Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pay Dirt!

I hit pay dirt today with an actual hand penned letter sent to me through the US Postal Service. It was in answer to a letter I had word processed, but sent snail mail as well. The letter is from a Mrs. Harriet Meath. Her husband, sadly now passed on was the nephew of a man named John Robert Meath. Robert "Bobby" Meath is one of the main characters in "Vis Major".

In this letter, Mrs. Meath corraborated much of what I knew and some of what I had assumed about "Bobby". Robert, as he was known back in his home country of Wisconsin married late, and he and his wife had no children.

I had some documented evidence that Meath was the instigator of any number of elaborate schemes and pratical jokes the men of Wellington would play on themselves and strangers in town. Mrs. Meath also said that Robert was known in the family as a real prankster. She told me of a time Robert and a few of his friends snuck into a home just prior to a wake and boosted the coffin out the window! According to the family story, he didn't bring the body back until the next morning.

One of the things I worry about when writing historical fiction is to be as accurate as is possible when it comes to bringing real people back to life. This direct connectiion to a main character in my book is indeed a case of hitting pay dirt. But it gets better...

Mrs. Meath has a photo of Robert standing alongside a snow plow. She is not certain of the number but appears to her as 1800. That number does not figure. What I am hoping is the number is actually X-800. If that is the case, that number would date that photo right at the time of the Wellington Slide, within a few years. I now have an identified photo of a main character in the very envirornment of which I am writing. For me, this is exciting news!

So the saga of "Vis Major" continues. This book has taken me down some very interesting paths, ones I doubt I would have ever thought I would travel. All this and it isn't even in print yet.


wayne said...

Martin --

Which one of those fellows is Robert?

Martin Burwash said...

None in that photo, to be honest.