September Tea Party Winners: Janet Grunst's -- A Heart For Freedom for Chappy Debbie
audible of A Heart Set Free for Lucy Reynolds Roseanna White's is Wilani Wahl -- Debra E. Marvin's -- Kaily Behrendt paperback of Dangerous Deception, Carrie Fancett Pagels' -- The Victorian Christmas Brides collection goes to Nancy McLeroy!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Who Were the Hessians?

Hessian hussars in America

The historical note in the back of a novel can only cover just so many topics, and I recently discovered a few holes in mine. A very “meh” review on my newly released title The Cumberland Bride (granted, it was a 5-chapter free preview) made me realize I’d never addressed a particular issue of the family’s backstory—that is, the heroine’s father, Karl Gruener, having been a Hessian in the employ of the British army during the American Revolution.

So who were the Hessians? Essentially, they were German mercenaries hired by Great Britain, and not just for the American Revolution. Surprising? Let's look at the details.

During the American colonial era, Germany was not one unified country. It was a collection of imperial states, each granted authority under the Holy Roman Empire, which included Prussia, Bavaria, Hesse-Hanau, and Hesse-Kassel. The troops of the last two in particular regularly hired out to other countries during the 1700’s, and in at least one case even fought on opposite sides, such as during the War for Austrian Succession, under Britain and Prussia. Because so many came from Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Hanau, these troops were often referred to as simply “Hessians,” and so the term stuck.

The first German mercenary troops used during the American Revolution landed in 1776 and fought in many of the battles between British and Continental troops, including during the Southern Campaign. These troops were comprised of Jagers (infantry), Hussars (cavalry), artillery, and grenadiers. Jagers were the ones I’d heard most about, many of them sharpshooters and brought in as “anti-sniper” troops because they often carried German-made rifles that rivaled the ones carried by backcountry militia. Their skill could be as legendary as American riflemen, and the faith was attested to, albeit mockingly, by the British colonel Lord Rawdon, who had this to say about their behavior under pressure (in this case, at the prospect of being fired upon while crossing a river):

The Hessians, who were not used to this water business and who conceived that it must be exceedingly uncomfortable to be shot at whilst they were quite defenceless and jammed so close together, began to sing hymns immediately. Our men expressed their feelings as strongly, though in a different manner, by [cursing] themselves and the enemy indiscriminately with wonderful fervency.

And yes, for those who have read The Cumberland Bride, this event, from September 1776, is the one I reference in the opening scene.

The Capture of Hessians at Trenton
A large number of Hessians were taken captive in the Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776, and farmed out along with British soldiers to the surrounding countryside. While the British-born reportedly did not take well to their captivity, many of the German prisoners wound up abandoning military service in favor of the American colonies. I’ve heard stories of the British deserting as well, but apparently Hessians did so in larger numbers. Maybe because the British felt they had a larger stake in the conflict?


Quote from Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes, Christopher Hibbert. Also thanks to Wikipedia for an excellently footnoted article on the Hessians ... and to a particular group of reenactors I met years ago at the Battle of Parker's Ferry, whose name I've sadly lost track of.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Fur Trade History Comes Alive at the Lester River Rendezvous! (Enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway!)

Rats! I missed the firing of the cannon. Three times! Every time the reenactors prepared to fire the cannon last weekend at the annual Lester River Rendezvous, I was engrossed in some other amazing learning experience and didn't get to watch. I sure heard it though! I had been anticipating the rendezvous most of the summer, not unlike the northerners of a bygone era.

For nearly a century, primarily in the 1700s and early 1800s, trappers, traders, Native Americans, Métis, Frenchmen and Scots, British and American -- among them the flamboyant voyageurs -- arrived from points scattered throughout the wilderness for the yearly festivities called the rendezvous. Rendezvous took place at important forts all throughout the Great Lakes region. At these locations, men who'd lived a rugged existence in the wilderness harvesting furs, company clerks, or bourgeois company men arriving from the east, came together to engage in the exchange of pelts for goods. In the process a fortune was made for the North West, XY, and Hudson's Bay companies. But the rendezvous was also a time when all these wilderness folk enjoyed revelry, feasting, gaming, and occasionally brawling. The event would last for several weeks in summer, then just as quickly when it ended, everyone would disperse. The hunters and trappers returned to the forest and native villages, the clerks to their posts, the voyageurs to winter in the Upper Country or back to Montreal with canoes mounded with bales of pelts, eager to satisfy the European hunger for fur.

This last week I attended a re-enactment of one of those events just north of Duluth, Minnesota on the Lester River where it twists and tumbles over rocks and down the hill. There it spills into magnificent Lake Superior. I couldn't absorb the experience any more eagerly! Here are some highlights.

This fellow went by the rendezvous name of Jacques LeChristian. I asked him right off if he was a bourgeois trader, and his eyes brightened. "Why, yes I am!" he said. Later in the day I purchased a CD of voyageur legends told by my new friend Monsieur LeChristian.

The  Lester River Rendezvous is set up mostly as an educational village open for two days to school groups, and then one day for the general public. Thousands of visitors enjoy free entrance onto the site where they can partake in food and music, and most excitingly, a visit to the Voyageurs' Village.

Here I am on the river, experiencing the excitement of the rendezvous which has so much to do with the time and setting my new novel Mist O'er the Voyageur coming out next Wednesday.                                                                                                         
I enjoyed a number of demonstrations of how people used to live during those times while I strolled through Voyageur Village at the rendezvous. In future posts, I'll give some of the "how to" details I learned for everything from rendering bear fat to starting a fire with char cloth and flint.

The lady above was of Métis heritage. I enjoyed hearing her talk about her ancestors and the vital role of the Métis in the fur trade and voyageur era. She also sewed all these beautiful costumes!

This lady was busy tanning hides. She described various processes to do it, depending on the type of finished product. Here, she is softening a rabbit hide. She also had a large number of other interesting items on display including this box of glass beads. Beads were a popular trade item during for many years.


The lady in the photograph above is making sour dough cinnamon rolls. Not so unusual in itself. However; she's also teaching about the process of making and keeping sour dough, and she's baking them over the fire in a "Dutch oven". More on that in a future post!

This red-hatted fellow was so engaging! He had the children and adults enraptured as he demonstrated the method used to build fires back in a time when matchsticks hadn't been invented. He had to take special precautions with that beard! 

Above we have the tinsmith selling his wares, and below is the blacksmith. I wish I could have invested in the beautiful ax or some of the gorgeous knives he created. I settled for a lovely little robe hook for $2. Now that's an affordable souvenir!

Talk about a pot of soup! This big kettle was called the chaudier by the French voyageurs. Brigitte Marchal, the heroine in my tale, becomes very familiar with that piece of equipment! (I could use one of these for family gatherings.)

Though this was not a real birch bark canoe (this one was "disguised" as a real canoe so that the kids could get inside and learn to paddle) I had to get a picture standing next to the North West Company emblem.

Have you attended any rendezvous re-enactments? Next on my schedule are the Forts Folle Avione Rendezvous on the Yellow River in Northwest Wisconsin, and the Great Grand Portage Rendezvous in Grand Portage, Northeastern Minnesota. Living History provides a learning environment of discovery and engagement in a way that reading a history book can't provide. Whatever part of history you're curious about, from the French and Indian wars, to the Civil War, to visiting an historical speakeasy -- it's a vivid way to dig deeper into history that you don't want to miss!

Now it's time for a drawing!
With my novel, Mist O'er the Voyageur coming out in less than a week, I'm celebrating with 3 chances to win an e-book and the opportunity to win the Grand Prize Drawing at month's end. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. (The book is also available for pre-order until it releases.)

Catch you again in the pages of history~
Naomi Musch

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 28, 2018

Were the Quakers Christian?

When I've talked with people about my Colonial-era trilogy involving the Quakers, I've found that many - perhaps most - believe that the Quakers were a religious sect, perhaps even a cult, but that they were not Christian.

George Fox, the acknowledged founder of the Quaker movement, penned these words in a letter to the governor and assembly of the Barbados Islands in 1671:

"And we own and believe in Jesus Christ, his beloved and only begotten Son, in whom he is well pleased; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; who is the express image of the Invisible God, the first-born of every creature, by whom were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, principalities, or powers, all things were created by him. And we do own and believe that He was made a sacrifice for sin, who knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; that he was crucified for us in the flesh, without the gates of Jerusalem; and that he was buried, and rose again the third day by the power of his Father, for our justification; and that he ascended up into heaven, and now sitteth at the right hand of God. This Jesus, who was the foundation of the holy prophets and apostles, is our foundation; and we believe that there is no other foundation to be laid than that which is laid, even Christ Jesus; who tasted death for every man, shed his blood for all men, and is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world; according as John the Baptist testified of him, when he said, ' Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.' John i. 29.

Now ... what say you?

Watch for The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection, releasing November 1, 2018. "Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 bring hope to these lonely keepers and love to weary hearts."
Pre-orders available on Amazon now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Visit to Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum

Pasture with the 1750s Log Farm house in the background
September 22, 2018 was Smithsonian magazine's Museum Day, when free tickets are offered to various museums in the country. We happened to be in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that day, so we got tickets to visit the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. While most of the buildings date later than the colonial period, the Log Farm section depicts Pennsylvania German life in the 1750s. This post will focus on the Log Farmstead.

The Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum is the largest museum dedicated to the history of the Pennsylvania Germans (or Pennsylvania Dutch, as they're often called, though they're not Dutch at all—the Dutch comes from mispronunciation of Deutsch, the German word for German). The museum depicts Lancaster County farming life during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the village, which includes the many structures listed below, and the museum, which houses a collection of farming implements and other decorative arts pieces. In addition, the museum has an award-winning Heirloom Seed Program (growing plants, field crops, and vegetables that are now disappearing), and offers classes in folk art and driving of horses and oxen. It is in every way a living history museum.

The 1750s Log Farmstead includes a log house (two rooms), a pasture, two barns, a spring house, and a woman's garden:

The Log Farmstead

Log Farmstead kitchen 

Log Farmstead bedroom

Log Farmstead barn

Sheep in the barn

My kids favorite part of the whole village: this (gigantic!) hog was having the time of her life in the mud. According to one of the workers, she also loves to eat pumpkins whole.

Bulls in the pasture

This mare and her foal loved eating the Chinese chestnuts (buckeyes) we found growing nearby.

Inside the spring house

Woman's garden

Other buildings in the village include the original brick farmstead and Grossmutter house (circa 1830), a sexton's house (staffed by a leatherworker), a blacksmith shop (moved to the farm from Gettysburg, circa 1880), a farm machinery and tool barn, the Landis Valley House Hotel (built in 1856), the Maple Grove Schoolhouse (an Amish school built in 1890 about three miles from the museum), a country store (recreated to depict 1900), a firehouse, a tin shop, a tavern (recreated to represent a tavern circa 1800–1820), a gunshop, and some outbuildings.

If you're ever in the Lancaster area and would like to visit, the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum is open year round. More information is available at www.landisvalleymuseum.org.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

New Release Tea Party Time!

I’m Heather Stewart. Welcome to Stewarts’ Green, our ordinary located in the Virginia countryside. Please come in and help yourself to some scones, ginger biscuits, and Liberty tea made from local herbs. Coffee, cider, and water are also available.  
I'm excited to share about the October 1st release of A Heart For Freedom

By 1775, the conflict has escalated between Loyalists and Patriots throughout the colonies. The Stewarts’ ordinary and the surrounding Virginia countryside are not immune from the strife, pitting friends, neighbors, and families against each other. Matthew Stewart has avoided taking sides and wants only to farm, manage Stewarts’ Green, and raise his family. But political tensions are heating up and circumstances and connections convince him that he should answer a call to aid the Patriot cause … with conditions. Heather Stewart, born and raised in Scotland, has witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. Threatened by the prospect of war, she wants only to avoid it, and protect the family and peace she sought and finally found in Virginia. The journey the Stewarts take is not an easy one and will involve sacrifice, and questioned loyalties. Lives and relationships will be changed forever. Ultimately the knowledge that God is faithful will equip them with the courage to face the future

Janet Grunst’s novel, A Heart For Freedom, is the sequel to A Heart Set Free.
 Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was the 2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. Besides writing and reading, Janet enjoys serving in Community Bible Study and spending time with family and friends. 
You can connect with her at:
Leave a comment here on the blog for a chance to win a print copy of A Heart For Freedom. 
Roseanna M. White is celebrating the release of An Hour Unspent, the conclusion to the Shadows Over England series! Comment below for a chance to win a signed copy! (To US addresses only)
Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.
Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.
As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it.
 Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Hi friends!  I'm back to celebrate my summer release, A DANGEROUS DECEPTION!
Jerome, Arizona Territory, 1899
When Andromeda Barr left her colorful past behind in pursuit of a normal—albeit solo—life, she didn’t exactly settle for the mundane. Performing is in her blood, and right now she has to believe she’s lying for all the right reasons—justice for the excluded, the overlooked of society—a debt she owes to the two unusual people who raised her.

Pinkerton Agent Connell O’Brien is on the trail of a wanted murderer holed up in ‘the wickedest town in the west.’ Hiding his identity is part of the job, but when he meets the surprising Miss Barrington, he begins to wonder how many secrets are too many.

Two close calls with disaster seem to suggest it’s time they both stop running from the guilt of the past and let mercy catch up, but will these two solo acts join forces before the danger of discovery becomes a matter of life or death? 

I'll be giving away ebooks and a paperback of A DANGEROUS DECEPTION today. I'm looking for fans of Western settings with surprises thrown in. I loved spending time with Andromeda and Connell and I hope you will too!  Find more stories, from colonial to contemporary, at my Amazon Author Page or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.


Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gabrielle Meyer, and Rita Gerlach are all contributors to this collection! Carrie had the privilege of hand picking some of her favorite authors for this Victorian era novella collection! The stories are the perfect length to read in the lead up to the holidays! 

The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew for help.

Carrie is giving away a paperback copy of The Victorian Christmas Brides to one commenter on this party blog post!

A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer
London, England, Christmas 1899

Lady Ashleigh Pendleton is hosting a houseful of guests for Christmas when railroad executive Christopher Campbell unexpectedly arrives from America with a mysterious agreement signed by their fathers before their birth.

The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach
1900. Small town along the Potomac near Washington DC
A glass ornament. Love letters tied in red Christmas ribbon. Lily Morningstar and British antiquities expert Andrew Stapleton are drawn into a family secret that binds their hearts together.
CONGRATS to all the authors with new releases! 
A Big HUZZAH from Colonial American Christian Writers group!
Be sure to come by our Facebook Party today, Wednesday, September 19, 2018 from 3 PM to 6 PM Eastern Time! (Click here to join the party!)