The inspiration for IN THE VALLEY OF HOPE came from a chocolate box of old letters kept by my grandmother since her, as she called it, “courtin’ days. The first page of one of the many letters is shown here. The post office address was from Mt. Jackson, Virginia. Notice that she refers to Charlie as her “big brother.” Also mentioned in the letter is Mary who is represented in the story as Cassie. I changed the name because there were so many real-life Marys. Charlie’s mother and Mable’s mother were both named Mary so, for clarity we now have a character named Cassie.