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Hannah Fowler

Hannah Fowler topic of
library Humanities Council program

Helen E. McKinney,
Contributing Writer

(March 2002) CARROLLTON, Ky. - Clara L. Metzmeier described author Janice Holt Giles as “part of Kentucky’s heritage.”
Metzmeier will be giving a speech on Giles’ book, “Hannah Fowler,” at 6:30 p.m. on March 25 at the Carroll County Public Library, 136 Court St.
The program is presented by the Kentucky Humanities Council and is part of a series of speeches Metzmeier provides on Kentucky Writers titled, “Spaces and Places.” This program is based upon the influences particular landscapes hold over writers such as Giles.

Clara Metzmeier

Clara Metzmeier

Giles was born in 1905 in Altus, Ark. As a young girl, Janice Holt moved to Oklahoma’s Indian territory, where her parents taught Chactaw children. In 1927, she married Otto Jackson Moore, and they had one child, Libby.
The couple divorced in 1937, and Giles and Libby moved to Louisville, Ky. Giles sought employment with Dr. Lewis Sherrille, dean of the Presbyterian Seminary.
On a trip to visit her family in 1943, Giles shared a bus ride with her future husband, Henry Giles. Henry, who had enlisted in the U.S. Army, was being shipped out for active duty.
For the next two years, they corresponded daily through letters.Henry proposed in a letter, and the couple married in 1945 on the very day he returned from active duty.
Like her character, Metzmeier described Giles as “a very strong woman.” She said that Giles felt Fowler had to share this quality. “Fowler had to be strong to meet certain criteria in a historical perspective.”
The novel is set in the 1700s in Kentucky. Fowler and her father, Samuel Moore, depart for Kentucky, led by expert explorer Gen. George Rogers Clark. The pair leaves the main party to follow the Kentucky River to Boone’s Fort.
But on the way, Samuel becomes injured and dies from blood poisoning. Tice Fowler discovers the father and daughter in the wilderness and guides Hannah on to the fort to safety.
Daring for her time, Hannah proposes to the bashful Tice. He accepts, and the novel describes Fowler’s life on the harsh frontier as she and Tice struggle to make a life for themselves.
“She can do everything,” said Metzmeier. Fowler builds a lean-to, hunts and cooks. She is typical of the men and women who settled Kentucky, said Metzmeier.
Hannah Fowler is the second in a series of books titled, “The American Frontier Series,” by Giles.
“Once she had finished the book, she knew she had written a good book,” Metzmeier said. “It took a lot of energy out of her.”
Giles wrote most of her two-dozen novels from the log home in which she lived with her husband in Knifley, located in Adair County, Ky. After they had been married for about a year, the couple moved to Henry’s ancestral land in Adair County, which had first been settled in 1804.”She and Henry built the log house,” said Metzmeier, “because log structures go back into the history of Kentucky. They wanted to leave it as an epitaph.”
Metzmeier is president of the Giles Society, a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of Giles’ log home. The Society’s goal is to “keep her literature in front of people,” said Metzmeier.
The group accomplishes this task by sponsoring writing workshops and book signings, giving presentations, and offering educational and entertainment opportunities.
“Giles is very detailed,” said Metzmeier. “As one critic put it, ‘You know the weather by what Giles puts in her books.’ “
For the past 16 years, Metzmeier has been an English professor at Campbellsville University. Her interest in Kentucky’s literary writers prompted her to become involved with the Kentucky Humanities Council’s growing list of presentations.
The council is an independent, non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C, that seeks to help Kentuckians learn about their history, literature and ideas that helped shape democracy.

• For information on the March program call the library at (502) 732-7020.

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