Thursday, March 15, 2018

History unfolded

Sometimes there are books that are irreplaceable. I originally bought The Complete Works of the Mayflower Pilgrim by Caleb H. Johnson to do research for my novel Murder in Caleb's Landing. It was a limited edition and back in the 90s I paid $125 for it. Similar books by Johnson are now available at Amazon.

I've kept the book, not for cozy bedtime reading, but it is fun to open to any page for an insight into another time every now and then.

"I understand from Mr. Prence, who had it from an Indian of good esteem amongst them, that the Narraganansetts (sic) prepare for war, that the Mohawks have promised to aid them with a thousand men in the spring." William Bradford

"They lay a false charge upon the churches in affirming 'that Christian vigilance is now may exercised towards such as are not in church fellowship.'" Edward Winslow

"These people are not (as some have thought) a dull of slender-witted people, but very ingenious and very subtle." Thomas Morton about Indians.

"It pleased God to take away, by death, Mr. William Paddy, who was a precious servant of Christ." Nathaniel Morton.

There is a section of the wills with inventories.

Mary Ring left to her son "all my brass and pewter." She also left him her bed and two white blankets.

Samuell Eaton of Middleberry left:
  • 3 cows
  • 2 two-yeer (sic)old heiffer and one, one-yeer old.
  • 2 colts
  • 2 mare
  • a horse
  • undisclosed number of swine
He also elaborated on his tools, ground Indian corn. He must have been wealthy for his day. His debts were a fraction of the value of what he left behind, although by today's standards he would be poor.

Matthew Slade wrote to Sir Dudley Carleton about a missing William Brewster.

And then there is "A PARTICULAR ANSWER TO THE Manifold Slanderers and Abominable Falsehoods contained in an article called Simplicities defense against Seven-headed Policy: Wherein Samuel Gorton, desperately dangerous to his Countrymen the English in New England and notorious slanderous in what he he hath Printed of them. This is not a catchy title but probably a 1600s version of fake news concerns pre-Internet.

As a modern writer, I want to edit, edit, edit, the flowery language and standardize the spelling.

The respect I have for Johnson in bringing together all this material has no limit.

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