Meeting and talking with folks is something I really enjoy, and sharing stories from my books goes right along with that. Recently, I spoke to the federal retired employees group and to several other retiree groups, as well as civic organizations.Without fail, someone will tell me a story about Tennessee history that I didn’t know. I’ve always said the stories are there waiting for us to find if we only listen!
When I researched Lucy Petway Holcombe of La Grange, Tennessee, born in June 1832, I found it fascinating that she married Francis Wilkinson Pickens, 27 years older than she was and twice-widowed, when he became Minister to Russia. With her knowledge of French and Russian, she became a court favorite in St. Petersburg of Czar Alexander II and Czarina Maria. In August 1860 Francis Pickens was elected governor of South Carolina, three days before South Carolina seceded from the Union.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in the Confederacy, Lucy Pickens’ image was placed on three issues of the Confederate $100 bill and on one issue of the $1 bill. She was the only woman whose likeness was ever placed on Confederate currency.
Gov. Pickens died at age 63, but Mrs. Pickens spent the next 30 years managing the family plantations in Edgefield, S.C. It’s rumored some of the jewels she was given in Russia kept the plantations going. Her granddaughters inherited the Edgewood house, but it fell into disrepair.
In 1929, Eulalie Chafee Salley, a prominent Aiken businesswoman and leader of the women’s rights movement. purchased the plantation house, which was in serious disrepair, and moved it to Aiken, S.C. where it was beautifully restored. In 1990, the house was moved to the University of South Carolina campus. You can find photos here: http://www.nationalregister.sc.gov/a…/S10817702016/index.htm
Recently I spoke to Friends of the Library at the Jackson-Madison County Library and loved that they enjoyed the tales — and of course, that every seat was full. We all love great audiences.
The Holy Cheat
I shared a story of “The Holy Cheat,” about a handsome British con man named George Frederick Burgoyne Howard who passed himself off as a Baptist preacher in Jackson, Tennessee until he got caught. He loved the women and found himself in trouble on that account as well.
When I found that Roscoe Turner, the famous aviator, was from Corinth, Mississippi, or as we say, “just down the road,” I stretched a bit to include his story. But who wouldn’t want to know about a pilot who flew across America with his pet lion cub Gilmore in the back seat! Outfitted with his own parachute, of course, because the Humane Society demanded that.
When I told the story of the influenza epidemic that ravaged our world in 1918, I added something I had been told only recently. A local acquaintance shared with me that she remembered her mother closing the curtains so her daughter wouldn’t see the many funeral processions on the street. It was a devastating time in America with so many killed in the war and then the flu killing so many more.
But then I was able to tell my favorite story about Christmas 1945 when our soldiers came home, and it was Christmas again.
Soon I’ll begin work on an audiobook that will share some of my favorite tales from all of my previous books, Tales of Madison, Old Tales and Trails of Tennessee, and Autumn Memories, and my new book, “Soldiers, Saints & Sinners: Stories of Long Ago.
I’ll keep you updated on my progress so check back when you can!
Nothing goes better with ice cream at the Casey Jones Old Country Store Ice Cream Parlor in Jackson, Tennessee than a good story, too! I’ll sign and sell my book, “Soldiers, Saints & Sinners: Stories of Long Ago” from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, surrounded by all those treats. Fudge, ice cream, cookies. Take “Soldiers, Saints & Sinners” home for a Christmas gift! One of my stories is about Christmas 1945, when the soldiers came home from the war, and in Jackson, Christmas was Christmas again! One of my favorite book images is of Allison East’s illustration of Santa Claus 1945.
My books are available also at Marilyn Jackson’s Gifts in Jackson, and online at amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million. You can also contact me through my website or message me on my Facebook page.
Thank you for enjoying my stories!