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!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Brick Tea

By Roseanna M. White

It was nearly five years ago that Carrie Pagels made mention of "brick tea." I don't even remember now how it came up, but I believe she'd purchased some from a local plantation home and was offering it to one of us here at CQ as thanks for helping with a project. Now, I had no idea what in the world she was talking about. And so far as I could tell in my search, she's never talked to us about it on the blog. So I decided to resurrect the post I'd done on my own blog 5 years that talked about this fun tea and what I learned about it after this arrived in the mail:

The moment I withdrew this brick from its bag, the scent of tea wafted up to me. My daughter, who runs to the kitchen the moment she senses a package being opened, rushed out just then, saw the brown-paper-wrapped block, and said, "What's that?"

My answer was to hold it out and say, "Smell."

You should have seen her eyes light up with delight and disbelief as she squealed, "Tea?!"

Tea has been a staple of many societies for centuries. But loose leaf tea is hard to transport, so back in the days of the silk road in Asia, the Chinese discovered that if they use forms to press the tea into standard sized bricks, they can transport them with ease, and the tea lasts through the journey.

This became such a standard that tea bricks could be used as currency, and this was the way most tea was transported for hundreds of years, all the way into the 19th century. So the tea tossed into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party? That was bricks.

Naturally, when something is used so long, for so many purposes, there comes to be a rhyme and reason to each part of it.

I don't know if you can read the label on this, but if you do, you'll find its "translation"--what each part of it means.

The front of this particular brick has details that let buyers know that this tea comes from a company managed by more than one person, and is manufactured by Enterprise Company Tea and the Chinese Lee family.

The back of the brick is separated into squares that can be used as currency. One square, for instance, might equal the price of a chicken.

In addition to being brewed, the tea traditionally pressed into bricks can also be eaten. I don't intend to try that, gotta say.

I thought for sure, five years ago, that I would immediately start breaking bits off and using them. But I didn't. Because it was so pretty and interesting, my Brick Tea still occupies a place of honor on my hutch. Occasionally I pick it up and smell it. And tell myself that maybe someday I'll brew myself a cup with some real history.

But mostly, I just love looking at it and knowing what it represents.


Roseana M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two small children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels…to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. You can learn more about her and her stories at

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. :)