Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Historic Texas hotels inspire stories


The hero in my western historical romance, SEDUCTION, owns a lavish hotel with all the modern amenities available to a small town of the late 1870s in the old west. My inspiration for his hotel came from hearing family stories about various hotels, mostly in Texas where my great grandfather worked as manager in the late 1800s.

Recently I heard on the Texas news channel that the famous Tremont Hotel in Galveston is reopening after the completion of needed remodeling following last summer's destructive hurricane. The name Tremont Hotel struck a chord with me, so I checked a story about my great grandfather. Of all the hotels he managed he did not work at the Tremont, but my great great grandfather was connected to the first Tremont Hotel in Galveston. The Tremont Hotel recently remodeled is the third Tremont Hotel on Galveston according to the article I read at The Handbook of Texas Online.

My great grandfather worked at the Rice Hotel in Houston, however, and that's where he met his wife, the daughter of the grandfather connected to the Tremont Hotel and later the Rice Hotel in Houston. That in itself is enough to inspire a romance story for me, but there are more hotels my great grandfather managed that also inspire me. He managed the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. He managed a small hotel in Wooten Wells, Texas. There's a story.

Wooten Wells has a "build it and they will come" history. A young married couple settled there and discovered their well water turned everything either yellow or red. At first discouraged, they soon discovered the water was mineral water with wonderful curative properties. When the news got out, people flocked to Wooten Wells to bathe in the mineral water baths which the man built with the help of friends. He built houses and hotels for people to stay in, and businesses popped up as the area turned into a health resort. I won't tell you the rest of the story. You can read about it online.

My great grandfather later managed the Vogel Hotel in Dallas before taking a job with a company in El Paso. I have a copy of a menu he wrote for one day's dinner meal at a hotel named the Carson and Lewis House. I believe it was in New Orleans, and may have been associated with the St. Charles Hotel there. If anyone has any information on the Carson and Lewis House, I would love to hear it. The menu gives dinner as 12 to 2 p.m. and starts with soup, okra and tomato. Fish follows with hot salmon, roast beef, chicken with dressing, venison pie, and corn bread. Vegetables include Irish sweet potatoes, turnips, onions, rice and green peas. It lists relishes, pastry of peach cobbler and dessert with apple cake, cheese, oranges, and raisins. Beverages include coffee, iced tea, and buttermilk. The cost is seventy-five cents. This can be
helpful information for historical fiction writers of stories about the old west in the late 1800s.

Food and meals are often mentioned in romances. Meals provide an opportunity to reveal something important about the characters in the story. In all of my stories this year, including SEDUCTION, available now, and ARE YOU GOING TO THE DANCE, coming soon July 31, meals are prepared and enjoyed by the characters in various scenarios ranging from dangerous to frivolous. I hope my readers will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

I'll be drawing someone's name from my newsletter members for a copy of one of my stories in July. So please visit my web site where you can sign up for my newsletter.

http://www.JeanmarieHamilton.com/

I'd love to read your comments or answer your questions about Historic Texas Hotels.

28 comments:

Paty Jager said...

It's always fun to be able to in corporate family history into your books. What fun information. Thanks, Jeanmarie!

Liz Carmack said...

I enjoyed reading about your family connection to historic Texas hotels. I did quite a bit of research into these wonderful places for my book, Historic Hotels of Texas: A Traveler's Guide, which was released by Texas A&M University Press in 2007. More than 60 historic hotels remain open today. Each has a fascinating story (and often many stories!) to tell. The Tremont in Galveston is nice but my favorite on the island is the Hotel Galvez, which is the state's only remaining grand beach resort hotel.

Thanks for spreading your knowledge and love for Texas historic hotels through your writing and good luck with your book!

Liz Carmack
www.historictexashotels.com

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Paty,
Thank you for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog on historic hotels and writing. Hope it helps you.

Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Liz,
Great to read your comment. Thanks for mentioning your book on historic hotels. Good to know. and I'll be looking for a copy!
Thanks for coming by!

Jeanmarie

Isabel Roman said...

Jeanmarie, I always love hearing about your family's connections to Texas history. This is great, thanks for sharing!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

How fun to use your family stories as basis for your own, Jeanmarie. The menu sounds fabulous - wouldn't have minded trying a meal there myself.

We have the Cary House in our town. It was built in 1857 and still an operating hotel. It does host a couple of ghosts though.

Really enjoyed reading your blog.

Diana Cosby said...

Jeanmarie,
I love that you're so interested and actively pursue your heritage, more so that in inspires your storie. Your passion for your past makes each book more special. I wish you every success!

Diana Cosby
www.dianacosby.com
Romance Edged With Danger

Caroline said...

This is kind of off topic but has anyone else experienced that restaurants as in dinner houses, Saltgrass, Chilies, On The Border, in Texas are ALWAYS packed. I've traveled to Texas for the past ten years for work and am always amazed. Even at eleven o’clock at night!

Jeanmarie--Love the history and connection to your family. Very fun post. Enjoyed it immensely.

~Caroline

Caroline said...

This is kind of off topic but has anyone else experienced that restaurants as in dinner houses, Saltgrass, Chilies, On The Border, in Texas are ALWAYS packed. I've traveled to Texas for the past ten years for work and am always amazed. Even at eleven o’clock at night!

Jeanmarie--Love the history and connection to your family. Very fun post. Enjoyed it immensely.

~Caroline

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

It's amazing what falls out when you shake that old family tree! Having your inspiration there is wonderful.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Isabel,
Great to see you! I'm happy you enjoyed the blog. Thanks for coming by. :-)

Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Paisley,
How cool that your hometown hotle has a couple of ghosts! I'll have to do some research and find out if any of my great grandfather's hotels have ghosts.
Thanks for coming by!
Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Diana,
Hey! Thanks for taking time to drop by. You know, researching the family past is sometimes like reading a good book. ;-)

Jeanmarie

Mary J. Forbes said...

Great post, Jeanmarie! I love history, and am always hugely interested to see how it relates to people I know. :)

Mary JF.
www.MaryJForbes.com

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Caroline,
Thanks for coming by. Great to have you here. And yes, places in Texas are always packed. Must be the spicey menu. :-)

Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Gwynlyn,
Hi! I love your comment about shaking family trees. ;-)
It's always food for "what if".

Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Mary,
Hi! Great to have you come by! :-)

Yes, I'm always amazed and intrigued when I discover my family has a connection to some place or historical happening. Sort of like standing beside dinosaur tracks. The past comes alive. :-)

Jeanmarie

Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Jeanmarie. My new WIP is set in 1870 in various locations on the U.S. East coast, so your info is helpful.

Don't include me in the drawing, though, 'cause I've already got your stories and enjoyed Seduction. Great read!!

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

Hi Jeanmarie, I'm always impressed by your knowledge of family lore. It makes me curious to look into mine. Loved Seduction, by the way. :-)

Jane

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Susan, hi!
I'm so glad my blog gave you some help for your story. Cool! And I love that you enjoyed reading Seduction! Thanks!

Jeanmarie

Cindy Procter-King said...

This is really cool, Jeanmarie. You should write a series of historicals revolving around hotels!

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Jane,
I hope you can take time out from your busy writing schedule to do some research into your family. I have found great grandparents and great great grandparents to be the most interesting. :-)
And I'm so happy you loved Seduction!
Thanks!
Jeanmarie

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Cindy!
Yeah! I was thinking of all kinds of romance plots that could take place.
And of course I'd need to spend at least one night in each hotel to give an accurate description of it. What a fun trip. :-)
Jeanmarie

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading about the hotels in Texas. We have a lot of famous historic hotels here in Arizona and most of those have a ghost along with them.
One of the beautiful old ones is the Gadsen Hotel in Douglas that was built by rich cattlemen before Arizona was a state. It has the original imported Italian marble floors and authentic Tiffany glass windows in the lobby. Some of the famous people that stayed there were Anna Pavlova, John Phllip Sousa, ad Ginger Rogers.
Another old hotel with a ghost roaming around it was the Grand Hotel In Jerome. It was built in the days of mining in the area, and withstood blasts and is still standing. Little was done to refurbish it since it wasso sturdily built. The Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff was built with the money Zane Grey made from selling his western story Below The Mogollon Rim.
JOYE
JWIsleyAT aol.com

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Joye,
Thanks for coming by. I found your comments about Arizona historic hotels intriguing. I've visited Jerome. What an amazing place. And Douglas was frequented by my grandfather and great grandfather on business trips. :-) I haven't seen the historic hotel in Douglas, however, and I'd love to see it. Great idea for a weekend trip. Thanks!

My western historical romance, Seduction, takes place in a fictional small town in late 1870s Arizona, and the hotel in that story is based on some of the grand old buildings I've visited.

Jeanmarie

Virginia said...

Great info here! I have never been to Texas but would love to visit sometime. I love reading books set in Texas, so that's how I travel there. Thanks for sharing with us!

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Hi Virginia!
Thanks for coming by!
I like stories that take place in Texas too. All of my novellas soon to be published and in the works take place in Texas in the Hill Country. I have one full length western historical in the polishing stage that takes place in Texas. I hope you'll check out Are You Going to the Dance? my novella in the anthology, Northern Roses and Southern Belles, out on July 31.
Great to have you here! :-)
Jeanmarie

Caroline Clemmons said...

It's great that you have so much family history and great that you use it in your writing. What a treasure trove you have!