Nick Russell

Oct 292018

Our little town of Edgewater and neighboring New Smyrna Beach on Florida’s Atlantic Coast are friendly communities with a lot of small town charm and atmosphere to them. And except for a very few “problem citizens” almost everyone we have met have been wonderful people. However, if local folklore is to be believed, it wasn’t always that way. Many people claim that back in the “good old days” New Smyrna Beach was a haven for gangsters who came down here to escape the cold winter months up north.

I guess it stands to reason that even if you are in the Mafia you could appreciate a break from the long, dreary winters of New York and Chicago and places like that and enjoy relaxing in the sun in a laid back little beachside community.

Two residences in New Smyrna Beach supposedly have ties to mobsters, and though there is no hard proof that either story is true, a lot of people who have been around here for a lot longer than we have swear by them.

This house, on Atlantic Avenue with an outstanding view of the beach, stands next to a huge condominium built much later. It is often referred to as the Mafia house. Built in 1969 by a man named John Maeder, who supposedly had ties to the Sicilian Mafia, some have described the house as a fortress, with armor-plated doors and bulletproof glass in the windows. There were reports that there were gun turrets on the home’s roof, and that it included an underground shooting range. One person, who said he was in the house once to do repairs for Meader, told people that the uppermost room held two tripod-mounted .30 machineguns, one aimed toward the beach and the other inland.

Not much is known about Maeder, but he was said to be a man who kept to himself and valued his privacy, erecting a chain-link fence around the property and plastering No Trespassing signs everywhere. He didn’t live in the house long; in April, 1970, his body was found next to an overturned tractor and the official story was that he was killed when the machine toppled down a slope on his property. But while the police investigation said there was no foul play and his death was ruled an accident, nobody can explain the pistol found next to Maeder’s body or the three spent shell casings located nearby.

The other New Smyrna Beach home with reputed Mafia ties is located on picturesque South Riverside Drive. The stately brick home was rumored to have once belonged to Chicago gangster Al Capone, and that one of his mistresses lived there. People who supposedly know claimed the house was used to store bootleg whiskey and had a secret passageway to Gabordy Canal, which runs alongside the property, making it easy for Capone and his henchmen to come and go unnoticed, and to smuggle contraband in and out.

Built in 1926, the house, which is located in an upscale neighborhood of handsome homes, stands out for its beautiful architecture and the sculptures in the yard. It has a 720 square foot basement, something seldom seen in Florida homes. If the stories of bootleg booze are true, there would be plenty of room to store it down there.

Supposedly, back during the Prohibition days Capone and his cronies would gather at the house to play cards and hang out, away from the limelight and the curious eyes of reporters and the police. Some also believe that gangsters on the lam hid out there until the heat cooled off and they could show their faces again.

There is no proof that John Maeder, who built the Mafia house, had any ties to organized crime or any criminal activity. And while Al Capone did have a mansion in Miami Beach, where he died in 1947 after being released from federal prison, there is no evidence that he actually did own the house in New Smyrna Beach. Real estate records do not show his name anywhere associated with the property, but that’s not to say he didn’t put it in his mistress’ name. Nobody knows for sure. So is either story true, or are these just small-town myths? Don’t ask me, I’m new here. But they do make for some interesting speculation, don’t they?

Congratulations Terri Lou Boucher, winner of our drawing for an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. We had 266 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Mr. Rogers did not adequately prepare me for the people in my neighborhood.

Oct 282018

Any of us who remember our high school history classes know about the terrible winter George Washington’s troops spent at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. But did you know there was also a winter encampment during the Civil War that was just as harsh? So much so that it has been called the Valley Forge of the Union Army?

After their defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862, the battle-weary Army of the Potomac was on its last legs. Morale was low, supplies were limited, and the ragged soldiers needed a place to rest and recoup before their next engagement with the enemy. General Ambrose Burnside, who had been in command, was replaced by General Joseph Hooker. Knowing that his 135,000 men were not fit for battle, Hooker ordered them to set up an encampment in Stafford County, 15 miles north of Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was the largest encampment of the Union soldiers at any time during the Civil War.

Though the troops were out of danger from Confederate soldiers for the time being, living conditions were harsh to say the least. They built crude log huts and quickly burned up any wood they could get their hands on just to keep warm. There wasn’t enough room in the huts to shelter everybody, so many had only canvas tents to live in. When there wasn’t enough tent material to go around, others simply dug holes in the frozen ground and slept in them.

Rations were in short supply and hunting parties decimated the wildlife for miles around trying to get enough meat to feed the soldiers. It’s been said that some were reduced to eating their leather boots and belts, if they had not already rotted away. Dressed in filthy rags that were once their uniforms, thousands died during that terrible winter from the frigid temperatures, disease, and accidents. Always cold and hungry, one report said that as many as 200 soldiers a day deserted, unable to take any more punishment from the elements.

But despite the harsh conditions they had to survive, the winter encampment did give the troops who made it through a chance to rest up and get ready for the battles that lay ahead of them.

Today the 41 acre Stafford Civil War Park, on the site of the encampment, preserves the history of that place and honors the men who suffered there throughout the bleak winter months.

Visitors can see a replica of one of the huts the troops lived in, walk down a log road the soldiers used, and see rifle pits, fortifications, and artillery emplacements. Interpretive signs tell the story of what life was like in the encampment. One contains the words of a letter from one soldier describing their dreary retreat from Fredericksburg to the encampment, saying that they marched thirteen miles in two days, drenched and frozen to the bone.

A visit will give you a new appreciation for just how horrible conditions were during that fateful winner, and for the men who suffered through it to ultimately go on to win victory over the enemy.

The park is located at 400 Mount Hope Church Road in Stafford and is open November 1 through March 30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October, park hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. RV parking might be difficult for larger rigs, so you are advised to stay at one of the local campgrounds and drive your tow vehicle when you visit.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – I very seldom think before I speak, because I like to be just as surprised as everybody else by what comes out of my mouth.

Not Much Happening

 Posted by at 1:01 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 272018

I’ve been posting a few stories from our travels in the blog lately because there’s not much happening here on the home front to write about. But today I thought I would bring you up-to-date on what little has been going on.

I wrote a few days ago that we were going to check out the medical marijuana dispensary in Port Orange. This was after losing total confidence in the people at the one here in Edgewater following the overdose I got because the pills they sold me were more than twice what I’m supposed to be taking. The name of the place in Port Orange is Surterra Wellness Center, and the difference between the two is like night and day.

At the facility in Edgewater, nobody can answer a question for you about the different products, and when asked, they tell you need to look it up for yourself because they are not allowed to give advice. There, you enter a small lobby with uncomfortable chairs, somebody slides a window open and takes your card, and then they call you into a very cramped back room to talk to a “consultant” who can’t tell you anything. Even though medical marijuana is legal in Florida, the whole place has a shady feel to it, in my opinion. We know it’s legal but we feel like we’re doing something wrong just by being there.

On the other hand, Surterra has an open, spacious lobby, we were greeted by not one but three very pleasant young ladies, display packages of all of their products are on one side of the lobby, and two of their employees spent at least an hour and a half with us going over the different products, the benefits of each one, how to use them, and answering every question we had without hesitation. They made suggestions on what might work best for our needs, gave us a phone number to call if we had any questions later, and even deliver for free. It’s definitely worth driving a few extra miles to get that kind of service.

On another topic, I’ve been working on my newest book, Big Lake Wedding, and I’m pleased with where it’s going so far. I need to have it out by December to make my four books a year goal, so that’s a priority right now.

But I did knock off for a while yesterday when our friend Jim Lewis came by to visit, and we even threw three rounds of darts, all of which Jim won like he usually does. Jim is a sharpshooter who hits where he’s aiming more often than not. Me, I throw like a shotgun shoots, spreading the pattern out wide and hoping to hit anything at all. When I was a young soldier that technique was referred to as spray and pray. It wasn’t very successful back then and it still isn’t.

It looks like we are past the worst of the summer heat, and it’s been in the low 80s the last few days. In fact, we have some 70s predicted this weekend, which I will not object to at all. We’re talking fishing and boating and kayaking weather. I’m really looking forward to that! I’m not sure my back is up to any of that yet, but I’m looking forward to trying.

We’ve been concerned because the terrible red tide that has been killing tens of thousands of fish on Florida’s Gulf Coast is now showing up here on the Atlantic Coast, too. In the last few days thousands of dead fish have washed up on Cocoa Beach, which is just 55 miles south of us. Everybody around here is hoping it doesn’t get any closer than that. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

So far over 170 people have entered our latest Free Drawing, and I’m not surprised. This week’s prize is an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – It makes sense that the target audience for fidget spinners lost interest in them so quickly.

Oct 262018

These days, when bashing the police seems to be the in thing, I am an unashamed supporter of law enforcement. Yes, there are a few bad apples out there. Maybe even more than a few. But for every corrupt or brutal cop, I know that there are tens of thousands of them in small towns and big cities and rural counties across this land who go to work every day and give everything they have to keep the people who live in their communities safe. Good men and women dedicated to making our world a better place for all of us. And all too often they give their lives in the line of duty. These are real heroes and they don’t wear capes.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall Of Fame is a memorial dedicated to the lawmen and women who have sacrificed their lives so the rest of us can be safe. It’s a sobering reminder that every time they pin on their badges and strap on their gun belts and tell their families goodbye before they head out the door for work, it may be the last time.

The memorial, which includes a nice museum, has displays of police equipment, weapons, badges and uniform patches, and more, including this completely restored 1955 Ford police car.

Exhibits in the museum’s gallery help visitors understand the role of the police throughout history and in today’s society. It’s fascinating to see how police technology has evolved over the years.

There is an interesting display of handguns used by police officers or taken from criminals over the years.

This is only a small portion of the many police badges included in the exhibit.

One of the best-known lawmen to come out of South Carolina was Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who took down Depression-era gangsters like John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Adam Richetti. Born on October 24, 1903, in Timmonsville, South Carolina, Purvis graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1925 with a law degree and then joined the FBI. His intelligence, integrity, and work ethic were quickly recognized and he was chosen to command field offices in Birmingham, Alabama, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Cincinnati, Ohio before taking over the Chicago office in 1932. The museum has a display dedicated to Purvis, who stood only 5’4” tall, but left a huge legacy in the world of crime-fighting.

But the main focus here is to honor the men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty. Plaques in the Hall of Fame Memorial Room honor over 300 officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A book on display in the Memorial Room has a page dedicated to each officer killed while on the job dating back over 200 years. The first officer honored is Robert Maxwell, the sheriff of the old Washington District, who was ambushed on his way to court in 1797.

It doesn’t take long for visitors at the Memorial to realize that the real world day-to-day job of law enforcement officers is much different than what we see on television or movie screens. It’s impossible to come away from the Memorial without a newfound respect for the people who stand behind the thin blue line.

Located at 5400 Broad River Road, in Columbia, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall Of Fame is open Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. The facility is closed on weekends and state holidays. Admission is free and it is handicapped accessible. Guided group tours are available by prior arrangement. While there is no designated RV parking area, the museum staff say it’s fine to park across several sites marked for cars when you visit. For more information, call (803) 896-8199.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – When we’re young, we sneak out of our houses to go to parties. When we’re old, we sneak out of parties to go home.

Oct 252018

When kids of my generation were growing up the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were an important part of many of our lives. Scouting promoted responsible citizenship, character development, and other good values, and provided opportunities to learn outdoor skills. Many boys and girls who were Scouts grew up to make valuable contributions to their communities and the country.

In the small town of Larned, Kansas, we visited the Central States Scout Museum, which has an amazing collection of Boy Scout memorabilia dating back over 100 years. The museum’s displays include everything from old merit badges, patches, and uniform accessories, to books, commemorative plates, musical instruments, and more, all with an association to the Boy Scouts.

The museum has a broad range of uniforms dating back to the 1920s, including Sea Scout and Air Scout uniforms.

The merit badge collection includes sashes and badges from the Scout, Explorer, and Air Explorer programs, along with medals and patches dating back over 100 years. Also included are pre-revolution Russian Scout badges, Norman Rockwell Spirit of Scouting coins, and many Rockwell plates, cups, and figurines.

While it would be easy to rush through the museum, instead take the time to explore and you will find many rare and unusual items including letters, photos, and original drawings from such Scouting notables as Baden Powell, E.T. Seton, Kames West, and Dan Beard.

Whether you were a Cub Scout, a Tenderfoot, or rose to the rank of Eagle, you’ll discover things that will bring a nostalgic smile to your face. It might be a copy of the Boy Scout Manual you studied, or a mess kit complete with a camp knife that included a fork and spoon, or a Scout camera. I saw a number of things I remembered from the old days. Girl Scouts are also represented with a display of uniforms and equipment.

Though the program has seen a lot of negative publicity in recent years, I believe that in our modern world, where kids seem to be born with a joystick in one hand and a computer mouse in the other, the values so many of us learned as Scouts are still needed. A lot of kids from our younger generation are missing out on the Scouting experience.

The Central States Scout Museum is located at 215 W. 14th Street in Larned, and is open daily from 1-4 pm and by appointment. Admission is $5 for adults, and kids age 15 and under are free. For more information about the museum, call (620) 804-0509.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. All you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – We use tables to keep food off the floor, tablecloths to keep food off the table, placemats to keep food off the tablecloth, and plates to keep food off the placemats. Where will it ever end?

Oct 242018

He was a simple man, a hardworking husband and father who loved his family, took great pride in his job, and died doing what he knew best. Yet Casey Jones became an American folk hero the likes of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Johnny Appleseed; along with mythical heroes like Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill.

T. Clark Shaw, Chief Executive Officer for Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store, part of the Casey Jones Village in Jackson, Tennessee, said it best when he wrote “The life and legend of Casey Jones and how it all came about is most fascinating and one in which we should all be proud, for it is not only the story of one man’s death, but his dedication to duty that is representative of a people and nation whose adventurous spirit helped mold the America we know today.”

Jonathan Luther Jones was born on March 14, 1863 in the boot heel of Missouri, the son of a country school teacher named Frank Jones and his wife Anne. When Jonathan was a young boy, the family moved to the small town of Cayce, Kentucky.

This was the great age of the steam locomotive, and like most boys of his age and time, young Jonathan was enamored with the massive, powerful machines. His favorite pastime was hanging around the Cayce train depot, and dreaming of the exciting places the trains traveled to. At the age of 15, he got hired as a telegraph operator with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. The industrious young man caught the eye of his superiors and soon worked his way up to become a brakeman and fireman.

The railroad transferred Jonathan to Jackson, Tennessee, and the busy little city would become his home. He rented a room in a boarding house that catered to railroad men. It was here that he got his nickname, when a fellow boarder asked him where he was from. He replied, “Cayce, Kentucky,” and was known ever after as Casey Jones. Before long, Casey met and fell in love with his landlady’s daughter, a pretty young girl named Janie Brady. They were married in St. Mary’s Catholic Church on November 25, 1886. The couple would eventually have three children, two boys and a girl.

During this time, Casey Jones became employed with the Illinois Central Railroad and was promoted to the cherished position of engineer, and ran freight trains between Jackson and Water Valley, Mississippi.

By 1900, Casey Jones was an experienced and trusted engineer, though he was occasionally disciplined for pushing the railroad’s established speed limits. He was dedicated to “getting there on the advertised,” which meant arriving at the station on schedule. If that meant having the fireman shovel on a little more coal and running faster than the boys back in the office wanted him to, so be it.

In January, 1900, Casey was transferred to Memphis to handle part of the passenger run between Chicago and New Orleans. Casey’s assigned portion of the route would be from Memphis to Canton, Mississippi.

Casey was not supposed to be at the throttle of the train that fateful day of April 30, 1900. He and Sim Webb, his regular fireman, pulled into Memphis on the morning of April 29th from Canton, turned their train over to the next crew, and were scheduled to lay over until the next day before making the run back to Canton.

But Sam Tate, another engineer, had fallen ill and the stationmaster needed to find a replacement. Always ready to go the extra mile for the company, Casey stepped in to fill the vacancy. By the time the Number 1 train from Chicago arrived, later then expected, Casey and Webb were already 90 minutes behind schedule when they crawled into the cab of their locomotive.

Casey’s engine Number 382 sounded its distinctive six tone calliope whistle as they pulled out of the station at 12:30 a.m. It is 187 miles from Memphis to Canton as the crow flies, and Casey was determined to make up for the lost time and get into Canton on schedule. Sim Webb shoveled coal furiously and Casey poured on steam as they raced through the night. They sped past Grenada and Winona, Mississippi, and by the time they reached Vaughn, Mississippi, they were just two minutes behind. But fate had a terrible roadblock waiting on the rails ahead.

There were three other trains already in Vaughn. One had moved off the main line, and the other two were jockeying into position onto a side track. Due to a mechanical failure, four cars of one of the other trains remained on the main tracks when Casey Jones roared out of the night, just before 4 a.m.

As they came out of an S turn, Sim Webb spotted the red lights of the caboose on the main line and shouted out a warning. Casey responded immediately, throwing the locomotive’s throttle in reverse, jamming on the brakes, and blasting a warning on his horn.

Casey ordered Webb to jump and the fireman did at the last minute, sparing his life. Casey could have jumped, too, but he bravely stayed in the locomotive’s cab, doing everything he could to slow the train before impact.

The locomotive slammed into the train ahead, ripping its way through the wooden caboose, a car loaded with hay, another car loaded with corn, and partway through a car loaded with timber before it jumped the track. Casey Jones, the hard driving engineer, was found dead in the wreckage. He was 37 years old.

Nobody else was seriously injured in the train wreck, and credit for that goes to Casey. He could have jumped to safety, but chose instead to stay and try to slow the train as much as possible before the crash, reducing the risk to his passengers.

The official blame for the accident was laid at Casey’s feet. The railroad said he had disregarded signals that the tracks ahead were blocked. But until his own death, in 1957, Casey’s fireman, Sim Webb, insisted that there was no flagman or flare warning them of the danger that lay ahead.

Casey Jones was brought home to Jackson, Tennessee, where he was buried in the Mount Calvary Cemetery. But though the man was gone, a legend had been born. A worker at the Canton roundhouse, who spent his time singing as he wiped down the locomotives, made up a song about the popular engineer who was mourned by all who knew him. That song, the Ballad of Casey Jones, became popular nationwide. Three decades after his death, the story of Casey Jones was still told around potbellied stoves in railroad depots and living rooms across the nation. A book, movie, television, and radio series all added to Casey’s posthumous fame.

In 1956, the home where Casey and his wife lived at the time of his death was made into a museum, filled with railroad artifacts and memorabilia of the engineer’s life.

Today the home has been relocated, carefully restored, and is the Casey Jones Home Railroad Museum, the centerpiece of the Casey Jones Village complex, which includes the home, a display of railroad cars, ships, and Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store restaurant. Visitors can watch a video about Casey Jones, tour his home, shop for railroad souvenirs in the gift shop, and enjoy a delicious old fashioned meal in the restaurant.Mount Calvary Cemetery, on Hardee Street in East Jackson, where Casey is buried, is only open on Sundays. The cemetery is administered by Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, and they have been known to loan someone a key to the cemetery gate to gain access. If you do visit the cemetery to pay your respects, you may notice that the headstone says Casey Jones was born in 1864. This is an error. According to information written in the Jones family Bible, he was born in 1863. The tombstone was donated by two railroad enthusiasts, who accidentally got the wrong birth year.

A stop at Casey Jones Village, located just off Interstate 40 at Exit 80, gives visitors an opportunity to learn more about the brave engineer who drove his train into legend on that foggy night in Mississippi. The home is open Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 – 5 p.m. Admission is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors, $4.50 for children ages 6 to 12, and children 5 and under are admitted free. For more information, call (731) 668-1222 or visit the Casey Jones Village website at

Thought For The Day – Your belly button is just your old mouth.

Back At It

 Posted by at 1:00 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 232018

When I was a teenager my father once told me that if you can find a job you love that you can’t wait to get to every morning, it doesn’t matter how much you get paid. I have been very blessed, because for most of my working life I have done just that. Something else my dad always told me was that if you wake up in the morning and you absolutely dread going to work and would rather take a beating then go there one more day, even if you make $1 million a year, it’s not worth it. I have had a couple of jobs like that, but not for very long.

That being said, I’m back at it, working on my next Big Lake mystery novel, and it feels good to be writing again! I got just under 2,000 words in on Big Lake Wedding yesterday, and the story is off to a good start and already shaping up nicely. And as so often happens, those darn characters have already taken things off on a tangent that I didn’t expect. Especially so early in the book. But that’s one of the greatest things about all of this for me; more often than not I’m just as surprised as my readers when I get to the end of the book and find out what happened.

Even though I just got rolling on the new book yesterday, I’ll probably take today off because we need to run some errands. We also need to go into Port Orange to check out a medical marijuana dispensary there, since I lost confidence in the one here in Edgewater following my overdose a few days ago, which I wrote about in this blog post. I never want to experience that again!

I’ve written many times about the small world syndrome that puts us in a place where we meet somebody we have a connection with that we never knew existed. It has happened to me many times in my life, and I wrote about one of them in a blog post back in 2013 about our visit to the Army Aviation Museum in Fort Rucker, Alabama. That was where we ran into a gentleman named Conrad Chesser, who had been a helicopter pilot with the 1st Calvary Division’s 17th Assault Group in Vietnam, the same unit I was assigned to. Conrad left to go home just about the time I was arriving, but in our conversation we realized we knew many of the same people. I just got word from his nephew that Conrad died recently. Although I only met him once and only spent a few hours with him, I felt a true kinship to Conrad. Rest in peace, sir. Someday I hope to meet you again on the other side.

And finally, here’s another chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – When medication says ‘do not operate heavy machinery,’ they’re probably referring to cars, but I always think of a bulldozer.

“Mad” Anne Bailey

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 222018

Note: This story is from my book Highway History And Back Road Mystery II, available on Amazon.

In the charming little town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, located on the bank of the wide Ohio River, we discovered the story of pioneer heroine Ann Bailey, whose life and adventures have become a part of the folklore of the region.

Born Anne Hennis in Liverpool, England, around 1742, Anne was orphaned as a teenager and came to America to live with an uncle’s family that had settled near Staunton, in the wild Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She married a settler named Richard Trotter in 1765 and the couple had one son, whom they named William.

Richard Trotter was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant on October 10, 1774, when militia troops commanded by Lord Dunmore were ambushed by Indians lead by the Shawnee war chief Cornstalk.

Her husband’s death had a profound effect on Anne and changed her life forever. She soon left her son with friends and set out to avenge Richard Trotter’s death. Anne became a skilled frontier scout and hunter, as capable as any frontiersman of the time. Armed with a hatchet, knife, and long rifle, she dressed in men’s buckskins and roamed from settlement to settlement, carrying messages, urging men to join the militia to fight the British and their Indian allies, and helping seek out roaming Indian war parties. Anne was well liked and respected by everyone who knew her and was welcomed in the cabins of settlers everywhere she went.

In 1785, Anne married John Bailey, who was a scout and Indian fighter. They moved to Clendenin’s Settlement (present day Charleston, West Virginia) in the Great Kanawha Valley, where Anne won her place in history during the siege of a frontier stockade called Fort Lee. Under attack by a large force of Indians, and with their supply of ammunition running low, things looked grim for the fort’s defenders and the settlers who had taken refuge inside.

Mounting a sturdy black horse, Anne made a mad dash through the Indians surrounding the fort, unmindful of the arrows and musket balls that flew past her. She rode 100 miles across wild territory to Fort Savannah (present day Lewisburg, West Virginia) and secured a supply of gunpowder, then rode back through the Indians again to deliver it to Fort Lee. Anne’s feat was commemorated in Charles Robb’s epic 1861 poem titled “Anne Bailey’s Ride.”

Anne was known forever after as the Heroine of the Kanawha Valley. As a reward for her courageous actions, the settlers at Fort Lee gave Anne the horse she had ridden in her wild adventure. She named the steed Liverpool, after her hometown back in England, and rode him for many years.

She was a bit of an oddity on the frontier and became known as Mad Anne Bailey for her exploits. There are many stories about Anne Bailey, many of them exaggerated, and some of which she no doubt spread herself, since she was known as a popular storyteller. One tale has her being chased by an Indian war party. When she came to a dense thicket, Anne jumped down from her horse and hid inside of a hollow log to escape. The warriors grabbed Liverpool’s reins, then tried to find Ann’s hiding place without success. Eventually tiring, they sat down to rest on the same log that Anne was hiding inside of.

She waited quietly until the Indians had moved on, and then followed their trail on foot. Under cover of darkness, while the Indians slept, Anne crept into their camp, untied Liverpool and led him away. When she was safely out of rifle range, she mounted her horse, woke the Indians with a wild shout of defiance, and then rode away.

Not all of Anne’s achievements involved warfare. She is credited with bringing both the first pair of geese and the first copper whiskey still into the Kanawha Valley. With the end of the Revolutionary War and with the Indians finally subdued, life on the frontier became somewhat safer, though it was never easy. The Bailey’s settled down near present-day Charleston, where they lived until John Bailey’s death, in 1802.

Twice widowed, Anne then made her home with her son William and his family at Point Pleasant but spent much of her time traveling throughout the region as a messenger, trader, and storyteller. For several years Anne was employed as a mail carrier and express messenger, carrying letters between Point Pleasant, Lewisburg, and Staunton. In 1817, William sold his farm and moved across the river to Gallia County, Ohio, and Anne went along. After a lifetime of danger and adventure, the brave frontierswoman, who was fearless in the face of Indian attacks and British troops, died peacefully in her sleep, on November 22, 1825.

Anne was originally buried in Ohio, but in 1901 her remains were moved to Tu-Endie-Wei Park in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The park includes a monument to the militiamen who died at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. Anne’s headstone, on which her name is misspelled, has a plaque telling of some of her exploits on the frontier.

Anne Bailey has been gone for almost 200 years, but her memory lives on still today. Several locations in West Virginia bear Anne Bailey’s name, including a school, a park, and a lookout tower in Watoga State Park.

Congratulations Dave Rodgers, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Hands of Onyx, book 2 in the Sav’ine series by Stacy Bender. We had 19 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Common sense can cure ignorance, but there is no cure for stupidity!

How About Some Q&A?

 Posted by at 12:37 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 212018

I’m back with more questions from blog readers about RVing, what’s happening in our lives since we hung up the keys, and all kinds of other things. While I try to answer all questions individually, I also share some here occasionally.

Q. My husband has it in his mind to spend this winter parked on a beach somewhere down in Mexico. He paints a pretty picture but I’ve heard so many horror stories about Americans who get in trouble or get sick in Mexico and are stuck. Can you reassure me it’s going to be okay, Nick?
A. While I am not a fan of RVing in Mexico, we know many RVers who have been doing it for years and love it. A lot depends on where you go in the country. People tell me that once you get away from the border area it is a lot better in terms of crime and corruption. But you still have to get through that area! I would suggest you check out the Escapee RV Club’s Chapter 8, the Mexican Connection. You can learn a lot from them about how to make a trip south of the border safe and enjoyable.

Q. Our older diesel pusher has the Aqua-Hot heating system, and it has been nothing but a problem since we bought the motorhome. We have had it repaired three times, and each time it worked for a while and then stopped. We are fulltimers and very seldom go anyplace cold and have given up on it. We have been using a pair of small ceramic heaters when we do find ourselves getting chilly. But this year we want to do some boondocking in Arizona and know it can get cold in the desert at night. We are thinking about some kind of little propane heater. Any suggestions on what to get?
A. When we built our MCI bus conversion we used an Olympian catalytic heater and found it was an excellent alternative to an RV furnace. It used less propane, didn’t require battery power, and kept us toasty warm even on cold winter nights in northern Michigan. On very cold nights we supplemented it with a 12 volt Endless Breeze Fan-Tastic fan to move the warm air around. The catalytic heater was in the front of the bus and we would set the fan at the entrance to the hallway leading back to our bedroom. Even on nights when it got down into the low 20s and even the teens, we were toasty warm. Just don’t forget to leave a window or two cracked open a bit for safety and ventilation.

Q. Okay Nick, stop keeping us in suspense. Did you buy the Mustang that you had a picture standing next to in your blog a few days ago?
A. I would love to have a new Mustang or a classic Mustang, as far as that goes, but I just can’t justify it in my mind. At this point we are still a two driver/three-car family.

Q. Do you still sell your CD with all of the guides to free campgrounds, dump stations, and things like that, and is it still updated, if you do?
A. Yes, we still sell our 8-in-1 book that lists over 1,000 free campgrounds nationwide, RV dump stations, fairgrounds with RV parking, RV good guys reliable service companies, casinos with RV parking, campground reviews, favorite restaurants, and more. Even though we are no longer RVing, we update it based upon information shared by our readers. Cost is $24.95 for delivery by email. You can find a link to it on the left column of this blog.

Q. I have entered your drawings every week, and my entry never shows up at all. Why is that? I have instant messaged you about it but I didn’t understand your reply.
A. As I told you more than once in our instant message exchanges, the reason your name never gets entered in the weekly drawings is because we only allow one entry per person per week. You routinely entered 15 and 20 times per week, even after I asked you repeatedly not to do that. So now your entries go directly to the spam folder.

Q. Is Miss Terry ever going to sell some of her weavings? I love the shawls that she does that you have shared pictures of in the blog.
A. Terry weaves for the pleasure she gets from it and really doesn’t want to turn it into a business where she has to produce a certain item at a certain time to fulfill an order. She enjoys giving her creations away as gifts to friends and family members, but the times somebody has wanted to order something they have not been able to understand that the cost for yarn and the amount of time involved prohibits her from making and selling something for $15 or $20. She uses only top-quality materials, which can cost anywhere from $15 up to well over $100, and on average it takes her 20 to 25 hours to design, layout, weave, and finish a shawl.

Q. As crazy as politics are in this country right now, don’t you think it’s time for Bad Nick to express his views on things?
A. As crazy as politics are in this country right now, Bad Nick wants nothing to do with any of it. He would prefer to live out his life peacefully rather than get involved with all of the venom being spread around by both sides these days.

Q. We are from Arizona and they don’t require any special license to drive a motorhome. But we’ve been told that certain states, including California and Texas do require a different license than the regular one and that we will be breaking the law if we drive in those states. Is this true?
A. No. The states all have reciprocity agreements with each other wherein they accept the issued driver’s license from another state for visitors. So if your state doesn’t require any special license to drive an RV, you are legal with it in any state you travel through.

Q. We just returned from Alaska a few weeks ago, and while we were coming south through Canada we found a stray dog that we fell in love with and wanted to bring home with us. But when we got to the US border they told us we had to have paperwork and shot records and things like that to bring the dog into the country. Obviously, we didn’t have any because I planned to deal with all that when we got back home. But they wouldn’t accept our word for it and we were heartbroken to have to take it back to the Canadian authorities. They didn’t really know what to do with it either but said they would try to find a home for it. My question is, can the US port of entry people do that?
A. Obviously they can, because they did. Regulations require that dogs must be healthy to enter the United States. And with limited exceptions, dogs must be immunized against rabies and have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. These requirements apply equally to all dogs, including puppies and service animals.

Q. I keep hearing about a 10 year rule and that many campgrounds only allow RVs that are less than 10 years old even if they are in excellent condition. We’ve only been on the road a couple of months and have not encountered this yet, but we wonder if it’s going to be a problem. What do you think?
A. Most of the places that have a 10 year rule are “resorts” that are quite often rather expensive. For years we traveled in a 1976 MCI bus conversion and never had an issue, because we don’t go to those kinds of places. Don’t worry about it, there are many more campgrounds that want your business than there are those who will turn you away based upon the age of your rig.

Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Hands of Onyx, book 2 in the Sav’ine series by Stacy Bender. It’s a story about cybernetic soldiers escorting a long haul space freighter to the outer rim planets, dealing with saboteurs who are trying to stop them and a crew that includes a half-blind medic, an explosives expert who is a sociopath, and an interrogator suffering from dementia. What could possibly go wrong? To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

Thought For The Day – I really don’t mind getting older, but my body is taking it badly.

A Do-Nothing Day

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 202018

Yesterday was pretty much a do-nothing day for me. I don’t know if I was still feeling the effects of my medical marijuana overdose, or if I was just lazy (which could very well be the case), but whatever the reason, I just didn’t have any energy or any interest in doing anything.

I did leave the house long enough to go to the chiropractor to get an adjustment after throwing my back out again during that incident. On the way there, I stopped at the medical marijuana dispensary and to tell them what had happened to me, as I described in yesterday’s blog. The young girl behind the counter was pretty sure I was lying and told me that was impossible. She said the only thing that taking too much would do would have been to make me sleep for 24 hours. I won’t be going back there, I’ll patronize a couple of other dispensaries in the area even though they are farther away.

When I got back home I answered a few emails, then parked myself in my recliner and vegged out the rest of the day. At some point I fell asleep, and when I woke up the evening news was on. Like I said, I do-nothing day.

Miss Terry, on the other hand, never stops moving. While I was being a couch potato (or is that recliner potato?), she was busy catching up on paperwork, doing some laundry, and making me some more of the fudge with the right medical marijuana ingredients in it. No more of the capsules for me!

It looks like we finally have a cooling trend coming our way this weekend, with temperatures dropping down into the lower 80s for the next week at least. It’s almost time to get the kayaks and the pontoon boat back on the water, and I’m really looking forward to that.

But until then, I plan to start on my next book today, the long-awaited Big Lake Wedding. It will be the event of the year in Big Lake, and I have it on good authority that it won’t happen without some surprises and difficulty for Sheriff Weber and Robyn.

Meanwhile, my latest John Lee Quarrels book, Strawberry Slugbug, is selling well on Amazon and gathering some very nice five-star reviews. Like any author, I always appreciate reviews. They really help shoppers decide on which books they want to read.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Hands of Onyx, book 2 in the Sav’ine series by Stacy Bender. It’s a story about cybernetic soldiers escorting a long haul space freighter to the outer rim planets, dealing with saboteurs who are trying to stop them and a crew that includes a half-blind medic, an explosives expert who is a sociopath, and an interrogator suffering from dementia. What could possibly go wrong? To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

And finally, here’s another chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I don’t know what part of the country they are growing these in, but if I find out, I plan to buy a few acres.

Thought For The Day – I don’t have anything in common with people who are not at least a little bit crazy.