Tag Archives: Thoughts

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 )

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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.

COLLEGE PAPER

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.

JIM JONES

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!

MADAME ROSALIE DE LEVAL

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.

TIKWIS BEGBIE

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.

MY NEIGHBOR’S GUEST, C. J.

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

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

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

Eyes in shades of purple

 

     There are no photographs of Madame Rosalie de la Val, an émigré to America during the French Revolution and a major character in my historic romance novel. This fact leaves me free to create her physical characteristics in my image.

     Madame is a very strong, very unusual, woman. I visualize her being petite, with black flowing hair and violet eyes that change shades, or colors, according to her mood.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

     Within three months of her 1791 emigratioon to the United States she became an independent land speculator, participating in a playing field that included General Henry Knox, Colonel William Duer, General Henry Jackson, and William Bingham. They themselves were involved in the whirlwind of land speculation following the American Revolution, which included large tracts of land in Hancock and Washington counties, Maine.

     She skillfully, artfully, and very business-like, maneuvered through this field, in spite of the fact that Continue reading

From the Bastille to Cinderella

THE FALL OF THE BASTILLE, Paris: July 14, 1789

In writing my historic romance novel, circa 1790s, I struggled to determine a starting point. After doing much research, I realized that all the characters appearing in the beginning of the novel had witnessed the Fall of the Bastille in France on July 14, 1789. I decided to have them sharing their experiences several weeks later as they imbibed in chocolate coffee, a popular drink in Paris at that time.

     I researched eyewitness and news accounts of the event in preparation for writing their conversation. One comment intrigued me. It referred to the days of the warring as The Night and Orcus. What did this mean?

     I typed “Orcus” into the computer search engine and learned that Orcus is an alternative name for Continue reading