Battle of Stones River Remembered

The picturesque Stones River winds its way through Rutherford County, Tennessee, on its way to Percy Priest Lake and eventually to the Cumberland River. Along its shores the Stones River National Battlefield spans a small parcel of the land where Confederate and Union forces fought December 31, 1862, through January 2, 1863. Caught amid the urban sprawl of modern-day Murfreesboro, the site marks one of many battles, in what was then considered the “west,” that allowed the Union forces to split the Confederacy.

Visitor Center
Visitor Center

On a recent trip to Tennessee, our son took us to the Stones River National Battlefield.  I’ve visited many Civil War battlefields over the years but this was my first time at Stones River.  At the visitors center we learned about the battle and then we took a driving tour. My husband and I are both history buffs and we have a particular affinity for the Civil War. Both of us have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy and we both grew up with the many Civil War sites nearby.  Seeing the terrain and hearing the story of the Battle of Stones River gave us an understanding of what the men who fought here went through one hundred and fifty years ago.

Stones River
Stones River

At the beginning of the war, Tennessee seceded while Kentucky did not. This drew the initial lines in the “west.”  By mid-1862 most of the Mississippi was lost and Union ships blockaded the southern and eastern ports. Union strategists planned to cut a wedge through Tennessee and Georgia to divide the Confederacy. Although widespread, the road network of the day would not sustain transport of supplies, munitions and men. Railroads and riverboats provided the fastest and easiest means of transport. So the Union generals were ordered to capture the railroads and take control of the rivers.

Fences on Battlefield
Fences on Battlefield

The spring of 1862 saw the fall of Fort Donelson and Nashville, both on the Cumberland River. On the night of December 30th General William Rosecrans left Nashville and marched his men southeast along the Nashville Pike, which paralleled the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. They camped just outside Murfreesboro where the enemy waited. Anticipating the coming fight, Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg attacked on the freezing-cold morning of December 31st. From the south they pushed  the Union troops back toward Nashville Pike, the railroad and the Stones River.  The battle raged across cotton fields, through stoney outcroppings and cedar thickets for three long days. Thousands on both sides were killed, wounded or captured.  (13,249 Union, 10,266 Confederate)

Terrain near river, scene of last day of battle
Terrain near river, scene of last day of battle

Approximate area of river crossing

On January 2, 1862, after having pushed the northern troops off a hill and across the Stones River, Union artillery on the far side of the small river fired on pursuing Confederates, killing or wounding nearly 1,800 in mere minutes. The southerners retreated as the Yankees recrossed the river and retook the high ground.  The following day General Bragg withdrew his men from the battlefield and from Murfreesboro.

Cannons fired across the fields.
Cannons fired across the fields.

In the months following the battle, General Rosecrans built a large fort at Murfreesboro called “Fortress Rosecrans.” This 200 acre, earthen-works fort became the supply depot for the later campaigns against the rail center  in Chattanooga and eventually Atlanta.

In 1863, not long after the battle, Colonel William Hazen’s men built a monument to commemorate the Union soldiers lost in the battle. It is the oldest intact Civil War memorial.

Hazen Brigade Monument
Hazen Brigade Monument

In 1866, over 6,100 Union soldiers were reburied in the Stones River National Cemetery.  In 1867 remains of Confederate soldiers were moved to a cemetery south of Murfreesboro. Later, in the 1890’s, about 2,000 southerners were moved again to Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro. As at many other battlefields, the U.S. government established cemeteries for the Union soldiers who died, but private citizens provided for the interment of the Confederate dead.

Across the fields to the Stones River Cemetery
Across the fields to the Stones River Cemetery

The Stones River battlefield became a tourist attraction bringing people and needed money to the area. Situated along the railroad, the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway provided excursions for those who wanted to see the cemetery, memorials and the battlefield  itself. The railway published a book called “Southern Battlefields” in 1890 to serve as a guidebook for those touring the many battlefields. Later, in 1906, the railroad built the artillery monument, a 34-ft-tall obelisk marking the hill where the last attack took place so that the passengers could see it from their train.

Hazen Brigade Monument - inside the wall
Hazen Brigade Monument – inside the wall

Modern day tourists can explore the preserved portion of the battlefield and the surrounding area. With the help of maps and information provided at the visitor center, tourists can maneuver through homes and business areas to find the Hazen Brigade Memorial, the remnants of “Fortress Rosecrans” and to explore the Stones River.

Marker along driving tour
Marker along driving tour

When we returned home, I did a little research to determine if any of our ancestors fought at Stones River. It turns out that the Tennessee Sharpshooters (also called Maney’s Sharpshooters, 24th Tennessee Sharpshooter Battalion, Maney’s Battalion) under Captain Frank Maney are listed in the order of battle for the Army of the Tennessee at Stones River.  George Wade Knight, my great, great-grandfather, served in the 24 Battalion Tennessee Sharpshooters as did his brother-in-law, Perry L. Brown and his wife’s brother-in-law Philander Rushing.  All were from Humphreys County and probably joined up together.

Leaving Hazen Brigade Monument
Leaving Hazen Brigade Monument

Malvern Hill or Gettysburg?

Was my ancestor wounded at Malvern Hill or Gettysburg? Accounts differ, but they provide fascinating information about the battles and his unit’s participation in those battles.

E. D. Boone
E. D. Boone

Etheldred D. Boone enlisted in Company B 14th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, CSA. The regiment was organized near Clarksville, Tennessee, in June, 1861.  Along with the 1st Tennessee and the 7th Tennessee Infantry Regiments, the 14th completed the three regiments that made up the Tennesse Brigade assigned to Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Company B, organized in Palmyra, consisted of members primarily from Montgomery County. E. D. Boone lived in what was then Stewart County near the town of Erin, which later became the county seat of Houston County. In 1861 Palmyra was a thriving community a few miles and a short train ride from Erin. The train ran through Erin to Cumberland City then along the Cumberland River to Palmyra and on to Clarksville.

As part of Lee’s campaign to save the Confederate capital, Malvern Hill was the last of the Seven Days Battle for Richmond which began at the Battle of Oak Grove on June 25, 1862, and ended at Malvern Hill on July 1st.

In a letter written in 1909 by a surviving member of Company B to E. D. Boone’s son, Samuel B. Powers stated that E. D. Boone was wounded at Malvern Hill. See the full text of the letter from Samuel B. Powers at the end of this post.

In 1862 the Tennessee Brigade, commanded by James J. Archer, was attached to A. P. Hill’s division of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. On June 26th Hill’s division engaged the Union forces at Beaver Dam Creek and again at Gaines Mill on June 27th. The division fought at Glendale on June 30. But, on July 1st,  A. P. Hill’s division, exhausted from the previous days fighting, was held in reserve during the Battle of Malvern Hill.

So could my ancestor have been wounded at Malvern Hill? With all the fighting over a seven-day period, it is possible that he was wounded during this campaign. The battle at Glendale took place on the approach to Malvern Hill where the Union forces had retreated to the high ground. A large number of Union troops had dug in on the hill, with artillery in place, prepared to make their stand when the Confederates attacked on July 1st. At the time the names of the various battles were not as distinct as they are today. Historians have given names to the various actions based on specific locations and dates, yet the soldiers on the field may have referred to them differently. If he was wounded at Malvern Hill, as the letter states, he was probably wounded on June 30 in what is now called the Battle of Glendale.

But then there is the other account – that E. D. Boone was wounded at Gettysburg. In my grandmother’s library a book titled “A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans” (1913) contained biographies and histories of prominent Tennesseans. My grandfather’s write-up told of his father’s service in the Confederate Army. “…serving therewith until the battle of Gettysburg, when he was seriously wounded during Pickett’s charge. He was carried back with the army into Virginia, and remained in the hospital at Richmond until the close of the war, and for some time thereafter was compelled to use crutches.” The source of this information is unknown.

The Tennessee Brigade, including the 14th Tennessee Regiment, did participate in the battle of Gettysburg as part of Henry Heth’s Division in A. P. Hill’s Third Corp. Their commander, James J. Archer, was captured on the first day, July 1, 1863. Command passed to Birkett D. Fry who led the Tennessee Brigade at the forefront of Pickett’s famous charge on July 3, 1863. Elements of the 14th reached the Union lines but lost their battle flag to the Yankees within their battle works.

One hundred men, of the original one thousand, reformed the 14th Tennessee Regiment on the day after Gettysburg. By the surrender at Appomattox Court House the following year only 40 men remained.  Regardless of when he was wounded, E. D. Boone served with honor, was wounded and his widow received a widow’s pension.

Due to his untimely death in 1873 of cholera, E. D. Boone never had the opportunity to tell his son about his military experiences. Perhaps by requesting copies of E. D. Boone’s military record and his widow’s pension application from the Tennessee State Archives, I will be able to obtain more information about his service.

Letter written to W. R. Boone by Samuel B. Powers regarding E.D. Boone’s service in the Confederate Army.

RFD # 1
Palmyra, Tenn.
Feb 12th, 1909
Mr. W. R. Boone
Erin, Tenn.

I received a note from Capt. W. G. Russell a few days ago with a letter from you enclosed making inquiry about E. D. Boone who was a member of Co. B 14th Tenn. Regt. in Confederate Army. Being a member of the same company I was very intimate with him. I waited on him through a spell of fever while in the Army. From your letter I think you want to know in what Battle he was wounded. It seems that the old boys of other companies do not agree about the battle he was wounded in. I have talked with your father since the war. He told me he was wounded at Malvern Hill, the last of the seven days fight before Richmond VA. If you will see a history of that fight you will see it commenced the 26th of June & ended the 1st day  July 1862.

Respectfully Yours,

Saml. B. Powers

Irish Celebration – Erin, Tennessee

Every year at St. Patrick’s Day my hometown of Erin, Tennessee, holds an Irish Celebration.  The celebration honors the Irish roots of the community and, during the Celebration, everyone in town is Irish.

In March 2011, we attended the annual parade. Thousands lined the main street to watch. Both before and afterward celebrants enjoyed the food, music, carnival and crafts.

Irish Day Parade 2011
St. Patrick Leads the Parade

Weather in March doesn’t always cooperate, but in 2011 bright sunshine blessed the celebration. Main Street was closed at 9:30, and by 10 the local wee ones dressed as leprecans began the long treck through the center of town. Traditionally, the children’s parade leads the way. Youngsters dressed in every shade of green walked and rode assorted vehicles past the crowds of onlookers.

St. Patrick himself, portrayed by a local pastor, led the main event. Continental soldiers carried the colors flanked by Tennessee frontiersmen. The parade lasted more than two hours and included everything imaginable. The local high school band plus a naval band and two separate bagpipe units provided music. Local beauties, from infants to teens, rode in convertibles, in pickups and on floats. Firetrucks and military vehicles added color. Members of a Middle Tennessee Miata club showcased their vehicles. Clowns entertained, while vendors hawked their wares.

Bagpipes add to Irish Celebration

Every Shriner unit in Tennessee must have joined the celebration. Motorcycles, mini-cars, buses filled with clowns, and other assorted vehicles circled and roared through town providing lots of fun for all.

Clown in Parade

A highlight of the parade for me was a flat-bed truck carrying civil war vintage cannon and re-enactors. Confederate infantrymen marched behind the truck and periodically fired their rifles. Many parade goers were startled by the loud volleys. Quite impressive.

The parade would not have been complete without the numerous floats portraying the annual theme. Proud owners rode beautiful horses and drove antique tractors. Almost every unit tossed candy and beads to the crowd sending kids scurrying to retrieve the goodies. My hometown really put on a fabulous parade enjoyed by all.

Wearin' o' the Green

Both before and after the parade people crowded into the downtown area where numberous stalls sold all types of food, crafts, and souveniers. Artists and craftsmen displayed their works. Bands provided music and the carnival rides served up thrills and screams of delight.

This annual event provides families and old friends the opportunity to get together during high school class reunions and family reunions. This year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, March 17, 2012. Come early and enjoy the day.

Coastal Artillery’s Demise During WWII

The concept of coastal artillery has been around for a long time. With the invention of the cannon centuries ago, countries along the sea realized they could defend their shores from invasion by positioning guns at key locations. Important harbors and port cities became the primary location for defensive forts armed with artillery pieces.

Think about our early history. During the War of 1812 Fort McHenry defended Baltimore and we sing about it in our national anthem. At the tip of Manhattan in Battery Park the guns of Castle Clinton protected New York City during the same war. Even Fort Sumter’s guns were intended to defend Charleston from invaders, not fire on the Federal troops to start the Civil War.

Guns at Ft. McHenry

During the Civil War, locations like Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, Florida, and Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama, controlled important shipping lanes. Confederates and Federals fought to occupy these key positions.

Fort Clinch, Amelia Island, Florida

Hitler’s Atlantic Wall was a classic and extensive example of coastal artillery used to defend a coastline. Fortifications built along occupied Europe’s Atlantic Coast created a defensive wall against the Allied invasion that both sides knew was inevitable.

German Gun Emplacement on French Coast

During WWII the Coastal Artillery was also a vital part of this America’s defense. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US expected the Japanese to attack the west coast. And German U-Boats were expected to attack US ports on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The Army updated the already existing forts and gun emplacements and added anti-aircraft guns.

Battery Davis 16 in gun at San Francisco

My father’s service in the coastal artillery from 1942 to 1943 spurred me to learn more about this now-defunct branch of the military.  Stationed at the entrance to San Francisco bay, he manned huge guns aimed at the surrounding ocean to protect the city and the bay.

The Presidio of San Francisco, a military post dating back to the Spanish and Mexican days, became the headquarters for defense of the west coast. Its location on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate bridge oversaw the narrow entrance to the bay. An extensive network of fortifications, gun emplacements, anti-aircraft guns and observation posts located on the opposite side, in what is now part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, also protected the critical passage.

Disappearing Rifle at Battery Chamberlin, Presidio, San Francisco

The American military expected the Japanese to attempt to get into San Francisco Bay and wreak havoc so they developed defenses to prevent intrusion. The Navy laid minefields and stretched a huge anti-submarine net across the inner harbor. Navy tug boats would open and close it for authorized vessels. In 1939 a German submarine penetrated Scapa Flow, the main British naval base, and sank a battleship, so it was no far-fetched idea.

During WWII San Francisco was the busiest port on the west coast. My father recalled looking out over the harbor and seeing thousands of ships, both military and civilian. He expressed pride in protecting this vital port. He told of manning the big guns, the blackouts along the coast and walking patrol on the beaches. The threat of saboteurs sneaking ashore was very real in those days.

As the war progressed US forces destroyed much of the Japanese and German navies, thus reducing the threat to our coast line. Recapturing islands such as Midway and Wake made airborne attacks less likely. By 1944 the military realized that neither the Japanese nor the Germans could mount an invasion or a serious attack on the US. With manpower needed elsewhere in Europe and the Pacific, coastal artillery units were stripped and soldiers were reassigned to the field artillery or the infantry. That usually meant overseas duty for the men. It also spelled the end of the Coastal Artillery.

My father was on the list to be transferred overseas when his request to join a newly formed medical rehabilitation unit was approved. While his brother fought in the Pacific under MacArthur recapturing the Philippines and other islands, my father remained stateside and helped wounded veterans regain their health and strength. (The story of this unique rehab unit will be the subject of another post.)

Advances in the technology of warfare, through airplanes and missiles, caused the demise of the coastal artillery. After WWII with the advent of the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM’s) took over the nation’s defense. And coastal artillery faded into history. A few of the locations remain as local or national parks and historic sites. Visit some of these unique sites for a stroll into the past.

A Civil War Sniper – Jack Hinson

Jack Hinson's One-Man War by Tom McKenney: Book Cover

Not everyone who fought against the Union did so because they believed in the Confederate cause. For some the motivation was revenge. This was the case for Jack Hinson. Living near Dover, Tennessee, Hinson tried to stay neutral. During the battle at Fort Donelson he made it known he would not take sides. His only concern was for his family. During the battle he traversed the lines as a neutral and after the battle General Ulysses S. Grant visited the Hinson farm near Dover as a guest.

So why did Jack Hinson become a sniper who killed numerous Union officers? In his book, “Jack Hinson’s One Man War – A Civil War Sniper”  Tom C. McKenney tells the compelling story.

Although one of Jack’s grown sons joined the Confederate army, Jack opposed secession and intended to remain neutral. At the beginning of the war Jack Hinson owned a large farm, called Bubbling Springs, where his wife, eight of his ten children and his slaves lived and worked. Yes, Jack Hinson owned slaves who worked in his home and on the farm. McKenney says they were treated as extended family and some of their descendents still live in the area. Nevertheless, Jack Hinson did not support the Confederate cause until Union troops attacked his family.

One day when his two teenaged sons were out hunting, a Union patrol stopped them and accused them of being bushwhackers. Without benefit of trial, they took the boys to Dover and executed them. As if this injustice were not enough, the officer in charge ordered the boys beheaded and their heads delivered to the Hinson farm where they were placed on the gate posts.

If you think these types of horrific events did not happen during the Civil War, then you’ve only heard the cleansed version of history. I grew up in this area of Tennessee, just 30 miles from Dover. Many families passed down stories of atrocities that the official versions want to forget. Why did these atrocities happen? Once Tennessee became occupied territory, the better Union officers and troops moved on to the more active battle fronts. That left the less capable officers and less disciplined soldiers as occupational forces. Combine that with disgruntled Confederate sympathizers who carried on a guerilla-type warfare and you can better understand what happened to the Hinson boys.

Jack Hinson was a God-fearing man who believed in vengeance. He quietly commissioned a special sniper rifle and began using it on the Union patrols. He targeted only the officers because he believed that they were responsible rather than the soldiers who merely carried out orders. When a friend warned him that the Union troops were going to arrest him, he bundled up his wife and younger children and sent them to safety with relatives in West Tennessee. In a winter snowstorm Jack Hinson entrusted his family’s safety to his slaves who got them through the snow and across the Tennessee River. Hinson stayed behind to continue his sniping. When the Union troops arrived at the farm to arrest Hinson, they were met by defiant slaves. The Union soldiers burned the farm.

Hinson lived in a cave on a bluff high above the Tennessee River. At that time the rivers were the superhighways that transported troops and supplies to the Union army. From his vantage point overlooking the river, he shot Union officers and river pilots on the riverboats that passed below him. Hinson managed to disrupt traffic on the river and terrorize the crews and passengers on the riverboats.

Jack moved from time to time and carefully protected the local citizens who helped him. When he ventured across the river to visit his family, he learned that two of his younger children, who were sick with measles at the time of their escape, had died. To Hinson, the Union had caused their deaths. He continued his one-man campaign against the Union. Later his son in the Confederate Army died in battle and his other grown son died in a guerrilla raid.

Jack Hinson never officially joined the Confederate Army, but he did aid them. Before the Battle of Johnsonville, Jack acted as scout and guide for General Nathan B. Forrest, and he was with the Confederate troops during the battle.

Although hunted as an outlaw, Jack Hinson was never captured. After the war he settled what was left of his family (only five of his ten children survived) on White Oak Creek. The scarcely populated area provided a safe haven where Jack lived his remaining years.

For a thorough and well researched account of the life of Jack Hinson, read “Jack Hinson’s One Man War – A Civil War Sniper” by Tom C. McKenney. He skillfully weaves Jack Hinson’s life into the events of the day. The former Marine uses his military background to help the reader understand the weapons, tactics and terrain. His extensive research included scouring military records and personal accounts, visiting the sites and conducting extensive interviews. McKenney’s fascinating, descriptive accounts make the reader feel he is actually there. I especially appreciated his description of the land “Between the Rivers” since I grew up in this area bounded by the Tennessee River on the west and the Cumberland River to the East and North. McKenney’s explanation of the lead up to the war and his detailed accounts of the battles at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson are excellent and confirm the stories I heard growing up. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Civil War history.

Point Park in Chattanooga

From high atop Lookout Mountain the Tennessee River looks like a ribbon winding its way through the valley below. Today the city of Chattanooga sprawls along the river and up the surrounding mountainsides. But in 1863 Chattanooga was a small town nestled along the riverbank. Its importance lay in the railroads that intersected in the mountain valley leading to Nashville, Knoxville, and Atlanta. The iron and coke works supplying the Confederacy added to its value.

After the Battle of Chicamauga in September 1863, the defeated Union Army retreated to Chattanooga. Surrounded by the Confederates for more than a month, the Union soldiers were almost out of supplies when reinforcements arrived. Still the southern forces held the high ground on Lookout Mountain with a commanding view of the valley, river and town.

Point Park Cannon

Standing on the rocks in Point Park and looking down at the shear drop off the mountain, it is hard to imagine the Union soldiers attacking – but they did. On Nov. 24, 1863, they came up the rocks and cliffs in an attempt to take the summit. Confederate cannon had been mounted to fire at the river and town below. When they tried to adjust their fire toward the attacking soldiers, the cannon balls would roll out of the barrel before they could be fired. Without benefit of cannon, the southern troops defended the mountain with rifles and hand-to-hand fighting.  It is said that Confederate soldiers who ran out of ammunition hurled rocks at the attacking Yankees. Imagine the terror of combat in such a place where a soldier could fall to his death if he stumbled and lost his footing.

Cliffs on Lookout Mountain

Because a heavy mist hung over the mountain making it difficult for either side to see more than a few feet, the battle was referred to as the Battle above the Clouds. By the end of the day the Union was victorious and the Confederates retreated to Missionary Ridge where the next day they were defeated again.

During the Battle of Missionary Ridge a young soldier picked up the fallen colors and led the charge up the ridge. Arthur MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action that day. In later years he became a Lieutenant General and the father of Douglas MacArthur who achieved the five-star rank of  General of the Army in World War II. These two men are the only father and son recipients of the Medal of Honor.

My husband and I recently visited Point Park atop Lookout Mountain accompanied by our son, daughter-in-law and grandson. The park preserves the site of the civil war battlefield. The famous Incline Railway took us up the mountain and we walked the three blocks to the park. Beautiful old houses sit atop the mountain. Those on the edge have gorgeous views and back yards that go straight down. It is definitley worth a visit. Chattanooga has many interesting and historic sites for anyone seeking a getaway.


Welcome to my website! Join me as I journey through history doing research for my novels, visiting historic sites and digging into my family genealogy. To introduce myself, I will begin with where I grew up – because I am one of those southern women whose identity is strongly tied to place and ancestry.

I was raised in middle Tennessee between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in the small town of Erin. The story goes that Erin was named by the Irish railroad workers in the mid-1800’s because the green valley nestled between steep hills reminded them of Ireland. But the area was occupied much earlier.

American Indians, including the Cherokee, the Creeks and the Choctaw, shared middle Tennessee as a hunting ground. Evidence of human occupation has been dated back to pre-historic times. The Wells Creek Basin is the site of an ancient meteorite crater. Indians traded flint from Wells Creek as arrow heads and spear heads throughout North America. On a trip to Yellowstone in the 1970’s I visited the Buffalo Bill Historic Center in Cody, Wyoming, where I was surprised to find a collection of arrowheads from Wells Creek, Tennessee, on display.

My grandfather Boone was an amateur geologist/archeologist. He collected rocks, including dolomite and shatter cone from the Wells Creek Basin and various Indian artifacts from the area. Although he died when my mother was four, my grandfather’s collections remained on display in my grandmother’s house, like a private museum. The stories fascinated me and his collection inspired the “rock hound” in me to start my own collection.

The first influx of settlers came to the area where I was raised after the Revolution when Continental soldiers received land grants as payment for their service. Some soldiers sold their land to settlers and speculators, but many brought their families west to what was then the frontier. The McMillan’s, my fraternal grandmother’s family, settled on their land grant in what became my hometown. The McMillan family cemetery is situated on a hillside in western end of the valley overlooking the middle school (old high school), the nursing home, and much of the community known as Arlington. These early settlers were primarily of Scotch or Scotch-Irish descent who brought with them an independent spirit and strong religious faith.

Several regiments were raised in the area during the Civil War. My maternal great-grandfather served in the 14th Tennessee and fought in the eastern theatre. My fraternal great-great-grandfather served in the 24th Tennessee Sharpshooters and Maney’s Battery along with his two brothers and one brother-in-law. His other brother-in-law served in the 50th Tennessee. My maternal great-great-grandfather served in the 26thMississippi Infantry.  All these soldiers reflect the strong support for the Confederacy within my family, yet none represent the “traditional” image of the south filled with wealthy plantation owners. They were all small farmers or local merchants.

After the war, people from the north came south in search of cheap land. Among these were my maternal great-great-grandparents, who emigrated from Germany in 1850 and settled in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. In 1867, they came down the Ohio and up the Cumberland to Wells Creek and purchased farmland. These are my German ancestors and the most recent of my ancestors to come to America.

In 1871 portions of Stewart, Montgomery, Humphreys and Dickson Counties were combined to create Houston County, named for Sam Houston, former Governor of the State of Tennessee. Sam Houston is one of the many historical figures from Tennessee. Unfortunately, I can claim no kinship to the Tennessean turned Texan.

In 1886, Goodspeed published a history of Tennessee which includes a History of Houston County.  The account provides fertile ground for the imagination. So many individual stories, so many lives to explore. These are the people who make up the fabric of our country. Real history, about real people, helps us understand who we are and where we came from. It’s why I love history. It inspires me to write, to transform bits and pieces of real lives into fictional characters and stories.

Over time I will share some of the history that inspires my historical romantic fiction and my women’s fiction stories.