Beanery Online Literary Magazine

October 31, 2012

At Sewickley Creek: a novel excerpt



An excerpt from WARPATH, a historical novel

Sal Martin

     In 1756 there was a meeting to discuss peace. One of the negotiators was from the eastern Turtle Clan Delaware named Teedyuscung. Teedyuscung wanted peace for his people and houses and teachers. The conferences at Easton eventually brought a lessening of the hostilities.

“The land is the cause of our Differences, that is, our being unhappily turned out of the land; … they do not act well nor do Indians justice …We on our parts gather up the leaves that have been sprinkled with blood, we gather up the blood, the bodies and the bones, but when we look round, we see no place where to put them.”

That spring, the Martin and Knox children and other white captives made another trip, of twenty some miles, down the Allegheny to Fort Duquesne, in canoes. There were about 200 prisoners at Fort Duquesne at that time. The French commander was offering a bounty for pioneer scalps. He had already paid for 500 scalps. A bounty for Indian scalps was also being paid in Williamsburg and Philadelphia.  That the Pennsylvania Council would do such a thing horrified the Quakers to the point that they withdrew from politics.  Franklin’s anti-Quaker group had won.

The French at Ft. Duquesne did not have enough food for all the mouths and sent the captives along, in canoes, down the Ohio. Martha and Jane Knox and Martha’s two little brothers were taken instead up the muddy Monongahela River to the clean, clear Youghiogheny River, and then on up to Sewickley Creek. They stashed the canoes and carried their precious possessions, blankets and winter clothing up to Captain Jacob’s Cabin.

It was spring and the children were enchanted with the glory of (more…)

May 11, 2011

The Ghostly Hoosac Tunnel



Kathleen Clark

“This ride into the tunnel is far from being a cheerful one. The fitful glare of the lamps upon the walls of the dripping cavern – the frightful noises that echo from the low roof, and the ghoul-like voices of the miners coming out of the gloom ahead, are not what would be called enlivening.” —The Hoosac Tunnel, Scribner’s, December 1870

     The ridges of the Berkshire Mountains, located in the Deerfield Valley, stretch across western Massachusetts. The Hoosac Tunnel located in North Adams and known as “the Bloody Pit,” winds through the mountain base. I was fascinated by the many first-hand accounts of ghostly hauntings that surround the tunnel‘s construction. It provided a difficult and troubled challenge to the men who worked it.     
     Almost every tunnel bored through the mountains during the early 19th century posed problems particular to its location. Starting at the East Portal side, barely ten feet into the proposed Hoosac route, the specially made seventy-ton steam-driven boring machine cut a perfect hole . . . then stopped forever. The workers resorted to hand-drills and gunpowder, but couldn’t exceed sixty feet a month on either end of the tunnel. Boring on the West Portal side, drills hit soft rock, mica schist and water resulting in a soupy mixture referred to as “porridge” and prevented further penetration.    
     Thus a second tunnel was begun immediately to the right of the abandoned tunnel, using the new compressed-air Burleigh Drill invented by Charles Burleigh of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. This four drill contraption that could be pulled along the tracks as the men worked, in tandem with the introduction of Nitroglycerine explosives, finally resulted in the tunnel’s completion in 1875. Although only 4.82 miles long, the Hoosac took an unprecedented (more…)

January 14, 2011

How to Write About (Historic) Buildings



      The Beanery Writers Group (Southwestern Pennsylvania) members have an opportunity to visit and write about a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, in any genre the writer chooses. Once the idea was seeded, I realized that doing this would present a challenge to many of the group members, including myself. 

     We are preparing for this project by visiting and writing about local structures: two unusual restaurants, a historic building built in 1799 which is now a museum, a Catholic church Basilica, the county courthouse, etc. Because these excursions have proven how difficult it is to write about historic structures, I searched the ‘net for guidance. I discovered that there’s a scarcity of instructional material to glean from.


     Buildings, like people, have stories to tell about their community’s and the nation’s past. Embedded in historic structures and landscapes are traces of past lives that are clues to how our ancestors lived, and how life today evolved. To write about them is to bring these traces to life.

     Historic structures, with a wealth of history, legend, and folklore on their doorstep, provide fertile material for factual and fictional writing. The writer’s imagination, inspired by the iconic locations, can run wild, using descriptive style and creating imaginative stories based on both fact and fiction.

     There are different approaches to writing about historic (or current day) structures.  

  • Describe in detail a general overall view of the structure, a room, or an item(s) on display. Use all (more…)

November 21, 2010

Where Were You When JFK was Assassinated?



Beanery Writers Group Authors

The following are responses to a prompt from our last meeting. Readers are invited to submit their own experiences from Nov. 22, 1963, the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Type your response in the comment box at the end of this post.


     It was one of those things, that when you first hear it — you can’t believe it.

     While attending nursing school, I also worked at a sewing factory. Of course, when it was announced by the manager — all work ceased for the day.

     Many people were crying, others were just in shock.

     I immediately thought about his young children. Afterward, I thought of the way he was cut down, about the unfairness of (more…)

September 10, 2010

The Twin Towers



M. I. Marcum

     The World Trade Center, from its earliest conception, held a unique place in the heart of New Yorkers. There were many opposed to the project because it would diminish their cherished landmark, the Empire State Building. Others were excited by the challenge of building, not one but two monuments of such unknown scale.

     The Twin Towers, as they became known, slowly rose higher and higher until they overshadowed the skyline of Manhattan. They could be seen for miles. It was difficult to encompass the scale of their massiveness as you stood looking up from ground level.

     Still, many were reluctant to embrace them as part of the New York City, which they knew and loved. Others streamed to take the ride to the very heights. My sister was one of those people. She described to me an adventure, an experience of incomparable wonder. She insisted I visit the restaurant located on the very top floor to enjoy what she had seen. I promised I would one day.

     The years went by. The Towers became not just tourist attractions but an important piece of New York’s business and commerce, employing thousands of people that streamed to its offices from surrounding states and boroughs and Long Island. People you saw on the Long Island Railroad, on the expressway, in the restaurants, at the hot dog stands, shopping at Macy’s.

     Then on that beautiful September day, the Towers (more…)

August 4, 2010

Post World War I Issues




     Many issues rose to the surface during the aftermath of World War I. This time span, from 1918 to 1929, was filled with chaos and conflict. Three of the most eminent problems, ranking from the worst to the least problematic, were the issues of labor, the “red scare”, and racial tensions. 

     The most problematic issue after World War I was the unrest of the labor force. Labor problems reflect the unstableness of the economy, which clearly points out the weakness during this era. At the end of World War I, government agencies withdrew their control from the American economy, which released the restricted demands. While people hurried to buy goods which were rationed during the war, businesses increased the prices of their products. The result of this difference was swift inflation, or price increases, on the economy.

     An epidemic of strikes swept across the nation as a result of (more…)

July 14, 2010

The Legacy of Hopedale, Massachusetts




    Throughout her life my grandmother often spoke about growing up “near Heaven, this wonderful Hopedale of ours.”

Elizabeth Noyes (rt) with her sister May (c 1898)

     Elizabeth Amanda Noyes was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts, in 1890. Her parents, William and Mary Cotton Noyes, had moved there to raise their children in a place where faith and family came first, where they knew a hard work ethic would prevail, and where they would feel secure. The self-contained town was religiously based. Sundays were always for faith and family. It remained that way during my grandmother’s entire life.
     Lizzie, as she was known, loved to speak of those first days swimming in the pond was allowed for girls. Apparently a somewhat scandalous event, she felt it was a big step forward for women. This always amazed me as she truly was old-fashioned: she cooked, cleaned, knew nothing about driving, or voting, and my grandfather made all decisions.


     Draper Mill, one of the oldest textile mills in the country, dominated (more…)

February 6, 2010

The buried city




     What am I thinking of?  I’ll give you three hints: a thriving city, a settlement for disaster, and finally, a city ending in a pitfall.  Ok…I’ll tell you… (more…)

January 14, 2010

Deborah Nelson: Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist



Carolyn C. Holland


Deborah Nelson is speaking in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania


Investigative Journalism in a Democracy

Friday, February 5th

7:30 to 9:30 p. m.

Open to the public. No fee

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ligonier Valley

Rt. 3 east of Ligonier


Still Untitled Lecture

Thursday, February 4th

7:00 p. m.

Open to the public. No fee

University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

Revisit this site for updated information


     Deborah Nelson, co-winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for a report on abuses in HUD’s Indian housing program (Seattle Times), also worked on two other Pulitzer-winning projects: the deadly accident record of the Harrier jump jet (Los Angeles Times), and the children who died while in Washington D. C.’s child welfare system.

     In autumn 2006, Nelson opted to leave her newspaper job, the Washington investigative editor for the Los Angeles Times, in order to take a faculty position at the Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland. She had spent thirty years (more…)

November 12, 2009

Arthur St. Clair

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Shirley Iscrupe

      Arthur St. Clair, Ligonier Valley’s most famous citizen of Revolutionary times, was born in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, in 1734. As a young man he joined the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot to fight in Canada against the French.

     After marriage to a niece of the governor of Massachusetts, he served as an agent of the Penn family interests in western Pennsylvania, and as civil commandant of the decommissioned British fort at Ligonier. At the outbreak of hostilities with the English, St. Clair was commissioned as a (more…)

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