Presentations on May 17 and May 18, 2017

I had two interesting and enjoyable presentations this week. On Wednesday, I spoke to a writing group, Writer’s Block, about the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. I read some sections from my political thriller novel, The Analyst, and explained how I was using the beat sheet for my next novel, The Traitor.

On Thursday, I gave a presentation to two eighth-grade classes at Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX. The trip was organized by David Brayshaw and his history teacher, Tom Wacker. I presented my talk on The Civil War in Your Backyard to about fifty students. Following the talk, we had a 15-minute question and answer session.  They asked some very good questions about the war, which allowed me to relate some anecdotes about the “Late Unpleasantness.”

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The Civil War Round Table of St. Louis

I am looking forward to speaking to The Civil War Round Table of St. Louis on May 24, 2017. Please check the round table site for details.

I hope to have time to visit several Civil War sites in the area. My first stop will be at Jefferson Barracks. Virtually every one of the big military names in the war served at one time or another at Jefferson Barracks, including U.S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, William T. Sherman, James Longstreet and many more.  The Missouri Military Museum is located  in the Jefferson Barracks’ 1905 Post Exchange Building.

My next stop will be the U.S Grant National Historic Site. The lives of U.S. Grant and family prior to the war are highlighted here in this park with five historic buildings including the main house, White Haven.

The original Grant family cabin, “Hardscrabble” is located in the Grant’s Farm wildlife park operated by Anheuser-Busch adjacent to the NPS site. It has been moved many times, most recently to this site about a mile from it’s original location.

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Presentation at the Civil War Roundtable of Little Rock, Arkansas

FUMC_Allen_Talk-2A big thank you to the Civil War Roundtable of Little Rock, Arkansas. Sharlyn and I really appreciated your hospitality and help.  It was great meeting all of you. A special thanks to Lonnie Spikes for all of his help in organizing the presentation and hosting our visit.

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Aging Photographs of Ebenezer Allen

I had some more fun with the pictures of me as Ebenezer Allen. With the help of my Photoshop-savvy granddaughter Nikky, we made the images of Ebenezer Allen look antique. The instructions for doing this came from a Youtube clip.


My quest continues for a picture of the “real” Ebenezer Allen.

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Ebenezer Allen Visits Collin College

On March 29, 2017, I presented my class on “Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy” to students in the SAIL program at Collin College.

I departed from the usual format in my classes and taught the class as a living historian. For ninety minutes,  I tried my best to invoke what I thought Colonel Allen might sound like (a New Hampshire accent) and look like (in appropriate attire).

Here are a few pictures from the class.


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Civil War Photography

I just completed a class on Civil War Photography for the SAIL program at Collin College.

The first class presented the following topics:

  • In 1837 the first successful photographs was created by the daguerreotype process
  • The technology of wet plate photography used the reaction of silver oxides
  • Photographers took over a million ambrotypes (glass) and tintypes (metal)
  • The carte de visite (cdv) process used a glass, wet-plate negative that allowed for unlimited copies to be made on albumen paper
  • Stereographs were 3-D photographs taken with a twin-lens camera
  • Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan were the most famous Civil War photographers

Please see Civil War Photography – Class One (pdf)

In the second class, we examined the range of topics and subjects photographed from soldiers to presidents. We also viewed 3-D photographs.



The following links feature images from the Civil War.

Please see Civil War Photography – Class Two (pdf)

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19th Century Photographs

I have been searching for an elusive picture of Ebenezer Allen for my biography on Republic of Texas and State of Texas attorney general. Alas, so far my search has come up empty.

During my efforts, I discovered numerous sources of historic images. The best site is the Library of Congress Digital Collection.   The Brady-Handy Collection offers images from L. C. Handy and Mathew Brady.  The Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints collection is another worthy source with over 7,000 images.


This is a photograph of members of the West Point class of 1860 at Harrison’s Landing taken by Alexander Gardner in August 1862 during the Peninsular Campaign.


This is an image of the Naval monument at Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.


General Grant’s staff at City Point, VA in March 1865.

These are just a few of the thousand prints. Lastly, two generals who met untimely deaths: Lt. Gen. Thomas Jackson and Maj. Gen. George Custer.

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