Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Allure of the Harvey Girls by Donna Schlachter -- with a Giveaway!

Welcome to Heroes, Heroines, and History. Read all the way through the post to find out how to leave a comment and be entered into a random drawing for a print copy (US only) of MissAdventure Brides Collection, which includes my story, Detours of the Heart.

The idea for the story came from research on the Harvey House. Created by Fred Harvey, Sr,
Fred Harvey Sr
as an alternative to the seedy hotels and restaurants springing up along America’s railroads in the 1870’s, the Harvey House restaurants filled a huge need: Until Mr. Harvey and his iconic restaurants came along, it was virtually impossible to get a decent meal anywhere along the tracks.

But beginning in 1876, the Harvey House chain of restaurants changed all that. Mr. Harvey hired professional chefs, and in the beginning, personally trained the front-of-house staff, including the servers, busboys, and managers.

Harvey Girl and Customer
Up until then, girls who worked in restaurants were but a half-step—morally, at least—above soiled doves. Or so folks thought. Mr. Harvey wanted to create a safe and clean place to eat for the passengers on the trains, so he hired only young, clean, unmarried girls, mostly between the ages of 18 and 30. They had to sign a year-long contract, couldn’t date or court, had to meet curfew, had to work hard, and had to demonstrate good moral character. Passengers were promised their meals in 30 minutes or less, because the train would stop to allow them to eat and had a schedule to keep. If a meal took longer than that, somebody had to answer directly to Mr. Harvey.

While doing research for the first book, I came across an interesting reference to Mr. Harvey’s love of all things Southwestern. In fact, he acquired one of the largest collections of early-19th-century native artifacts.

Squaw Blossom Necklace
As the years went past, Mr. Harvey added hotels to his business line, and soon added gift shops in these hotels. In the Southwest, he realized passengers were enthralled with the native American culture they saw evidence of but had no real contact with, so in the early 1920’s, he established the Southwestern Indian Detours. These tours provided a bus ride out to a local Indian reservation where they could meet with the natives, see them at work, and purchase their goods such as woven blankets, clay pots, leather goods, and jewelry. Eventually, he carried similar items in his gift shops for those who either didn’t or couldn’t take the tours. As with all things good, counterfeiting soon sprang up, which troubled Mr. Harvey greatly, as he saw that such a practice would devalue the culture as well as the products.

La Alvarado, Albuquerque, NM
The entire Harvey House culture spanned about 100 years of our country’s history, ending in the late 1960’s when passenger trains began including dining cars, negating the need for trains to stop for meals. There are still a few original buildings left standing which have now been repurposed, and
many museums criss-cross the states between Kansas and California.

Perhaps one of the most endearing facts about the Harvey House and its “Girls” is that many of them started working for Mr. Harvey in hopes of meeting a rich passenger from a train who would marry them and take them elsewhere. However, most ended up renewing their contracts many times. One of the longest-serving Harvey Girls worked for the company in excess of 25 years.

Giveaway: which do you prefer: history or mystery? Leave a comment to be entered into a random drawing for a print copy (US only) of the MissAdventure Brides Collection.

About Donna:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas and full-length novels. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Christian Authors Network, and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a critique group, and teaches writing classes. Donna ghostwrites, edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. She is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!



Books: Amazon: and Smashwords:

About MissAdventure Brides Collection: These seven daring damsels don’t let the norms of their eras hold them back from adventure.

About Detours of the Heart: A tour guide who wants to move on, a playboy who’s never had a place to call home—can they overcome their own plans and allow God to make their path straight, or will they take yet another detour?


  1. That was a great post! I had heard of the Harvey Girls before but I appreciate knowing more about them. As for your question, I can't say whether I like history over mystery, I love them both. I just like good, engaging stories!

  2. I would choose history over mystery almost every time.

  3. Thank you for sharing some wonderful information. I love reading about the Harvey Girls. Some fascinating stories about them. I love reading history. I love to learn about the men and women of the past and how they chose to make life better for others as well as themselves.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    1. There's so many fascinating men and women from the past to learn about and learn from. I'm glad you stopped by, Lori!

  4. I enjoy both but tend to read more historical than I do mystery and I really enjoy books involving the Harvey girls. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of this book, I have it on my wish list!

    wfnren at aol dot com

  5. Thank you for sharing your great post! I choose history over mystery.
    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  6. Hi Donna, I know this sounds wishy-washy but I love them both almost equally. I grew up loving Nancy Drew but as I've matured, I've started reading a lot of historical fiction. If I can find a historical suspense/mystery I am definitely hooked!
    Thanks for sharing about the Harvey House.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Connie. I appreciate you stopping by!

  7. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

    1. Sorry, don't know why that snafu'ed! Thank you, HHH, for hosting me today! As you all can see, this is one of my favorite topics.

  8. Thank you for this interesting post. I choose history over mystery and have always found the Harvey Girls fascinating. Thank you. teshawATsbcglobalDOTnet

  9. Interesting post, I had no idea the Harvey House's were around for so long!
    I definitely love historical fiction, more than mysteries...


  10. I enjoy reading about the Harvey Houses. I can across a postcard of a Harvey House that was less than ten miles from where I live. Who knew? I like a good mystery, but history comes first.

  11. I really enjoy both but prefer history, especially a historical mystery :). I have always been fascinated with the Harvey Girls. Thanks so much for the giveaway! bettimace at gmail dot com

  12. I like both and probably read them in equal amounts.

  13. I’m in book heaven with historical mystery!

  14. I had read about the Harvey girls but enjoyed learning more with your informative post.
    I've always enjoyed historical fiction and continue to read this genre; however, I like when an author adds a little mystery to the story, too. Blessings.
    The Miss America Brides Collection sound like a fun read.

  15. So glad you enjoyed my post. Good luck in the drawing, Marilyn!