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October 2005

October 1 * Book Signing- Tri-State Genealogical Society Annual Seminar and Book Sale, Evansville, Indiana

Barb Manzi is one of the people that makes the Tri-State Genealogical Society successful. She invited me to be a part of their Annual Seminar and Book Sale. I was eager to participate, but knew little to nothing about the Society- how the meetings worked, or what to expect. I resolved to simply dedicate the day to having a good time. As it turned out, it was a good thing I went. I didn't think I'd sell more than four or five books, but again, I was wrong. Although I sold twenty-two books during the seminar breaks that day, perhaps the most important highlight was meeting the folks at the seminar. Among others, I met Lawrence Skelton, a relative of Paul Marrs who was a member of Johnson's regiment and led the assault on West Franklin, Indiana, in November of 1862.

October 5 * A newspaper article on Thunder From a Clear Sky appears in The Picayune in Texas.

October 7 * A newspaper article on Thunder From a Clear Sky appears in The Marble Falls Highlander in Texas.

October 7 * Book Signing- Marble Falls Public Library, Marble Falls, Texas

This was the first appearance of my Texas book signing tour sponsored by John Hallowell of Texas Hill Country Magazine. John Hallowell is a man of high aspirations, high energy, and a high opinion of General Adam Rankin Johnson. Because Johnson spent the last 50 years of his life in central Texas, John was keenly interested in Thunder From a Clear Sky. John was my ambassador for the whirlwind two-day tour. The early morning book signing at the library was essentially nil, maybe three or four books, but it was sure fun to stretch out and take in Texas. Besides, there was so much more to do on that day that no time was wasted pining over the slow start.

October 7 * Book Signing- Falls on the Colorado Museum, Marble Falls, Texas
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My first television interview

This little museum is a diamond in the rough and the folks there were ready and waiting. There was a nice little buzz and, although we were only there for a short time, we sold around twenty books. There was an enthusiastic surge of people and KXAN-TV came in and shot a little piece on my appearance. With the dedication of the people there, this museum is going places. Everyone was welcoming and interested in Adam Johnson's Civil War exploits. Before I left, the museum staff presented me with a wonderful photo of Adam Johnson standing in front of the dated founding monument for Marble Falls- 1887. Judging by Johnson's age, I think the photo was taken later. Johnson is standing in front of his huge brick cotton factory. In his impeccable suit, bow tie, dark glasses, and cane (his uniform)- he was a well recognized figure in 19th-century central Texas.

October 7 * Guest Speaker- Herman Brown Free Library, Burnet, Texas
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Making a point at the Brown Library in the Lone Star state

On to meet Cookie Wallace and the hospitable folks at the Herman Brown Library. I met people for a few minutes before the speech, signed some books- everyone has a story to tell about Adam Johnson. It was interesting to note that no one knew him as "Stovepipe" in Texas, there he was "The General." In Kentucky no one knows him as "The General." It was a great group that showed up at the library and I was impressed at the level of knowledge and interest. Here, like everywhere, the local hospitality and desire to learn more about General Johnson was on display.

October 8 * Book Signing- Fort Croghan Day, Burnet, Texas
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Speaking to visitors at Fort Croghan

When John Hallowell and I were planning my Texas trip, I suggested that I come down and be a part of Fort Croghan Day- a day of historic remembrance and period activities in celebration of the 1850's frontier fort. It turned out to be a good call. It was a gorgeous day for outdoor activities, and General Adam Johnson was a good fit for the event. Dozens of people visited and everyone was interested in Johnson's story. Art Dlugach came by and conducted an on-site interview for KBEY radio (check my audio file page to listen to the interview). The action was non-stop and we sold about thirty books in the two-and-a-half hours. I also learned quite a bit about frontier forts- such as there were typically no man-made enclosures around these "forts." Rather, the locale was picked by army dragoons because it had a natural combination of resources for living and protection by rivers or hills. These forts were meant to secure new lands for settlers until things became stable in the region, then the fort was either absorbed or abandoned as the dragoons moved another twenty miles westward.
       The fort has an illustrious history and many intriguing stories. Albert Sydney Johnston was paymaster there before the Civil War. It was fun to imagine a trail-bitten, twenty-year-old "Ad" Johnson riding into Fort Croghan with his brothers. But the fort was abandoned in 1853 and Adam Johnson showed up in the region in '54. If he did come to what was left of the "fort," he probably would have found everything except the soldiers. It could have been the one and only time he ever missed the action.

October 8 * Book Signing- Johnson-Sewell Imports, Marble Falls, Texas

Johnson-Sewell Imports is a newly opened automobile dealership, among others, that is owned by Adam Johnson's Great Grandson, Ross Johnson. How many people have had a signing for a Civil War book at a car dealership? Not many I would guess, but it just goes to show you that you can't rule out anything without understanding the connections. Ross Johnson is a well-known, successful businessman in the region, and because he is a direct descendant of Adam Johnson's the appearance at the dealership worked! We sold just short of twenty books there in the two hours, but Ross and his staff made me feel like a king. We talked, he had ordered food, a gorgeous table was set up (with comfy chair). Like most people in Texas, even Ross didn't know that much about the Newburgh Raid and, of course, it was my joy to discuss it at length. Ross and his staff know how to make someone feel appreciated.

October 8 * Book Signing- "Rocky Rest" Homestead, Burnet, Texas
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With Fannie Shepperd at Rocky Rest

Fannie Shepperd is the current owner of the "Rocky Rest" homestead. Rocky Rest is the home Adam Johnson built for his new wife before returning to Kentucky to fight in the Civil War. Johnson wasn't the sort of guy to leave anything half done, and the fact that the house is still an active residence after almost 150 years is tribute to that fact. Fannie generously toured John and I through the house- it was a little scary to put your feet exactly where Adam Johnson's dusty boots were all those years ago. The house, built of massive field stones, will still be there 150 years from now. It was evening, a few people showed up, and I signed a few books. Carole Goble told us more about Fort Croghan. Mostly it was time to wind down and just revel in the atmosphere of Johnson's old home. Thunder From a Clear Sky had changed my life and these moments were as good as any to acknowledge it.

October 23 * A newspaper article on Thunder From a Clear Sky appears in the Henderson, Kentucky, Gleaner. The front page headline reads, "'Stovepipe' expert to speak this week."

October 24 * WSON Radio Interview, Henderson, Kentucky

I agreed to the early morning Henderson radio interview as an effective way to promote my appearance as the featured speaker at the Friends of the Henderson County Library's annual meeting. The meeting is open to the public to hear the speaker. My first time on radio and I'm as nervous as a cat before we start. I glance down and, for the first time, see the Henderson Gleaner article on my appearance later this week. I audibly gulp after reading the front page headline, "'Stovepipe' expert." Don Wathen, head of the Friend's of the Library, is going to interview with me. I had nothing to worry about. It was like having a conversation with some old friends about something you were all interested in. A truly great time.

October 27 * Guest Speaker- Friends of the Henderson County Library Annual Meeting, Henderson, Kentucky

By this time the word is out and a large group begins to assemble before the annual meeting. A little less than 100 people are at the meeting. After about five minutes of administrative business, I'm on. This is the speech where, afterwards, I finally said to myself, "this is fun." Its been fun ever since. I just let my passion for the subject show. I make fun of myself a few times. I love talking about this subject and I never quite seem to focus on the same aspect of the raid twice. Time flew. After the talk, I signed almost forty books. The feedback I got was that everyone loved the speech. I wish I could remember what I said and bottle it, but I'm not built that way. Next speech will be totally different.

October 29 * Book Signing- 2nd Annual Western Kentucky Book Expo, Sturgis, Kentucky
SIgning books at Sturgis, Kentucky

My first book fair. Everything is a wonder to me. The fair consisted of about 100 authors and each author had a spot at a table where their books had been stacked by Barnes & Noble- the fair sponsors. I was tucked in a corner and sat next to Jerlene Rose and William Matthews who were responsible for Kentucky's Civil War 1861-1865. A great book. So good, I'm worried that traffic flow brings potential Civil War book buyers to their table first- where people buy their quota before hitting my table.
       All my worries are for nothing, as usual. Kentucky's Civil War and Thunder From a Clear Sky coexist amicably. Although I'm sure everyone within earshot is tired of my rap by the end of the day, I sign about forty books and they do about the same. Kentucky has a healthy appetite for Civil War books. I also meet Linda Bruckheimer, wife of famous Hollywood film director Jerry Bruckheimer (Crimson Tide, Black Hawk Down, Top Gun, National Treasure, Beverly Hills Cop, etc., etc.). Linda buys a copy of Thunder, but I don't know who she is until someone whispers it to me afterwards. I hope Linda and Jerry like the book! It would make a great movie...

October 30 * Book Signing- Rivertown Antiques, Newburgh, Indiana
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With Daniel Moore at Rivertown Antiques

My third book appearance in four days. I'm a little tired. It's been a fruitful, but long October. Daniel Moore, local NPR radio personality, brings his mom, Nadine, down to get a book signed. Daniel did two pieces on Thunder for NPR's Sonic I.D.s. I'm grateful I ran into Dan. The Sunday evening timeframe is a little off-beat except that its just before the Newburgh Ghostwalks through town. Things go OK and I sign about a dozen books in two hours. Bob Levi and I get to chat a lot more than we did back in June. Bob's a great guy and has been a huge supporter of mine. In retrospect, I think the date and time weren't as good as I had hoped. The mailing list I used wasn't that productive either and there was no major media campaign beforehand. Next time I come back to Rivertown will be different, although I don't know when that will be.