Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels's winner per random.org is Brenda , Tamera Lynn Kraft's winner is: Connie, Shannon McNear's winner is: Lucy Reynolds

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Power of a Tune

One of the ways I’ve always liked to create period setting in my historical novels is through the use of music and dance. A song can capture any mood, including that of an era or area. In my novella Across Three Autumns, part of the Backcountry Brides collection releasing this May, my heroine, Jenny, finds her heart aching as her much prettier sister serenades departing militia—including the man Jenny loves, Scottish scout Caylan McIntosh—with the sad and wistful “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier"(JohnnyHasGone).
During the American Revolution, the Colonists enjoyed tunes they’d brought over from their native countries. Some of them, like “Lavender’s Blue” (English, printed 1670s-80s), “The Willow Tree” (a much older tune printed in Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, 1776), “Barbara Allen” (British or Scottish) and “The Girl I Left Behind Me” (English fife tune long known but popularized in America during the Revolution) traced back over a century. Colonists also enjoyed the music from stage musicals like The Beggar’s Opera, performed in London as early as 1728 and in the Colonies by 1750, taking home printed copies to play and sing.
The turbulent emotions of the Revolution also generated new music, like “The Rich Lady Over the Sea,” born of taxation resentment. “My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free” became the first song penned by an American, Francis Hopkinson of Philadelphia, in 1759. The verses were included in a 1788 collection of songs for his personal friend, George Washington. Hopkinson signed the Declaration of Independence for New Jersey and helped design the American flag.
Any article on American Revolution-period music would be remiss without mention of “Yankee Doodle.” The song was said to have been written by a British Army surgeon as a sarcastic critique of the motley American troops during the French and Indian War. Those troops adopted it as their own. Origins of the American version remain unclear. Some attribute it to Richard Schukburgh of New York in 1755, but apparently proof is lacking. The first documented copy comes from Harvard student Edward Bangs, printed as “Father and I Went Down to Camp.” Rumor also has it that during the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, the British band played “The World Turned Upside Down,” while the Americans played “Yankee Doodle.” Bit of a thumb your nose, eh? :)
Many tunes were popular in eighteenth century America. Do you have a favorite?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Colonial Quills Tea Party for New Releases

Blurb: "His Anchor" by Carrie Fancett Pagels in First Love Forever Romance Collection
1894/1895 – Mackinac Island, Michigan: Robert Swaine, a ship captain, returns to Mackinac Island where his first love, Sadie Duvall struggles to support her siblings. Will she anchor him to the island he has vowed to leave behind?

This story is a companion to my Romantic Times Top Pick in Inspirational -- My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring. Sadie Duvall is Maude's best friend and Robert is Maude's young uncle. Maude has a French colonial era ancestor from Mackinac Island who'll one day get her own story, too!

My giveaway is an autographed copy of First Love Forever (personalized if the winner so wishes!) & a pair of Anchor earrings! 

We authors in the First Love Forever collection have a big Rafflecopter giveaway going on all through April so be sure to enter!

Collection available at: Christian Bookstores, Christian Book DistributorsBarnes & NobleAmazon, and more.

My Pinterest page for “Love’s Anchor” in First Love Forever: (click here

Connect with Carrie at
Instagram and on her website!

The Highwayman
by Shannon McNear

1775--the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton, Virginia

Samuel Wheeler is an ordinary apprentice wagonmaster by day, a masked vigilante by night, but what started as a lark has gotten out of hand. He hardly sleeps, his secret identity has taken over his life, and the girl he loves barely notices him while his alter ego sets her aflutter.

Sally Brewster works hard at her parents’ inn, nestled in the lower Shenandoah Valley, along the Great Wagon Road that runs from Philadelphia down through the Carolinas. She pays little mind to the gossip about the mysterious highwayman who makes life difficult for the redcoats—until the night when the heroic figure saves her from brigands.


I am so excited about this re-release! Originally part of Barbour's The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection three years ago, this story serves as the prequel to The Counterfeit Tory in the upcoming Backcountry Brides, and the fresh treatment is just in time for those who might want more backstory on Jed Wheeler. Plus, we get a peek at Sam and Sally and their family, five years later, in the epilogue of The Counterfeit Tory.

For a peek at the world of The Highwayman, check out some of my posts from 2015, especially those about handling oxen, the importance of colonial inns, and the Great Wagon Road. 

Available only as ebook at this time. For our giveaway, I'm offering one copy, which is listed on Amazon.

Red Sky Over America

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

William and America confront evil, but will it costs them everything?

In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.

America's classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.

Available on Amazon and other online stores.

You can visit me online at my website or sign up for my newsletter. You can also follow me on Goodreads or Facebook.

I'm giving away an autographed copy of Red Sky Over America. To enter, comment on this blog you'd like to win a copy.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Sieges of Savannah and Charleston, or How the British Left the Colonies

The Siege of Charleston, 1780
In 1779, the British turned their attention from New England and the northeast colonies to what is now termed the Southern Campaign—and they started with Savannah, Georgia. Having taken that in December, they moved north to Charles Towne—Charleston of today—and laid siege to it for six weeks before that mighty port city buckled.

After the surrender at Yorktown, the British forces hunkered down in Charleston and Savannah, but made no further move to withdraw. As Patrick O’Kelley says, “Though the war was near the end, the fighting continued. Old scores needed to be settled, and this had to be done while there was still a war going on. The British in Savannah and Charlestown had to find food for the soldiers and for the refugees huddled near the walls of the cities. The Patriots knew that the sooner they could get the British to leave the two cities, the sooner the war would end, so they opposed any foraging parties coming out of the cities. This led to some intense fighting in the last days of the war.”

The siege of Charleston lasted from 1781 until December 1782. The retaking of Savannah had begun in January 1782 when Major General Anthony Wayne made a bold push against the British in Georgia. The British, thinking they were outnumbered (though they weren’t, by far), fell back to Savannah, and though Wayne did his best to play up the fears of the British, they held onto that city until July.

Last page of the Treaty of Paris, 1783
In the meantime, Greene had his own troubles with troops becoming mutinous in the face of nakedness and hunger. William Moultrie describes how every scrap of cloth was needed to hang about men’s waists, and this in an age where a man was considered “undressed” if he didn’t wear a waistcoat over shirt and breeches. Another officer asked if soldiers could be expected to do their duty, clothed in rags and fed on rice. Even partisan leader Francis Marion, the famed “Swamp Fox,” grew so weary of the constant fight that after one incident in September, he refused to put any more of his men’s lives on the line, so close to the expected departure of the enemy. In one case he and his men even stood guard on behalf of a British foraging party, presumably as much out of compassion as anything.

On July 11, the British officially evacuated from Savannah. Troops headed for Charleston and New York. Many loyalist refugees eventually went south to Florida. The British would drag their feet getting out of Charleston until December 14. British regulars and loyalists dispersed not only back to Britain, but to the Caribbean and Nova Scotia. (Many of Tarleton’s Green Dragoons were given holdings in Nova Scotia, but it was a rather austere location.)

Map of US and territories after the Treaty of Paris
The day after the British fleet sailed from Charleston, the Maryland Line of the Continentals decided their enlistment was over, but Greene told them firmly that the war was not yet finished. That would not happen until the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, but the fighting in the Carolinas had ended at last.

At least where the British were concerned. Tensions and conflict would continue with the native tribes for years to come. And having cut their losses in the American colonies, the British had already focused their meager energies elsewhere in the world. This marked the end, however, of the colonial era in United States history.

(My thanks as usual to O'Kelley for his excellent work, Nothing But Blood and Slaughter: The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Philadelphia's Powel House by Cynthia Howerter

Philadelphia's Powel House not only possesses one of the city's finest examples of eighteenth century Georgian architecture, it was also the home of Samuel and Elizabeth Powel who both played roles in the founding of America. The Powels were known for their hospitality and their house became a magnet for politicians and dignitaries during the years of our country's struggle for independence.

Located on Third Street in the heart of the city's colonial district, the three-story brick home was built in 1765 by businessman Charles Stedman and purchased four years later by Samuel Powel just days before his 1769 marriage to Elizabeth Willing. Shortly after buying the property, Samuel began extensive renovations to its interior, turning the house into one of the most elegant dwellings in the city.

Philadelphia's Powel House. Photo by ©Cindy Feger.

Samuel Powel, born in 1738, was a prosperous merchant, politician, and third generation Philadelphian who inherited his wealth from his father and grandfather. After graduating from the College of Philadelphia, he traveled in Europe for seven years before returning home. During his time abroad, Samuel spent time with Voltaire and the Pope and other prominent European leaders, and was exposed to architectural styles not seen in the American colonies.

Portrait of Samuel Powel

Samuel became active in Philadelphia's political and justice systems after his marriage. He served as the last mayor of Philadelphia under King George III's rule and became the city's first mayor after America won its independence from Great Britain. In 1792, Samuel became speaker of the Pennsylvania Senate which was located in Philadelphia.

Samuel's wife Elizabeth came from a well-to-do family of merchants and politicians. She was born in 1742 in Philadelphia to Charles and Ann (Shippen) Willing. Her father and an uncle served as mayors of the city. Elizabeth's sister Mary married William Byrd III, a Virginia planter, and her cousin Peggy Shippen was the wife of Benedict Arnold.

Portrait of Elizabeth Powel

After Elizabeth and Samuel married, leading American statesmen and intellectuals and visiting dignitaries regularly gathered at their home. The couple lavishly entertained their guests and promoted discussions about current political issues during and after America's quest for independence.

George Washington spent considerable time in Philadelphia as a member of the Second Continental Congress before the Revolutionary War began. He and his wife Martha were frequent guests of the Powels and the two couples became close, life-long friends.

In 1777, the British Army invaded and occupied Philadelphia. Although members of Congress and many residents fled the city to escape capture, Samuel and Elizabeth remained in their home. Britain's Earl of Carlisle took possession of the Powel House for a brief period and claimed the couple's bedchamber for his own, forcing Elizabeth and Samuel to stay in the servants' quarters until he vacated their premises.

Recreation of Elizabeth and Samuel Powel's bedchamber

The Powel House was one of the first in Philadelphia to have a dining parlor. Martha Washington was so taken with the green wall color that she had Mount Vernon's dining room painted the same color.

Powel House dining room. The color green was believed to aid digestion.

The ballroom was the most ornately decorated room in the Powel House. Located on the second floor, it occupied the front parlor and was the scene of many parties and social gatherings given by Samuel and Elizabeth. George and Martha Washington celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary at a dance in the exquisite room.

The Powel House ballroom 

Some of Samuel's favorite European architectural details were included in the Powel House decor during its renovation. He installed floor-to-ceiling wainscoting (see photo above) - which was unheard of in Philadelphia at that time - and a Rococo-style plaster ceiling in the ballroom.

The ballroom's rococo-style ceiling and crystal chandelier

Among the many guests who were entertained in the ballroom were Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette of France, and future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The room was used for parties, dancing, card playing, and other social activities.

The ballroom's harpsichord and harp provided musical entertainment

When guests needed a respite from the entertainment, they gathered in an adjacent room that Elizabeth referred to as the "Withdrawing Room." Here, guests could converse without competition from the ballroom's louder festivities.

The Withdrawing Room

Many of our country's Founding Fathers were frequent visitors to the Powel House when the Constitutional Convention convened at nearby Independence Hall in 1787.

After the convention adjourned each day, the delegates needed a place where they could meet in the evenings to discuss and work out the details of the new federal government - a private place where their conversations would not be overheard and revealed to the public. Elizabeth, a woman known for discretion, offered her house to them.

Although it was not the custom for women to discuss politics during the colonial period, Elizabeth was an exception. Possessed of an excellent education and intellectual mind, she took part in the political discussions that the Founding Fathers and other male guests had in her home. George Washington found her to have excellent insight and judgement in politics and not only sought her advice at times, but gave it serious consideration when making decisions.

The Withdrawing Room in the Powel House

After Washington died, his good friend Elizabeth was given a small piece of his coffin. Along with a lock of his hair, it is displayed in the Withdrawing Room.

A display in the Powel House Withdrawing Room

Like many eighteenth century gentry-owned houses in Philadelphia, the Powel House has an enclosed rear garden with a brick-paved walkabout. The photograph below provides a view of the back of the original three-story house (light-red brick exterior with shutters on the first and second floor windows) with its long, perpendicularly-attached two-story addition (dark-red brick exterior with white shutters on the first and second floor windows) and part of the garden.

Rear of the Powel House and part of its garden. Photo by ©Deb Park.

During the Yellow Fever epidemic that struck Philadelphia in 1793, George Washington urged the Powels to leave the city until the sickness was no longer prevalent. Samuel declined, believing that as Speaker of the Pennsylvania Senate it was important for him to remain in town. He contracted the disease and died. Elizabeth survived her husband by thirty-seven years, never remarrying and taking her last breath in 1830.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the historic section of Philadelphia where the Powel House was located declined. Many buildings, including the Powels' once grand home, ceased to be used as residences and were turned into factories and warehouses.

In 1931, the Powel House was under threat of demolition and scheduled to become a parking lot. Rather than allow the destruction of such an important piece of colonial American history, the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks purchased the property and restored it, then opened it to the public as a museum.

Plaque marking the Powel House

Photographs by ©Cindy Feger, ©Deb Park, and ©Cynthia Howerter.

Thank you Cindy Feger and Deb Park for generously allowing me to use your photographs in the Powel House article.

Cindy, Deb, and I toured the Powel House during our visit to Philadelphia last year. The three of us are members of the Fort Augusta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Fort Augusta Chapter is located in historic Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

Are you friends with Cynthia on Facebook? Click here to find and friend her: Cynthia Howerter

Contact the Powel House for information about tours:
244 South Third Street
Philadelphia, PA  19106
Phone: 215-627-0364
Email: powelhouse@philalandmarks.org

Award-winning author Cynthia Howerter loves living amidst Virginia's rich history. She frequently visits historic sites, accompanied by her wonderful husband and trusty camera. One of her photos was recently purchased by Colonial Williamsburg and used on their Christmas cards. She enjoys sharing her photographs in her articles, believing that topics are more interesting when one can see them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Colonial Quaker Holidays (or Lack Thereof)

An early Quaker meeting (courtesy of U.S. History)
We're just about halfway through what we call Easter Week, the commemoration of the days before Christ's resurrection. Nowadays Americans celebrate Easter in different ways—some with egg hunts, Easter baskets, and springy-looking outfits; others with an emphasis only on the events of the week in AD 30; others with a combination of the two; and others yet with no observation at all. Really, in that regard, not much has changed in the last two hundred and fifty to three hundred years.

Our colonial ancestors also had various ways of celebrating Easter, although there were certainly no plastic eggs, chocolate rabbits, or people in bunny costumes like we see today. For most Christian colonists, Easter was a holy time that brought additional church services during the week and a lamb dinner after the Resurrection Sunday service. However, some Christians, namely the Society of Friends—or Quakers—didn't celebrate it at all.

In the colonial Quaker community (and in the lives of some contemporary Quakers), days in general were handled differently from that of non-Quakers. The common names used for days of the week and months of the year were eschewed due to their original pagan origins; instead, January was First Month, February was Second Month, Sunday was First Day, Monday was Second Day, and so on. As well, holy days (or holidays) were not celebrated at all. This included birthdays, anniversaries, and religious and non-religious holidays. In the Quaker mind, every day of the year was considered holy unto God, not just special days and times. According to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's 1806 Rules of Discipline, "the observation of public fasts, feasts, and what they term holy days; or such injunctions and forms as are devised in man's will for divine worship; the dispensation to which outward observations were peculiar, having long since given place to the spiritual dispensation of the gospel." For the colonial Quaker, every day was worthy of celebration.

While most of us would likely say we prefer celebrating holidays over not doing so, we probably would also agree that there's truth in considering all days holy unto God. Every day is indeed a gift from Him, and research has shown that people are happier when they embrace gratitude as a way of life.

This week we are especially thankful, as we celebrate Jesus' death on the cross to save us from our sins. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV).