Book Women—The Depression’s Book Mobile

As a contemporary romance author, my research is different from historical authors. For the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, my research topics included seizure treatment/causes, service dogs and veterinarian office software. As a result, I don’t often come across cool historical tidbits to share with you the way Petticoats and Pistols historical authors often do. But recently, I came across a Facebook post about librarians on horseback. Considering my love of books and horses, I couldn’t resist learning more.

The Pack Horse Library program was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration during The Depression. In 1930’s Kentucky, the unemployment rate was almost forty percent and around thirty percent of the state’s population was illiterate. The hope was The Pack Horse Library program would decrease both these statistics. In addition to these issues, the ten thousand square foot area of eastern Kentucky this program served lagged behind other areas in the state in terms of electricity and highways. Scarcity of food, education and few economic options compounded the problems.

Getting the program’s employees to these rugged, rural areas of The Appalachian Mountains where people with the greatest need lived proved challenging, too. Because of the terrain, horses were chosen as the mode of transportation. However, the most astounding aspect of the program was that most of the employees of The Pack Horse Library were women! Folks simply referred to them as “Book Women.”

After loading donated books, magazines and newspapers, these librarians set out on their own mules or horses and headed into the mountains. Not an easy task, even when the weather cooperated. But imagine how difficult and treacherous the trip had to be in snowy or rainy conditions. Often the terrain became so rugged or remote, even horses couldn’t travel, forcing the librarians to continue on foot, carrying the books! No matter how cold or bad the weather, these librarians persisted, covering one hundred to one hundred twenty miles a week. One librarian had to complete her eighteen-mile route on foot after her mule died. Now that’s dedication!

By 1936, these devoted librarians serviced over fifty-thousand families and one-hundred-fifty-five schools. But these women did more than provide books. They acted as a connection between these rural Kentucky communities and world. They tried to fill book requests, read to people who couldn’t read themselves, and fostered a sense of local pride. And all for a salary of twenty-eight dollars a month.

All photos from atlasobsura.com

The Pack Horse Library program ended in 1943 along with the WPA. War had pulled the country out of The Depression, but these strong, determined librarians had left their mark. They made a difference.

To be entered for the drawing to win a copy of Colorado Rescue, a looking sharp wine glass and the bracelet pictured, tell me what you love about libraries or share your favorite memory involving a library.

First Woman Governor of Texas

Texas had the first woman elected governor in the United States, but she wasn’t the first woman to be governor. Marian A. Ferguson was better known as “Ma” Ferguson and elected in 1924 and inaugurated in 1925, which was two weeks after a woman became governor of Wyoming.

“Ma” Ferguson was married to former-governor James E. Ferguson, who was barred from running again after he resigned in 1917, just before he could be removed from office on corruption charges.

Interestingly enough, Governor “Ma” Ferguson is remembered for granting an average of one hundred pardons a month during her first two-year term of office, which was also marred by charges of graft and corruption.

Although she lost bids for re-election in 1926 and 1930, she served again from 1933 through 1935, when she fought the Depression with loans for cotton farmers and “bread bonds” to feed starving children.

One of Governor “Ma” Ferguson’s many full pardons went to “Buck” Barrow, who quickly took advantage of his release from prison to continue a life of crime. Buck and his wife got together with Buck’s brother, Clyde, and his girlfriend Bonnie Parker, who were already notorious criminals.
A few months later, in a shootout with police, Buck was killed, and his wife Blanche was capture. Bonnie and Clyde continued their crime spree.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were both Texas natives. They met in Dallas in 1930 and formed a criminal partnership that included jailbreaks, robberies, kidnappings, and murders.

Their crime-spree prompted a well-publicized nationwide manhunt that ended on May 23, 1934, when a group of lawmen ambushed the couple and killed them.

Since then, their short careers as lawbreakers have been popularized in films, songs, and movies. Even in the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco there is a display of exhibits related to their ultimate demise.

Tell me about your favorite outlaw real or imaginary!

To one reader who leaves a comment, I will give them an eBook of my latest Kasota Spring Romance Out of a Texas Night.

It’s Yee-Haw Day!

 

Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Linda Broday

Tomorrow is release day for Book #2 in my Outlaw Mail Order Bride series!! Yee-Haw! Handcuffed together with nothing but the clothes on their backs….5 days from safety…A posse behind them. Will they survive?  KOBO  |  AMAZON  |  B&N iTunes |

Karen Witemeyer

Book 1 in the Patchwork family series, More Than Meets the Eye, is on sale for only $1.99 for the e-book version. Sale ends April 30, so mount up and gallop over to your favorite online book seller!

If you haven’t read Eva and Logan’s story yet, now’s the time. With the release of More Than Words Can Say (Book 2) just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get to know the Hamilton clan.

A heroine with heterchromia. A hero with hidden motives. When her family is threatened, she doesn’t expect falling in love to be their best defense.

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Christian Book

Karen Kay

Just completed a quick tour in Illinois and Montana.  Did an all day seminar in Newton, IL at their library.  I’m from Newton, Illinois and it was great to get back there and renew friendships.

 

Left: At the Library in Newton with two other authors.

To the right, a selfie picture of hubby and me snapped at a campground early in the early morning on our return trip home.  No make-up — Goodness!

Winnie Griggs

I’m so excited about the release of this book. It’s a revised version of Something More, the second book I published way back in 2001. It’s been out of print for a looooonngg time and was never made into an eBook. So now readers will have a chance to read Caleb and Elthia’s story again.

On Sale April 30th. Click on the cover image for more info or to pre-order

 

 

Kit Morgan

It’s release day for The Sailor and the Suffragette This is a multi-author series I’m involved in that’s been a ton of fun! Shanghaied sailors finding hope for a new life with the help of some kindly couples who take them in, teach them new skills and send them out into the world. My poor chap has a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and winds up in my little town of Clear Creek, Oregon where he finds just what the doctor ordered! Eventually …

 

Ruth Logan Herne

Well we went into Easter with two big things that had nothing to do with writing and everything to do with story-telling!

With the help of one of my young friends, Christina, we sponsored an amazing “Help For the Homeless” day at the farm and while I helped with the organizing end, Christina and former daycare kids and grandkids did the work collecting money, food, clothing and supplies for the House of Mercy (a 24/7 shelter in the city of Rochester) and The Margaret Home (A brand new home for unwed mothers threatened with homelessness to help them be safe and cared for during pregnancy and beyond) and the Hilton Food Shelf (a food pantry that helps a couple of thousand families a year that have hit hard times in my own community.)

Christina and Dianna, two of the teen helpers and some of the loot!

We held it from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and it was a great day with over $800.00 raised in cash and bottle/can returns, hundreds of dollars of supplies and a lot of happy folks! The mayor and some of the Knights of Columbus bought the kids pizza and water and ice creams for volunteering their time, a nice respite from the homeless-friendly Ramen noodles I was going to serve…. and how fun to have the mayor come by and talk to them!

And then my husband and I packed all that up and slipped down to Dallas for four days to see our youngest son, a transplanted New Yorker. We met up with Richard and Mindy Brock Obenhaus and went to THE SILOS!!!!! and the Fort Worth Stockyards and Luke treated his dad to two Texas Rangers baseball games…. I found a little Catholic chapel in downtown Dallas and had a lovely Holy Thursday Mass and we just had a great time.  From The Silos Baking Company:

I finished up the homeless mission and the whirlwind Dallas adventure ready to celebrate an amazing He Is Risen! kind of Easter and get back to my stories… renewed! And thanking God for the amazing blessings we have and see every day.

Phyliss Miranda

 

I spent four fabulous days in Canadian, Texas, with fellow Filly, Linda Broday and Jodi Thomas, for the Canadian River Valley Writers Workshop in connection with the Canadian Arts Alliance. The bed and breakfast we stayed in was packed with antiques and made us feel we were in the 1800’s when the town was founded near the Canadian River. It’s called “the oasis of the High Plains” for a reason. We truly enjoyed our stay at Kim’s Cottage right on Main Street. Here’s a picture of Linda, Jodi, and me at the public booksigning. Small towns bring big crowds. We had great speakers, workshops, food and fun.


Pam Crooks

Do you love a party?

Do you love a sweet historical western romance series?

We know you do!

Join us!

As you know, my book, ELEANORA, is Book #8 of the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series. Like all good things, the series must come to an end.

But never fear! A brand new series is coming, and we’re having a Facebook party to celebrate!

Just click on the link, sign up, and get the scoop!

http://www.facebook.com/events/296163707952770/

Play games! Win prizes! Meet the authors and drool over the new covers!

 

 

Wendy May Andrews Has a Winner!

Thank you for sharing your knowledge of orphan trains, Miss Wendy! We loved it!

And now for the drawing……Drumroll………

Winner of the digital copy of Sophie is…………

SHERRY ALLMAN

Oh my goodness! Congratulations, Sherry!

Miss Wendy will contact you so keep your eyes peeled.

Tomorrow is YeeHaw Day! Everyone head over and check out the Fillys’ news!

 

Orphan Train Sweet Romances, and Train Travel in 1855

Hello everyone, Wendy May Andrews here. When I was planning this series I had to give a great deal of thought to the timing. I chose to set the series in 1855. I didn’t want to address any of the issues connected with the war so I had to make it as early as possible, but I also needed the train to go far enough West to be interesting. And, of course, there was the orphanage too. That’s the only place I took “creative license”. Mr. Charles Brace established the Children’s Aid Society in 1853 but in my first book, I have it that my heroine, Sophie, was a resident at the orphanage for ten years before she became one of the workers there. So the timing of that doesn’t quite jive. But other than that, everything else was perfect. And, too, there’s the fact that orphanages did exist in New York City ten years before 1855, just not one’s organized by Mr. Brace as he was only born in 1826.

The history surrounding the Orphan Trains is fascinating! I’m sure there are many sad tales in the annals of its history, but for the most part it afforded the opportunity for children to have a better life than what they would have had as abandoned orphans in the stews of the big city. Mr. Brace’s theory was that every farm table had room for at least one more, so he arranged for new homes out West with families who promised to house and educate the children. Unlike some other similar arrangements, Mr. Brace did not place the children in any sort of indentured circumstances so they had a better prospect for a happy future.

I also enjoyed researching what their new town might be like. This is a four book series. The first one, the prequel, takes place exclusively in New York, but the rest are set in their new town in Missouri. All three young women are city bred. The first, Cassie, had no intention of staying in the small town. She had just grown attached to the orphans and wanted to ensure they were getting good homes. Being a socialite from New York, she was a little appalled by the circumstances of the new town. But the other two young women, who planned to make new lives for themselves out West, were relieved to find it wasn’t as primitive as they had feared. Perspective is everything!

The rail construction boom also resulted in the development of new villages and towns along the way. The readier access to supplies with the train going through helped these new towns grow and thrive. I can’t say I would have loved to live back then, but it’s certainly a fascinating time to visit through research and good books.

Thank you for stopping by my guest visit here at Petticoats & Pistols! I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of Book 1 in the Orphan Train series. (Buy link for Sophie – Book 1

 

      SOPHIE

Blurb:

His pursuit of her threatens everything – except her heart:

Sophie Brooks has lived at the orphanage since she was ten years old. Now nineteen, she’s not only a resident, she works there as well. It’s the only true home she can remember and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe.

When her budding relationship with the son of one of the orphanage’s benefactors threatens the charity’s funding, Sophie must choose between her loyalties and her heart.

 

 

I’d love it if you check out the whole series page on Amazon

I can be found in various places around the web and I’d love to stay in touch: 

 

 

 

 

Not Always by Choice: Mail-Order Brides

I love reading and writing mail-order bride stories set in the Old West.  I’m happy to say that next month my next mail-order bride story The Cowboy Meets His Match will be published. And boy, oh, boy, does that couple ever clash!

It’s hard to imagine a young woman traveling west to marry a man she’d never set eyes on. The original catalog-bride business grew out of necessity. The lack of marriageable women in the west was partly responsible, but so was the Civil War. The war not only created thousands of widows but a shortage of men, especially in the South.

As a result, marriage brokers and heart-and-hand catalogs popped up all around the country. According to an article in the Toledo Blade, lonely men even wrote to the Sears catalog company asking for brides. (The latest such letter received by Sears was from a lonely marine during the Vietnam War.)

In those early days, advertisements cost five to fifteen cents, and letters were exchanged along with photographs. Fortunately, the telegraph and train made communication easier.

Not all marriage brokers were legitimate, and many a disappointed client ended up with an empty bank account rather than a contracted mate.

For some mail-order couples, it was love (or lust) at first sight. In 1886, one man and his mail-order bride were so enamored with each other that they scandalized fellow passengers on the Union Pacific Railroad during their honeymoon.

Not every bride was so lucky. In her book Hearts West, Chris Enss tells the story of mail-order bride Eleanor Berry. On the way to her wedding, her stage was held up at gunpoint by four masked men. While signing the marriage license, she suddenly realized that her new husband was one of the outlaws who had robbed her.

No one seems to know how many mail-order brides there were during the 1800s, but the most successful matchmaker of all appears to be Fred Harvey.  He wasn’t in the mail-order bride business, but, by the turn of the century, five thousand Harvey Girls had found husbands while working in his restaurants.

Under what circumstances might you have traveled west to marry a stranger?

His first mistake was marrying her; his second was falling in love.

Amazon

B&N

 

 

Wendy May Andrews Visits on Friday!

Miss Wendy May Andrews will visit here on Friday, April 26, 2019!

How much do you know about Orphan Trains and why they filled a great need? Miss Wendy will tell us.

She’ll give away a digital version of her new book Sophie!

This is Book 2 of her Orphan Train series and I know you’ll love it.

Head over on Friday and join the party. A comment will put your name in the drawing.

It’s fun and doesn’t cost a thing and we’d love to have you.

 

Mary Edwards Walker–Lady Doctor, Spy, POW, Activist

Mary Edwards Walker was a doctor, a Civil War POW and alleged spy, and she is the only woman to have ever earned a Congressional Medal of Honor. She was also a “radical” feminist activist, and an advocate of comfortable dress for women.

Mary was born in 1832 in Oswego, New York to a family of free-thinking abolitionists. Mary’s father thought that women’s clothing was restrictive and encouraged his five daughters to dress as they wanted. Mary embraced the style of Amelia Bloomer, a proponent of dress reform who introduced Turkish-style pants that came to be known as bloomers. Mary went on to wear pants for most of her life. She was arrested several times for impersonating a man. Later in life, she adopted the habit of wearing men’s evening wear to deliver lectures at various gatherings.

Mary’s parents encouraged her to get an education. She became the second woman, after Elizabeth Blackwell, to graduate from Syracuse Medical College in 1855. She was 21 years old. She married a fellow doctor (while wearing pants) in 1856 and kept her own name. She and her husband set up a joint practice, but it did not thrive. People did not want to see a female doctor. She and her husband divorced in 1869.

In 1861, the Civil War broke out, and Mary traveled to Washington D.C. in an effort to join the Union Army. She was denied, so volunteered instead. She was appointed assistant surgeon for the Ohio 52nd Infantry and in addition to treating wounded Union soldiers, made many trips over Confederate lines to treat Confederate civilians. It’s generally thought that she was serving as a spy at this time.

Mary was captured by Confederate troops and sent to a prisoner of war camp in 1864, but after serving 4 months was part of an exchange for Confederate doctors and returned to the Ohio 52nd.

Mary was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1865. Sadly, in 1917, her medal was rescinded, along with those of 910 other recipients after the standards were changed to actually seeing combat with the enemy. According to legend, when federal officers showed up at her house to retrieve the medal, she met them with a shotgun and told them she would not surrender the medal. The federal officers retreated empty-handed. Mary died in 1919, one year before women received the right to vote.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter reinstated her medal, citing her “distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice,patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex.”