I’m doing research. Lovely, lovely research. When I’m starting to plot a new Frontier Bachelors book, I read newspapers from the months in which I’m thinking about setting the tale. I like to see what was happening in Seattle, from a citizen’s point of view (or at least an editor on the other side of the Sound). I discovered the germ of the idea for A Convenient Christmas Wedding that way. I was fairly sure Beth Wallin’s story would be set in the spring of 1875, and I’d seen a mention online that there’d been a diphtheria epidemic in March. I never did find mention of the epidemic, but what I did find amazed me.
Much of the news wasn’t exactly news.
Take this gem from the March 25, 1875, issue of the Puget Sound Dispatch:
“A Philadelphia youth was recently married to a girl who had refused him eighteen times. He wishes now he hadn’t asked her but seventeen.”
“We call the attention to Mr. Bergh [authority in the school system at the time] to the fact that the wolves are in a starving condition in Wisconsin. Any children sent there will be forwarded from Milwaukee.”
“Julia Ward Howe is organizing a literary club in Washington [D.C.]. In conjunction with it will be a free night school for carpet-bag representatives who cannot spell words of more than two syllables.”
The Weekly Argus of around the same time included a short story called Eurella, about a girl who put on airs because of her fancy first name and lived to regret it.
Then there was this, supposedly taken from a paper in Vineland, New Jersey:
“Mr. Carruth, editor of a paper published here, was fatally shot this morning by Chas. K. Landis, known as the father of Vineland. The affair rose out of an article in the paper, which Landis tho’t referred to him, but in which no names were mentioned.”
Maybe there’s a reason the Dispatch editor chose to use more stories without local people in them!
That issue does go on to describe massive parades celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York.
So, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!