Thursday, August 11, 2022

DeMoss Family Singers


For more than sixty years, The DeMoss Family Lyric Bards entertained people throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe with their musical talents. 

The legacy of this family started with James M DeMoss. He was born in 1837 and raised in Iowa by devout Christian parents. His mother taught vocal music lessons, so he learned at a young age to sing and was part of a quartet. He joined the United Brethren Church and began teaching music at the age of sixteen. In college, he studied music and religion, and a few years later began to preach.

He wed Elizabeth A. Bonebrake in 1858. She was a talented singer and musician, and the daughter of a preacher. 

In 1862, they ventured west to Oregon, stopping at North Powder where he built a hotel and installed a toll bridge over the Powder River while continuing his preaching and missionary work. 

The DeMoss family left North Powder and moved to Cove, Oregon, where he established a toll bridge across the Grande Ronde River. He also erected the first sawmill in the valley. James and Elizabeth began teaching music in the regions of Walla Walla, Umatilla, Cove, and the Grande Ronde. 

By the 1870s, the couple had five children and all five of them were touted as musical prodigies. Henry, George, Minnie, Lizzie, and May helped build their parents reputation as exceptional performers.

In 1872, they headed back to Iowa, giving concerts along the way. It was reported that Elizabeth's singing was so favored, people often tossed money on the platform when she sang a solo. 

The family spent the next ten years in the Midwest where the children were educated and they traveled around giving concerts. 

Reportedly, the family played forty-one instruments in a variety of arrangements and wrote many of their own songs. Henry was able to play "Old Hundred" on the organ with one hand and "Yankee Doodle" with the other while singing "Home, Sweet Home." George was reported to hold the unique talent of playing two coronets at once: one a tenor and the other a soprano.

The family traveled by railroad, stage, and team bringing their entertainment to scattered settlements and cities from Mexico to the Northwest Territory. 

In 1882, they were in San Francisco when Henry began to fiercely long for Oregon. Homesick, he composed the famous song, "Sweet Oregon" which was the state's unofficial song until 1927 when it formally adopted "Oregon, My Oregon." But at the close of each family show, they would perform "Sweet Oregon." 

In 1883, the family staked a homestead in Sherman County and purchased 800 acres. (If you've read my Grass Valley stories, it is located in Sherman County.) The site became known as DeMoss Springs, a temperance town where no liquor was allowed. The town was never incorporated, but it did become a park that is known as DeMoss Springs today.

May died of malaria while in California in 1886, and Elizabeth passed away later that year. 

In 1887, the family added "Lyric Bards" to their name due to their ability to compose both words and music. After their father remarried and focused more in missionary work, the four remaining siblings continued to perform together.

The family was commissioned by World's Fair organizers to write state songs for the World Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Minnie died quite suddenly in 1897, leaving a whole in the group that was hard to fill. Minnie had been a poet, composter, vocalist, and instrumentalist. The family eventually invited Aurelia Davis and her brother P. Waldo Davis to join them. That same year, the DeMoss Family Lyric Bards purchased the Hank Monk stage coach, known for transporting many dignitaries in its day. It was used for many years by them to travel to performances. 

P. Waldo Davis married Lizzie. Their union produced Herschel, who performed on the stage and was affectionately known as "Director of the Band." George married Aurelia. Their son Elbert was also musically inclined and began performing at the age of two. 

The last original member of the DeMoss Lyric Bards, Lizzie DeMoss Davis, died in 1941.

As for the DeMoss home site, DeMoss Springs Memorial Park is a 2.5 acre park in Sherman County. It has provided access to natural springs and hosted recreational activities for more than 100 years. The grounds include a playground, a bandstand built in 1924, and picnic amenities. 

The DeMoss family donated the park to Sherman County in 1921, with the prohibition against alcohol written into the deed. DeMoss Springs (the town) was abandoned during the twentieth century, and there are no visible remains. The DeMoss Springs Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Descendants of the family still live in the area.

Hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield received a rural foundation on a farm her family wrested out of the Eastern Oregon desert, uprooting sagebrush, rock, and the random juniper tree. She spent her growing up years there, where her dad raised hay, wheat, corn, and cattle. Her childhood brimmed with sunshine, hay fever, and an ongoing supply of learning experiences. When she wasn’t running amok on the farm, her parents did their best to give her a strong foundation in faith.

Today, Shanna draws on her rural roots to create sweet and wholesome historical and contemporary romances filled with hope, humor, quirky small-town characters, realistic heroes, and women of strength.

When this award-winning author isn’t writing, testing out new recipes (she loves to bake!), or crafting with her hot glue gun, Shanna hangs out at home in the Pacific Northwest with her beloved husband, better known as Captain Cavedweller.

Stay in touch with Shanna through her website at

Monday, August 8, 2022

Gardening as a Patriotic Duty by Kimberly Grist

President Woodrow Wilson won his re-election bid with the 1916 slogan, “He kept us out of war.” His belief was that the war in Europe would be a quick one. Knowing that America was considered a "melting pot," made up of people from all the nations involved, Wilson didn’t want to create conflict by taking sides that could create tension, thus tearing the nation apart. As the war continued, the U.S. remained neutral but participated in trade with the allied nations.

Sow The Seeds of Victory

As the war continued, a severe food crisis emerged in Europe, and the burden of feeding millions of starving people fell to the United States. By March of 1917, the National War Garden Commission was organized to encourage Americans to contribute to the war effort by planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and storing their own fruits and vegetables so that more food could be exported to our allies. In addition, citizens were encouraged to use all idle land for agricultural production — including school and company grounds, parks, backyards, and vacant lots.

Germany realized the only way to win the war was to keep the United States from supplying Europe with food and ammunition. They knew that by sinking American ships, they would force the U.S into action. Their gamble was they would win the war before the U.S. could send troops to Europe.

Photograph of the Lusitania, from the Illustrated War News, May 12, 1915

In 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted warfare by sinking seven U.S. ships and tried to recruit Mexico to join against the United States by promising to help them recover former territories. Wilson’s vow of neutrality was made impossible, and on April 2, 1917, he addressed Congress appealing that the United States enter the war as “the world must be made safe for democracy.” Four days later, the United States declared war on Germany.

There Was No Time To Waste

Convincing the American people of their need to support the war effort would not be an easy task. On April 14, 1917, President Wilson established an organization called the Committee on Public Information to promote the decision. The CPI communicated through magazines, newspapers, books, phonographs, movies, music, and, my favorite, posters.

The illustrators used advertising strategies and graphic design to engage and stir up emotions reminding citizens who and what our nation was trying to protect.

Slogans like “Food Will Win the War” appeared in numerous ads and posters aimed at encouraging the American public to do their part in the war effort, advocating that civilians grow “The Fruits of Victory” by planting vegetable gardens. 

President Woodrow Wilson called on citizens to plant vegetable gardens to help ward off the possible threat of food shortages. Americans took up the challenge as a civic and patriotic duty by planting what would become known as Liberty or Victory Gardens.

In addition, the war garden movement was spread by word of mouth through women’s clubs, civic associations, and chambers of commerce. Amateur gardeners were provided with instruction pamphlets on how, when, and where to sow and offered suggestions as to the best crops to plant, along with tips on preventing disease and insect infestations.

The undertaking was so popular that the government expanded its efforts to include distributing canning and drying manuals to help people preserve their surplus crops. As a result of these combined efforts, it was estimated that 3 million new garden plots were planted in 1917, and more than 5.2 million were cultivated in 1918, generating an estimated 1.45 million quarts of canned fruits and vegetables.

New Release

There is no ocean so great that love can’t cross.

In 1917 every man, woman, and child was called to civic duty as the “war to end all wars” encompassed the globe. When the patriotic call comes, Adella begins her campaign of encouragement by corresponding with the frightened and lonely soldiers. On the cusp of adulthood, the young woman is tired of living a cosseted life and hopes to gain her parent’s support when she wants to volunteer her services to the war effort. Her mother worries for her safety, but Adella is more concerned for her heart.

As a recent college graduate, Gibb is led down a path he never anticipated. And one unexpected meeting at a train station tips all of his carefully laid plans into chaos. In the void, Adella’s words of affection flow across the continents. The image of her smile and the consistency of her letters give him a reason to hope.

Fans of historical romance set in the late 19th -century will enjoy stories combining, History, Humor, and Romance, emphasizing Faith, Friends, and Good, Clean Fun.
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German Immigration to America by Zina Abbott












Many of us are aware of the great Irish immigration to North America, particularly in the 1840s when the potato famine raged in Ireland. Gauging by the number of Irish who were recruited by both the Union and Confederacy as they stepped off boats from Europe, a large number were still coming then. What many Americans, including readers of American historic fiction, are not aware of is that there was another group of immigrants which, from about the 1830s through the end of the century, came to America in even larger numbers than the Irish: Germans.

A Brief (brief for me) History of Germany

Western Europe 1700- Holy Roman Empire in Yellow

Julius Caesar was the first to give the German people their name as a separate group from the Guals
(France). He referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine River as Germania. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD prevented the Roman Empire from annexing this region. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Franks conquered the West Germanic tribes. When the Frankish Empire was divided up among Charles the Great’s heirs in 843, the eastern part became East Francia. In 962, Otto I became the first Holy Roman Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted until 1806, about the time Napoleon rose to power. A lot happened in that area during that time, but that is not the topic of this post.

As if Napoleon’s march through the German states on his way to Russia was not disruptive enough, the old feudal system fell away due to the clash with the growing movement for liberalism and nationalism.

Prussia (Preusen) in 1806 when Holy Roman Empire dissolved

Prussia, originally a small nation land-wise, grew in power as it exerted its governance over more and more German states. In 1815, it formed the deutscher Bund, or German Confederation.

 (deutscher Bund) German Confederation 1815-1866

As the population grew, there was not enough land to provide a living for many of the working class. The young men, without a means of supporting a family, were unable to marry. With much of the northern part of Germany being Lutheran or one of the other Protestant faiths, and Bavaria, Austria, and a few other states being Roman Catholic, there were also religious conflicts. Due to frequent conflicts, many men were forced into the armies of their local states. Many Germans looked to the United States as a place where they might obtain land, avoid the military draft, and practice their religion as they chose.

The German revolutions of 1848-49 failed. Many who supported the cause of  unification of German-speaking people, were discontent with traditional, autocratic rule, sought liberal principles, better living and working conditions, and greater freedom, fled to the United States. A large number of those Germans were middle-class and well-educated.

1864 saw the Second Schleswig War, also known as the Prusso-Danish War.

In 1866, a seven weeks war was fought between the Kingdom of Prussia and its German allies and the Austrian Empire and its German allies. When Prussia prevailed, it established its dominance over the other German states.

In 1870, after France sought to regain its dominance in continental Europe, Germany and its southern German allies found themselves engaged in the Franco-Prussian War, resulting in more disruption and forced military service.

(deutscher Reich) German Empire 1871-1918


In 1871, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck succeeded with the unification of the German Empire which included almost all the German-speaking states excluding Austria and the German-speaking areas of Switzerland. With Berlin as its capitol city, Wilhelm 1, King of Prussia became the first German Emperor.

All these factors drove many Germans to seek new homes—the vast majority choosing the United States as their destination.

Germans coming to the United States

Germans have been in North America since Colonial times, most of them settling primarily in Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. Immigration slowed in the 1770s due to war both in North America and the European continent.

Starting in the 1830s, German immigration to the Americas began in increase. Once German settlers were established in their new home, they wrote to family and friends in Europe describing the opportunities available in the United States. These letters were circulated in German newspapers and books, prompting "chain migrations." By 1832, more than 10,000 immigrants arrived in the U.S. from Germany. By 1854, about 200,000 German immigrants arrived.

In the last half of the nineteenth century, several factors aided and encouraged immigration. Part was due to conditions at home. In addition to those already mentioned, including the failed German Revolution of 1848, typical working people in Germany were forced to endure land seizures, unemployment was high, and there was increased competition from British goods.

Coupled with that, as restrictions on emigration were eased, it became easier to leave Germany. Steamships replaced sailing ships, so the transatlantic journey became, not only more accessible, but more tolerable.

Also, as steamships delivered their cotton, tobacco, and other raw goods from America to European ports, including Hamburg and Bremerhaven, their owners sought a profitable “cargo” for the return trip. They hired agents to aggressively solicit sales to those interested in emigrating from Germany. Many steamship had cabins for those who chose to travel first or second class. However, those who traveled steerage rode in the cargo space to America.

German passenger ticket

Between 1820 and 1870, almost a third of all immigrants to the United States came from Germany—about the same number as from Ireland. During the peak period from roughly 1860-90, there were only three years in which Germans were not the largest nationality among new arrivals in America. All told, five million Germans came to the United States in the nineteenth century. Today, more Americans consider themselves of German ancestry than any other group.

I am one person who, with my Prussian maiden name, appreciates her German ancestry. My other German ancestors came from W├╝rttemberg and Bern, Switzerland.

1872 map showing distribution of German immigrants in America

In the decade from 1845 to 1855 alone, more than a million Germans fled to the United States to escape economic hardship and the political unrest caused by riots, rebellion, and eventually the 1849 Revolution in 1848. The Germans had few choices other than the United States since very few nations allowed German immigration. In one respect the Germans differed from the Irish was that many of them came with enough money to journey away from the port-of-entry cities either to search for farmland in the Midwest or work in one of the large cities with large German settlements. Some cities with large German populations were New York City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Omaha, and Milwaukee.

Although New York was a popular port of entry for German immigrants, many arrived in New Orleans. Because most Germans chose to live within German communities where they were able to continue speaking their native language, practice their customs, and take pride in their “Germanism,” they often lived in German neighborhoods within cities or predominantly German townships on Midwestern farms. Due to the locality of many German communities, after disembarking from the ocean steamship, the trip was continued up the Mississippi River system on a river steamboat.

Part of the opposition was political. Most immigrants living in cities became Democrats because the party focused on the needs of commoners.

German emigrants boarding ship in Hamburg - 1874

Like with the Irish, German immigrants arriving in the mid and late 1800s were not welcome by all Americans whose families had established themselves here earlier. Most Americans of English descent were Protestant. Like the Irish, a large portion of the German population were Roman Catholic.

Many German Jews, who suffered persecution in former homelands, including Austria-Hungary and Russia as well as Germany, also arrived on North American shores. Interestingly enough, once in the United States, German Jews, proud of their German heritage, usually spoke German rather than Yiddish. They preferred to live together with Catholics and Lutherans within existing German American communities rather than form their own.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin - home to many ethnic Germans

Many German communities continued to stay close-knit, speaking German, with German language schools, and continuing their German traditions. Much of that changed with the onset of World War I. At that time, because of the anti-German sentiment, many Germans chose to Anglicize their names and adopt English as their primary language.

Americans with German Ancestry by State - 2019

Today, more people have German ancestry than many probably realize. A 2019 U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey shows the distribution of Americans with German ancestry.


My next book to be published is Bee Sting Cake by Brunhilde, Old Timey Holiday Kitchen series, Book 12. Most of my characters are Germans, some to came to the United States in 1849 after the failed revolution in Germany, and Brunhilde’s immediate family who immigrates in 1873, shortly after the unification of Germany—the same year my great-great grandmother immigrated to the United States.

To find the book description and pre-order link, 






Thursday, August 4, 2022

A Day in the Life...

 A Day in the Life ...

Hi, Kit Morgan here. I've blogged about Victorian bathrooms in the past including ones in public places such as hotels and restaurants. But what about the plumbers that took care of these elaborate bathrooms. Back in the day, when indoor plumbing was at last becoming more common place, those elaborate Victorian bathrooms could be plagued by the same things that plague us today.

So what was it like being a plumber back in the late 1800s and early 1900s? Well, if he happened to live in a town with a decent population, he might be woke up by one of the town knockers. Yep, human alarm clocks that knocked on your windows (yes, windows, not your door) with a long pole around 4 am. 

If our plumber were a person of means, he'd have plenty of candles. But not everyone was that lucky, and our poor plumber had to fumble about in the dark to wash his face, shave, get dressed and do any number of other things. It was dark, it was cold, and I can only imagine the amount of stubbed toes that caused a yelp. Folks were conservative with what candles they did have, but in general, it was good practice to keep one handy. 

He ate simply, bathed maybe once a week, and like most folks back in the day, had his work clothes and his set of Sunday clothes. 

After his breakfast, the plumber was out the door. A lot of folks lived close to their work back then. When a plumber got to his, he was given a service order. Most could handle three a day, depending on where he had to go. And of course, you weren't alone. Two other men were sent with you. Your helpers were in charge of the wheelbarrow full of fittings and various tools that you would need on the job. The plumber got three trips back to his place of employment for supplies and parts. Any more than that and he'd be fired. There were plenty of others waiting to take his place and who could do the work more quickly.

As the number of Victorian bathrooms increased, it didn't take long for our plumbers to figure out that the elaborately carved wood used to house toilets, bathtubs, and sinks didn't do well. So, porcelain replaced wood and many a plumber was happy once more. You can just imagine what some of that wood absorbed.

The history of the bathroom is extensive. The history of the plumber, not so much. These unsung heroes have been around for a long time and thank Heaven will continue to be. I've read a few romance novels where the hero was a plumber and they were great books. Who says the hero has to be a cowboy, or a CEO or a Navy Seal? Yes they make great heroes, but so do the men with the jobs no one else wants to do.

Until next time!


Tuesday, August 2, 2022



Ahh! That familiar smell of a lemon. I don't even need to describe it. I'm betting it comes to your mind at my mention.

Lemonade is remembered as a very popular drink in the 1800s. Even now, it is a summer standard. Why?

Only a little research was needed to answer that question. It goes back to the fight against alcohol and drunkenness. 

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union heavily promoted lemonade in the last part of the 1800s. They urged it as a refreshing alternative to alcohol. And healthy, too, since lemons had been used for years to avoid scurvy.

Along with their campaign, President Rutherford B. Hayes’ wife also gave the drink a boost. First Lady Lucy Hayes refused to serve any alcohol to in the White House (1877-1881). While she didn’t serve lemonade exclusively, she did serve nonalcoholic drinks that included lemons. In later years, she became known as Lemonade Lucy.

The Ladies’ Home Journal responded to the popularity of the drink at that time. Concern about the nation’s love for the drink is expressed. This quote was selected from the magazine and preserved by Red Cross Founder Clara Barton.

A word should, perhaps, be said as to the unwholesomeness of the extremely cold water, tea, lemonade, and other liquids, which are so extensively used throughout the United States. These cold drinks reduce the temperature of the stomach, thereby checking digestion, and for this reason should be avoided during or immediately after meals.” 

No matter the advice, lemonade continued to be enjoyed as a cool summer drink by young and old—before, during, or after a meal.

You can read more about the history of lemonade at This is a great, short article about the drink.

Enjoy the August heat with a cool glass of lemonade and A Bride for Boss--a little Christmas in the summer. On sale at a special low price NOW!

A determined mayor and an outspoken teacher—a match made in heaven? A marriage arranged by the Lord above. Sometimes people don’t see the blessings sent their way.

Scrub Brush, Wyoming needs a teacher. A mail-order teacher is the answer to their problem. To afford one, the town’s mayor—Boswick “Boss” Carter--will need to marry her. That way the town won’t need to house or pay her. He advertises for a proxy bride instead, wanting to be sure she’ll come if he sends money for a ticket.

Frances “Frankie” Elder loses her job after being to frank with the school board. At her friend’s urging, she answers a letter for a combination teacher and bride who can cook. It’s the perfect solution to her need for a home and employment. After all, the groom must not want a real marriage if he advertises for a teacher. He didn’t even include a description of himself in the ad.

What should have been an ordinary marriage of convenience takes a sudden, dangerous turn when Frankie leaves the train in Chicago? By the time she reaches Wyoming, murder dogs her heals and forces her to cling tightly to the protection Boss Carter offers.

But, protection isn’t love…