Tag Archives: Virginia

My Fascination With Old Homes and the First Thanksgiving


As many of you know, I’m mad about old homes and often feature them in my books. My latest time travel romance series, Ladies in Time, is all about cool old homes. Maybe living in antiquated houses most of my life has influenced me. The farm house my husband and I live in now was built just after the Civil War, probably because its predecessor was burned, but that’s another story. History fascinates me, and Colonial America has a powerful draw. Virginia is great state to immerse myself in that era, among others. The Civil War…

(Berkeley)

Years ago, while doing research for Traitor’s Legacy, the sequel to colonial American historical romance novel Enemy of the King, the idea came to me for ghostly time travel romance, Somewhere My Love. In addition to touring colonial Williamsburg, mom and I visited some of the lovely James River Plantations. Two of these stately homes, Berkeley and Shirley, inspired the house in Somewhere My Love, Foxleigh. Berkeley, originally called Berkeley Hundred and named after one of its founders, has a wealth of history behind it. As we toured the grounds, a strong sense of the past flowed over me, carrying me back.

The magnificent terraced boxwood gardens and lawn extend a quarter-mile from the front door to the James River. The mansion itself wasn’t built until 1726, but the plantation’s history reaches much farther back into America‘s roots. I didn’t realize this, but Berkeley was the actual site of the first Thanksgiving in America on Dec. 4, 1619.

(Breadseed Poppy– seed from Monticello)

 (Williamsburg)

 (Foxglove–historic herb/flower)

On December 4,1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred about 8,000 acres on the north bank of the James River near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie. It was about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia was established on May 14, 1607. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a day of thanksgiving to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodleaf held the service of thanksgiving.

In 1622 nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundred were killed in a Native American uprising, as well as a third of the entire population of the Virginia Colony. The Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned as the colonists withdrew to Jamestown and other more secure points. After several years, the site became Berkeley Plantation and was long the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia. 

(Reenactors)

Benjamin Harrison, son of the builder of Berkeley and the plantation’s second owner, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time Governor of Virginia. William Henry Harrison, Benjamin‘s third son, born at Berkeley, nicknamed Tippecanoe for his fame as an Indian fighter, later became the ninth President of the United States, in 1841. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was the 23rd President.

Many famous founding fathers and mothers were guests at this gracious estate. For more on Berkeley Plantation and a fascinating glimpse into early America visit: http://www.berkeleyplantation.com/ 

If you have the opportunity to visit in person, by all means go.

(Chipmunk on pumpkin by my mother)

For more on my work please visit my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/

Paranormal Account From The Shenandoah Valley


ghostly imageIt’s getting to be the time of year to share some chilling accounts. This is a repost for those who missed the original–taken from ‘Shenandoah Voices by late Valley Author/Historian John Heatwole. Our family knew John and thought a lot of him, an amazingly knowledgeable and talented man. He collected some fascinating and hair-raising accounts from his interviews with locals.

Dark Being:

“Between Dayton and Bridgewater (not far from where I live) around Christmas 1901 there were reports of a dark being standing by the road in the dead of night. Apparently, it threatened no one, but it was not considered human, and for a few weeks there was a general uneasiness in that part of Rockingham County. (The not human part would get my attention).

In Harrisonburg one night, a stranger stopped by C. L. Jordan’s livery stable on German Street and requested to be driven out to Bridgewater. Mr. Jordan harnessed a team and carriage and asked Follinsbe Welcher to accompany them, so he’d have a companion on the return trip.

Dark ForestThe three men drove along quietly for some time. They passed Dayton and were on the upgrade toward Herrings Hill when they beheld the dark form that had terrified the countryside by its mere silent presence. It stood close by the road, featureless. Mr. Jordan was a brave soul, and he sprang from the carriage to investigate. He grabbed the creature, but was overpowered by an unnatural strength and could do no more than call for help. Mr. Welcher rushed to his aid, only to find his added strength to be insufficient in contending with this entity. The unequal contest lasted for several minutes, and the two liverymen were left sprawled on the ground. The creature, the dark, unyielding form, had melted away into the night.”~

What was it and where did it go? Nobody seems to know, but I’m creeped out and hope it stays gone. I don’t want to see the dark being while driving by that spot at night.

***John Heatwole’s books can be found at Amazon.

“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” ~Vincent Van Gogh


My June catchup. Sorry I’ve been so absent on the blog.

“It is at the edge of a petal that love waits.” ~William Carlos Williams

For a hushed moment after sunrise the sun touched the garden and everything was new and perfect. Then the sun rose higher and I saw the Japanese beetles. They love the same plants I do, like roses. Despite  my annual battle with these noxious pests, my garden is a little bit of Eden. I tripled my efforts outdoors this year after my dear father’s passing. The Memorial Garden reminds me of a painting as it unfolds. Gardening is a living form of art.

Neglected corners remain in the yard, but gardening is an ongoing journey. I’m eyeing the long border along the road with ideas for improvements I might make late summer or fall. Efforts there must be undertaken with caution because of the road monster.

(Breadseed Poppy–seed originally from Monticello)

Did any of you see Finding Neverland years ago, starring a young Johnny Depp as Author J. M. Barrie? Excellent film, made before Depp went off the rails. Near the end of the movie, Kate Winslet, who portrays the mother of the boy who inspired Barrie to write Peter Pan, enters  the wondrous Neverland set Barrie has created. (Peter Pan began as a play in 1904.) At times, when I go into the garden, surrounded by magical beauty, it reminds me a bit of that scene.

There’s nothing quite like a near perfect day in the garden. I say ‘near’ because perfection is elusive and my idea of a magical garden excursion may not be yours. But when the cerulean sky reaches to heaven, flowers sparkle like jewels, and leafy green enfolds me, I am uplifted. In that moment, I am happy.

All winter and spring I dreamed of delphinium spires. This is ‘Million Dollar Blue,’ an improved kind from Wayside Gardens, more heat and cold tolerant.

On blue sky days, the ridges rise clearly beyond the wooded hills. Country noises fill air pungent with farm smells sweetened by herbs and flowers. Meadow larks trill from tall grass, bees hum, and butterflies flit. I chase them with my camera.

When a new birds calls, we must know what kind it is–recently an oriole. Red Winged black birds have a distinct cry. They mostly stay at the pond but sometimes visit our back garden. Goose squawks resound except during afternoon siestas beneath the pear trees. Never mind, I spoke too soon. Our two buddy brother roosters peck around and crow, a lot. A typical country sound.

We still hear cows. Young ones will remain until old enough to go, but we had to sell our dairy herd–sad sigh. We’re remaining on the farm, thank the good Lord. Son Cory will raise beef cows while Hubby Dennis runs his farm machinery business. As for me, I will garden, cherish my friends and family, and write again. Not much to report on that front, but I’m beginning to miss writing, an inherent part of who I am. Or was. I know Dad wouldn’t want me to give it up. His death, on top of my brother Chad’s, threw me more than I can say, but I’m slowly mending, largely with the help of garden therapy. I’ve come to realize missing them will ever be woven into the fabric of my life.

This country scene may not strike some as idyllic, but it’s heaven on earth to me.

Hollyhocks set off our barn in this pic. I used to call it ‘the old red barn’ until Cory redid it in white. A decorative barn quilt adds color to the front.

(Bathsheba climbing rose from David Austin)

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ~John Muir

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” ~Henry David Thoreau

(Red Admiral Butterfly on mini buddleia from Jackson and Perkins)

The fuzzy bumble bee (pictured below on larkspur) reminds me of a tiny teddy bear. The heirloom larkspur has been here longer than I have. The flowers come in blue,white, pink, and purple. A hardy annual, it reseeds for the next spring.

All images were taken this month by me.

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” ~Rachel Carson

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” ~ e.e. cummings

In the Midst of Winter–Wrens!


Since summer, we have had a tippy-tailed little bird bobbing around the back garden (Cone flower with Red Admiral Butterfly in the garden)and visiting the feeder that hangs near the pussy willow. As winter closes in on us–and it looks to be a cold one–we hear bird song. And it’s not only our mental mockingbird.

(Royalty free image of house wren. I haven’t gotten a good pic of ours yet)

Yesterday, I spied the singer up in the crabapple tree. Today, he sang from the pussy willow. But the really fun thing is that there’s a half-dozen wrens darting about. Never before have we had a flock of wrens. Must be my reward for planting more native wildflowers, and leaving evergreen shrubs unpruned until they are massive. Last years garden growth remains for spring cleaning. Tansy, catnip, massive native asters, parsley, seed heads…are still out there. Rather, a tangle. The moral of this gardening story is, if you’re untidy you get wrens.

I’ve added peanut butter, suet, and apples to the feeding choices in the back garden, though the wrens seem happy with sunflower seeds. When it gets bitter, I will refill the bird bath often and add extra fruit to the meld. My hope is to attract more fun birds.

(Inside looking out from our sunspace. Geraniums love it)

This past summer, especially late summer/fall, we had scores of butterflies visit the garden as a result of the copious flowers. They visited coreopsis, zinnias, coneflowers, bee balm, Queen Anne’s Lace, black-eyed Susan, phlox, tithonia, catnip, thyme., and many more offerings. The biggest bird draw were all the sunflowers, but they also like the flower seed heads. Insect eaters have plenty of bugs. Bees were also frequent garden visitors. The beautiful rose-colored flowering buckwheat was a hit and will make a return to the garden.

(Cone flower with Red Admiral Butterfly in the garden)

This spring, cleaning up and cutting back old growth awaits us, and some mulching. Replanting will follow. Winter takes its toll. But we are well on our way to a nature habitat.

Hubby Dennis is fixing up my greenhouse and will add a heat source. I am giddy at the thought of soon being back in there. I might even grow edibles.

Reports and pics to come.

Release Day and the Story Behind #CivilWar #timetravel #romance Secret Lady (Part Two)


Secret Lady is based on events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s Mennonite forebears during the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Historical accounts from the Civil War are a huge part of the inspiration behind Secret Lady. I grew up hearing about the war and its enormous impact on the family, and knew it would inevitably become the focus of a story or two.  But the initial challenge to write this story didn’t come from the war.

My eldest daughter, Alison, told me of the uncanny connection she and her friend, Cristin, have with the creepy closet in our house. It is, in fact, the only closet. Old homes were built without them, and it’s a slightly more modern addition. Throughout her childhood, Alison was terrified of this walk-in, but duck your head space, particularly unfortunate as it occupied the far-right corner of her bedroom. The extra creepy factor is the entry to hidden parts of the house lies at the back corner of the closet. Alison learned that Cristin, as a child, had recurring dreams (nightmares) about a closet in an old boxy white farmhouse that strongly resembled ours. In her dreams, Cristin ventured up the stairs, traveled to the end of the hall, and entered the last bedroom. She feared a black antique trunk (check—we have one from my great-grandfather) in the closet at the far right of the room where a disturbing presence dwelled. It wasn’t a huge leap to conceive a heroine with similar fears.

Story Blurb:
At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house “warbles” between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she’d paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?

Excerpt:

She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.

This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.

The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.

She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. “What do you want from me?”

There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~

Secret Lady is available in print and eBook from The Wild Rose Press and eBook from all major online booksellers.

In Kindle and print at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B07KNL7K3Z

In Nook Book: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secret-lady-beth-trissel/1129945225?ean=2940161956564

At iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/secret-lady/id1444455068?mt=11

At Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Beth_Trissel_Secret_Lady?id=s-2BDwAAQBAJ&hl=en

At Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/si/en/ebook/secret-lady

If you are interested in reviewing, leave me a comment or contact me. bctrissel@yahoo.com

For the fascinating story behind Secret Lady Part One visit this link: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/2018/11/17/fascinating-story-behind-secret-lady-book-3-ladies-in-time/

Secret Lady Is Out In Pre-order #CivilWar #TimeTravel #Romance


Secret Lady (Book 3, Ladies in Time) is a mystery/adventure time travel romance with carefully researched history and enough paranormal to categorize the story as fantasy.  

I drew inspiration for Secret Lady from events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s Mennonite forebears and their peers during the Civil War. The setting is the beautiful richly historic Shenandoah Valley where we live on a farm that has been in his family for four generations. Familiarity with earlier releases in the series isn’t necessary as I began a new thread.

Blurb:

Torn apart by time, reunited by flames.

At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house “warbles” between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she’d paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?

(Image from our farm)

New Excerpt

“They brought the draft back?” This was it. She had officially lost her mind.

“It never went away. Where have you been, miss? More to the point, who are you?” His gruff demand stirred the hair at her cheek.

She tilted her face at him. Only the barest outline of his strong features was visible, and yet… Man, was he hot. Focus Evie. “I told you. I’m Evie McIntyre. I live here with my grandmother. Didn’t you realize?”

“That so? I don’t suppose you would be a spy in a Mennonite house. Still. Never know. I best get a good look at you.”

“Who would I be spying for?”

“Rebs. Neither side wishes me well. I’m in no man’s land.”

Her heart drummed wildly. “Where does that leave me?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” He steadied Evie on her feet.

 Was it? She had no idea what was going on and watched dazedly as he took something from the leather pouch hanging over his shoulder. “What’s that?”

“Lucifers.”

He’d lost her again. There must be a powerful resistance movement at work. She didn’t follow politics. Maybe she should. Had matters come to an explosive head tonight? Why hadn’t her grandmother said something?

He drew what resembled matches from a small metal container and struck one. Sulfurous sparks added pungency to the room. He lit the stubby candle in a tin lantern on an end table. Shadows danced from the pale taper glowing through the punches in the metal. Pretty, how the light made patterns on the ceiling.

 Wait. Where had that lantern come from?

The stained-glass lamp Grandma G. treasured was just there before she went to bed. Dear God in heaven. What had happened to the room?~

(Our farm)

Release date for Secret Lady is 2019-01-09.  The novel is in pre-order at Amazon now: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B07KNL7K3Z/

***On release day, Secret Lady will be available in print as well as kindle and in eBook from all other online booksellers.

Fascinating Story Behind Secret Lady (Book 3 Ladies in Time)


Many stories lie at the heart of my upcoming January 9th release, time travel romance Secret Lady (Book 3 Ladies in Time) from The Wild Rose Press. The characters in this mystery/adventure aren’t related to the first two releases in the series as I began a new thread. While strongly historical, Secret Lady has enough paranormal in it to categorize the story as fantasy.

The setting for Secret Lady is as close to home as I can get, our old farm-house (with a slight upgrade) in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I transformed our lush dairy farm into ‘Lavender and Lace Herb Farm’ and relocated it several miles up the road on the farm we once rented. During the Civil War, horses were hidden in the Alpine like woods beyond the house.

(Our house with the wild midsummer garden by Elise)
(Behind our farm by hubby Dennis)(Our pond by Dennis)

I gleaned inspiration for the story from events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s family, and their peers during the Civil War. My great-great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg and was captured at Pickett’s Charge, but the focus of this story is our richly historic valley. I grew up hearing about The Burning (autumn 1864) when Major General Philip Sheridan brought hard war to our green valley, called The Bread Basket of the Confederacy. In Sheridan’s ruthless destruction of farms, livestock, and supplies that might sustain Rebel troops, he unleashed Hell on countless innocents. Among the greatest sufferers in Rockingham County were the peaceful Mennonites, my husband’s ancestors among them. These plain, hardworking people are my adopted people and a vital part of the book.

(Old-Order Mennonite Buggy Passing our farm. Image by Dennis)

Our farm stands where the worst of The Burning took place, and it occurred to me that our Victorian house might have been built soon after the Civil War because its predecessor was destroyed. We knew our home dated at least to the mid 1870’s from an elderly woman who visited here decades ago and said she was born in the house. We dated our home even earlier after finding it on an 1866 map, plus our bank barn has original features that pin it to that era.

(Our old barn. Image by Beth. It used to be red.)

This past spring, in what was my last conversation with my father-in-law before his death, I asked him if he knew of a farm that once stood on our land that might have been destroyed during The Burning. His adamant ‘yes!’ surprised my husband who wasn’t aware of its existence. However, hubby never asked.

Dad Trissel told us he used to walk back the long lane that leads behind our farm up to the wooded hills beyond and there he saw the remains of a burned-out farm (woods have since overgrown the site). He also told us our farm used to encompass that land which was later parceled off. We decided to walk back to the woods and search for any remnants from the past. Fortunately, we chose April for our exploration as the only trace of earlier dwellers our untrained eyes could detect were the faithful daffodils outlining what must once have been a house, barn, and outbuildings.

(Daffodil discovery in dry early spring before rains came with me and granddaughter Emma. Images by Elise )

If we had chosen any other season for our walk, we wouldn’t have noted anything. We later learned foundation stones and usable timber were reused in rebuilding homes and barns after The Burning. Scavengers must have been at work, and nature has taken a toll over the years. I’m not sure what my father-in-law saw in the nineteen forties, but more than we did. The daffodils are an heirloom variety that used to grow in my garden, likely from those same bulbs. Not appreciating their historic value, I replaced them with more attractive varieties and must restore these blooms to a spot in the yard.

More research is needed to determine whether the farm behind us was, indeed, burned during Sheridan’s infamous valley campaign and whether that family built our present house or fled, and another took their place in the building. We learned the road that runs in front of our house used to cut through the meadow, which would account for a farm being located back there. The stream ran beside it in those days, and springs also provided water. It could be as Dad Trissel said.

A strong sense of history hangs over the woods, our farm, and our fair valley called Shenandoah, ‘Daughter of the Stars.’  Fiery war once raged here, but we survived and rebuilt. Of course, we did, we’re Virginians.

(The valley much as it would have looked then. Image by daughter Elise)

Secret Lady Story Blurb:

Torn apart by time, reunited by flames.

At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house “warbles” between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she’d paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?

Excerpt:

She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.

This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.

The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.

She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. What do you want from me?”

There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~

Secret Lady will be out in kindle and print at Amazon and in eBook from all major online booksellers.

In kindle and print  at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B07KNL7K3Z/

In eBook from all major online booksellers.

Follow my Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6

Follow me on BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/beth-trissel

***If you are interested in reviewing please contact me: bctrissel@yahoo. com


(Old barn behind our farm. Now torn down–sadly.)