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little africa 5

If the land could talk, it would tell us about the people who lived here. It would tell you about the Erie, how they lived and how they died.

Last fall I saw that November was not only the National Novel Writing Month, but it was also Native American History Month. Since I did Black History Month in February, I thought that it was only right that I should also commemorate Native Americans this month.

I decided to start with Native Americans who used to live in the area where I grew up. I was born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania where the Erie Indians resided when the only white men in the area were a few French Jesuits. Several years ago I wrote an article on Hubpages called Whatever happened to the Erie Indians. Here’s a link if you’d like to read it. https://hubpages.com/education/What-Ever-Happened-to-the-Erie-Indians
This week, I am again honoring the Erie Indians.

What Do We Know about the Erie?

According to the History of Erie County Pennsylvania written In the 1880s, The State Library of Pennsylvania at Harrisburg had two ancient French maps. One of them was printed in 1763 and the other in 1768 and both maps show geographical features of parts of the US and Canada. Both represent the southern shore of Lake Erie as peopled with a tribe of Native Americans known as the Erie. A note in the margin of each reads, “The ancient Erie were exterminated by the Iroquois about one hundred years ago, and every since then they (the Iroquois) have been in possession of Lake Erie.”

On the earlier map the following is printed on the lake between what is now Cleveland and Sandusky. “The seat of war, the mart of trade, and chief hunting grounds of the six Nations on the lakes and the Ohio.”

This information is related to a French book published in 1703 which described the voyages of Le Baron de Lahonton an adventurous Frenchman who lived for ten years among the Indians from 1683-1693.

“The shores of Lake Erie,” he said, “are frequented by the Iroquois, the Illinois, the Oumanies, among others who are so savage that it is dangerous to stop with them.”

Frequent reference is also made in the letters and memoirs of Frenchmen -who visited this section, to the Flatheads, who would seem to have been settled somewhere south or west of the lake. All the authorities agreed that the date of the extermination of the Erie was somewhere about 1650. Most early historians claim that the word Erie was the Indian expression for wild cat, but a more recent writer contends that ” this is a mistake, that it does not mean wild cat, but raccoon. Raccoons were (and still are) abundant upon the lake shore while wild cats are seldom seen.”

A French memoir, written in 1718, relates that one island in the upper part of the lake was infested to so great an extent by wild cats, that ” the Indians killed as many as 900 of them in a very short time.” It is possible that the French explorers, from whom the supposed meaning of the word has descended to us, mistook raccoons for wild cats.
Students of Native American history believe that the tribe was at one time considerably ahead of the other tribes in progress and intellect.

Records show that French missionaries visited the Erie were visited by French missionaries as early as 1626. They claimed that the Erie were a neutral nation among the other more warlike tribes in the area. These Native Americans were governed by a queen, called in their own language, Yagowania, and in the Seneca tongue, Gegosasa. She was regarded as “the mother of nations,” and her office was that of “keeper of the symbolic house of peace.” The chief warrior of the tribe was Ragnotha, who had his principal location at Tu-shu-way, now the site of Buffalo, New York.

The End of the Erie

The Erie stayed neutral until 1634, when a bloody dissension broke out between the several branches of the Iroquois. During its progress two Seneca warriors appeared at Gegosasa’s lodge and were hospitably received. They were preparing to smoke the peace pipe when a deputation of Massassaugues was announced, who demanded vengeance for the murder of their chief’s son at the hands of the Seneca.

The queen granted the request promptly. She set out with a large body of warriors to enforce her decree, and dispatched messengers to Ragnotha to command his assistance. The visiting Seneca flew to their friends to notify them of the queen’s course, and a body of men hastily gathered in ambush on the road upon which her army traveled. The Erie did not know about the presence of the Seneca until the Erie heard their war-whoop. The Erie were ambushed. At first the queen’s forces gained the advantage, but the Seneca rallied and the Erie fled, leaving behind 600 dead. There are no accounts of any further hostilities at that time and the Queen did not appear to enforce her plan to avenge the grievances of the Massassaugues.

The war where the Erie were exterminated by the Iroquois occurred around 1650 and was one of the cruelest in history. From the beginning, both sides understood that one tribe or the other would be completely obliterated. The Erie organized a powerful body of warriors and hoped to ambush the Seneca in their own territory. A woman secretly alerted the Seneca of the Erie plan. The Seneca raised a force and marched to meet the invaders. The Seneca were completely victorious. Seven times the Erie crossed the stream that divided the hostile lines, but they were driven back with terrible losses.
At a later date, several hundred Iroquois attacked nearly three times their number of Erie, encamped near the mouth of French Creek, dispersed them, took many prisoners, and forced the rest to flee to remote regions.

In a battle near the site of the Cattauraugas Indian mission house, on the Allegheny River, the loss of the Erie was enormous. Finally, a disease broke out among the Erie, which “swept away greater numbers even than the club and arrow.” The Iroquois took advantage of their opportunity to end all fear of future trouble from the ill-fated Erie. Those who had been taken captive were, with rare exceptions, remorselessly butchered, and their wives and children were made slaves to the Iroquois villages. The few survivors “fled to distant regions in the West and South and had undying hatred the Seneca. Their council fire had been put out, and their name and language as a tribe lost.”
Sculptures and embankments on Kelly’s Island, in the upper end of the lake, was probably the last stronghold of the Erie. Traces of the tribe were occasionally found by the French Jesuits aw they wandered through the western wilderness. A number were living as slaves among the Onondagas of New York. They appealed to the missionaries to help them escape, but the French refused their requests. An early French writer described the Christian village of La Prairie and said that a portion of the settlement was made up of fugitive Erie.

How does this Tribe Relate to the Locket Saga?

The Locket Saga 5 books
In the Locket Saga series, I make no mention of the Erie because they were long gone by the time of the series. However, in The Anvil (Book VI), Luke mentions that the Erie had at one time lived in the area where they were moving.

Read The Locket Saga

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On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


The Plight of the Unnamed Crew Member

galaxy quest

The Crew of Galaxy Quest with the unnamed crew member on the far right back of picture

Last week we discussed the main characters which include the protagonist, antagonist, and the love interest (Haven’t Read it? Here’s the Link) In addition to a protagonist, antagonist, and love interest, there are other characters in the story and these are called secondary characters. What you don’t want for secondary characters is what I call the “unnamed crew member” in other words, you don’t want too many of those people who are only there to serve the protagonist and antagonist. If you’ve ever seen Galaxy Quest, you’ll probably remember the plight of the unnamed crewmember is vaporized at the beginning of the episode to indicate that the idyllic planet that they were on was not so idyllic.

Secondary Characters are Not Just Props for the Main Characters

It is too easy to use secondary characters as simple props for the main characters. You wouldn’t want someone using you for their own gains, and I don’t think that secondary characters like being used that way either. Therefore, just as you develop the protagonist, antagonist, and love interests, you want to develop their sidekicks as well.
So how do you do that? To develop secondary characters, I create character sketches and work to get inside of their heads.

How to Develop a Character Sketch

A character sketch is a document that tells the physical, emotional, mental and social aspects of a character. It takes you from telling about the character and actually getting inside of his head.

What goes into a secondary character’s sketch? To create a character sketch, you want to have a number of things that you know about this character. First, you want to know a little about this person’s physical appearance, but you want go a little deeper than what color hair, how tall, and the color of their eyes. Does this person have any scars? How did he or she get it? Was the protagonist or antagonist there when it happened? Do they have any other physical defining characteristics? Did he or she have an illness as a child or older that caused other physical defects, limps or whatever? Does this person have any bad habits like smoking or drinking too much? How does this person relate to the protagonist and antagonist? If the protagonist is controlling, how does the sidekick relate? Does he feel intimidated? Does he resent the main character’s control over him? What is his or her history with the protagonist/antagonist/love interest? Have they always known one another or how did they meet? What kinds of things did they do together in the past? The more well-rounded you can get your secondary characters, the more well-rounded your story will become.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

 

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.

(Have you read Book III of the Locket Saga: A Coward’s Solace? If not, a copy May 22-28, 2018 at a discount.)

Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown


Little Africa 1

Not much left to see, but in the early 1800s this was the location of what became known as “Little Africa”.

In my research for the Locket Saga, I have found numerous amazing historical accounts of African Americans in America’s early history. In honor of Black History Month, this month, I have been sharing some of the accounts that I found from our history and how they relate to the Locket Saga series. This week’s subject is different because I discovered something that had been right under my nose since I was a little child, but of which I had never heard of until recently.

The Underground Railroad

little africa 5.jpg
Of course, I learned in grade school that the Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century enslaved people of African descent in the United States in efforts to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. There is evidence that some of my ancestors may have been a part of this underground railroad or at least knew of it because just a few miles from where I grew up there had been an African American community still known by the locals as “Little Africa”.

End of the Rails: Little Africa

little africa 2
I learned about this place a few years ago, when my brother and I were having a conversation and he brought up the name “Little Africa”. I asked him what it was, and he told me that it was on Jackson Hill which was less than ten miles from where I grew up.
I learned that this was a community of free and escaped blacks. All I could learn from history was that this community was established in Spring Creek Township, Warren County, in Northwestern Pennsylvania prior to the Civil War where fugitive slaves were welcomed on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Before 1850, African Americans who had escaped freely lived in that community where they built homes and established crops, not only to eat, but to sell in the market place. However, it makes sense that there are few written accounts of this place. The locals and the escaped slaves wanted to keep it secret so that slave hunters would not be able to locate the fugitives. After The Fugitive Act became law in 1850, that all changed. African Americans could no longer live anywhere in the United States without fear of being sent to southern plantations. Even Free blacks were often kidnapped, their papers destroyed, and sent south to unscrupulous slave traders.

little africa 3
Because of this new law, African Americans fled across the border into Canada because the British government (which Canada was a territory) outlawed slavery. The community was abandoned as a permanent settlement, but the story of “Little Africa” did not end there.
The blacks who crossed the border, continued to help other slaves escape north by maintaining “Little Africa” as a place of refuge. Former slaves who escaped north in the spring would plant crops that the slaves in the summer would cultivate and the slaves of the autumn months would then harvest. This provided slaves who went through there in the winter and those of the following year with sustenance.

Special thanks to Jan Bemis and Diane Miller for the photographs they took on their Facebook group “Wanderlost”!

Read the books of The Locket Saga

Though the Little Africa story is not currently part of The Locket Saga, I do plan to include Little Africa in a future book in the series. It will take me a while to write that book, but if you get started on the rest of the series now, maybe it will be published by the time you get to that book in the series.

The Locket Saga 5 books
In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown
On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


The William T. Johnson Story

 

plantation house

Longwood Plantation, Natchez Mississippi

In my research for the Locket Saga, I have found numerous amazing historical accounts of African Americans in America’s early history. This month in honor of Black History Month, I want to share some of the accounts that I found from our history and how they relate to the Locket Saga series.
Up to this point in this Black History Month series, I have focused on characters that I already included in the books of The Locket Saga. This week’s focus is William T. Johnson, was a free African American barber of biracial parentage, who lived in Natchez, Mississippi. He will be a prominent character in a yet unwritten book in the series.

Johnson’s Early Years

Johnson was born into slavery sometime in 1809. Because his owner was also named William Johnson, many historians believe that this man may have been his father. William Johnson, the elder, emancipated the young man in 1820. His mother, Amy, had been freed in 1814 and his sister Adelia in 1818. Johnson trained with his brother-in-law James Miller as a barber, and began working in Port Gibson, Mississippi. He returned to Natchez, where he became a successful entrepreneur with a barbershop, bath house, bookstore, and land holdings. Though a former slave, William Johnson went on to own sixteen slaves himself. He began a diary in 1835, which he continued through the remainder of his life. Also in 1835, he married Ann Battle, a free woman of color with a similar background to his. During the following years, they had eleven children. Johnson loaned money to many people, including the governor of Mississippi who had signed his emancipation papers.

Johnson’s Murder

Johnson was murdered June 17, 1851 after a boundary dispute, by a mixed-race neighbor named Baylor Winn, in front of Johnson’s son, a free black apprentice, and a slave. Winn was held in prison for two years and brought to trial twice. Johnson was such a well-respected businessman that the outrage over his murder caused the trial to be held in a neighboring town. In that town no one knew Winn, so they didn’t know that he was half-black. Since Mississippi law forbade blacks from testifying against whites in criminal cases, Winn’s defense was that he was half-white and half-Native American, making him white by law. The defense worked, none of the witnesses because of their color could testify, and Winn escaped conviction.

 

William_Johnson_Museum

William T. Johnson Museum in Natchez, MS

Johnson’s diary was rediscovered in 1938 and published in 1951. It reveals much of the daily life of a 19th-century Mississippi businessman, including the fact that he was himself later a slaveholder. His papers are archived at Louisiana State University. Through an act of Congress, the home of William Johnson became a part of the Natchez National Historical Park in 1990.

 

 

 

 

Read the books of The Locket Saga to find where this story will fit

In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown
On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


james-forten1

This month I am commemorating Black History Month and this week I am featuring James Forten. As I was researching history regarding Book IV of the Locket Saga, Sailing Under the Black Flag, I came across this amazing man and included him as a major character in the book. I hope you enjoy our second week’s focus for Black History Month.

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was born a free black man. Over the course of his lifetime, he made significant impact upon the fortunes of the American capitalist system and the livelihood of his contemporaries.
He was the son of Thomas and Sarah Forten and was the grandson of slaves. He grew up in Philadelphia and attended Anthony Benezet’s Quaker school for “colored” children. By the time he was eight years old, he was working for Robert Bridges’s sail loft with his father. A year later, his father was killed in a boating accident. This tragedy forced the nine-year-old James into the additional responsibility of supporting his family.
Forten’s Military Service.

During his early teens, he worked as a powder boy during the Revolutionary War first in the army and then on the ship, the privateer Royal Lewis. In Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag, he was powder boy for the protagonist Jonathan Mayford.
Most people don’t know that on privateer ships, every member of the crew from the captain down to the deck hands were considered equal. This equality on the Royal Lewis must have left a strong impression on James Forten because it certainly influenced his character.

Prisoner on the Jersey

Forten may have been raised free, but he could certainly empathize with the slaves who had come to America on slave ships.

As told in this fourth book of The Locket Saga, Forten was captured by the British and held prisoner on the Jersey a prison ship. As the story goes, Forten had arranged to be smuggled off the ship in Gustavua Conyngham’s trunk when he allowed Daniel Brewton, two years younger than he was, take his place in the trunk. It was not until March 25, 1782 that Forten was released.

He would never forget the smell of the prison ship. Years later, he was repairing a sail when he smelled that sickening familiar smell. By then, the slave trade was illegal and Forten threatened to press charges because he knew that the ship had been used in the slave trade.

Making His Fortune

After his mother nursed him back to health, Forten boarded the Commerce, a merchant ship. The ship went to London and he worked there for a year.
In 1785, he returned home to resume his previous job. Pleased with his work and dedication, Bridges appointed him to the foreman’s position in the loft.
In 1798 Bridges decided to retire, and wanted Forten to remain in charge of the loft. His desires were realized. Eventually James owned the business, and employed almost 40 workers.
James married Charlotte VanDive, a woman of Native American, African American, and European blood on December 5, 1805. In 1806, he purchased a brick house at Third and Lombard Streets. Charlotte gave birth to all nine of their children here. In addition to a good home, James ensured that each of them received a good education.

James Forten’s Legacy

James Forten newspaper clippingEventually, James Forten became interested in politics and avidly campaigned for and supported the issues of temperance, women’s suffrage, and equal rights for African Americans. In the year 1800, he was the leader in organizing a petition that called for Congress to emancipate all slaves. Given the fact that this was a presidential election year, rumor had it that a few of the presidential candidates (among them Thomas Jefferson) were none too pleased with a Negro man advocating for the emancipation of slaves. His activism was further recognized when he wrote and published a pamphlet denouncing the Pennsylvania legislature for prohibiting the immigration of freed black slaves from other states. Many consider him the “Father of the Abolitionist Movement.”
In 1817 Forten joined with Richard Allen to form the Convention of Color. In the 19th century Allen was the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Interestingly, the organization argued for the migration of free black slaves to Canada, but vehemently resisted any movement for a return to the African continent.
James Forten’s early years had been devoted to providing for his widowed mother. As an adult, he focused on acquiring a vast economic fortune and rectifying the brutal injustices that had been perpetrated upon his fellow African Americans, poor people, and women. He believed in liberty for all people and he fought against slavery and for equal rights all of his life. He died on March 4, 1842.

Read Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag and other books in The Locket Saga

In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown

On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


July 24, 2017

Today I have another interview with another writer friend of mine Tracy Gregory. She connected with me on Facebook and we became fast friends. I read her most recent book, her first novel called Ways of War. I wrote a review.

Review of the Ways of War

The Vietnam War was the most despised war in all of American History would have had to have been the Vietnam War. I remember being a young child while the war was going on. I remember the agony of daily body counts and the unbelievable celebrations of MIAs who returned after years of torture by the Viet Cong. I remember the reports of I remember draft dodgers and the protests.

What I didn’t know about was the secret war, the insidious war of mind control experiments that the government conducted at the same time. Tracy Gregory in this book brings them all together when Grant Windsor goes to Vietnam leaving behind a wife and two young children. Word comes back that he was killed in a fire, his body never recovered. The only sign that he had ever been there, was his dog tags. His wife Anna tries to move on, but even though she has Stephen waiting for her in the wings, she can’t seem to shake the idea that if she falls for Stephen, she will be cheating on Grant.

 

I highly recommend this intriguing spell-binding historical novel. I look forward to reading future novels by this author.

 

Interview withTracy Gregory

ME: Hi Tracy, I am glad you could join us today. First, would you be kind enough to tell my readers a little about yourself.

 

TRACY: Well, I was born in Concord, New Hampshire and raised in Soldotna, Alaska. My parents divorced when I was young. My mother remarried which resulted in our moving to the Last Frontier. We lived a simple life in Alaska. We lived without electricity and water for some years. Our free time consisted of hauling wood and water. I learned to appreciate every little gift, even the gift of free time. I am the second of six children. When I graduated from high school, I returned to New Hampshire to attend college. I got married, had two children and got divorced. I remarried when my children were young, and remain married today. I love to read and write. I’m an avid gardener, and I enjoy being outside. That’s the short version. Maybe the long version will show up in bookstores someday.

 

ME: What or who inspired you to start writing?

 

TRACY: Believe it or not, my desire to write came from Judy Collins. She is a folk singer whose stories mesmerized me and sparked my imagination. When I was eleven or twelve, I received a record player and a Judy Collins record from my mom for Christmas. I still remember the record “Early in The Spring.” I listened to the songs over and over wishing I could tell the stories she was singing.

 

ME: Do you find it difficult to get reviews from readers?

 

TRACY: At first, I was somewhat defensive when it came to comments made about my writing. But once a sat back and thought about the big picture I came to realize that the opinion of my reader is important. Their opinions and input are what will make me a better writer. I try to look at it as constructive criticism. I have learned you can’t please all the people all the time so I have resorted to pleasing my readers first by placing value in their opinion.

 

ME: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

 

TRACY: I love to read! I have a library of books that I have read and reread. I enjoy everything from the old classics such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Dickens to science fiction writers such as Wells, Bradbury and George Orwell. I would have to say my favorite genre is historical fiction. I enjoy Jeff Shaara, Phillipa Gregory, Michael Sullivan, Amy Harmon, Soraya Lane and Cygnet Brown of course.

 

ME: Do you have an interesting writing quirk? If so, what is it and how does it help your writing?

 

TRACY: I lead a busy life, as I’m sure you (and many others) do so I believe you can relate to that statement. Because of the interruptions, I find it difficult to write every day. I find the most productive writing time for me is at night when the world is asleep. I consider myself a marathon writer. What I mean by marathon writer is instead of writing a little each day, I find myself hiding in my library and writing forty thousand words at a time. I then set the work aside, and it could be weeks before I return to writing.

 

ME: How many books have you written? Which was your favorite?

 

TRACY: Ways of War is the first Novel in what will be a series. Usher of Truth will be the second and should be released by the winter of 2017. Days of Doom will be the third work in the series. I haven’t decided if that will conclude the series.  I also have some poetry available on Amazon. If I had to say I have a favorite Novel, it would be “Ways of War” as it is the first to be published. I will say my favorite work of poetry would be “Children’s Anthology.” The poems are all inspired by my children.

 

ME: What are some of the greatest struggles you’ve faced to further your writing career?

 

TRACY: The greatest struggle for me as with many other writers is the promotion of my first work. The idea of having to prove myself to a base of readers that have an interest in a topic so broad yet very targeted was challenging. Historical fiction in itself is as broad as the history that defines the genre. It is difficult to target a market of readers and present the “hook” so to speak that would draw them in and create a following.

 

ME: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

 

TRACY: It is my desire to be a successful author and create a following and keep those followers interested for years to come. I am only as successful as those that support me and share my work with their peers. I try to make sure I am available in as many ways as possible. My website address is http://www.tlgregory.com. You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tlgregory.info/  My Twitter address is http://www.twitter.com/@TracyLGregory . In addition, I have a blog site Traces of Tracy Gregory the site address is http://www.tracesoftlgregory.com.

 

Tracy’s books are available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, other local bookstore, and on her website.

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