Tag Archives: History

Birch Canoes in Maine

BIRCH BARK 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

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Stock & Money Market Speculation Today and in the 1790s

STOCK & MONEY MARKET SPECULATION TODAY

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.

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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.

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

Or does it echo?

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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.

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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.

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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

The French Travel to Ohio 1: Vestal’s Gap Road, Virginia

     A road along the Potomac River was, in its beginning, probably an animal trail along a natural ridge that ran parallel to the Potomac River. It developed into an Indian trail prior to the invasion of explorers and settlers. The road, opened after 1722 when the Iroquois signed a treaty with Virginia Governor, went from Alexandria to present day Leesburg, through Vestal’s (now William’s) Gap, and on to Winchester, a total of about ninety miles. It was probably named after John Vestal, a ferry driver in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and has been referred to, at various times, as the Eastern Ridge Road, Keys Gap Road, and, by George Washington, the Great Road, and the new Church road.

     Between the 1720s and the early 1820s Vestal’s Gap Road was a principal route from Northern Virginia through the Blue Ridge via Vestal’s Gap to the Ohio country beyond, serving as an east-west corridor for commerce, emigration, and troop movement  in Northern Virginia.

     It was initially developed and used by planters to transport tobacco to the port at Alexandria.

     George Washington’s military missions over the road between, 1753-1755, are well documented. Between 1753-1799, Washington traveled along Vestal Road on various military, business and personal journeys.***** In 1754 and 1755 George Washington pushed to the west from Alexandria, taking a road that led across the Blue Ridge Mountains at Vestal’s Gap from which he looked down on the sweeping curves of the Shenandoah and the valley beyond. Jogging down the steep road to the river, Washington set off through the fertile countryside to Winchester.* In 1770, Washington traveled to Ohio via Vestal’s Gap.****

     An unidentified party crossed the Shenandoah River via John Vestal’s ferry and stayed that night at Gersham Keyes, “a fine Plantation…**

     General Braddock’s brigade under Sir Peter Halket marched from Alexandria towards Fort Duquesne  on the Vestal Gap Road.****

     And Vestal Gap Road was the first leg of the French émigrés journey from Alexandria, Virginia, to Continue reading

Correcting Historical Data

CORRECTING HISTORICAL DATA

     A slim steel object that resembles a rusty bayonet is the center of a debate in Charlston, West Virginia.

     Part of an exhibit meant to portray the history of coal mining in that state, it represents a “Stickin’ Tommy:” it holds a stubby candle in a loop at its midpoint…Long before the days of carbide lanterns and helmet lamps, miners jabbed these into the seams they were working to light their way as they dug coal… Miners would hang the shared wick of homemade candles on the hook as spares…*

     The problem is a hook that rises up above the candle loop should…be facing downward. However, the hook is placed in the display upside down.*
      This error was discovered by labor historian Wess Harris.*

       I am not a trained historian, although a history professor I spoke with while I was doing research for a historical journal article and my historic romance novel** dubbed me an “independent historian.”

     During my research I’ve discovered numerous errors in historical books, documents, and local histories. My “lowest” experience occurred at an event during Ligonier, Pennsylvania’s, 250th anniversary.

     The speaker was an expert in the George Washington papers. I attended his talk because I wanted to know if he was familiar with Continue reading

Enoch Arden and Louis des Isles: Story Plots

Enoch Arden

     As I explored the background on Louis Des Isles, I came across the description of his relationship with Mary Googins as being “Enoch Arden.” I finally went to the computer to look up Enoch Arden, and discovered a twenty-two page poem, which I read.* Then I proceeded to compare Enoch Arden’s story with Louis Des Isle’s life.

     Point by point, the stories virtually matched. I wondered if perhaps some people will conclude that I stole the plot in my novel from Lord Alfred Tennyson. But then, that was impossible. After all, Louis’ story occurred during and after the War of 1812. Enoch Arden was published in 1864.

Louis des Isles

     I wonder if Tennyson knew Louis’s story, and used it as a basis for Enoch Arden.

     It is said there are only seven story plots—in researching, I cannot place which plot these two stories fit (I am so not a literary studies person…). There are three possibilities.

  • Are they TRAGEDIES, where a character, through some flaw or lack of self-understanding, is increasingly drawn into a fatal course of action which leads inexorably to disaster?
  • Are they Continue reading

Launching of the Intertwined Love (a novel) Blog Site

     A Hancock County, Maine, woman recently heard an intriguingly story about the region’s history: a refugee from the French Revolution, Madame Rosalie de Leval, attempted to develop a French community in Hancock and Washington counties in 1791.

     Both the storyteller and the listener concurred that Madame’s story should be written. The woman researched Madame’s name on the Internet. In doing so, she found this blog site.

     She called me. I assured her that the story was already being written.

     Welcome to the launching of www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com, a blog site designed to inform you about the progress of and the background of my historic romance novel, Intertwined Love. To read its synopsis click on https://intertwinedlove.wordpress.com/intertwined-love-the-novel/.

     To celebrate, a prize will be sent to the person making the most comments between June 15-July 4, 2010.

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     I’ve worked on this project for many years. It’s finally in the “writing” stage.

     Intertwined Love evolved out of research of the East Lamoine, Maine, branch of my family genealogy.

     These ancestors—Mary Googins, daughter of Rogers and Elizabeth Welch Googins, and Louis des Isles, a refugee from the French Revolution, who married Mary in 1796, are main characters in Intertwined Love.

     des Isles descendents (Eugene des Isles, Sue, nee des Isles, and Gladys Vigent) and visits to East Lamoine introduced me to the East Lamoine’s oral history, from which I learned about Madame. Extensive research disclosed her negotiations with Gen. Henry Knox, Col. Continue reading

Dock Creek in Philadelphia, PA

 

A water treatment operator from (Green Lane) Montgomery County (PA) has been charged with dumping raw sewage into an area creek (Perkiomen Creek) for as long as five years…*

The EPA alleged in 1991 that the municipality (Penn Hills, PA) dumped raw sewage into creeks. Penn Hills pleaded guilty in 1994 to three criminal counts…*****

    I read the above “blurbs” as I was writing about Madame de Leval’s** first exploration of Philadelphia. It is a reminder that dumping sewage into creeks existed in the pre-Revolutionary years of the United States.

     As I wrote about Madame’s arrival in early Philadelphia, I realized I had to research the city situation in that time. That’s when I learned about Dock Creek.

     Once upon a time, a tidal creek flowed through the oldest part of the Philadelphia…its name was Coocaconoon *** It was originally surrounded by marshes…and culminated in a pond …that was deep and uninviting****

     This creek was Continue reading