Thursday, May 28, 2020

Where East meets West ~ The 98th Meridian





Take a look at our map. The line where the green ends and the brown begins is just about on the 98th Meridian West.  And it cuts right about where Fort Worth, Texas is. Where the West Begins.


As pioneers left the east behind, they often described the semi-arid plains as the Great American Desert. (Although it is described as beginning with the 100th Meridian.) The term desert used to mean a treeless area.

The comedic politician, Will Rogers, once reportedly joked - Fort Worth is Where the West begins and Dallas is where the East peters out.  

In 1849, a frontier post was manned by the U S Army named for Maj. Gen Worth. It only had one serious Indian encounter. However, a town was started beside the fort to offer supplies for stores and stagecoach routes.

A treaty with the Indians stated that they were to stay west of a line that was west of Fort Worth. Where the West began.

You can see on the map that the East was green and fertile. The West was wild and unsettled. But fertile land for the imagination and those looking for a new life. 

As the land was opened up and free land offered, wagon trains carried thousands west to a new life crossing the Rocky Mountains and traveling on to California and Oregon. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing where the east and west meet. In the time of American expansion, it was more a line where thousands left the east and traveled west looking for a better life. 

Patricia PacJac Carroll
My last book, Susan is a story of men and women who traveled west on the Oregon Trail.


Susan


A dispute between a mail-order bride and two men over the rights to a dead man's wagon and supplies on a wagon train to Oregon.

Susan has no place to return to.

John sees this as his chance to make a life for himself.

Ed wants to put away his past for a fresh start.

They make a deal with the wagon master that they will all go, but Susan will marry one of the men before they reach Oregon.Follow them on this life-changing journey.

Available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084VV1VWX














Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A FEBRUARY TOMATO by Marisa Masterson

Many men had left to join a volunteer regiment, including the farmers. Boston, Massachusetts could no longer rely on importing food from the South . Can you guess the year or the circumstances?

Probably, the mention of both the South and regiments brought the American Civil War to your mind. In the early 1860s, some food items that the city of Boston enjoyed from the southern part of the country could not be imported. The cold New England winters definitely didn't allow for raising vegetables during the winter. At least, not without a greenhouse.

Greenhouses are not a recent invention. They date back hundreds of years. One, near Boston, became famous as it was owned by Christopher Gore, a former governor of Massachusetts who wrote about his experiments in agriculture as well as changes he made to make the greenhouse more efficient. This was in Waltham, Massachusetts,  not too far from Boston where my novel begins.
Waltham Place, home of Christopher Gore

I used this idea of greenhouses in my latest novel. Beginning in late 1861,  The Massachusetts Bride features a man who left the war and battles behind him. His mother schemes to see him far away from Boston and any temptation to rejoin his regiment so she gives him the farm she's inherited, knowing of his interest in agriculture.

The mother even has the perfect bride for him, a farm girl who wants to leave the city. Thus, because of the focus on agriculture, I was able to work in a marriage of convenience.

Milo rose and stood directly in front of the small woman. “What exactly are you saying, Mother?”
Her smile spoke of strength. She refused to be stopped or intimidated, it told him. “I won’t have you out on North Street with the poor. Or, for that matter, wasting away all winter alone in that empty farm house.”
“She—” They both turned to look at Fiona. The girl seemed to hunch as she sat on the sofa, obviously wanting to disappear. “—will care for you and help you run the farm. It’s what she knows best, not serving as a maid.”



My hero, Milo, transforms two rooms (one on each floor of the house) into a sort of greenhouse with the large south-facing windows. Gore's writings told me how my hero would need to heat the rooms and so I included a large grate placed into the floor with a furnace directly underneath.

Moving over to the grate in the floor, he felt for heat. In the last week, he’d dug an ash pit into the earth foundation of the house. A small furnace hung above it.
After cutting a hole into the floor of the room, he’d installed the grate. Looking up, he studied the grate in the ceiling. Its hole went straight through to the bedroom above, where he also kept plants. More lettuce and radishes, plants that didn’t need quite as warm of temperatures.

Everything he tried here was based on Christopher Gore’s work and writings. The man lived in nearby Waltham. His studies in the use of manure seemed especially important to Milo. He carefully followed the instructions in Gore’s book, mixing cow dung with the dark soil.


And, because my own daughter was wrestling with starting tomatoes from seeds, I made that Milo's focus, too. So, my hero in the book earns money by selling February tomatoes to the people of Boston.


Massachusetts, 1861



All’s fair in love and war.
Hardly! Neither war nor love have been kind to Milo Roberts. He survived a battle no one expected only to have his brother die next to him. Wounded, he lays in a cot and determines to leave war behind, no matter what his abolitionist father says.
Fiona immigrates to the United States after her cousin promises her a job. While on the ship, she worries about the war ramping up in that country. Little does she know danger is much closer than the battlefields.
At the Boston docks, she escapes the trap set for her. When the woman who gave her safety asks Fiona to marry her son, the girl agrees. She longs to live on the farm that will be his when they marry.
If only her husband isn't so tempting.
While the North and the South war, the battle in their farm house involves unfulfilled love and the tormenting nightmares. What can a man do when his beloved wife prefers the cow’s company? With unrest among the Irish and interference from Fiona’s cousin, will his Irish beauty ever love him?

This is a 216 page sweet romance with a historical background.











Friday, May 22, 2020

Setting A Story in My Own “Backyard”


When I started plotting my latest historical novella, A Bride for Cody, I realized that I hadn’t used my home state of California for a long time. One of my critique partners used to own a commercial apple orchard, and she published a book of recipes related to those years and her experiences as a grower. Those two elements came together, and I made my hero an apple grower. I had hoped to use the actual town where my friend’s orchard is located, but the apply industry in that town happened almost two decades later.


So I invented a town called Acorn Valley (because the native Serrano and Cahuilla tribes collected acorns here) but overlaid it in the valley where the real town of Oak Glen is. Evidence of metates (holes in rocks where the native women ground the nuts) exists in nearby streambeds and the foothills of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The year that worked for my Civil War veterans (both characters) was 1869, which was earlier than the real town of Redlands was established. But a settlement called Lugonia did exist around a Spanish land grant that Mormons had occupied for a decade before being called back to Utah, proving the land could be valuable farm land. The area was not well-developed, but a short-line stagecoach service existed.


Once I discovered transportation was in service, I knew I could create a realistic story for that year. My writing time was compressed due to successive deadlines. The factor that helped me create the mail-order bride story between individuals wounded by their experiences in war time was the fact that I have driven those hills of my fake town and valley. Years ago, I visited the town of Oak Glen in apple-picking season and have seen what those apple trees look like. My hope is that if any southern California resident reads my story, that person will see I have accurately depicted the region. Now, as I drive in my county, I'm on the lookout for other likely locations.




Blurb for A Bride for Cody, Proxy Brides series #42:


Veteran Cody Sheffield went from surviving the Civil War ended to spending years building the Transcontinental Railroad. Finally, he finds solace on an uncle’s apple farm in southern California. A change in family circumstances demands he seek a bride.


Nurse Riona Gilbride pitched in to do her part when the war came to her hometown of Harpers Ferry. Years later, she’s still tending others when she realizes the time has come to care for herself, and she answers an ad in a matchmaking newsletter.


Expectations and temperaments clash. Soon, both Cody and Riona wonder if their decision to marry without meeting beforehand is a huge mistake.


FREE in Kindle Unlimited

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Cowboy Sayings - What in Tarnation?


During the 18th and 19th centuries, people came up with all manner of words and phrases that still stick with us today, even if we don't know the exact origin or meaning of them. "Tarnation" is one of those things.

Tarnation is a more polite way of saying "damnation" or hell. It comes from the meaning of the archaic word, "tarnal" which means damned. Additionally, "What in the Sam Hill?" is another of those phrases that we might still use, though people don't know the exact reason why Sam Hill would replace "hell" in this instance, earliest theories suggest that it's a mispronunciation of Samiel, the name of the devil used in an 1825 opera by Carl Maria von Weber.

Either way, these phrases are still heard today, especially among older folk or in the south. They are used as an exclamation of surprise or anger instead of straight out cursing, which was particularly offensive during American western expansion.

Do you ever hear anyone using these phrases? Used it yourself? Let me know in a comment!

On average, P. Creeden releases 2-3 stories each month. Interested in learning more? 
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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

FATIGUE AND FRUSTRATION

Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author
As we make our way through this interesting time of staying at home, I'm sure we deal with the fatigue of all the news and frustration of things going so slowly. I know I am, and I still get to work from home. However, being at home has not translated into more writing. On the plus side, I've been able to indulge my love of hiking while still being safe. (For those who follow my personal Facebook posts, you can see some of the places I have traversed)

I thought a look back at some of the challenges faced by our ancestors might be something to ponder. Of course, there were the outbreaks of cholera, malaria, smallpox, and measles. We've all heard of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and the dustbowl from the early 20th century.

But what about smaller areas that had many challenges that we may have forgotten about? I did some research on Vernon County Missouri during and after the Civil War. This was an area that faced many devastating events in a short time.

Photo property of the author
History tells us Vernon County was ravaged by many incidents prior to and during the Civil War. 
In December 1858 according to the book "Osages, Bushwhacker's, Etc.”, John Brown and his men came down from Kansas entering Vernon County, Missouri, and attacking three farms. The three farms were that of David Cruise, James Lawrence, and Isaac LaRue. The reason for the raid according to Brown was a slave of the late James Lawrence had sought him out in Kansas, telling Brown that slaves were about to be sold in Texas. Using this reason Brown entered Vernon County and attacked the Lawrence farm. Brown or his men also attacked the other farms during this raid. Although Brown and his associates were indicted for grand larceny and murder by the Vernon County Circuit Court, nothing ever came of that indictment.

From the book, " History of Vernon County Missouri": written and compiled from the most authentic official and private sources", by the end of the Civil War, Vernon County, was “fire-blackened, bloodstained and desolate”. The book also said the people of the county would welcome peace on almost any terms. At the time of the signing of the treaty at Appomattox, the whole county had no more than one hundred families living there. “There was neither town or village. At Nevada City, a dozen small, scattered houses, out of repair; at Balltown, or little Osage, a dozen; at Montevallo, none. Riding from Nevada to Balltown, one did not pass a house.”

What did remain in Vernon County was the rich fertile soil. Many of the returning soldiers took solace in that fact. The country also had timber, water, coal, and stone which could be used to rebuild homes, water their crops, and heat their homes.

Photo property of the author
Into this area families came from other parts of the country, the ex-federal soldiers, searching for a place to call home. A place to find work. This same book on the history of the county said, “Between them [the ex-Union soldier] and the ex-Confederates there was neither clash nor collusion. There was instead a mutual alliance for the rebuilding of the country, and a hearty rivalry as to which of the contracting parties should best discharge their duty.”

According to the county's history, 1875 was the year the county was infested with grasshoppers. To quote, 1875 was the "grasshopper year. In May vast swarms of grasshoppers known as Rocky Mountain Locust, made their appearance in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, devastating vast regions of the country, stripping the earth the vegetation and of almost every green thing. In this county, they were indeed such numbers that in many places the ground was covered with them. Entire fields of wheat and young corn and meadows “a burden," and it seemed as if the mentioned Ecclesiastes was at hand.” The locust swooped in and in just a few hours devoured everything in their path. Although the crops were replanted, and it was a good crop year, to someone who was trying to make a new start, it would be a devastating event. 

I confess I'm sure I would have felt like the world was against me. This small area to me is a microcosm of what life might have been like back in the time I write about. It gives me something to ponder as I research and write the stories my mind creates from these true events. I'm thankful I live at a time when even when I can't hug someone, I can 'converse' with them instantaneously via phone, internet, or facetime. 


In my very first novella, my hero served in the Civil War as a child soldier. Here is a brief excerpt:

Sam awoke from a nightmare shaking and covered with sweat. It was the same nightmare he had been having since the war had ended. He had gotten used to them, but this time it was different. Instead of the usual comrades and other drum and fife boys in his group being blown apart by bullets, cannon fire or bayonets, it was his friends, Clara, Paul, Sally. This one terrified him.

Sam buried the young man and started out, following the tracks of the horses that had been in camp. If Sam was correct the murderer had taken the horses and mules. From the looks of it, the man had made quite a haul.

Pushing ahead as quickly as he could, Sam hoped to find the killer before he had the chance to do anything else. At that thought, Sam went cold. He could see Clara's eyes, those gray/green eyes, telling him to hurry. 

Home For His Heart by [Angela Raines]
$.99 on Amazon
Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Western Writers of America,
Colorado Author League,
Women Writing the West
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Monday, May 18, 2020

To See or Not To See




TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE
by Teresa Ives Lilly www.teresalilly.wordpress.com

I remember the day my eye doctor informed me it was time for me to get glasses. I was about forty and not very happy about it. However, once I put them on, and got used to them, it opened up a world I was missing. I was able to see the words in books and on the computer again, without straining my eyes and giving me a head ache.  




However, picking out frames was and continues to be a problem.  No matter what the style, I don’t really like any glass frames on me. With Astigmatism contacts are not a good choice for me, so I’ve made my choices in frames. Each pair of glasses lasts about two years and then I have my eyesight re-evaluated and new frames chosen.



But really, who am I to complain. Think of all the years in history where glasses were not readily available to the general public and especially to women.   It was really only in the 19th century when a variety of glasses came into fashion for women. The frames were metal and the lens shaped into circles or ovals some like the Pinch-nez styles, without temples were worn and these sometimes had a long ribbon or chain on them so they could be hung around a lady’s neck

These oval frames came into vogue after the popular lorgnettes, which were eyeglasses attached to a handle or stick. These were commonly used for reading among upper-class women.  However, its doubtful that a wealthy family would have allowed their daughters to be seen in public with any form of glasses.





In my book, Spectacles of Love,
the concern a woman has over wearing spectacles almost ruins her chances at love.
Charlene Trumbel is a wealthy, 29-year-old, spinster daughter of a wealthy New York family. However, she is appalled at the wasteful lifestyle her family lives. When given a chance to ride on the Orphan Train to get firsthand experience to write an article to induce wealthy families to support the Orphan Train, Charlene jumps at it. However, her poor eyesight, which has caused her to remain a lonely wallflower her whole life, almost stops her from the trip. That is until she meets a young city boy who agrees to come along with her and be her eyes. Along the way, Charlene learns the ins and outs, ups and downs of what it means for the children to be sent west on the orphan train.

Bronson Jacobs, owner of a Kansas brick company is on his way home when he first meets Charlene on the train. He is instantly attracted to her and interested in the concept of the Orphan Train, but he can’t understand why she doesn’t get some spectacles to help her see better. Bronson offers to tag along and watch the proceedings as the children on the Orphan Train are placed with families in several Kansas towns.

When Bronson takes it into his own hands to force Charlene to get a pair of spectacles, will she see his act as one of love?


She may have found a pair of glasses in a case like this in a general store.


Find this book on Amazon Here

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Button Jar

by Shanna Hatfield


Buttons are such a simple thing. One we hardly give a thought to these days (until one pops off unexpectedly!). 

The history of buttons goes back centuries. At first, buttons were ornamental, used almost like jewelry is worn today - purely for decoration.

Dated at 5,000 years old, an ornamental button made from shell and found in Pakistan, is considered to be the oldest button in existence. Early buttons where made from shells, bone, horns, clay, bronze and wood.  Some of the buttons had holes, others shanks, but all were decorative.

Later, buttons were used for more practical duties. In ancient Rome, buttons were used to secure clothes, but they were a far cry from the functional buttons we're accustomed to seeing. 

 It wasn't until the 13th century that proper buttonholes were sewn into clothes. A nod is given to German's for developing the first button and button-hole closure system. Reportedly, returning soldiers brought the idea of buttons back to Europe when they returned from the Crusades.

 New possibilities in fashion arose, allowing for a more form-fitting shape. Buttons were still largely used by the wealthy during this period. In medieval times, buttons equated wealth, both for the maker and the wearer. It was even conceivable one who had gotten into debt could sell a precious button or two to generate funds.

Larger buttons were even used to hide keepsakes or stolen loot in secret chambers. 

Wikimedia Commons, Italy 1700s, buttons and buttonholes.
Those who didn't mingle with the wealthy had buttons, too. These tended to be crudely made, fashioned of materials found at home.

The Industrial Revolution ushered in mass production of buttons. The four-hole button we are all familiar with emerged. This period also saw popularity of brass buttons rise. Following the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria tended to wear black buttons so during the later years of the 19th century, black glass buttons were the most popular of all. 

Designers and fashionistas turned buttons into workhorse rather than a decorative accessory. Mass production and the invention of plastic, made them prevalent in clothing, despite the invention of the zipper. 

When I was a little girl, I used to love digging through the jar of buttons my mom kept near the sewing machine. She made many of my clothes, clothes for my dolls, and clothes for my nieces. 

The jar was filled with buttons she'd saved from clothes that had worn out, as well as odds and ends from various sewing projects. She'd learned to save buttons from my grandmother, who did the same thing - keeping every button because it might one day be useful again. 

I remember stringing buttons on a long piece of crochet thread and thinking I'd made a beautiful necklace. I also remember stringing matching buttons together on a piece of thin copper wire so they'd be easy to find when needed. There were buttons bursting with color. Buttons made of metal. And a few tiny delicate buttons that had once graced baby gowns. Mom would point out a few buttons that were special to her. 

Years went by. I moved out, got married, and started my own button jar. But the buttons in it never held the magical appeal of Mom's buttons. 



We recently lost my mother, but when I was visiting Dad over the weekend I happened upon a large tin filled with buttons. The tin used to belong to my grandmother and it was where she kept her buttons. It appeared Mom had added her buttons to the collection.



I can't tell you how much it means to me to have that tin of buttons. It's a sweet connection to my grandma and Mom, along with some wonderful memories of happy times spent playing with the buttons while listening to the whir of the sewing machine as Mom sewed something and hemmed it with love. 



In my sweet romance, Ilsa, she is a seamstress who defies the conventions of the day and runs her own business.  

One of the most talented seamstresses of her time, Ilsa Thorsen could sell her creations anywhere in the world, but she ends up on her sister’s ranch in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon. Disgusted with the dust, smells, and nearly every aspect of rural life, Ilsa wonders how she’ll survive, particularly with the arrogant Tony Campanelli constantly underfoot.
Enterprising and hardworking, Tony Campanelli embraces life in the small community of Pendleton with his sister and their friends, especially since Ilsa Thorsen moves to town. The uptight seamstress just needs to learn to have some fun and Tony’s convinced he’s the man for the job.
Get your FREE digital copy today!



USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at: