Saturday, September 3, 2011
With that being said, I have a question for you -- If you could spend a day with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
If I could, I'd like to spend the day with Sarah Francis Taylor Fowler Frier. Sarah was my great grandmother. My cousins and I grew up with the following story: Sarah and her family lived in the Florida Panhandle, during the time the Cherokee and Creek were moving out of Georgia to avoid being rounded up for the Trail of Tears.
At the age of thirteen, Sarah went out to feed the chickens and tend to the daily chores. After a lenght of time, and when she hadn't returned to the house, her mother and father set out to find her. All they found was the bowl Sarah used to put chicken mash in, and it was laying on the ground. There were also foot prints, not made by boots or shoes, but rather, moccasins. It was obvious she had been kidnapped.
Sarah was about sixteen when she and other white captives were rescued by some militia men. She was pregnant. Now, in those days, folks believed that women who had been kidnapped and impregnated by a so-called "savage," was permanently tainted. In other words, she became an outcast by her own people. Usually, these women were given two choices--commit suicide or return to live with the tribe. Sarah's parents didn't wish for their daughter to make either choice.
A few months before Sarah's child was born, her father married her off to a circuit riding preacher. He was forty-four years her senior. When the preacher passed away, she remarried, and gave birth to twelve children, which included two sets of twins. Sarah died one week before her 99th birthday.
I wish I had known this great grandmother. My writer's insatiable curiosity wants to know what kind of fear she felt being dragged from her home by renegades, was she abused or treated with dignity? What hardships did she suffer while living with the Indians? What foods did they eat, how did they make their clothes, what games did the children play? If she'd been given the choice of committing suicide or returning to live with the tribe, which choice would she have made?
We don't know what tribe kidnapped Sarah. This was one of those family secrets that was only whispered about, and hushed up when we children walked into the room. My siblings and I have considered having a DNA test done, which might solve they mystery of which Native American blood runs through our veins. This may be one of those family mysteries that is never solved, but it remains interesting conversation at family gatherings.
So, I'll ask again, if you could spend the day with one person, living or dead, who would it be, and what questions would you ask?
Happy Birthday to all you Virgos, and to everyone who reads this--have an enjoyable Labor Day weekend.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Clues point the finger at an unsavory vagrant, Carl Owens, who had once worked for Della; however, Maggie's relief is short-lived when they realize he has an alibi. Maggie's search soon has her researching the town's criminal past, where stories of unsolved bank robberies and corporate corruption reveal that murder and secrets go hand in hand.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
I’ve been interested in the Regency era for a long time, at least twice as long as the Regency itself lasted. And I learned something new just last week: Banyan. The name I thought only belonged to a tree, more specifically the one I think of grows on Front St. in Lahaina, Maui.
A banyan in the Regency period was known as a robe de chambre, a loose-fitting robe or skirted-coat, constructed in a range of colors and various types of fabrics such as silk, cotton, damask, brocade, and wool. This new garment was open in the front and nearly floor-length, with plain banding or a rolled collar and deep folded cuffs.
One of my characters in an upcoming book, Signor Biondi, a Latin tutor, wears this and, at the time I was writing him, I didn’t know the name of this piece of wardrobe. I could see him wearing it. I knew exactly what it looked like but I could not find the name of this garment. I searched online for several hours, finally settling on a dressing robe. I never did feel the garment’s name was quite right.
I came across the Dandy Taylor blog where there are tales, trials, and pictures of handmade historical garments. Mike studies theatre and costume/prop design at Grand Valley State University. He also is a historical reenactor, mostly 1812 and American Civil War reenactments. He dresses for the “other” side but I won’t hold that against him.
For more information about Banyans see:
Jane Austen’s World: Banyan: a man’s dressing gown
The Dressing Gown: The History of the Dressing Gown
Regency Redingote: Banyan: Merchant, Tree, Meatless Day or Garment?
The Costumers Manifesto.com: Pictures of Nightgowns, Nightcaps, Dressing Gowns, and Banyans, plus Banyan Web Links