Help Wanted in Leadville and a Giveaway!

While trying to decide what to post this month, I ran across some interesting things about Leadville, Colorado. I’ve written stories that took place in a town patterned after Leadville, but didn’t know some of the finer details. These little snippets of details were written by writers for The Chronicle and beg the question, “What sort of job opportunities are in Leadville and what are the salaries? Well, that’s a good question! Anyone looking to move somewhere should be asking such things. Back then Leadville was a boom town, so there were all sorts of opportunities available besides going there to mine gold.

Competent hardware clerks, for example, could always find work and got paid $75 to $100 per month! And what about first class milliners? They could make $18 to $25 dollars per week! Not bad for a hat maker. But seeing as how a talented milliner was hard to come by, they were worth it.

Machinists got paid $3.50 to $4 per day. Boiler makers got $3.50 per day. But there wasn’t a lot of demand for these guys so needless to say, they had extra milling around, waiting for work. And speaking of extra, the town had its share of barkeepers of all kinds. Even the most skilled could be out of work. But the ones that were employed made $75 to $125 a month! That’s more than the hardware clerks. If you were an Assayer, you could make even more money. The ones at the mines and smelters could make $125 to $200 a month!

And of course, if you were a hotel clerk, you made a cool $100 a month. And then there were the writers …

If you worked on one of the daily papers your pay could range from $25 to $40 a week. There was no demand for special articles. There was enough to write about as it was. And novelists? Brace yourselves my fellow fillies. They could find no work at all. There were already scads of journalists waiting in the wings for a time when they’d be needed. For many, it didn’t come, so they moved on.

Needless to say, the article ended with a warning that none come to Leadville in hopes of finding work in journalism. Today, however, I’m sure Leadville’s journalists find plenty of things to write about …

Have you ever seen a book or article that told you what sort of money folks made back in the day or what some of the everyday staples they needed cost? I’ve always found this fascinating! I’ll choose one person from the comments to win one free e-book copy of Winning the Spinster’s Heart. A fun little story about a town with a matchmaking problem and one poor fellow with an engineering degree. Now what was he going to do with it? This town also has a pair of novelists that live there. And they do just fine.



Fireplace Etiquette and a Give Away!

I know I’ve talked about the duties of servants, maids, odd beauty secrets and old West etiquette in Petticoats and Pistols before, but let’s face it, it never gets old. Especially since much of the advice given back then was so outlandish it bears looking at (and laughing at) again now and then. I have an extensive research library and have collected some fun “field-guides” on these subjects ranging from the late 1700’s to the early 1900s.

It’s interesting to note that not all of them were written by women. Did you know there was a Mr. Walsh who wrote a manual of domestic economy in 1856? The book was then updated in 1873. He wrote extensively about household management.

One tip I found from his book was this advice for women whose clothes have caught fire. Usually from standing too close to a fireplace, something a lady should never do. According to Mr. Walsh you should first:

1. Call for help by ringing the bell. A servant should come. (If one doesn’t than you better start praying your socks off. My thought, not Mr. Walsh’s.)
2. Rip off the clothes that are aflame and pour water on the clothing. The servant should have water in your room for this reason.
3. If this doesn’t stop the flames sit down on the floor in an upright position.
4. Roll oneself in a rug. Every room should have a rug in case of flaming females.
5. Stop wearing fine muslin.

Easy for Mr. Walsh to say, and where are the instructions for flaming males? That’s what I want to know. Maybe men never caught fire. And why would they when there was an etiquette rule that dictated gentlemen should never put their backs to the fire while conversing with others. And if one does put their back to a fire, it was considered extremely impolite to warm one’s derriere by raising the coat flaps at an angle of 45°, while the rest of the company in the room was freezing.

The queen of these tomes on cooking and domesticity was, of course, Isabella Beeton. Mrs. Beeton lived from 1836 to 1865. She was the original domestic goddess and published her famous Book of Household Management in 1861. It sold 60,000 copies in the first year, and 2 million copies by 1868. What’s interesting is that her commentary on servants, household management, and cooking are still used as primary sources today. Unfortunately, Mrs. Beeton died in 1865 from an infection during childbirth. Her husband, Samuel Beeton who was also her publisher, kept up the idea that she lived on, since her name was a large source of income. Spinoffs and abridged versions of her book were published to keep up the image that a matronly Mrs. Beaton was still alive and well. To my knowledge, she didn’t include anything about flaming skirts in her her book.

I have a maid, Betsy, who works for Mayor Vander and his wife Mercy. Characters from my town of Independence which is featured in my holiday mail order bride series. She’s the kind of servant that would throw a bucket of water on you if your skirts caught fire or roll you up in a rug herself. Mayor Vander wouldn’t care if he conversed with his back to the fireplace or not. That’s the thing about manners and some of the other things the experts of the day wrote about. Out West folks didn’t pay as much attention to such things. Unless of course they were from back east and brought their manners and etiquette with them.

Have you ever read or seen a book on manners, etiquette, or household tips from the 1800s? They’re hilarious to read! I’ll pick a random person from the comments below to receive a free e-book copy of Love in Independence which introduces the town and its quirky characters along with Betsy the maid.

Book Blurb: They say love covers a multitude of sins, and for matchmakers Mercy, Martha, and Maude, it’s a good thing! Fearing the town’s new pastor is lonely, they decide to take matters into their own hands, and order him a mail order bride! Imagine his surprise when he finds out? Only he doesn’t! Mercy, Martha, and Maude see to that!

Winnie Longfellow has spent years caring for her sick mother, and now that she’s passed, has nowhere to go but her Aunt Eugina’s. But her aunt has other things on her mind, other problems to deal with, and so Winnie accepts a proposal from a pastor out west looking for a mail order bride. Little did she know, he was looking for so much more, anything more! He had no idea he’d sent for one! Now Winnie finds herself at the mercy of three madcap matrons, determined that love will find a way. Despite multiple misunderstandings, a horrid bully/gossip, and a woman she’s sure her intended will marry instead of her, Winnie discovers some things about herself, and finds that love really does find its way …

Hometown History and a Giveaway!

We don’t often think of writing about where we live. We love to write about history and the old west, but for this month’s blog, it occurred to me that I should write about my hometown of Estacada, Oregon. Not that I haven’t written a little about the area before. I’ve shared Philip Foster’s farm with you as it’s a wonderful historical site. But the old Estacada Park, located south of what was once the Estacada Hotel, was built to attract throngs of streetcar-riding city dwellers to what was considered an amusement resort in the mountain foothills.


 The Oregon Journal described Estacada as the Mecca and Medin of summertime picnickers and thousands of other pleasure seekers as well. It beautiful park and hotel made it especially attractive. The Estacada and Cazadero train would leave from the east approach of the Morrison Bridge in Portland every two hours daily. The distance was 36 miles, and the entire ride gave folks an interesting and excellent idea of the Willamette Valley in the vicinity of Portland. People were whirled through a fine suburb and farm country with grain fields, orchards, stock pastures, berry farms, chicken ranches and stretches of forests. The paper described the line running to “new country” where the land is being cleared for new homes.


Estacada is a spanish word and it means staked out or marked with stakes. It was first suggested by George Kelly as a name for the town site at a meeting of the Oregon Water Power Townsite Company directors on December 27, 1903. Kelly had selected the name at random from a U.S. Map which showed Llano Estacado, in Texas. If Kelly’s suggestion had not been drawn from the hat, the town could have been named Rochester, Lowell or Lynn. The name Estacada is also used in Arizona. Having done a report on the history of Estacada back in high school, we found that some folks said the town was named for Esther Cada, the daughter of one of the more prominent citizens back in the day. Some of the older folks in town still say that’s how it got its name!


The Oregon Water Power Railway Co. began streetcar service from Sellwood to Estacada in 1905. In 1907, the name changed to the Portland Railway Light and Power Co. Passenger service and continued until 1932.

Other than the park and hotel that had its own restaurant, there was also a Confectionary and the Ice Cream Store along with a grocery, the First State Bank and various other businesses. Some of the buildings are still there today including many original houses and churches. When doing my history report, one of the things that stood out was the number of saloons in the tiny hamlet. Fourteen! And that was back in the early 1900s. Today the population of Estacada is about 3600. That was a lot of watering holes for one tiny little town. But as it was considered a tourist spot, I can see the amount.

Maybe one day I’ll use Estacada as a setting for a book. Quite a few movies and television shows have been shot around here including Kevin Costner’s The Postman, The Librarians, (I remember when Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek the Next Generation was in town directing and gave a special talk at the library. That was in 2015 as I recall), Without a Paddle, Extraordinary Measures, Behind the Mask, and more. Maybe this is why as teenagers, we couldn’t wait to get out of here, and now most of us have returned. Our little town isn’t a bad place to live and we like it here.

What’s the history of your hometown? Have you ever delved into it? I’ll pick a random person from the comments below to win one free e-book of mine of their choice!






Diaries in the Old West and a Give Away!


The most famous American on the planet (at least for a period of time) was none other than William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody. He was a former scout, an Indian fighter and a buffalo hunter. But most of us know him as the guy who created “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” in 1883. A circus-like attraction that featured cowboys, Native peoples, Turks, Gauchos, Arabs, Mongols and Georgians (often referred to as Cossacks). The show was very popular and made international stars of many of its performers such as Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull. It was also what many consider the forerunner to the modern-day rodeo and inspired a generation of film makers like John Ford, John Wayne and Sam Peckinpah.

But everything wasn’t glitz and glamour with the show. Cody ran up against hard times and if it wasn’t for an Englishman by the name of Evelyn Booth (who was worth a cool 25 million) the show most definitely wouldn’t have gone on. Booth tagged along with Cody and the show and recorded his experiences in a diary that, over time, found its way into the hands of the Denver Public Library. If not for Booth’s travel diary, we wouldn’t know all we know today about the show.

Diaries written back in the day are a wealth of information for us modern folks. What better way to learn about the past than from those who lived in it day to day? Diaries and manuscripts from the past have become big business as well, and folks clamor after these treasures with gusto. And why not? You can step into the past and get a first-hand look at what it was like to live back then. Hand-written diaries are also a popular item for collectors. I have a few myself.

As far as diaries on the market, their historical content is what drives the price. Diaries with Civil War and western frontier settings are highly sought after. If they have drawings in them, even better!
Diary writing has been making a big comeback lately and you can find all sorts of fancy journals and diaries on sites like Amazon and Etsy. Not that any of our hand-written diaries will be sought after by history buffs long after we’re gone, but one never knows!

Do you currently keep a diary? Have you ever kept one? I’ll pick a random person from the comments to receive a free e-copy of Trail to Clear Creek, in which my heroine does indeed keep a diary while traveling west.

Cowboys, Christmas, and a Giveaway!


Who doesn’t love a cowboy? Mix them with Christmas and you have some of the best books of the year! Not to mention events. Sadly with everything going on in the world, many events have been canceled. Such as the Cowboy Christmas retail event held in the Las Vegas Convention Center every year during the two-week National Finals Rodeo events. Sigh, I’ve always wanted to go. Maybe next year.

In the meantime, I’ll read some of the wonderful Christmas stories available and get lost in some stories. In fact, some folks love these stories so much they read them all year long! And why not? They’re fun, romantic, and full of cowboys!

What is the allure of the cowboy? I have a book releasing next week, A Cowboy for Christmas. There are times in the story where the heroine, Amy Jo, can’t take her eyes off the hero, Clay. When she asks herself why it’s because he’s a cowboy. You see she grew up with the same romanticized version of the cowboy that a lot of us did. We forget how hard it was and still is to be a cowboy. We may have modern conveniences like pick up trucks and modern machinery to make ranch life easier, but the fact remains, it can still be back-breaking work at times.

My sister knows a rancher in central Oregon. One of these days I’d like to spend time with this gentleman on his ranch and get a good idea of what “a day in the life of a modern cowboy” is like. That and I’ve always wanted to see his ranch. He does a mix of cattle and horses and at times comes to this side of the mountain to hold horse clinics that my sister attends. We also have bought beef from him. I call him Cowboy Ron.

So while I look forward to visiting Cowboy Ron’s ranch in the spring, I’ll continue to read one of my favorite combinations, cowboys, and Christmas. Because between snippets of reading amidst all the writing I do, it will take me until spring to get through my “to be read pile” I have!

For a free e-copy of my new book, A Cowboy for Christmas, what are some of your favorite books featuring Cowboys and Christmas? I’m sure there are a lot I haven’t got my hands on! I’ll pick a random winner from the comments below.