Martha Washington Slept Here: New Windsor #history #NewYork #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Martha Washington had not traveled much if at all before she married George Washington. Her move from southern Virginia to northern Virginia, to Mount Vernon, was the farthest she’d journeyed. Until the American Revolution started and George was appointed as Commander of the Continental Army. The next location for the Continental Army’s winter camp and George Washington’s headquarters was in New Windsor, New York, in 1780-1781.

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.

Next at Morristown, NJ from 1779-1780. 

I don’t know much about this winter camp in New Windsor, to be honest. In fact, although I strive to be as accurate as I possibly can, when I wrote Becoming Lady Washington I made an error as to its location, confusing it with a later encampment in the same area in 1782-83. I’ll get to that in a minute.

What I have found in doing the research for this post is that while George Washington wrote many letters from “New Windsor” in December 1780, he didn’t specify where his headquarters was actually situated. Could he have used tents instead of residing in a house? It’s possible but wouldn’t be ideal to winter in New York in tents. I would think he would be in a house. I don’t know that for certain. I did find one mention related to his headquarters in a December 14, 1780 letter to the Marquis de Lafayette:

“I am in very confined Quarters—little better than those at Valley Forge—but such as they are I shall welcome into them your friends on their return to Rhode Island.”

This implies he may have been in a house since he was in a stone house at Valley Forge. I suspect he didn’t specify the location of the headquarters to protect everyone from the British surprising them. However, I also know that during this encampment the British intercepted letters from George and Martha and as a result a gift was sent under a flag of truce to Martha, who had been ill, so they (the British?) already knew the location.

Martha arrived at the camp by December 15, 1780. George was fretting about the mail route because his letters kept being “taken” by the enemy and the army didn’t have the money to replace the horses for Express riders to carry the mail. As I mentioned above, a lady, Mrs. Martha Mortier, the widow of a British army paymaster, sent quite an extensive amount of foods to Martha because she learned Martha suffered from an illness, which was a gall-bladder attack.

I can’t help but be amazed at the array and quantities of these items! According to the editors of “Worthy Partner”: The Papers of Martha Washington, the gift consisted of “a box of lemons, a box of oranges, four boxes of sweetmeats, one keg of tarmarinds (medicinal seed from tamarindus indica), 200 limes, two dozen capillaire (to prepare a syrup from maiden hair fern), two dozen orgeat (used to prepare a syrup made from barley, almonds, or orange flower water), two dozen pineapples, and two pounds of Hyson tea.” George ordered for nothing to be landed but the detachment offering the gift under a flag of truce be sent away immediately. The editors go on to say that if George had permitted the gift to even have landed on shore he would have been subjected to “criticism in the tory and patriot press for having accepted favors from the enemy.”

These were tense times in the winter headquarters. Not only was the enemy trying to trick him into missteps, the supplies and clothing for the troops were nearly nonexistent.

As to my gaffe, which I apologize for again, this headquarters was not located in the William Ellison House as noted in the following excerpt. I have not identified the actual house or place where the camp was located. Please forgive me for confusing these two winter camps. I obviously made an assumption that, since the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the National Park Service only referred to the Ellison and Hasbrouck houses, both winter camps occurred in the same locations. Lesson learned! However, my description of the house being “tiny” apparently was accurate.

The following takes place in June 1781. From Becoming Lady Washington:


I laid in my bed, a light cover keeping me warm enough, wondering whether the bilious fever and jaundice I suffered would end me. The tiny William Ellison House where headquarters had been established provided little comfort in its cramped interior. Not a place where I’d ever thought I’d die. Yet, at that moment, it seemed a distinct possibility. I didn’t want to die, of course. Not really. But I’d been ill for weeks and didn’t know how much longer I could tolerate the illness. I had intended to leave camp for home in May, but I fell ill around the twenty-first while George was away in Connecticut.

The doctor told me the abdominal pain searing through me was likely caused by a stone in my gall bladder. The biliousness and yellowing of my skin did nothing to make the strain and discomfort more bearable. Five long weeks dragged past with me fearing for my life.

George had agonized about acquiring the proper medications to ease my suffering, writing the last day of May to both Jacky and Lund to see what they could do to assist. Unfortunately, those letters along with a few others from George were intercepted. How did I know? Because a letter arrived on the twenty-first of June, dated the fifteenth, from Mrs. Martha Mortier.

She not only baldly stated that his letter had been intercepted. She had the audacity to send a gift of lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, sweetmeats, tarmarind seeds, capillaire to make a medicinal syrup from maiden hair fern, orgeat to make another syrup, and two pounds of Hyson green tea from China. A bribe or war prize. Either way, we could not accept it. Fortunately, I had recovered my health by then so could with all honesty refuse it as no longer needed. Or wanted, but that was another matter.

“The vast amount of delicacies must have cost a small fortune, what with the outrageous inflation for even common articles.” I could see George’s concern in the set of his jaw and the anger in his eyes.

As the war had dragged on, his health had become more my concern. He brushed aside my worries, but I have eyes and could see the subtle changes. While we both wanted to be safely at home on our beloved plantation, his duty was to his role as commander of the army. Mine was to be by his side to support him and care for him through good and bad, sickness and health.

“I cannot tolerate this blatant attempt to trick me or any one on my staff to accept favors from the enemy.” George paced the office, rage pouring from him in waves. He stopped suddenly and glared at his staff member, standing rigidly at attention awaiting orders. “Major General Robert Howe, you will thwart any thing and any one from landing under such a flag of truce. I shall reject the items as politely as I can. I shall send a note thanking Mrs. Mortier but telling her you, my dear Patsy, have recovered and thus no longer need such assistance.”

“That is a wise plan.” In truth, while the whisper of temptation to enjoy the fruit existed for two heart beats, I’d never have succumbed.

The reason for George’s tirade stemmed from learning Lund, back home at Mount Vernon, had given refreshments to the enemy in April. Lund’s desperate measures proved misguided. The British had sailed up the Potomac, threatening to burn our beloved home to the ground. In order to save it, he’d offered food and drink on board the ship. He’d dared to ask for the surrender of some of our Negroes, asking a favor from the enemy! I had rarely seen my old man so livid and embarrassed in the twenty-two years we’d been married. He sent a reprimand to Lund, telling him of his displeasure with Lund’s ill-judged actions. We both feared that unhappy consequences and animadversion of the General would result. I hoped no one would criticize him, not after all our sacrifices in the cause, but we’d experienced naysayers already. Then to add to that outrage his concern for my welfare, and he proved troubled indeed.


I’ve checked my sources and they do not mention a site for the 1780-81 headquarters either. George only puts “New Windsor” or “Hd Qtr New Windsor” on his letters. I won’t make excuses for my error, only say that I will strive to avoid further errors in the future.

Until next time, when I’ll talk about Philadelphia, 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 of Becoming Lady Washington depicting the marriage of George and Martha.

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: 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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Martha Washington Slept Here: Longfellow House #history #Cambridge #Massachusetts #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Martha Washington surprised me in many ways as I learned about her life in order to write Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel. One way is that despite the lack of traveling she did in her youth, she more than made up for it once she married George. In fact, she went to him every winter when the army went to their winter camp. The location of George Washington’s Headquarters are mostly in the northeast of America if not solely in that quadrant of the original 13 colonies which became states. I have visited most of those headquarters, by the way, walking the same floors and halls and gripping the same hand rails as Martha and George must have.

The first winter headquarters she traveled to was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775. The house is known as the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House, which is now run as a historic site managed by the National Park Service. For more on the history of the building and the people who occupied it, click here or here. The house is a Georgian-style mansion built in 1759 by John Vassall, Jr., a loyalist during the American Revolution who eventually moved first to Halifax and then to London in 1776. It is located at 105 Brattle Street. I wish I had been able to visit this beautiful structure while I was touring the others, but I simply couldn’t fit it into my already packed trip to Maine and back.

Mcloughlin Bros., Inc., Copyright Claimant. Home of Longfellow Cambridge, Mass. , ca. 1904. March 8. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2013645321/

Keep in mind just how very far Martha had to travel in the winter to be with her beloved husband. Back when the journey took weeks not days. During her various trips she made use of a coach-and-six, a sleigh, and even boats and ferries. All because George wanted her at his side and that’s where she knew she belonged.

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 and her daughter’s epilepsy #history #medicines #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

During this past week’s celebration of the one-year anniversary of the release of Becoming Lady Washington, I read an excerpt from the book dealing with the many treatments they tried and which failed to help Martha’s daughter with epilepsy fits. It brought to mind just how far the world of medicine has come over the last 250+ years.

I am not a medicine historian by any means but I have read a good bit about how people tried to fight off diseases in the 18th century. Here’s the excerpt I read on Wednesday, with the various kinds of treatment mentioned in bold italics:


Mount Vernon – 1768

One afternoon in September, George searched me out, finding me in the hall where I sewed in the brighter light the area afforded to my work. I set aside the stitching to attend to what he was about to convey. I braced myself when I noted his serious expression. “What is it?”

“I need to speak with you.” George placed a chair nearby and sank onto its wood seat. “I’ll be leaving in the morning to attend the assembly, but I shouldn’t be gone but a month or two. Did you wish to accompany me?”

Oh, how I’d adore to travel with him to Williamsburg, as it would give me the opportunity to visit with my mother and kinfolk. But not with Patsy ill so frequently. My heart simply was not interested in the gaiety of the balls and dinners and the whirl of society in the colony’s capitol.

Dr. Rumney was a necessary but not entirely wanted guest. Each time I sent for him, desperate to find a solution to my daughter’s increasing fits, I prayed for strength and peace. Allowing myself to lose my composure would not help any one. Better to keep calm and seek out ways to comfort and encourage my daughter.

I smiled at George, a small rueful grin as I shook my head. “I desire nothing more than to be at your side, but I cannot leave. I do not trust any one else to attend our daughter. She’s not up to traveling, either. The journey and upset might undo any strides Dr. Rumney has made.” George’s eyes held a wealth of compassion and concern, but I wouldn’t stand between him and his obligations. I could handle the household in his absence. More importantly, I trusted he’d come home if I needed him. “Go and do what you have to. Only do not stay away a moment longer than your business requires. I will be anxious for your return.”

George enclosed my hand in his. “I give you my promise to return as soon as possible.”

Two months passed while I did my utmost to remain positive. But Patsy continued to need the doctor’s ministrations. I kept one eye on her and one on the door, waiting for George’s return. He wrote to me weekly, sharing the gossip and that he’d been asked to lead the Virginia Militia. My pride for his stellar reputation and the resulting trust placed in his hands bolstered my flagging energy. I’d do nothing to give him cause to be less proud of me than I was of him. When George trotted his stallion up the lane in November, Billy at his side like an appendage, I met him at the door to guide him to where Dr. Rumney yet again administered nervous drops and musk to Patsy.

I caught a sharp appraising glance from George, but didn’t give him chance to comment on my admittedly haggard appearance. I’d attempted to correct the ravages of months of worry, but apparently had not succeeded. A fact unsurprising when I considered the keen judgment he possessed. Whether appraising the conformation of a horse or determining the trustworthiness of a servant, he missed nothing. Hurrying him to Patsy’s room, I trusted speed would blur the edges enough to avoid further commentary. No matter what else, at least George returned home to help me shoulder the burden of worry.

“How long has the doctor been here?” George asked quietly, his voice rumbling in the passage.

“This time? An hour or so.” I kept my voice low as we turned the corner.

“I know you’re worried, as am I. We will do all we can, Patsy.” George pulled me to a halt outside the closed chamber door and embraced me, a lazy bear hug that stole my breath for a few moments. Blissful moments snug within the protection of his arms. He eased me away from him and pecked a kiss to my lips. “How frequently has Dr. Rumney been summoned?”

“Weekly.” I clung to his hands, needing their strength and stability, and craned my neck back so I could search his expression. “He continues to use purges and bleedings. Ointments and drugs of various kinds. But it’s all guessing. He told me they do not know what causes these terrifying visitations on a person’s body.” A sigh clawed its way from me. “It’s a terrible thing, to watch your child suffer and be unable to alleviate or remove the cause.”

The last fit had been the worst I’d ever seen, and the absolute hardest event to witness. She’d started to shake uncontrollably, biting her tongue until it bled, and then dropped unconscious. I had eased her to the floor with a bump. She’d slept in my arms for nearly ten minutes before she roused. Ten long, agonizing minutes of staring at her closed eyes and willing for her to be well. I’d sent for the doctor posthaste. I shuddered at the memory. We must find an answer.

“Let’s see what he has to say today.” George opened the door and ushered me inside the sunny room.

Patsy sat in a chair by the window, dark eyes in a pale face, lips brushed with pink, brunette curls hidden under a kerchief, a colorful lap blanket warming her legs. Dr. Rumney turned from where he’d been stirring yet another dosage of nervous drops into warmed sherry. Not that it had worked previously. Surely something would cure her ailment. The tension coiled inside of me would take a miracle to release. A miracle for Patsy.

“Welcome home, Colonel.” Dr. Rumney tapped the spoon on the edge of the glass and laid it on the table. “I do believe we may be making a bit of progress in managing your daughter’s symptoms.”

George strode forward and shook the doctor’s hand. “That’s good to hear, doctor. We’re naturally very concerned about the increased frequency of the attacks.”

“It’s not my fault, Father.” Patsy frowned slightly. “I try to stop them but I cannot.”

“We know it’s outside of your control, dear.” George glanced from Patsy to me and then the doctor. “We’ll keep looking for a way, anything with any hope of success will be tried. Understood, Dr. Rumney?”

“Of course.” Dr. Rumney hurried across the room and handed Patsy the glass. “Drink this and let’s hope it will help abate the events, or at least lengthen the time between them so you can play the spinet again.”

I clasped my cold hands in front of me. After the years of increasing frequency and violence in her spasms, of doctor visits, and a slew of treatments, what more could we try? “Perhaps if we took her to take of the waters at Warm Springs?”

Dr. Rumney put various tools and bottles back into his bag and snapped it closed before addressing me. “I’ve never heard of any one recovering from the falling sickness by doing so, but if it comes down to it, we might try that as a last resort. In the meanspace, continue giving our lovely patient sips of the musk twice a day as prescribed. If you have any further concerns, send for me.”

“Thank you, doctor. I’ll walk you out.” George ushered the doctor from the room, casting a last glance back at me with an encouraging smile.

“Mama, please don’t be sad.” Patsy reached out a hand, wiggling her fingers until I wrapped them with my own. “Would you like for me to play your favorite song?”

I lifted her hand to press a kiss to the fingers. The same fingers that had reluctantly pressed the ivory keys for years. “Yes, I would like that very much.”


The treatments included in this passage were not the only ones they tried. In fact in Patricia Brady’s excellent biography Martha Washington: An American Life, she states:

“Epilepsy was untreatable by any medical knowledge of the day. The Washingtons spent much time and money consulting a variety of doctors (at least eight of them over the years), trying changes in lifestyle, mountains of medicines, and treatment with ‘simples,’ that is, herbal remedies. Dr. William Rumney, an Englishman in practice in Alexandria, treated Patsy regularly for five years, coming down to Mount Vernon every few weeks to examine his patient and bring capsules, powders, pills, and decoctions. Throughout her ordeal, antispasmodics such as valerian and musk were the primary medicines prescribed—to no avail. At one point, poisonous but often used mercury and severe purging were ordered, Martha nursing and watching her daughter throughout. Another time, a blacksmith came and put an iron ring on Patsy’s finger, based on an English folk belief that such rings prevented seizures. Later, they spent a month at Warm Springs, hoping the waters might be beneficial.”

During the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia later in the century, 1793, they resorted to firing guns in the air and lighting fires in the streets along with wearing amulets around their necks to ward off the evil disease. Lots of folk medicine ideas were based on fear and hope not science.

One last reminder. Just for a few more days, both in honor of Memorial Day and Martha’s 290th birthday on June 2, I’ve discounted the ebook of Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel from its regular $4.99 to $2.99 (I would have made it $2.90 if I could have!). This is a limited time sale so get your copy today!

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful summer of reading and relaxing ahead.

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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Some Basics of Magic and Witchcraft #research #magic #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

I was talking with a friend and fellow author the other day about the process of writing a series. Obviously the biggest difference between writing a single book and a series of connected stories is that there needs to be an overarching story for the entire series. In the case of the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series that means 6 stories with an ever-growing cast of characters. The core story in the series is about the Fairhope family coming back together to defend against a common threat. But each story has its own internal story arc as well. Writing this series has been a challenge for me in several ways.

I’ve talked before about the inspiration for the series which you can read about here. When I wrote that post I had just released the second book in the series, Under Lock and Key, and by then had a better feel for where the series story was heading. Then I wrote the third book, Desperate Reflections, which is up for pre-order now (see below) and will release on May 11, 2021. When I finished writing that story I realized I needed to have a high-level outline of the remaining three books in the series in order to ensure that I wrap up all the of the threads running through these stories. So I took some time to brainstorm all of the events and revelations I could identify that needed to be included in upcoming stories. I feel far more confident that I’ll address the currently open questions as a result! But let me tell you it really stretches my imagination in ways I’ve never done before.

My witchcraft reference books

Another challenge with this series is writing about magic and witches and warlocks. See, I am not a witch nor do I practice magic. Which means I had to do some research to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for those people who do practice some form of magic or have special abilities. So naturally I turned to books written by practicing witches to find out more about what life is like for them. Specifically, Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice and Ly de Angeles’ Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. Although they each approach their practice from slightly different perspectives, they agreed on a good bit. These two books also provided the theories and philosophies behind the practical aspects of witchcraft. That is something I intend to weave into my characters’ knowledge as well.

In this series, my main heroine Cassandra Fairhope discovers she comes from a family of witches. She’s surprised by the news but takes to the idea of practicing magic even though she doesn’t know anything about it. Well, neither did I! So I tapped my research books for guidance on the basics she and later her brothers would need to know.

From my reading, the most basic step before performing a spell or ritual is to ground and center in order to protect yourself as you work with the energy around you. According to Sabin, grounding and shielding are both important visualizations to know how to do. Sabin says, “These techniques will allow you to have more control in your energy work by giving you ways to get rid of excess energy and protect yourself from unwanted energy.” I paraphrased her description of the technique she teaches her students to use as a meditation in Desperate Reflections when Abram is reluctantly learning how to ground and center:


“Now, ground and center.”

“How do you expect me to do both?” Abram sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor that evening, hands resting on his knees as he tried to follow his sister’s instructions. He gazed at her, wondering if she believed the mystical nonsense she’d spouted over the last several minutes. “And what do you mean by center?”

“Relax and breathe. Picture a glowing golden taproot connecting your spine to the earth beneath you.” Cassie perched on the edge of a chair in front of the fireplace in the parlor, her expression serene and gentle. “Close your eyes and concentrate.” She paused for several seconds as he let his lids drop. “Can you see it?”

He inhaled slowly, struggling with the conflicting desires to dismiss her guidance as utter rubbish or to follow her instructions and see what might happen. Despite his reservations, the image of a thick, strong taproot like that of an ancient pine tree formed in his mind’s eye. “Now what?”

“Feel the earth’s energy flowing gently and warmly to the base of your spine.”

A slight tingling warmed his hips as he sat with his eyes closed, seeing the energy like a glowing golden stream flowing up along the taproot and into his body. Squeezing his eyes tight to ensure he didn’t open them and lose the image, he waited for her next directions.

“Now feel the energy flow through your legs down all the way to your feet. Then let it flow up your spine and through your arms and hands.”

“It’s so warm. I didn’t expect to feel that.” He flexed his fingers then relaxed them on his knees. The gentle warmth surged through his entire body, filling him with a sense of peace and security but mostly a surprisingly deep connection to the earth.

“That’s perfect. Now, push the excess energy back down the taproot but keep your own energy alive inside.” Her soft voice drifted to his ears and assisted him in easing the unnecessary energy back into the earth through the golden taproot. “When you’re done, open your eyes.”

He pictured the last of the excess energy evaporating into the ground even as a sense of completion and readiness filled him. He opened his eyes and grinned at her. “That was amazing.”


Interpreting the experience from the guidance of a practicing witch helps me imagine how my characters might also have the experience and their reactions. Hopefully with some sense of authenticity despite my own lack of personal experience. I can’t include every aspect of the philosophies and techniques used but I will try to set the stage and the context for my characters and thus for my readers to also have a better appreciation and understanding.

There’s more magic to come, too. Check out Desperate Reflections below and be sure to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Until next time, 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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Choosing A Period-Appropriate Book for a Character to Read #research #history #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fiction #books

I love to include places I’ve visited as well as classic authors and their books in my fiction. So in writing Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3; Coming May 2021!), I looked for a “new” book Cassandra could read in the gazebo in 1821. My first thought was of Sir Walter Scott’s book, Waverly, because I was pretty sure he was writing around the turn of the 19th century. And I own a treasured copy of it. So I went in search of my copy to confirm its publication date. Now, my copy is special to me because I bought it while on a university hosted study abroad trip. It was a summer course for essentially the entire month of July 1995 in Great Britain entitled Literary Landscapes and Journeys of the Mind. That was the first and only time I have traveled abroad without family with me. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience, too. If we ever sit down over a cup of coffee together, ask me about it. <wink>

Here’s a short snippet from my upcoming release of Desperate Reflections where Cassie is reading:

She looked down at the book in her hands. Abram had let her borrow his copy of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Waverly. Apparently, he had easy access to many books in the cosmopolitan world he lived in. He’d recommended it to her as a distraction and a great romantic tale. She opened the cover and noted it had been out for seven years, but it was entirely new to her. The story of an idealistic young man who fought for the Jacobites in 1745 Scotland seemed like a good way to not think about what was happening around her. To not think about what might happen when her aunts arrived. To not think about what other family secrets lurked in the shadows. Turning to the first page of the story, she ignored everything else.

Or tried. The rattle of wheels and thump of hooves tempted her to see who was coming and going. The smell of cake baking in the bread oven wafted past, teasing her nose. Her stomach rumbled, making her wish it was closer to dinner time. Another tweak to her empathic senses made her glance up, seeking the cause. Inwardly she shrugged. She wouldn’t actually see what caused the sensation. She returned her wayward eyes to the page and tried to absorb its contents, the reasons for why Scott had chosen the title name for the main character. She read the passage again but finally gave up with a sigh and let her gaze wander as she closed the book. So much for losing herself in an enchanting tale.

One of the many literary linked places we visited was Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Now he is not my all-time favorite author but I have read, enjoyed, and studied his work, making visiting his house a treat. The castle is absolutely stunning! I fell in love with his library which was immense and beautiful.

We had a brief tour on our way to Rydall Hall. I bought my copy of Waverly from the gift shop at Scott’s impressive home. My task assigned by my professor was to write a journal about my experiences, impressions, thoughts, hopes, whatever. That was the best idea ever because I have an immense notebook of my daily take on what we did and saw and experienced. I’m surprised that I didn’t actually write anything about Abbotsford in my journal despite having taken pictures of what I saw there. But I vividly remember how stunned I was by the library!

If you’re on NetGalley, Desperate Reflections is now available for download and to review. Look for it to release on May 11, 2021!

Can you believe it’s almost April already? This year is flying by for me. I guess I better get back to work.

See you next time. 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.

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. Her plan? Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues. When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

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You ate what? Wild edible plants in Amy’s Choice #AmRev #histfic #historical #romance #HistoricalRomance #fiction #books

I imagine by now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve realized a couple of things about me. First, I love to try new recipes, adapt old ones, and cook/bake in general. Second, that I am a huge fan of research and history. When I can combine those two? I’m in heaven! Then I write about what I’ve learned, putting it into my stories to bring it to life for my readers. Take for example the following excerpt from Amy’s Choice (A More Perfect Union Book 2). Oh, and before I get into the excerpt, Amy’s Choice is on sale this week for only $.99 at Amazon! Grab your copy before the sale ends on February 12!

So, in the following snippet, Amy and Samantha have ventured into the woods behind Amy’s sister’s house in the countryside surrounding Charleston, SC, in search of foods to include in their stew that is cooking back at the manor:

They walked along in silence for several minutes, Samantha constantly searching the underbrush for edible plants. Amy wished for a less active imagination at least for this one night. Stories of ghosts blended with her memories of the incidents she’d experienced in her life, occasions that confirmed the existence of spirits.

A spiderweb slipped across her face as she ducked a tree branch. Amy brushed at the nearly invisible thread spun by the unseen traveling spider. “Oh!”

“Chin up, Amy.” Samantha ducked under another limb and chuckled. “I won’t let anything harm you.”

“What do you expect to find growing in November anyway?” Amy trudged along, glancing to either side of the trail as slight rustlings sounded at her feet. Bursts of wind eddied leaves along the trail, hinting at ghostly footfalls behind her. A blur of motion drew her attention. Too big for a songbird and too silent for a man. A shiver wiggled down her back.

“Perhaps some lamb’s-quarters but most likely a good bit of chickweed to add nourishment to the rabbit.” Samantha paused and looked about her. “I wish it were spring, when there would be more variety of appetizing plants.”

“How do you know so much about these wild plants?” Amy glanced over her shoulder as another whirling dervish of leaves rose up behind her.

“My time with the Cherokee shaman taught me many things about survival,” Samantha murmured. “Ah, white pine will help us season the stew.”

“A pine?” Amy blinked in astonishment, noting the swift change in subject. “How?”

“The bark adds a very pleasant smoky flavor.” Samantha pushed through the low bushes to reach the tree in question and carefully pulled off some loose bits of bark and laid them in the basket before returning to the path. “That should do.”

“I never would have thought a tree would be part of my supper.” Amy shook her head as she trailed after Samantha’s retreating figure. “Your knowledge is impressive.”

“The woods are full of wonderfully nutritious plants if you know when to harvest which parts of them.” Samantha held a low branch for Amy to grasp, avoiding a nasty slap in the face. “Timing is the key.”

Now please know that I am not claiming to be any kind of expert on harvesting wild plants, and I’ve likely mischaracterized just how you go about harvesting and eating them. I’m sorry if that is the case! My goal is to tell a good story, not teach others about wild plants. With that caveat, let’s look at why I chose those three wild plants for them to be searching for. The simple answer? Because they had the widest chance of being available in the fall in the South.

Chickweed grows worldwide and most any time of the year if conditions are right, according to John Kallas, PhD, in his Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. It’s also highly nutritious, containing bunches of iron, zinc, and potassium, and tastes good to boot if you know how to harvest it properly.

He also sings the praises of wild spinach, or lamb’s-quarters, sharing that it is better than spinach in how much fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese. It also grows across the entire country, so the chances of it being where Samantha could find it were good.

Then you have that surprising (to me) ingredient of white pine. I mean, it’s not something I would have even guessed would be edible. But according to Will Brendza of the Skilled Survival site, it most definitely can be eaten and even save your life. If you’d like details on how to prepare and consume pine tree parts, visit Eating Pine – How to Eat A Pine Tree To Survive. He goes into great detail about making pine tea and how to cut and eat pine bark. Knowing that pine trees grow in the South, too, it seemed like a fitting ingredient for Samantha to harvest.

Of course, the other consideration before making my choices was which plants had been in the country during the time period (1782) of my series. All of these fit that criteria, as well.

So there you have it. A peek at my thought process and research for my stories.

One more thing to share with you all! The A More Perfect Union historical romance series is now available in audiobook format! I’ll include the link to Amy’s Choice audiobooks below.

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.

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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Audiobooks:
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