Mystery Monday – Mineral Creek Chapter Five

“Miss Patty what do you mean? How can I put Elsie’s ghost to rest?”

“Her murderers are still free and as long as they go unpunished for what happened to my Elsie she will never rest in peace.”

“Yesterday when I brought up the subject of my sister’s death you couldn’t even look me in the eye. Today you think I can find Elsie’s murderer. It’s been ten years. Why now and why do you think Elsie was murdered?”

“I can’t tell you the story because it’s just too painful for me but I have laid out the newspapers with the articles pertaining to her death. Read those and perhaps they will lead you to the answers you search for in Anna’s death as well.”

Ella watched Miss Patty make her way to the front desk then glanced down at the papers splayed out in front of her. Miss Patty had laid them out in order of publishing. The first article was the one announcing the death of Elsie that she had come across yesterday. The next one was dated three weeks later and was titled “Questions Arise in Death of Local Woman.”

“I wonder who asked those questions,” she absently said to herself as she read the article.

Questions have arisen in the death of Elsie Potter, who passed from this life three weeks earlier of reported complications of pneumonia. Rumors abound that a possible illegal operation was the true cause of death. Doctor Edward Henderson was brought forward for questioning‘.

“An illegal operation? I wonder what kind of operation they could be talking about?” she asked herself as she moved on to the next article, “Body to be Exhumed.

“Oh my, poor Elsie. No wonder Miss Patty thought Elsie’s ghost isn’t at rest. They didn’t let her body stay at rest. The sheriff must have learned something important to petition the court to exhume her body.”

After questioning Doctor Henderson, certain doubts have been raised in the cause of death of Elsie Potter. The sheriff petitioned the courts for permission to exhume the body and to have it examined by another physician to confirm the cause of death. Doctor Henderson has been ordered to remain in town until after the findings.

Ella looked at the last article that was laid out, “Doctor Edward Henderson Arrested, Teacher Brought in for Questioning.

The body of Elsie Potter was exhumed last Friday and was examined by Doctor Nicholas Woods. In his report, he confirmed that the young woman perished not from complications of pneumonia but from a surgery that had gone wrong. Doctor Henderson has been arrested on charges of committing an illegal surgery, falsifying a death record and murder. Local teacher Mathew Rogers has been brought in for questioning in the involvement of Miss Potter’s death.

“I knew it! The teacher was involved in something!” She looked for the next article but that was the last one Miss Patty had laid out for her. She went in search of her to see where the rest of the articles were.

“Miss Patty, I am so sorry to hear about what happened to Elsie.”

“It truly was a tragedy and I blame myself daily for letting it happen under my very nose.”

“What was the illegal surgery that she had?”

“Doctor Henderson was preforming an abortion and something went wrong. If she had only come to me we could have figured out something. We could have saved her and the baby.”

“Why did the articles stop after the one where Doctor Henderson was arrested?”

“That is where I need your help. That was the last article written because everything became hushed up. Doctor Henderson was cleared of any crime and that Rogers character left town. Everyone went unpunished for the crime of Elsie’s death.”

“Why do you think it was hushed up and how could he be cleared of everything when there was so much against him?”

“Secrets abound here in Mineral Creek. If you learn its secrets, you will find out why nothing happened. I have tried for years but no one will talk about that time and people began to ignore me when I was around. I learned quickly to quit asking questions.”

“Did you learn anything about these ‘secrets’? Anything that I can start with?”

“Only that it involved the doctor and that teacher that my Elsie was seeing. He was the one to pull her into this mess. It’s his fault she is dead.”

“I think Anna knew something was wrong, I have been reading her diary and she talks about how strange Elsie started acting after Mathew Rogers came around. I haven’t read very far into it yet but she said people noticed Elsie leaving town at dusk and how she planned on getting some answers from her.”

“Perhaps Anna was the one that questioned her death. I failed in that as well. I didn’t question how she wasn’t sick one day and gone the next. The signs were right there in front of me and I chose to ignore them.”

“It’s not your fault, Miss Patty. Elsie was a good girl who had never led you to believe she could get mixed up with these characters. You couldn’t have foreseen what was going to happen.”

“I believe all of our answers lie in Anna’s diary so my next step is to do some more reading.”

“Please keep me informed and if there is anything else you need from me don’t hesitate to ask. I will help anyway I can.”

Ella said her goodbyes to Miss Patty and headed home. She was excited to get home and read what else Anna had discovered. This mystery was getting bigger and bigger and she was even more convinced that it involved more than just these few people. She also needed to tell Johnny everything she had learned but thought it to presumptuous to just show up at his office. She would have to wait until later to tell him about the articles.

* * *

Johnny found Ella returning home from the library. “I’m glad I caught up with you. I learned some interesting information about Elsie and that teacher.”

“That’s wonderful! I have some pretty startling news as well. Come on in and we can compare our notes. Would you care for something to drink?”

“Yes please. I think we have a lot to talk about and a lot of planning to do as well.”

Ella served him some tea and leftover cake and then sat down across from him. “Ok, you go first. What did you learn from the superintendent?”

“Not very much. He was happy to help me until he learned who I was asking about then he became very quiet. He stumbled over his words and wouldn’t look me in the eye. He pretty much told me what I already knew. He told me he only taught at the school for a very short time before he decided to move on. When I questioned him about why he suddenly decided to move he just told me he stayed out of the private lives of his teachers. I got most of my information from my secretary, Mrs. Vanderpool.”

“Oh, I remember her. The Vanderpools moved in a few years before we left. Wasn’t she Elsie’s neighbor?”

“That’s what she said. She also remembered that there was a rumor that she didn’t die from pneumonia but of some kind of secret surgery gone wrong.”

“Yes, but it’s not a rumor, it’s true. I read articles where her death was in question and the sheriff decided to question the doctor. After talking to him, he petitioned the court to exhume her body.”

“There must have been something that really stood out for them to petition that. To exhume a body is nearly unheard of. Did the court approve it?”

“Yes, and they brought in a different physician to examine her.”

“What did they decide?”

“Elsie didn’t die of pneumonia but of a bad surgery. It didn’t say what kind of surgery it was but Miss Patty admitted it was an abortion that went wrong. Doctor Henderson was arrested for doing an illegal operation and falsifying a death certificate. The articles also stated they brought Mathew Rogers in for questioning.”

“What happened to them?”

“The articles stopped after that. Doctor Henderson was cleared of all charges and Mr. Rogers left town.”

“That seems very strange.”

“Miss Patty says that Mineral Creek has a secret and that Elsie stumbled into it when she started seeing that Rogers guy. She said when she started asking questions after Doctor Henderson was cleared of charges people started giving her the cold shoulder and she eventually gave up.”

“So your theory of a town conspiracy is starting to sound like it has a ring of truth to it. The question is, how do we learn what this secret is? It’s clear that people know something was going on but they were too afraid and still are for that matter, to do anything about it.”

“I think Anna was the one that started asking the questions that got the investigation into Elsie’s death started. It’s my hope that she wrote it all in her diary. I plan on reading more of it tonight.”

“You will have to let me know what you discover. Unfortunately, I will be in court all day tomorrow but I will stop by tomorrow evening to see if you have uncovered anything important.”

“Thank you for helping me, Johnny. It means a lot to know that I’m not in this alone. It’s nice having a friend to lean on.”

“You can lean on me anytime you need to Ella. I’ll always be here for you.”

The silence stretched as they stared at one another. Johnny cleared his throat, “Um, well… I need to get going. I have a lot of prep work to do before tomorrow.”

“Good night, Johnny, and thank you again,” Ella closed the door softly behind him and leaned her forehead against it. It was nice to have him help her. She didn’t realize how alone she had felt until he had come into her life, but thinking about her friendship with Johnny would have to wait. She wanted to read more of Anna’s diary but she had other things to tackle first. She needed to get the rest of the house cleaned because she was tired of sleeping in the sitting room. Her back ached for an actual bed.

As she cleaned, she thought back to that time ten years ago. She had only been nine and thought that her older sister and Elsie were silly to be acting out over boys so she really didn’t pay them any attention. She did remember her sister sneaking out of the house not long before she died. She thought she was just out playing but perhaps she was trying to find out what Elsie was up to. There was still so many questions and each answer just brought more questions.

By the time the sun set Ella had given the entire house a thorough cleaning and was sitting in her old room eating a snack of cheese and bread. Not very filling but she was too tired to cook anything and besides, it was time to read more of Anna’s diary.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is the question I want to ask everyone who has a successful garden. Every year I try to put out a small garden but something always seems to happen and I never get any reward for all my labor. The first year I decided to plant a small garden, I decided to put it behind my house, not far from the back door. I worked that garden every day but nothing would grow. That was the year I decided I had bad dirt.

The next year, I decided to do a raised garden bed. I didn’t own a tiller to help turn the soil so I thought this was the answer. I bought railroad ties, and using my ever faithful Pinterest app, I constructed a nice little raised bed. I bought Miracle Grow soil to plant in, and as I labored daily on my little garden, I began to see my vegetables growing. I was so excited. I had done it! I was growing something!

Unfortunately, that year we had a storm that brought 6 inches of rain in only a few hours. I looked out my bedroom window as my lovely yard became a raging river. My raised beds were completely underwater. Once the water had receded the next morning I went out to see how my garden faired, but I held out no hope for my tender vegetation. My fears were confirmed when, not only were there no plants, but there were no raised beds at all.

Once the ground dried up enough we took our side by side out in the field to look for them, and we finally found them in pieces 200 yards from the house. Well, by this time I decided I was done trying to grow anything. Apparently the green thumb that runs rampant in my family skipped a generation because I couldn’t grow anything.

I went a whole year determined that I was not going to try another garden, but when Spring came, I found myself planning a different way to grow my things. This time I decided to buy a bunch of galvanized buckets. I poked holes in the bottom for drainage and I covered the front yard with them. I made sure to put them where it never flooded this time. I always take pride in saying I learn from my mistakes. So you may be asking your self now, ‘What disaster has befallen this garden?” Well, I’ll tell you; children.

Gardens don’t do well when you have a couple of mischievous little boys running about outside. The boys thought they were helping me by pulling the weeds. Only it wasn’t the weeds they were pulling, but my onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables. At this point I wanted to sit down and cry. Never have I known someone have so many problems in trying to grow a garden.

So this year I thought I would do it right. We bought a fancy new tiller, and I worked that ground thoroughly. Before putting any plants or seeds in the ground I put Miracle Grow out and tilled it again to make sure the soil was healthy with nutrients and ready for planting. When it was time we planted everything and I was happy with my half acre garden. I worked it every day and things were looking great, that was until mother nature had to step in again. A late winter deep freeze came. I had covered everything, but it seems mother nature doesn’t like me and we lost half of the crop.

So I found myself replanting what I lost within the following week. Just as I got everything replanted the rains began. I couldn’t get into my garden for an entire week due to heavy rainfalls everyday. Then I had to wait for the ground to soak up the excess water. During that time the heat came in full force. By the time I was able to get to the garden, what plants that didn’t drown were baked to a crisp.

I think next year I will just get my vegetables at the local farmer’s market. Ugh!

Traveling Thursday – Cottage Grove, Oregon

Picture taken by Oregon Department of Transportation https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/5136382452/

Today I’m going to introduce you to the little town of Cottage Grove Oregon. I haven’t been here yet, but it is on my list of places to visit. I love the small town charm with the wonderful scenery in the background. This town is known as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the West”, and has 6 covered bridges in the area of the town.

Picture taken by Doug Kerr

A little bit of history about Cottage Grove; the first post office was established in 1855, but Cottage grove wasn’t incorporated until 1887. Unfortunately, in 1893 the people that lived on the east side of Cottage Grove rebelled and established their own town known as East Cottage Grove. In 1895 the Oregon State Legislative changed the name to Lemati, but by 1899 the two towns were thrust together and once again it all became Cottage Grove.

For the history buffs there are 3 museums in the town. Cottage Grove Historical Museum, Bohemia Gold Mining Museum, and the Oregon Aviation History Center.

For those wanting to do more outdoor activities there are two lakes in the area. Here you can swim, bike, hike, water ski, camp, and fish. Anything you want to do outdoors you can do here. Cottage Grove Lake was established in 1942 with the building of the dam. It’s picturesque scenery makes for a calm day of boating, hiking or whatever you do to enjoy nature.

Another lake to enjoy is Dorena Lake which offers the same outdoor activities as Cottage Lake.

Trying the Farm Life – Green Briar Farms

A couple of years ago my husband and I decided to purchase some goats. We were looking for a small hobby to supplement our income. Unfortunately, neither of us knew anything about goats and after about a year all of our goats were gone and we were back where we started. Then I had a brilliant idea. We need cows! It made perfect sense to me, as I grew up around cows and was much more comfortable taking care of them than the goats.

Two of our ladies

Our herd isn’t a large one. We started out with only five heifers, but we now have eight heifers, a bull, and four calves. Thirteen cows isn’t a large herd and we’re hoping to expand in the future. Right now though, our time is taken up with fixing fences all along our property. About two years ago, we had a tornado come through here. We were lucky and only had minor damage and fences down. A lot of our trees were uprooted, and cutting them up is still a work in progress. Unfortunately, our neighbors were not so lucky.

They left their home when the threat of a tornado was predicted. They lived in a trailer house, and knew they had to take shelter elsewhere. I can’t tell you how glad I am they did. Right after the tornado hit my friend called me to check on her house. We rode out through the field towards their home and saw it completely demolished. I will never forget that night, and I am so glad I talked to her on the phone before we went there because I don’t know what I would have done if I thought that family was in that rubble, but I digress.

We were talking about the many fences we needed to fix to make sure our cows stayed where they were supposed to. I don’t know how many months we worked to get all the fences in reasonable repair, but I do know I don’t care to look at another fence stretcher for a long time.

Cam fixing the fence as the sun was setting. I was supposed to be helping but I snuck a picture in without him knowing.

We still have a couple of sections to go, but what we have done will work for now. I much prefer fixing fence in the fall when it’s cool outside and there are less threats of snakes. I hate snakes! As I was saying though, the fence fixing got finished as the sun was setting so I will leave you with this beautiful pictures as we pack up and head home.

Mystery Monday – Mineral Creek Chapter Four

Ella held her breath as she waited for Johnny to reply. She hoped he would help her and didn’t think her theory was too far fetched. She believed with every ounce of her being that Elsie and her sister’s death are somehow related.

“Ok Ella, I can see that this is important to you so I will help you do some research. What do you suggest we do first?”

“I think we need to look into this teacher that Elsie was seeing. Find out if he’s still in town and if he’s not, when did he leave and how was his reputation around Mineral Creek.”

“That sounds like a good place to start. What was this guy’s name again?”

“His name is Mathew Rogers. He was a bit older than Elsie so he would be about 35 now. He was new in town. He got the teaching job after he moved here from Guthrie.”

“That’s some good information to go on. I’m friends with the superintendent so I should be able to ask him anything we will need to know.”

“I think I’m going to talk to Miss Patty again. She acted strange earlier when I told her I was digging into the death of Anna. She was the one who told me to visit her grave. She must know something but she’s too afraid to talk about it and then she closed up the library early. She had to know that I would be back with more questions after seeing the engraving on Anna’s headstone.”

“Miss Patty was Elsie’s aunt, too. You would think that if something bad had happened to Elsie or your sister, she would do everything in her power to bring any guilty people to justice.”

“Unless the guilty people had good connections in this town. It’s just a guess, but I wouldn’t doubt that if someone did do something to them both they had high up friends to ensure that nothing would happen to them.”

“There you go on your wild theories again. Now you have the whole town conspiring against two eighteen year old girls.”

“It’s not that wild of a theory Johnny and you know it. How else could they have gone ten years without getting into trouble and why is everyone in town afraid to talk about it? Then there is the fact that any information on any investigations that may have taken place have conveniently gone missing.”

“I can tell that I can’t stop you from spinning your tales but can I ask you a question?”

“Of course, you can ask me anything.”

“Good, when do we get to eat?” Johnny asked with a smile.

“Oh dear, I’m not a very good host. I get caught up in this and tend to forget everything else. Now the food is probably cold.”

“It’s ok. I can understand your need to find out what happened to your sister. I would want to do the same thing if I was in your place.”

“Do you have any family?” she asked, as she motioned for him to have a seat at the table while she brought the food over.

“I have two sisters and three brothers. All of them are happily married and producing children faster than I can keep up.”

“It must be nice to have such a large family. My father was all that I had left and now that he’s gone there is only me. Sometimes I think back to when I was little and it was Mama, Papa, Anna and me and wish I was back there with them. We were a small family but we were happy,” she said, tears filling her eyes at the memory.

Johnny reached out and gave her hand a sympathetic squeeze. “I am the last of the litter so to speak and considered the black sheep of the family. So even though I have a large family it has been years since I have seen them.”

“Why would you be the black sheep? You have a perfectly respectable job and from what I have noticed you have no major flaws to your character.”

“I come from an old and proud Cherokee family. My grandmother and grandfather came over on the Trail of Tears and settled on a farm just outside of Tahlequah. The land and its animals are important to my family and to their livelihood. They don’t understand that even though I had the respect of what nature gives us, I didn’t particularly want to work the land for the rest of my life unlike the rest of my family. I wanted to do more with my life. I wanted to help people and that’s why I became a district attorney. In my own small way I am helping people find justice. People just like you who are looking for answers.”

“Everyone should have a right to do what they want to do and be what they want to be. That’s exactly why I became a teacher. I wanted to inspire my students to reach for the stars and not just settle into a role that someone else wanted for them.”

“So, after you find the truth about Anna do you plan to settle here and become a school teacher once more?”

“That is my hope. I have been gone from Mineral Creek too long. This town is my home, I have roots here but I guess it will all depend on what we learn. If the townspeople can’t accept the truth and help mete out justice where it needs to be then I couldn’t stay here. It would feel too much like a betrayal of my sister and my family.”

“If there was anything illegal done, we will make sure that punishment is dealt out where it needs to be. It doesn’t matter what the townspeople say.”

“And if it’s someone with a lot of influence? What then? How can we compete with that kind of power?”

“Hopefully it won’t come to that but if it does I have some favors to call in from some people I know. They will be able to help us out.”

They ate the rest of their meal talking about their interests and how much they have in common. By the time the meal was over and Johnny had taken his leave, Ella was feeling lighthearted. She hadn’t felt that way in a long time and she was worried it had a lot to do with Johnny. He was being such a good friend that she was worried she was seeing more into their friendship than was there. After all, he was really the only friendly person she had met since coming back to Mineral Creek. Even her dear friend, Miss Patty, was acting standoffish. She needed to make sure in this little adventure that not only did she find the answers she sought but that she protected her heart from being broken as well.

* * *

“Thanks for meeting with me Harold. I know you’re a busy man,” Johnny said, shaking the man’s hand.

“No problem, Johnny, you know I’ll help you in any way I can.”

“I hope so. So far there seems to be some resistance where this topic is concerned.”

“Oh dear, this sounds ominous indeed.”

“Without going into details of my investigation, could you tell me about a teacher you employed some years ago. He may even be one of your current teachers.”

“I will tell you all I can but other than their educational qualifications I really don’t delve into their private lives.”

“I understand. The teacher in question is Mr. Mathew Rogers.” Johnny immediately noticed a distance in the other man’s eyes when the teacher’s name was mentioned.

“There is not much to tell about Mr. Rogers I’m afraid. He came into my employ some eleven years ago. Moved here from Guthrie I believe. He taught at our school for less than a year then decided to move on.”

“Do you know where he moved when he left Mineral Creek? I would like to locate him and ask him a few questions.”

“I’m afraid I do not remember. That was quite a few years ago after all.”

“Do you know why he suddenly wanted to relocate?”

“As I said, I try not to get involved in the dealings of my teachers when it is after hours. What they do on their own time is their own business unless it reflects poorly on my school. If that is all the questions you have for me, Johnny, I really must be going.”

“Yes, of course. Thank you for your help, Harold.”

The superintendent quickly stood and left his office.

“Well that was strange,” he said to himself as he walked to his office door. “Mrs. Vanderpool, can you come in a moment please?”

“Of course, Mr. Moore.”

He motioned for her to have a seat. “Mrs. Vanderpool, how long have you lived in Mineral Creek?”

“My husband and I moved here about ten years ago I would say. I remember because there was quite the scandal happening when we moved to town and it was hard to get to know anyone because everyone tended to keep to themselves.”

“Do you know what kind of scandal?”

“All I know is that it concerned that nice Elsie Potter.  She was our neighbor and such a sweet girl. It was such a tragedy what happened to her.”

“What happened to her?”

“Her sudden passing, of course. One day she was out shopping and the next day we heard she had succumbed from pneumonia. I never understood that though, because she was perfectly healthy the day before. Then there were those dreadful rumors about surgeries gone wrong. It was in the papers for months afterwards. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t let her rest in peace but had to keep making up horrible stories.”

“Thank you so much, Mrs. Vanderpool. You have given me all the information I needed.”

“Well, you’re welcome Mr. Moore. Even though I don’t exactly know what I did.” His secretary left his office. He grabbed his hat and coat and headed for the door. He had to tell Ella what he had learned.

* * *

Ella knew she had to talk to Miss Patty again. She hoped she would be more forthcoming this time but she was worried she wouldn’t even want to speak to her. When she rounded the corner and saw the library, she was happy to see that it was open. At least Miss Patty hadn’t closed the library to avoid her this time. When she entered, she expected to see her at the front desk where she usually sat to watch the patrons but she wasn’t there. Instead, she found her in the very back looking at the newspapers.

“Miss Patty?”

She looked up from the article she was reading. Ella could tell she had been crying. “Miss Patty are you ok?” she asked, rushing to her side.

“I’m fine dear. I was just reading an article from a long time ago and it brought back some painful memories.” Ella glanced over Patty’s shoulder and caught a glimpse of the article heading, “Body to be Exhumed.”

She wanted to ask what the article was about but the stricken look on her friend’s face made her pause. “Is there anything I can do for you, Miss Patty?”

“There is only one thing you can do for me Ella. Find the truth. You want to put the ghost of Anna at rest and I want Elsie’s ghost put to rest, too. If anyone can do it I know you can.”

Traveling Thursday – Branson, Missouri

If you are looking for a family getaway with adventure and fun for every age, Branson is the place for you. This town boasts that it is the “live music capital of the world”, and hosts over 50 different shows from country music, to magicians and acrobats. My all time favorite show is the Baldknobbers, which is the first family show that began in Branson. Other’s that I like include the Presley’s and Dolly Parton’s Stampede.

Not only are there shows, but there are also plenty of outdoor activities as well. Table Rock Lake offers camping, fishing, boating, and more. The hiking offers beautiful scenery of the Ozark Mountains, or if hiking is too slow there is always the Shepherd of the Hills zipline for the more adventurous.

For the teenagers there is Silver Dollar City, an amusement park situated on 61 acres just north of the Branson Strip (Hwy 76). At Silver Dollar City you can take a tour underground of the Marvel Cave, a large limestone cavern that is the oldest attraction in the area. In 2018, Silver Dollar City also unveiled its newest roller coaster, the Time traveler. At the time of its opening it was the tallest and fastest spinning coaster in the country and was ranked the year’s 2nd best new coaster.

If rides are not your thing don’t worry. There are shops, shows, and demonstrations to entertain everyone. My husband’s favorite place is watching the blacksmith at work. Did I mention the food? There are many great places to eat inside the park. I always have trouble making up my mind.

Branson also is home to many different museums. I believe throughout my lifetime I have been in every museum multiple times. Branson has always been my family’s go to vacation spot. If asked what my favorite museum is, it would have to be the Hollywood Wax Museum. Other museums include the Titanic which hosts 400 artifacts form the actual ship and it’s passengers. This is a self-guided tour where you walk through the ship as a passenger. They give you a boarding pass at the beginning of the tour, and at the end you look for your name on the list of passengers to see if you survived or were a fatality.

Other museums include the Dinosaur Museum

My son Sam at the Dinosaur Museum

Ripley’s Believe it or Not

World’s Largest Toy Museum, Veterans Memorial Museum, Branson Farm and auto Museum.

My family has been coming to Branson for generations and it is a town that I consider my second home. I have enjoyed sharing this wonderful place with you and hope you get the opportunity to visit it sometime as well.

Mystery Monday – Mineral Creek Chapter Three

CHAPTER TWO

Ella closed the journal. She wondered what happened to Elsie? She knew she had died a few months before Anna but she never really questioned what had happened. Could that have something to do with Anna’s death? It seemed far fetched but she needed to look into it.

Forgetting that she had an entire house to clean or that she had barely eaten in the last few days, she decided to take a trip to the library. With any luck, they would have copies of all the newspapers from that time and it may tell her something. The librarian was an old family friend and also the biggest gossip in town so if she couldn’t find what she wanted in the newspapers she knew Miss Patty would have some answers for her.

The library looked just as she remembered it. The smell of the books assailed her nose as she walked in. To her they smelled of the adventures that were in the pages of the books. She assumed it was the teacher in her, though she had always loved reading. She walked up and down the aisles to get reacquainted with the layout when she heard her name called out.

“Ella Mattox, is that you sulking around my aisles?”

Ella smiled, “Miss Patty, it’s so good to see you again!”

Patty York slowly made her way to Ella and enveloped her in a big hug. Her girth had definitely not shrunk in the ten years that she had been away. “It has been too long Ella. What brings you back to Mineral Creek?”

“My father passed away a few days ago and left me the house so I left my teaching position and decided to come home.”

“I’m sorry to hear about your father but I am glad you came back. This old library has been very lonely since you’ve been gone. So, what can I help you find today? Mystery, Suspense, Poetry?”

“Actually, I’m looking for some old newspapers.”

“We have every edition since this town became a town. What year are you looking for?”

“1919, July and later would be great.”

Miss Patty gave her a strange look. “Why would you be wanting to read about ten year old news?”

“I’m looking into Anna’s death. Everything was a blur back then and I just want to get some clarity on what happened.”

“Your sister died from pneumonia, Ella. That would hardly make the news column.”

“Then answer me this Miss Patty. How come when I mention my sister and her death all of a sudden no one will look me in the eye? Right now you can’t even look at me. Something was wrong back then. It took me years to see it. Why did my family grab just the clothes we could carry right after her funeral and leave everything behind?”

“Some things are better left buried in the past Ella. It will do no good stirring up ghosts.”

“These ghosts will haunt me until I have laid them to rest and to do that I must find out what happened to Anna.”

Miss Patty sighed in resignation. “If you must, then you must. When you get done looking at the newspapers might I suggest you visit your sister. That’s where the story begins but I must warn you to take care. You don’t know the Pandora’s Box you will be opening on you and this town.”

“That seems very ominous Miss Patty, but as you say this is something that I must do.”

Miss Patty showed her to the newspapers and left her to her research. The first thing she wanted to find was the death notice of Elsie. She wasn’t sure why but thought that was the beginning.

“Ah there it is,” she said. “‘July 29th 1919, Elsie Marie Potter succumbed to a lingering illness yesterday’. Well, there doesn’t seem to be anything strange about that.”

Giving up on her newspaper theory, she decided to listen to Miss Patty and visit her sister. She hadn’t been to the cemetery since the funeral and she felt bad for not visiting Anna in all these years. The cemetery wasn’t a large one and it didn’t take her long to find Anna’s grave. The engraving on the stone immediately caught her attention, “Killed By Human Wolves”.

“Why would Mama and Papa put such a strange saying on Anna’s grave? What did they mean by ‘Human Wolves’? Oh, I wished I had asked more questions while they were still around to answer them.”

Now she had to find someone who could answer the question about the human wolves but who would know? She had to talk to Miss Patty again. She quickly made her way back to the library but found that it was closed.”That’s strange, I have never known Miss Patty to close early.”

“Well hello again, Miss Mattox.”

Ella turned at the voice. “Good afternoon, Mr. Moore. It seems we are always running into each other.”

“Yes, it is a small town. I was on my way to return some legal books but Miss Patty has decided to run away for the afternoon I see.”

“It’s rather strange of her. I have never known her to close early and I had an important question to ask her.”

“May I be of any help?”

Ella studied the man. He seemed sincere and since he was the district attorney he may have ways to get her questions answered. “Perhaps, I have just visited my sister’s grave for the first time in ten years and have discovered a strange engraving on the headstone.”

“Strange how?”

“It says “Killed By Human Wolves” and I was curious about it’s meaning. I thought Miss Patty would know.”

“Killed By Human Wolves? That is quite mysterious.”

“What’s even more mysterious is the fact that everyone in town is avoiding the topic of my sister. The only information I’ve gathered is from a couple of neighborhood kids and what little I’ve gotten from my sister’s diary.”

“If it will help you out I can do some research at my office. Surely if there was some sort of foul play it would have been documented by the last district attorney.”

“That would be a great help! While you do that, I will read more of her diary and see if I can find anything that sounds out of the ordinary. If you’re free tonight, I can fix us dinner and we can compare our notes. That is, if you would like to meet at my house.”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea. Is six o’clock good? I will even bring the dessert.”

“Six will be fine. Until this evening then, Mr. Moore.”

“I look forward to it, Miss Mattox.”

Ella watched him walk away and mentally slapped herself on the forehead. What has she gone and done now? Her mouth had a tendency to run away with itself and she always found herself in trouble because of it. Now she had to prepare a meal in a few hours in a kitchen that hasn’t been used in ten years. She hadn’t even had time to stock the kitchen with the simple necessities yet.

She hurried to the general store to buy all the staples for the kitchen, then made a quick trip to the butcher and bakery and rushed home to prepare tonight’s meal.

The kitchen didn’t take near as long to clean as she had feared but she did experience a moment of panic when she couldn’t get the stove to light. After giving it a good cleaning, it finally lit and she was able to get her chicken in the oven to roast. Now she could get Anna’s diary and see if she could find out anything else that might help her.

She skimmed through the entries that didn’t have anything of importance to them until she came to the date May 18th, 1919. Anna had titled this entry where she hadn’t titled any of the previous ones. The name of the entry immediately caught Ella’s attention, “Trouble is Afoot”.

“Oh Anna, what did you get yourself into?” she asked the air around her.

Dear Diary,

I am so worried for Elsie. Ever since she started seeing that Mr. Rogers, she has not acted like herself at all. She is never around anymore and on the off chance I run across her in town she quickly finds an excuse to leave in a hurry. I spoke to Miss Patty about her odd behavior but she said that girls in love often act odd in the beginning and that she was sure it was nothing to fret over. 

You would think Miss Patty would show a little more concern considering Elsie is her niece and she is responsible for her well being. I have also been told by what I consider reliable sources that Elsie has been seen sneaking out of town at dusk every evening. The Elsie I know would never chance leaving the safety of town alone at night. What could be so persuasive that she would go out into the night alone? Was she having a clandestine meeting with Mr. Rogers? Surely Elsie would never do anything like that. Well, tomorrow I have decided it’s time for some answers. So until then my friend.

Anna

“So Elsie was possibly having an affair with this Mr. Rogers and Anna wanted to try to talk some sense into her but she was avoiding her,” Ella said to herself. She wanted to read the next entry but the smell from the kitchen told her that her chicken was done and Mr. Moore would be there soon.

She finished making dinner and was just putting the finishing touches to her hair when there was a knock on the door. Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves she opened the door. “Good evening, Mr. Moore. Please come in.”

“Thank you and please call me Johnny.” He handed her a cake from the bakery, then removed his hat and coat. As they sat down in the sitting room she couldn’t help but notice how much smaller the room was with him in it.

“I hope you like roasted chicken and potatoes? I’m afraid that was all I had time to prepare.”

“Anything home cooked would be wonderful. I get tired of eating at Maude’s all the time. I spent all afternoon looking into the death of your sister but it seems that for some reason all the files from that time frame seem to be missing.”

“Missing? That seems very odd.”

“Yes it is. When I asked my secretary about it, she just said they must have been misplaced but she is so meticulous that I can’t imagine her misplacing anything.”

“I believe that my sister’s death had something to do with the death of her best friend, Elsie Potter. In her journal, she speaks about her meeting an older man and then she started behaving strangely. Elsie died a few months before my sister did. I’m beginnin0g to think that Anna stumbled onto something sinister that happened to Elsie and she had to be silenced.”

“Do you happen to read a lot of mystery books, Ella? May I call you Ella?”

“Oh, yes of course. I do read a lot, Johnny, but I’m not inclined to the fanciful side. Something strange was going on here in Mineral Creek and in some way it involved Elsie and my sister and I plan to find out what it was. Are you prepared to help me open Pandora’s Box, Johnny?”

Traveling Thursday -Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari, Gentry, Arkansas

The Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari in Gentry, Arkansas, is a 400 acre farm with over 50 animal species. This is one of my favorite family outings. My family has been coming here since I was little and I enjoy sharing things I did when i was a kid to my kids now. Even my cranky teenagers get excited about Gentry, and love to take pictures of all the animals.

The safari not only has a drive-thru but they also have a a walk-thru area as well as a place where you can walk around with the animals. My kids’ favorite is getting in with the goats and watching them jump around. Honestly, I love the baby kangaroos. Unfortunately, Braxton liked them as well, and ended up getting a swift kick in the rear from one, lol.

Sam enjoying the animals coming up to the window. This was right before it licked it, yuck!

If you are in the area, stop by and treat your family to this grand adventure, and don’t forget to ride the camel while you’re there.

Visit their site at Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari

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