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

Monday, December 11, 2017

This is my last month bringing you the theme of “this month in colonial (and Federal) history.” Next month I have the joy and privilege of starting posts relevant to my upcoming release, The Counterfeit Tory in CQ’s long-awaited all-colonial novella collection, The Backcountry Bride (May 2018, Barbour Publishing). So, this month I’m going to do something a little different and add in events specific to the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution, particularly in South Carolina—some of which are featured in my novella, and one of which figures into my first full-length release coming in October.

Washington's Portrait, by Stuart
1 – Spanish garrisons driven out of Portugal in a nationalist revolution that will lead to Portugal’s independence. (1640)

1-19 – Continuation of “the Bloody Scout,” a six-week reign of terror by loyalist officer William “Bloody Bill” Cunningham and his men across the South Carolina backcountry, in retribution for the treatment of family and friends by the patriots. (1780) (This event forms the backdrop of my story The Counterfeit Tory.)

2 - Napoleon Bonaparte crowned Emperor of France. (Because that was an improvement on the French Revolution?) (1804)

3 - Birth of Gilbert Charles Stuart (1755-1828) near Narragansett, Rhode Island. Best known for portraits of George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson.

4 - The Observer, now the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, first published in Britain. (1791)

5 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies in poverty at age 35 in Vienna, Austria. (1791)

5 – Birth of Martin van Buren (1782-1862), the 8th U.S. President and first born a U.S. citizen, in Kinderhook, New York.

7 – Birth of Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) in Bern, Switzerland. Later famous for Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

8 – Birth of Eli Whitney (1765-1825) in Westboro, Massachusetts. Assisted in his invention of the cotton gin by Caty Greene, widow of General Nathanael Greene.

9 – Birth of John Milton (1608-1674) in London.

10 – Birth of Thomas Gallaudet (1787-1851) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Co-founded the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817.

12 – Birth of John Jay (1745-1829) in New York City. Diplomat and the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. With Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, he co-wrote the Federalist Papers.

13 - The Council of Trent, summoned by Pope Paul III, met to discuss doctrinal matters, including the rise of Protestantism. (1545)

13 - Francis Drake departed Plymouth, England, on his voyage around the world. (1577)

13 - New Zealand discovered by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman of the Dutch East India Company. (1642)

13 – Birth of Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) in Dusseldorf. “Best known for his statement made a hundred years before the advent of book-burning Nazis in Germany – ‘Where books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too.’”

14 – The evacuation of the British from Charleston, South Carolina, after occupying the city for more than a year and a half. (1782)

14 - George Washington dies at Mount Vernon. (1799)

15 - The Bill of Rights takes effect following ratification by Virginia. (1791)

16 - Following the defeat of King Charles I in the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, leader of the Parliamentary forces, is declared Lord Protector of England. (1653)

16 - The Boston Tea Party! Colonial activists disguised as Mohawk Indians board British ships anchored in Boston Harbor and dump 342 containers of expensive tea into the water. (1773)

16 – Birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) in Bonn, Germany.

16 – Birth of Jane Austen (1775-1817) in Hampshire, England.

17 – Excommunication of King Henry VIII after he declares himself supreme head of the Church in England. (1538)

17 - The Continental Army, led by General George Washington, settles in for the winter at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. (1777)

Poor Richard's Almanac
19 - Benjamin Franklin first published Poor Richard's Almanac containing weather predictions, humor, proverbs and epigrams, eventually selling nearly 10,000 copies per year. (1732)

19 – Birth of William Perry (1790-1855) in Bath, England. Famous for his Arctic expeditions and three attempts to find a Northwest Passage.

20 - The Virginia Company expedition to America began as three small ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, departed London under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. (1606)

20 - Czar Peter the Great changes the Russian New Year from September 1 to January 1 as part of his reorganization of the Russian calendar. (1699)

20 – Attack on “Bloody Bill” Cunningham by General Andrew Pickens on the Edisto River, effectively ending “the Bloody Scout.” (1780)

22 – “Following a triumphant journey from New York to Annapolis, Maryland, George Washington, victorious Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolutionary Army, appeared before Congress and voluntarily resigned his commission.” (1783)

24 - Franz Joseph Gruber composed “Silent Night.” (1818)

24 – Birth of Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) on a plantation in Byberry, Pennsylvania. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, doctor, and humanitarian, whose writings on mental illness earned him the title “Father of Psychiatry.”

24 – Birth of Christopher "Kit" Carson (1809-1868) in Madison County, Kentucky.

25 - George Washington takes 2,400 of his men across the Delaware River for a surprise raid on 1,500 Hessians (German mercenaries) at Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessians surrendered after an hour, with nearly 1,000 taken prisoner by Washington, who suffered only six wounded. The victory provided a much-needed boost to American morale. (1776) (This incident figures into the backstory of my heroine’s father in The Cumberland Bride, releasing October 2018 from Barbour.)

25 – Birth of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England.
Overlay of the Louisiana Purchase

27 – Birth of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) in Wurttemberg, Germany. Considered the father of modern astronomy.

29 – Birth of Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), the 17th U.S. President, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Abraham Lincoln's vice president and President upon Lincoln's assassination in 1865.

30 - The Stars and Stripes flag raised over New Orleans as a sign of formal possession of the territory of Louisiana by the United States. (1803)

My thanks to The History Place, Holiday Insights, and the invaluable printed resource of Nothing But Blood and Slaughter: The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas by Patrick O'Kelley.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Please Pass the Sweet Potato

 Being in the middle of the festive season, many of us have or will enjoy sitting down to a delectable dish of sweet potato, whether hidden under marshmallows or baked in a pie crust. Full of vitamins and nutrients, what’s not to love about this vibrant vegetable…unless it is the only thing you have to eat for months on end?

The following is an excerpt from my novel, The Patriot and the Loyalist:

Daniel approached the morning fire, bedroll tucked under his arm.
“Good morning, Sergeant,” Marion greeted from his place near the fire. “Have some breakfast.”
“Thank you.” Daniel took the sweet potato, their staple food the past week, and sat down on the log, letting his bedroll drop behind him. Dawn hugged the horizon, slow to dissipate the haze of blue still draped over the forest. A bird or two announced the day, but most of the men still slept. “What’s our next move?”
Before the Colonel had a chance to answer, Gabe stepped over the log and lowered himself beside Daniel. He wore a big grin, though his eyes remained glazed from lack of sleep. “Poor little lizard.” Gabe chuckled.
Daniel shook his head. Of course the kid had to remind him.
“What lizard?” The elder Marion leaned forward so he could see his nephew on the other side of Daniel.
“Just a little one looking for a warm place to sleep. Nights are getting cold out here. Seems Sergeant Reid isn’t one for sharing, though.” Gabe nudged Daniel with his elbow.
“First of all, it wasn’t that little of a lizard, and second of all, I like sleeping alone.”
“That explains why you’re out here with us,” the lad shot back.
His uncle gave a laugh, and then a censoring look.
Daniel peeled off the blackened surface of his sweet potato, dug out a chunk with the tip of his knife and took a bite of the lukewarm mush, reheated from last night’s dinner. “No, it’s fine. In a lot of ways he’s right.”
Francis Marion of South Carolina is considered by some as the father of modern guerilla warfare. During the years of 1780-1781 and his band were stuck behind British lines, camping in swamps to avoid detection. Their staple food – the sweet potato.


It is said Colonel Marion quite enjoyed his sweet potato, usually baked in their camp fire and eaten with no other utensil than a knife. Not all his men were so enthusiastic about the vegetable, so when meat was available, the colonel often forwent the luxury for the sake of his men. He claimed sweet potato was all he needed. 

Personally, I like sweet potato…but drizzled with butter and brown sugar. How do you like yours?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Quaker Worship: Listening in Silence

Horsham Friends Meeting – Horsham, Pennsylvania

Depending on where you live in the United States, you may know absolutely nothing about the Society of Friends (Quakers) or you may know quite a bit. I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, which has been a stronghold of Quakerism for more than three hundred years. Some of my earliest ancestors on this continent were Mennonites who became Friends, and I still live about five minutes from Horsham Friends Meeting, which they helped found in the early 1700s. While I don't agree with all the tenets of modern Quakerism, I’ve attended Horsham Meeting many times over the years.

The novel I recently finished is a fact-and-fiction narrative that takes place in Horsham, with some of my eighteenth-century Quaker ancestors as characters. Obviously, writing about people who lived almost three hundred years ago requires quite a bit of research on just about everything. However, I found one thing that hasn’t changed much in three centuries: how Friends worship. I’d like to share that with you today.

Before I continue, let me point out that Friends now have two types of worship—“programmed” (similar to Protestant church services, with a pastor who preaches a sermon, singing, etc.) and “unprogrammed” (silent worship). I’ll be describing an unprogrammed meeting since that is how Quakers traditionally worshiped and it is what I’m familiar with.

Upon entering a Friends meeting house, the first thing noticed is generally the simplicity. The aesthetics of many meetings have changed little over hundreds of years. Horsham Meeting has stark white walls and wide-plank wood flooring. Some of the benches were originally used in the previous meeting house, which was torn down when the current (much larger) meeting house was built in 1803. Dark wood stain abounds—on the floor, the benches, the balcony above, and the square pillars and the separators between them—and the scent of wood and varnish (which I’ve come to love) fills the air. The separators are now raised and worshipers can sit anywhere, but years ago men and women each had their own side and the separators provided individual spaces for the Men’s Meeting and Women’s Meeting (the two met separately once a month, either during or after worship, to discuss business).

Meeting for worship begins with silence. Friends General Conference describes well the reasoning behind this: “Quaker worship is based on silent waiting, where we expect to come into the presence of God. In this living silence, we listen for the still, small voice that comes from God through the Inward Light. Worshiping together in silence is a way for a community to be brought together in love and faithfulness."

During the meeting, anyone who feels inspired to speak will stand (or sometimes sit, in the case of elderly members) and say what's on their heart. They may quote Scripture, a poem, or text from a book; describe how the Lord is working in their life; offer a prayer; or speak about something important to them or to Friends as a whole (such as social justice issues). After the message is given, the speaker will sit and the silence again resumes. Other Friends then speak as they are led, changing the subject or building on (or refuting, occasionally) what others have said. And in the rare case that someone's message causes concern for any reason, a "weighty" Friend will stop them with a kind but firm, "Friend, thee has said enough." After about forty-five minutes to an hour, someone (usually an elder) will shake hands with another person, indicating that worship has ended, and everyone then shakes hands with those around them.

In Colonial times, Friends neither sang nor participated in any type of music at any time, but singing and playing musical instruments, as well as other creative arts, are now quite acceptable and encouraged in the Quaker community. I expect that some meetings sing more than others. At Horsham, I remember singing only during Christmas Eve worship. And while meetings generally last less than an hour now, they traditionally could go on for two or three hours (or more). Many meetings now also have what they call First Day School, or Sunday school for children.

While the Mennonite church is my home (sometimes what goes around comes around), I must admit that there is beauty and purpose in silent worship. We live in a busy, noisy world, and I daresay that the devices so popular in our current culture battle to make silence a thing of the past. “God gave us two ears and only one mouth,” an elderly Quaker woman told our meeting years ago. “He speaks with a still, small voice, and how are we to hear Him unless we’re silent?” How, indeed?

If you have any questions about an unprogrammed meeting, I’d be happy to answer them. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving - Before the Football and Shopping

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Not for the turkey, or the football, or the shopping. Definitely not the shopping. But for what it stood for originally. Lest we forget:
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is
the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States
to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then
unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar -- Review by Tina St.Clair Rice

Review by Tina St. Clair Rice
This story is set in 1816 Middletown, Virginia where Lillyanna “Lily” Laughlin lives with her Aunt Brunhilda “Hilda” Gunther and two younger brothers, 14-year-old Jonah and 12-year-old Jed. Since the recent death of her father, Lily now cares for her brothers as well as their small farm and home.  However things soon change when she learns she no longer owns part of the land across from her beloved home.  Her guardian, Silas Everett, sold it without even discussing it with her and her family to a stranger, Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright.  I enjoyed the way Lily and Mac initially meet, although it was rather embarrassing for Lily, and hoped maybe something more than friendship would develop between them.  Unfortunately Lily and her family's troubles were only beginning thanks to a very deceitful and evil man.  Lily and her family quickly became favorite characters.  I admire Lily’s dedication to caring for her family. Not only is she lovely and has a beautiful singing voice, she has a giving heart, strong work ethic, kind spirit and strong faith. Will her new neighbor see all those godly qualities in her?

I felt for Mac and the reason he left his family home and moved to the Shenandoah Valley.  He has had his own troubles in the past but with his friend, John Blake to help, he hopes to make a fresh start in Middletown.  Will his past troubles follow him there?  He soon became another favorite character in this story.  He is physically strong...and very handsome...which he will need in order to work the farm and orchard he just bought, and his honesty and integrity are admirable.

Mac’s friend John, Lily’s two brothers and aunt, along with some of the other secondary characters are just as endearing and bring much to the storyline.  John especially, who is lighthearted and fun and often brings smiles and laughter.  There is one character who I did not like at all, Silas Everett.  He is an evil, conniving man, out for his own selfish wants regardless how he obtains them or who he hurts in the process. 

The author certainly developed the characters in this story well...some I grew to love and one I did not like at all.  The characters experience humor, more than one sweet romance developing, adventure and suspense, deceitfulness and conniving, evil intentions, trust….others and oneself as well as trusting and learning God’s plan for each of them, love and faith. I enjoyed the spiritual aspect of the storyline.  Oh, I love the ending, perfect!

The historical details and descriptions of the Shenandoah Valley are beautifully done and invite the reader to step off the pages into the valley itself. The author has a note in the back of the story explaining the history of Middletown of 1826 which is very informative.  I like that the stories in each of the My Heart Belongs series (10 stories) are based on actual historical locations and plan to read the other 8 that I have not read yet.

~I received an e-book copy via Net Galley (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~

Bio: Tina St.Clair Rice is Colonial Quills' Reader/Reviewer. A former nurse, Tina lives in Maryland with her family. Tina enjoys Christian historical fiction and is a beta reader for several authors.