Friday, April 29, 2022

The Legacies of Amelia Jenks Bloomer

 Amelia Jenks Bloomer (b. 1818-d.1894) held a strong belief that alcohol was evil. A governess job at the age of eighteen moved her to Seneca Falls, NY. After marrying law student David Bloomer in 1840, Amelia started volunteering at the local temperance society. Her social activism increased, and David encouraged her to write. She gained a column in the Seneca Falls County Courier, writing about women’s issues. Amelia attended the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention which focused on women’s rights. Although her name isn’t found among the sixty-eight female and thirty-two male signatures on the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, she drew inspiration from the talks she heard and started a newspaper titled The Lily in 1849 with a strong temperance focus written by and for women. [The Declaration, principally written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was modeled on the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the equal right of women in civil, social, political and religious matters.]

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Originally, a committee of women from the Temperance Society wrote articles for The Lily and distribution was to be handled by committee members. By 1850, Amelia’s name was the only one on the masthead. The newspaper changed to biweekly publication, expanding topics to women’s suffrage, expanding circulation to 4,000 subscribers. The Lily continued until 1854 under Amelia’s editorship until she sold it due to a move with David to Iowa. The buyer, Mary Birdsall, with the help of Dr. Mary F. Thomas, continued publication until 1859.

However, Amelia is not most remembered for her women’s newspaper or for leading women’s suffrage campaigns in Iowa and Nebraska or for being president of the Iowa Women Suffrage Association from 1871 to 1873. Along with a strong suffragist conviction came the belief that women should not be constrained in their clothing. In The Lily she advocated: “The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.” Some of Amelia’s articles were picked up by The New York Tribune.

Amelia wearing bloomers, courtesy of Wikipedia

Ironically, Amelia did not first introduce the attire of loose-fitting trousers (we would call them harem pants) under a thigh- or knee-length tunic. The costume was first adopted by temperance activist Elizabeth Smith Miller. She showed it to her cousin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who adopted it, and she in turn demonstrated it to Amelia, who started wearing it. Because Amelia wrote about the benefits of the less-restrictive clothing, the name “bloomers” became associated with her. Women wearing bloomers in public received almost constant verbal harassment. She’s also credited with being the person who introduced Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In her quiet way, she was a lifelong supporter of women’s rights.

BLURB: Amity Grenville is set on reaching Oregon’s Sweet Home Valley, where her aunt and uncle have a farm. They were part of the Great Migration of 1843, and Amity saved every letter Aunt Beitris wrote, complete with advice on the journey preparations. Amity is eager for a fresh start, in the hopes that her husband, Garvey, will find a new vocation in farming and leave behind his drinking and gambling ways.

Newly finished with his apprenticeship, blacksmith Shawe Creighton can ply his trade just about anywhere so he agrees to throw in with his best friend’s family on the trek to Oregon. With no family ties, he heads west, thinking Oregon is as good as any place to establish a shop. Fun loving by nature, he’s also looking forward to what the adventure will bring.

In St Joseph doing last-minute preparations for the journey, Amity receives the bad news that Garvey was caught cheating and killed over a poker game. Now men are seeking to claim the wagon and team as their recompense. She barely removes her belongings in time but is faced with either marrying a stranger to comply with the wagon train’s rules or remain behind. Taking pity on her plight, Shawe offers marriage and is immediately faced with her two demands--no drinking or gambling. Intrigued by the outspoken woman, he figures the trip won’t be boring. Will a decision made in haste bring disaster, or will the journey forge bonds neither Amity nor Shawe can imagine?

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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Petticoats, Perfume, Pots and Pans - The General Store by Jo-Ann Verlik

Watch any old movie or television show about rural, small-town life and there's sure to be a scene in the general store.

While developing the setting for my series, Brides of New Hope, the general store was integral to the plot. The fictitious store, Pennington's Mercantile and its proprietors, Abner and Maude Pennington are quite the couple, and often play up their secondary character status with amusing candor. It was here that Dr. Eli MacKenzie discovered he had a wife he didn't remember marrying, met the sheriff who once wanted to court his wife, and ultimately, where he set up his medical practice in a storage room.

After the Civil War, the country--and the South, in particular--had greater need of the general store due to the devastation of cities and rail and telegraph lines that made commerce nearly impossible, thus creating the establishment of a general store. Before general stores, and after, came the tinkers, the traveling salesmen, the carnival barkers. These men traveled from town to town, and even from farm to farm, drumming up business (thus, the nicknamed "drummers").  For the most part, their salesmanship was a kind of show, and their goods were often real necessities for people who lived far from any trading post.

The proprietor would be required to keep items in stock whether it was in season or not. There were no "clearance" sales. Long johns were available in summer and plows in winter. When peaches, tomatoes, corn were gone, apples, potatoes or some other crops, or even medicine, farm tools or cloth was substituted.

According to a man who once ran a general store or "mercantile", folks would bring in everything from eggs to live chickens, butter or produce, and sell or barter with the merchant. Though, in general, it was strictly a cash only business. Credit was only extended to reliable customers.  As a result of this restocking and moving merchandise, a crowded, homey atmosphere developed.

The homey atmosphere was enhanced by the need to keep the large, often drafty building warm. So, a woodstove was installed right in the middle of the room. Gradually, chairs were added, and customers (usually men!) were encouraged to "sit a spell" while the women shopped. Topics ranged from races, tobacco, cotton prices, women, politics and topic was barred. Rather than be annoyed, the proprietor would often join the idlers in conversation. Come night fall. he would light the big kerosene hanging lamp and draw up a chair.  If so inclined, the men would while away the time playing a game on a well-worn board using sliced corn cobs as checkers.
 During the warm weather, folks would meet and greet on the porch or wooden boardwalk and have a "chaw and a jaw" before loading up and going home.

An important function of the general store was as a communications center both before and after the invention of the telephone. In addition, it often became the unofficial and then official post office. It served as the community Lost and Found, with notes on the wall posted by seekers and finders. Merchants, noted for their ability to actually read and write served as regional letter-writers. From the post-Civil War era up until the 1940s, the general store might have offered such services as banking and credit, money orders, community meetings, and political rallies

Since schoolhouses came into existence the same time as mercantiles, proprietors stocked paper, pencils and bolts of sturdy cloth for children's clothing. By the 1920s, catalogs and newspapers were showing ready-made clothing, so they had to keep up by ordering factory-made trousers, underwear, overalls, and wide variety of hats. By the turn of the century, there were store-bought bottles of medicines to replace home and herbal remedies.

General store proprietors often employed an errand boy to deliver orders to families in the town who made large purchases and were accustomed to having goods sent to their homes. General purpose flour came to the store in paper bags of 24 1/2 to 48 1/2 pounds, as packed by the nearby mill. Smaller quantities were not bothered with since every household did a great deal of baking pies, cakes and bread. The store also sold what was then politely termed "spiritous liquors".

Granulated white sugar was delivered in 100-pound sacks and was dumped into a covered metal box to be dipped out as need with a tin scoop. Fine salt came in 100-pound bags; molasses and vinegar were stocked by the barrel, and kerosene, the universal light fluid of the times, came in drums. The customer brought a pouring can of one, two, or five-gallon size. If there was no cap on the pouring spout, a potato or cork was stuck on keeping it from leaking. Coffee beans were packed in a large sack. When a customer wanted a pound or two the clerk weighed them out, then ground them with a big-wheeled red mill siting on the counter.

Today you can pick up all your necessities at a one-stop convenient supermarket. However, by seeking out an independent general store can lead you to all manner of gourmet treasures. These versatile shops have been on village main streets and rural roadsides for generations.

Here in North Carolina, general stores still abound in rural areas. At the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, started in the 1880s, you can buy coffee for a nickel and mail a letter from the store post office.

Do some research. You'll probably discover a general store somewhere within a day's drive from where you live. Step inside...the smell alone will entice you...a mixture of herbs, candies, wooden barrels, local pickles, honey, freshly baked bread, and fresh produce.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day

Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines 

Photo Property of the Author

April is National Poetry Month, and April 20, 2022, is also National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. Although the upside-down cake really didn't appear until the 1920s, the pineapple was used in many an early recipe. Below are a couple of recipes found in early editions of the newspaper from back in the day.

From the Leadville, Colorado, Herald Democrat, February 3, 1897

Herald Democrat

And another from the Leadville, Colorado, Herald Democrat, January 4, 1894.

Herald Democrat

I admit I love finding these recipes from the 1800s and before. There is something so comforting about seeing what our forebearers cooked and ate. It was that love I used when I added the 'special' recipe with my story "Never Had A Chance". The story of Tom and Maria and their journey to love. Below is a short excerpt:

 Maria stared at the sky. Blue, a turquoise blue that appeared artificial. Clouds slowly traveled from north to south, covering and uncovering the golden light from the sun as she watched out the window. She was in the kitchen making the green corn fritters. With each step in the process, she remembered her mother showing her how they were made.

"I made these for your father, little one, when I decided to marry him."

"Did he want to marry you?" Maria had asked.

"No, it took a bit of persuading, but in the end he was glad he pursued me," her mother laughed.

"How did you know, and why green corn fritters?" Maria had wanted to know.

"I knew the minute I saw him that he was the one for me. And the fritters, they are an old family recipe, and if you make them with love, the one who eats them loves you back."

Maria missed her mother, having someone to share secrets and who she could ask questions. The servants were kind, but it was not the same. Sighing, she grabbed her small tray, with the fritters, and headed to the young man's room. Perhaps she was being foolish, giving the stranger the fritters, but if they had helped her mother catch her father, she could do no less.

Until next time, enjoy those recipes.

Doris McCraw

Monday, April 18, 2022

Mapping the Trail by Zina Abbott









My next book to be published is a wagon train story. I found I spent a lot of time mapping the trail -- or multiple trails, at it turned out. I also learned that most of the maps found online can offer the big picture, but they can be less than helpful when it comes to the fine details a writer needs for a historical story.

My original intent for this story was to write about the Applegate Trail that was blazed as an alternative to reaching the Willamette Valley in Oregon without the dangers of the northern route, particularly, rafting down the Columbia River.  Here is the big, but not historically correct picture:

The above map of the Applegate Trail, plus several trails that led into California, is good for the casual observer who understands the United States as it currently is. Problem for historical accuracy: Most traffic to Oregon took place before the coming of the railroad in the West. Cities listed on this map like Reno and Elko did not exist before the Transcontinental Railroad. Scottbluff did not exist until a railroad came through even later in time. Salt Lake City existed, but only from July 24, 1847 on. Casper and Kearney were forts, not cities. Casper was not always an active fort during the time of pioneer trains. Carson City did not get platted until 1858 (which actually worked well for my story). 

The state boundaries did not exist as we know them today. They looked more like the following:

As for Fort Hall, a trading post, not a military installation, was it in Idaho at the time most pioneers took their wagons north to Oregon Territory? No. At first, it was part of Oregon Territory. Then, in February 1859, when Oregon became a state, Idaho and Fort Hall were part of Washington Territory.

I almost goofed in my story. It takes place in 1858. I relied on the above map until I realized the date things switched. I would have been off by only a few months, but for those who know their Oregon Trail history, they would have caught it.

Then there was the issue of the details on the trails themselves. The above trail maps were a good start. Most online maps, including the ones I've included in this post, are reduced to a low dots-per-inch configuration. I found, if there was detail on the original map, most of it was lost once I saved the map to my computer and then tried to enlarge it. (They became the "Big Blur.")

I did find this map of the Applegate and California Trails that had a lot of detail, even after I saved it to my computer and enlarged it:

However, trying to find and keep track of the detail for the cutoffs and to which cities each trail led proved challenging. I found it was easier to expand the map on my computer and take snippets of the sections that interested me:

All kinds of trading posts and landmarks along the way I never heard about. Hmm...

I have pioneer ancestors who crossed the Great Plains in covered wagons. About eighteen direct ancestors qualify me for membership in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. I am familiar with the Mormon Trail, and several landmarks along the way. 

The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who made the trek west had their "jumping off point" in either Council Bluffs, Iowa or Florence/Winter Quarters in Nebraska (near today's Omaha). They traveled the north bank of the North Platte River. Most pioneers who followed the Oregon Trail (including those bound for California) had their "jumping off point" in either Independence Missouri or later, West Point, Kansas. They followed the Blue River to the south bank of the North Platte River. They also crossed the South Platte so they could continue following the North Platte.

For part of the journey, especially west of the North Platte River, all three trails -- Oregon, California, and Mormon -- traveled the same ground. 

However, when I have looked for maps online -- whether it was to track the route my own ancestors took or to learn more about one of the other trails, most were a blur. One of the best things I did when my husband and traveled B.C. -- before Covid-19 -- was I picked up paper copies of the three National Parks Service trail maps at one rest stops/visitors' centers in Wyoming.

These maps are great and have a lot of detail. However, I found I needed to use a magnifying glass to read the maps themselves. I found it easier to take a close-up snapshot of the section that interested me with my cell phone, send it to my computer, and expand it to use for reference. (Trust me, the digital copies I found online someone else already provided mostly fit into the "Big Blur" category.)

River maps that I could actually read and that included more than the major-major waterways can be harder to find than hen's teeth. However, they can be invaluable. Any thought I could use Google Maps to help me with rivers was dispelled by my research efforts years ago. Topographical view helps some, but I found I was better off finding maps like this:

The following is my BIG SECRET to mapping the trail -- almost any trail of note. Dig out the old paper maps--probably the older, the better. Triple-A maps are great. I've also picked up some maps produced by individual states they make available for tourism purposes. 

Hubby and I use GPS with the best of them, but we always like to have paper maps along on our trips so we can see the BIG PICTURE. For years, I enjoyed seeing how close we traveled to some of the trails. On the paper maps, they are faint. They don't stand out like the major highways and cities. However, they are there. 

For this novel, I dragged out all my old maps of the states where I planned many of my story scenes. Fort Hall in southern Idaho was a big one, because, unless a train took a cutoff, most pioneers on the Oregon, California, and Applegate Trails passed through Fort Hall. There were several trails that led into the fort. Several trails branched off once pioneers traveled west. I used my yellow highlighter to help the trails stand out from the modern streets, and took a picture with my cell camera: 


Wagons Ho! I knew which direction my wagons would roll.


My next book is part of the Prairie Roses Collection and titled Pearl. It is currently on pre-order. You may find the purchase link by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Henley and the Love Train Series


My upcoming release Henley is part of the new Love Train series of sweet, historical western romances.

Ten authors are participating in this series. Each sweet romance features a heroine with a secret, and a common thread of riding on the same train with a conductor named Henry, a baggage handler named Willie, and Willie's adorable dog.

The books can be read in any order. Henley is book two in the series. Pam Crooks' Christiana released April 1. Henley releases tomorrow - April 15!

One thing that's fun about Henley is that the story is connected to my two Holiday (Oregon) series!

I first wrote about the fictional town of Holiday in a contemporary romance called Valentine Bride. At the time I wrote the story, I wasn’t very specific about the location, other than it was in Eastern Oregon and located a few hours from Pendleton, and a few hours from Boise, Idaho. As I wrote more books in the Holiday Brides series, I added more detail about the the town.

But it wasn’t until I landed on the idea of writing a multi-generational series set in Holiday with my Holiday Express series that I dialed in an exact location. If you were to look at a map of Oregon, you’d see Highway 203 that runs into the mountains between Union and Baker City. I picture Holiday being on that highway, located somewhere in the middle between the two towns.

The first book in the Holiday Brides series, Holiday Hope, ends with Jace Coleman marrying Cora Lee, a mail-order bride who came to marry his wayward brother in 1884.

Henley begins a few months later. By the time Henley Jones and Doctor Evan Holt step foot off the Holiday Express train into Holiday, it’s spring and love is definitely in the air.

I absolutely adore writing about the town of Holiday and the people who live there!

In this scene, Evan and Henley have just arrived in Holiday.

“Holiday, folks! Welcome to Holiday!” the conductor called as he strode through their car.

Evan quickly gathered his things and stood the moment the train came to a stop. Henley stuffed her purchases from Baker City into her bag, then took the hand Evan held out to her. He didn’t let go until she stood on the train platform, looking around with interest.

“We made it,” Evan said, taking a deep breath, then another. “That smells like home.”

Henley breathed in the fragrance of the trees that put her in mind of Christmas, along with the aroma of roasting meat in the air mingling with the odors produced by the train.

“Did Mr. Johnson plan to meet you here or at his store?” Evan questioned.

“The telegram I received just before I left indicated he’d meet me here. Do you see him?”

Evan appeared to scan the crowd, then shook his head. “No. I don’t. It will be easy enough to walk over to his store, though. Do you have many trunks?”

Henley pointed to the growing stack being unloaded from the baggage car.

Evan’s eyes widened; then he grinned at her. “Traveling light?”

The tension she’d been holding in her shoulders released, and she laughed, so grateful for Evan and his sense of humor. She had no idea what she’d do in a few very short moments when she had to bid him goodbye and step into her future with a man she may or may not even like.

Love is a gamble, and heartbreak is a risk she’s willing to take.

Despite her dreams to set down roots, Henley Jones has never had a place to call home. She’s spent her life on riverboats and railroad cars, tagging along with her gambling father. A shoot-out during a card game results in his death, leaving Henley alone and nearly penniless. Out of luck and options, Henley agrees to travel across the country to the newly established town of Holiday, Oregon to marry a stranger.

A demanding practice in a town clawing its way to respectability keeps Doctor Evan Holt rushing at a hectic pace. He’s far too busy to see to pressing matters like hiring competent help, or finding a wife. When one of his patients orders a mail-order bride, Evan can’t decide if the man is crazy or brilliant. From the moment he meets her, Evan battles an unreasonable attraction to the beautiful, charming woman who seems to be hiding something from her past.

In a town flush with possibilities, will taking a chance on love end with heartache or a winning hand? Find out in this sweet western romance full of the humor, hope, and love.

Henley is part of the Love Train sweet romance series and releases April 15. Look for more books set in Holiday in the heartwarming and wholesome Holiday Express and Holiday Brides series.

The book is only $2.99!

Connect with Shanna on her website at
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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Mail Order Bees a profitable vocation by Kimberly Grist

While researching vocations during the 19th century, I became intrigued by beekeeping. While writing, A Beekeeper for Christmas, I decided to further my research by becoming a beekeeper myself.

From the beginning of beekeeping in the 1600s until the 1800s, many farmers and villagers kept colonies of bees to supply their own needs and for friends, relatives, and neighbors. But honey was also used as part of local trade.

The Bee Friend, by Hans Thoma, 1863/1864

Beehives were among the popular products of foraging during the Civil War. The article below tells of a time when such foraging was part of at least one practical joke.

"The soldiers tramped many a mile by night in quest of depositories of sweets. I recall an incident occurring in the Tenth Vermont Regiment - once brigaded with my company- when some of the foragers, who had been out on a tramp, brought a hive of bees into camp after the men wrapped themselves in the blankets and by way of a joke, set it down stealthily on the stomach of the captain of one of the companies, making business quite lively in that neighborhood shortly afterward."  Source: Image and Article from; Hardtack and Coffee; Or, The Unwritten Story of Army Life: Page 246, By John Davis Billings 1887- (Ouch!)

Commercial Beekeeping 

The 19th century saw the revolution in beekeeping practice completed through the perfection of the movable comb hive by Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth. Langstroth designed a series of wooden frames with a rectangular hive box.

This invention enables the beekeeper to inspect and remove honey without destroying the comb. The emptied honeycombs could then be returned to the bees intact for refilling.

Other beekeepers used his methods and began producing honey on a commercial scale. By the late 19th century, the price of a box of bees could be as much as sold for the same amount as a calf or sheep, more than a hog.

New Addition

This past summer I added a second story and asked the question.
Does that make me a condo owner or a little crazy? Maybee both? Despite the addition, treatments to clear the area of bugs, mites, and numerous refills of sugar water, this week I discovered my bees flew the coop!

It seemed like a good idea at the time... The Pain of Abandonment!

There is a word for it- I say abandonment, but the official word is absconding. Absconding is when the bees completely abandon their hive. Well, they bolted alright, all of them, completely leaving their hive.
In light of the problems in the world, this is minor, but I was disappointed and, in an attempt to cheer myself up, will be looking for a silver lining. I keep thinking there must be an inspiration in this experience somewhere. Perhaps my next story should be titled, An Abandonded Beekeeper or No Honey for Hal? What do you think?

Now- In Honor of Those Who Got Away- Here's a Sweet Deal For You! 

(Find out what a beekeeper has to do with it!)

Can his mail-order bride handle the diversity that comes with her husband’s dangerous vocation? Together will they blend their opposing desires to create a recipe for love?

Selah Anderson agrees to participate in a matchmaking service organized by her pastor and the orphanage's matron, where she spent most of her life and become a mail-order bride. The man of her dreams will share her love of creating delicious confections and running a successful bakery. People will come for miles to purchase her specialty-shoo-fly pie.
Stagecoach driver Emerson Clark isn’t looking for love. But he knows life is better with a partner by your side- like a good team of horses supporting one another around the ruts in the road and along the narrow paths. As long as she’s practical, he’ll be happy.

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Thursday, April 7, 2022

From Dandy to Dude


The dandy. A man who places a high amount of importance on his appearance, not to mention a few other things. A dandy took pride in his refined speech, his notable leisurely hobbies, and practiced an air of nonchalance, as if he had to care in the world. But, just because you were a dandy, didn't mean you came from an aristocratic background. Many such men were self made and strove to imitate an aristocrat's lifestyle. This was especially true in the late 18th and early 19th century's in Britain. But we're not talking about Britain back in the day. We are looking at the old west.

The dandy has been around for ages but when it came to the mid to late 1800s, the name changed. Whether one was called a dandy or a "dude" (the old west name for such a gentleman) clothes made the man. Such men love to wore their clothes wisely and well. It was an art form to the dandy and he lived to dress.

Did you know they were different kinds of dandies? There was the literary dandy. They were writers and poets such as Oscar Wilde and artists too. When dandies started be called dudes, the term lasted from the 1870s all the way to the 1960s. A at this point, the term dude referred to any guy, and gained popularity in the 1970s.

You've heard of the term all duded up? Yes, it meant getting dressed in fancy clothes. But when the cowboys out west saw such men, they used the term to unfavorably refer to city dwellers. American easterners that had come West looking for adventure. Dude eventually evolved into the city slicker. Dude also found its way into "Dude ranch" which of course was a guest ranch catering to those same city slickers wanting to see what life was like on a ranch. Anyone see the movie City Slickers? It's hilarious. In fact dude ranches started popping up in the American west in the early 20th century. Wealthy easterners came to experience the cowboy life which of course they romanticized. 

There was even a female version of dudette and dudines. Dude also became a job description. It was a position on the railroad in the 1880s called a bush hook dude. In the early 1960s the word gained popularity in surfer cultures. Basically referring to a guy.

So the next time you hear the word dude or read about a dude ranch, you can think the American cowboy of the old west who started using the word to describe dandy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

BONNETS OR BURN by Marisa Masterson


Glory trudged behind the wagon. Three days out and the walking hadn’t grown easier. Not like some silly man spouted last night at the company meeting. He’d said day three would be less painful on everyone. Something about muscles being used to the exercise.

Well, hers screamed to turn around and walk east. She wanted the home they’d left, rough though it was, and she longed for her mother. Both, of course, were gone.

Perhaps grief made each step harder than the previous. Lifting her feet one after another felt as if she hauled large, heavy stones. She knew deep inside that she needed to fall into the grass with its dry rattle to one side of the trail and rest. Its waving motion in the slight breeze mesmerized her.

She took one step and then another into it. “Where you goin’, Glory?” The voice surprised her. She pushed back the long-brimmed bonnet to see who spoke.

Alfie Severson ran up to her, his young face eager for excitement. “Are you gonna look for sticks? I’m good at findin’ them.”

Bonnets! That was what my wagon-train romance needed! I’d written a whole novel without adding the one thing that no woman would have been without in the 1850s.

My heroine finds herself on the Santa Fe Trail in the late summer. Historically, I knew that 1858 was a year of terrible drought and hot days. Every decent woman wore a bonnet at this time.

But why? Of course, it made sense that a woman out in the sun would cover her head to avoid heat stroke. Wearing the bonnet went beyond that, though, as I found in my research.

Women covered their hair outside or in public. Modesty and Christian teaching demanded this. Glory, my heroine, would never have left her wagon without something on her head.

Still, on the trail some of society’s rules were forgotten or bent. This one, I don’t think, would have been one of them. The bonnet, while hot, kept a woman’s hair cleaner and helped her avoid a sunburned face.

Some prairie bonnets had even longer brims.

The prairie bonnet, as it is called, had a longer brim. Some of the women who traveled the trails would probably have had a shorter brimmed sun bonnet. Those are what my great-grandmother wore.

My grandmother's bonnet had cardboard compartments
that made the brim stiff so it didn't flop onto her face
 as she worked in the garden. This is an example of that.
My family never threw away things. My great-grandmother’s every day bonnets were kept in a closet at my grandfather’s farmhouse. I remember playing with them, not realizing how old they were. Beautiful, simple cotton with cardboard compartments to make the brim less floppy, I can still see them. Each bonnet actually matched a shirtwaist and skirt that was born for every day wear!

With those old family bonnets in mind, I’ve got some rewriting to do. Yes sir, the ladies in my novel are wearing bonnets!


Dead set on making Pike’s Peak and its goldfields, Glory’s father leaves her little choice but to go. Will they make it leaving so late in the season?