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Books, Books, Books

by Jim Cummings

Remembrances of World Wars

By Kathy Cummings

Most of the books we have reviewed over the years have been classic books about history.

For the first time I am writing about a book written recently by someone I know personally.

“Remembrances of World Wars” is a personal and in depth look at the two world wars of the 20th Century. Both of these Wars had an impact on the now 95 year old retired General.

I met the General in the course of my work with The Painted Stone Settlers of Shelbyville, KY. Van Stockum has lived in Shelby County, Kentucky since his retirement from the Marines in 1970. He is a past president of the Filson Historical Society in Louisville and has always been active in historical circles including the Shelby County Historical Society. His second book dealt with Squire Boone and Nicholas Merriweather from 18th century Kentucky.

Remembrances
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Kathy Cummings and General Ronald Van Stockum.

So when the General told me his third book was about the World Wars, I was not as fascinated as I had been with his earlier 18th century work. Until I read it.

Van Stockum manages to make this book both factually interesting and biographically interesting. He was born one week after his British father died at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. I have read very little about WWI, but hearing the stories of his own parents struck a cord with me. The numbers of killed and wounded in that global conflict are astounding by today’s standards. We mourn every death in the military today but have no frame of reference for Britians loss of almost 20,000 soldiers in one day of battle. And these were events that triggered events in his own life. Following his father’s death his mother joined The Women’s Royal Air Corp. She later came to the United States and married Anton Van Stockum an emigrant from Holland who became a US citizen and then a US soldier.

So it is fair to say that his life could have been completely different had it not been for WWI. He lived with his parents in and around

Washington state and attended The University of Washington. It was as a cadet in the Army Infantry ROTC that fashioned the next portion of his life. He was offered a direct commission as a second lieutenant in the Regular U.S. Marine Corps.

The portions of the book dealing with World War II are all taken from personal memories. Van Stockum served on ships throughout the Pacific and interacted with others, who like him, are now part of our history. So take it from me - history is history. If your specific intersts are Colonial America , The War of 1812 or the Civil War, don’t block out other eras and other books. For history is an ongoing study and to really understand it we need to look at all of it’s facets. And my personal thanks go out to General Von Stockum for starting me on a new historical journey through World War I and World War II.

Read more at www.paintedstonesettlers.org including information on purchasing this book.

A Newsreel of Van Stockum

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Other books by Ronald Van Stockum can be purchased through Amazon

Kentucky and the Bourbons

The Story of Allen Dale farm

vanstockumbooksm
Allen Dale Farm

Squire Boone and Nicholas Merriwether

Kentucky Pioneers

A Book for these times

Home Country By Ernie Pyle

A Book Review by Kathy Cummings

ErniePyle

Several years ago we picked up a few used books by Ernie Pyle. Pyle is most remembered as a War Correspondent in World War II. At the height of the war his columns appeared in over 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers. Pyle had begun his career working for Scripps Howard Newspapers in the US. I remember my parents talking about Pyle and the war years and as a lover of history thought the books would be interesting. Well, like a lot of things, they got shelved for a while. And strangely enough one night the book I pulled from the shelf was not about World War II. It was titled Home Country and was a compilation of Pyle’s columns from the 1930’s. 

As I got engrossed in his travels from coast to coast and beyond, a new look at America during the great depression began to form in my mind. In 2009 we are going through “tough economic times.” Unemployment, foreclosures, business bail outs all are making news. And not to make light of today’s troubles but - Home Country gave me a realization that we don’t even begin to know what tough times are about.

I can’t believe that in just a few short generations America and Americans have changed so drastically. The things that hit home for me were the prices, the courtesies and the clothing. The Pyles (he traveled many times with his wife Jerry, but only referred to her in his columns as That Girl) were taking an ocean voyage. The ship left San Francisco and had a day’s stop in Los Angeles. Having been to Los Angeles many times before, Pyle decided to stay on the ship and invited some friends to join them for dinner. 

“The steamship people wanted three dollars apiece for those guest tickets - six dollars to feed a man and woman that weren’t very hungry anyway.” Pyle and his friends were amazed. Instead they went in to town “bought a dollar’s worth of sandwiches, came back to our cabin and ate them, right there on our luxury liner.” They also had a good long laugh and made sure “the steamship people could hear them.” Needless to say we couldn’t feed four people sandwiches today for even six dollars. And we take it all for granted.

I also read about Pyle buying a suit. He noted it in his column because the suit came with “two pair of pants.” One had the usual buttons and the other was the first pair of pants that he ever had with a zipper. I guess I have always taken zippers in clothing for granted. It explains why my grandmother always was so picky about the zippers she bought to sew into clothes. Pyle’s new zippered pants didn’t work very well. After getting stuck in them several times he wanted to return them.

Hats, hat check girls, people making a living in Alaska, the leper colony in Hawaii, the dust bowl and traveling through the deep south were all a fascinating look back in time. As Pyle’s columns gained popularity he had access to more and more famous people. But it never varied - it was his own view of life whether interviewing a bell boy or Walt Disney. He met the famous and the poor. He traveled to town, country and tourist destination.

But Pyle’s life was changed with World War II. His columns from the front proved as fascinating as his columns at home. He didn’t write of tactics and battles. He wrote of soldiers and people. He gave Americans at home a glimpse of what life on the front was like.

He told the stories of soldiers far from home. He went through North Africa and into France with the troops. Today’s embedded corespondents are nothing new.Pyle left Europe but always considered Europe - “his war.” He went on the the Pacific Theater in early 1945 but never felt the rapport with the sailors and soldiers that he encountered there as he did in Europe. And it was on the island of Ie Shima on April 18, 1945 that Pyle was killed. A sniper fired at the jeep that Pyle was riding in and all took cover in a ditch. When Pyle raised his head to look around for the others that were with him, he was killed instantly by sniper fire.

Ernie Pyle's books include Ernie Pyle in England (1941), Here Is Your War (1943), Brave Men (1944), Last Chapter (1946), and Home Country (1947). Many additional books about Pyle and different compilations of his columns are also available.

Erniepyle2

There are many sources for more information about Ernie Pyle on the internet. He was born in Dana, Indiana in 1900 and attended Indiana University in Bloomington. Both the home in Dana and the university have information on Pyle. He also lived in New Mexico and the home he and is wife lived in there became a lbrary branch. The most comprehensive article on Pyle that I found on the internet is at http://journalism.indiana.edu/archive/news/041505pyle/

And needless to say after Home Country I have moved on to reading Ernie’s War.

Hannah Fowler

Early Heroine of the Frontier

A Book Review

By Helen E. McKinney

“The woman hunched by the ashes of the dead fire, her big shoulders squared forward. With a shingle of sycamore bark she raked back and forth, searching for a live coal.”

And so begins the story of Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles. Written in 1956, Hannah Fowler is the second book in Giles’ The American Frontier Series. The series depicts women and men of the 1700s.

Hannah Fowler is a fictionalized female counterpart of Daniel Boone. “She can do everything,” said Clara L. Metzmeier, Professor of English at Campbellsville University. Metzmeier is also president of the Giles Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Giles’ log home in Adair County, KY and keeping Giles’ literature in the public eye.

Hannah does live up to her reputation: she cooks, builds a lean-to, hunts, weathers the terrible winter storms of 1779-80, is captured by Indians and escapes while pregnant, and bares several children. Hannah is a strong character that gains even more strength over the course of the novel, proving what the human body and spirit can endure when pressed to the limit.

From the beginning, Hannah had it in her to tame the wilderness, one feminine step at a time. She set out for adventure with her father, Samuel Moore, and lost him to blood poisoning enroute to Kentucky. By the novel’s end, she has come full circle with herself, strengthening her inner character as well.

Her marriage to Tice Fowler is one that was probably quite common on the frontier. They married for convenience: Hannah wanted to escape a barrage of suitors at Logan’s Fort and be left alone, and Tice wanted to gain a companion to ease his workload. Had a young, single woman been able to claim land for herself at that time, Hannah would have left the fort and planted a small crop in order to claim a pre-emption for deed. Hannah knew she could make it alone, and Tice, “just never seems to need anything more than he’s got.”

Janice Holt Giles from an early dust jacket photo

B ut, he does need Hannah and together they brave the hardships many settlers faced. One particularly vivid scene in the novel is the winter of 1779-80, when wild turkeys froze while roosting. The detail and clarity with which Giles writes is wonderful. “You know the weather by what Giles puts in her books,” said Metzmeier.

Giles felt her character had to be strong, had to meet a certain criteria in a historical perspective, said Metzmeier, who also lectures through the Kentucky Humanities Council. “Once she finished the book, she knew she had written a good book. It took a lot of energy out of her.”

Women were sparse on the frontier and their load was not an easy one to bear. Hannah shouldered as much work as any man, as all frontier females had to do. If a spouse were away on a long hunt or defending the infancy of the independent new nation, women were expected to pick up the workload at home. They didn’t stand behind the walls of the fort and shake. 

In addition to household duties (cooking, churning butter, spinning wool, mending clothes) they had to tend to the livestock and crops, plus ward off any would-be Indian attackers. Keep in mind, they did this while raising a brood of children upwards of ten or more in number. Raising a family is a full-time job, but added to a frontier woman’s list of endless duties, it would make even the strongest of 21st century mothers quake.

When two Indians stole into Hannah’s home by surprise while husband Tice was away, she guessed they would take what items they could use and burn the rest with the house. “She looked on, feeling sick at heart.” Many women had to endure the horror of watching their children die and the humiliation of having their homes destroyed before their very own eyes.

“The kettles and pots and ladles and spoons, they were as known to her as her own hands, her palms worn to their curves and fitted to them.” Her mind raced as she thought of how the older Indian hacked apart the bed Tice had hewed out during the winter. “Suddenly she was infuriated with them, plundering, destroying, mutilating her things.”

The second Indian set fire to the barn and crib, and killed the stock before setting the house on fire. As Hannah was marched away, “She did not look backward. In her ears as she walked off was the sound of her home burning.” As the crackling and hissing sounds of the fires filled her ears, she thought of the resolve it would take to return home. Even though she had nothing to physically return home to, her determination to keep her unborn child safe led her back again.

Hannah Fowler may be a fictionalized character, but she put forth many characteristics that her real-life counterparts had to possess to survive. For many of the women, strength came from within to face the dangerous perils of everyday life on the frontier. It’s not easy to bury a child one day, give birth the next, and fight off an Indian the following day. This may be a slight exaggeration in some cases, but these women had to possess nerves of steel to face a constant barrage of factors that slowly chipped away at their humanity and sanity. We’ll never know the sorrows our frontier mothers kept hidden away to bravely face tomorrow’s hope for a better life for their family.

Hannah Fowler embodies the spirit of women on the frontier. Her bravery and fortitude led her through many everyday situations faced by real women on the frontier. One of my own distant ancestors, Catherine Surray Finnell, clutched her infant child so tightly that she almost suffocated it as she traveled by canoe down the Red River, which borders Clark and Estill Counties in Kentucky. She clamped her hand over the baby’s mouth to keep it from crying out and alerting any camouflaged Indians as to the presence of white people on the river. For a time, John and Catherine Finnell lived at Fort Boonesborough.

Were it not for these real women of the frontier, we would not be here today. While it is the male surnames history books remember, we owe a lot to the silent voice of these women of the past.      

Source: Giles, Janice Holt. Hannah Fowler. Boston, 1956

Mount Vernon Love Story  A Book by Mary Higgins Clarks

Review by Jim Cumming

While rummaging thru one of my favorite book stores (which I often do) I noticed on a sale table a book by Mary Higgins Clark. You know - one of the most popular novelist on today’s best seller lists.

I saw the title first Mount Vernon Love Story. Being a George Washington fan it caught my eye. But seeing the author I thought it might be just one of her romance or suspense novels. It wasn’t a large book just a small story. And as I was reading the dust jacket - boy was I surprised. This little gem is a historical novel chocked full of historical facts.

Mount Vernon Love Story was Mary Higgins Clark’s first novel and last (as far as I know) work of historical fiction. It was written and published in 1969 under the title Aspire to the Heavens which was the family motto of Mary Ball Washington, George’s mother. All the events, dates, scenes and characters are based on historical facts.

The information researched was from presidential letters. both personal and official correspondence. Other sources include the letters of Martha Custis Washington and her family and friends and also letters from members of the army including officers and Washington’s aide de camp.

Mary Higgins Clark loves history and one of her first jobs was as a script writer in 1969 for a radio station. She was writing a series for radio entitled “Portrait of a Patriot”. They were vignettes of American Presidents. And it was this research that later led her to pursue and write Aspire to the Heavens which was re-released in 1996 as Mount Vernon Love Story.

In her own introduction she explains why she wrote the novel.

The four love’s of Washington’s life were: Mount Vernon, Sally Carey Fairfax (his best friends wife) Martha DandridgeCustis, and his country. Clark really got into his head. This was one book I could not put down until I had finished it.

Clark made George Washington, a warm friendly and sincere individual. It was a side of Washington that I had not viewed before and it gave me an insight into the man, his moods and why he did some of the things he did.

She explored his love for Sally Fairfax the wife of his friend and neighbor George William Fairfax and how he could have made one of the greatest mistakes of his life had he pursued this love.

She details his meeting with the widow Martha Custis (whom everyone called Patsy) and the subsequent marriage. She also explores his love for the Custis children and finally his all consuming love for Mount Vernon.

The story starts at the end of his second Presidential term and just before the inaguration of John Adams. While the festivities are beginning Washington begins to contemplate and reminisce on his public and private life which Clark handles very well. And all the while looming in his mind is his long anticipated return to Mount Vernon and his desire to once again become simply, Farmer Washington.

Mary Higgins Clark shows the man behind the legend. A man of passion and flesh and blood, with a rare and lasting marriage she brings to life “The Father of Our Country.”

Mount Vernon LoveStory can be read by all ages. I purchased it at Barnes and Noble - or they will order it for you.

ISBN 0-7432-2987-8 Mary Higgins Clark, Simon & Schuster.

The Spirit of The Border
by Zane Gray

Published in 1909

Review by Jim Cummings

The Spirit of The Border is Zane Gray’s second in a trilogy of books written about the west. Not the far west past the Mississippi but what was once the western most part of our country - The Ohio River Valley. This story takes place at Fort Henry (present day West Virginia) in the late 18th century - in the 1780’s.

The Spirit of The Border is Zane Gray’s second historical novel based on the lives of his ancestors and taken from the family bible and other family records handed down through the generations. Gray wrote this book in 1909 just a little over 100 years after the actual events took place. He also used as a source his great, great grandmother Zane.

Gray’s first book, Betty Zane, was so successful that his wife and friends encouraged him to write another on the exploits of his ancestors, and the white avenger Lewis Wetzel. The Indians called Wetzel “the wind of death.”

Gray places you, the reader, there at Ft. Henry along the Ohio River and the beautiful West Virginia mountains. It is a chance to experience what the early settlers went through - day and night. It gives new appreciation to our forefathers who hewed an empire out of the wilderness. Surrounded daily by Indians, hardships and almost certain death to themselves and their families if caught in the open fields or tracks. And death by the Indians was not pleasant - although it was usually a swift death.

This trilogy by Zane Gray in the Ohio Valley gives you a good start in the study of Lewis Wetzel, “Wind of Death.”

I give this book a Tomahawk up for historical fact, easy reading and just enough fiction to keep you reading and wantng more.

I do disagree with Gray’s account of the massacre of the Moravian Indians at Gnadenhutten. But perhaps that fact that he takes a different slant than historians had to do with family information that we were not privy to.

A passage from Spirit of the Border.

“Girty, thy race is run.” Wetzel’s voice cut the silence like a steel whip. The hunter’s right arm rose slowly, the knife dripping with Deering’s blood, pointed toward the hilltop.

On the dead branches of trees standing far above the hilltops, were many great, dark birds. They sat motionless as if waiting. “Buzzards! buzzards! hissed Wetzel.

The Girty’s

Spirit of the Border also focuses on the Girty Brothers. Similar to Wetzel in their zeal and readiness to fight they were simply on opposite sides. The Girty’s lived and traveled with the Indians and The British while Wetzel abhorred the Indians

This book and the rest of the triligy are still in print and can be ordered at most bookstores. ISBN 0-812-53466-2

The Winning of the West
by Theodore Roosevelt

Review by Jim Cummings

About the Author

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States. Roosevelt was born in 1858 in a house on East 20th St. in New York City. He served as Vice President, and became President adter the assassination of William McKinley (1843-1901) who was president from 1897 - 1901. 

On September 6, 1901 at Buffalo’s Pan Am Exposition an anarchist by the name of Leon Czologasz gunned down McKinley with a .32 caliber Iver Johnson revolver at point blank range.

President McKinley took two shots - one in the breast and one in the gut. He died of his wounds 8 days later.

Theodore Roosevelt was quickly sworn in as the 26th president. (By the way, Leon Czolgosz went to trial, was found guilty and sentenced to die by electrocution all with in 45 days. That was swift justice. When Czolgosz went to trial, he was asked why he did it, he simply said, “I thought it would be a good thing for the country - to kill the president.” With his attitude someone should have revoked his passport.)

Theodore (or Teddy as he was so affectionately called) Roosevelt was at the time in 1901 the youngest president and also the wealthiest. 

With his infectious smile and robust personality and a “can do” attitude he was popular among the people of the United States. But not so among the politicians and players of his day. Teddy was his own man and difficult to handle. He did things his own way.

Historian   Police Comm  Naval Sec.   Rough Rider   Govenor    Vice Pres.   President  Peacemaker   Mighty Hunter

He was very active and athletic - a dynamic, colorful, adventurous man. But it was not always so. He was a sickly child, with asthma and poor eye sight growing up in New York. He was constantly picked on and goaded by the other children in his plush neighborhood.

Roosevelt was the seventh generation of Manahattan ancestors who came there in 1644. His mothers family owned slaves and also belonged to the Knickerbocker Society.

Roosevelt was once quoted “at one time in my youth I was so puny looking that I had no shape at all. I looked like a stick.” He also said he minded terribly being beaten up and harassed but that it made him a stronger and more intellectually motivated person. The asthma attacks forced him to read. The sickly childhood forced him to build himself up physically. Those two things made the man.

Roosevelt went to Harvard where he made good grades and developed his love of history. While there he became a lightweight boxer. As a young New York Assemblyman he fought a corrupt legislature. He had a ranch in Dakota. He was a New York City Police Commissioner. He was a colonel in the Spanish American War. He was governor of New York and President of the United States.

But his greatest legacy to the people of the United States were his writings. He authored over 30 books and while in the White House he wrote over 150,000 letters. 

The Winning of The West

His greatest writing, in my opinion was “The Winning of the West’” It was a six volume set covering the early United States. It covered from North to South, from the Eastern seaboard to the “West” .

In Volume IV, in his prolific style he wrote about Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Mad Anthony Wayne, Lord Dunmore’s War, Indians of the Borders, The backwoodsman, The Eastern Woodland Indians, The Battle of the Great Kanawha, Logan’s Speech, The Moravian Massacre, Kentucky up to the end of the Revolutionary War, .Boone and the Settlement of Kentucky in 1775, Kentucky’s Struggle for Staehood, 1784-1792, King’s Mountain, the northwest Territory and Ohio, and much, much more. His research was unquestionable. The power and wealth of the man gave him sources that not everyone could reach.

The Books

“The Winning of the West” is now out of print. But tracking down a used copy is not that difficult. Check used books stores and research it on the internet. Book IV is a must have - but buy the whole set if you can find it - and afford it. It can only go up in value.

If you love history and a re serious about the study of it, it is worth it to find Roosevelt’s work.

Related Works

There is an introductory book about “The Winning of the West” that you can order from your local book store. It gives you a good idea about the books and is pretty thorough in it’s information .

The last reprint of “Winning of the West” was in 1976 and was edited by Peter Smith. ISBN )-8446-2827-1, published by Peter Smith Publisher, Inc.
 

You might also want to check out “Hero Tales from American History” that Roosevelt co-authored with Henry Cabot Lodge, who was also a n historian and naturalist. And don’t forget other stories about Teddy Roosevelt including his biography. They all make for great reading.

 

Betty Zane
by Zane Gray

Review by Jim Cummings

Historical Information

When one hears the name Zane Gray the image of cowboys, Indians and the western frontier of the 19th century usually come to mind. But Zane Gray began his writing career from family records of accounts of his ancestors. His first books were based on the historical accounts of the family of Ebenezer Zane.

The Zane family built and protected Ft. Henry which stood looking over the Ohio River where present day Wheeling West Virginia stands.

The book is supposedly based on the lost journals of Colonel Ebenezer Zane and other family records and papers, including the family bible. Gray’s second and third books also deal with the historical characters of his grandparents.

The Story

Betty Zane was the sister of Ebenezer Zane. This first book deals with the heroism of Betty Zane during the Indian attack on Ft. Henry.

When the threat of over 600 Indians and British combined to attack Ft. Henry in September of 1782 the alarm was sounded and all of the nearby settlers headed to Ft, Henry. Betty Zane and some of the other young women sought shelter in the fort and helped out wherever they could. Colonel Ebenezer Zane already knew there would be many casualties in this battle.

The Ebenezer Zane family did not live at the fort but in a cabin about 150 yards away on a bluff overlooking the river. Zane felt that having these two vantages points each could help protect the other. This proved true in small Indian raids but with the arrival of 500-800 British and Indians his theory proved doubtful.

Ebenezer, his brothers, their wives and a few others were at the cabin when the attack began.

At Fort Henry was the famous Indian fighter, Lewis Wetzel. And for those fans of Lewis Wetzel there are a lot of interesting stories about him in Zane Gray’s books.

The Indians attacked at day break and the Battle for Ft. Henry began. Both sides fought hard and fearlessly, neither opponent giving an inch. Losses were heavy on both sides. The battle raged on for a day and a half and the fort stood it well. The Indians tried to torch the roof and Wetzel and the men inside not only had to continue fighting but had to put out the fire as well.

Betty Zane and the other women in the fort loaded rifles, carried water and cared for the wounded. When a pioneer fell Betty took up his rifle and fired as accurately as any of the men. She stayed at her post until another man could replace her.

Late during the second day powder began running low. One of the men was sent to the store room to get the last keg of powder but it was not there. (To learn more about what happened to the powder you’ll have to read the book.)

Things started to look bleak after it was reported to Wetzel that there was no more powder. He knew it would only be a matter of hours before the fort would be overrun with British and Indians.

Betty Zane knew there was still a keg of powder up at her brother’s cabin on the bluff. It was 150 yards away. Ebenezer and her uncles seemed to be holding out well on their own. From their vantage point with their long rifles they were picking off intruders that attempted to charge the fort as Wetzel's men likewise could pick off anyone attempting to rush the cabin.

Betty Zane had a great idea but first she had to convince Lewis Wetzel. She wanted to run to the cabin to get the extra powder. Wetzel liked the plan to obtain the powder but didn’t think Betty should be the one to go after it.

Betty kept insisting the cabin was not that far away but Wetzel was more worried about the 600 Indians and British that were ready to stop them than he was the distance.

But Wetzel also knew many of his men were wounded and might not be able to make the run and they were all needed to keep up the firing. But Betty argued with Wetzel that she should go for the powder. Wetzel knew Betty was a tomboy who could outrun and outshoot and outride many of the boys at the fort. He finally agreed with her for it seemed to be the last chance for Ft. Henry.

All the people at the Fort knew their lives now depended on Betty Zane, a young woman of great courage. The men would give her cover fire and as soon as Ebenezer and the others at the cabin realized what was happening they would cover her also.

The fort gates were opened and as Wetzel had told her, Betty zigzagged like a blond demon. Stay low and zig zag Wetzel had told her over and over.

Ebenezer could not believe his eyes as he saw his young sister make a dash for the cabin. Evidently the Indians and British were equally amazed because hardly a shot was fired as they witnessed her act of bravery.

But as she neared the cabin the enemy started to take aim and she heard the whistle of balls pass over her head and shoulders and saw the puff of smoke as the lead balls landed in the ground near her. As she neared the cabin the door opened and her older brother Ebenezer kept shouting encouragement and the same words she had heard from below - stay low and zig zag.

Betty entered the cabin, breathless from the long dash and shaking like a leaf in the wind. While gasping for breath they gave her water as she tried to explain the plight of Ft. Henry and the need for powder at the fort.

She had accomplished the first part of her plan now the dreaded second part was about to begin. This time the element of sup rise was gone and the Indians and British would be waiting for her when she attempted to go back to the fort.

Betty loaded her apron and pockets with powder. Not only did she know what to expect this time but she would be a running target and carrying black powder! The black powder could be ignited any number of ways and she would die instantly.

Betty’s brothers bid her farewell and prayed for her as she started her deadly run.

This time the Indians showed no mercy for the girl making the dash to the fort. But neither did the men at the fort or her brothers in the cabin. They hit every target they aimed at. With the fort only 100 yards away she saw out of the corner of her eye the muzzle blast of the Indians rifle and then she heard the whistle of the lead ball. Her heart was beating faster and her breath was coming harder and her legs felt like two wooden stumps. For the first time Betty began to doubt the mission she had undertaken.

The sound of the lead balls began to get leader and she felt one near her legs tear at her petticoats. She had only fifty yards to go now to safety but the sounds from the deadly fire were getting louder and louder. She felt like her lungs were about to burst and she began to tell herself that she wasn’t going to make it. But suddenly she was hearing the rifles from the fort and the friendly voice of her friend Lewis Wetzel telling her not to give up and that she could make it. At 25 yards she could hear the cheering from the fort and see Wetzel waiting to help her.

But the Indians had other plans. As she neared the fort, they ran out after her, knowing they might be killed but risking it to try and stop her.

But as the shots rang out from both sides Betty felt a searing pain in her shoulder as pain and weakness started to overcome her. She started to stumble and felt another pain in her arm. She was getting weaker and weaker and could feel the blood on her arm. She felt the life draining from her as she stumbled again for what she thought must have been the last time. Things started to go black. But with only a few more feet to go she felt the strong arms and heard the voice of Lewis Wetzel as they made it to the gate of the fort

Betty Zane’s courage saved Fort Henry and opened the Ohio valley for expansion.

Editor’s Notes:

Zane Gray’s book on Betty Zane covers not only Betty but all of the Zane family members in the 1780’s. Gray also goes into great depth on Lewis Wetzel. This gives a different perspective on Lewis Wetzel.

If you read alot of history you will find a lot of writers draw from Zane Gray. As a student of living history you owe it to yourself to read all of Zane Gray’s early books. Read them in order to follow the progression of the Zane family.

Book One - Betty Zane
Book Two - Spirit of the Border
Book Three The Last Trail
Book Four - George Washington - Frontiersman

The fourth book was compiled from many pages of manuscripts written by Zane Gray.

The books mentioned above are a nice easy read and are also suitable for younger readers. So if you have a teenager interested in re-enacting it would be a great place for them to start their reading.

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