Romancing History

My Fascination with the Oregon Trail & a Giveaway!

I’m pleased to welcome friend and fellow Pelican Book Group author, Kathleen Bailey, to Romancing History today. Kathleen’s debut novel, Westward Hope, released September 20, 2019. You can read my review here.

About the Book


Why him? Why here? Why now?

Caroline Pierce O’Leary expects to work hard to earn her passage to the Oregon Country. She doesn’t expect to find that the wagon train scout is a man with whom she shares a troubled past. Though Caroline is a Christian now, thanks to her late husband, she finds forgiving Michael to be the hardest part of her journey, harder even than the Trail.

Michael Moriarty thought he’d left his past behind in “green and hurting Ireland.” Seeing Caroline on his wagon train, brings his past to the forefront. With a price on his head, he doesn’t want her to get hurt, but he can’t deny what they were…and could still be.

Michael once betrayed Caroline in the worst possible way. Can she trust him to get her across the Oregon Trail? Can he trust himself to accept her forgiveness and God’s?

Westward Hope is available for purchase on Amazon


My Fascination with the Oregon Trail

Guest Post by Kathleen Bailey


It was the greatest mass migration the young country had ever seen. In 1843, more than 1,000 Americans packed or sold everything they owned, to travel to the storied West with nothing to protect them but a wooden farm wagon and a canvas roof. They endured searing heat, raging prairie storms, dangerous river crossings, hunger and thirst. Some were running away from something, some were running to something.

And every one of them had a story.

I’d been fascinated by the Oregon Trail era for a long time, and knew I had to write about it. As I pondered the phenomenon, two characters began to take shape. Caroline, a gently-bred, impoverished young widow staking her all on the Western journey, because she had nothing left. Michael, a silver-tongued Irishman, running from his “green and hurting” homeland and a crime he didn’t commit. I began to ask the writer’s questions, “What if?” and “Why not?”

Caroline (as portrayed by actress Olivia de Havilland) in my mind’s eye.

What if…the pair had a history, a history so monumental she had trouble forgiving him for it? What if…he’d left town to protect her, and hadn’t known the consequences of what they’d been to each other? What if…her first husband led her to the Lord, after she lost the Irishman’s baby, and she then lived life as a new creature in Christ? What if…the Irishman had never forgotten her, even as he criss-crossed the country as a wagon train scout, but he knew she’d be better off without him? And what if…they met again in a crowded hotel in St. Joseph, Missouri, and he was tasked with taking her West?

What if…they had to work together to combat the dangers of the Trail? And what if they knew they still loved each other, but she couldn’t be yoked to an unbeliever and he couldn’t get his mind around a God who loved him, no matter what?

Michael (as portrayed by actor Tom Selleck) in my mind’s eye.

Well, why not?

The Trail proved an excellent backdrop for this and more. It’s almost a third major character, as the emigrants threw themselves against a hostile environment every day for six months. Some people, especially women, went mad. Others formed cliques and bickered, like a small town on wheels.  Passions ran high, and people were lynched or almost lynched, if not for the wagon master. But still others found out what they were made of, found love forged in adversity, and found their God.

Oh, and the things they saw! Though rumors passed among the travelers that they would “see the elephant,” that fabled beast eluded them. But they viewed Chimney Rock, Castle Rock, and herds of buffalo thundering over the plains. They carved their names on Independence Rock. They saw strange plants, new animals as they pushed West. They courted and married and birthed. Some met Indians for the first time. And they kept journals, knowing that they were on the brink of something momentous.

I had trouble parting from Michael and Caroline, my characters in Westward Hope, and I rolled them over as supporting characters in the sequel, Settler’s Hope. But I had more trouble parting with the Trail itself, with the crates of research I’d amassed and the vastness of the undertaking. Are there other Trail stories to be written?

Well, why not?

“Westward Hope” is available from Pelican Book Group’s White Rose imprint. Visit Bailey is contracted for the second book in the “Western Dreams” series, and is at work on a sequel. A novella featuring two minor characters from “Settler’s Hope,” “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” will be part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza” this holiday season.

About the Author

Kathleen Bailey is a journalist and novelist with 40 years’ experience in the nonfiction, newspaper and inspirational fields. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s, a young adult in the 70s and a young mom in the 80s. It’s been a turbulent, colorful time to grow up, and she’s enjoyed every minute of it and written about most of it.


Authors enjoy connecting with readers. You can find Kathleen on Facebook and Twitter.

“Westward Hope” is available from Pelican Book Group’s White Rose imprint. Visit Bailey is contracted for the second book in the “Western Dreams” series, and is at work on a sequel. A novella featuring two minor characters from “Settler’s Hope,” “The Logger’s Christmas Bride,” will be part of Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza” this holiday season.


This Giveaway is now CLOSED!

Congratulations to out winner Stacy Meyers!

Kathleen is generously offering an eBook copy of Westward Hope and a gift pack of New England products to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell me how adventurous you are in the comments below. If you lived in the mid-19th century, would you be willing to pack up and follow the Oregon Trail west and in search of a new life? Why or why not?

**Giveaway ends 12a.m. (midnight) EST, Thursday October 10, 2019.**



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  1. Cindy Harris

    I would like to think I would be very adventurous, but who really knows until you’re actually in the situation? But as for me and my personal experiences, I believe I would go ANYwhere for the love of a good man. That man could be my daddy, my fiance who has already gone ahead of me, a husband, or even a brother who may be the only family I have. I think it would be a completely different situation in that era to travel only with females in tow, but if God led me, I would go wherever He wants & with whomever He provides.

    • romancinghistory

      I love this answer! Going where God leads us is always the right answer!

  2. Joan Arning

    I like to think I would have gone west but I’m really not a very adventurous person. The west appeals to me more than the east so maybe I would have!

    • romancinghistory

      I think it would be scary, too. I hope I’d have the courage to go!

  3. Cindy Scott

    First, I’d go anywhere with Tom Selleck!! I’m already a fan of Michael’s.

    I’m not sure I would have ventured by myself. if I was married and my husband wanted to go I would definitely be up for the adventure, hard work and all the possibilities the new life out west had to offer.

    • romancinghistory

      Ahhh, but would you take a stubborn little sister along with you if she wasn’t married and wanted to go???? LOL!

    • Cindy Scott, imagine Selleck with an Irish accent and a murky past.
      I wouldn’t go by myself by choice, but if I were at rock bottom like Caroline, what the hay, what more can life do to me? Definitely easier with a husband, and usually it was the man’s idea.

  4. Paula Marie

    I would absolutely have packed up and gone on the OT…..had I lived in that time…what an adventure!

  5. Stacy Myers

    I would absolutely pack up and head west. This is exactly the kind of book I want to see more of! My goal in life is to do one of the Oregon trail tours where you can actually go travel and live for a week on the trail. I look forward to reading this!!

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Stacy, I had no idea there were actually tours you could take to experience life on the OT! Now I soooo want to do that! When we were in Colorado a couple of years ago. There was a place we stopped by where you could actually still see the ruts in the ground from the wagons. All these years later the mass migration has till left a lasting mark on not only American culture but our topography as well. Good luck in the drawing!

    • Kelly and Stacy, I would love to do that too. It would give me the chills to stand at Independence Rock or a restored Fort Laramie. I live in New England and go to Lexington and Concord about once a year, and it humbles me to stand there and realize what took place on that hallowed ground. Dave and I just got back from San Antonio, we combined a family vacation with ACFW, and I got the same feeling standing on the Alamo grounds. We need to remember this stuff.
      Off to do Friday errands, may be back later. Stacy, thanks for stopping by.

    • I too am fascinated by the Oregon Trail. I like to think I would head off on the trail with a wagon train heading West, but I honestly don’t think I would have been brave enough. 😒

      • romancinghistory

        I feel you, Mandy. I’d like to think I’d have gone, too. I think some of my fears wouldn’t even exist though because I would have known a harsher life than I do now. It sure is fun to at least pretend I’d go!

      • Mandy, I hear you, this was the greatest challenge most of them would ever face. On the other hand, they had the skills to make it work.

  6. Kelly, thanks for hosting me! This has been a wild ride, and one I’ve looked forward to for a while. I’ve wanted to write books since I was 6 years old, and Michael’s and Caroline’s story made it a reality.
    I will be checking in this evening, tomorrow and over the weekend, and would be delighted to chat with anyone about the Trail, my book or anything else!
    Kathleen D. Bailey
    A Home For the Heart
    “Westward Hope,” Pelican, 2019

    • romancinghistory

      So glad to have you here and to help spread the word about Westward Hope!

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