Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Boston Massacre

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

On June 29, 1767, the British Parliament passed a series of taxes in the American colonies to recoup their losses from a costly war with France and to reestablish control over the colonies. These taxes called The Townshend Acts imposed taxes on common products imported to the colonies like paper, glass, and tea. Colonists protested these unfair taxes citing the British were enacting taxation without representation. Boston, Massachusetts led by men like Samuel Adams organized the protests.

British troops arrived in Boston in October, 1768 to squelch the protests and maintain order. The troops were considered invaders and taunted with name calling, spitting, and fighting. Bostonians kept the soldiers from carrying out their duties. Tension mounted. In March, 1770, the British sent more troops. The redcoats, led by Captain Thomas Preston, were met with a crowd chanting “Fire, and be damned”. Captain Preston was unable to disperse the crowds. He ordered the troops not to fire, but they probably didn’t hear and opened fire on the crowd killing five men.

Captain Preston was tried eight months later for murder in a Boston courtroom. He was defended by revolutionaries John Adams and Robert Auchmuty and acquitted. One reason he was acquitted was because of a deathbed account of one of the witnesses that the soldiers were acting in self-defense. Eight soldiers were also tried. Six were acquitted. Two were found guilty of manslaughter because of overwhelming proof that they fired into the crowd. They were branded on their thumbs with the letter M and released to return to their units.

The Boston public took the verdicts in good order. There were letters expressing outrage in the local newspapers, the work of Sam Adams and other disappointed agitators, but no public demonstrations. This calm reflected the feelings of many that mob action had gotten out of hand and that British soldiers, hated as they were, could not be blamed for defending themselves.

After the massacre, the Townshend Acts were partially repealed and a period of calm remain until the Tea Act of 1773 led to the Boston Tea Party.

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and was a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. Her Novel, Alice’s Notions and her novellas Resurrection of Hope and A Christmas Promise are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park -- Mackinaw City Michigan by Carrie Fancett Pagels

The Mill House at Old Mill Creek in Mackinaw City Michigan

If you're planning your next visit to a place this is not only historic, but beautiful, and you love 18th century destinations, add Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park in Mackinaw City. This is part of the Michigan State Parks, specifically the Historic Mackinac Parks. We purchased a summer pass this past summer so that we'd have admission to multiple locations for research (and enjoyment!) If you've got kids with you, or adventurous adults, they even have zip lines here and hiking trails.

As indicated on the sign above, Robert Campbell built the first sawmill in Michigan here near the Straits of Mackinac and aided the British in supplying lumber to build Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island. There is also a house on the site, representative of the miller's home during this time frame and beyond (look for a future post).

When you arrive at the park, you'll enter via the store. I'd been bringing my heroine Maude around to visit various and sundry places in the area while I was up North all of July. Above is a picture of the fun employees at the store who posed for a picture with her -- wink wink! (The cover of My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring.)

You'll want to find out when their historian will be speaking and take a bench to hear his fascinating discussion of Mill Creek.

After the initial presentation you'll go inside the Mill House. Again, the historian will tell you more history but also demonstrate how the saw works. The blade is really huge, see below!

Below is a brief video clip. Since my great-grandfather and other family members were some of the lumberjacks who cut down some of the great white pines, I cringed a little during this part of his speech!

You'll be instructed to go outside to see how the wheel works. It makes a beautiful sound. 

Also on the property are many plaques which explain types of sawmills and the engineering behind them. Allow plenty of time to read these, and observe the demonstrations at the Water Power Station.
This area of the park explains about the types of wheels and how they work to generate energy to power the sawmills. Below is one of the displays.
Question: Have you visited Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park -- Mackinaw City Michigan? Would you like to? Were you surprised that the miss was operational as early as 1760?

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. is the Administrator of the Colonial Quills blog and author of RT Book Reviews Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude's Mooring. She enjoys history, research, and travel which comes in handy for coming up with her own pictures for many of her blog posts on Colonial Quills. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Georgia's Rev War Villain

By Denise Weimer
 We’ve all seen movies depicting the French and Indian War and the Revolution in America that make us wonder if Hollywood isn’t sensationalizing the violence. When researching the Revolution in the Southern theatre for my novella, Across Three Autumns, which will release in May 2018 as part of Barbour’s BackcountryBrides collection, I found that not only would the Colonial backcountry be the last place we’d want to live, but the heroes and the villains are often hard to tell apart. Case in point: Thomas Brown.

The son of a Yorkshire shipping company owner, Brown settled Brownsborough northeast of Augusta, Georgia, with plans to become a gentleman farmer. But by September 1780 he’s a lieutenant colonel commanding British loyalists who attempt to hold Augusta against militia Colonel Elijah Clarke. Wounded in both thighs, Brown refuses to give up under siege. Upon learning 500 British from South Carolina march to his aid, he (or another lieutenant colonel) orders thirteen prisoners hanged from the porch of the Mackay Trading Post. One biography specifies he requested them hung from the stairway banister so he could watch them die from his bed. The other prisoners are turned over to Indian allies to be tortured. 
Tarleton. No portrait available for Brown.

The siege of Augusta incident sparked a reputation for Thomas Brown almost equal to that of Banastre Tarleton in South Carolina (the controversial inspiration for William Tavington in “The Patriot”).

But let’s rewind to August 2, 1775. Thomas Brown has attended a Sons of Liberty meeting, where he’s refused to sign their Continental Association document. He’s followed home by an angry mob, tied to a tree, partially scalped (and not by Indians), tarred and feathered. A blow to his head fractures his skull and leaves him with lifelong headaches and a dependency on laudanum. A fire lit under his feet claims two of his toes and leaves him with the lifelong nickname “Burntfoot Brown.”

A revenge-bent Brown wants to rally Loyalists in South Carolina, but the governor advises him to wait on the arrival of British troops. Under threat of arrest, Brown flees to Florida, where he plies Governor Patrick Tonyn with his master plan to harass Georgia and South Carolina militia with a company of rangers supported by Indians. He’s commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Florida Rangers in 1776 and proceeds to bring havoc to the backcountry throughout the war.

Who’s the true hero here? The ones who with the courage and resourcefulness of God not only survive the “Hornet’s Nest,” like Jenny White, my heroine in Across Three Autumns … but to find love and offer compassion in the midst of it.

When we examine our villains, we often discover that a villainous act created them. What about you? Do you know of a local Rev War example where one side created its own enemy? Or have you written such a villain into a story? How can a defining moment of trauma bring realism and complexity to a character?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

George Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge

In December 1777 Gen. George Washington brought his troops to encamp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, about twenty miles outside of British occupied Philadelphia. The large stone mill house beside an iron forge on the homestead of Quaker Isaac Potts became headquarters to the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, the "Pentagon" so to speak, and housing for himself, chief aids, officers, and advisers, etc. for the next six months. The house had an attached kitchen, downstairs parlors, bedchambers upstairs, and servants/additional sleeping quarters in the attic. There may have been a log annex beside the house to help accommodate up to the twenty five individuals who supported the General. 

Washington used this hilly country at Valley Forge to his advantage, building defensive lines on the ridges overlooking Philadelphia to the east and nestling the camp against the Schuylkill River to prevent attack from the north. From here he also could protect the outlying regions, including York, where the Continental Congress had fled. The area had abundant fresh water, trees for shelter and firewood, and food and forage from local farms. The move to Valley Forge prevented the British from making any inroads into Pennsylvania’s interior, still heavy with supplies. Washington and his troops remained at Valley Forge until June of 1778 during which time he trained his troops, boosted morale during the harsh conditions that developed, and maintained his status as head of the Continental Army.

Here I am, humbly smoothing my hand over the same wooden railing that George Washington touched many a time as he climbed the stairs to his bedchamber for rest. Or perhaps he simply leaned upon this post as he pondered the fate of our country.

How often did the great general pace this hallway, I wonder. From the door he could view some of the troops small log huts (see photo below), ever mindful of his soldiers. It is said that Gen. Washington would allow soldiers to come in out of the cold and rest on these very stairs.


General Washington's office is set up as it would have been as during his time at Valley Forge.

The photos below show the officer's parlor where they conducted their business.


The iron forge beside the mill house certainly was an advantage to have handy for the army.

To get an idea of what the entire encampment looked like click on this map to enlarge. You will see where Washington's headquarter's is located in the top area and area that inhabited the 11,000 plus troops.

If you'd like to see the general's bedchamber, please visit my post George Washington Slept Here.

Have you ever been to Valley Forge? Is there an historical location that you have been that ever left you awe struck? I really think this one was it for me on many levels. 

New Englander CARLA GADE writes from her home amidst the rustic landscapes of Maine. With eleven books in print she enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla's great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at an historical museum, it's easier to connect with her online at carlagade.blogspot.com.