Hello, Petticoats & Pistols readers! I’m so excited to be back with you today. I’m sharing a bit about an era in American history called The Gilded Age.

Many of you may already know what the Gilded Age is, but in case you don’t, it was the time period here in America occurring between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century (1865 until 1900). The term, “The Gilded Age,” came from Mark Twain’s novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. Twain’s work satirized the many social problems of the era, which society had seemed to gloss over, as if with a thin layer of gold. While Twain’s book was published in 1873, the term didn’t come into use for this time period until the 1920s.



So what were some of the common issues that marked the Gilded Age?

  • Rapid economic, technological, political, and social transformation
  • Huge disparity between the rich and the poor across the country
  • Building and completion of the Transcontinental Railroad
  • Westward Expansion
  • Native Assimilation—forcing the Native American people to either assimilate into white culture or live on government-run reservations
  • An increase in European immigration
  • The formation of labor unions, which fought for worker’s rights, child labor laws, and eight-hour work days, among other things
  • An increase in popularity of some Christian denominations
  • An uptick in Christian missionary work
  • Social reforms, such as temperance movements or the Women’s Suffrage movement
  • An increase in women in the workforce
  • An increase in leisure activities like sports

And the list could go on.

I was excited to have the opportunity to write a novella for Barbour’s recently-released Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. The theme of the collection is all about the Gilded Age. Each of the nine stories focus on the haves and the have-nots of society, although the stories aren’t all about romances between a rich person falling in love with a poor person. Sometimes the stories feature two working-class people falling in love, or two rich people finding romance together. But the theme of wealth—or the lack thereof—is prevalent in each story. And in most cases, the stories also delve into at least one, if not several, other themes of this period. Because the era was so broad—board in years, broad in location, broad in the changes that came about during this time—the stories are vastly different, offering quite the range of reading in one volume. The authors in this collection are: Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jaime Jo Wright, Erica Vetsch, Kathleen Y’Barbo—and me, Jennifer Uhlarik.

My story, Union Pacific Princess, focuses on the themes of Westward Expansion, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and Native Assimilation. After her mother’s untimely death, my heroine, Dara Forsythe, leaves Boston to join her estranged father, a bigwig with the Union Pacific Railroad. But she experiences quite the culture shock when she steps off the train into a hell-on wheels railroad camp. All around her are tents, mud, and squalor. The one bright spot in the entire tent city is the poor, but charming hero—Gage Wells.

Gage is a Georgia farmer-turned-highly-skilled Confederate sharpshooter. At the Civil War’s end, he moved west to escape the memories of the conflict, but as the railroad plows across the territory he now calls home, he sees another conflict brewing—this time between the railroad, the white settlers, and his new friends, the Cheyenne. Gage’s plans to stop the railroad—and prevent a war—become far more complicated when he meets the intriguing rich girl, Dara Forsythe, and realizes she’s the daughter of his nemesis.


So there’s a snapshot of the Gilded Age—and the Of Rags And Riches Romance Collection. I hope you’ll check our stories out.

It’s your turn! Have you ever heard of The Gilded Age? Which of the various parts of the age that I listed above do you think you’d have been a part of, if you’d lived during that time—and Why? I would love to give one lucky reader an autographed print copy of Of Rags And Riches, so leave me your thoughts!


Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won and finaled in numerous writing competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. She currently writes historical novellas of the American West for Barbour Publishing and works as a Content Editor for Firefly Southern Fiction. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.


Copyright Info for steam engine photo:

© Leigh Warner

ID 10208093 | Dreamstime Stock Photos


Copyright info for train tracks:

© Jennifer Uhlarik


Copyright info for Author headshot:

© Emilie Anne Hendryx


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  1. Good morning I loved your blog. I’ve never heard of this that I can remember, but I love books set at this time. Maybe I would want to be involved in the westward expansion and anything with the Native Americans. what we did to them was horrific. I would want to be on their side and help preserve their land, the Buffalo and what their spiritual beliefs represented.

    • That’s my absolute favorite part of the Gilded Age myself, Tonya==the westward expansion and Native American aspects. I couldn’t agree more about the horrific treatment of our Native American cultures. Heartbreaking!

  2. I do not think I’ve ever heard of this time period being called, The Guilded Age. I very intrigued and would love to read your book and learn more of this time period. On another note I’ve never read one of your books and I’m always looking for a new author to read!!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Stephanie! I am glad I was able to teach you a bit about the Gilded Age. Hope you’ll enjoy the book and the many stories about this time period.

  3. I have heard of The Gilded Age. It was a very intriguing time. I hope to read these stories. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. I have heard of the Gilded Age, but didn’t really know that much about it. Your post opened me up to how things were back then. I’m sure if I lived back then, I would have been one of those poor people because I really don’t know any way of life except for the struggling part.

  5. Have not heard that time period called The Gilded Age. I enjoyed the post and would probably have been been part of the women in the workforce. Have never known any other way, until I retired.

    • Congrats on your retirement, Estella! I hope you’re enjoying it. (My hubby retired a year ago, and we’re loving it!) It’s interesting to think how there was a time when women were NOT in the workforce, isn’t it?

  6. I have heard of The Gilded Age before and hadn’t thought much about it until your post. In way we are still living like this from the first to comments on you post.

  7. I’ve only really heard about the Gilded age by the authors in this book collection. By reading author interviews or blog posts, they have me a glimpse into this era.

    I think it would have been quite exciting to be a part of the Transcontinental railway building and completion! To know that you could go places far away in just a few days instead of weeks or months by horse & wagon. Also the growth of a city near the railroad would be fast as more people could settle in, or businesses booming because of more people either passing through or deciding to settle. Just to see progress would be quite fascinating, I think. We take trains for granted these days, but just imagine what it was like to have never seen one and watch it happen right before your eyes!

    What an interesting post! I didn’t realize how many things in history really grew out of the Gilded age! Such an exciting time 🙂 Thank you for enlightening me a bit more & for the giveaway chance Jennifer!!

    • That should read in the first part “gave me a glimpse into this era” NOT have…autocorrect strikes again, lol!

    • So glad you enjoyed the post, Trixi. This really was a fascinating time in history, even with the social difficulties. The building of the Transcontinental Railroad certainly did have a very far-reaching effect, still felt today. Our country wouldn’t be what it is without the railroad!

  8. I have heard of it but not as in-depth as you provided. In a way there are many parts that apply today. I hate that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The labor movement and assimilation of different societies would be of interest to me! This is one of the great benefits of reading – learning but wrapped up in a wonderful story!

  9. Yes, I have heard of this period in history. I would have been a seamstress or something that was creative during this time.

  10. I think I would be part of the Westward expansion and involved in the schools, both for the settlers’ children and native american children.
    I knew about the Gilded Age, but never really connected it with Western expansion. I always considered it dealing with the wealth and social upper class in the big cities.
    This sounds like it will be an interesting anthology.

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