Saturday, November 16, 2013

Claiming His Holcomb Valley, California ~Tanya Hanson

Caught between a noose and a gold mine cave-in, Tulsa Sanderson will do anything to prove his outlaw brother’s innocence…even if it means marrying a gold miner’s daughter he’s just met. Tull needs every nugget and flake he can pull from beautiful Charmlee’s worn-out claim, but he sure doesn’t need a wife! 

Charlotte Amalie lost her heart, her virtue, and her money to the last disreputable outsider who passed through her peaceful California valley months ago. She has no desire and no choice but to wed the handsome stranger who arrives with a mysterious letter that changes both their lives forever. 

Charmlee and Tull each have plans of their own. He’s committed to saving his brother. She’s determined to leave the valley to find a new life for herself and medical treatment for her twin brother. Marriage will scuttle both sets of plans. But is there a bigger dream for the future ahead that they can’t see? Trusting comes hard for them both, but Charmlee realizes it’s the only way to stake her claim on what’s really important— CLAIMING HIS HEART.

Holcomb Valley, the richest gold mining area in Southern California’s mountains, is a quiet, lonely place these days. Hard to imagine 2,000 folks lived here in the early 1860’s.

But since the Mother Lode has never been found, it’s easy to imagine a few hard-core miners staying behind after the rush, trying to preserve a humble but civilized way of life.

So Holcomb Valley is where I set my first-ever, full-length, historical inspirational Western, Claiming His Heart. I just couldn’t resist.  Hubs and I drove through the valley recently, and I almost heard voices from the past. The Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture “maintain” a dirt road with markers pinpointing places of significance. I think the rustic, rocky road has GOT to be the original one from 1860!

This sleepy quiet meadow was once the site of bustling, somewhat slapdash Belleville. After hunter Bill Holcomb happened to find gold while tracking a wounded bear, a “town” came to life right here. Nothing remains now, but miners’ lore speaks of “saloons, gambling dens and bagnios of the lowest kind.”

The town got its name from Belle Van Dusen, the first baby from in the valley. She was the daughter of the blacksmith, Jed Van Dusen, who was paid $1500 to carve a road down the mountain. Of course she is mentioned in the book as heroine Charmlee’s childhood pal.

This antique cabin is not the original Van Dusen log home, but it was brought to Holcomb Valley to represent a family’s life at that time. Many miners lived in earthen dugouts and shanties on the outskirts.

This arrastra, a circle in which quartz rock was paintakingly ground up by donkey power, plays a part in my story.

A few other structures have been recreated for today’s history lovers, such as Pygmy cabin. Lucky for me! During a sudden spring blizzard, Charmlee and Tulsa shelter cozily in the crazy little structure. Nobody knows why this little place had a doorway  only 4 feet high, and a roof peak only 6 feet, making the side walls very short. In 1983, a fire destroyed the cabin.

Of course, where you have gold, you have outlaws. And this "hanging tree" was supposedly  put to good use, with the branch cut off where an outlaw hung. Or so it's said.  Whether this is the "real" tree, or not, I put it to good use in the story when bounty hunters mistake Tull for a wanted man. 

The hustle and bustle of Holcomb Valley’s mining days only lasted a few years. However, Elias Baldwin, who had gotten “lucky” in the Comstock lode, decided to try again. In 1874, he built a large 40 stamp mill. A new mining town, Bairdstown, with a population of 180 miners, quickly sprouted. However, the mill was shut down after only seven months. My own setting of Spiggleville, with its curious and, I hope, endearing inhabitants, is entirely my own invention.

And yes, Tull's outlaw brother Bronx Sanderson, does have his own up and coming book. I so love redeeming those bad boys!

Have you ever come across a historic place that spoke to YOU?

PLEASE leave a comment today! I'll be drawing one name for either a Kindle or Pdf copy! 


  1. Thanks for the photos and insight into your new release. Best wishes for mega sales.

  2. Love the sound of your book and your pictures are fabulous.

  3. Tanya, I love your post! I had no idea this was a real place--thought it had all sprung from your fertile imagination! To find out that it really existed and you created your book around it is even more fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing these pictures. Excellent post!

  4. Wonderful to be able to visualise thank you.

  5. Hi Caroline and Cheryl, my fellow sweethearts...thanks beyond thanks for your kind words. Yep, Holcomb Valley is lonesome and rustic these days, but its past lives on!

  6. Tanya, I have GOT to read this book. It's on my Kindle, and I just haven't dug down to it yet. I may have to do some major TBR pile shuffling. :-D

    What an educational post! I've always said the best historical fiction educates AND entertains, and your work exemplifies that. HUGS!!!!

  7. Hi Sherry, aw thanks. My regular camera ran out of charge, duh, during our day in the valley, and I ended up using my smartphone for most of the pictures. Soooo glad it didn't disappoint. I appreciate your good wishes..

  8. Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by today! Seeing the pix once again are letting me relive a wonderful day!

  9. Hi Kathleen, I so agree with you. I've read a lot of historicals that sound like a school report...and others where hero, heroine, and conflict could be transplanted to anyplace, anytime. I love that about westerns...the settings and details are so rich and specific as well as entertaining.

  10. Tanya, I love the photos. It brought me back to the scenes in the book. Everyone really needs to read this book.

  11. It's always so much fun to see the setting for a book, even if you do use literary license on it. Congrats on your new release--I'm looking foward to it!

  12. Tanya--lucky you that you found an actual place in which to set a story. It sounds like a fast-paced, emotional ride. I like the way you worked in a history lesson with the synopsis of your book. It's a very good way to promote, and you did it very well.

  13. Fascinating. It's so much more fun when you can see the place that's the setting for a book and I agree, the photos are wonderful. Sounds like one I need to put on my TBR list.

  14. Thanks to everybody for replying. I tried to comment via smartphone (we've been out of town, grandkids) and the sign in page didn't let me do the password. Sheesh. I so appreciate you all. xo

  15. Thanks to all for sharing my joy with me. Mary Preston, your name jumped out of the Stetson. Please email me at tanya DOT hanson AT gmail DOT come. Hugs and God bless...


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