Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Friday, February 23, 2018

John Adams - the HBO series

We're all about books here at Colonial Quills, and nobody more than me. I'm not a TV person. I can't identify more than six or seven living actors. I haven't been to a movie theater in ... well ... let's just say it's been a while. 

My son is a history teacher and he often uses snippets of movies to help illustrate his lessons. On a total impulse, I picked up a DVD set of John Adams. I knew absolutely nothing about it, but my son's birthday was coming up and I thought he might like it. He LOVED it and he told me I needed to watch it.

He brought it home when he came for Christmas and I binge-watched the entire series in one day. One day! Me. Who doesn't watch TV. 

Why am I sharing this? Because if you love all things colonial, you should watch it too. The details are wonderful, from the clothing to the furnishings, it's amazing. The history is both well-researched and well-presented. I loved the portrayal of Abigail Adams. She's always been an interesting person to me and the actress - whoever she is - did a wonderful job. The same can be said of those who portrayed John Adams, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. 

It's not a book ... but it's worth your time to watch it.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Colonial Log Cabins in the South

Nancy Hart Cabin w saddle notching

In my upcoming novella, Across Three Autumns, part of the Backcountry Brides Collection releasing through Barbour in May (Backcountry Brides on Amazon), my heroine and her family live in a log cabin in Middle Georgia’s c. 1779 frontier. Due to frequent Indian attacks, Jenny White’s father Asa forted their house, constructing a rude stockade around the cabin and outbuildings. Since Jenny—the oldest of four—is unusually tall and strong like Nancy Hart, the Revolutionary War heroine who inspired her character, she helps with the heavier work and can defend from the lookouts with the family’s Brown Bess musket.
Nancy Hart cabin reconstruction

Since I wasn’t describing the more formal homes I’m familiar with, I needed a better grasp on what her home would have looked like.

  • Georgia woods used for log cabin construction included hardwoods, poplar, pine and cyprus, with cyprus more common in South Georgia. Settlers from Georgia’s Piedmont up to the Appalachians mostly used pine. Sometimes a settler might use poplar, which is lighter and easier to square, for the main beams, and pine for the rest of the house. 
    Elijah Clark cabin double pen reconstruction
  • Size of the cabin could range from 15x12 to 30x18, single or double pen.
  • Settlers might choose to make their homes hewn and squared on all sides or only on the inside, leaving the rounded logs visible from the outside. Men used broad axes to “skelp” logs and a crosscut saw to notch the ends.
  • When notching, a settler could choose between several styles: saddle, half dove tail, and full dove tail. The saddle notch was mostly used by Cherokee and Creek Indians, while European settlers favored the other styles because they locked the logs more firmly in place.
  • Cabin floors were often swept dirt or sand. If a constructed floor existed, it was customarily made of hewn and hand-split planks which were pegged to the floor joist, if hand-made nails were not available. The roof was applied of hand-cut wood shakes (oak, chestnut) and the chimney of stone. If stone was not available or the structure was more temporary, the chimney might be constructed of small logs fronted with mud (or “clay and stake”). In cold weather, animal skins or wooden shutters on wooden or leather hinges covered the windows.

Don’t you love the log cabin pictured on the front of Backcountry Brides? I admit, I’ve always had a penchant for these rustic homes. I love touring them, but I’m afraid living in one would require a LOT of adjustment!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Winter Tea Party

Welcome to the Winter Tea Party!

Thank you for joining us today as we celebrate the winter new releases of the Colonial Quill authors. It's always fun to gather together for a hot cup and a scrumptious bite...but of course, this time of year the travel can be tricky. So stay safely (and warmly) in your own home today, snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a steaming cup of your favorite drink, and don a digital party gown from your favorite era! (Please feel free to share images of your dress of choice on the Facebook Event page!)

First, help yourself to something hot to drink. Tea, or perhaps some mulled wine?

 And of course, a tea party isn't a tea party without some sweet! (Don't worry! Digital calories don't go to your hips.)

All settled? Great! Then allow me introduce our authors who are celebrating new releases in these cold winter months.

In order to be entered for the giveaways, just leave a comment below! (Be sure to include an email address so the authors can contact their winners!)

P E G G   T H O M A S

My story in A Bouquet of Brides is In Sheep's Clothing. This was a fun story for me to write. Yarrow Fenn is a spinner and a weaver in Colonial Connecticut. I'm a spinner, I've done some weaving, and my family has colonial roots in Milford, CT. There is also an orphan lamb in this story, and one of the things we raise here on our farm is sheep. You could say that there's a lot of "me" in this story!

And of course, I love the history. It was the Wool Act of 1699 that set up the events that happen in my story. King William III, in an effort to protect the thriving textile industry in England, signed a law that said colonist could not sell wool or cloth between the colonies. All sales must be to England. All sales would be taxed at the colonial port and taxed again at the English port. Then the wool or cloth would be made into garments and resold to the colonies, once again being taxed at both ports. The colonists couldn't afford to clothe their families! That dilemma sets up the conflict for my story.

In Sheep’s Clothing by Pegg Thomas (1702, Connecticut)
Peter Maltby might be all good looks and charm, working in the new mill fulling wool, but Yarrow Fenn fears he is the Crown’s agent in disguise who will destroy the only livelihood she has.
Subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my books, sales, and special giveaways, including a handspun, handknit shawl with every book release! The next shawl drawing will be May 31st for the Northern Lilacs shawl to celebrate the release of The Backcountry Brides collection.

T O D A Y ' S   G I V E A W A Y

Pegg will be giving away one signed copy of A Bouquet of Brides, complete with her story, In Sheep's Clothing to one winner inside the U.S. And the winner is BRENDA!


R O S E A N N A   M.   W H I T E

I'm so excited to welcoming Willa to the world in A Song Unheard! She was a stubborn character, LOL, but I had so much fun writing her story...and including my love of music into it. Though I play the piano and not the violin, it was a joy to dive into this music prodigy's mind and share one of the truths I've learned over the years: that music can be a way for us to reach out our souls to the Lord. Here's a bit about the story, and there's a giveaway too!
Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I--to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won--until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't--that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

Sign up for my newsletter to get sneak peeks and special content! Check out my website at www.RoseannaMWhite.com and buy signed books from me at www.RoseannaMWhite.com/shop.

Roseanna is giving away a signed print copy of A Song Unheard (or the first book in the series if you don't have it yet) to one winner with a U.S. address.

(This is Pegg nosing in on Roseanna's space to say that I've already read A Song Unheard and it's a MUST READ!)

T A M E R A   L Y N N   K R A F T

Red Sky Over America
Book 1, Ladies of Oberlin Series

I'm so excited to talk about my new release, Red Sky Over America. Here's a blurb.
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.


I'm giving away an Ebook of Red Sky Over America and a Godey's Fashions Coloring Book with wonderful fashions from the 1850s to one lucky winner. The winner is Joy.


G A B R I E L L E   M E Y E R

I'm thrilled to be here today chatting about Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers! If you're familiar with Seven Brides for Seven Texans, than you'll remember the fictional town of Hartville, Texas, which is where this collection is also set. I'm particularly excited about this continuity series, because it's about a company of Texas Rangers who are called into Hartville to take down a gang of outlaws! Each story follows one of the Rangers as they confront the outlaws and get tangled up with a woman who inadvertently foils (or helps!) their cause. The stories follow one another over the course of several months, until all the outlaws are brought to justice. I loved working with the ladies in this collection. So much talent in one book.

Here's a little bit about my story, The Ranger's Reward, which is the first story in the collection.

Texas Ranger Griffin Sommer stops to check on the young widow, Evelyn Prentis minutes before the Markham gang arrives at her farm needing a place to hide. Griff and Evelyn are forced to pretend they’re married to keep Griff’s identity a secret, but will Evelyn’s young son let the truth out before Griff can bring the gang to justice?

To preorder your copy of Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers, be sure to go here. Also, sign up for my newsletter to learn more about my upcoming releases and like my author page on Facebook to stay connected! I love hearing from readers.


Gabrielle will be giving away a signed print copy of Seven Brides for Seven Texans to one lucky winner! 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Token of Love Colonial America - Puzzle Purse Love Letters

Handwritten Valentines were popular in England and Western Europe from the 15th Century, a tradition that was brought to the American Colonies. But sometimes the lovelorn are at a loss for words. At such times, our Colonial friends might refer to English Letter-Writers, in book and pamphlet form, for advice in composing missives to their sweethearts. Among them, The Amorous Gallant's Tongue Tipp'd with Golden Expressions: or, the Art of Courtship Refined. "Valentines Writers" were also for Valentine's Day and other occasions when heartfelt sentiments were in order. Valentine Writers like The Young Man's Valentine (1797) and Every Ladies Own Valentine Writer (1798) were also perused for enjoyment of verse and witty prose. 


Ye sweet feather warblers that sing thro' the grove,
Convey me this letter to the hands of my love,
Which will case my fond heart with sorrow possess;
I am weary of roving and ne'er can take rest:
Oh now to my pray'r, I pr'y thee incline
And make her for ever my fair Valentine. 


The feather'd race together meet,
And all is harmony complete.
The tuneful blackbird and the thrull,
Make vocal every tree and bulb.
Like them in love my fair let's join,
And be my faithful Valentine. 


'Tis true I love you and with great respect,'Tis true I'm treated with a cold neglegt.
I thought thy frowns were but dissemblcd heat,
And all thy threatening looks an am'rous cheat.
As nurses oft seem to deny a kiss,
To make the fender suppliant steal the bliss;
So I believe'd thou didst abscond and flee,
Only to make me faster follow thee.
But now alas! 'tis earnest all I find,
And not pretended anger but design'd.
Relent dear maid soften that heart of thine,
And try to love your loving Valentine.

Houghton Library
Harvard University

The poems and verses inspired by or copied from Valentine's Writers were written on slips of paper or posted in a newspaper by suitors for Valentine's Day. Verses were also transcribed onto handcrafted love-letters that were folded into puzzle purses as love tokens. Introduced by Pennsylvania-German immigrants who called them liebesbrief (love-letter), the puzzles were embellished with beautiful water-colors in traditional fraktur style artwork.
These puzzle purse love tokens were created on a one foot square of "laid paper" (with laid lines from the paper mold) was folded into a square "purse." The delightful Valentine was decorated with verse and decoration on the exterior. Once fully opened, secret messages would be revealed inside and sometimes an additional token of love - a ring or a lock of hair. I remember making similar folded messages in my school days, unbeknownst to me that people had been creating them for centuries.

Please be sure to click on images to see full size view.

Center view - Houghton Library
May Heavenly Angles their swift wings display 
And be your guard in Every dangerous way.
In every state most happy may you be,
Now I am for Distant pray think of me.

Inside view -  Houghton Library

American Folk Art Museum, 1799
To Sarah Newlin

My Dear this heart that you behold / When you these leaves unfold
So my poor heat with love sick pain / Sore wounded is and breaks in twain.

1769 Georg Lang, Free Library of Philadelphia

Translation from German:
When I arrive, I will be here; when I brew, I make beer; when I bake, I make bread; when I die, I am dead as a mouse.

[in hearts, starting at bottom, going counter clockwise]
1. Yes, when I don’t see you, my darling, my heart is filled with dread and sorrow
2. And would at every moment spring apart in many thousand pieces.
3. I desire faithful love, wounded completely with right love.
4. For to love and not being loved back makes many a beautiful heart sad; but if both love, then two hearts are filled with joy.
5. My heart burns in the blaze of love, but it does not know how yours is doing. Is my heart like mine, then the love will persist.
6. My dear darling, our flames of love will come together with time.
7. Hold firmly on to your heart’s love, like the tree to his branches, and the grapevine to its vine; So I will surrender my heart to you.
8. My heart, your heart, one heart, without any joking. The 26th December 1769.

Pennsylvanian or New England 1790-1810 - Soothby's

As turns the needle to the pole
So my heart's fond inclin'd
To the bright magnet of my soul
And you my Valentine

VIEW MORE HERE: Valentine Love Token Puzzle Purses at Free Library of Philadelphia

Best-selling inspirational romance author Carla Gade writes adventures of the heart with
historical roots. With ten books in print, she is always imaging more stories and enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. A native New Englander, Carla writes from her home amidst the rustic landscapes of Maine. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla's great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at an historical museum, it's easier to connect with her online at https://www.facebook.com/CarlaOlsonGade/.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Nothing but Blood and Slaughter

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina
One cannot study the American Revolution for long before stumbling over the ugly reality of partisan conflict—family and neighbors divided by politics and loyalties and the necessity of war.

I say “necessity” because sides weren’t necessarily chosen by ideals, but whatever seemed best in order to protect one’s family and/or holdings. Sometimes it was a matter of whichever side offended a person the most, or how driven by vengeance one might be, as we saw in the case of William Cunningham.

Though the stance of the Tory has often been painted as that of a coward, often those who chose loyalty to the crown felt that rebellion was the coward’s
way, and irresponsible, if not outright ungodly. Scriptures such as Romans 13:1 seemed to them to point toward unconditional obedience to the king.

The Whigs, on the other hand, felt that King George overstepped his God-given authority. In fact, many of the Protestant groups, such as the Scots-Irish Presbyterians of the South Carolina backcountry, believed he was actually usurping the place of Christ in the Church, and for that reason alone should be resisted with utmost fervor. (Thus the Presbyterian Rebellion of 1780.) Add to that the insult of things such as the Stamp Act, which from the British perspective was merely to defray the mounting cost of defending the colonies from invaders (i.e., during the French and Indian War), and many saw the unrest in the colonies as a powder keg, ready to explode.

At the least, is it any wonder that in the absence of regional lines being drawn, as in the later War Between the States, the conflict turned so bitter between family and neighbors?

When the British launched the Southern Campaign from Savannah northward, they expected quick support and an easy quelling of the rebellion, but what they found was a mess of infighting and loyalties that swayed either way, depending upon the outcome of various battles. After the Siege of Charleston, however, they made a steady push into the Carolina backcountry that remained successful for a while, and were greatly encouraged by the complete rout of Continental forces during the Battle of Camden. General Horatio Gates of the Continental forces was later court-martialed for fleeing the battlefield, mostly ahead of his own troops, and General Nathanael Greene was given command in his place. When he arrived on the scene several months later, this normally unflappable former Quaker had this to say about the situation, and one can almost hear his exasperation:

Nothing but blood and slaughter has prevailed among the Whigs and tories, and their inveteracy against each other must, if it continues, depopulate this part of the country.

Greene’s concerns were well founded. At the least, the constant depredations from both sides led to much want and near famine. (And thus the title of one of my favorite resources on the Revolutionary War in the Carolinas.)

Tory Refugees by Howard Pyle
Such situations, where both sides devolve into mere taking vengeance back and forth, also make it very hard to delineate between a “right” side and a “wrong.” Patriotic Americans can appreciate afresh the freedom we enjoy while understanding at what bitter cost it came, and Christians can take it a step further and recognize that our country came to be, not necessarily by military strength or purity of cause, but by the very grace and mercy of God.

And I find it interesting, as a student of history, that not much has ever changed where human nature is concerned. Greene’s remarks about the partisan conflict in the Carolinas are echoed in the lyrics of a song from a much later, but similar conflict, this one between Catholic and Protestant in Ireland:

But centuries of hatred have ears that cannot hear.
An eye for an eye was all that filled their minds
And another eye for another eye till everyone is blind.
(“There Were Roses,” Tommy Makem)