September 24, 2014

Separation of Church & State: A Historic Boiling Pot




 The melting pot that America’s Christian founders guarded never boiled like this…Their historic wall between government and religion kept the peace among fractured Protestant sects, helping the United States build shared schools and a common culture early in the 1790s.*



Did religious freedom exist as Europeans settled on North American soil, in what was to become the United States of America?

In my background research for my novel Intertwined Love I’ve discovered that the melting pot on American soil has, from the time of the founding settlers, been boiling “just like this”

The Province Charter of 1691 provided that, in Massachusetts, there be “a liberty of Conscience allowed in the Worshipp of God to all Christians Except Papists.”

  • Note: Papist is a (usually disparaging) term or an anti-Catholic slur, referring to the Roman Catholic Church, its teachings, practices, or adherents.)

Barely a year later the basic principle of religious establishment was laid down by statute:

  •  “Able, learned, orthodox” ministers “of good conversation,” approved by a majority of the church-going voters in a “town or place” were to be supported by taxes levied upon all of the inhabitants…For towns which were delinquent in providing such a minister, the Court of General Sessions for the county could “take effectual care to procure and settle a minister qualified as aforesaid, and order the charge thereof and of such minister’s maintenance to be levied on the inhabitants of such town.”

Each Massachusetts “town or place” had an established church or congregation that represented the beliefs of a majority of community residents—generally Calvinist doctrine and (more…)

August 28, 2014

A Glossary of 1800s Fabrics



When Adam and Eve after they sinned in the Garden of Eden God had compassion on them, and offered them garments made of fig leaves. Ouch! The underside of the leaves were like rough sandpaper. Later they made garments from something more sturdy: animal skins.

Fast-forward to the early 1700s. One of my ancestors, Patrick Googins, tradition says, came from Ireland at an early age, about 1720 A woolen weaver by trade he entered the service of William Pepperrell, at Kittery, Maine.

Fast-forward again to the late 18th century and early 19th century. By this time the assortment of garment fabrics had proliferated.

The Diary of Martha Ballard, 1785-1812* mentions many of the fabrics used in Maine during this time period. A glossary at the end of a modern-day reproduction of Martha Ballard’s diary lists many—if not all—the different fabrics Mrs. Ballard mentioned in the 27 years of her written history. How many of these fabrics have names that are foreign to you? I was surprised to find 15 fabric names I never heard of, even through my many years of sewing.

The terms below, most frequently used by Mrs. Ballard, was compiled through a variety of printed sources.


June 26, 2014

The Old Stone House Slippery Rock, PA: Part 1



 140621 DSCF5076E

Recently my husband Monte and I found ourselves passing the Old Stone House at the intersection of Routes 8, 173, 528 in Pennsylvania. On previous trips to Slippery Rock the historic site was closed. This time the parking lot was almost full. Since I wanted to take some photos of historic sites in Butler County (for a contest) we stopped.

Monte waited in the car while I walked to the former inn’s entrance. I saw a group of persons gathered around a table in the window by the porch end—obviously, I arrived during a meeting.

A young man left the meeting to greet me. Yes, I could walk through and take pictures.

A man was cooking over an open fire in the fireplace.

140621 DSCF5080E“We have free soup and ham sandwiches,” he said. Of course, I figured it was mainly for the meeting attendees, and after talking to him a minute I continued on.

Upstairs I joined a tour group. I continued taking photos as he described a framed picture made from human hair, probably gathered at funerals or from other places.

140621 DSCF5087EHe pointed out a framed picture of a dog without a leg, and said that owning pictures was for the wealthy, and sometimes persons purchased pictures, no matter what the subject, just to mimic the rich. He also said there was a brief time of prejudice against Germans, during which German guests had to sleep outside. There was a mid-1800s map in the third room.

On the outside upstairs patio I turned my camera on the scene below. The docent—a Slippery Rock University history student—said the Old Stone House activity for this day was building an old fashioned outdoor oven.

140621 DSCF5105EReturning to the grounds I walked over to the construction project.

“Would you like to set a brick?” I was asked.

I said I would, but would return as I turned to go get Monte.

We each (more…)

May 29, 2014

Between a rock and a hard place for anchovies and Maine settlers





(From Pacific to Atlantic oceans)


The northern anchovies had a choice: be eaten by a predator in their coastal water site or seek shelter in a harbor. They instinctively knew the danger in their waters. They couldn’t predict the danger in the harbor. After all, a harbor is reputed to be a safe haven.

They didn’t know whatever choice they made would be fatal—being eaten by a predator or deprived of oxygen in the harbor. They couldn’t know they would become a pungent-smelling silvery blanket on the harbor’s water surface, which would create a feeding frenzy for harbor seals, pelicans, and seagulls.*

The between-a-rock-and-a-hard place-story took place in Marina Del Rey, California.


This story takes me back to my time of my ancestral discovery in Maine—to Old Orchard Beach and Thomas Rogers, who wed Esther Foxwell in 1657, to be specific.

Googin's Rocks at Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Googin’s Rocks at Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Thomas was an inhabitant of Old Orchard as early as 1638. He was probably a gardener bred. His house and plantation in Goosefair were near the sea and in the middle line of a   patent. The fruit trees and grape vines he planted, some of which were standing in 1770, led early coastal explorers refer to his cultivated land as Rogers Gardens. The remains of his orchards gave the town its name: Old Orchard.

Then the Indians attacked his house. After a severe struggle, in which some of them were slain, they withdrew. Mr. Rogers and his family immediately moved to Kittery. Having left some goods in his house at Goosefair, his sons and others went to remove them.

Googin's Rocks...

Googin’s Rocks…

Local oral history relates the following story:

 While gathering their belongings Native Americans attacked the Rogers family, which escaped to the out-jutting  rocks on the beach, where they could hide. As the tide rose, they were confronted with a choice: (more…)

March 25, 2014

Hill of Crosses in Lithuania



Hug for my mother’s Lithuanian cousins,

HILL OF CROSSES  (Kryžiu Kalnas)


Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

It’s an ever-changing never-defeated religious folk art gallery, a historical and architectural monument in an unlikely place that attracts people savoring its peace, spirituality, authenticity, and sacred nature.

The Hill of Crosses (Kryžiu Kalnas) is a stunning complex that consists of thousands of crosses of various materials and sizes brought and left there by the people, mostly Lithuanians.

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

An oblong mound, once the location of a castle of Semigallian tribe (until it was burned down by the Crusaders), sits next to a former ancient village dating to the 13th-14th. The mound, somewhat similar to a saddle, stands on a plain surrounded by the valleys of Kulpė Stream and its nameless tributaries. It measures only 8-10 meters high and 40-50 meters wide.

The Jurgaičiai-Domantai mound, located in the countryside 9 miles outside the small northern Lithuanian city of Siauliai, is covered with crosses.

There are conflicting stories about the origin of the Hill of Crosses:

  • Many crosses appeared after the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus appeared on the mound in the 7th decade of the 19th century. It was Mary who supposedly encouraged people to put crosses at this place.
  • Crosses first began to appear at this spot in the thirteenth century, shortly after the city of Siauliai was founded in 1236. The city was controlled by Teutonic Knights during the 14th century. The tradition of placing crosses seems to date from this period and may have risen as a symbol of Lithuanian defiance toward foreign invaders.
  • The first crosses were erected on the hill by the next-of-kin of the rebels who fell in the 1831 rebellion against Russia. Family members were not permitted by the Tsarist reign to pay proper tribute at the graves of their relatives. The Hill of Crosses became a place of vows.
  • There was a Lithuanian tradition of leaving the crosses on the road and most beautiful sites. The story is that each person who put his own cross on this mountain would become a (more…)

March 11, 2014

A Review of Acadian History Up To 1763



Hugs for Claudette and Ellen


NOTE: I reviewed Acadia history to determine what effect, if any, it had on the real characters in my novel Intertwined Love. One family (my ancestors) relocated to Downeast Maine before 1769. Often the sources were confusing or conflicting. If you note any errors in this article please let me know in the comment box at the end.

Europeans found piles of shells on the North American coast, evidence of Native American life

Europeans found piles of shells on the North American coast, evidence of Native American life

Long before the first European settlement in North America the northeast coast was inhabited by Native Americans:

  •  day Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé peninsula of Québec, and eastern New Brunswick
  • the Maliseet inhabited the watershed of the St. John River
  • the Passamaquoddy  inhabited the area around the St. Croix River

This land was well known in European seaports: France, Spain, the Basque country, Portugal, and West Country England.


In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano,  a Florentine explorer serving the King Francis I of France, designated the entire Atlantic coast north of Virginia as Arcadia.

The name Arcadia may have been inspired by classical Greek poetry or it may have come from a Micmac word, rendered in French as “cadie,” meaning a favorable piece of land.

Mt. Desert Island across Frenchman Bay from Lamoine Beach, Maine

Mt. Desert Island across Frenchman Bay from Lamoine Beach, Maine

In 1534 King Francis I of France sent Jacques Cartier—with two ships and sixty-one men—to seek a northwest passage linking the Atlantic, above the continent of America, with the Pacific. Cartier.

After discovering the inlet of the St Lawrence river, raising a cross with the royal arms on the Gaspé peninsula, and naming the region New France, Cartier returned to France and claimed New France for his king.  An attempt to found a colony came to nothing.

To finance colonization, the 1588 French King granted North American fur trade monopolies. Pierre du Gua de Mons (a.k.a. Sieur de Monts) received a trade monopoly between the 40th and 60th parallels  (Maryland to Alaska), with the understanding that he establish a colony there.

Samuel de Champlain sailed from France, on April 7, 1604, with more than 100 colonists in a fur-trading expedition led by Francois Grave Du Pont, who received a fur trade monopoly in New France from” King Henry IV.  In New France, Champlain selected an island in the St. Croix River, which he named Ile Sainte-Croix (holy cross). There he established the first successful European settlement in the New World. He too claimed this settlement—plus Maine and south to the Hudson River—region for the King of France. Champlain became memorialized as the “Father of New France” and “Father of Acadia.

These French settlers, among the first Old World settlers to identify themselves as North Americans, called themselves “Acadiens” or “Cadiens.”

After nearly half of the colonists died (and others suffered dangerous illnesses) during the first winter, the colony moved to Port-Royal on the Bay of Fundy (in present-day Nova Scotia). There the settlers cleared and cultivated land.

Pierre du Gua’s monopoly, not having sufficient income to justify continuing to supply the colony, was revoked in 1607. The colony was abandoned—the last Acadians left Port Royal in August 1607. Pierre Du Gua (1558-1628), financially ruined, sold his proprietary rights to the Jesuits.

That same year English settlers established Popham Colony at the mouth of (more…)

November 19, 2013

Gettysburg Address: 150th Birthday



and other


Today, the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, is also the 70th anniversary of a period of time that school children in Illinois pooled their pennies to purchase the Everett copy of that speech.

This copy is the only one of five existing copies that includes the phrase “under God.”*

The school children sacrificed their movie money and candy money for the cause, to raise the majority of the $60,000 needed to purchase one of the five known copies of the 272 word speech written in Lincoln’s hand.

“It meant something to us, being part of something like that,” said Gene Rubley, one of the students involved. “We were acquiring a piece of history.”*


I can attest to the fact that dealing with original documents has the effect of “acquiring a piece of history.” I’ve had the opportunity to handling such documents at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) library in Worcester, Massachusetts; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the Lemoyne House in Washington, Pennsylvania. For the AAS and the Pennsylvania Historical Society you had to demonstrate a legitimate research project and participate in an orientation before being allowed to enter the hallowed halls to handle documents in the 1990-1824 time era of my under-construction historical romance novel.

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

I’ve handled documents on handwritten parchment, on paper so thin as to make them unreadable because the black ink produces a double exposure effect. Some of the documents have beautifully handcrafted script, while others may be totally undecipherable.

Old original deeds in the Ellsworth Maine courthouse have similar characteristics.

Perhaps the most impressive of documents I’ve examined was found in (more…)

July 4, 2013

Zider’s Store in Laughlintown, PA? Part 1


Part 1

During my decade of living in Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, I’ve often heard two questions about the red-trimmed blue building on the corner of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor (Rt. 30) and Nature Run Road.


What is to become of what was once the community center of Laughlintown—why can’t someone purchase it and bring it to life?

feuerwerk-0053_gif_pagespeed_ce_r7Dyf2bXXuMany local residents celebrating July 4th will have another reason to set off fireworks.

Zider Store has found a purchaser.

The Progress Fund of Greensburg (PA) purchased the structure on June 25. It expects to rehabilitate the building and lease it to a small business, which will enhance the existing businesses—including the Pie Shoppe, Ligonier Country Inn, the Compass Inn, and the antique shops.


During my ten years living in Laughlintown’s Postal Service area I’ve heard the statement: The building is deteriorating so badly that it will be in an unrecoverable ruinous state before too long.

A sad state for a structure that was once the social center of town: a general store and the post office.

It’s been vacant most of the time since 1978, when the property was taken over by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. For a short time Frances L. Scaife operated an (more…)

November 8, 2012

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.


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

(to continue reading click on )

August 21, 2012

Peach Cobbler, Brandy, & Political Preserves



Prunus persica: scientific name for the peach, a sweet, juicy summer treat. 1

Each year, throughout Western Pennsylvania, the peach is celebrated—an appropriate activity in August, which is National Peach Month.

A peach festival will be held 3-7 pm Saturday August 13, 2011, at Hilltop United Methodist Church in Madison (PA) 

A peach festival is planned for 4-7 p. m. (August 18, 2012) at Lebanon United Methodist Church, on Old Forbes Road in Ligonier Township. Supper will be available along with various peach desserts and other baked goods.

Even politicians recognize the value of peaches, as demonstrated by Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator and GOP presidential nominee wannabe who went “peachy’’ in Iowa in an attempt to appeal not just to Iowa Republicans’ hearts, but to their stomachs, too…Republican presidential candidates offer something special to draw supporters to the Ames straw poll in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. This election cycle’s straw poll will be held Saturday (August 13, 2011).

So what special something is Santorum offering in Iowa?…He told a small Iowa gathering that he and his wife, Karen, have some fruit trees back home. He said the family harvested about 600 early peaches, which he and the kids peeled and made into peach jam at their house, along with about 40 jars of peach preserves that the Santorums are bringing to the straw poll.

Everyone is expected to get a sample of what Santorum referred to as “Pennsylvania Presidential Peach Preserves.”2


No wonder the peach is king. It is low in calories, have virtually no fat, and are high in vitamins C and A, dietary fiber, potassium and niacin.

Sweet, juicy summer treat originally thought to have originated in Persia, but now believed to be native to China, most likely brought to the Mediterranean by Chinese traders and to the Americas by Spanish explorers.

Peaches are grown in more than 60 countries; the U.s.—particluarly Georgia and South Carolina—is a major producer…1


Santorum wasn’t the first American politician who recognized the value of peaches. George Washington, best known as a general and president, could teach Santorum about (more…)

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