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 where 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 always 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. Because the town is fictional, more leeway can be taken since the exact setting in my head is not settled to this day.
2. 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.
3. 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 of their kind.
4. 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. After all, there were towns that operated their own stages (or something similar) to keep mail and supplies moving into places where the trains did not go.
5. 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.
6. Some events in Gallagher’s Pride take the characters into some wilderness areas of Montana. Geographically, those areas would now fall in or near the modern-day Helena National Forest and Lolo National Forest, established in 1907 and 1906 respectively.
7. 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 as a matter of personal preference. Overgrazing, drought, and the harsh winter of 1886-1887 helped to end the practice of open range in Montana.
8. The telegraph is an often used form of communication in Gallagher’s Pride. In 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.
9. 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.
10. The character forenames in Gallagher's Pride, and throughout the series, are all given a great deal of thought to make sure the name matches the personality, or at least that's how it works in my head. As for the three siblings . . . Ethan shares a name with an old friend, Gabriel is a name that has stuck with me for a long time and one I always liked, and Eliza is a name from my family tree. In fact, Eliza Jane McClintock is her full name, and it is her surname I use in my pen name.
There's your bit of 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 I thought until I got to book four). I don't mind the time spent researching because it happens to be one of my favorite processes in writing my stories.
Be well, be kind, and enjoy a good book!
Note: I originally wrote this post for a 2012 tour stop at This Author's Life. It was updated January 9, 2021.