Tuesday, November 24, 2020


 "Go West, young man!" Horace Greeley's words and Manifest Destiny had many men, both single and with families, heading to western territories of the United States after the Civil War. Land was cheap or even free for the men who'd fought for the Union cause. (Southern soldiers didn't experience the same benefits, but that's another topic for a blog.)

Oregon Trail ruts near Guernsey, WY
Where did they head? Two names probably pop into your head--Oregon and California. After all, those were the famous trails, even before the Civil War. The ruts for the Oregon Trail can still be seen after wagons traveled it for decades. But what about the other western states? What about the Wyoming Territory?

Wyoming didn't even become a territory until 1868. Even then, the population of settlers was very low. In an 1870 census, only 9,118 were living in the territory. (I couldn't discover if that included marginialized populations like Native Americans or Mexicans.) Towns were very small and very new. For example, Laramie had only 828 residents. Casper isn't even listed with residents on the census until 1890. (http://eadiv.state.wy.us/demog_data/cntycity_hist.htm)

Places like Wyoming and Arizona truly were the last territories for Western Expansion. Settlers could still get cheap land even after Oregona and California were well settled. After 1862, homesteaders could have the land for free if conditions were met by the man--21 years old, settled for 5 years, etc. Still, homesteaders didn't flock to the state but traveled through it to continue to either Oregon or California.

So how did Wyoming eventually become settled by the white population? Two things led to that--the railroad and a large amount of open, public land. 

The railroad made travel to the territory easier and safer. Also, railroads were given land by the government on either side of their tracks. They sold this to settlers, often advertising in foreign countries and including the price of travel in the package they sold. 

Once people knew that there was a large amount of public land that could be used for grazing, huge herds of cattle were driven up from Texas in the 1870s. This decade was nicknamed "the beef bonanza". (https://trib.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/wyomings-homesteading-past/article_84f0d5e6-e636-5600-8f44-72d241047a55.html)

I used this research to imagine a small town in Wyoming at the threshold of statehood. Even in 1889, when I set my novel, small towns were popping up. The one in my novel is only four or five years old. It is struggling to establish a local government and people in the area want their first school. It's the reason my heroine goes as both a bride and a teacher to Scrub Brush, Wyoming (a make-believe town based on research).

Here's an excerpt to imagine the scene--

“We need someone quickly!”

Voices rose, seconding that demand. Mayor Boswick Carter stood with his palms facing out, trying to calm the townspeople.

“Every last man here knows we don’t have money to go hirin’ a teacher. Not unless he’ll work for nickels and be willin’ to move from home to home each month.”

Then Boss—as he’d been nicknamed early on by his mother who hated the name her husband insisted on using--looked around the room. “That is, if y’all are willin’ to house him.”

Mutters and shrugs came in response. From the back, a woman stood. A woman! Every one of those gentle critters knew to keep quiet in his meetings.

“Don’t have to be a him. Could be a woman teacher.”

The frustrated mayor sighed and returned to his seat. “Jack, control your woman.”

Jack Fuller rose to stand beside his female, smoothing his sandy colored hair with a trembling hand. “Boss, this is my wife, not just some woman. And, she has a point.”

At his wife’s nudge, Jack added, “With the crops in, not too many months before the snow’ll keep us at home. We need a teacher to set the kids to lessons they can be doin’ all winter.”

From his spot in the front, Boss watched heads turn toward the farm couple. He respected what Jack had to say, even if he thought the man was a little loose when it came to controlling Evelyn, Jack’s wife.

When Boss stared along with the rest of the room, Jack continued in a more confident voice. “Wyoming’s a place that women teachers want to come to, so I hear. ‘Specially if they still let women vote after we’re made a state.”

Boss couldn’t stop the sound from coming out. He snorted derisively at the last bit Jack said. Giving women the vote! Well, that hadn’t happened in Scrub Brush. Not yet. And, if he could do anything as mayor to stop it, it never would.

Evelyn Fuller took offense at the mayor’s snort. He could see the woman bristle, arms akimbo, and sighed. “Yes, Mrs. Fuller, what do you want to say?”

“Well, Mayor Carter, seems the answer to gettin’ a teacher is as easy as orderin’ up one of those mail-order brides. We just need a man to order a woman who’s a trained teacher.”

Sounds of approval rippled through the crowd, encouraging Evelyn. “She could be part teacher and part wife. Havin’ classes for our kids even three days a week’d be somethin’ grand.”

Elmer Dodge, the barber, jumped up as if he’d just landed his backside on a tack. “I propose we order a mail-order teacher.”

“I second that.” Ed Jones, the mercantile owner, hopped up and shook a fist. “I need my wife in the store, not teaching our three.”

Clyde Winters, another farmer, stood. “A good mayor would care ‘bout the families.” Boss heard more than one Amen as people responded to that comment, setting his teeth on edge. He had his livery to run and the smithy. Even so, he set that aside to see to things for the town.

Ed wasn’t done. He hammered a beefy fist into his palm. “We gotta have a teacher for the lil ones. Just cuz you don’t got any kids, don’t mean ya can ignore this, Mr. Mayor.”

That was true. Boss Carter was a crusty old bachelor. Having reached the age of forty last year, he believed he’d never marry. First a lost love and then the need to build his businesses prevented him from finding a wife. Now, he was too set in his ways.

At the back, Evelyn Fuller poked her husband as she whispered frantically. For just a second, Boss was mesmerized by the speed of the woman’s lips as he watched from behind the preacher’s podium.

Imagine living with that nag! It took a great deal of will power to keep from shuddering at the thought.

Jack Fuller jumped to his feet and spoke quickly. “Elmer, you can’t just order up a teacher. She’s gonna have to be someone’s wife. That way we don’t need to house ‘er or pay ‘er much.”

Before Boss could take control, Elmer popped up again. “Well, I’ll just add that to my proposal. We order up a mail-order bride who’s a teacher.”

Clyde jumped to his feet and shouted, “I second it.”

Boss sat back for a moment. It was almost too much, like Elmer and Clyde were actors on a stage. Boss would probably laugh at the scene if he watched it in a play. Here in the church, it annoyed him and wasn’t funny.

Ed Jones heckled from his seat. “Come on, Mr. Mayor. Ya got a proposal afore the town. Let’s vote.”

Weary and audibly groaning at the stupidity of the idea started by Jack’s woman, Boss rose. With his elbows at his side, he motioned with palms downward for the people to be quiet. Wanting to hear what he had to say, they let a blanket of silence fall over them.

Shaking his head as if he regretted what he was forced to say, Boss added a tinge of sadness to his tone. “A town can’t order up a bride, folks. A groom’s the only one that does such.”

He pointed to the back. “The Fullers have a good idea for affordin’ a teacher, but I can’t see how it’d work without a groom for the woman.”

The heckler was at it again. Ed Jones stood and stepped out into the aisle of the small church where the community met. Pointing a finger at Boss, he looked at him meaningfully.

“You was duly elected to serve this town. Well, I see a groom sittin’ in the mayor’s chair!”

Typical of Clyde Winters, he had to add his two cents to this mess. “You been complaining ‘bout makin’ meals and such. Wantin’ a housekeeper, you said.”

The man paused to look around the room, as usual wanting to make sure all eyes were on him. “Well, here’s the perfect solution. Make sure you ask for a woman that can both teach and cook.”

This farce wasn’t over. Elmer popped up. “I want to add that to my proposal. We need to order a mail-order bride for Boss Carter. One who can teach and cook.”

Of course, Clyde seconded the proposal. Again. Before he sat down, he added, “It’s not like you got lots of prospects.”

Now it was getting personal! Boss needed to put the brakes on this mess. Okay, he did get mighty lonely on winter nights and a companion would go a long way in easing the ache of being alone.

Still standing, he cleared his throat loudly. Voices continued to buzz in the room. He held his arms in front of him, palms out. The noise actually rose in volume with people ignoring his gesture.

They were stirred up, sure as shootin’. These were his people, and more than anything, Boss loved this town that had become a sort of family for him.

Elmer suddenly spoke above the noise. “Clyde, what’s to keep the woman from leavin’ once she gets here?”

Opinions flew around the room. Boss held his head and groaned. Then he looked out at the crowd and lifted his hands to settle the people. It didn’t work.

Not able to calm the people, Boss walked to Elmer and motioned for him to come out into the aisle. When he did, Boss whispered to him. The barber motioned for Clyde to join them, and the mercantile owner moved quickly, not wanting to be left out. Boss spoke in a low tone to both men, and Clyde let out a loud whoop.

That sound created a wave of curious murmurs before a sudden hush descended on the church. Rather than letting Boss make the announcement, Elmer spoke. Satisfaction beamed from his round face.

“No votin’ tonight, folks. The mayor’s agreed to place the advertisement for a proxy teacher-bride. Wants to do it of his own free will, kind of as a favor to the town. He’ll get her married to him before she comes.”

The idea of a proxy bride stumped many in the crowd. Faces turned in question to their neighbors. Boss cleared his throat meaningfully and lifted his hands, palms outward.

“Proxy just means she won’t take my money for a ticket and not come. And, she can’t leave once she step off the train if the woman don’t like the looks of our town.”

A cheer chorused from the thirty or so people gathered. The sound nearly raised the roof off of the simple wood-framed building. Reverend Jackson actually seemed worried about the noise. Boss noted that as he smiled inwardly at the man’s expression.

Then the import of what he’d agreed to hit the mayor. Why should the preacher be worried? He wasn’t the one who agreed, moments before, to marry a stranger sight unseen.

From the bestselling author of Ruby’s Risk comes a fast-paced and suspense-filled romance that's currently the #1 new release on Amazon in Western Religious Fiction.

This miracle child is not Frankie's, so why does she risk her marriage to keep the little girl? Frankie's worry is only about her proxy groom. She has no idea of the danger that follows the child.

Frances "Frankie" Elder is brutally frank. It's what led to her firing by the school board. The advertisement for a bride/teacher seems heaven sent. The fact that her groom demands a proxy marriage doesn't faze her. She was already sure this would be a business arrangement rather than a real marriage.

On her way from Wisconsin to Wyoming, Frankie stops in Chicago to buy warmer clothing. Instead, she ends up with a child. What's a woman to do? She's longed for a little one. Besides, the girl clings to her, craving love. But will her husband find the girl as irresistible as she does?

Boswick "Boss" Carter is the first mayor of Scrub Brush, Wyoming. When the town demands a teacher, he agrees to send for a mail-order bride who's a trained teacher. Winter nights are lonely and he's a terrible cook. This will solve both his problem and the town's.

To be sure the woman doesn't cheat him out of the cost of a ticket, he demands she marry him by proxy. Of course, he doesn't bother taking part in a proxy ceremony. That way he can decide if he'll keep her.

What should be a business arrangement quickly becomes a matter of the heart. The three would be a happy family, if only the kidnappers stopped coming at night. Who's sending them and how can they keep their adopted child safe?

Available now on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


 Post by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

I recently came across the phrase 'talking with the dead'. Initially, I thought it sounded rather morbid until I thought about what it was really about. To me, it's connecting with the past in ways we might not think about. This also follows an earlier post about what inspires your stories. For those who would like to take a look at that post, here is the link: What Inspires Your Stories 

The second post on inspiring stories: Talking with the Dead- Photographs

This post will focus on Cemeteries.  I know you may be thinking I'm talking about seances and such, but it's more about reading the headstones, taking in the style, and sometimes researching to find out more. 

One headstone I saw drew me in. It is almost faded and I felt I needed to find out more before the name completely disappears. The name is Jahn Jankovitz. The dates listed are 1848-1915. You can see the stone had been broken at one time. So who was Jahn (John) Jankovitz? According to Ancestry, he was born in Austria. He owned property east of Colorado Springs near the town of Calhan. He was Catholic and died of blood poisoning. He had a wife, but she doesn't have a headstone in the cemetery that I can tell. That may be a story worth following up to find out what happened to her. 

Photo property of the author

Gerald de Coursey was born in 1833 in Pennsylvania. His father, Samuel, was a sea captain. He worked at an importing house in PA before moving to Colorado Springs in 1872 to work as the secretary/treasurer of the Colorado Springs Company and secretary of the National Land Improvement Company. He died at the age of forty-one. His obituary in the local paper sang his praises as a man who was good at details, modest, and generally liked my most. His life, when you start to put the puzzle pieces together, is fascinating. 

Another person who I've written about before, Helen (Hunt) Jackson, had this to say about de Coursey and his final resting place

"Below on the soft, pink planes is a grave. It lies in the shade of great pines on a low hill to the west of town. Surely, never did a little colony find ready to its hand, a lovelier burial place than this. Long ago there must have been watercourses among these low hills, else these pines could never have grown as high and strong. The watercourses are dried now and only Barron Sands lie around the roots of the great trees, but still they live and flourish as green in December as in June, and the wind in their branches chance endless chance above the graves. This grave that we love lies with four pines guarding it closely, on a westward slope which holds the very last rays of the setting sun. We look up into the glorious snow-topped peaks which pierce the sky, and the way seems very short over which our friend has gone."

Photo property of the author

Maybe the next time you look for inspiration or just information, you might spend some time among the stones of a cemetery. From there you can use Ancestry, Digital Newspapers to find even more about who is resting there. So much history and so many stories waiting to be told if we spend some time 'talking with the dead'. 

One of the stories I'm working on is about a runaway boy who is taken in by a spinster. Here is a short excerpt from the rough draft:

The snow kept falling and Harold was worried. Miss Geraldine was feeling poorly, and the wind had drifted the snow up past the windows. Now, while the wind had died down, the temperature was steadily dropping.

Moving away from the window, Harold walked back to the kitchen where he’d moved the daybed. It was the warmest room in the house, but the woodpile was getting low. He’d need to venture outside for more fairly soon.

Harold tried to be quiet, but Geraldine, her cheeks flushed, spoke, “Harold, it will be okay. We all have our time on the earth, but it isn’t forever.”

Kneeling, Harold took her hand in his large one, “Don’t talk like that. You will be fine before you know it.”

Geraldine patted his larger one with her free hand. “We never know when our time will come, we only can do the best we can while here.”

Harold started to say something but her eyes closed, her hand dropping away.

Damn snow!”

Doris Gardner-McCraw -

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2020

History and Glamorization of the Outlaw in the Old Wild West


History and Glamorization of the Outlaw in the Old Wild West

By, Annie Jones

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Wild West outlaws, the TV westerns my parents watched when I was growing up such as “Gunsmoke” and “The Rifleman” come to mind.  Since I was raised in rural Texas next to a cattle ranch, it was common for me to see cowboys riding their horses down the street.  I kind of felt like I was actually living in the Wild West (and some would say I actually was, since Texas is its own country you know, LOL!)

Since I now live in the big city of Seattle, I find myself often reminiscing to those days when I could look in any direction and there was nothing but land and sky as far as the eye could see.

Hence, writing historical Western-themed fiction probably came naturally to me.  Since my book releasing in Spring, 2021, Dalton’s Dual Brides, features an outlaw named Butler Robb (along with some treasure he supposedly buried on our hero’s land before he was caught and hanged), I decided to look more into the history of outlaw culture in the late 19th century.

From around 1850 to 1890, the western frontier had little in the way of government law or police.  Men carried guns to protect their families and property.  There were outlaws who stole from people and lawmen who tried to stop them and seek justice.

I had no idea that Billy the Kid, was actually not a thief and killed more men in self-defense than out of malice.  He, like some men, became outlaws simply by backing the wrong side or getting in with the wrong people.  I think we see that even today, where “good” people make poor choices for one reason or another.

Historically, when the first white settlers came out West in hopes of finding fortune during the gold-rush, the unforgiving natural terrain and the resistance put up by aggrieved indigenous occupants of the land made travel a serious risk.  Would-be settlers heading out west in wagon trains were thus vulnerable to everything from severe weather to Native American raiding parties, bandit attacks and opportunistic crime. As the colonists, immigrants and prospectors travelled with all their possessions and whatever money and gold they owned, they made for easy targets.

Community-led justice was evident all over.  Punishment was harsh, and there was much vigilantism.

Things only got worse when a carpenter named James W Marshall struck gold at Sutter’s Mill on 24 January 1848.  In the California Gold Rush that followed, men from all over the world arrived in the hope of getting rich.  This created a social situation where the only recreational outlets were brothels, saloons and gaming houses.  

The American Civil War (1861–65) also had a major impact on the West too as the men who lived through it were often experienced shooters and desensitized to violence.  One example of men like this was Jesse James and his brother Frank, who after the war, put their skills in robbing banks.

Shortly after the Civil War ended, the ‘golden spike’ was hammered home at Promontory Summit, Utah, which symbolically connected two rail tracks, Central Pacific and Union Pacific, to create the First Transcontinental Railroad.

The railroad of course brought major changes to the West, and more opportunities for outlaw gangs to rob entire families of their possessions on their way to settle the frontier.   

Private agencies assumed the role of law enforcers and property protectors too. The best-known of these was the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, established by Scotsman Allan Pinkerton, a pioneering detective and spy.  He had been appointed Chicago’s first detective in 1849 then launched the North-Western Police Agency, which became the Pinkertons.

After the war, Pinkerton established a private law-enforcement agency and detectives chased Butch and Sundance right down into South America but failed to capture the notorious Jesse James who was later shot in the back by one of his kin who sought the ransom money.

Hollywood depicts the Wild West as a bountiful paradise tamed by swaggering heroes such the ones played by the iconic actor, John Wayne.  He was the archetypal cowboy hero riding in to save maidens from distress.  However, the truth of frontier life was very different from the gilded myth – and it rarely had a happy ending due to inclement weather, lawlessness, loneliness, and back-breaking work for little pay.  In fact, I read that one female homesteader wrote in her diary about being undecided as to whether to kill a chicken for supper or spare it as her only companion!!

It is clear that this unique era and the dramatic stories of the actual lives of real people have continued to capture the imagination of audiences to this very day.  I am proud to be among them and can’t wait to bring you more of the stories we love set during this fascinating time of American history.

My book, Dalton’s Dual Brides, part of the Matchmaker’s Mix-Up series, will be available for pre-order April 1st, and A Bride for Big Ed, part of the Proxy Bride services, will be available May 1st.  And stay tuned for four more books after that throughout 2021!

My website and newsletter are currently in developed and will be ready in another month or two.

In the meantime, I recently 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 on this 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.          https://www.ducksters.com/history/westward_expansion/famous_gunfighters.php2.

2.         https://www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/wild-west-how-lawless-was-american-frontier/ 

3.         https://www.historyextra.com/period/modern/how-the-wild-west-was-spun/


4.         https://thewildwest.org/


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Read a Book, Help a Cowboy

 by Shanna Hatfield

Today is a day I look forward to every year - and you're invited to get in on the fun!

My 7th annual Cowboys and Christmas celebration takes place from 10 am. to 2 p.m. (Pacific Time) on Facebook today. I hope you'll join me and sixteen of my friends for four hours of games, giveaways, fun, and shenanigans! 

Even if you can't stay for the whole party, pop in when you can! The giveaways will remain open until tomorrow morning. 

If you love sweet romances  (both historical and contemporary), then this is one event you don't want to miss!  

If you attend the party, you'll also get the scoop on my upcoming release, The Christmas Wish!

Hope to see you there!

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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


 The authors who blog for Sweet Americana Sweethearts remember and pay tribute to those who served and those who gave their lives in in wars to protect freedom.

  • Veterans Day
  • Remembrance Day 


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Thanksgiving our National Holiday by Kimberly Grist

Even though George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789 to recognize the success and conclusion of the War of Independence, for the most part, the recognition of an official holiday was a state or local affair. Typically the governors would select a date in late November or December. 

The first Thanksgiving included venison and fowl, such as geese, ducks, and possibly turkeys. Cranberries and currants would have grown wild in the area. Walnuts, chestnuts, beechnuts, shellfish, beans, pumpkins, and corn were abundant. Although there is no way to be certain, it is unlikely that the fowl would have been stuffed with anything other than onions or herbs. However, both native Americans and the early colonists were known to use cranberries to flavor their meat.

As a result, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie became tied to the holiday and part of the New England tradition. Writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale tried for many years to establish a national Thanksgiving holiday, similar to Independence Day. In 1827, as an editor of Boston's Ladies Magazine, she began writing essays calling for a national holiday. 

In 1846 as editor of Godey's Lady Book, she launched a letter-writing campaign to enlist support for her cause. She wrote directly to President Zachary Taylor in 1849, asking him to reinstate a National Day of Thanksgiving.

Sarah knew that America was growing fast and believed a national celebration could help bring the country together. In her 1860 editorial, she wrote, "The New National Holiday would awaken in American hearts the love of home and country, of thankfulness to God, and peace between brethren."

But the idea of a celebration after the harvest was certainly nothing new. The cattle drive ended by the end of November, and farmers would have completed their harvest; both would be a cause of a celebration.

Unsuccessful, she continued her quest and wrote letters to five Presidents. Finally, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

Over the years, Sarah published articles and recipes for roast turkey with sage dressing, mashed potatoes, and pies that to this day are associated with the celebration. By the time Thanksgiving became an official national holiday, her magazine had already inspired women to want to participate.

Roasted turkey, stuffed and basted took center stage at the head of the table. In the 1850s, Victorian sensibilities took offense at the word "stuffing" and the term "dressing" became in vouge. 

In the America West, cooks developed their own "stuffing" recipes. blending traditions from the North and South while taking advantage of local heritage. For example, cooks in the Pacific Northwest used seafood in stuffing, adding clams and mussels to the traditional oyster.


A Recipe for disaster or love? Magnolia's Measure is available at 99 cents for a limited time. 

Choosing to participate with a matrimonial agency as a mail-order bride, Magnolia proceeds methodically and uses her skills as a cook to create the perfect recipe for a husband.

 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, emphasizing Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun. 

Connect with Kimberly:

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kimberly-grist
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/FaithFunandFriends/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GristKimberly
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Grist/e/B07H2NTJ71


Monday, November 9, 2020

Research Patchwork for Gift of Restitution by Zina Abbott


Often, a lot of time goes into research both before an author begins writing and during the process. Here are some snippets I ended up "checking out" before and during writing Gift of Restitution: a Story for Christmas.

Fortunately, most of my research regarding Cantonese migration to California, and the state of the tongs in Chinatown in the mid-1880s I did for my previous book, Escape from Gold Mountain. I also did a small amount of research on the Ojibwe tribe for the earlier book. The main reason I chose that tribe for the one to whom my hero, Luke McDaniels' grandmother, belonged was because, in 1884, Minnesota was one of the few states in which Chinese persons could marry a Caucasian/white person, or one perceived to have no Native ancestry.

However, before I started Gift of Restitution, set in Minnesota on one of the Ojibwe reservations, I had more research to do. Where were the reservation/s and which should I choose? I wanted one near a larger city. I discovered that, in Minnesota, the Ojibwe bands were in the north of the state, and Sioux bands were in the south. I decided on the Fond du Lac band, because their reservation is close to Duluth which is on Lake Superior. It fit my scenario of how Luke left his home years earlier, and Duluth was a fairly large city.

One issue of frustration for me was the accepted spelling of Ojibwe. This tribe was also known among the whites as Chippewa. The spelling can also be Ojibwa--the version my Word and Blogger spell-checkers insist is correct, Ojibwe, which is the version I see most often on websites by or about this tribe, or Ojibway. I bowed to technological pressure with my first book and spelled it Ojibwa. For consistency's sake, I did so in my current book, also. I prefer Ojibwe.

 The location of Minnesota, the proximity to a large body of water, and climate information available online confirmed my assumption it is a cold country compared to much of the United States. So, how did the Ojibwe dress? I did a little research on that. The woman, particularly, is dressed for winter.

My Cantonese character, Ling Loi, who, in this book, uses the name Joy, now lives with her husband in her mother-in-law's wickiup. She helps decorate leather goods to be sold in the surrounding cities. I knew Chinese women who were not forced to work in the fields spent much of their time doing embroidery. 

So, how did Chinese embroidery compare to the bead work and stitchery of the Ojibwe? I decided it was close enough, Joy could be a big help to the family this way.

Also, note the style of the moccasins. Most samples online show low-cut moccasins, but these show the "puckered toe" style for which this tribe is known. My guess is, it was developed to keep the water from the wet ground from seeping inside easily. Here is another sample of Ojibwe artwork.

Traditionally, the Ojibwe lived in wickiups. They are round structures made of wood, bark and woven mats. Originally, they had a smoke hole in the top, center of the roof. With progress, many installed wood-burning stoves, as evidenced by this image with the pipe sticking up over the roof of the wickiup.

So, did the Ojibwe invest in those fancy, cast-iron stoves for their small homes? Possibly. I also saw this image which struck me as something a resourceful person without a lot of money would use. I wrote my story with Odette, Joy's "honorable mother-in-law," using a metal drum stove for heating and cooking.


In this story, Luke returns by train to the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain region of eastern California and western Nevada. He had his reasons why he did not wish to go back to California. Initially, I planned to write the story so that he traveled by the transcontinental railroad which had a depot in Reno, Nevada, and that was the end of his journey. He would request to be met there. It was about 120 miles north of the person Luke wished to contact. This 1885 Sanborn map changed my mind.

This snippet shows the Southern Pacific (the Central Pacific RR sold out to them by this time.) Railroad depot. Their tracks are the ones north of the depot. The single track to the south next to the white arrow is the track for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. That line runs from Reno south a little over thirty miles to Carson City, the capital of the state of Nevada, before it turns east and then north to the big mining communities in Nevada. Luke took this railroad to get as close to California as he could by rail.










I hope you enjoyed this patchwork of research vignettes, many of them discovered "on the fly" while I wrote Gift of Restitution, a Story for Christmas. This book is on preorder and is scheduled for release on Monday, November 16th. Please CLICK HERE. Here is the book description:

     A year after Luke McDaniels broke away from the control of two eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain outlaws and freed Ling Loi from the Chinese brothel in Lundy, one aspect of their escape still plagues his conscience.

     Even though he made a point to take only what was owed him, and he left sufficient funds to cover the cost of anything he took from others without the owners’ knowledge or consent, there had been one exception. He hated short-changing someone, but Loi, who took on the name of Joy when they married, had been his first priority.

     Joy, grateful she has been restored to the way of decency, senses that Luke needs his own restoration. Can she convince him to do what he must to enjoy peace at Christmas?


I wrote Gift of Restitution as a stand-alone book. However, if you have not yet read the first part of Luke's and Joy's story, you might enjoy reading Escape from Gold Mountain. CLICK HERE.