Sunday, August 10, 2014


I recently began research for my next book, MATELYN AND THE TEXAS RANGER, Texas Code Series, The Bennings.

In chapter one, Mattie is preparing to travel to Galveston, Texas with her employer, Madame de Marceau. Mattie has packed the trunks but wants to pack her important documents separately so they will be protected from water damage. She learned on her trip across the Atlantic from Ireland to take special care with packing certain items.

Possible type of ship they will sail on

Mattie knows, but I have no clue.

So the quest began. First I posed the question on my Facebook page and in a western historical group in which I'm a member. Two very nice friends answered. One suggested wooden boxes, more specifically a cigar box. Hmmm, that might work, but what happens if the boxes get wet? Won't the items inside still get wet?
19th century Cigar Boxes
 A second suggestion was for canning jars. These are bulky and breakable and probably not what she would choose.

Canning Jars from the 19th Century
While these are both good suggestions, I failed to give them my complete plan. I neglected to say that I intend to torture Mattie on her journey. At some point she will need to prepare to abandon ship and will secure her documents beneath her clothes, so she needs to be able to fold everything as flat as possible.

Oilcloth in the making

Oilcloth for the table

The best thing I've found is to have her wrap her papers in oilcloth.I'm open to any suggestions.

I'll keep you posted and next month, I'll have an excerpt to share.

Thank you for stopping by today. I appreciate your visit and hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!


  1. Well, that is a big problem.
    Oilcloth--is that what my Granny's tablecloth was made of? Sort of slick and thick, but not very pretty?
    I agree that canning jars would be best, if not for the breaking. And since she must carry them in her clothing...well, that won't work.
    I love a little mystery like this, so be sure to clue us in next month...or the next.

  2. I will, Celia. Yes, oilcloth was used for tablecloths. My thought is that it was like our vinyl cloths today. Serviceable and they could be wiped down after meals. No laundry.

  3. There were oiled cloth pouches, Carra, designed especially to keep documents dry and protected.

  4. Yeah, I think in pre plastic days, it would need to be something oiled. Great post, Carra. Hope you don't torture poor Mattie too much LOL.

  5. Thanks, Caroline. I sow pics that looked like that but, so far I haven't come across an article about them. Sometimes a trained researcher would be lovely. ;-)

  6. Lol, Tanya. Our heroines should always be tortured, right? Mattie is named for my mother, hence the odd spelling of Matelyn(the book is dedicated to her as well)so, hopefully no unresolved mom issues pop up before the end of the story. ;-)


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