Saturday, September 9, 2017

Pingree's Potato Patches

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, I shared about the "Old West manners." If you missed that post, you can read it here:

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Pingree's Potato Patches

This month, I'm going back to highlight one of my older books from a 3-book series set in historical Detroit during the Industrial Revolution. The effects of this boom in industry took a little longer to reach the ranches and undeveloped wide, open land of the West, but they weren't without their needs that the industry offered. The general stores of those western towns relied on the railroad industry as well as the major cities and the production of items the trains brought to them so they could sell the treasures to folks living nearby.

As I researched details for book 2 in this series (entitled Hearts and Harvest released in September 2009), I came across newsworthy events such as the Pullman Strike in Chicago in the summer of 1894 which about shut down all transportation west of that city. You can bet the western towns felt the effects when they couldn't get their standard shipments of goods and materials because the trains weren't running.

Another major component of this recent book is spotlighting the Pingree Potato Patches which were established following the economic recession that occurred in 1893. Overinvestment in railroad development led to widespread bank failures and the eventual closing up shop of several prominent business or industries. Places such as cookstove companies, railcar industries and shoe factories all had to close their doors when they could no longer afford to stay open.

The major cities were hit the hardest, but once the effects trickled outward toward the western territories or states, the folks living in those towns suffered as well. Mayor Pingree of Detroit was the first man to settle on public works as a means of recovering from the financial crisis. Instead of allowing those who suffered to be left to their own devices, the mayor sought out donations of land from investors who had purchased the plots, hoping for a rise in value. The land was then converted into vegetable farms, with potatoes being the prime crop grown. Those who worked the plots would be able to feed their families and provide the surplus to the city to replenish the stores and help rebuild the economy.

The idea held widespread appeal, and soon other cities both in the US and Europe adopted similar plans to help dig themselves out of the financial pits. The recession and potato farming lasted until 1896, but as early as 1894, produce again could be shipped all around the country and folks were ready to face the dawning a new century.

And that's not all. Despite some of the rough-and-tumble sorts who frequented saloons or seemed to populate those typical western towns, there also existed a more genteel lot. And many of them had begun in the major cities before moving west. Many of them even maintained their annual trips back to the big cities like Detroit on their way to places like Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel between the upper and lower Michigan peninsulas. The resort island was a hot spot for the high-society folks who wore bustles instead of spurs as their everyday clothing. :)

Today (with the lack of automobiles and transportation being limited to horses, carriages, bicycles or on foot), the island represents a harkening back to a simpler time....much the same way westerns take us back to the age of westward expansion and the pioneering souls who helped pave the way to the world in which we live today.


* What would YOU do if you all of a sudden found yourself with nothing after having lived an affluent lifestyle?

* Would you be willing to give up land for those who had lost everything and see those same people farm on that land? Would you be willing to work alongside them?

* What vacations does YOUR family take or what traditions do you have that you do each year?

* What is 1 fascinating fact about today's post which caught your eye today?


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an author and speaker who works in the anti-aging, health & wellness, and personal development industry, helping others become their best from the inside out.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and a Retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold twenty (21) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to think that I would be happy in whatever state I find myself. We've not ever been wealthy but we've almost always had enough. Well, actually ALWAYS, because we're still alive and well!!! And if I had land I would share it if the circumstances dictated that. Thanks for the post!