In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Every Postcard Tells a Story -- This One, in Vermont in 1907

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One of the mysteries I'm now writing is set in 1899 -- which makes this 1907 postcard "close enough" in terms of noticing how people write to each other. I find it particularly intriguing because of the sender's signature. But that's getting ahead of the story.

Charles Augustus Choate Jr., known to his friends as "Chubb," lived and farmed in Barnet, Vermont. He was born in 1871, and on August 19, 1903, he married a "girl" 10 years younger than himself, Pearl May Field (born May 9, 1881, in Brookline, Vermont). In the records that refer to his wife, she's always called "Pearl M. Choate" -- very reasonably.

But on this postcard -- showing a photo of the stream near her farm home --which she sent to her somewhat older friend Mrs. Jessie M. Titus (b. 1862) in Springfield, Vermont, with Christmas greetings in December 1907, she signs herself "Pearl Field Choate." Why?

The suggestion is that her friend Jesse may know the Field family in a meaningful way. Some confirmation comes in looking up where Brookline, Vermont -- Pearl's birthplace -- is. It turns out it's a small town south of Springfield. Good backing for this guess!

Finally, one more curious note about this card: It's easy to find Pearl M. Choate's marriage, and the years that belong with her husband Charles (1871-1930) -- but the Choate family trees online don't show Pearl's date of death, and neither do the Vermont records. It took some searching to figure out what happened: In 1949, the long-widowed Pearl May (Field) Choate married Joseph Devins of  nearby Ryegate. Her Vermont death certificate is under the name Pearl Devins, October 17, 1962, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

I hope some of the keepers of the Choate family trees will ink in this detail; I think it's sweet that Pearl had another marital chapter, and hope it was a very happy one.