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.

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26 thoughts on “FAMILY HISTORY LEADS TO LOVE STORY by Martha Rogers”

  1. Oh my what a great story. I also love the cover of Love Stays True.

    My aunt does genealogy for our family and she has found out some really neat stuff. One is the story of the The Ghosts of Longmarsh Run, The Three Wives of Christopher Beeler. It would make for a scary book I’m afraid.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of your book Martha. Thank you for the opportunity. 🙂

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. Oh my what a great story. I also love the cover of Love Stays True.

    My aunt does genealogy for our family and she has found out some really neat stuff. One is the story of the The Ghosts of Longmarsh Run, The Three Wives of Christopher Beeler. It would make for a scary book I’m afraid.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of your book Martha. Thank you for the opportunity. 🙂

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  3. Good morning, Martha, and welcome to the Junction!

    I love stories about my family. I finally convinced my grandmother to write down what she remembered about growing up on a wheat ranch in North Dakota (she was born in 1913). My sister and I typed it up just so we don’t lose iher memories and stories.

  4. I’m the family historian and have many interesting things about my family. I found out that General Anthony “Mad” Wayne is a many times cousin. He even has an interesting ghost tale to go along with him. How fun!
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  5. This is a wonderful book cover and a great story.. My dad’s cousin did our family tree and we went to a Clan Gathering in Ireland and I found out some really fascinating history about our family… I need to see if I can get some of my mother family history from my Scottish side.

  6. I’ve found out that my great, great grandfather was well known silversmith. At times I seen his work for sale but I’ve yet to buy anything. Also his wife, my great, great grandmother, was supposedly a related to John Howland who had destinction of falling overboard and being recovered from the Mayflower. However, the Mayflower Madam was supposedly related to him too.

  7. I live near St. Francisville and can’t wait to read this book. I have lived in this place all my life and love adding new stories to its history. (Did you see the tomb where the yellow fever victims were put in the cemetery?)

  8. Martha, welcome to P&P! We’re thrilled to have you come spend the weekend with us. I think family history can sure influence the characters we create and the stories that come to us. I’ve used several family members in my stories. But, I’ve never directly took actual family history before. How neat. It’s a great idea.

    Wishing you lots of luck with your stories.

  9. Happy Mothers’ Day! I haven’t done any research into my family history.
    Your new series sounds wonderful! I’d love to win a copy of Love Stays True!

  10. Martha, What a delightful and interesting post. Family history is fascinating and my cousin who is working on this sends me updates.

  11. Your book sounds special and unique. I treasure every bit of family history that I find and learn about.

  12. Love Stays True would be a book which I would enjoy greatly. More about family background and history is important and I would give this to my descendants. Sometimes we realize that family history which is available for us is ignored until too late.

  13. Your post is very interesting. It is so nice that you got to visit and get information about your family history. I have not researched my family although my sister talks about starting it someday. I’ll be adding your book to my to be read list.
    cindyandbreanna at bell dot net

  14. I am captivated with Love Stays True and your thoughts which ring true. Family, background and family history is what matter and what we pass on and leave our family with. I feel they should understand and know where they fit into the scheme of things. My late mother was a pro in this area and many others.

  15. Sue, yes, we saw the graves for the Yellow Fever victims as well as the tomb at Grace Church for the navy captain who died and stopped the war to have a Masonic burial in St. Francisville. My ancestors are buried at Grace church also.

    My husband’s brother and our son have researched the Rogers side of the family and have gone back to the 17th century with some fascinating details. Also discovered that my husband’s grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee his grandfather married right off the reservation.

  16. What a great story! I can’t say I know a lot about my family history. I guess I didn’t pay a lot of attention when family members were saying things or I just forget. I love the cover of your book and I would love to read it.

    quiltlady110 AT gmail DOT com

  17. I am lucky that I have several genealogy buffs on both sides of my family and at minimum we have a book of marriages, births, and deaths that go back at least a couple of generations. One of my dad’s cousins is currently working on a book to tell the tale of when our ancestors came over from Switzerland. I am so looking forward to getting caught up on how this project is going during our annual reunion this summer. The older I get, the more I like history and family history is even more interesting. I only wish I could ask questions of the folks who came before us.

  18. How wonderful that you have been able to find out so much about your family. As a writer, it has provided you with several good ideas to spark good story lines. We all have great stories in our family histories, but not many have been lucky enough to have had a good family history done.
    Unfortunately, older generations are no longer with us. Few had the inclination to write down family stories, and most of us thought too late to ask and record them. My brother has spent the last 10 years or so researching and recording our family’s genealogy. He has published several books and continues to find new information. One thing he discovered was one of the great-great…grandmothers was a Fille du roi, one of the women sent to colonial New France to marry the soldiers and populate the settlement. There are also many stories of my grandfather and his family’s participation in rum running during Prohibition.

  19. I must have this book…it sounds fasinating. Family members have been searching out our family history, finding many very interesting things. We have letters written by my grandfather shortly after arriving in the United States from Denmark that have been very interesting. I also have copies of interviews that he had done with a radio station which are very informative and great to have. I love listening to his voice. I also have a tape made of his eleven children and him visiting about their childhoods.

    The other side has finally been traced further than ever before finding the name and nationality of my great grandfather as Native American. This had never been known as fact before.

  20. I don’t know much about my familie’s history. A nephew does the geneology so he did some on the family, but the part I have online doesn’t say about there lives, except some fought in the civil war. Om great granddad on daddy’s side is buried in a small TX. town, Kosse about 4 hr. from Hpuston. I did know my grandmothers 5 sisters, and granddads 3 sisters. My mom lost her mom when she was only 5 yr. olds, so all I ever found out about her mom was that. I knew that grandmas only sister , but at the time I was around there didn’t even think to talk to her and get information. Now, I wish I had. I have a daughter-in-law that is trying to find the geneology of them for me.
    It’s really good that you were able to find all you did. I would love to win your book. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com


  21. What a wonderful post, it was very interesting. My son has been researching family history, he is fascinated with the subject.

  22. This sounds fascinating! I’ve gotten some information from family members that have done some research, but I want to find out a lot more and see how far back I can go. shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

  23. Recently my brother came across newspaper articles dating way back to the history of the Knell family from Switzerland to Canada to Chicago and our branch settling in Carthage, MO. Part followed the mortician route while our side chose farming. Also had pictures of the first KNELL fair in SW MO. Plus my grandad led the Inargual parade for Pres. Truman, with his MO. Show Me mules.

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