New Release! “John Culpepper the Merchant”

51hHerBrPbL._UY250_If you’ve been following along, I’ve been writing a four-book series on 17th century John Culpepper who was my 10th great-grandfather. He was born in 1606 in Kent, England and was trained as a lawyer in his youth, but his greatest desire was to command a ship. Against his father’s wishes, when he was in his twenties, he purchased a ship, and his father never spoke to him again. His childhood story is told in the first book of the series, “I, John Culpepper.”

The Merchant ebookMy new release, the second book “John Culpepper the Merchant,” begins in 1642 and follows John to the colony of Virginia, but it more-or-less leaves him there as England finds itself in an uproar. The King had been angering his citizens with his religious antics since he took the throne in 1625, and the citizens had had enough. Parliament began fighting back and effectively split the country in two – the parliamentarians vs. the royalists. As civil war raged on, John returned over and over, but by the time he reached his wife and family, the fighting had usually died down. By the time he returned to Virginia, it had started back up again.

While everyone hoped the bloodshed would soon end, the members of Parliament, namely Oliver Cromwell, had other plans. He wanted to take over the country, he wanted the king dead, he would stop at nothing. After the king’s surrender, kidnapping, trial, and ultimately, his execution, the royalists found themselves at the mercy of Cromwell, and John had only one choice. He had to return to England under the cloak of darkness and rescue his family from certain death. It’s a good thing he had a ship and didn’t listen to his father.

“John Culpepper the Merchant” is available in Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

The third book in the series, “John Culpepper, Esquire,” will be released July 2015.

For pictures, paintings, and documents of the people and places in the series, visit the Culpepper Saga Facebook page.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Cover Reveal!

2a2It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I’ve been reading “John Culpepper the Merchant” by Lori Crane. LOL!

It’s my book, so I guess I’m cheating a little bit on posting it for this blog, but if I don’t make sure it’s error free before release, someone will lose their marbles, and we don’t want that to happen. So…I’ve been in final edit, proofread, flip-flop mode, wavering between thinking it’s-not-ready-for-release and it’s-the-best-book-ever. Truthfully, it’s probably somewhere in the middle, but as all my author friends know, that’s what we do. Flip-flopping is our most time-consuming hobby. :)


The Merchant ebookI’d also like to show off the new cover. Isn’t it so cool? My cover designer is amazing!

The book will be out in a few days and I’m tickled pink!


For hundreds of years, the Culpepper family backed the monarchy, but when King Charles disbanded Parliament, married a Catholic princess, and appointed an archbishop who was a Catholic supporter, the royalist Culpeppers found themselves at odds with their friends and neighbors.

Years earlier, against his family’s wishes, John had purchased a merchant ship, sailed to Virginia, and spent most of his time there. While on American soil, he received word of the uprisings that followed the king’s actions.

When civil war began, John feared for the safety of his family in England. He was horrified when the king was captured, convicted of high treason, and beheaded. Would John’s family be next? The only way to rescue them would be with his ship, under the cloak of darkness. Would he succeed, or would they all be caught and tried as traitors?

John Culpepper the Merchant is the second book in the Culpepper saga and is the story of the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers. He was the author’s tenth great-grandfather.

George Goring, the Earl of Norwich

In place of my usual Saturday Snippets in May, I’m writing of the people and places in my coming book, “John Culpepper the Merchant,” which is the second book in the Culpepper Saga.

67_13_8George Goring was born in 1585 and was a politician and a soldier. He served the House of Commons 1621-28. When trouble started between King Charles and Parliament in 1640, Goring took the king’s side. He stayed abroad, soliciting help from other countries, but when Parliament intercepted a letter to the queen, he was found out and charged with high treason. He stayed out of the country until ’47, but when he returned, it was with gusto. He raised an army of 10,000 men in Kent and fought against the parliamentarian army, losing at Maidstone, and being forced to surrender at Colchester.

He remained in the tower during the king’s trial and beheading on 30 January 1649. He was brought before Parliament in March of that year and found guilty of treason to which he was sentenced to death. His family begged for leniency and the deciding vote cast by the speaker of the house found him Not Guilty.  He fled to Denmark to watch over the exiled prince, and returned to London when the prince was brought into power as King Charles II in 1660.

He died in Brentford, just outside of London, on 6 January 1663.

In my book, Goring is a family friend of Colonel Thomas Culpepper and Sir Alexander Culpepper (John’s brother and uncle), and Goring’s daughter is instrumental in getting word to John in Virginia to come to England to rescue his family.

“John Culpepper the Merchant” will be released May 24, 2015.

52 Ancestors #20 Horace Pappy Crane


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small,

and this week’s challenge is “Black Sheep.”

This topic made me laugh as the first person to come to mind was my great uncle Horace “Pappy” Crane. Uncle Horace was born 2 February 1905 to Amos Bolivar Crane and Mary Elizabeth “Minnie” White in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. He was the second of six children. In the following photograph, he is on the bottom far left. The boy on the far right is my grandfather Andrew Franklin Crane.

Amos Crane and Minnie White with Horace, Minnie Ellen, and Frank

Uncle Horace’s claim to fame was driving car #58 in Nascar and surviving a roll-over crash at Daytona in 1960.

This funny black sheep story about him has been pieced together from various relatives and may be a little fuzzy as I have no documentation of the events.

Uncle Horace lived in a modest home in Mississippi and sold off the acres of his property to a builder. The sale did not include his own home, of course. The builder constructed beautiful, expensive homes on the land and eventually came to Uncle Horace to ask when he was going to rebuild. Uncle Horace didn’t realize it at the time, but he had apparently signed a paper stating he would tear down his shack and build a larger, more expensive home in its place. Well, he didn’t have the money to build a new home, so he figured he could make it happen through insurance money and he burnt his own home down.

The arrest happened when the arson investigators found the home was set ablaze with the same mixture of fuel he used to race with. Ooops.

Fortunately for him, he only received probation for the arson, but a while later, he got into a drunken fight in a bar and had a pistol on him – which was against his probation. He spent time behind bars for violating probation.

Uncle Horace was the family character everyone has stories about, and the above tale is just the tip of the iceberg. He was very loved. He died 6 February 1985 and is laid to rest at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Zero, Lauderdale County, Mississippi.

crane, horace t

Oliver Cromwell. Regicidal dictator or hero of liberty?

In place of my usual Saturday Snippets for the month of May, I’m posting about the people and places in my coming book “John Culpepper the Merchant,” which is the second book in the Culpepper Saga.

Oliver_CromwellOne of the most controversial figures in my coming book is Oliver Cromwell. He was born into mild obscurity and remained nearly invisible for the first forty years of his life, serving in Parliament, but not accomplishing anything of significance. But in 1640, he stepped into the spotlight.

The king had been aggravating his country with religious rhetoric since his coronation in 1625, and Parliament had stepped forward and addressed the king with a list of grievances. After political struggles for a year between the king and Parliament, the king finally declared war on Parliament. Cromwell, a devout puritan who believed God guided his every move, stepped forward to command the cavalry of the parliamentarian army.

His command and influence grew and at the end of the war, under his leadership, the king was tried and found guilty of treason. Cromwell was the third of fifty-nine men to step forward and add his signature and seal to the king’s death warrant (photo). Following the king’s execution 30 January 1649, Cromwell led England as the English Commonwealth for nine years.

Charles I death warrant

After Cromwell died in 1658, the members of Parliament brought back the Stuart monarchy, declaring Prince Charles to be king since his father’s death years earlier. They acted as if the last decade had never happened.

The prince, now King Charles II, took the throne, and on 30 January 1661, the anniversary of his father’s execution, he had Cromwell’s body exhumed and posthumously executed. Cromwell’s body was hung in chains and his severed head was displayed on a pole outside of Westminster Hall, where the trial of the king had taken place.

Some historians consider Cromwell a hero, some a revolutionary, some a dictator, but at least this ‘nobody’ has not been forgotten. In my coming book, he is enemies with my Culpepper family, so I’m certainly not fond of him.

“John Culpepper the Merchant” will be released May 24, 2015.

52 Ancestors #19 Martha Ellen Rodgers


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small,

and this week’s challenge is “There’s a Way” which I’ve translated into “travel.”

Years ago I came across a cousin born 4 April 1853. Her father and my 3rd great-grandma were siblings. She was the middle child of five born to James Rodgers and Martha Sanderford in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. When the Civil War began in ’62, her father was too old to serve, so he safely stayed home with her. Yet, things don’t always turn out for the best. The winter of ’62/63 saw a typhoid epidemic in the county and her parents died within days of each other. She was nine. Her name was Martha Ellen Rodgers, known simply as Ellen.

James daughter Martha Ellen Rodgers Meek

Due to all of her uncles fighting the war, she and her siblings moved in with her aunt Mary. Mary had four children of her own and her husband had just been killed in the war 31 December 1862. I can imagine how devastated the family was at that time, and probably hungry and scared.

When the war ended, Ellen was transferred to the custody of her only surviving uncle, Hays Rodgers, who packed up the family and moved to Alabama. The journey there would have been by ox-pulled wagons and would have taken a week. For someone who had never been more than a mile from her childhood home, this must have been quite an adventure. There was also another aunt living in Alabama at the time, Elizabeth, and at some point, Ellen moved in with her.

When I found Ellen had returned to Mississippi alone in 1875, I didn’t understand why, but soon found out that Aunt Elizabeth died that year at the young age of 36. I assume Ellen returned home to stay with her aunt Mary, as she was only 22 years old. The only way to travel from AL to MS at the time was by wagon train as most of the railroad lines were still under repair from their destruction by Sherman’s army. Traveling alone with a bunch of people in a wagon train must have been quite an experience.

The next record of Ellen is found ten years later in 1885. She appears in Texas and is married to Sam Houston Meek. How did she end up there? I found her two brothers had moved there at the end of the war with some other family members (apparently the children were separated), and she probably went out to visit them. One of her brothers was married to Sam’s sister, which explains how she met Sam. From my research, I found the travel from MS to TX would have involved three trains and about ten days. Imagine a young woman traveling alone on three different trains across the 1800s wild west.

Ellen and Sam were only married five years. She died in childbirth at the age of 37. She is buried at Pleasantville Cemetery in Nolanville, Bell County, Texas.

Her story is told in detail in my book An Orphan’s Heart.

rodgers martha ellen rodgers meek, dau of james rodgers

General Thomas Fairfax or Black Tom

In place of my usual Saturday Snippets for the month of May, I’ll be posting about the characters and places in my coming book, “John Culpepper the Merchant.” It’s the second in the Culpepper Saga.

General_Thomas_Fairfax_(1612-1671The book starts in 1640 at the onset of the English Civil War, and one of the characters my hero’s family keeps running into in battle is General Thomas Fairfax (photo). The Culpepper family backed the king as royalists, Fairfax backed Parliament and became the general of the parliamentarian army.

Thomas Fairfax was the 3rd lord of Cameron. He was born into the gentry class January 1612 and was a talented army commander, claiming many victories during the war. He served in Parliament with Oliver Cromwell, but became disenchanted with Cromwell’s policies after Cromwell conquered a town, then murdered one hundred of the three hundred people who surrendered.

Nearing the end of the war, Cromwell had the king in custody and charged him with treason, the consequences of the charge would be beheading. The day the court gathered to sign the king’s death warrant in January of 1650, Fairfax was a no-show. He sent his wife to tell the court that they shouldn’t have elected him to the court for he had no interest in killing the king. He resigned from the army, leaving Cromwell in control the country.

Upon Cromwell’s death in 1659, Fairfax was active in restoring the monarchy to the Stuarts, which conveniently made him exempt from the punishments the new king exacted on the other leaders of the revolution.

Leeds_Maidstone_Fairfax_Doublet_1648His dark hair and eyes earned him the nickname “Black Tom.” This photo is the doublet he wore in 1648 at the battle of Maidstone, which is a whole chapter in my coming book where he fought directly with Thomas Culpepper (our hero’s brother), and you can read a little about it HERE.

General Fairfax died in 1671 with no sons to take his title of baron, so it was given to his cousin Henry Fairfax. In the future (though not in the Culpepper Saga because it ends before this time) Lord Thomas Fairfax 5th baron of Cameron (Henry’s son) will marry a Culpepper granddaughter. It must have been highly scandalous as their grandfathers were trying to kill each other a few years earlier. Perhaps I should plan on writing another book, The Culpepper-Fairfax Scandal.  :)

“John Culpepper the Merchant” will be released May 24, 2015.