Toaping Castle

Toaping Castle "Tell me again; Why are we here?" Izzy asked.

"We are here," I explained, very patiently, "to provide a fictional context for showing a picture of a historical marker on my blog."

"No," Izzy responded with a shake of his head and a little sigh. "I meant, 'What are we pretending we're doing?'"

"Oh, we're trying to break you out of your writer's block. I thought that a series of stories based on historical markers might be a method of working out of the rut."

"But I don't have writer's block," he said, rather petulantly if you ask me. "I don't even exist."

"Oh, we all know that. That's why the word 'Tale' is in the subtitle. It lets people know we're just walking around in my head."

"But even in your head, it's winter, right?" he asked.

"Yeah, so?"

"So, this place is all green and stuff."

"Well," I said and stopped. I mean, the picture is pretty green after all. "I took the picture months ago; I just never got around to writing anything about it."

"So, maybe you're the one with writer's block," he said, triumphantly. He acted as if he were Howard Hughes in The Aviator asking that Senator how he got to Peru.

"What difference does it make which one of us has writer's block?" I said.

"I'm worried about my image," he replied.

"Image?" I stomped in circles around the sign. "But you're not even real!"

"I don't care," he said and sulked. We both stared at the sign, which reads:

Toaping Castle
(Circa 1750)

On this site, Isaac, Charles, and Nathan Walker erected a large white oak log house, named for their ancestral stronghold in Scotland which the three brothers had fled after the failure of attempts to unseat George I, King of England, as ruler of Scotland. Isaac permanently settled here and obtained land grants for 188 acres. He and his three sons served in the Revolutionary War. The graves of Isaac and his son Nathan are north of here.

Toaping Castle was the birthplace of Samuel Hamilton Walker (Feb 24, 1817-Oct 9, 1847), Lt. Colonel of the Texas Rangers and Captain of the U.S. Cavalry. He left home at age 18 to fight Indians. And later he became a leader and hero of the Rangers. His suggested changes to Samuel Colt's revolver resulted in Colt's success as an arms manufacturer. 1000 Colt-Walker Pistols -- the first, heaviest, and longest revolvers ever issued to American forces-- were purchased for the Texas Rangers during the Mexican War. Walker was killed in that war at the Battle of Hua Mantla, Mexico.

The family cemetery is all that remains of the Toaping Castle estate.

"Got anything?" I asked, after a few minutes of staring. He shook his head. "It'd be easier if that were a White Castle instead of a Friday's."

"Or a gun shop," he suggested.


We continued to stare disconsolately. This had seemed so ripe with promise when I'd first seen the sign and told Izzy to meet me here. There had to be some story in liberal Greenbelt being the home of a gun inventor. Failing that, we're always interested in Scottish stories, right?

"Well, if there's nothing, there's nothing," I said. "Might was well go home."

"Sometimes, the words just don't cooperate," he said. "Writer's block is nothing to be embarrassed about."

"I don't have writer's block!" I said.

He was quiet for a moment.

"You know my name's not really Izzy, don't you?" he asked.

"Oh, shut up."

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