Gallagher’s Pride is a complete work of fiction and though very few real places or events are mentioned, there is still a history behind the story. These are tidbits I came across from my research, and though they may not all have a place in the book, the events are still a part of the story’s foundation, even where I took some liberties. Not to mention it was fun to learn something new.
1.The fictional town of Briarwood, Montana is actually set in an area north of the real city of Bozeman, originally platted in 1864, though mentioned in journals by William Clark from his 1806 travels.
2. On the evening of December 26, 1881, the first Utah and Northern Union Pacific train entered Butte, Montana; however in Gallagher’s Pride, the train doesn’t enter into Butte, but rather it’s implied that the train went into Bozeman.
3. The Umbria and her sister ship the Etruria were the last two liners of the period to be fitted with auxiliary sails. Umbria was built by John Elder & Co of Glasgow, Scotland in 1884. They were the largest liners then in service and they plied the Liverpool to New York route. Though a specific ship was not mentioned in Gallagher’s Pride for Brenna’s crossing to America, it is possible she would have traveled on one of these vessels.
4. The first cattle operation in Montana was likely in or around 1850 and operated by Johnny and James Grant whose ranch was sold to Conrad Kohrs in 1866 and later sold and is now The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site near Deer Lodge, Montana. The Gallagher’s ranch of the fictional Hawk’s Peak would have been established in the 1860’s making them some of the earliest ranchers.
5. September 2, 1883 marked the last stagecoach run in Montana, but I took some liberties with that in having the stagecoach run through October of 1883.
6. Brenna’s tutor mentioned early in the book was from London and she most likely would have traveled from London to Edinburgh on the Flying Scotsman, an express passenger train that ran between the two cities since 1862.
7. Some events in Gallagher’s Pride take the characters into some wilderness areas of Montana. Geographically, those areas would now fall into modern day Helena National Forest and Lolo National Forest, established in 1907 and 1906 respectively.
8. In the story, the Gallaghers used wood fencing on some of their borders though it would have been more likely they would have run wire to cover such a great expanse of acreage. Since I could find no evidence to suggest that wood fencing would have been impossible or unheard of, I opted for that over wire. Overgrazing, drought and the harsh winter of 1886-1887 helped to end the practice of open range in Montana.
9. The telegraph is an often used form of communication in Gallagher’s Pride. November 2, 1866, the telegraph came to Montana. "Montana is no longer an unknown Territory, hidden from the view of the country and the world by the Rocky and Wind River Mountains, but is united with civilization," editor Henry Blake of the Montana Post. The telegraph survived 150 years.
10. What’s in a name? The surname Gallagher has a long Gaelic heritage and is the Anglicisation of the Irish surname Ó Gallchobhair meaning ‘foreign helper’. It is the most common surname in Donegal, though the Gallagher family was born in America.
There's your bit of history trivia from Gallagher's Pride. One of the nice things about writing a series is that a lot of research for the first book means there won't be quite as much in the other books (or so we hope). I don't mind the time spent researching because it happens to be one of my favorite processes in writing my stories.
Images: purchased RF from Dreamstime. You may notice that the train image is in the GALLAGHER'S PRIDE book trailer.
Note: I originally wrote this post for a 2012 tour stop at This Author's Life.