Monday, October 29, 2007

African Ridge

Last week on a brisk day after a rain I hiked back to an area where LaMotte Creek meets the Wabash River called African Ridge. The local archaeological society is working their current dig at this location in search of Illinois' first French Settlement on the Wabash. They have already found French artifacts from the mid 1700s at what they think is LaMotte's trading post. Since LaMotte is a major character in my new book, I wanted to see the site first hand. After receiving permission to look around, I was surprised to see how remote the area was for being so close to Palestine. It is nestled in a big loop in the Wabash the which forces you to go quite a bit to the north in order to follow the river back to the south until finally reaching the ridge. After parking my mud covered jeep at the end of a dirt lane, it was only a quarter mile hike to the site. I was surprised to find two ancient Indian burial mounds within fifty yards of the dig. According to the local historians, they are at least a thousand years old. My character, LaMotte, would have looked at these same mounds everyday. I spent a few minutes pondering what my character thought about two enormous mounds of dirt in his back yard or if he cared at all. But what really got my attention was the eerie feeling that I felt as I walked across the ridge. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it, but then it hit me. African Ridge was a battlefield. It was the same feeling I got when I walked at Gettysburg and at Tippecanoe. During the War of 1812, there was a battle between the local militia and and a group of Indians that were allied with the British. Three Americans were killed and three were left for dead. I'm uncertain how many Indians were killed but because the fighting was intense, there were bound to be casualties. Thirty years before this, shortly after George Roger's Clark took Vincennes, a naval battle, (I use the word "naval" lightly, as the battle was fought in canoes) that involved, the Americans, the Brits, the French and Indians) took place within a hundred yards of the ridge. Who knows what happened with the ancient Indians who built the mounds, but one thing is for sure, African Ridge is hallowed ground. It's a shame that it's impossible to get to the sight without trespassing. African Ridge is a beautiful natural area and important to local history.
It would make a great historical park.

The Battle of African Ridge will be recreated in the second sequel to Wa-ba-shik-ki : The conquest of the Wabash.

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Rick On WTWO TV in Terre Haute

I wanted to thank Kim Worland for promoting my book on Valley Showcase on Friday October 5 on WTWO in Terre Haute. It was a fun expeience. Kim is a live wire and quite intense on the set. Hopefully she'll have me back on for Wa-ba-shik-ki.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Book Signings Last Weekend

No good deed goes unpunished!!! The morning book signing in Robinson went well in the nice air conditioned Heath Toffee Museum on the square in Robinson. The turnout was was good despite the 95 degree heat.

The Palestine Wabash Valley Wine and Art Festival's signings on Saturday and Sunday afternoons were a different story. Late in the week I learned that there were not enough food vendors for the event. Being a good standing member of the Palestine Development Association, I volunteered myself and a friend to cook kabobs to make up for the potential shortage of food. I didn't foresee any problem about signing books and cooking meatballs at the same time. Wrong!!! I doubt that you will ever see John Grisham flipping burgers while talking plot twists at one of his signings. Needless to say, a record setting heatwave, added by the heat of the grill Teriyaki sauce, perspiration and an open wine bottle probably didn't make a good impression for the serious literary hounds looking to meet the author. One lady stormed away mad, convinced that I was a carnival huckster posing as the writer. Live and Learn! One fellow, however saw the fun in my situation and insisted that I make a Bar-B-Que sauce thumbprint in lieu of my signature.

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