8 Year Anniversary party winners: Joan Hochstetler's book winner is -- Caryl Kane, Naomi Musch's ebook goes to Crissy Yoder Shamion, Roseanna White's winner is -- Connie Saunders, Pegg Thomas's "A Bouquet of Brides" goes to Deanna Stevens, Debra E. Marvin's winner is -- Becky Dempsey, Carrie Fancett Pagels' giveaway of Colonial Michilimackinac: Michigan State Parks goes to Wilani Wahl, Carla Olson Gade's winner is Leila Reynolds, Shannon McNear -- Kaitlin Covel

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Cherokee-American Wars

Phase One, 1776-1783

by Denise Weimer

Their marriage of convenience offers Moravian missionaries John and Clarissa Kliest enough of a challenge in my novel releasing this month, The Witness Tree. But it’s certainly not the only hardship they face. It’s 1805, and the couple join a party journeying from the quaint town of Salem, North Carolina, into Cherokee Indian Territory. John, a builder and surveyor, and Clarissa, a linguist and teacher, are to lend their expertise at a mission school for children of the Cherokee chiefs in what is now Northwest Georgia. John yearns for adventure, but the fact that those same Indians were at war with the Americans just above a short decade ago makes Clarissa more than a little nervous.

The Cherokee-American Wars divide into two phases, 1776-1783, and 1783-1794. Today we’ll focus on that first phase, when the Cherokees fought as allies of Great Britain against America’s bid for independence.

Early on, when the English strategy focused on the North, the Cherokees received only supplies from coastal ports and limited joint operations in South Carolina. Each section of Cherokee warriors (Middle, Out and Valley Town; Lower Towns; and Overhill Towns) were to attack different portions of the frontier, with the Overhill under Dragging Canoe (along the lower Little Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers) proving especially fierce. On one of their raids in conjunction with the Shawnee, they captured the daughter of Daniel Boone and two other teenage girls in a canoe on the Kentucky River. Boone and his men rescued them, but the incident provided inspiration for the plot of The Last of the Mohicans. 

Charles Ferdinand Wimar (1853) painting of abduction of Boone's daughter

Colonial militia responded to the raids by attacking and destroying more than fifty towns. While the older Overhill chiefs wanted to sue for peace, and indeed peace was signed in April 1777 at Fort Patrick Henry, Dragging Canoe sent the women and children south of the Hiwassee and burned the villages they left behind. His warriors continued to raid to the Holston River, Cumberland settlements, French Broad River, and Wilkes County, Georgia (my setting for Across Three Autumns), until the end of the Revolution.

In my November post, we’ll look at the second phase of the Cherokee-American Wars. Meanwhile, if you’re curious how the Kliests’ mission work goes, it’s release day for The Witness Tree! Hop on over the Singing Librarian Books to find out more and enter a grand prize giveaway (The Witness Tree on Amazon / SLB Witness Tree Tour). 

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 Smitten Historical Romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise:

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Commemorating 400 Years of the First Representative Assembly in the New World

The Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock company, was created by King James to establish a colony in North America. The settlement of Jamestown was founded in 1607. The King and the Virginia Company of London chartered Burgesses (representatives in a given area) to oversee the colony.

Four hundred years ago, 22 Burgesses representing each of Virginia’s eleven major settlements met in the church at Jamestown, Virginia from July 30-August 4, 1619. They were the first Virginia General Assembly. Democracy in the Western Hemisphere was born along the banks of the James River on July 30, 1619.

On July 30, 2019, there were two events to commemorate the 400th anniversary. 
One occurred early in the morning, at the reconstructed Historic Jamestowne Church, where the Governor and a small group of officials, and some descendants of the first families met. 

Later the President of the United States was joined by former Governors, some Virginia legislators, a former clerk of the British House of Commons at the Jamestown Settlement for a joint session of the General Assembly.

1619 was a pivotal year for Virginia, the first permanent English colony in North America.
~ In addition to being the birthplace of the first Representative Assembly in the New World, Virginia welcomed the arrival of the first enslaved West Central Africans to English North America later that same summer.
~ By November English women were brought to Jamestown to establish families.
~ In December of 1619, the English ship Margaret landed at Berkeley Hundred, and celebrated the first Thanksgiving, over two years before the Pilgrims arrived aboard the Mayflower.
~ New laws passed that same year authorized Virginia’s colonists to initiate various industries, which established the basis for America’s free enterprise system.

Friday, September 6, 2019

A Glimpse at the "Back-to-School" Supplies of Colonial America

I've got a passel of grand-kids heading back to school, from first-year college student to high school, grade school, Kindergarten, and Preschool. "Back-to-school" is a loosely used term in our family, as several of these youngsters are home-schooled. Therefore, while their days are definitely geared toward formal education, they aren't actually heading away from home. For them, the practice of "doing school" is not so different in some ways than what a lot of children experienced in Colonial America. Only some of the tools have changed.


While school attendance didn't become compulsory in America until only a hundred years ago, education was by no means lacking before then. In fact, there were numerous laws concerning education on the books in the first thirteen colonies. What that actually meant varies.

In the northern colonies, schools were being established by the colonial government among communities where people grouped together. In the middle colonies, most of that need was met by the free market. Schoolmasters commonly opened up shop and charged a fee for students to attend. In the southern colonies and on the frontier, most children were educated at home, at their mother's knees and in the fields, barns, and tool sheds where they learned the trades they'd need to become productive adults. In fact, almost all students, wherever they were raised, began their educations at home. The majority learned to read before they actually took on more formal education outside the home. It is said that the literacy rate in Colonial America was higher than 90%.


Across the colonies, most students used the same types of school supplies, and that list looks a bit different in some aspects than it does today. Many children began to learn their letters, memorize Scripture, and do simple reading exercises and mathematical sums with the help of a Hornbook.

A Hornbook was a small, wooden paddle with lessons tacked on the front. (About the size of a or 4" x 6" note card or a little larger.) Hornbooks usually had a hole in the end of the handle which could be strung with a cord for wearing on a child's belt or around the neck. The lesson itself was covered with a transparent piece of horn--kind of an early laminate--to protect it. I find this alone to be an amazing process, stemming from the 1500s. The horn, usually from an ox or sheep, went through a process of being boiled, separated, cooled in water, and eventually pressed into plates. This process took weeks.

Hornbooks were eventually made of other materials too. If you'd like to do an educational, historical project with your children, grandchildren, or students, you can make your own hornbooks (not out of actual horn, of course). I'll post the link to the craft project at the end.

The Bible was the main book from which most children learned to read and memorize. Children commonly attended church and were familiar with Scripture. Those who couldn't attend were still taught the Word. Thus, they soon became proficient readers by learning to read passages in the Bible.

The New-England Primer was the main teaching textbook for children besides the Bible. Of course, any other books that might be available were prized. and many of these might be considered religious literature -- books such as Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and Isaac Watt's Divine Songs.  

Image result for new england primer
Image result for new england primer
Writing Implements - Bear in mind, that children who grew up without the benefit of these basic educational supplies had less to work with, yet even on the frontier students would practice their letters with quills or lumps of coal on pieces of birch bark.

Slates came into use later. Used originally for roofing, they became popular in education in the latter part of the 18th century. Slates were about the size of a modern notebook, or a touch smaller, and were framed by wood.

A willingness to hard work was expected in order to acquire an educated mind. I include this, because hands-on experiences in practical daily living such as learning to sew, knit, build a wheel, churn butter, card wool, plant and harvest, work with iron and wood, practice animal husbandry--the list goes on--were tasks just as important as learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. No child could acquire skills for daily living and the ability to develop a trade without first learning a practical work ethic. 

This is just a brief overview of things that might have been considered when preparing to teach a child in the American colonies. Despite the limited books and tools available to the average household compared with what we have today (not even considering computer technology), youngsters grew up well-educated in the societies in which they lived. 

What is your favorite book or item on your back-to-school list this fall (even if you nor anyone in your household is going back to school)?

Would you like to make a hornbook with your youngster? 

Naomi Musch

Friday, August 30, 2019

So Just When Was the Colonial Era?

I had the idea to look into what exactly the colonial era meant as far as actual dates in world history. Well, at least in “North American” history. According the Library of Congress, the colonial era is nearly 200 years long.
Wikipedia - the classic Boston Tea Party painting
Here on the Colonial Quills, we include the post-1776 Revolutionary era up to the War of 1812. (Thanks to Carrie who knows many of us love writing in that time period as well!) After all, there was still a very thin line separating loyalists and the 'new' Americans along the border with Canada. The War of 1812 made a significant change in how those on both sides of the border viewed themselves.

The idea for this post also came from the recent social media promotion of a history project called 1619 by its creator, The New York Times. The year 1619—in fact it was August of that year—is considered the first recorded introduction of African slaves to the shores of the New World.

QUOTE: The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.
Here’s a quick overview of what I found and adapted from multiple history websites:

It certainly wasn’t just the British. The London Company might have sent out their first expedition in December of 1606, but the French Huguenots had already built a colony near Jacksonville, Florida in 1564. This didn’t please the Spanish who were quick to establish a military fort at St. Augustine. (Our oldest city on the continent, so they say…)

Who knows how long fishing fleets and explorers from the Nordic nations and European coastal countries were passing by and setting up semi-permanent camps along the present-day Canadian Maritimes and the “New England” coast? It seems that these fishermen and hunters had decent relationships with the indigenous people (though whether they introduced diseases or not is another story). “American” history looks back to the 1580s when the English colonized Roanoke Island (now part of North Carolina), leading to one of the better mysteries of the era. (The Lost Colony of Roanoke.)
Wikipedia- Jamestown Settlement Museum

Wikipedia- Massachesetts Bay Colony
Throughout the early 1600s appeared Jamestown (England), Quebec (France) and New Amsterdam (Holland). By the 1650s, colony-makers like Plymouth Company, the Massachusetts Bay Company, the Company of New France and the Dutch West India company had sent out families and men skilled in all aspects of agriculture and trades. It was a true competition to land-grab the continent's rich resources…
With NO CONSIDERATION of those people already living here, nor the use of slave labor. And slave labor did not always mean Africans taken against their will. As we all know, slavery would ultimately be the center of an agricultural economy. 
Wikipedia: 'slave ship'
Throughout the 1700s, wars were raged on this continent and around the world for ownership of Americas. What we’ve been handed down is a rich history of multi-culturalism as well as the more base hallmarks of human nature—taking advantage of those less fortunate, and ‘might makes right.’ It all leads to more story fodder than we could ever address. 

So thank you, readers, for your support our desire to celebrate stories of our long colonial era.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Return of the King's Ranger - sneak peek!

The war for American freedom is over, and the British have gone back to England.

Not knowing what has become of his family since he was forced into the Continental Army nine years earlier, Myles Cunningham wants to go home as well. He returns to the Mohawk Valley with the understanding that he is believed to have been shot for deserting—fiction that might be made real if anyone recognizes him as the son of a Tory and a King’s Ranger.
Everything is wonderful in the growing community along the Mohawk River, except Nora Reid is still alone. With her brother happily settled and both her younger sisters starting families of their own, Nora feels the weight of her twenty-four years. A long walk leads her to the overgrown rubble of the Cunningham homestead where a bearded stranger begins to awaken feelings she’d lost hope of ever experiencing.
With secrets abounding—including whether Myles even cares for her—Nora must determine what she is ready to give up and how far she will go to secure his affections. She begins to break through his defenses, but Myles can’t risk staying. Not if he loves her.

For a chance to win the full series, pop over to Kelly Goshorn's review of The Return of the King's Ranger. Contest closes, midnight EST on Wednesday, August 28, 2019.

Continue reading for a sneak peek at the first chapter!



Mohawk Valley, July 1785

Up and down, up and down, Nora Reid plunged the dash in the butter churn, trying hard to not think about how the motion followed the pattern of her life. The monotony of it. She looked at the book propped open on her lap. Robinson Crusoe. Twenty-eight years on a small island and his life read much more interesting than hers ever would.

With a sigh, she tapped the book closed and set it on the edge of the table.

It wasn’t as though she expected much out of her life—and she’d rather not be stranded on a tropical island. She loved her family, community, and everything about this valley, but she still dreamed of something more.

Voices mumbled at the back of the cabin. One distinctly masculine…but not Papa or even Daniel. Nora slowed the dash, curiosity overcoming the desire to finish churning the butter so she could visit her nieces today. The voices continued, but though she strained, she still couldn’t make out what was said.

Nora released the long pole of the dash and slipped out the door into the embrace of a warm summer afternoon. Circling around the cabin, she ran her fingertips over the weathered logs forming the walls. She shouldn’t be sneaking up on whoever was speaking, but most likely their conversation was casual and not one she’d be excluded from. All the same, her pulse sped as she neared the voices and the words became clearer. She usually didn’t spy on her sister, but that was definitely Rose’s voice. And what sounded like a suitor.

“Why will you not allow me to speak with your father?” His low tones were crisp with frustration.

“Because Levi already spoke with him not two weeks ago. That’s what I have been trying to tell you.”

“Levi Acker? Your pa gave him permission, didn’t he? And what about you? Did you say yes?”

“He’s not asked me yet, though I suspect he shall. Soon.” Rose released a long sigh. “I…did not expect this.”

Boots shuffled against the ground, but not in any particular direction. “It’s not been easy to find opportunity. How was I to know you would even consider me—that I would not appear a fool?”

“Sam, I could never think you a fool.”

Sam? Nora pulled back from the corner of the cabin. Of course, that’s who the voice belonged to. Samuel Cunningham had always silently admired her little sister. She could think of no one she would prefer for Rose, but Levi Acker would not take rejection very kindly after she’d led him this far.

Not that it was any of Nora’s concern. She really needed to get back to making butter.

She only made it one step.

“So where does that leave us?” Samuel asked.

“I need time,” came Rose’s sad reply. “I must be fair to Levi. If I shifted my affections so abruptly, they would think me fickle and childish. I have always been the baby, with four older siblings to put me in my place. I cannot rush this.”

“Can you give me any hope that this will resolve in my favor?”

“How about this?” Rose’s voice smiled and then elapsed into silence. Long drawn-out silence.

Nora stole a peek around the corner to see Rose’s arms draped around Samuel’s neck, her eyes closed as her lips moved slowly against his. Nora wanted to smile, but the corners of her mouth seemed paralyzed. Instead, a familiar ache grew within, a longing for something she’d never experienced, never enjoyed, in all her twenty and four years.

A quick withdrawal took her back to the butter churn, but it was hard to put any strength behind the plunge and turn of her movements with the dash. Poor Rose. Her pity roiled with a sprinkle of resentment. Two good men bidding for her love and her hand. Was it wrong to be a little jealous? Or even frightened at the prospects of soon being left in her parents’ home, becoming an old maid, never experiencing romance or motherhood?

“My own fault.” If she hadn’t been so choosy. As the fighting had ceased across New England and the rest of the colonies, men had come to the valley, or passed through. Several tried for her heart, but she’d not been practical back then. She’d wanted something special, something with a little fire in it. Something like her brother Daniel enjoyed with his wife. Or Joseph Garnet and Hannah Cunningham, their nearest neighbors. Even their pastor, an ex-British officer, and Rachel Garnet shared a sweeping romantic tale.

But waiting for romance was a fool’s game.

The door swung wide, and Nora brushed a hand over her moist cheeks before she glanced at Rose—almost six years her junior. Susannah, the sister between them, was married and enjoyed being the mother of a robust baby boy. Daniel had two beautiful girls.

“Are you feeling well?”

At Rose’s question, Nora forced a smile and a nod. “Of course.” She had no real reason to be unhappy. She’d made her choices, chosen her path, put romance before security and a family of her own. She’d gambled and lost.

“You are sure you’re not becoming ill?”

“I merely…” But she had no excuse, only the need to escape the confines of this cabin and its walls that seemed to close in around her more every day. “Could you finish the butter? It’s churned most of the way. I told Lydia I’d bring her more of Mama’s yeast start.” And return her book.

Rose’s eyes widened. “She’s ruined hers again?”

Nora shrugged and hurried to the yeast crock. She should not have said anything. “Lydia is very busy with the girls.”

“I know, but sometimes I wonder what she was thinking to follow Daniel out here.”

Nora never wondered that. “She loves Daniel.” Enough to leave comforts, family, and a pampered life behind in South Carolina for a New York wilderness. Real love. Nora frowned at her little sister who, moments earlier, had been in a man’s embrace. How did she not understand love? Or was that the reason for Rose’s hesitation? Maybe she didn’t love Samuel or Levi.

“If I am late returning home, will you help Mama with supper?” Nora needed time to clear her head.

“If you take my evening milking.”

“Very well.” Nora preferred milking to cooking anyway. She collected Robinson Crusoe from the table and started to the door.

The sun greeted Nora along with a soft breeze. A beautiful day. Yet she didn’t feel it. She couldn’t push aside the melancholy that had dragged her steps for months. She’d hoped it was the long, cold winter, but spring had come and gone…and she felt worse.

Nora filled her lungs and quickened her pace. She’d go directly to her brother’s farm and then take her time with the return, maybe follow the river back. Oh, how she loved the Mohawk River, the rush of its current that almost had the strength to steal her disappointments away. Some days, she was tempted to follow the river far away from this valley where life never changed.


Ash. Everything was gone. The barn. The cabin. Charred remains overgrown with grass and weeds. Myles Cunningham tugged the leather patch from his right eye so he could see properly. It was not like anyone would come upon him here, and even if they did, they’d know him by association to his childhood home if nothing else. The question was what they would do to him if recognized. The Continental Army had ordered his death, but the war was over. The British had gone home.

If only he could.

But nothing remained. Not Pa—he’d been killed in battle against the rebels residing in this valley. From what he’d been told, Mama was dead, too, along with little Miriam. Who could say that hadn’t also been Hannah’s and Samuel’s fate?

Myles kicked what remained of the fireplace, sending stones toppling…just like the war had done to his life. Except he wasn’t a stone. He didn’t know how to roll away, or how to remain solid and unmarred after being hurled. Instead, he was left raw and bleeding inside.

Myles backed away from the heaps of charcoal. He should never have returned to the Mohawk Valley. This place had rejected his family and sealed their fates.

“Let’s go.” He tugged on the reins of the old, half-blind gelding he’d traded the last of his wages for. Ugliest thing on four legs with one blue eye and a white blaze covering over half its head, but the nag had spared him a long walk. Maybe he’d go north again. There was plenty of territory along the Great Lakes he hadn’t yet searched.

Unless his siblings were not to be found.

Myles trudged through the brush toward the river. The taste of ash clung to his throat, and his canteen hung empty from his saddle. He drank more now that he’d eaten the last of his meager supplies. Perhaps he’d pause his journey long enough to hunt. Or poach. He’d not risk himself or his pride by asking anyone in the valley for help, but taking a few eggs or some meat from a smokehouse could hardly be considered a sin. These people had taken everything from his family.

Not that he gave much thought to sin…or God.

The woods gave way to the rocky bank of the Mohawk River, the rushing water beyond. And a woman. Myles froze in the shadows and tugged his eye patch back into place. The woman appeared young, shoes in hand, hem of her gown pulled almost to her knees. The river lapped at her pale calves. One of the Reid girls. Her long chestnut waves hung loose over her shoulders. A vision…and a kick in the gut.

The Reids were a fine New England family and as true to the rebel cause as any. Probably only one of the reasons they had kept their distance from him in the past. Of course, Fannie, the eldest, had eyes only for Joseph Garnet, a mutual neighbor. She had never once looked his way.

Myles gritted his teeth, but it was harder than it should’ve been to turn away.

Buckethead, the ornery beast, yanked on the reins, dropping his head and giving a low nicker.

Myles hurried to step back as two dark brown eyes leveled at him.

The woman gasped and dropped her hem. Then snatched it back up again out of the water. “Who are you?”

Myles touched the front corner of his old cocked hat. “Apologies, ma’am.” He turned back into the woods.

“I did not expect anyone out here.”

He glanced back—couldn’t help himself. “Nor did I.”

She studied him for a long moment before looking down at her soaked hem hovering just above the surface of the water. “I should…” She took a step toward the shore.

“I’ll be on my way.”

He started to turn when a yelp was swallowed up in a splash. Myles spun around as the woman failed to right herself and pull her now saturated skirts from the river. Droplets ornamented her face, screwed up with a look of pain.

“What happened?”

“I twisted my ankle on a rock.” She managed a faulty hobble toward dry land.

Myles held himself at bay. “What are you even doing out there?” Though now July, the river was still cold from the spring thaw.

“Never mind that. If you will not help me, then you might as well leave.”

A groan rumbled deep in his chest as he looped the gelding’s reins around the nearest tree branch. He jogged to the river’s edge. The Reid girl just younger than Fannie had been a little more intrepid than the others.

“Wouldn’t want you to get your boots wet.” She winced with her next step, but her dark eyes challenged him.

“Not my fault you were insane enough to go into the river.” He waded out to her. “Now what?”

She gripped his arm and looked up directly into his face, searching it as though that had been her intent all along. He’d forgotten she had also been the most curious of the Reid girls.

Myles fought not to look away from her silent interrogation. She wouldn’t recognize him. There was no way. He’d been but a lad when they’d taken him away to be a slave for the rebels and their cause. Nine years had done more than add to his height and the breath of his shoulders.

But what if she did see past all that?

“Come on.” Looping his arms around her, he swept her up. No more searching his soul. Myles trudged back to shore before he realized he didn’t know what to do with her. He should ride away and let her hobble home, but he couldn’t. Besides, she personally had done nothing against him or his family. Only her pa.

“You can set me down here,” she suggested.

Myles shook his head, returning to his horse.

“I assure you, I will be fine.” A pretty blush rose to her cheeks.

The gelding shifted as Myles boosted her into the saddle. “Where do you live?” Not that he needed directions, unless she was no longer in her father’s home. She was not much younger than him and likely married.

“You’ll take me home?”

“Unless your ankle has already mended.”

“No…no, it’s still sore.” Her lips curved in an upward direction, but not with a simple smile. This one held a degree of intrigue. “May I know your name?”

Myles cleared his throat from the sudden tightness. He’d already prepared a name from two men he had served with in case anyone should inquire. “Mathew Crawford.”

Her smile spread. “Thank you, Mr. Crawford. I’m Nora Reid. And I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Of course, she was. She didn’t know they’d already been well acquainted.

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