more closely associated with the making of women hats. In the past, a millinery (owned by men and women) sold all types of clothing to men, women and children, including undergarments, neckerchiefs, handkerchiefs, ties, coats, and hats. It is only more recently that the term has become specialized for women’s hats more than anything else.

Source

Throughout the years, hats have served several functions for women:

  • A declaration of lifestyle. (Ex: Catholic nuns and their habit)
  • Protection from the elements. (Ex: Sunbonnets)
  • Protection from unwanted male attention. (Ex: Bonnets)
  • A declaration of social status. (The rich often wore larger, more expensive hats.)
  • For vanity.

It can also reveal personality and etiquette. (Don’t you love it when a gentleman tips his hat to a lady?)

1860 Straw Taffeta Bonnet

In early 1800’s America, bonnets were popular. Their brims increased in size until the late 1830s and some also sported netting or veils. In the 1840s, brim size began to decrease to reveal more of a woman’s face and hair. A ribbon frill or bow was often placed at the back of the bonnet to cover any exposed skin at the neck as this was considered an erogenous area. (Hence the high collars on dresses too!)

 

 

 

The tradition of wearing hats to horse racing events began with the Royal Ascot in Britain. They enforced a strict dress code for those attending the races. This tradition was adopted at other horse racing events. In 1875, the first Kentucky Derby initiated the largest hat fashion event in America. To this day, to attend without a hat is considered a social faux pas.

In the late 1890s, hat brims once again increased in size, some becoming so large that a woman would lose her balance.

 

Source

Hats were decorated with feathers, stuffed birds, silk flowers, lace, bows and ribbons. In Florida, 95% of the egret population was killed off for their beautiful white plumes to decorate hats for women. In 1901, early environmentalists pushed for President Theodore Roosevelt’s help to pass a law making it illegal to shoot the birds.

A bit of trivia:  January 15th marks the unofficial National Hat Day. This was started by hat enthusiasts for no other reason than to celebrate their favorite hats.

What about you? Do you like hats? What type? Would you like to see a comeback or do you think their time has passed?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of my story ~ His Springtime Bride which is part of the Anthology. (I’m ready for spring!)

Western Spring Weddings

New Release: GLORIA’S SONG

 

Release Day Gloria's Song

When love happens…

Do you question the cost?

About a year ago, a group of authors I blog with at another blog ~ Sweet American Sweethearts ~ decided to collaborate with a collection of stories that were loosely connected. We brainstormed and found that many of us enjoyed the pioneer craft of quilting. Out of that brainstorming session came the Series ~ Grandma’s Wedding Quilts.

Grandma Mary’s traditional gift to each of her grandchildren on their wedding day was a hand-pieced and hand-stitched quilt, made with love and woven with memories, wisdom, and a family legacy of enduring love. Starting in present day with the prequel, Hannah, the assistant curator at a museum, opens a trunk that has been donated and discovers an unusual sampler quilt. The strange connection she feels to that quilt leads her on an investigation that will eventually mean more to her personally than she can ever realize.

Even though the rest of the books in the Series are historical Western romances, my “granddaughter” Gloria, ended up in the east. This happened when her father, Stephen Palmer, left Grandma Mary’s ranch looking for a better shipping price for their cattle. He traveled east to negotiate with the big railroad tycoons and ended up marrying one of their daughters and settling down to help run his wife’s family business.

While the great west was being explored and settled, many other things were happening back east. The Gilded Age was in full swing with all of its disparities between the upper class and the lower. In the book industry, stories that went on to become classics were being published.

  • Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ
  • Treasure Island
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin
  • Pinocchio
  • The many westerns of Zane Grey ( Riders of the Purple Sage.)

It was also at this time that Tin Pan Alley in New York City was forming. Printed music fMusic for Gloriaor the masses increased in popularity as pianos, built right here in America, became more affordable to everybody. Popular music at the time of my story takes place included ~

  • Where Did You Get That Hat?
  • Home on the Range
  • Oh, Promise Me!
  • The Washington Post (march)
  • Down Went McGinty
  • My Old Kentucky Home
  • Clementine

Gloria’s Song is a story I have wanted to write for a long time–a story of disparity between the classes and the common thread of music that can speak to a person’s soul no matter how rich or poor one might be. I dedicated this book to my mother, whose name just happens to be…Gloria. My mother’s family hails from the Alexandria, Virginia area of the country where I have set this story. Much like the Gloria in my story, my mother is a well-versed pianist (and also a red-head) although that is where the similarities end.

*~*~*~*

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed,
soothes the mind and gives it a rest,
heals the heart and makes it whole,
flows from heaven to the soul.”
—AUTHOR UNKNOWN.

*~*~*~*

BLURB:
GLORIA’S SONG ~ Book #11 in the GRANDMA’S WEDDING QUILTS Series

Gloria Palmer has always done the proper thing expected of her as the daughter of a shipping tycoon. The approval of her family and friends mean everything. And yet, when the perfect suitor offers for her… she hesitates.

Colin McDougal has little use for those living on the fancy side of the trolley tracks. He is too busy managing the family pub and, in his spare time, writing down the lively tunes in his head. So, when Miss Palmer asks for his help to prepare for a music audition, he is flummoxed. What does he know of highbrow music?

But with each practice session, their feelings for each other grow. When it comes time for Gloria to make a choice between what is proper and what she desires, will she realize that if music can cross class lines, it might also be able to harmonize two hearts?

*~*~*~*

For an excerpt of Gloria’s Song, click HERE!

Grandma's Wedding Quilts Series Pic

You will want to enjoy the love stories of Gloria’s siblings and cousins! There are eleven in all! And remember to start with the prequel which sets up the entire series.

These Sweet Historical Romance Novellas and Novels are from Eleven USA Today Bestselling, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-winning Authors. Each book of this series is a sweet, clean (wholesome) romance, and each is complete with its own happily-ever-after.

To celebrate my new release, I would love to gift a copy of this ebook to one lucky person who comments. Sorry, I don’t have any print copies yet.

To enter the giveaway, just mention a favorite song that you have always loved from your childhood.

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