Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Once in a Blue Moon

     By now you've probably heard that Friday's full moon is popularly called a "blue moon" because it's the second full moon in a calendar month. The technical definition of a blue moon is much more complicated, but since it's mostly just for fun, what difference does it make?
      It should look about like any other full moon -- beautiful. But since it is rare, and it happens to fall on a Friday to boot, I decided to celebrate by offering my latest mystery, Full Moon Friday, free on kindle. All day July 31. Just go to Amazon, download and enjoy.  Even it you don't have a kindle, you can download a free Kindle App so you can read Full Moon Friday on your phone or tablet.
      Such a deal!
      Now my writer friends may be wondering, what's the advantage of giving books away?  Word of mouth is the best advertising you can get, and I expect the people who read this book for free are going to like it so much they will tell their friends. Many of my readers have been spreading the word. Who knows, they might like it so much they will suggest it to their book club. It's happened before. In fact a book club in Angola, Indiana, is reading Full Moon Friday right now on the suggestion of a fan. And a book club in Jenison, Mi., came to the Full Moon Friday release party last summer.
      So don't miss your chance to read this fast-paced, whacko mystery.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Family cemetery roundabout

         As my regular readers know, all last week was throwback Thursday for me as I visited sites in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia that relate to my genealogy.
         The biggest surprise was the Merrell burial ground at the old home place on Old Mountain Road in Randolph County. This photograph of the 1813 marker for my ggggggreat grandmother was taken there thirty years ago by family historian C. Phelps Merrell. The mountain top area was described as beautiful and covered with periwinkle.
         Other family members reported that the stones were pretty much gone now. The old cemetery was supposedly in a woods behind a home. I checked Google earth for that address and found a trailer.
         I was expecting to find this trailer all alone on a country road. When I got there, I could see where the trailer had been, but the lot is vacant now. I was able to roam to my heart's content but I didn't find anything that resembled a family cemetery, just a lot of refuse and downed trees.
         Although the neighboring lots had trailers or ramshackle homes, fancy subdivisions came within a half mile of the old homeplace. Just a mile away, Old Mountain Road meets Finch Farm Road in one of those fancy new roundabouts. It's easy to see that the fancy subdivisions are moving up the mountain and it won't be long until a beautiful home is on that site.
           When Daniel Merrell buried his mother there, he no doubt imagined the farm would be in the family forever. But his sons moved on and the stones crumbled with time. Hopefully the periwinkle will bloom again.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Genealogy Tour

This week's Throwback Thursday is a visit to Abbeville, S.C.  I've never been here before but I'm counting it as a throwback because my Tullock ancestors on my mother's side lived in Abbeville County before the revolution. I'm here on a Genealogy Tour.
        I was able to find an 1810 document this afternoon in the County Administration Center.  Samuel Tullock, 51, had died without a will, leaving a 33-year-old widow and six young sons. The yellowed, crumbling pages list the inventory of a life -- from cups and saucers to hogs and cows.
         From the leather and shoemaking tools in the inventory, I can surmise that Samuel was a cobbler.
          I paid $2.25 to make copies of the nine pages, which is about what two sows and four pigs brought at the sale of Samuel's "estate."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Women at the Well

Polly Hawkins Craig was my age —66 —when she risked her life to save a fort full of settlers from an Indian attack. And I’ll bet she didn’t hesitate. After all, she’d just finished hiking across the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia to Kentucky.
 Some of my son’s ancestors on his father’s side were known as the Traveling Church. One of Polly’s sons, Lewis Craig, was a Baptist minister in Virginia where it was against the law to be anything but Anglican. In 1781 Lewis decided to move to Kentucky, and 400 church members followed him. The group started out with wagons, but at Ft. Chiswell the road became too narrow and steep. They had to walk; the horses carried their stuff.  They walked from September to December.
In addition to Lewis, Polly had 10 more grown children. Many of them and their kids and grandkids were part of this Exodus to Kentucky. When the Traveling Church reached Kentucky, they built Craig’s Station near Boonesborough  and spent the winter. In the spring, some of the group moved into an abandoned fort called Bryan Station near Lexington. 
In August, 1782 --  almost a year after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown and the official battles with the British were over -- about 300 Indians and Canadian soldiers crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky to attack Bryan Station in one of the final battles of the American Revolution.
About 150 settlers, including 64 children, took refuge in the fort. Most of them were part of the extended Craig family. But there was one little problem. The only water source was a spring about half a mile away.   They couldn't survive a siege without water. And the fort could burn down if the Indians used flaming arrows and they didn't have water to put the fire out. 
But they didn't want to send a wagon of armed men to get water, because the Indians would surely attack. If they sent women and children, as usual, the Indians might believe their warriors were unnoticed.
Early on the morning of August 16, Polly led a group of about 20 women and girls down to the spring. They carried one musket and a lot of buckets. The spring was so close to the woods that they had to pretend they didn’t see the Indians lurking there. No matter how much their knees were shaking, they had to walk back up that hill without spilling their valuable water.
They made the trek and returned without incident. A few hours later the attack began. Flaming arrows set some of the roofs on fire, but the precious water put out the blazes. The attackers destroyed the crops outside the fort and killed the livestock, but the people inside the fort were unharmed. A scout told the attackers that the local militia was on the way to help the settlers, so the Indians and Canadian soldiers left before dawn .
           Daniel Boone was among the militia that arrived to help Bryan Station. The next day about 180 militia followed the Indians right into an ambush at Blue Licks. About half of the militiamen, including Daniel Boone's son Israel, were killed.
            Many years later the DAR erected a monument to Polly Hawkins and the women who went for water and saved the fort.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What the soldiers say

      As the Fourth of July approaches, my genealogy project is snagged at the American Revolution. One of the best resources I've found is the pension applications. Years later my ancestors who served in the Revolution went to a courthouse somewhere and told the story of their service so they could receive a pension. They described the war in their own words.
          Here's what an Benjamin Merrill said of a battle on Sept. 19, 1776, at a gorge on the Coweecho River in North Carolina called the Black Hole:  "A considerable battle with the Indians and Tories in which we lost 11 men."
            Here's how Magnus Tullock, a 14-year-old fifer from my mother's family, describes the siege of Augusta in 1779: We were stationed on the opposite side of the river where we torn up a battery. No officers higher in command than captains... We remained there until the British evacuated Augusta (February 14). We were then marched through the town and on down to Brier Creek and joined Gen. Lincoln.“. 
           Benjamin Merrill was at the battle of Brier Creek on March 3, 1779: We had an engagement with the British commanded by Major Turnbull in which we were defeated before General Rutherford could get his Army over the Savannah River to our assistance and a great number of our men were drowned endeavoring to cross the River and the most of us lost our horses, guns &c and were permitted to return home."
          Magnus Tullock reported on the Siege of  Savannah, Sept. 16-Oct. 18, 1779: The siege at that place continued three weeks. We lost hundreds of men and were defeated.”
          When I look at the fireworks this year, I'm going to be thinking of Benjamin and Magnus and all the others who fought in all the wars. Thank You.