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.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Who Were the Shawnee?

Artist's concept of a Shawnee warrior in the 1700's
Students of the colonial era are probably most familiar with the Iroquois Nation or the Cherokee, but the Shawnee were certainly a force to be reckoned with as well, especially when it came to settling the Ohio Valley. They have a bit of a reputation for fierceness, but—who exactly were they?

To begin with, the name “Shawnee” roots from a word that means “southerner” in many native languages. In the various migrations that occurred over North America, the tribe known as Shawnee were pushed southward by the Iroquois and settled for a while in South Carolina, eventually winding up as far south as Florida and Alabama. I found it interesting that there’s even a linguistic tie between Shawnee (Shaawanowi, from shawunogi—and understand that native spellings were as fluid as English ones in the time, mostly existing for the sake of capturing pronunciation) and the name Savannah, since according to at least one source that’s what the colonists of South Carolina called them. (Which is easy to see, if you soften the modern pronunciation and accent from emphasis on that hard short A in the second syllable, and consider how the Germanic V and W were often interchangeable.)

So who were the Shawnee, in the midst of other native tribes? Not only were they known as the “restless” people, with a loose social structure that probably evolved as a result of their wanderings, but they were known as proud, thoughtful, fiercely independent, in some cases shutting down the efforts of Christian missionaries before they could even get a good start. They regarded their own spirituality as superior to everyone else’s—including other native tribes, which is nothing new to human nature. William Penn, however, who took great care to treat native peoples with as much consideration and dignity as he would want shown himself, suggested that the Shawnee and others descended from some of the lost tribes of Israel. In addition to citing similarities to Hebrew in their language, he wrote:

“For their original, I am ready to believe them of the Jewish race; I mean of the stock of the ten tribes, and that for the following reasons: First, they were to go to a land not planted or known, which to be sure, Asia and Africa were, if not Europe, and he that intended that extraordinary judgment upon them, might make the passage not uneasy to them, as it is not impossible in itself, from the easternmost part of Asia, to the westernmost part of America. In the next place, I find them of like countenance, and their children of so lively resemblance, that a man would think himself in Dukes’ Palace, or in Berry Street, in London, when he seeth them; but this not all: they agree in rites; they reckon by moons; they offer their first fruits; they have a kind of feast of tabernacles; they are said to lay their altar upon twelve stones; their mourning a year; customs of women, with many other things that do not now occur.” (History of the Shawnee Indians from the year 1681, to the year 1701, as cited by Henry Harvey)

Whether we also believe this could be true, or not, they were a remarkable people, a study as many native tribes were in contradictions but with their own code of honor that in some ways could be considered amazingly biblical. Flaws and admirable qualities alike, they are definitely a fascinating people!


For my upcoming release, The Cumberland Bride, set on the Wilderness Road into Kentucky in 1794, I did as much research on the Shawnee people as on the Wilderness Road itself, and found some great resources:

History of the Shawnee Indians, From the Year 1681 to 1854, Inclusive by Henry Harvey.

The Shawnees and the War for America, Colin G. Calloway.

Native American Tribes: The History and Culture of the Shawnee, by Charles River Editors

The Magic Moccasins: Life Among Ohio's Six Indian Tribes, Volume One, Delaware/Shawnee/Mingo, by Jane Barks Ross.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sneak peak at The Tory's Daughter!

Take a sneak peek at The Tory's Daughter available this fall!

May 1781, Mohawk Valley

Nine months…and he still felt like a rotted-out stump. Hollow. Joseph Garnet lowered to his knees on the soft soil and glanced at his baby girl, nine months old today. She sat at the foot of her mother’s grave, gnawing on the end of the twig her brother had just handed her. 

James, now two-and-a-half, searched the immediate area for more treasure. A pebble came to hand, and he brought it to Joseph. “Papa, look.”

Joseph took the smooth rock and placed it near the roughhewn cross bearing Fannie’s name. “Should we leave it here for Mama?”

Little James, named for his grandfather, nodded. “Want Mama.”

“You and me both.” Joseph filled his lungs. The air was laden with the scent of moisture and earth. Spring. The season had done little to dull the loneliness winter had festered within him. He was busy with planting, but that also meant he had less time with his children.


He sighed. Rachel had probably forgotten something for the children. His sister worried too much. Did she not trust him to manage his own young’uns for a couple of hours? That was all he’d asked for this Sabbath day.

His name echoed closer now.

Joseph stood and plucked Martha and her twig from the ground. He didn’t need Rachel to find him here. Again. Judging from her frantic tone, he’d best hurry. A child in each arm, Joseph breached the edge of the grove to see Rachel rushing across the freshly turned earth of the garden, skirt pulled almost to her knees.

“The raiders. They’re back.”

Joseph faltered. “What? Where?”

Rachel pushed strands of blonde away from the perspiration moist on her face. “Down river, maybe ten miles. A boy came riding. They need help.”

“The Frankfort area? Where’s Andrew?”

She motioned behind to where her husband stepped from the small barn—hardly more than a shed—their own little girl in his arms. “You’ll meet the others at the old fort.” Rachel reached for the baby and James. “I’ll stay here with the children.”

Thoughts taking flight with his pulse, Joseph managed a nod before sprinting past her and shoving into the cabin. He grabbed the musket from over the door, and then snatched up his pistol and powder horn. His hunting knife he slid into his boot. Would there ever be an end to this fighting−this war? Joseph’s stomach already turned. Hadn’t there been enough bloodshed? Years ago he’d learned to despise this waste of life−even before a British officer became his closest friend…and family.

Andrew Wyndham met him outside with the horses. “Otetiani’s raiders by the sounds of it.” The rich tones of England still rolled from Andrew’s tongue despite his four years’ residence in the Mohawk valley. He handed Joseph the reins to Hunter, and then swung aboard the younger horse. “They rode from the lakes and have been killing and burning their route southward.”

Joseph mounted and clenched the reins.

The locals had come to call the Mohawk chief Bloody Bear for the death his warriors brought to the valley. The thought of the raiders coming anywhere near his home and family wrung a cold sweat from the back of Joseph’s neck. Last summer had become so dangerous, they’d set up makeshift shelters in Old Fort Schuyler, only venturing out during the day to work and harvest the land.

Winter’s reprieve was at an end.

With Joseph’s baby daughter in one arm and little James holding his younger cousin’s hand, Rachel shooed the children into the cabin, before she glanced back. Her free hand rose, but didn’t quite manage a wave. Rachel’s brown eyes mirrored Joseph’s fear…and his weakness, exposing him.
He spurred Hunter toward the road.

“Please be careful. Come back to me. Both of you.”

“We shall,” Andrew said, and then clicked his tongue.

Joseph beat him to the road, having saved himself from answering. He would not make promises that couldn’t be kept, and he’d learned all too well the extent of control he held over death.

The ex-British captain brought the sorrel gelding alongside Joseph’s stallion and kept pace with the dust-churning gallop. He looked at Joseph with a gaze far too searching.

Joseph ignored him and encouraged Hunter’s gait. Lives and farms were at stake−no time to wonder what went through the other man’s head.

Minutes later the trail broke past the thick spring foliage and the log walls of the old fort, a remnant of the French and Indian War, rose from the grassy meadow. The rush of the nearby river did nothing to drown out the raised voices of the seven men gathered near the gate.

“What’s going on?” Joseph reined Hunter into the center of the foray.

“The raid is all the way down near Frankfort,” Cyrus Acker grumbled. His grown son was also present, but, as always, remained in his father’s shadow. “By the time we ride that far, Bloody Bear and his renegades will likely be gone. Meanwhile, we leave our families unprotected and our fields unplanted. How do we know he’s not riding under Brant again?”

Even Brant’s name was enough to chill Joseph’s blood. No other Iroquois leader had caused so much devastation in the area, often commanding many of the other chiefs, and their warriors, against the Patriots who remained in the valley.

A couple of the men mumbled their agreement with Acker. Others made known their opposition.

Benjamin Reid, Joseph’s father-in-law, shook a finger at them. “And what of those families down river? Do we simply ignore them until the raiders reach our own settlement?” His hand rested on his cane which hung alongside his musket.

Voices again rose, and Joseph jerked Hunter’s head, spinning him away.

“Where are you going, Garnet?”

“To fight some Iroquois.” He kicked the animal to a run. He’d fight whoever came against this valley until there was no one left to fight. Talk wouldn’t save lives. Whoever felt the same way would follow or…he’d worry about that later.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Location, Location, Location with Debra E. Marvin

Prime Real Estate always gets a good price. In the matter of the Niagara River, gateway to the interior of the North American Continent, three major countries fought and paid with blood to control this important spot.

Travel by europeans began with the French fur trade industry, the first non-native people to travel deep into the cold upper regions of this inhospitable land. Inhospitable to those not willing to trudge along "Indian" paths and ford rocky rivers. North American was a land of abundant trees. Rivers were its highways.

What we know as Fort Niagara is at the mouth of the Niagara River where it flows into Lake Ontario, the last (or first) lake to tie into the great St. Lawrence River. (Depending if you are going with the current or against it!)

The Great lakes are central in the continent and connected all the way out to the north Atlantic, making them a most important travel route.

The current site of Fort Niagara began around  1679 when it became a small, temporary French Fort called Fort Conti. Facing a cruel winter, the soldiers left and it wasn't until 1687 that a large effort was made to build Fort Denonville. Without any reason to tough out another brutal winter, the fort was again abandoned until politics forced a permanent site. In 1726 the incredible building known as The French Castle was erected, making it a site worth fighting over. British soldiers and navy men took it over in 1759 during the French and Indian War (the Seven Years War), only to give it up again in 1796 to the new country of The United States.

But wait, there's more...

Britain gained it back in another battle during the War of 1812. They remained there from 1813-1815, then returned it to those ungrateful rebels, the U.S. Army.

This is the story of so many forts throughout North America and I imagine around the globe.

The French Castle
Thankfully no blood has been shed there in warfare in a long time, only bloodied knees and bloodied blisters of visitors and reenactors.
The view from the south block house toward French Castle along the lake shore, during a reenactment weekend.

I hope you've had a chance to read The Backcountry Brides Collection and The Captive Bride, both  from Barbour Publishing, and both utilizing this tremendous historical treasure in upstate New York.

This month, I'm giving away a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to one random new subscriber to my newsletter. (contest includes new entries through June, July and August, so sign up today if you're not already a follower.)

Buy Links for The Backcountry Brides Collection
Amazon paperback and digital ebook

Wolf Pelt and Musket and Feeling Silly

Friday, July 27, 2018

Great Lakes Lighthouses

What does The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection have to do with Colonial America? Nothing. But ...

Founding CQ author, Carrie Fancett Pagels and I are both authors in this upcoming collection that releases in November. 

Carrie and I both love the Great Lakes and there is a lot of Colonial history here. However, the first Great Lakes lighthouse was not erected until 1825 in what would become the state of Michigan at Fort Gratiot.

Faster, cheaper, and free from attacks by Natives, shipping on the Great Lakes was the answer to moving a lot of people and materials in and out of the northern Great Plains. But it wasn't necessarily safer. Rocks, shoals, islands, and other obstacles - many of them difficult or impossible to see in the dark or during bad weather -  ripped open the hulls of unsuspecting ships.

Lighthouses were the answer, and they popped up along the shorelines of the Great Lakes in amazing numbers from 1850 - 1860. Construction slowed during the Civil War, only to increase with even more lighthouses build between 1870 - 1925. 

Along the shorelines, on riverbanks, and on islands that dot our great inland seas, many of these lighthouses still stand tall and strong and still guide vessels along their way. New technology has replaced the lonely lighthouse keepers, but many of the buildings are open to tourists and include an intriguing glimpse into the past.

If you're roaming around the Great Lakes, take time to visit one of these lighthouses. You won't regret it!

Pegg Thomas
Writing History with a Touch of Humor

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.