Friday, February 23, 2018

Hedy Larmarr, More than a Beautiful Face

Susan Page Davis here.

Hedy Lamarr in 1940
Public Domain photo

Hedy Lamarr is best known as an actress, but she had many other talents, too. In fact, she contributed to wireless communication technology that helped win World Wars and has been used in many other applications, including cell phones.

Hedy in Lady Without a Passport, 1950, public domain photo
Born in Austria in 1914, Hedy lived in Vienna during the time when Nazi Germany was on the rise. Her original name was Hedwig Kiesler, and she became an actress in the 1920s. She was taken to Berlin for training in theater, then returned to Vienna. She acted both on stage and in films.

In 1933, she married Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy Austrian arms dealer and munitions manufacturer. She was 18, and Mandl was fifteen years older. Hedy later described him as extremely controlling and said she was a prisoner in their luxurious home. Mandl took her to all his business meetings, and it was there that Hedy paid attention and learned about advanced weaponry.

Hedy grew to hate the Nazis. After four years of marriage, she escaped to London. There she met Louis B. Mayer, and he brought her to the United States and gave her a movie contract and a new name (Lamarr).

Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr in Comrade X, 1940
Public domain

After she came to the United States, Lamarr forged an illustrious career in Hollywood. Among other credits, she starred with Clark Gable in Boom Town and Comrade X, with Spencer Tracy in I Take This Woman and Tortilla Flat, opposite Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy, and Jimmy Stewart in Ziegfeld Girl and Come Live with Me. She appeared in about thirty films during her career.

She met American composer George Antheil, and with him devised a plan to help the war effort. They developed a communications system that could be used in radio-controlled torpedoes to help defeat the Nazis. This worked by manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals. This system could also prevent the enemy from intercepting messages. They received a patent in 1941.

Unfortunately, when Hedy offered her invention to the U.S. government, they rejected it.  They did not realize how important this invention could be. The pair donated their invention to the war effort. Hedy was encouraged to stick with her successful acting career. One of her many patriotic efforts was to sell war bonds, which she did very successfully.

Hedy in 1939 film Lady of the Tropics
Public domain photo
The communications idea wasn’t used until the navy implemented it on blockade ships during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. After that, its significance was acknowledged, and it was used in many military applications. However, it was first used three years after the Lamarr-Antheil patent expired, and they did not receive any compensation for their patent.

In addition to its usefulness to the armed forces, the technology was a big step forward in digital communications. Cell phones, fax machines, and other modern devices are possible in part because of this system.

In 1997, Lamarr and Anthiel were finally honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award. The same year, Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, a lifetime accomplishment prize for inventors that is referred to as the Oscar of inventing.

Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing to win your choice of one of my novels. Pick an old favorite like Frasier Island or a new release such as Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers.

Susan Page Davis is the award-winning author of more than eighty novels and novellas in the historical, romance, mystery, and suspense genres. She’s always interested in unusual events of the past. A Maine native, she now lives in western Kentucky.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Whatever Happened to Sardines?

By Marilyn Turk

In January 2018, a strong winter blizzard brought high tides and strong winds to downeast Maine, causing the brining shed of the last herring smokehouse in Lubec, Maine, to blow off its pilings and float away. The 100-year-old building had been one of five buildings on the national historic register at McCurdy’s, the last traditional smoked-herring facility in the United States, when it closed in 1991.

Collapsed brining shed, Lubec, Maine, 2018

For almost a century, the town of Lubec was known as the “sardine capital of the world,” noted for its prominence of raw, pickled and smoked herring production. The last sardine cannery in Maine, Stinson Foods in Prospect Harbor, where sardine cans were still packed by hand, closed in April 2010.

Sardine canning was once as much a part of Maine’s coastal heritage as lobster boats. In 1950, there were 46 sardine plants in Maine. The industry boomed during World War II when it supplied American troops with the easily carried food item. But the sardine industry began its decline in the mid 1950’s as consumers switched their preference to canned tuna.

The sardine industry on the West Coast, made famous by John Steinbeck's 1945 novel, Cannery Row, hit its peak in California in 1936-37.

Today, sardines caught in the Pacific are frozen and shipped to tuna farms around the world to provide food for tuna. However, sardines are still popular for human consumption outside the United States, and canneries can be found in Scotland, Norway, Poland and other Baltic countries, Mexico, South America and Southeast Asia.

Did you ever eat sardines? My father used to love them with onions and  mustard on crackers, but I never developed a taste for them.

Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction set on the coast. The Gilded Curse, a World War II novel, published in 2016, won a Silver Scroll award and its sequel, Shadow of the Curse, will be out in July 2018. Rebel Light was the first book of her Coastal Lights Legacy novels which feature stories with lighthouse settings. The second book in the series, Revealing Light will come out in 2018. In addition, Marilyn’s novella, The Wrong Survivor, will be in a collection called Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides coming out in November 2018. She has also written a book of devotions called Lighthouse Devotions. She is also a regular contributor to the Daily Guideposts devotional book. Find her at where she blogs about lighthouses and writing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dreams and Destinies at Michilimackinac

And I'm doing a giveaway this week! Scroll down to the end of the article for more informaiton.

In January I wrote about the history of Colonial Michilimackinac, a fort that was built by the French, taken over by the British, and then destroyed once it was moved to a more strategic location on Mackinac Island. But what was the fate of two fur traders during the surprise attack in 1763? One, Charles de Langlade, was Metis—of French and Odawa ancestry. The other man, Alexander Henry, was born in in the colony of New Jersey. 

Portrait of Alexander Henry. (C-1036121—National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario) -, Public Domain,

Henry worked during the French and Indian War, as a merchant in Albany, New York, supplying the British troops. A fur trader told him of the riches to be had on Lake Superior and at Michilimackinac in the fur trade. He traveled to the area, disguised as a voyageur because he’d been warned of the enmity between the English and the Ojibwa. And, later his life was saved because a minor Ojibwa chief, Wawatam, had a dream about making an Englishman his brother and he was adopted by Wawatam. 

Charles de Langlade had been educated by Jesuits, but his first language was Odawa. When he was ten years old, his uncle, the war chief, Nissowaquet, had a dream that if they took the boy into battle with them, they would win. Thus began his military career as he went into battle that day against the Chickasaw. By then his father had established a fur trading post in what is now Wisconsin.

Voyageurs in a canoe, "Quetico Superior Route, passing a waterfall," By Frances Anne Hopkins - This image is available from Library and Archives Canada, Public Domain,
As an adult he led Native Americans and fought on the side of the French during the French and Indian Wars. He was well respected by the native peoples. As tensions mounted between the French and English in the 1740s, de Langlade stayed with the French. He distinguished himself in a battle against pro-British forces and a British fur trader. He was awarded a pension and appointed as an Indian agent. 

In 1750 he married Agathe, an Odawa woman, and started his family. Nobody knows what actually happened to this relationship but it was dissolved and he married again, this time to Charlotte Bourassa, a wealthy merchant’s daughter from Montreal. 

During the 1750s, he continued to side with the French during the French and Indian War. Governor Duquesne asked him to raise up an armed force from the native peoples. He went on to lead them into victory over the British General Edward Braddock in Pennsylvania. After the war was won by the British, de Langlade settled in at Fort Michilimackinac as second in command of the French forces.

After New France passed into British rule, they also took over the fort. By October of that year the French had evacuated. However, Charles de Langlade remained as a fur trader and his family stayed with him.

Inside Fort Michilimackinac, by Left Hook~commonswiki, 2006 [cc]

In 1763, the local Ojibwa, as part of Chief Pontiac’s uprising, took part in a surprise attack on Fort Michilimackinac. They invited the English to watch them play Baggatiway, a game much like lacrosse, during festivities of the English king’s birthday. When a ball went through the open gates the native American warriors collected the knives and tomahawks hidden beneath the blankets their wives had wrapped around themselves, despite the June weather. 

Charles de Langlade had warned the commanding officer, George Etherington of the likelihood of attack. Safe inside with his family, de Langlade waited things out. 

By this time, Alexander Henry was his next door neighbor. He watched through his window as the English were led away to slaughter while those of French Canadian descent were left alone. He hurried to de Langlade’s door and pleaded for protection. De Langlade basically asked Henry what he wanted him to do about it, in French. However his Panis (a Pawnee captured and enslaved by another tribe) slave girl took pity on Henry and hid him in the attic. 

"Ball Players," by George Catlin - [1], Public Domain,

The next day the Ojibwa found him and he was taken with other prisoners and forced into a canoe. The hungry prisoners were taunted by the warriors offering them bread spread with blood from their knives. 
Due to fog, the canoe wound up at what is now Cross Village, where some Odawa were encamped, rather than their intended destination. The Odawa were angry not to have been asked to take part in the raid. They seized the Ojibwa’s prisoners and took them back to the fort. Eventually, they were released into the hands of the Ojibwa.

This is where Wawatam, recognizing Henry as the man from his dream, adopted him as his brother. Henry later found several of the other prisoners he’d been with had been executed. Henry went on to write of his adventures in the memoir, Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories between the years 1760 and 1776, for which he became quite well known. 

Both he and de Langlade went on to live full lives. De Langlade made Green Bay his permanent home and fought on the British side during the Revolutionary War. 

Alexander Henry settled in Montreal as a merchant, still connected to the fur trade, after he left Michilimackinac in 1781. He’d left his Native American family behind and married Julia Kittson in 1785. He went on to make and lose at least one fortune. 

I found it very interesting how the lives of these two men intersected at Fort Michilimackinac. Though from distinctly different backgrounds, they had much in common. 

Whether de Langlade wanted to eliminate competition to his fur trade or was antagonistic toward Henry for another reason, no one knows why he denied help to his neighbor during the surprise attack. But as we can see, God had other plans for rescuing Henry and we can rest assured His plans are good for us even when they don't seem to make sense. 

Do you have a favorite historical place you’ve visited and have been fascinated by its story? Please share in the comments below! 

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and the novella, The Pocket Watch. She is a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of 36 years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.

Please leave a comment by Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 for the chance to win a copy of either Rumors and Promises or Secrets and Wishes, winner's choice. U.S. winner only will be eligible to receive a paperback copy, Kindle copy available for an international winner.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Ordeal of Fanny Kelly, Captive of the Sioux

The plight of American pioneer women captured by local tribes has long sparked my imagination. The struggle to survive in a foreign culture amid trials of endurance whisper stories to me. I finally gave into the temptation to write one of them in Cheyenne Sunrise, a western historical romance set in a time of unrest in the Wild West. My research for this story led me to an account by Fanny Kelly of her capture and imprisonment by the Sioux. Since the Cheyenne and Sioux were allied tribes, I based many of the events in Cheyenne Sunrise on Fanny’s experiences.

Fanny Kelly in 1871

Born Fanny Wiggins in 1845, she lived in present-day Canada until her father, James Wiggins, relocated his family to Kansas in 1856. Unfortunately, Fanny’s father died of cholera during the journey. Fanny and the rest of her family settled in Geneva, Kansas. When she came of age, Fanny married Josiah S. Kelly, a man who hoped to bolster his poor health with a change in climate. He set out for Montana Territory in the spring of 1864 with Fanny, Mary Hurley, their seven-year-old adopted daughter and Fanny’s niece, plus two ‘colored’ servants, Franklin and Andy. A Methodist preacher named Mr. Sharp soon joined their party. Another couple, William and Sarah Larimer with their eight-year-old son, Frank, left a larger wagon train to travel with them. Two other men, Gardner Wakefied and Noah Taylor, fell in with the Kellys also. The company preferred the faster speed a smaller party could make. They paid a tragic price for this decision.

After reaching Wyoming’s Little Box Elder Creek on July 12th, they were approached by a large band of perhaps 250 Oglala Sioux warriors led by the war chief, Ottawa. Terrified, they did their best to appease the warriors, doling out their supplies on request and even preparing a meal for the warriors. The Sioux engaged in increasingly rowdy behavior, then attacked the party while several of the men, including Mr. Kelly, were away from the wagons. They killed Mr. Sharp, Noah Taylor, and Franklin outright and wounded Gardner Wakefield and William Larimer. The other men escaped. Another wagon train that happened on the scene raced away, but warriors pursued them and killed one their number. The remaining Sioux looted the five wagons, then forced Fanny, Sarah, and the two ride off with them.

Fearful of what their captors planned, Fanny explained to little Mary that she would drop her to the ground, and that she must run back along the trail until she found someone to help her. With the volume of travelers on the Oregon Trail at the time, this seemed a logical plan to her. Mary agreed, and Fanny dropped her, then was immediately seized by the desire to join her. She attempted to follow but was recaptured while several warriors rode off after Mary.

Josiah Kelly and the servant, Andy, along with the wagon party that had chanced upon the site of the massacre, sought the protection of a large wagon train miles distant. They later returned to the scene and found William Larimer with an arrow in his arm and Wakefield pierced by three arrows but alive. They found Mary Hurley’s scalped and mutilated body several days later. After burying her, the party traveled to Deer Creek Station to inform the army garrison of the incident.

Sarah Larimer managed to escape with her son. She and Frank reunited with William at Deer Creek Station. After William’s recovery, the family returned to Kansas.

Sarah’s escape had a profound impact on Fanny, for it served to isolate her all the more. She fell under the protection of the old chief, but angered him by losing his pipe. Overloaded with things to carry and unaware of its importance, she had dropped and broken the pipe. The old chief announced her punishment. She would be tied to the back of an unbroken horse and used for target practice by the warriors. Certain she would die, she opened her pouch and distributed banknotes to her captors. This charmed them so much that she escaped her planned fate. Divine intervention, as Fanny freely acknowledges, appears to have saved her.

I based an incident in Cheyenne Sunrise on this story and borrowed details of scenery from Fanny’s journey to the Sioux village for my book.

Efforts to free Fanny were finally successful, and she rejoined her husband, who never tired in his pursuit of a way to free her. The Kellys returned to Kansas, where an outbreak of cholera claimed Josiah’s life in July 1867, shortly before Fanny gave birth to their child.

Researching a historical novel can be heartbreaking. I found Fanny’s account of her captivity among the Sioux hard to read, especially the parts about little Mary. Despite everything, Fanny’s abiding faith in the Lord inspired my own.

About Janalyn Voigt

My father instilled a love of literature in me at an early age by reading chapters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe and other classics. When I grew older, and he stopped reading bedtime stories, I put myself to sleep with tales I 'wrote' in my head. My sixth-grade teacher noticed my interest in storytelling and influenced me to become a writer.

I'm what is known as a multi-genre author, but I like to think of myself as a storyteller. The same elements appear in all my novels in proportions dictated by their genre: romance, mystery, adventure, history, and whimsy.


Cheyenne Sunrise (Montana Gold, book 2)

Romantic Times: "Janalyn Voigt is a talented writer and brings to life the long-ago wild west with vivid descriptions of the landscape."
Young Irish widow Bry Brennan doesn’t want another husband to break her spirit. She ignores her fascination with Nick Laramie, her wagon train's handsome trail guide. Nick lives in an uneasy truce between the settlers and his mother’s tribe without fully fitting in among either. With no intention of dragging a woman into his troubles, he stifles his yearning for Bry.

The perilous journey throws the two together, leaving Bry no choice but to trust Nick with her life. Can she also trust him with her heart?

Monday, February 19, 2018

US Army in Oklahoma--A True Tale of Cowboys and Indians Part 3

Fort Gibson, 1870's Wikipedia, public domain
By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Thank you for joining us this month in our discovery of the effects that the different branches of the U.S. military have had on the development of the state of Oklahoma. For the last two months, we have delved into the history of the US Army, up to the end of the War Between the States (WBtS).

This month, we cover the time period after the WBtS going to the land runs/ lotteries.

On the national level, the time period just after the WBtS is known as the reconstruction period. This period is a time of social change and military occupation, particularly in the south. In the Indian Territory, the tribes had split, one side for the United States, the other for the Confederate States.

In 1867, following numerous raids, the Department of the Interior, at the insistence of the newly formed states of Kansas and Nebraska, formed a series of treaties that created the Cheyenne-Arapaho and the Kiowa-Commanche reservations. This helped to frustrate the already closed-in feeling tribes. The plains tribes resisted the move to the reservations, and tensions increased. The army was tasked with being a peace keeping force in the territory. They protected not only the eastern tribes from the plains tribes, but also the white settlers that were moving through the area.

Tensions rose steadily, however, as not all tribes ascribed to the war-like ideals of the plains tribes. In 1874 war broke out in the conflict now known as the Red River War. In one of the first conflicts, Lieutenant Colonel Custer led a raid against Chief Black Kettle’s camp. Tragically, or rather ironically, Black Kettle was known as a “peace chief”.

The Red River War lasted through into 1875, ending in the “Sand Hill Fight” on April 6th 1875. In 1887, the Dawes Severalty Act ended the reservation system in the Indian Territory, and opened up the lands reserved for the tribes, thus leading to the Land Runs, which began in 1889.

There were 5 major land runs, and several smaller ones throughout the next 13 years. The 1st of the major land runs occurred on April 22nd 1889, where the “Unassigned Lands” were opened to settlement. This land run opened up what became Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan and Oklahoma counties. This is what is commonly referred to as the “Oklahoma Land Run”, however it was only the first in the series of them.

The 2nd major land run was in fact 3 smaller land runs occurring between September 22nd and 28th of 1891, and opened up the settlement of what eventually became Lincoln, Pottowatomie, and Seminole counties.
The 3rd was the Cheyenne-Arapaho reservation lands, occurring in April 19, 1892, and opened up the lands that would become Blaine, Custer, Dewey, Washita, and Roger Mills counties.

The 4th was the Cherokee Outlet on April 19th 1893--also mistakenly referred to as the Cherokee Strip Land Run--which opened the lands of the entire Cherokee Outlet. This area ranged from essentially lands east of current day Enid, all the way to current day Woodward, thus opening close to 1/8th of what would become the state of Oklahoma.

The 5th and final major land run on May 23rd of 1895, was the opening of the Kickapoo lands, which opened the remainder of current-day eastern Oklahoma and western Pottowatomie counties. After this land run, a critical change was made and, other than several considerably smaller land runs, was the end of the “Land Run Experiment”, and was considered to be an inefficient way to distribute the land.

While it is commonly held that after the Kickapoo land run, the land was distributed by lottery, and bids, there was actually one more minor land run, which allocated land in the current town of Arcadia, Oklahoma. That land run occurred on August 8th 1901.

During each of these land runs, and the settlement directly afterwards, the U.S. Army was tasked with keeping the peace, as well as preventing the “Sooners” from being able to claim jump the most choice lands, and to help keep down theft of the lands for the claimants. Unfortunately, corruption ran a bit rampant, and there are many stories of not only Sooners, but also of claimants being wiped out by claim jumpers.

It was during this time frame that the U.S. Cavalry, and by extension the Army, held ultimate authority of law in the land. There were several U.S. Marshals in the territory, such as Bass Reeves, and Frank Dalton. When the cards were on the table, however, each of these marshals had the authority to call in the cavalry, to put down any insurrections, etc. if it was deemed necessary. Each of the towns had their own marshal, as well as many (like Oklahoma City, Edmond, Guthrie, Stillwater, and Norman) had their own police force enforcing the edicts of the city ordinances.

Join us next month as we explore the history of the U.S. Army, and its effects on the history of this grand state, known as Oklahoma during its statehood, and afterward.

Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Alanna loves the history of the state and relishes in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna lives with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. She is currently working on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

WWI Sheet Music

By Nancy Farrier

Toward the end of 2017, I received a box of sheet music that belonged to my grandmother, music from the early 1900’s. Some of the pages are very fragile, but I thought during the coming year I would share some of these songs with you and we could learn a little about the history of the song and the composer. For this month, I chose to look at the songs from WWI.

The first song is called, Cheer Up, Mother by Mary Earl. I had trouble finding out anything about Mary Earl until I discovered her name is a pseudonym for Robert A. “Bobo” King. I have no idea why he chose to use a female name for some of his songs, but I did read that it has been hard to track all the songs he wrote due to his use of pseudonyms.

Robert began taking music lessons when he was six-years-old. He worked in a music store at an early age. In 1903, he published his first hit song, Anona. He later went to work for Shapiro-Bernstein Music Publisher writing four songs per month. He produced some hits under his pseudonym, Mary Earl, but Cheer Up, Mother is one of the lesser known songs.

When the Yanks Come Home, with lyrics by William Jerome was again not one of his most popular. Seymour Furth wrote the music to his song, but I didn’t find out anything about him. William Jerome had a good career composing music and some hit songs. The man’s picture on the cover is the singer who performed the song, William J. Reilly, USN.

Jerome began singing and dancing in vaudeville at seventeen. He worked with many other musicians, but his time paired with Jean Swartz is the most memorable. They wrote many songs and were recognized as some of the best songwriters of the early 20th century. In 1917, Jerome composed the very popular Over There with George M. Cohen. He later sold the song rights for $25,000, the highest amount paid for a song at that time.

It’s a Long, Long Way to the U.S.A. (And the Girl I Left Behind Me), lyrics by Val Trainor and music It’s a Long Way to Tipperary. Trainor and Tilzer’s song was popular in 1917 and tells the story of dying soldier longing for one more chance to see his little girl and mother.  The following chorus shows how he longed to be home again.
by Harry Von Tilzer. The title mimicked the very popular

“It’s a long, long way to U.S.A.
And the girl I left behind;
And if you get back some day,
Give my love to her and say
That her boy was true;
Tell dear mother, too,
Just to always treat her kind.
It’s a long, long way to the U.S.A.
And the girl I left behind.”

Till We Meet Again, music by Richard A. Whiting, lyrics by Raymond B. Egan sold millions of copies. According to one story, the song was slated for a contest in 1918, but Whiting decided he didn’t like the song. He threw the music in the trash, but his secretary retrieved it and submitted theTill We Meet Again went on to win top honors and became a huge hit when released. The song was a Canadian hit too.

The story is that of a soldier parting with his sweetheart as he goes off to war. The lyrics tell of the hope they share for his return.

Smile the while you kiss me sad adieu,
When the clouds roll by I’ll come to you,
Then the skies will seem more blue,
Down in lovers land my dearie,
Wedding bells will ring so merrily,
Every tear will be a memory,
So wait and pray each night for me,
Till we meet again.

I love the lyrics and history behind these old songs. I didn’t remember hearing any of these songs I’ve highlighted but their story is fascinating. Do you remember these songs? What is a favorite from the early 1900’s that you’ve heard?

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and two grandsons. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: