Camp Chase Soldier Statue Toppled

Is it is surreal that I wrote a story about a Confederate soldier released from Columbus, Ohio’s Camp Chase prison camp given current events. I learned just now on Facebook that the cemetery I visited back in June, with mixed feelings I might add, had its soldier statue toppled.

What’s ironic about the Camp Chase cemetery and the existence of this statue at all is that it was raised by Union officer William H. Knauss, who led the first memorial and later wrote a book about the prison. His intent was to honor these Confederate prison fatalities as Americans, not Confederates, as labeled on the arch. Since Columbus has the largest Confederate cemetery outside of the former Confederate States of America, one might take a cynical view to Knauss’s efforts.

Was he just trying to make money? Did he want the fame and glory of a book tour? It doesn’t seem like it… he raised money to renovate the cemetery, to put walls around it, and to invite those with Union and Confederate leanings to remember that which made the United States a singular rather than plural noun.

That said, glorifying a piece of the past is quite dangerous. If there are statues depicting Confederate officers, then there should also be statues depicting the slavery they fought to protect. And not the minstrel song and dance slaves, but those which depict liberation. If the point is to “remember our history,” then let’s remember history holistically.

It’s a semantic quibble to argue whether the American Civil War was about slavery or states’ rights. The Confederate government went to war with the Federal government for their right to determine whether slavery was legal or not, which does, in essence, make the war about slavery.

Lest we forget, a number of the statues toppled so far were built during the heydey of Jim Crow laws and the anti-Civil Rights era to act as reminders that people died to keep slavery around, and that there are generations of families who might, if pushed, do so again.

It is time we reevaluate how we pay homage and how we hope future generations interpret such symbols of homage.

Cover Art Boards!

Today I received concept boards for The Last April and I’m so excited. I posted a blurry photo on Instagram, but here you can see breaks about how my cover artist takes my submission details and finds elements to tease out what the final concept should trend to. I used Seedlings for the Haunting Miss Trentwood rebranded and used her work to inspire a DIY rebrand of Catching the Rose to fit in with whatever she comes up with for The Last April.

This is getting real you guys! Book launch party April 15th! Looking up blog hop contests for April and May to really get the word out there, along with some Goodreads contests.

Echoes in Time: Who Killed Lincoln? Review

ohioHistoryConnection2Last Saturday (April 3) I went to my first ever Echoes in Time theatre at the Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society). This event is new to me, but according to the coordinator Mike Follin, it has been running for about six years. That’s six years of me missing out, you guys.

The topic for this talk was “Who Really Killed Lincoln?” which of course piqued my interest given my work-in-progress. I had to ask, why were they asking who killed Lincoln, don’t we know this for sure? Well, yes, and so we learned from Mike who played the “investigator.”

The Echoes in Time Set Up

echoesInTimeApril2015This particular Echoes in Time theatre started with the room set up to look like an 1800s personal study. Our seats were stadium style in the other half of the room, probably enough to hold 30 or 40 people. I made sure to pick a spot near the aisle and under a light, since I figured I’d be taking copious notes (I did) and didn’t want to distract anyone (pretty sure I didn’t). The audience was a range of ages, mainly on the elderly side, but there was one family with school-age children. I was the only young professional, as it were.

Once we were seated, an Ohio History Connection rep came to welcome us, thank us for attending, and mention the topics coming up for the theatre. There’s going to be a talk about the Reconstruction era in June, which is already on my calendar.

After that, our investigator shuffled into the room and was surprised to see he had an audience. He accused us of sneaking into his office, which elicited chuckles. Then he realized his opportunity, and he announced that since he had our captive attention, he was going to chat about the conspiracy theories, which is exactly what we wanted.

The Conspiracy Theories

The question, therefore, was not, “who pulled the trigger?” Come on, we all know that was John Wilkes Booth. The question instead was, “Who put John Wilkes Booth up to pulling the trigger?” That, of course, is a far more interesting question. Was Booth the mastermind we’d all like to believe? Was Booth a cog in the wheel? We learned there are five major popular theories about Booth’s participation, listed below:

  1. Grand theory
    The Confederate government hired Booth to kidnap Lincoln to force negotiations to end the war. When the war ended, the plan turned to assassination.
  2. Simple theory
    Booth was a Confederate patriot and racist who meant to kidnap Lincoln, not kill him. When kidnapping plans fell through because the war had ended, he turned to revenge and shot Lincoln. Using his acting prowess (he was the George Clooney of his day), he manipulated others into realizing his plan, and taking the fall with him.
  3. Eisenschiml’s theory
    Secretary of War Stanton was behind the assassination, because he didn’t do enough to stop it, and he didn’t like Lincoln anway. Evidence shows Stanton respected and admired Lincoln, and no one expected this, so he did his best to shut down the city to catch Booth.
  4. Banker/Jews theory
    Important European bankers like the Rothschilds offered Lincoln loans to finance the war, but he found other means; what an insult! Plus, Lincoln’s Reconstructionist policies were mild, which would have destroyed Rothschild commodity plan to take advantage of a crippled American agriculture.
  5. Pope theory
    Lincoln won a case for a Catholic father against a Bishop in his early lawyer career, and apparently the Catholics never forgave him. It’s a long game, and a long shot because there’s absolutely no evidence to support this since no one can confirm if Booth was Catholic or had any religious affiliation.

The Finale

The presentation was great, mainly because Mike is an entertaining historian. He had side comments that had us chuckling the entire time, and yet I still managed to scribble down four A4 (letter sized) pages of notes. He shuffled out of his office, thanking us for listening to his ramblings, and we applauded. Then he returned as Mike the historian (rather than the “investigator” character), welcoming questions and talk of other theories he didn’t have time to mention.

One guy was super into talking about how the United Kingdom probably helped the plot because they wanted to support the Confederacy. Mike shot that down pretty quickly with some interesting facts, and saying you can always find a connection if you really want to. I made a point of chatting with Mike after everyone left, and he was kind enough to give me contact information so I can shoot him a question whenever. So helpful for my new book!

Verdict

All in all, I’m excited to attend my next Echoes in Time. If you’re in town, make sure to look up the Ohio History Connection’s event calendar. It’s affordable (only $10) and well worth the time. Plus, you can wander around the free rotating exhibits for the rest of the day, which is always fun.

P.S. Since I’m sure you’re curious, historical evidence supports the Simple Theory.

Using Evernote as my Distributed Brain

With the restart of the latest WIP, I’ve been using Evernote to collect research about living in 1864 Columbus, OH during and right after Lincoln’s death. As convenient as it is, I kinda miss the old way of doing research.

Once upon a time, I ran to the library to grab all the books on a topic. I filled paper journals with notes to reference when I couldn’t remember a clothing detail etc. It got a bit unwieldy the more mobile my life became. I have a  bin of research for Catching the Rose, which I wrote back in high school, so my research methods weren’t quite so methodical and clean. I filled two paper journals of notes for Haunting Miss Trentwood, covering transportation, clothing, the rise of the “independent woman” in 1880s England, and even English law.

For this new untitled Work-in-progress, I’m trying something different: Evernote.

evernote

Evernote is nice because it allows me to “clip” interesting paragraphs, images, and other online research. It captures the URL for me, so I can go back and build my bibliography without fear of missing something. And, best of all, it provides tagging and searching capabilities! When I’m trying to remember just who tried to bust all those Confederates out of the Lake Erie-based Johnson’s Island prison, I can do it easily.

So it works for my mobile life of bouncing around town writing in different locations per my schedule and availability. I can look something up on my phone, which is awesome, but actual collecting of materials is best on a laptop. And it’s making a sorted bibliography super easy to create!

evernote-bibliography

I’ll try to do a better job sharing some of the things I’ve been learning, whether that particular research detail makes it into the book or not. In terms of progress, I’ve written two-and-a-half chapters and it’s felt like pulling teeth, but at least it’s progress!

Best,
Belinda