History Dinner Series
Author to speak about life and love on the Kentucky frontier
His presentation is presented by the
Oldham County History Center
LA GRANGE, Ky. (April 2016) – For author Eddie Price, writing and history have always gone hand-in-hand. His novel, “Widder’s Landing,” incorporates both passions into one mesmerizing work that revolves around the War of 1812 era in Kentucky history.
After teaching history for 36 years, Price decided the time was right to pen his own historical novel. “I have always enjoyed writing and I love frontier history.”
Price will give a presentation about Widder’s Landing at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in the Rob Morris Educational Building, 207 W. Jefferson St. in La Grange, Ky. This will be the second program in the 2016 Oldham County History Dinner Series and include dinner and a cash bar.
Price grew up in western Kentucky along the Ohio River, worked on farms and “read as much early Kentucky history as I could. I always tried to imagine what it would be like to live in the past.”
• Cost for this program is $20 for members or $22 for non-members. Reservations are required by calling the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.
A graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College and holding a master’s and Rank I degrees from Western Kentucky University, Price taught history for 36 years at Hancock County High School. In addition, he taught part-time classes for 21 years at Owensboro Community College.
Price said it took about five years of research before he actually sat down to pen “Widder’s Landing.”
“This involved tons of reading, travel to archives, libraries, historical sites, and ultimately from Lancaster, Pa., to New Orleans. I drove the Natchez Trace, interviewed historians, museum curators, black powder specialists, professors, archivists, farmers, riverboat pilots, military specialists and many more experts.”
He learned from living history interpreters how to cook, spin, weave, garden, what tools were used to build cabins, shingles and tobacco sticks, and took notes from a seasoned gunsmith. Price also used countless primary sources, including many letters.
“Breckinridge County opened up their archives, and I used legal documents, court records, deed books, marriage, and birth and death records.” Price also “drew from many of Andrew Jackson’s personal letters and official orders. When he speaks in ‘Widder’s Landing,’ he says exactly what he was documented as saying.”
“Widder’s Landing” incorporates an interest of Price’s – the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. He researched the strange phenomena that occurred before the earthquake – things such as the Great Comet of 1811, a total eclipse, the largest passenger pigeon flight in the world, a huge migration of snakes and squirrels and wild “northern lights.”
Price said that there is so much more in the book than just the War of 1812. “In 1811 much was happening that you don’t get much of in textbooks – the first steamboat on the Ohio, the New Orleans, made its maiden voyage down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the Bank of the United States closed its doors, Henry Clay was elected Speaker of the House, and the largest slave revolt in American history took place just north of New Orleans.”
All of this, when combined with the War of 1812, made his head spin. “America was about to square off with Great Britain, the No. 1 superpower of the world, and I thought, ‘Wow! What a story!’ ”
Price weaves all of these events around the life of Craig Ridgeway, a young gunsmith who loses his job and moves from Pennsylvania to the Kentucky frontier. Along the way, he encounters an array of life experiences and meets and marries the love of his life. Like many individuals of the time, the strong draw Craig felt to move to Kentucky was too powerful to ignore.
Virginia G. Carter, former executive director for the Kentucky Humanities Council Inc., has been quoted as saying about the book, “ ‘Widder’s Landing’ is a banquet of first-person Kentucky history served up with plenty of first-rate adventure. More history than fiction; a total immersion in real life Kentucky. Readers will hope this first novel won’t be Eddie Price’s last.”
Response has been so overwhelming for Price that he is working on a sequel that will cover the next five years in history (1815-1820). Craig will have new issues to confront while living everyday life in an important part of Kentucky and American history.
Price has traveled all over Kentucky and many other states, often giving three to four presentations a week to promote his work. He is a member of the Kentucky Humanities Council and also speaks about the Battle of Blue Licks, the Cane Ridge Revival and Catholic Pioneers of Kentucky.
For “Widder’s Landing,” Price won the Spirit of 1812 Award from the U.S. Daughters of 1812 and the Gold Medal for "Best Historical Fiction" in the 2013 Reader's Favorite Book Awards. The novel is in its fourth printing and was named to the 2014 Kentucky State Fair Special Exhibition Bibliography.
It has been endorsed by the Kentucky Humanities Council, the Kentucky Historical Society, the Kentucky Department of Libraries & Archives, the Carnegie Center of Lexington, and the Kentucky Bicentennial Commission of the War of 1812. “Widder’s Landing” won the Gold Medal for "Best Historical Fiction" in the 2015 National Literary Habitat Award.
In a review written for the Louisville Courier-Journal by fellow Kentucky writer Mary Popham, she states that, “Price’s writing is clear, and his scenes chock-full of color and reality. ‘Widder’s Landing’ is highly recommended to history buffs and to anyone who likes a great story.”
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