7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Guest review of Kelly Long's "Arms of Love"

(Thomas Nelson, 2012)
4.5  stars~

Reviewed by Diana Flowers

Tale of Redemption and Forgiveness!

Kelly Long sweeps us away to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the year 1777; to a tumultuous time in the history of our country, where the Redcoats, loyalists, patriots, and Amish pacifists coexist. It is also a time of great political unrest, and persecution towards the Amish sect, who, in spite of their peace loving dictates, find their hearts rebelling against the injustices perpetrated in the colonies.

In spite of the political uncertainty surrounding her, Lena Yoder, a beautiful young Amish woman, can barely contain her joy. She is in the throes of love with the handsome Adam Wyse, and her mother is expecting another child. Unbeknownst to Lena, however, in just a short time a promise that her dying mother exacts from her beloved Adam, turns her world upside down, and she finds herself forced to turn to another for support, Adam's brother, Isaac.

Adam Wyse carries a dark secret of guilt and shame from being physically abused, and ponders joining the Patriot's cause to try to escape his problems, the worst of which is being unable to bear seeing his beloved Lena with Isaac. Can Adam ever overcome his demons?...and why does his father seem to delight in tormenting him so? Will Adam run off to war, and keep his promise to Lena's mother concerning her?...and is it too late for forgiveness and redemption between a father and son, and a lifetime of abuse?
This was the first book I have ever read by Kelly Long, but it won't be my last! She touches on some very heavy issues in this book; PTSD, child abuse, the controversial habit of unmarried Amish young people "bundling", to name a few. 

Kelly's characters are realistic and not flawless as in some of the Amish books of today, and I loved the inclusion of an older couple's romance, which lended a tender, heartwarming touch to this novel. This is truly a heartrending story of love, redemption, and forgiveness, with a very satisfying conclusion filled with twists and turns. Nicely written, Kelly Long! 

Diana Flowers, Is the Senior Review for Overcoming Through Time - With God's Help. She loves to read and review books and lives in South Carolina, where she enjoys life with her wonderful husband and family.

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a copy of Kelly Long's new release. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Not All Knowledge Is Created Equal

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." Benjamin Franklin

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7

"For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." Proverbs 2:6

Knowledge is sought after like gold. Yet today, many who think they have found it have only found fool's gold. 

Many people seek knowledge via science or mysticism or Eastern religions and philosophies, etc. Some of modern science holds humanity in low esteem, equating our value to that of creation when God created us in His image and crowned us with honor and glory, giving us dominion over His creation. Mysticism subjects humans to constant evaluation of experiences without any absolutes. Eastern religions and philosophies deny God, our Creator, the only true Existing One. Their philosophies focusing on human accomplishments. The knowledge gained via science, mysticism, Eastern religions and philosophies (and other sources) cannot gain you eternal life nor true peace. They are limited by man's perceptions and by the eighty plus or minus years we have here on earth.

Only the knowledge that begins by being in awe of and having reverence for God (fearing the LORD) can give you the most 'interest' for your investment. Only when we humble ourselves and understand who we are in light of who God is can we begin to understand this life and all things included in it. Through knowledge of God we gain a perspective that is eternal. God is the one true source we can turn to for all our needs, for all that we need to know.

The greatest knowledge you can invest in (the one that will give you true returns) is the knowledge that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again so that you may have eternal life. All that we need to know in order to survive this world can be found in the Bible. In every situation we face, we can find the answers in God's Word because it points us to Him who is the Creator, the Almighty, the Sovereign One. Some of Scripture we may not like, because it requires us to give up our pride or lustful pleasures. However, if we are willing to submit today to Him thus loving Him than we will receive our rewards in Heaven.

Benjamin Franklin has been considered one of the greatest thinkers of all times, and yet his statement falls short of truth, because he didn't acknowledge where perfect knowledge must originate. Praise God we do not have to rely on mankind to find knowledge. We can turn to the One who created it.

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation....Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." Psalm 119:99,104

Friday, April 27, 2012

Furs: Trading and Bartering

By: Susan F. Craft

Early American trappers, frontiersmen, and Native Americans traded the fur of many animals -- buffalo, bears, coyotes, wolves, mink, and rabbits, but mostly deer and beaver -- for the goods they needed.
                          Deerskins were used to produce buckskin, as well as a chamois like 
                                   leather, used for making gloves, moccasins, and bookbinding.
From about 1709 to 1720 a plague infected European cattle herds, and half of France’s cattle herds died. The plague spread throughout Europe, and, as a result, England banned all imports of cattle and cattle hides from Europe. This caused major shortages in the English leather trade, causing an increased demand by England for colonial deer hide. The two major ports for deer hides were Charlestown, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia.
In the early 1700s, The Cherokee mainly traded their deerskins to the French and Spanish, and the Shawnee traded deerskins with the English colonies to the north and east.
By 1750, deer were becoming harder to find in the Cherokee territory. So large was the scale of the trade that deer became nearly extinct in the southeast.
How big was the trade in deerskins? In his book, A History of Appalachia, Richard B. Drake states that, between 1699 and 1715 about 54,000 deerskins were shipped from Charlestown, S.C. annually. Between 1739-1761 which was the height of this deerskin trade, an estimated 1,250,000 deer were killed to supply the leather trade.  The book, An Environmental History of The Southern Appalachians, states that from 1739 to 1761, Charlestown S.C. records show exports of 5,239,350 pounds of deerskins, and between 1755 and 1772, 2.5 million pounds of deerskins were shipped from Savannah, Georgia.
The transactions at the trading post were simple, but always open to negotiation. The tribes and frontiersmen brought in the furs that they hunted and trapped over the winter months. (Animal furs in the winter were superior to those obtained during the summer months because they were thicker and smoother). The trading post owner would determine the quality of the furs and give each fur a buck value. A high-quality deerskin was equal to one buckskin. It would take two doe skins or two inferior skins to equal one buckskin. Six high quality beaver pelts equaled one buckskin and twelve high quality rabbit pelts were equal to one buckskin.  Goods available at the trading post were also given a buck value.
                      Beaver furs resisted water and were used for men’s hats. A high quality skin 
                             weighed almost two pounds and was priced between four and six dollars.
Here’s an actual list of items, each followed by the number of buckskins or doe needed for bartering. Each doe skin was not to weigh under 1 pound, and each buckskin needed to weigh at least 1 ¾ pounds.
A white Blanket; 5 buckskins or 10 doe.
A Blanket blue, Duffils; 3 or 6 buckskins
A Gun; 10 or 20
A Pistol; 5 or 10
A Gun Lock; 4 or 8
4 Measures of Powder; 1 or 2
60 Bullets; 1 or 2 
A white Shirt; 2 or 4
A Knife; 2 or 4
Flints;   1
3 Yards Cadiz;   1 or 3
1 Yard of Strouds (cheap kind of cloth made from woolen rags; 5
1 Yard of Playnes (all wool clothing); 1 
Gartering;   1
A broad Hoe; 3 or 6
A narrow Hoe; 2 or 4
A falling Axe; 2 or 4
A large Hatchet;   3
A small Hatchet; 1 or 2
A brass Kettle; per lb. 1 or 2
2 Yards brass Wire;   1
A Looking Glass; 1 or 2
A Hat; 2 or 4
A leather Belt; 1 or 2
1 Dozen of Buttons;   1
Large Beads; 1    

Beaver skins were known as "plews."  Freshly caught beaver were skinned and "hooped" on willow branches to dry, taken off the hoops, and folded in half. Then they were pressed into pack that weighed 80 to 100 pounds for transport.

Some trappers compiled a variety of furs called a standard pack, usually made up of ten buffalo robes, fourteen bear, sixty otter, eighty beaver, eighty raccoon, one hundred and twenty foxes, or six hundred muskrat skins.
A trapper's camp, curtesy of the Museum of the Mountain Men, Pinedale, WY

A single Native American hunter would have exchanged hundreds of skins with a single American or European trader for trinkets or tools. The amount of furs a single Native American might have traded on average would equal up to $15,000 (modern price market) and they would have exchanged this for roughly $7000 in trade goods. Alcohol and firearms were the two most sought after items by Native Americans in exchange for their furs.
How a Buck became a Dollar:
As the United States grew as a nation and the forts containing the trading posts became villages and towns, the buckskin was replaced by the dollar as the main currency. The word buck was still used as a name for the currency, but it was no longer the buckskin but the United States dollar that bore the name. It continues to be called a buck to this day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Old World Romance...Posy Rings

I've always been enamored with old world romance, courting customs, and such. In the current book I'm writing, my hero gives my heroine a posy ring. I'd heard of these rings but for some reason their history and poignancy didn't stick till I found that they fit well in this particular story. 

Currently, posy rings from the 16th-18th century are going for thousands of dollars at auction. I'd love to have one but they're a bit out of my budget! Fire-gilded posy rings are particularly valuable. Fire-gilding is an ancient technique involving gold being melded to metal at high heat, thus resulting in unequaled color and durability.

Rings like these were usually worn on a thumb before the wedding and switched to the traditional third finger upon marriage. 

Early rings were often engraved in French or Latin on the outside. Later they were engraved in English on the inside. Here are some poignant, posy phrases:


I won't tell you what is inscribed in the posy ring given by my hero. Here's hoping you'll read the book;)

Do you have heirloom jewelry that is especially meaningful to you? Would you like a posy ring? If so, what would it say?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Review by Faye Oygard of Jennifer Hudson Taylor's New Garden's Hope

Guest Review by Faye Oygard
Novella review
New Garden's Hope
 by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

New Garden's Hope is a love story set against the the backdrop of a young America. When Josiah Wall asks his intended, Ruth Payne, to postpone their wedding for the second time, she refuses and instead breaks off the engagement. Josiah has other commitments, but he doesn't want to lose Ruth over them. Ruth doesn't understand how he could even ask to reset the date of their wedding, and for the second time no-less!

Will Josiah be able to prove where his love lies, and win Ruth back before it's too late?

It may be short in length but don't let that fool you! New Garden's Hope is a well written story with well developed relationships, and characters. I think what really made me like it so much was how it wasn't like they were building a brand new relationship, but repairing a solid, and somewhat broken one.

Another fun bit was the setting and the main characters being Quakers.And it was a nice change from all the Amish fiction that I like to read, and it was fun to be reminded some of the great political figures in our past such as James Madison a very prominent face in the forming of our great nation.

Overall, this story was a sweet romance, where I also learned and was reminded of a great time in America's history. I think that my favorite character was Josiah, because he saw the the importance of
being involved in things that could change the country, yet he also knew when other things were more important. New Garden's Hope is a lovely story with its historical setting woven into the backround with
a skilled hand. A story that I would highly recommend :)

With thanks to the publisher, Barbour, who gave me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Friday, April 20, 2012


(The third in a series of George Washington’s childhood homes)
In 1738, when George Washington was six years old, Augustus Washington moved his growing second family of five children about forty miles southwest of Mount Vernon to a 260 acre tract of land that would later be known as Ferry Farm. This property, on the north bank of the Rappahannock River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, was situated directly across the river from Fredericksburg, which gave George his first experience of living near a city.
Young Washington received his six to eight years of formal education in Fredericksburg, and with a home tutor. He received additional education from his father and his half-brother, Lawrence. Throughout his life he would be sensitive about his lack of the more formal education his father and half brother’s received in England. Along with his many farm duties at Ferry Farm, George studied arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, geography, climatology, astronomy, history, and surveying. He wrote extensively, and he copied The Rules of Civility, a guide to gentlemanly behavior in polite society, which played a meaningful role in developing his character.
In 1743, when George was eleven years old, his father “Gus” Washington died. Mary, a stern and demanding woman required much of George even into his adulthood. As the eldest son, he would inherit Ferry Farm when he turned twenty-one, though his mother would manage the farm until that time. Lawrence inherited the Hunting Creek property, which he renamed Mount Vernon, and married Anne Fairfax that same year. George maintained a close relationship with Lawrence and visited Mount Vernon often. By 1746 George was already six feet tall and eager to embark on a career. Lawrence offered to assist him in getting an appointment as a midshipman with the Royal Navy, but due to his mother objections, the plan fell through.

Ferry Farm Surveying House
George Washington developed an interest and skill in surveying by the time he was fifteen. In 1748, armed with his father’s surveying tools, sixteen year old Washington joined Lord Fairfax’s surveying expedition to northwest Virginia. By 1749 George was spending more time surveying and at Mount Vernon and less time at Ferry Farm. Mary Ball Washington and George’s younger siblings continued to farm and live at Ferry Farm.

In 1772 Mary moved to Fredericksburg to live closer her only living daughter, Betty. In 1774 Ferry Farm was sold to Dr. Hugh Mercer, whose plans to live there changed with the advent of the Revolutionary War which later took his life. After his death, Ferry Farm changed hands several times. The property was even used as a staging ground and winter camp for the Union Army during the Civil War. In the early twentieth century, plans were made to purchase a portion of the original property to preserve it as a memorial to our first President. Eventually it was designated a National Historical Landmark.

Ferry Farm is open to the public for a fee.  While the original home is no longer there, the site can be seen where the original Washington home was situated.   

Below is my rendition of a map with the locations of the three boyhood homes of George Washington.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Details of Colonial Saw Mills

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

For those of us writing colonial historical books, at some point we may need to know more than just a few basic details about the saw mills and lumber mills during that time. It was a huge industry, the backbone of building up our great country, and provided many jobs, thereby, spurring the colonial economy. 

By 1706 there were 70 saw mills operating in the colonies. Large saws were used to cut wood into planks, boards, and veneers. Smaller saws were used to cut boards into smaller pieces, joints, and decorative objects.

Types of Large Saws

Single Sash - It was pulled downward by a waterwheel and upward by an elastic pole. Often, a waterwheel pulled the saw both up and down.

Parallel Saws or Gangs - Set in one frame so it can cut several boards simultaneously.

Muley Saws - Had a lighter guiding mechanism for cutting wood.

Types of Small Saws

Ripsaws and Handsaws - Simple small blades with a handle that allowed men to cut through smaller pieces of wood by hand and mostly used for general purposes.

Cross-Cut and Pit Saws - Two-man saws that contained handles on each end for both men to operate tugging the saw back and forth through the wood. Logs were cut to length with these saws.

Backsaws - Contains a thin metal blade that is designed to make very fine cuts. A thick iron or brass strip fit on the back of the saw to make it more sturdy since the blade was so thin.

Compass Saws - Contained narrow, pointed blades to saw holes in the middle of wood.

Framed Saws - Blades were mounted inside wood. 

Felloe Saws - Were used by Wheelwrights and furniture makers to create curves in the wheels and the arms and legs of chairs and wood furniture.

Note: Several images of these saws are located at the Colonial Williamsburg link at the bottom of this page.

Before the Industrial Revolution, Oliver Evans developed a wood-burning, high-pressure steam engine that began to appear in saw mills by 1810. These engines allowed lumber to be manufactured without water power.

Since most saw mills operated by water wheel power, most were located on rivers or lakes. While some logs were shipped on long wagons by the load, many were simply thrown in the river and floated down stream to their destination. A logger's worst nightmare would be a log jam in the river. Many died trying to unjam the logs.


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Deer Run Series - Review by Lisa Norato

The Road to Deer Run, Book One

by Elaine Cooper
Publisher: iUniverse

Mary Thomsen is a young Colonial woman who has lost a beloved brother to the Revolutionary War. Daniel Lowe is a British soldier fighting for the enemy. When Mary finds Daniel seriously wounded in the woodlands by her home, she is presented with an awesome decision. There are so many reasons why she should not help this man, the most pressing being the danger she would be placing herself, her mother and her sister in—three women left to fend for themselves, because all their menfolk are away at war. What would happen to them if they were caught harboring an enemy soldier? But Christ’s message of the good Samaritan burns in Mary’s heart. She does help Daniel and so begins their love story amongst great danger.

The Road to Deer Run was inspired by the true account of Elaine’s fourth great grandfather who fought for England in Burgoyne’s army. When the redcoats surrendered at Saratoga, he escaped while on his way to prison then met and married her American grandmother.

I loved every moment of this novel. It wrenched my heart and brought tears to my eyes with its sadness, poignancy and warmth. It is a story of romantic and family love and of overcoming adversity through faith. I also really enjoyed the chapter headings which hit to the heart of the messages within.

The Promise of Deer Run, Book Two
It was such a pleasure for me to return once again to Deer Run! It’s been seven years since the Revolutionary War ended, and now it is Sarah Thomsen’s turn (little sister of heroine Mary from Book One) to experience the joys and heartaches of love. Nathaniel Stern is a lonely war veteran who suffers deep, emotional battle scars as he long awaits his father’s return from war and mourns the loss of his younger brother.

Sarah and Nathaniel have eyes only for each other. Their sweet and tender courtship will stir feelings of young love in even the oldest of readers. When a spurned suitor slanders Nathaniel with an unconfirmed story, Sarah falls victim to distrust and the couple are torn apart. Nathaniel is deeply wounded by Sarah’s lack of faith in him, and it will be a long road to forgiveness. Meanwhile, Mary’s and Daniel’s story continues. Their family has grown immensely and continues to grow, as does the family of their brother, James Thomsen. Mary’s and Sarah’s midwife mother is now re-married and continuing her practice, but she has her own troubles at home with a sickly husband. Still, the mysterious disappearance of Nathaniel’s father haunts him with no explanation as to what could have happen to the man.
Along the way, there are little treasures of subplots—like the miracle of the woven flax and the birth compared to that of the Christ child. The Promise of Deer Run was a joy to read and a book historical fans and Christian readers dare not miss!

Reviewed by Lisa Norato (www.lisanorato.com) Lisa is a member of Colonial American Christian Writers.  This is her first guest post for Colonial Quills.

Elaine accepting first place for the 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival Award in the Romance Category.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

From the early twentieth century there has been an effort advanced to suggest that America’s founding fathers were, for the most part, Deists. Deism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality.” Deists believe that God created the universe but chose to let it run its own course, and is not involved in our lives in any personal way. In spite of the efforts to re-write history, most of America’s founding fathers were evangelical Christians, not Deists. One needs only to read their writings as well as the writings of those who knew them to ascertain their genuine Christian faith.
George Washington was a devout Christian from his childhood throughout his life. He was raised in the Anglican Church, “The Church of England”. It wasn’t until the 1780’s that the Protestant Episcopal Church was formed in the colonies, when it was forced to separate from the Church of England. From that time until his death he attended the Episcopal church regularly, and served as a vestryman on various occasions. Washington also respected other Christian denominations and frequently visited their churches.
With the passing of time and the advancement of technology, we now have access to many more volumes of George Washington’s writings, as well as those of people who knew him very well. These writings overwhelmingly acknowledge his awareness of how God profoundly directed, protected, and blessed him throughout his life. Many of the people closest to him, including his adopted daughter Nelly, who lived with him until 1799, the year of her marriage and his death tell of his Christian faith. Robert Lewis, his nephew and private secretary during the early years of his presidency, was also well aware of  and wrote of his personal habits of honoring the Sabbath, daily Bible reading, and prayer.

The Prayer at Valley Forge
Arnold Friberg
Arnold Friberg, an artist, is probably best known for his painting of George Washington at Valley Forge. It depicts George Washington beside his horse on his knees in prayer at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778.

Some have questioned the authenticity of the story by the Quaker, and Senator from Pennsylvania, Isaac Potts regarding this event. However the Rev. Nathaniel Snowden, an ordained Presbyterian minister, knew Isaac Potts and heard about the occasion from him when he came upon General Washington, alone praying. 

"In that woods . . ., I heard a plaintive sound as, of a man at prayer . . . . to my astonishment I saw the great George Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He was at Prayer to the God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his Divine aid, as it was ye Crisis, and the cause of the country, of humanity and of the world. 'Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying.'"

               From the "Diary and Remembrances" of the Rev. Nathaniel Snowden

George Washington selected the Epitaph for his tombstone; it included no statement about his service as a General or as President. He chose John 11: 25, 26:

                              “I am the Resurection and the Life; sayeth the Lord. 
                   He that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live. 
                      And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Crew of a Merchantman in Colonial Times!

While information on the crew of a military vessel such as a Royal Navy Frigate is easy to find, how about the crew manning a regular merchant ship? Ofttimes this information gets lost and muddled among so many different types of ships sailing under the flag of so many different countries.  But while there were differences, I hope to give a general account of the crew of a normal Merchantman.

The Ship Master - Or simply Master or Captain as he was addressed while at sea. His responsibilities included: Outfitting, supplying and manning the vessel before a voyage as well as compliance with all the paperwork, ordinances and regulations demanded by the port authority  Once at sail, his job was to get the vessel safely out of the harbor, but rarely, aside from Sunday services, which he officiated, did he have much contact with the crew. He navigated the ship, made all decisions and was in complete power over the voyage, including dolling out punishments.

First mate - Received orders from the captain and transmitted them to the crew. He was in charge of the setting and lowering of sails, all aspect of the rigging, and ship repairs. He was often hired directly by the owner of the vessel and could not be removed by the captain. He was responsible for keeping an accurate log book and commanded the larboard watch.

The Second mate - commander of the starboard watch and in the absence of the first mate or captain, he commanded the entire vessel. His duties included the maintenance and care of all the spare rigging, blocks, and sails as well as the tools used to work on the rigging. Unlike the captain or the first mate, the second mate actually got his hands dirty and worked alongside the crew.

The Third Mate - only found on large vessels and chosen by the captain from among the most senior able seaman. In some cases, they were designated as bosuns, which were petty officers who were in charge of the crew.

Idlers: - specialized workmen who did not do the work of seaman or stand watch. Idlers commonly included the carpenter, the sailmaker, and the cook. Larger vessels might have a cooper, steward, armorer and other tradesmen.  On smaller vessels, an idler could sign on as both an able bodied seaman and a carpenter, etc..   Cooks were never seamen and were usually older sailors with missing limbs unable to do normal seamen tasks. 

Able seamen - knowledge of steering, reefing, furling and also able to cut and fit new rigging. These were also the topmen who were expected to go to the end of the yards or above the tops. No man could "pass as an able seaman in a square-rigged vessel who could not make a long and short splice in a large rope, fit a block strap, pass seizings to lower rigging, and make the ordinary knots, in a fair, workmanlike manner.'

Ordinary seamen - not quite at the level of an able seaman, the ordinary seaman was expected to 'hand, reef, and steer under normal weather conditions'. They did not have to be a competent helmsman but should be acquainted with all the running and standing rigging of the ship

Green hands - young boys who were learning to be sailors and who were given all the unpleasant simple tasks on board such as sweep the decks, hold a log-reel, coil a rope, slush or scrub a mast, touch up a bit of tar, or help in the galley. But they also learned important skills. They stood watch and went aloft to adjust sails.

Within the Able and Ordinary Seamen existed these titles
Sheet anchor men - worked on the forecastle handling the anchors, jibs and foreyards.
After-gang - working the aft deck these men dealt primarily with the mainsail and spanker and worked on the lines and haliyards
Waisters - worked in the ship's waist.. the center deck below the top deck
Holders - Worked in the hold

Clear as the bilge in the hold?  It thought so!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Nighty-night, Sleep Tight"

“Nighty-night, sleep tight.” Why, just last night, I said those very words to my triplet grandchildren.

 It seemed as natural as saying “I love you.”

 All these years of hearing it and saying it to my progeny, and I never wondered about its origin.

 There are a few masters of the English language that claim that “tight” in colonial days meant “soundly,” as in “sleep well.” But many lean towards the explanation that sleeping tight was a reference to the rope sling beneath one’s mattress during colonial times. If the ropes were not “tight,” that sagging night’s sleep would be a bit less restful!
While I would not deign to describe myself as a language expert, Noah Webster was quite adept at English usage. In his 1828 dictionary, not one definition of “tight” refers to soundly or well; but it does define “tight” as “Hardy; this is the taught of seamen applied to a rope stretched.” So let us assume that a good, sound night’s rest meant having the ropes under the mattress stretched well.

These suspended straps were occasionally made from leather, but rope appeared to be more commonly used.

 Ropes ran along the edges of the bed and were either wrapped around pegs or slung through holes in the wood frame. How did Colonial Americans tighten those sagging strands? They used a rope wrench or “key,” which was a wood tool used to grab and twist the rope.
It usually took men or strong boys to do this labor-intensive job. They would twist the handles of this large key, which stretched and pulled the twine into submission. It sometimes required two workers—but it was worth it to get a good night’s sleep.

 Colonial comfort for the wee hours of the night then involved a mattress of sorts. These were usually made from rough ticking material or linen, then stuffed with a variety of fillers, from straw to wool to horsehair. But feather-filled beds, with their softness and warmth, were the best of all.

 An interesting video from a BBC program called “Tales of the Green Valley” shows the stuffing of an old mattress. Fun stuff! (Excuse the pun)


 Many bedrooms in Colonial America were not heated, so warmth became a decidedly important issue.
From "Home and Child Life in Colonial Days" by Shirley Glubok it reads:

  “President John Adams so dreaded the bleak New England winter and the ill-warmed houses that he longed to sleep like a dormouse every year, from autumn to spring. In the Southern colonies, during the fewer cold days of the winter months, the temperature was not so low, but the houses were more open and lightly built than in the North. They were without cellars and had fewer fireplaces; hence the discomfort from the cold was as great. 

 The first chilling entrance into the ice-cold bed of a winter bedroom was sometimes mitigated by heating the inner sheets with a warming pan. This usually hung by the side of the kitchen fireplace, and when used was filled with hot coals, thrust within the bed, and constantly and rapidly moved back and forth to keep from scorching the bed linen. 

 The warming pan was a circular metal pan about a foot in diameter, four or five inches deep, with a long wooden handle and a perforated metal cover, usually of copper or brass, which was kept highly polished and formed, as it hung on the wall, one of the cheerful kitchen discs to reflect light of the glowing fire.”

Colonial American homes were often cozy—that is, quite small. Beds took up considerable space. One solution was the “press bed,” which stood on its end during the day, and was pulled down for sleeping at night. Quite clever!
Rope beds were used from around 1600 until the late 1800’s when coil spring mattresses became popular.

 My favorite story of Colonial beds comes from my 97-year-old mother, who recently recalled visiting our ancestors’ farm in Massachusetts when she was very young. She remembered two things from her visit: It was the first time she had ever tasted blueberries, and it was the first time she had ever slept on a feather-filled mattress. She said it enveloped her with a softness unlike any other. It was such a sweet memory for her—and a sweet conversation for me to treasure as I watch her reminiscences begin to fade into history.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Revolutionary War Era Books for Children

Here’s a list for those of you looking for Revolutionary War era books for your children:

The Fighting Ground (Grades 4-7)
13-year-old Jonathan goes off to fight in the Revolutionary War and discovers the real war is being fought within himself.

Night Journeys (Grades 4-7)
In the spring of 1768, 12-year-old Peter, living with his Quaker guardian near the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border, joins in the search for two runaway indentured servants.

The Year of the Hangman (Grades 8-10)
Gary Blackwood
Kidnapped from England and taken to the American colonies, a 15-year-old boy becomes part of a story that asks what would have happened if the British had defeated the Americans in 1777.

Attack of the Turtle: a Novel (Grades 4-6)
Drew Carlson
During the Revolutionary War, 14-year-old Nathan joins forces with his older cousin, the inventor David Bushnell, to secretly build the first submarine used in naval warfare.
My Brother Sam Is Dead
My Brother Sam is Dead (Grades 7-9)
James Lincoln Collier
A classic that recounts the tragedy that strikes the Meeker family during the Revolution when one son joins the rebel forces while his family tries to stay neutral in a Tory town. (Note: This book is available on audio.)

The Journal of William Thomas Emerson, a Revolutionary War Patriot (Grades 4-8)
Barry Dennenberg
As tensions escalate in the period before the Revolutionary War, a boy surrounded by political rumblings and violence becomes a spy for the rebel colonists. (Dear America/My Name is America)

Betsy Zane, The Rose of Fort Henry (Grades 5-8)
Lynda Durrant
In 1781, 12-year-old Elizabeth Zane, great-great-aunt of novelist Zane Grey, leaves Philadelphia to return to her brothers’ homestead near Fort Henry in what is now West Virginia, where she plays an important role in the final battle of the American Revolution.

Give Me Liberty (Grades 7-9)
Laura Elliott
13-year-old Nathaniel, an indentured servant in colonial Virginia, and his master must decide whether or not to join in the fight for liberty as the American Revolution erupts.

Johnny Tremain: A Novel for Old and Young (Grades 4-6)
Esther Forbes
After injuring his hand, a silversmith’s apprentice in Boston becomes a messenger for the Sons of Liberty in the days before the American Revolution.

Hope’s Crossing (Grades 5-8)
Joan Goodman
During the Revolutionary War, 13-year-old Hope finds herself enslaved in a Tory household on Long Island and uses all her resources to escape and make it home.

The Winter of Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1777 (Grades 5-8)
Kristiana Gregory
During the winter of 1777-1778, 11-year-old Abigail Jane Stewart witnesses George Washington readying his young soldiers for battle on the frozen fields of Valley Forge.

William Lavender (2005)
The 14-year-old orphaned daughter of an English earl arrives in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1776 and finds her family divided over the question of American independence. 

The Keeping Room (Grades 4-6)
Anna Myers
Left in charge when his father leaves their South Carolina home to fight in the Revolutionary War, 13-year-old Joey finds himself tested when General Cornwallis comes to town and chooses their home as his headquarters.

Nancy’s Story, 1765 (Grades 4-6)
Joan Lowery Nixon
In 1765, just after the passage of the Stamp Act, the colonies are in turmoil, and Nancy herself is experiencing relationship issues with her stepmother.

Guns for General Washington: A Story of the American Revolution (Grades 4-7)
Seymour Reit
Frustrated with life under siege in George Washington’s army, 19-year-old Will Knox and his brother Colonel Henry Knox undertake the task of moving 183 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston in the dead of winter.

Ann Rinaldi (2004)
14-year-old Rachel Marsh, an indentured servant in the Boston household of John and Abigail Adams, is caught up in the colonists’ unrest that eventually escalates into the massacre of March 5, 1770.

Finishing Becca: A Story about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold (Grades 7-up)
Ann Rinaldi
14-year-old Becca takes a position as a maid in a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker home and witnesses the events that lead to General Benedict Arnold’s betrayal of the American forces during the Revolutionary War.

Or Give Me Death (Grades 7-9)
Ann Rinaldi
While their father is away advocating independence for the American colonies, the children of Patrick Henry try to raise themselves, manage the family plantation, and care for their mentally ill mother.

Ann Rinaldi
When unrest spreads at the Revolutionary War camp in Morristown, New Jersey, under the command of General Anthony Wayne, a young woman cleverly hides her horse from the mutinous soldiers who have need of it.

An Eye for an Eye: A Story Of The Revolutionary War (Grades 5-9)
Peter Roop
14-year-old Samantha, who should be wearing dresses, knows that in britches she can out-hunt her twin and out-sail her older brother. Can she use those skills when the American Revolution begins?

Young George Washington: The Making of a Hero (Grades 6-8)
John Rosenburg
The early life of the Virginia farmer’s son who would become a Revolutionary War leader and the first President of the United States.

Love Thy Neighbor: The Tory Diary of Prudence Emerson, Green Marsh, Massachusetts, 1774 (Grades 4-7)
Ann Turner
The American Revolution is brought to life through the eyes of Prudence Emerson, who tells this story from the rarely heard perspective of a Tory. (Dear America)

Kings Mountain (Grades 5-7)
G. Clifton Wisler
14-year-old Frank leaves his mountain home in South Carolina to help the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.

I confess that perhaps the hardest times for me to write devotionals are on Christian holidays. I think I must be so profound, because after all, everyone writes about that particular holiday.

So when I prayed about this post, I realized that God had already given me the answer in my personal devotionals, and Patrick Henry, one of my favorite Colonial men, gave me the quote.

This week I have been studying the interpersonal relationships of David in I and II Samuel. Time and again, I saw David sacrifice himself for others, in particular for those who hated him. He mourned at the death of King Saul and his sons. The man had sought to kill David, making David a homeless vagabond, wandering through the wilderness for years. Later, things seem to be going King David's way until his son snatches the kingdom from him. David flees for his life again. And what does he say when he learns Absalom, his son, is dead? "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (II Samuel 18:33b).

David loved enough to desire to die in his wicked son's place.

When the Puritans came to New England they desired a better life for their children and their children's children. Many died for the dream. When the Patriots fought against the British, many knew they would die. They were willing to do so because they believed they were making a better future for those who would live after them. To God be the glory their deaths were not in vain. Americans obtained liberty.

When Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty or give me death!" I wonder if he considered that Christ chose death so that we might have liberty. With an even greater passion than Patrick Henry, Jesus looked across the ages and saw me. He knew the only way to free me from the chains of sin and the penalty of death was to offer Himself in my place. Looking at the chains that bound me and at Death leading me to hell, He in essence said, "I give you liberty through my death."

Jesus looked at the cross with more love and courage than the Patriots--and their courage and love was indeed great. He'd given so much more than they, and they had given much. I am grateful for those men and women's tremendous sacrifice, and I am grateful for the sacrifice of Christ.

Because He died, I have liberty.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Newfangled Tech for Olde Fashioned Whatnot

First of all, I hope everyone is in the midst of a Holy Week and Good Friday of reflection and realization ~ may the Lord shed His light upon you! (Now on with the post.)

I confess it: I'm organizationally challenged. This would come as no surprise to anyone who had stepped foot in my humble abode. And if one were to look at my desk, that piece of furniture which ought to be the center of my professional world, one would find books on historic Annapolis shoved on top of books about the Mafia in Chicago, print-outs on 18th century fashion sharing space with forms from the Board of Education for home schooling. My daughter's school books--same shelf as my prayer journals.

My computer is a bit more organized, with folders for my complete manuscripts, my works-in-progress, my ideas. Folders for research, folders with links and files and notes. But still, images always gave me trouble--they don't always paste well into a document, after all, and who wants to fill up their hard drive with them? Yet they're an incredible inspiration while writing, and are often a huge help to the staff at a publishing house when it comes time for cover design--I in fact just got an email from my editor saying she'd passed the link to the cover designers, and they were glad to have all the images to reference.

And so, when friends turned me on to Pinterest, I slowly got an idea of how this newfangled site could help me with my old-fashioned needs. For those who may not know, Pinterest is an online bulletin board, basically. You can download their app to your computer so that whenever you're on a website and see an image you want to bookmark, you push their "pin it" button and post to one of your bulletin boards. Then, voila! Whenever you need to remember that image, there it is, handily linked back to the site from which you found it.

Now allow me to say now that I don't use Pinterest as a social networking site, though some do--to me, it's a way to gather my visual research and make it available to whomever may be interested in viewing it. And I'm certainly not the first Quiller to put it to such use! I invite everyone to check out Laura Frantz's beautiful boards; they have lovely images of books and things featured in her fabulous stories.

So when I find that perfect gown for my heroine to wear . . . I pin it.

When I find that perfect actor to play my hero . . . I pin it.

When I find an image of how invisible ink looks once developed . . . you guessed it--I pin it. =)

For someone who writes almost exclusively in the past, who gets used to thinking in terms of no electricity, slow communication, and having to redip one's pen every few words, it's sometimes strange to think of how to use technology both old and new to bring my stories to life and make my writing easier.

But I'm having fun with it. And whenever I feel lacking of inspiration, I can now hop over to my Pinterest page and see what inspired me to begin with.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What My Grandmother Taught Me ~ Part 3

During the Great Depression, my grandmother Bess had to feed a family of 12.  She did a lot of canning in those days, and one thing that was stored in many a cellar were apples.

In those days my grandfather would return home with bushel baskets of apples, sacks of potatoes, and other produce in bulk that he would acquire from local farmers outside the boundaries of Washington DC. Grandmother taught me that tough times call for ingenuity.

Since Colonial times in America, apples have been stored over the winter months in cold cellars. In this final post on recipes from my novel 'Surrender the Wind', I have a delicious stewed apple recipe for you from my novel Surrender the Wind.

Claire in the story is a servant at our hero's estate, Ten Width Manor. Here is a snippet.

The path widened the closer Claire got to Ten Width. She stopped, looked down the hill, and caught her breath. There stood the house, the brick washed with dew and morning light as if an ornament chiseled from an artist’s hand. 
With her sleeve, she wiped the sweat from off her face and moved on.
          She rushed down the hilly path. The neigh of a horse caused her to glance up a few yards ahead where a rider pulled rein. His tall, black horse shook its wiry mane and looked at her with wild yellow eyes.

Claire's Stewed Apples

6-7 firm apples, 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, and 1 cup of sugar, 1 tbs. cinnamon, 1/2 cup water. Peel, core, and slice apples into chunks. Sprinkle with sugar. Melt butter in a skillet on low heat. Add the apples and cinnamon. Cook until tender, and serve after a hardy meal. . .but not to such odious men such as Constable Latterbuck who insulted my apples, even though he thoroughly enjoyed my seared beef, bread, and potatoes.
Claire ~ Ten Width Manor

Please visit my website to read more about Surrender the Wind, and the new inspirational historical series, Daughters of the Potomac. Book 1, 'Before the Scarlet Dawn' was released February 1, 2012 - the genre is historical drama.

Cokesbury Bookstore is offering Surrender the Wind at 70% off the cover price for only $4.00! If you need a gift for the book lover on your list that enjoys inspirational romances, this is the book you want for them. And if you would like a large bookmark to go with your book, just send me an email ( rpkg@comcast.net ) with your request and address and I'll get it in the mail to you right away.