Josiah Jackson Dinkins

The beautiful place called Dinkins Bayou is named for a little man who lived a big life. 
Josiah Jackson Dinkins was born in 1849 and grew up in the “Magnolia Midlands” region, in Tattnall County, Georgia, the son of Martha and Joshia Jenkins.As a teenager, Josiah worked as a machinist – most likely, an apprentice -- on the Central of Georgia Railroad during the Civil War.In that job, his small stature may have served him well.
After the war, in 1868, he moved to Florida and became a steamboat engineer, licensed in Apalachicola. He was then addressed as Captain Josiah Dinkins.
By 1870, he’d moved on down to Tampa, and then on to Fort Myers in 1873.He eventually met a charming young woman who was said to have worked as a “Fat Lady” in the circus.Her name was Susan Roxann Jeffries Langford.She was 9 years younger than Josiah.
Although a couple of Sanibel historical accounts say that Captain Dinkins’ wife had worked for the circus, I honestly don’t know how she had time.She was married …

The Third Army of the American Civil War

Uncontrolled infectious diseases – including epidemics – killed two thirds of the 660,000 soldiers who died during the American Civil War.[1]  Two thirds!  I was astounded by this number until I read the Civil War letters written by my great-great-grandfather, William McAdams.[2]
Just as the novel coronavirus epidemic has cancelled and delayed many events, these Civil War-era epidemics stopped or delayed a number of major campaigns, thus making the Civil War last perhaps two years longer than it would have otherwise.Pneumonia, typhoid, dysentery, yellow fever, and malaria were the predominant diseases that plagued the soldiers.Historians sometimes call this collection of Civil War era diseases “the third army.”
William McAdams, a 25-year-old farmer and leader of his community near the town of Kansas, Illinois, was bright and optimistic as he enlisted in the 59th Illinois Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army in late 1861.He was elected by his peers to be their Sergeant, and he did not…

Bread with Patience

In the summer, I am accustomed to having really good, simple bread from the bakery around the corner.  We’ve spent summer in Paris since 1998, but my husband Tom and I will not be going to Paris this year because of the pandemic.  We are self-isolating at home due to his underlying medical condition.
So now I bake bread – a fresh loaf every other day.I use Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread recipe, which gives us a simple bread with a taste, a crunchy crust, and a chew like the breads made in the best bakeries in Paris.Even though the very first loaf I made weeks ago was really fine, I experiment with different flours in different proportions, trying to achieve even more bread perfection.
To make a loaf of Lahey’s No Knead bread, you need approximately 3 cups, 385 grams, or almost 1 pound of flour.  I say “approximately” because, as I have learned, bread flour is heavier than all-purpose flour.  So I use either 385 grams of all-purpose flour or 3 cups of bread flour – which is almost a pound…

My Orders Tell a Story

A week or so before The Isolation, I was thinking about a month of March with warm, sunny Sunday afternoons, when we would give Island Jazz concerts on the patio in front of BIG ARTS.I needed a sun umbrella that I could clip onto my beach chair, so that I wouldn’t fry to a crisp during those concerts, I thought.So I ordered one from Amazon.
I haven’t used it because of The Isolation.Within a couple days after the March 8 concert, my husband Tom and I knew enough about the corona virus that we decided to cancel all seven of the remaining concerts for the season.

Then came a stream of orders from that tell one aspect of the story of our isolation.
Each week of The Isolation, we have ordered everything from the local Bailey’s General Store that we can – but there are perturbations in the supply chains, and sometimes Bailey’s cannot deliver certain items.The first problem was sparkling water, which my husband Tom requires.Hey, at least he doesn’t drink beer.Perhaps hoarders sn…

Got O2?

As my husband Tom was recovering from a viral pneumonia in 2016, one of the things we did for entertainment and information was to check his oxygen levels using a pulse oximeter – one of those clever little electronic devices that a nurse has probably clipped onto your fingertip at some time or another.
To make it even more fun, I would pull out my Samsung Galaxy phone (a phone that later died from a swollen battery) and use the Samsung Health app to check my oxygen levels by placing my finger over the phone’s light and camera lens.Then we’d switch devices, and he would use the phone app while I used the oximeter.Surprise!The phone app was amazingly accurate; it agreed with the oximeter readings every time.

But alas, in January 2020, Samsung removed the oximeter function from the Samsung Health app.I have a different brand of Android phone now. A few days ago, I checked the app store to see if there is a decent oximeter app available.After trying a few – the most promising ones – I f…

What to Read Now: The Gulf

One day, before The Isolation, I was wandering through the MacIntosh Books & Paper shop, and I noticed an attractive, large tome written by Jack E. Davis, The Gulf:  The Making of an American Sea.  MacIntosh owner Rebecca Binkowski had displayed the book prominently on a wall, so it was easy to notice.  I opened the book to a random spot and began to read.  The writing was beautiful!  I tested a few other random pages, and declared out loud, “This is a great book!”  Rebecca responded by telling me that it had won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018, and that the author had made a few appearances on Sanibel in recent years.

I don’t buy books often because the Cooley household already is home to thousands of books.But I knew this one deserved a place of honor on my shelves that store books about Florida – after I read it, that is.As I read it, I kept telling my husband Tom about it.By the time I was finished, he said he just had to read it, too.Both of us took our time with the 600-page tome;…

Procuring Provisions

William McAdams, Sr., was a tall man with fair skin and blue eyes.  He was of Scottish ancestry, the sort of Scot who knew much about cattle and horses, and who wrote many letters.  When he was 25 years old, he was already known as one of the best farmers in Illinois; he was a particularly well-known breeder of Shorthorn cattle.

In 1861, at that young age of 25,  he entered the Union army's 59th infantry and was given quartermaster duties in Company H.  This was not a simple job; there was no effective supply chain during the Civil War.  McAdams and his colleagues had to acquire supplies as the army moved through the South.  How was this accomplished?  Well, McAdams and his colleagues would sneak out to the next town, ahead of the other soldiers, and they'd steal the best horses, cattle, and food that they could find.  That's how a large part of the provisions were procured. War is hell.  This Company H was in the battles of Pea Ridge, Bay Springs, Liberty Gap, Chattanooga…