illuminate history

Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)

Red Letter Day!

Patience paid off: Brian Wheeler, the wonderful features editor of the Jackson, Michigan Citizen-Patriot published an “author profile” about me in the Sunday, 10/9, print edition. It was available on-line today at

Here’s part of what it included:

— Recently published work: “Reflections of a Civil War Locomotive Engineer: A Ghost-Written Memoir” (2011)

— Where to purchase book: and the gift shop at the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History in Jackson

— Book description: “America’s pursuit of her Manifest Destiny seen by a Michigan railroad engineer and an Albany, N.Y. policeman: This is more than just the true story — based on long-forgotten letters — of John (who lived in Jackson) and Francis Bailey . Separated as adolescents in Toronto, reunited by the U.S. Civil War, they maintain a correspondence that lasts until John’s too-early death in 1900. As he recounts the events of their lives, John finally discovers Francis’s secret to enjoying life despite adversity.”

— Why she became a writer: “My characters made me do it. In 1988, my father showed me his transcription of 27 letters that his Uncle Francis wrote, from 1863 to 1899, to John Henry Bailey Jr., my father’s grandfather. Francis wrote the first letter while aboard the ironclad Montauk in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. I was captivated immediately and resolved someday to learn the full story behind the letters. My quest could not begin until 2000, after I retired.”


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This entry was posted on October 10, 2011 by in Biography, Civil War, Railroad, US History, Writing.
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