Friday, February 28, 2020

Mining Business Brings Luxuries To Virginia City

When writing a story, I often refer to a series of book titled Images of America (insert city name). What I particularly like is seeing how a town progressed from clapboard construction to masonry or brick buildings within a few years--often as a result of a fire sweeping through the town. The horrible event happened in a high number of cities--large and small.

From the business signs shown in the pictures, I can get a sense of the ethnic makeup. Seeing the density of businesses sharing a wall means that someone might have to walk halfway down or all the way around the block to go to a rear entrance--like for a delivery. Sometimes the streets are really wide. Often a well is seen in a downtown section. You can get a sense of the height of structures, as well as the architectural style. When I lived in Texas, I liked seeing the old buildings containing the year it was built somewhere at the top near the roof. Now, I look for those indicators everywhere.

My latest story, An Agent for Liana, is partially set in Virginia City, Nevada, which is a good example of a boomtown that became permanent. A large body of gold and silver ore (the Comstock Lode) was struck in 1859. Prospectors flocked to the area, and initially, the miners lived in tents and flimsy shacks. But as the strike was determined not to be placer (where just anyone would find flakes in a stream) but instead deep in the earth (where heavy machinery was needed to extract it), the way of mining changed. But people had already built shops or houses there at the edges of the holes miners went into to do their work.
source: Wikipedia

An 1875 bird’s-eye view map of Virginia City shows huge piles of tailings located on lots between streets. Conveyor belts ran from smelters or stamp mills to deliver the remaining rock once the precious metal had been extracted. Buildings are evident right next to the mounds. Businesses are built on both sides of the street where tracks for ore cars disappear underground.

The city itself is built into the side of Mount Davidson. Pictures in the Images book show the stepped foundation and inclined dirt streets. Walking from the bottom of the city to the top would involve a change in elevation of several hundred feet.

The Comstock Lode was so rich that the majority of the businesses in town performed tasks that supported the mining operation (stamp mills, foundries, assay, freighting, railroad, etc.) The city operated a gas plant that allowed for streetlights and gas heating for homes. Water and sewer lines provided modern utilities for shops and residents in a town with a population of approximately 7,000 people in 1877.

I recommend this series of books for when you want to see how life was back then.

An Agent for Liana released today and is part of the popular Pinkerton Matchmaker series. I hope the blurb entices you.

Loner Dale Claybourne spent the last five years as a dedicated and decorated Pinkerton agent. Confident in his abilities, he’s not afraid to face down thieves, swindlers and even murderers. But he quells at the mandate of having to train a female agent and, even worse, to marry her before receiving his next assignment.

Gregarious Liana LaFontaine served as a seamstress for the Denver Pinkerton Agency. Now she yearns for a taste of the adventurous life of being an agent. Her ability to speak several languages and her ease with getting people to talk are her strongest assets.

Impulsive by nature, Liana jumps into situations she doesn’t have the experience to handle. Dale fights his growing admiration for this French beauty while keeping close to guard her safety. At odds over almost everything, the pair has to solve the mystery of who is stealing from a Virginia City saloona task made even harder because of the wild attraction that shouldn’t be present in a marriage of convenience.

Free in Kindle Unlimited
buy link

Thursday, February 27, 2020

What's My Line?

The old TV show where a celebrity panel asked questions to find the contestants job.
I am having fun in my latest series, Bridgette's Bridal Registry,  coming up with jobs for my ex-outlaws. Bridgette came up with her first scheme to entice young men to come in out of the badlands and life of crime and she would split their bounty with him. Plus, she is a lawyer and represents them so they can get a reduced sentence. When they've served their time, she gives them their half of the bounty and helps them in get a new job or business.

In the Bridal Registry series, she add a mail-order bride to the mix. After all, a man with a good woman is less likely to return to their outlaw ways.

So far, I came up with a carpenter. You can see the the men with saws, hammer and square.  Anyway, Del is a successful carpenter who makes chairs and tables, and furniture.  

Notice the hats these two are wearing. Derbys or bowlers were the most common hats worn in the west. The cowboy hat that we know didn't really take off until much later.  

So, my latest ex-outlaw, is going to make hats. Bowlers, and Boss of the plains which were a wider rimmed hat, were the hats of choice.

They were made out of felt. Which is made from the undercoat fur of beavers and rabbits. Later wool and other furs were used. The soft undercoat is plucked and as the fir is stirred it binds together to form a mat. 

The mat is then rolled and dunked in hot water where the felt is then placed over a form where the material takes the shape of the form. It can be dyed. 

One of my other men runs a sawmill. Sawmills were essential to growing cities so that they could build with lumber and not just logs.

Another one of my young men became a land agent. They surveyed land, collected rents, and held land deeds and maps.

All my guys have had successful business so far.  And I have had fun trying to think what they could do back in the day.  

Jobs have sure changed. 

If you want, send me ideas of jobs you would like to see characters have in historical books. 
If you enjoy puzzles - here is one of Book 1 in Puzzle Bridgette's Bridal Registry. 

Enjoy the day.
Patricia PacJac Carroll

Author Patricia PacJac Carroll Newsletter

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Last summer, I visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia. That trip inspired the heroine in my next novel.

While there, I learned about a mystery that will never be solved. Thomas Jefferson had two daughters who disappeared from history.

They didn't die in infancy like four of his children nor did they pass away during childbirth like his daughter Mary. These women, Beverly and Harriet Hemings, disappeared when they chose to pass as whites.

No actual image of Sally Hemings exists.
This from an artist's imagaination.
In a different world, the girls would have been nieces to Jefferson's wife, Martha. It's a twist that belongs in a soap opera. Just imagine it--
Man marries and gives a home to his new sister-in-law. She's his wife's half-sister. When the wife dies, he notices the half-sister is now a good-looking teen so he decides to start an affair with her.

Sally Hemings was the helf-sister. When Martha married, she was gifted Sally Hemings's mother and the children she had. Some of those children had been fathered by Martha's father, Sally included. Sally's mother had been fathered by a white man who left her to his "white" daughter in his will. So, the idea of gifting the black children could be seen as part of a tradition.

Printed in a newspaper during Jefferson's presidency.

An interesting part of this story happens in France. Sally goes to France with one of Jefferson's daughters. It's there that Sally agrees to start the years' long affair with Jefferson. In France, Sally wasn't considered a slave and could have left. Instead, she set out her demands before consumating the relationship. Future children's rights were a part of that.

So, when they were adults and trained as seamstresses while living at Monticello, Sally's daughters chose to enter the white community. Leaving to live as whites meant that these sisters had to assume new identities. (Interestingly, they were never freed.) The girls weren't able to have contact with their family because of it. Their brother, Eston, also chose to live in the white community, moving to Wisconsin.
Eston Heming and sons.

History has no record of Beverly and Harriet once they left Monticello apart from something their brother said. According to Madison Hemings neither the girls' connection to Monticello nor their "African blood" was ever discovered.

After learning about these women, an idea started in my mind. From that came my next novel, The Teacher's Star. In it, a young teacher chooses to pass as white and leaves her mother to move to Wyoming.

Rustlers and a mystified marshal. A treasure map and a missing child. Why does nothing make sense to this smart school teacher?

Forced into the role of a U. S. marshal, Delia Perkins keeps that a secret and goes on with her life as a teacher in the small town of Belle, Wyoming. After all, she's only a courier. While waiting for her contact, she's drawn to the man she's sure is a part of a gang of rustlers.

Roland Anderson juggles training both his horses and his daughter. The bad thing is that the horses are better behaved than his little girl. He has a job to do, but the new teacher is on his thoughts much too often.

Will Delia Perkins give him away before he can find and arrest the leader of the gang of thieves? When the two are forced into a sudden marriage, will Roland be able to catch the thieves without losing either his wife or his daughter?

This is one Valentine's Day that neither Delia nor Roland will soon forget.

Pre-order now at

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

On April 30, 1880, a meeting was held at the Congregational Church in Colorado Springs for the purpose of creating A Women's Temperance Auxilary to the Women's National Temperance Union. It began with thirty members. They elected Mrs. Shields as president. This is notable for Mrs. Shields was involved with the Women's Suffrage Movement in Colorado Springs in 1877.

That Weekly Register Call newspaper in Central City, CO on November 5, 1880, included the following news article:
The ladies of Leadville connected with the Women's Christian Temperance Union of that city, set up to the voters of the several voting precincts of that city, hot coffee, and a substantial lunch last Tuesday. Their example might be emulated by other Christian people with favorable results in helping many to abstain from the intoxicating bowl.

The 'Weekly Register Call' newspaper in Central City, CO. of January 18, 1889, had the following short piece:
There are in this country 48 national societies of women, with a direct membership of 500,000. The largest is the women's Christian Temperance Union with a membership of 210,000. Then follows the missionary, peace, suffrage, philanthropic and educational organizations. Twelve of them have joined with the National Council, which was formed to unite all the women societies into one great league.

Central City, CO. 1862
The organization was strong in Colorado. In many ways, the suffrage movement, which had been active almost from the beginning of the territory probably helped to embolden the women to make their sentiments known. There were occasions when women were a part of both, like the example at the beginning of this post. Since 2020 is the centennial of the 19th amendment, it seemed appropriate to write about the women in the west who followed their beliefs and made their wishes known.

On December 31, 1899, the Colorado Springs Gazette published a review of the work of the local W.C.T.U. Included in that article was the following:
The W.C.T.U. meetings were held in the women's library adjoining for a while, and afterward, in the room on the second floor, that was also used for the Chinese Sunday school. While occupying these rooms several transactions of interest occurred to the W.C.T.U. That of an all-day prayer meeting, a column secured in the Republic, now the telegraph, and a new interest aroused in the suffrage question.

The first improvement notice as a result of women's ballot, even on the school question, with that of taking the polling places out of alleys and carpenter shops to the high school building. During the campaign when Mrs. Susan T Dunbar was the successful candidate, editor B. W. Steel gave the free use of the columns of the Gazette, being an ardent supporter of women's suffrage, and himself subscribed the first $10 for carriages to be used on election day.

It was after Mrs. Malley's lecture in the fall of 1884 a gentleman said to me: "Why don't you organize a prohibition club?"
Ask a woman to organize a prohibition club question absurd! Not one of the 200,000 members of the W.C.T.U. could vote on other than school matters, save in Wyoming and Washington territories.

For those who would like the full 1899 article, I will gladly download it and send it to any who might be interested.

As you can see, it took strong, determined women to accomplish the settling and civilizing of the West. I have always been drawn to strong determined women in history and that has informed my writing. 

In my first novel "Josie's Dream", my character of Josephine Forrester was one such character. Below is an excerpt from that novel.

Turning, Josie noticed the older gentleman she’d seen with a young girl earlier. Getting Amos’ attention she called him over. “Amos, who is that over there?”
Looking in the direction Josie was pointing he asked, “You mean that old man?”
Yes, he looks angry. Didn’t he have a young girl with him?”
Yes,” Amos answered, “Mr. Pierson and his daughter don’t always see eye to eye, and she sometimes just walks off instead of making a scene.”
Will she be okay?”
Not much danger, most everyone here is getting ready to head over to the ball field for the start of the game.”
Josie grinned at Amos. Oh, how she’d enjoyed watching the games when she was younger, even taking part when she could. In that respect, she was more of a tomboy than even her family knew.
Why are you grinning?”
Just remembering,” she sighed, “so who are the contestants?”
Our team is playing a group of railroaders working the line west of us. It’s a big deal to both teams. Let’s just hope the game stays civil.” Amos grinned, knowing full well the crowd would probably get boisterous before the day was over.
Any girls ever been on a team?”
Girls? Why, not since I’ve been here.” Amos grinned, “But...why? Were you thinking of playing? I think they might have more need of your medical services before the day is over.”
Josie grinned, pleased with the way Amos turned the subject back to her profession, but oh how she wanted to run and laugh with abandon. Then she pulled herself up, she was a doctor, not some hoyden who was undisciplined. She’d worked hard to earn her degree, which reminded her, she needed to get back to her office and get ready for any accidents that might happen, not that she wanted anyone hurt.

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, February 18, 2020

Lockets and Lace Is Having a Party!

We're having a party and
YOU are invited!

Officially, it is a 
Lockets and Lace Cover Reveal Celebration

Seven authors who blog for Sweet Americana Sweethearts will be publishing books for the third round of the Lockets and Lace series. They will be sharing their beautiful covers and the preorder purchase links on Facebook.

Here is how it will work:
We first ask you to sign up for the Facebook
This will help you with reminders of when our event will take place, and, on Monday, when it is starting. Please click on the image:

If you have not already done so, we next ask you to join the Facebook reader group,
The cover reveal celebration will be held in the Sweet Americana Book Club reader group on
Monday, February 24, 2020
10:00am-1:30pm CST
(8:00-11:30am PST, 9:00am-12:30pm MST, 11:00am-2:30pm EST)

So, why are we holding the event on the Sweet Americana Book Club reader group instead of in the event?

Our group, along with several others to which our authors belong, have encountered problems with our readers (and sometimes our authors!) being put into 
"Facebook jail"
during an event.
Facebook, in their infinite wisdom, claims said participants are making too many comments, too fast. Facebook locks them out of the event, leaving them unable to post or respond to posts. 

We find there is less chance that our readers will be put into "Facebook jail" in a group. Is it foolproof? We Lockets and Lace authors don't know. However, we are going to give it a try. We want all our readers to be able to participate and have a chance to win the prizes that will be offered by us.

Please join us on Monday, February 24th and celebrate the upcoming releases with the 
2020 Lockets and Lace authors.

Friday, February 14, 2020

I'm Caryl McAdoo and I'm very pleased to welcome Christian author Jodie Wolfe to Sweet Americana Sweethearts with her new historical romance TAMING JULIA! (click title to buy at Amazon)
Here's the back cover copy to give you a good idea of the story:

In 1875, Kansas bachelor Drew Montgomery's sole desire is to serve God, but his congregation's ultimatum that he marry or leave, forces him to advertise for a wife by proxy.

Jules Walker strides into Drew's life wearing breeches and toting a gun and saddle---more cowboy than bride. After years on the trail, she's not exactly wife material, but she longs for home and family and will do anything to ensure Drew never discovers what she really is.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Here's a short excerpt to get a good sample of the author's voice:

Matrimony News, February 6, 1875 edition

Minister bachelor aged 27, height 5 feet 10 inches seeks genteel, honest and first-rate homemaker with a desire to serve God. Must be willing to marry by proxy and arrive in Burrton Springs, Kansas by May 1.

Burrton Springs, Kansas, Saturday, May 1, 1875

Dear Lord, please don’t let that creature be my new wife. Drew Montgomery swiped the sweat trickling a path down his neck and shoved the new hat back on his head. He squinted, taking in the lone passenger stepping from the stagecoach. At least, he thought it was a woman. He shielded his eyes from the sun, taking in the britches.

Britches? A gun belt strapped to a slim waist. He gulped. A rifle rested on her shoulder, and she wore a Stetson situated low on her brow. The figure shifted sideways, and Drew groaned, fearing his proxy mail-order bride had arrived by the look of all the curves. He squared his shoulders and crossed the street.

"Are you Montgomery?" Her coffee-brown gaze seared through him.

He snapped his gaping mouth shut and nodded. "Y-yes."

"Name’s Jules Walker." She shoved her hand into his and shook it so hard his teeth clattered. "I reckon, Jules Montgomery since we’re hitched." She waved a slip of paper in his face. "Got the paper here to prove it. So are you my husband or not?"

Drew caught a whiff of dirt. He coughed and cleared his throat.

She peered at him as if he were a chicken with one leg.

"I’m Drew." He managed to choke the words out. "Isn’t your name Julia?"

She scrunched her face, pushed her Stetson from her head, and allowed it to dangle from the string around her neck. Her brown hair scattered in disarray, slipping from a shoulder-length braid. "I can’t remember the last time I’ve been called Julia. Like I said, name’s Jules."

"But..." Drew let the word hang between them. No matter. "Where’re your things?"

"Got my knapsack and that there." She pointed to the top of the stagecoach. He expected to see a trunk, but a saddle rested there instead. What kind of woman brought a saddle into a marriage? What kind of woman showed up dressed like a man? No. No. Something was terribly wrong.

Here are a few more purchase links for Taming Julia:

Now let's find out a bit more about Jodie Wolfe!
This author creates novels where hope and quirky meet. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and COMPEL Training, she's been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests.

A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She's a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at

So you can make contact with her, here are social links for Jodie! Click on through and "Like", "Follow", and "Subscribe" where indicated! You'll be glad you did!
Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Goodreads   Amazon Author Page

And a personal note from Jodie!
I thoroughly enjoyed researching the era (19th Century) and the whole mail-order bride possibility. How could a woman answer an advertisement, choosing to leave all she'd known in order to take a chance on love and find a new path in life?

How did she choose to leave the familiar and step into the unknown with someone she'd never met?

The more I studied stories and clippings from the past, the more my mind kept spinning with ideas. What would happen if a pastor was dictated by his congregation that if he wanted to keep his job, he had to find a wife by a certain time?

What if the wife he advertised for was completely different than what he expected? How would he handle it? That nugget of an idea is what spurred the inspiration for Taming Julia.

Thank you, Jodie, for joining us today! I pray your new story will be blessed! And you, too! Readers, get your copy of TAMING JULIA today and y'all will be blessed as well!
Thank you for visiting Sweet Americana Sweethearts! We LOVE our readers! Y'all leave Jodie an encouraging comment!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Baked Apple Pudding

by Shanna Hatfield

In my recently released sweet romance Dumplings and Dynamite, the heroine is working (in disguise!) as a camp cook at a gold mine in eastern Oregon during the 1890s gold rush. 

Since I love to bake and collect recipes, it was fun to think about and research the foods she would have been serving a camp full of miners. While most of the offerings were basic (meat, potatoes, bread), when the manager of the mine leaves for a few days, she makes all kinds of treats for the men, endearing herself to them all. 

One recipe I found came from a cookbook published in 1883 called Clayton's Quaker Cook Book, Being a Practical Treatise on the Culinary Art Adapted to the Tastes and Wants of All Classes. Clayton was an acclaimed caterer who lived and worked in San Francisco during the late 19th century. 

The recipe for Baked Apple Pudding seemed perfect for something Hollin, my heroine, would serve the hungry miners. She serves it to them for breakfast, but you could make this to enjoy anytime. Here is a modernized version of the recipe.

Baked Apple Pudding

2 cups oat flour
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 cups milk
3 apples
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and core apples then chop into small pieces.
Beat sugar, eggs, butter, and milk together on medium speed. Stir in the oat flour and cinnamon then add the apples. Spoon into a greased casserole dish and bake for one hour, until set.
Serve warm with a sprinkling of cinnamon or a dusting of powdered sugar on top or syrup on the side, if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Here's an excerpt from the story:

Seth had held babies before, including Thane Jordan’s son who would be close to the same age as this little one.

Without waiting for permission, he gingerly lifted the baby. The cries ceased and the baby seemed content to have someone hold her. While he swayed from side to side, he studied the little one. Wispy curls of hair shared the same bright hue as ripe carrots. The baby’s eyes were blue, but Jemma Jordan had told him the eye color of a baby could change significantly by their first birthday. A small nose looked perfect on her pretty face. And the teeny girl he held had the sweetest little mouth, shaped like a rosebud. Her lips worked, as if she wanted something to suck.

A flash of pity swept through him for the baby’s mother who lost her husband and was now working for the contemptible Eustace Gilford. He had no doubt the woman had to rise in the wee hours of the morning to be able to cook a big breakfast for a camp full of miners. It had to be challenging to cook and care for such a newly-born child.

Mrs. Parrish hurried back into the kitchen, saw him holding the baby, and her pale skin blanched white.

“What are you doing?” she asked in a harsh, quiet tone. She moved across the room and took the baby from him with such haste, he had no idea how she’d managed to reach him in so few steps. He couldn’t be certain, but he thought maybe she’d forgotten about her limp.

“I hoped if I held her, she’d stop crying. It worked,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets, although he moved a step closer to the widow. “What’s her name?”


“I’ve never met anyone named Keeva. Is it a family name?” he asked.

The woman merely nodded. “It was her great-grandmother’s name.”

“Then I’m sure she’d be proud to have a beautiful little granddaughter to share it with.”

The woman looked at him over her shoulder with an uncertain glare, as though she couldn’t quite figure him out, before she turned back to the baby. “Breakfast is on the table. The men will be in soon. If you want something to eat, you best get out there. If Mr. Gilford didn’t mention it, the men pack their own lunches from the food on the tables near the door.”

“He did say something about that. Thank you, Mrs. Parrish.” Seth tipped his head to her then made his way to the dining room where men began trickling inside.

Eustace directed Seth to a chair at the far end of the long table. When everyone was seated, he pointed to Seth. “Meet our newest employee, Seth Harter. He’ll be drilling and blasting.”

Mrs. Parrish nearly dropped the pot of coffee she carried at this announcement but quickly recovered. Seth wondered how hard he’d have to work to charm the truth out of her. 

In spite of her appearance, something about her made him look forward to trying.

Wishing you a wonderful and very Happy Valentine's Day!

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:
Find Shanna’s books at:

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Train your mustache in the way it should go...the art of 19th century manliness

After the failure of many revolutions in Europe in the 1840s, facial hair lost its association with radicalism and by the late 1850s, became a symbol for masculinity, dignity and power.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME; Original image: Alexander Gardner—Library of Congress
Several influential leaders with beards, from left to right, Allan Pinkerton (1819–1884), the head of the Union Intelligence Services, President Abraham Lincoln, and Major General John A. McClernand (1812–1900).

During the Victorian age, a mustache was an essential accessory.

Perhaps influenced by the tradition from Europe where manservants were required to be clean-shaven, ornate beards and mustaches were worn by officers of the day.

More elaborate styles complemented rank and age. Lesser ranks wore much simpler shapes.

General Ambrose Burnside, Civil War veteran and Rhode Island senator, is remembered for his facial hair to this day. The original 'sideburns' were called burnsides. 

Despite their differences, as tensions in the 1860s reached a boiling point, men shared in a flair for hair.

To me, there's no better example of stylish hair than General George Custer. Could it be one of the reasons he was the most photographed General during the Civil War? Pictured on the left with his men during the war in 1862. 

And alongside a Confederate prisoner Lieutenant James B. Washingon, who was one of his classmates at U.S. Military Academy, West Point before the war broke out.

The Handlebar Mustache

While the full beard lost popularity, mustaches became widely adopted by civilian men in the 1880s and 90s. Young men began wearing the style to look more mature, fashionable and inspire confidence while giving what was perceived as a "dashing" air.

Wild West icons pictured above sporting the handlebar mustache are the ever-stylish Doc Holliday, Sheriff Wyatt Earp, and his brothers. Also pictured below:

Growing and maintaining a handlebar mustache requires patience and no trimming.

One needs as much hair as possible to groom and shape towards the goal of an outward tilt.

Necessary tools include wax and a dedicated comb was and is still used to sweep hair to the right or left.

A bit of inspiration

As I was researching fashion styles for several upcoming projects, I became interested in the popularity of the handlebar mustache. The handsome man pictured to the left was part of my inspiration for a new character. (You'll learn more about him next month🤠)

During the 1880s, a more clean-shaven look came into fashion. The handlebar mustache took the name from handlebars of bicycles and required much effort to keep trim and was the style into shape.  

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 with an emphasis on Faith, Friends and Good Clean Fun. 

Connect with Kimberly:

Monday, February 10, 2020

Covering Baby’s Bottom in the 1850s

My latest book is set in 1854 Columbia, California. At that time, California had been United States territory for only six years and a state for only four years. However, the gold rush still continued in 1854, and women and children were there, even though they were in far smaller numbers than men.

So, what happens when a bachelor finds himself with a baby? What was available for him to care for that child? The reason Waggles the goat is part of the story is because canned milk was still several years away from being invented. 

My other question was, how did folks at that time handle the diapering situation? Were safety pins invented? There were no disposable diapers or plastic diaper covers then, so how did parents keep the little darlings dry…or did they?

The information out on the internet is sketchy, but here is what I found.

One of the most common responses to the difficulties of diapering has been to toilet train early. At the end of the seventeenth century John Locke recommended putting babies on a "pierced chair"–a chair with a hole in the bottom under which a chamber pot could be placed. Some of these chairs had a space for a hot brick to help keep infants warm for the time, sometimes considerable, in which they were strapped to the chair while their mothers waited for them to "produce." 

Holding babies over bowls or a potty was popular. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, parenting manuals commonly recommended that toilet training begin almost immediately after birth. Some manuals promised mothers that diapers could be dispensed with altogether within three or four months.
Chamber pot for the masses

By the early to mid-nineteenth century, English children (and we can assume their American counterparts) were not commonly swaddled but dressed in diapers, underpants, and long woolen dresses with swaddling bands only around their abdomens. Swaddling cloth of oiled silk was developed in the eighteenth century in an attempt to prevent leaks.

Fabric diapers came into wide use to replace swaddling. They were generally made of linen or cotton, perhaps muslin or flannel. They generally were square and folded to fit around the babies’ bottoms. The English called them nappies, but in the United States, even in the 1800s they were known as diapers.

What about keeping those diapers clean? In the 1850s, the role of bacteria and how it grows was not understood. Wet diapers were often hung out to dry and then reused. If there was water readily available, they might have been rinsed first. Only the heavily soiled ones merited laundering, and they may have been merely scraped clean, rinsed, dried, and reused between washings with soap and water.

Before we get too critical and say “Oh, gross!” we need to remember many women back in the day did not have access to the conveniences we enjoy. Doing laundry was hard work. Often, especially for pioneer women traveling by wagon train, water was not easily available. For others, water was dipped from a river or creek, or an outdoor well. Not everyone had access to a pump either in the yard or in the house. Also, a woman may have been fortunate to live within a reasonable distance from a mercantile where she could buy soap, but many women still made their own soap. That required having rendered fat from butchered animals. 

In 1850s Columbia, California, the availability of water was a serious issue. The town grew because of gold found in what was named Maine Gulch (the Hildreth party who discovered gold there came from the state of Maine.) This was a seasonal gulch created by snow runoff. By late June or July, the gulch was dry until the rains came later in the autumn. The nearest sources of water were the springs at Springfield about a mile away (owned by a Mexican woman who sold the water), Mormon Creek which had its headwaters at the spring, and another Creek which was five miles away.

How did mothers keep those diapers on their little darlings? Sometimes the diapers had ties sewn on which were used the tie the fabric in place. Sometimes they were folded and tucked. (I imagine neither of these methods were foolproof for keeping a diaper on.)

Samuel Slocum is among those credited with developing and widely distributing the straight pin with a head so they stayed in place in cloth. These pins were used for decades even after the availability of safety pins. I wonder how often the little darlings got poked by the exposed end of a straight pin? Ouch!

A great advance in diapering was the invention of the safety pin, patented by Walter Hunt in 1849. 
U.S. Patent Office - inventor Walter Hunt
It did not widely used in place of the straight pin for securing diapers until the 1880s. (However, in my story set in 1854, the baby’s mother would have had the financial means and incentive to buy the latest and greatest for her sweet baby girl.) By the late 1800s, infants in Europe and North America were wearing garments similar to the modern cloth diaper. A square of linen or cotton flannel was folded into a triangular or rectangular shape and held in place by safety pins.

Modern soakers with gripper snaps and velcro
The diaper was sometimes covered with an absorbent pant called a "soaker" or "pilch," made of tightly knitted wool. In modern times, here has been a move back to using soakers made of wool fabric. The snugger style is made possible with the use of gripper snaps and Velcro—fastenings that were not invented until long after the 1850s.

Diaper rash in the nineteenth century was commonly remedied with burnt flour or powdered vegetable sulfur.

The truth of the matter is, mothers saved themselves a lot of laundry and diaper rash by often dressing their babies’ bottoms as shown above.

For examples of cloth diapers and how they might be secured, please CLICK HERE.

Kendrick is Book 9 in the popular Bachelors & Babies series. Kendrick, a Bachelor satisfied with being single, has his world turned upside-down the day the county sheriff shows up at his butcher shop with a baby and informs him that the deceased mother named him as the father. You may find the full book description and purchase link by CLICKING HERE.