I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last blog post. I’ve been trying to figure out a theme for a new series of posts, and finally struck upon one near and dear to my heart. I’ve been very busy the last couple of months researching and writing. I’ve written the first draft of the first book in my new Cassie Fairhope supernatural historical fiction series, which I call Cassie Fairhope and the Haunted Inn. I’m planning to release this book in October, so stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.
The series is set in north Alabama in the year 1821, three years after statehood. So I’ve been digging into the history of the state, including visiting a local living museum from the 1800s, visiting the Heritage Room at the local public library, and reading. Lots and lots of reading!
So I thought in honor of Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration this year, I’ll share tidbits of the research I’ve done and how that informs my storyline (characters, setting, etc.).
To kick off this new series, let’s talk about what Huntsville, Alabama, looked like when the Alabama Territory became a state in November 1819.
The journalist Anne Royall described the city in her Letters from Alabama as consisting of 260 brick houses, a bank, courthouse, and market house. She claims there were twelve stores that faced the square. She also notes with a sense of surprise that there wasn’t a church, but services were held in the courthouse.
In Alabama: The History of a Deep South State the authors describe the city as a “bustling community of cotton planters” and that while the big planters who had migrated largely from Georgia dominated all the social and financial aspects, most of the landowners in Madison County, where Huntsville is located, were in fact “small famers from Tennessee.”
In my story, the Fury Falls Inn is located on the Winchester Road which connects Huntsville to Winchester, Tennessee and runs along the foothills of the lower Appalachian Mountains. My characters visit the city upon occasion and have customers that stop in for a meal on their way to wherever they’re headed. So knowing what the kinds of businesses and the layout of the town in the early years helps me ensure I have representative ventures and opportunities for my characters. Since I’m writing fiction instead of a history of the town, I’m free to include some made-up locations to suit the needs of my story. With that in mind, though, I still strive to keep to facts as much as I can when I create a new business, like the livery that is mentioned in Cassie Fairhope and the Haunted Inn.
Huntsville has grown up quite a lot from its early days, with a thriving and diverse population, high-tech industries and arts and culture for all to enjoy. It’s still growing and the leaders have said the city will be the largest in the state within the next 5 years. I believe they must be right on that point.
I’ve much more to share with you all and look forward to your questions and comments as I work through the many interesting facts I’ve unearthed about the state where I live. Until next time!
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