Monday, December 30, 2013

More Good Words About Northkill

I just got these 2 new endorsements in, and I’m humbled and blessed that this story is touching readers’ hearts so powerfully.

“A deeply moving, even life-changing book, Northkill brings an actual event in American history to life with such skill and poignancy I could hardly bear to read on yet could not put it down. J. M. Hochstetler and Bob Hostetler have brought the pathos and beauty of the American frontier to the page with rare authenticity and depth, crafting a story from their family legacy that will stay with you long after you finish. This historical novel is among the finest I have ever read.” —Laura Frantz, Christy Award finalist and author of The Frontiersman’s Daughter and Love’s Reckoning

Northkill by Bob Hostetler and J. M. Hochstetler is a beautifully poignant tale as deep and varied as the frontier upon which it’s set. Remarkable characters facing extraordinary tests of courage and faith make this story a MUST read!” —Elizabeth Ludwig, author of No Safe Harbor

Many thanks to Laura and Lisa for taking time out of their busy schedules to read Northkill, and for their very kind endorsements. Bob and I know that everything that is good in this story is from the Lord, and we praise his name for entrusting us with putting it into words.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Final Edit and Map

I’m currently doing the final edit on the Northkill draft, which means melding Bob’s edit with mine so we don’t end up with a patchwork of two different styles, voices, and sensibilities. Thankfully, having so many years of experience as a professional editor and historical fiction writer behind me makes things easier. With the holidays at hand and the hard deadline for ordering the proof barreling down on me at warp speed . . . well, let’s just say I’m a wee bit stressed.

A complicating factor is that I’m working with my illustrator, Jim Brown, at the same time to create the map that will go into the book. He’s a true professional and a pleasure to work with, btw. He’s created all of my maps, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. Map making can be an arduous process, however, especially when you’re recreating a true story from a long-ago period and are limited by extant maps and accounts. But serendipity netted us the perfect map to work from, as I shared in a previous post. Along with the maps of ancient Indian trails I found, it will allow us to recreate the route the survivors most likely took when they were carried into captivity. It’s going to be as accurate as it’s possible to make it.

On top of everything else, I still have to figure out what I want to include in the appendix. We have a rough draft, but that will undoubtedly have to be cut down. I’m compiling the glossary as I go along, which has been speeded by the existing appendices from my American Patriot Series, and that will be complete when I finish the final edit.

We are on track to release the print edition on March 1 and should have the e-book editions available early in February. I’ll include links for those here as soon as I have them. Meanwhile, the print edition can be preordered from Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and Barnes and Noble. Or you can reserve a copy from me directly. Just leave a comment here with your email addy and I’ll get in touch with you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Colonel Henry Bouquet
The following is the text of our ancestor Jacob’s deposition, carried out by British Colonel Henry Bouquet on May 30, 1758. Jacob had just escaped from behind the French lines and possessed military intelligence that was valuable to the British military, thus their interest in what he could tell them.

You’ll note that the spelling of Jacob’s name is wrong in this record, probably due to the language barrier. The Hochstetler name appears in a variety of different forms in the records of the day. This John Hochstattler most certainly was Jacob, however, because the details he gives so closely follow the story handed down by the family and aren’t consistent with any other attack during that period. We know from contemporary records that some of the other information in the preface is also incorrect, such as the date of the attack, which happened toward the end of September. Unusual spellings and French accent marks on some words may indicate a transcriber of French descent; Bouquet himself was Swiss and spoke French. Editorial information is shown within brackets.

Bouquet mentioned Jacob in a letter he wrote to his commander, General John Forbes, and called him a “German peasant” who is “very stupid, and speaks only rude German.” The description isn’t surprising since Bouquet was highly unsympathetic to the Swiss Germans who refused to bear arms, and his letters characteristically expressed disgust at having to protect people who won’t protect themselves. However, Jacob’s account of his ordeal and what he observed during his captivity among the Seneca is riveting and a testimony to his intelligence, resourcefulness, endurance, and faith.

Intelligence given by John Hochstattler a Swiss by nation which settled in Bergs County, Berner Township, near Kauffman’s Creek was taken by the enemy Indians the 12th of October 1757 and escap’d from them arriving at Shamokin 5th May 1758. [Shamokin was a former Indian Village at the junction of the north and west branches of the Susquehanna River, at the present site of Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pa. Fort Augusta was erected there by Pa. in 1756].

Q. By what, and how many Indians were you taken?

A. By the Delaware and Shawanese 15 in the whole.

Q. Which way did you pas’d before you came into the enemys country?

A. We march’d 3 days before we arrived at the Est branch of Susquahanna 20 miles from Shamokin where it was fordable, from there we keept entirely west all along the west branch, till after 17 days journey we arrived on the Ohio.

Q. In what place on the Ohio do you arrivd?

A. Where the French Creek empties in to Ohio there upon the corner is a small fort [Fort Mechault built by the French in 1756] established lately, of logs, framed together, there are 25 men garrisoned in it, without artillery, there we passed the Ohio for to come by it, the place is call Wenango. [Venango, a former Indian village and important trading post at the mouth of French Creek, the present site of Franklin, Venango Co., Pa.]

Q. How do you proceed further?

A. Up the French Creek 3 days traveling on Battoes at the end of it we came to a fort [Fort LeBoeuf built by the French in 1753 at present day Waterford, Erie Co. Pa.] built in the same manner as the other, and garrisoned with 25 men, from there the French Creek a Road to Presque Isle [Fort Presque Isle built by the French in 1753 located west of the mouth of Mill Creek and a little east of the foot of Parade Street in Erie, Pa.], which is a days journey from it distant.

Q. What became of you after that?

A. After 3 days travel East south East, I was brought to Buxotons Creek [Buxotons is another spelling of Buckaloons, one of the names given to Brokenstraw Creek and to the village at its mouth near present Irvine, Pa.] where it emptys in the Ohio we came to an Indian castle which lys upon the corner of it, there I was kept prisoner all the that time.

Q. Do you ever hear anything of Fort DuQuesne?

A. Ten days before I escaped five Dutch prisoners was brought up by the Indians from there which told me there was 300 man garrisond in Fort du Quesne, the provision scarce, so that the Indians was oblichd to bring away their womans and famelys which they generally left there, for to be nourish’d in their absence.

Q. Are there any works about besyts the Fort jous heard of?
A. The same people told me that there was a Dutchman prisoner for 3 years in the Fort, a baker by trade, which shewd them a hill, at the opposite Fort over the Monungahela, telling them if the English was there that they could certainly take the Fort with 200 man because the French had nothing upon it.

Q.Do you never heard what canons the French had there.

A. Yes I heard several but all dismounted.

Q. Do you never learnd if the Indians recevd Order for marching against us?

A. 5 days before I escape an old Indian was telling to me shewing against all parts of the world, that Indians was coming there and then he shewed about East south East, telling that the would attack the English there, which I did imagine that it was intended for Shamokin.

Q. Do you ever learn from how the French got intelligence of?

A. 6 weeks before my departing there came 2 Delaware Indians telling that they came from Shamoking that the Comandat took their arms from them not trusting, and that the English was drawing together about Conostoge [Conestoga about seven miles south of Lancaster near present Millersville] or Lancaster, paying up a great deal of cattle, that they desind to attack the great Fort du Quesne and the was waiting till the grass was groan.

Q. How do you escapd from there, how long and in what maner do jou was coming, and where did you arrive?

A. I got the liberty for hunting, one morning Wery soon took my gun finding bark canoe on the river wherein I crossd it, traveling East for 6 days from there I arrvd at the source of the west branch, there I march for 4 days further till I was sure of it, there I took several bloks tying them together till I got a flott, there I flotted myself down the River for 5 days where I did arrive at Shamokin, living all time upon grass I passd in the whole for 15 days.

From The Papers of Henry Bouquet,1972, Vol I, pp. 391-393. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Another Endorsement

I intended to post our ancestor Jacob’s deposition by the British after his escape from captivity next. But last week I got in another lovely endorsement, so I thought I’d share it first.

This one is from Jocelyn Green, author of the Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War series. I read her first novel, Widow of Gettysburg, which is very absorbing, and I can testify that she’s an amazing writer! My brain is overloaded at the moment, but I'm eagerly looking forward to tucking into Book 2, Wedded to War, as soon as I finally get Northkill off my desk and to the printer.

Here’s Jocelyn’s endorsement.

“A masterpiece. Northkill stole my breath and my heart. With expert skill, the authors blend nail-biting suspense, blood-pumping drama and heartbreaking history into a tale that will both haunt and inspire. A book this rich and multi-dimensional deserves to be read more than once. The second book in the series can’t come quickly enough for me!”

Thank you so much, Jocelyn!

Jacob’s deposition is scheduled to post tomorrow, so be sure to check back. I think you’ll find it quite gripping.

Monday, December 16, 2013

First Endorsement

Bob and I recently sent out advance copies of Northkill to potential endorsers, and I can’t resist sharing the first one, just received today! It’s from my good friend Lori Benton, a new author whose debut novel, Burning Sky, is amazing and a must-read for all of us historical fiction readers! Her second novel, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, releases in April 2014, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Here’s Lori’s review.

“A riveting tale based closely on the life of the authors’ eighteenth-century Amish ancestors during the French and Indian war, Northkill kept me up nights unable to stop reading. The terror, grief, and peril faced by Jakob Hochstetler and his extended family and community are unflinchingly portrayed. Some cling to the hope that even through the most tragic and bewildering of circumstances a loving God has not abandoned them. Others struggle with doubt. Every character’s journey rings with authenticity. I look forward to the conclusion of this thrilling and absorbing story with great anticipation.”
—Lori Benton, author of Burning Sky 

Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement, Lori!

In my next post I’m going to share the British deposition of our ancestor when he was found half dead of starvation after his escape from the Seneca in May 1758. It’s included in Beth Hostetler Mark’s book Our Flesh and Blood (1993) and was found in the papers of the British colonel who interrogated him: The Papers of Henry Bouquet,1972, Vol I, pp. 391-393.