Thursday, September 10, 2015

Guest Post- Nancy Herriman

Guest Post today is by Nancy Herriman. I am delighted to have her with us today.

First off, thanks, Shelley, for hosting me!

As I was thinking about this season of the year, I decided that I would share with you a little bit of autumn as experienced in the San Francisco area during the 1860s, which is the setting for my new mystery series. I like to think that by reading what people wrote at the time, we can step inside their heads and hearts, if but briefly.

First off, a snippet of a poem that was published in the Marysville (CA) Daily Appeal, October, 1867, author unnamed.

A golden haze conceals the horizon, A golden sunshine slants across the meadows; The pride and prime of summertime is gone, But beauty lingers in the autumn shadows.

The wild-hawk’s shadow fleets across the grass, Its softened gray the softened green outvying; And fair scenes grow fairer while yet they pass, As breezes freshen when the day is dying.

O sweet September! thy first breezes bring The dry leaf’s rustle and the squirrel’s laughter, The cool, fresh air, whence health and vigor spring, And promise of exceeding joy hereafter.

Rather pretty, I think.

For a state with an excellent climate for growing, much attention was paid to gardens and farming. From the California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences (Sept. 1869) came the following advice:

‘Those who have grown bulbous and tuberous roots should have all such taken up and divided, the largest and strongest main roots saved for planting again in the borders and the offsets to be planted in separate beds or boxes for future planting out. Lilies, gladiolas, hyacinths, tulips, crocus, anemones, tuberoses, dahlias, peonies, etc.’

People were advised to soon plant grape seed, tend to their apples, and get new trees in the ground if they lived in the mountains. In September of 1861, the same newspaper extolled the beauty of a new hybrid tea rose with pink-and-cream petals, the General Washington. In Sonoma County, the October grape harvest was being anticipated, California vineyards and wine production having become established in the northern counties, such as Sonoma and Napa, not longer after the gold rush began in 1849.

In early September, 1867, newspapers were full of advertisements for the California State Fair, taking place in Sacramento. Half-price train excursion tickets were being sold to encourage visits, and on September 11, a reporter for the Daily Alta reported: ‘The weather Is charmingly cool and pleasant. The Fair is brisk and prospering, and is to be continued into the middle of next week. Fresh arrivals from San Francisco came up to-day.’

And lastly, I thought I would close with an autumnal recipe from Mrs. Ellis’s Complete Cook, first published in 1866, for apple fritters. Not exactly a low calorie food item.

‘APPLE FRITTERs.—Take four or five tart, mellow apples, pare and cut them in slices, and soak them in sweetened lemon juice. Make a batter of a quart of milk, and a quart of flour, eight eggs, —grate in the rind of two lemons, and the juice, and apples. Drop the batter by the spoonful into hot lard, taking care to have a slice of apple in each fritter.’
A blurb about No Comfort for the Lost:

In gritty 1860s San Francisco, nurse Celia Davies learns that one of her patients, a young Chinese girl, has been found dead in the bay. Not one to sit idly by, Celia convinces the detective assigned to the case, Civil War veteran Nick Greaves, to allow her to assist his inquiry. But as their search for the murderer takes them from Chinatown’s squalid back alleys to the Barbary Coast’s violent streets to the city’s gilded parlors, Celia and Nicholas begin to suspect that someone close to them holds the key to a deadly conspiracy. One that might get them both killed.


Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. Her work has won the RWA Daphne du Maurier award, and the first book in her ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series, No Comfort for the Lost (NAL), was chosen as the Library Journal August Pick of the Month. When not writing, she enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. She currently lives in Central Ohio.

You can read an excerpt and find out more at:


  1. I really enjoyed this book, especially it's setting in post-Civil War San Francisco. I never realized the degree of animosity toward the Chinese laborers at that time, and was glad that Celia and Nick were there to investigate a murder case that a majority of people did not consider worth pursuing.

  2. Mmmm.... apple fritters! I'm really more of a spring girl, but you make autumn sound appealing! And I love this book!


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