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18th c. Culture Alamance Hillsborough NC History Season 5 The Fiery Cross

The NC History Behind The Outlander Story

March 21, 2020

Episodes 504 & 505

So, Sassenachs, are you ready for some more fun North Carolina history facts as they relate to Outlander Episodes 504 and 505? Well, I’ve been exploring and researching some things from the last two episodes. I’ll be honest, there’s so much to share I should have broken this into two posts but I didn’t start working on my research until this week. I’ll try to keep things as brief as possible with lots of links.  Ready, set, go (or as the MacKenzies would say, Tulach Ard)!!

Perfume for Lizzie

In colonial America, perfumes would have been easily made concoctions made from a single herb or flower. Orange blossom, which is what Bree gave Lizzie in Episode 504, was very common. Some perfumes were imported from London to the colonies. Want to make your own orange blossom perfume? Check out this recipe from The Toilet of Flora published in London in 1779 by Pierre-Joseph Buc’hoz. 

The Mysterious Coin

When Brianna finds the silver coin in Jemmy’s basket in Episode 504, my first thought was did it hold any meaning specifically related to Bonnet. She did turn the coin from front to back and we got a pretty good quick look at it.  My grandson was into coin collecting a couple of years ago and I was intrigued by the discoveries he made. What better thing to do than put on my coin collecting hat to go searching for Jemmy’s mystery coin. I believe the coin is either a King George II Sixpence (1757) or a King George III Sixpence (1787). If it’s the former, King George is turned the wrong way. If it’s the latter, then that coin traveled through time to be in Jemmy’s basket in 1771.  Take a look and tell me what you think. 

Coin Collage


It’s A Bird, It's A Plane, It's A...?

No, I don’t think Bree heard a woman screaming when she went out to get wood for the fire in Episode 504. I think that might have been a Carolina panther (or a painter, as the mountain folk call them). Take a listen to this YouTube video…

The panther in the YouTube video is a Florida panther, a very close cousin, but it sure sounds like what Bree heard, doesn’t it? The panther has been supposedly extinct in North Carolina since the early 1920’s but there have been many reported sightings in recent years. Does the panther still exist in North Carolina? Check out these articles and I’ll let you decide. 

The Militia

Militia (1)

Who and what comprised the militia in Colonial North Carolina? This episode accurately portrays that militia members didn’t wear uniforms but dressed in their day to day clothing.  For a look at what a member of the militia might have worn in the 18th century, check out “Building a 1750’s Militia Impression” by Fort Dobbs Historic Site in North Carolina. Also, the show got the age minimum for joining the militia right. Our friends at Alamance Battleground State Historic Site have shared that young men had to be 16 years of age of older to join the militia. Josiah will just have to wait a couple of years. For even more information on colonial militias in North Carolina, read this article.

Isaiah Morton from Granite Falls, NC

Isaiah Morton (1)

Fraser’s Ridge is a fictional place (gasp!) and so is the oft-mentioned Woolam’s Creek but Granite Falls is not. The love-smitten Isaiah Morton in Episode 504 hailed from Granite Falls, an actual location in Caldwell County, North Carolina.  The town of Granite Falls itself wasn’t officially established until 1899 but don’t despair that the show writers got it wrong! Named for the falls and the granite boulders on Gunpowder Creek, this town does have plenty of 18th century history! Pioneer, Andrew Baird, established an iron works next to the creek in 1791.  Find out more about Granite Falls, Caldwell County and other places to visit in the area here

William Reed's Ordinary

Speaking of actual places, in Episode 505, Jamie found Colonel Knox at William Reed’s Ordinary in Hillsborough. I was thrilled to find that this establishment actually existed in Hillsborough as a tavern and place of lodging during the time of Jamie’s visit!  William Reed’s Ordinary dates back to 1754 when it was built and it still stands today.  From the Historical Society of Hillsborough’s Newsletter No. 31:

There are various references in early COURT MINUTES to William Reed’s dwelling house “near the Court House.” Reed and his wife, Elizabeth Douglas, were living in Orange County in December, 1752, when he was appointed deputy to William Churton, and in 1753 deputy clerk of the Court. In the COURT MINUTES Reed petitions for a license to keep an Ordinary or Tavern at his house on Lot 30. The dwelling house being located on “The GREATER KING STREET,” the Road to Halifax, and the old Indian Trading Path, was well-placed to be used as a tavern. DB No. 1 reveals that on Sept. 8, 1755, William Churton sells to William Reed, Tavernkeeper, “Two certain Lotts of Land (No. 30 and No. 40) in Corbinton on the north side of the great Street commonly called King Street, and a Lott (No. 29) on the West for the sum of 15 shillings for each Lott.” (Included in the deed is a provision for building within two years.)

C.J. Sauthior drew his map of Hillsborough in October, 1768, and on it, on lot 30 there is a dwelling house where the present house stands. There were two outbuildings behind the main house, and a garden to the East, where oral tradition says it stood within living memory. There seens to be a structure to the stream call the Still-house Branch running through the Western edge of lot 30. Very likely this was an early still-house to supply William Reed’s Tavern.

Here’s a picture of William Reed’s Tavern which stands at 157 E. King Street in Hillsborough.  It is on Hillsborough’s self-guided walking tour and is now on my bucket list of places to see this year. 

You might also be interested to know that the house is considered haunted. Plan your visit to Historic Hillsborough here

Chanterelle Mushrooms

What the heck is a chanterelle mushroom? That’s the question I found asking myself during Episode 505. Am I the only one who asked that question? Anyway, chanterelle mushrooms do grow in North Carolina and here are a couple of articles about them that you may find of interest.

Apparently, they are very tasty and would make a wonderful soup.  Here’s one recipe I found that you might want to try.  Have you ever seen a chanterelle mushroom?

Claire's Goldenseal

In Episode 505, when Claire was out in the woods before Roger tried to shoot her (LOL), she was foraging for goldenseal. I had never heard of it but after doing some research, I found that it is grown in the mountains of North Carolina as a medicinal plant and is on the endangered list in the state. It is also suggested that it cures just about anything that ails you. Read here to learn about all of the illnesses it could possibly cure. 

Today's Outlander NC History Lesson

The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present.

David Thelan

I told you there was a lot to share. Wonderful history that changes the way we look at things – past and present. As I said in my last post, the history that Diana Gabaldon has revealed to me is astonishing! And I’m just beginning to learn all that there is to know.  It is so much fun dissecting these episodes and learning things about my own state. I’m sure enjoying my self-imposed history project and I hope you are enjoying reading my discoveries.

Did you learn something you didn’t know before? Do you have something you’d like to share?  If the answer to either question is yes, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Your History-Obsessed Outlander Friend (or is it Your Outlander- Obsessed History Friend),

Beth

18th c. Culture 18th Century Garden Plants Claire's Garden Fraser's Ridge Outlander North Carolina

Garden Like It’s 1767!

March 19, 2020

We got a glimpse of Claire’s “Big House” garden in episode 505, Perpetual Adoration! Tara Heller has some good advice about gardening as well as how to get a Colonial garden without going back in time to get it!

As we look toward Spring, one of the things we think about is planning a garden. A garden is a great way to limit your dependence on the grocery store during the Summer and early Fall months. In the past year, I have become more and more interested in how gardening was done in Colonial America. Do you have the same interest? Then read on…

Planning Your Garden

One of the first decisions you should make when constructing a garden is where you want it to be in relation to your home. If you are going to be using herbs regularly in cooking or medicinal purposes, your plot should be within close proximity to your back door. Map out how you want your garden to look. Figure out what herbs you want to grow; what will you be able to use in your household? Make sure you know your gardening zone because that will help you know what grows best in your neck of the woods. Don’t forget to plant something for the pollinators! Bees are important to gardening success, and, as we all know, will be a symbol for the upcoming Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. Planting native plants helps the pollinators in your region. Here is a great checklist for actions to take to attract pollinators to your yard. Consider adding companion flowers and herbs to your vegetables.

When selecting seeds, definitely check into heirloom seeds and heirloom starters. The reason for this is that they are good for seed-saving, unlike hybrid seeds. The seeds from an heirloom plant are closest to the original, and they tend to produce a better flavor and are more nutritious. Seeds for Generations sells heirloom seeds, and Johnny’s Selected seeds carries heirloom, organic, and open-pollinator seeds. Another great resource is the Seed Savers Exchange. This organization has not only heirloom vegetables but herbs and flowers, as well.

When you start to create your garden beds, keep in mind that the Colonials never used pesticides or chemicals. Their soil was what we’d now call organic. Nothing was wasted in the 18th century, and people used composted kitchen scraps and manure from their horses and cows to fertilize their plants. Many also had chickens that roamed free, and they enjoyed the bugs that they’d find on the garden plants. I started composting last year and while I am still a beginner, I have enjoyed re-purposing and not throwing out a lot of kitchen scraps. 

Just a few of the plants Claire mentioned planting in her garden in A Breath of Snow and Ashes:

  • Catmint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Turnips
  • Cabbage
  • Pole Beans
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Yarrow
  • Rosemary
  • Three Lavender bushes
  • A dozen large peanut bushes

Lavender and rosemary should be cut in the morning, though, when the volatile oils have risen with the sun; it wasn’t as potent if taken later in the day.

Claire in ‘A Breath of Snow and Ashes’

Another plant Colonists grew was hemp. George Washington is documented as growing hemp. Fun Fact: the original US constitution is written on hemp paper!  Hemp was used in making fabrics and other textiles. It was also used to make sails for ships, and the rope that hauled the sails.

Plant uses

A lot of the plants grown in the garden were used to make teas or tinctures, which was the easiest way to get medicine into a patient. This is how a lot of herbs were used to treat different ailments. It was important until the Townshend Taxation Act. Tea would have been shipped to London from China and would sit in the warehouse for years before being shipped to the colonists.

From the website tching.com, the types of tea that were dumped into the Boston Harbor:
“Benjamin Woods Labaree’s The Boston Tea Party says the three tea ships contained 240 chests of Bohea, 15 of Congou, 10 of Souchong (all black teas), 60 of Singlo, and 15 of Hyson (both green teas). It may surprise you to know that green tea accounted for about 22% of the shipment’s total volume and 30% of the value. “

As mentioned in the first part of this series, Bee Balm was grown and used as an antimicrobial (not that they knew what that meant back then but Claire certainly did. However, they knew it had healing properties). Lemon Balm has calming properties and is helpful with insect bites. Echinacea (or coneflower) is anti-inflammatory and bees and butterflies love it. Basil is anti- inflammatory and anti-viral. You can use it in tea and cook with it. Lavender has antiseptic properties and helps with sleep.

Yarrow (often mentioned in the books) stops bleeding and is great for circulation. It is also drought-tolerant. Sadly, I’m sure it can’t relieve Droughtlander! The leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in salads. The leaves can be chewed to relieve a toothache. And get this, soldiers would carry dried yarrow leaves with them into battle to treat wounds! I’m sure Claire, Jamie, and Roger did just that! Made into salve, it has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve arthritis. Rosehips are anti-inflammatory and can be used in facial moisturizers. Calendula is awesome too, as it can be added to salads and soups, and medicinally, it treats skin ailments, digestive issues, as well as women’s issues. The dried blossoms were also used to make dyes. It’s an easy plant to grow, because as the seed head dries, the plant reseeds itself.

Adding Character to Your Garden

After you have your plan down for plants and how you are constructing your garden beds, you can think about some of the architecture or borders for your garden. How about creating a place in your garden as a sanctuary for your own quiet place to unwind? Claire had a bench that Jamie made for her sitting in a corner of her garden where she could enjoy the shade:

I waved him to the little bench Jamie had made for me in a shady nook beneath a flowering dogwood that overhung the corner of the garden.

Claire from A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Many Colonial gardens had picket fencing or wattle fencing, because a fence was necessary for keeping animals from eating the plants and vegetables. While wattle fencing is probably cheaper, it is time-consuming. It is really cool and artistic-looking, however, and gives a rustic appearance to your garden. You can use the same method to create trellises for your climbing plants.

Garden decor wasn’t necessarily popular during the Colonial period–gardens were necessities, and, unless you were well off, statuary wasn’t a common site among the bee balm and mung beans! Today, we have so many options to add some whimsy to our garden; if you want to add some Outlander to your plot, you can create your own miniature standing stone circle, or add or make homes for garden faeries! Here is a directional sign that I made last year for my garden as a way to add a little Outlander.

Yes, I added the actual miles!

Modern Day Home Apothecary

My herbalist friend has an amazing herb closet and stock. She was nice enough to allow me to share it with you.

For more fun, the Outlander Starz website has an interactive “Outlander Apothecary Cabinet” with herbs that Claire would have used–just scroll through the cabinet and when one of the herbs pops up, click on it to learn more. Check it out!

She Sells She Sheds…

Another fun structure I plan to add to my garden is a little She Shed. Would you consider Claire’s Surgery her She Shed?!? I tend to think so.

from Harmony L. Tersanschi

If you’re looking to create a historically accurate garden, or simply learn about the ways Colonials took care of their plants, Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way by historic gardener Wesley Greene is a great resource for Colonial gardening and practices. I hope this was helpful and can get you dreaming and brainstorming about starting your own Colonial-style garden like Claire. Come join me on Instagram as I plan to share my garden this year!

18th c. Culture Fraser's Ridge NC History Outlander North Carolina Season 5 The Fiery Cross Uncategorized

Fact or Fiction: Fanny Beardsley’s Baby & Inheritance

March 12, 2020

Guest Post from Traci Thompson

In our last Outlander “fact or fiction,” we examined  North Carolina land grants. In this installment, we will take a look at North Carolina inheritance law as it relates to the story. 

Season five episode Free Will, in a stellar adaptation, recently dealt with the creepy Beardsley family storyline. In both the book and the show, a child is born to Fanny Beardsley, and it is revealed that the baby (who is later named Alicia) is not her husband’s and is of mixed race. In the book The Fiery Cross, Claire and Jamie have this discussion: 

“Do you think we ought to take her?” I asked cautiously. “I mean – what might happen to her if we don’t?”  Jamie snorted faintly, dropping his arm, and leaned back against the wall of the house. He wiped his nose, and tilted his head toward the faint rumble of voices that came through the chinked logs. “She’d be well cared for, Sassenach. She’s in the way of being an heiress, ken.” That aspect of the matter hadn’t occurred to me at all. “Are you sure?” I said dubiously.  “I mean, the Beardsleys are both gone, but as she’s illegitimate –“ He shook his head, interrupting me. “Nay, she’s legitimate.” “But she can’t be. No one realizes it yet except you and me, but her father – “Her father was Aaron Beardsley, so far as the law is concerned,” he informed me. “By English law, a child born in wedlock is the legal child – and heir – of the husband, even if it is known for a fact that the mother committed adultery. And yon woman did say that Beardsley married her, no?” It struck me that he was remarkably positive about this particular provision of English law…”I see,” I said slowly. “So little Nameless will inherit all Beardsley’s property, even after they discover that he can’t have been her father. That’s…reassuring.”  “Aye,” he said quietly…”So ye see,” he went on, matter-of-factly, “she’s in no danger of neglect. An Orphan Court would give Beardsley’s property – goats and all” – he added, with a faint grin – “to whomever is her guardian, to be used for her welfare.”
– The Fiery Cross, Chapter 31, “Orphan of the Storm,” p. 510-511. 

Jamie is certainly correct that the colony of North Carolina was under English law. But should he be quite so certain about the nature of bastardy, adultery, and inheritance under that law?

The Beardsley property from Outlander episode Free Will

In reality, English law was not straightforward nor one-size-fits-all on the issue of legitimacy. Sir William Blackstone, in his commentary on English law (1765-69) declared that some circumstances would make children born in wedlock bastards in the eyes of the law:

“As bastards may be born before the coverture or marriage state has begun, or after it has been determined, so also children born during wedlock may in some circumstances be bastards…”1

One reason given by Blackstone was if it were known to be impossible for the man to have fathered a child, such as not being physically present with his wife at time of conception: 

“So also if there is an apparent impossibility of procreation on the part of the husband…there the issue of the wife shall be bastards.”2

Determining legitimacy was very important in an intestate situation because under English law intestate inheritance was by lineal blood3; thus such terms as “the heirs of his body” and “of the blood” are often seen in reference to legitimate children. By contrast, illegitimate children were legally considered a “filius nullius” or “nullius filii, “child of no one” or “sons of nobody”:

“BASTARDS are incapable of being heirs. Bastards, by our law, are such children as are not born either in lawful wedlock, or within a competent time after its determination. Such are held to be nullius filii, the sons of nobody; for the maxim of law is, qui ex damnato coitu nascuntur, inter liberos non computantur [the offspring of an illicit connection are not reckoned as children]. Being thus the sons of nobody, they have no blood in them, at least no inheritable blood; consequently, none of the blood of the first purchaser: and therefore, if there be no other claimant than such illegitimate children, the land shall escheat to the lord.4

Fanny Beardsley sharing her story of abuse with Claire, as well as the parentage of her new baby.

While the law did generally lean towards a presumption of legitimacy in the case of children born to married women, this was only in absence of obvious evidence to the contrary.  As the racial factor made Fanny Beardsley’s child an obvious bastard to Claire, so her appearance would have to colonial society as a whole. “Judicial error was tolerated when it meant that a white child, unrelated by blood, would be made a white man’s legal heir. An African-American child becoming a white man’s legal heir, however, was unacceptable. Faced with this situation, the court essentially suspended application of the presumption.”5  Although it certainly happened – and often – miscegenation was against colonial law at this time, which would automatically render any marriage void, and therefore any offspring illegitimate:

North Carolina followed suit [with miscegenation laws] in 1715 providing that ‘no White man or woman shall intermarry with any Negro, Mulatto or Indyan Man or Woman under the penalty of Fifty Pounds for each White man or woman.’ In 1741, the North Carolina act was amended to more closely track the earlier Virginia statute: ‘And for Prevention of that abominable Mixture and spurious issue, which hereafter may increase in this Government, by white Men and women intermarrying with Indians, Negroes, Mustees, or Mulattoes, Be it Enacted, by the Authority aforesaid, That if any white Man or Woman, being free, shall intermarry with an Indian, Negro, Mustee, or Mulatto Man or Woman, or any Person of Mixed Blood, to the Third Generation, bond or free, he shall, by Judgment of the County Court, forfeit and pay the Sum of Fifty Pounds, Proclamation Money, to the Use of the Parish.’6

Sweet wee “Bonnie’s” future seems uncertain

As we see here, unfortunately for Fanny’s child, several strikes would be against her were she a real person. If Aaron Beardsley did not dispose of his property by will, intestate inheritance law would immediately come into play, and an inquiry into the identity of any legitimate lineal heirs would be undertaken by the county court.  Aaron Beardsley’s incapacity would not likely factor in, as he had only been in that state for about a month when Jamie and Claire showed up, and thus could have fathered a child before that time. However, the fact that he was not apparently able to father a child with any of his previous wives could have raised doubt and become an issue. But the definitive reckoning would be the child’s mixed-race parentage, which the books and show indicate was obvious by the child’s physical appearance. If it were known or believed that Aaron Beardsley was a white man, and it was thought that the child was anything other, then a status of illegitimacy would automatically follow, which would absolutely eliminate inheritance. 

Verdict: FICTION 

Bonus Trivia: Did you know? An “orphan” was legally a child whose father was deceased, regardless of the status of the mother.7 After 1799 in North Carolina, a change in state law recognized illegitimate children as heirs of their mother and were enabled to inherit from her.8

Sadly, the past was not kind to babies born out of wedlock, and little “Bonnie” would not have been an exception. Are you on Jamie’s side–hopeful that wee “Bonnie” will inherit the Beardsley property, or will she have to rely on her new adoptive parents for her raising? From the looks of the scene where Lucinda and her husband ask Claire if they can keep the baby, she will not lack for love at all. Tell us what you think!

Thanks, Traci, for this insight about bastardy and inheritance laws! Traci Thompson is a married mother of two who lives in eastern North Carolina, and is, of course, an avid Outlander fan. Traci is a Certified Genealogist and Local History & Genealogy Librarian. She is a contributing author for Outlander North Carolina.

Footnotes:
1.  Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1765-69), 1st  ed., Volume 1, “The Rights of Persons,” Chapter 16, “Of Parent and Child”; digital transcription, The Avalon Project (https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/blackstone_bk1ch16.asp : accessed 2020).
2.  Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England.
3. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 2, Chapter 14.
4. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 2, Chapter 15.
5. Mary Louise Fellows, “The Law of Legitimacy: An Instrument of Procreative Power,” Scholarship Repository University of Minnesota Law School, 1993 (https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/ : accessed 2020), p. 502.
6.  Judy G. Russell, “Intermarriage and the Law, Colonial Style,” The Legal Genealogist 1 June 2012 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/2012/06/01/intermarriage-and-the-law-colonial-style/ : accessed 2020).
7. Raymond A. Winslow, Jr., “Estates Records,” in Helen F.M. Leary, editor, North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 2nd edition (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996), chapter 12, p. 189, “Guardians and Conservators.”
8.  John Haywood, Esq., A Manual of the Laws of North Carolina (Raleigh, NC: J. Gales, 1814), p. 274, “Intestate’s Estate,” section IV, 1799.
Photos from Outlander Online