Thursday, March 21, 2019

Rebecca Protten: A Zeal for Taking the Gospel to Slaves

Rebecca Freundlich Protten, a woman of African and European descent, was born in 1718 on the island of Antigua. It is suspected that she was kidnapped and sold into slavery on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. She learned of Christianity from her Dutch Reformed master. She was freed at age 12 by his family after he died.

Rebecca Freundlich Protten
By Kandymotownie - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Once freed, Rebecca’s heart’s desire was to share the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ, especially with the enslaved peoples of St. Thomas. She traveled the dusty roads and up and down hilly terrain in the humidity to reach the slaves in the evenings when they returned from the fields. She also reached out to the women who were abused by their masters.

She worked with Moravian missionaries who taught the equality of men and women in the ministry. She also preached at meetings at a church called “The Path,” where enslaved Africans would come to hear her preach, often against the wishes of their masters who feared a revolt. Yet this didn’t keep them from coming to hear her preach and hear of freedom from sin through God’s amazing grace. Rebecca, herself, went through persecution from local church authorities who questioned her teaching of slaves.

When she was eighteen, Rebecca sought out the German Moravian missionary, Freidrich Martin, who’d arrived on St. Thomas for a deeper education of her faith. Martin was impressed by her skill in teaching. He later said there was “nothing in her other than a love of God and her servants.” 

Map of West Indies in 1732. {PD}
Around the age of 24 in 1742, she traveled to Germany with Martin and her first husband, Matthaus Freundlich. They brought their two-year-old daughter, Anna, with them. Matthaus died on the trip to Germany where he was returning due to his ill health, especially under the persecution they encountered as they spread the Gospel to the slave community on St. Thomas. Shortly after Rebecca arrived in Herrnhut, Freidrich Martin had to return to the mission on St.Thomas. In 1744, Rebecca’s daughter died and she was essentially left alone but was taken to a Moravian commune there.

In Herrnhut, she met her second husband, Jacob Protten, a biracial educator who was also a part of the Moravian church. They married in 1746. Rebecca gave birth to another daughter, whom she also named Anna. Sadly, the child died in infancy.

With the church’s blessing, in 1756, they traveled to the Gold Coast in the country of Ghana where they opened a school for biracial children.

Jacob Christian Protten
By Kandymotownie - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Though Rebecca had no surviving children, she taught the children of others at the school for seventeen years. She became a widow for the second time in 1769 and remained in Ghana for the rest of her life until she passed away in 1780 at the age of 62. Near the end of her life, the Moravian missionaries had desired her return to St. Thomas, but she wasn’t well enough to make the trip.

Rebecca ran her course well with zeal for the Gospel. She did not walk the easy road and left a lasting legacy behind. She’d sown the seeds of Afro-Protestantism in the Americas that began in the West Indies and still reverberates throughout the African-American Christian community today. Perhaps this is why she is hailed as the “mother of modern missions.”

Kathleen Rouser is the multi-published author of the 2017 Bookvana Award winner, Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and its sequel, Secrets and Wishes. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of thirty-some years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.

Secrets and Wishes

More than fists fly after a fight between Philip and Zeke. When their widowed parents, Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper meet, they begin a prickly acquaintance. 

Independent Maggie has placed in a national baking contest and wants to open a bakery to provide a future for her and Philip. Grieving and disorganized Thomas seeks to bring up his unruly brood in Stone Creek, and grow his pharmacy business in peace.

After he becomes gravely ill, Maggie is enlisted to nurse him back to health, and takes his children in hand. She eventually helps Thomas organize his shop. As friendship blossoms so does mutual affection. They team up to defeat a charlatan whose dangerous elixir brings tragedy to Stone Creek.

Humiliating circumstances force Maggie to consider leaving town. Thomas wants to offer her an alternative, but is he too late to declare his love to the angel of mercy who has captured his heart?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Popular Plants in Medieval Herb Gardens

Spring colour and a profusion of scents in the replica medieval herb garden at Stafford Castle. 
Image courtesy of Simon Huguet / Herb Garden, Stafford Castle.(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Popular Plants in Medieval Herb Gardens

Engaging your senses is the best way to experience history. Watch a castle documentary (or visit one in person) and you’ll travel into the Middle Ages. Touch the rough stone of the 1831 version of London bridge and you’ll stand above the Thames despite the fact that it spans the Bridgewater Channel canal at Lake Havasu, Arizona. Smell the aroma of lavender and lace-gloved ladies will walkl through your imagination. Listen to an antique music box and travel into a bygone era. 

Escape with Janalyn Voigt into creative worlds of fiction.

One of my favorite ways of connecting with the past is through sense of taste. I love to cook and have an affinity for growing herbs. The medieval herb garden I planted has survived the intrusions of life that kept me from tending it for several years. That makes such a garden perfect for a busy author. If you have similar demands on your time but still want to enjoy gardening, planting a medieval herb garden is a good way to go.

Note: DawnSinger (Tales of Faeraven, book one) was selected for the Amazon Monthly Ebook Deal list for March 2019. This book is on special through March. Read the description and follow the link at the end of this article.

Importance of the Medieval Herb Garden

While vegetables and grains were cultivated in the fields, tending and preserving herbs fell to the lady of the manor. Herbs grown in medieval times fell into three categories: culinary, medicinal, and household. The most useful crossed categories.

Herbs were valued far more in the Middle Ages than they are today, particularly the medicinal variety. Culinary herbs enlivened the palate but weren’t eaten for taste alone. They provided necessary nutrients during the winter when greens were scarce and could also disguise rancid meats. Household herbs like lavender, rosemary, and pennyroyal were used to repel pests and freshen the air.

Medicinal herbs found in medieval gardens 

I suggest that you do your research and consult a qualified professional before growing herbs for medicinal use. With proper guidance, growing fresh herbs can be beneficial. You should know that some (such as rue) mentioned here are considered toxic in modern times. Also, it’s possible to overdose on willow bark and possibly others I’ve listed. I am not an herbalist. My goal is not to advise you on your health needs. This article is meant only to impart information about herbs in history.

Medicinal herbs popular in the Middle Ages included clary sage, chamomile, comfrey, dandelion, feverfew, hyssop, lavender, rue, sage, peppermint, goosegrass, tansy, willow bark, and garlic. Feverfew and willow bark helped with headaches. Lavender, sage, and peppermint aided the digestion. Comfrey, and goosegrass mended broken bones, cuts, and lesions. Dandelion, hyssop and rue were given as purgatives. Clary sage (also known as ‘clear eye’) found a use as an eyewash. Chamomile’s sedative effects countered sleeplessness.

Culinary herbs grown in medieval gardens.

Basil, curry, dill, cumin, lavender, coriander, rosemary, sage, savory, oregano, and tarragon made their way into the kitchen. Many were dried for winter, but others (like winter savory) flourished despite cold weather. To provide variety in drab winter months, cooks also relied upon rosehip and other herbed jams and jellies.

Household herbs popular in the Middle Ages. 

Lavender, rosemary, and sage show up again in this category. Along with citron, pennyroyal, and parsley, they sweetened the air and deterred pests.

Designing your medieval garden.

For ideas, search online for images of your ideal garden. You’ll find pictures and descriptions in Plan a Medieval Garden, a previous post I wrote on this topic.

About Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and whimsy creates breathtaking fictional worlds for readers. Known for her vivid writing, this multi-faceted author writes in the western historical romance, medieval epic fantasy, and romantic suspense genres.

Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary Agency. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA. When she's not writing, she loves to garden and explore the great outdoors with her family.


The High Queen is dying... 

At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens. 

But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes. 

On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing and the salvation he offers into a divided land. 

To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

Learn More>>

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Thin Blue Line: Lawton Police Department Pt 2


The Thin Blue Line
Wikimedia Commons,

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Thank you for joining us this month as we continue our series about first responders in our great state, Oklahoma.

First, allow us to say: we wish to pay our respects to the brave men and women of our military, and let them know our thoughts and prayers are with them, particularly those currently on deployment outside our country and away from their families.

However, we also wish to add our gratitude to those that serve outside of our military forces as well. Also called The Thin Blue Line, this group of dedicated public servants serve to keep us, our families, and our property safe. Our hats are off to you, and our gratitude for all you do.

Over the last few months, we have been delving into the history of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and of the various police departments here in this great state. This month, we continue our look into the history of the Lawton, Oklahoma Police Department.

Last month, we ended with describing how former U.S. Marshall Heck Thomas was recruited to be a police chief and how he was able to get the police department whipped into shape. Heck was most notable for having captured Bill Doolin of the Doolin Dalton Gang. He served as the first chief of police for seven years, until his failing health required him to resign the position. He died in 1912 of Bright’s Disease, called by today’s terminology Acute Chronic Nephritis.

Throughout the history of the town, Military Police out of Fort Sill have assisted with some of the operations of the Lawton Police Department. They were also the ones that were in charge of training the new officers until 1965, when the Police Department started training their own officers.
In 1992, the Chief of Police voluntarily resigned after a dispute over a lawsuit that the city settled, about overtime. The original police force consisted of twenty eight officers, and a chief. Now the force employs one hundred seventy-eight officers and sixty-five civilians.
Thank you for being with us this month as we wrapped up our look into the Lawton Police Department. Please join us next month as we look into the history of the Light Horse Police in Oklahoma.

Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Judge was born and raised in Little Axe, Oklahoma, the son of A.F. Veterans. Judge and Alanna love the history of the state and relish in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna and Judge live with her parents in the Edmond area. They are currently collaborating on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Oklahoma.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Lionel Royce

By Nancy J. Farrier

Sometimes circumstances in life make it necessary to change your identity or to adapt in order to preserve your life. Lionel Royce is one such person, an actor, who also adapted to survive.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Lionel was born Leon Reiss, in what is now Ukraine. In 1913, he traveled to Vienna to attend the Academy of Music and Performing Arts. Leon loved acting and excelled at the craft. His acting career was put on hiatus with the onset of WWI. He enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army and fought valiantly. He was wounded several times and awarded a medal of valor.

Lionel began his acting career after the war using the stage name, Leo Reuss. His first performance was in Vienna in a production of King Lear. In 1921, he went to Berlin to join a theater group there and gained notoriety for his acting ability. With the rise of the Nazi party, Reuss began to have problems. Due to his Jewish heritage, he began to have trouble finding work in Berlin. He returned to Austria hoping he would do better there, but the Nazi reach still kept him from acting jobs.

Instead of giving up, Reuss took time to reinvent himself. At a cabin he owned in the mountains, he studied the Tyrolean farmers and became one of them. He
Vienna Academy of Music
and Performing Arts (1920)
Photo by PaulShunOSAWA
dyed his hair by bathing in a peroxide bath regularly. He grew his hair longer and allowed his beard to grow. 

He changed his name again, this time to Kaspar Brandhofer, to emulate a Tyrolean peasant. Then he returned to Vienna, complete with papers stating he was a Christian. He auditioned before his former mentor, who did not recognize him, but who was very impressed with Kaspar’s acting skill.

He walked a fine line as he was cast in a feature role. Many of the other performers knew him and had acted with him before. He had to maintain his subterfuge as Kasper every moment, not just when he was on the stage. His premier as Kaspar proved an amazing success. He received accolades, even from the Nazi’s attending. They claimed his heritage as a white Christian proved he had superior blood. 

Wikimedia Commons
Reuss could have gone on to greater heights in acting, but maintaining the Kaspar identity must have been difficult. Keeping separate from people he once knew brought on loneliness and he didn’t like the power the Nazi’s were gaining. After his rousing performance, he admitted to his ruse. His announcement caused a great uproar and Reuss ended up escaping to the United States.

Wikimedia Commons
Once again, he changed his name, this time to Lionel Royce. He began his film career in the USA with a small role in Marie Antoinette. For the next few years, Royce continued to take on smaller roles as he gained notoriety. He was then cast in a role of a German, Hintze, in Confessions of a Nazi Spy. From there he continued to portray the very people who caused him to leave his beloved Austria. He did it with such success that the German embassy asked him to come back to Germany and offered him honorary Ayran status so that he could act for the Nazi party. Royce turned them down.

Wikimedia Commons
The last film Royce appeared in was the 1946 production of Gilda,starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. From there, Lionel Royce joined the USO and began doing tours for the US troops, much as Bob Hope did. During his tour in Manilla, Royce had a fatal heart attack and died at the age of 54. 

I found the story of Lionel Royce to be so interesting. In the 1990’s a play was written about the life of Lionel Royce and performed in Vienna but I don't believe it was made into a movie. Have you heard of Lionel Royce? He must have been a great actor. I found it interesting that the Nazi party wanted to offer him Aryan status just so he could perform for them. What did you find interesting?

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Can We See Forever?

Some folks insist they can see forever. Especially those who have driven (or walked) up Skyline Drive in Cañon City, Colorado.

The upturned Dakota sandstone “hogback” supporting the scenic roadway has jutted above the floor of the Arkansas River Valley for thousands of years, geologists say.

But since the early 1900s, most people who scale its heights just say, “Wow.” Especially if they’re white-knuckling their way along the single-lane, three-mile stretch that snakes 800 feet above the valley floor. Sometimes they say other things too.
View atop Skyline Drive in Canon City, Colorado. Photo courtesy Jeffrey Beall.
For safety’s sake, signage is clear, warning of slow speed limits and bicyclists and hikers sharing the path, but no guard rails separate the blacktop ribbon from sheer drop-offs on either side. If you’re driving, you don’t look around much. If you’re lucky enough to be a passenger, you can get an eyeful.

For more than a century, people have climbed or driven the spiny ridge, beginning with inmate-labor crews who constructed the narrow roadway in 1905, according to sources from the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center. An inmate could earn ten days off his sentence for every month he worked on the project.
Photo by George L. Beam, early 1900s.
Originally intended for horse-drawn conveyances, walking, or bicycling, vehicles were prohibited because they frightened horses and had led to several close calls involving skittish animals and sheer drop-offs. In 1907, vehicles were finally allowed, but only at certain times on certain days of the week.

Skyline is accessed about three miles west of Cañon City via a stone archway built in 1932, also with inmate labor. The archway was constructed using a stone from each of the forty-eight states (excluding Hawaii and Alaska, not yet states).

Walkers ascend on the eastern side of the hogback, entering at its base near Floral and 5th Street in a residential neighborhood. Exercise enthusiasts claim the trek it's one of the best workouts available. What’s another 800 feet when you’re starting out at an elevation of 5,315? The climb quickly accelerates the heartrate, they say, and the view is breath-taking.

If there’s any breath left to take.
Dakota Ridge trailhead atop Skyline Road. Photo by author.
However, people were not the first creatures to make the climb. Topographically speaking, the scenery may have been a bit different, but in the distant past, extinct breeds of animals trotted, raced or meandered along this section of the Dakota Hogback Ridge, a geological formation that runs from New Mexico into Wyoming.

A sharp-eyed paleontology student in 1999 noticed unusual patterns along the upturned lip of the Skyline protrusion which turned out to be a dinosaur trackway I mentioned in last month’s blog. The fossilized footprints are viewed as if from below ground as they protrude from the slanting rock. Signage at the site offers a fascinating historical overview. 
Convex ankylasour footprints protruding above the roadway on Skyline Drive. Photo by author.
Skyline Drive is opened year-round, weather permitting, and for locals and visitors alike, anyone willing to take the time to meet the sky will enjoy the thrilling view of “forever” atop the razor’s edge.
Author's photo from atop Skyline Drive. 
A continuation of the uplifted Dakota ridgeline can be seen in the background.

Bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, Davalynn Spencer writes heart-tugging romance with a Western flair, both contemporary and historical. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she’s always #lovingthecowboy. And she’s fairly certain her previous career as an award-winning rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter prepared her for life in Colorado wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Learn more about Davalynn and her books at

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Have You Hugged Your House Lately?

Back in the 80s, I got my first job in an office. We had a word processor that was supposed to make our job easier. We had visions of all this “free” time in our future. Even funnier, I was a big believer in the power of computers: I had a degree in computer science after all.

The sales department gradually moved from hand written invoices to computers and software to spit out invoices with the click of a few buttons. Accounts payable eventually went to software that printed our checks for us. Wow! All we had to do was sit back and watch the checks spit out of the printer. Surely our breaks would be longer and more often because of so much automation.

The purchasing department went from calling vendors and placing orders over the phone, to faxing in orders, then to placing orders via email. Before I left the company after 28 years, many vendors had online options where I could place orders, check status, locate tracking numbers, and a host of other things without ever even contacting a salesperson.

Now that I work from home, it’s the same thing. I have a laptop, phone that’s connected to the world, washing machine, dryer, vacuum cleaner, dish washer, oven, stove, microwave, refrigerator, hot and cold running water, electric heat in the winter and electric A/C in the summer. Other than writing a check (or using automatic payments), I don’t have to do anything except pay for the electricity to run all those appliances and electronics.

Jump back to the 17th century and how people lived. Let’s specifically look at the farmer and the housewife. A household in the countryside was largely self-sufficient. The woman of the house had to bake bread, brew ale (since water wasn’t always safe to drink), cure bacon, salt meat, make jellies and jams, pickles, can vegetables. She had to make candles, sew all the family’s clothes and stuff bedding, tend the garden, the chickens and milk the cow and churn the butter.

The farmer planted the corn that fed his cows that fed his family. He saved seed for the next year. That bread, ale, bacon, and cheese his wife made to sustain them came from the animals and crops they grew on their farm. He chopped wood to cook their food and keep the family warm throughout the winter. He hunted for wild game to supplement their diet. By and large, farm families were self-sufficient and could survive for months, years even, without buying or trading for anything outside of what they could produce on their own.

In a word, they made do.

You’d think that with all these fancy gadgets, computers, phones… goodness, these days we can order our groceries from our phone, pay for them, then drive by the store on the way home from work and pick everything up. And if that’s not fast enough, someone else can prepare our burger and fries, and we just drive thru and eat it on the road.

But here’s the rub. On the surface, many of us seem to be just as busy, or busier, than our counterparts two and three centuries ago. But is that really the case? I’m generalizing of course, but even when we think we’re burning the candle at both ends, or thinking we’ll never get ahead, let’s stop and take a deep breath…

Think about living without electricity (and all the electronics that come with it), running water, an insulated home with a/c in the summer, heat in the winter. Think about either having to walk everywhere or hook up the wagon or saddle a horse. Think about having to lug gallons of water to wash clothes. Think about the worry over a sick child or a farming accident with no doctor or hospital within miles. I could go on and on…

Granted, everything isn’t rosy in 2019, and there are families who are struggling to survive, but I don’t think I want to go back in time to the 17th or 18th century.

Although I do love writing and reading about it. :)

I think I'll hug my house today!

What is the one thing you can’t imagine living without? And by one thing, I mean necessary thing. A loaded pizza from your favorite pizza joint isn’t exactly necessary… even though it does sound yummy! Some ideas of what I’m looking for… Electric lights vs. candles/lanterns? Stove vs. fireplace? Washing machine vs. hand washing? Heat-pump vs. fireplace? Automobile vs. walking/wagon?

Check out this Scavenger Hunt!

Have you heard about the Spring Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt? If not, you're just in time! It ends on the 17th, so hop over to Lisa Bergren's website at Stop #1 and get started. Make sure you enter my giveaway at Stop #21 at for a chance to win all three books in my Natchez Trace Novel series.

Go to Stop #1 to start your journey on the
Spring Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt, Stop #1

Friday, March 15, 2019

Violet Jessop - Bad Luck, Good Luck or Beating the Odds

Violet Constance Jessop was a woman who some might say had bad luck while others may say had very good luck. One things is for sure, Violet Jessop beat the odds. Born in 1887 to Irish immigrants, Violet was the oldest daughter of nine children. As the oldest of 6 surviving sibling, she spent much of her time looking after her brothers and sisters. Violet was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and given just months to live, but she proved the doctors wrong and lived a full life. At 16 her father died and her family moved to England. Her mother then became ill causing Violet to look for work in her mother's industry of ship stewardess. But being attractive worked against her and she had a hard time finding a job. In order to get hired she dress down and attempted to make herself unattractive. It worked and in 1908 she got her first stewardess job aboard the Royal Mail Ship the Orinoco.

In 1911 Violet took a stewardess job on a sister ship of the Titanic called the RMS Olympic. 

This ship was the largest luxury civilian liner of its time. It was a normal work day for Miss Jessop aboard the Olympic on September 20, 1911 when the ship left Southampton. But what started out as normal ended up a frightening adventure as the British warship the HMS Hawke collided with the RMS Olympic. The ship was able to limp back to port without sinking, making this her first of three maritime ship accidents.

One year later on April 10th 1912, Violet at age 24, found herself aboard the luxury liner of the RMS Titanic as stewardess. But only four days aboard the brand new liner, the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and once again Violet found herself facing a maritime disaster. This time the ship began to sink within 2 hours of striking the iceberg. In Miss Jessop's
memoirs, she tells how she was ordered up on the deck to be an example to people who couldn't speak English. She was then told to get into lifeboat 16 and then promptly handed a baby to look after by one of the Titanic officers.
It wasn't until the following morning that she was rescued by the RMS Carpathia where the baby and mom were reunited. Of the 2224 passengers over 1500 perished in the tragedy, but once again Violet Jessop lived to tell about it. 

Four years passed and Violet now served as a stewardess for the British Red Cross during World War I. The morning of November 21st 1916, Violet was aboard the HMHS Britannic, another sister ship of the Titanic. The ship had been converted to a hospital ship with 1066 passengers traveling the Aegean Sea. An explosion possibly caused by either a German torpedo or a mine, sank the ship in less than 55 minutes killing 30 people. Violet ended up in the sea where she
sustained a head injury but survived. In her memoirs she tells of her frightening ordeal, "The white pride of the ocean's medical...dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower. All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child's toys. Then she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths."

In 1920 Miss Jessop once again return to the job of stewardess for the White Star Line. Violet died in 1971 at the age of 83.

What about you? Do you think you could get on another ship being on 3 ship disasters?