Category Archives: American History

Major Thomas & Jamie Fraser, the Outlander? Related?


Some time after writing Major Fraser’s I read Outlander the fictional story of Jamie Fraser by Diana Gabaldon. (I fell in love with Jamie, too.) There were so many similarities in the facts of my Thomas Fraser and Gabaldon’s Jamie that I wondered if she had used the same research that I did as a basis for Jamie. Of course Jamie and Thomas Fraser were very common names in Scotland back in the 1700s, probably still are today.
In Major Fraser’s, Thomas’ life is so much more than recording his role in the American Revolutionary War history. Writing is exhausting. Writing non-fiction is even more tedious because the facts must be checked and double checked. When I lay down in bed at night I fell quickly into a deep sleep, needing to be restored for the next day’s battle. I thought I was finished when I typed The End. But no, I was not.
Thomas and Anne Fraser’s children came to me during the night. These young adults woke from my deepest sleep to talk to me. They pleaded with me to continue on and tell their stories, too. So, I did and found more fascinating facts about part of the family emigrating from New Jersey to Europe in the 1800s. Caroline Georgina had married Prince Napoleon Lucien Charles Murat in Bordentown New Jersey. He was the son of Joachim Murat-King of Naples and Sicily, and nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. This made him royalty and royalty entitled the family to so much more.
Other siblings of Caroline Georgina including her twin, led exciting lives in their own country. This family made a mark in history that I have not read anywhere else. It includes a grand love affair between Major Thomas Fraser and the southern belle, Anne Loughton Smith, of the noted Smith family of South Carolina.
Major Fraser’s is also a complete history of a house on Prince Street that includes a history of the people who owned it, didn’t own it but lived there, and about the men who owned the property before a dwelling was built on it. Major Fraser is one of those who did not own it, yet it is still referred to as Major Fraser’s.

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Filed under American History, books, Bordentown, New Jersey history, psychic phenomena

THE MUNICH GIRL BY PHYLLIS EDGERLY RING –REVISITED


It’s been more than a year since I first read The Munich Girl and loved it so much that I waited a whole year to have my book discussion group share in the experience. A list of books set in place was to be read first. It was worth the wait. We particularly discussed the many relationships in the book. The intricacies of a friendship, even one that is only renewed every four years and holds secrets, can be a delicate situation. It certainly was with Peggy and Eva. We recognized that the story was well researched with Eva coming across clearly, bringing out Hitler’s intimate relationship in the process.
The discussion also spread to our political situation today with many comparisons made about what we, as Americans, are facing today. We talked about the effect the leader of a country has on certain people that apply his damaged way of thinking to allow them to bully and brutalize others.
We talked about how the women of today have so much more power and the avenue to use it than in the 30s and 40s. Hopefully, more women will go into the political arena and truly change our country for the better. We spoke of how the brave women of today will no longer tolerate sexual coercion from powerful men and put shame on the shoulders of those who have taken advantage of their power.
The story brought us into ‘what if’ speculations. What if Peggy had known earlier of who Eva’s secret ‘man’ was or what if Peggy had made a different choice about staying in Germany or moving to America.
Finally we listened to Ellie who was a newly married 17 years old, soon-to-be-a-mother whose husband left to fight in WWII. She stated that communication was not what it is today. Much of the events happening at the time were not known to the general public in our country. What she had to deal with was daily existence and keeping a household together until her husband came home.
Many thanks to Phyllis Edgerly Ring for flushing out this story of the people who did not support Hitler, of relationships, recovery after a war, sacrifices made, and for revealing the life of Eva Braun.

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Filed under American History, book review, fiction, women, women's stories, WWII

more on A Nosegay of Violets, a writer’s memoir of psychic awakening

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Waiting so long to write about the strange things that happened to me was a natural decision.  I first spoke about seeing a ghost while I was working in my bookshop in Bordentown, New Jersey. This came freely because I was conducting an annual ghost walk as a fund raiser for my business group. There were other houses on the tour that also had true stories of hauntings. There is a comfort and freedom when you are among your own kind. And people who lived with ghosts in their houses were my kind.

Once word got out that I lived with a little girl ghost in my house, others came to me with their stories. They, too, had not spoken of their experiences for the same reasons. One, who would believe them? Two, how many people would ridicule and make fun of them? Three, would the value of their homes drop? And more reasons followed.

Once houses were placed on the tour, they became, if any change at all, higher in value. People sought haunted houses to live in because they wanted that experience. It became cool.

Remember, Bordentown was settled in 1682, adding much Revolutionary War history to its stories. The earlier residents were practically still living to the present-day residents. We kept their personalities alive and familiar through the Historical Society and through fund raisers. One of which was a Friday evening garden party at the DeSantis house. Several of us dressed in our chosen Bordentown “hero/shero.” We had many to choose from.

The first year I wore all white as was the custom of Quaker Patience Lovell Wright. She was America’s first woman sculptor (mostly in wax) who spied in the court of King George in England, sending all the information she discovered to Benjamin Franklin. He was living in France at the time.

Once we entered the garden in costume, we became that person, staying in character, answering questions as that person would have done. It was great fun and imbedded history into our bones. I’m not quite sure about Ms. Wright drinking wine, tho she could have. No wonder ghosts came out of the woodwork!

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Filed under American History, books, Bordentown, Ghost Walk, hauntings, living with ghosts, Memoir, New book release, New Jersey history, paranormal, psychic phenomena

LOOKING FOR ‘CUDA BROWN by Thomas Park- book review

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This collection of extraordinary poems tells the story of vivid, African-American characters who have passed through the life of the author in a small, rural town in the South. Sometimes they entertain and sometimes salty tears burst, overflowing the eyelid wells, for the terrible tragedy of a life. Park has reached deep into his soul to let you know that these people lived and died and mattered, without any judgment from him. If these characters were not noticed in life, they will remain with the reader for a long, lingering time.
In all his honesty, Park reports on events that happened . . . and didn’t happen. When dreams blossomed with hope for a community and were taken away leaving disappointment for many who worked hard, giving their all, to bring about ideal living. The author exudes love of his community. He shows this caring by continuing to encourage the arts, the love of words and writing to anyone who wants to participate. I love this book.

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Filed under American History, book review, New book release, poetic narrative, Poetry, reflection, The South, warren county nc

REVOLUTIONARY WAR GHOSTS

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LIVING WITH GHOSTS
History often plays such a big part in a haunting. It seems some folks felt such passion about the place they once lived and the events that took place while they lived there, that they just don’t want to leave it. Remember that time in the afterlife is not like we count time here on earth.
It’s not unusual for a Revolutionary War soldier to show up in a Bordentown house, as it has in a couple (Living with Ghosts) where so much intense passion was felt during that period. In the Anderson Street and the White House stories, both places went under some major remodeling. This really brings the spirits out of the woodwork, and it takes a lot of time for them to settle back down again.
Of course, I don’t know why they should care, they just walk through walls (where the doorway used to be) anyway. Wow. What a talent to have!

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Filed under American History, Bordentown, hauntings, living with ghosts, New Jersey history, paranormal

SNOW & READING. . .

The_Afternoon_Crowd_Cover_for_Kindlejpg If you are planning to cozy up with a good book after a day of creating snow sculptures, here is a brief excerpt from THE AFTERNOON CROWD.

THE HORSEY SET
Arlene S. Bice © 2016.1.24.

they came with bruised, calloused hands coarser than sandpaper
to lift a shot of whiskey chased by a cold mug of beer, a reward
for hard work done out in the elements, thanks not given, except
what they gave themselves; not a lot of time to linger; even on
Christmas Day horses had regular schedules to keep and these
workers were there to keep ‘em

they came from all parts of the country, from Canada, and the
Caribbean, landed here in the center of New Jersey, to work on
one particular horse farm or another; how did they find us,
I wondered
some from the west or mid-west; wasn’t that a
reversal of history?

They came as owners
foremen
trainers
drivers
jockeys
walkers
water boys
stable hands

more on the list
of guys & gals
hard working
no shifting duties
either you were good
carrying your own weight or you were out

the owners came more often in the evening, for dinner
when the daytime bar folks did not; or they came for a
few celebratory drinks after the races were over

one trainer/owner
who I happened to like above others
usually a pleasant fellow
a common sense guy
never nasty or stupid
always came in alone;

this day he came in, dragging
he carried the look of the lonely on him
I knew he was married and I knew not happily
and I knew this day that his trouble was the
wife, not the horses;
a man has a certain look about him when it is
a woman that weighs on his mind; my heart
went out to him as my ears just listened, that
was all he wanted and couldn’t get anywhere
else to go along with his shot and beer

a year later, when he came in our positions were
reversed;
“good god, you look terrible!” he said, “what’s
happened to you?’ etc. etc. etc.

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Filed under American History, books, historical taverns, New Jersey history, poetic narrative, Poetry, snow, Uncategorized

Book reading/signing at the Vance Co. Genealogy Society, Henderson NC

Author Arlene Bice in Colonial garb.

Author Arlene Bice in Colonial garb.

Come out to hear the unprinted, inside story of The Afternoon Crowd at the American House Tavern program, written by Arlene S. Bice dressed in colonial garb. The program is hosted by the Vance County Genealogy Society during their monthly meeting on Monday, October 12, 2015 at 6:30 P.M. in the Farm Bureau room of the Perry Memorial Library in Henderson, NC.

This is a fun book as well as recording the history of the 70s, set in the middle of horse country. Bring in your book to be signed or purchase one there for $10. Please plan to attend this informative meeting. All VCGS meetings are open to the public.

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Filed under American History, books, booksigning, historical taverns, Memoir