Monday, May 2, 2016

Regimental Uniforms -- American Revolution Museum

I recently had the privilege of visiting the new American Revolution Museum, again, in Yorktown where I live. This day the Regimental Uniforms were being displayed by staff. Above, volunteer Joyce explains that the British regimental uniform is one most American will recognize -- the "Redcoat" jacket.

French Regimental uniform
Here in Yorktown we have a special fondness for the French!!! Thank God they showed up just in the nick of time for the historic battle that finally ended the war!

The French regimental coat is the only one that has a pocket. The French had interior pockets as pictured above. You may recall that women, during those times, had pockets separate from their skirts -- their pockets weren't sewn into their clothing.

Can you see the pocket in the photo on the right? Go straight up from where my name is on the picture, to about halfway up.

Can you imagine how long it would have taken to have sewn these coats by hand? And this American regimental jacket is very heavy. The wool is woven tightly enough to resist water, still. . .

Here's Joyce again showing us a Loyalist jacket, of green cloth. These were calvarymen. You might recognize the jacket type as one worn by one of the antagonists in the movie, "The Patriot," with Mel Gibson.

THANKS, Joyce, for helping me get these pictures!

Question: Do you have any plans to visit the new American Revolution Museum in Yorktown? Do you have any questions I could research for you there, for your visit?

Friday, April 29, 2016

"White" by Denise Weimer -- Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

White: The Restoration Trilogy by Denise Weimer

Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Blurb: As historic preservationist Jennifer and brooding bachelor Michael restore his ancestors' historic doctor's residence in a rural Georgia community, they uncover the 1920s-era prejudice and secrets that caused Michael's branch to fall off the family tree. Jennifer's determined to fulfill her first professional position with integrity even if her employer lacks a proper appreciation of history. Far more challenging – and sinister – than the social landscape of Hermon are the strange accidents hinting that someone doesn't want them on the Dunham property. Yet Michael's and Jennifer's own pasts pose the biggest obstacles to laying a fresh foundation of family and community.
The doctor's house for Denise Weimer's book "White"
This historic Christian fiction by Denise Weimer is the first in a trilogy that will eventually go back to colonial times in America. This first book, White, defies genres. While it is set in contemporary Georgia, there are flashbacks to the early 1900s to the life of a doctor and his apothecary shop. 
Apothecary shop for Denise Weimer's novel, "White"

The title simply and succinctly portrays the plots main issue -- multi-racial families. White has the "feel" of a historical fiction with strong romantic elements. Strong writing, vivid characterization, and a multi-layered plot will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.  

One of the things I loved about Ms. Weimer's story, White, is the subtlety she had in inferring certain "truths" in the story. One major one is the relationship between the heroine and her supervising female professor. Ms. Weimer never has to come out and "tell" the reader what is going on, what the dynamics are, and so she doesn't insult the readers intelligence by doing so. I really appreciated that. She has a similar deft hand with other situations, gently adding threads about the heroine's past that allow the reader to finally see the whole tapestry of why she behaves and thinks as she does.

Nicely done!

Thank you Denise Weimer for the advance PDF of the copy. I am under no compulsion to post a positive review and my opinions are my own.

Question: Have you read any books where there are flashbacks to the past? Did this help give a mainly contemporary story a "historical" feel?

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Three Sisters

Our earliest forefathers came to this land knowing nothing about how to survive here and bringing little with them. But they learned. Much of what they learned about food they learned from the natives. There were many new and strange plants here that the natives had been eating and cultivating for generations.

Corn was a staple for many tribes, as were beans and pumpkins. In fact, these three crops were grown together and called "The Three Sisters." They compliment each other on more than just the dinner table. 

Corn is a grass that grows on a sturdy frame and needs plenty of nitrogen to prosper. Beans are a legume, taking nitrogen from the air and depositing it into the soil. But beans need something to support them as they grow. Both corn and beans thrive best when their roots are kept modestly moist and partially shaded. Pumpkins have broad, prickly leaves that provide shade and also help repel certain pests, like raccoons, who do not like to walk over them. 

Learning how to work with nature to provide for their survival is what kept the early settlers alive. But it also change the world. Foods found native here, like The Three Sisters, were carried back across the ocean and cultivated there as well. And while many people think of potatoes belonging to the Irish, in fact, they were taken back to Ireland from our own Colonial shores.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Remembering Patriot's Day

By Elaine Marie Cooper

Since I grew up near Boston, Massachusetts, I can never think about the week of April 19th without pausing to reflect on its meaning for our country. It was the day in 1775 when the first battles took place at the onset of the American Revolution.

As children, we all loved Patriot's Day. Parades were held in the city and the suburbs commemorating the event. A rider dressed like Paul Revere would carry the news that "The Regulars are coming!" Of course, we weren't too concerned in the 20th century about British soldiers coming down Mass Ave. If they did, we'd have likely cheered them on instead of fleeing. :)

But it was both a celebration and a memorial to the brave men—simple farmers—who made a stand against the greatest army in the world of that time. The outcome shocked the world and birthed the great country of the United States of America.

When I was young, it didn't occur to me that the very road down which the bands played and the floats sailed upon, was the very route that the British Army actually trod. It was a journey that began an eight year war.

                                                        *     *     *     *     *

Beginning in Boston the night of April 18, 1775, over 1,000 British soldiers marched their way to Concord where supplies of Colonial gunpowder were hidden. On the way, they were confronted by the brave men of Lexington. The first shots were fired and the first fatalities occurred.

Buckman Tavern, Gathering Place of the Lexington Militia
The soldiers continued their march to Concord and were surprised by the increasing numbers of Colonial militia who were bent on stopping the King's Army. Two British soldiers were killed and then buried near Concord Bridge.
The aggressive Minute Men intimidated the British forces the entire way back to Boston. Fighting Indian-style, the American militia hid behind stone walls and trees and killed numerous enemy soldiers along the way. The King's Army became more enraged by the moment. By the time they reached Menotomy Village (now Arlington, MA), reinforcements for the Brits had arrived. The worst Battle of the day occurred at the home of farmer Jason Russell.
Jason Russell House, Arlington, MA

More deaths occurred at this site than any other battlefield that day, April 19, 1775.

                                                           *     *     *     *     *

When I was a child celebrating Patriot's Day every year, I never knew that the house on the corner just one block away from my home, held the story of the worst battle that occurred that first day of the Revolution.

I often thought about that house after I grew up and decided to discover the secrets that lay within its walls. The story that I uncovered was an amazing and heartbreaking tale of love, loyalty and demise. It was an incident hidden from the history books, just waiting to be revealed. I decided to be the storyteller of the Russell family and the community that took a stand for freedom from tyranny.

And thus was birthed Fields of the Fatherless, Winner of the the 2014 Selah Award for YA Fiction; Winner of the 2014 Next Generation Book Award, Religious Fiction; and Winner of the 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Award, Best YA Religious Fiction.

To celebrate Patriot's Day, I am giving away two gifts—a signed copy of Fields of the Fatherless and a box of eight cards of the Doolittle prints that depict the battles of April 19, 1775—to a reader who leaves a comment on this blog. I will do a drawing for those who leave their email address and announce the winner on Friday, April 22.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Georgia #RevWar Heroines Trilogy: Mammy Kate

1 - Mammy Kate

Stephen Heard
Around 1759, Virginian Stephen Heard moved his family to St. Paul’s Parish, Georgia, comprised mostly of Wilkes County. His French and Indian War service under General Washington granted him 150 acres 14 miles from the mouth of the Little River. In this area not yet secure against Creek and Cherokee Indians, Heard and his brother Barnard build a stockade enclosing a cluster of cabins, the early origin of the town of Washington.

Heard cast his lot with the colonists in the war against Britain, which cost him dearly. Tories turned his wife and young adopted daughter out into the snow, causing them to die of exposure. After taking part in the Battle of Kettle Creek, Heard was captured and sentenced to death.

In steps the patriot leader’s six-foot mammy, Kate, regarded by an 1820 letter writer to be the “biggest and tallest” black woman he had ever seen. Of pure African descent, Mammy Kate claimed descent from a great king. Kate and her husband, known as Daddy Jack, mounted two of Heard’s Arabians, Lightfoot and Silverheels, and rode fifty miles to Augusta. 

Mammy Kate
To ingratiate herself with the Tories, Kate offered to wash their clothes over a period of a couple months. Close to time for Heard’s scheduled hanging, she appealed to the British officer to extend this service to her master as well, so he would not die in dirty clothing. When she received permission, Kate entered Heard’s cell with a large, covered basket. She left carrying Heard, a handsome man of small stature, in that basket - on her head - right past the guard!

Lightfoot, Silverheels and Daddy Jack waited on the outskirts of town. Heard told Mammy Kate for her act of service he would set her free. She replied that he might do that, but she would never set him free. Thanks to Kate, Heard served a brief stint as governor of Georgia. He gave his loyal servants freedom, a tract of land and a four-room house, but Kate continued to serve the family until her death.

In 2013, the Georgia Sons of the American Revolution made Mammy Kate the first black woman below the Mason-Dixon to receive a bronze medallion for her patriotic service. Daddy Jack was awarded as well, the medals placed on their graves.