Family of the Phoenix: Echoes from the Past © 2013 Robert Keith. All rights reserved.
About the Book
In this sequel to Mr. Keith’s first book, Family of the Phoenix, life changing events in the 19th and 20th centuries in the lives of a handful of the over 10,000 descendants of the original family are featured in a collection of compelling fact-based short stories.
A young woman is kidnapped by Shawnee Indians from her home on the Kentucky frontier; will she ever be able to return home? A teenaged cowboy and his friends are chased by marauding Cheyenne Indians on a Kansas cattle trail. Years later the cowboy makes an historic discovery. Three brothers travel by wagon train from Indiana to the California gold fields in 1850 to try to satisfy their all-consuming gold fever. A woman and her infant daughter are attacked by a knife-wielding convicted murderer on a remote island halfway around the world.
About the Author
Robert Keith is Vietnam War veteran who earned a master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. He retired from a career in information systems a few years ago and he and his wife, Judy, moved from the east coast to the Midwest to be nearer family.
Since that time he has, in his opinion, too obsessively researched his family tree as an amateur genealogist. Mr. Keith prefers to thoroughly and painstakingly gather black and white genealogical facts and seamlessly weave them into a story that brings out a realistic, fascinating, and full color account of their lives.
A Place in Rachel’s Heart
Before Rachel fully realized her dreadful mistake, her mouth was covered by a hand from behind her that felt like a cold iron vise and, her cries for help muffled, she was helplessly dragged backward toward the dense forest. --------------------
Rachel thought that regardless of the circumstances that brought her to the Shawnee settlement, Fish was right. She remembered the advice her father and mother gave her whenever she was uncomfortable in a strange place. They told her that when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do; Rachel added to that advice, until you find a way to leave Rome. --------------------
Rachel reached the spot where, on that ill-fated late fall day, she had tried her best to free the baby deer. She looked up the hill at the familiar cabin and saw some clothes hanging on a rope to dry. She immediately recognized the deep blue pattern of her mother’s favorite gingham dress billowing in the light breeze and her spirit began to soar. She thought to herself how odd she must look in her Shawnee dress, leather moccasins, and a baby in a papoose on her back. Just as she wondered if she would be recognized, Rachel heard a single high-pitched scream from the front porch and looked up just in time to see her younger sister Polly launch herself down the steps, running toward her, repeatedly yelling at the top of her voice Rachel is home! Rachel is home! --------------------
Rachel and Cameron’s glistening eyes met for the first time in nearly ten years and they walked toward one another, each of them sure the other had changed little over the years, and they embraced. Rachel whispered in Cameron’s native tongue in his ear, I have missed you my dear friend and I am glad to see you again. Cameron was too shaken to speak and he just held Rachel tighter. This was not like the day Cameron had expected, rather it was perhaps the happiest one since the last time he saw the woman he loved so much. Rachel whispered again in Cameron’s ear, you still own a place in my heart.
Murder at Port Blair
In early September of 1903, Adam surprised Blanche as she was giving her tourist spiel about the Met’s Manet collection on the museum’s second floor. He interrupted her in mid-sentence, knelt on one knee in front of her and the tour group, and asked her if she could at all consider becoming his wife. Blanche let out a short shriek that seemed to echo forever in the museum’s high ceilinged marble hallways and then she smiled at Adam and calmly told him she would take his request under advisement. Adam’s face and those of the impromptu audience changed to a look of disappointment until Blanche blurted out that after careful thought she was sure the answer was yes! Adam rose to his feet, embraced Blanche, and they kissed. The tour group joined the couple’s happiness with a loud round of applause that brought even more inquisitive staff and patrons to the happy scene. --------------------
After the mayhem appeared to be ended, Blanche first ran to the nursery, opened the door, and emerged moments later with her baby. She handed the baby to Harkour and told her to take the baby and go at once for help and she turned her attention to Topsy. Blanche knelt on the floor beside her faithful employee and friend and tore off a large piece of her petticoat that she used to put pressure on Topsy’s bleeding shoulder wound. Topsy was still in a daze but she saw that Mrs. Anderson too was bleeding from a deep laceration on her hand and she told Blanche she would be fine and that Blanche should take care of herself.
The Cowboy and the Indians
Emma sarcastically commented that this was the first time she had ever heard her husband mention their children in the same sentence with his sacred and pampered long horn cattle.
Whitby’s chuckle started to turn into laughter until he noticed by the look on Adam’s face that he was apparently not amused by what Emma had just said.
“My dear Mrs. Keith,” Adam glared, “I promised the man not more than five minutes ago we would both tell the truth and nothing but the truth.”
“Yes, Mr. Keith, " Emma replied matter-of-factly, “you did and I am”. --------------------
“I let out a holler that echoed off of the cliffs and all the way down through the Powder River valley. Emma and the boys backed away a few steps from the teepee and when I looked back at em’, two of the boys had their six-shooters out of their holsters and stood ready to defend themselves from whatever came through that opening. I told them to put their guns away because I was sure what was in that teepee couldn’t cause them harm anymore. Emma anxiously looked at me and asked me what I meant by anymore. …”
Dear Miss Leatherbook
I can still see the look on Gilbert’s face as it turned bright red from his neck to his forehead and in spite of the cold he began to perspire. I think he muttered the words that this was not going to be as easy as he had imagined and then, silence. I think in that silence I could now hear the drops of snow crashing to the ground. I turned to look at Gilbert and waited for him to speak. He slowly bent to a single knee on the snowy porch, looked up at me, and asked, Nancy will you be my wife? --------------------
I am sorry Miss Leatherbook for the tears that are staining your pages but just now I am wondering why God took so many birthdays away from Ben and gave them to me . --------------------
Unfortunately, the spot Gilbert chose for his respite turned out to be smack dab between a mother brown bear and her two cubs. Just as I shouted a warning to him about his predicament I saw Gilbert in a clearing a bit more distant from the wagon. The love of my life showed me two traits that heretofore I was unaware he possessed. The first was the high rate of speed at which he could cover ground when running at a full pace and, the second was his God-given ability to scale a fully mature pine tree; both of which saved the day for all of us. For a short time the mother bear stood sentinel at the base of the tree that Gilbert had chosen for safety, bellowing her displeasure with his untimely intrusion. Eventually the three of them waddled away toward the deep forest and disappeared. A few moments later G. H. ambled back to the wagon, joined us on the buckboard, matter-of-factly told me how much better he felt after his nature stop, slapped the reins on the horses behind, and we proceeded on down the road. I asked him if he was alright after his harrowing encounter and he casually replied that he did not view the act of relieving himself as necessarily harrowing. I just could not contain my laughter. -------------------
He then mumbled something to the effect that I had taken this ancestor thing a bit too far and sat down at the table. About five minutes later I was just about to place his usual breakfast of ham and eggs, over easy, in front of him when Gilbert told me that he was proclaiming an unconditional surrender to my early morning onslaught. I smiled, bent over and kissed him again, and could not resist asking him if he would like some crow to go with his ham and eggs. --------------------
My observations draw me to the Bible passage in Ecclesiastes 9:11, the race is not to the swift. Would I rather reach my destination at 8 miles per hour by a two-horse team and wagon or not reach it at all at 40 miles per hour in an automobile? --------------------
One brief additional note. Much to my chagrin, make that my utter and complete despondency, I am now forced to don spectacles to jot down my thoughts. Clearly, whoever coined the phrase the ayes have it, had not as yet reached an advanced age. --------------------
I caught the man completely unaware when I told him that even though I was not in that particular picture, the caption should read that Mrs. Nancy Keith Bunker chose not to be in the same picture with her husband of 75 years. He turned seven shades of red before I told him I was joking with him. G. H. was so doubled over with laughter I thought I would need to pick him up off of the ground.
The Colonel’s Lady
Much to Father’s pleasure and the dismay of my mother and later my stepmother, I was tomboy. Until the ripe old age of 15, my first year at Mansfield High, the thought of donning a dress in favor of a crusty pair of denim overalls, you know, the kind that can stand by themselves in the corner of the room, was my least favorite choice. --------------------
The rap of a ruler on the knuckles of my right hand brought my attention quickly back to Latin. Mr. Laughton, my Latin teacher, asked me, according to him for the third time, to conjugate the Latin verb for love. Amo, I love, amas, you love, amat, he or she loves, amamus we love, amatis, you all love, amant they love. Mr. Laughton thanked me for rejoining his class and I was grateful for beginning to understand just what these new feelings for Truman might really be.
“We marched up there lookin’ for a pretty big fight. I’d been told that Gettysburg was just a small town at a crossroad but by the time we got there, gall darn, if there wasn’t what looked like every soldier in the whole union army there. The dust was kickin’ up just about as fast as the heat, and I mean to tell you it was scorchin’ hot. With the heat and all that dust there was times I was sure this coulda been a picture of hell itself.” --------------------
“We was in Belle Isle for a couple of months and then they took about a 1,000 of us by train and wagons south to a shanty of a town in Georgia they called Andersonville. If that place was named for some soul known by Anderson, he must’ve been quite a scoundrel ‘cause they warn’t nothing good about that location.” --------------------
“After ridin’ trains, riverboats, wagons, carts, and walkin’ that last mile or so, I got home ‘bout a month after I left the prison camp in Georgia. I walked toward our front door and I had a blanket wrapped around me ‘cause it was the coldest day in a January I ever remember. I knocked on the door and my stepmother Cilla opened it up. She looked me up one side and down t’other and at first she didn’t know who I was. I figure I was about 30 pounds lighter and I had a thick full beard with streaks of ice in it from breathing the cold air and I was shiverin’ somethin’ fierce under that blanket. I heard Daddy ask her from inside who it was and she kinda hemmed and hawed finally tellin’ Daddy it looked like someone who needed some help. I remember askin’ her if I could get in from out of the cold. When she heard my voice, she darn near fainted on the spot and hollered at Daddy that it was Hiram home from the war. “
The Peppermint Candy Soldier
“When I rode up to home my folks was out in the barn doin’ their chores. I carried the flour and sugar to the kitchen and hung my blue jacket on a hook inside the front door with them shiny brass buttons showin’. Then, I climbed the stairs to my room chewin’ on peppermint candy and I sat on my bed waitin’ for the lightnin’ and thunderstorm to roll on in.”--------------------
Once again, a comment echoed from the room,
“Spoken like a cannon jockey who ain’t never had to look down the barrel of a smokin’ reb gun.”
“All right,” Abe said over his shoulder, “I know you think you mud sloppin’ trench diggin’ bayonet boys was the only ones fightin’, but you wasn’t.”
No sooner had Abe’s comment ended there was a reply,
“As bad as you ball throwers aimed, we might as well have been.”--------------------
“I met my Catherine one afternoon in Mansfield a month or two after I got back from the war. She was doin’ some sewin' work there and I took my uniform in to have a couple of big holes repaired before momma put it away in the cedar chest. When I walked in the tailor shop and told the clerk what I needed done, he took my uniform to the back room and he came back shortly with the prettiest young gal I ever seen. She told me her name was Catherine Allender and that she had a couple of questions for me. I don’t recall what the questions was, but I surely remember the way she looked at that uniform and me. Why, ‘twas like she’d never seen a soldier boy before. She told me she could have the work done in a couple of days and I could come back and pick it up then. I was lookin’ so close at her that I stumbled on my words and I said I’d surely be back to pick her up again soon. I remember her sweet laugh and her sayin’ that when I came back to pick her up, she’d likely have my uniform with her and it’d be ready to go too.”
Five Sons, Five Soldiers
Lillie Terman is an energetic woman known about town as Mansfield’s gossip queen and that, coupled with a particular gift for gab, made her somewhat tiring company outside of her small but loyal group of friends. --------------------
After this news I was sure that I heard our car in the garage heave a huge sigh of relief for not having to lug the two of us on a round-trip of 180 miles. I also thought about buying a new car that would replace that back-talking backfiring heap of junk and how Mr. Ford’s company had not done well by us with this particular machine. The word lemon abruptly ended my thoughts on the subject. ------------
Katherine smiled and added, “Your parents had five sons and they were all,” emphasizing the word all, ”in the Union Army. I’ll bet Mr. Lincoln would not have been happy man.”
Joseph just laughed and responded, “I guess what he didn’t know couldn’t have hurt him none.”
Katherine’s face donned a smirky smile that experience told me meant that she thought President Lincoln should have known that all five Newton boys were in his army. --------------------
James then added a second rose to his mother’s final resting place and we all stood perfectly still as Katherine bowed her head and began saying the Lord’s Prayer, and we joined her. After we finished, Joseph looked up just as a bright-red male cardinal joined his mate on a lower branch of the nearby cedar tree. He pointed to the cardinal pair and whispered aloud.
“Adeline, look there, I’ll be with you soon.”
“You know Fannie, since I was reared a poor farmer’s daughter who was educated only through the 12th grade in a one-room school house, I’m always nervous when I meet new people.”
Only two-thirds of what Katherine just said was true, she relished the idea of meeting and greeting new people. On this occasion her words mirrored what she sensed with the mannerisms of her newest friend, hoping she could get Fannie to loosen her corset a bit. --------------------
We were both struck by the bold colors of the blue bar over the red and white stripes symbolizing the American flag and the gold eagle above a five-pointed gold star that depicted lady liberty vanquishing the enemy. In many ways it was more eloquent than the medal currently in use. --------------------
A picture of Fannie’s childhood was slowly emerging. While most children refer to their father as dad, daddy, pa, or papa, Fannie always used the word father, however, her mother was momma. I envisioned her father as a man with a military-precise demeanor, treating his family not unlike a corporal treated his platoon. Yet, when it came to providing economic and lovingly nurturing support for a family, as opposed to the war-hardened leadership of a platoon, he was completely adrift at sea. I could not count the number of times I had seen this illogical behavior in my military career. I knew it was the result of a man who believed he could not function without a precise set of rules and orders. I told Fannie that I guessed her father could handle the matters of the mind but not necessarily those of the heart. -------------
“Back in the living room, Katherine told me that she and Fannie had just finished a brief discussion about Fannie’s grandmother’s first name, Kerenhappuch, and Katherine asked if I knew the origin of that name. I asked if this was a test of some sort and Fannie said that no, neither she nor my wife knew of the name. Hooray, I said to myself, my time to shine.
“I am by no stretch of the imagination a biblical scholar, but I believe that Job had three daughters he named Jemima, Keziah, and Kerenhappuch. Do either of you know if your grandmother had sisters named Jemima and Keziah?”
Katherine looked at me as if I was from another planet while Fannie frantically waved her hand in the air pretending she was a school student who wished to be called on by the teacher for the answer. Smiling like a Cheshire cat at Katherine, I turned to Fannie,
“Yes, Mrs. Cosby“, I said, using my best imitation of an authoritative teacher’s voice, “do you know the correct answer?”
“Yes she did!” Fannie blurted out with utter glee, “she most certainly did.”
“Problem solved,” I responded.
Fannie laughed aloud and I maintained my smug smile in spite of knowing that Katherine would not go gentle into that good night.
“Well Colonel Truman,” Katherine said, mocking indignity, “it appears as though you have a knowledge of literally biblical proportions that heretofore has escaped my direct attention”.
He Rode a Fast Horse
“We crossed the worst part of the desert during the month of August and at times the heat was more than a man or beast could bear. For a couple of weeks we traveled by the light of the moon and the stars and rested during the day. My favorite restin’ spot on those days was smack dab under the water barrel on the side of our wagon. Every once in a while a drop or two of water would hit my forehead and I day-dreamed that I was sittin’ in the middle of an icy cold spring-fed stream with water splashin’ all over me.”--------------------
“I recall on at least three occasions an Indian scouting party came around to see what we were up to. Bridger and his Indian guides always met them before they got to the wagon train and there were some trinkets that changed hands. One time a scouting party spent the night with us and showed us their bows and arrows, which seemed peculiar to me since I noticed that some of ‘em had muskets tied to their ponies. Me and the boys speculated that maybe Bridger knew more than he was sayin’ and that maybe the Indians had been put up to comin’ around to give us some entertainment along the lonely trail. I guess the answer to your question, after goin’ the long way around the barn to tell it, is that we didn’t have any trouble to speak of with the Indians.”--------------------
“After dinner, we’d go around to the nearby campfires and listen to a banjo, a mouth harp, or a harmonica tune. When the fiddle player about 10 wagons down was feelin’ up to it, we always made a point of goin’ in that direction to hear her play. I swear she could play up a storm on that fiddle, while nursing her baby, and never missed a note or played the same tune twice.” --------------------
“Ol’ Joe was as serious as a heart attack about those big bags and not a one of us even smiled at the time he said it. That’s just how green, gullible, and wet behind the ears we all were.”--------------------
“I still clearly remember the three hand drawn posters hangin’ just inside the general store tent. The first one was titled,
This here’s what you need if you’re a LOOKIN FOR GOLD.
Below the title was a long list of the needed mining and food supplies showing the cost of each item. The second,
This here’s what you need if you THINK you done FOUND GOLD.
Only three items were listed, a loaded six-shooter, a box full of lead bullets, and the printed directions to the claim office and the assay office. The last poster,
This here’s what you need if you FOUND GOLD.
Only one short sentence appeared; a real fast horse to git you out-of-town quick!”
Hayes chuckled and Peter quickly added, “That’s exactly what me and the boys did when we read those posters, until we found out later that it was some of the best advice we ever got!”--------------------
“After some minin’ in early spring we thought it best to get a legal claim filed for our camp and we made our way down to Sacramento and got that done. We had to come up with a name for our claim and we all decided the Mudville Mine would properly describe its current condition yet not in the least describe its current level of productivity. By the early summer of 1851, I will merely say that there was cautious and concealed joy at Mudville. By mid-summer we all decided it was time to abandon the mine and to go our separate ways promising to stay in touch as best we could with each other’s whereabouts and happenings.”
Hayes asked Peter if he could share a few more details about the success of the mine. Peter smiled ever so slightly.
“Mr. Hayes, I can only say with certainty that I rode a fast horse!”
The Gilded Edge
Before George slapped the horses with the reins to git up, John handed the shawl up to Tilla on the buckboard saying that the garment would never forgive him if it weren’t allowed to be on the shoulders of such an attractive young woman. --------------------
The Harding’s coach arrived on Main Street in Deadwood late in the afternoon of August 2, 1876, amidst an uproar that seemed to engulf the entire camp. While Tilla helped Minnie and Madge from the coach, John overheard two nearby townspeople talking to one another about a shooting that had taken place earlier that afternoon apparently just down the street at a saloon and gambling hall called the #10 Saloon. By now John had grown accustomed to the fact that towns such as Diamond City and, he assumed, Deadwood, were the sites of all manner of disagreements that often ended in some sort of gun play. He wondered aloud to Tilla why this particular incident drew such a stir. He approached the pair of locals telling them that he and his family had just arrived in town from the Montana Territory and he wanted to know the reason for all of the commotion. The taller of the two men told John that Wild Bill Hickok had been playing cards over at the #10 and some fella snuck up behind him and shot him dead.
One of the store’s regular customers was the well-known one-time sweetheart of Wild Bill’s, Martha Jane Cannary Burke, better known as Calamity Jane. Jane’s reputation was only a step or two below that of the late Mr. Hickok. She was a dead shot, a horsewoman extraordinaire, a former Indian fighter and scout, and, like Wild Bill, had spent some time with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Tilla learned first-hand that the cigar-smoking Jane, whose reputation had been cemented by demonstrating her ability to do anything a man could and better, including wearing men’s clothing, had a softer side. She was known on occasion to frequent Deadwood’s various social events dressed as a thoroughly refined and attractive woman. --------------------
A number of miners, even those with families, were housed in scrap-wood shanties that provided nowhere near sufficient shelter from the harsh winds and sub-zero temperatures of that winter. Many of these people abandoned their claims and left the camp just in order to survive, others found some temporary shelter in more substantial quarters with friends and neighbors, and others, with neither option available, just curled up in a corner and froze to death.
Disease, particularly influenza and pneumonia, added to the agony of an already rising death toll. Two of the victims of pneumonia were sadly two daughters of John and Tilla. Ten-year-old Maude was the first to pass away on the 11th of November 1883, followed three days later by 5 year-old May. Had it not been for the heroics of Tilla, the Harding’s oldest daughter Minnie, and the family doctor, John could just have easily succumbed to the deadly disease. True to the grit and determination of a frontier woman, Tilla stoically shed no tears during the long winter’s agonizing ordeal. However, when she saw a robin perched in a live-oak tree in their backyard signaling the coming spring, she fell to her knees and thankfully unleashed months of pent up tears. Two years later, as if God was atoning for putting the Harding family through those merciless winter events, Tilla gave birth to a new life, their healthy daughter Madge. --------------------
Her face betrayed the hint of a loving smile as she fondly recalled to herself the struggles and successes of their life together. She also knew in her heart that John would be the first to say that he had lived a full and fulfilling life and that it was now time to rest. Tilla stepped forward and placed a single red rose on her husband’s coffin, then she looked up and around at all of their many friends in attendance and asked them in the loudest voice she could muster, to give a hearty round of applause and a hurrah to J. A. Harding for a job well done. Tilla starting clapping and she was soon joined by a crescendo of resounding applause and hurrah’s echoing from the forested hillside. At no time during the day did anyone pay any particular attention to the predominantly pink woolen shawl Tilla proudly wore around her shoulders.
The Mysterious Mr. Strath
I know that all of us have spent much time fishing and frolicking on the beaches of Lake Erie, however, that experience did not adequately prepare me for my time on the ferry across the waters of Lake Manitoba. Firstly, I must admit the physical appearance of the steamboat did not evoke much confidence in me as to its seaworthiness. I carefully avoided looking closely at the prolifically rusty seams in the iron hull that were obviously missing many more than a few rivets. Secondly, the crew of the boat, who did prove to be able seamen, was, at first glance, a motley group that could have leapt on to the ferry directly from a pirate ship. Lastly, there was the incessant rocking. On more than one occasion the tops of the lake’s waves exceeded the height of the boat’s railings and I was heaved back and forth much like a rag doll in the hands of a small child. I was dumbfounded then thankful to God when, at one point, a member of the crew asked me how I liked the trip thus far since the lake was as smooth as he had ever seen it for this time of year. --------------------
The arrival of the ferry, especially the first one of the new year, was always a cause for celebration because no one knew for sure what it would bring. The abbreviated ferry schedule for Norway House began in June and ended in September. The rest of the year the mission was only reachable by dog sled and unless there was an emergency of some sort, Norway House usually saw one or, at most, two sleds each week. The first ferry would, for sure, bring a bevy of supplies including food, books, toys, mail, and perhaps a new face or two. The entire mission community, including Rose, gathered at the pier as the ferry approached and she saw there was indeed a new face aboard the arriving steamer. ----------------
Ronald walked each day about a mile from the apartment to his work at the British government building in downtown Winnipeg. He climbed three flights of marble stairs to his small windowless office inconspicuously located in a back room adjacent to the large government library. When he arrived each morning, he unlocked the door, turned on the light and on the corner of his desk was a neatly stacked pile of folders. During the work day, Ronald opened each folder, read each page and examined each photograph one-by-one. He wrote meticulous notes about their content then entered the notes using the keyboard of a machine that looked like a small version of a typewriter. By the end of the day all of the folders were neatly stacked on the opposite corner of the desk, Ronald carefully placed the typewritten papers in a small safe mounted in the wall, turned off the office light, locked the door securely behind him, and eagerly made the return trip back to the apartment and his loving family. ------
The house in Fergus Falls was everything Ronald described it to be, and so much more. The three-story Victorian style home, once owned by the community’s most revered banker, had five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large formal dining room, a cupboard lined kitchen, and an even larger living room with a huge brick and stone fireplace. Last but not least, it even had indoor plumbing! Rose was sure her new home could match any palace England had to offer. Ronald just stood at the front door grinning from ear-to-ear as a very pregnant Rose, holding baby Helen, and the rest of the children paraded through the front door squealing with delight once inside their cavernous new home. Rose thought to herself that it just could not get any better than this. When Ronald joined her inside, she adoringly looked up at him and said Mr. Strath, you have come such a long way and I am so glad I am on the journey with you. ----------------
Rose clearly remembered the vow she had made to Ronald and she did not hesitate in deciding to take the family at once to her parent’s home. In February of 1904, Ronald tenderly kissed his wife and children at the Fergus Falls train station and put them on a train that would take them to Hamilton then by carriage to her parent’s home in Copenhagen. The steam bellowed from the train as it pulled slowly away from the station and from the half-opened window of Rose’s compartment she was sure that Ronald did not hear her tell him that she loved him, to be safe, and to hurry home. This day would be the last time she would ever see her beloved husband. --------------------
Armed with just about any document he needed to have, Ronald emerged again in 1931 as Dr. A. E. R. [Alexander Edmund Ronald] Strath-Gordon. His impressive new resume described him as graduate of Cambridge University in England with highest honors, a medical degree from the prestigious Edinburgh College of Medicine in Scotland, a decorated veteran of the Boer War and World War I from 1914 to 1918 serving as an army doctor in France and rising to the rank of colonel. The resume continued. He was a world renowned expert on Atlantis and the great pyramids, a 33rd degree mason and world traveler who had mastered over 30 languages, including Sanskrit, and he was a nephew of Sir Robert Gordon, who had sold his estate, Balmoral Castle in Scotland, to England’s Queen Victoria. -------
Ronald once told Ellen that he had faithfully fulfilled the early advice his father had given him, do what you must to gain the success you were born to have. He added that as a result of his decisions he had indeed enjoyed his professional successes but, in that process, he had miserably failed in his duties to his children and their mother and for that reason alone he believed he deserved to be forever vanquished through the gates of hell. After Ronald’s death, Ellen made a point of personally sharing his words with his four living children.
Four soldiers describe their struggles to survive the bloody battles of the Civil War. One tells of his ordeals at the infamous Confederate stockade at Andersonville, and another soldier’s heroism that garnered him America’s highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor. A hidden diary chronicles the lives of a couple married for over 75 years; a truly extraordinary love story.
Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are featured in a story about a successful merchant and his family living in the early wild and wooly days of the boomtown, Deadwood City, Dakota Territory. A young married couple live and work for a time on the frozen tundra of northern Manitoba Canada. When they return to civilization, she sees her life, and the lives of their five young children, unraveled by a husband drawn to mysticism, the occult, and an even darker well-kept secret occupation.
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