Thursday, August 17, 2017

My English Heritage and Historical Romance Into the Lion's Heart

The connection I feel to the past and those who’ve gone before me is the ongoing inspiration behind my historical romances, including the time travels in my ‘Somewhere in Time’ series, and more lately, my Ladies in Time series. I’ve done a lot of research into family genealogy and come from well-documented English/Scots-Irish folk with a smidgen of French in the meld, a Norman knight who sailed with William the Conqueror.  One family line goes back to Geoffrey Chaucer.  And there’s a puritan line with involvement in the Salem Witch Trials—my apologies to Susannah Martin’s descendants--but that’s another story.  With Into the Lion’s Heart, I more deeply explored my British ancestry.


Set in 1789 England, the story opens with the hero, Captain Dalton Evans (fought in the American Revolution) journeying to Dover to meet the ship carrying a distant cousin, Mademoiselle Sophia Devereux, who’s fleeing the French Revolution.  *Pause here to note all the research the revolution took, not to mention Georgian England in general, Cornwall in particular, rum smuggling, stage-coach travel and sailing in the late 18th century....you get the idea. But I digress. Back to Dalton who’s irked with his mission, not only because he finds it tedious, but he resents the French, partly as a result of their aid to the Americans during the war and some of the Frenchmen he fought during that lost cause.  Plus he thinks French aristocrats are arrogant.  However, the young woman he rescues from the sinking ship is nothing like he expects and rocks his world.

During all the copious research, I discovered this is a fascinating time period on both sides of the channel.  I’m already hooked on The Scarlet Pimpernel, having read all the books in that series several times and watched every film version (have my favorites) and I'm drawn to other novels and productions set in this era, such as the rich epic series, Poldark--read the books and own the earlier Masterpiece Theater production. Loved the newest version.


As to the language ‘thing,’ my youngest daughter, Elise, who graduated summa cum laude with a double major in art and French, was a huge help with the sprinkling of French words and phrases.


Blurb: As the French Revolution rages, the English nobility offer sanctuary to many a refugee. Captain Dalton Evans arrives in Dover to meet a distant cousin, expecting to see a spoiled aristocrat. Instead, he’s conquered by the simplicity of his new charge. And his best friend Thomas Archer isn’t immune to her artless charm, either.
Cecile Beaumont didn’t choose to travel across the Channel. And she certainly didn’t expect that impersonating her own mistress would introduce her to a most mesmerizing man. Now she must play out the masquerade, or risk life, freedom – and her heart.~

Into the Lion’s Heart is available at Amazon in kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Into-Lions-Heart-Love-Letters-ebook/dp/B005I63Y3Q

From Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers.
Awards and Reviews:
 
2012 Reader's Favorite Finalist


"This is a brilliant historical romance by Beth Trissel. You can feel her passion in the story, very well written and characters that you can feel. Into the Lion's Heart will take you through a journey of love,and enough surprises to keep you hanging on. If you love a beautiful historical romance you will enjoy this story!"
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reviewer: Wanda from Romance Writers Reviews
 
"Into The Lions Heart is a historical romance novelette that is sure to delight the fancy of those who read this genre... If you have never read any of Beth Trissel's books, this will be a great start and make you want to read more. I have always liked her style of writing and hope she does not change. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Lynn F. for Readers Favorite
 

I simply adored INTO THE LION'S HEART by Beth Trissel. I'm not an avid reader of historical romances or even the simply sweet romances, but this tale kissed a delicate smile on my face and I have to admit, my heart melted. Not only was the writing superb and in context with the time and place, but the plot itself was very well done.
Rating five out of five stars and a Top Pick from The Romance Reviews
Reviewed by Erinne 
 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Geese Have Quite A Lot to Say, Actually

Here are the geese having a clandestine meeting. They do that a lot, with secretive quacks and goosey murmurs which change to alarmed scrambles when I'm spotted. Bad me, spying on the Goose Alliance.


But I feel compelled to stay abreast of their plots. Even more furtive, are these gatherings at dusk with the cows. I suspect they're planning an uprising and trying to take over the farm.


Again, all appears innocent in this early morning shot of them grouped beyond the flowers, but beware. Geese For All and All for Geese.  I'm suspiciously absent from their mantra.  I could be wrong, though, and the gaggle are exchanging knitting patterns. In case I'm right on, I will continue my surveillance. Does anybody truly know the mind of a goose?


"The goose that lays the golden eggs likes to lay where there are eggs already." Charles Spurgeon (No idea what this means, but I'll keep a lookout for it).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

.99 Sale #Ghostly #Christmas #Romance Somewhere the Bells Ring





About Somewhere the Bells Ring: The old Virginia homeplace where my father was born and raised, and I grew up visiting over the holidays, has inspired more than one story I've written. I spent some wonderfully memorable Christmas's in that beautiful home (circa 1816) but the ones I'm most sentimental about were in the late 1960's. Drawn to that era, I set my Christmas romance, Somewhere the Bells Ring, in 1968 during the tumultuous age of hippies, Vietnam, and some of the best darn rock music ever written.  



 
Not only did that nostalgic time period beckon to me but also an earlier one, 1918 and the end of World War One. Not in the way of battle scenes, but in the form of a wounded soldier recently returned from war-weary France who lives in the house. Having a Marine Corps Captain grandfather who distinguished himself during the thick of the fighting in France during The Great War, and then tragically died when my father was only three, definitely influenced this story-dedicated to the grandfather I never knew, but grieved all the same. 

But the biggest influence was the poignant dream I had years ago about a young woman visiting this house during the Christmas holidays and the mysterious gentleman she met. That dream nagged at me every Christmas until I finally wrote their story.  If you enjoy an intriguing mystery with Gothic overtones and heart-tugging romance set in vintage America then Somewhere the Bells Ring is for you.



Blurb:
Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative's ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Banishment to Maple Hill is dismal, until a ghost appears requesting her help. Bailey is frightened but intrigued. Then her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, arrives and suddenly Maple Hill isn't so bad.

To Eric, wounded in Vietnam, his military career shattered, this homecoming feels no less like exile. But when he finds Bailey at Maple Hill, her fairy-like beauty gives him reason to hope--until she tells him about the ghost haunting the house. Then he wonders if her one experiment with pot has made her crazy.

As Bailey and Eric draw closer, he agrees to help her find a long-forgotten Christmas gift the ghost wants. But will the magic of Christmas be enough to make Eric believe--in Bailey and the ghost--before the Christmas bells ring?


***Available in Kindle and Nook for .99 thru 8-05-2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My New Furry Publicist

Puppy Cooper excitedly joins Kitty Peaches and Cream on my dynamic publicist team. All three are super psyched to promote my new release, ghostly time travel romance, Somewhere My Lady (Book 1, Ladies in Time).  


***The team has an announcement: Somewhere My Lady is on a book blog tour with sweet prizes. Pick up the tour at Romance Novel Giveaways:
http://romancenovelgiveaways.blogspot.com/2017/07/somewhere-my-lady-by-beth-trissel-book.html

Story Blurb:

Lorna Randolph is hired for the summer at Harrison Hall in Virginia, where Revolutionary-War reenactors provide guided tours of the elegant old home. She doesn't expect to receive a note and a kiss from a handsome young man who then vanishes into mist.

Harrison Hall itself has plans for Lorna – and for Hart Harrison, her momentary suitor and its 18th century heir. Past and present are bound by pledges of love, and modern science melds with old skills and history as Harrison Hall takes Lorna and Hart through time in a race to solve a mystery and save Hart's life before the Midsummer Ball.



"Quite simply, one of the best paranormal, time slip stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to read," ~Splashes Into Books

‘Somewhere My Lady is a fun supernatural romance that will have you slipping in and out of the past and future as if you were a spirit yourself.’’ ~Colleen’s Book Reviews

Somewhere My Lady is available from all online booksellers. In kindle and print at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B071VTNC7V/

In order of appearance: Puppy Cooper, Kitty Cream, Kitty Peaches beneath my perpetually Christmas mantel. He's a little peachier than this pic shows.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Release day for Somewhere My Lady–Ladies in Time Book 1

Somewhere My Lady, Book 1 in my exciting new Ladies in Time series, is out!  This series is similar to my Somewhere in Time Series. A ghostly time travel romance with a deadly mystery unfolds in a wonderful old house on the James River in Virginia. Can you solve the mystery? Took me a while.


Story Blurb:

Lorna Randolph is hired for the summer at Harrison Hall in Virginia, where Revolutionary-War reenactors provide guided tours of the elegant old home. She doesn't expect to receive a note and a kiss from a handsome young man who then vanishes into mist.
Harrison Hall itself has plans for Lorna – and for Hart Harrison, her momentary suitor and its 18th century heir. Past and present are bound by pledges of love, and modern science melds with old skills and history as Harrison Hall takes Lorna and Hart through time in a race to solve a mystery and save Hart's life before the Midsummer Ball.

Excerpt:

Something about him held her spellbound…the tilt of his head, arch of his brow, glimpse of his profile… She followed his every move with the fixity of an owl.

He turned blue-gray eyes toward her and sensuous lips curved into a smile on his handsome face. Hands down. No contest. He was the hottest guy ever. Her heart beat a thrilling new rhythm.

He circled closer to where she stood rooted in the foyer, not moving a toe, scarcely drawing breath. Did he truly see her backed tremulously against the wall, or did it only feel that way?

Unlike the others in the ghostly assembly, his eyes didn’t skirt past her. He paused in the dance. Bending at the shoulders, he tipped his hand to her in a genteel flourish.

He’d freakin’ bowed. Her jaw dropped. He most definitely saw her. And she sure as heck saw him.

A sparking sizzle jumped between them, awakening her as she’d never been roused before. Even more than when the house charged through her at her arrival. It was as if she were plugged in—to him.

How that could be, she had no idea, but when he gazed into her eyes, time seemed to stop. She spiraled into moonless stars, and back again to this dizzying realm. To him. Even if she were dreaming, she’d never forget this moment.~

"Quite simply, one of the best paranormal, time slip stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to read," ~Splashes Into Books

‘Somewhere My Lady is a fun supernatural romance that will have you slipping in and out of the past and future as if you were a spirit yourself.’’ ~Colleen’s Book Reviews

***This book is dedicated to my dear little dog, Sadie--the last story she saw me through.

Somewhere My Lady is available from all online booksellers. In kindle and print at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B071VTNC7V

My Somewhere In Time series is available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Time-4-Book/dp/B016DF8LJ2

Monday, July 3, 2017

LOVE, BETRAYAL, AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION--THE TRAITOR'S LEGACY SERIES!

Much of my writing features the early Scot-Irish, my ancestors among them, who settled in the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains. My absorption with Colonial America extends to the high drama of the Revolution, the focus of award-winning historical romance novel Enemy of the King (Book 1, The Traitor's Legacy Series).


I have ancestors who fought and loved on both sides of that sweeping conflict. My research into the Southern face of the war was partly inspired by my great-great-great grandfather, Sam Houston, uncle of the famous Sam, who kept a journal of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, 1781, used by historians today.

Stick around for a wild ride into Carolina Back County and the battle between Patriots and Tories. Our hero is the former and our heroine the latter.  Both of them bear names that belonged to my ancestors.

LOVE, BETRAYAL, AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION! THE TRAITOR'S LEGACY SERIES

The Boxed Set of all three novels in The Traitor's Legacy Series is available in eBook from ALL online booksellers. In Kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/Traitors-Legacy-Beth-Trissel-ebook/dp/B01L5PSE1K

The Traitor's Legacy Series Box Set.jpg1 

Historical Romance Series series set during The American Revolution


Book One: ENEMY OF THE KING

 
Enemy of the King, historical romance with a paranormal element, is my version of The Patriot. A big fan of Daphne Du Maurier since my teens, I was also influenced by her mystery/ghost story, Rebecca. Our Virginia home place, circa 1816, and other early homes left deep impressions on me.

I’ve long harbored suspicions that those who’ve gone before us are not always entirely gone.  Most of all, I’m a Southern Virginia author, and it shows.

1780 South Carolina, spies and intrigue, a vindictive ghost, the battle of King’s Mountain, Patriots and Tories, pounding adventure, pulsing romance…ENEMY OF THE KING.
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Enemy of the King. Not only are the characters memorable and the setting beautifully described, but the action is riveting and the romance between Meri and Jeremiah is tender. I highly recommend Enemy of the King to anyone who loves a well crafted historical romance.” ~Poinsettia for Long and Short Reviews

“An amazing and vibrant look into the American Revolution…this sexy historical is a must read!” ~Coffee Time Romance And More

“I love historical romances. They are one of my favorites and anymore when I think of a historical I think of Beth Trissel.”~Reviewed by Bella Wolfe, You Gotta Read Reviews

“Beth Trissel is a skilled storyteller and scene-builder. She immediately plunges the reader into  action and excitement with a vivid sense of time and place.” ~Historical Romance Author Kris Kennedy ( for Enemy of the King)

Traitor's Legacy resized pg

TRAITOR'S LEGACY--Sequel to ENEMY OF THE KING (The Traitor's Legacy Series)

Mystery, spies, a coded letter, and stirring romance fill the pages of Traitor’s Legacy. Bringing history to life.

Story Description: 1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.

Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.

Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?

"I would recommend this story for fans of historical romance and anyone who likes a sweet romance." ~By Brony83 Reviewer for Paranormal Romance and Authors that Rock

Historical Romance Novel TRAITOR'S CURSE (Sequel to TRAITOR'S LEGACY in the Traitor's Legacy Series)

traitors curse

Ghostly, Gothic, historical romance novel, Traitor's Curse, the sequel to Traitor's Legacy, and the third novel in the series, came out in print and eBook autumn 2015 from The Wild Rose Press.

Set in historic Halifax, NC, on the heels of the American Revolution, Traitor's Curse builds on the central theme in Traitor's Legacy.  Both novels center around the hidden treasure collected by a band of Patriots to bribe a Loyalist into revealing the whereabouts of the infamous traitor, Benedict Arnold, the man they badly wanted to hang.

Although America's most wanted ultimately fled to England, the treasure remained in Halifax where the haunting mystery in Traitor's Curse unfolds.

While the historical aspects of that era are authentically depicted in the story, intriguing paranormal elements are also interwoven; among them, a ghost. Other possibilities for his presence in the home are suggested, so choose as you will. It's kind of a mind game, but significant clues are given for the discerning reader. Bear in mind that the author believes in ghosts and cursed treasure.~


Fog, Farm, Mist, Cemetery, Tree, Wet, Tombstone, Field, Morning, Grave

 "The supernatural interventions mixed with foreshadowing are well done and believable, whether or not the reader doubts the ghostly possibilities and curses, they work well in the story … and do keep the reader turning the pages. The rapidly developing love story carries with it some inner turmoil in matters of belief and trust, but the gripping external conflicts are laced with danger and evil intent.

The story draws the readers into the midst of the fray. And keeps them there. I readily recommend this novel, “Traitor’s Curse” to anyone who wants to settle into a captivating read created by Beth Trissel, as she weaves her knowledge of the South, herbs and history into this enjoyable love story." ~Marion Spicer

"A wonderfully spun novel that will keep a reader engaged till the end." ~Stephanie Lodes for InD'tale

Won Creme de la Cover monthly contest
Nominated for Reader's Choice at The Romance Review


Follow My Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Inspiration from the Garden

We enjoyed a splendid June in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia until the past few days. Late June and July are hot and humid. Rains keep passing us by so I'm praying we get some of these storms soon, but not the really bad ones. The battle to survive without succumbing to nature's harsher side is here. I've prepared the gardens as best I can. The plants we grow are hardy wildflowers, heirlooms, and herbs, with some vegetables and fruits mixed in. Many of the flowers choose their own sites. 

Every single day in the garden is different and constantly changing from early spring through late fall. A perpetually altering world, magical in its way. I ordered more seeds from my favorite site and am expanding. I must have planted another pound of wild flowers this past week. There are many nooks and thistly spots on the farm that could use some magic. Coreopsis, hollyhocks, aster, evening primrose, and larkspur are prominent. I also have a lot of Shirley poppies and other varieties. Poppies are sacred to my people.


'In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.' ~Abram L. Urban


I do mightily love seeds, brimming with possibility. What wonders may come...all from a packet of tiny life-bearing seeds. If they grow. I can't stop planting them to see. Then watching, gleeful when they sprout. And waiting for the blooms, like an Easter egg surprise, because only I know what will be when the majesty unfolds. A wonderful secret to hold and tend, and to share. If it rains, or I must water like a mad woman.


Larkspur and miniature hollyhocks to the left in front of the house. I love the early summer flowers.


'The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.' ~George Bernard Shaw

This is very true. The garden is a deeply spiritual place. I find much inspiration there. Also for my stories. Scenes and plots come to me while I'm at work. The only problem is writing them down. I think I'll remember and sometimes I do.

(Heirloom poppies and Chinese Forget-Me-Nots)

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane

There is something magical about dawn or dusk in the garden. Both times of day are wonderfully special. Below is a pic I took a few days ago of the back garden at dusk. You can see my lovely hollyhock and the barn up above it.


 (Pale pink heirloom hollyhocks with the barn behind them)


How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Amen. I'm trying to beautify my bit of earth. 


 (My mini wildflower meadow)


 'You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.' ~Author Unknown 

One of our neighbors. Image by Hubby. Garden images by me


For more on my work follow my Amazon Author Page:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Glorious June In The Garden

The Shenandoah Valley has been blessed with a lovely June this year, not too hot, and we've received enough rain to water the crops and the garden(s). I relish the good earth while I can. Summer inevitably gets hit with heat, drought, and bugs, but before all that, this is the Garden of Eden, or as near as I'm likely to come. The battle to survive without succumbing to nature's harsher summer side lies ahead. But I have prepared the gardens as best I can. The plants we grow are hardy wildflowers, heirlooms, and herbs, with some vegetables mixed in. Nothing fussy. Many of the flowers choose their own sites. And every single day in the garden is different. A perpetually changing world, magical in its way.
Below is an image of my mini wildflower meadow. I've ordered more seeds from Eden Brothers, my favorite site, and am expanding. I shall need a longer hose for those dry days. I absolutely love seeds, brimming with possibility. What wonders may come...all from a packet of tiny life-bearing seeds. If they grow. I can't stop planting them to see. Then watching,  gleeful when they sprout. And waiting for the blooms, like an Easter egg surprise, because only I know what will be when the majesty unfolds. A wonderful secret to hold and to tend.

In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

This would be me.




Friday, June 2, 2017

Herbal Recipes for Fragrant Potpourri and Toilet Water

Pot-pourri


Here are some potpourri making tips from my own experience and recipes from a charming book, Potpourri, Incense and other Fragrant Concoctions by Ann Tucker Fettner.  Amazon has some used copies. The toilet water recipes follow below.

For making fragrant potpourri:

Begin in the spring by drying rose petals, an essential ingredient. Other flowers such as bachelor buttons, asters, straw flowers and statice add color. Any blossoms that dry well can be used. Mints, lavender, and lemongrass are excellent herbs for fragrance. Save the peelings from citrus fruit. Additional scent comes from manufacturers who sell potpourri supplies.

Order ground orris root, lavender, and essential oils. Sachet bags can be made from circular scraps of breathable fabric all tied up with ribbons. Decorative jars also make attractive holders. Baskets filled with fragrant sachets are an appealing presentation if fund-raising is your goal.


Lavender


After you’ve collected and dried an ample quantity of blossoms and herbal leaves, mix in your other ingredients. Use a large bowl, not plastic, but ceramic or pottery. To hold the scent, you will need a fixative, often calamus or orris root. Generally, you use a tablespoon of a fixative for every quart of dried material. Add any spices you’ve chosen, cinnamon bark broken fine, rubbed mace, ground cardamom seeds, by sprinkling them over the petals and fixatives. If you like, add the crushed citrus peel, maybe some crumbled vanilla bean, and mix well with your hands.


lavender-sachet


The ingredients must be absolutely dry or the blend will molder. To all of this, add your favorite essential oils, rose, lavender, geranium, or tincture of musk or amber. Experiment with different blends. Don’t combine all the oils in the same batch. The possibilities are endless.

When you’re satisfied that the mixture is well blended, let it age in a crock for several weeks. Don’t have a crock? Brown paper grocery bags will do. Store the mixture out of sunlight in an airy corner or attic. Stir occasionally, then package prettily and enjoy.

For making Herbal toilet water:


lavender oil 2



Basic Toilet Water: To three pints of pure alcohol add one and one-quarter ounces of lavender oil, three-quarters ounce of oil of bergamot, three-quarters ounce of tincture of ambergris. Mix together and bottle. 

Rose Water: Boil two quarts of distilled water and remove from the stove. Add one-eighth ounce of rose oil, four drops of clove oil, and one pint of alcohol. Let this stand for several days before bottling.Geranium Water: To two pints of pure alcohol add four ounces of rose water, five drops tincture of musk, one ounce tincture of orris root and one ounce of geranium oil. Allow to age.

Geranium Water: To two pints of pure alcohol add four ounces of rose water, five drops tincture of musk, one ounce tincture of orris root and one ounce of geranium oil. Allow to age.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ever Schnellisched Anybody?

To schnellisch someone, say a naughty child, means to give them a quick flick using your thumb and forefinger--a mild, but attention grabbing reprimand. I learned this Pennsylvania Dutch expression from my Mennonite mother-in-law. My husband, Dennis, suggested I give Puppy Cooper a schnellisch when he vociferously refused to stop chewing on my hand while I crawled around wiping the kitchen floor. I didn't, but that's how common this term is in our household. 

(Up the road from our farm) 

My mother-In-Law has dementia but remembers old expressions and ways of doing things, like boiling up her wash in a big kettle before they got a washing machine, and it would have been a primitive model. I'm researching early Mennonites for a ghostly time travel romance back to the Civil War era in the Shenandoah Valley. Dennis comes from a long line of German/Swiss Mennonites who settled in our lush valley about the time my Scots-Irish ancestors did, the early-mid 1700's, but at opposite ends. The two groups didn't intermingle much until our generation. We were high school sweethearts, and I joined the New Order Mennonite church when we were engaged soon after my graduation. We married young. I've learned there are MANY orders of Mennonites and he's related to them all, but my Presbyterian roots are strong. I'm a part of this community, and yet apart. Many of our neighbors are Old Orders and buggies frequently trot past our farm. They are good people. 



 (Buggies going past our farm)

One of Dennis' Shank ancestors had a house and barn burned during Sheridan's infamous march into the valley, the autumn of 1864, when he burned and plundered 'the breadbasket of the Confederacy.' Most Mennonites were Union sympathizers, considering secession to be treason. Not a popular view in the south. They didn't own slaves, against their beliefs, plus they were pacifists, so refused to fight in the war, but they suffered along with everyone else when Sheridan laid waste to the land. A lot of barns, mills, and some homes went up in flames. Sheridan said a crow would have to pack his lunch to fly from one end of the valley to the other, as little food as the Union army left in its fiery wake. Sheridan didn't care what side folk were on.The suffering that followed his visitation was terrible. The valley was already hard hit by the war. No one who lives here and knows our history would ever name their son Sheridan. I can't imagine how people survived except to hunt and gather from what was left and what they'd managed to hide. My ancestors were here then, too. They left letters and journals about the horrors of war on their doorstep, 'the enemy in our land', and the challenges of daily life. My Virginia forebears fought vigorously for the Confederacy, but that's another story. Back to the Mennonites.

 (Old Order Mennonite Church up the road from us)

While doing my research, I learned many Mennonites and other plain people, such as the Dunkard Brethren and Quakers, ran what they called the Unionist Underground Railroad (separate from the famous one for helping slaves escape). This operation was kept hush hush as they were at constant risk of incurring the wrath of their Confederate supporting neighbors. Sadly, some did. There were murders, burnings, robberies... But Mennonite men who couldn't afford to buy their way out of service in the Confederate Army, or when that was no longer an option, and didn't believe in sending someone to fight in their place, had no choice other than to flee. The Unionist Underground Railroad offered shelter and food in sympathetic homes, called depots, to dissenters until they were guided to mountain hideouts. If the escapees made it to Keyser, West Virginia, they took a train north. If they wanted to remain near their valley families, they hid in the mountains, with furtive trips home, for the duration of the war. They had to hide and hunt or await whatever food family members brought them while watching for Confederate scouts. These guys were ever on the lookout for deserters and draft dodgers and shot them on sight. Several groups of fugitive men were captured and put in Castle Thunder Prison in Richmond where many died. Not a great war to be a conscientious objector. Union sympathizers from some of the non pacifistic denominations also took part in this Underground Railroad but it was mostly Mennonites and similar faiths. No one knows for certain how many men they helped escape, likely hundreds, maybe more, and not only from the valley but also farther south.

 (More buggies at the church)

Stonewall Jackson was willing to allow dissenters to serve in a non-military capacity. However, Mennonite men refused to support the Confederate war effort period. Jackson then suggested farming and feeding people might qualify as service, but he left the valley after his brilliant campaign in the spring of 1862. Tragically, he was killed in May, 1863.

Until fairly recently, few knew about the existence of the Unionist Underground Railroad. Evidence came to light after the discovery of petitions the federal government allowed citizens to file for compensation of goods, cattle, horses, barns, etc, lost during the conflict. Two conditions must first be met in order to qualify, and most folk didn't. They had to have lost their possessions due to Union not Confederate troops, and prove they were loyal to the Union. This was tough to do when men were threatened with hanging if they didn't vote for secession 'out loud' (no secret ballot) when the vote was taken to determine Virginia's fate. Few men dared to vote no. Of the handful who did, some were hauled back and forced to change their votes. Many Union sympathizers hid and didn't vote at all. Because petitions for compensation were confidential, thousands of Mennonites recounted their plights and pleaded their cases. Hints of the existence of these petitions led to their unearthing in Washington, DC where the records were kept. This find revealed much about the happenings during the war. Otherwise, the Union Underground R.R. wasn't ever spoken of after the war ended, not even with family, for fear of reprisals from resentful neighbors. The descendants of these Civil War Mennonites were unaware of what took place. No doubt, Dennis has ancestors who were part of this secretive operation. He's related to everybody.  



(Old Order Outing In the woods)


***Husband Dennis took all the images.

For more on me, follow my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Our May Garden

May is the wackiest, loveliest month, swinging from soaring heat to frigid cold. Now that the month is almost over, seasonable temps have arrived, and we've gotten some nice rain. Despite this roller coaster weather, most of the plants survived.
We grow hardy perennials, reseeding heirlooms, wildflowers (some might be called weeds), herbs...greens, especially Swiss chard, and a forest of dill. It's possible I accidentally planted two seed packets. We're reluctant to thin the excess as swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feed on the ferny foliage. Much of the dill is left to bury whatever else we had in that vicinity. Carrots, maybe...beets...  Some of the adult butterflies are soaring about the garden(s).
(Image of Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar and ladybug below taken today)
(Black Swallowtail on Bee Balm from a past summer)
Our garden is not carefully planned, and exists as much for the bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects as for us. We have a lot of ladybugs, lacewings, baby praying mantis, hover flies that resemble honey bees but are beneficials...and I'm not sure what, but a lot of good bugs to battle the bad. The plants often determine what grows. Those that do well tend to be takeover varieties, requiring some management.  By August it's a jungle. Every single year. But this spring we've  mulched with a lot of hay, made valiant attempts at order. We even mulched many of the flower beds with bark like other people do, leaving spots for the reseeding flowers to do their thing, and make frequent rounds to pull out weeds, thistles, etc. But the 'etc.' has a way of overcoming all. Perhaps it's best to do what we can and glory in the untamed beauty. We rarely achieve tamed.
(Swiss Chard with Peas behind below)
Weather means more when you have a garden. There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox
My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view. ~H. Fred Dale (Thanks, Anne)
Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson
The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932
Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Author Unknown
God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown
I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse
Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993
The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion
Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. ~Author Unknown
How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli
The garden is the poor man's apothecary. ~German Proverb
(Heirloom peony)
Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897 (Thanks, Jessica)
No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson
(Happy Coreopsis)