Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Quiet Promise, Volume II of the Barrington Family Saga

A Quiet Promise, Volume II of the Barrington Family Saga

If you’ve read volume one of this series, you know that it ended with (spoiler alert) James and Eleanore finally meeting up (miraculously) with a Mormon missionary. Of course, you can guess from the setup what will happen next, but of course you want to know all the details. That’s what sequels are for.

In the prologue Eleanore is baptized, but James is resistant and concerned. He’s supportive of his wife, but uneasy about this step she’s taking. At the beginning of chapter one he learns that not everybody likes Mormons, and in Missouri—a place they considered settling—it’s actually legal to kill them.

Thus my characters are thrown into the reality of what it’s like to be a Latter-day Saint during this period of time. Although, I purposely kept my characters based in Iowa, separate from the body of the Saints, for a purpose that is made known in the next volume. I found that as they learn about the happenings of the Saints through letters and word of mouth, it’s somewhat metaphorical of how we in the 21st century have a certain distance from the harsh realities the Saints experienced. It’s difficult to imagine the horrors of the persecution they endured without actually being there.

When James and Eleanore go to Nauvoo to visit friends, I took a big leap and decided that they should meet and speak with Joseph Smith. It was the first time I’d actually taken the poetic license to put words in the mouth of a real person as I wrote this dialogue—a prophet, no less. I was prayerful about doing so, wanting to be accurate and respectful, and I felt very good about the scene. At the time, I never dreamed that I would eventually be writing the story of Emma Smith, and I ended up giving these people a great deal of dialogue. I’ll be writing about that project in another entry.

The dedication of this book has a story to it, and it’s very dear to me. There have been stories passed down in my mother’s family about her grandmother, Louisa Maria Hall, who married Martin Harris’s nephew. Intermixed with my research for this story (which ended up serving me well when I wrote Emma’s story) I became more aware of Louisa, and interested in her. My dear friend, Dianne, was working for a genealogical research company at the time, and I asked if she could (off duty) find evidence of Louisa’s family on a census record that would document the family living in Nauvoo with the Saints. She said that she’d look, but she reminded me that she’d had a hard time placing her own ancestor, Isaac Morley, on any of those records, and she’d done a lot of searching. And he was actually a significant figure in church history. The following day Dianne called to tell me that she had found Louisa’s father, Benjamin K. Hall, on a Hancock County census, and right next door to him, she found Isaac Morley. It was a miracle for us! Since Dianne and I had been through many trials together, we could not believe it was a coincidence that our great-great-grandfathers had been neighbors in a settlement outside of Nauvoo, which ties into Louisa’s story—that she was driven from the house by a mob and watched it burn. She was only a child. I’m proud to have some of her blood in me, and to have such a great family connection! It’s my hope that this series will inspire my readers to find their own family connections in church history. Or if YOU are the pioneer in your family, or someone in a more recent generation has brought the gospel into your life, I would challenge you to look at your own pioneer stories and learn from them.

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