2018 A to Z: G… All About Nancy Drew
In 2016 I learned of the first annual April A to Z… it immediately intrigued me and I began racking my brain for a theme. After much reading, and thinking… I finally came up with the theme of Southern Foods and Memories… it said to write what you know! When April of 2017 rolled around, I decided to share Conversations with Mama to the world… the best of my on-going blog post that has generated from nightly talks to my mother. It’s now 2018 and as Nancy Drew has been on my mind… since I began re-building my collection back… well, I hope you will join me in celebrating All about Nancy Drew during the April – A to Z Blog Hop!
G is for… Ghostwriters, Games, Gifts (Nancy Received), Graveyards, and Genealogy
The ghostwriters for the Stratemeyer Syndicate came about as Edward Stratemeyer had ideas… but didn’t have the time to write those manuscripts fast enough. But he had a great idea… hire writers to churn out the volumes, only paying a flat fee… and “all” the Nancy Drew books would show only one writer… and that would be Carolyn Keene! No matter who wrote the stories, it was the only to appear on the cover of the book… and for years… no one was the wiser as those writers had to keep mum! I never knew as a young girl! Did You?
The original first writer, and often looked at as the real “Carolyn Keene” was Mildred Wirt Benson… she was Nancy’s “first” mother in a sense, and breathed life into her for the first 23 stories; only a young girl herself at age 24 years old… a young college graduate given a chance to bloom at Stratemeyer Syndicate. Mildred began writing the Nancy stories soon after the era of the Roaring 20’s was ending… can’t you just see that in how the artists illustrated those covers we love today, especially the very first one of The Secret of the Old Clock! (Photo of Mildred from nancydrewsleuth)
Mildred wrote how she fulfilled her desire for an adventure through Nancy. It was Mildred who first breathed the spunk and feistiness of Nancy onto those pages… a young woman who never hid in the corner waiting for a man to rush in and save her! Often it was she, at the young age of 16, later 18… who rushed in to rescue the man! All the attraction of adventure often put Nancy in danger, but also gave Nancy the chance to use her quick thinking skills in getting herself out… that was Mildred! Maybe she was living through Nancy… putting words on paper for this young woman… maybe words of the life she wanted to live!
I read that Mildred said “The Hidden Staircase” had always been her favorite book!
The ghostwriters received a single flat fee of $125.00 for turning out those 60,000-word stories… often using only a title and outline to guide them along, while being sworn to secrecy! Imagine how Mildred felt about that, especially after seeing how the popularity Nancy Drew received. To have to sit there, knowing it was all your words between those covers, but not “your” name on the front cover… must have been hard!
Mildred wrote 23 stories over a 24-year working association with the Stratemeyer Syndicate. She temporarily interrupted that partnership during the depression when she refused to accept a salary cut from $125 to $75 a book. There was the Nancy coming out in her… she was spunky enough to stand up for her beliefs, and she believed her work was still worthy of the $125… no matter whether it was the depression or not! Good For Her!
Ghostwriter, Walter Karig, stepped in to continue on with the Nancy stories after the falling out between Mildred and the Syndicate. He was already writing other children books for the Syndicate, so it wasn’t difficult for him to step in and write a Nancy Drew story. Karig wrote only three books… Nancy’s Mysterious Letter (32), Sign of The Twisted Candles (33) and Password to Larkspur Lane (34). I have read No. 32 and No. 34 and really liked them both, so my hat off to Karig for a job well done!
I found it interesting to learn that Walter Karig, one of the ghostwriters of Nancy Drew was actually a captain in the U.S. Navy. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery (Section 30 Site 2170).
Harriet wasn’t happy with Karig’s writings… his books never sold as well as Mildred’s and his manuscripts always required more extensive re-writing on their part as editors; he also constantly leaked that he wrote for the Syndicate.
Mildred was finally pulled back to write The clue of the Broken Locket (1934). Harriet had wanted Mildred to specifically write this new volume as it was going to be featured in the summer Sears catalog… those push catalogs always helped to sell books. Mildred returned and remained writing until 1948, then later returned again in 1953 to work with Harriet S. Adams on the revisions. I wonder how Mildred felt about that… revisioning her work… but maybe she felt that if anyone should cut her words… it should be her! I know I would! I’m sure she and Harriet had a somewhat good working relationship or Mildred wouldn’t have remained as long as she did. Even though they never actually spent much time in each other’s company, they constantly communicated with each other.
The third ghostwriter who took over the writings was the daughter of Edward Stratemeyer, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams; she and her sister Edna took over the daily running of the Stratemeyer Syndicate after their father’s death in 1930. Harriet was instrumental in keeping Nancy Drew alive through the years for all of us to enjoy!
Harriet ran the Syndicate behind the scenes for many years… she is who kept the company from sinking during the depression. Her passion for the publishing business kept two of our favorite sleuther’s, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys from being shelved like so many other book series. Even though Harriet didn’t write the first twenty-three books, her hand and pen were still involved as the editor. Harriet eventually took over all the writing of the future stories, all the editing and helping with the revisions of the first 34 books. She took Nancy in a different direction of being quite… not so adventurous and spunky; when you read the originals vs the revised books… you will read the difference! (Photo from Wikipedia)
During the late 50’s, and into the 60’s, Harriet kept our favorite heroine still very popular with the next generation. She took Nancy into my generation of the famous “yellow spines” and gave us new reads by revising the plots and bringing the characters into a more updated lifestyle to appeal to us… the new readers. Her mind was always churning with ideas to continue to grow the company; she was truly a businesswoman!
While the original Nancy Drew book was her father’s brainchild in creating our loved 16-year-old golden-haired sleuth, it’s really Harriet who saved Nancy Drew and grew her through the years. Many acknowledge Mildred W. Benson as the real “Carolyn Keene”, but anyone who has researched Nancy Drew through the years knows that Harriet drove the ship of the company, and is why the Nancy Drew stories continued to appear on the shelves year after year! Harriet, as editor, had the job of always proofreading and touching up the stories before sending them to print. I’m sure she somewhat felt that they all were her babies as she ate and slept those characters.
Harriet as a child was not the young proper lady that every mother instilled into their daughters during those times. Instead, Harriet was that young Nancy Drew… climbing trees and playing tag with the boys, but always loving her books. Nancy Drew often reminds me of my mother! Harriet eventually married and became a mother to four children… quite remarkable in those times to raise a family while also running a business; a woman in a working world, in the 1930’s, was not well known or heard of very often. Possibly Harriet wrote her Nancy Drew mysteries inputting a life she would have liked to live… just as maybe Mildren wrote?
Through the years, Harriet was involved in the running of the Syndicate, as well as herself writing over 200 books, consisting of both Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys… writing for more than fifty years and read by several generations, often with books passed from mother to daughter. It was mostly Harriet’s revised books which I read in the middle 60’s… and loved so much!
Books published under the various house pseudonyms of Stratemeyer Syndicate
- Carolyn Keene… Nancy Drew Stories
- Franklin W. Dixon… The Hardy Boys
- Sir Victor W. Appleton… Tom Swift Jr.
- Laura Lee Hope… The Bobbsey Twins
On the day of Harriet’s death, she was working on a new ghost-story series… while watching The Wizard of Oz on television for the first time. I’ll have to do more research to see if those ghost stories were ever published.
I hope I’ve solved the mystery of who Carolyn Keene was for you… I know I learned more than I ever knew as a young girl growing up in the 1960’s.
Games (Board Games):
In 1957, at the height of board game popularity, Parker Brothers brought to market the first Nancy Drew Mystery Game. Being as I was only five at the time, I didn’t play board games yet… unless maybe Candyland. I actually have no memory of playing any board games as a child… I was too busy playing Barbie, school, or reading Nancy Drew! By the time I began reading Nancy Drew, maybe games had lost their popularity or just not well advertised where I lived.
Being an only child, there were no game partners in my house, and I have no memory of even playing board games with friends. The only games I remember playing are Chinese Checkers and Tiddly Winks. I played more board games as an adult when I first married… playing Clue (see there’s the Nancy Drew coming out in me… LOL) and Careers with my husband’s aunt… who was more like his sister in growing up. I might just have to dig out those games and give them another go-round until I find my very own Nancy Drew Mystery Game. (I was lucky to snag a 1959 Nancy Drew board game recently… now to find someone to play with! I also snagged one lonely board game, which I plan to ask hubby to make me a frame. I can’t wait to hang it over my books)
Photo courtesy of: NancyDrewSleuths
1957: The front of the 1957 box shows Nancy wearing a red raincoat and matching hat, and as usual… carrying her trusty flashlight in trasping around the scary looking mansion! She sure needed that raincoat and hat, as the box depicts a storm with pelting rain and lightning. Just looking at the gameboard has me wanting to play… I’m ready to race around the board… playing detective. I’ll take the red roadster… my favorite color and head over to grab one of those mystery cards… ready to play? Even though the blue roadster is so associated with her… I’m partial to the color red for everything!!!
If you’re curious as to what comes with the game…
One Game Board, 4 metal cars (I’ve seen different colors from the standard of blue, red, green and yellow), 40 mystery cards, 2 dice, 4 different colored playing pieces, (1957 game were wooden round discs – 1959 were wooden and also plastic), instructions were printed on the inside of the top cover, (but who reads the rules). I found a pdf of the original Nancy Drew game instructions on Hasbro’s website. Imagine, after all these years, you can still print a copy of the 1957 instructions and you can’t even find instructions for something you bought a few years ago.
Nancy is introduced as such from the instructions… “Nancy Drew is the ingenious daughter of a famous lawyer, and she herself is deeply interested in his mystery cases. Her interest often involves her in dangerous and exciting situations. In this game, she is working on one of her many cases. The players in the game try to locate her and find out which case she is trying to solve.”
Ready to Play?
The object of the game is to locate Nancy and discover which case she’s working on. How do you do that… by filling in the word “NANCY” with the colored markers on any one of the eight sites on the board. Just stay clear of the spider web… or you might be there for awhile until you find your way out!
I laughed at this written on the bottom of the directions… do you think they’d still answer my question? I’ll gladly enclose a 3-cent stamp!
The game board design is unique as they used the book names for places… and I can’t understand why every girl in 1957 didn’t beg, borrow or steal to get one when it premiered that year! It should have been on every girls’ Christmas List to Santa that year! I can’t wait to have my very own game… rolling the dice to move my roadster around the squares. I hope I stop by the Mystery in the Old Attic so I can peek inside… as I’m sure there’s a Nancy Drew book hiding somewhere. If I’m lucky enough to park by the stone wall at The Red Gate Farm, I’ll look for cows grazing nearby or maybe I”ll pick a pumpkin to bring home. The Haunted Bridge will have me driving very fast over though, as I see a witch standing there watching with her broom… maybe waiting to put a spell on me! There was a witch puppet mentioned in The Clue of the Dancing Puppet; did they forget to add that location! (Yay! I finally snagged my very own game!)
In this game, everyone is a sleuth… trying to discover the whereabouts of Nancy by filling in the word “Nancy” using five markers of the same color. Just like all other games, you pick a color car, matching colored markers, roll the dice, and move your car along the game board. Along the way, you’ll cross over The Haunted Bridge, visit The Ghost of Blackwood Hall, and pass by The Mystery of the Tolling Bell… check out The Secret of Red Gate Farm, The Mystery of the Hollow Oak, The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, The Sign of the Twisted Candles and The Secret in the Old Attic. Where you don’t want to visit is the Spider Web! Even Nancy Drew’s home is featured on the game board and Moon Lake… remember Nancy visited it in The Secret of the Old Clock!
For the life of me, I can’t understand why they didn’t use the books, The Secret of the Old Clock, and The Hidden Staircase… but I suppose whoever designed it, well maybe they weren’t their favorites! Hmm, I wonder if Mildred W. Benson and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams were consulted for ideas or a final say on the board… and if not… were they happy with the end result?
As I’ve finally found my very own Nancy Drew game board now, maybe I’ll be able to entice one of the granddaughters to play with me, but when they ask, “can I take this home.” Well, the answer will not be my usual “Yes”… they’ll have to wait a few more years.
Merry Christmas to me last year… I scored my own game! Anyone ready to play… I call the blue roadster, although red is my favorite!
1959: Parker revised the Nancy Drew Mystery Game two years later… making a slight change on the box cover… Nancy is now wearing a green raincoat with no hat, and showing her blonde trademark curls… which they seemed to have forgotten on the first game. I guess it wasn’t as much of a storm happening for this cover as Nancy didn’t need a hat, but she’s still carrying her trusted flashlight. This 1959 game version was made available in Canada as well as the United States; the only difference in the Canadian version was a black and white swirl symbol on the lower right corner.
The game board inside seems unchanged… it’s only the box cover they updated with a completely new look before reintroducing. The only changes I discovered inside the game box was… some now had plastic markers, but there were also some with wooden markers… here we go into the world of plastic, but at least the roadsters remained metal. The colors somewhat varied on the roadsters between the U.S. vs the Canadian game box. I also discovered that in both versions, sometimes the board edge varied between being either blue or red… so now that means I have a choice… Oh No…. never give me a choice as I’ll want both… but as red is my favorite, I know I’ll want a red edge game board, just because! Both boards I have are blue.
I’ve also read of a 1970’s version of the Nancy Drew game produced in Norway, and it was produced with the red raincoat and a completely different scene… and no hat! I like that they give you a glimpse of the game board on the cover. I’d love to see this one in person and check out the game board in a foreign language! As Nancy Drew was very popular in many foreign countries, I wonder why there weren’t more varieties released in the other countries where the books seemed to be popular.
I found one on eBay… actually sold from Norway with a shipping charge of $50.00… I planned on bidding, but forgot it… it sold for $40.00… darn! I just know I would have thrown a bid in… just because!
Norway board photo courtesy of: nancydrewsleuth blog
Gifts Nancy Received: Warning… spoiler alerts!
The Clue of the Black Keys: Nancy’s father gave her a camera for her birthday… guess he was tired of giving the same gift of a car! Nancy said she kept it in her glove compartment, but I don’t remember ever reading again that she used it. Nothing like having a digital camera today – instant pictures! It would have been interesting to read about Nancy dropping off her film for developing and having to wait almost a week before seeing the photos. Today no one wants to wait… me included! In years long ago, I waited often longer than a week to pick up my photos… hoping they weren’t all crappy!
The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (bk32-pg.214): Henri Fontaine painted Nancy’s portrait as a gift and titled it “America’s Loveliest Sleuth.” Nancy’s father was originally going to commission it as an early birthday gift, but Henri gifted it to her after she solved their mystery.
Clue of The Broken Locket (Bk11-pg.177): Susan and Cecily gifted Nancy their repaired lockets (they each had half) as a memento for helping to solve the mystery of the iron bird (the family legacy) and discovering Susan’s twins… along with the boot-leg record mystery that just happened to coincide. (I really enjoyed this story and how the two cousins were reunited… and while it was a little far-fetched, it was a heartwarming story to have the twins reunited with their mother and have the girls discover their family heritage of knowing the castle had been in their family.)
The Password to Larkspur Lane (bk10-pg. 174): Mrs. Eldridge gave Nancy the bracelet that she had slipped to the Dr. when he examined her. It was a bracelet that had a thin gold chain with a small gold shield, with a garnet dangling on the front; the back was inscribed “to my darling Mary from Joe”. On the other side of the gold shield was a coat of arms… Nancy discovered it was a coat of arms for the Eldridge family, which helped Nancy to discover who was being held, hostage. (In as I do family research, I found it interesting how Nancy was able to search out the exact family for whom the coat of arms belonged to… and I enjoyed the bit of family history the book offered.) Mr. Corning ordered French crystal earrings in the form of larkspurs for Nancy, Bess, and George. (It was the first time I’ve found the other girls receiving gifts)
The Mystery at Lilac Inn (bk4-pg.180): Nancy was presented with the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal for outstanding work at an Army ceremony. On the night before her wedding, Emily gave Nancy a pin set with diamonds and set in the form of a lilac spray. “I had this made especially so you’ll never forget The Mystery at Lilac Inn,” Emily said.
The Ghosts of Blackwood Hall: A cameo ring was given to Nancy as a reward on this mystery. If I had endured quicksand and all she did, I think I’d have left long before I even found the ring… but we all know our Nancy is never deterred! Good thing Ned was with her in the quicksand… I”ll give no spoiler on this, but they were lucky!
The Hidden Window Mystery: The reward money Nancy received from finding the stained glass window, she gave to the River Heights Hospital for a new children’s wing; the window was a family heirloom from the 1300’s. Nancy is always thinking of others.
The Secret of The Old Clock (bk1-pg.179): Grace and Alison Hoover gave Nancy the Crowley clock that Nancy risked her life to rescue, by crawling inside the truck. Nancy thought, “this is the first mystery I’ve solved alone… I wonder if I’ll ever have another one half as thrilling.” Nancy’s father gave her a new maroon convertible (bk 1-pg. 1) for her birthday. (This was the first of many roadsters and cars Nancy received from her father…. what a lucky girl!)
The Mystery of the Tolling Bell: Nancy was gifted a “Paul Revere” bell for a job well done in her sleuthing. Sounds like a very valuable gift… but it must have been just a copy! If it’s real… someone will surely plan to steal it from her somewhere down the line!
The Mystery of the Ivory Charm: Nancy was gifted a carved ivory elephant early in the book…. before even solving a mystery. It was the elephant trainer, Rai, who gave it to her, telling her she would be rewarded with good luck; later he wanted it back! The charm turned out to be from a very prominent Indian family.
She searched out information on the elephant charm and was told they often carried either “poison” or a “cure” deep within the inside cavity. She trusted it held the cure when she twisted off one of the ivory tusks… finding that it actually held the light amber fluid she needed at the moment to save a life… but I’ll keep who’s life a secret!
After the mystery was solved, Nancy tried to return the elephant charm to the family, but they insisted that she keep it and even gave her a monetary reward that had been posted for the return of the boy King. (I haven’t read of any other money kept at this time)
The Ringmaster’s Secret: Nancy joins the circus to investigate the mystery surrounding her gold charm bracelet and a young orphaned aerialist. She had received the gold charm bracelet from her Aunt Eloise (bought from a shop) after learning that Nancy was taking trick riding lessons. There was one horse charm missing on the bracelet… naturally! Aunt Eloise also sent a letter about the missing charm, which immediately intrigued Nancy to solve the mystery of why the circus performer was forced to sell her bracelet. Even though no gift was rewarded to Nancy, she considered the bracelet from her aunt, a sufficient gift.
The Bungalow Mystery: After receiving an aquamarine ring from Laura, Nancy said: “the ring is priceless and I’ll always treasure it as a reminder of you.”
The Strange Message in the Parchment: Nancy was to receive a sheepskin coat from a former schoolmate Junie Flockhart, as Junie wanted Nancy to come and solve a mystery at her parents Triple Creek Farm; they moved away from River Heights to run a large sheep farm. While Junie was on the phone with Nancy, the coat was stolen… did Nancy have to solve that mystery also?
I received a gift of two books recently from a cousin; they had belonged to her and her sister in growing up… and I was thrilled upon opening the package! I’m not often surprised, but this thoughtful gift truly caught me by surprise! Thank You, Cynthia and Beverly!
Graveyards (Cemetery) / Genealogy:
Genealogy brings you to many places in your searching, and graveyards are certainly one of the biggest as you hunt for those elusive ancestors. In as much as I enjoy trasping through cemeteries looking at older graveyards… I began to wonder if Nancy was lured to any on her detective hunts… and I found!
No. 37: The Clue in the Old Stagecoach: George did not reply, but Nancy said, “What seems important to me is to have courthouse, church, and cemetery records searched to find out if Abner Langstreet did marry and have any children. When we get back to the lodge, I think I’ll call Dad and ask him to do this for me.” (chapter 16)
No. 36: The Secret of the Golden Pavilion: “Among the things is a photograph of the grave of old Mr. Sakamaki’s first wife, their grandmother. Then they had other papers to prove that she had just one child, a daughter. The photograph of this woman proved that she looked very much like her mother.
“Then there were other old photographs of Mr. Sakamaki’s first wife with her grandchildren. They certainly resemble Janet and Roy. Also, they produced newspaper clippings of the death notice and funeral of their mother.” Nancy was impressed. “It all sounds authentic,” she said. (chapter 16)
No. 42: The Phantom of Pine Hill: Nancy and George hurried over to Bess. She was standing in a pit, trembling like a leaf. They were about to ask her what the trouble was when they looked near her feet. She had unearthed a human skull! “Hypers!” George exclaimed. “You’ve dug up a grave!” “A very old one, I’d say,” Nancy put in.
Bess scrambled up out of the pit, but still cringed at the sight of the blankly staring skull. Nancy and George, however, were fascinated. “I wonder if it’s an Indian’s skull or someone who died more recently,” Nancy mused. “Let’s dig some more and see if there’s a body.” (chapter 8)
No. 47: The Mysterious Mannequin: “Alex,” the young man said, thumping himself on the chest, “Alex would say Farouk buried her in the cemetery.” “The cemetery!” Nancy exclaimed.
No. 44: The Clue in the Crossword Cipher: “We have something interesting to show you,” said Nancy as she led the way to the dining room and laid the plaque on the table. Carla explained its origin to the housekeeper, while Nancy ran upstairs to change her clothes and get the magnifying glass which had served her so well in solving other mysteries. As soon as she returned, the young sleuth gazed through the glass at the monkey side of the plaque.
“I see something down here in the corner,” she announced. “It’s a word—perhaps a name. It spells A-G-U-I-L-A-R.” “Oh!” Carla cried out. “That was the name of an ancestor of ours. He was a great artist. I never knew his name was on here.” “My precious heirloom!” Carla cried out. “It will be lost!”(chapter 1)
“Come, everybody! I have found a mummy!” “A mummy!” her mother exclaimed. Everyone hurried to Carla’s side. She had uncovered only the head, which was rather well preserved. Quickly the men helped to unearth the rest of the clothed body from its shallow grave. Because of the dry, even climate it had not disintegrated.
Meanwhile, Dr. Benevides studied the face. “This is not the mummy of an ancient Indian,” he said. “He belongs to the white race.” The clothing of the man in the shallow grave proved to be that of a Spanish explorer. “Whoever buried him did a careful job,” the archaeologist remarked.
During the past few seconds, Nancy had been thinking hard. Finally, she said, “Do you suppose this could possibly be the mummy of your ancestor Aguilar, Señor Ponce?” (chapter 19)
No. 55: Mystery of Crocodile Island: “The black man was buried,” the ranger went on, “but I’ve never seen his grave. It was unmarked so the Indians couldn’t find it.”
No. 24: The Clue in the Old Album: Thrilled by the discovery, Nancy turned back to the first page. A name, probably that of the original owner, had been written there, but the ink had faded and she could not decipher it.
“This album must have an interesting history,” Nancy remarked to the shopkeeper. “Where did you get it?” “Oh, it came in a barrel of stuff from another antique shop. The place was going into bankruptcy, so I took part of the stock.”
Nancy bought the album and left the shop with mingled feelings of elation and defeat. Because of the strange quotation, she was convinced that the unknown Henrietta Bostwick must have some connection with the Pepito family. How could she trace her?
Nancy passed the public library and on impulse went in. For two hours she pored over records on genealogy but could find no Bostwick family listing Henrietta as a member. After she had perused all the volumes on this subject, she returned to her aunt’s apartment. (I could have helped Nancy on Bostwick… there is a town named Bostwick in Georgia and I have walked the cemetery there and saw all the old family gravestones)
No. 25: The Ghost of Blackwood Hall: Finally, Nancy found exactly the book she wanted. Fascinated, she read that a famous old walnut grove along the river once had been known as Humphrey’s Woods. Even more exciting was the information that a duel, fatal to one member of the family, had been fought beneath a certain walnut tree. The tree, known since then as Humphrey’s Walnut, was marked with a plaque.
The article went on to say that Blackwood Hall, the family home, was still standing. Built of walnut from the woods surrounding it, the mansion had, in its day, been one of the showplaces along the river. Now the grounds were weed-grown, the old home vacant, and the family gone. (chapter 8)
No. 42: The Phantom of Pine Hill: “That’s Settlers’ Cove,” Mrs. Holman explained. “In the 1700’s Mr. Rorick’s ancestors came down the river on a flatboat and landed here. They put their log cabin up on Pine Hill because of the lovely view. Later they built this house.” (chapter 1)
“Before I go, would you be interested in hearing a little of the Rorick family history?” he asked. “Yes, indeed. It’s just possible there might be some connection between that and your phantom,” Nancy suggested. “Hmm,” said Uncle John. “I never thought of that. You may be right. Perhaps it has something to do with the lost gifts.”
The girls listened intently as he went on, “When my ancestor, George Rorick, came to this country he brought a French bride with him—a young noblewoman. She kept in close touch with her family, and when her daughter Abigail was to be married, the relatives in France sent a chest of wedding gifts. But the steamship it came on had an explosion aboard and sank in the river not far from Settlers’ Cove. A short time before, a letter and a key came to Abigail from her uncle in France. I still have the key hidden away. The letter is hanging on the wall. I’ll get it.”
He excused himself and went to the library, but returned in a minute with a framed letter. It was dated 1835, and was written in French in an old-fashioned, precise script. The girls tried to translate it but finally gave up. Many of the words were no longer in use.
Uncle John turned the frame over. Pasted on the back was an English translation. The very gracious letter said the writer’s family sent felicitations and wished the bride-to-be and her husband great happiness. A chest containing presents—a wedding dress, veil, fan, slippers, and a very special gift—was being shipped on a freighter but should reach Miss Abigail Rorick in plenty of time. “How exciting!” said Bess.
Nancy was still reading. Abigail’s uncle was at the time a member of the court of Louis Phillipe. The queen herself had selected the material for the gown and veil in Paris. The beautiful fan was a gift from her.
The elderly woman eyed it in amazement. “You are real sleuths,” she complimented her visitors. Mrs. Palmer settled down in an armchair to study the list. Finally, she went to a bookcase and pulled out a thin volume which she said was the genealogy of the old families of Emerson. She went through each page carefully, comparing the names on it with those which Nancy had brought. Presently she said, “I believe I have found something!” “Yes?” Nancy asked, leaning forward eagerly.
The elderly woman said that two names in the book were identical with two on the list, although they were several generations apart. “It’s just possible that the younger ones are descendants of these survivors.” “Do they live in Emerson now?” Nancy asked. “Well, yes and no. There are two young men at the university whose families used to reside here but moved away. Their names are Tom Akin and Ben Farmer.” (chapter 8)
No. 41: The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes: “In the case of the Douglas property, the transfer cannot be made until a number of relatives have signed releases,” Mr. Drew went on. “Lady Douglas has asked me to get these signatures and also donations for an endowment from interested members of the Douglas family in the United States. In order to do this, I must go to Scotland and find out more about the case.”
Mr. Drew smiled. “I don’t know what the heirloom is—your great-grandmother didn’t say. She only mentioned that it was missing.” Although eager to hear more of the missing heirloom, Nancy refrained from bringing up the subject. Finally Lady Douglas herself did so.
“The heirloom which Nancy was to have received was my most prized possession. It was a brooch with a large topaz in the center surrounded by diamonds.” Nancy gasped. “What a wonderful gift! It must be gorgeous!” Her great-grandmother nodded. “The brooch was given to an ancestor of mine by Bonnie Prince Charlie.”
“Oh!” Bess exclaimed. “The handsome, romantic young man who got away in a maid’s disguise?” Lady Douglas smiled. “He is the one.” Then her face took on a serious expression. “Nancy, I have spent many sleepless nights since losing the pin. I last remember taking it from the safe to see if it were in proper condition to give you. The brooch appeared to be alright, and I pinned it to my dress to see how it looked.
“At that moment the room seemed a little stuffy, so I decided to go outdoors and take a walk in the garden. When I returned, it was my bedtime. I took off the dress and hung it in my wardrobe. It was not until the next morning that I thought of the brooch and decided to put it back in the safe. The pin was gone!”
To Nancy’s surprise, the tartan outfits belonged to several clans, and she asked her great-grandmother about this. The elderly woman smiled. “Various relatives in our family came from different clans and brought these costumes with them.”
“Nancy, I’m glad that you chose the Cameron tartan of my mother,” said Lady Douglas. “It is very becoming.” Nancy did look attractive in the flashy tartan of large bright-red squares edged with stripes of dark green.
No. 23: The Mystery of the Tolling Bell: “Tell us about American bells,” Nancy urged, wishing to draw Mr. Hendrick into revealing more about the mystery. “The first bell foundry in this country was established by the Hanks family, ancestors of Abraham Lincoln on his mother’s side,” Mr. Hendrick related. “Then there was Paul Revere. After the Revolution, he built a furnace in Boston and cast small bells. He also made large ones for churches. During his lifetime he cast nigh up to two hundred bells.”
“What became of them?” Nancy asked. “Ah! There lies the story. Fifty were destroyed by fire, one hangs in King’s Chapel, Boston, but most of them are scattered over the country, and the folks that own ’em probably don’t realize what a treasure they possess.”
No. 34: The Hidden Window Mystery: Sheila insisted that the weary workers relax for a while and have something to eat. With the help of Annette and Bess, she prepared a delicious meal, and the group sat on the porch to enjoy it. Presently Sir Richard, looking pensive, began to tell the history of the old window.
“In 1849 my great-grandfather, Lord Henry Greystone, passed away, leaving two sons. The elder inherited not only the family home, Grey Manor, but the bulk of his father’s fortune as well. The younger son, Bruce, became angry because he had not received more and left home.”
Sir Richard went on to say that Bruce had come to the United States without saying good-bye to anyone. At the same time the famous stained-glass window, representing an ancestor in the crusades, had also disappeared from the great entrance hall of the family home. (chapter 20)
“The window had been there since the thirteen hundreds,” the Englishman explained. “No one was ever able to trace the window after it vanished. Since my boyhood I have been fascinated by the old story and determined to find the window if it was still in existence. I had nothing to go on but a hunch that Bruce Greystone had brought the window to this country.”
No. 36: The Secret of the Golden Pavilion: Nancy relayed the information to Ned. “Soon we’ll know all the answers regarding the mystery of Kaluakua,” she added. “I was afraid I had lost this,” Ned explained. “I found it with the feather cape. I couldn’t read very well in the moonlight, but I think it’s important and must have something to do with the secret.”
He opened it and together he and Nancy read the contents. It had been written by Grandfather Sakamaki and explained that the garment was a duplicate of a king’s feather cape which had been given to one of his wife’s ancestors as a special mark of favor. Since a king’s cape was always buried with him, this duplicate was very valuable and had been hidden by the family, so that neither thieves nor conquerors from foreign lands would take it.
“My wife made me promise,” Nikio Sakamaki had written, “that I would never part with the cape. It became increasingly difficult to find a hiding place for it. Finally I thought of the idea of putting it under the center of the golden plumeria which would form the roof of a pavilion I was building.”
The letter went on to say that he had decided to make it difficult for his grandson to find the precious article, so he would always remember his Polynesian background, and the legends and symbols of ancient Hawaii. First, he had given the symbols of water and death to indicate that the Golden Pavilion near the water was the place to find the treasure. The symbol of death had indicated that the cape belonged to someone who had died. (chapter 20)
No. 49: The Secret of Mirror Bay: “ONE of my ancestors,” Miss Armitage began, “was an aristocrat in old Czarist Russia. She was very wealthy and owned beautiful things. Much to her family’s dismay, she fell in love with an American and came to this country to marry him. They settled in Cooperstown in a large house with attractive grounds. Later the place burned down.”
“Yes, it was,” Miss Armitage agreed. “But long before the fire, the woman had one child—a beautiful little girl. She brought her daughter up as if she were a princess and even imported a child’s royal coach from Russia. Her own little pony pulled it.” Nancy smiled. “This sounds like some of the fairy tales I used to read.”
Miss Armitage’s eyes twinkled. “I’ll get to that. In fact, I dislike telling the next part of the story because it is sad. The lovely little girl died very suddenly. “Her mother was heartbroken and almost went out of her mind. Madame insisted that she and her husband move and that every object which brought back memories of the child were to be sold or given away.
“The particular object which reminded the mother of her beloved daughter was the royal coach. It was painted in gold and white and had birds and flowers carved on it. Madame felt that no one else should use it, yet she didn’t want it to be destroyed. Finally she requested that it be put into a waterproof box and lowered into the bay. The whole thing was to be kept very quiet.” Everyone agreed it was a sad story indeed. (chapter 6)
No. 50: The Double Jinx Mystery: “Kammy,” said Nancy, “you once promised to tell me a story about yourself and your life. Could you do so now? It may explain some of the points in the mystery which haven’t been cleared up.”
“The wryneck in our country,” Kammy began, “is almost a sacred bird. In ancient times it was used to try bewitching people who were interfering with royalty. My ancestors belonged to the royal family, and even though the country is no longer a kingdom, we descendants have always kept a wryneck with us.” (chapter 20)
No. 52: The Secret of the Forgotten City: “Here is your bag, and I am Nancy Drew.”A woman’s large handbag swung from the thief’s hand. “Is something missing?” Nancy asked. “Records. My ancestors’ records.” (chapter 1)
Nancy smiled. “Let’s just say that if we can be of use to our country by uncovering the secrets of the past, that will be a great big reward for us.”
“Oh bless you!” the Indian woman said. “I’m sure my ancestors did not want the history of the people here forgotten entirely. It was pure luck that our paths crossed, but I am very happy about it.” (chapter 18)
Ned, who disliked tears, said, “Let’s try to arrange these stones in order, Mrs. Wabash. With the help of your dictionary, we’ll see if we can piece out the full story about your ancestors and the Forgotten City.”
Everyone helped. With the aid of Nancy’s magnifying glass, they were able to accomplish this by putting the tablets containing the phases of the moon in the correct order. Mrs. Wabash looked at the figures and kept consulting her paper, figuring out the probable translation of the petroglyphs.
After a while she heaved a sigh. “A complete analysis of this is going to take some time,” she said. “As I see it now, one man centuries ago pictured the world of his day. It included life along the Muddy River and the finding of gold. He had gathered many nuggets and fashioned a series of gold plates. An enemy tribe came, so he hid them.
“Unfortunately I can’t see that he told where they were,” Mrs. Wabash remarked. “It also says here that he had made other matching tablets on which future generations were to write their history.” One thing that puzzles me,” said Nancy, “is why you call these different tribes your ancestors, Mrs. Wabash.”
The Indian woman said she figured that whenever a conquering tribe took over, there was intermarriage and part of her family had remained near the site of the Forgotten City. (chapter 19)
No. 56: The Thirteenth Pearl: When they returned to the house to report their clue, they noticed a man walking up the driveway toward them. They waited for him. He was Japanese but spoke perfect English. He introduced himself as Mr. Natsuke and explained that his name meant ornamental button. “My ancestors made them and thus received the family name.” (chapter 11)
No. 9: The Sign of the Twisted Candles: The lawyer nodded. “I made a trip to the Fernwood Orphanage and looked at all the old records. There was not a clue as to who Carol’s parents might have been. But I did pick up some other interesting facts.”
Mr. Drew said that Asa Sidney had been a trustee of the orphanage for many years. He had taken a great fancy to a certain little girl who had been given the name Sadie Wipple and he insisted it be changed to Carol. The name of the child he had lost was Carol.
“Then when the Jemitts, who owned a small restaurant, offered to become foster parents, Mr. Sidney would not give his consent unless the Jemitts agreed to come to his home and work. Frank and Emma did not want to be servants, so the arrangement about the tearoom and the promise of a share in Asa’s will was worked out.”
Nancy was intrigued by this information. “Dad, do you think that if Mr. Sidney had lived he would have told you everything?” “I believe so. Now, unfortunately, we’ll have to unearth the secret ourselves. And if we don’t, I’m afraid those grasping relatives will take the case to court.”
“Well, my congratulations,” her father said. “I wish your influence could extend to their parents and great-uncles. By the way, my main reason for going to the Fernwood Orphanage was to tell the directors of the request in Asa Sidney’s will that the Jemitts be investigated and probably new foster parents be obtained for Carol.” (chapter 14)
No. 10: The Password to Larkspur Lane: “I was going to call you,” the jeweler said, taking her into his office. “I heard from Abelard de Gotha today.” Mr. Stone handed Nancy a typewritten letter. “Read this.”
“Dear Mr. Stone:
The armorial bearings described in your letter are those of the Eldridge family, the crest dating back to Henry IV of England, and the quartering on the shield marking the union of the Eldridge house with the Gerrets in 1604.
At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the New York branch of the family, consisting of Isaiah Eldridge, his wife Prudence and two children, received a large grant of land in what is now Missouri. I presume their descendants still live in or near St. Louis, although I have no records to prove that. Sincerely yours, Abelard de Gotha” (chapter 8)
No. 11: The Clue of the Broken Locket: “Also, Amelia was wearing on a chain around her neck half of a gold locket with a thin paper rolled under the picture rim. The paper had a message—‘Will, I hid your half of fortune. Directions in the iron bird. Your brother Simon.” “Of course lots of records in those days had been lost or destroyed. Later, Amelia married Robert Curtis. Their grandson was my father.”
Cecily looked wistful. “I can just barely remember Daddy telling Mother the story which Amelia had learned from the orphanage official. He had tried to find the fortune, too, but no luck!” Cecily explained that her own parents had died when she was seven. From then on, she had been under the guardianship of an elderly cousin of her mother’s.
“At least,” she said, “I still had my great-grand-mother’s half of the locket and made up my mind to find the fortune myself, if possible.” “Yes. I studied loads of maps, trying to dig up some clue. Finally I came upon a really old map, and found the name Pudding Stone Lake. I went on hunting, and learned that Misty Lake here is the very same place. The name was changed.” (chapter 5)
No. 23: The Mystery of the Tolling Bell: Nancy drove with George to the footpath which led to the cliff, and parked. The girls walked the rest of the way to the abandoned house, gazing about in all directions to find out if they had been seen. “This place does have a spooky look,” George said uneasily as they went up to the door.
Nancy pushed it open. Everything appeared exactly as she had seen it before. The moldy, cobwebby food was on the dining-room table, and a dust-covered chair stood at each end. A worn Bible on a marble-topped table caught Nancy’s attention. She blew off the dust, then slowly turned the pages until she came to the family birth and death records.
“This is what I had hoped to find!” she exclaimed, and pointed to a notation in ink. “Amy’s marriage is recorded here. Oh!” Amy married a man named Ferdinand Slocum! Why, Slocum is the name of the hotel clerk at Fisher’s Cove.” “But Slocum is a rather common name. He may not be the same person.”
The other records were of no interest to Nancy, but she did find among the pages of the Bible a letter which had been written by Amy to her parents. Obviously it was sent two years ago, soon after her runaway marriage. In the letter she disrespectfully referred to her mother and father as being far behind the times.
“Maybe I don’t love Ferdie,” she had written flippantly, “but he’s a prominent hotelman and we’ll have a lot of fun together. Ferdie is a man of the world. He’s a big businessman, not like those boys at Candleton who only think about following the sea. I’ll write again after Ferdie and I are settled in our own hotel.” “I’ll bet they never were in any better one than the Fisher’s Cove Hotel,” George declared. “This note explains a number of things about the Maguires that baffled me,” Nancy said elatedly. “George, the pieces of our mystery puzzle are falling into place!” (chapter 18)
No. 26: The Clue of the Leaning Chimney: I’ve been wanting to find out who owns that fenced-in property in the woods,” Nancy replied. “Let’s go in to ask the Registrar of Deeds.” The clerk handed them a map and ledger. The records showed that a tract of land comprising some two hundred and fifty acres, including the abandoned Civil War mine, had been purchased by Miles Monroe of Philadelphia five years ago. (chapter 10)
Nancy showed her father a copy of the confession. It said the discoverer of the kaolin had been the brothers’ great-grandfather. His son had worked the pit for a while but had moved away. Then his son, the father of David and Ching, had gone to China as a merchant, and the property had been sold for taxes but never used.
Records, testifying to the existence and location of the pit, had lain untouched in Shanghai for many years. Then, five years ago, David Carr and his brother had found the records and had immediately come to the United States to look over the pit. Using the name of the geologist Miles Monroe, to avoid suspicion, Carr had purchased the tract of land, despite the fact that it did not have a clear title.
The Carrs had later learned that a man named Petersen had left papers which might upset their claim to the pit. David had been given a lead to the former owner of Mrs. Wendell’s house in Masonville, and this was the telephone conversation Dick Milton had overheard six months ago. (chapter 20)
No. 28: The Clue of the Black Keys: While driving to Mrs. Prescott’s, Nancy explained that the woman’s business was tracing family trees. “She has studied the history of every family in this area, and is president of the local historical society. She has stacks of records.”
Mrs. Prescott was at home and welcomed her two guests at once into the library. She seemed delighted to have Nancy ask a question on her favorite subject. “Mrs. Wangell? Let me see,” she mused, squeezing her pince-nez onto her nose. “She was Lillian Webster before she married.”
At last Mrs. Prescott turned away from her books and records, and took off her glasses. “I have checked both of Mrs. Wangell’s grand-fathers,” she said, “and neither of them was a sea captain.” “It’s all in the record,” Mrs. Prescott insisted. “Neither of them followed the sea at any time.”
“I guess I have the story confused,” Nancy murmured. “You see, Mrs. Wangell isn’t to be trusted,” Nancy said. “I think you should insist upon taking that diary to the hotel and translating it before she becomes suspicious and changes her mind.”
Nancy thought a moment. Suddenly she remembered a small camera her father had presented her on her latest birthday. “Put this in your pocket and take it to the Wangells’ tomorrow. The camera’s loaded with self-developing film. Ask to borrow the diary, and if Mrs. Wangell refuses, take pictures of the pages you think may be especially important.”
No. 37: The Clue in the Old Stagecoach: “Dad,” said Nancy, feeling a new surge of enthusiasm, “I knew you’d tell me exactly the right thing to do. I’ll ask the Zuckers, and if they don’t know, I’ll go to the courthouse and look at the records.” (chapter 15)
George did not reply, but Nancy said, “What seems important to me is to have courthouse, church, and cemetery records searched to find out if Abner Langstreet did marry and have any children.
Nancy’s father thought this was a good idea and said he would arrange for someone in the neighborhood of Francisville to make the search. “Perhaps,” her father replied. “It would depend upon what was put into the deed of sale of the property where the old vehicle is found. Art Warner will get all these facts for you.” (chapter 16)
The lawyer added that he had investigated church registers and town-hall records where a few vital statistics were kept at that time. “None of them reveal his having married anyone, and from what Mrs. Strook was told by her family, it’s pretty certain he never did.” (chapter 17)
No. 44: The Clue in the Crossword Cipher: While Nancy and Carla were trying to memorize the three phrases, George walked around the cabin. On one wall she noticed a bunch of knotted strings of various colors tied together and suspended from several nails. She asked what it was. “That is called a quipu,” Romero said. “It was the way the old Incas kept records. They did not have a written language or a way of figuring.
He explained that the different colored cords stood for various things. “For instance, a red string could indicate the king and the knots on that particular string might indicate how many wives and children he had. The old Inca rulers and their nobles were polygamists.” “But the common people weren’t?” “No. Each laborer, called a puric, was allowed only one wife.”
George reached up and counted the knots, some of which were single, others doubled, or in groups. “It would be beyond me,” she said, “to figure this out. I guess that old king had a mighty big family.”
The guard told the girls that scholars were still working on the puzzle of the quipu. If they could learn the meaning of the knots, they might figure out some of the history of the Incas which was not yet known. (chapter 7)
Want to read more, and I hope you do… click below
© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved