Have Trunk Will Travel


linda-sig.jpgEverything was much more complicated and involved than it is today. When we get ready to hit the road, we throw a few things in a suitcase and take off. We don’t worry about having enough clothes because we know if run out we can either go buy more or find a Wal-Mart or a Laundromat.


In the 1800’s, a woman had to plan for days, maybe weeks of what to take for an extended stay. Think of packing long dresses and voluminous petticoats alone and that’s not going into all the other necessities a woman would have to have. Their belongings took up a lot of space. It would require a trunk.


There were a lot of different styles to choose from.


THE CIVIl WAR TRUNK – flat topped, of wood with metal bands


Steamer Trunk 

THE STEAMER TRUNK – most common, has flat top and was covered with canvas and wood slats with metal banding. This photo is of one I used to have. During one of my many moves it came all to pieces. I didn’t know there are places that repair them so I got rid of it. I’m kicking myself.


Jenny Lind Trunk 

THE JENNY LIND – leather-covered, iron or brass bands with large brass studs, curved inward on the sides giving it an hourglass look.



Jodi's trunk 002THE SARATOGA – camel-back or domed top, covered with leather or embossed metal. This photo is of a trunk that belongs to Jodi Thomas. She keeps it in her office where she writes.



STAGECOACH TRUNKS – leather-covered with steel bands & large brass studs



HALF-TRUNKS – as the name suggests, half the size of the others


 Jan's Trunk  1

THE BARREL-STAVE TRUNK – has a domed top but is only style featuring horizontal slats. This trunk belongs to my sister, Jan Sikes. Her husband restored it for her many years ago.



WARDROBE TRUNKS – monsters, largest & heaviest made, designed to stand on end and when opened ½ (usually the right side) is drawers – the other side hanging clothes & usually a shoe box, sometimes contained an ironing board (Goodness gracious, they certainly wanted to be prepared!)

wardrobe trunk 


These are only a few. I’m sure there were tons of others. As you can see some were small, some large and some were monsters. The quality probably depended on a person’s finances. I’m sure more than once they broke open and the contents scattered everywhere. I’d have been completely mortified.



Which type would you most likely to have used back then? Big, small, fancy or plain?


In honor of the release of our HEARTS AND SPURS anthology by Prairie Rose Publications in which I have a short story entitled, “The Widow’s Heart,” I’m giving away a $25 Amazon e-gift card.


For more information about me or my books visit www.LindaBroday.com.

Hearts and Spurs Med

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

54 thoughts on “Have Trunk Will Travel”

  1. Wow I had know idea of how many different kinds of trunks there were! sometimes I wish we still used them but im sure the airlines people would not like that hahah. I think I would use the THE JENNY LIND. I would love to find a real trunk like this and put in my house!!

  2. We have my paternal grandfather’s steamer trunk in my mom’s basement. He died in 1927 at the age of 60. It’s still in useable condition. Pretty basic but cumbersome.

    I also like the Saratoga. It makes a statement while looking gorgeous,reliable and practical!

    I took a smaller, modern version of a steamer chest to college(it was more rectangular in shape and not as high). I still have it. It held my sweaters. It was yellow and I believe I bought it at Target.

  3. Shoot, I can’t afford to travel today. I’m sure back then, I would be one that didn’t travel either. But, I would have dreamed of one of the fancy wardrobe trunks.

  4. I think I would like a wardrobe trunk myself. Seems more practical to have to me.
    I have grandmothers old trunk. It’s in great shape to be as old as it is. I love that old trunk.

  5. I would probably have had to have The Steamer….a girl needs her things! I do own a Saratoga trunk. Trunks make such good storage spaces. I know you could kick yourself for getting rid of the pieces of your trunk but I would have done the same thing. I didn’t know they could be repaired either.

  6. Wow, Linda, puts traveling in a whole new light. Guess those ladies wouldn’t have been able to choose to “carry on” their luggage for a short flight. Bet those trunks would rack up a lot of extra costs in today’s travel world. Thanks for the great pics. I was totally transported back in time.

  7. Wow, I did not know there were that many types! I have two steamer trunks in my possession. One is in good condition, the other one’s outside is not so great but the inside is wonderful yet. I like the look of the Jenny Lind trunk – I might have picked that one if my finances allowed it. 🙂 I’d probably have had a medium sized one since I’m not very fond of having tons of clothes. lol

  8. Good Morning, Cori………I’m glad you like my blog. Trunks have always fascinated me. I love the different styles and shapes. I’m still kicking myself that mine came apart when I moved and I got rid of it. I think my mom must’ve been a trunk person because she gave my sister and I each one. I used mine for a hope chest before I got married. Yes, the Jenny Lind is really nice. And very sturdy. I’d love to find one. If I ever do, I’m buying it!

    Wishing you luck in the drawing!!

  9. Good Morning Sally……….I’m glad you found my blog interesting. The Saratoga is definitely attractive. And it’s very sturdy. Jodi keeps her grandmother’s quilts in hers.

    Good Luck in the drawing!!

  10. Good Morning Laurie G…………I see you’re a trunk person also. Don’t ever let your grandfather’s steamer get away from you. You’ll regret it if you do. Yes, I know they’re cumbersome and heavy but they’re a piece of history. Not that many people have that.

    Good luck to you in the Drawing!!

  11. Good Morning Amy C………….Thanks for coming over to comment. The wardrobe trunk would be very practical, but I can only imagine the string of cuss words the men lifting it would say. Oh my gosh! Those things sure would’ve been like moving a mountain when they were full. But a lady, both then and now, loved to have everything she needed with her.

    What a treasure to have your grandmother’s old trunk! I hope you never let it go. A lot of people these days are using old trunks in the living room for coffee tables. That’s a thought if you don’t know what to do with it.

    Wishing you lots of luck in the drawing!!

  12. Good Morning Melanie………..How nice that you own a Saratoga! They do make nice storage places. They also make nice coffee tables in the living room if you want to display it and have the space. That steamer of trunk of mine caused quite a stir every time we moved. I actually think my husband was glad when the thing fell apart. Of course, he denied it. But I saw that glint in his eye.

    Wishing you tons of luck in the drawing!

  13. Good Morning Janine………Travel sure would’ve been an ordeal back in the 1800’s. I can’t even imagine all the things that had to be arranged and then the packing. I probably wouldn’t have traveled much either if I’d lived back then. But, I think (I don’t know for sure because I’ve never been) it would be just as difficult traveling abroad. I have a friend who goes regularly and she packs rolls and rolls of toilet paper. Don’t ask me why. LOL

    Good Luck in the Drawing!!

  14. Good Morning Renee………..You made me laugh just picturing someone trying to stuff one of these things in an overhead bin!! And there are so many crazy people out there that would try it. I rarely choose to carry on luggage. I like to check it and forget about it. Love the freedom of not having to mess with pulling it around like a dog on a leash. I’m glad you found my blog interesting.

    Have a great day, my Filly sister!!

  15. Good Morning Susan P……………I see you’re a very practical person. I am also. I refuse to lug around more than one suitcase. If I can’t get everything in one, I leave something out. After all, there’s a Walmart on every block just about. Back in the 1800’s I’d be one of those women who owned a half trunk. Maybe that’s why I didn’t fight harder to keep the pieces of my steamer. Take care of yours. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and you won’t be able to replace it. You own pieces of history, girl.

    Wishing you lots of luck in the drawing!!

  16. Loved it, Linda. Your post sent me back in time–you know time travel is popular these days. Back about 55 years to a shed at my grandparents little two room house near the railroad tracks in Waurika, OK. It was my favorite place. There was a big cast iron stove in the corner, I loved the way it roared in the winter when Grandpa fed it. There were big metal buckets for bathing! But, Grandma had two STEAMER trunks that I loved. I spent hours digging in them. I found treasures like old dresses, hats, petticoats, books, letters, photos, even some “jewels”, and other things I thought were special.

    I have no idea what happened to those trunks. They disappeared when Grandma moved to a nursing home. I wish had at least one of them. I do have some of the photos that were stored in those trunks.

    Which trunk would I choose? Probably a Steamer trunk. But, if I had the money and the social standing I would have to have the Wardrobe trunk and a ladies maid to go with me on my many travels around the world.

    Great post, Linda!

  17. Oh, I love seeing my trunk here on this blog! I didn’t know the official name for it, but it originally belonged to our grandmother Clark, who died before I was born. It is truly a prized possession. Great blog, Sister!

  18. Linda, Really interesting variety of trunks! I guess I would choose the wardrobe trunk as it had the ironing board. Would probably made you a little more presentable after you arrived. thank you

  19. Good Morning Winona………..Very interesting about that little two house that you have so many fond memories of. Yes, I wish you had one of those steamers too. How fun to rummage around in them and find such wonderful treasures! Yes, a wardrobe trunk would be kinda neat if it came with a ladies’ maid. LOL And strong hefty men to lift it. As long as they’re handsome.

    Glad you enjoyed my post. I’ve entered you in the drawing!

  20. Hi Linda, congratulations on your new release. I love the cover!

    Throw a few things in a suitcase? Obviously you’ve never traveled with my husband. Back then, it would have been a wardrobe trunk for him and a half-trunk for me. Opposites really do attract.

  21. Good Morning Jan………Hope you’re having a ball in New Orleans. I’ve love to be there with you. Glad I could show off your beautiful trunk! I can’t believe our grandmother kept it and passed it on. She had so few possessions during the Depression with them being migrant workers. Just amazes me. I’m glad you have it and treasure it. I know how much it means to you.

    Enjoy your trip! Love you too.

  22. Good morning Jackie McNutt………Now you hit on something I’ve long wondered. You know those long dresses and other clothes got terribly wrinkled in those trunks. They would’ve definitely needed ironing when they got where they were going. Wonder how they managed all that if they didn’t take an ironing board with them?? Indeed, something to ponder. Glad you liked my trunks.

    I’ve entered you in the drawing. Good luck!

  23. Good Morning Margaret……….I can see this. How odd that your husband has to take everything except the kitchen sink with him when he travels. Too funny. Men usually are the ones who only take the bare necessities. My dad and both my husbands only took one shirt, one pair of pants and a razor. That’s it. No matter how long we intended to stay gone. I kid you not. Talk about frugal. And my dad was the same way inside the car. He didn’t want anything except us and maybe a blanket because me and my sister always froze to death. One year we went to California. (Now he didn’t stop anywhere either except for gas. Period) My mom hid some sandwiches in the car for us. He threw a fit. But he sure ate one when he got hungry! I loved him dearly but he had some funny ways.

    Hope you have a great day, my Filly sister!

  24. Hi CrystalGB………I’m so glad you stopped by to chat. Glad you liked my blog. I think the Jenny Lind is the most attractive of all the trunks. But then, what else would an actress/singer travel with? LOL

    I’ve entered you in the drawing!!

  25. Hi Anon1001……..I’m glad you liked my trunk pictures. They were practical and necessary for travel in the old West. I like seeing how people did things back then and comparing it with how they are today. Kinda interesting.

    Good luck in the drawing!!

  26. I have seen THE STEAMER TRUNK before. I love old trunks to store quilts and things in them. I use and old toy chest to store mine in. Some of these trunks you have pics of are beautiful and I would love to have them. I love the Jenny Lind one and I can see it setting at the foot of my bed right now.

  27. Hi Colleen……….Wow! That antique chest must be gorgeous. I hope your mom lets you have it when she decides to get rid of it. These things are priceless, especially when they’re passed down for generations.

    Good luck in the drawing!!

  28. Hi Quilt Lady………..Thanks for stopping by to chat. Always love it when you come. I hear you. That Jenny Lind would be such an addition to the foot of a bed or even in the living room for a coffee table. I’d die to own one of these. Just fabulous. Hang on to that old toy chest though. Bet it’s equally as nice.

    Good luck in the Drawing!!

  29. Hi Linda! What a fun post! I love old trunks; the Steamer and the Saratoga are my favorites. When I see an old trunk, I love to imagine the places it traveled and the treasures it once held!

  30. Hi Britney……….Thanks for coming over to chat. You remind me of myself. I love looking at old things and imagining where they’ve been and who touched them. I especially do that with the old Morgan silver dollars I collect. I hold them in my hand and imagine them being in the pocket of an outlaw, or a miner, or a cowboy who’s been on the trail driving cattle to market, or maybe in the hands of gambler. Lord, sometimes my imagination runs away with me. I guess that’s why I’m a writer.

    I’ve entered you in the drawing!!

  31. Fabulous post, Linda. Looks I have a “civil war” trunk right here in my writing room! I got it at a farm auction during my college days. I am trying to travel lighter these days LOL but I think I’d have needed a massive Saratoga back then because I’d love to wear all those glorious hats! I’m thinking right now about all the trunks in Titanic that “Cal” ordered loaded, with a big tip to “my good man.” xoxox

  32. Hi Linda
    My dad had an army trunk that looks very much like the first picture. He had several but only one survived through the years. It has such sentimental value and I love it. Great pictures~!

  33. Thanks for this fascinating information and the trunks are so interesting. I prefer a smaller one, The Jenny Lind.

  34. I am captivated with the beautiful pics which represent a time long gone but I would treasure the Jenny Lind trunk greatly.

  35. I have one of those steamer trunks, Linda. My mom bought it at a yard sale, and it was filled with china. I’m sure my dad grumbled all the way home with it. LOL It’s in my attic now, and I’ve promised it to one of my kids (can’t remember which one now!) when they actually get settled enough to take it. This is a great post! Love all these different kinds of trunks–I had no idea that these “categories” existed.

    I loved your story, The Widow’s Heart in Hearts and Spurs. What a tale!


  36. Hi Tanya……….How neat that you have a trunk in your writing room. That would be cool. Bet it puts you in the mood for writing those great western stories of yours. I sure wish I could stumble across one of these in an auction. Since you bought yours several years ago I bet you got it dirt cheap too. I’m glad my blog caught your interest.

    Wishing you a wonderful day!

  37. Hi Charlene……..I’m glad you liked my blog. I’m sure you really treasure that old army trunk of your dads. Having these little remembrances of our parents and grandparents really helps us not miss them quite so much.

    By the way, big congratulations. I subscribe to RT and they sent the e-version out today. If you haven’t seen it yet, they gave you 4 1/2 stars plus Top Pick!!! I cannot wait to read The Texas Renegade Returns!!

  38. Years ago we had one that looked like the first photo, The Civil War Trunk. It moved around with us and we never thought it had any value. It finally fell apart in the 1950’s and went to the shed. I believe the kids used it to play in.
    The material of the clothes in the past was heavy-duty compared to today’s. We have such light-weight materials that are wonderful, I can’t imagine using the heavy cottons and others that could be ruined if washed in soap and water. And remember you had to leave room for the HATS! OMG, those hats with the feathers. Some looked like you killed 5 birds just for the feathers. That’s what is called, “The Good Ole Days!”

  39. Hi Pearl, Diane, Anne, and Ellie………….Looks like the Jenny Lind gets you ladies vote. I can’t argue with that. It’s really a thing of beauty.

    I’ve entered you all in the drawing!!

  40. Hi Cheryl………Thank you for the compliment about my story in Hearts and Spurs. My print copies arrived to today and I jumped for joy. I can start sending them out. This twenty will really go fast.

    I’m glad you enjoyed my blog and am delighted to have hit on a popular subject it seems. I hope whoever of your kids that gets your trunk will appreciate it. They’re truly special pieces of history.

  41. Hi Mary J…………Yes, we can’t forget the hats that women used to have to pack. Honestly, I don’t know how they got everything in one of these old trunks. When you factor in the long heavy dresses, petticoats, shoes and hats it boggles your mind. Thank you for coming over to read about them. And I appreciated your comment.

    I’ve entered you in the drawing!!

  42. I like the stagecoach trunk, I have always wanted a ride in a stagecoach preferably with a gorgeous cowboy
    chasing after. Imagination is a powerful thing for me.

  43. Hi Elizabeth!!! I’m wearing a huge grin. So happy you stopped by. I hope things are going well in Tasmania and hope the weather is fine. Yes, stagecoach trunks were built more for sturdiness than beauty. They were very serviceable. But who’d care if a handsome cowboy just happened to be carrying one. Keep your eyes peeled for cowboys down there. I’ve heard it rumored they like Australia and Tasmania!!

  44. Love knowing the names of all these trunks. My family has one of the Saratogas which belonged to my husbands great grandparents. It is in useable condition but I thinks someone refinished it at some point.

    I have a horrible time trying to pack for a weekend so cannot even think about a month or more.

  45. The Jenny Lind would be my choice! Very interesting post on old trunks…..I remember several in my grandparents’ families….have no idea what happened to them.
    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  46. I would need a big trunk. I always pack too much. To think I had all I needed for a 3 month around the world trip in one bag not as big as most carry-ons. Not anymore, I tend to overpack and use less than half of what I bring. I am trying to pack lighter, but so far not having much luck.

    Our daughter has one of the Wardrobe trunks (a graduation present) and I have a Steamer Trunk. I thought I had a domed top trunk, but haven’t found it in our stuff. I also have a modern (well, 1970 or so) steamer trunk that I shipped my stuff home in from my Peace Corps assignment. Kind of sad that all I owned would fit in two trunks and now I would need two moving vans.

    This sounds like it will be an enjoyable anthology. It is on my Wish List.

  47. This is wonderful information! Apparently I have 2 civil war trunks inherited from grandmothers. Had no idea what they were officially called other than “old trunk”. Great post.

  48. Hi Natalie!! Glad you came over. Wow, two trunks! Thanks pretty cool, girl. Actually, that picture is the Steamer trunk. I didn’t have a picture of the Civil War one. I had one just like the steamer but it came apart. And since that trunk almost led to a divorce, I let DH put the pieces in a dumpster. He hated having to lift it. And since I’d packed it to the brim with stuff it was REALLY heavy. Hope you stay warm today. It’s frigid outside. Brrrrr!

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