Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Trail to Glory - The Real Story

When I started trying to locate all of Marilyn Meredith’s books, I discovered several I didn’t know about. One was Trail to Glory: One Family’s Journey West. This historical novel is based on the journey of her maternal ancestors. Some of the incidents in the book are based on family legends. After reading this exciting book, I wanted to know what was true and what was fiction. Marilyn agreed to answer my questions. Next week, she’ll do the same for Two Ways West, the story of her paternal family’s journey.

Thanks for giving me (and my readers) the “inside scoop” on this book.

I have to ask about Half-face. He was one of the most memorable characters in the book. I so want to think he is based on someone the family actually knew. Was he?
Sorry, no. Made him up. Needed an exciting scene and he filled it and then went on to be even more important a bit later.

Was William actually killed as depicted in the book (no spoilers)? This is one of the most haunting scenes.
I have no idea. Much of the early part of this “fictional” historical saga was based on things I learned about when I researched what was going on during that particular time in that place. Some family members thought it happened.

Although the book says the older girls were given to a neighbor to raise, you told me they were adopted by three other families. Did they stay in touch with the rest of the family? Did they live nearby? (BTW, I have instances of this same thing in my own family. When my great-grandmother died, some of her children were raised by relatives, and one of the older children raised the younger ones. When my grandmother died, this same sister took her three children.)
In the beginning the neighbor took the girls, and she was the one who changed their names. Again, I wrote this book so long ago I don’t really remember all the details.

Did Ethel actually suffer injury during her birth? Did she really endure such tragic losses? Did she really raise her sister’s child?
No Ethel didn’t suffer the injury—I borrowed it from what happened to one of my cousins. And yes, she did suffer the tragic losses in the story. She did raise her sister’s child, but I made up some of the details surrounding what happened. It seemed like it could have been what transpired.

You wrote a beautiful—and fanciful—account of what might have happened to Wilhelmina. You said the family had other theories. What were they?
My mother always said Wilhelmina was stolen by gypsies. I couldn’t find any history of gypsies in the area during the time period.

Did Will actually stay in touch with the family when he disappeared, or did he just vanish? Did you write his story to have some closure?
Will did keep in touch with the family, but the story about him I made up. No one could remember much about him.

I know you were descended from Desdemona (Minnie). Did she really hate her nickname so much? (My own grandmother’s birth name was Mary Ann, but she was always called “Minnie.” This is the name on her headstone.)
Desdemona (Minnie), my great-grandmother, did not like her name. I got to meet my great-grandmother when she came to my fifth birthday party (I have a photo of her there), and we spent a Christmas in her home. I don’t remember much about either occasion.

I know losing children during childbirth and shortly afterward, as well as from illness and accidents was quite common. Did your family really suffer all these losses?
Yes, because that was the information I got from the genealogy and what my mother and aunt remembered from family stories.

Congratulations to your sister for all her hard work in tracking down the multitude of family members! I do a lot of genealogy as well. Before Ancestry.com it was a labor intensive pursuit. I’m grateful for the pooled information now available online.
She did it back in the days of using the census, birth, marriage, and death certificates. I wonder if she did it again using Ancestry.com if she’d find out more information.
For the other book, I looked up a character when you didn’t have the name of his wife—and I found her! So, I suspect even more information is now available.

Next week, we’ll look at the truth of Two Ways West.