In researching for Western Historical Novels, I’ve run across some strange historical facts. I thought I’d share a few of them here, and illustrate how some showed up in my romance novels.
Frank James quoted Shakespeare, and he and brother Jesse liked to have their pictures made. In Images In Scarlet, they kidnap Allie Caine to take those photos.
If you think the Civil War actually ended when Lee surrendered, then it’s back to the books. The final battle took place out west at Palmetto on the Rio Grand almost a full month after the surrender. This story has been partially written, but not finished yet.
Before bloomers, women wore separate long legged under drawers, each one tied around a band at the waist and they had no crotch. Could this be one of the reasons women rode side saddle? There are other reasons, which kept women riding in that uncomfortable fashion long after bloomers came on the scene.
Custer was a womanizer and a narcissist, and fathered several Cheyenne children, but wife Libby did her best to immortalize him. Stone Heart’s Woman features as its hero, one of those children, all grown up and fighting for his mother’s people.
By 1859, 10,000 women were involved in photography, then known as making pictures. Many worked for famous photographers like Matthew Brady, while others were out on their own. Images In Scarlet, available on Kindle, tells the story of Allie Caine, one of these picture makers.
In 1878 emigrant Victorians built castles from stones shipped to Kansas from England. There is no sign of them in Victoria today. My book, Wilda’s Outlaw: The Victorians takes place in and around one of these castles. It is the first of a three-part series.
It wasn’t unusual for women headed west to dress as men to stay out of trouble. Charlie Parkhurst lived her (his) entire life as a man. A fascinating book, The Whip by Karen Kondazian, tells the life story of Charlie. Montana Promises has scenes where Tressie dresses as a boy while she and Reed search for her father in the gold strike country near Virginia City, Montana.
Early trains would often have to stop while crossing long wooden trestles so the men passengers could get out and help put out the fires set by sparks from the coal or wood burning engines. Montana Dreams has a frightening scene in which Reed and other men on board climb out onto the narrow trestle to fight a fire.
The only gold mine in Kansas was located near Circleville. In Angel’s Gold Angeline scrounges left-over nuggets from the played-out mine in order to have enough gold to finance her escape from Prophet, the man who bought her from her parents.
Which brings up another historical fact. Parents headed west who ran out of funds, would sometimes sell their oldest daughter in order to have enough money to get to their destination. Angel was 15 when her parents sold her, but she was fortunate. Prophet waited until she was 18 to demand his rights as a husband, and by then she was on the run with a handsome outlaw.
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Really interesting Velda!