November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Monday, February 11, 2019

Slavery in Colonial America: the Impact on Native Tribes

Fugitive slave treaty from 1480 BC
In my last post, I discussed the very difficult topic of slavery, an institution one cannot avoid in any study of our country’s history—indeed, of serious study of nearly any civilization. Though modern, reductionist history would blame the evils of chattel slavery (i.e., treating human beings as moveable property) solely on European colonization, beginning with Christopher Columbus, the institution existed as a fixture in Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian cultures, as well as early South American and African societies.

So how does the practice of slavery touch the native peoples of North America, beyond the obvious influence of Columbus?

First, slavery was definitely practiced between native tribes, but not so much as an official institution as we understand from, say, the Civil War era. This excellent summary by author Christina Snyder explains it better than I could:

The history of American slavery began long before the first Africans arrived at Jamestown in 1619. Evidence from archaeology and oral tradition indicates that for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years prior, Native Americans had developed their own forms of bondage. This fact should not be surprising, for most societies throughout history have practiced slavery. In her cross-cultural and historical research on comparative captivity, Catherine Cameron found that bondspeople composed 10 percent to 70 percent of the population of most societies, lending credence to Seymour Drescher’s assertion that “freedom, not slavery, was the peculiar institution.” If slavery is ubiquitous, however, it is also highly variable. Indigenous American slavery, rooted in warfare and diplomacy, was flexible, often offering its victims escape through adoption or intermarriage, and it was divorced from racial ideology, deeming all foreigners—men, women, and children, of whatever color or nation—potential slaves. Thus, Europeans did not introduce slavery to North America. Rather, colonialism brought distinct and evolving notions of bondage into contact with one another. At times, these slaveries clashed, but they also reinforced and influenced one another. Colonists, who had a voracious demand for labor and export commodities, exploited indigenous networks of captive exchange, producing a massive global commerce in Indian slaves. This began with the second voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1495 and extended in some parts of the Americas through the twentieth century. During this period, between 2 and 4 million Indians were enslaved. Elsewhere in the Americas, Indigenous people adapted Euro-American forms of bondage. In the Southeast, an elite class of Indians began to hold African Americans in transgenerational slavery and, by 1800, developed plantations that rivaled those of their white neighbors. The story of Native Americans and slavery is complicated: millions were victims, some were masters, and the nature of slavery changed over time and varied from one place to another. A significant and long overlooked aspect of American history, Indian slavery shaped colonialism, exacerbated Native population losses, figured prominently in warfare and politics, and influenced Native and colonial ideas about race and identity. [Indian Slavery, emphasis mine.]

Early in my study of the colonial era, I received the impression that the practice of enslaving Native Americans died out as the African slave trade gained momentum, but there is increasing evidence to the contrary.  One author’s study reveals that the slave trade among the Indians of the West was alive and well during the settlement and annexation of California. He also reveals how the Mormons found the same upon their arrival in Utah, and how attempts to “rescue” the victims of slavery only fed racial prejudice within Mormonism.

Cherokee delegation to Washington in 1866
A particularly startling aspect of the dynamics of slavery on native peoples surfaced in connection with the Cherokee and Seminoles, both of which were removed to Oklahoma Territory over the Trail of Tears. Apparently it was well known and accepted that many wealthy, landholding Cherokee owned black slaves, and took them along during the removal (see the quote above). Some Seminoles re-enslaved blacks who escaped to Florida, although it’s reported that their interpretation of slavery was more “fair” than that practiced to the north.

Time fails me to go deeply into any of these aspects, and I want to make it clear that as a historian and storyteller, I’m merely making observations, not offering a defense or pointing fingers in any way. In our own times, however, we must understand as much of the entire picture as possible. It is, after all, our mission here at Colonial Quills to educate about little-known aspects of our chosen span of history.

For more reading:
The Untold History of American Native Slavery (interesting site, with a ton of supporting and related articles)
America's Other Original Sin
... and just for fun, FACT CHECK: 9 Facts About Slavery

Monday, February 4, 2019

Surviving the Mohawk Valley

Even during the best of times, settling the Mohawk valley wouldn't have been easy. Though fertile, the land had to be cleared and broken before you could farm. Winters could be harsh, and life isolated. After the start of the Revolutionary War, survival became much harder. Because of the bountiful crops being sent to help support the Patriots, the Mohawk Valley was targeted. Raids from the British-allied Iroquois became brutal and frequent.

In 1777, the British attempted to strike the heart of New England through the Mohawk Valley. They laid siege to Fort Stanwix and cut off any reinforcements a few miles east at Oriskany. The Patriots were ambushed by some who used to be neighbors, and were massacred. Only half survived, almost 400 perishing in what became known as one of the bloodiest battles of the war.

This battle not only started my Hearts at War series with the first scene in The Scarlet Coat,
but has become a pivotal event still affecting the characters years later in The Tory's Daughter.

Even in 1781, as the tides of the war are about to change, raids continue and lives are lost. How can you expect to find love in such a time...especially with the daughter of your enemy?
Burying his wife is the hardest thing Joseph Garnet has ever done—until he's called to leave his young son and baby daughter to fight Iroquois raiders. When one of the marauders tries to steal his horse, the last thing he expects is to end up tussling with a female. The girl is wounded, leaving Joseph little choice but to haul her home to heal—an act that seems all too familiar.

Though Joseph doesn't appear to remember her, Hannah Cunningham could never forget him. He rode with the mob that forced her two brothers into the Continental Army and drove her family from their home—all because of her father's loyalties to The Crown. After five years with her mother's tribe, the rebels and starvation have left her nothing but the driving need to find her brothers. Compelled by a secret he's held for far too long, Joseph agrees to help Hannah find what remains of her family. Though she begins to steal into his aching heart, he knows the truth will forever stand between them. Some things cannot be forgiven.

On sale now for only $1.99 here!

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Lovelorn Explorer Who Broadened France's Empire in North America

Love can change the world. We know that's true of God's love, but we all like to think the same is true of affairs of the heart. Here in the month when love is most celebrated, we can certainly say that love--of at least the heartbroken variety--did indeed change the colonial world in the late 1670s.

Studying North America in the 1600s is to learn of the great explorers and the claiming of land for European empires, as well as the founding of colonies across the landscape. One such explorer was Daniel Greysolon Sieur du Lhut (or in the Quebec archival rendering: Daniel de Gresolon du Luth and Americanized as Daniel Greysolon Duluth). In late June, 1679, he planted a banner for France, "His Majesty's Arms" on the location of present day Duluth Minnesota, at the very head of Lake Superior, "in the great village of the Nadouecioux (Sioux), called Izatys, where never had a Frenchman been..." That was what Duluth penned in a letter to the French Minister of Marine, to quell allegations made against him that he had deserted Montreal to engage in the fur trade without the proper licensing to do so. He was not quite accurate in his proclamation that no other Frenchman had been in this part of the world. Groseilliers and Radison had arrived in Sioux country some years prior. However, I digress.

Let's back up.

Duluth was born in Saint-Germaine-en-Laye near Paris in or around 1654. At that time, Saint Germaine was something of a resort area for the French court. Duluth's own family had some noble lineage along with a degree of wealth from his mother's side which qualified him as a "gentleman". Being among the "petit noblesse" (similar to being a gentleman of lower lineage in England) he decided to join the army.  

Now fast-forward a little bit.

Duluth served as a "Gendarme de la Guard du roi", military guardsmen who were only recruited from among the nobility. He boasted about this appointment for years to come, even though he eventually found the slow advancement and days spent around a somewhat effeminate court life unsatisfactory for a young man of his energetic and ambitious nature. Rather, life in New France sounded exciting. He resigned from his position with the Guard and soon made his way to Montreal where friends and family, as well as his previous commission, gave him ready entry into Montreal society. In those esteemed circles he met the old Boucher family, who had several daughters, one in particular who caught his eye and then his heart.

Within a year or two, however, Duluth had to return to France to settle some family matters. While he was there, he became caught up in the Franco-Dutch war and took part in the bloody battle of Seneffe, serving as a squire to the young Marquis de Lassay. 

Finally, at war's end, he returned again to Canada and leased a small home. His amore for Madamoiselle Boucher had not lessened during his time away, and a year or two later he built a much more elegant and somewhat palatial estate on the shores of the majestic St. Lawrence River. He no doubt hoped to bring his lady-love to his expansive, well-appointed home as his bride. In the meantime, he also developed aspirations to trade in the growing fur market.

Meanwhile, the Bouchers had risen to even higher prominence in Montreal society. With their advancement in social circles, the young lady in question, for whom Duluth had long pined, disapproved of his plans to enter trade. The couple's differing opinions rose to surface in quarrels again and again, apparently heatedly at times. Caught in this stalemate, it eventually became clear to Duluth that he had lost at love, so the two parted company. Duluth then did what any lovelorn, heart-broken individual might do. He got out of there. 

Being still a man in his twenties, the call of the Far West beckoned. Duluth quickly sold his fine home and invested his money in everything he would need to venture west, from canoes to trade goods. He also worked at cultivating friendly relations with the natives, and as a result, they offered him three slaves as guides for his journey. With his guides and eight Frenchman, including his brother Claude, the brigade embarked westward, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Duluth spent the following winter at the Falls of Saint Mary's (the Sault), an important village set neatly on the Saint Mary River connecting lakes Superior and Huron. During that time, Duluth's head probably cleared some after his heartbreak, for he seemed to recall that he'd departed Montreal without a proper license to trade from Governor Frontenac. In an attempt to set things right, he wrote the afformentioned letter, assuring the French Minister of his loyalties to France and of his intent to open up the west in such a way meant to expand the King's interests. He pointed out his purpose to bring peace between the Sioux and Ojibwe, and to secure the natives' trade away from the English by currying their favor so that they might promise to bring all their pelts to Montreal and Quebec.

It seems that Duluth all along did intend to reach the mouth of the St. Louis River at the head of Lake Superior, and once he did, he crossed what was called the "Little Portage" and planted His Majesty's colors, laying all claim to the region south and west of Lake Superior for France. 

Duluth went on to meet with the Indians, spreading feasts, summoning councils, and doing all in his power to show good will and establish firm relations. He ventured deep into the northern forests and down the rivers to the south all the way to the Mississippi. Far and above his own interests in fur trading, he was patriotic. Many more adventures came his way, although it appears he never again sought to take a French wife. He died in in Montreal in 1720 with his valet LaRoche in attendance to the end.

My belief is that once burned was all it took for monsieur Duluth to give up matrimonial notions. He had more illustrious endeavors to attend to for his true mistress--France. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. I'll share a bit more about Daniel Greysolon Sieur du Lhut next month, when I write about the infamous scourge of fur traders known as the courier du bois

Until then, here's to love and adventure.
Naomi Musch

Stone marker near the site where Daniel Greysolon Sieur du Luth landed and planted the French flag
in present Canal Park, Duluth, Minnesota.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Surviving Winter - the Native Americans

I'm sitting at my computer in front of the window and watching the snow pile up in our barnyard. It's gorgeous. Pristine with not a hint of wind to cause drifts. And it made me wonder how people survived winters in centuries past.
The Native Americans were very diverse in their survival means. I live in Northern Michigan and most of the tribes native to this area headed away from the lake to their inland winter camps, most of them farther south in the state. They built winter lodges of birch bark that were up to twenty feet long and ten feet wide. As many as three generations of a family would live in the lodge all winter. Typically there would be a firepit at each end, one to cook over and one for warmth.

The Native Americans in this area were farmers. They collected the wild rice in season, but also cultivated and grew corn, beans, squash, and other vegetables they stored for winter survival. These weren't small patches, but acres of fields tended by the women all summer long. It was enough - at least in the good years - to see them through the winter.

Keeping warm was a full-time occupation. They coated their skin with bear and goose grease. This both repelled moisture and retained heat. They also wore animal skins tanned with the fur on, but unlike fur coats of today, they wore them with the fur against their skin for added insulation and warmth. Huge blankets were made of rabbit skins sewn together and used to cover several people, thus keeping in more body heat on cold nights.
Image result for ojibwe winter wigwam images
As well as keeping warm, they needed to keep busy. During the summers they were tending their crops, gathering wild edibles, hunting, and fishing. During the winters, men still hunted, fished through the ice, and trapped animals for their warmest furs. The women did the handwork needed for the next summer, including making clothing and decorating it, making baskets, carving bowls, and - of course - tending to the children.

It wasn't an easy existence. It makes me appreciate my snug house with its wood heat and insulated windows.

Pegg Thomas writes "History with a Touch of Humor."

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Moravian Church During Colonial Times – Going Before the Lot

Peek inside and find two Moravian ladies hard at work.
by Denise Weimer

In my recent posts, we learned about the origins of the Moravian Church (The Unity of the Brethren). Moravians followed the convictions of Protestant reformer John Hus and expanded from the Saxon Herrnhut estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf to missions around the world. They also established trade towns in America—especially Pennsylvania and North Carolina—to support missionaries to the American Indians.

We also discovered that while Moravians embraced many traditional Protestant beliefs, during the formative years of the mid-1700s, they engaged in some unique practices. One of these involved the choir system, and another involved the use of the lot.
Tubes in a Salem lot bowl.
Whenever elders of the Moravian church faced a major spiritual or secular decision, they began with discussion and prayer. If the matter was not easily resolved, they would consult the lot. Tubes placed in a bowl held slips of paper that said “yes,” “no,” or blank for “wait.” They based this practice on biblical references in Numbers 33:54 and Acts 1:26. The outcome indicated the will of the God and was not to be challenged.

Church authorities used the lot for choosing a pastor or missionary candidate, a building site, an occupation, or a marriage partner. In the case of marriage, a man might bring the name of a potential candidate before the elders. If they elders thought the man at a suitable stage in life to begin a family, and found the woman suggested an appropriate choice, they would take her name to the lot. If the answer came in the affirmative, the woman’s choir helper (spiritual advisor to the single or widowed sisters) would then let her know of the proposal. She then had the option to accept or decline. As you can imagine, ladies rarely declined, believing the affirmation of the lot to indicate God’s approval.

A young lady could decline the lot - but did she?
As you can also imagine, negative answers from the lot were not always taken with grace. Many left the church in order to pursue desired marriage partners. The practice was discontinued in 1818.

This news was greeted with special joy by John Vogler, a watchmaker and silversmith in Salem, North Carolina. In 1814, he’d sought to marry Christina Spach, only to be declined by lot. After that, he made six other marriage proposals regarding five women. The only proposal not rejected by the lot was declined by a single sister who lived in Pennsylvania. In 1818, John hastened back to the Elders’ Conference to renew his request for Christina. The request was approved, and Christina accepted immediately.

You can learn more in Old Salem: The Official Guidebook, by Penelope Niven.

Do you think the Moravian practice of marrying by the lot makes good fodder for a novel? I did too. Check out my marriage of convenience that led to an adventure in the Cherokee Nation in my upcoming novel, The Witness Tree (Smitten Romance, September 2019).

Website for Denise Weimer and Monthly Newsletter Sign-up