Fiction Research

Why my research is here

My print historical novels contain research notes and acknowledgments in the back-matter. With the advent of converting my historical novels to audio and imagining how tedious it would be for listeners to hear complex web addresses, I decided to share my research here, for those who are interested. In terms of organization, it makes sense to put research for a given novel under its title and cover art. I would love to hear from you if you have reactions or shares.

Universal acknowledgements for my historical novels

I would like to thank my close friend and colleague Debra Holland for inspiration, for making this novel better by her suggestions, and for the opportunity to write a book set in the world she established through her best-selling Montana Sky series. The setting for my novel, Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory, was first invented by Debra. In the fall of 2015 and winter of 2016, we spent many hours at my dining table writing together and encouraging one another on our separate projects.

For more on her book titles and background visit her Amazon Author Page at: http://www.DebraHolland.com.

Thanks also go to the wonderful authors who wrote books in her World. We shared historical research, encouragement, and character exchanges so readers could enjoy seeing their favorite characters in other books. To learn about the authors who launched books in Debra’s Montana Sky World along with Rye’s Reprieve, go to her website.

I must thank my copy editor, Adeli Brito of FourEyesEdit.com, my formatter, Amy Atwell of AuthorEMS.com, both of whom came through for me at the eleventh hour; and my cover artists, Erin Dameron-Hill of EDH Graphics (for Rye’s Reprieve) and author and cover artist Delle Jacobs (for the other historicals).

Finally, I would like to thank my cheerleaders: my daughter Stacee Nelson, my sister Grace MacMillan, my nephew and niece Ken and Debbie Rear and niece Shannon Rear, my current students, my former students, close friends now published—Alexis Lusonne Montgomery, Francis Amati, and Janis Thereault—and my dear friend Carl Baggett, Jr.

Historical Notes for Rye’s Reprieve

book coverChristine Ford, Integrated Resource Program Manager of the Grant-Khor’s Ranch in Southwest Montana, now a national park, sent photos upon which I based the fictional Harper Ranch. Thanks also go to Brian Geiger, PhD, MILS, Director, CBSR, University of California, Riverside; Lori Cassidy and John Dale of Orange Coast College Library; Erin Eldermire of Vet Library Reference, Cornell University; and Randy Thompson, Senior Archivist, The National Archives at Riverside, California.

The lyrics from “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” that open this novel are attributed in several sources to the Rev. Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876).

The snap fasteners you see on the clothing of the cover model were apparently not in common use for American clothing in 1886 but were patented approximately that year by a German inventor.  Other sources suggest the snap was used in stage clothing for quick changes.

“Thou art in Rome” is a quote by Samuel Rogers (1763-1855) that appears in the skating party chapter.

The origins of lyrics from “Blow the Man Down,” an English sea shanty, are obscure. The title may refer to the act of knocking a man down. “Contemporary publications and the memories of individuals, in later publications, put the existence of this shanty by the 1860s. The Syracuse Daily Courier, July 1867, quoted a lyric from the song, which was said to be used for hauling halyards on a steamship bound from New York to Glasgow.” More can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blow_the_Man_Down.

The most helpful sources for weather conditions and the ravages of the worst winter in Montana history, 1886-1887, can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/grko/learn/historyculture/winter.htm;  for a vivid depiction at: http://theweatherforums.com/archive/index.php?/topic/21388-the-winter-of-1886-87-in-montana/; and at: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/record-cold-and-snow-decimates-cattle-herds

For sources on the American land grants of the 1880s—most of which conflict as to acreage—which nonetheless are interesting reading, go to:  http://history.nd.gov/lincoln/land8.htmlDesert; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Land_Act;  and to pour through the various codes of the Desert Land Act of 1877, which modified the Homestead Act to allow more land to homesteaders in the west, go to Cornell Law and with great patience consult their archives. Here is a start to your investigation: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/43/1303

A non-medical technique for lowering heart rate by massage is found here: http://www.wikihow.com/Slow-Your-Heart-Rate-Down

For early veterinarian practices, see Vets in 1880s: http://www.commercevillagevet.com/historic-hospitals-veterinarians-share-stories-of-three-practices/; although I’ve owned horses, I needed to  reacquaint myself with the parts of a horse and used this site: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/identifying-horse-parts-and-markings.html

A truly excellent source for lists of items pioneers often brought with them in wagons crossing the territories is here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/images/life_essay2_photo5.gif

I took Rye’s middle name from a Civil War hero and claimed the man as his uncle:

John Aaron Rawlins (February 13, 1831 – September 6, 1869) was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. A confidant of Ulysses S. Grant, Rawlins served on Grant’s staff throughout the war, rising to the rank of brevet major general, and was Grant’s chief defender against allegations of insobriety. After the war, he was appointed Secretary of War when Grant was elected President of the United States, but died of advanced tuberculosis five months into his term.   See Chpter 3.

Books I consulted from my library are listed here by title and author and are available currently online:

Days on the Road: Crossing the Plains in 1865, the diary of Sarah Raymond Herndon
Bright Star in the Big Sky by Mary Barmeyer O’Brien
Doc Susie: The True Story of a Country Physician in the Colorado Rockies by Virginia Cornell
Pioneer Doctor: The Story of a Woman’s Work by Mari Graña
Doctors of the Old West by Robert F. Karolevitz
Medicine: A History of Healing, Ancient Traditions to Modern Practice, consulting editor Roy Porter (lent to me by Colleen Fliedner, a member of my plot group).

Historical Notes for Rebel Love Song

If you would like further information, contact me through my website: www.LouellaNelson.com

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s