New books by local authors hitting shelves

·4 min read

Jul. 22—Area residents can make some room on their nightstands or in their bookshelves to welcome three new books from local authors.

"Hunter's Home in the Cherokee Nation: The Murrell and Ross Family in Indian Territory," is a project of the Friends of the Murrell Home. It's been in the making for years, as members of the group have been writing stories about the Murrell and Ross families for over 17 years in a quarterly newsletter. Those stories have been compiled to make the new book, which is available for purchase at Hunter's Home.

Shirley Pettengill, principal author of the book, said it's essentially about the history of the two families, their extended relatives, and how the home became a historic site. Pettengill and fellow contributors — David Fowler, Jennifer Frazee, Amanda Pritchett, Rachael Whitaker and Louis Albert — discuss what life was like in Indian Territory and for George Murrell, who spent 30 years living with Cherokees on the self-sufficient plantation in Park Hill.

"We have a whole section on the Civil War, as the home was raided several times," Pettengill said. "We used letters, diaries and journals to try and tell people what was going on then. We talk about religion and the Moravians, who were pretty important as missionaries. There are just a lot of stories we've covered over time."

The book includes an appendix of 21 additional family genealogies and 263 photographs or images, giving readers insight to what living in the 1850s was like. Those interested in purchasing one can call Hunter's Home at 918-456-2751, or visit the gift shop at the historic site, 19479 E. Murrel Rd. in Park Hill.

Northeastern State University Professor Brian Cowlishaw is the editor for "The Rail, the Body and the Pen: Essays on Travel, Medicine and Technology in 19th Century British Literature." The book is a collection of articles and essays on science and technology during the 19th Century. In the past, Cowlishaw had written chapters for several academic books published by McFarland. The publisher then reached out to him to ask if he would pen a book of his own on the topic, with the idea that it would be accessible to people who are interested in the subject, but not experts.

"There are a couple [chapters] on 'Frankenstein,' the novel," Cowlishaw said. "There area couple of chapters on the railroad, which of course was just being put in for the first time. And there's a really interesting chapter, too, on H.G. Wells, who is a British writer and one of the first science fiction writers."

Those who submitted essays and articles to the work include veteran academics with expertise in 19th Century British literature, doctoral students, and visiting professors at the beginning of their careers. The book's release was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is slated to go on sale Aug. 3, and can be found on amazon.com.

George Fulk will hold a signing for his first book, "Growing Up in the '50s: An Illustrated True-Life Adventure," at Tahlequah's new book store, Too Fond of Books, on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fulk said it's a combination of a comic book and series of memoirs — an autobiography from his early days in Muskegon, Michigan, to his time in a Catholic seminary. Each page is accompanied by an illustration of his childhood, from age 5 to age 19.

"It starts out about things I did in the summer, and then it goes on to the grade school days," Fulk said. "I went to a Catholic school and I was taught by mean nuns — nuns that would give you a whack if you spoke out of turn. Then I went into the Catholic seminary to be a priest when I was 14 and came out when I was 19. So about half the book deals with that experience."

Fulk began painting at age 73 and has gained a passion for it in his retirement, and over the years has taught watercolor painting classes. He was accustomed to painting landscapes and anything he could see, but it was actually Cowlishaw, after taking one of his classes, who inspired him to paint from his imagination. Cowlishaw, too, is Catholic.

"I said to myself, 'I'd kind of like to try that and just paint what comes into my mind.' So I started thinking about things I used to do, and then tried to paint that," Fulk said. "Then after I did a few paintings, I thought I'd put some words to it. Then as time went by, the words got more important than the paintings, so now I'm really getting into reminiscing about all the things I've done."

Fulk's book is available at Tahlequah Creates or Too Fond of Books. It can also be found at thisonly.org, a website by Bufka Books that specializes in self-published books.

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