Combining History and Fiction
Uprooted is set in Chicago in June 1860. As I searched for a way to describe the city, its newspaper, The Press and Tribune, seemed an excellent place to start. I didn’t expect to find an event that would become part of the novel, but being from Kansas and having lived in two towns that experienced tornadoes, the story of the tornado that wiped out Camanche, Iowa, and other towns in its path caught my eye and my heart.
It caught Hannah True’s heart too. Her life had been uprooted because her father’s will left her without a home or income, but when she read about the death and destruction caused by the monster tornado, she understood what true loss was.
Then as now, communities came together to help the survivors of this monster storm, originally reported to have traveled one hundred miles, but days later, the distance was corrected:
“…each day has added to the news of the disaster, each mail has brought us fresh accession to the horrors of a Sunday evening when a fiercer tornado than ever in the memory of man visited the tropics, passed over an extent of country, as it now seems from Western Iowa across Illinois, across the lake and thence into the heart of Michigan, a distance of upwards of four hundred miles.”
“The Great Tornado,” The Press and Tribune, Chicago, Monday, June 11, 1860
Woven into the novel are some of the efforts Chicagoans made to help the victims of this devastating event.