Have any of you ever incorporated your family history into your writing? Do you like to read books that are based, however loosely, on factual happenings?

My mom was the oldest of eleven children. She knew everyone in our family and how they were related. Because she and my dad grew up together in a tiny little town in southeast Oklahoma (their high school had a graduating class of twelve), she also knew quite a lot about his side of the family as well.

But when I was younger, I was not interested in the stories she told me.  It was only later, when I was grown and had children of my own, that I began to wonder and ask questions, and by that time, her memory had already begun to decline.

 If you have ever read the book, The Education of Little Tree, (by Forrest Carter) or seen the HBO movie, this story might sound familiar. When Andrew Jackson decided that the Indians were to be assimilated into the white man’s world, he put lots of plans into action that would take years to snowball and evolve into what they eventually became—a truly shameful period in the US governmental policies and procedures. One of Jackson’s plans, besides Removal, that was carried through into subsequent presidencies, was the idea of assimilating Native American children in white homes to integrate them more completely. The Native American children were taken from their villages and given to willing white families (along with a tidy little government stipend for their troubles) to raise.

 My great-great-great grandfather was one of these children.  We don’t know his real name. It was changed when he was delivered to his new “family”, a Presbyterian minister and his wife.  Their last name was Walls.  So his name was changed to Walls, and he was given the first name, David. Forbidden to speak his language, he was forced to forget all the ways of his People, and dress in white man’s clothing, go to white school.  But he was never going to be white, and his place in the world was divided so drastically that he could not fit in anywhere.  Eventually, the Rev. Walls sent David to medical school in Missouri.  When he returned to the small town where he’d been raised, he was a doctor who rode to his patients on horseback. Later, he married and had children, but it was not a happy union and his son, my great-great grandfather, became an alcoholic whose own children, in turn, left home as soon as they possibly could. My great grandmother, his daughter, married at 13.  Her older sister left home one day and never returned.  No one ever knew what became of her.

I’ve often thought of these children that were abducted by our cavalrymen, and taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt everything new and different, even their speech and childhood games. Can you imagine it?  To never be allowed to see your mother and father again. Siblings separated and “given” to different families, their heritage and connection with one another lost forever.  How many tears must they have shed? And how lonely and separate they must have felt, how isolated,  even into adulthood…so that most of them, I imagine, never were able to fit in anywhere in the world.

 My story in the 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION, available through Victory Tales Press, is based loosely on what happened to my long-ago ancestor  

Dr. Shay Logan has just returned to Talihina, Indian Territory, from medical school in Missouri. Shay hopes to settle down and make a life for himself, but how?  He doesn’t belong to either world, Anglo or Indian He’s made the acquaintance of Katrina Whitworth at the July 4th town social, and the attraction is mutual from the very beginning. Shay begins to have hopes and dreams that may be out of the question…but Katrina seems to have stars in her eyes for him as well. Will she risk everything to be with him?   Katrina makes a social blunder, and Shay follows her into the woods to apologize to her, but when they return, Katrina’s drunken father humiliates her.  To make matters worse, her former beau shows a side of himself she had not seen before. Can Katrina and Shay have a life together that they so badly want? Here’s an excerpt for you.


As his hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’Shay.”  He spit the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face.  “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”




Here’s the link at Amazon:


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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
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22 thoughts on “ONE MAGIC NIGHT from A 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION”

  1. Wow, Cheryl, you’re going to keep me in great anthologies all summer! This looks like another winner.

    One of my favorite books, CHILDREN OF THE DUST deals with the integration program you mentioned. Some things in our history are just shameful. And heartbreaking for those it touched directly.

    I enjoy weaving actual events into my writings even including walk-ons by historical figures. I also love using some of my family’s history in my stories. Luckily, I had the opportunity to hear my history from both my grandmothers, and I found out that both lived fascinating lives. One relative I’m currently writing a story around is my great grandmother who rode in the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush with her brother (she outrode him and claimed the land for their family). They were both trick riders and he went on to perform in Buffalo Bill Cody’s show; he’ll have his own story.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful story, Cheryl. You know I’m a fan of your writing style.
    I witnessed a modern version of the Native American assimilation. Navajo children from Arizona were brought to Utah to go to school. There was a big Indian boarding school in NE UTah, now closed. But they were also brought to southern Utah, where they lived in a dormitory. I went to school with some of them. My mom, a second grade teacher, used to bring three little Navajo girls from her class home for dinner. They taught her to make fry bread. Beautiful children but so homesick. Very glad they have their own schools on the reservation now.

  3. Your fascinating post today resounded with me. I think that these family stories and family history is important to listen and and be aware of. Unfortunately when we were younger we didn’t realize that and I regret not asking about the background and learning more. Best wishes and much success.

  4. I have just found cassette tapes of my grandfather telling things I did not know before. I shall treasure these stories. It is so unfortunate that we wait to long to gather stories from those before.

    The stories of the Native Americans has always touched my heart and it cries for what was lost because of how they were treated.

  5. Hi Cheryl, My grandmother talked about writing down family history pre-1900, but she never did. I only know my great great grandparents traveled in a covered wagon at some point, to Texas. We lose so much history, and now that letters aren’t as common, we’ll lose even more. Then again, if we preserve family blogs, etc., we’ll have more info than we can handle.

    Your story sounds wonderful, btw!

  6. Cheryl, how interesting that you know this slice of family history. I know what you mean about losing history before we’re old enough or smart enough to know it’s important.
    You know many, many Native children still go to boarding school, they are far removed from their families and only come home maybe three times during the school year.
    I suppose now it’s all done with parental approval.

  7. Oh, I loved the excerpt. Isn’t it just amazing what some people do “for your own good.” So sad. I always thought history was wasted on the young. I think it takes a while to actually appreicate all that has gone before you and how many times it’s too late. I know some of my family history, but I wish I knew more.

  8. Great post! This book sounds fantastic, would love to read it. I think family history and stories from our past are very important. Of course when I was younger I didn’t really pay that much attention to those stories, so I don’t really remember much about them. I guess that’s the way it usually goes. Thanks for sharing your book with us.

    ghurt110 AT bellsouth DOT net

  9. There is so much that I do not know about my family history… wish it was written down or that I paid closer attention to some of the details that were shared years ago… probably some real interesting things that would have made a great story!

  10. Great post! I loved the excerpt. I’m looking forward to reading this story. Cheryl, I think its neat that you know this about your family history. I wish my aunts and uncles paid more attention to my grandfather and his stories. I have done some genealogy research and have run into a brick wall dealing with my grandfather’s side of the family. You just never know what you might learn about family history. I wish I knew more about mine.

  11. Looking forward to reading this anthology!
    Thanks for sharing your family history with
    us today!

    Pat Cochran

  12. Interesting post. I don’t know very much about either side of my family. Could never get them to talk about it.

  13. Interesting article. When I taught Home Economics in the Phoenix area, I taught several girls off the Navajo rez and they were beautiful sewers. They seldom talked in class and were very quiet. However, I could tell when I complemented them on their beautiful work, they were pleased.

  14. Hey, everyone!

    I normally answer everyone’s comments individually, but we are on the road going from OK to WV for a family reunion. The hotel internet leaves MUCH to be desired, and we have been fighting with it for a couple of hours. It’s up now, but not sure for how long, so I am going to say THANK YOU to everyone who dropped by today and thanks for all your comments. This story, ONE MAGIC NIGHT, means a lot to me as you all know, and I’m so glad to be able to give Shay and Katrina a beautiful future together, full of hope and love, that all started on ONE MAGIC NIGHT. My winners for this anthology will be announced shortly, but I will not be able to award your prizes until next week when I get home. Thanks again to ALL OF YOU for dropping by and commenting.

    ANNE AND BECKY!!!!! If you all will please send me your email addresses I will be glad to forward your prizes to you next Wed. or Thurs. when I get home. Thanks again to all for coming by and commenting!

  16. I can remember growing up in Arizona along in the 50’s and prior to those years there was a Phoenix Indian School where children from the northern part of the state came to go to school…I can remember their band marching in the parades and they always had good football teams…It hasn’t been in existence for a long time. I’m sure it was a hardship for the children being away from their parents for so long a time.

  17. Enjoyed the excerpt. If the other stories are as good, it will be an anthology I’ll have to have.
    I had know about the schools where indian children were sent to learn the ways of the whites, but I didn’t realize they had also been taken away and placed with white families to be assimilated.
    I had to smile at the paragraph that followed ” taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt everything new and different, even their speech and childhood games. Can you imagine it? ” This had been done by the indians for generations. They would take captives to replace family members who had been lost. These people suffered the same exact situation the indian children faced with the white families. INDIAN CAPTIVE by Kathryn Lasky gives an excellent example of this. As with the indian children taken, white captives often found themselves no longer a part of their society. The indians did accept the whites more fully as members of their society than indians were accepted as members of white society. Being taken from those you love and surrounded by a way of life that is so very different is always difficult. Some adjust, others never do.

    I am not supporting the practice you mentioned or the indian schools. They were a terribly destructive attempt to change a people and culture that was not understood or appreciated. Hopefully we have all learned from that action and the terrible results that affect people even today.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

    Congratulations, Anne and Becky.

  18. Cheryl,
    I notice this book is available in Kindle form only. I do not yet have an e-reader and have been looking at the NOOK. Will it be available in other e-forms or at some point be available in print form?

  19. Patricia,
    THANK YOU so much for your very insightful comments. I always enjoy reading your thoughtful comments. It makes me think! I have internet right now! LOL Yes, all these anthologies are available at Amazon, Smashwords, and the Victory Tales Press site in print form, and they should be available for the Nook-will make sure of that for you, if you will send me your e-mail addy, I’ll respond when I find out from Rebecca all the particulars. Here’s mine:
    Thank you again!

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