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…)

December 29, 2011

Mount Desert Island’s Historical Land Grants




     The year: 1603. November 8, the date.

     The event: the first European land grant patent in Maine.

     The characters: King Henry IV of France and Pierre du Guast, Sieur e Monts


     The land grant given to du Guast by King Henry IV included trading and seigniorial rights over a vast territory, extending from Newfoundland along the Atlantic coast far to the southward: the territory of La Cadie.

     Three years later King James I of England granted the Virginia Company a patent to de Monts which included much of the same territory.

     The two rival claims inevitably ended up in a century and a half of intermittent warfare.*


      A French attempt at colonization, beginning in March 1613, took place at Fernald’s Point (near the mouth of Somes Sound). That July an English captain, Argall, attacked the settlers, burned their buildings to the ground, stole their charter, set most of the survivors adrift at sea, and carried the leaders back to Virginia for ransom. The colony of Saint Sauveur was short lived.

     The Sagadahoc territory (land between the Kennebec and St. Croix rivers) was next portioned off by allotment to members of the King’s Council for New England.

      On November 19, 1622, Sir Robert Mansell purchased, outright, the (more…)

January 9, 2010

Blogging: Does it Have Value? Part 1



This is the first segment of a three-part post on blogging.

To receive E-mail notification of Carolyn’s Compositions posts, type your E-mail address in the Subscription box in the upper right hand column of this site. Your E-mail will not be publicized.

     On the evening of December 7, three days before the death of Latrobe (PA)’s last Holocaust survivor, Robert (Reibieson) Mendler, Carolyn’s Composition’s writing site received a comment on his posted story (THE HOLOCAUST STORY OF A TEENAGE VICTIM (Part 1)). Janet, a survivor of Nowy-Targ, Poland—Bob’s childhood community— had discovered Bob’s story after she typed Nowy-Targ into her computer search engine. She wanted to meet the only other Nowy-Targ (Poland) child survivor she’d discovered. And she discovered his survival by reading my blog. (to read post click on AN UNEXPECTED VISIT WITH BOB MENDLER ON DECEMBER 8, 2009 )

     On December 8, my husband Monte and I met with Bob, who was thrilled. Yes, he remembered he was ten years old when Janet was born. Both his and her families knew each other well. He would (and did) E-mail Janet. He told her he would call her.

     As fate would have it, the phone call was never to be. Bob died the evening of December 10. However, I’ve since talked to Janet. Although she feels the loss of a man she never knew, there is potential for our continued contact.

     This is only one of the surprising results of my blogging—connection and new friendship.

     I’m often asked if blogging is valuable. My response is (more…)

November 30, 2009




CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is awarding a monthly prize to the reader who makes the most comments at To enter, comment on any post. The more comments you post, the greater chance you have of winning. For further details click on or visit the page MONTHLY PRIZE FOR COMMENTS at the top of the column to the right.


Each year our family contributes to the annual Christmas letter (dreaded by some persons). Tonight, to kick off this year’s Christmas season, I am posting excerpts from my section of our family’s 2006 annual Christmas letter, with a few necessary updates.   

     Year 2006 included a “maternity watch,” for grandchild Marcus, son of Nolan and Tammy, born July 8. We arrived in Cleveland right after his birth. Marcus is a happy baby, has a big smile and lots of conversation. Vince enjoys being “big brother,” accenting his job with two-year old exuberance. He attends softball games his parents play in, and his favorite toy is any kind of ball.

     The year’s events, however, began Christmas night 2005. It involved a 1971 promise my late friend Charlotte and I made to each other.

     We had adopted our girls, Sandy and Kathleen, at the same time from the same agency. They grew up as sisters. Us mothers agreed that (more…)

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…)

November 4, 2009

Climb Mt. Everest? Not Me!



     High at the top of my list of the things I won’t accomplish in this lifetime is joining the minority part of humanity, an estimated 2,000 persons, who successfully scaled Mount Everest. Climbers, including a 71-year-old Japanese man, a climber with an artificial leg, and a teenaged boy, have reached the summit since 1953.

     In 2007 more than “239 people had already climbed the 8,850 metre (29,035 feet) summit from the Nepali side and the rest from Tibet,” according to Sherpa. The previous record was 470 people who made their journey in the 2006 spring climbing season.
     Historians say that many people have conquered the summit more than once, meaning that the number of ascents is likely much higher than 2,000. At least 202 people have died trying to reach the top. (To read this article click on

     Living in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains I do climb Laurel Mountain on a regular basis (click on That is, I drive or ride up the twisty paved road to the top of the mountain, which is close to (more…)

March 31, 2009

Madame Rosalie de la Val: A Character Sketch



A Character Sketch

Since March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 was International (Working) Women’s Day, I developed a character sketch on Madame Rosalie Bacler, a French émigré who came to the United States during the French Revolution, and who was a “working” woman, a “noble” who planned a French refugee colony in the Massachusetts Territory of Maine. Whenever I “introduce” this historical female to people, they become fascinated. Madame is the main character in the historical romance novel that I am attempting to write.

     Madame Rosalie Bacler de la Val, a French émigré who came to the United States to escape the atrocities of the French revolution, was an independent land speculator/settler in what is known today as Hancock County, Maine. In the 1790s, this region it was the Maine Territory of the State of Massachusetts, part of the Penobscot Land Tract purchased from the State of Massachusetts by land speculators Henry Knox and William Duer.
     Only about ten percent of the post-American Revolution land speculators worked independently, outside a company. None, as far as I have encountered, were women—much less (more…)

November 21, 2008


Last week, I presented a program to fifth grade students in my granddaughter’s reading class, which had been reading The Sign of the Beaver. I had picked the book up when she was visiting, and discovered its setting was on the west side of the Penobscot River. My research has been mostly on the east side of the river, but I had viewed the river from the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in September, and, using the pictures and the results of much of my research, I believed I had something valuable to share with the class. To read my experience in the observatory, click on: THE PENOBSCOT NARROWS BRIDGE AND OBSERVATORY
     The Penobscot River, in Maine, is as spectacular today as it was when David Ingram, Samuel de Champlain and Alexander Baring first explored it centuries ago.
     David Ingram, the first European to sail up the Penobscot River, did so about 418 years ago, in the late 1500’s. In the early 1600s, either 1604 or 1605, Samuel de Champlain also sailed up the river that the “savages” called Pematig, or Pematiq, which later lead to the waters of the bay and river, westward, being named Pematigoëtt, and, finally, “Pentagoët.” 
     “The Penobscot is one of the finest rivers in America and its banks will become the center of (more…)

August 21, 2008




While traveling along the road on a work/vacation trip to New England, we met many people in libraries, courthouses, beaches, stores, and restaurants. Interactions with children provided many wonderful moments. Below are stories of some of these meetings.  Carolyn

the JOY…of something other than McDonald’s food…Monte and I ate a buffet lunch at an Indian restaurant in Brunswick. We chose to sit outside and then discussed which customers were tourists and which were locals. As I began a survey, a couple with two young sons entered. They said they were from Canada. I said I hoped the boys liked the food, and the mother responded that they did, they were used to it, that she cooks it at home quite often. In fact, the boys preferred it to (more…)

July 30, 2008


Many newspapers now take their feature articles from the news wire services. Even small local newspapers are turning to these news services rather than having freelancers—who are familiar with the nuances of their communities—write their feature stories.

For example, when I first contacted the newspaper I’d freelanced for about writing a travel article on the Moxie festival in Maine, they told me to submit the article for review. ( MOXIE: LOVE IT or HATE IT & SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIANS DRINK MOXIE: Do They Like It?) By the time I completed the article, they had started using the wire services for this genre.

The Buffalo (N. Y.) news is no different. While visiting Buffalo, I was pleased to see their headline MAINE ATTRACTIONS. To my disappointment, (more…)

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