Kittie Howard

Monday, May 28, 2012

Martinus Schryver (1753 - 1836)

The evening begged for an end-of-holiday walk in Rhinebeck, New York, an American Revolutionary village in the Hudson Valley with tree-lined streets and sidewalks cracked by gnarled roots.  A fat tabby caught our attention.  With a lion's confidence, the cat eyed the two pedestrians who stood at the end of his driveway, decided we weren't worth the effort, and turned to the adjacent cemetery, as if to say hello.  My husband and I exchanged smiles, then stepped into the open cemetery to meet his friends.

Two headstones, each leaning against the other, as if in time's embrace, beckoned us closer.  A bronze marker identified two of the tabby's friends as Eva Burger Schryver (1730-1817) and Martinus Schryver (1753-1836).  Martinus Schryver had fought in the American Revolutionary War, also called the War for Independence (1775-1783).  We bowed our heads in silent prayer and thanksgiving.

Martinus Schryver was courageous beyond what war involves.  At the time of the American Revolution, historians say one-third of the population wanted to remain a British colony, one-third didn't care either way, and one-third wanted independence from Great Britain.  Belief in a deeper cause meant resisting hostile or lackadaisical peer pressure.

Upon our return home, I decided to learn more about Martinus Schryver.  I can't say exactly why, except that on this Memorial Day Weekend, when we honor those who have served -- and are serving -- our country, I felt a sense a gratitude and wanted to feel our country's birth.

I learned that Martinus and Eva Schryver had eleven children.  A couple of sources said he was a colonel in the American Revolution.  (His graveside plaque hadn't identified his rank.)  Various sites listed him as either a fisherman from nearby Kingston, New York, or owning a tavern.  Perhaps he was both as it appears he was a man of some wealth for the times.

Links to Martinus Schryver broadened my curiosity.  In 1806, John Neeley bought a flock of sheep that included a slave, Isabella Baumfree, from Colonel Charles Hardenbeigh for $100.00.  Isabella was about nine years old.  Her parents were from Ghana.

In 1808, John Neeley sold Isabella Baumfree to Martinus Schryver for $108.00.

In 1810, Martinus Schryver sold Isabella to John Dumont for $175.00.  According to Wikipedia and other sources, this owner was "more kindly disposed" to Isabella and the beatings she had suffered lessened, even if Mrs. Dumont taunted Isabella for falling in love with a slave on another farm.

In 1826, Isabella, along with her infant daughter, gained their freedom through a law New York state had passed in 1799 that gradually abolished slavery.  (However, Isabella had to leave behind older children who were mandated to work as indentured servants until their twenties.)  She changed her name to Sojourner Truth and became an abolitionist who achieved significant firsts, one of which was a successful lawsuit against a white man.  In 1850, supporters published her book, The Narrative of Sojouiner Truth: A Northern Slave.  Of her many speeches, "Ain't I a Woman?" is among our history's greats.

In April, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled a statue of Sojourner Truth in the United States Capitol, the first African-American woman to be honored so.

This Memorial Day, as with others, I am deeply grateful for the sacrifices made and being made by so many to ensure, preserve, and protect our democracy.  I am also deeply grateful our Constitution has the flexibility to realize a wrong too many considered right at the time, that numbers don't make what's wrong right, and recognizes that an individual's freedom does not include the freedom to own another human being, that all of us embrace each other and that we have a sober responsibility to separate the good-that-was from the bad-that-was and move forward with the ". . . Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness . . . "so eloquently stated in our Declaration of Independence.

I pray that the polarization destroying us internally -- doing what no enemy could ever do -- will be relegated to the-era-that-was.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"The Power of Positive Thinking"

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) had it right in his best-selling book, "The Power of Positive Thinking."  It works.  What with your insight into the situation with the book about my family, hub's in-put, and my decision to get out of my funk (for it was self-inflicted, as most are) and think positive, I actually feel stronger, more empowered to get on with the book. Every day can't be opening night; life's like that. So I'm very grateful for your words of wisdom and emotional support and thank you from the heart.

I would also like to thank followers I met through the A-Z Challenge for joining me. I'm purring over new themes to explore and all there is to learn.  Blogville is an amazing, wonderful place that never ceases to delight. However, by now, I should have been by to visit you.  If not, er, there's a slight problem:  I can't link to you.  Please check your avatar to see if it links to your blog.  Sometimes I can find a blog by Googling, but if the photo isn't precise and multiple names pop up, I'm at a loss.  It's very frustrating! *sighs*

And thank you and hugs to Caron Rider, Author (she's a sweetie) for the

Yep, the award brought a smile.  I'm supposed to pass the award on to five people (along with some questions).  I kid you not, this was difficult so decided to go with the last five blogs I opened.  If you've got a sec, please drop by Caron Rider (link above image) and those below.  You won't be disappointed.

Nancy Thompson

Joylene Nowell Butler



Muses and Meringues

Now, I'm supposed to answer some questions:

1. Who are your favorite authors and what is it that strikes you about their work?
There are so many, but Alexander McCall Smith tops the list.  He's a philosopher, actually, who knows how to tell a layered story.  I like a little meat on the bone when I snuggle up with a book.

2. If you were stranded on a deserted island, and were allowed to bring 3 items with you, what would they be? A short wave radio, flares, and an umbrella lined with Diet Pepsi.  (Oh, but I don't like being in the sun!)

3. Where do you see yourself in five (5) years?
Owning a hotel on said island above.

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right here in the U.S.A.  Ain't no place like home sweet home.

5. Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
It depends on where I'll read the book.  I buy all three. 

6. If you could be any character (male or female) from your book who would you pick? And why?
Madeleine. She's got 'it' - whatever 'it' is.

7. Where and/or how did you get your inspiration to write "Remy Broussard's Christmas?"
I'm not going to say where this happened, but not that long ago, I was waiting for a connecting flight near the boarding gate when a very old African-American lady sat next to me and asked if I would tell her when the flight was called (as this was her first time to fly and she was nervous).  Of course, I agreed. The three white women (two across, one to my right) stared at each other, glared at me, and got up and moved to a different section of the seating arrangement. One whispered something ugly to me when I boarded the plane.  I thought, "Oh, no, here we go again" and decided if I ever wrote a book it would involve a certain era in our history. Hence, "Remy Broussard's Christmas" opened the era's door with the unspeakable poverty that existed that led to much. My present WIP involves the KKK. And I'm not mincing words.  (BTW, Remy's available for now (but not forever) for 99 cents as commissions will be donated to the Wounded Warrior's Foundation (but commissions still donated to the Foundation when price goes up). If you can, shake that piggy bank and click Remy's highlighted link!)

8. What were the best parts about writing this book?
Quiet reflections about being a part of a larger whole. 

9. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Oh, heavens, no -- gotta live to write and not often with writer's block. 

10. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
Well, I like a tidy house and well-balanced meals so keep busy on that front, but more to the spiritual point, I've got to get out and smell the roses.  Years ago, I read, "If the ball doesn't go round, it won't bounce." That suited me. I like life with a little bounce to it.