Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!


And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
      The Holy Bible (Luke, Chapter 2)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Aboard the U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson off St. Marks, Florida

St. Marks Lighthouse
In the month of January 1865, Northern newspapers reported much speculation that Confederate forces were preparing to open St. Marks in North Florida as a major port for blockade runners.

It is unclear from the available documentation how true the reports were. The U.S. Envoy in Havana, Cuba, had notified the Collector of the Port of New York that, "the secessionists in Havana are making efforts to stake out the harbor of St. Marks as a new port for blockade runners, so that they may enter with steamers in the night time." There is also evidence that some efforts to stake out the channel of the lower St. Marks River were underway in January and February of 1864.

The speculation surrounding St. Marks began after Union forces captured Fort Fisher at Wilmington, North Carolina. The capture of that massive earthwork led to the closure of the port of Wilmington, one of the last safe havens for blockade runners making their way into the Confederacy.
U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson

The entrance to the St. Marks River was blockaded in early 1865 by the U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson. Commanded by Charles H. Rockwell, the son of a Reformed Dutch Church pastor in Catskill, New York, the ship had once been the Confederate blockade runner Florida. Captured at St. Andrew Bay (today's Panama City) earlier in the war, the steamer was converted to a warship by the Union navy and assigned to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron.

I recently found a short letter written from aboard the Hudson by Rockwell to his father that I thought might be of interest. It was received in January of 1865:

  My ship, the Hendrick Hudson, is a very fine vessel of seven guns and one hundred and twenty officers and men, and, in case of emergency, can go as fast as most others. I have three vessels under my command, and shall be for some time very busy in conducting operations against the enemy in this vicinity. These consist of small expeditions, conducted with a view to surprise them, and accomplish the object desired. - C.H. Rockwell."

You can learn more about the historic fortifications of St. Marks at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/sanmarcos1 and the beautiful old St. Marks Lighthouse at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/stmarkslight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida" - Now Available

A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida, my latest book and first work of fiction, was released this week.

Set in Florida's favorite small town, Two Egg, it is the short story of a lonely man named Ben, the hard times of the Great Depression, a mysterious stranger seen lurking around Ben's farm and the lost gold from the Confederate Treasury. I started writing the story as the script for a church drama and it grew into a small book as well.

A book with a Christian theme, it is a pretty big departure from my previous efforts but was something I wanted to write to acknowledge God's role in my life. I also hoped to create a little Christmas story set in Florida that would be enjoyable for families to read.

The story is entirely from my imagination, although the locations, some of the characters and some of the elements used in the plot are real. Two Egg, of course, is a real place. Located just northeast of Marianna in the farm country of Jackson County, the community actually gained its unusual name during the Great Depression and I've included some versions of that story in the new book.

The gold from the Confederate Treasury remains missing to this day, although some bits and pieces have been found in various states, including Florida. A few coins that appear to match the missing gold were found in the 1970s near Two Egg.

The book is available in paperback for $9.95 and as a Kindle download for 99 cents through Amazon.com. Just click the link at the upper left of this posting to order or search for the title in the Kindle store. Signed copies will be available starting tomorrow afternoon at Chipola River Book & Tea on Lafayette Street in Marianna (across the street from the Battle of Marianna Monument).

You can learn more about the real history of Two Egg at www.twoeggfla.com.