Hanover native pens
fictional book set during
Morgan’s Raid in Indiana
Local elementary school using
‘Rebel Raiders’ in classroom
(May 2013) – Stories were always a part of Lisa Trimble Actor’s childhood. Her father, Bob Trimble, a retired professor at Hanover College, would often use family dinner time as an opportunity to share stories about history or family tales. The tale of his great-aunt’s courage in facing the Confederate cavalrymen who made up Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders captured the imaginations of Actor and that of her brother, John. Sarupta Cordelia was only 9 years old when the feared raiders surrounded her family’s house and demanded food.
|Lisa Trimble Actor
Trimble explains that the entire family had contracted diphtheria, and that the young “Dill” “was the only family member who had recovered enough to deal with them. She would tell us that she had to cook breakfast for 50 men.
“They were good listeners,” he recalls fondly of his children, adding that, “They loved the story of ‘Aunt Cordil!’ ”
Actor, who grew up in Hanover but today lives in Park City, Utah, says she always knew that this was a special story about her dynamic relative. “As a child, I just remembered how brave she would have been. I specifically remember being 9 years old and not knowing if I would have been so brave.”
Now Actor is sharing a tale inspired by “Dill’s” courage with her recently published book, “Rebel Raiders.” She will present a reading and book signing from 7-9 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main St. in Madison, Ind. During her visit to Indiana, she will also be speaking to students at South-western Elementary School, where teachers have been reading the book aloud to the fourth-grades classes.
Actor credits her older brother, John Trimble, for suggesting that their family legend would make a good subject for her writing. “I’m hooked on stories where enemies meet,” she explains, noting that her first published short story was based on the Christmas Truce of World War I.
During the course of her research for the book, Actor was fascinated by the contrast in the stories that ran ahead of the Raiders and actual first hand accounts of what happened when the band stopped at a home. While rumors at the time caused residents to fearfully expect a wild, violent gang, many of the encounters actually included the Raiders politely asking for a place to do laundry or complimenting the cook on a much-appreciated meal.
“Gen. Morgan had a mandate to his soldiers to be kind to women and children,” she notes. Actor goes on to speak of how the “dashingly handsome” raider was sometimes portrayed as a “villain” but was also was remembered for ordering his raiders to show mercy to a young man they were preparing to hang. Throughout her research, she was repeatedly struck at small, human stories of kindness between enemies. She wanted to tell the story of “a child who comes face-to-face with the enemy and realizes that they aren’t all that different,” and a general “repaying her the kindness she had shown to his men.”
Already, “Rebel Raiders” has become a favorite of students at Southwestern Elementary, where the fourth-grade teachers have been reading the story to their classes.
Actor said she finds it particularly fitting that this once oral family tale is being read aloud to a new generation of children. “A good children’s book is just magic to read,” she says.
“All good children’s novels should be read aloud.”
Teacher Paulette DuVall explains that a typical classroom will include children with a wide range of reading abilities and that “reading aloud is a great way to bring everyone together on the same level.”
DuVall says that “Rebel Raiders” has been a powerful way to expand on the history lessons she has been teaching in her class about the Civil War and the way that the conflict impacted Indiana. “We had studied about Morgan and followed the path he took on his raid through Indiana and into Ohio. This book brings the lessons alive and makes the events seem more real. It’s difficult for 9-10-year-olds to comprehend something than happened 150 years ago, but if it’s put in the form of a story, they relate much easier and recall the historic events much better.”
While Actor is delighted that her work is helping “bring history to life” for children at the elementary school she once attended, DuVall points out that many of lessons her students are learning are actually quite contemporary. In looking forward to the author’s upcoming talk to her class, DuVall says, “I hope the students will realize that books are written by real people – people just like them. Authors should always be held in the greatest esteem, but my students need to realize that at one time Lisa was sitting in a fourth-grade classroom just like them, and now through hard work and diligence has achieved this great accomplishment.”
DuVall reflects that while Indiana children may not have to fear coming face-to-face with an enemy army, the example of Dill’s courage is very relevant to her students. “Dill stood firm on her convictions but remained respectful and tolerant. Our children today need to have examples that demonstrate how to be strong without being a bully,” she said.
• For more information, visit: www.RebelRaiders.us. The book is available at The Floating Cow retail store in downtown Madison and at the Village Lights Bookstore.
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