North Carolina’s Mt. Airy is a Trip back to Mayberry

by Sandra Merville Hart

My husband is a big fan of the 60s TV show, The Andy Griffith Show, so when we planned a trip over the summer to North Carolina, it included a stop in Mount Airy.

Andy Taylor, the show’s main character, is raising his son with the help of his aunt in the small fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. The sheriff’s family, the deputy, town barber, school teacher, mayor, and so many others tugged at our hearts. We fell in love with Mayberry.

It turns out that the fictional town is inspired by Andy Griffith’s home town of Mount Airy.

We arrived late in the day and ate at Walker’s Soda Fountain. It had a nostalgic feel that welcomed us right away. My husband let me try his chocolate milk shake—delicious! The owner discovered we were there to see “Mayberry” and shared many fun facts about the town with us.

One was that Andy Griffith worked in the drug store (formerly known as Lamm Drug Store) that is now Walker’s Soda Fountain. Another is that all the Mayberry locations mentioned in the show are real.

Several of the locations visitors will associate with the show are on or near Main Street. Floyd’s City Barber Shop, a Mayberry police squad car, Opie’s Candy Store, and other shops are on Main Street. Andy Griffith’s Homeplace is a short drive away.

There’s an Andy Griffith Museum, Andy Griffith Playhouse, Wally’s Service Station, and Mayberry Replica Courthouse that will give fans of the show feelings of nostalgia.

There are a few shops on Main Street. I’m sure we would have enjoyed the Good Time Trolley Tours, but we arrived as some places were closing.

If you’re a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, I think you’ll enjoy a day’s visit to this town. Arrive around lunch to eat at a diner. Shop. Enjoy an ice cream. Drive or stroll to the bronze statue of Andy and Opie walking to the fishing hole.

It was an enjoyable visit for everyone in our group.     

Sources

Mount Airy North Carolina, 2021/08/23 https://www.visitmayberry.com/.

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.

Sources

“Pied Piper of Hamelin,” Wikipedia, 2021/07/26 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pied_Piper_of_Hamelin.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Hameln,” Britannica.com, 2021/07/26 https://www.britannica.com/place/Hameln#ref250683.

“The Grim Truth Behind the Pied Piper,” BBC.com, 2021/07/26 https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20200902-the-grim-truth-behind-the-pied-piper.

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?

Frankenmuth

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.

Sources

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

https://www.frankenmuth.org/things-to-do/.

First Modern Olympics Medals

by Sandra Merville Hart

The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens, Greece, on April 6 – April 15, 1896. The Games of the I Olympiad, as they were called, had an Opening Ceremony and a Closing Ceremony.

The competition began on April 6th. American James Connolly competed in the first event only hours after arriving in Athens. What is now known as the triple jump was then called “the hop, step, and jump,” and it was the first event. His jump was 44 feet 11 ¾ inches—he won first place.

Even more important, James Connolly became the first Olympic champion in the 1896 games—and the first in 1,527 years.

We have grown accustomed to watching our Olympic winners receive medals for their achievement. A gold medal is awarded to the first-place winner, a silver medal goes to second place, and a bronze medal goes to third place.

These weren’t the awards in 1896.

Firstly, only the top two winners received an award. Those coming in third received nothing.

Secondly, first and second place both received three items. Gold medals weren’t awarded in 1896. A silver medal was awarded to first place winners along with an olive branch and a diploma. A bronze/copper medal was given to second place winners. They also received a diploma but instead of an olive branch they were given a laurel branch.

These early medals are rare. A first-place medal from the Games of the I Olympiad held in Athens in 1896 was up for auction in July of 2021. It sold for over $180,000!

Sources

“1896 Summer Olympics,” Wikipedia, 2021/07/23 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1896_Summer_Olympics.

“About the Games,” Olympic Channel Services, 2021/07/25 https://olympics.com/en/olympic-games/athens-1896.

History.com Editors. “10 Things You May not Know about the First Modern Olympics,” A&E Television Networks, 2021/07/23 https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-first-olympics.

“Rare Medal from First Modern Olympics Fetches over $180,000,” AP News, 2021/07/23 https://apnews.com/article/2020-tokyo-olympics-lifestyle-sports-europe-sweden-olympic-team-81b60c74804c38f10956fe754bb531d8.

James Connolly – First Modern Olympics Champion

by Sandra Merville Hart

In 393 A.D., the Romans ended the classic Greek Olympic games that had been held every four years. Different countries held informal Olympics on a local level in the 1600s. Sweden, Greece, and England held some local Olympic games in the 1800s.

Olympic games became an international event in 1896, when the first modern Olympic games began.

James Connolly, who grew up in Boston as the son of Irish immigrants, was a student at Harvard when he learned of the Olympic Games. The twenty-seven-year-old requested a leave of absence to attend the games in Athens. The school refused his request.

Determined to be there, Connolly withdrew from Harvard.

He joined nine other Americans on a steamer bound for Italy. His wallet was stolen in Naples and he almost missed his train ride across Italy. After another boat ride, they boarded a train to Athens.

The American athletes believed they’d a few days rest from their long journey. The Opening Ceremony of the Games of the I Olympiad started on April 6, 1896—the day they arrived in Athens.

In fact, Connolly competed in his first event a few hours later. What is now known as the triple jump was then called “the hop, step, and jump,” and it was the first event. His jump was 44 feet 11 ¾ inches—he won first place.

He also competed in the high jump (second place) and the long jump (third place.)

Even more important, James Connolly became the first Olympic champion in the 1896 games—and the first in 1,527 years. Quite an achievement!

Sources

“1896 Summer Olympics,” Wikipedia, 2021/07/23 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1896_Summer_Olympics.

“About the Games,” Olympic Channel Services, 2021/07 25 https://olympics.com/en/olympic-games/athens-1896.

History.com Editors. “10 Things You May not Know about the First Modern Olympics,” A&E Television Networks, 2021/07/23 https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-first-olympics.

“James Connolly,” United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum, 2021/07/25 https://usopm.org/james-connolly/.

Civil War Hospital Trains

by Sandra Merville Hart

Civil War soldiers wounded on the battlefield were first treated at tent hospitals or in local buildings. With a combined total dead and wounded at Gettysburg for both armies at over 40,000, wounded soldiers filled the courthouse, churches, homes, barns, and every available public building.

The overworked, exhausted surgeons at Gettysburg couldn’t keep up with the demand. As soon as a patient was able to survive a trip, he traveled by hospital train to a city hospital.

A typical Civil War era hospital train contained between 5 to 10 hospital cars and a passenger car for wounded soldiers able to sit. Additionally, there was a surgeon’s car for the medical staff, a kitchen car for the nourishing food provided to wounded, and a box car for supplies.

The outside car panels had “U.S. Hospital Train” painted in large letters. A yellow flag flew on the slow-moving engine. Three red lanterns hung under the engine headlight at night. Ten-car trains carried up to 200 patients.

Injured soldiers were carried on stretchers to a hospital car. Four India rubber rings hooked onto wooden posts to support the stretcher. There were 3 tiers of stretchers stacked in a 50-foot hospital car. A nice period sketch of these cars may be found at http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1864/february/hospital-train.htm.

Early in the war, a surgeon noticed the agony that sick and wounded soldiers suffered from the locomotive jostling over tracks. He suggested the above design for hospital cars, greatly increasing patients’ comfort while traveling to the general hospitals in the cities.

A Rebel in My House Book Blurb:

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

A promise to her sister becomes impossible to keep …

Amazon

Book Trailer

Sources

Compiled by the editors of Combined Books. The Civil War Book of Lists, Da Capo Press, 1994.

“Hospital Trains,” Son of the South, 2021/03/23 http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1864/february/hospital-train.htm.

Wilbur, M.D., C. Keith. Civil War Medicine 1861 – 1865, C. Keith Wilbur, 1998.

 

A Surprising Cemetery

Fellow author and friend Shelia Stovall shares about a family cemetery with us today. Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Shelia!

by Shelia Stovall

Thank you for inviting me to share a story that might interest genealogists. Judy, my mother-in-law, loved genealogy. One of my deepest regrets is that I didn’t record her family stories. She said her ancestor received a land grant for our property for serving in the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, we have no documentation to prove this because the Simpson County, Kentucky Courthouse burned in May of 1882.

A couple of years ago, my husband visited our neighbor’s farm and discovered a cemetery, hidden in a grove of trees, about five hundred yards from our property line.

We’d never crossed the fence line and had no idea the cemetery existed. Later, my husband took me to his find. Judy grew up on our farm, and I am sure she knew the cemetery existed but failed to mention it. Perhaps it is something she took for granted that we knew.

Simple stones mark many gravesites, and others are very ornate. Sadly, the cemetery needs attention. One tombstone identifies the grave of the Revolutionary War soldier, William Lowe. I couldn’t help but wonder if this might mark the resting place of my husband’s relative who received the land grant. We’d never heard anyone mention the last name of “Lowe” in the family history. The surname of Johns, Peden, and Snider are the familiar family names. 

We scanned Judy’s many scrapbooks in search of her genealogy work. Ready to give up, I put away the albums,but my father-in-law said, “Let’s look inside her desk.” The first folder I pulled out was labeled, “For Evan Leslie’s D.A.R.” (Evan Leslie is my daughter.) It seemed Judy knew that someday, someone would be interested. It took mere seconds to locate the name I hoped to see, William Lowe.  

I am thankful Judy took such care to document her family ancestry. We’ll never be able to prove the farm has been in my husband’s family since the land grants, but I feel confident the trails I walk with my grandchildren are the same as their ancestors from ten generations back.

To me, the most special place is by a tiny stream that branches into Drake’s Creek. I need this quiet place where no one speaks to me but God.

We are blessed by our inheritance, but a better inheritance awaits us because we are to be co-heirs with Jesus Christ. “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:17.

My prayer is that you too will share in this glorious inheritance.

To learn more about me and my books, subscribe to my blog.

Readers can download three free novellas from my website under the media tab and be introduced to my make-believe communities of Weldon and Sassy Creek. My novel, Every Window Filled with Light, can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About Shelia

Shelia Stovall is the director of a small-town library in southern Kentucky, where only strangers mention her last name, and the children call her Miss Shelia.  

Shelia and her husband Michael live on a farm, and she enjoys taking daily rambles to the creek with their three dogs. Spending time with family, especially her grandchildren, is her all-time favorite thing. The only hobby Shelia loves more than reading uplifting stories of hope is writing them. Connect with Shelia on her blog.

Every Window Filled with Light

Welcome to Weldon, Kentucky, where the only things the locals love more than fried pies are gossip and match-making.

Librarian Emma Baker, a young and childless widow, believes her dream to build a family is over. It’s been two years since a student accidentally stabbed Emma’s husband to death, and her grief has stifled any interest in romance—until she meets Pastor Luke Davis. But when Emma learns Luke is counseling her husband’s killer fresh out of jail, her temper gets in the way.

Meanwhile, Emma discovers twelve-year-old Harley, abandoned by her drug-addict mother, hiding in the library, and takes the girl in as her foster mom. Then a young mother is made homeless by an apartment fire, and Emma opens her home again. One person and one prayer at a time, Emma begins to discover hope.


An Excerpt from A Rebel in My House

by Sandra Merville Hart

Excerpt from A Rebel In My House:

Friday, June 26, 1863

Two miles outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Running feet on the dirt road outside quickened Sarah Hubbard’s heartbeat. Her fingers stiffened on her sewing machine and her back straightened.

Were they coming? Every conversation these days centered on the Confederate soldiers crossing into southern Pennsylvania.

“Miz Hubbard. Miz Hubbard, please let us in!”

Not soldiers but friends. Sarah’s body sagged at Elsie Craig’s voice, but why did she yell? Sarah dropped the gingham dress she’d been sewing and ran to throw open the front door. Alarmed at the fear lining Elsie’s dark face and eyes as she clutched the hand of her four-year-old daughter, Mae, Sarah scanned the horizon for Confederate soldiers. “Hurry inside.”

Elsie needed no second bidding. She guided Mae over the threshold and closed the door. “Miz Hubbard, you gotta hide us.” Her tall, thin body leaned against the door. “The Rebs are in town gathering up all the colored folks they can find. Someone said they’ll be taking them south as slaves and that they’re warning folks not to hide us.”

Sarah gasped. “Why do such a terrible thing?”

“Don’t make sense, does it? Some of us have lived in Gettysburg for years. Others like me have always been free, but it don’t seem to matter to the Southern army.” A long loaf of bread peeked out among jars and clothing in a well-laden basket Elsie set on the rug. She dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around her trembling child. “I had to leave my house and most of my possessions, but I’ve got the most important thing right here.” She looked up at Sarah as she patted Mae’s shoulder. “Last week my Sam left for Pine Hill, the settlement up near Biglerville. With it being two miles off the main road to Carlisle, the Rebs won’t find him there. Sam never expected the army to come after women and children or he’d never have left us. I miss him something fierce. We’ll go to him when the soldiers get out of town.”

Tears etched tracks in a smudge on Mae’s cheek, tugging at Sarah’s heart as much as Elsie’s wide eyes and trembling hands. Sarah rushed to an open window and pushed aside the curtain a few inches. The Pennsylvania governor, Andrew Curtin, had declared a state of emergency two weeks earlier and called for local militia. Where was their help?

Book Blurb:

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

Amazon

Book Trailer

What Story Awaited Me in Gettysburg?

by Sandra Merville Hart

Something drew me yet again to Gettysburg. I had visited this battlefield before, but this time I knew there was a story waiting for me. I only had an inkling of an idea when I left my home that fall day—a Confederate soldier needs help from a Gettysburg seamstress. Not much to go on, is it? Sometimes novel ideas grow slowly and sometimes you know the whole story within an hour. A Rebel In My House swelled in my imagination as I explored Gettysburg.

My husband and I walked the battlefields. Ideas stirred when I found Tennessee troops with the brigade who began the fighting on the first day. Nothing solidified so I kept digging. I visited the museums. I discovered fascinating history at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum. Surely my story touched this place. Yet no ideas came. I trudged on.

I spent hours at the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, Gettysburg Museum of History, Gettysburg Railroad Station, General Lee’s Headquarters Museum, and The David Wills House where President Lincoln stayed. I learned captivating facts at the Jennie Wade House, Shriver House Museum, and “The Women of Gettysburg Tour,” an evening walking tour.

Ideas strengthened. My husband and I walked the town’s streets around the “Diamond” or the town square where the women and children suffered through a nightmare. Then we spent another afternoon and evening at the battlefield.

Three Tennessee regiments fought the beginning battle on July 1st. They didn’t fight again until they joined in Pickett’s Charge.

The sun sank low on the horizon as I stood alone on Cemetery Ridge. The expansive field crossed by Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863, captured my imagination. Though the land is peaceful once more, it still tells a story. My imagination soared while the sun disappeared.

I had to tell what the townspeople endured. What if a Gettysburg woman fell in love with a Confederate soldier? What if they both made promises to loved ones? Some promises are impossible to keep …

I reluctantly left the ridge because I had a story to write.

Book Blurb:

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

Amazon