Monday, December 16, 2019

Why Mohawk Disguises For a Tea Party?

The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor by Nathaniel Currier, 1846

by Guest Blogger Heidi Chiavaroli

Exactly 246 years ago tonight, a group of Boston Patriots disguised themselves as Native Americans and dumped an estimated £10,000 (1 million dollars in today’s economy) of tea in Boston Harbor. They were protesting taxes. They were protesting being told where to buy their tea. They were protesting being denied a voice.

When I began research for my novel, The Tea Chest, I came upon one of the only women mentioned during the treasonous event—Sarah Bradlee Fulton. Sarah was a Bostonian lady who was not shy in sharing her Patriotic sympathies, whether it be confronting an entire regiment of Redcoats who’d stolen wood from the Continental Army, spying in Loyalist-occupied Boston, or coming up with (and helping to implement) the idea of the Mohawk disguises to dump the tea the night of December 16, 1773. I was fascinated with this woman, and decided to create a fictional friend for her, Emma Malcolm (my historical heroine), who would help Sarah in some of these endeavors.

But first, I had to understand why an 18th century woman would come up with the idea of such a disguise. Sure, I suppose if I were to commit treason on a cold December night, I’d want the safety of a disguise as well. But why a Native American? While a modern-day reader of history may think it insensitive, if we can peel back the layers of reasoning, we might begin to understand this disguise of choice that Sarah suggested.  

Massachusetts Bay Colony Seal
Of course, no one really believed Mohawks traveled over 200 miles, boarded the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, and dumped the tea in Boston Harbor. It was ludicrous. But the masquerade did give the men who committed the crime a scapegoat (no matter how unbelievable), and the mystery and unity of the disguise successfully provoked fear in those who threatened their voices.

At that time, colonists and Native Americans had already shared a long, gruesome history. Colonists feared their Native neighbors at the same time that they admired how passionately they fought. And with the centennial anniversary of King Philip’s War, captivity accounts were reprinted, becoming popular reading in 1773 Boston. These stories renewed the fear, and even hatred, of the Native Americans. 

Since the early 17th century, Massachusetts—and Boston, in particular—was often symbolized with the image of a Native American. The 1629 seal of Massachusetts depicted a Native man, and the Province House copper weather vane was an Indian with a bow. Even Paul Revere used the Native Americans in a design used to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. English cartoonists portrayed the colonists as petulant, whining, rebellious Native Americans. Benjamin L. Carp, in his book Defiance of the Patriots, states that English writers “were calling an American-born white New Englander a ‘tame Indian’ and worrying that American-born English people were taking on ‘Indian’ characteristics such as dishonesty, laziness, and indulging their children.”

The Savages Let Loose, or the Cruel Fate of the Loyalists
Satire by William Humphrey, 1783

While we now realize that this derogatory way of thinking was not only wrong, but prejudice, Boston Patriots chose not to shun this identity, but rather embrace it. Painting their faces with lampblack, slicking their hair with oil, and donning blankets and tomahawks, the men vowed to do no harm to anything or anyone but the tea. They vowed to act in honor even while committing the act of treason.

It also wasn’t coincidence that the leaders of the Sons of Liberty—Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, John Hancock, and Thomas Young—made certain they were publicly seen at Old South Meeting House at the time of the dumping. In this manner, these men, who represented “the Body of the People” and who gave voice to formal protests against the Tea Act, separated themselves from the treasonous act at the same time that the Mohawk disguises separated the treasonous act from “the Body.”

Either way, the disguises accomplished what they set out to do—create fear, send a message, and conceal identities. While Sarah Bradlee Fulton played a pivotal role in the Tea Party, this was actually just the beginning of what she (and Emma!) would accomplish for the Patriots during the Revolution.

The Tea Chest

Boston, 1773
Emma Malcolm’s father is staunchly loyal to the crown, but Emma’s heart belongs to Noah Winslow, a lowly printer’s assistant and Patriot. But her father has promised her hand to Samuel Clarke, a rapacious and sadistic man. As his fiancĂ©e, she would have to give up Noah and the friends who have become like family to her—as well as the beliefs she has come to embrace.

After Emma is drawn into the treasonous Boston Tea Party, Samuel blackmails her with evidence that condemns each participant, including Noah. Emma realizes she must do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, even if it means giving up the life she desires and becoming Samuel’s wife.

Present Day
Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth is determined to be the first woman inducted into the elite Navy SEALs. But before her dream can be realized, she must return to Boston in order to put the abuse and neglect of her childhood behind her. When an unexpected encounter with the man she once loved leads to the discovery of a tea chest and the document hidden within, she wonders if perhaps true strength and freedom are buried deeper than she first realized.

Two women, separated by centuries, must find the strength to fight for love and freedom…

and discover a heritage of courage and faith.

Heidi Chiavaroli writes women's fiction, exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Her debut novel, Freedom's Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and her two sons. Visit her at

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Traditions Past, Traditions Present, Traditions Future PLUS GIVEAWAY

Have you ever asked yourself why we have traditions? How many times have you heard someone say, "We have to do it, it's a tradition." With the Christmas season upon us it is the season of traditions. 

We all like traditions, there is something about them that just warms your heart and stirs your soul. And if you think about the traditions that do stir you so much they were probably established in your youth. Repetition in a child is a powerful thing! What do traditions do? They draw us closer as a family, they help us bond and gives memories we talk about for years to come. 

So with the season of our Savior's birth here, I thought I'd share some traditions from the past.  Maybe they will inspire you to start your own tradition for Christmas future. 

The Twelve Days of Christmas which are truly more than a song, were celebrated from Christmas Day until January 5th eve. It's been celebrated since before the middle ages and honored a different saint each day with a feast.

Advent goes all the way back to the 4th century. But it represented much more than just a count down to Christmas, as our Advent calendar does today. Advent then started on the Sunday nearest to November 30th. It was a time to prepare themselves and their hearts for not only Christmas (Christ's birth) but also Christ's return.

Twelfth Night goes back to Roman celebrations. A dried pea was cooked in a cake and whoever found it was the Lord or Lady of Misrule for the night. This lucky person would dress like a King or Queen and lead the celebrations. The tradition changed slightly overtime where a King and Queen would rule.

Most people enjoy Christmas parties. Mumming is an age-old tradition of just that. Men and women would visit neighbors after putting on masks and swapping clothes. They'd sing and dance and sometimes put on a light-hearted play. The narrator of the group of mummers would dress as Father Christmas. 

On December 6th a 'Boy Bishop' from the Cathedral or monastery school was chosen to be Bishop until December 28th. He held all the authority except that of mass. Henry VIII banned the tradition in 1542. It came back for a short period while Mary I ruled, but Elizabeth I again banned the practice during her reign. 

Moving forward out of ancient times we have a few more traditions with not so much meaning.

The fuzzy red and white stockings replaced the socks that the children wore sometime time in the 19th century. 


In 1883, The New York Times wrote:
"In the days of the unobtrusive white stocking, no one could pretend that the stocking itself was a graceful or attractive object when hanging limp and empty from the foot of the bedstead. Now, however, since the adoption of decorated stockings, ... even the empty stocking may be a thing of beauty, and its owner can display it with confidence both at the Christmas season and on purely secular occasions."
By Nandaro - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

 The Christmas tree, though originating in medieval times really caught popularity during the 19th century. The same article above that talked about the pretty stockings also spoke of how the Christmas tree and the Christmas stocking were in competition with each other and the tree had seen its better days where as the stocking would continue decorating homes. 

Well, they got half of that right! 

The Christmas Card interesting the first card was sent in 1611 by Michael Maier to James I of England and to his son, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. That didn't send people rushing out to follow suit. It wasn't until 1843 when two gentlemen in London produced a Christmas card for sale and sold 2050 cards for a shilling each.

And Lastly Mistletoe. It was in the 18th century that mistletoe became part of Christmas decorating. This tradition allowed a man to kiss any woman standing beneath the mistletoe and any woman who refused that kiss would receive bad luck. 

Starting a tradition.
And now some great modern traditions that perhaps you'd like to incorporate into your Christmas holiday.

~Every evening sit down and read a chapter of the bible that pertains to the birth of Christ.

~Starting the week before Christmas, tie a small stocking to your child's doorknob and every night sneak in and drop a small inexpensive gift or candy in the stocking for them to discover in the morning. 

~Choose a family in need and have your children help you shop and make things for them.

~Gather used baby dolls through the year, dress them and give them a blanket and then take your children to nursing homes to give to the elderly.

~While we all love to give to children in need, putting together gift bags with your children and taking them to nursing homes for people who don't have family brightens their Christmas and blesses your children. (Throws, fuzzy socks, crossword puzzles, hand cream are all great ideas.)

~Get several together from your neighborhood and bring caroling back!

~Take time to teach your children crafting! Find an age appropriate craft for your child or grandchild and have them make gifts for their grandparents/parents. 

~Let your kids make their own wrapping paper! Use brown paper, get sponge shapes and paint and let them stamp out their own wrapping paper.

A couple of adult traditions I do are:

~My daughter and I go to the same 2 craft shows every year. 

~My sister, sister-in-law, and I go away to the beach in November and spend a week working on Christmas presents from sun up until we can't keep our eyes open after sundown.

How about you? What traditions do you have? Leave a comment for a chance to win an ecopy of any of my novels or an audio book of Sword of Forgiveness.

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 5 horses, 3 dogs, cat and miniature donkey.

After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosencraig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution.

     Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.
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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Black Slave author sailed on Jane Austen's Brother's Ship!

How's that for a title? But how else to describe this fascinating tale?

Recently timbers from the HMS Namur were found under the floorboards of Chatham Historical Dockyard in England where the 90-gun second rate ship of the line was built and launched in 1756. She served the Royal Navy in various capacities until she was broken up in 1833. The HMS Namur took part in nine fleet actions – often as the flagship – in three campaigns. Jane Austen‘s younger brother Charles, or more formally Sir Charles John Austen, would rise to the rank of rear admiral in the Royal Navy. He had many commands but served as captain of HMS Namur from November 1811 to November 1814 

All very interesting, of course. but there was another man who served on that ship, Olaudah Equiano, an African writer who would become active in the British abolitionist movement. According to his autobiography, he was born in Nigeria and was kidnapped and sold into slavery at age 11, transported with 244 other slaves across the Atlantic to Barbados where he was transferred to the British colony of Virginia. He was purchased by Michael Pascal, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy who renamed Olaudah to Gustavus Vassa, after a 16th century Swedish King. Equiano would spend the next 8 years sailing with Pascal, during which time he was baptized and learned to read and write. Despite the special treatment, Equiano did not receive a share of the prize money awarded the other sailors from victories at sea. Nor did Pascal free him as he had promised.

Pascal sold Equiano to a ship captain in London who then sold him to a Quaker merchant named Robert King who allowed him to earn money on the side and
purchase his own freedom for forty pounds. He also educated him and guided him along the path of religion. Equiano earned his freedom in 3 years, and spent the next years of his life traveling the world as a free man.

In 1786 he became involved in the abolitionist movement in London and joined a group of 12 black men called “Sons of Africa”. Several of his abolitionist friends encouraged him to write and publish his life story, so in 1789 The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African was published. It was an immediate success and went into several printings, becoming the most widely read writings by an African in England. Equiano’s personal account of slavery fueled a growing anti-slavery movement in Great Britain.

Equiano travelled widely, speaking and promoting his book, and became a wealthy man. He was a leader in the Poor Black community in London and a prominent figure in the political realm. He married an English Woman and had two daughters, and died at age 52.

What a fascinating story!! From Slave to Author to a Political leader who changed the world. And long before Slavery became outlawed! In fact, it wasn't until 1807 that England passed an Anti-Slave Trade law which forbade slave trade but not slavery itself. However in 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was finally passed which outlawed slavery. That's one thing the Brits were far ahead of the U.S. on. 

Enjoy a good romantic adventure involving a slave? Or former slave?  You'll love my novel, Veil of Pearls!  It's an award winning, fan favorite!

This is an enduring novel of great depth. Beautifully written, it explores how far the human spirit will journey for freedom and love. This story was a real pleasure to read. Highly recommended. Historical Novel Reviews

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Friday, December 13, 2019

The Moravian Lovefeast

by Denise Weimer
The Christmas season is one of times members of the Moravian Church celebrate with a lovefeast, a practice unique to their ecclesiastical tradition. It’s a beautiful time of song and fellowship, often candlelit during Advent. But who are the Moravians? Let’s answer that before we focus on the lovefeast.

The Moravians trace their roots to the protests of University of Prague Professor of Philosophy and Rector John (or Jan) Hus against the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. By 1517, the Unity of Brethren numbered at least 200,000. Following a period of persecution, Moravian families found refuge on the Herrnhut estate of Saxon Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. The people followed a simplified style of communal living until the late 1700s, when families began living together.

A revival in 1727 led to the Moravian Church becoming the foremost mission-sending organization of its time. With the view of reaching Native Americans, the church established settlements in Bethlehem and Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in the 1740s, and grew in America from there.

According to Customs & Practices of the Moravian Church by Adelaide L. Fries and Preserving the Past: Salem Moravians’ Receipts & Rituals, lovefeasts began under Zinzendorf as a service of solemn song. This was done in memory of the first disciples breaking bread together in Acts 2.

Children and non-members can attend a lovefeast. The service opens with prayer, and if there is an address, it is brief, detailing the importance of the day being celebrated. Apart from Advent, these might include the anniversary of a new congregation, a missionary occasion, or other high church dates.

The Moravian blessing is prayed in unison: “Come, Lord Jesus, our Guest to be, and bless these gifts, bestowed by Thee. Amen.”

In a quiet manner meant to not interrupt the singing, servers bring refreshments. Usually, men bring mugs of coffee or tea, while women bring baskets of slightly sweetened buns. The women may wear a version of the haube, the traditional head covering once worn by Moravian ladies. 

Moravian Lovefeast: Will and Deni McIntyre, Wiki credit

A recipe for traditional lovefeast buns includes a half gallon on sponge, two cakes of yeast, a half gallon of sweet milk, a half gallon of warm water, two pounds of sugar, three ounces of salt, and a little mace and cinnamon. The ingredients are mixed at night to be baked the next day. If you are ever in Old Salem, North Carolina, you can try these delights at Winkler’s Bakery.

Cream tallow candles tied with a red ribbon are often lit during the Christmas Eve lovefeast. Traditionally, congregants would carry the lighted candles home and place them in their windows.

Intrigued by the Moravians and their traditions? Journey with John and Clarissa Kliest, married for convenience by lot (another intriguing tradition!) to a Christmas celebration in Cherokee Territory in 1805 in my new novel, The Witness Tree (The Witness Tree on Amazon).

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She’s a managing editor for Smitten Historical Romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. Her contemporary romance, Fall Flip, and her historical romance, The Witness Tree, both released with LPC this September. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:
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