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The Locket Saga


james-forten1

This month I am commemorating Black History Month and this week I am featuring James Forten. As I was researching history regarding Book IV of the Locket Saga, Sailing Under the Black Flag, I came across this amazing man and included him as a major character in the book. I hope you enjoy our second week’s focus for Black History Month.

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was born a free black man. Over the course of his lifetime, he made significant impact upon the fortunes of the American capitalist system and the livelihood of his contemporaries.
He was the son of Thomas and Sarah Forten and was the grandson of slaves. He grew up in Philadelphia and attended Anthony Benezet’s Quaker school for “colored” children. By the time he was eight years old, he was working for Robert Bridges’s sail loft with his father. A year later, his father was killed in a boating accident. This tragedy forced the nine-year-old James into the additional responsibility of supporting his family.
Forten’s Military Service.

During his early teens, he worked as a powder boy during the Revolutionary War first in the army and then on the ship, the privateer Royal Lewis. In Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag, he was powder boy for the protagonist Jonathan Mayford.
Most people don’t know that on privateer ships, every member of the crew from the captain down to the deck hands were considered equal. This equality on the Royal Lewis must have left a strong impression on James Forten because it certainly influenced his character.

Prisoner on the Jersey

Forten may have been raised free, but he could certainly empathize with the slaves who had come to America on slave ships.

As told in this fourth book of The Locket Saga, Forten was captured by the British and held prisoner on the Jersey a prison ship. As the story goes, Forten had arranged to be smuggled off the ship in Gustavua Conyngham’s trunk when he allowed Daniel Brewton, two years younger than he was, take his place in the trunk. It was not until March 25, 1782 that Forten was released.

He would never forget the smell of the prison ship. Years later, he was repairing a sail when he smelled that sickening familiar smell. By then, the slave trade was illegal and Forten threatened to press charges because he knew that the ship had been used in the slave trade.

Making His Fortune

After his mother nursed him back to health, Forten boarded the Commerce, a merchant ship. The ship went to London and he worked there for a year.
In 1785, he returned home to resume his previous job. Pleased with his work and dedication, Bridges appointed him to the foreman’s position in the loft.
In 1798 Bridges decided to retire, and wanted Forten to remain in charge of the loft. His desires were realized. Eventually James owned the business, and employed almost 40 workers.
James married Charlotte VanDive, a woman of Native American, African American, and European blood on December 5, 1805. In 1806, he purchased a brick house at Third and Lombard Streets. Charlotte gave birth to all nine of their children here. In addition to a good home, James ensured that each of them received a good education.

James Forten’s Legacy

James Forten newspaper clippingEventually, James Forten became interested in politics and avidly campaigned for and supported the issues of temperance, women’s suffrage, and equal rights for African Americans. In the year 1800, he was the leader in organizing a petition that called for Congress to emancipate all slaves. Given the fact that this was a presidential election year, rumor had it that a few of the presidential candidates (among them Thomas Jefferson) were none too pleased with a Negro man advocating for the emancipation of slaves. His activism was further recognized when he wrote and published a pamphlet denouncing the Pennsylvania legislature for prohibiting the immigration of freed black slaves from other states. Many consider him the “Father of the Abolitionist Movement.”
In 1817 Forten joined with Richard Allen to form the Convention of Color. In the 19th century Allen was the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Interestingly, the organization argued for the migration of free black slaves to Canada, but vehemently resisted any movement for a return to the African continent.
James Forten’s early years had been devoted to providing for his widowed mother. As an adult, he focused on acquiring a vast economic fortune and rectifying the brutal injustices that had been perpetrated upon his fellow African Americans, poor people, and women. He believed in liberty for all people and he fought against slavery and for equal rights all of his life. He died on March 4, 1842.

Read Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag and other books in The Locket Saga

In print at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown

On Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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Spoiler Alert: If you like a good whodunit, and haven’t read: When God turned his Head by Cygnet Brown, you will want to read the book before reading this post as the book was based on the research of the facts of this event.

The John Codman Murder

 

skeleton in chains

Slavery, the biggest skeleton in America’s Closet

In my research for the Locket Saga, I have found numerous amazing historical accounts of African Americans in America’s early history. This month, in honor of Black History Month, I want to share some of the accounts that I found from our history and how they relate to the Locket Saga series.
This week, I want to share the account of the slaves of John Codman who played an important part in my first novel in The Locket Saga: When God Turned His Head.

Slavery Was Not Just in the Southern Colonies

slave-sale-posting-P

Most people don’t know that Negro slaves were owned in the 1700s, not just in the south, but in every British colony. Most wealthy families owned slaves. Although the nature of slavery in the North differed somewhat from the slavery of the South, there were slaves living in Boston, and in other Massachusetts towns, until 1783, when slavery was legally abolished in Massachusetts.
Boston merchants became rich from their ties to shipping and industries like rum-distilling that were inextricably linked to slavery. The bulk of the sugar imported into North America in the eighteenth century, including the sugar merchants brought back on their ships to be sold to shopkeepers and distillers of rum, came from Caribbean plantations worked by slaves. Robert Howard, the man who first owned what later became known as the Paul Revere House, owned at least one slave, and possibly as many as five. He was a wealthy trade goods merchant of goods that were produced by forced African slave labor in the Caribbean and West Indies. Although Paul Revere never owned slaves, his maternal grandmother had been part owner a slaved named Nulgar.
African slaves in the north, as in the south, were often discontented with their condition and sought to improve it whenever they could. Although free Africans lived in Massachusetts at the time, getting freed was not an easy matter. A law passed in 1703 required slave owners to post a £50 bond for each slave they freed. This bond served as a guarantee that a freed slave would not become a financial burden on the own.
In 1755, John Codman, a former ship’s captain, was a wealthy fifty-eight-year-old slave master and landowner in Charlestown a slave owner was found dead in his bed. It didn’t take long for the authorities to realize that foul play had been involved and that the man had been poisoned.
Because there was both an investigation and a trial, a considerable record exists which allows some insight into the conspirators’ thoughts and motivations.
On July second, the day after Captain Codman’s death, a coroner’s jury found that he died from poison feloniously procured by Mark.

The Investigation

The investigation uncovered the fact that six years earlier, they set fire to his workshop, hoping by the destruction of this building that he would be obliged to sell them, they, in the year 1755, they conspired again to gain his end through poison. At the trial, when the judges asked Phoebe about Mark’s reason for poisoning Codman, she only replied that “he was uneasy and wanted to have another master” and that “he was concerned” for the well-being of herself and Phyllis, another Codman slave. The judges did not press Phoebe for details.
Although it is uncertain whether John Codman was a habitually violent or cruel master, the record does show that Codman, in a fit of rage following the death of his wife in 1752, struck a slave named Tom so hard in the face that one of his eyes was seriously injured. Therefore, the other slaves of the Codman household were subjected to episodes of violence in addition to the inherent trials and tribulations of slavery.
Mark was unhappy because he was separated from his own family. For a time, Codman had allowed Mark to live in Boston with his wife and children if Mark hired himself out for work and provided his master with his wages. However, in February 1748, Boston city officials “warned him out” of Boston and Codman forced him to return to Charlestown and refused to allow his family to join him. Around the same time, Codman either sold or gave one of Mark’s children.
Six years before Codman’s murder, Mark had desperately attempted to compel his master to sell him to another person. In 1749, hoping that he might be sold to a new master who would be kinder and enable him to rejoin his family, Mark and several other slaves burned down Codman’s blacksmith shop and workhouse. Mark hoped that the financial distress would force Codman to sell him. Codman refused to sell any of his slaves.
The idea that they could get away with poisoning Codman came from the idea that the slaves believed that a Mr. Salmon had been poisoned to death by one of his slaves, without anyone discovering of the crime. Mark attempted to get poison first from Kerr, Dr. John Gibbons’ servant, and then to Robin, Dr. William Clarke’s servant. The poison was galena, or plumbum nigrum, a native sulphuret of lead, probably used for a glaze by Charlestown potters.
Kerr refused to give Mark the poison, but Robin got it for Mark two different times along with some arsenic. This poison, Phoebe and Phyllis kept in a vial and from time to time mixed into Codman’s water-gruel and sago and at times was innocently administered to him by one of his daughters. They also mixed with his food some of the ‘black lead,’ which Phyllis seems to have thought was the efficient poison, though it appeared from the testimony that he was killed by the arsenic.
Quaco, — the nominal husband of Phoebe, the servant of Mr. James Dalton, of Boston, and implicated in the murder— was examined before William Stoddard, a justice of the peace, and on the same day Robin was arrested and committed to jail. Later in the month, Mark and Phyllis were questioned by the Attorney-General and Mr. Thaddeus Mason.

The Verdict

 

The jury found both Phyllis and Mark guilty of murder and petit treason. Petit treason, as distinct from high treason, was the charge brought when a servant was accused of killing his master; a wife her husband; or a clergyman his canonical superior. According to the indictment, only Phillis was charged with murder and petit treason. Mark and Robin were charged with being accessories before the fact. Apparently, the jury found Robin not guilty, as he is not mentioned in the record of the judgment. Mark was found guilty of the greater charge for reasons which are not specified.

The Sentence

burning at the stake

Criminal conspiracies were taken very seriously by the Yankees of Massachusetts. According to later accounts, the judges sentenced Phoebe to be transported to the West Indies, although oddly her name does not appear anywhere in the indictment or record of judgment. Mark was hung, and his body tarred and suspended in chains for all to see in Charlestown. Although, in When God Turned His Head, Phyllis was hanged, according to court records, she was burned to death. This case has become well-known as one of only two times in American history when a woman was sentenced to be burned to death. The only one other case in Massachusetts history was when Maria, also an African servant, attempted to murder her owner by setting his house on fire. It is likely the other conspirators were sent to the sugar colonies in the Caribbean to work the fields, a standard form of punishment at the time.

Mark’s Mention later in The Locket Saga

Mark’s body remained chained on the Charleston Neck for twenty years. In my second book of the Locket Saga, Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, there is a scene where Elizabeth Thorton was spooked by the knowledge that Mark’s body was hung in chains on the Charleston Neck. This was based on an account written in Paul Revere’s autobiography where he wrote “After I had passed Charlestown Neck, and got nearly opposite where Mark was hung in chains,” he was referring to this well-known local landmark along his route through Charlestown (present-day Somerville).

How Can We Relate Today?

The slaves may have been found guilty, but the system was just as guilty for its role in the man’s murder. This story reminds us that there were no innocents in the country as it related to the chattel slave system. The northern colonies was just as inhuman and brutal as that which was later condemned in the South.  They were motivated by the same greed that is rules the world today. It also reminds us that everyone desires freedom over slavery and that many will do whatever it takes to reach that place.

The Locket Saga 5 books

When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, as well as the other books in The Locket Saga series can be found

In Print at Lulu.com check out Cygnet Brown’s Author Spotlight page at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown

On Amazon Kindle, The Locket Saga series page at

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076ZSK5PB/ref=series_rw_dp_sw


December 23, 2017

My Christmas Gift to You

I did this last year and I decided to make this an annual event. Here it is, Cygnet’s Annual Christmas gifts to all of my readers. Pick up your copy now and book you choose OR You can pick ALL of the titles below for free from midnight December 22, 2017 until midnight Christmas Day 2017! You don’t have to wait until Christmas Day to open your gifts either. Start reading today! Enjoy!

 

Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag

Jonathan Mayford wants to join the Patriot Cause because he wants to prove that he’s a man. Despite his parents’ misgivings, they allow him to join his father’s privateer, the American Elizabeth.

Jonathan befriends an old sea cook, Finis Henderson who teaches him about the sea. Later, he also becomes friend with a young African American boy.

Jonathan’s young friend, James Forten, though born a freedman, does not realize what freedom means until he experiences it as a privateer. He, also, did not realize the treachery of slavery until sees individuals of his own color in chains on the auction block.

The relationship that takes Jonathan from boyhood to manhood began when he met the red-headed Lowri Howell, a daughter of Welsh nobleman. Jonathan dreams of the day that he will become worthy of her affections. He hoped that in winning this war, he might have a chance at capturing her heart, his greatest prize of all.

Both Jonathan and James discover fighting in the war is not what makes a man. They learn that becoming a real man requires integrity and character.

https://www.amazon.com/Sailing-Under-Black-Flag-Locket-ebook/dp/B01IIXO6CI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513088769&sr=1-1&keywords=Book+IV+of+The+Locket+Saga%3A+Sailing+Under+the+Black+Flag

 

Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond

B) In the Shadow of the Millpond

Fifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl. Matthew, a half-breed Indian, doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is growing into a beautiful young woman he should consider?

In the frontier town near the turn of the century, Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder after an altercation with Luther over stolen furs. Lacey defends Matthew with the help of a teacher, Felix Grackle. They look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. Matthew’s father Luke and his best friend Jacque Pierre are looking for the person responsible for stealing the furs. They believe the thief might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.

Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XKFCPQK/ref=series_dp_rw_ca_5

 

Book VI of the Locket Saga: The Anvil

Robert McCray dreamed of the day when he would marry Lillian O’Hare. He went north with his father, Uncle Luke, and Cousin Isaac to Northwestern Pennsylvania. He built a shed behind the cabin to set up his blacksmith shop. The only tool that he needed was the anvil. Little did he know that in a matter of hours, all his dreams would come crashing down.

Judith Campbell was the eldest of Duncan Campbell’s three daughters. After her father lost his farm in a rigged land grab, he decided to take up the US government’s offer to Revolutionary War veterans to settle on lands at no cost in unsettled parts of the country. Duncan and his family become neighbors to the Thorton and McCray families. There the three families bind together to survive the hardships of the wilderness. What does the future hold for Robert and Judith?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076RTBP45/ref=series_dp_rw_ca_6

 

Living Today, The Power of Now

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What if you only had one day to live? How would you live your life differently?

You really do only have one day at any given time, and that day is today. You cannot live in the past. You cannot live in the future. Today is your day to shine.

Today, and only today, you have the power of now, and it is strongest when you know that you are on the right path.

From Living Today, the Power of Now, discover:

  • Awareness and Focus on the present moment.
  • Tips for obtaining fire starting focus
  • Change bad habits to good habits
  • Creating a Time and a Place to dream
  • What “Don’t Worry” really Means
  • Learn How to Build on Past Experiences
  • Overcome Fear and Find Faith
  • Letting Go of the Past
  • The value of forgiving yourself and others
  • And much more

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072WFW3HZ

 

Write a Book and Ignite Your Business

Are you a business owner looking for surefire way to get the edge over your competition? Thanks to social media, the advertising world is changing. People can connect with you and your products like never before. They want to see the face behind the product. In addition, people want to know what is in it for them. They don’t care about the features so much as they want to know how what you do will benefit them. Writing a Book related to your business opens doors like nothing else can.

 

Writing a book can help you:

  • Offer more than just your business card to your high end clients
  • Demonstrate to your clients that you are an expert in your industry
  • Go places you would never have dreamed of going
  • Provide numerous chances for free publicity and even publicity that pays you!
  • Find the ultimate marketing tool!

No longer is it necessary to send your book out to a traditional publisher to publish your books. You don’t have to depend on vanity presses either. Today, it is possible to publish using a system called self-publishing where you do the work of writing your book then prepare it for publication, have copies printed using print on demand technology, then market the book yourself. This book not only tells you why you should write a book to ignite your business, but it gives you a step-by-step guide that shows you how to go through the self-publishing process from an author who has been through the process numerous times.

https://www.amazon.com/Write-Book-Ignite-Your-Business-ebook/dp/B076NWLTSP/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513089312&sr=1-1&keywords=Write+a++Book+and+Ignite+Your+Business

 

What Would I Like in Return?

What do I want in return? I am not asking for anything. I am not asking for your email address or anything like that. As I said, this was a Christmas gift to you.

Share this post If you would like to give me something in return, you don’t have to, but I would love if you would Share this post on your Twitter or Facebook page.

A Review on Kindle Also, after you have finished reading, I would really appreciate  if you took the time to  return to the page where you picked up the book(s) and offer me a good review of the books you read and enjoyed. That would be better than any other Christmas gift or card you could give me.

I wish you a Very Merry Christmas

And a Happy, Happy New Year!


August 31, 2017

WGTHH not the First Book I started

When God turned his Head was not the first book of the Locket Saga that I started. I actually started Soldiers Don’t Cry several years before I started When God Turned His Head. I started writing When God Turned His House, based on a conversation that Rachel and Elizabeth had with Phillip and Gerald when they were talking in the parlor of the Mayford house the night that Phillip and Gerald arrived. Rachel mentioned that Elizabeth was only her half sister and that her parents had been indentured servants.

Death by Chocolate

death by chocolate

I know that this sounds crazy to people who have never written a novel, but I became curious about the lives of their parents. Who were they? What was their story? This was over twenty years ago, before a lot of information was out on the internet so I went to the library to see what I could find out about indentured servants. Not much, but I did find the story about the John Codman murder, who did it and why. I learned how the murder was conducted and included many of the actual events from the murder including the way Codman took the poison (in his hot chocolate).

 

 

I then started asking “what if” I wondered what would happen if I not only gave Codman a wife, but also gave him a daughter. Then wondered, what about Elizabeth’s father? Who was he? Where did he fit in the picture? I made quite an elaborate back story to all that happened before the murder. Drusilla, Elizabeth’s mother, had known Kanter Thorton when they were still on their way to America. Kanter had proposed marriage to her but then she married Codman and he married someone else. She had a daughter and he and his wife had three sons. He loved his wife, but he still feelings for Drusilla. He couldn’t understand how one day she seemed to be in love with him and a week later she was married to a man who treated her like chattel.

 

This brought me to the idea that John Adams who would have been a young lawyer at that time would make an interesting addition to this story. I put him and his cousin Samuel Adams into the story. After all, they did live in Boston at the time. I thought it would be interesting to compare the difference between Kanter’s marriage and Drusilla’s marriage. I decided that I wanted to have this occur in a church, the Old North Church to be exact.

yes, that John Adams, the one who later because our 2nd President

 

I studied a lot about Boston during that time. I even had a map of the area during the mid-1700s. I studied how different the culture was from the culture today. I even discovered that a Mrs. Hiller was quite the entrepreneur at that time. She was so interesting that I made her Rachel’s dame school teacher, one of Mrs. Hiller’s many enterprises. She was also a real dressmaker as she was in the story. The idea that she was anything more than just a resident of Boston at the time was sheer imagination on my part.

 

There was some involvement of Dr. Clarke’s slave Robin too, but of course, I am not going to spoil this story for you. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

 

To learn more about this story, it is regularly lways available free on Kindle Unlimited all the time. Through tomorrow Soldiers Don’t Cry is available FREE through KDP select. Pick up both today and HAPPY READING. Check them out here! https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK

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The Dream

When people ask me where I got the idea for my Locket Saga series, I tell them that I had a dream where a young woman and a young man were sitting on a rustic wooden bench made from a log split in half in front of a log cabin wall and he used the old line, “Haven’t I seen you before?” To that she answered, “matter of fact, I think we knew one another as children.”

 

After that I woke up and wondered how that might be incorporated into a story.

A Story From Parkman’s Works

A few months later, I was at the library and was reading a dusty old history book about America during the French and Indian war called Parkman’s Works. I love old history, especially stories that are not well known by the general public, so while I was reading, I discovered an incident that occurred  in 1763 where a military wagon train was going to Fort Schlosser. At one point the wagon train was on a narrow wagon road sandwiched between a tall hill on one side and the two hundred foot gorge of the Niagara River.

Hostile Indians came over the hill and literally pushed the wagon train over in to the gorge. The wagons, horses and men all thrown into the gorge shattering and scattering wagons and provisions and crushing the bodies of the horses and men on the rocks below. The drummer boy also went over the cliff, but on the way down his drum strap caught on a bush and stopped his descent. He pulled himself up to safety. The only other person to survive was the scout, a Mr. Stedman who was on his horse at the front of the wagon train. When he saw the Indians, he spurred his horse to safety.

Mixing up Fiction with History

This was the start of the Locket Saga, I used the concept of “what if”. What if the drummer boy was the same boy that met the girl later? Of course, it would have to be during the American Revolution that they met again, and rather than have the scene exactly as it was in my dream, I would make them meet again in Boston and to create conflict, I would have her be a patriot and he be a British officer. After I read the book Traitors, Turncoats, and Spies, I decided to make the conflict even deeper and made Elizabeth a spy and smuggler for the Patriot cause.

The story became Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues.

 

Soldiers Don’t Cry now FREE on Kindle

If you have not read Soldiers Don’t Cry, you’re in luck because beginning today, Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga continues will be free on Kindle. Download your copy now.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ATWT80W

When God Turned His Head

If you know anything about the Locket Saga, you know that Soldiers Don’t Cry isn’t the first book in the series. You know that the first book in the series is When God Turned His Head. To discover how When God Turned His Head became the first book, read my next installment of this blog on Thursday August 31. Follow this blog to read about how When God Turned His Head was written. And while you’re at it, pick up your Kindle copy today https://www.amazon.com/When-Turned-Head-Locket-Saga-ebook/dp/B007RHXTTI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503241811&sr=8-1&keywords=when+god+turned+his+head

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 Can you believe that Book V is finally out?

 

The long-awaited next volume of the  Locket Saga, Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond is now available in print and on Kindle.

Thank you, everyone, who helped make this book possible!

ifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl. Matthew, a half-breed Indian, doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is growing into a beautiful young woman he should consider?

In the frontier town near the turn of the century, Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder after an altercation with Luther over stolen furs. Lacey defends Matthew with the help of a teacher, Felix Grackle. They look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. Matthew’s father Luke and his best friend Jacque Pierre are looking for the person responsible for stealing the furs. They believe the thief might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.

Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine.

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

AVAILABLE IN PRINT

 

Haven’t Read the Rest of the series? Get the whole series on Your Kindle Today for one low price!

If you have read them, would you be kind enough to write a good review on Amazon?

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