Revealing the Research
In Unclaimed Legacy, Abby and John do most of their “time-surfing” in an old house that was once a stagecoach stop known as Shake Rag Corner. Although I took the liberty of fictionally relocating it for their convenience, Shake Rag Corner was an actual stagecoach stop not far from Woodburn, Illinois where I grew up. It still stands today, beautifully maintained as a private residence. I discovered a description of it tucked into the entry for Woodburn in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Macoupin County, Illinois, just one of the cool old books I researched for the Time and Again series. It was not a regular stop for the stages traveling from Springfield to Alton. So if a person wanted to board the stage, the proprietor shook a rag from the front porch to let the drive know to stop.
Shake Rag Corner was not constructed over a log cabin as I describe it in the story. Once again, I
took liberties— to make it fit the plot, but also because I thought it was such an interesting idea. But it could easily have been true. I know of several houses in southern Illinois today with unassuming and ordinary facades that hide the fact that they were built onto and around much older log structures.
Abby and John also time-surf in a fictional version of the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois. (My apologies to those folks for changing things a bit.) It is located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, where Lewis and Clark’s Camp Dubois once sat. The captains recruited the last of the men they’d need from the area and spent the winter of 1803 in Camp Dubois training them and gathering the supplies they’d need for their exploration up the Missouri River to the “western ocean.”
The captains had to be away from camp sometimes, and when they were, Sergeant John Ordway was ranking officer with the difficult task of keeping this bunch of independent young frontiersmen in line. Sometimes, they tried his patience. I smiled to read about the four privates who got into a drunken fight. When Captain Clark returned, he put the foolish young men to work building a hut for the widow who was to be the camp’s washerwoman. Unfortunately, no one thought to record the woman’s name, so I made her the ancestress of the “Old Dears.”
I include portions of a letter Sergeant Ordway wrote to his parents, because it so poignantly reveals the anxieties of the men that winter as they prepared for their great American adventure.Sergeant Ordway’s Letter to his parents
I wish I could take a trip back to visit Camp Dubois and meet those brave explorers gathered there in the Illinois country. The next best thing is visiting the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site. I hope if you’re ever in the area, you’ll stop by the so the dedicated guides there can show you the reproduction of Camp Dubois and the artifacts and displays that Abby and the others saw.
For Further Study
The Lewis and Clark State Historic Site. One Lewis and Clark Trail, Hartford, IL 62048. 618-251-5811. www.campdubois.com.
Lewis and Clark in the Illinois Country: The Little Told Story. By Robert E. Hartley. 2002. Xlibris Corporation. 888-795-4274. www.Xlibris.com
Lewis & Clark’s Illinois Volunteers. By John and Susan Dunphy. 2003. Second Reading Publications. 618-462-2830. email@example.com
Lewis and Clark: Point of Departure. By Timothy S. Raymer. 2004. Author House. 800-839-8640. www.authorhouse.com.
The Settlement of Illinois, 1778–1830. By Arthur Clinton Boggess. A 1974 reprint of a 1908 Chicago Historical Society’s publication. ISBN: 9-781149-54401-3
A Woman’s Story of Pioneer Illinois. By Christiana Holmes Tillson. A reprint by Forgotten Books. www.forgottenbooks.org.
It would be so nice of you to share!