Welcome Guest – Mona Hodgson!!!

Convenient Bride BannerKeeper of My Heart Wagon Train Trivia

Just about any Western movie or TV show captured my attention, pulling me into the adventure and possibilities. Shows like Wagon Train led to my fascination with wagon train travel, which inspired Prairie Song and Keeper of My Heart.

While researching wagon train history, I found some fun tidbits.

Ready for a wagon train trivia quiz?

  1.  Horses were the preferred animal for pulling a covered wagon across the prairie. True or false?

False. While some folks did have horses pull their covered wagon, more chose burros or mules for the job. Most pioneers, however, yoked four or more oxen steer to their wagons because of the superior strength and stamina that allowed the oxen to pull the 2500 pounds or more. Besides, horses are more skittish and easily spooked. Which animal would you prefer to trust to ford a stream or descend a mountain with all of your earthly possessions?The Convenient Bride Collection--Lrg

  1.  TV shows and movies correctly depicted covered wagon overlanders riding on the wagon seat.

False. That was something that seldom happened. Would you want to sit on a narrow, hardwood seat suspended between side rails with no springs? Most trail conveyances were simple farm wagons with no thought given to comfort. The wagon beds rode on steel tires mounted on wooden wheels, on solid wood axles, for fifteen or so miles on a rutted road. That’d be quite the bone rattling ride. I’d rather walk, thank you.

Most healthy travelers walked alongside the team of oxen or took shifts riding a horse.

  1. Need some butter for the biscuits you plan to cook over the supper campfire? Just hang the milk on the wagon.

True. Milk the cow first thing in the morning then, before you set out for the day, secure the crock of milk to a hook on the side of the wagon. All the jostling over rocks and through ruts will churn the butter for you.

  1.  The TV screen and paintings of the period got it right when they showed wagons circled for defense against hostile Indians.   

False. The wagon companies didn’t typically circle their wagons. When they did, it was usually to corral the livestock. Most wagon train roads led through safe territory, and hostilities were rare. But if a caravan of wagons was attacked, they didn’t have time to find an area big enough to arrange the wagons.

  1.   Wagons were covered, which made them into a 19th century recreational vehicle.Wagon with women and children

False. Ready to curl up for a night of sweet dreams in the covered wagon? We’re talking about an eleven foot long by four foot wide, ten foot tall space crammed full of barrels, casks, trunks, and miscellaneous household items. Things the pioneers would need for the journey as well as items and heirlooms packed for their new home.

Most overlanders slept outdoors, on the ground, with or without a tent overhead, or in a hammock suspended between trees or between a tree and the wagon. Exceptions to that rule included travelers who were sick and sometimes children. Excessive rain might have warranted taking shelter inside of the wagon, but it would’ve been an uncomfortable night.

Woman ShootistReading Prairie Song and Keeper of My Heart, you’ll discover that I busted many of the perpetuated myths in my telling of two 1866 wagon train stories.

Neelie “Shott”, the heroine in Keeper of My Heart, is headed for San Francisco, where she’s been promised a job in a Wild West Show. When Neelie set out on the road going West, she thought she knew where she was going. That was before she encountered The Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company and the widowed, spine-stiffening wheelwright named Ian Kamden.

Nor had she met his five children. As it turns out, Maisie, the youngest, is fond of picking black-eyed Susans and awarding the bouquets to those she loves.

I can’t wait for you to meet Neelie, Ian, and the others on their quest for a fresh beginning in Keeper of My Heart, one of nine novellas in The Convenient Bride Collection.

Thanks so much to the Petticoats & Pistols fillies for the invitation to come by and many thanks to you for joining me here. I hope you’ll stop by and chat with me. Do you have a favorite wagon train novel, nonfiction, or movie?

I’m excited to give away a copy of The Convenient Bride Collection, which includes Neelie’s story in Keeper of My Heart. I’d love to hear from everyone, but can only mail the book to a USA address.


Please find me online and join the conversation: Mona Hodgson chin on hands






Mona Hodgson is the author of 40 books, historical novels and novellas for adults and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, The Quilted Heart novellas, and Prairie Song. Her children’s books include Bedtime in the Southwest, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, six Zonderkidz I Can Read books, and more.

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76 thoughts on “Welcome Guest – Mona Hodgson!!!”

  1. Hi, Mona! I love your name! I named a character in my upcoming novella Mona. 🙂 Thank you for sharing those wagon train facts. I didn’t know most of them. Neelie’s story sounds fascinating and I hope I can read it someday.

  2. Hi Mona and welcome to Wildflower Junction! I enjoyed learning some of the truths about wagon trains! I had the oxen correct, but not the fact that people would rather walk than ride! It sure makes sense the way you explained it! I can’t imagine traveling without “shocks”. And circling the wagons? That always struck me as odd that there would be time in the event of an attack.

  3. I love the Love Comes Softly books! And while not everyone of them features a wagon train, a few do.
    I love that you busted myths while writing your books!

  4. Hi, Mona! I really enjoyed the trivia; how interesting! I adore your wagon train stories and am eager to read Keeper of My Heart.

  5. I sure didn’t know most of that. Why can’t the history books taught in school get the facts right like you?? Even TV could do a better job of it. Sounds like a fascinating read!

  6. I kind of figured hollywood got it wrong. But was interested to know that they hung milk jugs on the wagon to make butter.

  7. what a very interesting and imformative post,,welcome and thanks for the post,really enjoyed reading it

  8. It’s always interesting to know which clichés are true and which are not. I think I learnt most of the Western clichés from the Lucky Luke comics (it’s a parody about the wild West and the Western clichés), rather than movies or TV shows.

  9. I love learning and I certainly learn from the bloggers and guest on Petticoats and Pistols. Looking forward to reading Keeper of My Heart!

  10. Hi Miss Mona! Thank you for your interesting post and this great giveaway! I am keeping my fingers crossed!
    Hope you are doing well.

  11. Thank you for an interesting post. It is nice to see some of the stereotypes of wagon trains exposed. Hollywood has given us their version of how things were and they seem to have based much of it on what worked well for their scenes rather than research what things were really like. Thankfully, they seem to be aiming more for accuracy in recent years.
    A favorite of mine is the 2005 TV mini-series INTO THE WEST. It certainly didn’t gloss over or glamorize the experience of going west and what life was like for both white and native peoples. It is heartbreaking in so many ways. you certainly have to respect and admire those who braved and survived what they faced and sometimes survived.

    These anthologies offer some good stories and a nice variety of them.

  12. Very interesting facts Mona. In the movies the wagon trains always go in circles and I always wondered how they could do it with the animals attached. You shed some light on the subject for me. Thank you. I would love to win a copy of The Convenient Bride Collection.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  13. Hi Mona, Thanks for all the interesting facts which were true- or false- of what we think we know about the pioneers crossing the trails west. Great post!

  14. I love your wagon train facts. I always wondered if oxen or mules were the better swimmers when they crossed those huge rivers.
    I read a book about knitting and discovered that the travelers not only walk along side the wagons but the women walked and knitted socks for the walkers from the same yarn as the worn out socks because the sources of more socks were few and far between. That fact just goes to prove that if you can’t knit you shouldn’t go. (at least to me) Can you knit?

    • Hi, Whitney. Good to see you here. Glad you enjoyed the wagon train trivia. No, I’m not a knitter. I have a sister who is, though. And all three of my grandmother’s knitted. Blessings to you!

  15. Hi Mona! Welcome to P&P. Sorry that I’m dragging up the rear. Didn’t get over here yesterday. I love your blog! Very interesting. You certainly opened my eyes to a lot. One thing about it, those pioneers really didn’t suffer from lack of exercise. I’d hate to think about walking all the way to California or Oregon.

    Congrats on your new release! Nellie sounds like a wonderful, heartwarming woman. Wishing you much success!

  16. What an interesting post, and I want to know more of Neelie’s story. Thanks for the chance.

    I love all those old Western shows, especially Wagon Train. Sometimes their trek across the country seemed like more fun than our family vacations. I enjoy how everyone has such a huge wardrobe with them and always look fresh as a daisy with hair and makeup.

  17. I think I got all the questions right. I always love stories about wagon trains. Thank you for this post and giveaway.

  18. Cool “myth-busters” information! I would love to read Neelie’s story! Thanks for offering this give-away!

  19. Thanks for sharing about the wagons. I never thought about how uncomfortable they were. With all their belongings in there, it must have been a long, and sometimes unbearable trip for pioneers. We don’t think about how easy we have it today with our airconditioning and modern conveniences . I have always been fascinated by the pioneer days. Your interview was very insiteful and fun to read. When I think of the pioneer days I think of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read everyone of those with such excitement as it took me to a time period filled with hope, struggles and family. I would love a chance to win “The Conveinent Bride Collection.” It would be a treasure to read the book.

  20. I love learning new things and this was interesting to know. I look forward to reading this. Thank you, Mona.

  21. Hi Mona!
    Thanks for the Myth busting and the interesting facts. I seem to recall reading in an encyclopedia at my grandparents house that sometimes people in wagon trains would sleep under the wagons when it rained, did you find this in any of your research?
    Historical fiction, early western America, is my favorite genre at the moment. I can’t wait to read The Convenient Brides collection.

    • Hi, Andrea!
      Glad you enjoyed the post.
      Yes, I didn’t read a diary entry from a woman whose family slept under the wagon in the rain. I also read about women and children who would cram into the wagon to sleep.
      I appreciate your interest in Keeper of My Heart. You might also enjoy Two Brides Too Many, set in a Colorado mining camp in the late 1890’s.
      Blessings to you!

  22. Hi Mona!
    Thanks for the Myth busting and the interesting facts. I seem to recall reading in an encyclopedia at my grandparents house that sometimes people in wagon trains would sleep under the wagons when it rained, did you find this in any of your research?
    Historical fiction, early western America, is my favorite genre at the moment.

  23. I just finished that book last week:) and I lived keeper of my heart 🙂 I didn’t know much about wagon trains before I started reading historical that had them in it

    • Hi, Alecia.
      How fun that you’ve read Keeper of My Heart and loved it. You might also enjoy Prairie Song (Anna and Caleb’s story).
      Blessings and Happy Reading!

  24. Hi Mona, I really enjoyed your wagon train facts, I was surprised they didn’t sleep in the wagons, but I always wondered how they could fit in with all their things.
    Thank you for sharing and the giveaway ! congratulations on your novella.

  25. Looking forward to reading your next story “The Keeper of My Heart” in the collection of “The Convenient Bride”. I really enjoy reading stories about wagon trains heading west and I find your stories filled with interesting facts about heading west and wagon trains. Keep your writing your books, that I love to read so much!

  26. I enjoyed the wagon train trivia. And yes I knew most of them! IMy family will always choose mules over horses and oxen. We love our mules!!!! We keep the horses and donkeys to produce the mules. The sisters in laws prefer their horses! That’s way they are the outlaws!!!!

  27. I like learning some of the truths and myths about wagon trains and life back then. I have experienced more through reading than I could have ever done otherwise. Thank you.

  28. Hi, Mona
    I love your wagon train stories !
    I am most anxious to read this novella and meet Neelie, Ian, and the others on their quest for a fresh beginning in Keeper of My Heart !

  29. Hi Mona!! Thanks for the great post, I never realized some of these were actually false!! I can’t wait to read your story, it sounds amazing!!

  30. Thanks for the wagon train facts, I have always enjoyed reading about that time period, life must have been really hard back then. What brave people to make the journey into the unknown!

  31. Too funny, I got most of them wrong when I did your wagon train fact quiz! Interesting information it was.

  32. These were such interesting facts about wagon trains – I don’t think I have read many novels about wagon trains but Janette Oke’s movies come to mind!

  33. Hello Mona. I know I’m too late but wanted to comment in hopes you might still read it. I grew up riding in a wagon when going to church, town, or where ever we went. I was 13 before we had a car. Enjoyed your post. A few things I don’t remember hearing, but knew most of them. Walking 15 miles would have not been easy, but I suppose after awhile you could do it easier. But, I can’t imagine me being able to do it, but might have been a stronger person then. Take care and GOD bless. Maxie

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