Pendarvis – Part 1

November 15, 2017

It’s lovely when readers tell me that after reading one of the Chloe mysteries, they toured the historic site or museum spotlighted in the book. Pendarvis, the site featured in Mining For Justice, the 8th Chloe Ellefson mystery, is a great place to visit!

Pendarvis

For those who aren’t able to make the trip, here’s a mini cyber-tour of the site.  (Warning:  includes mild spoilers.)

Polperro House features unusual architecture.

Pendarvis Historic Site

The lower floor features exhibits of mining equipment.

Pendarvis

A steep flight of steps leads to the upper level, which is furnished to reflect a Cornish immigrant family in the 1830s.

Polperro - Pendarvis

Polperro

Here’s the top of the staircase.

Polperro - Pendarvis Historic Site

Polperro

This house also includes a root cellar dug into the hill behind.

Pendarvis

From there, a walkway leads from Polperro…

Pendarvis Historic Site

to the next houses on the tour, Pendarvis and Trelawny.  Both are traditional stone cottages.

Pendarvis Historic Site

The back door to Pendarvis leads into the kitchen…

Pendarvis house

then on into the parlor/bedroom.

Pendarvis

Looking to the right as you enter the main room.

 

Pendarvis

Looking to the left. The hatch above the bed leads to a crawl space.

The final house on Shake Rag Street, Trelawny, tells the story of Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum, whose efforts to preserve old buildings lead to Pendarvis Historic Site—and launched a preservation ethic in Mineral Point that continues to this day.

Pendarvis Historic Site

The path to Trelawny.

Formal exhibits describe how the men used the buildings.

Trelawney

The photos were taken during the period when the men ran a nationally-renowned restaurant featuring traditional Cornish food.

While other rooms show how the house looked when the men were in residence.

Trelawney

 

I hope this photo tour helps you visualize the action in Mining For Justice. Visit the site website to learn more about visiting Pendarvis yourself.  Visit my website to learn more about the Chloe Ellefson mysteries.

Next time:  the rest of Pendarvis!

Bal Maidens

October 23, 2017

Many of the Chloe Ellefson mysteries, which are set in the 1980s, include a plotline set further in the past as well. The 8th adventure, Mining For Justice, features Cornish immigrants who arrived in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in the 1830s. Most were mining families, attracted by news of lead deposits in the southwestern part of what is now the state of Wisconsin.

I knew I wanted to create a strong Cornish woman for the historical plotline. And I decided to begin her tale in Cornwall so I could quickly establish both her strength (physical, and of character) and her vulnerability.

Readers meet Mary Pascoe when she is eleven years old and working as a bal maiden—bal, meaning “mine” in Cornish, and maiden referring to young or unmarried women. Bal maidens did manual labor on the surface of mine sites, processing ore.

Note the female workers in the foreground.  (“Dolcoate Copper Mine” engraved by J.Thomas after a picture by Thomas Allom, published in Devon & Cornwall Illustrated, 1832. Steel engraved print, hand-colored later.)

Women in the far southwestern regions of Great Britain have likely done tin and copper mine work for centuries, and written records date to the 13th century. In the 1800s it was common for girls to begin at about ten years of age, but documented cases show that a few started doing mine work as young as six years old.

Three Bal Maidens.  (Woodcut, Peeps into the Haunts and Homes of the Rural Poulation of Cornwall, 1879.)

The work was difficult, sometimes dangerous, and often done in the open air, exposing workers to harsh weather. Some of the duties included spalling (breaking ore into smaller pieces with long-handled hammers),

(Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1858)

and cobbing (breaking washed and sorted ore into even smaller pieces with a different hammer).

(Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1858)

Some observers worried not only about physical strain, but about the impact of working in rough conditions, near men, on the female workers. In Mining For Justice, Mrs. Bunney, from the fictional Christian Welfare Society, expresses her concern to Mary:

It’s not only the danger inherent in mining work that troubles me. I’m worried about your soul. You are surrounded daily by rough men who use foul language. Young ladies like yourself should be cultivating modesty and grace. How can you do that here?

Mary was a capable worker, and like many of actual bal maidens who were interviewed, she didn’t especially mind the work.

(Illustrated Itinerary of the County of Cornwall, by Cyrus Redding, 1842)

However, Mrs. Bunney’s questions and indifferent treatment during the fictional interview do leave Mary wondering, for the first time, about her self-worth.  The question stays with her after she immigrates to the territory that would become Wisconsin.

I love having the chance to shine a little candlelight on everyday women who, a century or more ago, did amazing things but left few concrete records behind. I hope my fictional foray into the life of a woman who knew hard work and heartache before leaving Cornwall honors the legacy of Cornwall’s bal maidens.

Miners and bal maidens with typical equipment and protective clothing at Dolcoath, 1890.  (Wikipedia)

# # #

To learn more about bal maidens, visit the Bal Maidens and Mining Women website, which includes a list of books on the subject by Lynne Mayers.

Mining For Justice Event Details!

September 10, 2017

 

Mining For Justice, the 8th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, is officially slated to be released on October 8th. But we’ve got three special early launch activities planned.

 

 

 

RADIO

I’ll join popular host Larry Meiller during his Wisconsin Public Radio program on September 28 from 11:45 AM to 12:30 PM, discussing Mining For Justice and taking calls from listeners.

Larry’s show is streamed live over the Internet and broadcast over WPR’s Ideas Network (AM 930, 970, and FM 88.1, 88.3, 88.7, 88.9, 89.1, 90.3, 90.7, 90.9, 91.3, 91.7, 91.9, 107.9).

Listeners are encouraged to contact the show to ask questions and make comments. This can be done via Facebook or Twitter, by email to talk@wpr.org, or by calling (800) 642-1234.

 

LAUNCH PARTY

The official Mining for Justice launch party will be held on September 28 evening at the Mystery To Me, Madison, WI, 6:00 PM.

Mystery to Me is a fabulous independent bookstore. I’ll introduce the important themes in the book and answer questions. Enjoy Cornish Saffron Buns and door prizes. 

Yes, there is a Green Bay Packer game that evening at 7:30. We’re starting a little earlier than usual—and Mystery to Me has teamed up with Brocah, just down the street.  They offer great TV viewing, and have specials planned too.

 

CORNISH FEST

 

What better place to launch Mining For Justice than the 25th Annual Cornish Fest in Mineral Point, Wisconsin!  The book is largely set at Pendarvis Historic Site in that charming town.

Saturday, September 30, 11 AM  Mining For Justice Book Talk at the Opera House, 139 High Street.  Free.

Join me as I open a window into my creative and research processes, sharing some of the many challenges I encountered as I worked to construct a riveting mystery while remaining true to the real people of history whose lives I sought to honor.  Books will be available for purchase and I will be happy to sign them!

I will also be signing books at Pendarvis Historic Site during their Crowdy Crawn, 1-5 PM.  Free.

Crowdy Crawn is a Cornish expression that refers to entertainment that is “a mixture of things.”  This year’s event will include traditional craft demonstrations such as spinning, quilting, basket making, knitting, and rug hooking, and Cornish storytelling.

And, I will be signing books during the Pasty Supper, starting at 5:30 PM, at the Walker House, 1 Water Street, Mineral Point.

Pasty Supper and More:   Dine on the Walker House Salad, Beef Pasty, Pasty Sauce, Saffron Bun, Figgyhobbin, Wollersheim Red/White Wine or New Glarus Spotted Cow beer, or other Beverage (Soda, Coffee, Tea).  Pizza for kids.  Entertainment with ghosts and Tommyknockers. $14.25 + tax., 9 and under $6.65 + tax

Sunday, October 1, Mining For Justice illustrated program, Pendarvis Education Room, 11 AM.

Join me for a presentation featuring the buildings and artifacts that inspired plot elements.  Books will be available for sale and signing.  And you’ll have plenty of time to tour Pendarvis afterwards!

I am excited about these launch events, and I hope you can join the fun!  I’ve got lots of other events planned for the fall, too.  You can always find more schedule information on my website’s Calendar page.

Why Mining For Justice?

August 10, 2017

I have more story ideas banging around in my head than I’ll ever find time to explore. My files about possible historic sites and museums to explore in a Chloe Ellefson mystery are ever-growing. So why did Pendarvis Historic Site in Mineral Point, WI, rise to the top of the list?

Pendarvis is a collection of historic structures that date back to pre-statehood days. It was the first historic site I visited after moving to Wisconsin to work at sister-site Old World Wisconsin, and I remember enjoying the tour immensely.

The area has a fascinating history I wanted to learn more about—always a plus when plunging into a year-plus-long project.  Miners arrived in the 1820s to dig lead, most of them looking for quick hauls before moving on or heading back home. In the next decade miners from Cornwall arrived. Many brought their families, and the Cornish played a major role in turning a hardscrabble mining frontier into a community.

As I began conceptualizing the 8th book in the series, I thought first about where Chloe and Roelke, the main characters, were emotionally at the end of the 7th book, A Memory of Muskets. Where did I want them to go next on their emotional journey? What site and plot would reflect their personal challenges? As I played around with story ideas to weave together in the new book, I started seeing powerful connections. (I love it when that happens.)

Then there’s Mineral Point itself—it’s charming. Many readers have suggested that Chloe visit. I know Chloe and Roelke fans will enjoy exploring not just Pendarvis, but the area’s museums, architecture, art galleries, and restaurants.

I’m excited about Mining for Justice! We’ve got some special launch activities planned for the fall. I’ll share more details soon, and you can always find more information on my website. Stay tuned!

Chapter A Day

August 4, 2017

I am delighted to report that the 7th Chloe Ellefson mystery, A Memory of Muskets, was chosen to be shared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s beloved Chapter A Day program.

memory-of-muskets

Or as my husband put it, “Holy toboggans! Chloe’s latest adventure is on the radio!”

Jim Fleming, host of the popular program, has created a special abridged version of the book.

You can hear Jim’s half-hour readings on WPR’s IDEAS Network and streaming from https://www.wpr.org/programs/chapter-day weekdays at 12:30 PM (repeated at 11 PM) Monday, August 7th through Friday, September 1st. Each episode can also be heard on the Chapter A Day webpage for one week after its broadcast date.

JimFleming

Here’s what Jim had to say:

I fell for Kathleen’s book based on the setting and the characters. I had visited Old World Wisconsin years ago and was charmed by it, lured by the connection to Wisconsin’s past. Kathleen does a wonderful job of painting the cross between then and now. Throwing in a mystery and the inevitable conflicts which can threaten a compelling worksite just made it better.

What many people don’t know about Chapter A Day is that it presents abridgments of most books. I can only read 10-12 pages in half an hour, and it’s important that those 12 pages present a satisfying experience for the listener. MOM would have gone on for too many weeks if I had tried to read it all. I didn’t know what to do about it initially, but finally realized it would be possible to keep the language, the setting and the mystery if I simply removed the part of the story, or most of it, that takes place in the past. The modern story reveals enough about the past to be understood. I was sad not to be able to keep it all but am pleased with the result.

I admit, I would have loved to have the book read in its entirety. But I knew Jim would do a fantastic job with the project. He sent an audio clip from the first chapter and Mr. Ernst and I were hooked.

And the truth is, book “publishing” in the broadest sense is collaborative. Editors, to varying degrees, influence stories. Cover artists create their image of a main character or theme. Readers bring their own imagination and experiences to each book.

I was thrilled when Tantor Media produced audiobooks of the first three Chloe books, read by the talented Elise Arsenault. Elise brought her own interpretation to the mysteries.

Now we’ll hear Chloe and Roelke and friends come to life in a new way, as Jim reads his version.

Wisconsin Public Radio is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and CAD is its longest-running program! It’s been airing since 1931. I’m honored that A Memory of Muskets can be part of it.

Giveaway Winners Announced

August 4, 2017

Congratulations to JOANNE BUCHWEITZ, ROSEMARY GRANT DORFMEISTER, BEV HARRIS, HELEN MARTINEZ, VICKIE MILLER, LARRY F. SOMMERS, KATHLEEN TALMADGE, and MARY ESLER ZEINEH! Each won a signed Advance Review Copy of the next Chloe mystery, Mining For Justice.

Winners were chosen at random from over 400 entries here and on my Facebook Author Page.

I thank you all for your enthusiasm and lovely comments. It means a lot!

Mining For Justice Giveaway!

August 2, 2017

8ARC-Chloe8-Giveaway-FBA1200x717w

Eight lucky readers really will get copies now! I’m giving away 8 Advanced Review Copies of the 8th Chloe Ellefson mystery, Mining For Justice–two months before the official publication date of October 8.

To enter, leave a comment below by midnight on Thursday, August 3. Winners will be chosen at random from all entries here and on my Facebook Author Page, and announced on Friday. Good luck!

Library Winners!

July 27, 2017

We have 3 winning libraries, chosen by random number generator. Congratulations to the Kaukana Library, WI (Laurie Wentworth), Lorain Main Library, OH (Joy Scaggs), and Wahoo Library, NE (Pam Lindholm)! Each library will receive a set of the audiobooks for the first three Chloe Ellefson mysteries.

3PublicLibrariesChloeAudioGiveawayWinnersFB1200x627w

Huge thanks to all who entered. We heard from readers in 46 states, with a total of two hundred and fifty-six entries! Your passionate support of libraries was so awesome that Mr. Ernst and I are planning another Giveaway. Stay tuned!

Gratitude Giveaway!

July 25, 2017

I’m giving away three sets of the Chloe Ellefson Mystery audiobooks, 1 each to three public libraries.

3PublicLibrariesChloeAudioGiveawayFB1200x627w

To enter your library, simply name the library, town, and state in the comment section below by midnight, Wednesday, July 26. The winners will be chosen at random from all entries here and on my Facebook Author page, and announced here on July 27.

Celebrate your local library by nominating it to win!

Wisconsin’s Civil War Draft

June 29, 2017

The 7th Chloe Ellefson Mystery, A Memory of Muskets, features the challenges faced by newly-arrived immigrants during the Civil War. Two plotlines show how German-born immigrants struggled in the 1860s and how a living history site like Old World Wisconsin can interpret those struggles a century and more later.

Larry H. at the Four Mile Inn, Old World Wisconsin, during a reenactment of the draft, sometime in the 1980s. Note the lottery wheel on the table.

One challenge that divided Wisconsin’s German-American community was the announcement of a draft in 1862. Many men of German birth or descent had already enlisted. Other German immigrants were vehemently opposed to compulsory military service—especially those who had left Europe to avoid just that.

This print shows a draft taking place in New York City. (Library of Congress)

Wisconsin was told to supply over 47,000 additional men to the Union Army. Governor Salomon, hoping to avoid conscription, protested that Wisconsin had already furnished five more regiments than previously required. He also predicted that if the draft could be postponed until after the autumn harvest, voluntary enlistments would rise (which proved true.) But in August, 1862, Salomon was ordered to begin the draft in counties where quotas had not been met.

A draft officer with a different style of lottery box. (Library of Congress)

Resistance to the draft was strongest in several counties along the Lake Michigan shore, where many German and Irish Catholics lived. Protests erupted in Sheboygan and West Bend. In Port Washington, a riot turned violent.

These ballots on display at the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum were used in Janesville, WI. Each eligible man wrote his name on a disc. Note the tool used to cut them.

The Wisconsin draft was largely unsuccessful. More than a third of the men drafted simply failed to report. Others purchased substitutes.

This draft drum was also used in Janesville.  (Wisconsin Veterans Museum)

And not all the opposition came from eastern Wisconsin. Sheila R., a Chloe reader who is an archivist at the Walnut Creek Historical Society (Walnut Creek, CA), kindly shared several letters she’s transcribed. They were written by David Seely of Elk Grove, Lafayette County, in the southwestern part of the state, to his children in California:

“Oh Ben and Emily what a Sad war this is. …There was a draft here last week of 160 men out of this county, 5 from this grove. There is a good deal of fus (sic) and I understand there is a Company of soldiers at Darlington to force the drafted men into the service as they are not willing go. A good many have run away. Some to Canada and the balance not heard from…” (Dec. 18, 1862)

“They have not been able to force the drafted men from this State into the ranks, we will be in a war here before long if things don’t Change for the better—if the north can’t whip the south the war ought to Cease and North and South compromise on some sort of terms…” (February 7, 1863)

“The people don’t pay any attention to the Draft—I don’t think 500 soldiers could take one drafted man out of this county— the people here are determined to stand up to their Rights and Resist Tyranny.” (February 15, 1863)

“All drafted men are getting their $300.00 to buy out from the service, and those that Cant Raise it will have to go poor Devils.” (November 23, 1863)

Clearly, this was an important issue during the war.

Reenactments can be a fun way to learn about not only battles and military tactics…

Old World Wisconsin.

…but social issues and homefront activities—like the draft—as well.

Mary K. and Bev B. showing the type of relief activities undertaken by civilians, Sanford House, Old World Wisconsin.

I hope A Memory of Muskets:  A Chloe Ellefson Mystery can do the same thing.