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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The 18th Century French Court at Versailles

I’m deep in the throes of researching and writing book 6 of my American Patriot Series, Refiner’s Fire, set during the American Revolution. In this installment of the saga my heroine, Elizabeth Howard, has been whisked off to France to keep her safe from British attacks. Meanwhile, my hero, Jonathan Carleton, also known as the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, is far out in Ohio Territory wrestling with the frustrating and tricky politics of negotiating with the Indians to keep them from allying with the British against the Americans.

West facade of Versailles before construction of Hall of Mirrors.
Over the past few months I’ve posted here on Colonial Quills about French King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, who will appear briefly in Refiner’s Fire, and the palace of Versailles, which will be one of the story’s settings. One of the fun things about writing a sweeping historical saga is all the potential for intrigue on so many levels, and it’s so much better when history presents a treasure trove of factual material, as in this case.

Versailles, just as every other royal court, was not only the nation’s power center, but also a hotbed of juicy rumor and delicious gossip. And there was plenty of fuel for the fire since even acts expected to be the most private—including personal bodily functions, dressing and undressing, sexual encounters, and births—were attended by courtiers and nobles who held various levels of rights of access. Naturally, the greater the Rights, the higher the individual’s personal prestige, so they were greatly prized. Louis XIV, France’s Sun King, developed these elaborate ceremonies in the 17th century as a way to control the nobles. By the late 1770s, when Refiner’s Fire is set, power struggles played out on the field of etiquette were rife.

The most important nobles held Major Rights, which included things like being able to sit in the royal presence or to address the king as Monsieur instead of Monseigneur or Majesté, a privilege that indicated the highest intimacy. Lesser nobles and servants such as physicians and valets-de-chambres were granted only Minor Rights—much less impressive, but nevertheless an indication of a degree of royal favor that could be lorded over those less fortunate.

Every day started with the ritual morning dressing, held separately for king and queen, beginning with a petit lever attended only by those who held Major Rights and followed by a grand lever open to those who held Minor Rights. The king and queen could not put on any item of clothing until it had been handed to them by whoever held that particular right. On one occasion, while Marie Antoinette waited stark naked and shivering, not to mention increasingly frustrated and humiliated, ever greater rights-holders kept entering the chamber, which meant that the article she was waiting for first had to be handed from the person in possession of it to the one who outranked her. One presumes that by the time the grand lever began the king and queen at least had their underclothes on! The ritual undressing, the coucher, followed in the evening with the same formalities as the monarchs were put to bed with the assistance of the highest ranking members of the nobility.

Portrait of Marie Antoinette
by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1778
There was also a regular public dinner called the grand couvert, which pretty much anyone could attend to watch the royals eat. They did have to meet minimum standards for dress, such as a sword and hat for the men. If one came unprepared, however, the proper equipment was available for rent at Versailles’ gates. Surprisingly, considering the formality that reigned at the palace, the service at meals was usually haphazard, with special dishes for the royals sometimes going astray, only to be enjoyed by one of the servants later.

At court ladies were expected to wear the cumbersome court dress that featured extremely wide hoops and a long train to display the expensive fabric it was made of. At right is an example worn by Marie Antoinette. Men’s dress was no less ornate. Both men and women had to have their hair powdered, of course. First pomatum was applied to the hair, then an enormous cape was draped over one’s clothing and powder was blown onto the hair. For ladies wool, tow, pads, and wire were added to their own hair to construct towering coiffures called poufs, which featured feathers and other ornaments. Imagine managing both a really wide, long dress while wearing a really tall monstrosity on one’s head for hours at a time! How would you sit down? Or go to the bathroom?

Madame de Pompadour at Her Toilette
by Boucher, 1758
Wearing rouge was also de rigueur. Because it was so expensive, it was seen as a badge of rank and distinction, and no one outside the court was allowed to use it. There was nothing subtle about how it was applied either. You painted a large circle of the stuff in a color pretty close to scarlet on each cheek, as you can see in Madame de Pompadour’s portrait at left. The effect was so...um, striking...that sensible Germans like Mozart thought it detestable and unbearable to the eyes.

Another interesting feature of the French court was that every subject traditionally possessed the right of access to the sovereign. This naturally made security at the palace essentially nonexistent. The common people freely roamed through the palace’s salons, hallways, and chambers, and not necessarily in decent dress. They even entered the king’s apartment as soon as he stepped out. Though the queen’s apartment was generally considered off limits, the fishwives held an ancient right to address the queen on certain prescribed occasions. This eventually morphed into a general right of access for all the market women, and they would flock into the queen’s rooms and boldly admonish her and the princesses on their perceived failings.

What struck foreign visitors to Versailles in the 18th century most was the smell and the dirt. Much of it resulted from the royals’ numerous pets. Cats, dogs, monkeys, birds—you name it, they had it. You can imagine the chaos of animals bounding through the palace at will and doing their business wherever. To say nothing of the vagrants who settled into the palace’s many nooks and crannies in such numbers that they occasionally had to be routed out with spaniels. According to some reports, you could smell the place five miles out.

All in all, life as a French king or queen wasn’t as glamorous as one might imagine. A whole crowd of royals and nobles even had to attend the queen when she gave birth! How would you feel about having so many people involved in your most private moments? Please let us know what you think about the royal life!
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 Indie Book of the Year Bronze Award for Historical Fiction. Book 2, The Return, received the 2017 Interviews and Reviews Silver Historical Fiction Award. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"After the Surrender"

Last page of the Treaty of Paris
So, in October 1781, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, and the Revolution was over. Right?

Not quite.

It would be nearly three more years before the signing of the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the American War for Independence. And in the meantime, the partisan conflict that I discussed last month would continue to rage, especially in the Southern theatre.

In addition to the Bloody Scout (the name given for William Cunningham’s rampages during the late fall and winter of 1781), several other notable skirmishes took place. My best source focuses almost exclusively on the Carolinas, but the war continued to affect relations between people for many long years in other areas of the country as well. The British continued to foment uprising among the native tribes from forts held in the upper Ohio Valley, and those loyalists who preferred not to leave America had a tough struggle either to hold onto their lands or to make a way for themselves, often further west (Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia) or even south (Spanish-held Florida).

Plenty of conflicts happened in the first year after the British surrendered, however. One incident involved the Chickamauga in Tennessee seeking to continue trading goods with the British, holed up in Savannah, Georgia, and fighting continued with the Cherokee. Others took place in North Carolina, in lingering clashes between loyalists and patriots. Still others happened at sea. And Cunningham made a few forays into the South Carolina backcountry, but none as widespread as before.

Finally, then, the Continental army grew impatient with the British presence in Savannah and Charleston, and laid siege to both in turn … but more about those in my next post. :-)

Friday, March 9, 2018


I forgot the housework, neglected needed sleep and sort-of supervised the youngsters. That was my experience many years ago when I first read James Alexander Thom’s Follow the River. The fictional account of the true story of Mary Draper Ingles capture and captivity by the Shawnee in 1755, and eventual escape and journey home was one of those books that was impossible to put down. This twenty-three-year-old woman’s story demanded I do further research to learn more about her.

The Ingles and Draper families migrated to and settled in Draper’s Meadows on the western frontier of the Virginia colony, what is now Blacksburg, Virginia. Mary Draper was only eighteen when she married twenty-one-year-old William Ingles.

On July 30, 1755, Mary was at their cabin with their two young boys and William was harvesting in the fields when Shawnee warriors killed or captured most of the inhabitants of Drapers Meadows. Mary, her sons and her injured sister-in-law Bettie were captured and forced to travel further west. Mary’s sons were taken from her and adopted into the Shawnee tribe and taken to another village. Bettie was given to a warrior and traveled to another site.

Mary and another captive referred to as “Old Dutch woman” traveled another one hundred miles to a Shawnee village west to current day Cincinnati, Ohio. The two women were given the latitude to roam about freely and search for food. Mary Ingles was respected among the tribe for her indomitable spirit and her skills as a seamstress. She made shirts for the natives.

Mary’s journey with the Shawnee Indians is noted by the red line,
her return east is noted with the blue line her return east.
attributed to: Blue Ridge Country Magazine
In October of 1755, the two women escaped under the guise of foraging for food. They headed off along the Ohio River on almost a five-hundred-mile journey back to southwest Virginia with only two blankets and a tomahawk. Their forty-three-day odyssey through treacherous wilderness and Mary’s eventual return home is spellbinding.  
Mary’s story doesn’t end there. She and William had several more children and moved to the New River near Radford, Virginia where they built a home, an inn, and operated a ferry crossing. Over a period of years, the Ingles searched and found one of their sons purchasing him from the Shawnee tribe. Will died in 1782 and Mary lived in their log cabin and operated the ferry until she died in 1815 at the age of eighty-three. Will and Mary Ingles descendants of still own and inhabit their land.

A bronze sculpture of Mary Draper Ingles
by sculptor Matt Langford stands in front of
the Boone County, Kentucky Public Library Main Branch. 
attributed to: Blue Ridge Country Magazine

Mary Draper Ingles story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the courage and fortitude of the women who helped settle our country.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Revolutionary St. Patrick's Day

Many people are unaware of the connection between George Washington and St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. So here's a little history to enrich your knowledge of the holiday.

Saint Patrick was a Roman-British Christian missionary and bishop known as the "Apostle of Ireland." According to his testimony in his Confessio, he was captured by Irish pirates from his homeland of Britian and brought to Ulster, Ireland as a slave at age sixteen.  He lived there for six years, looking after animals until his escape. He returned home and afterwards became a cleric. Upon having a vision, he returned to pagan Ireland to spread the word of Christ. He built his church and evangelized to the pagan people of the Island. It is believed that St. Patrick died on March 17th, thus the day that is celebrated as his feast day.

In Colonial America, the Irish population was second in number only to the English. These early Irish immigrants included the Scots-Irish of northern Ireland who left their country because of religious conflict. Charitable organizations sprung up in the colonies for the aid of the immigrants. In 1737, the Charitable Irish Society was formed in Boston by Ulster Presbyterian colonists. The Society of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1771. Many patriots were members of these societies. George Washington was an honorary member of  "The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick" and attended their first meeting, St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1771. Washington's ethnicity is mostly English, 1/8th Dutch, 1/32 French, with distant Welsh and Scottish. But he is also descended from Brian Boru, Last High King of Ireland (941-1014), famed as the most successful warlord king in Irish history.

Under Washington's direction as Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army approximately one third of those serving were Irish and Scots-Irish. Ireland was also a great support to the cause of liberty in the colonies by providing their financial support. Enlisted Irish were Protestants (mostly Scots-Irish) until Catholics were allowed to serve in 1778.

When the American Revolution began, Irish enlisted by the thousands. These stalwart men already bore the scars of striving against the British Empire for their independence in Ireland and now they were ready to defend the cause of liberty in America.  British troops had been occupying Boston for some time. When they set out to Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 to destroy the rebels, their Major Pitcairn proclaimed, "We will drive the Yankees and Irish to cover." When the British retreated back to Boston, militiamen contained the British to the city. Patriots left Boston and Loyalists joined them.

After an eleven month siege, General Washington decided to evacuate the British troops and Loyalists from Boston Harbor. To help fortify the plan, Irishman Henry Knox masterminded transportation of 60 tons of cannons through the snow that had been captured from Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point. On March 17, 1776, St. Patrick's Day, the British withdrew from Boston with little resistance, due to a harsh storm, which Washington called “interposition by Providence.” Washington set a password and countersign for safe re-entry into the city as “Boston” and “St. Patrick.”

During the harsh winter at Morristown, New Jersey of 1780,  in a place called Jockey Hollow, war worn soldiers were lacking provisions. Congress's resources were low and the roads were blocked due to the heavy snowy, more so than that endured during the winter at Valley Forge. They were hungry, poorly clothed, cold, and discouraged. Seven out of the eleven brigades there were commanded by generals born in Ireland or  had Irish parents. To boost the morale of the soldiers, who had not had a break in a year, General Washington issued an order on March 16th for a day of respite the following day . . . St. Patrick's Day. They even “enjoyed a hogshead of rum" purchased by their benevolent commander. A caveat was issued, however, that "The celebration of the day will not be attended with the least rioting or disorder."
“The general congratulates the army on the very interesting proceedings of the parliament of Ireland and the inhabitants of that country which have been lately communicated; not only as they appear calculated to remove those heavy and tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to restore to a brave and generous people their ancient rights and freedom and by their operations to promote the cause of America. Desirous of impressing upon the minds of the army, transactions so important in their nature, the general directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for tomorrow the seventeenth, a day held in particular regard by the people of the nation.”


In 1783, when American soldiers were taken by the British and kept in Ireland, Washington assured an association of Irish immigrants that "the Hospitality and Beneficence of your Countrymen, to our Brethren who have been Prisoners of War, are neither unknown, or unregarded." He held high esteem to the Irishmen who served for their new country. We, too, are grateful.

“America was lost through the action of her Irish immigrants.”
Lord Mountjoy to British Parliament

“The people of Ireland need that critical moment to shake off
the badges of slavery they have so long worn.”
Marquis de Lafayette

“On more than one occasion Congress owed their existence,
and America possibly her preservation to the fidelity and firmness of the Irish.” 
Major General Marquis de Chastellux

"When our friendless standards were first unfurled,
who were the strangers who first mustered around our staff,
and when it reeled in the fight who more brilliantly sustained
it than Erin's generous sons".
General George Washington

Best-selling inspirational romance author Carla Gade writes adventures of the heart with historical roots. Her maternal grandparents were from Ulster, Ireland and immigrated to Boston settling in New Hampshire in 1718.  

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Isaiah Lukens: Colonial Clockmaker

The Lukens family (originally spelled Luyken and then Lucken) were Dutch Mennonites who, due to religious persecution in Holland, ended up in Krefeld, Germany, in the 1600s. They endured more persecution there, and Jan Lucken eventually sailed for America aboard the Concord in 1682. He and his wife were among the original settlers of Germantown (now part of Philadelphia), at some point became Quakers, and went on to have twelve children. These people, who braved their first winter in America living in a cave along the Schuykill River, went on to become a family well-known in colonial Philadelphia and in areas to the north of the city. Jan Lucken’s great-grandson, Seneca, and especially his great-great-grandson, Isaiah, were noted clockmakers.

Seneca Lukens (born 1951) was a farmer and self-taught watch- and clockmaker who lived his entire life in Horsham, Pennsylvania, a small Quaker community north of Philadelphia. While he was quite well-known for his watches and clocks during his lifetime, he is now equally as known for allowing Elizabeth Graeme Ferguson, the “most learned woman in America” during colonial times, to live in his home in her latter years. Seneca’s son Isaiah, however, would be most know for his occupation:

Isaiah Lukens, daguerreotype by
Charles Wilson Peale
“Isaiah Lukens, the son of Seneca, was born August 24, 1779, in Horsham, where he received but a common English education, but by subsequent diligent study he acquired a profound knowledge of the sciences. He learned clock-making from his father, and the excellency of the workmanship of his high-standing clocks, spreading far beyond the circle of his neighborhood, formed the basis of his future reputation. He made the clock of Loller Academy, Hatboro, in 1812, and the large clock in the State-House steeple in 1839, for which he received five thousand dollars. In early youth his mechanical skill exhibited itself in constructing wind-mills for pumping water, and air-guns of improved construction, besides other ingenious appliances. While a young man he made a voyage to Europe, spending some time in England, France and Germany, in visiting the greatest objects of interest, particularly those involving a high degree of mechanical knowledge. He finally settled in Philadelphia, and became a member of its several literary and scientific institutions, and was one of the founders and a vice-president of the Franklin Institute. He died in the city November 12, 1864, in age the youngest of the family.”[1]

Here are a few pieces of Isaiah Lukens' craftsmanship:

To the right is a clock made for the Philadelphia Bank, which was at the southwest corner of Chestnut and Fourth Streets. It remained there until the bank moved in 1859. At that time it was sold at auction by M Thomas & Sons, and bought by Henry Bird, librarian at The Athenaeum, for twenty-three dollars. The clock is thirteen feet high, and is now on display in the Busch Room of The Athenaeum.

He also designed and built the clock that graced the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), in 1828. This clock replaced the former clocks built by Edward Duffield and then Thomas Stretch. Lukens' clock kept Philadelphia's time until 1876, when it was moved to Town Hall in Germantown. It was then incorporated into Germantown's new municipal building in 1924.

Lukens clock at Loller Academy, 
on the night of it's rededication (12/31/2015)
Another Lukens clock is in the Loller Academy building (now the municipal building), in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, which was built in 1812. Similar to the clock that would later be made for the State House, it is a seven-day clock with a bell above it that chimes on each hour. The clock fell into disrepair during the twentieth century, and over the last several years has been undergoing restoration by the Millbrook Society (Hatboro's historical society) and Winships' Pieces of Time. It was rededicated in a ceremony on New Year's Eve 2015, although the Winships are still making some repairs to return it, as closely as possible, to its original state.

Upon his death, Isaiah Lukens was a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Franklin Institute, for which he had previously served as vice president. My favorite title for him, however, is "cousin."

[1] Theodore Weber Bean, History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1884), 876.