I am so excited to host Author Charles Suddeth and his latest novel today. As a lover of history, this story sounds so intriguing. So, here it is.
This is a gorgeous cover.
Where the story idea for STONE MAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS came from
I have known for years that the Trail of Tears was complicated and not everyone traveled west. Escaping from soldiers with winter coming on fascinates me. Many of those who fled died of starvation and exposure in the mountains. Some were caught and executed. But a few were able to evade soldiers, weather, and starvation. Many of the Cherokees living on the North Carolina Cherokee Reservation are descended from those who escaped.
Years ago, I met Mack Pennington, my triple-great uncle. He told me the story of his father, Bill Pennington, my great-great grandfather. Bill lived to be a 100, dying in 1930, passing on the story of his early life. Bill was born around 1830 in a Cherokee village in the mountains, possibly eastern Kentucky. The family moved north about 1838, probably leaving to avoid the Trail of Tears. Most of the village moved with them to a rural area between Charlestown and Henryville, Indiana, about 30 miles north-east of Louisville, Kentucky where a mixture of whites and Meti (French/Shawnee mixed-bloods) lived.
When I decided to write about the Trail of Tears, I chose to write about those who fled into the mountains. Their story has not been told. And I wanted this as tribute to Bill Pennington. Though he never contacted the Cherokee tribe and lost his tribal identity, he never forgot his Cherokee heritage. I also wanted to show that kindness and decency have no racial boundaries. Most of all, I wanted an adventure, something children could thrill to.
I camped 4 nights with my 2 young sons along the Mississippi River at Columbus-Belmont State Park in Columbus, Kentucky. I learned that the John Benge detachment of 1,100 Cherokees stayed here in November 1838 during the Trail of Tears. A ferry took them across the Mississippi to Belmont, Missouri, but it took several days. Cherokees camped all over the area, including my camp site (one photo shows the fortifications where I camped).
Thank you for telling us your story.
Bio and Links:
Charles Suddeth has published poetry, picture books, middle reader’s books, young adult thrillers, and adult mysteries in English, Cherokee, and Turkish. He is active with Green River Writers and leads a monthly SCBWI Social. He lives in Louisville and teaches for the Jefferson County Schools.
Website - http://ctsuddeth.com/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/CharlesSuddeth
Find Stone Man: And the Trail of Tears at:
Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130849102?ean=9781939844620
Congratulations on a wonderful book.