Friday, September 24, 2021

Much-Appreciated Research Source

 I’m grateful for several tools that allow me to research the settings for my favorite time period to write about--the last quarter of the 19th century. But the Images of America books have proven to be invaluable.

The current story I’m writing is set in Astoria, Oregon in 1876. From Wikipedia and the city’s website, I culled details about the city’s proximity to the Columbia River and the importance of the city being on the river to develop the fur trade that burgeoned in the region in the early 1800s. But if I hadn’t bought an Images of America book, I would never have learned about a unique feature of the city. I like making sure my stories contain as much realism as I can find.

Because of Astoria’s location at the confluence of two rivers and backed up to a range of hills, the town had limited space to expand. Houses and businesses sprawled along the river’s edge, and soon taking a boat to get from one side of the town to another was easier and faster than walking. Until pilings were driven into the marshy wetlands at the river’s edge. Streets were then built on top of those pilings, and in some areas, businesses were constructed on that wooden base.

In the photo above taken in the early 1870s, you can see the construction of such boardwalks. This feature adds depth to the story because of the sounds of people and horses walking on boardwalks over water are different from boardwalks over lands. Smells would be intense, especially at the west end of town where canneries were located. I’m still working on ways to include this unusual construction in my story.

Blurb for Ginger Cake by Glynna, book 7 in Old Timey Holiday Kitchen series

Baker Glynna Shaughnessy wants to bolster sales for her struggling bakery almost as much as she wants to revive her drab personal life. A baking competition in commemoration of the city’s incorporation offers a chance at making the shop’s name known…until she’s accused of cheating. According to the competition’s sponsor—a roguish man who sets her heart aflutter—Glynna can only remain a contestant if she invents a brand-new recipe…something she’s never done before.

Hotel manager Ritter Anton has six months to boost patronage at his grandfather’s Anton Grand Hotel. He accomplished success with the family’s Cheyenne hotel and he’ll succeed here then move to the next. The baking contest he invented sparks controversy with the entry of a baker who others claim has an unfair advantage. Ready to reject her, he can’t say no when the auburn-haired beauty pleads her case. How will he remain neutral as a judge when all he can think about is Glynna?

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

An Unlikely Romance by Jo-Ann Roberts

I readily admit I am an avid student of history. I've always been drawn to everyday people who lived, loved, and fought alongside notable characters from the past. In elementary school, you'd find me in the history section of the Berkshire Athenaeum reading stories of  the early years of Mary Mapes Dodge, Betsy Ross, and Clara Barton. During high school and college, I took as many history classes as my schedule would allow. As an adult I fell in love with all of John Jakes' series, thrilled when many of them came to life on television. Victoria Holt, Jude Deveraux, and Roseanne Bittner were-and still are-among my favorite authors. When I began writing, I naturally gravitated toward historical romance. 

So I wasn't surprised when inspiration for my new series, Mended Hearts, came from the real-life romance, Undaunted Heart: The True Story of  a Southern Belle and an Yankee General by Suzy Barile.

In February, 2019, our local NBC affiliate, WRAL, aired a weekly segment, "The Tar Heel Traveler" narrated by Scott Mason.  Just in time for Valentine's Day, he tells the love story of Miss Ella Swain, daughter of the President of UNC-Chapel Hill, and Union General Smith Atkins of the 92nd Illinois Volunteers, a mounted cavalry. (To view the segment  CLICK HERE)

Their meeting, courtship, and marriage gave North Carolinians a lot to talk about for generations. Their story even made its way into state history books. But over time, the facts of their love story gave way to legend.

When a brigade of General Sherman's victorious army marched into Chapel Hill the day after Easter, 1865, the War Between the States had just ended, and President Lincoln had been assassinated. Citizens of the picturesque North Carolina college town had endured years of hardship and sacrifice, and now the Union army was patrolling its streets. One of Sherman's young generals paid a visit to the stately home of David Swain, president of the University of North Carolina and a former governor of the state, to inform him that the town was now under Union occupation.

Against this unlikely backdrop began a passionate and controversial love story still vivid in town lore. When President Swain's daughter, Ella, met the Union general, life for these two young people who had spent the war on opposite sides was forever altered.

But, as a close friend of the Swains wrote, when Atkins met Ella, the two "changed eyes at first sight and a wooing followed".  The reaction of the Swains and fellow North Carolinians to the North-South love affair was swift and often unforgiving.

Ms. Barile, a great-great-granddaughter of Ella Swain and Smith Atkins, tells their story, separating facts from the elaborate embellishments that the famous courtship and marriage have taken over the generations. Interwoven throughout Undaunted Heart are excerpts from Ella's never-before-published letters to her parents that reveal a loving marriage that transcended differences and scandal.

Immediately after this segment aired, my active imagination went into over-drive...I couldn't get my thoughts down on paper fast enough! But I was nearing the end of Book Two in the Brides of New Hope series, and Book Three waited in the wings.

Still, this romance wouldn't quit teasing me.

The day I sent off Grace-Brides of New Hope Book Three, my research began on the Tar Heel state during the last days of the Civil War, Sherman's capture of Raleigh, the Union army's march to Durham Station (as it was called in those days), and the surrender of North Carolina.

During this time, my husband and I took a trip to Asheville. Stopping at the Southern Highland Craft Guild on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I picked up a piece of handcrafted wood fashioned into a heart. The attached card stated the Heart Mender "would lighten your heart...allowing your worries and stress to melt away". Bingo! I had the name of my new series, Mended Hearts, and the wooden heart became the connecting thread through all three books based on true events during the Civil War.

The War Between the States has ended...but for Kit and Will their battle had just begun.
   As the daughter of a prominent judge, and well-bred mother whose roots traced back to the War of Independence, Katherine Lambert had been the belle of Adams Mill. Her upbringing, her education, and her privileged world revolved around the latest fashions, picnics, parties, and a host of beaus and friends.
   She was expected to raise children; not her voice.
   Until she defied her family and the Rebel cause by doing the unthinkable...falling in love with a Union cavalry officer.
   When the very elegant, very beautiful Katherine Lambert looked at U.S. Major William Chandler was the moment she marched off with his heart. Though he always planned to carve out his own destiny, to marry and raise a family, he never expected love to find him in a small Southern town.
   Encountering opposition at every turn, he remained undaunted, determined to court and marry Kit, and see who took serious objection.
   They'd hoped their love would mend and heal the wounds of a splintered family, but someone else had other ideas.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

COMING NEXT WEEK: Pumpkin Pie by Patience by Annee Jones


What's coming next in the Old-Timey Holiday Kitchen Series??

Pumpkin Pie by Patience releases September 27th!!

1890, Baltimore.
19-year-old Patience Sutton has never been praised for her cooking – in fact, she burned the pumpkin pie at her family’s last Thanksgiving dinner. As the youngest of 10 children, she’s tired of always being the baby and longs to grow up. When she spies an ad in the paper from Oregon banker Jefferson Cooke seeking a mail-order bride willing to travel out west and who “must love children,” Patience jumps at the chance for a new life. With children of her own to take care of, maybe she’ll finally get some respect! Right?

Find out as you read this heartwarming holiday romance set in Sunset Hills, Oregon!

Sunday, September 19, 2021




By Annee Jones

          While writing my second novel for the Old Timey Holiday Kitchen series, Pumpkin Pie by Patience, releasing on September 27, I grew curious about how women wore and maintained their hair in the late 19th century.  The main character, Patience Sutton, has thick and curly hair in a striking shade of red.  Like women of today, I’m sure many blessed with such rare tresses during the Victorian era enjoyed the attention they received, while others in a similar position may have longed for a greener grass of blending in with the crowd.

          According to the author of Hairstyles, 1840-1900, Maureen A. Taylor, most women of this period wore hairpieces.  It could be something as simple as a comb with hair added to it to achieve the desired look of volume, or it could be a complete wig.  Curling irons were also very popular, both for men as well as women.  Hair dye was commonly available in the 1800s.  A person could get their hands on a wide variety of such accoutrements by mail-order if they couldn’t find what they needed at their local store, much as we shop on-line today when we’re unable to locate a particular item or physically travel to a retailer.

          Women in the late 19th century typically brushed their hair about 100 times per day – but didn’t wash it more than once per month.  Did you know there was no such thing as shampoo until the latter part of the 1800s? 

          It was said that “a woman’s crowning glory was her hair” – thus, women strove to grow their hair as long as they possibly could.  

However, it was considered immoral for a female to wear her hair down in public.   

Thus, elaborate up-do’s were very popular, and married ladies strove to “protect” their locks from view by members of the opposite sex other than their husbands by wearing hats and other types of head coverings.  

          Unfortunately, poor women often had resorted to cutting and selling their hair to meet the demand of the upper class for false hairpieces. 

          My research on this topic gave me pause to reflect on my own ideas of beauty and the roles time and culture play in our limited (and often-skewed perspectives).  I hope it helps you do the same. 

About Me:

Annee Jones is an inspirational romance novelist who enjoys sharing her heart and imagination with others.  She is passionate about writing stories that offer hope and encouragement and likes to think of her books as “romance filled with faith and a sprinkle of fairy dust!”

Professionally, Annee works as a disability counselor where she helps her clients navigate through complex medical and legal systems while rediscovering their wholeness in Spirit.

Annee also enjoys professional freelance writing for Publishers Weekly in the genres of faith-based fiction and Christian living.  

Connect with Annee here:

Available Now: 

RELEASING September 27, 2021:




Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Boston, Colorado

 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

There were actually two 'Boston' Colorados. One was the name of a company that had mining concerns in the mountains. The second was a town in the Southeast part of the state. It was the one near Lamar, Colorado that sparked an idea for a story way back in 2015. Below is a news clipping about the town that caught my eye. 

Boston Colorado.

And a second article I found that same year.

Badman killed in Boston, Colorado

It was these clippings and other stories that eventually became the seed of the story "Chasing A Chance" My 'what-if'? What would a man do if he found his first love was in that town and possibly in danger. The story began to take shape. 

Below is a short excerpt:

"Chet, where did you see her? Why would I need to help her?" Edwin knew he'd frightened Chet,
but the mention of Mary brought back so many memories, memories he'd kept safe. Now, he couldn't let Chet go without finding out where Mary was. He had to admit, he'd never stopped loving her.

Until next time, happy writing. As for me, I'll be combing those old newspapers for the little tidbits that fascinate me so much. Who knows?

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Gambling, Gunfighting and Celebrating The Life of Doc Holliday - by Kimberly Grist

It’s Almost Fall, Y'all, and where I’m from, it’s the time of year we celebrate the birth of a notorious gambler and gunfighter, who’s also a dentist. Surprisingly, I work only a block away from the location of his former dental practice.

Doc Holliday is well known for his participation along with Wyatt Earp in the O.K. Corral gunfight in 1881. The battle itself lasted less than a minute. After almost 140 years, what do we still find so intriguing about the man? Multiple movies retell the story of lawman Wyatt Earp. But strangely, the character we’re most drawn to is a sickly dentist turned gambler and gunman known as Doc.

Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.
Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.

Perhaps the complexity of his character is the reason for his lingering appeal. His vibrant personality is rooted in contrast. Doc is critically ill but bold and gallant. He’s a deadly gunslinger and gambler, yet smart, educated, flashy, witty, compassionate, and loyal. Stir in a bit of vulnerability, a touch of vanity, and don’t forget a healthy dose of gallant southern charm to describe this critically ill man.

Born with a cleft palate on August 14, 1851, John. Henry Holliday was fed by his mother with an eyedropper and a spoon.

The baby’s uncle, Dr. John Stiles Holliday, performed surgery, assisted by Dr. Crawford Long, the namesake of the Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The operation may have been the first time in history in which ether was used on an infant. He was schooled at home by his mother, who spent years training him to conquer his speech impediment. She also instilled in him Southern etiquettes, which would forever be part of his demeanor.

Two actors who played Doc Holliday, Stacy Keach, and Jason Robards were also born with the same condition.

Jason Robards played Doc in Hour of the Gun in 1967. 

In 1864, his family moved to Valdosta, Georgia, where his mother suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis, and died when he was fifteen. Three months after his mother’s death, his father remarried.

 John Henry Holliday, age ten.

Holliday attended Valdosta Institute, where he received a classical education, and in 1870, nineteen-year-old Holliday left home to attend the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He graduated five months before his twenty-first birthday. He returned to Griffin, Georgia, in 1872 to practice dentistry. 

John Henry was soon diagnosed with consumption and, in 1873, ended his career as a dentist. Some say he didn’t want his family to see him deteriorate and die from the disease. Others suggest he went west in hopes that the climate would be beneficial to his lungs. Regardless, Doc took the train to the literal end of the railroad line—Dallas, Texas.

Holliday understood the gravity of his disease and most likely considered himself a walking dead man. Though a realist, he remained hopeful for a cure. Doc found comfort in whiskey and gambling.

Texas was full of guns, knives, and violent men, some of whom were suffering from post-traumatic stress from the effects of war. Doc reinvented himself—from a southern gentleman dentist to a dangerous gunman who’d killed more than a dozen men in various altercations.

Holliday traveled from town to town, following the money and gaining a reputation as both a gambler and a gunman. In 1877, Doc was involved in an argument, but he used his walking stick instead of going for his gun. His serious wounds, compounded by worsening tuberculosis, spurred a change of scenery. His next stop was Fort Griffin, where he met Wyatt Earp, who ultimately saved his life.

Earp and Holliday became fast friends. Eventually, Doc would join Earp in the wild boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona. Due to recent silver strikes, the town was flooded with merchants and cash but short on law and order. By the end of 1880, Tombstone was embedded with organized rustlers and thieves called the Cowboys. 

Val Kilmer as Doc alongside Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell, and Bill Paxton as Virgil, Wyatt and
Morgan Earp in 1993.

 On October 26, 1881, Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp deputized Holliday. Virgil asked Doc to carry his shotgun under his coat, and the four strode down the middle of the street to meet and disarm five members of the Cowboys near the O.K. Corral, which resulted in a thirty-second shootout.

The famous line quoted by Doc at the end of the fight was reported in the Tombstone papers. When confronted by one of the Cowboys at point-blank range, "I got you now Doc...., to which Doc retorted, "Blaze away! You're a daisy if you do!"

This past weekend my family and I attended the Doc Holliday Festival in his birthplace of Griffin, Georgia and we were fortunate to watch a reenactment of the famous shootout of the OK Corral put on by Aces & Eights.

Both historically accurate and entertaining, the villains and heroes alike were gracious with their time. I was especially grateful for the extra attention they gave to my adult son, who has special needs. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Jonathan Keeney and the town of Stone House


Captain Jonathan Keeney was a mountain man with Jim Bridger, a wagon scout, a pioneer of the Oregon Trail and Barlow Road, a settler, a miner, a soldier, and an inn and ferry owner.

Jonathan was born in Indiana on April 27, 1813, a son of John Jr. and Mary Ramsey Buckhalter Keeney. The family moved to Ray County, Missouri, where Jonathan grew into early manhood. He reportedly had a "roving disposition" and a yearning to explore.

Jonathan left Missouri at the ripe old age of 19 to explore the Rocky Mountains with a company of men. Shortly after the adventure, he joined Jim Bridger of the American Fur Company and traveled throughout the west trapping and trading. 

Reportedly, he returned to Missouri in 1835 and again in 1837 to marry Mary Shoemaker. In 1846, he returned to Missouri and packed up his family. Together, they headed across the plains and he served as a guide to the wagons accompanying them. 

Jonathan Keeney led the life of an adventurous pioneer. In 1831, at the age of 19, he left Missouri to explore the Rocky Mountains with a company of men. Shortly after, he joined Jim Bridger of the American Fur Company and traveled throughout the west trapping and trading. 

He led one of the first wagon trains across what would become the Oregon Trail. Jonathan earned the title of Captain during the Oregon Indian Wars. In 1846, after returning to Missouri, Keeney took his family and headed across the plains, serving as a guide to the wagons which accompanied them. 

In 1851, he reportedly brought a wagon train and 300 head of cattle to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, losing 80 head along the way primarily to theft by Indians. After driving cattle to the gold mines in California and doing some gold mining for himself, he returned to an area on what is now on the Oregon and Idaho border in southeastern Oregon. 

In 1863, he established the first ferry at Fort Boise on the Snake River then went on to build a small willow and adobe cabin near the hot springs on the Malheur River, which became the first building in present day Vale. This little community offered weary travelers access to fresh water with the river, as well as hot springs where many of them bathed, washed their clothes, and rested before continuing on with their journey.

That little cabin on the south side of the river served as a wayside inn for the pioneers passing along the Oregon Trail from 1863 to 1870. One of Jonathan's sons, James, ran a tavern in one of the rooms. 

In 1870, Lewis B. Rinehart purchased Jonathan's holdings and built a two-story sandstone house where the cabin once stood. The Stone House became a focal point in the region as travelers stopped to rest there. A stage coach office was there, as well as the office for the ferry that hauled wagons across the Malheur River.  Today, the Stone House still stands, and is the second oldest building remaining in Malheur County. Open as a museum, visitors can explore the rooms and envision what it might have been like to cross nearly twenty miles of nothing but rolling hills and sagebrush to find a two-story home greeting them yards beyond the bank of the river.  Many referred to the growing settlement by the name Stone House, Malheur Crossing, or Rinehart's Crossing.

Always looking for his next adventure, Jonathan  also established the first homestead in the area near Dell, now known as Jamieson, about twenty miles from Vale. After delivering cattle from his homestead to gold miners in Mormon Basin, he accidentally shot himself and is buried in the Dell Cemetery above his homestead. The gold he brought back in payment for his cattle from the miners in Mormon Basin has never been found. A later owner of the Keeney Homestead in Jamieson was the noted J.R. Simplot. who went on to build an agriculture products empire.

Because of Keeney's contributions to the settling of Oregon and this little corner of the state, visitors to Vale can go just a few miles out of town to the Keeney Pass Interpretive Site. Located directly on the ruts of the Oregon Trail, the interpretive center gives a clear glance into what pioneers might have seen when they crossed the dry, desert are dotted with sagebrush. The landscape has remained largely unchanged since the days when hundreds of wagons crossed the rolling hills. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management as an interpretive site, it offers a 2/3-mile round-trip hike along a section of the original Oregon Trail and visible wagon ruts near an interpretive shelter. Wayside exhibits tell the stories of the overland experience and the native peoples of the area. Please stay on the path in order to protect the historic wagon ruts.

The town of Vale also has many murals painted on buildings. One of them is dedicated to Jonathan Keeney.

In my soon-to-release sweet historical romance book, the three stories are set in the town of Rinehart's Crossing, one of the many names Vale was once known by.

Life on the Oregon Trail will never be the same . . .

Tenner King is determined to make his own way in the world far from the overbearing presence of his father and the ranch where he was raised in Rinehart’s Crossing, Oregon. Reluctantly, he returns home after his father’s death to find the ranch on its way to ruin, his siblings antsy to leave, and the women in town completely infatuated with a mysterious poet. Prepared to do whatever is necessary to save the ranch, Tenner isn’t about to let a little thing like love get in his way.

♥ Austen – After spending her entire life ruled by her father, Austen Rose King certainly isn’t going to allow her bossy older brother to take on the job. Desperate to leave the hard work and solitude of the Diamond K Ranch, she decides a husband would be the fastest means of escape. If only she could find a man she could tolerate for more than five minutes.

♥ Claire – Two thousand miles of travel. Two thousand miles of listening to her parents bicker about the best place in Oregon to settle. Two thousand miles of dusty trails, bumpy wagons, and things that slither and creep into her bedding at night. Claire Clemons would happily set down roots that very minute if someone would let her. What she needs is her own Prince Charming to give her a place to call home. When a broken wagon wheel strands her family miles from civilization, she wonders if handsome Worth King, the freighter who rescues them, might just be the answer to her prayers.

♥ Kendall – Anxious to escape her mother’s meddling interference, Kendall Arrington leaves her society life behind, intent on experiencing a Wild West adventure. Hired as the school teacher in a growing town on the Oregon Trail, Kendall hopes to bring a degree of civility and a joy of learning to the children of Rinehart’s Crossing. However, the last thing she expects to find is a cowboy with shaggy hair, dusty boots, and incredible green eyes among her eager students.

Will love find the three King siblings as Romance arrives in Rinehart’s Crossing?

Read all the books in the Regional Romance Series featuring historic locations, exciting drama, and sweet (yet swoony) romance!

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes.

When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

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Wagon Ruts West  by Ralph Ray Keeney, 1983

Pioneer Days in Malheur County by Jacob Ray Gregg, 1950