We shared a curious mind, a thirst for faraway places with strange sounding names and foods prepared in an unfamiliar manner and served in pleasant surroundings. Angelo was a terrific travel mate. Going to racetracks to watch the horses run were weekly trips between travels to Australia, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Tahiti, Canada, and the USA. I was a novice at the beginning of this racing journey and not greatly knowledgeable when it ended. But it was fun and encompassed so much more than horse racing. I picked a few winners too, mostly by being devoted to the feminine entering the field of jockeys. They were like a bud bursting into a flower at springtime. I also followed my instinct for the long shots and the racing form for the lesser payoff of favorites. These were pre-internet years when information was not readily available at my fingertips.
the Hamilton B & N and Amazon on-line carries the Arcadia Series of Bordentown books (with pictures) (3) it helps to identify the buildings in town and homes of important and famous residents of the past. Photos of Hoagland’s Tavern burning are in these books. Enjoy!
Synchronicity pops up often in my life, as it did a few days ago. A friend handed me a book, Portrait of a Past Life Skeptic by Robert L. Snow that her daughter told her to give to me. I was pleasantly surprised as I recognized the title and author’s name. In 2012 he spoke at the A.R.E. in Virginia Beach, VA where I was attending a past-life regression seminar. I was impressed with his story but had limited funds for buying books, so I didn’t get his that day.
As I read his story it brought his appearance back to me. He was a police captain for 30 years in Indianapolis, IN who, on a dare, experienced a past life regression with Dr. Griffith. As his career must suggest, he believed in facts, only facts; the here and now, certainly no New-Age stuff, even after his session.
It was difficult for him to accept that he once lived in the 1800s as an extremely successful artist, J. Carroll Beckwith. Yet the experience rolled around in the back of his mind until he started doing some research to disprove what happened to him once and for all. Except that it didn’t disprove it. Instead it proved that he once lived as the artist.
Being an artist, I had been impressed by his story enough to do some research of my own and found a few of his paintings online. His most famous portrait of The Lady in Red was featured in one of my art books. Even though I had learned some bits about reincarnation when I heard him speak, I learned even more by reading his full story in the book. I especially enjoyed his wrap-up at the end where he says how the experience has opened his mind to learn so much more about life and the afterlife.
I loved his book! Taking the day off from a computer who was sassing back at me in the way of not doing what I wanted it to do, I finished reading the book in one day. When I emailed Lisa, thanking her, not knowing why she chose to send it to me, but happy that she did.
Well, she didn’t. She sent it to my friend Arlene and it got to me by mistake! Or by synchronicity!
Writers often mention how, once begun, a story takes over and goes off in its own direction. It exercises a power leading the writer in the way it wants to be told. This is so true in reference to the book Major Fraser’s. The spirit of those who lived at 201 Prince Street was emerging as if from the woodwork and overpowers my thoughts and my fingers as I type their histories. They stay with me throughout the day, becoming my constant companions even when I’m not at the computer. The bond between houses and people lay in the back of my mind and smolder there.
The writing of the story began when the present owner of the house, John, asked me if I would put his massive collection of information on the house in order. I misunderstood and thought he wanted me to research the house from its earliest inhabitants and put them in book form. I believe there are no accidents in life only events that happen for a reason.
When I completed the work and presented it to John, he was surprised. He had no idea that I was writing a book for him, yet was pleased with the end result. I was finished, or so I thought.
The story would not let go of me. It stayed with me, nagging at me. I dreamed of the inhabitants who lived at that address as if they are my ancestors waiting to be brought to the drawing room to be introduced to company. The Major’s wife and family came to me, waking me at 3 a.m. pleading with me to tell their story, too.
So I asked John if I may publish his story. As the frame of a house wants filling in, adding to it; so the histories of some people want to be brought forth. With his permission, my research expanded.
Facts kept falling into place like a child’s puzzle. Information that I couldn’t find before, popped up in front of me. Material that came to me from the Internet was searched and researched in print form for accuracy. Of course errors are made in print also, especially when transcribing forms from the 1600s and 1700s.
Alas, in this day of the Information Highway, new facts are always coming to the surface. I expended hour after hour to prove what I wrote was the truth…….at least as someone had seen it and I believed it.
The Farnsworth family first grabbed onto me. There were a few different lines of Farnsworths that came to the Colonies early. It was devilish trying to keep them separate.
A few stories were extended because they were just too good to let lay in a drawer somewhere. A chuckle told me that not all our ancestors were serious and respectable was definitely welcome after hours of dry, dusty words.
Another particular family story, that of the Fraser’s, held me tight. It was as if Major Fraser wanted his honor and respect for his military record to stand on its own merit. His wife, Mrs. Anne Loughton Smith Fraser came to me at night, (they were visits, not dreams) told me where to seek her background; the family she came from with their honorable saga of settling in the Charleston, South Carolina area. Every place she guided me to, had the information I needed. With her maiden name of Smith, the search could have been difficult, if not downright impossible, without going to Charleston. Wow, what a way to research!
Not to be put aside, the Fraser children tugged at my shirttails, letting me know that they, too, became a part of history in our still young country. It was a wonder that I got any sleep at all with all this company coming to me at night.
Their stories left Bordentown to extend outside the United States borders, but were too good not to include. Caroline Georgina attached hers, through the love of a prince, to France. Caroline Georgina’s twin, William eventually settled in Washington D.C. I think about his selling horses to the Union Army during the American War Between The States. He must have been torn by this war between the north and the south and the two homes he was raised in.
On a visit to the Wilson Library in Chapel Hill, North Carolina I held in my hands, Jane Winter Fraser’s hand-written books, written for her nieces and nephews, from her days in Bordentown. Rampant emotions ran through me as I struggled to decipher her hand writing. I heard her whispers in my ear. She was whispering in my ear while I was reading her book! I kept looking around to see if anyone was noticing. Becoming too unsettled, I finally copied page after page of her book to take home to decipher.
Her sister Maria Fraser blazed trails in the west. Because she was coming to me at night and woouldn’t let me go either, I continued to search and to record what I found.
The Major fought valiantly on the side of the British during the Revolutionary War. Bordentown was a majority of Patriots but forgiving after the War of some Loyalists, certainly where the Major and his family were concerned. By the time he came to Bordentown peace had returned to a nation still building itself.
After the War he settled into plantation life of South Carolina. In summer he brought his family north, first to Philadelphia then by invitation from his friend Dr. William Burns to Bordentown. He was leaving behind the fatal diseases of the heat that invaded their own southern home and often the city of Philadelphia.
Out of his eleven children several of them later made Bordentown their primary home, even buying property of their own after the Major died in 1820.
His daughter Caroline Georgina’s marrying Prince Lucien Murat, nephew of Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte, probably influenced folks to continue calling the house by a name given to it two hundred years ago. It is still referred to as “Major Fraser’s” house.
It is their visits to me in the middle of the night that encouraged me to continue writing their family stories and publishing them, so this part of history will not be left in some dusty storeroom and forgotten.
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.
Yup! I drove 185 miles last Wednesday to have lunch with the delightful Amy Newmark, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame! She graciously treated me, along with 5 other women and a few husbands and a friend in the mix! We dined at Bonefish Grill in Arlington, VA on the best Lump Crab & Corn Chowder, Fish Tacos with steamed spinach/garlic and too full, I brought my cheesecake home for later indulgence. It was just great to chat with the other authors and to hear Amy’s story of the Chicken Soup books. She started telling us from the beginning, about buying the company when other book publishers were fading from sight; into the process of reading all those stories that come in, sorting them out, finding titles for a new series, etc. Ms. Newmark is a woman who exudes happiness as she talks and who leads an interesting life loving what she does.
Her cool assistant Maureen put together gift bags for each of us with Chicken Soup books and a charming mug & matching spoon with the CS for the S logo. It was a lovely 3 hours with a smart, informative and imaginative woman. THANK YOU AMY NEWMARK! You offer opportunities for writers to stretch their writing muscles and get published!
H-m-m-m. My 185 mile ride home gave me plenty of time to think about another story to submit.
Telling Your Story- Writing memoir is many things to the writer. It’s often a trip down a path that got you to where you are today, showing the result of sometimes funny things that happened to you and sometimes not so funny. You can write parts of that path, starting out at a bend in the road and ending at a bend further down the road. There is no need to try to start at the very beginning. That may overwhelm you, especially if you are older than 30 and have lived a full and varied life. I can promise you that if you write everyday, even if it is only a half hour, you will begin to remember moments you thought you had forgotten forever. It’s true, the more you write, the more you remember without effort. It just comes, sneaking up on you like a kitten trying to get your attention with a soft, tiny paw tapping on your knee.
About a year ago, I began writing about the 15 years of traveling Angelo and I did stopping at horseracing tracks from as far away as Australia, across our country, Canada, and even the Curragh in Ireland. So, look for RUNNING WITH THE HORSES, expected publishing date is August of this year.
HAVE I TOLD YOU? Booksigning for Ellie Newbauer went beautifully well today at the Rosemont Winery. A good turnout of friends from near and far on a lovely, sunny afternoon raised glasses in tribute to our 92 year old leader of the pack. Many HAVE I TOLD YOU? Conversations were carried on. We each read a page from Ellie’s book before we asked her to do the same.