Release of “The Road to Understanding” with an Excerpt and a Giveaway

Back in 1984, I went into labor 5 weeks early in the middle of my Theatre/Acting class. That early delivery was the joy of my life, especially as I had lost two previous children.

TPB Cover (2) copy 2Over the April 16-17 weekend, I had another early delivery. This one was two weeks early in the form of a new release, an event often repeated in the publishing business. As we authors think of our books as our “babies,” I will admit I am delighted with the successful delivery of this latest one, but, like my son’s early appearance some 31 years prior, I was not ready (I was leaving instructions for my sub as they rolled me out the door on a stretcher.) Most authors try to space out their releases, and so I re-released The Pemberley Ball in early April, for The Road to Understanding was to be a Mother’s Day release. However, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

So, permit me to introduce you to my latest “baby.” What is the premise of The Road to Understanding, you may ask? First, it is a Pride and Prejudice vagary set on the American front in the late 1780s. The characters are NOT Darcy and Elizabeth, but you will recognize them, nonetheless. They are traveling from the Roanoke, Virginia, to Jonesborough, Tennessee, on The Great Valley Road (i.e., the use of “Road” in the title).

I am not of the persuasion that Austen writes character-driven stories. Do not get me wrong: Austen’s characters are some of the most memorable ever written. However, in my opinion, Austen writes plot-driven stories. Take Pride and Prejudice, for example. Austen’s most popular story has been rewritten in the form of Bridget Jones’s Diary, You’ve Got Mail, Unleashing Mr. Darcy, etc. That is what I have done in The Road to Understanding.

We have the customary characters in this new tale: Charlie Bradford is best friend to Darius Fitzwilliam. They served in the Revolutionary War together. We have the Harris family with three daughters, Jonquil, Eliza, and Margaret. Mr. Norville is the new minister. One of Eliza’s friends is Charlotte MacCaffey. Geoffrey Shannon is the son of the man who betrayed the Fitzwilliam family. Darius has a younger sister named Grace, while Charlie’s sister is Caroline. I have combined the character of Miss King and Lydia into Miss Kimble.


This is the “Meryton Assembly” scene from Chapter 2 of The Road to Understanding.

And so on Saturday evening, Darius stood along the wall of the main building in Wythe Court House and watched the Harris ladies and many of the locals he’d encountered on previous journeys to “civilization.” In addition to the farm with its new barn laid out some three miles from the newly minted county seat, the men had constructed a makeshift dance floor from the left over lumber. A wooden floor graced the lawn.

When he and Charlie had arrived, his friend made the proper introductions for the other Harrises. Charlie’s estimation of Miss Jonquil was accurate: The woman held the face of an angel, but Darius preferred the imperfection found in Miss Eliza’s countenance. As to many others enjoying the celebration, he viewed them as too young, mayhap not in years, but certainly in temperament.

“Come, Fitz,” Charlie declared as he saddled up beside Darius, ”you must dance. I dislike seeing you standin’ about in absolute righteousness. You’d be better off claimin’ the attentions of one of the ladies. My sister’s hold on you no longer exists.”

“I am well situated, Charlie. Enjoy the music and the activity. You know I’m not much of a dancer. Even if Miss Bradford were in attendance, I’d be happy to claim my place along the wall. Moreover, I prefer to hold a longer acquaintance with a woman before I pay court.”

Charlie’s frown lines deepened. “Opportunities to take the acquaintance of eligible young women be few, Fitz. We’ll not encounter so many fine lookin’ women in one place any time soon.”

“You’ve danced with the fairest of the brood,” Darius teased.

“Oh, she’s the most beautiful creature I ever beheld,” Charlie pronounced with enthusiasm.

It stung Darius’s pride to view Charlie staring in the direction of where Miss Eliza spoke to her sisters.

“She made no notice of my missin’ hand when I partnered her, simply placed her hand on my stump. No repulsion whatsoever,” Charlie revealed. “As if it didn’t matter.”

“I told you so for the past decade,” Darius reminded his friend.

Charlie grinned widely. “It’s not as if your opinion doesn’t make a squat, but it’s different when a fine lady treats a man with respect.”

At least Miss Eliza had treated Charlie as Darius hoped. “Then you best be at it. The music will start again soon; you don’t want another to claim your prize.”

“Are you certain you’ll not join the set?” Charlie implored. “I mean again to claim Miss Jonni as partner, but there are several other very pleasant girls among the Harrises’ acquaintances.”

“You’ll claim the prettiest girl at the party,” Darius added his encouragement. “How might I compete with your engaging conversation?”

“Miss Eliza has yet to claim a partner for the next tune?” Charlie suggested. “You could do worse.”

Darius’s heart stuttered with the possibility. What would it be to hold the woman’s hand? To claim refreshments with Miss Eliza upon his arm? To escort her into the dark and to steal a kiss?

Without considering the ramifications, he turned to look upon Miss Eliza, until, catching her eye, Darius withdrew his own. Before responding to Charlie, he paused to will the desire from his blood.

“The girl’s tolerable, but not to my nature. I’m in no humor to pay attendance upon any woman this evening, especially one that thinks herself some sort of female equal to the men she meets. Less than a week prior, I considered myself engaged to your sister. Enjoy your many partners and their smiles. You waste your time with me.”

Charlie followed Darius’s advice. Unfortunately, when Darius turned toward the refreshment table, he didn’t notice that Miss Eliza and Miss MacCaffey had moved to within hearing distance of his conversation with Charlie. Darius didn’t witness the flush of color, which claimed the lady’s cheeks, nor did he note how her shoulders stiffened with his remark.

“I’m sorry for Mr. Fitzwilliam’s unthinking remark,” Charlotte MacCaffey said in regret.

Eliza swallowed the hurt: She’d never realized how much harm words could cause. “Think nothin’ of it,” she told her newest friend.

Eliza had liked Miss MacCaffey from the moment of their first meeting. The girl was a bit older than Jonni and not of the most handsome features, but Eliza found much to admire. Miss MacCaffey was well read and held astute opinions. Eliza felt as if they’d known each other forever.

“It’s not as if I wish Mr. Fitzwilliam’s approval.”

“I suppose men of his ilk only look to a woman’s station. My father says Mr. Fitzwilliam’s father is quite wealthy–the man owns more land than fifty others combined.”

Eliza’s eyebrow rose in curiosity. “I didn’t realize.” The concept perplexed her. She’d known other wealthy farmers and tradesmen, but none who’d chosen to ignore her as if she were an indentured servant. “And what of Miss Bradford? Wasn’t Mr. Fitzwilliam to marry Mr. Bradford’s sister?”

“Oh, yes, but the lady married another. Rumors say Miss Bradford didn’t wish to live in the wilderness. As to the woman’s brother, Papa says Mr. Bradford be quite wealthy also. Not as much as the younger Mr. Fitzwilliam, but near half. The elder Bradford owned a large mercantile. Supplied much of what the troops required in the war. One of the fortunate ones. Got paid regular for his efforts.”

“A person would never know the man wealthy,” Eliza remarked as she studied her sister Jonni in close conversation with Bradford. For a moment, she wondered if Jonquil held any knowledge of Mr. Bradford’s being more than another frontiersman, but Eliza quickly rejected the idea. Jonni wasn’t the type to practice feminine deceptions. “Mr. Fitzwilliam may hold double the income of his friend, but the man isn’t so well worth listening to as be Mr. Bradford. Fortune isn’t a man’s only redeeming quality.”

ATOV CoverBack Cover:

DARIUS FITZWILLIAM’s life is planned down to who he will marry and where he will live, but life has a way of saying, “You don’t get to choose.” When his marriage to his long-time betrothed Caroline Brad

ford falls through, Darius is forced to take a step back and to look upon a woman who enflames his blood with desire, but also engenders disbelief. Eliza Harris is everything that Darius never realized he wanted.

ELIZA HARRIS is accustomed to doing as she pleases. Yet, despite being infuriated by his authoritative manner, when she meets the staunchly disciplined Captain Fitzwilliam, she wishes for more. She instinctively knows he is “home,” but Eliza possesses no skills in achieving her aspirations.

Plagued with misunderstandings, manipulations, and peril upon the Great Valley Road between eastern Virginia and western Tennessee in the years following the Revolutionary War, Darius and Eliza claim a strong allegiance before love finds its way into their hearts.

This is a faith-based tale based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Purchase Links:

Kindle        Kobo         Nook      Amazon      CreateSpace   


Posted in American History, Appalachia, book excerpts, book release, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Vagary | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Roger Sherman, Signer of the Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the U. S. Constitution

searchIn 1723, when Sherman was 2 years of age, his family relocated from his Newton, MA, birthplace to Dorchester (present Stoughton). As a boy, Roger read widely in his spare time to supplement his minimal education at a common school. Sherman received his early education from his father’s private library (not formal school), later attending grammar school. Sherman was a gifted learner, and Harvard educated Rev. Samuel Dunbar took him on as a study. But he spent most of his waking hours helping his father with farming chores and learning the cobbler’s trade from him. In 1743, 2 years after his father’s death, Sherman joined an elder brother who had settled in New Milford, CT.

In 1743, Sherman moved, together with his siblings and his mother, to New Milford (a 175 mile trek) for his father’s death in 1741 left the family destitute. His elder brother had already established himself in New Milford, and so the family had no other options. Not long after the move, he had business in a neighboring town. A short time before, a neighbor had told Roger of a pending legal difficulty. As there was an attorney practicing in the town that Roger intended to visit, he agreed to visit the attorney on his friend’s behalf, convey the points in the dispute, and obtain some legal advice.

roger_shermanBecause the subject was complex, Roger had written some fairly detailed notes to assist his memory. When he arrived at the attorney’s office, he stated the case while referring to the notes he had written. The attorney was impressed with the clarity and style of Roger’s manuscript, and said that, with just a few minor changes, it would be equal to any statement of the case he could write himself. The attorney then encouraged young Roger to seriously consider becoming an attorney. At about that time, Roger began a personal study of the law, though he was still very much occupied with the responsibilities of caring for his mother and younger siblings. Not long after, he thought it advisable to leave the shoemaking trade and enter into a business partnership with his older brother, who ran a general store, the first store in the town. Sherman quickly became one of the town’s leading citizens after introducing himself to both civil and religious affairs. Eventually, he became New Milford’s clerk. In 1745, he became a surveyor due to his excellent mathematical skills. At the age of 24 he was appointed to the position of county surveyor for Litchfield county.  As an avid astronomer, he made astronomical calculations for an almanac that was published in New York.In 1748, he was a provider of astronomical calculations for almanacs of the day.

urlA local lawyer urged Sherman to read for the bar exam even though he did not have any formal training. Sherman was later admitted to the Litchfield bar in 1754 and acted as a representative of New Milford in the General assembly of Connecticut between 1755 and 1758 and again from 1760 to 1761. Sherman was elected to the Upper House of the Connecticut General Assembly and served there until 1785.

In 1762, Sherman received an appointment to serve in the Court of Common Pleas as a justice of the peace, moving on to become a Judge in 1765. Eventually, he left the court for the Congress of the United States in 1789. He also served as a treasurer in Yale College where he received an honorary Masters in Arts degree. He was appointed together with Richard Law to participate in revising Connecticut statutes. After succeeding in these revisions, Sherman was elected as a New Haven’s mayor in 1784. He held this position until his death.

Purchasing a store, becoming a county surveyor, and winning a variety of town offices, Sherman prospered and assumed leadership in the community. In 1749 he married Elizabeth Hartwell, by whom he had seven children (two died in infancy). Without benefit of a formal legal education, he was admitted to the bar in 1754 and embarked upon a distinguished judicial and political career. In the period 1755-61, except for a brief interval, he served as a representative in the colonial legislature and held the offices of justice of the peace and county judge. Somehow he also eked out time to publish an essay on monetary theory and a series of almanacs incorporating his own astronomical observations and verse.

In 1761, Sherman abandoned his law practice, and moved to New Haven, CT. There, he managed two stores, one that catered to Yale students, and another in nearby Wallingford. He also became a friend and benefactor of Yale College, and served for many years as its treasurer. In 1763, or 3 years after the death of his first wife, he wed Rebecca Prescott, who bore him eight children.

Meanwhile, Sherman’s political career had blossomed. One such post was serving as the first mayor for New Haven. He rose from justice of the peace and county judge to an associate judge of the Connecticut Superior Court and to representative in both houses of the colonial assembly. Although opposed to extremism, he promptly joined the fight against Britain. He supported non-importation measures and headed the New Haven committee of correspondence.

Sherman was a longtime and influential member of the Continental Congress (1774-81 and 1783-84). He also served on the Five Committee that was responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence and aided in the Articles of Confederation, as well as those concerned with Indian affairs, national finances, and military matters. To solve economic problems, at both national and state levels, he advocated high taxes rather than excessive borrowing or the issuance of paper currency. In addition, he served as a new republic’s senator and representative. 

While in Congress, Sherman remained active in state and local politics, continuing to hold the office of judge of the Connecticut Superior Court, as well as membership on the council of safety (1777-79). In 1783 he helped codify Connecticut’s statutory laws. The next year, he was elected mayor of New Haven (1784-86).

Although on the edge of insolvency, mainly because of wartime losses, Sherman could not resist the lure of national service. In 1787 he represented his state at the Constitutional Convention, and attended practically every session. Not only did he sit on the Committee on Postponed Matters, but he also probably helped draft the New Jersey Plan and was a prime mover behind the Connecticut, or Great Compromise, which broke the deadlock between the large and small states over representation. He was, in addition, instrumental in Connecticut’s ratification of the Constitution.

Roger Sherman and Robert Morris were the only two Founding Fathers to have signed all four of the great papers in the United States. These are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation and the Articles of Association.

Sherman concluded his career by serving in the U.S. House of Representatives (1789-91) and Senate (1791-93), where he espoused the Federalist cause. He died at New Haven in 1793 at the age of 72 and is buried in the Grove Street Cemetery.

Much of the text and details above comes from these wonderful Resources: 

“A Biography of Roger Sherman,” American History from Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond.

“Roger Sherman, Connecticut,” Constitution Day.

“Roger Sherman,” Teaching American History.

“Roger Sherman,” The Roger Sherman Society.

Posted in America, American History, British history, history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Do You Know of Gail Borden, American Inventor of “Condensed Milk”?

borden people/borden.htm Gail Borden

Born November 9, 1801 in New York state, Borden spent parts of his childhood in New York, Kentucky, and Indiana. When his father expressed a desire for more fertile lands than he owned in New York, the elder Borden made the long wagon trek to Indiana. In twenty, Gail had finished school and taught school for two years. He excelled at arithmetic and became as surveyor. He and his brother Tom took a flatboat loaded with supplies for settlers down the Mississippi to New Orleans in the summer of 1822, where he learned of the opening of Texas to Americans. He and Tom met Stephen F. Austin and learned more of the new frontier.
Tom joined Austin’s famed “300 families” and moved to Texas, but Gail’s health did not permit Gail’s following his brother. He remained in Mississippi, where he met 16-year-old Penelope Mercer, whom he married. In 1829, Gail packed up his family to follow Tom to Texas. Gail was granted a Spanish league (4428 acres) of land along the Colorado River. After spending some time farming and raising stock, Borden replaced his brother as official surveyor in Austin’s colony, headquartered at San Felipe. He then represented San Felipe at the Convention of 1833. It was at the convention for statehood that he met Sam Houston.
Tom joined Austin’s volunteers when war broke out, while Gail remained behind to assume Austin’s place and more importantly, to publish a newspaper that would rally support for the cause. With Joseph Baker and his brother Thomas as partners, Borden launched theTelegraph and Texas Register, a newspaper that would serve as the voice of the government of the Republic of Texas after the revolution. He wrote the history of Texas as it was being made. He printed the battle cry of the new republic: Remember the Alamo!  When Santa Anna claimed Harrisburg, he burned Gail’s print shop and threw the press into the river.
President Sam Houston appointed Gail tax collector for the Port of Galveston and a year later he became Secretary and General Agent for the Galveston City Company. After serving as collector of customs at the port of Galveston in the early days of the Republic, Borden turned his energies to Galveston real estate. As agent for the Galveston City Company throughout the 1840s, he helped sell 2500 lots that developed the island into the largest city in Texas during the later part of the nineteenth century. He now had time to work on some ideas of his own.

The Return of the Land Schooner

One such idea was a condensed food product that would last for a long period of time. One evening at dinner, Gail and Penelope served condensed soup, condensed foods, fruits, and extracts. His guests firmly refused a second helping. After dinner, he treated his guests to a ride in a “land schooner.” The vehicle harnessed the wind and skittered across the beach. The women screamed for him to stop the vehicle. He applied the rudder the wrong way. The schooner splashed into the water, turned on its side, and skidded to a stop, dumping all the passengers in the water.
Gail and Penelope had six children, but in 1844, yellow fever swept Galveston. Gail’s four-year old son died in March and Penelope in September. He lost another son two years later, and Gail never quite recovered from the losses.
When gold was discovered in California, the party heading west asked Gail to make them a nutritious meat extract they could use along the trail. Gail based his product upon “pemmican,” an Indian product that was made from buffalo meat or venison. [The meat was dried in the sun, pounded into a fine powder and mixed into melted fat. The Indian concoction held a strong, unpleasant taste.] Gail’s “meat biscuit” held a more palatable taste. The gold seekers purchased 600 pounds of the product.
Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, the Arctic explorer, used the biscuits on an expedition. In 1851, the expedition was awarded the Great Council Medal at the International Exhibition in London. Tom and Gail built a meat biscuit plant in Galveston. Gail traveled to Washington in hopes of selling the product to the American war office, but the officials scoffed at the idea. Efforts to market the biscuits commercially also failed. The venture sent Gail Borden deeply into debt.
a6aae4596650f28b5fb0f213d3fa6b30On board a ship returning from the 1851 London Exhibition, Gail witnessed several children dying when the two cows on board ship took sick. Recognizing the need for a better means to deliver fresh milk to the populace, Borden applied a process he had viewed among a Shakers community in New Lebanon, New York. The Shakers used a vacuum pan when they condensed sugar, fruit juice, and extracts. He experimented with the process until created a milk that lasted for three days before it began to turn sour. He applied for a patent, but it was denied when the Patent Commissioner said there was “nothing new” in the process.
Unfortunately, Gail was deep in debt and a long experimental stage for the milk product was be too expensive. Two friends stepped in to help: Robert McFarlane, discoverer of dyeing processes and editor of the Scientific American and Dr. John H. Curried, head of an important laboratory offered to test Gail’s claims. The patent was issued on 19 August 1856. Two months later the world’s first condensed milk factory opened in Wolcottville, Connecticut.
Again, the venture was a failure. New York City customers accustomed to the watered output of “swill milk dairies” – doctored with chalk for whiteness and molasses for “creaminess” – found Gail Borden’s pure condensed milk strange and rejected it. Gail dejectedly returned to Texas.
New.Magic_.Back_He reestablished a working relationship with his former partners. They set up business in an abandoned mill at Burrville, Connecticutt under the name “Gail Borden Jr. and Company.” Again, Gail’s timing was bad for 1857 was the year of the Panic. The Panic of 1857 was a financial panic in the United States caused by the declining international economy and over-expansion of the domestic economy.
Fortunately, Gail met Jeremiah Milbank, a wholesale grocer and banker. Milbank took an interest in Gail’s invention and in Gail’s honest character. They became partners. Milbank bought out Gail’s previous partners. Milbank and Borden opened the New York Condensed Milk Company in February 1858. The first samples were carried from house to house. Next, Borden’s Condensed Milk was ladled out from 40-quart cans pushed through New York streets on a hand-cart. When Gail began canning the milk it lasted indefinitely and could be shipped worldwide. Gail Borden “pasteurized” milk long before Louis Pasteur.
When Frank Leslie, editor of Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper led a campaign against the “swill milk,” Borden benefited. The Civil War brought more success for the company with an order for 500 pounds of condensed milk, but it brought personal sorrow. His son John Gail joined a New York regiment and his son Henry Lee a Texas Cavalry unit. Gail built several plants during the war. Demand ran ahead of production.
Borden_Condensed_Milk_1898Many competitors set up their own business. One actually adopted the “Borden” trademark. Gail Borden was forced to create the “Eagle Brand” trademark. At the end of the Civil War, Gail relinquished his duties to John Gail, home from the war. Gail returned to Texas. There he and Henry Lee, who also survived the war, revived the meat biscuit factory in what is now Borden, Texas. He died on 11 January 1874. Gail Borden is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, north of Manhattan. The epitaph reads: “I tried and failed, I tried again and again, and and succeeded.”




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Do You Know These Words and Phrases?

These are some of the words and phrases I have encountered of late while reading. Some I knew the meaning and some I did not. Even when I knew the meaning, I was interested in the word’s origin or how it came into the language. 

From the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, we find the following for Trumpery Ring: 1. Deceit; fraud. [Obs.]; 2. Grenewey Something serving to deceive by false show or pretense; falsehood; deceit; worthless but showy matter; hence,things worn out and of no value; rubbish. Example: The trumpery in my house, go bring it hither, for state to catch these thieves. -Shakespeare (or) Example: Upon the coming of Christ, very much, though not all, of this idolatrous trumpery and superstition was driven out of the world.-from a Robert South sermon. 3. Worthless or deceptive in character. “A trumpery little ring.” -Thackeray.

Escaramuza is the Spanish word for skirmish. I was fascinated to how it has come to mean: Girl in escaramuza dress, the female counterpart to a charro. Wordnik gives us this example: As early enthusiasts became more proficient at riding, they began beefing up the speed and intricacy of their drill routines, giving rise to a new and more descriptive label for the art — escaramuza — the Spanish word for skirmish.

Abrigado also comes to us from Spanish. The Oxford Dictionary provides us with these meanings:  sheltered, as a bay sheltered or protected from the wind (un rincón abrigado del frío/de la lluvia); a sheltered spot out of the cold/the rain.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue tells us that Corkbrained means lightheaded or foolish, the Merriman Webster Dictionary says Saphead means a weak-minded or stupid person and Madcap mean marked by capriciousness, recklessness, or foolishness. 

I discovered lots of examples of the phrase Cross-and-Jostle Work, but no actual definition. Mayhap someone reading this post, might help. There is a very sexual reference on Urban Dictionary, but I refuse to believe those who wrote the following examples had vibrating buttocks in mind.

From Kasey Michaels and Alphabet Regency Romance Complete Box Set in The Somerville Farce, we find “Andy nodded vigorously. ‘Cross-and-jostle work, the fella we met called it, isn’t that right, Willie, my good friend? Yes, that was it, prime cross-and-jostle work.” 

From Exercises, Political and Others, Volume 6 by Thomas Perronet Thompson, we find a different example: “Two men will not starve when one will suffice, a highly laudable species of economy. The landlords limit the food that shall be there to eat; and because there would be no use in two thousand men agreeing to die upon half the food that can keep soul and body together, they either toss up for it or play a cross-and-jostle match and one thousand lives while the other dies.” 

Meanwhile, The English Spy: An Original Work, Characteristic, Satirical, and Humorous, Volume 2 by Charles Molloy Westmacott provides us with this example: “Optimus: What, cross-and-jostle work again? A second edition of Virginia Water? But I thought you felt assured that Cannon would not do wrong for the wealth of Windsor Castle.”

Merriman-Webster Dictionary provides these two meanings for Nabob:  a provincial governor of the Mogul empire in India; 2:  a person of great wealth or prominence. Meanwhile, The Free Dictionary gives us these three meanings for Flummery1. Meaningless or deceptive language; humbug. 2. a. Any of several soft, sweet, bland foods, such as custard. b. A sweet gelatinous pudding made by straining boiled oatmeal or flour. c. A soft dessert of stewed, thickened fruit, often mixed with a grain such as rice. I recognized the first definition, but the second. Needless to say, Dandified means greatly concerned with smartness of dress.

neckclothitania-1818.gifDid you know that Trone d’ amour is a style of cravat. The Trone d’AmourThe The trone d’Amour is the most austere after the Oriental Tie – It must be extremely well stiffened with starch. It is formed by one single horizontal dent in the middle. Colour, Yeux de fille en extase.

There are rumors that A Whole Ball of Wax is derived from workers at Madame Tussauds, but this seems a bit contrived. I have also heard that it is derived from the term the whole bailiwick. 

World Wide Words tells us, “What we do know is that the whole ball of wax is everything and so essentially means the same as other American expressions such as the whole nine yards, the whole shooting match, the whole megillah, the whole shebang and the whole enchilada. Until recently, its first appearance was in the ninth edition of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary of 1953 and was assumed to be of that period. It turns out to be much older.

“We can dismiss the Madame Tussaud’s connection out of hand. It’s the product of an unoriginal mind which has linked wax with waxworks and done the equivalent of making two and two equal five.

“Another story appeared in William and Mary Morris’s book The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. They quote an English legal text from 1620 which describes the allocation of land among the heirs to an estate by a process very much like a lottery. Each parcel of land was listed on its own piece of paper, sealed inside a small ball of wax, and placed in a hat. Each heir then pulled out one of the balls to discover which part was his. The Morrises were strangely credulous about a link between this process and the expression in view of the nearly 400-year and more than 3,000-mile gap between that description and the then first known appearance of the phrase. Whatever the origin, this isn’t it.

“A graphic artist claims he heard the following during a seminar on typography: the phrase comes from typesetting. He was told that, in the days when type was made of metal, small pieces of gold would flake off the typesetting equipment. The typesetter would collect the gold flakes in a ball of wax to later melt down and reclaim the gold. Very often, someone would make off with the whole ball of wax. However, I can’t find a reference anywhere to that method having been used to gather up flakes of waste gold.

51XPGxNbneL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“I did find what seemed to be a clue to its origins, in a disintegrating paperback in my library — a science-fiction novel of 1954 by Shepherd Mead, who two years before had written How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Called The Big Ball of Wax, it’s a futuristic satire on business and advertising in America and contains this line from the narrator, a market research man, about the story to come: ‘Well, why don’t we go back to the beginning and roll it all up, as the fellows say, into one big ball of wax?’, that is, put everything together to make a coherent and complete whole. This sounds too much like a fuller and less elliptical early version of the saying to be a coincidence.

“However, many old newspapers have now been digitised, so that they can he readily searched electronically. This has thrown up a number of much older appearances of the phrase. The earliest found so far is from the Atlanta Constitution of 25 April 1882: ‘We notice that John Sherman & Co. have opened a real estate office in Washington. Believing in his heart of hearts that he owns this country, we will be greatly surprised if Mr. Sherman does not attempt to sell out the whole ball of wax under the hammer.’ Another a few months later was in the Indiana Democrat: ‘The Democrats can beat the ‘whole ball of wax’ this season.’ (Note the quotation marks enclosing the expression, a good sign that it was regarded as rather too recently coined or colloquial to be admitted to full membership of the language.)

“The origin has been taken back so far that it is beginning to look as though another often-told story might be the right one. It is said that whole ball of wax is a humorous modification of whole bailiwick, perhaps because of a mental association between bail and ball, and between wick and candle wax.”

Thrasonical (Pronounced /θrəˈsɒnɪkəl/) “should be put in the category of educated insults, since only those who have swallowed the dictionary or know Latin literature understand what it means. A thrasonical person is a braggart. The original was a former soldier named Thraso, a character in the play Eunuchus (The Eunuch), which was written in 161 B. C. and became the most popular of the six by the writer whom we know as Terence.

“Thrasonical started to appear in English in the sixteenth century, in time for Shakespeare to put it into the mouth of Rosalind in As you Like It. She describes Julius Caesar’s famous assertion veni, vidi, vici (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) as a thrasonical brag.

“These days, its most frequent appearances are in a widely-reproduced bit of advice to aspiring authors or public speakers: ‘Let your conversation possess a clarified conciseness, compacted comprehensibleness, coalescent consistency, and a concatenated cogency. Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement, and asinine affectations. Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility, without rhodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabical profundity, pompous prolixity, and ventriloquial vapidity. Shun double-entendre and prurient jocosity, whether obscure or apparent. In other words, speak truthfully, naturally, clearly, purely, but do not use large words.’ – Notes and Queries, 11 Feb. 1893.

“In an idle moment, I set out to trace this to its origin. It turns out to be a hardy perennial, which became popular on both sides of the Atlantic from the 1880s on, appearing regularly in magazines and newspapers. The earliest unearthed so far is in the Pennsylvania School Journal of 1874. It is surely older still. You may feel that both thrasonical brag and thrasonical bombast are tautological. I couldn’t possibly disagree.” (World Wide Words)

The last one for today is Shemozzle (Pronounced /ʃɪˈmɒz(ə)l) “is a state of confusion and chaos. It might simply be a muddle, or it could be a ruckus, row, quarrel or loud commotion.” Agatha Christie used it in The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (1962): “No end of a shemozzle there’s been there lately,” he said. “Marina Gregg’s been having hysterics most days. Said some coffee she was given was poisoned.”

World Wide Words says the word appears to be of Yiddish origin, “fitting the pattern of a group of terms that that are best known in American English through the influence of Yiddish-speaking immigrants: schlock, schlemiel, schmaltz, schlepper, schmuck, schlimazel. (Much variation exists in the way they are spelled.) However, many of these are known earlier in the speech of German immigrants to Britain.

“Shemozzle grew up as part of the slang of London’s East End more than a century ago, a creation of bookmakers and racecourse touts. Jonathon Green has found early examples of shemozzle in articles by the racing journalist Arthur Binstead, who penned ‘gloriously non-PC’ columns in the Sporting Times at the end of the nineteenth century under the pseudonym “Morris the Mohel.” (A mohel is a person who is qualified to perform the Jewish rite of circumcision.)

Shemozzle has since spread around the world: “‘The money is starting to dry up. … I’m now fighting to get anything. They are not responding to my emails. It’s been a shemozzle, a complete and utter waste of time and money.’ – Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Feb. 2010.

“Leo Rosten denied in The Joys of Yiddish that it [shemozzle] had any connection with that language, and others argue similarly that it was invented in imitation of other Yiddish words, but isn’t one.

“Some references cautiously suggest that it was loosely based on the Yiddish slim mazel, which became schlimazel in the U. S. Yiddish was originally a German dialect whose vocabulary includes lots of Hebrew words. Slim mazel is a good example: slim is old German, meaning “crooked”, while mazel is from Hebrew mazzal, a star or planet, though its main meaning is “luck”. So slim mazel may be translated as “crooked luck”, roughly the opposite of the Yiddish mazel tov, good luck. But how that changed to mean a rumpus is far from obvious.

Picture-1-300x289“Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” What does this strange sentence mean? At the start of each episode, Laverne and Shirley are seen skipping down the street, arm in arm, reciting a Yiddish-American hopscotch chant: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This then leads into the series’ theme song which is entitled “Making Our Dreams Come True” and is performed by Cyndi Grecco.

schlemiel : an inept clumsy person; a bungler; a dolt (Yiddish shlemil)

schlimazel : a chronically unlucky person (שלימזל shlimazl, from Middle High German slim ‘crooked’ and Hebrew מזל mazzāl ‘luck’) (OED)

Hasenpfeffer (also spelled hasenfeffer) is a traditional German stew made from marinated rabbit or hare. Pfeffer is not only the name of a spice, but also of a dish where the animal’s blood is used as a gelling agent for the sauce.

Posted in language, language choices, vocabulary, word choices, word choices, word origins, word play | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Mr. Darcy Is Too “Proud.” But Is Darcy the Only Character Who Is Too Proud in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”?

As most of you are likely to realize by now, I am a “whole brained” individual, which means that although I adore the fine arts, I still possess a very analytical brain. You’ll find me solving word puzzles and sodokus equally. In fact, numbers and statistics are a hidden pleasure. [Did I ever mention that I began my college career as a math major? In fact, if not for a poorly placed professor, who knew little of teaching and less of mathematics, I might have taken a different career choice. My high school teachers of Huntington High School taught rings around the woman. Thank you Mrs. Castleberry and Mrs. Stanley! But I have digressed.] So here’s another of my meticulous posts where I count the use of key words in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I hope you enjoy this one. 

If you have ever read Jane Austen’s masterpiece, you are aware that Mr. Darcy is too “Proud.” But is Darcy the only character who is too Proud in Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” And like we found with “prejudice” are there different types of “Pride”? 

When the reader is first introduced to Mr. Darcy in Chapter 3, we learn this of the man: “The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.” 

Also, in Chapter 3, the residents of Meryton contrast Mr. Bingley’s lively and unreserved nature to that of Mr. Darcy. “He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again.” 

Elizabeth’s opinion of the Bingley sisters is not favorable. “They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited.” Chapter 4

keira-in-pride-and-prejudice-keira-knightley-570965_1280_554In Chapter 5, Charlotte Lucas defends Mr. Darcy to the Bennets, especially to Elizabeth. Charlotte seems to think Mr. Darcy’s demeanor was a result of his upbringing. “One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. “If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.” 

Personally, I love this next quote. It was one of the first that rang true when I read “Pride and Prejudice” at the ripe old age of 12. In this one, again, Charlotte Lucas does not view being proud as a “sin” against good manners. “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” Chapter 5

Also in Chapter 5, Charlotte’s younger brother aspires to be called proud if he can have Mr. Darcy’s supposed fortune. “If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy,” cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, “I should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine a day.” 

a2e33ba5-83d2-4144-8b95-6c277795909cDarcy and Bingley enjoy a bit of a tease regarding the lack of legibility of Mr. Bingley’s writing, especially as it applies to letter writing. Darcy accuses Bingley of “the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” When Bingley ask which is the greater offense, Darcy responds with,“The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which, if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting. The power of doing anything with quickness is always prized much by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance.” Chapter 10

In Chapter 14, we are introduced to Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mr. Collins defends his patroness. “She had also asked him twice to dine at Rosings, and had sent for him only the Saturday before, to make up her pool of quadrille in the evening. Lady Catherine was reckoned proud by many people he knew, but he had never seen anything but affability in her.” 

In Chapter 16, Wickham weaves his tale of woe and how the elder Mr. Darcy esteemed him. If Elizabeth had not been looking for another reason to dislike Darcy, she might have realized the “holes” in Wickham’s tale. “How strange!” cried Elizabeth. “How abominable! I wonder that the very pride of this Mr. Darcy has not made him just to you! If from no better motive, that he should not have been too proud to be dishonest — for dishonesty I must call it.” 

When Elizabeth cannot quite believe Mr. Wickham’s defamation of Mr. Darcy, Wickham explains his criticism as such, “Yes. It has often led him to be liberal and generous, to give his money freely, to display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor. Family pride, and filial pride — for he is very proud of what his father was — have done this.” Chapter 16

Mr. Wickham does not stop with his disdain for Darcy. He also speaks poorly of Georgiana Darcy. Needless to say, Elizabeth did not hold knowledge of Wickham’s attempted seduction of the girl. Wickham sounds reasonable. What is not to be believed? He shook his head. “I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy. But she is too much like her brother — very, very proud. As a child, she was affectionate and pleasing, and extremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and hours to her amusement.” Chapter 16

 Mrs. Gardiner plays into Mr. Wickham’s hands. Elizabeth’s aunt holds some knowledge of the Darcys from her time in Lambton. “Mrs. Gardiner had seen Pemberley, and known the late Mr. Darcy by character perfectly well. Here consequently was an inexhaustible subject of discourse. In comparing her recollection of Pemberley with the minute description which Wickham could give, and in bestowing her tribute of praise on the character of its late possessor, she was delighting both him and herself. On being made acquainted with the present Mr. Darcy’s treatment of him, she tried to remember some of that gentleman’s reputed disposition when quite a lad which might agree with it, and was confident at last that she recollected having heard Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy formerly spoken of as a very proud, ill-natured boy.” Chapter 25

9fa4a94ee161914ca31b388658396954By the end of Chapter 36, Elizabeth has read Darcy’s letter often enough to give him credit for the honor in which he acted. “How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! His attentions to Miss King were now the consequence of views solely and hatefully mercenary; and the mediocrity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at anything. His behaviour to herself could now have had no tolerable motive; he had either been deceived with regard to her fortune, or had been gratifying his vanity by encouraging the preference which she believed she had most incautiously shown. Every lingering struggle in his favour grew fainter and fainter; and in farther justification of Mr. Darcy, she could not but allow Mr. Bingley, when questioned by Jane, had long ago asserted his blamelessness in the affair; that proud and repulsive as were his manners, she had never, in the whole course of their acquaintance — an acquaintance which had latterly brought them much together, and given her a sort of intimacy with his ways — seen anything that betrayed him to be unprincipled or unjust — anything that spoke him of irreligious or immoral habits; that among his own connections he was esteemed and valued — that even Wickham had allowed him merit as a brother, and that she had often heard him speak so affectionately of his sister as to prove him capable of some amiable feeling; that had his actions been what Mr. Wickham represented them, so gross a violation of everything right could hardly have been concealed from the world; and that friendship between a person capable of it, and such an amiable man as Mr. Bingley, was incomprehensible.”

In Chapter 43, Mrs. Reynolds defends Darcy against the rumors of his prideful nature. “He is the best landlord, and the best master,” said she, “that ever lived; not like the wild young men nowadays, who think of nothing but themselves. There is not one of his tenants or servants but will give him a good name. Some people call him proud; but I am sure I never saw anything of it. To my fancy, it is only because he does not rattle away like other young men.”

Colin-in-Pride-and-Prejudice-colin-firth-567327_1024_576At the end of Chapter 43, the Gardiners pronounce their evaluation of Darcy. “The observations of her uncle and aunt now began; and each of them pronounced him to be infinitely superior to anything they had expected. ‘He is perfectly well behaved, polite, and unassuming,’ said her uncle.
‘There is something a little stately in him, to be sure,’ replied her aunt, ‘but it is confined to his air, and is not unbecoming. I can now say with the housekeeper, that though some people may call him proud, I have seen nothing of it.’”

In Chapter 44, upon first meeting Miss Darcy, Elizabeth expects the girl to be uppity, but finds otherwise. “Miss Darcy and her brother appeared, and this formidable introduction took place. With astonishment did Elizabeth see that her new acquaintance was at least as much embarrassed as herself. Since her being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of a very few minutes convinced her that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond a monosyllable.”

In Chapter 45, Elizabeth realizes how others might deem Georgiana’s shyness as pride. “In this house they were received by Miss Darcy, who was sitting there with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, and the lady with whom she lived in London. Georgiana’s reception of them was very civil, but attended with all the embarrassment which, though proceeding from shyness and the fear of doing wrong, would easily give to those who felt themselves inferior the belief of her being proud and reserved. Mrs. Gardiner and her niece, however, did her justice, and pitied her.”

In Chapter 47, Elizabeth describes Wickham’s perfidy to the Gardiners. “I do indeed,” replied Elizabeth, colouring. “I told you, the other day, of his infamous behaviour to Mr. Darcy; and you yourself, when last at Longbourn, heard in what manner he spoke of the man who had behaved with such forbearance and liberality towards him. And there are other circumstances which I am not at liberty — which it is not worth while to relate; but his lies about the whole Pemberley family are endless. From what he said of Miss Darcy I was thoroughly prepared to see a proud, reserved, disagreeable girl. Yet he knew to the contrary himself. He must know that she was as amiable and unpretending as we have found her.”

In Chapter 50, Elizabeth realizes how much she has lost. “What a triumph for him, as she often thought, could he know that the proposals which she had proudly spurned only four months ago, would now have been most gladly and gratefully received! He was as generous, she doubted not, as the most generous of his sex; but while he was mortal, there must be a triumph.”

In Chapter 52, after learning of Darcy’s involvement in bringing Wickham and Lydia together, Elizabeth reflects on how poorly she treated Darcy. “It was painful, exceedingly painful, to know that they were under obligations to a person who could never receive a return. They owed the restoration of Lydia, her character, every thing, to him. Oh! how heartily did she grieve over every ungracious sensation she had ever encouraged, every saucy speech she had ever directed towards him. For herself she was humbled; but she was proud of him. Proud that in a cause of compassion and honour, he had been able to get the better of himself. She read over her aunt’s commendation of him again and again. It was hardly enough; but it pleased her. She was even sensible of some pleasure, though mixed with regret, on finding how steadfastly both she and her uncle had been persuaded that affection and confidence subsisted between Mr. Darcy and herself.”

In Chapter 53, Mr. Bennet sarcastically speaks of his pride in claiming Wickham as part of the family. “He is as fine a fellow,” said Mr. Bennet, as soon as they were out of the house, “as ever I saw. He simpers, and smirks, and makes love to us all. I am prodigiously proud of him. I defy even Sir William Lucas himself to produce a more valuable son-in-law.”

In Chapter 53, Kitty describes the arrival of Bingley and Darcy to Longbourn. “There is a gentleman with him, mamma,” said Kitty; “who can it be?”
“Some acquaintance or other, my dear, I suppose; I am sure I do not know.”
“La!” replied Kitty, “it looks just like that man that used to be with him before. Mr. what’s-his-name. That tall, proud man.”

In Chapter 59, Mr. Bennet questions Elizabeth’s motives for accepting Darcy’s proposal. “Have you any other objection,” said Elizabeth, “than your belief of my indifference?”
“None at all. We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort of man; but this would be nothing if you really liked him.”

Posted in book excerpts, excerpt, George Wickham, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, marriage customs, marriage licenses, Pride and Prejudice, Regency era, Regency romance, romance | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lewis Morris, Lord of Morrisania Manor and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Lewis Morris Public domain image.

Lewis Morris III was born on April 8, 1726, in Morrisania, New York, into a rich and privileged family. In 1762, upon the death of his father, Lewis inherited the family estate, Morrisania, which covered about 2000 acres, and resembled a small town, with farmers who rented land, blacksmiths, carpenters and others who worked the estate for wages. Lewis attended Yale College, but left without earning a degree. As the eldest son, he was expected to devote his time into running Morrisania. For many years, he would follow the typical pattern of a wealthy gentleman.

Following the footsteps of his grandfather, who had been Royal Governor of New Jersey, and his father, who had been a judge, Lewis decided to enter public service. He was elected to the New York Legislature in 1769.

In 1749, at age 23, he married Mary Beekman Walton. Together Lewis and Mary had ten children: Catherine, Mary, Lewis, Jacob, Sarah (who died as a child), William, Helena, James, Staats, and Richard.

“As a wealthy landowner, most people expected him to support Britain, but he surprised everyone by supporting the patriot cause. When New York selected its first delegates to the Continental Congress, Lewis Morris was not selected, because he did not support Great Britain. When electing delegates for the Second Continental Congress in May 1775, this time he was elected, since the majority of New Yorkers had changed their minds. During the critical vote for independence on July 2, 1776, Morris was back home in New York, but he attended the NY Convention in White Plains, NY, which approved the Declaration on July 9, and returned to Philadelphia to sign the document after its approval.” (Find a Grave)

So, why would a man who certainly did not suffer from the British actions in the Americas take such a stance? His discontent grew slowly, but steadily. For example, New York housed a large garrison of British troops, who were supposed to protect the American colonies, but the British decided to tax New York citizens to pay for this protection. The New York assembly refused these actions from the Crown, but the New York governor requisitioned the funds without consent. This action upset Morris, and he became quite vocal about the outcome. This was only the beginning of his change of mind. 

” To prevent an intercourse between the citizens and the fleet, so injurious to the patriotic cause, timely measures were adopted by the committee of safety; but for a long time no efforts were availing, and even after General Washington had established his headquarters at New York, he was obliged to issue his proclamation, interdicting all intercourse and correspondence with the ships of war and other vessels belonging to the king of Great Britain.

“But, notwithstanding this prevalent aversion to a separation from Great Britain, there were many in the colony who believed that a declaration of independence was not only a point of political expediency, but a matter of paramount duty. Of this latter class, Mr. Morris was one; and, in giving his vote for that declaration, he exhibited a patriotism and disinterestedness which few had it in their power to display. He was at this time in possession of an extensive domain, within a few miles of the city of New York. A British army had already landed from their ships, which lay within cannon shot of the dwelling of his family. A signature to the Declaration of Independence would insure the devastation of the former, and the destruction of the latter. But, upon the ruin of his individual property, he could look with comparative indifference, while he knew that his honor was untarnished, and the interests of his country were safe. He voted, therefore, for a separation from the mother country, in the spirit of a man of honor, and of enlarged benevolence.” (Colonial Hall)

In 1769, Lewis Morris was elected to the Colonial Assembly in New York. In 1774, he resigned his position as judge to focus on the oncoming war. Lewis was elected to the New York Provincial Congress. While he was a member of this Congress, they sent him to Continental Congress as a delegate for New York.

2767_1053997062“He served in the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1777, where he worked on the committees that supervised supplies of ammunition and military stores for the Army. During the war, the British burned and wrecked Morrisania. Lewis would spend many years after the war rebuilding his estate. Morris then served in the New York Legislature from 1777 to 1790. He was also a Major General of the New York State Militia during the Revolutionary War. In 1787, Lewis’s brother, Gouverneur Morris wrote much of the final draft of the US Constitution. Lewis attended the convention in Poughkeepsie, NY, to determine if New York would accept the Constitution. Thanks largely to Lewis Morris’s efforts, a narrow vote of 30 in favor to 27 opposed, was achieved, bringing New York into the union as the 11th state.” (Find a Grave)

From the start, Lewis Morris was an active advocate for independence in Congress. In 1776, he was among the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Lewis Morris’ most famous quote came from a conversation he had with his half-brother, Gouverneur Morris. Gouverneur, a politician and a signatory of the Articles of Confederation, warned him about what would happen if he signed the Declaration and advised him against it. Lewis’s reply was “Damn the consequences. Give me the pen.” With that, he fearlessly scratched his name on the document.

Morris’s three eldest sons followed their father’s example for service to their country. One served for a time as aid-de-camp to General Sullivan, but afterwards entered the family of General Greene, and was with that officer during his brilliant campaign in the Carolinas; the second son was appointed aid-de-camp to General Charles Lee, and was present at the gallant defense of Fort Moultrie, where he greatly distinguished himself. The youngest of these sons, though but a youth, entered the army as a lieutenant of artillery, and honorably served during the war.


gravesite for Lewis Morris St. Ann’s Episcopal Church cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page= pv&GRid=2767&PIpi=55231153

morrislewis /cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page= pv&GRid=2767&PIpi= 55231153

One would find it a bit odd that Morris’s fabulous estate of the late 1700s is now the site of public housing projects and boarded-up buildings. Morrisania was located in what is now the South Bronx, a poverty-stricken neighborhood. The British army trashed the original as retribution for Morris’s stance during the Revolutionary War. An invasion of New York by the British during the war took the British troops right to Morris’s door. The house suffered extensive damage, stands of trees were burned, cattle were slaughtered, and tenants and slaves were run off. Benjamin Rush, another signer of the Declaration of Independence, said of the loss, “[Morris] suffered the loss of many thousand pounds by the depredations of the British arm, upon his property new New York without repining. Every attachment of his heart yielded to his love of his country.” 

In 1777, Lewis became a member of the New York Senate. He held this position until 1790. After this Lewis retired to his home and his family. Lewis Morris died on January 22, 1798. he was buried at Morrisania. The family vault can be found in what is known today as the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. This family vault is in the churchyard of what became St. Ann’s Church of Morrisania and is now known as St. Ann’s Episcopal Church. The manor house stands no more. 


Find a Grave: Lewis Morris 


Colonial Hall 

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The Wilderness Road and the Release of “The Road to Understanding”

Kentucky_Road_MapAccording to, the Wilderness Road “was only a crude trail; only pack teams could cross the mountains. Pioneers coming from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas before 1796 found it necessary to unload their Conestoga Wagons at Sapling Grove [Bristol, Virginia] and pack their belongings on horses in order to cross the mountains. The early pioneers lashed huge baskets and bundles of clothing, bed furnishings and household articles upon packhorses. Children perched on top, or rode in front and behind their mothers and relatives. The older boys and men who did not have mounts had to trudge along on foot. A caravan of pack horses and people on foot sometimes stretched out as far as three miles along the trail. Indian raids were common at various points on the Wilderness Road.

“Professional packhorse men made it a business to hire out to settlers or merchants for transporting supplies through the wilderness. They objected to road improvements, saying it would drive them out of business. After 1796 when the trail was widened, Conestoga Wagons could cross over the mountains. A Scots-Irish family could travel from the end of their sea voyage at Alexandria, Virginia, all the way to the middle of Kentucky in the same wagon.

When Kentucky and Tennessee became occupied, the Wilderness Road provided the means to send surplus produce back to the eastern seaboard. Droves of cattle, horses, mules, and hogs went by this route to the cotton plantations of South Carolina and Georgia. Conestoga wagons were constructed of oak, with eight-inch wide hickory-spoked wheels, five feet high. They were pulled by six draft horses. The high-riding canvas top was supported by eight hoops, rising six feet above the wagon panels. The body was sixteen feet long–large enough to accommodate most of the personal belongings pioneer families wanted to take with them.”

Part of the road through the Cumberland Gap was known first as Boone’s Trace. Daniel Boone was hired by the Transylvania Company  to clear a trail into the valleys “over mountain.” Boone, with 30 men, managed to cut a trail of 208 miles in less than three weeks from Long Island on the Holston River (near what is now Kingsport, Tennessee) through the Cumberland Gap and on into Fincastle County, which is now Kentucky. Constant travel through the Cumberland Gap widened after the first settlements of Boonesborough and Harrodsburg were established. Once Kentucky claimed statehood the stream of settlers increased dramatically. 

“Early roads were made by chopping out underbrush and small trees in a swath only ten to thirty feet wide and cutting off the larger timber eighteen inches from the ground. The axemen had to leave the largest trees standing, even in the middle of the road. They bridged small streams with logs, and crossed rivers by fords or ferries. Even under the best of conditions such roads were unsatisfactory, and during wet weather they were impassible. Nevertheless, they connected the East to the West, and that was enough! Of Kentucky’s 75,000 population in 1790, about 90% had arrived by way of the Wilderness Road.

“Some suggest that the origin of the Wilderness Road was at Fort Chiswell (Ft. Chissel) on the Great Valley Road where roads converged from Philadelphia and Richmond. Others claim the Wilderness Road actually began at Sapling Grove (now Bristol, VA) which lay at the extreme southern end of the Great Valley Road because it was at that point that the road narrowed, forcing travelers to abandon their wagons. It moved through the Allegheny Mountains at Cumberland Gap, at what is now the junction of the State boundaries of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Heading northwest, it splits at Hazel Patch–with one route creating Boonesborough, the other Frankfort. Today one can follow the main route from Bristol, VA to Middlesboro, KY, then to Pineville, Mt. Vernon, and on towards Lexington on Interstate 75.” (Ancestry)


ATOV CoverThe Road to Understanding: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary [Pride and Prejudice; Inspirational Romance; vagary]

DARIUS FITZWILLIAM’s life is planned down to who he will marry and where he will live, but life has a way of saying, “You don’t get to choose.” When his marriage to his long-time betrothed Caroline Bradford falls through, Darius is forced to take a step back and to look upon a woman who enflames his blood with desire, but also engenders disbelief. Eliza Harris is everything that Darius never realized he wanted.

ELIZA HARRIS is accustomed to doing as she pleases. Yet, despite being infuriated by his authoritative manner, when she meets the staunchly disciplined Captain Fitzwilliam, she wishes for more. She instinctively knows he is “home,” but Eliza possesses no skills in achieving her aspirations.

Plagued with misunderstandings, manipulations, and peril upon the Great Valley Road between eastern Virginia and western Tennessee in the years following the Revolutionary War, Darius and Eliza claim a strong allegiance before love finds its way into their hearts.

This is a faith-based tale based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Purchase Links: 

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Posted in America, American History, Appalachia, book release, historical fiction, history, real life tales, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment