The Chilling Story of the Pied Piper

by Sandra Merville Hart

A recent trip to the beautiful German village of Frankenmuth, Michigan, brought the story behind The Pied Piper to my attention. The tower at the Bavarian Inn tells the story periodically throughout the day to the background of a piper’s music.

A little girl danced to the tune while the story unfolded. I didn’t hear the whole story but learned it was a true one.

It’s a chilling, terrible tale from 1284 AD.

The town of Hamelin in Lower Saxony, Germany, had a problem with rat infestations. A pied piper (“pied” referred to his multicolor clothing) came to town. He promised the leaders that he could solve the problem. They promised to pay him.

The piper played, leading the rats to the Weser River where the rodents drowned.

When he went to collect his payment, the town leaders refused to give him the whole amount. This enraged the musician.

Adults were at church on Saint John and Paul’s Day (June 26th) when the pied piper returned. He played for the children who danced to the music. One-hundred thirty children danced and followed the piper from the village up near the Koppenberg (mountain.)

The Frankenmuth story said that two children were too little to keep up with the older ones. Other versions state that two or three children stayed behind—one blind, one deaf, and one lame. These children told the adults what happened.

Parents listened in horror. Their children had vanished.

Villagers searched for them. Tragically, they were never found.

What happened to them is a mystery. Some believe the piper sold them to recoup his money. One such theorist believes they went to Poland, where derivations of German names common to thirteenth-century Hamelin are found.

Another theory is that the piper forced the children to walk into the Weser River, just as he had done to the rats, and they drowned.

Another theory is he took them to Koppenberg Mountain.

There is a plaque etched in stone on a Pied Piper house that was built in 1602. It bears testimony that 130 Hamelin children were led from town on June 26, 1284 A.D. The children disappeared forever.

The Church of Hamelin, built around 1300, had a stained-glass window telling the Pied Piper story.

Written records of the event begin in 1384 in Hamelin. “It is 100 years since our children left.”

Tragically, this is a true tale.

I remember watching that little girl dance with joy to the music as the tale of the pied piper unfolded. To think it really happened that way chills me.

A cautionary tale, indeed.


“Pied Piper of Hamelin,” Wikipedia, 2021/07/26

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Hameln,”, 2021/07/26

“The Grim Truth Behind the Pied Piper,”, 2021/07/26


Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

by Sandra Merville Hart

Newberry Honor Book

I read this book as a child and loved it. When I read it as an adult, I saw other levels of meaning.

This book is about friendship. Wilbur the pig is the runt of the litter. Fern, a little girl on the farm where the pig lives, rescues him and raises the farm animal as her pet.

Wilbur becomes friends with Charlotte, a spider in the barn where they both live. When the pig learns he’s in danger, he turns to Charlotte. This amazing spider helps him.

The characters in this story are believable and relatable. Friendship and sacrifice are part of this classic children’s story.

Recommend for children in elementary school.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

by Sandra Merville Hart

Book 4 of the Little House series

I loved this book!

I found this book among my daughter’s childhood collection and read it. What a refreshing read!

Laura Ingalls is seven when her family moves to Minnesota. Their first home is a sod home by Plum Creek, and they all have much to learn about living there—including what the term “grasshopper weather” implies.

Her father plants a wheat crop that will pay for a new home and buy many things the family has had to do without. Then tragedy strikes.

I love Laura’s feisty character and how she longs to be more like her older sister Mary, who is always obedient. Every character is well-defined and lovable.

The descriptions of everyday life and Laura’s new experiences captivated me as a reader. As an author of historical novels set in American history, those details took on deeper meaning. I loved it!

I read some of this series as a child. I look forward to reading the whole collection!

Recommend for children in elementary school and for lovers of American history.

Homemade Granola Bars

by Sandra Merville Hart

I was looking for a new dessert or snack to take to a family reunion. An easy-to-hold dessert is the one most folks tend to grab at picnics. Pies and cakes are delicious but don’t fit this description. Cookies are my old standby so I wanted to steer away from them.

Then I discovered a recipe on the Food Network for homemade granola bar treats from Molly Yeh. I enjoy watching her show “Girl Meets Farm” and was excited to try it.

I followed the recipe that included some choices. I chose sweetened condensed milk over coconut milk.

Molly leaves the nut or seed butter up to the cook but has her preferences. I used almond butter instead of cashew butter or tahini—a delicious choice!

Her recipe calls for quick-cooking oats. I had the old-fashioned whole grain oats in my pantry so I used those.

I used roasted cashews, almonds, and peanuts.

These are delicious! Chewy. Packed with healthy ingredients. Filling—one bar is all you need.

This was the first time I made these treats. Next time I will give the cashews a quick chop before adding them. I’ll also try the quick-cooking oats, which I believe will hold together better.

I will definitely make these again. Enjoy!


Yeh, Molly. “Homemade Granola Bar Treats,” Food Network, 2021/08/20

Summer Kitchens in the 1800s

Cindy Ervin Huff, fellow author in “The Cowboys,” has a new historical romance book release that I loved! Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Cindy!

by Cindy Ervin Huff

In my newest Release Rescuing Her Heart, Delilah James wants to start a bakery to provide for herself by baking in her employer Genny Holt’s kitchen and sending baked goods to the mercantile in town. Genny persuades her husband to build a summer kitchen for baking and canning in the sweltering heat.

This was not unusual request, considering there were no air conditioners or fans in the 1870s. Many families had some sort of summer kitchen.

Some women did all the cooking for the day in the morning, so the house could cool off before evening. Then the cold food was eaten throughout the day.

For the wealthy, it comprised a brick building in the back of the house near the main kitchen. They did all the cooking and canning in the summer kitchen throughout the warm months. Middle-class families might have a summer porch for cooking or a small, roofed area out back with a stove. Others resorted to building a campfire away from the house to keep the heat out of their homes.

My heroine Delilah James helps Genny Holt do canning and baking in a summer kitchen built by Lonnie and Jed Holt. The ranch has a large garden and some of what is canned, along with the baked goods, are sold in town.

They furnished the summer kitchen with a preparation table, a stove and shelves. Utensils, pots and pans came from the main kitchen.

I am so grateful for air-conditioning so I can cook in comfort throughout the summer!

About Cindy

Cindy Ervin Huff is an Award-winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She loves infusing hope into her stories of broken people. She addicted to reading and chocolate. Her idea of a vacation is visiting historical sites and an ideal date with her hubby of almost fifty years would be live theater.

Visit her at her blog.

Rescuing Her Heart

As her husband’s evil deeds haunt a mail-order bride from the grave, can she learn to trust again and open her heart to true love? Jed has his own nightmares from a POW camp and understands Delilah better than she knows herself. Can two broken people form a forever bond?

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

by Sandra Merville Hart

Winner of the Newbery Medal

This simple children’s story gripped me from the first page.

The story opens with Anna’s mother giving birth to Caleb. Her mother died the next day and it took three days for Anna to love her brother.

Several years pass. Readers aren’t told how old the children are when her father places an ad for a mail-order bride. Sarah writes that she will come for one month … just to try it.

On the prairie, Anna and Caleb are desperate for a mother. Will she stay?

I love the characters in this story. It drew me in so that I wanted to keep reading. The story is told entirely from Anna’s perspective.

Another thing I loved is how children will read it on one level and adults will see another level of meaning.

Recommend for elementary and middle grade readers!

Southern Lady, Yankee Spy by Elizabeth R. Varon

by Sandra Merville Hart

The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew,

A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy

I discovered this book while researching to write my “Spies of the Civil War” series. The second and third book in my series are set in Richmond, Virginia, in 1862. I wanted to learn more about Richmond’s most famous Union spy, Elizabeth Van Lew.

The author of this biography gives her childhood background and a bit of her family history as well yet the main focus is the Civil War years.

Plenty of important historical events connected with war happened in Richmond. Elizabeth wasn’t the only Union supporter—called Unionists—during the war. Others worked as spies for the North. We know the most about the activities of Elizabeth Van Lew.

A well-written and compassionate biography of Elizabeth’s life.  

Irish Brown Bread

Welcome to friend and fellow author, Cindy Thomson. She has written Irish historical novels and nonfiction Irish books. I read her latest book, Celtic Wanderings, and loved this devotional book! She is sharing a recipe for Brown Bread. Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Cindy!

by Cindy Thomson

I have a fascination with the history of Ireland and the Celtic nations. My latest book, Celtic Wanderings, is inspired by the early Celtic Christians. It’s a devotional that I hope will guide readers along that wandering path we all must traverse in life. My first published novel, Brigid of Ireland, is my interpretation of the early life of one of Ireland’s patron saints (along with Patrick and Columba).

At one of my first appearances at a book club, the hostess had attempted to make food pertaining to the novel. She said she found that challenging. After all, we are talking about the 5th century! Many people in Ireland celebrate St. Brigid’s Day by making brown bread, so I think that’s a good choice. They ate bread back then as they do now, with lots of butter (Kerrygold)! Add a cuppa of strong Barry, Lyon’s, or Bewley’s tea and that’s about as Irish as it gets!

Irish Brown Bread

1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

½ Tbsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

¾ cup wholemeal flour (you can use whole wheat or look for the authentic stuff online)

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup steel cut oats

2 ¼ cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease 8-by-4-inch loaf pan.

Sift all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt.

Add remaining dry ingredients and mix with pastry cutter or with hands.

Add buttermilk and mix with hands but try not to overwork the dough or it may become tough.

Pour into loaf pan and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon rolled oats.

Place in oven, bake for 20 minutes, rotate and bake 20 more minutes.

Allow bread to cool before slicing. Keep remaining bread refrigerated.

About Cindy Thomson

Known for the inspirational Celtic theme employed in most of her books, Cindy Thomson is the author of six novels and five non-fiction books. A genealogy enthusiast, she writes from her home in Ohio where she lives with her husband Tom near their three grown sons and their families. Visit her online at

Celtic Wanderings: Daily inspiration from ancient Celtic voices.

Inspired by stories of ancient Celtic saints, this devotional will guide you and inspire you along the often winding path of life. Structured to be flexible to fit the natural flow of your day or evening, offering both challenge and wisdom, this devotional makes a great gift for others and for yourself.

Purchase her books!


by Sandra Merville Hart

A friend of mine spent a long weekend in the quaint Michigan town of Frankenmuth. She and her husband had such a fun time exploring, shopping, and eating delicious meals that we planned a short vacation getaway.

My husband and I went with family for a long weekend. It’s a beautiful German village. If you stay in the middle of town as we did, you’ll be within easy walking distance of most shops and restaurants because the main part of the village is about a mile long.

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland will put you in the mood for Christmas no matter what time of year you visit! The world’s largest Christmas store is packed with unique items, decorations, and ornaments—all beautifully arranged. It even has a snack bar. My husband found a Christmas gift for me and shooed me away to another end of the vast store the size of 1 ½ football fields. I didn’t see the gift yet but I hope it’s from one particular display. 😊

The river was too high for us to take a riverboat cruise on the Bavarian Belle. Instead, we spent an enjoyable afternoon strolling the cobblestone paths at Frankenmuth River Place, making some fun purchases, and eating ice cream.

We ate at several restaurants and liked all of them. The Bavarian Inn Restaurant stands out for me. Two people ordered the fried chicken that they’re rightly famous for and I ordered a new German dish. Another restaurant I particularly liked was Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. The fine dining restaurant had a long wait so we ate at the cafeteria style one on the lower level—a delicious choice for lunch.

If you want to try your hand at pretzel making, reserve a spot weeks ahead. Indoor waterparks and ziplining are other family fun adventures to include in your visit.

All in all, it’s a great place for a fun family weekend.


“Fun Things to Do in Little Bavaria,” Frankenmuth Michigan’s Little Bavaria, 2021/07/26

Sarah’s Choice by Pegg Thomas

by Sandra Merville Hart

Forts of Refuge Series

Book One

Wow! This story gripped me from the first page.

Sarah Feight’s life on the 1763 Pennsylvania frontier felt like paradise.  She lives with her husband David in their wilderness clearing near his two brothers and their families. One tragic, brutal night changes everything.

Leith McCully, a friend of the Feight brothers, rescues Sarah and takes her to Fort Pitt where many settlers have sought refuge from the Ottawa, Chippewa, and other tribes.

Believable characters touched my heart with their struggles. These are characters I learned to love and hope to see more of in future books in the series.

Well-written. Heart-wrenching. Action-packed. Steeped in historical events. Full of twists and turns I didn’t anticipate. I couldn’t put it down!

I will look for more books by this author. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!