Anniversary Tea Party winners: Shannon McNear's winner is carrie, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winner is Laurie Kilgore, Debra E. Marvin's -, Janet Grunst's winner is Caryl Kane - Denise Weimer's winner - Melissa M. for an e-book of The Witness Tree (contact Denise). Naomi Musch supplied a free download for everyone - Pegg Thomas's winner is Betsy Tieperman, Gabrielle Meyer's winner is Rory Lemond - Congratulations, all! Please private message your e-mail or mailing address to the authors.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Colonial Quills Nine Year Anniversary! And Celebration of New Releases!

Welcome to our 9 Year Anniversary Party! We're celebrating at Jamestown, Virginia. Come on in and have some tea and treats!

Gabrielle Meyer:

I am honored to be here today celebrating the ninth anniversary of the Colonial Quills Blog! Congrats to all the wonderful contributors and readers. This is such a fun place to gather and share in all sorts of book love.

Today, I'm sharing my newest release Virginia Company Bride in The Heart's Stronghold Collection. This beautiful book released this month with Barbour Publishers (aren't the new covers amazing?!). My story is joined by phenomenal stories from Amanda Barratt, Angie Dicken, and Kimberley Woodhouse.

Here's a little about Virginia Company Bride: In September 1608, Anne Burras is the only woman in Jamestown when her mistress dies upon arrival. Laborer John Layton is one of only thirty-eight colonists who survived the first year in the colony. Both want Anne on the supply ship returning to England in three months, but neither foresee the difficulties they will face just to stay alive—or the painful sacrifices they will make to stay together.

I had the privileged of visiting Jamestown last year to do research for this story. What a treat to see the oldest English settlement in America! This story is especially dear to me because I have several ancestors who were a part of the early colonization of Jamestown. My earliest ancestor, William Powell, arrived in 1609 and was instrumental in removing an Indian chief who had tried to kill John Smith the year before. William was put in charge of the Jamestown defenses for his services and became the lieutenant governor in 1617.

Jamestown is a unique place to visit, because they have a reconstructed fort, as well as the original site where they are currently doing archaeological research. The first picture at the top of this post is taken at the reconstructed fort and the one above is of me at the original site. I'm standing where the chapel stood. This was important to me because John Layton, the hero of my story, was a carpenter in Jamestown and he's credited with building the second chapel for the fort.

In honor of the blog anniversary and the release of The Heart's Stronghold, I will be offering two copies, one here and one on the Facebook party. The winners will have the choice between a signed copy or an ebook.

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the upper Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people, places, and events. You can learn more about Gabrielle and her books at

Shannon McNear:

Greetings and salutations! I hope all is well with our gentle readers in these uncertain times.

NINE YEARS! I can hardly believe it! I'm blessed and honored to have been a part of this wonderful blog for six of those nine years. But with no further ado, it's with joy (and given the subject matter, not a little trepidation!) that I present The Blue Cloak, #5 of Barbour's ambitious True Colors historical suspense series. It's set in the fledgling states of Tennessee and Kentucky, 1797-99, and centers around the account of the terrible Harpes, considered our country's first recorded serial killers.

The story: Daughter and sister of trading post owners, Rachel Taylor watches her best friend Sally's marriage turn to horror before the entire family disappears. Virginia native Benjamin Langford seeks the whereabouts of his missing cousin and uncovers a reign of terror all up and down the Wilderness Road. In their shared grief, the pair join the effort to bring the Harpes' murder spree to an end and rescue Sally from a criminal's life.

To celebrate the March 1 release of The Blue Cloak, I'm offering two signed copies of the book, one here on the blog and one at the Facebook party! If you'd like to be entered, please mention BLUE CLOAK in your comment below. Thank you so much!

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in the Deep South, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. As the author of four novellas and three full-length novels, with her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, a 2014 RITA® finalist, her greatest joy is in being a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, and grammie of three. When not cooking, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies.

Connect with her at and on various social media.

Naomi Musch:

Hello, Colonial Quills friends! There couldn't be a better time for an online party, could there? Thanks for celebrating with us. 

I'm thrilled to reintroduce THE GREEN VEIL, a book that's been out of print for some time and has just been newly re-released. It's the first in a three-book saga that spans the lives of three generations of women, their hopes, loves, and adventures in the new rough-and-rugged state of Wisconsin.

Here’s The Green Veil:

1841 ~ Lumberman's daughter, Colette Palmer has always loved timber cruiser Manason Kade, though she's too young for him to consider seriously. Leaving Michigan with her family to settle in the Wisconsin wilderness, and separated from him by miles and years, she grows into a woman. When her heart is broken, she makes her vow to another.

Manason longs to plant roots of his own in Wisconsin Territory, although an alluring female tempts him to do otherwise. Given the opportunity, he strikes out and forms the new Kade Forest Works. When his fresh crew challenges the illegal log harvesting of a rival company, however, it is Colette's husband who will stop at nothing to ruin him.

Logging enterprises collide as the territory nears statehood, and dangerous schemes threaten those Colette holds dear. Then Manason and Colette finally meet again, and when they do, the battle between lumber kings reaches new heights. Now she will have to choose between her first love and her commitment to her marriage vows, while her dreams, her faith, and an empire in pine hang in the balance.

To celebrate the Colonial Quill 9-year blog anniversary, I have something for everyone. For two days--the day of the party and the day following (March 30-31)--you'll be able to download a Kindle copy of The Green Veil FREE!  I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity and ENJOY!

~Please feel free to spread the word about the free book, too.~

If you’d like updates about the release of Books Two and Three in the series, coming soon, sign up for my newsletter here.

Naomi is an award-winning author who believes a perfect day is spent writing, reading, roaming about the farm, snacking out of the garden, relaxing in her vintage camper, and loving on her passel of grandchildren. Connect with her via her website and on social media around the web.

Pegg Thomas

Greetings History Friends!

'Tis a fine day to gather for a celebration. 'Twas but a short few years past that I was allowed to join these illustrious authors on the blog. It has been an honor and a privilege to write alongside them. To celebrate, I'm giving away one signed paperback copy of my May 1st release The Blacksmith Brides. (to a U.S. address only) My story in the collection is set in Philadelphia at the start of the Revolutionary War. Loyalties were questioned and families were torn apart as our country embarked on its quest for independence, even as it continued to grow into its western frontier. Comment using the word IRON here on the blog to be entered for that drawing.

As always, there will be a shawl giveaway with this release! One subscriber to my newsletter will win Forged Embers, one of my signature wool shawls made from my own flock of sheep. I shear the sheep, wash and dye the wool, card it (prepare for spinning), spin it, wash it again, knit the shawl, and then give it a final wash and blocking. In the entire process, the only power tool used is my sheep shears. My poor old hands can't take using the hand shears anymore. The drawing for Forged Embers will be on May 31st. To be entered, simply subscribe to my newsletter. Subscribe early and find out how to earn extra chances to win!

Pegg lives in Northern Michigan - which is south of Upper Michigan - on a hobby farm with her husband of *mumble* years, a flock of sheep, a flock of chickens, and Murphy the spoiled rotten dog. - Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Carrie Fancett Pagels
In the nine years since we launched the Colonial Quills blog, I've had twenty publications (click here to see my website Books Page.) Above is the cover of my most recent publication, a novella in a lovely collection from Barbour. I've been so blessed by this blog and the many bloggers who have helped keep this effort going! I'm giving away one of my in-print books to one of our commenters.

Also, I have MORE codes for FREE audiobooks of Mercy in a Red Cloak! So if you would like a code to listen to my novella set on colonial Mackinac Island, put "Mercy Audio" in your comment and leave me your email address! Thank you for being a Colonial Quills follower and attending our blog party!

Janet Grunst

What a pleasure to celebrate Colonial Quill's 9th Anniversary with you.
I’m excited to share about the October release of the third story in my Revolutionary War series, Setting Two Hearts Free. It takes place towards the end of the war and is about the younger generation.
Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.

Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.

Two hearts changed by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost, Setting Two Hearts Free?

In celebration of Colonial Quill's 9-year anniversary, I will be giving away a Kindle version of whichever of the first two stories A Heart Set Free or A Heart For Freedom (winner's choice) to one commenter on the blog.

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight. She
lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, inspire, and encourage readers. You can follow her at

Denise Weimer

Since joining Colonial Quills blog, I've published a number of novels, both historical and contemporary, and become a managing editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas' historical imprints. Today on the blog, I'm giving away an e-book copy of my most recent historical romance, The Witness Tree, which starts in 1805 with a Moravian marriage of convenience in Old Salem, North Carolina, and leads to a dangerous assignment in Cherokee Territory. Would you like to be entered for the drawing? Leave a comment about the Moravians in the comments below.

During the Facebook party, I'll be giving away the winner's choice of an e-book of my two March contemporary releases, Spring Splash and Traces. See you at 8:15 p.m. EST!

Please join us on Facebook from 7-9:15 PM Eastern Time on Monday March 30 as we celebrate with a number of our current CQ bloggers! (Click here to join)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Epidemics in Colonial America

Image result for colonial america images
We're all caught up in some way by the current coronavirus situation. It got me thinking about how these things were handled - or not handled - by our Colonial ancestors. Here's what I found:

There were many diseases that did great damage to the population throughout history including smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, yellow fever, measles, whooping cough, mumps, malaria, dysentery, typhoid fever, typhus, tuberculosis, and venereal diseases.

One of the most deadly that plagued the Colonies, especially those with a large immigrant influx from the Caribbean area, was yellow fever. In 1793, at least 5,000 people died in the city of Philadelphia alone, while another 17,000 fled the city. Medicine was exceedingly primitive with mostly bloodletting and purging. However, the College of Physicians adopted a series of eleven preventive measures for the city of Philadelphia on August 26, 1793:

1) Avoid every infected person, as much as possible. 

2) Avoid fatigue in body and mind. Don’t stand or sit in a draft, or in the sun, or in the evening air. 

3) Dress according to the weather. Avoid intemperance. Drink sparingly of wine, beer, or cider. 

4) When visiting the sick, use vinegar or camphor on your handkerchief, carry it in smelling bottles, use it frequently. 

5) Somehow mark every house with sickness in it, on the door or window.
Place your patients in the center of your biggest, airiest room, in beds without curtains. 

6) Change their clothes and bed linen often. Remove all offensive matter as quickly as possible. 

7) Stop the tolling of the bells at once. 

8) Bury the dead in closed carriages, as privately as possible. 

9) Clean the streets, and keep them clean. 

10) Stop building fires in your houses, or on the streets. They have no useful effect. But burn gunpowder. It clears the air. And use vinegar and camphor generally. 

11) Most important of all, let a large and airy hospital be provided near the city, to receive poor people stricken with the disease who cannot otherwise be cared for.
Some of these helped. Some are very close to what we're being asked to do today, especially avoiding those who are ill and keeping things clean and aired out. Good advice. Stay safe, everyone.

Pegg - Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Monday, March 23, 2020

Native American Arrowheads

St. Charles
I grew up in central Indiana on my grandfather Jacob Bontrager’s farm in northeastern Howard Township in Howard County. Over the years my father collected a number of Native American arrowheads that were turned up as he plowed the fields. I got them after my parents died and for a long time they sat on a bookshelf in a box. After spending years doing research on 18th century Woodland Indians for both my American Patriot and Northkill Amish series, one day I finally decided to display them in a shadow box. It occurred to me that it would be nice to label them, and so I began researching the different types of Native American arrowheads.

That turned out to be more of a challenge than I hoped. For one thing, several are broken off at the base. Others have additional damage that makes identification difficult. Even more confusing, there are multiple variations of each type. However, early on I was able to identify the arrowhead on the left above—my favorite—as a St. Charles dovetail from a chart on this website that has pictures and detailed descriptions of many different kinds of projectile points. For the specific page, go here. At least I’m fairly confident that’s what it is because this type appears to have been widely distributed throughout Indiana, and that would date it to as old as 7,000 years.  Pretty impressive. The one at the right may also be a St. Charles. Its top fits the profile of the longer, skinnier variants, though with the base missing it’s impossible to be certain.

I’m guessing the three arrowheads below probably also fit into the Dovetail category, but I need to study the other charts of Indiana points more closely. The one on the left is the smallest in my collection—about half the size of the other two and closer to a third of the first one.

I also found a lot of helpful information about Indian Weapons and Tools here, including a simplified chart of arrowhead types though it doesn’t include information about the artifacts’ distribution as the first one does. There’s a wealth of additional information on Native Americans and on the process of making arrowheads on this site as well.

Here’s the rest of my collection, which I intend to research as I have time while writing the last book of my American Patriot series, Forge of Freedom. The last, which is missing a base, is the second smallest I have. Expert opinions as to which type each of these is will be greatly appreciated! 

Do you have a historical collection of some sort—arrowheads or other Native American artifacts or objects from your heritage? Please share a description of some things you treasure!
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. She is a professional editor, a publisher, and the author of award-winning historical fiction whose books have been endorsed by bestselling authors such as Lori Benton, Laura Frantz, and Jocelyn Green. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Book 6, Refiner’s Fire, released in 2019, and one more volume, Forge of Freedom, will complete the series. She is also the author of One Holy Night, the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year, and co-authored the award-winning Northkill Amish Series with Bob Hostetler.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Early American Justice

Daniel Boone leading settlers through Cumberland Gap
Before the Wild West there was ... the even wilder frontier of early America.

During the colonial era, the justice system was limited, of course, by the location of courts. In South Carolina, for instance, the only court was in Charles Towne, which meant that most law-keeping efforts were expended closer to the coast, and mostly on behalf of the planters, leaving the backcountry settlers vulnerable to all manner of criminal depredations. North Carolina saw a similar situation, but with a legal system that was both passive and corrupt.

This gave rise to what was termed the Regulator movement, as summarized in The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution:

The Regulator movement [in South Carolina] ... was only slightly related to the uprising which had troubled North Carolina during almost the same period. The North Carolina Regulators had appeared first, and had probably both inspired and provided a name to their counterparts in the southern province. ... The aims of the two movements were different. The North Carolina Regulators tried to "regulate" the local sheriffs, registers, clerks, and lawyers who, they complained, exacted illegal and exorbitant taxes, fees, and rents from them. The Regulators of South Carolina, on the other hand, demanded the benefits of law and order, and their "regulation work" consisted largely of punishing and driving away the bandits who infested their settlements.

These situations greatly contributed to the tide of opinion in favor of rebelling against the Crown, as the above paragraph concludes, "Though the back settlers of both provinces had numerous and genuine grievances, there is little doubt that the South Carolinians had by far the greater provocation to rebellion."

Fast-forward 10-15 years after America had won her independence. Among others added to the original thirteen, Kentucky became a state in 1792. While the western reaches remained wild and woolly for quite some time, the residents of the interior--that beautiful bluegrass region so loved by native tribes as a seasonal hunting grounds--were careful to set a justice system in place. Constables and clerks worked alongside judges and attorneys, but the main courts were held twice a year, in April and October, with "Quarter Courts" sessions in between, in January and July. (A previous description of the colonial court system was provided in the post The Colonial Courthouse, by Jennifer Hudson Taylor.) When the situation called for it, such as dealing with river pirates or bandits afflicting travelers along the Wilderness Road and its various adjoining traces, a local sheriff and deputy (or deputies) would organize a posse to ride out and bring criminals to justice. Although this system is most familiar in the setting of the Old West, decades later, it was already in use before 1800, and is referred to as a Regulator-style method of dealing with criminal activity.

When the Harpes launched their "war on all mankind," local law enforcement enlisted ordinary merchants and farmers in the effort to locate the murderers. Dozens of groups joined the search, some staying at it for mere days, while others kept going for weeks. Since each man was responsible for his own provisions, with limited resources, many returned home sooner rather than later because farms and businesses simply wouldn't run themselves. Others were concerned about reprisal from the Harpes, and wished to make sure their families and homes were still safe.

The early American justice system was by no means perfect, but ... it was all they had. With no professional police force in place, at least not such as we know today--and in the absence of modern technology or social media--the dedication of those who gave time and effort to the chase is rather amazing.

Friday, March 13, 2020


I’ve been blessed to know Jane for several years. She is a godly woman with a variety of musical gifts.

You worked with Colonial Williamsburg (CW) for several years. Please tell us about your experience.

I began working at Colonial Williamsburg in 1975 as a sales associate at The Golden Ball, a silver and jewelry store in the historic area. During those three years, I also sang for evening programs during the Christmas season and at summer outdoor recitals.

Did you incorporate music into working for CW?

Jane Hanson ~ right front
I was blessed to be a full-time musician at Colonial Williamsburg for the last 27 years of my career there. In 1983, after a 5-year leave of absence, I sang in evening concerts at the Capitol, Palace and as a tavern balladeer. In 1988 I was hired as a full-time musician with CW working at the Music Teacher’s Room (MTR) and then throughout the historic area.

The work varied from day to day and season to season. Several of us were in the ballroom of the Governor’s Palace, either performing music or dancing as guests toured the Palace.  Each group took five minutes so in 2 hours we might see up to 20 groups or more of school groups
and regular visitors. We might repeat that at the Palace or at the Wythe or Geddy house. We joined forces with the theatrical interpreters when we all became the Performing Arts department and added music and dance to several other venues. We worked evening hours several nights a week at Capitol, Raleigh, and Palace concerts and during busy holiday times, Carter’s Grove and balls at the Governor’s Palace.  I retired as a supervisor of the music and dance department in 2015.

Can you tell us about some of the interesting people you met or worked with during these years?

I met the great opera singer Beverly Sills and Chief Justice Earl Warren at the opening of the De Witt Wallace Museum in 1985.  I sang for one of the Premiers of China and the Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan.

What roles did you have as a reenactor and what were your favorite and most memorable?

Reenacting began at Colonial Williamsburg in the 1980s but for many years only a few people in CW were actual “character interpreters” as they were called.  The rest of us interpreted in “third person” rather than “first-person”…though we dressed in 18th-century clothing, we talked from the 20th-century perspective.  My first character role was as one of the Lady Dunmore when we started doing “Days in History”. Eventually, I was asked to play Lady Dunmore every day. 

Jane as Lady Dunmore
My favorite assignment was to play a beautiful antique harpsichord in the Palace and sing in the ballroom. I chatted with guests about my Dunmore family, the house, instruments, portraits, and d├ęcor for two hours at a time. Other days I left the Palace in a carriage to go “shop-hopping” in town with my “daughters”. We stopped at several locations where shop keepers brought us wares to taste or “buy”.  Holiday balls were the most fun when Lord and Lady Dunmore would greet guests above stairs. Then later in the evening, we went downstairs and made our grand entrance into the Ballroom. The evening ended with dancing the minuet and several country dances. 

During the summer, when I was Lady Dunmore, several junior interpreters were assigned to me as my children. We invented activities to act out. I eventually aged out as Lady Dunmore and was replaced by a younger
Jane as Lady Dunmore
woman. In my last years at CW, I took over the role of Anne Neil, who advertised as a music and sewing teacher during the revolution. Like all the actor interpreters I aimed at representing the characters respectfully and accurately. 

That must have involved a variety of costumes. Eighteenth-century clothing can provide some challenges. What experiences with costumes can you share with us?

Over the years I worked at CW, the costuming became more and more authentic. In the 70s the gowns were made of a mix of cotton and polyester and we wore none of the period undergarments. By the late 80s, we wore shifts, stays, hoops, stockings, caps rather than pinners and more authentic shoes, some handmade.  At first, it took me forever to get dressed every morning but gradually it became second nature. Wearing the clothing was a privilege and helped me enter the day in character, particularly the clothes that were made just for me. They fit so well. Long skirts and gowns were no fun in the rain though as I was always dragging a wet hem around, and wearing stays are definitely hot in the summer. People often asked us if we were hot in the summer, but I can say, though I was warm, wearing cotton and linen helped and hoops kept your skirt away from your legs.

Thank you, Jane, for letting us know a bit about the life of a reenactor. I’ve often wondered about how interpreters endured the 18th-century clothing in summer.