Saturday, February 17, 2024

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Novelist and Travel Writer Blair Niles

The Daily Item (Lynn, Massachusetts)

15 Apr 1959, Page 6

Novelist and travel writer, Blair Niles was born as Mary Blair Rice on June 15, 1880 in Staunton, Virginia. She was educated at home by her mother. As a teen, she attended the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in Massachusetts and later the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. 

In 1902, she married but we're going to skip over the details since she would later divorce him in 1913 on the grounds of cruelty. 

While she was married, she went on numerous scientic expeditions to Mexico, Venezuela, Trinidad, British Guiana, Europe, Egypt, Ceylon, India, Burma, Borneo, China, and Japan. She co-authored Our Search for Wilderness (1910). 

After her divorce, she married Robin Niles and briefly worked as a New York delegate to the Congressional Union ofr Woman Suffrage.  She would become a renowned travel writer in the 1920s with her new approach to travel writing called "the human travel book" where Blair Niles would link contemporary culture with the past through the exploration of history, traditions, and legends. 

In 1925, she founded the Society of Woman Geographers. 

She wrote for numerous magazines. In 1926, she published Black Haiti: A Biography of Africa's Eldest Daughter, a story of the largest slave revolt in history led by Toussaint L'Overture.  In 1928, she published Condemned to Devil's Island, the fictionalized account of the escapes of René Belbenoît, a prisoner on the Devil's Island penal colony in French Guiana. And, in 1931, she published Strange Brother, a compassionate portrayal of gay men in Harlem.  

She authored eighteen books with seven of them as fiction. She received numerous awards including the Constance Skinner Award, which is now the Women's National Book Award. Blair Niles died on April 14, 1959 in New York. She is buried in a family grave in Lakeview Cemetery in Blackstone, Virginia. 


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

January 18 Hanover Tavern Speaker Series: “The Souls Close To Edgar Allan Poe”

Saturday January 6th, 2024 Pop-Up Book Fair and Meet & Greet at Hatch Local Food

Pop-Up Book Fair and Meet & Greet 
Saturday January 6th, 2024 @ 12:00PM - 4:00 PM 

 Signing books and chatting with folks at a casual meet & greet. 

Grab lunch and some signed books to support local business and authors! Location: Hatch Local Food Hall 400/414 Hull St Richmond VA 23224 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Red Moon, Miss Lucy Carter of Shirley, and Westover Churchyard

Earlier this month I noticed the gravestone of Reuben Hardy in Westover Churchyard. A quick search helped me find his death certificate and from there, I learned that he was a schoolboy living in Charles City, who was listed as an (American) Indian who had died of tuberculosis. He was originally from Utah. His father was James Hardy from Colorado and his mother’s maiden name was Teyuaruty. She was from Utah. 

The top of his gravestone reads "Red Moon," and the image appears to be a tipi. I had not seen this before so I posted the image on social media to see if anyone knew. No leads. 

From my initial searches, I found that there was a play called The Red Moon in 1908-1910, which "introduced audiences to African American and Native American solidarity"(Paula Seniors, “Beyond Lift Every Voice and Sing”). That made some sense for the area and the dates. I wondered if Reuben was in the play. 

Tonight, I took a deeper dive in research. In the US Indian Census Rolls for the Census of Uintah (June 30, 1913 and June 30, 1918), Reuban was listed as an orphan by the age 9. He was just 16 years old when he died. I was not expecting to find much more but then the informant listed on the death certificate caught my eye-- Miss Lucy Carter of Shirley, the daughter of Robert Hill Carter of Shirley Plantation, who would marry Edmund Fanning Wickham. She is most likely the reason that I found so much information on Reuban Hardy, including a death announcement in The Myton Free Press (Myton, Utah, 11 Jul 1918, page 5) which answered so many of my questions. 

The Myton Free Press (Myton, Utah, 11 Jul 1918, page 5) 

Reuben Hardy was Red Moon, which he kept as his Indian name. He was born on February 16, 1902 and was adopted by Lucy Carter when he was just a day old. She had been a missionary to his tribe, the Ute Indians of the Uintah and Ouray reservation which was located in Northeastern Utah. 

At 8-months old, Lucy Carter brought Red Moon to her home “High Hills” near Shirley. Red Moon appears to have traveled back and forth from Virginia to Utah but at the age of fourteen, his health declined. He was treated “going for some weeks to a hospital for the best medical care.” 

Red Moon was confirmed by the bishop before he died on Sunday, June 23, 1918. The next day, at three o’clock in the afternoon, he was buried in Westover Churchyard.  

Westover Parish was established in 1613. Around 1730, the present Westover Church building was completed. After the Revolutionary War and the disestablishment of the Church in 1784, there was prejudice against Anglicans who were considered English loyalists. Clergy fled for their safety, and congregations were confiscated or abandoned. Church services were revived in the 1830s but then the church was again desecrated during the Civil War by Federal troops who used the building as a stable. They even removed the gravestones in the cemetery to use as "tent floors." Meandering through the churchyard, you will not find any pre-Civil War gravestones today because of this. The church was again restored in 1867 and has been in use ever since (“History,” Westover Episcopal Church). 

Five American Presidents have attended church services at Westover, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Theodore Roosevelt.  

Other than Red Moon's grave marker, what struck me most about this cemetery were the epitaphs. There were so many lovely sayings. And then there was this epitaph that focused on family. I mean, no pressure, right!