DevoKids post – Colorado, the Centennial State

When gold was discovered at Cherry Creek, it sparked the Gold Rush of 1858. This location is better known by another name. Do you know what it is?  Click here to find out if you guessed correctly.


Conestoga Wagons

The first major highway built by the United States federal government was the National Road. Construction began in 1811 on the road also known as the Cumberland Road because it began in Cumberland, Maryland. By August 1, 1818, the road reached to Wheeling at the Ohio River. (Wheeling was then in Virginia but is now part of West Virginia.)

Settlers moving westward quickly utilized the road through Pennsylvania and Virginia to the new state of Ohio. Their wagons toted all their worldly goods to a new land.

Conestoga wagons were first built by Mennonite Germans near the Conestoga River area of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the early to mid-eighteenth century. Skilled craftsman created a unique curved bed, designed to prevent freight from shifting while climbing steep hills. Chains held the back gate in place while traveling.

Early wagon covers were hempen homespun. Canvas was used later. They soaked the canvas in linseed oil to waterproof the fabric. This covering was stretched over several wooden hoops.

The builders took great pride in their work. They painted the wagons blue, trimmed with red.

Built with broad wheels, four to six horses pulled five-ton loads over dangerous Pennsylvania roads. Conestoga wagons hauled products from the eastern states to settlers in Western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley and returned with frontier goods like flour, tobacco, coal, and whiskey.

Strong Conestoga horses bred in the Conestoga area of Pennsylvania could pull these loads about twelve miles per day.

Wagoners made their living by hauling freight from the east to the western frontier and back again. These colorful characters made a journey of 250 miles in about three weeks.

Drivers of Conestoga wagons didn’t sit on a bench and hold the horses’ reins. Wagoners rode the left rear horse or walked alongside the horses. When the wagoner tired of walking, he pulled out a lazy board—a wooden board attached to the side of the wagon—and sat on it.

Railroads had slowed the heavy traffic on the National Road by the 1850s. Conestoga wagons were no longer in demand. Wagoners found new ways to make a living.

But what stories they had to tell to their children and grandchildren.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Conestoga Wagon,”, 2017/04/19

“Conestoga Wagon,” Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 2017/04/19

“Conestoga wagon.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (April 18, 2017).

Edited by Raitz, Karl. A Guide to The National Road, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

“National Road,” Wikipedia, 2017/04/20

White, Roger B. “Covered Wagons and the American Frontier,” Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 2017/04/19

Do You Know What I Know? by Becky Melby

Two women with the same name share the same OB/Gyn.

Bethany Schmidt is a single mother in a new relationship with her pastor, Jay Davidson. Bethany is falling in love with Jay but needs to decide whether to accept a new job in another city. She also has a secret to share before the dating relationship grows serious. Will Jay understand?

Elizabeth Schmidt can’t believe it. After all these years, she’s pregnant! At forty-one, she and her husband, James, have given up on having children. She arranges for her doctor’s office to call James with the surprising news.

The call goes to the wrong number.

This begins a whirlwind of misunderstandings for both couples that escalate as Christmas approaches.

I enjoyed reading the twists and turns that all began with one wrong number.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Tyrell’s Special Hot Chocolate Recipe

Today’s post is written by talented author and dear friend, Carole Brown. I’ve enjoyed reading her cozy mysteries and can’t wait to read this one!

I love a man who cooks!

No matter whether it’s from the past (historical) or present day, there’s something manly and mannerly about that person. Western men usually knew how to prepare the basics: just enough to keep him alive, at least. In the military, many service people know that being able to cook is a necessity and at times a life saver. Today, I know many men who cook and enjoy it.

In writing With Music in Their Hearts, giving my male protagonist the ability to cook foods like scrambled eggs and hot chocolate would be an intimate detail about him that branched the difference in the way Tyrell and Emma Jaine were brought up and also set up a cozy setting for the fun action in the scene. When they come in from being outside, Tyrell offers to make hot chocolate for them.

Tyrell’s Special Hot Chocolate Recipe

1 large cup milk or water

1 Tablespoon of honey

1 Tablespoon of dark syrup, such as maple syrup

A pinch of salt

4-9 chocolate kisses (or about the same size of chocolate bits)

Optional: a dab of peppermint or stir with a peppermint stick

Pour chocolate drink in cup after heating on low fire.


-Carole Brown

About Carole Brown

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with Carole on her personal blog.

With Music in Their Hearts Blurb:

Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country and searches for a murdering spy at the boarding house red-haired  Emma Jaine Rayner runs. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?




President Washington Ends the Whiskey Rebellion

George Washington became the first President of the United States in 1789 to a nation in debt from the Revolutionary War. Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of Treasury, proposed the first national internal revenue tax to reduce the national debt. Congress passed a tax on distilled spirits in 1791.

Frontier citizens living in Western Pennsylvania violently opposed the tax. Dangerous roads made it difficult for farmers to haul corn and rye to eastern markets. They often distilled their grain because it was easier to preserve and store.

The excise officers only accepted cash as payment, which was out of the ordinary for the time period. Many refused to pay the tax.

Others resorted to violence. They threatened excise officers, which was enough to make some leave. Other officers were tarred and feathered before deciding to leave.

President Washington issued an admonishment in 1792, hoping to resolve the matter peacefully. Instead the situation escalated.

In July of 1794, about 400 rebels burned the home of a regional tax collection supervisor near Pittsburgh.

Washington responded by leading 12,950 men in a militia force to Western Pennsylvania. Perhaps the former general enjoyed wearing full military dress once again.

The rebels had scattered when the forces reached Pittsburgh. Out of about 150 men tried for treason, only two men were found guilty. President Washington pardoned them.

This historic event marks the only time that a United States President directly commanded ground troops.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Kotowski, Peter. “Whiskey Rebellion,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 2017/04/18

Logsdon, Chris. “Wills Creek,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 2017/04/18

“Ten Facts about Washington’s Presidency,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 2017/04/18

“Whiskey Rebellion,” Encyclopeadia Britannica, Inc., 2017/04/18

“Whiskey Rebellion,” National Park Service, 2017/04/18


The Bounty Hunter’s Redemption by Janet Dean

Gnaw Bone’s resident seamstress, Carly Richards, isn’t exactly a grieving widow when her husband, Max, is killed by a bounty hunter. His verbal abuse and lately, physical abuse, prevented that. She’s finally prepared to run her seamstress shop to support her young son without fearing her husband’s return from his prolonged absences.

Then Nate Sergeant, the bounty hunter who killed Max, comes to Gnaw Bone. He claims that Max lost the deed to the seamstress shop in a poker game with Nate’s brother-in-law. Then Max killed him to get it back but couldn’t find the hidden deed.

That left Nate’s sister, Anna, as the rightful owner and Nate aimed to see she took over the shop.

Even if it meant taking Carly’s only means of supporting her son.

I enjoyed the twists and turns of this historical novel where an unlikely romance blossoms against all odds.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Three Ways to Develop Good Cooking Habits – Advice from Fannie Farmer

I recently ran across The Fannie Farmer Cookbook in an antique store. This book was originally published in 1896. Fannie Farmer’s name is still well-known today.

Fannie gave advice about cooking habits before giving any recipes in her cookbook. There may be some wisdom in that strategy. Here are three ways to develop good cooking habits that are still surprisingly relevant today.

Firstly, read the whole recipe before doing anything. This shows what you will do—think about the reasons why.  Preparation and/or baking times are included in most modern recipes; give yourself plenty of time to prevent becoming flustered.

When making a complete meal, decide what dishes can be prepared ahead of time—such as dessert. Consider your menu. What dish will take longest to prepare? This will help decide when preparations for the meal should begin. Study any unfamiliar recipes ahead of time.

Secondly, think about the season of the year when planning meals. Produce and meat are at their flavorful peak when fresh. Shop at the market for ingredients that are in season or “on special.” Don’t get your heart set on a particular recipe before finding what’s available at the grocery store. Fresh products make more flavorful dishes, so learn to be flexible.

Thirdly, don’t scorn leftovers. Instead, use your imagination to make a new dish.

Fannie advises deliberately preparing twice the amount of meat required to feed your family. She used the example of pot roast. If there is a bone, use it to prepare soup another day along with leftover vegetables and a bit of the gravy.

Take a portion of the leftover pot roast the following day and ground it to make stuffed green peppers or stuffed eggplant. There should be enough to make a beef noodle casserole as well.

Don’t neglect to save the vegetables, sauce, and rice from meals. These ingredients may be used in omelets, salads, soups, and baked dishes. Be creative.

Great advice from the creative Fannie Farmer on developing great cooking habits!

-Sandra Merville Hart


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




Happy Easter!

Matthew 28:1-10 (New International Version)

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.



Civil War Bugle Calls

Commands were often given musically during the Civil War. That is to say, by bugle or drum. A general’s voice only carried so far—especially over the din of battle. Soldiers soon learned specific bugle tunes signified that it was time to get up in the morning, for example.

John D. Billings, Union soldier, wrote about a typical day in camp in Hardtack & Coffee.

The first bugle call of the day was “Assembly of Buglers.” It came around 5 am in the summer and 6 am in the winter. Men knew it was time to roll out of their blankets. This unwelcome song always brought grumbling.

“Assembly” came fifteen minutes later. Unless ill or on guard duty, every enlisted man had to be present for his company’s roll call.

When everyone finally stood in line, the bugler played “Reveille.” Soldiers made up words to this song:

       I can’t get ’em up, I can’t get ’em up,

       I can’t get ’em up this morning;

       I can’t get ’em up, I can’t get ’em up,

       I can’t get ’em up today.

After this, “Stable Call” was played. Company drivers went to the picket ropes where they fed and groomed their horses.

“Breakfast Call” came next. Soldiers prepared and ate their breakfast or ate rations provided at the company cookhouse.

“Sick Call” sounded at 8 am. Men who were sick and required medicine proceeded to the surgeon’s tent. Quinine was given for many ailments including headache, stomachache, toothache, coughing, lameness, fever, and ague.

Next came the “Watering Call,” where cavalry and drivers watered their horses and mules. To learn more about the difficulties of watering thousands of animals, click here.

Soldiers cleaned camp, gathered wood and water, built stables, buried horses, and washed gun carriages for “Fatigue Call.”

Next, drum or bugle brought the “Drill Call” where men practiced artillery and other skills. This was practiced much more earlier in the war.

Cannoneers and drivers responded to “Boots and Saddles” as a battery drill.

“Dinner Call” sounded at noon.

Buglers played “Water Call” around 4 pm.

“Stable Call” was blown as a reminder to return horses to the stable.

“Attention” was blown at 5:45 pm, followed by “Assembly” where the soldiers fell in for “Retreat” roll call.

“Assembly of Guard” called soldiers to guard duty. A brass band or fife-and-drum-corps usually followed.

The bugler played “Attention” at 8:30 pm and then “Assembly.” Companies formed lines for the day’s final roll call, “Tattoo.”

Men then had thirty minutes to get ready for bed at 9 pm when “Taps” was played. A drummer then played to end the day.

Follow this link if you’d like to listen to a few of these.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Billings, John D. Hardtack & Coffee, University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Villanueva, Jari. “Civil War Bugles Calls,” www/, 2017/03/15

Villanueva, Jari. “Twenty Bugles Calls,” United States Air Force Band, 2017/03/14