The last time I wrote a blog about writing, I was in the middle of writing a ghost story that came from a dream I had. I’m still in the middle of it. Sometimes you just get side-tracked, ya know? During that process, I took a little vacation down to Mississippi to take pictures of ancestor’s headstones at cemeteries (Yes, another time-consuming hobby). While at a little cemetery in the middle of nowhere taking a picture of my 3rd great grandmother’s headstone, my husband, who gets dragged around incessantly on my jaunts, asked, “Now, who is this again?”
“What do you mean ‘Who is this?’ This, sir, is my great great great grandmother, Mary Ann Rodgers, daughter of Hays Rodgers, wife of Rice Carpenter and William Jolly.”
“Well, what’s her story?”
“Mary Ann lived through the Civil War and a typhoid epidemic and lost about SEVENTEEN family members to one or the other in an 18-month period. She was a strong and amazing woman. Just a taste in chronological order: she lost her brother and sister-in-law to typhoid in October 1862 leaving 5 orphaned children. In December 1862, her father died of typhoid. On December 31, 1862, her husband was killed in the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. On January 30, 1863, she lost two of her sister-in-laws, her husband’s sisters. Three days later, her 1-year-old son died. A month after that, her mother died. She survived hunger and pain and loss the way none of us could even imagine today. We would be devastated today if we lost one family member. We would need anti-depressants if we lost two at the same time. How did she survive that kind of loss without going insane?”
“What happened to her?”
“Well, her husband Rice had a sister, yes, one of the sister-in-laws who died in January, who left behind a widower and four children. His name was William Jolly. In 1864, they married.”
“In those days, a woman needed a man to farm, and a man needed a woman to raise the children.”
“Yes, but it became more than a marriage of convenience. They were together for 26 years until his death, and they ended up having three children together, so they must have like each other. And, she lived a long life and died at the age of 70.”
“So, you come from very strong stock, eh?”
“Apparently. The women in my family had some serious backbone.”
“That’s a great story. You should write it down.”
Hence, my new historical fiction novel “Okatibbee Creek.” It is currently at the editor, and I hope to have it published on Amazon.com in December.
Back to the ghost story, right?
No, it turns out that one of the 5 orphans of her brother and sister-in-law had an amazing story as well. I’m currently working on my new historical fiction novel called “An Orphan’s Heart.”
Maybe I’ll get back to the ghost story after that.
If you feel so inclined, please join me on the “Okatibbee Creek” fan-page on FaceBook. The story’s time-line and other surprises and information are available on that page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Okatibbee-Creek-the-novel/369862926416517