New Finds: 1862 Tax Return?

These past couple years have been such a rollercoaster of events. Some good, some bad, some I had to let go of in order to save my sanity. We didn’t expect the passing of a loved one. Sometimes it seems like family members will live forever, like an invincible dragon, blowing smoke all around to keep the threats at bay.

Then they are gone.

And the house is empty.

Except when the wind chimes jingle without a breeze, and the emotions found inside letters bubble to the surface. It’s full. It’s full of memories, sometimes my own faint ones, but never anything below the surface. As I’m allowed to go through some items to discover more about the people I thought I knew…but didn’t really, I’m finding more and more history.

Since this is all that has been on my mind aside from the Historical Novel Society Conference, I’m going to do this post on some American History closest to me.

The Hersey family apparently kept a lot of old written items, which is wonderful for a nerd like myself. I figure I will pick just one interesting piece of history to talk about today: A Tax return from 1862.

But the US didn’t start taxing until the next century, right?

Well, yes…and no. Revenue Acts of 1861, 62, and 64 all attempted to fund a nation already in millions of dollars of debt, through a civil war. The tax was let go in the 1870s due to severe backlash about the government having too much power. It’s way more complex than that, and so I’m slapping this link down so you can look into it yourself: http://www.taxhistory.org/thp/readings.nsf/ArtWeb/ff949517831b181685256e22007840e8?OpenDocument

How much did Mr. Hersey fork over in today’s money?

He made roughly $2,002 before taxes, and that equals $53,359 today. Not bad! He’s got a farm and pays a laborer. It looks like he’s got some real estate income as well.

His payment of about $16 would be $426 today.

Why save this return for so long?

Did they know that it would be something people wanted to see later? Maybe they were so upset about taxes that they wanted to hold onto it and get angry every time they took it out? So many possibilities! At any rate, I’ve got more things to scan and stow away.

Want more random history?

Check out the other posts on the American History Blog Hop!

Author Interview: Martin Svolgart

Vigilante justice? Check. Intense? Check. Deeply challenging and but also healing? Check! Today we talk with Martin Svolgart, a multi-genre and multi talented Danish author.

According to his bio, Martin Svolgart is a nature lover, amateur photographer, coffee lover, and a geek! He has a fascination for humans. What drives them, makes them, breaks them. What can bring out the worst in a person? What can bring out the best? His protagonists are never just good, and his antagonists are never just evil.

If you’ve ever met Martin you’d know how humble, yet passionate about his work he is.

Rottweiler Heimdal is King of the Couch! 110 pounds of lapdog mentality.

1. Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a Dane, forty-one, and a single dad to a big teenager. I’m a smith by trade, but I now work at a company spray-painting kitchen cabinets and stuff.

2. What are your favorite genres to read and write, and why?

To read? Just about everything. I even like textbooks. To write, I prefer action filled and character driven storylines with quirky personalities and humor and some psychological growth. The genres are secondary to that, but I enjoy both contemporary, paranormal, space opera, horror…everything. I try my hands at many genres because I think I can grow as a storyteller from it. I publish them under different pseudonyms, though, so that my readers knows what to expect from any given name.

3. You just published another book in your vigilante justice series (Brass Knuckles and Tattered Wings). Tell us about this series.

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Author Interview: Michael Ross

Today on the blog we have a talented guest with an important message for us! Thank you Michael for talking with me about your new release, The Search. It’s book two of a series (but can be read alone), and I got to see an advanced reader copy. I think simply posting my review is not enough, so I asked Michael Ross if he would answer a few questions about his new release, instead!

Here is a short description of his book, The Search:

The guns of the Civil War have ceased firing, and the shots are but an echo… yet the war rages on, deep inside Will Crump’s soul. His “soldier’s heart” is searching for peace, and in that quest Will joins the westward movement, setting his path on a collision course with adventure, loss, and love.

The Westward Expansion floods the sacred, untouched lands with immigrants, bringing conflict to the Shoshone, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Amidst the chaos Will finds safety in the shadow of the US Army, but the army brings battle-hardened troops into Red Cloud’s War, pulling Will into a tornado of conflict. Broken treaties and promises leave both sides searching for answers. Will’s search leads him to a battle for survival, and there he finds a love that could change him forever.

Dove, a young Shoshone woman, is a survivor of the Bear Creek Massacre. After being kidnapped and escaping from the Cheyenne, she joins Will’s search, seeking where she belongs. Dove longs for more than the restricted role placed on women in her tribe. If she can learn to trust a white man, he just might help her find home… and hope.

Together, Will and Dove must search for understanding, and reach Across the Great Divide.

What inspired you to write the series and this book’s setting in particular?

For the series, the inspiration had several elements:

  • I was born in Lubbock, Texas, and wanted to explore the town’s history. I knew my main character’s granddaughter, Katy Bell Crump, when I was a child. Her stories about her grandfather got my curiosity going.
  • Always a fan of history, I saw many trends and elements today that echoed the situation in 1859 – a divided nation, issues over immigration and sanctuary cities, tariff wars, riots in major cities over racial issues, and political divisions within families deep enough to bring permanent splits. The solution at that time was a war that killed 20% of the adult male population. I want to remind people, and hopefully influence a better outcome. 

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Happy Jolabokaflod! A free chapter and giveaway

Blog hop imageReady for some storytelling? Looks like it’s my turn to contribute to the Historical Writers Forum Jolabokaflod blog hop, in which the authors hold games, giveaways, and host novel excerpts. Storytelling is at the heart of this event, and so today I will share one such chapter from my upcoming dark saga, What Shadows Hide.

My characters come from a blended family, and are all children when we first meet them. Aginili struggles to put his trauma and goals aside to hold onto his new, tiny family. Assuming the role of storyteller is one way he can do that. Storytelling is so important, and a way to connect to elders and ancestors. Aginili only had a short time with his elders, and sometimes it shows. Being an author and a storyteller, as Aginili understands it, is not the same thing. Continue reading

My Reading List: 18th and 19th Century Treaties and Culture Clash

A few people have asked if I had any resources regarding the treaties between Native American (or First Nation) nations and the English, French, Spanish, and U.S. Governments. People want to understand what’s going on regarding land today from a historical context. I am not a historian, but I love to read, so I made this list of books that I found helpful. I also think it’s important to study issues from the inside out, and not only from dominant culture looking in. In the words of Dragging Canoe from 1775:

“Whole nations have melted away in our presence like balls of snow before the sun, and have scarcely left their names behind except as imperfectly recorded by their enemies and destroyers.”

Let’s dive in! The plan is to go from a broad understanding to a more specific area of study (Cherokee Nation, 1700s-1800s), and so get more of a first-hand perspective. This is not an exhaustive list and is mostly based on history because that is my area of study right now. Please remember that Native Nations are very much alive today and that issues over land and culture continue for each Nation. Let us know of more modern resources AND books regarding other nations in the comments!

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Slick Law: Vigilante Justice Gone Sour

Not every area had a courthouse, so wait times for justice were long, if justice came at all. Sometimes people didn’t agree with the judge. So what did people do when they didn’t have or trust the law? They made their own vigilante justice group.

This is my part in the Historical Writer’s Forum summer blog hop on momentous events. I think this blog concludes a momentous year after January of 1836 when certain settlements became counties and transitioned to the court system. If you want to know why I chose this topic in relation to my family saga series, scroll all the way down.

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Author Interview: Delphine Woods

Today I have a talented guest! Delphine Woods comes to us from the UK where she spends her free time reading mysteries and thrillers in her home office, surrounded by beautiful books and notepads, with her dog by her side. Woods holds a degree in creative writing from the Open University and is determined to bring her own gothic mystery and thriller novels to readers.

If you check out her website she has even made a “starter library” for potential readers, which I think is a really clever way to introduce people to her work. So, let’s talk about these novels.

Q: Gothic novels are some of my favorites, and you have written quite a few of them, but for those of us who don’t know gothic novels, how would you describe them? 

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Review: Kindred

This book had me wanting to slap a lot of people. Mind you, I’ve only slapped one person in my life. If I’ve already committed to the action by thinking about it, this a significant increase. I also posted this review to everywhere but my blog so far, which is not the usual order. Now everything is upside down.

Book description:

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Review

After reading the first chapter and rolling my eyes a little, I’m thinking Dana will save this white kid and he’ll love her and be a good person and all that jazz. Yeah, no…I got a kick-in-the-pants surprise.

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Review: Photographs of October

Photographs of october

There’s something about the candid thought process of the main characters that I really love, and by the time I got a couple chapters in I couldn’t put the darn thing down.

Meticulous research, wonderful levels of suspense, thrilling and perfect slaughter…

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What’s in a Book Title

Let’s talk about book titles. Have you ever encountered a book title that made you want to read instantly? I sure have. Sometimes I feel insignificant; how can I ever come up with something that good? Let’s find out why they are so awesome.

Book titles and book covers

Why does a proper book title matter?

Having a book title that potential readers can identify as something they want to buy helps tremendously. Yes, I said tremendously. Not just an adverb, it’s starting to become an annoying word in general and I hope we’ll remember annoying words longer.

Imagine you are browsing for a book around a certain time period or subject matter. If the cover doesn’t say exactly what you want, your next clue is the title. Or visa versa. The back cover copy is there to back up your assumption.

What does a book title need to do?

Well, it is slightly different per genre. Not every book can satisfy all the requirements, but we can sure try. Writing groups tell me these are important:

  • Indicate genre
  • Indicate what the book is about
  • In the case of historical fiction: Indicate a time period

How can one accomplish this?

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