Friday, January 27, 2023

Brief History of Quilting, part 1

 When we think of quilts, we most often picture bed coverings comprised of cut pieces of colorful fabric stitched together in pleasing patterns. But possibly the two oldest quilts are from 14th century Sicily and are of white whole cloth, not pieced, and contain both intricate quilting and trapunto, a technique where cording is used to increase and define the raised surface.  The craftsmanship denotes skilled workers who designed and stitched scenes from the legend of Tristan and Isolde. Both quilts are in museums—one in Bargello Museum in Florence, and the other in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

photo credit Geta's Quilt Studio

During the Crusades, Europeans discovered Turkish soldiers wore quilted garments under their armor. Multiple layers of fabric with a lining provided both warmth and padding. The fashion soon migrated to Europe, especially the northern countries. Able seamstresses easily saw the benefit of using the technique for bed coverings. Although only the rich could have bought fabric with the intention of sewing a quilt, resourceful and thrifty housewives would have saved fabric wherever it could be found.

credit Pinterest

The practice crossed the ocean with the colonists, especially from countries like England, France, Holland, and Italy. The earliest surviving American quilts were calamancos made of whole cloth, usually a wool top (often imported) layered with wool batting and a home-woven linen or linsey-woolsey backing. The most common quilting pattern was large plumes. Cloth was most commonly imported from England and France until the early 19th century when American mills started producing cheap printed cotton fabric. Quilts of this time were often medallion style with a patchwork center surrounded by multiple borders.

The heroine of my latest release, Holle, is a quilter and a quilt needing repair is the way the hero and heroine meet.

Blurb for Holle, book 4 in Christmas Quilt Brides multi-author series.

Holle Berthold thinks love is a curse. Her first fiancé died, and the second one jilted her two days before the wedding. Then the man who funded her train ticket to Montana as a mail-order bride rejected her because of her partial deafness. Abandoned, she must find a job.

Widower Eduard Lambrecht discovers his late wife’s Christmas quilt is damaged. At the seamstress shop, he learns the woman to repair it is also the mail-order bride his cousin rejected. Can their bruised hearts dare to try again?

Amazon link

This novella is featured in N.N. Light’s Wintertime Reading Bookish Event. Click here to learn about all the books and enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Civil War Trail of Tears - Plight of the Roswell Women by Jo-Ann Roberts


"Only think of it! Four hundred weeping and terrified Ellens, Susans, and Maggies, transported in springless and seatless army wagons, away from their loves and brothers of the sunny South, and all for the offenses of weaving tent cloth."

Disclaimer: Although there are no personal accounts written by the women themselves, their voices are still silent. However, the evidence that is available confirms their plight, and although the disappearance of the Roswell women is somewhat shrouded in mystery, it is easy to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. I am not condemning nor condoning the actions of the U.S. Army during the Civil War.

Several years ago, I watched a story on PBS about a little-known event of the Civil War, telling myself that if I ever had the time, I'd love to create a historical romance based on the life of one of those women who was branded a traitor and sent North.

Fast forward to 2021 when I created the Mended Hearts series. Each book is based on true facts during the latter half of the Civil War. Marrying the Major released in November 2021, and Winning the Widow's Heart will release April 26th, finally telling the romance that had been in my heart and head for so long. The plight of the Roswell women has long been lost to the forgotten passageways of history, and this story is to give one woman a voice to her tragic tale.

At the time of the Civil War, 400 women were employed by the Roswell Mills in Roswell, Georgia. As production increased, so did the number of people living in the area. As the war dragged on the leading families of Roswell fled in advance of Sherman's army, leaving the fate of the mills and their employees to fend for themselves. These women had no choice but to work in the mills. In addition, they were forced to take their children with them. No doubt, they would have preferred to be elsewhere...tending home and hearth. Instead, these women wove cloth to outfit their husbands, sweethearts, fathers, brothers, and sons.

Roswell women in front of Ivy Woolen Mill 1863
Ivy Woolen Mill 1830s

Ivy Woolen Mill 2002

Sherman, looking for a way to get the army across the Chattahoochee, and thus into Atlanta, sent General Garrard to capture Roswell. Initially, the general promised no harm would come to the mill unless he found evidence they were supplying the Confederate army with goods (rope, canvas, tent cloth). Unfortunately, he did discover the letters "C.S.A." printed into the cloth and burned the mill. 

Upon learning this, Sherman sent the message:

"..."I repeat my orders, that you arrest all people, male and female, connected with those factories, no matter the clamour, and let them foot it under guard to Marietta, the I will send them by cars to the North."

The women and children were given a short time to gather their belongings and then marched out to the Roswell town square where they waited long hours for supply wagons to transport them to Marietta. On their arrival, the millworkers were imprisoned in the abandoned Georgia Military Institute where they remained for the next week.

Marietta train station

From there, they were loaded into boxcars and given several days' rations. Not knowing where they were going or if they would return, they were not even the opportunity to leave messages for their loved ones.

"The train which arrived at Louisville from Nashville ...brought up from the South two hundred forty-nine women and children, who are sent by order of General Sherman..."

Once they arrived in the North, their hardships continued. Despite Sherman's assurances they would "live in peace and security", a very different future lay in store. There was no aid, no work and no shelter. Some of the refugees died of disease which reached epidemic proportions in late 1864.

Once the news of the atrocities suffered by these women reached the newspapers, both Northerners and Southerners were outraged.

"It is hardly conceivable that an officer bearing a United States commission of Major General should have so far forgotten the commonest dictates of decency and to drive four hundred penniless girls hundreds of miles from their homes and friends to seek livelihood amid strange and hostile people."

So moved by the article, General Dodge, one of Sherman's commanders, took $100 from his pocket and instructed his chief surgeon to hire some of the Roswell girls to help care for his sick and wounded.

Whew, what an ordeal these women endured! Their fate of these workers has long been considered a mystery. Though a few returned to Roswell, many of them married men in Kentucky, Indiana, or Ohio and settled there. Returning to Roswell would have been very difficult especially for a young woman or single mother. Even if she obtained the means for the journey, she had no idea what awaited her in a land laid waste by Sherman's army.

Adeline Bagley Buice Grave Marker & Inscription
Roswell Mill Worker Caught & Exiled to Chicago by Yankee Army in 1964- Returned on Foot 1869

Below is a memorial dedicated to the 400 women and children who were lost to their families and to history.

For the past year--between writing for two MAPS series--I have read and researched this unfortunate, haunting, yet little-known episode in American history. I hope Winning the Widow's Heart will do the women's story justice.

"The Roswell Mills: A Civil War Tragedy" by C.M. Dillman
"Days Gone by in Alpharetta & Roswell"
"The Long Walk Home: The Story of Adeline Bagley Buice
"Historic Roswell" by Joe McTyre, Rebecca Nash Paden

Here is a link to read more about Roswell, Georgia   CLICK HERE


Wednesday, January 18, 2023



Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo property of the Author

Colorado City, otherwise now known as Old Colorado City had a doctor almost from the very beginning of its existence in 1859.

James Paul Garvin was born in September 1832 in the state of Pennsylvania. While no record has been found of his early medical education, we know that he came to Colorado at around the age of twenty-seven.

Image of Dr. James Paul Garvin from 
the Oct 12, 1952 edition of the
Colorado Springs Gazette

Once he arrived in Colorado city he and M. S. Beach set about building a cabin where Dr. Garvin not only lived and practiced medicine but also worked as a pharmacist, making his home a doctor's office and a drugstore.

Dr. Garvin remained in Colorado, not taking part in the fighting that we know as the Civil War. There is also the possibility that he was a sheriff in Denver for a brief time, but so far that has yet to be verified.

During Dr. Garvin's stay in Colorado, there is a very good chance that he would have traveled to other parts of the state, specifically gold mining camps, to tend to those who were ill. That he also might have spent time searching for gold is a real possibility.

There is much still to be found about Dr. Garvin's stay in Colorado, however brief that might have been.

From the Find A Grave website.

Sometime in the late 1860s Dr. Garvin left Colorado for good and returned to the East. He may have continued studying medicine, but we do know that he married Cedelia A. Butz, in January 1875 in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was her second marriage and his first. They had three children, two boys, and one girl. The couple later moved to St. Louis Missouri and then to Alton, Madison County Illinois. He remained there until his death in 1902.

Dr. James Paul Garvin and his time in Colorado city have been overshadowed by the cabin that he and Beach built. If one is to visit old Colorado city you will find the cabin standing in Bancroft Park. The building is considered the second oldest building in Colorado City and played a part in the storied beginning of Colorado as a territory and the "First Territorial Capital of Colorado". That is a story for another time.

Until next time, Doris 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Ringing


Have you ever thought about the history behind the jolly jingling of sleigh bells? 

I have, but then again, I tend to ponder odd topics!

Kidding aside, I thought it would be fun to do a little research into the history of sleigh bells.

What we commonly refer to as a sleigh bell (a pellet trapped within a hollow globe) is actually a crotal, and is technically a rattle not a bell.

Originally, the ball inside was made of stone and some of the earliest bells (or crotals) were produced thousands of years ago.

Bells were used as charms said to bring good luck or ward off evil, as well as for decoration. They became a way to show off wealth and status too. 

They were also a great warning system to others on the road or pedestrians in town that horses, or a horse-drawn vehicle was approaching. 

Bells were typically round or egg-shaped. Ornate bells might include an acorn or flower bud shape. Square bells are said to look impressive but make a terrible noise. 

The throat of the bell is the number of slits in the bottom that allow it to vibrate and ring. In the early days, most cast harness bells had a broad single throat, giving them a rich, deep tone. When bells were manufactured, a second and sometimes third throat was added, giving the bells a softer chime or jingle, much like what you hear today in many Christmas and winter tunes. 

There's nothing quite like the sound of sleigh bells ringing across a crisp winter day.  

In both Europe and the United States, sleighing was once a popular form of recreation in the winter. Horses and sleighs were adorned with bells, polished and presented as a way to emphasize wealth and standing. Soon, the sound of bells became linked with winter, especially around the holiday season. 

By the 18th century, bell manufacturers began to case makers' marks and ornate designs on individual bells.  Bells were cast until the end of the 1800s when an American manufacturer developed a process to stamp bells out of sheet metal. Designs of the bells ranged from a petal or horseshoe design to initials to fish scale or ornate floral patterns. At one time, all the rage was a plain bell left undecorated and polished to a high shine. 

Unfortunately, with the automobile coming on the scene, horse-drawn transportation and the need for bells faded. 

Only a handful of old manufacturers are still producing class bells and many of the strings used today are antiques left from days gone by. 

If you happen to see bells on a horse or sleigh, you might find the bells jingling from the body strap that buckles over the harness around the horse's middle, on the neck strap around the horse's neck or collar, a hip strap on the horse's lower back or hips, and shaft bells may be attached direction to the shaves of the wagon or sleigh. For those who are riding a horse, small collections of bells can be attached to a saddle. 

The next time you hear the jolly jingle of sleigh bells, think about how crotals came to be!

To connect with USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield, visit her website, or discover more about her new sweet romance that features a sleigh bell serenade.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

A look back at 19th Century Family Medicine by Kimberly Grist

As I was researching healthcare in the 19th century, I ran across some interesting articles that were actually advertisements for "Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery Pills," Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription Tablets," and Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets," which were peddled for all sorts of "female ailments" like hysteria, fatigue and menstruation pains.
Poster for Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription ca. 1880-1900

According to Charles Oleson’s Secret Nostrums and Systems of Medicine (1906), the ingredients of Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription included digitalis, opium, and alcohol.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Dr. Ray Pierce became famous for his patent mail-order medicines. They were advertised widely and sold directly to the public.

A graduate of The Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati in 1862, Dr. Pierce had the ability to market and sell his medicines by describing illnesses and their symptoms with medical terminology. Many of his elixirs contained opium until the mid-1890s.

Pierce promoted his concoctions through his book, "The People's Common Sense Medical Advisor," which was primarily an advertisement for his products and included testimonials from patients whose claims of cures convinced millions of people to try his remedies.

NY: World's Dispensary Medical Association, 1920. 32 pp, illustrated, with most of the pages given to advertising for Dr. Pierce's Invalids Hotel and various medicinal products.

Alcohol for Medicinal Purposes
During the 19th Century, Alcohol was used in various forms as medication for various ailments, including cough and snake bites, and was the main pain-killer used in surgery.

Many farmers produced alcohol as a cash crop, which was in itself not illegal, but after the installation of the IRS and by 1865, the tax on alcohol was two dollars per gallon, up to twelve times the cost of making liquor. Many farmers found it cheaper and easier to transport corn as mash to feed livestock or use in the distillery business and refused to discontinue distribution or pay the tax. Such people became known as “moonshiners” because they operated their illegal stills at night.

Bethel: Runaway Brides of The West - Book 18
While researching the luxury tax implemented in 1862, my imagination took flight as I considered what it might have been like to be a young woman living in a state left destitute by the war, with few resources. What choice might I have made if my family's next meal depended on the revenue earned from Apple or Peach Brandy and corn liquor? Life as a bootlegger wasn't easy. What extreme measures would you have taken to avoid being caught or escape?

New Release: Bethel

Connect with Kimberly:
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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Monday, January 9, 2023

Rock Creek Station by Zina Abbott













The more I attempt to delve into Rock Creek Station, the more discrepancies I find. Much of my information comes from the Wyoming Tales and Trails website. Other sites refer to places with Rock Creek in the name, also indicating they are early stagecoach stations in Wyoming Territory. It also seems that, although the original Rock Creek Station built in 1860 was destroyed by Indians, another, which became the town by the same name, was founded in 1867.

Ruins of Rock Creek

The railroad reached Rock Creek in 1868, and the town became an important junction for freighters and stagecoaches heading north. It was the principle point of shipment for supplies for Fort Fetterman and Powder River Country.

At the town's height, during cattle shipping season, a 100 car loads of cattle would be shipped out every day. Some 175 teams of freighters customarily shipped out from Rock Creek northward. With all of the freighters in town, Rock Creek could be rough.

The 1880 census for Rock Creek shows a total population of ninety-one. At its height, Rock Creek supported five saloons, but no churches. The stage trip to Custer City took three days. The town also boasted a railroad depot, post office, the stage station, two mercantile establishments, stockyards, and a school.

The town had two hotels, one of which belonged to the Thayer family. Although one source listed it as Governor John Thayer’s hotel, it appears the establishment was run by the son of the former governor of Wyoming Territory, who was also named John Thayer. John Thayer's hotel received mixed reviewed in contemporaneous guidebooks. The 1881 Pacific Tourist described the dining room:

The dining-room is beautifully decorated with flowers, vines and horns of game, a pretty Bay window with blooming flowers and walls covered with vines, and the display of hanging baskets, making the meal one of the most agreeable on the rood.


The 1880 Crofult's New Overland Tourist, a travel guide, shared the following details about the hotel: The trains paused only 30 minutes for meal service "which is ample time, as the meals served are not the best on the road; however, the fossiles [sic] are k-urious [sic]." However, the dining room must have done a good business, since the hotel employed 5 waiters and 3 cooks.

With the coming of railroads to Montana and interior Wyoming, stage and freight business northward was discontinued. By 1899, the town was essentially abandoned, and the Union Pacific purchased the town at a judicial sale.

The reason Rock Creek Station registered on my radar was because of an event that took place in December of 1878. After a failed train derailment in August 1878, which had been set up with the expectation of robbing the Union Pacific train outside of Medicine Bow, the gang, which included Dutch Charley, were tracked down by two lawmen: Carbon County Deputy Sheriff, Robert Widdowfield, and Union Pacific Railroad Special Agent, Henry “Tip” Vincents. The two lawmen were ambushed and killed. The gang disbanded and went their separate ways.

Dutch Charley formed a new gang in September. Around the first of December, he decided to rob the train as it crossed Rock Creek north of Elk Mountain and also to rob former governor John Thayer's hotel at Rock Creek Station. It was decided to send someone to the town to check out conditions. Frank Howard was sent to gather information and return and report. He had a change of heart and decided to confess all to Mr. Thayer. John Thayer then contacted former Albany County Sheriff Boswell (who ended up being reelected the next year). Boswell formed a private posse by offering a $250 bonus upon the capture of the gang, which took place on Christmas day, 1878.


It was the above details that prompted me to include Rock Creek in my latest novel, Lauren, Book 2 of the Rescue Me (Mail-order Brides) series. This book was released today. Details of the book description and purchase options may be found by CLICKING HERE.

Friday, January 6, 2023

WHY I DON'T WEAR A CORSET: Rational Dress by Marisa Masterson


 If you're a woman, maybe you've wondered it the same as me. Why don't we wear corsets? And when did women stop wearing long hems?

It's a complex answer. In these few paragraphs, I'll attempt only one small part. It has to do with the Rational Dress Movement pushing to change female fashion.

At the same time that women were pushing to gain the vote, some pushed in the area of fashion. Women argued that corsets restricted movement, as did overly long hems. The corset even constricted breathing which limited what a woman could do as well as the speed at which she could do it. With the creation in the 1800s of many of our popular sports, women were left out of them.

I like the above photo because it shows the shorter hems and the divided skirt that women adopted. They were more willing to do this than to wear bloomers. Those were for the truly militant woman of the age.

This commonsense movement also proposed something called the Liberty Bodice. Instead of steel or bone shaping the waist, this garment had stiff cloth. It was tight over the bust and had a row of buttons running down the front so a woman no longer needed someone to tighten her laces for her. Independence and more freedom of movement!

I wove this into Sylvia's Secret (a romance featuring the suffragist movement and rational dress):

The two women hurriedly packed. Each had a maid who helped. Helga cried as she found nightgowns and delicate undergarments in drawers and placed them in Sylvia’s small trunk. When she brought out corsets, her employer stopped her.
“No, I won’t be wearing them. And I don’t want the dresses that require them.” She bent over to touch her toes. “See, Helga, I’m free for the first time in a very long time. I won’t give that up.”

And later, in a scene where the heroine needed to escape from the villain of my piece:

His sneer turned into glowing triumph as he smiled widely. “I have a carriage ready to take you for a ride.”

Don’t show fear! “Do you know, Horace, that you remind me of the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood?”

Sylvia forced out a laugh. It sounded high and shrill to her pounding ears. “Grandmother, what big ears you have? That fits, doesn’t it?”

Horace lifted his hand from the arm he held to cover one ear. He kept his hair long to hide this defect. Some part of his captive felt badly about bullying him. Even so, she had to escape somehow.

When he moved that hand, Sylvia bolted for the streetcar. It had just arrived while Horace waylaid her. As it pulled away, she jumped onto it. Thank the Lord for freer movement through rational dress.

In the image above, I can see the beginnings of the modern bra. That was still years in the future, though. The Liberty Bodice did not catch on as "all the rage" among women. The corset remained a necessary garment for the rest of the nineteenth century.

But here is some very strange irony. The garment for men that the Rational Dress Movement promoted DID become extremely popular. The one-piece wool union suit or long johns was introduced by this group. Men took to them like hogs to slop.

Go figure! Does this show the male dominance of the century as they could adapt to the group's ideas but women couldn't? I expect that would be for socialogists to debate.

Sylvia wants to be free to make her own choices. Ernest hopes she’ll choose him. When a threat sends them running, it forces them into marrying. Will love follow?

Sylvia makes up her mind to no longer be the "good daughter". Not when Chinese children couldn’t attend school. Besides, she's nearly thirty-years-old, already a spinster! She was old enough to make decisions.

Her secret teaching leads her into danger. That danger sends her running for safety. Dodging into a hall to escape her pursuer, she finds that safety at a suffragette meeting.

What an odd place to fall instantly in love! Who would expect to meet a handsome man in a women’s rally?

A quick marriage and threats to her new husband’s life make Sylvia realize that some secrets have to come out into the open.

If you enjoy sweet romance with a historical flavor, then sink into a chair and start reading Sylvia's Secret.