Where Has All the History Gone?

“Where has all the history gone? Long time passing…

Where has all the history gone? Long time ago….”  (parody, Peter, Paul and Mary “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”)

I’m wearing a mix of hats today! My history-loving bonnet AND a modern day cowboy hat because this upcoming Love Inspired book is a contemporary Western romance with a great, tough heroine and a SWOON-WORTHY hero… that I hope you love!!!!

We live in different times.

When I look at middle grade and junior high history lessons now, they are very different from what I was taught… what my kids were taught… and what my grandchildren and friends’ children now see.

History is history. But it can be viewed through varied perspectives.

It is rife with mistakes, horror, trials and triumph. It is never one-sided. From the earliest written times and the earliest Biblical references, man has been as inclined to sin as the sparks to fly upward.

People lust for power. For sex. For money. And for some it is never enough, the head rush of being powerful, sexual and rich only adds oxygen to an already fuel-rich fire… and they want more.

That said, there are other sides to history as well. 

My Celtic heritage on the Logan side faced rough odds. For nearly nine centuries the Vikings ruled Ireland after defeating the Celts in the first century A.D. 900 years + or -…. When the Irish king Brian Boru waged a successful battle against them, the Viking power over Ireland was razed, but then came the Normans…. and centuries of English domination and rule when Irish land was taken from the Irish and doled out to English landowners… and the Irish pushed to less fertile lands or turned into share-holders. From Cromwell’s reign of terror from 1649 on, Irish Catholics were slaughtered, tortured and jailed and/or excised from their lands. A few generations later came the potato famine, a scourge that starved a nation but pushed many to a new opportunity, here in America or Australia.

Ireland wasn’t the only country that England claimed and re-distributed, of course. Our own America was formed in some large part by land grants given to English aristocrats. There was no or little thought given to the American Indians/Native Americans because the idea of “owning” land and distributing it through a legal process wasn’t part of their culture.

 

An ocean apart, and huge differences in formation of culture, science, language, mathematics… So when America “bought” the west in the Louisiana purchase, it seemed normal to the government. This had been the European model for hundreds and hundreds of years. 

Of course it didn’t seem one bit normal to the Natives occupying American prairies or mountains or woodlands, did it? 

It was an abomination. A threat.  Much like Ireland and other countries that were invaded and taken over by expansionist nations, their claims fell on the deaf ears of the more powerful.

Studying history, we can see the both sides…. Downton Abbey, one of the most watched and loved shows on modern TV showed the ups and downs of a prestigious English family as their days waned in light of a rising middle class. But those same rich people, hundreds of years before, helped fund expeditions to new lands and opened travel and opportunity, the very beginning that forged our land. America. The United States… and then we fought for that freedom and did the unthinkable…

WE WON.

And began our western expansion a few dozen years later.

Writing a modern-day Western with Native American characters isn’t easy. I tackled this in “Healing the Cowboy’s Heart”, my upcoming release from Love Inspired books…. how a Nez Perce family that chose land instead of the reservation (an option offered and chosen by some) can feel out of step with the past, and at odds with the present when the land they owned and sold is now worth millions…

And did you know that the Nez Perce tribe (a total misnomer because they never had pierced noses…) embraced the Christian faith quickly because they believed in one God, the Father Almighty already… So immersing themselves into the Christian faith didn’t require a leap… but giving up their land, their autonomy was a really hard thing to do. And like Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” where young girls drive a dynamic that kills innocent people, young warriors launched an attack that resulted in a tragic war between the American army and the Nez Perce… A tragic story spawned by foolhardy, angry teens.

The American West is an ever-changing dynamic, but even so, romance and families and faith and cowboys make up a lot of that dynamic. There is something downright good about working the land and forging a life from it… and yes, there are winners and losers in war. There are things that happen that should never have happened. There is a cruelty in some men that can sicken the normal loving, caring person. But when we look and see that is the exception– not the rule– that’s when we realize we can learn from history. We should study history. And we should take and open view…

But we shouldn’t change history to fit our current narrative.

For every teacher that decries the explorers that first crossed the ocean, there’s a home they go to. An address they claim. A house or an apartment and a car or a subway or something linking them to the USA.

Without that history, those explorers, those navigators and those aristocratic land grants and land purchases, we wouldn’t exist here today.

Someone would.

Once discovered, it was clear that powerful countries would have their day and their say in this new land. History does that… it repeats itself quite often, so telling this story of a Nez Perce hero, a man whose work and passion is to re-develop the beloved and esteemed Appaloosa the Nez Perce made famous… and the horse doctor whose family bought up land… land that is now worth millions… and the anger that simmers over old wrongs and tragic mistakes.

This is what I hope when readers enjoy this story… that they’ll see a beautiful romance! A great love story. A story that makes them sigh, smile, and sigh some more. Here’s a link to this upcoming book on Amazon:  HEALING THE COWBOY’S HEART BY RUTH LOGAN HERNE

I’m giving away two copies today (when they arrive on my doorstep) so that you can read the book and offer your opinion, dear readers… I hope what you see is a well-told modern story where the past can trip the heels of the present, but where faith, hope and love stand strong.

What’s your take on history, friends? I’m on the road today, traveling to Baltimore for the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat, so I might not get on until later… But everyone who comments will be in the drawing for these two “Win ’em before you can buy ’em” books!

 

Ruth Logan Herne
Multi-published, bestselling, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne lives on a small farm in Western New York surrounded by grown kids, cute grandkids, cats, dogs, chickens, frogs, toads and snakes. That's why writing Westerns doesn't scare her. Not one smidge. Because she's surrounded by critters of all sorts, and has been known to teach lessons on snakes as available... She started writing Westerns by accident/invitation, and L-O-V-E-D it... matched with her love for both historicals and contemporaries, Ruthy's working on a new Western series for Love Inspired, New England mysteries for Guideposts and her historical Westerns for the indie market in 2018. She loves God, her family, her country and absolutely, positively loves what she does!

41 Comments

  1. Ruth- You be safe traveling and have a great time. I love history and I find it very intriguing. It’s hard to wrap my mind around that it was just a little over 100 years ago that the West was being settled and the Native American’s were being treated so poorly with their land and buffalo shrinking right out from under them. I say we’ve come a long way, Baby is a huge understatement.
    Your book sounds intriguing thank you for the chance to win.
    Bless you and yours.

    1. Avatar

      That is crazy to think about, we have come a long long way from 100 to 200 years ago. It’s very strange to think about! It makes me wish I could see what the world has come to in another 100 years!

    2. Hey, Tonya! I’m tucked in a Baltimore hotel and yawning but a great trip down here… we stopped at a really cute outlet mall in Maryland and then at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton shrine which happens to be next door to the National Emergency Training Center…. So we can pray for rescuers!!!!

      We have come a long way, for certain… and every time I write a character that’s off my beaten path… someone with a disability or PTSD or a different ethnicity, I want to be true to that person’s heritage but also true to the common sense of the situation and not make big deals where none needs to exist. It’s a fine line some days.

  2. I love History especially the 1800s. Things happen for a reason for us to learn from and improve life from and maybe not let mistakes happen over and over again!!
    Your books sounds wonderful.
    Have safe travels

    1. Thank you, Glenda!!!!

  3. Safe travels and enjoy your retreat. I love reading books with history. It takes me to places I cannot go otherwise.

    1. Debra, exactly. And even though we can’t go back in time, I hate to see history twisted around into something it wasn’t or worse… to have only one perspective on any of it. Because we all know that there were many points of view on life-changing events… and that perspective is what makes a story come alive.

  4. Avatar

    I love history and I’ve learned more from HWR authors than I ever did in a history class! Your book sounds wonderful and I’d love the opportunity to read it! Enjoy your retreat!

    1. Hi, Steph!!! We’re here and what a beautiful day for driving!

      I agree, there’s something wonderful about the setting of history in fiction that makes it stick better in our brains. I often look at the urge toward “paperless” for schools, and I heartily disapprove because for most of us to retain memories, they have to engage multiple senses… so anything that’s done simply visually on screen, has a much lower chance of being remembered or ever being put to use.

      But when it’s put into story context, we can remember details decades later because we engage and react with the characters. Modern stuff gets silly sometimes!

  5. I enjoy history and always have I think that is why I enjoy the historical romance so much love the western ones the most.

    1. I’m so glad! Me, too!!! Although I love writing contemporaries, too.

  6. I think history is important so that mistakes are not repeated.

    1. Kim, I agree. And in so doing, of course, I famously make mistakes I shouldn’t make!

      I think so much of the chronic do-overs is because of power-hungry people with little faith basis. That lust and urge to want more, more more… and never satisfied. That’s a nest of trouble right there.

  7. I enjoy reading history. Learning about how my and other countries evolved into the way they are now.

    1. Estella, I’ve never found history boring because in my head I always envisioned the people. What they were doing. Burying their dead… trudging on… dancing at fancy balls! That drew me back into that time period and so more of the lesson stuck with me…. writing stories in my head, Estella…. 🙂 Even then!

  8. Ruthy, SO much meat in this post. I enjoy reading historicals because I learn so much, everything from how people made dinner in a certain period to the root causes for a war, as in World War I was a fertile breeding ground for World War II. There’s a richness to a well-done historical novel. And as a writer, I can’t stay away from history. There’s a story for every person who stepped out on the Oregon Trail…raced to stake a claim in the Land Rush…stood for justice in the Civil War…defied Hitler in the struggle that defined the 20th century. Right now I’m researching for a novel set in the Old West and amazed and humbled at what our forefathers did there. My challenge will be what to leave out.
    Kathy Bailey

    1. Kathy, I feel the same way. I am such a slug compared to what those amazing people did. And I would like to think I’d muscle up, but I’m almost okay with not finding out that I might be a TOTAL FAILURE!!!!!

  9. I much prefer reading historical romances to contemporary novels filled with social technology. Although there were plenty of “bad” people back then, it seems a time when people cared more about family and heroes had more respect for ladies. I also like learning the history of places too. My daughter has the American Girl doll, Kaya, who is Nez Perce, and all of her books.

    1. Linda, I didn’t know that Kaya was a Nez Perce doll…. I can buy it and claim it as a tax deduction! 🙂

      I love that toys and playing can bring things alive for kids, that it helps them understand and remember things. I like to give the grandkids books about heroes whose lives were different… Jackie Robinson is a big hero in our house, and Jesse Owens because seeing blacks break that color barrier and knowing what they went through is amazing…

      And the story of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe (I shall fight no more forever) is heartbreaking… and the treatment of those people after they were gathered up just 40 miles south of the Canadian border was heartless…

      We had a long way to go toward civilized behaviors but I think we’ve improved. Tolerance and love are wonderful things.

  10. Safe travels. Very thoughtful post. I enjoyed it a lot. I agree with you about history. It has already happened, and we can learn much from studying it. But we shouldn’t rewrite it or interpret it always with today’s view. We need to realize as you say that what happened in the past led us to where we are today.

    I look forward to the release of Healing the Cowboy’s Heart!

    1. Thank you, Sally. I hope you love it when you get it. Such a nice story of two strong people and tough extenuating circumstances. But then, that’s how valor wins the day, right? It’s always that fine line between telling the story as a pasty white girl who’s never had a door closed in her face and still being true to the reality that others face without making THAT the focus of the story unless it’s supposed to be the focus of the story…

      If you follow that sleepy drift!

  11. Prayers for safety in your travels. What a wonderful post. I love history. There is so much we can learn. Our son, lived and breathed history his whole life, still does. He got his bachelors and masters in history. He and his wife, reenacts four different eras.
    I have this book on my to buy list now. Thanks.

    1. Oh, re-enactments are so much fun! I’ve never been part of one but my daughter did them with my sister-in-law’s family and she had a great time. I made her a dress and an apron and a cap…. She looked adorable! 🙂 Spoken like a true mama!!!!

      And you have history lovers, too. How cool that they found each other, Lori!

  12. History was my favorite subject in school and it is still my favorite thing to learn about 40 years later! I was thrilled when my youngest daughter decided to become a US history teacher for high school students. So many fascinating things to learn Our country has made a lot of mistakes over the years but we’ve had some great people too! I look forward to reading your book!

    1. Valri, I agree on all counts. Although, I add English and math into my faves… there is something so absolutely satisfying about numbers. Numbers aren’t subjective. There’s only one right answer!!!! That always made me happy because no one could take off credit if you got that one right answer. 🙂

      But I do love history and writing together. Although this book is a contemporary, its roots are in that Last Indian War, and the choices made three generations ago… choices that then affected people in different ways. I hope the book shows that the choices left to Charlotte, with her crooked father and boatload of debt, were also narrowed and that folks love her gumption at just getting on with life.

  13. History is history and it can’t be changed! Or it shouldn’t be changed! It is to be reflected upon and learned from. Thank you for your great post!

    1. Melanie, how are you? I love your line “It is to be reflected upon and learned from.”

      Pure wisdom. Thank you!

  14. Wow, so , so very interesting! The books sound awesome! Would you believe History was not one of my favorite subjects in school, well, now all the fiction novels and novellas out there makes History a really good subject, I have always said books and movies wee made for a reason and there is a lot of truth in them. Thank you so much for making history so interesting, I guess the older i get the more I appreciate History. 🙂 God Bless you.

    1. Hi, Alicia!

      Do you think that aging and wisdom has something to do with it? That the maturing mind can be more open to the gray areas while seeing the forward-thrust of the path?

      I can envision a lot of condescending European descendants, thinking the Native American ways were uncivilized and simplistic because the European roots were deeply woven into classes and governments and ownership wrapped around people’s places in society. But then there were revolutions fought against those very levels of society, to uplift the common man and that’s part of what changed the course of our history…

      And the Native American history.

      Studying the Nez Perce opened my mind to the divisions that fell on them when people made choices to own land or be part of the reservation, and how that might have felt like betrayal… not change.

      1. Actually, yes i do , I think aging has to do a lot with it, as I age I appreciate everything a lot more also. 🙂 Have a Great Weekend. God Bless you.

  15. I feel some things in history repeat, just in another variation, even if it’s generations or centuries later.

    You’re in my neck of the woods for your retreat.

    1. Denise, really??? WAVING!!!! The retreat is put together by Annie and Carrie and Beth Erin, Christian book bloggers who bring folks together for this amazing event every year or two. I love meeting readers. It makes me happy!

  16. Enjoy your retreat! Safe travels.

    Thank you for this interesting post!

    1. Caryl, thank you!!!!

  17. We may have moved forward, but we still have injustices to the American Indians. Others also feel injustices. But, America does reward hard work, education works for some, and money has always provided privilege.

    1. Wow. You said a lot in two lines, woman!!!! Injustice rages on, unfortunately, and until we’re all ready to act and react with kindness, I’m afraid it always will. But the more we spread that faith, hope and love, the more inclined we are to make a difference.

  18. Studying history helps us understand how we got to where we are today and hopefully, we learn from past mistakes and don’t repeat them. There are so many rules and regulations that have been put on American Indian tribes over the last two hundred years most of us are not aware of them and the affects they have had. The distribution of land sometimes to individuals, sometimes to the tribes, and sometimes part of the reservations ending up in the hands of non-tribal members including whites is one of those issues. Well researched historical fiction can help us understand that time period and give us insight into some of today’s conflicts.

    This looks like a book for my need to read list.

    1. Alice, you are spot on. And we kept changing the rules, the treaties, the availability of land so why would anyone trust the government? You know we think the capriciousness of government is at an all-time high now regardless of which side of the Big Divide you’re on, but research shows that power and men and government, money and sex have led to wretched problems from the beginnings of recorded history. We can just connect over it instantly now!

      Great thoughts, Alice.

  19. What a wonderful, thoughtful post. Sadly, few people have connected the dots in their history studies, giving thought to what happened and why. If more people did, we would hopefully have a more understanding society. Too often success and good fortune have come at the expense of others. History books tended to present the facts in a rather sterile way seldom spending much time on the impact on those involved. Today, history has been edited down even more, taking personal impact further away from those studying it. Thankfully, more comes out every day about those personal impacts and we are able to see history in a very different way. Good research by those who write do us a big favor. They give us the insight on the personal level of how histories events impacted peoples lives and futures. It makes it easier to realize how longstanding resentments and social divides exist and develop. I am glad to see your recent books tackling social issues affected by history. I just started and am enjoying A COWBOY IN SHEPHERD’S CROSSING. That one deals with several issues.

    1. Oh, Patricia, I hope you love “A Cowboy in Shepherd’s Crossing”. I loved writing that story, mostly because the mix of races in the hero and heroine weren’t part of the problem… it was the past and hopes for the future that laid the groundwork of trouble for Jace and Melonie. Race was incidental.

      You made so many good points. There is no absolutism when talking about history. It’s a lot like divorce.

      My side. His side. Their side. And the inside and the outside. Each vantage point is going to see the issue differently….

      When teachers slam explorers as vicious, money-loving greedy buggers, they could be right on some scores. Men leading ships into the unknowns of the hurricane-riddled Atlantic maybe had to be strong to the breaking point to lead their crews. I don’t know… but when I tuck that aside, it wasn’t that they knowingly brought disease that would kill…

      That’s all about antibodies and genetics.

      And if they’d never voyaged, we wouldn’t be living in America.

      The risk of their lives, their crews lives, and suffering their own diseases shouldn’t be brushed off or ignored, either. Although I’m still mad that they didn’t find the Fountain of Youth!!! 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughtful insights, Patricia!

  20. Enjoyed reading your article. I always liked learning about History in school and still try to learn about it. I am a fan of The History Channel.
    I am always looking for new authors to read. Your book sounds interesting and I have added it to my TBR list.

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