Thursday, February 8, 2018

Stepping Into the River Girl's World

I've always heard you should write what you know, and I've possibly taken that advice to heart a bit too much since five of my books are based on my hometown of Bastrop, Texas, including my contemporary series, Miss Main Street. (The town in the book is called Wimber, but it's Bastrop, through and through).

Bastrop is a lovely little town, and I've lived here most of my life. We have the Old Iron Bridge, which has been a part of the town in some form or fashion since 1923, but the current one was built to replace an 1890's version. We have a gorgeous river walk, lit now with electric lamps to replace the old-fashioned lanterns that must have bobbed down the trail during fishing expeditions in earlier days.

Photo courtesy of Cherie Haines
In River Girl's Song, I've included references to many buildings in historic Bastrop, including the First National Bank and The First United Methodist Church, which was actually established in Bastrop, TX in 1851. The bell in the church tower was once a bell for the Water Moccasin steamboat that ran along the river in the early 1800's. 

It was so much fun finding little connections like these in my research, even though I didn't get to include them all in my books. History is fascinating to me. 

So while I had the town to study (since I live here), I also wanted to get a feel for how Zillia must have lived. What tools would she have used? What would her house have been like? For this research I paid a visit to Jourdan-Bauchman Pioneer Farms in Round Rock Texas, which is settled along Walnut Creek. 

Pioneer Farm features a working farm environment, complete with animals and several sites created with homes from different periods in history. There's a 1886 Cotton Planter's farm, which would more reflect the affluent life Zillia came from before her pa passed away. 

Then there's an 1873 Texian farm, which would be more like where Zillia lived with her ma when they moved to Texas. 

Vistors are allowed to tour the buildings and see objects used in everyday pioneer life. It really gives a sense of actually going back in time. And it also helped me add in details I might have missed. 

The farm also hosts an authentic dry goods store, which was handy for me since I reference them several times in the Texas Women of Spirit series.

All in all, the visit was a wonderful experience, and if you're in the Round Rock area I heartily recommend you visit. For more information, check out 

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