Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jamestown and Our Family Tree

It is fascinating putting together the pieces of the history of one family with roots so firmly planted within this country. I got interested in putting together the puzzle pieces of the individuals in our family tree who lived at this time in the Jamestown area and thought I would share it with you.

The map to the right locates different tribes of Indians living in the Jamestown area. The Powhatans were located in the upper right.
Jamestown area

On Good Friday, March 22, 1622 Opechancanough (10th great grandfather), then chief Powhatan (his brother Wahunsonacock, 11th great grandfather, father of Opechancanough's wife, Cleopatra, 10th great grandmother, had died two years earlier), attacked Jamestown. The Powhatans referred to this event as an Assault on Jamestown. The residents of Jamestown called it a Massacre. Opechancanough died in 1644 at around 100 years old, killed by a guard after having been captured after another attack on Jamestown where 500 were killed. This attack was devastating as well, but did not take the same high percentage of those living at Jamestown as the first assault.

I always thought Cleopatra was an odd name for a primitive people to name a daughter. However, Powhatan actually had many, many children and two daughters were named Cleopatra. My Cleopatra is known as Cleopatra, the Shawano (Shawnee), and she wound up marrying her half uncle.

Ironically, a another 10th great grandfather Samuel Jordan survived the first Indian massacre of Jamestown where one third of the colony was killed, including his son Robert. It was the journal he kept when he was shipwrecked on the island of Bermuda on his journey to Jamestown aboard the Sea Venture that inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest. He died in 1623.

8th great grandfather, Colonel Thomas Pettus (aka Councilor) came to America for the Virginia Company in 1638-1641 after serving on the Continent in the Thirty Years War. He commanded forty men to assist the colonists in their struggles with the Powhatan Indians at Jamestowne. Colonel Thomas Pettus claimed Jamestown property through investments made by his uncle, Sir John Pettus, who had purchased stock in the company holding the third charter to Virginia, The Third Virginia Charter Company. Littleton Plantation was his home and was recently excavated.

Sir Francis Wyatt (ca. 1588–1644), governor, November 18, 1621–May 24, 1624; rallied the defense of Jamestown during the massacre. Sir Francis' brother, Hawte Wyatt, my husband's 10th great grandfather, and his wife Barbara had accompanied Sir Francis to Jamestown. Their first son, George, was born shortly after the massacre. Hawte Wyatt served as rector of the church at Jamestown. Hawte and his brother Sir Francis returned to England but when Sir Francis came back to serve a second term as Governor, Rev. Haute’s three sons, including John, my husband's ancestor, and a daughter back to America with him and became the ancestors of many of the Wyatts in America. (Interesting website for Wyatts: http://mickisuzanne.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/the-wyatts-in-jamestown/)

So many stories! So much history to know! The more I learn the more I realize I do not know but I do enjoy putting the pieces together to make history my story.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Native American Genealogy of Vashti Vann Jernigan

 Vashti Vann Jernigan, my fourth great grandmother, intrigues me. It was discovering the Indian heritage so long kept secret that started me on the research that led to my Serpents series of novels which now include Swimming with Serpents and Nest of Vipers. Her son, Joseph Jefferson Jernigan, my third great grandfather, is pictured below.

Vashti Vann was the daughter of Edward Vann who lived in Edgefield, SC  as is proven by census and court records, land and tax records, etc. accumulated by a cousin, Tammie Wood Nauguit, who is descended from Vashti's sister, Margaret. 

She writes:

"Edward Ned Vann was a rich peach farmer on the Savannah River, and either he or his father Edward Vann owned two trading post one on each side of the Savannah River. His father Edward Vann sold the British Government 400 acres of land, upon which to build Ft. Charlotte, which I also have documents copied from the Greenville Library in SC..

Edward Vann b: 1720 was born in the Cherokee Nation, his parents were John Vann born about 1690 his mother was a Cherokee woman of the Anikowi Deer Clan.
(They hunted deer down on foot)! That is where Edward Vann met his first wife Mary Barnes b: 1720 (my fifth great grandmother). Mary Barnes was the daughter of Richard Barnes and April Tikami Hop b:1695 (sister of Old Hop, Echota Cherokee Chief) They lived in Hiawasee, GA.

April "Tikami" Hop ( meaning April Water) was the daughter of Big Turkey Cornstalk b: 1760 and UNK woman. He was also the brother of Okowellos Cornstalk born: 1740

When April "Tikami" Hop was three years old her parents were murdered by Catawaba Raiders, and she and her four siblings were left there to die because no one would take them in. Pigeon Moytoy, her aunt's husband, heard about this and went to Hiawassee and brought the children home to raise in the Cherokee Nation (he was the Emperor of the Cherokee Nation, and was also related to Cornstalk through his mother and his wife ). Visit WWW. My Carpenter Genealogy

Big Turkey Cornstalk b: 1760 was the son of Holesqua Opeechan "Stream" Cornstalk b: 1628 and wife Nonoma? Holesqua Opeechan "Stream" Cornstalk b: 1628 and was a War Chief in the Shawnee Nation which was basically everything east of the Mississippi but not the leader of the whole tribe. His son Okowellos Cornstalk was born in 1740, in Ohio. He was the only Chief of the Entire Shawnee Nation. The Shawnee had villages all over the place and intermarried with all of the Tribes, especially the Cherokee.

Our Great Grandparents hid the fact they were Native American. On DEC, 25th 1816, my ancestor, Robert D. Moseley sold 244 acres on Horns Creek, Edgefield, SC. to move to AL. to receive 40 acres of undeveloped property in AL. Robert and Margaret did this to protect their Children (14). They were well known in Edgefield, and lived next door to Edward Ned Vann and Mary King (Margaret and Vasti Vann's parents). They had heard about the Indian Removal and ran for their life, along with many other Native American Families. Edward Ned Vann and Mary Vann were listed on the Enumeration Roll of 1817. If they walked the trail of tears, I do not know. The reason they went to Alabama was because it was not a State yet. (It would not be for 2 years.) All of these families married amongst themselves to keep anyone from finding out.

Edward Ned Vann was a very wealthy Peach Farmer on the Savannah River, and the Whites wanted his property. Our family knew Andrew Jackson because he was also from SC. I have studied the Dawes Rolls and you would be removed if you had as much as 1/16 or less of Indian Blood.

Cornstalk and Tecumseh were famous for trying to send the Whites back to where they came from, and that's why no one on the Dawes Roll would admit to being Shawnee, much less related to Cornstalk."

Tammie is the Headwoman of the Appalachian Shawnee Tribe -Turkey Clan, and invited me to join the tribe, which I proudly did. You may also share this heritage. Tammie mentions Don Greene's books Shawnee Heritage I and II.  They give a fascinating genealogy (and history) of many prominent (and some not so well-known) Native Americans. Those books can be ordered through Amazon. 

If you are interested contact Tammy by email at silentturtle@circleofnativeamericans.org.

Tammy Nauguit
(864) 859-7140
253 Oshields Rd
Easley, SC 29640-9228

South Carolina Connections to Fort Mims

South Carolina connections to Fort Mims

Notice the location of Silver Bluff on this map. Take note of Ninety-Six. My own ancestor, Vashti Vann Jernigan, of Cherokee descent, came from the Ninety-Six District.

Andrew Jackson sent Vashti and her husband Benjamin Jernigan, said to have been a neighbor of Andrew Jackson, to Burnt Corn Springs to herd cattle for the expected conflict with the Spanish over West Florida.  He sat at her table and ate food she had prepared and then sent her cousins, descendants of Chief James Vann, on the Trail of Tears.

Irish immigrant George Galphin operated a large-scale frontier trading post at Silver Bluff. He owned 40,000 acres of land in South Carolina and Georgia, a large number of livestock, and 128 slaves, some of whom were his own children.

Dr. Thomas Galphin Holmes who survived the Massacre at Fort Mims by escaping through a hole chopped in the pickets was the grandson of Galphin and his quadroon second wife, the illegitimate daughter of Moses Nunes, a wealthy Jewish merchant and an Indian woman. Their daughter had married John Holmes, an Irishman who had worked with Galphin in the fur trade.

Samuel Mims, around whose home the fort was built, was "one of the pack-horsemen of the Honorable George Galphin." Mims built his home and operated a ferry on the Federal Road, the primary road through the Creek country. Charles Weatherford, father of William Weatherford (Red Eagle who led the attack on Fort Mims) came to the Creek Nation prior to 1778 and shortly after the close of the American Revolution, in company with Samuel Mims.

South Carolina was probably the origin of many who took the Federal Road through Georgia. Now known as the "OLD FEDERAL ROAD," this primary travel route was conceived and built to connect Fort Wilkinson, near Milledgeville, Georgia, to Fort Stoddert, an American outpost north of Mobile, Alabama. Developed from the 1806-11 postal horse path that followed earlier Native American paths, the Federal Road subsequently became a primary travel route for pioneers going to the Mississippi Territory. The Federal Road functioned as an important link between Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. Early settlers, of the area now known as Monroe, Escambia, Wilcox, Butler and Conecuh Counties, in Alabama included the Middleton, Wardlaw, Bonham, Travis and many other South Carolina families.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Proposal to the Historical Novel Society

I have joined the Historical Novel Society and want to be an active participant. They have issued a call for proposals for the 2013 meeting which will be in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel
June 21-23, 2013. This year they are in London!

The call for proposals states: 

The 2013 HNS North American Conference Board is pleased to announce a Call For Proposals to be a speaker for next year’s program in St. Petersburg, FL.  We’re trying something a little different this time in order to more fully engage the variety of people who attend our conferences. We all love historical fiction of course, but we’re in different places in our appreciation: writers (new and established), readers and fans, and bloggers. Some of us are in all of these categories, and in many places along the roads in between.
We’re planning to organize conference activities along the following lines:
  • Writing Historical Fiction: From beginning writers to the published greats.
  • Publishing and Marketing Historical Fiction: Old school and new tools.
  • Reading Historical Fiction: What do readers and bloggers want to see?

So, I have written a proposal that I plan to submit that I will share with you. I will probably have sent it before you have time to critique it, but comment anyway if you like, because it will help me with my next proposal. 


To the Victor Belongs the Spoils – and the Story: The Silenced Voice of the Native American Speaks Out
By: Sharman Burson Ramsey

"Writing Historical Fiction: Being present in the past, or how not to inject today’s attitudes into yesterday"
Historical Novel Society Conference
St. Petersburg, Florida
June 21-23, 2013
Should you approve this topic, I would introduce this panel with a song from Nightwish with John Two Hawks entitled “Creek Mary’s Blood” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=CLq2pUo4UgY). The words of this song convey the motivation of many of us who now speak for the voiceless ones whose story is seldom told. 

Soon I will be here no more
You'll hear my tale
Through my blood
Through my people
And the eagle's cry
The bear within will never lay to rest
Wandering on Horizon Road
Following the trail of tears.

Andrew Jackson, an icon in American history, began his road to glory in the Creek War, often a footnote of the larger war of which it was a part, the War of 1812. As the result of this war and the Treaty of Fort Jackson, 25,000,000 acres of land came into the hands of land agents and a flood of settlers claimed the lands of the Creek Indians. Yet, Article 9 of the Treaty of Ghent, an international treaty, provided that the United States would end hostilities with the Indians and would restore to the tribes “all the possessions, rights and privileges which they may have enjoyed or be entitled to in one thousand eight hundred and eleven previous to such hostilities.” Jackson claimed the Treaty of Fort Jackson took precedence over the international treaty and by the power of his personality and the reputation he had attained at the Battle of New Orleans he prevailed. 

The story of those Native Americans with whom he fought and left defeated and destitute was left untold in a nearly forgotten time and place in American history. “Remember Fort Mims” was once a rally cry as potent as “Remember the Maine” and “Remember the Alamo.” The names and stories of those who fought along side of Jackson are remembered and honored in genealogical societies throughout the nation, but only recently with the current popularity of finding ones roots has the silence been lifted and the shame of one’s Native American heritage become a thing of the past so that the rest of the story could be told. 

The ancestry of my fourth great grandmother was kept silent for years. Ironically, her husband, a friend of Jackson’s, was called to herd cattle in the Fort Mims area for the war he anticipated with Spain. Jackson came frequently to visit and ate at her table. It was discovering her Native American heritage that led to the writing of Swimming with Serpents set during the Creek War (Mercer University Press, 2012) and Nest of Vipers set against the backdrop of the First Seminole War (Mercer University Press, 2013). 

Who were these people who then became my people? Why did they fight that war? What happened to them once that war was over? Though my own ancestors prospered and integrated well into society, my grandmother’s first cousin Chief James Vann of the Cherokee Indians had his lands confiscated by the Georgians. That was the case where Andrew Jackson made his famous proclamation "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" In 1838, her kin were sent on the Trail of Tears. Her own family hid their heritage and it has taken six generations to rediscover it.

With the 2013 Conference being located in Florida, the location of Nest of Vipers, and the final resting place of many of those silent ones, this topic would certainly be relevant.

As in the song, I am one of that blood. My books have become a voice to speak out of the silence in an effort to be present in the past, casting off attitudes of bias and discrimination against a heritage long hidden. 

I am a newly published author and a new member of the Historical Novel Society. I appreciate your consideration.

Respectfully submitted,
Sharman Burson Ramsey

Monday, August 20, 2012

Creek Mary's Blood, Nightwish and John Two Hawks

I discovered the most beautiful music today. Nightwish performing "Creek Mary's Blood" with John Two Hawks is simply magnificent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=fvwp&v=MOE-PT1g12s

Creek Mary's Blood lyrics


Soon I will be here no more
You'll hear my tale
Through my blood
Through my people
And the eagle's cry
The bear within will never lay to rest

Wandering on Horizon Road
Following the trail of tears

White man came
Saw the blessed land
We cared, you took
You fought, we lost
Not the war but an unfair fight
Sceneries painted beautiful in blood

Wandering on Horizon Road
Following the trail of tears
Once we were here
Where we have lived since the world began
Since time itself gave us this land

Our souls will join again the wild
Our home in peace and war and death

Wandering on Horizon Road
Following the trail of tears
Once we were here
Where we have lived since the world began
Since time itself gave us this land

Wandering on Horizon Road
Following the trail of tears
Once we were here
Where we have lived since the world began
Since time itself gave us this land

[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/n/nightwish/creek_marys_blood.html ]
Hanhepi iyuha mi ihanbla hinni yelo
Òn sunkmanitutankapi hena,
Sunkawakanpi watogha hena,
Oblaye t' ankapi oihankesni hena
T' at' epi kin asni kiyasni he akatanhanpi iwankal
Oblaye t' anka kin
Osicesni mitakuyepi òn
Makoce kin wakan
WakanTanka kin òn
Miwicala ohinni - Hanhepi iyuha kici - Anpetu iyuha kici yelo
Mi yececa hehaka kin yelo, na ni yececa sunkmanitutankapi
Kin ka mikaga wowasaka isom
Uncinpi tuweni mitaku keyas ta k' u
Unwakupi e' cela e wiconi wanji unmakainapi ta yelo
Anpetu waste e wan olowan le talowan winyan ta yelo
Unwanagi pi lel e nita it' okab o ta ye
Untapi it' okab o' ta
Na e kte ena òn hanska ohakap
Ni itansni a' u nita ni ihanke yelo

("I still dream every night
Of them wolves, them mustangs,
Those endless prairies
The restless winds over mountaintops
The unspoilt frontier of my kith n'kin
The hallowd land of the
Great Spirit
I still believe
In every night
In every day
I am like the caribou
And you like the wolves that
Make me stronger

We never owed you anything
Our only debt is one life
For our Mother

It was a good day to chant this song
For Her
Our spirit was here long before you
Long before us
And long will it be after you
Pride brings you to your end")

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Listen to the YouTube clip of their performance and let your heart respond -- and remember. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Benediction and the M word

I went to the dermatologist in June and he zapped and sliced away. I left feeling relieved. By checking out the consequences of my many years in the sun, I had taken control of my health. And then what I thought was just the product of the zapping and slicing that was having a hard time healing  turned crusty and seemed to be getting bigger. It was the "crusty" word my husband used that sent me back to the dermatologist as a work-in. He said, "That's coming off. You did a good thing coming on back in."

Neither of us used the "M" word, but it loomed large there before us. When he patted me on the shoulder and said, "Sweet Sharman" in a voice too like a benediction for my comfort, I started hoping to see the light at Krispy Kreme flash HOT NOW. I needed a hot chocolate cream filled donut. Anyone who's got to face a long weekend to find out the results of a test like that deserves a hot chocolate glazed cream filled Krispy Kreme. It wasn't flashing when I passed on the way home.

When they diagnosed my Aunt Elizabeth with lung cancer that had metastasized to the bone they put her on a diet. I mean really! If there is ever a time not to diet, it is when you get bad news, I would think. As Erma Bombeck said, "Think of all those ladies on the Titanic that waved away the dessert tray!" 

Diet? That is the time that you ought to eat whatever your heart desires and you have denied yourself for your entire lifetime. Bring on the comfort food!

 All of us get those tests and then we must wait for what seems an eternity for the results. I am a half full person --except when it comes to medical tests. I always plan for the worst and then can experience relief when it is nothing. But, when it is something, I am prepared. 

I figure it doesn't hurt to give my will a bit of attention. 

I am struck with how easy it is to give advice to others when trouble strikes. Will I remember those words? This may not be THE TIME. But it is a trial run. Life is fleeting at its longest as every genealogist learns being awed by number and accomplishments of those who have come before.

Since the results will not be known until Monday, I have postponed calling ahead to find out the time for the HOT NOW light to next appear and therefore have NOT indulged in the aforesaid hot chocolate cream filled donut. I mean, I may get good news and the truth is there simply is not room enough in my stretch pants for me and a hot chocolate cream filled donut.

I could buy bigger pants.

It is funny the things you think about when the possibility of cancer looks you in the eye. You pray to have the courage to face whatever comes. You think about preparing those you love for life without you. You want to finish projects that may make a difference and give your life meaning. 

You talk to God in a more immediate way. He seems closer somehow. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I have been trying to find an old friend for several years now. She, Sue Cronkite (former editor of Wiregrass Today and fellow writer), her sister-in-law, Heather, and I went to New Orleans to a Romance Writers Conference at least twenty years ago. We all shared a room and had a wonderful time. Melodie Adams was already writing novels then mainly for Harlequin. She was one of the best writers I had ever known though many people look down their noses at Harlequin writers, those little books take a lot of skill to do well. Her characters came alive on the page and I was truly impressed with her skill. 

Melodie introduced to Bill Dailey, who, along with Janet Dailey, encouraged her and helped her along. We also met her agent, Rob Cohen, at that meeting. Heather, her sister-in-law was just getting into writing then. 

So, in the process of searching for Melodie, I discovered Heather Burch, definitely Melodie's sister-in-law because she mentions her in the dedication of a book online. Heather has gone prime time with a Christian book series for young adults that reminds on of the Twilight series. http://www.heatherburchbooks.com/

Some of you may have known Heather or Melodie while they were living in Dothan years ago. You will find Heather's books and her story interesting.

Monday, August 13, 2012

For Greater Glory

My husband and I went to see Andy Garcia's most recent movie, "For Greater Glory." It is hard to believe that the events upon which the movie is based, Mexico’s Cristero War (1926-29), took place less than one hundred years ago right on our nation's doorstep. What is even more incredible is how the motivations behind the actions of governments and people of that time can so easily be mirrored in our own times. 

As I watched this gripping drama of people having to defend their most sacred beliefs with their very lives, I could not help but wonder which of those characters best represents me. The main character in the novel is a young boy whose faith inspires the general who leads the Cristeros against the government forces determined to secularize society. The United States wants the support of the Mexican government for their petroleum interests and provides air support and machine guns to use against the determined Catholics. Images of followers of Christ strung up on poles along the railroad, priests shot for wearing their hassocks and performing the rites of their faith, and children being killed and tortured remain in one's memory long after the last scene of the movie. 

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it," wrote George Santayana.

I highly recommend this thought provoking movie.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Welcome to Panama City

I had the privilege of hosting a Welcome to Panama City party for my daughter-in-law Saturday along with dear friends Kristina Williams and Emmalyn Smith. Moving into a new town can be intimidating and with a new baby it is difficult to get out and make new friends.So, my friends and I put our heads together and invited some young women with children the age of Brittany and Drew's to help her get adjusted to her new home. 

Kristina, Crystal, Suzanne, Ashley, Cecily, Brittany and Pam


We greeted our guests with wine and punch, served chicken salad in a white shell dish, Emmalyn's apricot congealed salad, tomatoes, watermelon and canteloupe slices and Basketcase carrot and raisin muffins, and finished things off with Kristina's specialty -- strawberry cake. Although there were name tags on the table for the first course, we switched tables for dessert so that everyone would be with a different group for conversation. 

I happened to see Paula Deen make chicken salad the other day and so, inspired by her, I decided to make some also!
I bought 2 rotisserie chickens at Sams and chopped them up. Paula said she always broiled her chickens rather than boiled them because they were moister that way. I figured I could cheat a little and buy them already not only broiled, but rotisseried! I remembered a delicious chicken salad that I had once that was made with a combination of sour cream and mayonnaise which I mixed together and added a squirt of mustard and a squeeze of lemon juice. I halved grapes, chopped some Fuji apples, and toasted some pecans with butter and crushed them with a marble herb grinder and with some salt and pepper, mixed it all together. 

Kristina made this delicious Strawberry cake:


  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
  • 1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Strawberry cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
  • Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
  • 1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
  • 7 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
For the frosting:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the strawberry extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.
Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.
Miss Lily is our oldest grandchild and our fashion goddess. 

Sam, our youngest grandchild, is with Donna, his OTHER grandmother, and Alison, Kristina's mother and my new friend.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Red Letter Day

Today was a red letter day in my life. The Cultural Arts Center will be hosting the Book Launch for Swimming with Serpents. I had the most wonderful visit with Ann Cotton, the Director for this exceptional organization in our community. Jennifer Ayers, event planner extraordinaire, will be preparing hors d'oeuvres and wine will be available as well as a good old Baptist punch. 

There is an intimate room that will seat 100 with a stage, a super sound system and lighting.  Think black and white checkered floor, floor to ceiling windows, and chandeliers. Very chic. 

Be passionate about what you do, I have heard. And I am truly passionate about the story of these people and this time in our past. They are a forgotten people and it is a time most would rather slide over. But "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Thursday, August 9, 2012


The drive to Furman, Alabama, always fills me with melancholy. My father was born there and we returned there with him frequently. With the death of our parents came the division of their property. We drove to Furman to discuss the management of the property I inherited. 

Palmer Barlow Bristow House
My parents have joined the host of other descendants of my 3rd Great Grandfather and Grandmother, Stephen and Juliet Hartwell Palmer in Palmer Cemetery. They married in Virginia in 1820 and in 1829 they buried their daughter, Juliet, in the garden that became the family cemetery. They had left all they had known to move to the rich lands newly taken from the Creek Indians that those returning from the Creek War and the War of 1812 reported seeing.

I ride past what we called "The Big House" and recall sitting on that front porch on the bentwood settee drinking ice-filled Coca Colas after a feast in the damask curtained dining room around the mahogany table set with my grandmother's gold rimmed Limoges china and etched crystal glasses. It was only years later that I realized the house was the dream of the young doctor, my grandfather, who had raised his family in the modest house across the county road. They live again in my memory as I imagine Nanny and Papa laughing and talking, so proud of the son that soon would get his family back into the car to head back down the road past the Palmer Cemetery to Pine Apple and then to Greenville and back home to Dothan, Alabama.

Dr. Elkanah George Burson, Sr.
We pass the cross roads and into the ghost town that was once a bustling town with six doctors. I remember my grandfather standing in his office with the rows of medicine behind him that he had to mix up for his patients. The forester with whom we spoke said his father used to laugh about watching Dr. Burson pour Kool Aid into his bottles of medicine. "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down," I said, also laughing and imagining. 

The images of people on the wooden sidewalk  and the old men sitting on the white wooden bench in front of his office, my trip across the street with coins in my hand for the candy I would buy in the general store across the street, my father reminiscing about sitting in a tent watching  pictures move upon the wall of the general store while someone played a piano to accompany the pictures flash through my mind. None of those buildings remain. Nature has reclaimed the land.

Now it is my turn to be the one making memories for the grandchild sitting in the backseat of our car. I look at that precious little girl and wonder what she will remember of what I tell her. I try to draw those images for her with words that are inadequate for the love that I knew in my grandmother's embrace, the pride I felt for the grandfather in that office, the security I knew with my small hand grasped by my tall, handsome father as he led me across the street to that general store telling me about the movie he had seen, the utter contentment I knew held in my mother's arms as we took that ride back home.

She'll remember this forever, the forester said looking back at her as she rode in the bed of the utility vehicle with a big smile on her face as we maneuvered the rugged roads to assess the land and timber. I realize this trip is about more than land and trees, it has become a pilgrimage to the past for the passing of memories to the ones who will come when we are gone.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Making a Difference

"You got me interested in history and in writing at Houston Academy, so I took lots of writing classes and history classes at UCSD and National University. As a result, I learned to enjoy reading. Great teachers are so important to kids, because they have a tremendous influence on who we become as adults."

"I'm extremely proud of my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Sharman Burson Ramsey, who has written a book that will be available for purchase later this year. One of the first books that I read in her class was W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human
Bondage." She allowed me to be inquisitive, and she exposed me to a world outside of Henry County, Alabama. Thanks, Mrs. Ramsey, for pushing me beyond what I could see. I look forward to reading your bestseller!"
"She was amazing! I found an invitation just the other day to a tea she gave the 8th grade girls at her home. She really did teach "outside the box".
It is accolades like this that have popped up onto my Facebook Page that have made me realize that I could not be prouder of any book that I have written than I am of these students. It is the dream of a teacher to make a difference in the life of a child. Teaching is a calling, an honorable profession the definition of which is most skillfully articulated by the Australian Council of Professions:
'A disciplined group of individuals who adhere to high ethical standards and uphold themselves to, and are accepted by, the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised, organised body of learning derived from education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to exercise this knowledge and these skills in the interest of others. 
Inherent in this definition is the concept that the responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community shall take precedence over other considerations.' 
In other words, those in a profession are motivated by their responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community over money. It is a calling. The measure of the teacher, preacher, doctor is not in the amount of money they make but in the difference they make in the lives they touch.

Cassandra King and Janis Owens have honored me with words of praise for my novels. I hope the novels are successful. But, the words of these students are my Nobel Prize.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Knock Knock and Quick Books

Let me see, have there been any deep thoughts today? Janis Owens admitted that she came up blank on Facebook. I suggested Knock, Knock jokes that would make us look cool with our granddaughters, both named Lily. Hers is Lily Pickle and mine is Lily Butterworth. Unfortunately, I do not KNOW any Knock, Knock jokes. But, with names like that we should have a best selling children's series, I would think.

I went to a website with Knock Knock jokes and found this one. I think it's my favorite
Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Butch who?
Butch your little arms around me!
Update as to the Business of writing:
We bought a new computer on which to install Quick Books. I chose Quick Books because
1. It will create invoices
2. It will create receipts
3. It can figure taxes for different districts
Jan Owens on the website Winepress on Words http://www.winepressofwords.com/2011/03/how-to-collect-sales-tax-at-events/ writes:
"Most states require that you only collect sales tax when the book sale is within your state. You are not required to collect sales tax if you sell books at a conference or speaking engagement in another state. You still must keep track of your sales and report them, but you will receive an exemption from the sales tax."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I talked today with a delightful independent bookstore owner in Sarasota, Florida. Elsie is the events manager and though she is from the North, using Anne of Green Gables term, she is a "kindred spirit." What wonderful surprise it is when you stumble upon folks like that! The world may seem to be filled with strangers, but I discover more and more that the world is filled with friends I just haven't met yet. 

So, why am I interested in Independent Bookstores? I think the owner of Bookstore 1 (http://www.bookstore1sarasota.com/Home.html), Georgia Court, said it best when she wrote about why she opened Bookstore 1 when Sarasota's last independent bookstore closed:

"When Sarasota News & Books closed I mourned its passing and knew there was a big, empty crack where literature should have been shining through (my apologies to Leonard Cohen for messing up his lyric).  I complained about it to anyone who would listen. Then, after a couple of months, I realized if it meant so much to me, I should do something about it. 

Fortunately, circumstances aligned to allow me to quickly create a new bookstore on Main Street. A wonderful storefront happened to be available at 1359 Main. David Chaplin, who had been the soul of Sarasota News & Books, agreed to come on as manager. And he pulled together a fabulous team to get the bookstore up and running."

I know many  of my Dothan, Alabama, friends feel the same way about the Book and Art Shop where we all used to buy our school supplies. It was such a warm, welcoming place, a place I always felt at home because it was where all of my friends were -- books. 

In addition to that, independent bookstores are the most receptive to welcoming writers. 

Hopefully, I will one day get to visit with Elsie at Bookstore I. Sarasota is a place I am looking forward to visiting. I hope I can find someone who knows about the history of Angola. I'm going to be visiting there in a future book in the Serpents Series. 

     So.....why open a bookstore now? Because we couldn't wait for later. We need real books and real authors in our town as sure as we need sunshine and afternoon rain.

With sincerity and with thanks to our wonderful patrons,
Georgia Court
Owner, Bookstore1Sarasota