I became obsessed with genealogy when I researched my book about my dad, The Man in the Purple Cow House. That led me to England to learn about my mother’s family for The Search for My Abandoned Grandmother. My quest to know more about my ancestors settling New England resulted in The Lyon’s Tales. Trying to organize the information created the Ames Hopkins Family Tree. By the time I discovered I was a descendant of General Henry Knox, I had grandchildren. So, I wrote and illustrated the Revolutionary War story Henry’s Big Kaboom as a sing-along-ballad. Meanwhile, I can across letters from my grandmother, I compiled them into a book for my brothers and cousins called Dear Betty, Love, Edith. Charles & Fanny is another compilation placed on a timeline. These amazing great-grandparents supported civil rights during the late 1800s. Fanny was one of the first two policewomen in the United States. The book also includes original correspondence from my great-x-3 grandmother and my great-x-4 grandmother. It’s amazing what we can dig up. Charles was the illegitimate son of Henry Knox’s granddaughter. As soon as he was born, he was handed over to foster care to avoid a family scandal.
Here are the details. All the books were published by Peach Plum Press in San Rafael, California. Except where specified, they are available on Amazon.com by title and by author. For information, contact Info@PeachPlumPress.com.
The Man in the Purple Cow House: and other tales of eccentricity. First edition 2005. Second edition 2017. ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9850530-8-6. ISBN E-book: 978-0-9850530-2-4
In 1992, when I learn my estranged father might be living homeless in the beach community of Santa Monica, California, I travel from San Francisco to look for him. Suffering from paranoia and schizophrenia, he had broken communication with our family 13 years earlier, refusing any offers of help. Maybe now, I wondered, my dad really needed me? I certainly needed him. But, where was he?
The Search for My Abandoned Grandmother: A genealogical journey uncovers secret love stories and family mysteries. First edition 2013. Second edition 2017. ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9850530-1-7. Also available on Amazon as an e-book. Genre: Personal narrative/Memoir
Bitten by the genealogy bug after researching my father’s family, I begin looking into the life of my maternal grandmother, Eileen Thomas Hopkins. Eileen had died someplace in Great Britain in 1933 at age 41, when my mother, Betty May Hopkins, was only eight. Mom’s father, Prynce Hopkins, quickly replaced Eileen with Mom’s stepmother, who bristled at any mention of her predecessor. My grandfather, a wealthy American, brought my mom and the stepmother to California in 1939, when the Germans began bombing their home in London. By the time I was doing my research in 2000, no one knew where my grandmother Eileen had died or was buried. No one knew what happened to her parents after Mom left England. In this book, I journal my trip to England to meet my English cousins and find my grandmother’s grave. I also transcribe parts of my grandfather Prynce’s old journals in which he described courting Eileen and their marriage. The mystery is, someone vandalized the journals, cutting out the details about my grandmother’s death.
The Lyon’s Tales: Claiming America for England, From Cabot to Winthrop. Genre: Historical novel. ©2009. Currently under revision. ISBN Paperback: 978-0-578-04395-1
By the time Governor Winthrop arrived in New England in June 1630 with 900± settlers packed on eleven ships, there were already 300± people settled on the coast of today’s Maine, and 300± living in Plymouth Colony, founded in 1620. A few months before Winthrop departed from Southampton, the ship Lyon crossed the Atlantic under the guidance of Captain William Peirce [sic]. She transported some 90 settlers. Three represented Plymouth Colony. They were helping Captain Peirce establish the colony’s beaver-trading post in Maine. But most were heading to the Massachusetts Bay to prepare for Winthrop’s arrival. Following the Canterbury Tales format, the Lyon’s passengers tell their stories about settling New England (such as Allerton’s voyage on the Mayflower and Christopher Levett’s visit to Maine in 1623). They also relate the adventures leading up to 1630 (from Cabot’s touchdown on Newfoundland in 1498 to John Smith’s mapping the area in 1614). We learn what it was like to be a passenger on a 110-foot English galleon in 1629 and the personalities who founded New England.
From a New England Woman’s 1865 Diary in Dixie. Written in 1865. First published in 1906. Now in the public domain. Republished by Peach Plum Press in 2012. ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9850530-0-0. Genre: Memoir
A memoir by a young woman sent to teach newly-freed Black Americans after the Civil War ended. As part of Reconstruction, the Union Army established a bureau within the United States Department of War called the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. It was nicknamed the Freedmen’s Bureau. President Lincoln had drafted the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, which passed congress March 3, 1865, to “aid freed men with legal food and housing, oversight, education, health care, and employment contracts with private landowners.” Besides building hospitals, they sent young teachers to teach the freed former slaves how to read. One of those teachers, Mary Ames of Springfield, Mass, journaled her year on Edisto Island in South Carolina. This is that journal.
Dear Betty, Love, Edith: Letters and secret thoughts from a Minneapolis ingénue while a Wellesley student in 1916, a nurse’s aide in WWI Paris, a newlywed in Prohibition Chicago, and a Pasadena divorcée, 1910-1965. A compilation of historical documents. Published in 2016.
My grandmother Edith Ames Winter, born in Minneapolis in 1895, became an only child when her brother was accidentally shot in the stomach by a friend. Edith’s cousin and best friend, Betty Ames (born in 1894), was one of a large active family with six siblings. Edith spent most of her days with Betty’s family across the Mississippi in St. Paul. From the time Betty went off to boarding school, through the years they worked as nurse’s aides in Paris during WWI, and until Edith’s death in 1965, the two faithfully corresponded. Betty kept Edith’s letters in a folder. While researching my family, my third-cousins-once-removed (Betty’s daughters) told me about the folder. They allowed me to photograph the letters, which I transcribed and formatted into this book. The project helped me get to know my late grandmother better and allowed me to meet my wonderful cousins on Betty’s side of the family. BTW, this folder is part of the larger Ames Family Historical Collection now housed in the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College. It is possibly the largest family collection of its kind in the US. The e-book version of Dear Betty, Love, Edith is available on the library’s website.
Henry’s Big Kaboom: A Sing-along Ballad: Published in 2017. Updated in 2019 with a map of the Henry Knox Trail. ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9850530-9-3. ISBN Hardback: 987-0-9991505-0-4. Genre: Children’s Book/American History/Revolutionary War
Henry Knox claims the cannon and other heavy artillery from Fort Ticonderoga, 1775-1776. I wrote this story in rhyme to appeal to my pre-school age grandchildren. My brother, Charles Ames, arranged the music for the YouTube video version.
Charles & Fanny: 19th Century Pioneers for Human Rights. Currently being edited for printing. ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9991505-1-1. Genre: Historical Narrative/Genealogy/History
A compilation of correspondence and historical data placed on timelines of the lives of my great-great-grandparents Charles Gordon Ames (born 1821) and his second wife, Julia Frances (‘Fanny’) Baker (born 1840). The book includes family trees for Charles’ families, his Knox ancestors, his Thatcher ancestors, and his half-sister, Harriett Anna Leeson’s, family. Letters reveal Charles’ efforts to discover the identity of his birth parents. News articles report how Fanny was one of our nation’s first two policewomen. Records explain how she and Charles founded our nation’s first social work organization to help urban poor during the Panic of 1873. Correspondence describes how they furthered the suffrage cause in California (from 1865-1872), Philadelphia (from 1872 to 1889), and Boston (from 1889 to Charles’ death in 1912 and Fanny’s death in 1931).
The Ames Hopkins Family Tree. Published in hardback only. Available on Lulu.com. (Amazon does not print hardback books.) Perpetually under revision. ISBN Hardback: 978-0-9850530-4-8. Published by Peach Plum Press. First edition 2015.