If you’ve never heard of the Whitman Mission Massacre of 1847, you aren’t alone. Best-selling, award-winning author Tracie Peterson is shedding some light on this little-known tragedy in American history. Her upcoming series Heart of the Frontier accurately captures the cultural climate and heartbreak surrounding this event.
By Deidra Romero
Tracie Peterson has always used her novels to tell history’s most compelling stories while incorporating swoon-worthy romance plots. Tracie has over 100 titles to her credit spanning several genres, however, her expertise is historical romance. To date she has written over 20 historical series. Her novel Treasured Grace (Bethany House) is no different. It will be accompanied by two other novels in her Heart of the Frontier series.
Tracie chose to set this book during a pivotal time in American history. From 1847 to 1848 there was much tension between white settlers traveling west and Native Americans. This was also a crucial time in history when the American government was imposing and relocating many Native American tribes. For context, the Trail of Tears occurred several years prior to the events in Treasured Grace.
AN OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE
Playing off of the book’s title, Tracie’s main character is named Grace. As with most of her protagonists, Grace doesn’t exactly fit within the mold society has cast for her. She is a third-generation midwife. Tracie notes, “Grace is not just a midwife, she’s a healer in a time period when doctors were still not all that respected and in many cases, lacked understanding and education. She has learned these skills from her mother and her grandmother. It’s a family tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.”
In order to write in detail about Grace’s life and career, Tracie had to do quite a bit of research. “I researched a lot of Native-America herbal remedies, as well as those passed down from the Colonial time period in America. I researched what the established medical field knew about various diseases and surgeries and what was considered controversial for the time period, as well as what was widely believed. Sometimes those beliefs were good and sometimes they were deadly and it gave me lots of ideas for my characters.”
After the death of her parents, Grace is left to care for her two younger sisters. “My heroine Grace is a no-nonsense type who sacrifices her own happiness to provide for the welfare of her younger sisters,” says Tracie. After a hasty marriage to a minister, she and her sisters travel West with him. But a cholera outbreak takes the life of her husband. Grace is incredibly resourceful and relies on her well-trained skills learned from her mother and grandmother to build a new life. She and her sisters decide to settle at the Whitman Mission in Oregon Country instead of pushing forward. Many people including the local Natives need Grace’s services.
A CHANCE FOR LOVE
Grace’s love interest in the novel is Alex who has lived in the area for over 10 years. “Alex has been … trying to forget all that he’s lost and the people responsible. He’s a man who recognizes the value of human life, no matter the color of a person’s skin or education,” says Tracie.
According to Tracie the events that occurred in 1847 at the Whitman Mission were the initial inspiration for this series. The mission was used as a stopping place for many settlers on their long journeys. Grace and her sisters were among these settlers. The events detailed in Tracie’s book fictionalize the tragic massacre that occurred in 1847 at the Whitman Mission. “Fifty some women and children were held hostage for a month by the Cayuse Indians. I thought his made for an interesting place to put my fictional characters.”
This novel has it all—set during a complicated time in history, with danger looming we have a protagonist with a unique skill-set and a love interest who has real depth.
The two books that will follow in the Heart of the Frontier series will tell the stories of Grace’s two sisters, Hope and Mercy. They will also release in 2017. Tracie comments, “Each book will also focus on the historical conflicts going on in the Oregon Territory and how these conflicts affect the lives of my characters.”
Find more about the book here:
Heart of the Frontier
LOVE AND ADVENTURE IN ALASKA
In January, Tracie released a novel with co-author Kimberly Woodhouse titled In the Shadow of Denali. It’s also a historical romance set in Alaska during the completion of the railroad and it’s part of their series, The Heart of Alaska.
Find out more HERE.
In the Shadow of Denali
The Heart of Alaska
Tracie Peterson & Kimberly Woodhouse