Christmas Party winners: Christy Distler's A Cord of Three Strands goes to Chappy Debbie, Denise Weimer's winner is Megsmom (we need you to get your email to us) , Shannon McNear's winners are Elly (The Blue Cloak) and Lucy Reynolds (Love's Pure Light), Pegg Thomas's winners are Joy Ellis and Susan Johnson, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners per were Melanie Backus and Paula Shreckhise, Janet Grunst's winner is Caryl Kane. Congratulations, all! Please private message your e-mail or mailing address to the authors.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Red Stick War? What's that?

 Denise Weimer here, delighted to be back with you after a hiatus during which I was researching and writing some contemporary novels. But good news! My best writing ever will hit the shelves in April in the form of Bent Tree Bride, a Federal-era frontier romance set in the Southeastern states. Allow me to share some of the fascinating and little-known history behind it.

Gen. Jackson during War of 1812 as depicted in 1864 Harper's
Gen. Jackson as depicted in Harper's

When I tell people that Bent Tree Bride is the story of a mixed-blood Cherokee lieutenant who falls for his colonel’s daughter while fighting in the Cherokee Regiment during the Red Stick War portion of the War of 1812, most folks draw a complete blank, much less have any idea that Cherokee warriors turned the tide for General Andrew Jackson against the Red Stick Creek warriors at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814. What was the Red Stick War, you may be asking.

In the early 1800s, the United States became caught up in the war between Britain and France. Our fledgling country resented British trade restrictions and naval impressments and feared Native Americans in the Northwest Territory who had decided they needed British support to prevent further American settlement. In 1811, Shawnee war chief Tecumseh traveled into Creek Indian Territory (primarily modern-day Alabama) to urge the Creeks to unite against the Americans. It’s said someone threatened him not to repeat that speech in Cherokee Territory (where many progressive chiefs embraced white ways), or they’d kill him. When the Red Stick Creeks (those who sided with Tecumseh and the British—their naming is another story) began attacking National Creeks (those who did not want war), the National Creeks called to the Cherokees for aid.

In July 1813, militia from Fort Mims, near Mobile, ambushed a Red Stick supply caravan, leading to a skirmish at Burnt Corn Creek. Reprisal occurred at Fort Mims, where most of the civilians and soldiers were killed except for the slaves.

The governors of Tennessee and Georgia asked for Cherokee enlistments in the militia. When Cherokee Chief The Ridge failed to sway a neutral Cherokee Council, he rounded up volunteers himself. But then a Cherokee woman was killed by Red Sticks, drawing first blood in a conflict, and Principal Chief Pathkiller gave his blessing for his warriors to fight alongside the Americans. They agreed to supply five to seven hundred men for 39-year-old Colonel Gideon Morgan’s Cherokee Regiment. Though white, Morgan had a Cherokee wife and lived within Cherokee Territory. In late November 1813, they repair to Fort Strother on the Coosa River, southwest of present-day Gadsden. From this rough-and-tumble, hundred-yard-square enclosure, the adventure of Bent Tree Bride begins. 

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of almost a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses!

Connect with Denise here:

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For more information, Toward the Setting Sun by Brian Hicks and Forging a Cherokee-American Alliance in the Creek War: From Creation to Betrayal by Susan M. Abram


Monday, January 11, 2021

Researching the 16th Century: Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

In a year full of uncertainty and isolation, I was blessed to not only sign another book contract, but also do onsite research for the story. Daughters of the Lost Colony: Elinor is scheduled for a December 2021 release. This was not a story I expected to get to tell--but I am so excited to present it to y'all!

After writing already about the Lost Colony and where recent research indicates they went after leaving Roanoke Island, I'll be sharing more bits and pieces of the story: key players in the Lost Colony saga and maybe even some of the political aspects of the era.

But first, the setting itself.

An important part of research for me is to walk the ground where my characters walked, when possible. To get a taste of what a particular area might have looked, smelled, and felt like, especially in a historical context. So after my niece's wedding in July, near Boston, my daughters and I headed to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My journey took me in reverse order from history, with Buxton on Hatteras Island being our first stop, but Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is properly the first location to be covered chronologically. It's where Ralph Lane of the disastrous 1585-86 expedition built an earthenworks fort, and where the 1587 expedition landed, originally just to check on the 15-some men left to hold an English presence in the New World but then temporarily settling there after being informed their navigator would take them no further. The actual site of the resulting village and its palisade fort is unknown, but archaeological research found the location of Lane's fort, and a reconstruction was commissioned in the 1950's.

Informational plackards at the site explain that it's obvious the fort would have been too small to shelter an entire settlement. The exact site of the village Lane and his men built then abandoned, and the 15 occupied for however long, is unknown, but that would be where the Lost Colony first took up residence, so I had fun imagining what this area might have looked like with a cluster of English cottages nearby. 


The ampitheater belonging to the modern-day Lost Colony drama production is also located here, so we poked about there as well. It provides a lovely view of the ocean, and the currently unused Elizabethan-inspired buildings added to the atmosphere of historical mystery. And of course the ever-gorgeous maritime forest of pine and oak possess a charm all their own!



Outside the entrance to the ampitheater lies the beginning of a walking trail, with paths leading down to the beach. We didn't have time for the whole route, but a side path led us to a spot where I wanted to linger and linger, overlooking Albemarle Sound. You can bet my imagination ran wild here!


It isn't hard to envision what those first English explorers might have seen when first setting foot here, how enchanted they must have been with the fragrance of the pines and the tallness of the trees, and how strange and yet a part of the forest the native people might have appeared . . .

And how those same people might have felt, seeing their first Europeans, with their equally strange clothing and armor . . .

To be continued!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Jack Jouett, Jr. ~ A Little-Known Hero

There are times when people's actions or words have far-reaching and historic consequences. Such was the case in June of 1781 when a twenty-six-year-old resident of Charlottesville, Virginia made a heroic forty-mile ride that likely saved several of our nation’s founders.

That spring, the British Army was making raids along the James River. On June third, his last day in office, Governor Thomas Jefferson was with his family at his home, Monticello, near Charlottesville. Virginia's legislature had evacuated the capital at Richmond and was reconvening in Charlottesville. British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton was sent by Lord Cornwallis to capture the governor and legislators. His 250-man raiding party hastily traveled that night to take the Virginians by surprise.

Jack" Jouett, Jr., son of a Charlottesville tavernkeeper, was at the Cuckoo Tavern the evening of June third when he observed the British contingent and guessed Tarleton’s destination. Jouett rode all night to Monticello to warn the Governor. Jefferson was preparing breakfast for several members of the legislature staying there when Jouett arrived. After warning them Jack continued his ride to Charlottesville to warn the remaining assemblymen. Thomas Jefferson and his family departed for their farm, Poplar Forest, near Lynchburg. The legislators met in Charlottesville, fled, and reconvened in Staunton on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While Tarleton caught seven legislators, most of the assemblymen escaped capture and probably execution.

Red line is Lieut. Col. Banastre Tarleton’s route to Charlottesville. Blue line is the path taken by  Jack Jouett from Cuckoo Tavern to Monticello and Charlottesville.

Who were these men and why execution?

Several of these legislators were signers of the Declaration of Independence, all with death warrants.

Thomas Jefferson ~ held various influential offices including our third President.

Patrick Henry ~ Virginia’s first and sixth Governor

Benjamin Harrison ~ Virginia’s 5th Governor. He was the father and great-grandfather of two U.S. presidents.

Richard Henry Lee ~ Author of the Lee Resolution in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain

Thomas Nelson ~ the Fourth Governor of Virginia

Daniel Boone ~ frontiersman representing the Western territory of Virginia

The heroic ride of one young man incredibly impacted the course of American history.

Friday, January 1, 2021

First European Dwelling on the "Delightfullest Lake in the World"

I have a new novel coming out about a year from now, and the setting may not be entirely familiar to some readers. For that reason, I've embarked upon a series of posts meant to shed light on the history of the fur trade around Lake Superior, and in particular, along the northern Wisconsin (Ouiscansainte) shore and northeastern shore of present-day Minnesota. I hope to give readers an inside look into a rugged world long past--and to also glimpse a beautiful part of the country you can still discover today.

Last month, I wrote about how the Beaver Wars aided in European conquest of North America. Prior to the Beaver Wars, a few Jesuit priests and trappers, as well as some famous explorers like Nicolet, La Salle,  and Joliet reached Wisconsin. But long years passed until other white men came to the country. Finally, as those earlier wars died out, Europeans pushed further into the wilderness once again, including the intrepid entrepreneurs Pierre-Esprit Radisson and his brother-in-law Medard Chouart, Sieur des Groseilliers. (You have to wonder about the wives of such explorers. Perhaps they deserve a novel of their own. Hmm...) I digress. 

Pierre-Esprit Radisson

Radisson and Grosseilliers famously explored the Lake Superior region, including the upper Mississippi River between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Radisson became particularly well-known, since he was the first to author colorful descriptions of my state (Wisconsin) and of his experiences in the wilderness.

In 1659, upon reaching Lake Superior the first time, Radisson--who had previously travelled all over Europe, including to Italy--remarked, "We embarked ourselves on the delightfullest lake in the world." For such a traveler to call Lake Superior the delightfullest says something about the grandeur of the location.

Photo by Paul Ewing on Unsplash

Although other traders had come into the region, it's been purported that Radisson and Grosseilliers were the first white men to establish themselves for any duration, settling for about a year on Superior's pristine Chequamegon Bay, around which can now be found the towns of Ashland, Washburn, and Bayfield. It's said they built a dwelling here--a wooden cabin and a crude stockade--near where Ashland is today. 

I used to live in Ashland. Oh, how I wish I had known the history of the area prior to my living there when I was only nineteen!

This marker commemorates the first dwelling and stockade at the mouth of Fish Creek, where it empties into Chequamegon Bay. The creek was called Wikwedo-Sibiwishen by the Indians, meaning Bay Creek. There was a large village of Ottawa who raised Indian corn near here at one time. 

The temporary home built by the explorers was likely quite a crude cabin with a three-sided stockade. Radisson described it as having a door facing the water, and the pine-poled stockade itself was laid about with piles of boughs in which they'd strung a cord laced with little trade bells to give them warning of marauders, possibly the Huron for whom there was some apparent distrust. However, it was never put to the test, as they were never robbed or assaulted. 

A copyrighted drawing depicting what the building might have looked like can be viewed on the Wisconsin History site here

Surrounding Chequamegon Bay are beaches, red sandstone cliffs, and thick pine forests that stretch for hundreds of miles south and west, and all the way to Lake Michigan to the east. Myriad rivers wind through these dense woods, some coming so close to one another that Wisconsin became an intersecting highway all the way to the Mississippi and south to the Gulf, and via the Great Lakes northeast to Hudson's Bay and eastward to the coast--ideal routes for those who traded in fur for decades to come.

Radisson and Groseilliers were true coureur du bois (see my 2019 article), later credited with establishing the Hudson Bay Company, which still exists today. After passing their first long winter on the bay and trading with Ojibwe and Huron from they region, they then journeyed westward, following trails and rivers far into the Mille Lacs region of Minnesota, many miles away. The following spring, they returned again to Chequamegon Bay and built another shelter in a new location, this time possibly on a long sandspit. From there, after trading and adventuring as far northwest as Lake Assiniboine, they finally returned home to Quebec.

One thing is certain. The work done by Radisson and Grosseilliers paved the way for many more fur traders and missionaries to follow. Yet, the French eventually lost their foothold in this amazing country, due largely to their own king's lack of vision. Even Radisson and Grosseillier eventually turned their loyalties to the English when they were not only not recognized for their accomplishments, but actually punished for exceeding their granted authority.

Today, Ashland, Wisconsin is a small city that stands just east of their Fish Creek location. It is known as the mural capitol of Wisconsin. Life-sized scenes like the one above depicting Wisconsin's history are painted all throughout the city.

Wouldn't it be fun to travel to all the historical locations we read about in our favorite novels? Have you ever traveled somewhere just because it was in a location you read about in a novel? I don't travel much, but here I am dipping my toes in Chequamegon Bay. I wonder if Radisson and Grosseiliers ever lounged about, doing the same.

Here's to exciting explorations and discoveries for each of us in the coming new year!


Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas 2020 Colonial Quills Blog Party

Welcome to our Christmas Event here on Colonial Quills Blog! We're holding it virtually at Colonial Williamsburg. We hope you'll enjoy the pictures of the wreaths from 2020 at Colonial Williamsburg, taken by Carrie Fancett Pagels on a recent visit.

Come inside and join us at our party and 

enjoy our authors' messages to you!

Janet Grunst 

What a challenging year it has been for all of us. We’ve altered plans, and many of us have experienced loss, isolation, illness, grief, and discouragement. But it has also been a year of discovering new ways of keeping connected with others through technology, even attending church online.

What a comfort knowing none of this caught God by surprise. While Jesus came to us so humbly over two thousand years ago, He has never left us alone. He has left us His Spirit and assures us of His presence, provision, protection, power, and peace. Our prayer is you will have a blessed Christmas and a healthy and happy 2021.

I will be giving away a copy of Setting Two Hearts Free, the third story in my Revolutionary War series. The winner can either receive an e-copy or a paperback for those in the continental USA.

Carrie Fancett Pagels

One of the amazing things happening this year, in one of the darkest times in our country's history, is that we will experience on December 21st possibly what happened when our Lord was born in Bethlehem. This celestial event, where two planets draw together, appearing like a super bright star, may have been what occurred near Jesus's birth. What an encouragement in Roman-occupied Israel, and a sign that our Savior had come to earth, whether it was another celestial event or from the planets appearing to converge (which took place about 2 BC). I love that we once again have this occurring, which hasn't occurred in 800 years, which I see as a message from our Creator, that He is still there, that He still loves us, and that He once and for all banished sin through His beloved Son, that we may have eternal life. While media may be pointing us toward further dark times, let us instead look up, being reminded we have a heavenly home. We can have peace, in Christ, this Christmas, through the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit!

I'm giving away an audiobook copy (or other version if you aren't a listener!) of The Fruitcake Challenge, my new release on audiobook, now available on audiobook through and IF you have already purchased a copy of The Fruitcake Challenge through Amazon (110+ reviews, 4.5 Star rating!) you can purchase the audiobook for only $7.49, which I just discovered and is a great price! I know because I am an audiobook reader myself and I just on those deals!

I'm also giving away a copy of Mercy in a Red Cloak, which by the way, has a Christmas scene at the end of the novella! Winner can choose paperback or ebook. Set right after the French-Indian War, on Mackinac Island and in the Straits of Mackinac, this novella takes place during Pontiac's Revenge (but it's not right in the midst of it--so no bloody massacres on my pages!) Available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook.

Christy Distler

What a year 2020 has been. I’m pretty sure all of us, when we answered the 2015 question “What will you be doing in five years?” missed the mark—unless of course we answered, “Whatever the Lord will have me do.” This year He had a lot of us slow down and reorder our priorities. 2020 has brought so many changes, and much heartache for some, yet the one thing that never changes is our Father in heaven. He is still good, He is still ever faithful, and He still loves us more than our hearts and minds can fathom. My prayer for you this Christmas is that you’ll draw closer to Him and that His love will shine through you to those all around. “The magic of Christmas is not in the presents, but in His presence,” as one of our Christmas pictures says. Wishing you the joy and peace of His presence!

I’m giving away a copy of A Cord of Three Strands, which takes place in a Pennsylvania Quaker community during the French & Indian War (ebook or paperback, winner’s choice).

Shannon McNear

Hello, dear readers! As others have said, it has certainly been a year. My favorite meme on social media is the one which says, "Today marks five years since the start of 2020 ..." But doesn't it feel like that sometimes??

I'm so glad God is with us, though, in all our times: the good, the bad, the ugly. " content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5, ESV) And no one is beyond the reach of His grace, nor any situation too awful for Him to work for our good.

I am so thankful to be working on a new story, due out next December, and to have not one but TWO titles to release this year. I'm giving away a paperback copy of each. The Blue Cloak weaves an unlikely romance and a story of redemption against the backdrop of some of our country's most horrifying criminal events, spanning 1797-99. Not for the faint of heart! 

 My novella The Wise Guy and the Star in Love's Pure Light Collection is much lighter and sweeter, and tells of an encounter between a grieving WWI veteran and a pastor's daughter, all onboard a train journey from Charleston, South Carolina, to Kansas City, Missouri in 1919. If you're interested in either or both of these stories, leave a comment below and mention the word BLUE (for the first book) or LIGHT (for the second).

Blessings to you all for a wonderful Christmas and New Year's season!

Pegg Thomas

Hello everyone! While all of 2020 will have an asterisk beside it, at least during the Christmas season we can stop and reflect on the one thing untouched by the virus, Jesus Christ and His love for us.

One new adventure for me this year was putting out my first self-published ebook. Well ... I cheated. It's a novella from a Barbour collection, The Pony Express Romance, that has been discontinued, so the bulk of the work was already done. All I needed to do was get a cover made and learn the ropes of formatting and uploading to Amazon.

Although Embattled Hearts is set during the early years of the Civil War - and not Colonial - I hope you'll enjoy it. I'll give away two ebooks to two people who comment below on this blog.

My second new adventure was wading into the social media platforms of Parler and MeWe. If you're on those platforms, send me a follow request, I follow back!

Denise Weimer

Hello again, readers! I've taken a sabbatical from Colonial Quills since I had only contemporary stories releasing the past year, but I'll be posting again in 2021. My historical romance, Bent Tree Bride, the story of a mixed-blood lieutenant of the Cherokee Regiment who falls in love with his colonel's daughter during the Red Stick portion of the War of 1812 is coming in April. I'll be sharing some unique history from the Southern frontier of that time. 

This month, I joined the ladies of the Georgia Peaches Series by indie publishing my holiday novella, A Holiday Heart. It's a contemporary, but it does include a mystery related to an heirloom a grandmother leaves to her granddaughter. And it includes a mountain cabin, snow, and a heart-warming romance. I'm giving away an e-book copy to someone who comments below. If you leave a specific comment or question for me, I'll enter your name twice!

This is just a small gift in hopes of lifting spirits a bit. I pray Jesus will be your comfort and peace during these uncertain times. And I'm thankful we can be here for each other!

Blessings and Merry Christmas from my family to yours. 

Dear Guests:

If you would like to post something visual, like a party dress picture, please feel free to pop over to the FB Event page and do so--but the giveaways and author interaction will be right here on the blog today!

Thank you for being a Colonial Quills reader and for supporting our authors in their endeavors! Come sit down by the fire and let us pour you a nice hot beverage and serve you some colonial treats! Queen's Cake will no doubt make the rounds as well as our ginger cakes and scones!