Smedley’s Stone

A number of people have contacted me regarding the restoration of Samuel Smedley’s crumbled gravestone, seen above. Here’s how events stand.

Historian and artist Bill Lee, who painted the images composing the cover of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, is spearheading the effort to restore the stone. He has officially proposed restoration to the probate judge, whose office is responsible for the town cemeteries, and suggested an ad hoc committee of six (including the judge, Bill, and me) to oversee the process.

The next step is to have a professional examine the stone to see if it can be re-inscribed and reused. If not, then a new stone will be installed. Since Smedley was a veteran, public funds may be available to assist (particularly in the latter scenario — a new stone may cost as little as $25). Obviously financial estimates depend upon the assessment and the decision of how to proceed.

We’d like to unveil the restored or new stone on June 13, 2012 — the 200th anniversary of his death.

The original inscription never mentions Smedley’s service in the American Revolution. It reads:

late Collector of Customes
for the District of Fairfield
died June 13, 1812.
Aged 59.

So in either case, it has been suggested that a plaque be placed near the gravestone more fully detailing Smedley’s life and role in Independence. If it’s determined to move forward with that idea, then we’ll very likely pass around the collection plate. In the meantime, I will post periodic updates here.

There Is at Times Some Pleasure

I will not be talking like a pirate on International Talk Like a Pirate Day — yet I have a suggestion for Talk Like a Pirate Evening. Tonight, why not curl up in your treasure den with a cup of rum, your favorite gentleman/gentlewoman volunteer (topless, natch), and a copy of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer?

I can’t resist the marketing opportunity but I do disagree with the association often made between pirates and privateers. Pirates were bound solely by the covenants they made with each other. American privateers like Smedley were regulated not only by the ship’s articles between the men but also by the rules of Congress. Privateers had to post bond to obtain their commission, and violating the rules of conduct — torture, stripping prisoners of their personal belongings, ransacking the cargo — meant loss of the bond and vulnerability to lawsuits from the aggrieved. While not directly analogous, Revolutionary privateers had more in common with the Minutemen or a posse comitatus than with Blackbeard.

The above painting is A Portrait of Things to Come by Marc Davis, a Disney imagineer. It hangs inside the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland and depicts Scarlett, the redhead on the auction block whom guests meet later in the ride, subsequent to her going on the account. It’s a pirate’s life for her.


The website vanished for about a week there. My host’s tech support says it was hacked, although that makes it sound more intentional than I think it was. My diagnosis is some malware burrowed deep into my WordPress, lying dormant until it was activated by an internal timer. Regardless, support was able to restore the site from back-ups and all software has been scoured and upgraded.

If you missed any of my signings for Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, I’ll be at the Stratford Historical Society in November. I may have a few more appearances before then as well.

Signings July 9 and 10

I’ll be at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT from 1-3pm on Saturday, July 9 to speak and sign copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer.

Then at 1pm on Sunday, July 10, I will be at the Fairfield Museum and History Center for another talk and signing. This is part of their “Burning of Fairfield” events this weekend.

Be sure to bring enough rum for yourself and to share with the author — book promotion is thirsty work.

Samuel Smedley Tour 2011

I will be giving presentations and signing copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer on the following dates:

Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT – Saturday, July 9, 1-3pm.

Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield, CT – Sunday, July 10, 1pm.

Governor Jonathan Trumbull House and Wadsworth Stable, Lebanon CT – Saturday, July 16, 1pm.

More appearances to come!

Also: if you’re planning to purchase the book on, please do so on Thursday, June 16. The reason I want friends to buy on that date is because (I have been told) having a large number of sales on a specific date does more for the book’s Amazon ranking than if just a few folks order copies every day. If you forget or can’t do it — no worries, just buy it some other time.

And if you have read the book — please write a review on the Amazon page! Tell me what you liked. If you think I made a mistake, let me know. Again, the ranking is determined by activity on the Amazon page, so the more reviews, the better. Thanks!