- Emily Miree was born at Fort Snelling, Minnesota in 1836. Her mother was the sister of James Lockwood, the first governor of Wisconsin. Her stepfather, James Churchman, was a circuit attorney in Illinois, and Emily’s mother traveled with him. They went to California in 1851. Emily was living with the James Lockwood family in 1850. Why didn’t she go west with her mother? James Churchman was a prominent attorney and knew Abraham Lincoln. He went to Valparaiso, Chile, as Lincoln’s ambassador in 1861, taking Samantha with him. Emily had married in 1858. Her husband sold water to the gold miners. They had five children in four different mining towns. Life must have been difficult for Emily–Indian troubles at the fort, stepfather issues as he took her mother traveling, and living hard in mining camps with a young family.
- Emeline Beach was the daughter of Moses Yale Beach, an inventor and publisher of the New York Sun, which at that time was a pioneer penny newspaper. Her mother was Nancy Day, sister of Benjamin Day, the founder of the New York Sun. Benjamin was the family member who sold the family’s heirloom Brewster chest, handed down from William Brewster of the Mayflower. Emeline was a lifelong friend of Mark Twain and might have married him, but her father made it clear he did not want a ‘Western rough-neck’ for a son-in-law. She married the great painter, Abbot Thayer, and lived in an art colony where Mark Twain spent his summers for years. I would love to research these artistic people more deeply and write a story about Emeline and Mark Twain.
- Margaret Cusack was 16 in 1888 when she came to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, from Ireland. Her large family was strongly tied to the MacMillan family, with many marriages and census information showing members of both families sharing living quarters. After the Gold Rush, the timber industry in Northern California created a new rush. Scottish and Irish immigrants poured into the state from Canada, including the MacMillan and Cusack families. Margaret married Michael MacMillan in Scotia, California and they had nine children. For this story I would explore the complex family dynamics of a large multi-generational family making its way in a new state and a new industry.
So what do you think, readers? Emily, Emeline, or Margaret? Who intrigues you the most?