Welcome to my newsletter where I share updates about my writing projects and discuss the importance of historic places.
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Volume 3, Issue 2, August 1, 2018
I hope everyone is having a good summer. This is my first newsletter since March. This has been a very busy spring and summer for me. I revised my novel, The Unicorn Tree. It has a new cover, tighter story, and a new publisher. The new edition was released in May, 2018. One of my short stories was included in a story collection, A Lazy Day Anthology, published by a writers' group, called Bugs2writes, in the U.K. to raise money for children's medical research. That book was released in June, 2018. I am not a member of that group but feel very fortunate to have one of my stories included. And, I have been asked to write an essay for a history journal about music during Thomas Jefferson's time. More on that when it gets closer to publication.

As you scroll through this newsletter, you will see I've added a new feature. In every issue, I will be highlighting at least one classic fictional work either set in or inspired by historic places.

Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins 

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Ellis Island 
Ellis Island Immigration MuseumAmerica has had several points of entry for immigrants but the largest one during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was Ellis Island in New York Harbor. From 1892 to 1924, Ellis Island was where 12 million immigrants first set foot on American soil. A short distance from the Statue of Liberty, it represented a beginning for most of the newcomers of a new life in a new country, and the ending of a difficult journey. For those who were involved in criminal activity, entrance was denied. 

The Ellis Island Immigration Station had 500 employees at a time to process new arrivals. Inspectors made sure the passenger names matched with the ship's manifest and conducted interviews. Clerks kept records of daily numbers of immigrants, arrivals, departures, filed passenger lists and notes from immigration hearings. Interpreters were essential for those who did not speak English. Not only did they have to be fluent in a foreign language but also were expected to know different dialects. Doctors checked for infectious diseases and nurses were assigned to care for immigrants admitted to the Ellis Island Hospital. Social workers helped with everything from providing general information to food, clothing, money, and religious services.

Ellis Island eventually became obsolete as a processing station for immigrants due to stark changes implemented during the 1920s. The percentage of immigrants allowed into the country was based on a quota system and the inspection procedures for potential immigrants was transferred to the country of origin. Ellis Island continued to be used during the war years for processing detained immigrants but permanently closed in 1954.

President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation in 1965 recognizing the importance of Ellis Island in our nation's history by making it part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The main building underwent restoration beginning in 1986 and opened in 1990 as the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Its extensive collection includes written records, artifacts, archeology, and plant life. It is open every day except Christmas.

Recent Articles...

The Historic Importance of the San Antonio Missions
Mission San José, San Antonio, TexasThe San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio, Texas, consists of four missions built in the early 1700s by Spanish Catholic priests. The purpose was to establish settlements in the territory claimed by Spain. Continue reading

Favorite Classic Fiction in Historical Settings...

Dragonwyck by Anya  Seton
Anya Seton's Gothic tale of romance, social class distinction, and power amid a changing way of life was written in 1944 and inspired by an article from an 1849 New York newspaper. Even though the main characters are fiction, the story is based on a once prominent lifestyle along the Hudson River of wealthy landowners with lavish manors, New York City townhouses, and tenant farmers who work and live on the land in exchange for turning over a share of their crops as rent.

Miranda Wells, the heroine of the story, is from the "wrong" side of the Hudson. She is an 18-year-old farmer's daughter who is invited by a mysterious cousin, Nicholas Van Ryn, to be a governess to his little daughter. Her parents set aside their reservations and allow her to to go. When she arrives, she is completely overwhelmed by the opulence of the manor called Dragonwyck, the numerous servants, her own lack of knowledge of the arts and what to say in various social situations, her distant cousin's obsession with tradition, and her growing feelings for him. After a respectable period of mourning for the death of Van Ryn's first wife, he and Miranda marry. Despite the lavish lifestyle, she becomes increasingly unhappy and heeds the warnings she is hearing about the Van Ryn family.

Dragonwyck is a fascinating story, both in terms of the story itself and in giving readers a look at 19th-century New York. Some of the history includes Dutch prominence, popular writers of the day such as Edgar Allen Poe and Herman Melville, steamboat races, riots, and anti-rent wars. All of that is the backdrop for things that are not as they seem, a brooding family history, and a foreboding tower room.

The Unicorn Tree

The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins © 2018A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –
The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

Lisa Duncan, a seventeen-year-old high school senior, has an assignment to tour historic Mirabelle Manor, a large estate built in 1850 by a sea captain for his wife. During the tour, she begins to suspect that Mirabelle's ghost is watching her. One of the items on display is a diary, open to a passage about going to a place called the unicorn tree to watch for ships. This appeals to Lisa whose brother is currently sailing across the Atlantic on a commemorative voyage. When news arrives that his ship is lost at sea, her interest in the diary deepens as the past and present lead her to discover what happened.

For reviews and more information, click on the book cover to go to my website.

Ghost story and maritime adventure in a historic setting...
Available at

A Lazy Day Anthology - 1

A Lazy Day Anthology - 1This collection of 21 short stories by various authors is the latest book published by the non-profit writers’ group, Bugs2writes, which raises money for children’s medical research in the United Kingdom. The stories range from humorous to serious, fiction and non-fiction, and are suitable for older children, teens, and adults.

Featured Bugs2writes authors are: Elizabeth Allen, Rosemary Baxter, David G. Hulson, Graham Mcglone, Audrey Nye, Sally Saunders, Suzanne Stack, and Julie Hatton (Editor). Featured non-member authors are: Lynne Thelwall and Cynthia Collins.

My story, "The Grass Patters," is a humorous tale of a curious, but not nosy, woman who sees her neighbors poking around in their yard. What starts out as a little eccentric ends up of interest to the whole community with the curious neighbor having a front row seat.

Available in Kindle format at  All proceeds go to children's medical research.
Photo credits: Ellis Island Immigration Station and Mission San José: courtesy of NPS. A Lazy Day Anthology: courtesy of Julie Hatton, editor. The header banner, author photo, and cover of The Unicorn Tree: courtesy of Cynthia Collins.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2018 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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