Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Historic Wolfe Island, Canada

The history of Wolfe Island, the largest of all the 1,864 islands in the Thousand Islands, dates back to the early 1600s. Wolfe Island forms a natural boundary between Canadian and United States where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. The island is only one-to-seven miles wide but it’s twenty miles long, and today, much of it is a huge wind farm.

Samuel de Champlain is believed to be the first white man to explore the island in 1615 when stopped by after fighting the Iroquois Indians. In 1675, King Louis IV of France officially claimed the area, giving a man named La Salle the area for hunting and fishing. La Salle, in turn, was to maintain a garrison, build a church, pay a tidy sum of money, and “domesticate” the Indians. Yet there is no evidence that he did any of it.

Jacque Cauchois took over the garrison called Fort Frontenac in 1685 and after his death, his heirs managed the area, where settlers called Marysville their home close to the fort. The land remained in the Cauchois family for over 100 years, until it was sold in the early 1800s to David Alexander Grant and Patrick Langan for one shilling an acre.

During the Revolutionary War, 1776-1783, British soldiers oversaw the island and British loyalists sought refuge on the island, working the land and some settling there.

In 1792, the island was named Wolfe Island after British General Wolfe. With only one town, Marysville, its year-round population of less than two thousand reaches either the Canadian and American mainland by ferry—or walking over the ice.

During the War of 1812, Scottish settlers came, battles were fought around the island, and the population increased. In 1823, the settlement the Ardath Chateau became the centerpiece for the settlement, known locally as the “The Old Castle”. It had 25 rooms, a dungeon, a carriage house and servants' quarters. It was razed in 1929. Besides the castle, there were only fifteen families on the island.

By 1861, the population grew to thirty-six hundred, many of the families Irish immigrants seeking a better life from the Potato Famine years. One of those families was mine. In The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, you’ll learn so much more about this fascinating island, history, and culture.

About The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy

After struggling to accept the changes forced upon her, Margaret Hawkins and her family take a perilous journey on an 1851 immigrant ship to the New World, bringing with her an Irish family quilt she is making.

A hundred and sixty years later, her great granddaughter, Maggie, searches for the family quilt after her ex pawns it. But on their way to creating a family legacy, will these women find peace with the past and embrace hope for the future, or will they be imprisoned by fear and faithlessness?

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out May 2022 with Rachel’s Reunion in October. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and Reagan’s Reward, are also award winners. Susan’s book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, the American Fiction Award, the Indie Excellence Book Award, and two Literary Titan Book Award. Reagan’s Reward is a finalist in the Selah Awards.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children's picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world. Visit for more.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Alcatraz Escapes

Alcatraz Prison

By Nancy J. Farrier


Last month, I talked about the history of Alcatraz Island and the famous prison located there. This month I wanted to talk about some of the famous escape attempts from the island prison deemed inescapable. During the twenty-nine years the prison belonged to the Department of Corrections, there were fourteen documented escape attempts. Many of those ended in the death of the inmate and a few included the death of guards. These men were desperate to be away from this prison and willing to risk all for freedom.

Quote from Alcatraz
Correctional Officer


Escape #2

December 16, 1937


Theodore Cole

Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe both had a history of violent crimes and a history of escapes from other prisons. They were both incarcerated at the state prison in McAlester, Oklahoma, where more difficult prisoners were sent. Cole and Roe were acquainted in McAlester and were transported to Alcatraz together. They ended up with similar numbers at Alcatraz, which put them in close proximity to one another. 


Ralph Roe

The final piece that led to their escape had to do with their work. They worked in different jobs but often in the same shop. In the two years prior to their escape they studied everything from the guard’s routines to the layout of everything in and around the prison. 


They used a stolen hacksaw blade to cut through the bars in the shop window. This took a long time, working bit by bit. The bars on the windows were checked often, but they noted which windows missed inspection the most. Then they u
sed grease or shoe polish to cover up where they’d been sawing. Only a very close inspection would have revealed their work. 


On December 16th, a day of heavy fog, after eating lunch and returning to their shop, the men waited until the guard went to the other shop area. Then they removed the bars and broke out three windows. They slid through, a task that wasn’t easy for Roe who was larger than Cole. They used a wrench to break the padlock on the gate near the cliff. They slid down to the water and it is believed they used pieces of rubber from the shop to do so.


Building Cole and Roe
Escaped from and cliff

One of the inmates later wrote in his memoirs that he saw Roe struggling against the undertow, but then lost him in the fog. The Coast Guard and FBI were called in. Thus began a huge manhunt, but Cole and Roe were never found. There were numerous reports of them being sighted at various places but nothing was every proved. They are believed drowned and carried out to sea under the newly completed Golden Gate Bridge, but their bodies were never found. 


Escape #9

July 31, 1945


Robert Giles

In what was referred to as the cleverest escape, John Giles, made a unique attempt to get off Alcatraz island. Giles was sent to Alcatraz for an escape from a penitentiary in Salem, OR. While in prison in Salem, Giles wrote pulp stories for magazines and edited the prison magazine. When asked why he escaped when he was considered a model prisoner, he said, “I wrote fiction for magazine and the sources of my literary creation dimmed. I felt the need for new scenes and new faces….” He was free for seven months when he joined in a robbery of a mail train. Because of his former escape, he was sent to Alcatraz.


Giles was a quiet man who did his duties without complaint. Because of his frail

Giles in Stolen Uniform

physique, he was assigned the task of sweeping the dock, unloading military laundry, and tending the flowers. Little did the officials know how intelligent and patient Giles could be. For ten years, Giles secreted bits of army uniforms, passes, furlough papers, maps, and other items he found in the dirty laundry. By the end of the ten years, he was able to put together a complete uniform including dog tags.


On July 31st, Giles reported as usual, but when the boat docked with soldiers and there was some confusion on the dock, he slipped away and removed his prison garb which had covered his stolen uniform. He then slipped on the boat and was there with a pen and pad of paper pretending to be a soldier. 


Boat Giles Escaped On

The boat was almost back to its point of origin when Giles was reported missing. The sirens went off and the warden sent a message to the boat with the soldiers to check for the missing prisoner. The soldiers were lined up and Giles was found and returned to Alcatraz. He was put in solitary confinement and spent the next three years in D block, the worst place on Alcatraz.


He had stolen over forty items from the laundry. When interviewed by the FBI after his escape he refused to tell them anything. He didn’t want to hinder anyone else who might try to escape the same way. In an interview in 1967, when Giles was 77, he said, “…A man with a long time, he’s got only one thought—he wants to escape…You don’t want to die in prison…That’s all you think about….” 


I wanted to do more escape stories because they are so fascinating, but this is getting too long. Maybe I will share a couple more stories next month. Let me know in the comments if you would like to hear more. Thank you for reading. As always, I love to hear from my readers.

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

Friday, September 17, 2021

Top Hats a fashion statement for 300 years


I’ve been sharing the history behind my husband’s various antiques. I pulled a box off a shelf in our bedroom closet that has remained closed most of the time for over 50 years. 

Charley purchased it at an antique store to add to his hat collection. He has worn this pristine top hat only a few times in my memory. He had to get it out today for this blog. Note there is a brush included and a nice hat box for storage, although Charley thinks it is not the original box.

 George Dunnage from Middlesex, England, created the Top Hat in 1793. His hat became so popular by 1840 with any man who wanted to show off his social status. Soon even the lowliest of men had this tall head covering. However, the first-time haberdasher John Hertherington wore the hat, a riot broke out. Legend has it that the locals were so shocked at its appearance they formed a mob. Women fainted and a little boy broke his arm after falling in the midst of the mob. Hertherington was arrested for breaching the peace and causing a riot. In his defense, he claimed there was no law regarding what a man wore on his head. 

Over the decades it has taken on different names such as stove top, anguish tube, and topper. There were various versions of the top hat, some had large rims or higher tops. They advertised the Turf as having been created to “make a man—if they were middle aged—look ten years younger and an inch or two taller.” 

Although beaver skin hats were waterproof, hats made of rabbit fur were less expensive. Around 1840, the preferred material was silk. It had a smoother nape. The fashion trend became the larger the hat, the better. Brims became so wide and crowns so tall that theaters added hat checks near the lobby, so patrons' view of the stage was not impeded.

 A French hat maker Antoine Gibus perfected the collapsible top hat. It became popular because it was easy to store. Often referred to as an opera hat because it could be stored under the seat during a performance. This type of hat is still synonymous with magic since magicians often pull a rabbit out of this type of hat. 

Abraham Lincoln wore a stovepipe hat. At six feet four, the hat made him over seven feet tall. It is said to have been a gimmick to attract attention during his election. Lincoln was known to keep letters in his hat. Political cartoonist drew nefarious characters with top hats. It often represented wealth or authority in political cartoons. Most president wore Top Hats to important events with the same idea of showing their authority.

 Top Hats fell out of use in the 1960s during the cultural revolution. John Kennedy was the last president to wear one on inauguration day. Today, in America, you will see top hats worn on Ground Hog Day by the Punxsutawney Ground Hog Day Club members. And there are various celebrities who have been seen wearing some version of the top hat. Orthodox Jews, Free Masons and some horse race enthusiasts can be seen wearing a top hat. And let’s not forget Uncle Sam in every Independence Day Parade.

Have you ever been to an event where a man wore a top hat? 


Charley and I long ago.


Cindy Ervin Huff is an Award-winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She loves infusing hope into her stories of broken people. She addicted to reading and chocolate. Her idea of a vacation is visiting historical sites and an ideal date with her hubby of almost fifty years would be live theater. Visit her at 





Rescuing Her Heart

 Rescuing Her Heart As her husband's evil deeds haunt a mail-order bride from the grave, can she learn to trust again and open her heart to true love? Jed has his own nightmares from a POW camp and understands Delilah better than she knows herself. Can two broken people form a forever bond?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

"God was Taking Care of America"

 By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

"God was taking care of America," said Admiral Chester Nimitz seeing the debilitating ruins after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

The sight at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, brought fear and foreboding to every person who gazed upon the twisted metal and debris floating on the dark waters, and ships lying on their sides like beached whales. How could Nimitz say such a thing? Battleships burned in abandonment. Their black ominous smoke spiraling into this once Hawaiian paradise that sported surfers, not submarines!

Throughout history, our forefathers who fought on the battlefields and preached behind America's pulpits displayed a dogmatic optimism that God has a divine interest in America's destiny.

Reverend Samuel West talked about this spiritual aspect during the War for Independence with the British:

"Our cause is so just and good that nothing can prevent our success but only our sins."

This should give every American reading this pause. If our forefathers felt this way in 1776 and in 1941, what would they think of our generation? Samuel West continues:

"Could I see a spirit of repentance and reformation prevail throughout the land, I should not have the least apprehension or fear of being brought under the iron rod of slavery, even though all the powers of the globe were combined against us."

Why had Samuel West said, "all the powers of the globe were combined against us"? Unforeseeably he'd predicted the global world wars America would someday fight—and the abhorrent conditions we find ourselves in today.

President Roosevelt assigned Nimitz the job of being Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz arrived in Hawaii on Christmas Eve. In Nimitz's book, Reflections of Pearl Harbor, he writes,

"There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat—you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked."

However, God gave Nimitz wisdom to see what others had failed to comprehend—three blessings from God Almighty. Nimitz boldly explains that to the seaman steering him around the rubble:

"Mistake number one: The Japanese attacked Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk—we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

“Mistake number two: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

“Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is on top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America."

Throughout our blundering years of existence, God was taking care of America, and "…For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48

Throughout history, God bestowed upon America strong Christian leaders to steer our course through the channels of wars, pestilences, and economic disasters. Our leaders have reverently knelt before God, praying for His guidance.

"And though," West said in his Boston sermon in 1776, "I confess that the irreligion and profaneness which fare so common among us gives something of a damp to my spirits, yet I cannot help hoping, and even believing, that Providence has designed this continent for to be the asylum of liberty and true religion."

We need God's hedge of protection (spoken in Job 1:10), His favor and blessings have proven essential for a prosperous survival—catastrophic for a person or a nation if God withdraws His blessings.

Lamentation 4:1-12 tells how God withdrew his blessings on His chosen people and poured out His fierce anger on them because of their sins and iniquities.

West and Nimitz believed, and many others continue to believe, God has designed this country to be an asylum, a beacon of light, a shining city upon a hill for liberty and for the true religion to shine its light throughout the world to see.

As stated on February 5, 2020, by the Washington Post, the word Nazi is short for National Socialist. Yes, Hitler and his henchmen were all socialists.

Are you willing to pray with me with fear and trembling, that God will steer us through the rough waters of this new presidency? Pray we cherish the value of freedom over monetary compensation.

West's words live on today, "Our cause is so just and good that nothing can prevent our success but only our sins."

Our hope is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 states: "…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Will God continue to take care of America if we continue to disobey Him? Candles were lit and people fasted and prayed during World War II—how many Christians can you get to pray?

Waltz with Destiny

The Japanese bombers came like a horde of locusts through Kolekole Pass, changing the destiny of every American. Guys like Eric Erhardt could not accept the deferment his boss offered him. "We aren't cut out to hide beneath a bush. It's not in our makeup. With God's help, we'll come out of this better Americans."

A story-book romance swirls into a rendezvous with destiny…

"Waltz with Destiny is the crown jewel of the Destiny series!

Brakefield brings 1940s Detroit to life, along with the WWII battlefields of Italy… I love Brakefield's vivid writing which keeps the book unfolding like a big-screen movie. I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys history, romance, or suspense." Kathleen Rouser, award-winning author of Rumors and Promises; Secrets and Wishes

Catherine says, "My readers inspire my writing!" She is an award-winning author. Her inspirational historical romances include Wilted Dandelions, her faith-based Destiny series Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny.

She has written two pictorial history books. Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County

Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books, Baker Books, Revell, CrossRiver Media Publishers, and Bethany Book House Publishers.

She and lives with her husband of 48 years and their Arabian horses in the picturesque hills of Addison Township, Michigan. Catherine loves spoiling her two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Beautiful Jim Key


Many of you may be aware that I love animals. And if you are friends with me on social media, you probably know that horses are at the top of that list. They are such smart animals and can truly be quite loving. Mine are smart enough to know what time I feed them, what a lead rope means, and my miniature donkey knows if he cries at me I'll go get him a treat.

So when I read the story about The Beautiful Jim Key, I was fascinated. William Key was an ex-slave whose previous owner had seen the man's ability to understand and care for animals at a young age and nurtured that gift. William became a self-taught veterinarian and a respected horseman and trainer. Once a free man, selling liniments was one of the ways he made a living. He decided to try his hand at race horses and had a deal fall into his hands that he couldn't pass up. He was given the chance to purchase a (famous) former circus horse that had been abused and neglected but that was in foal by a top Hambletonian horse named Tennessee Volunteer. 

William nursed the mare back to health and began taking her traveling with him to sell his liniment. He claimed that it healed the horse from its prior sickly status. The foal was born in 1889 and he was a weak and sickly colt. The little guy had trouble standing and fell down frequently, so William named him Jim after the town drunk. The sickly colt wasn't likely to ever be of racehorse ilk. But William, loving horses, took a liking to the little guy. Like Jim's mother, William nursed Jim back to health as well. He grew so attached to the horse and the horse to him that he slept outside with Jim and even built an addition on to his house for the animal. The mare, Lauretta, died but the colt was so attached to William by this time he wasn't terribly troubled by it.

William's wife was the one who noticed Jim's intelligence. She realized he could answer questions requiring a yes or no answer when she asked him if he wanted a piece of apple and he nodded his head. If asked if he wanted to sleep outside in the cold he would shake his head no. When William realized how intelligent Jim was, he started teaching him in mathematics, bible, politics, and the ABC's of spelling.

Now William took Jim with him to sell his Keystone Liniment to the public. He began to do shows and small local fairs, showing off all that Jim had learned and the crowds loved him. But William wanted something bigger. He wanted to be in the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897 so he and Jim went before the officials who chose the acts. And the two were chosen to preform as a side act in the  Negro Building of the Expo.

Jim wowed the crowd with his ability to pick out the correct politician to his question, as well as spell words and names, put mail into slots, write, make change with cash, and do math. Even President Mckinley was impressed by the horse. Thousands came through to see this horse who seemed to be smarter than the average horse. The Beautiful Jim Key and William would go on to preform in the 1904 St. Louis Fair where they became the hit of the Exposition. 

Jim developed arthritis in his late teens and William, now in his 70's was slowing down as well. William died in 1909 and three years later, in 1912, The Beautiful Jim Key passed away as well. 

Such an extraordinary horse. But William was said to be a horse whisperer and his training methods quite profound. Having two Arabian horses of our own, I know the intelligence of these animals. They have memories that are quite impressive. When I watch the performances of dressage and I see the length of the 'dance' these horses must preform, I realize that there may be a lot more Beautiful Jim Keys out there.

Deirdre Mackenzie has spent her life hiding from her father and hating the English. However, when she is caught stealing from an English laird, his unexpected kindness begins to melt away her hatred and strums lonely heartstrings longing for love. Bryce Warwick discovers the “boy” caught with his livestock is actually a young woman. After several attempts to lure the truth from her, he determines she is as deceitful as his late fiancĂ©e who nearly cost him his life. But the woman is the least of his worries with the turbulence brought on by threats of another border war and by King Richard's distrust of the nobles.

With old wounds in need of healing and adversaries who would ruin their chances at true love, both must learn to trust in a way they never knew possible.

The stakes are high, secrets prevail, and treason is just a kiss away.

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 4 horses, 3 dogs, a miniature donkey, and 6 1/2 pekin ducks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Operation Pastorius ~ Nazi Saboteurs in USA

By Johnnie Alexander


Before the sun rose on the morning of June 13, 1942, a rubber boat carrying four men and various supplies landed on what is now known as Atlantic Avenue Beach on the Long Island shore. The men had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe.


Not exactly across the Atlantic. More accurately, they crossed beneath the ocean’s surface in a German U-boat.


They wore German naval uniforms in case they were caught when they landed. But no one else was around on the lonely beach so they hurriedly changed into civilian clothes.


George Dasch's Mugshot
The leader of the group, George Dasch, had lived most of his adult life in the U.S. He’d even served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Yet here he was, at the age of 39, participating in a mission to identify and destroy various targets, such as aluminum plants and railway lines, that were vital to the U.S. war effort. 


Unfortunately for the group, a young seaman with the U.S. Coast Guard patrolled the shore. After a brief conversation, the seaman accepted a bribe from Dasch and walked away. But as soon as he was out of sight of the Germans, he raced to the nearby station and announced that there were Germans on the beach.


By the time the Coast Guard arrived at the beach, Dasch and his men were gone. But they’d left behind “buried treasure.” The search team found money, German uniforms, and even dynamite.


Four days later, on June 17th, another team of four Germans landed on a beach south of Jacksonville, Florida. They also buried explosives in the sand before taking a train to Cincinnati. From there, they split up with two of the potential saboteurs heading for Chicago and the other two to New York City.


But unbeknownst to this second team, George Dasch planned to betray the entire operation. In fact, he’d already called the FBI office in New York. Apparently the agent he spoke with didn’t believe his claim that he was part of a German espionage operation.


But Dasch didn’t give up. He traveled to Washington, DC and called that FBI office. After he told them where he was staying, agents arrived at his hotel, interrogated him, and took him into custody. By June 27th, all the other saboteurs had been arrested—even those who’d landed in Florida.


The author of Operation Pastorius writes: “It was clear that Operation Pastorius was not just a complete failure, but a very public fiasco.”


The unnamed author is correct about the operation being “very public.” 


J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, delighted in touting the agency’s success in quickly apprehending German saboteurs before they caused any damage. He didn’t tell the press that Dasch had surrendered and betrayed the others.


The Germans, including Dasch, were charged with espionage and tried by a military commission instead of in a civilian court. According to the same source as above, President Theodore Roosevelt “was concerned that action in a civil court would take too long and might not lead to the death penalty.”

His Presidential Proclamation 2561 says that enemies who enter the U.S. “to commit sabotage, espionage, or other hostile or warlike acts should be promptly tried in accordance with the laws of war.”

Nazi Saboteur Trial ~ Washington, DC


All eight Germans were found guilty and sentenced to death. However, Roosevelt commuted Dasch’s sentence to thirty years imprisonment. Ernest Burger, who knew of Dasch’s plan to betray the teams and assisted the prosecution, had his death sentence commuted to a life sentence.


The other six Germans were executed by electrocution on August 8, 1942 and buried in a potter's field.


Dasch may have thought his betrayal would make him an American hero. Hoover had promised that both Dasch and Burger would receive pardons for their testimony, but that never happened. Instead, President Truman deported both men back to Germany in 1948. Needless to say, their countrymen considered them traitors.


Phillip Clayton is an FBI agent and the hero of my latest novel, The Cryptographer’s Dilemma. Before beginning his new assignment with my cryptographer heroine, Phillip was involved in capturing the Operation Pastorius spies. His reaction to the trial is a subplot of the story.


I shared other topics I researched for the novel in previous HHH posts. Here are the links:


The Doll Woman ~ A World War II Traitor


World War II's "Number One Woman Spy”


FBI Field Offices ~ A Brief History of a Select Few


America’s First Female Cryptanalyst


Johnnie Alexander imagines stories you won’t forget in multiple genres. A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, she shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. 

Purchase The Cryptographer's Dilemma at

Connect with Johnnie at

Note: The quotes in this post, including from the Presidential Proclamation, are from Operation Pastorius: The History of the Nazi Intelligence Operation to Commit Sabotage in the United States during World War II by Charles River Editors, Columbia, SC, July 2020. Pages are not numbered.


Photo Credits:

George Dasch's Mugshot ~ Public Domain

Nazi Saboteur Trial ~ Public Domain

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Cottages of the Jekyll Island Club Part I

Moss Cottage
by Denise Weimer

My previous two posts revealed how Gilded Age tycoons created a retreat on an island off the coast of Georgia. The beautiful, Queen Anne clubhouse opened for the winter season of 1888. But fifty lots had been set aside for members who wished to build their own “cottages,” and as crowding became an immediate issue in the clubhouse, some members pursued this option. Though the cottages built on Jekyll [originally Jekyl] Island changed hands many times, a total of fifteen were built—most of which are restored and on the current historic trolley tour.

1. McEvers Bayard Brown supposedly built his cottage an inhospitable distance from the club house for his wife, who jilted him. He fled the country aboard his yacht, dropping anchor off the coast of England, where he became increasingly eccentric. He authorized club employees to use the house and continued to send money to the club.

2. Philanthropist Nathaniel Kellog Fairbank of Chicago built the second cottage in 1890, just south of the clubhouse. While Fairbank thrived on the island, considering it a retreat from scandalous legal cases in which he’d become entangled, his wife disapproved of Jekyl’s rustic chapel.

3. At the same time, Charles Stewart Maurice of Athens, Pennsylvania, was constructing his house. Hollybourne blended island materials including the use of tabby with Flemish style. Designed by New York architect William Day, the house cost $19,100 to build. Charles and Charlotte became historians and authorities on Jekyl wildlife until her death by typhoid in 1909. Wicker, chintz, Oriental rugs, and animal skins decorated the interior.

4. Porches, turrets, and a gazebo enhanced Solterra (1891), the grand frame home of Frederic Baker, head of a New York warehouse firm. Multiple parties and President William McKinley were hosted at Solterra. On March 9, 1914, a fire broke out in the attic, destroying the home.

5. Architect Walter Rogers Furness of Philadelphia, the club’s youngest member at twenty-six, built his home in shingle style with a rounded front corner. In 1896, he sold to Joseph Pulitzer. Eventually, the cottage became the island infirmary. 

6. The cottage of Gordon McKay, who made his fortune improving and patenting a process for sewing boots during the Civil War, was constructed in 1892. McKay shocked society by divorcing his first wife and later marrying his housekeeper’s daughter. His generosity to his second wife did not end after they, too, divorced. In 1904, William Rockefeller purchased the cottage and named it Indian Mound. 

Indian Mound Cottage

7. Owner of a Philadelphia marble works, William Struthers, built Moss Cottage in 1896. His daughter, Jean, was very active in the island’s social and sporting life. The family entertained often and lavishly. George Macy purchased the property in 1911.

Join me in October for fascinating glimpses of the last eight cottages of the Jekyl Island Club.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses!

Connect with Denise here:
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