Sunday, November 27, 2011

Linda LaRoque and her novel A Marshal of Her Own

A Little History on the Feed sack
Life on the prairie for women in the 1800s was hard. Fabric was scarce so every available piece of cloth was used until it fell apart. When the backs of skirts wore out, the panel was either turned around, or the piece was cut out. Sometimes the garment was cut down to make a garment for one of the children. Material was never thrown away, but recycled until it could only be used for cleaning rags.
Until around the 1840s foodstuffs, as well as animal feed, were packed in boxes, barrels, and crates which made it hard for a farmer without a wagon to get from the store to home. When the sewing machine was invented, double lock stitching made it possible to sew fabric secure enough to keep from spilling. Bags of flour, feed, etc. could be loaded on a horse.
The first feed sacks were made of heavy white canvas printed with the name of the flour or other product. The farmer could bring empty bags back to be refilled. When mills in America began producing inexpensive cotton fabrics in the later 1800s, these cheaper fabrics were used.
Not as durable, they weren’t refillable so women used them for quilt pieces and to make dish towels, curtains, pillowcases, sheets, and other items for the home. The manufacturer’s name was stamped on the sack in vegetable dye so the homemaker could remove it, often a difficult chore, and return it to pristine whiteness. Humorous stories about garments made with the stamp remaining abound.
In 1925 manufacturers began to realize how popular these sacks were to women and started to compete to have the most desirable patterns and colors. Here is a picture of a print representing Gone With the Wind.
Soon pattern makers were creating patterns, even evening wear, specifically for feed sacks.
The Woman - August 1953 Cover: Olga Nicholas, photographed by Dirone Studios, wears a feed-bag formal and matching stole., McCall's pattern #9121. Jewelry by Trifari.
Women often gathered to trade pieces so they’d have enough for a dress or the quilt they were piecing. Imagine how valuable they were to homemakers during the depression. It was hard enough to manage to provide food, fabric was an extravagance.
My cousins and I loved the feed sack dresses our Aunt Jewell made for us. Grandma Riley saved the sacks until there was enough for a dress. There was one in particular I’ll never forget. It was a floral pattern with muted oranges and yellow, like a watercolor. The skirt was full and of course I wore a petticoat or two underneath. I have a picture but it isn’t in color and not sharp enough to post.
How about you? Did you ever wear feed sack dresses? If so, tell us about your favorite one. Feed sacks are in vogue again. Maybe you’re a crafter and enjoy making items to show off their unique characteristics.
A Marshal of Her Own – Blurb and Excerpt
Despite rumors of “strange doings” at a cabin in Fredericksburg, investigative reporter Dessa Wade books the cottage from which lawyer, Charity Dawson, disappeared in 2008. Dessa is intent on solving the mystery. Instead, she is caught in the mystery that surrounds the cabin and finds herself in 1890 in a shootout between the Faraday Gang and a US Marshal.
Marshal Cole Jeffers doesn’t believe Miss Wade is a time traveler. He admits she’s innocent of being an outlaw, but thinks she knows more about the gang than she’s telling. When she’s kidnapped by Zeke Faraday, Cole is determined to rescue her. He’s longed for a woman of his own, and Dessa Wade just might be the one—if she’ll commit to the past.
Dessa stood still and watched as they conversed. Something stank to high heaven about this entire situation. Why were the cops chasing robbers on horseback? It’s not like Fredericksburg was that isolated. She glanced at the captured men. The boy moaned, and she made a step to go over and help him. The Marshal spun, and the expression in his eye froze her in place.

 “He needs first aid.”

 “He’s fine. The Doc will tend to him when we get to the jail.”

 “You could at least call 911 and let them patch him up for you.” She nodded to the man lying so still with his eyes closed. “Your other prisoner doesn’t look so good. He’s going to die on you if you don’t start CPR or get him some help.”

“Lady, no one is going to hear a yell from out here. Never heard of any 911 or CPR.” He propped the hand not holding the shotgun on his hip and threw her a disgusted look. “Are you blind? That man is dead, shot through the heart.”

Her head swam for a moment, and she struggled not to give in to the sensation and faint. She drew in deep gulps of air. “Well...well..., what about the coroner and the meat wagon, not to mention the CSI folks? If you don’t get them to record the scene, how are you going to cover your butt? The authorities might say you shot him in cold blood.”

He looked at her like she’d sprouted an extra head. “I don’t know what the hell you are talking about woman. No one will question my authority. I’m the law in this county. Now, be quiet, or I’m going to gag you.”~*~*~*~

A Marshal of Her Own is now available at The Wild Rose Press,, Barnes and and other online book stores. It is the sequel to A Law of Her Own available at The Wild Rose Press,, and Barnes and and other online book stores. I’m awaiting a release date for A Love of His Own, the third story in the Prairie, Texas series.
  For my release contest for A Marshal of Her Own, I’ll be giving away this vintage typewriter pin.

To enter the drawing, go to my website or blog and sign up for my newsletter. If you already receive it, email me at with A Law of Her Own contest in the subject line.
Linda LaRoque is a Texas girl, but the first time she got on a horse, it tossed her in the road dislocating her right shoulder. Forty years passed before she got on another, but it was older, slower, and she was wiser. Plus, her students looked on and it was important to save face.
A retired teacher who loves West Texas, its flora and fauna, and its people, Linda’s stories paint pictures of life, love, and learning set against the raw landscape of ranches and rural communities in Texas and the Midwest. She is a member of RWA, her local chapter of HOTRWA, NTRWA and Texas Mountain Trail Writers. ~*~*~*
Thank you, Linda! Visitors, please leave a comment.
Today, Linda will be giving away an ecopy of A Law of Her Own.


  1. Welcome, Linda--well, we're getting to be real pals! Yes, my little sister and I had feed sack dresses. The one I remember most was probalby similar to yours. It had tiny pink and blue flowers on it, and I must have been around four..very small. But I remember sitting on my blind uncle's lap and asking him what color the flowers were on my dress. He'd feel the fabric between his forefinger and thumb, and guess..oh, maybe pink. I would just be amazed, and told him there was another color...of course, he chose blue. Why not? All little girls wore pink and blue.
    This brought back some good memories. I used the feed sack material in the book I'm starting to sell in a couple of weeks--Wish for the Moon.
    Thanks for being my guest today---

  2. Hi Linda, it is nice to learn new things about you today. I think we have a couple of pubs in common as well as several loops. And yes, I'm of the feed sack generation, too. At least, I have photos of my feed sack dresses when a toddler. My grandmother made them for me. I enjoyed your excerpt and wish you every success with your books. Linda, too.

  3. Thank you for having me here today, Celia. Yes, we are. We have a lot in common. What a sweet story about your uncle. I'm glad the material was helpful. I love finding interesting tidbits to add to stories.

    A friend of mine told me last week that when they went to the feedstore, they always liked the pattern on the sack on the very bottom. Their father had to shift all the bags to get the ones they wanted.

  4. Yes, we do, Linda. One thing I do remember about the feedsacks dresses that to look pretty they had to be starched and ironed. Oh, we're so spoiled today!

  5. I don't have any feed sack dresses in my past, but I loved hearing the story of them! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I was the feed sack generation, also. During the war when gas was rationed and shopping was Spartan, we used what we had.

    Many years later, in the 1990s, it became a fade, and I bought an orange and oatmeal blouse in a Caribbean Island gift shop.

  7. Wow! What great info on an item I never knew about. I'm a little too young to have worn feed sack clothing, but my mom once made matching dresses for my four sisters and I. We flew to grandma's on our first airplane, feeling like the Von Trap Family singers. LOL Thanks for sharing.

  8. Ah, Ute, you're just a youngster! I just love history and the tidbits we can find.

  9. Julie, we were going through my mother-in-laws things the other day and found food ration cards from the war.

  10. I hope you have pictures, Mackenzie! I bet you were a cute bunch and you received lots of sweet comments and smiles.

  11. Hello ladies. I've never worn a feedsack but they sound so scratchy! Any chance you might remember doing a 'sack race' at school. We used potato sacks which were definitely very scratchy but maybe they were more course than a feedsack? I love how people really did recycle in days past.

  12. Good Morning. I am learning so much about the historical Western lifestyle. I can't say I have ever worn a sack dress but I do know how handy they were when people shopped. If they bought flour or hay they all had to go into their own sacks, in which they had to bring it back. I never thought about fabric being scarce but I can believe it. I googled feed sack dress just to get a visual. It's interesting. Thanks for another great interview.

    Celia, Heart of a Hero has caught my eye. Very pretty cover :)


  13. Nancy, feedsack material of the 30s wasn't scratchy at all. You're thinking of the coarser fabrics of earlier times.

    Oh yes, I remember the potato sack races. Those bags were uncomfortable.

  14. So true, Na. They didn't have any other means of transporting supplies. We're so spoiled today and so wasterful when it comes to plastic bags, etc.

  15. Linda, I love the information you gave on feed sacks. I remember the sacks, but I don't remember if we had clothes made from them. An interesting post.

  16. Linda--you said that your friend said the one they wanted was always on the bottom of the stack. I wrote that exact thing in Wish for the Moon--Mama came home and told her daughter;"I needed one more sack to have enough for your dress, and it was on the bottom of the stuck. That dang that ol' Mr. Ezra..he told me to quit digging around, and I told him to mind his own cotton-picking business!"

  17. Very interesting post. I enjoyed reading it. :-)


  18. Your grandmother lived in town, didn't she, Sandy. Unless they lived in the country, you probably didn't wear them.

  19. LOL! Celia, how funny. That was a lot of toting and lifting. Of course, a girl back in those days wouldn't have any trouble. Heck, I probably wouldn't have then either. I will look forward to reading Wish for the Moon.

  20. I wore them, too, and my mom wore aprons. This was a great post!

  21. Absolutely fascinating thank you. I have never worn a feed sack dress. This is the ultimate in recycling, re-using, re-creating. I love to make things & my mind is buzzing right now.


  22. They made great aprons, didn't they, Liz? And dish towels!

  23. I'd love to see what you end up making, Marybelle. I used to sew all the time but haven't in a good while.

  24. My mom's family grew up pretty poor & I don't know if grandma ever made any clothes out of feed sacks, but I think she said the curtains in their kitchen were. My grandmother is the ultimate pack rat, who never throws anything away, because someone, someday might need it. Of course this means her apartment is packed to the rafters & she has 5 storage units in the complex, so she doesn't know where anything is to give the mysterious someone who wants it. The family is taking bets on how many dumpsters they will need to empty her apartment when she dies.

    drainbamaged.gyzmo at