Rivers, Rogues, & Timbermen in the Novels of Brainard Cheney (Hardcover)
On Christmas Eve night 1902 in Telfair county, Georgia, near the town of Jacksonville, a Christmas tree-lighting celebration had just ended at a rural church, built on the site of an old Indian fort near the Ocmulgee River. One of the churchgoers stepped outside, carrying his infant daughter in his arms. Adjusting his coat against the winter wind, he felt in his pockets for his pipe and set the little girl down for a moment. As he lit his pipe, shots rang out and he fell dead, bleeding out into the cold Georgia dust. Children and adults alike screamed and scattered. This was the final shot fired in what later became known as the Georgia Squatters War. Brainard Cheney, a Lumber City, Georgia, native later wrote about the events of the Squatters War in his historical novels, Lightwood, River Rogue, This is Adam, and Devil's Elbow. Rivers, Rogues, and Timbermen examines these novels from a literary and historical perspective. In this work, author Michael Williams, Jr. identifies some of the historical figures behind these novels, including some of his own ancestors, and analyzes Cheney's works from a literary perspective, comparing his major themes to those of the Agrarian writers at Vanderbilt University in the 1930s and 1940s. In doing so, he celebrates the exploits of the early Telfair County pioneers and criticizes the unspeakable violence and unfettered capitalism by northern industrialists that raged across the county in the late 19th century. Brainard Cheney's novels identify the sacred relics of the Wiregrass region and demonstrate their importance and redemptive power for human beings. Among these are the Altamaha and Ocmulgee Rivers, the land, crops, and family. Cheney's novels weave together history and fiction to preserve in text a forgotten culture. Author Michael Williams urges his readers not to underestimate their importance as history and literature.