Monthly Archives: June 2015

Frank Deter Jr. writes about his late dog, Judy, in a heart-tugging memoir

MECHANICSBURG, Pa.Sunbury Press has released A Dog Named Judy,  Frank Deter Jr.’s memoir of his late hunting companion, his beagle Judy.

case6.000x9.000.inddMany people agree that dogs are “Man’s best friend,” and when Frank Deter acquires a new hunting dog, he is excited to find the truth in this common expression. He and his family call the dog “Judy,” and Frank takes his son on many unforgettable hunts with her. Frank’s relationship with his son improves, and many friends and family members are astounded by Judy’s impeccable performance in the fields.

Throughout the story, Frank recollects some of his most memorable hunts, including one with a preacher, a colonel, and his aging father whom Frank accompanies on his last hunt. He also amuses readers with some of the challenges he had to face with a feisty, yet lovable dog.

A true story of achievement, love, and, loss, “A Dog Named Judy” will forever stay in reader’s hearts as they learn the importance of close family ties, and significance of forming an eternal bond.

Frank Deter, Jr. grew up in the hill country of northwest Pennsylvania, where hunting and beagle ownership were a way of life. From his early boyhood he and his family owned and hunted with beagles.

AuthorPhotoAs a young man Frank left home to serve in the United States Marine Corp, after which he pursued a career in Architecture, Engineering, Urban/Regional Planning and Landscape Contracting in the Washington D. C. vicinity.

Upon retirement in 1995, Frank and his wife Alice returned to the Pennsylvania hills where they reside at their country home to this day.

Since retirement, Frank has been active in tree farming, forest management and community service. With his continued passion for outdoor sports, he’s hunted and fished on five continents.

A Dog Named Judy, true in every detail with exception of name substitutions, is the life story of a very exceptional thoroughbred beagle. As well as an outstanding gun dog, Judy was a beloved friend, companion, and family member. She will live eternally in the memories and in the hearts of Frank and his family and all others who shared the privilege of following her through forests and fields.

A Dog Named Judy
by Frank Deter Jr. (Author)
List Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 146 pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620066092
ISBN-13: 978-1620066096
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces
Pets : Dogs – Breeds
Sports & Recreation : Hunting – General
Juvenile Nonfiction : Animals – Dogs

For more information, please see:…


Preserving Queen Esther’s Town

By Jim Remsen

(Author website

Some good news came over the transom recently– that the important American Indian village site where

the protagonist of my historical novel Visions of Teaoga once ruled is gaining the protection of the national Archaeological Conservancy.

The nonprofit conservancy identifies, acquires, and preserves significant archaeological sites around the country. It has preserved 465 sites thus far – and now is happily adding Queen Esther’s Town in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

After more than a decade of effort, the group said, it recently signed an option to purchase 92 acres of the riverfront site. That will make it the conservancy’s

Queen Esther's Town was located on the far shore during the 1770s.

Queen Esther’s Town was located on the far shore during the 1770s.

largest preserve in the Eastern U.S.

The archaeologists were exultant. According to the conservancy, the site “contains the heart of Queen Esther’s Town, a very significant sprawling series of contact period villages.” It said the floodplain where the Susquehanna and Chemung Rivers meet “has staggering research potential for future scholars” not only because of Esther’s 1700s native village but also the centuries of prior habitation there.

White settler accounts say Queen Esther’s Town – also known as Queen Esther’s Village or Esthertown – contained about seventy “rude houses.” Readers of Visions of Teaoga learn how the Shawnee matriarch Esther led the mixed village from her large home, which whites called Queen Esther’s Castle. One account says her home “was long and low, built of hewn logs and planks, neatly done, with a porch over the doorway, and surrounded by a number of other buildings.” Her people planted crops and herded cattle on the broad plain, until the village was burned by Continental soldiers in 1778 because of the natives’ alliance with the British.

The conservancy says the preserve contains five recorded archeological sites, and “probably many more. Ceramic shards provide evidence of extensive occupations of Owasco cultures between about A.D. 900-1300. And even earlier occupations are indicated by temporally diagnostic projectile points dating to the Transitional (1200-1800 B.C.) and Archaic (1800-8000 B.C.) periods.”

This news came to me by way of an Onondaga Indian gentleman, Mitchell Bush, who’d purchased a copy of my book at one of my author signings. Mr. Bush received a mailing from the conservancy about the Queen Esther’s Town purchase option, and kindly reached out to let me know. You can find more about it at the website and in the Spring 2105 issue of American Archaeology.

In confirming the news and doing some online research, I also came upon references to skeletons of “giants” unearthed at the site that were believed to be the remains of long-gone Susquehannocks (also known variously as Andastes, Conestogas or Minquas). In his 1943 History of Waverly (N.Y.), Capt Charles Albertson wrote, “The Broadhead expedition in the summer of 1916 secured the skeletons of several of this people on Queen Esther’s Flats near the public highway leading to Towanda about 1/2 mile west of the Chemung river Bridge at Athens; many or all of these remains indicated that they were about seven feet in height.”

As you may know, that region of upstate Pennsylvania has undergone rapid change and development as a result of the natural-gas drilling boom. Let’s hope the Queen Esther’s Town site and its precious artifacts receive the protection and respect they deserve.

Ashley Nichole’s haunting photographs and John Nester’s poetry featured in “Found. Still Lost.”

fsl_fcMECHANICSBURG, Pa.Sunbury Press has released Found. Still Lost, featuring the black and white photography of Ashley Nichole and the verse of John Nester.

Photographer Ashley Nichole explores forbidden and forgotten places with her lens. These black and white images capture scenes of places found, but still lost to time. Ashley and poet John M. Nester assign verse to these images, envisioning situations that may or may not have been.

About Ashley Nichole:
Just a girl with a love of memories and moments. Black and white darkroom photography was my first love – the one I never got over.

A book release party and exhibition of Ashley’s photographs will be held at the 2nd Floor Gallery at 105 S Market St, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 on Saturday July 18 from 6 to 9 PM. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Found. Still Lost.
by Ashley Nichole (Author, Photographer), John M. Nester (Author)
List Price: $19.95
Hardcover: 50 pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. (May 29, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620066025
ISBN-13: 978-1620066027
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces
BISAC: PHOTOGRAPHY / Individual Photographers / Artists’ Books

For more information, please see:…

‘The Little Brother of War’

By Jim Remsen

(Author website

Is lacrosse big in your area? It certainly is in mine. And summertime is the season for LAX camps, where kids suit up and work up a sweat developing their stick-handling skills.

The game they’re playing, as you probably know, is American Indian in origin – the original America’s Game (sorry, football). But aboriginal lacrosse was so much more than a sport. I didn’t really understand that until I read a book called lbowA Friend Among the Senecas. Its author, David Swatzler, tells how American Indian lacrosse “had a profound spiritual and religious dimension difficult for European Americans to appreciate.”

A Friend Among the Senecas is one of the first scholarly books I consulted in my research for Visions of Teaoga, my historical novel about Indians and settlers that Sunbury Press has published. Swatzler’s book is a fascinating chronicle of a Quaker effort to westernize some Seneca Indians – but what really stuck with me was his account of Iroquois lacrosse traditions.

At its highest level, the game was cosmic. The Iroquois believed lacrosse to be nothing less than a gift from the Creator, and so by playing it, Swatzler explains, they “pleased the Creator and disposed him toward curing or preventing illness, and sending clement weather.” To that end, when a famine or epidemic threatened, the Seneca shaman might order a game of ritual lacrosse to be played. The Hurons played to bring good weather to germinate their corn seeds. Similarly, the Cayuga warded off summer drought with a ritual game to honor the Seven Thunders that controlled the wind and rain. Seven elders played against seven young men. The goals were seven paces wide. Seven points brought victory.

“The Iroquois believed that the sound of thunder was produced by the sticks of the seven Thunder Spirits striking their lacrosse ball as they played the game inside the thunderheads,” Swatzler writes. “Streaks of lightning traced the path of their lacrosse ball through the sky as they batted it across the heavens.”

Each team’s shaman had a big role to play. Just as he’d do in war, the shaman might give his players certain amulets to wear, apply magic potions to the team’s ball, and beseech the surrounding animist spirits to help his team and village. To prepare themselves, the players performed ritual purification such as fasting and purging, and applied body paint and charms.

Most games pitted groups within villages, or were village-to-village affairs that were informal and spontaneous, with lots of sidelines wagering. But it was the big matches between nations that were the mind-blowing productions.

“Forty, sixty, sometimes a hundred or more ‘warriors’ took to the playing field, which was often four or five times longer that a modern football field, with the goals as far apart as a quarter of a mile,” Swatzler writes. “One game in 1797 at the Grand River Reservation in southeastern Ontario, between the Mohawk and Seneca nations, was played on a 100-acre field. Each side had a reserve of 600 players and fielded 60 of them at a time.”

Just about anything was allowed short of deliberating whacking someone with a stick. Each player went one-on-one against an assigned opponent–and they often dropped their sticks and went at it. When this happened, they “were ignored by the rest of the players, as the general melee rolled along the field, leaving in its wake scattered pairs of brawling players.”

On this competitive level, the Iroquois nations regarded lacrosse as “the little brother of war.” By allowing the rough-and-tumble, the game became a proving ground for strength and tenacity, an outlet for aggressiveness, and a way to work out grudges. In the end, it thus served “to preserve domestic tranquility within the village and the nation” and to keep group alliances durable.

In March 2014, the general manager of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team, Gewas Schindler, came to Philadelphia to help open the “Native American Voices” exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Schinder spoke about lacrosse legends, including the Haudenosaunee belief that lacrosse exists to draw the talents hidden within all people.

I attended that day, and viewed the museum’s display of handcrafted Iroquois lacrosse sticks. If you’re nearby, you might plan a visit as well – the exhibition is open until 2019. The sticks on display perhaps are survivors of some rugged “little wars.” They may have been prayed over, imbued with potions, even bled upon.

To me, they were mute reminders that the modern game is a tame version of the original. And while today’s play may be spirited, it’s also spiritually earthbound.

Gory Legend of the Bloody Rock

The Bloody Rock lies beneath a protective grate, on the west bank of the Susquehanna River.

The Bloody Rock lies beneath a protective grate, on the west bank of the Susquehanna River.

By Jim Remsen

(Author website

You’ve heard of the Bloody Rock? Sometimes called Queen Esther’s Rock? No?

I’m accustomed to getting blank looks when I ask. It’s such a shame, and one more example of how we’ve forgotten so much of our amazing local history. As the anniversary of that gory event nears, allow me to explain what’s still there—on the roadside in northern Pennsylvania–for you to see.

The incident occurred 237 years ago, immediately after a Revolutionary War fight on the banks of the Susquehanna River near present-day Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Because that area is known as the Wyoming Valley, the fight is officially called the Battle of Wyoming. The Patriot side, however, termed it the Wyoming Valley Massacre because of how their militia was overrun and slaughtered by a joint British-Indian force that afternoon of July 3, 1778.

I recounted the gruesome event during an author talk last week at the Rydal Park senior residence outside Philadelphia. Accounts of the battlefield mayhem had already sobered my 45 listeners, and they really began cringing when I started describing the Bloody Rock. On the evening of the battle, I told them, a dozen or so of the Patriot militiamen who’d fled the slaughter were hunted down, tied up, and led to a stone slab near the river. As night fell, the men were placed around the rock, prone on the ground, with their heads on the rock. And there they were summarily killed.

It’s said this was the work of the Indian warriors. A white witness hiding nearby swore that the executioner was a native woman. He said he saw her lift a war club and, dancing and screaming, methodically bash the skulls of the captives one by one. And he said she was Indian royalty: the matriarch already known to the whites as Queen Esther.

I’ve gotten to know the Bloody Rock story quite well because Queen Esther is the protagonist of Visions of Teaoga, my historical novel about Indian-settler conflict in the Eastern woodlands. As a boy growing up near Wilkes-Barre, I had heard of the Wyoming Valley Massacre but didn’t really know what it was about. I’d never of Queen Esther, either, so I knew nothing about her supposed role. None of this awesome history was taught to us in school, and it’s still skipped over. Visions of Teaoga is my attempt to fill that gap.

Queen Esther was an extraordinary, complicated person, and a natural to serve as my storyteller. I see her as a tragic figure on a Shakespearean scale. People still argue about her role in the Bloody Rock episode, and even about who she really was. I found six different versions of her origins and lineage and went with the one I found most credible, that she was full-blooded Shawnee.

But was she a killer? There are documented accounts of Esther being a peace woman who had good relations with white neighbors for much of her life. Some say it wouldn’t be like her to perpetrate a massacre of helpless captives, and that in any event she was too far away from the battlefield that day. But others who knew her swore she was the one who lifted the bloody maul. Indeed, it is possible that she did it. Perhaps she psychologically snapped from a lifetime of setbacks to her people. Maybe she was enacting the revenge required because of the death of one her sons earlier in the battle. (As my readers know, I work it out in a plausible way in the book’s climax.)

What we do know is that to the enraged Patriot public, Esther was seen as evil incarnate. They called her a demon, the “Butcher of Wyoming.” General Washington ordered a foray that burned down Queen’s Esther Village, the town she led on the upper Susquehanna, and followed that with the Sullivan Campaign that invaded the Iroquois heartland to destroy crops and villages. It’s said Esther went into seclusion and remained a wanted woman for the rest of her life.

Nationalist propaganda focused on the slaughter of the Patriot fighters but overlooked the fact that the outnumbered militiamen foolishly left their fort and marched into a trap after spurning an offer to surrender and be spared. It was blind to the fact that the warriors killed men who took up arms against them–but let all the women and children flee the bloodbath. And it said nothing about why the “savages” were so wrathful; many were carrying out a delayed vengeance for a controversial land grab that had dispossessed their families of the Wyoming Valley a generation earlier.

In the early years of our nation, the bloody episode grew legendary, its victims heroicized. The events inspired the name of the then-new Wyoming territory out west. In 1843, a hulking obelisk was built near the battle site to memorialize the dead militiamen.

Every July 4, a public ceremony is held at the obelisk to commemorate the battle. You can attend the one scheduled for this July 4 at 10 a.m.

And you can drive north a mile, to the little town of Wyoming, Pa., and visit the actual Bloody Rock. It’s covered by a metal grate to protect it from souvenir hunters. You’ll see a plaque that the DAR installed in 1895 that pins the deed squarely on Esther. Fortunately, it’s surmounted now by a state historical marker that corrects the record by noting that the killer was “traditionally but not certainly identified as ‘Queen Esther.’”

Check it out. This is the stuff of legend, and a history too rich to forget.

Digital Voices From the Past


Aa_Hiawatha Belt

By Jim Remsen

(Author website

Imagine it. Three thousand hours of American Indian oral recordings, brought out of the archives after decades, digitized, and made available to the public – that means you — for free. A database of six thousand traditional Iroquois names, now searchable by clan affiliation.

Those and other precious native holdings of the American Philosophical Society have been brought forth for sharing in a respectful new collaboration between that eminent Philadelphia institution and a host of native tribes across North America.

I knew nothing about this remarkable initiative, which was highlighted at a conference organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Native American and Indigenous Studies program. Looking to attend a good event on the Native American Heritage Month calendar last November, I happily located this one, which showcased what it called “innovative approaches to recovering and engaging with Indigenous knowledge in the classroom and in the field.” As a sign of this native partnership with the academy, a Hiawatha Belt (shown above) was prominently displayed on the stage.

Timothy Powell, who directs the philosophical society’s Native American Project, told the audience how his team has been digitizing and sharing papers and other holdings with more than 100 native communities to help them revitalize their cultures and languages. For instance, a Penobscot dictionary has been disseminated into that community to help members revive and broaden use of their language. Recordings of Tuscarora “wisdom keepers,” made on a defunct wire-spool device in the 1940s, have also been digitized and shared: “from oral to wire to digital to oral again,” Powell remarked.

Similarly, recordings of traditional musicians, recorded generations ago on wax cylinders, are being digitized and shared. Creating the database of traditional names by clan affiliation has been a breakthrough for Iroquois groups, Powell said, because members are traditionally named by clan mothers but awareness of all the traditional names had faded over time.

Powell urged anyone to contact him to get online access to the philosophical society’s vast oral recordings. He’s reachable at

The convener of the conference, Penn anthropology professor Margaret Bruchac, explained that the university’s minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies has served to bring together the disciplines of anthropology, education, history, law, linguistics, religious studies, art history, folklore and even nursing. (Indeed, Powell said videos of native healers have been used in Penn’s nursing school.)

Bruchac is researching how a predecessor at the University Museum, famed anthropologist Frank Speck, embedded himself with native communities a century ago and was entrusted with masks, wampum belts and other sacred objects. The elders told him to regard every object “as a grandfather and to keep it until it was safe to return it to the community.” Some of the belts and other objects disappeared, however, and Bruchac, an Abenaki Indian, is working hard to track them down. She chronicles her exploits in her outstanding “On the Wampum Trail” blog:

Another presenter was Doug George Kanentiio, a Mohawk activist who helped develop the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge, based in Syracuse. The institute is named for the legendary figure crediting with establishing the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy centuries ago. The Hiawatha Institute aims to be a resource center and to ally with schools to offer classes and distance learning in “music, history, law, biology, theater, language and the fine arts, all from a distinctly indigenous perspective.” You can learn more at

A new day has dawned in the academy, at least in some corners of higher learning. Over and over the conference’s speakers expressed profound regard for traditional knowledge and cultural patrimony. A guiding principle has been the Iroquois ethic of looking seven generations forward and seven generations back. As Powell said, for something to be of lasting value “it needs to benefit people seven generations in the future.”

Yes, There’s a Powwow Near You


If you haven’t experienced an Indian powwow yet, I recommend you seek one out. They’re colorful extravaganzas that occur East and West for much of the year. Summertime is high season on the powwow trail, with big gatherings scheduled most weekends, even here in the East.

Every powwow I’ve attended has been welcoming to non-natives and family-friendly. They tend to be multicultural and intertribal, meaning different styles of drumming and dancing are on display. Don’t be surprised by the rainbow coalition of complexions, too–evidence of the Indians’ complicated history of mixing and mingling with whites and blacks.

I experienced the Indians’ warm ways again last weekend when I attended a Nanticoke-Lenape powwow in southern New Jersey to sign and sell my book, Visions of Teaoga, which delves into Eastern Woodlands history of the 1700s. The tribal organizers welcomed me, a white man (a yengwe in the parlance of Visions of Teaoga) to the event. I also attended their harvest powwow last autumn, where they promoted my book to the crowd, and even bought copies for themselves and their bookstore. To top that off, they invited me back to introduce the book to teachers at an educator showcase they held a few weeks later.

This particular group calls itself the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation. Headquartered in Bridgeton, N.J., the group traces its lineage to the native bands that inhabited New Jersey, Delaware, southern New York and eastern Pennsylvania at the time of “first contact” with the Europeans. The group’s primary base –South Jersey and Delaware – was peopled by two of the three Lenape (also called Delaware) clans, the Unami and the Unalachtigo. The third clan, the mountaineer Munsee situated farther to the north, is the only Lenape group to figure in the Visions of Teaoga history. That was good enough for the powwow folks, who were happy to have me feature their northern Munsee cousins.

The Nanticoke-Lenape history follows a familiar, painful course across time. In the 1600s, their tidewater homeland was claimed for a colony by Swedish settlers. The Swedish records refer to the Indians they encountered in settled communities as being peaceable, friendly and open to trading. Difficulties set in farther south, however, when the Nanticokes tried to resist colonial intrusion but gradually moved north and united with the Lenapes.

According to the descendant group, the first treaty the U.S. government signed after the Declaration of Independence was with the Lenni-Lenape in 1778. Here’s how the group’s website explains the situation: “The revolutionary government promised that if the ‘Delawares’ helped their fight against the British, they would be given statehood in the future… a promise that was not kept. Because of continuing conflict with European settlers encroaching upon Tribal lands, many of the Tribe’s members were killed or removed from their homelands. Some were able to continue to live in the homeland; however, they lived in constant fear. Those who remained survived through attempting to adapt to the dominant culture, becoming farmers and tradesmen.”

What a familiar story. Readers of Visions of Teaoga learn about so-called “remnant bands” of Indians scattered across northern Pennsylvania and New York who had to coalesce and adapt to endure during that desperate era of dispossession. There to the south, in the Delmarva peninsula and South Jersey, the same dystopic pattern was playing out.

For more about the Nanticoke-Lenni-Lenape story, programs, and activity schedule, go to And to locate a powwow on your horizon, just go to, yes,