Monday, December 10, 2012

The Legacy of Family

(Note from Elaine: So happy to be a part of Author Culture and looking forward to getting to know everyone here. As you will discern from my post today, I am all about family and fiction filled with history and faith. You can also now tell that I love alliteration. ;-) Thanks for allowing me to join Author Culture!) 

It was a simple excerpt from my family’s genealogy book that grabbed my attention: “Mr. Prince at fifteen years of age entered the Armory at Springfield, Mass., as an apprentice, and worked his way up to the position of inspector.”

The Armory at Springfield? What is that? 

Thus began my journey to uncover part of my family’s history that eventually unfolded to become my novel, The Legacy of Deer Run.

I knew from childhood that one of my ancestors (Daniel Prince) had been a British soldier (the enemy!) during the American Revolution. But instead of conquering the Patriot insurgents, his heart was conquered by a young colonial farmwoman named Mary. He stayed and became an American. I based my first novel, The Road to Deer Run, on their story.

Mary gave birth to twin sons in 1784 and that’s where the Mr. Prince, the Armory worker, came to my attention in the above-mentioned genealogy book. That Mr. Prince (one of the twins) was also named Daniel (Jr.) and his story is the romantic tale depicted in my recent release, The Legacy of Deer Run.

Researching the details for this book was a labor of love. It was also hard work!

Now living in the Midwest, I had to travel back to Massachusetts (my home state) for a week in the fall of 2011 and gather such facts as how muskets were made at the Armory. This is not information readily available online! The historian, Richard Colton, was most helpful in answering all my detailed questions. He patiently showed me drawings, maps, and other details that filled in the story to bring it to life for my readers.

As I gathered the facts, the fictional story began to take root in my author’s mind. I was ready to write the story of my third great-grandfather, Daniel Prince, Jr.

I think the highlight of researching this family history has been sharing it with my mom. Her name was Lucy Prince and she carried the name from generations before. But her own family story was lost to her when her birth father died in a tragic work-related accident. Her mother re-married and, unfortunately, never spoke to my mom about her birth father.

Uncovering this family history for my mom was like handing her a gift—a piece of her lost heritage. That is one of those gifts you can never put a price on.

The framed picture in the photo is of the Prince twins, Daniel and James, when they were in their 80’s. Although they look quite stern, a clipping in the Springfield newspaper—for they were quite famous as the oldest twins in America—describes them at the photo shoot as acting like boys! They both lived to be in their 90’s.

Their great-grand daughter, Lucy, apparently takes after them. She is 98. ☺

(There will be a book giveaway for my novel, The Legacy of Deer Run. I will draw one name from those that comment. Please leave your e-mail addy.)
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  1. We find story right under our noses most of the time. Thank you for paying attention to yours! Welcome to the Author Culture family. I know the sharing of your research technique and detail will help all of us grow.

  2. Thanks so much, Lisa. Never thought I would be so enamored of research but it is sort of literary archaeology! I was always fascinated by the science of digging up old dinosaur bones; I guess I dig up the "old bones" of history and bring the living story alive. You never know the paths that God will lead us on—never a dull moment in this journey of life!

  3. So wonderful that you could give this gift to your Mom! I'm almost 1/2 way through "Legacy" and loving it! The only thing holding me back is having to read it on my computer, which gets shared w/son and hubby. Maybe Santa will bring me a Kindle this year (never thought I'd want one!).

    Hope you come back for more research soon. As always, Blessings to you and yours,

  4. I would love to win!

  5. Tammy, so happy you are enjoying "Legacy!" And I hope that my travels lead me back your way again—love my home state. ;-) Maybe "Santa Baby" will bring you that much sought after kindle this year! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. O.K....

    I'm jumping in here to add my two cents. Have read "Road to Deer Run" and will be buying this one soon too, Elaine. So I'm passing on the drawing as per our CQ discussion. But I'm just going to add that your research--and the stories are something I really look forward to!

    Just wanted to add--I made a reference to Elaine's Colonial Quills anthology contribution and how it reminded me of the "Drums Along the Mohawk" story. Her characters are reminiscent of Gil and Lana Martin-- I can see Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda now! :)

  7. Pat, you are such an encourager! Thanks so much. :) If you want to read my series in order, the next book after "Road" is "The Promise of Deer Run." Hope you get to read—and enjoy—them all. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I do believe that if I win that my sister would enjoy this book.

  9. I am asking for these books for Christmas; but since they haven't been purchased yet, I might as well enter the giveaway! Thanks!

    Angela Squires

  10. I have two books which I won in a drawing...would love to add this one. Thanks for this opportunity.

  11. Elaine, how interesting it is to hear the background of your stories. I think it is fantastic that you write of your ancestors and the care and love you put into your work really shows. I loved the first two books in the series, and this latest release sounds to be just as special. Blessings on your writing!

  12. Thank you Andrea, Angela, Tammy, and Lisa! :) All of your names will be added to the drawing! Thanks so very much for coming by and commenting. :) And Lisa, so happy you enjoyed Books 1 and 2!

  13. I love heritage! What a blessing you found in your research!