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Linda_HubalekLilly: Bride of Illinois,

What does the Union Stockyards in Chicago, have to do with a mail-order bride story set in 1890?

I needed a place in Illinois, where a woman from Massachusetts, could meet a man from Kansas. While doing research, I found out the American Horse Show was held in The Yards on Nov. 1-8, 1890 (125 years ago!). The setting and dates were perfect for my contribution, Lilly: Bride of Illinois, book twenty-one, in the American Mail-Order Bride Series, which debuted Dec. 9th. This book is a spin-off of my Brides with Grit Series featuring one of Pastor and Kaitlyn Reagan’s boys, Seth, as an adult.

The Union Stockyards was established in 1865 and became the point where livestock raised in the west, were shipped and processed. Then the meat was shipped on to the Eastern States. (This is where the Texas cattle were shipped to after arriving in the Kansas cow towns.)

Union_stock_yards_chicago_1870s_locThis color lithograph was made by Charles Rascher, and published by Walsh & Co., c1878.

Caption below title on lithograph: Packing houses in the distance. Covered pens for hogs and sheep; open pens for cattle. Area of yards, 75 acres; 50 miles railroad tracks. Daily capacity: 25,000 head cattle, 160,000 hogs, 10,000 sheep, and 1,000 horses.

A tidbit from Wikipedia: Processing two million animals yearly by 1870, in two decades the number rose to nine million by 1890. Between 1865 and 1900, approximately 400 million livestock were butchered within the confines of the Yards. By the start of the 20th century, the stockyards employed 25,000 people and produced 82 percent of the domestic meat consumed nationally.

Eventually, the expanded 375-acre site had 2300 separate livestock pens, but closed in 1971.


Lilly-Bride-of-IllinoisHere’s the story line for Lilly: Bride of Illinois.

Lilly Lind was forced to emigrate from Sweden two years ago, due to circumstances beyond her control. She finds a job as a garment maker in the Brown Textile Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, finally feeling as though she is settling in her new country. Then a suspicious fire burns the mill, making Lilly seek another way to survive. She answers a mail–order bride ad in the Grooms’ Gazette and sets off for Chicago, believing she will be a business owner’s wife.

Kansas rancher Seth Reagan travels to the Union Stockyards in Chicago to attend the 1890 American Fat Stock Show, the American Horse Show, and to purchase horseflesh to augment his herd. When arriving at the train station, he overhears a conversation between a young woman and a shady–looking man. Seth becomes concerned for the mail–order bride who is whisked away to a saloon, not to her new husband’s home.

When Seth goes to the saloon to check on the young woman, he finds her in trouble and offers to help her escape. While buying horses and arranging their return travel to Kansas, Seth realizes he would like to bring Lilly home with him, too, but she is still being hunted by the saloon owner’s thugs.

Lilly’s good fortune in meeting Seth makes her want to start a life with this man, but he came to Illinois for horses, not a bride. Would he want her after he learns of her secrets?


I’m giving away a Kindle version of Lilly to someone who comments on…If you could visit Chicago, what would you like to do and see there?


The American Mail-Order Brides Series is a joint venture with 45 total authors representing all 50 states. On fifty consecutive days beginning November 19, 2015, a romance will be published featuring a mail order bride, one set in each of the fifty states and released in the order the states were admitted to the union. The stories all take place in 1890, when a factory fire in the East burns to the ground, leaving these women unemployed. These women answer mail-order bride ads in the Grooms’ Gazette, and then head out to find their groom.

To see the other books in this series, head over to the American Mail-Order Brides Website.

About the Author

Linda writes historical fiction and sweet western romance books about pioneer women who homesteaded in Kansas between 1854 to the early 1900s, often using her Swedish immigrant ancestors in the storyline.

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