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We’re giving away audiobook downloads of our latest book, Through the Brown Mountain Lights. Interested? Email Christy at ctfrench252@aol.com for the code and instructions for downloading. We don’t have many left, so first come, first served!

We’re sure you’ll enjoy the voice of our producer/narrator Reagan Boggs. She’s also a singer and songwriter and is the perfect voice for Lizzie and the other characters.

We hope our fabulous readers are enjoying a fun-filled summer. We’re hard at work on the next book in our Brown Mountain Lights series and looking forward to its release this fall.

 

We’re continuing on with festival season and this past Saturday, June 3rd, we participated in the Gold Festival in Old Fort, NC. It was a beautiful day with temps in the low 80s and a nice breeze, comfortable enough that we didn’t have to resort to the improvised “air conditioner”. Although this is a relatively small festival, the turnout was fantastic and we had a fun day chatting with artisans, meeting readers, selling and signing copies of our books, and listening to live music while watching people pan for gold in the mountain stream that runs behind the Gateway Museum.

We always love feedback from our readers and a highpoint of our day was when a reader who bought the Appalachian Journey books at the Donut Festival in Marion a couple of weeks ago stopped by to tell us this series has become her favorite, that they made her laugh and cry and touched on all emotions, and she wished she could find more books as well written as ours.  Another highpoint was when Becky Bussert, co-owner of Smith’s Old Country Store in Black Mountain (the very store we always walked to when we visited our grandmother) came by to talk about placing our books in her store and showed her fabulous retail skills when she pitched the books to passersby.

And I guess all our faithful readers know what’s coming next … I know we say it a lot but it’s so true, we have the most awesome and inspiring readers!

Since the area is so beautiful, we wanted to take pictures to share with our readers. The first one below was taken on the drive to Black Mountain/Old Fort. It’s easy to see why they’re called the Black Mountains and look at that gorgeous sky. Next shows a group of people at the stream panning for gold. The third is one of the bands, which was awesome – the singer’s voice reminded me of  Stevie Ray Vaughn. And the last is of some women line dancing to Bob Dylan’s “Rock Me Mama”.  Never have I connected Bob Dylan to line dancing but, dang, they were good.

Next up: Bluff Mountain Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina, this Saturday, June 10th. Hope you’ll stop by if you’re in the area! Oh, and we’ll have free audiobooks to give away so look for the announcement on our CC Tillery Facebook page!

 

We had a great time at the 2nd Annual Carolina Donut Festival this past Saturday, May 20th, in Marion, NC, hosted by Mr. Bob’s Donuts. (If you haven’t tried their donuts, you really should – absolutely the best we’ve ever tasted.) Marion’s beautiful downtown Main Street was lined with vendor booths and thousands of attendees throughout the day. Although the temperature got hot as the day went on (upper 80s), we were blessed with a cool mountain breeze and a portable air conditioner built by Christy’s husband Steve out of a cooler and batteries. As always, we had fun meeting and visiting with readers but an added bonus was receiving invitations from three different organizations to do future presentations.

So far, we’ve met quite a few people who have seen the Brown Mountain lights, two of whom said the ones they saw were amber in color, and one man, a historian, telling us they were different colors. We really love the mystery surrounding these lights and are fascinated hearing these stories, and hope to hear more as we go along, especially when we get to the Morganton Historical Festival this fall.

A bit of history about Marion:  It was founded in 1844 and named in honor of Brigadier General Francis Marion, an American Revolutionary War hero whose flare for guerrilla warfare earned him the nickname “Swamp Fox”.  It’s motto is “Where Main Street meets the mountains” and that couldn’t be more apt. It’s a gorgeous town, surrounded by green mountains and blue sky.

donutfestival7Next up: The Gold Festival in Old Fort, NC, on Saturday, June 3rd. Come join us for what promises to be a fun event. They’re even going to be panning for gold in the mountain stream behind the Gateway Museum!  panning for gold

We’ll be participating in the 2nd Annual Carolina Donut Festival in beautiful Marion, NC on Saturday, May 20th, from 10:00 – 4:00. The festival will also feature a 5K Dash, Carolina Donut Festival Car Raffle, Donut Pageant and a donut eating contest. There will be booths filled with artisans and specialty donut makers, so if you’re in the area, we hope you’ll stop by for what promises to be a fun event and some amazing donuts!

donutfestival.2017

We’ve had a pretty eventful past week. On Saturday, the 29th of April, we participated in the Pioneer Day Festival in Old Fort, North Carolina. Although the temperature reached into the 80s, it was a breezy day which made it seem cooler and was very comfortable. RoAnn Bishop, the museum director and event coordinator, placed us in the same spot we had last year, behind one of the log cabins on the museum property, across from the amphitheater where live bands performed throughout the day, and within eyesight of the beautiful burbling creek. A local radio station came by for an interview which prompted several people who knew Bessie and Fletch, and a couple who knew our dad, to come by and introduce themselves. This is one of our favorite festivals due the Civil War reenactments, music, food, friendly attendees and festival staff, and a gorgeous view. There was even mining for gold in the creek. But best of all, spending time with readers old and new. We were thrilled to receive invitations to several other festivals in North Carolina which we plan to attend. If you haven’t visited Old Fort, I’d recommend a trip. Although it’s a small town, it’s filled with history and beautiful views, and is one of the most charming towns we’ve visited.

On Tuesday, May 2nd, we were invited to the Noon Book Club at the Morristown-Hamblen Library in Morristown, Tennessee to speak about the first book in our Appalachian Journey series, Whistling Woman. (The picture on the left is the  room where we met. All the rest are of Frontier Day in Old Fort,) The ladies couldn’t have been nicer or more inspiring to us and we enjoyed spending time with them and eating the delicious home-made dishes they prepared for the covered-dish luncheon. We received great feedback, which means more to us than we can express, along with interest in the remaining books in the series and our new Brown Mountain Lights series. An added bonus: the library wanted the books for their system and invited us to a book signing in August which we’re looking forward to.

Next up: a presentation at the Old Fort Branch Library on Thursday, May 11th at 5:30, where we’ll talk about our Appalachian Journey series. Ashley Salazar, branch head of the library, stopped by our booth and told us there’s been much excitement about our presentation with several asking if they can share stories with us. We’re really thrilled about that. Who knows, maybe it will lead to a future book…

And on Saturday, May 20th, we’ve been invited to the Donut Festival in Marion, NC, sponsored by Mr. Bob’s Donuts. If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out on something: they’re delicious. There will be over 100 vendors, including donut makers, regional artisans and nonprofit organizations. The festival will feature a 5K dash, car raffle, donut pageant and donut eating contest. Best of all, the proceeds go toward supplies for the local schools. This will be our first time at this festival and we expect to have a great time there. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll stop by!

 

We participated in our first spring festival, Greening Up the Mountains, this past Saturday, April 22nd, in the beautiful town of Sylva, NC. We couldn’t have asked for a better festival than this to kick off our spring-fall rounds of attending festivals and meeting old and new readers. It took place in downtown Sylva, with live music, over 200 arts-and-crafts and food vendors, and thousand of attendees, many of whom had dogs in tow.  The picture to the left is of Railroad Avenue lined with vendor booths. Note the steeple in the background, which is now the library but was once the courthouse.

Jackie Burgin Painter, our first cousin once removed (I believe that’s the right terminology – she’s our dad’s first cousin) lives in Sylva. Jackie’s an outstanding historian whose books we used extensively in our Appalachian Journey series. We hoped to spend time with her but due to illness, Jackie couldn’t meet us. But there’s always next year because this is an event we do not want to miss and plan to attend in 2018.

I was curious how the town ended up with such a pretty name so did some research and it all goes back to William D. Sylva, a Danish wanderer who ended up in the small town of Webster, NC (named for Daniel Webster as a concession to the Whig element of the county) one blustery January evening in 1879. Frozen and starving, Sylva knocked on the door of Judge Riley D. Cannon’s house, where he was greeted by General E. R. Hampton, son-in-law of the judge. Judge Cannon welcomed Sylva inside for food and lodging for the night and liked him so well he invited the wayfarer to stay and work for him at his sawmill until he decided where he wanted to settle down. Eventually, General Hampton decided to build a town near Scott’s Creek where he also had a sawmill. When he asked his daughter, Mae, what they should name the post office, she immediately said, “Sylva”, because Sylva was the nicest person she had ever known. Although Sylva suggested they name the town something else, everyone seemed to be in agreement Mae had found the perfect name for the town. I think it fits.

 

 

 

We had a great time at Woodson Branch Nature School on Saturday, October 29th. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect while we got the chance to meet readers, sign copies of our books, and enjoy the enticing smell of a chili woodson-barncookoff.  In between meeting the attendees, we also talked about and resolved issues with our new series, the Brown Mountain Lights series, which is close to being finished. We hope to give our readers a glimpse of the beautiful cover very soon so watch for it!

Fall in the mountains is our favorite time of the year, and surprisingly the drought hasn’t affected the color of the trees which are woodson-treesbeautiful, even more so when  silhouetted against a fall cerulean sky.

Afterward, we drove down the mountain to Hot Springs to have dinner at our favorite diner, then walked to Bluff Mountain Outfitters, where we found out our books had sold out and were more than happy to sell more of the books to them. If you ever visit Hot Springs, be sure to stop in at Bluff Mountain. They cater to hikers hiking the Appalachian Trail and it’s a great place to hang out or shop. On our way out the door, we met the largest dog we’ve ever seen, a 2-year-old Great Dane named Briggs who was friendly and so adorable Christy wanted to take him home but couldn’t convince the owner to give him up. woodson-great-dane

Before leaving, we visited Springbrook Cabins in Hot Springs to talk about booking an overnight stay when we plan to attend the Christmas festival in Marshall on December 9th and 10th. If you’re in the area at that time, we hope you’ll stop by and say hello. Christy took a picture of the trees outside the woodson-hot-springsoffice there, which were too pretty to ignore.

This week, we’re in Florida visiting our dad (the storyteller behind the Appalachian Journey series), while working on the first edit of the first book in our new series, tentatively titled Through the Brown Mountain Lights. The book will take place during the Antebellum period in the Appalachian Mountains and, like our Appalachian Journey series, is filled with herbal medicine, Catawba folklore and a bit of romance wrapped around historical facts. We’re adding a different twist to this one (think Outlander meets Cold Mountain) and hope our readers will enjoy it as much as they have the Appalachian Journey series.  We’ll announce the release on our CC Tillery Facebook page so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

In cleaning out my voluminous files from our Appalachian Journey series, I came across a picture our dad sent me years ago of Bessie as a child and wanted to share it with our fabulous readers. This is a very old picture, creased and torn and sepia-toned, and I hope you can see it clearly enough.bessie and family On the front porch are (from left to right) Mama, Roy with a hat in his hand, a big black dog (wonder what his name was?) Papa with Loney sitting on his lap, and Bessie standing to the far right.

In our book Whistling Woman, we describe one of the houses Bessie lived in as a child which was built by her father, taken from an article Bessie wrote many years later when she lived on Stone Mountain with her husband Fletch. This must be the house because it has what she described as jigsaw stars on the porch above them. I’m amazed at Papa’s skill in carpentry and wonder how he managed to do the jigsaw stars so well without the aid of power tools, not to mention a whole house. According to Bessie, the “cottage” stood just behind Dorland School and had a big apple tree in the front yard with a swing hanging from a sturdy branch.

It’s been sad saying goodbye to Bessie and her family, and I find I just can’t put away all the materials we’ve collected over the years. And now it seems there will be more to add. I recently heard from one of our distant cousins (on Lucinda’s side), Mary Paris Merriken, researcher extraordinaire, who has been doing research on the family, most especially Bessie’s cousin the notorious Frank Henderson who was electrocuted for killing his wife, that she has located articles about Bessie and her teaching. We’ll be meeting with her in Hot Springs in September and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Mary has collected. So for now, I’m leaving everything as-is and will share more with you later.

When we began our research for this series some six or seven years ago, we didn’t know it would create a keen interest in our heritage. Of course, we were aware of our Cherokee ancestry through Bessie’s great-grandmother Elisi but didn’t know of any other lineage flowing through our blood on our father’s side of the family. Although we both have a bit of fascination with all things Scottish, we never came across information or even suspected a connection to Scotland even though many Appalachians proudly claim that right … until this year’s Bluff Mountain Festival in Hot Springs when Peggy Huff McConnell came to the festival and stopped by our booth.

Peggy had read our books and came by to tell us that we are distant relatives. We love it when family members stop by to meet us at these events but Peggy had more to share: we are a part of Clan Henderson through Lucinda, Bessie’s mother, Mama in the books. Needless to say, we were thrilled. Not only did we meet another family member who informed us of our Scottish ancestry, but also, Peggy may have solved a mystery we’ve been puzzling over since the first time we visited the Genealogy Room at the Madison County Library where we found Lucinda’s family listed in the 1880 Census. Problem was, the names on the census didn’t match what we’d found online or the family tree our cousin, Jackie Burgin Painter sent us–both of which were different, by the way.

Peggy was kind enough to send us the official genealogy chart of Clan Henderson and information on how we could join. which she did a couple of weeks ago. Thanks, Peggy! You’ve been a great help! The Clan Henderson chart shows … drum roll, please! … Lucinda’s parents were Robert Henderson and Lydia Roberts. At last, we’re hoping we can finally lay to rest who Lucinda’s and Belle’s real parents were.

As for Clan Henderson, here’s some interesting information we’re proud to share with our readers. TheHenderson badge family of Henderson is as old as any clan in the Highlands, descending from Eanruig Mor Nac Righ Neachtan (big Henry, son of King Nectan) in the 11th century. Henderson is the most common surname for the sons of Henry (MacEanruig). Clan Henderson has been involved in the mainstream of history from the clan battles in the Highlands to the plantation of Ulster, the Jacobite uprisings (fans of Diana Gabaldon’s series Outlander will recognize this!), the Massacre at Glencoe, and emigration to North America and Australia.

Clan Henderson’s motto is Sola Virtus Nobilitat!  which means Virtue Alone Enobles!

Henderson-TratanThe Henderson tartan is a predominantly green pattern with wide, alternating blue and black bands highlighted by facing alternating fine yellow and white stripes. It appears in several different versions – ancient, modern, weathered, dress – with the sett count remaining constant while the colors vary. For those like me who didn’t know what sett means, I’ll explain by first describing tartan: Tartan is made with alternating bands of colored threads woven as both warp and weft at right angles to each other. The weft is woven in a simple twill, two over — two under the warp, advancing one thread at each pass. This forms visible diagonal lines where different colors cross, which give the appearance of new colors blended from the original ones. The resulting blocks of color repeat vertically and horizontally in a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as a sett. The average-sized sett for a kilt in modern times is 5 to 6 inches which gives around 250 threads per sett using a medium weight wool yarn. If you were using a much thinner yarn such as silk then that thread count could multiply by three or four.

The Clan Henderson plant badge is the cottongrass or as it is known in Gaelic, An Canach.cottongrass

Cyndi and I have recently joined Clan Henderson and look forward to learning more about our Scottish ancestors. For those family members we’ve met both online and off who are descended from Lucinda and anyone else who might be interested, you can find out more about Clan Henderson – just click on the name!

Now, if we can only solve the mystery of which grandmother it was who donated the Elliott land to the YMCA way back in the 20s to use as a camp. Well, actually, we think we’ve found her name but we’re not positive and would like confirmation before Wise Woman comes out, so off we go on another quest!

 

 

 

 

 

In researching our next book, Beloved Woman, Cyndi and I are discovering lots of interesting historical facts that aren’t well-known. Did you know that during WWI, there was a German internment camp in Hot Springs, NC? Erected on the grounds of the Mountain Park Hotel (now Hot Springs Resort), it held 2200 prisoners. Supervised by the Department of Labor, these men weren’t considered prisoners of war but rather enemy aliens because they were the civilian officers and crew of German and Austrian commercial ships that took cover in American ports when Great Britain declared war on Germany in 1914 for fear of being attacked crossing back over the ocean.  The officers stayed at the hotel and lived a comfortable lifestyle with heated rooms and electricity while the other aliens resided in barracks built on the grounds of the hotel. The officers played tennis and billiards and bowled in the hotel’s bowling alley while their men busied themselves building two small German villages and chapels out of driftwood from the French Broad River, debris from the Great Flood of 1916 and Prince Albert tobacco tin cans. They even built a german encampment 2carousel with chain-suspended chairs that played music as it turned. 

I’ve placed 2 pictures of these lovely, rustic buildings within this post. In the one to the right, you can see one of the chapels in the background.   

Although the citizens of Hot Springs were wary at first, they soon realized these men posed no danger and allowed officers escorted by guards to have dinner with them and speak before students of the Dorland Institute. A 35-member German brass band played concerts on Sunday afternoons, attended by people from Hot Springs and beyond. Some of the officers’ families moved to Hot Springs and visitation was allowed between the officers and their families in Hot Springs and at the hotel.

The only real discord arose when the citizens realized that the aliens ate better than they did, having meat twice daily while they were bound to honor meatless and wheatless days. Once the DOL learned of this, they required the aliens to observe meatless and wheatless days as well.

german encampment 3In 1920, the government transferred custody of the aliens from the Department of Labor to the Department of War, at which time the DOW decided to send them to a prison camp in Georgia where they would be required to perform labor beside real prisoners of war building roads. No one wanted to leave and a case of typhoid broke out among the aliens – many suspecting they deliberately drank contaminated water so that they could stay.

In the picture above, you can see the detail that went into these small houses. Each had a matching gate and walkway and the aliens heated them with furnaces they built from cast off bricks and stones. One had a miniature widow’s walk and the spindles on one porch railing were made from empty thread spools.

All in all, the people of Hot Springs were proud of this camp and treated the aliens well, so much so that they did not want to leave.

Through the Brown Mountain Lightss

Brown Mountain Lights Book 1

Wise Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 4

Beloved Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 3

Moonfixer

Appalachian Journey Book 2

Whistling Woman

Appalachian Journey Book 1

Madchen, die pfeifen

Whistling Woman (German)

Les deces arrivant toujours par trois

Whistling Woman (French)

Christy Tillery French Cynthia Tillery Hodges