Friday, December 22, 2023

Well, I did it!

Post by Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Photo (C) Doris McCraw

Well, I did it! I finished the short novel and today is the release date. It's a story that's been waiting to be told since 2017 when these characters showed up in my novel "Josie's Dream". I've enjoyed the ride and hope people will enjoy their story.

With that finished, I've spent some time looking at what 2024 will look like. That I plan to devote time to making this blog a place for writers and their work and research. I would appreciate feedback and ideas. 

In the meantime, keep writing, researching, and thinking of others who might be a good fit and can use the exposure. As for me, I'm tired. I will be working between Christmas and New Year. So, this post is short on purpose. 

Wishing everyone the best Holiday Season possible. Enjoy the work of your fellow writers, and leave comments and reviews. Oh and by the way, "Amos" is now live in ebook format. The plan is to release a paperback in February. 


Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy. 


Friday, December 15, 2023

Away In A Manger-An American Carol by Zina Abbott


A 1966 Gallup Poll ranked "Away In A Manger" the second most popular Christmas carol in Britain. Yet, the origins of this hymn—both the music and words—are shrouded in mystery.

It was originally believed by many that the words for "Away In A Manger" were written by Martin Luther, the German religious reformer.

James R. Murray

James R. Murray titled the tune as “Luther’s Cradle Hymn” in 1887. He not only claimed Martin Luther wrote the song, but that he sang it to his children every night before they went to sleep. Due to Luther’s popularity, this story helped the song become even more beloved. 

German families of that time period found this claim to be surprising. They not only did not sing “Away In A Manger” to their children at bedtime, they had never even heard of the song until it arrived in Europe…from the United States. In fact, once the English words were translated into German, the meter of the words did not match that of the music. Although Martin Luther’s writings might have influenced the words of this carol, its origin was not Germany.

Instead, it appears that the hymn—words and music--originated in America. This was suggested by Methodist hymnologist Fred Gealy (1894-1976). The original two-stanza form probably originated in Pennsylvania in Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families, a Sunday school collection published in 1885 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America. Although most likely written in the mid 1800’s in America but we have no one to legally attribute it to.

Jonathan E. Spilman

The Find-a-Grave listing for Jonathan E. Spilman identifies him as having written the first musical version. From Kentucky, he was lawyer, minister, and composer. An adaptation of the music from the song for which he was best known,
"Flow Gently, Sweet Afton," was used in earlier versions of this carol. More than 41 adaptations of Spilman's 1837 melody exist.

By Christmas of 1883, "Luther's Cradle Song" was already being performed as a recitation as part of a Sunday School celebration in a church in Nashville.

The most popular musical setting in the United States is commonly known as "Mueller". The melody was first published, under the title "Luther's Cradle Hymn", by James R. Murray in his 1887 collection Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses.


In Britain, Ireland and Canada, the more popular version is "Cradle Song"—a slight variation of Spilman's original work.  This 1895 arrangement written by the American composer, William J. Kirkpatrick, was first published as part of the 1895 collection Around the World with Christmas. Kirkpatrick's melody was later published in numerous hymnbooks. Because of that, the words of the hymn were first carried beyond the United States. This music remains the most popular outside the United States.

The words for this hymn are taken from William J. Kirkpatrick’s 1895 publication:

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

William J. Kirkpatrick
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with thee there.

The final stanza, added later, follows the pattern of many hymns by using the form of prayer, petitioning Jesus’ presence in the first part of the stanza and blessing of “all the dear children in thy tender care.” The final petition requests that Jesus would “fit us for heaven to live with thee there.”

To end, I encourage you to take a few minutes to rest and enjoy the peace of Christmas by listening to your favorite Christmas carols/hymns (not that “Jingle Bells”, Santa ho-ho stuff) and remember the reason for the season.


was released last Friday and is now available as an ebook and at no additional cost with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. It will soon be available in paperback. To find the book description and current purchase options, 




My other Christmas romance for 2023 is  

Vinegar Pie by Varinia

It is available as an ebook, including at no additional cost with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. It is also available in paperback. To find the book description and purchase options,






Kathleen Rice Adams writings

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

A short biography of Dr. Alida C. Avery

 Post by Doris McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Photo (C) Doris McCraw

 Alida C. Avery

Dr. Avery arrived in Colorado in 1874, two years before Colorado became a state. She located in Denver and set up a practice at 339 Twentieth Street, on the corner of Champa. According to the ad in the Daily Rocky Mountain News Dated June 13, 1874, her office hours were from 10-12 and 3-5.

Alida Cornelia Avery was born June 11, 1833, in Sherburne, New York to William and Hannah Avery. Her mother died in 1842 when Alida would have been around nine. It is said she taught school at sixteen but in 1857 she began her medical studies at the Pennsylvania Medical College. She studied there for one year. She eventually attended the New England Medical College in Boston where she received her MD in 1862.

In 1865 she joined the faculty of Vassar College as a professor and the resident physician. She remained there for nine years, at which time she left and moved to Colorado. The article in the Rocky Mountain News quotes the 'Poughkeepsie News' as saying that during her tenure not a single death occurred among her pupils. The Rocky Mountain News article also states that she usually had around four hundred in her care at any one time.

Alida was also involved in the suffrage movement. When it looked like Colorado would attain statehood a Territorial Women's Suffrage Society was organized and on January 10th of 1876 at the meeting in Denver Alida C. Avery was elected president of that organization. She remained active in the movement throughout her years in Colorado and after moving to California in 1887.

Alida also strove to become part of the two medical societies that were begun in Denver in the early years, but they did not discuss allowing women until 1877. Even then they were still denied membership. By 1881 when Colorado started licensing physicians that no longer held true.

Dr. Alida Avery died on September 22, 1908, in San Jose California. Her obituary on ancestry reads as follows: San Jose, Sept 23 – Dr. Alida C. Avery, widely known as a physician and a woman suffragist, and for years prominent in the San Jose Woman's Club, died yesterday. She was a graduate of Vassar and later of the New England Female Medical College and the Boston University School of Medicine. Her property was lost in the San Francisco fire of 1906 and she died penniless, aged 76 years. A brother, Dr. J. Dixon Avery of Pittsburgh and a sister Mrs. Harriet Bowen of Atchison, Kansas survive her.

In 2020, Dr. Avery was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.

Watch for my Christmas Release of "Amos" on December 22, 2023. It is available for pre-order now.


Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy. 


Monday, October 30, 2023

Haunted Sonora- Gunn House Hotel by Zina Abbott


One thing I have discovered as I have researched the California Sierra Nevada Mountains and the adjoining foothills is that there are records of a number of haunted buildings and “spots,” especially dating back to the gold rush era, but including later decades in the 1800s. California was a rough place to live—and, sometimes, a rough place to die.

Some previous posts of haunted buildings I have published are The White Lady of the Bridgeport Inn, please CLICK HERE, Haunted City Hotel in Columbia, California, please CLICK HERE, and Columbia, California’s Haunted Fallon House & Theater, please CLICK HERE.

Sonora, California is the county seat of Tuolumne County and is about four miles south of Columbia. Today’s post will share a few details about one of the alleged haunted places in Sonora—the Gunn House.

Background History on the Gunn House:

The Gunn House, the oldest building still in existence in Sonora, dates back to 1850.


Gunn House - November 1850

The first two-story adobe structure in town, it was built by Lewis Gunn. Mr. Gunn originally came to the Sonora area to mine for gold. After months of fruitless attempts, which he described as just “digging holes,” he decided instead to draw upon his limited medical knowledge and some apothecary information he had to serve the medical needs of the community. Since there were no trained medical doctors in Sonora at the time, he filled a need by helping cure cases of scurvy caused by not eating enough vitamin C in the form of leafy greens or other fresh foods, dysentery from drinking bad water, and helping with stiff backs and arthritic legs that resulted from miners spending so much time stooped or bent over in or next to streams and patches of dirt while searching for gold. It is estimated he saved many lives and benefited many in the area.

After Mr. Gunn built his house, he became Tuolumne County Recorder and used his building to store county records. He saved a generous amount from his portion of the fees paid to file land and mining claims to the point in November of 1850, he bought an interest in the Sonora Herald, the local newspaper, which ceased publication in about 1854.

 In 1850, Lewis Gunn’s wife, Elizabeth, and their four children left their home in Pennsylvania and traveled to California on a ship by way of Cape Horn. They arrived in August of 1851, where the appreciative citizens of Sonora who had benefited from Mr. Gunn’s medical assistance warmly welcomed them. The family lived on the second floor, and the newspaper and county recorder’s records were housed on the ground floor.

The Gunn family stayed in the home for about ten years before moving to San Francisco. The house was sold and used as a hospital until about 1899 or early 1900.

Italia Hotel - 1934

After that, it was sold to the Bisordi family. The building was remodeled into a hotel and boardinghouse. At first called the Rosa Italia Hotel, the name was later shortened to Italia. The business was overseen by the family matriarch, Josephine. She handled the cooking, which became quite well-known locally. Her husband, Anacleto, focused on running the saloon and gaming parlor in the former Room #3.

In 1962, the hotel was purchased by Margaret Dienelt. She renamed it the Gunn House Hotel and added a landscaped garden, patio, and swimming pool. In 2002, Mike and Shirley Sarno bought the building and did considerable restoration work. You may see the building as it appears today, the Gunn House Motor Hotel, by CLICKING HERE.

In spite of all the changes to this oldest building dating back to 1850, the original adobe structure remains intact and forms the core of all the additions and renovations.

The Ghosts of Gunn House:

There are a slew of ghosts that have been seen, experienced, and reported by guests and staff over the years.

In Room #10, a man was reportedly hurled out of bed by a violent entity, which had no intention of letting him stay the night.

In Room #11, overnight guests have been awakened to find an unseen entity rearranging the furniture in the room. An oft-reported experience has been for guests to wake in the morning to find all thirteen of the pictures hanging skewed, even though nothing occurred during the night that might have dislodged them from their positions. Some guests have reported hearing a sound similar to the rattling of coins.

The most haunted is Room #12. Guests have opened their door to a terrifying apparition. Others have reported seeing a man in an old-fashioned suit standing at the end of their four poster bed.

In other rooms, a ghost has been known to hop into bed with couples, while others have reportedly felt the sensation of being watched.

Hauntings are not confined to guest suites. On several occasions, the apparition of a matronly lady has appeared in the parlor room fireplace. Others have seen a shadowy apparition appear on the stairs.

Paranormal experts theorize that the ghostly activity dates back to the thirty or so years that the building was used as a hospital.

Reservations, anyone?


I focused on Sonora, California, research while plotting and writing my recent book, A Watchman for Willow, part of the Mail Order Papa series. At the time my story is set in 1886, the Gunn House would have been a hospital. To find the book description and purchase options for this book, please CLICK HERE




My most recent release is my Old Timey Holiday Kitchen series book, VinegarPie by Varinia. To find the book description and purchase options for this book, please CLICK HERE






Williams, Nancy K., Haunted Hotels of the California Gold Country. Charleston, S.C.: Haunted America, a Division of The History Press. 2014, pages 116-121.