About Carolyn Cornell Holland

My name is Carolyn Cornell Holland. I live in a small Southwestern Pennsylvania community, Laurel Mountain Borough. The letters in it’s name are almost as large as its population count!

In my current life, I am a writer. Although I began writing at Kensington High School in Buffalo, New York, as my press card attests to ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3802227961/), my writing was only an ancillary and supporting aspect of my “real” work (medical lab technician, human service worker—adoption, domestic violence), craft business, and family day care proprietor.

Currently my writing focuses on a historical romance novel based on real-life characters unearthed through genealogical research. Its settings include Revolutionary France; Alexandria, Virginia; British Guiana, and the New England coast—particularly, Lamoine, Maine. Its time frame is 1785-1845. The historical background involves the Scioto (Ohio) Land Grant, a sub-grant of the Ohio Land Grant, and what became known as the Bingham land grant in Maine.

I never set out to write this story—it simply evolved, a complex world-wide plot involving major political figures of the story’s era.

In the spring of 2010 I created a this blog to be specifically related to the novel. It contains posts pertinent to the novel background, the novel characters, and the novel writing.

Additional posts relating to this work-in-progress are located at CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS (an online magazine found at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com ) in the categories HISTORIC NOVEL,  1790s BACKGROUND, 2008 NEW ENGLAND, and NEW ENGLAND.

My paid writing credits extend back to 1990. I’ve been a freelance photojournalist at the Greenville Record-Argus; the Meadville Tribune; the Greensburg Tribune-Review (the Fay-West, Ligonier-Latrobe and Focus Magazine sections); the Ligonier Echo and the Latrobe Bulletin.

I’m published in the Westmoreland County Historical Society magazine; Penned from the Heart, Vols. 9 & 10; Entourage; Farm Show; the Lincoln Highway Journal; Devo’zine; Loyalhanna Review, and Virtue Magazine.

Birch Canoes in Maine


September…mr Ballard Still prepareing for his Tour. he brot Two Birch Cannoes to our shore.*

The marvelous accommodations my husband Monte and I stayed at in Lamoine, Maine, provided much for our traveling comfort—cupboards filled with cooking needs (oil, salt, pepper, spices), cupboards of dishes and pans, drawers of silverware, linens…and one thing we had no desire for: canoes.

Colorful canoes can be seen at lakesides, in stores, atop cars, and in yards across the country. There are even some colorful canoes in my little community of Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, flotation devices that attest to our proximity to waterways such as lakes and rivers. IMG_3468e2Canoes weren’t always colorful as the ones we see lined up outside stores, such as one in Ellsworth, Maine. Nor were they made in structures like our modern day canoe factories. IMG_7620E2I can’t help but insert a paragraph from the first draft of my novel-under-construction:

  •  Rosalie noticed that the Googins children were as handsome and large as they were affable and hospitable, in spite of their father’s potential disdain. Through their conversation she learned that they grew vegetables, maize, barley, potatoes, and flax, dined on venison, fish, pork, beef, fowl, and milk products. Nearly all had canoes they used for transportation and fishing. They salted the fish and exchanged it for sugar, flour, molasses and oil. They were also engaged in lumbering, and made tables and other furniture which they bartered for whatever commodities they needed.

Perhaps the canoes Rosalie saw the Googins family use were birch bark canoes. Birchbark_canoe,_Abbe_Museum,_Bar_Harbor,_ME_IMG_2301    2E2

The Penobscot Indian birch bark canoe, sturdily constructed and light enough to be carried overland by a single person, furnished an easy, convenient mode of water travel for the Indians of Maine and the Maritime Provinces. Such a canoe was critical to both the Indians and the white man during early colonial fur-trading era.

In 1632 Nicolas Denys, an early New Brunswick settler, wrote a detailed description of the Indian canoe, which measured about 2 feet wide in the middle and narrowed to nothing at the ends, and was deep enough to come up to the armpits of Continue reading

How Important is Historical Accuracy in Historical Writing?

Not long ago my husband Monte was reading a romance novel that was part of our household clutter. In one scene the author noted the moon was full on a certain nigh.

Monte said “this information is wrong.”

He surfed the Internet. Data he found confirmed his suspicions: the moon was not full that specific night. From that point on the author lost her integrity with him.

pix of a moon

Currently I’m entrenched in writing a historical romance novel—this is its website.

It is taking me an extended amount of time. The novel began evolving about year 2000 and still remains a novel-under-construction.

The plot of the novel rests on a skeleton of historicity which includes the use of real names (Ben. Henry Knox, Gen. Henry Jackson), real events (1790s land grants), real places.

In between the reality lies information not available. This allows me to add flesh to the skeleton. More flesh comes from a rewording of historical documents. It is, so to say, speaking from the horse’s mouth.

I’ve decided that keeping to historical facts—names, places, events, conversations—is an important part of my novel. For example, I cannot have my character Rosalie meeting with Gen. Jackson in Philadelphia when he is documented to be in Boston.

Being a writer who sticks to historical facts from as many original documents as possible causes my writing to be more demanding, take more time, and be more interesting.

Numerous persons have advised me to not use real names and/or  Continue reading

Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death…The Summer that Wasn’t

What famous horror movie was written in 1816, the year without a summer? (Answer at end of post.)

The Poverty Year…The Year Without a Summer…Year of Distress

I’m currently writing about an 1816 wedding in Trenton (now East Lamoine), Maine. Thus, this post will concentrate on Maine.

Imagine, if you will, June and July and August having a foot of snow covering the ground, and temperatures, day after day, well below freezing.

That’s what it was like in Continue reading

Mapping Intertwined Love’s Geographical Settings

For January 7, 2013’s WordPress.com weekly challenge participants were invited to incorporate their Google Maps embed feature by plotting out some of the favorite places that you’ve been, or the places you want to go…or the geographical sites in Intertwined Love

So I did.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: A group of Revolutionary War military men gathered at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern and determined that land in the Northwest Territory, in Ohio, could be used as a way to pay military men for their war service. A group of unidentified men known as the Scioto Associates succeeded in acquiring a sub-grant under the 1987 Ohio Land Grant.

PARIS, FRANCE: The Scioto Associates sent a representative to Paris to meet a commitment to sell part of their newly acquired land in Europe. Joel Barlow was their representative in Paris. Luckily for Barlow the French Revolution created a desire for Frenchmen to leave France and the land sold like hotcakes.

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA: The French who purchased land in Ohio left Le Havre, France and sailed into Alexandria. Many left Alexandria to travel over multiple mountain ranges to (to continue reading click on Writing Challenge: Map It Out—Travel With Me Through My Novel-in-Progress )


Stock & Money Market Speculation Today and in the 1790s


AND IN THE 1790s

Question: What do Bernie Madoff and William Duer have in common?

Answer: Both were once respected investors forced into insolvency resulting in stock market (money) deterioration and the collapse of dozens of their investors.

Question: What does Timothy Geithner have in common with Alexander Hamilton?

Answer: Geithner is the current Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Hamilton was the first Treasury secretary.


Before continuing I must make a disclaimer: I’m not an economist nor do understand the fine points—or even the non-fine points—of the issue under discussion. I’m writing this post to increase my understanding of William Duer’s role in the first Wall Street crash. This issue is core to the writing of my historic romance novel, in which I must present the issues in a basic manor that can be understood by my future readers. If any of you can add clarification to these issues, feel free to comment in the comment box at the end of this post.


History doesn’t always repeat itself, but it is often said to rhyme.

Or does it echo?


Duer and Madoff reflect the root problems of two sudden and dramatic declines in the value of bank stocks: excessive greed.

While Madoff’s name has been sufficiently newsworthy that most Americans recognize his name, Duer is relatively unknown to many of today’s citizens.

I came in contact with him because of his land speculation in Ohio and Maine. The Ohio speculation was done under the guise of the Scioto Associates, a group of military and political personages hoping to make money off the post-Revolution land in Ohio. Duer managed to help a “secret” group purchase a huge tract of land along the Ohio River. Ultimately, Duer, along with Gen. Henry Knox, were responsible for the original French settlement at Gallipolis by a group of French émigrés.

When the Scioto land speculation went foul (another story) Duer and Knox managed to purchase two million acres of land in Downeast Maine. In the midst of all this Duer was involved in manufacturing and banking speculations. All the speculations went far beyond his means and resources.

The multiple speculations he was involved with brought his downfall and, had it not been for Alexander Hamilton’s intervention, it could have destroyed the new country that had yet to reach its toddler age.


William Duer was a prominent patriot who served as a member of the Continental Congress, a New York judge, and a signer to the Articles of Confederation. After the Revolution, Alexander Hamilton appointed Duer as assistant secretary of the treasury.

In December 1790 Hamilton proposed the establishment of the Bank of the United States, a federally chartered but essentially private corporation. The charter was passed by Congress in February 1791, and on February 25th was signed into law by President George Washington.

In July of 1791 the bank’s stock subscriptions (scrips) went on sale. They sold out within hours, so quickly that many would-be investors could only try to bid them away from those persons who were fortunate enough to have obtained them. The demand was so high for scrips that a frenzied borrowing and buying  occurred. Soon the scrips’ selling price doubled, then went even higher, and people borrowed money to purchase them.

In October 1791, the stock holders of the Bank of the United States held an organizational meeting, which Duer attended. He was elected to a committee to prepare the bank’s by-laws.


When Duer learned that federal law prohibited Treasury officials from speculating in federal securities he quit the position as assistant secretary  of the treasury—he did this because he sensed an opportunity to Continue reading

British Guiana (Guyana): A Red Thread Weaves Through My Life

QUESTION: What do the following things have in common?

College paper

Jim Jones

Madame Rosalie de Leval

Tikwis Begbie

C. J.

Pittsburgh woman

Rien at Mt. Washington, N. H.

USA Today, June 22, 2012, pp 4D

Silver Green Turtle Soup Ladle

ANSWER: They are all part of a continuous Chinese red thread that is woven through the tapestry of my life. You know—that red thread of Asian myth that has been reinterpreted to mean that relationships between people are meant to be, and if thwarted, the proverbial thread would not, could not, be broken. The persons would eventually come together.

Each event and/or person is connects the tiny country of British Guiana/Guyana to me by an invisible thread that I never could have foreseen when I began my journey of writing a historic romance novel.


The surprise journey began with the writing of a paper on race relations in Surinam, the immediate neighbor of British Guiana (Guyana).

It was a paper that my professor graded shorter than I felt it was worth, about a country next to Guyana, the country that was brought into a discussion nearly fifty years later.


The next time British Guiana passed by was the horror of Jim Jones, which I won’t go into that except to say that

America’s perception of Guyana is colored by cult leader Jones, who in 1978, incited more than nine hundred followers to commit suicide by drinking a cyanide-laced beverage. Today, this small country is utterly lacking in Kool-aid irony…Ask random people here what “drinking the Kool-Aid” means, and they mostly just shrug. Jones’s dark legacy barely resonates here.

However, it’s the first thing many Americans think of when they hear of the country formerly named British Guiana. Through the years I’ve read the articles, listened to the news stories, and watched the movies about Jim Jones. It wasn’t a pretty story!


Sometime around year 2000 Madame Rosalie de Leval brought British Guiana back into my life. She was a French émigré who, to escape the French Revolution, came to the United States. Almost immediately she became involved an unsuccessful land speculation deal in Maine (with General Henry Knox and William Duer), married a Netherlands ambassador, and ended up on a plantation in British Guiana. She was introduced into my life because she allegedly gave my ancestors, Louis and Mary Googins des Isles, the land they lived on.  Since then I’ve been working on a historic romance novel on this story.


Which leads me to the next person on my list, Tikwis Begbie, who was discovered by a friend who helped me with research for my novel. Tikwis focus was saving historical British Guiana records from destruction. In her files she had records of van Berckle adn Madame, which she sent to me. Another strange thread emanating from a distant land. I owe her a debt of gratitude for her contribution to my  work.


The Guyana Flag. Also known as “The Golden Arrowhead”, the national flag of Guyana was adopted in May 1966 when the country achieved independence from the United Kingdom

The thread next wove from lands afar to my nextdoor neighbor, where I attended  party.

One of the guests, C. J., offered to help prepare a photograph on my laptop. While doing so, he asked me about my novel, which I stated went around the world—Boston, Philadelphia, France, Ohio, Maine, British Guiana…

When I mentioned British Guiana he jumped at me.

“It’s not Gi-ana,” he snapped. “It’s Continue reading