Tea Party Winners: Vicki Talley McCollum's Never Say Goodbye, A National Park Romance novella goes to: Caryl Kane, Deanne Patterson, Deana Dick, Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners Beverly Duell-Moore and Cindy Pratt, Roseanna White's winners - Betti Mace, Gabrielle Meyer's winners -, Deb Marvin's paperback winner - Rachel Dodson

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Draper Manuscripts

Earlier this month I attended the 35th Fair at New Boston, a huge reenactment held at George Rogers State Park in Springfield, Ohio. A couple of my friends invited me to come, and boy, was I impressed! It looked and felt just like being in a real colonial camp, and in spite of the drizzly day, we had a wonderful time!

One of the suttlers’ tents I stopped by to check out period-correct wares was “Squire Boone’s” establishment, and my eyes were immediately drawn to a display of volume 3 of the Draper Manuscripts. Squire Boone had just acquired the last few copies still available, the only one issued in a new printing in recent years and was selling them for a price I couldn’t resist. This volume covers the Revolution and early Federal periods, just what I need for my American Patriot Series.

In case you didn’t know, the Draper Manuscripts are the holy grail of 18th and early 19th century frontier research, and full volumes can be expensive and hard to find. The alternative is to go to the Wisconsin Historical Society, where they’re held, or to a library that has them in microfilm form. Here’s a basic rundown on this amazing research goldmine.

Lyman Copeland Draper

Lyman Copeland Draper was born September 4, 1815 in Lockport, New York, and died August 26, 1891. He lived much of his life in Madison, Wisconsin, where he became a librarian and historian, serving as the first corresponding secretary for the state’s Historical Society from 1854 to 1886 and as superintendent of public instruction from 1858 to 1860.

When Draper was a boy, the tales his grandfathers told of their exploits during the Revolution and his father’s experiences in the War of 1812 naturally aroused his interest in the history of those times. By the 1830s he was corresponding with settlers who had moved into what his contemporaries called the Trans-Allegheny West—the area west of the Allegheny Mountains—during the second half of the 18th century. This region includes the Ohio River Valley and parts of the Mississippi River Valley as well as the western Carolinas and Virginia and portions of Georgia and Alabama.

Intending to document the Indian Wars in Ohio territory and write a series of biographies of the settlers, Draper traveled extensively throughout the region to develop a better sense of it. In all, he published 10 volumes of historical notes for the Wisconsin Historical Society and also a volume on the Battle of King’s Mountain (1780) that featured many of the settlers he corresponded with.

The Draper Manuscript Collection

Daniel Boone by Chester Harding, 1820
Draper never finished his biographies, but his manuscript collection provides the largest single first-hand account of the settlement of the Trans-Allegheny region. It includes a welter of materials, from Draper’s research notes, to correspondence, interview notes, extracts from newspapers and other published sources, muster rolls, transcripts of official documents, and much more. Organized into 491 volumes, the materials are divided into 50 series of various lengths by geographic area, subject, and individuals. These cover primarily events in the Trans-Allegheny region between the French and Indian War and the War of 1812—roughly from 1755 to 1815.

The collection contains voluminous military records, including Revolutionary War pension applicant information; descriptions of actions in the West during the Revolution; the War of 1812; Native American conflicts; and western exploration, such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Original documents of the Revolutionary period comprise only a small part, however. The works and papers of a number of notable early Americans are also included, among them Joseph Brant, Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, John Donelson, James Robertson, and Simon Kenton.

Joseph Brant by Gilbert Stuart, 1786
Draper bequeathed his manuscript collection to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The archives are free and open to the public, and the original materials are available to researchers. Major research libraries around the United States also have microfilm of portions of the collection. You’ll find a list of these libraries on the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

All in all, this amazing collection is an invaluable resource for writer like me who focus on the early American frontier. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to own a little piece of it!

Is there a historical period, event, or person you’re particularly drawn to? Or do you own something related to a particular period in history that has a special meaning for you? If so, please share with our readers!
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. She is also an author, editor, and publisher. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with Bob Hostetler, won Foreword Magazine’s 2014 INDYFAB Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, releases April 1, 2017. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Girl who Warned the British are Coming

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Most Americans have heard of Paul Revere's fateful ride to warn "the British are Coming." His ride was made famous in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, but there were other riders who warned about the British during the Revolutionary War. One of these riders was a sixteen-year-old girl named Sybil Ludington.

Sybil, the oldest of twelve children, was born in 1761 in Dutchess County, New York. Her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, was the commander of the militia there. His farm was a receiving center for collecting information from American spies.

In April 1777, Colonel Ludington and the members of his militia were at home taking care of their farms. It was planting season. Around 9:00 in the evening on April 26, a man rode to the farm with news the British were burning down Danbury, 25 miles from Ludington's home. The man's horse was worn out from hard riding, and he didn't know the area. Ludington needed to send a rider to rally the militia, but he couldn't go himself because he needed to stay where he was to help arrange the troops as they arrived.

Sybil was recruited. She rode a total of forty miles in pouring rain to warn the militia and order them to meet at the Ludington farm. Revere only rode twenty, and it wasn't raining.

During Sybil's ride, she faced more danger than getting wet and tired. She rode along narrow roads after dark with only a stick to protect her. British loyalists were in the area, and she risked capture. There were also "skinners" around. Skinners were roadside bandits with no real loyalties either way. One account of her ride had her fighting off a skinner with a stick.

When she arrived back home, 400 men had gathered there. The British had moved to Ridgeville by then, and the militia rode seventeen miles to battle them there. It was a strategic victory for the Americans.

After the ride, Sybil was congratulated by General George Washington. She married a Revolutionary War solder, had a child, and died in 1839. Her hometown was named Lundingtonville in her honor.

She didn't have a poem written about her, but 1961 Sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington created a statue of a statue of Sybil on her horse. In 1976, the US Post Office issued a stamp also commemorating Sybil’s ride. She is a true Revolutionary War heroine.

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, September 13, 2017

George Washington Slept Here

On an old school house in North Carolina.
Image available HERE.

You might have heard the expression "George Washington slept here." In this day in age its hard to imagine having a national hero of such reknown that citizens would take such pride as to publicize that he laid his head to rest in their abodes.  Yet, there are many markers around the original "colonies" that claim this status. You can find a complete list HERE.

The slogan even became a title of a popular romantic comedy in 1942 starring Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan. Ann plays the wife who, unbeknownst to her husband, acquires a dilapidated house in rural Pennsylvania after the couple were forced out of their New York City apartment. The house is believed to have served as a temporary home for Gen. George Washington's during the Revolutionary War. I love classic movies and this, by the way, is a goodie!

On my trip to Pennsylvania this summer, I went to Valley Forge and was able to view a room where George Washington actually slept. Or perhaps tried to during what must have been many restless and agonizing nights. Here is a peek into his bedchamber in his stone house.


~ * ~

George must have grown weary having to travel so. No wonder he longed for his beloved Mount Vernon. This bedchamber was his final resting place.

The bedchamber of George Washington at Mount Vernon.
~ * ~

The setting of my novella, "'Tis the Season," which is featured in my new release, Bygone Christmas Brides, is at a New Jersey resort which Gen. George Washington visited on occasion, much like Saratoga Springs. One of the real Schooley's Mountain Springs resorts also boasted of their esteemed visitor, as I learned in my research. Here's an excerpt:

Folks have been resorting to Schooley’s Mountain since the end of the last century. George Washington even stayed at Heath House,” said Reverend Hendricks. “Mr. Marsh preserves the room that the president slept in at the Alpha, the resort’s oldest building.”

Stephan noted Annaliese, sipping her tea, looked like a fine society lady.

“Is that correct, Annaliese?”

Annaliese nodded. “The furnishings are just as they were while he visited there, from what I understand.”

Best-selling inspirational romance author Carla Gade writes adventures of the heart with historical roots. With ten books in print, she is always imaging more stories and enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. A native New Englander, Carla writes from her home amidst the rustic landscapes of Maine. 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 http://carlagade.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

This Month in Colonial History: September

The Great Fire of London, unknown painter
1:  The death of King Louis XIV of France (the “Sun King”), who had ruled since age 5 and succeeded by his 5-year-old great-grandson, Louis XV.

2:  The Great Fire of London is started. More than 13,000 houses destroyed over 3 days, but supposedly only 6 lives lost. (1666)

2:  “The British ended their use of the Julian calendar, switching instead to the Gregorian calendar, resulting in a major adjustment as Wednesday, September 2, was followed by Thursday, September 14. The correction resulted in rioting by people who felt cheated and demanded the missing eleven days back.” (1752)

2:  The U.S. Treasury is established. (1789)

3:  The Treaty of Paris is signed, formally ending the American Revolution, by John Adams, Ben Franklin, and John Jay. (1783)

4:  Navigator Henry Hudson discovers the island of Manhattan. (1609)

4:  El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, or the Town of the Queen of the Angels, is founded by the Spanish governor of California, later to be known simply as Los Angeles. (1781)

5:  Russian Czar Peter the Great imposes a tax on beards. (1698)

5:  The First Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia. Every colony represented except for Georgia. (1774)

6:  The Mayflower sets sail from Plymouth, England, after many trials and a few false starts, and still more unthinkable trials to come. Still, as leader William Bradford wrote, they “commited them selves to the will of God, and resolved to proseede” to the New World. (1620)

Marquis de Lafayette
6:  The birth of Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) in Chavaniac, France.

7:  The birth of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) in Greenwich Palace, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

8:  First Catholic settlement in America founded at St. Augustine, Florida, by Spaniard Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles. (1565)

9:  The United Colonies becomes the United States. (1776)

13:  New York City becomes the capitol of the United States. (1788)

14:  Composer George Frederick Handel finishes Messiah after 23 straight days of work. (1741)

14:  Napoleon enters a burning Moscow at the beginning of his disastrous Russian campaign. Fewer than 20,000 men of his original 500,000 survive. (1812)

14:  Francis Scott-Key composes the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner.” (1814)

15:  The birth of James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) in Burlington, New Jersey.

16:  “Mexico's break from Spain began in the town of Dolores Hidalgo as Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang his church's bells and exhorted local Indians to ‘recover from the hated Spaniards the land stolen from your forefathers...’” (1810)

16:  “A detachment of Marines under Major Daniel Carmick from the Naval Station at New Orleans, together with an Army detachment, destroyed a pirate stronghold at Barataria, on the Island of Grande Terre, near New Orleans.” (1814)

17:  The U.S. Constitution is unanimously approved by delegates from 12 states. (1787)

18:  Chile declared its independence from Spain after 269 years as a colony. (1810)

22:  Nathan Hale executed for spying. “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” (1776)

22:  Birth of Michael Faraday (1791-1867), discoverer of electromagnetic induction (moving a magnet through a coil of wire produces a current). Thus electric generators are developed.

25:  Sighting of the Pacific Ocean by Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, after crossing the Isthmus of Panama. (1513)

25:  Publication of the first American newspaper. “A single edition of Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick appeared in Boston, Massachusetts. However, British authorities considered the newspaper offensive and ordered its immediate suppression.” (1690)

25:  Ratification of the Bill of Rights. (1789)

26:  Birth of Johnny Appleseed, as John Chapman (1774-1845) in Leominster, Massachusetts.

26:  The U.S. Postal Service was founded. (1789)
Sam Adams, 1772, by Copley

27:  Birth of Samuel Adams (1722-1803) in Boston, Massachusetts.

28:  Duke William of Normandy begins the conquest of England at Pevensey, Sussex. (1066) Relevant to the colonial era because, well, Britain. :-)

28: Discovery of California by Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo upon his arrival at San Diego Bay. (1542)

29:  U.S. Army created by Congress, with just 1,000 enlisted men and officers. (1789)

  My thanks to The History Place, Holiday Insights, Marine Corps University, Smithsonian Magazine, and Wikipedia. :)

Friday, September 8, 2017


Two of our grandchildren (aged nine and seven) visited us recently for a few days. Since we live in the historic triangle of Virginia, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, it seemed like a great opportunity to share with them some our colonial history.

One day I took them to the Jamestown Settlement. The museums and videos there were great as was being able to see the recreation of:
The Susan Constant
the Indian village and how they lived
the settler’s fort and how they lived

the three small ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery 

It was on to Historic Jamestowne, where we saw the actual site of the fort where there is a museum, the church, and many ongoing archeological sites.

Later in the week, we visited the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown where there is a fascinating recreation of a small farm as well as canon and musket demonstration, all very kid-friendly.

We had already visited Colonial Williamsburg and will do that again.

The learning experience was enhanced by:

1.         The Light and the Glory for Young Readers (Discovering God's Plan for America): 1492-1793 by Peter Marshall, David Manuel, and Anna Wilson Fishel         
(This is the first book in a series of history books written for young readers.We read the book through the Jamestown period. The children now have the book to read the rest of it on their own.)


(In the interest of time, I read them this post instead of the entire book The True Story of Pocahontas.)

Video Recording:
            We watched parts of the mini-series George Washington released in the mid-eighties.

Map Studies:
By Aude - self-made, map data from National Atlas
(USGS), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/
            We studied maps of Christopher Columbus’ travels to the new world 

and of the Virginia Company’s travels to Virginia and the founding of Jamestowne.
            We put together a 300 piece jigsaw puzzle of the world.

            We studied how the food was preserved during colonial times. After grinding corn at Jamestown, we came home and made (and ate) cornbread and had some Virginia ham.

When they had to leave, we all agreed we had loads of fun learning about the early days of the colonization of Virginia and some of the last battles of the Revolutionary War.