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Sacagawea

There are few women in history that I admire as much as I admire Sacagawea. Her story is a short but spectacular one. She has made a major impression not only on me but on our nation’s history as well. I wonder where would be be without her contributions.

Sacagawea was born in Lemhi County, Idaho probably around 1788. She was the daughter of a Shoshone chief and at the age of 12 she was kidnapped by an enemy tribe called the Hidatsa. This tribe took her far away from home to the Dakota region where she was sold to a French fur trapper Toussaint Charbonneau. She became one of his two wives and soon at the age of 15 was pregnant.

The Corps of Discovery was traveling through the Dakota region as they were mapping out the newly purchased Louisiana Territory. The expedition was led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. President Jefferson had instructed the crew to make peace relations with the many native tribes that they would come across. The natives would be important to help them reach the ultimate goal- the Pacific Ocean.

When the Corps reached the Hidatsa-Mandan settlement, Sacagawea, eventually after a very painful, difficult delivery, gave birth to a son. She named him Jean-Baptiste. Lewis and Clark realized that Sacagawea and her husband would be a great asset to their journey. They both could be guides and translators as they continue west. Having a woman and a baby accompany the crew also prevented them from getting attacked by many tribes. Women never accompany a warring party so it made it easier to establish peace and trade with tribes.

Young Sacagawea and her newborn baby traveled west with the crew through many difficult situations. The terrain was treacherous, the weather was bitter cold and food was scarce. One day while they were traveling down the Missouri River, the boat capsized and many of Clark’s important papers and journals were almost lost. Sacagawea, with her baby on back, saved all the important documents. When food became scarce, it was Sacagawea that told then which roots they could eat to survive. When they needed horses to cross the Bitterroot Mountains, it was Sacagawea that helped secure horses from her Shoshone relatives. When the crew was lost and not sure which direction led them toward the Pacific, it was Sacagawea that led the way.

Sacagawea was not required to follow the expedition all the way to the Pacific. She was given the choice to stay with her long lost family when they found the Shoshone. She chose to finish the course.

Sacagawea returned back to the Hidatsa-Mandan Settlement with the crew in 1806. Her husband received land and money for his assistance with the expedition and Sacagawea received nothing. Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter in 1812 and then became ill. It is believed that she died at the age of 25 near Bismark, North Dakota. William Clark became guardian of both her son and daughter.

Sacagawea’s life tells a story. A story of a brave, young girl who was torn away from her family as a child and forced to be a slave. An adventurous teenager who went on a remarkable journey that forever changed the United States. And ultimately a lonely young adult who died receiving no recognition and no compensation for her contributions. Her story is a humbling one. Today, there are museums and statues in her honor, telling the story of this admirable woman’s life and contributions. Sacagawea, your life was not in vain and you will not be forgotten.

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Simplicity

When I think of life, I wish for a time of simplicity. Before internet, busy schedules, constant appointments and “to do” lists. When I want to imagine and visualize simpler times, I read Thoreau’s books.

Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. His name was actually David Henry but chose to be addressed in the former way. He was not successful during his lifetime and never married or had any children. He was friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a graduate of Harvard College and a teacher. He was highly educated and taught Latin, Greek, French and Science.

Thoreau was a transcendentalist. The idea of a personal relationship with God, self- reliance, reject materialism, and embrace and focus on nature. Thoreau was against slavery, the Mexican-American War and politics. He valued the lessons learned by nature;by simply walking in the woods. He wrote books like Civil Disobedience and Walking. But my favorite book is Walden.

I visited Walden Pond in the summer of 2020. As you walk across the parking lot there is a replica of Thoreau’s simple cabin. The actual site of where his house stood can be found after a short hike through the woods to the other end of the pond. As I walk around it and read the signs, I think about how remarkable Thoreau was in his thinking, in his vision and in his writing.

Thoreau came to Walden in 1845 where he built a small cabin with his own two hands on land owned by Emerson. He lived in somewhat isolation from society for two years, two months, and two days. ” Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas!we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built…” He talks a lot about self reliance, accountability and independence. Ideals so far removed from society today.

In terms of education he writes,” …I mean that they should not play life, or study it merely, while the community supports them at this expensive game, but earnestly live it from beginning to end.” He believed that children learn best by doing. He believed that villages should be universities and elders the teachers.

In terms of politics he writes, ” That government is best which governs least.” He felt that the government was losing its integrity and trying to control too much of people’s lives. He actually refused to pay poll tax and was thrown in jail for the night. He pointed out the foolishness of the political institution and why he disrespected it and therefore refused allegiance to Massachusetts.

In terms of society’s problems, he simply states,” I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I did, thieving and robbery would be unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough.” Thoreau’s cabin was very meager and he grew his own food and fished. He was not in want or in debt to anyone.

Thoreau’s life tells a story. His story is an inspirational one. ” I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” This is a life altering message. Imagine spending your whole life with material comforts and come to the end of your life and realize that you never really lived out what life has to offer. Thoreau died on May 6, 1862 at the age of 44, fully having lived.

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We The People ??

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Before the US Constitution, we had the Declaration of Independence. An ideal of what a free America would look like.

In this room, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence by candle light in June 1776.

I typed these words today from memory. These words should ring through the minds of all citizens of this nation young and old alike. Everyone should be able to recite the preamble to the Declaration of Independence on command with pride and respect. More importantly, the meaning and origin of these words should be understood.

Before the United States became the United States and before the US Constitution was established, the colonists wanting independence imagined a life without a corrupt government. They envisioned a government of the people and by the people.

Thomas Jefferson was given the task of writing this document with the help of other important thinkers of the day like Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and John Adams. In Philadelphia, late at night he wrote. It took him a little over two weeks to draft this document which was treason against the king of England. The Continental Congress was planning an insurrection against England and this document’s purpose was to arouse people to join the cause.

Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Why would they do such a thing?? How did they get to the point of establishing a militia against their leader? If you read the Declaration of Independence, it clearly states first the list of peaceful attempts of the colonists to be heard as a people wanting change. The government ignored the needs of the people. The document then lists how the English government was violating their rights given to them under the English Bill of Rights.

When an oppressed people, after trying to peacefully appeal for change, are left to no other devices, they rebel. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, ” But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is THEIR RIGHT, it is THEIR DUTY to THROW off such government and provide new guards for their future security.”

When we look back on the men who fought for our freedom and independence, somehow we don’t see them as an evil perpetrators, we see them as heroes fighting for what is right.

The Declaration of Independence tells a story. A story of a people fighting against injustice and corruption. It tells a story of people willing to die for a cause that they believed in, an American principle. It is the story of where we came from and who we are as Americans. Let us NOT forget this story lest we fade away.

Independence Hall Philadelphia ,Pennsylvania
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To The Rescue!

The colonists needed help!! Who could they turn to? A couple years into the Revolutionary War, the American Continental Army was suffering. It was not likely that the colonists would defeat the superior British forces. A much needed victory came in October 1777, when British General Burgoyne surrendered to American General Gates at Saratoga, New York.

Ben Franklin had been in France for a couple of years trying to convince the French to help the colonist win their independence from England. France, after losing the French & Indian War, would love to get back at the British but they were not willing to join a losing battle. Many countries felt that the colonists had no chance in winning a war against the greatest army in the world.

When news hit France about the decisive win at Saratoga, France decided to send aid to the American forces.  They sent nineteen year old Marquis de Lafayette. He joined the Continental Army in 1777 at Valley Forge where George Washington and his army spent a very brutal winter. The soldiers were suffering with no boots, little food, and disease. Lafayette spent his own money to buy the men supplies. He was also essential in helping train the men for combat.

In July 1780, French General Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau arrived in Newport, Rhode Island with 6,000 French soldiers. Rochambeau was headquartered at the Vernon House. In March 1781, George Washington joined Rochambeau to devise a plan to attack British occupied New York City. That plan never worked out.

Washington and Rochambeau met again in Connecticut in May of 1781. The plan was to move the French forces from Newport to Providence, Rhode Island and eventually meet Washington’s forces outside New York. France also sent Admiral de Grasse to the Caribbean with orders to coordinate his activities with General Washington and General Rochambeau to blockade British General Cornwallis in the Chesapeake Bay outside Yorktown, Virginia. Lafayette was already there keeping an eye on the British.

In August 1781, the march to Yorktown began.  The plan worked perfectly as the French fleet and the French & American forces all met together at the end of September 1781 and laid siege to the British forces.

It took three weeks of constant bombardment, but eventually on October 19,1781, the British surrendered to the American forces ultimately ending the Revolutionary War.

In this field, the British surrendered to General George Washington. Cornwallis refused to come out to surrender and sent his aide.

France’s role in the Revolutionary War tells a story. A story of a country battered by constant wars and a story of men wanting to retaliate against British abuse. But it also tells a story of inspiration as France will decide to fight for their freedom against monarchical rule in 1789 following America’s example. The fighting French left behind pieces of their story in the monuments erected in their honor for all of us to read and remember. Vive la France!

This key was presented to George Washington by Lafayette. It is the key from the Bastille Prison in France. The storming of the Bastille sparked the French Revolution.

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Oh Say Can You See??

Do you recognize these words? Do you know where they came from?

The original rough draft of the Star Spangled Banner located in Maryland Historical Society. On display every hour for only a few minutes then covered.

Yes, this is our National Anthem. It was written as a poem by Francis Scott Key on September 14,1814. Key was a 35 year old lawyer in Washington DC during the War of 1812. The War of 1812 was the second war that Americans fought against England. Many Americans did not agree with the declaration of war against England but President Madison requested this declaration from Congress in response to England impressing our sailors.

Key was one of those Americans that did not agree with the war. However, war came to Washington on August 24,1814 as the British burned the Capital and the White House. The British were heading north toward Maryland to take Fort McHenry and Key was going to be in the middle of the battle.

The British soldiers were looting throughout the cities in Maryland and a doctor named William Beanes complained as the British were looting his office. The British soldiers had him arrested and placed on a prison ship in Chesapeake Bay in view of Fort McHenry.

Beanes was a family friend of Key and when he heard of this, he wanted to do something to help him. He appealed to President Madison to be able to negotiate his release. On September 7, 1814 Key and an prison exchange officer were allowed to board the British ship and were able to convince the British commander to release the doctor.

As they were ready to leave the ship, the Battle of Baltimore was beginning and they were now stuck. They watched the entire bombardment from the ship as night fell on September 13th. Fort McHenry took a such a beating that Key thought it would be impossible for it to survive. The bombs bursting in air, lit up the sky like fireworks.

He waited in anticipation for the sun to rise on the 14th to see which flag would be flying over the fort. As the sun rose, he was relieved and proud to see that, “Our flag was still there”! The Americans had won the Battle of Baltimore.

Key had written some of the lines aboard the ship and completed his poem later. The poem eventually was put to music and became out national anthem in 1931.

Francis Scott Key’s poem tells a story. A story of a divided nation not wanting to be involved in another war. A story of innocent civilians caught in the middle. It is also a reminder that no matter how much pounding, attack, or bombardment our nation takes, you can have confidence that in the “dawns early light” our flag will still be there.

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Shot Heard Around the World !

Where am I??

The date is April 19,1775. The videos and images give clues to a very important location in the history of the United States. At the end of this blog, I will reveal the answer.

Did you figure out where I am? I am in Massachusetts. I am at a location where a bunch of pitchfork farmers changed the course of human events. I am in the town of Lexington where the Red Coats were marching toward the town of Concord to confiscate weapons stored by the Sons of Liberty. Paul Revere, along with others, on the night of April 18th rode from Boston towards Lexington to alert the countryside and to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock that the British were heading to arrest them. Paul Revere did not make it Concord as he was stopped and his horse was taken. However, the farmers were awake and waiting for the British army to approach. As the sun rose on the morning of April 19,1775, the farmers in Lexington and the British soldiers faced one another unsure of what to do. A shot was fired and the Revolutionary War began. No one knows who fired the first shot but there was no turning back, the colonists were now involved in a war against the greatest power in the world at that time.After this shot was fired, the whole world was watching to see if the untrained colonial militia would pull off defeating a super power.

This place tells a story on the markers of the dead, on the monument, and on the houses left behind. This story is one of guts, glory, determination and about beating the odds. The story is that of how we became the United States of America and why I am proud to be an American.

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December 25th

If you have an advent calendar , you are probably counting down the days until December 25th. Most kids are counting down to this day as they are anticipating opening gifts on Christmas morning. But where does this day really come from and what does the word Christmas really mean?

The word Christmas can be broken down into two words, Christ and Mass. The Greek word Khristos meaning “anointed” in the sense of the Messiah and the word maesse a Latin word referring to the Eucharist tradition known as the Lord’s Supper where the sacrament symbolizes the body and blood of Jesus . Together these words mean Christ’s presence. Ultimately, Christmas signifies the birth of Jesus. But Jesus was not born on December 25th. The Bible does not indicate the day that Jesus was born and most theologians and historians believe that based on the setting described in the Bible, it was probably more likely in the springtime.

Did you ever hear the saying, “All roads lead to Rome”? Well the answer to where does the date December 25th come from leads us to Rome. Roman Emperor Constantine the Great was born in Rome in A.D. 275 and became the leader in A.D. 306 People in Rome worshipped many pagan gods. As he was heading into battle one day, he had a vision of a cross on the sun with the words,” in this sign you shall conquer”. His army won the battle and he became a follower of Christianity. He designated the December 25th as a day to honor the birth of Jesus. He chose this day to replace the Roman pagan holiday of the Winter Solstice which originally celebrated the rebirth of the sun god.

Although, the Roman Calendar recognized December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth in A.D. 336, many Christians did not celebrate this holiday. Puritans coming to the New World in 1620 banned the holiday as not being biblical. Some later Christians began to observe Christmas Day until the Revolutionary War, where many believed it was an English tradition that they no longer wanted to be associated with. Christmas was eventually recognized as a federal holiday in 1870.

We may never know the day that Jesus was really born, but his birth tells a story. A story of a world in need of a Savior. His story ended early as he was crucified at 33 years old destined to die on a cross for my sins and yours. As you follow your Christmas traditions this year, may your story include a belief in the promises that only the Lord Jesus Christ can bring.

Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year- God Bless

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Tea, Anyone?

The date was December 16,1773 and it was a cold, calm day in Boston, Massachusetts. A group of men dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded three ships in Boston Harbor at the dead of night. They proceeded to dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor.

Why would they do such a thing? After the French and Indian War, England began to tax the English colonies to help pay back the war debt. The colonists were not happy about these unfair taxes as they had no representation in the British Parliament. A secret society was formed called the Sons of Liberty that protested against English rule and taxes.

Due to much colonial boycotts and protests, England had repealed many of the acts except the tax on tea. The East India Tea Company was granted a monopoly on the tea trade which threatened to put colonial tea merchants out of business. These tea ships arrived in Boston causing an uproar.

The crowds in Boston made it clear that the ships should not be allowed to unload and must return to England. Governor Hutchinson refused to listen to the colonists. A meeting at Old South Meeting House was set up to discuss what to do with the three ships of tea that arrived in the harbor. The meeting was led by Samuel Adams and the crowd voted to destroy the tea.

Over 100 men, ran to Griffin’s Wharf and boarded the Beaver, Eleanor, and the Dartmouth. Tea chests were torn open and thrown overboard. No one was injured and only one was arrested that night. In today’s terms of money, the Son’s of Liberty destroyed over $1 million dollars worth of tea. All this to make a point that they wanted things to change.

This was considered English property and considered treason. Boston would pay for their expressive protest. England will pass the Intolerable acts. The provisions of this included the closing of the Boston Port until all the tea was paid for, restricted colonial assembly, increased authority of the Royal Governor and passed the Quebec Act. Benjamin Franklin offered to pay for the tea but King George III wanted Massachusetts Bay Colony to suffer.

Many colonists were furious throughout the 13 colonies and began to join the Patriot’s cause for independence from English rule. Still others were not so certain. Many loyalists remained loyal to the king despite their discontent. Sometimes it is easier to live with the wrongs that you have become accustomed to than to right those wrongs. Men like John Adams, John Hancock, James Otis and Paul Revere will attempt to gain more support for the idea of independence.

The infamous Boston Tea Party tells a story. A story about freedom, about individual rights, about taking a stand and about making a difference. This country was founded on these principles. It was a group of rabble rousers that established the very foundation of the United States of America. Let us not forget the very basis for why we protested in 1773, why we went to war in 1775 and why we established our own country in 1783. It was to fight against injustice. In the words of Patrick Henry, ” I know not what course others may take, but as for me , give me liberty or give me death!”

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Wretched Winter

The year was 1607 and England was desperate to rise to power in a competition against rival Spain. Spain had already colonized parts of North America and gained much wealth from the discovery of gold in the southwest region. In an attempt to gain power and riches, King James I formed the Virginia Company and assembled a crew of 105 men heading for the New World.

The expedition was led by Christopher Newport and the plan was to settle around the Chesapeake Bay area and find gold. They left England in December of 1606 on three ships and arrived in May of 1607. They built the Jamestown Colony named in honor of King James I. They dug for gold instead of planting food or building protection. Captain John Smith was part of the governing council at Jamestown. He began to recognize that the colony would not survive if it did not start preparing. He told the men that if they did not work building fences and planting gardens, they would not eat. He formed a trade relationship with the neighboring but defensive Powhatan tribe.

With the help of the Powhatan tribe, the Virginia Company made it through the first winter, however, only 38 settlers survived. The colony faced many hardships as the water was brackish, there was a severe lack of food, a drought, mosquito infestation and declined relations with the Natives. By 1609, John Smith returned to England after getting hurt in an gun powder explosion. This left the men without a good leader and the colony began to fall apart.

Many ships arrived in July 1609 bringing more men to the colony but the supply ship did not make it as a storm shipwrecked the boat to Bermuda. With more men to feed and no supplies, the colony was in a desperate situation as the winter of 1609 approached. Men found it hard to find water and began drinking salt water. Salt water poisons the body and the mind. Desperate for food they stole from the Natives causing Native attacks. They soon became stranded within their fort as it was unsafe to go outside.

Winter was brutal as starvation led to the increase of disease and led some colonists to madness. Lack of food options caused many settlers to eat their leather boots, horses, rats and snakes. The Jamestown settlement was in danger of demise. The daily death rate was staggering. The colonists resorted to cannibalism, digging up dead bodies and eating flesh and organs. Records indicate that a man killed his pregnant wife to try and eat her. He was hung for his actions.

Relief came in the Spring of 1610 as a supply ship arrived finding only 60 settlers left out of 400. The colony survived despite all odds. Miraculously, the colony grew and prospered as more colonists came. They never found gold but they did discover something of value- tobacco. In 1619, John Rolfe developed a strain of tobacco that became an important commodity to England. He married the infamous Pocahontas.

The first English settlement in North America tells a story. A story of absolute despair, of utter desperation, of will and of unwavering determination that I cannot even fathom. Settler’s stories are still being excavated and pieced together by archaeologists today. For instance, the story of “Jane”. A white young female found buried in a heap. Her body cut up in pieces apparently the victim of cannibalism. Was she a servant? Was she a daughter? Was she sick? Was she killed? Was she scared? We may never know her story but we know she existed and was part of creating a bigger story; the eventual growth of the 13 English colonies. She played an important role, as did all the settlers of this colony. Their story is preserved in the remnants of the Historic Jamestown site for all to visit.

Here we are over 400 years later and dealing with hardship like many of us have never known. As I reflect on historic stories like these, it reminds me that like those that came before us , we are strong, we will endure and we will prevail.

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Truly a Thanksgiving or Not

The date was November 11,1620 when the Mayflower arrived off the coast of what is today Massachusetts. This was not their plan, however, here they were. This small group of people from England originally planned to join the Virginia Company’s chartered land into what is today Manhattan but a storm had different plans. The Mayflower, the ship the Puritans sailed on, was blown off course into uncharted territory. They landed at the worst time of the season as winter was setting in.

Why did they come? The king of England in 1609 was King James I and the people of England were ordered to attend the Anglican Church of England. Many Puritans used the Geneva Bible which they believed to be a purer translation of the Bible. They opposed Catholic practices. They disagreed with the blending of Catholic and Protestant influences in the Church of England and King James’s belief of divine right to rule. King James authorized the King James Version of the Bible and banned the Geneva Bible in England. Puritans refusing to attend the Church of England were persecuted. They decided to secretly leave but they did not come to America first.

William Brewster and John Robinson led a group of Puritans to Leiden, Holland. In Holland they had religious freedom. They lived here for over 10 years but felt that their children were becoming too Dutch and that their religious ideals were too unrestricted.

William Bradford led the group of separatists onto two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower heading for the New World . The Speedwell began to leak not far off the English coast and had to return to England. The crew of @ 100 Puritans and workers all squeezed onto the Mayflower and headed for the charted land of the Virginia Company.

Mayflower replica in background

Plans changed as a storm blew them further north and they settled in what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. Since they were out of the ruling authority of the Virginia Co. , the crew created their own set of laws called the Mayflower Compact. They scouted the coast and settled inland on December 16,1620 still living on the ship they began to build their village. The passengers were weak and sick. Out of 102 people, only 52 survived the winter.

In March 1621, help arrived from an unlikely group. Squanto and Samoset provided the settlement with knowledge to grow crops and where to hunt and fish. They were instrumental to the survival of the colony. The English signed a contract with the leader of the Wampanoags, Massasoit. This contract provided the settlement with protection against other hostile tribes.

Natives taught the English how to make canoes by burning out the center.

In the fall of 1621, the settlement celebrated their first harvest with a three day feast. They gathered together and enjoyed food and games. They did not eat turkey and mashed potatoes but water fowl, venison, lobster, clams, fruit, pumpkin and squash. This, however, was not a thanksgiving to a Puritan. A day of thanksgiving to a Puritan was purely a religious event, a day in church thanking God for their blessings. This would not have been combined due to their strict religious customs.

Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth,Massachusetts

In 1777, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving. The tradition was kept on and off until 1815 where it appeared to be lost. During the United States Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, in an attempt to unite a war torn nation,declared two Thanksgiving days. One in August commemorating the victory at Gettysburg and the last Thursday in November. Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving to the next to the last Thursday of the month of November to spur holiday shopping during the depression. Congress finally declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1942 setting the date to the fourth Thursday in November.

So why do we think of the Pilgrims as the first Thanksgiving? The discovery of William Bradford’s lost journal describing life in Plimouth brought new interest to the story of the English and the Wampanoags coming together celebrating a harvest. The story became twisted/ blended over the years in order to be used to teach children about the first settlers of the region and the freedoms they fought for.

Like many stories from the past, events get changed to serve a purpose. The true story of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags still tell a story. A story of a grateful group of people that relied on natives and prayer to survive in a new land. Their story is one of hardship, death, disappointment, opportunity and survival. Their story is not really that of the First Thanksgiving but traditions are not always established based on facts but are often rooted in inspiring circumstances.

The infamous Plymouth Rock

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One Fall Day

One fall day in November, I was walking through the woods with my friend in Conway, New Hampshire. The air was crisp and there was a thin layer of snow on the ground. This was a perfect day for a fall hike and a little adventure. We unexpectedly stumbled across an archaeological site.

As we walked around we saw remnants of a time long forgotten. Granite columns, stone slabs, rusty machines, hanging cables and an abandoned building. These artifacts left behind as if people left in a hurry hoping to someday return.

This is all that is left of Redstone Granite Quarry on Rattlesnake Mountain. This granite site was built by the Maine and New Hampshire Granite Companies in 1887. The village of Redstone was a company town where there was a church, post office, school and the Maine Central Railroad passed through here. Over 200 men worked and lived here. The granite produced here was used all over the country. Two beautiful columns adorn the post office in Intervale, NH today.

Cables frozen into the lake that was once used to run and cool the machines. Most of the machines were steam powered. I used these cables to pull myself up the steep slopes.

In 1948, the factory produced granite for the last time. Some of the machines were auctioned off and the rest left here in a mill graveyard.

The walk through this forgotten piece of time is eerie. The quiet woods only being disrupted by the crunching of the snow and leaves under our feet. If you listen carefully you can hear the cracking of the ice on the pond. I imagine the once bustling and noisy days of hard mill life.

These scattered remnants tell a story. A story of a time of great need for granite and hard physical labor. A story of a little village in New Hampshire trying to survive through the harsh mountain winters, through the depression, through two World Wars.

But like all stories,this one came to an end. Atop the Rattlesnake Mountain with gorgeous views of the mountainside, the story of Redstone Quarry is buried here amongst the white birch trees and stone slabs known only to curious hikers like me and to those who desire to read the story.

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America’s Most Haunted

This week’s adventure takes us to one of the top 10 most haunted places in the United States, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The year was 1863 and the United States was in the middle of a great Civil War. Brother against brother, the Union and Confederate forces fought in bloody battles along the east coast.

In July of 1863, the Union and the Confederate forces clashed in this small town taking over 50,000 soldier’s lives over a three day period. In the middle of the battle, lay a double ( like a duplex) house owned by Georgia McClellan. Georgia had just given birth to her first child. Her sister Jennie had come to assist her when the battle took place. Together they were held captive in the house as bullets blazed around them.

As night time approached, the guns silence. Jennie had been assisting wounded soldiers with water and bread. As Jennie was at the stove getting more bread, a stray bullet blazed through the door and ripped through her back going straight to her heart. She died instantly being the only civilian to die at the Battle of Gettysburg.

The family knew that they needed to get out of the house for safety. However, the only way to the basement was on the other side of the house. Luckily, an artillery shell blasted through the ceiling but did not explode. The shell opened up a hole in the wall separating the two houses allowing the family to get to the basement on the other side. Two Union soldiers carried Jennie’s body to the basement.

On July 4,1863, the battle was over. Jennie was buried in the garden, she was only 20 years old. The town was in shambles and literally turned into a graveyard. People’s lives were forever changed. Abraham Lincoln arrived in November to give his Gettysburg Address to honor the lives lost. He states that those who died here did not die in vain, a small consolation for such a big sacrifice.

Jennie’s body was eventually moved to the Evergreen Cemetery where a statue was erected in her honor with a perpetual flag hung over. She was revered as a hero and her mother was granted a pension as her daughter was serving the union cause when she was killed.

Jennie Wade House History | Gettysburg Battlefield Tours
https://www.gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com/jennie-wade-house/history/

However, is Jennie really at rest in the cemetery? According to the Jennie Wade House Museum, multiple witnesses have seen her walking the rooms and countryside. Is she seeking answers? Does she want her story told?

Regardless of why and if she is still walking the streets of Gettysburg, her house tells a story. A story of war, a story of brother against brother, and a story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rest in peace, Jennie Wade, you truly were a hero worth remembering.

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Where’s the Witches?

Welcome to Salem,Massachusetts.

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The year is 1692 and Salem Village has a problem. The children in Salem are being inflicted by witches. These “witches” were brought to trial and found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to hanging. The evidence that convicted them was spectral. Nineteen people were hung, one man was pressed to death and two dogs were hung.Hundreds of lives were affected.

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GILES COREY PRESSED TO DEATH.
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In order to understand why the people of Salem hung people, they believed to be witches, you have to understand the Puritan beliefs.

The Pilgrims came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 to break away from the Anglican Church of England. The Puritans came for the same reason in 1630 and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritans were extremely strict in their worship practices and did not tolerate any other beliefs. They believed they were a chosen people by God to be a “City on the Hill” for others to look up to. Their village laws were biblical and no one was allowed to deviate from the pastoral regulations.

The Reverend Parris’ daughter Betty and niece Abigail began acting very strange so he asked Dr. Griggs to examine the girls but he could not find anything wrong with them. Abigail and Betty continued their strange behavior and other children began to copy them. Another child said the devil was after her. The adults now believed that the Devil had come to their little village. The children began to say that some of the people in the village were witches and had cast spells on them and forced them to sign the Devil’s book.

Living in a time with little medical knowledge, anything they could not explain was blamed on the devil or God passing judgement upon the people for sinful acts.

Historians have theories about what really happened in 1692. One theory is that the children had contracted a disease called Encephalitis causing them to have hallucinations. Maybe the children were looking for attention in a society where children were not allowed to speak unless spoken to. Another theory is that jealousy led to false accusations. There is almost a too perfect dividing line from the accusers from Salem Village to the accused in Salem Town.

We may never know what caused the Salem Witch Trials to occur in the winter of 1692. Regardless, the streets of Salem tell a story. A story of innocent lives lost, of jealousy and of religious intolerance. Land lost and names forever tainted is the legacy left behind in this small town by the sea.

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Paranormal Activity at Abandoned Castle

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My adventure this week brings me about an hour and a half north of home to an enchanting castle! Who knew there was such a thing in Massachusetts! I am astounded by how much you can find around you when you’re searching. My daughter’s and I were determined to go on an adventure and we found one at the Tenney Castle in Methuen, Massachusetts. We arrived at the gates of Greycourt Park, where the ruins now reside, only to find that the park is closed. However, being the adventurers we are, we found a way in.

Originally built in 1830 by Richard Whittier, it was purchased and redesigned by Charles H. Tenney in 1882. On 76 acres, this castle was two stories high with five bays and modeled after a French chateau. This was Tenney’s summer residence. Tenney made his money in the hat business and worked and lived primarily in New York.

In 1951, the family gave up the property and it was used by many different organizations. Due to multiple fires, the property fell into disrepair. The Gatehouse is now the Methuen Historical Society. What is left behind of the castle is just a few stone walkways, columns, courtyard and an entry way.

The park is empty,not a person in sight. As we walk around the ruins, the architectural charm is still evident. I imagine what is was like in all its glory. The summer galas and children playing. As I am scoping the grounds, some men appear with equipment. The girls and I find this very suspicious since the park is closed. We decide to just continue exploring. As we come along the stable remains, we come along the men who had passed us earlier. They were taping. I thought, like me, they were taping the historical grandeur. Yet, I hear them calling a little girl… They are calling people from a past life. The people, specifically the children, that once roamed this area. The eeriness of conjured spirits was more than I wanted to experience so we quickly left the park. This place, like the others, tells a story. A story of wealth, of abundance, of destruction and apparently of children who never left.

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Magnificent Mill Memory

This week’s adventure brings me closer to home to Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Let’s go back in time to the year 1789 to Derbyshire, England. A man named Samuel Slater spent his life working in a cotton mill and had great dreams of coming to America and making it rich . England forbade textile workers from leaving the country for fear of technology leaking to other countries and hindering England’s lead and power. However, Slater found a way by sneaking out of England memorizing the plans to build textile machines. He eventually came to Pawtucket, where with the financial backing of Moses Brown established the first water power cotton mill in America in 1790.

The mighty Blackstone River provided water power.

Slater used mostly women and children to run his mill as it was cheaper labor. Children were also useful because they were small enough to crawl into the machines to unjam looms.

Slater’s wealth grew as he continued to build more mills. He eventually started a company mill town called Slatersville. This town had a mill, tenement houses, and a store.

Andrew Jackson refers to Slater as ” Father of the American Factory System” but people in England referred to him as “Slater the Traitor”.

All other mills in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts will evolve from Slater’s mill. The Industrial Revolution will forever change the New England economy. Many of these mills still exist today. Some are museums, while others are apartment buildings . As you visit these mills either through historical tours or walking the grounds, they tell you a story. The story of men with dreams to make it rich, a story of a family working long hours in treacherous conditions to make ends meet, and a story of economic change.

As I walk the grounds today in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States, I look around. I see a very well preserved historic site that excites me in all it has endured over time. I think of the people from the past and what they have endured as well. And the irony is that this site is located in a poor section of the city. Homeless lying in the park, streets littered with trash, the noise of construction on old buildings nearby. And I wonder how advanced have we really come…

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SPOOKY ADVENTURE

My next adventure brings us to an amazingly historically preserved location, Bannack State Park outside Dillon, Montana. Founded in 1862, when gold was discovered around the nearby creek. People flooded into this little town hoping to get rich. The town grew and flourished becoming the first territorial capital of Montana. As quickly as it grew, it quickly declined! It’s very existence depended on the extraction of gold. When World War II began, gold mining was put to a halt. This led to Bannack’s ultimate demise. By the mid-1940’s, people left Bannack in search of new jobs. With the post office closing in 1938 and the school house in the early 1950’s, the town ultimately was abandoned leaving behind a ghost town.

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Visiting in 2020, the town looks exactly the way it was left in 1950!! The buildings line the narrow street, doors creaking in the wind. The floors crackling from the weight of your footsteps, wallpaper hanging from the walls, empty root cellars, crooked outhouses, ghastly gallows and lonely grave sites all preserved to tell a story. A story that I can visualize and feel and even smell as I walk through this town. A story of a people with dreams, hopes, and fears. Some making it rich, some losing it all. I imagine them as I lean against the buildings where they once leaned. I imagine them as I touch the banister as I walk up the stairs in their now abandoned residences. I imagine them as I lock myself into the tiny cell with memories carved into the wood. This is indeed a treasure from the past!!!

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Lemhi Pass

Welcome to another Adventure in History! Today, we are moving further into the Dillon,Montana- Salmon, Idaho border. Today, we are crossing the Continental Divide!! Super cool!! Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery exploring the Louisiana Territory had to cross through this pass. This pass was a path carved through the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains over centuries by natives. I am taking you to the exact location that Lewis and a small scouting party used this path to be the first U.S. citizens to cross the Continental Divide. This is such an important landmark where the Corps of Discovery were finally leaving the very difficult Missouri River behind and finally entering into the Columbia River basin which would eventually take them to the Pacific Ocean. This took place on August 12, 1805. Well… this just happens to be my birthday. So of course, I take you to this location on August 12, 2020 on the 215th anniversary of their crossing. Enjoy the video below!

What is the Continental Divide you ask….you can always ask me questions in the comment box. Make sure to like and follow me so every week you will get a new adventure in your email.

View Corps of Discovery journal here

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