Immigrants in the Wild West~Vickie McDonough



When I think of the Old West, my first thoughts are of cowboys, gunfighters and Indians. Pioneers, comes next, and then carving out a life in the wilderness. But one thing that rarely comes to mind is immigrants, but the truth is, the majority of our American towns were settled by immigrants. Being of Irish descent, I’ve had several Irish heroines in my stories and even had one book set in Ireland.


Developing a character from a foreign country takes a lot of research, and for a writer, research is crucial, especially if you’re writing historicals. It’s difficult to get a grasp on the terrain and customs of a location that you haven’t visited, although with the help of the Internet, researching such things is much easier these days. One of the unexpected perks I’ve found to being a writer is getting to take research trips. No, I haven’t been to Ireland – yet, but so far, I’ve visited North Dakota; Fredericksburg, Texas; and most recently; Savannah, GA, and Charleston, SC. But the Fredericksburg trip is what I want to talk a little about today.


round_church1Fredericksburg is a quaint town located in the Texas Hill Country. It was settled by a group of 120 German colonists, and even today, you’ll see the German influence. Probably the most interesting sight is the round German church. The Vereins-Kirche, as it is called, has served as a church, school, fortress, and meeting hall. The structure, also called “The Coffee Mill Church” because of its unique shape, forms an octagon, with sides 18 feet long and high. A copula was built atop the eight-sided roof. A weathercock was placed on the tip, but in 1862 lightening knocked it down and a cross replaced it.


The Fredericksburg colonists planted corn, built storehouses to protect their provisions and trade goods, and prepared for the arrival of more immigrant trains. Within two years Fredericksburg had grown into a thriving town of almost 1,000, and today has over 11,000 residents. This charming town has many sights worth seeing and many delightful places to shop and dine. There is also somewhere around 100 bed and breakfasts in the area, many
of which are housed in homes built in the 1800s and filled with antique white-brick-housefurnishings.
I encourage you to visit if you get a chance.


Before I move on to talk about the reason I visited Fredericksburg, I want to tell you about something else unique to the area. The picture on the right is of a Sunday House. These small houses were usually owned by a rancher or farmer who lived a ways from town. His family would travel to town on Saturday morning for shopping or to sell their wares, maybe attend a dance or gathering on Saturday eve and stay overnight for church events on Sunday.


sunday_house-smSunday Houses were small, usually having only two rooms. Although some, like the one on the left, had 1½ stories. A gabled roof formed an attic, which was usually reached from an outside stairway, (Note the stairs on the far left) that served as the children’s sleeping quarters. The ground floor usually had a single room with a lean-to kitchen behind and a slant-roofed porch. There was no running water or bathroom or bathing facilities. How’s that for a nice vacation home?



In The Anonymous Bride, the first book in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, which debuts next April, I have a Sunday House. It’s the residence the town has provided for
their marshal. I just loved those little houses and had to use one in a story.


 The Anonymous Bride is the tale of a town marshal who suddenly has three mail-order brides come to town, each expecting to marry him. The only thing is—he didn’t order a bride.


wild_west_christmas_-_image1I have two new releases to tell you about. Wild West Christmas is set in the Texas Hill Country and is the reason I visited Fredericksburg. This is a novella collection written by four different authors, but the stories are tied together. Wild West Christmas is about the spunky Ames sisters, who live on a ranch with their pa. Since they have no brothers, the sisters help run the ranch. Each gal has a special talent like shooting, tracking or roping. My heroine is Sarah, and her specialty is training horses. She hates being inside doing womanly things. My hero is a half Mexican/half Scottish horse trainer who Sarah’s pa hires to take her place. Needless to say, Sarah is fuming. When cattle go missing, she wonders if the new man is responsible. Has he stolen their cattle, along with her heart? And yes, before I get a bunch of letters, I know that it rarely snows in the Texas Hill Country, but the snow does create a neat effect on the cover. J


Lastly, I’d like to mention another Christmas book called A Blue and blueandgraychristams1Gray Christmas. Surrender yourself to the forces of love in four engaging Civil War Christmas romances. Join up with Leah Woods as she searches for her missing fiancé in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Stick to your guns with Arabella Lambert as she pledges her allegiance to pacifist Barry Birch, a man labeled a coward. Ride out the storm with Rachel Thornton as she resists her attraction to the wounded artist James Galloway. Saddle up with Confederate-born Hannah McIntosh as she falls for Chris Haley, an embittered Union soldier. Can these couples forge an everlasting union in the tide of civil war?

Have you read or written about a fascinating immigrant? Or have you stumbled across something interesting while researching your book? Leave a comment about it, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win your choice of Wild West Christmas or A Blue and Gray Christmas.


I’m putting together an email mailing list to announce the release of The Anonymous Bride. If you’d like to be on the list and receive my occasional newsletters, please contact me at  


Thanks so much for allowing me to be a guest again of Petticoats and Pistols. As always, I’ve enjoyed it.

Vickie’s Website

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19 thoughts on “Immigrants in the Wild West~Vickie McDonough”

  1. Hello Vickie! Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols. Fascinating post about immigrants. Until recently I lived in Washington DC, a city with a large number of folks who’ve come here from other countries. It’s a huge challenge to adapt to both language and new customs. Forging a new life takes guts!

    Your books look wonderful! Christmas is almost here, isn’t it?

  2. Hi Vickie,

    Welcome back to our little corner of the world! We’re always thrilled to have you blogging with us.

    Fredericksburg is my favorite place in the Hill Country. There are tons of quaint little houses and history leaps out from everywhere. Sunday houses are new to me. I didn’t know those farmers and ranchers built a second house in town so they wouldn’t have to travel so far on Sunday. Bet they used them a lot.

    Love the cover and the blurb for “Anonymous Bride.” You sure piqued my interest. Sounds like a great story. I’ll definitely have to have it. Your two anthologies intrigue me too. I love reading anthologies and how neat that you interwove the stories in Wild West Christmas!

  3. Vickie,Oh I want to read Blue an Gray Christmas so Bad! Ive read the other one an it was great! Im a Christmas book reader all year round,keeps me with a good spirit when its still hot outside,thanks for coming back!


  4. What an interesting blog. I always enjoy background information on books. My family has been doing genealogy research for quite a few years and it was very interesting to find out where all our ancestors came from. It makes for great stories to tell our children and grandchildren about.

  5. I love your book covers, they bring a smile to my face looking at them… enjoying the blurbs about your books… 😀 More books to add to my list…

  6. Wild West Christmas and A Blue and Gray Christmas both book sounds wonderful.Like the cover and the blurb for “Anonymous Bride.”Please enter me in the giveaway.Thank you.

  7. Now is the time I start reading Christmas books and anthologies are perfect at this busy time. I’ve always enjoyed stories about immigrants. All my grandparents were from Sicily and I loved hearing all the stories from the old country and how they got to and managed in their “new” country.

  8. Great post! I love reading the post on this blog! You learn so much history here! Your books sound fabulous and I can’t wait to read them!

  9. In Montana Rose, my hero is stronge Irish. His mother is Irish, not his father, but his mother loves the old country and named him Fitzgerald O’Neill. Everyone calls him red for his bright red hair, just like his mothers.

  10. I really enjoy anything about history, I like to read about the old west and how hard the people had when they were on the wagon trains and then once they were homesteading. My great-grandparents came from Germany and pretty much did the same thing, they settled in Walhalla, SC which is where I grew up and they are buried there in the old German cementery,


  11. I’ve read Lauraine Snelling’s Read River of the North series. they immigrate from Noway. Thanks for the wonderful post. I’d love to win your Wild West Christmas. I have the other one thanks.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  12. Hi Vickie – What an interesting blog! I had never heard of the Sunday houses! I can’t think of a famous immigrant story other than my Dad’s ancestor’s were part of a Dutch colony that came to America in the 1600s. I don’t think they made it out west though!
    All three books you mentioned sound wonderful! Best wishes on your releases! Hard choice as I love anthologies and I love Civil war stories!

  13. Thanks, everyone, for your nice comments about my books and the covers. I want to apologize for not being here sooner to talk to y’all. I was at a conference and could not get onto the Internet. Ack! Three days without email or Internet. Thanks so much for reading my blog and commenting. Congratulations to the book winners!!

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