Monday’s Excerpt: Black Diamonds [Seasons of Change book #1] can be read here:
I’m very interested in local history and wrote Black Diamonds after discovering something interesting in my own family history. A skeleton if you like. I’d never realised before but one of my ancestors from my home town was a pioneer Mormon who emigrated to Great Salt Lake in 1871 and who had opposition from other family members, one of whom was his wife as she refused to follow him to ‘Zion’, so he left her behind and remarried bigamously there, and had further children.
Life was much better for him in Utah with the clean open spaces and fresh air, unlike the dirty grey industrial town he left behind.
Preachers like Dan Jones who made many converts in Merthyr Tydfil often encouraged people to move to Utah. The Church was keen to utilise the mining skills of the Welsh Brethren in Salt Lake City. But the ‘Saint’s who preached on the streets of Merthyr were stoned and treated badly.
I realise how brave my ancestor, William Harman, was as he was offered the chance to be sole beneficiary in the will of rich Uncle Edmund Harman if he chose to renounce his religion. But instead he chose his faith and Utah, his ‘Zion’.
The population of Merthyr had exploded due to the iron works at Cyfarthfa, Dowlais and Plymouth. What had once been a small farming community became a heaving metropolis where Iron was king and coal its Queen.
It got me wondering what life would have been like in Merthyr Tydfil at that time.
During that sort of time period there was also a coal mining explosion at Gethin Pit which killed 34 men and boys in Abercanaid, Merthyr Tydfil. It happened just before Christmas of 1865, and this got me wondering what life in the village would have been like after that.
How would people cope during such a tragedy?
I began to write and research and discovered some amazing facts. Although this is a work of fiction, it’s set around real life events that actually happened in the town.
The protagonist is Lily Jenkin, a spirited young woman, who has just begun working at the local shop when she discovers both her twin brothers have been involved in the explosion. She fears for their safety and it’s while she’s waiting to hear the news that she encounters handsome minister, Evan Davies. They join forces to do what they can for the injured and their families in the village.
It’s a tale of passion and compassion and most of all one woman’s brave heart.