Welcome Guest – Keli Gwyn


When—and Where—Leland Stanford Hit the Mother Lode

You might be familiar with the name Leland Stanford, founder of Leland Stanford Junior University. Perhaps you know that Stanford, Sr. was one of the “Big Four” who founded the Central Pacific Railroad, part of the transcontinental railroad that linked east and west. As a native Californian, I also know that Stanford was one of the Golden State’s early governors.

Leland Stanford as a young man

What I didn’t know is where Stanford got the money that funded his many ventures. Well, I didn’t, that is, until I wrote my final Love Inspired Historical, Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which releases this month. My research provided the answer.

Stanford passed his bar exam in 1848 and left his native New York for Wisconsin, where he practiced law for three years. In 1852, he headed west to California, where his brothers had opened a shop for miners in Cold Springs, just down the road from where I worship today at Cold Springs Community Church. Although that shop didn’t do well, the Stanford brothers did end up making a good deal of money selling supplies to miners.

Leland Stanford later in life

In 1859, Leland Stanford took the Union Mine in the town of Sutter Creek as payment for a customer’s debt, renaming it the Lincoln Mine. He was ready to write the mine off as a loss, but Robert Downs, the mine foreman, persuaded Stanford to give the mine one last chance.

Listening to Downs was one of the wisest moves Stanford made. Within a year, a major vein of ore was tapped, and the Lincoln Mine began to produce. Between 1860 and 1873, over $2.2 million in gold was taken out. Stanford eventually sold his interests for $400,000.

Sutter Creek 1853

Stanford used his proceeds from his Sutter Creek mining endeavor to help fund the Central Pacific Railroad, which contributed even more to his growing wealth. He went on to become the first Republican governor of California and serve as a U.S. Senator. As mentioned earlier, he and his wife founded Leland Stanford Junior University, where my retired teacher husband earned his Master’s in Education.

Discovering Stanford’s ties to the small Gold Rush town of Sutter Creek was a wonderful surprise. I enjoyed working this historic figure into Their Mistletoe Matchmakers, which is set there.

Sutter Creek Main St west

This story will be my last because I’m retiring from writing so I can spend more time with my great guy. The first big adventure my husband and I embarked on after I turned in my final edits was to take a road trip to Colorado. We saw some great places on the way there and back. I foresee more trips in my future.

I have two copies of the book to offer as a prize. To enter the giveaway, which runs through November 4, answer one of the following questions in a comment.

  • If you retired, what would be one of your first adventures?
  • If you’re already retired, what was your first major undertaking?


A Christmas Match 

The best Christmas possible—that’s what Lavinia Crowne intends to provide before taking her orphaned nieces and nephew home to Philadelphia. But carrying out her plan may be harder than she expects, with their handsome, stubborn uncle, Henry Hawthorn, insisting on raising the children in rough-and-tumble Sutter Creek, California. Lavinia can’t bear to lose her late sister’s children, though, or go against her father’s demand to bring them home.

Henry believes his nieces and nephew need affection and security more than a lavish lifestyle. But as the children conspire to bring their aunt and uncle together, a new vision fills his head—of future Christmases spent with sweet, determined Lavinia and their growing family. Can three little matchmakers, and the spirit of the season, bring the gift of a very happy beginning?

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48 thoughts on “Welcome Guest – Keli Gwyn”

  1. Hi Kelit, thank you for this post, this was all new to me.

    When I retire in just a couple of years (or less) my husband and I want to travel across the country and make sure that I can say I have visited all 50 states. I have visited more than half now (Hawaii and Alaska are two of them)my husband has visited more. We can do it once we’re both retired.

    It is sad for us readers that you are retiring but I am happy for you. May you be blessed on this new journey of your life.

    I would love to be included in the drawing for your book. Thank you for your generosity.

    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    • Oh dear. It should say, “Hi Keli”, I accidentally left out the space after Keli so when I put it in I obviously left a “t” dangling out there. I am so, so sorry.

    • Cindy, you must be getting excited about your upcoming retirement. As quickly as the years seem to zip by, it will be here before you know it. Your goal of visiting all 50 states is a fun one. Our country has so much to offer. During our road trip to Colorado I got a taste of the great diversity.

      Thanks for your well wishes on my retirement. I’m eager to embrace this new chapter of my life.

  2. Keli- wow what remarkable history you found fur your very own hometown. Amazing story. Me. Stanford was a smart man fir listening to the mine foreman.
    If I were retired I’d wasn’t to travel to MT and see the entire state. I’ve been fascinated by it for years. I love wide open country and mountains so I think that would be a perfect state to satisfy both my lives.
    Thank you for the giveaway chance and May you & your husband enjoy your retirement seeeing many places.

    • Tonya, research is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. I love learning more about the rich history of California’s Gold Country and am happy to live smack dab in the middle of it.

      I hope you’re able to visit Montana. From what I’ve seen in pictures, it deserves its nickname: Big Sky Country. Talk about wide open spaces. Wow!

  3. Keli, this is great info! And what fun to weave it into a story. I love it. I hope you love retirement… that you love this chapter of your life and have so much fun with Gwynly!

    God’s perfect timing, my friend.

  4. Good morning Keli, I enjoyed reading about Mr. Stanford. I retired from the library three years ago and the first months were dedicated to getting used to not HAVING to get up to the ringing of my alarm and cleaning my house as it hadn’t been cleaned for awhile. I became a grandmother for the very first time during those months and before i had bern retired one year I also had a very unexpected hip replacement! My husband still works so there have been no big trips but I have fully appreciated being at home and I have been able to support authors by both reading and reviewing their books!
    I wish you many years of enjoyment and I do hope to continue to see your name in the different blogs that I visit regularly, if only as a fellow reader.
    Many blessings!

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying your retirement, Connie. One of the things my retired teacher husband appreciates most about his new lifestyle is not having to respond to the blaring of his alarm clock at 4:55 am or to the rigid bell schedule at his former high school.

      I’m sorry you had to deal with a hip replacement so soon after you retired, but I’m thankful we have that technology available. On the flip side, what fun it must have been to welcome your first grandchild at a time when you had more time to love on the little one.

  5. I am retired and we opted to do some traveling. We went on a river cruise and then to Moldova. We went to the Galapagos and Peru. Next up is a Panama Canal cruise.

    • Wow, Debra! You’ve been to some cool places. Your Panama Canal cruise sounds interesting. The heroine of Their Mistletoe Matchmakers came to California via Panama, but back in the days when the crossing took place by rail. It would be interesting to see what it’s like to take that route these days.

  6. Hi, Keli! Your latest, and last, book sounds great! I love the history behind it and would love to read it. My husband retired in April. We had a flood in our home October 7, caused by a dog, who wasn’t ours. So, my husband’s first big project is getting the house back together. The dog flooded the upstairs bathroom, the kitchen under that bathroom, and the basement ceiling. We were gone for an hour and a half. Then the apple tree took out our power line. We had to update to a breakerbox from a fusebox before the electric company would rehook our power line. We were 10 days without power. Finally got it back last night. Yay! Things are looking up. It’s nice having Tim at home to take care of all the people coming by. Enjoy your retirement with your husband! My first item will be to take a nice, long trip somewhere where there’s a lot of snow.

    • Sally, I’m so sorry to hear about the flood that damaged your home, followed by the downed tree. Talk about a double whammy. I’m glad you’re husband is able to do much of the work since repairs can be so costly. You’ll be ready for traveling after all that, I’m sure.

  7. I didn’t have a major undertaking after I retired. I was just glad to be able to read and work in my yard whenever I chose to.

    • Estella, having time for life’s simple pleasures is one of the many blessings of retirement, isn’t it? I’m sure you’re enjoying savoring all those stories.

  8. I am not really retired yet but I haven’t worked in several years. I have had some medical issue. It seems like I stay busy all the time anyway. Between the major house cleaning and the cooking keeps me pretty busy. I have made a few quilts in the past to keep me busy.

    • Hi, Quilt Lady. I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with medical issues. That’s got to be tough. I’m glad you’re able to get around and tend to things around the house and to do the quilting that you enjoy so much.

  9. Thanks for the post. I’m not a native Californian but have lived here many years and the history is fascinating. Especially when it’s all just down the road. Even though I’ve been officially retired for 3-1/2 years, I joke that I’m wondering when my retirement will start. Three weeks after I retired we started outside renovations, then inside, had an adult daughter live with us for a year due to health reasons, took 2 trips to Florida for a shower and a wedding, had a visit from 4 darling great-grandchildren, and my husband had 6 surgeries on various part of his body. All is well but I’m looking forward to a little more quiet time and reading in the future. Their Mistletoe Matchmakers sounds like a sweet holiday story. Thanks for the giveaway and enjoy your travels!

    • Wow, Sally! Your retirement doesn’t sound as restful as you were no doubt hoping it would be, at least so far. You’ve certainly accomplished a lot though. Your house must be looking mighty nice after all the renovations.

      I’m sorry your husband and daughter have been dealing with health issues. The nice thing is that since you’re retired, you’ve been able to be there for them. I’m sure they appreciate that.

  10. This book sounds delightful. I love Christmas stories.

    I am retired, and my husband and I have been fulfilling our dream of traveling to European countries.

    • Cheryl, Europe has so much to offer. My husband and I were privileged to live in Germany four and a half years early in our marriage. He was teaching the children of US Army personnel at Nürnberg American High School. We used his summers off to travel and were able to visit many countries. What a blessing that was.

  11. Keli, it is bittersweet to hear you are retiring. I wish you so much fun with hubby as you two get to spend more time together! What a blessing. When we retire my hubby and I hope to travel all over. That is what we love to do most.

    • Thanks for your kind words and well wishes, Susan. Retirement provides a wonderful opportunity to travel. I hope you and your husband are able to visit many of the places on your list when you reach that stage of life.

    • Italy is one of the countries I was able to visit when my husband and I lived in Germany. There’s so much to see there. I hope you’re able to visit one day.

  12. This is indeed bittersweet because while I’m so happy for the extra time you and your husband will get to spend together, I surely am going to miss looking forward to new books from you. You’ve been on my auto-buy list since I “found” you. I love your writing, but of course I wish you all the very best with the fun to come!

    I traveled a lot when I was a young adult and then also traveled frequently for my job (visiting our various publishing branches around the country), so when I retired I was looking forward to some down time, a more normal schedule and getting out of the rat race: not only away from the alarm clock but more especially the long commutes in heavy traffic. I really enjoy my own time schedule, time with my family, and being able to read more voraciously.

    All of the very best to you and yours!! We’ll miss you.

    • Thanks for your kind words about my stories, Eliza. They mean a great deal to me, as do your well wishes on my retirement.

      I can understand your eagerness to leave your heavy work schedule, frequent travel and long commutes behind. It sounds like you’re enjoying the slower, simpler pace you’ve embraced post-retirement–with plenty of time for reading. I’m happy for you.

  13. When I retire I would love to visit some of our National Parks. This has been on my list for quite a while. Much happiness Keli. When we serve the Lord I don’t think we really retire. He always let us use our gifts and talents to bless others.

    • Maryann, visiting some of our beautiful national parks would be great. For starters, I’ve never been to Yellowstone, but I’d love to see it. I hope you’re able to travel to many of the parks.

      Thanks for your well wishes on my retirement. Your comment about not retiring when we serve the Lord resonates with me. I enjoyed writing God-honoring stories and considered that my ministry for a time. These days, I’m volunteering in our Children’s Ministry Department at church as well as serving as a mentor mom in our MOPS group and am having a wonderful time.

  14. Hi Keli and welcome to P&P! I enjoyed your post so much–and feel very bittersweet about your retirement as I have just “discovered” your books. I did just retire from my day job two years ago so that I could spend more time with my parents who are getting up there in age. I’m a California transplant to the Midwest, and although I love living in the Midwest with my husband and sons, I sorely missed my parents and my sister who still live in California. By retiring early I have been able to spend chunks of time in California with them (and thanks to my wonderful husband who understands!) It has been great having holidays with them again–something I couldn’t do as a nurse.

    I wish you a wonderful, blessed retirement!

    • Thanks for the warm welcome, Kathryn, and for the well wishes on my retirement. I’m glad you’re enjoying yours and that you have time to return to the Golden State and spend time with your parents. Those memories you’re making and stories you’re capturing (being a writer, I assume you are anyhow) will mean so much to you in the years ahead.

    • Denise, what fun that you’ve been able to travel to Hawaii already. I hope you’re able to return one day. I spent some time on Maui years ago and have many wonderful memories. The beauty there is off the scale, isn’t it?

  15. I don’t fit into the retire or not retire category….my first adventure would be a trip to Sardinia Italy if I had the funds to do so. 🙂 I have family from that area so it would be a nice place to visit. 🙂
    Congrats on your retirement Keli! I hope you have MANY wonderful adventures! You might visit the Utah Arches. I haven’t been but i hear it’s beautiful! 🙂

    • Thanks for the well wishes on my retirement, Sabrina. You’ll love this: my guy and I did visit Arches National Park on our way back to California after our time in Colorado. It is a beautiful place, just as you’ve heard. I hope you’re able to visit it one day, as well as take that trip to Sardinia and soak in the Italian atmosphere.

  16. Sorry to see you will not be writing any more, but understand fully wanting to enjoy retirement together. My husband retired last year and I was no longer working. We took a few short trips and spent time making plans for our first big retirement trip. We bought a small used RV in the Fall for a 3 to 4 month trip from TN through Canada to Alaska and down through the West Coast home. That was supposed to happen this summer. No such luck. I developed a detached retina after Thanksgiving and am still working on recovery. I also developed spinal and nerve issues. So we have taken a few short trips this year and WILL be healthy for the trip leaving about next May. We are a retired military family and learned a long time ago that flexibility is an important part of life. You have to be willing to take detours and we have often found some wonderful things on the ones we have taken. Just grab the opportunities when you can. Next trip after Alaska will be Scotland and Ireland.

    • Patricia, I’m sorry your big retirement trip had to be postponed due to your health issues. I hope your recovery goes well and that you’re able to proceed with your plans to hit the road this coming spring. You have some great destinations in mind.

  17. Hi, Keli! I didn’t know some of that about Leland Stanford (even though my husband and I met there at the university)… as for retirement, I do think some travel would be fun! That’s what my parents have definitely been doing since they’ve retired.

    No need to include me in the drawing–I’m excited to finish reading Their Mistletoe Matchmakers! (And yes, am sad that this marks your retirement from writing!) <3

    • Fedora, how cool that you and your guy met at Stanford University. Leland Stanford was really something, wasn’t he? I enjoyed learning more about him as I performed the research for Their Mistletoe Matchmakers. Finding out about his Sutter Creek connection was fun. When I discovered it, I knew I had to include him in my story. I only mention him briefly, but working in real history makes me happy.

      I’m glad your parents are enjoying their retirement and are using this time to visit new places. It’s nice that they have time to travel. I know your retirement is a long way off, but when it arrives, I hope you’re able to follow in their footsteps.

  18. You new book looks great! If I were retired. I think I might take a leisurely cross country adventure. I’d love to visit historic points and tske the scenic route.

    • Naomi, a leisurely cross-country trek sounds fun. There are so many wonderful places to visit. Like you, I would stop at the historic points. What am I saying? That’s what my guy and I do now. 🙂

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