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Thread: Fictionalized story about family history

  1. #1
    "I'm a humanist." Edward Abbey
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    Fictionalized story about family history

    Has anyone written a fictionalized version an episode in their family history?

    I have a great story about my ancestors. They were killed in the Sioux uprising of 1862 in Minnesota. Some call it The Dakota War and now there's a film of the same name. That's on my mother's side. On my father's side, I may have a tiny bit of Sioux blood in me. I've always thought there's a great story in there. I'm not sure I can pull it off, but that's a different question.

    There are only a couple of accounts of what happened to my ancestors. They all came from a neighboring family that was with them near the end, but were split up. The only other evidence was the finding of their bodies. There's a monument to them in the town of Hutchinson, MN.

    I'm just curious if anyone has tried this and how they dealt with familial reactions, etc. Like I said, I'm not sure I could pull this story off without changing all the names and adding more fiction than fact.
    ---
    Current projects:
    ​"Tears in the Firelight" / short story / dystopian
    ​"A Story in the Tracks" /short story / dystopian / western
    ​"The One Law" / short story / science fiction

  2. #2
    down the rabbit hole of research... CWatts's Avatar
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    I think that far back there shouldn't be too much family reaction, but then again my Reconstruction novel came from following an ancestor's brother to his mixed-race wife. Right now I'm using the original names but may change them for publication. I want to follow up with possible descendents but don't want to drop a bomb on people, especially in the South.

  3. #3
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    That far back shouldn't be a problem...unless there's something like a LONG family feud going on. Do ask close family members if they have any problems. They probably won't. Also, check to see if they have primary source material (diaries, account books, letters, etc.) that you may not know about. Those can be really helpful, especially for getting the flavor of the language.

    Best of luck with it!

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  4. #4
    "I'm a humanist." Edward Abbey
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    Thanks!

    There are numerous secondary accounts but only a few primary. My ancestors fled their home with their neighbors in two wagons. They were attacked and the husband was killed. The rest hid for a day or so. The other family remained hidden while the mother and two children tried to reach the "fort". They died w/in sight of the fort. So the family that survived were the only direct witnesses, other than those that did the deed and there's nothing to indicate who that was or if they even survived the fighting.

    The tragic thing is my ancestors had good relations with the Sioux and so ignored warnings the previous day to head for the fort. However, those that showed up that morning weren't known to them.

    I think my MC would have conflicted feelings about the atrocity and dealing with a lot of anger. Of course, it would end with him walking into the sunset with a Sioux woman, not hating anyone. Just kidding. I think it would be better as a cliffhanger.

    One thought might be to make the MC the army veteran that comes to Minnesota after the Civil War looking for his kin. Only then did he find out they were all gone. He had literally come to American and right off the boat was drafted.
    ---
    Current projects:
    ​"Tears in the Firelight" / short story / dystopian
    ​"A Story in the Tracks" /short story / dystopian / western
    ​"The One Law" / short story / science fiction

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Cobalt Jade's Avatar
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    I've been playing with the idea of writing a short horror story about my family -- what I found out about them in the course of doing ancestry research. But I'm going to change names, along with the name of the city, as the story would not be very flattering to the area.
    Cobalt Jade ~ Horror ~ Erotica ~ SFF

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  6. #6
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    That's happened numerous times: the good folk who were persecuted because of stuff other people who looked like them did.

    And yes, there are plenty of family horror stories out there. I've thought of using one of my husband's, but haven't figured out how to do it...yet.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  7. #7
    down the rabbit hole of research... CWatts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobalt Jade View Post
    I've been playing with the idea of writing a short horror story about my family -- what I found out about them in the course of doing ancestry research. But I'm going to change names, along with the name of the city, as the story would not be very flattering to the area.
    A horror story, well that's intriguing. I have a true crime story in mine that's straight out of film noir, especially when the guy got paroled after the first murder (of his ex-girlfriend), took up with a married woman and killed her husband.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Cobalt Jade's Avatar
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    Mine is more supernatural horror. But there is a crime story too. An aunt did shoot her then-husband, who was a police officer, with his own gun. The story was the incident made my own father leave the police force.

    ETA: the guy lived, but he didn't want to be married any more.
    Cobalt Jade ~ Horror ~ Erotica ~ SFF

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  9. #9
    A seadog looking for crewmates Elenitsa's Avatar
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    I want to write a family story too. I wrote here about it.

    Still not sure how to do it, but it is in the baking stage for 2020 or 2021. I have read some family sagas, and in my family there are some childless ladies (including me) being the last branch... So only what's written will remain.
    Last edited by Elenitsa; 02-19-2019 at 08:50 PM.

  10. #10
    Keeper of Fort Blanket L.C. Blackwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by katphood View Post

    I think my MC would have conflicted feelings about the atrocity and dealing with a lot of anger. Of course, it would end with him walking into the sunset with a Sioux woman, not hating anyone. Just kidding. I think it would be better as a cliffhanger.
    Nothing wrong with the happy-ending version, either, because if you take it, you'll have to work three times as hard to pull it off in a nuanced, believable way; and possibly you'll end up with a better novel for doing so. Writing a good HEA is not always the simple route.


  11. #11
    Crossbows and Handgonnes SuperModerator rtilryarms's Avatar
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    is there a name of the husband killed or of the fort? If there is a monument, I might be able to find unpublished info.
    You can respond here or message me

    rt

  12. #12
    "I'm a humanist." Edward Abbey
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    Quote Originally Posted by rtilryarms View Post
    is there a name of the husband killed or of the fort? If there is a monument, I might be able to find unpublished info.
    You can respond here or message me

    rt
    We have the names (somewhere) and there is a marker in the town of Hutchinson. I have one account, but there are a few more out there that summarize or plagiarize the one account, like this one, which has a pic of the marker. The man's name is C.F. Spaude, which is my mother's maiden name: https://www.crowrivermedia.com/hutch...fccb04fce.html
    ---
    Current projects:
    ​"Tears in the Firelight" / short story / dystopian
    ​"A Story in the Tracks" /short story / dystopian / western
    ​"The One Law" / short story / science fiction

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