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

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Travelling Church

Kentucky State Marker #25
From Kentucky State historical marker #25:

In search of religious freedom, the Reverend Lewis Craig led his entire congregation of 200 Baptists and 400 other settlers from Spottsylvania County, Virginia, and established them here on Gilbert's Creek. This expedition, guided through the wilderness by Captain William Ellis, was the largest group of pioneers ever to enter the District of Kentucky in a single body.

So we remember “The Travelling Church,” which set out from Virginia in 1781 for the purpose of exploring the “Canaan” of Kentucky while furthering their missionary endeavors. In October 1781, they arrived in Fort Chiswell in southwestern Virginia with a considerable-sized wagon train, only to find that a hundred miles further, the road would become impassable to anything but horse and foot traffic. They then sold or traded off their wagons and larger household goods, packed things up, and set on down the road. Robert L. Kincaid gives this colorful description in The Wilderness Road:

It was a crushing blow for Craig and his people to give up their wagons so early in their journey. The women and the children hated to leave the luxury of wheels for a hard and uncertain horseback ride. But it could not be helped. Huge baskets and bundles of clothing, bed furnishing and household articles were prepared and lashed upon packhorses. Children were crowded on top, or rode in front and behind their mothers and relatives. The men and older boys who did not have mounts trudged along on foot. Thus accoutered, the company strung out on the road to the dark wilderness with its unknown terrors.

The Great Road (purple) and the Wilderness Road (red)
The group met with delays because of unrest with the Cherokee, wet weather that turned into cold and ice as winter approached. They learned of Cornwallis’s surrender while still in eastern Tennessee and rejoiced greatly over the news. Then, through eastern Tennessee, up over Cumberland Gap and down into southeastern Kentucky, they forded icy rivers and slogged through knee-deep mud in sloughs and canebrakes. Finally the weather eased a bit as they approached Crab Orchard, Kentucky, and at Gilbert’s Creek, in December 1781, they chose a spot for their new church home. This would be the third Baptist church in Kentucky, as two others had been founded earlier the same year.

So why would they do this? Why would almost an entire church leave home and possibly family behind? Obviously the party was comprised of far more than church members—some just wanted the material opportunities Kentucky had to offer—but the biggest reason, for the church itself, was religious persecution. During the colonial era, any church besides the one established by Mother England often came under serious heat from Anglicans. The leader of this particular congregation saw the western frontier as their best solution to this.

Is it possible there could have been a calling from God involved, as well?


Filed under the category of historical tidbits I didn’t manage to shoehorn into my recent release The Cumberland Bride. Thanks to Kincaid for his excellent if sometimes embellished work on the Wilderness Road, and to Wikipedia, which has gotten far more reliable over the past few years. :-)

Friday, December 7, 2018

Some Colonial Shrub to Toast the Holidays?

Apparently there's an old world drink mixture out there that is tart, fruity, and sweet, all in one, but I'd never heard of it until recently. Yet, this special beverage seems like the ideal thing to try as part of my family's holiday food and beverage lineup. Imagine my delight to discover that this beverage called Shrub, a syrupy combination of fruit, vinegar, and sweetener, is something that originated with the Babylonians but really grew in popularity during the Colonial period? Ooh! Apparently sea-faring colonists discovered it to be terrific for preventing scurvy--in case you have a vitamin C deficiency and need to know.

While some may use shrub as a mixer with alchohol, you can drink it with seltzer water or even plain water to make a delightfully refreshing, non-alchoholic drink. It can even be used in salad dressing. What?!? Yep, that's what I learned.

You can find craft shrub sold online by home-producers around the country, but I couldn't resist trying to make some myself. All it takes is fruit, vinegar, and sugar. All the recipes I read say that you don't even have to use the best fruit. Rather, it's a good time to use up store seconds and the bruised stuff in your fridge. I was going to purchase a carton of pretty, plump blackberries but--keeping it real--I pulled some raspberries out of the freezer that I'd picked mid-summer, and they looked like they ought to get used soon.

The pictures below show the stages I've done so far--about a ten minute project. It's been "standing" for a few days, so I haven't gotten to the "strain and add the sugar" stage yet, much less tasted it. We are going to wait until Christmas for the official pour-and-mix, so I won't do those steps until December 22nd.

Jar sterilized, berries prepped and added.

Apple cider vinegar heated almost to boiling and poured over the berries.

Cooling before capping and setting in a cool, dark place (um...the refrigerator).

If you'd like to join me in making some homemade shrub, here is the recipe I chose -- easy peasy.

Stay-tuned for my update on January 4th, when I let you know if this little project turned out and whether or not it's something I'd do again. If you decide to try it (or already have) I'd love to know!

(By the way, if you want a relaxing cuppa in the meantime, how about some Salted Caramel Tea? For real! It's yummy. I didn't know about this until a few days ago either. Where have I been? Lost on the frontier? Apparently.)

Does your family celebrate with any special beverages during the holidays? Wassail? Eggnog? A flaming rum punch or an endless flow of hot cocoa and apple cider? However you toast to the holidays, please...

Have a joyful and blessed Christmas!
Naomi Musch

Friday, November 30, 2018

November Tea Party -- New Releases from Angela K. Couch, Pegg Thomas and Carrie Fancett Pagels

Welcome back to the heart of the Mohawk Valley! I know most of us are experiencing winter, but let's step into the spring of 1781, shall we? The Revolutionary War has been raging for a half decade, but the battle to decide the fate of the war will be fought before the year's end. The perfect time for a tea party and to become reacquainted with old friends!

Please also join us on Facebook, 1-3PM Eastern, for more fun and prizes!
Click HERE to attend!


Angela K. Couch: Almost two years ago you joined me in Rachel and Andrew's love story in The Scarlet Coat, where were were introduced to Rachel's brother Joseph Garnet. Book two, The Patriot and the Loyalist took us south to South Carolina for a more "cloak and dagger" style of fight. Now we are back, to join Joseph as he discovers what true love really feels like.

Burying his wife is the hardest thing Joseph Garnet has ever done—until he's called to leave his young son and baby daughter to fight Iroquois raiders. When one of the marauders tries to steal his horse, the last thing he expects is to end up tussling with a female. The girl is wounded, leaving Joseph little choice but to haul her home to heal—an act that seems all too familiar.

Though Joseph doesn’t appear to remember her, Hannah Cunningham could never forget him. He rode with the mob that forced her two brothers into the Continental Army and drove her family from their home—all because of her father’s loyalties to The Crown. After five years with her mother’s tribe, the rebels and starvation have left her nothing but the driving need to find her brothers.

Compelled by a secret he’s held for far too long, Joseph agrees to help Hannah find what remains of her family. Though she begins to steal into his aching heart, he knows the truth will forever stand between them. Some things cannot be forgiven.

To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after three munchkins.

To celebrate with you, and to kick of the Christmas season, Angela Civil War story: I Heard the Bells, winner of the ACFW's  Virginia chapter's short story contest, is free on Amazon for the next three days! Hope you enjoy!
Publisher’s Overview: Lighthouses have long been the symbol of salvation, warning sailors away from dangerous rocks and shallow waters.
Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of our nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 bring hope to these lonely keepers and love to weary hearts.
Pegg Thomas was the lead on new release The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection from Barbour Publishing. Her novella, Anna's Tower, is set in 1883 at Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse near where Pegg lives in Michigan!

Blurb:Anna Wilson's plan to be the next lighthouse keeper is endangered when Maksim Ivanov is shipwrecked on Thunder Bay Island. Handsome and capable, he could steal her dream. Or provide a new one.

Carrie Fancett Pagels
"Love's Beacon" novella  is set at Round Island and on Mackinac Island in Michigan in the late 1890s, one of Carrie's favorite places for story world.

Blurb: Valerie Fillman believes she’s lost everything—until widower Paul Sholtus takes on the Lighthouse Keeper position at Round Island Lighthouse, where her parents and siblings perished. Can God send a light and direct the paths of these two? Or will a shocking discovery separate them forever?

Carrie is giving away some delicious Twinings Christmas tea and a copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection and some Thé Doré (Golden Tea) Shower gel from Yves Rocher. Leave a comment to enter for the prizes!

There is also a Rafflecopter for The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection and includes a three boxes of fudge from Joann's Fudge, too, and other gifts not shown in the picture. Ends in one week so enter now!

Pegg is giving away a leather-bound journal because where would be historical writers be without the journals of those who went before us? There is no greater treasure trove for a writer than a journal from the time period they are writing. Who knows, maybe your journal today will inspire a writer - or even your family members - in the decades to come! Make a comment below with the word JOURNAL in it to be in the drawing.
Pegg is also giving away "300 Writing Prompts" to anyone interested in writing for themselves. This book, which is similar to a journal, gives the writer a subject and space to write down their thoughts on it. The prompts are thoughtful and would be another great idea to hand down the family as an heirloom. Make a comment below with the word PROMPTS in it to be in the drawing.

Also Visit With Us LIVE! 
We're thankful for our readers and we're happy to be celebrating over on Facebook at our party from 1-3 PM Eastern Time. Click here  We'll each have a half hour slot to visit with guests: Pegg at 1:00, Carrie at 1:30, Angela at 2:00, all Eastern Time. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

As American as Crabapple Jelly

Thanksgiving might be the most tradition-bound holiday for me. There’s no wondering what will be on the table!

We all seem to celebrate the wonders of pumpkin (well, really pumpkin spice) as soon as September rolls around, but apple pie, that’s an all together different subject. We love apple pie all year long!

"American as apple pie." (We'll leave hot dogs for another time...)

While apple pie is always on my holiday table, I'm certain it was not part of the first Thanksgiving feast in its present form. Pumpkin pie would be a no also, even though squash was likely part of that multi-day meal. Because that canned pumpkin you buy is really a squash cultivar, the lines of linking back to 1621 are blurred there…

The truth is that until European settlements became established, the only apple option was the native crabapple.

If you’ve eaten this interesting little fruit, it’s likely been in the form of jelly. Like another tart fruit, serviceberry (Amelanchier spp. for example), jellies and jams and preserves make up for that mouth-puckering taste with the addition of ‘additional’ sugar.

Apples came to the continent in bits and pieces—apples, seeds, and rootstocks. Champions of early colonial horticulture tried most fruits (and flowering plants and vegetables) in various climates and soil types throughout the new colonies. Robert Prince, likely the first and most well-known, founded a nursery in 1737 in Flushing, NY he named The Linean. (Correctly spelled Linnaean after the father of scientific classification--how things are named.)

By trial and error and a lot of persistence, Prince eventually began apple tree production along with pear and grape, and ornamental crops such as roses.

Prince became internationally known for his work, but his name is lost for the most part. Ask anyone about early apple orchards and you here only one name: Johnny Appleseed!

A skilled graftsman, Robert Prince is likely responsible for most of the apples we have now as they were based on his work. Hundreds of varieties of apples have come and gone in almost three hundred years and their geneology is well-recorded.

Today, crabapples are a common landscape tree grown for their brilliant showy spring blossoms in every hue from white to red.

Did the colonists like their apple pie? It’s said that during the Revolutionary War, General Howe ordered military protection of Prince’s huge plant nursery. Their success brought a visit by President Washington in 1789. Just when that imported fruit became part of our national identity isn’t clear, but you’ll always find both apple and pumpkin pie on my holiday table!

What was on yours?

Cooked crabapples are strained; the resulting liquid is cooked with sugar and pectin.
both photos via Creative Commons


Have a wonderful, blessed holiday season my friends!

Friday, November 23, 2018

The First Black Friday at Ye Olde Haberdashery

Prudence Moody clutched her basket to her breast and waited with the other women. The wind blew cold beneath her skirts, her feet already numb. But it would be worth it once the door opened. The wooden sign painted with a fair likeness of a needle and thread swung above the door. Its metal fastenings creaked with each gust.
Not a word passed between the women gathered beneath it. It was as if their next breath hinged on the opening of that door. The rattle of a key brought each woman to her toes, breath suspended. Then the door opened and—as if it were one beast—the collective breath released and the women surged forward.
“Nay, release that sprigged muslin. ’Tis sure that I had it first.” Chastity Bradford wrest the bolt of fabric from the hands of Mercy Fryer.
“’Tis not truth, for I certainly touched it before thee,” Mercy made a grab for the muslin but caught only the back of Chastity’s shawl.
“Here now, ladies, there be plenty for all.” Mister Rushmore raised his hands as if to slow or quiet the mob, but the ladies pushed past him.
Prudence scurried to the back corner where a table displayed a few scant yards of Chantilly lace. She spied the perfect strip of knotted ivory when it was snatched from the table and trust into the basket of Selah Bell.
“Selah, I was intent on that lace.”
“Then ’tis fortunate for me I arrived first.” With a swish of her skirts, Selah whisked to the next table.
“Here now, ladies, we have much to—” Mister Rushmore’s words cut off as some lady’s elbow connected with his midsection while she wrested a gray linen bolt from her neighbor.
Prudence turned back to the lace table, but every scrap was gone. Every scrap! A roiling sea of skirts blocked her way to the shelves that lined the opposite wall of the haberdashery. Someone trod on her foot, a basket rammed into her spine, and a hand grazed the side of her head as she fought her way through the horde.
Three silver thimbles gleamed on the middle shelf. She only needed one, but the impressive expanse of Hester Bleeker’s hips blocked Prudence from getting within reaching distance. Help came in the form of skinny Phoebe Collins, who smacked into Prudence with enough force to wedge her between Hester’s hips and Mercy’s shoulder. She reached for the thimbles when the unthinkable happened.
The shelf collapsed.
Like a quilt shaken in the wind and laid out for a picnic, the ladies in the haberdashery floated to the floor in a tangle of skirts and bonnets. Prudence landed on her hands and knees, the basket torn from her grasp.
“Get thee off my person!”
“Unhand those scissors, they are mine!”
“Thy foot is on my hand!”
“Ladies, please—”
“Get thee out of my way!”
 Prudence was pushed backward, her knee landing on something small and hard as an elbow connected with her cheek. She rolled to her side and grabbed the hard object. A thimble. She curled her fingers around it and wormed her way out of the crush of skirts and bodies until she could stand.
Mister Rushmore, his powdered wig askew, stood in the middle of his store, his mouth agape and waistcoat torn. His wife hunkered behind the solid oak counter, eyes wide and lips trembling. Prudence waded toward her, the thimble clenched to her palm.
“Mrs. Rushmore,” Prudence panted by the time she reached the counter. “I would purchase this thimble, and then be on my way.”
The woman nodded, apparently incapable of speech, so Prudence fished her pocket from underneath her apron and dug out the required coins. Half the required coins since that was the sale today, everything half off for Philadelphia’s first Black Friday Sale.
Her bill paid, Prudence found her basket in a tangle of wreckage near the door. She pried it from the others and hung it, albeit lopsidedly, from her arm. Then she patted her hair back under her bonnet and strode out the door.
Eliab, her husband, waited in the wagon across the street.
“Did thee purchase what thee needed?” he asked.
“Indeed, and at quite the bargain.” She held out her shiny prize for him to admire.
He eyed the thimble, then leaned closer to peer under her bonnet. “Why, wife, I believe thou shalt sport a black eye by eventide.”

She pressed her fingers against the tender flesh of her cheek. “Nevertheless, husband, ’twas worth it.”
And lo, the tradition began ...