Tuesday, July 28, 2020

PHOTOGRAPHS TO THE RESCUE (How one photographer created tourism for a town.) by MARISA MASTERSON

Imagine it. A small town sitting on a river, occasionally overrun by loggers. It has the only railroad bridge across the Wisconsin River, it's only reason for existing. To my way of thinking, this place should have disappeared once the railroad stopped running and the logging industry quit floating logs down the river. 

The town, Wisconsin Dells, is still going strong. In fact, last month my husband and I made our yearly trip to the spot. There, we took the free tour through the photography studio that saved the town and made The Dells a tourist destination.

In 1865, Henry Bennett set up a photography studio in Kilbourne City, Wisconsin. The man had to do something to earn a living. His gun backfired, badly wounding him during the Civil War. This made it impossible to return to his job as a carpenter.

He quickly found that there wasn’t a demand for portraits. Not enough people in the area. There were, however, incredible rock formations and a lot of activity on the Wisconsin River so he headed there with his equipment. Bennett even created a portable darkroom that went with him.

Those photos became cabinet cards and cards for a stereopticon. The photos became well known across the country. Tourism became an industry in the town as people flocked to the Dells. At the time, the town was called Kilbourne City. By the 1930s, the name was changed to reflect what the people really came to see.

Bennett’s studio went on to be one of the oldest still operating in the United States. He invented many items in the field, even built his own cameras (except for the lenses). His photographs so impressed people, I believe, because he invented the stop-action shutter. It allowed him to freeze motion in the picture, like this one with the man jumping from rock to rock.

The beauty of the landscape, the strange and unique photos, the activity on the river. It all added up to fame for Bennett and continued life for this small town that typically hosts four million visitors each year. 

One of the many waterparks in The Dells.
The Dells Ducks, rescued from WWII, take visitors across land and water.



While at The Dells, my husband and son explored. As for me, I wrote much of my next book. It's set in Kilbourne City, soon after the town is established.


Alice Cordell is done with isolation. After being shut away to nurse her dying father, she wants to find a community that needs her and will accept her, limp and all. To that end, she trains as a nurse, graduating with the school's first class. The future seems bright until she realizes she's once again being forced into isolation, cut off from her new community of Kilbourne City, Wisconsin

No one could blame Niall MacKenzie for growling at the woman. After all he’d caught her staring into his home through a back window. Worse yet, only minutes later she told him she was his caretaker. He already hates most people in Kilbourne City, Wisconsin after the bitter lie the community accepts about him. Her insistence that he start doctoring those locals shouldn't endear her to him..

Soon he has a fragile nurse to both watch over and resist. A woman that calls to him more as a man than a doctor. As for Alice, the surprise waiting for her will lead to an unwanted marriage and a rivalry that threatens her only hope for a career and a home.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Summer Camps for American Children in the 19th Century

In the years following the American Civil War, many families left the farm and moved to cities. They went to obtain employment that added to the national economy but was often in a mechanized or industrialized job. Taking up residence in the city often meant a smaller house than the family had previously, and it definitely meant the land they claimed as theirs was more constrained than before. If a family lived in an apartment building, little outdoor space was available for children to play. Parents grew concerned that their sons weren’t having the experiences deemed necessary to grow into manhood. Although misguided by today’s standards, they believed a boy or male youth who spent too much time indoors would become feminized. They also worried that exposure to only city life could lead to a corrupt or morally deficient lifestyle.
swimmers at boys' camp courtesy of History.com

Religious and community leaders heard the parents’ pleas and the initial push was to open camps so boys could reconnect with nature, which would aid them to grow into better men. Parents believed attendance at these camps would build character and sought to enroll their sons in the few camps that were established in the 1870s-1880s. One such place was Camp Chocorua in New Hampshire established by Ernest Balch, a student of Dartmouth College. The activities—fishing, target shooting, rowing, swimming, climbing trees, sports—were geared to strengthen bodies as well as develop leadership skills. Education was also part of the activities, including lessons on moral behavior. The first camps were attended by children of the wealthy, and by the turn of the century the estimated number of camps is 100.

1897 baseball team courtesy of DailyHistory.org
Within a decade, that number swelled to 1,000 camps, opening opportunities to children of middle- and lower-class families. In 1920, the American Camp Association was founded, and the association worked to achieve certification for more regimented activities and health standards. Not until World War I did organizers have the realization that girls could benefit from summer camps. The curriculum, however, was quite different with the focus on life skills like cooking, sewing, and preparing for motherhood.

My latest release is A Bride for Cody  

Neither person is who the other expects, and soon nurse Riona and ex-soldier Cody worry if a marriage be they ever met in person is a big mistake.

Find my books here on Amazon Author Page  

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Cowboy Sayings - You Can Lead a Horse to Water but You Can't Make Him Drink

The day is hot and dry, and you're a cowboy riding your horse for the last hour or so, and know you have several more hours ahead of you. As you reach a stream, you lead your horse to it and offer it a drink. It denies it. You take off the bridle, as some horses are offended of the thought of drinking with a bit in his mouth, but still, the horse won't take the drink offered him. You pick up a handful of water and spread it over the horse's lips, hoping it will entice him, but no, he's still not interested.

When a horse isn't thirsty, it may refuse to take a drink, no matter what you do to encourage it.

As a horse owner, it's a frustrating prospect. You know what's ahead of the horse in his day. You know that this might be the last opportunity for the horse to get a drink for a few hours, but he doesn't know that. All he knows is that he's not interested in taking a drink right now.

The frustration of trying to make things better for a horse because of foresight but still having the horse refuse your help is what prompted this saying when it originated in the early 12th century. Today, however, it's used to describe people. A person who you try your best to help, but just won't take your helping hand is like leading a non-thirsty horse to water.

For example - A doctor can tell a person all about the diet and exercise program that can help them lose weight, but if the person doesn't take the advice and put it into action, it's like leading a horse to water...

Do you ever hear anyone using these phrases? Used it yourself? Let me know in a comment!

On average, P. Creeden releases a story each month. Interested in learning more? 
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Monday, July 20, 2020




What is a Sheriff? Many people imagine shootouts and gunfights in the Wild West. This is what movies have made us think about. It's hard to imagine there was actually sheriffs before then.

 The sheriff position spans over a thousands years.  When the English settlers came to America, they brought with them the office of Sheriff.  On record is an elected sheriff from 1651.  That sheriff was chosen by vote, however, most sheriffs are appointed.

 Unlike you see in the movies, sheriffs were not just poor cowboys who lucked on the job. Most sheriffs were already wealthy men and they also received good pay for doing the job.  

Throughout the years, sheriffs were given many assignments such as law enforcement, tax collections, overseeingthe jails and workhouses.

As Americans moved west, they took the concept of the office of sheriff with them.  Sheriffs were needed to establish order in the lawless territories and being a fast accurate draw with a gun were of upmost importance.  Sheriffs were either quick or dead.  Many sheriffs kept order by their virtue of authority rather than their guns. The images we see of sheriffs using their guns to have shoots outs on a daily basis just did not happen as often as one would think. 

(Watch this it is sooo funny)
Most Americans think the role of Sheriff ended with the taming of the Wild West, however there are over three thousand counties in the United States today and each one has a sheriff.

There is some debate about who was the first woman sheriff, but according to the Handbook of Texas

the first woman sheriff in Texas is Emma Susan Daugherty Banister. In fact, she is probably the first woman sheriff in the United States. She was the daughter of Bailey and Martha Ann (Taylor) Daugherty, born in Forney, Texas, October 20, 1871.  
September 25, 1894, she married John R. Bannister in Goldthwaite, Texas. Bannister was a former Texas Ranger In 1914, Bannister was elected sheriff of Coleman County and the family moved from the farm to the first floor of the Coleman County Jail. It was here that Emma served as John's office deputy, buying supplies, running her household and also oversaw the preparation of meals for the family and for the prisoners.  Back at that time, it was not unusual for the sheriff and his family to live in the county jail. 
On August 1, 1918, the sheriff died and the Coleman County Commissioners appointed his wife Emma to complete out the term of the office. She later declined an offer by the commissioners to have her name placed on the ballot for the November elections for a further term in office. When her term as sheriff ended, she and the family moved back to the farm at Santa Anna. She was succeeded by W.R. Hamilton.

Teresa Ives Lilly has picked up on the theme of Women Sheriffs in her series Brides of Waterhole, Texas Series.    Sam and her three sisters have come to Waterhole, Texas to fill the position their dead father had been offered, as town sheriff.   These gun toting, strong willed, green eyed girls will capture your hearts as they do the men of Waterhole, Texas.   
 There are other books in this series as well that introduce Brides who come to Waterhole, Texas.

Mail Order Matchmaker  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C4YXS3B

Ruby was written as part of another series; however, it takes place in Waterhole, Texas as well. https://www.amazon.com/Order-Widows-Brides-Secret-Babies-ebook/dp/B088P7M4DN

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Why Blog?
July is almost over. For most of us, we are more than half-way through the year. I like to take the time to take stock of where I am in my plans and goals.
Perhaps you’ve asked yourselves these same questions. Am I on target in our writing? How about that ‘blessed’ thing called marketing? How does blogging, and the time it takes, fit into all that? Why blog if no one reads or comments on what I’ve taken the time to think, research and write about? I rethink this every year, asking myself the same thing, why blog?
For me the answer is a bit complex. I’ll break it down into three sections. 1. Marketing 2. Research and 3. Name recognition, (the one that’s a bit tricky for me.)
1. Marketing:
If we write stories, be they short, flash or full length, we want people to read them. Even with non-fiction we want the information to get to those who might enjoy what we’ve researched and written.
For someone like me, who writes slow, there can be a long time between the various stories. Added to that, I write in two historical genres: Western and Medieval. I love both equally. You add to that the poetry I occasionally write, along with non-fiction work, and it gets busy. Facebook can only do so much, as well as emails. Plus, how do you expand your readership. To me, blogging is one of those ways.
I realize not everyone will like what I write, despite my desire that they do. At the same time, finding those readers who will like my work, is a challenge. It helps to use all the options at my disposal, and blogging is one of those for me.
Photo property of the author
2. Research:
This is probably the primary reason I blog. I want to share the research I have done with others. History and the people who made it are a compulsion with me. To tell the stories of the people and places from history is something I want to do. I don’t want those pieces from the past to be lost. The nice thing about blogs, especially with the tags, your posts are available via searches almost forever.
For over ten years I’ve researched the story of a Colorado criminal. I told his story at the Pikes Peak Library History Symposium presentation on June 9 of 2018. It is my hope to complete the story of the whole family. A very telling piece of history and the time in which they lived.
The other research that’s important for me to share is the story of the early women doctors in Colorado. While ‘Doc Susie’ is a part of that story, it has been slanted her way for far to long. There were so many others who did as much if not more than she. Between blog posts and articles I've begun to balance that scale. For those who may be interested, the article in Saddlebag Dispatches can be read here: Dr. Quinn, Doc Susie and the Reality of Colorado Women Doctors
The stories of the doctors and so many others need to be preserved for future generations. When you feel like you can’t do something, just take a look at what those who preceded you did. It sometimes helps when put into that perspective.
 3. Name Recognition:
Since I write fiction under a pen name: Angela Raines, it is important I share that information on my posts. When you add my online name, Renawomyn, it gets a bit tricky.
At the same time, my non-fiction work is important. I simply do not want readers of romance to pick up a book with my real name expecting a sweet story and they are reading about juvenile delinquents, early criminals or lynchings. By using pen names I hope to avoid that problem. Of course the reverse could also be true. Can you imagine buying one of my books about the trials and tribulations of early women doctors, and find your reading a story about a medieval woman and the man she loves?
In the end, whether anyone reads or comments on my blog posts, I have things I want to say. Yes, it hurts when no one seems to care, but in the long run, it’s the future I write for. So, here’s to the future and to the readers who want to know what I have to share.
And on a lighter note, the book birthday for my first story is this July. It will be six years old. How time does fly.
Here is a brief excerpt:
He wrapped strong arms around her, pulled her close, bent his head to kiss her forehead. He looked into her eyes, and without warning, put his hand under her chin and raised her lips to his. Clara stiffened at his touch. Then, he was kissing her. Clara put her arms to his shoulders. She relaxed, leaned into his strong chest. Their lips touched, breath slowing until nothing else existed except the two of them. It felt so good to think someone cared, someone loved her… even if it wasn’t really true. 
Sam drew back, his breath deep, as if swimming for the surface of the water. He stared into Clara’s eyes, as though he were trying to see if she had felt what he did. Lightening the moment, he stepped back, but continued to gently hold onto her. “Whoa, if I knew that kissing you... well I’d have done it a lot sooner.” He smiled
Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Mail Order Bees by Kimberly Grist

While researching vocations during the 19th century, I became intrigued by beekeeping. The honeybee is not native to the United States. Records show that honey bees were shipped from England and landed in the Colony of Virginia in 1622.

Prior to the middle of the 19th century, most beehives were simple shelters for bees.
circa. 1830 - Scenes of Industry; Displayed in The Bee-Hive and the Ant-Hill
Skeps were made from grass straw with sticks placed inside to provide support fo the honeycombs. A healthy colony could yield approximately 10-15 lbs of honey each year.

Log gums were made from hollow logs then fitted with a roof. Sometimes a box or container was added on top of a log gum for the bees to store honey. Beekeepers inspected skep hives from the bottom.

Just as they do in the wild, bees attached their wax combs to the hive's roof and walls. Today we refer to these types of hives as fixed-comb hives. In these types of hives, the beekeeper could not inspect the hives. Therefore, it was difficult to know when the bees had a problem, rather from disease or when they became queenless. 
In 1851, Lorenzo Langstroth created a new hive design with frames that hung from the top ends of the hive, leaving what we refer to as "bee-s[ace", a 3/8 inch space between all sides of the frames and hive body. This allowed the frames to be handled without breaking the comb. 

Langstroth's frames were easily handled without breaking the comb.  Today we refer to the 3/8 inch passageways as a "bee-space." 

By the year 1900, most beekeepers were using variants of this design, much like the ones used today. 

Although the frames are similar in structure, please note, since I'm new to beekeeping, I have not developed the skills to handle bees without protective gear. So far no stings.😎 But I confess the suit is extremely warm. Maybe I'll appreciate it this winter?

Mail-order Bees

In the May 1879 issue of Gleanings in Bee Culture, A.I. Root proposed what would become a revolutionary idea - the sale of bees by the pound. Finding himself short on bees but with an abundance of honey just right for building up new colonies of bees, 
By counting and weighing a hundred bees, he came to the conclusion that a quart of bees would weigh approximately one pound and proposed to pay a dollar a pound for live bees delivered to him at the shipper's risk. He even went so far as to devise a cage in which they might be shipped. 

New Release

Available on July 21st 

In my upcoming release, A Beekeeper for Christmas, Bethany Brady loves assisting her grandfather with his bee farm and volunteering at the Counting Stars Children's Home. A tall woman, she's always felt awkward and has given up on her dream of a family of her own. 

Encouraged by his brother's success with his mail-order bride, Moses Montgomery is ready to take a chance. After all, he orders things from a catalog all the time, why not a wife? She should be sensible and take an interest in his business at the livery stable. 

She's whimsical and fun-loving, he's gruff and likes to keep things simple. Has the matchmaking agency made an error in judgment? Can affection soften tow stubborn, opinionated individuals and help them find common ground?

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, July 13, 2020

Race for the 100th Meridian on the Platte River by Zina Abbott

In 2019, I did a multi-month series of blog posts across several blogs about the first transcontinental railroad. Much to my surprise, I recently learned some information about the 1862 Railway Act of which I was unaware. Because the Union Pacific Rail Road was the ultimate winner of the race toward the 100th Meridian on the Platte River – the point where the eastern portion of the Transcontinental Road began – it was only this past week I realized there had been another contender.
Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railway depot at Miltonvale, Kansas
The railroad with its roots in Kansas was a federally chartered railroad, backed with government land grants. It began in 1855 as the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad, and was later reorganized in 1863 as the Union Pacific, Eastern Division. 
Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division headquarters in Wyandotte, Kansas
The UP Eastern was authorized by the United States Congress as part of the Pacific Railway Act, in order to create, alongside the Union Pacific, a second southerly branch of the transcontinental railroad. The name "Kansas Pacific" was not adopted until 1869. The original intent of the railroad was to build a line west from Kansas City, Kansas across Kansas to Fort Riley, then north to join the Union Pacific main line at Fort Kearny in Nebraska. The construction of the line was motivated in part by the desire of the U.S. government to extend transportation routes into Kansas, which had been the scene of ongoing conflict between Union and Confederate sympathizers even prior to the start of the American Civil War.

As early as 1861 the territorial legislature of Kansas had chartered no fewer than 51 railroads. Practically see all of them were just that – charters. 

Samuel Hallett
On July 1, 1862, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific were authorized, and expectations of rail travel began to escalate. Not much was accomplished to make it a reality until two men, Samuel Hallett and John C Fremont, acquired controlling stock in the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad Company at the end of May 1863.

Hallett was a young banker with offices in New York City. He helped build the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad in the east. Fremont was the big name in exploration in early Kansas and had made a great deal of money from the sale of his ranch in California. Fremont was elected president of the new company and Hallett the general superintendent. The name of their rail company was changed to the Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division.

John C. Fremont
Although creating competition between rail lines might not have been intentional, the law of July 1862 brought it about. This law, which established the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads, provided that the Union Pacific be built from the 100th Meridian Westward and the Central Pacific from the Pacific coast eastward. They were to meet at the California-Nevada state line. If either got there before the other, it was to build on until the lines were joined.

That provision left the strip of land between the 100th Meridian and the Missouri River without specific authorization. It was generally accepted that the first railroad to reach that 100th Meridian on the Platte River would get the contract to build on the rest of the railway to meet the Central Pacific.

Although the section between the Missouri River to the 100th Meridian was scheduled to be built west from Omaha, Fremont and Halleck felt confident that if their company reached the 100th Meridian first, they would get the contract for the balance of the job. Based on that, they named their company the Union Pacific Railway Company, Eastern Division. Their plan was to build west from the Missouri along the Kansas River, then turn up the Republican River. From there, they intended to continue northwest to Fort Kearney on the Platte River in Nebraska, then westward to the 100th Meridian. The railroad would cut right through the inhabited part of Kansas, and no one objected the tracks turning North into Nebraska. They were better organized than the railroad company at Omaha, they had the people of Kansas behind then, and they moved forward with confidence that they would win the race.
Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division depot at Wamego, Kansas
On July 2nd Congress pass an amendment to the railroad law granting the builders 12,800 acres of land on either side of the roadway for each mile of road built. This amendment also practically assured that the first railroad to get us rails to the 100th Meridian would get the right of way to build to meet the Central Pacific. No one in eastern Kansas had any doubts that Hallett would win the race easily he. He was far ahead of a line starting from the Omaha. Halleck moved to Wyandotte, Kansas and set up the company’s headquarters there.

The company soon ran into trouble. Fremont and Halleck sharply disagreed on several issues. When it came time for elections, there were two meetings of stockholders. At the meeting in the railroad company’s office, John D. Perry, president of the Exchange Bank in St. Louis, Missouri, was elected president. In the other meeting held at another site in town, Fremont was elected president. However, Halleck pointed out that the eligibility to hold office depended on the strength of the shares of stock held in the company. Four months before either election, the company had assessed a ten percent payment on all stock. None of those at the meeting that elected Fremont had paid their assessment, which rendered the vote for Fremont ineligible.  
The Seminole, a UPRWED engine
On July 27, 1864, Hallett was killed by Orlando Talcott who had been brought to the railroad construction work by Fremont. However, when Fremont lost out on spring election, Talcott lost his job. After Samuel Hallett’s death, his brother, John, took over the project. However, Hallett’s death and the process of settling his estate, including the lawsuit brought by John D. Perry for the shares he had been promised by Hallett as part of his accepting the position of president, put a damper on the project.

Delay after delay held up the work. Most of the work was being done on the bridge over the Kansas River and on the line that would reach from the Pacific Railroad of Missouri to the Union Pacific, Eastern Division. The war was absorbing both men and materials, preventing John Hallett from getting the rails or the men he needed to lay them. Another problem was a heavy investor in the project, Thomas Durant, who also had a larg interest in the Union Pacific Railroad running out of Omaha. He diverted most of the available material to that line. The Kansas newspapers that followed the progress of this project closely expressed relief when Durant’s representative, Silas Seymour, was dismissed from the work in Kansas.

It soon became apparent to the Kansas Branch of the Union Pacific that it was not going to reach Fort Kearny ahead of the Omaha branch. Perry, then president of the Kansas Branch proposed to make the best of a bad situation. He asked Congress for permission to build his railroad up the Smoky Hill River to Denver – basically following the route of the Butterfield Overland Despatch Stagecoach Company – rather than up the Republican River to meet Nebraska line at Fort Kearney. Part of his arguments included that the Smoky Hill Valley route was 134 miles closer to Denver then the Republican route would be plus it had other benefits. On July 1, 1865, Congress finally let a new contract for the line to go to Denver, Colorado.

That change pleased the residents and businesses of Denver to no end since it gave them a more direct line to the east. In 1869, the company adopted the name of Kansas Pacific Railway. Its main line furnished a principal transportation route that opened up settlement of the central Great Plains of Kansas and Colorado Territory between Kansas City and Denver.

The Kansas Pacific Railway was consolidated with the Union Pacific in 1880, and its main line continues to be an integral part of the Union Pacific network today.

Although I refer to stagecoach travel, particularly along the Smoky Hill Trail in all three of my novels in the Widows, Brides & Secret Babies series, in my third book, railroads play a role. In September of 1867, my heroine, Penelope, finally leaves Lawrence, Kansas to marry the man she met through correspondence. She is able to ride the train to the end of track which, at first, is Buffalo Springs, a stagecoach station which, in 1867, is run by Wells, Fargo & Company. The tracks soon arrive at Fort Hays where my hero is temporarily assigned. However, between the availability of the railroad, Penelope still travels by stagecoach. What an adventure!

Trails of the Smoky Hill by Wayne C. Lee and Howard C. Raynesford;
Caxton Press; Caldwell, Idaho: 2008