10 Year Anniverary & New Releases Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' Butterfly Cottage - Melanie B, Dogwood Plantation - Patty H R, Janet Grunst's winner is Connie S., Denise Weimer's Winner is Kay M., Naomi Musch's winner is Chappy Debbie, Angela Couch - Kathleen Maher, Pegg Thomas Beverly D. M. & Gracie Y., Christy Distler - Kailey B., Shannon McNear - Marilyn R.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The History Behind "Song for the Hunter" ~ Author's Note

With two new books releasing at the beginning of this year, I hope you'll indulge me today as I share a bit from my author's note about my novel Song for the Hunter, a romantic and adventurous story set mostly on Lake Superior's Madeline Island (in the story called by it's earlier name, St. Michel's) in 1808.

Tragedy brought them together, but learning the truth might tear them apart.

Métis hunter Bemidii Marchal has never played his flute to court a maiden, but he considers the possibility at Fort William’s Great Rendezvous. However, when rescuing his sister causes an influential man’s death, the hunter becomes the hunted. Bemidii flees for refuge to Lake Superior’s Madeline Island and takes the name his French father called him, Benjamin.

Carrying a secret, Camilla Bonnet travels with her husband into the wilderness where tragedy awaits. Left alone, she fears “Benjamin” but is forced to trust him. As she does, their friendship grows and turns to deeper feelings. Then Bemidii discovers more about the man he killed. Now the secret he hides might turn Camilla’s heart away—and demand his life.

I appreciate everyone who has entered the world of the Lake Superior fur trade with me through my posts on CQ, via the world created in my previous novel Mist O'er the Voyageur, and now in the sequel Song for the Hunter. While the story of my hero Bemidii Marchal and heroine Camilla Bonnet is completely fictitious, there are a number of people mentioned in the story who did forge history, at least somewhat similarly to the way I showed them doing so in the story.

Michel and Madeleine (Equasayway) Cadotte, indeed, headed the most renowned fur trade family of the Apostle Islands and in northern Wisconsin, and their sons carried on in their stead. The largest of the Apostle Islands where their trading post was built is now called Madeline Island—named in her honor. The La Pointe post was built near the ruins of an old military fort that had been occupied at the southern end of the island during the French and Indian Wars. Today, visiting La Pointe by ferry, you are not only afforded the joy of basking in the windswept beauty of the island, still sitting like a gem in sparkling Lake Superior among the archipelago of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, but you can also take in the lovely setting of historic Bayfield, Wisconsin, on the distant hills of the mainland.

Michel’s great-grandfather, Mathurin Cadot (changed later to Cadotte), was the first family member to arrive at Lake Superior in the 1600s. It was Michel’s father, Jean-Baptiste Sr. who, most critically, established fur-trading posts along the southern shore of the lake, all the way to Chequamegon Bay where this story takes place. Three of Michel and Madeleine’s sons continued the tradition, serving important roles in both the fur trade and the War of 1812. It was their son-in-law, Lyman Warren, who took over the post on Madeline Island after Michel retired. Under Lyman’s direction, the post became the American Fur Company’s primary trading post in the region.

Around the middle of the novel, Michel mentions that his stores at Lac Courte Oreille had been robbed the year before. That was an event that took place when the famed Indian called the Prophet, brother to the great Tecumseh, began preaching his religion that advocated banning the trade of whiskey. He also taught that the Indians should not furnish meat to the white traders unless it was boned. As his religion spread, some Indians took to harassing traders wherever they could, including breaking in and destroying stores, as happened to Cadotte at Lac Courte Oreilles, some seventy-five miles south of Chequamegon Bay. The Prophet was defeated in 1811 by Mad Anthony Wayne at Tippecanoe, and the death of Tecumseh followed in 1813.

The novel also mentions that the Americans would be coming soon to take over French trade in the area. As a matter of fact, there were plenty of American fur traders already in Wisconsin. In 1787, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, in which territories and states were formed around the Great Lakes. While Wisconsin was part of Indiana Territory, it was not much affected by United States laws until Jay’s Treaty of 1795, which contained a provision for British withdrawal from the region. If you read Brigitte and René’s story in my novel Mist O’er the Voyageur, you might recall how the French had withdrawn from Grand Portage, leaving it to the British, and now that, too, would fall under American jurisdiction.

Michel Cadotte, though a Frenchman, was an independent trader who plied his trade in whichever direction his interests were best served. He transitioned his work from Canada’s North West Company to John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company shortly after the conclusion of this novel.

As to the presence of my heroine, Camilla Bonnet, history tells us that—but for the occasional company partner’s wife taking a summer trip with her husband into the Upper Country—there were only two white women who permanently resided in Wisconsin at this time. They were Mrs. Charles de Langlade at La Saye and Mrs. Jean Marie Cardinal at Prairie du Chien. Nevertheless, I felt it plausible that someone like Camilla might have arrived with her bourgeois husband Ambroise, and … let’s just say my imagination took over from there. Perhaps there actually was someone like Camilla living here in this vast Great Lakes country, and history simply lost track of her.

I hope you’ll read Song for the Hunter, and enjoy this glimpse into the rich history of America’s fur trading past as much as I did. Please leave an online review for Bemidii and Camilla’s story if you enjoy it!

Available at: AmazonChristianBookBarnes&Noble, and direct from the publisher: ISM

Add it to your wish list on Goodreads and Bookbub.


Monday, January 10, 2022

Yaupon tea: another small adventure in historical research

Some time back I wrote about my quest to find and try hyson tea, a variety popular during the colonial and Federal eras of our country's history (apparently Thomas Jefferson was a fan) and mentioned in the material accounts surrounding the Harpes. (It's good! Very much like other modern green teas.)

My latest research nerdiness led me to yaupon (YO-pahn), a type of holly which grows wild across the southern United States and the only known source of caffeine native to North America. The berries are poisonous (although by some accounts the native peoples would eat them after boiling for 8-9 hours) but the leaves were steeped and drunk for both social and ceremonial occasions.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ... range distribution for yaupon)

Gift teas!
The plant would later be categorized Ilex vomitoria for its reputation as an emetic--native peoples would brew it for hours and drink it by the gallon as a stimulant and purgative. But prepared as a "normal" tea and consumed in smaller quantities, it's said to be packed with antioxidants, even more than traditional green teas. It's even rumored to help with high blood sugars and other health issues. At some point in my research months ago, I added a sampler pack to my Amazon gift list and then--forgot about it.

One of my dear daughters-in-law gifted me with the tea for Christmas, though, and so I was beyond excited to try it:  Yaupon by Catspring Tea in three varieties:  green, medium roast, and dark roast.

(Photo credit: mine)

Surprise! It really is as smooth as they claim. Because it doesn't contain tannins, it never developes that puckery taste and feeling that black teas get from steeping too long. But warning--this is not a bedtime tea! A week or two ago I needed a cuppa to shake off an after-nap groggy feeling, and opted for the green tea (so far it's my favorite). Well, it was so efficient at banishing my sleepiness that I wound up being wide awake until well after midnight!

Yaupon may not be as high in caffeine as coffee (or so the websites say) but it also contains theobromine, a substance in chocolate. It's also one of those rare brews that tastes better as it ages!

So that's my experience with a now-obscrure tea that was likely offered to the English explorers and the Lost Colonists by their native hosts. It was almost certainly used as well in preparation for wartime and coming-of-age rites.

If you're interested in reading more about this staple beverage that once threatened the global tea trade, try any of these articles:

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ... Eastern bluebird feeding on yaupon berries)

Monday, December 20, 2021

A Bit of Etiquette from a Teenage George Washington

by Denise Weimer

Who knew that at the tender age of roughly fourteen, the future president, George Washington, took the time to pen 110 “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation”? Apparently, a lot of people, as an internet search reveals. I, however, did not know until finding a 1988 Applewood Books reprint in my parents’ library.

Washington is believed to have adapted these rules, likely at the behest of a schoolmaster, from a book printed by French Jesuits in 1595. Records differ as to whether he was thirteen, fourteen, or sixteen when he did this, but an 1888 version, “copied from the original” by J.M. Toner, M.D., places him at thirteen using a date of 1745 on one of the pages. Though one source credits an even younger Francis Hawkins with the first English translation in 1640, Toner also avows that his extensive study of the Library of Congress revealed no similar printings.

Let’s take a glimpse inside, as so many of these polite considerations have flown out the window in the twenty-first century.

1st Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

7th Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out your chamber half dressed. (I had to include this one in light of all the “Wal-Mart people” out there.)

22nd Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.

29th When you meet with one of greater quality than yourself, stop, and retire, especially if it be a door or any straight place to give way for him to pass.

40th Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.

42nd Let thy ceremonies in courtesy be proper to the dignity of his place with who thou converses, for it is absurd to act the same with a clown and a prince.

44th When a man does all he can though it succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

47th Mock not nor jest at any thing of importance; break no jests that are sharp biting; and if you deliver any thing witty and pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself.

50th Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.

56th Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

60th Be not immodest in urging your friends to discover a secret.

81st Be not curious to know the affairs of others; neither approach those that speak in private.

89th Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

108th When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honour & obey your natural parents although they be poor.

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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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Historical Christmas Party


All of us at Colonial Quills blog and Colonial American Christian Writers welcome you to our party! We also have a Facebook Event from 2-4 pm Eastern Time Wednesday, December 15, where you can show off your party gowns and interact with our authors even more! We're sharing that event with friends from the HHH blog, too, so one or more will join us in the afternoon! 

Shannon McNear

Greetings and salutations, gentle readers! I am so excited to get to share this story with all of you.

The daughter of a renowned English artist and explorer, Elinor White Dare journeys to the New World seeking a fresh start and a place to put down roots. What she finds will shake the very foundations of her faith and yet rebuild what she knows of God’s goodness and mercy, even in loss.

This "what if" historical explores the possible fate of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, the first attempt at English settlement in America, 20 years before Jamestown.

To celebrate the release of this novel, I am giving away a small "Reader's Retreat" gift bundle, with a signed copy of Elinor (or any of my other books of your choice) accompanied by an "adventure" journal, cranberry rose candle, and two other books by friends of mine, which I had signed at this past July's Mississippi River Readers Retreat. For a chance to win, please comment with your favorite place to curl up and read!


Pegg Thomas

Merry Christmas!

I'm showcasing my newest release, Maggie's Strength, for today's party.

Maggie Kerr is a survivor. Taken captive at age eleven during the battle at Fort McCord, she's learned to adapt and to trust no one. Promised in marriage to a Huron warrior she fears, Maggie risks everything in a run for her freedom.

Content to ignore the rising animosity between the British and the Ottawa villagers he calls his friends, Baptiste Geroux plants his fields, limping behind his oxen and waiting for his brother to return from the west. Until the day a woman in danger arrives on his farm.

When more tribes join Pontiac in an all-out war, Maggie and Baptiste take refuge at Fort Detroit. He’s distrusted for being French. She’s scorned for being raised by the Hurons. Together they forge a fragile bond—until Maggie's past threatens their chance at happiness.
Follow me on my newsletter for updates and announcements! 


Naomi Musch

Many happy returns of the season to one and all! I'm happy to hang out with you here today and over on the FB event page. My featured NEW book that releases in just a couple weeks is called Song for the Hunter, and I'm giving away a Kindle copy here on the blog.

30% off through Dec. 16 at the
publisher's site with the
Song for the Hunter is a sequel to my 2019 Selah and Book of the Year finalist Mist O'er the Voyageur. Here's a brief description of the story:

Métis hunter Bemidii Marchal has never played his flute to court a maiden but considers the possibility at Fort William’s Great Rendezvous. However, when rescuing his sister causes an influential man’s death, the hunter becomes the hunted. Bemidii flees to Lake Superior's Madeline Island. Carrying a secret, Camilla Bonnet travels into the wilderness with her husband where tragedy awaits. Left alone, she fears Bemidii but is forced to trust him. Friendship grows and turns to deeper feelings. Then Bemidii discovers more about the man he killed. Now the secret he hides might turn Camilla’s heart away—and demand his life.

You can read the first chapter on the publisher's site here: or if you want to listen to me reading, you can hear the first few pages (not the whole chapter) on my Youtube channel:

To enter for an e-copy of Song for the Hunter, just leave a comment about your Christmas plans--what you're excited about, what you're reading, your favorite food, anything! And don't forget to mention your interest in Song for the Hunter!


Gabrielle Meyer

Merry Christmas, to one and all! I'm thrilled to be back at Colonial Quills sharing in the Christmas festivities. I can't wait to join everyone at the live Facebook party.

Today, I'll be chatting about my upcoming release, When the Day Comes. It will release on May 3, 2022 with Bethany House Publishers. Here's a little more about the story.

How will she choose, knowing all she must sacrifice?

Libby has been given a powerful gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other. While she's the same person at her core in both times, she's leading two vastly different lives.

In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal Governor, trying to provide for her family and support the Patriot cause. The man she loves, Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives--and any hope of love--are put in jeopardy.

Libby's life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors. But the only work she cares about--women's suffrage--is discouraged, and her mother is intent on marrying her off to an English marquess. The growing talk of war in Europe only complicates matters.

But Libby knows she's not destined to live two lives forever. On her twenty-first birthday, she must choose one path and forfeit the other forever--but how can she choose when she has so much to lose in each life?

In honor of my new release, I would like to give away an advanced reader copy. They won't be available until February, but the winner will be one of the first to get a copy in the mail! I will choose a winner from among the comments on this blog post. Merry Christmas!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and subscribe to my newsletter!


Carrie Fancett Pagels 

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas, as my English ancestors would say! 

Did you know that at the end of my colonial novella, Mercy in a Red Cloak, there is a Christmas scene? This book, like my two 2021 releases Behind Love's Wall and Butterfly Cottage, is set at the Straits of Mackinac and on Mackinac Island! I do have an audiobook of Mercy in a Red Cloak, also, and will be giving away reader's choice of format, including audio code if preferred! And in 2021 my pre-War of 1812 book, Holt Medallion finalist The Steepchase, released in audiobook and I have audiobook codes for Christmas giveaway, too!

From all of us at Colonial Quills blog, we would like to thank you for your readership! You're a blessing to us and we pray our blog posts have blessed you as well!

The wreaths pictured in the post are from Colonial Williamsburg. We hope you'll allow us to serve you a cup of tea, or a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and bring around some trays of Christmas treats for you to enjoy! 

The blessings of the season to you all!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Colonial History in the Caribbean: St. Croix Part 3 (another unexpected connection!)

by Shannon McNear


Some things are just too strange to be coincidence.

So this past summer, my husband's Air Guard unit took part in a joint exercise using St. Croix, part of the United States Virgin Islands, as its base. Someone came up with the idea of inviting spouses and/or family along, and thus I found myself flying out of country for the first time ever to a little island I didn't know I needed to visit.

I'll admit, I don't really have a formal bucket list. But if I did, traveling out of country and then horseback riding on the beach would be two items on that list--and I was blessed to get to do both on this trip.

I've already covered two aspects of interesting colonial history associated with St. Croix, one connected with Denmark and one with our own Hamilton, but the one which got me most excited, and felt the most personal, was something I noticed while on that ride through the tropical forest on the island's west side.

It was my first chance to go trail riding in years, and I was already geeking out over getting to be on horseback on a Caribbean island. Then, at a bend in the trail, I looked down and saw these little green apple-like fruits, growing on a small tree that had fallen alongside the trail.

A memory tickled, of an incident I'd read in John White's account of the Roanoke Colony's passage through the Caribbean.

And why were they passing through the Caribbean, you might wonder? I'm glad you asked. It's because during the Age of Exploration, seafaring men knew it was better to take advantage of ocean currents that swirl in a great, clockwise motion from the coast of Europe, southward past Spain and Africa, sweeping around to the Caribbean, and then northward again along the coast of the New World.

Ships often stopped at the various islands for provisioning. And so John White reports an incident that I allude to in my recently released novel Elinor:

The 22 [of June] we came to an anchor at an Island called Santa Cruz, where all the planters were set on land, staying there till the 25 of the same month. At our first landing on this Island, some of our women, and men, by eating a small fruit like green Apples, were fearfully troubled with a sudden burning in their mouths, and swelling of their tongues so big, that some of them could not speak. Also a child by sucking one of those women's breasts, had at that instant his mouth set on such a burning, that it was strange to see how the infant was tormented for the time: but after 24 hours it ware away of it self.

... In this Island we found no watering place, but a standing pond, the water whereof was so evil, that many of our company fell sick with drinking thereof: and as many as did but wash their faces with water, in the morning before the sun had drawn away the corruption, their faces did so burn and swell, that their eyes were shut up, and could see in five or six days, or longer. [They did later find a spring high on a rocky hill.]

A small fruit like green apples ... ? I piped up and asked the girl leading our ride what the fruits were, and she said, "Oh, that's manchineel, and they're poisonous!"

(Interestingly enough, the experience reported in this article mirrors John White's!)

Our guide went on to chat at little bit about this fruit you definitely want to avoid, and then went on to tell us that there was something else called a "ganip" that looked a bit like a small lime but was absolutely delicious. And before long, we ran across some.

At our guide's urging, we all collected a few. I hesitated--here I was, an adult of somewhat older persuasion and uncertain digestive sensitivity; would sampling this out in the wild be a mistake? But then I decided to take the risk. The skin was tender and popped easily when I bit the tiny fruit--about the size of a Scuppernong grape--and when I squeezed the juicy pulp into my mouth, it reminded me in texture and taste of something between a mango and a peach. There wasn't a lot of pulp surrounding the pit, but our guide was right about how good they tasted. I had several.

And fortunately, I never suffered any digestive distress, either.

A few articles about ganips:

I wonder whether the English colonists thought they were getting ganips when they tried the manchineel?

But here was the thing. I'd completely forgotten whether John White had specified on which island this particular misadventure took place. But do you see it--Santa Cruz? That's the older name for St. Croix, the Spanish version of the name--and the people of the island still call themselves "Cruzan" after that name.

How cool to find that I'd walked shores where my Lost Colonists might have walked, ridden through a forest where they might have wandered.