Welcome to my website! Join me as I journey through history doing research for my novels, visiting historic sites and digging into my family genealogy. To introduce myself, I will begin with where I grew up – because I am one of those southern women whose identity is strongly tied to place and ancestry.
I was raised in middle Tennessee between the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in the small town of Erin. The story goes that Erin was named by the Irish railroad workers in the mid-1800’s because the green valley nestled between steep hills reminded them of Ireland. But the area was occupied much earlier.
American Indians, including the Cherokee, the Creeks and the Choctaw, shared middle Tennessee as a hunting ground. Evidence of human occupation has been dated back to pre-historic times. The Wells Creek Basin is the site of an ancient meteorite crater. Indians traded flint from Wells Creek as arrow heads and spear heads throughout North America. On a trip to Yellowstone in the 1970’s I visited the Buffalo Bill Historic Center in Cody, Wyoming, where I was surprised to find a collection of arrowheads from Wells Creek, Tennessee, on display.
My grandfather Boone was an amateur geologist/archeologist. He collected rocks, including dolomite and shatter cone from the Wells Creek Basin and various Indian artifacts from the area. Although he died when my mother was four, my grandfather’s collections remained on display in my grandmother’s house, like a private museum. The stories fascinated me and his collection inspired the “rock hound” in me to start my own collection.
The first influx of settlers came to the area where I was raised after the Revolution when Continental soldiers received land grants as payment for their service. Some soldiers sold their land to settlers and speculators, but many brought their families west to what was then the frontier. The McMillan’s, my fraternal grandmother’s family, settled on their land grant in what became my hometown. The McMillan family cemetery is situated on a hillside in western end of the valley overlooking the middle school (old high school), the nursing home, and much of the community known as Arlington. These early settlers were primarily of Scotch or Scotch-Irish descent who brought with them an independent spirit and strong religious faith.
Several regiments were raised in the area during the Civil War. My maternal great-grandfather served in the 14th Tennessee and fought in the eastern theatre. My fraternal great-great-grandfather served in the 24th Tennessee Sharpshooters and Maney’s Battery along with his two brothers and one brother-in-law. His other brother-in-law served in the 50th Tennessee. My maternal great-great-grandfather served in the 26thMississippi Infantry. All these soldiers reflect the strong support for the Confederacy within my family, yet none represent the “traditional” image of the south filled with wealthy plantation owners. They were all small farmers or local merchants.
After the war, people from the north came south in search of cheap land. Among these were my maternal great-great-grandparents, who emigrated from Germany in 1850 and settled in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. In 1867, they came down the Ohio and up the Cumberland to Wells Creek and purchased farmland. These are my German ancestors and the most recent of my ancestors to come to America.
In 1871 portions of Stewart, Montgomery, Humphreys and Dickson Counties were combined to create Houston County, named for Sam Houston, former Governor of the State of Tennessee. Sam Houston is one of the many historical figures from Tennessee. Unfortunately, I can claim no kinship to the Tennessean turned Texan.
In 1886, Goodspeed published a history of Tennessee which includes a History of Houston County. The account provides fertile ground for the imagination. So many individual stories, so many lives to explore. These are the people who make up the fabric of our country. Real history, about real people, helps us understand who we are and where we came from. It’s why I love history. It inspires me to write, to transform bits and pieces of real lives into fictional characters and stories.
Over time I will share some of the history that inspires my historical romantic fiction and my women’s fiction stories.