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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Frogmore

The Road to Frogmore--A Gullah Recipe


A lot of eating goes on in this book, but of all the dishes mentioned, this one recipe has had the longest life span. It is still the iconic dish served on St. Helena Island for almost every celebration. 

Suggested Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 gallons water
  • Juice of one (1) lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, The general rule is 2 tablespoons crab boil seasoning per gallon water (or more to taste)*
  • Redskin new potatoes (depending on size, 3 or more per person)
  • 2 pounds spicy sausage (like andouille or kielbasa, etc.), cut into 1/2-inch slices 
  • 10 to 12 ears of shucked corn on the cob, broken into 3-inch pieces
  • 4 pounds uncooked shrimp in shell, preferably jumbo-size shrimp**

Some people like to substitute fresh crab for the shrimp. Others add chicken pieces or other vegetables and seafoods. There are no frogs in it, although i suspect you could add frog legs instead of the chicken, if you were so inclined.  The recipe is believed to have been developed at community suppers when the neighbors brought whatever they had on hand, and everything was dumped into a huge pot of water and boiled together.

Instructions:
  • In a very large stock pot over medium-high heat, add the water, lemon, salt, and Old Bay Seasoning; bring to a boil.
  • When the seasoned water comes to a boil, add redskin potatoes and boil for 20 minutes.  When done, the potatoes should be easily pierced with a knife but not mushy.
  • Add sausage and gently boil, uncovered, 5 minutes.
  • Add corn and cook and continue cooking an additional 5 minutes (begin timing immediately, do not wait until water is boiling).
  • Add shrimp and cook and additional 3 to 5 minutes longer.  Do not overcook the shrimp.  Remove from heat and drain immediately.

Scoop meats and vegetables out of the broth and dump on a picnic table covered in old newspapers.
Serve with lots of paper towels or napkins and ice-cold beverages, plus melted butter for the corn, cocktail sauce for the shrimp, and sour cream or ketchup for the potatoes.  This is a messy dish; you’ll need a whole handful of napkins or paper towels.




The Kindle version is on sale for just $.99 all this week. 
         Click here to purchase your copy.





The Road to Frogmore -- Images

In many ways, Beaufort, SC, and nearby St. Helena Island are wonderful places for a historian  to catch a glimpse of the Old South.  Beaufort has some modern homes, somewhere, but the center of the city is still full of antebellum mansions and giant live oak trees that were there when the Civil War started and long survived it.  Take the Hamilton House, for example (sometimes referred to by its original name, Tidalholm.)  You might recognize it if you are a movie buff. It played a small role in "Forrest Gump" and "The Great Santini," and it was also the house where the reunion of "The Big Chill" took place.

It was recently listed for sale at a handsome $4.5 million, and one assumes the inside has been renovated, but from the road it looks just like it did in 1862. Here is a picture I took in 2012. And next to it is a tiny treasure of a picture of  its front yard, with the Gideonite women who came to Beaufort with Laura Towne in 1862. Yes, it's exactly the same house. 
















On St. Helena Island, the Brick Church, where Laura taught her first classes, is still being used for services, and in the churchyard you'll be able to find the old school bell and  commemorative headstones for both Laura and her partner Ellen Murray.  Although the actual wooden building has disappeared, a historical marker shows the location of the Penn School.












































Just a mile or so down the road, the burned out remains of the "White Church" still stand guard over a graveyard that holds the plundered crypt built for the nefarious Fripp family of slaveowners. These aren't museum pieces, protected by stanchions and velvet ropes. These are the remnants of the story of "The Road to Frogmore" -- places where you can walk freely and alone, listening for the voices of the past.

Not all the landmarks are so welcoming, unfortunately. The plantation Laura and Ellen bought and used for more classes is now a private residence, reached only by a distinctly unwelcoming dirt road, large "Posted! Keep out!" signs, and at the far end, a fellow standing on guard with a shotgun. We did not visit.

If you're in the mood for more pictures, please visit my Pinterest board dedicated to the people and places of Frogmore. You'll find it at https://www.pinterest.com/roundheadlady/the-road-to-frogmore-a-civil-war-novel/


The Kindle version is on sale for just $.99 all this week. 
Click here to purchase your copy.

The Road to Frogmore -- The Inspiration

Whose Story Is It? Laura's? Or Rina's?

I began this book as an exercise in speedy writing. When I wrote my 50,000 words of “Gideon’s Ladies” for National Novel Writing Month” (NaNoWriMo), I typed away without ever considering point of view. The result was a mish mash. Each day’s output had a slightly different focus, and a second reading revealed that I had no idea where I was going.  

The story of the Port Royal missionaries is, of course, a mish mash in itself. People come and go. Leadership changes. The events of the Civil War affect what is happening in the Low Country with unexpected results. The missionaries become involved in one dispute after another, and their alliances change with every change in the political winds that blow through their affairs.  

I began to understand the magnitude of the problem when I tried to use Randy Ingermanson’s “Snowflake Pro” software to outline my novel. It’s a 10-step program, and I only made it to step two before I knew I was lost. Step Two asked for a one-paragraph synopsis of the story: the set-up, the disasters that occur, and the ending. Sounds simple, right? Hah! Story takes place in South Carolina during the Civil War. OK. That’s the set-up. So far, so good. 

Now for disasters. Those we have in abundance. Storms, raids, murders, boll weevils, smallpox, yellow fever, vandalism, fistfights, searing heat, killing frosts, hangings, invasions, battles, conflicting laws, drownings—the list goes on and on. But whose disasters are they? 


  • The emancipation proclamation is a disaster for the cotton agent whose workers walk off the job to celebrate their freedom. 
  • A threat of invasion is a disaster for the missionaries whose sponsors call them home, but it’s a victory for the plantation owner who sees the slave schools close and his field hands come back to work. 
  • The failure of a cotton crop because of worm infestation is a disaster for the cotton farmer but a blessing for the field hand, who can now devote full time to the crops that will feed his family through the winter. 
  • The missionary-teachers celebrate the firing of a corrupt cotton agent, who must return home in disgrace. 
  • The cotton agents smile when they see a prominent minister recalled for lining his own pockets with money that should have gone to the plantations. It all depends on your point of view. 

I began to find my way when I started asking the right questions. Whose story is this? Who is most affected by the events? Who has the most to lose?  
 
I thought I knew that my focus would fall on Laura Towne, the founder of the Penn Center, but she was not yet in the area when some of the crucial events took place. In almost every case, the slaves were the ones whose lives were being turned upside down. But could I write the story from the slaves’ point of view? That would be a real stretch, for a couple of reasons.  

First, there is almost no evidence of what the slaves thought about the goings-on in the Low Country during the Civil War. It would be accurate to say they were confused, I suppose, but there is no actual evidence to back up even that claim. Because it was against state law to teach a slave to read or write, there are almost no letters or diaries. Most of the slaves spoke the Gullah language among themselves. The first whites who came to work with them found them almost unintelligible. With no record of what they thought, I would be unwilling to trust my creative ability to fictionalize their attitudes. 

Second, the slaves were not in a position to understand much of what was going on around them. Even if we could find some record of their reactions, they were limited because no one had ever told them about politics, or military strategy, or religious differences. Some of them had heard about Baby Jesus and Uncle Sam, but they had no real understanding of those concepts. Their white masters had wanted them kept as ignorant as possible because a lack of knowledge kept them from rising up in revolt. No, the slaves would not do as the narrators of my story.

And yet, I needed to tell part of the story from their point of view! As I struggled to deal with this issue, I realized that I did have a bit of evidence about the slaves after all. In the Laura Towne diary and letters, Laura makes repeated references to Rina, the woman who does her laundry and ironing for a small salary. Rina held an important place in the slave matriarchy, evidenced by the fact that when the slaves assembled for a “Shout,” they did so at Rina’s cabin. 

Laura, too, found that Rina was invaluable. The diary echoes with one phrase—“Rina tells me that. . . .” As trust built up between the two women, Rina became Laura’s window into the world of the slaves. Rina also functioned in the book as something of a one-woman Greek chorus, commenting on the events of the day and the foolishness of the white people around her. 


The Kindle version is on sale for just $.99 all this week. 

Click here to purchase your copy.


The Road to Frogmore--Synopsis and Reviews


Book of the Week
June 5 -- 9, 2017


Laura Town and her life-long friend Ellen Murray joined the Port Royal Experiment in 1862 to test their abolitionist ideals against the realities of slaves abandoned by their owners in the Low Country of South Carolina. They hoped to find a place they could call home, as well as an outlet for their talents as schoolteacher and doctor.. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until . . . 

. . . until they experienced the climate—violent storms spawned over the Atlantic, searing heat, tainted by swamp gasses, cockroaches, bedbugs, swarming mosquitoes,and the pesky “no-see-ums” that left nasty bites in their wake. 

. . . until they met the slaves themselves—full of fear and resentment of white people caused by centuries of cruelty, slaves who had never seen the outside world, slaves whose superstitions included breath-sucking night hags, evil graybeards living in local trees, and unfree spirits rolling down the roads at night in balls of fire. 

. . . until the dedication of the missionaries found itself tested by lack of food, furniture, medicine, and the bare necessities of life. Until the unity of the abolitionist effort fell apart under the strains of religious differences and unrecognized prejudices. 

. . . and until the combination of battle wounds and a raging smallpox epidemic made death their constant companion. Could these two independent women survive the Civil War and achieve their goal of turning slaves into citizens?


What readers had to say about the book:

"Carolyn Schriber shares with us the intimate stories of the people involved in the transition from slavery to emancipation – the trials they suffer, the challenges they face, the difficulties that must be dealt with in relationships on all sides. The stories Schriber shares are emotional, sometimes humorous, and both familiar and unfamiliar. Schriber doesn’t hesitate to get to the guts of the issues and reflect from all sides the genuine emotions involved"
—Rev. Faith Nettleton-Scherer


"A fascinating journey into a little known but emblematic chapter of the Civil War. The Road to Frogmore reveals how that epic struggle was not only to emancipate America's slaves but our very understanding of freedom and humanity. In vibrantly portraying the transformation from slavery to freedom, Carolyn Schriber astutely reveals how much we have still to learn from that struggle."
    —Leila Levinson, author of Gated Grief


"Learning about historical events through the eyes of the people that lived during those times is one of the most fascinating ways to approach history. Carolyn Schriber did a wonderful job of researching, along with using information from both diaries and letters to make discoveries regarding the women who made a huge impact on the lives and times of emancipated slaves."
—Joyce M. Gilmour, Editing TLC


"In The Road to Frogmore, Carolyn Schriber is meticulous in her research of the events surrounding the mission of “Turning Slaves into Citizens”.  She uses imaginary journal excerpts written by Rina, a slave woman, as a way to bind the many stories gleaned from diaries and letters of volunteers that served.  Carolyn’s treatment of the Gullah language for the reader is brilliant."
—Elizabeth Egerton Wilder, author of Granite Hearts


"If only history had been this spell-binding when I was in school! The title of Carolyn P. Schriber’s recent release, The Road to Frogmore: Turning Slaves into Citizens, grabbed my attention immediately and never let go. The author has masterfully woven details from her exhaustive research into a book that reads like a well-plotted novel, yet all the characters are real people and all the events factual. I give the book five stars out of five and recommend it to history buffs as well as those like me who are looking for a good read with a bonus. I can see The Road to Frogmore used in high school or college history classes where it would spark many rich and lively discussions. It would also be an excellent book club pick for the same reason."
--Candace George Thompson, author of Still Having Fun: A Portrait of a Military Marriage, 1941-2007.


The Kindle version is on sale for just $.99 all this week. 
Click here to purchase your copy.


A Remarkable Woman You've Probably Never Heard of. . .


Miss Laura M. Towne was a Unitarian, an Abolitionist, and a medical student.  In 1862, at the age of 37, she left her Philadelphia home to travel to the Sea Islands of South Carolina.  Her purpose: to do whatever she could to help the newly freed slaves become useful and productive citizens.The Road to Frogmore, published in 2012, tells the story of the first few years she spent in South Carolina during the Civil War.

 Laura Town and her life-long friend Ellen Murray joined the Port Royal Experiment in 1862 to test their abolitionist ideals against the realities of slaves abandoned by their owners in the Low Country of South Carolina. They hoped to find a place they could call home, as well as an outlet for their talents as schoolteacher and doctor.. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until . . . 

. . . until they experienced the climate—violent storms spawned over the Atlantic, searing heat, tainted by swamp gasses, cockroaches, bedbugs, swarming mosquitoes,and the pesky “no-see-ums” that left nasty bites in their wake. 

. . . until they met the slaves themselves—full of fear and resentment of white people caused by centuries of cruelty, slaves who had never seen the outside world, slaves whose superstitions included breath-sucking night hags, evil graybeards living in local trees, and unfree spirits rolling down the roads at night in balls of fire. 

. . . until the dedication of the missionaries found itself tested by lack of food, furniture, medicine, and the bare necessities of life. Until the unity of the abolitionist effort fell apart under the strains of religious differences and unrecognized prejudices. 

. . . and until the combination of battle wounds and a raging smallpox epidemic made death their constant companion. Could these two independent women survive the Civil War and achieve their goal of turning slaves into citizens?

In the next couple of days, you'll have a chance to meet some of the real people with whom she worked--and those against whom she had to struggle in order to establish the kind of school she wanted to provide for the children she loved.

The Road to Frogmore,  a biographical novel by Carolyn P. Schriber, won a Silver Medal from The Military Writers Society of America in 2013. A digital version will be available for free in the Kindle Store from Monday, April 25, 2016, through Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Don’t miss this chance to read the story of a remarkable woman.