A Tour of 1880s Philadelphia

A Tour of 1880s Philadelphia

Counterfeit Truth and Counterfeit Faith take place in Philadelphia, and while so much of the city has stayed the same, much of it has changed. In this tour, I’m sharing pictures of settings from Counterfeit Faith during my whirlwind two-day tour of Philadelphia. First off, did you know that Philadelphia is only two miles from river to river? I couldn’t believe how much they had cram-packed into that little space, but WOW. So, in reality, the majority of my story took place within two square miles. That really just blows my mind. So let’s take off.

Of course, Carpenters Hall was under construction when I went.

The Philadelphia Library, where Josiah first laid eyes on Gwendolyn as he came down those stairs.

Carpenters Hall is where we must start our tour because, of course, that is where Gwendolyn first starts out waiting for Mr. Farwell. You might have caught on to my intentional pun with his name if you’ve read the book. Poor Mr. Farwell must say farewell during the story, and I just couldn’t help myself. Nothing about Independence Park is the same as when Counterfeit Faith took place. In 1885, Carpenter Hall sat in the center of a city block surrounded by other businesses and buildings. There were a couple of alleys to access it, but there was no direct view. If you notice the cobblestone part of the walkway, that was approximately the size of the entrance between buildings to access Carpenters Hall.


It was while leaving this building that Josiah first laid eyes on Gwendolyn. It’s a good thing he did too, and more importantly, he noticed Quincy’s knife blade. It was at this location that everything was set into motion for two people to come together to rescue at-risk children, find love, and face more than their share of danger.  For a woman who is used to being ignored or having to rescue herself, Josiah’s heroic intervention sets her heart aflutter and stirs dreams of romance that she’d long thought dead. Personally, I was a little giddy getting to stand on these steps and imagine the heroic rescue as it occurred. Of course, some of the buildings have been moved, and things don’t look 100% the way they did, but it was close enough to really enjoy the experience.


Houses that look like Josiah’s would have.

While the gorgeous houses on Arch Street described in the book no longer exist, I did see some houses that are similar in style. They’re larger than some of the other homes I found, and they had those stoops, shutters, and arched doorways that I was looking for. It was the best match I could find, and my mind relished imagining Josiah and Gwendolyn conversing on those steps.


Josiah worked for the Secret Service, which had offices in the unfinished City Hall building. When Josiah was there, the tower would not have been finished yet, nor would the giant William Penn statue have been on display. He worked in the judicial wing, and his office was hidden behind numbers without signage. He would have taken one of the sets of floating stairs to get to his floor of the building. These were such an architectural phenomenon that Wanamakers, the department store across the street, sold pamphlets and tours to show off those stairs. As you can see below, no supports are beneath it, just solid pieces of granite worked into the wall. Originally I had Josiah nervous to walk on them, but after having walked them myself, I knew Josiah wouldn’t have had a problem. They are so beautiful and fascinating I had to include pictures of all three views of the stairs.

Going back to Wanamaker. I don’t know if you caught it in the story, but Wanamaker’s was the department store where Gwendolyn’s mother and aunt worked. It was one of the first of its kind, offering set prices, return policies, various departments, artwork as fine as you would find in a gallery, and service for all levels of customers. Wanamaker was a brilliant man who helped to change the way people shopped. No more dickering and haggling over prices. Everyone paid the same price for the same item. Wanamaker’s no longer exists, but the store is now a Macy’s. Believe it or not, Wanamaker made the bold move of buying a former train station to turn it into his department store. I’m not sure if this location was the original train station location, but it’s definitely taller than it would have been in 1885. Those other floors were added later.


I’ll end my tour with a nod to Felicity from Counterfeit Truth. One of my big goals of this trip was to eat a Philadelphia pretzel . . . but apparently, they aren’t as big now as they were during Felicity’s time. The ONE pretzel I found was a sore disappointment that had to be rectified by going to my favorite pretzel place when I got home. However, the Reading Market (I think?) DID have some chocolate ice cream for me to sample from Bassetts that I must heartily agree is amazing. The whole time I ate that giant cone, I thought of Felicity eating ice cream with Mr. Cochran. If you haven’t read that book yet, you can download a free copy by joining my newsletter or purchasing it on Amazon.


A Tour of Counterfeit Hope’s Story World

A Tour of Counterfeit Hope’s Story World

Why would I set a counterfeiting romantic suspense story in rural Indiana? As usual, research is the answer.

I discovered an article from 1883 describing the successful arrest of the Honchins (or Houchins, depending on the resource) gang by a joint effort of the Secret Service and US Marshals. The gang was responsible for not only counterfeiting but killing stock, stealing, and terrorizing the citizens with threats, insults, and violence. Even the local police were afraid to stand up against them. Stendal was the original town I was going to use, but I ended up creating a sister town next to Stendal so that I could set up the building locations and population to better suit my needs. While the original undercover Secret Service operatives spent months covering three or more counties, I needed to focus my area a little more confined for the sake of plotting. Below you can find information on two real locations from the story, including pictures of my visit to the real Stendal.

Stendal, IN

Stendal owes its beginnings to the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church which was formed in 1861. Services were held in members’ homes until 1864, when a church was built. In 1867, Reverend William G.C. Bauermeister became the first resident pastor. Land was donated to form the town, and he named it Stendal after his birthplace in Saxony.

As is usually the case with rural locations, modern-day Stendal is a shadow of the town it once was. While it was always small compared to other areas, it was once a booming little town. This was largely due to Stendal being many miles from any railroad or waterway with nearly impassible roads and trails, making it necessary to be a self-contained town.

From: A History of Lockhart Township by McKinley Hagemeyer

“Stendal at one time had a tobacco barn, a cooper’s shop, cobbler’s shop, two furniture and casket factories, two blacksmith shops, a millinery, a wagon works, a brickyard, a livery stable, a gristmill, a sawmill, a creamery, a flour mill, a canning factory, three churches, three doctors, an undertaker, a barber shop, a saddle and harness shop, and, of course, few towns would be self-contained without a saloon and hotel. Stendal had those too. The same causes which brought these industries drove them away: bad roads, poor transportation, plus another, automation. When the need for them passed, they too surrendered to progress.”
Photos of my trip to Stendal and photos of Stendal’s glory days.

Boonville, IN

One of my favorite parts of the Boonville setting was visiting the Boonville Jail. Well, visit it in fiction. I never had the pleasure of visiting it in real life. I know there was a big push to have the building restored in 2019, but there have been no more posts from the group pushing for it since then.

The Boonville Jail

The Warrick County Jail was built in 1876 and was state-of-the-art for its time. I had running water for sinks, toilets, and showers. The cells were made of straight and corrugated iron bars. The building had a large yard surrounding it and large windows with glazed glass. The jail was built in two sections. The main level of the front part held a food pantry, kitchen, parlor, and main hall. The upstairs was used as living quarters for the sheriff and his family and space to hold female prisoners. From my understanding, the kitchen had a steel door barrier to the prisoners, and it was the responsibility of the sheriff and his family to cook and serve meals to the prisoners. Meals were cooked for the prisoners and delivered to their cells.

The back half was one and a half stories tall with 12 prison cells. It had high arched ceilings for airflow and to prevent escape attempts. In each lighted and ventilated cell, there were two bunks, a sink, and a toilet. The walls were 22 inches thick and plated on the inside with boiler iron.  Below are a few pictures of the jail.

Here are some pictures of Boonville back in the 19th century.







Read Counterfeit Truth for Free

Read Counterfeit Truth for Free

There is a lot to be thankful for this month, and one of those things is the fact that Counterfeit Truth, my Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age novella prequel is out in the world. If you like historical romance with a good dose of danger, swoony Secret Service heroes in pursuit of counterfeiters, and feisty independent women who get in the way, you’ll want to check out this series. And you can stick your toes in the water with this novella.
While you can buy it on Amazon, you can get it FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Just sign up on the sidebar or bit.ly/CaudillNews. This is a great way to try my writing without having to spend a penny. My newsletters go out only once a month, and I pray over every subscriber on that list while striving to make them beneficial to you. I hope to see you there and have the opportunity to get to know you better.

Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age Series:

Counterfeit Truth – Novella Prequel

Read for Free by subscribing HERE. Already a subscriber? Click HERE.

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She wants to prove the Secret Service is corrupt. He just wants to keep her safe.

Felicity Richmond is determined to prove her place at her male-dominated family newspaper. If Father wants a story on the Secret Service’s corruption, then that’s what she’ll get him—at any cost. But Gregory Thompson is willing to kill rather than be exposed. When her plan to catch him goes horribly wrong, her rescue comes in the form of Secret Service operative Hayden Orton. The one man she longs for but can never have.

Hayden Orton nearly had former operative Thompson in his grasp . . . until Felicity interfered. Now it’s his responsibility to keep her out of the way until Thompson is arrested. Disguising her protection as a chance at an exclusive story, he invites her to join him on an investigation of the Philadelphia Mint robbery.

But Felicity isn’t content to just observe. As they work together—and at odds—to discover the culprit, Felicity stirs up trouble and emotions that leave Hayden wondering if finding the truth might cost him more than he’s ready for.

Counterfeit Love – Book 1 – Available Now

*To purchase a signed copy or request a signed bookplate, use the contact form to email me.
Add to “Want to Read List”: BookBub | Goodreads
Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves–or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he’s been sent to track down?

After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name–and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors’ threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn’t all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home–and the truth.

After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a notorious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiancée is connected. Can he really believe the woman he loved is a willing participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career–but that’s better than failing her twice in one lifetime.

They must form a partnership, tentative though it is. But there’s no question they’re both still keeping secrets–and that lack of trust, along with the dangerous criminals out for their blood, threatens their hearts, their faith, and their very survival.

Combining rich history, danger, suspense, and romance, Crystal Caudill’s debut novel launches this new historical series with a bang. Fans of Elizabeth Camden, Michelle Griep, and Joanna Davidson Politano will be thrilled to find another author to follow!

Counterfeit Hope – Book 2 – Releases 2/14/2023, Preorder Available Now

*To purchase a signed copy or request a signed bookplate, use the contact form to email me.
Add to “Want to Read List”: BookBub | Goodreads
Trapped by their pasts, is there hope for a future?

When Secret Service operative Andrew Darlington is brought in to support a US Marshal case involving counterfeiters in rural Indiana, he thinks it’s simply the next rung on his climb to the top of his career. But liars can only climb so high–and Andrew is keeping a dangerous secret he doesn’t ever want to get out. When he clashes with the criminal family that took over the town of Landkreis and killed the Marshal he was sent to assist, his past life is in danger of being exposed.

Widow “Lightning Lu” Thorne has only one goal: escape the clutches of the Thorne family with her son. Her decision to be an informant and testify against the Thornes looked like the perfect answer. Until the Marshal ended up dead. Now the tether keeping her tied to her felonious family is tightening, and a forced marriage to someone else in the Thornes’ clutches threatens to kill any hope of escape.

Andrew and Lu find themselves on the same team–unwillingly. They each believe the other to be the enemy to their future plans. And even if they could learn to work together, the secrets they hold could shatter all hopes and dreams. Despite the encouragement of the local preacher, they’re not even sure God can be trusted–much less other humans. Can either of them escape their past–and the family that is willing to kill their own when they smell betrayal?

On the heels of her smashing debut, this second entry in Crystal Caudill’s historical series maintains the excitement that readers of Michelle Griep, Liz Tolsma, and Elizabeth Camden will love.

We Three Kings Christmas Novella Collection – Tentatively Called “Star of Wonder” – Coming Fall 2023

(Unofficial blurb) Josiah Isaacs’s younger sister, Celestia, knows what she wants for Christmas, a proposal from her friend and fellow astronomy club member, Aldrich Weise. With an entire Christmas-themed voyage from New York to Germany, she has no doubt she can convince him.

News from Germany destroyed Aldrich’s plans for a future with Celestia. Now the two-week voyage he’d long looked forward to sharing with her would be a painful reminder of all he’d soon lose. How was he to protect his heart while still working closely with her brother to discover the counterfeiter lurking aboard his ship?

When exposing the counterfeiter takes a dangerous turn, more than hearts are at risk. Can Aldrich and Celestia survive and hold fast to hope for a Christmas miracle of a future together?

Counterfeit Faith – Book 2 – Coming Early 2024

(Unofficial Blurb)

She’s lost her faith in man. He’s lost his faith in God. Can working together restore their faith?

As matron of Final Chance House of Refuge, Gwendolyn Ellison has dedicated her life to serving the children society has deemed criminal delinquents. When she suspects someone within is using the children for criminal purposes, only one man on the board believes her and is willing to investigate. On the same day he’s murdered, a gallant hero rescues Gwendolyn from being abducted at knifepoint, but not before those involved threaten her family if she continues to investigate. She won’t leave the children defenseless, but who can she trust to help?

Widower and Secret Service operative Josiah Isaacs can’t turn his back on a woman in trouble, but neither can he commit to one when his heart remains faithful to his deceased wife. When a green goods game is tied to the house of refuge where Miss Ellison works and his nieces and nephew are housed, he reluctantly agrees to partner with her to expose the criminals before more children are hurt despite his immediate attraction to her.

As they work together and their relationship grows, Josiah wonders if marrying again might be in his future. However, with the ghost of his wife between them, Gwendolyn isn’t convinced. When evil prevails, her faith in God challenges his doubts. But can he really trust the God who didn’t save his wife to save the children and Gwendolyn?

The Gilded Age: What is it really?

The Gilded Age: What is it really?

It’s release month for Counterfeit Love and I thought it might be fun to share some of my behind-the-scenes research of the Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series. I’ll also be running a giveaway all month long with each Counterfeit Love / Secret Service post for your chance to win one of three prizes. Read through this post to the bottom to discover the details.

What is the Gilded Age?

When most people think of the Gilded Age, they generally think of the lavishly rich, fancy ball gowns and dinners, and New York. However the Gilded Age is so much more complex than that, and that’s why I love to write during this era.

The Gilde Age is actually a term coined by the ever sarcastic and famous satirical writer, Mark Twain, in a book he collaborated with Charles Dudley Warner on called The Gilded Age. The term Gilded Age was meant as a jab at the gross materialism and political corruption of his time. While everything was glittering, beautiful, and elegant on the surface, the moment one scratched at it, they’d discover gross corruption at the core. On a caricature level, the late 19th century was a period of massive immigration, socio-economic turmoil, rapacious Robber Barons, unscrupulous speculators, corporate buccaneers, shady business practices, scandal-plagued politics, and vulgar displays of materialism and wealth. This is one of the reasons why I love this era. It is so complex and intricate that I just never want to leave studying it.

While most people expect stories of the wealthy and elite when seeing “Gilded Age,” I love to take a look at it from the experiences of the varied classes and their experiences. There was a dark underbelly to the Gilded Age, and I love to explore it. However, I do like to see it from the perspective of the rich as well. It is like examing two very different worlds, and I find it incredibly fascinating.

A Period of Transition

During the 1870s, society as a whole was transitioning from largely agrarian to industrial–in part due to the repercussions of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, and in part due to the massive innovations brought on by the Industrial Revolution. Many farmers and immigrants shifted to big cities to work in the factories that provided steady work and steady pay. The way businesses operated transformed and cooperations emerged with a focus on gaining the most profit possible at the cost of others. Labor unrest was a constant issue during the Gilded Age as corporations were treated as people rather than businesses, an especially terrible slap in the face to now freed slaves who were people but had only been considered property.

This was a period where Robber Barons emerged–people who because rich through often ruthless and unscrupulous business practices. Of course, not everyone who became rich met that definition, but this was largely the view of society outside the ranks of the upper-class society. These corporations had huge influences on politics, and often politicians were portrayed as merely being the puppets of those corporations. The period from 1870 to 1900 was marked by increased poverty, rising inequality, and bubbling discontent beneath the gilded filigree of society.

Big Picture Events and Issues

Image by jimo663 from Pixabay

While the “Wild West” will live on in infamy, it was during this period that the western frontier actually began to close. The open ranges were closed in by barbed wire fences. Millions of acres of land were snatched up and populated. Native Americans were confined to reservations and then pushed farther west onto new reservations. Treaties were made to the disadvantage of the people and another Trial of Tears occurred. In fact, part of my family’s heritage cannot be traced back any further than this time because of how much was lost in this tragedy.

Technology and communication exploded during the Gilded Age. Telephones, electricity, machines, even the mass-circulation of newspapers and magazines, redefined aspects of the United States in unprecedented ways. With technology came more leisure time for new sports and entertainment to be developed. Transporation grew exponentially, opening up the country to easy travel and new migration patterns. Over these years, horse-led transportation diminished as trains, automobiles, electric trolleys, and others were developed.

Mass immigration poured millions of people into country giving rise to anti-immigrant reactions. Limitations on immigration from certain places started to appear, and the grouping of immigrants arriving shifted to larger numbers of Hungarian, Italian, Polish, and Russian peoples. Often these unskilled workers sought out cities where they could work at factories, often for horrifically low pay.

I talked a little bit about big business already, but this period is when the modern American economy emerged. Our economy became more globalized, dependent on products from around the world to supply the materials needed. Small businesses were consolidated and bought out. It was a dynamic time of wealth and poverty.

Politics too played a significant role during this time. The 1880s and 1890s especially were years of turbulence. Political conflicts were constant with corporations having an influencing hand in many areas. Farmers and laborers fought for fair representation and support against those corporations who they felt took advantage of them. You also have the beginnings of suffragist and civil rights movements.

Why I Write Gilded Age

As you can see, there is just SOOOO much conflict and depth that can be mined from this time period. I love looking at all the different perspectives and challenges that were faced by the people. So while you might think of all that glitters when you see the words Gilded Age, know that it is so much more than that, and I hope to bring some of those aspects and struggles to life in my stories.

A Second Gilded Age

Something I found interesting in my research is that the term Gilded Age has been applied to our current era by many different sources. There are parallels, but not completely. I just thought it fascinating, and if you’d like to read a succinct article on some of that, you can visit the History Channel’s article about it here.

Your chance to comment: What sort of things do you think of when you hear “Gilded Age” in relation to a fiction story?

Enter the Rafflecopter below to be entered to win one of three prizes: (Grand prize) – A signed copy of Counterfeit Love with a book sleeve made by my Momma, a toe bag with story-related prizes inside, (2nd prize) – A signed copy of Counterfeit Love with a book sleeve made by my Momma, socks, and a bookmark, (3rd prize) A signed copy of Counterfeit Love with a book sleeve made by my Momma and a bookish zipper bag. Entries run from March 1st to March 31st, 11:59pm EST. *Open to those legally able to enter, U.S. residents only for the physical prizes, international winners will be given a prize of equal value to whichever level they win.*

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