This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How REAL Secret Tunnels Impacted My Upcoming Novel, For Love or Country

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

#MacGregorLegacy #history #colonial #fiction

While researching my next novel, For Love or Country, book 2 in The MacGregor Legacy, I came across some interesting information regarding real secret tunnels existing under the historic district of Wilmington, NC to the Cape Fear River. Some of these tunnels date back to before the American Revolutionary War made of brick with vaulted ceilings.

Lots of legends and rumors have surrounded these tunnels such as pirates stashing their booty, escaped prisoners, and the Underground Railroad. Most historians agree that none of these legends can be verified, but most likely the tunnels were used for sewage and drainage.

Burgwin-Wright House (Flickr, NCBrian)
The existence of these tunnels gave me the perfect opportunity to use them in my story during the Revolutionary War. One tunnel is known to be under the Burgwin-Wright House built around 1770 and is the location where General Cornwallis set up his headquarters for the British when he took command of Wilmington in
1781. According to one of the legends, Patriot soldiers escaped while being held as prisoners in the Burgwin-Wright House. Since the foundation of the house was built over an old jail, the brick basement was a perfect place for the British to hold Patriot prisoners. Therefore, this house plays a significant role as a setting for several scenes in my novel. To aide me in my research, I found transcribed descriptions written by the family that lived there when Cornwallis took over the house.

Of all the tunnels, Jacob's Run is the most famous named for Joseph Jacobs, a prominent merchant tanner. In 1775 he and his brother Benjamin built St. John's Masonic Lodge, now the Children's Museum of Wilmington. According to an April 28, 1967 newspaper article that appeared in the Wilmington Morning Star, contractors once again discovered the tunnel while digging the foundation of a new restaurant they were building in the former Theater Manor building. Fittingly, they named the restaurant, Jacob's Run. The tunnel ran beneath the building and all around it following the flow of natural spring water. City engineers state that there are no authentic records documenting when the tunnel was built or for what purpose--yet they obviously exist and can be dated back to the colonial period.
Mitchell Anderson House
Another setting that I used in the story was the Mitchell Anderson House built around 1739, the oldest surviving house in Wilmington. When Lord Cornwallis took over the Burgwin-Wright House in 1871, Major James Craig of the British Army was forced to vacate the premises and took over the Mitchell House.

Historic homes like this and real existing tunnels with lots of legendary stories surrounding them are great fodder for an author's imagination. Therefore, I used what real historic information that we have about them and took creative license with the rest to fit it into the storyline of my novel, For Love or Country set in 1781, Wilmington, NC