Roll Out the Barrel. . . and a new book

My new book, The Descendant’s Daughter, entered the editing phase this week. I also worked with the cover designer to create the book’s cover. Release day is coming soon. I feel like I’ve stepped onto the fast track.

This is a new genre for me. The contemporary story is laced with romance, as is the historical tale. But the story worlds are two hundred years apart. The hero in the history is my great-great-grandfather. I grew up hearing stories about him. My parents owned a piece of his original land claim and I spent my teen years on the farm.

My great-great-grandfather, a skilled cooper, was quite a figure of a man. When he left his family on the east coast and headed west, he brought important skills with him. He had apprenticed as a cooper, working for the Syracuse Salt Works, making fifty cents a day.

A cooper was an important, if not revered, tradesman in the early 1800’s. This was the fellow who used curved wooden staves to make the barrels, casks, and buckets needed to transport just about everything imaginable. These containers usually bulged in the middle, kept round with hoops strategically placed around the outside to bind the vessel together.

Before the days of boxes and plastic packaging, dry-tight coopers (a specific tradesman)  made barrels and flasks to encase goods like flour and gunpowder, while wet, or tight, coopers made containers for long-term storage or transporting liquids. White coopers (no reference to race, just a name) made straight-staved washtubs, buckets and butter churns, useful for holding water or other liquids, but these items weren’t useful in shipping. Settlers crossing the prairie needed well-built cooperage to carry the foodstuffs critical for survival in the days ahead.

In Ecclesiastes 9:10 we are admonished to do all things well. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”  This was especially important to coopers whose work could mean the difference between survival on the prairie or perishing from starvation.

My great-great-grandfather had remained in Syracuse when his family moved to Wisconsin, but an injury to his foot prompted him to join them a little later. He helped his father build a house of hand-hewn timbers as well as feed a family of thirteen siblings. The dinner table was kept stocked by hunting and fishing. He arrived in the wilds of Oregon with valuable knowledge necessary to prove up his donation land claim. Four years in untamed territory wasn’t much time to make a home, but many adventures awaited him when he rode into the Willamette Valley.

His story is part of the upcoming release of The Descendant’s Daughter.  Watch for cover reveal news, prize giveaways,  and other special announcements in my newsletter.

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See you there.


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