Widder's Landing

Widder's Landing


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
568 Pages
Reviewed on 10/02/2012
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Eddie Price is a lifelong native of Kentucky. A graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College (BA) and Western Kentucky University (MA and Rank I), Eddie has taught history for 36 years (31 at Hancock County High School). He has also taught part-time classes for Owensboro Community & Technical College.

In that time he received Ashland Oil’s Golden Apple Teaching Award, was included in Who’s Who Among America’s High School Teachers, and won the Outstanding American History Teacher Award from KATH (Kentucky Association for the Teachers of History) and KCSS (Kentucky Council for the Social Studies.) Murray State University named him Outstanding High School Teacher in Kentucky in 2000. He also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Campbellsville, Kentucky in 2012. His students have voted him “Teacher of the Year” many times.

Eddie has coached many award-winning academic teams and history contest winners. He is active in the Hancock County Historical Society and helped organize the Young Historians Club. Eddie is world traveler who enjoys bicycling, horseback riding and swimming. He now lives in Hancock County, Kentucky.

Book Review

Reviewed by Jorja Davis for Readers' Favorite

Craig Ridgway leaves his well-educated home at the age of fifteen because he cannot imagine being in school another year. He moves from Philadelphia to Lancaster where he apprentices himself to the master-gunsmith Jakob Wetzel. When Jakob dies in January 1811, twenty-one year-old Craig loses his mentor. Grieving Wetzel’s death and the end of his job and his home, he decides to move west to Pittsburgh. There he stokes coal in one of the town’s new foundries. Craig needs the wide open spaces he fell in love with as he made his way over the mountains of Pennsylvania in the snows of January. He moves on down to the Ohio River to the rich farmlands of Kentucky. He disembarks at Widder’s Landing, deathly ill with pneumonia. The Widder nurses him back to health, extracting his promise to continue through the planting and harvesting seasons. So starts ten months of back-breaking labor. Craig has much to glean from one of Cottonwood Bend’s infamous outcasts. He can do little more than notice Mary, the beautiful daughter of the neighbor whom the Widder curses. Farming suits his restless spirit. Mary Catherine McDonnell suits his tender spirit. Life and love rest on a few hundred acres on the edge of the Ohio River. Setting the life and love on the Kentucky frontier in the years 1811 to 1815 provides a good window into the American history of the period. The years of initial statehood for Kentucky, the Comet of 1811, the New Madrid Earthquakes, and the War of 1812 provide the backdrop where Craig wins and loses and hopes to win again. In the process, he grows to love the land and its people. The small town of Cottonwood Bend bears intentional resemblance to the small town of Cloverport in Breckinridge County.

Price’s vivid descriptions draw on all the senses and paint a vivid picture of a vivid time. His characters are all unique and will continue with the reader long after the 568 pages have flown by, like the great flocks of geese and passenger pigeons that show the change of seasons on this edge of the frontier. The characterizations are all well-rounded as the author develops them in the ways they relate to one another, and to the times in which they live. Eddie Price’s love of history and the scope of his research will make the reader want Price to have been their history teacher when they studied the Great Westward Expansion, the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson, crops of Kentucky, and the mighty river systems that were the first roadways of America. Starting with a real farmhouse built in 1802 on the western edge of Breckinridge County, Price helps us visualize, taste, smell, hear and feel “What stories this old house could tell!” His research is well-grounded and presented in the Introduction and Acknowledgments. This book makes history come alive. Readers will match Price’s book with renowned epic novels like Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, Morgan Llywelyn’s Brian Boru, or Mary Renault’s epic historical novels of the 1960’s. The reader will come away not only with a book they will need to share and read again, but one that will stand the test of time, and teach more history than one could understand any other way.

Brenda C.

Craig Ridgeway is only fifteen when his longing for adventure has him leaving his family home in Philadelphia. For several years he has a comfortable life in Lancaster, Pa, working as a gunsmith apprentice for Jakob Wetzel. When Jakob dies unexpectedly, Craig, who is now twenty-one, finds himself without a job or home. Unable to find a job in Lancaster he decides that the only thing to do is leave. He stays briefly in Pittsburgh but doesn't like the city, and after hearing stories about Kentucky, decides to hop a flat boat and head down the Ohio. He gets off the flatboat at Widder's Landing, so sick that he is unsure he will survive. That is when he is found by Gertrude Fuqua also known as the Widder. She strikes a bargain with Craig to nurse him back to health and pay him ten dollars if he will stay and work for her until the tobacco crop comes in. As the two get to know each other he learns of the Widder's colorful life, and also realizes that she is dying. He inherits everything the Widder owns, and decides to try his hand at farming. Soon he finds himself falling in love with the neighbor's daughter Mary but the thing is that she is already married to an outlaw whom she has left.

If I had to describe "Widder's Landing" in one word it would be that it is an epic, filled with rich historical detail, that easily drew this reader in, allowing me to connect solidly with the characters, feeling their struggles and triumphs. Eddie Price's words paint vivid descriptions, easily allowing me to envision the scenes he describes. I felt as if I were on a grand adventure traveling along with Craig as he set out on foot headed toward Pittsburgh, or when he was riding on the flatboat down the Ohio. When he arrives at Widder's Landing I couldn't imagine what might happen to him, and then we meet the Widder. Her description alone had me envisioning a hag like-creature, and her colorful past painted an even uglier picture, though for me, she was really just a lonely old lady, who was dying. It seems that before Craig came along the only confidant she had was her old mule Tom, and truthfully I shed a tear when that mule died! I found Mary's story quite interesting. She was married to a vile man, and decided to leave him, returning home to her father, going against what most people, including her mother, thought she should do. When she met Craig it was as though she was given a second chance at life. Eddie Price does a wonderful job of creating a historically accurate tale of what life must have been like during the early 1800's. I felt I was getting a history lesson while reading this story. Rich detail, wonderful characters, and a satisfying ending make this a must read for fans of historical fiction.

Stephanie D.

"Widder’s Landing" by Eddie Price is an outstanding example of historical fiction. It is set in early nineteenth century Kentucky, with the main setting being the fictional town of Cottonwood Bend. The two protagonists, Mary and Craig, both betrayed by people who claimed to love them, struggle with disappointment and the need to rebuild their lives. Craig, a gunsmith, loses his job and so travels to find new employment. Mary can’t stay with a husband who beats her. They meet thanks to the Widder. Widow Fuqua, formerly involved in crime and other underground activities, nurses the sick Craig back to health and an unlikely alliance grows between them. It is Craig who inherits her land and money. Now next door to the somewhat uptight and strictly Catholic McDonnell family, who are disapprovingly sheltering their daughter Mary while she tries to get a divorce, Craig and Mary’s paths inevitably cross. However, more challenges face them.

This fantastic story is as much character-driven as action-driven. Set against the larger backdrop of the War of 1812, current political events have a huge impact on what goes on. We get to see what activities people did in those days, how they interacted, and what problems they dealt with on a daily basis or on exceptional occasions. Everyone we meet is fascinating, either attractively or repulsively, complex and rounded. We see the whole range of human emotions and attributes, from loyalty and friendship to hatred and betrayal. Everything is so lifelike that we feel as though we are there too. This saga is a history lesson as well as a powerful, absorbing work of fiction.

Alice D.

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just before the War of 1812, Craig Ridgway works as a gunsmith with Jakob Wetzel. Jakob dies and Craig leaves for the western frontier rather than marry Jakob's temperamental, controlling daughter Anna. Craig stops briefly in Pittsburgh and becomes an iron worker, but he heads onto Kentucky. Floating down the Ohio River on a flatboat, he contracts pneumonia but his life is saved by the Widow Fuqua of Widder's Landing in Cottonwood Bend, Kentucky. The Widow, in failing health now but once the operator of a hellhole of prostitution, gambling and drinking at her dug-out home as well as being the backer of a gang of outlaws, befriends Craig and shows him how to plant crops on her land. When she dies, she leaves her three hundred four acre parcel of land to him as well as six thousand dollars in hidden coins that he finds months later. The Widow Fuqua's neighbors are strict Catholic war veteran Martin McDonnell and his family who, kind as they are, find the Widow and her shady past repugnant. Craig is attracted to Martin's daughter, Mary, who is seeking a divorce from drunken, unfaithful Jedediah. The coming war with Britain looms as does the issue of slavery as wealthy, landed neighbor Colonel Stoner owns numerous slaves.

"Widder's Landing" is historical fiction at its very, very best. Craig Ridgway, Martin McDonnell, his entire family including Mary, the Widow Fuqua, Colonel Stoner, Craig's friend Levi and all the many other characters are well-created and consistent as author Eddie Price gives the reader a clear picture of what life was like back in the early years of our country. Events like trapping raccoons and other wild animals for food and fur, building spring water wells, neighbors helping each other gather in crops and build barns, friends and relatives surviving earthquakes and river pirates, and sons going off to fight in the war, are totally believable. All these happenings are so very well-written that the readers will feel as though they are standing right there as the story progresses to its final pages. Books like "Widder's Landing" come along so rarely that reading it is a true pleasure creating memories that will last a long time.

Debra Gaynor

In "Widder’s Landing" we follow Craig Ridgeway on his journey west. Craig was a gunsmith, trained by the best, Jakob Wetzel. He began working for Wetzel when he was fifteen. Wetzel’s rifles were prized possessions in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The older man’s death was a great loss to Craig; he’d lost his friend, his mentor and his livelihood. Craig loved his work but there were few job openings for a gunsmith and that led to the decision to go west to Pittsburg. If things did not work out there he would move on to Kentucky where it was rumored the grass was blue and the corn grew ten foot high. Craig began his journey on foot. He took a flat boat down the Ohio River disembarking at Widder’s Landing just outside of Cottonwood Bend, Kentucky. Along the way he made friends and witnessed death. Craig was very ill when he arrived in Kentucky. The Widder Fuqua found him and nursed him back to health, but for a price. Craig would stay until October in return for her help. He asked her to teach him about her herbal medicines. The first time he laid eyes on Mary Catherine Carpenter, he thought she was the prettiest thing he ever did see. She was in a wagon with her father rushing to escape her abusive husband and never noticed Craig.

"Widder’s Landing: Life and Love on the Kentucky Frontier" by Eddie Price is a fictional tale set in 1811. Cottonwood Bend, Kentucky, is a fictional town set along the Ohio River, in Breckinridge County. Those familiar with the area may recognize similarities between fictional Cottonwood and Cloverport, a small quaint town overlooking the Ohio River. The other locations mentioned in "Widder’s Landing" are also real. Eddie Price brings history to life in "Widder’s Landing". Although the story is fictional Price manages to work in facts. Readers will not only be entertained but will learn much of Kentucky’s history. As Price described raising tobacco (terbacky) I could see Craig, Tom and the plow as they broke the ground. I could feel their pain as they pegged the young plants. The descriptions of the culture and daily life were fascinating. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Craig and Mary blossom into love. However, my favorite character was Missus Fuqua, The Widder. Beneath her deformed, crude exterior was a kind and caring person. This book has great depth. I found it entertaining, informative and a charming read. Price has skillfully woven romance, humor and history to create a tale that will stay with the reader long after reading the last page. This is Eddie Price’s first book, but given the talent and skill he has exhibited in "Widder’s Landing", I can barely wait to see what he will come up with next time.

Mitch Barkett

A great read about America in it's settler days in the early 1800's. A young man leaves PA to settle in Ky for a better life and gets lucky by marrying into a wonderful, God fearing family. The friends he makes along the way and the hardships they all endure brings you closer to every character. By the end of the book you feel like you are part of their family. Loved it!

Geoff Baggett

Widder's Landing by Eddie Price is a period historical novel set in the early nineteenth century, just prior to and including the War of 1812. This incredible story traces the westward migration of young Craig Ridgeway from the settled villages of Pennsylvania to the wild, untamed frontier of Kentucky. An untimely illness is the mechanism that introduces him to the homely "widder" on the banks of the Ohio River. The relationship forged between them guides Craig to sink his personal roots deep into the fertile Kentucky soil. He finds in Kentucky a mixture of love, family, violence, and war.

I am a resident of Kentucky ... a transplant, but still a proud resident. Having never learned Kentucky History in the classroom, I have to seek out books and resources to learn about the Commonwealth that I now call home. Eddie Price's book, though a mixture of history and fiction, helped bring Kentucky history to life for me! The book is a veritable feast for a history junkie ... filled with incredibly complex characters, bursts of heart-thumping action, and expertly researched details of frontier living that lift the story off of the page and bring Kentucky frontier history to life. The author incorporates all of the important historical events of the period ... the great comet of 1811, the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12, and the Cane Ridge Revival. Mr. Price's research is impeccable and his and obvious personal love of his subject matter shines through.

I cannot recommend Widder's Landing highly enough. It is an epic masterpiece of Kentucky history and drama. I have read it in its entirety twice and personally recommended it to dozens of people. And I eagerly await the forthcoming sequel!

johnny

As a former student of Eddie price I could not wait to read widders landing be use having Eddie as a teacher i knew it would be a very good read. His attention to detail and the amount of research that went into this book is shown with every page. Hard book to put down