Monday, October 17, 2016

They Give Me a Reason

Rose Creek Library readers and me.

Readers are the reason I write. From necessity, composing novels is an isolating, alone-in-your-room mission. Years pass while doing research and working out a story line. The task requires reaching the hidden, creative corners of the mind. Enthusiasm may be blunted by doubt. Interruption always occurs. In addition to these difficulties, there are no guarantees that a writer's labors will satisfy anyone. The strategy of this wordsmith involves penning stories that, first, please her. When others are captivated by the characters and narratives, that is my greatest reward.

This summer I met with a book club at Rose Creek Library in Woodstock's Town Lake area. Amy Bailey is the smart gal guiding library activities there. The group was encouraging, humorous, bright-eyed and friendly. They gave me the boost I would be needing. A week or two later, I discovered a health challenge. During problems in my life, faith in the finished work of my Redeemer has made me an overcomer. I know it is the same for many of you. So prevail on!

When able, I've been plugging at the keyboard, finishing the next part of the Woodstock series. I'm liking the results and think readers will, too. There is still work to be done, but I'll give you a hint of what is to come in In the Land of Courage. Characters from the two previous novels return and make themselves known in this new story, set in Woodstock of 2009. That year, changes good and bad materialized. We locals know it all. So much for truth, now on to fiction. Brian Barton, a young man introduced briefly before, is featured in this latest novel. Standouts, Hank, Elizabeth and their son, Manuel Averill, bear on the outcomes. Mid-life lovebirds, Marissa and William Dash exert their warm-hearted influence but inadvertently  provide the occasional kerfuffle.

Established in 789 A.D., Fez, Morocco entices visitors to enter. One of the gates, along the 13th century walls, leads to the mysteries of the medina
Shutterstock - Miqel
The narrative takes Brian, once affectionately known as champion of Woodstock, from his safe haven. Recently robbed of his courage, he's plummeting. He's given up the pastorate and his cherished wife seems to be drifting away. When he's least prepared, a promise made years earlier returns to haunt him. An orphanage for girls in North Africa calls. All eyes are on Brian. His nagging conscience and the sudden opportunity to regain his wife's confidence compel him to travel to Morocco where he will navigate twisting streets in the ancient city of Fez, a place where nightmares roam freely. For Brian, his experience will be like staggering, blindfolded and shaking, along the heights of the city walls. Will that metaphorical precipice cause his final tumble? Only the story knows.

The unexpected awaits at the end of smothering alleys in a city as old as time.
Shutterstock - Adwo
I will keep you apprised of the goings on regarding In the Land of Courage. May your days be filled with rewarding books that make you put aside your concerns, books that inform, entertain, and uplift you.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock. She is also the author of the Woodstock series: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Inevitable Question Turner (reenactors)

Today in Georgia: June 11 is the day, 152 years ago, that added a short but interesting event to the chronicle of our south Cherokee County history. 

Involved in the occasional Woodstock project, I constantly meet new residents. Often, they are from anyplace but the South. Michigan, California, Indiana, New York, Ohio and even England come to mind. I enjoy chatting with newcomers, learning their story. When they discover my interest in local history, a gleam of interest sparks in their eye and the inevitable question arises: "What happened in Woodstock, during the Civil War?"     (A Confederate reenactor)

First I stammer a little, wishing I could relate a big Gone-With-the-Wind-type report. But I smile and press on with the more simple truth. Back then, Woodstock was a small hamlet dotted with farms and further anchored by a few cotton plantations with slaves. Those plantation homes, like Doctor McAfee's, resembled something much more rustic than the antebellum mansions usually pictured in our minds. McAfee's fields consisted of 400 acres along the old Alabama Road, named Highway 92 in current times. 

Woodstock men volunteered their service to the Confederacy and left their homes and families, and the war was a somewhere-else-fight until 1864. Union forces left Tennessee and began their campaign for Atlanta. Armed and ready contingents entrenched at Kennesaw Mountain where a great battle of bombardment and gunfire would take place on June 27. Daily, patrols zigzagged over the Cobb and Cherokee line. Tension added to the rising summer heat. Woodstock folk, who hadn't skedaddled south, must have simmered with anxiety as they waited to learn if they would see action. (Reenactor prepared for trouble)
Indeed, a clash erupted at a spot you probably know well: the junction of Highway 92 and Canton Road (Woodstock's Main Street). Doctor McAfee's home and grounds, central point of the skirmish, fell to ruin long ago. Today, a Sherwin Williams store has taken the spot. 

Drivers move along, unaware a 19th century conflict ranged over the spot.

Most of what I share, below, comes from a well-researched article, "Skirmish at McAfee's Crossroads," by Gerald Flinchum in the book, Cherokee County Voices From the Civil War.

Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard had been working the area to the west, posting some of his men at Big Shanty in Kennesaw and, northward, at the Tyson Farm headquarters, positioned between Wade Green Road and Bells Ferry Road, on the old Alabama Road (Hwy 92). (A reenactor at encampment)
On the morning of June 11, Gen. Garrard sent the 1st Cavalry Brigade, under Colonel Robert H.G. Minty, eastward, over that same road, with the goal of crossing Noonday Creek near Woodstock and routing out the Confederates as the Union force proceeded to Roswell. A brigade comprises 500 to 1,000 men. Garrard strategically sent another brigade from Kennesaw, up the Big Shanty Road all the way to Woodstock where they were to attack the Confederate flank. After studying Garrard's map, I think the Big Shanty Road they traveled is present-day Cherokee Street to Shiloh Road to Shallowford Road to Jamerson Road to Hames Road that exits onto Highway 92 (My unsubstantiated guess!) (Union reenactors)

Near the crossroads of old Alabama Road (Hwy 92) and Canton Road (Main Street, Woodstock) breastworks protected the Rebel cavalry, who outnumbered their opposition and prepared to hold off the Union advance. (Reenactors portray Confederate cavalrymen)

At first, the Union cavalry tangled with pickets, the rough line of guards meant to give warning to the main force. The fighting must have been brief but fierce. Mid-morning, Minty's men drove off the pickets at McAfee's. 
Then the real engagement began with charges and counter-charges. Fighting went into the afternoon. A lot of scrambling must have ensued. The Union forces had taken a line of breastworks but could not advance. Later, Minty discovers a large contingent of Confederates situated a quarter mile south on the Canton Road, and he orders the federal brigades to fall back.

Some Confederate prisoners had been taken. Sources vary, but it is believed only two or three were killed on each side.  I speculate that dismounted troops hid behind thick tree trunks. Fences, the high breastworks, and Doctor McAfee's framework house probably protected others. Although, General Garrard did not make the headway he wished that day, he was not held off long. He learned the Confederates were moving eastward. The Union sought a advantageous spot to cross the Chattahoochee. Roswell possessed a covered bridge.  Garrard followed on their heels and, 24 days later, entered Roswell. Rebels had burned the river crossing. Garrard found the three large mills in recent operation. Workers cranked out wool and cotton cloth, rope and canvas, supplying the Confederate army. The 4oo women who operated the machinery had not fled. General William T. Sherman called it treasonous and ordered Garrard to immediately send the workers and their children on foot to Marietta and then, by train to the North to find work there.
Unidentified girl in mourning dress, holding framed photograph of her father as a cavalryman with sword and Hardee hat. (image ID ppmsca26863) -- Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Today, I'm glad our newcomers from the North don't ask me to explain the antebellum mindset of that long ago time! I could not justify such thinking, although born and raised in the South. Weighing the arguments of economic impact and states rights, one still wonders how southerners didn't see the wrong of separating from the Union, the evil of slavery and the great folly their decision would become. 

Closing, I should mention anomalies existed on both sides. A New York Tribune article and one from the Philadelphia paper, The Patriot and the Union, protested the treatment of the Roswell women and their children. Few people realize that some southern plantations and their slaves were owned by northern businessmen. Roswell King, originally from Connecticut, established the town of Roswell and used his slaves to build his impressive mill complex. Pierce Butler of the Hampton Plantation on the Georgia coast near Darien, came from Philadelphia. In contrast, during the Confederacy, a number of Cherokee County people opposed slavery and supported the Union. They did so quietly. Some suffered physically and materially for their sympathies. Cherokee County Voices From the Civil War tells all about the subject, the good and the bad.    (The aforementioned book was produced by the Cherokee County Historical Society and Cherokee County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee)

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock. She is also author of the contemporary Woodstock novels: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile.

Friday, March 18, 2016

True Grit in Old Woodstock

Woodstock's  John W. Edwards and Amanda Chandler Edwards, at their home on Arnold Mill Road, circa 1894.

The woman, Amanda Chandler Edwards, in the photo appears too tired to gaze into the camera. Perhaps her fatigue that day resulted from overwork and the emotional ups and downs she suffered for a stretch of years. Nevertheless, she persevered.

As a young woman, Amanda's husband died, leaving her with two little boys and heartbreak enough to fill her teacup with tears, I imagine. At the time, the  small family lived just south of the county line, near Trickum Road. The demands of an 80-acre farm required Amanda's wisdom and a lot of her energy. With her remaining strength, she taught school, sold eggs and butter and reared her fatherless sons. Her challenges mounted. One day, Walter, her six-year-old son, played with other children near a well and fell down the 60-foot drop. Claude, older brother by two years, relates in his memoir that the area was sparsely populated, then, but miraculously a local man happened to walk down the road. He brought the boy to safety. (In the photo, that's Claude on the left and Walter on the right, three years after the incident). Amanda must have sprouted a few gray hairs, on that near-disaster day. Time passed. After seven years of wearing out herself with responsibilities, her life took a turn for the better.

So you must be wondering about that man in the photo, the one displaying an empty sleeve. John Edwards, a Woodstock man, lost his arm in the Civil War, during the battle for Atlanta. After the war, he didn't waste time bemoaning his loss at a time when earning a living was physically challenging. Although right-handed, he taught himself to record data with his left. Capable with numbers, obviously trustworthy, he was elected tax collector three times. His 1906 obituary describes him as a "Christian gentleman" and "broad in his views, yet strong in his convictions and generous to a fault." 

John (56) and Amanda (39) married in 1894 and produced a baby girl, Eva (in photo). The couple sold Amanda's farm and bought another on Arnold Mill Road. Claude and Walter grew up to be fine young men. Eva also flourished and married. Claude taught school, established a store with a partner and served as mayor of Woodstock at one time. Walter preferred to work the farm. Claude married in 1910. His wife died a few weeks after childbirth due to complications. 

Amanda, nearing her sixties and alone again--John Edwards passed away several years earlier--stepped in to help raise the baby, Maye, until Claude later remarried. The child grew up and became a teacher and popular pianist in Cherokee County. Years later, Maye described her grandmother as a devoted Christian who even managed to read her Bible while she churned butter. 

Amanda lived to be 93. It's evident where she got her true grit.