Thanks to the movies and mid-20th century TV, when we think of men's underwear in the Old West, we usually picture the union suit, a garment that looked like a cross between a onesie and today's longjohns, with buttons up the front and a flap in the back to accommodate nature's needs. But union suits weren't … Continue reading Western Trivia: Union Suits & Linens
June 25, 1876. Not quite the “massacre” we learned about in school. So many myths surround this battle, not the least of which is that all of the US Cavalrymen died, George Armstrong Custer among them, and that only Custer's horse survived. Most of the misconceptions are based on wife Elizabeth Custer's memoirs, which painted quite a different picture … Continue reading Western Trivia: Little Bighorn
So you've left your home somewhere in the east and staked out your forty acres on the plains. The government is gonna give you a mule. And all of a sudden, you're a farmer, living off the bounty of the land. Sounds like a great life, right? What you might not have realized before you … Continue reading Western Trivia: The Sod Shanty
In 1492, when Columbus "discovered" America, the estimated number of Native Americans in what would become the United States was between 5 and 18 million. Historians estimate that up to 80% of population loss was due to diseases like smallpox and influenza, to which the aboriginals had no immunity. A 20% survival rate of the … Continue reading Native American Trivia: Population Decimation
Warning! This post examines the history of feeding tubes; if you're easily grossed out, it might not be for you! In one of my novels, a woman falls into a coma after the birth of her child. I needed to know what specific methods there were in the 1880s for nourishing a comatose patient. What … Continue reading Western Trivia: Patient Sustenance
In most of the Old West, the ranchers managed two yearly round-ups. A spring round-up was done to identify and brand the new calves in a herd, and castrate any male calves that were not needed for reproduction (these cattle were called “steers” and often outnumbered the females). It was a big job to get … Continue reading Western Trivia: The Round-Up
A stone post remains today, designating the southern terminus of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in Georgia, as established in 1836. A settlement grew up around it and was called, logically enough, Terminus. Today, we call that settlement Atlanta.
In the mid-19th Century, most transatlantic crossings were still done by sailing ship, although steamship passage was available for those who could afford it, primarily through the Cunard Line of Britain and the Inman line of the US. A steamship would routinely make the voyage in 11 to 13 days, but until 1860, most steamships … Continue reading Irish Trivia: The Transatlantic Crossing