Book Tour Stop Nov 6 – Author Pat Fitzhugh’s

elly cover_webMy ELLY HAYS tour stop for Nov 6th is at author Pat Fitzhugh’s. Pat penned the foreword for my book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” and is the foremost authority on the Bell Witch! NOBODY can tell a ghost story like this man. Check out his work on Amazon and visit my guest blog on his page. If you comment over there, you can win one of my books!






For the complete ELLY HAYS tour schedule, please visit my website!

ELLY HAYS online book tour

elly cover_webI’m sooooo very excited about my new book, ELLY HAYS. Elly was one of my ancestors, my 5th great grandmother, and I loved writing her story.

The tale takes place during the War of 1812 in the Mississippi Territory, a place we now call Alabama. She was a strong and amazingly courageous woman. I’m not going to give the story away here, as you’ll hear more about it over the next two weeks. I’m just here to announce the Elly Hays book tour will begin tomorrow!

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The ELLY HAYS book tour will kick off Monday night, November 4th, with an ONLINE RELEASE PARTY ON FACEBOOK. Everyone is welcome to attend. I have lots and lots of prizes to give away, including a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Stop by! 7-9 pm eastern.

We will continue with daily online stops, including the world debut of the video trailer Tuesday Nov 5, more info on Elly, the history of the War of 1812, excerpts, blurbs, reviews, and an interview with Elly herself. We’ll close out the tour with a LIVE TWITTER CHAT called “From Concept to Published” with some of my favorite indie authors and a book designer. That will be on Saturday, Nov 16, 4-5pm eastern, use hashtag #ellyhays. If you are an aspiring author, you definitely want to attend. If you are an established author, please stop by and chat with us. We can all learn from each other’s wisdom!

Prizes will be awarded at EVERY stop of the tour. Links to all stops are on my website at

An additional prize of a $25 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to one lucky winner who signs up for my newsletter during the tour. Prize will be awarded in the November 18th newsletter! Good luck! You can sign up on the website or HERE!

October Ancestry Challenge – Hays Rodgers

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 The October Ancestry Challenge 2013

23 posts – 23 days – 23 ancestors.

 Ancestor #18 – Hays Rodgers



Rodgers Hays SrHays Rodgers was my 4th great grandfather. He was married to Marey Ann Scott and had 14 children: Lewis, James, Allen, Jackson, Susannah, Stephen, William, Mary Ann (heroine of my book Okatibbee Creek and my 3rd great grandmother, ancestor #17), Timothy, Hays Jr, Wilson, John W, Elizabeth and Martha Jane. Geez, how can you even remember all those names. I call my two dogs by each other’s names.

His sons, Stephen and William, died in 1834 at the ages of 8 and 10. His son, James, died of typhoid in Nov of 1862. Between 1863 and 1864, his sons, Timothy, Wilson and John W,  all  died during the Civil War. Timothy and Wilson died of illness. John died of a gunshot wound to the stomach in Jonesboro, GA. Fortunately, Hays was not alive to witness the soldier’s deaths as he died of typhoid in Dec of 1862, a couple weeks after his son James.

He was born 1 Feb 1783 in Greene County, TN to James Rodgers and Elizabeth “Elly” Hays (heroine of my new book Elly Hays). He was the eldest son of 12 children. At the age of 18, he moved with his parents to Clarke Co, AL which was part of the Mississippi Territory at that time. Alabama didn’t become a state until 1819. He and his brother, Absolom, signed up for the Mississippi Militia in 1814, and were assigned to Capt Evan Austill’s company of volunteers in Maj Sam Dale’s Battalion to fight against the hostile Creek Indians. Hays remained in the Militia until Oct 1818, but was only called out once for a two-month tour.

MS Cemetery 076On 11 Dec 1816, he married Marey Ann Scott, who was from Georgia. In 1818, following the end of his military service, he, Marey, and 1st born Lewis, moved to Copiah Co, MS (what later became Simpson, MS). He started buying land and farming. He built the “Ole Stennis House” in 1857 at the age of 61 (with the help of 13 slaves). In 1860, the U.S. Census states Hays owned 13 slaves, a 640 acre (square mile) plantation, 2 horses, 3 mules, 10 cows, 4 oxen, 16 sheep, 60 swine, and $600 in farming instruments, for a total worth of $8400. However, most of his wealth was tied up in slaves, as they were worth about $1000 each – that’s probably a million bucks in today’s money.

Upon his death in Dec 1862 in Lauderdale Co, MS, he owned 690 acres of land and stock in the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which was sold and divided between his heirs. His wife died three months after him in March of 1863, also of typhoid.

His property was sold in 1869 at public auction on the steps of the Meridian Courthouse to Major Adam T Stennis, hence the name “Ole Stennis House.” It remained in the Stennis family for 100 years until 1970, then sat abandoned for two decades. It is now owned by the Hover family who have restored it as you can see by the photo above. Right before the property was auctioned in 1869, Hays Jr, who was the only son to return home from the war, albeit with a useless arm and a wilted spirit, sold his farm and moved to Alabama to be near his wife’s family. He sold his farm to a black man named Tom Stennis. Tom Stennis was a former slave to Major Adam T Stennis.

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Saturday Snippet – Complete with Music and Indians

Saturdays are the days I usually post snippets of one of my books, but today is slightly different. As many of you know, when I’m not writing historical fiction books, I’m playing music – the whole “professional musician by night, indie author by day” thing. That being said, I tend to get caught up in the music of the time of whatever book I’m writing. My latest work takes place in 1812, the setting is the Mississippi Territory, known today as Clarke County, Alabama, and a few of the characters are Mvskoke (Muskogee Creek Indian.) Because of this, I’ve been listening to traditional Creek music for the last few months, and this particular song has stuck in my head. It feels more like an ancient chant than a song, and I can’t stop playing it. It is “Heleluyvn.”

elly cover_webHere’s an excerpt from “Elly Hays” coming Nov 4 to all online retailers. Elly is my 5th great grandmother, and the book is the third in the Okatibbee Creek series.


The laborers had erected a small makeshift platform in the middle of the meadow. It rose two feet off the ground so Tecumseh could be seen above the massive gathering of people. Rumors had circulated for months that he would come, as it had been foretold by a bright comet in the nighttime sky in March of 1811, and the gathering crowd numbered into the hundreds, perhaps closer to a thousand, representing over a dozen of the twenty Mvskoke clans.

As the people waited for him to take the platform, they grew increasingly impatient. They had been assembling for days to hear him speak, so not only were they weary from their travels, but the scorching sun was not improving their disposition. The air was as stagnant as the wait, with not even the slightest of breezes to offer relief from the stifling heat. The afternoon sun melting into evening had made them agitated, and they grumbled and occasionally began chanting for the great warrior to appear and address them. When he did not take the platform after a few minutes, the chanting quieted to a dull objection, only to start up again within a short amount of time.

Over the last few months, reports had surfaced that the Americans would once again declare war against the British. Before and since the revolution, the British had befriended the Indians, asking for their help in warding off the Americans’ expansion. Since the Indians considered the land theirs in the first place, they were pleased to oblige. The Indians had never asked for a favor in return, but the waves of white settlers were growing, continually trespassing upon their tribal land. They needed help, they needed answers, they needed to stop the encroachment. They eagerly awaited Tecumseh’s speech and they were anxious to hear a plan. They wanted to know what he wanted of them. If the reports of an impending war were true, perhaps this was the time to join forces with the British and defeat the white man once and for all.

Finally, a group of elders dressed in vibrant tribal robes with headdresses embellished with porcupine fur and hawk feathers stepped up onto the platform. The cheer began small and grew to a fevered pitch as it spread across the field of warriors like a breeze washing over wheat. The elders greeted the crowd and led them in singing their tribal anthem, “Heleluyvn,” following which the crowd erupted again in anticipation of the great warrior’s arrival.

Elly Hays is available at Amazon

Flirting with Sailors in the War of 1812


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I went to Put in Bay, Ohio to witness a spectacle.2013-09-01 21.01.37It was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie and the very first naval re-enactment of the battle – and it will probably be the last.

You must understand, this is hours away from my house and I rose at 4freakin’a.m. to go there. THAT’S how cool this was.


2013-09-01 20.55.55Early in the misty morning, a dozen tall ships docked in port, loaded sailors, filled gun powder stores, and headed out to fight in the middle of the lake, most likely making the Coast Guard absolutely nuts. I’m sure it was an exorbitant amount of logistics to plan and a pretty penny to finance, and I am so grateful to have been a witness, as I’m fascinated by these beauties. 2013-09-01 21.25.19










P1030809And when all of the preparations were done and the morning fog began to dissipate, they raised their sails.


It was magnificent.






One of the awesome things I learned was Capt. James Lawrence was mortally injured in an earlier battle in June 1813 in Chesapeake Bay, and on his death bed, he told his crew, “Don’t give up the ship.”

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His friend Capt. Oliver Hazard Perry (pictured below) had that quote sewn onto a flag and flew it above his ship the USS Niagara during the Sept 1813 battle. It became the battle cry for the American fleet.




What an AMAZING day!

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Wednesday Writer’s Corner – Aug 7, 2013

In honor of my coming October book release of “Elly Hays,” today’s Writer’s Corner will be about the book’s heroine, Elizabeth Hays Rodgers, and how she came to be the center of a novel.

She was the only daughter of Samuel Hays and Elizabeth Priscilla Crawford, born in North Carolina in 1774. She spent her young childhood in the unrest of the Revolutionary War. She married when she was sixteen, and after twenty-one years of marriage and eleven children, her husband decided to uproot the family from Tennessee and start a new life in the Mississippi Territory. Considering what they were walking into, I had to write her story. A portion of it is below. It will help you understand that area of the country at that time in history.

The (unedited) Prologue

In 1811, America was on the verge of war. The victory in the Revolutionary War gave Americans their independence, but the newly formed country had many unresolved issues. Americans had a vast frontier to settle and they considered the land now known as Canada to be part of their land. They wanted to expand northward and westward, but the British joined forces with the Native Indians in an attempt to prevent the Americans from expanding in either direction.

The British had also begun restricting America’s trade with France and the mighty Royal Navy ruled the seas. The Royal Navy had more than tripled in size due to their war with France, and they needed sailors. They captured American merchant ships off the coast of America and forced the men with British accents to join the ranks of the Royal Navy, proclaiming they were not American, but indeed British. Kidnappings and power struggles in shipping ports like New Orleans loomed over the newly formed United States.

The British not only invaded the southern coastal cities of the United States, but also the eastern seaboard, attacking Baltimore and New York, and burning Washington D.C. to the ground. The War of 1812 is historically referred to as the second war for independence. It was the battle for boundaries and identity for the Americans.

Sadly, the Native American Indians had the most to lose in the power struggle. Shawnee warrior Tecumseh was but a child when he witnessed his father brutally murdered by a white frontiersman. His family moved from village to village and witnessed each destroyed at the hands of the white men during and after the American Revolution. As a young teen, following the Revolution, he formed a band of warriors who attempted to block the expansion of the white man into their territory, but the effort saw no lasting result. Conflict with the white man was a battle he had fought all his life, and as a warrior now in his early forties, he knew the stakes were high for the Indians in the coming battle. He traveled the southeast, coaxing the numerous Indian nations to unite against the white man, promising help from the British in the form of weapons and ammunition, and offering reinstatement of the Indian’s lost lands upon victory. Tecumseh’s prophet, who traveled with him into Creek territory, forecasted a victory, foreseeing no Creeks being wounded or killed in the battle.

In the Eastern Mississippi Territory, which later became the state of Alabama, the Creek Indians were divided. Many Creek villages had been trading with the white man for years and participated in civilization programs offered by the United States government. These Creeks had been taught the ways of the white man. They spoke English, could read and write, and even incorporated white man’s tools into their daily lives. They traded or were given gifts of plows, looms, and spinning wheels, and had no qualms with the white man. Many had married whites, and they did not want to join in the fight.

In opposition, many villages joined with Tecumseh, for they wanted to maintain their way of life, claiming the white man’s ways would destroy their culture. They had witnessed the white man encroaching on their lands, destroying their forests and villages, and polluting their streams. And probably, some suspected the white man’s intent was not co-existence but domination, for they had seen this come to fruition in the treatment of the black slaves.

In 1811 and 1812, tribal tensions were growing due to these differences in beliefs, and this caused a great war in the Creek nation called The Red Stick War. It was a civil war fought between the Creek people, but by 1813, it expanded to include the American frontiersmen and the U.S. government. At the height of the War of 1812, the Creeks were at war with nearly everyone, including their own people.

It was in this turmoil that a white farming family moved from their home in Tennessee to the fertile farmlands of the eastern Mississippi Territory, a place known today as Clarke County, Alabama. James Rodgers, his wife Elly, and their eleven children unknowingly entered a hornet’s nest.

If you have read the first book in the Okatibbee Creek series, “Okatibbee Creek,” you will be familiar with its heroine, Mary Ann Rodgers. “Elly Hays” is about Mary Ann’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Hays Rodgers, better known as Elly. If you have not read any of the Okatibbee Creek series, they are a collection of stories about one family and the strong women of our past. These are the real-life stories of my grandmothers, aunts, and cousins, but if you live in the U. S., they could also be the stories of your female ancestors – the women who fought for us, for our safety, our lives, and our freedom, and who sacrificed everything with the depth of their love and their astounding bravery.

Elly Hays will be release October 2013 in paperback, Kindle, and Nook.

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Lunch and Literature in 1812

Tomorrow I’m having lunch at the Sawyer House.


The property is located in Monroe, Michigan. There have been two homes built on the property. The original house was built by Francois Navarre on land given to him by the Potawatomi Tribe. The house is named after one of its residents, Dr. Alfred Sawyer, who lived there from 1859-1870. The original house was demolished and a new one built in 1873. Dr. Sawyer never lived in the current house, but it remained in his family until his daughter donated it to the city of Monroe in 1973.

Following lunch, my ladies from the United States Daughters of 1812 are having a bench dedication at the River Raisin National Battlefield, commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

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My 1812 soldier is Hays Rodgers.

While I was writing this little blurb, my phone rang and a lady told me my book “Okatibbee Creek” won the bronze medal in Literary Fiction at the 2012 eLit Book Awards. Check the book out on Amazon. The book is about Hays Rodgers’s daughter. “Wow, that’s a weird coincidence,” said the award-winning author. 🙂

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A to Z Challenge – U is for U.S. Military

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

U is for U.S. Military

My grandfathers who served:

An * denotes he died in service.

Joel Bluett Culpepper – Confederate Army

William Thomas Fisher – Confederate Army

William Lafayette Brown Jr – Confederate Army

Rev. Joseph M Culpepper – Confederate Army *

Rice Benjamin Carpenter – Confederate Army *

George Washington Spencer – Confederate Army

James C Howington – Confederate Army

William Henry Blanks III – Confederate Army

Hays Rodgers – War of 1812

William Henry Blanks I – American Revolution

Joseph Culpepper Jr – American Revolution

Thomas Young – American Revolution

John B Rice – American Revolution

James Rodgers Sr – American Revolution

Captain Jacob Prickett – American Revolution

My uncles who served:

George M Graham – Confederate Army

Timothy Rodgers – Confederate Army *

Wilson Rodgers – Confederate Army *

Hays Rodgers Jr – Confederate Army

John W Rodgers – Confederate Army *

Benjamin M Culpepper – Confederate Army

Hilliard Carpenter – Confederate Army *

James Monroe Chatham – Confederate Army *

Rev. James Lafayette Blanks – Confederate Army

Richard Lane Blanks – Confederate Army

John Henry Brown – Confederate Army

Absolom Rodgers – War of 1812

…and so very many more. Sleep well, soldiers. Your job is done.

A to Z Challenge – T is for Tradition

Blogging from A to Z April 2013 Challenge

T is for Tradition

What better way to preserve history and honor those who have come before than to be an active member in societies? I never understood what societies did until I became a member of a few. What they do is preserve and honor tradition. They don’t allow ritual and sacrifice be forgotten. The groups I belong to are service organizations, dedicated to promoting patriotism and history, and they follow strict rules of tradition.

small logoI belong to the United States Daughters of 1812 under my 4th great grandfather Hays Rodgers who fought for the Mississippi Militia. He was assigned to Capt Evan Austill’s company of volunteers in Maj Sam Dale’s Battalion to fight against the hostile Creek Indians.

Here is the U.S.D. of 1812’s purpose copied from their website:

The U.S.D. of 1812, founded in 1892, is a volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving and increasing knowledge of the history of the American people by the preservation of documents and relics, marking of historic spots, recording of family histories and traditions, celebration of patriotic anniversaries, teaching and emphasizing the heroic deeds of the civil, military, and naval life of those who molded this Government between the close of the American Revolution and the close of the War of 1812, to urge Congress to compile and publish authentic records of men in civil, military, and naval service from 1784 to 1815 inclusive, and to maintain at National Headquarters in Washington D.C., a museum and library of memorabilia of the 1784-1815 period.

(photo: Hays Rodgers)

Rodgers Hays Sr


I also belong to the Daughters of the American Revolution under my 5th great grandfather Joseph Culpepper who fought for the 3rd South Carolina (Rangers) Regiment.

A little piece of their purpose from their website includes: The DAR, founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.

colorwebbollIf that’s not enough to do, I also belong to the United Daughters of the Confederacy under my 2nd great grandfather Joel B Culpepper who fought for the 63rd Alabama Infantry Co K .

The UDC exists to (from their website):

  • To collect and preserve the material necessary for a truthful history of the War Between the States and to protect, preserve, and mark the places made historic by Confederate valor
  • To assist descendants of worthy Confederates in securing a proper education
  • To fulfill the sacred duty of benevolence toward the survivor of the War and those dependent upon them
  • To honor the memory of those who served and those who fell in the service of the Confederate States of America
  • To record the part played during the War by Southern women, including their patient endurance of hardship, their patriotic devotion during the struggle, and their untiring efforts during the post-War reconstruction of the South
  • To cherish the ties of friendship among the members of the Organization

(photo: Joel B Culpepper)

culpepper Joel B Culpepper

I am honored and blessed to be a small part of these organizations and to carry on the traditions of the women who served before me.