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Fact or Fiction? Jamie Fraser & North Carolina Land Grants

August 16, 2019

Guest post from Traci Thompson

“It has long been the policy both of the Crown and of myself, Mr. Fraser, to encourage the settlement of land in the Colony of North Carolina by intelligent, industrious, and godly families, to the furtherance of the prosperity and security of all.” He lifted his cigar, took a deep lungful and exhaled slowly, pausing to cough. “To this end, sir, there is established a system of land grants whereby a large acreage may be given to a gentleman of means, who will undertake to persuade a number of emigrants to come and settle upon a part of it under his sponsorship. This policy has been blessed with success over the last thirty years; a good many Highlanders and families from the Isles of Scotland have been induced to come and take up residence here. Why, when I arrived, I was astonished to find the banks of the Cape Fear River quite thick with MacNeills, Buchanans, Grahams, and Campbells!”

The Governor tasted his cigar again, but this time the barest nip; he was anxious to make his point.


“Yet there remains a great deal of desirable land to be settled, further inland towards the mountains. It is somewhat remote, and yet, as you say, for men accustomed to the far reaches of the Scottish Highlands – “


“I did hear mentions of such grants, sir,” Jamie interrupted. “Yet is not the wording that persons holding such grants shall be white males, Protestant, and above thirty years of age? And this statement holds the force of law?”


“That is the official wording of the Act, yes.” Mr. Tryon turned so that I saw him now in profile, tapping the ash from his cigar into a small porcelain bowl. The corner of his mouth was turned up in anticipation; the face of a fisherman who feels the first twitch on his line.


“The offer is one of considerable interest,” Jamie said formally. “I must point out, however, that I am not a Protestant, nor are most of my kinsmen.”


The Governor pursed his lips in deprecation, lifting one brow.


“You are neither a Jew nor a Negro. I may speak as one gentleman to another, may I not? In all frankness, Mr. Fraser, there is the law, and then there is what is done.” He raised his glass with a small smile, setting the hook. “And I am convinced that you understand that as well as I do.”


“Possibly better,” Jamie murmured, with a polite smile.

~Drums of Autumn, Chapter 7, “Great Prospects Fraught With Peril.” (Circa 1767)

These paragraphs from Drums of Autumn introduced a long-running source of conflict for the story by giving Governor Tryon a certain leverage over Jamie – if Jamie doesn’t toe the line with Tryon, will Tryon play the religion card, “expose” Jamie as a Catholic, and take his land away from him?

But how much weight does this threat really carry…and are the details historical fact, or historical fiction?

First, as a land grant is central to the story, let’s take a brief look at what a North Carolina land grant was. Although “land grant” is the term often used, the technical term was “land patent.” Land patents transferred vacant land from a granting authority to a private person. North Carolina patents did not convey “free” land; grants were for some kind of service to the colony, or for a required payment of fees. There were two land grant systems in North Carolina: one was headright patents, in which land was granted for the service of bringing settlers into the colony, with a certain number of acres granted per transported person. This system ended by 1754, before Jamie and Claire’s time in NC. The second was purchase patent, land in exchange for fees paid at every step in the process. By the mid-1750’s, this was the only kind of patent granted in North Carolina, and thus the kind of grant Jamie would have received if he were really here in the 1760s.(1)



There were in fact a few, but not many, of enterprises such as Tryon describes: “…a large acreage may be given to a gentleman of means, who will undertake to persuade a number of emigrants to come and settle upon a part of it under his sponsorship.
” These were a type of headright patent, as the stipulation was bringing in emigrants to populate the colony. Harry Merrens states in Colonial North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century, “Grants were generally small…A few persons did manage to obtain large quantities of land either for speculative purposes or for building up large estates. Extensive holdings of land were so rare that neither practice was common…”(2)

The most notable person who engaged in this rare land speculation in NC was Henry McCulloh, a London merchant and colonial official whose family roots were in Scotland. He received two grants in his own name of 60,000 and 72,000 acres, and a third under the names of two of his trustees for 1.2 million acres. The condition of these grants was that quitrents on the lands be paid, and that settlers be installed on the land (3):

“At a Council held at Wilmington [NC] the 24th day September 1741… His Excellency having informed the Board That it was His Majesty’s Pleasure signified in some of his Majesty’s Instructions to Mr. McCulloh, that for the future all persons taking up lands should be obliged to seat the same according to their rights, i.e. with the person in whose right the land shall be taken up; But that such as have already obtained Warrants, shall only be obliged within three years from the date of their respective Grants to put a white man on every Tract 1,000 acres or under And two on a tract of 2,000 or above a thousand…And that the Secretary draw up a proclamation to give publick notice thereof…His Excellency…took notice of the absolute necessity of encouraging white persons to settle in this Province particularly the back parts of the same…” (4)

Pamphlet by Henry McCulloh, which he wrote after returning to England, hoping to impress the King, and get another appointment to the Colonies. (from NCPedia)

Merrens calls McCulloh “the unrivaled leading speculator in North Carolina” and reports that he was “’hawking it [the land] about in small quantities thro’ all the back parts of the Province and quite thro’ America even to Boston’”(5) as well as transporting Ulster Scots and Swiss emigrants into the colony.

But what of the “Protestant” requirement? McCulloh’s petitions for his grants in the 1730s do include wording such as “…Praying for a Grant of Twelve hundred Thousand Acres of Land in North Carolina in Consideration of Settling 6000 Protestants…” (6) and “…praying for a Grant of Lands upon the heads of the Pedee Cape Fear and Neus Rivers in North Carolina, and proposing to make a Settlement thereon of six thousand Swiss Palatines and other Foreign Protestants within the space of Ten years from the Date of {the} Grant…” (7) Other earlier petitions have the same wording, such as a 1679 petition to the British Privy Council to transport “about 80 Protestant families to Carolina aboard the frigate Richmond” and a request from Normandy seeking “sanction and assistance in projected planting of about fourscore Foreign Protestant families, being skilled in the Manufactures of Silks, Oyles, Wines, etc. who are willing to settle in Carolina.” (8) What is the reason for this? The religious situation in Europe was one of many reasons for emigration during this period, especially the desire to seek freedom of worship. Speculators such as Henry McCulloh were aware of the need to transport Protestants – particularly Scots-Irish, Swiss, and Germans – to the colonies. And as the Crown needed settlers and revenue, this was a win-win situation for all involved. (9) Another consideration for the Crown may have been loyalty, as Protestants were less likely to have divided allegiances. The greater number of Protestant settlers in North Carolina led to the statement made by the real Governor Tryon in 1765 that “every sect of religion abounds here except Roman Catholicism.” (10)

What is important to realize is that these references to settlement of Protestants in North Carolina did not refer to land law. In fact, North Carolina, especially as compared to the other colonies, was liberal in regards to religion. While there certainly was anti-Catholic sentiment, the only specific discrimination against them in legal policy regarded holding public office, and instructions given to the Royal Governor in the 1730s to permit “a liberty of conscience to all persons (except papists).” (11) It is likely that such instructions fell under Governor Tryon’s assertion that “there is the law, and then there is what is done,” as many such instructions relating to the Church of England were never able to be enforced in North Carolina. In 1679, the instructions of the Lords Proprietors to the Governor of Albemarle County, NC stated, “You are to take notice that wee doe grant unto all free persons that doe come to plant in Carolina before the 25th day of December, 1684…sixty akers of land…” and makes no mention of religion. (12) And not all of the land speculators’ petitions included the “Protestant” wording – McCulloh’s proposal of 1735/6 mentions sending over workmen and “such people as I intend to send there from Europe” to North Carolina and does not mention religion. (13)

A far more important consideration to the Crown regarding land patents was, as with most enterprises, money. Much of the energy and focus of the government documents relating to land grants of the period revolve around revenue generated or, most notably, the lack thereof. Even money took a back seat at times to the pressing need to simply have people in the colonies; in 1715, by decree from London, even impoverished families that could not pay rent were not to be deprived of their land, and those that had been were to have their property restored. (14) Also, land grants were a clear title in fee simple; the owner could sell or devise land absolutely at his pleasure and without consultation with government officials. (15)

These questions having been discussed, what of the age requirement? The 1679 document mentioned earlier made the specific provision for “sixty akers of land” to any free person who was “above the age of sixteen yeares.” (16) North Carolina, being an English colony, followed English common law; under English law one could buy or be granted land at any age but could not sell it in his own name until he arrived at the age of 21. (17)

As this overview shows, populating the colony and generating revenue were important considerations to North Carolina officials of the colonial period. To purposely attempt to divest a settler of his land would run contrary to the goal and would in fact be illegal; to do this for religious reasons in a tolerant colony would be difficult if not impossible, and there was no legal age restriction on land ownership. Happily, were Jamie actually here in the 1760s, he would not have had these issues to worry about.

The case: Are the details historical fact, or historical fiction?
Verdict: FICTION.

There you have it–straight from a North Carolina genealogist’s pen! Thanks, Traci, for this insight about land grants and the many different cultures that emigrated and settled here to make up this great state!
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.

Still shots of Jamie/Gov. Tryon are from https://outlander-online.com

Reference notes:
1 Margaret M. Hofmann, “Land Grants,” in Helen F.M. Leary, editor, North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 2nd edition (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996), chapter 31.
2 Harry Roy Merrens, Colonial North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Historical Geography (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1964), p. 25-26.
3 Mattie Russell, “McCulloh, Henry,” NCPedia (https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/mcculloh-henry : accessed 2019), citing William S. Powell, ed., The Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1991.)
4 “Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council, September 21, 1741 – September 29, 1741,” “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr04-0177 : accessed 2019); citing volume 4, p. 597-603
5 Merrens, Colonial North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Historical Geography, p. 26.
6 “Declaration by Murray Crymble and James Huey concerning their actions as agents for Henry McCulloh,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr05-0289 : accessed 2019); citing volume 5, p. 769.
7 “Order of the Privy Council of Great Britain concerning Henry McCulloh’s land grants in North Carolina,” Great Britain, Privy Council, May 19, 1737, in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr05-0289 : accessed 2019); citing volume 4, p. 253-254.
8 Finding aid to the British Records: Privy Council, citing Office Register, 21 April 1679-29 May 1680, Public Record Office, London, England, P.C. 2/68, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh; digital images (https://files.nc.gov/dncrarchives/documents/files/ffa_br_privycouncil.pdf : accessed 2019).
9 Stewart E. Dunaway, Henry McCulloh & Son Henry Eustace McCulloh: 18th Century Entrepreneurs, Land Speculators of North Carolina (Lulu.com: Dunaway, 2014), p. 16.
10 Anne Russell & Marjorie Megivern, North Carolina Portraits of Faith: A Pictorial History of Religions (Norfolk, VA: The Donning Company, 1986), p. 136.
11 “Instructions to George Burrington concerning the government of North Carolina George II, King of Great Britain, 1683-1760; Great Britain. Board of Trade,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr03-0060 : accessed 2019); citing volume 3, p. 90-118.
12 “Instructions to the Governor of Albemarle County Carolina. Lords Proprietors. February 05, 1679,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr01-0098: accessed 2019); citing volume 1, p. 235-239.
13 “Proposal by Henry McCulloh concerning his efforts to settle people in North Carolina,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr05-0289 : accessed 2019); citing volume 4, p. 156.
14 David Southern and Louis P. Towles, “Land Grants and the Recruitment of Settlers to the Carolina Colony,” NCPedia (https://www.ncpedia.org/land-grants-part-3-land-grants-and : accessed 2019), citing William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 2006.)
15 George Stevenson, “Foreword” (Raleigh, NC, June 1982) to Margaret M. Hofmann, Colony of North Carolina, 1735-1764, Abstracts of Land Patents Volume One (Weldon, NC: Roanoke News Company, 1982).
16 “Instructions to the Governor of Albemarle County. Carolina. Lords Proprietors. February 05, 1679,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr01-0098 : accessed 2019); citing volume 1, p. 235-239.
17 Lee Albright & Helen F.M. Leary, “Strategy for Land Records,” p. 43, in Helen F.M. Leary, editor, North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 2nd edition (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996), chapter 2, “Designing Research Strategies.”

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Fauna at Leatherwood Mountains & WWCD?

July 24, 2019

from Mary Helen Ellis

If you are reading this, you are one of “those” that are sucked into the world of Outlander, and glad of it! The Outlander Vortex–I find I measure a good portion of my everyday life by WWCD, What Would Claire Do? It’s twenty degrees outside my mountain cabin, snow is a foot deep, and I must walk out to the car and clear off the windshield. WWCD–it just makes my “git up and go” a little easier! For Pete’s sake, if I must run out to the mailbox when it is 95 degrees, I stop and think, at least I don’t have to chop wood to cook dinner.

Our lives are a cakewalk compared to the 18th century. Every once in awhile, though, there is a reminder of Fraser’s Ridge time that sneaks up on you. These peeks into their world are very close by in Leatherwood Mountains. The flora and fauna of the North Carolina wilderness assault your senses as soon as you arrive. Owning a cabin in Leatherwood, I will share some of the fauna that I have encountered over the last twenty years. I am from eastern North Carolina, my town literally has 5 streets and 1 blinking light, so I am a rural gal, but it is quite different than being a mountain wilderness lassie…WWCD!

Fauna always makes me think of fairies. My 25-year-old niece has a favorite Leatherwood fairy story: at the bottom of Flag Branch Road is a mountain creek and waterfall. Years ago, when she was 6, Mara saw a fairy at the waterfall. About 6” across with white wings, it fluttered by her and spoke to her–I’m guessing a luna moth, lovely in its own right, but more so as a mountain stream fairy. A not so pleasant recent story involves my blind Yorkie, her daily constitutions, and the redbugs (chiggers) she brought back to my lap! I can’t watch Jamie and Claire rolling around the beautiful green grass without thinking of chiggers and their itchy bites that last for days! WWCD in the NC mountains?

Yep, red bugs, millipedes, ladybugs, oh my! Our ladybugs are of the Asian variety, said to have been sprayed from aircraft by the Wildlife Commission on the mountain ridges to rid the mountains of some other kind of tree damaging insect. These are not the cute red and black variety they named a vehicle after; these orange ladybugs swarm into log cabins and have an odor. Claire would have never seen these. But she probably had plenty of millipedes, cluster flies, and other insects to contend with. I see some different species every time I stay at Leatherwood. I believe there are many more varieties of insects in the mountains than back east.

Leatherwood Mountains is a wildlife sanctuary, no hunting, no ATV’s, no fireworks; just peace and the natural quiet only found in nature. Large game animals such as deer and turkey live happily in the natural environment of the gated 5000-acre resort. Populous game animals also attract the “top of the food chain” critters. I have had a cabin for 20 years and have yet to actually see a bear, a wolf, a panther, but have seen a bobcat. There is clear evidence of scat and tracks to show that they are living with us in the wilderness. The first renters of our cabin in 1999 woke to find a bear on top of their minivan, hoping for the left-over french fries inside. On a January trip to Leatherwood, we arrived at midnight. The next morning, we found wolf tracks by the horse trough. We have seen tracks of coyotes, wolves, panthers, bears, and elk tracks as large as a man’s boot! My husband swears he and his parents saw an actual elk, (not out of the realm of possibility as they have been reintroduced in the southern NC mountains). Remember, I have yet to see any of these animals, only their tracks. I have seen skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, eagles, hawks, owls, turkeys, and more.

WWCD? In the movie “The Songcatcher” the old mountain woman told the Yankee lady…if you hear a “painter’s*” cry (sounds just like a woman’s cry) and he is after you, run as fast as you can while stripping off your clothes. The panther will attack your clothes and shred them giving you precious time to flee. *The Eastern Cougar, panther, or “painter,” as they are called by mountain folk, is said to be extinct in this part of the US by biologists. Many people claim to have seen and heard their bone-chilling cries, especially in the vast swampy places in the coastal areas of North Carolina. Do they or don’t they? Depends on who you ask.

Copperhead with a nearby mothball, said to keep snakes away. The bite of a copperhead usually happens when they are stepped on. It’s easy to see how well their colors and pattern
camouflage them on the ground.

Who remembers the three storylines regarding snakes in Outlander? In 20 years, I have seen snakes three times (four, if you count the dead one on the road). The first time there were two in a pallet of rock with a wire fence around it. I wanted to use the left-over rock to edge a flower bed. It was me or the snakes. Had I known what kind at the time, I may have let them be. I tied a rope around the pallet, attached it to my trailer hitch and yanked the fence and rocks to smithereens. The snakes turned out to be king snakes–the good guys. The second snake encounter was also a good guy. However at 6’-7’, I did not bother the black snake as it scaled a steep embankment! I hope he is still around, guarding against snake number three, a beautifully marked but poisonous copperhead. WWCD with a very large Copper Head?

We sort of chased him off with mothballs and have not seen him for a year. I have learned though, that this fauna is one to watch for; know what is beneath your feet! Thankfully, we don’t have outhouses to contend with (except for one of our cabins, Hemlock Point, that has an outhouse ½ bath in the basement!).

Today’s cabins with AC, WiFi, Netflix, refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry appliances, computers, central heat, etc. are modern and comfortable, just like your home. But, step out the door and you can enter Jamie and Claire’s time. Leatherwood’s motto is “The stars are our streetlights.” It is true in every sense of the word; I encourage rental guests to arrive in daylight hours. At night, however, you can see more stars than you knew existed, because of very little light pollution. On a moonless night, at the right time of year, you can make out the Milky Way! We saw Claire make the startling realization when she first rode behind Jamie and saw the town of Inverness off in the distance, and no incandescent lights anywhere. It is like this at Leatherwood when you look out over the mountains. You are in the Outlander moment.

So, I believe what Claire would do is relish and stand in awe of the fauna she encountered in her life at Fraser’s Ridge in the 18th-century mountains of North Carolina. She had no choice but to fall in love with the area, but we do. We can turn off the television, shut off our phones and computers, and step out the door at Leatherwood Mountains….aka Fraser’s Ridge!

Thank you, Mary Helen, for the preview of what animals we may encounter while we’re at Leatherwood Mountains in October at A Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming!
Why not plan a visit to the NC mountains, and consider the Leatherwood Resort for a cabin rental? Their lovely homes range from one bedroom to five, so you can go alone for a breather, or meet the whole family for a wonderful vacation! The resort also features camping sites if that’s more your speed! Amenities include a swimming pool, horses available for trail riding, tennis, fishing, hiking, and tubing down the creek! Take some time to just be, enjoy the natural surroundings and all of the flora and fauna, and experience the back county much like it was in the 18th century! Your stress hormones will thank you!

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Comic Relief with The White Sow: John Quincy Myers

July 13, 2019

guest post by Nancy Roach, aka “The White Sow

One of the things we love most about Diana Gabaldon’s writing is her ability to create the most colorful, humorous characters and bring them to life. Although we love the actors who portray these roles on the TV series, we don’t always get the full impact of the images Diana’s written words inspire. Such is the case of one John Quincy Myers, rustic mountain man and comic relief. 

Susan Vaughn’s rendering of JQM

We first encounter John Quincy Myers in Wilmington, NC where Claire, Fergus, young Ian, and Rollo await the return of Jamie from his search for a gemstone buyer.  Imagine Claire’s shock as this spindly, gaunt, buckskin-clad giant approaches her in the streets of Wilmington. His bushy black beard overtakes his face and his hair hangs in “loose, snaky black locks.” Taller than Jamie, he sports a “disreputable slouch hat” with a ragged turkey feather.  When he squats down, “his knee joints pop like rifle shots.” One can only imagine the stench that must have accompanied this hazel-eyed behemoth with the “thin layer of greasy brown dirt” that covered everything. (Ah, if only there were a scratch and sniff version of Outlander.) Claire offers him her hand, but surprisingly he lifts it to his nose, sniffs it, then; breaks into a wide grin that is “nonetheless charming for missing half its teeth.” 

After learning Claire is a “yarb woman,” Myers unabashedly asks her opinion of his mysterious malady, a “great big swelling [that] come up just along behind of my balls.”  He suddenly starts to remove his pants to show Claire! Fortunately, Jamie arrives in the nick of time. Now the “two enormous specimens of mankind size each other up,” according to Fergus, “like two dogs… Next thing you know, they will be smelling each other’s backside.” 

Myers persists in relaying his tale of the “Big purple thing, almost as big as one o’ my balls. You don’t think it might could be as I’ve decided sudden-like to grow an extry, do you?”  Claire fights to keep from laughing. She explains this swelling must be an inguinal hernia that she couldn’t surgically repair unless Myers is asleep or unconscious. Later, Jamie gives Claire one of his famous quips, “What is it [Sassenach] that makes every man ye meet want to take off his breeks within five minutes of meetin’ ye?” 

Now we fast forward to Aunt Jocasta’s formal dinner party at River Run where an inebriated John Quincy Myers (complete with black eye and ripped shirt), suddenly staggers in the doorway insisting he is now ready for Claire to operate on his offending bulge. To which Duncan opines, “I did try to stop him, Mac Dubh.” Claire protests that alcohol is like poison to the body and could result in Myer’s death if she operates.  Someone in the room comments, “No great loss.” Phillip Wylie interjects, “Shame to waste so much brandy. We’ve heard a great deal of your skill, Mistress Fraser. Now’s your chance of proving yourself among witnesses!” Claire finally relents, and Myers’ comatose body is moved to the salon. “Relieved of his nether garb, Myers lay tastefully displayed on the mahogany table, boneless as a roasted pheasant, and nearly as ornamental.” (What an image these words paint!) What follows is an unusual after dinner entertainment; let’s call it “the Claire Surgical Show,” as she diligently works to repair the inguinal hernia amidst a sea of curious onlookers.  These dinner guests have no qualms about commenting during the procedure with such remarks as, “Expensive way to kill lice”, and “Jesus, Lord, it’s true—he’s got three balls!” I wonder how this whole scenario would have played out on the big screen, had the writers and producers the luxury of additional episodes in Season 4. 

There are more humorous antics of John Quincy Meyers to delight the reader. If you haven’t read about him in a while, you might want to review his part in Drums of Autumn to get the full effect of his character. I have no complaints about the actor chosen to portray Myers on the screen, nor his performance.  He did manage to add some humor to an otherwise serious season. However, I urge those who haven’t read the books to take a good look at his character in Drums of Autumn.

John Quincy rides again, thanks to
Claire Fraser’s surgical skills

Pictures are courtesy and copyright of my Twitter friend, Susan Vaughan.  Susan has amassed a wealth of Barbies, Kens, small dolls, and miniatures over the years.  She uses them to recreate scenes from the television series. 

Quotes credited to Diana Gabaldon and her book Drums of Autumn

We love JQM, Nancy–thanks for reminding us how funny hernia surgery can be ! (Only in Outlander, right?!)

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On the Trail of History: A Journey through Diana Gabaldon’s North Carolina, Part I

May 9, 2019

Guest post from Lisa A. Margulies

I recently had the opportunity to visit several sites in North Carolina, tracing the steps of the 18th Century historical figures, James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser and his wife, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser. What? They are NOT real historical figures? Don’t tell that to the fans of Diana Gabaldon’s writing. To us, they are as real as the locations the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources brought the author to this last weekend in April.

My journey began in Iowa with a flight from Des Moines to Raleigh, NC. I drove to the historical town of New Bern on the eastern coastal region to kick off my tour. Tryon Palace would be the first to host Diana’s visit so I decided to familiarize myself with the Palace and the community in which it is centered.

The Palace as described in the Diana’s Outlander series is indeed like the grand opulence on display today. The first NC Governor’s state of residence was completed in 1770 and occupied by Governor Tryon until 1771 when a new Governor, Josiah Martin replaced him. Tryon went to great lengths to document the construction and furnishings of his mansion. This proved invaluable for the 1959 reconstruction of the Palace. All but the original stables were destroyed by fire just 28 years after its completion in 1798. The Governor had hired an English architect to create a place of residence worthy of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England, one that could support visits of royalty and promote the affairs and the Crown’s dominion. It is easy to imagine the pages of The Fiery Cross come to life and to understand the the Regulator’s points of view regarding unfair use of tax payer’s dollars! The Palace is definitely fit for a King! No wonder Governor Tryon “got out of Dodge” (or accepted the commission of Governor of the State of New York taking his furnishings with him in late 1771) before the backlash of his spending could ignite a Revolutionary War. Wait, in a way, it did. The grievances aired by North Carolinians to their government became seeds of revolutionary discontent. Thus, history as we know it.

The beauty of the Tryon Palace was used as a backdrop for Diana Gabaldon and the two events for which she was the guest of honor. The first, “An Evening with Diana Gabaldon,” began with a small group and cocktails at a private historical residence in New Bern and then moved to the North Carolina Historical Museum adjacent to the Palace for a lavishly Outlander themed dinner with seventy plus in attendance. The event had been planned for the South Lawn of the Palace Gardens but due to inclement weather was moved indoors.

Diana was escorted in by her husband, Doug Watkins, with accompaniment from a local bagpiper playing the Skye Boat Song . The attendees were seated, (well, actually standing at that point), around ten tables, pumped to hear all that she had to share. Introductions were given by various members of the North Carolina State Government and Diana was given platform to speak for approximately 30 minutes before taking questions from her followers. Our character-themed dinner and dessert followed the conclusion of the Q&A session.

So what did Diana share? She began by addressing her writing connection to North Carolina and the importance of the Regulator history in the story of Jamie and Claire, and now, Murtagh, in the TV series. This storyline, by the way, was her suggestion and she is pleased with the conflict it sets up going forward in the adaptation. While she does see the scripts and is allowed notes upon them, Diana does NOT have complete control of every detail. Sometimes her voice is heard, sometimes not. She joked that the NC of the show is NOT geographically accurate and that the powers that be are counting on viewers not having been to the actual state of North Carolina! She further added, that having seen the dailies from season 5, at least the wigs are a lot better! (Cheers from all!)

Back to the subject of writing and specifically why it takes so long for Diana to complete a book… The average novel is 100,000 words. Outlander, the shortest book in the series is 300,000 words. It takes at least 2 1/2 years to write a book with all the research that she puts into each novel. This led to Diana’s reasoning for not having an assistant. She could tell someone to go to the store and pick up hotdogs and beans but if she went to the store, she might see other interesting ingredients. Thus changing, adapting, creating a whole new menu at the end of the day. DG has many times described her writing style as nonlinear in fashion. Her example illustrates this as well. Needless to say, none of her adoring fans will be hired as a personal research assistant anytime soon. (Sigh.)

Diana also looks for first person historical accounts to weave in the details of her storytelling. She cited the Battle of King’s Mountain and the historical account of an actual soldier’s experience for this. The Battle will be included in the ninth book. Watch for details about tree bark flying from bullet spray and the aftermath of other sights, sounds, and smells experienced by a character in Bees. “History is not what happened, it’s what people wrote down about it.” Diana went on to share other consultant and script-writing anecdotes. She told the story of Jamie’s missing hat in an early season four episode. It was written that after the misplaced hat had been found in the pig’s pen the hat was to be thrown away in the trash can. Diana had to step in and explain the value of the leather and that nothing would be thrown away in that time period, especially in a wastebasket because that didn’t even exist! The scene was rewritten and the hat was then placed on an upper shelf. Script writers think dialogue first then what people are actually doing last!

Overall, DG’s experience with the series, writing and being on the set has been most enjoyable. Everyone is always joking around! Diana made us all want to stow away in her luggage next trip to the set.

Six questions were answered from the audience during the last part of the formal programming and before dinner. Diana was asked about how much input she has in the casting process and she told the story of finding the leads Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. Diana has no say in the hiring and remembered thinking Sam was a chameleon actor, he looked different in every role he had played so far. Diana was shown “grotesque” pictures of him but the tape sent to her was “Jamie.” The standing joke was that Jamie would probably turn out to be the UPS man, but Sam was found quickly in the selection process! Finding Claire proved to be the difficult one. Down to the wire in time, everyone was sent home with the reject pile and told to find her. Caitriona was then unanimously selected from that pile based upon her own self tape with an episode 1 scene, “Help, he’s going over!”

Other questions were also answered:
Q: Has there been any talk about a spin off Lord John series?
A: Although lots of interest has been expressed by many sources, no official conversations have been had.

Q: How has Diana’s Catholic upbringing influenced the characters and her writing?
A: Diana has knowledge, for one, (unlike many of the show’s script writers). Also, Celtic Catholics/Christians have an interesting take on religion. They tend to incorporate incantations, charms, rituals into their beliefs and daily lives, lending to a more natural process. The issue of killing was discussed and the introduction of other characters such as Quakers help to give the story balance here.

Q: Does Diana know what her characters will be and do? How do her characters come to her?
A: The pace and process take shape from a kernel, scene by scene. Diana went on to describe this process of her writing from the kernel in her mind’s eye of a Scottish crystal goblet.

The final question of the evening revolved around the origin of her writing and 1st novel. Her practice novel had to be historical because if she couldn’t come up with original stories, at least she’d have something to fall back on. Many of us have heard this telling of the Doctor Who episode that sparked the flame for an 18th-century man in a kilt who would become our beloved Jamie. Her English character, Claire, wasn’t having any of that 18th-century vibe though, and Diana knew from her voice and that first cottage introduction that Claire would be a modern woman having gone back in time, thus creating the sci-fi aspect. This origin of Outlander is a pleasure to hear in Diana‘s voice anytime.

On a personal note, I was given the opportunity to mingle a few minutes at the end of the evening. After bit of fangirling, I recovered my senses enough to ask this final question: If she could remove Herself as author and just be a fan of The Fiery Cross, what three moments would she most like to transfer to the visual medium of season five? Diana responded with the scene that involves Claire in the windowsill in the middle of the night. Jamie comes in to find her with goosebumps on her arms. What transpires then is a very intimate moment that Diana is really pushing for inclusion this season. (Fingers crossed!) The next scene she described to me I will only say, for spoiler reasons, is a moment of great impact on Roger and his character. She would want to include that and also the poignant aftermath with his son.

Of course I was thrilled to have had this interaction with my all-time favorite author. So, along with my thanks for her insight and time that evening, I told Diana I would be following her as she traveled across the state over the next few days. (Now cemented in the mind of Diana Gabaldon is the image of me as a stalker. Great.)

This incredible “Evening with Diana Gabaldon” transpired over four plus hours and was made possible by the coordinated efforts of Bill McCrea, Executive Director of Tryon Palace, Susi Hamilton, NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary and their amazing team members. Many thanks and much praise to everyone involved.

Thank you so much Lisa for sharing your “Evening with Diana Gabaldon” at Tryon Palace with us!

Tryon Palace is a great place to visit, as well as the adjoining NC History Center, with informative and interactive exhibits–it’s fun and educational! We appreciate the folks at the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources bringing this amazing event to eastern North Carolina in support of historic New Bern. All proceeds went towards continuing repairs at Tryon Palace from Hurricane Florence in September 2018.

A Breath of Snow And Ashes Cooking Drums Of Autumn Fraser's Ridge Outlander North Carolina Uncategorized

“If you can read, you can cook” – Julia Child

April 17, 2019
guest post by Harmony Lea Tersanchi

Apart from the more obvious reading of a recipe, cooking and reading arenʼt necessarily two things that youʼd normally think to put in the same category. However, I believe there arenʼt many things more closely aligned than these two activities. What has the power to transport you to another time or place without ever leaving the comforts of your own home, a good book and a good meal. What can bring people of different ages, nationalities, and religions together, a good book and a good meal. What can simultaneously invoke the feeling of love and also despair, coming to the last page of a great book, and realizing that youʼve taken the last bite of a great meal.

When your childhood best friend is Puerto Rican, there are a few things that you learn pretty early on in life, the love of food, music, and that nobodyʼs cooking holds a candle to Momʼs cooking! I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my love of cooking stems from those endless nights sitting on the stools at the bar of my best friend’s house, chatting away & watching while “Mom” was throwing down in the kitchen. As an adult now myself, I can say that there are few other things in life that bring me more joy than cooking and feeding those whom I love.

As most of you can probably relate, I may have a slight Outlander obsession. Whatʼs not to love, a handsome, drool worthy 18th century Scottish warrior, men in kilts, time travel, passion, romance, history, and did I mention men in kilts! Needless to say, I was shamelessly hooked at the first sight of James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. I came to the books through the show and almost instantly became enthralled with the love story between Jamie & Claire. One other thing that stuck out to me, beyond the obvious, was how much of the story was centered around food. The gatherings, the family reunions, the celebrations, the banquets, Mrs. Fitz and her bannocks, the wine, whisky, and Rhenish. Food and drink were consistently present throughout the entire story. As I stated above, food has a way of bringing people together, a fact that wasnʼt lost on these 17th century characters.

Theresa is currently working on Outlander Kitchen 2!

Luckily for me, a woman by the name of Theresa Carle-Sanders decided to come out with a cookbook called Outlander Kitchen Cookbook: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook. Any opportunity I get to bring my love of cooking and reading together, you better believe Iʼm taking!

So thatʼs what brought me here–well, more like a slightly crazy obsession with a fictional character, then a realization that Iʼm not alone in my craziness, followed by a Facebook page and blog run by the wonderful Beth Pittman actually brought me here, but yʼall get where Iʼm going with this. So here I am fellow Sassenachs, with my “Outlander Companion Cookbook”, a glass of red wine, and a spatula, getting ready to throw down an Outlander-inspired meal from start to finish, and Iʼm bringing yʼall along for the ride.

Puff Pastry Boar Tusks

First up on this journey for the taste buds is “Murtaghʼs Gift to Ellen,” or Puff Pastry Boar Tusks. Asparagus and puff pastry and bacon…..oh my! The cookbook does have a recipe for a Blitz Puff Pastry, however I chose the easier route & visited the freezer section of the local grocery store for some Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets. Before you get all “Thatʼs not how they did it in the 18th century,” just know that the cookbook does offer that as an option in the recipe, and that was one modern adjustment I was definitely going to take! The construction of this adorable appetizer was quite simple & easy enough to do, yet looks as though great detail went into the prepping/cooking process. Would I make this again? With one minor adjustment, aye, I most definitely would. As for that adjustment I mentioned, Iʼd probably opt to coat the puff pastry part with a melted garlic herb butter once removed from the oven. That would take it from being a cute & tasty appetizer to a cute and delectable appetizer thatʼd impress anyone youʼd serve it to.

Brianna’s Matchstick French Fries

Letʼs talk sides. When youʼre slaving away over a meal of this magnitude, keeping it simple yet delicious is key, and boy did I unlock a couple of winners! I went for the “Broccoli Salad,” (p. 210), and the “Matchstick Cold-Oil Fries.” I have been making homemade fries for the past 10 years, and now I know that for the past 10 years, I have been doing them totally WRONG! Who wouldʼve thought that the trick to getting the most crispy and delicious homemade fries youʼve ever had, was to start off with cold oil? Certainly not me, but I can guarantee that I will never make fries using any other method again.  Iʼm here to tell you that the cost of this cookbook is well worth it for this recipe alone! My only regret is that I didnʼt make more!

Now, not to take any shine away from those seriously insane french fries, but the broccoli salad was pretty darn amazing in itself. Fresh, crunchy, tangy, with just a hint of sweetness, and did I mention bacon? Yes people, more bacon. Letʼs be honest, can you ever go wrong with a recipe that has crunchy bacon as an ingredient? The answer to that question, is absolutely not & this recipe was no exception. There isnʼt a single thing that I would change about this salad. So just to recap……yes, yes, and more yes when it comes to these two sides!

Sweet Tea-Brined Chicken

Moving right along, we come to the main entree, “Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken,” (p.112). Now, I love a glass of sweet tea just as much as the next person, but I canʼt say that Iʼve ever imagined using it to brine chicken, or anything for that matter. Once I got beyond the initial “Huh?” phase, I was ready to jump right in. You start off by brining the chicken for a few hours in a homemade sweet tea concoction, filled with what else other than a ton of sugar. Yes, there are a few other ingredients, but youʼll have to buy the book to figure those out. Believe me when I tell you, I not only wanted to like this recipe, but I really wanted to love it, unfortunately that wasnʼt necessarily the case. Donʼt get me wrong, the chicken was outrageously juicy and tender, accompanied with a perfectly crisp outer coating, what lost me was the sweetness. Not overpowering, but enough to make the dish just “okay”. The crispness of the coating was spot on though, Iʼd only say it needed a little salt to make it fried chicken perfection. The recipe wasnʼt a total loss for me though, Iʼd definitely use that coating again, and like the idea of brining beforehand, however Iʼd personally stick with just a good ol’ salt water brine.

Last but certainly not least, I bring you the “Warm Almond Pastry with Father Anselm,” (p. 255) for dessert. Thereʼs really not much I can say about this dessert other than delicious! If you like a dessert that isnʼt overly sweet, then this is the dessert for you! Itʼs light and flaky, and would go perfect with a nice cup of hot coffee. I will for sure be making this again in the very near future.

Warm Almond Pastry

I hope youʼve enjoyed the ramblings of this food obsessed Sassenach. If you donʼt already own this cookbook, do yourselves a favor & go buy it ASAP. If the last thing you need is another cookbook lying around taking up space, then visit your local library, check it out and take pics of the recipes that interest you. You wonʼt regret it! This has been quite the tasty experience, but now itʼs time for me to summon my children and have them roll me into bed. Good night yʼall.

Harmony was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, but found her forever home in the mountains of North Carolina in 2017. She is married to her “Jamie” and the mom of two boys whom she homeschools. Harmony discovered Outlander while Season 2 was showing on Starz, and instantly fell in love with Jamie and Claire’s love story. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family and getting outside to explore their new home in the mountains. Harmony is a moderator for the Outlander North Carolina Facebook Group, and hosted “Happy Hour with Harmony” on Saturday evenings, using recipes from the Outlander Kitchen cookbook to make cocktails and mocktails. If you’d like to see the videos, join the Outlander North Carolina group on Facebook, and go to our Videos section–Harmony is a great hostess!

Do you have a copy of Outlander Kitchen, or have you been a follower of Outlander Kitchen website before there was a cookbook? What’s your favorite recipe?