The community of Markham, Indiana is located in the southern part of the state, bisected by the Wabasso River, which flows into the much larger Wabash River. The community has about 4000 people, and is the county seat of Wabasso County (fictional, given there is no Wabasso County OR Wabasso River in Indiana).
Much of the community's economy comes from agriculture and education. Ambridge College, a private college is located in town and is one of the community's mainstays of the economy. Another major company is Mayfield Manufacturing, which provides products and services for agriculture and industry.
The two principal families of Markham are the Mayfield family, the namesake of Mayfield Manufacturing; and the Merriweather family, a family who used their clout to get Ambridge College into town. Both the Mayfield and Merriweather families can trace their ancestry back to the founding of Markham. For a long time, the Mayfields and Merriweathers moved in the same circles and were considered close friends.
However, all that changed in 1955. For a long time, William Merriweather was engaged and was about to marry Catherine Mayfield. They had grown up together, and William's best friend was Catherine's brother, Aaron. Both had attended the University of Indiana in Bloomington, and were fraternity brothers. However, in 1955, William had been cheating on Catherine with a woman named Elizabeth Snyder.
It wasn't until the day of the wedding, when William callously told Catherine that he had not loved her, he had NEVER loved her, and that he had been cheating on her with Elizabeth. He was so gleeful in his manipulations of Catherine, that she ran out of the church and almost got hit with a car in the main street of Markham. She had been injured, but survived.
Aaron, infuriated at the callous treatment of his sister at the hands of his supposed best friend, went after William and confronted him on what he and Elizabeth had done. William laughed in scorn and told him that if his sister was that naive to think that someone like HIM could love her, then the Mayfields were weaker than they thought!
Reeling from that insult, Aaron Mayfield declared war against the Merriweather family and it's this feud that has lasted to this very day. William had slandered Catherine, by calling her a whore and a slut, which were patently untrue. Aaron, incensed at the slurs aimed at his beloved sister, returned the favor by accusing William of possible child abuse and molestation! These attacks tore at the core of the community.
Aaron married Jocelyn Quintard, a wealthy girl who he knew back in Bloomington, and they were blessed with three children, Andrew; Mary Kate and Jason. Jason is now the President of Mayfield Manufacturing; Andrew was a student at the University of Indiana and wasn't home a lot; while Mary Kate was a student at Ambridge and was considered to be promiscuous.
William and Elizabeth had two children of their own, daughters Frieda and Corrine. However, the degenerate William is suspected of molesting his daughter, Corrie. However, there is a secret that William doesn't know about Corrie. That she is not his daughter. Elizabeth had cheated on him with Jonathan Mayfield, the brother of his former best friend, and it is possible that Jonathan is the father of Corrie.
What could make the revelations even MORE devastating is that Aaron's son, Jason, is in love with William's daughter, Frieda. Frieda, who had known Jason since high school, wasn't into the feud as the fathers were, but she had a bit of anger towards Mary Kate. When the secret comes out that not only are Jason and Frieda in love, but are planning to marry in the Mayfield home, it will force the hated enemies to be in-laws, something neither one want to have happen.