Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Congress admits Nevada as the 36th state 1864

With a population 20,000 less than the normal 60,000 required for statehood, Congress nevertheless admitted Nevada as the 36th state in the Union. They wanted the votes. President Lincoln's reelection apparently hinged on the support of the Republican-dominated Nevada Territory. Basically, on 40,000 people, who couldn't all vote.

Never let it be said that Congress doesn't know a gold mine when it sees one. Or in Nevada's case, the 1859 discovery of the incredibly large and rich silver deposits at Virginia City.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Gettysburg Ghost Stories

Happy Halloween!
Since the town and battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania both figure prominently in both my novel, Under the Guns, and my work in progress, Erin's Rebel, I thought I'd do a blog for Halloween on some of the spooky stories told about the area.
I've visited Gettysburg many times both as a Civil War reenactor and on family vacations and have gotten my share of goosebumps listening to the ghost stories that abound in that town and surrounding countryside, where so many lost their lives in 1863.
Thought I'd pass along a few links on haunted Gettysburg you can check out for yourself.

Second War of Schleswig (the Danish-Prussian War) 1864

While we fought our 'Great Civil War' (Abe Lincoln) , the second military conflict over Schleswig-Holstein succession question was being fought in Europe. It pitted Prussia and Austria against Denmark, who long controlled the two duchies. The disputes was against the Danish king who died without an acceptable heir. Acceptable to the German Confederation. And then there was the passing of a joint Danish/Schleswig constitution, which didn’t go over very well, either. German won, and in Denmark ceded control of both duchies.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Victorian Shopping - Macy’s opens 1858

After a string of seven business failures, Roland Macy finally hit the jackpot in 1858 when he founded his own department store, named R.H. Macy's & Co. The New York City store, located at 204-206 6th Ave and 14th street was a ‘fancy dry goods store’ and packed with a variety of useful products. It was an immediate success. Today, Macy's is the biggest department store in the world. The red Macy’s star apparently came from one tattooed on Mr. Macy’s arm (a tribute to the star that guided him when he was lost at sea).


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Shoot-out at the OK Corral 1881

After years of feuding and mounting tensions, on this day in 1881, the “law and order” Earps and the “cowboy” Clanton-McLaurys engage in their world-famous shoot-out near the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, leaving three men dead and three more wounded.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Charge of the Light Brigade 1854

Lord James Cardigan led a charge of the Light Brigade Cavalry against well-defended Russian artillery during the Crimean War at the Battle of Balaclava. The British were actually winning when Cardigan received orders to attack. His cavalry gallantly charged down the valley and were decimated. They suffered 40% casualties. Later, it was learned that the order was the result of confusion and not given intentionally. Lord Cardigan survived the battle, and was hailed as a national hero in Britain.

Poem: http://poetry.eserver.org/light-brigade.html
Movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027438/


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

First Barrel Ride Down Niagara Falls 1901

Annie Edson Taylor, 63, was the first to take the plunge. While not the first person over the falls (and who knows how many were tossed over them against their will) she was the first to do it in a barrel. Poor and seeking fame and fortune, the Civil War widow and 2 assistants strapped herself into a barrel 5 feet high and 3 feet around. Leather straps and cushions lined the barrel to protect her. However, her 15 minutes of fame lasted only about that and there was no fortune for Annie. She spent the rest of her life working as a street vendor in Niagara Falls, and died there in 1921.


Monday, October 23, 2006

NYSE seats up for sale: 1869

The New York Stock Exchange put memberships up for sale for the first time in its 77-year history. They sold for $8000 (over $100,000 now). Today? Try $800,000.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Victorians Hosted State Balls and Informal Balls

Victorians were trendy. Their entertainments reflected their awareness of trends, and their societal need to keep apace.

Napoleon III ran his Imperial Court with a flare unseen for decades on the Continent. Off-the-Continent, the Imperial Courts in the Americas were following suit. In particular, because Napoleon III sponsored the Mexican Imperials of the Second Empire - the Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota - that court particularly complied with protocal.

Two types of grand balls were accounted for during the Victorian era; State Balls and a casual tradition that was dubbed "Empress' Mondays". Victorian era authors may find it useful to include either style of ball to suit their authorial machinations. They differed in some of the following manners:

State Balls
* were very grandiose
*sovereign hosts arrived by 9:30 p.m. as witnessed by a large audience of attendees
* held in ballrooms
* said hosts retired early for the night, by midnight
* balls often continued until 4 a.m.
* full orchestras played throughout the night
* all attendees wore ascribed court dress such as that worn by the lady-in-waiting displayed top right, Dona Sanchez-Navarre of the Mexican Imperial Court; essentially all women wore the same gown and all men wore the same court uniform or a military uniform with full decoration
* protocol was strict and ceremony was relied upon
* etiquette was strict
* public scrutiny was always of concern
* guest lists were a matter of politics
* visits of state dignitaries precedented state balls and determined when the ball was held
* displays of the latest technology were part of the entertainment, often part of the decor
* lighting at state balls was dimmed to enhance the display of attendee’s jewels
* physical appearances and beauty were irrelevant; the purpose of attending was political gain

Empress’s Mondays
* were less grandiose
*sovereign hosts started off the affaires around 10 p.m.
* held in Salons
* hosts remained at the ball throughout the night
* balls often ended by 2 a.m.
* partial orchestras played periodically, often hidden in the patios or gardens
* attendees wore trendy or traditional attire, often verging on a masquerade ball
* protocol was less strict and ceremony relaxed
* etiquette was relaxed
* balls were not available for public perusal
* guest lists were comprised of local Society, usually outside political arenas
* balls were warm and intimate, and held regularly on Monday nights
* d├ęcor was limited to the elegantly decorated Salons, and guests roamed the grounds
* lighting was normal
* guests might be invited simply for their charm or beauty

By Kristin-Marie

The World is Ending!

In 1844, Millerites, followers of William Miller (once a Baptist), believed that the end of the world, in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ, was about to happen. They calledOctober 22 The Great Anticipation. October 23 became known as The Great Disappointment. Clearly it didn’t happen.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Victorian Women in Medicine

The medical profession of the 19th century didn't readily accept women into their ranks. The first school for nurses wasn't even established until after the Civil War.
Although women physicians were scarce in this era, they were not unheard of. Elizabeth Blackwell, born in 1821, was the first American woman to gain entrance to medical school. She was only admitted when her fellow classmates jokingly voted to accept her. http://www.mommd.com/lookingback.shtml
After her admittance, other women followed, including her sister, Emily, Maria Zakrzewska, Mary Putnam Jacobi and Ann Preston. Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania opened in 1850. This and other institutions of the time, including New York Medical College and Hospital for Women, devoted themselves to the education of women in the medical field. http://homeoint.org/cazalet/histo/newyork.htm
It wasn't an easy road for women who sought to become doctors. In 1874, Edward H. Clarke wrote that women who earned an advanced education would develop "monstrous brains and puny bodies . . . [and] abnormally weak digestion." http://www.mommd.com/lookingback.shtml
In 1891, Mary Putman Jacobi wrote, "It is perfectly evident from the records, that the opposition to women physicians has rarely been based upon any sincere conviction that women could not be instructed in medicine, but upon an intense dislike to the idea that they should be so capable." http://www.mommd.com/lookingback.shtml
Women of the Victorian era had to work long and hard to be the very best in their class to overcome prejudices and establish their place in the world of medicine.

The Lady with the Lamp

In 1854, Florence Nightingale and a staff of 38 women volunteer nurses, trained by Nightingale and including her aunt, Mai Smith, went to the Crimean. Sidney Herbert (Secretary at War 1845–1846 and 1852–1854) authorized the expidation. The nurses landed some 545 km across the Black Sea from Balaklava, where the main British camp was based.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Bela Lugosi born 1882

Born in Hungry, Lugosi established himself as a successful actor before immigrating to the US in 1921. He was a great success onstage in 1927, playing Dracula in the Broadway play, Dracula, and reprised the role in the 1931 film. Lugosi spent the next 20 years starring in horror films. He died August 16, 1956 and was buried with his Dracula cape.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Times change

A lot of things have got me thinking about how times have changed. In the last thirty years the way we do things has changed almost beyond recognition. Or at least, that’s what I thought at first.

On second glance, we don’t know the meaning of change. We still drive cars filled with gasoline to our homes in the suburbs. While we did send a man to the moon, that was in 1969–thirty SEVEN years ago. We haven’t sent anybody to explore a new terrestrial body since. We still cook with the same stoves (the first home microwave oven came out in 1952!) We still use the same power supplies we’ve been using for over a century. Really, the only thing at all different is our communications. Personal computers, the internet and cell phones may have changed how we do some things, but for the most part our lives remain the same.

Now lets take a look at the early Victorian era. These people had to deal with CHANGE. From 1838 to1868, the world turned upside down. A good horse, a stiffened sail and some heavy shoe leather suddenly had competition to fill our transportation needs. Railroads began to span the distances, and if you couldn’t go by train, chances are a steamship would move you in the right direction. People began to travel, and more and more often families were separated by many miles. But that was okay; we could communicate via telegraph!

If we forgot what our loved ones looked like, they could send us a daguerreotype photograph. If we wanted to tell the entire village something, we could put an article in the newspapers that sprung up once the rotary printing press was invented.

Our homes could be built with reinforced concrete, and we could even safeguard them with the invention of the cylinder lock.

Imagine how life changed with the steel plow, the refrigerating machine, and condensed milk. Now add pasteurization, the hypodermic syringe, and antiseptic surgery. If your brain wasn’t swimming by this point, you could take your first elevator ride.

But while these new inventions touched on almost every aspect of our daily lives, one change was bigger than all the rest. Charles Darwin published the Zoology of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle in 1838, then came out with The Origin of Species in 1859.

Even if you didn’t believe his ridiculous "Theory of Evolution" nonsense, you now had to THINK about it. Not even Galileo had so many people THINKING about the world they lived in. Life would never be the same.

(On the other hand, did I just read we've invented an invisibility cloaking device?)

Construction begins on the Sutro Tunnel in Virginia City, Nevada

In 1869, Prussian-born mining engineer, Adolph Sutro, began work on four-mile-long tunnel through the solid rock of the Comstock Lode. Miners sank shafts deeper and deeper into the rock in search of more silver and gold. The further into the Earth they mined, the more water they encountered. This had to be pumped to the surface at great expense.

Enter Adolph Sutro. With his nifty invention of horizontal drainage, mine water would drain through a tunnel, minus expensive pumps. Handily, these tunnels could also be used to move men and ore in and out, greatly reducing transportation costs.

Everyone agreed the tunnel would be a boon to the Comstock. But they worried that Sutro would use his tunnel to take control of the entire Lode, and progress was continually slowed because of that fear. It was only by securing European capital that Sutro able to complete the $5 million project in 1878.

Every bit as successful as promised, Sutro’s tunnel drained two million gallons of water per year, and greatly reduced transportation costs. Alas, by 1878, the richer sections of the Comstock Lode had been tapped out, and profitability declined. Sutro, however, sold his tunnel in 1879 at a extraordinary profit, and moved to San Francisco where he became one of the city's largest landowners and mayor from 1894 to 1896.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuberculosis, the Victorian Scourge

The Victorian era was a time of great advances in medicine. But like in earlier centuries, people did die regularly of disease--cholera, influenza, measles etc. The one I find most fascinating is tuberculosis, or consumption as they called it back then.


Well for one thing, it was the leading cause of death in the U.S. in the 19th century. From the beginning of the century thru 1870, it was the cause of 1 in 5 deaths, or 20%! Compare that with the "scourge" of the late 20th century, AIDS, which is does not even hit the top 5 causes of death in the U.S. http://library.thinkquest.org/16665/causes.htm

Like those infected with AIDS, though, victims of tuberculosis could live a very long time. It was a wasting disease (thus the 19th century term consumption), its sufferers not dying within days or weeks, but living with attacks and remissions that could last for years or decades. It allowed those infected to get married, have children, and pass the disease on to them. Families, therefore, could suffer from the infection for 2 or even 3 generations, passing it from parent/grandparent to children. In fact, for much of the century, the physicians thought the disease was hereditary, not contagious. They believed that families had a predisposition to the illness.

We now know, of course, that tuberculosis is contagious, transmitted through the air. Why didn't people understand that back then, when it was considered likely with other illnesses, such as colds and influenza? I suspect that's because first and foremost, having the TB bacteria doesn't necessarily mean you will develop the disease. In fact, only 5-10% of the people who have the bacteria ever develop the disease. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/

Secondly, unlike diseases such as influenza or cholera, it can takes years to develop tuberculosis. You may have been exposed to it by a train passenger in 1850 and not develop symptoms for until 1855. Who could say, then, where you got the disease?http://www.concordma.com/magazine/winter03/tuberculosis.html


The majority of this information came from Living in the Shadow of Death, Tuberculosis and the social Experience of Illness in American History by Sheila M. Rothman

America buys Alaska from Russians for US$7,200,000 1867

Larger in area than all but 18 of the world's nations, Alaska is derived from the Aleut Alyeska, meaning "great country", "mainland" or "great land". During the 18th century, Spaniards explored the coast and settled there – Cordova and Valdez.

U.S. Secretary of State William Seward (Seward’s Folly), urged the US to buy it, and while the transaction was completed on April 2, it wasn’t until October 18 that the hand over was completed. Or, if you go by the Julian calendar, Saturday, October 7, 1867 in Russia. Take your pick. That wasn’t the only problem Alaska had that day:

“Russia still used the Julian Calendar in 1867, and the world had not yet been divided into standard time zones; thus, there was no international date line, and the day began in the morning instead of starting at midnight. So, while the American day now ends with sunset in western Alaska, the Russian day then started with sunrise in "eastern" Alaska. Thus, Friday, October 6, 1867, the day before the physical transfer of ownership, was followed by Friday, October 18, 1867—which was Saturday, October 7, 1867 in Russia. The change in date was due to America bringing the Gregorian Calendar to Alaska, while the lack of change in day resulted from Alaska's shift from being the starting point of the Russian day to being the ending point of the American day.”

Get all that?


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Rose by any Other Name...

Have you ever received a rejection that included the words “not what we’re looking for at this time?” A rejection just can’t get more vague than that. You’ve done your homework, you’ve studied your craft, your critique partners loved the story and characters– so what does “not what we’re looking for” really mean? If only editors could take the time to explain themselves rather than just hand out form letter rejections.

And have you ever wished there was a publisher who actually wanted those stories that the others “aren’t looking for?” Maybe you have a story that’s a bit quirky, one that’s set in an era that isn’t selling well at this time, or maybe it features the old no-no of athletes or rock stars as heroes or heroines.

Meet The Wild Rose Press, a new and exciting small electronic and print publisher. Our titles span the sub-genre spectrum from sweet to sensually erotic and are available in all lengths including short story, novella, category and single title.

At The Wild Rose Press, where I am senior editor over the historical lines, we like to say “we help writers grow”. Not only are our editors willing to work with an author if they like the story or the characters, but we welcome those works that the bigger houses don’t want. Certainly that isn’t to say we publish works that are unpublishable because of poor writing skills or lack of an actual story, but we do enjoy finding new and different ideas. And we never hand out “form” rejections; each editor makes every effort to let the writer know what did and didn’t work for her. Most of us even take the time to include helpful suggestions in our rejection letters. Best of all, we have an entire “greenhouse” on our site full of articles on the nuts and bolts of writing to help writers at all levels of their career, from the beginner to the polished professional.

Each month offers new articles, interviews with authors and editors and lots and lots of new releases. I hope you’ll stop by our garden at www.thewildrosepress.com and visit us soon!

The Open Championship was first played on October 17, 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club

The inaugural tournament (commonly known as the British Open) was restricted to professionals. Those original eight played three rounds of the twelve-hole course in a one day. Willie Park Senior won with 174, beating favourite Old Tom Morris, by two strokes. Poor Willie won no money. In 1861, the tournament was opened to amateurs – eight joined the ten professionals.

It was only in 1863 that a purse was awarded - £10 or about $50 at the time. However, the winner didn’t even get to keep the money! It was shared between the second, third, and fourth placed professionals. The Champ got to keep the belt for a year. In 1864, Old Tom Morris won the first Champion's cash prize of £6 (today it’s about $11). Today? £720,000 or $1,335,753.82.


Monday, October 16, 2006

First residential college for women in England est. 1869.

The College for Women, was located at Benslow House, Hitchin, in Hertfordshire, England. Relocated northwest of the centre of Cambridge, next to the village of Girton it became Girton College in 1872. The first students were called The Pioneers. Girton enjoys the rare distinction of having a song written by Gilbert & Sullivan named after the College: “Oh, maiden rich in Girton lore.” (Utopia ,Limited 1893). Their motto is: "Better is wisdom than weapons of war"


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chiricahua Apache leader Victorio is killed Tres Castillos Mountains south of El Paso, Texas 1880

Determined to resist the loss of his homeland, Victorio began leading his small band of warriors on a long series of devastating raids against Mexican and American settlers and their communities in the 1850s. Finally, in 1869, the U.S. Army convinced Victorio to accept resettlement on an inhospitable patch of sunburnt land near San Carlos, Arizona, also known as Hell's Forty Acres.

Farming nearly impossible, and the conditions were deplorable. So Victorio decided this new reservation was unacceptable and moved his followers to more pleasant grounds at Ojo Caliente (Warm Springs). Unfortunately, this made him once again an outlaw in the eyes of the U. S.

In 1880, a combined force of U.S. and Mexican troops finally succeeded in tracking him down, surrounding them in the Tres Castillos Mountains. The Mexican soldiers sent the Americans away, and proceeded to kill all but 17 of the trapped Apaches. The exact manner of Victorio's death remains unclear. Some claimed an Indian scout employed by the Mexican army killed him. According to the Apache, Victorio took his own life rather than surrender to the hated Mexicans. Regardless, Victorio's death made him a martyr to the Apache people and strengthened the resolve of other warriors to continue the fight. The last of the great Apache warriors, Geronimo, would not surrender until 1886.

Victorio's sister was the famous woman warrior Lozen, Dexterous Horse Thief.

The character of Sierra Charriba, in Sam Peckinpah's film Major Dundee (1965), played by Michael Pate, was based off of Victorio.


New Victorian Era Saint

Hot off the press, a Victorian era nun is sainted...


Friday, October 06, 2006

Civil War Nurses

In both my young adult novel, Under the Guns, and my current work-in-progress, a time travel romance set during the Civil War, Erin's Rebel, my heroines assume the duties of nurses both on the battlefield and, in the former, a Washington hospital.
At the time of the Civil War, nursing as a profession didn't exist for women. The armies used soldiers, appointed to serve as nurses for their fellow soldiers. It wasn't until the war escalated that women, who wanted to help the war effort of their respective sides, left their homes to nurse the wounded. Women living in towns near where battles were fought volunteered their homes and their nursing abilities. Also laundresses and cooks, already with the armies, were often pressed into service as nurses as needed after a battle.
These nurses had no formal training. Most used the skills they'd obtained caring for family members. Many were married, middle-aged women who either had husbands, sons or both serving in the army.
Sophronia Bucklin was a unusual nurse because she was single and very young at the time she served. She was born in 1846, so would have been only about 15 or 16 when the war started. After the war, she wrote a book of her experiences, In Hospital and Camp, published in 1869.
In a quote from that book: "Could I ever suppress the shuddering that passed over me, as I entered the low wooden house, in which on rude benches lay the cold white corpses of three men? Miss Clark uncovered the face of the man who died last, and told me this story--of the wife and three children in the far West, who were yet to know how it had gone with their soldier. He was wounded in the second battle of Bull Run, and had been under her care for ten days.
"A cloth saturated with blood lay over a bench, and I was wrought upon by sadness of the scene, and the echoing of many groans coming from the wards, that I only desired to hasten away from the dreadful place, and forget that it was man against his brother man, who was causing this awful destruction."
Bucklin, Sophronia E. In Hospital and Camp. Philadelphia: John E. Potter and Company, 1869.
In Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches, she relates: "I am free to confess that I had a realizing sense of the fact that my hospital bed was not a bed of roses just then, or the prospect before me one of unmingled raptures. My three days' experiences had begun with a death, and, owing to the defalcation of another nurse, a somewhat abrupt plunge into the superintendence of a ward containing forty beds, where I spent my shining hours washing faces, serving rations, giving medicine, and sitting in a very hard chair, with pneumonia on one side, diphtheria on the other, two typhoids opposite, and a dozen dilapidated patients, hopping, lying, and lounging about, all staring more or less at the new "nuss", who suffered untold agonies, but concealed them under as matronly an aspect as a spinster could assume, and blundered through her trying labors with a Spartan firmness, which I hope they appreciated, but am afraid they didn't."
Alcott, Louisa May. Hospital Sketches. Boston: James Redpath Publishers, 1863.
Adelaide W. Smith was a independent volunteer who offered her services to help in the hospitals. In her book about her experiences, she wrote this dedication.
"To the Boys in Blue 1861-1865; and to those brave women, who, with smiling faces and breaking hearts, sent them forth to save their country and their homes, while they themselves toiled in fields and elsewhere, waiting to welcome home too many who never returned; and to that band of heroic devoted women, many of whom left luxurious homes for the discomforts and privations of hospital life, and died, self-sacrificing patriots of the war, this true story is affectionately dedicated. Adelaide W. Smith."
Smith, Adelaide W. Reminiscences of an Army Nurse during the Civil War. New York: Greaves Publishing Company, 1911.
Source: In Hospital and Camp: The Civil War Through the Eyes of It's Doctors and Nurses by Harold Elk Straubing: Stackpole Books; copyright 1993 ISBN:0-8117-1631-7
Links with more information: http://www.dtsk8.org/6_8/8/Civil%20War%20Webpage-RS/northernnurses.html