Lock Ready Cover ShotHere’s the cover art for my new historical novel that coming out next month. Lock Ready is my first historical novel in seven years. It’s also been 10 years since I wrote my last Canawlers novel.

Lock Ready once again return to the Civil War and the Fitzgerald Family. The war has split them up. Although George Fitzgerald has returned from the war, his sister Elizabeth Fitzgerald has chosen to remain in Washington to volunteer as a nurse. The ex-Confederate spy, David Windover, has given up on his dream of being with Alice Fitzgerald and is trying to move on with his life in Cumberland, Md.

Alice and her sons continue to haul coal along the 184.5-mile-long C&O Canal. It is dangerous work, though, during war time because the canal runs along the Potomac River and between the North and South. Having had to endured death and loss already, Alice wonders whether remaining on the canal is worth the cost. She wants her family reunited and safe, but she can’t reconcile her feelings between David and her dead husband.


Her adopted son, Tony, has his own questions that he is trying to answer. He wants to know who he is and if his birth mother ever loved him. As he tries to find out more about his birth mother and father, he stumbles onto a plan by Confederate sympathizers to sabotage the canal and burn dozens of canal boats. He enlists David’s help to try and disrupt the plot before it endangers his new family, but first they will have find out who is behind the plot.


I’ve had fun writing about the Fitzgeralds over the years, but at this point, I see this as my last Canawlers novel. I do have an idea for a non-fiction C&O Canal book, but it will still be years before it comes out. Until then, I hope you enjoy my three Canawlers novels and one novella. The best order to read them in is: Canawlers, Between Rail and River, Lock Ready and The Race.



My first Goodreads drawing for autographed copies of The Rain Man has ended. Congratulations to the 10 winners randomly by Goodreads from the 1,751 people who entered. I have to say that it was easy enough to do. Goodreads sent me the list of the winners once the giveaway ended. I’ll be sending out the copies tomorrow. The second stage is that, hopefully, these winners will read the book and post reviews on websites and blogs.

For anyone interested, I have another giveaway going on for my newest book, Beyond the Battlefield: Stories from Gettysburg’s Rich History. There is still time to enter. The giveaway ends on Wednesday. Just follow this link and enter:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Beyond the Battlefield by James Rada Jr.

Beyond the Battlefield

by James Rada Jr.

Giveaway ends April 16, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Originally posted on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War:

April 10, 1864

U.S. Marshal Ward Hill Lamon writes President Lincoln from New York: “I see by this morning’s papers that Mr. [Benjamin] Harris Member of Congress from Md on yesterday not only declared himself in favor of recognition of the southern Confederacy “but acquiesced in the doctrine of Secession’!”

Is not this giving “aid countenance, counsel and encouragement” to the rebellion? Can your Administration afford to discriminate between traitors who are members of Congress and those who are not–?–

Does not such language this boldly and defiantly uttered give hope to the Rebels and encouragement to the disaffected in the North who are only restrained from using similar language, and an open resistance to the Administration of the Government by the fear of punishment–? Pass silently by such conduct of prominent traitors and very shortly this Country will reverberate treason throughout the North as well as South — and…

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For more than a century, rumors have persisted in Carroll County, Md., of a lost treasure. Most versions of the story say it is a hidden silver mine, but at least one version of the story says that the treasure is gold bullion stored in a cave.


Wayne Naylor hunting for the lost Silver Run mine.

Either way, the treasure has eluded hunters, leaving residents split over whether it ever existed.


Ahrwud’s Mine

The story of a silver mine in the Silver Run area of Carroll County supposedly dates back to the late 1750’s when a German silversmith with the last name of Ahrwud settled in the area. The legend is that Ahrwud made friends with the local Indian tribe who knew of the location of silver, which they used for trading, but they admired Ahrwud’s craftsmanship.

“In return for all the silver he could possibly use, Ahrwud fashioned silver artifacts such as eating utensils and idols for the Indian tribe’s use,” Michael Spaur wrote in an article in the Frederick News.

Though Ahrwud was allowed access to the silver, he was led there in secret at night. The silver was being mined from within a natural cave that had a hidden entrance. The hill where the cave is located is said to be Rattlesnake Hill at Silver Run.

Ahrwud’s daughter, Frieda, pressured him to tell her where he got the silver he used in his work and finally one night, he gave in. He blindfolded his daughter and led her to the mine. Not only was she amazed to see the silver veins, but she had managed to mark the trail while being led to the mine.

Frieda returned during the day with a friend and they mined some silver for themselves. This excursion was seen by a member of the tribe who reported it to his chief. Angry, the Indians kidnapped Ahrwud and his daughter and killed them in the mine. They then caused a landslide that sealed the entrance.

The search for the mine appears to have begun not long after the Ahrwuds’ disappearance and yet, it has never been found or at least reported found by anyone.


The Hunt Begins

A Carroll County newspaper, The American Sentinel, reported that in 1868, a slightly different version of the story had been told to the editor. In that version, the Indians did not kill the Ahrwuds and Frieda did not attempt to find her trail markings until after her father died without telling her the route. However, she was never able to find the path.

This version added another clue to the map forming to locate the mine, which was that Frieda remembered having crossed a small stream just before she and her father had reached the mine.

The editor also wrote, “The above was related to us in 1868 and generally believed to be true by the greater portion of the citizens. Many shafts and holes were dug without success.”

In 1883, the Hanover Spectator stated that the tunnel of an old mine may have been located on Rattlesnake Hill, though nothing was noted about a find.

One report states that Josiah Myers of Hanover, Pa., believed that he had found the shaft to the old mine in 1875. He tried to restart the mining operations, but was killed in a cave in on August 15, 1876. No apparently tried to restart his work of they did and didn’t find anything for the mine continued to stay lost.

In trying to locate the mine, many hunters have sought to verify different elements of the story in the hopes of narrowing down a location, such as where exactly did Ahrwud live. No one is sure where this is, though, or if anyone named Ahrwud did live in the Silver Run area.

However, the Susquehannock tribe of the Oepowig Indians was known to live in the area. The area was also settled by German immigrants, though no family name of Ahrwud is known nor were any of the settlers known to be silversmiths.

Buried Gold

Wayne Naylor was a treasure hunter who always wanted to find the big strike that would justify all of his time hunting. While he found coins and other items from sites around the country, he always felt that the big find was the one that was closest to him and that always eluded him.

Naylor met Carroll Countian Gene Dell during a hunt in Roanoke, Va. and the two became friends. When that friendship became trust, Dell showed Naylor some family papers that put the Ahwrud’s Mine story in a different light.

“Written on a large piece of ledger paper was a story that had been handed down to Dell’s grandmother by her grandmother,” Michael Spaur wrote in the Frederick News in 1980. Naylor’s best guess is that the account was written down about 150 years ago.

On the ledger page was a story about a woman named Earwood. As a young girl, she had been blindfolded by her father and taken to a cave where she was show gold ingots. The story placed the gold near Deep Run, which is a couple miles east of Silver Run. It even had a couple more clues as to the whereabouts, such as there being a broad, flat rock only a few feet from the entrance to the cave or that the on way to the cave, the carriage had crossed a stream near Rattlesnake Hill that had had a large outcropping of greenish rock. However, when the woman’s father died, she was unable to find the cave.

While gold ingots might be a little less believable than silver, there was an Earwood family who lived in Carroll County.

Dell had recognized the similarities between the two stories and began his own search for the treasure, not caring whether it was silver or gold. He leased land in the town and dug in promising spots. He used metal detectors and even dynamited in search of the treasure.

After Dell died in 1975, Naylor inherited his papers.

Naylor, who is now 69, spent years researching clues about the area and in the account. When he would think he had something, he would take his large metal detector out to he area and try to verify it.

“I don’t think I ever believed in it, but it was a chance at some big money,” Naylor said. “I would look, but it was such a large area, it would be easy to miss.”

He said he would run into other treasure hunters searching for the silver mine, but he wanted to find gold.

“I never located where the old man would have lived and that was key,” Naylor said. “I don’t think the mine would have been too far from there.”

Despite all of the looking, nothing has been found so far. That doesn’t stop people from hunting or believing.

“It’s fun looking for something buried so long ago and to be able to say that you found something,” Naylor said.



Originally posted on www.seanmunger.com:

apollo 6

Forty-six years ago today a rocket blasted off from Cape Kennedy in Florida, orbited the Earth three times, and splashed down 10 hours later in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. No one was on board. This flight was known as Apollo 6, and was one of the unmanned test flights conducted by NASA in its run-up to the manned missions that would eventually take human beings to the Moon. The main purpose of the flight was to test whether the spacecraft could withstand the major rocket burn of a “trans-lunar injection”–the blast from its engine that would send it toward the Moon–and whether the space capsule could successfully re-enter the Earth after such a maneuver. Apollo 6 proved that it could.

The day on which the flight happened, April 4, 1968, was a good day to leave the Earth. For reasons that had nothing to do with Apollo 6…

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The program from the Adams County Sesquicentennial pageant in 1950. Courtesy of the Adams County Historical Society.

On a hot evening in July 1948, a group of Adams Countians met in a room that was made even hotter by the presence of so many people. The air conditioning was cranked up and everyone got down to the business of planning a celebration of Adams County’s sesquicentennial. The committee had been formed at the suggestion of the Adams County Historical Society.

“Anniversary celebrations are both entertaining and informative,” wrote Leighton Taylor, chairman of the Adams County Sesqui-Centennial Association. “They promote good will and fraternalism, encourage enterprise and initiative, and create a just and pardonable pride in progress and achievement. Moreover, with subversive elements trying to destroy our American Way of Life, we need a revitalization of our patriotism and love of country. This we think can be done most efficiently by reminding Adams Countians, in dramatic and colorful presentations, of their free institutions, their exalted and favored position as American citizens, and of the unparalleled progress made by them and their forebears during the County’s 150 years.”

Brothers of the Brush

With two years of planning, Adams Countians began noticing something different during the summer of 1950. “The rumor that there is a razor blade shortage was spiked Tuesday. …  beards, goatees, mustaches, and sideburns have begun to sprout on manly countenances as countians join in the spirit of things by permitting the facial hair to grow freely,” the Gettysburg Times reported on August 5th.

The men had joined the “Brotherhood of the Brush” in preparation for the county’s 150th birthday party. The men had agreed not to shave their beards for a month. At the end of the celebration, prizes would be awarded for most-luxuriant beard, best full-face beard, blackest beard, reddest beard, grayest beard, most-typical beard and best old-time costume with matching beard. A special award was also given for the man who tried his hardest to grow a beard and failed.

Harold Ecker was a young man in his 20’s at the time of the celebration. Besides participating in some of the events during the sesquicentennial, he was also a Brother of the Brush.

“I went to Atlantic City while I was growing a beard and someone wanted to know if I was a Jewish rabbi,” Ecker said. He eventually won second place for the reddest beard.

The Brothers of the Brush paid 50 cents for a badge that explained why they weren’t shaving. Shaver’s permits were also sold for $1 that gave them permission to shave. During the sesquicentennial celebration a Kangaroo Court was also set up to fine any male who was caught shaving without a permit.

The 50 participants showed up at the county courthouse on September 2 to have three Gettysburg barbers judge their beard-growing efforts during August. Some of the men had trimmed their beards in unique ways or added large rubber noses or other features to their faces. More than 2,000 people showed up to watch the judging. “So large was the audience that it nearly overwhelmed the ‘Brothers of the Brush’ and the judges and practically blocked traffic on Baltimore Street,” the newspaper reported.

While the whole thing was a fundraiser for the sesquicentennial, it was also fun for the participants and even the barbers.

“Barbers had a ‘field day’ harvesting the Brothers of the Brush following the parade Saturday,” the newspaper reported. “Most in mock seriousness asked the bearded contestants how long they had been growing the beard, asked how often they shaved, and then threatened to charge 50 cents for each and every shave that had been missed. All finally settled for 50 cents for one shave.”

The Parade of Progress

The sesquicentennial celebration covered five days with each day filled with events and having a different theme. “Adams County’s biggest birthday celebration ever came in its 150th year,” the Gettysburg Times noted in 1975.

The party began on Wednesday, August 30 with Queen’s Day. The other days’ themes were: Patriotic Day, Youth Day, Adams County Day and Freedom of Religion Day. Each day, other than Freedom of Religion Day” featured its own themed parade.

The festivities began on Wednesday, August 30 at 10 a.m. with an “aerial bombardment” as the program described it. Everyone on Adams County was encouraged to blow whistles and honk car horns. Churches range their bells.

More than 10,000 people turned out to watch the “Parade of Progress” on Saturday, September 2. It was billed as one of the largest parades in the county’s history with 34 floats “representing practically every possible scene in the county’s history,” according to the Gettysburg Times. Old cars, buggies, costumed participants and 14 bands and drum corps also participated in the parade.

“Back then, we had some beautiful floats in the parade,” Ecker said.

The Littlestown Rotary Club won the $100 top prize for the best float. “The wigged and costumed persons on the float danced the minuet while others played the harpsichord and violin as the float passed the judges’ stand on Lincoln Square,” the newspaper reported.

The Gettysburg Exchange Club won second place with a four-unit float that portrayed the history of Adams County including Mr. and Mrs. James Getty following up in a buggy. Lincoln Logs placed third with a replica of a log cabin on their float with Bernard Fraser playing Abraham Lincoln.

Roland Kime participated in the parade with the Senior Extension Club. “We were on the bed of a truck square dancing,” Kime said. The Senior Extension Club also performed square dancing demonstrations throughout the celebration.

Things were so busy on Saturday night that the newspaper report noted that it took 45 minutes to drive through town.

Freedom’s Frontiers

The keystone event of the celebration was the performance of “Freedom’s Frontiers.” It was an original 20-scene theatrical performance that featured a cast of 500 in historical costumes acting out the history of Adams County. It also featured ordnance supplied by Letterkenney Army Deport. The show played four nights of the celebration. Each performance filled the Gettysburg College stadium.

George Sipes was a sixth-grade student living in East Berlin who also played one of the 16 students in an early classroom scene in the pageant.

“We just sat in a classroom and didn’t say a word,” Sipes said. “We never even got to see the play. As soon as we were done, we got in a car and left.”

Sipes said that Archie Himes, the man who played the teacher in his scene, knew the boys from around town and sports games. He gathered them together one afternoon and asked, “Who wants to be in a play in Gettysburg.” A few of the boys raised their hands and they were immediately cast. Luckily, they also didn’t need to do any rehearsals for their part either.

Donald Ullery, executive secretary of the Adams County Sesqui-Centennial Association, wrote after the celebration that “a large, curious group of people gathered to witness the display.”

Other events

During the days, visitors could walk the main streets of most of the towns in the county and view historical displays in business windows. The businesses were competing for prizes and Thomas Brothers Department Store in Biglerville won the top prize. The display “contained authentic items of a country store of many years ago, according to the judges,” the newspaper reported. You could see a pot-belly stove with a live cat sleeping next to it as well as a cracker barrel.

You could also watch historical vignettes performed in various towns. Ecker’s wife and daughter dressed in costume to perform in one near the St. James Lutheran Church in Gettysburg. He said that they performed every three hours or so during the day.

Children and adults could enjoy midway games and sports at Gettysburg College.

Visitors purchased wooden nickels that could be used as cash during the celebration, but apparently none of the 10,000 wooden nickels that had been sold were ever redeemed.

Beyond the Battlefield CoverHome to a U.S. president, Hall of Fame pitcher and  a classic automobile inventor, there’s so much more to Gettysburg than just a three-day battle.

Sure Gettysburg is best-known for the epic Civil War battle that was fought there in 1863. It tends to overshadow many of the other interesting and important stories that have taken place in Gettysburg and the vicinity.

Gettysburg was also home to one of the first tank training camps in the country during World War I. This camp brought a young army officer to Gettysburg who would play a very important role in town but also the world. His name was Dwight David Eisenhower.

Hall of Fame pitcher Eddie Plank called Gettysburg home. He even owned a garage in town after he retired.

Gettysburg is filled with stories of the famous and the not so famous, the curious and the cute, the mysterious and the deadly. Together they will tell you the story of a Gettysburg that you don’t know. It is a town with a rich history that spans many years before and after the Civil War.

Now you can read the stories of Gettysburg that stretch beyond the battlefield in my new book, Beyond the Battlefield: Stories from Gettysburg’s Rich History. It’s a collection of 46 stories and 56 pictures that show you the side of Gettysburg’s history that you don’t often read about.

You can get a copy here or check with your favorite bookseller about ordering one.



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