Hi, I’m Susan Page Davis. Last fall I was writing a novel set mostly in Colorado during the Civil War. Hmm. Did the war reach Colorado? I didn’t want it to be a war story as such, but the characters in my book, being upstanding US citizens, couldn’t ignore the conflict, could they?
Time for research. The hero’s family lived near Fort Lyon, and I soon learned the 1st Colorado Infantry took an active part in the war, including a major role in the Battle of Glorieta Pass.
The battle actually took place in New Mexico Territory, so as you can imagine, getting there was a major challenge. The Union forces marched from Denver a distance of 400 miles in fourteen days to Glorieta Pass, in the Sangre de Cristos mountains. That’s a lot of marching, especially in rugged territory.
Another challenge for me personally was to learn to spell Glorieta Pass with only one T. My fingers want to throw in an extra every time I write it.
Anyway, from March 26 to 28, 1862, Confederate forces under Major Charles Pyron and William Read Scurry battled Union forces led by Col. John P. Slough and Major John M. Chivington.
While the Confederates pushed the Union army back through the pass, they had to retreat when their supply train was destroyed. Instead of breaking the Union’s hold in the West, as the Confederates hoped, this battle signaled the Southern forces’ withdrawal from the New Mexico Territory. While the battle is past when my story begins, my hero, Matt Anderson, was there. He was wounded, and he’s been recovering for nearly a year. He wants to go back to his company, which is stationed at Fort Lyon. His commanding officer decides he’s not ready, which is disappointing to Matt, but not to several other people in the story.
I could have sent Matt back East to other battles, but Glorieta Pass suited my story just fine. For one thing, it kept him in the West, and he was able to get home to his father’s ranch without a long delay. Since his outfit was stationed nearby, he went home to recuperate, not to a military hospital.
In the next book in the series, Matt’s brother will face battle east of the Mississippi. Jack wonders about his brother, but he and Matt haven’t seen each other for more than twenty years. And right now Jack has a lot of other things to think about, like how he can keep the Rebs from stealing his codebook, and how to escape a fiendish Southerner who thinks he should have been President of the Confederate States of America.
Do you like actual historical events as a story setting? Is so, do you think it adds a certain depth that the story wouldn’t have had otherwise? I will give an ebook copy or a print copy of The Rancher’s Legacy.
Matt Anderson’s father and their neighbor devise a plan: Have their children marry and merge the two ranches. The only problem is, Rachel Maxwell has stated emphatically that will never happen.
When Rachel finishes her education in the East and arrives in Colorado, Matt is tasked with retrieving her from the stagecoach. As they crest the hill overlooking the sprawling acreage, Rachel gets her first glimpse of her new home. Only it’s in flames and besieged by outlaws.
She soon learns her father was killed in the raid, shattering her life. Will she allow Matt to help her pick up the pieces?
Meanwhile in Maine, a sea captain’s widow, Edith Rose, hires a private investigator to locate three of her now-adult grandchildren who were abandoned by their father nearly 20 years ago. After weeks of investigation, Ryland Atkins believes he’s located the eldest—in Colorado Territory.
We’re so happy to welcome the return of Susan Page Davis. How close did Texas come to bankruptcy? She’ll tell you. Oh, and scroll down for her giveaway!
Immediately after the Civil War, Texas was in chaos. This was at least partly due to the hasty disbanding of the Confederate army at the end of the war. There were 60,000 troops in Texas in the spring of 1865. Morale was horrible. Many Confederate soldiers deserted and plundered. Soldiers pillaged the quartermaster’s stores in Galveston in late May and detained and plundered a train. A mob demanded that a government warehouse be opened to them, and a blockade-running ship was overrun by civilians. Troops sent to calm the mob joined in the plunder. Other episodes of rioting and stealing exploded across Texas.
When word reached Austin that the Confederate forces had surrendered to Grant, the Texas legislature couldn’t raise enough members to repeal the secession ordinance. Rather than stay and face the uncertainty of their status under the Reconstruction government, Governor Pendleton Murrah and several other Confederate officials fled into Mexico. Most other state officials were removed from office. Union occupation troops were on the way, and Texas temporarily was denied readmission to the Union.
During this time of disorganization and fear, violence became common. Mobs and bands of outlaws, many of them army deserters, contributed to the turbulence. In the capital, Austin, citizens got together in an attempt to protect the people and their property.
Captain George R. Freeman, a Confederate veteran, organized a small company of volunteers in May 1865, to protect the state capital until the Union army could get there. The city was in turmoil, and a mob had taken control of the streets, plundering stores and causing riots and general havoc.
Freeman’s volunteers restored a measure of peace, and they then disbanded with an agreement to gather again if needed. A church bell would sound the alarm if necessary.
On the night of June 11, Freeman was informed that a gang planned to rob the state treasury. The bell tolled, and about twenty of the volunteers gathered at the Christian Church on the south end of Congress Avenue. Some of them came directly from church services.
By the time the volunteers arrived at the treasury building, the estimated fifty robbers of the gang were already inside, breaking into the safes. A brief gun battle broke out. One of the robbers was gravely wounded. Freeman was shot in the arm.
The thieves got away with more than $17,000 in specie, that is, in gold and silver coins. That’s a lot of weight to carry! A later audit report stated that a total of $27,525 in specie had been located in the treasury at the time of the robbery, as well as $800 in Louisiana bank bills. Several million dollars of U.S. bonds and other securities were also in the vault, but the robbers didn’t take them. One package of bond coupons was recovered from the floor after apparently being dropped by a fleeing member of the gang.
Before he died, the wounded robber told the outnumbered volunteers that the leader of the gang was “Captain Rapp,” but this man was never caught. No other members of the gang were ever captured, and the loot was not recovered, though some money was found outside, between the treasury building and Mount Bonnell.
Captain Freeman and his company of volunteers were later recognized by the state for their service, but the resolution providing a reward for them never passed the legislature. In 2009, Freeman was honored by a historical marker placed at his former home in Hamilton, where he later practiced law. He is credited with interrupting the robbery and preventing the bankruptcy of Texas. He had served prior to this incident as a Confederate officer, as captain of Company D, Twenty-third Texas Cavalry.
Federal troops arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, and it took a while to restore order. Ex-Confederates were granted amnesty if they promised to support the Union in the future, but it wasn’t until March 30, 1870 that Texas’s representatives were once again allowed to take their seats in Congress.
Do you find the historical account of things like this robbery interesting and get your thoughts whirling? There are so many unanswered questions. Susan is giving away one autographed copy of Mail Order Standoff to one person who comments. The drawing will be Sunday.
The Mail-Order Standoff: Marriage plans are put on hold in the Old West when four mail-order brides have second thoughts. How will their grooms win their trust? My story – THE BRIDE WHO DECLINED – opens in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1880s. Rachel Paxton turns down a mail-order proposal, but a few months later she learns the man she rejected has died—and left his ranch to her in his will. She can’t figure out why, and she’s not sure she wants the inheritance.
Susan Page Davis is the author of more than ninety published novels. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and also a winner of the Carol Award and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards. A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky. Visit her website at: https://susanpagedavis.com , where you can see all her books, sign up for her occasional newsletter, and read a short story on her Freebies tab.
Mary Edwards Walker was a doctor, a Civil War POW and alleged spy, and she is the only woman to have ever earned a Congressional Medal of Honor. She was also a “radical” feminist activist, and an advocate of comfortable dress for women.
Mary was born in 1832 in Oswego, New York to a family of free-thinking abolitionists. Mary’s father thought that women’s clothing was restrictive and encouraged his five daughters to dress as they wanted. Mary embraced the style of Amelia Bloomer, a proponent of dress reform who introduced Turkish-style pants that came to be known as bloomers. Mary went on to wear pants for most of her life. She was arrested several times for impersonating a man. Later in life, she adopted the habit of wearing men’s evening wear to deliver lectures at various gatherings.
Mary’s parents encouraged her to get an education. She became the second woman, after Elizabeth Blackwell, to graduate from Syracuse Medical College in 1855. She was 21 years old. She married a fellow doctor (while wearing pants) in 1856 and kept her own name. She and her husband set up a joint practice, but it did not thrive. People did not want to see a female doctor. She and her husband divorced in 1869.
In 1861, the Civil War broke out, and Mary traveled to Washington D.C. in an effort to join the Union Army. She was denied, so volunteered instead. She was appointed assistant surgeon for the Ohio 52nd Infantry and in addition to treating wounded Union soldiers, made many trips over Confederate lines to treat Confederate civilians. It’s generally thought that she was serving as a spy at this time.
Mary was captured by Confederate troops and sent to a prisoner of war camp in 1864, but after serving 4 months was part of an exchange for Confederate doctors and returned to the Ohio 52nd.
Mary was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1865. Sadly, in 1917, her medal was rescinded, along with those of 910 other recipients after the standards were changed to actually seeing combat with the enemy. According to legend, when federal officers showed up at her house to retrieve the medal, she met them with a shotgun and told them she would not surrender the medal. The federal officers retreated empty-handed. Mary died in 1919, one year before women received the right to vote.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter reinstated her medal, citing her “distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice,patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex.”
I read a book, and I knew I had to go see this place for myself… It all started when I read THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH by Robert Hicks, a novel he wrote about a woman who made the dead soldiers of the War Between the States her life’s work. By the time I finished reading that book, I knew I had to go visit this place, Carnton, where she had lived and devoted her life to the dead.
Carnton is the name of the plantation just outside of Franklin, TN, where Carrie Winder McGavock and her husband John made their home with their two children, Hattie and Winder. There is so much history that comes before the fateful Battle of Franklin that changed Carrie’s life forever that there is no room to include it in this post.
So I will start with a brief nutshell of the circumstances. At the time of the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, Carrie’s children were nine (Hattie) and seven (Winder). Carrie herself was thirty-five, her husband, John McGavock, fourteen years her senior at forty-nine. They had been married several years, Carrie coming from Louisiana to marry John, who was quite a wealthy man for the times, worth over six million dollars in our present day currency. He owned the flourishing plantation, Carnton, in middle Tennessee, where he and his brother James had been raised,. The McGavocks raised wheat, hay, corn, and potatoes, as well as maintaining a thoroughbred horse ranch.
Carnton, (Scottish for “the place of stones”) was less than one mile from the battle that took place on the far Union Eastern flank. Most of the battle took place after dark, from 5-9p.m., so the McGavocks could see the firefight that went on over the town of Franklin that evening. Because their plantation was so close, it became a field hospital for the Confederate troops.
More than 6,000 soldiers were wounded and another 1,000 were missing. After the battle, many Franklin-area homes were converted into temporary field hospitals, but Carnton by far was the largest hospital site. Hundreds of Confederate wounded and dying were tended by Carrie McGavock and the family after the battle. Some estimates say that as many as 300 Confederate soldiers were cared for by the McGavocks inside Carnton alone. Hundreds more were moved to the slave quarters, the outbuildings, even the smokehouse—and when the buildings were full, the wounded had to lie outside during the frigid nights, when the temperature reached below zero.
After the battle, at 1 a.m. on December 1, Union forces under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield, evacuated toward Nashville, leaving all the dead, including (several hundred) Union soldiers, and the wounded who were unable to walk, as well. So when morning came, the 750 or so residents of Franklin faced an unimaginable scene of what to do with over 2,500 dead soldiers, most of those being 1,750 Confederates.
According to George Cowan’s “History of McGavock Confederate Cemetery,” “All of the Confederate dead were buried as nearly as possible by states, close to where they fell, and wooden headboards were placed at each grave with the name, company and regiment painted or written on them.” Many of the soldiers were originally buried on property belonging to Fountain Branch Carter and James McNutt. Many of the Union soldiers were re-interred in 1865 at the Stones River National Cemetery in Murfreesboro.
Over the next eighteen months (from all of 1865 through the first half of 1866) many of the markers were either rotting or used for firewood, and the writing on the boards was disappearing. Thus, to preserve the graves, John and Carrie McGavock donated 2 acres of their property to be designated as an area for the Confederate dead to be re-interred. The citizens of Franklin raised the funding and the soldiers were exhumed and re-interred in the McGavock Confederate Cemetery for the sum of $5.00 per soldier.
A team of individuals led by George Cuppett took responsibility for the reburial operation in the spring of 1866. By June, some ten weeks after the start, the last Confederate soldier was laid to rest at McGavock Cemetery. Some 1,481 Rebel soldiers would now be at peace. Soldiers from every Southern state in the Confederacy, except Virginia, is represented in the cemetery.
Sadly, George Cuppett’s brother, Marcellus, died during the process of the reburials. Just 25 years old, he is buried at the head of the Texas section in the McGavock Cemetery. He is the only civilian interred there.
The McGavocks, especially Carrie, took great care to preserve the identity of the Confederate soldiers. The original names and identities of the soldiers were recorded in a cemetery record book by George Cuppett, and the book fell into the watchful hands of Carrie after the battle. The original book is on display upstairs in Carnton. Time has not been favorable to the identities of the Confederate soldiers though. 780 Confederate soldiers’ identities are positively identified, leaving some 558 as officially listed as unknown.
Most of the above was taken from the Wikipedia article about Carnton and the McGavocks. Now you know the FACTS, but let me tell you about my impression of this remarkable woman and the cause she put above all else.
Robert Hicks’s book, THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH, is a fictionalized story about Carrie and John McGavock and their lives, but that was what made me want to travel to Franklin and see the house for myself. I put the description that Wikipedia gave near the beginning because I can’t begin to do it justice. It is one of the most gorgeous, meticulously restored homes of that period you will ever see. They do not allow pictures AT ALL as you’re touring inside. Many of the pieces of furniture, glassware and the pictures that are on the walls have been donated by the McGavock extended family and most everything in the house is a genuine period piece, whether it belonged to the family or not.
It is said that Winder’s room was used as an operating room. A table was set up by the east-facing window where the surgeries were performed. Today, there is a table there much like what would have been used, along with the crude medical implements that were available at the time. Our guide told us that when the doctor finished an amputation, he would throw the limb out the window, get the man off the table and make room for the next one. Because the doctor most likely wore a rubberized apron, the blood pooled in a kind of horseshoe shape on the floor where he would have stood. He walked in it and stood in it, grinding it into the wood. It is still there, to this very day—a testament to five of the bloodiest hours in the history of the Civil War.
Once, Hattie was asked about her most enduring childhood memory. “The smell of blood,” she replied.
In the book, there is mention made of Carrie’s friend, Mariah, who had once been her slave but chose to stay with her as they had been together since childhood. Mariah was said to have had the ability to look at some of the graves and tell something about the person who was buried there. She had “the sight.”
For the next forty years, after the Battle of Franklin, Carrie dressed in black, visiting the graves every day. She carried the book of names with her. I have to tell you, when I saw that book of names I got chills thinking of the devotion she had to this cause. Those men were not forgotten.
At one point, the house fell into disrepair, but was bought by a historical preservation society and maintained. The cemetery was the largest privately owned war cemetery in the US. Robert Hicks meticulously researched for the book he wrote, and the profits from the book (which made it to the NYT Bestseller List) helped to re-establish this grand old home as a piece of history where we can go to learn firsthand about what happened on that fateful day.
My husband and I toured the house, a gorgeous old mansion, with a wonderful guide who was glad to answer any and all questions. Tours are around $15, and well worth it. The cemetery tour is $5, or you can just walk around and look for yourself, which is what my husband and I did. If you buy the book, I promise you will be as anxious to see this place for yourself as I was.
Walking those same floors that were walked upon by Carrie and her family, and the wounded men, the generals, the doctors…gave me feeling I will never forget. I could almost swear I felt her presence, still there, still watching over the soldiers she devoted her adult life to at Carnton…the “place of stones.”
(This is a picture of Carrie as a young woman.)
Have you ever read a book that made this kind of impression on you? A book that, just from reading about a place, made you want to go there and see it more than anything else? What was it? I’d love to hear about the places you’ve gone after you read about them and just KNEW you had to see them for yourself!
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last month I started a series of articles about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. January’s post focused on Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton Agent. (If you missed it, you can read it HERE)
This month I want to talk about Phoebe Couzins, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Marshall service.
Growing up, Phoebe’s parents taught her to view public service as something to be valued. They were a couple who truly walked the walk. For instance, when Phoebe was about six years old, St. Louis was devastated by a terrible cholera epidemic where thousands of residents perished. John and Adaline Couzins stepped forward and headed up the local relief organization that was responsible for helping the victims.
And that was only one instance of many. Among other things, John Couzins, was an architect and builder, served as a Union Major during the Civil War, and became Chief of Police in St. Louis. Adaline Couzins, was also quite active. She served as a nurse during the Civil War, tending soldiers on the battlefield at Wilson Creek, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. During the course of this, she herself was actually wounded at Vicksburg.
Which may be why, as she grew, Phoebe pushed against the boundaries imposed on nineteenth century women in a BIG way.
In 1869, she became a delegate to the American Equal Rights Association Convention in N.Y. That same year, Phoebe spoke on behalf of women suffrage to a joint meeting in the Missouri State General Assembly. She advocated the passage of State legislation granting women the right to vote. Unfortunately the proposal was ultimately rejected by a vote of 89-5.
Later that year, Phoebe was one of the first women to enter Washington University in St. Louis law school when they opened admission to women, and in 1871 she became the second woman in the nation to graduate with an L.L.B. degree. A big proponent of equality for women, once she graduated she stated that she primarily pursued a law degree in order to “open new paths for women, enlarge her usefulness, widen her responsibilities and to plead her case in a struggle which [she] believed surely was coming. . . . I trust the day is not far distant when men and women shall be recognized as equal administrators of that great bulwark of civilization, law.” After graduating, she went on to become the second licensed attorney in her home state of Missouri and the third licensed attorney in the entire United States. Eventually she was also admitted to the bar associations of Arkansas, Utah, and Kansas, as well as the Dakota Territory federal courts.
In 1884, Phoebe’s father was appointed as the U.S. Marshal in eastern Missouri. Her father then named her a deputy U.S. Marshal, which placed her among the first women to hold that position. When John Couzins died in 1887, President Grover Cleveland asked Phoebe to step into the position temporarily, making her the first woman U.S. Marshal. She only held the position for two months, however, leaving the service altogether when she was replaced by a male.
As I mentioned above, Phoebe was a strong proponent of women’s rights. She was active in the suffrage movement for many years, as had been her mother. In the early days of the twentieth century she made the following statement: ”… today we round out the first century of a professed republic,—with woman figuratively representing freedom—and yet all free, save woman.” And she also stated “Until we are large enough to think of mind, of genius, of ability without the consciousness of sex, we are yet in the infancy of our development, we belong in kindergarten.”
Unfortunately, Phoebe’s life did not end well. As the years passed, her strong personality and outspoken ways rubbed her associates and fellow suffragists the wrong way, eventually leaving her with few friends. At the age of sixty-eight, she found herself in a dire situation – destitute, in failing health, and unable to work – so she returned to St. Louis. She died there in December of 1913.
Phoebe was buried with her U.S. marshal’s badge pinned to her chest in an unmarked grave in Bellefontaine Cemetery. Only six people, including her brother, attended her funeral. It was a sad ending to a remarkable life.
However, in more recent years, Phoebe’s life and groundbreaking accomplishments have received more appropriate recognition.
In 1950 Phoebe Couzin’s final resting place received a marker. In that year, to acknowledge Phoebe’s many groundbreaking accomplishments, the members of the Women’s Bar Association of St. Louis placed a simple stone monument on her final grave.
And in 2000 , Phoebe, as well as Lemma Barkeloo (another early female lawyer) were honored by the establishment of the Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law Chair at the Washington University school of law.
There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of yet another brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?
Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas and the happiest of New Years!
I recently read an article about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. Some of the names I was familiar with, some not, but I learned new tidbits about even the ones I’d already heard of. So I thought I’d share what I learned with you. But to do these stories justice, I’m going to spread them over a series of articles rather than try to squeeze them all into one post.
The first one, speaking chronologically, is also the one I was most familiar with, Kate Warne.
In 1856 Kate walked into the Pinkerton National Detective Agency office seeking a position. To Allan Pinkerton’s surprise, she was not looking for a clerical position, but that of a field agent. It took quite a bit of convincing, but the 23 year old widow was more than up to the task. She calmly described the many potential benefits a female detective could offer, such as an ability to manipulate targets into believing she was on their side and confiding in her in a way that men could never manage.
Despite his initial skepticism, Pinkerton never had reason to regret his decision to hire the indomitable Kate. She proved her worth on the first major case she worked on. She was assigned to the investigation of possible embezzlement of funds at the Adams Express Co. The primary suspect was a Mr. Maroney. Kate immediately befriended Mrs. Maroney. She gained the woman’s confidence so much that not only did she learn the information she need to prove Mr. Maroney’s guilt but she managed to find and recover almost 80 percent of the money that had been stolen.
Within four years of hiring her, Pinkerton was convinced that there would be immeasurable value to him to have more female operatives in his organization. So in 1960 he opened a Female Detective Bureau and put Kate in charge.
Of course this didn’t put an end to Kate’s field work. At one point Pinkerton assigned five agents, Kate among them, to investigate secessionist threats against the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Based on their field reports Pinkerton became convinced that there was an assassination plot against then President-elect Lincoln to take place during his trip to Washington DC for his inauguration. It was Kate who confirmed that not only did this plot exist, but she learned the specific time and location where it was to take place. She also played a key role in the secret alternate travel arrangements that foiled the assassins’ plans.
The start of the Civil War saw Kate’s role change from that of investigator to that of spy while she continued to serve as Superintendent of Female Detectives. Using over a dozen assumed names and her spot-on southern belle impersonation she worked both down south and in the north, successfully gathering needed intelligence.
After the end of the war, Kate continued on her course as a valuable senior member of the Pinkerton team. There is no telling how far she would have gone, but alas, while the ‘bad guys’ could not best her, her health did. In January of 1868, still in her mid 30s, Kate contracted a lung infection and died.
In his book The Spy of the Rebellion, Pinkerton wrote of Kate Warne “Of rather a commanding person, with clear-cut, expressive features, and with an ease of manner that was quite captivating at times, she was calculated to make a favorable impression at once. She was a brilliant conversationalist when so disposed, and could be quite vivacious, but she also understood that rarer quality… the art of being silent.”
There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing adventures of this brave and adventurous woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?
Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think you should know that the classic candy that has been a constant since 1847, is about to go the way of phone booths. Yes, that’s right. The company that makes Necco Wafers has announced that, unless it finds a buyer, it will close its doors forever in May.
Do you know what that means? Future generations will never know what drywall tastes like.
Originally called hub wafers, the coin-shaped candies were carried by soldiers during the Civil War and World War II. Since the candy traveled well and never melted or spoiled, soldiers and yes, even cowboys, could carry them with confidence.
These candies traveled as far as the North Pole, and that’s not all. Admiral Byrd took two tons of the things with him to the Antarctica. Even more impressive; Necco Wafers was the first candy to multi-task. They served as wafers during communion and were tossed in baskets for payment at toll booths.
Sad to say, Necco isn’t the only old company at risk. In recent years, we’ve seen the demise of the Sears Wish book and five and dime stores. Who knows what will be next?
I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I shudder to think that Baker’s chocolate—a friend to cooks since 1780—might someday be declared unfit for human consumption. Don’t laugh. It happened to wheat, eggs and red meat. Who’s to say the same thing won’t happen to chocolate?
Never mind that cowboys and civil war soldiers enjoyed morning cups of Baker’s hot chocolate with no known problems. Cast-iron stomachs of the past have no place in today’s world.
It’s not just food and drink that’s in danger. The next company that could bite the dust could very well be Remington, established in 1818. It’s hard to believe that the company that produced the “rifle that won the west” might one day close its doors. But firearms aren’t all that popular these days. Nor for that matter are typewriters. So who knows?
And what about Brooks Brothers, another formidable company founded in 1818? The company made the first ready-to-wear suits in 1849. Those flocking to California that year for the gold rush couldn’t wait for tailors to outfit them. For that reason, forty-niners depended on Brooks Brothers for their clothing needs. So did Abe Lincoln, Eisenhower and J.F. Kennedy.
Anything made of paper is about to become obsolete, including maps, shopping bags and checks. Here in California, the war on drinking straws is heating up. If that’s not enough, many of the nation’s newspapers have vanished in recent years. That means that old standbys like The New York Times (founded in 1851 as the New York Daily Times) could one day shut down their presses forever.
I also worry about Merriam-Webster, founded in 1831. If it goes the way of encyclopedia salesmen, I will have to share the blame. I can’t remember the last time I actually looked something up in an honest-to-goodness, print dictionary, can you?
Nothing is safe in today’s fast-paced world as proven by Kodak. Who would have thought that a company that we all knew and loved would close its dark-room doors forever and stop making cameras?
Founded in 1889, Kodak was the absolute leader in photography. It’s still in business making mobile devices, but its past glory is gone. Phone cameras have taken its place, but it’s not the same. An iPhone second just doesn’t have the same ring as a Kodak moment.
So, what old-time product do you or would you miss? What were you glad to see go?
A Story of the West during The War of the Rebellion
The West – conjures up pictures of Cowboys and Indians, covered wagons, Wild Bill Hitchcock, saloons, gunslingers and Wyoming or Colorado, etc. But did you know that leading up to and including the Civil War, the ‘west’ was what we call today the Midwest – like Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Ohio. Huh? The original 13 colonies/states (New York to Maine, to Pennsylvania, Carolinas, etc) was considered the civilized society and anything past the Appalachian Mountains is the West.
When the Civil War is discussed even today, it is a story of the North and the South but what about the West? The Midwest was the food-producing states. Both sides counted it as theirs. Missouri, for instance, was the ‘west’, with no status as North or South until “Bloody Kansas” occurred. Newspapers in the North wrote their stories, painting the slave-holding Missouri as Southern. Missouri had a lot of ties to the north from an economic standard, being a bread-winning state and St. Louis was one of the nation’s highest importing towns, that you could by any import there, verses New York or New Orleans or Charleston (the other big ports).
Many businesses in St. Louis were tied to the North but this slanderous news stories propagated at this time during the crisis pushed Missouri in a corner, so to speak, and therefore, they did throw their hat in with the South. Many southerners did settle in the state and it was a slave state but that didn’t make them southerner. Even today, northerners referred to Missouri as southern and vice versa.
When the war comes, it concentrates on the east and the prime objective by the north was ‘take Richmond!’ – the old concept of take the capital (yet at first, the capital for the Confederacy was in Alabama). The push was take the Army of Northern Virginia, led by the mastermind Robert E. Lee, out, take over Richmond and the North wins! But what of the west? The West does include more than the battles at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Franklin. The west was also the breadbasket of the South (& North) but the key to conquering the rebels was the Mississippi River. Take it and cut the Confederacy in half (plus cutting them from their main food source –Texas).
The western theater also became the dumping ground by both sides for officers that lost favor in the east. General Halleck (US), Rosecrans (US), Braxton Bragg (CS), Joseph E. Johnston (CS) are good examples, like Johnston and President Jefferson Davis didn’t get along, but the South needed men, so Johnston was kept, just reassigned to the west. Sounds pretty awful, right?
My latest release, Rags & Hope, deals with this issue.Here is the blurb:
There was one thing about the War of Rebellion they could both understand: At least on the battlefield, the enemy is clear.
Thanks to his father’s political machinations, grieving widower Colonel Pierce Duval wants nothing more than to leave his family home in New York and return to his Union command in Tennessee. A chance and harrowing encounter with a true-blue Southern belle stirs emotions in him he thought long buried. When her safety is at stake, how can he not help her?
Cerisa Fontaine ran away from her wealthy Louisiana home, hoping to form a new life where no one would know her family’s awful secret. But her controversial marriage and southern drawl make her a pariah in New York. Her situation becomes downright perilous when her husband is killed in battle and Cerisa is left alone and penniless, forced to seek employment at the only establishment that will accept her: a brothel. When the handsome colonel offers her a way out, she’s compelled to accept despite his Yankee roots.
Each for self-serving reasons of their own, Pierce and Cerisa embark on a journey south to Tennessee, posing as a married couple. But even as their secrets stand between them, their passion wages its own war against their better judgment. All too soon, they must make a life altering choice: remain loyal to their cause, or give in to their heart’s desire.
After finding herself a widow at the age of twenty-six, JOSIE JOHNSON moves back home to Two-Time, Texas and takes over the town’s only newspaper, the Gazette. Everything works as planned until the very charming, very handsome BRANDON WADE moves to town to start his own newspaper. At first Josie welcomes the competition, but soon learns that readers prefer Wade’s bold hyperbole to her more serious type of journalism.
Brandon never meant to put the pretty publisher out of business and suggests a solution. Nothing sells newspapers like a good juicy scandal, but lacking that, the next best thing is a good old-fashioned print war between two battling editors. Brandon even writes up an article disparaging himself and his paper to demonstrate. Josie refuses to stoop to such tactics. She’ll gain her readers back on her own terms—or not at all! But when her paper accidentally publishers Wade’s article, the print wars are on.
The rivalry between Josie and Brandon meets with immediate success and both newspapers fly off the racks. The editorial warfare is the talk of the town and readers can’t seem to get enough. While the ink wars rage on, Josie and Brandon find themselves fighting yet another battle—a mutual attraction that could put everything they worked for at risk.
Before the Civil War, people were content to receive news weeks and even months after an event, if at all. The war changed that. Suddenly, people were demanding to know what was going on, and newspapers became an important part of life. President Lincoln recognized that newspapers could be used to sway public opinion and he used them to good advantage, much as politicians do today.
Here’s my question: What’s your favorite way of getting the news?
One of the writer-related questions I get most often is where do my ideas come from. The answer is a bit complex. As a writer, I see stories everywhere – in snippets of conversation, in song lyrics, in throwaway scenes from movies and TV shows and just from everyday life. But story ideas are also very fragile – they can disappear like mist when the sun beats down or like dream fragments once you’re fully awake.
So, whenever I get an idea for a new story, even if it’s just for a character or scene, I’ll set up a document in my Ideas folder to capture it before it gets away. From time to time I’ll go back in and add to one or more of the files, depending on what snags my interest at the time. And eventually one of these ideas will tell me it’s ready to be turned into a full blown book.
All of the above is backdrop to explain that one of these idea files contained a snippet of a story set in the late 19th century with a female doctor in the lead role. Of course a story like this requires a lot of research – questions such as what educational options were available for women and where could these be found, how well received were female doctors, what difficulties would they have faced due to their gender and just in general what medical treatments and a medical practice looked like during that time period.
And as often happens, while I was happily ensconced in researching some of this, I stumbled upon an unexpected and totally intriguing story about a fascinating woman. Her name was Mary Walker. She was born in 1832, in upstate New York to parents who encouraged all of their children to pursue formal education. Mary took full advantage of her parents’ ideals and at the age of 25 graduated from Syracuse Medical School with a doctor of medicine degree – she was the only woman in her class. She then went into private practice and eventually married another physician, Dr. Albert Miller. However, in an action that was typical of her fierce independent spirit, she retained her maiden name. Eventually, she and Miller divorced due to his alleged infidelity.
When the Civil War broke out, Mary wanted to serve in the army as a surgeon, but because she was a woman she was unable to do so. Not willing to give up, she worked for free in a temporary hospital in Washington D.C. From there she moved on to Virginia, treating the wounded at numerous field hospitals throughout the area. Finally, in 1863, her medical credentials were acknowledged and she was appointed as a War Department surgeon. A year later she was captured by the Confederate Army and remained their prisoner for about four months.
In 1865, Dr. Walker became the first woman to ever be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, an acknowledgement for her services during the Civil War.
Mary’s unconventional life extended past her service during the war. She was an active and vigorous proponent of women’s rights. She became an author and a lecturer, focusing on issues such as temperance, health care and dress reform. And putting action to her words, she could often be seen garbed in bloomers or even men’s trousers and a top hat. Dr. Walker was a member of the Woman’s Suffrage Bureau in Washington D.C. and testified before committees in the US House of Representatives on woman’s suffrage issues.
In 1917 her name, along with 910 others, was stricken from the list of Medal of Honor recipients. The reason given was that none of these had ever officially served in the military. However, despite orders to return her medal, Mary refused and continued to wear it for the remainder of her life. She passed away in 1919 at the age of 86.
But that’s not the end of Dr. Walker’s story. In 1977, thanks to efforts made by her family who pushed for a Congressional reappraisal of her accomplishments, President Jimmy Carter restored her medal posthumously. She is one of only six people to have this honor restored after it was rescinded. And to date she is still the only female to ever have this medal awarded to her.
So what do you think of this very unorthodox woman? Is there something about her life that particularly intrigued you? Comment on this post for a chance to win an advance copy of my upcoming December release Once Upon A Texas Christmas.
Abigail Fulton is determined to find independence in Turnabout, Texas—and becoming manager of the local hotel could be the solution. But first, she must work with Seth Reynolds to renovate the property by Christmas—and convince him she’s perfect for the job. If only he hadn’t already promised the position to someone else…
Ever since his troubled childhood, Seth yearns to prove himself. And this hotel is his best chance. But what does someone like Abigail know about decor and furnishings? Yet the closer the holiday deadline gets, the more he appreciates her abilities and her kindness. His business ambitions require denying Abigail’s dearest wish, but can they put old dreams aside for a greater gift—love and family?