Discovering Michael Shirley’s Land
When I began writing Defiance on Indian Creek, in 2008, all I found on Michael Shirley’s land came from a Google Book copy of Oren Morton’s book, A History of Monroe County West Virginia. Listed on page 82 under Surveys under Botetourt County in 1774, in the following format: Shirley, Michael–527–Indian—L—Mar 24.
However, I didn’t know how to find the deed online for the correct location. I printed a map of Indian Creek and learned the creek’s course into the New River. After locating the predominant frontier forts, I decided on a location for the fictional story.
Eight years later, I submitted my manuscript to White Bird Publications. While waiting for the book’s completion, I wondered about the accuracy of my character’s trek toward Cooks Fort.
I emailed the West Virginia Historical Society and contacted the Cook’s Old Mill historian Fred Ziegler. His reply to my inquiry shocked, thrilled, and caused panic at the same time. “…Mary could have walked to the fort in five minutes.”
I called my publisher. “Should I totally rewrite the story plot to fix my blunder?”
My publisher said, “No. It’s a great story, and it’s fictional.”
I’m happy to say book four, Palisades of the Heart, (Work in Progress) places the Shirley family in the correct location for the important romance between William McGuire and Mary Shirley.
I’m not making life easy on them, however. There are major issues to resolve.
Check out Fred Ziegler’s excellent non-fiction book: The Settlement of the Greater Greenbrier Valley, West Virginia. The People, Their Homeplaces, and Their Lives on the Frontier. Buy on Amazon