Monday, July 29, 2019

Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Ever hear the proverb: "Never look a gift horse in the mouth" and wonder what that means exactly?

Because horses have served humans for hundreds of years, it shouldn't be too surprising that the saying can date back in print as far as the 1500's, but may have been spread orally before then.

The purpose of the saying is that checking for flaws in a gift is a rude thing to do, and makes the receiver look ungrateful to the giver. But why horses?

Just as long as people have had horses, it's been difficult to tell exactly how old a horse is just by looking at it on the outside. Also, unscrupulous people will sell a horse to someone and lie about their age. So along the way, people discovered that the horse's teeth tell the story of how old the horse is, to a degree. It's not an exact science, but you can learn to be fairly accurate within a range.

Here's a simplified version of how to tell the age of a horse by their teeth:

With a young horse, you can estimate the age based upon how many baby teeth they have vs. adult teeth. Once the horse is beyond ten years old, we use Galvayne's Groove to help us determine the age.

Galvayne's groove is a groove that appears at the last sent of incisors and starts at the top when the horse is about 10 years of age. At fifteen, it will work it's way halfway down the tooth, and all the way down the tooth by twenty. After twenty, the groove begins to disappear again, and will be gone completely after 10 years.
How can you tell the difference between a six-year-old horse and a thirty year old once the groove has disappeared? The incisors on the older horse will appear long and jut out - which is why we call an old horse "long in the tooth."
Aging horses is more of an art, since using this method will only give you a rough estimation of the horse's age. Still, it can help you determine the difference between an 8 year old horse and an 18 year old one fairly easily. However, it would be hairsplitting to try to say that a horse is 8 years old, rather than 9.

The proverb, however, is to help guide us in manners. If we get a gift, we shouldn't look for the flaws in it. At least, not in front of the giver...

Check out her latest book:
What’s a good Catholic girl to do? When Clenna finally sees her dream of becoming a Pinkerton Detective agent becoming a reality, she’s struck with the news that to become one, she has to marry her training agent—at least temporarily...

Friday, July 26, 2019

Who Remembers Flashcards?

In my current work-in-progress, my heroine is a new teacher who travels from the east coast to Washington Territory in 1866. Not being a teacher myself, I brainstormed what she would bring to help her in the teaching of a classroom of different grade levels of students. Of course, she’d assume the school would have slates, chalk, and reading primers for the enrolled students. But most teachers prepared with more than the basics. I thought back to my grade-school years and remembered one of my favorite aids in early grades was a set of flash cards. I loved using them to test myself on anything from spelling words to mathematics.

Then I wondered how long teachers had been using flash cards. A quick Internet search informed me flash cards have been around for more than two hundred years. Until the late 1700s, paper was too expensive to create and using paper for a teaching aid wouldn’t have been practical. But I discovered that a British woman wrote teaching aid books authored Mrs. Lovechild’s Three Hundred and Thirty-six Cuts for Children. This volume, published in 1803, included what were called reading cards to supplement the experience in the classroom and was one of the first to be used in the United States.

Flash cards grew in popularity and in variety of subjects because poor people who couldn’t afford to attend school, due to of the need to be employed, could self-educate at home.

Years later, another expert emerged who reinforced the use of flash cards. Favell Lee Bevan was the third eldest of the co-founder of Barclays Bank, David Bevan, and was responsible for teaching the children on her father’s estates. She developed her own method of teaching that was contrary to the established hornbook method. Her middle grade children’s book about education titled Reading Disentangled (published 1834) included flashcards with a picture and the word plus the initial letter or sound (early phonetics). Miss Bevan became Mrs. Thomas Mortimer in 1841 and all her publications bear her married name. Her Peep of Day series of children’s religious books were wildly popular (500,000 copies sold and translated into 37 languages), and she was considered a literary sensation.

So, when you’re facing your young child or grandchild over a stack of vocabulary flash cards, think of the woman named Favell who embraced this teaching method.

My published title with a teacher heroine is titled Ione's Dilemma which is part of the Grandma's Wedding Quilt series.
Calling off her wedding made Ione Forrester the subject of Des Moines gossip so she accepted a teaching job in rural Texas. Carpenter Morgan Shipley is deluged with responses to a mail-order bride ad but the new schoolmarm catches his eye. Too bad she wants nothing to do with his courting. 
Amazon buy link

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Wolves and Ranchers

AS the country expanded and people moved west, ranchers set up in the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana. They amassed large ranches and brought in cattle and sheep. One of the many hardships they faced was the wolf.

Just how much can a wolf eat? You might ask.

Contrary to the view that wild animals are peace loving creatures who only eat for food, ranchers often find cattle or sheep killed and not eaten. Sport killing exists in the animal ranks. Just ask any cat who terrorizes the local bird population.

And then there are those who mark themselves for history. Such is one wolf in particular known as Three Toes. The big wolf got his name from a trap that pinched off two if his toes. Speculation exists to the wolf's history. Some thought he used to be a pet or came from the north and had been a sled dog, but the animal had no fear of humans.

What did he do? He began his reign of terror in 1912 and was finally caught in 1925 by Clyde F. Briggs the government hunter. The animal is attributed to over $50,000 in loss of livestock 
($250,000 in today's money), killing 66 sheep in one night just before his capture.

Three Toes territory ranged from North Dakota to Eastern Montana. He killed sheep, cattle, and horses and that is with a bounty on his head and over a 150 people trying to stop him.

Throughout history, other wolves have ravaged countrysides around the world, making their place in history, some as man killers. 

The wild west was often a dangerous land with outlaws - human and animal. 
I hope you enjoyed this tidbit of history and Three Toes story. I don't advocate the use of traps or poison, but I can see that the ranchers were up against a dangerous and costly foe. 

I write sweet historical western romance with a bit of fun and faith and always a promise of a happily-ever-after.

A Surprise - Christmas in Texas - is FREE July 25-27 and always free on KINDLE UNLIMITED.   Enjoy.

You can find all my books on Amazon

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Portrait of a Small Western Town by Marisa Masterson

Where to set my next book? It's becoming a familiar question for me. For my upcoming book, A Bride for Bode, I searched for a small town west of the Mississippi that had some kind of rapid change caused by the railroad. I found just what I was looking for in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

The Lewis and Clark expedition first recommended where Nebraska City sits as an excellent site to transport goods on the river. Nearby, Fort Kearney was built and serviced travels heading west as well as providing protection to the surrounding area. The town that grew there first went by the name of the nearby creek--Table Creek--and did provide a convenient spot for river traffic. In 1854, the city officially became known as Nebraska City and was important to soldiers and overlanders as a way to get from one side of the Missouri River to the other.

Leaving the ferry.

Heading west.

What interested me was the change that happened to the town when the Burlington and Missouri Railroad included it on its route. This happened in 1871. Businesses started popping up quickly that year. Banks were established. Even one of the most significant life insurances companies in that new state came into being in Nebraska City. This frantic business activity was what I used as the motivation for my hero agreeing to a proxy marriage in A Bride for Bode. Just look at the change in the appearance of the town's buildings by comparing the two photos.

Even before the railroad came, the city had been laid out to accommodate the transportation of good. Planned in a grid, it allowed for everything to lead to and focus on the river.

Ferries like the Lizzie Campbell ferried soldiers, 49ers, railroad passengers and goods across the Missouri River. River traffic continued after the railroad came, but a large part of the ferrying involved moving the 100+ railroad cars across the river.

The ferry that replaced the Lizzie Campbell in order to transport 
train cars.
The pontoon bridge wouldn't be built until the late 1880s and the cars needed to be unhitched and hauled across the river before they could continue on either east or west.
What an incredible site that must have been to watch!

Check out my newest book set in Nebraska City during this business boom.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Role of a Parson on the Battlefield

As you might imagine, the Civil War saw many men in need of spiritual guidance and care. A battlefield is a horror most of us will never understand and battlefields of long ago were bloody as the fighters often looked each other in the eye. Many harrowing tales have been shared over the years of Civil War battles that weren't civil at all.

Men were haunted by what they saw and what they had to do on the battlefield. The wounded needed more than medical care - they needed the spiritual guidance only a chaplain could provide.

But further than the obvious responsibility of ministering to those who were gravely injured or trying to recover, soldiers needed the strength and faith of a man of God as they lived through uncertainty and fear on a daily basis. This quote is from the National Archives and it clearly captures the truth of the important role played by the clergy. 

"Clergymen of all faiths and denominations served with distinction in both Union and Confederate armies, overseeing the moral and spiritual well-being of the troops. Such care proved essential to soldiers who faced the constant uncertainty of violence and death on the battlefield and reinforced the religious underpinnings of a society in which faith played a much more immediate role in daily life."

Clergymen were sent along with regiments on their campaigns and many actually played a leadership role in battle doing double duty as needed. Most often, they were stationed in hospitals or headquarter locations and dispatched as needed.


Men of God who chose to serve in the war left families behind just as the soldiers who enlisted or the officers who were assigned to the companies they belonged to. They left wives, children, mothers, and fathers. They left their flocks behind to serve men who would need them desperately. Doing the Lord's work wasn't always safe and these men were brave to follow their calling to such a dangerous place as a battlefield.

Dedication to serve those who need you is inspiring when it's so visible in others. Trusting God's wisdom and will in the face of death and destruction is another thing most of us don't have to choose to do.

In my series, The Parson's Daughters, Albert Barnesdale is called from the lap of luxury to be a parson. His faith sustains him through difficulties and happiness alike. When he's killed in the Civil War ministering to those who need him as he's called to do, his family is devastated. They're able to move forward because of how he prepared his daughters to live and walk in faith.

Find the complete series boxed set on Amazon that includes the story of Faith, Hope, and Charity his three daughters along with the story of how it all began when he met his one true love, Helen.


Annie Boone writes sweet western historical romance with a happy ending guaranteed in every single story. Inspiration comes in many forms and Annie finds more than one way to make her stories entertain and inspire.

To connect with Annie, find her on Facebook or her website.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Families at Sea by Barbara Goss

Families at Sea: the Captain's Wife

By Barbara Goss

Maine captains often took their wives and families along on long voyages. In 1880, the Searsport census showed that 36 wives from that small town were sailing with their husbands! Despite old superstitions that having a woman on board was bad luck, many seamen liked having the captain’s wife aboard; sometimes it meant that the seamen would be better treated.

Women generally had little to do with sailing the ship or communicating with the crew. One wife, however, noted in her journal that she regularly served as librarian to the seamen, distributing books on Sundays from the American Seamen's Friend Society lending library. Sometimes the captain’s wife took care of sick crew members, and some wives who were good at mathematics helped with the navigational calculations when star or sun sights were taken. There are stories of women who took over the ship in emergencies and saved many lives.
Generally, though, the captain’s wife pursued her own activities: sewing, embroidering, writing, reading, and sometimes laundry and special baking. They took care of their children and served as school teachers. Many women collected botanical specimens as a hobby: a good pastime for someone cruising the world. Some wives collected sea mosses and other plant samples from the sea.

Some women went to sea with their husbands just after they got married. Two newlyweds from Searsport, Captain Lincoln Alden Colcord and Jane French Sweetser Colcord, sailed the bark Charlotte A. Littlefield around the world. Three years later, when they returned home, they were parents of Joanna, born in the South Seas, and Lincoln, born during a storm off Cape Horn. Jane Colcord sailed with her husband on most of his voyages over the next twenty years, often with one or more of the children.

Chart detail of North Pacific Ocean, noting birth of baby

Families at Sea: Children

During the nineteenth century, at least 60 children from Searsport were born at sea. Some ships had a midwife aboard, but often the captain had to help deliver the infant. Captain William H. Blanchard served as midwife for three of his and his wife Clara’s children. This chart detail shows where the daughter of Captain Phineas Griffin of Searsport was born in the North Pacific Ocean, November 4, 1874.

Growing up at sea was both exciting and boring. Being at sea on a glorious day was wonderful, as was visiting far away ports and countries. On the other hand, children were not allowed to wander around the ship, and typically could not leave the quarterdeck. During storms, they had to stay inside the cabin, where, if conditions were very bad, the glass portholes were covered.

Children read books, played games, did lessons, and attended to their pets. Dogs were popular on shipboard, but children also took care of birds, goats, sheep, and chickens, and one family even had a Himalayan pony. Some captains built swings, and one built an eight-foot toy sailboat on deck for his children.

Though children could not go to school while at sea, their mother or father taught them. Children growing up at sea had real-life opportunities to learn about geography, history, mathematics, business, and science.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw, writing as Angela Raines
Hazy view from Pikes Peak
photo property of the author

Glimpses by Helen (Hunt) Jackson
As when on some great mountain-peak we stand,
In breathless awe beneath its dome of sky,
Whose multiplied horizons seem to lie
Beyond the bounds of earthly sea and land,
We find the circles space too vast, too grand,
And soothe our thoughts with restful memory
Of sudden sunlit glimpses we passed by
Too quickly, in our feverish demand
To reach the height,--
So darling, when the brink
Of highest heaven we reach at last, I think
Even that great gladness will grow yet more glad,
As we, with eyes that are no longer sad,
Look back, while Life's horizons slowly sink,
To some swift moments which on earth we had.

From the book"Poems" by Helen Jackson
Little Brown and Company 1908
First appearance in publication September 19, 1872, New York Independent
Colorado Springs from Pikes Peak
photo property of the author
The thing I love about the poetry of Helen Hunt Jackson is the musicality it has when it's read aloud. Not read as one usually reads poetry, with the breaks and breaths at the end of the line, but read as prose. If you read this poem aloud, pausing at commas or reading through the complete thoughts the true beauty of this piece comes through. When you read this piece, read it through more than once to get the feel for what Helen is trying to say. Try different combinations of breaths and thought to combine and see what you get. The beauty is, each time something different arises out of the different combinations. I believe that true poetry never has the same story, the same meaning twice. You can read it at different times and it will touch a different chord each time you read through the poem.
Sometimes when I am reading, I try to hear the voice of a favorite actor or singer saying the words. Then, of course, I try using different voices or even singing the words. It is a way to keep learning, hearing, and understanding.
As you read this or any poetry, keep an open mind and heart. This is the poetry that was popular during the time period we write about. Helen was favorably compared to many of the poets of her time. According to stories, she was actually considered the best, male or female. I always found it interesting that Helen was so popular during her lifetime. It was so much so that she was able to make a living as a writer. Emily Dickinson, her childhood in Amherst, on the other hand, did not become popular until her death. Now the tables have turned and Emily is the better known of the two. Each had their own style, and each wrote beautiful pieces of work.
There is a story that Helen wanted Emily to publish her work, but Emily was hesitant. Helen persisted and there is an anonymous poem written by Emily that Helen had a hand in getting published. Helen suggested that Emily make her the executor of the poems so that she could make sure they were published in case of Emily’s death. Unfortunately, Helen preceded Emily by nine months and three days.
The next time you are looking for something do to, search online for some of Helen's poetry, or better yet, find a book of her poems, and start reading. To me, the gift of the poet is the joy of finding something new every time I read their work. Give poetry, especially Helen’s, a try. It never hurts to try something new and different. Reading the older writers doesn’t make it good or bad, it is what you receive from the gift of the author. To me, that is why poetry will never grow old.
I challenge you to read a poem and then write one of your own or give cento poetry a try. For those who don't know, Cento poetry is taking lines from other poems and using them to create something new.
Of course, I couldn't let a post pass without mentioning how the classics play into my own writing. In my latest 'Lockets & Lace' novel, "The Outlaw's Letter", my heroine is passionate about Homer's Odyssey.  Here is a short excerpt:
      To Hetty's mind, Boggs was the worst kind of human. He seemed to take pleasure in tormenting her, knowing she couldn't leave; the ropes securing her had seen to that.
     "Mighty pretty rainbow," his voice whispered in her ear. "I always loved rainbows."
     "I don't believe you," Hetty spat. "How could someone who does what you do…"
     "See, you judge so harshly," Boggs interrupted, adding, "Just so you know, I have you here so Grant will see you, so he knows…"
     "Knows what? How do you know he's coming?"
     Boggs didn't make sense. There was no convincing him that holding her hostage was a waste of time.
     Hetty closed her eyes, shutting out the vision of freedom. What would Odysseus do in this situation, the hero she revered from Homer's Odyssey, Hetty wondered. "Who am I kidding, he would not be tied up in a mountain cabin."
     She must've spoken out loud for the voice continued in her ear. "You never know, Grant could find himself in your situation, except I've found out he's worth a lot more dead."
     At hearing Boggs' statement about Grant being worth more dead, Hetty started to panic. The more Boggs said, the more frightened Hetty became.  

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 

Monday, July 15, 2019

What's the Largest City in the Old West? Depends on the Year

 By Sophie Dawson

As I was doing research for my Pinkerton Matchmaker books, the population of the western towns and cities peeked my interest. The Westward expansion began after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. By Westward, they meant anything west of the Appalachian Mountains. That’s rather far east in our way of thinking today. For my research, I was more interested in the populating of the Western states as we know them now. 

There was migration west of the Mississippi before the discovery of gold in California, but more occurred in the later half of the 19th century. Plus there was a rather large war in the 1860’s which slowed the growth of the West and took men from those territories and states. 

In the Pinkerton Matchmaker series, the couples have cases they need to solve and most of them take place in the West. Being aware of the population of a real town or fictional one can make a difference in a story. I found US census lists of the largest cities in 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1890. Most, of course, are east of the Mississippi River. The highest percentage are east of the Appalachian Mountains.

New York City is, of course, the largest city in all the decades. The first city west of the Mississippi, if you can really call it west though the state is so I include it is New Orleans, LA. It’s number 6 in 1860, though it drops steadily ending in 12th place at the turn of the century. St. Louis, MO bounces around between 4 and 9 during the 5 decades. 

San Francisco, CA begins 15th in 1860 and rises to 8 in the 1890s. To me this is the first true western city with a high population though it was only 56,802 in 1860. That makes sense with the gold rush of 1849. Only one other western city makes that first list in 1860; Sacramento, CA. 

I was surprised when I read the top 100 of 1870. Coming in at #100 is the town where I grew up; Burlington, Iowa with 14,903 people. I was surprised until I remembered that Burlington was the hub of several railroad companies and a crossroads of many tracks heading west. CB&Q and Burlington Northern were both important railroads of the time. In Healing Love Cottonwood Series #1 the main character, Lydia changes trains in Burlington. A little nod to my heritage.

I was surprised to find only Kansas City, MO, St. Joseph, MO, and Leavenworth, KS the only additions to the more westerly cities. Sorry Minnestotans, I’m not counting St. Paul as it’s east of the river.

By 1880, there were eleven cities west of the Father of Waters. This time I’m counting the two MN cities. Denver finally makes the list at #50, with 35,629. 

The count was up to 20 in 1890. Texas, Washington, Oregon, and Utah all finally made the list. 22 was the number on west of the Mississippi at the turn of the century. 

To me it’s instructive to realize that it took 40 years for the states and territories to grow to have 22% of the largest cities in the continental USA. Most of the towns of the West were just that, towns, not cities, even those whose names are familiar to us; Deadwood, Laramie, Virginia City, Tombstone, Santa Fe, Dallas, Seattle, Denver, etc. Some have continued to grow and others have faded away, but each town, no matter how large or small, played its part in the growth of the American West.

An Agent for Rilla Pinkerton Matchmaker #29 is available in Kindle, KU and print on Amazon. Follow Rilla and Morgan as they solve the clues to find the stolen gold.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Teachers in the 19th century

While I was researching information about teachers in the late 1800's, I found the most fascinating information, including a set of rules for them. 

Below is a picture that shows a one room school house in Jefferson County, Colorado, in 1880. Pictured is the teacher, Miss Nellie Stilling, and her students. This was a typical school in many rural areas in the 19th century where a single teacher taught five to eight grade levels, all subjects. 

In most cases, the teacher would arrive very early to start a fire in the pot belly stove, and prepare a hot meal for the students, clean her classroom (most teachers were unmarried women). All this was in addition to her usual duties of preparing lessons and grading papers. 
According to "Cowley County Teacher," in this Kansas county, "wages for female teachers, in 1877 and 1878 averaged $25.99; for male teachers, $31.52 per month" (Cowley County Teacher). 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Summer Puddings

by Shanna Hatfield

A while back, Captain Cavedweller and I were out of town and happened upon an enormous antique store filled with all sorts of goodies.

One of the items I had to have was this ring of roses mold. I just love it.

It made me think of Victorian molds and how popular molded desserts were back in the day.  Victorians used molds made of hammered copper, tin, stoneware and ironstone.

Isn't this tin melon-shaped mold fun?

Victorians molded everything from butter to ice cream, but today I thought it might be fun to share a few Victorian pudding recipes, perfect for summer!

One quart of milk, three tablespoonfuls of cornstarch, the yolks of four eggs, half a cupful of sugar and a little salt; put part of the milk, salt and sugar on the stove and let it boil; dissolve the cornstarch in the rest of the milk; stir into the milk and while boiling add the yolks and a cupful of grated coconut. Flavor with vanilla.

Take rather stale bread--baker's bread or light home-made--cut in thin slices and spread with butter. Add a very little water and a little sugar to one quart or more of huckleberries and blackberries, or the former alone. Stew a few minutes until juicy; put a layer of buttered bread in your buttered pudding-dish, then a layer of stewed berries while hot and so on until full; lastly, a covering of stewed berries. It may be improved with a rather soft frosting over the top. To be eaten cold with thick cream and sugar.

Two eggs well beaten, one cupful of sweet milk, sifted flour enough to make a stiff batter, two large teaspoonfuls of baking powder, a pinch of salt and as many cherries as can be stirred in. Boil one hour or steam and serve with liquid sauce.
Cranberries, currants, peaches, cherries, or any tart fruit is nice used with this recipe. Serve with sweet sauce.


One quart of berries or any small fruit, two tablespoonfuls of flour, two tablespoonfuls of sugar; simmer together and turn into molds; cover with frosting as for cake, or with whipped eggs and sugar, browning lightly in the oven; serve with cream.

One quart of ripe fresh huckleberries or blueberries, half a teaspoonful of mace or nutmeg, three eggs, well beaten, separately, two cupfuls of sugar, one tablespoonful of cold butter, one cupful of sweet milk, one pint of flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Roll the berries well in the flour and add them last of all. Bake half an hour and serve with sauce. There is no more delicate and delicious pudding than this. 

After spending her formative years on a farm in eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing, snapping photos, or trying new recipes, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:
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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Be it Ever So Humble...Home is Where the Soddy Is. By Kimberly Grist

While researching lifestyles in the west for teachers in the late 19th century, I was fascinated by the various living conditions they endured as they rotated their boarding with various families on a month to month basis.
In 1862 the U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act which permitted any twenty-one-year-old citizen or immigrant with the intention of becoming a citizen to claim up to 160 acres of land in the Great American Prairie. After paying a filing fee, requirements included building a home within six months, farming the land and living on it for five years. Upon meeting these conditions the ownership of the land would be passed to the homesteader. 

People came from all over the world for the opportunity and it is estimated that by 1900 over 600,000 claims had been filed.

MN- Laura Ingalls Wilder Dugout Museum
A fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I'm familiar with her account of living in a house made of sod from her book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, but wanted to dig a little deeper. (No pun intended) 😊

Homesteaders, also called “sodbusters,” looked for land with a stream or creek and rolling hills which would serve as windbreakers. Without trees or stone to build with many began by building dugouts which were spaces dug into the side of a hill. These shelters could be made quickly and were more habitable than tents.

Many of the pioneers had spent their life savings on oxen, wagons and travel expenses and couldn't afford to purchase lumber. And because prairie sod was abundant and free many expanded and built a sod house in front of the dugout.

Living in a house with dirt floors and sod walls was difficult and to battle the filth, walls were sometimes covered in newspaper and the ceilings in muslin. The covering added color and helped to prevent dirt from falling and deterred varmints such as rats and snakes from entering the home.

The positive side to living in a soddy was that due to the thickness of the walls the house was cool in summer and warm in the winter and held up well to winds and storms.

Most homesteaders cut bricks that were 18 inches wide by 24 inches long. Approximately 3000 bricks would have been needed to build a 16 by 20-foot house. Each brick would have weighed around 50 pounds each. In order for the bricks not to dry out, homesteaders learned to only cut what they could use per day. Freshly cut sod bricks were laid root-side up (green side down) in order for the roots to continue to grow into the brick above it. Over time, the bricks grew together to form a very strong wall.

 Even though wood was more affordable and readily available after the advent of the railroad, people continued to build and live in sod homes into the middle of the twentieth century.

A Promised Land (Lockets and Lace Book 16)

Twenty-year-old Meriwether Walker enjoys the challenge of teaching her varied group of students in the one-room schoolhouse. What she doesn't like is the nomadic lifestyle that comes with it as she rotates boarding with families in the community on a monthly basis. Meriwether longs for a home of her home but she doesn't see an end to her plight-until the letter from the attorney handling her uncle's estate arrives.

When Meriwether discovers she has inherited her uncle's ranch, the one she loved to visit when she was a child, she quit her job and moved without hesitation to Trickling Springs, Texas. But when she arrives deed in hand, she discovers her decision has put her at odds with Jake Harrison the man who leases property from her uncle and seeks to buy the land and water rights for his cattle. They butt heads, tempers flare, but Meriwether stands her ground. Yet she can't deny the romantic sparks that fly, and she can tell it's mutual. When he comes courting, can she trust Jake or is his real attraction the property and the water rights he needs, and she has inherited?

Connect with Kimberly:
Combining History, Humor and Romance with an emphasis on Faith, Friends and Good Clean Fun. Kim's stories are written to remind us how God can use adversity to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him and give us the desires of our heart in ways we may never expect.