April has been a busy month for me as far as travel goes. In fact, today I’ll be in airports and cars most of the day traveling to a writers’ retreat, so please forgive me if I am delayed responding to comments.
I thought I’d share some of my experiences from the quaint town of Mason, TX. I was invited to come speak at a library event back on April 8, and I had a lovely time. Got to see some beautiful wildflowers along the way (see graphic at top). I stopped and ate lunch with the bluebonnets then took a scenic route home to enjoy the fiery reds along the roadside. At the library event, the crowd was small but so wonderfully engaged. They asked insightful questions and taught me quite a lot about their local history.
For example, when I was talking about my fictional women’s colony in No Other Will Do, I mentioned how difficult it would be for a woman to make a career for herself in a field dominated by men during the 1800’s, and I mentioned my lady banker heroine as an example. Members of the audience eagerly shared with me the tale of their own Anna Martin.
Anna was a German immigrant who settled in Mason County, Texas where she ran a small store with her husband. Her husband took ill in 1864 leaving Anna in charge of the family finances. They lost the store during the Civil War, so Anna took out a loan for $150 to reopen. When the stage route came through their area, she got her husband Charles named postmaster, making the store a regular stop for the stagecoaches. Anna fed the travelers, sold them groceries, made butter, anything she could to earn money for her family. Her husband passed away in 1879, but that didn’t stop Anna.
Little by little she expanded her store, taking on dry goods and setting up a trade system with local cattlemen. She hauled freight and became a trader of wool and cotton. She became the first dealer of barbed wire in Mason County and sold more than any other retailer in West Texas. In time, she became a wealthy woman, acquiring some 50,000 acres in the surrounding counties. In July 1901, she sold her store and founded the Commercial Bank of Mason, which she ran with her two sons. As president of the bank she was perhaps the only woman chief executive officer of any bank in America in her day; she remained president for twenty-four years, and for fifty-seven years the bank was almost entirely the property of the Martin family. (Source: Handbook of Texas Online.)
How remarkable! My fictional heroine Emma Chandler wasn’t quite so far ahead of her time as I had thought. Less than a decade as it turns out.
And Anna Martin wasn’t Mason’s only claim to fame. Mason, TX is also the hometown of Fred Gipson, author of Old Yeller. There is a statue of Old Yeller and Travis in front of the Mason library, and when you first walk in, you are treated to the sight of Mr. Gipson’s desk and shelves of memorabilia. How could I not be inspired by such a place?
I love discovering surprise historical tidbits, and this trip provided an abundance of those.
And now I have a surprise for you. . .
If you love marriage of convenience stories, there is a HUGE giveaway going on this week. Most of the authors participating in this giveaway write for the general market, but you’ll recognize some big names: Anne Gracie, Caroline Linden, Christie Caldwell, Elizabeth Boyle, Lauren Royal, Lorraine Heath, Sabrina Jeffries, and ME! (Ha!)
Click on the graphic to see all the books available and to enter for a chance to win. Grand prize will be a Kindle fire and 35 marriage of convenience romance novels (of varying heat levels). First prize will be e-copies of all the novels.
Contest ends on Monday, April 24.
You must visit the contest site to enter. Comments on this blog will not get your name in the drawing. But I do want to read your comments.
- What is something surprising you learned on a recent trip?
- What is your hometown’s claim to fame?
I believe Robin fixed the link that was originally broken, but some people are still having trouble with it, so here is the full url:
Sorry about the bum link earlier.
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