Series: The Whitcomb Discoveries
Current Status: Writing
Series Teaser for Yosemite Discovered
Book 2 of The Whitcomb Discoveries
When miners and Indians clash in the goldfields, more is discovered than just Yosemite Valley.
Hear and see a video of Chapter One of Book 2
My current work in progress unfolds the tale of an orphaned teen and his younger sister who must choose between survival or justice, forgiveness or revenge when they travel West with the man who leads California settlers into Yosemite to rout out marauding Indians. This current work in progress, Yosemite Discovered, is book two of a proposed historical fiction series, tentatively titled The Whitcomb Discoveries. Book 1 is designed for middle-grade readers as they follow the fictional main character, Daniel Whitcomb, and his stepsister, Hannah, on their wagon train adventures from Illinois to California with their guardian, Jim Savage (a historical figure). While Book 1 is written for middle-grade readers, Book 2, Yosemite Discovered, will be geared for a young adult audience.
An Inside Look at Yosemite Discovered
In book 1, tentatively titled "California DIscovered", thirteen-year-old Daniel Whitcomb and his ten-year-old stepsister, Hannah, (fictional characters) travel from Illinois to California in 1846 with their guardian, James Savage (a historical figure). Daniel suspects that prejudiced neighbors killed his parents because they befriended Indians and helped black slaves make their way through Illinois to Canada. Traveling on a wagon train with their guardian, Daniel's adventures deepen his resolve to avenge his parents’ deaths. His developing friendship with Virginia Reed, however, (a historic figure and Donner Party survivor) begins to thaw his vengeful heart - until tragedy strikes and he finds himself abandoned in a strange land. Book 1 is written for middle-grade readers, while book 2, "Yosemite Discovered", will be geared toward a young adult audience.
In book 2, "Yosemite Discovered", Daniel joins Jim Savage in the gold fields in 1849, hoping to strike it rich. He still plans to avenge his parents' deaths, but he must first survive life in a lawless land. Witnessing the gold miners' mistreatment of Native Americans, and the Indians' brutality against whites, he struggles to find justice in a world where, as Jim says, "you can't possess what you can't protect." As he begins to question the fairness of life and his desire for revenge regarding his parents’ death, he also finds himself falling in love with his wagon train friend, Virginia Reed. His future's trajectory is altered when he joins Jim Savage’s Mariposa Battalion, sent by the governor to rout out marauding Indians living in the mysterious Yosemite Valley.
I recently visited the Roberto Adobe in San Jose, CA (Willow Glen). This structure existed in San Jose when my fictional character, Daniel, passed through this town in 1849 to visit the historical person of Virginia Reed, whom Daniel met as a 13-year-old on the wagon train in 1846. Virginia Reed’s family settled in San Jose and several streets are named after them, including Reed, Virginia, Martha, Margaret, and Keyes Street.
In addition to exploring the Roberto Adobe, I also visited the Heritage Park Museum in Sunnyvale. Virginia Reed married into the Murphy family in 1850, and the Murphy home at the Heritage Park Museum was built by her brother-in-law, Martin Murphy, Jr. The Murphy family came West on a wagon train two years before the Reed family and the Donner party came to California.
Be sure to check out my Pinterest images to see more of the research discovered at the Roberto Adobe and the Heritage Park Museum. It also includes images gleaned from my research at the San Juan Bautista Mission, the Martin Luther King Jr. Library’s California Room, and the Bancroft Library on the Berkeley campus.