When History Gets Personal

Celia Garth coverAs a teenager, one of my favorite books was Gwen Bristow’s Celia Garth. It is the story of a young women living in Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution. It has romance, adventure, history and, best of all, a character with common sense.

I didn’t know at the time that I had ancestors who lived in Charleston during the Revolution. My 5th great grandfather was John Lewis Gervais, a French Huguenot who came to Charleston in 1764 and quickly became involved in politics, serving in the Provincial Congress in 1775, as a member of the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783, and in the State Senate beginning in 1784. After that discovery, I wanted to go back and take another look at Celia Garth but unfortunately it was out of print and my local library didn’t have a copy.

Just recently, however, all of Gwen Bristow’s books have been released as ebooks. Not only that, but at Amazon they are available as part of their Kindle Unlimited subscription service. Reading Celia Garth again was even more interesting. I found myself much more focused on the “background color” that added to the plot line. It made it easier to build a picture of Charleston at that point in time with my ancestors walking the same streets as Celia.

I’ve always been a fan of historical novels, but I wonder what might have happened if there had been a genealogist in the family who could have made books like Celia Garth a more personal experience for a youngster like me . . .

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