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Legend of Fannie Hooe

They say she drowned in Lake Fannie Hooe. They say a bear left behind only a spilt basket of blueberries. They say a lot about a woman who returned to Virginia to live a full life after time spent at the remote wilderness Fort Wilkins in 1845.

Writers imagined between and beyond the facts of the real-life character of Fannie Hooe whose legend and name remains upon a lake at the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The following is based on July 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe.

INTRO TO FORT WILKINS by Charli Mills

1844: Fort Wilkins stands to protect the copper. A young nation encroaching further west, the Michigan wilderness known to the fur traders and voyageurs, marks a lucrative spot on territorial maps. From the decks of sea-faring, Great Lakes mariners can trace veins of copper rich ore to the shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula. At its tip where land juts into lake like a bent finger, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company stakes its claim. The garrison of soldiers with memories of the War of 1812 forge a fort. Peaceful as a Sunday picnic. No one badgers the copper miners.

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PART I (10-minute read)

Fanny Hooe, Oh Fanny Hooe by Chelsea Owens

She came from The Virginias and she settled in our town.
Her eyes sparked just like agates and her hair was copper brown.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

She settled at Fort Wilkins, to help her sister’s child.
She settled in the soldiers’ hearts whene’er they caught her smile.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

One night they sought young Fanny but found she had gone away.
The soldiers mourned her memory and call her still today.
Fanny Hooe, oh Fanny Hooe
Where oh where, did you go?

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Where Did You Say She Went? by floridaborne

“Breathe,” Fannie whispered, staring at a man six feet tall. Shiny leather boots … broad chest decorated by rows of buttons, she desired … needed …

With a charming smile and a nod, he said, “Howdy, ma’am.”

“Pray, tell me your name?”

His smile gleamed at her. “General Al Eyeon. And you?”

“Miss Fannie Howe,” she said coyly. “What brings you to Fort Wilkins?”

“Want to see my ship?”

At lake’s edge, he lifted her into his arms and jumped through a door she couldn’t see. Fannie loved his starship’s interior. He appreciated the taste of succulent meat.

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Truth or Fiction: Will the Real Fannie Hooe Please Stand Up by Norah Colvin

Contestant 1: I am Fannie Hooe. My pregnant sister was an excuse to escape my abusive husband. After the baby’s birth, I ‘disappeared’, started a new life in Canada, and never remarried.

Contestant 2: I am Fannie Hooe. While visiting my sister, I was abducted by miners and forced to be their slave. When I escaped, I was so disfigured, I wanted no one to see.

Contestant 3: I am Fannie Hooe. I was pregnant, unmarried, and begged my sister to hide me. She refused and banished me. I started a new life in Virginia as a widowed mother.

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Fanny-tastic Names by Ritu Bhathal

“I’m trying to find Fanny Hooe.”

“Fanny who?”

“Yes, Fanny Hooe.”

“Right… Fanny who?”

“Fanny Hooe!”

“Look, I need the surname for the announcement, mate. So, Fanny who?”

“Listen mate, it’s bad enough her grandma insisted on naming her Fanny. Stop taking the mick with it. Her name is Fanny Hooe. As in H – O – O – E.”

“Okay. Calling out for Fanny Hooe. That’s Fanny Hooe, as in H – O – O – E. Fanny Hooe please come to the service desk. Fanny Hooe!”

“You know they all call me Fran here, not Fanny… Now I’ll never live it down!”

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Straight From The Horses Mouth by Teresa Grabs

The Riley County Ladies Reading Circle met every Tuesday night at Lois’ house, mainly because she had the largest parlor in the county, and made mighty fine fresh sourdough bread on Tuesday mornings. The meetings were more talking than reading, and tonight’s tattling stirred up old stories of poor old Fannie Hooe, who disappeared near here.

“I heard she went out west and a buffalo killed her,” Evelyn said.

“Oh, fiddlesticks,” Lois said. “Everyone knows she drowned in the river.”

“I reckon she just stayed, opened a boarding house, and got married,” Frances said.

Everyone laughed, shaking their head.

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A Sister’s Sobriquet by JulesPaige

Legends
Disguise fact
Fannie Hooe, her
Sister’s helper – was never
Lost

“They say” Lucy Frances’ disappearance was due to bear, drowning or murder. So they named a lake after her… in Michigan. I wonder if she knew…

…a memoir letter…

“I was thirty seven when I went to visit my sister and help her birth her child at Fort Wilkens. I told Richardetta I couldn’t stay long. I had my own beau waiting for me back in Virginia. And his name was Mr. Chester Bailey White. Our brother Thornton thought I’d be a spinster. I wed Chester in 1949.”

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Hiding on the Inside by Paula Moyer

“Who’s my Fannie Hooe?” Jean asked herself after hearing the UP story. “Who’s my lost girl who’s never found?” Of course, it was herself.

Jean was never missing – not for that long, anyway. She hid in plain sight, though. Went through the motions, learned the rules of the party games. But inside, she was somewhere else: riding a magic carpet, soaring like a bat through hidden caves, gliding down a promenade staircase in high heels – never tripping.

Let the birthday girl’s mom spin her. Around and around. Jean would be dizzy, stumble, blindfolded, toward the donkey. Inside? Somewhere else.

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Honey, Don’t Pull a Fannie on Me by Neel Anil Panicker

“How do I know you’ll not do a Fannie Hooe on me?”

“A who?”

Richard looked at his beau from across the window.

Overcome with emotion, he leaned forward and held Janet’s hands.

Her fingers had turned moist, just as her eyes.

“I meant don’t do the disappearing act just like Fannie did eons ago.”

The train’s giant wheels were already trudging forward.

As Richard’s hands slipped out of her fingers his parting words were, “Listen, I know not who or what this Fannie thing’s all about. All I know is we’re going to get married in six months.”

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The Lesser Sister by Nillu Nasser

They say she had hair like spun hay and her pretty soprano voice soothed the most wretched heart. They say the touch of her lips fell like satin on the roughest cheek, and old crones wept when they looked upon her, in mourning for their lost youth.

But I know her legend to be a lie.

Always the lesser sister, the one who hooted at others’ misfortune, interested only in men’s purses, not their hearts. That lake was the making of Fanny Hooe. When she emerged from it, her sins had been washed away.

She finally found new life.

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Fanny Hooe by Anita Dawes

Last day of our holiday Dad said he’d like to drive to Lake Fanny Hooe.
After an hour’s drive, Tommy was still giggling about the name.

The lake was stunning, the bridge even more so.

Dad was here for the legend about the five kids who drowned after daring to jump from the bridge. Dad snapped away, hoping to catch a shot of them. Thing is he was missing the beauty.

The grape design on the bridge was so beautiful.

Tommy slipped his hand in mine. ‘I can hear them, Alice. They’re laughing as they jump from the bridge.’

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A Daughter’s Love by Anurag Bakhshi

All I remember is my name — Fannie Hooe.

And that I’m looking for my Daddy.

Mommy told me that he was a soldier at Fort Wilkins, and I would recognize him if I ever met him.

I’ve met so many soldiers till now, but none of them is my Daddy.

I see another soldier walking past. He seems to be of just the right age.

“Daddyyyyy…” I call out to him.

He turns, starts walking towards me.

Now I just need to wait for him to drown in my waters before I can be sure if he’s my Daddy.

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The Legend of Makwa-ikwe by Colleen Chesebro

They say Fannie Hooe drowned, but my daddy told me a different story. He said she didn’t drown, she transformed. After a bear mauled her and rolled her carcass down the hill to the beach to die, the Chippewa found her.

The Indians nursed her back to health. Daddy said she was deformed after the bear attack. The Indians didn’t care. To them, she was Bear Woman, *Makwa Ikwe.

Fannie fully integrated into their native society and became a powerful shaman. Her magic was very strong. I know, because she healed me, and I lived to tell this story.

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Fannie Hooe by Frank Hubeny

Fannie disappeared and they searched for her around the lake. Jake went missing as well, but he often went missing. He would pop up again later. No one cared.

Fannie was someone special. She smiled at you and made you glad you were alive.

They searched for days until her sister told her good neighbors to stop. She declared that Fannie was gone.

She never returned except as mythic remembrance. It took them over two months to wonder why Jake hadn’t turned up either. Fannie’s sister suspected why but she let her silence give them a chance to escape.

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Hiding by D. Avery

“They say.” The old woman rocked forward and hocked one off the front porch. “They say old women shouldn’t chew,” she cackled. “It’s unseemly. They say.”
She directed her sharp eyes at the young woman sitting on the step. “They say all number of things, made up things, hurtful things, say them as cowards, after you’ve turned your back on them. They can’t take a turned back; makes them wonder about themselves.”

“Great Aunt Fannie, they say you disappeared.”

Phwoot! She hocked another into the tall weeds. “Yes, they’ve always said that. Because they can’t explain me being here.”

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Lingering by Miriam Hurdle

“It’s a perfect day to walk in the wood, Dan.”

“Yes, good that you walk with me, Sally.”

“We can pick some blueberries.”

“Lovely ideas. You like making blueberries muffins, I like to eat.”

“Oh, look. A lady walking by herself.”

“She looks frantic, she must be lost.”

“Let’s find out.”

“Humm… She disappeared.”

“Oh, Dan, it was Fannie Hooe. Some people saw her. She’s still finding her way out of the wood.”

“I thought she returned to the family home in Virginia.”

“See that white house down the hill? She lived there. The light goes on and off.”

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Tiny Fannie by Ashley Oh

Fannie tumbled downstairs to the same blueberry pancakes she’d eaten for forever because of the overproducing blueberry bush outside her house.

To change her breakfast fate, Fannie headed out to a nearby a lake, where her nose led her: a bush. Finding a pink, round berry, she picked it in curiosity and ate it. Suddenly, the sweetest, magical taste filled her mouth. Grabbing some more, she walked in, when suddenly, her body tingled head to toe.

Her grandma call out, “Fannie Hooe!”, and she frantically waved her hands, so she would notice her, but she just passed her by.

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In The Shadow of Fannie Hooe by Geoff Le Pard

‘You know sweet FA, Logon.’

‘You know what FA means?’

‘FA? Eff All.’

‘Nope, it’s Fanny Adams, an eight year old murdered and dismembered in the 1860s.’

‘You’re a mine of irrelevancies. Why’s a dead girl come to mean Eff All?’

‘Navy slang. A euphemism. Navy introduced tinned meat. Sailors loathed it and said it must be the dead girl. Sweet Fanny Adams became sweet FA which then became another way of saying eff all.’

‘Like that Hungarian director… he said, ‘you think I know f**k nothing when I really know f**k all.’

‘You always lower the tone, Morgan.’

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Fannie Hooe by TNKerr

Grandma pointed at the faces in the photo one by one.

“That’s Bea, she was my mother. These here are her sisters; Beryl, Fannie, and Clint. Bea became an oilman’s wife and your great-grandma. Clint ran the ranch for as long as she could. Beryl taught at the schoolhouse. She was a teacher of mine when I was young, and Fannie – well Fannie disappeared up north. Some say she was a spy or an assassin. That her life caught up with her, others say she was a gambler; killed in a poker game at a saloon in Kewenaw.”

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The Fanny Bay Butt, What If, Talks: Sponsored by the Fanny Bay Hysterical Society by Bill Engleson

“They say…”

“I bet they do,” she interrupts.

“As I was saying…they say a woman by the name of Fanny Hooe boarded a freighter in San Francisco sometime in the early 1920’s, disembarked at Victoria…and then took the train up Island to Fanny Bay.”

“So, our little Piglet was named after her?”

“Hamlet. Not Piglet.”

“Forgive me. Was it?”

“Named after her? No. The source of the name, Fanny Bay is murky. Nevertheless, most authorities agree that our…little community…was named long before she arrived.”

‘Did she stay?”

“No. Two days after arriving, she disappeared.”

“Ever found?”

“Not a trace.”

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In Every Rumor by Sascha Darlington

Every rumor holds an inkling of truth. Or so they say.

I never intended to stay in Fort Wilkins. Once my sister had her baby, I’d return to Virginia and the life Jonas and I planned along the Potomac River.

“Miss Fanny, I wish you’d reconsider,” Frederick said.

“I’d loathe these Michigan winters,” I said, attempting to ease my way out.

“I would see to your every comfort.”

While pleasant on the surface, Frederick possessed a darkness I’d seen in men before, a ruthless persistence, which would not end well.

Only my sister knew the truth of my disappearance.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Who? By Ann Edall-Robson

I’m looking for information on Fannie Hooe.

Fannie who did what?

No, Fannie Hooe.

Like I said, Fannie who did what?

No, no! Her name was Fannie Hooe.

Round in circles we’re going on this one. Again, I ask, Fannie who did what? Unless you are willing to share more information than her first name, I can’t help you in your search for this person.

All I know is the name, Fannie Hooe.

Sorry, can’t help you.

Wait, you must, she was related to my grandpa’s wife and I need to find her.

What was her name?

Fannie Hooe!

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Lucy Frances by D. Avery

The summer of ’44? That’s when I visited my brother and my sister out in that God forsaken place. Their eyes shone like copper when they spoke of the Kewenaw, but I couldn’t wait to leave. The summer bugs were fiercer than the bears and wolves. Can you just imagine the winters up there?

I had enough of wilderness, and I had enough of my brother and sister who insisted on calling me, a grown woman of seventeen years, by my childhood appellation.

Let them go west and keep going. I returned East to civilization, happily became Mrs. White.

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Grandma Fannie by Charli Mills

Grandma Sarah rocked with restraint as we drank mint water over chipped ice, a luxury in 1870s Virginia, especially after the War. Grandpa Hooe was a Union officer, commissioned in the wilds of Michigan. Grandma told stories about how they met at Fort Wilkins the year she stayed with her sister. She told me how her nickname was the same as mine – Fannie.

“My bonnet blew off, and your grandfather swore he was bedazzled by the sun on my blond hair.”

All the men from the garrison courted her, but she left the wilds with Grandpa as Fannie Hooe.

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History’s Full Circle by H.R.R. Gorman

Fannie patted off the birthing fluids with clean linen and magically peered into the boy’s eyes. She shivered and examined his future. This boy, born in a fort, was destined soon to die in a fort.

She handed the child to his mother and ran out into the woods. She cried, “Why bring this boy into the world for such suffering?”

The entire company of the fort looked for her, but she returned at her own pace.

She moved to Virginia where her vision directed. In twenty years, Fannie Hooe comforted a dying young man in a Union fort.

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Fannie Hooe by oneletterup

“Let them think I’m out picking blueberries!”

Fannie’s mind raced as she ran through the woods; not noticing her long dress catching on low branches. Leaving a fabric trail.

“Fannie this Fannie that. Do they think I’m just a servant? I’m mighty tired of taking care of everyone.” She dreaded going back to Virginia. And she loved it here near Fort Wilkins. Beautiful and calm.

“The lake! There it is!” She smiled. Sweat dripped from her face.

“FANNY HOOE!”

Thornton must be looking for her, but she didn’t care.

It was so hot and the water was so close.

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The Hero’s Wife by Anne Goodwin

They hailed him a hero, she called him a fool. Someone had to save the kid, he said.

Maybe, but why you?

She couldn’t look at him at dinner. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t watch the evening news, took herself to bed. But even with her eyes screwed tight, she saw him, grinning, dripping lake water on the shore.

Later, he found her, let her cry in his arms. I’m sorry, he said, I didn’t think. Dived right in.

Why should he think? He never met her father, the hero dead before her teens.

Rescuing a girl from drowning. Fannie Hooe.

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Fannie’s New Family by Di @ pensitivity101

Fannie’s game of hide’n’seek had gone sour, and now she was alone in the dark having fallen asleep in her hiding place.

She heard breathing behind her, and turned to see a wolf looking at her quizzically.

She reached out her hand to stroke it, and the animal backed off slightly, but didn’t run away.

She started to shiver, and the wolf came closer, lying down beside her and wrapping her in its warmth. Fannie wasn’t afraid, and curled up against its belly, falling asleep again almost immediately.

When she awoke, she was somewhere else, but she didn’t mind.

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Fanny Who? by Anisha Jain

All of them call the old Japanese woman by the lake crazy. But she’s the only one who knows the truth.

They say Fannie Hooe was the daughter in law of an officer at Fort Wilkins who disappeared mysteriously, either eaten by a bear or abducted by a tribal.

But only she knows the truth. Fannie was a Jorogumo — a shape-shifting spider from Japanese folklore, who’d turn into a seductress and lure young men to the lake, playing her flute before drowning and dining on them.

No one believes the old Japanese woman, who used to be her teacher.

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Frannie’s Disappearance by Nancy Brady

Frannie Hooe disappeared one starry night. What happened to her was pure conjecture, and yet only Tillie knew the real story behind her disappearance. First off, it must be stated that Frannie was an adventurous young woman. Most people weren’t aware of her wild proclivities; frankly, they considered her a mouse—meek, mild, and well mannered. A real milquetoast, but that wasn’t the case at all. Her imagination took her everywhere. Paris to Marrakesh to Rio to London to Singapore and beyond, she traveled the world in her dreams. Until the night, while stargazing, she was abducted by aliens.

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The Wrong Choice by Robbie Cheadle

She was born with a caul. Her mother carefully removed it, dried it and gave it to her brother, a sailor, before he set sail for the Caribbean.

“Take this,” she said, “it will keep you safe from drowning.” The young man appreciated her thought and tucked the wrinkled brown piece of skin into his Bible.

How was Fannie’s mother to know that she was the one who needed the caul. She was the one who would set off on an adventure and be lost in the cold, blue water of the lake. The lake was named after her.

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“Ariel’s Island: Prologue” by Saifun Hassam

Clouds turned deep indigo in the fading light of the setting sun. The last slivers of sunlight shot up through pinholes in the towering cumulus clouds.

Fannie Hooe was aboard the passenger ship The Rosalinda, sailing from the Carolinas to Bermuda. As a novelist and poet she was entranced by the intensifying storm. But the ship’s officers had ordered everyone to remain in their cabins.

Gale force winds buffeted the ship. As darkness descended, a thunderous boom echoed through The Rosalinda, churning in surging, seething waves. In the next instant, Fannie and the ship sank deeper into the ocean.

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Selkie Mom by Wallie and Friend

Annie always wondered why great-grandmother never insisted on the truth. She wondered why the old woman allowed the legend to persist, when the twists to the story were often so lurid.

Then one day as she sat listening to her husband talk to their little daughter, she realized.

“And that’s how I met your mother,” he said. “I told the selkie king I couldn’t live without her. And he saw that it was true. That coat in the closet there, that’s her selkie coat.”

Annie listened to the little girl’s awe. And for the first time, she understood great-grandmother.

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The Talisman by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She held the rock to her lips. Copper and silver shone where her fingers caressed.

For a moment, Gichi-gami rolls beneath this secure Virginia town. A birchbark canoe glides through a long inner lake, a steady plash of paddles dip into dark water. Her strong shoulders stretch in delicious ache of the final reach and scrape to rocky shore.

Two friends part, a talisman given. What had she gifted her?

“Mama! Come tuck us in.”

“Fannie! Where are my silver cufflinks?”

Slipping the stone into her pocket–all her dresses had pockets—she turned away from the gaslit street.

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Fannie Who by kate @ aroused

The child was born with a lisp so we kindly indulged his impediment by copying his adaptions. R’s and w’s were particularly difficult to pronounce so Muriel became Mooel, Frances became Fannie, and Howe became Hooe.

He’d quickly become attached to Fannie who was a plain but pleasant young lady visiting her sister in Kenenaw before she gave birth. So when Fannie went missing the child could be heard wailing Fannie Hooe, Fanny Hooe.

But Molly, the wise one, had watched the rapport build between Fannie and the local chief’s son. Unacceptable to either race she had silently vanished.

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Legend or Truth by Susan Sleggs

“Dad’s taking us to Fannie Hooe Lake in upper Michigan for a week this summer. He wants to visit Fort Wilkins. Says that he had a relative stationed there years ago.”

“That should be interesting. I wonder how the lake got a ladies name.”

“Legend is she drowned in it, but Dad’s family story is she ran off with a gambler. She was so wild her parents were thankful so they gave her dowry money to the town fathers who had to agree to never tell the truth. The money was used to build store-front board walks.”

“That’s funny.”

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Paparazzi by Reena Saxena

Fannie Hooe came and disappeared in a flash, leaving tales behind.

The paparazzi failed to notice that her sister’s child was not seen after that. Her sister was a single woman, and soon left town, but nobody enquired about the father.

In fact, it should have been about the mother of her child. Fannie Hooe was a celebrity, and her sister had agreed for surrogacy. They had planned to be as discreet as possible, but Fannie’s fame followed her.

Now, the media says that a look-alike had visited the old, dilapidated township to get photographed and create a flutter.

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Fannie Hooe: Michigan Auto Workers by Peregrine Arc

“We gonna get some overtime, you think?” Earl asked, pulling on his coat.

“Only if they can pay us for it. Otherwise–could be lean times!” a second worker proclaimed.

“We survived the recession, right?” Earl insisted. “It can’t be that bad. What do you think, Fannie? You’ve been here longer than any of us.”

“I’ve seen Michigan get through harder times yet,” Fannie said. “But right now, we’ve all got warm homes to get to. Let’s go!”

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Any Who by D. Avery

“Hoo-wee, Pal, Shorty’s give us a tough one.”

“How’s that?”

“Fannie Hooe.”

“Fannie who?”

“Fannie Hooe. How’m I ta write ‘bout this Fannie?”

“Yer writin’ ‘bout yer fanny?”

“Hooe! Fannie Hooe!”

“Jeez, Kid, yer practic’ly yodelin’. Is it a hootenanny yer writin’ ‘bout?”

“No! Fannie Hooe. An historical figure up there in Copper Country, so they say.”

“An’ I figger yer hysterical, Kid. Jist spin a story.”

“Any clues ‘bout Fannie Hooe?”

“Well, if’n they named a lake after her she musta made quite an impression.”

“I hear tell she brought smoked bacon ta Copper Country.”

“Ya don’t say.”

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July 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

White-washed buildings gleam beneath a blue sky streaked with high clouds. They’re the kind of clouds that don’t do much more than add brush strokes to a painting. No humidity. No heatwave. No black flies. Sunshine rests comfortably on my head as I carry a box of books and my computer to the western garrison.

I’m at Fort Wilkins to give a presentation on how to use flash fiction to explore history.

1844: Fort Wilkins stands to protect the copper. A young nation encroaching further west, the Michigan wilderness known to the fur traders and voyageurs, marks a lucrative spot on territorial maps. From the decks of sea-faring, Great Lakes mariners can trace veins of copper rich ore to the shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula. At its tip where land juts into lake like a bent finger, the Pittsburgh & Boston Mining Company stakes its claim. The garrison of soldiers with memories of the War of 1812 forge a fort. Peaceful as a Sunday picnic. No one badgers the copper miners.

Mowed summer grass surrounds the fort grounds as it faces a lake — not Lake Superior, but Lake Fannie Hooe. A small gurgling stream flows from the lake, past the fort and mingles with the greater one in a half-moon cove with pinchers of craggy rock at each point. The John Jacob Astor floundered in 1845 after missing the safety of the harbor.

Champagne doused her prow on the shores of Sault Sainte Marie – the first tall ship built on Lake Superior. The pride of the American Fur Company, she bore the name of its progenitor. Cutting across heaving waves, she carried cargo and passengers. Eight could squeeze around her dinner table. Fully loaded with winter supplies for Fort Wilkins, she sailed for the harbor. Crashed upon the rocks, every man in the garrison soaked by surf and slashing rain fought to release her. No one died, but with supplies lost to the Great Lake, together they faced a winter of rations.

After I set up in the lecture hall, I eagerly head to the harbor. An artist’s rendering superimposes a modern photo of the harbor with the wreck of the John Jacob Astor. It’s part of an interpretive display to explain the shipwreck. The cove seems pleasant, not one that could take down ships, but I’ve seen Superior on high energy days.

It’s neither too cool nor too hot. It’s a perfect spring day, a gift in mid-summer. The greater gift is the death of black flies. Those winged beasts fed upon my blood just a week before when I came to Copper Harbor to hike in the old growth cedar grove. This evening, I’m alone, savoring my time on the rocky beach.

I settle into a seat of warm pebbles to eat bison jerky made with cranberries and seeds. Almonds and dried apple rings finish the light meal. My energy rises before a presentation, and I eat little. Afterward, I’ll be ravenous! Likely the fish and chips will be closed by then, and I’ll make do with organic fig newtons.

For now, I relish the moment of perfection. Life rarely offers such a perfect mingling of nature, anticipation, tasty fare, sunny skies, warm pebbles and lapping water. I watch the Isle Royale Queen approach the harbor and promise myself that one day I will have a writer’s retreat on the island.

It’s a bucket list kind of place — so remote in Lake Superior, it takes six hours to reach.

Wolves sheltered on the dock in crates. Daddy’s expression never changed but I could feel his tension. He didn’t want wolves on his island. This was our third summer on Isle Royale since Daddy became National Park Superintendent. Mother said some zoo in Cleveland wanted to purge its wolves, but they were too used to people to set loose on the lower 48. So, they shipped them to Daddy by boat in crates. That summer, shadows followed me and my sister, but never materialized where we walked or played. If wolves knew of people, they knew to stay away.

Recently I collected the oral histories of two sisters who lived in Ripley but summered on Isle Royale where their father had served as the National Park’s second superintendent. It was happenstance that I met the women. In flood-torn Ripley, of all places. They described their childhood to me, living next door to Cynthia’s house and attending school at what is now an apartment complex next to the fire hall.

99-words is catching on in the Keweenaw. I love its artistry, the form’s ability to distill a story in surprising ways. I love how it births creative moments, solving problems with a constraint. I love how it can be a tool. To the entrepreneur, 99 words are 45 seconds. One 99-word story can express a vision. Eight can launch a compelling pitch. To the historian, 99 words can digest historical facts, fictionalize the gaps and imagine times past.

Fiction lets us question history, to dig deeper than the facts and records. Writing historical fiction is all about asking what if…and why…and how…and who would… We might know when, but we want to know so much more. In my own historical research, I find that these questions drive me to examine the records more closely.

I learn about the mystery of Lake Fannie Hooe. A friend from my veteran spouses group grew up not far from Copper Harbor, spending her summers exploring old mines and logging camps the way I did in my hometown. She told me that legend has it, Fannie was a little girl, perhaps the daughter of an officer, who went missing. As they circled the lake they called, “Fannie…! Fannie, hooe!

They say, they never found her body.

As a story-catcher, I have an affinity for “they say” stories. Usually, they are not accurate historically, but they contain a nugget of humanity. “They say” stories express our fears or need to be entertained. I find “they say” stories fun to research. When I lived in Idaho, I wrote a column for a magazine that explored local history beginning with they say. From there, I tried to match the story to historical records.

Questions help discovery. The night of my presentation, I had planned for attendees to write their own Fort Wilkins flash fiction. I forgot that writing can be intimidating to non-writers. I tried to convince a wide-eyed crowd that they could pencil their own historical fiction. Realizing their trepidation, I led the questioning and did the writing from their responses.

The one prompt they all wanted to explore was, “Who was Fannie Hooe and why did she go missing?” Two historians from the fort sat in on the presentation and knew a great deal about the real Fannie. She was from Virginia and came as a single woman to Fort Wilkins to help her pregnant sister. She was not a girl, but a young lady. They say she went missing, mauled by a bear or murdered by a spurned lover.

Truth is, she returned to Virginia, married and lived a long life.

Flash fiction remains my favorite tool to explore history. It allows me to write quickly from multiple perspectives and test different points of view for my characters. If I don’t like a POV or discover a different path for a character, I’ve only committed a batch of flash fiction to the discovery instead of having to overhaul chapters or revise an entire draft.

Flash fiction lets me push into the space between the gaps. It lets me crawl under the skin of those the record shows were there. It tolerates my line of questioning with 99-word answers.

July 19, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe. Although she is a legend in the Kewenaw, feel free to go where the prompt leads.

Respond by July 24, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

 

Grandma Fannie by Charli Mills

Grandma Sarah rocked with restraint as we drank mint water over chipped ice, a luxury in 1870s Virginia, especially after the War. Grandpa Hooe was a Union officer, commissioned in the wilds of Michigan. Grandma told stories about how they met at Fort Wilkins the year she stayed with her sister. She told me how her nickname was the same as mine – Fannie.

“My bonnet blew off, and your grandfather swore he was bedazzled by the sun on my blond hair.”

All the men from the garrison courted her, but she left the wilds with Grandpa as Fannie Hooe.