The Colour Box- New Novel will be on Amazon March 15

25 Feb

I am pleased to announce the new historical novel based on the lives of two sisters who lived on Antigua in 1800s will soon be available. Watch for it on :

I remember as a child enjoying those work sheets in school where dots with numbers or letters were connected to reveal a picture of a flower, a tree etc. As a child I enjoyed discovering what picture the dots would reveal.

While in New Jersey a year ago we visited a museum  that connected some of the links of Elsie’s Gilman family history for me, and I felt rather like a dot to dot picture was disclosed.

When the Revolutionary War ended, the United States spent nearly a decade without a regular navy. With the war against Great Britain won, the reasoning went, why would it need a navy? The simple answer is: pirates.

After breaking with England, 1783, the American War for Independence officially ended. Thus, American merchant ships no longer were protected by the Royal Navy. The fledgling U.S. government couldn’t raise a Navy but believed it could stave off attacks from Barbary pirates — north African privateers from Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli by paying the tributes demanded by pirates.

While the Moroccan pirates cooperated, the Algerian leader declared war on the United States, capturing a merchant ship in 1784.

Without a protecting force American trade to the Mediterranean would always be insecure. Desperate to utilize the Mediterranean trade route and protect American ships, the 1794 Congress, at George Washington’s urging, authorized a fleet of six U.S. Navy ships.

In the current novel I am writing I slipped in an imaginary connection between the Hart sisters of Antigua and my Grandmother Elsie’s grandmother, Malvina Amanda Gilman born in 1810 in Alexandria, Va.

Her father, Ephraim Gilman, was born in Gilmantown, N.H. in 1778. Twenty -seven year old Ephraim married 18 year old Anne Crawford in 1805, the same year Elizabeth Hart married Charles Thwaites in Antigua.

Ephaim was a merchant that owned ships which sailed to foreign parts. I assume he sailed to the Caribbean because my  tattered family history papers say he brought back cotton and molasses, both grown in Antigua.  Ephaim became prosperous merchant. In the war of 1812 the British burned his warehouse and schooner of flour.

The Gilman family came to America on the good ship Diligent in 1638 due to religious persecution in England. The census ledger of 1810 records that Ephraim imported Moroccan shoes.  When I read about the beginning of our US Navy in the maritime museum in Philadelphia, I realized how the dots connected.

By 1801, the pirates of Tripoli had launched a full-on campaign against the U.S. that would later be referred to as the First Barbary War. The1805 victory for the U.S. Navy would mark the first win.

The Second Barbary War launched in 1812 —was the same year that the United States began warring once more with Great Britain. With its resources spread thin, the U.S. government tabled any efforts to confront Algiers or its pirates.

It wasn’t until 1814, ending the United States’ last skirmish with England, that the Navy was able to set its sights on Algiers — and an end to Barbary piracy once and for all. Congress officially declared war on Algiers March 3, 1815, after growing the U.S. Navy for three years. Ephraim died in Washington, D.C. in 1853. Thus the creation of the US Navy allowed him  quite a few years to secure his fortunes as a shipping merchant.

It was fun to slip a Gilman relative into the story of the Harts sisters in Antigua.

My new website for the book is found at


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