Tuesday, October 27, 2020

IS THAT A WOMAN WITH A BADGE? by Marisa Masterson

 I needed a female police officer. That is, I needed one in the novel I was writing. She would appear at the moment my female lead was deciding whether or not to turn the abandoned child over to the police. The female officer would gently guide her toward a judge she knew.

The question for me was whether there even were females in Chicago's Police Department in the 1880s. Just who would offer the heroine of my novel help with the little girl she called Marsha?

Of course, my fingers flew over the computer keys as I searched the Internet for an answer--a clear answer so my book would be historically accurate. And what was the answer to whether there were women on the police force? 

Both yes and no!

In 1880, the first police matron was hired. She wasn't an officer, merely an employee of the police department. Her job, then? The hygiene of women and children.

No, she didn't run around with personal care products. Hygiene is better understood by looking at this old article in the Chicago Daily Tribune. It explained that temperance unions and a protective agency that looked after the welfare of women and children banded together to outline what a matron should be. Matrons were more like social workers than police officers. (https://www.chicagocop.com/download/chicago-daily-tribune-1891-august-22-changes-in-the-police-force-chief-mcclaughtry-discharges-and-fines-a-number-of-officers-what-a-police-matron-should-be/)

Actual police matron searching purse of arrested woman.
Police matron aiding police by searching arrested woman's purse.
Notice she has no uniform.

That worked perfectly with my novel. After all, I wanted someone who would see protecting little Marsha as her job. A woman who would know how adoption worked as well as the dangers for a child in the city.

And the first female police officer in Chicago? The matrons made the way for that. In 1891, a widow named Marie Owens had that distinction, earning a badge, full arrest powers, and the title of Detective Sergeant after working as an employee in a position similar to these matrons.

Here's a peek at my next novel. It's the scene I've described with the matron.

Frankie turned away from the building. She couldn’t do it.

If she went in, there was no way she would be able to keep her little angel. No way could she give her up now. Not when she felt sure they were meant to be together. Marsha was sent to be her little girl, and Frankie wouldn’t bother the police with the matter.

She’d already taken two steps away from the station when a female voice behind her called loudly. “Ma’am, how can I help you?”

Turning, Frankie pulled the shawl over Marsha’s face before looking at the woman. She wore a dark dress with a star pinned above her left breast. That badge meant she had to be one of the police matrons Frankie read about in the newspaper.

So incredible that women were doing a job that involving neither nursing the sick nor caring for children. Regardless of the refusal by the force to give these women an official uniform, the ladies continued doing any jobs that required a woman’s help. Frankie read that the matrons especially focused on the health and safety of women and children. This matron would be the perfect person for Frankie to speak with about Marsha.

A voice inside Frankie’s head urged caution. Speaking with the matron meant she might lose the girl. With a shake of her head, Frankie answered the woman. “I changed my mind.”

The matron’s narrow lips twisted as her brows raised. “I can see that you’ve gained a child recently. You’re dressed nicely in that lovely, fitted wool coat. The child has nothing but your shawl.”

Stunned at the woman’s observations, Frankie meekly allowed the woman to guide her to a nearby bench. “Now, I’m Matron O’Reilly.” 

The woman instructed in a no-nonsense voice similar to one Frankie used with her students. “Tell me how you and this little one met.”

Throughout Frankie’s retelling, the other woman’s unlined face remained expressionless. As if she reserved any reaction until she heard the whole story and had time to consider it. That reserve melted into fear when she read the sheet of paper Frankie carefully extracted from the smudged envelope.

“Ryan!” Matron O’Reilly’s voice held equal amounts of fear and awe. “I think a life in Wyoming might be the safest thing for this little one.”

The other woman’s tone frightened the typically unflappable schoolteacher. Frankie gripped the sleeping child closer to her breast and wondered what the police matron knew about the Ryan family.

Popping up from the bench with sudden determination, Matron O’Reilly settled hands on her hips as if she’d made a decision. “We need to see the judge.”

Frankie rose more slowly, rocking her body briefly to lull Marsha back to sleep. In the back of her throat, she tasted the sharp tang of tears gathering.

The matron took control and there was no escaping with Marsha now. Frankie’s voice dripped with equal amounts of frustration and sarcasm as she questioned the other woman.

“What can a judge do, other than take this little one away from me?”

On pre-order now at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KTK32L3.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Brief History of Lighthouses


Structures have been needed along coastlines to warn sailors for as long as people have put vessels into oceans, seas, and bays. The first lighthouse is thought to be The Lighthouse at Alexandria (Egypt) built in 256 BCE was believed to be about 330 feet tall, making it one of the seven wonders of the world at the time. Multiple earthquakes between 950 and 1323 CE tumbled the structure to ruins.

In the Unites States, lighthouses were first governed by the Lighthouse Establishment created in 1791 as part of the Treasury Department. Complaints from owners in the shipping industry prompted the 1852 creation of The US Lighthouse Board, a quasi-military organization that focused on modernizing the structures and equipment. Construction of many of the coastal lighthouse was completed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Their expertise was needed to determine which type of structure worked best for the designated location. After 1865, all lighthouses had Fresnel lenses (named after the developer French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel). The special design of the lens (flatter and with more angles) captures and beams more of the light from a single source. 

1-Fresnel lens; 2-convex lens from Wikipedia

Men recruited into the lighthouse service had to meet specific physical requirements and were responsible for detailed recordkeeping and maintenance to keep the equipment functional. Most lighthouses sit on bluffs or beaches overlooking an ocean where the light at the top of a tower shining at night marks the coastline to prevent ships from running aground. Some towers are built from a ground base (with attached house), and other rise from the second floor of a base structure where the lightkeeper lives. Because the structures also serve as daymarks for ships to chart their progression along a route, neighboring lighthouses have different overall designs or different patterns are painted on the towers. Due to remote lighthouse locations, lightkeepers often had to be self-sufficient by maintaining a vegetable garden and raising chickens and a cow. Supplies and mail were delivered by a light tender (person on a small boat) on a regular basis.

I’ve always found lighthouses fascinating, and I just released my second novella in the “Keepers of the Light” series titled Between Two Beaus.

When Gala’s decision to act as a fake fiancée threatens the balance among the trio of friends, she is torn between Hal, who has suddenly shown interest, and fulfilling her promise to Bork.

Amazon or free in Kindle Unlimited

If you want to learn more lighthouse facts, join the series Facebook page here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Halloween & Cemeteries - What people say

 Post by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines 


Photo property of the author

With Halloween just a few days away it seemed appropriate to look at what people say about the day and about cemeteries. 


“A person should always choose a costume which is in direct contrast to her own personality.” From "It's a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

"When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, 'tis near Halloween." Anonymous 

And I do like this one:

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam, may luck be your on Halloween." Anonymous

And of course, while not Halloween, one cannot forget the witches from the 'Scottish' play by Shakespeare.

"Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble."

Photo property of the author

Even the wonderful Ray Bradbury had something to say about the day:

"Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallow's Eve"

Dia de Los Muertos or the Mexican Day of the Dead is a celebration the occurs near the Halloween holiday. In simple terms, it is a celebration of those who have passed. One day a year, our departed come back to celebrate with us. For more on this celebration: Day of the Dead

And that leads us to cemeteries:

“Blasted grave marker. There sure are a bloody lot of them. They've got some nerve burying all these dead people here.”  from Camille

"There's no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can't do any business from there."
Colonel Sanders

"Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends."
Henry Ward Beecher

Photo property of the author

"The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a metaphor, not just for books but for ideas, for language, for knowledge, for beauty, for all the things that make us human, for collecting memory."
Carlos Ruiz Zafon

And one of my favorites is from the book 'Dead Beat' part of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher:

"The cemetery isn't open after dark. Most aren't, and there's a reason for it. Everybody knows the reason, and nobody talks about it. It isn't because there are dead people in there. It's because there are not-quite-dead people in there. Ghosts and shadows linger in graveyards more than anywhere else, especially in the older cities of the country, where the oldest, biggest cemeteries are right there in the middle of town. That's why people build walls around graveyards, even if they're only two feet high—not to keep people out, but to keep other things in. Walls can have a kind of power in the spirit world, and the walls around graveyards are almost always filled with the unspoken intent of keeping the living and the unliving seated at different sections of the community dinner table."

Photo property of the author

I hope you found a look at how people view Halloween and Cemeteries interesting. Below is an excerpt from my short story 'Gilbert Hopkins is Going to Die' in the anthology "Under Western Stars".

          “You’re going to die, Gilbert Hopkins, everyone does. But not today.” Gilbert said every morning upon arising, and every evening after his meal. “You have yet to make your mark on the world.” He also would remind himself at odd times during the day.
            The day was like so many others in his life. At the start of the day, Gilbert would put on the coffee, take care of his ablutions, then sit and prepare the list of his daily tasks. Day after day he followed this routine. At night he would review his list and add anything he felt should be included. In his mind, this was the perfect way to achieve his goal of making his mark in the world. Gilbert knew he was going to die, everyone did. However, he wanted to be remembered.
          From an early age, Gilbert always believed he would make a huge difference in the world. He’d pondered how he’d accomplish this goal and decided being a newspaperman was the way to achieve it. He’d studied important reporters and newspaper owners trying to learn their secrets. He made sure he went to school every single day soaking in all the teacher offered. When he decided he was ready, although only thirteen, he got a job with the local paper. He believed starting at the bottom was the best way to learn the business, even if it meant working in the evenings after school.
             After about six months, Gilbert started hinting to his boss that he should let him report on what was happening in the town around them.
          "Mr. Harper, I'm out and about a great deal and you would be surprised at how people talk when they think it's only a youngster standing nearby."
            Mr. Harper would stand there, hand smoothing his beard as if he were contemplating letting Gilbert try his hand at reporting. In the end, however, he would shake his head in the negative saying, "You may have a point, but I don't think you're ready."
           These setbacks only incited Gilbert to try again and again and again until finally, one evening when the two of them were closing up, Mr. Harper gave his assent.
         Gilbert smiled at himself in the mirror remembering that first story. It was about how the local mill owner was shortchanging his customers by a few ounces each. Gilbert cringed at the memory of Mr. Harper's response to his story.


Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Role of Women and the Flu Pandemic of 1918


The Role of Women and the Flu Pandemic of 1918

By, Annie Jones


The 1918 influenza pandemic is commonly known as the Spanish Flu, even though the virus did not originate in Spain.  During WWI, Spain was a neutral country and therefore was allowed to publish information and news updates about the pandemic freely. 

The war unfortunately contributed to the rapid spread of the virus since soldiers would live and train in close quarters with each other and then travel to other places where the infection would spread.  In fact, the Spanish flu (or H1N1) is estimated to have killed at least 50 million people, 675,000 in the United States alone. 

Alfred Crosby’s The Forgotten Pandemic was published in 1975 and gave the first comprehensive historical account of the H1N1 outbreak.  The caregivers during the epidemic were mostly women due to the shortage of labor who went to work as nurses to provide palliative care to the sick.  The efforts of these women went largely unhailed.  Because there were no pharmaceutical interventions that could treat the virus, the most common treatment measures included bed rest, isolation, pain relief, and warmth.  Women working as nurses became the primary caregivers during this time, risking infection to provide patients with nourishment, hydration, and blankets. 


Mabel Chilson was a student nurse at Fort Des Moines who wrote about ladies’ decisions to help in her school yearbook: “We wondered, ‘were we helpless or could we fight?  With eager determination we entered the ranks.’”  The accounts of the nurses were told through their diaries and letters, and despite the horrors of war and sickness, they also wrote about the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the welfare of others.  Miss Condell, a nursing student in Boston, said that the experience of ministering to patients taught nurses valuable lessons about endurance, self-discipline, and proper attitude.   

The shortage of male workers in the U.S. due to the combination of the war and the pandemic provided women with access to the labor market.  The number of women in the workforce increased by 25% and by 1920 women made up 21% of total employed Americans.  As they began to work outside the home, women also began to advocate for themselves for equal pay and the right to vote. 

It is interesting when we look back on history to see how the choices we make today could make a world of difference in people’s lives years from now.  I find this to be extremely encouraging and a reminder to be more intentional about the impact I have on others.  We never know how far a simple smile, a kind word, or a prayer may go. 


I am very excited to share that one of the historical romances I am writing now features a nurse who works at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Chicago in 1918.  This book will be published next year, so please be sure to follow my Amazon Author page to be notified when it is available for pre-order:


In the meantime, I have just published a children’s book about the power and legacy of love.  My 13-year-old daughter did the illustrations!  The paperback includes a coloring book section, positive affirmations, and pages for children to create their own artwork.  You can purchase it here:




About me:


I work as a disability counselor and feel honored to help people rediscover their wholeness in Spirit and navigate complex medical and legal systems.  I am also a professional book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and run my own blog, Annie's Book Nook, where I talk about upcoming releases in romance, mystery, and faith-based fiction.  https://annies-book-nook.blogspot.com/.  I'll be joining you here as featured blogger and author the 3rd Monday of every month.  


I’m excited to be starting my journey as a Christian fiction writer and have multiple historical and contemporary romances scheduled for upcoming publication.  I welcome the opportunity to connect with others so please feel free to “Friend” me on Facebook under my full name:  Anne Kemerer Jones.  https://www.facebook.com/anne.k.jones.555



1.      The Influenza Pandemic and The War


2.     Medical Innovations:  From the 1918 Pandemic to a Flu Vaccine


3.     Women:  The Unsung Heroes of the 1918 Flu Pandemic




Thursday, October 15, 2020

Sweet Americana Sweethearts Welcomes Author Annie Jones


About Annie Jones:

Annie Jones has always liked playing "dress-up" - hence she wears many hats: As a clean Christian romance author, Annie is fulfilling a lifelong dream of crafting stories that entertain, encourage, and inspire. Professionally, Annie works as a disability counselor, helping people navigate through complex medical and legal systems and rediscover their wholeness in Spirit.

In addition, Annie is professional book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and runs her own blog, Annie's Book Nook, where she talks about upcoming releases in romance, mystery, and faith-based fiction. She has also written a special children's book dedicated to her father with illustrations by her teen daughter which you can find on her Amazon Author Page. She will soon be publishing historical romance. Join her on her Blog or Facebook account under her full name, Anne Kemerer Jones.


Monday, October 12, 2020

The Algonquian Language Peoples by Zina Abbott


According to my cell phone calendar, today—traditionally called Columbus Day—is now also known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I decided to focus on one large group of people indigenous to North America—the Algonquian language tribes. I have often used tribes from this linguistic group as characters in my stories.

Algonquin Couple

There is an Algonquin (or Algonkin) tribe, who live in Canada. Most live in Quebec. Today, the nine Algonquin bands in that province and one in Ontario have a combined population of about 11,000. The Algonquin peoples call themselves either Omàmiwinini (plural: Omàmiwininiwak) or the more generalised name of Anicinàpe. Culturally and linguistically, they are closely related to the Odawa and Ojibwe, with whom they form the larger Anicinàpe grouping.

The tribe has also given its name to the much larger heterogeneous group of Algonquian-speaking peoples who stretch from the Atlantic seaboard states of the United States, north into Canada, and west as far as the Great Plains. Many Algonquins still speak the Algonquin language, called generally Anicinàpemowin or specifically Omàmiwininìmowin. The language is considered one of several divergent dialects of the Anishinaabe languages.

Pre-contact distribution of Algonquian languages

These are dozens of distinct Native American tribes who speak languages that are related to each other. Before the days of DNA, linguistics was the primary way to trace the different tribes to determine migration patterns and possible common ancestry.

Lenni Lenape Women

It is difficult to make generalizations about "Algonquian” indigenous people because of the differences developed in their cultures based on where they settled and how they adapted to their environments. Life among the northern woodland tribes was much different than among those Algonquian tribes who settled on the Great Plains and hunted buffalo. The Wiyot and Yurok tribes in California also speak an Algonquian-based language.

Lenni Lenape Man


The following tribes are considered Algonquian based on linguistics:

Abenakis, Algonquins, Arapahos, Attikameks, Blackfeet, Cheyennes, Crees, Gros Ventre, Illini, Kickapoo, Lenni Lenape/Delawares, Lumbees (Croatan Indians), Mahicans (including Mohicans, Stockbridge Indians, and Wappingers), Maliseets, Menominees, Sac and Fox, Miamis, Métis/Michif, Mi'kmaq/Micmacs, Mohegans (including Pequots, Montauks, Niantics, and Shinnecocks), Montagnais/Innu, Munsees, Nanticokes, Narragansetts, Naskapis, Ojibways/Chippewas, Ottawas, Passamaquoddy, Penobscots, Potawatomis, Powhatans, Shawnees, Wampanoags (including the Massachusett, Natick, and Mashpee), Wiyot, and Yurok. [I have bolded the names of tribes I personally have researched and written about.]

Since I write mostly western historical romance, most of my research has been on those tribes from the Midwest and the Great Plains. Here is how some of them are organized, based on language:

  Central Algonquian Languages

Ojibwe Woman
      Cree-Innu Languages

          Atujanekw (Tete de Boule)


          Michif (Cree-French creole)


      Ojibwan Languages

          Algonkin (Algonquin)

Ojibwe Man
          Ojibwe (Chippewa, Ojibwa, Ojibway)

          Ottawa (Odawa)



          Mewquaki-Sauk (Sac and Fox)



Blackfoot Man

  Plains Algonquian Languages

      Arapahoan Languages


          Gros Ventre (Atsina)

      Blackfoot (Siksika, Peigan, Blackfeet)


As far as culture goes, I cannot cover it for all the tribes in this post. Each Algonquian tribe had different cultures and traditions. I will leave some of the hyperlinks from some of my sources for readers to click on and follow if interested.

A 16th-century sketch of the Algonquian village of Pomeiock.

Traditionally, the Algonquins lived in either a birch bark wìkiwàm or in wooden mìkiwàm. Some Algonkian villages, particularly in the east, were permanent and had palisades (fortified walls) around them. Other Algonquian tribes were semi-nomadic and moved their houses frequently. Those who migrated from the Northern Woodlands area to the Plains used buffalo hides to make tipis, or teepees.

Arapaho village- Harper's Monthly March 1880 - ctsy Wyoming State Archives


Traditionally, the Algonquins were practitioners of Midewiwin; they believed they were surrounded by many manitòk. With the arrival of the French, many Algonquins were proselytized to Christianity, but many still practice Midewiwin or co-practice Christianity and Midewiwin.

After contact with the Europeans, the Algonkins became one of the key players in the fur trade. This led them to fight against the Iroquois because of their rivalry in the fur trade.

Being primarily hunting- and fishing-based societies, mobility was essential. Material used had to be light and easy to transport.  Most Algonquian Indians who lived in the northern woodland areas made birch bark or dugout canoes for transportation by water. They were sewed with spruce roots and rendered waterproof by the application of heated spruce resin and grease. During winter, the northern tribes used toboggans to transport material. People used snowshoes and dogsleds to travel in winter.

Although the historical Algonquin society was largely hunters and fishers, some Algonquins practiced agriculture and cultivated corn, beans, and squash, particularly south of the Great Lakes where the climate allows for a larger growing season. Other notable indigenous crops historically farmed by Algonquins are the sunflower and tobacco. Even among groups who mainly hunted, agricultural products were an important source of food and were obtained by trading with or raiding societies that practiced larger amounts of agriculture. The more southern Algonquian-speaking tribes of New England relied predominantly on slash and burn agriculture. They cleared fields by burning for one or two years of cultivation, after which the village moved to another location.

Ojibwe gathering wild rice in birch bark canoe


The Ojibwe who settled around the great lakes cultivated wild rice. The Ojibwe also collected maple sap and used it for both food and trade.

Hunters and warriors usually used bows and arrows, spears, and heavy wooden clubs.

Lenni Lenape Woman

Children had dolls and toys, such as a miniature bow and arrow or hand-held game. Most Algonquian mothers traditionally carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs. For babies, tikinàgan (cradleboard) were used to carry them. It was built with wood and covered with an envelope made of leather or material. The baby was standing up with his feet resting on a small board. The mother would then put the tikinàgan on her back. This allowed the infant to look around and observe his surroundings, therefore start learning how everyday tasks were done.

Each tribe had its own form of government. Most Algonquian tribes had some form of tribal council. Some tribes' councils were made up of the leaders of each village, others were made up of the leaders of each clan (large extended family), and still others were made up of warriors who had distinguished themselves as battle. Usually a principal leader, or chief, presided over the council. In some tribes either men or women could be council members and chiefs, and in others only men could do this. It depended on each tribe's culture. Some tribes didn't have chiefs at all. Instead each village or clan had its own leader and they were all equal in stature. Other tribes did not have councils and the ruler was more like a king than a chief.

Cheyenne Man

One thing of interest to note was, many of the Algonquian tribes were matrilineal. That meant that the people traced their lineage through their mothers’ clans. Even in my research on the Ojibwa people where, in more recent times, they have been patrilineal with the clans being traced through the fathers’ clans, there is a belief that, at one time, the bands were matrilineal.


Cheyenne Girl

The Cheyenne, for all their being a strong warrior society, was matrilineal (and matrilocal, meaning, the daughters and their families in the same clan lived by each other. If a woman lost her husband, she had her brothers and other men in the clan to rely on.) This interesting tidbit I found in The Cheyenne Wars Atlas:

The Cheyenne society was democratic in nature with a social structure built upon the family. They had a reverence for individual freedoms tempered by a respect for the needs of the people. In the Cheyenne tribal organization, the family was the basic social unit. A family grouping, called a kindred, began with the lodge of the family head, branched out with the lodges of his other wives, and again with the lodges of the daughters and their husbands.

I might also point out that among the Cheyenne, although a man might have multiple wives, the additional wives were generally the sisters of his first wife—a practice intended to maintain peace in the family.

As tribes like the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Blackfeet moved onto the plains and adopted the horse culture, they relied more on hunting than agriculture for their food.

I cannot begin to give an in-depth explanation of the Algonquian-speaking indigenous people of North America. However, I encourage all who have Native American ancestry, or those who write stories that include Native American characters to make a point to do more than a casual research of each tribe of interest. I find the information I've discovered to be interesting and fascinating. I try to share a bit of that “interest” in my own writing.

The last four books I wrote dealt with the Kansas Plains, including references to primarily the Cheyenne, and less to the Arapaho and Sioux tribes (A Siouan-language tribe from the Dakotas and eastern Montana, the former homeland of the Cheyenne). Here are all five of my books set on the Kansas Plains:


MAIL ORDER ROSLYN – mybook.to/MORoslyn

MAIL ORDER LORENA – mybook.to/MOLorena

MAIL ORDER PENELOPE mybook.to/MOPenelope

HANNAH’S HIGHEST REGARD – mybook.to/HannahHiRgd








Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis, Native Languages of the Americas http://www.bigorrin.org/algonquian_kids.htm



Collins, Charles D. Jr., The Cheyenne Wars Atlas. Combat Studies Institute Press; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

George Catlin was the artist who painted many of the color portraits I used