The families of "The Homeplace Saga" historical fiction series
Flowering Tree and Pine Tree
It Takes a Village
A family saga historical fiction series centers on one family, but by its very nature quickly expands to the closely related families. Today we will look at the more modern times of this family saga; I'll save the Founding Families for future considerations.
As Hillary Rodham Clinton's book so aptly said, a few years ago, "It Takes a Village."
Where the stories began
"Back to the Homeplace," the original novel in "The Homeplace Saga" stories, was about the will that Mildred (McDonald) Bevins, and her late husband, Frank, left when she died. Each marriage, of course, involved three families and two surnames, right from the start. So, we have the McDonald line of Mildred, we have the Bevins line of Frank, and we have the family they created, with the Bevins surname, consisting of four children. In February of 1987, when that first story began, three of the four adult children were married. The oldest, Karen, was married to Jason Winslow, had been for quite a number of years, and had four children of their own. Beverly, the second in age, was also married, to Paul Gates; they had two children, who are a part of the story of the first novel. set in Oak Springs. Each of these spouses has played major roles in the stories, though we have not yet explored their back stories in great detail. We have, however, in each case, looked at the children, in some detail, created from these marriages. The same is true of Bart, third in age, who married Diane Spencer. We have not looked at her family background, at all, but their children have become major characters through the first four novels of the series.
The immediate family
Karen and Jason's oldest child, a son, Matt, was already married to Susan Norris when our stories began. We don't know a lot about Susan's background, but her parents were mentioned on several occasions, and will likely visit Oak Springs as part of one of the upcoming story lines. Third child, Erin Winslow, is married to Mark James, during our stories to date. They live out of town, so we have not explored the James family, at all, but with a child due early in 1997, it would not be unusual to learn more about the child's paternal grandparents and that side of the family.
We know that Paul Gates, husband of Beverly Bevins, from the first couple of chapters of the first book, was married before (although we don't know who to) and had a daughter, Sheila, who came to Oak Springs with them and has been a major character from the beginning of the stories. Introduction to her maternal family side is not out of the question. It fits well, in fact, into where the story of Jeremy, introduced in "Christmas at the Homeplace," goes from this point forward. I haven't yet mentioned the fourth Bevins child, Peter. The youngest Bevins child, Peter was unmarried through the first three novels and most of the fourth. With the appearance of Jeremy, a 10 year-old boy, in their lives, Peter and Sheila did get married, in 1996, creating the newest family unit of this family saga.
The falls in the river
Other folks in the Village
To have a Village, or the town of Oak Springs, in this case, in fictional Oak Creek Township, of Shannon County, Missouri, we need supporting characters from outside these families. Carter Ogden is the family attorney, introduced in the early chapters of the first novel. This family becomes intimately connected with the Bevins family in the first story, and their son, Christopher Ogden, is the principle character in "The Homeplace Revisited."
The attorney, Carter Ogden, is the 'implementor' of the Bevins will, which creates the Bevins Trust. The Bevins Trust is actually a major 'character' as well. Some other people in the town come into our stories related to the activities of the Bevins Trust. Douglas Johnson, a young attorney, and soon to be son-in-law of the local Banker, Harry Flanders, is introduced as a Trustee at an early point. Unfortunately, that doesn't last very long, and neither does his marriage. All I can say here and now is, that he ends up as the "focal point" of the novella, set in late 1987, "Murder by the Homeplace."
As our stories continued, Harry Flanders, and his wife and her ancestors, continued to play important roles in the stories. George Chambers is another Trustee that is an interesting supporting character in the stories. We do not get into his family story, but it is there, if it should be needed. Virginia Hollingsworth began as a Trustee, and long-time neighbor of Mildred. Although seemingly a minor character, as we learn more about her and her family, through the stories, her role continued to develop well beyond a support role. Similarly with Lyle Cunningham, the local auction house proprietor. He begins as a local businessman, became a Trustee, and then, as we learn more about his family connections, his role continued to develop in a number of ways. Not everyone is related to our lead families, of course. The local newspaper editor, widower Dick Nixon, had two grown daughters. One of them, Penny, played a lead roll in our "Murder by the Homeplace" story. But, her younger sister, Rachel, was also dating Scott Gates… so, stand by, and see how this relationship develops.
The River Flows through the Forest
And they all work together to tell the stories
As our family stories developed, the interconnections among various of the families mentioned above, began to come to the front of the stories. When Christopher Ogden, for example, started dating, the two girls with whom he had interactions were Nicole Evans and Amy Hollingsworth. Amy in the grand-daughter of Virginia. About the same time, we learn that Virginia is related to the Inman family that has operated a local real estate sale firm in Oak Springs for well over 125 years. Nicole Evans had a sister who is married to the youngest male member of the Inman family of his generation. Nicole is also the grand-daughter of Lyle Cunningham my his daughter, Mona. Mona's husband, Jack, is the local State Farm Insurance agent, and son of the long-time community veterinarian, Doc Evans. Does this sound like any small town you know? It sounds very much like the small town where I grew up. Most people are related, or related by marriage, to many other people in town. And these only involved the most recent three generations or so.
Later on in our stories, after Christopher has chosen Nicole, Amy becomes involved with Mike Gardiner, a highway engineer working on road construction in the area. He is a supporting character only. A new lawyer came to town, another widower, Don Kirk, who had a son, also a lawyer, who eventually joined him. Will they grow into relationships with some of the available ladies in the town. Stay tuned, for more action, on this front, for sure.
Of course, in any set of stories, there are the real "supporting" characters. The law firm secretaries, the waitresses at the cafes and diners, the manager of McDonalds, the workers at the Internet Services firm, the city manager, the City Librarian, instructors at the college on the edge of town, the caterer of company dinner parties, the conservationist at the Department of Natural Resources, and many more. Any of these good people could "rise in stature" and become involved with other characters in our story at any time. I just write, and let my characters interact. What fun!
What will happen next? No one really knows, just yet! ;-)