Tea Party Winners: Debra E. Marvin's winner is: Kathleen, Jennifer Hudson Taylor's winner of her MacGregor Legacy series is Chris Granville and second winner is Britney Adams for the plaque and For Love or Country novel:, Angela K. Couch's winner is: , Carrie Fancett Pagels's winner per random.org is Beverly Duell-Moore for a copy of BCB and second winner for colonial goodies is: Carrie Moore Gould, Denise Weimer's winner: Janet Marie Dowell, Shannon McNear's winner is: Adriann Harris, Pegg Thomas's winner is: Susan C

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Revolutionary War-era Cemetery Inspires an Author by Cynthia Howerter

The colonial historical fiction novel that I’m currently writing is set in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania during 1777. It was a frightening time for the settlers, many of whom were Scot-Irish Presbyterians, on what was then part of the American frontier. Deadly, lightning-fast raids conducted by British-allied Iroquois war parties swept across the rural county while General George Washington and the ragtag Continental Army of ordinary men did their best to battle the highly-trained professional British army in the east.

The British burned American homes
 during the Revolutionary War (photo by Cynthia Howerter)

The story of the people who tamed and defended Pennsylvania’s backcountry and fought in the Revolutionary War is dear to my heart—mostly because my ancestors were among them.    

After conducting eight months of intensive research about that era on the Pennsylvania frontier, I needed to create the characters for my novel—and desiring to make them realistic, I knew where to turn for inspiration. 

A previous visit to the old Warrior Run Presbyterian Church and burial ground in Northumberland County had impressed me with the number of church members who not only lived during the Revolutionary War period, but who served their fledgling country as soldiers in the war for independence. You may recall my July 2, 2014 Colonial Quills article ("The Warrior Run Presbyterian Church in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania") about this church.

Warrior Run Presbyterian Church (photo by Cynthia Howerter)

The first time I visited the historic church grounds, a well-maintained stone wall near the church caught my eye—and I knew I needed to investigate the enclosed cemetery more closely. 

View of the stone wall and enclosed Warrior Run burial ground (photo by Cynthia Howerter)

After parking my car underneath several ancient shade trees, I spotted an old iron gate.The metal latch was frozen in place from infrequent use, but I persevered until it released and allowed me to swing open the heavy gate and enter the peaceful enclosure.

The burial ground's iron gate (photo by Julie Kane Trometter)

Inside the wall was a neatly laid out cemetery, the final resting place of many of the area’s early Scot-Irish Presbyterian settlers.

Warrior Run burial ground's neatly laid out graves (photo by Cynthia Howerter)

I was intrigued by the numerous American flags held in place by metal markers and wondered which war the honored person had fought in. Walking past flag after flag, I was stunned by the number of men who had fought in the American Revolutionary War.

The peaceful resting place of American Patriots (photo by Julie Kane Trometter)

These were the very men who defended their communities from Iroquois war parties and battled the British so the American colonists would be able to govern themselves.

These men were not professionally trained soldiers. They were ordinary men—farmers, shopkeepers, husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends—who did extraordinary feats to defeat the Iroquois and British Army—the most powerful Army on earth.

American boys and men of all ages fought for our right to live free (photo by Cynthia Howerter)

While some of these brave men traveled east and fought the British Army, others stayed home in Northumberland County and fought the British-allied Iroquois Indians whose goal was to destroy the homes and crops and lives of the settlers trying to eke out a living in the wilderness.

The men and women whose final resting place is inside the protective stone wall of the Warrior Run Presbyterian Church’s cemetery are the people whose lives inspired the characters in my colonial historical novel. In their honor, my characters bear a mixture of some of their first and last names. 

Let’s look at the gravestones of several American patriots and spend a quiet moment honoring those who put their lives on the line so that you and I can live a free life.

Patriot Thomas Wallace (photo by Julie Kane Trometter)

Patriot John Montgomery (photo by Julie Kane Trometter)

Patriot Thomas Barr (photo by Julie Kane Trometter)

Patriot John Caldwell (photo by Julie Kane Trometter)

A special and heartfelt thank you to my cousin and fellow DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) member, Julie Kane Trometter, for driving to the Warrior Run Presbyterian Cemetery and taking photographs for this article.

Photographs ©2014 Julie Kane Trometter 
Photographs ©2014 Cynthia Howerter 

Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter loves using her training in education, research, writing, and speaking to teach and inspire others about a time in America that was anything but boring. A member of the Daughters of the American revolution (DAR), Cynthia believes history should be alive and personal.

Visit Cynthia's website: Cynthia Howerter - all things historical 

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