7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Face Painting 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 at the beginning of this installment, the woman he loves, Elizabeth Howard, is in France, the ultimate fashion destination during the second half of the 18th century. In my last post I took a look at 18th century hairstyles, and this post will cover the specifics of makeup during that period.

In England and France both men and women of the higher classes wore cosmetics from the 17th through most of the 18th century. The portrait of the French artist François Boucher by Gustaf Lundberg at right gives an idea of  what mens makeup might look like. 

In general the French applied makeup more heavily than the English. The goal was not to look natural, but to make an obvious statement of one’s class identity, with the added benefit that cosmetics also served to hide blemishes or the effects of disease, age, or sun. In fact, makeup was actually called “paint.” Wearing it identified one as aristocratic and à la mode. Naturally those of the bourgeois class who aspired to the heights of fashion and/or were trying to elevate their social status would also use cosmetics, although they generally didn’t apply them as heavily as the aristocracy did.

The ideal woman of the 18th century had a high forehead; plump, rosy cheeks; and white, or at least pale, skin. The use of heavy white paint on the face was actually considered more respectable than displaying your own naturally light skin. Fashionable eye colors included black, chestnut, or blue. Slightly full, semicircular, eyebrows that tapered at the ends into a half moon shape were preferred, as were small, soft, red lips with a slightly larger bottom lip that created a rosebud effect. The portraits of François Boucher, like the ones below, illustrate this look very well.

White face paint, called blanc, was applied across the entire face and shoulders, and veins were then traced on with blue pencil to highlight the skin’s whiteness. Blanc could be made from bismuth or vinegar. But because of its opacity, a formulation using lead was most popular, even though it was known to cause lead poisoning. Women actually died from using it. Talk about devotion to fashion!

Rouge was made of vermilion ground from cinnabar, which included mercury, or from creuse made by exposing lead plates to vinegar vapor. Like blanc both are toxic, but obviously that didn’t deter its users! Safer vegetable sources for rouge included safflower, wood resin, sandalwood, and brazilwood, which would be mixed with greases, creams, or vinegars to create a paste. Court ladies rouged their cheeks in wide swaths from the corner of the eye to the corner of the lips. Bourgeois and provincial nobility preferred neat circles of rouge at the center of the cheek to highlight the eyes and the skin’s whiteness.

The lips could be reddened with distilled alcohol or vinegar. By mid-century, however, you could buy red pomades for lips, some in stick form. Preferred shades varied from pink and coral to sometimes as dark as burgundy. Although in portraits you can see a bit of reddish color around the eyes, possibly caused by the contrast with the blanc or a reaction to the lead in it, they were otherwise left bare. Eyebrows might be darkened with kohl, elderberry, burnt cork, or lampblack. Some men and women of the court plucked or painted their eyebrows or used mouse fur to create false ones. I know….eeeeewwww! I can’t imagine what that must have looked like.

Beauty patches, or mouches, were part of the formal or aristocratic look and were meant to heighten the contrast with the white skin. Most popular in the 17th century but worn into the 18th as well, they were made of silk velvet, satin, or taffeta and attached to the face with glue. There could be many different sizes and shapes, and they were worn in various positions with specific meanings. Occasionally several were clustered together on the cheek or forehead in designs like trees or birds.

Below is a short, fun video on applying makeup in the 18th century style.

By the 1750s and 1760s cosmetics were becoming so popular that coiffeuses—vanity table sets—were widely advertised, and to capture the best light, dressing rooms began to be built facing north. By 1781, Frenchwomen were using about two million pots of rouge a year. But styles continue to evolve. In this case, with the advent of the French Revolution at the end of the decade, the painted look fell out of favor along with the aristocracy. Thereafter, fashion dictated a more natural style—if you were lucky enough to keep your head.

How do you think 18th century makeup and hairstyles compare with what people are wearing today? Are they any more bizarre than what you can see on the street or in your local Wal-Mart? I’d love to hear your opinion and comparisons!
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 ACFW Carol Award.

Friday, July 13, 2018


St. Luke’s Church, near Smithfield in Isle of Wight County, Virginia claims to be the oldest surviving church in Virginia still standing in the United States. According to local lore, the structure was built in 1632, however, much evidence suggests a date of 1682.

The church, a single-room brick structure with a twenty-foot-square tower began as an Anglican Church. When the Anglican Church
disbanded in America after the Revolutionary War and services were halted and not held again until 1821 when it became an Episcopal Church.

This church, also known as Old Brick Church is a gothic style, Flemish-bond brickwork building with buttresses, stepped gables, medieval,
timber trussed roof, and the original brick traceried windows. The building has undergone two renovations in its 336-year history. These restorations combine several architectural styles. The original clear diamond-paned, leaded glass windows were replaced with Tiffany-style, stained glass windows in the 19th century.

The primary entrance is through the tower archway. As one walks down the nave toward the chancel, there is some box seating in front for the gentry, with pews located behind. The current pews are more modern than the high-back pews that would have been there in colonial times.

Around 1652, Joseph Bridger, a young English royalist established Whitemarsh, the largest estate south of the James River and the second largest home in 17th-century Virginia. He was the principal financier of the St. Luke’s and some of his remains are prominently interred in the chancel of the church. 

A rare 1630 English Chamber Organ, once owned by a family of Hunstanton Hall, Norfolk, England for over 300 years sits in the side of the chancel and is in playing order. It has a paneled oak case and painted front wooden pipes. The inside of the folding doors are painted with Biblical characters.

St. Luke’s, still an open cemetery, has gravestones from every era. A beautiful statue of St. Luke is situated where it can be easily seen by visitors.

St. Luke's was designated a National Historic Landmark October of 1966 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1957 the site was designated a National Shrine at the time of the 350th anniversary of Jamestown.    

Visitors to St. Luke’s, 14477 Benns Church Blvd, Smithfield, VA 23430 can have guided tours seven days a week between February and December.

The Site is also available for private rentals including weddings, funerals, baptisms, and other special events.

If you are near Smithfield, Virginia, it’s well worth a visit.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Rigors of Colonial-Era Travel

Much-romanticized view of traveling through Cumberland Gap

Planes, trains, and automobiles … none of those had been invented yet during America’s colonial era. So how did people get around?

The most obvious method is on horseback, or by carriage or wagon. But not every manner of conveyance was suitable for every kind of journey.

Freight, for instance, was most likely carried by horse-drawn wagon or ox-drawn cart, which I discussed in another post. The oxen were most often driven by use of a long, slender rod and verbal commands, with the drover walking alongside, but horses were driven from the seat of the wagon. On a long journey with larger numbers of people, however, the able-bodied would walk to save exertion on the horses, leaving only the infirm or small children to ride.

Both ox-carts and wagons required a proper road for passage, thus the term wagon road to distinguish from a bridle path, where walking or mounted on horseback was required. Carriages or coaches needed even better roads.

So, in cities and towns, and in well-populated areas with good roads, people could be free to use coaches or carts of varying sizes without too much worry. But what about when folk desired to travel to, say, the wilderness? How did they manage to get there?

This was a question I had to explore while planning my upcoming novel The Cumberland Bride, which traces the journey of one fictional party of settlers from eastern Tennessee up into the wilds of Kentucky. First I had to figure out exactly when the Wilderness Road was opened for wagon travel. At the time my story is set, 1794, the route had been improved to a wagon road from southwestern Virginia, across east Tennessee and up to Cumberland Gap, but northward the way was still too rugged for wagon travel.

People had to pack things, then, onto horses and mules, and either ride horseback and walk. They’d often put small children or mothers with babies aboard the pack horses, but for the most part people made the journey on foot. They’d face rocky terrain, fallen trees, steep hills, muddy ground, creeks and rivers of varying widths and depths, wetlands, mud flats, and sand pits, as well as dangers from wild animals and hostile natives. They risked frostbite, sunstroke, heat exhaustion, and other injury and illness, including a nasty condition called “foot scald” if they walked too long in wet shoes.

Travel on good roads by coach was still no easy affair. Long hours of bouncing and jostling often made many prefer to be directly on horseback, and I think I’d have agreed with them, even with my aging body!

We moderns like to think, however, that we could be tough, but I’m continually amazed at the tenacity and fortitude of folk who traveled long distances in those days before the comparatively “easy” travel methods of the present. It's incredible the lengths our ancestors went to, to try to make a better life for themselves and their children.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Independence Day 2018 by Carrie Fancett Pagels

If you're like many Americans then you'll be traveling this weekend for festivities related to our nation's Independence Day! Whether you live in a historic area like Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Yorktown where the last great battle of the Revolutionary War took place, Philadelphia, Washington DC, or points much further west in our great country, we at Colonial Quills hope you'll remember what our freedom means.

We're free to worship as we please. We don't tolerate taxation without representation. We're guaranteed certain rights. Like the choice to attend a small town parade to celebrate. To look up in awe as fireworks light up overhead, in my case over the Straits of Mackinac where within a short distance another country, Canada, has its shores. (Canada has a celebration July 1st, also sending up fireworks over the Great Lakes and elsewhere, but independence won without a war.)

Looking for some inspirational reading over the weekend?  Click here to read the full text of the Declaration of Independence.

Let freedom ring!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Pennsylvania's Colonial Plain People: Quakers, Amish, and Mennonites

After my post last month, which touched on Quaker disownment, one reader mentioned how it seemed similar to shunning, a practice most commonly seen in Anabaptist (primarily Old Order Amish and some Mennonite) communities. So I thought this month I’d talk some about these plain communities, their similarities, and their differences during Pennsylvania’s colonial times.


Friends (Quakers) first came to America in 1655. The first two settlers were women, Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, from Barbados. The Puritans persecuted and imprisoned them, but a local man, Nicholas Upsall, was converted to Quakerism by them and helped establish the first Monthly Meeting of Friends in Massachusetts. Twenty years later, Quakers settled in New Jersey, and with William Penn’s holy experiment, throngs of Quakers who were being persecuted by the crown in England immigrated to America.

Like the Friends, the Amish and Mennonites also came to America fleeing persecution due to their religious beliefs. The first group, Northern German Mennonites, arrived in Germantown (now part of Philadelphia) in 1683, and a much larger migration (this time from Switzerland and Southern Germany) began in 1707, also with Pennsylvania as their destination. The Amish, a more conservative sect who broke away from the Mennonites in 1693, began coming to America in the early eighteenth century.


Friends came primarily from England, so they spoke English. That said, they employed “plain speech”—using thee, thou, thy, and thine, as well as some other speech differences, as a denial of any caste system in human interactions. While plain speech is used much less now, some Friends still speak it while interacting with other Quakers.

Amish and Mennonites generally spoke German, as well as a dialect of it called Pennsylvania Deitsch (commonly known as Pennsylvania Dutch now). Pennsylvania Dutch is still used by Old Order Amish people, as well as by many in the Old Order and conservative Mennonite communities.


In colonial times, Quakers didn’t have a prescribed dress. However, they did clothe themselves differently from those around them. During the eighteenth century, they tended to wear clothing that had been in fashion ten to fifteen years prior, mainly due to their frugality. They dressed well (many were quite wealthy), took care of their clothing, and wore it for as long as it lasted. As well, adornments (of which there were many in high society) were discouraged. Some Friends were more “plain” than others, and in the nineteenth century the dress became more distinct. Plain dress among Quakers is fairly uncommon now, although there are some Friends in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia who have taken up dressing plainly again (as well as using plain speech regularly).

Not much description is given of colonial-era Amish and Mennonite clothing, although author Daniel Rupp, in his book on Lancaster County, reported that in 1727, “a number of Germans, peculiar in their dress” had settled in the county. Of course, no specifics on this peculiar dress are given. Clearly, they dressed differently from those around them, but that could mean several things. We know they eschewed adornments, like the Quakers, and that by the nineteenth century, dress became prescribed. Today, the Old Order Amish follow (fairly) strict dress codes that differ some by community, and the Old Order and more conservative Mennonite groups do as well.


Christianity: Colonial Quakers were Christians. They believed in the deity of Christ, and that their salvation came only through Him. As well, they gave great attention to the “Inner Light” (God’s presence within a person), a belief that is unique to Friends. While not all Friends are Christians today, Quakers still hold fast to their belief in the Inner Light.

Amish and Mennonites were and are Christians as well. They believe in the deity of Christ, although some of the most conservative groups don’t believe in assurance of salvation. They definitely have never espoused the Inner Light, and some sects would consider it blasphemous.

Worship Services: The Inner Light resulted in Friends’ “meeting for worship,” which was quite different from Amish and Mennonite church services (or any other Christian service, really). During meeting, Friends sat in silence—praying, meditating on Scripture, and listening for the Inner Light—then stood up and speak if so led. These meetings often went on for hours during colonial times. While the earliest meetings were held in Friends’ homes, meetinghouses were generally built soon after families settled in an area.

Amish and Mennonites differ among themselves on worship. The Old Order Amish have never had meetinghouses, instead meeting in members’ homes. Historically and currently, Old Order and conservative Mennonites meet in meetinghouses, and hold services of up to three hours. (Side note: their wooden benches are equally as uncomfortable as Quaker wooden benches ).

Nonresistance: Drawing on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Friends, Amish, and Mennonites hold nonresistance as a stalwart tenet. This includes not fighting in or contributing to war in any way, turning the other cheek, and rejecting capital punishment, among other things. For this reason, Pennsylvania had no militia until the 1750s. Somewhat connected, all groups also contributed to the care of the less fortunate. The Amish have always tended to be more insular in this way, whereas Friends have been very generous in their care of others. Mennonites vary from more insular to very generous, depending on which group they belong to.

Discipline: Friends, Old Order Amish, and Old Order Mennonites (and some conservative Mennonite sects) have historically used some form of discipline on members who step out of bounds. Friends called it disownment, and while it rescinded membership, those who were disowned could still interact with family and friends, attend meeting, etc. The Old Order Amish called it shunning, and a shunned member’s relationship with the family and community was basically completely severed. The Old Order Mennonites called it excommunication, and while it was generally not as severe as shunning, it resulted in much distress.  Disownment is rare among Quakers today, but the Amish and Old Order Mennonites still practice shunning and excommunication respectively.

Three of Pennsylvania’s plain communities—all come to the state as a result of religious persecution—similar and yet different. If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer them.