Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Historical Places’


Every once in a while I come across a chance to own a piece of history. Nothing so spectacular as a handwritten note from Ben Franklin, or a scrap of the original Bill of Rights, but an original document penned by an Iowa farmer in the early 19th century.  His diary  is a one-way conversation with a bit of this country’s past. The words, however, move me in ways no history book ever has. Here are some excerpts from Josuah Penn’s life:

January 2, 1886 – “Took the sleigh into town today to fetch Rev. Gill. Mother is poorly.  The snow is piled so high that we almost didn’t make it back. Reverend is spending the night, possibly mother’s last.”

January 4 –  “Many turned out for the funeral today. The ground was cold and I wept on the inside so others would not see my pain as J.K. and Moss helped me prepare the frozen ground. Mother was beloved. It was good to my heart to see so many turn out on this dark cold afternoon. She is with the Lord, she is at peace at last.”

April 18, 1886 – “The rain! It runs in rivers down the roof shingles and floods the yard, overflowing the duck pond. The wagon wheels are dragged down with  mud until they stop solid and refuse to move anymore. Daniel and I have tried in vain to move them with the aid of the mules, but no good. We will try tomorrow.

August 10, 1886 –  “A new life! Another boy! I cannot express my joy at this wonder of beauty and sweetness! Hannah is well and resting after her long ordeal and my precious new son will be named Elijah, for her father. A parting and a new beginning within the span of half a year. The miracle of life brought full circle.”

On August 10 2011 , baby Elijah would be celebrating his  125th birthday. Yet as I read the joyful announcement of his son’s birth, the span of time melts and I am drawn into the celebration of a new life.  Words have power and when written down, they endure.  Joshua Penn is long gone, but his diary whispers his story to those willing to take the time to listen.

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


Read Full Post »


Summer solstice 2011

The annual ritual is celebrated at the world heritage site of Stonehenge on England’s Salisbury plane.

Revelers surround the ancient Stonehenge monument prior to the summer solstice on Salisbury plain in southern England June 21, 2011. Stonehenge is a celebrated venue of festivities during the summer solstice – the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere – and it attracts thousands of revelers, spiritualists and tourists. Druids, a pagan religious order dating back to Celtic Britain, believe Stonehenge was a center of spiritualism more than 2,000 years ago.

KIERAN DOHERTY/REUTERS   

Read Full Post »


This week’s “peek” into the world of NOVEMBER IN SALEM is a look at old Salem Village.  Although it’s now called Danvers, the original site of the Salem Witch Trials has not been forgotten by many in this coastal Massachusetts city.  Modern day Danvers is a bustling place, and the old Danvers State Hospital (the basis for the asylum in my novel) has been partially demolished and remodeled into a luxury condominium complex

But it was not always so scenic. The original hospital once sat on over 500 acres. It was built in the late 19th century as a place for those with “mental afflictions” to spend their days in a beautiful and peaceful setting. But as sometimes happens, over the years the asylum became a repository for the poor and indigent. Family members who no longer could care for, or who wanted nothing more to do with that member of the family who was “odd,” placed them into the state-run facility to be forgotten. In fact, there were so many “forgotten” that the patient population ceased to exit. They lost their identity and became simply an assigned number. It is easier to dismiss a number. No need to show mercy to a statistic on a spreadsheet. And the population of Danvers Hospital remained thus even after death. Behind the great buildings, far back into the wooded grounds there lay oddly shaped markers with numbers on them. Hundreds of them. They are the only reminder of those whose lives held so little meaning they were buried in graves behind the hospital like so much refuse.  The asylum  closed in 1992 and for more than two decades the moody old buildings sat grinding their bones as vandals and urban explorers crawled through their veins and underground labyrinths.  It was to this that I was drawn. The grim old buildings, the spacious grounds, once so carefully tended–now overgrown with weeds. And the lonely graves sitting on the windswept hill. The Hill of Hathorne. The hill that once witnessed the hanging of more than 17 people accused of witchcraft in 1692.  The ghosts of all of those who linger –  watching and waiting.

Read Full Post »