Monday, December 30, 2019

What Were The Bounty Hunters Really Like in the Old West?

What Were The Bounty Hunters Really Like in the Old West?

 Was there really true to life bounty hunters in the old west or was that something made up by those who wanted to sensationalize the west? The truth is there were real life bounty hunters that came in all shapes, sizes and genders in the west. During the time of the western frontier, a bounty might be paid for anyone or anything, not just outlaws. Indians and animals were also hunted for whatever reason.

At one time in the early days of the west, the Mexican government paid men to collect scalps. That included men, women and children. Of course, a man's scalp was worth far more than a woman's was.

Professional lawmen did not appreciate the bounty hunters. They mostly clashed during this time period. The dime novels portrayed the bounty hunters as heroes because it was what the public wanted to read. 

Many people believed the full-time bounty hunters made their living collecting the bounties, but the truth was it was rare that you'd find a true full-time bounty hunter.

Here's what is fascinating. Most bounties were collected by the lawmen or private detectives. Stagecoach, railroad and mining companies had their own men to confront those who stole from them. 

For instance, the lawmen like US Marshalls and deputies only got paid for exspenses and were paid fees for certain services like arrests, to serve a warrant or collecting fines. So, they had to earn extra wages and did so by by collecting bounties, which gave them a decent or above average wage.

 Then there is the local man who braves it up to try to capture a wanted criminal in their town. Many acted like judge, jury and executioner by gunning a man down. Some freelance bounty hunters never were able to capture their prey.

Many war veterans who were hardened from battle knew they could earn a good pay by collecting bounties. In my series, The Pistol Ridge Series, all of the men were hardened by the war of the states. Ten years later they were still trying to figure out where they belonged. Several of the men made a living by hunting bounties. That is, until they got to Pistol Ridge. 

My series is a story of those hardened soldiers who were not looking for a place to call home but found it in Pistol Ridge. 

The Pistol Ridge Box set is an old west historical western romance featuring the origins of Pistol Ridge that started with two books in the Proxy Bride series.

Pistol Ridge is a small remote mining town near Nevada City, Montana Territory, where a dirty sheriff had held the town hostage by ordering his thugs to steal a percentage of the business owner’s earnings to keep law and order. But, the women, holding a secret society, went looking for a hero. They found him in Abel Rosevelt and cleaned up the town with the help of seven men who fought in the war to help their former commander. These are their stories:

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Well, this wasn't my Christmas. We had 70 * in Texas for Christmas.  But I love snow. Of course, I love Texas snow because we never have to shovel it. It's usually gone by 10 the next day and just fun. Unless you have to drive in it.

And of course, being a good Texan, if it does snow, we do have to drive in it because we might run out of food in a day and starve. LOL

Can you believe the New Year will be 2020? A new decade. So I am getting a little off the beaten path, and going to ask you if you have a word for the new year?

Usually, I get a word for the next year. Last year, for 2019, my word was intentional. And I have to say, I did pretty good with that and put out 12 books last year.  I hope you enjoyed some of them.

This year - the word the Lord gave me was Love.  And it is tied to 1 Corinthians which I separated into 12 parts.  So for January, 2020, Love suffers long and is kind.  That will give me plenty to work on and keep in the forefront of my mind.

Look back in history to the past.  1920s is known for the decade women's fashion became modern and threw off the restrictive fashion. The Jazz age, prosperity ended in the Great Depression, bootleggers, Flagpole sitters, marathon dances.  Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone, and the author F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It was a monumental decade. One can only wonder what 2020 will bring.

In the 1820s - James Monroe was elected as president.  We had the Monroe doctrine that warned European nations to stop colonization. Generally, it was an era of good feelings. Land in the northwest was cheap. And was known as decade of Andrew Jackson.

So what are your predictions for 2020? Do you have a word for the new year?

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a wonderfully Happy New Year.
Patricia PacJac Carroll

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

THE CHRISTMAS ORGAN by Marisa Masterson

It's Christmas Eve. Darkness has fallen. Already, you've had your traditional meal. As a farm family, milk is handy and oysters that come in the small wooden barrel are available this time of year. So your family has oyster soup and a variety of cookies you've baked over the last few days. Gingerbread, tea biscuits from the recipe your mother brought with her from Cornwall, sugar cookies--they've enjoyed them all. Tomorrow you will bring out the Christmas pudding, but tonight is Christmas Eve.

Pioneer Log Villiage, Reedsburg, WI
with Rebecca Hovde
Like many families on that evening, you will attend church. First, though, you will have your own family celebration. Smiling at your little ones, you head to the organ. It's time to sing carols.

Pump or reed organs were a common sight in many homes by the late 1800s. In fact, several million were manufactured in the United States and Canada between the 1850s and the 1920s. They were especially popular in small churches in the west because they could give an organ sound without the large pipes associated with a real organ. The portal version, a harmonium, could be transported easily with a traveling pastor who had a wagon or buggy. Some were even made to fold up into a suitcase for easy carrying. Of course, these would have fewer keys and only a few stops.

Stops! I'd guess you're wonder what those are. They sit above the keys and allow for a variety of sounds when pulled out. This would be similar to the effects you can get with an electric organ. However, these sounds would be produced by reeds. The performer would need to pump the pedals to get any sound from the manual--the keyboard.
Parlor organ with decorative top

Some of these instruments were smaller than a piano and fit nicely into a small house's tiny parlor. They were easy to order in the more isolated areas of the country. Grander examples of the reed organs were beautiful pieces of furniture with the high top placed on it. Imagine that top decorated for Christmas with the family gathered around it. Mother played the carols while Father and the children sang along. In my novel, A Farmer for Christmas, I made sure to include a parlor organ that was used on Christmas Eve.
Tops often had mirrors and even inset cabinets to store music.

This was the way I grew up. As a preteen, I sat at the  beautiful pump organ and played the carols on Christmas Eve as my family sang along--the third generation to do that. We even had a set of old hymn books for the occasion. Only after singing and reading the Christmas story in Luke did we open gifts. As was traditional in the family, gifts were always opened on the 24th. That dated back to family traditions started in Cornwall.

Tea Biscuits (The Hunter Family Recipe from Cornwall)

4 c flour
1 c sugar
1 c shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 c raisins
1 teaspoon baking soda added to 1 cup milk (1 tablespoon lemon juice to milk to sour it)
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix all dry ingredients together cut in shortening mix to pie crust consistency. Add raisins and coat well. Add in milk and mix it all up.
Turn out on floured area. Roll out to 1 inch thick. Cut and put on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350* for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not brown.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author
We are on a countdown to the days getting longer, Christmas and a New Year. It can be a busy stressful time. It can also be a source of joy, love, and friendship. So let's countdown the days.

The day this post goes live is Dec. 18. three days before winter officially begins and the days will start getting longer. On Dec 18, 1860, the Rocky Mountains News had this piece of news:

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December 19: Daily Mining Journal, Black Hawk, CO 1865

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Dec 20: Rocky Mountain News, Denver, CO. 1869

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Dec. 21: Colorado Daily Chieftain, Pueblo,CO. 1872

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Dec. 22: Colorado Transcript, Golden, CO. 1875

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Dec 23: Colorado Springs Gazette, 1876

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Dec.24: Boulder News and Courier, 1880

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Through the years, the Holidays have been celebrated in many ways with each group of people bringing their own special ways of making the time special.

I enjoy reading the newsprint of those days gone by. In many ways, it brings a connection to all those who came before and who will come after.

From December 25 to January 1 we continue to prepare by keeping our warm holiday thoughts as we prepare for the coming year. While I don't make resolutions not have goals. Instead, I have intentions for my continued journey on this planet.

I wish everyone a wonderful season and a prosperous New Year. And just in case you think I don't write about the season, the story, "Gift of Forgiveness" is about what is most important to me; love and forgiveness. In this scene, the hero, John, has stopped by the widow Nettie Hascall's home and is telling her two children a story. Here is the short excerpt:

 "You are staying for dinner, aren't you John?" Albert asked.
"Yes, please stay," Ila added
"How can I turn down such a lovely request; that is if it is okay with your mother."
"We would be honored," Nettie responded, heading into the kitchen to start the meal. Walking away, she heard John telling the children some story about a mule. Fascinated, she turned around to listen.
"Well, it seems this mule was acting sick, so the owner decided to do something to make it feel better. Of course, you know mules, it decided that it didn't want anything to do with the medicine, so it jerked away and ran down the road a few blocks."
Nettie could see the two devouring every word. John did have a way with telling stories. Nettie smiled at the joy on her children's faces. Nettie still mourned Jacob, but she and the children needed to move on with their lives.
"So what happened?" Ila asked, eyes wide with interest.
"Wouldn't you know it, the mule just ran those few blocks and then passed out," John paused, looking from Albert to Ila and back again. "The folks all gathered around making suggestions. One person said they should twist his tail."
"How would twisting his tail help?" Albert questioned, a perplexed frown furrowing his brow.
"I doubt it would either, in fact, it didn't, so the next person said to give him flour, and still, another said to use gun powder and on and on came suggestion after suggestion."

What a story John was weaving. Nettie found herself grinning as she listened. Even she wanted to know what was going to happen.  
Purchase from Amazon

Wishing everyone a wonderful Holiday and a prosperous New Year.
Doris Gardner-McCraw
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

More Cowboy Sayings - Two Shakes of a Lamb's Tail

I didn't find out until I went to agricultural college that lambs were born with long tails. When they are about a month old, farmers dock their tails. This is due to the fact that as they get their teeth in and play, lambs will grab each other by the tail and cause injury to one another. And because they are livestock, in injury may go unnoticed for a day or so and in that time, get infected. So farmers dock the tails of lambs for sanitary reasons.

However, when they are born and before the tail gets docked, you'll see them shaking their tails very fast. In fact, it's hard to count how many times the lamb actually shakes its tail before quitting. So the meaning of this cowboy saying is that something is done quickly, or will be done quickly.

For example: I'll be there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

Though the exact origin of the phrase is unknown, it is seen in publications and newspapers as early as 1840, and used in such a way, that it seems part of the common vernacular. What's interesting is that around the time of the atomic bomb, "shakes" was defined as an actual measurement of time - 10 nanoseconds. Although of course, it takes longer than 20 nanoseconds for a lamb to actually shake their tail.

On average, P. Creeden releases 2-3 stories each month. Interested in learning more? 
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Gifts of Christmas

by Shanna Hatfield

Last holiday season, I was thinking about how special it would be to write a series of sweet romances that focused on specific gifts of Christmas.

I'm so happy to share those books with you this holiday season.

There are three books in the series.

Although each book can be read as a stand-alone, a fun little detail is that each story ties to one of my other series, too!

Today is the release day for Gift of Grace, book one in the series.

Sometimes the best gifts
Are those freely given from the heart . . .

Ready to begin a new life far away from the sad memories of the Civil War, J.B. and Nora Nash head west on the Oregon Trail. They settle into the small community of Pendleton, Oregon, on a piece of land where they’re excited to build a future and their dreams together.
A devastating tragedy leaves them both reeling as they draw further and further apart. Nora blames J.B. for her unhappiness while he struggles through his own challenges. Only a miracle can bring them through their trials and reunite them for Christmas.
Together, will they discover the gift of grace in this sweet holiday romance brimming with hope, history, and abiding love?
Gift of Grace is the first book in the Gifts of Christmas series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome romances, featuring precious gifts given straight from the heart.

Much to her dismay and surprise, J.B. stepped onto the bed with his damp boots and picked her up, holding her tight against his chest. Without missing a step, he walked off the other side and toward the bedroom door.

Nora clenched her hands into fists and pounded on his shoulders as he carried her into the kitchen.

The big galvanized tub they used for taking baths sat near the stove and she could see steam rising from the water. She had no idea what J.B. intended to do, but whatever it was she would fight him until her last breath.

“Put me down, you brute!” she demanded, shoving against his solid chest.

“Whatever you say, Nora,” J.B. said, dropping her into the tub.

Water splashed over the sides onto the floor and stung Nora’s eyes. She spluttered, pushing hair out of her face then rubbed her eyes.

Before she could stand and step out of the tub, J.B. reached down and ripped off her nightgown, sending buttons flying into the air. Appalled, she watched in horror as he wadded the ruined cloth into a ball and tossed it into a basket with dirty clothing sitting on the floor near the stove.

He glowered at her, pinning her in place with an unrelenting gaze. “You stink and your hair looks like you rubbed bear grease over your head. Take a bath and wash your hair. Maybe by the time you finish, you’ll feel better. At the very least, you’ll smell better than something left to rot on the side of the road.”

Shocked speechless by his actions, she remained as still as stone as he went into the bedroom and returned with the tray of tea and toast he’d prepared.

“When you get out of there, you eat that toast and drink the tea,” he ordered. “If you don’t, I swear I’ll force-feed you.”

Defiantly, Nora lifted her chin. “I’ll eat when I feel like it.”

J.B. picked up a bar of perfumed soap and a wash cloth then bent down until his nose nearly touched hers. “Either you start scrubbing or I’ll do it for you.”
Nora grabbed the soap and cloth from him. If looks could have killed, James Benjamin Nash would have inhaled his very last breath in that moment.

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.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

How 19th Century Advertising Shaped Christmas Traditions by Kimberly Grist

Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book was an American women's magazine published in Philadelphia from 1830 to 1870 and played an important part in shaping the cultural customs of the 19th century.

Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” was the editor from 1837 until 1877. When Hale started at Godey's, the magazine had a circulation of ten thousand subscribers. 

By 1860 it had 150,000 subscribers and was the most popular journal of its day. Hale used her influence to advocate for the establishment of a national Thanksgiving Holiday and other various causes including advocating for the education of women.
Best known for the fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, other articles and editorials helped shape many of the traditions practiced by American families today.

The above picture was based on an image of Queen Victoria and her decorated Christmas tree previously published in The Illustrated London News in December 1848. 

A revised version was copied in Godley's in 1850 and removed what was referred to as royal trappings from Victoria's tiara and Prince Albert's mustache to remake the picture into an American scene. It was the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America and was reprinted in 1860. By the 1870s, a Christmas tree was common in the United States.

Appearing in the December 1890 issue in Godey's Lady's Book, Hale wrote. At no time in all the year is the heart so filled with joy, or the home so replete with genuine home love and home feeling as during the time that leads us up to the holiday season. Christmas Day is, to be sure our day of days-the most joyful of all the season; but surely every home-mother at least will agree that the days of preparation before Christmas are filled with a quiet, stead, soul stirring happiness that could not be exchanged for any singe day of revelry. 

For is it not during the weeks that precede the holidays that we prepare gifts for our dear ones? Are we not busy planning and scheming and perhaps denying ourselves some coveted thing that we may enrich those we love? 

In Europe, it was fashionable to chop off the tip of a large fir to use as a Christmas tree. However, since this practice prevented the tree from growing taller and made it useless as a timber tree, statutes were enacted to limit people from having more than one tree. With the introduction of the "goosefeather tree" made in Germany as early as 1845, this problem was resolved. Goose feathers were plentiful and what was perhaps the first artificial tree began to be produced as a cottage industry as the alternative to cutting a live tree. 

Meanwhile in America, cut live trees were the cherished way to make the holiday come alive. German immigrants brought their portable feather tree with them to the United States and introduced the Victorian feather Christmas tree. However, the practice of using artificial trees did not become popular until Sears Roebuck first advertised artificial trees for sale in their 1913 catalogs.

New Release

A Fresh Start for Christmas 

(Spinster Mail-Order Brides Book 14)

In my new release, A Fresh Start for ChristmasMemphis Rose Griffin loves teaching at Counting Stars Children's Home. The girls and staff are like family, and working here ties her to her mother, whose last wish was for Memphis to take her place as teacher. But something's missing. Now at the age of twenty-eight, her teenage dream of having her own family has all but faded.

Until her pastor and the orphanage founder come with a proposal that will change her life forever. Should she become their first candidate for their new matchmaking venture? Though grim, at least her life at the orphanage is familiar and certain. Can she risk an unknown future with a man she's never met?

The last thing thirty-three-year-old Mike Montgomery wants is to marry again, especially to someone he's never met. His family has other plans for him and completes the application without his permission--even changing some of his preferences to make him seem more intriguing. Can two star-crossed candidates dare to dream again? 

Counting Stars Orphanage – Collier, Tennessee – Spring 1891
“What are men to rocks and mountains?”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
The calico curtains fluttered in the morning breeze and ushered in a quick chorus from multiple frogs welcoming a warm spring day. Twenty-eight-year-old teacher, Memphis Rose Griffin, fought the urge to smile at the longing looks from at least four of her younger students. For a moment she was transported back in time as a young girl sitting in this same room.
Except for the recent whitewashing of the log walls and the transition from benches to double-seated desks, the room was the same. Formerly a surveyor’s cabin, the city delegated it to the orphanage twenty years ago as a school.
She glanced toward the black-painted wooden wall serving as a chalkboard. Written in neat script was the same lesson her mother taught years ago. The creaking of the door drew her attention to the arrival of her friend and co-teacher, Daisy, who’d arrived at the orphanage fifteen years ago during the yellow fever epidemic. A perpetual optimist, Daisy’s bright smile transformed her small face.
“Mrs. Shelby asked me to come and relieve you. The pastor’s here and wants to speak with you.” Daisy pushed an escaping auburn curl behind her ear.
“Does he have anyone with him?” Memphis spoke softly.
“No, not this time.” Daisy blew out a breath. “As much as I love children, it’s a relief, since we’re protruding at the seams as it is.”
“I was in the middle of explaining why Washington thought it wouldn’t be a good idea for our flag to be similar to the enemy’s.” Memphis inclined her head toward the various aged students sitting two to a desk.
Daisy wrinkled her nose toward the writing on the board. The flag of the United States of America. The stripes represent the original thirteen colonies. “You know how much I hate history. Do you mind if we transition to geometry?”
“There are scraps of paper stacked on my desk.” Memphis’s mouth twitched. “Why not recreate the five and six-point star?”
“I like the way you think.” Daisy grinned. “You’d best be on your way.”
Memphis’s boots made quick taps along the plank floor, then out the door. A blue heron took flight from a group of cattails nestled on the bank of the nearby pond and disappeared in the thicket of willow oaks. She waved both arms to cut through a swarm of mosquitos. As loud as the frogs were last night, you’d think they would have done a better job eliminating these pests.
Continuing on the clay path, she passed a field where teenage boys were working with a volunteer to prepare the ground for corn and other crops, which helped the orphanage sustain itself.
 “Good Morning, Miss Griffin.” Many of the teens paused from their work in the vegetable garden and waved.
“Morning, boys.” Memphis placed her hand over her stomach and struggled to catch her breath due to the restraints of her corset. From her viewpoint, the two-story log house, which had been her home since birth, stood proud against the blue sky. She hurried the pace, lifting her skirts to avoid muddying her hems and made the trek to the front door of the building. Originally a two-story dogtrot style, the open hall in the middle was enclosed to increase the square footage.
Memphis opened the door and passed the large parlor, converted years ago to a nursery for infants and toddlers. Her boots made quick taps across the split log floors into the library, which doubled as the orphanage’s office.
Reverend Otis Jackson rose from his chair and extended his hand. “Good morning, young lady.”
“Have a seat, Memphis Rose.” The matron of the orphanage poured an aromatic brew into a china cup. “The pastor brought us a new blend from a friend of his, who produces tea in South Carolina.”
“What a wonderful treat. Thank you for sharing it with us, Reverend.” Memphis accepted her cup, which now included a spoonful of honey. “Are we celebrating something?”
The pastor retrieved his handkerchief and wiped his receding hairline. “Mrs. Shelby and I were doing a bit of reminiscing.” His shaggy eyebrows drew together. Then he stared into the distance. “We were discussing how thankful we are that God has brought us through tragedy and met our needs. Imagine a widow with no children of her own blessed to raise so many?” Mrs. Shelby glanced toward a painting of a bearded man, depicting Abraham staring into the starry sky.
Memphis leaned back in her chair. “It was Mama’s idea to call the orphanage, Counting Stars, wasn’t it?”
“It was prophetic. As war widows, we thought ourselves limited. I wish your mother could see the newly expanded wing.” The orphanage matron offered a watery smile. A ray of light from the window illuminated her mother’s best friend’s pale complexion and brightened her blond hair mingled with white, giving her an angelic look. “More specifically, we were reminded of the day we met Reverend Jackson after the Union army took control of Memphis.”
“The commander didn’t know what hit him the day your mother and Mrs. Shelby drove their wagon loaded with orphans into camp and demanded the return of their milk cow.”  The pastor chuckled. “Your mother looked like she could deliver at any moment. She wagged her finger, shaming us for taking milk from children and threatened to stand there until the cow was back at the farm.”
“The army took our chickens and other livestock. They cleaned out our root cellar too. Thank goodness they missed the vegetables still in the ground. The only reason we still owned a horse was the poor nag was barely putting one hoof in front of the other,” Mrs. Shelby huffed. Not for the first time, Memphis noted the worry lines etched in her face.
“I don’t recall hearing the story before.” Memphis stirred her tea absently. “I can picture Mama standing her ground.”
“You’re a lot like her. Same blue eyes, although your hair is gold to her red.” Reverend Jackson chuckled. “She possessed the temper to match. Eventually, she got what she wanted.”
“I was never certain what caused the commander to return the animal. I expected he didn’t want to contend with a woman delivering a baby in his camp.” Mrs. Shelby offered a half-smile.
“True, but don’t think the wagon full of orphans didn’t affect him. Most of us had children of our own.” The pastor’s voice dropped off.
“Thankfully, the cow was returned. You were born two days later.” The matron patted Memphis’s arm. “Your mama would be proud of the woman you’ve become. You know I assured her on her death bed you would always have a home with me.”
“Yes, I remember. And I promised I would take her place as teacher.” Memphis shuffled her feet on the well-worn carpet.
“You’re an even better teacher than she was if that’s possible.” Reverend Jackson leaned forward. “Mrs. Shelby and I’ve been discussing your role here for quite some time. We don’t think your mother meant for you to take her place indefinitely. She was giving you a purpose to  get you through the next few years.”
“What are you saying?” Memphis clutched the skirt of her faded calico dress.
“One of our goals is to prepare the children for a life outside the orphanage. We do our best by educating them and teaching basic skills. You know as well as anyone how successful our apprenticeship program has been for the boys.” The pastor placed one hand on his knee.
“Our problem is how to offer our girls more opportunities.” Mrs. Shelby stared at Memphis over her teacup. “The children are brought up in the same manner you were. They learn to help in the kitchen and to read and write. The girls are taught basic homemaking skills and child-rearing.”
“You are a wonderful young woman, an excellent teacher and role model. We want to enlist your help to be the first to volunteer in a new venture.” The pastor puffed out his chest.
“You’re building another orphanage?” Memphis asked.
“No, dear.” The matron placed her cup on the table. “We’re starting a matchmaking service, and we’d like to begin with you.”

About Kimberly Grist:

Kimberly Grist is married to her high school sweetheart, Nelson, who is a pastor in Griffin, Georgia. She and her husband have three adult sons, one with Down syndrome, and they have a passion for encouraging others with family members with special needs. 

"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 with an emphasis on Faith, Friends and Good Clean Fun. 
Connect with Kimberly:

Monday, December 9, 2019


’Tis the season, and with so much going on, I needed something meaningful to share, but something quicker, taking less research, than my usual posts.

As I worked my way through my already-searched information I’ve gathered for my latest book I’m working on, I realized I needed to say, “Thank you, Google Satellite.”

Google Maps is a feature I use often when researching a new book, especially if I am writing about real places and I need to figure distance from Point A to Point B.

It is not top secret information that when the scenario for Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs was set up, we sought for the series to take place in a hypothetical town. That said, we used many of the features – topography, climate, infrastructure, etc. – based on the town of Salida, Colorado and environs. In addition to silver mining (many of the stories involved miners bringing in brides using a matrimonial agency), there was a railroad – a very handy thing to have available when a large mine needs to ship ore to a smelter in another locality for processing.

The actual railroad through that area that follows the Arkansas River (Yes, it is the same river that travels through the state of Arkansas until it flows into the Mississippi.) is the Denver & Rio Grande. (More on that in another post.) What is great is, although there was no Interstate 50 at the time my stories in my latest trio of books in this series takes place, those railroad tracks that were built in the 1870s through 1880s are still in the same location today, and they show up on Google Maps --  particularly in the Satellite view.

Sometimes the highways built in the 1900s follow the rails graded and built at a different time. Since the Denver & Rio Grande turns west of its north-south corridor into the mountains at Pueblo (a larger Colorado city that predates even Denver), on Google Maps, I found the current highway route between from Pueblo and Salida by way of Cañon City. On the regular map view, I can toggle between driving, bicycling, and walking to get an idea how a rider on horseback or someone driving a wagon might have traveled and how long it took. Using this tool along with estimates of 30 miles per day for cavalry horse travel, or up to 50 miles a day for a horse with rider in ideal conditions, I can estimate distances and days of travel.

However, what I especially found helpful was the Google Maps feature of satellite view. In this instance, using this map view, I found the interstate diverges from the railroad route for several miles. Between Cañon City, Colorado and just east of Salida. Interstate 50 and the tracks are not even within sight of each other. 

Highway construction engineers would have had quite a time finding space for a cow path let alone a four-lane highway while getting through one of the scenic wonders of the Rocky Mountains known as the Royal Gorge. The train engineers back in the late 1870s had a tough enough time finding enough ground for road bed. At one point, a special hanging bridge was built so the track could continue along the side and OVER the river (also a future blog post). What finding the route of the rails on Google in satellite view allowed me to know was what my train travelers could have expected to see that I did not at the time I made the trip between those same cities in a car.

By finding the locality where the rails split from the road, I was able to zoom in a little and follow the tracks and the Arkansas River. I could see the topography from the air and follow the ground covered by the railroad until it reached the destination I had decided upon in my story.

Starting with my Two Sisters and the Christmas Groom and continuing through Nathan’s Nurse which will be released on December 27th, and a third book to be published later next year, one common element will be a train crash just east of Jubilee Springs due to a small avalanche that blocks the tracks. It will cause a minor derailment of the coal car and two passenger cars.

Using Google Satellite, I found a place – Longfellow Gulch – that served well as an avalanche site. I was able to study the snippet taken of the Google Satellite map to determine how close the rails were from both the mountains to the north, and the river to the south. Also, since I had townspeople traveling as close as possible by wagon and sleigh to help rescue the stranded passengers, I was able to visualize how I could write that scene.

Two Sisters and the Christmas Groom is available on Amazon as an ebook both for purchase and available for Kindle Unlimited readers. The scenes in this book lead up the discovery of why the train is late and includes some scenes of the rescue effort. To find the book description and purchase link, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Nathan’s Nurse, which will be released on December 27th, also involves this train wreck, particularly how it affected two of the brides who traveled to Jubilee Springs to marry. To find the book description and purchase link, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

I hope my readers enjoy these two sweet romance novels set around Christmastime (although Nathan’s Nurse continues past that holiday). I hope all of you enjoy a safe and wonderful Christmas.