Covid & Cough Drops by Pam Crooks

After our parents passed away in 2017, Christmas as we’d always known it drastically changed.  Three of my siblings live out-of-state, and it’s understandable that visiting our parents during the holidays was their priority.  However, after their passing, the sibs made the decision to come to Nebraska every other year instead.

The four of us in Omaha still get together on the off-years, but we celebrate on a lower scale.  However, in the BIG Christmas year when all seven of us, including nieces and nephews, come together, Christmas planning explodes, and we celebrate from Christmas Eve until the 29th.  It’s a lot of cooking, groceries, cleaning, etc., but it’s great fun and makes for some great memories.  Did I mention there are 63 of us?  🙂

This year was the BIG Christmas, and the event started out with pizza and a super fun game of Spoons at my sister’s house on the 26th.  Then, there was my nephew’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor on the 27th, and the day-long cooking it entailed for the dinner that night – my grandmother’s meatballs, guiteruni (no one knows how to spell it), made-from-scratch spaghetti sauce, homemade Italian sausage, and so on, enough to feed the crowd in attendance.  If that wasn’t fun enough, we also celebrated my youngest sister’s 50th birthday that night.

We were off to a roaring start for the week, until my Texas niece called the next day to tell me her husband tested positive for Covid.

Oh, boy.

Evidently, their Texas grandmother had tested positive after they spent Christmas Eve with her, and yep, Covid spread like wildfire here in Nebraska.  If family members weren’t sick, they were afraid they would be, and with little ones to think of, our numbers dropped a bunch.

But the rest of us defied the virus and celebrated.  There were a few who took the virus home with them after the festivities ended, including my husband.  He didn’t officially test, but he had all the symptoms, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t suffering from the virus.

As I write this, he is on his fifth day of coughing.  (I have somehow managed to elude capture by Covid.)  He’s not one to run to the doctor, and I think since it’s viral, you just have to tough it out anyway, especially when he’s had all the shots and boosters.

So how did our ancestors treat their coughs?

Amazingly, cough drops have been around since 1000 B.C..  Egyptian confectioners developed the first hard candies to soothe that coughing reflex, using honey and various herbs, citrus fruits, and spices to make them palatable.  Recipes evolved throughout the centuries, but it was in the 1800’s that physicians discovered that opiates depressed the brain’s cough reflex, and since they worked well, and were readily available, patients bought them in droves.  Physicians became aware of the dangers of addiction by their patients (um, yeah!) and the opiate varieties were relegated to the super-sick.

Enter the Smith Brothers, sons of a candy maker in New York in the mid-1800s.  When a customer in need of cash offered what he claimed was an effective cough remedy to their father, James Smith, he was paid $5, and the elder went home, made use of his candy-making skills, and produced a sweet, hard piece of medicine candy, which he generously dispersed to friends and family afflicted with coughs and colds.  Word spread of the lozenges’ effectiveness. The brothers, William and Andrew, advertised their trademark images at first on large glass bowls on drugstore counters where the lozenges were distributed, and later to the cardboard boxes we all know today.  By the way, the man on the left with the short beard and nicknamed “Trade” is William, the long-bearded brother, “Mark,” is Andrew.  Their father died in 1866, and the brothers grew the cough drop business from sales of five pounds a day to five TONS a day.

I love fun stories like this, don’t you?

Not long after, in 1881, William Luden developed the first menthol cough drop. To help his marketing, he passed out samples of his cough drops to workers on the Reading Railroad, where they spread word of his product throughout the network.  In another show of marketing genius, retailers displayed and sold his boxed lozenges directly in their stores, saving Luden from selling door-to-door as was the norm at the time.  He developed a new way of packaging his lozenges by lining the handy boxes with wax paper to extend their shelf life.

Luden’s Wild Cherry cough drops were my favorite as a little girl.  I totally remember those little boxes lined in wax paper, don’t you?  And that narrow strip of red that helped open the package!

Have you had Covid?  (Who hasn’t, right?) 

What’s your best remedy for a cold or a sore throat?

Kaitlene Dee Tells About Traveling Food, Covered Wagons, and Romance!

Get ready for a fun time. This week, the Fillies are entertaining Kaitlene Dee aka Tina Dee and she’ll talk about covered wagons, the food they prepared on the trail, and some romance. She mentions a giveaway so don’t miss that.

In my new story, Grace, which is part of the Prairie Roses Collection, nineteen-year-old Grace loses her best friend and inherits her three-year-old daughter, Emma. It was her friend’s dying wish that Grace would raise Emma because the little girl is without any other family.

Adam begrudgingly comes to the rescue of Grace and Emma with a marriage of convenience proposal—and together, they set out to help an elderly couple of sisters move their tea shop business from one town to another in a covered wagon to carry the sisters’ precious bone china and heirloom cabinet. They head from northern California to southern California. What should only take two to three weeks travel time turns out to be a much longer trip, ripe with danger and disaster. In all this, Grace and Adam find out how much they must trust in God as He guides them into discovering that they truly need one another.

Personally, I love outdoor cooking, and writing this story was fun with all the cooking that goes on in it. I enjoyed researching foods pioneers packed and ate for their journeys. Guidebooks made suggestions to hopeful travelers on things to pack in their provisions.

But most interesting to me, was the spices. Some were used for medicinal purposes, as well as for flavoring. Some curatives that were packed were: Cinnamon bark for the relief of diarrhea and nausea and to aid against digestive issues, cloves for its antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties, and nutmeg or mace, which were used for tonics. ( –an awesome and fun resource! They refer to Randolph B. Marcy’s A Handbook for Overland Expeditions, a valuable resource manual for those traveling west).

Some folks also packed potable meat (cooked meat packed tightly into a jar, then covered with some sort of fat such as butter, lard, or maybe tallow and then sealed), and portable soups, desiccated dried or canned vegetables, powdered pumpkin, and dried fruits. These were a surprise to me since, prior to research, I pretty much thought their only options were beans, cornmeal mush, biscuits, bacon, flour, milk if they had a cow, and eggs.

On their journey, Adam used oxen to pull the covered wagon because they were strong, dependable, and able to do well on less abundant food sources. It was fun researching about wagons as well. I didn’t know the wagons carried a pail of pitch under the wagon bed. But discussing covered wagons is for a future post.

The story of Grace is a Christian marriage of convenience, pioneer romance set in the western frontier and is part of the multi-author Prairie Roses Collection. All books in the series are stand-alone stories and can be read in any order. Not all of the stories are set on the Oregon Trail, some travel across state or from one state to another, but all of the stories are romances that occur while on their covered wagon journeys. They are in Kindle Unlimited and are also available for ebook purchase on Amazon.

Next spring, I’ll be contributing two more stories to the Prairie Rose Collection. The stories will be ripe with adventure, romance, and food and I’ll make sure they satisfy your Old West reading cravings.

What kind of food would you pack to bring on a journey like this? Anything special?

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for an ebook copy of GRACE

Kaitlene Dee lives on the west coast, enjoys outings along the coast and in the nearby mountains, hiking, supporting dog rescues and outdoor cooking and camping. She also writes contemporary western Christian romances as Tina Dee. Kaitlene and Tina’s books can be found on Amazon.

Please feel invited to join my newsletter at and receive a free story: Kaitlene & Tina Dee’s Newsletter

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Home Remedies

I’ve had a bit of time this week. Just as I was getting over a bad cold, I fell down, and as many of you know, after a certain age, you don’t bounce like you used to. Long story short, I ended up with a badly sprained ankle. (Imagine a purple and blue ankle at least twice the size of a normal ankle.)

When I got home with my rapidly swelling ankle, I looked up what I was supposed to do to treat it and came up with RICERest, Ice Compression and Elevation. I ended up doing RIE, because I didn’t have an Ace bandage for the C component.

Thankfully, I have lots of ice, but I started thinking about how people treated sprains and other maladies before ice was readily available. I discovered that if I sprained my ankle in the 19th century, I should take mud from a mud dauber nest, mix it with vinegar, place the mixture on my sprain and cover it with a stocking.

Here’s the thing–I do have remnant mud dauber nests on my house, but I couldn’t bring myself to try this. Why ruin a good nest when I have ice? But there was probably some science behind this cure, as there was behind a lot of 19th century medicine that did not involve superstitions such as tying knots in dishrags and burying them at midnight (my aunt’s cure for warts). I became curious and looked up a few more cures for common maladies, which I will list below:

Sore throat–rub outside of throat with a mixture of kerosene and butter.

Cuts–apply a spider web. Also, you can treat a cut by packing it with axle grease.

Rashes-treat with urine (I thought this was fascinating because urine is a form of acid which would burn like crazy. Ouch.)

Earache–blow tobacco smoke in the ear canal

Pneumonia–treat with a poultice of tansy weed

Dandruff–mix sulfur with water and apply to head daily

Lice–wash your head with kerosene

Poison ivy–treat with a paste of Fels Naptha soap. (I still use this stuff for laundry. It’s great.)

Bee sting–mix honey and mud from a mud dauber’s nest. (As a kid we used a paste of baking soda and water.)

Burns–put fresh calf manure in a flour sack and cover the burn for 24 hours.

There are so many more but I’ll leave you with these and ask what are some home remedies that you’ve heard of? Or used? I still put soda and water paste on my bee stings, but having read this, I may try honey and mud dauber nest the nest time I have a bad bee encounter.




SHE STEALS MY BREATH — Still on sale, but only for a short while longer


And here we are gathering together again on another terrific Tuesday.

This series of The Medicine Men is really opening my eyes to many things.  And, I thought I’d share of few of those with you today.

Am reading the book FOOLS CROW by Thomas E. Mails and I have to admit to having to leave behind many misconceptions I’ve had about the American Indian medicine man.  I had really thought that the medicine men helped their people heal using herbs and driving out the evil spirits with their songs and drumbeats.

Sometimes they did this.  They certainly used herbs and drumming and other rituals to help another become well.  Here is what Fools Crow said about some of the healings he did:

“You know that it is not our custom to talk about healings.  Instead, our words and hearts are sent up to God in prayerful thanksgiving for them.  We tell Him this in our private prayers and in our ceremonies.  No medicine man or patient makes a big thing of it when a healing takes place.  This is why sick people do not come to me or to other medicine men in greater numbers….”

What I’m learning is that the true medicine man from the long ago did not, himself, heal.  Only God did, working through the medicine man, as though the medicine man were a hollow bone, and was there only so God could work through him.

Wow!  I mean, think of it.  God was never divorced from the healing of the sick because the medicine man realized fully and completely that God was healing the person, not he, the medicine man.  This is why Fools Crow devotes an entire chapter in this book about the medicine man and the strict and narrow path such a man had to walk.

Now, since we know that it was God doing the healing, Fools Crow goes on to say that every person he ever did a ceremony for in order for the person to get well — they did get well…and without exception.

Another medicine man — a very handsome man, Black Elk — is once noted as saying that the life of a medicine man is a hard one, because a man must never step foot off the very narrow and ethical path laid out by God, The Creator.  No alcohol, no drugs, no womanizing, no swearing and a medicine man must keep in mind always that the person seeking help may never be able to repay him.  He goes on to say a medicine man has to understand this, and, if necessary be content to never be repaid for the service he rendered.

Black Elk is noted as saying, also, (I heard this online) that the path of a medicine man is so rough to keep to, that one should not seek to become a medicine man, but should wait to be asked and then make his decision.

However, Fools Crow often points to his complete happiness in being able to help and lead his fellow Lakota Indians.  He may not have been rich in material goods, but he was rich in friendships and in the knowledge that he was helping his fellow man.

In the words of Fools Crow:  “Even the medicine men are jealous of one another today.  And that is very bad.  Years ago all of the holy men and medicine men worked together, and as a result accomplished great things.  The medicine men shared their power in the healing rites and in the other ceremonies.  Even when they paid homage to God they did so in such a way as to help one another.  There was unity of purpose.”


In the book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH, I don’t actually go into much of the healing ceremonies because I don’t know them.  But what I would like to do is share with you a little bit from the book that I think really defines the American Indian’s point of view of the world.

And so, I hope you will enjoy this excerpt from the book, SHE STEALS MY BREATH.


One day turned into another.  In the mornings, Eagle Heart left their simple home to hunt, and, when she asked him why he always traveled so far away on his quest for game, he told her a man never looks for or kills animals for food close to where he lives.  To do so could make a man’s home very dangerous, indeed.

During the afternoons, Laylah made it a point to help Eagle Heart skin the animals he brought home.  She also aided him in preparing their meat for roasting, learning this skill gradually.  But, Laylah noticed a few aspects about skinning an animal she had never witnessed before, and it made her curious.

Always, Eagle Heart said prayers over the beast he had killed, and Laylah, under his influence, had begun doing much the same.  Laylah noticed, also, that Eagle Heart gave away much of their food to the Little People and to any of their other animal friends who came to visit.

Once, she had questioned him about this practice of giving away a good deal of their food, and she’d asked, “Do you think it wise to share so much of the meat we have?”

“We have plenty, more than we need, and the hunting here is good because so few predators come to this valley.”

“Of course,” she said.  “Still, wouldn’t it be wise to preserve some of it?  I remember during the snowstorm you had a good supply of dried meat.  Could you show me how to prepare meat this way?”

Áa,” he signed.  “I will show you how to smoke the meat, and your suggestion is a good one.  We should make meat for hard times.  But, an honorable man gives away as much food as he consumes.  It is his duty to ensure his friends are as well fed as he is.  If he has to hunt more often, so be it.”

“No wonder the animals love you so much.”

His simple smile at her gave her much pleasure, as though he bestowed a little bit of heaven on her.

The evenings were all she could have ever wanted, for she had this man entirely to herself, and, after their supper, they made love throughout most the night, both of them catching up on their sleep between lovemaking.

Sometimes Eagle Heart even slept in late, delaying his hunting until the afternoon.  Indeed, the days and evenings were romantic in so many different ways, and Laylah couldn’t remember ever being so happy.

One afternoon, as she was assisting Eagle Heart in skinning the deer he had brought into their camp, she asked, “What is the yellow powder you sprinkle over the animal you have killed?  I hear your prayers, and I understand why you pray over the animals, but what is the yellow dust for?”

“I will show you,” he signed.

She nodded.

“Hunting is and should always be a prayer,” signed Eagle Heart, “for a man must take the life of another in order to ensure his own family does not starve.  Being so close to the animals one needs to kill in order to survive, a man becomes aware of the creation of life all around him.  It is why we pray over the animals we have killed.  But, we do more.

“It is possible I might be able to show you how we try to help the animal we have killed.  I think I could do this with this deer, because the living spirit of this animal has not yet left its body.  If you watch closely, you might be able to see the spirit of the animal as it departs its body.”

Laylah frowned.  “I thought animals didn’t possess a spirit.”

“There are white trappers who have told me they believe this, also, and they are welcome to think this if they choose.  But, my tribe and all the tribes around us, even our enemies, know that all of creation is alive; all things are made up of the same rocks, stones and dirt of the earth and all are alive.  But, you must decide this matter for yourself.  Watch.”

Eagle Heart began to sing and pray over the animal as he usually did, and, taking some of the powder from the small bag he always wore around his neck, he sprinkled the yellow dust over the animal, the color of the dust catching hold of and reflecting the rays of the afternoon sun.

“Do you see it?” he asked in sign.  “Look for the aliveness of the animal rising up out of its body.  It is not physical, but if you pay close attention, you might see it because you, too, are spiritual.  Here comes the spirit as it rises out of its dead body.  Do you perceive that it follows the path of the dust I have sprinkled, its path guiding it up toward the sky and the Creator of all, Sun?”

Laylah had looked on and at first had seen nothing.  But then, glancing all around the animal, she became aware of something rising up and departing from the body of the animal.

Not really sure what she was looking at, she yet watched as an invisible something left this animal’s body—she even watched it as it followed the yellow path upward toward the sky.  With what must have been large eyes, she turned her head to stare at Eagle Heart.

She whispered, “I didn’t know animals had a soul.”

He signed, “Have you not now seen one leave the body of this poor deer?”

“I did see it.”

“We are all connected,” he told her in sign, bringing his two hands together, linking them as though in brotherhood.  “We all live and enjoy the thrill of life, and we all die.  All life must depend upon animal or plant life, or sometimes both, to become food so all may live.  Plants do the same, taking what they need from our Mother, the Earth.  All life must do the same as we do.  Simply because we must eat does not mean we must divorce ourselves from the life that is all around us and pretend it is not also alive and lives much the same as we do.”

Still feeling as if her eyes were mirroring her incredulity, she remarked, “Should I not eat meat, then?  Perhaps I should change my diet so I am eating no meat at all?”

“Do you ask this question because you think plants do not have a spirit that, like us, desires to live?”

“Of course a plant doesn’t have a spirit.  It is only a plant, after all.”

He smiled at her and reached out to take her hand in his, bringing it to his lips.  Then, releasing her hand, he signed, “Come, let us finish skinning this deer and putting its meat over the fire, and I will introduce you to the plants, for all things are connected and all things on this earth are alive.  And, if it is alive and if it is on this earth, it is, like us, spiritual. When the body dies, that which makes the plant or animal aware it lives, is released.  We of the Blackfoot Nation at least try to guide its spirit up to the sky and to Sun, the Creator.”

Laylah frowned.  Even though she had “seen” the spiritual entity leave its body and float upward, this was too new and too different a viewpoint for her to readily accept as true.  But, it did cause her to wonder if she had really been truly living before she’d met this man.  Wolves who, when asked, came to her aid; a deer as a spiritual being; the love of the Little People and now plants, too?  They, like human beings, were alive and possessed a spiritual quality about them?  She swallowed hard before asking, “What is the yellow dust you sprinkle over the animal?”


She nodded.

“Come,” he signed, “let us finish this task and then, if you will follow me, we should go and talk to the plants.”

And, Laylah did, indeed, help him finish the task, knowing they would do exactly as he said they might do.  And, before they sat down to enjoy their supper, she found herself silently conversing with the flowers that graced a beautiful and colorful meadow….

By the way, I love the picture to the right, taken by James Willard Schultz at the turn of the last century.  On the left in the picture is Black Bull and on the right is Stabs-by-mistake, both from the Pikuni Nation (the Blackfeet).  They are looking out upon Glacier National Park.



Barnes & Noble:






Train Doctors (Reprised)

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I apologize for reprising a previous post but I’m knee deep in tax filing prep right now. And since I have nineteenth century railroads on the brain (I’m part of the Love Train series author group some others have mentioned here) I thought this post from back in 2009 would be fun to look at again. So here we go.

There are articles and headlines aplenty to be found around the topic of health care, but would it surprise you to learn that one of the early adopters of employer-based health care was the railroads?

While the vast majority of nineteenth century workers had to find and pay for their own medical care, the railroads were developing a unique and valuable benefit for their employees.

Because the nature of railway work and travel conditions led to a higher-than-normal likelihood of injuries not only to railway workers but also passengers and bystanders, some form of available medical services became a necessity.  The problem was only exacerbated when the transcontinental railroad opened, greatly expanding long distance overland travel opportunities.  As an ever increasing number of people traveled the rails across unsettled territory, territory that never seen trained physicians or even the most rudimentary of medical facilities, the railroad companies had no choice but to hire their own physicians and create medical facilities along their routes.

Thus was born the era of train doctors.  Most of the physicians who answered this call were actually general practitioners who could also perform surgery. And because of the unique dangers railroad workers faced, the so-called train doctors found themselves dealing with types of injuries which few had dealt with before.  They were pioneers in the development of trauma care under primitive conditions, developing techniques and treatments that eventually found their way into routine medical practice.

From the outset, most of these practitioners expressed concern over the conditions and equipment they had to work with, as well as the ability to see their patients in a timely manner when minutes could literally mean the difference between life and death.

One tool that resulted from the drive to get stop-gap care to workers who sustained injuries in remote areas, were special packs devised by railway surgeons to be carried on all trains.  These packs were stocked with basic emergency supplies such as medicines, sterile dressings and basic implements. These were, in fact, the precursors of the modern day first aid kit.  Train doctors also promoted training key railroad workers in the use of these materials so that the injured party could be given appropriate first line aide until a proper physician could be reached.

As for facilities, early on railroad doctors tried using hotel rooms, spare rooms in private homes or even back porches for emergency medical care, but such rooms not only lacked the necessary equipment, their use also resulted in a large expense for the railroads who not only paid for the use of the room but also faced cleaning and replacement costs for bloodstained linens and furniture.  As an alternative, the train doctors pushed for the development and use of hospital cars which could serve both as properly equipped surgical stations and as the actual transportation for seriously ill or injured patients.

As could be predicted, the adoption of such cars greatly improved the survival rate of the seriously injured railroad worker and eventually evolved into highly sophisticated facilities.  They had room enough to handle the care of three to four patients at one time as well as house a fully equipped operating room.  They were scrupulously maintained in order to provide a clean environment in which the surgeon could effectively perform his duties, stabilizing his patients before sending him or her on to a regular hospital.

Speaking of hospitals, the railroads were also very influential in establishing such facilities along their routes.  In mid-century it was remarked that a person traveling from St. Louis to El Paso would traverse 1300 miles without passing a single hospital.  And this was only one of numerous such stretches in the country.  The first railroad to respond to this glaring need was the Central Pacific Railroad which opened its own hospital in Sacramento in 1869.  Other railroads quickly followed suit, establishing their own hospitals along well traveled routes.

Dr. C.W.P. Brock, President of the National Association of Railway Surgeons, was quoted as saying: Mr. Greeley’s advice to the young man to “go west” may be followed with great benefit by railway surgeons from the older sections of our country; and when they have seen the superb hospitals and the practical workings of the system they will say, as the Queen of Sheba said after seeing the splendors of King Solomon, “that the half had not been told.”

On a more practical front, another surgeon was heard to estimate that “the daily cost per patient at a railway hospital runs from 40 to 60 cents, compared to $1.00 to $1.50 at a city or contract hospital.”

Train doctors for the most part were  very progressive in the medical field.  They endorsed the emphasis on sterilization and overall cleanliness in patient care well before such thinking was met with universal acceptance.  They were also progressive in their attitude toward embracing women into their profession.

In addition to surgery dealing with railroad-related injuries and general trauma care, railway surgeons also took on the role of an overall health care provider.  They treated a wide range of illnesses, performed routine checkups, delivered babies and advised on safety, health and sanitation issues.

Alas, the train doctors are no more.  There were a number of factors that contributed to the eventual demise of the once highly effective and indispensable system.  Key among them was the change in government regulations and the explosion of medical advances in the 1950s.  The last of the railroad hospitals were sold or closed in the 1970s and the remaining train doctors retired, joined other practices or set up private practices of their own.

But these dedicated men and women left an enduring legacy. Their trade journal, The Railway Surgeon, though it reinvented itself a number of times, remains in print today under the name Occupational Health and Safety

The modern day specialty of occupational medicine can trace its roots to these surgeons.  They also helped to shape modern medical practice, especially in the area of trauma study and care.  They were pioneers in front line field care, in the stabilization and transport of the seriously injured, in overall trauma care and in the development and use of the modern day first aid kit.

All but forgotten by the vagaries of our national memory, train doctors nevertheless played a major, but largely unsung, role in making the settlement of the western frontier a safer proposition for all who travelled through or eventually settled in the surrounding areas.

Thanks for your patience in allowing me to reprise an older post. As a reward I’d like to offer a chaoice of any book from my backlist to on (or more!) of the people who leave a comment here.


Would You Give Your Blood to an Outlaw? ~ Pam Crooks

That’s what the heroine in my brand new release must decide. It proves to be quite a dilemma!

For those of you who have read TRACE, Book #1 in the Bachelors and Babies sweet western romance series, you’ll know he finds a baby on his doorstep and is faced with quite a dilemma then, too.

Now his baby is all grown up and has her own book! HARRIETT is Book #1 in the Cupids and Cowboys sweet western romance series, and readers are loving the connection in both books.


HARRIETT is set at the turn of the century, a time when great medical advances were being made but still had a long way to go in patient comfort and doctoral knowledge. While she was growing up, Harriett’s parents kept a scandalous secret from her, and she finds out quite unexpectedly what that secret is when a U.S. Marshal and a prestigious doctor all the way from New York show up on her family’s ranch.

As I explain in my note to readers, we writers may have to tweak history a bit to fit our stories now and again. In HARRIETT, the New York physician, Dr. Simon Flexner, is a true historical figure who dedicated his life’s work to pathology. The blood groups were well understood by the turn of the century, and the concept of blood transfusions was not new, either. However, the process of injecting blood from one human to another was lengthy, complicated, and completely dependent on the skill of an entire team of surgeons.

By fast forwarding fifteen years to right before the First World War and the medical knowledge gleaned, I could plunk Dr. Flexner into Harriett’s story and give him the skills he needed to transfuse her blood in a fashion my readers could relate to. By then, Dr. Flexner knew about sterilization and anti-coagulants, as well as how to use needles and blood bottles. Instead of a procedure that normally took two to three hours, Dr. Flexner was able to perform it in a matter of minutes.

Blood Bottles

Much to Harriett’s relief, of course. During her procedure, the reader learns of Dr. Flexner’s skill and Harriett’s courage. Blood transfusions were quite foreign and mostly unheard of. Of course, her family and friends were appalled at what was being asked of her, and well, you’ll have to read the book to see how it all happens!

Harriett, Book #1 in the Cupids & Cowboys Sweet Romance Series



            BUY ON AMAZON



Are you willing to participate in test trials, like the Covid vaccine? Have you participated in medical research? Have you donated blood or an organ to someone who needed it desperately? Do you trust doctors and their knowledge?

Let’s chat, and I’ll give away TWO ebook copies of HARRIETT! 

Horehound Candy


Do you remember horehound candy?

I ask because I think that a person has to actively search it out today, whereas in times past it was a fairly common hard candy. 

Horehound is the common name of the Marrubium plant, a member of the mint family. Horehound  has been used for centuries by many cultures to treat just about everything–fevers, malaria, snake bite, hepatitis, bites by rabid animals. It’s useful in treating digestive problems, respiratory problems, jaundice, parasitic worms. It is used as a poultice,  and inhaled as a snuff. The leaves are boiled into tea and made into cough syrups. 

And it’s also made into a candy, but after compiling that list, I kind of wonder why. I guess it’s like medicine candy.

If you are the adventuresome sort, it’s easy to make homemade horehound candy. To begin, you boil several handfuls of horehound leaves in water for 15-20 minutes, smooshing the leaves as they cook down. Then you let the brew sit for a spell so that the water becomes a horehound tea. 

Strain the liquid from the leaves. This is where the math comes in. You’ll need to measure your liquid and add 4 times that amount of brown sugar. So if you have 1 cup of horehound tea, you’ll use 4 cups of brown sugar. Then, more math, you add light corn syrup in 1/4 the amount of the liquid. So again using 1 cup of tea, you’d add 1/4 cup of light corn syrup.

Cook this mixture to the hard crack stage (the liquid solidifies into a ribbon when you drop it into ice water) which is about 300 degrees if you go modern and use a candy thermometer. You pour the mixture into a buttered pan, then score the top while it’s soft so that you can break it into squares later.

And there you  have it–horehound candy. 




Charlene Raddon: Were Those Really the Good Old Days?

We’re so happy to have Miss Charlene Raddon back visiting with us. She’s brought an interesting subject to talk about in addition to a giveaway at the bottom. Take us away, Charlene.

Thank you for having me. I’m so happy to be back. My image of a typical 19th-century family sitting down to supper used to include a table laden with healthy, wholesome, homemade foods. To a shocking degree, the truth is the opposite. Contamination was rife, even among foods prepared at home, on the farm or ranch. Few people understood germs, bacteria and E. coli. Foreign substances and chemicals tainted foods. By the 1840s, home-baked bread had supposedly died out among the rural poor. I find this hard to believe. But it is true that people living in small urban tenements, typically unequipped with ovens, bought their bread when they could afford it.

In 1872, Dr. Hassall, the primary health reformer and a pioneer investigator into food adulteration, demonstrated that half of the bread he examined had considerable quantities of alum. Alum lowers the nutritional value of foods by inhibiting the digestion. The list of poisonous additives from that time reads like the stock list of a wicked chemist: strychnine, cocculus inculus (both hallucinogens), and copperas in rum and beer; sulphate of copper in pickles, bottled fruit, wine, and preserves; lead chromate in mustard and snuff; sulphate of iron in tea and beer; ferric ferrocynanide, lime sulphate, and turmeric in Chinese tea; copper carbonate, lead sulphate, bisulphate of mercury, and Venetian lead in sugar confectionery and chocolate; lead in wine and cider. All were extensively used and accumulative in effect, meaning that, over a long period, in chronic gastritis, and, indeed, often fatal food poisoning.


Dairies watered down their milk then added chalk to put back the color. Butter, bread, and gin often had copper added to heighten the color. In London, where ice cream was called “hokey-pockey,” tested examples proved to contain cocci, bacilli, torulae, cotton fiber, lice, bed bugs, bug’s legs, fleas, straw, human hair, cat and dog hair. Such befouled ice cream caused diphtheria, scarlet fever, diarrhea, and enteric fever. Meat purchased from butchers often came from diseased animals.

A significant cause of infant mortality was the widespread practice of giving children narcotics, especially opium, to keep them quiet. Laudanum was cheap—about the price of a pint of beer—and its sale was unregulated until late in the century. The use of opium was widespread both in town and country. In Manchester, England, five out of six working-class families used the drug habitually. One druggist admitted to selling a half-gallon of a very popular cordial, which contained opium, treacle, water, and spices, as well as five to six gallons of a substance euphemistically called “quietness” every week. Another druggist admitted to selling four hundred gallons of laudanum annually. Anyone addicted to drugs like that, should immediately contact drug rehabs near gainesville and seek their help.  At mid-century at least ten proprietary brands, with Godfrey’s Cordial, Steedman’s Powder, and the grandly named Atkinson’s Royal Infants Preservative among the most popular, were available in pharmacies everywhere. Opium in pills and penny sticks was widely sold and opium-taking in some areas was described as a way of life. Doctors reported that infants were wasted from it—’shrunk up into little old men,’ ‘wizened like little monkeys’. The nashville addiction center can help the ones that are addicted to substance just to function everyday.

And what was the fate of those wizened little monkeys? Chances are the worst of them grew up in a “sanitorium” or an asylum for the mad. After all, we can’t have rich Aunt Matilda or the preacher’s wife seeing such a child. Or the child might be put in the attic to be raised by Grandma, who’s not quite right in the head.

Kept in a drugged state much of the time, infants generally refused to eat and therefore starved.  Rather than record a baby’s death as being from severe malnutrition, coroners often listed ‘debility from birth,’ or ‘lack of breast milk,’ as the cause. Addicts were diagnosed as having alcoholic inebriety, morphine inebriety, along with an endless list of man dypsomania, opiomania, morphinomania, chloralomania, etheromania, chlorodynomania, and even chloroformomania; and – isms such as cocainism and morphinism. It wasn’t until WWI that the term “addiction” came into favor.

In the beginning, opium was considered a medical miracle used as the essential ingredient in many remedies dispensed in Europe and America for the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, asthma, rheumatism, diabetes, malaria, cholera, fevers, bronchitis, insomnia, and pains of any sort.

One must remember that at this time, the physician’s cabinet was almost bare of alternative drugs, and a doctor could hardly practice medicine without it. A great many respectable people imbibed narcotics and alcohol in the form of patent medicines and even soft drinks. Coca Cola got its name because it originally contained a minute amount of cocaine, thought to be a healthy stimulant. A shocking number of “teetotaling” women relied on daily doses of tonics that, unknown to them, contained as much alcohol as whiskey or gin. Of course, it was no secret that men imbibed alcohol at alarming rates, and alcoholism was rampant. The result was a happy but less than healthy population.



I used this in my mail-order bride story, Forever Mine. The hero’s shrew of a wife had diabetes and treated it by drinking a tonic that promised to cure everything. It didn’t. In my book, Taming Jenna, the heroine’s missing father fell victim to dipsomania and was saved by the hero’s determination and kindness. In Thalia, Book 7 of the Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series, my heroine is in love with the town’s newspaper owner. Unfortunately, he suffers from dipsomania. It doesn’t faze Thalia though. She loves him anyway.

Is it any wonder the nineteenth century became known as “the good old days”?

What are your thoughts on this? Would you have drank Coca Cola if you knew it had cocaine in it? I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card plus a copy of one of these books—Forever Mine, Taming Jenna, or Thalia—to one person who comments. The drawing will be Sunday.


Charlene Raddon is an Amazon bestselling author of sixteen historical romance novels set in the American West. Originally published in 1994 by Kensington Books, she is now an Indie author. Charlene also designs book covers, specializing in western historical. You can find her covers at

The Only Female Recipient of the Medal of Honor

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

One of the writer-related questions I get most often is where do my ideas come from. The answer is a bit complex. As a writer, I see stories everywhere – in snippets of conversation, in song lyrics, in throwaway scenes from movies and TV shows and just from everyday life. But story ideas are also very fragile – they can disappear like mist when the sun beats down or like dream fragments once you’re fully awake.

So, whenever I get an idea for a new story, even if it’s just for a character or scene, I’ll set up a document in my Ideas folder to capture it before it gets away. From time to time I’ll go back in and add to one or more of the files, depending on what snags my interest at the time. And eventually one of these ideas will tell me it’s ready to be turned into a full blown book.

All of the above is backdrop to explain that one of these idea files contained a snippet of a story set in the late 19th century with a female doctor in the lead role. Of course a story like this requires a lot of research – questions such as what educational options were available for women and where could these be found, how well received were female doctors, what difficulties would they have faced due to their gender and just in general what medical treatments and a medical practice looked like during that time period.

And as often happens, while I was happily ensconced in researching some of this, I stumbled upon an unexpected and totally intriguing story about a fascinating woman.  Her name was Mary Walker. She was born in 1832, in upstate New York to parents who encouraged all of their children to pursue formal education. Mary took full advantage of her parents’  ideals and at the age of 25 graduated from Syracuse Medical School  with a doctor of medicine degree – she was the only woman in her class.  She then went into private practice and eventually married another physician, Dr. Albert Miller. However, in an action that was typical of her fierce independent spirit, she retained her maiden name. Eventually, she and Miller divorced due to his alleged infidelity.

When the Civil War broke out, Mary wanted to serve in the army as a surgeon, but because she was a woman she was unable to do so. Not willing to give up, she worked for free in a temporary hospital in Washington D.C.   From there she moved on to Virginia, treating the wounded at numerous field hospitals throughout the area.  Finally, in 1863, her medical credentials were acknowledged and she was appointed as a War Department surgeon. A year later she was captured by the Confederate Army and remained their prisoner for about four months.



In 1865, Dr. Walker became the first woman to ever be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, an acknowledgement for her services during the Civil War.

Mary’s unconventional life extended past her service during the war.  She was an active and vigorous proponent of women’s rights.  She became an author and a lecturer, focusing on issues such as temperance, health care and dress reform.  And putting action to her words, she could often be seen garbed in bloomers or even men’s trousers and  a top hat. Dr. Walker was a member of the Woman’s Suffrage Bureau in Washington D.C. and testified before committees in the US House of Representatives on woman’s suffrage issues.

In 1917 her name, along with 910 others, was stricken from the list of Medal of Honor recipients. The reason given was that none of these had ever officially served in the military. However, despite orders to return her medal, Mary refused and continued to wear it for the remainder of her life. She passed away in 1919 at the age of 86.

But that’s not the end of Dr. Walker’s story.  In 1977, thanks to efforts made by her family who pushed for a Congressional reappraisal of her accomplishments, President Jimmy Carter restored her medal posthumously. She is one of only six people to have this honor restored after it was rescinded. And to date she is still the only female to ever have this medal awarded to her.

So what do you think of this very unorthodox woman? Is there something about her life that particularly intrigued you?  Comment on this post for a chance to win an advance copy of my upcoming December release Once Upon A Texas Christmas.


Partners for the Holidays 

Abigail Fulton is determined to find independence in Turnabout, Texas—and becoming manager of the local hotel could be the solution. But first, she must work with Seth Reynolds to renovate the property by Christmas—and convince him she’s perfect for the job. If only he hadn’t already promised the position to someone else… 

Ever since his troubled childhood, Seth yearns to prove himself. And this hotel is his best chance. But what does someone like Abigail know about decor and furnishings? Yet the closer the holiday deadline gets, the more he appreciates her abilities and her kindness. His business ambitions require denying Abigail’s dearest wish, but can they put old dreams aside for a greater gift—love and family?



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Is There a Doctor in the House?

newsletter_headerjpg - 2Back in February, my e-novella Love on the Mend debuted, featuring Dr. Jacob Sadler as my male lead. He was my first doctor character, though Crockett from Stealing the Preacher came close. Crockett was self-taught, however. Jacob actually completed medical school and worked as an army surgeon during the War Between the States. Just last week, I was honored to see the first print version of the story. In Dutch. Yes, still no plans for a print  version in the US, but if you travel to the Netherlands, you can find one. Ha!

Although, the translated title look like it reads “Life of the Receipt.” A scintillating tale of a girl trying to return the doctor’s bag she purchased accidentally only to realize she’s stuck with it unless she can find the receipt. Did the dog eat it? Did her next door rival steal it? Or did the matchmaking store clerk purposely send it home with the handsome doctor from the next county hoping to bring the unlikely pair together in an adventure neither saw coming? Find out in Life of the Receipt.

Well, back to doctors. I’ve always been fascinated by these courageous men and women who dedicate their lives to helping others. Some of my favorite western doctors have been:

Dr Quinn Medicine Woman


Dr. Michaela Quinn – One of my favorite shows from the 80s. A strong female lead proving herself in a rugged land. A love story between the reclusive frontiersman and the educated woman. Plenty of medical drama, frontier drama, and family drama. I watched every episode without fail.





Little House Dr Baker




And who could forget Dr. Hiram Baker from Little House on the Prairie? He was one of those rare characters that you could always trust to do the right thing. He never lost his temper. Never got flustered. Just treated everyone with the same calm, soothing, competent manner that instantly put people at ease. I wish we still had doctors like him today, making house calls in his black buggy.





This next one is a bit of a stretch. Robert Fuller started off as one of my favorite TV cowboys – Cooper Smith, the scout from the series Wagon Train. Later he took on the role of Dr. Kelly Brackett on one of the first TV medical dramas I remember from my youth in the 70s – Emergency.

Robert-Fuller as Cooper Smith in Wagon Train
Robert-Fuller as Cooper Smith in Wagon Train
Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett on Emergency
Robert Fuller as Dr. Kelly Brackett on Emergency













The last western doctor is one I just discovered. How did I never know this show existed? I guess it was never one of the westerns that reran its episodes in the 70s when I was around to catch them on Frontier Doctor TV ShowSaturday afternoons. Do any of you remember Frontier Doctor from 1958? It starred Rex Allen as small town doctor Bill Baxter in the Arizona Territory in the early 1900s. It was only in syndication for a year, which explains why it never made it to rerun status in the 70s. Sounds like a show that would have been up my alley, though.

  • How about you? Who are are some of your favorite TV/movie doctors?

Any Dr. House fans? I can’t believe how much I enjoy that show when the lead character is such a horrible human being, but I do. It’s definitely unique and I love the medical mystery aspect of it.

Oh, and for anyone who’s interested, the English version of Love on the Mend is available for all e-readers for around $1.99. You can purchase the Kindle version here.