Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ghost Towns

What makes a ghost town? A friend bought a book about ghost towns at a thrift store and gave it to me knowing I like to use ghost towns in my books. But I had to laugh. The book was first printed in 1971 and it stated that a town my school (Jr. High and High School) played in sports was a tourist ghost town. I can attest they had enough people in the town and area to have a school as large as the one I attended. So why did they classify it as a tourist ghost town?

This set me on a quest to find out what the requirements are to be ranked a ghost town.

Merriam Webster definition
- ghost town: a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.

This I understand knowing how many towns sprouted up where gold and silver were found and then came to ruin when the ores played out.

Another ghost town in Oregon was Shaniko. A thriving town when wool and grain were shipped from there by train in the late 1800's and early 1900's. More railroad lines popped up across the state and people didn't have to bring their goods to Shaniko to be shipped and the town slowly died.

If towns had more than one resource to keep them prosperous they were lucky and thrived.

My thoughts on the "tourist" ghost town would be the fact when the lumber industry started deteriorating the community began in earnest to make the town appear older, more western and held staged bank robberies to gain revenue from tourists. While the town isn't really what you think of when you go looking for a ghost town with dilapidated buildings and old mine shafts, it is catering to the people who want a glimpse of what the rugged and lively west once was.

Do you have a "tourist" ghost town near you? What about a real ghost town?

Paty Jager

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Outlaws - Mary Surratt

In LADIES FIRST: History’s Greatest Female Trailblazers, Winners and Mavericks author Lynn Santa Lucia “celebrates some extraordinary women who have singularly and collectively cleared a path for other females to follow.” Most of these women were true heroes and role models. However, not all found fame in a positive manner. Mary Surratt (1823-1865) is a historical figure not for her constructive activities, but for being the first woman to be executed by the United States government for crimes against the country. (Pictured left)

Born in Waterloo, Maryland, Mary was educated at an all-girls seminary and married at the age of seventeen. She and her husband John had three children and purchased a farm in 1852. The two-story house on the property served as a home as well as a tavern for the community. The Surratt House became a prominent place to congregate for merchants, lawyers and politicians. With the on-set of the Civil War the house became a hub for Southern sympathizers in the Union state.

The war also brought a shortage money, as patrons couldn’t pay their bills. Then, in 1862, John died, leaving Mary under a mountain of debt. She was forced to lease the land and the house and move into a Washington, D.C. townhouse she owned. She converted the upper floor of the house into a boarding house to earn a small income. A frequent visitor to her boarding house was John Wilkes Booth, a friend of tenant Louis Weichmann and Mary’s son John, Jr.
(Surratt House)

On April 18, 1865, three days after Abraham Lincoln died Mary was arrested and charged with conspiracy to kill the President of the United States. The trial against her and seven co-conspirators started on May 9, 1865. The U.S. Attorney-General and President Andrew Johnson declared the actions of the conspirators a wartime act. Therefore, they were tried in a military tribunal, rather than a civil court.

Louis Weichmann was the lead witness against Mary. Though he described her as ‘lady-like in every particular” and ‘exemplary” in character, most of his testimony was very incriminating. He described conversations between himself, Booth and Mary, where the assassination plot was clearly discussed. Weichmann further testified that at the urging of Booth, he and Mary drove out to her former home, Surratt House, three days before the assassination and delivered “a package, done up in paper, about six inches in diameter.” Mary stayed in the house for two hours, during which time Weichmann observed her speaking to Booth. Another conversation between Mary and Booth took place shortly after they arrived back in Washington.

The most damaging testimony, however, came from John M. Lloyd, the man who leased Surratt House. Though Mary testified that she’d traveled to Surrattsville with Weichmann to collect rent, Lloyd said she collected nothing from him. Instead, she gave him a small package containing field glasses. She also instructed him to ready the two Spencer carbines that John, Jr. had left at the tavern several weeks earlier. The guns had been hidden under the joists in a second-floor room.

John Wilkes Booth, after shooting President Lincoln, stopped at Surratt House. Lloyd did as Mary had instructed him to do earlier that day. He handed over a pair of pistols, one of the Spencers and the field glasses.

The trial ended on June 28th, 1865. After a short deliberation, the verdicts were handed down: All eight were found guilty. Mary, along with three others, was sentenced to death. The other four were sentenced to prison.

Several appeals were made for leniency, but they fell on deaf ears. On July 7, 1865, the door to her cell opened and Mary was escorted past four freshly dug graves to a newly built gallows. Four nooses hung before her as she was joined by her three male conspirators. The men were prepared first as Mary sat in a chair and watched.

When her time came, her skirts were wrapped with cotton ties and her wrists were bound. She complained of the pain, but was told “it won’t hurt long.” Her hat and veil were removed and the noose placed around her neck. She was then placed on her spot above the hinged door, next to her male companions. At 1:22 p.m., Mary Surratt was executed.

More reading:

Spartacus Educational
Mary Surratt
Lincoln Conspiracy

So here's your chance to win a copy of LADIES FIRST.  Just leave a comment and you'll be elegible to win a copy of this wonderful resource book (hey, I've gottne at least 4 blog posts out of it already!).  I'll draw for a winner nest Sunday, the 26th, to give people a chance to stop by and visit.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writing Alternate History

I've been doing a lot of research on 19th century American history. Did you know that James Monroe died on July 4th? Everyone knows that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 4th, the same July 4th in 1826. Five years later, in 1831, James Monroe died on that day. He was the last president to serve who actually fought in the Revolutionary War. He was injured at Trenton, and is depicted holding the American flag in the famous painting Washington Crossing the Delaware. I find the fact that they all died on the 4th kind of eerie and yet fitting. Call me a sentimental American.

But James Monroe isn't the point of this blog. That was one of those, "But I digress," moments, when we run across some new little tidbit of historical trivia that captures our imagination. We all have them. I love American history. I have a graduate degree in it and taught it for ten years. So when I do research in American history I tend to have a lot of those moments; more so than when I research my Regency novels. And my love of American history is the problem.

I'm writing an alternate history science fiction book. That means that I have to pick and choose what historical facts I'm going to keep, and which I'm going to toss out in favor of the new history I'm creating. This is very, very hard for me. I'm trying to stay true to the heart and spirit of American history and not change the character of America while creating a wildly different historical path, one that impacts not just The United States, but most of the world.

First, I'm trying to make my alternate history logical. It started with a simple what if question. What if one event changes the course of world history? The event is the survival of one fictional man. A genius. And his inventions will change the map of the world. It's all very plausible. There are no aliens or paranormals running around. One man changes the course of history, and our book, (I'm co-writing with a partner), explores the implications of that on a small scale. By that I mean the book focuses on one group of people and one event, yet another event brought about by this one man that could again change the course of history. Our characters are trying to prevent it.

Another problem with writing the alternate history is that the historical events we use have to be recognizable. I'm not focusing on obscure events in history. I want our readers to know what's going on without having to do outside research of their own. So historical figures and places have to remain recognizable. That's part of the fun. When you're reading and go, "Wait! That's not what happened! Oh my gosh, how cool!" At least, that's what I want readers to say.

So how we filter actual historical figures and events through the lens of our alternate history is the key to plotting and writing this book. It's much harder than writing a straight historical. We don't want info dump, we want a logical progression of events, we want it to be believable, and we want the average reader to understand it. We're having to do a great deal more layering while writing this book than I've ever had to do with previous books.

Have you ever written, or read, an alternate history novel? What did you like about it? What drove you batty? I'd love to hear about your experiences with this genre.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Author One Sheets

Over the past few years the publishing industry has been going through growing pains as it is “morphing” into a new version of itself. At the Romance Writer’s National Conference in Orlando that I attended, almost every workshop had something to do with the changing industry and the role of the internet.

More and more editors and agents want to see email queries and proposals as they do their part in going “green.” Authors are expected to have a web site and promote their books through activity on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads...and a host of other sites. And the ebook is no longer a stepchild of the industry, but a serious, viable alternative to printed books.

As I gear up to go to the ACFW Conference, along with the clothes, business cards, and laptop, one of the things I will be taking along that I have not used in the past is a One Sheet. As I speak to editors and agents, a One Sheet is something I can hand out that will jog their memories of my pitch and of me. It is also something they can jot notes on of our conversation if they choose.

So just what exactly is a One Sheet?

It’s a condensed, comprehensive sales pitch — and there are two types for authors.
Author One Sheet – promotes yourself and your services (author, speaker, teacher)
Book One Sheet – promotes your book (s)

Things to include on both are:

· Genre – is it contemporary, historical, fantasy, speculative, non-fiction?

· Word count

· Contact information – including website and blogs

· Short biography of yourself

· Photo

For the Author One Sheet, include a short synopsis of your book (25 to 30 words.) And then include other services you provide. For example: online teaching, speaking at conferences or writing workshops.

For a Book One Sheet, include the short synopsis and then also a longer version that goes into more detail. With fiction, you would want to note the important plot points. For non-fiction, you would want to point out the topics. You can also include the target audience and how you intend to market this book.

Make your One Sheet as professional looking as you can. This means white, 8 ½ x 11 inch, paper. Use different fonts minimally to attract attention to the main areas, but stick to standard Times New Roman, 12 point for the main body. Keep things clean and concise.

One Sheets can be used for other business ventures as well. A quick search of One Sheets on-line will put a plethora of examples at your fingertips.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Legend of the Claddagh

There are so many myths and legends springing from the misty, romantic island of Ireland I can’t even count them. Some of my favorites include Finn MacCool and the Fianna, Oisin and the Land of the Ever Young, and the Children of Lir.

But my absolute favorite Irish story is the legend of the Claddagh Ring, Ireland’s unique symbol of friendship, loyalty and love.

The Claddagh ring dates back centuries to the small Galway fishing village of Claddagh. The word “Claddagh” comes from the Irish term An Cladach, meaning a flat, stony shore.

Richard Joyce, a native of the village, was captured by Algerians and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith. When William III of England demanded the release of all British subjects, Joyce, too, was released. The Moorish goldsmith offered Joyce a major portion of his wealth and his daughter in marriage, if Joyce would stay on in Algiers. Joyce refused the tempting offer and returned to the village of Claddagh. It was there he turned his skills to the creation of an emblem of love, friendship and loyalty: two hands (friendship) cradling a heart (love) topped by a crown (loyalty).

Wear the ring on the right hand, the crown turned inwards, and let the world know your heart is free. On the right hand, the crown turned outwards, and it’s clear love is being considered. But when it’s worn on the left hand, the crown turned outward, two loves have become inseparable.

In my novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, Rory O’Brien presents Siobhán Desmond with a Claddagh ring at their wedding:

When it came time for the ring, Rory’s voice echoed in her head, deep and loving. “Siobhán take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

It was then that she looked down at her finger, where Michael’s simple had rested until just that morning. In its place, Rory was sliding on a delicate scrap of silver. A design of two hands joined together to support a single heart, topped by a crown, symbolizing friendship, love and loyalty.

“Let love and friendship reign,” Siobhán murmured, touching the ring reverently as she quoted its motto.

I cherish my own Claddagh ring, given me by my husband as a birthday gift several years ago, as much as Siobhán.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Camels In The U, S, Desert Southwest

Library of Congress, only surviving photo of Camel Corp
Since I live in, write about, and love Texas, you won’t be surprised to learn that today’s post involves Texas history--but quickly extends to New Mexico, Arizona, and California. If you saw the 1976  movie  “Hawmps!” then you already know that the U.S. Government experimented with the effectiveness of camels in the Desert Southwest. The movie was hilarious, and very loosely based on fact. True, the movie guide calls "Hawmps!" a turkey, but my family enjoyed it. Or, you may have driven through Quartzite, Arizona have seen a monument to the camel experiment.

In 1855, the U.S. Congress, at the urging of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, authorized the importation of camels and dromedaries to be used for military purposes, and earmarked thirty thousand dollars for the experiment. Davis, a veteran of the war with Mexico, had seen considerable service in the Desert Southwest. Keenly aware of the role that camels had played over the centuries in the warfare of other nations, he believed that the strange beasts could be put to use in the United States as well.

Major Henry C. Wayne and Lieutenant David D. Porter departed for North Africa, where they were met by a third American, Gwinn Harris Heap, whose father had been the U.S. consul to Tunis for a number of years. They acquired thirty-three camels and dromedaries before departing for home in February 1856 on board the ship aptly named Supply.

The ocean voyage from the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar, and across the Atlantic was uneventful considering the fragile cargo. On May 14, 1856, the camels came ashore at Indianola, Texas. Reprts said the animals were frantically happy to be on land. I would be too after three months at sea! Ten acres of land had been set aside for them and a two-hundred-foot-long shed had been built to house them. Major Wayne decided first to acclimate the camels to the intense humidity of the Gulf Coast by letting them rest in a large corral.

Writing to Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, Navy Lieutenant Porter said, “We have lost on the voyage but one of those we purchased…and she died from no want of care, but because she was unable to produce her young one…We still have more than we started with, some young ones having been born on the passage, and are in fine condition. All the other camels I am happy to say have not received a scratch…They are looking a little shabby just now, most of them shedding their hair…but they are fat and in good health."

Three weeks later, the animals began first leg of the trip that would take them to San Antonio, Texas, on to El Paso, Albuquerque, and across the arid Southwest all the way to Fort Tejon, California. The camels performed extremely well. Capable of carrying loads of up to twelve hundred pounds—larger than a horse or mule could carry—the beasts lumbered along at a slow but steady pace.

The geat camel experiment eventually failed. With the advent of the Civil War, the personnel at Union garrisons in the Southwest scattered before the advancing Confederates. Some of the imported animals were set free and some were kept in captivity. The last known survivor died in a Los Angeles zoo in 1934--maybe. Even today people occasionally tell tales of seeing lone camels in remote corners of the Southwest.

The chief camel driver used for this experiment was Hadji Ali, known as Hi Jolly to the soldiers. Originally Hi Jolly's name was Philip Tedro, but the Greek-Syrian man converted to Islam and made the trip to Mecca. After the conclusion of the camel experiment, Hadji Ali used some of the freed camels for a freight business for a while, prospected, and tried various other occupations. Later he married a woman and settled down. He died in Quartzite, Arizona in 1902 at the age of 73. At his death, he still believed there were camels roaming loose in the desert. A monument to Hadji Ali in Quartzite AZ is shown below right on the site of his last camp.

What do you think? Do you believe small families of camels still roam the Desert Southwest? I like to think so, but then I'm a romance author.

Portions of this article came from James A. Crutchfield's bool, IT HAPPENED IN TEXAS, from Two Dot Press, Helena, Montana, published 1996.

Thanks for visiting with Seduced By History today.

Caroline Clemmons

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Pirate's House

On a recent trip to Savannah, GA, I had lunch at the Pirate's House Restaurant. The food was good and the atmosphere was even better. I love stepping back in time and walking, sitting (or eating and drinking) where people did hundreds of years ago. That was the case at the Pirate's House, which by the way did have a pirate in residence who was (almost) the spitting image of Captain Jack Sparrow. :)
The Pirate's House is divided up into 15 rooms for dining. We sat in the oldest section of the house, knows as the Herb House. It was built in 1734 and is said to be the oldest house in Georgia! It was originally used by the gardener of Trustees' Garden, an early Colonial experimental garden.

After the garden and Herb House were no longer needed, the building was added on to and turned into an inn for seamen since it is only a block from the Savannah River. Seamen and pirates gathered here to drink, party and tell outlandish tales.

Above is the view I was treated to during lunch... piked skulls sticking up from an old well. I have a feeling this courtyard is haunted! Many men were said to be "shanghaied" and forced to sail the seven seas. In order to complete their crews, captains would wait until the men at the inn passed out drunk... or sometimes they were drugged. They were then carried from the Pirate House in an underground tunnel to the ship. When the men woke up they'd be at sea. One Savannah police officer is said to have been shanghaied in this way and it took him two years to return from China.

The Pirate's House is supposed to be where some of the scenes in Treasure Island (by Robert Louis Stevenson) took place. It is said the house is still haunted by Captain Flint, who hid the treasure on Treasure Island and then died at the Pirate House.

It is a very popular resturant. We arrived at a good time and only had to wait a few minutes. As we left, dozens more people were waiting to be seated. Read a more detailed history.
There is still time to enter my Under the Kilt Contest. I will choose a winner Sept. 10.
And you can still register for my September Turn Up the Heat! Heightening Sexual Tension and sensuality writing workshop. It starts Sept. 6. To learn more or sign up please visit this workshop page.
I recently received an awesome reader review for Beast in a Kilt!
Do you like sexy Highlanders and erotic romance? Click here for a hot excerpt of Beast in a Kilt. (Adults only, please!) ;)