On This Day in 1861

On This Day, April 12, 1861, Fort Sumter, South Carolina was shelled by the Confederacy. This marked the start of the Civil War.

SumterPreviously, on February 4th, a convention of seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama and formed the Confederate States of America.

On March 3rd, Confederate General Beauregard took command of the troops around Charleston Harbor, surrounding Fort Sumter.

By April, the fort was running low on rations. President Lincoln (only president for a month at this point) told them he would re-supply and instructed them to hold the fort.

On April 11th, General Beauregard demanded Union Major Robert Anderson evacuate the fort, but he refused. He was warned if he did not evacuate, the fort would be fired upon at 4:30 a.m. on April 12th.

When the evacuation did not happen, as promised, General Beauregard commanded the men to open fire on Fort Sumter. Fortunately, there were no casualties on either side, but the fort had no option but to surrender.

At 2:30 p.m. on April 13th, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort.

flying confederate flag on april 14The Confederate flag was raise over Fort Sumter and a 100-gun salute to the flag was planned, but a gun discharged prematurely, killing Union Private Daniel Hough. He was the first casualty of the war.

The war produced over one million casualties with between 650,000 and 850,000 Americans giving their lives. They died fighting their own countrymen and left behind as many grieving parents, widows, and children. These Americans gave their lives to save the United States they knew, whether it be Union or Confederate. As Americans, we have a duty to honor their memories and to get it right. God forbid, we ever divide and do it again.


(shameless plug: I wrote this post in honor of my new book On This Day. It’s a perpetual calendar/journal/record book. If you’re a genealogy buff, you HAVE to get this book to keep track of your ancestor’s special dates. Check it out here.)


Awesome Goat-iness

I just can’t stand it anymore. I had to compile these mash-ups on one page. Warning: Don’t drink anything while you’re watching these videos. You’ll end up with milk coming out your nose.

“Let it Goat” from Frozen

“I Knew You Were a Goat” – Taylor Swift

And finally, the Top 5 Goat Songs


Worst Book Titles….EVER!

Warning: This post has adult language and adult humor. If you are offended by such things, please do not read any further.

This is a collection of some of the worse book titles to ever hit the bookshelves. Seriously, these book are for sale to the public. As you will see by the “look inside” stickers on the tops of some of the photos, I found most of them on Amazon.

Here’s a collection to enhance the spiritual side of your life:  






















Everyone loves books. Pick this up for your little sister:












and perhaps for grandma:












Don’t forget grandpa:












and for dad:












I know a lot of my readers are genealogy buffs, so here’s one especially for you:













If you have a child from a sperm donor, consider these treasures: The Pea that was Me: A Sperm Donor Story (I can’t wait to read that one!) or Thank You For Your Sperm. I imagine the sequel to that would be: Sure, No Problem.













The most important books in the world are the ones for children. Remember treasuring your books as a child? Here are a few of my favorites: The Night Dad Went to Jail

dad jail










All my friends are dead












and my all-time favorite: Go the F#&* to Sleep

go the fuck to sleep











If you still can’t find a book that calls to you, try this feel-good story: The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying F#&* About You

give a fuck




Rainy Day Soup

unnamedTo-die-for Asparagus Soup on a chilly, rainy day! Yummy!

Emeril’s recipe, roughly:

Cut tips off a couple bunches of asparagus and set aside. Boil woody ends of asparagus in 8 cups of chicken stock (or veggie stock for you veggie-type people) for 20 minutes.

While it’s boiling, in a large saucepan cook 1 cup diced shallots, 1 cup diced leeks (white part only), and the rest of asparagus (cut up) in 1/2 stick of butter until softened. (Don’t worry about the size of the dicing, you’re gonna blend it later.) Add 1 tablespoon of garlic, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.

Remove woody ends from stock with slotted spoon and discard, then add shallot/leek/asparagus mixture to stock. Simmer 20 minutes.

To serve: Remove shallot/leek/asparagus with slotted spoon and blend in blender and then add back to stock, add 1/2 c heavy cream and asparagus tips, warm and serve. Top with Parmesan. (I was tempted to put some diced ham in this. Might be yummier, but I’d probably omit the salt.)

Anyone seen a plantation around here?

My aunt lives in Meehan, Mississippi where she married Robert McQueen about fifty years ago. She told me one day an old black man came knocking on her door. She lives in the middle of nowhere, so a stranger knocking on her door was highly unusual. But being in the friendly South (and the fact that she always has a loaded pistol on her), she wasn’t concerned with not knowing the stranger, so she opened the door. He offered to sell her some vegetables. I don’t know if she bought them or not, but the two struck up a conversation.

He asked her if she knew the old Allen Plantation. He said his grandfather worked on it his whole life and it was around the area somewhere. She told him her mother-in-law was an Allen, but she didn’t know if they had a plantation, and she wondered why she had never heard of a family plantation before now.

I began searching for clues. Draw yourself a diagram and follow along. My aunt’s in-laws were William “Mac” McQueen and Mabel Allen, who was the daughter of Preston and Minnie Allen. Mabel’s uncle (Preston’s brother) was Joe Oliver Allen who married Amelia Hand. The couple lived in Amelia’s parents house (Alexander Trotter and Eliza Hand), and after her parents died, the property naturally transferred into the Allen family. I’m convinced the photograph below (circa 1903) is the family plantation the man on my aunt’s porch was speaking of, and if you look on the far left side, you’ll see a black man in the background. His name is George Weeks. My aunt never saw her visitor again, and I wonder if this man in the photo is the grandfather he spoke of.

mcqueen allen home 1903 see notesThe home was located in southwestern Lauderdale County, MS on Point-Wanita Lake Road, just south of Meehan.

Sitting Down in the middle is Eliza O’Ferrall Hand

The two little girls with Eliza are her granddaughters, Alda Allen and Marion Inez Allen.

To the left, Eliza’s daughter Amelia Hand Allen and Amelia’s husband Joe Oliver Allen. Amelia is holding their daughter Velma Estelle Allen.

To the right in the fancy hat is Eliza’s daughter Corette Hand.

The following info is from al and mary dot org

“Note the black man to the far left of the picture. His name is George Weeks. I have been told that right after the Civil War, George showed up at the Hand home, hungry, ragged, and able to speak only a few words of English. He was obviously just a few years from Africa and very confused. The Hand family took him in and he worked for them the rest of his life. The A. T. Hands moved into this home about 1878. Several years after this picture was taken, the old home burned, and the Allens rebuilt on the same site. I can remember the Allen home, having visited there with my parents in the late 1930′s or early 1940′s. What I remember most about the home was a spring located across the road from the house with a hydraulic ram that pumped water up the hill and across the road to a tank that was located to the left of the home.” ~ Albert H Spinks, April 23, 2001.

Saturday Snippet – Savannah’s Bluebird

bluebird_small webHere’s a snippet from my brand new book, Savannah’s Bluebird.


She strolled down to the beach of Lake Pontchartrain and found a quiet spot on the bank. She stared at the ripples of water lapping the shore, mesmerized by the sound, which was accompanied by seabirds whistling and cawing as they flew overhead. She closed her eyes and let the sounds wash over her, attempting to block out the awful world she now lived in. The noise of someone clearing her throat interrupted Savannah’s reverie. She looked around and saw an old woman emerging from the tree line behind her. The woman was covered in layers of bright and ornate scarves and wraps that curled around her in the breeze. Her dark red hair was in a bun on top of her head, but stringy ringlets dripped around her face and neck, tangling themselves in her large hoop earrings.

“I thought I’d find you here.” The old woman cackled as she approached.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You must have me confused with someone else. Do I know you?”

“No, I don’t have you confused with anyone else, dear, and no, you don’t know me.” The old woman had a bulge of tobacco in her cheek, and she spit some sweet-smelling brown juice on the dirt.

Savannah started to rise to leave, made uncomfortable by the weird old woman.

“No, chavi, you need to stay and speak with me. I came down here from Biloxi because I have a gift for you here in my bujo.”

“Your bujo?”

The woman held up her large bag.

Savannah reluctantly sat back down, now curious about the woman.

“You’re from Biloxi?”

“No, dear, I’m from New Orleans, but I’ve lived in Biloxi a few years.” The woman plopped down next to her and began digging deep into the bag. She fished around for a long time and eventually pulled out a small object wrapped in a dirty handkerchief. She looked at it strangely for a moment, and then held it toward Savannah, who did not reach for it.

“Here.” She thrust it into Savannah’s chest. “This is for you. Take it.”

“I’m sure I don’t need any gifts, ma’am.”

“Just open it. It’s baxtalo. You would say…lucky.” She placed it in Savannah’s hand.

Savannah stared at the handkerchief and didn’t move.

“Open it,” the crone demanded.

Savannah placed it on her lap and tried to touch the filthy handkerchief as little as possible as she unfolded it to reveal a small blue object made of glass. She held it up between her thumb and forefinger and saw it was a two-inch-tall bluebird. She turned and awaited an explanation from the old woman.

“I knew you’d like it.” The woman smiled through missing teeth. She twisted her chin to the side and spit more tobacco juice onto the ground.

“But why?”

“I know you’ve had a difficult time since coming here, and I thought this would make you feel better.” The woman turned and stared at the water. Her expression grew solemn and she continued speaking without looking at Savannah. “Fate may not be kind to you, young lady, and you will need this item to face your future.”

“Ma’am, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, you don’t, do you? Tell me about Thomas Blakely.”


“Your father.”

“What do you know about my father?”

“I met him about fifteen years ago…right here on this very beach.” She thumbed a direction over her shoulder. “Right over there at a little watering hole I worked at. He was courting your mother at the time.” She smiled. “I was young then, too, and I must admit, he was a handsome man, and I had eyes for him as well. He was working on those railroad tracks my people destroyed. They were angry that the train was going to go through their homes. I don’t mean near their homes, I mean right through the middle of them. My people have always lived off the land, not in those fancy houses like you live in. It was because of us that your father was here working at the time. It was because of us he met your mother, so I guess it was because of us that you were born.” She paused and kept staring at the small wavelets. “He sure was a handsome man. Too bad he wasn’t one of us.”

“You’re a gypsy.”

The woman nodded.

“Do you live on the beach in Biloxi?”

“Sometimes. Sometimes I live here.”

Savannah looked down at the glass object in her hand. “You’re the one who told my father the bluebird story.”

“Yes, child, I am.” She turned toward Savannah. “The bluebird is magical, and it can do some surprising things.”

“Yes, my father told me.”

The woman didn’t acknowledge her comment. “Sadly, I didn’t plan on him seeing the bluebird while he was with your mother. I was hoping he would see it while he was with…oh, never mind about that. Things happen and life goes on. We all have our own private destiny to live out, even if it affects others.”

Savannah stared at the woman’s face, realizing the woman wasn’t as old as she initially looked. She carried herself like an old woman, but there wasn’t a crease on her face, not a wrinkle around her eyes or lips. She was actually quite pretty in an exotic way.

“So, you were friends with my father?”

“You could say that.”

Savannah didn’t like the cryptic answer. Did this woman love her father? Was the bluebird story a spell to make her father fall in love?

“Tell me about August.”

A shiver went up Savannah’s spine. “How do you know about August?”

“I know everything, child. I know the past, the present”—she looked Savannah in the eyes—“and the future.”

“Are you a fortune teller?”

The woman shrugged. “No, I am no drabarni—fortune teller, as you say.” She spit again and shrugged. “Some people call me a witch, but I’m no witch, either. I just know things. Some people around here call it voodoo, but it’s not voodoo. My people come from a faraway land and some of us have special gifts.”

The woman slowly climbed to her feet with a few grunts and groans. She leaned forward a bit, half hunched as if her back was aching. Her scarves blew wildly around her head as the wind picked up, giving her a mysterious aura. She looked like a witch.

“I will tell you one thing before I go. My son, Bernard, and your August will meet someday, and you will need that little bluebird when the time comes. Keep it close to you. Remember the magic your father told you of the bluebird, and know that this one holds even more power than the story. It is a mulevi. It will make your deepest wish come true if only you will ask. But be careful how you use it, and don’t use it frivolously. You will know beyond a shadow of a doubt when the time comes, and it will be the most powerful thing you will ever witness.”

“What’s a mulevi?”

“An item to reach the dead.”


Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks.