Where Did the Settlers Go?

Just where did those settlers go you ask?

They made their way to Missouri to join a wagon train company. Hopeful Americans and immigrants alike longing for a better life. The free land in the West, and especially in Oregon, seemed the stepping stone to that life of plenty.

Just imagine that first day of walking the hundred miles to the other side of the continent. Here’s how I pictured it for my latest heroine in Beau’s Elegant Bride:

The oxen slowed even more than their typical crawling speed. One even tried to snatch a mouthful of grass from beside the road. Using the small whip in his hand. Beau carefully snapped it above their heads. At the same time, he crooned a command.

“Giddup now. Day’s not done.”

The cattle resumed their walk, pulling slightly faster. It seemed they were no happier to be on this trail than Francy was. Never in her life had she imagined to feel any kinship to stupid beasts.

While more than an estimated 400,000 people left from Missouri on wagon trains for Oregon, very few made it to that spot. Only about 80,000 actually settled in Oregon.

If you’ve played the popular Oregon Trail game, you might think these overlanders simply died. That works for a game, but is historically untrue. Very few actually passed away.

The trail ended some pioneers’ dreams merely because of broken wagons. If a traveler didn’t bring an extra axel, he had to settle near where he was stuck. That is, if someone couldn’t help repair the wagon.

Even then, discouragement might have been enough to make the man decide to stay on the plains. After all, land for farming could be claimed there and if a man had served in the Union Army during the war between the states, he could stake a claim for little or nothing.

As wagons reached the Rocky Mountains, travelers could see distant towering shapes growing daily larger. Imagine how intimidated those people felt. Already tired from crossing the plains, they saw those distant peaks and knew they needed the energy to get over the mountains. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oregon-Trail

At the junction of the Raft and Snake Rivers, trails verged to other parts of the country. These promised a bit easier going or even the chance to settle and leave the trail behind.

Denver had a boom of miners. The young city, not much more than a collection of tents as you can see by this picture, desperately needed the produce from farmers.

Many settlers veered toward the land available there. Word had been passed to these travelers that the soil was good. The promised of building a home and even planting a late summer garden lured some from their goal of Oregon.

My characters in Beau’s Elegant Bride consider this very thing:

Panic flashed through her. “Do you think we might farm near the Crooks? Are they going all the way to Oregon?”

“Might be we could change plans. The Crooks are leavin’ the company and followin’ the South Platte in a few days.”

“Are there mountains that way?”

Beau squeezed her tighter and rested his chin on her head, not something easily done as they were similar in height. With her head bent against him, he managed it. “I’d need to study my map or ask William Crook ‘bout it. He says the people in and around Denver need farmers bringin’ in vegetables.”

News from California circulated in the East about the rich soil and crops that could be grown. California, with its warmer temperatures or even the promise of gold, also had some separating from the wagon trains to make up a smaller train as they headed away from the company to take a southern trail.

Where did all the settlers go? The easy answer is they simply settled, lived, and helped change the face of our nation.

Now it’s your turn. Do you think you’d have had the strength needed to stay on the path to Oregon? Or would you have stopped or veered off course long before? I’m giving away an ebook copy of Beau’s Elegant Bride to three (3) lucky commenters.

The Sweepstakes Rules posted on P&P apply.

About Marisa…………

A retired high school English teacher, she and her husband reside in Saginaw, Michigan. Her sweet historical romances focus on her home state of Wisconsin. Inspiration to write came in part from hearing family stories about her pioneering Wisconsin ancestors.

Women can be feminine and still be downright dangerous.

Heather Blanton

Hey, y’all! It’s an honor and a thrill to be back visiting you here at Petticoats and Pistols. You know, the name of this blog says it all. At least for me. Women can be feminine and still be downright dangerous.

My new book, A Scout for Skyler, from the Mail-Order Mama series, has been described as Pride and Prejudice meets The Beverly Hillbillies.

Yes, it’s a comedy, but my heroine, Priscilla Jones, was written as a serious tribute to some of the most amazing pioneer women in American history.

Over the years, my research has introduced me to some gals who defied expectations and overcame some impossible situations. Sometimes, it was life-and-death. Other times, it was a matter of life—hers, and how she wanted to live it.

As I was writing A Scout for Skyler, I had these historical figures in my head:

Of course, when we think of rough-and-rowdy frontier women, the first one to come to mind should be Calamity Jane. She lived in a man’s world. Smoke, drank, chewed, and fought with the best of them.

Orphaned at twelve, left to care for five brothers and sisters, Calamity did not shirk her duty. Most likely she did work as a prostitute early on to provide for the family. She left the lifestyle behind, though, by learning to shoot and throw a respectable punch. Everyone who knew Calamity did respect her courage and her kindness. She rescued a runaway stage from a Cheyenne war party and nursed some Deadwood residents back to health during a smallpox epidemic. The only thing Calamity couldn’t do was win Hickock’s heart.

Susan McSween watched her husband get gunned down in the street during the Lincoln County War. Livid over his murder by a US Army colonel in cahoots with the Murphy-Dolan gang, she stayed in town and hired an attorney to fight for justice. He was soon murdered, as well. Susan still didn’t back down or leave. She changed tactics. She figured out the best way to get back at the corrupt forces in Lincoln County was to hit them in the pocketbook.

Susan McSween was a shrewd businesswoman and she put all her efforts into frustrating her nemesis, James Dolan. Eventually, she became the Cattle Queen of New Mexico, at one point running nearly 5,000 head of cattle. Best of all, she outlived all her enemies.

And I thought of Nancy Hart, a patriot on the frontier of North Georgia. The Cherokee named her War Woman because she was fearless and an accurate shot (even with crossed eyes). Her real legend came about when she killed six British soldiers with their own guns.

Six.

I could go on and on. The women who built this country were tough, stubborn, and courageous. Suffice it to say, the things my girl Priscilla Jones does in A Scout for Skyler—she’s totally capable of them. Because real heroines have gone before her.

My hero, Captain Corbett, is an arrogant Scotsman who believes women should have babies not opinions. How well do you think an attitude like that would have gone over with the rough-and-tumble Calamity Jane, or the fiery, refined Susan McSween?

In A Scout for Skyler, all these ladies have a voice, and the story was a hoot to write. Talk about fireworks and sassy dialogue.

A Scout for Skyler is part of the multi-author series, Mail-Order Mama. All the stories are stand-alones but have one thing in common: the mail-order bride is a surprise. I hope you’ll check them all out.

To buy a copy of A Scout for Skyler click here.

To visit Heather’s website click here.

GIVEAWAY!! Today, I’d like to give TWO random commenters ebooks of A Scout for Skyler. So, tell me, do you have a favorite heroine from history? Belle Starr, Amelia Earhart? Pocahontas? Or…?

Margaret’s Grand Adventure & Book Giveaway

I’ve always loved writing Mail Order Bride books.  I often wonder if I would have had enough nerve to travel across the country to marry a stranger.

Many women did so out of necessity. The Civil War created not only an abundance of widows but also a shortage of men.  Many women needed marriage just for survival.  Single women had a hard time making it alone in the East. This was especially true of widows with young children to support.

Still, the thought of a woman traveling thousands of miles to an unknown future is hard to comprehend. 

Would I have done it? 

I like to think I was adventurous enough or at least brave enough to have done it.  However, recently, I found myself in a situation that makes me now know I’m basically a coward at heart.  Yep, I would have lived and died an old maid had I lived in the 1800s.

How do I know this? It all came about when a friend of mine insisted I sign up for one of those online dating sites.  She said it was nothing more than a modern-day Mail Order Bride registry like they had in the Old West.  After initially resisting, I finally gave in.  I figured if nothing else I would get a story out of it.

Lo and behold, I was contacted by a man who was also a widow and lived locally.  He suggested we meet for lunch at a nearby restaurant.  He seemed nice enough, so I said okay.  Writers will do almost anything for a story, right?

The restaurant happens to be one and a half miles from me, but it felt like a three-thousand-mile journey.  A zillion thoughts went through my mind, mainly having to do with ax murderers.

I Almost Chickened Out

There were umpteen places to turn around and I considered every last one of them.  By the time I reached the restaurant, my hands were glued to the steering wheel.

I was about to race for home when I spotted a nice-looking tall man waiting by the door.  I opened the window and croaked, “Are you Jim?”

He said that he was and that was the beginning of an amazing whirlwind romance.  Who would have ever thought such a thing possible?   He is a wonderful man and I’m so lucky to have found him.  We laughed because it turns out he had been just as nervous that first day as I had been.

Jim and I are getting married on June 5th and since we plan on doing a lot of traveling, this is my last blog.  I’ll miss you all but will come back to visit.  You can’t keep us fillies away from the barn for long.

Thank you so much for your great support through the years.  Just for the fun of it, I’m giving away an eBook copy of my book, The Outlaw’s Daughter.  Ah, but you’ve got to answer the following question to qualify for the drawing.

Have you or would you ever consider trying an online dating site?

Amazon

Once Upon a Mail Order Bride Cover Reveal

 

I just love when I get a new cover. It’s like opening a present on Christmas morning. I never tire of seeing the new designs by the people at Sourcebooks. They’re truly amazing.

I especially love this one. The colors are so beautiful and the models are truly romantic

This is Outlaw Mail Order Brides #4 and the ex-preacher Ridge Steele gets a bride at last.

Except Adeline Jancy cannot speak.

She communicates through writing so she carries paper and pencil everywhere. But just because she can’t speak, doesn’t mean she’s passive. Ridge finds that out pretty quick and doesn’t make the mistake again.

This story is about finding hope and having the courage to right wrongs. Ridge and Addie are reaching for the impossible. Oftentimes it’s easier to let things stay the way they are, especially when living in a safe, outlaw town. It’s a lot harder to force change and they had to reach a point where they could accept that it would be possible by the slimmest of margins to make their lives better and grab hold of their future.

I’m going to be very sad to leave Hope’s Crossing. I love all these people. But a new series awaits and will start soon.

So tell me what you like or don’t like about this cover and/or the title. The book comes out on November 24, 2020.

Amazon  |  B&N  |  APPLE

 

Why do we Love Mail-Order Bride Stories so Much? Julie Ridgmont explains …

Mail-order brides who came west to marry suitors whom they had only corresponded with on paper are a popular subject among Western-themed blogs like this one, and among readers of Western romance. Why are we so fascinated with them? Perhaps because of the mystery and drama that must have ensued when a union was formed of such different means than our own? Or perhaps because this trope naturally makes a good romance because of the many aspects of marriage that will have to be sorted out between both parties?

If you look on Amazon, you will find almost as many mail-order bride stories as billionaire stories. So even though we as readers gravitate toward the same types of stories over and over, there’s still an element of intrigue that keeps drawing us to them.

As an author, I was wondering how to take this popular (and, let’s face it, overused) trope and turn it into something fresh, something that would stay in the readers’ minds a little longer than the average mail-order bride story. I was planning to write two stories about a widow and her grown daughter, both of whom had lost their significant others in the Civil War, and were moving west to start a new life. Then I was asked to write another story for the multi-author series, The Belles of Wyoming, after contributing three previous books. The fourth book, Daring to Love Again, proved to be more difficult than the others as I built a mystery around a sawmill owner and his family. The “bad guys” in this story had been terrorizing people in the surrounding area. When the law finally caught up to them, two of them were captured and hung. The third criminal committed suicide.

Melissa Burgess and her mother, Susannah Eversoll, were married to two of these men. After becoming widowed, Susannah decided to leave her husband’s memory behind and start over. She also decided to find a new husband for Melissa—without Melissa’s knowledge. And there is the fresh spin on this traditional trope—one that readers still love after reading hundreds of others like it. A Glimmer of Hope, Book 1 in the Brides of Hope Hollow series, is Melissa’s story, and Hope Springs Eternal, Book 2, is Susannah’s. Not every story in this series will be a mail-order bride story, however. I’ve taken care to build these stories around a town that cares for its own in southern Oregon (near modern-day Grant’s Pass and Medford). Book 3, Her Only Hope, has another fun twist in that the town blacksmith needs an assistant while recovering from an injury. What he doesn’t know is that the person who comes to his aid is a woman disguised as a man! I’ve been researching blacksmithing and even interviewed a farrier and watched him shoe his horse. It was a neat experience for a greenhorn like me. I can hardly wait to share book 3 with you. Thankfully, it won’t be too much longer. It’s slated to release on August 28, 2020. If you haven’t visited the town of Hope Hollow, Oregon yet, I hope you will soon. It’s a place that I wish I could visit for real.

 

 

As mentioned earlier, Susannah’s first husband was a rapscallion, and even though she married David shortly after becoming a widow, she is still trying to come to terms with who her first husband really was and the way he died. I’ve had a similar tragedy happen in my life, and so I’ve taken every precaution to tell this story in a sensitive manner and convey a message of hope and healing.

***Today I’m offering a signed paperback of Hope Springs Eternal, Susannah and David’s story. Are you a person of faith and been tested in some way? Or has your life turned out exactly as you planned?

Here is the blurb for Hope Springs Eternal:

Carving out a new life in Oregon isn’t for the faint of heart. Neither is becoming a mail-order bride.

For 36-year-old Susannah Eversoll, starting over after her husband’s suicide, not to mention betrayal, is what she feels the need to do. So she arranges for herself and her grown daughter, Melissa, to become mail-order brides farther west in the town of Hope Hollow, Oregon. But Susannah will be starting over in more ways than she planned. Although he is kind and caring, David didn’t tell her that his children are young and exhaustingly unruly. And when pushed to her breaking point, a freak accident wipes away her memory. Who is she? Who are these people? Where does she belong?

David Stratton’s hopes for the future died along with his wife two years ago. Now he’s doing the best he can to raise his rambunctious and sometimes quarrelsome children, but he needs help. More than that, though, he’s lonely. Now that he’s found Susannah, he isn’t about to let her go. When Susannah loses her memory in a skating accident, a traveling medicine man decides that he can help her. But is his interest in Susannah’s well-being genuine or does something sinister lie beneath? Can David unravel the mystery that shrouds his wife? Will Susannah regain her memory in time to save their marriage? Or will the love that began to blossom between them shrivel up and die in the wintry storms ahead?

Book 2 in the popular new series, Brides of Hope Hollow, is a story of hope and redemption, and a renewal of faith.

Universal purchase link for Hope Springs Eternal: https://amzn.to/2Mb5lDH

Julia Ridgmont’s author bio:

Julia Ridgmont grew up in the American West, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows how to ride a horse. What it does mean, however, is that she loves to weave the country’s rich history into riveting tales full of romance and intrigue.

When she’s not writing, Julia enjoys cooking, sewing costumes for her children, spending time with her husband, and watching her children perform in sports or plays—or, if she’s really bored or stuck on a plot twist, cleaning the house.

Follow Julia as she unveils heroes whose strength and courage are only surpassed by their tenderness, and heroines who hide their lonely hearts with a cover of steel. It will take overcoming insurmountable odds and an iron will for them to find a love that lasts forever. Luckily, they have Julia to help them along.

Not sure if you want to use these social media links, but here they are in case:

Julia’s NL: https://juliaridgmontbooks.com/subscribe

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/julia-ridgmont

Stories that Connect our Lives Facebook reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1493800594035114

https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliaridgmont

Julia’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWecns0cO8kx2vHWUpRre-g

 

Pioneer Cooking by Linda Hubalek

Man, your mouth is going to water today! Historical author Linda Hubalek is talking about how the pioneers got by and may have some lessons for us so make her welcome.

In this unprecedented time, when we are all home due to the virus affecting the world, we have to prepare meals for ourselves and our families. Luckily, we still have electricity and the appliances that keep and prepare our foods.

Can you imagine what life would be like if we didn’t have electricity right now? Talk about shutting down the world!

Being a writer who has spent a lot of time researching history, I think we still have it easy in 2020 compared to pioneer ancestors.

Consider the work it took to prepare a meal back in 1870 on the frontier Plains compared to today. Here are photos from the KansasMemory.org to share with you the work which had to be done before you prepared your meal. And I’ve also added recipes from my book: EGG GRAVY: Authentic Recipies From the Butter in the Well series.

Want to make a cake and need two eggs?

First, you had to raise the chickens who will produce the eggs for you!

And you wouldn’t have a box cake mix on hand either. Here are recipes to make an Angel Food Cake, and Sunshine Cake to use up all those egg yolks.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE

Whites of 11 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup cake flour

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift sugar and flour together seven times. Put cream of tartar and salt in eggs and beat very light, fold in sugar and flour, add vanilla. Put in a cold oven and bake slowly for 1 hour. (Make your cake flour by sifting 4 cups flour and 1 cup cornstarch together four times.) 

SUNSHINE CAKE

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

1 cup sweet milk

11 egg yolks, beaten light

3 cups flour, sifted three times with 2 tps. baking powder

Bake in tube pan 45 minutes. Use any flavoring desired.

 

Need milk to drink or butter to use in a recipe?

Go milk a cow!

Butter

Pour ripened cream into butter chum and chum for about 30 to 35 minutes until the butter is about the size of wheat grains. Draw off the buttermilk and add cold water. Slowly chum for a few minutes, then draw off the water.

Put the butter in a wooden bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of butter. Let stand a few minutes, then work the butter with a wooden paddle to get the last of the liquid out and the salt in. Press in crocks or butter molds and store in a cool place.

 

Bacon for breakfast?

Today, we pull a pound of bacon from the refrigerator and cook it in a skillet or the oven. In the past, you had to raise the pig before you butchered the animal for the meal.

Sugar Cured Meat

After butchering, cool the meat thoroughly and cut into family-sized chunks. Rub each chunk with coarse salt and set aside for 24 hours. Tightly pack the meat in an earthen vessel-a syrup barrel is good-putting hams and shoulders in the bottom and bacon slabs on top.

Heat 4 gallons of water. Let the water boil and then cool a little before adding the following ingredients. For each 100 lbs. meat, weigh out 10 lbs. salt, 4 lbs. brown sugar and 2 ounces saltpeter. Let mixture cool thoroughly and pour over meat. This amount should be sufficient to cover the meat in the vessel.

Put on a wooden or china cover over the top and weigh it down with a stone to keep meat under the brine. If it isn’t enough brine to cover the meat, add more. Put vessel in a cool place and let stand for six weeks (ham) and only one week for the bacon slabs. If hams are large, leave in for eight weeks. Take the meat out of the brine, then hang and smoke it.

Feel better about cooking a meal now?

After this brief memory back to the 1800s, I hope you enjoy having the convenience of cooking meals for a while, even if we have to wear a mask and gloves to shop at a grocery store.

Please stay safe and stay well!

Linda Hubalek

Drawing for FIVE winners

Five readers will win an ebook copy of (The Mismatched Mail-Order Brides Book 2) by commenting on what you’d serve as a meal if you had no electricity today. 

 

BOOK 1 is FREE! It sets the story theme for the Mismatched Mail-Order Brides series. Either click HERE or on the cover and grab your copy!

 

ABOUT LINDA

Linda Hubalek has written over forty books about strong women and honorable men, with a touch of humor, despair, and drama woven into the stories. The setting for all the series is the Kansas prairie, which Linda enjoys daily, whether by being outside or looking at it through her office window.

Her historical romance series include Brides with Grit, Grooms with Honor, and the Mismatched Mail-Order Brides. Linda’s historical fiction series, based on her ancestors’ pioneer lives, include Butter in the Well, Trail of Thread, and Planting Dreams.

When not writing, Linda is reading (usually with dark chocolate within reach), gardening (channeling her degree in Horticulture), or traveling with her husband to explore the world.

Linda loves to hear from her readers, so visit her website to contact her or browse the site to read about her books.

WEBSITE  |  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

The Texas State Treasury Robbery by Susan Page Davis

We’re so happy to welcome the return of Susan Page Davis. How close did Texas come to bankruptcy? She’ll tell you. Oh, and scroll down for her giveaway!

Immediately after the Civil War, Texas was in chaos. This was at least partly due to the hasty disbanding of the Confederate army at the end of the war. There were 60,000 troops in Texas in the spring of 1865. Morale was horrible. Many Confederate soldiers deserted and plundered. Soldiers pillaged the quartermaster’s stores in Galveston in late May and detained and plundered a train. A mob demanded that a government warehouse be opened to them, and a blockade-running ship was overrun by civilians. Troops sent to calm the mob joined in the plunder. Other episodes of rioting and stealing exploded across Texas.

When word reached Austin that the Confederate forces had surrendered to Grant, the Texas legislature couldn’t raise enough members to repeal the secession ordinance. Rather than stay and face the uncertainty of their status under the Reconstruction government, Governor Pendleton Murrah and several other Confederate officials fled into Mexico. Most other state officials were removed from office. Union occupation troops were on the way, and Texas temporarily was denied readmission to the Union.

During this time of disorganization and fear, violence became common. Mobs and bands of outlaws, many of them army deserters, contributed to the turbulence. In the capital, Austin, citizens got together in an attempt to protect the people and their property.

Captain George R. Freeman, a Confederate veteran, organized a small company of volunteers in May 1865, to protect the state capital until the Union army could get there.  The city was in turmoil, and a mob had taken control of the streets, plundering stores and causing riots and general havoc.

Freeman’s volunteers restored a measure of peace, and they then disbanded with an agreement to gather again if needed. A church bell would sound the alarm if necessary.

Texas during the Civil War. In 1861, the Texas legislature created the Frontier Regiment to guard frontier settlements. They occupied several abandoned federal posts and established a line of 16 camps through the center of the state. Map courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

On the night of June 11, Freeman was informed that a gang planned to rob the state treasury. The bell tolled, and about twenty of the volunteers gathered at the Christian Church on the south end of Congress Avenue. Some of them came directly from church services.

By the time the volunteers arrived at the treasury building, the estimated fifty robbers of the gang were already inside, breaking into the safes. A brief gun battle broke out. One of the robbers was gravely wounded. Freeman was shot in the arm.

The thieves got away with more than $17,000 in specie, that is, in gold and silver coins. That’s a lot of weight to carry! A later audit report stated that a total of $27,525 in specie had been located in the treasury at the time of the robbery, as well as $800 in Louisiana bank bills. Several million dollars of U.S. bonds and other securities were also in the vault, but the robbers didn’t take them. One package of bond coupons was recovered from the floor after apparently being dropped by a fleeing member of the gang.

Before he died, the wounded robber told the outnumbered volunteers that the leader of the gang was “Captain Rapp,” but this man was never caught. No other members of the gang were ever captured, and the loot was not recovered, though some money was found outside, between the treasury building and Mount Bonnell.

Captain Freeman and his company of volunteers were later recognized by the state for their service, but the resolution providing a reward for them never passed the legislature. In 2009, Freeman was honored by a historical marker placed at his former home in Hamilton, where he later practiced law. He is credited with interrupting the robbery and preventing the bankruptcy of Texas. He had served prior to this incident as a Confederate officer, as captain of Company D, Twenty-third Texas Cavalry.

Federal troops arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, and it took a while to restore order. Ex-Confederates were granted amnesty if they promised to support the Union in the future, but it wasn’t until March 30, 1870 that Texas’s representatives were once again allowed to take their seats in Congress.

Do you find the historical account of things like this robbery interesting and get your thoughts whirling? There are so many unanswered questions. Susan is giving away one autographed copy of Mail Order Standoff to one person who comments. The drawing will be Sunday.

The Mail-Order Standoff: Marriage plans are put on hold in the Old West when four mail-order brides have second thoughts. How will their grooms win their trust? My story – THE BRIDE WHO DECLINED – opens in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1880s. Rachel Paxton turns down a mail-order proposal, but a few months later she learns the man she rejected has died—and left his ranch to her in his will. She can’t figure out why, and she’s not sure she wants the inheritance.

The four novellas include

Right on Time by Angela Breidenbach

Pistol-Packin’ Bride by Margaret Brownley

Twice the Trouble by Vickie McDonough;

The Bride Who Declined by Susan Page Davis.

AMAZON   |   Christian Book

 

ABOUT SUSAN:

Susan Page Davis is the author of more than ninety published novels. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and also a winner of the Carol Award and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards. A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky. Visit her website at: https://susanpagedavis.com , where you can see all her books, sign up for her occasional newsletter, and read a short story on her Freebies tab.

 

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook Newsletter

 

The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

My favorite time period to write about is between 1880 and 1890. In many ways, the cowboys of yesteryear struggled with some of the same issues we currently face and that’s what makes the time period so fascinating to me.

They aren’t paying attention to each other. They’re too intent on the wireless.

For example, technology in the way of telephones and electricity changed the way people lived in the 19th century, just as new technology does today.  The Victorians even had their own Internet.  It was called the telegraph, and this opened-up a whole new world to them.

What, for that matter, is a text message but a telegram, the high cost of which forced people in the past to be brief and to the point?

In the past, our ancestors worried about losing their jobs to machinery.  Today, there’s a real possibility that robots will make us obsolete.

Sears and Roebuck was the Amazon of the Gilded Age. The catalogue featured a wide selection of products at clearly marked prices. No more haggling.  Customers were drawn to the easy-to-read, warm, friendly language used to describe goods, and the catalogue proved an instant success. Our ancestors could even order a house through the catalog and that’s something we can’t do on Amazon.

The Victorians worried about books like we worry about iPhones. We worry about screen time damaging the eyes.  Victorians were certain that the mass rise of books due to printing presses would make everyone blind. 

Then as now, women fought for equal rights.  Our early sisters fought for property ownership, employment opportunities and the right to vote. Women have come a long way since those early days, but challenges still exist, especially in matters of economics and power.

Nothing has changed much in the area of courting

Almost every single I know subscribes to at least one dating site.  These are very similar to the Mail-Order Bride catalogs of yesteryear.

Did our Victorian ancestors worry about climate change?  You bet they did! The Florida Agriculturist published an article addressing the problem in 1890. The article stated: “Most all the states of the union in succession of their settlement have experienced a falling off in their average temperatures of several degrees.  A change from an evenly tempered climate has resulted in long droughts, sudden floods, heavy frost and suffocating heat.”

Nothing much has changed in the world of politics. Today, the Republicans and Democrats are still battling it out, just as they did in the nineteenth century. We still haven’t elected a female president, though Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood tried to change that when she ran in 1884 and again, in 1888.

What about environmental concerns? Today we’re concerned that plastic bags and straws are harming our oceans.  Our Victorian ancestors worried about tomato cans. That’s because a German scientist told the New York Times in 1881 that the careless deposit of tin cans was “bringing the earth closer to the sun and hastening the day of the final and fatal collision.”

During the 1800s, horses were taken to task for messing up the streets.  (Oddly, enough, it was once thought that automobiles were good for the environment.)  Today, cattle are under fire for the methane in their you-know-whats. Oh, boy, I can only imagine how that would have gone over with those old-time ranch owners.

We have Coronavirus, but that’s nothing compared to what our ancestors battled.  The 1894 Hong Kong plague was a major outbreak and became the third pandemic in the world. The rapid outbreak and spread of the plague was caused by infected fleas. Repressive government actions to control the plague led the Pune nationalists to criticize the Chinese publicly. Sound familiar?  The plague killed more than 10 million people in India, alone. 

As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Reading how people in the past survived and, yes, even prospered during tough times inspires me and gives me hope for the future.  I hope it does the same to my readers.

This list is nowhere near complete, but what did you find the most surprising?

Attorney Ben Heywood didn’t expect to get shot on his wedding day–and certainly not by his mail order bride.—Pistol-Packin’ Bride/Mail Order Standoff collection.

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Golden History by Cynthia Woolf

Please join us in welcoming our guest Cynthia Woolf! She’s sharing about her latest book with us today. Thank you, Cynthia, for stopping in to chat!

My latest book is a novella titled A Husband for Victoria. It is a mail-order bride book, since that is what I write and what I’m known for.

I set the book in Golden City, Colorado Territory. It’s just called Golden now and is the home of the Colorado School of Mines, first opened in 1870, and Coors Brewing Company, opened in 1873.

The reason I set it there is because that’s where I grew up. Yup. I’m a Colorado native.

When I was sixteen, I worked for the Pioneer Museum in Golden. It was a fascinating place and I fell in love with the history of my town.

I’ve set several of my books in Golden, all historical Western romance. Golden was once the capital of the Colorado Territory but lost out to Denver when the town snagged the capital title when Colorado became a state in 1876.

I like Golden. It was a gold rush town though the gold found there was not nearly the amount found in Central City which is about twenty miles up in the mountains from Golden.

Today there is still ranching and farming going on. Some of these ranches have been in the same family since the town was founded in 1859. These ranchers may have been miners that didn’t make their fortune in gold mining and took up ranching as a way to make a living.

There are many buildings in Golden that have been there for more than one hundred years. The Astor House was built in 1867. It was a boarding and rooming house. At one time, they charged twenty-five cents for a bath and it was said they made more off the baths than they did the rooming house!

Here is a scene from A Husband for Victoria after which, I’ll tell you about my giveaway.

The stagecoach driver helped her down from the coach and handed her the two carpetbags that held everything she owned.

“Thank you, Mr. Jones.”

He tipped his hat. “You’re welcome, Mrs. Coleman. You take care.”

“Thank you, I will.”

She looked around and walked up the steps to the boardwalk in front of the Golden West Hotel. The location gave her a slightly higher vantage point from which to survey the surrounding town and look for Mr. Mayfield. Surveying the town up and down the street, she was too busy to pay attention to those behind her.

The air was cold and her breath was visible. The buildings kept her from seeing much and to be honest, the scenery didn’t interest her as much as finding her prospective husband.

“Mrs. Coleman?”

She screeched and jumped. “Good grief. You startled me, sir. Are you Mr. Andrew Mayfield?” She raised her gaze to the face of the tall man next to her. He was taller than her by a good six inches, even in her boots, and though she couldn’t see his eyes, she saw his chiseled jaw and the firm set of his mouth. His lips were not too full and not too thin, though right now, they weren’t very welcoming either.

“I am. Are these all your bags?” He picked up her two carpetbags.

“Yes. That’s it.”

“Follow me.” He turned and started walking.

At the end of the boardwalk, in the alley next to the Golden City Mercantile, stood a wagon. As they got closer she saw that it was filled with large bags and boxes of canned goods and smaller bags. She looked up and saw the bench was just a plain wooden plank and stifled a groan. Great, another ride on a board with no padding. Her poor bottom was already hurting.

He helped her into the wagon before going around the back and climbing in next to her. Then he released the brake and slapped the reins on the animals’ bottoms.

She did her best to stay on her side of the bench but it was narrow and her skirts rode against his leg. His very muscular leg. She’d noticed when he walked the way the muscles moved. The man definitely worked for a living.

“Are we going to your ranch now?”

He shook his head. “Not until we visit the preacher. He knows we’re coming. I won’t have my wife’s reputation besmirched.”

Now for my giveaway, I’ll give away 3 copies of A Husband for Victoria in ebook and one $5 Amazon Gift Card. That’s four chances to win!

AUTHOR BIO:

Cynthia Woolf is the award winning and best-selling author of more than forty-four historical western romance books and two short stories with more books on the way. She also has six scifi romance novels. She also has three boxed sets of her books available
Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner.
Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and her great critique partners for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.
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The Mail Order Bride Standoff

 

I have a new book out, just in time for Valentine’s.  The anthology is titled Mail Order Standoff.  If you like mail-order bride stories, then this one is for you. The stories all have a fun twist when the brides get cold feet.  Here’s a short preview of my story:

Pistol-Packin’ Bride

Attorney Wade Bronson didn’t expect to get shot on his wedding day–

and certainly not by his mail order bride…

Elizabeth Colton stares anxiously out the window of the stagecoach.  Fresh from Boston, never could she imagine a more desolate place. Every scary story ever heard about attacking Indians and highwaymen comes back to haunt her.

 Before they reach town, her worst fear is realized. A horseman flags them down and yanks open the door to the coach.  Certain he is about to rob her—or worse—she pulls out her derringer.  Much to her shock, the gun goes off and the man falls to the ground.

Attorney Wade Bronson is lucky to be alive.  Fortunately, the bullet missed his heart—barely. All he did was stop the stage to tell his mail-order bride he’d been called out of town on urgent business and had to postpone their wedding. God forgive him for not feeling especially charitable toward the blue-eyed beauty who shot him, but now he’s bed-ridden with a shoulder-wound and his gun-toting bride-to-be is in jail.

It seems everyone in the small town has an opinion on the brash young woman who traveled west to become his wife—and none of it good.  Orphaned at a young age, Wade was raised by the town and is Prickly Pine’s favorite son—literally—and the local girls know better than to get involved with him. Things looked bad until his three worried “mothers” took it upon themselves to place an ad in Matrimonial News for a “nice Christian girl from the east.” Now they refuse to believe the pistol packin’ bride is the right woman for him. At first, even Wade has trouble visualizing the two of them wed.

But in matters of the heart sometimes a wrong really does make a right.  Now he doesn’t know which task will be hardest; convincing his reluctant fiancée that marriage to a man with three sets of well-meaning “parents” won’t be so bad (maybe).  Or proving to the town that Elizabeth really is the girl of his dreams. 

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