Saturday, July 20, 2019

Wild West Sayings We Use Today, Part 1

You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t love books and history. I suspect that, like me, you are also fascinated with the meaning and usage of words. I find the topic as heady as the aroma of a new book. Add in the element of history, and my imagination takes wings. The dishes in the sink can wait. I’m busy learning. 

I thought you would enjoy discovering common sayings from the Wild West era that remain in the vernacular today. There are so many of them that I have to divide this topic into several posts. Revisit this blog on the 20th of upcoming months, and you’ll find a new installment. It's going to take a while to make my way through my list. 
This article is brought to you by Janalyn Voigt.

Wild West Sayings We Use Today  

Part 1

Ace in the Hole: I’m familiar with this term, although I can’t recall ever using it. The phrase began with the poker practice of keeping an ace face-down until it can be played to win. The context has widened over time, with the poker connection lessening. Today, the phrase means holding an advantage in reserve until it is needed.

Historical Reference: “A writer for the June 1886 edition of Iowa’s The Humeston New Era described a poker game using the term,” according to

Example: When it came to beating speeding tickets, Amelia’s charm was her ace in the hole.

A Lick and a Promise: My mother used this term whenever she spritzed the house but didn’t have time to clean deeply. This idiom describes rushing through a task without doing a thorough job. The phrase originally referred to cleaning. An outdated definition of ‘lick’ was to clean rapidly. The ‘promise’ most likely spoke of the cleaner’s intent to do a better job at a later date. The idiom evolved to include other duties besides cleaning.

Historical Reference: The Phrase Finder identifies the term as colloquial (British) English and states that it first appeared in a March 1848 edition of the English newspaper, The Era.

Example: Cecilia gave her computer screen a lick and a promise by swiping it with a tissue.

Apple Pie Order: Is it just me, or does this expression make you hungry too?

This intriguing phrase describes something in perfect order. We know that it originated in Britain, but we really don’t understand how it came about. Some believe it is a corruption of the French 'nappes pliees' (neatly folded napkins), but other theories abound.

Historical Reference: The first known occurrence of this term was a note in Sir Thomas Pasley's ‘Private Sea Journals,’ an admiral and British naval hero. The entry appeared in the weekly plan for his ships’ crews: “And their Persons Clean and in apple-Pie order on Sundays.” The date was 1780, according to The Phrase Finder.

Example: No matter how much of a mess it became, Grandma’s kitchen always ended the day in apple-pie order.

At Sea: Since I’m writing the Montana Gold series, set far from the ocean, I

have trouble wrapping my mind around this as a Wild West term. However, it appears in several lists of idioms from the era. Collins English Dictionary shows an interesting graph indicating use of the term peaked in 1812 and remained high until after 1977, when it began to decline. Inception of the saying is British and dates to the 1700’s or possibly earlier. You may have already guessed its connection to the early days of nautical navigation, when ships could become hopelessly lost when they sailed beyond sight of land. As might be imagined, it defines a bewildered state of confusion.

Historical Reference: The earliest reference in literature occurred in 1893 by British adventurer Frederick C. Selous, according to The Idioms dictionary.

Example: I must confess to being at sea over what to do.

Save your bacon: Now, bacon isn’t hard to attach to the American West. It was, after all, a staple in pioneer cook pots. That is probably not what the phrase describes, however. In medieval times, ‘bacon’ meant ‘meat’ or flesh. When someone saves your bacon, they save your body. If you are not familiar with this term, you will no doubt have guessed that it describes rescue from a dire situation with life-threatening consequences. There are many suggestions for how this expression was birthed. One idea is that it derived from ‘Baec,’ a Old Dutch and Anglo Saxon word for ‘back.’
Historical Reference: Use of the term harkens to the 17th century. The Phrase Finder places it in Ireland's Momus Elenticus from 1654: "Some fellowes there were... To save their bacon penn'd many a smooth song."

Example: My father saved my bacon when he shot that cougar before it could jump on me.

Note from Janalyn: I hope you’ve enjoyed this window into the Wild West and other eras through the words that unite us with those who lived in an earlier time. Come back next month for another word adventure.

About Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and whimsy creates breathtaking fictional worlds for readers. Known for her vivid writing, this multi-faceted author writes in the western historical romance, medieval epic fantasy, and romantic suspense genres.

Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary Agency. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA. When she's not writing, she loves to garden and explore the great outdoors with her family.

Learn more about Janalyn Voigt and her books.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Phoenix of Museums: The State Capital Publishing Museum

The State Capital Publishing Museum, Guthrie, OKlahoma
Wikimedia Commons

By: Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Hello Friends!

Thank you for joining us once again as we delve into the history of this great state, we call home. Oklahoma.

Over the last couple of months, we have looked into much of the history of the land runs. This month, we look at a truly historic icon that is being reborn. The two of us met in a re-enactment group called the Guthrie Gunfighters, longer ago than I would like to admit. Most of our gunfights were either in the middle of the street or on the corner of 2nd and Harrison in Guthrie, Oklahoma. We did more shows there between the Capital Publishing Museum and the Blue Bell Saloon, than we can count, making beautiful backdrops to our trolley shootouts.

First founded in March of 1889, The “State Capital” was founded in Winfield Kansas by a Franklin Greer. Less than a month later, he moved his operations down to the newly formed town of Guthrie. On April 22nd 1889, the State Capital became the “first daily paper ever published in what is now Oklahoma”.

Originally, the paper was located in a different location, but moved to a rented space on the second floor at the current location in 1890. As the circulation of the paper grew, however, Greer rented more and more space, until finally in 1897, he purchased the entire building. Once the final top floor occupant moved out in 1900, Greer expanded his operations to the entire building, making 10,000 square feet available to the more than 100 employees the paper employed.

The Capital Publishing company remained in the building until the building burned down on an Easter Sunday in 1902. After the fire, however, Greer paid to have the building redesigned and rebuilt on the same site. With the help of subscriptions, the building was rebuilt in only 6 months, at a price tag of $50,000.

It house not only the print company, located in the basement, and was the official printing company for the territorial government, it also held a beautiful and ornate bank, and post office on the first floor. Greer branched out and sold a complete line of office, school and stationary supplies.

The designer of the new building was Belgian architect Joseph Pierre Foucart, whom had been instrumental in the design of numerous buildings in Guthrie to include, the Victor block, the Foucart building, the Gray Brothers Building, the Gaffney Building, the De Ford Building, and numerous others.

The State Capital, being the first publishing company in Oklahoma, quickly became the biggest publisher west of the Mississippi river.

In 1911, Greer sold the Oklahoma State Capital to the Guthrie Daily Leader, their primary competitor, and publishing under the name of the State Capital ceased. The building then started being used as a printing and book binding, under the name of the Co-Op Printing company. It remained for many years as the largest publisher in the State of Oklahoma for schools, churches and government.

Filing system on the first Floor, State Capital Museum
used with permission

In 1975, the Oklahoma State Historical Society purchased the building and opened the Capital Publishing Museum. They had courses where children could come in and print their own newspapers by traditional printing. The printing presses are still where they are and can be viewed by the large windows that went around the basement. The teller windows and bank vault is still there in pristine condition, and an entire wall is taken by an intricate boxed filing system. It even holds teacher's applications for teacher's jobs that the printing company printed. The museum remained in operation until it being closed in 2012 due to a failed boiler, the last straw in a long list.

Bank Teller stations on the first floor
used with permission

In 2017, a group by the name of the Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition purchased the building and are in the process of renovating it. They were open for Guthrie's Victorian Walk and welcomed hundreds of visitors for some Christmas cheer. They are gathering the funds to get the building back up to code, to reopen the museum, in all its former glory.

Part of Resume for Teacher, my own picture
Another part of resume for a Teacher,
my own picture

Did you know that resumes were
called warrants?
My own picture

If you would like to donate to their efforts, please feel free to contact them at: or

Thank you for joining us this month, as we explore parts of the rich history and culture of this great state. We hope you will join us next month as we look in to some of the other historic buildings in the culture and history rich city of Guthrie, 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. Judge was born and raised in Little Axe, Oklahoma, the son of A.F. Veterans. Judge and Alanna love the history of the state and relish in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her second published story, part of a collaborative novella titled 18 Redbud Lane, is not available. Alanna and Judge live with her parents in the Edmond area. They are currently collaborating on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Oklahoma.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Tunguska Event and a Giveaway

By Nancy J. Farrier

Many of us remember, or have seen, the devastation caused in 1982 when Mt. St. Helens erupted. In researching the Tunguska Event, I am reminded of those hillsides of downed trees and the barrenness of what was once a lush forest area. 
Tunguska Trajectory, by Z. Sekanina, Wikimedia Commons
On June 30th, 1908, in the Tunguska forest of Western Siberia, a mysterious
Map, Tunguska Event
Wikimedia Commons
event happened and scientists still debate the cause. Due to the remoteness of the area, there were few witnesses. The event happened so fast that even those few witnesses had confusing accounts. The commonality among them was fear.

One peasant, seated on his porch that morning, reported a bright light so hot he thought he would be burned or his shirt would be in flames. As he turned to see what caused the light, it disappeared and darkness fell. An explosion occurred with a wind so strong he was blown off the porch. 

Leonid Kulik
Wikimedia Commons
Because of the difficulty getting to the blast site, it would be almost two decades before the explosion would be researched. In 1927, Leonid Kulik, a Russian mineralogist read a newspaper account of the event and took a team to the Siberian forest along the Tunguska river. They found hundreds of trees flattened and the landscape changed. The devastation consisted of approximately 80 million trees and covered 820 square miles. There were bog holes and a lake that they don’t believe existed prior to the explosion.

There were many accounts recorded by people who supposedly witnessed the event but many proved false. Some said they touched the still-warm meteorite that hit the earth, a decidedly false statement. Kulik found no evidence of a meteor crater, even going so far as to drain a bog or sinkhole to see what was at the bottom. He only found a tree stump and no evidence of a meteor.

Map of impact zone, by Denys, Wikimedia Commons
So, what happened to cause this explosion which has been compared to the hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll? The theory at the forefront is a meteor, possibly an ice meteor, exploded in the atmosphere above the Siberian Tunguska forest. They estimate the meteor was from three to six miles up when the explosion occurred. There is no explanation for why this happened, only conjecture. 

Photo from Kulik's Expedition
Wikimedia Commons
In 1908, or even 1927, the scientists didn’t have the equipment to do testing that is available today. There have been many expeditions since then to study this event. In more recent studies, they found molecules in the downed trees that were made of nickel or iron, supporting the meteorite theory. The molecules were the same as those found in known meteorites. 

Scientists believe this to be the biggest event of this type even known, although the Tunguska Event is not an isolated occurance. The shock wave reached as far as Washington D. C.. For days afterward, the night sky had unusual colors that could be seen in Asia and Europe. Scientists believe this had to do with atmospheric particles of ice caused by the explosion.

Downed Trees at Tunguska, by CYD
Wikimedia Commons
Descriptions given to Kulik and to others mentioned more than one explosion, which could have been the main explosion and aftershocks. Women in one village ran through the streets, thinking it was the end of the world. Some reported seeing a light too bright to look at in the sky and then thumps, not like thunder but more like falling rocks. 

One man, who raised reindeer and was considered wealthy because of his large herd of reindeer, went with his brother to check his herd and his sheds where he kept his equipment. They found charred carcasses of the reindeer, the ones they found. Some they never located. The sheds and the contents were burned or melted, including utensils and equipment used for the reindeer.

It is hard to imagine such a devastating event happening today. There is always the possibility, although with the technology we have today I imagine there would be warning. Haven’t we all watched movies based on this possibility? 

What are your thoughts on the Tunguska Event? Have you ever heard of this phenomenon? 

It is July again and today is my birthday. I love giving gifts on my birthday. For every 10 people who comment on my blog post, I will give away a copy Bandolero, or one of my other books—winners choice, as long as the book is available. Don’t forget to leave your email address to be entered in the giveaway. 

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

She’s been rejected and betrayed. He sacrificed all to seek revenge.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


A cupola (kyo͞o-pə-lə) is the little dome or square-shaped addition that we see today atop a house, barn, or gazebo. It can also be a larger windowed area accessed from inside an Italianate-style home popular in the Victorian era.

None of this sounds very Western in the 1800s American-West sense of the word. But that’s exactly what my character Elizabeth Beaumont (An Unexpected Redemption) saw on her way home from the train station in 1881—the cupola rising romantically from the top of Maggie Snowfield’s boarding house.

When Elizabeth and her friend Sophie Price were growing up, they imagined what it would be like to secretly meet their sweethearts in a cupola, high above the town with a panoramic view and unparalleled privacy. At least they thought there would be a view. Young girls imagine all sorts of things, you know.

The term cupola comes from an Italian word derived from Latin for little tub. Italianate-style homes sprang up all over the United States during the mid- to late nineteenth century, other than in the South due to the Civil War and economic devastation of southern states.

American architects redesigned creations of British architects, who creatively recreated ideas from Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio of the 16th century. Clearly, imitation was the purist form of flattery.
Cupola ceiling in the Synagogue of Gyor, Hungary.
Emmanuel Dyan, Wikimedia.
The cupola is an integral part of that design and can be traced even farther back to 8th-century Islamic architecture on minarets, often with balconies. It later appeared in ancient Roman architecture. The dome-shaped styles were also found in India.

Cupolas were used to provide natural light and ventilation to space just below the roof, particularly in more humid regions. Those on barns often supported a weather vane from their highest point. The square-shaped style was sometimes referred to as “lantern.”
Old barn at Brookwood Farm, Canton, Massachusetts.
Jameslwoodward, Wikimedia Commons
But the larger, windowed cupola is what I envisioned atop Maggie Snowfield’s opulent home. Often, such a space is accessed via a stairway inside the house, as it was in Maggie’s. A very romantic hideaway, indeed, for a certain couple in my book.

The image below of John Muir’s home in Martinez, California, is close to what I envisioned as the Snowfield Boarding House in An Unexpected Redemption. Without the palm trees, of course. 
John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California.
Victorian residence of scientist, philosopher and conservationist Muir
from 1890 till his death 1914. National Park Service photo.Wikimedia.
Historians tell us that Italianate architecture was favored for new Victorian construction because technology of the time made reproduction of cast-iron and metal decorations quite affordable. Not only homes employed the style, but also rooming houses, train stations, town halls, and libraries.

However, homes, barns, public buildings, and gazebos were not the only place cupolas made an appearance. Cabooses had them as well.

History lovers will know that trains once pulled a caboose with an “angel seat” from where workers had a clear view of the track and the rest of the train.
A former Milwaukee Road cupola caboose on display at the
National Railroad Museum in Green Bay. Photo by Sean Lamb, Wikimedia.
When my family and I first moved to Colorado, an open pasture bordering our property held a deserted train caboose left beneath a giant cottonwood tree. My son often went there to play and explore with a neighbor boy. We always supposed it had served as a line shack or cow camp, though it was not the typical shelter for cowboys.

To this day I regret not going out with my camera and photographing the old “dinosaur.” When the property owners got rid of the caboose, I felt as if a little bit of untold history went with it. Especially its angel-seat cupola.

An Unexpected Redemption

From the shelter of the cupola, Elizabeth could see the whole of Olin Springs. The railroad twisted away into the foothills, a silvery ribbon in the moon’s thin light, and to the north, the Big Dipper stood on its handle, spilling countless stars across the sky.

Tears spilled across her cheeks.

She hated Garrett Wilson. She hated him for stealing her heart when she wasn’t looking, for making her want to love again. For making her wonder what life could be like with a man like him.

But she hated him most for being right.

Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she writes romance for those who enjoy a Western tale with a rugged hero, both historical and contemporary. She holds the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, teaches writing workshops, and plays the keyboard on her church worship team. When she’s not writing, teaching, or playing, she’s wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Learn more about Davalynn and her books at

May all that you read be uplifting.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Islands of the Mississippi River

While writing my latest novel, I discovered my story needed an island on the Mississippi River big enough for a group of river pirates to hide out.

Are there any islands on the Mississippi River large enough live on permanently? Turns out the answer is yes. (I’m guessing some of you already knew this, but color me clueless!) Some islands have a history of providing safety, security, and trading opportunities for travelers while others harbored danger to all who drew near. And like the pirates in my story and the mist along the river, over long periods of time, these land masses come and go at will … and sometimes with a little help from the Army Corp of Engineers.

Bloody Island appeared in 1798. Situated opposite St. Louis, MO, the densely wooded island became the preferred meeting spot for duelists since it was not under Missouri or Illinois jurisdiction. After a few years, the growth of the island threatened the harbor of St. Louis. In 1837, the U.S. Army Engineers established a system of dikes and dams to wash out the western channel and join the island to the Illinois shore.

Farmland on Grand Tower Island in Missouri
By Nyttend - Own work, Public Domain,

Davis Island, located 20 miles southwest of Vicksburg, MS consists of 30,000 acres. Formerly a peninsula bounded on three sides by the Mississippi River, a shift in the river cut it off from the mainland in 1867. Owned by Jefferson Davis’ brother, the Davis family built two sprawling plantations on the island. After the Civil War, former plantation overseer Ben Montgomery and other freedmen leased the island and continued to operate a successful farming operation on the island before losing the lease in 1876 when crops failed due to catastrophic floods. Today, Davis Island is owned by the Brierfield Hunting Club, with access only by water.

Rock Island, (Arsenal Island) comprises 946 acres and is located on the Mississippi River between the cities of Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois. The Rock Island Arsenal is home of First Army headquarters. The island was originally established as a government site in 1816, with the building of Fort Armstrong. It is now the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the United States. 

The House-In-the-Woods, Campbell's Island, Illinois

At the turn-of-the last century, Campbell’s Island in Illinois was bought by a street-car company with the intentions of turning it into an amusement park. There were many summer cottages and The House-In-the-Woods, built in 1904, offered dining and concerts. Today, Campbell’s Island is home to a suburban community with many of the island homes built on stilts to withstand seasonal flooding.

Grand Tower Island is known for its prime farming land. Kaskaskia Island, with a population of 14 at the last census has seen its numbers swell to SEVEN THOUSAND in the past. Pike Island was an internment camp for more than 1600 Dakotas in 1862.

Kaskaskia Church, Kaskaskia, Illinois
By Charles Houchin - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

And then there is Stack Island, located in north Mississippi, the island I based my fictional Cottonmouth Island on. Sometimes called the Crow’s Nest, Stack Island was notorious as a hideout for horse thieves, robbers, counterfeiters, and murderers. Samuel Mason and the Harpe brothers (Micaiah Jones from The Crossing at Cypress Creek is loosely modeled on the villainous Micajah Harpe) were among the vicious outlaws who frequented the Crow’s Nest.

Cave-In-Rock, Illinois
By Karl Bodmer - Maximilian, Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America, during the years 1832–1834, Public Domain,

This is just a sampling of the twenty-four or so land masses on the Mississippi River that qualify as islands. I find the idea of island life on the Mississippi River fascinating! So, have you ever visited an island on the river? Or, be still my heart, lived on one?

Don't miss The Crossing at Cypress Creek, the third and final book in Pam Hillman's
The Natchez Trace Novel Series

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Truth about John Quincy Adams

I have to give my pastor, Mitch Prosser credit for peaking my interest in our 6th president. He used him as an example in his message a few weeks back and of course I was hooked since it was interesting history! 

How many times have you read through the bible? Is it something you try to do yearly?

Our 6th president, John Quincy Adams was a strong Christian, an avid student of the bible and made it a point to read through his bible once every year. He believed in raising his children in a godly home with godly influence but found himself away from home so much with his first child due to being an oversea diplomat that he wrote nine lengthy letters to his son explaining to him how to study the bible. 

John Quincy Adams first served was elected as a senator in 1803. He went on to be the 6th president of the Untied States. After serving as president, Adams returned to congress. He is the only president to ever serve as a senator after being president. He did this because he believed there was a great evil in our nation, and that was slavery. He fought year after year trying end slavery. His motto was, "The duty is ours, the results are God's." He did because he knew it was the right and moral thing to do. But ultimately he also knew that God was in control of when it would happen.

In the 1840's he came up with a three step plan to end slavery in America. But as we all know, that plan never happened for him and slavery continued. But as Adams continued to serve as a senator he never gave up on that dream and  by his last year in congress he had won nearly all of the house over to his plan to end slavery.

He'd been in congress for seventeen years and helped many get elected. There was also a young freshman who'd been elected and that young man joins on with John Quincy Adams and becomes a large part of the anti-slavery movement. He serves along side of Adams and is impressed by the veteran senator. Adam takes the young man alongside of him and mentors him. He teaches him all he knows and shares his three step plan to end slavery with the young freshman. He still hasn't been able to get the senate to come along with him but Adams still hasn't given up on his dream and he shares it all with this young man. 

When John Quincy Adams died, this young man ended up being one of his pallbearers. The young man ran again for congress after Adams death but wasn't reelected. The next time this man was elected was in 1860 and he was elected as the President of the United States--Abraham Lincoln. 

Though John Quincy Adams didn't get to see the ending of slavery, he left his mark and his influence on young Lincoln and when Lincoln became president 12 years later, he put those same steps taught to him by Adams, into action and was able to accomplish Adam's dream.

Amnesia can numb your pain…

…. unless it gets you killed.

A freak earthquake upends Olivia’s world, while two men claim her love. When her memory begins to return in bits and pieces, Olivia discovers embezzlement. With danger lurking all around her, she must continue the charade of amnesia. But will time run out on her before she uncovers the truth? Buy Shattered Memories

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 5 horses, 3 dogs, cat and miniature donkey.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The sinking of the city deemed "The Wickedest City in the World"

In 1692 an earthquake struck the city of Port Royal Jamaica, a city that had been deemed the Wickedest City in the World. Port Royal was a British outpost, a thriving shipping and merchant community. If you have seen the first pirate movie, you may remember Port Royal was the city Captain Jack Sparrow first sailed (or rather sunk) his ship into. With a population close to 6500, the city was larger than New York City at the time. Cramped, unhealthy, and wanton, the port town was settled for reasons purely of lust and greed and was filled with pirates, privateers, sailors, and other greedy sorts. There were a few honorable souls among the inhabitants, but they were in the minority. Two such honorable men were the Reverend Dr. Emmanuel Heath of Christchurch and Sir Hans Sloane.

On the morning of June 7th, Dr. Sloane and his son set out for the mainland by canoe to visit patients in Spanish Town. Dr. Heath attended his church as he did every morning trying to set an example for "a most ungodly, debauched people". Dr. Heath was on his way for lunch at the home of Captain Ruden, but he stopped at an Inn to have a glass of wormwood wine with a merchant friend

At approximately 11:40 am he felt the ground “rowling and moving” under his feet. His friend told him it was only an earthquake and would be over soon, but when Dr. Heath ran into the street, he felt two more larger jolts, and by the time he arrived at Captain Ruden's house, it had vanished into the sea. Dr, Heath’s church fared no better. It rapidly descended into the sea, its tower collapsing in the process.

An eyewitness describes:
The sand in the street rose like the waves of the sea, lifting up all persons that stood upon it, and immediately dropping down into its; and at the same instant a flood of water rushed in, throwing down all who were in its way; some were seen catching hold of beams and rafters of houses, others were found in the sand that appeared when the water was drained away, with their legs and arms out.

Dr. Heath attempted to make his escape by running towards Morgan’s Fort, but he saw the sea “mounting in’.  Those who had survived the initial earthquake now faced a tidal wave from the south. Not good news for those still trapped in the wreckage of buildings. Dr. Heath headed for his house, which he found still standing, as most were in the eastern section of the city due to being built on an underlying corraline mass.

Meanwhile out in the harbor Dr. Sloane and his sons reported:

We were near being overwhelmed by a swift rolling sea, six feet above the surface, without any wind, but it pleased God to save us, being forced back to Linguanea, where I found all houses even with the ground, not a place to put one's head in, but in Negro houses. The terrible earthquake shook down and drowned nine-tenths of the town of Port Royal in two minutes time, and by the wharfside in less than one. Very few escaped there. I lost all my people and goods, my wife and two men, Mrs. B and her daughter. One white maid escaped who gave me an account that her mistress was in her closet, two pair of stairs high, and she was sent into the garret, where Mrs. B and her daughter were, when she felt the earth quake and bid her take up her child and run down, but, turning about, met the water at the top of the garret stairs, for the house sunk right down and is now under thirty feet of water

Two-thirds of the town, sank into the sea immediately after the main shock. According to Robert Renny in his 'An History of Jamaica' (1807): "All the wharves sunk at once, and in the space of two minutes, nine-tenths of the city were covered with water, which was raised to such a height, that it entered the

uppermost rooms of the few houses which were left standing. The tops of the highest houses, were visible in the water, and surrounded by the masts of vessels, which had been sunk along with them."

 It is believed that nearly 2000 people lost their lives in the actual quake and several thousand more in the disease and looting and starvation afterward.  Among the persons of note who perished were: Attorney-General Simon Musgrave, Provost-Marshal Reeves, Colonel Reade, Captain Ruden and Naval Officer Reginald Wilson. There were many narrow escapes and miraculous deliverances. One such miracle happened to Lewis Galdy who was first swallowed up and sucked out to sea by the first seismic wave then miraculously returned to land by the second.  A young Mrs. Akers was swallowed up in a gap in the land then ejected into the sea and within three  minutes was rescued by a ship.

The earthquake sank the narrow sandbar that connected Port Royal to the mainland and made it an island again. In the aftermath several hundred people found safety on the HMS Swam a royal navy ship that and been washed ashore. Dr. Heath  survived and was instrumental in helping rescue survivors and get them proper care.

Though many tried to rebuild Port Royal, it never returned to its former glory and most of the merchant business transferred to Kingston. History lovers and treasure hunters diving at Port Royal over the years have found many fascinating artifacts. One item of interest was a watch that had stopped at seventeen minutes before twelve: the time of the third and greatest shock.

I found this history so fascinating, I wrote a romance novel based on it called The Ransom!  

In 1692 Jamaica, women were not allowed to run businesses. But Juliana has no choice. To save her family and keep her secret, she allies herself with the town buffoon. Alex, the most feared pirate in Port Royal, leads a dual life to stave off his boredom, but when his infatuation with Juliana puts them in grave danger, only a divine hand can lead them to safety as Port Royal sinks into the sea. 

Purchase from Amazon