Like the artist Gran’ma Moses, who began painting during her elder years, Ann Small Niess started to write during her 80’s. Her first book, Elmwood House, If It Could Speak, What Stories Would it Tell, combined both the history of her childhood home (built in 1835 and acquired by the Small family in the late 1800’s) and her experiences with the ghosts still residing within. A few years later those apparitional memories challenged her to write her second book, Hidden Secrets of Jacob’s House.
Ann graduated from Stevens College in Columbia Missouri. She credits her diverse life of extensive travels and meeting many people while living in 13 homes in 5 different states as having a major affect on her book’s unique writing style and subject matter.
After a full and busy life, she and her husband happily retired to Naples,Florida, where they still serve in several civic organizations; and enjoy their children, grand children and great grand children.
Ann’s hobbies reflect her interests in history, education, aviation, and — sailing, in that order.
Always a history buff, while living in Staunton Virginia; she was a docent with the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Museum. Then while living in the Washington D.C. area, she became a docent with the Smithsonian Institute’s American History Museum. After moving to Gloucester County Virginia, she helped develop the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown, Virginia and then served on the Museum’s board of directors until leaving Virginia.
In the early 1960s, when their children were teenagers, Ann and her husband, a light plane pilot, joined Civil Air Patrol – Auxiliary of the US Air Force. Ann specifically centered her activities on the CAP Cadet Program, and also toward the educational aspect of Leadership for cadets and senior members, plus Emergency Services. She served as a Squadron Commander and received the “Virginia Squadron Commander of the Year” award. While living in Pittsburgh PA, she founded a new Cadet Squadron. Rising in rank she eventually earned the grade of Lt Colonel.
In the 1990s they owned a 34 foot Catalina sailboat, and enjoyed (Dick more than Ann) sailing the Chesapeake Bay until they sold it ten years later. They then transited to a trawler (less work) which they sailed until moving to Naples FL