The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door. As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore. I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys. With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me.
Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life. She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother. One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment. After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.
Then she meets two motherless boys. Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life? Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?
By Faith Blum
One of my beta-readers challenged me to add the food and the price paid in one or more of the scenes where Anna goes shopping. At first, I was rather intimidated with the task of finding the prices she would have paid back then, not to mention what kind of food they ate. With no refrigerators or freezers, fresh meat would have been difficult unless they bought it from the butcher or killed an animal themselves. They also had to can everything that wouldn't keep otherwise.
I've never been very good at figuring out what to type into the search engine so I can get the results I am looking for. Sometimes I get it the first time, sometimes it takes a few wording changes, and sometimes I totally fail. When I finally decided to bite the bullet and do some research, I struck gold.
Not only did I find a wonderful list of what the prices were in 1870, but the list also included how much it costs for everything and anything that they sold during that time period. From horses, to buggies, to weapons and ammunition to chairs, material, and jewelry. It was the perfect list!
But that wasn't all! I also found three online recipe books from that time period. I was thrilled! I now have recipes to include in my stories and can describe in further detail how my characters make them. Here is one of the scenes that I doctored up after my research success:
Friday was similar to Wednesday except that instead of going through clothes in the morning, I spent the morning shopping for material and food. I bought flour, butter, lard, sugar and the material needed for new shirts. The total I spent—with Pastor Jenkins' money—was actually less than either of us were anticipating; only $1.70 instead of the $2.00 I was anticipating.
After school, the boys finished their homework and we scrubbed the kitchen down. The Jenkins men would have a cold supper, but it would be in an extra clean kitchen and at least two of them didn't care as long as their da wasn't doing the cooking.
The kitchen was clean, the table was set and supper was on the table. Pastor Jenkins wasn't home when I left, but I had to get home or my da and Caleb would be grumping that their supper wasn't ready. I left the boys with careful instructions on how to behave and what to do before their da got home.
When I stepped outside, I took a deep breath and worked up the energy to walk home. I couldn't wait until their house was scrubbed so I could get on with some of the normal chores for once. Chores like bread baking and doing the laundry. Chores I used to dislike.
Do you ever have trouble researching things online? Do you have a favorite website for historical information? Feel free to answer in the comments below!
An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, leading on the Holy Worlds Christian Writing Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?). As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.
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To enter the giveaway for an Advanced Reader copy of Be Thou My Vision and an ebook copy of Aundy by Shanna Hatfield go to Faith’s blog and leave a comment to either ask her a question, or make a comment about what you think about the article.