March 15, 2012

My Tinge of Irish Heritage: The Googins Family



     What do the names Bonython, Foxwell, Rogers, Welch, and Googins have in common? What Irish heritage is found in these Maine location names: Pepperrellborough, Saco, Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, Kittery, Trenton, and Lamoine?


     While sitting in my brother-in-law’s hospital room at the end of February I shared information from my files about my ancestor Patrick Googins, which I was reviewing to write a St. Patrick’s Day post. We discussed the United States region he emigrated to as a young man in the first quarter of the 1700s: Saco and Biddeford, Maine, then Pepperrellborough, Massachusetts (between 1762 and 1805). I read from my files that the Saco River emptied into the seacoast at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

     Not long after that, Monte entered the room after taking a walk in the hospital corridor. He seemed excited, saying he had something to show me. On the wall in the corridor, among a number of paintings, was a picture of the Saco River flowing in New Hampshire, speeding to its destination, the Atlantic Ocean at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.


     Today is the day the Chicago River turns green.

     It’s St. Patrick’s Day.

     My Irish ancestry is so washed out as to be nonexistent. However slight it is, I still claim it, especially on March 17th each year.

     It began about ten generations ago in lower Maine. Patrick Googins, a woolen weaver by trade, emigrated from Ireland and entered the service of William Pepperrell, a native of Kittery.

     Pepperrell studied surveying and navigation before joining his father (a shipbuilder and fishing boat owner) in business. Young William Pepperrell expanded their enterprise to become one of the most prosperous mercantile houses in New England with ships carrying lumber, fish and other products to the West Indies and Europe. The Pepperrells sunk their profits into land, and soon they controlled immense tracts.* Thus, Patrick must have abandoned his wool weaving training to enter the mercantile business.

     Through the influence of William Pepperrell Patrick obtained (more…)

March 25, 2010

Amish Grace, Thomas Cornell, & Intertwined Love: Risks of Writing Historical Fiction



The Risks of Writing Historical Fiction

     “…the most disturbing aspect of the upcoming television move “Amish Grace” is the fictional liberties it takes in depicting the aftermath of the 2006 killings of five Amish girls in a Nickel Mines schoolhouse,” according to Herman Bontrager, an Akron man who acted as a spokesman for the Nickel Mines Amish community after the shootings. “Amish tell the truth and are accustomed to telling the truth. When you take an account like this, and make it appear like it happened, and fictionalize it, that’s troubling.”*

     Authors of the book on which the movie is based, “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy,” agree on this point.**

     Fiction based on an actual historical framework is always up for criticism. It’s an issue I’ve been aware of since I began delving in writing my novel, “Intertwined Love.” The historical framework includes 1790s people, both the well known— Henry Knox, William Duer, William Bingham, Alexander Baring, Thomas Jefferson among them—and the less well known: Franco van Berckle, Madame Rosalie de Leval, Louis des Isles, Mary Googins, and Joseph Swett.

     I encountered the criticism issue in two situations. First, my in-depth research disproved some oral traditions about East Lamoine, Maine. I shared the documentation with a community native. The late Gladys Vigent (a Samuel Des Isles descendent) was (to continue reading this post click on: )


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Two Photographers Named Cornell




November 16, 2009

RIGHTING A CIVIL WAR WRONG: A Gravestone for a Civil War Veteran



A Gravestone for a Civil War Veteran

      I want to make the national news headlines.

At risk of plagiarism, the headline could read: Civil War soldier gets grave marker. Union captain’s burial site went unmarked for more than 140 years.*

Let me elaborate.

My great-great grandfather, Charles F. Walker, served in Company A, 8th Regiment of Kansas Infantry, Leavenworth, Kansas. He enlisted August 28, 1861. He was discharged on July 11, 1864, at Ft. Leavenworth by reason of Surgeons Certificate of Disability.

Said Charles F. Walker was born in Penobscot in the State of Maine, is 25 years of age…by occupation when enrolled, a Umbrella Maker. On a surviving soldiers list it is noted that he was from Lamoine Beach, a Private with (more…)

February 24, 2009

Compagnie du Scioto Meeting at Cafe le Procope (Novel #3B)





To read the first part of this post click on: Compagnie du Scioto Meeting at Café le Procope: Novel #3A

   “This coffee is superb,” Jean-Jacques said, standing up to greet them, and, tilting his head almost inaudibly said, “and this table is in a spot where we can talk with some privacy of the matter before us.”
    As the men as they settled down, making certain the stranger was between them, Jean-Jacques asked   “How was the trip from Alencon?” Then he took his seat, all the while eyeing the stranger before him.
     “This is Richard,” Charles said softly to Jean-Jacques while not quite looking at him. “He heard about the American lands, how they offer the opportunity to have a French settlement in the new land, and is quite interested. I brought him with me so he can hear more about our plans.”
     The man, not quite looking up, shook his head, as a confirmation of Charles’ words. There was something quite appealing in his gesture, something familiar to Jean-Jacques, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
     “Are you sure he should be here?” Although Jean-Jacques asked Charles this question with his eyes, Charles understood (more…)

February 22, 2009

Compagnie du Scioto Meeting at Café le Procope: Novel #3A




     In 1787 High-level American politicians and military officers succeeded pressing the Scioto Land Grant, a sub-grant of the Northwest Territory Ohio Land Grant, through Congress. In 1788 these men, hoping to reap a fortune from their investment in this land, sent poet/politician Joel Barlow to France to sell a large chunk of it. Joel failed dismally until he met an Englishman, William Playfair, and an aristocrat, a monarchiens, a leader of the National Assembly of France Jean-Jacques d’Epremesmil.
     Hoping to make money in land speculation, William and Jean-Jacques helped Joel craft a land-sale deed that included the formation of a land-sales company, Compagnie du Scioto, on November 3, 1789. Persons joining this company were well-to-do capitalists, military men, noblemen, officials and visionaries. The major participants, many who bought acreage for their own land speculation, became known as The Societe des Vingt-Quatres. Members purchased at least one thousand acres, while Jean-Jacques, realizing the potential for a huge financial gain, purchased 11,000 acres.

January 1790, Paris, France
      Joel Barlow, William Playfair and Jean-Jacques d’Epremesnil occupied a table that offered privacy at the crowded Café le Procope (view photo: ) while waiting for Jean Baptiste de la Roche, Louis Des Isles and Charles de Laittre, to join them. The three men waiting, founders of The Societe des Vingt-Quatres, sipped (more…)

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