Rural Life in the 1800’s

Last week I received my editor’s notes for revising the second Hickory Ridge romance, BEAUTY FOR ASHES. Many of the key events in this book take place on Carrie Daly’s farm. So this week I am pulling out my research photos to help me add even more details to my story. The pictures below were taken at the Sauer-Beckmann farm adjacent to President Johnson’s ranch in Stonewall, about 50 miles from my house here in Texas. This Hill Country farm was first settled in 1869. Johann and Christine Sauer built the original log and stone cabin, which they expanded as their family grew. Eventually the Sauers had ten children, one of whom, Augusta Sauer Lindig, served as the midwife at the birth of President Johnson.

In 1900, the Sauers sold the farm to Emil and Emma Beckmann who planted cotton. In 1915, a good crop yielded enough money for the Beckmanns to make extensive improvements to the farm, including a new barn and the pretty white Victorian house shown here.  The house remained in the Beckmann family until 1966 when it became a part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It retains the original light fixtures, woodwork, and wallpaper. Today the farm is maintained as a living history farm kept open for the public to tour and enjoy. Volunteers milk the cows, scrub clothes, grow, harvest, and preserve vegetables, make lye soap, butcher hogs and preserve the meat just as the owners did in the last century. The smokehouse shown here is the model for the one that catches fire in BEAUTY FOR ASHES.  I hope the details I gleaned from these pictures will make Carrie’s story come alive for you.

The handsome gentleman standing outside the barn is Ron,  my husband and travel partner who makes research trips even more fun. If there is a similar living history farm near you, please write and let us know. We’d love to visit someday.

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