Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mendenhall Village Fair 2016

In just a few more days, the annual Village Fair will return to Mendenhall Homeplace in Jamestown, N.C.

Tannery Books will have a pop-up shop on the porch of the Dr. Madison Lindsay house. The century-old home (built by 1817) also served as a medical school.



The Village Fair will be Saturday, July 15, from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, including self-tours of the historical buildings.

A carriage sits outside the Pennsylvania-style barn at the 2016 Village Fair. Inside the barn is one of two false-bottom wagons in the country that were used to smuggle slaves along the Underground Railroad.



A blacksmith from High Point Museum plies his trade in the shady yard.












The doctor is IN.

Costumed interpreters provide a sense of life here in the 19th century.












The cast of 'Pathway to Freedom' sings soulful selections from the outdoor drama at 3 pm.








If you're in the central part of the state, Moore County Genealogical Society will have a day of seminars starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 15. Topics include researching around burned courthouses and lost records, DNA, and the North Carolina Archives.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Evolution of a Bookshop

Locals have seen Tannery Books move through different phases since I opened the doors on March 11, 2011. This article on Think Creative Collective outlines the business history of the bookshop as a bricks-and-mortar shop, a small cooperative, pop-up shops, and a permanent booth in an antique mall.

Here are a few pictures and links to go with that history.

Tannery Books - May 2011

Shopping center storefront

A rented space, with a lot of work to do. More about getting ready here and here, but without pictures.
Paint and carpet and getting ready
Opening Day - Boy, does the shop look empty!
My temporary assistant, "the little bookseller" (He's grown quite a bit since this picture!)
Tannery Books at one year (still a little sparse looking)

Book signings
Karen McCollough and my "Mystery" window dressing
Dale Crotts with thrillers
Jennifer Hudson Taylor with Quaker fiction

Partnership or mini-co-op

In 2013, Kathy Carter of Cat's Cradle Books and I teamed up to share the bookshop space with our two separate businesses. Not only did we split the bills, but shared the workload (we both had small part-time jobs), and the inventory of books doubled. Although the small-town bottom line forced us to close later that year, it was a wonderful experiment. A successful online seller, Kathy got to try out a physical shop without long-term leases and such, and I learned a lot from her experience.

Combining shops - February 2013


Pop-up shops

GenFest in 2012
Village Fair in 2012
StellarCon in 2013
Mendenhall Village Fair in 2013

Antique mall or co-op

My first half-booth, 2015
Full-size booth: Tannery Books' fifth anniversary and Star Trek premiere, both in 2016.

Tannery Books booth at Bush Hill Trading Post - April 2017

Who knows what the future holds? Today's world of bookselling requires constant adaptation. If you'd like to follow along, go to Tannery Books website, scroll down and sign up for monthly e-mails.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, George Takei!

Happy Birthday to George Takei, born 80 years ago (April 20) in Los Angeles, California.

I can't believe it's been a year since I saw him speak at the Bryan Series in Greensboro, North Carolina. Famous for his role as helmsman Lt. Sulu (later Captain Sulu) in Star Trek, Takei spoke about Gene Roddenberry's groundbreaking vision that went into the series.

Roddenberry envisioned the starship U.S.S. Enterprise as a miniature version of planet Earth. The international crewmembers represented the people and nations of Earth: Captain Kirk was North America, Scotty was Britain or Europe, Sulu was Asia, and Chekhov was Russia.  Lt. Uhura represented not only Africa, but also American Indians. In reality, several of the actors were Canadian. And, at the height of the Cold War, Walter Koenig (Checkhov) was from Chicago, not Russia.

As a lifetime fan of Star Trek, I read George Takei's autobiography, To the Stars, around 1995-1996. Only a few chapters in this long and interesting life story are about the T.V. show and spin-off movies. I was astonished to learn that American-born Takei and his family were imprisoned during World War II as part of the Japanese-American internment policy, wherein thousands of people were uprooted from their homes and sent to prison camps. I had never learned that dark piece of American history.

My reading of the book coincided with a couple of business trips to California. Influenced by Takei's California stories, I tried sushi for the first time (and loved it ever since) and stuck my fist in John Wayne's fist print at Mann's Chinese Theatre.

When Star Trek's original series cast got their own square in the Theatre's Hollywood Walk of Fame, they were supposed to only write their names so all seven could fit. But Takei, who had grown up in L.A., wasn't about to be shortchanged in this dream-come-true moment. When it came his turn, he signed his name, then placed his hand firmly in the cement. The rest of the cast came back and added their handprints – Leonard Nimoy's in the "Live long and prosper" Vulcan salute.

Monday, March 27, 2017

QUIP 2017 - a writing retreat in South Carolina


I went to the Quakers Uniting in Publications annual conference this month at Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, a place draped in Spanish moss and historical buildings. It's the site of an early school for freed slaves, started early in the American Civil War.



We stayed in Benezet House, a century-old dorm that housed female students and teachers and hosted classes and co-ed chapel services.


It was nice staying together in one building, grabbing coffee or tea in the morning or settling into couches with our laptops in the shared living room.


QUIP planned more down-time, this year, between guest speakers and business sessions, so there was a little time to walk down to the water and around the historical buildings, or to think and write.



Last year's storms had closed the public (ocean) beach. After a tumble that left me bruised and a little wobbly, I kept my explorations to the inside of the old house.


I'd noticed chimneys and cupola vents from the outside and wondered if the attic might be accessible. There were, indeed, easy stairs up, but the access was partially covered by a large, precarious piece of scrap wood. I peeked through the opening and decided not to try to wrestle the covering.








Most of the attic was filled with modern HVAC ductwork and blown-in insulation. One curious thing was a small wooden room, built up to the roof. What was it used for - storage? Was it used to hide something?








Covered circles in the chimneys and the wide hallway upstairs indicated that wood stoves were used for heat. A beautiful, built-in armoire in the hallway must have been shared. We looked into the room behind it and discovered the space inside is now used for closets, but the facade of doors and drawers has been preserved!


The small museum across the street was loaded with information about the school and the Gullah people who lived on the islands (no photography allowed).


You can read more about Penn Center in Penn Center: A History Preserved.


Here are posts about QUIP 2012, 2011 (and here),

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I found my ancestor – Not There!

For the past year or so, I've been poring through texts about the American Civil War, especially the Battle of Gettysburg, as research for a book about my ancestor Thomas Maness. Modern books about the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Regiment, antique books from the library published by old veterans at the dawn of the 20th century, archived maps and narratives.

I hate it.

Technology and terrain brought "enfilading fire" from cannon down upon the troops, while tactics that hadn't changed much since the Revolutionary War kept men marching toward the enemy in all-important line. My great-great-grandfather's regiment, the 26th North Carolina Infantry, lost the highest number (and percentage) of men of any regiment in any battle in the War (Underwood, p. 58). His company, Company H, reported only six men on the duty roster who hadn't been killed, wounded, or captured.

Since Thomas Maness didn't die in the war, and wasn't captured until the following year, I set out to prove that he was one of those six men.

I'd been using Civil War service cards for Thomas: individual records that were transcribed years ago from old rosters (found in Fold3, from microfilm at the National Archives). Besides dates of service and POW time, the cards contain rich details like height and eye color, and the fact that Thomas couldn't read or write (he made his mark). I created a timeline, putting the information in order, and realized there was a huge gap in Thomas' records through much of 1863. That was frustrating, since the Battle of Gettysburg occurred 1-3 July 1863.

I almost went to D.C. last year, but fortunately found out that the information on Fold3 was all the National Archives had as far as service records. I finally found out the original muster rolls were closer to home, in the North Carolina State Archives, and planned a trip to Raleigh.

The archives where I work contains many old ledger books of church records, and that's what I expected for the muster rolls. To my surprise, the librarians brought out huge sheets the size of unfolded road maps. Each sheet detailed one payday and muster (attendance) for Company H, with names and details listed down both sides.

Company H muster roll for 30 June 1863

I went straight to the critical date of 30 June 1863. Ignorant of the large Union force in the nearby town of Gettysburg, but wonderfully timed for future historians, the Confederate army mustered and paid their soldiers the night before the battle. That muster has been used to cite who was in the Battle, although usually by numbers rather than individuals.

The ink or pencil on this particular sheet had faded so much I strained to read it. Finally I found T. S. Maness at the very bottom on the front. I leaned over and followed the line across the page to faint writing in the "Remarks" column: "C[ont] in hospital at Petersburg, V. A." Thomas wasn't paid that day, although his cousin on the line below, Jonas Sedberry Maness, was paid $22.00 for 2 months.

Thomas wasn't there.

I was shocked and pleased and probably laughed. All that research for nothing – my ancestor wasn't even in the Battle of Gettysburg! Why was it funny? Because it matched up with oral history, passed on by Thurman Maness and Lacy Garner. The stories said that when Thomas felt a particularly awful battle coming up, he took "salts" (laxatives) and made himself sick enough to miss it.

Thomas Maness might not have been the most honorable man in the world, but he was certainly a character. His scrappy wit kept him alive — and without that, I wouldn't be here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Books of 2016 - and a Giveaway

Books for Business and Life

Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant To Do - I enjoyed reading an advanced copy of Chris Guillebeau's latest book, and I'm ready to read it again. You don't have to be a full-time entrepreneur to enjoy it; tips and stories include "side hustles" and improving your current job. (Read my review here.)


Would you like to win a free copy of Born For This? Simply leave a comment on this blog post by Friday night, Feb. 3. Be sure to include a way to contact you if you win (e-mail or instagram handle).*


I read part of and skimmed The Courage to Be Rich, but it's terribly outdated. These sound principles for personal finance were written prior to 9-11 (2001), before ideas like skipping that "daily" restaurant coffee became so cliche.

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity – Part thriller and part mind-blowing religious perspective. Aside from a few spots in the middle where the same idea was repeated over and over, this was one of those unique books that leaves you thinking after the final page.

Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep YoursAlive – I highly recommend this book, especially for small church groups.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – I'm still recovering. Or, well... my loveseat is still recovering (where I stacked things). I read the whole book but only attempted the first phase of cleaning out, which resulted in me donating eight bags of clothes – eight bags! For people who want to declutter, I think we need a combination of this KonMari big-event method and FlyLady's 15-minutes-a-day method. The author, Marie Kondo, seems OCD and "born organized." One good idea I took away is that things are a function of time: it's easier to let go when something has already served its purpose. But Marla Cilley, known as the FlyLady, understands those of us who are not constantly cleaning but have 100 things on our minds.

Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer’s Block Goodbye – a quick read with lots of practical ideas.

Books for Genealogy and Writing

Forensic Genealogy – The author is another engineer turned genealogist! I read the entire text and enjoyed it, but would only recommend it to people who like spreadsheets and want to learn more about DNA.
You Can Write Your Family History (2003 version) – I started this book about a decade ago, but thought it dry and too heavy on nonfiction emphasis (I was drafting a novel of my 17th-century ancestors with few facts available). I read the entire book in 2016 and it seems spot on, now that I'm writing nonfiction about my 19th-century family (with enough facts for a story). I recommend it, based on where you are in your family history writing. 

I read most of The 26th Regiment of N.C. Troops, plowing through the battles, as research for the book I'm writing about my great-great-grandfather.

PetersburgNational Military ParkVirginia – more research.


Books for Fun

My recreational reading was all science fiction, from the Victorian era to 5,000 years in the future. Now that I think about it, all the stories occurred no farther than Earth and Mars.

Seven Eves – At 867 pages, this book is huge! But amazing. I had to read it in spurts, because every time I picked it up I stayed up too late. 
Babylon 20/20 – A fast read about what life in the near future could be like if things went horribly wrong. (Disclaimer: my sister wrote it! Proud sister, here!)
John Carter of Mars (A Princess of Mars) – I've wanted to read this classic since the movie came out. It was entertaining, but flowery. 
The 100 – I'd watched the TV show, but the books are very different. I mean, the cover has a picture of Finn, and he's not even in the book!
Day 21 (The 100, book #2)

I'm still Reading:
Homecoming (The 100, book #3) – OK, the show and the books have diverged so much that I kinda got stuck. 
Dirt and the Good Life – Essays by a couple of professionals who took a sabbatical to run a farm. One of those low-stress books with separate stories that you can pick up any time. 

And I started, but put aside: 
Making a Literary Life
I Am Spock

Here are the books of 2015, 2014, and 2012.

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter the giveaway. If you enjoy pictures and stories about books, follow me on Instagram.

*Be sure to leave your contact information (e-mail, instagram, or twitter handle; Facebook won't work for non-"friends") along with your comment to enter the book giveaway. The Friday night deadline includes most time zones, but generally ends around midnight EST. If you win, I'll send you a message to keep your address private. Entrants from outside the continental U.S.A. agree to pay shipping.

This blog contains affiliate links – if you use them, thanks! I received free copies of Born For This (and bought my own extra copy) and Blog Post Ideas

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday – Nancy Maness

My great-great-grandfather's third wife, Nancy Pool Maness, had a bit of mystery about her. Her son-in-law, the informant on her death certificate, didn't know her date of birth and she's missing in the 1900 and 1910 censuses. Despite her dramatic death — having been killed by a train — I couldn't find any mention of the accident or an obituary in the regional papers. Perhaps her tombstone would at least fill in a date.

Nancy's death certificate clearly states that she was buried in Brown Cemetery. I found modern transcriptions online through Find A Grave and RootsWeb, but no Nancy. Although there are several hundred graves listed, I couldn't find a management office for the cemetery. So I added the cemetery to my Virginia itinerary, hoping it wouldn't be so large that I couldn't find anything.

Directions and GPS led me north of Radford, along a winding road in the low mountains with glimpses of a parallel railroad track.

As I turned into a steep drive, I laughed at myself, realizing why I hadn't been able to find an "office." Brown was a family cemetery that grew into a community cemetery. On top of a hill in the countryside, the stones stand out in dramatic outline against the evening sky. The cemetery looks down on the railroad track to the east and a large pasture with cows to the west.

The sun cast a burst of rays through the clouds as I walked, row after row, reading the names. I never found Nancy, or Fannie (who was also buried there), or Nancy's parents. A few stones were completely obscured by a black mold. Patterns in the grass told me there are many unmarked graves. Sadly, I saw a few from this century that still have temporary markers – future unmarked graves for those either too poor or too alone to afford a permanent gravestone.

At least I saw the cemetery, in some way paying my respects. Perhaps there's a book or a file somewhere that has an older list, including stones that aren't there anymore.

After a good dinner and a night's rest in Radford, I returned to the courthouse in Pulaski to finish looking through the chancery file. Before heading back to North Carolina, I stopped in the old courthouse and then the Ratcliffe Transportation Museum. The latter has a scaled model of the town of Pulaski in the 1950s, as well as a museum of local history.