The old West had a shortage of everything except hard times and backbreaking work and there was sure plenty of that. Pioneer women took extra pains with all their belongings and to lose something as small as a button really was difficult to take.
Buttons have been around approximately 4,000 years with its history dating back to Egypt. Archeologists have unearthed them in ancient tombs and in archeological digs.
At first buttons were used entirely for decoration. Men and women both wore buttons to adorn themselves. King Louis XIV of France spent $600,000 a year on buttons and King Francis I once had 13,600 buttons sewn to a single coat. The First Duke of Buckingham had a suit and cloak covered in diamond buttons. Talk about extravagant.
From ancient times, buttons have been fashioned from pearls, shells, glass, metal, wood, bone and antler, precious stones, porcelain, and leather among other materials. It appears that our ancestors made buttons from everything imaginable that was available at the time. Buttons with images of angels on them date back hundreds of years.
But buttons were not just for clothing. They could be found on purses, bracelets, belts, and shoes and still can today. Early buttons showed beautiful artistry. Artists filled their time painting portraits and scenery on them. Europe became so button crazy the church denounced them as “the devil’s snare,” mainly because of women’s front-buttoned dresses. Ridiculous I know. Even the Puritans condemned buttons as sinful.
No one is quite sure when someone came along and fashioned the first buttonhole, but it was quite an accomplishment. Everyone jumped on the button wagon. It was so nice to able to make form-fitting garments that didn’t have to be secured with a belt, hooks, or other devices.
Sadly, decorative buttons have become a lost art. Today, most buttons are mass produced from inexpensive plastic.
Button collecting began in the 1930’s. The National Button Society was formed in 1938. There are thousands of collectors today. People collect all kinds and shapes and some of the prices fetched for a single button is outrageous. Recently, a button was sold in auction for $850. People are serious about their buttons.
The Smithsonian Institution has an extensive button collection as do many other museums.
Did you know that March13-19 is National Button Week?
Most of us have buttons somewhere, either in jars or in sewing baskets. I have a zip lock bag full of buttons that I’ve cut off clothes before I toss them in the trash. I always think I’ll need one for something.
A friend of mine plays a game of buttons with her grandchildren. She lets them choose from her button collection then tells them some wild story about where it came from and who wore it. The more outrageous story the better. Their eyes grow wide as they listen to the tales she weaves.
Do you have a stash of buttons? I have some very pretty decorative ones. Can you imagine wearing a piece of clothing that has over 13,000 buttons sewn on it?
Hey, y’all. I’m Christian author, Caryl McAdoo. First, I have to say I’m so thrilled to be here at Petticoats & Pistols! A big thank you to Karen Witemeyer for the invite! Y’all have such a great group of readers here!
While doing research for my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, I ran across a very interesting incident that some say was a catalyst to the start of the Civil War, and it happened right there in Dallas, Texas where I lived until age twelve. That’s when we moved to Irving, one of the suburb cities to the west, between Big D and Fort Worth.
I set GONE TO TEXAS, book one in the series, in 1840 along the Delaware Creek that would become Irving. It took me five books in to get to 1860, just before the Civil War began, so that I could use the Dallas incident, but it inspired the title of book five TEXAS TROUBLE that debuted on September first!
The September addition to that series always also is in the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection—this year is its third, so Collection Three! Heather Blanton, Donna Schlachter, and Kim Grist wrote CAROLINA HOMECOMING, A PINK LADY’S THANKSGIVING, and MAGNOLIA’S MEASURE, respectively for the stories that all contain a very special Thanksgiving!
It was in one of those extra hot summers where the temperatures burned over a hundred degrees for days on end. I lived through a summer like that in 1980, but back in 1860 they had no air conditioning. Poor people. TEXAS TROUBLES opens with two young friends about to go into a barn dance.
While one of the young ladies had never said it aloud, the other spread the news to anyone who would listen that she loves Aaron Van Zandt, but he’d accepted a new position as a cotton buyer for a company in Richmond, and would be soon leaving the little community.
Cass had to figure out a way to persuade him to marry her before he left, and she hoped for her friend’s assistance!
You see, Josie Jo Worley (born in book one GONE TO TEXAS) happened to be the sister of Aaron’s best friend. But her problem was that she loved the dashing Mister Van Zandt as well—had for as long as she could remember, and she’d grown since birth in his shadow. Cass was a relative new resident there, and while JoJo loved her best friend, she couldn’t bring herself to be any part of marrying him off to anyone else!
So, the second fly in the proverbial ointment is that JoJo’s brother loves Cassandra. It happened so often in those days, that neighbors and friends’ brothers or sisters wed. The distances between folks greatly limited the pool of beaus or beauties. It wasn’t so common, though, that a widower fell in love with his dead wife’s sister . . . What would people think?
In TEXAS TROUBLES readers not only get a wonderful overview of the country’s one war—hardly civil at all—where Americans fought Americans. Reviewers say the story gives an excellent rendering of what it was like for those left behind, and so far, have given it one hundred percent five-star ratings!
It shows how the women kept things going at home. How they drew ever closer to God, praying for their husbands, sons, and sweethearts day after day, knowing nothing. How they poured over the lists printed the newspapers of those fallen, wounded, missing in action, or taken prisoner. Not every man who left the close-knit community would come home.
Aaron ended up signing on with the South. The Confederates’ headquarters centered there in Richmond. His best friend, Richard Worley, more like a brother since they grew up together since birth fought for the Yanks.
Following most of those in the conservative community, he joined up with the Federalists, putting the almost-brothers on opposite sides of the battlefields.
The costs of war proved high. Four years of civil war drained the American economy in both the North and the South, and the cost of human life . . . more than six hundred thousand perished, and at least that many or more wounded. Limbs lost and horrors seen changed the men’s lives forever, and doctors didn’t know about PTSD then.
I purposely skirted the horrors of the war, mostly it’s told through letters back and forth from the men and the women who love them. But it’s chock full of history, and I loved the research! One fun thing I learned was that they didn’t manufacture shoes specifically for the right and left foot. Until the Civil War, they were all the same!
Anyone who loves history will enjoy this story and get two romances for the price of one! Readers will live with those left behind. I’ve been so blessed in my life not to have been any part of war. My husband Ron signed up for the navy reserves when we were still in high school and then after we married, but got a honorable dependency discharge when I got pregnant. He would have gone to Vietnam. But God . . .
Has war touched your life?
Brothers are for conflict; and he who finds a wife has found a good thing.
Through the first battle to the end of the Civil war, partners Aaron Van Zandt and Rich Worley fought on opposite sides. The women who loved them lived in prayer and learned to trust God even more to stay sane. While their fellows fought each other, best friends Josie Jo Worley and Cass Andrews battle jealousy, worry, and regret. Experience the war as one who’s left behind. See how they cope. Readers aren’t able to stop turning the pages.
GIVEAWAY: I love giving and especially books! To enter for the opportunity to receive a copy of TEXAS TROUBLES, please comment below whether your life was ever touched by war, and whether you’re a new reader to my stories or have enjoyed some before! BLESSINGS!
GAME: And for those of you who love word games, check this one out! So much fun! PUZZLE
BIO: Award-winning hybrid author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory. Her best-selling novels have garnered over 1000 5-Star reviews, attesting to the Father’s high favor. Readers love her Historical Christian romance family sagas best, but she also writes Christian contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. They count Caryl’s characters as family or very close friends. The prolific writer loves singing the new songs God gives her almost as much as penning tales—hear a few at YouTube! Married to Ron over fifty years, she shares four children and twenty grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.
And a happy Tuesday to you! Hope y’all are doing well and I hope you’ll find the blog today fascinating.
Don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I’ll be giving away the free e-book, WAR CLOUD’S PASSION today, thus, I’ll do it here at the start of today’s blog. Today’s blog could be a bit long, so let’s get right to it.
In my last blog last month, I tried to give an overview and an idea of how Pocahontas came to be familiar with the English colonists and how they had come to know her. If you missed that post, you can do a search under “The Abduction and Murder of Pocahontas,” and it will come up for you to read.
Okay, that said, let’s look at where I left off in my last post, which was with Pocahontas coming of age and I promised to tell you about her marriage to Kocoum, as well as her abduction by a few of the colonists, and the rather sordid details of her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe. It may take me more than this post to fill in all those holes. But let’s at least start with how she might have met her husband, Kocoum.
In the Powhatan society, a young girl and boy’s coming of age is celebrated, and it was no different for Pocahontas. However, because there was a rumor of an abduction planned for Pocahontas, her ceremony was limited to special friends and family only. There is a special dance called the courtship dance during which male warriors search the dancers for a mate. This is probably where their courtship began. After a time, they were married. Kocoum was an elite warrior. He was among 50 of the top warriors that guarded the capital of the Powhatan confederacy. He was also the younger brother of Wahunsenaca’s, a friend of Pocahontas’ father, Chief Japazaw. Because the priests (called quiakros) feared that the colonists plotted to kidnap Pocahontas, the couple went to live in Kocoum’s home, which was isolated from the colonists and farther north. She was, in fact, being hidden from the English. Kocoum and Pocahontas had a child, little Kocoum, a boy. It was Captain Samuel Argall, an English colonist, who accomplished the feat of kidnapping Pocahontas.
Please excuse me as I pause from my story momentarily to tell you of a movie I once watched where it rendered that Pocahontas and her father had a falling out and that he had banished her from the tribe, thus she had taken up with the English. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pocahontas was a princess, dearly beloved by her father. She was also married to Kocoum and had a child by him. Never would she have been banished from the tribe. That movie did nothing but further the false information about this very brave woman. That said, back to Captain Argall. Why did he wish to capture Pocahontas? Why did he take such extreme measures, for he certainly did. Once he had learned of her hiding place, he gathered together not only men, but weapons and arms to attempt her capture. But why?
Let’s speculate. Do you remember from my previous post that the English colonists were looting the Powhatan villages of their stores of food. They were also raping their women and children and oftentimes stealing their women and children in order to make them servants for the English. Sometimes I wonder at the foolishness of sending only men to the colonies. It only courted trouble. But I digress. Perhaps he simply wanted her as his woman. But I don’t think so. I think the reason is much more complex and includes money and greed. The Powhatan had many diverse and rich agricultural fields. There were no trees to cut, no land to clear. In order to take the land, all the colonists had to do was destroy the village and take the land — it seemed this was considered easier than clearing the land. This the colonists did and they expected retribution from the very powerful Powhatan tribe because of it. The tribe might have done this. But they chose not to because Wahunsenaca considered the English a branch of his tribe. Though the abuses were numerous, he still sought other ways to deal with the problem, rather than killing the colonists outright.
Through trickery and deceit, Captain Argall managed to get Pocahontas onto his ship. She was supposed to be returned. She never was. She was held for ransom. What Captain Argall demanded from Pocohontas’ father was: a) the return of English weapons that had been taken from Jamestown, b) the return of the English prisoners Washunsenaca held captive and c) a shipment of corn. Washunsenaca paid the ransom at once. In fact Argall writes of the transaction in his log in 1613, “This news much grieved this great king (Wahunsenaca), yet without delay he returned the messenger with this answer, that he desired me to use his daughter well, and bring my ship into his river (Pamunkey), and there he would give me my demands; which being performed, I should deliver him his daugher, and we should be friends.” Although Wahunsenaca quickly carried out the ransom demands, Pocahontas was never released. According to the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, by Dr. Linwood “little Bear” Custalow and Angela L. Daniel “Silver Star,” “…oral history states that before Argall took sail (back to Jamestown), several of Argall’s men returned to Pocahontas’ home and killed her husband, Kocoum.” It was tradition that he would have come for her and rescued her, something that Argall could not permit. Little Kocoum survived because upon Pocahontas’ capture, he was put into the care of several of the women of the tribe. As an aside, there are still many descendents of Kocoum who are alive and well to this day. You may again wonder why the Powhatan didn’t retaliate. Part of that is Pocahontas’s father’s fear for her life if he were to do so, the other reason he didn’t attack is because of a tribal custom — part of the cultural foundation of the tribe, which was that of appeasing evil. If one could, one always sought a balance between submitting to evil demands and preventing the loss of life. Even so, the quiakros (priests) of the tribe advised a swift retaliation, but Wahunsenaca would not do it, fearing for his daughter’s life.
One of Pocahontas’ elder sisters, Mattachanna, and her husband, Uttamattamakin, who was also a priest, were allowed to visit Pocahontas during her captivity. Oral tradition is very distinct on the fact that Pocahontas confided that she had been raped and worse, she suspected she was pregnant. Again, rape was unheard of in Powhatan society. Interestingly, shortly after this confession to her sister, Pocahontas was quickly converted to Christianity in order to rush her into marriage. At this time, it would have been inconceivable for a Christian man to marry anyone who was not Christian. It is also supposed that Sir Thomas Dale was actually the biological father of Pocahontas’s child, since, according to scholars William M.S. Rasmussen and Robert S. Tilton, it was Thomas Dale who was most closely linked to Pocahontas during her kidnapping. Note also that her son’s name was not “John,” but rather “Thomas.” It would also explain why Rolfe (who was secretary of the colony at the time) did not record the birth of Thomas.
Was the marriage one of love? Oral history casts doubt on this. She had just lost her husband, was separated from the father she loved, had given birth to a child from an incident she described as rape, and was rushed into marriage in order to make it appear that the birth had taken place after the marriage. Plus, she was not free to live her own life. She could not come and go as her leisure. Did John Rolfe love her? In a letter to Dale, Rolfe refers to her as a “creature,” not a “woman.” But regardless, whether they loved one another or not, they were married and Rolfe became the heir to the friendliness of the Powhatan people, which included their knowledge of the tobacco plant and how it was processed. Here is where the unsavory aspects of money and greed enter into the equation. The Virgina company wasn’t doing well. There was no gold in the New World, there was no silver, no gems, nothing to make the venture successful. There just had to some way to make the colony prosperous. Would the tobacco plant become their claim to fame?
It seems likely that this might have been their intentions. Rolfe had left England in 1609 with the goal of making a profit growing and processing tobacco. He arrived in 1610 and for three years, he had been unsuccessful at both growing the tobacco and in the processing of it. The year 1616 was the “deadline for the initial investments in the Virginia colony.” From the book THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, it appears that time was running out. The colony was failing. And Rolfe’s crop was failing. Thus, Rolfe himself was failing. What was he to do?
Stay tuned. We’ve gone over her abduction now. Next month, I hope to answer the questions of what possible motive John Rolfe, Captain Argall and Thomas Dale might have had for kidnapping Pocohontas. And then marrying her. Then there’s the question of who killed her? And why? What could her death have accomplished? Most of all, however, how was the deed accomplished and covered up so thoroughly? To the point where it was believed that she had died of small pox?
So come on back next month for the conclusion of The Murder and Abduction of Pocohontas.
Am hoping that you’ll come in an tell me your thoughts about this very real American legend.
Did you know the U.S. Marshal did far more than protect the Wild West from outlaws? These courageous men—in addition to wrangling criminals to justice—also delivered writs, subpoenas, served warrants, made other arrests, and transferred prisoners. Sometimes they were given special missions, too.
They paid attorneys, clerks, jurors, and witnesses if fees were due. They were known to go into the street and recruit jurors. I can hear some farmer about town, eyeing the marshal as he held a firm hand on his holster, sporting a shiny badge. The farmer might nod real slow as he considered his options and say, “Uh, yes indeed, Marshal Everett, I reckon purchasing a new hat for the Missus can wait until after we decide on a hangin’ or not.”
1880’s U.S. Marshal badge,
photo courtesy of the U.S. Marshal website.
Marshals also hired bailiffs, janitors, and usually their own deputies. Sometimes they’d fill the water pitchers in the courtroom to allow attorneys and judges to concentrate on the cases. They traversed rural areas gathering census information, as well. One account I read involved a U.S. Marshal chasing a drunk through town and on for miles, and finally, over a fence out in the countryside. Sometimes presidents even needed marshals to become involved in acts of espionage.
Much of the west was governed by circuit judges holding court perhaps twice or thrice a year, often in a town some distance from the jail. Marshals were responsible for prisoners until the court date. It could be a mighty long wait for both the marshals and prisoners.
Although the marshal hero in Lydia’s Lot is busy capturing outlaws and winning over a bride once forbidden to pursue, my research beckoned me to consider the time these lawmen spent in other capacities. My active imagination led me to decide U.S. Marshal Heath Everett might have a companion dog to assist with holding down the field office and aiding in the capture of gun-slinging outlaws—which naturally made me think Heath would want a glorious hunting friend, such as the red Irish setter.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Loyal, friendly, and intelligent, did you know the Irish setter is a fine hunting and companion dog? They were ideal for the prairie with their long, wiry, and bony frames. When trained properly, they will point out grouse, pheasant, turkey, or other wild game to their masters (possibly outlaws, too)—and all with the wave of a hand, and little or no verbal command required.
They will hunch down quietly on all fours, front paws stretched out ahead while the master aims the shotgun and fires directly over their heads at prey. The master will then reward him with a generous portion of the quail, fish, or hunting game this amazing breed helps to secure. However, don’t take a harsh tone with this breed. The setter will never forget it.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
When did the Irish setter arrive on the western frontier? This is debatable, but we know they became wildly popular in America. According to the first pure-bred dog registry in the U.S., “Elcho” became the first Irish setter imported by Charles Turner in 1870. He sired 197 puppies! Several presidents had famous setters, including Truman’s setter, Mike; Reagan’s setter, Peggy; and Nixon’s setter, King Timahoe.
Readers inspired the name Fitzgerald Murphy (nicknamed Fitz) for the Irish setter in Lydia’s Lot. Fitz plays a significant role alongside Heath. You’ll also find some entertaining outlaws and a sub-plot in the novel.
To win a paperback copy of Lydia’s Lot, comment with what kind of mayhem an unrefined mail-order bride matched to a young preacher might be up to in my next historical western. I’d love to hear from you.
Forbidden to marry Heath, the one man she truly loves, Lydia Catherine Hayden, an American heiress from Boston, boards a train and heads west to become a mail-order bride when matchmaker, Milly Crenshaw, introduces her to Wyatt from Iowa. Five years have gone by, and she isn’t interested in any of the society gentlemen of whom her father would approve. Her love for Heath has turned to a mild hate since hearing he married someone else.
When the Wild Whitman Gang involved in an Iowa train robbery use orphans traveling west as human shields to make their escape, they converge on Lydia’s marriage ceremony to Wyatt, killing him and abducting the heiress in the process. Things don’t seem to be going well for the architect’s daughter and she’s in a heap of trouble.
When Heath, now a widowed U.S. Marshal in Des Moines, returns home to Boston to visit family, he decides to sign up for Milly Crenshaw’s mail-order bride agency services in hopes of settling down and becoming a farmer. After Milly learns Lydia is now widowed and being held captive somewhere in Iowa with seven orphans from New York City, she pulls Heath into the case, urging him to find her, and marry her if possible. But first, he has to track down one of the most notorious, dangerous, gun-slinging gangs the Wild West has ever known. Then, he has to win Lydia’s heart all over again, if he isn’t shot and killed first in the process.
The Oregon Trail was a route from Missouri to Oregon spanning about 2000 miles, and deemed too difficult for women and children until 1836 when the first white woman, 28-year-old Narcissa Whitman, crossed the Rockies with her newly-wedded husband (proving that women are tougher than believed!). Still, it wasn’t until over half of a decade later that the “Great Migration” really began, setting thousands out on this journey to the west. By the early 1850s upwards of 50,000 people traveled this trail every year!
While the journey was not easy and not everyone arrived at their destination, statistics show only around 400 settlers were killed by natives between 1840 and 1860. Cholera and other diseases presented much greater risks (they estimate 20,000 died in all).
But what if someone became lost from their group? That is the question that pestered me as I drove through the Rockies several years ago. A woman, maybe a pregnant woman, lost from the trail and her wagon train late in the season. That was the birth of Heart of a Warrior, my new release.
The Man She Fears Is Her Only Chance For Survival . . .
All Christina Astle wants is to reach Oregon before her baby is born, but the wagon train is attacked, and her husband killed, stranding her in a mountain labyrinth. Raised in the East, within civilization’s embrace, survival is not a skill she’s learned. Neither is evading the lone warrior dogging her trail.
Disgusted by the greed and cruelty of men like his white father, Towan has turned to the simpler existence of his mother’s tribal people. He is not prepared for the fiery woman who threatens to upturn his entire life … and his heart.
For More Info or To Purchase, check out the following links:
So how about you? Have you ever found yourself lost? How did you react? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.
To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after four—soon to be five!—munchkins. http://email@example.com
So, did you put it together yet? Okay, shall we compare times? Now, before I tell you how long it took me to put the puzzle together, be aware that I am not puzzle-oriented. Okay? It took me 11 minutes and 54 seconds — and that was after I called my husband, Paul (who loves puzzles) to come and help me. I seem, also, to be alone in my lack of tolerance and working over puzzles. Both my daughters, my grandchildren, my husband, his mother, his sister, etc. etc. — all love puzzles and put them together (really hard ones) in no time at all.
Would love to hear your time.
So here’s the multiple choice question: Is the cover?
** RED HAWK’S WOMAN
** THE LAST WARRIOR
** THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF
Thanks so much for coming here today and for playing the game with me. Know that if you leave a comment, you are automatically entered into the drawing that will take place at the end of the week. (All Petticoats and Pistols rules for Giveaways apply.)
Thanks for playing and have a super rest of the week…lots of fun!
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a museum in Nebraska…not really near me because let’s face it, Nebraska is HUGE.
But it’s near enough that I’ve gotten there a couple of times.
It’s absolutely fascinating. A laid-out circle of buildings that have been brought it, that date to the 1800s.
I may write five blogs about it because there is SO MUCH. I could spend days there and just look and read and look and read.
But today I’m writing about the recreated Earthen Lodge built there.
In the early 1800s the Pawnee lived mainly in only a few towns. Six or seven.
In each town were 40 to 200 of these earthen lodges.
Each lodge held around 20 Pawnee and each village could contain from 800 to 3500 tribal members.
These were big towns.
The smallest one is larger than my hometown.
This first picture is a diagram of the lodge. It’s laid out to respect the power the Native people gave to the earth. It was called The Circle of Life. Both symbolic and literally the source of their family, their safety, their food, their shelter. Truly a circle of life for them.
For me, museums are most fun when there are lots of words. This picture above is for the Pawnee History that is celebrated with this earthen lodge. I hope you can read it. I spend more time READING in museums than looking at the objects contained there.
This is the side view of the lodge from outside. It’s exactly as you’d think it would be. A hole dug into a hill. Remember this is Nebraska. It gets cold! The insulation from dirt is excellent, though it still seems like it’s be a little cold to me.
Here it is from the front, this is the entrance. It’s full size and we were able to go inside.
This is the inside edge of the lodge. You can see there is a layer of grassy seating off the ground. The Pawnee would sit here, around the fire, and could sleep here at night. A single lodge could house dozens of tribal members.
Here you can see the tree trunks that support the ceiling, even though it’s inside an earthen mount it is hollowed out and they need to keep the ceiling up. Note the opening in the ceiling. A fire was built in the center of the lodge and it would warm everyone, the smoke would rise up through the hole, they could cook over it and heat water to wash.
So, today, I thought I’d tackle a subject of some interest, since this woman is actually a great American heroine. I’m talking about Pocahontas. And, I’ll be giving away a free copy of THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR today. Just look off to the right here, please, for the rules regarding out give-aways.
Before I start, let me ask you a question: Do you believe the Disney story of Pocahontas? Or some version of it?
I did, well at least I did until I did some research into the actual story of Pocahontas. So, if you don’t mind dropping down a rabbit hole, come along with me in this fascinating subject that has been given a spin so as to cover up an actual murder of this true, American heroine.
Pocahontas’ real name, by the way, was Matoaka — which means “flower between two streams. Now, before I go on, let me do a disclaimer: this post in no way pretends to “know it all,” about this very definite heroine, but I think we might be able to set the story straight, at least a little.
To the left here is probably the most true picture (painting) that we have of Pocahontas. Now, this will probably be the subject of two or three blogs, simply because there’s just too much info to get into one blog. The information that I’m going to be telling you about comes from the book THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTES, by Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Custalow and Angela L;. Daniel “Silver Star.” This story that I’m about to present to you is one that is the story that has been passed down orally for hundreds of years by the priests of the Powhatan tribe (Pocahontas’ tribe). It is the story of Pocahontas as told by her own people. It is the story passed down by the tribe’s quiakros — or the chosen few of the tribe, who have spent their lives in learning. One fact that I’m going to say here at the start of this post, mostly because it fascinated me, is that Pocahontas did not die of something. She died for something. And, she did not die of smallpox as is generally reported. She was murdered.
But, as is said in Blackfeet Country, I get ahead of myself. Let’s continue. Pocahontas was indeed a princess. She was born to the paramount chief, Chief Powhatan Wahunsenaca. She was born to Wahunsenaca’s first wife, the wife of his heart late in life. Her mother died giving birth to her — and interestingly enough, her mother’s name was Pocahontas. Wahunsenaca had truly loved his wife and when she died, he showered the love that he’d had for her upon his newborn child. Pocahontas means, by the way “Laughing and joyous one.” As mentioned in the book, the story of Pocahontas is a story of love — not the love between her and John Smith — but rather the story of a father and daughter’s love for one another and for their people. Pocahontas had many older brothers and sisters — many were already married so that caring for the young child was not a problem. She grew up being nursed by several different women of the tribe, which according to the book, might be one reason why her ties to her people were so strong.
To the left here is the more European version of the above painting of Pocahontas and her child. Notice the smiles painted on the faces and the lack of dark circles under her eyes.
Pocahontas was only 10 years old when the colonists stared to arrive in 1607. Because she was the daughter of the paramount chief, she was watched over very, very closely. No running around wild for her. Captain John Smith was 27 years old when he arrived in the New World. The Powhatan tribe was made up of 6 different tribes, with other tribes in its alliance, as well. There were other chiefs, but Powhatan Wahunsenaca was the paramount chief. They all spoke the Algonquain language. Part of the politics of the day was to bring into the tribe an alliance with other peoples and other tribes. Thus, although the Powhatan could have destroyed the colonists at any time, they did not. Instead, they sought to ally the newcomers to them. Perhaps, looking back on history, this was their true mistake.
John Smith — about 6 months after their arrival in the New World — went to explore the countryside. Warriors out hunting for food, discovered him and his party and after a skirmish ensued, Smith was taken captive. Because the English used “thunder sticks” to kill the Indians, the people were afeared of them and were beginning to think of the English as though they were a deity. This next is from the book quoted above — I found it highly interesting: “Smith would pretend to come into a village in a friendly manner. When he was in close proximity to the chief of the village, he would put his pistol to the chief’s head, demanding a ransom of food in exchange for the chief’s release. Smith and his men would proceed to take all the corn and food in the village. As they left, Smith would throw down a few blue beads, claiming to have “traded” with the Powhatan people.”
Does that sound like a man that a young girl would fall in love with? When Smith was taken to Wahunsenaca, it is uncertain whether Pocahontas met Smith at this time or not. Wahunsenaca asked John Smith why the English had come here, to which John Smith replied that they had come to this land to escape the Spanish. Now, the Indians of this country had some trouble with the Spanish, already. In fact they called the Spanish, “sons of the devil..” Remember that Spanish ships would patrol the coasts of the Atlantic coast, sometimes capturing Native people. Relations between the Spanish and the Powhatan were hostile. A little known fact: the word “Indian” does not come from Columbus’ error. Rather it comes from the Spanish word, “indio” meaning to walk with God. I like that meaning.
It is said that Wahunsenaca truly liked John Smith. It was his plan to bring John Smith into the tribe and make him part of the tribe in an effort to consolidate their friendship against the Spanish. Then if the Spanish did come in, they would be faced with the English-Powhatan people. According to Pocahontas’ people, “Although Smith alleged years later that Pocahontas saved his life during the four-day ceremony in the process of his being made a Powhatan werowance, his life was never in danger. His life did not need saving.” A werowance was a commander — male. Also, at this time, Pocahontas was a child. Children were not allowed to attend these kinds of ceremony. The priests would not have allowed Pocahontas to be at the ceremony. After the ceremony, not only was John Smith considered to be a member of the Powhatan tribe, but the entire English colony was considered to be members, too.
In fact, when Smith returned to the English fort, it was the English who tried to kill him. He was put on trial and was sentenced to death. It was Christopher Newport’s arrival in the colony that saved John Smith.
Because the English were now considered part of the tribe, Wahunsenaca sent envoys with food to the Jamestown colony. Because he now trusted John Smith, he allowed his favorite daughter, Pocahontas, to accompany the envoy. Although she was closely watched and chaperoned during these excursions, the colonists became familiar with her, and they associated Pocahontas with the food — not the powerful chief who was in fact sending it. Thus, the rumor that Pocahontas brought food to the colonists against her father’s will, is dispelled as untrue.
What Pocahontas was at this time was a symbol of peace. She was not a spy as some historians have liked to believe. It was during the summer of 1609 that relations between the Powhatan tribe and the English began to deteriorate. Smith entered into villages rudely and with full arms, demanding and taking food. In some instances, he left the Powhatans with no food for the winter. As a matter of fact, this is the speech preserved that Wahunsenaca said to Smith.
“Why do you take by force (that which) you may quickly have by love? Or to destroy them that provide you food? What can you get by war when we can hide our provision and fly to the woods?” Yet John Smith continued to force arms upon the villages in order to take all their food stores, again leaving behind a few beads as though he had traded for the supplies. Maybe he was simply a bully and it’s all he knew. Smith continued to allege that Wahunsenaca wanted to kill him. However, if this were true, it would have been done without apology or explanation. Yet, it wasn’t. Why? Because Smith was considered to be part of the tribe.
Danger came to the Powhatan tribes in the form of rape. In Powhatan society, the children went naked in the summer and women were bare-breasted. It was part of their dress, and did not excite the men in particular because it was such a common sight. Rape was not permitted in Powhatan society. Often the women of the tribe would offer themselves to the English to prevent them from raping their children. Because the English had guns, this was all they could do. Whenever the English would come to the village, the elders would often take the children and hide them in the woods. As more and more English colonists arrived, the atrocities began to grow. Children were often taken to be slaves to the English. The women were simply raped. The Powhatan became shocked at the behavior of the English and set up guards to determine when they were coming to their villages. For their own part, the English kept expecting some sort of retribution by the Powhatan. Neither Wahunsenaca nor Pocahontas had seen John Smith since 1609 and they were told that he was dead. Wahunsenaca discontinued allowing Pocahontas to go to Jamestown. It was no longer safe.
Well, that’s all we have time and space for today. I hope you’ll bear with me and come seek out my post next month as I’ll be discussing Pocahontas’s coming of age. Her marriage to Kocoum, her abduction and her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe. And last but not least, her murder. Why she was murdered and who did the deed, or at least who was responsible for it. Facts, all. Facts that have been hidden all these years which have only recently been brought to light by the people of Pocahontas’s own tribe. I hope you have enjoyed this excursion into history and a look at this very brave heroine. The enormity of her bravery and what she gave up and its cost to her, we’ll go over in my next post (Lord willing).
So, what do you think? Did you already know this, or does this shed a different light on history. It is said, that what is written of history is written by the victors. This has, indeed, been true in the case of Pocahontas. Thank heaven for oral tradition and keeping the truth alive against all odds. So come on in and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. According to my This Day In History calendar, today, August 10 is the 174th anniversary of the day President James Polk signed the Smithsonian Institution Act into law. In honor of that, I thought I provide a little bit of history and fun facts about this great national treasure.
Although Englishman and scientist James Smithson, the man the Smithsonian is named for, was something of a globe-trotter, he never actually set foot in the United States. His estate at the time of his death in 1829 was worth approximately $500,000. In his will he named his nephew Henry as his sole heir.
However, he made one unusual stipulation – if Henry were to die without an heir, then his estate would pass on to the United States of America in order for the country to create in Washington D.C. “an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge” to be named the Smithsonian Institution. As it turns out Henry died six years later at the age of 24 without any heirs.
Smithson gave no indication as to why he would chose to leave his legacy to a country he’d never visited, a country that was to him a foreign nation. And his indication of how the funds were to be utilized was also quite vague. Because of this there was a lot of disagreement over exactly what the money was to be used for. Early discussions suggested a university would best meet the requirement. Other ideas put forth were a research center, an observatory, a museum and a library. Politicians, educators scientists and civilians all had an opinion on the subject. It took nearly 10 years for a decision to be reached. What was ultimately established by congress was a hybrid of all these ideas.
The Smithsonian Institute today has 19 museums and galleries, nine research facilities, and the National Zoological Park, making it the largest museum and research center in the world.
Here are some interesting facts and trivia
When Smithson’s nephew Henry died, the American government was not even aware of the bequest existed. When President Andrew Jackson was informed he had to pass the info on to Congress. Some in Congress held that our government had no power to accept such a gift, and some were even adamantly opposed to our accepting it. One senator argued that it would set a bad precedent, that “every whippersnapper vagabond would send a gift to the United States in order to immortalize his name.” But in 1838, three years after Henry died, the money was finally officially handed over to and accepted by the U.S. Government
The original building that housed the Smithsonian was built based on the winning entry in a design competition. It is called the Castle because of its distinctive castle-like appearance.
The official estimate of the number of objects, works of art and specimens belonging to the Smithsonian is somewhere in the neighborhood of 154 million. 146 million of these are scientific specimens found at the Museum of Natural History. Just one percent of all items are available for public viewing at any one time.
One category of items has been placed off limits to the viewing public – that of human remains. This includes a collection of shrunken heads and other such gruesome specimens
The Smithsonian museums are open every day of the year except Christmas.
The Smithsonian employs about 6300 individuals all told. It has an annual operating budget of more than $800 million.
Most of the Smithsonian exhibits are free to the public.
One of the institutions under the umbrella of the Smithsonian is the National Zoo. It houses 400 different species and approximately 2000 animals. About one fourth of these are considered endangered.
As the Smithsonian expanded it outgrew the Castle and eventually moved into the current complex of buildings. There are 19 museums spread along the East Coast. The Castle now houses the visitor center.
In 2018 there were approximately 29 million visitors to the various Smithsonian museums.
Smithson was in Italy when he died so he was buried there. In 1904 the expansion of a stone quarry threatened to displace his remains. When Smithsonian officials got word of this they petitioned to have his casket transported to America so he could be interred at the site of his legacy. Agreement was reached and the casket made the 14 day sea trip, escorted by Alexander Graham Bell. Today Smithson’s body is entombed in the Castle.
I’ve visited the Smithsonian twice and it really is an amazing place. I spent about a half day each time and feel I only scratched the surface of all there was to see.
What do you think – did any of these facts surprise you?
Have you ever visited the Smithsonian? If so, what was your favorite exhibit?
I’m thrilled to be with you today to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s the place I’ve lived for most of my life and where my family roots run deep into the famous red clay. It’s my home state of Georgia, and while you may be wondering what the Peach State could possibly have in common with the rootin’, tootin’ wild west, let me tell you—more than you’d think!
At one time, in the early years of our country, Georgia was considered just as wild and free as the western states to come, and it became more untamed when gold was discovered in 1828.
That’s right, Georgia had its very own gold rush!
In the summer of 1828, Auroria, Georgia was a quiet little town nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the waters of the Etowah and Chestatee Rivers met. Across the river lay the Cherokee nation, led by Chef John Ross. Under his direction, the Indians had acclimated themselves in the ways of the new country, living in houses and educated their children with the help of Quaker missionaries. A border dispute between the Cherokee and the state of Georgia had sent John Ross to Washington D.C. in January of that year. Both communities had been on edge, but things had settled down with the spring planting and summer harvest.
It is said that the Georgia gold rush started one August evening when a young man by the name of Benjamin Park stumbled on a rock as he was walking along a deer path. He had just left a friend’s house after celebrating his birthday and didn’t think much of it until something sparkled at his feet. When he bent down to inspect it, he realized he hadn’t tripped over a rock but a large nugget of gold.
Word spread, first to adjoining counties then throughout the state and the southern region. People began pouring into the area—miners from the first American gold rush in North Carolina, gamblers and thieves. Plantation owners sent their slaves after the crops were harvested, some promising freedom for gold. Over the next year, people from the northern states as well as the Irish, Scots and English invaded the small community, setting up their stakes along the riverbanks. Food was scarce, but liquor was plentiful and with it, crime and fighting. Some towns had sheriffs but most left law and order up to the Georgia Guard. Most miners panned at night because the state had declared ownership of the rivers’ mineral rights though in truth, it belonged to the Cherokee.
For ten solid years, miners dredged the river of significant amounts of some of the purest gold ever recorded on earth. In 1838, Congress decided to establish a mint in the area. Auroria and Dahlonega were both considered but Dahlonega was awarded the mint. The mint signaled the beginning of the eviction of the Cherokee from their native land and sent west on what is commonly known as the Trail of Tears, one of the saddest chapters in Georgia history.
In 1840, the gold along the banks of the Etowah was almost gone and with it came the demise of Auroria. The mint in Dahlonega produced gold coins well into the 1860s when the confederates took it over, printing gold confederate coins instead. After the war, the mint was closed down permanently.
The gold rush continues today in the area. Every weekend die hard miners are in the water, some with pans, a few with sluice boxes. It’s mostly for fun but hard work! I tried it once and my muscles hurt for a solid week! But I did manage to find a few flakes of gold!
Gold Dust Bride –Abigail Matthews’ lifelong ambition is to run her family’s iron mines alongside her father. With the company in trouble, she heads to the north Georgia mountains where iron and gold are rumored to be found. Abby is certain the mountains hold the iron ore their mining company needs to survive but the task is made more difficult by the influx of miners and the interference of Micah Anderson, the town’s blacksmith and acting sheriff who hinders her progress. . .and steals her heart.
Micah Anderson doesn’t understand the mad rush of people searching for gold. He sees them as gamblers no better than the father who lost him in a card game. That someone as lovely as Abigail would take such a risk grates at him but doesn’t diminish his attraction to her. Working alongside her to provide food for his adoptive mother’s boarding house, Micah discovers the hidden depths of Abigail’s character. But when Abigail is put into danger after witnessing a crime against a Cherokee Indian, will Micah be willing to gamble his heart on the woman he’s come to love?
Patty is giving away a copy of Crinoline Cowboys to two readers who leave a comment today. What is something you love about your home state?
Multi-published author Patty Smith Hall lives near the North Georgia Mountains with her husband, Danny, her two daughters, her son-in-law and her grandboy. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.