In May I had the wonderful opportunity to take a five-day class with six other writers at Yosemite, led by writing “guru,” Margie Lawson. I learned much that I hope to apply to my my continued writing of Yosemite Discovered, my current historical fiction work-in-progress.
While in California, I found many of the sites where my historical character, Jim Savage, panned for gold and established trading posts. More info is at: http://www.mariesontag.com/books/yosemite-discovered/
One of my most exciting discoveries was by accident. I was stopping in Jamestown for gas, and saw a sign for Woods Creek. From my research, I knew this was one of the locations where Jim Savage panned for gold with a partner, Benjamin Wood. One of the scenes in the upcoming novel mentions this partnership. I pulled off the road to take a picture of the location, and found this plaque.
Imagine my surprise when I read the text on the plaque, “Here, early in 1848, a party of Philadelphia prospectors under the leadership of James Woods discovered gold five hundred feet south east of this marker, where the old road crosses the creek now bearing Woods’ name. James Savage, J.W. Rider, and Charles Bassett… were members of the party.” From my research, I knew there had been a historical mix-up, with some references claiming Jim’s partner was James Woods, and other sources stating his partner was Benjamin Wood. I had followed the research trail back to credible sources and learned the actual partner was Benjamin Wood, not James Woods, as the plaque claimed.
I shared my findings with a local museum docent in Groveland. She is a member of the Tuolumne Historical Society and was very excited to learn the information. She enthusiastically requested I send her a copy of Yosemite Discovered for the museum, once the book is published!
Research sources for Benjamin Wood as Jim Savage’s partner: