Christmas Party winners: Christy Distler's A Cord of Three Strands goes to Chappy Debbie, Denise Weimer's winner is Megsmom (we need you to get your email to us) , Shannon McNear's winners are Elly (The Blue Cloak) and Lucy Reynolds (Love's Pure Light), Pegg Thomas's winners are Joy Ellis and Susan Johnson, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners per were Melanie Backus and Paula Shreckhise, Janet Grunst's winner is Caryl Kane. Congratulations, all! Please private message your e-mail or mailing address to the authors.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Let's Make Colonial Cookies!

Every now and again I get an urge to investigate a Colonial recipe. I want to make something palatable to my modern diet, so most of the recipes I try incorporate those changes that benefit my tastes. That said, I always discover some interesting historical tidbit in the process. 

In an effort to come up with some new munchies to go into my hubby's lunch, I decided to try some very basic cookies and found a great recipe for Colonial Cookies from the website. Join me in the process, won't you? 

In searching for a likely recipe, I realized first off that sugar in the colonial period was not the refined, white grains we buy packaged in five-pound bags. As sugar was mostly supplied from the Caribbean at the hands of slaves, it was basically sugar cane that had been boiled and strained a number of times. Then the final product was placed in cone-shaped molds to harden, much like a modern sugar cube.

Colonial households had in their kitchen chest of implements a tool called a sugar nippers for breaking off chunks of sugar from the cone as required. Sugar nippers came in a variety of sizes, and you can find antique nippers for sale online as well as reproductions. Here is a good example of a sugar nipper reproduction and sugar cones that are available from 

I have to admit that I'm tempted to own a pair for decoration.

Oats came to America in the 17th century and were in plentiful supply in the colonies, though it, too, was not always the product we know today. Then oats might be ground or crushed, and whole oats might simply be set to soak overnight and then cooked easily in the morning. I will use common "old-fashioned" oatmeal for my recipe, not the quick-cook variety.

These are very basic Colonial oatmeal cookies with nothing fancy added, and I'm going to double the recipe below, because I'm a grandma and that cookie jar needs to be full! 

However, regarding substitutions, I'm going to use brown sugar as my sugar cone replacement, and I'm also going to use shortening made with meat fats (no vegetable oil shortening here) to replace half the butter. The shortening made with meat fats (available everywhere) makes a flakier, yummier baked product, especially in pie crusts. It keeps the texture for cookies and sometimes improves it. It also saves on the butter bill when I'm making extra large batches. I think "lard" would also be a common replacement in colonial America, though they probably often saved their fats for making tallow candles.

Colonial Cookies

Here's the easy recipe from, but watch the video below if you want a good laugh. Yes, I am a screw-up. You can watch me neglect one main ingredient and add another twice.

But guess what...the cookies still turned out great! I will definitely make these again!

1 c. sugar (I chose brown.)
1 c. butter (I use half shortening made from meat fats.)
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. oatmeal

Combine together. Mix all ingredients like pie crust until soft; flatten small balls of dough on ungreased pan.

Bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes.

Makes 4 dozen.

This is why I don't have a food channel:

And here's my evaluation of how they turned out:

There you have it, folks. colonial cookies from a modern kitchen. Yummy! They did want to crumble easily, so next time instead of adding twice the baking soda (oops! 😏) I might add an egg to help the dough bind better. 

I have news!

The pre-order is available for BOTH Song for the Hunter and the Lumberjacks and Ladies novella collection! Click on the covers or the Amazon links to find out more!

Song for the Hunter on Amazon

Lumberjacks and Ladies on Amazon

Monday, April 19, 2021

Creek War Battles of Tallushatchee and Talladega

by Denise Weimer

This year, leading up to the April 13 release of my Southeastern frontier romance, Bent Tree Bride, I’ve been delving into the history behind the novel and its setting, the Creek War, or Red Stick War. This military action during the fall of 1813 through the spring of 1814 saw the Red Stick Creeks allied to the British as part of the War of 1812, while the Cherokees allied to the Americans under General Andrew Jackson. When the Red Stick Creeks began to attack the peaceful National Creek faction, the National Creeks called for help. Then Mississippi militia tangled with the Red Sticks at Burnt Corn Creek and Fort Mims. Tennessee and Georgia militia rallied, and the Cherokee Council pledged five to seven hundred volunteers for a Cherokee Regiment.

In my last post, we followed the main body of Tennessee militia into Creek Territory, to the newly and roughly constructed, hundred-yard-square Fort Strother at the junction of the Coosa River and Canoe Creek. From the Indian Agency at Hiwassee, the Cherokee troops navigated the mountains of Northern Alabama by way of the Cherokee village of Turkey Town. There they learned the Red Sticks had gathered in a nearby village. The Cherokees set out on their own to confront them, finding the victims of General Coffee’s Tennessee militia at Tallushatchee … where my conflicted Cherokee lieutenant first tests himself in action. General Jackson had captured two Creeks who revealed the Red Sticks were gathering at Tallushatchee, twenty-five miles south of Turkey Town.

General Coffee
On the morning of November 3, 1813, Jackson dispatched Brigadier General Coffee and 900 men to encircle the hostiles. Lieutenant James Patterson’s troops drew the Creeks out. They charged the right column, then retreated. At first, it seemed casualties would be few, but about four dozen Red Sticks retreated to a single log building. When General Coffee’s dragoons approached the door, a weak old Creek woman stretched a bow with her feet and killed a lieutenant. Davy Crockett, present with the Tennessee militia, later reported that this sent the troops into a rage. They killed the woman and set the house on fire, burning it with forty-six warriors inside. The Red Sticks fought desperately but were defeated. Cabins were razed and those inside burned alive. Nineteen Creek women and children were brought from hiding in the woods and taken as slaves.

Most of the Cherokee Regiment arrived too late to witness or take part in what was later called a massacre. The orders of Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs had specified women and children were not to be killed in combat. Coffee blamed the outcome on the civilians hiding in their homes. At this battle, General Jackson claimed an infant, Lyncoya, whose mother had been killed. The child was ten months old, the same age as Jackson’s adopted son, Andrew Jr. When Creek women prisoners refused to care for him, Jackson sent him to his wife in Nashville.

While Jackson’s forces returned from Tallushatchee, Red Stick warriors besieged National Creeks at Fort Leslie/Lashley near present-day Talladega, Alabama. A National Creek son of a chief escaped wrapped in a hog skin to inform Jackson. Jackson sent orders for Colonel Gideon Morgan’s Cherokee Regiment to join his own troops for the attack, but General John Cocke tossed the order and commandeered the Cherokees for another use, destroying the Creek towns of the Hillabee region. These towns had asked for peace, but Cocke rode against them before General Jackson’s acceptance could reach them. Whether the general knew Jackson had accepted their surrender or not remained in question, but his actions made the Cherokee Regiment unwitting aggressors.

On November 9, Jackson encircled Fort Leslie/Lashley with 1200 infantry and 800 cavalry. The Creeks attacked, and the militia retreated, allowing the warriors to escape. Without the Cherokees to assist, more than seven hundred Red Stick Creeks escaped to regroup. The scene was set for a harsh, starving winter with the army holed up at Fort Strother, the conflict only to be resolved by the massive spring battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Battle of Talladega

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 the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses!

Bent Tree Bride is now available!

Connect with Denise here:

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Friday, April 2, 2021

The 22 Apostles - Jewels of Lake Superior

Don't islands spell romance? It seems to me the very notion of an island visit can conjure up images of beauty, rest, and romance--or in some cases, lurking danger.

Okay, my writer brain is already taking off. Today I want to introduce someone out there to the Apostle Islands. If you live in the upper Midwest, you probably know something about them, or maybe you've visited the Apostles yourself. I suspect that there are a lot of people who don't know about this national treasure.

The Apostle Island National Lakeshore is only fifty years old by designation as a national park, but its beauty and importance in our economy is centuries old. The Apostles sit just off the Bayfield peninsula in northern Wisconsin. The moody waters are home to a host of shipwrecks, some which can be seen from ferry tour boat when the waters are calm. The islands themselves carry the ghosts of past stories in abandoned places such as the schoolhouse on Sand Island once attended by fishermen's children, or in Stockton Island's silent brownstone quarry, or the earthy cabins of the historical fish camp on Manitou Island. All are empty now and slowly returning to the earth. 

Historical Fish Camp o Manitou Island

There are six lighthouses among the Apostle Islands. All six are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Devil's Island Light - Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

These "Jewels of Lake Superior" number not twelve apostles, as in the Biblical sense, but twenty-two, and they span 280 square miles. They're mostly sandstone, covered in forests. Over the centuries the islands have been home to European explorers, Native Americans, lighthouse keepers, fishermen, farmers, quarrymen, and loggers. Nowadays, only one of the islands is inhabited, and it is not included in national park status with the rest. Yet Madeline Island, the largest among the islands, is filled with history and pristine beauty. The next several images are a few of Madeline's views taken by my son's wife during their family day trip last summer. Check out the clear blue water. Great swimming, but it's much colder than you'd imagine. 

I love all the rock shelves!

And the flat-topped boulders!

Hello, Quinn and Everly! (I have to give a special shout-out, because today's his birthday.)

Brr! But I just want to jump right in! (And I have.)

On the southern tip of Madeline Island is a little known cemetery where Michel Cadotte, the area's most established trader is buried. Nearby, where a fort of the French and Indian war stood previously, he had established one of the premier trading posts of the region in the early 19th century. He and his family became well known in the fur trade. His wife Madeline, for whom the island is named, was born Equaysay, an Ojibwe princess, and raised on Wisconsin's nearby shores.

The sea caves prominent on the island shores and along Wisconsin's mainland.
Image by David Hamilton from Pixabay

Tourists and locals enjoy visiting the caves by kayak. In the winter, ice formations develop in the sea caves. During the winter of 2014, more than 95% of Lake Superior froze over--a nearly unheard of amount. The ice was 50 inches thick in some places. But that winter the caves were so amazing and accessible that 138,000 people trekked along the frozen shoreline to visit them. Many years the ice isn't safe enough for such a visit. My friend Julie Kramer made the journey and gives us great perspective with this shot.

Local friend and historian Dara Fillmore took these fabulous shots during her trek to the ice caves:

I love the juxtaposition of the ice and the sandstone layers.

What a view! Remember, the floor is ice, not rock!

Shh! Don't wake the abominable!

Stalactites...Icy Teeth!

For several months now on Colonial Quills, I've been sharing about the history and beautiful vistas of this region. My novel Song for the Hunter, releasing next January, is set mainly on Madeline Island during Michel Cadotte's reign as fur trader. Readers will become acquainted with the forests, rock ledges, and the historical trading post on Madeline Island. 

If visiting this beautiful setting appeals to you, you can reach the island by ferry. You'll find a small but wonderful museum there, campgrounds, beaches, hiking trails, and a couple places to eat and stay. I hope to go back there this summer. If I do, I'll bring back some more photos to share of these historical locations.

Bayfield Harbor and the Madeline Island Ferry

Have you ever visited the Apostle Islands? 

Find the party here: Journeying with Jenny
Join 13 authors at this event! I'll be hosting the April 11th, Noon-1:00 pm slot, Central Time (1pm-2pm Eastern). Besides sharing a few things about The Love Coward, I'll be hosting a couple of giveaways, and party-goers will be the first ones in on a cover reveal for a new Barbour romance compilation coming out next February!
Naomi Musch

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Formation of the Cherokee Regiment, Red Stick War

by Denise Weimer

As the release date for my Eastern frontier historical romance, Bent Tree Bride, approaches, I’ve shared the history behind the Red Stick War ( and the summer of 1813 battles at Burnt Corn Creek and Fort Mims ( to lay out events framing this little-known part of the War of 1812. We saw that a portion of the Creek Indians of modern-day Alabama, called Red Sticks, allied to the British in an attempt to keep their lands, while the Cherokees joined American forces under General Andrew Jackson with the same goal in mind. When the Red Stick Creeks began attacking their National Creek brethren, many National Creeks swarmed into Cherokee villages for refuge and called on the Cherokees for military defense. So did the Tennessee militia, later joined by Georgia and Mississippi militia.

On September 26, 1813, Cherokee Chief Charles Hicks, the real-life father of my fictional hero, Sam Hicks, relayed to the Cherokee Council the formal call to war by U.S. Indian Agent Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, under Brigadier General James White of Knoxville. Cherokee Headman John Walker, whose son was married to the daughter of Meigs, replied that the Cherokees would supply five to seven hundred men.

By the way, the Walker-Meigs marriage of a Cherokee man to a white woman was very unique, and when my hero falls in love with his colonel’s daughter, he uses it to argue a precedent to his father in Bent Tree Bride. During the time, white men often took Cherokee wives, but the reverse was rare.

The volunteers were to serve a three-month stint in Colonel Gideon Morgan’s Cherokee Regiment of seven companies. Morgan had married a Cherokee woman and settled on their land, so he made a trusted leader. He serves as inspiration for Colonel Moore, my heroine’s father. Many of the Cherokee enlistees were past or present members of the Cherokee Lighthorse Brigade, a mounted patrol unit established by Cherokee Chief The Ridge in 1808. These veterans enlisted as men of rank or earned promotion.

Thirty-nine-year-old Cherokee Captain David McNair led a special spy or scout unit which my hero belongs to, made up of seventeen mounted volunteers from different companies. They were to wear white plumes or deer tails in their hair to identify themselves as American allies.

Many Tennessee militiamen mistrusted their Cherokee counterparts due to the
fact that they’d been enemies as recently as the late-1700s. The militia made their way into Creek Territory, to the newly and roughly constructed, hundred-yard-square Fort Strother at the junction of the Coosa River and Canoe Creek. Across the shoals of the river was a small, friendly Creek village known as Oti Palin, Ten Islands. The fort included an eight-hut hospital complex, twenty-five tents for soldiers, and space for a hundred hogs. At Fort Strother and Turkey Town, much of the action of Bent Tree Bride takes place.

On October 29, 1813, a large group of Cherokees mustered into service at the Cherokee Agency, where Meigs addressed them, saying, “We are a band of brothers in this war acting in a common cause.” He cautioned them against “acts of barbarity” and promised that honor would come to those who served if they rejected traditional values that stressed individual action for status.

From the fort at Hiwassee, they navigated the mountains of Northern Alabama by way of the Cherokee village of Turkey Town. There they learned the Red Sticks had gathered in a nearby village. The Cherokees set out on their own to confront them, finding the victims of General Coffee’s Tennessee militia at Tallushatchee … where my conflicted Cherokee lieutenant first tests himself in action.

My May post will relate what actually happened at Tallushatchee and Talladega.

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 the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of a dozen published novels and a number of novellas. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses!

Connect with Denise here:
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Friday, March 12, 2021

Two Revolutionary War Era First-Hand Accounts

In the mid-eighties, I began writing what later became A Heart For Freedom, a story that centered around an eighteenth-century ordinary. Later, Setting Two Hearts Free would also take place at the same ordinary, Stewarts' Green.     Ordinaries were business establishments placed in towns, and on or near roads to accommodate travelers. They also often were located near river-crossings for the same reason. Rooms for sleeping, meals, and care for horses were all provided at a reasonable cost.

When I was researching for the story, I met a couple who lived in what was once an eighteenth-century ordinary only ten miles from where I lived in Loudoun County, VA. Visiting Cattail Ordinary was such a treat. It was located not far from what was a colonial thoroughfare as well as a ferry crossing. The owners generously lent me a book, The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell: 1774-1777. He was a British traveler who stayed in the ordinary on more than one occasion. It detailed all of his travels throughout the colonies and frontier. The same journal has since been republished several times, more recently as A Man Apart.

Anyone who writes for or visits this site enjoys history, but reading a first-person account of an era gives the reader a greater insight into the attitudes and experiences of people at the time. Since this journal was written by an Englishman who visited the colonies from 1774 to 1777, his observations and understanding would be different than a participant in the war or from the viewpoint of a historian.  

Nicholas Cresswell sailed to Virginia, believing that “a person with a small fortune may live much better and make greater improvements in America than he can possibly do in England.” In his mid-twenties, he was seeking to independently establish himself in America but those plans would be thwarted by the onset of the Revolution. Though a subject of King George, Cresswell was by no means an advocate of the colonial Loyalists. He expresses some objectivity in the book for both the Loyalist and the Patriot causes. The diary he maintained covered his travels primarily in the mid-Atlantic region and the frontier, what is now Ohio and Illinois. His observations are interesting. His experience was certainly tainted by the timing of his visit, and would have been so different had he come at another time.

A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier
by Joseph Plumb Martin provides an entirely different wartime experience not only because it is written by a man who enlisted as a Patriot at fifteen but it was written when he was a seventy-year-old man. It is believed that he based this narrative on journals he may have kept in his younger years. Time and maturity no doubt influenced the retelling of his experiences providing perspective. Had he written it during the war, he no doubt would have been less objective. The son of a “wandering clergyman” Joseph was raised by his grandparents in Connecticut. He details numerous battles he participated in and often endured extreme starvation and hardship. Among tales of friendship, he tells unflattering stories of hardhearted civilians and dishonest soldiers. He learned there were many Loyalists among his countrymen and discovered that the war was not only against the invading British army but was also a civil war often dividing neighbors and families. It’s a fascinating commentary by someone who was there.

Do you enjoy reading historical events by people who were present?