Anniversary Tea Party winners: Shannon McNear's winner is carrie, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winner is Laurie Kilgore, Debra E. Marvin's -, Janet Grunst's winner is Caryl Kane - Denise Weimer's winner - Melissa M. for an e-book of The Witness Tree (contact Denise). Naomi Musch supplied a free download for everyone - Pegg Thomas's winner is Betsy Tieperman, Gabrielle Meyer's winner is Rory Lemond - Congratulations, all! Please private message your e-mail or mailing address to the authors.

Friday, July 10, 2020

THREE WEDDINGS . . . and some funerals

The third story in my Revolutionary War series, Setting Two Hearts Free, releases in early October. It begins in 1781, five years after A Heart For Freedom ends. It primarily follows the next generation of the Duncan and Stewart families.

The Revolutionary War is winding down, but many battles will still be fought until the peace is signed in 1783.  The story’s characters face numerous dangers, challenges, tragedies, and joys, which will include three weddings and some funerals.

In this post, let’s focus on the uplifting, weddings in Colonial Virginia, primarily amongst the middle class.

A little background on Virginia’s religious affiliation in the eighteenth century:

While there were Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, and Methodists in Virginia the colony was primarily Anglican, protected by law, supported through taxes, and run by vestries. Anglican clergy had to be ordained in England and they often ministered to several churches within their parish. In 1786, Virginia passed a statute and disestablished from the Church of England.

The wedding:

Before a marriage could take place, the couple needed to be twenty-one or have the permission of a parent or guardian. A license stating that no legal reasons restricted the marriage was required or banns had to be published for three consecutive meetings at the church.

Weddings were at times held in churches, but often they took place in the home of the bride
conducted by a minister. The minister would have performed the marriage ceremony from the 1750 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. Weddings were festive occasions that often took place during the colder months so as not to interfere with planting or harvesting. They were not held during Lent or right before Christmas. The groom presented his bride with a ring but he did not receive one in return.

Brides either made or purchased a new gown that would be suitable for other occasions following the wedding. A Christian bride might wear flowers in her hair or a bonnet, but no veil. They did not carry wedding bouquets White wedding gowns did not come into vogue until the Victorian era. A meal, including a wedding cake and toasts, followed the ceremony, and often dancing ensued. Honeymoons did not come into vogue until the 19th century.

Some couples who lacked permission or chose not to license or post banns married through “handfasting”, where they would hold hands and speak their vows before witnesses. These ceremonies were often conducted before blacksmiths where the smithies anvil symbolized the forging of their union.

I hope you will read about and enjoy the weddings in Setting Two Hearts Free.
For more information about Colonial weddings, you can read J. M. Hochstetler’s excellent post from 2011 at

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Old Barn, Old Tools ~ Farming in By-Gone Days

Sometimes looking into the more recent past gives a better glimpse of by-gone days. Join me on a brief tour of my family's old barn and a few old-time tools that were shaped from the past.

Barns were often built into hillsides so that the upper story could be at ground level, and equipment could be pulled right up to the doors and unloaded directly into the hayloft. Animals were housed in the cooler basement of the barn.

And now the tools...

In the video, I mistakenly referred to the piece at the end--our paper towel holder--as used in haying, but what I should have said was that it was for hauling ice blocks. Not really sure what I was thinking there.

I'm off to work on my bird feeder / bird bath project. Thanks for joining me on this brief tour.

For the summer months, I'm offering two of my series starters for 99¢ each. Both are full-length historical romances. The Green Veil is the first in the Empire in Pine series, set in 1800s Wisconsin, and The Deepest Sigh is book one in the Echoes of the Heart WWI and post war, early '20s series. I hope you'll give one or both a try during these languid, summer days!

Naomi Musch

Friday, June 26, 2020

History I Shouldn't Write - Vol. II

Chippewa Indian Village Hayward, Wisconsin WI Original Vintage ...
Last month, I started a discussion on the History I Shouldn't Write - Vol I. I talked about how research unveils truths that may not be popular in our modern culture.

Today I'm going to take that to a deeper level. A disturbing level.

In my research into first-hand accounts penned during Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763, I uncovered two separate accounts of the practice of cannibalism among the Native American tribes. I'll spare you the details, which were well laid out in the journals, and suffice it to say that it was not an uncommon practice.

I've known for a long time that this was true among the native tribes, but I thought it was more of a ritualistic type of behavior stemming from a belief system of some tribes. That narrative doesn't fit with my current research. And again, this is from reading two separate first-hand accounts involving two distinct tribes. In a third journal, it was also reported from second-hand accounts.

Because I have no wish to shock the reader, no wish to make my books into something dark and controversial, I will not include these findings in my books. But it's good in the research phase to look at history as it was - and not as how we wished it had been. Even when looking at it hurts. That's true of Native American cannibalism as much as it's true of European slave trading.

We should avoid - at all costs - comparing and contrasting the evils of different people or people groups in the past. That's an exercise in futility. People group A's evil doesn't enhance or diminish people group B's evil. That type of Monday-morning quarterbacking serves no purpose.

Not even in fiction.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Earliest Colonial History

The coast of "Virginia," by John White
DISCLAIMER: Our country's own recent events might make us shy from terms such as "colonial," but I seek only to report history as described by contemporaries of whatever time period I am examining. In no way do I condone the actions of men (or women) who lived in those times. The fact is, certain events took place, and certain actions resulted from those events, and political corruption has always been a thing. Just within the past two weeks, while researching for this post and even while watching things for entertainment, I'm reminded that genocide was practiced even among those who considered themselves civilized (note the English subjugation of Ireland in the 1500's) and colonization was certainly not the sole purview of Europeans (note the Japanese takeover of Korea in the early 1900's). Making such observations might sound like I'm excusing the actions of (some of) my own forebears, but I assure you it is not. I only say so to address the belief that injustices are a primarily "white" problem. The entirety of history is just awful in so many ways.

So ... what do we think of, in the context of America, when someone says "Colonial History"? Most of us, I'm sure, think of the War for American Independence, possibly of Daniel Boone, and before that, of the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and Jamestown.

Our country's European roots go even further than that, however. Though the period between Columbus and the Mayflower is usually viewed as a misty void, the English quest to colonize the New World was first fueled by Queen Elizabeth I, who sought lands not already claimed by Christian rulers to add to the fame and fortunes of Britain.
A very dapper Sir Walter Raleigh

After the 1583 voyage to Newfoundland by Sir Humphrey Gilbert ended in disaster (Gilbert perished at sea on his way home), the patent passed to his younger half brother, Sir Walter Raleigh. Wasting no time, Raleigh sent an expedition to what was then known as Virginia--named after Elizabeth herself, the "Virgin Queen." The first colonist--more a military endeavor than a serious permanent settlement yet--landed on Roanoke Island in 1585, on the Outer Banks of what is now North Carolina. Those original colonists returned to England shortly after, just missing their supply ship. This second wave left a contingent of 15 men to hold the area.

The next serious attempt at colonization took place in 1587, and the group of 117-some included women and children. These brave souls comprised what would later be called "the Lost Colony." A brief introduction to that story was provided by our own Janet Grunst, in her post "America's Oldest Unsolved Mystery."

More on that later, as over the next few months, I'll be looking at some of the key players in these early attempts at colonizing North America. :-)

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Craft for Your Inner Colonist ~ How to Make a Feather Quill Pen

Today, we're going to have some fun with your inner colonist as we learn to make a quill pen. 

As a kid, didn't you ever want to make a feather quill pen to use? I bet you did. I bet you took apart your Bic, found a big ol' feather somewhere, and stuffed the ink tube from the pen inside to write with. I know I did. If you somehow missed doing that, how about as an adult? Now, of course, you know that stuffing pen parts inside a feather is not authentic. You want a real nibbed quill and an ink bottle on your desk. Seriously, I've found myself researching feather pens on Amazon. I have this one with interchangeable nibs (for style) on my wishlist:

Making Your Own

If you're feeling crafty, though, here's how to make a real feather quill pen. First, you need a likely feather. If you don't have access to someone's farm where you can get a pretty chicken or goose feather,  or you don't have any turkeys roaming around dropping the occasional feather, you can buy some nice turkey feathers online or in a craft store. Note how wing feathers curve. Whether or not you're left or right handed, the way they curve will feel better in one hand or the other. Back in the day, right-handed folks generally chose feathers from the left wing, and vice-versa for left-handed writers. They chose feathers from a bird's right wing. (Note: if you're going to chase down Granny's pet goose to nab a feather, keep this left-hand-right-wing, or right-hand-left-wing info in mind. Haha!)

Once you have your chosen feather, you need to prep it a bit. First clip off any of those soft, fluffy little feathers near the tip, and trim off any of the lower feathers that might get in the way of your holding the shaft. After that, it's time to strip the membrane. This part isn't 100% necessary, but it makes for a nicer "barrel". Just take a paring knife, and scrape the shaft along the barrel. You'll see the membrane coming off.

Good. Now it's time to cut the point on the end. You'll want to trim it at a nice angle, and make sure that you're cutting in the direction you want to be able to hold the quill to write most comfortably. Inside the end of the barrel is the "quick", kind of a like a plug. You'll need to remove that. Then you'll make a second cut to create the point. If you have trouble picturing this, think of the shape of tip on a fountain pen. If you want to make broader strokes, say for calligraphy, then you'll blunt the end a bit squarer. 

You have one more cut to make. After you've fashioned the tip, cut a slit in the middle of it so that the ink can run properly. Again, picture that fountain pen nib.

And that's it! You're ready to write. You'll need ink of course. You can order some, or you can squash up a few berries like some of those colonists would have had to do. I have a character doing that in my WIP, a sequel to Mist O'er the Voyageur. If you live in an area where you have black walnuts, those work good too.

Writing with Your Quill

Dip the tip of your quill in the ink of your choice, and give it a gentle tap to avoid drips. Make slow, easy strokes as you write, realizing that you'll have to re-load your quill every few words. Imagine how long it took Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Tom Jefferson, and so many of our other founding fathers to pen their lengthy documents! And if you lived in the mountains of North Carolina, there was only a small likelihood that you knew how to write at all. You would probably be just as mesmerized watching someone with that skill as we would be today--watching them write with a quill pen.

Send me a picture if you do this!

In the meantime...what are you reading? I hope you'll add my newly re-released, popular Empire in Pine series to your TBR, Goodreads, and BookBub lists. 

The Green Veil ~ The Red Fury ~ The Black Rose
by Naomi Musch

Here's to History,

P.S. As I completed this post, I discovered that this topic has been discussed before, in 2012, here on the CQ blog. If you'd like to see some step-by-step pictures and results from another crafty perspective, you can find that post here: Making Pens from Quills