Civil War Federal Soldiers’ Homes

The first U.S. home for disabled veterans and orphans of soldiers was founded by Benjamin Fitch of Darien, Connecticut. He paid for almost all the expenses of the home built while the Civil War still raged in 1864. The facility was renamed “Fitch’s Home for Soldiers” when control was handed over the state in 1887.

The U.S. government bought the Togus Springs Hotel in 1866. The Maine hotel became the Eastern Branch of the National Asylum For Disabled Volunteer Veterans. Read more about this home here.

A building was erected in Minneapolis to provide a soldiers’ home in 1888. One cottage for women and five cottages for men were on the Minnesota Soldiers’ Home property near Minnehaha Falls by 1911.

The beautiful Minnesota land was meant to be a peaceful place. Soldiers didn’t receive medical care at the facility. World War I changed that policy, but didn’t make it a priority.

Colonel George Washington Steele introduced legislation in 1888. He hoped to establish a national home in Grant County, Indiana. Despite Steele’s worry that it wouldn’t pass, Congress approved it that year. Indiana citizens in Marion celebrated the passing of the bill on July 30, 1888, the city’s largest crowd ever.

The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Marion Branch, opened in 1890. The facility, also known as Marion National Home, enrolled 586 veterans that year. They built a hospital to treat patients there, hiring Cincinnati female nurses as part of the staff.

The facility grew beyond capacity with veterans sleeping on the floor in 1892. New buildings were erected. The need heightened with World War I veterans and about 60 new structures had been added by 1919. Among these were additional living quarters, warehouses, supply buildings, greenhouses, a fire station, and memorials.

White veterans and United States Colored Troops were welcomed into the homes.

Federal soldiers’ homes did not allow Confederate veterans.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“A Home for Volunteers: Togus and the National Soldiers’ Homes,” The Gettysburg Compiler, 2017/07/04

“History of Darien, Connecticut,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04,_Connecticut.

“Minnesota Veterans Home,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04

“National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Marion Branch,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04,_Marion_Branch.

“Togus, Maine,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04,_Maine.



Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

A Hope Beach Novel

Libby learns that the father she’d thought was dead since her early childhood had only recently died. He actually married and had two children. Not only that, but Libby has inherited beach property. Nicole, Libby’s friend and business partner, is on Hope Beach and tells Libby how to watch live feed from a camera so that she can see her half-sister. The Libby watches in horror as Nicole is drugged and snatched from the beach by two men.

Libby immediately travels there to talk to local authorities and search for Nicole, but finds herself a suspect instead. Her siblings don’t trust her.

Alec Bourne, the handsome captain of the Coast Guard, has searched for Nicole to no avail and doesn’t know if he can trust Libby.

Worse, Nicole is still missing. How can Libby find her friend in time to save her life?

This story drew me in immediately. It is a story of forgiveness and second chances. The characters are realistic and believable.

This novel cost me a few hours of sleep!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Today’s post is by Alice J. Wisler, author of Under the Silk Hibiscus. Alice explains how a yummy recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies fits into her novel’s story set during WWII and then shares it with us. Thanks for the recipe, Alice, and the book sounds intriguing!   

In the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming during WWII, food choices were not in abundance, but even so, Nathan’s aunt Kazuko seemed to find cookies for her sweet tooth. She claimed that a cookie helped her feel better and gave her a pep in her step. She hoarded any cookie or sweet morsel that she could. Often Nathan would see her standing by the large coal-burning stove that heated the scant unit they lived in, munching on a treat that she kept in her apron pockets.

Later, after the war ended, and Nathan, Aunt Kazuko, and the others returned to their home state of California, Aunt Kazuko had a proper kitchen with an oven that baked cookies for the family. She was given a copy of The Modern Family Cookbook, first printed in 1942, and by following the recipes in those pages, improved as a cook.

-Alice J. Wisler

Recipe for Aunt Kazuko’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (1946) from the novel, Under the Silk Hibiscus by Alice J. Wisler (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped nuts
1 cup seedless raisins

Cream shortening, blend in sugar and add egg. Beat until smooth and light. Sift flour with salt, soda and cinnamon. Stir half the flour in with egg mixture; add milk, the rest of flour, and then oats, nuts and raisins. Stir till well mixed. Drop from a teaspoon onto a buttered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Yields about 36 cookies.

Book blurb for Under the Silk Hibiscus
During World War Two, fifteen-year-old Nathan and his family are sent to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wyoming for Japanese-Americans. Nathan desires to protect the family’s gold pocket watch, a family heirloom brought over from Japan. He fails; the watch is stolen. Struggling to make sense of his life in “the land of freedom” as the only responsible man of the household, Nathan discovers truths about his family, God, and the girl he loves.

Get a copy of Under the Silk Hibiscus: Amazon


Alice J. Wisler is the author of six novels, three cookbooks of memory, and a devotional on grief and loss.  She and her husband have their own wood-crafting business in Durham, NC.

Civil War Federal Soldiers’ Home at Togus, Maine

The U.S. government bought the Togus Springs Hotel in 1866. The Maine hotel became the Eastern Branch of the National Asylum For Disabled Volunteer Veterans.

The hotel already had a bathing house, large pool, bowling alley, race track, and a stable. New barracks, a chapel, and a hospital were being erected for the 200 veterans living there by the middle of 1867 with three dormitories and recreation building following in 1868.

When the asylum opened, only Union soldiers able to prove that their injury was connected with their service were allowed to stay. Then War of 1812 and Mexican War veterans were accepted if they didn’t fight for the Confederacy. The facility never opened its doors to Confederate soldiers.

Togus residents wore blue army uniforms available from a surplus. It operated much like the military with military discipline and guardhouse confinements. The veteran’s entire pension was signed over to the home in payment for their care.

The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers constructed a bakery, brickyard, fire station, carpentry shop, sawmill, butcher shop, boot and shoe factory, blacksmith shop, soap works, store, library, harness shop, and an opera house theater. Residents earned money by working at the farm or shops if physically able.

The highest number of veterans living there was about 2,800 in 1904.

Civilians enjoyed the recreations at Togus. Large crowds flocked for military band concerts, baseball games, performances at the opera house, and even a zoo.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“A Home for Volunteers: Togus and the National Soldiers’ Homes,” The Gettysburg Compiler, 2017/07/04

“Togus, Maine,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04,_Maine.


Cassia by Susan F. Craft

The adventure begins on the first page and doesn’t stop!

The author drew me into this action-packed love story immediately.

This historical novel is set on the high seas on the East Coast of America in 1799 where flashbacks to the American Revolution, kidnappings, rescuing a young woman from a slave ship, danger from pirates, and more leave the reader wondering just what will happen next.

The story is told entirely from the viewpoint Lilyan, a brave wife and mother. Because of this, when the family is separated readers wonder and worry what is happening to the others as we can only see the situation from Lilyan’s perspective. This actually adds to the tension and drama of the story.

The characters are amazingly brave and strong yet believable. Their faith in God is an anchor they cling to when danger threatens at every corner.

Full of twists and turns, this novel is a definite page-turner! It robbed me of sleep and kept me from a few chores because I had to know what happened.

Recommend! Will look for more by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

LPC Books          Use coupon code SandraMHart for a 20% discount on Lighthouse Publishing books!





Baking Contests and Snickerdoodles

Today’s post was written by fellow author, Kathleen Rouser. She is providing the Snickerdoodle recipe from her novel, Secrets and Wishes. Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Kathleen!

Increasing the vanilla in her favorite snickerdoodle recipe while adding toasted chopped pecans to the dough and the cinnamon sugar made for the delightful crunch and a nutty taste, which had won her second place in the recipe contest. (From Maggie’s musings in Secrets and Wishes.)

There’s nothing more all-American than baking competitions. So many old-fashioned books and movies portray a baking contest at a county fair or a church picnic. The real-life Pillsbury Bake-Off began in 1949. Cookbook collections for charity go back farther than that. I was also inspired by the mention of a story contest sponsored by the fictional Rollings Reliable Baking Powder in the Anne of Green Gables book series by Lucy M. Montgomery.

So why not combine some great traditions to come up with the Silver Leaf Flour Company’s “Don’t Rest on Your Laurels” baking contest in 1901? Maggie Galloway wins second-place for her pecan snickerdoodles, earning her a pin to be presented by the Midwest Regional Director, Giles Prescott and her original recipe would be published in their national cookbook. Maggie seems born to bake.

Just the name ‘snickerdoodles’ is fun! It conjures up images of sitting by a warm oven while scents of cinnamon sugar waft through the air in a cozy kitchen. Some of the earliest documented mentions of snickerdoodles were found in cookbooks from late 1800s.

There’s some debate as to where the name ‘snickerdoodle’ originated. Some think that it’s derived from a Dutch or German word meaning ‘snail-shaped’ while others believe the name came from New England where it’s inhabitants liked whimsical names for cookies. Either way, Maggie is quite sure God gave her the spark of creativity to add vanilla and nuts to a beloved treat enabling her to place in the contest.

Maggie Galloway’s Pecan Snickerdoodles

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ¼ cup flour

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Cinnamon sugar mixture:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted pecans

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease cookie sheet.

Beat butter until creamy. Add 1 cup sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar, mixing well.

Beat egg and vanilla into the mixture. Slowly add flour and chopped pecans to the mixture.

Set dough in the refrigerator (or the icebox in Maggie’s day) for at least a half an hour to make it easier to handle.

While you’re waiting, mix the cinnamon sugar ingredients together with the 1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans.

When the dough is ready, roll into small balls and roll in cinnamon sugar/nut mixture.

Place a couple of inches apart on the cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, only until slightly golden brown along the edges. Yield is approximately two dozen cookies.

-Kathleen Rouser

About Secrets and Wishes:

More than fists fly after a fight between Philip and Zeke. When their widowed parents, Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper meet, they begin a prickly acquaintance. Independent Maggie has placed in a national baking contest and wants to open a bakery to provide a future for her and Philip. Grieving and disorganized Thomas seeks to bring up his unruly brood in Stone Creek, and grow his pharmacy business in peace. After he becomes gravely ill, Maggie is enlisted to nurse him back to health, and takes his children in hand. She eventually helps Thomas organize his shop. As friendship blossoms so does love. They team up to defeat a charlatan who’s dangerous elixir brings tragedy to Stone Creek. Humiliating circumstances, brought about by the former beau who brings Maggie’s baking prize from the flour company, force Maggie to consider leaving town. Thomas wants to offer her an alternative, but is he too late to declare his love to the angel of mercy who has captured his heart?

Where to find Secrets and Wishes on Amazon:


Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and the novella, The Pocket Watch. She is a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of nearly 36 years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.

Civil War Confederate Soldiers’ Homes

Soldiers’ Homes were established for Civil War veterans who could no longer care for themselves. A few states provided separate homes for Union and Confederate veterans. The federal government didn’t provide funds for the Confederate soldiers. This obligation fell on the states.

Confederate veteran Jefferson Manly Falkner founded what became known as the Alabama Confederate Soldiers Home in 1901. Falkner wanted to provide a home for veterans and their wives. Widows were allowed to live there after 1915.

Falkner donated 80 acres in the summer resort area of Mountain Creek where between 650 to 800 people found a home. The home’s last veteran died in 1934. Five widows remained until October of 1939 when the home closed.

Atlanta’s Confederate Soldiers’ Home, built in 1890, was also known as the Old Soldiers’ Home. Henry W. Grady raised funds for the home at 410 East Confederate Avenue through subscriptions until it finally opened in 1900. Fire destroyed the building in 1901, but it was rebuilt on the same location a year later. The home’s last veteran died in 1941.

The old Kentucky Confederate Home was the former Villa Ridge Inn just outside the Pewee Valley Confederate Cemetery. There was a hospital, entertainment, and religious services. There was housing for 350 veterans and a total of 700 former Confederate soldiers eventually called it home.

There were a few prerequisites to living at the Kentucky home. Besides being a former Confederate soldier, residents had to be mentally stable, a resident of the state for at least 6 months, and not an alcoholic.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Alabama Confederate Soldiers Home,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04

“Confederate Soldiers’ Home,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04

“Old Soldiers’ Home,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04

“Peewee Valley Confederate Cemetery,” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04


Grace’s Pictures by Cindy Thomson

Part of Ellis Island Series

Grace McCaffery emigrates to America in 1900. Her stepfather, a policeman—or peeler as they are called in Ireland, paid for her passage to New York City, but she resents leaving her mother at his mercy. Grace plans to save money to send for her mother—when she is able to get a job.

Owen McNulty has rejected his parents’ desires to follow in his wealthy father’s footsteps. His desire is to serve his city as a policeman. The corruption among some on the police force create problems for him.

Owen meets the lovely Grace soon after her arrival, but she won’t accept his help.

Grace vows not trust any peeler.

This historical fiction novel shows the struggles of Irish immigrants at the turn of the last century. I didn’t know much about this part of American history and learned a great deal. The author did a wonderful job on her research to bring their difficulties and the corruption in the police departments to light.

The characters are multi-layered, believable, and likeable. The well-written story drew me in immediately and I kept turning pages.

Great novel! I will look for more by this author.

-Review by Sandra Merville Hart

New Mexican Culture Cuisine

Today’s post is written by fellow author, Norma Gail. Her novel, Land of My Dreams, is set mainly in Scotland, but also in New Mexico—two locations dear to her heart. She lives in New Mexico and shares two yummy recipes with us from her home state. I can’t wait to try these. Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Norma!

For those who live there, New Mexico is a bit of heaven. Admitted as the 47th state in 1912, it is a high-altitude land of arid, sun-kissed deserts and spectacular, forested mountain peaks under crystalline, azure skies.

Unique in culture, the Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo peoples of Native American origin were its only inhabitants prior to the early 1540’s. Subsequently claimed by Spain, Mexico, and partially by the Republic of Texas, portions became a US territory in 1848 through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with the rest acquired by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853.

This conglomeration of cultures created a culture and cuisine unique in the world. Beans and corn are staples, with the locals fiercely defending the state’s largest agricultural crop of red and green chiles as the best in the world. True New Mexicans are notorious chile snobs.

Below, you will find two of my personal favorite recipes, primarily from Native American influence.

-Norma Gail



(A traditional stew of hominy, meat, and chile)

1-2 lb. pkg posolé (hominy)

4 dried chile peppers (red)

4 cans (12-16 oz.) of green chilies (frozen can be substituted)

Juice of one lime

2 lbs. of lean pork, cut in ¾” cubes

1 lb. lean beef (optional)

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of salt

1 tsp of black pepper

1-16 oz. can of stewed tomatoes, diced

½ tsp celery salt

2 tsp cumin

Rinse posolé in cold water. Place in a large stockpot and cover with at least 2 quarts of water. Simmer 1-2 hours, until posolé kernels pop.

Brown meat and onions until onions are tender. Place all ingredients in a large crockpot or stockpot on stove, cover with water, and simmer 6-8 hours, covered, adding water as necessary. Flavor is enhanced by cooking a day early, refrigerating overnight, and reheating.

Serves 8-10. This will freeze well, though chili tends to become hotter over time.



1 ¼ cup scalded milk

4 cups of flour

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp shortening

1 pkg dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

Scald milk and cool to room temperature.

Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to the cooled milk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add liquids and work into a dough.

Knead dough 15-20 times and set aside approximately 10 minutes.

Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness or thinner. Cut in squares or triangles.

Deep fry in melted shortening at 420° until golden-brown. Fry only a few at a time so oil stays hot. If the oil is hot enough, they will puff almost immediately. Puffing is enhanced by bouncing gently in oil during frying. Turn to brown both sides evenly.


Author bio:

Norma Gail’s contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, set in Scotland and her home state of New Mexico, won of the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award.

A Bible study leader for over 21 years, you can connect through her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.




Civil War Post-War Home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis

Widow Sarah Dorsey invited former Confederate President Jefferson Davis to stay at Beauvoir, her 608-acre cotton plantation in Biloxi, Mississippi. She provided a cottage for Davis to live in with his wife, Varina, and their daughter, Winnie.

Sarah, a novelist and author of biography of Louisiana Governor Henry Watkins Allen, aided Davis in writing his memoir. She organized notes and took dictation. Davis’s book, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, published in 1881, two years after Sarah died.

Sarah willed her plantation to Davis and his daughter, Winnie.

The Davis family moved into the main house after the inheritance, where Davis lived until his dead in 1889. Varina wrote Jefferson Davis: A Memoir (1890) and then moved to New York City with her daughter in 1891.

After Winnie died in 1898, Varina owned Beauvoir. She sold a large portion to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It was to be a home for Confederate veterans and widows and then as a memorial to Davis.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans built a hospital, 12 barracks, and a chapel. About 2,500 veterans and their families lived there from 1903 to 1957.

Today this site is a Confederate Soldier Museum. Visitors will also see the former Confederate Veterans’ Home, cottage plantation home, the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum, historic Confederate cemetery with a Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Beauvoir (Biloxi, Mississippi,)” Wikipedia, 2017/07/04,_Mississippi).