Thursday, January 15, 2015

Riches Picked from the Family Tree

By Ada Brownell

Could  the unusual things your ancestors did make a good historical romance?
My grandmother, Minnie, was an elocutionist who performed her original poems and songs on stage in Colorado when she was a teenager. Among those was a humorous poem based on the nursery rhyme, “Old Mother Hubbard,” and with a little smile, Grandma recited it until she was in her 90s.
 Grandma wrote poetry and her song, “Rocky Mountain Columbine,” was in the running for the Colorado state song. She loved to play the piano and sing the tune until she died in her early 90s..
She wasn’t a redhead like my mother, but she had spunk. From what I’ve been told by different relatives, she was orphaned at a young age and traded among relatives. She ended up with an uncle in Pueblo, Colorado.
 In Pueblo, she graduated from Centennial High School and received a teaching certificate. Called High School of District One in the beginning, the school was an adobe building renamed Centennial three years later in 1876. It was one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the year Colorado was admitted to the union. Colorado was dubbed “The Centennial State,” and that’s how the school became Centennial.
Some relatives said, and others denied, that among all Grandma’s successes trouble brewed. From what I’ve heard, the uncle was abusive. (I’m the youngest in the family and not all the stories among us jibed.)
 Whatever the reason, Minnie packed a suitcase and took off walking.
Perhaps she caught a ride on a wagon, but she ended up about 35 miles down the road near Florence, Colo. She got a job teaching in a one-room adobe school.
In that area is where she met William Shepherd, my grandfather.
He died before I was born, but I’ve always been fascinated that he traveled around in his youth showing one of the first Passion-of-the-Christ moving picture shows. My brother has the reel.
As with William in The Lady Fugitive, Grandpa’s father was murdered.
After they were married, Grandma and Grandpa moved to Iowa, where their farming and ranching prospered. When my mother, Rita, went to college in about 1917, she said money wasn’t a problem.
Then Grandpa invested in sheep, and during the Great Depression of 1920, often called, “the forgotten depression,” they lost everything. They homesteaded near Walsenburg, Colo., and then Grandpa became the sheriff in Alamo, a nearby mining community. He died of pneumonia one night after making his rounds in the small mining town. My uncle had Grandpa’s guns.
Grandma took the money they’d saved, invested in two large houses in Pueblo, divided them into apartments, and supported herself. She never married again.
I wish I had been there to find out how my grandparents met and more details, but I wasn’t. So The Lady Fugitive is the story of Jenny Louise Parks and William O’Casey. They have some experiences similar to my grandparents, such as Jenny, an orphan like Grandma, running away from an abusive uncle. Yet in my story, she has a price on her head. But Jenny and William and the events in The Lady Fugitive are fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental, and it’s probably a good thing.
One reviewer said, “Jenny will have you laughing, biting your nails, wishing you had a gun to help.”
What else can you expect from a fugitive?
The Lady Fugitive
How does a respected elocutionist become a face on a wanted poster?
Jenny Louise Parks escapes from the coal bin and her abusive uncle offers a handsome reward for her return. Because he is a judge, he will find her.
Determination to remain free grips Jenny, especially after she meets William and there’s a hint of romance. But while peddling household goods and showing a Passion of the Christ moving picture, he discovers his father’s brutal murder.
Will Jenny avoid the bounty hunters? Can she forgive the person who turns her in? Will she find peace, joy and love?
Ada Brownell 


Ada Brownell is the author of five books, about 300 stories and articles in Christian publications, and she spent a large chunk of her life as a reporter, mostly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. She and her husband L.C., have five children, one of them in heaven, eight wonderful grandchildren.and two great-grandchildren.

Among her books: The Lady Fugitive, an historical romance released July 18, 2014, Imagine the Future You, a youth Bible study (November 2013). Joe the Dreamer:

The Castle and the Catapult, (Jan. 15, 2013); Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, (Dec. 6, 2011); and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but released in 2012 for Kindle; All the books are available in paper or for Kindle. Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at Free book with new Audible membership.
Amazon Ada Brownell author page:


Twitter: @AdaBrownell


 Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement

What about you? Do you have any stories in your family history that would make a good book?

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