Martha Washington Slept Here: Ford’s Mansion in Morristown #history #NewJersey #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I’m continuing my series of locations where Martha traveled to be with George during the American Revolution. On a side note, some of you may remember that there used to be signs posted declaring “George Washington Slept Here” at various hotels and houses and such, which is why I decided to also share where Martha slept as well. At least during the war years. So this week we travel back to Morristown where she stayed at Ford’s Mansion on this trip.

In case you’ve missed the earlier posts, so far I’ve covered these camps:

The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.

The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.

Then Valley Forge in 1777-78.

Next at Middlebrook from 1778-79.

During November 1779, Martha began gathering items and preparing to leave to join George at his winter headquarters. Sometime around the end of November, he sent for her and she headed to Morristown, New Jersey. This time the widow Theodosia Ford invited George to stay at her house. Her husband, Jacob Ford, Jr., had died a few years earlier. Theodosia and her children occupied two rooms in the house while George, Martha, his aides, and their servants occupied the remainder. You can find out more about Ford’s Mansion here.

Note: The above images are all taken from the archives of the Library of Congress. They were taken by the Detroit Publishing Company in 1901.

In my notes, I estimate she left around December 1 and arrived around the 28th. Apparently it was one of the coldest winters ever, too, which could have only made traveling even more stressful and exhausting. All the layers of clothing to help keep warm would have weighed a good bit. Shivering would also wear on a person. I imagine they used hot bricks or stones to help keep the coach warm inside, perhaps placing them under the ladies’ skirts?

While Martha was in Morristown, several remarkable events happened. Nathaniel Greene’s wife, Kitty, gave birth to a son in January. In April, foreign emissaries from France and Spain visited, calling for a review of the troops and a ball. Apparently, Don Juan de Mirailles of Cuba fell ill that month and Martha helped to nurse him but by the end of the month the man had died. George had to break the news to the governor of Cuba. In May, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived with the news that his son was named George Washington Lafayette and that a fleet of six thousand men were on their way. This was a good thing as two of George’s regiments were near to mutinying due to the lack of supplies. Also in May, George was informed that Lord General Cornwallis had seized Charleston, South Carolina.

Martha finally headed for Mount Vernon in June 1780. After she arrived home, she wrote to her brother-in-law Burwell Bassett on July 18, 1780. In her words:

Dear Sir

            When yours and my dear Fannys letters came to my hands – I was in expectation of leving Camp every week – I left the General about the Middle of June – the last I heard from him he was going up the North river – I got home on Fryday and find myself so much fatigue with my ride that I shall not be able to come down to see you this summer and must request you to bring Fanny up – as soon as you can – I suffered so much last winter by going late that I have determined to go early in the fall before the Frost set in – if Fanny does not come soon she will have but a short time to stay with me – we were sorry that we did not see you at the Camp – there was not much pleasure thar the distress of the army and other difficultys th’o I did not know the cause, the pore General was so unhappy that it distressed me exceedingly

            I shall hope to see you soon after the assembly rises, with Fanny – please to give my love to her and the Boys who I should be very glad to see with you… I am dr Sir your affectionate friend & hmble sert

                                                                        Martha Washington

The Fanny she refers to is the daughter of Burwell and Anna Marie “Nancy” Bassett. Nancy was Martha’s sister who had died on December 17, 1777. Burwell was a lawyer and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Martha is asking him to visit after the current session ends.

I do not know specifically what was distressing George, but if his troops were threatening to mutiny because they didn’t have the supplies they needed, that would be a huge concern. I do know he wrote to Congress frequently requesting and demanding food, uniforms, ammunition and guns, etc. The other possibility is that he’d become aware of Benedict Arnold’s dissatisfaction with how he was being treated, leading up to his defection to the British in November of 1780. That would have worried him as well in the first half of the year. In fact, he tried to placate him by acknowledging Arnold’s contribution to the American cause, but it ended up not being enough for Arnold’s ego.

This stay in Morristown is the last time Martha goes to that lovely city. Next week, I’ll share some pictures I took when I got to visit New Windsor, New York where the headquarters and the cantonment were located in 1780.

Until then, I hope you find a good story to read by the pool or lake! Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Cover image of Becoming Lady Washington depicting the marriage of George and Martha Washington.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Martha Washington Slept Here: Middlebrook #history #NewJersey #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

In honor of America’s Independence Day, Samantha’s Secret (A More Perfect Union historical romance series Book 3) is on sale for only $.99 through July 8. This series is set in Charleston, SC, mainly during the occupation by the British in 1782.

Healer Samantha McAlester faces the occupation of Charles Town by the British and the town’s new sexy doctor, Dr. Trenton Cunningham, who wants a hospital staffed with educated doctors. When a friend develops an infection, Trent is stumped. The only treatment will expose Samantha’s secret, risking all she’s come to hold dear… including Trent.

Amazon

I hope you give that series a try. It was one of my first set of linked stories, originally a planned trilogy of Emily’s Vow, Amy’s Choice, and Samantha’s Secret. Later I added Evelyn’s Promise at my publisher’s request. Elizabeth’s Hope was the last installment, a prequel novella. I hope you enjoy their stories!

Every fall, Martha waited for George to summon her to the winter encampment of the Continental Army. Again, I was surprised to learn that she ultimately went to him every winter. But once I understood her better I was no longer surprised. It was who she was.

So far I’ve covered three camps:

The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.

The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.

The third at Valley Forge in 1777-78.

Today let’s explore Middlebrook, NJ, during the winter of 1778-79. This camp was located at what is now the north edge of Bound Brook on Mountain Avenue in Somerset County. According to Revolutionary NJ the army “encamped from the vicinities of Bound Brook and Somerville northward to Pluckemin.” You can learn more about the importance of the location at that previous site as well.

On November 2, 1778, Martha wrote to her brother Bartholomew Dandridge about her concerns. In her words:

“I received your kind favor by Mr. Posey and should have wrote to you long before this but have everyday expected everyday Jack would be ready to set out, I am very sorry to hear that my mamma has been so unwell and thank god that she has recovered again – I wish I was near enough to come to see you and her. I am very uneasy at this time – I have some reason to expect that I shall take another trip to the northward. The pore General is not likely to come to see us from what I can hear – I expect to hear seertainly by the next post – if I doe I shall write to you to inform you and my friends.”

Martha was leery of the trip north due to memories of the bad roads and bad weather she’d encountered before. It didn’t help that her mother had been ill and she was worried about her health. But of course she did go, meeting George in Philadelphia the middle of December 1778. They stayed in that city until February 2 to go to Middlebrook, arriving on the 5th.

I’m sure she fell right back into the routines of camp life, forming the sewing circle with the other wives and socializing in the evenings. She even reportedly had her own regiment, Lady Washington’s Dragoons, to accompany her and keep her safe. But this time was different because she didn’t receive letters from her family as often as she might like. Indeed, she wrote to her son Jack and his wife Eleanor on March 9, 1779:

“My Dear Children,
            Not having received any letter from you, the two last posts – I have only to tell you, that the general & my self are well, all is quiet in this quarters; It is from the south ward that we expect to hear news. – we are very anxious to know how our affairs are going in that quarters Colo [Robert Hanson] Harrison is not yet arrived at camp we have heard that he is in Philad several days ago –
            I hear so very seldom from you, that I don’t know where you are or weather you intend to come to Alexandria to live this spring or when – The last letter from Nelly she now says Boath the children have been very ill, there were she hoped getting better – if you doe not write to me – I will not write to you again or till I get letters from you – Let me know how all friends below are they have for got to write me I believe.”

Martha was concerned about Eleanor because she was with child. In fact, Jack and Eleanor had a daughter on March 21, Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis. Her concerns proved well founded, because when she left Middlebrook and went to see Eleanor at her home Abingdon in Virginia the mother was ill and unable to feed the baby. Martha took Nelly to Mount Vernon to care for her while Eleanor recovered. But that reunion didn’t occur until around September.

In 1779-80, the camp returned to Morristown, but this time they set of HQ in a different place. Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Martha Washington Slept Here: Valley Forge #history #Pennsylvania #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I’ve talked about the first winter headquarters Martha Washington traveled to in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775, and the second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776. But did you know that she also was at Valley Forge during the winter encampment there in 1777-78?

I was fortunate to have a close friend take me to visit this historic site several years ago. There is a good bit of history at the above link if you want to delve deeper into everything that occurred at this place. My aim is to talk about what my sources say Martha did over the months she stayed with George at Valley Forge.

Martha didn’t start out to join George until January 26, 1778 and she had much difficulty traveling due to bad weather and an overall bad trip. Her entourage was forced to stop at Brandywine Creek due to snow and then she had to hire a sleigh to travel the rest of the way. She didn’t arrive at camp until sometime between February 4th and 10th, so you can tell it was a long and difficult trip, encompassing 10-16 days of travel. (As a comparison, if you drove the 152 miles from Mount Vernon, Virginia to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, it would take a little more than 3 hours today.) Try to imagine riding in a coach and then a sleigh for that many days in the cold and snow. Hotels didn’t exist then, so they had to stop at taverns or welcoming houses along the way. All of this because she knew her place was at his side, to support and love him during the dangerous times they lived through. Keep in mind that if the Revolution failed, George faced charges of treason and would likely be hanged. In her own words:

“I had nothing but kindness everywhere on my journey. The travelling was pretty rough. I found snow in crossing Delaware, and at an inn on Brandywine Creek, at a ford, where I lodged, the snow was so deep in the roads in some places, that I had to leave the chariot with the innkeeper and hire a farm sleigh to bring me here. The General is well, but much worn with fatigue and anxiety. I never knew him to be so anxious as now, for the poor soldiers are without sufficient clothing and food, and many of them are barefooted. Oh how my heart pains for them.”

While she was in camp, she reportedly organized a sewing circle with the other wives in camp and even found some musicians to play a concert for George’s birthday on February 22, 1778. She did what she did best by starting the social life in the evenings with as much formality and gaiety as the camp conditions allowed, although she didn’t throw any balls, just dinner in the log cabin built onto the headquarters for dining. Again in her own words:

“The general’s head-quarters have been made more tolerable by the addition of a log-cabin to the house, built to dine in. The apartment for business is only about sixteen feet square, and has a large fireplace. The house is built of stone. The walls are very thick…”

(Note that there is some question as to the authenticity of the previous letter’s entire contents, but it is believed that the log cabin was built as a dining room.)

Spring not only brought warmer temperatures but mud. The thawing of the frozen camp led to a muddy mess, awash in sewage. In May George received word that the French government had recognized the independence of the American colonies, then states, and George declared a day of celebration. Shortly thereafter, it was time for Martha to go home to Mount Vernon, but at least the roads were better since they were no longer snow covered.

Next time I’ll talk about Middlebrook, NJ. Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Martha Washington Slept Here: Arnold Tavern #history #Morristown #NewJersey #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books

The second winter camp that Martha Washington went to was in Morristown, New Jersey. Last week I talked about the first winter headquarters she traveled to in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775. George Washington established his winter camp headquarters in Morristown twice: the first time in January 1777 and the second in December 1779. The 1777 headquarters was in the Arnold Tavern downtown.

According to Philip Hoffman in his 1903 History of “The Arnold Tavern,” Morristown, N.J.: and many incidents connected with General Washington’s stay in this place, as his headquarters in winter of: with views of historic buildings and places of Revolutionary interest “The building stood on a commanding position, facing the ‘Green,’ on which were situated the court house and jail, on the northeast corner in front of the present U.S. Hotel. On the other side of the road, and almost directly in front of the present parsonage, stood the old Presbyterian meetinghouse, afterwards utilized as a hospital for the sick and wounded soldiers. This ‘Tavern’ building stood on the same spot for about 150 years, and until 1886 when it was bought by Mrs. Julia Keese Colles, a patriotic lady of Morristown, as a genuine Revolutionary relic, and for its preservation, it was removed to another part of the town, where it now stands as the main portion of All Souls’ Hospital, having been much changed in outward appearance and enlarged.”

Sketch of 3-story tavern, 5 windows across on top 2 stories, 2 windows and 2 doors on first floor with a covered front porch.
Sketch of the Arnold Tavern as appears in Philip Hoffman’s History of “The Arnold Tavern” (1903)

You may notice that I skipped 1776. Why didn’t she go to him that year? George was a bit busy that fall and early winter fighting and defeating the British at Trenton and Princeton. So he didn’t set up his winter camp until January 1777. That winter was brutal, too. The soldiers had little to eat and suffered from the cold and snow and mud by turns. George spent much of his time writing letters of importance with regard to the need for sustenance for his troops, for new recruits to add to and bolster his army, and other such weighty topics.

But George developed a quinsy sore throat, “a malady to which the General was subject, and of which he finally died.” (He didn’t die in 1777, of course, but in 1797.) Still everyone feared he might die and so they sent for Martha who arrived at the Arnold Tavern on March 15, 1777. The tavern was quite a large place. Hoffman describes the building in his book:

“This large and commodious building was the principal hotel of the place…It was an imposing structure, three stories in height, divided by a wide hall running through the centre, with a front and back parlor on the south side, and barroom and dining room and kitchen on the other. A broad and winding stairway gave an easy ascent to the second floor. Washington slept in the second story, in the front room, over the bar-room; the room adjoining and back of it was used as his dressing room.

“Back of that, and over the dining room and kitchen, was a commodious ball room, in which the Assembly balls were held, and there the army Masonic lodge held its meeting during the time that Washington made his headquarters in this building, in the winter of 1777, and also again in the winter of 1780. Bed chambers filled up the rest of the house, five of which were in the third story.”

Photo of historic marker: Washington's Headquarters. Washington made his winter headquarters at the Arnold Tavern January 6, 1777 now a part of All Souls Hospital. December 1779 he established quarters at the Ford Mansion now maintained as a museum.
Image courtesy of Historic Marker Database at https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=5949

Of course, where George slept so did Martha, so we know she slept on the second story and would have probably enjoyed the view of the bustling town Green out her window. I do wish the building was still standing, but after it was relocated to become part of the All Souls Hospital, it was eventually replaced with newer structures. Today there stands an historic site marker at the original location of Arnold Tavern, though, should you want to go pay a visit.

Next time I’ll talk about Valley Forge. Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Inspiration for Writing a Series #amwriting #Alabama #American #history #ReadIndie #FuryFallsInn

For many people, especially non-writers, trying to understand where the inspiration for a story comes from can be a puzzle. But trying to grasp how to imagine an entire series of stories can be even harder. So I thought I’d share today how I maneuvered my thoughts to create the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series.

The first piece of this puzzle came in the form of a historical marker I pass when I’m heading to one of my RWA chapter meetings. It’s beside a two-lane by-way in a small, historic town in north Alabama. The marker reads:

Valhermoso Springs

“Vale of Beauty”

The restorative qualities of the mineral springs here attracted settlement in the early 1800s. Variously known as Chunn Springs (after Lancelot Chunn) and Manning Springs (after Robert Manning), the spot was named for early developers of the resort where a hotel and surrounding cabins were erected between 1815 and 1823. By 1834, when the first post office was established, it was called White Sulphur Springs.

Jean Joseph Glers acquired the hotel and surrounding property in 1856, renaming it “Valhermoso Springs.” Into the 20th century, travelers from all over the world came to the hotel and springs seeking relief from rheumatism, insomnia, consumption, and ailments of the skin, kidneys, stomach, and liver. The hotel closed in the 1920s and was destroyed by tornado in 1950.

Historical marker for Valhermoso Springs, Alabama

Now, this sparked an idea for having a story set in a resort in the 1800s. I specifically chose 1821 because of two reasons. First, the timing worked to include the ancestral characters from my American Revolution historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, thus tying the two series together in a subtle way. (Did you catch that hint?) Second, I discovered that Alabama became a state in 1819 so my stories could include the early history of my adopted state. I imagined at first having the individual stories focus on different sets of romantic couples and how they came to the hotel, what conflicts they may have to overcome, etc. Something along the lines of the 1983-1888 TV series, Hotel, starring James Brolin and Connie Seleca. (Man, did I love that series!)

The more I thought about the idea, though, the more I wanted to combine my three favorite genres of fiction: historical, supernatural, and romance. I enjoy delving into the history of a place or people and then recreating the past within a story to help readers experience what that time or those people were like, what they had to face, the limitations on their options, etc. The supernatural elements—ghosts and magic—intrigue me since I’ve had experiences that cannot be logically or perhaps even scientifically explained. I’ve also been told about inexplicable happenings and sightings by others, friends and strangers alike. And finally, I believe in love and romance and hope everyone finds their version of happily ever after.

So, all these musings finally led me to wanting to write stories that take place in a haunted roadside inn, which became the Fury Falls Inn. (Note that a “fury” is another name for a “harsh, domineering woman” which fits Mercy Fairhope’s character perfectly.) I decided not to use an existing historical place because it can be limiting. For example, since I don’t know much about the real hotel in Valhermoso Springs, making it a haunted inn might cause some concern or offense to those people who live there. So instead I chose to invent an inn along Winchester Highway north of Huntsville, rather than southwest of that city. The falls and springs the inn features are purely fictional as well. But I liked the alliteration of Fury Falls and the subtle double entendre of the name.

The first book in the series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, is the story of how the inn became haunted and sets up the remaining stories’ conflicts and mysteries. The next several stories will feature Cassandra Fairhope’s brothers returning at her request and the surprise revelations they must face and adapt to. Book 2, Under Lock and Key, is now available and I’m writing book 3 to release in the spring of 2021.

Imagining the overarching story line for 6 books was a challenge, let me tell you! I’ve never planned out a 6-book series before. Now I have the fun of really getting to know each of the brothers and developing the story to weave their desires and needs toward a satisfying and unexpected conclusion in the last book. I’m not going to rush it, but I do hope to release books 3 and 4 next year, and 5 and 6 in 2022. Wish me luck!

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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Don’t Say That! Weather terms in #historical #fiction #wordplay #weather #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

Ready for a few weather related words that folks in the 18th century didn’t use? Let’s look at four: downpour, seasonal, weather tight, and thunderhead. All four would seem to be natural to use, right? I thought so at least! Until I did a bit of checking. So let’s look at these terms and see when they came to be.

Who hasn’t seen and experienced a “downpour” of rain? Well, back in the 1700s, they didn’t call it that. Meaning “a pouring down; esp. a heavy, continuous fall (of rain, etc.)” didn’t enter English, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), until 1811. I believe I used something along the lines of “drenching rain” instead. I’m sure readers have no problem with the meaning of either, but again, I simply want to create as authentic an experience of the 18th century as I can and still be understood by present-day readers.

What about a “seasonal” display of flowers? I’m thinking of vases containing flowers from specific times of the year appropriate to the season. So, meaning “pertaining to or characteristic of the seasons of the year, or some one of them,” the word didn’t exist until 1838. Five decades after my A More Perfect Union historical romance series of stories. So nope. But of course I could simply say “the flowers in the vases had been picked that morning, new buds of yellow daffodils and pink roses” in order to both describe the colors as well as the time of year. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Not relying upon the single word helps me to paint a clearer picture for my readers. I’ll take it!

AMPU Covers-4So in Amy’s Choice, I wanted the boat to be “weather tight.” After all, Frank and Benjamin were facing a bad storm in a skiff-like boat on their way to visit the ship’s captain. Only, the OED tells me to hold up… The first citation for “weather-tight” didn’t pop up until 1832. So much for using that phrase. I likely said something along the lines of “the boat had been prepared to face all kinds of weather.” Creating the same impression but with different verbiage.

One last term to contemplate. Surely the storm clouds built into “thunderheads,” right? Well, let’s take a closer look. The OED lists it under “thunder” as the main entry. As a combining form, it means “(a) a rounded mass of cumulus cloud seen near the horizon projecting above the general body of cloud, and portending a thunder-storm; hence thunder-headed a., having, or of the nature of, a thunder-head; (b) nonce-use, a large head, as a whale’s head.” The first citation for the term is from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which is dated 1851, and is actually referring to the whale heads on the ship. As in, “Throw all these thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and right.” In 1861, L.L. Noble used the term in Icebergs: “An iceberg rises…after the figure of a thunderhead.” So am I to assume the term came from the shape of a whale head applied to the clouds? Maybe… Nonetheless, I couldn’t use it in my series, and that was the main concern at the time.

So next week I’ll look at my last class of words, color words such as ecru and multicolor. I hope you’re keeping cool and enjoying a great story! See you next week!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out monthly. You’ll find out about new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Introducing the lives, loves, and dangerous times of the men and women in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series! This prequel novella takes place when Charles Town, South Carolina, is about to face the British enemy during the American Revolution.

Elizabeth's HopeCAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND LOVE

Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

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Don’t Say That! Family Ties in #historical #fiction #relations #wordplay #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

I’ve been at the RWA national conference this week networking and learning more about all things related to being an author. But I didn’t want to leave you waiting for another quick round of Don’t Say That! In Evelyn’s Promise, family comes first for Evelyn. So today let’s talk about words linked to relationships: fiancé/fiancée, missis/missus, teen/teenager, and sibling.

Today we become engaged and then we introduce our “betrothed person” (the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) definition) as our “fiancé” or “fiancée,” depending on whether the other person is male or female, respectively. However, neither word entered English until 1853, so my characters all become the other person’s betrothed, which has been around since 1540.

Once a woman was married, then the husband might call her “missis” or “missus” as a dialect form of “wife.” But he wouldn’t have done that until 1833. However, if “used by servants…in speaking of their mistresses; spec. used by N. American Negroes and in India and S. Africa of a white employer, and loosely of any (esp. a white) woman,” then it’s possible but still rather unlikely until 1790. My historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, is set in Charleston in 1782-83, so close but not quite…

Once the newly married couple starts their family, the children will grow up to be in their teenage years. But my characters would not call those children between thirteen and nineteen their “teen” until 1818. Interestingly, the OED cites “teen” as short for “teenager” but then states that the first recorded date for the full form isn’t until 1941. Slightly confused, I went to Dictionary.com where they say its first recording was in 1935-40, so they basically agree for teenager, but Dictionary.com also says “teen” is first recorded in 1940-45 by shortening. That makes more sense, doesn’t it? Either way, my parents wouldn’t be using the term.

Our fictional children today would call each other “siblings” or “one who is of kin to another” but more like “each of two or more children of a common parent.” The first definition originated in 1000, but fell out of usage until revived in 1903 by K. Pearson in Biometrika using the second definition above. So while technically the word existed at the time of my stories in the 18th century, the folks living then didn’t use it. So of course neither could I, thus forced to stick with sister or brother instead.

Next time I’ll talk about weather words like downpour and weather tight. I hope you’re enjoying your week! I know I will be very tired by the time I finally get home again from conference, but I’ll also be highly motivated. Until next time!

Betty

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Evelyn's PromiseDetermined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, where his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathaniel to make the hardest decision of his life.

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Don’t Say That! Playing Doctor in #historical #fiction #medical #wordplay #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

Sometimes people become ill or have a baby in my stories so there are doctors and midwives involved. The best example is in Samantha’s Secret, where Trent is a new doctor in town and Samantha is a healer and midwife. But some of the conditions and expressions we use today wouldn’t apply to the 18th century. Take, for instance, life force, morning sickness, spasm, stressed, and peaked (as in looked peaked.

Let’s start with the essential element of humankind, the life force that sustains our being. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) lists it as a “special combination” under the noun Life, meaning “vital energy” which is the definition I had in mind when writing my stories. But the OED doesn’t give an origin date, so I popped over to Dictionary.com and discovered it was first recorded in 1895-1900. That’s a century after my stories take place, so nope to using that one!

In a couple of my stories a woman is having a baby. I would have thought the terms used would be fairly standard, but yet again I was surprised. I think most folks know that “morning sickness” is the “nausea occurring in the morning, one of the earlier symptoms of pregnancy.” However, did you know we didn’t start using that term until 1875, according to Dictionary.com? Nearly a century after my stories time period. Sigh.

Okay, fine. Then when the woman went into labor her insides would surely spasm, right? Well, yes and no. It depends on whether it’s used as a noun, as in “A spasm tightened her stomach” which is fine as early as 1400. But if used as a verb, as in “Her stomach spasmed,” then no. Not until 1900, at least.

So then if this is making you feel a bit “stressed” you may be happy to know that while my characters could be “distressed, afflicted” as early as 1559, they couldn’t be “experiencing physiological, emotional, or psychological stress” until 1973. Whew. What a relief for them! But then how do I explain how they were feeling? Instead of saying they felt stressed, I showed the physiological signs of that stress. A little more difficult but makes for a better story experience.

One of those signs, however, couldn’t have been that they looked “peaked,” or “sharp-featured, thin, pinched, as from illness or want; sickly-looking.” The particular colloquialism wasn’t recorded until 1835. But honestly, the image of the person evoked in that definition is far clearer than if I had merely used the word. So my readers win out in the end and that’s what is most important, right?

Next time I’ll talk about relationship words like fiancé and sibling. I hope you find a shady or air-conditioned spot to stay cool while reading a great book!

Betty

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SamanthsSecretCOVERIn 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal in the port city Charles Town, South Carolina.

Midwife and healer, Samantha McAlester returns from the front lines to find Charles Town under British siege and the town’s new doctor at war with its citizens.

Dr. Trent Cunningham intends to build a hospital staffed solely with educated doctors. What he doesn’t need is a raven-haired charlatan spooning out herbs and false promises to his patients, while tempting him at every turn.

Then a mutual friend develops a mysterious infection. Trenton is stumped. Samantha suspects the cure but knows treatment will expose her long-guarded secret, risking all she holds dear… including Trenton.

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Don’t Say That! Emotions in #historical #fiction #wordplay #wordorigins #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

What would any story be without describing, or showing, how the characters feel? Whether some flavor of happy or sad, in love or hating an enemy, emotions drive actions and thus propel the story through the highs and lows. Yet some ways of saying how a character feels just weren’t used in the past. Let’s look at six I came across while writing my A More Perfect Union historical romances as well as another 18th-century story about Martha Washington. They are: happy-go-lucky, ambivalent, antsy, cantankerous, edgy, and excited.

First, “happy-go-lucky” in this instance is applied to people not events. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) it was an adverb meaning “just as it may happen; as luck will have it; haphazard” as early as 1672. However, it didn’t become a noun meaning “a happy-go-lucky person” or “happy-go-lucky quality or character” until 1851 and then even later an adjective meaning “Of persons or their actions: Taking things as they happen to come; easy-going” until 1856. Sadly, I couldn’t use it to describe the personality or emotional state of my 1780s characters. I say sadly because it’s such an upbeat description and applied so well to Frank, in Emily’s Vow, at least his younger self.

Let’s look at “ambivalent” next. I was looking to describe one of my characters as not having a strong opinion between several options. I really thought ambivalent nailed it, but the OED informed me that I was off by a couple centuries. Specifically meaning “entertaining contradictory emotions (as love and hatred) towards the same person or thing; acting on or arguing for sometimes one and sometimes the other of two opposites,” “ambivalent” didn’t enter English until 1916. So I had to be creative with my word choices to show the character feeling both ways toward the situation.

All of this might make a writer a bit “antsy” when having to dig a bit deeper for the proper words to string together. However, my characters wouldn’t have ever described themselves using this term because it isn’t cited until 1838 to mean “agitated, impatient, restless; also, sexually eager.” A bit closer to my 1780s stories but not close enough.

I will admit that rarely the first citation date in the OED is a few years—within 10, say—after my stories time period, but I figure it’s close enough for my purposes. Especially if I use it in dialogue since words are created verbally long before they are put into writing and then into a dictionary of some kind. It’s rare that I found this to be the case, but I can think of a couple instances.

Next is a fun-to-say description of a person’s emotional state: “cantankerous.” I had wanted to use this word in my Martha Washington story, but her story stretched over 50 years, 1750s-1800. At the point in the story it was too early to use it. Meaning “showing an ill-natured disposition; ill-conditioned and quarrelsome, perverse, cross-grained” it entered written English in 1772. So it was fine to use in my A More Perfect Union series, but not in the early chapters of Martha’s story (which by the way, my agent is shopping around for a publisher; stay tuned!). In fact that was one of the “fun” challenges of writing, or rather revising, her story: ensuring that the word usage evolved over the decades of the story to incorporate other words and meanings of previous words. Yeah, that took some time…

What about a favorite word of today, “edgy” to mean unsettled or nervous? Well, it was a word as early as 1775, but it meant “having an edge or edges; sharp, cutting” so that wouldn’t do for what I had in mind. By 1825 it had started being applied to describe a painting, as in “having the outlines too hard.” The usage meaning “having one’s nerves on edge; irritable; testy” wasn’t in the lexicon until 1837, so again decades after my stories’ time periods.

Finally, everybody gets “excited,” right? Nowadays, sure, but not so much in the 18th century. People didn’t get excited, but electricity and magnets did as early as 1660. For people to be “stirred by strong emotion, disturbed, agitated” they’d have to wait until 1855. Well, not really, of course. I’m sure they felt excited as we think of it whether they called it that or not.

I enjoy researching the origins of words, whether for my stories or out of sheer curiosity. I’ve said it before, we use words and phrases every day that stem from obsolete technology and situations. Think “rolling down the window” in a car or “hanging up” the phone. There are many other examples out there!

Next week I’m going to “tackle” a few fighting words. Until next time!

Betty

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Amy's ChoiceIn 1782, the fight for independence has become personal…

When Amy Abernathy’s childhood sweetheart, Benjamin Hanson, leaves to fight in the American War for Independence without a word of goodbye, Amy picks up the pieces of her heart and chooses independence. When Benjamin returns unexpectedly, Amy flees to the country to help her pregnant sister and protect her heart.

Benjamin Hanson knows he hurt Amy, but he also knows he can make it up to her after he completes his mission. Then he learns that Amy has been captured by renegade soldiers. Now Benjamin faces his own choice: free the sassy yet obstinate woman he’s never stopped loving or protect Charles Town from the vengeful British occupation.

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Don’t Say That! Idioms and Sayings in #historical #fiction #wordplay #wordorigins #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

Let’s talk about those colloquialisms we all rely on in everyday conversation. Phrases we don’t necessarily know where they come from, what they actually mean, or how on earth anyone came up with them. I have five of them in mind to discuss today: “butterflies in my stomach,” “by-your-leave,” “get on my nerves,” “up-and-coming,” and “worth his salt.” Ready?

I’ll take them in order, starting with the idea of butterflies in someone’s stomach. I think we all know this is supposed to evoke the sense of a fluttering kind of disturbance one feels inside when nervous, anxious, or extremely curious perhaps. It’s often associated with falling in love, experiencing that initial attraction to someone else. I really love this phrase! However, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) won’t let me use it in my 1780s stories because the first citation of its use is in 1982. Again, that just means I had to be more creative with how I described my character’s reaction to her guy. Not a bad thing at all to be forced to invent something fresh and new rather than rely on pat phrases. But still, I really had wanted to use it! Sigh.

So now, “by-your-leave,” we’ll talk about that phrase. This phrase literally is “asking of permission” or “an expression of apology for not having asked permission.” It even has its own entry in the OED, which a lot of these phrases do not; they’re sub-definitions of another noun (the “butterflies” phrase was found under “butterfly,” for example). Here again, the first citation isn’t until 1914, so I couldn’t use that phrase even though it would likely be easily understood as to my meaning. Again, I’m a contemporary author telling a story about a previous era but using concepts and phrasing as close to what an actual person would use to create the most authentic reading experience I can. Given that I didn’t live in that day and age centuries ago, that is.

Now some of you may be thinking all of this “gets on your nerves,” and trust me, it can! But that phrase also didn’t become a “thing” until 1903 to mean “to (begin to) affect one with irritation, impatience, fear, or the like.” Now the word “nerve” (the main entry in the OED) has been in existence far longer, as in 1538, but not with this particular usage. So of course then I resorted to using “irritated” or “annoyed” instead. Easy enough to switch up to make the story move alone and yet be true to the times.

The next “up-and-coming” phrase has been around since 1889 to mean “active, alert, wide-awake, energetic” but I wanted the definition of “promising, making progress, beginning to achieve success” which didn’t enter the written language until 1926. Note that this phrase also has its own entry, which tells me it’s been used widely, despite being chiefly an Americanism.

Finally, any author “worth his salt” will recognize that understanding the evolution of the use and meaning of words and phrases is important. In this case, the definition I intended was that of “efficient or capable.” The OED includes this under the main noun entry of “salt” and notes that it is “usually with expressed or implied negative.” Either way, the first citation is 1830 in Marryat’s King’s Own with “The captain…is not worth his salt.”

I was curious how this phrase came to be, so I checked in Morris’ Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. Apparently, the Romans used to pay their soldiers partly in salt. Later, the salt was changed to be a monetary allowance in order buy their own salt, which is where the word salarium or “of salt” came from. Both “salt” and “salary” share the same Latin root, sal, meaning “salt.” Today, of course, this is known as a “salary.”

I hope you’re enjoying these little forays into the usage and the changing of the meanings associated with words and phrases. I totally admit to being a word geek! I love word games and playing with ways to say something mundane in a new way.

What common phrases do you use without understanding the origin? Can you name some? There are many associated with the advent and advances in technology—“hang up the phone” or “roll down the window” in a car being the first two to come to mind. I’m happy to help discover the inspiration for it if I can! Until next time!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

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Emily's Vow Finalist SealEmily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Despite her half-hearted protests, her father insists Frank Thomson is the perfect man for both her protection from the vengeful British and as a husband. Frank always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns Emily’s been imprisoned for her father’s privateering, he risks his own neck to free his love.

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