October 2020 Featured Article

SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION

 

Hey, y’all. I’m Christian author, Caryl McAdoo, praying my story gives God glory! Although I do write other genres, historical romance family saga is my favorite!

While doing research for my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, I ran across a very interesting incident that some say was a catalyst to the start of the Civil War, and it happened right there in Dallas, Texas where I lived until age twelve. That’s when we moved to Irving, one of the suburb cities to the west, between Big D and Fort Worth.

I set GONE TO TEXAS, book one in the series, in 1840 around the area that would become Irving. It took me five books in to get to 1860, just before the Civil War began so that I could use the Dallas incident called Texas Troubles . . . the inspiration for the title of book five that debuted on September 1st!

It was in one of those extra hot summers where the temperatures burned over a hundred degrees for days on end. I lived through a summer like that in 1980, but back in 1860 they had no air conditioning. Poor people.

TEXAS TROUBLES opens with two young friends about to go into a barn dance.

While the heroine has never said it aloud, her best friend has told anyone who would listen that she loves Aaron Van Zandt, but rumor has it that the dashing young man has taken part in the vigilante justice over downtown Dallas burning almost to the ground. Those blamed for setting the fire—and also in downtowns of Denton and Pilot Point on the same blazing day only hours apart—were slaves.

On that fateful July 8th, the fire started in Wallace Peak’s drugstore in Dallas. All the citizens and store owners could do was run outside and watch. The wooden buildings were so dry, and the hot winds blew the embers from one building to the next. Before it could be contained, half the business district smoldered, burned to the ground.

Besides Texas Troubles, the incident has also been called the Slave Insurrection Panic of 1860 and the Secession of the Lower South. Four short days later an overzealous young editor at the Dallas Herald sent the news to Austin, Bonham, and Houston newspapers, spreading unverified, fake news.

He reported that abolitionist preachers who’d been previously whipped and run out of town had recruited and organized the blacks against the whites, planning a widespread plot to devastate North Texas with fire and assassinations. He also sent the news to the head of the Democratic Party.

Texas Troubles. Image available on the internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107

July 23rd, in the sooty ashes of the County Courthouse, a vigilante group met. One said they should hang all the slaves in the county, but the voice of reason knocked that idea down because of the great loss of property that would hit the citizens. They settled on three black men, one a preacher, and promptly hung them.

Later it was decided that the fire started through spontaneous combustion of the new phosphorous match sticks kept at the drugstore and mercantile in Denton and trading post in the hamlet of Pilot Point. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

One of the two heroes in TEXAS TROUBLES had attended that vigilante meeting and the hangings. The community he grew up in would never approve, so he packs up and moves after accepting a position as a cotton dealer. It’ll get him far away from his judgmental family and friends. Later, he joins the Confederacy efforts.

His best friend Richard Worley is more like a brother; they’d grown up with one another since birth. He along with most of the conservative community join up to serve the Union Army, putting the almost-brothers on opposite sides of the War Between The States. I purposely skirted the horrors of it war. Mostly, it’s told through letters back and forth from the men and the women who love them. Of course, they never wrote the whole truth in their letters.

I think anyone who loves history will enjoy this story focused on those left behind as beloved husbands and sons leave with promises of coming home—though they have no way of keeping them.

I’ve been so blessed in my life not to have been affected by war. My husband was in the navy reserves at eighteen, but got a honorable dependency discharge when we got married in June and I got pregnant in September (also at eighteen). He would have gone to Vietnam. But God . . .

BACK COVER COPY: Brothers are for conflict; and he who finds a wife has found a good thing.

Through the first battle to the end of the Civil war, partners Aaron Van Zandt and Rich Worley fought on opposite sides. The women who loved them lived in prayer and learned to trust God even more to stay sane. While their fellows fought each other, best friends Josie Jo Worley and Cass Andrews battle jealousy, worry, and regret.  Experience the war as one who’s left behind. See how they cope. Readers aren’t able to stop turning the pages.

To read an excerpt, click here!

GAME: And for those of you who love word games, check this one out! So much fun!  https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/1388058/

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