I sat and talked to my hypnotherapy teacher, Paul, quite a bit about the ‘project’, my frustrations with just not being able to find things out, things that everyone says NOBODY knows….

He takes some notes, I give him a very basic timeline, so he’s a little familiar with family names and who was born/died when….

He asks if I’m asking him for an actual channeling (that would be inviting someone else’s essence into your physical body) and I say no, neither of us believes that’s a good way to go, nor is it wise. He asks if I want to do this like a Past Life Session and I say yes, that makes sense to me.

As SOON as I close my eyes, even before he comes back in to begin, I get an image of the Brett Homestead and the curved cedar shingles USED to be whitewashed every year which preserved them quite nicely, but now they’re COATED in thick, cream-colored paint. Yuck.

We’re double mic’d so both voices can be heard very clearly. The entire session is on audio cassette, so for this, what Paul actually says on the tape will be in bold, what I actually said will be in italic, and the notes I typed up immediately upon returning home of what I was seeing but not saying aloud will be in [brackets].

…timeline of events….Going back now to explore that connection, those significant events around the life of Catharyna Brett. lady b takes a deep breath  Going back in time now…ten…nine, back in time…eight, going ALLLLL the way back…seven…back in time, six…five…back in time….four….three, back in time, two……one and be there now…..allowing the scene, images, impressions, events, to unfold naturally, easily and effortlessly, that’s right. Trusting what you see, sense and feel…and when you’re there, just let me know…

{I went to a place behind my eyes, quite out of my body and with Paul’s suggestions to be there, I saw the Homestead yard and was very pleased to see FIELDS instead of suburban Beacon which signaled that I had indeed ‘arrived’ in a different time. I see these fields beyond the brook that goes around the yard and I see the slaves working in the fields. I see my boys playing in the yard, they’re dresssed in very dark colors. I’m sitting on the porch, doing something in my lap as I watch the boys play…

that’s right….now just breathing…letting go….allowing it to unfold…And when you’re ready, you can describe to me what you’re…experiencing there, what you’re recalling….[Paul coughs and clears his throat. There is a very long silence. I am seeing this whole scene but cannot seem to SAY so. On the tape you hear me breathing deeply as though trying to breathe out the words…they’re not coming]

Yes??   Remaining deeply relaxed, you can respond to me verbally and can describe the scene you’re experiencing….

[still deeply breathing, trying to find my voice]

Mmmm. what to you want to say?

There are FIELDS.


The fields are beyond the creek.

Mmm hmm,

And the roadway’s over there to the right. And all the boys are playing by the house. [another long silence]  And they play there, but I don’t want them to go across the brook.

And why is that?

Because that’s too far, that’s out in the fields.

Mmm hmm, And where are you in relation to these boys playing?

[breath] On the bench….at the side of the front door. On this….little porch….And I can sit there and I can see them.

And would you describe what it is that you’re wearing?

[I look down and clearly see this dress]

It’s long, lots and lots of skirt and it’s dark brown and it has very tiny flowers. And an apron over that, that’s just pinned to the front of the dress [I also see that I am DOING something in my lap, but don’t say so]

Mmm hmm, And this bench on this small porch in front of this house, is this the house where you live?


Mmm hmm And about what age are you?


And is this your house?


And…do you live alone, or with other people?

I have my four sons, and Roger, and we have the negroes who work in the field and the carpenter. And the carpenter helped Roger build this house. [I clearly see this young man off to my right]


And you can reach out the front window…..and pump water! Mmmmm.

That’s convenient.

[ I laugh] Roger thought of that!

Hmmm. Where is Roger?

[another pause while I look around] He’s at the mill.


And Francis is with him.


Our oldest….and the three little ones are with me….No……Only two boys are with me [I felt very troubled]

Ohhh, and where’s the third?

[she gets sad and troubled] Thomas died already.

He died?

[she nods]

I’m sorry. How did he die?

[long silence]…he got sick. All the boys got sick. And Thomas couldn’t get well again. And their faces all turned red when they had the fever, and Thomas’ face didn’t turn red when he had the fever.

his didn’t…..

[she begins to cry]

hmmmm. Remember to breathe, it’s OK…..[Paul breathes to get me to do the same] He was your youngest?

No, the oldest.

Oh, the oldest

But even when he was here I always thought of Francis as being the oldest because Thomas was LITTLE.

So Francis was your second, and he’s with his father at the mill, and Thomas is gone, and the other two?

Robert and Rivery are with me [I see Robert rather playing quietly and Rivery is all OVER the place. I have a strong sense that Rivery is FOUR.]

And you husband? Roger? How old is he?

[long pause…..] He’ll be FORTY.

And when do you celebrate his birthday?

[another LONG pause….I am looking around and around a circular calendar, feeling something about October, but I say]….June.

June what?


This is the day he was born?


Now, just take a breath…..relaxing a bit deeper…..And how long have you two been married?

[she chuckles] a LONG time….Mmmmm…..12 years, 13 years?

mmmm hmmm….and let’s move to some significant event in that life….that will help us even more, just knowing that the right occasion, event or experience will come, moving there now…..five, four, three, two and one…..and be there now…….

[there is a LONG pause. I am inside, I am trying to get ready to go out. I’m aware that this is the first time I am going ‘out’ after losing Roger. Out to face everyone, out to deal with the business things and I am not AT ALL ready for this. I’m not at ALL sure that I can do it. I can’t even seem to get dressed.

and please describe to me what you’re observing

[she breathes heavily] I am going to go out [her voice is thin]


I have to take CARE of things….and I’m having trouble getting ready

And what do you have to take care of?

I have  to go down to the Mill…..and see to the business.

Why is that?

Because Roger is gone and I have to DO it!

What happened to Roger?

[long pause, the tears well up] Roger drowned in the river [a most ragged sigh]

I’m so sorry.

[she cries]

And how are the boys?

They’re scared….they’re scared of thunder and scared of the river and they’re scared to get in boats anymore and they just want to stay home. [she cries]

And you manage the Mill business now?

I have help. I have to meet with that man today [sigh]

And then what happens? Just moving it forward a bit now, three….two….one……

[another long silence as I float into a totally different space. Suddenly I feel confident, comfortable, totally OK with myself. It’s amazing how different it is. How she looks FORWARD to going out every day in her carriage. She knows her position. She knows what she’s doing. It’s really wonderful. [deep breath produces an audible Mmmmm]

And what is it that’s happening?

I get into my CARRIAGE [deep breath] And I go to the Frankfort Storehouse.


and there’s lots of people there now, and LOTS of boats…..Things come up and down the River now and people come and buy them.

And can you tell me a bit about how you’re dressed?

[I look down] It’s a LARGE black dress, with white sleeves underneath the black sleeves….and a satin bonnet….It’s not what I wear at home.

what do you wear at home?

[the tiniest chuckle] a SMALLER dress…..But I DRESS when I go out….and they LISTEN to me.

Mmmmm, who listens to you?

The men and the merchants. And most of them are very good and very fair, but sometimes they’re not…..[at this point I am just beginning to drift….to start feeling my agedness]

And what is it that you’re going to do? Going to that Storehouse in your carriage?

We watch the things that come up the River in boats. And this is where the new people come up.

New people?

There’s LOTS of new people….and they NEED things.

They need things?

They’re building houses and they’re starting farms and they’re planting orchards.

Yes. And you have something to do with this?

I sell them my land.

Hmmm so you sell land…..

And the piece we live on gets smaller and smaller…..and that’s OK…..[here’s where I’m beginning to realize what’s happening. My voice is getting weaker, almost sleepy, I am feeling how thin she is, how wrinkled, my arms begin to get cold. I think on that LAST land sale….I know what the time is….my heart begins to beat very oddly, more slowly. I listen to my heart beating its last…..I’m ready to go. It’s totally OK. She did what she came to do and she’s totally willing to let go…]

And how long is it now that Roger’s gone?

Loooonnnnnngggg time [voice is very thin and tiny]

LONG time?

Rivery’s gone and Robert’s gone….


….and I’m TIRED…..

Hmmmm. What happened to Rivery and Robert?

[Now I’m struggling to answer. I just want to GO]  Rivery went off into the woods…..[I don’t want to THINK about this]  like he always did…and he fell off a mountain….and he fell very, very far…..[the voice is barely audible…..little whimpers….my heart is bothering me]….and I like to think he flew away….mmmmm……And Robert died just last year. He was sick.

And what year is that?

Seventeen and……sixty-three. Mmmmmm [I’m becoming really uncomfortable]

How did you learn of Rivery’s death?

[I’m growing more uncomfortable, my heart is acting up badly, I’m becoming aware of real pain in my bladder…] Mmmmmm. [I may have my hand over my heart at this point]   I was on the front porch reading…and I dozed off….and I dreamed that I was flying [noisy breath] and it was September and you could smell apples everywhere…..and then Coban called me for supper and Rivery wasn’t home….but sometimes they did that…..[breathing is growing very shallow] and after supper I went upstairs and I was sitting by the window…..and I looked out into the woods and I saw the lanterns swinging…..


And it was the boys….coming back….but something was wrong….[tears are coming now]…And I rant downstairs …and only three Indian boys were standing there and they had a travois behind them….

they had a what behind them?

A travois that they pulled…..[and she cries]…..and Rivery’s friend….came forward and told me that Rivery was standing on the edge and the rock let go and he fell and he tried to catch him and he tried to catch him and he went too fast and he fell all the way down [she breaks down and sobs – Paul BREATHES to get me to BREATHE]  And Francis  WASN’T there….


had to tell Francis later, but Robert was there.

and who was Rivery’s friend who told you of this?


A boy from town?

No, the Indian boy from the Village [she’s trying to control her sobs]

Remember to breathe….And why is it that you never really spoke of this again?

[change takes place here…she pulls herself back together…her voice is all different] It was OVER….Things were very, very bad between the settlers and the Indians….and there would be TROUBLE. So we buried Rivery in the woods, very quietly.

You buried him in the woods?

Next to Roger

I see

And next to Thomas….

Didn’t people ask?

[huge sigh] I told them he FELL. And that’s all. He fell [breathing is becoming pained…I turn sideways in the chair somewhat]

And moving forward…..and relaxing deeper……

[no way, my body won’t take any more]

How is it that your life…..

[I suddenly open my eyes]

Oh! You OK?

My heart’s fluttering. [I say in my totally normal, physical voice]

and Paul turns off the tape recorder.

I am aware that my bladder is about to burst, which is ridiculous, we’ve not been at this for even 45 minute, and my heart is acting up badly. I tell him so and he says my body is just welcoming me back. It is VERY hard to stand up and go down the hall to the rest room. I go back into the room and sit cross-legged on the chair, just FASCINATED with what just happened. I tell Paul in incredible detail about being IN her dying body and he knows EXACTLY what happened, that my real body kicked in to pull me out. It’s actually very reaffirming that we’re completely safe in these journeys. But I’m in AWE of how READY she was to go. We (she and I) were LISTENING/FEELING her heart flutter and flutter and it would have STOPPED. She died alone, I know it. In her bed. She was DONE. But she was in a wonderful space when she died. That’s so good to know.

And it took a few days and a few listen-throughs to realize that the grief I hear as she describes in this helpless, squeaky, failing voice how Rivery REALLY died is not the deep grief she felt when it happened. It is a RUSH of relief at FINALLY telling the story the way it happened. Not a bad thing to do just before she dies.

My sense of the boys is consistent – Robert looks like his father with black hair. Francis looks like one of her parents, with a far broader, almost square face and lighter brown hair. Rivery has a very pointy nose and mid-brown hair. Roger’s hair is black, Catharyna’s hair is darker than mine, though not quite black.

She was very THIN when she died. I most definitely felt my tiny, thin arms very wrinkled and growing cold. her sense of family was very deep and quiet. Her sense of community was HUGE. Maybe that’s what she ‘used’ the Church for….as a place to lay her personal burdens at God’s feet so she could carry on. And it worked.

She and Roger were a GOOD team, but she really came into her own without him. I don’t doubt, now that I’ve felt the uncertainly with which she faced that first trip OUT without Roger that it might have been tempting to marry again, but no one held HER vision for this land. I can see her viewing each suitor as even LESS close to her vision than Roger was (and he certainly wasn’t perfect) I need to get timelines for her guardians…did any of THEM come and advise her after Roger died? Who WERE the available suitors?

She was, during her entire life, a woman in a man’s world. so much younger than her half-siblings, there really was no bonding with any of them; her mother was EXHAUSTED and was all too willing to shuffle Catharyna off with the older ones. Her father leaves her education and estate in the hands of four, wealthy, powerful men. Heaven knows Lady Cornbury was no Motherfigure….and there’s ROGER and she has FOUR SONS. Just men all OVER the place and she learns to ‘keep these things and ponder them in her heart’ (I remember that much from Church).

But now I have the info I so needed. 11 years difference between them. I’m good with that. Now that I’ve got my info, will I ever be able to write the entire book….the blending of the very human story of them, the accurate depiction of the area and time they lived in, and my hunting for them.

By 2005 I move to Oregon to be with MY grandkids and the research is packed in a box and her costume is in a plastic bin on a closet shelf…………………………………