My favorite musical is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and it’s a movie I’ve loved since I was a child. I used to have my Barbies act out the movie.
When I decided to write a Historical Western, I decided to write a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers role reversal, and I knew I wanted to set it in San Diego, where I’ve lived my entire life. Through researching San Diego, I found out a lot of information I never knew.
I looked up snow, which is very rare for San Diego, and I was shocked to find information about a large storm that blew through in mid-January 1882. Originally, I was going to set it in the 1860s, but when I found the information about the snowstorm, I changed it to 1882.
San Diego County was full of cattle ranches, but the cattle industry was virtually destroyed by 1865 after three years of the Great Drought (1863-1865).
I was really surprised to find out the first meeting of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors was held on January 3, 1853. California gained statehood on September 9, 1850.
I knew a fire had destroyed much of Old Town, but I didn’t know much about this incident. It took place on April 20, 1872. Since this was roughly ten years before the main part of my novel, it worked really well into my timeline for the seven sisters.
San Diego Sheriff Joseph Coyne was in office from 1876–1882. I knew I wanted one of the sisters to want to be an officer. The first female deputy was Mrs. Olive Belle Chambers. She became “the first lady with a badge” in 1913. I also wanted Naomi to be based on Annie Oakley. Originally, she was going to admire Annie Oakley, until I looked up Oakley’s timeline. Oakley didn’t start performing in shows until 1886. So, I had to delete that idea from my story.
For some research on San Diego, check out these links.