by Pam Hillman
Except it’s no joke.
For anyone buying, selling, or homesteading land, it’s a very serious consideration. But one person’s great location might be another’s worst nightmare.
And a few days ago, at a family get-together I was able to record my mother’s cousins talking about their parents traveling from Arkansas to Mississippi and back again in the 1930-1940s in search of job opportunities, land, places to settle down.
My niece is starting to document our family history, and she’s already finding ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland who migrated to America for one reason or another.
Just this week a friend of mine asked about the cost of building a house in our area. My son and daughter-in-law are looking around for a location to build a house in the rural area where we live. A retired couple I know recently sold their house and rented a much smaller home on a lake. Another recently widowed friend is looking to downsize in a suburb.
Each are looking for something different. A growing community with job opportunities, good schools, nice restaurants, and for my friends on the lake, boating and fishing played a huge part in their decision.
So, it got me to thinking about my own dreams. My husband is a cattle rancher. We’re attached to the land. We run cattle, and I expect we’ll still be chasing cows wielding our walking sticks instead of cattle prods when we’re in our dotage. Hmmm, I wonder if I can get a 4x4 scooter for My Cowboy? Sorry…cow tr…uh…rabbit trail.
As I thought about location down through the ages, what’s changed? Location is still important, but not always for the same reasons.
And what about my characters’ dreams and reasons for relocating?
They say write what you know, and so many of my books have to do with owning property, fighting over property, cattle, traveling toward property, saving the farm, etc. Buying land, saving land, or finding land just seems to be in my blood.
In This Land is Our Land (The Homestead Brides Collection), my characters are desperate to get to land homesteaded by their father before he passed away. My characters in Shanghaied by the Bride (Oregon Trail Romance Collection) are traipsing across America on the Oregon Trail in search of land and a new life. Slade and Mariah fight tooth and nail over the Lazy M in Claiming Mariah. Stealing Jake isn’t about the land specifically, but part of Jake’s struggle is holding on to his father’s land and coal mine. Meeting in the Middle (With this Kiss Collection)…yep, cotton farming in Mississippi.
I’m all about that land.
I just finished a cool story set on a deserted island in the Caribbean. Castaway with the Cowboy. I love that story. Again, location. The location made the story. Without the location, it wouldn’t be that story. It would be something else. The characters were on their way to Costa Rica (again, land!), but that’s a story for another day, another time.
Historically, people moved for much the same reasons as they do now, but religious persecution was much higher on the list than it seems to be today, at least for those moving within the borders of the USA. Religious persecution and a chance at a better life, which overwhelmingly translated to dreams of owning land, were two of the top reasons people have been on the move for centuries.
None of my immediate family, friends, or acquaintances are relocating for something as life-threatening as religious persecution, but more for practical reasons that have to do with lifestyle choices and careful management.
In The Evergreen Bride (12 Brides of Christmas), a secondary character’s father moves his family every few months. He’s a sharecropper, and he’s got the wanderlust bug bad. It wasn’t uncommon in the late 1800s, early 1900s for people to just pick up and go. I’ve heard stories of people (who may or may not have been kin to me) who’d just pick up and move their whole family in the middle of the night back in the 1930-40s. Weeks later, the family would find they’d settled in some old shack and were sharecropping somewhere else. So, putting aside any traumatic reason for moving, let’s discuss your thoughts on moving on….
What is your ideal dream spot? A cabin in the woods? An artist’s flat above a bakery? A large sprawling estate? How would that dream translate to life in the 1800s? A townhouse in London? A clapboard home in a Shaker village, or even a tepee on the plains with the Lakota or the Sioux? Or even a dugout in Kansas? Which of the photos above catch your fancy?
I’m content where I am. I expect to live and die on this hill. lol
Stealing Jake will be available in print August 1, 2015. Available online and at your favorite retailer.
About the Author: CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com