September Tea Party winners: Angela Couch's winner is Beverly Duell-Moore, Shannon McNear's winner is Teri DiVincenzo, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winner is Janet Grunst's winner is Kailey Bechtel, Naomi Musch Rita Gerlach's winner is .Congratulations, all! Please private message your e-mail or mailing address to the authors.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Father Marquette Burial Site St. Ignace Michigan

Where Father Marquette's Remains Rest 

by Carrie Fancett Pagels

This past summer, while researching some novels, I had the privilege of staying in St. Ignace, Michigan, which is not far from where I grew up. Situated in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, St. Ignace sits partially on Lake Michigan and also Lake Huron, with a beautiful bay in downtown. Michiganders know it as the place they first arrive (unless they've made a stop on Mackinac Island) in the Upper Peninsula. The Mackinac Bridge spans the gorgeous water here between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.

Situated in downtown St. Ignace, is the Museum of Ojibawa Culture. This is a great place to visit when you are in the U.P.  I am ashamed to admit that I did not know that this famed priest's remains are at this location, with a lovely monument to the Jesuit priest.  

The St. Ignace Mission, established by Father Marquette in 1671, ministered to the Native Americans in the area. This is a beautiful area on the shores of Lake Huron and Father Marquette requested that when he died, he wished for his remains to be returned to area. I can't say I blame him. When Father Marquette died, at a relatively young age only 37 years old, he was quite a ways from St. Ignace. His body was buried but later disinterred and brought back to the place he requested to be buried. 

If you get a chance, on your next visit to Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula, stop by the Museum of Ojibwa Culture and also visit Father Marquette's burial site, adjacent to the left of the structure in a beautiful little park.

Question: Do you visit burial sites other than for immediate family? What has been the most touching site you've ever visited?

Monday, November 16, 2020

America's Oldest Unsolved Mystery: Solved?

"The Lost Colony," Sheppard & Linton
 A few months ago I wrote about America's earliest colonial history (including a post about French Huguenot efforts and the conflict with Spain), and I referenced Janet Grunst's post on the Lost Colony. For much of this year I've been awash in research on this particular slice of history, in preparation for my upcoming novel, Elinor, first of a new series titled Daughters of the Lost Colony. What an amazing journey it's been so far!

Shortly after my visit to the Outer Banks, I discovered Scott Dawson, an author native to Hatteras Island, where many believe the Lost Colony settlers removed to after leaving Roanoke Island. Frustrated with Lost Colony myth, much at odds with local history, Dawson embarked upon a quest to prove what so many already suspected: that after John White, governor of the first official English colony on American shores, unhappily returned to England to plead their case to Raleigh and the court of Queen Elizabeth I, the settlers took shelter with their own known allies of the time, the Croatoan tribe. These were the family and people of Manteo, the Native American who accompanied the previous two expeditions between England and the New World, and who later accepted baptism into the Christian faith and the title of "Lord of Roanoke." (See more at the Wiki article on the Roanoke Colony.)

Eventually aided by an archaeological team out of England's University of Bristol, Dawson chose a site and started digging. (He stated in a recent online talk I attended that his grandmother told him where to dig.) In his recent book, The Lost Colony and Hatteras Island, he describes the years-long process, and the layers of artifacts encountered, as well as artifacts and clues from other sources. The main thing he wanted to prove, he says both in the article "The Lost Colony Wasn't Really Lost" from the Outer Banks Voice and the recent talk, is that when John White returned in 1590 and saw the word "CROATOAN" carved head-high on a tree, there was no big mystery on where the colony had gone, at least not in the immediate sense. White had given them very clear instructions on how to leave word, and he knew this referred to both the people and the place of their residence--what is now known as Hatteras Island. There was no trace of any mark that would have indicated distress or trouble. The colonists had known before White's reluctant departure for England that Roanoke Island would not support them, and their best chance for survival lay with the only people who might be sympathetic to them, people who knew well how to fish, hunt, and make a good living from the Outer Banks.

If this seems disappointing and anticlimactic, well, it really isn't. There is still plenty of scope for adventure and mystery. Many historians, Dawson included, discuss the likelihood of division among the settlers, and the possibility of some moving to the mainland. Until very recently (the Dare Stones notwithstanding--more about those later!), there was no solid evidence as to where they might have gone. Just a couple of weeks ago, however, I found the article "Lost Colony Moved Inland," from Coastal Review Online. I am eager to see more on this effort!

In the meantime, take a gander at Scott Dawson's group, the Croatoan Archaeological Society. Fascinating stuff for us early American history geeks!

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Heir of a Scottish Earldom and General in the Continental Army

 Who would have thought that an American Patriot, A Lord of the British Empire, served as a General in the Continental Army?

When Henry the first Earl of Stirling died his son, James Alexander was the rightful heir, but he fled Scotland in 1716 after taking part in the Jacobite Rising and settled in New York. James never claimed the title, but upon his death, his son William Alexander became heir to the Earldom of Stirling. Sometime after 1756, William sought and claimed the title by a Scottish Court. But the House of Lords overruled the claim and granted Alexander the title of Lord.

William Alexander, Lord Stirling was a colonel in the New Jersey colonial militia when the American Revolutionary War began. A wealthy man, he supported the Patriot cause by outfitting his unit at his

own expense. He distinguished himself early and by March of 1776, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army. That same August, while commanding the 1st Maryland Regiment he fought and lost the Battle of Long Island. He was taken prisoner, but his heroic actions allowed General George Washington's troops to escape.

He was eventually released in a prisoner exchange and promoted to major general. General Washington held Lord Stirling in high regard and while detained on personal business for two months placed Lord Stirling in command of the entire Continental Army. Stirling learned of a conspiracy of discontented Continental officers seeking to remove Washington as Commander-in-Chief and replace him with General Horatio Gates. He exposed the treachery to General Washington.

This Scottish American major general, one of the highest-ranking generals under Washington, also fought in the battles of Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth.

In 1781, when Washington and the French took their joined armies south for the Battle of Yorktown Stirling commanded part of the Northern Army left behind to guard New York. He was a heavy drinker, suffered poor health, and died in January 1783 only months before the end of the war. William Alexander Lord Stirling was buried at Trinity Church in New York City.    

What’s the story about titled Americans?

The original thirteenth amendment that was almost ratified in 1812 addressed that very issue. Here’s the text of the proposed Titles of Nobility Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain, any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.”

Had it passed the current Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery would have become the Fourteenth Amendment. You can learn more about this missing amendment:,a%20pension%2C%20without%20congressional%20approval.

Friday, November 6, 2020

In Search of Riches - the Trade that Shaped the Colonies (and New Fiction!)

It began with gold, silver, and...fur!

From the early days of Europe's exploration and conquest in the New World, there was expectation of awaiting riches for those willing to search out and plunder them. Precious metals like gold and silver discovered in the Aztec and Incan empires fed that notion, so when Jacque Cartier headed up the St. Lawrence River between 1534 and 1542, he anticipated finding similar treasure. Of course he hoped to uncover a water route to Asia too, where there was wealth to be had in silk and spices, but in the end, he discovered none of those things. 

Jacques Cartier

He did, however, find another valuable item. He found furs being trades among the native tribes in vast quantities. Back in Europe, certain fur-bearing animals like the beaver had gone nearly extinct, yet the demand for fur coats, collars, and hats was on the rise. 

Beaver Fur Top Hat

Often when we think of the Colonial period of American history, we think only life within the bounds of those first thirteen colonies and the obvious birth pains that brought about Colonial independence. But without the fur trade that was pressing exploration further into the continent, many of those birth pains might not have existed for many more generations.

Early on, the British were content to control the land east of the Appalatians, and France remained to the north, while Spain was more concerned with the Gulf Coast. But as the desire grew back in Europe for more fur, those countries began to expand their horizons beyond their small settlements and to push against one another. This is just the beginning of the fur trade story that led to the final settling of North America.

The era of the fur trade is one that resonates deeply with me, and it's part of the reason I wrote Mist O'er the Voyageur, my 2019 Selah Award finalist and 2-time Book-of-the-Year nominee. Now I have cause to celebrate that I've signed a contract for the sequel that will be published in a little over a year. Song for the Hunter will continue the story begun in Mist O'er the Voyageur, and it will further explore the people and practice of the fur trade in the Lake Superior region in 1807.

In the months ahead, as I work on edits and rewrites for my publisher, I'll also share more history of the fur trade that helped shape Colonial America and beyond, and I'll cover some aspects that I didn't during the writing and production of Mist O'er the Voyageur.

Stay tuned...

And while I have you here, please share my further joy as I celebrate my post-WWII farm girl romance THE LOVE COWARD that releases TODAY.

I wish you a full heart and many reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving season.

Friday, October 23, 2020

History I Shouldn't Write - Vol. VI

I've been having a discussion on the History I Shouldn't Write - Vol IHistory I Shouldn't Write - Vol II, History I Shouldn't Write - Vol III, History I Shouldn't Write - Vol IV, and History I Shouldn't Write - Vol V. I've talked about how research unveils truths that may not be popular or palatable in our modern culture.
"So, Pegg, why do you hate Native Americans?"

D8 Lesson 6 Native Americans of the Northeast - YouTube

I can almost hear that question shouted from those who have followed this series to this, its final installment. Many of you are finding yourselves uncomfortable because it is an uncomfortable topic. It's hard to face what "everyone knows" about history and try to see it in a more balanced and realistic light. It's hard to let go of misconceptions that we've nourished for most of our lives.

I don't hate Native Americans. Not at all. There is much about their culture to admire. Historically, many of their people were as noble and good as people in any culture around the globe. Contemporarily, many of their people are adding to the advances and innovations that will keep our country moving forward into the next century.

But the presentation of "The Noble Redman" as some sort of a stereotypical victim of the European invaders is more fiction than truth. Were they treated badly by the British in the mid-1700s? It depends. The answer is too long for this blog post. Both sides did their share of wrong, and both sides had leaders who worked hard to bring the two cultures together. As with all of history, there are more shades of gray than black and white. It's not my job to defend or condemn either side.

So I'm not hating on, or picking on, or otherwise demeaning this people group. I am studying it for purposes of learning the truth and writing better books. What I don't like is history colored with a modern-day bias.

History is what it is.

It's not something you can change. It's not something you should try to justify or excuse or promote for any reason other than the truth. Our ancestors made a lot of mistakes - in every culture. We can either learn from those mistakes, or we can bury them and create a more palatable version of the "truth." If we do the latter, it leaves us with a "truth" we can't trust. A "truth" we can't learn from. And a "truth" that may cause us to repeat mistakes we should have learned from.

During this research journey, I've decided to pick my battles with the truth in my books carefully. While it's allowable - even expected - for the author to beat up on the Europeans when writing about this time period, I feel like it skews the history - and therefore the story - if the reader only sees the evil or the good of one side.

Some things I've written about in this series will get mentioned, or be known to have happened off-screen, even though they'll make some people uncomfortable. They have to be to strike the balance of truth. But I will not use such things in a gratuitous way to gin up controversy in the hopes of creating shock value for selling more books. For me, that would also be an abuse of history.