Bonus Material: More Than Words Can Say in Honey Grove, TX
When I first searched for a setting for More Than Words Can Say, I was simply looking for a place relatively close to Pecan Gap, the town where I set the first book in the Patchwork Family series. A place where my hero, Zacharias Hamilton, could have his freedom and still keep tabs on the adoptive siblings he cares so much about. I searched a small radius on the map and discovered Honey Grove, Texas. That name was just too adorable not to use. I knew I had found my next setting. What I didn't know was the impact this decision was going to have on my story.
As I began to research the sweet little town of Honey Grove, I uncovered a treasure trove of history. Guess who gave the town its name? None other than hero of the Alamo – Davy Crockett! Legend has it that when Davy Crockett was on his way to join the fight at the Alamo, he stopped in a grove of trees and set up camp. There were so many bees in the trees that in letters to family and friends, he called the place a "Honey Grove." He carved his initials into one of the trees and intended to return and settle there after the battle with Santa Anna. Unfortunately, as we know, Crockett did not survive the Alamo and therefore did not return. One of his friends, Samuel A. Erwin, later found the grove and became the first settler in 1839. Many people recall seeing the initials carved into Crockett's bee tree even into the early 1900s, which leads me to believe that this legend is based in truth. It doesn't play a pivotal role in my story, but if you watch for it, you'll find it mentioned.
Discovering the Honey Grove Preservation League's website proved a tremendous boon. Their online historical resources are some of the best I have ever come across. Historical photos, newspaper articles, government records—it was like stepping through a time portal every time I visited. And I visited often. Here is a photo of the Honey Grove Town Square from 1884. I imagine it looked much the same in 1896 when my story takes place. Abigail's bakery sat on the east side of the square in the middle.
All this research fodder truly brought the town to life in my mind and on the page. I incorporated many real places (churches, shops, homes) and even a few real names of people living during the story's era. I don't always set my stories is real places, but when I discovered the rich history of Honey Grove so well-preserved, I knew this would be the perfect setting for Zach and Abigail's love story.
In fact, I fell so much in love with Honey Grove, that I decided to hold my official book launch there. What a fabulous event that turned out to be! The Preservation League, Friends of the Library, and Chamber of Commerce all partnered with me to promote Honey Grove and my book. I had nearly 100 people turn out for the discussion and signing! In keeping with my baker heroine, we also had a bake sale to raise money for the library, and every item was sold. We also did a walking tour of the area, and I had the honor of pointing out places that Zach and Abigail would have walked and conducted business.
Here is the east side of the town square today. I pictured the Taste of Heaven Bakery in the shop with the cute teal awning.
The church Zach and Abby attended was moved from its original location in 1936, but the building is still standing today and has some lovely stained glass. The stained glass was not in the church during Zach and Abby's time period, but all the history living in those walls certainly was.
Honey Grove boasts some fabulous Victorian homes that have been restored to their former glory. The pink and green houses were built around the turn of the century, a few years after my story takes place. I don't have a date for the gray house, but when I saw the red, white, and blue bunting, I knew I had to snap a photo since my story includes much bunting and decorating for a Fourth of July parade and celebration in Honey Grove. The white house, the one that is not quite as aesthetic as the rest is actually my favorite. That's because this is the James Gilmer house that I reference in the book. It was being built in 1896, and in my story, Zach delivers the lumber for this house. It was a piece of my story truly alive and well.
After I had a chance to visit, the town blossomed in my imagination, bursting with color and life. Walking the same streets as my characters is a privilege I will not soon forget.