Thursday, February 23, 2017

February--Things Happen in the Shortest Month

The month of February may be short, but many significant events have happened in it, at the dead of winter in the United States. Here are twenty-six, just for thought.

February 1, 2003 - Sixteen minutes before it was scheduled to land, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart in flight over west Texas, killing all seven crew members.

February 2, 1848 - The war between the U.S. and Mexico ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In exchange for $15 million, the U.S. acquired the areas encompassing parts or all of present day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas.

February 3, 1870 - The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude—and the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes.

February 4, 1861 - Apache Chief Cochise was arrested in Arizona by the U.S.Army for raiding a ranch. Cochise then escaped and declared war, beginning the period known as the Apache Wars, which lasted 25 years.

February 6, 1952 - King George VI of England died. Upon his death, his daughter Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Her actual coronation took place on June 2, 1953.

February 8, 1587 - Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was beheaded at Fotheringhay, England, after 19 years as a prisoner of Queen Elizabeth I. She became entangled in the complex political events surrounding the Protestant Reformation in England and was charged with complicity in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth.

February 9, 1943 - During World War II in the Pacific, U.S. troops captured Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands after six months of battle, with 9,000 Japanese and 2,000 Americans killed.

February 10, 1763 - Britain, Spain and France signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War in North America).

February 10, 1840, Britain's Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

February 12, 1809 - Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) the 16th U.S. President was born in Hardin County, Kentucky.

February 13, 1635 - Boston Latin School, the first tax-payer supported (public) school in America was established in Boston, Massachusetts.

Matthew Brady
February 14, 1849 - Photographer Mathew Brady took the first photograph of a U.S. President in office, James Polk.

February 14, 1929 - The St. Valentine's Day massacre occurred in Chicago as seven members of the Bugs Moran gang were gunned down by five of Al Capone's mobsters posing as police.

February 15, 1898 - In Havana, the U.S. Battleship Maine was blown up while at anchor and quickly sank with 260 crew members lost. The incident inflamed public opinion in the U.S., resulting in a declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898.

February 15, 1933 - An assassination attempt on newly elected U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt occurred in Miami, Florida. A spectator deflected the gunman's aim. As a result, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was shot and killed instead. The gunman, an Italian immigrant, was captured and later sentenced to death.

Feb. 15, 1642 - Astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. He was the first astronomer to use a telescope and advanced the theory that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system.

February 19, 1942 - Internment of Japanese Americans began after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order requiring those living on the Pacific coast to report for relocation. Over 110,000 persons therefore shut down their businesses, sold off their property, quit school and moved inland to the relocation centers.

February 20, 1962 - Astronaut John Glenn became the first American launched into orbit. Traveling aboard the "Friendship 7" spacecraft, Glenn reached an altitude of 162 miles (260 kilometers) and completed three orbits in a flight lasting just under five hours.

George Washington
February 22, 1956 - In Montgomery, Alabama, 80 participants in the three-month-old bus boycott voluntarily gave themselves up for arrest after an ultimatum from white city leaders. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were among those arrested. Later in 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated desegregation of the buses.

February 22, 1732 - George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served as commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and became the first U.S. President.

February 23, 1942 - During World War II, the first attack on the U.S. mainland occurred as a Japanese submarine shelled an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing minor damage.

February 24, 1582 - Pope Gregory XIII corrected mistakes on the Julian calendar by dropping 10 days and directing that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15th. The Gregorian, or New Style calendar, was then adopted by Catholic countries, followed gradually by Protestant and other nations.

February 24, 1867 - The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The vote followed bitter opposition by the Radical Republicans in Congress toward Johnson's reconstruction policies in the South. However, the effort to remove him failed in the Senate by just one vote.

February 26, 1848 - The Communist Manifesto pamphlet was published by two young socialists, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It advocated the abolition of all private property and a system in which workers own all means of production, land, factories and machinery.

February 27, 1950 - The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting the president to two terms or a maximum of ten years in office.
Lithograph depicting the explosion on the USS Princeton

February 28, 1844 - During a demonstration of naval fire power, one of the guns aboard the USS Princeton exploded, killing several top U.S. government officials on the steamer ship, and narrowly missed killing President John Tyler.

Also in February, 2017, I launched my new series, Maine Justice. To enter for a copy of the first book, The Priority Unit, leave a comment and your contact info.

Susan Page Davis is the author of more than seventy published novels. She’s always interested in the unusual happenings of the past. Her newest books include The Priority Unit, Echo Canyon, The Saboteur, and My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and also a winner of the Carol Award and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards and the More Than Magic Contest. Visit her website at: .

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Lifesaving Women of Saugerties *plus Giveaway!

Saugerties Lighthouse, NY, photo by Sonja K. Keohane
“Help! Help us!” The frantic voices of sailors were lost in the storm as they cried out after their ship overturned. Waves crashed over them as they clung to the sides of their vessel. Would someone at the lighthouse see them and come to their rescue?

Then they saw the boat, its two occupants rowing vigorously as they struggled against the wind and turbulent water toward the desperate men. Each time the boat crested a swell, it disappeared behind the next one as the sailors watched anxiously, wondering if that boat been lost, too.

But hope returned when the boat emerged from the waves, still headed their way. As the boat neared, one of their rescuers leaned across its bow and reached out to grab the closest sailor and pull him onboard as the other rescuer kept the boat under control. One by one, the men were rescued, thanks to the strength and determination of the people in the lighthouse boat.

Not until they were safe at the lighthouse did the men realize their rescuers were two young women, Katie and Ellen Crowley, daughters of Saugerties Lighthouse Keeper Dennis Crowley.

The following account of the incident, printed in an 1878 newspaper, was told by a river captain who witnessed the scene.
Saugerties Lighthouse, NY, USCG photo
Saugerties Lighthouse, NY, USCG photo
The waves ran so high, the gale blew so madly, the thunder roared so incessantly, and the lightning flashed in such blinding sheets, that it seemed impossible for the women ever to reach the men, to keep headway, or to keep from being swamped. But they never missed the opportunity of a rising billow to give them leverage and they managed by steady pulling to get ahead until they reached the men in the water. The great danger was that the tossing boat would strike the sailors and end their career, but one of the girls leaned forward over the bow of the boat, braced her feet beneath the seat on which she had been sitting, stiffened herself out for a great effort, and as her sister kept the bow of the craft crosswise to the waves, caught one of the men beneath the arms as he struck out on top of a billow, lifted and threw him by main force into the middle of the boat, and then prepared for the other man.

Katie, the older sister, was known for her ability to handle a boat, as well as swim. As a result of her proficiency in the water, the rescue was only one of many for which she was credited.
She never boasted of her achievement and when pressed to comment on her heroic prowess she said, “We are simply two girls trying to do our duty here in this quiet place, taking care as best we can of our blind father and aged mother.” Her father had lost his sight due to cataracts shortly after he became the keeper of the light, becoming dependent on his children to handle most of the duties.

So proficient in her duties, Kate became the official keeper at Saugerties Lighthouse in 1873 at the age of 20.

By 1964, the lighthouse had been abandoned, left to deterioration and vandalism. The US Coast Guard planned to demolish the building. But another heroic woman stepped in to save it. Ruth Reynolds Glunt, wife of Chester Glunt, who was keeper at Saugerties for 28 years, fought to save the lighthouse from demolition. Largely due to her efforts, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Saugerties Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast, NY
Saugerties Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast, NY
Today, the lighthouse is a bed and breakfast, thanks to restoration by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy which purchased the property in 1986.

Two women – Kate Crowley and Ruth Glunt are known for their heroic efforts at Saugerties, but while one saved people, the other saved the lighthouse. Both were passionate about their missions, and as a result, other people have been blessed.

*Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Rebel Light, the story of romance during the Civil War on the Gulf Coast of Florida and the lighthouse that played a key role in it.

Marilyn Turk loves to study history, especially that of lighthouses and the coast of the United States. She is the author of Rebel Light, a Civil War love story set on the coast of Florida, A Gilded Curse, a historical suspense novel set on Jekyll Island, Georgia, in 1942, and Lighthouse Devotions - 52 Inspiring Lighthouse Stories, based on her popular lighthouse blog. (@

Marilyn is also the director of The Christian Writers Retreat at Blue Lake March 22-25. If you live in the Gulf Coast area, take advantage of this local writers conference. See for details and registration.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How Cacao Became Candy

So how did an ugly pod, containing beans which were dried and used as a bitter drink, valued as money in ancient times and used in religious rituals, become a favorite staple in the candy world we know today as chocolate?
Cacao was found in the residue on pottery over three thousand years old and studied recently by anthropologists. When King Montezuma of the Aztecs mistook the explorer, Hernando Cortes, for a deity, he happily served a bitter chocolate beverage at a special feast. The Spaniards observed that the drink was served to the king with great reverence.

Cacao pods {PD}
Jose de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary was unimpressed with the bitter drink, describing its taste as “unpleasant,” but observed the importance with which the Aztecs regarded it. When cacao was taken back to Spain, and the people of the royal court learned to mix it with honey or cane sugar, the love affair with the bittersweet substance began in earnest. 

By the 1700s chocolate was considered a fashionable drink, and even thought of as nutritious and medicinal. Not until late in that century, with the invention of the steam engine, could chocolate be mass produced and available to more people. 

In 1815, Conrad van Houten, a Dutch chemist, reduced the bitterness of chocolate by adding alkaline salts. He took the production of chocolate further with taking about half the cacao butter out of the chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor is the paste left after the beans have been skinned, dried, fermented, and ground into a paste, or mass. In 1828, the product left after removing half the cocoa butter and ground into powder was called “Dutch cocoa.” This paved the way for the making of chocolate candy.

In 1847, Joseph Fry added melted cacao butter back to create a moldable chocolate. This chocolate could be made into bars, but wasn’t yet common.

As documented at The Candy Professor you will find the list of popular candies from 1857were often hard candies and came in flavors less familiar to us such as birch, clove, and rose, alongside those we know of, like peppermint, lemon, and butterscotch. It wasn’t until the 20th century that chocolate became a common candy for children.

Cadbury, an English company, began selling boxes of chocolate candies in 1868. A few years later, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle teamed up to create milk chocolate by adding milk powder to the liquor. 

{PD} Hershey's Conche, early 20th Century
Swiss candy maker, Rudolphe Lindt, invented the “conche” in 1879, a machine that further processed cacao into the smoother chocolate we have today. Rumor had it that Lindt left on a mixer containing chocolate overnight. He was distraught over this accidental occurrence until he realized that the long mixing process had removed the grit usually found in chocolate. We’ll never know if this “accident” truly happened, but Lindt did discover the conching process, which takes the cocoa from the dry phase, to a paste, and finally a liquid phase. It also removes acids which can effect the taste. This helps create the superior smooth chocolate product used today to make the confections we love. 

From there, confectioners, such as Hershey’s went on to produce their chocolate-covered caramels late in the 19th century. By the 20th century, chocolate became more readily available in bars and other affordable treats.

{cc} Dwight Burdette, 2012

Today, Americans can find a large variety of chocolate candies in heart-shaped boxes or other packaging, to spoil their Valentine. What is your favorite chocolate treat to share (or not)? 

Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could read. She desires to create characters, who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. Her first full-length novel, Rumors and Promises, was published by Heritage Beacon Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, in April, 2016.

Previously a homeschool mother of three, she more recently has been a college student and is sometimes a mild-mannered dental assistant by day. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in the Midwest with her hero and husband of 35 years, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her.

Find her at:

Twitter: @KathleenRouser
Pinterest: https:/ /

Monday, February 20, 2017

Traveling the Oregon Trail Backwards, Part 4

Connecting with History at Independence Rock

You don't at first notice the sheer massiveness of Independence Rock, dwarfed as it is within a gargantuan landscape. Rising at its highest point 136 feet above the Sweetwater Valley and sprawling more than 27 acres, the rock seems to expand as you approach. Spanning 700 feet in width, Independence Rock is 1900 feet long and has a circumference of more than a mile.

This article is brought to you by Janalyn Voigt.

Likened by emigrants to a tortoise, whale, halved apple, upside-down bowl, unevenly-rising loaf of bread, and even a big elephant up to its sides in mud, Independence Rock is actually the eroded and wind-polished top of an ancient mountain range that sank into the soil under its own weight. Long before emigrants carved their initials into the granite monolith, the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, Shoshone, Ute, and other Indian tribes left carvings on this rock. They called it Timpe Nabor, which meant Painted Rock.
Rock of Independence by Alfred Jacob Miller, watercolor on paper, public domain image via Wikimedia Commons
Jesuit missionary Father Pierre-Jean De Smet called it the Register of the Desert. According to the most likely account, '"Rock Independence" was christened by William L. Sublette, who celebrated the Fourth of July there "in due style" on his way to Wind River in 1830. Located at the approximate midpoint between the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean, the road became an important way marker on the Oregon Trail. Settlers who reached it by Independence Day, considered themselves well on their way and could reasonably expect to avoid being caught in winter snows in the Rocky Mountains.

Western pioneers found inscribing their names and the date of their passage in the granite at Independence Rock irresistible. 
My small family group arrived at Independence Rock in sweltering weather. We didn't let that stop us, however. Making sure everyone had water, we followed our curiosity to the top. It soon became apparent that living in the balmy Pacific Northwest was no preparation for enduring the heat of Wyoming. Should I ever return, I will climb the rock in cooler weather, but climb it I will. The best carvings are on the top. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps the forces of erosion blast the sides with more fury. Fearful of rattlesnakes, we didn't poke into the rock crevices, but after coming across the video, below, I wish I'd taken the risk. Over 5,000 names were carved by emigrants into Independence Rock. The paint and tar applied to the carvings or to make signatures that were not carved, has mostly weathered away. However, you can still see it in sheltered places, like the ones this video explores.

Scaling Independence Rock was high adventure, but coming back down proved traumatic. Like a treed cat, I felt in need of rescue. You don't notice while going up how steep the climb is, but once you turn around it hits you. The rounded shape and smoothness of the granite adds to the challenge. My smooth-soled tennis shoes weren’t designed with this use in mind, but taking baby steps, I made it safely down.

This image gives a perspective on the size and steepness of Independence Rock by Werne1nm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
The path around the circumference of the rock includes fenced areas that protect some of the most vulnerable signatures.As we moved off, I had the sense that visiting Independence Rock had somehow changed me. There's something incredibly intimate about a person's name, and seeing the ones left in this place forged a connection with an immediacy that took my breath away.

Later, I would call upon my experiences during this trip and the other locations on this trip while writing Montana Gold, a western historical romance series with the Oregon Trail always in the background. Hills of Nevermore, the first installment, is now available for Kindle preorder. Order Hills of Nevermore before the May 1st launch date, and you will receive a free copy of Miralee Ferrell's Lassoed by Love romance novella. 

Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish circuit preacher bent on helping her survive? 
In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane.
Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God.
Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Hills of Nevermore explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.

 Preorder Hills of Nevermore 

About Janalyn Voigt

My father instilled a love of literature in me at an early age by reading chapters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe and other classics. When I grew older, and he stopped reading bedtime stories, I put myself to sleep with tales I 'wrote' in my head. My sixth-grade teacher noticed my interest in storytelling and influenced me to become a writer.

I'm what is known as a multi-genre author, but I like to think of myself as a storyteller. 

The same elements appear in all my novels in proportions dictated by their genre: romance, mystery, adventure, history, and whimsy.

Epic Fantasy: DawnSinger and Wayfarer are the first two novels in the epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven. The final books in the series, Sojourner and DawnKing, are under contract with my publisher.

Historical Fiction: Hills of Nevermore, first installment in Montana Gold, set during Montana's gold rush in the days of vigilante justice, will release May 1, 2017.

Romantic Suspense/Mystery: Deceptive Tide (Islands of Intrigue-San Juans) is set to launch in 2017. This title is romantic suspense, but I am also moving into writing mystery novels written in the classic style of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.

Sign up at to be notified when these titles release and for book extras and reader bonuses.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Oklahoma History: Fort Gibson

Fort Gibson Entrance, Wikimeia

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez

After the Louisiana Purchase, there was a series of forts built along the southwestern border of the US with the intent to maintain peace between the US and the tribes. These forts included Fort Towson, Fort Washita, Fort Arbuckle, Fort Sill, Fort Reno, Fort Supply, and Fort Gibson, all of which are in Oklahoma.

In 1824, Fort Gibson was established as the furthest west fort created by the US Army. Colonel Arbuckle of Fort Smith, Arkansas sent troops to the fork of the Arkansas River and formed on April 21st 1824, Cantonment—or temporary post—Gibson. It was named after Colonel George Gibson, who later became Commissary General of Subsistence. In other words, it was named after the commanding general of the groceries. The surgeon of the cantonment immediately started taking meteorological surveys providing the earliest known records of weather for Oklahoma. Colonel Arbuckle also formed Fort Towson approximately 120 miles to the south. 

"Two Log Buildings at Fort Gibson, Dating from 1824
Above--Post Hospital
Below--Post Chapel
Courtesy Chronicles of Oklahoma
Cantonment Gibson kept the border secured between the different tribes and the Arkansas territory, until 1832, when it was designated by the Army as Fort Gibson, showing the change from a temporary outpost to a permanently garrisoned fort. This was in response to the increasing reports and complaints that the Osage were causing trouble with numerous raids. However, soldiers failed to find any tribesman during their initial forays into the territory. It wasn’t until 1834, in an expedition led by General Leavenworth, that the Army was able to make contact with the tribes. Unfortunately, General Leavenworth passed away during the expedition and was replaced by Colonel Dodge.

Map of Fort Gibson, circa 1874
Courtesy The New Buffalo Soldiers
During the Indian removal, Fort Gibson became extremely popular, having become one of the most populated forts in the US. There were quite a few notable people who were stationed at the fort, even for a short time. These names include, Robert E. Lee, Zachary Taylor, Stephen W. Kearny, Nathan Boone, Sam Houston, and Jefferson Davis. How many do you recognize?

Throughout the Texas Revolution, the Army sent most of the troops stationed at Fort Gibson to the Texas border region. Their absence weakened the military power and pacification capacity at Fort Gibson, but the reduced garrison did its job and maintained stability in the region. The fort served as command post for Colonel Arbuckle for numerous treaties between the tribes, as they were continuously in contention.

Colonel Arbuckle left in 1841, reporting that the area was as safe and secure as it ever had been. During the 1840’s and 1850’s, the Cherokee complained bitterly about the sale of alcohol to their people, and in 1857, they convinced the Department of the Army to turn the fort over to them. They established the town of Kee-too-wah on the site of the old fort.

During the War Between the States, Union troops occasionally occupied the post. In the summer of 1862, Union soldiers pushed back a Confederate invasion of Indian Territory. The Union abandoned the fort and withdrew to Kansas. In April 1863, Colonel William A. Phillips of the Union Indian Brigade reoccupied Fort Gibson and kept it in Union hands throughout the remainder of the war. The Confederates never attacked the fort, although an attack on the fort's livestock became known as the Battle of Fort Gibson. Troops under General Blunt marched southward in July 1863, and won the Battle of Honey Springs.

In the summer of 1864, a steamboat came up the Arkansas River with about a thousand barrels of flour and tons of bacon to resupply Union troops at Fort Gibson. Cherokee Gen. Stand Waite, largely cut off from the rest of the Confederacy, didn’t want to sink the boat. He wanted to capture it, along with the food and other supplies on board. The ensuing battle is the only naval battle to have been fought in Oklahoma/Indian Territory history.

Yukon River Steamboats at Fort Gibson, Courtesy Wikimedia
After the Civil War, the Army retained Fort Gibson, transferring most troops elsewhere in 1871, leaving only a detachment responsible for provisions in a quartermaster depot. In 1873, the 10th Dragoons occupied the fort, providing security for the workers completing the railroad, against the increasingly discontent tribes.

In 1890, the fort was abandoned by the US Army for the last time. Troops occasionally camped at the site when unrest brought them to the town of Fort Gibson, which took the name of the fort. After the military permanently departed, the civilian town expanded into the former military grounds of the fort.

Honey Springs Reenactmen, Courtesy of Oklahoma Historical Society
The fort was refurbished during the years Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, as part of the historic and preservation work handed over to the WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the Great Depression. The Cherokee nation now owns and maintains the Fort Gibson site with the cooperation of the State of Oklahoma Department of Tourism, and the Department of Museums. The State of Oklahoma sponsors reenactments of the Battle of Honey Springs. If you are interested in seeing a reenactment, please visit the Oklahoma Historical Society located at: for the Honey Springs Battlefield in Checotah, Oklahoma.

Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Alanna loves the history of the state and relishes in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna lives with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. She is currently working on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

In Memory of Golden Keyes Parsons

July 19,1941 - February 16,2017

It's with great sadness that we say good-bye to our friend, fellow writer, and fellow blogger, Golden Keyes Parsons. Golden has been a part of Heroes, Heroines, and History since its debut in 2013. She wrote her last post for the blog in December of 2016. Through the years she has entertained and enlightened us with a variety of posts from the Civil War, to holiday's meals, to Texas history. For so many Golden has been an inspiration as well as an encourager with her words and her writing. Her kindness has reached across states to touch so many lives. HHH bloggers and readers will miss Golden and her contributions.

In memory of Golden Keyes Parsons we are reposting one of her first blog contributions with our group.

                                        The Moravian Church and Moravian Sugar Cake

By Golden Keyes Parsons

When my French Huguenot ancestors came to this country in 1737 after fleeing religious persecution in France, the freedom to practice their religion was of the highest priority. Louisa Clavell landed in

Philadelphia, a widow with two sons, after her husband was washed overboard on the ocean voyage from Amsterdam, Holland. He had all of their money in his possession when he was lost at sea. 

After acquiring a planter and a button maker to take her sons as apprentices, Madame Clavell followed her fellow passengers into the Schuylkill Valley of Pennsylvania and eventually remarried. Her sons joined her after serving their appointed times and acquired land in that beautiful valley.

First Church Building in 1762
Some 17 years later, in 1754, after initially coming to this country, a number of settlers in the area where they settled, Bushkill County, sent a petition to Synod of the Brethren, or Moravians, asking that organization to send a minister to them who could preach the "Gospel of Jesus Christ to them pure and unadulterated like the Apostles of old." Several men, including my direct ancestors, Franz Clewell and George Clewell signed the petition. The Moravians did so, and the gospel was well received in the area, culminating in the building of a church building in 1762.

Moravian Church today in Scheoneck

It is not surprising that the Clavells were attracted to the Moravian Church as their basic tenets were similar to the French Huguenot beliefs for which their fellow believers had lost their lives in France - justification by grace alone through faith.

On a research trip to Pennsylvania for the last book in my series about my ancestors, we were able to go to a reunion of the Clavell family, The traditions of the family are cherished and carefully preserved. That I have a copy of the genealogy of the family is a miracle in itself as I was not even aware of this rich heritage until I started researching for the series. 

I could go on and on about the history of the Clavells and the Moravian Church in this area of Pennsylvania. Our trip was absolutely glorious and I read every tidbit I could find and took hundreds of pictures. My husband was very patient! But one thing I brought back and have enjoyed so much was a recipe for Moravian Sugar Cake. At the reunion the buffet was full of several different varieties of the signature dish. I could have eaten my weight in it. It is a cross between yeast bread and cake. Here is the recipe I've enjoyed. And I hope you will too. 


1 large or 2 small potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed. Or you can use instant potatoes or leftover mashed potatoes.
1/2 cup solid shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 packages dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water, reserved from cooking potatoes (or just warm water if using instant potatoes)
4 scant cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick melted REAL butter
About 1/2 cup light brown sugar (I usually end up using much more.)
Ground cinnamon - to taste

1. Grease one 11x7x2 pan, plus one 8" square pan, or three 8" square pans
2. Place 1/2 cup hot mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Add shortening and sugar and combine. Add beaten eggs and combine. Set aside.
3. In a separate medium bowl. dissolve yeast in lukewarm potato water. Add sifted flour and salt and combine. Mix yeast mixture into potato mixture. It will resemble bread dough. Place batter in large bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 20-30 minutes.
4. Pat dough out in prepared pans to 1/2" thick. Cover with damp cloth and let rise again in a warm place for one hour.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
6. Make indentations in dough with a wooden spoon handle or your finger about every inch and a half or so. (I use my fingers :) and fill the holes with the melted butter. Crumble a generous amount of brown sugar over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Great as a dessert or with coffee in the morning. Enjoy!