Old Time Medicine Not for the Faint of Heart

Val Hansen YEEHAW!   


 It’s Award Winning Author


         Valerie Hansen


Hello again!

Here’s an intro to THE DOCTOR’S NEWFOUND FAMILY, one of the stories I promised you last time. It always amazes me how much material is available in real history. There may be problems in politics NOW, but they can’t hold a candle to what was going on in 1855 San Francisco. (by the way, holding a raw egg up to a candle flame was how you used to pick out the rotten ones!) Works for me.

I loved researching “modern” medicine, too. What a hoot. Makes me wonder what they’re going to say about our cutting edge techniques a hundred years or so in the future. Talk about scary. Some of the old books in my collection deal with turn-of-the-century treatments, such as putting metal contraptions inside the poor women who had destroyed their bodies by lacing themselves into tight corsets all their lives. Ouch! By submitting to that torture, they could continue to follow fashion and still – maybe – bear children. No wonder men who had big families usually had had more than one or two wives in the process.

 You’ll find, in my favorite novels, that lives tend to turn out pretty well, at least in the end. That’s because it’s my choice how to manipulate the circumstances and make that happen. I’ve gotten letters from a few readers who are of the opinion I have all the answers. Nope. Not me. But I will say I understand the role that a strong Christian faith played in those days because I can still see that element right here, today, in my own.

orphanageNow, if I were half as smart as my characters are, I wouldn’t have a care in the world. Of course, my parents weren’t murdered and I’m not stuck raising three younger siblings, all by myself, in a society where women aren’t permitted to do many honest jobs. That’s the scenario I set up for Sara Beth Reese. Enter Dr. Taylor Howard, who actually went to medical school, such as it was in 1855. Most doctors apprenticed in those days, instead.

Meigg Wharf

 The crooked politicians and wealthy scions of San Francisco do all they can to not only rob Sara Beth and her brothers of their father’s meager estate, they set out to eliminate her when she’s too smart for them. If it weren’t for the Vigilance Committee and General Sherman and the loose handling of gold dust by the U.S. Mint….. Sorry, I can’t tell you more or I might spoil the story. J    

 I’m including a few pictures. Some pertain to the story while others are merely to add to my credibility when I write about guns and western lore. I can’t bake a biscuit over a campfire – at least I don’t think I can – but I’m quite capable of fetching fresh meat for the stew. I know, I know. It’s kind of un-ladylike. But I like to eat. And I never shoot anything I don’t intend to consume – except for an occasional armadillo that’s rooting up my garden. They carry leprosy, as well as other diseases, so I figure I’m doing everybody a favor. No, I’m not joking. I told you I was up on medical facts.

 Till we meet again, probably around Feb. 2011 when I tackle the 1906 San Francisco earthquakes and fires, keep your corset loose enough to breathe, don’t trust crooked sheriffs, support widows and orphans like the Ladies’ Protection and Relief Society did, and make sure your doctor went to a genuine medical school.




Woo-hoo! Val is giving away three copies of her exciting new book The Doctor’s Newfound Family.  Don’t be shy now, you hear?  Join in the discussion and you could be one of the lucky winners.


 The Doctor’s Newfound Family (Love Inspired Historical)


Love discovered in the most unexpected place…

 He found his calling ministering to the downtrodden in San Francisco. But in Sara Beth Reese, Dr. Cole Hayward finds something more. The beautiful young woman’s spirit and kindness warm Cole’s heart, but it’s her fearless determination that drives him to action. Sara Beth has vowed to clear the name of her murdered father, and she’ll face any obstacle to achieve her goal. Orphaned, alone in the world—except for the three younger brothers in her care—she needs Cole’s protection, whether she’ll admit it or not. As danger escalates, Cole will risk everything for the right to make this newfound family his to love and protect for a lifetime.


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33 thoughts on “Old Time Medicine Not for the Faint of Heart”

  1. Sara Beth sounds like a strong independant woman; you go girl! I like that Sara has a fierce determination but I’m sure it holds her steadfast in all her dealings and looking after the boys.

    I found this blog very interesting about the corsets and the women who put themselves through the torture.

    Thanks for sharing and being here today.

  2. Hi Val! It’s great to have you at Petticoats & Pistols! The new book sounds terrific. I always like doctor stories, which you know 🙂 Working with you on the LIH “After the Storm” continuity was a blast.

    I’m sure glad corsets are no longer in style!

  3. Sarah Beth and her 3 brothers orphaned in San Fran, crooked politicians…. I’m wondering why the good doctor was murdered….what did he know???
    intrigue! fascinating!

    I’m wondering how she met the idealistic, young doctor? after the attempt on her life??

    Great intro, I want the answers now.

    My dad graduated from Temple Univ ‘s Medical school in the early 40’s. He had some gruesome tales of how they learned how to do surgery.

  4. Hey there! Nothing like a little danger to keep me on the edge of my seat! I look forward to reading Sara Beth and Cole’s love story.

    Thanks for great background material (who knew?) and providing your “hook” blurb. Have a great weekend!

  5. Hi, Valerie! “The Doctor’s Newfound Family” sounds like a wonderful romance. San Francisco must be one of the most atmospheric cities of all time–such cultural diversity! Dr. Cole would have his hands full trying to establish an orderly medical practice in such a rambunctious setting. Those old-timey medical treatments ranged from helpful to horrendous! I have seen many pictures of antique medical items which look more like instruments of torture!!! I love the movie “San Francisco” (1936), starring Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy. The scenes of The Great Earthquake remain powerful to this day.

  6. Good Morning all! This story sounds so great can’t wait to read it. I enjoy your books so I’m sure this one will be no different.

    Have a great day off to plan a baby shower.

  7. Good morning, all. So glad to be guesting here again!

    I do need to call your attention to one glitch in the back-cover blurb. You see, I had chosen Dr. Taylor Hayward’s name and had written the whole book when an editor asked me to change Taylor. Well, I did. And that was the way the blurb was written. THEN THE NAME WAS CHANGED BACK TO TAYLOR, in the published book. So, the poor doctor has an identity crisis! I’ve already heard from one reader who wanted to know when the hero doctor, “Cole” was going to appear! I think the reason for the change to my original name was because there was a genuine doctor who treated James King and his name was actually “Beverly Cole”, although he isn’t a crucial part of this story. As I said, many of these folks are not only real historical characters, they actually did experience life as I’ve portrayed it.

    More later!

  8. Mornin’ Val and welcome back to the Junction! I had to laugh as you speculated at how our medical procedures would be viewed in the future. I’m a Trekkie and one of my favorite movie scenes deals with just that scenario. Congratulations on The Doctor’s Newfound Family!

  9. Doctor books and Historical books are my favorites so to have both in one is awesome. I Sarah sounds amazing. Have a great weekend.
    Pick me……..lol
    Hugs, Cathy

  10. Funny. I was questioned several times about some of the medical references in this manuscript and because I’m so persnickety I was able to cite published medical papers dealing with the subject – and who had made the so-called discovery. For instance, Pasteur and Lister popularized cleanliness for doctors but it was Ignaz Semmelweiss who first claimed it stopped deaths from infection after childbirth. That poor man was ridiculed, broke down mentally and died in an asylum. It was years later that his methods became popular but my doctor, Taylor Hayward, had read his treatises – of course – and washed his hands with a bleach and water solution between patients. He was so cutting-edge. Pun intended!


  11. Oh my, I love Doctor stories from the 1800’s, and I love that cover, just adorable! LOL at the back cover blurb mistake, Though, I like the name Cole, it sounds like it belongs to a gunfighter, not a Dr. Taylor is better, IMO. All the best for your release Valerie!!

  12. Hi Valerie, welcome to the Junction. Your book sounds fabulous and I would love to read it. I love reading medical stories. Also a lot of my favorite shows on the TV is the medical shows.

  13. Thanks for the information about your book and the photos. There’s something extra intriguing about black & white photos to me. Not sure what it is.

  14. First, thanks to all who have commented.

    I think black-and-white photos help take us back in time. I even like old movies that aren’t in color. It lets us use our imagination, I guess.

    When I was copying some of my ancestry pictures I used a color film to get the sepia tones. Now, with digital, they’d be much easier to do accurately. Back when I was doing that it was because we’d come across really old prints and tin-types that had been well-preserved because they’d been stuck away in a trunk. Rather than display them and take the chance they’d fade, I made copies and hung some of those.

    Don’t have much to look at from my dad’s side of the family because he was born and raised in Norway and when the family immigrated they didn’t bring a lot with them. My mother’s ancestors are quite a stern looking bunch, probably because they had to hold still for so long to be photographed! At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I have a couple of great, great grandmothers who look sturdy enough to whip anybody, man or woman.


  15. I also wonder what people will say about our ‘modern’ medicine a hundred years into the future – I guess it’s all relative, but if I did time-travel back to the 19th century – hope I wouldn’t have to go to any hospitals 🙂

  16. Hi Val. Thank you for the great post. Having worked in the medical field for several years, I’ve always been interested in reading books that have a medical line within it. When I walk through Civil War museums, I’m the one always standing in front of the medical instruments (saw & pliers) and my mind wanders with ‘what ifs?’.

    Armadillos carry Leprosy??? Really??? Very interesting. I learned something new today so thank you very much (I always try to learn something new every day).

    Your book sounds like a real winning read and I would love to win a copy.

    Cindy W.


  17. I have enjoyed reading your Love Inspired books before and The Doctor’s Newfound Family sounds like another wonderful read! 😀

  18. Hey, Val!
    Sounds as if you’ve come up with another winner! I’ve always appreciated your in-depth historical research and your expertise in including historical details that bring readers into the heart of the story. You sure know how to portray gutsy heroines that bring your stories alive. Best wishes on sales and future books.
    Irene Brand

  19. Enjoyed reading the comments. I am always looking for different authors to read. This book sounds intriguing.

  20. Ah yes, my glamorous life. Just give me a good dog at my feet, a loaded pistol on my hip, fresh air and a forest for hiking and I’m happy. Since I really do have all that right here in the Ozarks, I must be delirious!

    Good evening all, and thanks for dropping by to visit. I had a little access trouble earlier but just managed to get back here to post and wrap this up.


  21. About those eggs. It is called candling when you back light an egg. It is used to check eggs to see if they are fertilized and a chick is growing. It is really neat to watch as the dark area gets larger. You just put it back under the chicken or in the incubator. If it has been there for days or weeks and there is no dark spot or it isn’t getting bigger, then throw out the egg, it is probably spoiled.

    Like the sound of your story. Women were often at the mercy of too many ruthless and dishonest individuals. I look forward to finding out how your heroine handles them.

    Best of luck with the release of your book.

  22. Val,

    Your new book sounds fascinating. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to be a doctor in the 1800s much less for a young woman to have to raise her three brothers.

  23. thanks for sharing–your book sounds very interesting!
    loved all the tidbits you shared
    a metal contraption to fix problems from the corset?
    oh do go on

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