Friday, June 24, 2016

What a Historical Romance Author Does On Her Summer Vacation

Delve more deeply into history, of course!

I love researching, especially when I can do it in person. So when an opportunity arose to visit some very cool East Coast historical sites for two weeks, I couldn’t resist. And getting to go to one with Marissa was the icing on the cake!

First up, Plimouth Colony. Marissa has already shared her thoughts here. I was utterly charmed by this 17th century village and its inhabitants. The reenactors simply went about their everyday tasks. One fellow and his grown son were rethatching a cottage roof. I interrupted a lady cooking her mid-day meal. One charming fellow with a delightful English accent recounted stories of how the Irish were descended from young boys escaping the sacking of Troy! Wonderful day!

Though this is what can happen to authors who forget to write their pages before journeying out to play.

Next, Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia (the tower of Independence Hall is at the top of this post). I found it surprisingly stirring to hear about how the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came to be hammered out and signed. It gave me a little thrill to see the ranger show the crest that had originally sat above the judge in the adjacent courthouse and recognize it as belonging to George III, father of our beloved Prinny. We in the U.S. think of ourselves as Americans now, but then most were struggling to stop thinking of themselves as British!

Then Valley Forge. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this historic site where George Washington camped with the Continental Army in the winter of 1777/1778. As a child growing up, I remember hearing that it was the cold weather that had caused so many deaths while encamped. Turns out it was more of supply problem, with food and clothing not arriving when expected (or at all!), that nearly did the army in. If not for the stalwart determination of our forefathers and mothers, we might yet be English citizens.

On to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to visit family. We wandered downtown one day, where plaques and statues proclaim the town’s origins. What I found interesting was that Benjamin Chambers, who had received a land grant from William Penn to start the town, was too old to fight in the American Revolution, but his son James distinguished himself on the battlefield. So too did his grandson, who left to fight when he was only 11 and returned a battle-hardened young man of 17. What a sacrifice!

Finally, Gettysburg. I have toured the battlefield many times over the years, as it lies within an easy drive of my maternal aunt and uncle’s house. But again I was struck by how many sacrificed, on both sides, what a cause they passionately believed in. I’ve seen stories recently that many did not want to enlist, but the bits of diaries I read on display showed men determined to right wrongs and redress issues that were splitting their country in two. And then there’s Rose Greenhow, who was such a successful spy during the war that she was commended by Jefferson Davis.

Oh, but the ideas are spinning in my head! So. Many. Stories. So little time!

And if you have time, do stop by next Tuesday for Marissa’s post. We will be off Friday, July 1, and Tuesday, July 5, for Independence Day holiday, for which I have a whole new appreciation after my travels! Look for a new post from me on July 8.


QNPoohBear said...

I'm glad you made it to Plimoth. They set the bar super high for all other living history museums. I've been to Philadelphia but have not explored the history in depth and I remember we went to Gettysburg but I don't remember much about it. If you're interested in Rose Greenhow and women in the Civil War, I recommend reading Liar, Soldier Temptress Spy. It's a non-scholarly non-fiction account of how 4 women, including Rose, used their talents to help their side in the war.

Next time you are up this way, you and Marissa will have to come to Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI. You can see the machine that made the thread for muslin. It's a very interesting and important historical site.

Regina Scott said...

Thanks, QNPoohBear, for both recommendations!