Tea Party Winners: Debra E. Marvin's winner is: Kathleen, Jennifer Hudson Taylor's winner of her MacGregor Legacy series is Chris Granville and second winner is Britney Adams for the plaque and For Love or Country novel:, Angela K. Couch's winner is: , Carrie Fancett Pagels's winner per random.org is Beverly Duell-Moore for a copy of BCB and second winner for colonial goodies is: Carrie Moore Gould, Denise Weimer's winner: Janet Marie Dowell, Shannon McNear's winner is: Adriann Harris, Pegg Thomas's winner is: Susan C

Friday, June 29, 2012

Celebrating Independence Day!

As we get ready to commemorate Independence Day, I hope you all are celebrating the freedoms we have as a country. One of these being the freedom of speech and the ability to write without censor, and this we can do every day. Huzzah! Sometimes I shudder at the the things that are allowed to be in print, yet by that same freedom I am allowed to write and read what I will. And where would we be had the Declaration of Independence been not penned?

Did you know that the legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain actually occurred on July 2nd?

In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote:
"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Adams was correct about the celebration, although the day chosen as the anniversary, as we know, is July 4th which after debating and revising the Declaration of Independence,  the congress approved it.

"Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions -- The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world, that a free man contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."
George Washington, 1776

Please click on this link if you would like to revisit my post from last year
 that includes an inspiring video from the film John Adams.

But before you go, please let us know how you are celebrating your independence as a writer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Post - Julian Charity of Shirley Plantation on Slavery in Colonial Times

Our guest post today is by Julian Charity, Historian for Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia.  Julian also has a new book release that we will be giving away to one lucky visitor this week.  We will be reviewing his book, about war at Shirley Plantation from the American Revolution, soon.

Slavery at Shirley Plantation 

by Julian Charity

Plantations in the New World supplied the English empire with an abundance of tobacco.  Cultivation of tobacco was labor intensive and cost prohibitive unless it is produced in large quantities. In order to keep the cost down and the production quantity up, indentured servants and slaves provided an economical labor force.  With indentured servants and slaves, the plantations became the economic backbone of the English empire.

The first record of servants at Shirley Plantation dates to 1616 when John Rolfe documented that Captain Isaac Madison commanded 25 men in planting and curing tobacco. These men were all white and indentured servants, also called indentures. Indentured servants were the original labor force at Shirley as well as in the rest of the English colonies. Indentured servants were people of various races who were contractually obligated to become laborers for a specified period of time in exchange for debt repayment, food, lodging, transportation to the colonies, and the teaching of a trade. Indentured servants were brought from Africa, the Caribbean islands, Scotland, Ireland, and England. In some of the British colonies of New England, servitude took the form of apprenticeships, in which an individual was a servant in exchange for learning a craft. In Virginia and throughout the southern colonies, where the economy was primarily agricultural, most indentured servants were field hands who tended tobacco fields. Though indentured servitude sounded appealing, the lives of these men and women were very difficult. They faced harsh punishments for petty crimes and transgressions against their masters. Penalties included whipping, hanging, shooting, and even burning the indenture alive. Masters could extend servants contracts and they had little recourse, legal or otherwise.

Africans first arrived in Virginia in 1619. The majority of these Africans likely became indentured servants though records from this era were unclear regarding their fates. The first documented African slave in Virginia came in 1640. John Punch, an African indentured servant, ran away from his master and a Virginia court ordered that Punch’s punishment be a lifetime of service to his master. In 1622, records for Shirley Plantation first mention an African or islander when documents indicated that eleven men including “One Negar,” had died since April.

Until Virginians committed to slave labor, indentured servants comprised the majority of the workforce.  Edward Hill I, the first Hill Carter family member to live at Shirley, probably took part in the indentured servant system. He imported 43 people in 1661. These people were likely indentures because the indentured servant system was more cost-effective and practical than the African slave system.

In The Making of New World Slavery:  From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800, Robin Blackburn argued that indentured servants were a better investment until the end of the 1600s for several reasons. The high mortality rate of new arrivals to the New World was a contributing factor. An indentured contract may have only called for three or four years of service, but if the person only lived three or four years, then investing in more servants and fewer slaves was more cost efficient. White indentures were more popular because their masters knew their language and their work habits. Credit for purchasing servants was more easily received when buying white indentured labor (Blackburn 241-242). By the end of the seventeenth century, these issues became irrelevant and slaves began replacing indentures.

Bacon’s Rebellion in 1675 was a major contributing factor to the demise of the indentured servant system. Former and current indentured servants supported Nathaniel Bacon in his uprising. Colonial elite no longer favored the indentured servants after their collaboration with Bacon. Still in need of inexpensive labor, the importation of slaves to the colonies increased.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Julian's book.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Guest Review by Marian Baay of Veil of Pearls by MaryLu Tyndall

Barbour Publishing, (July, 2012)
Guest Review by Marian Baay

5 stars *****

I think MaryLu Tyndall gets better with each book I read. I was really blown away by this awesome story!

Adalia is young woman with a quarter Negro blood. Although she looks 100% white, she's considered a slave. She has been planning to escape her abusive master for years. One day she actually runs away and starts a new life in Charleston. She finds a position with a local doctor. The doctor sends her to the Rutledge Plantation to tend their slaves. There she meets the two Rutledge brothers—wealthy, spoiled and bored men.

The youngest brother, Morgan, is attracted to Adalia and is trying to woo her. Adalia tries to keep him on a distance, because she knows who she is and she doesn't belong to Charleston society. Morgan doesn't give up and finally she agrees to come with him to a party. More parties and social events will follow and the two are falling in love.

One jealous lady—who has her sights on Morgan—is trying to ruin Adalia. She's starting to dig in Adalia’s past. Will she find out who Adalia really is?

Morgan's father doesn't agree with a courtship of Morgan and a common woman. He's threatening to disown Morgan. What is more important to Morgan—his wealth or Adalia?

This was an awesome read. It had me in tears and smiles at times—it's my condition for a good book! It was so touching and well written I hated to see it end. I highly recommend this book. Well done, MaryLu!

*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my review copy.*

You can purchase MaryLu's books at CBDAmazon and other bookstores.

Bio: Marian Baay is a lector for Kok Publishers in the Netherlands. She is the international reviewer for Overcoming Through Time - With God's Help.

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email address to be entered to win a copy of MaryLu's July 1 release!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

George Whitefield, "God Convert You"

George Whitefield
"God convert you more and more every hour of the day; God convert you from lying in bed in the morning; God convert you from lukewarmness; God convert you from conformity to the world!" 
George Whitefield

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2

To convert means to change from one state to another. The life of a Christian is one of endless growth. God, through His Holy Spirit works in your heart to change you to be more Christ-like...if you are willing to let Him.

How often we get caught up in the things of this world. We watch TV until all hours of the night so that we are too tired to rise before work and spend time with God. We allow our days to be filled with the pursuit of wealth and recreation, claiming that tomorrow we'll witness of God's work to the person dying today.

We listen to those who tell us the Bible is no longer relevant, that we cannot know God, that there are many ways to heaven. And because we listen, we become ignorant of God's love and our purpose in life, which is to bring Him pleasure and glory. We, in the end, conform to the world.

We need men like George Whitefield, moved by the Holy Spirit, to stand up and speak truth--God's truth, which is absolute and worth discovering. We need to stop listening to those who wish to tickle our ears with their false ideas of God, appealing to our flesh rather than to our spirit.

How can we do this?

First, be certain of our salvation. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again so that you might have life? Have you fully committed your life to Him?

Second, we must block off a time each day to spend with God, in His Word, in worship, and in prayer. Then guard this time with great fierceness. Don't let anyone or anything steal it away from us.

Third, we must determine to search the Scriptures daily to know God and all He wants us to know. Search God's Word, comparing Scripture with Scripture, studying it as a whole with each section a part of something greater than itself. The Bible is the only book we need. Yes, there are plenty of good study books that can be of help, but we don't want to approach God solely through another man. Would you approach your husband through another woman? We can approach God on our own. We must seek Him on our own with boldness.

Fourth, we must convert. In other words, we must put in practice what we learn from our study of God's Word. We must let His Word and His Holy Spirit work mightily within us so that we can live the new life He has given us to its fullest, with an ever-increasing intimacy with our Saviour.

Do you have a personal Bible study, separate from that of another's work?

Friday, June 22, 2012

America's Standing Armies by Susan F. Craft

American Continental Army

American colonists considered themselves free-born Englishmen and did not want to accept less. They acknowledged the king’s authority, but a limited authority based on their individual colony charters, and they denied Parliament’s authority to regulate their internal affairs.
From the 1700s to early 1800s the colonies were self-governing republics. Things changed in 1763 after the French and Indian War, which brought large British armies to the colonies. Also, the British government decided that the colonies should share in the enormous cost of that war.

The Americans hated and feared standing armies, and part of the reasons for the Revolutionary War lay in the fact that King George III quartered his redcoats in private homes, suspended charters and laws, and imposed martial law.
George Washington favored a
standing army.

George Washington, who had to deal with thirteen colonial militias and the Continental Army defended the idea of a standing army. In September 1776 he wrote to the Continental Congress: “To place any dependence upon Militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender Scenes of domestick life; unaccustomed to the din of Arms; totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill, which being followed by a want of confidence in themselves, when opposed to Troops regularly train'd, disciplined, and appointed, superior in knowledge and superior in Arms, makes them timid, and ready to fly from their own shadows....  The Jealousies of a standing Army, and the Evils to be apprehended from one, are remote; and, in my judgment, situated and circumstanced as we are, not at all to be dreaded; but the consequence of wanting one, according to my Ideas, formed from the present view of things, is certain, and inevitable Ruin; for if I was called upon to declare upon Oath, whether the Militia have been most serviceable or hurtful upon the whole; I should subscribe to the latter.” 

When the War for Independence ended, the government of the Confederation was faced with one gigantic problem—money—for foreign and domestic debts and for the back pay and pensions of soldiers.

Brigadier General Francis Marion,
SC militia

Although individual states preferred a militia, it was generally agreed that Congress must have the authority to raise and support standing armies to protect frontier settlements, the national government, and the nation when threatened by foreign powers. Even so, some Federal Convention representatives wanted to limit the size of the national standing army, but a vote rejected that motion.
Despite spirited debate and universal distrust of standing armies, most members of the Federal Convention wanted to strengthen the military powers of the general government and did so through Article I, Section 8:
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
Our present military organizational structure is a result of the National Security Act of 1947 that restructured the "War Department" into the "Department of Defense."
There are five military branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

The Army is the oldest U.S. Military service, officially established by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775.  The Air Force is the youngest military service, created in 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947. Prior to 1947, the Air Force was a separate Corps of the Army. The Navy was officially established by the Continental Congress in 1775 with the primary mission to maintain the freedom of the seas.  The Marines were officially established November 10, 1775, by the Continental Congress to act as a landing force for the US Navy. In 1798, however, Congress established the Marine Corps as a separate service. The US Coast Guard was originally established as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790. In 1915, it was reformed as the US Coast Guard, under the Treasury Department. In 1967, the Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Transportation.
Quotes from President Ronald Reagan who held a special place in his heart for the military:
“The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery.”
“If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. That’s the lesson of this century…”
“Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they've suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us. That is our duty. They have never let America down. We will not let them down.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oats for Me or My Livestock?

Greetings, my good friends. And for those who are visiting for the first time, I am Nathaniel Griffith and this is my humble farm here on Aquidneck Island in the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Please wait here while I get a measure of oats for my stallion.

What do you think of my plump grain? Not always have we been blessed with such good grain. When first I brought my family to this island I had but one horse, a milk cow, two beef cows and their calves, and five sheep with me from my father's farm near Boston (we were banished and our properties confiscated). In truth, we were blessed to have even that much livestock. They all fed upon what grass they could find and any undergrowth in the brush and woods.

Have you ever considered what it takes to grow this grain? Yea, it takes a bit of work. We came with only a small measure, not even enough to feed ourselves. I, my wife, and my sister worked to clear a small plot of land from the brush. We planted that small measure. 'Twas a dry year so twice a day we carried water from the brook down that path there to both the grain and the kitchen garden by the house. Through the summer we nurtured the grain, praying God might give us an abundant harvest, and He did. That first year the oats brought forth eighty-fold. This means eighty times more than what we seeded. Still that was less than eight bushels. The next year, I fear we had but thirty-fold. Hail had destroyed a good portion.

We labored with love to bring in that first crop. Myself, my wife, sister, and mother took one day to reap and bind the grain. Not a grain stalk was left standing, and we took great care when we threshed to not lose even a kernel. Each kernel was picked up from the threshing floor and the straw used for bedding, both for us and our animals.

Those first years the grain was not for our livestock but for ourselves. If we fed our horse every day for a year the measure of oats I just gave him, he would eat more than a hundred bushels. Those first few years we could not spare even a kernel for them. We ate what we could and saved some to plant each spring. In time, however, we continued to expand our cleared land and could grow more.

Yea, in time we were blessed to get eighty bushels of grain to an acre.  Indeed I'm told my grandfather only managed 8 or 9 bushels an acre in Wales nigh eighty years ago. I've heard tell of some here in the colonies getting even ninty bushels. I cannot think but that such a farmer was truly blessed by God.

Even today, however, I only feed grain to this stallion here during the breeding season. He needs the extra care at this time. But for the other livestock, our pasture suffices.

Look closely at the grass beneath your feet. You will see that there are a number of different plants, some clover, some timothy, and so on. This makes for good pasture and good livestock. This took years to grow and I had to import grass seed from England.

I wish you all Godspeed and may you count your many blessings today when you sit at your meal and enjoy the bread God has provided for you.

 A note from Lynn Squire:

I began to question how often bread was eaten by the early colonists. Growing up on a grain farm, I knew how hard we had worked to grow a crop--that with all the then-modern equipment, fertilizer, methodology, etc.

The early seventeenth century colonist did not eat a lot of wheat or oats (they ate nuts, berries, corn, meat and fish). They had a difficult time growing grain. While corn became a mainstay, even that wasn't as bountiful as it is today. I did find recorded where eighty-six bushels of corn was gleaned from one bushel of seed. A bushel of seed would cover approximately one acre of land. A bushel of corn weighs 56 lbs. One bushel could feed 10 people (the average household) for approximately 5 to 6 days.

Most farms were approximately fifty acres in New England. Livestock, buildings, kitchen gardens, pasture, etc. would be on those fifty acres.

The average acreage in England only produced about eight to nine bushels of grain to the acre. A lot of acreage would be needed to grow enough wheat, for example, to feed a family for a year. In time the colonists seemed to do better than those farmers in England.

I experimented in our backyard. Even though I would not have the same variety of grain the colonists would have had (which would be of poor quality than our present varieties), I scattered the grain on the soil in a manner similar to how the colonists would have. Yes my soil is different and the climate was different, but I felt it would still give me a feel for what the colonists would have experienced. Within a few months, I had first hand experience how little grain (grown from a handful of kernels) would grow in a small plot--not even enough to grind into flour for a loaf of bread.

Consider a few things. Rocks and trees and brush populated the land when the colonists arrived and needed to be cleared. I have memories of walking the fields to pick rocks and poison gophers. These were constant enemies of the farmer, as they would have been for the colonists.  The soil in most of New England was of poor quality. The birds would come. The mice would come. Floods and hail would come. Drought would come. As well as sickness. Even if the conditions were perfect, for those early colonists surviving on what they could grow on their farms would be difficult. How much more when you factor in nature.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Review by Pegg Thomas of "Fire Dragon's Angel" by Barbara Blythe

by Barbara Blythe
(White Rose Publishing, December 2010)

Review by Pegg Thomas

A charming tale of adventure and love in colonial times. I enjoyed this story with its twists and turns. The outcome was predictable (it is a love story after all) but how they got there was fun to discover.

Ceressa Quarles has loved Latimer Kirkleigh since she was a young girl. Through a twist of fate - and not of his choosing - she finds herself married to him to save her neck from a noose.

They sail from England to Virginia only to discover Latimer's niece, who he has been raising since her parents' death, has been kidnapped by Indians. Ceressa's first adventure involves more than she bargained for. Facing Indians, traitors to the crown, and a husband who doesn't want her, she stubbornly refuses to give up and return to England.

Well worth the read and suitable for any age. I highly recommend this book.

Bio: Pegg Thomas lives in Michigan where she farms and writes contemporary and historical Christian fiction.  You can find her online at:

Ransom for Many
Note:  Barbara Blythe, a Colonial American Christian Writers member, has a new release out Ransom for Many. Barbara's page at White Rose Publishing (click here.) Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of either of Barbara's books as an ebook.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Colonel Samuel Harris, Preaching Amidst Oppostion

"Glory! Glory! Glory!" 
Colonel Samuel Harris, 1758.

Samuel Harris shouted these words when roused from his prayer, having just been converted to a deep conviction that true salvation came from faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for payment for his sins, and of the need of a new birth for all men.

A prominent member of society and the militia, Colonel Samuel had discovered he was a hopless sinner. On route to perform official visits at forts in Virginia, he stopped by a small house where Baptists Joseph and William Murphy were preaching. Not wanting to draw attention to himself (being in military dress), he sat behind a loom. But God found him.  Convicted of his need for Christ to be his Saviour, Colonel Harris fell before the Lord in prayer. 

Soon this man began to preach the gospel to the soldiers and officers of Fort Mayo. He continued to preach, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person who would listen. He devoted his wealth and property to preaching, giving his new residence over to use of public worship and chosing to live in his old home.

The Dunking of David Barrow and Edward Mintz
As his ministry grew, so did the persecution he experienced. In Culpeper he was driven from the pulipt by a mob with sticks, whips and clubs. In Orange County he was pulled down and dragged by hair and leg. He was arrested and ordered not to preach, but this didn't stop him. He and his companion, James Reed, started as many as two hundred churches.

This man mirrored the life of the Apostle Paul.

"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." II Corinthians 11:23-27

I wonder how many of today's evangelists would be willing to endure the persecutions these men endured. The doctrine of appealing publicity and marketing is pounded into the hearts and minds of writers and speakers alike, but is that pleasing to God? These men had one message: God's plan of salvation through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as payment for our sins. They adamantly preached that there is no other way to come to God.

Why were these men willing to endure such sufferings? For the love of Christ and of man, and for the glory of God.

In Paul's words:
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. 

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

"But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not....

"And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for the furtherance and joy of faith;" Philippians 1:19-25
I know that my own forthrightness in speaking the Gospel has caused others to scorn me, to tell me I shouldn't be so bold. However, what persecution I have experienced is the kiss of flowers compared to what preachers, such as Colonel Samuel Harris, endured. I must follow their example and continue in what God has called me to do. 

How about you? Are you listening to the Holy Spirit's prompting you to serve Him with the same fervor as these great men of God?

Friday, June 15, 2012


Every June 14th, the United States of America celebrates Flag Day, a day we associate with Betsy Ross. Yet, a controversy remains to this day as to the veracity of the story of Betsy Ross being commissioned by George Washington to sew the first American flag. Whether the account is true or merely legend, we know some very interesting things about this remarkable woman.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Griscom was born January 1, 1752 into a fourth generation American Quaker family in Philadelphia. She was the eighth in a family of seventeen children. Her father and grandfather were both well known carpenters. Betsy received an extensive education in a Quaker public school where she was also was taught the trade of sewing. She was apprenticed to work in a local upholstery shop where she met John Ross, another apprentice and the son of an Anglican assistant rector at Christ Church. Quakers did not take kindly to inter-denominational marriages, which may have been the reason why twenty-one year old Betsy and John eloped in 1773, causing a permanent separation from her family.

In 1775 John and Betsy Ross began their upholstery business. However, with no support from the Quaker community, with significant competition, and a war that was making access to needed fabrics difficult, their business faltered. John joined the Pennsylvania militia but died in January 1776 as a result of wounds he received in an ammunition explosion.

“The Birth of Our Nation’s Flag”
By Charles Weisgerber
Depicting the alleged meeting of the Committee of Three
It’s been suggested that Betsy did some tailoring for George Washington, and in May or June of 1776 she claimed to have met with the Committee of Three (George Washington, Robert Morris and John Ross) who brought her a design for the flag. The controversy started later, stemming from the story of the flag’s origin being relayed by one of her grandsons, William Canby, at a meeting of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1870, ninety-four years later. Many historians have researched his account through government records and the three men’s personal letters or diaries and found no verification of the meeting or of the commissioning of the creation of a national flag. Perhaps adding to the confusion, Betsy Ross was known to have made some ship’s colors for Pennsylvania state ships. In 1909, William Canby’s brother published a book to support the story of Betsy’s tie to the creation of the first American flag.

After John’s death, Betsy remarried in June of 1777 and had two daughters with sea captain Joseph Ashburn. During that winter she was forced to house British solders in her home. Betsy’s husband was captured by the British, sent to prison in England for treason, and died there in 1782. News of his death was brought to Betsy by another imprisoned sailor and friend, John Claypoole, whom she married in 1783. He passed in 1817.

Many people believe that the legend of Betsy Ross creating the first American flag was fabricated (no pun intended).  They argue that not much was known or promoted about the important role women played during the time of our nation’s founding and this narrative would add that dimension to our national story. Fortunately, in later years, much has come to light about our Founding Mothers, many women who valiantly served our country in various capacities during the Revolutionary period.

Betsy Ross House
 Philadelphia, PA
Whether the legend of Betsy Ross is true or not, we do know that this amazing woman was well educated, an entrepreneur who continued in business during and after the death three husbands until she was seventy-five years old.

She passed away in 1836 and is buried adjacent to the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, where it held its first Flag Day celebration on June 14, 1891.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Unexpected Revolutionary Hero

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Sometimes heroes are not obvious. And certainly no one would envision a Quaker midwife taking on the role of military spy.

Yet that is exactly what Lydia Darragh did in 1777. Displaying admirable courage in a critical hour, she saved the day for General George Washington and his troops in December of that year. Her courageous action brought victory for the Continental forces, changing the tide for the American Army after several discouraging defeats. It was an unexpected change for Lydia, who was born into a Quaker pacifist family in Dublin, Ireland in 1728.

Mrs. William Darragh, who was born Lydia Barrington, emigrated to America with her husband in 1754. The couple made their home in Philadelphia. As members of the Quaker religion, they settled into the large community of fellow believers in that city.

As their faith taught, they preferred peacemaking when the American Revolution began, refusing to become involved in the fighting. The Darragh’s oldest son, Charles, however, left his religious teaching and joined with the Continental forces. When the British took over the city of Philadelphia in September of 1777, Lydia seemed to have a change of heart about remaining neutral as well.

Whether it was a mother’s heart with a son in the Army that piqued her concern or her worries in general about the American cause is unclear. But one thing is certain: Her involvement with a pacifist church made her appear to be harmless to the British cause. But nothing could have been further from the truth.

British General Sir William Howe made his headquarters in a confiscated house directly across the street from the Darragh home. Soon after, British Major John Andre pounded on Lydia’s door demanding that the family evacuate. Lydia, the mother of five, had already sent her youngest two children to stay with relatives for safety. She still had two children at home and begged the major to allow her to stay, as she had nowhere else to go. A distant cousin, who was a British officer, worked in the enemy headquarters across the street. He arranged for Lydia to stay in her home as long as the British could use one of the Darragh’s rooms for military meetings. Lydia agreed.

On the evening of December 2, several British officers, including Howe, arrived at her home and ordered the whole family to retire to bed early. But Lydia only pretended to sleep. While the others slumbered in their rooms, Lydia quietly hid in a closet adjacent to the room where the officers met. Her heart in her throat, she heard them planning a surprise attack on Washington and his soldiers at a place called Whitemarsh. That was where Lydia’s son was stationed with the Continental Army! As the meeting was wrapping up, she quietly snuck back to her room.

Major Andre came to her room and knocked on her door. She feigned being in a deep sleep and ignored the first two attempts by the major to awaken her. By the third knock, she managed to look rumpled and sleepy as she answered. Their meeting was over, the officer told her. She pretended to return to her slumber, but she did not sleep. Lydia lay awake in bed, planning how to get the word to Washington.

The next day, Lydia took an empty twenty-five-pound flour sack to the British headquarters to request a pass to leave the city. She needed flour, she said, and she wished to visit her two youngest children as well. Her cousin became the one who gladly signed a pass for his Quaker relative. I can just see her smiling gratefully for this opportunity to purchase much-needed food for her family.

But any smiling would be short-lived as time was becoming critical. The planned attack on the American troops would take place the next day.

Mrs. Darragh carried the flour sack but, more importantly, the critical message warning of the impending assault. She had tucked the handwritten message in a folder for her sewing needles. Trudging several miles through the snow, she located the Rising Sun Tavern, a known hang-out for Patriots.

An entry in a journal by Elias Boudinot, Commissary of Prisoners, who was dining at the tavern that night, relates this incident:

  “After dinner, a little poor-looking insignificant old woman came in and solicited leave to go into the country and buy some flour. While we were asking some questions, she walked up to me and put into my hands a dirty old needle book, with various small pockets in it.”

The woman left. When Boudinot opened the last pocket, he found a message: General Howe was coming out the next morning with 5,000 men and thirteen cannons.

The next day, the “surprise” British attack against the American forces was thwarted. All because Lydia made a decision to be brave and risk her own life for the lives of others. Although she was later questioned by Major Andre about her possible involvement in spying, Lydia managed to convince him that she had no idea what he was talking about. She had been in a deep sleep the night of the officer’s meeting, after all. He completely believed her tale.

Lydia Darragh’s wartime spying came to light in 1827 when her daughter, Ann, published her mother’s story. In 1877, some questioned the veracity of Ann’s written narrative—until Boudinot’s memoirs were published in 1909, lending credibility to the tale of the courageous Lydia Darragh. Her treasonous actions could have led to her execution. Instead, her mother’s heart led her to unexpected bravery.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Legacy of Deer Run Review

The year was 1800.

A young man makes weapons for the defense of America, still a fledgling nation. He also protects his heart from the allure of a young woman who seems so far above his station in life that he cannot win her. The lady fights her own war against loneliness and grief. Despite her finery and airs, she is drawn to the young armory worker who is distant yet disarming. 

Love is not the only entanglement. The nation's enemies are afoot. They creep within the very walls where America's defenses are being forged. Who are they? When will they strike? Who will survive their terrorism?

Intrigue of the heart and intrigue of the times are only part of this compelling story - Book 3 of the Deer Run Saga. This series finale is a gripping mix of romance and deception, faith and forgiveness, transgression and trial.

The back cover copy for The Legacy of Deer Run  by author Elaine Marie Cooper is among the best I've ever read, whetting the reader's historical appetite without any spoilers, even withholding the characters' names and making the reader long to discover them. Though this novel is best appreciated when read as a part of the series, each book stands alone beautifully and doesn't leave the reader feeling something is amiss.

The strengths of this third and final novel are many: a large, colorful cast of characters. Sizzling romantic encounters. Sound spiritual truths. The early American period springs to life with rich detail and authentic period language on every page. Cooper paints a vivid picture of the repercussions of unforgiveness and unwed pregnancy in a third generation, handling these subjects with sensitivity and skill. If you've read The Road to Deer Run and The Promise of Deer Run and fear you'll miss these characters in book 3, rest assured they are finely woven within this finale and have a strong thread all their own. I heartily recommend this historical and look forward to learning what the author is working on next...

Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run (Finalist in Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Religious Fiction, Honorable Mention in Romance at 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival) and The Promise of Deer Run (Romance Winner for 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival, Finalist in Religious Fiction for Foreward Review Book of the Year). Cooper is also a contributing writer for Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson.

Giveaway: Elaine is giving away a copy of her new book to one of our CQ readers.  Leave a comment for a chance to be entered!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jonathan Edwards' Sweetly Conversing with Christ

Jonathan Edwards
"...a calm, sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of this world; and sometimes a kind of vision, or fixed ideas and imaginations, of being alone in the mountains or some solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ and wrapped and swallowed up in God."
Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

Jonathan Edwards grew up in a highly religious environment. The son of a minister and grandson of another, his home held an air of religious fervor and serious study. However, not until the end of his college years did he experience a new life in Christ.

When I read the above excerpt from his diary I immediately related. When I look over the storms of my life, I found the same sweet abstraction in my times alone with God. This is the beauty, the "mystic rapture" of an intimate relationship with my Saviour. It isn't something man can understand. You can't dissect it and devise a scientific formula to conjure up the experience.

The "calm, sweet abstraction of soul" belongs to those who experience new life in Christ. When we, as born again believers, turn our imaginations from the world to Christ, we find ourselves engulfed with His love and "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."

I run to this place each morning, before the sun's rays hit my house. There I open my Bible, close my eyes in prayer and focus on my Lord Jesus Christ. He meets me. I thank Him for the blessings He's given me and rejoice over His grace and mercy extended to me. I let my spirit fill with the knowledge of His love and my ever-increasing understanding of who He is. He talks to me through His Word and His Holy Spirit, blessing me with His wisdom and insight into my life and the trials I face, and He lets me know He, in His Sovereign Grace, will be with me through the day, fighting my battles for me, clearing the way for me to serve Him.

We dance, Him and I. No. Not likely do I get up and dance across the floor. I may wake up the household doing that. Our dance is the harmony that comes when I completely submit my will and my desires to Him. The dance is sweet, graceful, more beautiful than any other. It warms me with His love. It comforts me with His affection. It fills me with the knowledge that I am His and He is mine.

Yes, I agree with Jonathan Edwards. The new life I have found in Christ enables me to experience the "calm, sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of this world" and to enjoy "sweetly conversing with Christ and wrapped and swallowed up in God."

Have you experienced the same?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Medicine at Sea -- Not for the Squeamish!

The more I learn about doctoring on board a ship, the more I’m thankful I live in this day and age!  Much more than life on land, shipboard life was wrought with many dangers and diseases. And if the ship was a man-of-war or a pirate or privateer, they also had to endure battle from time to time.  Injuries ranged from gunshots, punctures, slashes, dismemberment, to scorching burns from cannons.

Aside from battle, a wooden ship was a floating bucket of germs and disease. Rats, cockroaches, weevils, lice, and lifestock infected every corner. Sailor's clothing was often damp, making it more likely to harbor disease. Sunburn, heat exhaustion, sun stroke, hypothermia, exposure, and frostbite were just a few of the normal problems each sailor faced.

Diseases such as typhus, cholera, yellow fever, or bubonic plague had a nasty habit of invading ships where large numbers of people were gathered together in confined places  Scurvy killed more sailors than any other disease, natural disasters, and fights combined. Historians conservatively place the number of deaths at more than 2,000,000 between Columbus’ first voyage to the New World and the mid-nineteenth century.

In 1596 William Clowes, an English surgeon at sea, described how his men suffered from scurvy:
Their gums were rotten even to the very roots of their teeth, and their cheeks hard and swollen, the teeth were loose neere ready to fallout…their breath a filthy savour. The legs were feeble and so weak, that they were not scarce able to carrie their bodies. Moreover they were full of aches and paines, with many bluish and reddish staines or spots, some broad and some small like flea-biting. (Brown, 34)

Aside from battle, most injuries occurred from simple accidents. Scurrying up and down the rigging as the ship swayed back and forth often caused sailors to lose their footing and fall, resulting at best with a fractured skull, at worst death. Falling or snapping rigging, shifting yards, and accidents with knives and other tools also caused severe injuries.

Then, of course, an actual battle normally flooded sick bay with wounded men. The worse of them needed the dreaded, amputation

The process involved cutting off the injured man’s clothing and applying a tourniquet. The surgeon then gave him a stick to bite down on.  Anesthetics had yet to be invented and contrary to belief, they weren’t given alcohol either. Only after the surgery were opiates or grog given for the discomfort.  Without going into details, the limb was sawed off and tossed in a bucket. Either hot tar was applied to the stump or it was cauterized with a hot iron to stop the bleeding. The tourniquet was removed and strips of linen lashed over the stump. If a wool stocking cap was available, this was also pulled over the stump. The entire operation took eight to ten minutes. The man’s chances of survival? Fifty-fifty.

A seaman aboard HMS Macedonian assisted during an operation.
We held [one man] while the surgeon cut off his leg above the knee. The task was most painful to behold, the surgeon using his knife and saw on human flesh and bones as freely as the butcher at the shambles.”

The Medicine Chest
Every ship at sea was in dire need of a medicine chest. In fact, the medicine chest was considered more valuable than a doctor. If a doctor was not on aboard, the captain simply designated someone to tend to the patients, but the medicine chest they could not do without!

John Woodall’s The Surgeons Mate, first published in 1617 was a shipboard manual that listed instruments and medicines found in the chest as well as special instructions for emergencies and ailments.  There were 281 remedies listed, which consisted of popular herbs of the day, rosemary, mint, clover, sage, thyme, angelica, comfrey, blessed thistle, juniper, hollyhock, absinthe and pyrethrum.

Here’s a list of tools and supplies normally found in medicine chest
Cauterizing irons
Spatulas for drawing out splinters and shot
Grippers for extracting teeth
Stitching quill and needles
Clouts (soft rags)
Cupping glasses,
Blood porringers
Chafing dishes
Mortar and pestle
Weights and scales

These medicine chests were so valuable and sought after by ships that Blackbeard himself blockaded the port of Charleston just to get one in exchange for prisoners. The going rate for a medicine chest of the day was  between 300-400 pounds!

Remedies or medicines had to be concocted on the spot. Normally the medication consisted of a curative agent, water or oil, flavoring, if swallowed, and a compound used to deliver the medicine (like a pill or ointment).

Here’s a list of ailments and their remedies. I think you’ll find some of them most amusing!

  • Vomiting, hiccups, stomach ache --- cinnamon water ,licorice juice, peppermint water 
  •  Urinary problems, fevers – spirits, salts and tinctures like salts of wormwood, vinegar and quicksilver
  • To close up a wound, or as a varnish on a violin – Dragon’s blood, the resin made from the agave and rattan palm
  •  Malaria – quinine bark
  •  Headache – Chamomile flowers
  •   Mucus – syrup from vinegar of squills with sugar and honey
  •  Skin wounds – oil of St. John’s Wort
  •  Fear of water, bites from serpents, mad dogs, and creeping things – Methridatum – an opiate
  •  Syphilis – apply poultice made of frogs, “earthworms, viper’s flesh, human fat, wine, grass from northern India, lavender from France, chamomile from Italy, white lead and quicksilver”
  •  And my personal favorite! Wounds from battle – apply poultice made of “burnt earthworms, dried boar’s brain, pulverized Egyptian mummy, crushed rubies, bear’s fat, and moss from the skull of hanged man which had been collected from the gibbet at moonrise with Venus ascending.”
And get this, the plaster was not applied to the wound but to the sword that sliced him!.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

If I Owned a Colonial Home....

I would decorate it with Colonial household items. I can imagine the Colonial American housewife took as much, if not more, pleasure in setting up her home with practical, useful, and beautiful items. She took pride in her tea service and washbowl and pitcher. She cherished her handmade quilts, and took special care of any porcelain chinaware she was fortunate to own.

Here are a few examples of what you might find in a Colonial House.

Balsalt was a hard black glass stoneware manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood from about 1768.

Cauliflower ware: Sometime in the 1760s, a potter named William Greatbach created cauliflower tureens, cabbage bowls, lettuce pots, pineapple teapots and stands. Josiah Wedgwood did the glazing.

Salt Glazed Earthenware

Jasper Ware was created and manufactured by Josiah Wedgewood. It has a fine grain and is unglazed.

Do you have any of these in your collection. Share with us at Colonial Quills your favorites.

Rita Gerlach
Dusk to Dawn Historical Fiction

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tea Party for Elaine Marie Cooper and J. M. Hochstetler

It is our pleasure to host another Colonial Quills Tea Party in honor of our special guests, authors Joan Hochstetler and Elaine Marie Cooper.  Elaine has a new release and Joan has re-released her first three books!  Congrats, ladies!!!

Won't you join us today at Nellis's Tavern in New York's beautiful Mohawk Valley to enjoy tea and scones and other simple but delicious fare as we discover more about these ladies and their writing experiences. Enjoy good cheer, giveaways.... and Welcome!
Books by J.M. Hochstetler: Daughter of Liberty, Native Son, Wind of the Spirit, and The Crucible (soon to be released.)

Books by Elaine Marie Cooper: the Deer Run Saga The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run, and her newest release, The Legacy of Deer Run.

Nellis Tavern, King's Highway (NYS Route 5 East, St. Johnsville, Mohawk Valley, NY) Built in 1749 as a residence for Christian Nellis, this building originally faced the Mohawk River and the King's Highway. As early as 1783, it had evolved into a public Tavern, and by 1801, included a mercantile. Nellis Tavern has some excellent examples of early American folk art stencils. The Tavern is being restored under the auspices of the Palatine Settlement Society.

GIVEAWAYS: One of each author's books will be given away at the end of this week.  Leave a comment and your email address to enter the contest.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tools of the Trade - The Perfect Moment in Time

by Roseanna M. White

When coming up with an idea for a historical, many of us get our first burst of inspiration from an actual historical event or setting. Something we read about or see on a documentary, something that spurs that "what if . . . ?" idea. Sometimes it's something we see at a museum or historical site, or even on a drive.

When that's how inspiration strikes, it's easy to find that perfect time frame to set a book in--it's already determined by real events and people. Oh, we still have to research--online, in books, firsthand--but the frame is already set up, and we're then just selecting the perfect scene to paint within it.

But sometimes our inspiration comes from a more nebulous idea--a character, for instance, or perhaps someone in a given profession that could have lived during a pretty vast stretch of decades. When that happens, we have to figure out where to put them--and that can be a challenge.

When I've found myself in that situation, I've tried a few different means of determining my precise time period. I've done Google searches for years and found timelines that include the most important events worldwide. I've tried looking up events I knew were somewhere in the general neighborhood and seeing if they could fit in with my idea. I've tried looking up people it would be cool for my historical characters to interact with, or when given things were invented.

But what I've found works best takes me waaaaay back to my middle school education. Remember the definition of "setting"? It's time + place. Pretty interesting that it's not one or the other, right? It's the combination, because as any astrophysicist worth his neutrons can tell you, you can't change one without altering the other.

So assuming I already know where want something to be set--which I usually do--researching that place helps me pinpoint the exact months during which I'll want to set my story. Looking up the City of New York during the Revolution, for example, told me that Ring of Secrets would have to take place between November 1779 and October 1780. Refreshing myself on the history of Annapolis right after the Revolution made it clear that Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland would have to span that time between November 1783 and March 1784.

Why? Because that's when things happen where my people are.

Simple, but effective. =) For more detailed discovery, I usually get more specific in my places-search. For instance, I recently read up on the history of the College of William & Mary, which helped me define some plot points for a sequel I'm planning. When I can find such information, I'll look up a specific house or building that plays into the story and note its historical events (fires, repointings, rebuildings, additions, etc.), who owned it when, and what people of import visited it. For instance, by looking specifically at the church my characters would have attended in Annapolis, I discovered that the building had been torn down just before the Revolution and hadn't yet been rebuilt, so the congregation met in the old theater. Something I never would have known by researching the city in general!

You just never know when one of those details will provide exactly what you need to turn a general idea into an in-depth work of fiction. But it's exactly that sort of discovery that makes the job so much fun. =)


Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, the beauty of which inspired her to begin writing as soon as she learned to pair subjects with verbs. She spent her middle and high school days penning novels in class, and her love of books took her to a school renowned for them. After graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, she and her husband moved back to the Maryland side of the same mountains they equate with home.

Roseanna is the author of two biblical novels, A Stray Drop of Blood and Jewel of Persia, both from WhiteFire Publishing (www.WhiteFire-Publishing.com), Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland from Summerside Press, and the upcoming Culper Ring Series from Harvest House beginning in January 2013 with Ring of Secrets.

She is the senior reviewer at the Christian Review of Books, which she and her husband founded, the senior editor at WhiteFire Publishing, and a member of ACFW, Christian Authors Network, HisWriters, and Colonial American Christian Writers.