Jonesborough stars in Bowles’ latest book
The cover of Bowles’ latest book
in his ‘Westward Sagas’ series.
By Lynn J. Richardson
Bowles will be in Jonesborough for the National Storytelling Festival where he will be signing copies of the book, Children of the Revolution, at the Jonesborough Visitors Center from Friday, Oct. 5, through Sunday, Oct. 7.
The book is part of the “Westward Sagas,” a historical fiction series that tells the story of the Adam Mitchell family’s 100-year odyssey west from Pennsylvania to Texas.
“This third book focuses on America’s first generation coming of age in Greene and Washington counties,” said Bowles, who lives in San Antonio, Texas. “East Tennessee is where many patriot soldiers settled after the American Revolution. This book is about their families and the impact the war had on all of them for years to come.”
From a very early age, Bowles says he was fascinated by the stories his relatives told about his ancestors — stories about how they had fought in the Revolutionary War in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina, and later how they moved to Jonesborough to take on renegade Indians, highwaymen and suffer the hardships of an untamed land.
An author, genealogist and storyteller, Bowles parlayed these true stories about his relatives into a series of books of historical fiction called, “The Westward Sagas.”
Children of the Revolution is the third book in that series. It focuses on Adam Mitchell, Bowles’ fourth great-grandfather.
“I started by writing my family history and it turned into this series,” Bowles said. “I wanted to share his story. I decided to write it as fiction so I could fill in the gaps of known history and add dialogue.”
The book has been 30 years in the making, according to Bowles.
As part of his research for the story, he has studied the relinquishment of land back to his fourth great-grandfather Mitchell from the State of North Carolina – something he says was unprecedented.
“The story starts off about the family getting back from the Guilford County courthouse. Land that had been taken from him was given back to my fourth great-grandfather and that is the only time I have ever heard of that,” Bowles said. “In fact, the relinquishment from the state is the first and only one of its type I have ever heard of.”
Bowles says research for his story also causes him to theorize why the State of North Carolina wasn’t eager to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
“I think that there was so much embezzlement and stealing of land in Guilford County from widows and orphans that they were trying to get their skirts clean before a federal government came in and started overseeing their business,” Bowles said. “I don’t think it was so much a states’ rights issue as that they didn’t want anybody looking at their books.”
The book follows the Mitchell family as they move to East Tennessee and settle in the Knob Creek community.
Bowles believes the new book will be popular with local residents because it also features many area pioneers, including the Rev. Samuel Doak who married into the Mitchell family, and Presbyterian minister Hezekiah Balch, who co-founded Tusculum College with Doak.
The Mitchell’s son, Robert, built his log cabin in Jonesborough, which is now encased in the Eureka Inn.
Adam Mitchell was the founding elder at the Jonesborough Presbyterian Church.
The book also includes founding families from Washington County, including Dr. William Chester and David Deaderick.
Bowles’ book series started with Spring House, which tells the story of the Mitchell family leaving Lancaster, Pa., in 1762 for North Carolina, where they learned about life on the frontier, politics and war. It ends with the Scots-Irish family arriving at a relative’s house in Jonesborough, pondering their future in the mountains of Tennessee.
In his second book, Adam’s Daughters, Peggy Mitchell, a survivor of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, grows up in Jonesborough during the tumultuous first 20 years of the nation’s existence.
Though haunted by memories of war, she matures into a strong, independent young woman, who is courted by Andrew Jackson, who later become the nation’s seventh president, and who has a freed slave as her best friend.
Her younger brothers and sisters become her surrogate children and students and together, the children of Adam and Elizabeth Mitchell tackle life on the wild frontier.
“The entire story takes place in Jonesborough during the time period of 1788 to 1815, ending on the porch of the Chester Inn,” Bowles said. “Jonesborough was right in the middle of everything going on in the new nation and the way west.”
The book tells how the family, who lived just outside Jonesborough, worshipped at Doak’s Salem Church. It also mentions other prominent landmarks still standing today, including the Chester Inn, which was the first boarding house in East Tennessee and now is home to the National Storytelling Association.
In addition to signing books at during the National Storytelling Festival, Bowles will be featured on WHJL’s Daytime Tri-Cities show on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
He also will host a book signing and afternoon tea at Gracious Designs in Johnson City on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 12:30-2 p.m. Bowles will be doing storytelling, as well. The public is invited to attend the free event.
A book signing will be held at the historic General Morgan Inn in Greeneville on Wednesday, Oct. 3, from 2-4 p.m. in the hotel lobby. The public is invited to attend the event, during which refreshments will be served.
All three books are available at www.westwardsagas.com, or can be purchased at any of the upcoming book signings.
For more information, call Bowles at (210) 490-9955.