Warrensburg by Fleury Sommers
Moonshiners and small farmers, the Warrens are stunned when the state moves to sterilize one of their own for the “perversion” of epilepsy. Aided by a few close allies, the family fights back in the only way it knows. The price: jail, the breakup of the family, loss of home and farm, cross-country flight, and finally triumph.
The Warrens had lived in Warrensberg since the Revolutionary War. Their daughter Millie had a difficult birth and was considered slow by the Warrensburg health officials. Because of her perceived disability, the County Health Officials decided that it would be best if she were sterilized. There was little empathy for poor mountain folk in the hollers of West Virginia.
The family knew that she was very smart and sociable and had no intention of having her “fixed” to satisfy some over-stepping county officials. After WWII her father was only getting $.54 a bushel for his corn crop. Even in good years this was not enough to put food on the table and maintain the farm. There was one product though that her papa made that was profitable and well received in the community. Moonshine!
The corn he raised was much more profitable if turned into the moonshine. The Revenuers were excited to catch him and destroy his still but everyone in the county enjoyed his product. The local sheriff looked the other way when the moonshine went to market after receiving his gallon.
The local storeowner had a number of folks who would buy all of the product papa produced. Prohibition had been enacted and the local city fathers and mothers wanted to capture the product and destroy the still. Most of the mountain people were producing similar products, however, Millie’s papa’s product was considered among the finest in West Virginia.
This story follows closely the plight of the poor mountain people in West Virginia and the ability of the local health departments to meddle in people’s lives. Keeping ahead of “The Revenuers” and the county welfare officials was a constant struggle for the family. The saga is a good exposé of government overstepping its’ authority and trying to control citizens lives.
I read this book with interest in both topics. Overreach by government and the dangers to people with disabilities rang true to my experiences as a child. Anyone who acted out of the ordinary or even got a divorce could expect interference from county officials. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Coming of Age Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Quality Books
Print Length: 349 pages
Publication Date: March 11, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Warrensburg [Amazon]
The Author: My grandmother came from a ranching family in Montana. She was proud of her heritage and loved to travel. Mother kept many of her artifacts, including cowboy chaps, Japanese kimonos, tortoise shell cigarette cases, photographs of stern settlers who survived Indian attacks and others. These objects, belonging to and used by real men and women, suggested to me that history was more than the simple and dry facts we were encouraged to memorize in school.
Later, I began to read history more seriously. I don’t suggest in any way that I’m a scholar, but it does strike me that many of the cruelties inflicted on people derive from rancid ideas, ideas that are popularly supported – at least for a time. The next question, of course, is what happens when people are confronted by such an idea and its consequences. When and how does the little guy take a stand?
I became a professional writer, first in newspapers where I won a couple of awards, and later in public relations where I received no recognition except for an ability to “bat out” copy on demand, a valuable asset in a busy shop. Later, my husband founded a public relations firm specializing in energy affairs and generously credited me as “co-founder,” although my role (and my value) remained much the same.
Years ago the narrator in a Jodi Picoult book (I forget which one) mentioned in passing that a character was a candidate for involuntary sterilization in Vermont. “Vermont?!!” I thought. “Couldn’t be.” I’d assumed those laws were primarily passed and enforced in Southern states. That thought stayed with me and was the germ that resulted in “Warrensburg,” a tale of a moonshining Virginia family’s fight against the eugenics movement when it threatened one of their own. “Warrensburg” will be published soon.
I don’t remember the precise genesis for “Beautiful Angels,” except that blaming the Jews for the bubonic plague was a popular idea embraced against all rationality and in the face of clear evidence of innocence. Yet, the embrace of this “truth” resulted in thousands of deaths by starvation and burning all across Europe. “Beautiful Angels,” is the story of a small group of unlikely allies, united only by their common humanity, who take a stand against the mob in their own small village.
My favorite books are those that are entertaining, but also resonate in some way—just like those chaps and tortoise shell cigarette cases did with me so long ago.
©2022 CE Williams – V Williams