There are five major rivers in Arkansas that have been used for commerce and navigation by steamboats. Name three of them.
Three families made up the “Family” of early Arkansas politics. Name two of them.
Arkansas is the only state in the United States where diamonds have been found. Where can you ‘mine’ diamonds today?
The world’s largest rice processing mill is in Arkansas. Do you know where it is located?
Arkansas is notorious for our nationally televised school integration of Central High School conflict in Little Rock. This was not the first school integration in Arkansas. Do you know where the first integration took place, much more civilized and peaceful?
Was Arkansas a true son of the South and eager to enter the confederacy at the time of secession in 1861?
What was the name of the first newspaper in Arkansas?
What historical site is preserved in Dyess, Arkansas?
Arkansas has the privilege of having the first woman in United States Senate. Do you know who she was?
What is our state bird? (No, it is not the mosquito!)
Eli Lindsey, a nineteen year old, was the first circuit rider in Arkansas holding regular services in an official circuit. He was authorized under the Tennessee Conference to the new Spring River Circuit in 1815, twenty-one years before Arkansas was to be named a state. This was indeed quite a feat for such a young man. Lindsey preached regularly between Batesville and villages in the surrounding areas through 1816.
There is still on going debate as to where the original church was located, but Lindsey is known to have preached many places in those early days. Old stories tell of his preaching in his log cabin with its dog-trot and even his smokehouse. Some tell of the “fine church with the stone chimney” in a large log cabin near what is today Lake Charles in Lawrence County. Before his death, Lindsey and his family made their way to Grant County where he is buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery with many members of his family.
Eli was quite a character. There is an old story that told about one service he was preaching when a bear stopped it cold. The story says Eli ended the service with a prayer thanking the Lord for “men who can shoot and women who can pray.”(Britton, Two Hundred Years of Methodism in Arkansas: 1800-200. p21.)
Why do I take the time to tell you about this little known disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ? Lest we forget the role our early circuit riders played in opening the wilderness for civilization and the growth of our faith, such great men must be remembered. Lindsey alone was said to have ridden a circuit that covered from the White River to the Little Red River to the Strawberry to the Spring River…what at that time was Lawrence County. If you look at a territorial map of Arkansas, Lawrence County was roughly the upper northeast quarter of the state. One learned man, riding a horse, preaching the gospel, caring for the people he met, and helping the frontiersmen begin to tame the wilderness is the picture we have of this young man and the others like him of the few denominations, the early Baptists and Disciples of Christ, that were riding circuits at that time. They established home churches, much like Paul and the apostles did in the New Testament. One such church grew to be the church Lonnie Thomison and his family attended in the Shiloh story.
The Eli Lindsey Memorial Church in Jessup, a tiny community in Lawrence County, Arkansas, is still a viable congregation today. It is the oldest continuous Methodist congregation in Arkansas. Attributed to Eli Lindsey as beginning in 1816, with the original building site being a mystery, Eli’s home site is approximately a mile behind the present church building. The first Shady Grove church building was constructed in 1848 or 1849 on that same site, and it would have been the building where Laurel and Mac would have celebrated their first Easter together. Lon made his profession of faith in that log church on that Easter morning. Shady Grove was rebuilt in 1905 as a beautiful rock church that still stands today. In 1948, they church was renamed to honor Eli Lindsey for the work the circuit rider did in bringing the gospel to the Arkansas wilderness. The church is a National Methodist Historic Landmark.
John Stoll and his wife Elaine serve the Eli Lindsey congregation today, and they have bimonthly services in the historic church.
The current Lawrence County Judge John Thomison and his wife Rita are dear friends of mine and they came to my recent book signing at First United Methodist Church Jonesboro. They live near the site where Eli Lindsey lived in the 1800’s, and today there is a simple marker that indicates his homesite existed at one time in Lawrence County. They have promised me a field trip to see the marker as soon as we have enough frost and cold weather to kill the chiggers and ticks. I am looking forward to seeing this historic place in person.
Below is an example of a single-pen cabin, much like the one Laurel’s father would have built for his family in the mountains in Washington County in the early 1840’s. Notice the shutters that would have covered the oiled paper over the windows. Laurel commented that only the single glass-paned window in the front room allowed bright sunlight. She also told Mac she hoped to have real glass windows in her home someday. Those of you who have read In Search of Shiloh probably remember those conversations between the two newlyweds. Also you’ll notice the cabin is tall enough to allow a loft where Laurel’s sleeping area would have been. This log house is actually near Dalton in Randolph County, but the style and structure is what I imagined for the Campbell homestead.
A second strong memory would be the rugged mountain terrain they travelled in their small wagon, pulled by the mules across the Boston Mountains. Roads at that time were little more than “suggestions of paths from one point to another” according to journalist of the day. They had to make their way over rocky areas and cut their way through forests when necessary. Except for the military roads, which were certainly not modern highways by any means, travelers made their way the best they could.
A third memory from the early part of the story would come from finding shelter under the stone shelf near the Buffalo River not far from Jasper. Indeed with the wagon as a wind break, a couple of oil cloth tarps, and a roaring camp fire such this natural outcropping would indeed be a Godsend to Laurel and Mac. This stone shelf and the scenes above are near the beautiful Buffalo River in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. Imagine Mac and Laurel in these beautiful places.
I have truly neglected this blog. For writers this is a major no-no. When I finally got In Search of Shiloh published at the end of July, I should have made a major effort of get the word out about the book, but you can see by the date of my last post it didn’t happen. Shame on me!
Truth is that this whole marketing thing is really overwhelming. The research, the writing, the editing, and even the work with Create Space who actually produced my Shiloh book was all something I could handle. A retired English teacher who knows little to nothing about the business world could feel her way through those mazes, but the business end of the publishing world is a very different galaxy. It’s filled with concepts of social media, platforms, analytics, and hashtags that are as alien to me as a paved road would have been to Mac and Laurel in my book.
Nevertheless, after returning from my second Blue Ridge Novelist Retreat in North Carolina a week ago, I am convicted that if I am going to get my book before the reading public I must master these beasts of blogging, twittering, and instagramming, to go along with my limited knowledge of Facebook, I must take charge of my blog once again.
So I will set my goal before you…Twice a week I will post something relevant to my interests here. I will update you on the progress of the next volume of the Shiloh Saga, or tell you something about one of the places Mac and Laurel visited during their travels, or shared something about another writer or other interesting Arkansan. I may also tell you some interesting tidbit about this fantastic state I live in. I hope you will enjoy my blog and that you will see fit to follow my musing and drop me a comment from time to time….Blessings, Pat
Below find the back cover and the summary of my book In Search of Shiloh. Yesterday, I posted the front cover and I appreciate all the nice comments I got from my friends and family. Today, I want to start with a short blogging lesson. When a writer uses a blog to communicate with readers, they need a following. That happens when the readers leave comments to the blogger. I enjoy the comments on Facebook, but they disappear as the day goes on. Please take a minute to leave your comments on my blog. They won’t go away and I will have a permanent record that you were here. It is an easy thing to do. All you have to do is click on the comment button, leave your message, and save. It helps me so much when you do that!
I look forward to reading what you have to say about the back of my book. Those are apple blossoms, by the way. They also have a role to play in the story.
Yesterday I submitted the final manuscript to Create Space for In Search of Shiloh. I have made the commitment and finished the first book. I don’t know exactly the date it will be finished yet, but it is now out of my hands. I am so happy! I did what I set out to do. I wrote a book.
This is my front cover. See my name is there…Patricia Clark Blake. I never thought I’d get it done. You can see my road to nowhere in the middle of the picture(one of the chapters talks about that), but the sun is shining too so you know there is a lot of hope in the story . I need to be more faithful in writing in my blog now that I’ve got my first book done. I hope all my friends and family out there will read my story. It is about Arkansas and about life in the days when our state was a frontier. I will post more when I know when and where it will be available. Blessings, Pat
Today, I had an interesting question posed to me. A friend asked why I have spent five years writing about people who lived sixteen decades ago? I had to stop and thing about that…what has drawn me to that time period? I suppose all writers of historical fiction, regardless of the era they write in, have some mysterious draw to that time period not their own. I don’t know that I came up with a very good answer. I know I’ve long been curious about my own family roots and we have ties to Arkansas back to about 1890 or so. Frontier and pioneer life has been part of my family story back before American revolutionary war days, but I don’t know why I “picked” 1857″ as a starting point for Shiloh. I’ll have to think about that one some more. But while I mull that one over, friends, help me out, please….