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Linda Gondosch, Children's Author

Linda Gondosch, Children’s Author

Hello!  My name is Linda Gondosch and I’m a former teacher and the author of eleven fiction and nonfiction books for children.  I’ve spent years reading wonderful books of nonfiction as well as researching my own books.  In this blog, I will share some of the often overlooked stories of American history that I have discovered along the way.  I think you’ll find them to be fun, factual, and maybe even fascinating.  I will suggest children’s books for further reading so you and your children can learn more about a particular person or event in history,  I’ll also add a little about my own journey as a writer.

Parents and teachers, I hope you share these stories and suggested books with your children.  The more children learn about U.S. history, the more they will understand and appreciate the people and events that shaped America.  Enjoy!

 

Attribution: header — “Oregon Trail (Campfire)” by Albert Bierstadt (PD-US)

Betty Zane, Heroine of Wheeling, West Virginia

 

A True Story of a West Virginia Heroine

Heroism of Miss Elizabeth Zane by Nagel & Weingaertner

Heroism of Miss Elizabeth Zane by Nagel & Weingaertner

 

During the American Revolution, Wheeling, West Virginia, was a small garrison on the edge of the frontier.  It was called Fort Henry, named after Gov. Patrick Henry.  On September 10, 1782, the area’s settlers learned of an imminent attack by British soldiers and their Indian allies, the Shawnees, Mingos, Delawares, and Wyandots.  The next day sixteen-year-old Elizabeth (Betty) Zane hurried into Fort Henry, along with about forty others.  (Three of Betty’s older brothers, Ebenezer, Jonathan, and Silas, had begun settlement of the area in 1769.  Now Silas was in command of the fort.)

Ebenezer and Jonathan chose to stay behind in Ebenezer’s log house, built as strong as any fortress.  (Ebenezer’s house had once been burned to the ground by Indians and he vowed never to leave it again during an attack.)

Back in Fort Henry, about 20 men fought hard against their attackers.  They were outnumbered 15 to 1, but they had a small cannon and men who would fight to the death.  Betty Zane molded bullets for the fighters as the siege continued.  Then came a horrible discovery: Fort Henry was almost out of gunpowder.  The fort and every man, woman, and child in it was doomed!

The defenders knew that Betty’s brother, Ebenezer Zane, had several kegs of gunpowder stored in his house, if only they could get to it.  Volunteers offered to run 100 yards to the Zane house to get the gunpowder, but only one was chosen — Betty.  She convinced the men that they could not be spared, and besides, she could run as fast as any of them, if not faster.  The heavy wooden gate was swung open and Betty ran almost the length of a football field to her brother’s house.  The Indians spotted her but did nothing except shout “Squaw!  Waugh!”

Ebenezer flung open the door to his house.  After a quick explanation, he slashed a keg of gunpowder and poured the contents into a tablecloth.  Betty threw the bundle over her shoulder.  She flew out of the house and dashed across the open field, but this time the Indians were suspicious.  Bullets began to fly around her, ripping into her clothes and striking her arm, but Betty ran on, determined to reach the fort.

Several defenders of Fort Henry pulled open the wooden gate.  Betty ran through the opening with the precious gunpowder on her back.  The siege continued for one more day and night until reinforcements arrived.  The following day the attackers gave up and left.

Betty Zane has gone down in history as the courageous teenager who saved the early settlers of Wheeling, West Virginia, from certain death.  Her great-grandnephew was Zane Grey, author of over 90 books, mainly Westerns.

Children’s Books about Elizabeth (Betty) Zane:

Betsy Zane: the Rose of Fort Henry by Lynda Durrant

Betsy Zane: the Rose of Fort Henry by Lynda Durrant

Betsy Zane: the Rose of Fort Henry (2000) by Lynda Durrant   (fiction for 8-12 year olds, but based on Elizabeth Zane’s real life)

 

Women Heroes of the American Revolution: 20 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Defiance, and Rescue (2015) by Susan Casey

 

Junípero Serra’s Treacherous Journey to Mexico

A True Story of the Founder of the #California Missions

JunIpero Serra at the university in Majorca

JunIpero Serra at the university in Majorca           (Illustrations by Emmanuel Beaudesson)

When Junípero Serra was a young man living on the Spanish island of Majorca, he joined the Franciscan Order.  He was soon bitten by the bug to become a missionary to the natives living in New Spain, even though he would have to give up his prestigious university position in Palma.  He chose to give up family and friends and a comfortable life in order to follow his dream of spreading Christianity to the New World.

JunIpero Serra leaving Majorca aboard a packet boat

JunIpero Serra leaving Majorca aboard a packet boat        (Illustrations by Emmanuel Beaudesson)

 

On April 13, 1749, Serra boarded a packet boat and left his island home.  Unfortunately, the captain of the boat hated friars and argued daily with Father Serra, threatening to throw him overboard.  One day he took a knife to his throat, but Father Serra struggled and broke free.  He gladly left that boat when it reached the Spanish mainland!

Serra knew his parents were saddened by his decision to leave Majorca.  After all, he was their only son and they would never see him again.  Just before leaving Cádiz, Father Junípero wrote to a friend, saying, “I want to ask you again to do me the favor of consoling my parents, who, I know, are going through a great sorrow.  I wish I could give them some of the happiness that is mine; and I feel that they would urge me to go ahead and never to turn back.”  Indeed, Junípero Serra would never “turn back” from anything he set out to do.

After a few weeks on the ocean the voyagers ran short of food and water.  Serra wrote, “I was so thirsty that I would [have drunk] from the dirtiest puddle.”  All of the missionaries on the ship became sick, except tor him.

As they approached #Mexico, a violent hurricane struck.  Serra and his fellow Franciscans did the only thing they could — they prayed.  After days of riding the immense waves, the storm calmed and the ship finally landed in Vera Cruz.  Father Serra stepped onto solid ground on December 6, 1749, after three months at sea.  His missionary adventures were only beginning.

Jump ahead to 2015.  JunIpero Serra was declared a Saint in the Catholic Church by #Pope Francis in 2015.  Read more about the life of Saint Serra in my latest book, JunIpero Serra: Founder of the California Missions  (Ignatius Press).    

Children's book by Linda Gondosch

Children’s book by Linda Gondosch

Click on book cover above for more information about this book, #JunIpero Serra: Founder of the California Missions, published in 2015 by Ignatius Press.

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A Fabulous Trip to England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland

Children’s Author, Linda Gondosch, Visits the Land of Shakespeare

Werner and I have returned from a wonderful 12 day trip to the United Kingdom.  We joined a C-I-E bus tour. So today, instead of one of my American History Tales, let me share a few pictures of our grand tour of the U.K., land of Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Bronté sisters, J.K. Rowling and oh, so many more literary greats.  As a book writer, I love to travel.  The more I see, the more material I have to write about.  Maybe I could write a book about the mysterious Stonehenge or Farmer Joe and his talented sheepdog in Ireland.

I’m sorry that I don’t have a picture of Werner dancing a jig with the lively Irish step dancers.  That was the evening I forgot my camera.  Where’s the camera when you need it!

Have you ever seen Stonehenge or Edinburgh Castle?  I would love to hear about your favorite vacation spot.  Leave a reply!

Five-thousand year old Stonehenge on a windy, rainy day is an eerie place.

Five-thousand year old Stonehenge on a windy, rainy day is an eerie place.

Here I am at the 2000-year-old Roman spa in Bath, England.

Here I am at the 2000-year-old Roman spa in Bath, England.

In Ireland Farmer Joel's sheepdog skillfully herds the sheep.

In Ireland Farmer Joe’s sheepdog skillfully herds the sheep.

A bagpiper pipes a lively tune outside Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

A bagpiper pipes a lively tune outside Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

Medieval houses of York almost touch!

Medieval houses of York almost touch!

Here is the beautiful birthplace of Shakespeare where he grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon. The house is much larger than I thought.

Here is the beautiful birthplace of Shakespeare where he grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon. The house is much larger than I thought.

This is the Tower Bridge taken from inside the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels of British royalty are on display in the Tower.

This is the Tower Bridge taken from inside the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels of British royalty are on display in the Tower.

We took the Thames River Cruise and passed by the reconstructed Globe Theater with its thatched roof. I believe this is the only thatched roof allowed in London since the 1666 fire.

We took the Thames River Cruise and passed by the reconstructed Globe Theater with its thatched roof. I believe this is the only thatched roof allowed in London since the 1666 fire.

You can find delicious fish -n-chips at The Swan, a popular pub in London.

You can find delicious fish -n-chips at The Swan, a popular pub in London.

 

 

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The midnight ride of Revere, Dawes, and Prescott

The midnight ride of Revere, Dawes, and Prescott

A True Story from the #American Revolution

On the evening of April 18, 1775, a twenty-four-year old doctor named #Samuel Prescott from Concord, Massachusetts, rode his horse seven miles down the road to visit his fiancée, Lydia Mulliken of Lexington.  He had no idea that before the night was over, he would be caught up in a great historic event!

At 1 a.m. Dr. Prescott left Lydia, mounted his horse, and rode back home.  It wasn’t long before he came upon two other patriots on horseback, #Paul Revere and #William Dawes.  Revere and Dawes were headed to Concord to warn the residents that the British were marching toward their town, intent on seizing guns and ammunition.

Dr. Prescott, a Son of Liberty and a true patriot, joined Revere and Dawes on their mission.  When they were about three miles out of Lexington, Revere, Dawes, and Prescott were stopped by British soldiers.  Prescott veered his horse to the left and broke through the British patrol.  He jumped a low stone wall, rode through a swampy forest, and raced ahead to Concord, arriving about 1:30 a.m. He shouted a warning and the town bell began to ring.  The militia sprang into action.

In the meantime, William Dawes broke free from his captors but was later thrown from his horse.  Paul Revere was caught but then released after the British took his horse.  Both Dawes and Revere returned to Lexington on foot.

Paul Revere is well-known thanks to Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” written almost a hundred years after that fateful night.  But it was Samuel Prescott who actually finished the ride and alerted the people of Concord that the British were coming.

Click Picture for More Info

Click Picture for More Info

Prescott served as a doctor to the wounded during the #Revolutionary War.  He died at age twenty-six while a prisoner of war, giving his life for the cause of liberty.

#Children’s Nonfiction Books about the American Revolution and Paul Revere’s Ride:

#How Did Tea and Taxes Spark a Revolution? And Other Questions about the Boston Tea Party by Linda Gondosch  (Lerner Publishing Group)

Paul Revere and the Minutemen of the American Revolution by Ryan P. Randolph (Rosen Publishing Group

The Many Rides of Paul Revere by James Cross Giblin  (Scholastic Press)

Let me know of books you have read about the American Revolution that you enjoyed.  I’d love to hear from you.

Linda Gondosch

 

The #California Gold Rush and Nancy Gooch

California prospector

California prospector

A True Story from California’s Gold Rush Days

Here is a peek into California’s Gold Rush Days that may surprise you.

Most of us have heard about the day in 1848 when James Marshall spotted gold glittering in the tailrace of #John Sutter’s sawmill by the American River.  That discovery set off a wild stampede as gold seekers raced to California to claim their fortunes.

But this story is about Nancy Ross and Peter Gooch, both slaves, who were brought by their owner to California in 1849 or 1850 during the height of the gold frenzy.  Nancy was forced to leave her baby, Andrew, behind in Missouri.  In California she labored as a washerwoman, seamstress, and cook while Peter worked as a farmhand.

As hundreds of thousands of people poured into the #Coloma area in search of gold, the population grew so fast that California became a state in 1850.  Since slavery was outlawed in the state, Nancy and Peter were freed.  They continued to work long hours for the miners  — cooking, washing, mending clothes, and doing farm work and construction.  But now their pay went into their own pockets.  Nancy married Peter and became Mrs. Gooch.

Many years passed.  When Nancy had worked and saved enough money, she bought her son Andrew Monroe and his future wife, Sarah, out of slavery.  After her husband died, Nancy Gooch scraped together more savings and bought four train tickets for Andrew, Sarah, and their two young children, and they joined her in California.  She had not seen her son in twenty years.

The Gooch/Monroe family continued to work hard and save their earnings.  By the 1880s, many forty-niners sold their holdings and moved back East, with little to show for their efforts.  At the same time, the Gooch/Monroes purchased 80 acres in Coloma, then 240 more.  They finally purchased the land where Sutter’s Mill originally stood, the land where James Marshall had first discovered gold.

Marshall had grown old and penniless.  He died in 1885 and it was Nancy’s son, Andrew, who buried him and provided his funeral service.

Nancy Gooch went from slavery to being a successful businesswoman.  The land belonging to her and her son became a productive apple and pear orchard in the Coloma area.  She died at age 90 and is buried in the Coloma Pioneer Cemetery.

Hi, I’m Linda Gondosch.  I love the story of Nancy Gooch and the way it shows how hard work, goal setting, and perseverence can pay off in the end.  As a former teacher and the author of nonfiction books, I would like to recommend the following children’s books about the California gold rush:

Children’s Nonfiction Books About the California Gold Rush

Children's nonfiction for grades 4--6

Children’s nonfiction for grades 4–6

Gold!  Gold from the American River!  (Square Fish, 2014) by Don Brown.  Suitable for grades 4-6.

The Gold Rush (Life in the Old West)  (Crabtree Publishing Co., 2001) by Bobbie Kalman.  Suitable for grades 3–6.

What Was the Gold Rush?  (Grosset & Dunlap, 2013) by Joan Holub.  Suitable for grades  4-6.

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Book Fair in Columbus, Ohio

Book Fair in Columbus, Ohio

Mark your calendars!!  The #OHIOANA BOOK FESTIVAL will be held Saturday, April 23, 2016, at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel located at Capitol Square, 75 East State Street, #Columbus, Ohio 43215.         (10 am — 4:30 pm.)

This is a Big Event for book lovers of every age!  More than 3,000 people are expected to meet the authors and have their books autographed.  About 120 authors and illustrators will be there.  Best of all, it’s F-r-e-e-!

Kids' Room with costumed characters, crafts, stories, more

Kids’ Room with costumed characters, crafts, stories, more

There will also be panel discussions, Q & A with authors, poetry readings, door prizes, special activities for children and teens such as drawing with their favorite authors and illustrators, crafts, costumed book characters, balloon twisting, dress-ups as book characters, story times, and much more.

Every book genre (children to adult) will be found.  Since this blog is about stories from American history found in children’s nonfiction, here are four children’s authors to look for at the festival:

Julie Rubini, author of Missing Millie Benson, the true story of the writer of the first Nancy Drew mysteries.

Brandon Marie Miller, author of Women of Colonial America.

Karen Meyer, author of North to Freedom: A Novel of the Underground Railroad in Ohio.

And. of course, I’ll be there with my books about the Boston Tea Party, the #Lewis & Clark Expedition, and Saint Junípero Serra, founder of the California missions.  We look forward to meeting you!

#Linda Gondosch                For more info, check this website:

http://www.ohioana.org/programs/ohioana-book-festival/

 

 

Samuel Whittemore, American #Revolutionary War Hero

 

minuteman image

Colonial Minuteman

This is the story of an American #war hero.

On April 19, 1775, the American Revolutionary War broke out between the British army and the American colonists.  Early that morning the first shots were fired in the town of Lexington, Massachusetts, as 1,800 redcoats marched through the town toward Concord.  After failing to find any rebel ammunition in Concord, the British decided to march back to Boston and regroup.  They weren’t too worried about the American fighters, calling them inept cowards.  They had not yet met Samuel Whittemore!

Samuel Whittemore was 80 years-old (some say 78) on that fateful day.  He was working in his fields in the town of Menotomy, near Boston, when he noticed the redcoats approaching.  Whittemore, an experienced soldier who had fought for the British during the French and Indian War, had joined the American rebels.  He was ready to fight for independence.

After grabbing his musket, two dueling pistols, and a saber, Whittemore crouched behind a stone wall.  When the redcoats marched directly in front of him, he shot and killed a soldier with his musket.  Then he shot and killed one more and mortally wounded another with his pistols.  When he pulled out his saber and charged, a British soldier shot him in the face and beat him to the ground with the butt of his musket.  Other soldiers quickly moved in and stabbed Captain Whittemore thirteen times with their bayonets, leaving him for dead.

Whittemore’s friends were amazed when they found the old man still alive!  In fact, he was trying to reload his musket even though part of his face had been blown away.  Using a door as a stretcher, they rushed him to Cooper Tavern where Doctor Nathaniel Tufts declared him near death and sent him home to die.  But 80-year-old Samuel Whittemore was not ready to die.  He lived another 18 years, long enough to see the Americans win the Revolutionary War, and long enough to see George Washington serve as the country’s first president.

whittemore tombstone image

Samuel Whittemore’s gravestone in Arlington, Massachusetts

Samuel Whittemore lived to be 98 years-old, badly scarred, but proud to have served in the American Revolution.  In 2005 the Massachusetts legislature declared him an official state hero.  He is buried in Menotomy, now called #Arlington, Massachusetts.

If you would like to learn more about Captain Samuel Whittemore, I recommend these two children’s books:

Let It Begin Here!: Lexington & Concord: First Battles of the American Revolution by Dennis Brindell Fradin    (Walker & Company)

Let It Begin Here!: April 19, 1775: The Day the American Revolution Began by Don Brown   (Roaring Brook Press)