A Stop by the (First) Washington Monument

A few days ago, my family and I stopped by Maryland’s own Washington Monument–the first such structure erected to honor George Washington. In 1859, John Brown’s son Owen, fleeing with others after the raid at Harpers Ferry, stopped by the monument as well. In an interview by Ralph Keeler published in the March 1874 of …

A Stop by the (First) Washington Monument Read More »

Why Isabelle d’Angoulême is hard to love: Guest Post by Sharon Bennett Connolly

I’m delighted to welcome Sharon Bennett Connolly back to my blog! I’ve known Sharon since her blogging days, and was delighted when she began to publish her biographies of historical women, including her brand-new one, Ladies of Magna Carta. Today’s woman, Isabelle of Angoulême, is one who’s long intrigued me. Over to Sharon! At first …

Why Isabelle d’Angoulême is hard to love: Guest Post by Sharon Bennett Connolly Read More »

The Sister Who Dated Lincoln First: Frances Todd Wallace

In the 1830s, Miss Frances Todd, living with her married sister Elizabeth Edwards in Springfield, Illinois, went out once or twice with one of the town’s up-and-coming lawyers, but found him to be insufficiently social, so the relationship, if it ever amounted to that, fizzled out. Fortunately, Frances’s younger sister, Mary, was more impressed with …

The Sister Who Dated Lincoln First: Frances Todd Wallace Read More »

The Other Henry and Clara

(Originally published in The Surratt Courier, a publication of the Surratt Society) Among its other consequences, Abraham Lincoln’s assassination would upend the lives of not one, but two young couples named Henry and Clara. The first—Henry Rathbone and his stepsister/fiancée, Clara Harris—are well known; the second, Henry Ritter and his new bride, Clara Pix, are …

The Other Henry and Clara Read More »

The First Lady and the Rebel: An Outtake

Like most novels, The First Lady and the Rebel underwent revisions on its path to publication (look for it on October 1!). This is the epilogue in the first draft. It was replaced by one that I felt was more in keeping with the focus of the novel: the relationship between the two Todd sisters …

The First Lady and the Rebel: An Outtake Read More »

Life Goes On

I bought this 1862 letter mainly because of the patriotic letterhead, which depicts Elmer E. Ellsworth, an early casualty of the Civil War, shot while he was exiting the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria after removing a Confederate flag from its roof. As the transcript shows, however, it’s a nice reminder of how ordinary life …

Life Goes On Read More »

Benjamin Hardin Helm’s Last Will and Testament

As long-term readers of this blog will know, I’m fond of wills, and I was pleased to find that one major character in The First Lady and the Rebel, Emily Todd Helm’s husband Benjamin Hardin Helm, left one behind. (Abraham Lincoln, married to Emily’s sister Mary, died intestate.) A graduate of West Point, Hardin, as …

Benjamin Hardin Helm’s Last Will and Testament Read More »

A Memorial Day Tribute to Charles P. Tidd and Carrie Cutter

This Memorial Day, I’m remembering, Sgt. Charles P. Tidd, and his friend and nurse, Carrie Cutter, both of whom died in service to their country. Tidd, one of John Brown’s raiders, evaded capture after the raid. After the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry under the assumed name of Charles …

A Memorial Day Tribute to Charles P. Tidd and Carrie Cutter Read More »

Scroll to Top