What shape piano? Grand? Upright? Square? #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #historical #fiction #research #American #piano #music #history

I grew up with an upright piano in my family home. I never took lessons but I did learn to play it. I taught myself after learning to play a viola at school for the ensemble and orchestra. I played viola from third grade all the way through school. Even auditioned for and was selected to play in all-county and all-state orchestras while in high school.

But piano was something I “fiddled” with on my own. I could pick out a tune to sing along with, similar to how I could play along on a guitar which I also essentially taught myself to play. Not that anyone would want me to play either of those this minute since I haven’t played in a while now. I’ve been focusing on my writing and research but I do have both a guitar and an electric keyboard in the house tempting me most every day.

When I decided that Cassandra Fairhope would play the piano in my Fury Falls Inn series, I did some research to determine the kind of pianos available in the early 1800s in America.

Standard shapes and sizes of pianos include grand, baby grand, and uprights of various dimensions. As I poked around at the Antique Piano Shop I came across one shape that was new and intriguing to me. Especially since the Shop claims it’s “one of the earliest pianos every manufactured in America!”

Image shared from the Antique Piano Shop site

This is a square piano made by Chickering and Stewart, which is undergoing restoration at the Antique Piano Shop. Jonas Chickering was the first official piano manufacturer in America, and James Stewart was his partner during the first four years of his business. After a few changes in partnership, Jonas included his sons in the business in 1853, which then became known as Chickering & Sons. The company was based in Boston, Massachusetts and is “known for their award-winning pianos and music instruments of topnotch quality.” Chickering and Sons is now a piano brand of the American Piano Company (Ampico), according to Total Piano Care’s history of the company.

This piano was built in 1823 (according to the Antique Piano Shop) and is made of Honduran Flame Mahogany Wood in the Early American style. I think it’s a beautiful piece of furniture and wonder what it sounds like. I’d love to “fiddle” with the keys on this pretty baby!

On a side note of research: It’s interesting to me that Total Piano Care lists the serial numbers and dates of manufacture for “all” of the Chickering & Sons pianos, starting with 1824 as the earliest date. Not the 1823 claimed by the Antique Piano Shop. Perhaps the first pianos Chickering and Stewart produced didn’t bear serial numbers so that’s why this piano is dated 1823?

I am claiming a bit of poetic license by including this style of piano in my 1821 series, but how could I resist? Not only is it pretty and unique, but it also restores a piece of American history through the sharing of its existence in my stories. So please forgive me for not being entirely accurate this one time.

Do you play piano? Have you heard of a square piano? Have you played one? From the description of Chickering’s quality and numerous awards for his pianos, I imagine it would have a lovely sound. Makes my fingers itch to play again! How about you?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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Dog required if you live in a Dogtrot House? #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #historical #fiction #research #architecture #Alabama200

Do you know what a dogtrot house is? If you live in the South, you very well might! Since I am originally from Maryland (which is still technically south of the Mason-Dixon Line…) this wasn’t a style I was familiar with. Yet I had actually been in a “dogtrot” house—my aunt and uncle’s home outside of Baltimore.

The concept today is known as a breezeway, where two separate sections of the dwelling are connected by a floor and roof, and possibly doors/windows at either end. But in the 1800s, the space was left open at either end to encourage airflow for homes in the South. Keep in mind there wasn’t any air conditioning yet in that time so building a space where the family—and the dog—could dine on hot evenings, or simply sit and work on whatever project needed doing was a huge benefit.

When my hubby and I visited Burritt on the Mountain a few months ago, I came across the name of this style of residence and decided to incorporate it into my new series.

In my Fury Falls Inn series, I have chosen this basic style made into a two-story structure. It’s also far more refined since it’s constructed of brick and stone instead of logs and chinking. The owners, Reginald and Mercy Fairhope, want to make a statement about the desirability of the inn’s lodgings and menu. Reggie strives to make the furnishings and the appearance of the place welcoming and inviting to travelers and locals alike. So he takes off to oversee the crafting of the furniture he envisions, leaving Flint Hamilton to take care of the inn and Reggie’s wife, Mercy, and daughter, Cassandra. A tall order for the young man!

I really think this style is fascinating and would evoke a sense of the past in a modern home. As well, it would allow for a cool place to hang out with family and friends without being subjected to the hot sun. My aunt and uncle’s home had a finished breezeway connecting the main house to the two-car garage. The breezeway was enclosed with doors to the backyard, the garage, and the kitchen, and windows across both front and back. My cousin and I spent one very hot summer sleeping on that breezeway. Fond memories from my teen years, let me tell you!

So, have you ever seen or lived in a dogtrot house? Would you want to?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

Lunch by any other name is…what, exactly? #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #historical #fiction #research #words #etymology

In writing historical fiction, one of the rather confusing issues I struggle with is what to call the midday and evening meals.

As a frame of reference, my family members have always had four kinds of meals: breakfast (in the morning); lunch (around noon); dinner or supper interchangeably (6:00 or 7:00 p.m.); and snacks (midmorning or midafternoon).

A delicious Sara’s Dagger sandwich from Attman’s Deli, Baltimore, MD

But I know these terms are not the same for everyone today, let along throughout history.

The definition of breakfast in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is straightforward and not disputed (that I’m aware of):

1.1 That with which a person breaks his fast in the morning; the first meal of the day.

The confusion stems from terms for dinner and supper. According to the OED, dinner is defined as:

1. a.1.a The chief meal of the day, eaten originally, and still by the majority of people, about the middle of the day (cf. Ger. Mittagsessen), but now, by the professional and fashionable classes, usually in the evening; particularly, a formally arranged meal of various courses; a repast given publicly in honour of some one, or to celebrate some event.

For example, my research shows that George and Martha Washington ate dinner at or about 3 p.m. with supper in the evening, around 7:00 p.m.

So, the afternoon meal in my 1821 Fury Falls Inn series of stories should be called dinner.

Then what is supper? Given that my family has used both dinner and supper to refer to our evening meal? Back to the OED I went. Supper is defined in the OED as:

1. a.1.a The last meal of the day; (contextually) the hour at which this is taken, supper-time; also, such a meal made the occasion of a social or festive gathering. Often without article, demonstrative, possessive, or the like, esp. when governed by a prep. (to have supper; at supper, to supper, for supper, after supper).

   Formerly, the last of the three meals of the day (breakfast, dinner, and supper); now applied to the last substantial meal of the day when dinner is taken in the middle of the day, or to a late meal following an early evening dinner. Supper is usually a less formal meal than late dinner.

That clarifies these terms, but what about the midday meal of lunch? When did that become the accepted term instead of dinner?

The OED says:

[Perh. evolved from lump n.1, on the analogy of the apparent relation between hump and hunch, bump and bunch. Cf. ‘Lounge, a large lump, as of bread or cheese’ (Brockett N. Country Words, ed. 2, 1829).

   It is curious that the word first appears as a rendering of the (at that time) like-sounding Sp. lonja slice of ham. luncheon, commonly believed to be a derivative of lunch, occurs in our quots. 11 years earlier, with its present spelling. In sense 2 lunch was an abbreviation of luncheon, first appearing about 1829, when it was regarded either as a vulgarism or as a fashionable affectation.]

†1.1 A piece, a thick piece; a hunch or hunk. Obs.

2. a.2.a A synonym of luncheon n. 2. (Now the usual word exc. in specially formal use, though formerly objected to as vulgar.) Also, a light meal at any time of the day.

The term lunch didn’t become accepted until after 1829, 8 years after the time period of my series. Therefore, I shouldn’t refer to the midday meal using that term. So when you read my series, keep these facts in mind. There are three meals served at the Fury Falls Inn: breakfast, dinner, and supper.

One other note. Snacks have been around a long time. The OED cites it used in 1685 to mean “A mere taste, a small quantity, of liquor” but in 1757 it’s used in the sense of “A mere bite or morsel of food, as contrasted with a regular meal; a light or incidental repast.” So if you find Cassie or Flint snacking from time to time, it’s fine. I checked.

Speaking of lunch, it’s about that time as I finish writing this post. Before you go, though, check out the cover (below) of the first book in the six-book Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of the Fury Falls Inn, coming October 2019. I love this cover so much; almost as much as the story!

Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother. But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests. When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

White Traders in the Mississippi Territory #amwriting #histfic #research #Alabama200 #history

I’m musing today about how people seek out better opportunities for themselves and their families. The History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi From the Earliest Period (1851) by Albert James Pickett is a fascinating historical document. I learned so much about the development of the state of Alabama and many of the people involved.

One of the questions I originally wanted to answer when I read the book is, when did white people move in to Alabama? I knew it must have been after the American Revolution. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, most likely as well. I also wanted to know how contentious—I didn’t know specifics, though I am well aware of the general nature of the conflicts involved—was the actual displacement of the Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokee? I was surprised to find out that white folks had moved in about when I’d thought.

I talked a few weeks ago here about one massacre at Ft. Mims resulting from the taking of lands and property, combined with foreign nations’ prodding. But were there any peaceful transactions between the natives and the Americans pushing into the area?

The answer, it turns out, is there were some friendly exchanges.

For example, Pickett states that in 1792 (9 years after the end of the American Revolution) there were only a few white inhabitants around Montgomery County, Alabama. But that “All over the territory of Alabama and Mississippi, wherever an Indian town of importance was found, white traders lived.”

These traders would purchase from the Indians “bees-wax, hickory-nut oil, snake-root, together with various medicinal barks” as well as a mean rum called taffai in small kegs and “poultry of all kinds in cages made of reeds” and send them to “Augusta and Pensacola on pack horses, and to Mobile and New Orleans in large canoes.” Pause and consider that last sentence for a moment.

Imagine walking/riding from anywhere in Alabama to Pensacola, Florida, or Augusta, Georgia. For kicks and grins, I checked mileage from my home in Huntsville to Pensacola: 348 miles. To Augusta is 332 miles. Also consider the roads were not paved like they are today, but were mostly dirt/mud depending on weather conditions and rocks. Across mountains and rivers, probably a few swamps, through forests and all kinds of terrain in between. On average, when I take a walk around my neighborhood I walk at a pace of 3 miles per hour. If I were able to keep up that pace, which is highly unlikely over the previously referenced terrain, it would take 116 hours. If I walked 8 hours per day, another unlikely length of time, it would take me 14.5 days to walk to Pensacola. More likely, I’d imagine such a trip would take closer to 3 weeks than 2 weeks. My poor feet… Whew! I’m tired thinking about such a trek.

Also take into account the fact of more hostile encounters between whites and the Creeks, for instance, which would make such a long trip fraught with danger for everyone concerned. In fact, Pickett states that in 1792 “Creeks committed many depredations, pushed their hostilities to the very doors of Nashville” from the Montgomery area.

By December 1801, however, with the influx of people into the Mississippi Territory (later the state of Alabama), one party from North Carolina made the perilous trip through Knoxville, Tennessee, where they made flat-boats and “floated down the [Tennessee] river to the head of the Muscle Shoals [in northwest Alabama], where they disembarked, at the house of Double-Head, a Cherokee Chief.” They continued on foot with all of their “effects upon the horses” south to St. Stephens, a distance on today’s highways of 292 miles. But in 1801 there was “not a solitary direct path” for them to follow. “After a fatiguing march, they reached the residence of Levi Colbert, a celebrated Chickasaw Chief, who gave them the necessary directions.” I share this as one piece of evidence that some of the interaction between the various groups were peaceful and helpful in nature. I’m also blown away by the determination and persistence the emigrants demonstrated in their move from North Carolina to southern Alabama.

It’s fairly common knowledge how events transpired for the Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws. If I could change history, go back and prevent such tragedy and hate and destruction I surely would.

I do take some tiny comfort that not everybody fought each other but traded together, worked together, helped each other. If we, today, can strive to do the same, without judgment or intolerance, the world may benefit. I hope, anyway.

Would you make such a journey as the folks from North Carolina did for a chance at a better/different life? I find myself comparing their trek to that of the refugees from South America into Central and North America. The similarities and the differences. History repeating itself in some ways? What do you think?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Will the 1821 Sheriff of Madison County, AL, please stand up? #amwriting #dilemma #histfic #research #Alabama200 #history

I have a dilemma related to one of the characters in my new series, the Fury Falls Inn. While reading about Alabama’s early history, one of the notes I took was that of the very first sheriff of Madison County, Alabama. One of the reasons it intrigued me is that his years of service coincides with the time period of my series set in 1821. Could I use him in my story?

I considered using this man’s name in my story to give it historical accuracy. Not as a main character but a tertiary one. But before I portrayed him in any way, it seemed prudent to investigate as to what kind of a man he was and how effective he was at his job. After all, I don’t want to paint him with the wrong brush, so to speak. You know, if he was a really great sheriff, then I wouldn’t want to make him seem inept, and vice versa. So I started looking…

I came across this article by Ruby W. Lawler, Chairwoman of the Program Committee of the Gurley (AL) Historical Society, that included the following comment about the sheriff:

“The first sheriff of Madison County was Stephen Neal who held office from 1809 to 1822. Crime in those days was usually confined to stealing a horse or a display of public drunkenness. In many cases, the locals would extract [sic] their own swift punishment without the need of the local sheriff.”

Sounds to me like he might not have been very busy, but I don’t know that. I haven’t researched crime reports from that era, and wouldn’t know where to find them. It’s also not relevant to my dilemma. The statement above includes nothing about him as a person, just one passing comment about the kinds of crime he might have dealt with. What this quote confirmed for me was that stealing horses was an historical issue, one that I had included in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (Book 1), so that’s cool to know.

Still, the question of whether to use Neal’s name and thus his persona, or make up someone else, niggled in my brain. I’d prefer to be historically correct—rather than creating a fictional sheriff—but I don’t want to misrepresent a real person. I kept looking and found this article by Donna R. Causey for Alabama Pioneers that had this to say:

“Stephen Neal, one of the earliest settlers and sheriff of the county from 1809 to 1822, purchased the lot embracing the east end of Commercial Row [in Huntsville] and sold it to different parties, who built store-houses there.”

I interpret this statement to imply he was rather wealthy, both because he bought a large lot and he would have made money when he sold smaller lots to others. The accompanying photo of the house Neal purchased is quite impressive, too.

Then I found this brief history from the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, which sheds a bit of light on Neal:

“Sheriff Neal served in his appointed capacity until Alabama became a state in 1819 and held it’s [sic] first ‘Constitutional Convention’ at what is now known as Constitution Hall Park in downtown Huntsville.

“Following the adoption of the Alabama Constitution, Sheriff Neal became Madison County’s first elected Sheriff by defeating eighteen opponents, the most candidates to ever run for the office of Sheriff in a local election.” [emphasis added]

When I first read this, I thought, Aha! If Neal was respected enough to defeat 18 other candidates, he must have been doing a pretty good job, right? So it should be safe for me to use his name and portray him as being a competent sheriff.

But then I remembered that it was a common practice in that day and age for candidates to throw rallies where they not only stood up on a tree stump and extolled on what they’d do if elected, but they also doled out whiskey to the men who attended, essentially partying with them to show what a great candidate they were. Buying their loyalty and their vote, in a manner of speaking. So did he get elected because more people knew his name and/or liked his partying style? (Hm, is that where the term “party” came to be associated with political entities? Another research question…)

It’s fairly common for people to vote for candidates they’ve heard of. Since Neal had been sheriff for ten years, he’d been a known entity. Good or bad. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about who he was and how he behaved. I’m not trying to imply that I think one way or the other. I’m just “thinking out loud” here as I ponder whether to use the name of the real sheriff or not.

I wish I could find out more about his personality, his job performance, but when I think about it, I don’t need to delve too deeply into his character for the purposes of my stories since he’s a minor/tertiary character. As I’m beginning final revisions to the first story, I think the best path forward is to fictionalize the sheriff. I focus more on a fictional deputy anyway, so ultimately what name I give the sheriff isn’t going to change much with regard to plot and action. But I believe it’s better to not portray a real historical figure incorrectly.

Do you agree with me, that it’s important to know the historical figure as much as possible before employing their personage in fiction? Even for “walk on” characters? Or am I overthinking this?

I’d love to hear your opinion… Thanks!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Remembering the Fort Mims Massacre #amwriting #histfic #research #Alabama200 #history

One of the more horrific historical events I encountered in my research of Alabama history is that of the Massacre at Fort Mims. This event shapes how one of my characters reacts in my story, which I’ll explain in a minute. Keep in mind that when I began to read about the early history of the state, it was with fresh eyes as I was not raised in Alabama but Maryland, so never learned anything about this state’s history. I located the History of Alabama and Incidentally Georgia and Mississippi from the Earliest Period by Albert James Pickett (Volume II, Charleston: Walker and James, 1851) where I read with interest the somewhat florid descriptions of the early history of the state.

This image appears in History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi from the Earliest Period

When I came to the account of the battle and killing at Fort Mims, I really was horrified to think that people could hate so much as to murder by terrible means, scalp, and burn out men, women, and children. According to the History of Alabama, at the time of the attack, “The whole population of Fort Mims, consisting of whites, Indians, soldiers, officers, and negroes now amounted to five hundred and fifty-three souls” inside the fort, and of those about 533 died. However, the Encyclopedia of Alabama site states that “some 400 American settlers, U.S.-allied Creeks, and enslaved African Americans had taken refuge inside” and they don’t cite how many people died. But why is there such a huge discrepancy in the number of people in the fort?

I did a bit more digging and found an article entitled “Original letter describing the tragic events at Fort Mims with [films & pics]” by Donna R. Causey. Her picture of the historical marker for Fort Mims reveals a number closer to Pickett’s, thus corroborating his reporting: “Indians took fort with heavy loss, then killed all but about 36 of some 550 in the fort. Creeks had been armed by British at Pensacola in this phase of War of 1812.”

There’s a footnote on page 267 in the History of Alabama that supports that last sentence. He noted that “The Spaniards and the British agents charged McQueen’s party to ‘fight the Americans’ and if “the Americans should prove too hard for both of us, there are vessels enough to take us all off together.’”

From what I’ve read, it seems the underlying reason for the tensions between Americans and the Creeks apparently stemmed from the influx of white settlers into the area, claiming the hunting lands the natives had used for generations and converting it into cotton plantations. They did this with the approval of the U.S. government to some extent, but it’s also true that individuals, like Andrew Jackson, overstepped the letter of the law for their own benefit. The creation of the Federal Road into the region had increased the arrival of so many people seeking to find their wealth on the fertile soil.

I can only try to imagine how outraged the people who had lived and hunted on that land must have felt about those lands being taken away by force. Then to have the British incite the natives further, by arming them and encouraging violence against the Americans, lit the powder keg.

I know that people have fought and died defending their beliefs, property, and loved ones for centuries. But reading the detailed account in the History of Alabama proved eye-opening and shocking by turns. Lines such as these:

“The eastern part of the picketing was soon full of Indians, headed by five prophets, whom the Americans immediately shot down, while engaged in dancing and incantations. This greatly abated the ardor of the enemy, many of whom retreated through the gate, for the moment. They had been assured that American bullets would split upon the sacred persons of the prophets, and pass off harmless.”

“The assailants, from the old line of picketing, in the additional part of the fort, and from the outside stockading, commenced a general fire upon the Americans. Soldiers, negroes, women and children, fell.”

“His repeated discharges made lanes through the savage ranks. Fresh numbers renewed their efforts against him, and often an Indian and an American would plant their guns across the same port-hole, to shoot at each other.”

“The superior force of the assailants enabled them to constantly to bring fresh warriors into the action. They now set fire to the main building, and many of the out-houses. The shrieks of the women and children went up to high heaven.”

“The weak, wounded and feeble, were pressed to death and trodden underfoot. The spot presented the appearance of one immense mass of human beings, herded together too close to defend themselves, and, like beeves [cattle] in the slaughter-pen of the butcher, a prey to those who fired upon them.”

I won’t go into any more detail as to the various ways the women and children were killed. Suffice it to say, it’s appalling.

This event colors the reaction that Flint Hamilton, a character in The Haunting of Fury Falls (coming October 2019), has when he encounters two “Indians” sneaking around the stable one evening. He knows he’s not the best with a gun and he remembers hearing about the savage massacre in the southern part of the state. He surely doesn’t want to have a repeat occurrence at the Fury Falls Inn on his watch! So he proceeds with a fair amount of caution…

Sometimes history is difficult to digest and even more so when I try to put myself in the scene, trying to relive the experience. I had a similar experience when I wrote about how the plantation house in Undying Love (Secrets of Roseville Book 1) became haunted—imagining being the woman as she died, especially where she died makes me slightly queasy to this day.

Had you heard of the massacre at Fort Mims? Have you been to the historic site? Are you like me, interested in visiting places of historic importance?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Woof! Dog Breeds from the 1800s #amwriting #histfic #dogs #research #Alabama200 #history

Last week I talked about the Florida Cracker Horse, a horse breed that I’d never heard of before and chose to include in my new supernatural historical fiction series, Fury Falls Inn. There are also some paint horses and Morgans, too. But there also had to be dogs.

I’m a dog lover, there’s no doubt about that. My family has had dogs all my life. I’ve been in the 4-H dog training project as a teen, winning ribbons for dog obedience and grooming way back in the 1970s. We have two dogs now, both Chow mixes, Zola (the golden one) and Sierra (the sable one). So I simply had to have dogs in my series! These dogs are all sensitive to ghostly presence, too. They confirm for Flint that he’s not imagining the ghosts when they appear to him.

Sierra and Zola after their bath and clip!

No self-respecting (I imagine, anyway) farm would be without either hunting dogs or herding/watch dogs to protect the livestock. But then the question arises as to which breed(s) were most likely to be found in 1821 Alabama?

A bit of online search yielded the Dogluvers site with Dogs Breads By Year of Origin, which answered my question nicely.

Given that the inn is out in the wilderness and foothills, it seemed logical they’d have hunting dogs around, so I perused the list until I found the ones I thought most useful for my story. Which did I settle upon?

I have four dogs, and three breeds in my series, all of which originated in the 1800s, though I don’t the precise date. Still, it’s better than having a breed that didn’t originate until a later century. Anyway, I chose to have a male Golden retriever named Red; a male chocolate Labrador retriever named Beau; a female black Lab named Pickles; and a female tawny and white Cocker Spaniel named Cocoa.

The Golden retriever is a large, active dog but “extremely sociable” and a “friendly watch dog,” as well as “good natured.” Those characteristics made it a good fit for a place catering to guests and people coming and going. It’s also easy to train. I think they’re beautiful, too, so wanted to include this breed in my story.

The Labs are also “friendly” and “responsive” as well as easy to train. They are very similar to the Golden retriever in temperament and they come in three colors: yellow, liver/chocolate, and black. So I could distinguish the two Labs by having one chocolate and one black. I like a variety…

Qualities of the Cocker Spaniel breed which made it a good pick for living at the Fury Falls Inn included that they are sociable and a moderately good watch dog. I also thought that since they are considered to be “affectionate” and “responsive” any younger guests at the inn wouldn’t be scared of her. On top of that, I have fond memories of Polly, our Cocker Spaniel when I was a little girl. Even when she piddled across the driveway when she was nervous or excited. She was very loving and friendly, though.

Writing any story, I’ve found, requires sleuthing out some answers to particular questions. Naturally, historical settings require more research than contemporary stories. Some of the questions I had to find answers for may surprise you… Until next time!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.