Friday, April 3, 2020

A Blow Struck for Feminism. The Surprising History of Long Underwear and 19th Century Dress Reform

by Patti Sherry-Crews

"Deliver us from the evils of the dress!" --Annie Jeanness-Miller

Union Suit

Have you ever looked at photographs of Victorian-era women climbing mountains and wondered how in the world did they manage such strenuous activity wearing those clothes? As ridiculous as those outfits look to us today, the attire available to the active women in the mid 19th century was far less cumbersome than previously, thanks to Annie Jeanness-Miller and other pioneers of the Dress Reform movement.

To put the call for dress reform in context, let's first look at what women were expected to wear earlier. Desired silhouettes changed from time to time, but in the early part of the 19th century, the ideal woman had a teeny, tiny waist and full hips. What nature did not provide, artfully constructed clothing did. Women's undergarments were so many and complicated that a lady sometimes needed assistance to dress herself. The first layer of clothing were bloomers. Next came the chemise. So far not so bad. But then the fashion victim had to be squeezed into a corset which laced in the back (we all have that scene in our heads right now of Scarlett O'Hara, who has been starving herself all morning in preparation for the big party, holding on to a bedpost while Mammy stands behind her lacing her corset--admit it, that's what you were thinking of).

Bloomers, chemise, and corset, but that's not all. We're not dressed yet. Before she could slip into her dress, the lady still had to put on a crinoline to hold the shape of a hoop skirt, and over that were several petticoats. And when it was in fashion, the bustle gave the lady the desired S-shaped profile. Now, go climb that mountain, girl!

Then out of the White Mountains of New Hampshire came Annie Jeanness-Miller, and she was having none of it. Annie, who was related to Oliver Wendell Holmes, was a lecturer and a so-called Women in Letters of the time. In addition to dress reform for women she educated the public on other topics such as social justice and the prevention of disease by using proper hygiene.

Annie felt that restrictive clothing, including enormous hats, put women in a subservient position to men. Her goal was to emancipate the waist! To accomplish this, she published a magazine called Dress and sold patterns for more sensible outfits. Outfits a woman could climb a mountain in. Or go yachting--or play a game of lawn tennis. She even designed a business suit and patented athletic wear for women.

Earlier attempts at dress reform weren't successful but what Jeanness-Miller got right was to stay within the norms of contemporary fashion, so in outward appearance there was nothing radical in her designs. She also included beautiful touches like eyelet lace and ribbons, so her line still had feminine appeal.

The first strike in her war against the corset was the Union Suit (different from Long Johns which are comprised of separate top and bottom. Union Suit meaning the union of top and bottom), and yes it had the "trapdoor." The garment fitted to a women's natural shape and could be made from various material like silk or wool depending on the season. This undergarment eliminated bulky fabric, allowing for more natural movement.

"With the Union Suit all of this is obviated, and a woman becomes a dainty object where formerly she looked as if wrapped in yards of meaningless stuff."--Annie Jeanness-Miller

Next,  the Chemilette was worn over the Union Suit to replace the corset.


 And finally came the Model Bodice and the Turkish Leglettes. Notice the exotic names she called her pieces. Annie had quite the flair for marketing.

Turkish Leglettes and Model Bodice

Of the Turkish Leglettes she reasoned, "Why not a divided garment for clothing women's legs as well as a man's? Nothing in their anatomical construction would suggest any other conclusions; and why, then, clothe them differently when by so clothing them, freedom and grace of movement are both sacrificed."

And furthermore, "The Turkish Leglettes are a great improvement over the petticoat, because they are designed with special regard for the legs. They clothe each separately, and for this reason are much warmer than the petticoat, under which the air circulates freely. Each leg lifts its own weight in walking, so that very great resistance at the ankle and knee from the petticoat is gotten rid of, and in wet weather they do not get dragged and soiled as do the petticoats."

The Union Suit proved to be such a practical garment that men picked up on it. Picked it up to such an extent that now when we think of the Union Suit, we generally picture a rugged manly type chopped down a tree or something in red long underwear. Red, by the way, became and still is the most popular color. Why red? Because if a man were to find himself in some distress out in the wild he could strip down to your alarm-red underwear for better visibility.

In my historical novels I like the get my heroines out of their corsets as soon as possible.
Here is an excerpt from my upcoming historical western romance, His Unexpected Companion.

Forget about leaving town at an early hour. He spotted an alley he knew would lead him to the hotel by way of a shortcut. If the store had delivered his supplies and the livery stable had brought around his horse, he could be on his way in a short time.
At last things were falling into place and it looked like a perfect day for traveling...except that woman kept intruding on his thoughts. He worried about her survival in the wild, and that was assuming she could even get out of town unmolested.
Turning down the alley his heart leaped into this throat. There half way down the alley, crumpled into a ball by piles of trash was a sight familiar to him. Green dress! Oh, my lord, no!
He raced down the length of the alley to the form on the ground. As he reached it, something brushed by his shoulder and landed on the ground. A corset!
Looking up, he caught a quick flash of a person...a person who appeared to be not wearing clothes. The figure reappeared again, and he recognized the woman. She waved something out the window and a pair of bloomers floated down toward him. At his feet sat a growing pile of clothes, including the dress she wore last night. He tilted his head back again to be met with the sight of her, half crouched below the window, her mouth frozen into a perfect “O”. She slunk back inside but he heard laughter.
Completely scandalized, he walked away quickly but with dignity. 
This woman was clearly insane.


Olivia had to laugh at the expression on his face. She left him with a puzzle today!
Too bad he was such an old fuddy duddy because he was a good-looking man. Just her sort, really. Tall and lean with lovely auburn hair. The first time she saw him sitting in the restaurant with his hair carefully combed back with pomade, he arrested her attention. He had the kind of hair she liked to muss up and see flopping over his forehead.
Of course, she didn’t have to throw her clothes out of the window. But she sure wasn’t going to take up valuable room in her saddle bags with dresses she had no use of. Besides, she hated them. Watching the garments land in the alley had been the most fun she’d had in months. Picked out for her and bought by somebody else and now so much trash. 

Shedding her skin as it were, she now stood naked as the day she was born. Time to grow a new skin. She gathered her purchases from today and slipped into her new clothes.
The image reflected back to her in the mirror pleased her. The men’s clothing didn’t exactly hide her womanhood but it helped. And wearing pants was so much more comfortable. Nothing more restrictive than lady clothes. It had been especially good to get shot of that device of torture known as a corset. She took in a deep breath, enjoying the way her body expanded to its natural boundaries.
She swung her long hair over her shoulder and plaited it into one braid, which she coiled on top of her head and fixed with pins. 
Before leaving her room for the last time, she crammed the hat over her head and judged the effect in the mirror again. Unrecognizable. Anyone coming after her would have their work cut out for them.

About His Unexpected Companion:
Kit Traver, dissatisfied with his life practicing law in Boston, is returning home to Leadville, Colorado and looking forward to a simpler life--where he's all but formally engaged to a girl back home he's been corresponding with. Olivia Darling has found living on the run with an outlaw is not what she imagined. All she wants now is to return to her family's ranch.
When both Kit and Olivia find themselves on the same trail heading to their respective homes, the unlikely duo join forces. Kit fights his growing attraction to Olivia who has her own reasons for inciting his passion. When she pushes him too far, the two end their journey on a sour note.
Back in Leadville, Kit finds things much the same. Only he finds he's the one whose changed. Olivia returns to the ranch to find home for her as altered forever. Kit can't stop thinking about the unconventional woman he met on the trail and sets out to find her. But will he be too late?
His Unexpected Companion is set for release through Prairie Rose Publications in June of 2020.

You can find my books, both contemporary and historical at

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Guest Author Hebby Roman

Please welcome to Cowboy Kisses, guest author Hebby Roman. Hebby has a new book releasing April 1, 2020. She joins us today to give a peek inside: Zach: The Bachelors and Babies Series—Book 11.  

Will their love for an orphaned baby forge a lasting bond between a widowed sheep rancher and a battle-scarred drill sergeant?
Sergeant Zacharias Armstrong survived the massacre of his family and the starvation of his baby brother but lost his faith. After being rescued and raised by mountain men, Zach joins the Army. Disciplined and introverted, he doesn’t form personal attachments. Instead, he makes the Army his new home and family, rising in rank to sergeant. But when he rescues a baby, his life takes an unexpected turn.
Johanna Gunter, an immigrant from Germany, survived the murder of her husband and eldest son. Johanna clings to the ranch she and her husband carved out of the Texas wilderness, and she wants to be left in peace to raise her other two children. But her neighbors, the Jackson brothers, are determined to terrify her, making her give up her land.
When the Army sends Zach to investigate the murder of one of Johanna’s shepherds and his wife, he finds their baby. Johanna offers to raise the child, but Zach doesn’t want to give up the baby.   When he learns the murder is part of the ongoing terror Johanna faces, he joins forces with her. A bond develops between them, their mutual attraction grows, and Johanna helps Zach find his faith again. But can they forget their painful pasts and open their hearts to allow their newfound attachment to forge a lasting family?

Johanna felt a spark of lightning sizzle along her arm when the sergeant touched her. She inhaled, remembering how she’d felt when Wilhelm used to waltz her across the dance floor. Why was Wilhelm, her childhood sweetheart, on her mind today? She hadn’t thought of him in years. It must be the lieutenant—with his blond good looks and charm—he reminded her of Wilhelm.
On the porch, the lieutenant turned to her and took her hand. “We’ll do all we can to find the murderers. You have my word on it.”
“Thank you,” she said.
“And I want to thank you, too, Lieutenant,” the sergeant said. “I didn’t expect your help.”
“I want to do it,” the lieutenant replied. “To help Mrs. Gunter.” He waved at them and clattered off. “I’ll see you at mess, Sergeant.” He threw the words over his shoulder.
She bowed her head, wondering why she didn’t respond to his touch when he reminded her of Wilhelm. But it was the sergeant, the man she’d dubbed as arrogant and rude, who drew her, putting her into a rare tizzy, like a silly smitten schoolgirl.
She stole a look at him from the corner of her eye. He wasn’t handsome as Wilhelm had been, though, he had a pleasant face with a strong jaw and warm brown eyes. Where Wilhelm was slim and lithe, the sergeant was stocky with impossibly broad shoulders. Strength radiated from him, from his physical presence as well as the firmness of his convictions. She found his nearness soothing, making her feel safe for the first time in a long time.
With her feelings in a muddle and her heart pounding in her ears, she tried to pull away from him, but his grip was firm. She bit her lip and realized she liked him touching her. Changing her mind, she leaned against him, drawing on his strength.
“That was very kind of you, Sergeant, to put up your own money for a reward.” She tried a small smile. “And kind of the lieutenant, too.”
He stopped and turned to her, but he didn’t let her go. His voice was soft. “It’s the least I can do for Kurt.”
This time, her smile came readily, realizing how easily he’d changed the baby’s name. First, Josiah, and now, Kurt. He really was attached to the child, and his obvious tenderness left her feeling all squishy inside.
“Can I escort you to the Bauers’ resting place. They were buried this morning after reveille. We could stop in the adjoining meadow and gather some wildflowers for their graves.”
Ja, uh, yes, er, I mean, nein. Maybe later, if that’s fine with you.” She lifted her head and snagged his gaze. “Can you take me to see Kurt first?”
“It would be my pleasure. He’s with his wet nurse, Guadalupe, at the laundry.” He stopped and changed course, gently steering her.
“Does she take him home at night?” she asked.
“No, the commander let me have a room behind the schoolhouse. I’m with Kurt at night.”
She gazed at him, trying to puzzle out this unusual man, though, it was difficult to see much with his hat pulled low. She thought she detected dark shadows beneath his brown eyes. “How did that work out last night?”
He pursed his lips and then grinned. “Not so good, but I’ve laid in a few more supplies. Hoping tonight will go better.”
She wanted to ask about the brother he’d lost, Josiah. But she doubted he would tell her much on their short acquaintance. Instead, she decided to ask about his unusual background.
“You were a fur trapper before you joined the cavalry?” she inquired.
Zach stopped and gazed at her. Her wideset eyes were blue-gray with flecks of green in them. Hazel eyes. Interesting, especially since her hair, peeking from beneath a rather unflattering poke bonnet, was so blonde as to be almost silver-white in the sunshine. She had a pert nose with freckles across it, and a wide mouth, almost lush in its contours.
She had to be over thirty, given the ages of her daughter and deceased son, but she didn’t look her age. Except for a few laugh crinkles at the corners of her eyes, her skin was a smooth, alabaster color. And beneath her rather shapeless dress, he could guess at the contours of her body. She was full-breasted but slim after having birthed three children.
He was drawn to her, and he was seldom drawn to women, having witnessed some rough wooing at the mountain men’s annual rendezvous. Squaws and white captive women were kept to serve their masters in bed and out. Those memories had left a bad taste in his mouth, especially after his upbringing.
Mostly, he felt pity for women, knowing how vulnerable they were. It was partially why he’d offered a reward—that and because of Kurt. The boy’s parents’ deaths deserved a thorough investigation. When the boy was grown, Zach wanted to tell him that he’d brought the killers to justice.
He liked touching Johanna, could feel the warmth of her body, and he enjoyed the way she smelled of lavender. The scent reminded him of the pomanders his mother used to make to keep their clothing fresh. And Johanna had a way about her, a directness and open honesty he’d seldom encountered with most women. Not to mention how brave she’d been, facing down the commander.
How much did he want to tell her?
He’d seldom told anyone about his past, except the barest of outlines. He took her arm again, and they proceeded across the parade ground. “I wasn’t exactly a fur trapper, though, I did learn how to trap beaver, fox, and wolves.”
She nodded. “Isn’t the Sierra Nevada mountain range out west somewhere?”
“Yes, in California.”
“But you don’t sound like a westerner.”
“I grew up in Pennsylvania until I was eight years old. Then we moved west.”

Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. She was selected for the Romantic Times "Texas Author" award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. She has been a RONE Finalist three times and in three different categories.
Hebby is blessed to have all her family living close by in north Texas, including her two granddaughters, Mackenzie Reese and Presley Davis. Hebby lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Luis, and Maltipoo, Maximillian. To learn more about Hebby, visit her website at:

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Outlaw Bill Tibbetts

Bill in his 20's courtesy of Canyon County Zephyr 
Outlaw Trail wasn’t exactly a trail, but a string of hideouts stretching from Montana through Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and into Mexico. Robber’s Roost is probably the most well-known of the hideouts, and less famous outlaw Bill Tibbetts knew that part of Utah well.  
James William (Bill) Tibbets was born on March 23, 1898 on the south side of the Utah’s La Sal Mountains. His parents, Bill and Amy, were ranchers, and as luck would have it, Amy went into early labor while Bill was out on the range. Amy’s brother, Ephraim, rode to a neighboring ranch to fetch a female cook to help with the birth, but the woman was gone and wouldn’t return for a few days, thus Ephraim delivered his nephew. 
La Sal Mtns Wikipedia 
Bill Sr. filed for the homestead where Bill Jr. was born in the 1880’s. He picked a prime piece of land and hired Amy Moore from Moab to cook for him. She was 20 years his senior, something that wasn’t uncommon in those day. They fell in love, married and started a family. Bill Sr. was known to help his neighbors, including a woman whose husband repeatedly beat her, but the last time Bill intervened, the woman’s husband killed Bill that night. Amy wanted to keep the ranch, but with two small sons and debts she didn’t know Bill had, she was forced to sell and move back to her family home in Moab, where she remarried. Bill Jr. grew up missing his father and hating his stepfather, who was strict and didn’t’ hesitate to whup Bill for his disobedience.  
During his younger years, Bill earned a reputation of the toughest kid in school. Fighting and intimidation became the norm for him, as well as working his grandparents’ farm. There he became an accomplished horseman and hired on with Moab based Murphy Cattle Company at a young age. Through working on the range for the cattle company, Bill learned how to dig out water holes in the desert and how to make small earth dams to catch runoff water for the cows, the layout of the land and how to live off of it, all of which proved beneficial in his late teens when he and some friends decided to round up horses left behind in the Robbers Roost area. Rumors abounded the outlaws were gone and the teens made money selling the mounts to settlements in Iron County. Later, he enlisted in the Army, returned after the war and partnered with his mother and uncle in the cow business.
Bill tried to run his cattle in the canyon lands. They were open lands for anyone to use, but bigger outfits running their own herds on the open land didn’t welcome Bill, or any other newcomers. Bill spent many years waging war with these outfits and running from the law when framed for crimes and atrocities he didn’t commit. Sometimes, he was successful and out maneuvered the bigger outfits. Other times he lost, and through it all he earned himself a notorious reputation.
Utah's Canyonlands 
Later in life, the law finally caught up to him and he was thrown in the Moab jail alongside his friend Tom on a series of charges, some legit and some not. The two had their say in court and lost, and were sent back to jail where they escaped into the canyon lands of the Colorado River from the help of friends and Bill’s brother. With supplies left at various locations, they drifted along the Colorado to the Green River, but the sheriff and small posse caught up to them. They were able to take cover in Standing Rock Canyon and held off the sheriff in a round of gun fire. Under the cover of darkness, they stole the posse’s supplies and the next day Bill convinced the lawmen that the heat and mosquitos wasn’t worth them staying and trying to arrest him and Tom. For whatever reason, they agreed and left.      
Tibbett's Arch courtesy of Canyon County Zephyr 
Bill and Tom enjoyed a few days as free men before the posse returned. Low on supplies and food, forced to eat grasshoppers, Bill and Tom were able to lead the posse on a merry chase through desert and canyon land, with Bill knowing every crook and crevice. They made it to Elaterite Basin and found the supplies uncle Ephraim was known to keep hidden. Since the lawmen didn’t know this particular area of Robbers Roost, Bill and Tom were able to escape to a cave, where they spent the winter. (It’s this cave that hikers accidentally happened upon years later and found Tibbett’s carved name.)
Bill & Jewel courtesy of Canyon County Zephyr
Bill eventually left Utah and married Jewel Agens. They moved to Santa Fe, along with Tom, and both mend found work with the New Mexico State Police breaking horses. No one with the police department suspected they were fugitives. Eventually the Statue of Limitations attached to their names expired, and Bill and Jewel moved back to Moab with their sons. Tom opted to stay in New Mexico. So much in love, Bill and Jewel bought the Horsethief Ranch in 1959, which was special to Bill because he and a friend had been the first to discover a spring on the property back in 1924. Sadly, Bill and Jewel were killed by a drunk driver south of Moab in 1969.
I’ve only scratched the surface of Bill Tibbett’s life and the canyonlands of Moab and Robbers Roost. To learn more, read Last Of The Robbers Roost Outlaws by Tom McCourt. Bill’s was a fascinating life and something everyone who adores the old west should know.

Mr. McCourt’s book is available at Amazon.
Bill's name in the cave courtesy of C.C. Zephyr

Friday, March 27, 2020

Kansas Forts Along the Smoky Hill Trail-FORT RILEY by Zina Abbott

For my next four books, my writing has taken me to frontier Kansas. In particular, I have researched the primary trails and frontier forts along those trails. For the next several months, I will be sharing with you regarding the Kansas Forts along the Smoky Hill Trail.

Today I am starting from the eastern part of Kansas with Fort Riley. Even though by the time the American Civil War ended, this part of Kansas was no longer on the frontier, it was a primary supply center for the forts in western Kansas. Situated along the Smoky Hill Trail in eastern Kansas, goods traveled by military mule teams, or, more commonly, by contract freight trains comprised by oxen-pulled wagons to their destinations in the west.

In the early 1850s the army needed a site west of Fort Leavenworth to cope with the inevitable clashes between emigrant tribes, long-established tribes, and Americans who were arriving in greater numbers. Military officials decided that necessary repairs to Fort Leavenworth, along the Missouri River in Kansas, would be a waste because it was too far to the east to enforce boundaries and policies. A more strategically sensible position was desired. 

In 1852, a troop of the First Dragoons escorted Major E.A. Ogden went on a reconnaissance mission to find a site for a new post. Major Odgen found the most promising terrain near the juncture of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers, a long-established crossroads of Indian activity. It was first known as Camp Center, because of its proximity to the geographical center of the United States.

Plan for Fort Riley
Fort Riley is located on the north bank of the Kansas River three miles from Junction City at the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers. It was located between the Oregon and Santa Fe trails to provide protection for travelers on overland routes. It was established 17 May 1853 in Kansas Territory by Captain Charles S. Lovell, 6th U.S. Infantry, on a site recommended by Colonel Thomas T. Flauntleroy, 1st U. S. Dragoons.

On 27 June 1853, it was designated Fort Riley, in honor of Colonel Bennett Riley, 1st U.S. Infantry, who led the first military escort along the Santa Fe Trail and who died on 9 June 1853. Construction of the permanent cavalry post was commenced in 1855 under the direction of Captain Edmund A. Ogden, 8th U. S. Infantry.

Soldiers erected a few temporary buildings in 1853, but Major Ogden oversaw the principal construction of the permanent buildings of the fort beginning in 1855. In July of that year, a cholera epidemic broke in the fort. Although short-lived, by the time it ended, an estimated 75 to 125 persons in the region died, including Major Ogden.

Fort Riley and the Plains Indians
Even before the Civil War, soldiers from Fort Riley fought in major campaigns against Indians as they executed and enforced the laws and policies of the United States government. Fort Riley was the stage for the Second Dragoon Sioux Campaign of 1855, the Cheyenne Expedition of 1857, the 1860 Comanche and Kiowa Expedition, and the Curtis Expedition of 1864.

With the opening of Kansas Territory in 1854, Fort Riley’s first mission was to protect those Americans settling in the new region. Eventually, it's main function became organizing and drilling troops and source of supplies. As more forts were established in the west part of the state, it soon became a supply depot headquarters for the western Army forts.

As a cavalry post, the horse trade was especially important. The army had strict regulations about the quality of horses to be purchased and who might serve as suppliers. Most of the cavalry horses at Fort Riley came from Fort Leavenworth and St. Louis. These “American” horses were capable of carrying a 450-pound load.
Fort Riley 1866
Fort Riley also served as the headquarters of the District of the Upper Arkansas, responsible for the army’s operations and posts in western Kansas and eastern Colorado under the command of Major General Samuel R. Curtis at Fort Leavenworth who headed the Department of Kansas, which included the Territory of Colorado, Indian Territory, and the state of Kansas.

Soldiers from Fort Riley assisted in treaty arrangements with many Indian nations. Some agreements were concluded with relative ease, often facilitated by chicanery as in the cases of the Kaws and immigrant Potawatomis, Shawnees, and Delawares. Many Indians in Kansas became US citizens through the treaty process, but others were more resistant to change. These included Cheyennes, Arapahos, Comanches, and Kiowas. It was because of the resistance from these tribes that Fort Riley and many of the forts to the west that it supplied fought military campaigns over the 1860s into the early part of the 1870s to conclude what they considered meaningful treaties with these tribes. Even after peace treaties were in place, the problems did not end.

Fort Riley involved itself with policing actions. Notable among them was their failed efforts to control squatters from taking over Kaw reservation land in Council Grove. Other policing actions included incarcerating Indian prisoners, which proved to be unsuccessful since the facilities were open and its boundaries easily breached.

After the Civil War, troops from Fort Riley were needed to protect workers constructing the Kansas Pacific Railroad from the Indian attacks.

In 1887, Fort Riley became the site of the United States Cavalry School. The famous all-black 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, the soldiers of which were called "Buffalo Soldiers", were stationed at Fort Riley at various times in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There were nine major frontier forts established in Kansas, as well as several smaller, temporary camps. Of those forts, Fort Riley is one of the two nineteenth century forts still active today.

Starting in the twentieth century, during World War I, the fort was home to 50,000 soldiers, and it is sometimes identified as ground zero for the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which its soldiers were said to have spread all over the world. Since the end of World War II, various infantry divisions have been assigned there. Most notably, from 1955-1996 the post was home to the famed Big Red One. Between 1999-2006, the post was headquarters to the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and known as "America's Warfighting Center". In August 2006, the Big Red One relocated its headquarters to Fort Riley from Leighton Barracks, Germany.

Notable people from the nineteenth century at Fort Riley:

Major E.A. Ogden who died in the cholera epidemic to hit Fort Riley in 1855.

In 1864 Major Benjamin S. Henning commanded the U.S. Army’s District of the Upper Arkansas from Fort Riley.

7th Cavalry at Fort Riley
George A. Custer was stationed at the fort in 1866. That same year he formed the 7th Cavalry. 

Wild Bill Hickok was a scout for Fort Riley starting in 1867.

Today is release day for my novel, Hannah’s Handkerchief, Book 24 in the Lockets & Lace series (also Book 4 in the Atwell Kin series). The opening chapters take place at Fort Riley. As will my other Atwell Kin books, an underlying theme involves the situation with the Kaw (Kansa) tribe who made early treaties with the United States which were not enforced to these people’s detriment.

To read the book description and find the purchase link, please CLICK HERE.

Sherow, James E.;  Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains
Wikipedia: Fort Riley

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Calling Dr. Mom

So much is going on right now.  Many of us are at home attempting to do our regular 'mom' duties as well as, our paying jobs.  Added to that, we have become the first line of education and defense in health of our families. In a way, we've come full circle to our pioneer mothers.

In the rural life of the 19th  Century, women often had to use the knowledge of their mothers and their mother's mother to find the tried and tested ideas to keep their family healthy. Having a 'practicing' doctor in your town or village meant that you lived in an up and coming town. Mothers often passed down their 'nursing knowledge' in pieces of paper wedged in cookbooks or the family bible. Here are some of the prescriptions they might have used.

Sore  Throat - some recommended Dog Fennel boiled with lard or to gargle with salt water (I bet you've used that one at least once in your life time. Not the dog fennel but the salt water.)

Fever - Elderberry tea.

Upset stomach - dried peppermint ( I mean who doesn't know a granny who keeps an extra handful of peppermints in the bottom of her purse from every restaurant she's been in. )

Cough - boiled water flavored with cherry bark. ( think about that every time you go by cough syrup. Lots of them have a cherry flavor. )

Whooping cough - a feather dipped in turpentine and whisked around the back of the throat. ( honestly, I can remember my mother talking about having that done.  UCK )

Our family Bible has one scrawled in pencil. It's barely legible now after so many years. The Bible has been handed down in the family since 1820. It was for diphtheria. One had to find a recently hanged individual. Pry open the coffin and using the victim's left hand, hit the head of the infected person three times. ( Honest, its in there. I'm sure many died trying that one. )

Other  remedies were:

Stiff neck - use a pair of underdrawers that had been wore for at least two days and tied around the neck. (Yep that would work for social distancing )

Hernia - pass the child through a sapling that was split in the middle without touching hands of the person on the other side.

Another sore throat remedy was skunk oil - I stopped there. I didn't really want to know how it was made.

My grandfather in the early 1900's once paid twenty dollars for this one. He had terrible arthritis. He paid a man for a jar of tea. The tea, he later found out, was made from sheep dung dried in an oven and turned into tea. ( Our family still chuckles about that one  )

Have chest congestion - mustard plaster. It was judged successful by the number of blisters.

ear ache - a drop of laudanum which was a staple in every household for illness.

Toothache - pack it with salt to draw out the poison.

These were sure guaranteed to bring out the old saying; If you live through the cure, you might be saved.

Bottom line, we will get through this imposed social distancing. We can do it through humor both satirical and silly. We are a strong breed, we humans. And when we do, I hope we will take time to thank the defenders, those doctors, those nurses, those medical personal who have put their life on the line so we can keep carrying on. Hang in there, ladies. We are made of stern stuff.

Till next time,


Friday, March 20, 2020

Revisting the old ways ~ by Kristine Raymond

As of this writing, the world is in a state of uncertainty.  Fear of contracting Covid-19, scarcity of food and necessities, distancing ourselves from family and friends - our lives are in turmoil.  But we'll get through this, just as generations before us did.

I'm not going to list the plagues and illnesses that have affected the population since the dawn of time or even those that have been concentrated in the United States.  That's what Wikipedia's for.  What I'd like to point out is that we survived.  The human race, I mean.  Yes, there were casualties, sometimes in the millions, and while that's scary and incredibly sad, life continued on.

I'll admit; I'm all for modern-day conveniences.  I love WiFi, air conditioning, home delivery, connecting with people around the world simply by turning on my computer.  But the downside of this 'at our fingertips' culture - where we can have anything from takeout to a new car delivered to our doorstep - is that we've lost the ability to provide for ourselves.

There was a time in this country, not so long ago, in fact, that almost everyone tended a garden, owned a flock of chickens, and maybe a milk goat or cow.  They sewed their own clothes (I'd be in trouble with that one), baked their own bread (from grain they grew, no less), and fished or hunted for meat.  They doctored themselves through injury and illness - yes, even plague - and not only survived, but flourished.

I understand that culture is no longer practical for so many reasons, yet in some small part could it be?  What if we took a moment and looked backward instead of forward?  Rediscovered those skills that came second nature to our great-grandparents?

What if we planted a fruit tree or bush or tended a few vegetable plants in containers on our deck?  Raised a couple of chickens in our backyard or put in a beehive or two?  Learned how to can to take advantage when produce is abundant at the Farmer's Market, ensuring our shelves - and bellies - are full when times are lean?  Made our own soap or alternative cleaners?  What if we weaned off having to rely on others for everything and learned, once again, how to provide for ourselves, focusing less on convenience and more on self-sufficiency?

Now, I'm not advocating doing away with import/exports or eliminating jobs or using pages from the Sears-Roebuck catalog during bathroom breaks.  Hey, I love modern conveniences as much as the next person.  Besides, those catalogs are harder to find than TP these days.  Non-existent, in fact.  Nor am I endorsing fishing without a license or hunting out of season or any other illegal activities.  What I'm suggesting is blending the old with the new, incorporating the knowledge of our ancestors with the technology of today so that the next time there's a crisis (and there will be a 'next time'; history has shown us that), we're able to respond with gratitude in the knowledge that we're prepared rather than with fear of the unknown.