The Hardships of Traveling to the West (And a Giveaway!)

By Jody Hedlund

Howdy, everyone! Thank you for having me back here on Petticoat and Pistols! I’m thrilled to have another chance to hang out with you all!

I recently had another cowboy book release, The Heart of a Cowboy (and I’m giving away a copy today here!). This one has to do with the very fun and interesting topic of traveling west by covered wagons.

Almost everyone has heard of the Oregon Trail and the many people who traveled to the west in covered wagons (and by stagecoach) over the well-worn route.

The Santa Fe Trail was another such trail to the west. It ran parallel to the Oregon Trail (mostly) but was a more southerly route through Kansas that eventually led to New Mexico (and was also used to reach southern Colorado).

Whether the Oregon or Santa Fe trails, the months-long journey to the west was marked by incredible difficulties. In researching for my book, I read countless diaries and journal entries by many of the brave people who ventured across the country. One classic I read was The Prairie Traveler which was actually a book written in 1859 by an army captain by the name of Randolph B. Marcy. The U.S. War Department asked him to publish a guide for settlers traveling across the American frontier based on his extensive experiences. His little book soon became an essential handbook for those pioneers. They used his advice on how to prepare for the trip as well as what to expect in the open country.

Even with sufficient preparation, good equipment, and an experienced guide, the travelers still faced incredible challenges. The npshistory.com site (National Park Service) indicates that nearly one in ten travelers on the Oregon Trail died on route to the west.

The Heart of the Cowboy tackles many of the hardships travelers had to endure including a near-river drowning, lost livestock, lost people, vicious storms, threats from Confederate Irregulars, danger from rattlesnakes, hot and dry weather, lack of water for both people and livestock, and much more.

One really dangerous aspect of traveling the Santa Fe Trail was the possibility of running out of water. I read an account of this very thing happening to travelers and how they dug down into the dry riverbed, placed their wagon box into the hole, and finally were able to tap into water buried a little deeper in the ground. So, of course, I had to include such an incident in my story too! (Along with many other dangers that really did happen to real-life travelers!)

Such stories of bravery make me appreciate those early pioneers all the more! (And make me grateful for our easy, fast, and comfy modern cars and airplanes!)

Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on November 7, this Sunday. To find out more information about the book visit: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/the-heart-of-a-cowboy/

If you had to travel in a covered wagon to the west, what would you like most? Like least?

 

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens.

She is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats.

Visit her at jodyhedlund.com

 

 

Writing a Home Town Romance

My childhood years were spent on a farm 12 miles from the nearest town (population 1,000) that sat on the banks of the Malheur River in Eastern Oregon.

We usually ventured into town twice a week – once for my piano lessons, and on Sunday for church. Mom usually did her grocery shopping while I pounded the ivories. If my lesson wrapped up early and the weather was nice, I sometimes waited for Mom outside, studying the old buildings, imagining what the town might have been like when they were constructed.

One building, in particular, always fascinated me. It was made of stone and the oldest building in town.

Through the years, I learned more about the Stone House, as it’s called.

 

 

Built in 1872, this sandstone structure was the first permanent building in Malheur County, Oregon.

Jonathan Keeney had previously settled there, near the banks of the Malheur River where pioneers on the Oregon Trail crossed it, and enjoyed the hot springs bubbling nearby. He sold his property to Lewis and Amanda Rinehart, who replaced the log house Keeney had built with the sandstone house. The house opened to all on New Year’s Day 1873 with a grand ball upstairs.

Just picture how welcoming that lone two-story house would have looked to weary travelers. After crossing the Snake River, it was about twenty miles across sagebrush-covered hills to reach the Malheur River. In the summer, it would have been miserable. Hot. Dry. Dusty. With mile after mile of sagebrush, rocks, hills, and not much else.

In fact, one weary traveler is said to have perished (supposedly from thirst) not far from the river, given up his battle to survive just a few yards too soon.

But on the other side of the Malheur River stood the Stone House. In fact, many referred to the community as Stone House for years, until the town was incorporated as Vale.

The house became a wayside stop for travelers until the early 1900s. It was a stage stop where travelers could wait to board. And during the Bannock Paiute uprising of 1878, it served as Field Headquarters to General O.O. Howard as well as a refuge for settlers on outlying ranches and farms.

Amanda Rinehart was known as a gracious hostess, welcoming visitors to her home.

The Stone House original floor plan

 

 

Originally, the house had six “rooms” downstairs: a main lobby area for passengers waiting for the stage with a curtain separating it to create a space for women and children. The dining room took up most of the first-floor space, with a sizeable kitchen, a pantry, and the Rinehart’s bedroom. Upstairs was originally a ballroom which was then converted to rooms for guests. And the stairs to reach the second story were located outside.

Today, the Stone House is a museum that reminds of us the past. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

When I was invited to participate in the Regional Romance Series again this year, I thought about how fun it would be to write a romance set in the community of Stone House before it became the town of Vale. A few old records refer to the town as Rinehart’s Crossing, and I loved the way Romance at Rinehart’s Crossing sounded. All those times I sat and imagined the stories of the buildings in town were finally going to be put to use as I envisioned the Rinehart’s Crossing of my story.

Before I started writing, I made a trip to visit the Stone House and took my dad along. He had a grand time because he knew the volunteer working there that day and they farmed at least two acres while I wandered through the rooms, snapping photos of the things on display.

Like this horse hair coat (which I mention in the story!).

And just look at all the neat antiques in the kitchen.

I will proudly note the stove was donated by my dad to the museum. When I was very young and we lived in what we called the “old house” it had a place of honor in our dining room. The stove originally belonged to my sister-in-law’s grandmother. It was sitting out in a shed and she asked Dad if he wanted to buy it, so he did. I love to think of all the meals it cooked and all the memories it holds.

This enormous hook was used with the ferry at the Snake River Crossing. The volunteer (thanks, Gary!) gave a detailed description of how the hook worked, and how the ferry could be adjusted to flow with or against the current.

When we finished up at the museum, we drove a few miles out of town to Keeney Pass, named for Jonathan Keeney, were you can actually stand right on the Oregon Trail. With the dried weeds and grass, it’s a little hard to see, but where the dip is on the right and left are the actually ruts made by the wagons that rolled through the area. I get goose bumps every time I go out there, picturing the hot, tired, weary travelers as they head up another hill to see the river and a little town in the distance.

It was fun for me to write about an Oregon Trail town, especially one where I grew up!

 

 

Tenner King is determined to make his own way in the world far from the overbearing presence of his father and the ranch where he was raised in Rinehart’s Crossing, Oregon. Reluctantly, he returns home after his father’s death to find the ranch on its way to ruin and his siblings antsy to leave. Prepared to do whatever is necessary to save the ranch, Tenner isn’t about to let a little thing like love get in his way.

Austen – After spending her entire life ruled by her father, Austen Rose King certainly isn’t going to allow her bossy older brother to take on the job. Desperate to leave the hard work and solitude of the Diamond K Ranch, she decides a husband would be the fastest means of escape. If only she could find a man she could tolerate for more than five minutes.

Claire – Two thousand miles of travel. Two thousand miles of listening to her parents bicker about the best place in Oregon to settle. Two thousand miles of dusty trails, bumpy wagons, and things that slither and creep into her bedding at night. Claire Clemons would happily set down roots that very minute if someone would let her. What she needs is her own Prince Charming to give her a place to call home. When a broken wagon wheel strands her family miles from civilization, she wonders if handsome Worth King, the freighter who rescues them, might just be the answer to her prayers.

Kendall – Anxious to escape her mother’s meddling interference, Kendall Arrington leaves her society life behind, intent on experiencing a Wild West adventure. Hired as the school teacher in a growing town on the Oregon Trail, Kendall hopes to bring a degree of civility and a joy of learning to the children of Rinehart’s Crossing. However, the last thing she expects to find is a cowboy with shaggy hair, dusty boots, and incredible green eyes among her eager students.

Will love find the three King siblings as Romance arrives in Rinehart’s Crossing?

Read all the books in the Regional Romance Series featuring historic locations, exciting drama, and sweet (yet swoony) romance!

If you could write a story about your hometown, what would it be about?

Any key buildings or characters you would include? 

Post your answer for a chance to win an autographed copy of Romance at Rinehart’s Crossing! 

 

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.

OREGON FEVER / The Great Migration of 1843 & Giveaway

Oregon fever had gripped the county for years. Lewis and Clark accounts started it then others fueled the flames with claims of fertile soil and a temperate climate. Books were written and Congressmen and Senators proposed legislation offering free land in Oregon that finally passed in 1850.

But a fly called The Rockies flew into the ointment. The mountain range stood in the way and must be crossed.

The union of commerce and faith helped blaze the trail west. A merchant by the name of Nathaniel Wyeth and Methodist-Episcopal Missionary Jason Lee set out in 1834 for Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Wyeth had made the trip two years prior and guided Lee to his proposed mission. He promised mountain men that he’d bring trade goods to their next rendezvous.

The Wyeth-Lee party was the first group to traverse the entire Oregon Trail as it’s known today, though not all the way by wagon. They left those at For Hall and packed mules, traveling by foot the rest of the way.

A few more brave souls made it the following years, even two white women were among the number.

Two events spurred even more folks to go west. Missionary Marcus Whitman coming east in the winter of 42’-3 to confer with his mission’s board members, and the Senate passing the Linn Act.

The house narrowly defeated the bill, and it wasn’t until 1850 that it finally did pass, but the vote had been so close, folks figured it would pass soon enough. Plus, if Whitman could make the trek in winter, then traveling in spring and summer shouldn’t be any hill for a stepper.

Over 875 pilgrims met then left from Elm Grove a dozen miles out of Independence, Missouri for what became known as the Great Migration of 1843.

Before the western exodus by covered wagons ended—mostly due to the completion of the intercontinental train—over more than half a million people traveled over the Oregon and California Trails to start a new life.

Oxen were favored over mules and horse to pull the wagons for the bovine could survive on poorer quality feed and were better to eat if the need arose. They cost less as well. Teams of seven pair were common, and some train captains required that many.

Early on, no unaccompanied females were allowed. That fact has been fodder for many an Oregon Trail book, mine included.

Being a former goat fancier—my husband Ron got tired of feeding my girls—I used the death of a milk goat to throw Ruth and Logan together in my latest Prairie Roses offering, RUTH, book eight in the multi-author collection.

Hopefully, I showed the extra hardship of caring for two infants on the journey west. Nappies alone had to have been awful, on top of cooking and seeing to the other chores.

Ever hauled water out of a river? The trains paralleled the Platt most of the way but being close to water proved imperative.

A lot of the immigrants couldn’t stand the wagon’s rough ride and ended up walking the entire two thousand miles. A drover walked beside the main ox, keeping him in line and up to speed with voice commands and a stick he used to prod the animal.

His partner in pulling, the off ox knew his place as did the others. Best not even think about putting an animal in the wrong position. If sojourners did have mules or horses pulling their wagon, then someone had to be driving them.

Prairie Schooners were preferred over the more spacious Conestoga because of the sheer weight. Imagine packing everything you’d need to start over in the wilderness in a fourteen-by-four-foot wagon and head out for parts unknown.

Oregon Fever must have been some kind of powerful bug.

 

GIVEAWAY – Answer the following question to be in the running for the e’copy of REMI, my first Prairie Roses story.

What one luxury item could you not stand to leave behind, and what would you be willing to leave to make room for it? 

 

 

 

RUTH released on May 3rd, my 71st birthday! It’s a story of redemption and second chances. I’m so grateful that we serve a God of second chances! Here’s the back-cover copy for it:

The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Fleeing heartache, shame, and betrayal, Ruth finds all her plans are thwarted until the untimely death of a goat that gives her hope! Hired as a wet-nurse for Logan’s motherless son, she rejects his marriage-of-convenience proposal, hoping to find true love at the trail’s end. Going West (in what was later called the Great Migration of 1842) satisfies the widower’s wanderlust, and even though she turns him down, he determines to prove his love is true. Come along on this infamous journey of love and adventure. 

Get you copy today here: Amazon

 

BIO – Award-winning, Christian author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory. Of her best-selling novels, readers love her historical Christian romance family sagas most, but she also writes Christian contemporary romance, mysteries, Biblical fiction, and also for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. The large majority of reviewers award her stories five-stars and praise Caryl’s characters, even praying for them at times. The prolific writer loves singing the new songs God gives her almost as much as penning tales—hear a few at YouTube! Married to Ron fifty-three years next month, she shares four children and twenty-one grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in the far corner of Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

 

LINKS

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/caryl-mcadoo?follow=true  

Website – http://www.CarylMcAdoo.com    

Newsletter – http://carylmcadoo.com/sign-up-to-the-caryler/

Guest Post by Angela K. Couch

The Oregon Trail was a route from Missouri to Oregon spanning about 2000 miles, and deemed too difficult for women and children until 1836 when the first white woman, 28-year-old Narcissa Whitman, crossed the Rockies with her newly-wedded husband (proving that women are tougher than believed!). Still, it wasn’t until over half of a decade later that the “Great Migration” really began, setting thousands out on this journey to the west. By the early 1850s upwards of 50,000 people traveled this trail every year!

While the journey was not easy and not everyone arrived at their destination, statistics show only around 400 settlers were killed by natives between 1840 and 1860. Cholera and other diseases presented much greater risks (they estimate 20,000 died in all).

But what if someone became lost from their group? That is the question that pestered me as I drove through the Rockies several years ago. A woman, maybe a pregnant woman, lost from the trail and her wagon train late in the season. That was the birth of Heart of a Warrior, my new release.

 

 

The Man She Fears Is Her Only Chance For Survival . . .

All Christina Astle wants is to reach Oregon before her baby is born, but the wagon train is attacked, and her husband killed, stranding her in a mountain labyrinth. Raised in the East, within civilization’s embrace, survival is not a skill she’s learned. Neither is evading the lone warrior dogging her trail.

Disgusted by the greed and cruelty of men like his white father, Towan has turned to the simpler existence of his mother’s tribal people. He is not prepared for the fiery woman who threatens to upturn his entire life … and his heart.

For More Info or To Purchase, check out the following links:

Pelican Books           Amazon           Barnes & Noble

 

 

So how about you? Have you ever found yourself lost? How did you react? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.

 

 

To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after four—soon to be five!—munchkins. http://www.angelakcouch@hotmil.com

 

 

Grass Valley Brides

Years ago, a dear friend invited me to spend the weekend with her at her parents’ home in Sherman County, Oregon. I’d never been in that part of the state, but quickly fell in “awe” with the rolling hills of wheat and sky that stretched forever. A few years after that, I found myself driving through the area and when I entered the tiny town of Grass Valley, the idea for a book began hopping around in my head. By the time I got home, I could hardly wait to get started writing it.

 

And one book led to another, until there were six in the sweet, contemporary Grass Valley Cowboys series. The stories are all set in and around Grass Valley, focusing on the Thompson and Morgan families.

The cowboys in the stories are the kind of heroes that give you happy daydreams (and may even make you swoon). They can be tender, teasing, flirty, furious, mischievous, rascally, protective, and proud, and that’s all before breakfast!

I’ve often thought about how fun it would be to write about the first families who came to Grass Valley, at least the families connected to those in my stories. 

 

The settlement of Grass Valley began with the establishment of a few stock ranches. Settlers began to arrive in the area and were soon plowing the cattle-sustaining grass to plant wheat fields.  Dr. Charles R. Rollins, a physician from New Hampshire, is credited with establishing Grass Valley when he arrived in the area with a small party of pioneers.  Dr. Rollins had an easy time choosing a name for the location since the rye grass grew thick and tall in the alkaline soil. Rollins built a large two-story hotel, which included a clinic from which he prescribed and sold medicine.  The town of Grass Valley was officially established in 1878.

I knew train service didn’t arrive in the area until around 1900, so I started digging into more history.

If you look at the map above, you see the John Day River, the Columbia River, and the Deschutes River make up the boundaries of quite a large area. Reportedly, Dr. Rollins was the only physician “between the rivers” for a while as communities popped up around the county. 

Originally, I’d wanted to set the story in 1878, when Grass Valley was established, but getting my characters there was proving to be a challenge. So, I kicked the timeline up to 1884 when train service ran all the way across the country and made a stop in The Dalles. From there, it was simple enough to board the stagecoach that ran daily from The Dalles to Canyon City to the southeast. Just to reach Grass Valley took most of the day with stops at stations to switch out the teams for fresh horses. I could just picture a cast of characters bouncing along on that long ride, eager to reach Grass Valley.

When I was asked to participate in a new project with three other authors, I knew it was time to write the story of the first Thompson to arrive in Grass Valley. 

I’m so pleased and happy to be part of the Regional Romance Series with our own Kit Morgan, as well as Kari Trumbo and Peggy L. Henderson. What makes this series so fun and unique is that each of us is writing three connected stories that are bundled into one book. If you purchase all four books in the series, you actually get twelve (12!) brand new romances! 

My contribution to the series is Grass Valley Brides.

I can hardly wait for you to read these stories, because they were ridiculously delightful to write! Oh, boy, did I have a good time! Mostly because of Taggart Thompson.

He is a rascally, good-looking rancher who fancies himself to be quite the matchmaker. And the real matchmaker is ready to throttle him! 

What’s a matchmaker to do when the husband-to-be rejects the bride?

     Again . . .

Widowed as a young wife, Cara Cargill turned her head for business and love of romance into a successful mail-order bride enterprise. She’s never had a problem matching couples until one mule-headed man continues to refuse to wed the women she sends to meet him in Grass Valley, Oregon. In an effort to make a match he’ll keep and uphold her sterling reputation, Cara is desperate to find the perfect bride.

Daisy – When her fiancé leaves her at the altar, Daisy Bancroft knows it is far past time for a change. Her dearest friend, Cara, offers to send her to a newly established town in Oregon, where possibilities abound and the grass is rumored to be as tall as a man’s head. Daisy arrives with plans to wed Tagg Thompson, only to find the obstinate rancher has foisted her off on his best friend.

Birdie – Tired of waiting for her Mister Right to magically appear and whisk her away to a happily-ever-after, Bridget “Birdie” Byrne convinces her sister, a renowned matchmaker, to send her as the bride to Tagg Thompson. The man who greets her upon her arrival isn’t Tagg, but Birdie is certain she’s finally discovered the man she is meant to marry.  

Cara – Fed up with Tagg Thompson and his refusals of every bride she’s sent to Grass Valley for him to wed, Cara decides to meet the exasperating man in person. Her feet are barely on the ground in the rustic town before she’s nearly bowled over by a herd of stampeding cattle and swept into the brawny arms of a cowboy with the bluest eyes she’s ever seen.

Will true love find its home in the hearts of these Grass Valley Brides.

 

Dear Mrs. Cargill,

At the rate you’re finding me a wife, I may be too old to have any kids by the time I get married. Speaking of children, Sally Oliver, she was the first bride you sent, wanted me to pass on the news to you that she and her husband, Mr. Buster Martin, will be parents in March. Good thing you’ve got me to help find these women a happy home.

Are you sure you know what you’re doing? You came highly recommended as one of the top matchmakers in the country, but if you have this much trouble with everyone who engages your services, I don’t see how you stay in business.

Please let me know when you have another bride ready to send my way. I look forward to making her acquaintance, and can only pray she’ll be better suited as a ranch wife than the last four you sent.

Respectfully,

Mr. T. Thompson

Grass Valley, Oregon

 

What do you think? Will Cara find a bride to please Tagg?

 

 

 

 

The Fourth of July, Frontier Style

The Fourth of July was celebrated big time in the Old West.  From mining camps to wild cow towns, those early settlers used the day to whoop it up with dances, speeches, parades, foot races, and turkey shoots.  Not to be left out, even American Indians celebrated the day with pow-wows and dances. 

Some celebrations even took place in remote areas. In 1830, Mountain man William L. Sublette, on his way to Wind River with 81 men and 10 wagons, celebrated the holiday next to a large 130-foot-high rock.  Claiming to have “kept the 4th of July in due style,” Sublette named the large boulder Independence Rock.

Independence Rock

Located in what is now Wyoming, the rock became a signpost for travelers on the Oregon and Mormon trails. Companies arriving at the rock by July fourth knew they had made good time and would beat the mountain snows.  Celebrations included inscribing names on the rock and shooting off guns. 

Not every community celebrated with guns and fireworks.  In 1864, a mining town in Nevada decided to celebrate its first fourth with a dance.  Music, flag, and dance committees were formed. Of the three, the music committee was the most challenging as the only musician was a violinist who had an affinity for whiskey. His drinks had to be carefully regulated before the celebration.  

Stag Dance

Since the town lacked a flag, the flag committee pieced one together from a quilt.  Fortunately, a traveling family camping nearby provided the blue fabric.  The family included a mother and four girls, which meant more women for the dance.  The problem was the girls had no shoes, which would have made it difficult to dance on the rough wood floors.   The miners solved the problem by taking up a collection of brogans, and the dance went off without a hitch. 

William “Buffalo Bill” Cody made history in North Platte, Nebraska on July 4, 1882, when he mounted an exhibition of cowboy “sports.”  This was the beginning of his Wild West shows and what we now call a rodeo.

Not to be outdone, Dodge City did something different two years later for the Fourth of July to attract attention and business; It hosted the first professional Mexican bullfight on U.S. soil. Though the event was a financial success, it was not without controversy.  Many, including Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, denounced the sport as barbaric.

Compared to the rest of the country, Denver’s first Fourth of July celebration was oddly subdued. Drinking or carousing was not allowed.  Instead, the Declaration of Independence was read, followed by prayers, “chaste and appropriate oration” and wholesome band music.

This year, most public celebrations have been canceled.  But we Americans will find a way to keep “the 4th of July in due style.”  Just like they did in the Old West.

How are you and your family celebrating the Fourth this year?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter. Amazon

B&N

 

Secrets of My Heart and Book Giveaway

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

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

Freed slave in Oregon.

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

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

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

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/exclusion_laws/#.XRf4A-tTmpo

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/14th_amendment/#.XRfyZetTmpo

https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/15th_amendment/#.XRfxxutTmpo

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

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

I hope you’ll enjoy the series.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

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

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

Amazon

Tracie had an unexpected travel engagement arise today and will not be available to respond to comments here today, but she welcomes readers to contacted her directly at tjpbooks@aol.com or through her website http://www.traciepeterson.com.

The Oregon Trail Trading Post with Jennifer Uhlarik!

Hi everyone. Jennifer Uhlarik here. Have you ever thought of what traveling along the Oregon Trail is like? While I am fascinated with the idea of our forefathers traveling months along the path to make a life in the wilds of Oregon or other western places, the thought of being that far from civilization—particularly someplace to replenish supplies—is a frightening one. Keeping it real here: I live 2 miles from the grocery store, and it’s waaaaayyyyyy too easy for me to wait until 5 pm some nights to decide what I’m making for dinner, then rush off to the store for supplies. Our ancestors on the Oregon Trail didn’t have such luxuries! They had to pack enough stores to do life until they reached a trading post or fort to buy more.

So how did these trading posts get their start and what were they like?

As early as the 1500’s, French and English fishermen were sailing to the coast of Newfoundland to fish for cod. It was here that they encountered some local Indian tribes who were anxious to trade for metal goods. In order to obtain the iron pots, pans, knives and tools they coveted, the Indians offered beaver pelts, which they could provide in great quantities. It took the fishermen little time to sell the pelts once they returned home, and people quickly realized that the soft underfur of a beaver pelt made a wonderful felt for hat-making. With a growing demand for beaver pelts, both France and England began to explore North America with the intent to colonize it. Not long after, France began setting up trading posts in Quebec. Of course, England’s Hudson Bay Company moved into the area as well, sending traders and trappers across parts of Canada and the American frontier. Wherever they went, Hudson Bay Company set up trading posts to barter with the native population.

As life on the frontier changed from a focus on the fur trade to a focus on Westward Expansion, many of the old trading posts lived on. The owners of the posts continued to trade with the Indian tribes, but they also became outposts where white travels and settlers could get supplies. These small outposts provided staples like coffee, tea, rice, tins of hardtack biscuits, dried fruit, or canned goods. They also offered tools and utensils, such as cast iron pots, kettles, knives, and axes, saddles, and flint and steel for starting fires. Customers could trade for textiles, such as beaver-felt hats, blankets, bandanas, ribbon, thread, needles, and fabric. Ornamental or decorative supplies were commonly found, anything from silver to beads and beyond. And of course, guns, ammunition, and other shooting supplies were a common item found in these trading posts.

I’m sure you can imagine, life on the frontier could be lonely and supplies might be hard to come by. You had to learn to live with what you had…and make do until you could restock. Often, these trading posts were lifesavers, keeping people from starving or doing without until they reached the next major stop on their journey west. Or they might have prevented settlers from having to make a long trek to the nearest town or city, which might be days or weeks away. They certainly weren’t as convenient as today’s 7-Eleven, but I’m betting they were welcome stopovers to more than a few of our ancestors.

 

It’s your turn: If you had lived in times past, would you have liked to live on the frontier where a trading post might be your nearest source of supplies, or would you have preferred to live in a town or city? I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection to one reader who leaves a comment.

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Follow Jennifer at bit.ly.UhlarikNews

 

The Oregon Trail Romance Collection

Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail where daily challenges force travelers to evaluate the things that are most precious to them—including love. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples.

 

Click HERE to buy

 

Grass Valley Cowboys

A few weeks ago, I was working on promotional plans for my books for the summer. As I browsed through my books, a little niggling thought kept popping up… one that said it was time for more book cover makeovers.

Every once in a while, I’ll give a book cover a new look. It’s fun and allows my brain to use some different creative skills. 

This time, the series I decided could use a new look is one of my favorites — the Grass Valley Cowboys. 

Set in the tiny Oregon town of Grass Valley, this series focuses on (as the title implies) the cowboys who live there. Specifically, cowboys from the Thompson and Morgan families.

I had such a good time writing these books and I do plan to write a few more before I bring the series to an end. The inspiration for the series came when I happened to drive through the area on the way to spend the weekend with my aunt and cousins. I just couldn’t help thinking what a fun setting Grass Valley would provide for a story.  Not only that, but one of my dear friends grew up in the area, and had stories to share about things that happened there.

The settlement of Grass Valley began with the establishment of a few stock ranches. Settlers began to arrive in the area and were soon plowing the cattle-sustaining grass to plant wheat fields.  Dr. Charles R. Rollins, a physician from New Hampshire, is credited with establishing Grass Valley when he arrived in the area with a small party of pioneers.  Dr. Rollins had an easy time choosing a name for the location since the rye grass grew thick and tall in the alkaline soil. Rollins built a large two-story hotel, which included a clinic from which he prescribed and sold medicine. 

The Grass Valley Cowboys series takes place in modern times, but as I wrote the stories, I often envisioned what life was like when the area was yet settled. When deer hid from hunters in the tall grass and those crossing the Oregon Trail pressed onward for the fir-dotted hills of the Willamette Valley. 

Here’s a little about the books and a look at the brand-spanking new covers!

The Cowboy’s Christmas Plan

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 1

Cadence Greer’s plans for a happy-ever-after are quickly derailed when her fiancé runs off with his secretary a week before their wedding. Homeless, jobless, and jilted, she escapes to Grass Valley, Oregon, where she takes a job as a housekeeper and cook to seven cowboys on a sprawling ranch.

Trey Thompson is a well-respected pillar of the community, running a successful ranch with his brother. All he wanted was someone to cook meals and keep the house clean. When he hires Cadence Greer for the job, he gets more than he ever planned on, including a sassy little redheaded orphan.

 

The Cowboy’s Spring Romance

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 2

Trent Thompson doesn’t have many secrets, except for the torch he’s carried for the new schoolteacher since she moved to Grass Valley more than three years ago. Instead of asking her out, he’s dated every single female in a thirty-mile radius, giving her the impression he holds no interest in knowing her.

Lindsay Pierce moved to Grass Valley to teach and quickly fell in love with the small community as well as the delightful people who live there. Everyone welcomes her warmly except for one obnoxious cowboy who goes out of his way to ignore her.

Will Trent be able to maintain the pretense when he has to babysit his niece, who happens to be in Lindsay’s class?

 

The Cowboy’s Summer Love

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 3

After six years in the service and two tours of duty in the middle of a war zone, Travis Thompson eagerly returns home to Grass Valley, ready to resume his life on the Triple T Ranch with his two older brothers. Ever the wild-child, Travis doesn’t disappoint as he rolls from one adventure to another in his quest to keep his adrenaline pumping. He needs a release for the tension constantly building inside him, especially after he discovers the girl he’s loved his entire life just moved back to Grass Valley.

In love with Travis Thompson since she was old enough to notice boys, Tess Morgan can’t stay away from him no matter how hard she tries. Convinced Travis sees her only as his best friend’s sister, she wants him to realize she is the woman who could love him deeply and passionately.

 

The Cowboy’s Autumn Fall

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 4

Brice Morgan thought love at first sight was some ridiculous notion of school girls and old ladies who read too many romance novels. At least he does until he falls hard and fast for an intriguing and thoroughly perplexing woman at a friend’s wedding.

Bailey Bishop attends her cousin’s wedding with no intention of extending her brief visit to Oregon. Married to her career as a paleontologist, Bailey tries to ignore her intense attraction to her cousin’s best friend, Brice. Ready to return home to Denver, Bailey instead accepts the opportunity to explore a new dig site not far from the family’s ranch in Grass Valley. Can she keep her feelings for Brice from derailing her plans for the future?

 

The Cowboy’s New Heart

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 5

Former bull rider Hart Hammond spent twenty years building a business empire while successfully avoiding love. He buried his heart the same day he made his last bull ride and has vowed to never make the mistake of loving a woman again. Then he meets the beautiful mother of the fun-loving Thompson tribe.

Years after her husband died, Denni Thompson can’t bear to think of giving her heart to anyone else. With three newly married sons, a grandchild on the way, and a busy life, Denni doesn’t entertain any notions of romance until she encounters the handsome new owner of Grass Valley’s gas station.

 

The Cowboy’s Last Goodbye

Grass Valley Cowboys Book 6

With his siblings and friends entangled in the state of matrimony, Ben Morgan is more determined than ever to remain blissfully single. Despite his vehement refusal to commit to a relationship, he can’t help but envision a future with the sweet, charming woman who unknowingly captures his heart.

Harper Hayes is an expert at bad relationships. After vowing never to wed, the idea enters her mind with alarming frequency after she meets Ben Morgan. Although the handsome cowboy makes it clear he’s only interested in having fun, Harper’s dog and crazy uncle have other ideas.

 

You can find all the books in the series on Amazon .

Also, for a limited time, The Cowboy’s Summer Love is on sale for just 99 cents! 

If you were going to come up with a name for a book in this series, what would you choose?