Researching with Jane Myers Perrine

One of the joys about writing a historical novel is doing the research and learning a lot of neat stuff.  Often, however, I pick up information I can’t use in a novel.

We used to live in Buchanan Dam, TX, a town of three hundred about ninety miles northwest of Austin in Llano County.  About twenty miles further west of our house on Hwy 29 is a bald eagles’ nest in a large tree about fifty yards from the road.  This used to be the furthest west nest (sorry about that rhyme) in the United States.   The site became so popular, the county had to put in an off-road parking area.

What I learned both from that nest and reading is that eagles mate for life (although for three years three adults would show up and no one could explain that)and that they return to the same nest every year to lay eggs.  The most interesting fact was that every year they add to the nest—branches, straw, anything they find.  After a few years, the nest is so big that an observer can no longer see the baby eagles and it may weigh one-hundred pounds or more. 

In my January historical Second Chance Bride, I really wanted to work this in.  I had the hero and heroine walking in a field, noticing the trees and the birds, but I couldn’t figure out how the hero could mention casually, in this flirtatious conversation, the huge eagles’ nest that weighed one-hundred pounds.  So I’m sharing that fact with you. 

What I particularly like about Texas is that there are historical sites and re-enactments and restored villages all over the state.  Fredericksburg is an old German community.  When it was settled, the language was German which makes reading some of the early documents impossible, at least for me.  My husband’s favorite place is the German restaurant;  mine, the historical pioneer museum (http://www.pioneermuseum.com/) where seven early buildings from the town have been placed.  Because the heroine of Second Chance Bride teaches in a one-room schoolhouse, I learned a great deal visiting the one here.

But what really fascinated me was the Sunday house.  Farms and ranches in the area were a good distance from town so a trip to church in the morning and to services at night as well as an afternoon spent with friends involved a long drive.  For this reason, the practical German farmers and ranchers had tiny little houses in town:  one room with benches around the wall to sleep on.  This meant that at very little expense and with no frills and little comfort, they could arrive in town Saturday evening and leave Monday morning without having to drive the carriage or wagon at night.

And I couldn’t figure out how to use that either.

There are so many interesting places in Texas that I’ve visited and would love to write about.  Here are some links you might enjoy:

Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth:  http://www.fortworth.com/01visitors/0101westernher

/010111logcabin/010111logcabin.shtml

The National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock. http://interoz.com/lubbock/ranch.htm 

Fort Concho National Historical Landmark in San Angelo   http://www.fortconcho.com/

Fort Davis National Historical site in the Davis Mountains.  We saw a terrific reenactment here one Fourth of July.

http://www.nps.gov/foda/

The Heritage Society in Sam Houston Park in Houston  http://www.heritagesociety.org/index.html

Finally, a tour of the Texas Forts http://www.texasfortstrail.com/home/index.asp

 

Please tell us your favorite historical site anywhere in the world and why you love it.  I’ll draw one name and send you a copy of Second Chance Bride,

   Order from Amazon!

 

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43 thoughts on “Researching with Jane Myers Perrine”

  1. We went to Mackinac Island when I was in the second grade. I vividly remember visiting Fort Mackinac. We climbed around the battlements, saw the cannons,… the views from all the vistas were breath taking!

    Villa Louis in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin was really impressive too. Home of a Frenchman who I believe was in the fur trade.

    Finally, I remember visiting Philly,Pa and Boston, MA. I saw the Liberty Bell, The Old North Church, Paul Revere’s home. I saw the cobblestone streets. It too made a big impression on me!

  2. Hi Jane! My fav. historical site was in Boonesboro, KY we went this year and got to see them reinact the Civil War… it was really exciting! The gun fire and the attacks! My son saw one of the Indians with feathers all over his head walking toward the Colony and shouted, ‘Bird!!’ in the midst of all the quiteness (what does that have to do with it you ask? Well, it was funny!)

  3. The Pitch Lake in Trinidad is a wonder. I have travelled all over, but nothing can beat this natural wonder. It has history from the late 1500’s and it is really amazing.

  4. I thought I was checking in early–and I also feared that no one would show up on December 27th–but four of you got here before me. Thank you. I’m so glad to see you!

    Laurie G, I haven’t visited most of the places you mentioned, but I did love Boston. I loved being able to walk from one historical site to the other.

    Crystal, we lived in Kentucky for many years and I’ve been to Boonesboro but didn’t get to see a re-enactment. How much fun that must have been! How old was your son then?

    Gina, I was fortunate to visit London when I was in high school–many years ago–and loved the Tower. You can almost FEEL the history, can’t you? I love to watch historical movies set in London. Are the crown jewels still in the Tower?

    LJ, I’ve never been to Jamaica. I’ll google Pitch Lake now. Thanks for teaching me something new.

    Again, thanks to ALL of you for writing. I hope your holidays are wonderful.

    Jane

  5. Good morning. I really don’t have a favorite, I haven’t really traveled a lot but I loooooooooooove anything to do with history.

    I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

  6. Sherry–is there any place close to where you live that’s historical? As I said, one of the things I love about Texas is that there’s always a historical location right around the corner.

    Jane

  7. I’ve lived in Kentucky all my life. I have been to Boonesboro, when I was in 6th grade(a LONG time ago) but didn’t get to see the reinactment.

    I’ve also toured the state capitol and love the floral clock in spring, the govenor’s mansion, the memorial sundial, and I’ve been to Shakertown and rode the ferry.

    I love all those places and since I visited them so long ago, would love to go back and take my stepson and daughter to see them.

    I have also been to the Wisconsin Dells, when my MIL lived there and found it really interesting, too.

  8. Hi Jane! Welcome!

    Missouri is also full of historic sites! From Daniel Boone’s home and Civil War sites to Lewis and Clark markers everywhere. A fun historic site to visit is historic St. Charles, MO. The downtown area still has brick roads and buildings in there original structures. In particular, a building that still stands today is the location of Missouri’s first state capitol (which then moved to Jefferson City). There is history everywhere you look! This area along the Missouri River is also historically marked by a Lewis and Clark “rendezvous site” and re-enacted every year in May.
    This time of year the entire street and trees along the river are also covered with twinkle lights, garland and bows! A definite must see during the day and night!

  9. I also live in Kentucky and have all my life. I enjoy going to the Perryville battlefield where they have a re-enactment of the Civil war battle, it is really neat. I have also been to Boonesboro many years ago. There is a large amount on historical sites in KY.

  10. Hi Jane! Have a great day! The Grand Canyon, followed closely by Yellowstone both took my breath away and I love the history behind making National Parks to set that beauty aside for all to enjoy. Washington has many historic sites and one of the most interesting is the Grand Coolee Dam and all that went into building it. Especially, that they built it for irrigation purposes and later saw the possibility of using it for making electricity as a way to help pay for the dam! It’s truly an awesome structure and I love all the history that went into it and how it’s made clean and very green electricity–which we totally take for granted–for the NW and beyond for well over 50 years. Who knew what started as an irrigation project could have such a far reaching effect?

  11. Jane,
    What a great topic. I love Breckenridge Colorado. It started as a mining town that almost disappeared into a ghost town then reemerged as a holiday/ski area. Many of the old buildings are now used as stores for the tourists. But I could well imagine dropping back in time and being part of the gold rush.

    Linda F

  12. This may seem a little strange but I love the family cemetaries back in the PA mountains where my family on both sides can be traced to just after the Revolutionary War. Now that IS history!

  13. My family used to take day trips up to Stony Point, New York… we would visit West Point and the Fort… It is always something to see items that were around sooo many years ago… the history of these sites and objects! 😀

  14. Some of my favorite historical sites to visit are cemetaries. they abound with history and I like to imagaine what the person must have been like. I especially love one headstone in the cemetary where my grandparents are buried which says “Our Little Birdie Has Flown Away” and at the bottom is a little bird lying on its back. Since this is all carved from stone it was painstakingly made. also in this same area is one that read “Gone and Forgotten” which now that the last of this woman’s children are gone, the grandkids changed.

  15. Hi Jane,

    I’m a bit late but want to give you a big welcome to P&P. We’re so glad to have you here!

    Your blog is really interesting. It’s neat and very forward thinking of those German settlers in Fredericksburg in building Sunday houses. I’d never heard of that before even though I’ve visited Fredericksburg a time or two. I guess I didn’t go to the right tourist places. But that’s so neat! It’s a great tidbit to put in a story.

    Your book looks like a “must-have.” They gave you a wonderful cover. I’ll look for it in January.

    We hope you enjoy your stay and come again soon.

  16. I am very familiar with Bent’s Fort and Boggsville, Colorado history since my grandfather’s ranch was cloe to it. In his younger days, he was a sheepherder in that area and he used to tell me about the Kiowa Indians he would see along the riverbanks.
    My other grandfaher operated a cattle ranch where Snowmass is now located. All I remember about Aspen was that it was a tiny town where the novie stars skied and my father saw Gary Cooper in the only market in town one time. Colorado has alot of historical sites. Did you now that the marble used for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was mined in Colorado?

  17. Thanks to all of you for your interesting memories!

    Taryn, I’ve seen the floral clock in Frankfort. It’s lovely. My favorite place there is Daniel Boone’s grave.

    Kathleen, I grew up in KC, MO and know more about the western part of the state. I didn’t realize there were Lewis & Clark re-enactments along the river.

    Quilt Lady, my husband is a Civil War buff. Fortunately, because I love history, I’ve enjoyed visiting the battlegrounds. We’ve missed Perryville and will have to visit next time we’re in KY.

    Debbie–how good to see you! I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon but loved Yellowstone. Aren’t we fortunate that others in the past thought about future generations and set aside the national parks for us! Now we need to preserve them.

    LindaF–Breckingridge sounds fascinating. Have you considered writing a historcal novel set there?

    Karen B and Connie, I agree with you that cemeteries are fascinating. When we lived in Savannah, there was a cemetery downtown–so beautiful and peaceful and full of history. I too imagined what the people buried there had been like, pictured what their lives had been like.

    Colleen, while I was watching an Army football game, the network showed a few minutes of footage about the town and West Point. Oh, my–lovely and so interesting. The architecture of the campus amazed me.

    Linda, thank you for the welcome. I love the cover of SECOND CHANCE BRIDE, too. Didn’t Pam Crooks do a lovely job of setting this blog up?

    Again, thanks to all for your comments.

  18. The thing that amazes me about historical homes is how small they seem, compared to the homes of today.

    PLease don’t include my name in the hat–I’m already enjoying your book.

  19. Anon–I agree. The Potton House in Big Spring, TX, is early 20th century and TINY–although it was, at the time it was built, considered to be very luxurious.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying my book. Thank you for mentioning it!

    Jane

  20. The great state of Texas offers its visitors and
    residents such a variety of sites, from the beaches to the Hill Country to the Davis Mountains. Some of my favorite historical sites are the Alamo and the Mission Trail, Washington-On-The-Brazos, the Sam Houston Home, and the San Jacinto Monument. These sites are all connected with the founding, the fight for freedom, and the early government of the Republic of Texas. Did you all know that this state was
    once a Republic?

    Pat Cochran

  21. I live outside of Pittsburgh and there really is a rich history. We are the city of three rivers (all Indian names) and a lot of things started here – too many to name. We have forts and museums and outside of the city are battlegrounds etc. I’ve known a few authors who have based a book on the French and Indian War here and think it would be a great location to write a story on 🙂

  22. St. Augustine, Florida is the most amazing place that I’ve been to. There is just so much history and the sights, sounds and even smells are like no other place. Sure, there are tourists around, but you can truly imagine what life was like long ago and immerse yourself in it.

    Deidre

  23. HI Jane, we do live in KY so it wasn’t too far of a drive for us. He is about 2.5 now and we only went about 2 months ago. LOL but it was so much fun, he didn’t want to have his picture taken with them that is for sure!

  24. Okay, now you’ve guilted me into visiting some of these places. I’m afraid I’ve lived in Austin for over five years and I’ve only visited Fredricksburg once and Kerrville once (for the woodworkers show) and the Alamo (the real one in the middle of San Antonio – does anyone else think it looks a LOT smaller than in the movie?) Thanks for the list of exciting places. Do you suppose the eagle’s nest will still be there when I get there?

  25. Hi Jane,
    I haven’t been west of the Mississippi by car so the places you’ve mentioned are new to me. By the descriptions in some of the westerns I’ve read, the Texas panhandle sounds like it was a hard place to live during the 19th century and I’m impressed with the pioneers that stuck it out.

    My favorite historical sites outside of Boston (because pretty much everything there is historical)are the National Park in Lexington, MA and the Civil War sites in Fredericksburg, VA and Gettysburg, PA. It’s amazing but each time we’ve gone, if you walk around alone and are quiet, you can almost feel the battle going on around you.

    You definitely feel like you are in a sacred place. It gives me a sense of pride and gratitude for all the men and women who paved our way toward freedom in the U.S.

    Thanks for the post. Have a great weekend!

  26. Pat, Obviously I agree with you about Texas–but you’ve visited a lot more places. I really loved Ft. Davis and the Davis Mountains. No one believes we have mountains here.

    Joye–what interesting lives your grandfathers lived! I didn’t know about the marble. Thanks for the information.

    Estella, Oregon is a state I haven’t made it to but would love to. When I talk about all the hisotrical sites in Texas, I realize that EVERY place has history. Not all of it as part of the US, but interesting background from Native-Americans and from the Spanish influence.

    Jeanne, I’ve visited Pittsburg and remember there was (is there still?) Three Rivers Stadium where the Steelers played.

    Diedre–Jacksonville is the only place I’ve visited in Florida but St. Augustine has always fascinated me. We forget how OLD it is because we think of New England as the first settlements.

    Monika–I agree with you about the Alamo. I visited it in 1974 and thought, “This is it?” It’s snuggled in downtown and hard to see at first. The eagles’ nest will be in the tree anytime you go west toward Llano, but the eagles usually leave in February.

    Zaharoula, I don’t believe I would have survived pioneer life in the Texas panhandle. Thank goodness people were hardier back then. We visited Gettysburg and looked for my husband’s family. The men fought in a PA regiment. There is a real feeling of history there.

    Again, many thanks to all who have visited and left messages.

  27. Hi Jane,

    I’m a little late but I just remembered you’d be here today. I’ve always been a Revolutionary War buff so I was tickled (22 years ago) to learn that the neighborhood we moved into was built over the battlefield of the Battle of Brooklyn. The park where my puppy plays is right next to a reconstructed house that was built on the site where the battle raged as Washington planned his famous escape across the East River. They hold reenactments there every August.

    The site of the building is http://www.theoldstonehouse.org/

    Nearby is also the Fort Greene monument to all the patriots who died in the prison ships while the British held NY. The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument had fallen into disrepair but it was restored and just this last November its lantern was re-lit after 87 years of darkness.

    http://www.fortgreenepark.org/pages/prisonship.htm

    It’s great fun to read about everyone’s favorite places.

    MaryC

  28. Hi Jane! One of my favorite historical sites is the Saratoga Battlefield in Saratoga, NY. They have a wonderful visitor center filled with artifacts from the Revolutionary War era. There is a self-guided tour road with numerous tour stops where you can view monuments, plaques, and cannons. It’s so quiet and peaceful there now, but I always liked to sit there and just reflect on what it was like when the battle was raging…..men yelling, muskets firing, cannons booming. You could just feel history come alive.

  29. I am a sucker for traveling to places of historical interest. I think one of the most interesting places I’ve visited was American Eagle mine up near Victor, CO. They have a gravel trail that allows you to walk a large portion of the old town. Up near Cripple Creek I also took a tour of the Molly Kathleen mine. It was amazing. They give you a hard hat and drop you down in the bucket WAY WAY waaaay underground. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to work the mines.

    Thanks for the interesting web addresses!

  30. Jane, sorry for being late in getting back.

    Yes there is a lot of history around me. I live in Middle Tennessee. Columbia, TN is the home of James K. Polk. We have lots of plantations one of which is Rattle and Snap called this because it was won in a game of “Rattle and Snap”. This game of chance is said to have been played with beans. Visit http://www.rattleandsnapplantation.com or http://historicmaury.org/index_files/historichomes.html.

    This is a great area for history. Civil War History is real strong here. Elm Springs is in Columbia, TN which houses the Sons of Confederate Veterans Headquarters. We have Rippavilla just up the road it is where General Hood sleept while the “Yankee” slipped by to the battle of Franklin.
    I could go on and on, but I will spare you.

  31. Hi Jane,
    I think one of my favorite historic places is Independence Hall in Philadelphia. You stand there and think about how the country began and that the people guiding it were right in that space.

  32. Stephanie, I can’t imagine what it would be like to go down in a mine. I know they are deep, but I’ve also heard that they are very low, that a miner can’t stand up straight. Is that true?

    Sherry–I’m going to stop by the site you gave and learn to play Rattle and Snap. Yes, I know TN has a lot of Civil War history. Fascinating!

    Maureen, I visited Independence Hall and felt the same way. I’ve also noticed how authentic the sets are in movies that took place here.

    Again, thanks to all for stopping by. Have a wonderful New Year! I’ll be getting the book off to the winner as soon as Linda give me the name and address.

  33. Jane, sorry to be a day late! Believe it or not, some of my ancestors lived in Fredericksburg and I didn’t know about the Sunday houses! Though I’m sure they had them. Actually, having already read Second Chance Bride and loving it, I saw your references to the things you mentioned in your blog. Oh, did I mention that Second Chance Bride is absolutely wonderful?
    My friend Mike, who still lives in Buchanan Dam, sent me pictures of the eagle’s nest. That was very neat! Again, sorry to be late, got my days mixed up (not uncommon with me)!

  34. I am really late here sorry about that, I have not been to a ton of places. But I went to one place in Kansas City can’t remember what it was called it as when the kids were little and we had so much fun seeing the history. And here in Omaha Gearld Ford birthsite it is a beautiful place in the spring and summer my mother was re-married there and it was very beautiful.
    Very interesting about the eagles nest.

  35. Pittsburgh with an “h” lol – one of the few cities that retained the “h” when most cities dropped them. Actually they tore down Three Rivers and we now have a new one called Heinz Field. You know – bigger and better and more expensive. We have a separte staudium for baseball now and they are going to get rid of our Civic Arena (called by another big corporation name now – yuk). It was the first to have a moveable dome. I must be getting old because I’m not thrilled with all this “progress”.

  36. I don’t know what my favorite site is named. But it’s a castle somewhere in the Czech Republic. I went there when I was a young girl and when I stood on the castle walls looking at the green hills surrounding it, I felt so at peace!
    Even though I’ve seen much more beautiful castles since, I’ve never had that feeling again.

  37. Ellen–glad you dropped by! I didn’t realize you had family from Fredericksberg. You’d have to visit the historical village to see a Sunday house. I’m really glad you liked Second Chance Bride–you wrote a wonderful review. Thanks!

    Brenda, I didn’t know Gerald Ford was born in Omaha. Glad your family had fun in KC–I’m wondering where you went!

    Jeanne, I thought 3 Rivers was gone. I lived in Houston and went to the Astrodome often. Always thought it was great but not enough skyboxes. I wish we felt the same way about education as we do about athletic teams.

    Stephanie, the castle in the Czech Republic sounds lovely. I’ll have to google “castle in Czech Republic” and see if I can find it. Isn’t it odd how places can make us feel that way?

    Again, thanks to all for stopping by!

  38. Cypress Hills Massacre National Historic Site of Canada

    Saskatchewan – 1873 attack on Assiniboines by wolf hunters, North West Mounted Police restored order
    Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan
    this place is dear to me b/c it is near where I live and it ‘is history’ for us. This place offers up great tours.

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