Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Faith, the Brave Little Church Cat of WWII

In September, when I shared stories of some cats from World War II, 
I promised to share the story of a special cat who deserved a post of her own! Her touching story brought a tear to my eye.

On Watling Street in London at St. Augustine's and St. Faith's rectory, Fr. Henry Ross had an unexpected visitor. A thin little cat had followed the aroma of breakfast to the second floor. Ther verger (one who takes care of the sanctuary and order of service) tried to throw the persistent feline out for the third time. Henry was concerned the cat looked thin and cold. The verger's wife liked cats and Henry asked if she would bring a box for the little feline along with some bowls for feeding her.

Used with permission from
article: "Faith, the Church Cat"
After no one in the congregation answered Henry’s message in the church bulletin, attempting to find the cat’s true home, he happily made her the church cat and thought that the name “Faith” would fit, since she hadn’t given up on finding a home in the church. Faith enjoyed the full range of the church and mice to catch. She grew fatter and even attended services. She curled up at Fr. Ross’ feet as he preached. When he wasn’t the celebrant, she sat on the front pew. The little cat became a well-loved fixture in the church.

In 1940 she’d grown plumper than usual and it was discovered she was expecting. One August morning, Henry found she’d given birth to a male kitten. Due to his black and white markings he was named “Panda.”

On September 6, Faith somehow communicated to Henry to follow her all the way from the second floor down to the basement door. She persisted until he opened it for her. Faith made her way down to the basement and Henry left the door open for her. Later, she transported her kitten, Panda, down to the cold, musty basement.

When Faith's basket stayed empty. Henry found them in the basement both between two piles of retired sheet music. He brought Panda back upstairs to where the two cats would be warmer while Faith followed. 

Lucka97, 2011,(CC) from Wikimedia Commons.
Perhaps, with his black ears and tail, and
white body, Panda looked a little like this kitten.
Henry went to lead a church service, but Faith didn’t attend that time. Instead, he later found she had taken Panda back to the basement. He brought the kitten up again. This happened a few times before he decided to consult the verger’s wife and some of the other church ladies. They seemed to believe that Faith felt her kitten was in some sort of danger.

On September 9, Henry rode his bike to Westminster for business. When he was returning later that day, the air raid sirens had begun. He was forced to spend the night in a shelter. The next day, amidst the destruction he made his way back to Watling Street. Though the church tower still stood, most of the church was a twisted mess.

A fireman warned Henry that what was left of the roof could collapse at any moment. Still, Father Ross searched determinedly through the rubble for his beloved feline companions. He called to Faith until he heard a faint mew. He finally found her under the old singed sheet music, nursing her kitten, while surrounded by the smoking rubble.

St. Augustine's, Watling Street
London, by ChrisO, current photo,
from Wikipedia.org (CC)

Henry, overjoyed, moved them to safety before the roof collapsed. The verger and his wife invited him and the cats to stay with them until the rectory would again be inhabitable.

In 1945, Faith was given an honorary Dickin medal and citation for her bravery, even though she wasn’t a military cat. The Archbishop of Canterbury even attended the ceremony at St. Augustine’s! Even across the pond, the Greenwich Village Humane League in New York had gotten wind of her story and made sure her story was printed and shared.

Panda grew up into a handsome tom and eventually went to become the in-residence cat at a nursing home, where I’m guessing he brought joy to many of the residents. Then one morning in 1948, after Henry gave Faith her breakfast, she laid down in front of the fireplace for a nap and peacefully passed away.

She was buried near the churchyard gate and was remembered by the congregation in a service. After her act of bravery to protect her kitten during the Luftwaffe bombing, her photograph was placed on a chapel wall with this tribute below it:

Photo from Popular Social Science article "The Cats that
Fought WWII: The Allies"
Our dear little church cat of St. Augustine and St. Faith.
The bravest cat in the world. On Monday, September 9th, 1940, 
she endured horrors and perils beyond the power of words to tell.
Shielding her kitten in a sort of recess in the house (a spot
she selected three days before the tragedy occurred), she
sat the whole frightful night of bombing and fire, guarding her
little kitten. The roofs and masonry exploded. The whole house
blazed. Four floors fell through in front of her. Fire and water
and ruin all round her.Yet she stayed calm and steadfast and 
waited for help.We rescued her in the early morning while the
place was still burning, and By the mercy of Almighty God, she and
her kitten were not only saved, but unhurt. God be praised and
thanked for His goodness and mercy to our dear little pet.
(Used with permission from: 

For a more complete story of Faith, go to: Purr-n-Fur UK for the article "Faith, the Church Cat", by Patrick Roberts, where much of this information was found and you can find more delightful stories about famous felines!

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan. She is a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen 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, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser

Monday, November 20, 2017

Staying in Historical Hotels or Mansions

This post is brought to you by Janalyn Voigt.

In this hurry-too-fast world, those of us who love history can forget to take time to explore it. One of the ways I solve this problem is to stay in historical hotels or private mansions whenever possible during my travels. I have stayed in some unique places over the years, including a hotel in the inhabited ghost town of Shaniko with a view overlooking the jail; the Hotel Wilber with rooms decorated in heirloom antiques by the town’s resident families; and the entire attic floor of the Morton Mansion, home of an early mayor and senator.
Shaniko Hotel, Shaniko, Oregon
Hotel Wilber, Wilber Nebraska
The Morton Mansion, Douglas Wyoming

Staying in Historical Hotels and Mansions 

If you’re looking for an immersive experience of history, staying in a historical hotel or mansion is one of the best ways to attain one.

Finding them is easy. Just type the name of the city where you want to stay plus the words ‘historical hotel’ or “historical mansion” in an online search engine. You can also look up buildings listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Searching for a historic hotel or mansion can lead to some interesting reading about the history of the location, which enhances your experience when you arrive. 

Before settling on a place to stay, read reviews written by other travelers. Time spent in a well-loved building or a worn pearl is quite different from enduring a dump. A nice website is a good sign, but not every historical hotel or mansion has one. There may not be a way to check availability online, but you shouldn’t have to track down a phone number or email address to make an inquiry. Reserving a room in a historic hotel or mansion might take a little longer than booking a room in a hotel chain, but for a history lover the time is well spent. 

When Staying in Historical Hotels and Mansions 

Conveniences we take for granted nowadays can be conspicuous by their absence in a historical hotel or mansion. For example, because I live in the balmy Pacific Northwest, I didn’t think to calculate what a night spent without air conditioning in Oregon’s high desert would feel like. If I had, we’d have gone in a cooler month. One wild west hotel we stayed in didn’t offer televisions in the rooms, a welcome feature for my family. Other guests expressed their dismay at the omission, however. Amenities we’ve come to expect may not be offered by historical hotels and mansions. Since you’ve read this far, I assume that you are willing to revel in the history of a place without looking for every creature comfort. 

I should also mention that when occupying a room in a historic hotel or mansion you might notice broken or missing trim, a claw-foot tub with worn spots, quixotic plumbing, windows that don’t open, or other imperfections. Renovation is often a labor of love and an ongoing project for the owners. Your patronage helps them preserve a bit of history. When was the last time you felt good about paying a hotel bill?

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.

Viist Janalyn Voigt online.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Oklahoma History: The Red River War: When the Natives Get Restless

A Kiowa ledger drawing possibly depicting the Buffalo Wallow battle in 1874, a fight between Southern Plains Indians and the U.S. Army during the Red River War, Author Unknown, Public Domain

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Thank you for joining us this month in the continuing discovery of the rich and diverse history of the great state we call home: Oklahoma. During the research of the “Forts of Oklahoma Series” we identified that there were many socio-political influences that helped to shape the government and historical impact of the Indian Territory. For those of you whom have been following our articles for most of this year, you will have seen several references to the series of events covered in this month’s article. The Red River War was the culmination of decades’ worth of frustration and a breakdown of policy handling by the government of the United States.

Following the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867, the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa were moved to reservations in the Indian Territory (today Oklahoma). Many of the tribesmen, certainly not all, but many of them complied with the restrictions placed on them by the federal government.

The tribes that were somewhat reluctantly constrained were the Kiowa and the Comanche. They were restrained due to the imprisonment of their chiefs Satanta and Addo-Etta (Big Tree in the native tongue), as well as the capture of 124 Comanche women and children in 1872.

Many of the indigenous tribesmen had found that they could use their reservations as a safe haven, while they committed numerous raids on white settlers to New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Texas. They would commit the raid, and be back on the reservation before the authorities were alerted to anything being amiss.

According to the Medicine Lodge treaty, the tribes were promised rations, blankets, trade goods, protection of the vast buffalo herds in Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle (which the tribes believed had been set aside for them as reservation land), and most importantly protection against encroachment of white settlers on their lands, all for abiding by the terms of the treaty. Tensions increased as these promises went unfilled. Much of the meat they received was rotten, the blankets were disease ridden, and rather than helping the tribesmen prevent encroachment, the U.S. Army seemed to spend more time protecting the white settlers from the indigenous tribesmen.

With the emergence of young medicine man Isa-Tai, the tribesmen, believing they were able to become impervious to harm, became increasingly more bold in their raids. The tensions came to a head when the Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne led by Isa-Tai, and Quanah Parker attacked a camp of buffalo hunters at the site of Adobe Walls, Texas in 1874. This raid prompted the Indian Bureau to in effect declare war on all native tribesmen off their reservations. They labeled all indigenous tribesmen as either friendly (remaining on the reservation), and hostiles (all others).

General Philip Sheridan ordered 5 columns of troops to converge on the area of the Texas panhandle, mostly in the upper tributaries of the Red River. These troops were intended to deny the indigenous tribesmen of any safe haven, and to force them back to the reservations permanently. The troops included the 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th Cavalry, and the 11th, and 5th Infantry.

As many as 20 engagements were fought over the course of the next year, with the most decisive victory being the battle of Palo Duro Canyon. Intriguingly enough, only 4 indigenous tribesmen were killed. However, over 450 lodges were burned, countless pounds of buffalo meat were destroyed, and more than 1400 horses were captured. Most of the horses that were captured were subsequently put down to deny the indigenous tribesmen from being able to regain the use of their mounts.

The Red River War continued throughout 1874 and into 1875, ending with Quanah Parker surrendering his forces to troops in Fort Sill. This signaled the end of the Southern Plains Tribes involvement in the “Indian Wars” of the 1870’s – 1880’s. We would like to thank you once again for joining us this month in bringing to light some of our beloved Oklahoma history. Please join us next month for an overview of the involvement of the U.S. Cavalry in the shaping of our fair home.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lalique Crystal

René Jules Lalique was born in France in 1860. When he was two-years-old, his family moved to the outskirts of Paris, but often traveled to northeastern France. As he grew, René developed a love of nature, which would later be reflected in his artwork.

As a boy, René apprenticed to a goldsmith, and began to show a penchant for art. When he was twelve, he began college classes, and began to hone his skills in sketching and drawing. He spent two years at the Crystal Palace School of Art in London. He learned to design jewelry and continued to garner attention with his naturalistic artwork.

By Yelkrokoyade 
By Yelkrokoyade 

In London, René began to make jewelry for well-known jewelers such as Cartier. In 1885, René ventured into his own business and began to design jewelry and glasswork in his own name. By 1890, he was recognized as one of the leading artists in designing jewelry and often made pieces displayed in upper end Parisian shops. His creativity, quality and the beauty of his pieces were highly sought after.
Spirit of the Wind hood ornament
Photo by Ingrid Taylar 


While Lalique jewelry garnered popularity, he made his biggest impact when he began to work with glass. In the 1920’s he designed in credible art works in crystal. He was known for his art deco style. He designed a lighted glass wall for the SS Normandie and glass fonts and fixtures for St. Matthew’s Church in France, which became known as Lalique’s Glass Church. His glasswork is in other places, including the infamous Orient Express.

Glasswork in St. Matthew's Church
Photo by Danrok

René’s glassworks are in museums throughout the world. The simplicity of his design and the artistry is breathtaking. He designed beautiful perfume bottles for François Coty.

Renard Photo by Morio

Falcon Photo by Morio

I recently viewed some pieces of Lalique crystal, which made me curious about the artist. I’ve included some pictures of the pieces I saw at the antique book fair. Have you ever seen any Lalique glass? I would be hesitant to have a glass hood ornament, but the ones I saw were beautiful. What are your thoughts?

Crystal bowl inside

Crystal bowl outside

Perfume bottle

Perfume bottle

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: nancyjfarrier.com.