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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Colonial Quaker Wedding: What's Love Got to Do With It?

William Penn marries Hannah Callowhill, 1696
Centuries before Tina Turner belted out, “What’s love got to do with it?” members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) were, in a sense, asking the same question with regard to marriage. Their answer? Everything and nothing.

In colonial times, marriage in America looked quite different than it does now. Today, most people “marry for love” (romantic love), and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as other forms of love accompany and bolster it. In the eighteenth century, however, while some couples certainly married for romantic reasons, many more built their marriage on a foundation based on necessity. Gender roles were generally prescribed, and many aspects of adult life required (or were at least easier) with a spouse or other family member of the opposite gender to carry their part of the workload.

Quakers were no different, with companionship and friendship being paramount in a marriage. Romance certainly played a part in relationships as well, but primarily in the milieu of shared devotion to the Lord. Many times, companionship and friendship coupled with shared devotion to God resulted in romantic love, creating a formidable bond.

Of course, that’s pretty much where the commonalities between colonial marriage and colonial Quaker marriage ended. As early as the seventeenth century, many Quakers embraced revolutionary ideas about marriage and gender roles. Leader George Fox wrote that for those living in the Light and perfected by Christ, husbands and wives could be equal “helpmeets.” This was quite radical considering that male leadership was implicit in American culture, and not all Quakers agreed with Fox. Even so, Quaker life was steeped in the spiritual equality of all; many women became traveling ministers, leaving behind their families to acclimate to periods without them—all with their Meeting’s blessing.

Some other facets of colonial Quaker marriage?

Men and women chose their own spouses (there were no arranged marriages), although to be married by the Meeting, parental consent was required. Without parental consent, the couple could not go to the Women’s Meeting (the women’s leadership for the Meeting, which handled vetting marriages as part of their responsibility) for its consent. And without the Meeting’s consent (Women’s Meeting and then the Men’s Meeting), there was no marriage—unless the couple decided to go to a minister of a non-Quaker church or to the justice of the peace. That was highly discouraged, however, and it always resulted in “disownment,” or expulsion from Meeting for “marrying out of order” or “contrary to discipline,” as Friends called it. (Not to worry. Once the expelled couple acknowledged their transgression and proved that they intended to be obedient Quakers going forward, the Meeting reinstated their membership.)

Marriage to non-Quakers was never condoned. Friends were expected to marry within their own religious community, and any Friend who married a non-Quaker (by a minister or justice of the peace) was automatically disowned. However, members who were disowned could still worship with Friends, and eventually, with acknowledgment and proven behavior, could regain membership. (Long before modern-day worship songs, Quakers were proclaiming that God is a God of not the “second chance” but the “another chance.”)

So what did love have to do with Quaker marriage in colonial times? Well, that depends on what kind of love you’re talking about. Love in a spirit of companionship, friendship, and shared devotion to Christ? Everything. Love in a spirit of romance and pleasure? Often nothing. Or perhaps nothing at first. But with God, all things are possible and love never fails.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and Angels, and have not love, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I had the gift of prophecy, and knew all secrets and all knowledge, yea, if I had all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and had not love, I were nothing. And though I feed the poor with all my goods, and though I give my body, that I be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

—1 Corinthians 1:1–3 (1599 Geneva Bible)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Big Hair in 18th Century France

In writing Refiner’s Fire, book 6 of my American Patriot Series, I’ve been doing a lot of research on fashion so I can describe my characters’ look accurately. While Jonathan Carleton is temporarily back among the Shawnee in this installment of the story, the woman he loves, Elizabeth Howard, is in France, the ultimate fashion center in the second half of the 18th century. So today let’s take a look at the hairstyles that were de rigeur in that country at that time. In my next post, we’ll take a look at
makeup—another fun topic for us ladies.

What was the ideal of feminine hair in the 18th century? The preference was for wavy or curly hair that was black, brown, or blonde. The latter was especially fashionable while Marie-Antoinette was queen, during the period when Refiner’s Fire is set. Chestnut and strawberry blonde were also popular colors, though bright red hair was unfashionable and was usually dyed a more acceptable color.

Marie Antoinette
We often think of wigs being the height of fashion in the 18th century, but they were primarily worn by men, not women, whose hair was supposed to appear  more “natural.” The tĂȘte de mouton (or “sheep’s head”) style shown in the portrait above was most popular in France in the 1750s and early 1760s. Actually, I think it’s adorable!! It featured defined twists of curls that were arranged in rows across the front and top of the head, and generally was powdered.

In the 1760s height began to be added, generally about 1/4 to 1/2 the length of the face and egg shaped. In the mid to late 1770s, during the time of my series, really big hair became all the rage, with a height of 1 to 1 1/2 times the length of the face and styled in a shape that looks pretty much like a hot air balloon, like the example at right. This effect was created using toques—cushions—made of fabric, cork, wool, tow, hemp, cut hair, or wire attached to the top of the head. The natural hair was curled, waved, or frizzed (ratted), pomaded and powdered, and piled over and around the cushion, then ribbons, pearls, jewels, flowers, feathers, ships, birdcages, and other items that evoked a theme were added. Below is a fun video that will give you some idea of how these hairstyles were created. These elaborate creations could be worn for days or weeks at a time. Imagine dancing, walking around, or even going to bed with that on your head!

Obviously professional hairdressers—coiffeurs—became a necessity if one was to achieve just the right look. It must have taken hours just to have your hair styled, makeup applied, and clothing put on. But the toilette, or dressing, had an important function for women of the royal, aristocratic, and even high-level bourgeois classes in France. It was a daily ceremony performed in front of privileged persons, with the lever being the men’s equivalent.

Then there’s the matter of hair powder. White wigs originally became popular among the higher classes because they were expensive and rare. Originally used primarily as a degreaser, white hair powder began to be used to color both wigs and natural hair since it caused less damage than dyes. The powder was made from a variety of materials, with the poorest quality being corn or wheat flour, and the highest finely milled starch filtered through a sieve. Generally it was white, but it also came in brown, grey, orange, pink, red, blue, and violet, all colors that would be equally at home on heads today. Keep in mind that when white powder is applied to dark hair, it results in shades ranging from light to dark grey, not the bright white of the costume wigs you see in films. And when it’s applied to very light hair, it produces a brighter blonde effect. As shown at left, the person was covered with a cone-shape face mask and a fabric smock, and the powder was applied to the hair or wig with a bellows. A puff was used for touchups, and a knife for removal—how that was done, I have no idea!

Well, hasn’t this been interesting! Wouldn’t you just love to go through a dressing ceremony every day in front of an audience? Or are you grateful that we don’t live in that day and age? Please share your thoughts!
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. She is also an author, editor, and publisher. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with Bob Hostetler, won Foreword Magazine’s 2014 Indie Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, received the 2017 Interviews and Reviews Silver Award for Historical Fiction and was named one of Shelf Unbound’s 2018 Notable Indie Books. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and a finalist in the Carol Award.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Wilderness Road and Cumberland Gap

Travel during colonial times was notoriously slow and arduous. I've written before about the Great Wagon Road stretching from Philadelphia down through western Virginia and into North Carolina, which had its origins as the Warrior’s Path, a highway of sorts between the northern and southern native tribes. The Wilderness Road, stretching from western Virginia, down into east Tennessee and up into Kentucky, had similar origins. Traffic between the upper Ohio Valley and the lower Appalachians traced a path down through the heart of the region famed as a favored native hunting ground, converging with the Warrior’s Path at the great Cherokee town of Chota, in southern Tennessee. Interestingly enough, that western trail was called Athawominee, “Path of the Armed Ones,” essentially a variation of Warrior’s Path like the one up through the Shenandoah Valley.

The first European recorded as having seen Kentucky and the Ohio Valley is Gabriel Arthur, a white indentured servant taken captive after an expedition gone badly during 1673. Directed by the Shawnee down the well-marked path that took him south to the Cumberland Mountains and eventually through Cumberland Gap then back northeast to Fort Henry (near present-day Petersburg, Virginia). No one at that time realized the significance of what Arthur had been shown, the best route over the Appalachian Mountains to the western frontier.

The area remained unexplored until 1750, when Dr. Thomas Walker mounted an expedition into what was then western Virginia, which in colonial times extended all the way to the Mississippi River. Others followed, including Daniel Boone and James Harrod, initially traveling companions but separating after a difference of opinion, and both with Kentucky towns named after them. Employed by the Transylvania Company to blaze the way for a road northward from Cumberland Gap, Boone led a company of thirty-some mounted and armed axmen in 1775. He and other longhunters had already been exploring this region for a decade and more, but he’s the one credited with first leading settlers over the pass called Cave Gap in the early days, and up into the lush, wild country called Kentucky.

Many early explorers wrote of their journeys, describing herds of bison, elk, and deer, flocks of turkeys and geese, rivers full of fish, canebrakes taller than a mounted man’s head, and tangled thickets of holly and laurel that afforded little grazing for the horses that carried them and their provisions. Bear and wolves ranged freely, drawn by the plentiful game. While hunting was easier than they’d ever dreamed possible, the land itself was poor for farming on the eastern side of the region. They wrote of the mountains and caves, of stream crossings complicated by sand and mud flats. More fearsome were Indian warriors, who often struck parties of explorers and later settlers without warning, taking captives and scalps and leaving terror in their wake.

And still, the settlers came, pouring over the Cumberland Gap on foot and by horseback long before the way was fit for wagon traffic. Some went north to the lower Ohio River Valley, via Boone’s Trace, as it was called, since travel down the Ohio was still too hazardous, made so by native tribes and white outlaws. Others went westward along Harrod’s Trace. In 1796, work was completed on an actual wagon road, commissioned a year or so before by the newly formed Kentucky legislature. There’s evidence that improvements began about 1780, with completion not taking place until after Kentucky gained statehood, but other sources say most improvements happened around 1792, with official work and opening in 1796. The latter is the timeline I used in my upcoming novel, The Cumberland Bride.

By the end of the colonial era, Westward Expansion was already well in motion, thanks to the Wilderness Road. Today, modern highways and interstates roughly trace the route, and a mountain tunnel eases traffic across the Cumberland Gap. The forests still look as wild, though, in between scattered towns that dimly recall their origins, and historic markers and sites bearing witness of the amazing journeys of those explorers, hunters, and settlers.

Friday, May 11, 2018


The Society of the Cincinnati has a unique place in American history as the oldest military hereditary society in the United States.

In the early days of the Revolutionary War, Henry Knox, Major General and
commander of Washington’s artillery wanted to institute a fraternal organization for officers of the Continental Army. With the support of George Washington, on May 13, 1783, the Society was officially created.

The Society of the Cincinnati was initiated for several purposes.
1.      To honor the sacrificial service given by thousands of Revolutionary War officers.
2.     To foster fellowship among these officers by meeting regularly.
3.     To preserve the liberties they had fought for and placing authority within in each of the former colonies to form their own chapters.
4.     To establish dues to provide for financial support for war widows and orphans.
5.     To establish the parameters for membership. There were some restrictions.

The Society was named after a fifth century BC Roman farmer, Lucius Quintus
Eleftherios Karkadoulias, sculptor
Sawyer Point Park Bicentennial Commons
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnatus who left his fields and served Rome in battle.  When he returned in victory he went back to farming. Later, he served as a ruler in Rome, but when his job was completed, he voluntarily stepped down to pursue a civilian life. 

His statue was given to the city of Cincinnati in honor of the volunteer spirit of the citizen-soldier, Cincinnatus, by members of the Friends of Cincinnatus Association.

The motto of the Society is "He gave up everything to serve the republic." It’s no surprise that George Washington was a strong supporter of the Society, as at the end of two terms as President of the United States, he also set personal power aside for the good of our new republic.

George Washington served as the first President General of the Society of the Cincinnati from December 1783, until his death in 1799.  There was even a French Society chapter formed in 1784. They played a large role in helping to secure our independence.

The Society of the Cincinnati was not without some controversy.  Some wanted to use the Society to try to retrieve wages that had not been paid and some critics feared members would a hereditary aristocracy and curtail the liberties of the people in the new republic.

Major Pierre L'Enfant, a French officer who joined the American Army in 1777 designed the badge, a silk ribbon of pale blue with white edges, attached by a gold loop to badge in the form of an eagle with outstretched wings and a wreath around his head. The front has eagle head facing left, and oval plaque at center of an eagle with enameled image of Cincinnatus receiving a sword. The reverse has eagle head facing right and enameled plaque at center with scene of city and Cincinnatus in the foreground.

L'Enfant was commissioned in 1783 to travel to France to have the first Eagle badges made.

Nearly half the delegates who framed the federal constitution at the Philadelphia convention were members of the Society. The Society of the Cincinnati was and remains a commendable fraternal organization. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Tale of a Colonial Portrait - The Most Hated Man in Boston

Upon a recent visit to the world reknown Colby College Museum of Art a prominent painting held my attention. Viewed first between the exquisitely carved Georgian door pediment and columns, the nearly life size portraiture was easily recognized as remdered by the skilled hand of colonial artist John Singleton Copley.

Every portrait has a story, and as I approached the portrait my curiosity grew. The man depicted, noticibly of some importance, was Benjamin Hallowell, c. 1764. His surname piqued my attention further as Hallowell is the name of a local town here in  Central Maine, where I live just a stone’s throw away from the college. The town’s name is attributed to his father, Benjamin Hallowell, a Boston merchant who was one of the Kennebec Proprietors - men who set off from Plymouth, Massachusetts to establish trade with the Indians in early colonial times. I did a little research to learn more about the man in the painting and how it was acquired by the art museum.

Benjamin Hallowell, formerly a noted Captain in the British navy, commissioned Copley to paint the portrait soon after he was assigned Comptroller of Customs in Boston. He hung the portrait in his stately home in Boston. As tensions rose in pre-revolutionary days due to the angst of the colonists over the Stamp Act, which Hallowell, a Tory, helped enforce. A riot of disguised and armed patriots entered his home, intoxicateded themselves with liquor from Hallowell’s cellar, and proceeded to plunder the mansion. The mob slashed and pierced the painting, in effigy, of Hallowell riled by their indignation over taxation without representation imposed by the Bristish Crown.

Captain Hallowell and his family fled to Nova Scotia, and later London, leaving their belongings behind - including the hastily rolled up canvas oil painting. The portrait remained in the Hallowell family for generations until it was donated in 1978 to the combined ownership of Colby and Bowdoin Colleges who share exhibiting the exquisitely restored painting. To gaze upon the portrait one would never realize the remarkable history of its provinance, or that the charming man depicted was once considered the most hated man in Boston.