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.
Category Archives: New Jersey history
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!
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!
It was a great morning last Saturday, when Sandra Martin hosted a talk, reading, and book signing for me at BackYard Birds ‘n Books-Sandra being the books, in Bracey, VA. Anyone can read the book, so I enjoy talking about the “back story” that doesn’t get into the books. That’s fun.
Since one story about ghosts leads to other stories, I wound up talking a lot about Bordentown (NJ) and spirits that have visited me during the night. They were, among others, the Fraser family, coming one at a time to help me in locating information about them. This was when I was writing Major Fraser’s, the history of a particular house in Bordentown and all its inhabitants from Day One. Actually, before there was a building on the property. I enjoyed writing this book, so I love talking about the writing of it. The book is now out-of-print, but there are still a few copies floating around.
Even more interesting: since I brought my copy of The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring along with my passion for the story, and my discussing it, brought me being connected to the author through Lisa Hagan. We have both been long-time members of the IWWG. . . . hmmm. The more I think of this, the more I remember having a conversation or two with her during those years. WOW! Synchronicity. Ya gotta luv it!
A review on The Munich Girl will be coming up soon. You don’t want to miss it.
Mucho thanks to Sandra Martin for this wonderful moment in my life, shared with the best audience ever. They took part and shared some of their stories, too. How cool is that.
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,
some from the west or mid-west; wasn’t that a
reversal of history?
They came as owners
more on the list
of guys & gals
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
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
“good god, you look terrible!” he said, “what’s
happened to you?’ etc. etc. etc.
Shown in these pics are Lynn, Bernadette, Me, Kathy. Mike Walsh & others. roger-dodger & Bill. Stories from my younger days about the people I met tending bar. Meet Alabama Bob, Rodger-dodger, Johnnie Reb, the French-Canadians, the Horsey Set and more. These are stories of one person’s visions from the other side of the bar. The Afternoon Crowd is based at the American House Tavern in the rural, historical, New Egypt, New Jersey.
What better subject can we talk about on a snowy day nearing the end of February, than baseball? What do you know about women’s softball? And the early games? In New Jersey?
Back in 1934 “Toots” Nusse was busy, aside from working in a factory; she was busy organizing the Linden Arians of the Amateur Softball Association in New Jersey. The team was played by women, sometimes managed and coached by two men, Julius Rosenberg and Lloyd Kingsley. Her lifetime pitching record of 396-164, 109 shut-outs, 30 no-hitters, and more than 1700 strike-outs. There were times when other teams did not want to play against the Arians because they were sure to lose.
The author’s aunt, Anne Sabak tried out for the team, and was accepted while still in high school. She left soon afterwards to work in a shirt factory, but continued to play softball. This was the World War II years when women had to go the extra mile to help out while the men were overseas.
The book is full of personal photographs, newspaper reports, maps, facts, and figures. It is a “must read” for anyone interested in women’s history, baseball, or New Jersey history. Quite a few surprises will delight you.
Ms Silver is the author of Rancho San Miguel and In the Footsteps of Thomas Paine.
The book is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.