Oney Judge, a Brave Girl Who Escaped the Washingtons

Relevant History welcomes Diana Rubino and Piper Huguley, authors of Oney: My Escape From Slavery.

Diana Rubino author photoDiana’s passion for history and travel has taken her to every locale of her stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. Her urban fantasy Fakin’ It won the Romantic Times Top Pick award. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. When not writing, she runs CostPro, Inc., an engineering business, with her husband Chris. For more information about her and her books, visit her web site, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Piper Huguley author photoPiper Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist and author of the “Home to Milford College” series, which follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1, The Preacher’s Promise, was named a Top Ten Historical Romance in Publishers Weekly and received Honorable Mention in the Writers Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books. Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and son. For more information about her and her books, visit her web site, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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When I began researching Oney: My Escape From Slavery, I read numerous books about slavery and the Washingtons in particular, because Oney was Martha Washington’s slave. I learned many facts about George and Martha Washington that are not taught in school. Because she was a mulatto, and light-skinned, Oney was allowed to work in the “big house” as Martha’s housemaid.

The Washingtons considered themselves generous with their slaves, but in our modern view, we would consider them extremely stingy. They rationed their slaves’ food and clothing. Martha took Oney on shopping trips, to the theater, and to visit her lady friends. She dressed Oney in the same finery as her granddaughters, though Oney, an expert seamstress, sewed it all. Oney had many more clothes than the one petticoat, two shifts, one jacket and pair of stockings a year the field women got. (The men were given one pair of homespun breeches a year.) Oney enjoyed sweets, while the field slaves got their weekly rations—a few pounds of pork, usually poor cured salt herrings, and a handful of Indian corn. George weighed each grain and morsel so nobody got more than their share.

The Washingtons were a bit stingy with calling slaves by their proper names—a handful of slaves were called Old Wench, Old Nanny, and Young Fellow. They gave Sambo the nickname Sammy. Oney’s given name was Ona, Latin for “unity” or “harmony.”

It was illegal for slaves to be literate, but Martha allowed Oney to learn to read and write. She learned from Hercules, the cook, who escaped just before Oney did, also never to return.

George boasted that he never separated families, as did many heartless slave owners, and never beat his slaves. But to punish some of them, he sold them to plantation owners in the West Indies, where labor was especially brutal under the scorching sun. It’s well known that he wore dentures, reported to be made from ivory, wood, and hippopotamus. In fact, some of the false teeth came from animals, and he bought some of them from his slaves. He had a French dentist extract them.

Martha called teenaged Oney her “favorite servant.” Oney and Martha both longed for freedom, but in very different ways. While Martha hated being confined to the president’s house, forced to entertain politicians and diplomats, Oney hated being property, forced to wait on her owner day and night.

As Martha hosted her tea parties and levees, she became close friends with several forward-thinking women, such as Abigail Adams and Judith Murray, feminists of the time. Their radical ideas rubbed off on Martha—education and job training for women to be self-supporting instead of depending on husbands. By the end of George’s term, she experienced a steep character arc. She even changed her attitude toward slavery.

When Oney escaped at age twenty, at the end of George’s final term, Martha was very resentful: “She was more like a child to me than a servant.” The Washingtons knew that she’d escaped to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and made several attempts to recapture her. But in a sudden act of lenience, Martha gave up on Oney and let her remain free. During her husband’s presidency, Martha complained, “I am more like a state prisoner,” so perhaps she put herself in Oney’s place and realized she deserved liberty, too.

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Oney My Escape From Slavery book coverA big thanks to Diana Rubino and Piper Huguley. They’ll give away an ebook copy (Kindle format only) of Oney: My Escape From Slavery to someone who contributes a comment on my blog this week. I’ll choose the winner from among those who comment by Friday at 6 p.m. ET. Delivery is available worldwide.

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The Great Hurricane of 1780

No question about it—the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been a tough one. Across the Caribbean, Antilles, and southern United States, major hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, with thousands left homeless and billions of dollars in property damage done.

Hurricane IrmaOne haunting tale of devastation comes from the island of Barbuda, which received a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Irma on 6 September. The island’s entire technological infrastructure was demolished by the combination of storm surge and sustained winds of 185 mph, rendering it uninhabitable. Occupants were evacuated to neighboring Antigua, also damaged in the storm, although not as heavily.

Many people wonder how so much death and destruction can occur when we’re able to see these hurricanes coming every time and prepare. What’s the historical perspective on hurricanes? What sort of impact did a Category 5 storm have before satellite imagery, before radar, before electricity, telegraph, or steam power?

By 1780 during the American Revolution, the war’s focus had shifted to the South—Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama—while the ferocity of fighting showed no sign of abating. However the death and destruction caused by warring humans in that conflict was trivial in comparison to what was generated by three major hurricanes that plowed through the Caribbean and the Antilles in October 1780. Yeah, the 1780 Atlantic hurricane season was a tough one, too.

Areas affected Great Hurricane of 1780In particular, the storm with the easternmost track of those three, later called “the Great Hurricane of 1780,” was a Category 5 monster with estimated wind gusts exceeding 200 mph and a storm surge at least twenty feet in height. It likely originated west of the Cape Verde Islands, as do many powerful Atlantic hurricanes. On 10 October, it demolished the island of Barbados—which, from witness accounts, received the storm’s eye wall but not the eye. Within a week, it had gone on to devastate the islands of St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Martinique, St. Eustatius, Puerto Rico, and San Domingo—all crucial ports on the colonial chessboard. (Bermuda received a glancing blow that wrecked ships.)

On every island in the hurricane’s path, thousands of people died. Trees were yanked out by their roots or stripped of leaves, branches, and bark. (Tornadoes spawned in and around the eye wall of hurricanes have the capacity to strip bark from trees.) Thick-walled stone buildings and forts were ripped from their foundations and swept out to sea. Wind and water carried cannons hundreds of feet. Dozens of ships from the British and French fleets were caught in the hurricane and damaged or sunk, with heavy casualties.

By the time the Great Hurricane of 1780 spun off into the Atlantic and dissipated, approximately 18 October, it had killed more than 22,000 people. Some historians believe that the death toll was closer to 30,000. This storm is the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. In one week during the American Revolution, it killed more people than warfare killed in a year.

That’s quite a display of power from Nature. In the 21st century, if we expect to lower the death toll and property damage from these storms even further, we’ll have to be a great deal more prepared than we already are.

Suggested reads:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hurricane_of_1780
http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/almanac/arc2010/alm10aug.htm
http://www.history.com/news/the-deadliest-atlantic-hurricane-235-years-ago

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Fascinated by WW2

Libby Hellman author photoRelevant History welcomes Libby Fischer Hellman, who left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago thirty-five years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Fifteen novels and twenty-five short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery and crime writing community and has even won a few, including the Anthony, Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Daphne. She has won the Ippy and the Readers Choice Award multiple times. For more information about her and her books, visit her web site, view her book trailer, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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My trilogy of WW2 stories, War, Spies, and Bobby Sox, is set during the war. It includes two novellas and a short story, all set in Chicago and the surrounding area. Because my knowledge of battles and military strategy is quite limited, all three stories examine the effects of wartime on the people who stayed home while their loved ones went abroad to fight. Here’s a look at the motivations that drove me to write the stories.

The contemporary appeal of WW2
People frequently ask, why World War Two? I’ve always been an avid reader of fiction set in the period, mostly because it’s one of those rare times where the line between good and evil was crystal clear and unambiguous. That doesn’t often happen, especially now.

WW2 was a time where some people turned out heroic and others were cowards, a time rich in potential conflict and ripe for character development. At first I was intimidated at the thought of writing about it, because so much had already been written about it, and so beautifully. What could I bring to the party? But when a friend encouraged me to give it a go, I decided to choose just a small part of the vast canvas. The three stories that fell out make up War, Spies and Bobby Sox.

I wasn’t certain today’s readers were still interested in the period. But I was wrong. It still fascinates people. In today’s landscape of widespread government surveillance, 24-hour news, drone strikes, post-truth, expert-hating, and Trump, a clear-cut hero is rare. Our leaders have been known to lie to us, and we’ve lost faith in our institutions. We’ve entered what I call “The Age of Gray.” So the idea that there was once something worth believing in, something that united us despite our circumstances, has a powerful appeal.

Research, research and more research
Research is my favorite part of the writing process. I could read and take notes all day. I had already taken a long, hard look at espionage techniques and strategy. I’d visited Bletchley Park in the UK and DC’s Spy Museum. And, while I knew nothing about physics or atoms, I knew I wanted to write about the early years of the Manhattan Project (before it was called that) at the University of Chicago. That meant even more studying just so I could claim a rudimentary understanding of the nuclear fission process. The result was The Incidental Spy, the first novella in the collection. By the way, I’d also visited and had lunch in Berlin’s Tiergarten (their version of Central Park). I recall thinking that if I ever wrote anything set in Berlin, I’d have to set a scene in the park. Guess where the first scene of An Incidental Spy is set?

I’d originally planned to write a companion piece about the women who worked at Bletchley, but someone in my exercise class (See, there are reasons to work out) mentioned an ex-prison camp German POWs less than two miles away.

German POWs? Here in Chicago?

German POW camp in TexasIt didn’t take long to discover there were almost half a million German POWs in the US, held in more or less every state between 1943-1945. They worked on farms and in factories. It wasn’t a secret, but the US Army, which managed them, didn’t advertise the fact either. Consequently, a lot of the details and stories about their time here have melted away. But I was hooked, so the companion novella about two German POWs and their “love” triangle with a farm girl was born.

Discovering 1930s Lawndale
The third story is about an actress in the Yiddish theater in Chicago’s Lawndale, a thriving Jewish community in the ‘30s, and how she came to spy on the German-American Bund. This story is set in 1938, before the war officially began, but war fever was high, and at the time Fritz Kuhn, who was eventually deported, was the head of the fascist Nazi-inspired Bund. Incidents of anti-Semitic bullying, fist fights, and worse were on the rise. It was a dangerous time.

My research for that originated with my son, who was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. Someone had given him an amazing book called “The Jews of Chicago.” Idly flipping through it, I found a 1930s photo of immigrant butchers in Lawndale, standing behind the meat counter in a deli. I’m still not sure why it stopped me. It could have been the lighting, their blood-spattered aprons, the expression in their eyes—a mixture of pride, hope, and fatigue. But I instantly knew I had to write about people like them. So I toured Lawndale, interviewed people who had lived there at the time, and “The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared” was the result.

A growing trend
I’m not alone in my fascination with those dark times. All The Light You Cannot See, Sarah’s Key, Nightingale, Jody Picoult’s The Storyteller, Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand, The Women in the Castle, and more, have all come out recently. In fact, there’s a new sub-genre of literature developing around WW2. I’m thrilled to be part of it.

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War, Spies, and Bobby Sox book coverA big thanks to Libby Hellman. She’ll give away an ebook copy (winner’s choice of format) of War, Spies, and Bobby Sox to two people who contribute a comment on my blog this week. I’ll choose the winners from among those who comment by Friday at 6 p.m. ET.

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The American Turtle, George Washington and Me

Robert Skead author photoRelevant History welcomes back the father-son team Robert J. Skead, with Robert A. Skead, authors of YA historical fiction. Their ancestor Lamberton Clark fought in the Revolutionary War as a member of the Connecticut Militia and the Continental Army, and their popular children’s books include the American Revolutionary War Adventure series: Patriots, Recoats & Spies and Submarines, Secrets, and a Daring Rescue (Zondervan). To learn more about their books, visit their web site and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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I never knew the first submarine invented for warfare was created during the American Revolution. It wasn’t in any of my history books when I was a child. Had I known about it, my interest in the subject, which was already high (I was in sixth grade in 1976 during the Bicentennial), would have peaked even higher.

I stumbled on the American Turtle submarine while searching for possible hooks for the second book in our American Revolutionary War Adventure series crafted with my father. Our goal with the books is to inspire kids and adults to do great things and educate our readers about some “little known” facts or events during this important period in our nation’s history. The first book in our series—Patriots, Redcoats & Spies—used the Culper Spy Ring as a hook. When I saw the image of the American Turtle on my computer screen, my eyes widened, and I had that “Aha!” moment. When I tell kids about it during my author visits, they too are fascinated. How can you not be—a submarine during the American Revolution! Who knew?!

Turtle submarine beneath shipMy PowerPoint presentation used for my author visits shows an image of the Turtle. One child said it looked like a giant acorn, which is true, but the American Acorn doesn’t sound so cool. Others described it as two giant clam shells stuck together, but the American Clam doesn’t work either. When the sub is in the water it looks like a turtle, hence the American Turtle, maybe not a very threatening name, except when you think of its inventor, David Bushnell, saying that his Turtle snaps on command.

The turtle that more than snaps
The American Turtle was invented to secretly submerge under a British warship and attach a bomb to its hull, and then escape while the fuse burned and the clocked ticked down until BOOM! David Bushnell, a Yale graduate, started inventing the Turtle in 1775 because he first invented underwater explosives (waterproof gunpowder), and he needed a way to deliver it to blow up a ship. Previously when men of war wanted to destroy a ship, they used fire bombs made with oil or other flammable materials, all delivered above the water level. The Governor of Connecticut, the state in which Bushnell lived, who was a Patriot and knew of the invention, recommended it to General George Washington, who, even though he was a little skeptical, invested funds for its continued creation.

The Turtle could hold one man as pilot and operated via pumps and hand-cranked propellers. Tar inside the grooves of the wooden structure made it waterproof. It could submerge for about 20-30 minutes. Glass built into its structure provided some light, but once submerged there would be darkness. That problem was solved, to my surprise, by fungus that would glow in the dark, and that was placed around instrumentation like gauges. Yes, the ingenuity of David Bushnell is so impressive! The fungus would not work in cold weather, so the Turtle didn’t operate in winter.

The Turtle was used several times in New York Harbor but failed to achieve the purpose for which it was created. Patriot Ezra Lee piloted its first mission. The target: The HMS Eagle, Howe’s flagship, stationed off Manhattan.

Lee’s personal account (found in the back of Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue) details how he couldn’t get the bomb to attach to the hull because he hit metal. He tried to connect with another part of the hull, but was not able to stay underneath (imagine all the currents). He had to give up. He reported that the British did spot him and rowed out to investigate. He then released a charge (a floating bomb), which they saw and avoided in retreat. When it exploded, it did so “with tremendous violence, throwing large columns of water and pieces of wood that composed it high into the air.”

The Turtle was exhausting to operate, as you might imagine. Lee tried again a month later, but he was spotted, so he abandoned the mission. The British sunk it later as it sat on its holding device in Fort Lee.

Not so secret, after all
Despite the Continental Army’s best attempts to keep the Turtle’s existence a secret, the British did learn about it, and they didn’t take its threat too seriously. It seems a Loyalist tavern keeper and postmaster had intercepted Bushnell’s mail and learned of it, and a coded message was then sent to British attention. The message contained some inaccuracies, stating it was ready to be used when in fact it was still being developed in the Connecticut River.

Washington says!
George Washington wrote to Thomas Jefferson that the Turtle was an “effort of genius.” He described David Bushnell as “a man of great mechanical powers—fertile in invention and a master in execution.”

Our adventure
Entering  the TurtleIn Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue, fifteen-year-old twins, Ambrose and John Clark, once again find themselves in the thick of things in service of the newly forming United States of America. Their new mission: help transport much-needed gunpowder to the patriots. When they end up in an even more dangerous situation—manning one of the first submarines—it seems the worst is behind them. Until they have to attempt a prison break to rescue one of their older brothers. Follow these brave young patriots as they continue to follow in their father’s footsteps and take even bigger leaps of faith.

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Submarines, Secrets, and a Daring Rescue book cover imageA big thanks to Robert Skead. He’ll give away autographed paperback copies of Submarines, Secrets, and a Daring Rescue to two people who contribute a comment on my blog this week. I’ll choose the winner from among those who comment by Friday at 6 p.m. ET. Delivery is available is the U.S. only.

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I’m Featured in Southern Writers Magazine

Suzanne Adair feature in Southern Writers Magazine Nov-Dec 2015Many thanks to Southern Writers Magazine, where I’m featured for the November-December 2015 issue. The article provides information on the historical background of the Michael Stoddard series, details development of characters like Nick Spry, and goes into the importance of my reenacting experience. Interested? Purchase a copy. Follow Southern Writers Magazine on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about your favorite Southern authors.

Tweet: Check out #mystery author @Suzanne_Adair featured in Nov-Dec 2015 Southern Writers Magazine. http://bit.ly/1PgNS7y @SouthrnWritrMag

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Mini Book Tour for Deadly Occupation

Deadly Occupation cover imageA wayward wife, a weapons trafficker, and a woman with “second sight”—it’s a puzzle that would have daunted any investigator. But Michael Stoddard wasn’t just any investigator.

Late January 1781, in coastal North Carolina, patriots flee before the approach of the Eighty-Second Regiment, leaving behind defenseless civilians to surrender the town of Wilmington to the Crown. The regiment’s commander assigns Lieutenant Michael Stoddard the tasks of tracking down a missing woman and probing into the suspicious activities of an unusual church. But as soon as Michael starts sniffing around, he discovers that some of those not-so-defenseless civilians are desperately hiding a history of evil.

Deadly Occupation, book #1 of my “Michael Stoddard American Revolution Mysteries” series, is on a mini book tour through next week. I’ll update the following list as permalinks go live:

Monday 12 October, at the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, Debra Brown posted my essay on Major James Henry Craig, a hero for North Carolina’s loyalists during 1781.

Sunday 18 October, at the Writers and Other Animals blog, Sheila Boneham interviews me. The interview includes a story about how an editor at a mid-sized publishing house didn’t believe my historical research and rejected Deadly Occupation.

Thursday 22 October, at the A Covent Garden Gilfurt’s Guide to Life blog, I discuss William Herschel and astronomy in the eighteenth century.

Sunday 25 October, at the Make Mine Mystery blog, I discuss why I strive to write historical mysteries that are as accurate as possible, rather than settling for “Hollywood history.”

Purchase Deadly Occupation here:
Amazon Kindle US
Amazon Kindle UK
Nook
Apple
Kobo
Paperback

Release Day for Deadly Occupation!

Deadly Occupation cover imageToday is release day for Deadly Occupation, book #1 of my “Michael Stoddard American Revolution Mysteries” series. Here’s the book’s description:

A wayward wife, a weapons trafficker, and a woman with “second sight”—it’s a puzzle that would have daunted any investigator. But Michael Stoddard wasn’t just any investigator.

Late January 1781, in coastal North Carolina, patriots flee before the approach of the Eighty-Second Regiment, leaving behind defenseless civilians to surrender the town of Wilmington to the Crown. The regiment’s commander assigns Lieutenant Michael Stoddard the tasks of tracking down a missing woman and probing into the suspicious activities of an unusual church. But as soon as Michael starts sniffing around, he discovers that some of those not-so-defenseless civilians are desperately hiding a history of evil.

Purchase Deadly Occupation here:
Amazon Kindle US
Amazon Kindle UK
Nook
Apple
Kobo
Paperback

Over at the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, Debbie Brown has posted my essay on Major James Henry Craig, a hero for North Carolina’s loyalists during 1781.

Reviews on blogs:
Aobibliophile
Amber Foxx
Caroline Clemmons
Warren Bull

A Book of Cookery by a Lady

Kimberly Walters author photoRelevant History welcomes Kimberly Walters, a living historian, author, and owner of K. Walters at the Sign of the Gray Horse, which offers historically-inspired jewelry. Kim is a proud horse mom first and foremost. She is a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, currently of the Fincastle Chapter of Louisville, Kentucky, as well as the Association of Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums. She also serves her country as a Federal employee. Sales from A Book of Cookery by a Lady help support her rescued Colonial Williamsburg horse. To learn more, check out her web site.

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Fire, frying pan, and potsWhen I started participating in living history events, a friend recommended that I look into hearth cooking to give me a purpose and something to do. I was skeptical, but I am not one to sit around and do nothing, no matter where I am. Wasn’t that hot and sweaty work? With five rescue horses, I’m not a lightweight, so I am used to working hard, but this was a different kind of work. Nevertheless, I was not prepared for what I was getting myself into! I did start my research with passion and immersed myself into the subject. What’s not better to like than food?

First and second course layoutAfter I studied period cookery books and actually cooked over a fire, I compiled appropriate recipes (also known as receipts in the time period). I was so enamored with how they did things in the kitchen and in dining, I couldn’t stop. My original concept was to find the most common things of the time period that would assist me with interpreting this part of history to the public without a bunch of notes tucked away in my pocket (or having to remember it). It was all really meant for me. That sounds kind of selfish but it is true! However, many of us that do research cherish the little bits of information that we find that are not well known and like to keep them close to us like the “Gollum” did of the “One Ring” of the The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. They are precious!

18th-century mealFive years later, I decided to publish my findings as A Book of Cookery by a Lady. I did so on what would have been my Mom’s birthday as a tribute to her. I was also enamored with an article written about Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, George Washington’s housekeeper during the war years, by Ms. Nancy K. Loane. Mrs. Thompson’s service is not really well known, yet she deserves to be remembered for running the great general’s household and feeding his staff. I have compiled a history on her as a memorial of her service. It is a highlight of the book.

A lot of chapters are interesting from a historical viewpoint—but also very practical for today. This includes items in season, cooking terms, measurements, receipts, how to carve meats, setting a table for one to thirty dishes, and even how to choose your produce at the market.

Kitchen cleanliness and safety in the 18th century
One of the other areas that I think is highly important and underrepresented is cleanliness and safety in the 18th-century kitchen. What was really considered, done, and written down? I’m always asked if I am going to use bleach, soap, and sanitizer when cooking. No. I use 18th-century methods, and they work. General observations for cooks and what they needed to do to ensure they did not poison or make anyone sick were also noted in my book. This focused on utensils and equipment.

The types of metals that the equipment was made from and how they were cleaned was very important. If a cook wanted to poison someone, they could do so by using a certain type of pot that had verdigris on it and serving it right up! Cooks did not know that some of the metals were deadly that they used, but they at least knew that if they were not cleaned correctly, they could be deadly.

I caution the reader not to use an original pot or utensil to cook for demonstration or at home. We may not be able to identify the type of metal it is made from today. By focusing on M. Radcliffe, I highlighted this very issue. Radcliffe talks about lead and its hazards, which is somewhat unique, but by this time well known. Here is an excerpt from her book:

Lead is a metal easily corroded, especially by the warm steams of acids, such as vinegar, cider, lemon-juice, Rhenish wine, &c. and this solution, or salt of lead, is a slow and insidious, though certain poison. The glazing of all our common brown pottery ware is either lead or lead ore; if black, it is a lead ore, with a small proportion of manganese, which is a species of iron ore; if yellow, the glazing is lead ore, and appears yellowish by having some pipe or white clay under it. The colour of the common pottery ware is red, as the vessels are made of the same clay as common bricks. These vessels are so porous, that they are penetrated by all salts, acid or alkaline, and are unfit for retaining any saline substances. They are improper, though too often used, for preserving sour fruits or pickles. The glazing of such vessels is corroded by the vinegar: for, upon evaporating the liquor, a quantity of the salt of lead will be found at the bottom. A sure way of judging whether the vinegar or other acid have dissolved part of the glazing, is by their becoming vapid, or losing their sharpness, and acquiring a sweetish taste by standing in them for some time; in which case the contents must be thrown away as pernicious.

Source:
Radcliffe, M., A Modern System of Domestic Cookery: or, The Housekeeper’s Guide, Arranged on the Most Economical Plan for Private Families. Originally published in 1823, digitized on Google Books Aug 15, 2007.

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A Book of Cookery by a Lady book cover imageA big thanks to Kimberly Walters. She’ll give away a copy of A Book of Cookery by a Lady to someone who contributes a comment on my blog this week. I’ll choose the winner from among those who comment by Friday at 6 p.m. ET. Delivery is available within the U.S.

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Education of Girls and Women in Times Past

How were girls and women educated in Tudor and Regency England and Revolutionary America? I join Relevant History author guests Anna Castle and Libi Astaire on the Historical Fiction eBooks blog for this “back-to-school” report.

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The Cost of Freedom

Geshe SangpoThe monk in the middle of this picture is Geshe Sangpo, a Tibetan-born Buddhist, taking his oath of American citizenship in Raleigh, North Carolina. When he was a boy, he fled the repression in his homeland and made the iconic but arduous crossing of the Himalayas by foot into Nepal so he could pursue his calling as a monk—not unlike the Dalai Lama’s own journey. Until May 2015, when he became an American citizen, Geshe Sangpo was essentially a man without a country. However from now on, every Fourth of July will have special meaning for him.

What would you do for liberty? Would you leave family members behind and walk hundreds of miles in rugged terrain with little food? That’s what Geshe Sangpo did. At some point today, while you’re enjoying your holiday feast, the company of friends and family, and a fireworks display, pause a moment to think about all the people worldwide who are living in repressive regimes. And give thanks for the freedom you have.

I’m selling and signing my books in person today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Joel Lane Museum House’s annual Fourth of July celebration. I’m also an online guest in the following spots. Stop by and say hello:

Richard Abbott’s blog

Writers Who Kill blog

Linda Hall’s blog

Happy Fourth of July!

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