Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Men in Kilts...Scotland the Brave

A brave piper in battle, WW I (public domain)
1918--In the murky trenches of World War I France, smoke chokes the air and the sound of whizzing bullets and screaming rockets fills your head. Exhausted, running low on water, bullets, and motivation, you sink into the depths of mud and despair. Then, above the stupefying noise of battle, the skirl of bagpipes pierces through the gloom and your spirit lifts. Inching up the side of the trench you lift a cautious eye over the top and through the swirling haze you see…men in kilts and know you have a chance to survive. The Kilties have arrived and brought their centuries-old stamina, courage, and heart. 

Scots charging with bayonets, World War I. (Mary Evans Picture Library)

The age-old military tradition of
Scotland stemmed, at least in part, from its generations of inter-clan fighting, Highland versus Lowland regional squabbles, and battles with its powerful southern neighbor: England. The Scots brought, not only a joy of fighting, but loyal and courageous natures that were welcome and necessary in times of war. In 1914, at the onset of World War I, the British army was already heavy with Scottish volunteers but the threat of Germany sent out Scottish
Piper and troops at Longueval, WW I (public domain)
regiments en masse. By 1918, half of Scotland’s male population between the ages of 18 and 45, had fought in the war. An average of 15% of Scottish regiments were killed in battle compared to 13% of the British. The Scots went full out. Their regiments became clan substitutes, adding an additional layer of loyalty and sacrifice. Many of these regiments wore the traditional kilt and earned the name, Kilties. The tartan kilts added to the soldiers’ sense of pride and helped them retain their Scottish heritage, setting them apart from the English troops. Led by pipers, encouraging the men to give their all behind the blood stirring call of the bagpipes, Kilties fought with legendary bravery. It is estimated that around 1000 pipers died in the war. Scotland the brave, indeed.
Nope, nothing beneath. Brave, indeed! World War I (public domain)

And what, one might ask, did those Kilties wear beneath those knee-length kilts? Why…nothing, of course. As a matter of fact, wearing any kind of underwear beneath the kilt was considered being out of uniform and was not allowed. The only time the soldiers were to wear something modest beneath the kilt was in competitive sport such as the Highland Games and in traditional dance. (And, I believe that is the case to this day.) 

Kilties and their dog at rest, World War I (Getty Images)

 Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Passionate Words...timeless expression

The Kiss, 1907, by Gustav Klimt
In researching love poems of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I ran across a passionate volume pulsing with the ardor of Belgian poet, Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916.) F. S. Flint wrote an English translation of his work which was published in 1916 by Constable and Company. So many of Verhaeren's poetic lines are suitable as the basis for Valentine cards, I can imagine many were springboards for World War I romantics on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps you will find a line or two with which to express your twenty-first century thoughts of love this Valentine's Day. Love, after all, is timeless.

In the spirit of true love, both freshly discovered and long lived, I present here a few of Verhaeren's poems as translated by Flint. To see the entire volume, visit: 

The Love Poems of 
Emile Verhaeren
The Love Letter by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta (1841-1920)
May your bright eyes, your eyes of summer, be for me here on earth the images of goodness.
Let our enkindled souls clothe with gold each flame of our thoughts.
May my two hands against your heart be for you here on earth the emblems of gentleness.
Let us live like two frenzied prayers straining at all hours one towards the other.
May our kisses on our enraptured mouths be for us here on earth the symbols of our life.

And what matters the wherefores and the reasons, and who we were and who we are; all doubt is dead in this garden of blossoms that opens up in us and about us, so far from men.
I do not argue, and do not desire to know, and nothing will disturb what is but mystery and gentle raptures and involuntary fervour and tranquil soaring towards our heaven of hope.
I feel your brightness before understanding that you are so; and it is my gladness, infinitely, to perceive myself thus gently loving without asking why your voice calls me.
Let us be simple and good—and day be minister of light and affection to us; and let them say that life is not made for a love like ours.

Title Unknown, Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin,1860-1943
As in the simple ages, I have given you my heart, like a wide-spreading flower that opens pure and lovely in the dewy hours; within its moist petals my lips have rested.
The flower, I gathered it with fingers of flame; say nothing to it: for all words are perilous; it is through the eyes that soul listens to soul.
The flower that is my heart and my avowal confides in all simplicity to your lips that it is loyal, bright and good, and that we trust in virgin love as a child trusts in God.
Leave wit to flower on the hills in freakish paths of vanity; and let us give a simple welcome to the sincerity that holds our two true hearts within its crystalline hands;
Nothing is so lovely as a confession of souls one to the other, in the evening, when the flame of the uncountable diamonds burns like so many silent eyes the silence of the firmaments.

At the time when I had long suffered and the hours were snares to me, you appeared to me as the welcoming light that shines from the windows on to the snow in the depths of winter evenings.
The brightness of your hospitable soul touched my heart lightly without wounding it, like a hand of tranquil warmth.
Then came a holy trust, and an open heart, and affection, and the union at last of our two loving hands, one evening of clear understanding and of gentle calm.
Illustration for Saturday Evening Post 
by Joseph Christian Leyendecker, 1874-1951 
Since then, although summer has followed frost both in ourselves and beneath the sky whose eternal flames deck with gold all the paths of our thoughts;
And although our love has become an immense flower, springing from proud desire, that ever begins anew within our heart, to grow yet better;
I still look back on the small light that was sweet to me, the first.
Because you came one day so simply along the paths of devotion and took my life into your beneficent hands, I love and praise and thank you with my senses, with my heart and brain, with my whole being stretched like a torch towards your unquenchable goodness and charity.
Since that day, I know what love, pure and bright as the dew, falls from you on to my calmed soul. I feel myself yours by all the burning ties that attach flames to their fire; all my body, all my soul mounts towards you with tireless ardour; I never cease to brood on your deep earnestness and your charm, so much so that suddenly I feel my eyes fill deliciously with unforgettable tears.
And I make towards you, happy and calm, with the proud desire to be for ever the most steadfast of joys to you. All our affection flames about us; every echo of my being responds to your call; the hour is unique and sanctified with ecstasy, and my fingers are tremulous at the mere touching of your forehead, as though they brushed the wing of your thoughts.

Title Unknown, 1910 per Wikimedia Commons
In the house chosen by our love as its birth-place, with its cherished furniture peopling the shadows and the nooks, where we live together, having as sole witnesses the roses that watch us through the windows,
Certain days stand out of so great a consolation, certain hours of summer so lovely in their silence, that sometimes I stop time that swings with its golden disc in the oaken clock.
Then the hour, the day, the night is so much ours that the happiness that hovers lightly over us hears nothing but the throbbing of your heart and mine that are brought close together by a sudden embrace.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! (And remember...all you need is love.)


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For...Snow Cream!

"Snow Mist," original photo by the author, 
copyright,  Kathryn Louise Wood
(*Author's note: I prepared this post several days before the Northeast got blasted with the blizzard. We even got a little dusting here in Edenton; more like powdered sugar than snow. See my photo at the bottom of the post of our little winged porch pig. The photo to the left at the top, is one I took along the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia, several years ago.)

I think one of the most depressing weather conditions is a 38 degree rainfall. It just makes you cold to the bone and isn't even pretty. I realize I am speaking as an eastern North Carolinian, far away from the lands of winter-long frozen tundra, but I do wish we could have at least one lovely snowfall this winter. Just one. Maybe two, but any more would just be over zealous and take some of the magic away. Growing up in eastern North Carolina and Virginia, a snow day was always an exciting event and we celebrated by making Snow Cream. I used to think Snow Cream was a confection limited to the South but my research has found its consumption all over the country.

Looking for the oldest written recipe I could find for the fluffy fabulousness, I found the following from Elizabeth Ellicott Lea of Ellicott City, Maryland. Her cookbook, Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers was published in Baltimore in 1841 with later editions in 1846 and 1851. You can see the original text and all her other recipes at:

-Snow Cream (19th century style)-
“Take the richest cream you can procure, season it with a few drops of essence of lemon or syrup of lemon peel, and powdered white sugar, and if you choose a spoonful of preserve syrup, and just as you send it to table, sitr in light newly fallen snow till it is nearly stiff as ice cream.”

"Snow Cream!!!!!!" by Chris Breeze, via Wikimedia Commons
I grew up with Snow Cream made with fresh, raw eggs whipped into the mixture but concerns about salmonella poisoning from consuming uncooked eggs has put a damper on that childhood memory. is a modern (egg-free) recipe which is still delicious and appropriately celebratory. (As with ice cream flavors, variations are endless.)

-Snow Cream-
1 gallon of clean, fresh, fluffy snow (if you can, set out a bowl to catch it as it falls)
1 cup sugar (powdered makes for less graininess but some of us enjoy granulated's crunchiness)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups milk (or cream or half&half or canned evaporated milk, etc)
Stir sugar and vanilla into snow to taste, then stir in enough milk for desired consistency.
Serve immediately! Quick, before it melts!

"When Pigs Fly" Edenton Snowfall Photo by the author, Kathryn Wood

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Beautiful Brides...Lantern Swinging!...Read all about it!

Bride and Groom 1910, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
While doing research by investigating turn-of-the-20th century newspaper articles online, I ran across several examples bursting with charm we seldom see in today's news media. The ones I bring to you this week, are from the southeastern coastal communities of North Carolina, Wilmington and New Bern. Each is so picturesque, we are given a real feeling for the life and times of the townspeople.

(Here comes the bride...)
July 26, 1907-- The Daily Journal (New Bern, North Carolina)
Maysville, July 25- Under the silvery waves of a full moon, surrounded by a vast crowd of men, women and children, the friends of the bride and groom, Miss Nannie Dixon and Mr. W. C. Waters were united in holy wedlock. Rev. D. C. Geddie performing the solemn rite. The bride, beautifully gowned in white silk and orange blossoms, was the admiration of the large concourse of people present and of the entire community in which she lives.
Broadway After Storm, 1905, Wikimedia  Commons Public Domain

(It's snowing! Let's all party!)
Feb 24, 1901--The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, North Carolina)
Local Dots.- The amount of drunkenness on the streets yesterday and last night during the snow storm was the occasion of frequent remark. Many people took the day as a holiday and judging from appearances they all had a good time. 

(Lantern swinging! New Bern's Got Talent!)
March 11, 1893-- The Daily Journal (New Bern, North Carolina)
Y.M.C.A. Entertainment--
Brakeman's Lantern, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
...A novel feature, never attempted before, was introduced here, lantern swinging by Mr. C. J.McSorely. The exhibition was given in the dark with red lanterns. It was gracefully executed and remarkably beautiful. Mr. McSorely was called back and the repetition was viewed with as much delight as the first presentation. He was accompanied by Miss Agnes Foy on the piano...The program closed with a few specialties in athletic performances accompanied by Mr. C.L. Gaskill on the piano...The young men took part with much earnestness and zeal, and appeared to fine advantage. The audience appeared delighted at their cleverness and cheered them heartily.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In the Twelfth Month of Blogging...highlights from the past year

"Portrait of a Gentleman" by Nicolas de Largillierre.(early 1700's)
Looking back over my blog posts of 2014, I have pulled out some of my favorite discoveriesone for each monthand listed them below for your edification and enjoyment. Maybe one of these will help you win on Jeopardy someday!

Jan 8- Regarding 18th century wigs: “The powder was made of starch and was such a messy affair some wealthier homes had rooms set aside for the process (‘Powder Rooms!’)
Feb 19- Regarding 18th century love and marriage: “One of the more prevalent means was ‘handfasting’ or ‘spousal’ in which the young couple, with or without witnesses, simply held hands and promised love and loyalty, declaring themselves married. These personal ceremonies were held anywhere the couple chose and in Colonial America were often performed over an anvil in a blacksmith’s shop, symbolizing the strength of their bond.”
Portrait of an Unknown Lady of South Carolina, 1708-1709,
 by Henrietta Johnston
March 12- Regarding John Lawson’s early 18th century description of the ladies of Carolina: “ ‘As for those Women, that do not expose themselves to the Weather, they are often very fair, and generally as well featurd, as you will see any where, and have very brisk charming Eyes, which sets them off to Advantage.’ ”
April 23-  Regarding the real life “Robinson Crusoe” for which Daniel Defoe based his famous character: “As a landing boat rowed ashore, a wild-looking man clothed in goatskin, waving a white flag and yelling in excited English, came running to the shoreline. This solitary man, Alexander Selkirk, had been living alone for the previous four and half years with only the company of wild goats, rats and feral cats, the legacy left by early Spanish colonization attempts.” 
May 7- Regarding the curse Rev.George Whitefield laid upon Bath, North Carolina: “At one point, Whitefield gave up and upon leaving the town for the last time proclaimed: ‘There’s a place in the Bible that says if a place won’t listen to The Word, you shake the dust of the town off your feet, and the town
Bath, NC (KLWood, 2014)
shall be cursed. I have put a curse on this town for a hundred years.’ ”
June 4- Regarding the female pirate, Anne Bonny: “On November 18, 1720, the day Calico Jack was to be hanged from the gallows, it is reported Anne Bonny was allowed to see him one last time. Her words? ‘I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man you need not have hanged like a dog.’ "
July 2- Regarding 18th century sea bathing machines: “The machine was basically a dressing room on wheels that was pulled into the ocean by a horse. Although there were variations, most followed this basic routine: individuals entered the beached machines, fully dressed, by climbing a set of steps and disappearing into the privacy of the wooden box.” 
Captain Lord George Graham in his Cabin, 1745, by William Hogarth
Aug 27- Regarding common expressions with nautical origins: “Pipe down - A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew
Sept 24- Regarding the secret code of flowers:
Camellia: My destiny is in your hands 
Carnation (Pink): I’ll never forget you
Carnation (Yellow): Disdain
Dahlia (Red): Dignity and elegance
Daisy: Innocence”
Edenton's 1767 Courthouse (photo by K.L. Wood)
Oct 22- Regarding Edenton townspeople’s grisly view of justice: “Disappointed at not being able to bring the man to justice, they took his corpse to the old Courthouse, sat it up for ‘trial,’ accused and sentenced him to ‘death,’ and then carried his body back to Beverly Hall where they strung him up in a tall tree in the backyard.”
Nov 5- Regarding 18th century chocolate: “Although drinking chocolate had been the
delicious norm for centuries, did you know that, other than chocolate used to flavor baked goods, there was no form of solid “eating” chocolate prior to 1830?”
Dec 3-Regarding the years when England cancelled Christmas: “Anything smacking of
revelry was denounced and soldiers were even ordered to roam the streets sniffing out any illegal substances, ie: mincemeat pies and Christmas puddings.”
The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas,1686, Josiah King

It’s been a fascinating year, filled with wonderful discoveries from our past. I hope your New Year is filled with joy and all that makes for a fulfilling life for you and yours.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back next year now! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How Old IS That Fruitcake?...a Christmas confection timeline

A Slice of American Fruitcake, photo by Stu Spivack via Wikimedia Commons
Pecan Pie!, photo by Steve Snodgrass via Wikimedia commons
There are legendary fruitcakes said to be passed down through several generations, doubtless hard and dense enough to second as doorstops during the "off season." But when did this Christmas treat that so many love to hate, much in the same spirit as tacky Christmas sweaters, first appear? Or candy canes, or eggnog, or pecan pie, for that matter? It often surprises me how recent some foods are and how ancient are others. In a recent post I mentioned that chocolate candy did not come on the scene until 1830. Imagine! Before then, chocolate was only ingested as a beverage or as a cake ingredient. Thanks to the wonderful website,, and to, I bring you a list of Christmas foods and their dates of origin. (Of course, due to the nature of the beast, the dates are sometimes not on the nose, but are certainly in the ballpark. How's that for throwing three idioms into one short sentence!) See the special eggnog recipe at the end.

Bobs Canes, photo by BitterSweetHorror
via Wikimedia Commons
Stuffing: 5th century
Gingerbread: 11th century
Mincemeat Pie: 12th century
Fruitcake: 13th century
Plum Pudding: early 15th century
Syllabub: 16th century
Turkey: 16th century
Eggnog:* 17th century
Sugarplums: 17th century
Buche de Noel: 19th century        
Peanut Brittle: 19th century
Pecan Pie: Late 19th century
Red and White Striped Candy Cane: Turn of 20th century
Cheese Ball: turn of 20th century
Jellied Cranberry Sauce (what my sister-in-law calls "Old Fashioned Round"): 1941
Rum Balls: 1940s
"Classic" Green Bean Casserole: 1955
Bishop's Bread (with chocolate chips:) 1959
Spiral-cut Honey Baked Ham: Patented 1952, TradeMark 1957, Available in 1960s
Red Velvet Cake: 1960 (not to be confused with Red Devil Cake from 1930)

We just had our annual Christmas Candlelight Tour Weekend, here in Edenton, NC, where the doors of festive homes are thrown open to admiring visitors. One of the really nice aspects of the event are the free venues housed in 18th century houses where confections and 18th century beverages are happily passed out to us all. One of the most richly luscious is the traditional *eggnog available at the Barker House. In the spirit of the season (and, yes, this eggnog does have spirits aplenty,) I am posting the following Colonial American Eggnog recipe from George Washington himself! Feel free to make your own adjustments to the alcohol contents. ;>}

*George Washington's Eggnog
Makes about 3 quarts
Egg Nog, from     
1 pint brandy
1/2 pint rye whiskey
1/2 pint Jamaican rum
1/4 pint Sherry wine
12 eggs, separated
12 tablespoons sugar
1 quart whole milk
1 quart heavy cream

2-Separate yolks and whites of the eggs*.
3-Add sugar to beaten yolks and mix well.
4-Add combined liquors to the yolk and sugar mixture, drop by drop at first, slowly beating it all the while.
5-Add cream and milk and mix thoroughly.
6-Beat the egg whites* until stiff and gently fold these into cream liquor and yolk mixture.
7-Let this sit in the refrigerator for several days.
Enjoy (responsibly!)

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! And have the Merriest of Christmases!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Year Christmas was 17th century Puritans took the Merry out of Christmas

Twelfth Night, 1668, Jan Steen
London, December 25, 1640: The first of the Twelve Days of Christmas finds all shops closed, churches open for special services, holly and rosemary adorning homes and places of worship, carols being sung, wassailers rewarded with specially brewed Christmas ale and punch, people dancing in the streets, card games and other sports played, actors performing on stage, mincemeat pies baking, plum puddings bubbling, and Father Christmas overseeing it all. Christmas is in the house!

The Examination and Tryal of Father Christmas,1686, Josiah King
London, December 25, 1645: All shops open for business as usual, churches closed, not a holly berry or rosemary sprig in sight, no carols sung, no special food or beverages (mincemeat pies confiscated and bakers of such, duly fined,) no games, no dancing, no plays, no playing and Father Christmas has been exiled. Christmas has left the building!  

Oliver Cromwell, 1656, Samuel Cooper
The difference? The reign of a Puritan-based Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell. Anything smacking of revelry was denounced and soldiers were even ordered to roam the streets sniffing out any illegal substances, ie: mincemeat pies and Christmas puddings. As with many acts of extremism there was some basis for this reaction against all things Christmasy. Seems some segments of the populace had turned the Twelve Days of Christmas into one gigantic, raucous, (often bawdy) party with little left of the religious other than the church services. Thus the Puritans threw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak, and left England bereft of even the sweetest and most pious celebrations. In addition to ridding the country of traditions handed down since pagan days and wrapped up in festive Christmas ribbons (mistletoe, decking the halls with boughs of holly, Yule logs, etc) the anti-Catholic Puritans were intent on taking the "mass" out of Christmas, as well. Thus Christ's Mass (Christmas) became known as Christ-tide and was set aside only as a time of fasting and private prayer--if observed at all.

Christmas Pudding, London,
James Petts per Wikimedia Commons 
Christmas was not so easily legislated or threatened out of the hearts of the people, however, and many carried on quiet, clandestine celebrations during the long, dark days of mid-winter. When Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, both Charles II and Father Christmas were welcomed back with open arms. By December of 1660, Christmas celebrations were back in full swing although some of the earlier more rowdy aspects were toned down and a more family-friendly holiday warmed the hearths and hearts of England.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

When Uniforms Weren't So Uniform...18th century military dressed to impress

German Soldier, 1718 by Johann Christof Merk
Nowadays, everyday and combat duty military uniforms are based on comfort, utility, and the ability to blend into the landscape. Not so for our 18th century ancestors. In an era when most battles were fought hand-to-hand on open fields of combat, uniforms served to distinguish friend from foe. Generals sat on horseback, spying through their telescopes and depended upon easily recognizable uniforms to check on the progress of their troops. The uniforms were often constructed of heavy wool, hot and itchy in the heat of battle, miserable in the heat and humidity of summer but made for durability as well as identification. In a time when keeping up appearances extended to the battlefield, the richer looking the army, the more successful and intimidating they appeared.

Today I bring you a gallery of contrasting views: contemporary vs 18th century uniforms. 
German Soldier per Wikimedia Commons

Polish Soldiers 1697-1795 by Jan Matejko
Polish Soldiers per Wikimedia Commons

British Soldiers, mid 18th century by David Morier
British Soldier (
American Soldiers, 1781, per Wikimedia

American Soldiers per Wikimedia

French Soldiers, 17th to 19th Century by Charles Vernier

French Soldiers by Isafmdeia per Wikimedia

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What to Drink After Colonial Tea Parties?...revolutionary thirst quenchers

The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor, 1846 by Nathaniel Currier
Here, in Edenton, North Carolina, the month of October, 2014, was set aside to commemorate one of the first organized political actions by a group of American women: the Edenton Tea Party. On October 25, 1774 (ten months after the famous Boston Tea Party in which male colonists disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and dumped shiploads of tea into Boston Harbor,) Edenton's Penelope Barker organized a tea party of 51 ladies who signed a petition addressed to King George, pledging a boycott against the purchasing
Penelope Barker, 18th cent, artist unknown
of tea and cloth imported from England. The protests were spurred by The Tea Act in which England imposed a tax on tea bought by the colonists. Although the tax placed upon the tea was actually lower than it had been in the past, it was the notion of “taxation without representation” that fueled the patriotic protests.

Penelope Barker is a fascinating subject and I will dedicate a post to her at some time in the near future. But for now, I’ve been pondering what took the place of tea in America once its consumption was deemed unpatriotic.
In 1773, Susannah Clarke penned the following:

We’ll lay hold of card and wheel,
And join our hands to turn and reel;
We’ll turn the tea all in the sea,
And all to keep our liberty.
We’ll put on our homespun garbs
And make tea of our garden herbs,
When we are dry, we’ll drink small beer
And freedom shall our spirits cheer.

Schokolode by By Itisdacurlz via Wikimedia Commons
As alluded to in Mrs. Clarke’s poem, herbal teas brewed from native American roots and plants, and small beer (the Colonial version, made with very low alcohol content) were two beverages of choice. In addition, coffee gained great popularity (to this day, still ranking higher than tea consumption on the western side of “The Pond,”) and my personal favorite, chocolate, maintained its place at Colonial American tables. (***Interesting Chocolate Factoid!*** Although drinking chocolate had been the delicious norm for centuries, did you know that, other than chocolate used to flavor baked goods, there was no form of solid “eating” chocolate prior to 1830? A big “Thank You” to England’s Joseph Fry and Sons for all the leftover chocolate Halloween candy taking space in my cupboard! Of course, it won’t be there for long.)

Mint Tea By Onderwijsgek via Wikimedia Commons
The non-tea “teas” brewed in the Revolutionary era, were often made by steeping the leaves of strawberry, rhubarb, blackberry, or goldenrod plants. One favorite was called “Balsamic Hyperion” brewed from dried raspberry leaves and another called “Liberty Tea,” was made from the leaves of a plant aptly named loosestrife.

Well, time for a cup of tea, I think…or coffee…or maybe small beer…or hot chocolate. Yeah, definitely chocolate! (Just for research purposes, of course…) 

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

300 Years of Haunted Edenton...taking the Ghost Walk in my hometown

Edenton's 1767 Courthouse (photo by K.L. Wood)
When you live in a town which is over 300 years old with many homes continuously occupied since the 1700s you have to expect there to be a few hauntings…or at least stories of haunted houses and spectral visitations. This year, my family and I went on the town's annual October evening walking tour: the Edenton Ghost Walk.

Young women from John A. Holmes High School carried candlelit lanterns to help illumine our path along the uneven, often brick, walkways in the dark of night. But what a perfectly beautiful night it was! Cool and crisp with bright stars above us, quiet enough to hear the water lapping gently against the town docks.  Our tour guide led us by several homes and buildings and shared their stories...historical and suitably creepy. Come close, dear Reader, and I will tell you some tales…but keep in mind these are just a few of what we heard and these are limited to the area in which we walked. Edenton is full of many more homes filled to the brim with lore and legend.

Standing outside the 1767 Edenton Courthouse, our guide told us of an eighteenth century man who committed several crimes and was tried and convicted in the historic building. Once sentenced to a lengthy imprisonment, he bolted to the front door and tried to escape. The exit was locked from the outside and he beat futilely on the heavy wooden door hoping someone would unlock it and let him out. The man ultimately died in prison. People walking by the old courthouse, late at night, sometimes hear the sound of banging as they pass the door.

Beverly Hall is a beautiful and stately mansion, built as part bank, part residence in 1810. It
Beverly Hall, photographed in 1936 by Frances Johnston
is home to a particularly grisly tale. It seems there was a clerk working in the bank who was discovered to have been swindling the townspeople out of their hard earned money. One night, the clerk saw a crowd of disgruntled people coming toward the Hall carrying torches and all manner of weaponry. He decided to shoot himself before the angry mob reached him. Disappointed at not being able to bring the man to justice, they took his corpse to the old Courthouse, sat it up for “trial,” accused and sentenced him to “death,” and then carried his body back to Beverly Hall where they strung him up in a tall tree in the backyard. There they left him for crows to pick his corpse apart. Today there appears to be an unusual amount of crows that hang out on Beverly Halls lovely grounds…looking for more, perhaps?

Built in 1850, elegant Pembroke Hall is popular today as a gorgeous wedding venue. Every weekend from spring through fall, festive white tents pop up on its generous grounds for happy couples to exchange their vows and celebrate their union. One hopes the brides do not encounter the spirit of a man who has been seen there, wearing a Confederate uniform and bearing horrific facial wounds from a Civil War battle in which he lost his life.
Pembroke Hall, Edenton (photo from 

Speaking of bridesanother lovely home is the source of a sad tale of a happy eighteenth century bride who decided it would be fun to play hide and seek with members of the wedding party on the day of the nuptials. During the game, the bride went missing and although the guests searched thoroughly and called her name repeatedly, she was never found. With a number of pirates wandering the streets, it was feared and assumed she must have been kidnapped by some dastardly piratical crew. Generations later, after the house had changed ownership a few times, a woman went into the attic and witnessed a filmy form sweep past her and hid for a far corner. The woman peered into the far recesses of the attic and found a beautiful wooden chest she thought might make a lovely coffee table. When the chest was brought down and opened, the body of long dead woman in a wedding dress lay within. Apparently the unfortunate bride hid in the chest during the game and it locked on her, sealing her in and sealing her fate.

Another story involves the restoration of the Roanoke River Lighthouse, in active
Roanoke River Lighthouse, Edenton (photo by K. L .Wood) 
commission from 1886 to 1941. This is the original lighthouse that marked the entrance of the Roanoke River into Albemarle Sound. In recent years it was moved from its working site to Edenton’s harbor where it has undergone extensive renovation and is now open for tours. Part of the restoration involved removing some sad, old carpeting. One of the workmen was bending over and pulling up a section of the carpet when he felt a hard and distinct kick on his backside. Looking around he expected to see he had bumped into something but there was nothing anywhere near him that could have caused the sensation. Evidently, one of the old keepers was indignant at the man’s removal of his beloved carpet!

As I have stated before, living in a 300 year old town is a wonderment and an inspiration. I hope you can come and visit our town someday…perhaps you will experience your own spirited encounter!

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now! (And beware of things that go bump in the night!)