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March 29, 2015
6:24pm EDT

by esprit
Rated: E | Column | Writing | #1056649
WC Newsletter # 213
Story Ideas getting Low?
Harvest your Family Tree

I’ve sat and watched the curser blink on the clean white page for a week. What shall I write about? Yes, Louise, even newsletter editors lack inspiration at times.

Having no direction, my mind wandered toward the family. Natural, eh? I skimmed my genealogy page and wham, the proverbial ton of bricks fell. Of course! Use real people and you can write about anything.

I picked up a few lines here and there and my goodness! I found a writer’s jackpot, and you all have one. It sits neatly among the limbs of your own Family Tree. Have you discovered it yet? Look at the many genres and topics a good writer could get out of this!

Richard Pace, 1483

Richard, (Pace) known as the Tudor diplomat, worked along with Cardinal Woolsey and Erasmus. It is said that Cardinal Woolsey was somewhat jealous of Richard and used his influence to keep him on the European continent as English Ambassador to Italy, working for the Kings cause and away from the court. Richard was an official in the Church and wrote an opinion or took a stand in favor of Henry VIII, divorcing Catherine of Aragon. He helped write the Kings James version of the Bible, working primarily on the Book of Psalms.

John the Jester - Brother of Richard

Although a scholar of King’s College, Cambridge, in 1539, and being a Master of the Arts, he was soon attached as the Jester in the household of the Duke of Norfolk before Henry VIII’s death, and in Elizabeth’s reign, he was transferred to the court.

That a man of education like Pace should have voluntarily assumed ‘the fool’s coat’ often excited hostile comment. To such criticism Pace’s friend, John Heywood, the epigrammatist, once answered that “It is better for the common weal for wise men to ‘go in fools’ coats’ than for fools to ‘go in wise men’s gowns’”
Camden, Remaines,ed.857 p314

Another Richard founded Paces’s Paines across the river from Jamestown. Chanco, an Indian youth who resided with Richard as a son, learned of King Opechankanough’s plan in March of 1622, to massacre all residents of Jamestown. Because of Chanco’s bravery in telling this plan to Richard, many residents were saved. Courtesy of Colonial Surry, by John B. Boddie

CARBONDALE, IL - It took 112 years to get Priscilla's hollyhock seed from Georgia to Oklahoma, according to John W. Allen, curator of history of Southern Illinois University Museum.

I found stories of Priscilla, a young girl of ten or eleven, who gathered the seeds of the hollyhock plant to take with her from (some versions say Georgia) North Carolina to her destination in Oklahoma during the tragic Trail of Tears era of 1838-39.

She was befriended and adopted by my husbands ancester, Basil, during a rest camp on Dutch Creek, in Illinois. Today, Priscilla Hollyhocks are known by their unusual red color and small size.

I found a story of a hanging that failed during the civil war Confederate raid. (I believe the failure was intentional - an act of mercy.) The raiders wanted information of the ‘supply’ location. A relative was among those hauling supplies for Col. Mulligan at Lexington. He was the only one found that day and he wouldn’t talk, so he was hung and the raiders left. The knot slipped, he fell to the ground and wormed his way up to the house where Grandma Davis cut the rope. To his death, Jimmy had a knot on the side of his neck and could never straighten it again.

Way back in history I roamed and found reference to a family named Rolfe and Pocahontas.

The John Wayne movie, Rooster Cogburn, carries both of my mother’s family names and was set in Arkansas, her birthplace. I have an old picture in my album of a man with the name ‘Rooster Cogburn’ written across it.

I believe we each have so much history bound up in our family trees, we should never run out of ideas or inspiration. I’m lucky to have a genealogist brother to do all the searching and verifying, it’s more work than I could handle.

Go directly to the Message Boards and type in your family name. It's free and it's fun to read others looking for the same information - your family. This is not a site to do research unless you want to pay. If you do, it's very good, one of the best.

If you don’t have time to do a thorough search, just visit a genealogy site and search your family names. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, and you may decide to work on your own history.

Write your fiction based on true events but don’t worry about keeping them factual. That’s what makes good fiction.

© Copyright 2006 esprit (UN: storytime at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
esprit has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.
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