Some free blacks did own slaves…

When discussing slavery with southern apologists, it generally will not be long before one of them tells you that free blacks owned slaves, too. It’s essentially another version of ‘they did it, too,’ which has nothing to do with whether or not race-based slavery in America was moral or not. In fact, I’ve even had a couple neo-Confederates tell me that the American institution of race-based slavery wasn’t race-based, since blacks could own slaves, too. But never mind the logical fallacies.

This article gives a deeply fascinating look into some missing context about just why at least some blacks owned slaves.

(I’m sure that there were some free blacks who owned slaves for less noble reasons, mainly because humans are humans)

You may also be interested in reading this collection of quotes on the evils of slavery (often by southern slave-owners themselves).

You might find this post on secession, slavery, and the Civil War interesting.



Related books: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass- his own story as told by himself. A classic.

Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup- another first person account written at the time

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself, by Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897)

More free slave narratives to download here.

Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress. The author is William Lee Miller. He researched the congressional records during the decades prior to 1861, reviewing the discussions, arguments, and fights on the issue of slavery. He shares them here, with plentiful commentary and background. His style is riveting, the story fascinating, and his personal conviction clearly evident.



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Buckwheat Sesame Bread

sesame buckwheat bread on chrysanthemum plate2014-11-23 19.41.50Buckwheat Sesame Molasses Bread

I have two versions to share- the original, yeastbread version, and if you scroll down, the sourdough version I made this week. This is a dense, hearty, dark, whole grain, crusty, peasant bread- which is just about all of the things I love in a bread. It has a strong flavor that can stand up to strong toppings, especially when you toast it- onions, garlic, cream cheese with chives, garlic, and pepper.
2014-11-24 10.43.55

It is also delicious dipped in a balsamic vinegar and oil herb dressing.

What that means is that if you prefer soft, tender breads and want bread as much like storebought as possible, you will not like this. I like those, too, but I really enjoy breads that have a taste and texture that feels like it comes right out of a Grimm’s fairy tale. You know how the youngest son in the fairy tales gets sent off to the forest to chop wood and all he has in his lunch is some bread and wine? I like to think it was this bread. Sustaining stuff, that’s what this is.

Buckwheat Molasses Sesame Bread

1/4 cup molasses (I prefer blackstrap)

1 cup warm water

2 teaspoons dry yeast

2 cups buckwheat flour

2 cups rye flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup oil

1 cup water


Mix 1/4 cup molasses and 1 cup lukewarm water.  Add yeast.

Let soak a few minutes.


Combine the flour, salt, and sesame seeds in a bowl.

Add 1/4 cup of oil and 1 cup water, blending well.

Add molasses-yeast mixture and work it into dough with hands.  It will be sticky.

Form dough into a ball, place in oiled bowl, then turn dough over, so top is coated with oil.  Cover bowl with damp cloth and let rise in warm place for 3 hours until double in bulk.


Knead dough and form into 2 round loaves on cookie sheets.  Let rise an additional 45-60 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F.


Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until done (it should be brown, and the bottom should sound hollow when you tap on it).


Makes two round loaves.  Scroll down further for another method of baking this bread.


Sourdough buckwheat molasses bread

Combine in a bowl:

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups each buckwheat, rye, and whole wheat flours

1 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups of sourdough starter

1/4 cup of oil (I used sesame oil this time, but I have used olive oil or melted butter in the past and both were tasty)

Stir well- if the dough is too dry, add plain yogurt or some buttermilk. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour.

Stir well, kneading if necessary, and when you have a smooth but lightly sticky batch of dough,  lightly rub some additional oil over the dough, cover well, and let this set….

How long?  How sour do you like your sourdough?   You should let it set at least 12 hours, or overnight.   I like mine very sour, and I like this bread with a strong flavour to be very strong indeed, so I ended up letting it set for 72 hours.  I checked on it every day, punching it down, kneading it a bit, and rubbing more oil on the top.  The bowl was sealed with its own lid to keep the dough from drying out- which it can easily do.

2014-11-23 07.36.10

At the end of 72 hours I punched it down again, kneaded it well, and then rolled it into two long loaves, slashing the loaves diagonally.  I put them on a greased baking sheet. I let them rise, covered, in a warm oven for about 90 minutes.  Then I baked them at 350 for 40 minutes, and left them in the oven while the oven cooled.

The crust is pleasantly crusty, and the bread is dense, hearty, and soft and chewy in the middle- not fluffy-soft, but chewy-soft.


2014-11-23 19.19.24


My husband loves them this way.  My son-in-law Shasta says they’d be good with cream cheese and chives.

2014-11-23 19.42.02



I think it’s okay this way, but I have a word I like to use for bread like this.

2014-11-23 19.41.31


I prefer to take the loaf and treat it like biscotti- I slice it thin, and then put the pieces in the oven until toasted, then I turn them over and toast them again.

2014-11-24 09.41.40

It’s a little less crunchy than melba toast or croutons in the middle.  The outside edge is just about like a crouton.  In other words, perfect.

2014-11-24 09.42.00

Cream cheese, green onion, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dash red pepper, cheddar cheese

Cream cheese, green onion, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dash red pepper, cheddar cheese


The first time I baked it this way, it was kind of an accident.  I just meant to warm some up, but I forgot about while taking care of other things.  I loved how it turned out.  Now, nobody else in my family is a fan. But we happened to have company over that night who saw my ‘mistake’ and begged to try it- they loved it.  They raved about it.  They said when they had lived in Europe, this was the kind of bread they found in neighborhood bakeries, and they missed it.

2014-11-24 10.44.13

I’ll have to share a picture of the toasted slices later.  I toasted four slices and brought them back to my room with me, along with my dinner.  I was going to eat my dinner and take pictures of those toasted slices of sesame buckwheat bread, but you already know what I did, don’t you?

They were so, so good.


It was good for breakfast, too.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Printable Horse Template

horse and cowboy at the common room blogThe basic template comes from a vintage education magazine, printed sometime between 1915 and 1918. I cleaned it up a little and put it in gray so it would use a little less ink: printable jointed horse template from vintage pattern

You don’t, of course, need to cut out the four legs separately. You can cut out one front leg and one back leg and just fold your paper or cardstock in half to get a pair of each.

2014-11-23 10.38.402014-11-23 10.38.46

You can print directly on cardstock with many printers- I am not sure how to do that with mine. I also used old manilla file folders for my cardstock- because I had some I wasn’t using any longer.

2014-11-23 11.36.03 2014-11-23 11.41.01 2014-11-23 11.43.09 2014-11-23 11.43.15


For a cowboy, I used this one from Joel, only I cut the arms and legs separately so I could make them jointed.


Backdrop is from here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Free Printable Colouring Page- 1913 Fall Nature Scenes

vintage illustration fall frieze commonroomblog These are originally intended to be used by the teacher as a model for a blackboard illustration- before the days of bulletin boards, the teacher drew a seasonal design (or had one of the more artistic scholars do it) on the blackboard. I find examples in almost every old teacher’s magazine I look at.

This frieze was three separate blackboard illustrations- one for November, one, for October, and one for September. I liked them together. These were drawn by one RJM, but I don’t know who that is.

You can click on the picture below to enlarge it, or use your printer program to make it fit the page (I suggest landscape orientation).

You could separate these and use them as a cover for a home-made book, or for the cover of a card for a friend or relative, or color them with fabric crayons and iron on to muslin squares for napkins, or onto t-shirts for a Thanksgiving project.

Or you could enlarge them and use them for place mats- laminate them, or just use as disposable placemats and put some crayons at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving.


Or you could just, you know, colour them.  Enjoy!

vintage illustration fall frieze

Collected from a 1913 teacher help book

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Commonplace book entries on duty, charity, and so forth

Taken from the book From Madge to Margaret, published in 1880:

commonplace book telling the same storyOn the shortcomings of charity:

“You can prevent Mrs. Burns being cold and hungry, but you can’t prevent our poor Mrs. White making herself unhappy by thinking if her children only had their rights they would be something very high up in the world.”

On envy, which has made one old friend from a small town a little glum and out of sorts with her childhood friend who married up and out of the country hamlet:

“She was thinking what an easy life you have: just as if that made hers any harder!”

On whether or not it’s necessary to compliment somebody who only did what she should have done:

Well, I don’t know; it isn’t so very easy to feel just right when we’d ought to, that we need begrudge her the credit because she’d only done her duty. I’m free to say duty’s most too much for me sometimes.

On duty and doing what it is right:
“…remember that the only happiness that is worth your having depends on it.”

On the human misery of being neither bad enough nor good enough to enjoy shirking one’s duty:

Here at the hospital, says one character to another, ” there is always something definite to do in the way of help. Your duty is there before your eyes.”
” How dreadful ! ” Madge said, laughing ; ” and you must either do it, or hate yourself forever after. I’m afraid I am neither good enough nor bad enough to be comfortable, either way.”


Above taken from the book From Madge to Margaret, by Caroline Gardiner Cary Curtis, 1880, Online free at Googlebook

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Free Kindle Books, Indians, American History


Books are free at the time I found the links and pasted them here. This changes sometimes, so be sure to note the price before you add it to your cart.


Sometimes, for some reason, the links get stuck while loading. Just refresh the Amazon page and that should help.


You don’t need a Kindle to read these. More at the bottom of the post.

books black and white

Se-quo-yah; from Harper’s New Monthly, V.41
Just a few pages, written in the 1880s

books black and white

Wigwam Evenings Sioux Folk Tales Retold

Charles Alexander Eastman grew up among the Sioux.

books black and white

Cicero Ancient Classics for English Readers

books black and white

Gettysburg Address

books black and white

The Mayflower and Her Log; July 15, 1620-May 6, 1621 – Complete

The book is filled with detail – pedantically written out (so if you want an easy read this book is probably not for you). But if you want real basic page after page detailed descriptions of the ship, its crew, its passengers (both Adventurers and Planters) the journey, the disagreements and double-dealing, the day-after-day log entries from first weighing anchor to the months sitting in Cape Cod Bay before its return journey to England (including details about The Speedwell) then get this book.
Because it is reformatted it’s less than attractive – center-justified, left-justified, etc and no charts or images even though the Contents lists them. BUT if what you want is fact, fact, fact – ignore the little irritations; you’ll be glad you did.

books black and white

The Fathers of New England A Chronicle of the Puritan Commonwealths

books black and white

American Indian stories

This book contains stories about the culture clash between American Indians and American Europeans. The author lived between 1876 and 1938, so all the stories are contemporary to her life. Zitkala-Sa was an American Indian woman, so the stories are all presented from that point of view. And I really hadn’t realized how little I knew about the American Indian perspective until I read this. I’d imagined, of course, but this was without the usual European-centric flavor I hadn’t ever realized I’d been experiencing.

The first half of the book is an autobiographical account of the author’s early life, schooling, and time spent teaching at a school for Indians in the East Coast region. Without any real warning, it then switches track to shorter slice-of-life stories about being Indian, being European, and being caught in the middle.

The last section of the book is about politics, and has quotes and excerpts from various legal documents and laws detailing the way in which Indians are viewed and treated.

All in all it was both interesting and informative and overall a very good read.

There is no active table of contents, and there are a few words that should perhaps be italicized, but instead have _underscores_ on either side of them. Odd, but not really distracting.

The stories included are:

Impressions of an Indian Childhood
The School Days of an Indian Girl
An Indian Teacher Among Indians
The Great Spirit
The Soft-Hearted Sioux
The Trial Path
A Warrior’s Daughter
A Dream of Her Grandfather
The Widespread Enigma of Blue-Star Woman
America’s Indian Problem

books black and white

Folk-Lore and Legends: North American Indian

A decent collection. It does have a tendancy to bounce around from one Native American culture to another. I think it would have been better if all folklore and fables in this book were grouped together by culture. It wouldn’t seem as haphazardly put together if that were the case. It is rather short, but worth the read. If you are looking for something more in depth, or for something on a specific Native American culture you probably won’t find that type of collection as a freebie.

books black and white

The World of Indigenous North America (Routledge Worlds)

676 pages
Blurb; The World of Indigenous North America is a comprehensive look at issues that concern indigenous people in North America. Though no single volume can cover every tribe and every issue around this fertile area of inquiry, this book takes on the fields of law, archaeology, literature, socio-linguistics, geography, sciences, and gender studies, among others, in order to make sense of the Indigenous experience.

Covering both Canada’s First Nations and the Native American tribes of the United States, and alluding to the work being done in indigenous studies through the rest of the world, the volume reflects the critical mass of scholarship that has developed in Indigenous Studies over the past decade, and highlights the best new work that is emerging in the field. The World of Indigenous North America is a book for every scholar in the field to own and refer to often.

books black and white

Letters on an Elk Hunt
I first read “Letters of a Woman Homesteader” by Elinore Stewart. I enjoyed it so much I bought this one too. It is the same kind of writing . Just a continuation of the previous book. Excellent writing of a truly gifted writer and woman from the turn of the century, 1900 on. She has a way of bringing you into her time as though you were on the journey with her. You can visualize all that she talks about. She has a way about her that you don’t see much anymore. A love of her fellow man.
The stories in this book are from an Elk hunt that she made with her husband and neigbors. It isn’t really about hunting but what she endures on the trip. How everyone pitches in to help one another and help those they come across. When they come across homesteaders out in the middle of nowhere they always are welcomed in. She tells in her own way what the people she comes across are like and how they behave. the letters are quite heartwarming and fun to read. I enjoyed every word. I highly recommend this book to those interested in Wyoming life at the turn of the century. Or just interested in how the people interacted with each other back then.

books black and white



Subject to change without notice: Free Titles were free at the time I copied and pasted the links. But they don’t always stay free. The above books should, because they are all in the public domain, but sometimes….

Shameless money grubbing: I thought this was common knowledge, but it turns out it’s not- these are affiliate links. If you click on a free title and download it, I get….. nothing.  If you click on a free title and while you are at Amazon also buy something else, I get….. something.  Depending on what you buy, it will probably be somewhere between 4% and 7.5% of what you spend (I don’t get a percentage on penny sales) but I don’t pretend to understand how all of that side works.

Also, Swagbucks remains my favorite source for free Amazon gift cards. And if you haven’t joined, please click on the link and join so that I can keep getting free Amazon gift cards because I am still shameless.  Of course, if you regularly shop on line, you can also sign up for ebates, and then always check ebates first, before you do your regular shopping. You can get quite a tidy sum back on the purchases you were going to make anyway, which is not a bad deal.  And then you can use the money for books- or for other things.=)

Don’t have a Kindle? : You don’t have to have Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps. I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles.  That’s because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don’t remember to recharge them before returning.  I wouldn’t say I’m bitter about it, but I might be a little disgruntled. If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers.  The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens.  It does not have 3G, which is why it’s their Kindle.  Personally,  I don’t like Kindle Fires because I am a crank like that.

If you like these free listings, you should also like my Facebook page, because I list other free titles there several times each week.

Yes, my Kindle gets slow because I stuff it too full since I have no sense of proportion when it comes to owning books, both real and virtual.

You can left click on a title on your Kindle and delete it from your device, while still keeping it in your list of titles at Amazon in case you want to add it back to your Kindle later without paying for the title all over again. Don’t delete it from folder at Amazon unless you want to rid yourself of it permanently.  Now that I have my tricksy little new phone, I have added it to my list of devices to which I can download devices.  Woot!

Most of the blurbs and book descriptions above are not mine, but come from  reviews on Amazon’s page.  Excerpts generally come from Gutenberg.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Listening to….

Mike Scott of The Waterboys performing ‘The Lake Isle Of Innisfree’ on The Ronan Collins Show.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastrami Pinwheels

2014-11-20 17.14.00I got this great idea for lunchmeat and cream cheese pinwheels here.  I’m not going to duplicate her terrific instructions here, click through to see what she says to do, I’m just going to share a couple tips I found when I took the recipe for a test run – I used the results in my husband’s lunch this week and for extra snacks.

Here are some things I did differently, or will do differently next time:

I used pastrami because some of our guests won’t eat salami (beef instead of pork).

I didn’t spread the cream cheese evenly enough.  I think what would work better for me is to line a larger pan- like a jelly roll pan, or even 9X13,  with the plastic wrap, put in the cream cheese and other saran wrap, and then use a slightly smaller pan and press the cream cheese down so it’s an even depth.  Or Put to wooden spoons, one on each end of the cream cheese rectangle-t0-be, and roll that way so that the layer will be even.

2014-11-20 16.32.14

I sprinkled the cream cheese with green onions and olives- we liked that.

I sprinkled one half with chopped pickles.  Pickles are too wet.  Won’t do that again.

I think a dusting of some goodies from the spices and herbs collection between the cream cheese and saran wrap would be good and might help with sticking- maybe garlic powder and poppy seeds, or chives, smoked paprika…. hmmm.

2014-11-20 16.53.47

I did not overlap the layers of pastrami enough- this is important. It looked okay as a roll, but because the overlapping was minimal, when I sliced, my pinwheels kept coming undone.


I’m glad I took the recipe for a test drive.  It still turned out really, really well and was ridiculously simply insofar as ingredients and process.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vintage Thanksgiving Colouring Page

Printable Thanksgiving page from School Education, Volume 26, 1907, tinyI made a couple adaptations to this free printable- you could use the lined portion to have a child write a short note to a grandparent, neighbor, or Bible class teacher.  Your child might prefer to tell a story, write a narration, copy a Bible verse or a line of poetry.

The blank square can be filled with… another picture, perhaps a Thanksgiving scene- modern or historical- or  some calligraphy, a photograph, some writing of your child’s choice. Have fun!

The original comes from School Education, Volume 26, published by the School Education Company, 1907



Printable Thanksgiving page from School Education, Volume 26, 1907

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Religion in American Public Education, 1898

school education june 1898 cover

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment