Civil War Women: Anna Maria Ross, Cooper Shop

Not long after the Civil War started, Philadelphia citizens realized Union troops passing through their city needed to be fed. Two refreshment saloons were established there in 1861—Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon of Philadelphia and Cooper Shop Refreshment Saloon.

Wounded soldiers also arrived in Philadelphia, prompting local women to open a hospital. Anna Maria Ross worked there as Lady Principal. The 12-bed Cooper Shop Hospital received the first patients on October 29, 1861. The Cooper Shop was located at 1009 Otsego Street below Washington Street.

Day and night, Anna dressed soldiers’ wounds. She also made certain that discharged soldiers received a donation to tide them over until receiving their army pay.

Union troops passed through Philadelphia at all hours. A signal gun fired when regiments came. Women living near the Navy Yard—many responsible for their own families—responded to the signal. They walked to the refreshment saloons, day or night, to cook for the soldiers.

The Cooper Shop alternated days with the Union Volunteer Shop. The 24-hour daily period ended at 6 pm. Even if it wasn’t their day to serve, shop leaders could divide the soldiers and send them to the other shop if more than 200 men needed meals.

Wounded from Gettysburg arrived in July and August of 1863, crowding the saloon hospitals. Hospital trains passing through Philadelphia also benefited from supplies at the saloon hospitals. Shop volunteers, like Mrs. Eliza G. Plummer, gave the wounded toast and tea.

Anna was one who saw a need for a Soldiers’ Home to care for Civil War veterans. Along with others, she planned a fundraising fair in June of 1863, which provided enough money to obtain a building. Then they needed to furnish it.

Anna traveled in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to gain support, raising around $2,000. The Soldiers’ Home was dedicated December 22, 1863. Unfortunately, Anna caught a chill and died before the dedication.

She can be proud of her efforts. Throughout the war, the Cooper Shop Refreshment Saloon fed about 400,000 soldiers. Its hospital treated about 7,500 wounded. Most patients were temporary though not all. For instance, their annual statement for the year ending May 25, 1864, reported that 85 patients remained from 1 week to 1 year.

The Grand Army of the Republic gave her a posthumous honor–Post 94 in Philadelphia.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Brockett, L.P. MD and Vaughan, Mary C. Woman’s Work in the Civil War: A Record of Heroism, Patriotism and Patience, Zeigler, McCurdy & Co., 1867.

Edited by O’Brien, Kevin E. My Life in The Irish Brigade: The Civil War Memoirs of Private William McCarter, 116th Pennsylvania Infantry, Savas Publishing Company, 1996.

Moore, Frank. Women of the War, Blue/Gray Books, 1997. (originally published 1866).

Ross, Anna M.,” House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,

Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, foot of Washington St., Philadelphia, by Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, 1861.



Open Your Hymnal Again by Denise K. Loock

More Devotions That Harmonize Scripture with Song

What an insightful book!

This book is filled with devotional chapters about hymns. The author digs into the background of the song and then shares honestly with examples from her own life.

These meditations are written about old favorites like “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” and “Just as I Am.” Christmas carols such as “Joy to the World,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” are also included in this book.

There is a Rest and Reflect section at the end of every chapter with a thought-provoking question and scripture reference to deepen personal study.

Great devotional book! I will look for more by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas – Use coupon code SandraMHart for a 20% discount on Lighthouse Publishing books!

1870s Advice on Maintaining the Sitting Room

As the sitting room in the nineteenth century was the most used, the author of Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping advised homemakers to make it the most pleasant one in the home. This compares to the family rooms of today.

If mats were kept at the door, the room could get by with one cleaning a week.

Don’t lay Brussels carpet (a heavy wool rug with a strong linen backing) in the family’s room because they hold a lot of dust and are difficult to clean.

Moths often get under the carpet. To prevent this, mix coarse black pepper with camphor-gum. Spread in thick proportions all around the carpet edges.

When cleaning with oil-cloth, use warm water (no soap.) Mixing milk into the water improves the cleaning.

Have a soiled carpet in the winter? Sprinkle snow onto the stains and sweep before it melts.

Attach a scrap bag to the sewing machine for bits of cloth and thread to keep them off the floor.

“Wire doors and mosquito-nettings” allow fresh air inside the home while keeping out the flies.

Wash windows weekly. Wipe doors after sweeping.

Interesting advice!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.

Civil War Women: Jennie Hodgers as Albert Cashier

Born in Ireland, Jennie Hodgers emigrated to United States as a girl. At her stepfather’s prompting, she dressed as a boy to find a job. Jennie moved to Illinois after her mother died.

Jennie enlisted in the Union army in August of 1862 under the name Albert D. Cashier. Small in stature. Quiet. Sought privacy when bathing. Kept her coat buttoned to the chin to hide a missing Adam’s apple. Still, other soldiers didn’t notice anything unusual about Private Cashier.

Jennie fought courageously in forty battles, narrowly escaping capture at Vicksburg.

She mustered out with her comrades in the 95th Illinois Infantry on August 17, 1865. Jennie then faced a dilemma. She couldn’t read or write and the jobs available to her as a woman would keep her at poverty. Living as a man, she’d work as a laborer. She later began receiving a military pension.

So she lived as Albert Cashier and eventually began working for Illinois State Senator Ira Lish. In 1911, Senator Lish ran over her with his car. With a badly broken leg, she was taken to a doctor … who discovered her long-held secret.

Jennie implored the doctor for his silence. Unwilling to see the veteran lose her pension, he agreed.

Things might have progressed as normal after that—if Jennie’s leg had healed. When it didn’t, Senator Lish placed her to the Soldiers and Sailors Home, a home in Quincy for male veterans. Staff members there kept Jennie’s secret.

Unfortunately, her mental health declined along with her physical health. In 1914, she entered Watertown State Hospital for the Insane. They discovered her sex and forced her to wear dresses again.

Newspapers printed her secret. A charge of defrauding the government by collecting a pension was investigated. Her comrades came to her defense, testifying to her bravery as a soldier. She kept her pension.

Jennie was buried in her soldier’s uniform with the name “Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf.” on her tombstone.

The executor of her estate, W.J. Singleton, spent nine years after her death tracking down her real name.

In my Civil War novel, A Musket in My Hands, an ultimatum from their father forces two sisters to disguise themselves as men and muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864—just in time for events and long marches to lead them to the tragic Battle of Franklin.

-Sandra Merville Hart



“Albert Cashier,” Wikipedia, 2018/12/10

Freedman, Jean R. “Albert Cashier’s Secret,” New York Times, 2018/12/10

Massey, Mary Elizabeth. Women in the Civil War, University of Nebraska Press, 1966.


“Jennie Hodgers aka Private Albert Cashier,” National Park Service, 2018/12/10



Diamond Place by Robin Lee Hatcher

Hart’s Crossing Series Book 3

Ten-year-old Lyssa Sampson loves baseball. She’s on a team with older girls and boys and longs for the new coach, Mel Jenkins, to make her a starting pitcher. He seems nice and her mom, Terri, is lonely. If they started dating, the coach would take more notice of Lyssa’s pitching.

Terri, a single mother, owns a beauty salon and never seems to have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. The last thing she has time for is a new relationship.

Mel’s heart never mended after his fiancé’s death. Is it time to begin dating again?

Realistic characters make this an enjoyable read. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and will look for more. Nice story.

-Sandra Merville Hart


1870s Advice on Sweeping Rugs

My parents’ home had hardwood floors so I did not learn how to vacuum until in my late teens. All of the old historic homes I’ve toured have rugs in most rooms. As a writer of historical novels, I’m always fascinated with old traditions. How fun to find advice of an 1870s author about cleaning her parlor.

Thoroughly clean the parlor once or twice a week.

Cover books, statues, and other tough-to-dust articles with cloth covers called “dusters.” Open blinds to allow sunlight inside the room. If it’s not windy or stormy, open the windows.

Check the ceiling for cobwebs.

Sprinkle “moistened bran, salt, damp coffee-grounds, or tea-leaves” on the carpet. There are no suggestions on how long to leave this on the rug. Whether these products improve odors or help in cleaning is not clear.

While one of these products stays on the carpet, clean edges and corners of the room with a stiff whisk-broom and a sharp, pointed stick. Using a feather duster, remove cobwebs. Brush curtains and frames.

Move furniture from one section of the room. Sweep with short, light strokes toward the center of the room by drawing the broom. Then go back and sweep a second time with longer, forceful strokes. Sweep the area a third time using long “vigorous” strokes.

The author calculated it would take 20 minutes to sweep a large room this way, but clean rugs are worth the effort. Cleaning this way extends the life of the carpet. It also freshens and brightens the fabric.

Interesting advice!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.

Civil War Women: Sarah Emma Edmonds as Franklin Thompson

At the age of sixteen in 1857, Sarah Emma Edmondson escaped an arranged marriage and an abusive father. She changed her last name to Edmonds. Emigrating to the United States from New Brunswick, she found a job more easily when disguised as a man, Franklin Thompson. When the war began, she lived in Flint, Michigan. Strong Union views led her to enlist in the 2nd Michigan Infantry as a male field nurse named Franklin Flint Thompson.

Emma nursed her comrades at such battles as the Battle of Antietam. She worked as a hospital attendant. She was also a mail carrier for her regiment, a dangerous job that often required horseback rides of over 100 miles.

A recurrence of malaria struck Emma in the spring of 1863. She requested a furlough, which was denied. Since she dare not visit the army’s medical staff for fear of discovery, she left camp in the middle of the night—Frank Thompson became a deserter.

Emma boarded a train to Oberlin, Ohio, where she recovered in a boarding house as Frank. Then she became a female nurse with the United States Christian Commission, where she served until the war ended. She wrote her memoirs in Nurse and Spy in the Union Army, first published in 1864.

There are no official records of Emma acting as spy for the Union army. She seems to have been talented at disguises. While a spy, she pretended to be Charles Mayberry, a Southern sympathizer; Cuff, a black man; and Bridget O’Shea, an Irish peddler.

After the war, Emma applied for a military pension. An Act of Congress finally cleared Franklin Thompson of desertion and she received the pension in 1884.

In 1897, Emma became the only woman admitted into the Grand Army of the Republic.

Emma left home to escape an arranged marriage, much as one of the sisters faced in my Civil War novel,  A Musket in My Hands. Two sisters disguise themselves as men and muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864—just in time for events and long marches to lead them toward the tragic Battle of Franklin.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Abbott, Karen. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War, Harper, 2014.

Blanton, DeAnne and Cook, Lauren M. They Fought Like Demons, Louisiana State University Press, 2002.

Massey, Mary Elizabeth. Women in the Civil War, University of Nebraska Press, 1966.

“Sarah Emma Edmonds,” Civil War Biography, 2018/12/10

“Sarah Emma Edmonds,” National Park Service, 2018/12/10


Explosive Force by Lynette Eason

Military K-9 Unit Series

This book is a page-turner!

Heidi Jenks, reporter, happens to be at the right place at the right time for a story exclusive—except she sees the bomber run from the building. Worse still, he sees her. From then on, she’s in danger.

First Lieutenant Nick Donovan has a duty to protect Heidi even though he doesn’t like or trust reporters. He’s drawn to her despite their differences as his protective instincts escalate to high gear.

Nick saves Heidi’s life and quickly captivates her heart. She fears the bomber yet refuses to allow him to keep her from her job of reporting the news. Her reporter father has been her role model her whole life—and he lost his life tracking down the truth of a story.

She prays it doesn’t come to that for her.

Realistic yet lovable characters quickly endeared themselves to me. Real danger is around every corner for Heidi, making this romantic suspense novel an adventurous read.

I will look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

1870s Comparative Value of Fuel

I’ve learned from other sources—family and friends who have experience with wood-burning stoves or bonfires—that some woods burn faster than others. I found a great table in an 1877 cookbook grading woods on their value as fuel.

Shellbark Hickory topped the list at 100.

Pig-nut Hickory was second on the list at 96.

White Oak was rated at 84 while Yellow Oak was 60.

White Ash was 77 and White Elm was 58.

The only Maple wood listed was Hard Maple—59.

Red Oak—69; White Beech—65; and Black Birch—62.

Chestnut trees grew in abundance in the 1877 and were graded as 52.

White Birch was graded as 48.

I’d always heard that pine wood burns hot and fast. This book rated Yellow Pine as 54 and White Pine (the lowest grade mentioned) as 42.

The cookbook author noted that some woods, hickory being one of them, received their value from the “heat of the coals after burning.”

Even the same type of woods can vary in density. Trees grown in open areas on dry land are best.

I remember walking through the forest with my dad as a child. He showed me how to tell the different species of trees—the bark and the shape of the leaves were the biggest clues. Yet the height and width of the trees are also considerations.


-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.

Civil War Women: Malinda Pritchard Blalock as Sam Blalock

Malinda Pritchard Blalock is one of two women known to have fought for both the Confederacy and the Union during the Civil War. She expressed support for secession before the war started but her husband, William “Keith” McKesson Blalock, was pro-Union. Malinda soon shared his views.

The couple, who lived on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, feared Keith would be conscripted into the Southern army. To avoid this, he decided to muster into the Confederate army and then desert to join the Union army. He went with friends to the recruitment office and became part of the 26th North Carolina Regiment, Company F.

Sources disagree here as to whether Malinda signed up as his twenty-year-old brother “Sam Blalock” at the same time or if she disguised herself as a man and surprised him on the march.

The document still exists of her registering as “Samuel ‘Sammy’ Blalock” at Lenoir, North Carolina, on March 20, 1862. Her discharge papers have also survived, documenting a female soldier in the Confederate army.

Unfortunately for Keith and “Sam,” their regiment was stationed at Kinston, North Carolina—not in Virginia where it would be easier to desert.

About a month after they enlisted, Keith’s squad was given a night mission to find a particular Northern regiment. Skirmishing broke out and Malinda was shot in the shoulder. The surgeon who removed the bullet also discovered her identity. She was discharged.

Frantic that her secret was out, Keith found a patch of poison oak in the forest. Discarding his clothes, he rolled around in it and then returned to camp. By morning, a red rash covered his skin. Surgeons gave him a medical release. Malinda confessed that she was his wife and they left together.

Once Confederate forces learned that Keith had recovered they ordered him to return to his regiment. The Blalocks fled to Grandfather Mountain, finding other deserters there. They stayed with this group until Confederate troops found them.

The couple escaped to east Tennessee. Malinda pretended to be Sam again when they joined the 10th Michigan Cavalry. She served as Keith’s aide-de-camp.

Malinda, now pregnant, left the regiment to have her baby son in Knoxville. She rejoined her regiment two weeks later.

Keith and Malinda later joined Union Colonel Kirk’s voluntary guerrilla squadrons on scouting and raiding missions in North Carolina.

In my Civil War novel,  A Musket in My Hands, an ultimatum from their father forces two sisters to disguise themselves as men and muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864—just in time for events and long marches to lead them to the tragic Battle of Franklin.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Blanton, DeAnne and Cook, Lauren M. They Fought Like Demons, Louisiana State University Press, 2002.

“Malinda Blalock,”, 2018/12/10

“Malinda Pritchard Blalock,”, 2018/12/10

Silvey, Ania. I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War, Clarion Books, 2008.

Slappey, Kellie. “Sarah Malinda Pritchard Blalock (1839-1903),” North Carolina History, 2018/12/10