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A Place on Wills Creek: A Short Story Prequel to The Scattering of Stones

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I’m excited that the second in the series of what I now dub The Maggie Chronicles will be published by HBE Publishing soon. So, to express my delight, here’s a gift to all who’ve read the first book, The Scattering of Stones, (or who might want to).

It’s a free (longish) short story about how Jacob Carter arrived up on Wills Creek.

 

The cover designed by Pam Mullins gives you a sneak peak at the cover style for the series. I’m so excited about it. The cover to the new book, The Forging of Frost, will have a similar look, and The Scattering of Stone’s cover gets a facelift to match! THANK YOU, PAM!

Select the link below to view the prequeal!
http://online.fliphtml5.com/kmkq/nvaf/index.html

(To my subscribers, I apologize for the premature, imperfect post. This was a big learning curve. And thank you, Audra for your help with the technical end of this.)

The Questions I Didn’t Ask

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The questions I didn't ask.

I almost could not use this photo. It spoke so clearly to the questions I didn’t ask. 

When The Scattering of Stones first came out, I got a phone call from an old friend offering congratulations. After some pretense at small talk—not my specialty—I asked him how he was. This was not small talk, not with this man. Joe (not his real name) is a Vietnam vet. He is also a victim of our indiscriminant use of Agent Orange. He managed a supply depot in Vietnam and handled the chemical everyday.

 

So I asked him how his heart was doing. Agent Orange, the verified culprit in his heart battles, has earned him regular disability checks. After numerous operations, too many for me to hold on my plate, he assured me he was doing “pretty well.”

Then I asked him about his throat cancer, not officially Agent Orange related. With his permanently graveled voiced, he told me that, while the disease dragged him down, things were going “pretty well.”

Joe, as you have likely perceived, is a stoic man, not one for self-pity wallows. But he had more to say. Talk turned to the cancer center where he was receiving treatment, and the intensive interview they required for admission.

They weren’t the usual questions, Joe informed me, “They were hard.”

They asked him about Vietnam. Not just the surface stuff—everything. What he did, where he went, who he met, how he felt. They wanted details. So he wrote, and a closeted world opened wide. The memories he captured were more than recollections. They documented a time that changed who he was, and retrieving them, writing them down, helped. Someone asked. And he answered. But what if no one asks?

Between my high school boy crush and the man I wisely married, two men stand out. The first was the love of my life. Yes, it sounds trite, but he is, and ever will be, exactly that. Dopamine and serotonin flowed through my veins and I was deeply (foolishly) in love.

We met soon after he returned from Vietnam. He was a medic there. I don’t recall how I know this. I don’t think I asked. I don’t know where he served; I don’t know for how long; I don’t know what happened while he was there. I never asked him. I almost asked. I considered it, briefly.

We had driven to San Francisco to visit a friend from his time in Vietnam. They stayed up late talking. and, when he crawled into his sleeping bag next to me, I tried to get close. “Not tonight,” he said. I could feel his angst. It was palpable. But “not tonight” seemed to me like “don’t ask.” So I never did.

Now, let me get honest. Looking back, I realize that for all my love of him, it was really about me. I was twenty-one, and, like Joe, the soldier battling Agent Orange, said—the questions were hard.

I was looking for fairytales. I wanted to be loved. What I didn’t get, what eluded me, was that love (not the dopamine-high version of it) comes of understanding. And to understand, you need to ask. I regret never asking. I regret never asking him many things. It kills me to realize that I burned for love of him but never really knew him. So how can I call that love?

Anyway, I said there were two men. The second came of my imperfect, broken attempt to rid my heart of the first. Leaving the first, which I somehow construed as being left, tore me apart. I was an emotional basket case pretending to be free. The second man was my maybe.

He had also recently returned from Vietnam. An artist, talented beyond measure, he showed me his sketches from overseas. They were heart-wrenching depictions. Personal. One lives forever inside me—a young Vietnamese girl, only her face, looking up with haunted eyes. It was a perfect time to talk about his time there. I let it slip away.

Recently, I reconnected. I hinted that I’d love to have coffee some time, but fell back into some old silliness and never explained why. Besides, how do you explain that you want to ask hard questions—by e-mail? And why? To close a chapter in MY life? To finish something left undone? To do it right?

Admittedly, my questions might have been (and might now be) sidestepped, evaded, or rejected as too intimate. I might have been told “not now.” I may be the wrong person to even ask. Someone with more courage—a friend, a loved one, a practitioner at a cancer center—may have posed the questions and they might have answered. I hope so. Their stories are important.

Near the end of Scattering the heroine says,

“…for the things I did not do, out of fear or ignorance or both, for all those lost opportunities, I do hope time forgives me.”

Those words didn’t come out of nowhere. So…

Tell me about the time you served. Where did you go? What did you do? What was it like? How did you feel? And how did it change you? (Not “Did it change you?” It changed you. So, how?)

I’m finally asking, now, and I’m sorry I waited.

Photo acknowledgement: Twentieth Century “Angel of Mercy” — D. R. Howe (Glencoe, MN) treats the wounds of Private First Class D. A. Crum (New Brighton, PA), “H” Company, 2nd Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, during Operation Hue City. National Archives #532484 Marine Corp photo [wikimedia.org]

 

 

 

Family Felch and a Converging on Ohio Update

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children only

FIND YOUR “REAL THING!” Here is mine:from the Williamstown records found in Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. I am fictionalizing their story. What stories are buried in your family’s long ago time?

As promised in my previous post, I have researched and updated the now broken brick wall of Amy Felch who married Zerah Payne in Maine. They, soon after, moved to Coshocton County, Ohio, and were the grandparents of Sarah Angelina Payne Smith who married my great grandfather, Calvin Croy. Use the search box on the right to find out more about these family members and the research to back my findings.

 

I have also updated the Ohio page which can be reached at the very top of my website. I rectified an error that excluded the Pennsylvania family sheets and added what you see below.

Again, I encourage you to go beyond name searches and search the written records themselves, when available. Most of the Felch research, beyond what I discussed in the previous post, came from the Massachusetts Vital and Town Records, an accumulation of the Town and City Clerk records of MA (found on line through Ancestry and Family Search).

This information is so complete and wide ranging that I decided to take a detour. Since I knew the town of residence for Samuel and Abigail Payne while they lived in Massachusetts (Williamstown), I went to the town records themselves and found the actual longhand record of their children’s births! I’d had the indexed records for a long time, but what a treat to see the real thing!

Here are the results of my Felch family foray. 

From Massachusetts to Maine

Maine LOC 1798 copy

The Felch Family meets up with the Paynes

Here are the family sheets with births, deaths, and important detail that I have discovered so far. Any comments that help further the investigation are welcome. To err is human, and I have surely been human in my attempts. FELCH Family Sheet

The Maine Family Felch

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Maine LOC 1798 copy

SW corner of Maine, 1798. I’ve underlined key places. A. Where Jonathan and Sarah were married. B. Where Jonathan lived first. C. Where his brother, Abijah, lived. D. Where Jonathan moved in 1799 and where Zerah Payne and Amy Felch Payne married. Find full map at Library of Congress here.

I had to say STOP. With the launch of The Scattering of Stones complete, the “final” edit of book two, The Forging of Frost, nearly finished, my third book’s characters screaming their story in my ear, I turned to my heritage. I’m so glad I did.

Enter the Felch family, particularly Amy Felch. I’ve long avoided tackling the ancestry of Amy (Amey) Felch (Feltch), wife of Zerah Payne.[i] I knew she married him[ii] but had no definitive documentation of her parentage. Still, while researching book number three, a fictionalized account of Samuel Payne and wife, Abigail Graham (Grimes) Payne in Bennington County, Vermont, she kept popping to mind. So I dove in.

While the genealogy research adage—work your way back—is true, sometimes you must succumb—and work your way forward. The Memorial History of the Felch Family in America and Wales, written in 1881 by W. Farrand Felch of Columbus, Ohio, it is a wonderful, well-researched read. Find it here. (I’m a history/genealogy nerd so consider the source.)

He gives us this abbreviated tree where I’ve underlined the key ancestry.memorialhistoryo00felc_0071 chart

Amy Felch isn’t listed in the book, but one comment stood out. It was a reference to the offspring of Nathaniel Felch (Henry, Henry Jr., John) and Mary Hanks.

“Nathaniel [Jr.] had a son born at Reading (Jonathan) April 2 1762, exactly one year after his marriage, and he soon afterwards removed to Maine, where all trace is lost of his descendants; a tradition says that he settled in the center of Maine where his stalwart descendants still reside, ‘all six-footers.’”[iii]

Since Zerah Payne married Abigail Felch in Hallowell, Kennebec, Maine, I thought I should investigate. From my search, I think I can, with some confidence, trace Abigail’s family history.

A tree and family sheet for Amy Felch Paynes family is in the works. Until then, I’ve expanded W. Farrand Payne’s tree, as follows:new felch tree

My rational:

  • No record of Nathaniel Felch and Molly Hammond Felch[iv] in Maine (so far) indicating they may have died before 1790 or did not make the trip to Maine. However
  • A search for Jonathan Felch shows his marriage to Sarah Appelby (Appleby, Applebee) 28 January 1784 by Matthew Merriam, pastor of the 2nd Church of Berwick, Maine. At the time he lived at Shapleigh, then Hubbardstown Plantation, Maine[v]
  • The 1790 Federal Census shows a Jona Felsh (male over 16) living in Shapleigh, York, Maine with 2 males under 16 and 3 females (one likely Sarah, the others—children Betsey and Amy). They lived next door to Hannah Felsh. (could this be the second wife widow of Nathaniel?)
  • The Maine 1799 early census index shows a Jonathan Felch in Pittston, Kennebec County, ME in 1799
  • The 1800 Federal Census shows a Jonathan Feltch (male 26-44) living in Shapleigh, York, Maine with 2 Males under 10, 2 Females under 10, 1 Female 10-15, 1 Female 16-25. (Was this Sarah? Indicating her age at marriage as 15. Jonathan would have been 38. Or, more likely a female child—see 1790—indicating Sarah’s death by 1800.) They lived next to a Samuel Feltch, see below.
  • Samuel Felch married Salley (Sarah) Bracket, both of Shapleigh 21 December 1800. (possible brother or step-brother of Jonathan—Find-a-Grave stone gives death 23 September 1836, calculated birth 1777.)
  • Jonathan Felch, residence, Pittston, was a defendant in a case of debt at the Kennebec County Supreme Judicial Court in June 1802
  • A Betsey Felch married Seth Lamb in Hallowell, Kennebec, Maine on 8 November 1807
  • Zerah W. Payne and Amy Felch marry in Hallowell, Kennebec, Maine on 3 May
  • The 1810 Federal Census shows a Jonathan Felch, over 45, in Hallowell, Kennebec, Maine with 1 Male under 10, 1 Male 10-15, 2 Males 16-25, 2 Females 10-15, and a Female over 45. (This accounts for all but one male child from earlier accounts and all females but the two oldest, by then married. Note: the 1800 census does not account for 2 males. More research is needed to determine Jonathan and Sarah’s progeny.
  • By 1810 Amy Felch Payne (the subject of this research) and Zerah Payne had disappeared from Maine, though their first born Samuel Felch Payne lists Massachusetts as his birth place.[vi] Their next know residence is implied by an advertisement of a Zerah Payne’s shoe business placed in the Zanesville Express and Republican Standard, 14 February 1814—not quite 8 years after their marriage.

If anyone has more information, I would love to hear from you!

[i] She bore Sephronia Payne, who married Henry Smith, and bore Sarah Angelina Smith Croy (my great-grandmother and wife of Calvin Croy). Evidence listed in other posts.
[ii] Zerah W. Payne m. Amey Felch 30 May 1808 in Hallowell, Kennebec, Maine. Maine Marriage Records, 1713-1922. Augusta, Maine: Maine State Archives. Ancestry.com [accessed 14 March 2018]
[iii] pg 26 of Felch book
[iv] Nathaniel Felch of Weston m Molly Hammond, 2 April 1761. Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute. Ancestry.com. [accessed 14 March 2018]
[v] New England Historic Genealogical Society. The England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston Ancestry.com [accessed 14 March 2018} and Maine Marriage Records, 1713-1922. Augusta, Maine: Maine State Archives. Ancestry.com [accessed 14 March 2018]
[vi] Maine was part of Massachusetts in 1810, his calculated date of birth: 1860 census for Vincennes, Knox, Indiana

Finding a Map for THE SCATTERING OF STONES

Margaret Carter's map

Margaret Carter’s map of the travels of her mother, Mary Carter. Original art by Linda Zupcic. copyright DCWright

My upcoming book, The Scattering of Stones, is the story of a Mary Hutton Carter’s migration from fear into courage and from Western Pennsylvania to the Ohio frontier, with stops and trials along the way. Descendant, Maggie Carter Smith, doggedly follows the heroine by examining obscure documents, clue by clue.

Any genealogist, amateur or professional, knows how essential historical maps are to researching an ancestor. As Mary’s story unfolded, it became clear to me (and my pal’s at The Writing Gym) that I needed a map.

As I perused map after map from the period, one thing became clear—maps are products of the times. The cartographers relied on current knowledge, the instruments of the time, guesstimates of distance, and a wealth of creative spellings. In fact, one dilemma I faced in writing my book was whether to spell Pittsburgh as it is spelled today or as it was often spelled in the 18th century (Pittsburg). I used today’s spelling in order to avoid seemed ill informed. The same issue arose for Allegany/Allegheny/Alleghany.

I came up with my best version of a map covering the territory in my story by grabbing from a variety of sources. But I do not draw worth a hill o’ beans. I would need something better. That is where Linda Zupcic came in. A fabulous artist in her own right, she agreed to turn my childish renderings into something better—much better. But first she wanted a sense of what I envisioned. So, what did I envision? I wanted a hand-drawn map; one Maggie the genealogist might have discovered long after the story ended. But what did that look like?

Harriet E. Baker, 1819 Windsor, Vermont

This example drawn by schoolgirl Harriet E. Baker of Windsor, Vermont, in 1819 courtesy of The David Rumsey Map Collection

True to 21st century human sesibilities, I googled “Hand-drawn 19th century maps” and discovered an amazing world of very special maps. During the turn from the 18th to 19th century, school children, particularly young women attending “finishing schools,” learned geography and penmanship by drawing maps. These beautiful renditions included maps of the stars, earth, continents, countries, states, and counties. Some were meticulously rendered and others displayed an artful flair. There are a number of articles on-line about them. One is by National Geographic and another is by David Ramsey. You can see a slide show of his collection here.

These maps, made by teenagers, mostly girls, were my inspiration. In my imagination I saw a daughter creating a map of her mother’s travels. Not perfect, a product of time and circumstance, she tucked it away, for Maggie to find long after my story is ends. Linda captured it perfectly. It appears in black and white, in The Scattering of Stones. I offer it in its true beauty here, with thanks to a talent far surpassing mine.

Oh, one tiny tease—the map has a bleed through. You might wonder why.

 

A Scattering of Songs: Playlist for THE SCATTERING OF STONES

The Scattering of Stones Playlist JPEG

A story, at its best, pulls your feeling-self along on a journey, plucking at your heartstrings—like a song. That said, I never listen to music while I write. It is my time for silence and words on a page. But before, between, and after—it transports me to the story’s world. The present day heroine of my story, Maggie Carter Smith, is an amateur genealogist searching the 18th century frontier for a female ancestor, not an easy task in a world where women count for so little that official records, other than church and probate, rarely named them.

If Maggie listened to music that carried her into Mary Hutton’s story, the following would be her playlist. Anyway, it’s my playlist, and I want to share it. I hope you search out these artists, buy their songs, and enter what, for me, was the feeling-world of The Scattering of Stones. Better yet, buy their albums, because each album holds may more heartfelt songs. All are available on i-tunes, Amazon, or where ever you purchase your music. And PLEASE, don’t just listen to stations like Pandora. I’m not knocking them. I discover artists by listening on those sites, but they skip over so much these artists have to offer. I believe in supporting artistry with my pocketbook.

Song Bird by Eva Cassidy Eva Cassidy is an old soul. She left our world a long time ago, but her songs and gorgeous voice live on. I find the feeling of love, especially the innocence of a first love, unscathed by time, difficult to capture. The songs come off as saccharine and silly. Not Song Bird. It expresses beautifully the belief that one person can transform your world—though that belief may be short lived.

Second Chances by Gregory Alan Isakov My favorite, favorite new songwriter! He infuses words with the feeling of place. The Scattering of Stones speaks to the crossroad between place and feeling. Second Chances speaks to the forgiveness we find there.

Storm Comin’ by The Wailin’ Jennys The Jennys are harmony at its best, like being transported to a church in the wildwoods long ago. Storm Comin’ sings to facing the storms in your life straight on and finding the gifts therein.

Ghosts That We Knew by Mumford & Sons One of the more popular bands on my list and I love them. Every album contains a wealth of songs with words spun like silk. Ghosts informs what real love is about, beyond first blush, when the ache of living intervenes.

The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakov (different album) This songwriter weaves words into worlds. The Stable Song sings of the pull of Ohio and what it holds. I feel it, Maggie feels it, and so did Mary. Beautiful lyrics, and I do so love soft-spoken banjo pickin’ with feeling.

Sand and Water by Beth Nielsen Chapman No words come when I think of this song. I discovered it long after the book was written. Anything I say would be a spoiler. Chapman’s voice and the words create an atmosphere that… Like I said, no words. Listen, and if you don’t cry—what’s wrong with you?

Long Time Traveller by The Wailin’ Jennys (different album) A cappella harmony—I want it played at my wake. Oops, is that a spoiler?

Build a Levee by Natalie Merchant I lean toward alternative, blue grassy, folk-style music with transformational lyrics. This comes from my husband’s blues-rock leanings, and it is perfect. Ever needed a song to keep you strong against a seduction? This is a woman’s song. And the instrumental is great.

Take Me Back by Sarah Jarosz My most contemporary find, her new album came out after my book was written. This song is an anthem for my book.

Transcendental Reunion by Mary Chapin Carpenter Mary’s words are always gorgeous. I recommend her everything. She has been a long time favorite of mine, and this song captures perfectly the intersect between Maggie and Mary’s worlds.

The Things I’ve Gone and Done by Carrie Newcomer A message spoken through song is Carrie Newcomer’s thing. Her messages are hopeful, spiritual, and instructive. I ran across this song after the book was finished, though I’d listened to it many times in the past. If I could point to one song that was the theme of my book it would be this one and…

String of Pearls by Rhiannon Gidden A song of life—what struck me was that I found this song and a science special about string theory’s definition of time within the same week. My left brain/right brain absorbed them, twisted the two representations around and became a manifesto that morphed, and morphed again, into the first pages of my book.

The Scattering of Stones is at the publisher now. I had to let go, and letting go is like pushing a child from the nest. You know you could have done better if you knew then what you know now, but you love her. You think she’s pretty damn special, and she will do just fine out there. Besides, other children need your attention now. You have pictures (or a playlist) to visit whenever you like, a place to relive that world, so long ago.

“It had never occurred to me before that music and thinking are so much alike. In fact you could say music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music.”  in honor of Ursula K. Le Guin—a pearl resting in peace

Which songs and artists make you think?

 

 

 

The Scattering of Stones: Treaty after Indian Treaty

 

hist_map_nwoh_1817

Showing the Lewistown, Hog Creek, and Wapakoneta Reservations of Shawnee: much more on their history, as well as current information at the Shawnee Tribe Official Website

During the eighteenth century, America’s indigenous tribes lived on Pennsylvania’s western frontier—no debate. But when I began writing my novel, The Scattering of Stones, I made every attempt to ignore them. It was denial at the highest level—born of respect and a profound sense of inadequacy to the task of representing them. But how can you write the story of a man and woman who settled on that frontier in the 1770’s and migrated into Ohio in the 1800’s without addressing a simple fact: western migration happened because of treaties the US government made with tribes. Expressed more accurately, the treaties happened because settlers wanted (and squatted) on the desired land.

I live in a community with three reservations. In California we call them Rancherias. As an elementary school principal, I was intimately involved in the lives of people living on those Rancherias. I unearthed the old mascot t-shirts featuring a bigheaded, big-nosed cartoon “warrior” wielding a tomahawk. I made my little version of progress by replacing the image with a feather as the graphic (though the warrior mascot remained and returned, in more acceptable ways, as soon as I retired). I made trips to the Rancheria with a teacher whose family came from the Rancheria. And I’ll admit, I was nervous—even with her standing by.

I regret my fears. I met a wealth of wonderful people whose history had created some serious problems and who deservedly mistrusted people like me. So who was I to give voice to these original settlers in a fiction based on my infiltrating ancestors?

Historical fiction is a version of a world that once lived, with a nod to the worldview of the time. I needed to understand that world. My research spoke to the flashpoint between two competing cultures—scalpings on both sides, pleas for protection and records of attacks on both sides, one-sided trials, and treaties, lots and lots of treaties.

My story gave notice—these peoples, particularly the Shawnee, would not be ignored. They became a thread in my story line, integral to the plot.

Of all my research, the records of treaties made provided the most unbiased evidence of—no polite way to say this—abuse. Check out this site, aptly called the Indian Land Cessions in the United States, 1784-1894. As they explain, the schedule “comprises 709 entries with links to the related map or maps for each entry.” (My bolding.) The records do not include any treaties negotiated before the United States formed, of which the number is substantial.

So, treaty after treaty we moved west. How could I in good faith ignore that? And how could I NOT wash my story with my own perspective?

Speaking of perspectives, the Washington Post reviewed an exhibit of the National Museum of the American Indian exhibit. It addresses the lies and romance surrounding the image of the Indian, a perspective of which we should all be aware. Check it out here.

  • The Scattering of Stones , available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, comes out February 15, 2018.
  • A Bookbarn located in Clovis, CA, a business supporting all things books, new and used, is hosting a signing celebration February 28th from 6 to 9.