Thursday, November 9, 2017


Free e-book editions of my prizewinning new historical novel for young (and old) readers age 10 and up, A Buss from Lafayette, are being given away from today through 11/15.  Here are the buy links:

KINDLE (Amazon)

NOOK (Barnes and Noble)


(Honest reviews posted on any of these sites are HUGELY APPRECIATED!)


In June, 1825, everyone around spirited 14-year-old Clara Hargraves is thrilled because the world-famous American Revolution hero, General Lafayette, is about to visit New Hampshire on his “Farewell Tour.” In one event-filled week, what Clara learns about her family, her friends, and Lafayette himself, profoundly changes her life. "Clara carries the story with the strength of her personality, humorous observations, and seemingly timeless adolescent woes. . .will entertain readers as young as 4th grade while older students will appreciate a teenager's perspective" - KidStuff Magazine. "A full-scale history lesson disguised as a can't put it down story." - I Read What You Write Blog.

One recent adult reader of this book, Peter Reilly, posted this on Facebook:
I really enjoyed this book. I'm thinking of switching to middle school girls fiction from here on in. Regardless I think it beautifully captures the excitement around Lafayette's visit and the way it permeated every nook and cranny of the country.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Here are a couple of photos of a 19th century store (in Old Sturbridge Village) like the one Clara visits in the story. Here's the description:

I spied Mr. Towne, his gray hair combed forward in the fashionable “Brutus” style, although his receding hairline made this look a bit odd. He leaned over his counter, which was laden as always with large glass jars of pickles, candy, and other delicacies. Behind him, shelves reached to the ceiling, stuffed with items fascinating to the eye. On one wall, the lower spaces held large wooden barrels of brandy, rum, gin, wine, and molasses, with boxes of oranges, lemons, figs, spices, and sugar loaves on the shelves above. My eye was drawn to the other wall, however, where a rainbow of lace, silk, cotton, wool, linen, gingham, and calico occupied most of the shelves. On the very top level were more personal items: hairbrushes, mirrors, pomatums, patent medicines, and combs. My miracle-working lead comb was up there waiting for me. - A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Complicated Figuring

A couple of decades ago, I went to Old Sturbridge Village to visit the 19th  century buildings and talk with the costumed guides. I remember very well going to one of the stores and watching and hearing an explanation of how village stores functioned, which was quite differently than those today. The guy behind the counter showed me a thick ledger book full of complicated transactions.  It was common, apparently, for people to "trade" for goods at the store by paying with goods they had grown or made themselves. They also used the store as a way to pay another store customer for goods or services. They did this by designating that credit for what they "traded" at the store be applied to another customer's account.

In my story, the Hargraves family pays with strawberry jam, not only for their own purchases, but to pay a seamstress (another store customer) for making a dress for Clara. Her brother, Joss, buys ice skates, candy etc., by trading baskets of charcoal that he has made.

I went back to Old Sturbridge Village recently and visited the stores there. No one could find that ledger book, but I was allowed to photograph a few ledger pages that were available. These pages were originally handwritten but there were also typed versions that showed the information on  those handwritten pages more clearly.

I was delighted to find evidence of 1) customers paying with their own products and 2) customers paying with goods or money that was credited to a third party. It appears that when an entry is labeled "to", it means a customer bought something at the store and the cost has been written down as a debit in the ledger.  However, those entries labeled "by" seem to show transactions in which a customer has traded something for credit, either for him/herself for for a third party.

In the following excerpt, it appears that Customer #416, Reuben Jones, has earned credit at the store by braiding sixteen hats and supplying two dozen eggs.

In the following accounting, see that Noah Miles used the 
store as an intermediary to pay James Godfrey.

Finally in the excerpt below it appears that Thomas Laughton accrued credit on his account by trading cheese;p Edwin Bemis apparently paid with Rye (whiskey or grain?), Maria Knight by shoes she apparently made; and Polly Knight and Electa Fairbanks had some kind of exchange involving hat braiding credit.

I'm  thinking that there must have been a ledger that kept track of all transactions by a list of customer numbers.

Very tricky book keeping!