Between the Lines: The Life and Art of Vinnie Ream #womenshistory #American #history #artist #sculpture

Researching for each of the girls’ stories in Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure led me across America. I traveled a good bit—exploring sites in Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, New York, Georgia, and Alabama, to name a few—but was not able to visit every site I would have liked to have reached. Mainly out west and northwest, but other places as well. The story of Lavinia Ream, known by those close to her as Vinnie, is one such example.

Lavinia Ellen Ream, known as Vinnie, was born September 25, 1847, in Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve vacationed in Madison but did not have a chance to search for any sites associated with her. Partly because I went long after I had written Hometown Heroines, and partly because it was a family vacation for Christmas.

Vinnie’s earliest playmates were Winnebago Indian children because there were few if any other white children to play with. In fact, her sister Cynthia Ann Ream, known as Mary, was born in 1844 in Madison, Wisconsin. Mary was one of the first white girls to be born in the Wisconsin area. The Winnebagos taught Vinnie how to draw and paint, a skill she put to very good use throughout her lifetime. I wonder what games they played and how this experience affected Vinnie’s view of diverse peoples she met.

The following is an excerpt from Hometown Heroines, the biographical facts I included:

Vinnie’s childhood was spent moving around quite a bit. Her father was a surveyor, and so would travel to find work. They lived at various times in Madison, Wisconsin; Little Rock and Ft. Smith, Arkansas; St. Joseph, Missouri; Wyandotte and Leavenworth, Kansas; and Washington, D.C.

When they moved to D.C. at the beginning of the Civil War, they settled in a cottage at 325 B Street North. Her father joined a Capitol guard unit. Her brother Bob had enlisted in Woodruff’s artillery regiment. To earn money to support the family, Vinnie, her mother, and her sister, all sewed epaulets for the officers uniforms.

After studying sculpture with Clark Mills for a while, she began making medallion reliefs of politicians. Then she had the idea of creating a bust of Lincoln. She was given permission by Lincoln only because she was poor, like he had been when he was younger.

I came for half an hour every day. I was the merest slip of a child, weighing less than ninety pounds; and the contrast between the raw-boned man and me was indeed great. I sat demurely in my corner and begged Mr. Lincoln not to allow me to disturb him.

She went to the White House frequently, watching him. Trying to capture his personality in clay.

I think that history is particularly correct in writing Lincoln down as the man of sorrow. The one great, lasting, all-dominating impression that I have always carried of Lincoln has been that of unfathomable sorrow, and it was this that I tried to put into my statue.

The death of Lincoln caused his memory to be locked in hers forever.

Vinnie Ream Lincoln StatueThe success of the statue that I subsequently made was attributed to its trueness to the actual Lincoln. My ability to produce it was unquestionably due to those half-hours in the quiet of the President’s office, and to the searing in of the image by the great tragedy.

In April 1866, Vinnie was encouraged to apply for the commission to create a life-size marble statue of Lincoln. With help from friends, a petition was written and circulated, and signed by many of the most powerful men in Washington. The commission was granted to her on July 28, 1866, and the contract for the statue was written and signed on August 30, 1866.

I enjoyed visiting D.C. and seeing her work in person in the Rotunda. While I was there, I also went to see her statue of Admiral Farragut. Here’s more on it from Hometown Heroines:

Vinnie Ream Farragut StatueVinnie was commissioned, again after much debate, to create a statue of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. The contract for the statue was written and signed January 28, 1875. The statue was cast from the bronze propeller of his flagship, the Hartford, in which he had achieved his best success. The statue, resting on a base made out of Maine granite, stands on Farragut Square, on K Street between 16th and 17th Streets in Washington, D.C. It faces south and stands ten feet high, with Farragut holding a marine glass in his left hand, and resting his left foot atop a block and tackle. Vinnie was paid twenty thousand dollars to create the statue.

During the six years she spent making the Farragut, First Lieutenant Richard Hoxie proposed to her. She refused him, saying her work must come first. Only after Mrs. Farragut advised her to go ahead and marry, that the statue would wait, did Vinnie accept the proposal. She married Lieutenant Richard Leveridge Hoxie on May 28, 1878. Lieutenant Hoxie was assigned to the Corps of Engineers, United States Army.

The Farragut was unveiled and dedicated on April 25, 1881, amidst much ceremony. An account of the day was found in a local paper:

It was an inspiring sight. Besides the vast multitude of civilians; the host of soldiers and sailors, in their glittering uniforms; the rainbow hues of the Spring appareling of thousands of women; the decorated houses surrounding the square, glinting with flags and filled with bright faces from basement to roof–all were framed in the delicate interlacing of the young leaved trees and mounted by the snowy tracery of the delicate clouds, that fluttered like feathers against the warm blue of the April sky. President Garfield’s speech was happy, as his speeches always are.

Vinnie’s art and sculpture were not her only talents, though. She also wrote songs and poetry. Others dedicated their songs and poetry to her. Her life was filled with people who admired her enough to seek her out and praise her art and talents. Her example inspires me to live my life the best I can, and to strive to create stories that touch my readers in some way.

After she died at her Washington home in 1914, she was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Her husband erected a monument to her in 1915. Here’s more on it from my book:

VinnieReamMonument-ArlingtonCemeteryBrigadier General Richard Hoxie had a monument built in 1915 to Vinnie in her memory. It stands in Arlington Cemetery, in Section 3, on Miles Drive. The statue is a bronze likeness of her marble Sappho statue. His sense of loss is felt in the inscription “Words that would praise thee are impotent” engraved in the bronze plaque in the base along with her bas-relief profile. A stone bench faces the monument, inviting visitors to linger, as Vinnie would have wanted.

When I visited her grave, I sat down on that bench and thought about all this wonderful woman had accomplished in her life. I thought about how much her husband mourned her but also how much he loved her. I decided to try to include those ponderings in the short story I wrote for the book. Then when I got up, distracted by my musings, I actually left behind my Dayrunner calendar/address book. Which then my brother-in-law had to track down and return to me, but that’s another story you can read here.

Vinnie Ream Display in Vinita OKI wish I had been able to visit so many places associated with Vinnie. I did manage to get to Vinita, Oklahoma, though, and it’s small display of her art, guitar, and other memorabilia. The town itself is named for Vinnie by her friend Col. Elias C. Boudinot, a Cherokee. She had some fascinating friends, didn’t she?

Each story in Hometown Heroines includes a list of places you can go to related to the girl’s life and accomplishments. Have you read the inspiring and amazing stories of these girls who lived in the 1800s in America? Have you traveled to any of the parks, monuments, or statues dedicated to them? Would you like to?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Youth Award Winning Book
Literary Classics International Book Awards – Youth Award Winning Book

Hometown Heroines won the 2014 Gold Medal for Best Gender Specific Young Adult Book from Children’s Literary Classics and makes a great gift! Here’s more about it:

During the 1800s, daring and courageous girls across America left their unique mark on history.

Milly Cooper galloped 9 miles through hostile Indian Territory to summon help when Fort Cooper was under attack.

Belle Boyd risked her life spying for the Rebels during the Civil War.

Kate Shelly, when she was 15, crawled across a nearly washed-out railroad bridge during a ferocious thunderstorm to warn the next train.

Lucille Mulhall, age 14, outperformed cowboys to become the World’s First Famous Cowgirl.

These are just a few of the inspiring true stories inside Hometown Heroines—American Girls who faced danger and adversity and made a difference in their world.



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Tasty Tuesday: Adapting American 18th Century #Recipes #cooking #history #whatsfordinner

I’ve been talking a lot lately about my paranormal romances, but don’t forget my first love is historical fiction! As I wrote the 5 books in the A More Perfect Union series, and am writing some other historical fiction stories to share with my readers soon (I hope!), I found myself wondering about what folks enjoyed eating during the 1700s when my series takes place. They didn’t have processed foods and some of the other not-so-healthy options we have today.

So on a recent research trip to Virginia, I came across two cooking books that contain “receipts,” or what we call recipes today, for colonial era meals and desserts. I figured I’d try some of them. Maybe they would prove healthier alternatives. Something new and different to tempt our palates.

Art of CookeryThen one night my husband and I were watching the 2009 movie Julie and Julia and it dawned on me. I could do the same sort of thing as the Amy Adams character, Julie, did but on a modified basis. Julie, after all, decided to make all of Julia Child’s dishes. I’m not that dedicated! Doing so would take all my time, and I need to be writing after all. And after reading through the contents of both books, I knew there were limits as to what my husband would be willing to try. Me, too, but I’m more adventurous than he is.

The two books are The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy; Excelling any ever yet published by Mrs. Hannah Glasse, and Revolutionary Cooking: Over 200 Recipes Inspired by Colonial Meals by Virginia T. Elverson and Mary Ann Revolutionary CookingMcLanahan.

My plan over the next 6 months is to try to make a variety of sauces, meats and fish, vegetables, and maybe some of the desserts. The two books together provide me context and equivalencies so I can more easily adapt the ingredients and quantities needed. If I can adapt the desserts to reduce the quantity, since many of the receipts seem to make quite a large amount of cake/pie/cookies. Specifically, here’s what I’ve laid out to attempt to adapt to something that my hubby and I – and my readers – might enjoy:

May 9 Veggies and cooking techniques
May 16 Stewed spinach and eggs
May 23 Potato pudding
May 30 Meats and cooking techniques
Jun 6 Brown gravy
Jun 13 Oyster sauce
Jun 20 Force-meat balls
Jun 27 Scotch collops
Jul 4 Beef collops
Jul 11 Lamb pie
Jul 18 Fish types and cooking techniques
Jul 25 Salmon – broiled, and baked
Aug 1 Salmon au Court-Bouillon
Aug 8 Lobsters
Aug 15 Fowl and other birds
Aug 22 Brown Fricasey with chicken
Aug 29 Roast chicken with chestnuts
Sep 5 Stewing chickens
Sep 12 Duck with green peas
Sep 19 Collops and eggs
Sep 26 Salmagundy
Oct 3 Apple pudding
Oct 10 Apricot pudding
Oct 17 Stewed pears
Oct 24 Pound cake

The cooking techniques described in the two books are very different from today’s abilities with our ranges and ovens, mixers, and even cooking surfaces to work on. As I work through these receipts, I will talk about what the differences are. For example, boiling a pudding then meant putting it into a closely woven fabric and tying it tight at the top, then lowering it into a kettle of boiling water over an open fire. Obviously, that is not a method I’d employ in my own kitchen, so I’d make some adjustments and tell you how it worked out.

AMPU Covers-4Have you read any of the A More Perfect Union series? The latest story, Elizabeth’s Hope, will release in time for Christmas and is actually the introduction to the rest of the series. In order, the rest of them are Emily’s Vow, Amy’s Choice, Samantha’s Secret, and Evelyn’s Promise. But as noted below, I’m sharing a chapter of Elizabeth’s Hope each month with my newsletter subscribers, including a link to all the chapters new subscribers may have missed up to that point.

So are you with me? Shall we try some new wholesome, whole foods from centuries old recipes? I think it will be an interesting and enlightening journey to make. I wonder whether the lady characters in my historical romance series would be surprised at how cooking has changed since their time.

What do you think? I hope you’ll take this adventure with me! I’m heading to the kitchen now…


Elizabeth's HopeP.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

The most recent release in the A More Perfect Union series is Evelyn’s Promise (January 2016). Here’s more about her story…

Evelyn's PromiseDetermined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, where his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathaniel to make the hardest decision of his life.



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Surprising Inspiration for Haunted Melody #paranormal #romance #WritersLife #IARTG

Sometimes a story is inspired by true life events. Sometimes by a “what if” pondering. Haunted Melody* sprang into being when my editor at Liquid Silver Books asked for a Halloween story.

At the end of Undying Love**, Paulette is pregnant and expecting a child to arrive around Halloween. So I decided to tell her story as she approached delivering her baby. How she had become somewhat depressed after her boyfriend dumped her and she had lost her joy, expressed through singing.

She needed a nudge to make her realize that she’d stopped singing during her daily activities. But how? Or rather, who would give her the hip-bump toward her happiness? She needed to face her past as she planned her future, so one day she’s exploring the attic and discovers a book of spells. When she reads a “poem” from it, she is surprised to confront her grandfather’s ghost. The spirit refuses to leave until she figures out why she’d summoned him.

Enter Zak Markel, a chemist who is desperate to save his brother Grant’s eyesight. Desperate enough to try a mystical alchemical recipe for the Elixir of Life from an ancient journal even as he knows there’s little hope of succeeding. Then he catches an eyeful of Paulette and his pursuit turns more personal as he endeavors to get to know her despite her reluctance and his brother’s annoyance. <grin> Together they rediscover what’s missing in her life and his, and find their happiness together, though not without a few struggles along the way!

The fun part of telling Paulette and Zak’s story was including an actual play list, which I’ve shared in this earlier post. But also in imagining a fun and chaotic costume party with costumes and themed food. I even tried some of the recipes when the original book* first released in October 2014. Now you can read Haunted Melody (March 2017), to see what fun is had at the party, and the ensuing chaos her grandfather’s ghost causes.

Have you read Haunted Melody yet? I hope you have! But if you haven’t, you may want to before the third book in the Secrets of Roseville series releases on May 20, 2017. The Touchstone of Raven Hollow tells the story of Tara, the midwife/healer, and Grant Markel, Zak’s brother, as they learn a few lessons about life and love. And ravens, too!

Keep an eye out for info about a Facebook release day party I’m throwing with the help of several author friends! Lots of fun, prizes, giveaways, and book talk. More details coming soon…

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!


*Haunted Melody originally released as Remnants (October 2014, Liquid Silver Books) and is an updated/revised edition of the story.

**Undying Love originally released as Traces (April 2014, Liquid Silver Books) and is an updated/revised edition of the story.

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

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