Mornings at Character Cafe — featuring Lottie from the Brides of Pelican Rapids series

Welcome to Character Café, Miss Charlotte Kennedy.

Oh, I’d be obliged if you’d call me Lottie.  We don’t hold to formalities these days, as much as my Pa wishes it weren’t so.  Pa would like to pretend the War of Rebellion never took place, Magnolia Glen wasn’t stripped of all its silver and jewelry, Mama’s fine china was never smashed, the great barn burned – and everything else took place when the blue coats came through. 

What a shame! Though I would totally have been on the Union side, what devastating losses took place for both the Union and Confederates during the Civil War.  I can only imagine the aftermath.

Oh, the battles continue – in our plantation home.  If Pa ever knew how many socks Mama knitted and sent the Union soldiers…  Well, already, they argue so much over Mama being an abolitionist.  She’s from Philadelphia,  you know.  Why she takes the railway to stay with relatives for months at a time just to keep the peace! 

Somewhere I heard that your father is an Irish immigrant.  How in the world did he end up being a plantation owner and keeping slaves prior to the war? 

That’s the irony of it all. Wait until I tell you this story I have heard Pa tell hundreds of times.  He and his brothers were barely making a go in Philadelphia as young men, having left Ireland due to the potato blight.  One night he and his brothers took dinner in an establishment where Paul Revere, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams had once made their headquarters.  Before they entered, my Uncle Walter asked my father to pray because all three were struggling with their faith, times being so hard as Irish immigrants in Philadelphia.  Uncle Walter said, “You pray, William.  Yer faith be stronger right now than ours, but we’ll be believin’ with ye.”

Oh, I love that.  Reminds of one of my favorite Bible verses, when the father of the dying child cried out, ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,’ in Mark 9:24.  And oh my!  Who would think a southern belle could be so adept at imitating Irish brogue?

My father still has a delightful accent, so it’s not surprising.  Getting back to the story, my pa indeed prayed right outside of the tavern.  And in the middle of their supper, a man who had been playing whist one table over was called home for an emergency.  He asked Pa if he would like to take over his hand – and said he could keep all the earnings.

Was your father a gambler?

Not at all!  He only knew how to play Boston Whist from having watched his employer play.  But two hours later, by the grace of God and the inebriation of the three gentlemen, he held a promissory note for the house and farmland where I was born and raised.


Yes.  I only wish my father still had the same faith.  He has become quite embittered after having lost so much.  He won’t stop fussing about the hand-painted trunks Yankees found in their bedroom closet and absconded.  I don’t know exactly what was in them, but they were so lovely.  My mother painted them herself – maybe it’s why their loss bothers him so.

What a shame!  Changing the subject, you are such a beauty, Lottie.  How is it you are still single?  Forgive me for asking, but did you lose your love in the war?

Yes.  Forgive me for getting teary.  I was engaged to Ryan Hill, a charming and handsome man,  from a nearby plantation.  It has been three years since the war ended, and he never returned home.  Recently his family had a ceremony to lay his memory to rest.  Ryan was the love of my life, but I have decided I have to move on with my life.  So I have done something my parents will not agree with a bit.

What did you do?

I wrote to Miss Ella Milton, the proprietress of a mail-order bride agency in Ottertail County, Minnesota, and asked her to find me a suitable match. 

How brave.  I am stunned.  I mean, don’t you think if you were patient, you would be able to meet someone in the Atlanta area?

No.  I really don’t.  So many of our young men were killed in battle.  And I wouldn’t dare to bring a carpetbagger home.  Pa would run him off with a shotgun.  Pa has become just about unbearable to live with, and I want a home and family of my own.  So tomorrow, I am sneaking off with my maid Corabelle, and we are boarding the train to start our journey to Pelican Rapids, Minnesota.  There I will meet the man Miss Ella has chosen for me, Captain Caleb Brooks, a Yankee officer. 

You will be glad you are in Minnesota when your father gets word, I am sure.  Best wishes for your travels.  And I hope Captain Brooks will be great husband material.

Miss Ella has assured me he is handsome and kind.  She prays over each match and has an assurance our marriage will be blessed. It will be hard for me to marry someone other than the man I love, but God never promised life would be easy, did He?

‘In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world!’ I hope you don’t have too much trouble, though.  But I have a feeling you have some surprises in store – and maybe some mysteries to solve.  Perhaps involving your parents’ precious trunks.

We shall see. 

What can I get you from our menu before you head off to a new life in Minnesota?

Well, in my last letter from Captain Brooks, he said his favorite foods were fried chicken, beef stew, ham, and apple pie.  So if you have any of those, perhaps it would help put me in the right state of mind for my journey.

I have the perfect combination for you!  Red Rose Caramel Apple Tea is one of my favorite teas.  I like it better than the more expensive apple teas.  Here is the sale link:

And wait until you try the Brie Tea Sandwich with Smoked Ham and Apples from Plum Deluxe!

I cannot wait!  Thank you for your hospitality, Amy!

Readers, Lottie’s True Love is the first book in the Brides of Pelican Rapids series.

Over the next few months, I will be breakfasting with other women who used Miss Ella’s services to try to better their lives.  And this summer, I will have the pleasure of introducing you to my own mail-order bride as I join the lovely authors of the series with a tale of a Virginian apothecary’s daughter.  My heroine was devastated by the Panic of 1873 and decides she must become a mail-order bride so she would no longer be a burden to her brother and his family. 

If you have any questions about the series – or even any suggestions as far as what you would love to see in my upcoming Pelican Rapids novel, leave a comment here on my blog.  Commenters will be entered into a drawing for a GIVEAWAY of a Pelican Rapids novel of your choice!  

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