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JoeinWA
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Registered: ‎06-10-2009
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YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

Hi, I'm hoping someone can help me with a title and/or author for a young adult Revolutionary War Historical mystery that I read in the late '70s or early '80s.

 

The plot involved two 20th Century families.  One family was named the Masons, and the town in the book was named after them.  They were descended from supposed Revolutionary War heroes and the antagonists of the story.  The other family was named the Bradys, the protagonists, who were descended from supposed Torys in the Revolutionary War.  The conflict centered on who was the true traitors in the town 200 years before.

 

One part I remember clearly was the Bradys used a pair of late 18th Century spectacles to decode an old letter from their ancestors.  The rims of the spectacles would frame the hidden message in the text of the letter. 

 

In the book, they actually showed a drawing of the letter with the hidden message framed by the spectacles.

 

 

 

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Claude_Hopper
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

Hey, if you find out, let me know, I think I've been looking for the same book. I read it in the mid-70's, I'm pretty sure. From your description it sounds like the same book. What I remember is two brothers and a sister visiting their grandparents for the summer in the ancestral home. I remember the younger brother was goofing around in a ceremonial Native American headdress, a family heirloom that had been passed down by their ancestor who accused of being a traitor. The brother accidentally knocked a feather out of it, and then their grandad went to repair it, he found a note folded up in the feather socket, which turned out to be a clue left by their ancestor, which lead them to other clues, and ultimately the letter with the secret message that required the spectacles to view. I also remember that it required a 2nd set of spectacles (a smaller pair) to read both parts of the message, Other things I remember -- the sister getting stung by a wasp, and them finding other Native American items their ancestor had left, including a shield and a doll.
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harleyhoney
Posts: 312
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

This one might be yours, Claude_Hopper.

 

Key to the Treasure  by Peggy Parish

 

The children are visiting their grandparents.  Copyright date: 1966

 

Reprint: 2005

 

Sounds like there might have been several books with the same kids, Lisa, Bill and Jed.

 

Peggy Parish is also the author of the Amelia Bedelia series, which my kids devored.

 

Nancy

 

 

"Somebody said they saw me swinging the world by the tail, bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues."
Killing the Blues by Rowland Salley
Performed by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus on RAISING SAND
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JoeinWA
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

That's right!

 

And they tried to use modern glasses, but couldn't because they were bigger framed and could not quite show the coded words altogether,  but they switched to (replica?) the smaller pair and it framed the words perfectly. 

 

. . . I think . . .

 

Sorry, though,  I'm still stumped.  If I find it I'll let you know!

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JoeinWA
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

I don't think that's quite it, but it sounds really close.  I'll have to take a look at it though.

 

Thanks for the input!

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JoeinWA
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

Whoops, you were talking to the other guy, sorry.

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harleyhoney
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

No worries, Joe in WA.  It's lots of fun sleuthing around, plus the book sounds good.

 

PS - Are you Washington state or Washington DC?  I'm in WA state, just north of Bothell.

 

Nancy

"Somebody said they saw me swinging the world by the tail, bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues."
Killing the Blues by Rowland Salley
Performed by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus on RAISING SAND
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JoeinWA
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

WA State, Spokane. 

 

Was there another Washington people confuse us with?  Ha, ha.

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harleyhoney
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Washington Folks

It's hard to understand, but some people seem to think so.   :}

 

Nancy

"Somebody said they saw me swinging the world by the tail, bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues."
Killing the Blues by Rowland Salley
Performed by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus on RAISING SAND
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Claude_Hopper
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That's It!!!

[ Edited ]

That's it!

 

Thank you so much, Nancy, I've been wondering about that book for decades.  I can't wait to read it again.  I should really check back more often, eh?

 

So many books from my childhood that I'd like to reread, but most I've forgotten I'm sure.  Divorce is never fun for a kid, but one blessing that came from it was the marriage of two excellent book collections, one from my mom and one from my stepdad.  I was never in want of a book to read.

 

 

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Claude_Hopper
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Clarification

I received Key to the Treasure in the mail just a while ago, and while I resisted the urge to read it right there and then, I did read enough to realize that it's not the book JoeinWa is looking for.

 

Apparently, over the years, the two books merged in my memory.  In Key to the Treasure, the mystery traces back to the Civil War, not the Revolutionary War, as in Joe's book.

 

I would still very much like to read the other book too, if anybody comes up with the title.  Or, if I come up with it, I'll post it here.

 

Good reading, all!

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geminiangel
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

Hi Joe, could the other book you're thinking of be "The Ghost of Dibble Hollow" by May Nickerson Wallace:

 

Pug Allen and his family move into his family's ancestral home and meets the ghost of Miles Dibble, his ancestor.  The Dibbles and the Smiths have had a longtime feud, because on the night that Miles died, he had the money from the county fair on him and the Smiths always thought he hid it.  It turns out Miles hid the money and needs Pug to help him remember where. 

 

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becke_davis
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: That's It!!!

I don't think this is the book you're looking for, but it was the first mystery I ever read and I loved it. It involved secrets from the Revolutionary War.

 

STERLING, DOROTHY Mystery of the Empty House (Org. Secret of the Old Post Box)
Scholastic. 1971. Paperback. Ill.: Jane Goldsborough. Pat moves out of an apartment in New York into a home in Haven, a place old enough to have homes dating back to the Revolutionary War and also the place where her father grew up as a young boy. She hopes to find some friends in her new home, but is met by a cold reception from a group of boys who wanted to play baseball with her. She finds out the reason some of the boys are in such a bad mood is that they are about to lose their old family home and everything thinks that they great great great grandfather was a spy for the British. Pat helps the boys find a box in their home that proves differently and helps them to save their home. G-.

 

 

I found a review here: http://derosia.com/phlog/post.php?post_id=502

 

Secret Of The Old Post Box June 17th, 2005 6:46 AM

 

love the smell of old books.  When I was a kid I read everything in the junior/teen section in our small town library, and most of it was kind of old.  Cracking open a book that hadn't been read in decades was always exciting for me.

I don't know where I got this book.  It's just always been there on the bookshelf at my folks.  I think I read it for the first time when I was about 13, which is slightly older than the target audience, but I loved it.  There's very little on the Internet about this book, and it's even hard to find apparently, so I'm going to go all out in describing it to you.

The book is set in the mid-1950's, and Pat, our heroine, has just moved from New York City to Haven, the small town her father grew up in.  There's a spooky old house set back from the road behind her house, and she learns that it's owned by a family who lives just down the road.  They can't afford the taxes on it, so it's going to be sold at auction.

The house is Revolutionary War era, and the builder (Nathaniel Woodruff) was reputed to have done great things in The War, but no-one really knows what.  A local  history student comments that it looks like he was a Tory spy, and the three boys whose mom owns the house take great offense.  They're direct descendents of Nathaniel Woodruff, and have always thought of him as a hero.  But the records show he talked to the British a LOT during the war.

Thye history student tells them of a letter he found at the library to Mrs. Woodruff about telling their son "the truth", and that the papers are in "the post box", and she needs to be careful not to burn her hands.  As it turns out, Mrs. Woodruff died the day before the letter was written, so the post box is probably still hidden in the house.  Thus begins the search.

Revolutionary War history is deeply woven throughout this book.  The local kids know all about who was in charge during the war, what they did, and why.  Troop movements, encampment locations; it was all common knowledge for them, since it had happened right around where they lived.  They rode their bikes past those locations every day.  Since Pat, our heroine, isn't from there, they have to explain everything to her, thus educated our Dear Reader.

To make a long story short, the kids DO find the post box, which takes us into the second reason I like this book so much.  The box is full of letters, all in code.  The author goes into great detail about the basics of coding.  I don't say encryption here, since most of it is simple re-ordering of the alphabet.  There's also a code that involves using a dictionary (also in the post box), as a key for a numerical code.

The kids break the code, and find out that Nathaniel Woodruff was the man in charge of George Washington's secret service.  The letters are sold to a local Rich Man, who places them in the Local Museum, and enough money is obtained to save the house.

The whole book is set in the heat of summer, and they talk about cool lemonade, and swimming, and picnics while they struggle with codes etc.  Considering the weather we've been having lately (exactly the same), it suited my mood exactly.

I wish this book were more available, I think every kid should read it, both to spark interest in history as well as codes.  The best site I could find for it is here.  The author has a section in the back where she tells of a good book to read to learn more about codes and encryption, I'm going to see if I can find it.

 

 

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JoeinWA
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Re: That's It!!!

Thanks everyone, I don't think any of these books are the one I'm looking for I'm afraid.  I guess it's gone for good unless it turns up somewhere. 

 

Thanks anyway!

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harleyhoney
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: That's It!!!

Hang in there, Joe.  We will find it someday.  All the suggestions do sound like great fun though.  So glad I'm a grandma as it looks like I've got some children's books to catch up on.

 

Nancy

"Somebody said they saw me swinging the world by the tail, bouncing over a white cloud, killing the blues."
Killing the Blues by Rowland Salley
Performed by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus on RAISING SAND
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Jefferson_Thomas
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s


geminiangel wrote:

Hi Joe, could the other book you're thinking of be "The Ghost of Dibble Hollow" by May Nickerson Wallace:

 

 


Sorry; can't be The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, because no spectacles in it (its code was a simple substitution cipher).  However, it's a terrific children's book in its own right -- I still own a copy, and I'm an old dinosaur! 

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DonnaD55
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Re: YA Revolutionary War Historical Mystery from the '70s or '80s

I remember reading this book and have been searching for it for a long time.  This year, I found it! The title of the book is The Man in the Long Black Cape by Patience Zawadsky.  It was originally titled The Mystery of the Old Musket. Everything you remembered is in this book: the Masons, The Bradys, the revolutionary war letters, and the spectacles.  I was thrilled to reread it.