Historical writing

Speak the Name: Lodowick G. Miller

In the summer of 2018, I began the in-depth process of researching the life of Wells Waite Miller, a man who played a key role on July 3, 1863 as Captain of the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His actions, and those of the men who fought with him, are increasingly being seen as a crucial element in the battle now known as Pickett’s Charge, and in the Battle of Gettysburg, overall.

As part of this research, I would find tantalizing scraps of information about an older brother named Lodowick—and what I found (and what I was given by retired teacher and history/research buff, Bill Molina) would play a role in Lodowick’s name being entered into official Civil War records, allowing him to receive the recognition, honor and dignity that he deserves (more about that later in the post). Because Lodowick died on March 30, 1862, I’m publishing this post on March 30, 2020.

Born in 1830 in New York, Lodowick was listed as a farmer in the 1850 census.

Lodowick Miller 1850
1850 Census

He came to Castalia, Ohio in 1852 with his parents, Amos and Emily (Graves) Miller, and his younger brother, Wells, who was born on February 20, 1842. Sadly, three of Lodowick’s siblings had already died, perhaps during a cholera epidemic: Delia (1835-January 30, 1841); Helen (October 7, 1836-February 5, 1841); and Amos (June 26, 1838-February 6, 1841).

Lodowick Miller's siblings

Life in Erie County, Ohio

Amos Miller bought a farm in Castalia, one that was still in the family more than 100 years later. But, in 1860, Lodowick (who had named his occupation in 1850 as “farmer”) was listed in the census as having “erratic” employment. Why he wasn’t working on the family farm or elsewhere, I don’t (yet) know.

Lodowick Miller in 1860
1860 Census

Shortly after that, Lodowick married Mrs. Sarah Fleming. The marriage contract was “solemnized” on March 6, 1861 and the wedding date was May 18, 1861.

Lodowick and Sarah Marry
Lodowick Marries Mrs. Sarah Fleming

Lodowick Enlists: 72nd OVI

He enlisted in the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company A, in January 1862 for a three-year term of service. Only a couple of short months later, though, he died. He was “at hospital” at Camp Shiloh, dying on March 30, 1862, just a week before the Shiloh Battle commenced.

Lodowick Dies

As the image indicates, his wife was awarded a widow’s pension of $8 a month, which was fairly typical. In his military records, his cause of death was listed as typhoid fever.

Lodowick typhoid

Fast Forward to 2020

On March 9, 2020, I was giving a presentation about Wells Waite Miller at Lorain County Community College for the Quincy Gillmore Civil War Roundtable. During it, I shared what I knew about Lodowick. On March 13, I heard from Bill Stark, the Graves Registration Officer, James A. Garfield Camp 142, of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. He had questions about Lodowick that, fortunately, I was able to answer.

By combining what he knew about Lodowick (and what question marks still surrounded Civil War soldiers from the 72nd OVI) with what I knew about Lodowick and Wells, and what Bill Molina found out about them and then shared with me, Lodowick’s information can now be entered into the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Graves Registration Database.

This group is still working hard to identify unknown soldiers, both Union and Confederate, from the Civil War. And, it seems quite likely that Lodowick is the last “unknown soldier” from the 72nd OVI at Shiloh.

So, on the 158th anniversary of his death, I am honored to speak the name of Lodowick G. Miller. Thank you for your service!

Historical writing, Nonfiction Writing Advice

How to Write a Book Proposal: Non-Fiction Example

how to write a book proposal
Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

I recently came across a book proposal that I’d written in 2013, one that was ultimately rejected because the publisher felt there were too many books on the subject already. So, I thought it might be helpful to share it with you, a guide to how to write a book proposal. Note that I’m not suggesting that ALL book proposals should look this way. The publisher I was querying had specific requirements and I followed them. Having said that, this book proposal is fairly typical of what a publisher might want, although shorter than many others I’ve written.

A Few More Resources

Writing a Nonfiction Book: Keeping it Real

Nonfiction Writing Advice: Toss Out a Great Opener

Historical writing

Remember the Ladies! Getting Women on the Road

Black-and-white retro style depiction of a woman in typical style of the 1920s or 1930s. She's fashionably adorned in black lace, pearls, evening gloves and a pearl-accented wrap-around headpiece. A hand flutters to her chest, as she offers an alluring, sideways glance.
1920s: increasing numbers of women began driving.

When cars began dotting the dirt roads of America, the drivers were almost all men – and the roads . . . well, they stunk. Although “modern” roads certainly existed before the 20th century in the United States – after all, horse-drawn wagons and bicyclists needed a path to follow – the existence of roadways was erratic and nothing to be counted upon. In 1904, for example, only one-sixth of public roads in rural locales had any kind of surfacing whatsoever. Everything else was just plain mud.

Historical writing

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (Allan Gurganus)

Confederate uniforms - American Civil War 1861-1865

The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All is a 718-page historical fiction novel written by Allan Gurganus and published by Ivy Books in 1989. Written as if dictated to someone who visited ninety-nine-year-old Lucy Marsden when she lived in a nursing home, it tells the story of Lucy who, at the age of fifteen, married fifty-year-old Confederate veteran Captain William Marsden around 1900 and had nine children with him. This book explores issues of race through the lens of the Confederate South, and serves as a journey of self-discovery for Lucy, and it stayed on the New York Times Best Seller list for eight months, winning the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This was Gurganus’s first novel, selling more than four million copies.

Historical writing

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple Series


Antique desk with his pen and old books
Miss Jane Marple appears in 12 books and 20 short stories over a period of about 50 years.







I was invited to write an encyclopedia entry on Agatha Christie’s amateur detective, Miss Jane Marple — and, as a huge fan, I was thrilled. And . . . the encyclopedia project got canceled. So, I thought I would share what I wrote here, with sub-headlines added.

Who is Jane Marple?

Jane Marple is a fictional character created by English mystery novelist Agatha Christie. She appears in twelve books and twenty short stories, starting in approximately 1926 and lasting through 1976; the last was published posthumously. Miss Marple, as she is generally called, is portrayed as an elderly spinster woman of Victorian sensibilities – typically one of the oldest characters in each story where she appears – who has lived her entire life in the small village of St. Mary Mead. She happens upon murder cases in each of the amateur detective stories and can solve them because of her close observation of human nature throughout her long life, outwitting characters much younger than herself.