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Author’s Book Signing Uncovers a Librarian’s Family Lore of Jesse James

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

HORSEFLY HOLLAR…The name may fit what you imagine to be Kentucky, but the people of the Hollar may alter your imagination. Librarian Allison White was hostess for my book signing at the Bullitt County Public Library in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Allison hails from Horsefly. There, the family lore  of her and her neighbors make for some very entertaining storytelling. But not the kind of Kentucky stories you might think.

Allison White
Librarian Allison White, Bullitt Couty Public Library

Like the story of the couple who moved to Horsefly from Chicago. They brought with them a city slickers’ fantasy of raising lamas in Kentucky. One of their lamas became real neighborly, coming up to Allison’s bedroom, tapping on her window, and waking her up, after snacking in her garden throughout the night and leaving it ruined.

Or the American husband who brought home a Chinese wife. No one ever has heard one of them talk to the other in the other’s language. Each of them fights in their own native language – never more fiercely than when they both are standing over their vegetable garden in full public view.

Then, there’s Jesse James. “We have a lot of people who come to the library,” Allison told me, as she sat down to order four of my books to stock her library’s bookshelves. “They’re very interested in Jesse James. A lot of them have stories about him and their own family lore.” From what Allison tells me, I think we’ll be looking at a presentation, or two, in the coming year. Wherever I speak, I always come away having learned something new. So I look forward to meeting more of her library’s patrons.

Allison’s family has their own lore about Jesse, too. Her family home once hosted John Hunt Morgan, when Morgan came through, trying to retake Kentucky for the Confederacy. Among them, would have been David Hunt James, one of Jesse James’ distant cousins. Three of Morgan’s Raiders died at that time and are buried in Allison’s family burial ground.

After the Russellville Bank robbery, Allison’s family claimed to have been visited by the James Gang. Her great-grandfather provisioned them with use of his barn, but disallowed their occupancy in the house, because of his three teenage daughters. The family fed the gang in the morning, and one of the gang laid a five dollar bill on the table when leaving. Left behind also was a pipe, which, according to Allison, the family believes may have belonged to one of the Younger brothers. The artifact remains in the family, but the initials on the pipe are as worn as the day when it was left behind.

Eric F. James, Jean Thompson Kinsey
Authors Eric F. James & Jean Thompson Kinsey

Jean Thompson Kinsey is a fiction writer from Logan County, Kentucky. She also was signing books with me, among the large group of authors at the Bullitt County Library Author Faire. Jean informed me that she writes a fictional account of Frank and Jesse James in her Logan County Trilogy, Secrets of Willow Shade.

I met many Kentucky authors I didn’t know before. I was most impressed, however, by these two young authors.

Rebekah McAuliffe interview
Author Rebekah McAuliffe reading & being interviewed.

Rebekah McAuliffe, I learned, started reading at age two. Her mother told me, one day Rebekah was sitting in her high chair. She pulled the newspaper off the table and began to read it. “Then she started to talk about what she had read,” her mother said. “It was then we knew, Rebekah could read.” Now Rebekah is a published author.

Rebecca presented her debut novel Gears of Golgotha. She’s already planning her next book. At her signing table, I viewed her book trailer. Rebekah also may have some filmmaking talent. She said, she was considering making book trailers for authors as a sideline.

Leah Pugh
Author Leah Pugh, reading her book in progress

Leah Pugh read from an upcoming novel she’s writing. I was impressed enough to ask if she also was planning an audio book. Her story telling ability is extraordinary. And when read aloud, her words jump right off the page. But I soon learned Leah is not my discovery alone. Leah Pugh is under contract to write twenty books!

Her initial mystery novel, The Diamond Caper, is doing well. Leah’s presently writing her third mystery novel, Houston, We Have a Problem. Look for Leah Pugh to become the next Agatha Christie.

I’ll have more about the other authors, to follow later.

Bullitt County Library
Librarian, author interviewer,& co-host Patrick. He greeted me at the door by my full author name, that included my middle initial F.
Cover for Stray Leaves Daily
Stray Leaves Daily

Stray Leaves Daily

Daily updates from the family of Frank & Jesse James with stories, photos, & two searchable genealogy databases.

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3 weeks ago
Stray Leaves Daily

Will the real DAVID JAMES, please, stand up and come forward? Are you still drinking this stuff? See MoreSee Less

Will the real DAVID JAMES, please, stand up and come forward? Are you still drinking this stuff?