Lois Gladys Leppard wrote the Mandie series for children in the 1980s and 1990s. I think I read one as a kid, and they weren't for me. But my best friend in third grade thought they were amazing. From what I remember, they were a bit like a Christian, historical Nancy Drew.
So here's my unexpected family connection. I was Googling my fourth-great-grandfather, Abel Buckner. A dispute about his will ended up in the North Carolina supreme court, and I was trying to find out more about that.
I found court proceedings, but I also found this, from the author's introduction to the book Mandie and Her Missing Kin:
"This book is especially for all you people in and around Franklin, Macon County, North Carolina; and Swain, Jackson, Buncombe, and Transylvania counties.
My mother's people - with the names Wilson, Duvall, Buckner, Guyer, Roper, Downs, Frady, Bryson, Pittman, and many more - came from these counties back in Revolutionary War days, before the land was divided into the present counties.
My mother, Bessie Addiavenia Wilson Leppard, was born in a log cabin at Charley Gap on the present site of Nantahala Inn in Swain County. Her grandfather, Abel Buckner, who owned property and raised his own family at Rose Creek near Franklin, was the first white man to cross the Nantahala Mountain. He bought land from the Cherokee Indians in Swain County. He and his family were among the founders of Maple Springs Baptist Church, and my grandmother, Amanda Elizabeth Buckner Wilson, is buried there. Mandie in my books was named after her and patterned after my mother. "
It took me a while to realize that this Mandie was the same Mandie that my best friend used to tell me about when we were nine. I'm related to Mandie! Or, well, I'm related to Mandie's inspiration and namesake. Close enough.
I wish I'd known thirty years ago. My friend would have been so impressed.
(And the genealogical information in the introduction is pretty great too.)