Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Two Ways West - The Inside Scoop

When I started trying to locate all of Marilyn Meredith’s books, I discovered several I didn’t know about. Last week, I asked her questions about Trail to Glory: One Family’s Journey West. This week, I asked her about Two Ways West, the story of her paternal family’s journey to California.
Thanks for giving me (and my readers) the “inside scoop” on this wonderful book.

Was Rebecca really only twelve when she married John? I know life expectancies were shorter then, and women married young, but this seems especially young.
Yes, that’s a fact, she was twelve. Made it a tad difficult to write about their romance. However, I remember when I was twelve. I definitely thought I was grown up.
I had a major crush on Larry at twelve.

Did John’s family actually know Andrew Jackson? Did he actually fight in the Battle of New Orleans?
John did fight in the Battle of New Orleans. I even have a photograph of him at that time. Whether or not he knew Andrew Jackson, I’m not positive, though a likelihood. He did get a land grant from then President Jackson. I’ve seen a copy of it and the one give to William Newton Crabtree.

Did the Crabtrees really cross Mexico, sail up the coast, and jump ship in Monterey?
Yes, they really did. This is a family legend I heard from one of the old-timers, and others repeated it.

Please tell me Temperance was a real person. She is one of the most memorable characters in the book, and I want her to be real.
This much I know, there was a servant named Tempe, but I made up a lot about her.

Did Ashbel really leave his family to follow the Mormon trail to California where he filed a claim for land and built a house before returning for them? And where did his name come from?
Ashbel did follow leave his family and followed the Mormon trail and on to California. And yes, he did file a claim for land. As for the house, I’m not sure. Seemed likely, though. As for his name, I have no idea where it came from. I only know that he was born in New York.

I knew Tempe, the name of the character in your Detective Tempe Crabtree mysteries, was an ancestor. Was she really named after the family servant, Temperance? (I love the name. It sounds like an old Puritan name. And I love it for the character, too.)
Tempe Crabtree was my great-grandmother, and as I said earlier, she was name for a household servant. I love the name, too.

Was the family really attacked by Tiburcio Vasquez? Was he a real robber?
Yes, Tiburcio was a real highway robber. As far as the family being attacked by him, I really can’t remember.

Did the family really lose so many children? Did Ella die as you described? What about Sarah?
Yes, sadly, all those children died. Yes, Ella died exactly as I described. Sarah, too. And Tempe named Hope for exactly the reason I wrote. I met Hope, and she told me a lot about the family that went into the book.

I know you now live on a portion of the original Crabtree claim. How did it come to you, and why did you decide to move back to Springville?
The Crabtrees all lost their land because of taxes. They didn’t use money. They bartered for everything. When my sister did the genealogy, we talked to my dad about Springville. He told us the stories he knew. My sister, her husband, and their daughter, Hap and I, and my parents all came up to Springville and camped here. We did it several times, visiting with elderly relatives and exploring. We also went to Grass Valley, camped and explored.

When my husband began to dislike where we lived in Southern California because it became so crowded, we began to look for a place to buy in Springville. I said I’d only move there if we could find a place on the river (after all, we were leaving a beach town at the time). The only one we could afford was a residential care facility. It was for sale. We knew if we got it, we’d not only have a home but a business. I did the necessary paperwork, got the needed license, and was approved by the regional center, so we moved to Springville.

Since so many generations of your family have lived in the same area, are there any ghosts or reports of ghosts in or around your house or in the vicinity?
All the youngsters who have lived with us over the years are sure our house is haunted. Frankly, I don’t care if it is or not, I’m comfortable here.

Thanks for sharing all the “inside secrets” of these wonderful books. Anyone who loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little house books as a child will find the same kind of storytelling in these. People actually lived these stories, and these characters are members of your own family. I am so glad you wrote them down so we all can get to know them.


  1. I think it's interesting that you mentioned Little House books. When I was a kid and reading them, I wrote my own versions. Guess I did it again as an adult. Thanks, Lorna, for doing this.

  2. Love hearing how you wove the known and the probable together with the fictional for this story. And I found out something is It not know about all the Tempe Crabtrees. Good interview.