Tough Women Used to be the Rule…

I love learning about the women who settled America. As a breeder of German Shepherds, I seek out certain characteristics and temperaments to create the best dogs possible. For a long time, America was no different. The bloodlines were amazing.

The people who thrived here were independent, strong willed, stubborn, adventurous risk-takers.

Just this morning I read the story of Sarah Thal, a German-Jewish immigrant who came to America with her husband in 1880. The couple settled in North Dakota. Her first child was born in a cabin so full of cracks that a make-shift tent was made around her and the baby. They literally camped in front of the fireplace to keep warm. She watched prairie fires light up the distant sky on more than one occasion.  She lost a baby because 10 feet of snow prevented her from getting to a doctor. This was Sarah’s existence. It never broke her. She didn’t let it turn her into a bitter old woman. She accepted God’s will and plowed on.

One year the German community decided to get together and celebrate the 4th of July. It was a 22-mile trip each way for the Thal’s to attend, but they were proud and eager to do so. As she wrote in a letter, “Each foreign colony celebrated in their own fashion, loyal to the traditions of the old land and faithful to those of the new. . . .”

Unfortunately, stout bloodlines like this are getting “watered down.” It’s a shame. American women were strong and resilient as a rule, the toughest in the world. Today, I think women like Sarah are the exception, which is why it’s important to remember them!


TX, SC & AZ Have the REAL Tea Partiers!

Wanna know where your representative stood on the debt ceiling compromise? I’ve pulled together the list of the Hobbits who dug in and held their ground. In short, there were 66, but the stand-outs are Texas, Arizona, SC and GA because more than one representative raised his arms and yelled, “You shall not pass!” Kudos to them!

To SEE the votes and REMEMBER:

Needless to say, these folks have targets on their heads, drawn by BOTH parties. Let them know you support Hobbits! Go, Frodo!

Marrying the Preacher’s Daughter–June Cleaver’s Got Nothing on Her

Just read my first “e-book.” No, I don’t own a kindle or a Nook. I read straight from my laptop. Since I spend more time with it than my own children, it seems a waist to add yet another gadget into my life. So when I had a few minutes, I indulged in a light story called Marrying the Preacher’s Daughter by Cheryl St. John. Yeah, kind of cute and fluffy, but still an engaging story. Sort of like a potato chip, it didn’t offer a lot of substance. However, like a good, salty chip, it left me wanting more.

Marrying the Preacher’s Daughter revolves around head-strong Elizabeth Hart who doesn’t think she can love a man who isn’t just like her father, a minister and Father of the Year nominee. Gabe Taggart has left his life of bounty hunting behind to settle down and make a home for him and his little sister Irene. Elizabeth fights the attraction tooth and nail, convinced any man who lives by the gun has got to be a shady character. Never mind the fact that Gabe is a decent, honorable man who never let his profession dictate his morals. Quite the contrary. This pleasant little read is full of likable characters, happy families, good neighbors, small town morals, and bad guys who get their come-uppance asap. It’s the sort of book June Cleaver would write—and that’s a good thing.

I suppose if I had one complaint, it’s the way the attraction between Gabe and Elizabeth is handled. We’re led to believe that Gabe has never been with another woman, of questionable virtue or otherwise. Elizabeth is a virtuous, virginal twenty-something. When their lips first meet, Elizabeth finds herself thinking of her father’s admonition that kissing is a prelude to marriage. I found myself thinking, Really? That’s what you’re thinking now? We women all know that when you get a kiss that steels your breath, you’re not hearing your dad’s voice in your head. Your heart is pounding; your senses come alive; your brain stops; you feel sinew and muscles beneath your fingers, etc., etc. All the intimate moments in the book lack this vivid blitz on the senses—you know, the sublime descriptions that pull you into the experience.

Cheryl St. John is a great writer, but I felt that the passion between the two main characters was handled with kid gloves. Consequently, it fizzled a bit. All in all, though, I heartily recommend Marrying the Preacher’s Daughter if you’re looking for a fun, quick, wholesome summer read. Grab a bag of chips, load up the book on your Kindle (or laptop) and settle in.

Betty Zane– the Way Kids Used to be

Kids these days…are they really that different than previous generations? If Jerod Lee Loughner, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are examples, I’m thinkin, “Yup.” Something diabolic is destroying their minds. Perhaps it is just the conspiracy theorist in me, but it seems the more we rag on America, the more we get kicked in the gut. There was a time when the good ol’ US of A was a country worth fighting for; now she only seems good for target practice. When I think back on the patriots, especially the women patriots, who risked everything for the mere idea of America, I want to hang my head in shame…or throttle someone. There are a few patriots in our past I wish I could bring forth to chastise us.

Take, for example, Betty Zane. In September of 1872, the Zane family and their neighbors were pinned down in Fort Henry by British and American Indians sympathetic to the British. Fort Henry was a parallelogram, 356 feet long and 150 feet wide, on a hillside overlooking the Ohio River, standing at what is now Tenth and Main streets in Wheeling, [WV] surrounded by a stockade fence twelve feet high, and framed by a three-foot walkway running around the inside. It was practically impregnable so long as supplies lasted.1 When the fort commander, David Shepherd (ironically the name of my literary agent), yelled out that gunpowder was running dangerously low, three men volunteered to slip outside the fort and hunt for some. An argument quickly developed, however, as each man asserted he was more expendable than the others. Betty Zane, a mere girl of only 13, said firmly, “I will go,” and volunteered to retrieve a hidden cache of gunpowder from her brother’s home a hundred yards outside the fort. This was an amazing offer as Betty had been awake for nearly 40 hours, making lead balls. Still, she was the only person who knew where her brother had hidden the gunpowder. She further argued that the enemy outside the gate would let her pass, since a twig of a girl certainly could pose no threat to them.

She snuck outside the fort but was spotted almost immediately by Indians…who—strangely—let her pass. She went home, found the keg of powder, poured as much of it as possible into her apron (some say a tablecloth) and returned to the fort—unmolested. Thanks to Betty’s courage, the folks in the fort outlasted the attack and won the battle.

No matter upon what side of the political fence you fall, you have to admit that stunt took courage. If today’s generation can’t get their heads out of the Prozac and video games long enough to find their own courage within, I dare say America doesn’t stand a fighting chance. The kids don’t shoulder the blame alone, though. As parents, it is clearly our responsibility to shape minds, limit TV time, pull the plug on FB and Youtube, engage with our children, and get them involved in nation-building—ours! Come on, I know there’s a Betty Zane out there somewhere.


SC GRITS Beat the Brits Every Time…

When I research stories on patriot women who have changed or are changing history, it’s never a surprise to find multiple versions of the same tale. Wherein lies the truth? Well, that’s pretty hard to distinguish sometimes, but where the stories overlap is a pretty good indication you’re on the right track. The other thing I’ve noticed: those gals from the South were pretty saucy wenches!  They were constantly a burr under the English saddle…

Take the story of Emily Geiger, for example. In 1781, Nathanael Green, commander of the Colonial forces in the South, besieged South Carolina’s Fort Ninety-Six. The action drew the British forces of Francis Lord Rawdon into the area and Greene knew he would need reinforcements to hold the fort. General Thomas Sumpter was nearby, but Greene needed a courier willing to traverse the Tory-infested countryside and deliver the message. There was not exactly a rush to volunteer for the high-risk assignment. This is evident from the fact that a woman stepped up.

We don’t know how it came about, but an eighteen-year-old girl living on a nearby farm offered to carry the message to Sumpter. Many accounts say that Emily Geiger took this perilous journey alone; other legends say she had a friend–a young girl named Rebecca Starke. I’m inclined to believe that two girls traveling together would have drawn less attention than one; after all, what father would let his daughter travel alone in the middle of a war?

Whether Emily was alone or not is irrelevant to the fact that she was intercepted the first day by British forces. Unable to tell a lie without blushing, the soldiers’ suspicions were raised by her red cheeks and sent for an “old Tory matron” to search her. Obviously these guards were straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean as they left Emily alone whilst they all waited on the interrogator. Emily, who had already committed the message to memory, simply ate the paper, disposing of the evidence. Well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

She, and possibly her friend, were released, and continued on their two-day route to Sumpter, delivering the critical message orally. Sumpter came to Green’s aid and the two held the fort. Squeezed between two hostile forces, the British were pushed grudgingly toward the coast, and the rest is history. Emily had played her brief-but-pivotal role in the war and lives now in the loving arms of South Carolina’s devoted historical societies.

Gotta love those GRITS (for you non-Southerners, that’s Girls Raised in the South).

Chief’s Daughter Makes Dramatic Contribution to the Revolutionary War

The following is a guest post by my friend John. He’s the descendant of a real American Hero. Gosh, you just can’t beat those clever Revolutionary women with a stick. The British found that out the hard way.

This is the story of my ancestors who played an interesting role in revolutionary history and the local history as well.

                The genealogy of this story is, in itself, interesting enough. The Poindexter family is a direct line to my mothers side of the family, the Matthews. My great grandmother was originally a Poindexter before marriage. And there have been many other cross family tree connections since the early 1700’s. The focus of my story however, begins with Betty Donnaha. She was the daughter of the Indian chief of the Donnaha tribe which was localized around the Yadkin River basin. As a side note, Wake Forest excavated their tribal site and exhumed many remains  and artifacts which are now on display, in fact, my great grandfather X10 is on display in the exhibit. His Daughter Betty Donnaha eventually married Thomas Pledge who had two children, Elizabeth Pledge and Francis Pledge. Where it gets interesting is with Elizabeth, who eventually married Thomas Poindexter.

                Elizabeth and Thomas Poindexter lived together close to their family in Yadkin county, eventually having 12 children total. And when the revolutionary war began Thomas Poindexter served the revolutionary forces as a captain in charge of a regiment of revolutionists. They were critical in the skirmishes around the Yadkin river. Especially in the battle of Shallowford. Since Thomas Poindexter was away with the revolutionary forces Elizabeth was left alone at home with the British being very close by. To aid the war effort Elizabeth began sewing secret messages and military correspondence in her daughters dresses, and then sent them on “errands” through British lines. She did this throughout the conflict and after the war was recognized for her bravery in wartime. Today she is recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution and they have recognized her significance in the revolutionary war in the North Carolina region.

                To be able to trace my family history back so far in North Carolina is a point of pride for much of my family. My grandfather was a historian and he went to great lengths to paint a clearer picture of the influential role that our family has played in the region. From the early family settling in the late 1600’s through my grandfather myself who was influential in establishing several state parks and even more protected land that is local to our home place. And since his passing it has become a point of interest of mine to go through these documents to get a clearer idea of our families history as well. And as a reward I get to come across stories such as the one i just told.

I Can See Sarah Palin in the White House, But…

With the debut of her now show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, I thought I’d weigh in on the side of folks who like Sarah. There are quite a few of us, though the mainstream media and Republican party elites would have you think otherwise. “But could she be president?” I find myself wondering.

I, for one, hold Sarah in high regard. I can’t help myself. The two of us have too much in common. I enjoy a lazy, Sunday afternoon of shooting. The bigger the gun, the bigger the fun! A country girl, I have been looked down upon because I’m from the mountains of Western North Carolina (therefore I must be inbred and illiterate). I’ve been treated poorly simply because I am female (and being blonde clearly didn’t help). I’ve been heckled for supporting the Tea Party. A firm Christian, I’ve watched my faith get steam-rolled under the pavement of political correctness. I am an unswerving pro-lifer for very personal reasons. I think no law or person should usurp authority granted by the United States Constitution. Free enterprise should be carefully, thoughtfully regulated. Taxes should be lower. Our military stronger. And I never give up.

You get the picture. Seeing all these similarities between Sarah and myself, I can’t help but wonder how I would feel if she did decide to run for the highest office in the land. From my puny, human perspective, I don’t think she’s the best choice. Not from any perceived weaknesses, mind you. After her “education” in the campaign of ‘08, she has obviously learned a lot. I’d be shocked if she ever has another interview like the Katie Couric debacle. The left has used up their aces when it comes to Sarah. After suffering through a reputation evisceration that even struck at her infant son, I believe she’s ready for anything now. As my daddy would say, she is tougher than lighter knot. For you non-Southerners, lighter knot is the heart of an oak. It is so hard you can’t drive a nail through it, and once lit, it will burn for days.

Still, I don’t think she’s the chosen one. If the Republican Party and the Tea Partiers could pull their acts together, literally, I can’t think of one reason why Allen West wouldn’t work. Allen B. West is the U.S. Representative-elect for Florida’s 22nd congressional district and he is a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel. America has always done well when we’ve had retired military in the White House. I offer as proof George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower. Oh, and he’s black. I guess us Tea Partiers aren’t so racist after all.

But what if Sarah was nominated to run? The bottom line for me is, if God calls her, he’ll equip her. I’ll pray for her and I will support her. Sarah definitely has gifts and talents and I believe she’ll use them to the benefit of our country. I just don’t think she’ll do so from the Oval Office.

No, I Won’t Live in Defiance, Thank You.

Funny how authors seem to dip from the same cosmic well. They can write completely different novels, never meet each other or share information, yet similarities in the books can be staggering, even shocking. I’ve had this experience with my book, Living in Defiance. But rather than point out some spooky similarities between it and another author’s story, I want to talk about where fact and fiction meet.

Defiance is a fictional town in the San Juan mountain range of Colorado. The history of it is based loosely on the bawdy mining town of Mineral Point. In my story, three good, Christian girls roll into town and shake things up for God.

To my delight, I learned recently that the REAL town of Glenwood Springs, CO used to be named Defiance! And what happened to change the name? Why, a God-fearing, red-blooded American girl rolled into town. That’s what happened.

Sarah Cooper and her husband settled in the encampment of Defiance in 1883. A pair of no-nonsense Iowans, they weren’t thrilled with the name of the town or the behavior of the citizens and worked with the founders to incorporate the settlement into a real municipality. Law and order and churches followed and Sarah pushed to rename Defiance Glenwood Springs, after her hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.

Give an American pioneer woman an inch and she’ll take a mile every time. I love it.

Yet Another Pesky, Patriotic American Woman


Some plants die in the shadow of a larger, more powerful plant. Others thrive. Take Sarah Franklin Bach. You might know her father, Ben. He was involved in politics. Worked on that little thing called a Constitution. Liked to fly kites in electrical storms. Yes, that Ben.

Sarah was a chip off the old block. At a time when women were barely more than wives and mothers, the war for independence called to them. And American men, being smarter than their counterparts elsewhere, recognized the value of the feminine contribution to the effort. Even Lord Cornwallis grudgingly accepted that his men weren’t fighting just farmers with pitchforks and sickles, but that they were fighting the wives as well. He didn’t say that jokingly. American women were different. They were feisty and uncontrollable. England mocked them, but always with a nervous tug at the collar.

Sarah, of course, grew up in an educated, opinionated household. Often acting as the hostess for her father’s gatherings, she picked up more than her womanly share of political information. When war finally broke out between the Colonials and their King, Sarah was one of the first women to jump into the fray. She immediately joined The Ladies Association of Philadelphia, a patriotic organization aimed at raising funds for Gen. Washington’s pitifully outfitted army. When the group’s organizer passed away, again Sarah stepped up. As the new leader of this unsung group, Sarah motivated the ladies to raise over $300,000! That’s money even politicians today wouldn’t snub. Back then, it was the equivalent of well over $3 million!

Perhaps Sarah’s greatest contribution is the fact that her group managed to sew over 2,000 shirts AND deliver them to the troops at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78.

Samuel Adams, of the Sons of Liberty, the group responsible for the Boston Tea Party, reportedly said, “With ladies on our side, we can make every Tory tremble.” Now that’s a heritage to be proud of. Jump in the fray, ladies, and make your voices heard on Tuesday, November 2!

Say, for a male soldier, isn’t he missing something?


“We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women.” Lord Cornwallis, a British Commander.

In the fall of 1878, Deborah Samson, at the fiery age of 18, enlisted in the Continental Army…as a man. Spending the next three years as Robert Shirtliffe, Deborah did her part to secure liberty and freedom for America. She served in various capacities under Capt. Nathan Thayer and proved herself a capable, willing, and courageous Massachusetts soldier.

Talk about fight like a girl…Never one to run from a battle, Deborah dove right in with the best and the bravest. She was shot once in the leg, nicked in the head by a British sword, then shot again in the other leg. All three times she refused medical attention so as not to have her ruse discovered. Unfortunately, she came down with a “brain fever” in 1781 and was treated by a Dr. Binney of Philadelphia. Imagine his surprise!

He forthwith moved Deborah to his own home for recovery and sent a note to Capt. Thayer. Upon her recovery, Deborah was called to General Washington’s office. The legends differ here on what exactly happened next. Some say she was asked to deliver papers to the General, at which point he gave her the papers of discharge. Other stories say she delivered the papers, was called back to pick up new dispatches, and then Gen. Washington handed her the discharge papers. What all the stories agree on is that Washington chose not to publicly reprimand or embarrass Deborah. He handed her the discharge papers, without comment, and also handed her the soldier’s pay due her, and a note of advice. The note was lost to history, but knowing General Washington’s respect for women and his wry sense of humor, it probably said something to the effect of, “Now that you’ve shown my men how to fight, I think it is time you return to the duties of your fair sex. Thank you for your service to your country.”

Eventually, Deborah married a farmer named Gannet and had (naturally) three daughters. Ironically, she named the youngest one Patience.

An American girl after my own heart.