I didn’t invent the heroine’s father in the novella I’m writing right now. He’s real. Well, I fictionalized him but I based him on someone who’s real.
Born in Quebec it is believed as Alexis Beaubien Trotier, he called himself Charles H. Beaubien when he became an American citizen and was a fur trapper. He also called himself Charles Trotier at times. Then he became Carlos Beaubien when he turned Mexican citizen while running the land grant he was given. He turned back to Charles Beaubien and became an American citizen after New Mexico was ceded in a treaty to The United States.
I called the guy Francois Chastain and everyone calls him Frank.
For this story, I needed to back up in history from the time I usually write because I’m doing a novella prequel to my next series. So now I’m writing in a time in history I’m not comfortable with…and that means research.
My books is set in 1840 New Mexico….when New Mexico was a state in northern Mexico. Finally my research revealed The Maxwell Land Grant.
Owned by Charles H. Beaubien and his partner Guadalupe Miranda.
They received a Land Grant from the Governor of New Mexico…thought it was called that it was definitely part of Mexico.
Land Grants were given out to encourage settlers to go into uninhabited territory and Beaubien and Miranda scored big with a land grant that grew to over three million acres.
Only trouble is, about ten years into their vastly wealthy acquisition came a couple of treaties that turned New Mexico over to America…and all of a sudden those old land grants weren’t worth the paper they were printed on and these wealthy, powerful men are nothing more than squatters.
Some of the land would be left in their hands if they became American citizens. Beaubien didn’t mind, considering his history it’s no big deal.
Miranda was outraged. As an arrogant Don with deep roots in his native Mexico. He will lose his part of the land grant if he doesn’t become an American…he returns to Mexico City in a snit.
So now half the three million acres is gone but Beaubien is getting by!!! But there are still threats about his ownership of the land. When along comes a guy named Maxwell who’s American citizenship is unquestioned. He marries Beaubien’s daughter and that anchors the land in Beaubien’s hands and they rename it The Maxwell Land Grant.
Okay, then, there’s coal. There’s gold. There’s a clash between big ranchers and nesters called The Colfax County War. Then somehow the Dutch own the grant and then the Phillips Petroleum Company gets in on the act.
And in all this mess what do I want as I’m fictionalizing all this into a sweet and funny love story between Veronica Chastain and Chance Boden???????
I want to know what Charles Beaubien should sound like.
What kind of an accent would he have?
You know, writing books can be tricky sometimes. And I’d really like to get history RIGHT.
What do you think? Is he rooted in the French Canadian language I assume he was born with?
Has he developed the more western slang from his years as a fur trader?
Partnered with Guadalupe Miranda and perhaps Mexican speaking cowhands, has he begun to speak Spanish?
Is it a mix of all three?
Should my heroine’s father occasionally say, “Si Senor, I reckon that’s mighty magnifique???”
I really struggled with this. It’s easiest to go with the mountain man, that’s more in my wheelhouse, the more western-y slang.
On the other hand what did Robert Redford sound like in Jeremiah Johnson? He kinda sounded like a Hollywood guy who didn’t use many contractions….that’s not all that good of an accent honestly. But I didn’t care. I loved that movie.
So am I over thinking this?
Honestly at this point, I’m seriously considering just shooting good old Frank so he can’t talk anymore.
A bit more info, the Phillips Petroleum folks donated what’s left of the ranch to the Boy Scouts of America and it became the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico… now a meager 127,000 acres.
PS If you’re looking for a fun Christmas read, I am loaded up this year.