I’m delighted to be back as a guest at Petticoat and Pistols. I feel right at home with authors and readers who love history as much as I do.
My visit coincides with the imminent release of my second book Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical on May 12. J The new book continues the stories of children who rode the orphan train into Noblesville, Indiana and turned lives upside down, as children are apt to do. My debut novel Courting Miss Adelaide introduced the heroine of the sequel, Mary Graves, the town doctor’s daughter, a widow with three sons—two from her marriage and one from the orphan train. A handsome stranger blows into town peddling his “elixir of health.” Mary is outraged by the claim’s Luke makes for his phony medicine. Or so she sees his tonic. Worse, she soon suspects Luke has an interest in her foster son, Ben. Then the real trouble begins. J
To write Courting Miss Adelaide, the first book set in Noblesville in 1897, I researched the town and the “orphan train.” I talked about this phenomenon in my September 2008 post at https://petticoatsandpistols.com/2008/09/page/5/
To learn more about sending orphans from New York City to homes in the Midwest and beyond visit http://www.orphantraindepot.com/index.html
With Courting the Doctor’s Daughter I needed to research herbal remedies, looking for an ingredient with medicinal properties that fit the image I had of Luke’s medicine. In Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, I found what I sought—catnip. J Not only cats appreciate this herb. Uses for humans include: digestion and sleeping aids that also eases colds, colic, nervous headaches and fevers. Catnip was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1842-1882. In more recent times, Varro Tyler, Ph.D., author of The Honest Herbal found a bit of evidence that catnip may be a sedative. The Health Food Shoppe, a health food store near me carries catnip in capsule form. The manager said it’s used to calm fussy infants.
Has anyone used catnip for medicinal purposes? Or do you have an herbal home remedy you’ve found to be effective?
To write historical fiction, I keep several books close at hand. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary dates words and The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms dates phrases. The Timetables of American History, Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s and American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs are invaluable.
One of my favorite research books is a replica of an 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalogue called Consumers Guide. The Chicago based company sent their catalogue postage free to millions of Americans. In this 770 page catalogue a variety of merchandise is interspersed with sales appeals, testimonials and illustrations of goods that I find fascinating. I can imagine the excitement these catalogues created when they arrived in homes. The replica catalogue was published in 1976 by Chelsea House Publishers and is a wealth of information for historical writers. I’ve used it to research cook stoves, clothing, hats, tools, watches, books, groceries, furniture, guns and farm, harness and saddles and kitchen equipment.
I’ve found a few of the family pieces we own that I treasure as well as some I’ve collected over the years. I say I treasure because my husband could care less. But we have an old fold-up fan, wooden pitchfork and a picture of my husband’s ancestor Daniel W. Squire wearing his Union Civil War uniform. We also have two of the letters he wrote while he was away. This line from his letter intrigues me: “We are within 32 miles of Rebel troops and know one cartridge in the camp and likely to bee marched into the brigade in this fix.” Though I can only assume Daniel fought in that war, he made it home unscathed, only to die from the effects of dysentery.
Do any of you own an antique you’d like to share with us today?
The Drug Department of the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue lists a vast array of homeopathic medicines, remedies, bitters and tonics that include laudanum, paregoric and turpentine. Cures for worms, obesity, asthma, nerves, rheumatism are only a few of the medicines available through the mail in 1897.
A couple of my favorite cures in the Drug Department include:
Arsenic Complexion Wafers
“These wafers can be taken without any fear of harm resulting from their use. They are excellent medicine for giving to the complexion a clearness and brilliancy not obtainable by external applications, at the same time they improve the general health, causing the figure to grow plump and round.”
Undoubtedly a little arsenic is good for us. Anyone need additional help to grow plump and round? Price: $.40
The Princess Bust Developer and Bust Cream or Food
“If nature has not favored you, with that greatest charm, bosom, full and perfect, send for the Princess Bust Developer…”
The bust developer resembles a toilet plunger, only it’s made of nickel and aluminum and came in two sizes—four and five inches in diameter. It isn’t mailable on account of the weight. So perhaps lifting this object of torture added to those curves.
“The bust cream is a delightful cream preparation…and forms just the right food required for the starved skin and wasted tissues.”
I keep picturing some farm wife saving her egg money to buy this combo for the price: $1.46.
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For a chance to win a copy of Courting the Doctor’s Daughter leave a comment. In fact, if you missed the chance to read my debut, I’ll give away a copy of Courting Miss Adelaide too. Just specify which book you’d like to win.