Tuesday, March 19, 2013

HISTORY OF SAN SABA COUNTY AND SIMPSON CREEK, TEXAS





When I was selecting a locale for my "Brides of Simpson Creek series for Love Inspired Historicals, I researched several areas in the Texas Hill Country, my favorite part of the state. I finally selected San Saba County, and because it's easiest to design a fictional community set in a real area, I named my town after the real Simpson Creek that runs into the San Saba River. Simpson Creek is pictured, above, but imagine my surprise when my husband and I actually went to San Saba, Texas, found the creek, and nearby that, an historical plaque commemorating the fact that there had actually been a community named Simpson Creek there. You can imagine the chills up my spine...
 I designed the fictional town of Simpson Creek with a main street running east and west, with the eastern edge of the town and the church right on the eastern edge of the creek. As I wrote the first few books in the series, this creek would be the site of a Commanche attack, a place for the couples in the books to fish, walk and get to know one another. A lumber mill would be situated along the mill, and nearby, the school. 

San Saba Texas, which is just west of my fictional town, is situated on the Edwards Plateau in central Texas. The San Saba River runs through it. Before the town was organized, the area was frequented by Comanche, Apache, Tonkawa, Wacos, Kickapoo and Caddo Indians, and was the site of a Spanish mission, Santa Cruz de San Saba. In 1847, a treaty between the German Texans and the Comanches was signed. In 1856, the county was organized from Bexar County and named for the river and the town of the same name selected as the county seat. There were about 1425 people in the county in 1870. San Saba bills itself as the "Pecan Capital of the World" due to the work of Edmund Riesen in improving local nuts, especially the pecan, but the trees were native to the area and were a cash crop as early as 1857.
My favorite place in the area is the Wedding Tree, an ancient live oak situated on China Creek road just north of San Saba, which was the site of Indian marriages and later the wedding site of frontier settlers before the building of churches in the area. The tree is massive and shady--pictures don't properly do it justice! I made it the site of the wedding between my hero and heroine in THE SHERIFF'S SWEETHEART, which was published by Love Inspired Historicals in 2011. I wanted to call the book THE WEDDING TREE, and in fact, this was the only title I've ever really tried to insist on with my publisher, but they like to put occupation-related "hooks" in LIH titles, so this is one battle I did not win. :( But I'll always think of that book with *my* title, so there! :) )

 Of course, the best time to visit central Texas is in the spring, particularly mid-March to mid-April, when the bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are at their peak. They were actually a little past their prime when we visited for this research trip, but I think you can get the idea of how glorious a whole field of them could be.




Now, as we live the subject of San Saba and Simpson Creek, Texas,

 

 I'd like to mention the book I'm giving away as a prize to one lucky commenter to this blog entry, my May Love Inspired Historical, HILL COUNTRY CATTLEMAN. This is the story of Raleigh Masterson, a cowboy and former cattle drive trailboss, and his unlikely romance with Violet Brookfield, sister of an earl. Violet comes to Texas to write a western while waiting for scandal to die down in England, never guessing that she'll remain in Texas with Raleigh. Remember, the more comments you make on Christian Fiction Historical Society this month, the more chances you have to win a KINDLE at the end of the month!
                Blessings, Laurie Kingery

 

59 comments:

  1. I love Texas... I think that it is my favourite state! :)
    Lisa
    deiselbuffs@yahoo.ca

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  2. Lady DragonKeeperMarch 19, 2013 at 3:36 AM

    How neat! I like seeing how authors build their settings --and "Hill Country Cattleman" sounds like it has an unusual cast of characters. Thanks for the chance to win!

    jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

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  3. Certainly my favorite state too, Anonymous! I think of Heaven as my ultimate home, and Texas as my soul's earthly home, even though I live in the north.
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

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  4. Thanks, Lady Dragonkeeper. Worldbuilding for a book *is* fun. And I'm always interested in unusual email names. Would love to hear how you selected yours. :)
    Blessings, Laurie Kingery

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  5. So cool to learn some more about the setting of the Brides of Simpson Creek! I love this series so much and I can't wait to read Hill Country Cattleman!!! It sounds so amazingly awesome it's very near the top of my to-get list! Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy!

    gatorade635(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Abby Hart, thanks for letting me know you're enjoying the series! Good luck!

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  6. I can imagine the thrill you had as you discovered that marker for "your" town. Thanks for the chance to win one of your books. This contest has been so much fun!

    bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)com

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    1. Connie, thanks for posting. Good luck with the contest!

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  7. How cool and exciting to find out that a town that you created was actually a town the really existed and you did not know it. I am sure you were very excited to find this out. Thank you for the giveaway.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

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    1. Angela, it was fun telling y'all about "my" town. I find myself wondering if any of the inhabitants were like my characters. :)

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  8. I like your name for your book better, too! "The Wedding Tree" has such a nice ring to it! :) And the real Wedding Tree was very cool.

    jimmynmatthewsmom [at] netzero [dot] com

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    1. Hi Jimmymatthewsmom,
      You are obviously a woman of taste and discernment! Thanks for posting

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  9. The Hill Country is my favorite part of the state. When we go to Fredericksburg and Kerrville, I want to live there, but then we have to come back home to the flatlands of the coast. The bluebonnets aren't as pretty this year, but oh when they are and you look out at that sea of blue,your heart swells with love for a God who gives us such beauty. Great post about our state. Thanks, Laurie.

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    1. Hi Martha, at least you live in Texas, right? I'm plotting a return to live there someday. ;) Fredericksburg is one of my favorite places, and I've often thought living in Kerrville would suit me fine--any place in the Hill Country! Thanks for posting.

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    2. I'm glad you visited and did your research. As native Texan, I get upset when a section of our state is described and I know it's not like that at all. We do have a great variety from the Big Bend and its mountains to Palo Duro Canyon to the great pine forests to the Gulf Coast, from the big cities to the small country towns, Texas is as diverse as our nation. I look forward to reading your book. I have some wonderful pictures from near Kerrville that are beautiful.

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  10. Loved your post. So much goes into writing a book. In my mind you just sit down and it comes flowing out! Guess not so much! I'm with you on "The Wedding Tree" title but perhaps that's where publishers talents lie--who knows! Love meeting new-to-me authors. Thanks for the opportunity to win one of your books...Linda
    dmcfarl101(at)juno(dot)com

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    1. Linda, some days it *does* come flowing out, but usually, yeah, one has to work at it. Maybe for hours, and then the flow begins, hopefully. There's nothing like a deadline to make that happen. Nice "meeting" you too.

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  11. Wow, so interesting!! Love this contest - it's so nice to learn about so many things in one place. thanks for the giveaway
    truckredford (at gmail ) dot {com}

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    1. Eliza, thanks! I'm learning a lot at this blog, too!

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  12. I love it when it seems like the Lord has led your creativity and backs it up with historical fact. Beautiful place, and lovely post!

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen! It's nice to get to know you better here.

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  13. Sounds like a book I would really enjoy! Thanks for the chance to win...

    Karen Schulz
    aregeetee5162 at yahoo dot com

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  14. Sounds like a fun book, I'm sure a proper English Lady never imagined staying in Texas!

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Patty, thanks for your comment. I confess I like to write "fish out of water" stories like that. :)

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  15. Interesting and informative post. I love visiting the Hill Country. I'm a transplanted Texan who has now lived here longer than in Indiana, where I was born, or in New Mexico, where I grew up.
    I'd love to win the book. The Kindle would be great because thn my husband could still play Angry Birds while I read.

    Connie Lewis Leonard
    rycon70@att.net

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    1. Hi Connie,
      My dad was a Hoosier too! He met my mom while she was in nursing school. I'm envious that you live in Texas now...Good luck with the contest--I can't get very far on Angry Birds at all. :/ No patience or finesses, I guess.

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  16. Great post and pretty photos. I truly enjoy this new blog!

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    1. Thanks, Chaplain Debbie! I'm enjoying reading my fellow blogmates' posts, too, and it's nice to get a chance to use my Texas photos.

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  17. Very interesting. Loved to hear about your research and the pictures were great. I like the name The Wedding Tree best, also :)
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. Thanks, KayM! I wish I could have prevailed on that title too, but now I'm working on an Oklahoma Land Run book and I have a title I want to keep my title there, too. Wish me luck! :)

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  18. I loved reading about The Wedding Tree and the picture was pretty. Thanks for having the giveaway.

    Rose
    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Hi Rose, you're very welcome! Come back often!

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    2. Rose, you are my winner! I'll email you separately to get your address.
      Blessings, Laurie Kingery

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  19. Oh I love Texas history! I want to see the Wedding Tree in person now. :)
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

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    1. Sue, I love Texas history too! It's worth the trip. San Saba is a nice little town.

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  20. I lived in central Texas a few years ago. We enjoyed driving to various places in the Texas hill country. I especially loved the bluebonnets and other wildflowers, so it was nice to see the photos you included.
    Thanks for a chance to win in the giveaways.

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. Pam, thanks for posting. Always nice to "meet" those who appreciate the Hill Country and its wildflowers.

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  21. WOW! I live in Texas, and love these books that take place in our huge wonderful state. Loved the San Saba story, and would love to win your give-away of "High Country Cattleman". I was also married to a cattleman. Please put my name in the hat! Thanks Laurie.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Maxie, it's like a whole 'nother country! :) thanks for commenting.

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  22. Enjoyed the snippet of Texas history :) I have visited Texas once and driven through the state at a different time, but have not explored any areas. Your books sound wonderful. I love books set in an area I can learn more about. Thanks.

    bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Betz, you've got to go, and start with the Hill Country in April. Unforgettable! Thanks for commenting.

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  23. How exciting to create your fictional town only to find that a town of that name actually existed. It was obviously meant to be.

    I would love to be entered to win your new book. I love the Love Inspired Historical line of books!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. Cindy, I'm glad you're liking LIH! I'm blessed to be a part of them. Thanks for commenting.

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  24. Enjoyed reading about the site for the setting of your book - I think books based on real places make the reading more enjoyable also. I've heard about those beautiful fields of bluebonnets from a native Texan - would love to see them! Thanks for the opportunity to win your book!

    bonnieroof60@yahoo.com

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    1. Bonnie, I hope you do get to see them. The peak of "bluebonnet season" is mid-March to mid-April, and the more winter rain they get, the more plentiful they are.
      Then in May the gold flowers come out. It's just like Heaven!

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  25. Oooooohhhh! I love San Saba! We have friends who had a section of land that backed up to the river and had a small "canyon" on it. We went there on vacation many times during my growing up years. There is this little Church of Christ that we would visit that only had about 10 members. We we went, my dad would be asked to lead singing AND preach! (He started coming prepared after that first time! lol)

    I can't wait to read your book! I bet it will be such a visually "real" story in my head while I consume the words. :)

    sherrinda (at) gmail (dot)

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    1. Sherrinda, thanks for commenting! It's neat that you've been there. My childhood memories are made up of visits to San Angelo and the neighboring small town of Christoval out in West Texas. So your dad is a preacher? Great that he could preach on short notice like that.

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    2. My grandparents lived in San Angelo for quite awhile, but their main home was Robert Lee...not far from San Angelo. Actually, my dad was not a preacher. He's an artist and author, but he can preach when needed! He is such a godly man and is well spoken and well read. (both my grandfathers were preachers though)

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  26. I have a friend from Texas, she is moving back there soon. :(

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    1. Bookishqueen, I like yer monicker, as the old cowboys would say. I'm envious of your friend, but hope to move back there one day too. Thanks for commenting.

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  27. i wish that the history classes in schools took advantage of fiction authors to tell the stories. You make even the facts sound interesting, and since history is just someone(s) thoughts on things that happened, your novels would be great. Thanks for the chance to win!

    mitziUNDERSCOREwanhamATyahooDOTcom

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    1. Marianne, thanks for your comment. History didn't come alive for me until I started reading historical fiction. It's so much more interesting when it's about people, not just dates.

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  28. Ms. Kingery,

    I'd love to visit that part of Texas at some point, because I've read quite a heap about the Hill Country and of the surrounding areas inbetween San Antonio + Dallas/Ft. Worth. OF the metroplex, I lean towards Ft. Worth + Arlington as being the two places that I know I'd enjoy seeing up close and in person! For the Hill Country!? Its harder to focus in on, because you have such a lovely array of small townes that hug close to the larger cities, like Georgetown! :) Texas has this personality that most of us have grown up with knowing one way or another,... either through literature inside the stories we love to read or through tv series, like Walker, Texas Ranger or Dallas or any of the others that have become beloved! :)

    Thank you for a chance to win a copy of one of your books! Its been awhile since I've read a western historical and I appreciate the chance! :)

    inkand-blogaways(at)usa.net
    //Florida

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  29. Hi Jorie, thanks for commenting. I spent some time around Dallas and Ft. Worth after the ACFW conference last September. I prefer those smaller towns myself and the surrounding countryside. I'm not really a big city person. Yes, Texas has a certain personality--we say it's a state of mind. :)

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  30. I love your book cover! And the story sounds fantastic! :)

    I enjoyed the photo tour, especially the bit about the Wedding Tree. Lovely!

    Thanks for the insight into central TX and for the giveaway opportunity!

    Morgan
    morganleanna16@yahoo.com

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  31. Georgetown has a wonderful breakfast place!! Yum, Yum. You can order what you want without a menu.
    I love the Texas bluebonnets and the red arrow flowers. We are hoping to add grasses and wildflowers so we don't need to mow our side fields here in the Missouri Ozarks. How excited you must have been to find the historical plaque after you had already named your town!!
    Enjoyed reading your post. Historical fiction is my very favorite genre. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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  32. This sounds like a great book, nice cover too.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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  33. I've loved every book in the Simpson Creek series, please add me to the drawing. Thanks!
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

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  34. Thanks for some history of Texas. It would definitely be interesting to learn more about the real Simpson Creek and its former inhabitants. Thanks for the giveaway.

    deamundy(at)gmail(dot)com

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