Monday, January 17, 2022

Today in History: Robert Scott risks all to reach the South Pole


I am one of these people who wonder why others can be so obsessed with accomplishing something dangerous, like climbing Mt. Everest or traipsing around the Poles. While searching for something to share today, I came across one such obsessed person: a British Naval Officer fascinated with the Polar regions of the earth.

On this date, January 17, 1912 Robert Falcon Scott, after months of dangerous travel and loss of lives and resources, made it to the South pole.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott (June 6,1868-March 29,1912) was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctica.

Scott was born the third of six children to John Edward Scott and Hannah Cuming Scott. John owned a brewery in Plymouth which provided the family with a nice living. The Scotts had a history of military service, Robert’s four uncles and his grandfather had served.

After Robert began his naval career, his father sold the brewery and lost his fortune in a bad investment, forcing Robert and his younger brother Archie to financially support their mother and two unmarried sisters. His brother died of typhoid fever in 1898, placing the whole financial responsibility on Robert.

 Promotions within the Royal Navy were hard sought after and rarely available. A chance meeting with Sir Clement Markham, President of the Royal Geological Society, changed everything for him. Sir Markham mentioned the plans for a new polar expedition. Scott had been part of Ernest Shackleton’s polar expeditions to both pole regions, and was intrigued by this new plan. He saw it not only as an opportunity for promotion with a salary increase, but also for national recognition.

Sir Markham had first met Scott when he was a naval cadet and was impressed with the young man and so had followed his career. Scott persuaded Sir Markham to allow him to lead the Discovery Expedition.

From 1901-1904, the Discovery team conducted many scientific experiments and mapped out the South Pole. Scott established his base of operation at McMurdo Sound, and from there his team spread out over a large area conducting scientific experiments and plotting a future path to the Pole.

The success of the Discovery Expedition placed Scott in Edwardian Society and gave him many accolades. While at a party, he met painter, sculptor and socialite Kathleen Bruce. On September 2, 1908, they married. Their only child Peter Markham Scott was born September 9, 1909.

The next year, Scott was once again overseeing a polar expedition. The expedition was to be mostly scientific with reaching the South Pole as a secondary mission. Scott had other plans. He believed motorized transportation would be the most successful means of reaching the South Pole.

Engineer Reginald Skelton developed a caterpillar track for snow surfaces. Scott was so desperate to ensure he would reach his goal of claiming the South Pole for Britain, he added Manchurian Ponies. These horses were known for their endurance in the Siberian cold. He also spoke with Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who freely shared his expertise and encouraged Scott to add sled dogs and skis.

He sent dog expert Cecil Meares to Siberia to purchase dogsand to also negotiate for the Manchurian Ponies. Meares knew nothing about horses and returned with ponies of poor quality and not suited for the long days in the arctic cold.

His crew of experts and scientists set out on June 15, 1910 on an old converted whaler, Terra Nova. Arriving in Melborne, Australia, in October 1910, Scott received a telegram that Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen  was headed to the Antarctic on a quest to reach the South Pole.

Terra Nova’s journey was fraught with mishaps, the ship almost sank in a storm, and dthen was trapped in ice for twenty days. While unloading the ship one of the motorized  vehicles broke through the sea ice. The late-season arrival shortened their preparation time.

Preparatory work consisted of  testing equipment and setting up caches of food and supplies as far along the route as possible so the polar team could travel lighter. Worsening weather and the poor-quality ponies forced them to place their main supply point, One Ton Depot, 35 miles north of its planned location. 

He learned Armundsen was camped at the Bay of Whales 200 miles east of them.  Amundsen’s base was 69 miles closer to the Pole, giving him an extra advantage. Causing Scott’s team to doubt their ability to reach the South Pole.

Scott’s team left on November 1, 1911, a caravan consisting of motorized vehicles, ponies and dogs with loaded sledges traveling at different speeds all designed to support the final group who would dash to the South Pole. The party reduced in size as each support unit reached the end of their journey and returned home to report their progress. Scott reminded the returning Surgeon-Lieutenant Atkinson of the order to take two dog-teams south to meet them at the 82 degree latitude to ensure they reached home base safely.

Scott's team at the South Pole. Scott is on the far right.


On January 4, 1912, the last two four-men units had reached the 84 latitude 34 longitude south. Scott then chose the four men who would join him on the race to the pole, while the rest returned to base.

Those five reached the Pole on January 17,1912, only to find a tent containing a letter from Amundsen dated December 18, 1911. Scott kept a daily diary and on seeing his dream shattered he wrote, “The worst has happened…All the day dreams must go…Great God! This is an awful place.”

The discouraged party began the 862 mile trek back on January 19th.  Scott noted in his diary that Edgar Evans’ health was deteriorating after a fall, a second fall took his life.on February 17. With 400 more miles to travel, things did not look good. Hunger and exhaustion plagued them as they struggled back to base camp.

The Terra Nova arrived back at McMonde Sound at the beginning of February. Surgeon -Lietenent Atkinson spent time helping his team unload fresh supplies before heading out with his dog teams, delaying his departure date. Coming across Teddy Evans, from the final unit sent back, in need of urgent medical attention, the surgeon was conflicted. Evans needed his help, but the dog sleds had to be delivered to Scott’s team.

When Scott reached the 82 S. three days ahead of schedule, there were no dog sleds and the exhausted team continued on. By March 2, Lawrence Oates severe frostbite left him unable to help pull the sledges. On March 10th the temperature dropped to negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Oates last words to Scott as he exited their tent. “I’m just going outside and may be some time.” He walked away to his death. This left Scott and two others to continue the trek.

 Scott was now suffering from frostbite. After walking another 20 miles, they set up camp on March 19, approximately 12.5 miles short of One Ton Depot. A blizzard stalled them there for nine days. While the storm raged outside the tent and supplies began to run low, the men wrote their farewell letters to family and friends. Scott’s last diary entry on March 29th “For God Sake look after our people.” He left letters for the families of the five-man team, as well as letters to a string of influential people, his mother and his wife.

 He also wrote “A Message to the Public” explaining the failure of the expedition was the weather and other misfortunes. Then ending on a positive note, he lauded his team for taking the risk and doing their best. He had confidence that Britain would provide for the families of all those who died attempting this great feat.

Scott's team snowy tomb.

On November 12th, 1912 the bodies of Scott and his companions were found and their records retrieved. Their final camp became their resting place. The tent roof was lowered over the bodies and a snow tomb was erected on top. A pair of skies form a rough cross. Before the Terra Nova left for home, the ship’s carpenter constructed a memorial cross on Observation Hill near the bay. it is inscribed with the names of the lost party and a line from Tennyson’s poem Ulysses. “To strive, to seek, to find, to not yield.” The cross overlooks Hut Point.

Thirty-five pounds of tree fossils were found with the remains, proving Antarctica had once been warm and connected to other continents.

The expedition’s survivors were honored with polar medals. Naval personnel received promotions. Kathleen Scott was given a widow’s benefit when posthumously Scott was granted the rank of Knight Commander of the Order of Bath.

Would you want to join a risky adventure like the Scott expedition?


Architect Angelina Du Bois took on a risky endeavor to create a town run by women where everyone is consider equal. Although the story is fiction, the heart of women during the mid-1800s is captured between the pages of Angelina’s Resolve, Book #1 of Village of Women. Available in paperback and e-book. You can find a copy online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Walmart.

 Cindy Ervin Huff is an Award-winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She loves infusing hope into her stories of broken people. She’s 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 an evening at the theater. She is agented by Cyle Young of the Hartline Literary Agency.


Sunday, January 16, 2022

A New Year's Resolution

 By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

The phrase "there are no atheists in foxholes," has been passed down from generation to generation. As history has proved, the more terrible the conflict, the more prayers are sent to God.

When Abraham Lincoln became the 16th president of the United States in 1861, he was so unpopular he had to enter the White House through the back door! Yet, no matter how unpopular his stance, he was determined to uphold the "United" states and refused to allow the South to secede from the Union:

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you.… You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend it.’”

The Civil War went down in American history books as the most horrendous war ever fought on this nation's soil; 600,000 were killed.

In the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee of Northern Virginia appointed Chaplain Bennett to head the spiritual needs of his men. In a letter Bennett compiled, he reported this to Lee:

"Up to January 1865, it was estimated that nearly 150,000 soldiers had been converted during the progress of the war, and it was believed that fully one-third of all the soldiers in the field were praying men, and members of some branch of the Christian Church."

Facing death changes a man's perspective on life. And standing against the tide of popular opinions changes a man's perspective of what truly matters to his life.

Abraham Lincoln strived to fulfill his calling and not wither before adversity. He freed the slaves and preserved the Union. His life was threatened numerous times. After completing his life's mission, he was sadly killed by an assassin's bullet.

John F. Kennedy stood boldly, citing these words during his inaugural address of January 1961:

"[W]e observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.…

“Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

"Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, ‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation’ — a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.…

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

Kennedy's message was again very clear on October 27, 1962, clear to the Communist and the Cuban missiles poised at America. Kennedy did not back down from Communism or a possible nuclear war.

However, an assassin's bullet halted Kennedy's Camelot.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" rings out to this day throughout America with his universal mission for ALL to unite beneath a common banner. In King's words, "…that people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character!" Love one another.  But King's beliefs weren't enough to halt the assassin's bullet.

Throughout America's history, brave men and women weathered the storms of adversity for Christ's Truth. They did not forsake their destiny though faced with unpopularity. Men like Lincoln, Kennedy, and King, show by example what standing against the current of popular criticism can accomplish.

Because Americans like Lincoln, Kennedy, and King still exist, there is hope. People, like Senator Joe Manchin, who face death threats, yet dogmatically oppose a bill that would plunge Americans into deeper debt—yes, one person's stand can make a difference for present and future generations.

Make it your New Year's Resolution not to disregard your Christian beliefs. Nor conceal them beneath the cloak of political correctness. Christians can and will make a difference. They never go unnoticed by Almighty God. Jesus declares in Matthew 7:13,14 NKJV, "Enter by the narrow gate…Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

 There are no atheists in a foxhole and oftentimes, it takes a war where rioters, bullies, and the righteous meet upon the battlefield of destiny to come face to face with this Truth. One's life will flash before one's eyes at that moment—when exiting this world for another.   


Swept into Destiny

Ben McConnell is a proud Irish immigrant who is determined not to give up despite hunger and deprivation. He clings to hope—the three mustard seeds of his faith. Matthew 17:20 “…if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing will be impossible.”

Maggie Gatlan is a rebel disguised as a Southern belle. She refuses to allow her countrymen to dictate to her conscience. Ben’s and Maggie’s journeys delve deeply into the truth about faith and devotion.

“… Brakefield’s flowing descriptions pull you into Swept into Destiny and keep immersed in the world of the Antebellum southThis isn’t just a world of beaus, belles, and balls, but of moral ambiguity and searches for truth…” L.H. Amazon Reader

Catherine says, "My readers encourage my writing!" 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's written two pictorial history books. Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County

She and lives with her husband of 49 years and their Arabian horses in Addison Township, Michigan. Her children grown, Catherine loves spoiling her two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!

Saturday, January 15, 2022

James Durham- First African American Physician

Born a slave in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1762, James Durham was a young black boy who was taught to read and write and brought up in the ways of Christianity. This gift of knowledge wasn't bestowed on many slaves in that day. 

At a young age, James was sold to a new owner, Dr. John Kearsley Junior. Dr. Kearsley found the intelligent young slave helpful in the area of medicine, and on occasion used him to compound medicines as well as see to some of the less desirable tasks when seeing to patients. When Dr. Kearsley passed away, the young James Durham became the property of several more slave owners before falling into the hands of the sixteenth British regiment surgeon, Dr. George West in 1776 at the age of fifteen years old. 

Dr. West took the young James in and helped him expand his medical knowledge. He allowed the young slave to help in some of the minor tasks of medicine while America fought for her freedom against England. The war for America's freedom drew to a close and Dr. West sold James to Dr. Robert Dove/Dow (both spellings are used, however the Dove spelling is used in a 1788 letter), of New Orleans. The new owner was a highly respected Scottish-born physician who now lived in New Orleans. Robert, though he was the slave owner, became good friends with James. It is not clear if James was given his freedom or if he purchased it from the earnings he had saved. But with the growing friendship Robert eventually freed James after two or three years. James Derham grew in his knowledge of medicine and upon his release, he had become so knowledgeable in the art of medicine that he began to practice in New Orleans. By this time, James was twenty-six and a husband, making three thousand dollars a year. 

Durham had good knowledge of the diseases in his area. He was a respected physician and became well known for his treatment of diphtheria patients. He spoke fluent French as well as some Spanish. Durham began practicing medicine independently in New Orleans, specializing in throat medicine. 

Durham's success and notoriety caught the attention of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was the most prominent physician in the United States at that time. Rush was so impressed with Durham that he tried to convince him to return to Philadelphia and continue his practice there. But Durham chose to stay where he was and continued to see his patients who were of all races. 

Eventually he went back to Philadelphia where he continued seeing patients. Though James had proved himself as a physician, Pennsylvania made new regulations in 1801 that kept anyone from practicing medicine without a formal medical degree. James practiced for one short year after the new regulation, then he disappeared, never to be seen again.

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 writes in the medieval/renaissance period as well as 19th century. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 4 horses, 3 dogs, a miniature donkey, and 7 1/2 pekin ducks.

Friday, January 14, 2022

New Monthly Series ~ Stolen and Lost Artwork

While researching various aspects of World War II, I came across a 2006 documentary called The Rape of Europa which was based on Lynn H. Nicholas’s book, The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War, published in 1995.

The documentary and the book sparked my interest in the Monuments Men and I read everything I could find on the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program. This group, established in 1943, was tasked with protecting artwork, historic structures, and cultural monuments from theft and damage plus the recovery of stolen treasures.


My main resource was The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edel (published in 2009). I was so fascinated by the stories of these heroic men that the hero of my first published novel, Where Treasure Hides, joins the Monuments Unit toward the end of the war.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when The Monuments Men movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and other well-known actors came to theaters the year after my novel was released.


All that initial research occurred over a decade ago. However, I've been intrigued by art thefts, whether by the Nazis or criminals or even do-gooders (anyone else a Leverage* fan?) ever since.

Over the next few months, I’ll share more about the Monuments Men and their quest to protect Europe’s art amidst the chaos of war, about French art historian Rose Valland who worked with the French Resistance to secretly record the paintings the Nazis took from the Jeu de Paume Art Museum, and about such historic heists as the thirteen paintings stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.


Though paintings such as The Mona Lisa (stolen in 1911) and The Scream (stolen in 2004) have been recovered, the whereabouts of the stolen Gardner paintings remain a mystery. Numerous works of art stolen during World War II have never been found. One of the most famous of these is Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man which was stolen from the Princes Czartoryski Museum, located in Krakow, Poland, in 1939. 


Here’s a bit of interesting trivia I found about the most often stolen piece of art as quoted from “Who is the Most Stolen Artist of All Time?” on the Live Science website (October 2012).


“The title for the most frequently stolen single major artwork seems to be contested. Guinness World Records gives it to Rembrandt's 'Jacob de Gheyn III,' which was stolen four times since 1966, surfacing once in a left-luggage office, once on the back of a bicycle, once under a graveyard bench and once in a taxi.

The other candidate, the Ghent Altarpiece, or ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,’ which was the joint work of the Flemish brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, was stolen seven times over six centuries, according to art historian Noah Charney's website. One of those times was during WWII when it was placed in an Austrian salt mine along with thousands of other stolen art and cultural treasures."

This image depicts the back of the Altarpiece when the panels are closed.

If there’s a particular art heist or aspect of stolen/lost art that you’d like me to write about, please let me know. I’ll add your topic to my list and do my best to write about it in the coming months.


Johnnie imagines inspiring stories 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 racoon-treeing papillon. Visit her at



About Where Treasure Hides:

~~CBA Best Seller

~~Serious Writer Maxwell Award

~~Blue Ridge Autumn in the Mountains Golden Leaf Award

~~ACFW Genesis Winner

~~Translated into Dutch & Norwegian

*For those who may not be familiar with the TV show, Leverage (2008-2012) “follows a five-person team: a thief, a grifter, a hacker, and a retrieval specialist, led by former insurance investigator Nathan Ford, who use their skills to carry out heists to fight corporate and governmental injustices inflicted on ordinary citizens” (Wikipedia ~ who explained it better than I could). Most of the cast have returned for Leverage: Redemption (now available on Amazon Prime with IMDb subscription).

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Lingering Appeal of the Wild West and Doc Holliday

by Kimberly Grist 

Happy New Year, y'all. I'm so pleased to be a new contributor to this blog. I love history, and one of my favorite parts about the writing process is doing the research required to ensure accuracy in my stories. I also try to find something that may not be widely known to keep the story interesting.  

My family and I share our hometown of Griffin, Georgia, with a notorious gambler and gunfighter who’s also a dentist. I work only a block away from the location of his dental practice.

Doc Holliday is well known for his participation along with Wyatt Earp in the O.K. Corral gunfight in 1881. The battle itself lasted less than a minute. After almost 140 years, what do we still find so intriguing about the man? Multiple movies retell the story of lawman, Wyatt Earp. But strangely, the character we’re most drawn to is a sickly dentist turned gambler and gunman known as Doc.

Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.
Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.

Perhaps the complexity of his character is the reason for his lingering appeal. His vibrant personality is rooted in contrast. Doc is critically ill but bold and gallant. He’s a deadly gunslinger and gambler, yet smart, educated, flashy, witty, compassionate, and loyal. Stir in a bit of vulnerability, a touch of vanity, and don’t forget a healthy dose of gallant southern charm to describe this critically ill man.

Doc Holliday as a child

Born with a cleft palate on August 14, 1851, John Henry Holliday was fed by his mother with an eyedropper and a spoon.

The baby’s uncle, Dr. John Stiles Holliday, performed surgery, assisted by Dr. Crawford Long, the namesake of the Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The operation may have been the first time in history that ether was used on an infant. He was schooled at home by his mother, who spent years training him to conquer his speech impediment. She also instilled in him Southern etiquettes, which would forever be part of his demeanor.

Two actors who played Doc Holliday, Stacy Keach and Jason Robards, were also born with the same condition. 

Jason Robards played Doc in Hour of the Gun in 1967.

In 1864, his family moved to Valdosta, Georgia, where his mother suffered from consumption, now known as tuberculosis, and died when he was fifteen. Three months after his mother’s death, his father remarried.

Doc Holliday age 10

Holliday attended Valdosta Institute, where he received a classical education, and in 1870, nineteen-year-old Holliday left home to attend the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He graduated five months before his twenty-first birthday. He returned to Griffin, Georgia, in 1872 to practice dentistry. 

John Henry was soon diagnosed with consumption and, in 1873, ended his career as a dentist. Some say he didn’t want his family to see him deteriorate and die from the disease. Others suggest he went west hoping that the climate would be beneficial to his lungs. Regardless, Doc took the train to the literal end of the railroad line—Dallas, Texas.

Holliday understood the gravity of his disease and most likely considered himself a walking dead man. Though a realist, he remained hopeful for a cure. Doc found comfort in whiskey and gambling.

Texas was full of guns, knives, and violent men, some of whom were suffering from post-traumatic stress from the effects of war. Doc reinvented himself—from a southern gentleman dentist to a dangerous gunman who’d killed more than a dozen men in various altercations.

Holliday traveled from town to town, following the money and gaining a reputation as both a gambler and a gunman. In 1877, Doc was involved in an argument, but he used his walking stick instead of going for his gun. His serious wounds, compounded by worsening tuberculosis, spurred a change of scenery. His next stop was Fort Griffin, where he met Wyatt Earp, who ultimately saved his life.

Earp and Holliday became fast friends. Eventually, Doc would join Earp in the wild boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona. Due to recent silver strikes, the town was flooded with merchants and cash but short on law and order. By the end of 1880, Tombstone was embedded with organized rustlers and thieves called the Cowboys. 

Val Kilmer as Doc alongside Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell & Bill Paxton as Virgil, Wyatt & Morgan Earp in Tombstone, 1 1993 American Western film directed by George P. Cosmato.

On October 26, 1881. Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp deputized Holliday. Virgil asked Doc to carry his shotgun under his coat, and the four strode down the middle of the street to meet and disarm five members of the Cowboys near the O.K. Corral, which resulted in a thirty-second shootout.