Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Widow's Due now available in hardcover!

Hi all,

As mentioned in the prior posting, the Kindle eBook version of A Widow's Due is out and available on Amazon.  It is available for purchase, as well as through Kindle Unlimited, for those who subscribe to that service from Amazon.

The book is now available in hardcover from Lulu publishing at: 








This is a print to order service, so it takes a few weeks after ordering to have the book printed and shipped.  The price is higher than normal, since this is a self published book.  By the time you print, pay publishers fees and distribute/ship, the cost goes up.  In a few months, the book will be available on Amazon under a Global Distribution agreement.    Sometimes these distributors have discounts available that are publicized, so I encourage you to look for the 10-20% discount promotions that are run routinely.

Thank you to all who have already purchased the book and have sent comments, recommendations and congratulations.  I really appreciate the feedback.  Interestingly enough, I have had a few folks ask me questions outside of the timeframe covered in the book.  For example, there were quite a few questions about John Derr's army service during the Civil War.  This blog covers quite a bit of that information, but I have decided to begin a second book dedicated to that service, which follows the Letters he wrote home during the war.  That will come out later this year, or early next.  So for those interested...stay tuned.




Lastly, a third book is also in the works which will cover the full life of John W. Derr.  It will overlap, somewhat, A Widow's Due and the second (yet to be named) book mentioned above.  That will come out later in 2021.

I have opened up a separate website for the books and in the future this blog will migrate to this new website.   You can see more here:


and email can be sent to info@jamespderr@gmail.com

Of course, the email for this blog is still open at:



Jim D

Monday, June 29, 2020

A Widow's Due

I have mentioned in previous blogs...years ago...that I was working on a book that I would release in the near future.  Well...that future is now.  I just release my book, A Widow's Due, on Amazon yesterday in Kindle format.  There will be a hardcover release in a few months, once my publisher sorts out problems that they are having during the COVID crisis.  However, I was impatient and wanted this story to be out there for folks to read and fulfill a life long dream to write it. 

Originally, started as a historical record about my great-great grandfather, John W. Derr (the subject of this overall blog), quickly shifted gears as the research process progressed.  The book touches upon the early life of John, but is mainly about the his widow Magdalena Derr, who was left a widow with two small children after the war.  Her story started to take on a life of its own, that over shadowed John's.  In the future I will put pen to paper to finish the overall story of John W. Derr's Civil War letters, but for now, it is Magdalena's turn.  Below is Preface to my book, A Widow's Due.

In June of 1971, my father bestowed upon me a gift so very rare, I’m still in awe of his courage at doing so. This amazing gift was something that belonged in a museum, not the hands of a twelve-year-old boy. The priceless gift given to me were all the letters written home by my great-great grandfather, during his four years of service in the American Civil War. These original letters, complete with stamped envelopes, were a personal treasure of my father and something for which he’d been the caretaker for over twenty years. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the love and fear he had in passing them down to his only son. With these letters, he’d also given me various old 19th century coins and currency he’d collected from his ancestors, including old Confederate paper money and other artifacts. This sparked in me a great interest for coin and stamp collecting, and he understood it would be a good time for me to learn about both my family history and responsibility. 
Later in the summer of 1971, the annual coin and stamp show was held in Vienna, Virginia, at the community center. I’d been going there since I was eight years old, when I’d cut open my piggy bank and was fascinated by the old coins inside. Having received the letters, I decided to take one of them to the event. I showed it to the first stamp dealer I saw, who offered me $250 on the spot. Of course, he was interested in the patriotic envelope and stamp that was part of this particular letter. I was very excited and ran out to the pay phone to call my father and tell him the good news! While on the phone, I could sense my dad’s unease and lack of enthusiasm. He explained to me the importance of the letters and added that he’d entrusted them to me, but they were mine, and I could do whatever I pleased with them. I thought long and hard about what he said, and it was then I understood for the first time the importance of these letters to my family heritage. The scattering of a few letters to dealers here and there would destroy the unique treasure I had and needed to preserve. When I got 
home and told my dad I had indeed not sold the letter, I could tell he was proud of me. That was probably one of the happiest days of my life. I’ve come to understand I really am only the trustee for these forty-eight letters, and I need to ensure they stay together…forever. 
My great-great-grandfather’s letters also proved to be the catalyst for a much more interesting aspect of my family history. Ever since I was a child, my father had told me of an unknown “family secret” of which nobody knew or spoke. He inquired with my various great-uncles and aunts to find out more about this secret, to no avail; it was to remain buried in family lore, unexposed to future generations. After my aunts, uncles, and grandparents died, both my father and I assumed it would be forever lost and forgotten. 
One day in 1987, I decided to go to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to look at the military service records for my various ancestors who’d fought in the Civil War. During this records search and retrieval, a detailed story began to unfold. The records for John W. Derr were large and robust, unlike my other ancestors, whose records were rather modest. I spent three hours poring over the details on each sheet of paper, copying them as I went along. Soon, it became clear I’d uncovered “the family secret,” and my excitement grew with each page I read. I’d discovered the truly interesting and important story of my family was not of the men patriotically going off to war, but the women and how they provided the strength and survival instincts that made my family what it is today. 
This story is about the struggles of one woman in 19th century America and what constituted a “normal” female role in life. It shows what one strong and determined woman could do in a society that didn’t respect those who tried to break out of the norms of the day and how whole communities both respected and reviled what she did to survive those times. What had started as a man’s story soon became a woman’s and forever changed my outlook on life. What began as a family “shame” had changed to one of family “pride.” While I am proud to be the great-great-
grandson of a man who spent four years fighting for his country during the Civil War, I’m honored to be the great-great-grandson of his widow, Mary Magdalena Diehl Derr. She was the strong cornerstone in an otherwise harsh and judgmental era. This story is in honor of her, and a statement on the incredible strength and determination of women – for without them, we would all be lost. 

James P. Derr (great-great-grandson of John W. Derr and Magdalena D. Derr) 
March 2020 





For those who are interested, the Ebook can be found at the link below:




Jim D.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans Day 2018 - Thank you again.

This is a repost of my original from 2013.  I am honored to be part of this great American family.

THANK YOU!




I am fortunate to live in this great country and to have had ancestors who fought in the various conflicts to keep all of us free.  My tribute today is to my Father, Grandfather, Great Great Grandfathers and my Mother...all of whom contributed directly to supporting our freedom.




Here's my Dad, Donald J. Derr in 1945...A World War II Navy Veteran:










Here's my Grandfather, Robert V. Price...a World War I Army Veteran:






Here's my Great Great Grandfather, John W. Derr...A Civil War Veteran (48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. D):








Here's my other Great Great Grandfather, John Z. Wagner... A Civil War Veteran (55th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. E):








And here' my Mom, M. Jane Price...a World War II Victory Farm Volunteer as a teenager:








 
My mom always wanted help the effort during World War II and so as a teenager in High School, she volunteer to work on a Victory Farm in Connecticut for the Summer of 1944.  This quite an adventure for a teenage girl from the coal regions of Pennsylvania.


Victory Farm Volunteers was an organization which recruited teenage boys and girls to work on various farms in support of the war effort during World War II.  My mom, like many teenagers of the time, volunteered to work on farms around the country to provide the "man power" lost when the young men went off to war.  It provide both a level of farm continuity as well as a morale boost on the home front.  My mom would later recount how she worked on a tobacco farm in Connecticut...which later in life she regretted due to the type of crop she helped farm.  However....many troops enjoyed the tobacco produced at that farm and her efforts are...in my opinion...very heroic!













 Thanks,

Jim D.