Thursday, July 28, 2016

What did people drink in the 1800s?

Welcome, come on in and sit by the shady oak and have a glass if iced tea.               

So, what did people drink in the 1800s?

Water: But it wasn't always the healthiest. Cholera and typhoid were a danger and many people died from unhealthy water sources. This was a particular problem on the wagon trains headed west where water was scarce.

In the 1840s and 1850s, many of the largest USA cities piped in water from rivers or lakes but it still wasn't treated. Water from springs or wells had a better chance of being safe.

Milk: Before pasteurization, drinking milk was risky unless you owned the cow. Even then, you needed to make sure the cows didn't eat white snakeroot or it could be deadly. This was a real problem in the Ohio valley where the plant grew. It's most notable victim was Abraham Lincoln's mother in 1818. A frontier woman ~ Dr. Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby, learned from a Shawnee woman that the plant was poisonous.
Canned evaporated milk came into production in 1884.

Coffee and Tea: Staples for early Americans thanks to the Dutch and British. The percolator was invented in 1865. So at least, with drinking hot tea and coffee - the water was heated.
Chicory was often used as a coffee substitute. And of course, herbal teas such as dandelion tea. And if you were ailing - a healthy dose of beef tea which was more a broth and was supposed to strengthen the weak and ailing.

Iced tea didn't come about until later in the 1860s and 1870s where it made it's first appearance in cookbooks. It caught on and was served in hotels and railroad stations. It was introduced during the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis and the popularity increased dramatically.

Lemonade was a favorite.

And of course, the saloon staples - whiskey, rye, even champagne. Warm beer. And Sarsaparilla - which in the USA was made from birch oil and sassafras.

Interestingly enough, sodas made it on the scene earlier than I thought. "Soft" drinks were named because they weren't hard liquor.

Dr Pepper was invented in Waco Texas in 1885

and Coca Cola in Atlanta in 1886.

AS the heat of summer pours over you, sit back and enjoy a refreshing drink and think back to the struggles that early Americans had to just get something safe to drink.

Thanks for dropping by, enjoy that tea and keep cool.
You can find more about me and my books on my website.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Blog Tour Tuesday: ELLA’S EMBRACE by Kay P. Dawson

This week’s Blog Tour Tuesday features
Ella’s Embrace
By Kay P. Dawson

About the Book:

A woman determined to make it on her own, and a man who’s afraid of repeating the mistakes of his father…forced together by a situation beyond their control.

Ella has always been determined and headstrong, vowing only to marry for love.  At her age, it seems like her chances of that happening have slipped away.  When she is left the title to half of a neighboring farm, she sees the opportunity to have her independence, and not become a burden to her family.

The only problem is that there are stipulations, one being the fact that she has to work alongside the man who’s been left the other half of that farm.  Titus Cain has his own demons to face, and taking over a farm in Oregon with a woman isn’t in his plans. 
To make matters worse, someone else has their eye on the land, and they’ve already proven they’re willing to kill whoever gets in their way to get it.

What will happen when two people are forced to join together to save a farm, and risk their lives to find who killed someone they loved?  Can a young woman live on a farm with a man who isn’t her husband, without ruining her reputation, even if it is for all the right reasons?

Ella & Titus must fight together against the circumstances trying to tear them apart.

**Ella's Embrace is the 3rd book in the Oregon Sky Series, which follows the lives of the Wallace family in the Willamette Vally of Oregon.


“Well, now what are we going to do?”

“We aren’t going to do anything.  I’m going out there, setting out the tables and we’re all going to act like nothing happened...because it didn’t.”  She turned to face Titus.  “I’m sorry you had to get dragged into this, and all because my brother is a fool who shouts first and listens later.”

Titus looked up to the ceiling and she could see him swallow before he looked back down and met her eyes.  

“Ella, it doesn’t matter what your brother did.  The fact is, people are going to be thinking the worst no matter what.  Not many people will be interested in hearing the truth.”

She could feel herself shaking, and she wasn’t sure if it was from anger or fear of what would happen when she walked outside. But, she needed a moment to get herself together.
He pushed himself away from the wall, and did up the shirt that he’d never had the chance to fasten the night before.  He grabbed his hat, and met Colton’s glare.  “You’re free to think what you want, but I’d hope by now you’d know the kind of man I am.”  Then he turned to face Ella.

“I’ll go out and try to smooth things over before you have to come out.”  

She felt terrible knowing he was throwing himself outside to face everyone’s disapproval, knowing they likely wouldn’t give him any chance to explain.

Colton followed him to the door.  “I’ll go with you.”  She knew her brother may have a temper and not always think things through before losing it, but she knew he’d have Titus’s back while facing the others.

“Come on Ella, let’s get you ready then start getting the lunch ready for the men.”  Phoebe came over and took her arm, offering her a smile and a squeeze on her arm. Ella watched as Titus and Colton went outside, with Wally right on their heels. 

Thanks to her, Titus was going outside to defend her reputation to those who’d most likely already made up their minds.  She knew there were some who knew her better, and who knew she wouldn’t have done anything.

But, those weren’t the ones she worried about.  It was the rest of the people who she knew would likely cause even more problems for her and Titus to face.

She wasn’t sure how much more they could take.

About the Author:

Kay P. Dawson is the mom of two girls, living in southern Canada.  She has always loved pioneer stories, growing up reading, watching and playing "Little House on the Prairie."

Writing western romance in the old west is a dream come true for her.  After a breast cancer diagnosis in 2011, she decided it was time to write the books she'd always wanted to write some day.  She writes about times when times were tough, but lives were simpler.

Real heroes, and the women who find true love.  She writes sweet romance - all of the love, without the juicy details.

Find Kay P. Dawson…

Kay also has a fun FB group just for fans - you have to request to join, so send your request to

Join us for some fun discussions, great contests and special offers just for fans of Kay P. Dawson.

**Get a free book by signing up for the mailing list at

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

I love watching television shows and movies that remind me of bygone eras. When I'm learning about a new place or time, I immerse myself in whatever I can find about that topic to help me get the flavor. With that, however, comes the caution not to confuse fiction with fact.

Photo courtesy of
A great example of this is Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. As I've written my Nurses of New York series, I wanted to get a feel for medicine in the 1800s, so I watched several episodes back to back. This did help me get the tone I wanted, but I frequently found myself a little bit irritated as the show portrayed things that simply weren't accurate based on information I already had.

1. In the first episode, Dr. Quinn performs some sort of procedure - it's unclear whether it was a c-section or an episiotomy - during a difficult labor. The patient recovers quickly, there's no mention of possible infection or anything they would have done to prevent infection, and we see that woman up and around again shortly. In reality, the risk of infection would have been high, and if the procedure had been a c-section, the odds of her surviving would have been very low. The show was set in 1867, and in 1867, c-sections were hugely risky.

2. In the first couple of episodes, Robert E. and Grace, two African-American characters on the show, are treated just the same as everyone else. Later, the show's writers realized that they'd made a mistake and started adding in some racism and whatnot to make the show more realistic, but that was a huge oversight. The Civil War ended in 1865, just two years previous, and emotions would have been sky high on both sides of the question.

3. In 1867, children were expected to be obedient and respectful. This was simply how they were raised from the cradle. Throughout the series, we see Colleen rolling her eyes and Matthew and Brian doing various different rebellious things, all of which would be common for children today, but back then? Try that one time and you'd be out behind the woodshed with a switch. Writing the children's characters this way is taking modern thoughts and superimposing them on historical characters, and it just doesn't work.

4. Going along with that ... as Dr. Mike and Sully get closer, she confides in Dorothy that she's never been with a man, and Dorothy is shocked. Again, that's putting modern thought into a setting where it doesn't belong. Yes, women and men did sleep together before marriage, but it certainly wasn't as common as it is today, and a woman who did spend time with her beau in that way was considered the dregs of society. A woman of Dr. Mike's social standing would be expected to wait until marriage, and it was odd of Dorothy to be so surprised that she was still a virgin.

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy the show a lot and will continue watching the series. I'm just suggesting that as we watch these shows that are set in historical eras but aren't 100% based on history, we keep in mind that not all the details are going to be accurate, and that we don't create pictures in our minds of how things were just from this information alone. 


Amelia C. Adams is the author of the Kansas Crossroads series, the Nurses of New York series, the Hearts of Nashville series, and a contributor to the American Mail-Order Brides series and Brides of Beckham. She also takes very, very long naps. She believes this is a good idea. You can learn more about her at  Click here to download her first novel free.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

For my latest story, An Unlikely Marriage, I researched the phenomenon known as Buffalo Bill. My heroine, with experience as a vaudevillian, has aspirations of being a part of the production known as “America’s National Entertainment.” The performance went by several names because the shows in the 1870s started out as reenactments for Eastern audiences of what William F. Cody had done in real life on the Western frontier.

William F. Cody had a varied career involving jobs as a civilian Army scout, a Pony Express rider (in actuality, he worked as a messenger for the company that operated the Pony Express), a guide through unmapped territory, and he participated in military skirmishes during the Civil War. After the war, he served as a buffalo hunter for both the Army and the Kansas Pacific Railroad. In 1871, as a gesture to cement US-Russian relations, Grand Duke Alexis, 21-year-old son of Russian Czar, was escorted on a good hunting experience. The five-day excursion included two companies of infantry and two of cavalry and a regiment band. George Armstrong Custer was brought from his assignment in Kentucky, and Cody was released from his Fifth Cavalry duties in Arizona. General Sheridan wanted Indians brought along to demonstrate their dances and songs. Brulé Sioux Spotted Tail, along with 100 of his men, participated.

His real life accomplishments were recounted in newspapers to such an extent that a dime novelist, Ned Buntline (pen name for Edward Zane Carroll Judson), made “Buffalo Bill” the hero of several stories. Then Judson convinced Cody to play himself in stage productions (one was named “The Scouts of the Prairie”) and recreate some of his frontier deeds. Cody would work out West in the fair weather and perform on Eastern stages in the winter months.

Cody excelled in plains showmanship—horse races, buffalo shooting contests, hunting excursions. So he decided he would take control of his own persona, and he staged his first Wild West exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska in 1883. Each year the production was refined—he hired writers to create scripts, artists to paint scenery, and directors to schedule the acts. The company traveled with a wooden set of a painted mountain range. When Cody realized the audience was mostly to males, he wooed sharpshooter Annie Oakley to join in 1885 to make the production more appealing to women. The entire summer of 1886 was spent performing at Erastina Amusement Grounds on Staten Island. Also this is the first year a winter season was contracted, and Cody rented Madison Square Garden so performances happened under a roof. Murals 40’x1500’ were painted to represent prairies, mountains, forest as backdrops to the performances. The orchestra were all dressed as cowboys—provided dramatic background to acts and played other music to bridge between acts.

Cody went on to perform in Europe and then returned to America where his productions ran until 1916. Through it all, his costume remained rough like a frontiersman. His outfit was long buckskin coat with fur collar and cuffs, a line of fur ran above a strip of embroidered design above a fringed hem, fringe hung from the cap of the shoulder and along the back of each arm from shoulder to wrist. Boots were at the knee or, in later years, three inches above the knee. Later coats were mid-thigh with no fur, epaulets on the shoulders, fringe on cap of armhole, and gloves with leather gauntlet cuffs.

Even though Cody through his persona of Buffalo Bill proved himself a master showman, he never allowed ‘show’ to be part of any print advertising. To him, the performances were a retelling of his life.

An Unlikely Marriage releases on July 27th as part of Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle World. Linda Carroll-Bradd is offering a copy to one lucky commenter on this blog. Name to be chosen on July 28.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


post by Angela Raines

Most of us who write historical fiction want to get it correct. We research. We all have our specialities and favorites. Most who know my non-fiction know I write haiku, add my photos and publish them fice days a week. I also spend a huge amount of time researching, writing and speaking about the women medical school graduates who practiced medicine in Colorado between 1870 and 1900. In fact I just finished a paper on the titled " How Doc Susie and Hollywood created misconceptions which grew into the myth of women doctors in nineteenth century Colorado" using the Virginia Cornell Book "Doc Susie" and the television show "Dr. Quinn" as examples of how our perception of history can be influenced by the media. The fiction writing me spends time reading old newspapers, and other publications from and about the time periods I write about. There is one source however that crosses all areas I write about. I'm speaking of the USGS, the United States Geological Survey.

This website has photos from the early days of photography/government surveys to the present day. To spend time on the site is heaven. For example: It was founded in 1879. It's annual budget is around 1.1 billion and is part of the US Department of the Interior.

You can follow the infestation of pine beetles over the years and read the results.

I spend a lot of time in the photographic library. You can access the images here:

Here is one from my home state of Illionis.
Illinoian upland drift plain, four miles south of Mississippi River, nine miles southwest of Milan, Illinois.

Illinoian upland drift plain, four miles south of Mississippi River, nine miles southwest of Milan, Illinois. Slight sag in foreground is the head of a drainage line. Edington Township, T. 16 N., R. 3 W. Rock Island County, Illinois. May 27, 1914.

Here is one of Ute Pass, just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado , taken 1873

Ute Pass, from Colorado Springs to South Park. El Paso County, Colorado. 1873.
Ute Pass, from Colorado Springs to South Park. El Paso County, Colorado. 1873.

Soda Springs, on the Fountain qui Bouille, 3 miles above Colorado City. El Paso County, Colorado. 1870.

Soda Springs, on the Fountain qui Bouille, 3 miles above Colorado City. El Paso County, Colorado. 1870.
Looking north along hogback of Niobrara limestone west of Colorado Springs. Gate to Garden of the Gods in left background.
Looking north along hogback of Niobrara limestone west of Colorado Springs. Gate to Garden of the Gods in left background. El Paso County, Colorado.n.d.

As you can see, there are many historic images available from this wonderful site. Since I write about Colorado, these images allow me to see what the landscape and some buildings looked like. It helps me to put myself in the area my characters are walking and riding.

So the next time you want to see what an area used to look like, give the USGS a try.

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:

Current Publications Available:

"One Hot Knight" Summer Medieval Anthology

"One Christmas Knight" Medieval Anthology

"Angel of Salvation Valley"



Every step you take should be a prayer.
And if every step you take is a prayer then you will always be walking in a sacred manner. 
Oglala Lakota Holyman.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


This week's Blog Tour Tuesday features 
Of Peaks and Prairies – Book 1, Paradise Valley 
by Vivi Holt

Of Peaks and Prairies
Chapter One

Fort Worth, Texas
  Genevieve Waters-Ewing walked from the church with her hand resting lightly on Quincey Ewing’s raised arm. He’d shaved for the first time in months, and she glanced with distaste at a scratch on his cheek where the blade had nicked his weathered skin. Her whole body trembled, and she fought hard to push down the sobs that threatened to escape her aching throat at any moment. He turned to face her with a grin, his ten gallon hat perched unevenly on his square head.
The minister who’d married them was so old and frail, and his hearing so bad, each time she shook her head and shouted ‘no’ during their vows, he simply nodded with a toothless grin and continued on with the ceremony. If she tried to run, Quincey held her close and pinched her arm. In the end she stood her ground, confident that the law would never uphold such a marriage — until, that is, her new husband forged her signature on the certificate of marriage. Now she wasn’t so sure.
She glared at him as her stepfather came up alongside her.
“Congratulations Genny, you’re a married woman now. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?” He chuckled, she caught him winking behind her back at his childhood friend - the man who’d just been pronounced her husband.
“Well, at least it’ll get you out from under my feet,” he continued. “I can’t be payin’ for yer upkeep forever. Your Ma done died on me, leavin’ me with a rug-rat I never wanted, and now it’s time for you to find yer own place in life. Can’t say as I’ll miss ya much, ‘part from the cookin’ an sech of course, but I’ll find a missus to do that soon enough, with you out of the house. ‘Course, you’re not goin’ far — just across the way. I’m sure you could find it in yer heart to help me out a time or two.”
They’d stepped out into the bright Texas morning, and Genevieve squinted her eyes against the sunlight that streamed down through a faint fuzz of thin clouds above. She cast her gaze about - they were on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas, and she could see the plains stretched out before them. The town pushed toward the openness, threatening to civilize its bluffs, rises and hollows. Chaparral tufts littered the landscape, sheltering hare and various rodents, and giving the plains an unkempt look. She smoothed the skirts of her burgundy plaid dress. It was the nicest dress she owned, even so it was well worn, and pulled tightly across her chest and hips where she’d grown in recent years. A long line of small buttons ran up the front of the bodice. The sleeves no longer reached her wrists even when she tugged at them, and her stays pinched her tiny waist. She sighed.

“If Ma knew what you had planned for me, Fred, she’d roll over in her grave.” Genevieve caught a sob, and pushed it back down with a grimace.


Vivi Holt writes inspirational, historical romances with a western flavour. Of her books, readers say:

"The plot kept me enthralled and the pages turning"
"I cried and laughed"
"What an awesome ending. Can't wait for more!!"

Vivi lives in beautiful Brisbane, Australia with her husband and three young children. Growing up on a farm she learned to love the country life and now she writes about it in her books. History has always fascinated her as well, so writing historical romance seemed a natural progression. She loves horse-riding, hiking, and reading.

Her goal is to write touching, emotional and sweet romance stories that captivate the reader and transport them back in time.

Follow Vivi Holt:


1.      Tell us about your heroine.  Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.

The heroine in my latest release, Of Peaks and Prairies, is Genevieve Waters. She’s had a difficult life, and hasn’t had much love. So, she finds it hard to trust anyone, and also finds intimacy a little confronting and uncomfortable. The story takes her on a journey from that place of brokenness and loneliness, to a place where she is able to finally embrace intimacy and friendship, in an open and honest way. It’s very satisfying.

2.    Do you write under a pen name?   Why or why not?

I do actually write under a pen name. The reason is that I write children’s books under my real name, Bron Whitley, and didn’t want to confuse readers. I’ve also tried out a couple of other genres, so I wanted to be able to do that without diluting my brand. It’s funny because I chose the name Vivi Holt simply because it is a short name that fits well on a book cover, and it didn’t seem as though anyone else was writing under the name. I had no idea my books would be so well received. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

3.    Tell us about your new book

Of Peaks and Prairies is the first book in a new series, Paradise Valley. It’s going to be a series of sweet, historical romances. The setting will be Paradise Ranch, in Paradise Valley, Montana Territory. This book follows a young woman, Genevieve, and her journey to wholeness after a childhood of brokenness. She leaves Fort Worth Texas, running from her troubled past, and hitch-hikes on a cattle drive, north to Montana. The story is full of drama, romance and suspense. It also follows the journey of Sarah Songan and Bill Hanover from the second Cutter’s Creek book – after their wedding. So that’s been fun as well. To find out when the next book comes out, sign up for my new release newsletter. Here’s the link for the newsletter sign up.

4.    What inspired your latest book?

Of Peaks and Prairies is actually inspired by a true story – that of Nelson Story. He was a man who lived at that time and was the first to take a large number of longhorn cattle from Fort Worth, Texas up to Montana Territory after striking gold. So, the hero in my book, Tom, is based on him, and a lot of the drama and adventures they go through are quite similar to what Nelson faced. Of course, my book is fictional, so it’s not entirely historically accurate, but there is some factual basis to the story.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cowboys & Cattle Drives

We are romance writers, who write our stories based in the Old West.  Naturally, the rugged and handsome cowboy is often the hero of our stories.

Many of these cowboys we base our stories on would have worked a cattle drive in real life, which in truth could be far from the exciting and romantic portrayal in our books.  There are many articles that give the details of where the cattle drives went - up the Chisholm Trail, or the Great Western Trail - usually starting in Texas and ending up in places like Dodge City, Kansas.

But, what happened while they were on the trail?  What would it be like for the cowboys driving the cattle across the prairies?

The Cattle Drive

By Geo B Bonnell (Heritage Auctions) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The herds they were driving could be anywhere from 1000 - 3500 head of cattle, and up.  These drives would need at least 18 cowboys, a cook driving the chuck wagon, and a horse wrangler who could look after the remuda.

The remuda was the herd of horses that would be brought along for the cowboys to switch out and use.  Since the trail was long and tiring for the horses, they could take turns giving horses a rest.

And of course, there was a trail boss.  The trail boss was the one who made the rules, and the cowboys working the drive were expected to follow.  Sometimes the trail boss would be the rancher themselves, but more likely they would be hired to control the drive for the rancher.

The cowboys were placed with what were called “swing riders” who would be about a third of the way back to the sides of the herd.  They followed the point cowboys who would be leading the lead steer.  Flank riders were nearer to the back, about two thirds of the way back of the herd.

And, the least desirable position was the tail riders.  Their job was to keep the slower and weaker cattle moving.  These cowboys had to endure the dust and smell that would be following the herd.

In order to try and avoid stampedes, which could be dangerous for both cattle and cowboys, the cam - lightening, a dropped pot on the stove, even something as small as a branch snapping under someone’s feet.

The cowboy’s pockets were normally empty until they reached their destination and they could be paid.  Businesses boomed in the towns where the drives ended and the cowboys could finally let off some steam with their new found wages.

A True Cowboy

John C. H. Grabill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The life of a cowboy could be lonely, and often they drifted from one job to another.  But, learning about the work they would do on a long cattle drive has made me realized that these men deserve the rugged, heroic images we give them in our books.

They were hard working men who helped to grow a nation.


Kay P. Dawson’s first mail order bride series, Wilder West, is available on Amazon.  Her new series, Oregon Sky, features the Wallace family who have settled in the Willamette Valley.  The first two books in the series, "Phoebe's Promise" and "Audrey's Awakening" are now available on Amazon - with "Ella's Embrace" scheduled for release soon!

Find Kay P. Dawson…

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