Why A Memory Of Muskets?

Readers often ask why I chose a particular historic site and theme to feature in a new Chloe Ellefson mystery. It has become tradition to share what I found special in each new book. Here are some of the elements found in the 7th mystery, A Memory of Muskets.


After four adventures away from home Chloe is back at her own site, Old World Wisconsin. I chose in particular to feature the Schulz Farm, which has been restored to its 1860 appearance. This is a fabulous collection of historic buildings, one of my favorite exhibits at Old World. The architecture reflects building styles in Pomerania.

Schulz Farm, Old World Wisconsin

The German Schulz Farm, 2016. If you look closely you’ll see gardeners repairing the woven garden fence, right by the house.

It was also one of the first buildings I ever worked, way back when. Flax processing is one of the major activities at the Schulz Farm. I was so excited to finally learn to weave!

Kathleen Ernst, Schulz Farm, Old World Wisconsin

That’s me weaving linen, 1982.

After delving into Chloe’s background in earlier books, it also felt like a good time to learn about her friend Roelke McKenna’s heritage. The book includes a plotline that shares the story of the first of Roelke’s German ancestors to immigrate to Wisconsin—just as the American Civil War begins.

Bishop & Son, Watertown, WI - KAE

Bishop & Son, Watertown, WI.  (Author’s collection)

Wisconsin has a strong German-American population, and I was pleased with the opportunity to share a bit about that cultural group. A key scene takes place at German Fest, Milwaukee’s huge annual celebration of all things German.

Welcome to German Fest

The book is set in 1983, the year  German-Americans celebrated the tricentennial of German immigration to America.

Version 2

The premise of A Memory of Muskets involves preparations for Old World’s first Civil War reenactment. This was fun because I once was responsible for coordinating Civil War events at the site. Activities often involved the German Schulz Farm. The 3rd Wisconsin Regiment and other top-notch groups presented thematic programs that reflected different aspects of the war on the Wisconsin homefront.

Civil War event, Old World Wisconsin

Reenactors marching through Old World Wisconsin’s Crossroads Village, sometime in the 1990s.

I was a reenactor myself for over a decade. It was a wonderful hobby. I learned a lot, had some amazing experiences, and made some special friends.


Interpreting refugee life in  Tennessee with Sue (L) and Yulanda (R), 1995.

I also met my husband, “Mr. Ernst,” through reenacting. So yes, I have lots of special memories!


We were wearing 1860s attire when we met in the Sanford House driveway at Old World. Two years later we revisited the spot before our period wedding at the site’s restored church. (I’m afraid I don’t recall the name of the tintype artist who took this image.)

In the coming weeks and months I’ll share more detailed behind-the-scenes photos and stories. In the meantime, I hope this serves to pique your interest in Chloe’s latest adventure! Happy reading.

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12 Responses to “Why A Memory Of Muskets?”

  1. Ruth Nelson-Lau Says:

    Yes, you piqued my interest! Can’t wait til my copy arrives. OWW is special to us, too. We visited there on our honeymoon 20 years ago. David Wilder, from the historical foundation, arranged a special day for us in July as we celebrated our anniversary there.

  2. Jen Says:

    Love the photos! That’s a wedding picture you won’t find on Pinterest 😉

  3. Amy Says:

    I loved hearing the story of your wedding at Old World and seeing the picture. My daughter is only 18 but she has dreams of having her wedding on site someday. We have been visiting since 1976 when they first opened. I have really enjoyed reading all of the Chloe books and am looking forward to the newest release.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Thanks, Amy! I look at some of my earliest photos, and the site looks so raw compared to now. Lots of work over the years. I hope your daughter’s dream can come true. We had a magical time at our wedding!

  4. merrylu Says:

    I can’t wait to read about Chloe’s adventures at the Schulz farm!

  5. Brian Robinette Says:

    would you put me on your blog and newsletter

  6. Betty Holty Says:

    I already had Old World Wisconsin on my list of places I want to go and this reminded me! I can’t wait to read the book.

  7. Diana Belchase Says:

    Reblogged this on Book Smart TV and commented:
    Kathleen Ernst’s latest, most fabulous book is finally here. Today she talks about the research that inspired her. Join her for a trip to Wisconsin’s past.

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