My Dad

My Deep Connection To The Story

Most self-publishers are deeply connected to their subject matter. Otherwise they might not have written the book in the first place. Some of the most effective self-publishers are activists and opinion leaders with fierce loyalties and firm stands on lots of issues.

As I prepare to self publish my first book, I find the above comment by Joel Friedlander over at The Book Designer to relate to me in an encouraging way.   My connection to my book, Citizens and Assassins, is through my grandfather’s land in Pontotoc County.   I certainly have a fierce loyalty and have taken a firm stand on protecting that land since my father passed away.   It is so fierce a loyalty that I cannot budge away.  But if it were not for my love and concern for the land, I certainly would not have written this book.

It seems funny (or sad) how so many family members can see the land only as $$$$, while one stands alone who sees it as historical land which is a God-given gift which should be cherished and protected.  And it seems funny (or sad) how oddly my fight to protect the land relates to the very story about which I have written.

Learning About The Ada, Oklahoma, Hanging

Ada, Oklahoma, Lynching, 1909.  The Daily Ardmoreite, April 19, 1909.

Ada, Oklahoma, Hanging of 1909.
The Daily Ardmoreite, April 19, 1909.

When I first learned about the hanging that occurred in Ada, Oklahoma, in 1909, I approached my father about it with curiosity.  To my surprise, and to his, he had never heard of it.

My dad spent most of his childhood years living in and around the Ada area having graduated from Fitzhugh High School in 1952.  His response to me when I inquired about the hanging was:

“If there was a hanging, Ada sure kept quiet about it.”

How could it be that this historical event had been kept under covers so well?  My father was a very knowledgeable man who had many stories to tell, yet he knew nothing of this one.   So my research began.

After reading, “Four Men Hanging,” by Welborn Hope, and watching the video, “Death of the Old West,” I was convinced that while these were great resources on the subject … and in fact the only decent resources I could get my hands on at the time … they only skimmed the surface as to the facts leading up to the terrible day in Ada of April 19, 1909.

Upon my next visit to Ada, I began to ask around about the hanging.  I had seen a photo of a monument for the lynching on the city’s website.  I was on the hunt for that monument.  Imagine my surprise again when nobody I spoke to in Ada seemed to know anything about the hanging.  They could not (or would not) tell me where the monument (which was no longer there, by the way) stood, or for that matter where the hanging occurred.   In the beginning days of my research, it certainly seemed as though I was going to have great difficulty figuring this out on my own.  I continued on.

So here we are now, at my website Citizens and Assassins … a site where I will share (as accurately as I possibly can) the facts leading up to the Ada, Oklahoma, hanging of 1909.   While it is impossible to get 100% accurate information (especially when relying on 100-year-old newspaper articles as my main resource), I have researched the lynching with great determination and set out my findings in an ebook thereby saving valuable time for others … people like me …  who would like to learn about the lynching.

(NOTE:  other books written on the Ada lynching are out of print and/or difficult to find.)

 

It’s April 19

I once saw a bumper sticker for writers that said,

I never finish anyth… 

Yep, that’s me I thought . . . as I have started many things but have completed, well, maybe one.  And for a while it appeared as though this book would be added among my list of never-finished projects.

Finishing this book is the hardest thing I have ever done.  Oh, sure, it started off well with excitement and passion, but my confidence fed off my father’s enthusiasm for the history of the land on which he was raised.  He helped me with my research and told me stories which just fueled my desire to write this book.  But when he passed away in the summer of 2012, at first it seemed as though my book was buried with him.   No longer was he there to ask how the book was coming along.  No longer did it seem to matter.

But it does matter.  I began this book not only because of my Dad.  But because I felt that little tug on my heart.  I kept seeing those signs … I believe from God … telling me this was something I was meant to do, perhaps because it is a story that needs to be told.  And it matters because it is my last gift to my earthly father.

As I write this post, my book is close to being completed.   I had hoped to finish writing by today, April 19 – which is the anniversary date of the infamous lynching in Ada, Oklahoma – the subject of my book.  The book is not yet done, but my website is now launched.

My father and me at the entrance to his land near Fitzhugh, OK.

Standing with my father at the entrance to his land near Fitzhugh, Oklahoma.
Fall of 2010.