Tuesday, June 25, 2013
RESEARCH for VOW UNBROKEN
Since I wanted to set VOW UNBROKEN in 1832, I needed to know more about the period. I couldn’t visit, so I did the next best thing and hurried to the world wide web—every time I think of that, I'm reminded of Daniel 12:4 "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."—and began researching.
What did people wear? Style of dresses, britches, undergarments, shoes and hats. In ’32, ladies wore full length, full skirts with petticoats, pantelettes (also called bloomers) and chemises – a lightweight cotton, sleeveless or short-sleeved slips. But women on the prairie weren’t as fussy as those on the east coast. Though slippers were the footwear of the time, Texas women opted for the more practical, lace-up boots. Men’s trousers were also called britches and they wore boots and wide brimmed hats.
What were their slang words and catch phrases? Loafer, toady, scalawag, and chowderhead were bad names to call scoundrels, cheats, or lazy folks. 'Hang around' as a verb phrase came into use and is still popular today, more than two centuries later! A 'big gun' was an important person then as now, but a 'bouncer' wasn’t a person who threw people out of private parties or nightclubs. In the 1830s, he was a bully. 'Ace high' meant excellent and 'proud' was used instead of glad. Boss was used for ‘the best’. It's come all the way back around, hasn't it? And I’ll 'fetch it directly' meant I’ll bring it soon. I also discovered a few phrases I’d never heard such as ‘blue at the mizzen’ – haughty – and ‘beat the devil around the stump’ - avoid doing something.
I had to know how they communicated back then – yikes, no phones, not even mail service to Texas. Letters were often given to travelers with no guarantees.
What about Texas during that time? Mexico called it Tejas and claimed it to be a part of Mexico, their ‘presidios’ kept order in the territory, but white settlers from the East were beginning to rebel and run them off. So much so that Mexican President Bustamonte made ‘No more White Settlers’ a law. One that white settlers ignored. Isn’t that interesting? Made me think of the scriptural principle, ‘what you sow, you will reap.’
I needed to know about Indians, tall the little towns in North East Texas and south to Jefferson then on to New Orleans. How they crossed rivers and creeks with the heavily loaded wagons was a mystery to me until I researched it. How they cooked, what they cooked, the games and toys children played with. I developed a document on the nineteenth century information through copy-and-paste that I still refer to often. I can’t imagine how authors of yesteryear did their research. I’m such a spoiled, twenty-first century, computer Grami with anything I need to know only a click away! And I am thankful to the Lord for that.