Sunday, November 29, 2020

The History of Thanksgiving in America

By Elaine Marie Cooper The traditional first Thanksgiving in America took place in November of 1621, one year after the Pilgrim’s arrival in the new world. It had been a long and painful year for the colonists, with half of their number succumbing to illness. With the help pf both Providence and compassionate local natives, the group celebrated their survival. Subsequent annual feasts were not an official event for the American colonies, but states often declared their own celebration of a bountiful harvest. It became a much-anticipated event, with families often celebrating Thanksgiving more than once; first in their home colony, then crossing over the boundary of an adjacent colony to celebrate again with other family members. Then the war between England and America began. The tradition of Thanksgiving was firmly ensconced in the minds of American colonists however, so despite the battles, the fears and the inadequate food supplies for some, Thanksgiving was carried on. In November 4 of 1775, the city council of Watertown Massachusetts declared an official day of Thanksgiving. “We have thought fit, with the Advice of the Council and House of Representatives, to appoint Thursday the Twenty-third Day of November Instant, to be observed as a Day of public THANKSGIVING, throughout this Colony; hereby calling upon Ministers and People, to meet for religious Worship in said Day, and devoutly to offer up their unfeigned Praises to Almighty God, the Source and benevolent Bestower of all Good…” As printed in the Pennsylvania Evening Post, November 4, 1775. The War continued and often, spirits plummeted. General Washington, who was in charge of the American Continental troops, often escaped disaster by eluding the enemy forces rather than engaging in battle. There were few victories to claim.

Then the tide turned when the opposing forces met up in Saratoga, New York in September of 1777. The British were confident they could interfere with the American army in the north by overtaking the battlefield, thereby cutting off the New England troops from the rest of the colonies. But the plan was thwarted by an increasing number of American militia (some estimate 13,000 troops) vs. 7,000 Redcoats. Finally, the Americans had the upper hand. The victory brought celebration to the colonies along with support from the French government. It was an alliance the Americans had long sought. This is a partial text of the Continental Congress’ November 1, 1777 national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation; as printed in the Journals of Congress:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace … This was the new country’s first national day of Thanksgiving. The Congress supported similar Thanksgiving proclamations through 1784. In 1789, New Jersey representative Elias Boudinot presented a resolution requesting that President Washington declare an observance of thanksgiving to honor the creation of the newly penned Constitution of the United States. Subsequent presidents also declared days of Thanksgiving, but not until the Civil War in the 1860’s was a regular holiday initiated by President Abraham Lincoln.

Elaine Marie Cooper has a recent release, Scarred Vessels, which features the black soldiers in the American Revolution as well as some little-known history of Rhode Island. Her newly contracted Dawn of America series will begin releasing this April with Love’s Kindling. The series is set in Revolutionary War Connecticut. Cooper is the award-winning author of Fields of the Fatherless and Bethany’s Calendar. Her 2016 release (Saratoga Letters) was finalist in Historical Romance in both the Selah Awards and Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul and HomeLife magazine. She also penned the three-book historical series, Deer Run Saga. You can visit her website/ blog at

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Farming and Ranching on the Prairies -- with Giveaway -- by Donna Schlachter

                                                   Hand tools typical to farming and ranching, 1850s

Farming and ranching in the United States has a long and colorful history, beginning with the earliest settlers and reaching its heyday during the Westward Migration of the 1840s through 1880s.

The first settlers tended to claim a parcel of land near a water source such as a river or spring. Then they plowed up the grassy sod and constructed one-room homes called soddies, leaving a hole in the roof for smoke to escape, a door for entrance, and, if they were particularly resourceful, a window. This cleared land then served as the basis for their crops, primarily food for themselves and their stock. Often, the same oxen or horses that hauled their wagon were used to pull the plows, and crops were harvested by hand using tools such as scythes, threshers, and rakes. A family’s livelihood or lack thereof often dictated by the crop yield, the weather at harvest time, and their ability to store the harvest successfully to last through the harsh winter until spring.

Several important milestones occurred which made the farmers’ and ranchers’ lives a little easier and offered greater crop yields, including the invention of farm machinery, fencing materials, and fertilizers.

As far back as 1819, Jethro Wood patented the first iron plow with interchangeable parts for types of soil and plantings. Now the farmer could use the same plow to prepare a field for corn or potatoes, for example. Then, in 1837, John Deere manufactured plows with steel shares that were more durable and kept their edge longer than the iron version.

1840's grain reaper
                                                                        1840's plow

In 1831, Cyrus McCormick invented a grain reaper, pulled by a horse. Now a farmer could harvest more acres in a shorter period of time, increasing his food supply and his cash crop sales. His unique design guided the stalks to the blade, cut and then shoved the stalks onto the ground in the wake of the reaper, making cradles and scythes obsolete. In 1854, McCormick introduced the self-rake reaper. This new design gathered the cut grain into neat piles which workers then tied into sheaves before sending to the thresher. Each self-rake reaper equaled the labor of four or five men, which was particularly valuable during the Civil War when so many men left home to enlist. In 1837, the Pitts Brothers patented a practical threshing machine. However, it wasn’t until 1926 that a successful light gasoline tractor was developed.

While we may consider hybridization of corn and other crops a recent advance, in 1816 John Lorain began discussing the benefits of cross-breeding corn to obtain higher yields; in 1866 Gregor Mendel published his experiments in plant hybridization; in 1872 Luther Burbank produced a “Burbank potato”, the first in a long line of new and improved varieties; in 1905 George Harrison Shull began experiments with cross-breeding varieties of corn, perfecting his method by 1909. Donald Jones developed a system in 1917 to grow modern hybrid seed; and in 1926 Henry Wallace used advertising and promotion to popularize his hybrid seed corn.

However, with increased yields and these new varieties, farmers realized they needed to assist the soil with additives and fertilizers. 1850 saw the manufacture of the first mixed fertilizer called Manufactured Guano. In 1908, Haber and Bosch developed the process to make ammonia, leading to increased food production sufficient to feed a billion people a year. In 1914 Edwin Broun Fred supplied cultures of nitrogen-fixing bacteria to growers of legumes. 1921 saw the use of a World War 1 airplane to spread lead arsenate dust in a grove in Ohio; and in 1939 Paul Muller discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT, which was later banned as being harmful to wildlife that ate the poisoned insects.

Barbed-wire samples
With farms and ranches increasing in acreage to produce more yield, the need for effective and efficient fencing arose. In 1874 the Glidden barbed-wire patent was granted to contain and protect cattle. The idea of fencing thousands of acres was revolutionary, and given the harsh weather on much of the plains, as well as limited trees for posts, barbed-wire was the perfect solution. On his farm in Illinois, Joseph Glidden first perfected his design in 1816, while a local lumber dealer, Jacob Haish, developed the “s” barb that came a close second for a short time.

Soon the cattlemen’s fervor to protect the best grazing and water sources created friction, forcing small farms and ranches into cutting the wire to regain access to land for their stock. Because of a history of open range ranching, where branded cattle wandered at will and were gathered up in the spring, the switch to fenced ranching resulted in violence and crime for many years. Barbed-wire, often nicknamed “devil’s rope”, now boasts more than two thousand types, and is still used today.

With overproduction and over-grazing, combined with drought and blizzards, the Great Plains faced serious problems in 1886 and 1887. As plow agriculture extended into the semi-arid plains, erosion swept away the topsoil. Just as in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, yields dropped, forcing farmers and ranchers to use increasingly invasive methods such as over fertilizing, plowing more land and increasing herd sizes, and more mechanization.

As you can see, much of the scientific and mechanical progress made over the past 150 years or so was due to the requirements of farmers and rancher and the demand for more food for a growing population. While the number of farms and ranches in the United States has decreased in the past 50 years or so, the size of the holdings and amount of food produced has increased to meet the demand. A typical family-owned farm currently produces enough food to feed more than 100 people. As we enjoy the Thanksgiving season, let’s remember to be thankful to our farmers and ranchers who keep us well-fed.

Leave a comment about your favorite Thanksgiving dish, and I’ll draw randomly for an ebook copy of A Pink Lady Thanksgiving.

About A Pink Lady Thanksgiving: Kate and Tom McBride, along with their newborn, John Thomas, settle into life in Oregon City, Oregon in November 1879. And while Kate enjoys being a wife, mother, and homemaker, she still remembers her fanciful dreams of last year: become a detective to solve mysteries. Her first case is to find the missing fiancée of a local banker. Tom, however, isn’t sure this is a good idea, particularly not when somebody throws a fiery bomb through the window of their home, burning it to the ground. They learn that their pasts may not be as far behind them as they’d hoped, but when their son is kidnaped, they just join forces to reveal who is trying to stop them—from finding the missing woman, and from starting their new life together.


     About Donna:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. As a hybrid author, she writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, devotional books, and books on the writing craft. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Sisters In Crime, Pikes Peak Writers, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; and teaches writing classes online and in person. Donna also ghostwrites, edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Bonanza Books-in-a-Flash: order autographed print copies of books that are shipped directly from the author. Perfect for times when other online order services are slow.



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Friday, November 27, 2020

Spotlight on Author Donna Schlachter

Hi, I’m Donna Schlachter, and I love history.

Funny thing is, I never knew that until about seven or eight years ago. Up to that point, history, as I recalled it from school, was a heavy and successive load of dead kings and queens, dates, and boring wars.

But that all changed when I met up with my good friend Mary Davis at an American Christian Fiction Writers conference. I asked what she was working on, and she said she was putting together a proposal for a novella collection featuring the Pony Express. I said that sounded interesting, and I’d love to do something like that, too. Unfortunately, she had all the authors she needed, so that was that, although she promised to let me know if that changed.

I knew nothing about the Pony Express. Yikes! What might I have gotten myself into? So hubby and I took a couple of road trips between St. Joseph, Missouri, through Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah, following the Pony Express trail. I was hooked.

And a month later, Mary contacted me, said one author dropped out, would I like to join? Would I? Yes.

And the rest is, as they say, history (no pun intended). That collection did eventually release, but even more so, it ignited an interest and passion for history that didn’t include dead monarchs and dates to memorize. I discovered that every piece of history includes real people, just like me and you, with real lives, worries, fears, hopes, and problems. And while the problems aren’t quite the same now as then, they still needed to be overcome.

Another thing I learned is that I have a fascination with cemeteries. I love looking at the names, the ages, the family plots, the line of tiny headstones for infants, some so young they didn’t even have a name. I wonder about the heartbreak of those families, and whether they moved on and started over somewhere else. I marvel at those who made it to a ripe old age in a time when the other stones indicate shorter lives. What did they do differently? And then there are the markers that indicate the person traveled across the ocean from Ireland, England, Germany, and Russia, to name a few countries. What brought them here? Did they find what they sought?

Since discovering that newfound love for history, I’ve traveled the depth and breadth of the continental US, east to west, north to south, including Alaska. In Sitka, I found a Russian Orthodox cemetery hidden in a small grove of trees. Tripping over tree roots, shaded in the dim light, the stones dripping with moss and moisture, everything quiet around me—I truly felt I was walking on holy ground. What brought these Russian immigrants to Alaska in the 1700’s and 1800’s? Life must have been incredibly difficult in Juneau, a land of contrasts in weather and seasons. And the journey itself must have been dangerous, tossed on the open ocean for thousands of miles. Did they even know where they were when they got there?

These are all questions and situations that create fodder for books that still need to be written. I find that wherever I go, I find far more history and personal life stories than I’ll have time to pen. But that won’t stop me from trying.

If you’ll leave a comment, I’ll draw randomly for a free print copy (US only) or ebook (winner’s choice), of The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado. This book is based on research I did into the old Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs, and is loosely based on the demise of that hotel.

Question: What is your favorite time period in history, and why?

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Bonanza Books-in-a-Flash: order autographed print copies of books that are shipped directly from the author. Perfect for times when other online order services are slow.



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Thursday, November 26, 2020


by Cindy Regnier


I’m feeling very blessed to be the blogger on this special holiday for 2020. We all know it’s been a tough year for our country, but dig a little deeper and find the blessings. They are most certainly there and a grateful heart just might be the beginning of change for the better. For now, while you’re enjoying the wonderful aromas and happy laughter of friends and family, let’s think for a moment about tomorrow. Just what is Black Friday and how did it start?

The first use of the term “Black Friday” in our country was not about holiday shopping but a common reference to the stock market crash in 1869. That’s 1869, not 1929. Until I started digging into it, I don’t think I even knew a stock market existed back then, let alone such a thing as a crash. Specifically, it wasn’t actually stocks as we think of them today that crashed but the U.S. gold market. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers. Just for the record, the 1929 stock market crash actually spawned the terms Black Thursday and Black Monday, not Black Friday, but that’s another blog.

Black Friday came into common use once more in the 1950s when Philadelphia police used the term to describe the chaos of the day after Thanksgiving when hordes of people flooded the city in anticipation of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Philly cops had to work extra-long shifts instead of enjoying time with their families over the holiday. And you thought the football games were part of Thursday’s tradition…

And finally, our present day reference to the biggest shopping day of the year was coined by retailers. Supposedly, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers spent so much on discounted merchandise. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal. Recently, other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday have come into being.

So, will you be joining the throngs of shoppers storming the malls tomorrow looking for bargains? Maybe you’ll spend the day relaxing and enjoying your family. However, if you work in retail you might very possibly be exhausted by the end of the day! Whatever your plans, I leave you with this final thought. “Only one Black Friday offers eternal savings and it didn’t happen in November.”


Rand Stafford isn't looking for true love. He'd ridden that trail until his fiancée left him with a shattered heart. What he needs now is a wife to help him care for his orphan nieces. Desperate, he sends an advertisement to a Baltimore newspaper and hopes for the best.

Fleeing her former employer who would use her to further his unlawful acts, a newspaper advertisement reads like the perfect refuge to Carly Blair. The idea of escaping the city, the intrigue, and the danger to hide herself on a cattle ranch in Kansas is her best shot for freedom.

But its sanctuary comes with a price—a husband. While marrying a man she doesn't know or love means sacrificing her dreams, it's better than being caught by the law.

Or is it?


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Guest Post: A Portrait In Courage and Faithful Obedience

By Jennifer Z. Major

The year is 1918, and all across the world, The Great War and the Spanish Flu were killing millions.

You come home to find that your young adult daughter has disappeared, along with her beloved Corona typewriter, and her steamer trunk. You call out for her, but all you find is this letter...

Dear Mother and Father;-

When you read this I will be on the way to Toronto, and please do not mourn for me as one dead but as one who has been called to do a privileged work for the king of kings. I cannot say what I would like to, it is just as well that I cannot. (I) realize that it will be years before I see this home again, and then you may be living in some more suitable and even pleasanter place. There has never been such a heart wrench as this and never will be again, for each succeeding time it get easier to pull up stakes. My thought is not for myself but for the lonely days that you will be called to see, but remember you are sharing in the work of spreading the "Good News" and nothing worthwhile comes easy.

First Page of Mrs. H's Letter
© Jennifer Major

At home I would eventually become a nuisance, at my work I will be fulfilling the purpose for which I was created, and which you are one with me in. I look forward to the days when darkened by African suns with laurels won for the master. I shall spend pleasant days with you both, I know. I feel that you will both be spared to each other for many years, and take it easy. I have one request and that is that you both take time to read the Bible and pray every day for me. My love for you both has not often been apparent, but my heart holds no two others so dear.

I shall be happy in my work and you will be in yours and you will think of me in a different way than if I were unhappily married in some home.

Second Page of Mrs. H's Letter
© Jennifer Major

I would not change palaces tonight with any king. It is indeed a privilege to suffer with the Lord, and loneliness was one of His trials.

Though oceans will roll between (us), we are as near in heart as if I were in Toronto. God has been very good to us and we have been spared many a heart ache that others have had to go through. I will not be in danger that a nurse at the front will have to face before these days are over, and will return to you in His time. I wish I could express the feelings that well up in my heart at this moment, and the gratitude I feel for your kindness, of which I have often been most undeserving.

(I) forgive all that has been unkind as I know you have, and be cheerful for the sake of one that loves you.

Isaiah 41:10

                                                        Your loving daughter, Winifred.

Can you imagine the parents? I'd have fainted. Or worse.

My daughter? Running off to become a missionary during a war and a killer pandemic that was decimating the entire planet?

From this letter, which I corrected a bit for grammar and flow, it appears all was not well between her and her parents. But no matter what, Winifred was as brave as brave gets.

Mrs. H's Corona Typewriter
© Jennifer Major

And yes, Winifred survived her missionary adventures and returned home to Canada. I'm not exactly sure when she returned, but she was very special to my family. Many decades after this letter was written, my dad arrived in Canada and had nowhere to live. Someone gave him the name of an older lady who ran a rooming house in her big Victorian home. He lived there until he married my mother in 1975. She loved my dad like a son, which was a gift, when his own family was on the other side of the world.

She’s long gone, but never forgotten. I have her steamer trunk, and now her typewriter and farewell letter. I also have her bird's eye maple dresser, and her dining room table, at which I am sitting as I type this. I met her when I was younger, when I was too clueless to see beyond her white hair and her age. I wish I'd have known then what a courageous girl she was. She was a ground breaker for many women for whom more was out there, they just had to get from where they were stuck, to there.

Tell me your thoughts on the letter, I'm curious to know what you see between the lines.

The Isaiah verse is..."So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."


Bio: Jennifer Z. Major is a Vancouver native, now living in Eastern Canada. She and her tree scientist husband have four children. She's crisscrossed the American Southwest and Latin America several times, and hopped, skipped and jumped across Europe, once. She has written two novels based on Navajo history and will soon complete her third. She’s never been arrested, but takes fence-climbing very seriously.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Parade That is Full of Hot Air


Ad for first Macy's parade

 This year, Thanksgiving will be like no other.  But the one thing we can count on is the Macy’s Day Parade. It will be different, that’s for sure. But the parade has proven through the years that it can change with the times.

The first Macy's Day Parade took place on Christmas of 1924.  It was a publicity stunt meant to draw people to the Macy’s store in New York, and the gimmick worked. More than 250,000 people attended that parade and what a parade it was.

Horses pulled the floats along a six-mile route.  Organizers borrowed tigers, elephants, bears, and other wild animals from the zoo and marched them down the street, alongside clowns and people dressed as cowboys. That first parade was so successful, Macy’s decided to make it an annual event.

First Macy's parade featured zoo animals
But already changes  were in the works.  The six-mile route proved to be too much for the animals and their tired roars frightened young children. For that reason, Macy’s decided to do away with the animals, and introduced its first helium balloon in 1926, Felix the Cat.   

The balloon was a big hit, and soon other balloons joined Felix.  This solved the problem of frightened children but caused parade planners other headaches.  Having no way to deflate and store the balloons, officials simply let the balloons go and challenged bystanders to capture them.  Anyone doing so would earn a hundred-dollar reward.

The first balloon was Felix the Cat

The practice almost caused a disaster when the airplane of a student pilot collided with a balloon. The plane plummeted toward the ground, but the instructor was able to save the day.  That was the last year that Macy’s released the balloons.

Balloons aren’t cheap to make or operate.  They cost about $190,000 to build and $90,000 a year to maintain. They are also difficult to control.

Wind plays havoc with the balloons and one even caught fire when it hit telephone wires. For that reason, balloons can’t fly if sustained winds reach twenty-three mph.  Rain is another problem.  On two occasions, water collected in the hats of balloon characters and dumped gallons of water on spectators.

The parade was canceled three years during World War II.  Instead of using rubber to create balloons, Macy’s donated 650 pounds of it to the military Today, Balloons are constructed of polyurethane instead of rubber.

Macy’s is second only to the U.S. government in helium usage. During the helium shortage of 1958, parade organizers filled the balloons with regular air and hung them from cranes Balloons require 12,000 cubic feet of helium and it takes 90 minutes to fill each one and 90 handlers to keep it under control. 

Handlers can weigh no less than 120 pounds and must be in good health.  Balloon pilots lead the handlers by walking in front.  The job requires them to walk the entire parade route backwards and without falling.  Pilot training is offered three times a year.

The parade was almost canceled following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, but then organizers decided to go ahead as scheduled.  Macy’s hoped that the parade would raise the national spirit, and it did. We can only hope that our favorite parade will be just as successful in raising spirits this year.


One thing that remains the same;  The arrival of Santa.
One thing remains the same; the arrival of Santa!

                                Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving. 


 It was just his luck to have a run-in with a trigger-happy damsel.







Monday, November 23, 2020

WORDS, WORDS, WORDS: The Birth of the Dictionary

By Mary Davis

...and the Passion of Lexicographers.

In elementary school, when I couldn’t spell a word (which happened a lot having an undiagnosed learning disability) I would ask the teacher for help. The answer I would always get was, “Look it up in the dictionary.” This would frustrate me to no end. If I could spell it, then I could look it up. But since I couldn’t spell it, I couldn’t look it up to figure out how to spell it so I could look it up. I would return to my desk defeated.

Why am I telling you this? Because there was a time when teachers weren’t able to give you the impossible task of looking up something you didn’t know how to spell.

The earliest known dictionaries date back to 2300 BC. These were uniform tablets consisting of word lists from one language to another.

Through the centuries and across numerous countries, other dictionaries were created. Many not more than these word lists and glossaries, and all contained only a small portion of words from the culture.

One of the first to include definitions and etymologies came out of Ireland in the 9th century, consisting of 1,400 Irish words.

There had been "hard word" dictionaries for a few hundred years. A "hard word" dictionary was a compilation of words people might not know, leaving out all common words. But just who determined which words most people wouldn’t know?

Though various cultures have had their own version of dictionaries, I want to focus on English ones or we'll be here all day. The first English dictionaries were glossaries of French, Spanish, and Latin words with explanations of their meanings. In 1220, John of Garland, an Englishman, invented the word “dictionary.” Richard Mulcaster, in 1582, created the Elementarie, an early non-alphabetical list of 8,000 English words. (How would you ever find the word you want if it wasn’t alphabetical? Dictionaries are cumbersome enough without throwing the words in at random. In truth, they were mostly by topic.)

In 1604, Robert Cawdrey, an English schoolteacher, created A Table Alphabeticall, the first Alphabetical dictionary. (Thank you, Cawdrey.) Though considered the standard by which other dictionaries imitated, it was unreliable and not definitive.

Throughout the 1600s, various dictionaries were published by people who felt what their predecessors created wasn’t good enough. Everyone tried to improve on what was out there, but no one really did. Because there was no single, definitive source, sometimes in old documents and writings, words would be spelled different ways.

The first “modern” dictionary, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) by Samuel Johnson, was more reliable than earlier forerunners of dictionaries. For over 150 years, Johnson’s dictionary was the standard in England.


Meanwhile across the Atlantic Ocean, American Noah Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language.


But Webster didn’t stop there. He began compiling a new version, expanded and fully comprehensive, in 1807 called An American Dictionary of the English Language. This took him twenty-seven years to complete. In order to evaluate the etymology of words, he learned twenty-six languages, including French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, German, Italian, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic, and Old English (Anglo-Saxon). (That is dedication.)

Webster's dictionary contained 70,000 words, 12,000 of which had never appeared in any dictionary before. It was Webster who changed many words from the British spelling to something simpler. For instance, he removed the “u” from such words as colour and honour making them color and honor, changing the “re” and the end of some words like theatre and centre making them theater and center, and waggon to wagon. He also added American words like skunk and squash that weren’t in British dictionaries. In 1840, a two-volume second edition was published. In 1843, his dictionary was acquired by G & C Merriam Co and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary was born.


For some time, British academics wanted a definitive collection of ALL the words in use with spelling and definitions, but they didn’t have anyone willing to tackle the humongous task. A committee (formed in 1857) was seeking a person to undertake and oversee the endeavor of creating a comprehensive, single-source for words. Different people were in charge of the project, but none made significant progress until James Murray came along in the 1870s.


The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) didn’t happen overnight. It took nearly fifty years to complete, and encompassed twelve large volumes, which were released as they were finished. The first volume of The Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1884. The OED was completed in 1928.

Today, most people consider the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and The Oxford English Dictionary to be the definitive sources on English words.

I can’t imagine the undertaking it was to create a credible dictionary. I’m glad I didn’t have to complete such a task.

THE DAMSEL’S INTENT (The Quilting Circle Book 3) #TheDamselsIntent #HistoricalRomance #FreeKU #KU #ChristianRomance
Can Nicole learn to be enough of a lady to snag the handsome rancher?
   Nicole Waterby heads down the mountain to fetch herself a husband, not realizing women don’t wear trousers or carry a gun. She has a lot to learn. Rancher Shane Keegan has drifted from one location to another to find a place to belong. When Nicole crosses his path, he wonders if he can have love, but he soon realizes she’s destined for someone better than a saddle tramp. Will love stand a chance while both Nicole and Shane try to be people they’re not?

Free on Kindle Unlimited, or $2.99 to buy ebook.

MARY DAVIS s a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her 2018 titles include; "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides CollectionCourting Her Amish HeartThe Widow’s PlightCourting Her Secret Heart , “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection , and Courting Her Prodigal Heart . 2019 titles include The Daughter's Predicament and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-six years and one cats. She has three adult children and three incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at: