Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hard Times in the Neighborhood...

Hard times are a part of life. We endure family difficulties, financial hardships, emotional and spiritual dry times—we all have rough periods in life. But from 1929 to 1939, a particularly hard era fell over the United States that effected almost all Americans. This was the time of the Great Depression.

During the 1920’s, leading up to the Great Depression, the economy in the United States more than doubled. The U.S. went through a time of abundant expansion and prosperity, thus the term “the roaring twenties”. During this period, the stock market became the “gold rush” of the new century as everyone from the super-rich to the average working Joe invested in the market with the hope of multiplying their money without lifting a finger to do so. Unfortunately, it was too much too fast and the foundation of the economy—our working class, began to slow down. Eventually, an unbalanced economy led to the great stock market crash of 1929.

Following the market crash, the average American spiraled into
Great depression food line
economic hardship, and by 1932 over twenty percent of the U.S. population was unemployed. Many lost their homes and were forced to live in shantytowns, each cynically named Hooverville after the hugely unpopular president (President Herbert Hoover) blamed for the depression. Others became masters of frugality. Learning to save on electricity, food, fuel, and living expenses in general.

One way the typical, non-working housewife could help save a few dollars for her family was to create new recipes using common, less expensive items. These new dishes had fewer ingredients and were filling and nutritious. Even the 1932, newly elected President Roosevelt’s Whitehouse participated in frugal meals.

Though my parents were born long after the depression, many of the meals they prepare for us had roots in the depression era. One is a simple but favorite meal in my youth.

Fried potatoes and hotdogs. Also called The Poor Man’s Meal

Peel and slice thin, four russet potatoes.
Peel and slice thin, one yellow onion.
Slice six hotdogs into coin style pieces.

Fry potatoes and onions in oil until browned. Add hot dogs and cook until desired doneness. Serves four. (My dad would add a couple eggs to this mixture for a breakfast treat.)

Hotdogs were a cheap meat product and widely used in the 1930’s. This meal would feed a family for pennies.

We also often ate creamed peas. I’ve learned that during the depression this dish was served over toast for a lunchtime meal.

Creamed Peas                  

Heat one can of peas (including liquid) until hot but not boiling. Add two to four tablespoons of flour and stir until thick. Serves over toast or as a side dish. Serves four.

Plum pudding was served in the Whitehouse during FDR’s terms. Here is a recipe from my Grandma Whitham.

Plum Pudding
Pit and chop about a half pound of prunes. Place them in a sauce pan and cover (about an inch over) with water. Cover and bring prunes and water to a boil. Add about a half cup of sugar and a half teaspoon of cinnamon. Then gently simmer the mixture for about thirty minutes or until prunes are soft. Remove from heat. Lastly, mix three tablespoons of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water and add to slightly cooled prune mixture. Return to low heat for five minutes or until desired thickness is obtained. Eat warm or refrigerate to cool. Serves four.

People have a way for making due when times get tough and some of those habits die hard. In my case, the recipes shared here survived three generations and will probably go on to the fourth.

Do you have any family meals that have been handed down from generation to generation? Would you share them in the comments?

Thank you for joining me here at Heroes, Heroines and History today. Have a wonderful blessed month until we meet again.


Multi award-winning author, Michele K. Morris’s love for historical fiction began when she first read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. She grew up riding horses and spending her free time in the woods of mid-Michigan. Michele loves to hear from readers on Facebook, Twitter, and here through the group blog, Heroes, Heroines, and History at

Michele is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Butter on Your Bread

Growing up, I can remember that looking for the butter at Grandma’s house could be tricky. She saved every butter tub ever emptied and used them as leftover containers. The butter containers filled the fridge and no one knew which one actually had butter in it! Only butter was good enough for her crusty homemade bread, never margarine, but that’s another blog. Grandma didn’t make her own butter any longer, though she certainly did so in the past.
    Wondering who actually thought to “churn” butter from milk, I came across the probable story of how butter was invented. Rumor has it a nomad made the first batch by accident. After tying a sheepskin bag of milk to his horse and jostling it with a day of riding, he noticed the transformation. Churned milk fat solidifies into something wonderful.
    By the Middle Ages, Europeans were hooked on this delicious accompaniment to their daily bread. It was popular among peasants as a cheap source of nourishment and prized by nobility for the richness it added to cooked meats and vegetables. Until the 1600s, butter-eating was banned during Lent. However, butter proved so necessary to cooking that the wealthy often paid the Church a hefty tithe for permission to eat the fat during the month of self-denial. Demand for this perk was so high that in Rouen, in northwestern France, the Cathedral’s Tour de Beurre — or Butter Tower — was financed and built with such tithes.
    In Ireland, butter was so important to the economy that merchants opened a Butter Exchange in Cork to help regulate the trade. Today, barrels of ancient Irish butter, traditionally buried in bogs for aging, are among the most common archeological finds in the Emerald Isle.
Butter came to America with the colonists as did a delicacy called Fairy Butter, a sweet dessert sauce. Here’s the recipe: If you’re wondering Orange flower water is made by crushing orange blossoms into a paste and combining it with water. Let it sit for a few weeks then strain out the blossoms. It is said that Fairy Butter was a favorite of George Washington and often served at Mount Vernon.
   Every pioneer woman with a milk cow in the barn, had a butter churn, or at a very least a mason jar with a tight lid, in order to put butter on her table.
Churning the butter took time and effort, a task often relegated to the children in the family, or in some cases, even a dog or goat, if they had one of these contraptions.
Dog powered butter churn

    What the cow eats influences the color of the butter. In winter with the absence of greens for the cattle, butter would often be white, while springtime butter was more likely to be shades of yellow. Remember in Little House in the Big Woods, Ma wanted her butter to be pretty so she boiled a grated carrot with a little milk, turning it bright orange, then added this strained milk to her butter churn. It not only made the butter yellow, but provided a treat for Mary and Laura who loved to eat the milky pieces of boiled carrot strained from the pot.
Homemade Butter
Try making butter today at home. It’s a great learning opportunity for kids. Pour heavy cream into a mason jar, filling it half-way. Screw the lid on tight and shake the jar for approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove the solids from the jar and spread it on a piece of bread. Simple, huh?

Scribbling in notebooks has been a habit of Cindy Regnier since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Born and raised in Kansas, she writes stories of historical Kansas, especially the Flint Hills area where she spent much of her childhood. Cindy is married to her husband of 37 years, has two grown sons, a son residing in heaven, and two beautiful daughters-in-law.

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Orphan Train Movement—and a Giveaway

I was less than ten years old when I first learned about the Orphan Train Movement of the mid-1800s to early 1900s, but it was many years into my adulthood before I dug into the true history behind it. Have you heard of Orphan Trains? If not, here’s a little about them.

Charles Loring Brace
In the early 1850s, there were many children living on the streets of large cities like New York. Orphaned children. Abandoned or abused children. Kids forced to beg, steal, prostitute themselves, or join gangs to survive. One man, Charles Loring Brace, saw the sheer numbers and took compassion upon them. With the backing of other philanthropists and businessmen, this Yale graduate opened the Children’s Aid Society to take in and house these poor souls. However, Brace was not an advocate of simply housing these children in orphanages until they became adults. Rather, he wanted to make them productive members of society through hard work, education, and family. So, he took in as many children as he was able into his Children’s Aid Society with the plan to find them homes out west.

Why out west, you ask? Brace was of the belief that relegating a child to institutional life would stunt their growth, both physically and mentally, and destroy the children. To combat this, they needed wide open spaces, lots of fresh air, and old-fashioned hard work. Where better to find that recipe than in the western portions of the United States, where space was readily available and there were farms and ranches needing able bodies to succeed. So, in October of 1854, the first group of 45 orphans was placed on a train from New York, heading to Michigan. One lone adult accompanied the children on the days-long train ride, and once they’d arrived, he pointed out to those who’d gathered how strong and sturdy the boys were, and how the girls would be quite capable of handling any housework necessary. Within just a couple of days, all but eight of the children had been taken in by families. Those that remained were sent on to Iowa City where an orphanage administrator took them in with the plan to quickly find foster homes for them. The first Orphan Train was such a success that more were planned.
In order for this plan to work, each community would set up a committee of prominent members—pastors, lawmen, business owners, and the like—to screen the prospective adopters. Ahead of the train’s arrival, handbills would be printed and distributed, foretelling of the coming Orphan Trains. At the appointed time, the train would arrive, and the children—having been properly groomed and wearing their best clothes—would be taken to the chosen meeting place. There, they would be lined up from oldest to youngest and would introduce themselves. Families who’d been given approval to taken in children could then meet and select which ones they wished to take home.

Full-fledged adoption was not required, but prospective families were told they must treat the orphans they fostered as if they were their own children. They were to provide food, clothing, education, and $100 upon the orphan’s twenty-first birthday. In exchange for the food, shelter, and education, each orphan was expected to help with chores and/or farm work, just like a natural child of the family would. 
As you might expect, not everything went smoothly with the plan. The children, many who were naïve to what was happening, experienced a range of emotions once they realized the truth of this situation. Some were overjoyed at the chance of having a family of their own. Others, who’d left their birth families behind, were incensed at the idea they were now expected to be part of a new home and family. Some children were adopted into homes where they were doted on and even spoiled, but just as often, children found themselves in abusive or unbearable homes where they were treated as anything but a true family member. In the latter cases, many of those children either returned to the Children’s Aid Society, or more often, ran away to fend for themselves. Often, in the case of older children (those of about 14 years and up), they felt they were close enough to adulthood that they didn’t need or want to be adopted. And the families considering them feared many would be too set in their bad habits to be redeemed and fully brought into their family.

In addition to these difficulties, the Orphan Train Movement faced much backlash from various groups. Before the outlaw of slavery during the Civil War, abolitionist organizations felt this program was just another form of slavery. At the same time, pro-slavery supporters felt that these orphan trains would undermine the slave trade by giving free labor to those farmers who needed it. There was even backlash from the Catholic population who feared that the Irish Catholic children (who were a large segment of the orphans being shipped west) would be forced to give up their Catholic beliefs when they were taken in by Protestant families in their new communities. 

Despite the difficulties, the Orphan Train movement thrived. Yes, there were
hardships for the children being “placed out” with new families, but by and large, they were given new homes, their physical needs were met, and a huge percentage went on to successful lives. The program eventually waned for a variety of reasons, like new laws and programs to better protect children and help struggling families…as well as the settlement of the Western Frontier. But between 1854 and 1929, some 200,000 children were given new opportunities at life, thanks to the vision of Charles Loring Brace and his Orphan Trains.

It’s Your Turn: Have you heard of the Orphan Train Movement before? If you had lived in the years when orphan trains operated, would you have considered fostering or adopting a child? Why or why not? Leave your answer to these questions with your email address, and you’ll be included in the drawing for a copy of my newest novella collection, The Blacksmith Brides

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.


Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress

Despite the determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero. On the journey to California, the deed to Mattie’s hopes and dreams is stolen. Elizabeth has been saddled with too many responsibilities at the family mercantile. Unexpectedly married, Sofia is ill-prepared for a husband and the society she is thrust into. When her sister is accosted, Aileen will do almost anything to support her. Accepting help isn’t easy when these women don’t want to show weakness, but it is more appealing when it comes with a handsome face.

Stories by Amanda Barratt, Gabrielle Meyer, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y’Barbo.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Jigsaw Puzzles and why we need them NOW!

Recently, I put together a jigsaw puzzle—a first for me.  It turns out it’s a first for a lot of us stuck-at-homers.  According to the president of Ceaco, one of the largest jigsaw puzzle companies, sales have surged more than 300% compared to a year ago. Another company ran out of an eight month supply in five days.
Puzzles were deemed non-essential, forcing factories to close, and this has created a shortage. The "non-essential" part might get an argument from some mental health experts. Not only does working jig-saw puzzles relieve stress, it also improves memory and overall brain function.    
Margaret's current challenge
That's not all; I can personally attest that searching for the piece with the cat’s tail or chimney top requires concentration, and is a great way to take one’s mind off the pandemic.
Of course there's nothing new about any of this. Jigsaw puzzles have been around since 1767.  English cartographer, John Spilsbury is said to have made the first jigsaw puzzle by mounting a map on a sheet of wood and cutting it with a saw.  He donated it to the local school to help students with their geography education.  His idea was a hit and jigsaw puzzles were on their way to becoming part of family life.
They weren’t called jigsaw puzzles in those early days. They were called “dissected puzzles” or “dissections”.  The word “jigsaw” didn’t come into play until 1909 when the jigsaw was invented and used to cut pieces.
Not every piece interlocked. Most manufacturers added tabs and blanks to border pieces to establish the frame. Inside pieces were cut along simpler, curved lines.

Since the puzzles were made of wood, they were mainly the pastime of the wealthy. This changed during the Great Depression when cardboard puzzles began to appear, making them more affordable.  Some manufacturers, however, were reluctant to switch from wood. Labor costs were similar and so wood puzzles offered higher returns. 

Another big change occurred in the 1930s. Photos were added to box covers for the first time. Up until then, it was considered cheating to know the picture before completing the puzzle.
The use of photos soon turned jigsaw puzzles into advertising tools. Train and ship companies found that jigsaw puzzles were a cheap way to promote travel destinations. Cunard created postcard jigsaw puzzles to sell as souvenirs and other companies soon followed. 

It's easy to understand why Jigsaw puzzles grow in popularity during pandemics, wars and depression.  Whenever the world falls apart, countless generations have found comfort in putting pieces together.  

That's probably something John Spilsbury never imagined when he came up with his simple idea all those centuries ago.

Have you or your family recently worked a jigsaw puzzle?  How did it help?

New this month!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Making of a College Cow Town

By Mary Davis

   Before there was a town, the Kittitas Valley, where Ellensburg is located, was important to the the native tribes who gathered in the area to harvest camas roots and sweet onions, to graze and race their horses, settle disputes, forge family ties, feast, and play games.
   In July 1848, Father Pandosy established the first non-native home in the Ellensburg area. It was a small structure to house a mission called Immaculate Conception on Manastash Creek. He hoped to bring Christianity to the natives. He served there until September of 1849.
   The Kittitas Valley was the scene of many cattle drives that went through the area, either heading north into Canada or over the Cascade Mountains toward Seattle.
   William Wilson came in 1867 and built a cabin on a creek which would bear his name, Wilson Creek. Wilson passed away due a disagreement over another man’s horse.

   Andrew Jackson Splawn, cowboy and future state senator, and Ben Burch in 1870, who hired Martin Davern to haul Wilson’s cabin to what is now the middle of Ellensburg to be the first store in the Kittitas Valley. That seems like a difficult task. I don’t know why they didn’t simply built a new structure. The tiny business was christened “Robber’s Roost”. Hmm? Would I trust a business with “robber” in its name?

   In 1871 John and Mary Ellen Shoudy left Seattle for the Kittitas Valley. Shoudy and his brother-in-law Dexter Horton, a banker, were among a group of Seattleites who wished to establish a wagon route through the Cascade Mountains. After the streets were platted in 1875, Shoudy named this budding new town Ellensburgh after his wife, Mary Ellen. You might not have noticed the final “h” on the town’s name. Apparently, the United States Post Office deemed it unnecessary and dropped it in 1894.

   In 1878, this young town could boast its first permanent physician, Dr. Middleton Amen. The first saloon came on the scene at that time as well. Close on the heels of medicine and booze, during the winter of 1881-1882, the first session of public school was held with William O. Ames as teacher.

   Ellensburg was becoming quite civilized and soon became the hub of traffic west, north, east, and south. It had location in its favor. The town’s growth accelerated in 1883 with the First National Bank of Ellensburg, the Ellensburg Hook and Ladder Company No 1, and being named the county seat for the newly established Kittitas County. Northern Pacific Railroad completed a depot in 1886.

   A fire engine such as this was no match for the blaze that swept through Ellensburg in 1889. Like with many town and cities destroyed by fire, it was decided to have brick buildings replace the destroyed ones.

   Ellensburg had been in the running to the state’s capital, but in the November 4, 1890 election, Olympia was chosen. That same year, the first telephone service arrived.

   The following year, the Washington State Normal School opened in a temporary borrowed building and moved to their own building in 1894. The name was changed to Central Washington College of Education in 1937, Central Washington State College in 1961, and finally Central Washington University in 1977.

   You might be wondering why I chose to give the history of this modest town in the middle of Washington State. I attended college there and love the town. So I loosely based my town, Kamola, in The QUILTING CIRCLE series on Ellensburg and named it after the dorm, Kamola, I lived in. I have not used all of these elements in my fictional town, but they might show up in future books.

COMING SOON!!! Book 3 in the Quilting Circle series  THE DAMSEL’S INTENT releasing June 1, 2020  #TheDamselsIntent

Can Nicole learn to be enough of a lady to snag the handsome rancher?

Nicole Waterby heads down the mountain to fetch herself a husband, not realizing women don’t wear trousers or carry a gun. She has a lot to learn. Rancher Shane Keegan has drifted from one location to another to find a place to belong. When Nicole crosses his path, he wonders if he can have love, but he soon realizes she’s destined for someone better than a saddle tramp. Will love stand a chance while both Nicole and Shane try to be people they’re not?

MARY DAVIS is a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over three dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her recent titles include; "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides CollectionThe PRODIGAL DAUGHTERS SeriesThe Widow’s Plight, “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides CollectionThe Daughter's Predicament, and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. Shes an ACFW member and critique groups. Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of thirty-four years and two cats. She has three adult children and two adorable grandchildren. Find her online:

Friday, May 22, 2020

Walking Over Two Thousand Miles

In the mid-1800s, Missouri counted among the states that formed the western boundary for our country. Many wagon trains were organized to go west from there.

Both Independence and Saint Joseph on the mighty Missouri River proved popular places to gather and let the settlers find a wagon train master they could trust.

Those traveling west had most likely scraped every penny together to buy their wagon and supplies. They’d acquired the oxen to pull it, and only lacked a leader.

Emigrants wanted to know the men organizing a wagon train had experience along with a good reputation for being wise, levelheaded, and on time. After all, they would be putting their very lives into the man’s hands.

As a woman. I have no doubt that the ladies who agreed to sell their home places and go on such a wild adventure and new beginning had not a clue they would be walking all the way to California or Oregon! I mean if my husband said we’d buy a covered wagon . . . wouldn’t that indicate I pretty much had a place and got to ride?

One would think so. But not the Truth of it. I’m guessing husbands failed to divulge that little piece of information—if they even knew themselves—until probably sometime during that first week.

All wagon owners knew the health and wellbeing of their animals were paramount. The beasts of burden had one purpose—to pull the wagons loaded with everything the pioneers figured they’d need for the journey and starting again in their new home.

I can hear it now.
“Sweetheart, I think it’d be best if you walked a while to save the animals from pulling the extra weight.”
“You want me to walk? To save the animals? All right then, honey. I’ll walk . . . for a WHILE.”

And if not to save the animals, many prairie roses chose to walk over bouncing across the rough terrain in those wagons with no springs or shocks to smooth out the bumpy ride. But whichever reason, over and again, day after day, week after week, and month after month, they walked.

Unless a person got sick and just couldn’t put one foot in front of another, all the sojourners—men, women, and children alike—ambled on foot from Missouri along the Oregon / California Trail to their destinations a little over two thousand miles away.

The hardy folks needed good shoes for all that walking! Those were mostly made of thick beef leather. Though women of society back East wore high heels made of delicate, colorful silk decorated with gold, silver, bows, and braids.

Their counterparts heading west in wagons wore a flat-heeled more substantial shoe that came up to cover and support her ankles.

Men on the Oregon Trail wore a thicker, tougher, taller boot.

An interesting fact I learned is prior to the mid-eighteen hundreds, shoes were formed on straight lasts—forms used to create the soles, called straights. These were all the same, no difference in the design for left or right foot, so they were uncomfortable.

Wearers often soaked their new shoes and wore them until dry to shape the leather to their feet. Others switched their shoes from one foot to another to reduce pain.

It was right about that time that the soles started being made specifically for the right or left feet, but as with any new inventions, those first few years, only the wealthy could afford those new-fangled fancy shoes that fit so much more comfortably! 

In LILAH, my May release, book five in the Prairie Roses Collection for Mother’s Day, my young heroine of the same name did just that, walking from Saint Jo all the way to the Pacific NorthWest, to Oregon then ever farther north.

The wagon train journey only fills about half the story as this tale follows more of the adventure after the families arrive!
It’s available now at Amazon:

Here's what one reviewer said: What a delightful novel this is! Caryl McAdoo has done it again, crafted a gripping tale of love and faith overcoming obstacles to grab the reader’s attention and keep them reading through to the very last page. This reviewer read it twice, it’s that good. –CW

I hope you’ll enjoy reading it and the two additional Prairie Roses titles, SUSAN by Patricia PacJac Carroll and KATE by Donna Schlachter.

Bio: Caryl McAdoo, praying her story gives God glory, loves God, her husband of fifty-plus years Ron, five sons and six daughters (birthed and in-loves), and nineteen grandsugars—then writing stories and singing the new songs God gives her. (Hear at YouTube.) Readers love her historical Christian romance family sagas with their characters who become like friends and family. She also writes contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville—seat of Red River County in Northeast Texas—waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.

Links: Amazon   BookBub   Website    Newsletter   YouTube (Hear Caryl sing her New Songs!)   Facebook