January 1, 2017

Alabama Born-Speculative Fiction Author Aidee Ladnier



I’m Alabama born and raised. My favorites places in Alabama vary from the white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast, to the nature trails of the Appalachian foothills, and from the cosmopolitan splendor of Birmingham, to the rural serenity of the forests that dot the state. I wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else.

But one thing I love most about Alabama is the history it’s steeped in. Like a fine tea, you’ll discover its richness and variety the moment you take a sip.

For example, last summer my husband Curt and I spent the weekend at the Kate Shepard House bed and breakfast. We were treated to gourmet food, luxury accommodations, and predictably, a history lesson.  

In late afternoon we climbed the tall steps to the wraparound porch of the Queen Anne style mansion in the little neighborhood of Monterey Place in Mobile, Alabama.  Our host, Wendy James, greeted us at one of the two doors gracing the front of the house.  She later explained that the extra door was a relic from World War II.  The Shepard family converted the mansion into a boarding house to lodge workers employed during the war effort.  Mobile’s contribution of airplanes and ships helped win the war in the Pacific.

Inside the Kate Shepard House, the d├ęcor was warm, ornate woodwork, antique light fixtures (many original to the house), stained glass windows, and built-in bookcases. A grand piano sat enthroned in the parlor. We followed our host up the winding staircase to the second floor where Wendy settled us in the Barber Room, named for the architect George Franklin Barber on whose designs the house was built.  She told us that Charles Martin Shepard and his wife might have chosen the plans from Barber’s mail order catalog after seeing an advertisement in a women’s magazine.  It is rumored that more than a dozen railroad cars of building supplies arrived in Mobile from Knoxville, Tennessee to create the Kate Shepard House.

The Barber room was furnished with a tall, comfortable carved oak bed, a fireplace, and a wonderful view of the magnolia trees and garden. A few steps led to the bathing area housing a huge two-person soaker tub (TMI—I know this from experience).  A water closet, hid behind tiny French doors, enclosed the commode. 


While dining the next morning on pecan praline French toast, Wendy informed us that when she began preparing the house for visitors, the attic yielded a treasure trove of Civil War correspondence and letters. Kate Shepard, the daughter of Charles Martin Shepard, was the great niece of Colin J. McRae, the Confederacy’s Chief Financial Agent to Europe.  The papers Wendy and her husband found changed recorded history, proving that Great Britain aided the Confederate States during the Civil War.  In addition to the correspondence and financial documents from the Civil War, there were dozens and dozens of personal letters lovingly preserved. The correspondence revealed intimate details of the McRae family life and included receipts for items bought or sold, recipes, school records, medical records, property deeds, and court settlements. She explained that one letter detailed the anguish experienced as family members succumbed to Yellow Fever, quarantined and nursed by mothers and daughters also stricken with the dread disease.  Overall, the McRae’s saved more than 2500 documents that spanned a hundred years.  The collection is one of the most complete histories of that era in the South.

And here’s the best part:  Wendy and Bill James have donated all these papers to a museum with the caveat they be available to anyone who asks to examine them.  The papers are now housed at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum.  You can view a listing of the collection at https://www.crr.sc.gov/exhibits/mcrae and request to see them for yourself.  

So have you ever thought of visiting Alabama? One lucky commenter will win a $10 Amazon gift card! Remember to leave a contact link. 


About the Author
Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, began writing at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, fold origami, send ping pong balls into space, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee's to write both romance and erotica with a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

She loves to hear from readers. Visit her at her blog:
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11 comments:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I've never been to Alabama but you made me want to visit. Best wishes for the success of your novels.

jacqueline.seewald@yahoo.com

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Sounds like an absolutely beautiful place to visit.
Love those old homes...such romance.

Good luck and God's blessings
PamT

traveler said...

I would love to visit Alabama, especially the beautiful beaches. Thanks for your very interesting post today.

petite said...

I want to take a road trip to Alabama and see the sights. So much to enjoy.

Molly Daniels said...

I've not been to Alabama since HS; our Jr/Sr high church choir stopped and performed at one of the churches while on our way to Florida. What I remember was how pretty everything was:)

Love reading about how history can be changed when finding old letters in attics!

kenziemichaels@gmail.com

Amy Reade said...

Now I have to go to Alabama. Great post! I loved learning about the history of the old house and wonderful fate of the things Wendy and Bill found in their attic!

jrlindermuth said...

What a wonderful house. That alone would be a good reason to visit Alabama. I've been to Birmingham and the Gulf Coast. So glad those letters and documents were saved and are available to researchers.

Carly Carson said...

Interesting history. Can you imagine finding that treasure trove in the attic? That's a beautiful house, as well. Alabama is one of the few states I've never visited.

Kay Phoenix said...

I've never been to Alabama, but the history sounds amazing (and the French toast). And, the green! I'm from Vegas, so it's all mostly brown around here. I long for GREEN. :-)

KayPhoenix@yahoo.com

Aidee Ladnier said...

Yay!Jacqueline, Molly, and Kay - you're my winners. I'll be emailing your gift cards today!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Aidee:) Happy New Year!

Molly Daniels