About the Blog

About Kathleen Ernst’s  Sites and Stories Blog:

Interpreters at historic sites tell stories.  Authors tell stories.  Sometimes the two intersect.

I grew up in Maryland, surrounded by books.  My mother was a librarian, and my father and sisters all avid readers.  Before going on vacation, my mom would bring home historical fiction about whatever area or historic site we planned to visit.  We visited lots of historic sites and museums while I was growing up.  Obviously all of that made an impression on me.

Way back when, I majored in forestry and environmental education at West Virginia University, with a lot of creative writing and history tossed in.  The mix perplexed my advisor, but made sense to me.  I love books that have a strong sense of place.  When I think about history, or historical fiction, I like to consider people within their natural environment.  When I’m doing research for a new novel, the first thing I do is search for relevant historic sites.

I created this blog as a gathering place for thoughts about historic sites and outdoor museums, interpretation, fiction… whatever might fall within those loose parameters.   I hope you visit often!

6 Responses to “About the Blog”

  1. Eileen Musser Says:


    In your research on Antietam how did you find information on civilians in the area? My dad tells me that great great grandfather Helfrick was killed at Antietam, but i don’t know if he was a soldier or a civilian. Our family has been in the Brethren in Christ Church which has historical ties to the Dunkers, so it is possible that he had attended services.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hello Eileen,

      I spent a lot of years piecing together little scraps of information from a variety of sources in order to write Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign. The name Helfrick doesn’t ring a bell. Do you live near Western Maryland? You could likely find information at either the Antietam National Battlefield itself, or at the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Library in Hagerstown. I’ve been working on new projects for a while now, so I’m not sure what new sources of information might have turned up since my book came out, but experts in either place can probably point you in the right direction. Good luck with your search!

  2. Sue Curran Says:

    Kathleen, I can’t wait to read the latest about New Glarus. As you know, it’s just a short drive from me and we visit often. Also, thanks for the shoutout to Cheese Days. See you on the 27th at BFM.

  3. Eileen Musser Says:

    Much to my surprise some of the records that I have seen since I asked about civil war records make me think that my ancestor may have been in the army but deserted. It doesn’t seem to be uncommon for young men to have walked away after signing up.
    If the family knew he had enlisted but he didn’t come home they may have assumed (or decided to adopt the story) that he was killed.

  4. Kathleen Ernst Says:

    What a fascinating story! It’s things like that found when I do research that often prompt me to write novels. Some tantalizing tidbit comes to light, but since I’ll never know all the details…I end up filling in the blanks myself. Thanks for checking back and letting me know what you found.

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