Friday, June 26, 2020

Health Spas Through the Ages

In researching this topic for a novella that released last month, An Agent for Dixie, I was surprised to learn of the long history of people seeking out mineral baths for health reasons. One of the earliest known baths was discovered in the Indus Valley and suspected to have been built in 2500 BCE. In Roman times (300 BCE) public bathing was part of the general society, and the rich and poor enjoyed the popular way to gather and socialize.  Romans believed in thermalism (bathng in warm water) and thalassotherapy (bathing in seawater). Public baths were popular in Turkish (from about 600 ACE, called hammams, and the bathing habit was incorporated into important life events like marriages and celebrations of births) Russian (from about 900 ADE, called banya, and involved a cold plunge pool) and Japanese (from 500 ACE, called onsen, and thought to be started by Buddhist monks) cultures. The public bathing habit continued through the centuries, at times being more popular than others. By the 16th century, interest waned following several wars which threw people into impoverished conditions and the suspicion that diseases spread in the baths, which was probably true.
roman baths, wikimedia

But anywhere n the world where hot springs bubbled to the earth’s surface, people figured out a way to submerge themselves. By the early 1800s, doctors took a renewed interest in balneotherapy (medicinal use of thermal waters) and hydrotherapy (immersion of the body in thermal water for therapeutic purposes). The ability to analyze the elements in the waters improved, and doctors prescribed patients to “take the waters” (pinpointing certain hot springs for individual ailments) for their health. As you might imagine, if a doctor recommended one hot springs for gout and another for arthritis and a third location for a skin condition, the “remedy” became a lengthy process, meaning that only the elite could follow such a course of treatment.

Owners of the hot springs, of course, wished their guests to remain as long as possible. Depending on the location, an owner might add carriage rides into a scenic countryside or up a nearby mountainside. Entertainment such as musical performances, acting troupes, dancing, promenades hung with art, and casinos were added for the patrons’ enjoyment. Fans of Jane Austen will have learned about Bath, England. Other famous European locations were Baden Baden in Germany and Victoria-Jungfrau in Switzerland.

Abbey circular bath, Bath, England from Wikimedia
Well-known locations in the United States are Steamboat Springs (CO), Colorado Springs (CO), Hot Springs (AR), Travertine Hot Springs (CA), Saratoga Springs (NY), Glenwood Springs (CO), Black Rock Hot Springs (NV), Fifth Water Hot Springs (UT), Granite Hot Springs (WY), Chena Hot Springs (AK), Sol Duc Hot Springs (WA). As you can see, any city with ‘springs’ or “wells” in its name probably hosted a health spa resort at some time in its past.

I’d love to hear about your favorite hot springs.

Blurb for An Agent for Dixie

Foreign diplomacy is the Zivon family business but Alexei resists the polite constraints, not lasting a year in law school. The four successful years working as a Pinkerton agent prove he was meant to follow a different path. Now, he’s faced with the biggest challenge of his careertraining a female agent who has no practical skills. Alexei figures he can convince her to just observe as he solves the case, because nothing will interfere with his success rate.

Since childhood, Dixie LaFontaine lived in her older sister’s shadow but applying to become a Pinkerton Agent is her first major decision. Being matched with confident Alexei is intimidating, especially when the assigned case involves them pretending to be brother and sister at a health spa where jewelry has gone missing. Dixie has no qualms about pretending to be a French heiress needing care for her arthritis. Soon, she falls victim to Alexei’s charm and realizes that hiding her feelings might be as hard as ferreting out the thief among the spa’s clientele.

Will Dixie focus on learning the skills of an agent, or will she concentrate on turning her marriage of convenience into a lasting love?


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Where the deer and the Camels play?

Home home on the range 
where the deer and the camel...? Camel? 

Did you know Texas had camels? 
In 1855, the Secretary of War gave the go ahead for the purchase of camels for military purposes. Much of the southwest was practically desert and he thought the camels could haul supplies.

They were used in Camp Verde to take supplies to San Antonio and also used to haul goods to outposts in El Paso and Fort Bowie. They were also used to look for another route west along the Mexican border.

In 1857, Edward Fitzgerald Beale took an expedition to California. It took him five months and the animals crossed barren land that held sparse grass and water. They crossed mountains and it was a surprise to many that Beale did what many said couldn't be done.

The camel brigade came against harsh opposition by the Mule Lobby. Hard to believe there was such a thing, but the mule lobby along with the civil war helped defeat the camel experiment. 

Most were sold off at auctions. But some escaped as every now and then people throughout the southwest would come upon a camel. 

One legend in 1880s Arizona, is the tale of Red Ghost - a camel that haunted the region. Supposedly 30 feet tall with a devilish creature strapped to his back. (It would seem that not only Texas has tall tales.) 

Red Ghost attacked a cowboy nearly killing him. Was said to have killed a bear. And the stories grew.

Miners did see the creature and a skeleton fell from his back. Later a rancher killed a red camel with straps of leather  wound around his back. and the legend of Red Ghost ended.

I hope you enjoyed one of the interesting stories about the West. 

I have a new book out today - A Mystery Groom for Christmas
The spinsters of Lone Oak, Texas, are ready for marriage. One found her true love but there are three ladies left and only two mystery grooms. Can one of them catch her man?
A sweet and clean Historical Christian Western Romance with some fun, faith, and always a happily-ever-after.

Have a wonderful summer,
Patricia PacJac Carroll

Books by Patricia > Patricia PacJac Carroll

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

THE JUNE BRIDE by Marisa Masterson

Oh, they say when you marry in June you’re a bride all your life,
and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweet-heart for a wife.
--from the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

For all of my fifty plus years, I've heard that June is the month to marry. Being an obnoxious American, I believed that my country had started that tradition. Still, I wanted to be sure, so I started digging into the history of June weddings. 

Oh, was I wrong!

It appears that the tradition of marrying in that month probably started with the Romans. The month's name is connected to the reason those ancient people liked to marry then. Juno is the month's namesake, a goddess the Roman's connected with marriage. (Thought she certainly couldn't control her wandering husband!)

Juno was known as Hera by the Greeks. I'm glad the name of June is patterned after Juno. Just imagine a month called Here.

My research turned up another tidbit that I find harder to believe. I read that during Medieval times people married in June because flowers were available. Now, the part about wanting flowers at the wedding I can believe. It's the reason that I struggle with, though. 

At that time, people didn't bathe. At least not more than twice a year. Bathing was thought to be harmful. So, marrying with flowers allowed the bride to mask her body odor. Poor girl! Another source suggested that people during this period married in June because that was the month for their annual bath. I suppose that's possible but doesn't explain the tradition of flowers.

Whatever the reason in the past, June is a lovely month. Warm often without being sweltering like July or August, June is the busiest month for weddings in the United States.

I, of course being different, married in October. Sigh....

Speaking of brides, here's an Irish one with enough spunk to save herself and enough love to save her husband. 

It is a story of a couple forced to marry and  challenged to thrive on a farm. Though war is happening in the country, the romance explores their growing relationship.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

A look at early medicine and women doctors in Colorado, specifically Pueblo, Colorado.

Pueblo is one of the early towns in Colorado. It had its beginnings as a business fort called Fort Pueblo. The town as we know it was originally composed of separate areas.  One area was South Pueblo the town that grew due to the manufacturing of steel for the rails of William Jackson Palmer‘s Denver & Rio Grande railroad. The company became CF&I (Colorado Fuel & Iron) a major employer in the early days of the town and a great history read. 

Pueblo also became the home of the Colorado State Insane Asylum, later known as the Colorado State Hospital. On October 23, 1879 it opened its doors to eleven patients, nine men, and two women, from the counties around the state.

The town, due to the growth and opportunities, was a draw for women doctors. Mary Alice Lake, born in 1865 attended the University of Colorado School of Medicine and received her state license in 1896. She was an assistant physician  State Asylum but had a practice in Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1896. 

Lizzie E. Jones born in Iowa in 1854 and graduated from the State University of Iowa in 1881. She was also one of the early female doctors to receive a license on January 3, 1882, # 343, and had a  practiced in Pueblo although there is no record so far of her at the state asylum. In June of 1882, she married Reuben F. Eldridge.

Mary F. Barry was born in 1859 in Illinois and attended Northwestern University Women’s Medical College where she graduated in 1887. She received her license to practice medicine in Colorado in 1895 and had her practice in Pueblo.  During her career, she was the secretary of the Pueblo County Medical Society.

There is also a Genevieve M. Tucker who was born in Wisconsin in 1859 who received her Colorado license in 1893 and is listed as also practicing in Pueblo. 

CF&I Hospital
 run by Dr. Richard Corwain
Photo from Wikipedia
The one woman whose story is somewhat funny, yet telling in its own way. Jean Clow, born Jean Bailey, who was a graduate of Goss Medical School in Denver in 1898 applied for a job at Corwin Hospital in Pueblo. The officials at the hospital assumed, due to her name, that she was male. When they found out otherwise, they still hired her as an intern on the assumption she could do the job as well as a male. On a side note, it is said that Jean told of carrying a gun in the early days of her career for safety. 

There are many others who began their careers in Pueblo. Some stayed, others moved on to areas that better suited their talents. 

My first novel "Josie's Dream" and the heroine were born of my research and love of these early pioneering women. Below is a short excerpt: 

 “Can I help you?” The voice behind her asked, a hand reaching around to grab her bags.

Turning to face the speaker, Josie took in the disheveled appearance, the look of cunning in the eyes.
I can manage, thank you,” Josie replied, taking a firmer hold on her belongings.
Now, there is no need to be rude. I was just tryin’ to be helpful,” the man said as he tugged at her bag.
Stiffening, Josie sternly repeated, “I can manage.”
With a hard yank, the man managed to pull her doctor bag loose, and without a thought, Josie swung her large bag at the man, striking him on the legs as he turned to run off. Instead, he found himself flat on the ground.
Calmly, Josie bent, retrieved her property, and knowing he was just stunned, started down the street. She had only gone a few steps when she heard a bellow behind her.
Let me get to the point quickly,” she said as she turned to her tormentor, who stopped so quickly he almost fell. “I have nothing of value you could use. So, unless you are in need of medical care, I suggest you stop while you are ahead.” Now, standing close, she could smell the liquor on him. Her eye took in his inability to stand upright without swaying. But to be fair, his fall might have had something do to with that.
Doctorin’?” he questioned, “you’re lying.”
The two of them were drawing a crowd. Not the best way to start, Josie thought, but not a bad one either.
Yes, as you say doctorin’, I am a Doctor.”
Well, I’ll be — a lady doctor,” he said. “You sure you’re not just…”

Josie's Dream (Grandma's Wedding Quilts Book 9) by [Angela Raines, Grandma's Wedding Quilts, Sweet Americana]

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of Western Writers of America,
Colorado Author League,
Women Writing the West

Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Mail Order Brides Even in Hollywood

While speaking to my daughter in law the other day, I mentioned the Mail Order Bride Story I'm currently writing.  After telling her a little of the story line, she looked at me in a strange way and asked if Mail Order Brides were a true part of history.

I was actually surprised.  With the thousands of Mail Order Bride stories available on Amazon I thought everyone knew about the concept.  Then I remembered the first mail order bride story I ever wrote.  At the time, I was looking for factual information to back up my concept and I recall it was very difficult to find.  That was way before the internet and Google searches were available.

And here I am, years later, still intrigued by the Mail Order Bride concept and still writing Mail Order Bride stories.   There are also some old movies available that readers might want to get 

Westward the Women (as pictured above) tells a story about a man who takes 150 women on a wagon train across country as Mail Order Brides for a town of gold miners. Its intriguing to see how the women had to work as hard as men, learn to shoot, learn to drive a wagon and learn to deal with death along the trail. All in hopes of finding a husband at the end of the journey.

If you've ever watched the Beverly Hillbillies, you will know Buddy Ebsen.  In Mail Order Bride, 
he follows several ads placed by women in newspapers, hoping to find a Mail Order Bride for a young man. What he finds is a saloon girl he hopes to pass off as a Mail Order Bride.   

Both movies are fun and will give you a sense of how things may have been during the time in which Western Mail Order Brides were traveling across country hoping to find love.

I have personally written several Mail Order Bride Stories, 
and hope you will look for them on Amazon.

Mammie's Mail Order Bride
Available on Amazon  

Mammie’s Mail Order Bride When Mammie announces that Stephen needs to go to town and pick up his mail order bride, he is flabbergasted. Mammie has been writing to Sally Jersey and now expects him to marry her. Stephen has every intention of putting her back on the stage and sending her home, until he sees her lovely face and the nieces and nephews she brought. Will Stephen allow himself to fall in love or will Sally be given away to the most eligible bachelor in Waterhole, Texas.

And Coming Soon
Welcome back to Waterhole, Texas in Mail Order Ruby
Availabe for Pre-order on Amazon

Ruby’s mother has informed her its time for her to start dancing at the Golden Dawn saloon, 
and has replaced all Ruby’s clothes with saloon ballgowns. To escape that lifestyle,
 Ruby answers a mail order bride ad of a man in Texas looking for someone with 
upstanding morals to help clean up his town.
When Ruby arrives in town, dressed in a saloon gown and toting her younger brother, Timmy, 
Seth thinks he's been duped and the last thing he wants is a child in his life,
 having recently lost his own son.
Will time spent together prove to him that Ruby is who she said she is
and can Seth learn to love again?

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Vale Hotel History

by Shanna Hatfield

Vale, Oregon, isn't a town most people have heard about and few have explored in recent years. At one time, though, it was a place travelers along the Oregon Trail knew well because of the natural hot springs that bubbled there. Journals from pioneers along the Oregon Trail mention the Malheur River crossing and hot springs where they could rest, take baths, and wash their clothes.

The area was popular as far back as 1828 with trappers of the Hudson Bay Company based out of Vancouver, Washington.  The wives of Marcus Whitman and Henry Spaulding were among the first white women to arrive in the area in 1836 when the missionaries were traveling through. 

A temporary trading post, run by a man named Turner, opened up sometime around 1850. Later, Jonathan Keeney (of Keeney Pass fame) later built a house and barn near the hot springs. Lewis B. Rinehart bought the Keeny property in 1870 and built the historic Stone House there in 1872.  His brother-in-law leased the house in 1883, and it became the first post office. Vale became the official name of what was formerly known as Malheur Crossing.

In 1907, construction began on a hotel. It opened in 1908 as the Drexel Hotel. It was adjacent to the Grand Central Saloon, believed to have been constructed around 1896. The saloon was altered around the same time the hotel was built and became the Vale Grand Opera House. Together, the hotel and opera house added a bit of elegance to the dusty trail town.

When it opened, the Drexel Hotel was billed as the best hostelry in the intermountain country. It offered guests 58 first class rooms with conveniences such as baths with hot and cold water. The dining room tables were covered in white linen, with the laundry handled by a Chinese laundry in town. The northeast corner of the hotel housed a bank and a variety of businesses occupied space there over the years such as a drug store, café, bar, telephone office, doctor's office, and barber shop.

However, despite the early years of success, the hotel was left vacant in 1969 and has remained that way. In 1984, the buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2016, the Drexel Hotel, or the Vale Hotel as it is commonly referred, was named as one of Oregon's most endangered places.

The Drexel H. Foundation and Rural Development Initiative were established to attempt to preserve the hotel. After saving the hotel from the wrecking ball in the 1990s, the foundation has made roof repairs and stabilized the structure of both the hotel and opera house. The bricks have undergone mortar repairs and progress is being made, a little at a time.

The old hotel and opera house are the inspiration behind an old hotel in need of restoration in my latest release. In the story, a city girl arrives in Summer Creek, a quirky small town in Oregon. She falls in love with the derelict old buildings in town (and a hunky cowboy) and sets about forming a committee to rescue the buildings before the history and hope they carry are lost.

You can read more about Emery and her Walk Through 1910 project in Catching The Cowboy.
And be sure to enter the $50 Amazon Gift Card giveaway here.

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, June 9, 2020

Cupid and The Power of Love by Kimberly Grist

While researching life in the 19th century, I became intrigued by the popular depictions of a chubby male child, usually naked and sometimes winged. Originally known in Renaissance and Baroque periods, the putto came to represent the cupid, which can be found in both religious and secular art from the 1420s to the turn of the 16th century.

Many artists have depicted them and among the best-known examples are from the painter Raphael and the sculptor Donatello.

These winged characters experienced a revival in the 19th century and appeared in architecture,  artwork, illustrations, folk paintings, and other handcrafted decor and dishware.

Cherubs appeared in fabrics, wallpaper, and appeared in paintings, decor, and dishware. 

As Deputy Leo Weaver, from my recent release, Willow's Worth commented, "Everywhere I look these days, I see those little angels. I don’t understand people’s attraction to half-naked cherubs.”
Cherubs appeared in cards, calendars, and Advertisements
Cherubs in the Victorian era were symbolic of romantic love and for some representing the cherubim watching over and interceding for mankind. 

The fat little-winged angels who carried a bow and arrow came to be known as the symbol of piercing the heart of mortals with love and desire. 
The combination of divinity, myth, and romanticism made cherubs accessible decorations even when in society the glimpse of an ankle was considered erotic.
Willow's Worth

In my first novel  Rebecca's Hope, I introduced a western town in the late 19th century filled with colorful characters and innovative your women. Willow's Worth is a combination of the tale and includes characters initially introduced in subsequent stories such as Emma's Dream, Lois's Risk, Maggie's Strength, Carol's Choice, Garnet's Gift, A Fresh Start for Christmas and A Bride for David.

Telegraph operator, Willow Graham has benefited from a unique lifestyle growing up on her grandfather's ranch. She loves the wide-open countryside where she tries and trains animals. With her twenty-first birthday approaching her family pressures her to return to the city and take up the lavish lifestyle her uncle has planned for her. But another option piques her curiosity a matchmaking agency's recommendation that she begins a correspondence with a handsome farmer. 

Hardworking, twenty-seven-year-old, Leo Weaver is a man of many talents. He's helped his father develop a successful farm. Loyal to Carrie Town, he volunteers as a deputy sheriff. Both handsome and charming, Leo's become the target of several well-meaning ladies in the community who have submitted his name for a new matchmaking venture. 

Willow and Leo' have differing ideas on how to create a successful marriage and home. An inspirational romance that shows sometimes true love is worth hammering out the differences.

Combining History, Humor, and Romance with an emphasis on Faith Friends and Good Clean Fun.
Connect with Kimberly:

Monday, June 8, 2020

Freight Trains on the Plains

When we think of freight trains today, this is probably what comes to mind:

However, back in the 1800s, before the railroads crossed the Missouri River after the Civil War, a freight train looked more like this:

Notice two wagons hooked together-needed fewer bullwhackers or muleskinners that way.
Freight trains were pulled across the Great Plains for decades before railroads began transporting a large portion of trade goods between the East and either the Pacific Coast states of California and Oregon, or the Mexican-held Southwest. One of the earliest known cases of freight being taken across the territory claimed by Mexico, but dominated by the Plains tribes of Native Americans, was the first venture down the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 by Captain William Becknell.
Sante Fe trail's end outside W.J. Rowe Transfer Company
His party of traders left Arrow Rock, Missouri, to trade horses and mules with American Indians and hunt wild game on the plains. The expedition met a troop of Mexican soldiers in November and traveled with them to Santa Fe. Their trade goods, including calico and other printed cloth, sold at high prices in the isolated Spanish town. They returned to Missouri in 1822 after only 48 days of travel. Because of high profits, the trade route soon became a favorite with other traders—most of whom used freight wagons pulled by teams of either oxen or mules.

Ben Holladay became known as the stagecoach king. However, he got his start in freighting in 1846 during the Mexican-American War when he contracted with General Stephen W. Kearny to supply the U. S. Army with wagons and provisions. Once the war was over, he formed a partnership with Theodore W. Warner. They transported supplies to Salt Lake City, Utah.

One well-known shipping firm was Russell, Majors and Waddell which came into being to fill a need that none of the men individually had the means to do on their own. Until 1854 government freight contracts were awarded to various companies for relatively small shipments. That year the War Department offered a single, enormous two-year contract to transport supplies to U.S. Army posts in most of the West and Southwest. Majors owned a freight company at the time. Russell and Waddell were partners in a wholesale trading company. The three men joined forces on December 28, 1854, to form Russell, Majors and Waddell won the contract. They also competed for and won the next government contract, although that one did not prove so profitable.

As a side note, one of my pioneer families crossed the plains in a covered wagon which, with a few others, was attached to a Russell, Majors and Waddell freight train.

Along with all the larger freight companies were a multitude of smaller freighters to transport goods from one place to another.

Five of my books, starting with my 2020 Lockets & Lace novel, Hannah’s Handkerchief and ending with Hannah’s Highest Regard, touch on the Kansas trails (Smoky Hill and Santa Fe), the frontier forts, and either freight or passenger service along those trails and between those forts. 

The two books about Hannah involve a hero in the Army Quartermaster Corps who uses freight wagons to transport goods from Fort Riley, the supply center for forts farther west. Most freight was hauled by contract labor in freight trains usually pulled by oxen. (U.S. Army freight wagons, often used for delivering ordnance or transporting supplies on individual campaigns, were pulled by teams of six mules—always mules and always six of them.)

In my three books I’m writing for the Widows, Brides & Secret Babies series, Mail Order Roslyn, Mail Order Lorena, and Mail Order Penelope, I focus on the Butterfield Overland Despatch Stagecoach Company. 

Founder David Butterfield recognized the Smoky Hill Trail was the shortest and quickest route between Missouri and Denver, Colorado. He started a freight business at the same time he started the stagecoach line. His first freight train traveled that trail a few weeks before the stagecoach. To prepare for freight as well as stagecoach drivers and travelers along the trail, Butterfield built and stocked stations every ten to fifteen miles. Along with the home stations that served food and sometimes provided lodging, and the stock stations that only changed out teams, he built cattle stations. Cattle stations, in addition to being home stations for the coaches, allowed freighters to change out their tired oxen and, in some cases, mules for those freight trains traveling the trail. These cattle stations were past Fort Ellsworth (later Fort Harker) at Ruthton, Eaton, Cornell Creek, and Bijou Basin.
1890 Last large bull train from the railroad to the Black Hills
Even after the railroads came carrying freight to stations along it tracks, it still needed to be transported distances to the ultimate customer. Freight trains made of wagons pulled by oxen, mules, and horses continued to find business well into the twentieth century until motorized vehicles took over.