Thursday, April 10, 2014


My family's roots are deep in Dallas, Texas, I was born there a few years back.

Amon McCommas, my g-g-g-g-grandfather came to live in Peters Colony in the Fall of 1845, just after John Neely Bryan arrived, and helped start the town. He preached the first sermon on the banks of the Trinity River and started the first Christian Church. Part of his original land ownings encompassed the area in and around Dealy Plaza and the Triple Underpass. He donated the land for the original Courthouse and for the Old Red Courthouse that still stands today.

So, when I decided to write a historical, it made sense to me to set a portion of the story in Dallas. As most know by now, research is a necessary part of writing a historical. If we don't get the facts right, someone will let us know.

The story line I decided on is actually a prequel to my Texas Code Series. I wanted to write a couple of short stories for each generation of the Bennings and McTiernans to chronicle their beginnings in Texas and to show how these two family names were intertwined through their history. I sat down and prepared a genealogy record for each generation all the way back to 1870 with the main players. Any family members that hitch up for the story can be added as needed.

 So, here I am starting in Jefferson, Texas in 1870. I do my research of the town at this time, including the mode of transportation. Train travel is an option, so Dermot McTiernan and Ian Benning travel to Dallas to his ranch located north of the city. This is great. There are pictures of the downtown area, although the dates say they were taken circa 1873, I figure I can make my descriptions work. 

Writing. Writing. Writing. My heroine, Kathleen Gilhooley, lives over a busy eatery in town. She goes downstairs early one morning to start breakfast for the patrons. She needs eggs and milk and gets them from -- I know there's no refrigerator. Do they have ice boxes then? Were they able to have ice then? I don't know.

Here's where I have to be specific. In all my searching, I finally found out that ice making was possible, but started in San Antonio circa 1870, then moved north to Austin and Waco. Dallas didn't have an ice producing plant until 1880 where it possessed Texas's largest single ice plant. Artificial ice cost Dallas consumers about 2 1/2 cents a pound.

Well, here's where you know the rest of the story. Kathleen goes to the back room where the eggs and milk have been delivered fresh that morning and she receives the meat from the butcher, who, it turns out, is sweet on her and gives her good cuts of beef. WooHoo!

Anyway, it's all part of the process and one I found interesting this afternoon. I hope you do, too. Thank you for stopping by. When I get Katie and the Irish Texan finished, I'll let you know and you can tell me how I did - historically speaking.

fall in love, under Texas Skies

   I changed the year to 1873. ;-)

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  1. What an interesting post, Carra. How nice to have all that information in your family that you can use in your stories--plus, of course, lots and lots of additional research.

  2. I agree, research for an historical is essential--and kind of fun really. That's so interesting and very cool that you can go that far back in your family's history.
    I wish you the very best

  3. Fascinating post and I liked how you tied it into your work.

  4. Thank you, Caroline, Sarah, and Ciara. I've always thought of myself as more of a contemporary girl, but this story is interesting and fun. I'm looking forward to finishing and moving on to the next in the timeline. So happy y'all stopped to say hi!


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