As a writer, you never know what you’ll find when you start doing research.
For instance, I recently looked up information about the Battle of Saratoga. This important battle in the American Revolutionary War plays (a small part) in my current writing project.
When I began my search for information about this battle, I had no idea what I’d find. As I scanned and scrolled down through the thousands of other websites, I suddenly noticed a post showing the name of one of my ancestors.
Positive that I was seeing things, I clicked on the link which took me to an old blog post written by a bookseller. Upon reading her post I discovered she had found a book—a very old book that was in terrible shape. At first she was just going to throw it away due to its poor condition. Then she started looking through it and discovered there was writing on some of the pages.
Here are the photos of the pages she shared on her blog:
Now some folks might not get excited by the sight of this scribbling from an old book. But as a person heavily involved in searching for my family genealogy, I instantly recognized the name and place of birth shown as being that of my 4th great grandfather, Solomon Wallace Stewart. Being able to see the very pages that he wrote his birth information on—and the names and birth dates of his children—made chills go up and down my arms.
Finding this was totally awesome.
Since it was such an old blog post (from 2007) I sent a message to the bookseller asking if she still has the book in question (which was printed in London in 1780.) I haven’t heard back from her yet, but if she does still have the book, chances are pretty good that I can’t afford to purchase it anyway. Just having the photos of the pages, though, are something I never expected to have. The information I found has helped to verify some of what I already knew, plus given me a few more facts I didn’t have, adding one more piece to the genealogical puzzle of my ancestors.
Now, back to my writing project, I did find the information I needed to complete the scene in question.
But for a few hours my work of fiction took a back seat to real life history.