Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
A lineup of impressive book and history authors will welcome registrants to the annual 2017 Conference of the James-Younger Gang & family reunion.
The selected authors will focus on the conference theme, “What happened in Missouri began in Kentucky.”
Guerrilla raids and warfare, John Hunt Morgan, social culture that led to war…all vie with personal history written by family descendants about ancestors. These authors bring a unique perspective to the history of the James-Younger Gang and their families that only is found in a meeting like this.
FAMILY PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS
SUE KELLY BALLARD
In My Blessed, Wretched Life, Rebecca Boone’s Story, Sue Kelly Ballard writes a captivating, gut-wrenching, story about Daniel Boone’s wife, Rebecca Ann Bryant. Rebecca and Daniel Boone are 5th great-grandparents of the descendants of Jesse James Jr. and Stella McGowan.
“Ballard captures every mood and moment of Rebecca’s life in the backwoods and on the frontier with accuracy and passion, with authenticity and beauty, and at a pace that keeps the reader diving headlong into each new page eager to swallow up what happens next… it takes a skilled frontier woman…to keep everyone and everything moving along together.”
Born in Kentucky, Sue Kelly Ballard is a Board Director of the Boone Society and co-edits the Society’s Compass newsletter. A member of the Filson Historical Society and DAR, she recently received the DAR Award for Women in the Arts. Ballard is an “army brat,” having lived in several states and overseas. Recently, she retired as a professor emerita of chemistry.
ERIC F. JAMES
In This Bloody Ground, Eric F. James writes a leading-edge history about John M. James, the grandfather of Frank and Jesse. In the epic style of his award winning Jesse James Soul Liberty quintet, Eric draws upon a cornucopia of unexplored sources to reveal for the first time an historical record too long ignored.
This Bloody Ground steers the reader deeply into the Kentucky wilderness with John M. James and his self-exiled bunch of rebel Baptist preachers, from John’s first meeting with Daniel Boone through the resistance and trials of the American Revolution. Facing persistent Indian raids and certain death on this unforgiving frontier, John nearly loses his family. Joined by the families of Lindsay, Cole, Pence, Nalle, Scholl, Hite, Vardeman and others, all bind to one another for self-survival and self-rule. Conspirators threaten and abound. The choice is dire. John’s selection engulfs him. Stay under a repressive Virginia, or join Kentucky to Spain. With statehood overriding, John rises as a political founder and legislative representative. But, ruin remains his destiny. Under threat of revelation, John retreats to Rogue’s Harbor (later called Logan County) to live in anonymity and a new family of his own. Facing death, John M. James still yearns for more revolution. This time, against banks.
Eric writes and publishes Stray Leaves, the official website and blog for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Volume I of his quintet was recipient of the Milton F. Perry Award.
In I Knew Frank, I Wish I knew Jesse, and in Guerrillas and Other Curiosities, Dan Pence edits and compiles a unique personal historical record harvested by his grandfather, the author Samuel Anderson Pence. As an inveterate collector of historical minutia and as a personal friend of many among the Jesse James community, S.A. Pence presents a story with infill information that every historian writing on this subject wishes he knew.
Dan Pence is the present president of the James-Younger Gang.
In Widder’s Landing, Eddie Price writes a story of life, love and survival set against the rugged Kentucky frontier. Craig Ridgeway, a 21-year old gunsmith from Pennsylvania, rides a flatboat down the Ohio River to Kentucky to try his hand at farming. Through an accidental association with a notorious widow (the past proprietor of a liquor vault and prostitution den), he inherits a patch of rich bottomland, embraces a nearby family, and falls in love with the abandoned wife of a violent outlaw. Overcoming inexperience and hardships, Craig builds a promising new life, learning how to raise corn, tobacco and hemp. Inspired by the “Widder’s” recipe, he and his wife Mary manufacture bourbon whiskey, which he markets profitably in New Orleans. A new steamboat embarks on its first journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, ushering in a new economic era.
In a way, Ridgeway’s journey mirrors the arrival of Anthony Lindsay and his family. Lindsay’s young son saw only desperation in the wilderness ahead. If he did not marry a girl from the Quissenberry family on their flatboat, he never would find a wife in the wilds or have a family of his own.
WARFARE PERSPECTIVE AUTHORS
In Thus Fell Tecumseh, Frank Kuron chronicles the battles and hardships of forces on both sides of the early-American conflict of 1812. Specifically, he targets the eighteen month period leading up to the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813 when the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed. Over 160 primary accounts from diaries, newspapers, and letters of troops involved at the Thames provide the reader with the opportunity to solve the mystery now over 200 years old. How and by whose hand was Tecumseh slain? Was it Col. William Whitley, the frontier neighbor of John M. James at Crab Orchard, who killed Tecumseh? Or, was it Richard Mentor Johnson of Ward Hall?
Frank Kuron is a lifelong resident of Toledo, Ohio. He has written history newspaper columns about the War of 1812 for the Toledo Free Press. Frank writes in a personal and engaging style, bringing to light lesser-known people, events, and the aftermaths of the war. He now is researching material for his next book about the frontier life of early America. As a board member of the Fallen Timbers Battlefield Preservation Commission, Frank encourages public awareness of this key, yet nearly forgotten, American & Native American confrontation.
GERALD W. FISCHER
About Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky, Gerald W. Fischer writes, “Usually when people think about guerrilla activity during the Civil War, the border conflicts between Kansas and Missouri come to mind, enhanced by tales of Quantrill’s Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson preying upon innocent townsfolk and civilians. However, guerrilla forces roamed throughout the border states and beyond throughout the entire war. Similar tales can be found in Kentucky, the Virginias, and other areas at a time when loyalties could be found for both North and South. This is especially true for the Heartland of Kentucky…Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Kentucky explores the real guerrilla fighters of the region, their exploits and their eventual demise, along with some of the infamous lawmen and soldiers assigned to bring them to justice.”
Gerald also has authored Battletown Witch, and co-written the book Meade County Families and History. He blogs for the Meade County Area Chamber of Commerce, and writes a weekly history feature for the Meade County Messenger. He is a regular contributor to the Kentucky Explorer magazine. Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Gerald studied history, archeology and anthropology at the University of Louisville, earning two undergraduate degrees in history and anthropology. Graduating with honors from Spalding University with an M.A. in teaching, Gerald taught school in Florida and Kentucky.
WILLIAM A. PENN
In Kentucky Rebel Town, William A. Penn examines Cynthiana, “that infernal hole of rebellion” where John Hunt Morgan’s last Kentucky raid ended calamitously. With Morgan went the Confederacy’s best chance, as Morgan himself opined, “to hold Kentucky for months.” Penn probes the divided loyalties and tense conflicts that wracked the picturesque Bluegrass town during four years of upheaval. Penn traces the local confrontations between Unionists and Rebels with aplomb, giving close attention to the shifting allegiances and fortunes of leading community figures. Penn concludes that a majority of Cynthiana’s white citizens maintained their rebel sympathies throughout the war and far into its aftermath.
Penn examines topics ranging from enlistment and conscription to early confrontations over federal encampments around Cynthiana. Petty jealousies and personal rivalries animate its central characters as much as grandiose claims to Southern honor or devotion to the Union. Penn is at pains “to explore the effects of the war” on all local residents. Drawing from an impressive amount of letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and federal records, Penn highlights the daily physical and psychological struggles that those on the home front endured and the shattering personal losses that were all too common during wartime.
William A. Penn, editor of the Harrison Heritage News, has published articles in Northern Kentucky Heritage and the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly. He is a board member of the Historic Midway Museum, and operates its store in Midway, Kentucky.
JAMES M. PRICHARD
Reviewers say, Embattled Capital is a must-read for students of the conflict seeking an intimate look at how the war affected life in a slave-holding border-state. The book shows that the citizens of Frankfort, Kentucky experienced a much different war. Allegiance was fluid and could change depending on who maintained power. The book’s strength lies in the author’s ability to vividly convey the city’s wartime experiences through the excellent use of primary sources. His skill tells the story of Frankfort’s Civil War and postwar story through the eyes of the local community.
James M. Prichard is the former Research Room Supervisor at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Presently, he works in the Special Collections Department of the Filson Historical Society. He is a regular contributor to Civil War Times, North and South, and True West magazines. His essays have appeared in the Kentucky Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Louisville, Biographical Dictionary of the Union, Heidler’s Encyclopedia of the Civil War, The Worl Encyclopedia of Slavery, Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Kentuckians in Gray, and Virginia at War: 1863.
RONALD WOLFORD BLAIR
Wild Wolf, The Great Civil War Rivalry is the Story of Col. Frank Wolford, the celebrated Civil War cavalier and rival of Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan. Written by Wolford’s second great-nephew, Ronald Wolford Blair, the book discusses in detail Wolford’s heroic leadership in part of more than 300 battles and skirmishes and his notable rivalry with Morgan’s Raiders during which Wolford was wounded seven times. Additional details about Wolford’s political career and personal life are reviewed, plus little-known facts about his staunch opposition and policy dispute with President Abraham Lincoln over the use of black soldiers in the Union forces.
Ronald Wolford Blair is a contributing author of the book, Kentucky’s Civil War: 1861-1865, which won a Governor’s Award, as well as the book, Kentucky Rising, written by his friends, Dr. James A. Ramage and Dr. Andrea Watkins. Ron has written for as the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Lexington Herald-Leader. He is a member of the Civil War Trust for the preservation of Civil War Battlefields. Ron also is a member of several Civil War roundtable organizations, the Kentucky Historical Society, Friends of Henry Clay, and Morgan’s Men Association, among other organizations.
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