A few weeks later, I went to the Rockport town library, and the Sandy Bay Historical Society (SBHS) to do a little research. I found the Ebenezer Pool papers--a chronicle written by hand (1822-1870). He wrote that there was a discovery of gold by Caleb Norwood and that, "the money find was not made public, but was of many thousands value."
Hmmm...even more interesting! Gwen Stephenson, kind and patient curator at SBHS, directed me to Fish, Timber Granite & Gold by Eleanor Parsons. In it there is reference to later research which found documents to support a discovery of gold by Caleb Norwood. Parsons also mentions Caleb's great granddaughter, Susannah, who had kept a diary (March 1849 - August 1849) when she lived in that very house we had passed on that spring morning!
Online, I found the published diary by Lucy B. Painter. Later, a Norwood family descendent. When I sat quietly to read the entries, I was hooked. The diary revealed a young woman with fine sensibilities and a reflective mind, a sense of humor and many interests. Most notably, she was a keen observer of nature who seemed to live for solitude--in her "garret," or at the seaside, fields and woods, where she gathered mosses which she would then arrange into beautiful designs on paper.
I wanted to (had to) bring Susannah to life again with her diary entries as a springboard to expand into a "story" consistent with her recorded thoughts, feelings, and the events found in the diary. Ironically, the novella's perspective has Susannah telling her story from an afterlife, "waiting to return to life anew."
Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart longs for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.(W.B. Yeats, The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore)
Book Stew Wilmington TV Finish Line Writers Group Interview and Readings: https://vimeo.com/1653255