Carrie Fancett Pagels' "The Substitute Bride" in O' Little Town of Christmas collection is a 2016 Published MAGGIE AWARD FINALIST in Romance Novellas!!!

Tea Party winners: Roseanne M. White's winner is Connie Saunders. Elaine Marie Cooper's winner of a $10 Amazon gift card is Nicole Wetherington. Carrie Fancett Pagels’ winner of choice of ebook or paperback of Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter goes to Deanne Patterson and the White Rose teacup set goest to Lena Nelson Dooley. Angela Couch's winner of Threads of Love e-book is Melissa Henderson and Marguerite Gray is the winner of Mail-Order Revenge print. Denise Weimer's ebook of Redeeming Grace winner is Ashley Penn. Congrats all!!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Navigation in the Colonial American Era

I recently read "Longitude" by Dava Sobel. What I learned is how pitifully little I knew about navigation during Colonial times! Anyone writing about sailing during this time period ought to give this book a read-through.

Not written in dry facts and not a fascinating story, this book falls somewhere in the middle. It could have been shorter, it drags in places. It gives giving the reader a sense of what was going on behind the scenes in England - politically speaking - as well as showing the life-and-death need for the advances in navigation that were made between the mid and late 1700s.

The story of John Harrison is a good study in life-long dedication to excellence and persistence in the face of adversity. For those reasons alone, it's worth the read.
Watch for details on Pegg's debut story coming in April of 2017

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

German Migration to the American Colonies

When my Hochstetler ancestors arrived in Philadelphia aboard the ship Charming Nancy on November 9, 1738, they were part of a great migration of Germans to the American colonies. During the 18th century, more than 100,000 Germans arrived in this country. Among them were Mennonites, Amish, Swiss Brethren, and Pietists, who were the largest group. The Amish, which included my ancestors, and the Mennonites made up only about 5,000 of the German immigrants. Most of them settled in Pennsylvania, while smaller numbers made their homes in New York, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Together they became the largest non-English-speaking community in colonial North America.

German Peasants' War (1524-25), Lizenzstatus 1539
Why did so many Germans migrate here? During the 16th and 17th centuries, religious and political wars ravaged Germany and much of Europe. Armies trampled farmers’ crops, stole livestock, and put homes to the torch. Famine spread across the land and, along with ruinous taxes levied to pay for the wars and religious disputes resulting from the Reformation, made life intolerable. In addition, rulers determined what church their subjects belonged to, with no regard for personal conscience. The British colonies in North America, especially Pennsylvania under the Penns, offered them not only religious freedom and escape from constant wars, but also economic opportunity in the ability to own land, a right denied religious dissidents in Europe.

Conditions in Europe were bad, but the decision to move to America was not an easy one and required staunch determination and deep personal faith. The ocean crossing was often harrowing and could take as long as 2 months. A diary attributed to Hans Jacob Kauffman lists the deaths of many children and adults during his voyage. Below is Gottlieb Mittelberger’s vivid description of the conditions passengers endured during his passage in 1750.

The ocean crossing
“Children from one to seven years rarely survive the voyage; and many a time parents are compelled to see their children miserably suffer and die from hunger, thirst, and sickness, and then to see them cast into the water. I witnessed such misery in no less than thirty-two children in our ship, all of whom were thrown into the sea. The parents grieve all the more since their children find no resting-place in the earth, but are devoured by the monsters of the sea. It is a notable fact that children, who have not yet had the measles or small-pocks [sic], generally get them on board the ship, and most die of them. Often a father is separated by death from his wife and children, or mothers from their little children, or even both parents from their children; and sometimes whole families die in quick succession; so that often many dead persons lie in the berths beside the living ones, especially when contagious diseases have broken out on board the ship.”

Once they arrived, the troubles of the hard-pressed immigrants were not necessarily over. Many were forced to bind themselves as indentured servants until they could pay off the cost of their passage. In most cases this was voluntary, but sometimes individuals were kidnapped, bundled aboard a ship, and sold to the highest bidder as soon as it reached port in America. Either way, they often found their masters difficult or even abusive.

Others, however, moved to the frontier, where they built homes, communities, and churches. My ancestors were among these, settling along Northkill Creek in Berks County, Pennsylvania, along with other members of their Amish church, where they lived peacefully for many years. But in time they faced another tide of destruction and loss as England went to war with France and her Native allies.

I have been fortunate that many records and oral stories exist about my ancestors who came to this country in 1738. Does your family have information about your own ancestors who came to this country, whether in colonial times or later? If so, share a little bit about their history.
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers, an author, editor, and publisher, and a lifelong student of history. Her novel Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with bestselling author Bob Hostetler, won ForeWord Magazine’s 2014 INDYFAB Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, releases in Spring 2017. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Liberty Bell

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of freedom for the United States. On it is inscribed, "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof." An interesting fact about the Liberty Bell is that it was procured by Philadelphia long before the colonies were fighting for their independence, and it did not ring on July 4th, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Origin of the Bell: In 1751, Philadelphia needed a new larger bell to ring when proclamations were made and when citizens needed to be warned of danger.  Issac Norris, speaker of the Philadelphia Provincial Assembly contracted with London to have a 2,000 pound bell made. It arrived in August, 1752, but when it rang for the first time, the rim cracked. Two local founders, John Pass and John Stow, recast the bell with their names engraved on it and got it ready to for use in 1753. The bell was used for public meetings and to summon people to church services. In 1772, some complained that the bell rang too often.

Proclaimation of Independence: When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776, there was no public proclamation made, so no bells rang to announce it. The public proclamation was made on July 8th. Many bells rang that day, and although the Liberty Bell was not specifically mentioned, it may have been one of those bells. Bells were also rung to celebrate the one year anniverserary of Independence on July 4th, 1777.

After General Washington's defeat at the Battle of Brandywine in September, 1777, the bell was removed and hidden below church floorboards in Allentown to keep it from falling into the hands of the British and melted down as munitions. After the British departed, it was returned to Philidelphia in 1778 and placed in storage until 1784 when it was rung again on 4th of July's, Washington's birthday, and election days.

The Famous Crack: Nobody knows how the bell was cracked, but in February, 1846, the Public Ledger announced that the bell could not be rung for George Washington's birthday because of the crack and that the crack had been there for some time. The most common story is the bell cracked in 1835 when it rang during the funeral of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, but in 1837, the bell was used as a symbol for an anti-slavery campaign and the crack wasn't mentioned.

The Liberty Bell: The bell was first called the Liberty Bell in a New York anti-slavery journal in 1835 when it became a symbol for the abolitionist movement. In 1853, US President Franklin Pierce called the Liberty Bell a symbol of American Revolution and American Liberty. In 1865, after President Lincoln was assasinated, the bell was placed by his head so everyone who passed could read the inscription, "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof." From that point on, it was always called the Liberty Bell.

In 1876, a committee considered repairing the Liberty Bell for the Centennial Celebration of Independence, but it was decided that the crack was so much a part of the symbol of the bell, it shouldn't be tampered with. Through the years, the bell traveled to exhibitions until the crack got much worse. Repairs were made, and it was retired to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The bell was tapped in 1915 and again during World War II on D-Day, VE-Day, and VJ-Day, but it hasn't been tapped since. Throughout our nation's history, it has been known a symbol for liberty throughout the land.

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. 

Her novellas Soldier’s Heart and A Christmas Promise are available on Amazon. Her novella Resurrection of Hope is now available at Amazon in eBook and paperback and Barnes and Noble in eBook or paperback.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Gaming in Colonial Times

French earthenware tray & board game, 1720-50 (Wiki)
Practically since time began, people have sought various ways to entertain themselves in between the work of finding food, clothing, and shelter. Popular opinion of entertainment, however, has varied. Three guesses on which well-known colonial-era leader said this (no cheating!):
Almost all these pursuits of chance [i.e., of human industry] produce something useful to society. But there are some which produce nothing, and endanger the well-being of the individuals engaged in them or of others depending on them. Such are games with cards, dice, billiards, etc. And although the pursuit of them is a matter of natural right, yet society, perceiving the irresistible bent of some of its members to pursue them, and the ruin produced by them to the families depending on these individuals, consider it as a case of insanity, quoad hoc, step in to protect the family and the party himself, as in other cases of insanity, infancy, imbecility, etc., and suppress the pursuit altogether, and the natural right of following it ...
No, this wasn't one of the Puritans, although they frowned on "trivial pursuits" as well. As Wikipedia tells us,
When the Governor William Bradford discovered a group of non-Puritans playing stool-ball, pitching the bar, and pursuing other sports in the streets on Christmas Day, 1622, he confiscated their implements, reprimanded them, and told them their devotion for the day should be confined to their homes.
Here on Colonial Quills, we've learned about children's games and that some were even used as educational tools, but what pursuits did adults enjoy?

The Family Remy (Januarius Zick, c. 1776): various parlor activities
The first quote cites cards, billiards, and dice. The use of playing cards dates back at least a millennia ago, in China, in variations that can be tracked forward to our modern game of poker. Colonial-era Germans and French played a forerunner of poker (called "Pochen" or "Poque," both developed from a game called Primera, according to Zynga). Whist, loo (formerly lanterloo), and cribbage were also very popular--although not always, as is emphasized by various sources, in mixed or polite company. One interesting thing is that historical playing cards were printed with only "spots" or pictures, not the easy-reference system of today with the number/letter and suit in the corners.

Billiards, of course, is the forerunner of our modern game of pool, dating in a recognizable form since at least the 15th century. Did you know that the green fabric favored since at least the 17th century probably originated to simulate the color of grass, but scientifically allows longer play with less eyestrain?

The use of dice dates back as far as we have recorded history, with pieces carved from bone, ivory, wood, and stone. Apparently--just to warn anyone who decides to do further research--there's a long history of variants having suggestive or bawdy themes, as well. (The same applies to playing cards.)

Outdoor pursuits included variations on bowling or ninepins, where the object was to knock down all the pins but the center one. That seems a lot harder than modern bowling, but it probably shouldn't surprise me that our colonial forebears had more patience for the finer points of gaming. One source I consulted on colonial-era games (not a clue how accurate some of this list is) includes a description of parlor games that sound tedious and convoluted at best, pointless at worst.

We know that board games have been a perennial favorite, as well. Chess, checkers, mancala, backgammon, and others were popular--perhaps more so amongst those who had the luxury of "idleness," but the human need for occasional recreation is universal, so I suspect only the most austere refrained completely from these kinds of pursuits. It's hard to say how long chess itself has been regarded as a valuable tool for training the mind in strategy.

So who was our mystery commentator above? That would be Thomas Jefferson, in Thoughts on Lotteries (1826). He happened to approve of raffles and lotteries, by the way, just not more "useless" gambling. :)

Friday, July 8, 2016


On a recent visit to Yorktown, Virginia, I visited the Watermen’s Museum, a
The Watermen's Museum ~ Yorktown
fascinating exhibition detailing the important role the watermen of the Chesapeake Bay played from pre-colonial to current times.

The Kiskiack Indians, part of the Algonquian speaking tribes, were the first watermen that lived along the York River, one of the many tributaries that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.

 “Waterman” is term that dates back to the eleventh century, and is only used widely on the Thames River in England and on the Chesapeake Bay. When the English settled in the mid-Atlantic region, they began calling those who made their living on the water, watermen.  The term refers to shipbuilders, those working in the fishing industry, oystermen, crabbers, marine merchants, ferrymen, boat and ship pilots. In more recent times Navy sailors, Coast Guard, marine scientists and many others would be added to that list.

The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries
It would be difficult to estimate how many watermen worked the Chesapeake Bay as it is the largest estuary (where fresh water from rivers meets the salt water of the ocean) in the contiguous US. The Bay is 200 miles long from its northern headwaters in the Susquehanna River to its outlet in the Atlantic Ocean. At its narrowest point it is slightly less than 3 miles wide and at its widest point it is 30 miles wide. The vast area includes rivers and wetlands and its watershed includes mountains, forests, and fields in six states (New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia).

Many of the small waterfront communities where watermen live have changed very little over the decades, particularly on some of the islands in the Bay, such as Tangier Island, Tilghman Island, and Smith Island. Their speech even today sounds like the speech of the early colonists who first settled the Chesapeake Bay region.
Cape Henry Lighthouse

Working on the Bay could prove dangerous for watermen during hours of darkness. Due to the dangers of navigating at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the colonial governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood petitioned the British Board of Trade for a lighthouse for Cape Henry in 1718, but it was rejected. In 1789 an act of the US Congress provided for the construction of the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Fourteen more lighthouses would be built over the next century to provide for safe navigation around Bay.

I’ll post about American Revolution in the Chesapeake Bay in September.