I have to admit, it had been a few years since I’d written a western historical romance. When a friend invited me to take part in a multi-author series she was putting together, I had to stop and think about it… for all of five minutes.

Of course I was in. The thrill of having to research specific to the topic of the series drew my interest immediately. Not to mention the notion of refreshing my use of language and syntax. It was a writer’s dream to step into a brand new world in order to create vibrant characters and historically accurate storylines. The additional lure of the sweet and inspirational romance had me jumping feet-first into long-forgotten territory.

One of the first places I turned was to my attic, where boxes and boxes of family archives awaited me. My grandfather was a Methodist minister in the late 1800s through the early 1950s, just after I was born. While he spent most of his career serving three different churches in the small towns of middle Tennessee, he also ventured west on two occasions. The first time, in 1904, was on a steam locomotive and then via stagecoach to the smaller, more distant locations. Then, in 1927 he bought his first car and returned to Colorado via the very rough beginnings of the roadway system we know now.

His journals from both trips provided me with hours of insight I may never have found perusing the internet. I used his accounts of his stagecoach rides in that first sweet historical, Seth’s Secretive Bride, and made sure my heroine got a firsthand experience when traveling to meet her mail-order groom, and in the most uncomfortable way.

I continue to refer to grandpa’s journals, along with historical archives of certain events and locations, with every new historical romance that I write. I also rely on his daily notes of faith when I’m adding a touch of inspirational affirmation to my stories.

Earlier this year, I wrote my first Oregon Trail/wagon train romance. That truly took some research, as well as a smidge of imagination. However, it wasn’t until I began writing my most recent release, Lily’s Luck, that I found myself in totally unfamiliar territory.

Based on the Oklahoma Land Runs of the early 1890s, I found the subject of reassigning land on a first-come, first-served basis fascinating. I devoured everything I could find, and even downloaded a map where I plotted out my hero and heroine’s journey to claim their homestead in the land run of spring, 1892.

My next historical western project, Millicent’s Miracle, is a Thanksgiving Bride book and it brings me back to the Midwest. The characters I’m writing about have already made an appearance in my earlier Oregon Trail book, Ella (Prairie Roses Collection). Now it’s time for them to get their story.

I hope you’ll consider coming along on my western romance journey with me. So far, it’s been a fun ride and I can only imagine it getting better by the book.



I’m offering a signed copy of LILY’S LUCK to one “lucky” commenter today. (USA ONLY)

Just tell me… Do you have any old journals or letters from an ancestor?

Or have you gotten into genealogy to research your past?

Thanks again for stopping by!

+ posts


    • You’re not alone in that. My best friend has nothing to guide her through her family history. Her parents passed away when she was young. She’s thought about genology, but hasn’t tried it yet.

  1. On my dad’s side we go back to England, Scotland and Germany. On my mother’s side we go to France, Canada and Germany.
    My mom had a relative who researched the family history on her dad’s side. There was a Huron Native American Princess in Canada!
    No other claims to fame.
    I have my paternal Gma’s prayer book. I have my great aunt Anna’s Hope chest. My mom has several old medical books and children’s books from my paternal grandparents. I have a letter my dad wrote to me while I was a Sophomore in college (70’s). He died 30 years ago.

    • Laurie, what wonderful keepsakes and great ancestral history. I don’t have any letters from my dad, but there were a few love letters to my mom in her things. I had no idea dad was so … um… feisty.

  2. Yes we found my Grandmother’s journals when we were cleaning out my Dad’s house over the last 3 years!

  3. My ex-mother-in-law did research on her family and my family for my daughter when she was a teenager. It would been a great addition if there had been some journals, unfortunately there weren’t. She traced my family back to to 1850s. My grandfather’s mother’s first name was Cinderella and she was married and divorced several times in the early 1900s. Her last husband outlived her. However she was buried under her maiden name so it makes me wonder about the condition of her marriage.

    • Cinderella sounds like a very interesting woman. Perhaps the maiden name was a concession to not being able to fit all the other names on the tombstone. It wasn’t unusual in the early 1900s for a woman to retain all of her late husbands’ names as part of her identity.

  4. I don’t have any journals, just things passed down by word of mouth. A friend did some research for our family history, I have read it, but the copy is with my brothers family.

    • It’s definitely still nice to share the history even verbally. I remember tape recording some conversations with my paternal grandmother, but I couldn’t tell you where I put the tape.

  5. I cant wait to read this story. (won it on FB from you) We have so many old journals and letters and pictures from on my husbands side. So many are in French and German. It has been a lot of fun going through them.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Lori, yes, you do have a signed copy coming when I go to Maine next week. I hope you enjoy it.

  6. My sister started doing genealogy for her master’s degree about 35-40 yrs ago and my Mama was so excited because she had been given so much information via oral stories from her Mama and Daddy, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. We go back to King Edward IV on my paternal side. My maternal side-Quanah Parker’s mother, Cynthia, is a relative and Fess Parker, who played Daniel Boone, and way, way back, even Daniel Boone himself. They found letters written from great grandfathers back home during the Civil War, and copies of their “paychecks” during that same time. My sister and I each got one huge trunk that was brought from England to the Americas and landed at Ellis Island. I have a book about the Whittington side, my Daddy’s mother’s maiden name, and one of the Parker family, my Mother’s Mother’s maiden name. It is very extensive, the work having been done mostly by my Mama’s first cousin , Patrick Parker. I have so many interesting things…my Granny’s medical book from when she enrolled in college wanting to become a doctor. Her Daddy golfer her she was going to be a teacher as doctoring was not fit for women!! She had an older sister who was a teacher and therefore she was expected to do the same! Much newer, yet still very old, I have letters that my husband’s Dad wrote to his Mom while they were dating during the 1940’s. The neatest thing is that all of these people came from Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, to Oklahoma, and we’re still here! There are, of course, some who did not follow, and are still back “there”, as we’ve met a few on vacations, etc., but not that many. My grandfather Henry Thomas Hicks’s Mother and Father, came to the Red River area of Oklahoma and raised 7 boys and 2 girls, and I’m not sure if there were infants who did not make it, but every one of those boys were successful farmers, as were there boys, and, I’m proud to say, we still have some farmers in the family. I love my family, they were all such God fearing people, well, almost all of them! There were a few black sheep in the families!! On both sides! Who doesn’t have, to be truthful?!? That sometimes makes your history a little more interesting!

    • I’m soooo jealous of all that history. It’s so great that you have it. I know my family has its black sheeps AND its men of the cloth. Hopefully, it all evens out.

  7. Cant wait for your story. I have searched my ansastry. I have a picture of my 4 times grandmother who was native american. My mothers family were scottish and irish. I recently found my dad’s mother was Pennsylvania Dutch (Armish). Still researching.On my grandfathers side i have the family tress it was interesting.

  8. I have old photo journals on my mom’s side that depicts family members early on. Their pictures are so astute and serious. Hairdos are fascinating and clothing all in black. You are a new author to me and I will enjoy learning about your books. Thanks for blogging here today. Loved it!

    • Kathy, it was nice meeting you (and the others), even if it’s cyberly. I’m enjoying my return to historical westerns, and trying to put a bit of my own family history in each book.

  9. I have photocopies of letters between my
    maternal great-grandparents. They’re from the early 1900s. I can trace my mom’s family back to Germany. I also have Swiss on my grandma’s side.

    On my father’s side, I have a hardbound book of genealogy for the surname which traces ancestry back to Germany. I also have Scots-Irish on my grandma’s side.

    • Denise, I think we’re all a bit of everything. Being able to trace both sides back to Germany is also wonderful. You have to wonder if waaay back they even knew each other.

  10. I have many photo albums which are treasures and I will give to my children and grandchildren. My son gave me the DNA test as a gift several years ago,. It confirmed my background which I knew. this new technology and testing is wonderful and very worthwhile since it explores so much more than before.

    • Anne, all of my older grandchildren have done DNA testing. I think it was giving their father a complex. However, what I found strange (as did they), it came out a bit different for the two sisters even though they’re totally blood related with all the same family on both sides.

  11. I regard anything that is from my parents and grandparents really special and to be cherished. I know that the next generation won’t see the value since it does resonate with them which is unfortunate. It is meaningful and important. It takes maturity to realize this. Photos that I remember taken way back that are black and white give me great pleasure. I will save everything.

    • Ruth, I agree. I fear the desire to know oneself will disappear within the next generation or two. Modern conveniences like DNA testing has made the need for diaries and journals almost obsolete. Says the woman who’s leaving her grandchildren enough history to sink a ship.

  12. I grew up in a farmhouse that had been in the family since 1868. My mom had a display set up on a shelf that included ledgers from the grist mill that two of my dad’s uncles had run in the late 1890’s, old photo albums with pictures of my dad’s ancestors including some tintypes, and an old top hat we kids enjoyed dressing up in. There was also a box of old letters written by some of Dad’s uncles in the 1870’s and 80’s.

    My husband and I have become the keepers of his family’s history. We have boxes with paperwork and letters from the 1840’s to the 1930’s. Included are the original deed for the section of ground his grandfather bought from the Northern Pacific Railroad. That makes the history of railroad land grants very real to me. It is the size of a poster and made me think the NPRR used it to promote their business. We also have his grandfather’s original irrigation permit from 1890. It tells us that water permits were already required in Washington State in its first year of statehood. And so much more of family history in these boxes and just American history…..there is a letter to great grandfather in Ohio from one of his neighbors who joined the Army to see the country and in 1870 was at Fort Sanders near Laramie ,Wyoming. From this letter we learned the fort had a good library with newspapers from all over the country and a good selection of books. A library at a Western fort? Not something Hollywood or history books ever showed us.

    • Alice, hang onto all of that! It’s so wonderful to have. I’ve backed most of mine up on computer as well, but there’s nothing like the real things to grab onto.

  13. Westerns are fascinating and intriguing. I enjoy research since it is so interesting and is real history. I don’t have journals since no one had the time to write their thoughts. They were occupied with children and jobs that meant they could survive. I have to understand their lives were difficult and filled with trials and tribulations. DNA tests are invaluable and this new exploration is expanding so rapidly. We could learn a great deal from this. I do know my ancestors but still want to know even more.

    • Laini (first off, what a beautiful name). My great aunt’s middle name was also Pearl and I use it in an upcoming holiday book. I’ve been able to trace a few of my lesser-known family to westward travels and it’s been so exciting. Unfortunately, once they left the family-occupied areas of the south, there wasn’t much known about them. Every time I research a new book, I stop to wonder if one of them took part in any of these historic events.

  14. I don’t have any letters or journals from long-ago ancestors, but I do have the letters my parents wrote to each other when they were courting, as well as mine & my husband’s, so maybe someday future generations will have! 🙂

    • As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I have a few of my dad’s letters to my mom. What surprised me most was that he drew beautiful pictures at the top, kind of like creating his own stationery. I never knew he could draw like that.

  15. Nancy, welcome to P&P. We’re thrilled to have you. I’m so envious of you having a journal of your grandfather’s. Nothing from my ancestors survived because they were dirt poor. My second love is genealogy and I’ve uncovered some surprising facts about my grandmother and grandfather. But it’s started a whole bunch of unanswered questions that no one alive knows the answers to. Your book looks amazing. Wishing you much success with it.

    • Linda, thank you. My family was dirt poor too. My maternal grandpa was a Methodist minister with three county charges. Grandma helped him work the family farm to feed their two young children (my older aunt and uncle). She also got a job (almost of unheard of then) to add to the family finances. Just when things were picking up at the end of WWI, my grandma (at 48) got pregnant. Then, two years later, again with my mom. Keep going on those facts, they’ll evenutally lead to clarity.

  16. Unfortunately, no. My husband has done some genealogy for his family and he has old newspaper clippings and such. No journals though.

    • Cherie, at least you have a starting point if you want to go further. I know, until I found the journals and started reading, I had very little to go on myself. There’s still a lot I don’t know about my father’s side, despite knowing them better in my youth.

  17. Hi, yes, I have gotten into genealogy and it is so very interesting. We have no old journals, but one of my brothers has some old poems that one of my dads aunts wrote, and my dad would have turned 93 this month, but he has been gone for 18 years, so the poems are really old, I got to read the once when my dad had the little book of poems, they were written in Spanish. Your book sounds like a great read and I love your book cover, it is beautiful. Thank you for the chance. Have a great weekend and stay safe.

    • Alicia, ooo… poems in Spanish. The romantic in me is so jealous. My dad’s been gone a long time too, as has my mom. I’m just grateful for the information I have.

  18. I don’t have any old journals but it sure would be neat to have those. I have some older letters from my Grandmother. Those are nice to go and re-read on occasion.

    • Megan, thankfully both of my grandmothers were journalers, more so on my mom’s side. The letters will give you lots of insight though so enjoy them.

  19. You are so very lucky to have such wonderful records from your grandfather. So few people left letters and journals and even fewer were kept and cared for by their friends and family. What a wonderful treasure and resource for families, especially if one is a writer.
    We have no letters, journals or records from our families. They all seemed to stay in the same area since coming to North America in the early 1600’s. My brother got interested in genealogy a little over 10 years ago and has gotten very good at doing the research. He is now teach classes on how to trace your family. Unfortunately, we live too far away to be able to take them. He has traced them back to the early 1600’s and has information on where the came over from Ireland and France. Unfortunately it is expensive to trace further if doing it remotely. We had hoped to travel to Ireland to explore a bit more for him, but COVID got in the way. Maybe next year we could do so. He has found lots of interesting information about some things that were known and a lot about things we knew nothing about. Not only did it give us interesting information about our family, but we learned about some interesting historical events. One interesting piece of information was our family’s connection to Les File du Roi, the King’s Daughters. From 1663 to 1673 about 700 single or widowed women were sent by King Louis XIV to New France (now Canada) to establish more firm French settlements and claim to the territory. All our family lines (except the Irish which married into them) trace back to these women. We have at least 20 of them in our lineage. My brother has printed off “books” for family members on his research on the different family lines.

    • Patricia, how lucky your brother has gone into such detail. You will all benefit. Being that I live in Canada, I am vaguely family with how New France was established. Even though I’m on the East Coast and not in Quebec, we still have two or three huge French-speaking settlements here. I know you’re looking forward to getting your copy of you brother’s book, if you don’t already have it.

  20. Wagon train books are my favorite books to read. I’m always on studying my ancestors and trying to find all I can about them. I do know my 5th grandparents traveled by wagon train through the mountains of Virginia to Tennessee. They were the first settlers in Gatlinburg, TN.. Wagons Ho!!!!!

    • My mom’s family settled in a town called Pinhook, TN (which I believe was swallowed up by Memphis as it grew). They came by horse and carriage from both Georgia and Alabama before the Civil War, so no wagon trains. However, if you love wagon train stories, please check out my book, Ella, its part of the annual Mother’s Day celebrations known as the Prairie Roses. The series is up to 23 books as of this year. I’m book #12, and scheduled to be book #24 next year.

  21. Good afternoon, everyone. I so pleased to be here and want to thank the ladies of Petticoats and Pistols for having me. I would have been here earlier, but we’re at the tailend of a thunderstorm that started early this morning. Power was out for a bit, but it’s back on. This weird weather we’re having is starting to take its toll on a writer who obsesses when she’s away from her computer for too long. I will check back again later today for more comments.

  22. I have no journals. My mom has a notebook that she has put together of our family history on her side. All I have of my fathers in a family tree picture created by Catholic Sisters in Wisconsin. Is an actual tree starting at the roots up the tree, then all the branches and leaves, show my fathers side of the family.

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