Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Memorial Day 2019


Technically, Memorial Day is for the Union dead of the Civil War, but was expanded to include all those who died in service the the United States. Since only one of those who follow died in service  and only one was a Union soldier, this list is not strictly correct. However, two of them did die later in life partly aggravated by wounds incurred in the service.

Sgt. Tommy Flynn, CAC team Papa Three, USMC, Vietnam

Sgt. Tommy Flynn


My father's cousin lived with villagers in the mountains near Cam Lo just a few miles south of the DMZ. 

"The idea was to somewhat integrate with the Vietnamese people in order to gain their trust and friendship and ultimately military intelligence that would help us find the bad guys. It sounds good, and at times it was probably very good, because the Vietnamese were helped with schools and sanitation and protection from the Viet Cong. But it was also an extremely dangerous assignment. CAC soldiers lived near a village and survived mostly on their own. It was a small compound that was flooded when it rained and was overrun several times by the Viet Cong. On one such occasion, Mr. Flynn was severely wounded in the face, neck and thigh. He spent weeks in several hospitals and then a hospital ship with his jaw wired shut, before being mistakenly sent back to the war. He was given a choice; he could work in the rear or go back to his CAC squad. He was either a little nuts, or little bit more brave than most of us, because he chose to return to his squad."-- from Joni Bour's review of A Voice of Hope by Thomas Flynn
+ + +

Pfc. Joseph Flynn, 5th Eng. Btn., 5th Marine Division, USMC

My father served on Iwo Jima and in the Japanese Occupation. 

As a combat engineer, Joe had the task of blowing things up, a task at which he had had practice, since he had once blown up his bedroom at home while electrolysizing water into oxygen and (alas) hydrogen.  He was assigned to battalion liaison for the landing, which meant he landed with the first wave on Iwo Jima and would take word to his company of battalion location.  His buddies all figured he was a dead duck.  The beach was volcanic sand so fine and slippery that it was hard to get traction, and the Japanese had always dealt harshly with the first wave.
Pere (upper right) as flag waver
During one bombardment, he took refuge in a shellhole on the beach with (iirc) his captain.  A black marine from the Pioneer Battalion came to the edge of the hole and... stopped.  "Permission to join you, sir!"  The officer responded by telling him to get his sorry black ass into the shellhole tout suite.  Years later, recounting the incident, Joe said that the young man had grown up in an environment in which a black man did not join a group of whites without their leave, even if Japanese shells were raining about him.  A culture that would do that to a man, he said, just wasn't right.

On another occasion, while returning to the front line with anti=tank grenades, a Japanese mortar shell impacted in front of him. The blast lifted him up and dropped him on his back. For a while he lay there, numb and unable to hear. Gradually, his feelings came back and, standing up, he took inventory. Everything seemed to be working, which he found remarkable. And no blood!

TOF asked the Old Man once when he first felt old, and he said on his 20th birthday, the day he left Iwo Jima. 
+ + +

Pfc. Harry Singley, 304th Eng., 72nd "Rainbow" Div., AEF

Harry Singley and his wife Helen Schwar
My grandfather on my mother's side served in the St. Mihel, Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  He wrote home:

"It was on Sept. 26 when the big drive started in the Argonne Forest and I saw all kinds of things that I never witnessed before.  We started out on the night of the 25th.  At 9 o'clock we commenced a tank road and worked our way almost to the German's front line trenches.  At 2:30 one of the greatest of all barrages was opened.  It was said that between 3500 and 4000 guns, some of them of very large calibre, went off at that hour just like clock work.  We worked on this road under shell fire until about 3:45 and then went back until the infantry went over the top at 5 o'clock.  We followed with the tanks.  That is the way the Americans started and kept pounding and pushing ahead until the great day on Nov. 11.  ...

First day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive
26 Sept. 1918
It was some life.  I am proud that I went through it, for nobody on the Hill will have anything on me...  I was a little with sneezing or tear gas.  It made me sick but I remained with the company for I did not like to leave my detachment at any time for if something would happen, I thought, there would be plenty of help.  I felt much better in a few days.  A small piece of shrapnel splinter hit me below the knee.  Otherwise I was lucky. ..."

"Somebody will wake up soon when the boys get back to the States..."

He had a cane inscribed "FRANCE" to deal with that shrapnel below the knee. That cane is now an aid in my own infirmity. Guv died young. I barely remember him. I was told that the gassing in WW1 contributed to his death.
+ + +

Pvt. John H. Hammontree, Co. H, 5th Tenn Inf., US Vol.

Union troops in Cumberland Gap
The great-great grandfather of the Incomparable Marge joined the Union Army when Confederates come into East Tennessee and told the fellas there 'you boys better be a-wearing gray in the morning' or they would be hung.  Well, they didn't cotton to that at-all, and so they left that night and crossed the mountains to sign up with Buell's army of the Ohio. 

John fought in the Cumberland Gap campaign of 1862. He was captured there and then paroled. This was followed by the Stone's River campaign, the 5th arriving at Stone's River just in time. The regiment then held the crossroads after the battle of Chickamauga, before being pulled back into the Siege of Chattanooga, during which U.S.Grant takes charge. The regiment was then sent on the Knoxville campaign of 1863 to link up with Burnside. But since Longstreet was advancing on Knoxville right through the Hammontree farms, John (and others) went AWOL to see to his folks. Once the danger was past, he returned.
 

Finally the regiment was organized into Schofield's Army of the Ohio for the Atlanta campaign, and fought at Dalton, Rocky Faced Ridge, and Resaca.  At Resaca John received a bullet wound in left leg while the brigade was advancing the thickets against the Confederates entrenched on the ridge. This wound eventually contributed to his death, years afterward.

+ + + 

Pvt. James Hammontree, Capt. Duncan's Co., Col. Bunch's Regt, (2nd Regt., East Tennessee Militia)

Battle of Horseshoe Bend
Margie's great-great-grandfather's grandfather fought at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend under Gen. Andrew Jackson in the Creek (Red Stick) War.  This was part of the War of 1812.  

Andrew Jackson's official report of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (27 March 1814) mentions that "a few companies" of Colonel Bunch were part of the right line of the American forces at this engagement. More than likely, some of those companies included Captains Francis Berry, Nicholas Gibbs (who was killed at the battle), Jones Griffin, and John McNair. In addition, muster rolls show some casualties from this battle in the companies led by Captains Moses Davis, Joseph Duncan, and John Houk. Other men from this regiment remained at Fort Williams prior to Horseshoe Bend to guard the post -- provision returns indicate that there were 283 men from Bunch's regiment at the fort at the time of the battle.
+ + +

Pvt. John Hammontree, Capt. John Montjoy's Co. of Foot, 10th Virginia, Continental Line.

James Hammontree's great uncle John enlisted in the 10th Virginia at an unknown date and may have seen action with the regiment at Brandywine and Germantown before entering winter quarters at Valley Forge.  In January 1778, he was reported "sick in camp" and he died there on 24 Feb 1778.

Pvt. Harris Hammontree, Capt. Wm. Cunningham's Co. of Foot, 1st Virginia, Continental Line.

The 1st Virginia has a long ancestry, and exists today as the 276th Eng. Battalion of the Virginian National Guard.  John Hammontree's younger brother Harris Hammontree enlisted in the 1st Virginia on Feb. 12, 1778, after the regiment had gone into encampment at Valley Forge.  In April and June he was reported as "sick," but unlike his older brother, he survived.  He may have participated in the battle of Monmouth in June 1778.  Most of the regiment was captured by the British at Charlestown, South Carolina, on May 12, 1780, but Harris may or may not have still been with the regiment at that point.  He was killed by Indians on the Virginia frontier, 25 Jul. 1781. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Our Watch is (Almost) Ended

With Game of Thrones approaching its final episode and characters dropping like flies, the question on everyone's lips is: who will sit on the Iron Throne?   

Ask no more.




Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mothers on Parade

This is a Mothers' Day post from a couple years ago reposted here

We will start with

1. The Incomparable Marge, who is the mother of the TOFsprings, shown here in their cute-and-innocent versions:
Sara, a/k/a Dear in the Headlights
 




Dennis: Wait, What's Going On Here...







 However, the I/M is herself the daughter of a mother, and while we have no digitized picture of the two in Madonna-and-child pose, we do have them individualized, as it were:
Elsie Vera Hammontree, mother of the I/M




The Marge, imitating a bean bag
















 
2. Elsie Vera Hammontree (1924-1951) of Oklahoma died when the Marge was very young but she is remembered for humming Strauss waltzes while she did her ironing in the kitchen. Margie was her only child, and her dad never remarried. The Hammontrees had settled in colonial Virginia, fought in the Revolution (two were at Valley Forge, and one died there), went over-the-mountain into East Tennessee, fought with Andy Jackson at Horseshoe Bend in the War of 1812; fought in the Army of the Cumberland under Schofield in the Civil War (wounded at Resaca) and headed west to Oklahoma by way of Arkansas. Elsie married Claude Lee White, whose mother was a Choctaw with the splendid name of Maggie Jam and who had raised her two sons alone in Ft. Towson, Choctaw Nation (later part of Oklahoma). For her part, Elsie was the daughter of....

3. Ora Vanora Harris (1901-1967) of whom TOF has no digitized photograph. The Marge was largely mothered by this grandmother (and by multiple aunts) after Elsie died. The Harrises had once lived in Hardin Co., KY, neighbors to Thomas and Abraham Lincoln, and moved with the Lincolns to Spencer Co. IN. (One bore the delightful name of Greenberry Harris.) But when the Lincolns moved again to Illinois, where Honest Abe grew to become famous, the Harrises pushed on to Cold Springs, MO and thence to Indian Territory, where Ora married John B. Hammontree and bore three daughters and two sons in the bustling metropolis of Quinton, OK.  Ora's mother was...

4. Sadie Frances Holland (1884-1918), who had been born in Louisiana and moved with her parents to Chickasaw Nation in 1898, where she married Charles Harding Harris and had five sons and three daughters. She died young of bronchial pneumonia aggravated by measles after a 13 day illness. The Hollands seem to have moved through the Lower South, perhaps starting from Mississippi. Sadie was the daughter of...

5. Annie Eliza Helms (1861-1939), who had been born in Lee Co., Georgia of North Carolinian parents, was married in Claibourne, LA, to Henry Thomas Holland, with whom she had five children: two boys, two girls, and one unknown who died in infancy. They moved to Chickasaw Nation, where they farmed next plot to Charlie Harris, who married their daughter. She died in her late 70s of a brain hemorrhage brought on by hypertension. She was the daughter of...

6. Gatsey [Helms] (c. 1826 - after 1880), maiden name not yet known, was born somewhere in North Carolina. About 1844, she married Henry Helms, of a prominent North Carolinian family, bearing seven children, of whom Anne Eliza was the youngest. Between 1847-48 they moved to Georgia; in 1850 were in Chambers Co. Alabama; and by 1860 back in Lee Co. Georgia, where Anne was born. She lived through the Civil War and (to go by her residence) Sherman's March to the Sea. She was widowed sometime between 1860 and 1880, when she was living in Claiborne LA, where her daughter married Henry Holland. Not known when or where she died.

n. Mitochondrial Eve. Okay, so she's everyone's eventual mother.....


TOF, meanwhile, is also the son of a mother; to wit:

1. Rita Marie Singley (1924-1993) a/k/a "The Mut"
Mut, displaying her bona fides as a mother
TOF is descended from a long line of German mothers. This is an especially daunting thing, for there is nothing more immovable than one. When the pastor at the church hesitated to baptize TOF on the grounds that the parish was German and the name was Flynn -- "Take him to St. Bernard's. That's where the Irish go." -- the Mut said that she would take TOF home and baptize him herself under the kitchen sink. She would have done it, too. The pastor caved.

The Singleys had come from Gemeinde Oberhausen (Upper Houses) in the Grand Principality of Baden around 1854, in the aftermath of the famine, turmoil and oppression following the failed Republican revolution of 1848. They had lived there or in the neighboring community of Niederhausen (Lower Houses) since the close of the Thirty Years War in the mid-1600s. The name had been originally spelled Zängle. In Nockamixon Twp, Bucks Co, PA, the name became Zingley, later Singley. Her mother was...

2. Helen Myrtle Schwar (1896-1952) a/k/a "Big Mom"

Big Mom, with her smaller brood: Mut in arms, twins Ralph and Paul below
Big Mom is the literal translation of Grossmutter, the German word for grandmother. We lived in her house two doors up the street for five years. Technically, by modern standards, we were homeless. Among my fond memories at life up the street, is Big Mom's theory that the cure to all illnesses was an enema. Come Christmas, she dressed up as Santa and brought gifts. She had married Harry Singley, a veteran of the Great War, and a bricklayer. There is a story about him and bricklaying which must await another day. They had three children: a set of identical twins and the Mut. Her three children eventually moved into houses that were only a couple doors away. Each received a tree, in the traditional German fashion of celebrating special occasions with a tree, sister sycamores, and though two of them have since gone to that Great Woodpile in the Sky, their offspring litter the south side to this day.
TOF (r) and his Milchgeschwester (c)
Milk-siblings were those who suckled at
the same breasts.

The Schwar family (the name rhymes with "swear" but lost its umlaut long ago) came from Niederhausen and see the brief recap of the Singleys, above. The name means "heavy," and in the records of Oberhausen/Niederhausen (now called Rheinhausen) the Schwährs were stone masons back to the late 1600s. The stone work on TOF's home was laid by Mut's uncle Leo Schwar. There is a story about Pere assisting him, which will await some other day.

The whole area on that part of South Side was once known as Schwartown for the obvious reasons, not least of which are the stone houses. The plethora of interrelated families from Oberhausen/Niederhausen contributed to the firm conviction of TOF and his Milchgeschwester that every person we were introduced to was related to us in some fashion. Schwar, Singley, Metzger, Deck, Keck, Breiner, Raisner, Albus, und so weiter all went back to those same two villages on the Rhine at the edge of the Black Forest. Near Eifelheim, if you read famous SF novels....

3. Frances Hungrege (1870-1926)
Frances: I'll see your five and raise you ten
Big Mom on far right
Mut's grandmother, third from left in the back row, lived in the big stone house on the next corner. She married Francis Joseph Schwar, a stone mason, in 1894. The Hungreges, mirabile dictu did not come from Baden, let alone Oberhausen/Niederhausen, but rather from Westpfalz, which was then ruled by Prussia. Not much else is known about her. She was the daughter of....

4. Magdalena Rieß (1836-1901)
Magdalena Riess,
No family shots
Magdalena emigrated from (you guessed it) Niederhausen in 1854 "to visit friends" (according to her passport) and never went back. In the absence of passport photography, the passport describes her in that infinitesimal German style. So we know she was 5 Schuh and 1 Zoll tall [about 5'1"], slender figure, long face, healthy complexion, black/brown hair, low forehead, and so on. She married in Haycock Run, Bucks Co, PA, to Conrad Hungrege, formerly a steamboat captain on the Rhine. They had eight children, six of them boys. She was the daughter of....

5. Franziska Stefan (1799-1856)
Fishermen on the Rhine
who was born, wed, and died in Niederhausen. She married Johann Rieß, a fisherman on the Rhine and was mother to nine children, eight of them girls. Four of her children died in infancy or childhood, one indeed after four days. We are now in the days before antisepsis, when cutting edge medicine meant breeding superior leaches and measuring precisely the amount of blood let. Magdalena was the last of Franziska's children and lived to be 65 in America. A fortunate thing she was not easily discouraged and did not succumb to grief.   She was the daughter of...

6. Maria Anna Pflüger (c.1772-1845)
who likewise was born, wed and died in Niederhausen. She was the third wife of Josef Stefan and had by him four children, two of whom died in infancy. Franziska was the second daughter of that name, her namesake having died  scant eight months earlier at just about a year's age. After Josef died, Maria Anna took a second husband, viz., Jakob Metzger. During her lifetime, Napoleon was running hither and yon across Europe, including across the Germanies. M. Anna's mother appears to have been

7. M. A. Schwörer (???-???)
who married Georg Pflüger, also a fisherman. But at this point, even German record-keeping falters and it may be that some records were lost during the Napoleonic wars. There is a gap in the microfilms. So far, TOF has not a clue about these more remote ancestors.

n. Mitochondrial Eve
Since she is everyone's maternal ancestor, this means the Marge and TOF are remote -- very remote -- cousins. But this is no surprise. Considering how many of TOF's ancestral mothers came from Oberhausen/Niederhausen, one is not astonished to learn that he is his own seventh cousin.

Other Mothers
TOF hasn't even scratched the surface of those mothers to whom we must credit our mere corporal existence. This is only the pure maternal strain. There are also the mothers of fathers to be considered.  Sarah Jane Metzger from (where else) Niederhausen. Pere's mother Blanche Jean Cantrel (whose ancestry wends its way back through the Pas de Calais). The delightfully named Sinia Jane Chisenhall (who lurks on the Marge's ancestral tree). Mary McGovern, of whom a photograph shows her playfully aiming a shotgun at the photographer. (The McGoverns came from the Glan in Co. Cavan, a then-remote and inaccessible valley where they made their own whiskey. She knew how to use that shotgun.) Then there was Nancy Holloway, who was a model for Mae Holloway (up to a point) in "Melodies of the Heart." But we have to draw the line somewhere or we will end up with every mother who has ever lived.

Though, on second thought, why not? Consider them, and yours, added as well.

Whoa, What's This?

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