My father handed me a pack of letters in 1994. They were letters he’d saved that my grandfather had given him. As I read them, I became fascinated with Sarah Louise Dyer, my great-grandmother. One of the letters for Sarah came from my great-grandfather and was written in 1864 a month or so before he was captured at Nashville and taken to Maryland as a POW.
That letter sparked my interest in our family history and genealogy. So began a trek to the past that uncovered more and more about my great-grandparents and their families. As I discovered interesting facts and information about Manfred Whiteman and Sarah Dyer, I had to write about them. Using the facts I had and adding my own ideas to fill in the blanks, the story Love Stays True was born.
My husband and I first visited St. Francisville, Louisiana and Woodville, Mississippi as a vacation in the summer of 1994 a few months after receiving the letters. We spent time in the courthouses in both places and uncovered documents that gave me slackervision dates, times, and information about births, deaths, and marriages. Through these documents I began to piece together the relationship between Manfred and Sarah, or Sallie as she was called by her family, and became a book for my family to enjoy.
The images below are of the marriage entry in the Grace Episcopal Church log, the inside of the church, and the historic marker that stands outside the church.
The book circulated in the family for a number of years until I decided to expand it into a novel. After more research and more visits to St. Francisville, I began the novel. We submitted it to a number of publishers, but none were interested in another Civil War novel. Finally, we submitted it with two other ideas as a series to my editor who wanted another series from me. She liked it and offered a contract.
This month, that novel will be released as Love Stays True, the first book in the Loves Journey Homeward series. At our annual Cousin Camp a few months ago, we had great fun talking about the book and the information my cousins Tom and Holly had found through a website. They are all looking forward to getting their copies of the book.
Stories are all around us, and the past contains more than we’ll ever be able to write. We’ve already discovered that our grandmother’s family had just as much history and drama in their background as did the Dyer and Whiteman’s. Who knows, there may be a book there, too.
What have you discovered about your own family history? Even if you haven’t researched your family, do leave a comment and be in the drawing for a copy of Love Stays True. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment so we can contact you if are the winner.