Big Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited! My publisher is doing a big cover reveal today for SAVING THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE! This is Book #2 in the Outlaw Mail Order Brides series and this one releases on April 30, 2019.

This book features Jack Bowdre’s and Nora Kane’s love story. He’s Clay Colby’s friend in book #1, the one who didn’t get amnesty at the end, and was once a lawman. Nora Kane comes west to marry after writing Jack through Luke Legend’s private bride service. Sparks fly when they meet. This story definitely has more humor than the first one.

Note the light snow cover on the ground. They have to sleep on it. I just love the way he’s holding the girl and her expression that says she’s right where she wants to be. It’s romantic, but I’m sure they’re very cold. Brrrrr!

The back Cover:

He may be a wanted man, but all outlaw Jack Bowdre ever desired was a second chance. Now he’s on his way to jail, completely unaware that his unexpected—and unexpectedly beautiful—traveling companion is none other than Nora Kane…his mail order bride.

It’s too bad Nora doesn’t know Jack is her groom-to-be. All she sees is a scoundrel. But when their stagecoach crashes and the truth comes spilling out, they’re suddenly left to fend for themselves—and each other. The longer they’re together, the stronger their feelings grow. Hounded by desperate men bent on doing them harm, Nora and Jack will do whatever it takes to find their happily ever after…but first, they’ll have to shake the devil from their trail.

* * *

AMAZON  |  B&N   |

The print book is available for preorder and the ebook will be available very soon.

The 1893 World’s Fair

In 1893, Grover Cleveland began serving his second term as U.S. president, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murder of her parents, and the World’s Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago.

Three life size reproductions of Christopher Columbus’s ships were unveiled to celebrate the 400th year anniversary of his famous voyage. The popular dancer, Little Egypt, put on daily shows in her skimpy attire. And the first moving sidewalk made an appearance.

Several products and inventions made their debut at the Exposition. The first ferris wheel, Juicy Fruit gum, shredded wheat, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, and cream of wheat were on that list. But it was the introduction of the delectable brownie that stole the show.

It happened when Chicago socialite and philanthropist Bertha Palmer instructed the pastry chefs at her husband’s hotel, the Palmer House, to create a dessert that could fit inside the box lunches for ladies at the fair and that could be eaten without a mess. Thus, the humble chocolate brownie was born.

 

Fondness for the dessert quickly spread. And in 1896, Fannie Farmer included the brownie recipe in her Boston Cooking School Cook Book.

I can’t think of any dessert that’s more versatile. It can be made plain or with icing, with nuts, fruit bits, and any number of things, whatever strikes your fancy. The brownie became the trademark dessert of the Palmer House and is still served today.

Here is the original brownie recipe:

Chocolate Fudge Brownies from the Palmer House Hilton

  • 3 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups chopped walnut pieces

 

Glaze:

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoons apricot preserves

 

Preheat oven to 325 F. Melt chocolate and butter in a glass bowl set over simmering water. Sift together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Stir chocolate mixture into flour mixture. Whisk in eggs. Pour into a 12 x 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle walnuts on top, pressing slightly into batter. Bake 40 minutes, or until the edges become slightly crisp and the brownie has risen about ¼ inch. (Even when the brownie is properly baked, it will test gooey with a toothpick in the center.) Let cool 30 minutes. For glaze, combine water and preserves in a medium saucepan, whisking well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil 2 minutes. Using a pastry brush, pat glaze over brownies. Place brownies in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours. Remove and let stand 10 minutes and slice.

 

I tend to make the same kind—walnut brownies. I might get adventuresome though. I think an apricot glaze on these would be delicious. But then I love apricots. What kind of brownies are your favorite?

I’ll be traveling home today from Fort Worth’s famous Stockyards so I can’t answer comments until I get back. Next time I’ll have a lot of pictures and stories from my adventures with my sister, Jan.

Until next time……….

THE OUTLAW’S ARE COMING!

I’m so excited to launch a brand new series called Outlaw Mail Order Brides on January 29, 2019! The first book is The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride and it’s about Clay Colby and Tally Shannon from the Men of Legend series.

A town founded by outlaws…Women needing protection…Lives that need saving.

Isn’t this cover simply gorgeous? I just love it, and after you read it, you’ll see how significant the campfire is and them dancing.

This series bleeds over from the Men of Legend and you’ll see recurring characters. I just couldn’t say goodbye to those hunky Legend men. And maybe you were having a hard time too.

Luke Legend and his wife, Josie, have started a private mail order bride service for men and women living in the shadows but yearning to step out and have families. They’re tired of living on the run, listening for the sound of the bullet meant for them.

In most cases, they only took justice where they could find it. With no law to be had, men back then had to seek it for themselves. This is the case Clay finds himself in.

If you remember, you meet Tally Shannon in Book #1 Men of Legend – To Love a Texas Ranger. She was living with and protecting a group of escapees from the Creedmore Lunatic Asylum. I’ve received many letters asking if those women will ever be able to live outside Deliverance Canyon. My answer is yes. It happens in this book.

Clay Colby was a gunslinger and outlaw in Book #2 Men of Legend – The Heart of a Texas Cowboy. He was working for Houston Legend as head drover on their cattle drive. Clay yearns for a wife, a family. He’s tired and wants to go straight—if everyone will let him.

Here are some short excerpts but there’s more at this link:  https://www.lindabroday.com/books/outlaw-mail-order-brides/the-outlaws-mail-order-bride/

Clay stared helplessly at the destruction, his face hardening, as though his features were carved from stone. Tally thought maybe they were.“Montana Black took exception to my town and decided to burn it to the ground. We had a bit of a skirmish that ended with me shooting the outlaw. Badly wounded, he escaped on a spotted gray, vowing to burn down the town every time we rebuild. I just don’t know if I can make this happen.” 

She waited, listening and learning the man she’d soon marry. Her heart ached for him and she understood exactly how he felt. He couldn’t even look at her because he felt such a failure. If only she could slip her arm around him and offer a bit of comfort. But not yet.

She let her gaze take in Devil’s Crossing, the crude dwellings, the tent saloon. The creak of a windmill drew her gaze. She closed her eyes for a second, soaking up the scrape and grind of the rod going up and down as it pumped water from the earth. When she was young, she’d often fallen asleep, lulled by the sound of the windmill. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed that until now.

* *  *

Tally had been the protector of those escapees from Creedmore—she was everyone’s protector. Now she longed to be the protected one, to not have to lie awake listening.

Just for once, she wanted to know what being protected felt like.

Clay Colby appeared more than capable. But what sort of husband would he be? Domineering? An equal? She tried to see a bit of softness in him but failed. Tall and lean, he loomed over most, wearing a hardness like a shield that others carry into battle.

His strength appealed to her though. She didn’t like weak men. Muscles in his arms rippled and his torn shirt stretched tight across his broad chest and back. Naughty tingles danced up her spine. Soon she’d lie beside this man, this outlaw. Already, he seemed too rugged, too…hot. Yes, he seemed hotblooded. Powerful.

The urge to take a step back came over her but she tilted her chin and met his stare.

* * *

Tally followed Clay into his dugout. She liked the strong set of his jaw and broad shoulders that wouldn’t give under a heavy load.

The two-inch scar down his face and the Remington revolver swinging from his lean hip said he’d been through sheer hell and rode out the other side probably too many times to count. His dark hair that sported a few silver stands at the temples curled possessively over his collarless shirt like a gunslinger’s hand around his gun.

She shifted her glance to the earthen abode, not caring that it was dug into a hillside. She loved the scent of the raw land and the safety of the canyon. A stack of leather laid in a corner, pink and yellow flowers on the table added an unexpected homey feel.

This outlaw surprised her in a lot of ways.

* * *

Tally’s scared spitless about this undertaking, especially after escaping a mental institution. It really must’ve been terrifying to agree to marry a man sight unseen–especially when that person held your future in his hands. A lot of mail order brides were horribly abused but they stayed because there was nowhere else to go.

This book is available for preorder at these and other places: AMAZON | B&N | iBOOKS

Question: Would you have had the guts to marry someone without even seeing them first? To have faith that this person wouldn’t hurt you? And to have nothing, absolutely zero, to fall back on. It could be a trap that you couldn’t escape from.

Lawman “Bear River” Tom Smith

Sometimes a man casts such a huge shadow that it changes a town and the people who live there. Tom Smith was such a man.

His name is common but his deeds certainly were not. Tom was born June 12, 1840 in New York City. When he grew up, he took a job on the police force there until leaving in 1868 to work for the Union Pacific Railroad. His work took him west to Bear River, Wyoming. It was a rough temporary railroad town, a tent city for the most part for the railroad workers. As the railroad progressed, these towns picked up and moved along with it. But in Bear River, a few permanent buildings went up for those who decided to stay.

It was there where vigilantes hung a murderer who worked for the railroad. An angry mob of railroad workers confronted the group and an all-out war developed with citizens trapped in a log warehouse. In a blind rage, Tom Smith (appointed the city marshal) charged into the middle of the rail workers, emptying his twin pistols into them. He was shot multiple times but he kept on firing until 14 men lay dead. All shot up, Tom walked to the home of a friend where he collapsed near death.

(A picture of him compliments of Legends of America)

After a long recovery during which his reputation spread, Tom was contacted by the mayor of Abilene, Kansas which was one of the most lawless towns in the west. They’d already appointed man after man only to have them up and quit right away (one quit the same day he was hired.)  Tom decided to give it a try against a large number of heavily armed men fond of drinking.

The leader of the rowdy thugs was Big Hank. Tom ordered each of them to turn over their pistols. He was making Abilene gun-free. Big Hank replied that no one was big enough to make them.

Tom stepped up real close and knocked Hank backward with a large fist then took his pistols. Hank was dazed and those watching stood in amazement. Tom ordered the gang to rowdies to leave town and never return. They lost no time in doing so.

Some time passed and another man named Wyoming Frank, a cowboy on one of the ranches rode into town. Frank called Tom out into the street. But instead of facing off, Tom kept walking until he was nose to nose with Frank. He told him to hand over his weapon. Frank backed up, needing some room to draw but Tom moved with him. Again Frank backed up with the same results. Tom asked for his gun twice as was his custom. Finally, his big fist came out and two punches landed Wyoming Frank on the floor of the saloon where Tom had backed him.

He took Frank’s gun and gave him five minutes to leave town. Frank didn’t need all of the five. He got up and didn’t let his shirttail hit his back.

So Abilene adapted to the gun ordinance with little trouble, not even from the Texas drovers who came into town. Everyone got their guns back when they left town and Abilene became a safe place. The town elders raised Tom’s salary to a whopping $225 a month and the citizens took up a collection and bought him a pair of pearl handled revolvers.

Tom patrolled the town on horseback and occasionally those big fists came out. Trail hands learned that the signs meant what they said and that it paid not to mess with Tom Smith.

In the fall of that year, Tom resigned and took the job of a U.S. Deputy Marshal. He still lived in Abilene and everyone seemed glad because the new sheriff seemed to lack courage.

One day, a rancher’s cows got loose in a neighbor’s cornfield and shots were exchanged, killing the rancher. The new sheriff asked Tom Smith to go along to arrest the man. Shots were fired when they arrived and the sheriff ran off, leaving Tom to handle the situation. Tom was shot entering the dugout but he dragged the man out. Unfortunately, the man’s friend was waiting outside and killed Tom.

He was buried in Abilene’s town cemetery where he lies today. The two killers were apprehended, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to long prison sentences. The town returned to its lawless ways for a few years until Wild Bill Hickok arrived and became sheriff.

No man served with more distinction and Tom was long remembered as the man too tough to die.

Tell me what you think about Tom Smith. Is he hero material? 

Horseless Carriage Anyone?

We take the ease of driving for granted but it certainly wasn’t always that way. The automobile is so ingrained in our lives that we can’t remember a time when we rode horses to get places. The chaos of that time is fun to look back on when technology was ahead of the consumer.

In the 1900 there were 8,000 vehicles in the entire U.S and only 144 miles of paved roads.

Henry Ford founded Ford Motor Company in 1903 and set up shop in a converted wagon factory. That was the same year the Model A came out, but it was quickly abandoned until the 1920’s when it was reintroduced. I always get confused as to whether the Model A or the Model T was first, but the Model T didn’t arrive on the market until 1908. The Model T was affectionately called the Tin Lizzie and the Flivver. Henry Ford produced over 10,000 of these cars the first year. It was extremely popular and reliable. And while the Ford wasn’t the first vehicle to be built it was certainly the most widely driven car.

 

Various factors caused the car industry to begin slowly. Roads were little more than horse paths and difficult to navigate. There were no gas stations, no mechanics, and no road signs. If a car broke down, the owner would have to wait for a horse to come and pull him back into town and usually crude repairs were done by blacksmiths or bicycle shops. One site I found stated that a driver averaged at least one flat tire each outing. That must’ve been frustrating.

The first drive-in gas station in the U.S. was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1913. Before that, people had to keep their own gas at home.

In the beginning, the average speed limit was 12 mph in open country and 8 mph in town. That gradually changed and by 1930 the speed limit had increased to a whopping 30 mph.

One newspaper wrote: “They tore along the street at a lively rate, dodging people and teams.”

Too funny! What would they think about cars today that can go over 150 mph?

A Model T Ford

With the advent of vehicle travel, people saw the need for laws, speed limits, and common rules of the road. The Department of Motor Vehicles was founded in 1917 to help address some of these problems. Here are some of the new rules:

  • Good brakes, a horn, and lamp were required on all cars.
  • Drivers were required to stop to allow teams of horses to pass.
  • Also drivers were required to assist in leading horses past their motor vehicle.
  • At intersections drivers had to come to a stop and blow their horn before slowly proceeding.
  • Drivers must keep to the right at all times.
  • A minimum driver’s age. Before this, anyone could drive–even an 8 year old.

 

Here are some facts:

  • Three-fourths of all fatalities were pedestrians, especially children playing in the street.
  • In 1917, Detroit had 65,000 cars on the road that resulted in 7,171 accidents, 168 fatal.
  • By 1916, two hundred and fifty police officers were devoted to managing traffic.

 

Yet despite all the rules and regulations that came about, folks were thrilled with their vehicles. Driving produced a whole new line of clothing and accessories. Drivers and passengers alike bought special hats, gloves, dusters, goggles, and boots. Many horseless carriages didn’t have tops so that allowed dirt, bugs, and grime to collect on the travelers thus the need for protection.

And everyone in town knew who owned the various cars so the vehicles were soon tokens of their identity. And for sure, owning an automobile could elevate a person’s social status.

Much like today. Those who drive Mercedes, big Lincolns, Jaguars, etc. are the wealthy.

1909-Buick Model F

Regardless of the perks though, there were certain drawbacks. Often the cranks flew backward when someone was trying to start their car and broke their arms. And then rumble seats were a hazard. When the vehicle hit a bump or pothole in the road, the passenger would fly out and land in the dirt and wouldn’t be missed until the driver reached home. Hilarious! I can just picture that now.

“The ordinary “horseless carriage” is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.”  Literary Digest, 1899.

Little did they know! Cars surpassed the bicycle within a few years. The public developed a real love affair with motor vehicles.

During the Depression, many people lived in their automobiles.

Have you read any romances or watched any movies that featured horseless carriages or tin lizzies? Only one pops into mind and that is a book called RUNABOUT by Pamela Morsi that came out in 1994. I’m sure there are others.

Pearl Hart: Lady Bandit

The ranks of women outlaws were pretty thin back in the old West. Women toiled from sunup to sundown amid danger, hardship, and loneliness. A lot of them went back east to their former lives, some turned to prostitution, but few of them became outlaws.

Pearl was born with the last name of Taylor around 1877 in Ontario, Canada. The petite, attractive woman was of French descent and well educated. She came to the U.S. around fifteen years old. She admired strong women.

At the age of 16 she was sent to a boarding school but was very rebellious and often escaped for a night on the town. She met Brett Hart a year later and they eloped. Brett was described as a rake, a drunkard, and a gambler. He was abusive and they had a tumultuous marriage in which she left several times.

She and Brett had two children—a boy and a girl. She sent them to her mother to raise.

While watching Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, she fell in love with the cowboy lifestyle. She began to drift from town to town and ended up in Phoenix, Arizona where she worked as a cook, a singer, and anything else she could find to do.

By 1898, she was in Mammoth, Arizona working as a cook in a boardinghouse. There she met a German drifter named Joe Boot. He owned a mining claim and she helped him work it for a time. After finding no gold, the pair decided to rob a stagecoach that ran between Globe and Florence. Pearl cut her hair short, wore men’s clothing, and toted a pistol. They netted $431.20.

She felt bad about taking the passengers’ money and returned $1.00 to each of them.

But they got lost after the getaway and a short time later, were captured and taken to Tucson. The jail had no accommodations for a woman so they put her in a regular room that wasn’t very secure. The media went into a frenzy and treated her like a celebrity. She entertained and gave interviews to anyone who wanted to see the Bandit Queen.

A short while later, she escaped leaving an eighteen-inch hole in the wall but was recaptured two weeks later in New Mexico.

During her trial in 1899, she entered an eloquent plea that her mother was sick and she needed that money to take care of her. The jury acquitted her and Boots which angered the judge. He got a new jury and retried them with a charge of interference with the U.S. Mail. This time both were found guilty.

Joe Boot drew a 30 year prison sentence and Pearl got 5 years. Both were sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison. But even there she was given a larger cell than the others and allowed her to receive a continuous line of visitors.

Joe escaped two years after his conviction and was never seen again.

In December 1902, she received a pardon and took a train to Kansas City. After that, she slowly dropped from view. Some had her owning a cigar store and others had her appearing in a play her sister wrote about her adventure. And no one knows when she died or where. What ever happened to her is a mystery to this day.

She blazed across history as the last female outlaw and she’s quoted as saying, “I shall not be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making.”

I don’t know how I feel about her. She deliberately broke the law and tried to escape punishment. I don’t think she was hardened though. She had compassion for others. But she seemed attracted to the bad boy type of men. What are your thoughts? Do you think she was misguided by men maybe?

Charlene Raddon Has Winners!

Wow! Thank you for visiting, Charlene! We had a fun time and loved hearing about this exciting new series.

Now for the drawing…….Drumroll………….

Winner of the Amazon Gift Card….JERRI LYNN HILL

Winners of the ebook of Priscilla……..

ROSIE HOSKINS

TONYA LUCAS

I’m so happy for you ladies! Congratulations! Charlene will contact you so be watching.

 

Welcome Charlene Raddon

I’m so very happy to host Charlene Raddon and celebrate the release of a new series called The Widows of Wildcat Ridge. There will be 17 stories in all with them releasing on the 1st and 15th until they’re all published. I was hooked by the overall premise of the series and found an entire town of only women so interesting. I think you will be too. Miss Charlene has some giveaways so scroll down. Then leave a comment to get in the drawing.

* * * *

Hi everyone!

The idea for The Widows of Wildcat Ridge came to me a long time ago, a town full of women with no men. What a dilemma. But it wasn’t until I read about a mine disaster that happened here in Utah in 1901 that the whole story idea jelled in my head.

In that disaster, 200 men died. The mine was not reopened and although the town exists still today with about 60 residents, it’s a ghost of what it used to be.

That was a coal mine, the most dangerous mining there is. In The Widows of Wildcat Ridge, it’s a gold mine that is destroyed by explosions and fire. One of the explosions came late, after townspeople streamed up to the mine to try to save their loved ones. Virtually everyone present died.

But losing husbands, brothers, sons and fiancés wasn’t the end of the ordeal for the women and children left behind. The mine owner has a new mine not far away, and he wants to build a new town–with the buildings from Wildcat Ridge. He gives the women an ultimatum; move out or marry men who will take over the businesses and pay the mortgage and rent payments he hasn’t received since the disaster.

Somehow the women must either find a way to earn money or find good men to marry. But where and how?

Here’s a little about the first few books.

Book 1, Priscilla by Charlene Raddon, is about the preacher’s daughter who lost both her father and her husband at the mine. Two days after the town meeting, she comes home to find a half-naked man unconscious on her bed with a bullet in his back.

Book 2, Blessing by Caroline Clemmons, otherwise known as Buster, grew up a tomboy despite her petite feminity. A hardworking ranch girl, she isn’t seeking marriage. But sometimes we get things we don’t think we want.

Book 3, Nissa by Zina Abbott, widows of the mine supervisor, and her two children, are evicted from the supervisor’s house. Destitute, she must find lodging for her children and a way to feed them.

Book 4, Gwyneth by Christine Sterling, a man comes to town to buy horses and is involved in an accident at the blacksmith shop and loses his memory, including his ability to talk. Gwyneth has to help him heal and in doing so heals her own deep wounds.

Book 5, Dulcina by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Book 6, Josephine by Kit Morgan

Book 7, Thalia by Charlene Raddon, loses her father and the fiancée she was to marry in mere weeks. Thalia wants the marriage life cheated her out of. But who can she marry? The only young, nice looking man in town is Dinky Moon, the town drunk. All she has to do is sober him up and keep him that way.

* * * *

Today, I will be giving away a $10 gift card and one copy of Priscilla to two separate winners. Good luck and come spend time with us in Wildcat Ridge. Become acquainted with the widows and the series villain, Mortimer Crane. Find out whether these tough, determined widows save their town and find new love.

Charlene learned about the shock value of fiction when she told her third grade class that her little sister died of a black widow spider bite. Only she didn’t have a little sister. What she did have was an excellent imagination. In 1980 after having a vivid dream and knowing it had to appear in a book, she began writing in earnest and came into her own. She’s now a fixture in romance publishing.

 

Ever Wonder How Pockets Originated?

I love the word pocket.  Pockets can hold everyday items, things of necessity…maybe even the hopes and dreams of your heart. These cloth pouches offered a private place to keep personal items and could be any size or shape.

Prior to the 1790s, women’s pockets weren’t attached to their clothing, instead tied around her waist under her skirt or petticoat. A slit at the side allowed room for her to slip her wrist inside and into the detachable pocket that she sewed by hand, even embroidered with a pretty stitch.

For men, a pocket was attached to the waistband of his trousers and sewn into the lining of his coat. So, they’ve pretty much always had the same thing. Theirs were easily accessible and THEY didn’t have to fumble around, trying to get into something hidden. Like it was a sin to wear.

Good Heavens!

There were watch pockets, flap pockets and even breast pockets. Yes, the men had it all. Easy and accessible.

But maybe women wanted  theirs hidden. At least she didn’t have to explain to anyone what she carried or why. That kinda makes sense. And they didn’t carry purses back then.

And what did she find important enough? After all, they had very little that was rightfully their own. Let’s see.

In Samuel Richardson’s novel in 1742, he described his heroine’s pocket when she escaped her master as holding one shift (a loose, shapeless garment,) 2 handkerchiefs, 2 caps and 5 shillings. Now, that was a big pocket!

The Victoria and Albert Museum have these listed among what women carried:

Keys, spectacles, a mirror, a watch, a diary (smart thinking, no one could read it,) pencil case, a snuff box, knife and scissors, a thimble, a pincushion.

Okay excuse me, now why on earth would a woman carry around a pincushion? Or a thimble? was she going to whip those out and start sewing? Or maybe she wanted to keep pins handy so she could jab someone who annoyed her. Lord knows there were probably plenty people who did. After all, every time she turned around someone was telling her what to do, say, or where to go.

I found it very interesting that some women carried oranges, an apple or some biscuits. This is so funny! To carry biscuits in your pocket in case the wearer got a hunger pain? But then food was a bit scarce.

This is from Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield: Releasing one of her arms, she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, and brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed into my pockets, and a purse which she put in my hand, but not one word did she say.’

When she went to sleep, she would hide her pocket or pockets under her pillow. Now, there’s a story!

In most of my stories, the woman usually carried a lace handkerchief and a weapon of some kind–either a gun or knife. After all, the west was a dangerous place. Pockets were pretty handy.

If you’d lived back then and made yourself a pretty tie-on pocket, what things would you have put inside?

Mail Order Catalogs

Mail order was a vital business for people living on the American frontier so far from large towns where they could buy whatever they needed. I once read where someone ordered a whole house back then from Montgomery Ward and had it shipped. It arrived as a kit that you had to put together and I think it was like $400. Amazing. It sounds like an idea for a book. Not only was the extensive list of merchandise interesting but I loved the fine print in the front section of the catalog. They were really quite trusting.

Montgomery Ward assured the purchaser that they employ no agents or traveling collectors and lay out their rules for ordering merchandise.

RULE #1:

“We will ship goods by freight to ANYONE if money accompanies the order. We will ship goods in our name and collect the bill through your banker if sufficient money is sent with the order to cover the freight charges. Be sure to give us the name and location of your bank.”

RULE #2:

“Goods will be sent by express, C.O.D. (collect on delivery) when, in our opinion, the articles ordered are suitable. Value, bulk, weight, class, distance, etc., will determine our acceptance or refusal of all such orders. We will not send C.O.D. for amounts under $5.00.” (It goes on to say that the purchaser has to pay all possible shipping charges up front and that no goods will be sent to points off a railway unless paid for in advance. It seems the prepayment of the shipping was a big deal.

RULE #3:

Mail Shipments (sending prepaid goods through the U.S. mail): “Postage by mail is 1 cent per ounce or 16 cents per pound. No one package must exceed 4 pounds, but any number of packages may be sent to the same address weighing 4 lbs. or less each. Packages can be sent by registered mail for 8 cents per package extra. We positively require cash in advance for both goods and postage. We will return the amount overpaid, if any. Explosives, poisonous or inflammable articles are unmailable. Sharp pointed instruments and glass such as needles, knives, pens, lantern slides etc. can go in mailing cases at an extra cost of 5 cents.”

And then there’s a section on insuring the merchandise ordered by mail. The cost was 5 cents for each package of $5.00 or under in value. Value of goods from $5 to $10 was 10 cents. Over that was an extra 5 cents additional. They tell the customer to be sure to write “Insure” on their order and enclose the appropriate fee.

RULE #4:

Discounts for cash. They gave 2% discount on orders $20 to $50. 3% on 50 to $100 and on up to 5% for orders over $150. But this only applied to cash sales.

They even addressed how to send money for those paying in cash—Bank Draft, Postal Money Order, or Express Money Order.

And of course there’s a section for returning goods. Their motto was money back guarantee and they stood behind their promise to the customer.

Of Interest: There are 36 pages of novels and other books of all kinds listed in this catalog I have that came out in 1895.

This book is an invaluable resource of historical writers or just anyone who loves history. I love looking through it and seeing the prices of things. Gold wedding bands were $3.60 to $.85. Leather saddles were around $10. Cookstoves $24.00. Pistols and rifles around $15.00. All kinds of furniture for very little.

As I girl, I used to anticipate the Montgomery Ward catalog twice every year. I think it came out in spring and at Christmas. I spent hours and hours daydreaming, looking through it, wishing to be able to buy things, and marking the things I wanted. When we got a little money, we’d go to the catalog store and place an order.

They didn’t have regular stores until I was around seventeen or eighteen. Browsing in those was a real treat. The stores were so exciting and all decked out at Christmas in bright sparkling colors.

I can only imagine what it was like for settlers and their children. Those mercantiles must’ve been so interesting for people who had little money and big dreams.

What are your memories of the Montgomery Ward catalog?