What Did That Say?

Those of you  who’ve read my blogs for any length of time know I love history. I not only enjoy writing about the past, but researching those bits and pieces that make the historical story I’m working on more realistic, interesting and accurate. I’ve been known to lose myself for hours down the “research rabbit hole.”

I’ve found many ways to research. Of course, I can spend hours in a library, hunting through books. Or online, looking for one particular fact. But my favorite type of research is the kind I didn’t plan, those you find in—or are sent from—unexpected places.

You’ve probably had the same experience. You stop to grab lunch at a restaurant off the freeway and discover the nearby town has, for more than a hundred years, hosted a festival in celebration of prickly pears. Or that there is a fully restored Civil War-Salt War markerera mental hospital only a few blocks away.

In my road trips to research a story, I’ve come across some fun facts. Did you know there was a salt war in Texas? Neither did I until I saw the roadside historical marker on my way to Jack County, TexasSt Louis Arch

Were you aware there was a Revolutionary War battle in St. Louis, Missouri? That’s right, halfway up the mighty Mississippi. The Battle of Fort San Carlos was fought when British-led Sioux, Sac, Fox, and Winnebago warriors attacked a newly built French entrenchment in May of 1780. That historical fact came from a local newspaper article my mother forwarded to me.

Ever heard of Crash, Texas? It’s a town that was built for the express purpose of allowing spectators to witness a train crash up close and personal. A friend sent me that news story. I did a blog on that for P&P – CLICK HERE.

Pony Express RiderThen there’s the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race, begun in 1848 and revived in 1977. I found out about it when researching the coach stops along the Santa Fe Trail after visiting the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Do you read the footnotes and attributions at the end of a historical research article? Or you might take a stroll through the archived blogs right here at Petticoats & Pistols –the Fillies have shared some wonderful research.

I love running across obscure information while I’m researching something else. And you can find some of the most interesting—and mostly useless—tidbits in some unlikely places. ebay® is one place that surprised me. I found some cool info on china and crystal and Texas artifacts there once when researching for a story.

What’s the most unusual fact you discovered in an unlikely place?

PRPLassoing a Groom WebI’ll give away an e-book of Lassoing a Groom to one person who leaves a comment.


How is a woman supposed to catch a husband? In the wild, wild west, she’s got to find a way to Lasso a Groom! Some of them are lawmen…some are outlaws. Ranchers and homesteaders are fair game, as well—none of ’em safe from love’s lariat, or the women who finally manage to rope ’em in!

WANTED: THE SHERIFF by Tracy Garrett 
He’s a confirmed bachelor…but she’ll capture his heart. 



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23 thoughts on “What Did That Say?”

  1. Those are very interesting facts. I know I’ve probably seen something, but I can’t think of anything right now. 😛 Thanks for sharing those, Tracy!

  2. When we purchased our home 25 years ago we learned from the next door neighbor that the huge red granite rock in their yard had been carved with a buffalo’s profile and a head of a long haired Native American brave by the Menominee Indians. They held their spiritual gatherings on the bluff overlooking the lake where our two places now rest. Several thong message trees around the lake point out the way to Spirit rock. Several arrowheads and other artifacts were found when the original owners built the house.

  3. Laurie G, that’s so cool! The area where I live is said to be a spiritual gathering place, but sadly any hint of that was lost to development a long time ago. There are still message trees around the region.

  4. We love exploring and finding those great historical spots. Speaking of, last weekend we drove backroads of a town two hours away and found a marker that said it was the spot of a war between two Indian tribes. The tribe that won buried it’s losses all long the banks of the river – which was discovered not that long ago. A flooding of that area of the river uncovered over a hundred skulls lining the river – thus finding out about the war. Crazy!

  5. Tracy, I was trying to think of something I discovered in an unlikely place, and the thing that came to mind was when my sister and I took one of her older gentleman acquaintances to decorate the graves of his loved ones a few years ago on Memorial Day.

    We had three cemeteries to visit–one for his mother and father, one for his daughter, and one for his two siblings that had died in childhood.

    One of the cemeteries was built on a beautiful bluff that separates the Illinois River and the Arkansas River, jutting out into the waters with one river on one side and one on the other. You’d never find that cemetery if you didn’t know where you were going—it’s in the small Oklahoma town of Tamaha.

    There was a historical sign there not too far, that described this place as being the site of the last inland water battle of the Civil War, and it was won by Brigadier General Stand Watie, who was also the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation at the same time. He and his men sank a Union ship off the shore there, along with its cargo. To my knowledge it has never been raised. I don’t know what was on that ship, but it was known that it WAS carrying a cargo. The ship had been a southern one, captured by the north, and the name had been changed to the J.R. Williams …but the name on the ship’s bell had remained engraved as what it was christened, something like Independence, or Liberty, can’t remember now. Anyhow, sometime in the 1980’s or so, the bell washed up onto the shore and was discovered by a man who was there fishing.

    I used that bit of history in my story FIRE EYES.

    This made me really think. I love research, too, and sometimes you find it in the most unusual places.


  6. There is a town near here that is named Paint Lick. High Bridge KY is the tallest railroad bride in the world. The bridge was redesigned of cantilever design and opened in 1877. That is all I can think of righ now.

  7. I have learned about different things through the years from posts like this one, TV, books, museums, and stories told to me from people… one which I found interesting was the town I grew up in used to have farms and springs… none had been around in so many years… the house I grew up in was built by hand in the early 1900’s and was used by a priest for years until a house was built right next to the church on our block…

  8. My brain thrives on unlikely flashes of info. One I just learned helped inspire my Christmas story set in Hawaii. The Iolani Palace of King Kalakaua had flush toilets and electric lights even before the White House! Great post, Tracy. Great to keep our minds active.

  9. Colleen, I’l bet there were some great stories about that house. The one I grew up in had a third story ballroom until a tornado took it off the house. It is still one of my favorite houses.

  10. Hi Tracy, I love to walk-the-walk, but that’s not always possible, so I watch for anything I can use … P&P, a movie, on TV, the Internet, but I love books.I have a ton of research type books and they are fantastic to just make a note in my notebook where the information came from. I know there have been times when I wanted to use material again or what to expand on the research I have already, so this is a good way to keep up with it. I love your cover, Sister Filly. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  11. One of the reasons I enjoy P&P so much is because of the research information posted here. I have started making a list of places to visit from everyone’s articles. When we travel and I miss a week or so of posts, I always go back to see what I missed.

    We have had some interesting chance discoveries on our trips. On our big trip last summer, we stopped for the night in Pinedale, WY. Saw a sign for the MUSEUM OF THE MOUNTAIN MAN. We went back the next morning and had a really nice visit. The staff was friendly and helpful. Unfortunately, we were a few weeks too early for their annual Rendezvous.

  12. I put everyone into my random number generator, pressed the button and…

    THE WINNER of a copy of Lassoing a Groom is

    Congratulations, Patricia. I’ll be in touch.

  13. Thanks so much.

    We attended the Rendezvous at Fort Bridger, WY several years ago. It was a great experience. Not sure where you live or where that rendezvous is, but theirs is the first weekend of September and well worth going.

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