Sunday, February 26, 2023

Kate Shelley: The Girl Who Saved a Train by Bea Tifton


Kate Shelley was born in September 25, 1865 near Moneygall, Ireland to Michael and Mary Shelly. Her family name has been spelled Shelly or Shelley. Her father, Michael, was a tenant in Ireland. When Kate was almost two years old, the family emigrated to the United States.  After first living with relatives, the Shelleys moved to a farm near Honey Creek, to the east of Moingona, Iowa.  Michael became the foreman of a section crews with the Chicago and North Western Railway. 

In 1878 Michael died of tuberculosis. Kate had to drop out of school to help her mother support her two sisters and one surviving brother.

July 6, 1881, a severe thunderstorm caused flashed flooding around Honey Creek that washed out several railroad timbers supporting the railroad trestle. A pusher locomotive manned by four men was sent from Moingona. About 11 p.m., the bridge fell away, killing two of the men and severely injuring the other two.

Kate heard the crash and she knew an eastbound express passenger train was due in an hour. She rushed to the sight and found the two surviving crew members. When Kate’s lantern went out, she crawled on hands and knees over the bridge debris until she crossed Honey Creek, then walked the two miles to the Moingona depot to report the bridge collapse and to fetch medical help.  The passenger train with its 200 passengers was successfully rerouted.

The passengers Kate saved took up a collection for her and a group of girls from Dubuque gave her a medal. The state of Iowa commissioned an award crafted by Tiffany and Company. Trying not to draw attention to the near miss, the Chicago and North Western Railway quietly gave Kate half a barrel of flour, half a load of coal, a lifetime railway pass, and $100. 

People wrote poems and songs to commemorate Kate’s bravery. In 1901, the Chicago and North Western Railway opened a new bridge. The railroad named it the Boon Viaduct, but most people called it the Kate Shelley Bridge.  It was the first bridge in the country and possibly the only bridge named after a woman until 1976 when Philadelphia constructed the Betsy Ross Bridge.

In 2009 the Kate Shelley Bridge, one of North America’s tallest double track railroad bridges, opened parallel to the old viaduct over Honey Creek.

Friday, February 24, 2023

SNAKE OIL--the False Promise of the West by Marisa Masterson

 Snake Oil--it's synonymous with being cheated. So, what’s the story behind the term “snake oil salesman”?

It started innocently. As Chinese workers flooded into the United States in the nineteenth century, they brought snake oil with them. It was a cure made from the Chinese water snake. People rubbed it on their joints to reduce swelling, something that seemed to work.

Americans wondered how they could make their own snake oil. Enter Clark Stanley, the Rattlesnake King. The former cowboy traveled around the country, setting up his medicine show in towns.

Think about these western small towns. There was little entertainment. Watching Stanley chop up a rattlesnake and then add it to liquid drew crowds.

Sadly, it was all for show. The actual medicine he sold was mostly mineral water. It did help some, probably because it contained capsaicin from the pepper extract he added. That gave the tingling effect so customers felt the snake oil working.

We know now that capsaicin actually does reduce inflammation. Too, we know that chopped rattlesnake doesn’t. (LOL) Stanley knew that too, but he made a fortune out of his product.

After the government passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, Stanley’s snake oil was tested. Newspapers blasted the news that there was no snake in it. From that, snake oil became a term associated with false promises.


 Here's something that's not full of snake oil. My new release has been tickling the funny bone of readers. 

It's jammed with romance and adventure with a heroine who is NOT impressed with her groom at first sight. What will it take to change her mind?


Take a look today on Amazon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Let's Talk About Bonanza - Colorado That Is


Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

Bonanza. The name brings up dreams of gold, and silver, of hitting the big time. That is what happened in the Colorado town of Bonanza. This is just south of Tin Cup, and west of Canon City, where portions of my novel "The Outlaw's Letter" takes place.

The town site sits over 9,400' in the mountains about forty miles southwest of Salida, Colorado. The story is that a man named Tom Cooke from Salida was in the mountains looking for wild horses when he came across a vein of silver. The town grew quickly to over 1,000 residents after its founding in 1880.

Token coin with the value of $1.00, issued by the Rawley Mine Commissary in Bonanza
from Wikipedia

The Daily Enterprise, a Bonanza town newspaper ran from  May 2, 1882, to July 13, 1882, for a total of 38 issues.  What is fascinating is in the inaugural issue they carried a story about women's garters. Below is the full article: 

Jeweled Garters.

New Yorik Sun. The fashion of wearing jeweled garters has spread so rapidly that jewelers ell keep them in stock. They are very expensive. A member of a conspicuous firm explains: “The rage is nonetheless strong and it promises to spread indefinitely as the trend is as unlimited as the purse. All the prominent society women and many who are not in society wear them. You see, women constitutionally delight in pretty things and their adornment is of more interest and enjoyment to them than anything else. If you will come downstairs I’ll show you the stock:.” 

There was a show-case full of them, each pair mounted in a velvet box. The pattern was the same in all as far as the band was concerned. The band was a full inch wide, made of fine elastic and covered with beautiful woven silk of every conceivable shade, pale blues and warm reds predominating. They are designed to match the tint of the dress worn with them. 'ln one case two heart-shaped clasps, of colored gold, inlaid with crossbars of " turquoises and pears, joined the ends of a scarlet band with little tie frills of silk along the edges. The price was $l9O. A pair with two oval clasps of hammered gold, perhaps an inch in length, could be bought for $43, while the cheapest pair with plain gold clasps, was $46

“It's a curious fact,” said the jeweler, “that the cheap ones won’t sell. When a customer wants an elegant garter he, I mean she, Is willing to pay for it.”

 A pair that cost $225 had two shields with three large pearls in each and little diamonds at the edge. Another pair was expensive though its delicate lace, which was arranged in a fuffy bow-knot, with two little gold disks clasped in the center.

At another establishment, the jeweler said: “The majority of them are made to order. Your visit is opportune, as 1 have just finished the most expensive pair that, ever left my factory. The price is $1,200.” In this, the lace and pearl-colored silk band was joined by an elaborate clasp. On one side was the lady's monogram in pearls; on the other the coat-of-arms, with frosted storks’ heads, a crest of delicately carved gold, and a motto set in chip diamonds. It was a present from a mother to her daughter, who is to be married soon.

“Has the demand for such garters increased?” 

“It is a hundred percent, greater than last year, and grows constantly.”

In the final issue was found this article: 

I hope you found these tidbits interesting. Until next time:

Stay safe, stay happy, and stay healthy.


Thursday, February 16, 2023

An Early Spring? or Six More Weeks of Winter? - History of Groundhog Day


According to legend, the actions of a certain groundhog on February 2nd determines the arrival of spring every year. If it's cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its underground habitat, spring will arrive early. However, if it is sunny and he spies his shadow and burrows back into the ground, winter will continue for six more weeks.

So, how did it begin?

Groundhog Day has its roots in the Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal--the hedgehog--as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America and settled in Pennsylvania, Germans continued the tradition. However, they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

The first documented American reference to Groundhog Day was found in a diary entry, dated February 4, 1841, by Morgantown, Pennsylvania storekeeper, James Morris:

"Last Tuesday, the 2nd was Candleman day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow, he pops back for another six weeks nap but if the day be cloudy, he remains out as the weather is to be moderate."

Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer Freas, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog was America's only true weather-forecasting groundhog. Phil has gained quite a following in recent years, thanks to the movie Groundhog Day, and many more make the annual trek to Punxsutawney to join in the fun.

There is no scientific evidence to support Phil's knowledge of weather predictability, nor does he understand what the fuss is about. Personally, I don't believe in a prediction from a rodent. As a native New Englander, weather in the tundra is a fickle woman, indeed. January could see spring-like temperatures while a snowstorm in May (I kid you not!) is always a real possibility.


Coming April 26th

She was branded as a traitor to the Union.
He was her sworn enemy.
A marriage of convenience would be perilous…wouldn’t it?
In the summer of 1864 in Roswell, Georgia, widow Sofie Bishop struggles to manage the small family vineyard on her own. The War Between the States took her husband and her way of life. Now, with her home in ruins her only option was working at the Ivy Woolen Mill. Her woes go from bad to worse when the Yankees arrive on Roswell’s doorstep.

Courteous and kind, Captain Seth Ramsey is not what Sofie expects from a Union officer. However charming he might be, she’s determined to keep her distance. Even when she finds herself branded as a traitor, arrested, and transported north to an uncertain destiny, she didn’t think she could lose much more to the Yankees.
But she was wrong.

Orphaned at the age of ten, Seth Morgan appreciated the life Aunt Lou and Uncle Tom had given him in Illinois. Though he had no interest in taking over his uncle’s business moving cargo down the Mississippi, it did fire his imagination for a far different career…as a soldier. Dedicated to his career, he’d never had time to entertain thoughts of a home and family.
But a chance encounter with a lovely, but heart-weary Sofie Bishop has him thinking otherwise. His plans to woo her takes on a sudden urgency when General Sherman orders the mill workers north to military prisons. Volunteering to accompany the women and children on the difficult and dangerous trek, he concocts a plan that would change the course of his life…and hers if only she’d agree.
Will his vow of love mend her wounded heart? Or would a marriage of convenience be the best she can offer?


Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Treacherous Bitter Roots! Cora Leland

The Bryan Stage 1872

As the years of development in the West rolled on, even remote places like Wyoming Territory experienced change.  While railroad travel wasn't that well established yet, the Upper Plains were influenced by the expanded travel.  Wyoming built new roads to connect all the new towns springing up.

Some of these new towns were simply posts for storing government rations for Native tribes  and the expanding Army. Raids on these posts were thrillingly depicted in fiction, especially the raids that took place during the desperate times at the end of the Indian Wars. The government seemed to be sitting on a fence, pulled between opening every inch of land to prospectors, and agreements they'd signed before gold was discovered.  Much of that land was already staked out and under contract. But there were new obligations to meet and people to house.

Mining and railroads

These little towns and posts did get connected, and lower elevation was accessed through the South Pass route. 

All this time, the railroads continued to expand this undeveloped territory, working faster than would last into the future.  The difficulties were understandable, looking back at them.  The original plans were laid out on a straight line, but contractors insisted on a more twisting route.  

While the obligation to get these railroads finished was sometimes postponed, the tracks were laid.  Difficulties came because of the difficult terrain and the huge sums that had to be raised -- "hastily laid track...and congressional corruption."

Back in 1868, when  trains came to Laramie (close to what would be the capitol city of Wyoming, Cheyenne) the town springing up was nick-named "hell on wheels."  It had taken thousands of people working and then living in tents all along the line.  In fact, Laramie, Wyoming was made up entirely of tents.

Keystone Dance Hall and surrounding tents, Laramie 1868 

"End of the tracks" towns dotted the territory.  A surprising number of businesses moved along with the railroad construction crews, but some stayed. Even some of the citizens moved when the railroads started being constructed elsewhere.

But South Pass was not forgotten.  Twenty miles from that spot, a city was built that marks the beginning of women's rights.

South Pass City, 1870

Hundreds of thousands of new settlers had used the trails that traveled over the continent and went through South Pass to reach the far West.  In Wyoming's new legislature in 1869, a saloon-keeper named William Blake introduced legislation to give voting rights to women.  And Wyoming had the first woman to serve in public office, Esther Hobart Morris. She became Justice of the Peace in Feb. 1870.

South Pass, itself, enabled those thousands of emigrants to avoid frost-bite and even death as they traveled over the mountains.  Unlike the treacherous earlier route, Bitter Roots, South Pass offered a direct road Westward. 

Pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson based this sketch of wagons and the transcontinental telegraph line near South Pass, with the Oregon Buttes in the distance


Enjoy my latest historical romance novel!

In 1875, a blizzard wrecked the train Star Bird's family was riding.  She was sent from Minneapolis to Laramie, Wyoming. Unfortunately, her orphanage had overlooked the Great Lakota War that was raging. It peaked in 1876 just as she was fired from her first job.

In Minnesota, a Lakota woman wasn't considered dangerous, like she soon was, in Laramie...

Read about Star and Purcell, the settler who loves her!

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Valentines Day and How it was started

First I'll say Happy Early Valentines Day! 

And, to make this a special occasion, I have a little gift for one lucky winner.  I will pick one lady from the comments, and email you a copy from amazon of my first historical romance, Rachel's Ransom. 

I'll talk about that novel a little later on, right now let's jump into the next holiday that is just right around the corner. 

Since Valentines day is approaching, I began to wonder who sent the first Valentine and why. These days we send candy, and gifts to our loved ones. We try and appreciate them a little more on February the 14th. We might buy them a card, flowers, or something sweet to eat, but why? Who started this Holiday? Was it some person long ago, that wanted to sell some of their candy and needed a reason to do so? 

I found many different ideas and stories, but I liked this one. It made sense and I thought it was cute so I'll share it with you. It comes from this blogpost here.

The writer began with . . . In the Middle Ages the idea of choosing a romantic partner on this particular saint's day began because it was believed that birds began mating on that day.  I liked this idea and it does make sense when spring begins, love is in the air. 

He went on with, there doesn't seem to be evidence that the historical Saint Valentine, an early Christian martyred by the Romans, had any connections to birds or romance.

Another blog post from this site here said . . . There are at least three martyrs named Valentine or Valentinus recognized by the Catholic Church. Each of their stories can be tied to the holiday we now celebrate. The writer went on to say, the most common legend surrounding Valentine’s Day centers around a third-century priest. Roman Emperor Claudius II who concluded that single men made better soldiers than men who were married with families. So in order to ensure military strength, the emperor outlawed marriage! The priest, Valentine, in defiance of the law, continued to perform weddings. Ultimately, he was discovered, jailed, and executed.

Well, this is just right down depressing so I went on looking for something more festive and cheerful. This is supposed to be a holiday that makes us think of sweets and sweethearts. But there was just more strange odd rituals and I wanted to share this one. I would not have wanted to be a woman during this time. You are not going to like this next part! And it really seemed so
bazar that I googled it and found it on a few more sites, so I guess it is true. Be thankful you were born in the 20th century!!

Some believe February 14th was chosen by the Catholic Church to coincide with the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, in an effort to Christianize the holiday. The fertility festival falls on February 15, with the men of the town sacrificing a goat for fertility, and a dog for purification, dipping the hides in blood and slapping the single women and crop fields with them! This was meant to bring fertility. Later in the day, the names of all the single women would be put in an urn and each man would choose a name. They would pair for the festival, and sometimes for life.

Thank Heavens . . . Lupercalia was deemed unchristian and outlawed at the end of the 5th century. With the pagan holiday off the calendar, Pope Gustavus declared February 14 Saint Valentine’s Day.  

Let's move on to Cupid, maybe that will be better and not conjure up visions of blood and well . . . . eww let's just move on 😀😂😃

Picture Cupid in your head 

I thought this seemed more safe and I found this particular story here. Let's see what brought about our cute little cupid that in movies shoots it's arrows and helps people fall in love.  

Do you see a fat, cherubic baby, with a quiver full of arrows and a diaper full of … love? I do and of course you do, because that’s our modern interpretation.

But this adorable little Cupid has been called many names, portrayed in many ways, and been known throughout history. There are many cultures with their own stories, but the ones we most closely associated with the Cupid are those of the Romans and Greeks.

From Roman mythology, we get the name Cupid, which means “to desire”, which derives from the Latin word cupere. Cupid is, literally, the child of the goddess of love, Venus. In Greek mythology, he is known as Eros, and, depending on the source, was thought to be a primordial god who came into the world either asexually, from an egg, or the son of Aphrodite. In classical Greek and Roman art, Cupid  is a slender, winged young boy, but later artistic depictions of the god show him starting to eat more and getting increasingly chubbier.

Okay, now that they have made me see cupid in a different light, let's move on before they turn me against candy and sweets. Which in reality might not be such a bad thing. This next part is more down my lane with people giving gifts and not doing anything that makes you go EWW LOL!! 

I hope these folks from
Ebay don't mind my
using their image I'll share for them 

For this one we are back to this blog.. HERE.  Despite the holiday's mysterious and puzzling roots, it is obvious that people have observed St. Valentine’s Day for centuries. The famed London diarist Samuel Pepys mentioned observances of the day in the mid-1600s, complete with elaborate gift-giving among the wealthier members of society. 

I don't know about you but the name Pepy's evokes that cute little skunk that was always chasing the cat, wanting to make her his true love. Now that's a holiday memory I can enjoy and smile when I think of it. Though he did put poor kitty through the ringer trying to catch her and show her how much he really cared. 

Flowers, now this is more like it.

The history of Valentine’s Day flowers might have developed more recently than that of the holiday itself. In the 18th century, introduced by Charles II of Sweden, the custom of sending floral bouquets to pass on non-verbal messages became more mainstream. 

Each flower had a specific meaning attached to it, making it possible to have an entire conversation using only flowers. This form of communication is called floriography, or the cryptological communication through the arrangement of flowers.  Red roses meant – what else? – Romance, and is the most commonly given flower on Valentine’s Day. Pink roses meant gratitude and appreciation, whereas white meant innocence and purity. Carnations, another popular Valentine’s Day choice, meant an aching heart and admiration.


Okay, I thought candy would be safe. Well I was wrong. Little children cover your ears and the faint of heart . . . well I'm just kidding, it's not that bad. I do like to try and make you smile now and then or even laugh! It might make you think twice though, the next time you buy chocolate for someone. You might want to make sure it's your husband and not your neighbor, lol!! Here is the blog where my chocolate info came from.

Chocolate is considered aphrodisiac food since the time of Aztecs. Chocolate is said to contain a substance that inflames desire and make the beloved one more open to romance. In olden days, this resulted in the tradition in European royalty to give their lovers chocolates mixed with amber. You think this can't be true, and you might have thought someone came up with this just to sell more candy. But wait.

According to science, there might be some truth in old legends. As per the recent studies, women who eat chocolate are said to show more desire for romance as compared to women who don’t eat chocolates. This might be because chocolates release brain soothing chemicals which increase energy and desire levels. Chocolate is proven to produce a natural high which elevates mood and is often equated to feeling in love.

Okay, if you are like me you're kind of tired by this point. You might even want to skip Valentines day and move on to that cute fuzzy Easter bunny, who at this moment seems safer. We might delve into him later, or I might just leave him and and not want to find out what started him hopping around, giving out eggs. 

So onto a little about my book which has nothing to do with Easter Eggs or Valentines  day or candy. I'll share the blurb below, a link and the image. Remember, if you comment on the blog you will be entered in to possibly win an e-copy of this book. It gets great reviews and many of the ladies that read it said they couldn't put it down. Warning though, many of them said they fell head over heels in love with Maxwell Caufield.  

Thanks and I'm curious to see what some of you will say about this blog post :)

Can true love be found when you’re promised to another?
After losing her father and two brothers in the war, Rachel Lawson is forced to move North. Lonely and uncertain about her future, she hopes answering a mail-order-bride advertisement will be the answer to her prayers. Will her decision destroy her only real chance at love?

Maxwell Caufield is a self-made recluse, his past and inward self-loathing has built a wall around his life and heart. While escorting his brother's intended, he's shocked to discover he has feelings for the bride-to-be. What will he do? Betray his brother or his own heart?

Website Facebook Group Contact Us Samantha Fury is the author of  the Street Justice Series.  She's written many articles on book covers, for Indie Authors. She operates several Indie Groups. Editing Services, Cover Artist, Helpful Indie Facebook Groups. 
Latest Release here Rachel's Ransom buy Here It is also in Kindle Unlimited