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Historical Novels -Bobi Andrews

Thursday, April 28, 2016

2,097,162 Grandparents

Someone (not me) figured out in twenty-two generations  you would have had 2,097,152 grandparents in your line.  Not even going to bother to count the collateral kin at an average of three-per children per family or those that we are "sort of" related to, the latter being related by the ancestors of marriage partners.   Makes my database of nineteen thousand  kin a mere pittance. 

With the Kin number being huge, what's the odds  you are related to the person next to you, or across the bridge table. Not great, you say.  Well, maybe you might be.   

I belong to a table of bridge players that meets weekly at a local church.  We've been playing for nearly a year before I realized that one of the players has a last name of Rees.  For some reason a light bulb went off and I asked whether or not his Rees kin were Quakers. 

Nope.  Texans to the core.  Tennesseans before that.  Family believed to have originated back in Wales.   Wales was common ground.

Tracing whether we still might be cousins, my bridge comrade supplied four generations of Rees ancestors. His second great grandfather, John Bartlett Rees, married Henrietta Lowrance.  Ah, a second light bulb blazed brightly. I had Lowrances in my database.  

I had thought my Rees ancestors were all related to my Ellis line of Wales Quakers.  But the coincidence of names still bothered me, so I looked them up again in my database.  Lo, I had collateral Lowrance ancestors from my Sherrill ancestors (not Quakers).  Four of the children of William A. Sherrill, my sixth great grandfather,  married Lowrances. These Lowrances had kin tied to Daniel Lowrance, Henrietta's father.   I was beginning to feel "cousinly" to Henrietta. 

But the connections got stranger  than that when I traced Henrietta back through her kin.

To make the story of this search much shorter, through the Sherrills, I am additionally (sort of) related to the Great Grandfather of Henrietta Lowance's brother's wife.  Goes like this: 

            Henrietta's father was Daniel Lowrance.

            His son and her brother Peter Lowrance married Elizabeth Bridges

            Elizabeth's father, John Bridges, married Margaret Perkins

            Margaret Perkins' father Elijah Perkins married Margaret Sherrill

            Margaret Sherrill was the daughter of William Sherrill (the famed  Conestoga Fur Trader)

            William Sherrill was the father of William A. Sherrill my sixth G Grandfather**

Ain't genealogy interesting?  You may never know, but maybe the woman who's unloading her shopping cart ahead of you at the grocery story is your cousin. You might find truth is stranger than fiction.   


**William A. and Agnes White Sherrill were the parents of Sarah Sherrill Simpson in my historical novel "Dear Mama, Love Sarah."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Genius or Not-- My Battle with IT

Am I a genius or not?  With my new garage door confused and dead in the water (no up.  no down), I got out the instruction book and read 40 pages of stuff.  I checked the circuit breaker box and then went out and bought both LED and Halogen light bulbs (thinking the old ones may have burned out), got out the ladder and fiddled with the 
engage/disengage lever--all to no avail.  Was about to call Lowes and get an installer/repair guy ($100.00 or so) to come out, when I thought I'd try my old tried and true method I use for resetting my TV.  I simply went to the outlet and pulled the plug.  Then I waited five minutes and then plugged it in again.  Voila!  Garage door got unconfused and engaged.  It's now working perfectly.  That and finger-crossing that it continues to work, is a sure sign of genius in my book!*;) winking
(See previous April 1 blog)  Genius = 1     IT = 0

Saturday, April 23, 2016


A Satire 

Somehow we are more like the animal world than we like to think we are.  Assisting us in our quest to connect disparate events or circumstances, words in the English language can mean many different things. As a writer, this vast flexibility of words is an invite for satire (or maybe more accurate) questionable humor. Because I like to think like the dictionary--I'll call mine, Trenchant Wit. 

For example earlier this spring when cleaning the Koi pond we found a very large frog (Big Frog)  mired in the sludge of leaves and mud at the bottom of the pond.  When holding him up, the frog, from head tip to forked toe, reached from Tony's shoulders to his belly. Sometime during the flurry of draining and cleaning the pond, Big Frog disappeared.   

A week later as a proud owner of a clean pond, I went to the Water Gardens and got seven small bright Koi so I could watch from my dining room window the orange slivers skirting back and forth across the pond.  All was well, until when checking the pond each morning, I first could only find five, then three and then zero Koi.   Furious Internet research led me to the indisputable assertion that frogs eat anything they can get their mouth around. (Aha, a satire in the making or maybe a big dinner.)
"Big Frog!" I shouted. "You scoundrel.  You ate my Koi."  

Dumb-blasted angry, I headed for my computer.  At my request, Rose (my well-known sister and frequent collaborator in my blogs) sent me a wallpaper picture of frogs.  WOW, one of them caught my eye--the one with a snarky smirk and big mouth.  I quickly got distracted.  My anger abated.  I don't know about the squat and the knees but the snarky smirk and mouth are dead ringers for Our Candidate, don't you think?   


Watch FOX News any day, any time (24/7) and you'll see an appropriate likeness of  Our Candidate from which to make your comparison. But the similarity doesn't end with the snarky smirk. Not when you're writing trenchant wit.  

For instance, doesn't Our Candidate eat  his enemies alive?  A little mud and sludge doesn't bother him. He certainly causes mayhem in the Republican party and a possibility of victorious dessert for the Democrats on election eve. Big Frog is loud all night long. Our Candidate is strong competition both night and day for the same honor.  
Big Frog insists on fairness and boasts he's a good fellow, but the Koi didn't think so.  Although a hundred percent of them voted against him, he ate them all.  No regrets.  No pausing to sneeze or burp.  Our Candidate has his share of naysayers, but argues he has more ayesayers than his rivals.

The big question?   Will he eat his way to the White House?   

We'll have to wait and see what's for dinner at the Cleveland Convention. 

Courtesy of Rose Nuernberger
 Still looks like Our Candidate!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

OH, My. A Pileated Woodpecker

Source:  David Margrave.  Http//
After the storm this morning, I checked from my window to see if any more limbs had fallen into my pond from my neighbor's dead tree.  OMG at the top of the dead tree was a Pileated Woodpecker. I hadn't seen one of those for over fifteen or twenty years, the last when we still lived at Valley Lodge in Simonton. 

He's a spectacular big fellow and his red head tuff rises as he pecks into a trunk.  A yellow streak outlines the red and black surrounding his eyes.   My bird book shows that we live at the western most edge of his territories (which are mostly in the eastern half of the United States.) Because of his size, the holes he excavates are large and are sometimes used by other birds seeking refuge.

He flew away.  I hope he comes back!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


"I saw a bushy-tailed squirrel climb a tree."
"Squirrels rob bird feeders."
"Squirrels build nests (dreys) of blobs of leaves and twigs high in the trees."
"Squirrels jump amazing distances."
"Squirrels dash across the street, some barely making it; others becoming road kill."
"Squirrels love Skippy peanut butter and believe any nut is a good nut."

                 Okay, Okay, that's enough to know about squirrels.

But maybe not.

There is debate and folklore as to the origins of the species we call squirrels, sometimes in earlier periods called skwerls, (Hey, nothing wrong with that.  We teach kiddos to spell with phonics, but in this case, the phonics is reversed--skwerls appeared before squirrels). Either term is much easier to deal with than earlier Latin and Greek pronunciations. Most may say squirrels, like all living matter, originated from ooze fifty or fifty five million years ago.  But the Chinese, the self-claimed originators of most of what has evolved into modern technology, say they have evidence of squirrels (i.e. their divine beasts) in the northeastern sections of China two hundred million years ago.  Some say they were created by God, others swear they "evolved."  (Where else do we hear evolution arguments?)  Some colloquially called them Chitterboxes (and don't we humans have chitterboxes?)   Although humans are known to say that someone is acting "squirrel-ly," I'll not go further into human-squirrel comparisons.

The "outerspace" origination theory has its followers as do those who think there exists Biblical references relating squirrels to everlasting life.  Englishmen imported for their fashionable estates the gray squirrel only to find out the gray squirrel holds a grudge against the red squirrel and obliterated them. In early America, squirrels lived by the thousands.  But strange to most, may be learning they were a vital economic factor. 

Let me tell you a little more personal historical fact about our ancestors' squirrel economy. 

FifthGreatGrandfather, Mordecai Ellis, lived in Clinton, Ohio.  He had a number of sons and was known as an expert on good horses, often called upon to value horses for inheritance purposes or determine the worth of a stray horse. He . . .. 

 (Oops, must get back to squirrels).  Well, back then, cash was dear-- there simply was not the where-with-all to carry on business with hard cash.  They could make their own soap, grow vegetables, slaughter beef, but not raise nails.  Plus one of the  Mordecai's farming  hardships was preserving his crops against hordes of four-footed predators (damnable squirrels).  Not unlike what today's politician would do, he and his neighbors devised a way of providing buying power by the "bounty" system (a system that worked like grandma's way of killing two birds with one stone--see supper later).  

Taxes didn't mean anything because there was no coin with which to pay; however, squirrel pelts were tangible and easily understood whether the bargaining settlers could read or write. "I'll sell you my horse for twenty squirrel pelts."  Simple, huh?

Another frontier vital, not to be taken lightly, was that young boys learned to shoot by hunting squirrels (not shooting bottles sitting on a stump.  Smart they were--a broken bottle, even if they ever had bottles--had no value, the pelt of the squirrel did).  

Note to reader:  Need to mention here grandma's fried squirrel or squirrel pie, her staples for supper with cornbread and buttermilk.

Also, there was a factor of  competitive sport involved.   Anytime after the age of nine, a  life-long hunter's goal was to learn to "bark" a squirrel.(Not to be confused with Hillary Clinton's famous election bark of 2016).

 "Ahem," you clear your throat and give me a Democrat snivel. I catch the irritation and respond, "Let us not regress to current politics. I shall continue. The purpose was not to scare the squirrel with an arf, arf like a dog, but to shoot him or her (You cough this time. Another interruption?) "Am I being too politically correct? But I must argue it could have been a she-squirrel. Oh, you were reminding me to continue?"  I nod again in agreement. "Okay. Of course. I was saying shoot the squirrel climbing a tree between its belly and the tree bark."

Competition among the settlers was stiff and disbelievers rife.  Success was only sanctioned and credit given when bark flew and the squirrel continued to scamper up the tree.  Misfired shots became supper.  Annie Oakley, and Bonnie Kate Sherrill of my historical stories, could "out bark" any of the boys and men who challenged them.

Modern Squirrels in the Nuernberger and Andrews  Homesteads

No malice of any kind against squirrels is known to exist in either Rose or Bobi's families.  The yard favorites are not hunted and enjoy being nature-loved for their backyard antics. We see little "dug out" turfs of grass and dirt as evidence squirrels hunted there for hidden seeds or nuts. The accomplishment here is that they even remembered where they had buried their stash.  Bobi has lantana bushes and a mimosa tree that have grown from seeds planted by squirrels.  The latest at her house is a perfectly peeled lemon laying on the ground under a tree with no bird pecks or bites taken.  A mystery until learning that squirrels eat fruit.  Perhaps my peeled, but uneaten, lemon was a squirrel's mistaken identity for some sweet fruit like an apple.   

Nightly, we hear their patter on the roof as they go from the pecan tree on the side of the house to the red maple tree near the bird feeder.  Our aerial acrobats jump from the very tip of a swaying branch to the roof and then hang upside down to fleece the birdfeeder of sunflower seeds. 

Now speaking of sunflower seeds--that's the second purpose of this essay:  Rose's sunflowers and squirrels caught on camera. This phenomenon occurred in Hinsdale, Illinois where she and Ken had  huge, tall sunflowers growing near a window.  The height of the sunflowers was at least ten feet, leaves huge, and the flower as big as a market basket. When the sunflowers seeded, here's what followed.

As I think of these  crafty fellows, I wonder what else abounds before our very eyes that we think we know enough about, only to learn we know so little. 

"Raise your glass with me to toast our remarkable squirrels. May their beds be soft and their tummies full of sunflower seeds."  

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bitter Almonds--a Book Reviewed

As an author, I read many books from all the genres.  Most I enjoy and a few I find too good to not share.  Such is "Bitter Almonds."  I am pleased to post my review and urge you to add it to your bookshelf.

The author of this exemplary book has a unique way of connecting with the wider world bringing to the reader an intimate story of a family facing the drama of living in a torn country, experiencing the love-hate relationships within the close-knit family of Mama Subhia and Uncle Mustafa, yet sentimental when both Omar and his best friend Marwan fall in love with Nadia, the beautiful daughter. Struggling in their efforts to resolve the conflict, traditional customs require patience and sacrifice. This is a story of a family where greed, selfishness, and intrigue, as well as deep love and affection, cross cultural lines and will be recognized by all as universal. My favorite character is Huda and you'll have to read the book to determine why.  

This is an important book not only from the intriguing story but written at a time when understanding within multicultures is pivital to achieving harmony and peace in our time.   

Friday, April 15, 2016


You all know I write Historical Fiction based on interesting people that I uncovered when doing my family genealogy.  Since you'd have to be kin or know my kin, there's small odds anyone else would beat me to the story.  Well-l-l.  Not necessarily the case!  Judge Hugo C. Songer published an excellent Purty Old Tom Montgomery book in 2009. 

My next story was to be about Purty Old Tom Montgomery. He's my fourth great grandfather who was quite well known in Virginia, Kentucky,  and Indiana back in the mid 1700's early 1800's.  He descended from notable ancestors from Normandy and Britain, maybe going back to Roger Montgomerie's association with William the Conqueror.

This Indian fighter and frontiersman caught my eye because he is primarily remembered for his good looks--tall, dark hair and fit as a fiddle with spectacular features and physique.  Gifted with incredible stamina  and courage, he was also a sharpshooter with a rifle.    

When  a boy of twelve, he stood at the door of his cabin protecting his mother and siblings during an Indian raid.  It is reported he wounded an attacking Indian who later died.  When asked why, he said,  "It was foight or doi."  He married Mattie Crockett (cousin to Davy) and they reared a number of sons and daughters while living in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Mattie died and the restless, heartbroken Indian fighter found himself in an entanglement over the validity of his land title. He decided the West was his destiny.  The Indiana Territory in particular. 

First, Old Purty on his own scouted the area (now Gibson County, Indiana) for a suitable place to settle his family.  He marked a tree with a hatchet and headed home.  Gathering most of his family together, a few personal slaves, and his dogs, they walked from Kentucky to Indiana only to find someone else had taken the land he had marked with the hatchet.  But never mind.  You could almost count the existing settlers on two hands and one foot.  He settled near Owensville.  Somewhere during a stop on his first trip to Indiana, he met Caroline Anderson and their association became memorable for both.  Later,  she arrived in Indiana with the part of her family who had chosen to immigrate West. Speculation has it that her heart was set on Owensville. What isn't speculation is that she and the widower, Old Purty, married.   

Tall in his saddle, he became a leader of the settlement and most likely the one to be in the middle of  the skirmishes when Indians raided.  There is some speculation--hearsay, no proven fact--that the 102 deer he's credited killing near the Black River may have been Indians rather than deer.  In the heat of battle, his companions on several occasions thought Old Purty had met his match and been killed by pursuing Indians.  Not to be.  One of his comrades called to the others, "War't you know it. I'll be damned.  I'd know that gun anytime."  The horse and rider seen racing through the woods and splashing across the creek was no other than the escaping Old Purty.   

Folklore has it that well past his mid-years, Old Purty enlisted as an active recruit and walked to the Battle of Tippecanoe. At age seventy four, he is said to have walked to Princeton and carried a large anvil around the courthouse with ease. 

As civilization grew, Purty's twin sons, Tom and Isaac, vied for the state legislature, Isaac winning.  His daughters and granddaughters married into the Skelton (remember Red Skelton) and Warrick families.  

His historical credentials are numerable and pristine. He served under George Rogers Clark defending frontier forts, protected his family and neighbors during Indian massacres, and more formally, was a notable fighter in the Battle of Tippecanoe with William Henry Harrison. The wilderness road and early settlements like Boonesboro were personal to him.  

The history of this remarkable man is well documented in the book The Buffalo Trace to Tippecanoe written by (Judge) Hugo C. Songer  (c. 2009).   You don't need Montgomery or Warrick blood flowing through your veins to appreciate and enjoy Old Purty. 
                     MY MONTGOMERY ANCESTRY

Thomas (Old Purty) Montgomery 1748-1818 - Martha (Mattie) Crockett 1749-1796
(Little) Thomas Montgomery 1776-1847 - Elizabeth (Betsy) Warrick 1778-1817
Moses Montgomery 1804-1846 - Elizabeth Jones 1801-1893
James Montgomery 1843-1921 - Susan Lourena Holland 1846-1905
Minnie Montgomery 1868-1940 - Charles Jefferson Ellis 1868-1942
Wesley Leland Ellis 1904-1978 - Mary Rosetta Owens 1901-1976
            Barbara  (Bobi)  Ellis Andrews (1935 - )
Minnie Montgomery w/ Wesley Leland Ellis
James Montgomery


James Montgomery Family 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Sometimes we have to pause and look and listen to what nature provides.  The population calling my backyard home are fifteen different bird species, butterflies, Koi, one very large bullfrog and his grandchildren, squirrels getting fatter by the minute from the bird feeder, chameleons puffing pink throats, bumble bees on a mission, and blue and red dragonflies tipping and dipping above the pond.  The sentry in charge is Schnauzer-Scooter who drinks from the pond more than guards. 
(Thanks to Rose Nuernberger for graphics enhancements.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


I  am eating a thin, very small almond crisp that is very good, although a bit pricey for a dozen.  They even call them addictive (and they are). However, in the baking most have large holes, some the size of a quarter in the middle of them--like bubbles burst while baking. They don't give discounts for the holes. We pay for them.
Take a moment and just think about collective addicts like us paying for a quarter size hole in 100,000 crisps and the sizeable bonanza this brings to the company. Now at 30 cents per crisp, they can make many more crisps earning them thousands of extra $$'s using the dough that would have filled the holes. 
Can't help but be reminded of the contrast with our worries of taxes paying for millions of government spending, while we hardly notice hidden holes in almond crisps.  (Also, in this case, there may be the issue of deceptive advertising. The pictures of the crisps on the box do not show holes.)  
Perhaps there is a parallel as to why the government is lacking the ability to find their excesses in government spending. One wonders, how many holes we pay for?  Maybe they need to hire heavy, economic "thinkers" like me.  Or maybe I should go see my neurologist!
I rise from my chair. You ask if I'm on my way to the head doctor?  No.  I'm going to the kitchen and get another crisp. 

P.S.  The crisps with almonds and cranberries are just as good!

Saturday, April 2, 2016


The sky is gray.  Morbidly misty.  Cheerless.  I need a fix.  Colors--reds, blues, greens and yellows.  Then I remember.  Rose's remarkable collages.  This one is my favorite.

My sister, Rose, has a long history with collages having visited nursing homes for over twenty years with her scrapbook projects.  Her ministry caught on with a number of church members and friends contributing church bulletins, cards, calendars, fabrics and their labor to make it possible for her weekly workshops.  Sometimes she had as many as sixty participants all needing the cut cardboard, glue, and arty materials to compose their own posters. She encouraged the participants to add their own titles to their compositions.  

Her use of graphics technology has grown over the years.  I asked her how she went about composing her butterfly (above).   I am pleased to share her experience.  Enjoy and Envy! 
            This will take some explaining to do.  Again, as in many of my projects, they come together almost by coincidence or accident.  I've been working on reorganizing and resorting my multitude of "basement stashes"--mostly things left over from twenty-one years of doing poster boards for four nursing homes. 

            And . . . I am kinda the "catch all" for people who have things  they "hate to throw away." 

            For the butterfly, Joan M. gave me a foot and a half high Mothers Day card that she had received from her children.  It laid kinda sideways in the back of my cabinet for over a year--collecting sawdust and such.  So as I was resorting, the huge card seemed to scream at me, "I've laid around long enough!   Do something with me." 

            Also I have wonderful friends.  Cathy and Renee do a lot of computerized embroidery.  They are generous and keep me supplied 'cuz they know that somehow I'll mix their special items in some kind of far-out project.

            So, from recent gifts, at least thirty embroidery samples (flowers, Santas, teapots and cups, saucers, fairies, birds, etc.) were in a stack on my work table.  Hmmm, I say. . . I really enjoy using their things . . . and then there's this "huge flowery card" staring at me . . . and my brain clicked into . . . "I'll cut the card up, trim the teapots and cups, add my glittery butterflies and ?????" 

Mounted on Cardboard
            So as I finished "composing" I mounted  the above on cardboard.  I took several pictures of it and loaded them into my computer.  After getting it the right size, exposure, contrast and saturation, I used my various computer photo effect programs to form the butterfly by showing the original image first and then watching how the programs can automatically "do their things"--with just a touch of the right keys.  It's fascinating every time.  I used Amazing Edges to high-light the butterfly image.  It can be changed into all different colors and shapes.  I use Image Tricks Lite for some of the effects.  I use Fotor to make many of my frames . . . also Image Framer.

            Since most of the programs do only "one thing", I usually have to use 3-4-5 programs to achieve the finished results.  I also use Fotor for the texting -- or Picaso.
            There are an infinite number of ways that one image can be elaborated upon.  None of the ways are complicated . . . just takes some time. Most of my photo effects apps I have obtained free.  I think I paid less than two dollars for the Amazing Edges app.  I use that program a lot because if my image isn't quite straight (I have much trouble as a photographer)--it may seem straight but the framing programs seem to cause the image to be a bit "kaddy-wampus" and the framing lines don't match my image.  The program covers up in creative ways "my sins."

             My "creative world" has completely changed since I have a digital camera and an iMac computer that has iPhoto multitude of possibilities. Before that, I had never put a film in an old fashioned camera.   So, if I--being quite "un-technically minded" can figure it all out--anybody can.  By trial and error, I find immense satisfaction in what I create.  Of course without all the stashes in my basement, most of the images wouldn't have happened.  

            My head is spinning. I think it best to quit complaining about boring, gloomy days.


(If any readers would like to contact Rose about her ideas, projects and techniques please leave a comment at the bottom of the blog.)  





Friday, April 1, 2016


As I grow older, really older, I find my mind doesn't  want to be my friend.  IT loves to wander.  IT sees no reason to remember where I put the scissors.  IT doesn't think it unreasonable to look blankly into the pantry wondering what I was looking for.  I want to disown IT.  I will swear IT doesn't belong to me when and if I remember.  

But in IT's devilishness I can remember the time sixty years ago in high school when with my first boyfriend,  we drove his jeep up and down shallow creeks splashing water and bumping back and forth against rocks.  I can even remember his name.  How profound has that been in my lifetime? Doesn't match not being able to find my scissors.  I chastise my mind. I must have a heart-to-heart talk with IT.

As a writer, I challenge myself to look each day for something unusual, out of place, or just different.  Today I saw a neighborhood man on a steep -pitched roof, two stories up, with a kitchen broom furiously sweeping stuck-on leaves to the ground (just as if he were sweeping a kitchen floor.) The slope pitch was almost ninety degrees. He wasn't holding on to anything but the broom. It was probably only his faith in a higher being that kept him from falling to his doom. IT easily saw his logic. Foolhearty?  No. Leaves.  Broom. Yes.

To find a useful  purpose for this amazing fete, all I have to do now is to develop somewhere in my story an old ancestral grandma character and put her on a steep roof with a broom, and describe her struggle to sweep the leaves strewn from an overhanging oak tree. Maybe in the background  an old bone dog barks and chickens scratch near the rustic old door held shut with a worn leather-strap latch.  Of course the broom is wheat straw tied to a nubby stick. A fierce gale from the north tumbles her ruffled dust cap to the roof's edge. The suspense grows. I catch my breath fearing her peril.  She reaches.  She loses her footing. The bent figure is sure to fall but for the strings on her apron catching in the nick of time a protruding rock from a crumbling, smoky chimney.  Suddenly, there is a sound of strings tearing.

The chapter ends.
Get the picture?  If so, beware of your IT.  You are a writer!