Ford’s Theatre

John T. Ford, a successful theatrical entrepreneur, leased the First Baptist Church on Tenth Street in 1861. He turned it into a music hall. The building burned in December of 1862. Ford raised money to rebuild and the first performance in the new Ford’s Theatre was August 27, 1863.

President Abraham Lincoln and Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln arrived at Ford’s Theatre around 8:30 pm with their guests, Major Henry Reed Rathbone and Clara Harris, on April 14, 1865. Our American Cousin was playing and Lincoln enjoyed going to the theater.

This night was different.

John Wilkes Booth stepped into the Presidential Box around 10:15 pm and shot Lincoln. Booth stabbed Major Rathbone and then leaped onto the stage and escaped.

Dr. Charles Augustus Leale was the first person inside the box. He removed a blood clot from Lincoln’s head wound to release pressure and allow him to breathe. Dr. Leale knew it was a mortal wound.

Soldiers carried their President down the stairs and onto Tenth Street. William and Anna Petersen’s boarding house was across the street. They placed the dying President in Willie Clark’s room, who was out celebrating the war’s ending.

It was a dark, gloomy morning. It had started to rain earlier. Large groups of people gathered outside the Petersen house, praying for Lincoln to live … yet fearing the worst.

Throughout that long, tragic night, First Lady Mary Lincoln sometimes sat beside her dying husband with her oldest son nearby. Other times she went to the Front Parlor. Neither family member was in the crowded room when Lincoln died at 7:22 am.

The country that had seen so much death and dying for the past four years experienced a deep tragedy. Leaders turned their attention to apprehending John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, and his conspirators.

Ford’s Theatre was closed by the federal government for the investigation. The owner received permission to reopen after the trial. When threats were made if the theatre reopened, the War Department closed it. They leased the building, in August of 1865, to convert it to an office building and bought it a year later.

Three interior floors collapsed in 1893. Twenty-two clerks were killed and sixty-eight people injured. It was repaired and used again by the government for offices.

Today, about 650,000 visitors tour Lincoln’s Museum, Ford’s Theatre, the Petersen House, and Aftermath Exhibits each year.

Ford’s Theatre still has performances and tours are closed during rehearsals and matinees.

Lincoln has inspired many authors to write books about him. A 34-foot tower of these books stands beside a winding staircase at The Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Ford’s Theatre,” National Park Service, 2020/01/02

“Ford’s Theatre Yesterday and Today,” Ford’s Theatre Pamphlet, Last Updated 2008.

“Lincoln’s Death,” Ford’s Theatre, 2020/01/01

His Small-Town Family by Lorraine Beatty

Home to Dover Series, Book 1

Circumstances drive Nicki Latimer back home to Dover, Mississippi, where she has to raise her infant daughter and save her father’s failing business while he recuperates. Out of desperation the widow hires Ethan Stone, a stranger to town.

Ethan is fighting his way through PTSD. He’s able to push through it with the help of a support group most of the time. That and a childhood living in foster homes leave him feeling inadequate for fatherhood.

Nicki has her own secrets as she’s never revealed the true nature of her relationship with her dead husband. Yet it has left deep scars.

The characters drew me into their struggles early in the story. Both had known heartache and loneliness. An easy read that kept my interest.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Primary Suspect by Laura Scott

Wrongfully accused and on the run for a crime he didn’t commit, Firefighter Mitch Callahan hates that Dana Petrie is on the run with him. The widow’s only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They flee from the hospital when a man attacks Mitch. The reason for the attack is a mystery to both of them. Mitch feels guilt enough that he couldn’t save her husband from a fire they both battled. All his efforts failed that day three years ago, leaving Dana a widow. Now he’s managed to drag her into his nightmare.

Danger escalates at every turn and now Dana is also a target.

Escalating tension and growing romance make this novel a suspenseful page turner! Twists and turns in the story kept my interest until the end. This is the first time I’ve read a suspense novel by this author and I will look for more.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Poached Eggs Recipe

I have been on a low-carb diet for a few weeks. Since eggs are on the diet, I’ve been looking for new ways to fix them.

When I was a child, my grandmother had an egg poacher pan. It was a single-serving pan about the size of a man’s doubled fist. She used it to make a poached egg for my grandfather on rare occasions. Sadly, that pan is long gone and I’ve never seen another like it. Yet it stirred an interest in poached eggs so I thought I’d share this simple recipe with you.

I made a single serving with one egg.

When poaching 3 – 4 eggs, choose a nonstick 10 – 12-inch skillet. Since I made 1 egg, I chose a smaller nonstick skillet. Nonstick is important because you don’t want the eggs to stick to the pan.

Fill the skillet with water until 2/3 full. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar, which helps keep the egg together while it cooks.

Add ½ teaspoon of salt or salt to taste. Heat the water to simmering.

Crack an egg and place it on a plate. When the water starts to simmer, slide the egg gently off the plate into the water. (If cooking 3 or 4 eggs, use separate plates so you can arrange them around the pan in a 3:00, 6:00, 9:00, 12:00 pattern.)

Turn off the heat. Cover the skillet and allow the egg to stand for 5 – 6 minutes. The whites are opaque when done.

Remove from the water with a slotted spoon. These eggs are delicious on toast, on hash, or on an English muffin.

I served mine on lettuce and ate it as a wrap. Delicious! I prefer my egg yolks slightly runny so I cooked it 5 minutes.


-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.



Lincoln Memorial

On a recent trip to Washington, DC, I visited the National Mall late on a rainy evening. The view of the Lincoln Memorial at night is spectacular.

Talk of building a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln began soon after his death. In 1867, a proposal for a commission to plan the monument didn’t get very far. The country, recovering from war, didn’t have the money to build it. The early design was for 31 pedestrian and 6 equestrian statues with a statue of Lincoln in the center.

Construction on the memorial began years later in 1914, and took about 4 years to build. Styled after a Greek Temple, the memorial was designed by Henry Bacon. It has 36 fluted Doric columns to represent the states in the Union during the Civil War.

The memorial is 188 feet long and nearly 80 feet tall. There are 58 steps on the memorial. There are 87 steps from the reflecting pool to the memorial.

Lincoln’s second inaugural speech is on the North Wall. His famous Gettysburg Address is etched on the South Wall.

Construction was finally completed in 1922. On May 30, 1922, Civil War veterans were among the 50,000 people attending the dedication service.

Robert Todd Lincoln, our 16th president’s only surviving son, attended the dedication. He was 78.

Forty-one years later, a March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., ended at the Lincoln Memorial. On August 28, 1963, he spoke to a large crowd from the steps of the memorial. His “I have a Dream” speech spoke of his dreams for America, resonating with his listeners and the nation.

Trolley Tours and Big Bus Tours are an easy way to visit the monument. We took the Metro and walked the National Mall. Whatever way you decide to tour the monument, it is well worth the effort.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Lincoln Memorial,” Lincoln Memorial, 2020/01/02

“Lincoln Memorial,” National Park Service, 2020/01/02

“Lincoln Memorial,” Wikipedia, 2020/01/01

“The Abraham Lincoln Memorial,” American History For Kids, 2020/01/02

A Family-Style Christmas by Carolyne Aarsen

Caitlin Severn had just ended a three-year relationship when she met Simon Steele immediately after his motorcycle accident. Not only did she witness the car striking the motorcycle, she was the first on the scene. As a nurse, she cared for him and then went to the hospital with him. That time created a bond between them.

Though Simon has no visitors, Caitlin knows all the warnings against a nurse becoming involved with her patient. Also, she’s a Christian and he isn’t. Yet she’s still drawn to him.

Simon longs for a family and his brother that he hasn’t seen in years. Caitlin has a loving family. What can they have in common?

Likeable characters drew me into their heartache and struggles. This story may resonate with those growing up in foster care.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Beyond the Cherokee Trail by Lisa Carter

Linden Birchfield stays at her grandmother’s home in Snowbird while organizing the Trail of Tears 180th commemoration. Not everyone in the community supports the celebration, including Walker Crowe, a descendent of the North Carolina Cherokee who hid out in the mountains to avoid deportation.

Linden is drawn to Walker despite the former army sniper’s prickly personality. Yet she has a good reason to avoid marriage so she shields her heart from loving him.

Then she finds a diary in her grandmother’s attic and begins reading about the horror of the tragic Trail of Tears.

This novel slips between the historic and contemporary stories of two women and the men they loved, escalating the tension as they intertwine with the telling.

Realistic characters. Courageous heroes to fall in love with. Heroines who experience tragedy. Add a gripping story and you have a page-turning novel, masterfully written.


-Sandra Merville Hart

Christianbook. com

Shirred Eggs Recipe

I have been on a low-carb diet for a few weeks. Since eggs are on the diet, I’ve been looking for new ways to fix them. Shirred eggs are baked so this is a variation from the scrambled eggs and omelets that I’ve been eating.

Shirred eggs are baked in a shallow dish (I used ramekins) until just set. The yolks should be runny. Place the ramekin on a baking sheet to make it easier to remove from the oven.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put 1½ teaspoons butter in the ramekin and place it in the oven to melt the butter. When melted, remove from oven and swirl the butter to coat the dish.

Crack 2 eggs and place them in separate bowls. Then carefully slide the eggs, one at a time, into the buttered ramekin. Cover tightly with foil.

The recipe says to bake for 7 minutes. Mine took almost twice that to bake. Though the eggs should be barely set and the yolks runny, they were still raw at 7 minutes. Try baking 12 – 14 minutes and see what your preferences are.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Delicious! It tasted similar to a soft-boiled egg. Here are a couple of variations to try that are still low-carb:

  • Sprinkle with cheese (cheddar, swiss, etc.) after baking and while still hot.
  • Cook 4 small sausages until done for every 2-egg serving. Drain. Arrange sausages around the egg in the baking dish and bake the eggs.
  • Place 2-3 tablespoons of cooked ham, diced, into the baking dish, cover with 2 eggs, and bake. (Other meats like corned beef and chipped beef can be substituted for the ham.)
  • Shirred Eggs Florentine – Spread 2 tablespoons of chopped, cooked spinach per 2-egg serving on the bottom of the ramekin, cover with the eggs. Then sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.




First Union Soldiers in Washington Welcomed at the White House

Union troops poured into Washington near the end of April, 1861. Before long, twenty thousand men added to the city’s prewar population of sixty thousand. The city had 33 militia units with armories where they drilled—not nearly enough to accommodate so many additional soldiers. And where were they to sleep?

President Abraham Lincoln welcomed the first troops as honored guests. On April 18th, Major Hunter took Jim Lane’s Kansas Warriors into the East Room of the White House and allowed them to stay there.

Soon troops were camped on the White House lawn, at the Capitol, and the Washington Arsenal. Area churches as well as schools like Georgetown College and Columbian College.

The government rented other buildings for the soldiers.

Seven thousand troops were in the Capitol, occupying Senate and House chambers, committee rooms, galleries, and halls. This brought its own problems of cleanliness. Congress was set to convene on July 4th —before this meeting, grease, tobacco, and other filth had to be scrubbed from the areas.

Soldiers’ tents surrounded the Capitol for a radius of three miles. Troops bivouacked and drilled in the inaugural ballroom, which was a temporary building near City Hall.

Many of these troops received training in the city and soon marched off to war. Others remained to defend the nation’s capital. Sixty-eight forts had been built around Washington by 1865, and these housed Union troops. The city was protected by these forts that had a combined ninety-three batteries, seven blockhouses, and twenty miles of rifle pits. There were thirty miles of military roads.

The forts were built to last for the war’s duration and many of them are gone now. Traces remain of a few of them, including Fort Chaplin, Fort Davis, Fort DeRussy, Fort Foote, and Fort Stevens.

– Sandra Merville Hart


“Civil War Defenses of Washington,” Wikipedia, 2019/12/26 ttps://

Selected by Dennett, Tyler. Lincoln and the Civil War In the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1939.

“The capital can’t be taken!” Civil War Defenses of Washington, National Park Service, 2019/12/26 ttps://

Winkle, Kenneth J. Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, DC, W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.


Blur by Steven James

Book 1 of the Blur Trilogy

 Beldon, Wisconsin, is a quiet town … until Emily Jackson drowns in Lake Algonquin. The high school freshman had been a new girl at school. Few of the students knew her, including sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers.

As the school’s quarterback, Daniel is one of the popular guys. Yet a vision of Emily speaking to him at the funeral starts to convince him that her death was no accident.

Was Emily murdered? Who did it? Searching for the truth blurs the lines between reality and madness.

Gripping. Suspenseful. I could not put the book down. It’s one of those books that will make you think.

The author is a masterful storyteller. Recommend!

-Sandra Merville Hart