Trail’s End set in Wild Western Town of Abilene, Kansas

Before I ever dreamed I’d pick up a pen again, my family took a vacation to Kansas to visit my brother and his family. We visited Abilene one afternoon. I learned a bit about the history of that wild western town … enough that I wanted to know more.

My sister-in-law has family ties to Abilene—another reason for my fascination. In fact, one of her ancestors was a friend of Wild Bill Hickok, who was marshal of Abilene in 1871, the year after our story. In 1870, Marshal Tom Smith insisted that the cowboys be disarmed. Storekeepers, saloon-keepers, and hotel owners were asked to post a sign and collect the guns of their customers. Marshal Smith knew what he was doing. He made the town a safer place. Sadly, he was killed later that year.

Stuart Henry’s Conquering Our Great American Plains was a great resource for my story. Henry lived in Abilene from 1868-1872 as a boy. I love finding treasures like this author’s book that allow me to take my readers back to 1870 Abilene, Kansas. What a gift.

When my editor approached me about writing a cowboy story set in the West, it did not take long for my imagination to take me back to Abilene. Who’d have guessed that a family vacation that took place before I decided to pursue a writing career would lead to a story?

I hope you enjoy traveling back to the Wild West with me as much as I love taking you there.

Sandra Merville Hart, from the Author’s Note in the book

This book is a collection of four novellas by Jennifer Uhlarik, Linda W. Yezak, Sandra Merville Hart, and Cindy Ervin Huff.

Sandra’s story in the collection is called Trail’s End. Here’s a bit about the story:

Trail’s End Blurb

Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.

 

Available on Amazon

 

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Dictionary of Similar but Separate Words by William R. Luellen

This book is filled with words commonly used in incorrect ways. For example, do you know the difference between complement vs. compliment? How about eminent vs. imminent? Famous vs. infamous?

If any of these made you wonder about true meanings, this book may be for you.

There is also a section in the back for words that share the same spelling but not the same meaning, such as bass or present.

The author of the book is an editor, writer, and professional speaker. He wrote this book, in part, to answer questions from his clients who spoke English as a second or third language.

A nice reference book for writers, educators, and public speakers.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sour Dough Starter Survived Through the Centuries

Today’s post has been written by fellow author and friend, Cindy Ervin Huff. We’ve both written novellas that are included in “The Cowboys” Smitten collection. Cindy’s story in the collection is a page turner! Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Cindy!

 People often think of sourdough bread as part and parcel of the Old West. You might be surprised to know sourdough bread has been around since ancient Egypt. The naturally occurring yeast in the air is what sours the dough causing fermentation. The fermented goo causes the bread to rise.

Sourdough Bread gets its name from its tangy smell.

Equal parts of flour and water are mixed together and left to ferment to create the mother dough. Salt or sugar are part of the base in some recipes. Each day the mixture is stirred, and more flour and water added. Usually it takes five days before the mixture is bubbly and ready to use. Sourdough starter will live for years if fed daily.

Pioneers heading west kept a crock of sourdough starter secured in their wagon. This hardy starter survived the trail and became a staple in the new homestead. Gifting a neighbor with a cup of sourdough starter was not uncommon. The starters often had different flavors based on their origin. The bacteria in the air in New York is different from the bacteria in San Francisco. Taking a bit of raw dough from the day’s baking and adding it to the starter preserved the unique flavor. It was used for pancakes and other recipes in place of baking powder or yeast.

Most modern sourdough recipes add a teaspoon of yeast to shorten the fermentation time.

Pioneers kept it close at hand and passed the starter down through the generations.

My novella Healing Hearts part of The Cowboy Collection is set in 1868. Genny, my heroine received some starter as a gift from a friend and brought it with her to Kansas.

-Cindy Ervin Huff

About Cindy

Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published, award winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She has been featured in numerous periodicals over the last thirty years. Cindy is a member of ACFW, Mentor for Word Weavers. founding member of the Aurora, Illinois, chapter of Word Weavers and a Christian Writer’s Guild alumni. Visit her on her blog www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com.

Healing Hearts by Cindy Ervin Huff

Lonnie Holt’s external scars remind him of his failures, his internal scars torment him. Genny Collins seeks safety at the ranch once owned by Lonnie’s uncle. When Lonnie and his brother arrive, sparks fly and distrust abounds. While Lonnie and Genny fight the love growing between them, his past haunts him, and her past pays them a visit.

Buy Links to The Cowboys:

Amazon

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Use coupon code SandraMHart for a 20% discount on Lighthouse Publishing books!

 

 

The Cowboys Releases Today!!!

 

I’m thrilled to announce my latest release!

This is my first western book. I’m in Smitten Historical Romance Collection “The Cowboys” with three other talented authors—Jennifer Uhlarik, Linda W. Yezak, and Cindy Ervin Huff. How exciting!

 

 

Here’s a bit about our stories:

Healing Hearts by Cindy Ervin Huff

Lonnie Holt’s external scars remind him of his failures, his internal scars torment him. Genny Collins seeks safety at the ranch once owned by Lonnie’s uncle. When Lonnie and his brother arrive, sparks fly and distrust abounds. While Lonnie and Genny fight the love growing between them, his past haunts him, and her past pays them a visit.

Becoming Brave by Jennifer Uhlarik

When Coy Whittaker stumbles upon a grisly scene littered with bodies, he wants nothing more than to get his boss’s cattle out of Indian Territory. But when a bloodstained Aimee Kaplan draws down on him, his plans—his heart—screech to a halt.

Trail’s End by Sandra Merville Hart

Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.

Loving a Harvey Girl by Linda W. Yezak

Eva Knowles can’t imagine why the local preacher doesn’t like Harvey Girls—women who work serving tables instead of finding a husband and falling in love. But if Eva can get the handsome and wayward cowboy Cal Stephens to join her in church, maybe the reverend will accept the girls. Or maybe she’ll forfeit her job for a husband, hearth, and home!

Pick up your copy today!

***For my newsletter recipients, the town of Abilene hired Tom Smith as marshal in 1870. Good luck in the drawing!

Reviews are always welcome!

 

 

A Perfect Weakness by Jennifer A. Davids

 

No one is beyond redemption.

This 1868 novel set in Hampshire, England, Penelope Howard busies herself helping neighbors of Ashford Hall. Her brother, Thomas, had not inherited the estate as they expected. No, an American doctor was the new baron.

But she has a secret not even her brother knows.

Dr. John Turner no longer feels he deserves that title, but does his new one fit any better? Penelope soon captures his heart. That hardly matters. He doesn’t deserve her, not after what he’s done.

Both hide secrets from the world and from each other. Can God’s grace really be sufficient to cover a terrible sin?

Wounded, scarred characters tugged at my heart and made this a page turner. I couldn’t put it down for long as I had to discover how the ending.

A romance that will tug at your emotions. Recommend.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas  Use coupon code SandraMHart for a 20% discount on Lighthouse Publishing books!

Fresh Peach Pie Recipe

This recipe is from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which was originally published in 1896.

Prepare a double-pie crust dough for a 9-inch pie. I used my mom’s pie crust recipe.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

The recipe calls for 4 cups of fresh peaches, peeled and sliced. I used 5 large peaches, which provided more than 4 cups. Fruit cooks down while baking so I tend to be generous with the amounts.

The cookbook gave a hint on peeling the peaches that I remember using years ago. Submerge the peaches into boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Immediately place the fruit into cold water. This softens the skin for easier peeling.

You will need 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. If using fresh lemon, prepare the juice now.

Stir together 1 cup of sugar with 4 tablespoons of flour in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the peaches and lemon juice. Toss these together until the sugar mixture coats the peaches completely.

Arrange the fruit in the bottom pie crust and then cover it with a top crust. Crimp sides together and cut several vents.

Bake for 10 minutes on 425 and then reduce to 350 for 30-40 minutes, until browned.

This pie is delicious! Though it is a little sweet, I loved it. Fresh peach pie is a delicious dessert on a hot summer day.

Abby Cox, the main character in my Trail’s End novella in “The Cowboys” collection, runs a restaurant in Abilene, Kansas, in 1870. Wade Chadwick, a Texas cowboy, takes a temporary job in her kitchen, freeing Abby to cook for her guests. One dessert served in her diner is peach pie. Writing those scenes made me hungry for the delicious dessert!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.

Trail’s End by Sandra Merville Hart

Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.

Amazon

Civil War Women: Maria Lewis, Former Slave and Union Soldier

Born around 1846, Maria Lewis lived with her family as slaves in Albemarle County, Virginia. When the 8th New York Cavalry came to the area during the Civil War in October of 1863, she disguised herself as a darkly-tanned white man and joined Company C of that regiment.

Maria mustered in as George Harris, who was a hero in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Harris escaped slavery by posing as a Spanish gentleman.

Her first intentions were to remain a soldier long enough to travel North to freedom. Perhaps to her surprise, she discovered that she enjoyed army life. She skirmished, scouted, and fought with General Sheridan’s cavalry for the next eighteen months.

They burned houses and mills. They destroyed railroads and bridges.

On March 2, 1865, Maria rode with the cavalry at Waynesboro, Virginia, where five hundred of Confederate General Jubal Early’s soldiers were captured. The 8th New York seized seventeen battle flags before burning a section of the Shenandoah Valley.

Maria was part of the honor guard who presented the captured flags to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The soldiers were granted a month’s furlough.

From there Maria went to the family of 2nd Lieutenant Lewis V. Griffin, a comrade from her regiment. She introduced herself as George Harris to his sister, Julia Wilbur, and then confessed her true identity. She wanted to return to “womanly ways & occupations.”

Though surprised to meet a black woman who served as a Union cavalry soldier, Julia wrote in her diary that she helped Maria as she had helped many other freed slaves. Making plans to find her a job, Julia gave her a chemise, petticoat, and hoops.

Julia first wrote of meeting Maria on April 4, 1865. The last time she mentions her is an entry on Sunday, April 23rd. Her sister was giving Maria a lesson, possibly teaching her to read and write.

In my Civil War novel, A Musket in My Hands, two sister have no choice but to disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864—just in time for events and long marches to lead them to the tragic Battle of Franklin.

-Sandra Merville Hart

 

Sources

Cordell, M.R. Courageous Women of the Civil War, Chicago Review Press, 2016.

“Maria Lewis (soldier),” Wikipedia, 2019/04/26 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Lewis_(soldier).

Monson, Marianne. Women of the Blue & Gray, Thorndike Press, 2018.

Zeinert, Karen. Those Courageous Women of the Civil War, The Millbrook Press, 1998.

 

A Magnolia Blooms in Winter by Ane Mulligan

A Southern Season: Four Stories from a Front Porch Swing

A call from her mother sends Morgan James back home to her small Georgia town. She’s needed to direct the Christmas play that she wrote. She can wait there to hear from her agent about a part in an Off-Broadway play.

Andy Wayfield, the man she left behind to pursue an acting career, is now worship pastor at Morgan’s old church. He adopted his niece after her parents’ deaths and seems to still have feelings for Morgan.

Yet Morgan left dreams of marrying Andy behind her years ago. Or did she?

Lovable characters invited me into the story and had me pulling for them the whole way. I enjoyed this novella.

I love this author’s sense of humor that often ends up as part of her stories. I’ll look for more by this author.

I’ve loved this whole collection. Recommend!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Amazon

 

The Western Chuckwagon

By Jennifer Uhlarik

Today’s article is from talented author and friend, Jennifer Uhlarik. Jennifer and I have both written a novella in the Smitten collection “The Cowboys.” I’m currently reading Jennifer’s story, Becoming Brave, and it’s a page turner! Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Jennifer!

One of the iconic images of the Old West was the cattle drive—cowhands driving a herd of cattle across a thousand miles to the railroad. The work was hot, dirty, and exhausting. The cattle owner wanted to keep his crew healthy and happy on the trail in order to protect the herd, so he promised good pay once the herd was sold, and even better, good food along the way!

In order to feed the crew of ten to twenty men, the outfit’s cook drove a chuckwagon—a mobile kitchen—along with the herd. The chuckwagon was a fairly simple covered wagon with several upgrades. The “chuck box” was a wooden cabinet bolted to the back of the wagon. It had drawers and shelves to hold ingredients, spices, small utensils, and its flat cover folded down to create a workspace for the cook. Beneath the chuck box, a “boot” held the larger items like the cast iron dutch oven and other pieces. A canvas tarpaulin slung under the wagon was called the “possum belly” and held their fuel, typically wood or cow chips, collected along the trail.

The interior of the chuckwagon carried all the staples—bags of flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, beans, rice, cornmeal, sourdough, coffee, and syrup. The main meat for meals was beef, though the cowboys would hunt and fish to add variety to their stores. And, of course, sowbelly—a type of salt pork. This was of utmost importance, since everything the cook made was fried in bacon grease.

Most every meal would involve a steak—quickly seared in the fire to seal in the juices, then cooked through more slowly. Add to that beans cooked in a variety of ways, biscuits, stewed fruit or a fruit pie, and coffee to wash it all down. While the meals might not be fancy, they were hearty and filling, and after long hours in the saddle eating trail dust, the men were thankful for the simple yet tasty meals.

The chuckwagon played a very important role in my latest release—Becoming Brave, one of the novellas in The Cowboys. In the story, a young cowhand, Coy Whittaker, stumbles upon the lone survivor of a terrible attack, Aimee Kaplan, and takes her in. He must find a way to transport the poor girl through Indian Territory to safety, all while he and his friends get his boss’s herd to market. Since riding horseback among the cattle was so hot, dusty, and dangerous, Aimee ends up riding in the chuckwagon with the cook much of the way. It was a lot of fun to incorporate a bit about this important part of every cattle drive into the story!

 

About Jennifer:

After Jennifer Uhlarik raided her big brother’s bookshelf and swiped the only “horse” book she found—a novel by Louis L’Amour, she fell madly in love with the Old West. Soon, she began penning her own stories of daring pioneers who tamed the land. Despite living in the flatlands of West-Central Florida, she continues to write her award-winning, best-selling western fiction with the support of her husband and kids (both the two- and four-legged varieties).

Cover Blurb:

The Cowboys

Taming the west—one heart at a time.

A 4-in-1 novella collection of western romances, including stories from award-winning authors Sandra Merville Hart, Cindy Ervin Huff, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Linda Yezak.

Becoming Brave by Jennifer Uhlarik
When Coy Whittaker stumbles upon a grisly scene littered with bodies, he wants nothing more than to get his boss’s cattle out of Indian Territory. But when a bloodstained Aimee Kaplan draws down on him, his plans—and his heart—screech to a halt.

Amazon

 

Civil War Women: Bettie Duvall, Confederate Spy

Washington D.C. resident Rose O’Neal Greenhow had been asked to discover troop movements and battle plans. She had information that Union troops had been ordered to attack Manassas. As a Confederate spy, she had a network of folks to deliver the coded message to Confederate General Beauregard. She gave the information to sixteen-year-old Bettie Duvall. (One source spelled her name “Betty.”)

On July 9, 1861, Bettie, a beautiful Southerner, disguised herself by selling buttermilk and sweet cream at the city market. She left the city, alone, on a farm cart. She rode past the 1st Massachusetts Infantry headquarters. A dirt lane led her to a friend’s plantation near Langley where she stayed for the night.

The next morning, she relinquished the farm cart. Dressed in a stylish riding habit, Bettie rode horseback to her intended destination—the village of Fairfax Court House. Manassas was ten miles from the village.

She met Confederate soldiers at an outpost near Vienna. At her request to speak with Brig. Gen. Milledge Bonham, they took her to his headquarters in Fairfax Court House. Beauregard had just taken over command, but Bonham was his top aide.

At first, Bonham refused to meet her. Upon learning that the beautiful woman was prepared to take the message to General Beauregard herself, he agreed to talk with her.

He recognized her “sparkling blue eyes, perfect features, glossy black hair” as a Southern lady from the spectator gallery at Congress. He agreed to forward on her message.

To his astonishment, she removed the combs from her hair knot. Shaking her beautiful hair loose, she untied a small silk package about the size of a silver dollar from the long strands and gave it to him.

Beauregard learned from the message that an attack was ordered within a week.

The advance warning led to a Confederate victory at the First Battle of Bull Run.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

Monson, Marianne. Women of the Blue & Gray, Thorndike Press, 2018.

Winkler, H. Donald. Stealing Secrets, Cumberland House, 2010.

Zeinert, Karen. Those Courageous Women of the Civil War, The Millbrook Press, 1998.