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 - 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………...
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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}

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


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:





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.



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 #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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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Real Doctors in 1878 Colorado

Post (c) Doris McCraw 
writing as Angela Raines

In the novel "Josie's Dream", part of the Grandma's Wedding Quilts Series, I mention Alida Avery and Harriett Leonard. Both were actual doctors, who along with several other women who were medical school graduates, practiced medicine in Colorado prior to 1880.

The Keokuk School of Physicians and Surgeons is also an actual medical school and was the school Harriett Leonard attended. 

Born in New York in 1829 and died in Colorado in 1907 at the age of 79 (?). She was married to John  Leonard and they had seven children, with four surviving to adulthood according to the 1900 census. John died in 1895/6.

Harriet Leonard was the first woman doctor in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Her advertisement appears as early as July of 1878. Her ad read: Mrs. H. A. Leonard M.D. ELECTRICIAN. Special attention given to nervous and chronic diseases. Office in the Mineral Bath House. Manitou. This form of treatment was not that unusual in the 1870’s. You can read more at:
Dr. Leonard later became the proprietor of the Bath house, a rather unusual position for a women. None the less, Harriet was constantly working and learning. There is some indication she may have gone to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, (originally known as Hot Springs) for a time, but no definite proof has been found at this point. It would not be out the question as the town has numerous hot springs. The springs in Manitou are mineral, and not hot springs. It would make sense given her history.
An additional difference between Dr. Leonard and some of the other female physicians, she was an allopath. Many of the other doctors were homoepaths. Dr. Leonard graduated from the Keokuk College for Physicians and Surgeons.
Here is an excerpt from "Josie's Dream"
Will didn’t know who he was, where he came from, despite being told his name was Will Murphy. All he knew was this doctor, a woman at that, was an irritant. Since the Haneys, father and son, had brought him in, she had been ordering him about. He was tired of lying in bed. His head felt better, and the cuts and scrapes were healing nicely. It was time to get up and get going. Blasted woman, doctor or not, he figured he knew what was best for himself.
He was going to get up out of the bed. Now that his decision was made, Will swung his legs out from under the covers, only to gasp as the doctor walked in.
Will quickly covered himself with the sheet, for no woman should see a man in his altogether.
What do you think you’re doing?” The soft voice asked. “And don’t be embarrassed, after all I am a doctor. You have nothing I’ve not seen before,” the voice continued, with a hint of laughter.
That soft voice, so enticing, almost had Will returning to his bed. The doctor’s green eyes were daring him to continue.
Very well, Will thought, I’ll show you. Will continued his journey from the bed. Dropping the sheet, Will moved until his feet touched the floor. With the aid of his arms, Will slowly raised his body up to his feet, precariously balancing on legs that were more feeble that he’d hoped.
Glancing at the doctor, sweat trickling down his nose and cheeks, he braced himself for a scolding, while praying that he could remain upright.
The scolding never came. Instead the doctor, Josie he thought they called her, stood watching him, hands on hips, compressed lips, but with the hint of a smile and admiration in her eyes.

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw.  Doris is an author, speaker, historian-specializing in Colorado and Women's History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 

Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blog Tour Tuesday: HER GENTLE HEART

Today's Blog Tour Tuesday features
Her Gentle Heart
by: Reina Torres
About Her Gentle Heart:

A snowed in train brought her into his life. His stubborn ways put walls between them. When the snows let up, will they go their separate ways or will he warm to Her Gentle Heart?

Hampton Wells has been working hard at one train station after another, biding his time until there’s a job for him to be the one in charge. Trouble is, he’s been hiding an important secret from his friends and his boss. And now, temporarily situated at Sweetwater Springs during a snow storm, his secret is about to be revealed and threaten his job. Or, he could let down his walls and ask for help. But that’s not really the kind of man that he’s been. 

Rosina Valero was a young woman in search of her place in life. She lost her teaching position when the school closed for the winter and boards the train to travel to other towns looking for work. Heavy snowfall holds her up in Sweetwater Springs, but snow's not the only thing that needs to melt when she unwittingly discovers Hampton’s secret. Will he accept her help, before it's too late?

When two people who are falling in love are destined to go in two different directions, can anything bring them back together?

Spend time with Hampton and Rosina, by CLICKING HERE.


The door to the station opened and the engineer stepped in and directly moved to the stove, holding his gloved hands to the rolling heat. “Goodness! It’s cold ‘nough out there to freeze the-”
“Careful, Charlie.” Hampton’s warning was just in time. “We’ve a fine lady in the room.”
At the compliment, the older woman drew herself up to her full height, and was still dwarfed by the men in the room. He could see that in her eyes she towered above them.
“Why yes,” Charlie’s tone held more than a hint of wry humor, “I must’ve been blinded by the snow!” Reaching up, he swept his hat from his head, shedding snow all around him. The flakes seemed to disappear before they could reach the floor, but the flakes in his hair, dusting the red curls at the ends with something that looked like sugar, seemed to cling to him. “I should have removed my hat when I entered,” he looked down and gave her a toothy grin, “but I’m afraid my brain must have been as frozen as my hat, to my head.”
“Well,” she sighed, apparently satisfied at his address, “you apologized and that’s all that needs to be said about the matter.” She looked out the window and saw the drifts around the train, especially the pile of snow that looked to be several feet high in front of the engine’s grate. “How long do you suppose the train will remain here in Sweetwater Springs?”
It was plain to both men that the wheels in her head were indeed turning.
“Hmmm,” Charlie made a great show of pursing his lips and stroking the imaginary whiskers on his chin, “now that is a good question.”
Hampton saw the spark in the other man’s eyes and worried that Charlie’s dry sense of humor would undo the change they managed to affect.
“I’d say at least until morning. My crew needs to clear the snow and go a ways down the track and make sure it’s clear.”
“Fascinating.” She stepped up to Charlie, raising her chin so she could look all the way up into his eyes. “I’d like to speak to your passengers,” she began, “they will want to know we have a store here. They can come in for supplies, blankets, we even have some books that some folks might want for the journey.”
Hampton looked up and found a woman standing in the doorway. She was struggling to close the door against the heavy hand of the winter wind. Pulled toward her like a magnet, Hampton moved to skirt his way around the counter, but Charlie stepped up beside her and added his weight, leaving no room for Hampton to fit at her side. Together they shut the door.
“Oh, thank you.” Her warm voice had gone breathless and Hampton found himself wishing that she was looking at him, instead of Charlie’s snapping green eyes and rogue-like smile. “I thought it was going to blow me clear across the room.”
“Yes, we have books.” The stout woman was still standing in the center of the room, now covered in a light dusting of snow that sagged the tips of her feathered bonnet. “And he,” she poked a finger at Charlie, “just said you’ll be here until morning.” Puffing out her rounded bosom she lifted an arm to point out through the back window of the building. “You’ll find us in the brick building across the way. My husband is manning the store at the moment. I’ll be there straightaway after I speak with the other passengers.” She looked from one person to another in the room, and when she was sure that all three of them were focused on her, she moved toward the door and left the room.
“Goodness!” Charlie shook his head and let out a booming laugh. “She moves like a masted ship cutting through the water. I dare say, we should keep clear of her for fear of being plowed under the waves!”
The young woman standing beside the engineer flushed. Her skin was nearly the color of cinnamon, but the flush of her cheeks looked like roses. Hampton came up short at the thought. His hands gripped the counter as if he needed it to stay on his feet.
“So, is it true?” Her voice, again, was a warm touch of sound in his ears. Her eyes were on Charlie’s face and Hampton felt the odd twist of emotion in his middle. “Are we to stay in Sweetwater for the night?”
“It looks like we will, Miss…”
“Valero,” she answered back.
“Miss Valero,” Charlie offered her his hand and when she took it, he looked to the side, his smile deepening as he met Hampton’s dark eyes before returning back to the young woman. “I’m Charlie Conway, the engineer on the train. And as we’re likely staying, I should ask all the passengers, but I’ll start with you, Miss Valero. Will you need anything from your baggage?”
Hampton saw the slight widening of her eyes and knew the question had given her pause.
“Oh,” she turned slightly, her eyes looking down to the floor as she thought through her answer, “no,” she shook her head. “I don’t think I have anything that I would need to retrieve.”
“Won’t you need a blanket to keep warm?”
The words were out of Hampton’s mouth before he could stop himself.
The woman turned toward him and felt as if the stiff winter wind had slipped in somehow, rocking him back on his heels.
She tilted her head slightly to the side and he saw the fine curve of her brows above her eyes, and the soft bow of her lips, flushed with color from the change in temperature. She seemed to look him over as well, but he couldn’t worry about what she saw. He’d look at himself in the foxed piece of metal that served as a mirror in Jack’s back room. Yet even before that, he’d seen his reflection in any number of surfaces. He was under no misconceptions that he was a good looking man. Enough women, especially those of good breeding, had passed him over time and time again. But at the moment, he was looking his fill. As it was likely to be the first and last time he’d ever see Miss Valero. 

About Reina Torres: 
Love - Romance - Books
Aren't they all the same thing?
Oh, I sure hope so! 
I've been reading romance books for what seems like forever. When I was a teen, the days that I wasn't in dance class after school I'd go to the mall to wait for my mom to finish work for the day and my haunt of choice... Waldenbooks. (I think I just showed my age there.)
Whether it was Scottish Lairds, Medieval Knights, Regency Gents, Rough and Tumble Cowboys, or handsome modern Heroes, I loved them all! There was always another hero and heroine to follow through page after page of breathless love!
I really hope that my readers will enjoy some of the same thrills as discover characters to love between the pages of my books.

Follow Reina Torres:

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Smoky Hill Trail

In my studies over the years I have heard of the Oregon-California-Mormon Trail and I have heard of the Santa Fe Trail. I have also heard of the Natchez Trace and the Great King’s Highway along the Atlantic Coastal states. It was not until I started researching for my latest novel, Kizzie’s Kisses that I learned of the Smoky Hill Trail.

The Smoky Hill River which gave the trail its name was called by many names over the years It was well known among the Plains Indian tribes like the Pawnee and Cheyenne. Early French and English explorers originally called the river the Padoucas. It was believed the river came by the name it is known by now either because of the hazy, smoky appearance of the nearby dark shale hills. Also, a large stand of cottonwood trees along the river near what is now the Kansas-Colorado border known as Big Timbers had the appearance of a dark cloud of smoke when seen at a distance. It was to this grove of trees Black Kettle of the Cheyenne brought the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864.
Coronado Heights near Salina, Kansas

Lt. Zebulon Pike of Pike’s Peak fame explored it in his 1806 expedition in which he also discovered the mountain peak that now bears his name. In 1842, 2nd Lt. John C. Fremont with Kit Carson as a guide, traveled along the River on his way back east from his second expedition to map the trail to Oregon by way of South Pass. After losing most of their supplies and records made of the journey due to sudden flooding of the Smoky Hill River, the expedition of twenty-six almost met their end at the hands of hostile Pawnee who resented the intrusion of white men in the region of their buffalo hunting grounds. Only the friendship of the Loup band and their influence on the rest of the Pawnee prevented a massacre.

Pike's Peak, the end of the Smoky Hill Trail

Other plains tribes including the Southern Cheyenne were aggressively protective of the Smoky Hill River and their trail along its banks as it was an important place for hunting buffalo. A herd of buffalo crossing the river could easily drink it dry in a given location. The tribes that depended on the buffalo for so much of their sustenance fought hard to keep out white settlers whose cultivation of the land destroyed the grass needed by the buffalo. Also, their presence lowered the river levels because rain absorbed in the cultivated soil did not drain into the streams and rivers.

Big Timbers Creek Crossing

The Smoky Hill Trail, originally an Indian trail like so many others adopted by those whose ancestors came from Europe, came into prominence in 1859 with the discovery of gold at Pike’s Peak in Colorado, followed shortly by more gold discoveries along Cherry Creek in what is now the Denver area. As gold-seekers sought the fastest route to the gold fields, many risked frequent Indian attacks by taking the Smoky Hill Trail which cut off about 120 miles as compared to traveling the more-established California-Oregon-Mormon Trail along the Platte River. Since most exploration west started at Kansas City or St. Joseph along the Missouri River, traveling the Platte required going north along the Blue River, then cutting back south to Denver on the west end. The Smoky Hill Trail, in spite of its dangers from hostile tribes and its long, waterless stretch west of the headwaters of the Smoky Hill River that came to be known as the Starvation Trail, was a more direct route.

The Smoky Hill Trail began in Atchison, Kansas, about thirteen miles north and west of Kansas City. Because of its excellent wharf, goods traveling not only up the Missouri River, but those traveling down from points north and west were off-loaded and made available for shipping west along the trail.
Cattle Drive crossing the Smoky Hill River

It was along the Smoky Hill River close to where it joined the Saline River (named for its salt content) that the area that became the town of Salina was discovered in 1856 and settled in 1858 with the Smoky Hill Trail passing through it. This area along the Smoky Hill River realized an influx of settlers in 1859, including the fictional family in my latest novel, Kizzie’s Kisses, of my heroine, Kizzie Atwell.

Ranch by Smoky Hill River, 1869 - Photography by Gardener

As gold-seekers moved west, they were soon followed by merchants and freighters eager to provide the basic supplies and luxuries desirable by those who struck it rich—or even found enough gold and other precious metals to eke out an existence requiring food and clothing. My story in Kizzie’s Kisses starts in 1862 when my heroine, Kizzie, is fleeing from an Indian massacre that took place in the spring of that year. In an effort to get help to save her family, she rides east along the Smoky Hill Trail towards Fort Riley. Along the way she runs into my hero, Leander Jones, a guard on an oxen-driven freight train traveling west along the Smoky Hill Trail with Pike’s Peak and Denver as the destination.

It is also along the Smoky Hill River and Smoky Hill Trail that in the next two decades several frontier forts and cattle towns emerged to populate Kansas from east to west, first as the Butterfield Overland Despatch traveled the route to bring passengers and goods to Denver, followed by the railroad that closely followed the trail, the river and the towns (many which had originally been frontier forts) that had been establishes along this trail that connected the length of the state of Kansas.
Butterfield Overland Despatch at Fort Harker, Kansas

Kizzie’s Kisses is Book 2, the first full-size book in the Grandma’s Wedding Quilts series. You may read the full book decription as well as purchase Kizzie’s Kisses by CLICKING HERE.