When author Karen Peterson Mosley was a teenager, her great aunt sent her some genealogy records.
Among the different stories and pedigree charts, there was an autobiography written by one of Mosley’s pioneer ancestors — Madelaine Cardon.
In Madelaine’s writings, she told the story of a dream she had as a child that led her family to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She wrote about her family leaving their home in Italy and immigrating to the United States.
But once the Cardons reached their new country, the autobiography ended.
“She didn’t write anymore after that,” Mosley said. “But so much happened along the way. It was just an amazing story.”
The more Mosley learned about Madelaine, the more of a hero her great-great-aunt became to her.
“She had such great faith and she put up with so many hard things in order to stay true to what she felt she had found and believed in,” Mosley said.
This admiration Mosley had led her to want to write a book detailing the experiences of the entire Cardon family. The historical fiction book, entitled, “For the Strength of the Hills,” was recently published and tells the story of the family from Madelaine’s perspective.
DISCOVERING AND IMAGINING
Throughout her life, Mosley said she has always loved to read historical fiction. Not only did it entertain her, but it also helped her learn.
As Mosley thought about the Cardon family’s story, she decided writing it in a narrative form would help more people access the story, rather than just have it “stuck away in somebody’s genealogy file.”
Once Mosley decided to begin writing the story, she had to research the Cardon family and the time period in which they lived.
When she didn’t have information about something that specifically happened, Mosley used other records from the time to create context and write about what could have happened.
“It was fun to ... really imagine ‘Well, they could have done this or they could have done that,’” Mosley said.
But, Mosley said, she did her best to always remain true to who she felt Madelaine was.
“She was a very faithful and devout woman,” Mosley said. “She believed in God and every step she made in her life was towards him.”
CACHE VALLEY TIES
Although Mosley’s recently published book is told from the perspective of Madelaine, she also included the stories of the other Cardon siblings in the book as well.
Mosley is a direct descendant Madelaine’s brother, Paul Cardon, who settled in Cache Valley. Because the area reminded Paul so much of his mountain home in Italy, he and his family began raising silk.
The work Paul and his wife, Susannah Goudin, did was instrumental in building up the silk industry in Cache Valley.
The later chapters in the book tell both the story of the family’s role in making silk in Cache Valley and other contributions they made here, including building the Cache Valley home which provided a place to stay for those working on the Logan Tabernacle and Latter-day Saint Temple.
Mosley said it was important to her to highlight how the family shaped the valley.
“Because a lot of them didn’t speak the language very well … they were left out of some of the histories,” Mosley said.
Ann Collins, president of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Cache North Company and member of the board for its museum in downtown Logan, said she is looking forward to reading Mosley’s new book and learning more about the history of a family that shaped the valley.
“I like reading it (history) in a story form,” Collins said. “When I do family history and research, I get frustrated when you just come across facts.”
Collins said well-researched historical fiction can play an important role in captivating audiences. If a person finds something interesting, they may go down the path of learning more about an important event or person, she said.
“I think that is what historical fiction does for me. I will read something and I will say ‘Oh, I want to know more about that,’” Collins said.
More information about “For the Strength of the Hills” and how to purchase the book online can be found at karenpetersonmosley.com.