Tuesday, April 13, 2021

19th Century Commuting by Kimberly Grist

19th Century Commuting - Stagecoach travel was no picnic!

While researching life in the 19th century, I ran across some interesting information about Stagecoach travel. 

Credit...Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

A Stagecoach traveled an average speed of about five miles per hour, covering approximately sixty to seventy miles per day. 

A stage could hold nine passengers inside and more on the roof. In good weather, the position next to the driver was preferred by most male passengers. This seat was not on a first-come, first-serve basis, but rather permission could only be granted by the stagecoach driver. 

Types of Service
Some companies had three classes of service
  • First Class rode all the way.
  • Second Class had to get out and walk on steep slopes.
  • Third Class had to walk and push. 

Mind Your Manners- Stagecoach Etiquette
Here are just a few suggestions as noted in the Omaha Herald in 1877.
  • Don't imagine for a moment, you are going on a picnic, expect annoyance, discomfort and some hardship.  If you are disappointed, thank heaven.  
  • When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do so without grumbling. He will not request it unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • If a team runs away, sit still and take your chances; if you jump, nine times out of ten you will be hurt. 
Stage Stops

There were two types of stations - "swing" and "home." 

The "swing" stations were smaller, consisting of little more than a small cabinet and a barn or corral. There, the coach would stop only about ten minutes from changing the team and allowing passengers to stretch before the coach was on its way once more.

The larger "home" stations were typically situated fifty miles apart and included a stable where the horses could be changed and, often, a blacksmith and repair shop in addition to a telegraph station. Here drivers were usually switched. 

As the stage driver neared the station, he or she would blow a bugle or trumpet to alert the station staff of the impending arrival. Prior to my research, I don't recall learning of a bugle announcing the arrival of the stage, but I could certainly imagine the excitement of a small town, anxious to receive mail, supplies, or perhaps a visitor. The photo below is from the musical, "The Music Man," as the town welcomes The Wells Fargo Wagon.  

The Music Man-1962-motion-picture

According to the late Mr. Walter Oatts of Austin, whose father was the postmaster at Brushy, the driver of the stage would blow his horn when the stage was about a mile away. When the horn sounded almost everyone in the vicinity would trudge up the hill to the Inn to be on hand when the stage came into town. Mr. Oatts also mentioned that "the arrival of the stage was heralded by the honks from a large flock of geese owned by the inn." The inn boasted every bedroom had its own feather beds. 

Please pardon the pun, but after reading this post, my imagination took flight. What better way to greet my shy bride, than a reluctant groom and a gaggle of geese?  My upcoming release is book six in the Mail-Order Mama Series, where brides travel by stagecoach in answer to an ad, unaware that a well-meaning family member or friend has initiated the connection instead of the groom. 

Now Available for Pre-Order

A debutante with a stammer, a compulsive widowed blacksmith with two young daughters. Will they find a way to coexist or even better, forge a romantic partnership? 

Ada Pike longs to leave the life of a socialite and use her skills as a baker to love and nurture a family. A move to the country will perfectly suit her first steps into life on her own.  

Barrett Montgomery rejects the idea of a mail-order bride. What he needs is a housekeeper- someone he can fire if things don't work out the way he likes. Can a matchmaking agency work miracles to bring two people with opposing goals together? Will they find a way to coexist or even better, forge a romantic partnership?   

About Kimberly Grist:

Kim has enjoyed writing since she was a young girl. However, she began writing her first novel in 2017, "
I wear so many hats working inside and outside the home. I work hard, try harder, and then begin again the next day. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life just stinks. Bad things happen. I need and want an outlet, an opportunity to relax and escape to a place where obstacles are met and overcome." 
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. 

Connect with Kimberly:

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kimberly-grist
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/FaithFunandFriends/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GristKimberly
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Grist/e/B07H2NTJ71

Monday, April 12, 2021

Tuolumne County Courthouse by Zina Abbott


On February 18, 1850 the California legislature established Tuolumne County as one of California’s original 27 counties, and on May 1, 1851 incorporated the city of Sonora. Sonora remains the County Seat and is the only incorporated city in the County.

Built in 1853

The first Tuolumne County Courthouse was constructed of wood in 1853. It was a two-story structure that faced Green Street between Jackson Street and Yaney Avenue. It was on the same lot occupied by the present courthouse. 

Yaney business, left, on N. Washington Street, Sonora

Sonora's downtown business owners wanted the building erected in that section, but uptown brothers and merchants Israel P. Yaney and John Yaney pushed to have it built farther north. Together with William G. Heslep and Peter O. Bertine, they made five lots and a portion of two additional lots available to the county on such reasonable terms that the matter was settled. However, until then, a bitter battle raged in the various newspapers in circulation at the time in Tuolumne County about where the location of the new courthouse should be built.

Water to this building was furnished through one single faucet from which containers were filled for use in the various courthouse offices. On court days a bucket of fresh water was placed by the courtroom door with a long-handled dipper hanging conveniently nearby for community use. Other “amenities” included spittoons for the interior rooms and outside privies. Electric lights were not installed until 1892 when the City of Sonora was electrified.

First courthouse built 1853

The first courthouse remained occupied until 1898, By then, an economic resurgence occurred due to the “Second Gold Rush” which began in the early 1890's as hard rock mining developed. It soon became evident that the old building was no longer adequate for the county's needs. Not only was there a need for new county government facilities, but also the tax base needed to be increased to finance the improvements.

Last day at the old Tuolumne County courthouse

On August 14, 1897, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution that the old courthouse was "…in a dilapidated and unsafe condition, its vaults in which the records of the county are kept are wholly inadequate for the necessities and demands of the county." The resolution directed the Board's clerk to advertise for the submission of detailed plans and specifications for a brick and stone courthouse "to be erected at a cost not to exceed forty thousand dollars on the present courthouse site in the City of Sonora."

After several days of examining plans and specifications submitted by ten architects, two deadlock ballots, and an extended session, on January 6, 1898, the Board of Supervisors selected the San Francisco firm of William Mooser & Son by a 3-2 vote.

In 1898 the county tore down the old courthouse. The new courthouse was built on the same site. The difference was, the building no longer faced Green Street like the original courthouse. It was originally designed to face east towards Washington Street, Sonora's main thoroughfare. Pressure was brought upon the County Board of Supervisors by one of the county's most affluent citizens, lumber baron, Samuel S. Bradford, who resided across from the site on Yaney Avenue to the north. He did not want to look outside of his windows and see the side of the courthouse. He succeeded in having the plans altered so the structure faced his home. Instead, the side of the courthouse is seen from Washington Street, the main road through Sonora. Bradford’s home is no longer there, but the courthouse still faces north instead of North Washington Street.

A Union Democrat article published on January 15, 1898, reported, "The plan of the first floor is that the main entrance shall face to the north, with another place of ingress and egress on the south. All architects concur with Mr. Mooser that this is the true position for the main entrance, as it then comes to a street level and the surrounding view thereby afforded includes some of the handsomest buildings in town. . .".

The final plans from William Mooser & Son were officially adopted on April 5, 1898, with the understanding that the courthouse would be a fireproof building, with fire hoses on each floor.

Courthouse workers, courtesy of the City of Sonora

On May 21, 1898, the courthouse construction contract was awarded to the low bidder, Charles F. McCarthy. The contract called for the old courthouse to be removed and the site ready for the contractor to begin work by July 20, 1898. The various county officers, their records, and furnishings were located throughout the downtown area.

In mid-June, the old courthouse was auctioned off in three sections. Only about 50 people attended. The northern addition erected in 1891 was sold for $26.00, and the older addition on the south went for only $5.00. The original courthouse had been purchased by the contractor for $50.00.

Some sources claim the new courthouse was built in the Romanesque style. Others call it Spanish Revival style resembling the old missions of California.

The total cost of the new courthouse, including electrical work, painting, heating, ventilating, vaults, and new matching furnishings came to $100,843.00. While this sum was over budget, it is significantly less than the cost for such a structure today.

The cornerstone of the courthouse was dedicated on September 28, 1898, with approximately 500 spectators present in the midst of a drenching rainstorm. The formal dedication ceremonies were conducted by the Tuolumne Lodge No. 8, F. & A. M., and orator of the day, attorney Frank D. Nicol.

photo courtesy of California State Library

During the following year, a three-story building was erected of steel, concrete, and brick. The foundation of the courthouse required 500 barrels of cement, 300 wagon loads of gravel, and 150 loads of sand. It was estimated that 800,000 common red bricks were used during construction. They were made by the San Joaquin Brick Company, which erected a manufacturing plant where suitable clay had been found on the Charles Brusie ranch in Sonora. The hallways were laid with imported tile, the interior walls faced with fine local Columbia marble, and the open staircases were built with ornate iron railings. The exterior was finished off with eighty-five thousand yellow Roman pressed brick and sandstone from Colusa County.

Mosaic tile was laid in the grand entry, and in the hallway of the second floor. It is the same tile you see today. These were said to have come from Holland, although research casts some doubt on that. The marble wainscoting and steps that you see in the halls of the courthouse was quarried near Columbia.

This new courthouse featured several modern conveniences of the turn of the century. (I wonder if that means the bucket of drinking water and handy communal dipper were upgraded at that time.) It was designed to have an elevator, but the elevator was never installed. Instead, people must climb forty-eight steps to reach the third floor.

The Seth Thomas clock was installed in June, 1899. The bell weighs 1000 pounds and the weights attached to the bell weigh 1300 pounds. The remainder of the clock works was proportionately heavy. The clock was started to keep time at 5:00 p.m. on June 22, 1899. The Union Democrat reported that the bell could be heard at a considerable distance. Throughout the years, the accuracy of the clock has been a topic among residents in the downtown area, and remains so today. In the early 1930's, the weights and crank were replaced with electricity.

The lower floor of the courthouse originally housed the Sheriff's Office, Superintendent of Schools, and the boiler room that originally housed a steam boiler. The second and third floors of the courthouse originally housed the Offices of the Treasurer, Clerk, Assessor, District Attorney, Judge's chambers, law library, the Superior Courtroom, and the County Supervisors' Chambers.

A large room at the southeast corner of the lower level was not designated for any immediate purpose, and patent steel roller shutters were installed upon its four windows for protection. When the Tuolumne County High School District was formed in 1902, the first classes were held in that room for four years until they were moved to the newly constructed high school on Shaws Flat Road in 1906.

In the evening on Thanksgiving, November 30, 1899, all of the 232 electric lights in the courthouse were turned on at once, and many local residents came to witness the event.

The contractor and Board of Supervisors declared the courthouse to be fully completed and the work was accepted on July 23, 1900.

On January 1, 1981, the courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Accordingly, regulations must be strictly adhered to in order to preserve the historic value of the building when considering repairs or improvements. The courthouse remains in use.

I was fortunate in that my last day trip before the Covid-19 pandemic hit was one to Sonora. I took several photos and was able to learn  more about this county's history. As for my recent book, this courthouse plays a role in both Cole which is part of the Cupids and Cowboys series, and A Lawyer for Linton which will be released later this month. Because both stories are set before 1898, the courthouse referred to would have been the old one.

Most of Cole is set in Stanislaus County to the west of Tuolumne County. However, after he buys ranch land in Tuolumne County, this is the courthouse where he would have recorded his deed and registered his cattle brand. To find this book's description and purchase link, please CLICK HERE.


In A Lawyer for Linton, After graduating from law school, Samantha travels to Sonora in 1885 to apply for a law partnership offer. The old courthouse is where she'll get her first courtroom experience. This book is still on preorder. To find the story description and link, please CLICK HERE.




(The information in this source was taken from two articles written by County Historian, Carlo M. De Ferrari, in Vol. 39, No. 1, July-Sept., 1999, and Vol. 39, No. 2, Oct.-Dec., 1999 of CHIPSA, the Quarterly of the Tuolumne County Historical Society. )




Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Autoped

by Shanna Hatfield

We've all seen them tootling down the street. If not in person, then in photos, memes, or movies.

Scooters are a fun way to travel.

But if you think scooters are something new, think again.

The original motorized scooter debuted in 1915, manufactured by the Autoped Company of Long Island City, in New York.

The driver stood on a platform with 10-inch tires to operate the machine. The scooters featured 10-inch tires and could be steered with handlebars attached to a long steering column. By pushing the handlebars forward, it engaged the clutch. A lever controlled the throttle. By pulling the handle bars back, it disengaged the clutch and applied the brake.

The steering column could be folded onto the platform to store with greater ease. An air-cooled, 4-stroke, 155 cc engine rested over the front wheel. The scooter came equipment with a headlamp and tail lamp, a horn, and a toolbox. Although an efficient way to travel, it was not widely distributed.

Advertised as "Step on and Go!" the scooter was like an enlarged child's scooter with an engine. It wsa the first mass-produced scooter in the US. Though some reports claimed it could reach 35 miles per hour, it was said to feel "unsteady" when pushed higher than 20 mph.

Later, Everready Batter Company purchased Autoped and added a battery-operated version.

“The Autoped is an ideal short distance conveyance for business or professional men or women to and from their places of business; for women to go shopping or calling; for physicians to make their regular daily calls or to answer hurry calls; for the older children to go about quickly for outing or school; for servants when they are sent on errands; for grocers, druggists and other merchants for quick delivery purposes; for commercial salesman to call on the trade; for employees to ride to and from work; for collectors; repairmen; messengers, and for anybody else who wants to save money, time and energy in going about. All will enjoy the comfort and pleasure of AUTOPEDING.”

This photo appeared in The Retronaut and was captioned:

Lady Florence Norman, a suffragette, on her motor-scooter in 1916, travelling to work at offices in London where she was a supervisor. The scooter was a birthday present from her husband, the journalist and Liberal politician Sir Henry Norman.

 Scooters weren't just for the working class, or nobles, but anyone who liked the idea of such an innovative, novel velocipede.

The U.S. Postal Service used the scooters for delivering mail. Police departments also utilized them.

Delinquents saw a means of escape on the slim machines, using them as getaway vehicles to speed down alleys while terrorizing the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. The hoodlums were dubbed as the Long Island Bogtrotters. 

However, the majority of those who purchased the machines used them recreational purposes. Oddly enough, a vast majority of the advertisements were geared toward women, just as the ads that created a buzz half a century later when Italian scooters were all the rage. 

The Autoped might have been a bit ahead of its time, but it is such fun to see those old images and realize everything old is new once again. 

USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. 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.

Website: http://shannahatfield.com

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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Economical Victorian Housekeeping by Kristin Holt


Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping

by Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author

of Sweet Romance set in the Victorian-era American West

Victorian Woman's Sphere

During the nineteenth century, the United States held specific ideas about what constituted a "Woman's Sphere." Home was her domain, her responsibility, and her realm of influence. Because society held these home-centered ideals, girls were trained from an early age to fulfill this role. Not only did girls work alongside their mothers to learn every housekeeping nuance, but Victorian media (newspapers, cook books, books of housekeeping wisdom) emphasized a wide spectrum of housekeeping knowledge and importance. Book publishers and institutions (such as the Boston Cooking School) capitalized on filling the gap between home-instruction and this most highly valued profession: wife and mother.

Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping. Illustrated Image at the head of a column: "Women's Sphere"; Grand Junction News of Grand Junction, Colorado. December 1, 1894.

Housekeeping: More than Housework

Housekeeping included far more than scrubbing floors, cleaning the wallpaper, and laundering clothes and linens. Women were charged with creating the best possible living from allotted household funds. Household spending covered everything from heating and cooking fuel to groceries to clothing.


There are women to whom small economies, little improved ways of caring for things, never occur, but who gladly avail themselves of any knowledge they might gain. Such a woman will rejoice to know that her carpet sweeper will last much longer and will work more satisfactorily if the wheels are oiled occasionally ; that her wringer, if the screws are loosened when it is put away, will also take on a new lease of life ; that in the course of a year she may save several dollars if she drives a nail on which the stove hook may hang, and see that it is hung there, and is not left on the stove, where the handle is sure to burn and drop off.

~ The Burlington Free Press of Burlington, Vermont. September 12, 1881.

Economy in Victorian Housekeeping

Women's work was nothing if not repetitious and sometimes backbreaking.  Note that the following article, "Young Housekeepers Should Always Follow These Rules," includes a "regular day for washing and one for ironing." Last among this list of Rules: "Allow no waste of any sort."

Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping. Young Housekeepers Should Always Follow These Rules. From Buffalo Enquirer of Buffalo, New York, December 21, 1900.

Economy in the Victorian Kitchen

In an era of rampant dyspepsia, housekeepers were indoctrinated in the importance of sanitary and healthful cookery. Women learned kitchen science from their mothers, schools, and cookbooks. They also learned the essential Victorian value: waste not, want not. "If you do not waste anything, you will always have enough. ~source"

Note the high attitude in the following 1879 article. If a wasteful American housekeeper didn't realize her follies before, this set-down would bring all sorts of crimes to her attention.



Americans are an industrious, money making people, but they are not economical. Our housekeeping is proverbially wasteful, allowing leakage at every point, sufficient in the aggregate, in many households, to support a European family. Some writer (we know not to whom to give credit,) has made the following extensive, but by no means complete enumeration :

Much waste is allowed in cooking meats. Unless watched, thee cook will throw out water in which meat has been boiled, without letting it cool to take off the fat; or she will empty the dripping-pan into the swill-pail. The grease is useful in many ways.

Again, bits of meat are thrown out, which a French cook would convert into excellent hash.

Flour is sifted in a wasteful manner, or the bread-pan is left with the dough sticking to it.

Pie-crust is left over, and laid by to sour, instead of making a few tarts for tea.

Vegetables are thrown away which would be nice if warmed over for breakfast.

Cream is allowed to mould [sic] and spoil, mustard to dry in the pot, and vinegar to corrode the castor.

Good knives are used for cooking in the kitchen, silver spoons are used to scrape kettles, and forks for toasting bread.

Tea, roasted coffee, pepper and spices, are allowed to stand open and lose their strength.

Dried fruits not cared for in season become wormy, and sweet meats are opened and forgotten.

Vinegar is drawn in a basin, and permitted to stand until both strength and basin are spoiled.

Soap is left in water to dissolve, or more used than is necessary, and the scrub-brush is left in the water.

Barrels and tubs are left in the sun to dry and fall apart ; tins put away without being properly dried are rusted.

Molasses stands open and flies take possession.

Pork spoils for want of salt, and beef because the brine wants scalding.

Ashes are thrown out carelessly, endangering the premises, and being wasted.

Clothes are being whipped to pieces by the wind on the lines ; fine cambrics [sic] are rubbed on the wash-board ; and laces are torn in starching.

Table linen is thrown carelessly down and nibbled by mice ; is put away damp and mildews ; or the fruit stains are forgotten and the stains washed in or "set."

Table napkins are used to wipe dishes, and tea-pots are melted on the stove.

Lard is not well dried out, and becomes tainted, and rats destroy the "soap grease."

Bones are burned that might be broken and thrown into the compost heap.

Old shoes, woollen [sic] rags, and such accumulations are permitted to lie round loose instead of being composted for your favorite grape vines.

Sugar is spilled around the barrel, coffee from the sack, and tea from the chest.

Wooden boxes are used to take up ashes, then the box is pushed aside and forgotten. Many a family has been houseless [sic] and homeless in a night by such an inadvertance [sic].

Each of the above items is a trifle in itself--and yet the house where all these trifles are "happening"--just imagine what a place it would be! In these and many other ways a careless and inexperienced housekeeper will waste without heeding--nay, even without even knowing that she wastes. On the contrary, because she entertains but little company, buys no fine clothes, makes her own dresses, and cooks plainly, she may imagine that she is an exceedingly economical woman and a very excellent housekeeper.

~ Yorkville Enquirer of York, South Carolina, May 1, 1879


Despite the criticisms herein heaped upon the heads of wasteful housekeepers, many vintage sources support the idea that many women were excellent housekeepers--with surprising economy.

Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping. Save the Scraps--and what to do with them. Port Royal Standard and Commercial of Beaufort, South Carolina. January 20, 1876.

The next article (1891) focuses on economy in cooking, sharing not only affordable recipes for "plain cooking" but also the strategy of "saving every scrap (of food) and utilizing it." In the Victorian-era United States, "cheap" meant affordable and economical.

As a frame of reference, note that the "a man's food can be obtained at the cost of twelve cents a day" approximation, adjusted for inflation, is $4 (in 2020). Sumptuous living at 45 cents (1891) is about $13 (in 2020). 

Wow... do you eat sumptuously on thirteen dollars a day?

Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping. Economy in Cooking: The Art of Saving Every Scrap and Utilizing It is Known. Part 1 from Pittsburgh Dispatch of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. February 8, 1891.
Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping. Economy in Cooking: The Art of Saving Every Scrap and Utilizing It is Known. Part 2 from Pittsburgh Dispatch of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. February 8, 1891.
Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping. Economy in Cooking: The Art of Saving Every Scrap and Utilizing It is Known. Part 3 from Pittsburgh Dispatch of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. February 8, 1891.

Kristin Holt | Economical Victorian Housekeeping. Economy in Cooking: The Art of Saving Every Scrap and Utilizing It is Known. Part 4 from Pittsburgh Dispatch of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. February 8, 1891.

Quality advice, isn't it? Even for modern times?



What do you think?

Is it possible to eat sumptuously on $13 daily, in today's world?

Did you garner useful concepts to put to work in today's kitchen?

Please scroll down and comment. Discussion is the best part!

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