We Need Another James Ulio

We could use another James A. Ulio in the midst of the COVID 19 crisis. We desperately need someone to fix the current logistical mess in supplying medical supplies to hospitals and health care workers — someone like Major General James A. Ulio. 

Ulio faced the task of building an Army large enough to fight wars in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. Through his efforts, the Army increased in size from around 200,000 soldiers to eight million—in less than five years. He advocated and navigated around lowering the draft age to eighteen. He led and oversaw training efforts that quickly and efficiently prepared soldiers. The general correctly projected that those methods would be a positive outcome of the war. His team identified the appropriate allocation for incoming troops. In order to field sufficient troops to ensure an Allied victory, Ulio had to address and challenge commonly held beliefs on race and gender. It was his order in 1944 that ended segregation on military transportation and in recreational facilities on Army posts.

Thankfully, Alan Mesches has written an excellent biography of General Ulio. Alan’s book reveals Ulio’s unrecognized contributions to the war effort.  This biography should be on every World War II student’s bookcase.

For more information and to order a copy,  please see  Major General James A. Ulio 


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Learning How to Write

For readers who are considering writing a novel, biography, memoir, how-to guide, history, etc., I think the best way to get started is by taking a writing class. That’s how I began my journey.


Collin College  (Collin College Webpage)

I prefer onsite classes rather than with online programs. There are several options at Collin College in Texas.




The formal, for-credit classroom courses at Collin College can be found at:

  • ENGL 1301 – Composition I – Intensive study of and practice in writing processes, from invention and researching to drafting, revising, and editing, both individually and collaboratively.
  • ENGL 1302 – Composition II – Intensive study of and practice in the strategies and techniques for developing research-based expository and persuasive texts.
  • ENGL 2307 – Creative Writing I – Practical experience in the techniques of imaginative writing. May include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, or drama.

These are rigorous college classes with homework and tests. They require admission to the college. You may be able to audit the classes and free yourself of the rigors of assignments and exams.


Collin College – Courtyard Campus (Collin Collge Webpage)

Taking continuing education classes is another option. These classes do not require admission to the college unless they lead to a certificate. This is the route that I selected.

The continuing education classroom courses at Collin College can be found at:



  • Basics of Writing a Novel Subject: CWRI 9216 – Hours: 24 Fee: $149 73478 1/27–3/16 M 6:30–9:30 pm 202072 CY
  • Blueprinting Your Novel Subject: CWRI 9200 – Hours: 15 Fee: $129 Prerequisite: Basics of Writing a Novel 73479 3/23–4/27 M 6:30–9 pm 202072 CY Market and Promote Your Novel Subject: CWRI 9215 Hours: 12 Fee: $119 73480 4/16–5/7 R 6:30–9 pm 202072 CY
  • Market and Promote Your Novel Subject: CWRI 9215 Hours: 12 Fee: $119 73480 4/16–5/7 R 6:30–9 pm 202072 CY
  • Memoir Writing I Subject: CWRI 9226 – Hours: 12 Fee: $89 73483 1/29–3/4 W 10 am-noon 202072 CY
  • Memoir Writing II Subject: CWRI 9227 – Hours: 12 Fee: $89 73484 1/29–3/4 W 12:30–2:30 pm 202072 CY

Check out your local community colleges and universities to find a class that meets your needs.


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Some Thoughts to Improve Writing

Crossword Puzzles

Finish-a-Crossword-Puzzle-Step-6-Version-2I like to do crossword puzzles. As an author I learn new words and their definition and correct spelling.  They are a good way to add to your vocabulary.

Read Aloud Function in Microsoft Word

Editing an English language documentI have been using the Read Aloud Function in Microsoft Word to edit my articles, blogs, and books. It is a great way to catch errors and overused words and phrases. I guarantee it will help your writing.

In a Microsoft Word document, select the review function and examine the many editing opportunities available.  Select Read Aloud and begin listening to your writing. You can concentrate on editing the document. You can pause reading when you make corrections.

Other useful options in this menu are Check Document, Thesaurus, and Word Count.  Check document will check for spelling and grammar. Be aware that it will identify problems in quoted material. The Thesaurus is great to find words which are better fits in your document and suggest alternate words. I also use Word Count to keep within editors limitations (only 200, 1000, or 100,000 words).

What editing tools do you use?

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Article in North & South Magazine

North-South-II (1)In late December 2019, I was contacted by the editor of North & South Magazine about writing an article Major General Charles F. Smith based on my book Teacher of Civil War Generals – Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant.  It will be quite a challenge, boiling down/omitting information to bring my article down to 4,000 to 5,000 words.  You can download and read a sample article on the About page.

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Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy is Available for Pre-order and Review

Ebenezer_Allen_Final_CoverEbenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy is officially available for pre-order. The release date is July 15, 2020. My publisher is holding a contest for pre-orders, and the winner gets twenty books to donate to area schools. Your pre-order will help educate students about Ebenezer Allen’s role in Texas history. Pre-order book.

I have completed a draft of my biography Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy. The book is scheduled for release on July 15, 2020. The publisher suggested I add “blurbs” about the book and author on the back cover.

I am looking for people who will review the book and/or are familiar with my authoring to write brief recommendations/endorsements for my biography of Ebenezer Allen. This is not editing. I only need around three sentences to help create interest in buying and reading the book. Waldorf Publishing markets their books to libraries and schools. Educators, librarians, and historians would be most helpful.

Would you be interested in writing a few sentences for the book? It would mean a great deal to me if you gave an endorsement based on your knowledge of me, experience with my books, reading the biography, and your previous or current position. Potential readers pay attention to who gave the blurb, and judge the book based on the person endorsing it.

A good blurb will indicate the book is significant, provide proof the author is worthy, help readers that the book is relevant to them, and most importantly, convince a potential reader to buy the book.

The following are examples from Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Price novel, The Killer Angels.

“The best Civil War novel ever written, even better than The Red Badge of Courage.” – Stephen B. Coats

“My favorite historical novel …. It is a superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.” ̶ James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“A book that changed my life…. I had never visited Gettysburg, knew almost nothing about that battle before I read the book, but here it all came alive …. I wept. No book, novel or nonfiction, had ever done that to me before.” ̶ Ken Burns, film maker and co-author of The Civil War

The following are examples from John Waugh’s Class of 1846.

“John C. Waugh, a distinguished journalist, gives to his story of the class a special and very human dimension that is missing from their standard biographies and autobiographies.” ̶ Edwin C. Bearss, author of Vicksburg Campaign

“Waugh skillfully traces the transformation of 1842’s callow plebes into some of the most important Civil War leaders on either side.” ̶ Robert K. Krick, author of Stonewall at Cedar Mountain

“A compelling work which entertains as well informs the general reader.” ̶ James L. Morrison, Jr., author of The Best School in the World: West Point, the Pre-Civil War Years, 1833-1860

As you can see, the blurbs are short and do not require an in-depth reading of the book. However, credentials are important. This is not the time to be modest.

I hope you will consider my request.


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Oops! Errors in Historic Markers

The City of Allen applied to Texas authorities for a historic monument. Regrettably it was not approved. Some of the errors in the application might have led to it’s rejection.

Though the man for whom the town [of Allen] is named never lived here, Ebenezer Allen is an important … character in the story of Texas and is, therefore, an important figure to the city as well. Mister Allen came to Clarksville, Texas, in 1839 [1] from Maine with his wife and four children and established a law practice. In 1844 he was elected [2] Attorney General for the Republic of Texas and served in that capacity [3] when Texas was annexed to the United States. As Attorney General, ‘he drew up all the legal papers in connection with the Annexation of Texas in to the Union.’ [4] (Clarksville Times, February 13, 1959) In 1846 he moved to Galveston. And in 1850 he became the first man “elected” as attorney general for the state of Texas, the previous four having been appointed.

On March 11, 1848 Mr. Allen was awarded a Charter by the state to build a railroad. In his attempts to build it he was met with contempt and ridicule [5]. These people believed that the first railroad in Texas (and the only railroad in Texas at that time), the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad, amply served the needs of the state. Unable to get state funding [6] for the project he fired all the original board members and replaced them with men of wealth and property. (Reed, History of Texas Railroads) With their help he was able to get his initial funding and work began on Texas’ second railroad in 1853. At the outbreak of the civil war in 1861, 80 miles of track had been laid northward out of Houston at which time work on the railroad had ceased. During the civil war, Allen was involved in the torpedo industry for The Confederacy and died of apoplexy in a Richmond, Virginia restaurant on November 20th, 1863 [7]. (The Northern Standard, December 5, 1863.)

Regrettably, the marker was not approved by the Texas Historical Commission. There is no record of the reasons that the application was not accepted. Perhaps errors and omissions in the application caused the denial.

  1. Allen came to Texas in 1840 not 1839.
  2. In 1844, Sam Houston appointed Allen attorney general for the Republic of Texas. Allen was not elected to that post.
  3. When Anson Jones was elected president of the Republic, he selected Allen as attorney general. Shortly after his appointment, Allen was assigned the role of interim Secretary of State. He was more than attorney general during the annexation process.
  4. He played an important role in the annexation process, especially as an intermediary between President Jones and the United States chargé d’affaires to Texas Andrew J. Donelson. Many people were involved in forming documents associated with annexation.
  5. Allen applied for a charter to establish the Galveston and Red River Railroad.. Galveston residents were reluctant to invest in the road. They believed that communities that benefited from the road should pay for it. They focused their investments on improvements to port facilities.
  6.  When he was unable to obtain the funds necessary to meet the state’s requirements, he transferred the charter to Paul Bremond and Thomas House. Bremond and House included Allen on the railway’s board of directors. The name of line was changed to the Houston and Texas Central Railway on September 1, 1856.
  7. Allen represented Robert Creuzbaur and tried to obtain a patent for the Sea King.
  8. Allen and Creuzbaur worked as civilians for the Engineer Bureau of the Confederate States Army.
  9. Allen died under mysterious circumstances at the Gem Saloon in Richmond, Virginia on October 15, 1863 not on November 20, 1863.

Some of these errors became part of two markers at Allen Station Park.


  1. Allen was born in Newport, New Hampshire not in Maine.
  2. He moved to Clarksville, Texas in 1840.


3. The picture labeled Ebenezer Allen is actually Ebenezer Allen, Jr.

I hope that Allen will correct the errors in these markers and reapply for a State of Texas marker with the corrections noted above.

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Photographs of Historical Places in Allen, TX

We spent time in Allen, TX taking pictures of various historical places connected to Ebenezer Allen.  The Allen Depot is a replica of the original train depot.


Old Stone Dam – Cottonwood Creek


Plaque near the Old Stone Dam


Detail on plaque about the “Stone Dam at Allen Station”


Abandoned Tracks by Allen Depot


Side Entrance of Allen Depot


In Front of Allen Depot


Allen Depot


Abandoned Railroad Tracks

Photographs by Sharlyn K. Mesch.

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Publisher for Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy

After sending out over two hundred inquires to publishers, I am pleased to announce  that Waldorf Publishing has agreed to publish Ebenezer Allen – Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy.  Their books are reasonably priced from $9.95 to $16.95. Their publications for 2019 are presented on their home page.

Now I am beginning the “hard work”required to move the book from draft to a bookstore shelf.  The book is up to 291 pages and 93,887 words. I have completed a list of topics for the index and a very detailed bibliography.  At this moment I have 85 images and I need to reduce this number to 45 to 50. I am reviewing references to determine where I need to request permissions.

I am looking for people who are familiar with my books to write brief recommendations/endorsements for my biography of Ebenezer Allen.  This is not editing. I only need around three sentences to help create interest in buying and reading the book. Waldorf Publishing markets their books to libraries and schools. People with educational and library experience would be most helpful. I will write a post describing the process.


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Modified and Misquoted

Authors hate it when their writing is modified or misquoted.
One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Jefferson’s 1787 letter to William Stephens Smith.

330px-Official_Presidential_portrait_of_Thomas_Jefferson_(by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800)(cropped)“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” This sentence is often used to justify violence in connection with political positions. I find it amusing the following sentence is never included in the quote: “It is it’s natural manure.” Does equating blood with manure make the first sentence less noble?

330px-William-Tecumseh-ShermanGeneral William Sherman’s quote on war is simplified to “war is hell.” The full sentence is “There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations yet to come.”



270px-Leo_Durocher_1948Leo Durocher’s baseball quote is usually given as “Nice guys finish last.” The actual quote is “Nice guys actually finish seventh” or “Take a look at them. All nice guys. They’ll finish last. Nice guys – finish last.”


A rather bad misquote is from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The incorrect quote is “The devil is in the details.” The correct quote is “God is in the details.”

Lastly, a quote from English poet Violet Fane often stated as “Good things come to those who wait.” However, what she actually said was “All things come to he who waits (…) they come, but often come too late.”

The list goes on and on. Perhaps the culprit is the newspaper. Sherman is quoted as saying, “I think I know what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.” Walt Whitman in letter to his mother during the Civil War. “The fighting has been hard enough, but the papers make lots of additional items, and a good deal they just entirely make up.


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An adjective is a word that modifies a noun or pronoun to make it more specific.

woman-typing-writing-windowsAdjectives are a writer’s best friend. They help describe a person, place, or thing to allow a reader to form a mental picture of a subject.  For example: 

“Sarah asked the man for directions.” or “Sarah asked the old, bald-headed man for directions.”

“The building was home to the local Masonic Lodge.” or “The two story, wood building was home to the local Masonic Lodge.”

Adjectives bring stories to life and bring the reader into the narrative.

However, there are some adjectives that I would like to see abolished, especially when they refer to people. The phrase “tall black man” may be useful in writing, but does it have a place in describing people?  Do we have to add racial, ethnic, and religious labels to identify or “classify” people?  These adjectives only point out differences between people and say nothing about an individual’s personality, skills, traits, and values. They attach group values to an individual based on past experience with a group or categorization of people based what important people believe or want you to believe.

ethnic_groupsI believe that most of the time these labels are racist in intent. They are superficial and demeaning, the vocabulary of lazy and bigoted minds. We should not describe our friends with labels such as: “my black friend John,” “my Jewish doctor Nathan,”  “my Catholic neighbor Mary,” “my Hispanic teammate Peter,” or “my son’s Asian girl friend Nancy.”

ethnic_youngYoung people do not feel the necessity of employing these labels, let’s hope that they can set an example for all of us.

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