Sunday, October 22, 2017

Florida's Forgotten Coast - Apalachicola

Book Giveaway*

Steamboat loaded with cotton

Continuing our journey to lesser-known places in Florida, this month we find ourselves in the little town of Apalachicola.

A-pa-la-chi-co-la—Don’t you just love the sound of that word? We can thank the Native Americans who lived in the area first, the Apalachicola Indians, which were a subset of the Seminole Indians. A combination of “apalachi” meaning ‘on the other side,’ and “okli,” meaning ‘people,’ the word means people on the other side and in this instance, it’s the other side of the river, the Apalachicola River.

Set at the mouth of the river where it runs into the Apalachicola Bay, then the Gulf of Mexico, the town was originally called “Cottonton” when the British established a trading post there. In 1827, the name was changed to West Point and in 1831, received its present name.

Anyone visiting the little town of around 2500 people today would be surprised to discover that it was once the busiest port on the Gulf of Mexico. Before railroads covered the state, the town thrived with international shipping to all points of the Americas and Europe.

Cotton planters in Alabama and Georgia sent their cotton down the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers to the Apalachicola River which flowed along the city’s downtown waterfront. Steamboats piled high with cotton were unloaded at the docks and stored in brick warehouses until the cotton was sold and carried by schooners to larger ships waiting offshore. 
Former cotton warehouse, now Center for History, Culture and Art
During the height of the season, the streets near the waterfront were often stacked with cotton as well. Sometimes the steamboats were loaded so full that the cotton was dangerously close to the smokestack, the cause of more than one fire and demise of the steamboat and its contents.

The Civil War blockade of 1861 ended the cotton trade for the city, and only two of the fifty brick warehouses built to store the product remains today, due to a huge fire that burned a several blocks of downtown.

Today’s key industries are oysters and shrimp, a must have when you dine in one of the local seafood restaurants.

Several other antebellum buildings survive, such as Trinity Episcopal Church, a Greek Revival church built in 1839. The wood-paneled church boasts Florida’s oldest pipe organ.

Another notable landmark is the John Gorrie museum. Dr. Gorrie invented refrigeration in 1851 while attempting to treat victims of yellow fever.

A few pre-Civil War mansions still exist and two are open for tours. Both homes were built by wealthy cotton planters. The 1836 Raney House is a Greek Revival home housing a museum with 19th century furniture and artifacts. The mansion built by prosperous cotton merchant Thomas Orman in 1838 is now part of a state park and has ranger-led tours steeped in local history.

Gibson Inn
While in town, stay in one of the historic lodging facilities. The Gibson Inn, built in 1907 has thirty guest rooms decorated with period furniture.The 1905 Coombs Inn is a Bed and Breakfast built in the former home of James N. Coombs, a successful businessman once recognized as the wealthiest man in town. Mr. Coombs owned three sawmills, the First National Bank of Apalachicola and the Coombs Company, exporter of pine and cypress lumber to destinations around the world.

Cape St. George Lighthouse

After strolling the downtown area of Apalachicola, drive over the bridge to St. George Island and see the Cape St. George Lighthouse which was rebuilt after erosion from the Gulf of Mexico toppled it into the water.

My book, Rebel Light, was set in Apalachicola in 1861. Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a copy of it.

It’s 1861, Florida has seceded from the Union, and residents of Pensacola evacuate inland to escape the impending war. But Kate McFarlane’s impulsive act of rebellion changes her life and that of many others in ways she never expected.

As a result, Kate finds herself with an eccentric aunt in an unfamiliar place. Lieutenant Clay Harris, a handsome Confederate officer, offers a chance for romance, but his actions make Kate question his character. When a hurricane brings an injured shipwrecked sailor from the Union blockade to her aunt’s house, Kate fights attraction to the man while hiding him from Clay. She wants to warn her sea captain father about the blockade, but needs someone to help her. Who can she trust - her ally or her enemy?

Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction books set around lighthouses or the coast of the United States. She is the author of Rebel Light, a Civil War love story on the coast of Florida, A Gilded Curse, a historical suspense novel set in 1942 Jekyll Island, Georgia, and Lighthouse Devotions - 52 Inspiring Lighthouse Stories, based on her popular lighthouse blog. (@ She is also a regular contributor to Guideposts magazine and the Daily Guideposts devotional.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pharmacists in Early 20th Century in America and a Giveaway!

Walking through the Detroit Historical Museum many years ago with my kids I loved the underground timeline of a main street through history, including shop fronts. When you get to the brick-paved area it includes a drug store with two old-fashioned show globes hanging in the window and historical products displayed. Something about it intrigued me. 

When I heard the story about my father-in-law sitting on a pair of scissors and having the corner pharmacist stitch up his wound, I found that interesting as well. Even my visit to Colonial Williamsburg gave fodder to my imagination with its charming apothecary shop. Dried herbs hung around the store and glass jars were filled with ingredients. With those thoughts filed away in my mind and reading other things about the history of apothecary I decided to make my hero in my latest release a turn-of-the century pharmacist. 

Apparently there is a disagreement as to whether the first drug store in America was in New Orleans, because of having the first registered pharmacist running it, or one in Fredericksburg, Virginia purported to be the one where Martha Washington once shopped. 

Around the time of the Civil War, scientific methods started being considered more important in the pharmaceutical arts. Several years before that, the first textbook of pharmacy of American origin, Practical Pharmacy by Mohr, Redwood, and Procter, was written. Throughout the century schools of pharmacy popped up around the country, such as the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1823 and the New York School of Pharmacy in 1829. This brought about a more consistent study of pharmacy than apprenticeship alone though druggists still weren’t required to be licensed.

If you thought enteric-coated tablets or gelatin capsules were a more recent development of the 20th century, Parke, Davis, and Company of Detroit began mass producing them around 1875!

The drugstore soda fountain first appeared in the 1880s. They might have served up a refreshing cherry Coke, or perhaps a root beer. I have to wonder if they served the original Coke with its energizing but addictive ingredient of cocaine. The drug store soda fountain became an important Main Street destination in many a small town in America. 

{PD} The Old Design Shop
One of the first things a turn-of-the-century customer might notice in the front window of a local drugstore was a large jar or glass container hanging by a chain or sitting in a stand and filled with colored liquid. This colorful attention getter is called a show globe. Despite the legends of different colors signaling epidemics in the town, this is highly unlikely. Show globes originated back in the time of the alchemist. Like the alchemist, the pharmacist would show off his prowess in mixing chemicals by coming up with different colors. If mixtures of different densities were layered, they could even produce a striped effect!

Inside the drugstore the prospective customer might find any number of tooth powders, cosmetics, and patent medicines on the shelf. They could peruse corked bottles, tins, and jars, to see what was available. Lining the walls were apothecary cabinets. Behind the clear glass doors lurked tinctures and tonics while the herbs they were extracted from were stored in the drawers below. Perhaps you would see a mortar and pestle which the pharmacist would use to ground the dried herbs. 

{PD} 1881
You could ask the pharmacist for help with finding a suitable medicine for your teething baby. He might recommend the patent medicine, Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, which with its opiate content would most likely put your baby to sleep in a jiffy, while also addicting her and endangering her life. And if you had “female complaints” you might be introduced to Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound. This remedy contained several herbs thought to help women, including black cohosh, but the original also contained a fair amount of drinking alcohol to calm the nerves. Today there is still a version of her remedy on the market called Lydia Pinkham’s Herbal Compound.

You might be given cough medicine which contained horehound, a strong licorice-like flavored herb. Several expectorants were used. Only guaifenesin is still used in drugstore cough medicines today for that purpose. 

Poisonous plants, such as foxglove and deadly nightshade, were discovered to have healing power in small doses. The local pharmacist could use foxglove to create the heart medicine, digitalis, and nightshade could be used to produce the sedative, belladonna. Today you would find belladonna as an ingredient in any number of prescription drugs such as Donnatol. Valerian root with its sedative properties could be used to help gain a good night’s rest. It’s still taken for those properties today. 

And let’s not forget the soda fountain. A pharmacist of the late 1800s and early 1900s would use flavored syrups or find carbonation helpful to drown out the bitter taste of their preparations. This made it logical for the corner drugstore to open a soda fountain. Through the years these became not only a place to meet for a soft drink, but also have ice cream or eat at the lunch counter.  

The role of the pharmacist has changed somewhat. As larger companies have taken over the market, promising savings, the family-owned drugstore is becoming a thing of the past. Gone are the beautifully polished marble counters where customers could hop on a stool and order a treat. The pharmacist works in an enclosed area, dispensing already prepared medications (unless they work in a compounding pharmacy). While drugstore chains have brought savings, they have also taken away the charm of the historic corner drugstore. 

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, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser

I'm giving away the copy of my newest release, Secrets and Wishes. Please leave a comment to enter the drawing for one randomly chosen commenter to receive a copy of Secrets and Wishes. 

Can unexpected love flourish amid the ashes of grief? 

Stone Creek, Michigan - April, 1901: Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper clash after their sons collide in a fistfight. Both widowed, they're each doing their best as a parent to their children. Outgoing Maggie has dreams for a home of her own and a business to provide for her son as she searches for God's path for her life as a widow. Reserved Thomas struggles to establish his new pharmacy and take care of his four rambunctious children, while wondering how a loving God could take his beloved wife.

When Thomas becomes deathly ill, Maggie is recruited to nurse him back to health. Taking the children in hand, as well, is more than she bargained for, but she is drawn to help the grieving family. Both nurse and patient find themselves drawn to each other but promptly deny their feelings.

A baking contest sponsored by the Silver Leaf Flour Company brings former beau, Giles Prescott, back into Maggie's life. When Giles offers Maggie a position at their test kitchen in Chicago, he hints that, along with assuring her a good job, it will allow them to possibly rekindle their relationship.

But then a charlatan comes to town, and tragedy soon follows. Maggie and Thomas discover the miracle potions he hawks aren't so harmless when an epidemic hits Stone Creek. Thomas and Maggie realize they must work together to save lives.

Maggie finds herself caught up in battles within and without the battle to help the townsfolk in the midst of illness and chicanery, and the battle to know which man Thomas or Giles deserves to win her heart.

Friday, October 20, 2017

In the Footsteps of Mark Twain

This article is brought to you by Janalyn Voigt

The calliope, an air-operated Tangley Calliaphone, played bright music from America’s past while the riverboat plowed through the muddy Mississippi. I sat beside my husband, who had joined me by plane at the end of my road trip traveling the Oregon Trail backwards on the way to a family reunion. A photograph from the trip shows us looking relaxed and happy. You’d never know that our toddler had just thrown a grand tantrum. After being strapped in a car seat for the better part of each day for a week, she'd had more than enough of our road trip. All she wanted was to run and play. Why wouldn't we let her?
Of such is life.

Mark Twain Riverboat at Glascock's Landing, Hannibal, Missouri; Image by Chris Light (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Freed from what should have been a pleasant cruise but had become a memory-maker of another kind, we returned to our accommodations at Hannibal’s Belvedere Inn. We’d chosen this Italianate mansion turned bed-and-breakfast for its vintage beauty. The palatial ceiling and incredibly tall windows in our room made me feel like a child at a grown-up tea party. They knew how to build a mansion back in 1859. 

After a night’s sleep and a breakfast buffet, we visited the boyhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemmens (aka: Mark Twain). The picket fence surrounding the home would have needed whitewashing in young Sam’s day, of course. The home itself was modest but comfortable. Seeing the environment where young Samuel grew up connected me with a bygone era. I could almost hear the neighborhood kids playing on a summer day or shouting with joy while swimming in the river.
Boyhood Home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain); Image by Andrew Balet (Own work) [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We went across the street to see the childhood home of Laura Hawkins, an early playmate of Samuel's. Laura’s birthday fell on November 30th and Samuel’s on December 1st, so the families often celebrated together. She was Samuel’s childhood sweetheart and the inspiration for Becky Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Laura didn't wind up with Samuel, however. She married a physician named James W. Frazer, and the couple had two sons. He left her a widow in her forties. In 1895, Laura signed on as matron of a home for orphans and the destitute. She and Samuel Clemmens were lifelong friends who stayed in touch with one another.
The Becky Thatcher House, Hannibal Missouri By Andrew Balet (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Laura Hawkins' account of going to school with her childhood sweetheart.

The day had grown hot and our feet weary, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat and went back to our room to rest. We had the usual tourist's restlessness, so before long we decided to take a walk around Hannibal. Because it’s that kind of place. No matter how big Hannibal grows, I suspect it will always feel like a small town. While on our walk, we noticed a house on a hillock standing out some blocks away. We started uphill towards it, but the heat and fatigue plagued me. I kept going anyway, intrigued by the commanding home.

We followed the last stretch of aging sidewalk to discover that we’d stumbled on a historic home open to the public. To our delight, the Rockcliffe Mansion had not been spoiled by renovation “improvements,” but had largely been left in its original state. We were not allowed to take photographs, lest our flashbulbs destroy the fragile antiques. Unspoiled treasures such as I have never seen before and may never again lay on every hand, down to exquisite wallpaper, tiffany windows, carved woodwork, light fixtures, statues, carpeting – the list is too long for me to describe here. 

Rockcliffe Mansion on the NRHP since September 18, 1980, at 1000 Bird St., Hannibal, Missouri on top of a rocky hill. The name Rockcliffe is very appropriate. Built by a lumber magnate, the home sat empty for over 40 years. The mansion is now a B&B in Mark Twain's hometown. Image by Smallbones (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Images of the interior of Rockcliffe Mansion. 

We toured all the areas of the mansion except the parts that were off-limits. Rockcliffe Mansion offers bed and breakfast accommodations. I'd like to go back and sleep there someday, although like many homes steeped in history, it has a reputation. You see, this was Hannibal's haunted house and informed the description of the "ha'nted house" in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Mark Twain stood on a special platform built over the Rockcliffe Mansion’s main stairway landing in 1902 and gave a speech to the town’s worthies. Looking out over the foyer from much the same place that he stood, I could almost see his admiring audience, dressed in their best, listening, smiling, laughing. Mark Twain knew how to entertain a crowd. The realization that it had been his final visit to Hannibal brought a lump to my throat. Wealth, fame, fulfillment in work, an audience most writers can only dream about – he had it all. It hardly seemed fair. 
The sum total of even a celebrated man’s existence fades with time. 

Jesus’s words came to me then. "Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6-19-21; World English Bible.

This is why I write, to proclaim that our mortal life is not all there is, that it doesn't end with the grave, and that human souls are more important than treasures that one day crumble to dust.

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. 


Hills of Nevermore by Janalyn Voigt

Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish circuit preacher bent on helping her survive?
In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane.

Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God.Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Hills of Nevermore explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.

Learn More About This Book

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fort Sill: An Enduring Legacy Pt 2

Fort Sill, Restored Building, Photo Courtesy of the OHS Photo Archives

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Thank you for joining us for our final fort in “The Forts of Oklahoma Series.” The exploration of the history of this great state has been, at the very least, eye-opening. When we started this series, it was, a matter of minor interest to the both of us, truth be told. With both of us coming from military families, doing these articles really opened our eyes to the greater significance of the military presence in our home state. In last month’s article, we wrote about Fort Sill, its earlier history and waning legacy up to Oklahoma Statehood in 1907.

To recap, Fort Sill was set up as a cavalry outpost on the edge of the Indian Territory to help keep the indigenous tribes from being too fractious. Initially, it didn’t work out very well and required the intervention of the US Army. Although in 1907, the role of the fort changed drastically when the last troop of cavalry moved out and left only the artillery.

In 1911, “The School of Fire for the Field” was founded for artillery soldiers and continues until this day. In 1917, the Henry Post Army Airfield, shortened to Post Field, was constructed for artillery observation and training. During the 1930’s, the WPA (Works Progress Administration), in conjunction with the Army, built more permanent buildings and training facilities. The oldest currently standing building is Building 4908 Aircraft Maintenance hanger built in 1932.

By the end of World War II, the Field Artillery School had permission to train its own fixed wing pilots as field artillery spotters. In 1942, Fort Sill held approximately 700 Japanese, interned by the Department of Justice, most of whom were non-citizens who had been arrested as spies or “fifth columnists,” despite the lack of charges against them. Three Hundred and Fifty of these inmates were transfers from Fort Missoula, Montana. In addition to the Japanese, Fort Sill also hosted German prisoners of war.

The Army Ground Forces Air Training School (later known as the Army Aviation School) was established at Post field on December 7th 1945. In October 1948, pilot training for helicopters began, and the first warrant officer class started in 1951. Post Field is the oldest continually-operating airfield in the US Army to date.

Fort Sill serves as a training base for not only artillery and aviation, but it also serves as one of only four basic training bases in use by the US Army. The harsh climate and rugged terrain allows for the hardening of the soldiers to serve overseas.

Fort Sill operates and maintains the Fort Sill National Cemetery, also referred to as the “Post Cemetery.” This graveyard has several notable facts tied to it, the biggest of which, is that it was never segregated. Buffalo soldiers are interred next to Apache and their families, who were buried next to white cavalry troopers. Three of the most notable names found among the graves are Satanta, Geronimo, and Quanah Parker.

Parts of Fort Sill are open to the public and well worth the time, mileage, and effort it will take to get to the Wichita Mountains, as we discovered on our honeymoon three years ago (Happy Anniversary, beloved!). This diversely rich historic fort has given us an enduring legacy of honor and history.

Please join us next month as we discuss the Red River War (and we’re not talking about football), in our continuing discussions about the rich military history of our home state, Oklahoma.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Andrew Ure - And a Giveaway

With Nancy J. Farrier

The month of October is often focused on the odd and disturbing. I happened to stumble across the historical account of Andrew Ure and thought the story would fit well within the oddities of the month.

Welcome Library, London    
Andrew Ure, born in Glasgow, Scotland, achieved great success in many areas. He became a physician and served as an army surgeon, but his great love was chemistry and physics. He served on the Faculty Board at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow and was well loved for his interesting lectures. He spoke often on chemistry and mechanics. He also had a love of geology and was considered an expert from the number of texts he devoured and the information he absorbed.

Louis Figueir (author) 
One of Ure’s fascinations had to do with the reanimation of the body after death. He began some experiments which he later incorporated in his lectures. In 1818, he lectured on the galvanic experiments he’d been conducting. He brought in the body of a murderer and thief, Matthew Clydesdale to demonstrate his findings. Clydsedale had been executed by hanging and left hanging for an hour. Ure wanted to demonstrate the by stimulating certain nerves with voltage he could bring the person back to life.

These experiments were allowed at that time on the bodies of condemned murderers who had been put to death. The thought of the day was that these men were further tormented for their crimes by being experimented on and that would be all right.

Early depiction of Frankenstein
When Ure sent voltage through the body, Clydesdale’s muscles responded with shuddering which looked to the audience as if he were shivering from the cold. Ure made the body do different movements by touching nerves in other areas. When he touched the hip, one of his assistant was nearly thrown to the floor by the violence of the muscular reaction. He was also able to manipulate the facial expressions, giving the impression Clydesdale was experiencing emotion. Many of the onlookers had to leave the room they were so horrified.

Mary Shelley
By Richard Rothwell 
One of the interesting side notes I read while studying Ure, was that Mary Shelley heard of his experiments and was fascinated by the thought of reanimating the dead. This sparked her writing of Frankenstein, which released in 1818 about the same time Ure was doing the lecture on Clydesdale. Shelley’s book and Ure’s experiments caused quite a stir in that era. The original Frankenstein made no mention of using electricity to reanimate the body, but in her rewrite in 1831, Shelley added that part to the text.

Frankenstein frontispiece
By Theodore Von Holst 
The origin of life and scientific experiments have long been interesting to the public even to the point of excusing tests on the living in the name of science. Ure did not use the living in his demonstrations, only the dead, but some of his tests were horrific. He also inspired other scientists to experiment on animals and humans. Shelley’s depiction of Frankenstein brings out that nature of scientific curiosity and vividly describes human nature in the events that occur in her book.

Have you ever read Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein? What are your thoughts on experimenting with the dead? ((I realize that some people sign over their bodies before they die, but am referring to those who haven’t.) Have you ever heard of Andrew Ure?

I am doing a giveaway of my book, Bandolero. To be entered, please leave a comment and your email on this blog before midnight. If you already have Bandolero, you may have another of my books.

Yoana Armenta’s reckless behavior results in her being captured by bandoleros, Yoana fears her impulsive nature has caused irreparable disaster. Amado Castro gave a death bed promise that he intends to keep – at all costs - even if he must break a childhood vow. When his choice endangers Yoana’s life, he struggles with the decision to honor his word, or to protect Yoana, whom he has come to care for more than he could have imagined. Now as the bandoleros threaten to sell Yoana and her tía to a fate worse than death, and the rancheros want to hang Amado, they must make choices. Will they trust God, or will they do what seems right to them?

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: