Connie R. is the winner of one title from Joan Hochstetler's American Patriot Series in her May drawing! November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Friday, May 24, 2019

Lenni Lenape and Their Wars

Like so many Native American tribes, the Lenni Lenape were severely and negatively impacted by the arrival of the Europeans, but in the beginning, not in the way many people expect.
Related imageLiving along the waterways of the east coast, the Lenni Lenape's villages were in a prime location for trading with the Dutch settlers who arrived in the early 1600s. Trade with the Dutch was highly valued by other tribes like the Susquehannock to the west and the Mohawk and Mahican to the north, tribes who had been at war with the Lenni Lenape for generations. Tribes who wanted free access to the new Europeans trade.
From 1630 to 1635, the Susquehannock forced the Lenni Lenape to the east of the Delaware River into southern New Jersey and Delaware, which gave the Susquehannock full control of the trade route with the Dutch settlers. During that same period, there was a smallpox outbreak, a disease the Europeans introduced to the new shores. Between these two events, the 5-year war and smallpox, half the population of the Lenni Lenape were wiped out. They became a conquered people, subjected to the Susquehannocks and forced to fight in their wars.
In the 1660s, the Iroquois attacked the Susquehannock and their Lenni Lenape subordinates as yet another smallpox outbreak ravaged the east coast. By 1675, the Iroquois had beaten the Susquehannock and taken control of the Lenni Lenape.
By the time William Penn arrived in 1682, he "inherited the remnants of the wasted Lenni Lenape tribe."

But hang on … they make a comeback! More posts on this people group in the coming months.

In this series:

The Lenni Lenape People

Pegg Thomas writes "History with a Touch of Humor."

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

18th Century Hygiene, Part 1: Waste Management—And a Giveaway!

When you write historical fiction, as I do, you end up researching strange things. Such as hygiene and the contemporary sanitation systems. Today we take for granted that toilets, hot and cold running water for daily bathing, and sewer systems to carry off the waste are available everywhere. But it isn’t so long ago that those conveniences weren’t available. My focus of study has been the 18th century for quite a while, so for the next few posts I’m going to delve into various aspects of hygiene and sanitation. Today we’re starting with the all-important topic of waste management.

Many cities in Europe had latrines and sewer pipes from the time of the Roman Empire. However, by the 18th century, systems to take care of human waste weren’t widely available except in the largest cities and even there they were limited. Lacking flush toilets, people availed themselves of the good old chamber pot, which would be emptied either by the individual or a servant whenever it filled up, which in the meantime naturally occasioned interesting odors. Or not so much.

From the book Toilets of the World
by Morna E. Gregory & Sian James
Those who lived in proximity to water sources such as rivers, streams, and lakes dumped their waste into them, where it could drift downstream for someone else to deal with. But in cities and towns where waterways and cesspools weren’t close at hand, people simply emptied their chamber pots along with other wastewater from a window into the street, warning those below by hollering something like “gardy loo!”, a corruption of the French “Gardez l’eau” or “Watch out for the water!” This is where we get the tradition of gentlemen walking on the outside of a sidewalk to prevent ladies from being splashed by noxious substances as carriages passed. Human waste joined the animal dung already in the streets, so the stench of urine and feces, not to mention their physical presence, was common. And pungent. And whenever you went for a walk you had to be careful to watch your steps. I suppose you just got used to it, but …. eeewwww!!! I grew up on a farm, and we dealt with more of it than I care to remember!

Not only were chamber pots ubiquitous, but there was also a vessel called a bourdaloue. This was a type of chamber pot that conformed to the female form, a necessary when wearing hoops and layers of petticoats. With the help of a chambermaid women could use them while standing by lifting the petticoats out of the way. I actually found an image of a lady making use of one, but, alas, it is a bit too explicit to include here. This device was convenient to carry along when away from home or traveling. Actually, there’ve been times when I wished I had one on hand!

Bourdaloues originated in the 1700s and according to legend were named after the Jesuit priest Père Louis Bourdaloue. He preached at the court of Louis XIV, and it’s said that his sermons were so long that the ladies demanded small chamber pots convenient to use when at Mass. Other accounts maintain that Bourdoloue suffered from a disease called hypospadia and needed the vessel himself. Whatever the reason, they sure are pretty for such a mundane and intimate use. Hmm … they’d make a lovely pot for plants, don’t you think?

I’ve just received the first copies of Refiner’s Fire, Book 6 of my American Patriot Series—wooo hoooo!!!—so I’m offering a free copy! To enter the drawing, please answer the question below about my series in a comment on this post by the end of today. Of course, if the winner hasn’t read one or more of the previous books, they can choose any of the books of the series.

QUESTION: Who is your favorite character in the series and why?

If you’re entering the drawing, please include your email addy so I can contact you to get your mailing address if you win.
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers, a lifelong student of history, and an author, editor, and publisher. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Book 6, Refiner’s Fire, releases in June 2019. 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 13, 2019

A Colonial Mother's Day

On this day after Mother's Day, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the resources I've used over the years to recreate the day of a colonial woman, specifically a wife and mother, in my stories.

First are three books covering the basics of cooking and herbs, both culinary and medicinal, with tidbits of other historical information sprinkled throughout: The Backcountry Housewife: A Study of Eighteenth-Century Foods (Moss and Hoffman), Revolutionary War Period Cookery (Pelton), and Colonial Spices & Herbs (Mitchell). The other three are much more involved. First pictured is The Way of Duty: A Woman and Her Family in Revolutionary America (Buel & Buel), an account of Connecticut resident Mary Fish Silliman (1736-1818) and her family. Next is Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community during the American Revolution (Mayer), which I drew heavily on while writing my yet-unpublished RevWar story, Loyalty's Cadence, and for a previous article on camp-following wives (see also the excellent article on the same subject by Joan Hochstetler). Third is Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence (Berkin), a fascinating collection of accounts of women spanning patriots and loyalists, enslaved and free, European and native.

 "Mother's Day" as we know it, of course, would not become a thing until 1908 (thank you, Google), but what did a day in the life of a colonial mother look like?

As a wife and mother of a large family myself, I would say one word: BUSY. Running a household in any era is no walk in the park, but pre-technology, the workload was staggering, even if one had help in the way of family members, hired servants, or slaves. The assistance of grandparents and unmarried aunts (or uncles) was both expected and welcomed. Older children learned early to help as well, either in simple chores or with caring for both the very young and very old. The contribution of extended family was necessary to the overall workings of a family, which made westward expansion even more perilous in terms of emotional and physical well-being. Aging adults longed to be useful as long as possible and not mere drains on their family's precious resources.

The question remains whether women were seen as mere drudges to serve their families, or whether there was indeed a mostly unspoken honor to the role of wife and mother. I would say, both were true, depending upon the region and individuals involved. Women's rights were definitely on the radar, even for a "proper" Christian wife like Abigail Adams, as we see in a letter to her husband John:

"I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend."
Still, there was recognition in a woman's value in the family, as mother or otherwise, as implied in this quote by Abigail Adams:
If we mean to have Heroes, Statesmen and Philosophers, we should have learned women. The world perhaps would laugh at me, and accuse me of vanity, but you I know have a mind too enlarged and liberal to disregard the Sentiment. If much depends as is allowed upon the early Education of youth and the first principals which are instill'd take the deepest root, great benefit must arise from literary accomplishments in women.
Also there was recognition in the value just of rearing children, as stated in these words attributed to Benjamin Franklin--admittedly one of my favorites, and every bit as applicable to a woman as to a man:
He that raises a large family does, indeed, while he lives to observe them, stand a broader mark for sorrow; but then he stands a broader mark for pleasure too.
Busy a woman might be, subjected to uncertainty and hardship and other trials of this life, but many is the wife, mother, grandmother, sister, or aunt who has enjoyed a deep and lasting relationship with those entrusted to her care. One might argue that a woman's life was no less fulfilling or significant then than it is today.

(A nod to Carla Gade's excellent article from two years ago, Motherhood in Colonial Times.)

Friday, May 10, 2019


Banastre Tarleton and his cavalrymen, 'Tarleton's Raiders' are referenced at the battles of Waxhaws, Guilford Courthouse, and Green Spring in my third Revolutionary War story. One of Tarleton's Raiders has a minor but critical role. So who was Banastre Tarleton?

Tarleton was born in 1754 to a wealthy Liverpool merchant. His father purchased a Cornet’s commission for him in the King's Dragoon Guards after he graduated from Oxford University. Tarleton volunteered to serve in the colonies. In 1776, at twenty-two, he joined General Sir Henry Clinton’s Charleston Expedition. Ambitious and eager to make a name for himself, he was named Lieutenant Colonel of the newly formed, "British Legion" two years later. It was in 1780 when he was transferred to serve in the Southern Campaign, that his notorious reputation began.   

His ruthless conduct during several engagements coined the phrase "Bloody Tarleton" and "Tarleton’s Quarter". To give no quarter, a military idiom means to show no mercy or clemency. Tarleton was reported to have annihilated combatants trying to surrender.

One such controversial incident was the Waxhaw massacre in May of 1780 in South Carolina, between Abraham Buford’s Continental force and a Loyalist force led by Banastre Tarleton. During the surrender of the American forces, Tarleton was shot at during the truce causing his horse to fall on him. Thinking the truce broken, Loyalists and British troops attacked the Patriot forces including men surrendering. Many were killed, badly injured, or taken prisoner. The Battle of Waxhaws became an American propaganda tool to bolster recruitment and increase hostilities toward the British. There were mixed feelings as to whether this was a massacre or a terrible miscalculation.

Cornwallis ordered Tarleton to eradicate General Francis Marion, also known as The Swamp Fox, and his guerrilla fighters.  Tarleton pursued Marion for many hours and miles but was unsuccessful in that venture.

Banastre Tarleton
Mel Gibson’s movie, "The Patriot" was based on this pursuit.  In the film, the character William Tavington, portraying Banastre Tarleton even wears a similar uniform to Tarleton.
William Tavington

It’s been suggested by some historians, Tarleton’s ruthless tactics and treatment of the civilian population played a role in encouraging Americans with neutral attitudes toward the war to finally favor the Patriot cause.

Cornwallis sent Tarleton across the York River to Gloucester Point seeking an escape route when the British army was trapped at Yorktown. At the time of Cornwallis' surrender, Banastre Tarleton still at Gloucester Point, surrendered the British forces there but he stayed behind and asked General Rochambeau to grant him protection. He feared being personally attacked because of his infamous reputation.

Banastre Tarlton was disliked by the British as well as American forces. Many of his superiors believed he was too reckless and ruthless in battle. He was also censured by the Americans for his unmerciful treatment of Continental soldiers. After the surrender at Yorktown, when British leaders were invited to dine with Patriot leaders, Tarleton was not included.

Tarleton returned to England, continued his military career, and entered politics. In 1790, on his second attempt, he became a Member of Parliament. His military promotions continued, first to Colonel in 1790, and then, to Major general in 1794. He served under the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars. Tarleton was awarded a baronetcy in 1815, and a knighthood by the King in 1820. He died on January 23rd, 1833.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Pontiac and the Conspiracy that Shook an Empire

The French and Indian War, known also in Europe as the Seven-Years-war, was actually the fourth in a series of long and bloody clashes beginning in 1688 between European powers and their native American allies for control of a continent. The period from 1758-1763 we now call the French and Indian War followed King William’s War, Queen Anne’s War, and King George’s War. Collectively, they were known as the French and Indian wars.

In 1756 the most notable of these French and Indian Wars erupted. After six years of vicious fighting, the French abruptly abandoned many of their posts in the interior of the continent along the Ohio Valley and western Great Lakes. The swell of victory lay within England's grasp—except they did not realize that defeating the French did not mean the natives of that country would give up. Many tribes were not willing to hand over yet more of their ancestral lands to the Europeans for settlement and colonization.


Then emerged an Odawa leader who had fought alongside the French. His name was Pontiac, called Obwandiyag by the Odawa. He was born on a night of snow and rain, wind and thunder. It is said the elders of his tribe remarked that a great leader was being born. Little is known of his early life, but Pontiac grew to become an important war chief among the Odawa. He was furious when his French allies signed a treaty in 1763 handing over all their lands to the British. Pontiac believed that now the English would flood the country, building towns and pushing the Indians further off their ancestral lands. Pontiac believed the only way to stop this was for all the Indian nations to put aside their past disputes and join together to stop the English. He also hoped that the French would once again join in and help, for they had never shown the intense interest in colonization that the British did.

Indeed, he must have been a great leader and diplomat, for he brought together tribes that had been his peoples’ enemies for countless decades—the Huron, Shawnee, Munsee, Wyandotte, Seneca-Cayuga, Ojibwe, and Lenape—and convinced them that they must stand together against the English. The league of nations he gathered together became known as Pontiac’s Confederacy. In May of 1763, Pontiac’s Rebellion erupted with the siege of Fort Detroit and developed further as he began plucking off the British forts one by one, shaking the foundations of Britain's strength.

Pontiac's Rebellion (also called Pontiac's Conspiracy or Pontiac's War), however, was doomed to failure. In the autumn of 1764, the British military took the offensive, invading the Ohio Valley. Pontiac began to lose some of his followers. The British eventually resorted to negotiating with Pontiac to end hostilities, but the result was the exact opposite of what Pontiac hoped for, because it brought about a greater British military presence in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region. Pontiac was eventually assassinated by a Peoria warrior a few years later in the French town of Cahokia. Rumors have long circulated about his death.

I've long been interested in the history surrounding Pontiac's War. This coming November, 2019, will see the release of a new, 4-author, historical romance novella collection in which my story A TENDER SIEGE is set during Pontiac's War. The story follows one particular battle which I'll write about next time. Stay tuned here, and sign up for my newsletter for updates on that release.

You'll also want to stay in touch for a reminder about a FREE book download coming May 23-27 of my novel The Softest Breath, Echoes of the Heart, Book Two. (Book One is only $3.99) It's not a colonial era novel, but I hope you enjoy it. Mark your calendar!

Blessings for your May basket~