Friday, February 24, 2017

A Short History of Blacksmithing


This metal working art is thought to have originated in the Iron Age in 1,500 B.C.E. in what is now Syria. Earliest methods would have consisted of placing iron into a campfire and using crude tools to work the molten ore into the desired shape. Three elements were needed in close proximity for metal work to be economical: iron, flux (a substance used to promote fusion of metals) and fuel.

Next came what were called bloomeries, which were hive-like structures with a vent on the top and an entry hole on the side to reach the small furnaces inside. Iron was placed in the furnace and heated until it melted. Cooled but still red iron (called blooms) was pulled from the furnace and pounded into rectangular bars of wrought iron. Although not a strong metal, this wrought iron could be formed into desirable shapes and used in everyday life.



Three thousand years passed before the craftsmen understood enough about the magnetic properties of ore, the changes brought about by the use of charcoal or coke, and the variations in amount of oxygen used to improve the type of metal produced. In some times and regions, the blacksmith was held in high regard for his ability to make his own tools and manufacture items from globs of stone. He also made tools for others to use in their trades. At others, he was reviled as practicing the dark arts.

Socially, the blacksmith became the local handyman because he was often called upon to create or fix a wide variety of items made from metal. Wheels needed rims, horses needed shoes, wives needed cook pots, soldiers needed axes, swords and knives, farmers needed hoes and plows, fishermen needed hooks and gaffs, bakers needed pans, etc. Over time, some blacksmiths specialized in only one type of metal implement and thus earned titles such as blades smith or armour.

In addition to the everyday work, blacksmiths were engineers who always looked for combinations of metals and methods to produce a harder metal. Each exploration group from Leif Ericsson to Christopher Columbus would have included a blacksmith to keep the metal items in repair as well as search for new sources of ore to mine. Two dates important to note that aided in the decline of blacksmithing are 1793, Eli Whitney’s patent on the cotton gin, and 1838, patent by John Deere on the plow made of steel. Advances in mass production of metal parts and the reliance on machines, rather than horses, are signs of the progress of the Industrial Revolution, and only out-of-the-way places still turned to the blacksmith for solutions.


One of my recent releases, Sparked by Fire, features a blacksmith hero and a boarding house cook heroine.

Tagline: Can a wounded soul find solace in the attentions from a cook who nurtures through her culinary creations?

Amazon buy link

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cougars

Cougars - as in the animal and not older mail order brides intent on finding a younger man.  : )

I've always loved animals and like to incorporate them into my stories. 

In fact, in my newest book, Zebulon's Bride, a cougar plays a part in the story. 

One thing I find interesting, is the number of names they are called. Mountain lion, cougar, panther, puma, mountain screamer, and the more interesting painter and catamount.

Painter comes from the Old French peintour. 
Catamount - cat of the mountains.


When I think of what the pioneers and early settlers endured, the wildlife was an integral part of their life. While deer and the like were for food, it was also important not to end up as prey to the large predators.


Even today, as the boundaries between wild and civilization blur, humans need to watch for the big cats.

Hope you enjoyed this short post on the cougar. 
Have a blessed and safe day. And the next time you go out at night, listen and imagine what it would be like to hear the terrifying scream of the mountain lion and wonder if he was watching you.
~~~
Patricia PacJac Carroll is the author of sweet historical western romance and sweet contemporary romance. 
For a list of her > books on Amazon 
Web site………... pacjaccarroll.com
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Postage and Mailing Instruments - later 1800's



Aloha all! This is my first post on Sweet Americana Sweethearts! Thanks for having me!! I think I'm going to 'name' my Wednesday column... but I'm not sure 'what' to name it. Western Women - Women of the West - Wild West Women? Hmmm I'll have to think about it.  If you have an idea, or a favorite option from my list, please comment here on this post or message me at reinatorresauthor{at}gmail.com


Now for today's column - 

I'm a bit of a Civil War buff... and strangely enough I have some friends with similar or complimentary interests. So I'm going to share with you some information about American postage and mail in the Civil War era of American History (1860s and forward)

When setting a story in a period of history other than our own, there are so many things to consider. Everything has a history of its own. Not all of it will end up in the story, but research of any kind can helpd to make the setting feel real to the writer and hopefully the reader.

Something as simple as the stamp on an envelope had a detailed history of its own.
My friend, Gannon, is a philatelist of the highest order and someone I've known since kindergarten. And this information comes from his research. I am truly grateful to have such an amazing friend.
“So this cover is an “adversity” cover. Commercially made envelopes were available in the South prior to 1861, but they became less available as the war progressed for a variety of reasons. People would make envelopes out of whatever they had on hand. Letters sent in envelopes hand made from sheet music, wallpaper, or (as in this case) old ledger paper. Sometimes, people would also “turn” the envelope by steaming open all the sealed edges and resealing them so that the original stamp and address were now on the inside of the envelope. That particular practice is not limited to wartime. Poorer people did this throughout the 19th century and sometimes even today.
“The stamps on this letter are referred to by collectors in the United States as “CSA Scott #7” (The Confederacy printed 14 stamps, of which 13 were actually issued.) This printing plate for this stamp was created in England by Thomas de la Rue & Co., which is still in operation as a security printer. They filled the order for however many stamps they were contracted to print, and then sent the stamps and the copper printing plates to the Confederacy. The stamps printed in England are referred to as “CSA Scott #6” (England) as are a different shade from #7 (CSA).
“About half of the English printed stamps and half of the printing plates were seized by Union forces as they tried to run the blockage. The other half got through. The Confederacy then used the plates to print new stamps until the plates wore out.
“This letter was sent from Richmond, VA, to Cheraw SC on January 11, 1863. Cheraw is a pretty small town, which had less than 1000 people in the 19th century. I am researching the addressee. It may be the sender was someone in her family who was at the Battle of Fredericksburg, but I am not sure.”

The second cover –
“This one has CSA #11 on it, the stamp most commonly seen on CSA mail. It was issued in 1863. Not sure what information I can get from it with an unclear postmark. I think it was sent from Fayetteville, GA to Augusta GA. It could also have been sent from Milledgeville. Either way, the letter is postmarked June 11. It is likely to have been mailed in 1864, because of the way the postmark is worn down. June 11 1863 is a possibility, but June 11 1865 would have been after the war.”
Another Interesting Fact –“When you get an unused stamp from the CSA–other than the English printed ones–the gum on the back is really uneven. They were manually applying it with a paintbrush. Neat detail!”
Thanks for taking the time to read this post -

Reina Torres - Big Hearted Small Town Romance
www.reinatorres.net
www.twitter.com/rtorresauthor
www.facebook.com/ReinaTorresRomance/

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Blog Tour Tuesday: GUNSMOKE AND GINGHAM



















Today's Blog Tour Tuesday features the book collection: 
Gunsmoke and Gingham
by five favorite western romance authors
 



About Gunsmoke and Gingham:

**Five never-before-seen novellas from five of your favorite bestselling authors!**

MAIL-ORDER MEMORIES by KIRSTEN OSBOURNE: Mary Brown is forced to start over in Beckham, Massachusetts, when the love of her life is killed out West. She has no desire to be in the town where they grew up together and memories of him will flood through her at every turn. After five years as a cook, her employer suggests she become a mail order bride to a man who has no desire to find love…only a life partner. Unsure if she’s making a mistake, she sends a letter in reply to the ad, unsure if she’ll be able to handle marriage to a stranger after expecting a life of love.

William Jones has always known he’d marry his love, but when her father insists he goes West to make his fortune before they can marry, he reluctantly agrees. After all, he wants his love to get everything she ever wants in life. When he finds out Mary has died after a tragic illness, he gets his farm ready, but he can’t go through his entire life without love. He sends for a mail order bride, getting the biggest shock of his life. Will he ever be able to trust his bride? Or will he spend the rest of his life regretting his decision to marry?

THE ECHO OF MUSIC by AMELIA C. ADAMS: When acclaimed opera singer Orinda Lou Britt loses her voice, she leaves the stage and her home in Chicago to live in Topeka, where no one knows her and she can start over again. Along with her, she brings her cherished heirloom piano, a gift from her grandmother.

Nathan Perry travels the country tuning pianos in every town, and there is no one Orinda Lou trusts more. But when it comes time for her piano to be repaired, Nathan seems nowhere to be found, and when he does finally arrive, the reason for his absence may drive them apart forever.

TETON SEASON OF PROMISE by PEGGY L. HENDERSON: Olivia Barkley knows how to take care of herself. Growing up in an orphanage, she’s learned that good things don’t come easily and certainly don’t last forever. While escaping the unwanted advances of her employer, her path crosses with a man who made a promise he didn't keep.

Caleb Walker has lived a life of freedom among the spectacular Tetons, surrounded by the love of his family and friends. Unexplained restlessness prompts him to leave his beloved mountains in search of answers. When he joins an expedition into the wilderness, he is shocked to come face to face with a woman from his long-forgotten past.

Caleb and Livy must find a way to come to terms with their unexpected meeting. If they can move beyond the guilt and misunderstandings of the past, they might discover that they were meant to be together all along.

THE GUNSMITH’S BRIDE by KRISTIN HOLT: Morgan Hudson can’t begrudge his widowed father a second chance at happiness. So when Dad’s mail-order bride arrives in Mountain Home with a beautiful daughter, Morgan’s life flips upside down. The lovesick fifty-year-olds need a chaperone, and Morgan can’t remember to treat Lizzy like a sister. Will their emergent love survive their parents’ romance, threats from the past, and a law forbidding kissing on the streets of Mountain Home?

HANNAH’S HERO by MARGERY SCOTT: US Marshal Kirby Matheson is on his way to testify at the trial of an outlaw when he comes across Hannah on the trail, unconscious and hurt. He feels a connection to her unlike any he’s never felt with another woman. He’s sure she feels the same, so why is she so frosty toward him? And why is he suddenly thinking about giving up the one thing he’s always valued – his freedom?

When Hannah Wilde is rescued by a handsome stranger after being thrown from her horse during a storm, she finds herself growing to like him, much to her dismay. He’s exactly the kind of man she’s sworn never to get involved with – a lawman!

However, when danger follows Kirby, Hannah realizes she could lose him forever. Or is it already too late?

You may purchase the book by CLICKING HERE.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Could You Live in the Old West?


I’ve been very busy writing - so today, my post will be short and won’t have much in the way of fun facts or research.  But, it’s something I think will be fun, and I’d love if you could comment below and let me know your thoughts!

The newest series I’m writing, along with 3 other authors, is a western time travel series.  The concept is that of 2 women - one in the past, and one now - who are connected in some way, and find themselves responsible for sending people to the times where their true heart match lives.

It has been so much fun, and it’s really made me have to do some thinking!



We hear about the things from history, the stories and the way the people lived - but can you imagine it you were suddenly thrown back in time, how you would truly be able to cope and understand it all?  Or, imagine you were sitting outside one day and a pioneer from the 1800’s popped up beside you…how would you explain everything to them?

I’ve always said how I would love to have lived back then, in a time where family was most important, Sunday’s were spent with family, money was important only to survive, and not so much about having the biggest and the best of everything.

But, then I think of the things I’d miss.  I don’t know if I could handle traveling to town in a wagon when the weather is -30 Celsius.  And, not being able to order a pizza when I don’t feel like cooking.  Not to mention - wearing dresses all the time, and the huge amounts of undergarments, even in the heat of summer.



Of course, the whole medical issues would be a concern too!  I am grateful to be living in a time that medicine has grown tremendously from back then.

But - can you imagine someone coming to this time?  Where would you even begin to explain life to them?

Cars, airplanes, debit cards, credit cards, clothing choices, all of the material “stuff” that everyone needs to have, take-out food…it would be unbelievable to them.

So, what do you think?  Could you go back in time and live, if the person you loved was there?  Or, would the sacrifices of your lifestyle here be too much?  I'd love to here your thoughts below!

For me, I think I could do it - on one condition.  My whole family would have to come with me :)

*****

Kay P. Dawson is the author of western romance, and her current release is a sweet western time travel.  (Most of the story takes place in the old west, where the hero has to decide if the love he has found is worth staying for.)

You can find her at:

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/kaypdawsonauthor/

FAN GROUP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kaypdawsonfans/

AMAZON:  amazon.com/author/kaypdawson

BOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kay-p-dawson

Friday, February 17, 2017

5 Little Known Facts About the Wagon Trains Along The Oregon Trail


As a child, I was fascinated by stories of Indians, wagon trains, cowgirls and cowboys— and although I'm fairly certain I've never admitted this to anyone before I used to daydream about living on a ranch in the Wild West back in the days when life was more simple. Mind you, this was likely inspired by the fact that I loved horses and as a teenager could not imagine anything more wonderful than spending all day, every day riding horses! But I digress...

As authors, we often spend copious hours researching topics and period details before we put our first word down on paper. This was the case with a recent book that I wrote for a collaboration with two author friends, one of whom is part of our own Sweet Americana Sweethearts group, Annie Boone!

The particular story, Emma's Epiphany, required research on wagon trains, and I found myself more than a little surprised by some of the facts uncovered during the research phase of this book.

Photo taken in 2016, Oregon Trail
Fact #1: Did you know that pioneer wheel ruts from the original wagons can still be seen in various places throughout the Oregon Trail?  They can!  In fact, they can be seen in all six states that once encompassed the trail. This came as a complete surprise to me. In fact, if you have visited the trail, or were aware of this fact, please let us know in the comments below.

Fact #2: The Oregon Trail wasn't a single set path that every wagon followed, for several reasons. In some cases the emigrants realized food and game would be more scarce if everyone followed one another, so they often spread out over several hundred miles for this very reason. As time progressed, people began to spread the word about new routes and ways the wagon trains could save time by using a certain cut offs, etc., yet enough traveled the same paths that we still have the ruts from the wagon trains heading west in the mid-1800's.


Fact #3:  The large conestoga wagon was not the typical wagon used by most people heading west because it was too large and unwieldy to be manageable across the rough and challenging trail; rather, most people used a wagon known as the prairie schooner, so-named because the canvas covers resembled the "sail" of a ship.


Fact #4: Most deaths along the trail were caused by illness, not by attacks by Indians, as was often depicted in Hollywood Westerns and dramatizations.  The wagons typically formed a circle at night largely to keep the animals from wandering off, and many Native American Indians served as trading partners and guides at various points along the trail.  After the beginning of the Civil War, there were more attacks than there had been, but overall historians estimate that only 400 deaths out of over 20,000 were caused by conflicts with Indians.


Fact #5: Although the first major wagon train took place in 1843, it wasn't until 1849 that an actual guide was published that fully described the journey over land to California. Truthfully, I hadn't given the fact that a "map" didn't exist for several years after the wagon trains began much consideration prior to my research, and it was a big surprising that it took five years for it to happen. Yet in defense, it took an average of five months for people to make the trek along the trail, and as you can imagine, the first few trips likely took much longer than that. They were true pioneers!

Researching these facts took a little bit of the "romance" out of the way I had always imagined the wagon trains traveled back in those days, and what that may have looked like, yet in all honesty, those Hollywood Westerns and images are indelible on my mind. At the end of the day, a visual image can often be more powerful than an imagined one.

I hope you enjoyed these facts about the Oregon Trail and the wagon trains that paved the way for settlers in the west.

Warmly,
Kate

*****

Kate Cambridge is a bestselling Amazon author, wife, and mother who writes sweet historical and sweet contemporary romance with happily ever after or happy for now endings. She is a hopeless romantic, strong supporter of women's rights, and loves to write stories that inspire, characters who seem real long after "the end", and always with a thread of faith, hope and love.

Connect with Kate on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or on her website at KateCambridge.com


#KateCambridge #historicalwesternromance #suffragettes #suffragetteseries #sweetromance



Thursday, February 16, 2017

Town life in the 1880s


First, I'd like to say Hello! I'm new to Sweet Americana Sweethearts and I'm happy to be here. I write Christian romance stories based in the American West.

Last summer, my family and I visited the Black Hills of South Dakota. We roamed all over looking for history and fun. One of the places we visited that I absolutely loved was the 1880s town just off I90 outside of Murdo.

The site is huge and as soon as you walk through the door, the only thing that will remind you that you aren't back in time is the gift shop. As soon as you exit the barn it feels like you've stepped through time.


Each little section is set up so that you can either walk through or look through windows to see real dwellings and businesses from that period. I was fascinated with every single bit of it and I took over 100 photos there, just for research.

One of my favorite places was the doctor's office. We tend to think of doctoring as terribly archaic in the late 1800's, but you would easily recognize this as the room where a patient might recuperate. At this time, physicians were often also dentists.

Another area that I found particularly interesting was the mercantile. I'd only ever really seen a mercantile in television shows. Luckily, it seems like they did a fairly good job, but seeing one in real life, with the bottles, fabrics, threads, shoes, etc made it much more real.


We spent about two hours looking through all the old buildings and letting the kids run around. If you love history and are as fascinated by a life of yesteryear as I am, I highly recommend a stop at 1880s town where you can get a real feel for that time.

Thank you for having me!

Kari Trumbo is an inspirational romance author, blogger and proud home schooling mother to four great kids. She interacts often on reader groups on Facebook and volunteers at the local library when needed. When she isn’t writing, she is obsessively reading and expanding her skills as a wordsmith. Kari lives in her great-grandfather’s remodeled 1890-built home in central Minnesota with her husband, children, cats, and one hungry wood stove. 


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