Secrets of My Heart and Book Giveaway

Secrets of My Heart comes out March first and is part of the Willamette Brides series (a sequel to the Heart of the Frontier series which came out several years ago).  The story deals with three women who are caught up in the racial conflicts of 1879 Oregon. As I researched for this story, I kept finding a lot of issues that reminded me of problems we’re continuing to deal with today.

For instance, did you know that early in Oregon’s history, exclusion laws went into place that made it illegal for African Americans to even take up residency in Oregon Country.  Wagon train masters signed agreements to not allow blacks in their trains. In one of the museums I visited they had a display that told the story of former slave Rose Jackson who was forced to hide in a specially made wagon box all day, every day, as the wagon train came west. She was only able to come out at night after everyone had gone to bed.

Freed slave in Oregon.

There were three exclusion acts – Peter Burnett’s Lash Law was one of these that called for African Americans to be expelled from Oregon, and if they refused to go, they were to be lashed. The law was rescinded in 1845 when it was determined lashing too harsh. The next exclusion law was made in 1849 and stated, it was unlawful for any “negro or mulatto” to enter or reside in Oregon Territory.  It was rescinded in 1854.  The third and final exclusion act was passed in 1857 and actually written into Oregon’s Bill of Rights. The clause prohibited African American from being in the state, owning property, and making contracts. Oregon became the only free state admitted to the Union with an exclusion clause in its constitution. It wasn’t repealed by voters until 1926, with final racist language not removed until 2002.

While the exclusion laws were generally not enforced, they hung as a threat over the heads of African Americans who feared that at any given moment new laws might be passed to strip away their possessions and force them from the state.  This was especially driven home when the Fourteenth Amendment issue came up.

The Fourteenth Amendment which grants citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves, was ratified by a very narrow margin in 1866.  Oregon then rescinded that ratification in 1868.  The Fourteenth Amendment in Oregon was not re-ratified until 1973. They also refused to ratify the 15th Amendment which allows African American men the right to vote. That law wasn’t ratified in Oregon until 1959.  For more information go to:

Of course, along with these laws, were laws against the Native Americans. Including making it illegal for whites to marry a person who was at least half Native American or even a quarter black, Chinese or Pacific Islander. This law wasn’t rescinded until 1951.

Learning about these laws and the problems they caused was quite fascinating and reminded me that as Solomon said in the Bible there truly is nothing new under the sun.  It also reminded me that as Christians we should love others as Jesus loved us and when we do that, it allows for no prejudice or negativity based on the color of our skin. 

I hope you’ll enjoy the series.

Soli Deo Gloria


What do you think would be the hardest part of traveling the Oregon trail in a covered wagon?

Tracie is giving away a print copy of Secrets of My Heart to one person who comments today.


Tracie had an unexpected travel engagement arise today and will not be available to respond to comments here today, but she welcomes readers to contacted her directly at or through her website

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20 thoughts on “Secrets of My Heart and Book Giveaway”

  1. The weather, Native Americans attacks. The uneven terrain. Just about anything you can think of. Starting over. Leaving behind the family and place you grew up in. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Sore feet a lot of people walked. Exhausted by the end of the day. Not being able to bath for weeks if not months.

  3. The hardest part I think would be a woman and not being able to bathe during our monthly visitors. I just can’t imagine how these women made it through the journey while having their mensural periods.

  4. I would say about all of it. I am to use to modern things now. I like my running water and hot showers everyday and being able to cook on an electric stove.

    • I’m the odd woman out. I would love to live in the older days without all the modern Advantages. I would have a hard time being obedient and not having the rights as a woman as we do now.

  5. My answer would be FEAR of the unknown. This could include storms, rushing rivers, animals, trusting strangers, staying healthy, etc. Thank you for sharing your research. I look forward to reading this book.

  6. Hi Tracie. I love the cover of your book. Congratulations. Woohoo. Wow, this is an interesting article. I had no idea about these laws in Oregon. Hmm, I would love to experience traveling in a covered wagon on a trail. Even after all I have read, or maybe because of all I have read. Either way, I am sure that now, not having the conveniences I am so used to would be tough at first until I could find a new way of doing things and setting new routines. Every day would be a new day in the Lords grace and love and there would always be new things to see and hear. So much to glorify our Father for. Wow what an exciting time it could be. So much to learn.

  7. I think fear of the unknown would be a factor, traveling through places that you don’t know or what to expect, ie: weather, terrian, Native Americans, wild animals, etc. Making sure you had enough food and essentials for both livestock & people. I also think sickness would be a worry, especially lack of clean water to drink. But, I’m sure a lot of folks looked forward to the adventure and starting a new life somewhere new.I

    Wonderful post today, I always love learning something new in history. Your books are some of the best to read! Thank you for a chance to win a copy of “Secrets of my Heart”!

  8. Wow, I do not remember this history about Oregon! I don’t really associate any of the west with slavery! Thanks for sharing! I’ve yet to read one of your books and would love the opportunity!

  9. That last stretch from the Blue Mountains to Fort Vancouver or Oregon City. Sometimes when I am traveling I-84 and Mt Hood looms in front of me I think of the women who came across the country in a wagon and walking and now there are more mountains or the river to traverse. I think I would have said I’m stopping here. There is good grass and water and I’m not taking another step. I’m not surprised that until the late 1890’s Walla Walla was the largest community in Washington Territory/State.

  10. I think the hardest part for me traveling the Oregon Trail, would have been the long trek across the plains. Even in a car, the scenery doesn’t change much. The mountains seem to take forever to get closer. I can’t imagine trudging day after day and not seeming to make any progress. It must have been discouraging. I could have made the trip 40 years ago, but there is no way I could manage it today.

    It is a little surprising these laws were passed. The impression has been that the West was more open and welcoming to those who needed a fresh start in life. What is most surprising is how long so many of these laws stayed on the books. There are laws like those buried in so many places, written but forgotten. I grew up in the northeastern corner of New York State. There was not much diversity in the population. It was never an issue. When an Air Force base was built there in the 1950’s, some unexpected issues arose. The area was part of the underground railroad partly because it is only 30 miles or so from the Canadian border. When non-white airmen started looking for apartments to rent, there was a big surprise. Many of the old apartment buildings and houses had written into their deeds that the property could not be sold or rented to blacks. I was young, and even though I remember the issue, I don’t remember how they eventually solved the problem. Sadly, people always seem to circle the wagons to “protect” themselves from something they do not understand or are not familiar with rather than take the time to educate themselves. Even more upsetting, it seems the country is taking a big step backwards to those times.

  11. Wow, crazy laws! I believe finding food and the dangers of attacks would be the hardest part. Not sure I’d be up for it!

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