Ten generations on my maternal grandmother’s side.
That bunch has been wading around these marshy rivers and creeks since the mid-1600s. When Maryland was a new colony, Henry Decourcy was a confidante to the Calvert family and a famed Indian negotiator. In the generations between Henry and me, some of my mother’s forebears, the Courseys and the Bryans, served in historic battles, and as sheriffs and judges, too. They owned great tracts of prime waterfront land that dwindled in proprietary acreage through the centuries until, when given the option over burial, cremation is going to be a far more economical way for me to go.
The point is, Mom’s side of the family kept great records. Over the years they left behind mounds of personal belongings, documents, and photographs.
Dad’s, not so much. They’ve probably been here as long as Mom’s family, but they were watermen and farmers, and maybe not so full of themselves. A tattered family bible, an eel gig, and some crumbling obituaries are about the only physical items I inherited from the Lewises and Colemans.
I used to resist the idea of being a “regional writer.”
In recent years, I’ve embraced the idea.
I’m now writing about what I know. Hopefully, telling stories only I can tell.
From 2001-2014, I conducted the Kent Island Heritage Society’s oral history program and interviewed scores of Eastern Shore folk, from watermen and farmers to preachers, teachers, business leaders, and elected officials. Through that program and The History Press I had an opportunity to publish Remembering Kent Island: Stories from the Chesapeake and A History of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, which came out in in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
I have written my first novel, Bloody Point: 1976, about a young Eastern Shore waterman hired to retrieve a local bigwig’s rebellious daughter from The Block, Baltimore’s notorious red-light district. After months of weighing possible avenues to publishing, I have decided to follow the DIY model. Trying to learn everything I can about the process before making any important decisions will be my first goal.
It seems the road to self-publishing is fraught with potholes and speed bumps, but with the help and guidance of those indie writers who have gone before me, I hope to maneuver my way to the finish line.
And do both sides of my Eastern Shore family tree proud along the way.
Come hear me speak about BLOODY POINT: 1976 at the upcoming ESWA meeting at The Jetty in Grasonville on November 8th. .