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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Sometimes the Hero Doesn’t Get the Girl

Sometimes the Hero Doesn’t Get the Girl

Before beginning my manuscript The Caged Graves last summer, I researched the history of Pennsylvania’s mountainous Columbia County in the 1860’s. But my plotline incorporated a lost Revolutionary War treasure, so I also researched events of the 1770’s, when this county was under threat from British forces and their Indian allies. These events were only peripherally related to my manuscript, but I discovered many tantalizing little tidbits I wished I could use.

Take Moses VanCampen. He was nineteen years old in 1776 when he wanted to sign up with a Columbia County regiment joining Washington’s army near Boston. But some older men talked Moses into staying at home as part of the local militia. Young Moses was a crack shot, as well as a level-headed young man – somebody they could count on to defend the Columbia County civilians. He agreed to stay and take on the job.

Moses was ordered to build a fort near Fishing Creek to provide shelter for the locals in case of an attack. Moses chose the home of Isaiah Wheeler as the location for his fort and directed the construction of a stockade fence around it, large enough to accommodate all the inhabitants of the area. His choice of property was influenced by personal reasons: he was courting Wheeler’s daughter, Ann, at the time.

So, Moses built a fort around the home of his sweetheart, and even before completion, it was put to the test. Indian raiders attacked and burned neighboring homes, but the settlers themselves fled to the safety of the half-completed Fort Wheeler, which withstood the attack. For the next year, Moses VanCampen made Fort Wheeler his headquarters as he ably defended the region with his company of sharp-shooters. In fact, Fort Wheeler was one of only two local forts to survive the war.

However, Ann Wheeler married VanCampen’s best friend, Joseph Salmon.

There’s a story here. A very human story amidst all the history. I kept imagining Moses living at that fort, perhaps even quartering in the Wheeler house, fighting off the Indians and the British while simultaneously losing his girl to the arms of his best friend. Moses and Ann and Joseph had no place in my story, The Caged Graves – they lived 100 years earlier and on the other side of the county – but I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

Why didn’t the hero win the girl? Was Joseph more handsome — more charming? Was Ann fickle? Or did Moses have some flaw that drove her away?

Maybe I’ll write about them some other time – or maybe they’ll be just a tantalizing tidbit of history that will always leave me wondering.

5 Responses to Sometimes the Hero Doesn’t Get the Girl

  1. Linda G. says:

    Or maybe Moses was too stalkerish for Ann. 😉

  2. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss dianne! i like that history story. im thinking while mr moses was fighting off those indians mr joseph was messin round with miss ann and maybe she got liking him better cause he gave her presents and lots more attention. girls like that stuff. (i think):) have a real nice weekend and a happy easter.
    …hugs from lenny

  3. Wow. That’s incredible.

    Maybe Ann saw Moses as someone would would want to build a figurative fort around her long after the war was over…it happens.

    Fascinating, fascinating post. Just loved it. I hope you do write about them one day I’d love to read it.


  4. Orlando says:

    Love is always unpredictable. A person can be perfect, to some standards, but not enough to win fair maiden. Because she’s in love with the other guy. Maybe the poor, guy with no future, but nonetheless, the love of her life. There is a story because he didn’t win the girl but he won the war.

    Could he have possible stood down as a favor to his best friend who had no one and loved her deeply? He could have taken a closer look to realize he was the third wheel. There are so many possibilities twist and turns that it truly makes for an awesome story. I encourage you to write a second book with this story line.

  5. DCHoppy says:

    You would enjoy the website that I created in tribute to Moses Van Campen – http://www.MosesVanCampen.com