How to Be a Christian Psychic: What the Bible Says about Mediums, Healers and Paranormal Investigators was written by Adrian Lee and published by Wisdom Editions in 2015. You may purchase it at

By Adrian Lee

Using the Bible as reference, historian and psychic investigator Adrian Lee, a devout Christian, digs deeply into religious beliefs that appear on the surface to denounce the work of mediums, healers, and psychics. He explains these passages clearly and in historical context, challenging Christians to understand the deeper meanings and various settings in which these passages were intended to apply, so that the bible’s true message can emerge. He also explains his work as a healer and psychic investigator, showing how Christians can safely and effectively use their own God-given psychic gifts to help others.

It was with reluctance that I decided to buy this book, but the subject matter seemed interesting to me since I am also a paranormal investigator.  It is true that there has always been a rift between the study of the paranormal and organized religion.  The question that is asked of these two groups of people that brings interesting but mostly different answers is: “Do you believe in ghosts?”  The author does a good job of explaining and exploring the bible to show that in fact the existence of ghosts is mentioned in the good book 108 times.  The author acknowledges that multiple interpretations of the bible have changed the way some think and how people may relate to the words within. This has led to hypocrisy among certain segments of Christians, as it relates to paranormal practices.

The book is well written and easy to understand but unfortunately, a dark cloud of suspicion and skepticism hangs over the author in this latest book of his.  In a previous publication: Mysterious Minnesota: Digging Up The Ghostly Past, the author made claims that were proven false (Was not present at investigations he wrote about being at.). Former team members can back this up, which includes me.  More can be written here but it would do injustice to his latest book, which deserves an honest review.

That being the past, I hope Mr. Lee has worked to be truthful in his latest efforts. After all, honesty should go hand in hand with his Christian values.

In May of 2011, the author writes that he had an “Angel Visitation” after he asked God to “Show me an angel.” He writes: “There was a chill in the air, and I gathered the bed covers around me…” and then describes  “a blinding light raining down on me from above.  It was very powerful and filled the room, glowing and dazzling like the white light in the hottest part of a furnace. It was so intense that I immediately realized I could not see the walls or corners of the room.”

The author later writes that a man by the name of “Joshua” also visited him.  Explains the author: “In His day, Jesus was actually known as ‘Joshua ben Joseph’.” That is quite an acknowledgment and it would be a profound responsibility on the shoulders of anybody.

Even with the cloud of suspicion and skepticism hanging over the author’s head, the content in the book is worth the read.

I give How to Be a Christian Psychic 3 stars

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

The Doll House was written by Alan Hoxie and published by CreateSpace in 2009. You may purchase it at

By Alan Hoxie

This is a true story about 13 people associated with a century old house, who died tragically in a two year period. The house was built on ancient Native American burial ground and cursed by Seneca Chief “Redjacket.”

When a tale is elevated to a point where real life becomes entangled with the paranormal and death occurs because of some very bizarre activity involving a battered spooky doll, it becomes a “horror story”.

Even if you take away the element of a possessed doll that mysteriously reappears in the attic of the authors rented home, being somehow connected to over a dozen people who died within two years is very eerie, disturbing in itself and I can certainly understand the authors apprehension.

I have lived in the neighborhood of this house for more than forty years and I just learned of this story a few days ago. Being a paranormal investigator for five years, I come with built-in skepticism when I hear about a true “ghost story”, but for obvious reasons I was eager to read this book.  In the beginning, the author uses a lot of time and pages talking about his family and friends and the interest was there for me but my mind kept shouting, “Let’s get to the doll house story!”  After nearly a quarter of the way into the book, the story picks up and I was instantly obsessed with curiosity over this house and the doll.

The story is hauntingly good even if the author took license to change names, for good reasons, and I suspect that some other details of the “true story” may have been altered slightly.  However, much of the Native American history of the area, and the sacred burial ground, can be backed up from other sources.  I have been so impacted by the story, that when ever I drive past the house and the cemetery I will always be thinking about “that creepy doll” and I will wonder if it’s watching me.

I give The Doll House 4 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

It’s Halloween time here in Nedrow, NY. Many of us are preparing for October 31rst, when monsters, goblins, and other creatures of the dark will begin to hobble, slouch, and shuffle to our doorsteps. As we busy ourselves with the spooky fun of All Hallows Eve, most of us will remain totally oblivious to the horrors that happened on the hill directly to the east of us in 1803.  

Witches Over Nedrow?

History and its stories are sometimes lost to time; unless the alert curiosity of prying eyes finds a little known document and begins to dig.  It’s a horrific story of Witches and wizards, and as the tale is told, it happened right here in and around our hometown of Nedrow, NY when it was known as Onondaga Castle.  It all begins with the traditions of the Onondaga Nation.

As is the case in many indigenous cultures and world religions, the belief in the supernatural is central to the faith of the Onondagas.  Many wondrous and incredible stories have been told, including legends involving giant monstrous birds that caused great havoc over the land and waters of the Onondagas. Other stories of awe and terror involve large monstrous heads flying through the skies with flaming hair.  The quis-quis, or great hog, was another monster which gave the Onondagas great trouble, as did the great bear, the horned water-serpent, the stone giants and many equally amazing tales are found among the traditions of the Onondagas.

Aside from these lofty legends of lore, a more down to earth belief among the Iroquois, which had deadly consequences, is that of witchcraft and wizardry. Within the Iroquois Confederation, in which Onondaga is a part; there existed a strong belief in witches and wizards.  In none of the six nations was the belief more prevalent, than among the Onondagas.

It was believed that these witches and wizards held nightly meetings in order to bring disgrace and trouble upon the nation.  The people of the nation believed that these witches and wizards could change themselves into wolves, foxes, hawks and turkeys and additionally they could transform themselves into shapes and materials such as trees, rocks and logs.  Other powers that were feared and attributed to witchcraft included invisibility and the ability to infuse poison and disease among their people.

Central to the history of Onondaga Castle is this story, as was told in ONONDAGA OR REMINISCENCES OF EARLIER AND LATER TIMES.  Historian Joshua V. H. Clark wrote it back in 1849.  A central figure in this story is Mr. Ephraim Webster. He was the first white settler to the area and was a trusted associate of the Onondaga Indians.

“Mr. Webster, in his conversations with the old settlers, said that an old Indian of the Onondagas used to relate, that at an ancient period, when a portion of the Onondagas had an extensive settlement and populous village on the flats east of Jamesville, that he resided there, and stepping out of his cabin one evening, he sunk down deep into an immense cavern, which was brilliantly illuminated with flamimg torches.  No sooner had he reached the floor, than he found himself instantly surrounded by hundreds of witches and wizards, who rather un-ceremoniously ejected him.

Early the next morning he proceeded to the council house, and laid the matter before the assembled chiefs.  They asked him, if he could identify any of the persons he had seen.  He replied that he thought he could.  He straightway proceeded through the village and pointed to this and that one, whom he thus signified as delinquents.  They were at once doomed for execution, and without trial or ceremony, upon evidence or whim of a single individual, numbers of both sexes were killed.  According to the tradition, the slaughter was immense; it seemed there could be no end to the alarming panic; many of the people dispersed, and for a season it was feared the nation would be completely broken up.  It is said that more than half of those who remained at home were killed, amounting in all to hundreds.”


It is important to note that the traditions of witchcraft, and the ways in which to deal with persons involved, continued into the times of the first white settlements.  The ways of execution were either by burning to death by fire or they were dispatched by tomahawk.  Usually, however, before they died, they were permitted to speak in their own behalf, frequently owning up and agreeing with the charges against them.

It was documented in several sources that after the condemned were told of their fate, a number of native men from the nation would walk to a high ledge of rocks, roll some of them out, sufficient enough to make a large hole.  They would then return to Onondaga Castle and direct the “witch” or “wizard” to depart for the place of execution.  The men of the nation would then follow the doomed to the prepared location.

After a woman was condemned to die, she would pull a blanket over her head and proceed to the site of the execution.  Once at the site, and standing on a rock at the edge of the hole, one of the men would walk deliberately up to her, and remove her blanket and let it fall to the ground.  It was at that instant that two Indians would walk up to the woman with tomahawks and do the deed, letting her body fall into the hole.  Rocks were then rolled onto the body until it was deeply buried.  The men would then cry out:  “Thus perish all witches!”

Wizards met a similar fate but instead of walking to the place of their death, they ran.

According to Joshua Clark:

“Several instances of this mode of punishment have occurred since the first settlements were made by the whites, and have been related to the author by the older inhabitants, some of whom were witnesses.”

It was also documented:

“As late as 1803, four squaws were executed according to their customs.”

One of the four directed her own execution. She requested to die by fire. Another one met her death as many did before her- as mentioned and documented above. Here’s the account of why and how she was executed in 1803.  Told by Joshua Clark:

“The Indians had purchased a beef of Mr. Webster, for purposes of a great feast. During the transaction a young man who was master of ceremonies, was charged by an Indian woman with partiality, in the distribution of the good things which were served.

The following night the young man rose in great agony, saying, this woman had choked him, and if she did so the following night, it would surely kill him.  The succeeding night he was heard to utter a terrible cry, and as he screamed, his friends rushed in, but he was dead.  No one was discovered in the room who could have effected his death.  It has been said that Mr. Webster himself saw the prints of fingers upon his throat. 

The supposed witch, when asked if she was guilty, acknowledged she was.

She was taken to the top of the hill east of the Castle, killed with an axe and buried among the rocks.”

Two other “witches” were executed as the one above. All of them courted their own deaths as martyrs would for a holier cause.

In another document of our earlier times, it was said:

“Another tradition says that about fifty persons were burned to death at the Onondaga Castle for witches.”

Although Onondaga Castle, back during the time of the first white settlements (1788-1805), encompassed a modestly larger area west of modern day Nedrow, there can be no mistake that the “…hill east of the Castle” is a place we can all relate to; needing only to take a peek out of our doors to see it.

Are the ghosts of the witches still stirring among the rocks that buried them?  Are they and the fifty witches that were allegedly burned to death looking for an ear of sympathy or are they all content to remain silent on their side of the veil; satisfied with the charges against them?

Please consider them in your thoughts the next time you look to the east.

Happy Halloween….

This story is a part of a larger volume of information that will be published in the near future: Onondaga Castle, Rockwell Springs, Nedrow:  History Of A Hamlet

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

When I began investigating the paranormal in 2010, it didn’t begin with a couple of hauntings here and there; I stepped into a very busy schedule with our Minnesota team. We investigated close to a dozen sites within six months. We investigated theaters, a hotel, a city hall, an old jail/ bed and breakfast, a cargo ship, a bar and several private residences. It was an exciting time for me as I opened up a very skeptical mind to the possibility of “ghosts”.  Five years later, I’m still visiting and investigating  haunts and I’m still skeptical of reports of “ghosts”- unless an activity can’t be explained naturally. After years of wandering around in the shadows and dark rooms I now wonder: Has it all been worth it? I now realize that it isn’t all about the “ghost hunt”.  It’s about developing a keen interest in the history of the place and of the people who lived there. There’s a rich and interesting history all around us; no matter where we live. We just need to take the time to learn about our past and listen to the people that may still be reaching out to us.



Have you ever taken the time, if you live in an old house, to at least wonder about the people who lived there before you? All of those fifty to one hundred years that have passed within your walls; filled with the deep flowing energies of family gatherings and the complex and interesting people who have moved away or passed away. I have lived in a house that is one hundred years old. And yes, it is haunted.  In just a few short months after living there I experienced several “incidents” that rise above anything I have ever experienced before, while working in the paranormal field.  In the five years of investigating I have never seen an apparition or anything close to one- until I moved into this house.  Although I have never seen a fully solid apparition with clear human features, I did see a wispy  fog like vapor move across my path as I opened the door to my bedroom.  As I always do, I looked for a natural explanation for this, including smoke from a fire, and could find nothing. Another time I was driving past the house, ready to pull into the driveway, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a body move across the porch towards the front door.  A second later, as I made the turn into the driveway, I looked on the porch expecting to see the mailman. No one was there.  A friend, who has resided in the house for over twenty years, says that she has seen and heard people, through a draped living room window, move across the porch. After her dog begins the barking and also acknowledges a presence on the porch, a check is made at the door and no one is there. This has happened many times over the years, she said.  I have an explanation for these “porch people” but it’s not a debunking, it reinforces the paranormal aspects of these happenings. I’ll get to that later.

As I mentioned, knowing the history of a home’s residents can add or even take away from a paranormal investigation and its findings. I have not looked into the history of my friend’s house but we may have a  spirit who may have resided there when they were alive.  This ghost has been fairly active in the house and likes to play pranks on the living. She is known to my friend by the given name of “Jamie”.  Jamie is a little girl perpetually stuck at the age of around six or seven years. She is attracted to shiny things and she loves to hide objects, which later can reappear in front of a frustrated owner, in a place right in front of their eyes, like on a table top.  I suspect that Jamie has  targeted me.  When I moved in I was  suffering from a badly sprained left middle finger. It requires that I wear an aluminum splint on my finger when I sleep and also sometimes during the day. For six weeks I kept the splint on my night stand table when it wasn’t in use. Then one day my splint went missing and I have looked every where. Not only was my splint  a target but my car key remote  was being played with. If I set my keys down on the coffee table my car alarm would go off. I believe its possible that Jamie was pushing the panic alarm button on the remote. This happened at least two or three times a week and it has never happened at other locations that I have been at. Then there was the morning when I came down to find a small pile of some grass clippings and those whirlygig  things that fall from trees in front of the TV on the living room floor. That also caused us to scratch our heads.

Little kids, like adults, have favorite places in their homes where they like to hang out. It seems that Jamie’s favorite spot, strangely enough, is on the  lower steps of  the stair case to the upper level. Being 100 years old, the stairs creak and groan under the weight of  people moving up and down them so it’s not surprising that the sound can be heard anywhere in the house.  It is surprising though when you hear a creaking sound when no body is on the stairs. It happened one night while my friend and I were in the living room watching TV. I was looking directly at the stairs when I heard it and I turned to my friend and asked, “Did you hear that?”  She also heard the creaking sound. I grabbed the EMF meter and immediately  went over to the stairs.  Most times there is little or no EMF activity on the stairs.  Now the meter was strongly registering well over 2 on the Milligaus scale. One or two steps up and the needle on the meter would fall off to 0 or 1.  Near the steps on the floor there is a step stool and this area also registered 2 and above. It was as if Jamie were moving between the stairs and the stool. A few minutes later the meter went quiet again. It is very interesting to me that Jamie seems to prefer the second step up from the floor. This is the same step, incidentally, that the dog and the cat avoid on occasion when descending the stairs. It’s as if Jamie may be sitting there and keeping an eye on what’s happening in the foyer and in the living room. Also of note: The step has a separation/crack in it that runs the length of the step, approximately 2″ from the edge of the step.  I have to wonder if at some point in the history of the house if the step may have had a very heavy weight on it that caused it to crack and separate. This step may lend a clue as to why Jamie spends a lot of time there.  Did something traumatic happen to her on those stairs or is it just a nice place to spend and play out her ghostly time?  Maybe history will some day reveal who Jamie really is or maybe she’s a wayward spirit looking for a place to have some fun and be recognized by people who may be open to the possibility of her existence.

I have often wondered and theorized if there is an explainable and natural common attribute between haunted locations.  To the point, could you increase or decrease the activity in your house by just simply flipping an electrical switch to either on or off?  I’m talking about EMF.  As many know, EMF is an electromagnetic field.  Many things in our world generate an electromagnetic field which includes living beings and also, to a higher degree, our electronics and electrical systems.  When some electrical systems, such as the ones that power our homes, are not properly grounded, high EMF readings can result. It is extremely important that when you enter a location to investigate that you do a preliminary walk thru to check the property for anything that could help to naturally explain or debunk the claims of the property owner. High EMF readings from electrical systems and devices will rule out a spirit generated EMF in a specific area but I believe, as do many in the paranormal field, that spirits can and will draw from high EMF systems and devices in order to gain energy so that they can “communicate” to the living through the paranormal activity that we experience. Sort of an energy buffet for ghosts. I have found in many cases that there is usually a correaltion between specific areas of high activity  and high EMF in that same specific area. I know of at least 3 locations that I have recently investigated where the home owner has seen an apparition or had significant high activity in an area where there is an improperly grounded electrical system or device.  My theory holds up in the case of the “Porch People”.  The north east wall of their home holds an electrical system that throws off an unusually very high EMF.  This could very well explain why the “People” are seen walking past the living room window and it could help explain the other activity in the house as well.   Of course this could also explain why this house remains the most haunted house that I have ever been in.


Was living in this haunted house scary?  Not at all.  All of us are afraid of the unknown but if you can some how try to understand why something unexplainable is happening, it all just becomes another interesting and wonderful part of life- and death.


Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

By Andy Weir

The Martian was written by Andy Weir and published by Broadway Books in 2014 (Sold by Random House). You may purchase it at the author on Facebook.


Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

The Martian could very well be our future nightmare come true. Astronaut Mark Watney is believed to be dead and left on Mars by his crew. Even more horrifying than that, he is very much alive but he faces an almost certain slow death from starvation or from several other mishaps. He is stranded, cut off completely from Earth. He is left with only his engineering skills and a strong determination to survive. The odds weigh strongly against him…

The story of Mark’s struggles to survive on the red planet is told to us through a daily journal that he keeps. Being the technically minded astronaut that he is, we don’t hear too much about his philosophies or about his life back home on Earth. The journal is largely about the problems he faces and how he improvises and works with the materials at hand to find solutions. Plainly put- it’s exactly what one would expect to read from an astronaut if this were reality. The author has undoubtedly done his research and homework to bring us something that will most likely be read by future astronauts who endeavor to travel to Mars.

While this story is long and deep on the technical aspects of surviving on Mars, I could not stop reading. I was immediately and completely enthralled by Mark Watney. I liked him. I liked his humor. I liked his do not quit attitude. I liked and admired his ingenuity. This is a book that is at present time being read and debated by many. It has rightfully found a home on the New York Times Best Sellers list and it will soon become a major motion picture starring Matt Damon.

This first time author has produced a great story and he is witnessing a magnificently awesome lift off in his early career as a writer.

I give The Martian 5 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

Andy Weir will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday June 8, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.

By Cristi Taijeron

Queen Of My Nightmare (Uncharted Secrets, Book 2) was written by Cristi Taijeron and published by Create Space in 2014. You may purchase it at the author on Facebook.


I didn’t want to be a pirate, but there are times one must do undesirable things in order to survive. Under Mason Bentley’s black flag, I ended up finding more than just the refuge I was seeking. He taught me to fight, inspired me to navigate, and by the time we reached Tortuga I was drawing maps so fine I could sell them. No longer a weeping, helpless woman, I took hold of my courage to face the cursed world that wished to punish me for witchcraft. Strong, rich, and free, I finally claimed my throne in this kingdom of thieves, but it was the love I shared with their king that cursed me with a burden I was not strong enough to bear. What good was it to be a queen if the only dominion I held was over a nightmare? -Midnight-

What intrigues and delights me with these stories of old, in this case a pirate story, is the ability of the author to bring a colorful sense of realism to the tale.  I often think of pirates in the same way as I think of gangsters. Bad men who have not an ounce of good in them. But human nature doesn’t work that way. We can find good in anyone if we just take the time. And so it was with Hannah when she boarded Mason’s ship. To make it safe for Hannah, on board with many drunk and dastardly men, she had to become a man or at least to look and act like a man. In order to be at Mason’s side Hannah became Midnight and she was soon out to sea experiencing the agonizing and brutal ways of a pirate. To sail along with Midnight as he attempted to maintain his disguise, while also being engaged in a vicious and bloody war with another ship, was very entertaining. As the years continue Hannah struggles with life and her trust in Mason wanes but she holds on.

The author is exceptionally good at descriptions of place and actions.  It’s as if she thru colorful buckets of paint onto a black and white distant past. This is a love story that is very well balanced with just the right amount of interesting twists and turns in it to keep you reading until the very end. 
This author has talent and I would encourage her to continue to write and to think about lengthening her stories. I want to read more.

I give
Queen Of My Nightmare (Uncharted Secrets, Book 2) 5 stars


Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

Cristi Taijeron will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday May 25, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.


By Dave Moore

Gear Up, Shut Up was written by Dave Moore and published by Amazon Digital Services in 2015. You may purchase it at the author on Facebook and at

Moore takes a disruptive approach in building teams and developing leaders that creates cohesion, maximizing results while minimizing human error keeping safety first. He creates an environment where others are encouraged to speak up and challenge one another, spawning new thoughts and ideas. Moore’s unique background and insight allows him to be as effective addressing the men and women on the shop floor, showing them how to engage and connect with management, or the C-level executive.

On December 17, 1903 the Wright brothers took to the skies in the first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. On December 17, 1997, exactly 94 years after that first flight, Dave Moore took flight in a Bellanca aircraft but shortly after he left the ground he crashed into a wooded area in Steubenville, Ohio.  Dave almost lost his life there in the woods but miraculously he survived and he has gone on to become a motivational speaker and author.

In his latest book Gear Up, Shut Up he talks to us about being a leader but as he points out in his book you don’t have to be “in charge” to be a leader- you can contribute to the success of any group even if you are just a team member. 
He gives us examples in the form of the many experiences that he’s had as a pilot and after each story he gives us valuable lessons and takeaways from each experience.

His stories are edge of your “Pilot” seat exciting and he also engages the reader in some very high flying humorous snippets. Gear Up Shut Up
is extremely thought provoking and you will remember the examples and lessons the next time you need to manage a difficulty in your life. I enjoyed the flight!

I give Gear Up, Shut Up 5 stars.
Dave Moore will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday May 11, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.


By James McAllister

The Turret was written by James McAllister and published by Fortiter Publishing in 2014. You may purchase it at the author on Facebook.


It has been generations since the Earth survived the alien invasion. Politicians have cast a greedy eye on the funding of unused defenses, eyeing the reallocation of the funds as a path to reelection.
Young Jock MacAlister’s life long dream comes true with his assignment to ADS 1437, the last operational Asteroid Defense Station.

The capture of an alien scout vessel changes everything. Jock is thrust into a prominent role in planning Earth’s defense. He must overcome personal tragedy, political corruption, and devastating treachery to build the forces needed to save the Earth.

Along the way, something unexpected takes root, something crucial to Humanity surviving as a greater struggle between good and evil follows Humanity to the stars.


A family, along the time line of Earth’s future, in the 3400′s must help find a way to save our planet from an alien invasion. Their obstacles and challenges to save Earth from destruction: Politics and military strategy mixed in with the great loss and human toll that such an endeavor would surely deliver.

For me, the intrigue and intense curiosity of what our world will look like and what our behaviors will be like in the 3400′s  was the main thrust of my interest when I first began to read The Turret .  Added to that excitement was when I learned that much of the Earth bound drama centered around Central New York- the exact place where I spent the first forty years of my life.  The technical aspects of space travel and the direction of the plot line were a tad confusing and a bit difficult to grasp in the beginning but the story soon finds its course.  
Near the end of the story, the author begins to nicely tie up the purpose and moral of this future tale and the story’s impact is left to the reader to ponder.

James McAllister is a good writer with even greater potential. I look forward to reading more of his work.

I give The Turret 4 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

James McAllister will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday April 20, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.

Russell Brice (Circa 1975)

As many know, I was adopted by my grandparents. Russell and Grace Brice provided for me and loved me. As a child growing up, I never saw Nan or Pop as anything more or less than loving parents. There were never any  physical fights (A few verbal differences of course but all families have those) between them but when I was 18 years old I was in my bedroom and heard Nan and Pop having a bit of a verbal fight out in the living room. I didn’t hear much of what was being said but the one thing that stood out the most was what my grandmother said. She said: “Cut it out Russell, or I’ll feed you bread and water like you use to have…”  Well, you can imagine what was going through my mind. I heard Pop leave the apartment and I went out to confront my grandmother about what she said. She told me some about Pop’s “dark past” but most was lost to the mystery of it all. I wouldn’t find out a lot more about Pop’s past until the early 90′s- after they had both passed from this world.

While researching newspaper articles in a library and after taking a bicycle trip to New York City, I found out  the truth about my Pop. After I found out did I love him less? No. I loved him more because of what he had to overcome to turn his life around. He was a very loving and beloved man who loved animals and kids as much or more than anyone I know.

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to tell his story as a tribute to him. I also want others to know that a person can change their ways and lead a very productive and respectful life even if it comes late in life.  As a disclaimer this excerpt and the book which will follow has truths in it but it also has embellishments since there are huge pieces of Pop’s life that only he knew about. He didn’t talk much about his past or his childhood and he certainly never talked about his “dark past”. He went to his grave believing that I never knew about those years. My grandmother told me that if he ever found out that I knew…”It would kill him…”   I have done extensive research on what I did know about his past and the times that he lived in. I also knew his personality and the kind of man or person that he was. Of course the news articles are not embellished and the prison that he lived in for close to 30 years of his life is as real as can be.  I hope you will enjoy the story …..


Russ sat with his back against the cold hard wall of the box car and listened to the freight train as it rumbled and squeaked along miles and miles of tracks.  The  sound of the engine’s steam whistle was both pleasant and eerie and it served as a catalyst  to the memories of his past and to the hopes and dreams of his future. 

It was quite an exciting but scary adventure for Russ to venture out and leave his boyhood and family behind. He had just turned eighteen on October 25th, 1911 and he was eager and ready to go when Spring of 1912 arrived; the warmer weather finally chasing away another brutal winter in Menominee, Michigan.

Times were busy growing up at the turn of the century. Motor cars were the talk of the town and a man by the name of Henry Ford was just a few short years shy of mass producing them in the form of the Model T or also known as the Tin Lizzy.  The lumber and paper industries were flourishing in the upper Midwest and it seemed that everyone was excited about life. Roads, trolley cars and train tracks were also expanding at a very fast and furious rate. Russ’s nearby birth place and home until he was five, the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, had just expanded by uniting with Fort Howard in 1895. Although only two years old at the time, Russ later remembers playing with a Kazoo when he was four and being told the story of what a great celebration there was when both cities united to become a larger Green Bay. Cannon fire, whistles and kazoos could be heard all around the city as people marched in the street with joy in their hearts. Not one arrest was made during the celebration and all was well with the people of the new Green Bay. It was undoubtedly a good place to grow up as a boy and even though there were some tough times, his parents did the best they could with him and his sister Sylvia. In 1898, Russ’s father Albert moved the family to Menominee, Michigan to take a job with the fire department at the paper mill. In 1906 Russ’s mom, Julette  found a job as a forelady with a shoe factory.  The family was doing so well that they even hired a servant. Ella helped with the chores and cleaned the house while Albert and Julette were working.

 Just two years after the move to Menominee Russ  would face a very difficult year. It was 1900  and while some of the homes in Menominee were equipped with in door plumbing, including his parents house, Russ’s friend John lived in a house that still dumped their chamber pots out in back of their house. Russ would be out playing with John during the hot summer months and when they needed a drink they would go to the well which had recently been drilled about fifty yards from where the human waste was being dumped. Unfortunately the sewage finally seeped into the well system and on a bright summer day in July of 1900 Russ began to develop a fever and a cough with rose spots appearing on his stomach and chest. A week later his fever spiked to 104 and he was admitted to the hospital where he soon went into a coma. Russ had typhoid fever. He would never forget what it was like when he woke from a two-week coma. His sister Sylvia was by his bedside when his eyes finally opened.  She was so excited that she ran out of the hospital room yelling to their parents, “He’s awake! He’s awake!” Russ felt something in his mouth and reached in with his finger and pulled out a bunch of peanut butter like crud that had built up on the roof of his mouth over the two weeks he was in the coma.  Finally, with a lot of rest and doctoring he finally recovered but the typhoid had damaged some of the circulation in his left leg. This condition would worsen as he got older and it would plague him later in life but it never held him back from living his life. 

After Russ recovered from typhoid he continued to do what a lot of boys back then did. He played, got into fist fights, went to school, chopped wood and helped  with his chores.  He took trips to the paper mill with his father and at the age of twelve he was taught by a few older boys how to log roll on the river.  It was a very busy place to grow up as Menominee was noted for having the most produced lumber in the United States.  When Russ was thirteen, a boarder who lived in the house next to him would sit and talk to Russ for hours. Mack Winnifred was also one of Russ’s teachers at school. Mr. Winnifred would tell Russ stories of New York City, where he grew up. Russ was fascinated with the big city and would day dream of living there. Living in Green Bay and Menominee were nice but Russ wanted to explore the world more and New York City seemed to be the place that others were moving to.  As 1910 approached, Russ was eager to make money and to plan for his future. He saw very little of his parents as they were always working so he began to visit his grandmother quite often back in Green Bay. In fact Sylvia moved back to Green Bay and moved in with her grandmother when she was 16.  Russ missed his sister and loved his grandmother very much and he and his grandmother became very close during the years that Russ began to grow up into a young man.  His parents never seemed to have the time for him but he would remain in Menominee until he made his move to the East Coast. In 1909 at the age of just fifteen he took a job as a drug store delivery boy. He would make most of his deliveries on foot but he also had a horse that the store let him use when the weather wasn’t so good for walking. During his deliveries he often visited the Dudley Tool Company where they were working on building a new motor car to compete with Henry Ford. When Russ asked what they would name it they told him with pride: “The Dudley Bug” This got Russ laughing and very quickly Russ became fascinated with what was happening behind the doors of the tool company. He was also very fascinated with tool making and soon he landed a job there after he quit school in the 8th grade. It came at the right time for Russ as his mother passed away in 1911 after coming down with pneumonia. He needed a distraction and he needed to keep busy.

Aside from keeping busy with his chores and work Russ liked to read the newspapers and he was especially interested in stories about a famous magician who had lived only eighty three miles from him in Appleton, Wisconsin.  His name was Harry Houdini. In 1907, right after Russ’s fourteenth birthday, Harry Houdini came to Menominee and performed a straight jacket and handcuff escape. Russ was hooked on Harry Houdini and followed the magician through his stories in the newspaper. He was especially amused and excited when Houdini would actually escape from jails while nude. Russ read everything he could get his hands on in regards to the magician and escape artist. In fact one of several reasons why Russ was leaving home was to one day live in New York City. This is where Houdini moved to with his father and family in 1887, just six years before Russell was born. Russ was hoping to meet Houdini one day and his wish would come true; only it would be in a place that Russ never intended to be.

It was an ad that ran in the paper in 1912 that perked Russ’s attention. Remington Arms Company had just expanded it’s plant in Bridgeport Connecticut and they were looking for a machinist. Russ had the experience and now he had the reasons to move closer to New York City.

Russ finally told his father, grandmother and sister about his plans to move to Bridgeport. His father told him he’d miss him and wished him well.  Both his sister and grandmother shook their heads at him, not wanting him to leave because of the opportunities that existed in Green Bay and Menominee but they knew how stubborn and determined Russ was and they knew that nothing or nobody would stop him.  Russ explained that once he started work he would send back money to help them with living expenses. It was the least he could do after all they had done for him. Sylvia had spoken up before his grandmother had the chance and voiced her opinion . “Russell, this hurts me to see you go but you have to do what you feel you must do. I know you can look after yourself. You’re a strong man now with hands that work with steel. Careful with those hands. You know the trouble you’ve been in before with the fights you’ve had? Well, just be careful. I love you.” Russ hugged his sister and immediately hugged his grandmother who already had tears welling up in her eyes. “Like your sister said, you be careful and please write when you can…” “I will grandma, promise.” Russ grabbed his sack of belongings and left through a weathered screen door and he never saw his grandmother or sister again…

Published NY TIMES: Feb 21, 1921 (Click to read larger view)







By Dawn Kopman Whidden

Stolen  was written by Dawn Kopman Whidden and published by Amazon Digital Services, 2014. You may purchase it at Visit the author on Facebook.


Another homicide has rocked the small town of Fallsburg, NY. In a cabin nestled deep in the woods two male victims are discovered,both gun shot victims. One is deceased the other one is barely alive. But it is not the murder itself that has detectives Jean Whitley and her new partner Marty Keal frantic to find out the answers of what occurred in that cabin, but it is the identities of the two small children also found at the scene. One child is quickly identified but the other a young boy remains a mystery. The only one with possible answers lies with the man who lay critically wounded and unconscious in the hospital because the unidentified boy either can not or will not speak to tell the investigators who he is and what happened in that cabin that left one man dead and another barely hanging on …


The author has written three books in this series: A Child Is Torn, Faceless: A Mystery and Stolen. I have read and reviewed all three. I loved the first one, liked the second one and was anticipating the third one to be another good interesting read. Stolen wasn’t good. It was as far above good as you can get- it easily exceeded all of my expectations.

The author brings back all of the main characters that we came to know in the first two books. All of the characters are so rich with personality that you can’t help but like them and it’s easy to relate to their struggles. The ingredient that makes  the chemistry of the story so strong is the ability of the author to mix fear and compassion into the character of a child. These are such competing emotions to have when trying to help a child but as a caring adult you feel strongly compelled to help in some way.  In Stolen
, for example, you will be introduced to Tristan. His behavior can be described as part wolf and part human. But, he is just a strange and troubled little boy who desperately needs help.

Aside from having very interesting characters, this story also has a few twists and turns in it that will awe you and keep your eyes glued to the page. I could not put this one down. The story flows easily.  
It’s very rare for me to finish a book in one day. With this one, I couldn’t call it a day until I finished it. It goes to the very top of my book shelf for this year.

I give Stolen 5 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell:

Dawn Kopman Whidden will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday April 13, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.