Book notes

McClanahan, Olson
to speak at Irish Rover, Too

‘Lunch and Lecture Series’ to become
monthly event for historical society

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (March 2005) – Response was so good for the Oldham County History Center’s Dinner and Lecture Series last year that it is now a permanent event on the center’s calendar. In addition, a noontime Lunch & Learn Series was begun with a grant through the Kentucky Humanities Council Book Discussion Program.
Through these two programs, authors and Humanities Council speakers can share their works with an appreciative audience. Author Ed McClanahan will lead a book discussion program at the Irish Rover, Too at noon on March 5. McClanahan will discuss his comic memoir, “Famous People I Have Known.”

Ed McClanahan

Photo provided

Author Ed McClanahan to speak March 5.

All Lunch & Learn Series programs will take place at the Irish Rover, Too, 117 E. Main St. There is a $10 cost for History Center members and $12 for non-members. Lunch is included in the cost.
McClanahan was born in 1932 and grew up in Brooksville, a small rural town in northern Kentucky. His father ran an oil distributorship and his mother was a schoolteacher. The family moved to Maysville, and he wrote for his high school newspaper. He earned his master’s degree at the University of Kentucky.
Between teaching English classes at Oregon State College, he wrote a 100-page novella titled “From a Considerable Height.” He completed the novella in five months and was awarded a contract to develop it into a full-length novel. He won the prestigious Stegner Fellowship and enrolled at Stanford University to write fiction.
McClanahan taught creative writing at Stanford from 1963 until 1972, when he left to teach in Kentucky, and then Montana. He returned to Kentucky for good in 1976.
In 1985 he published “Famous People I Have Known.” McClan-ahan shares vignettes of his encounters with famous and not-so-famous personalities, and phenomenons ( such as revolutions, rock and roll, hippies) of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Library Journal said of his book: “The result is a whirling sideshow of a book, a peculiar mixture of anecdote, dialogue, description, travelogue and (here and there) serious evaluation.”
The next speaker for the Dinner & Lecture Series will be Jeffersonville, Ind., author Dana Olson. The cost for this March 16 presentation is $15 for History Center members and $18 for non-members. All programs begin at 6 p.m. and reservations are recommended. Olson will speak at the Irish Rover, Too.

Famous People I Have Known

Photo provided

Author Ed McClanahan's
book "Famous People
I Have Known"

Olson, originally from LaCrosse, Wisc., will give a presentation based on research conducted for his book, “The Legend of Prince Madoc and the White Indians.” This book is now in its sixth revised printing, having been first published in 1987.
Olson began his research for the book in 1982. He had been gathering information for another book about the Reno Brothers of Seymour, Ind. They reportedly conducted the first railroad train robbery in America. Heeding some advice he had been given to make his book more interesting, Olson began researching the history of the Clark County, Ind., area.
Relying on reference books (such as county history books) for background information, Olson began to piece together a picture of Prince Madoc. Madoc was one of 17 sons born to Owain Gwynedd, Prince of Wales. In 1167 Madoc set sail to explore the western seas.
Olson and many others believe Madoc set foot in America in 1170 AD, 300 years before Christopher Columbus arrived. The European settlers that came with Madoc would have been the first white settlers at the Falls of the Ohio. It is conjectured that the Welsh colonists sailed along the North American coast to the Gulf of Mexico, where they entered Mobile Bay in Alabama and made their way up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to the Falls of the Ohio.
It is speculated that the colonists built a chain of stone fortifications high on bluffs that were used for look out points and defense. These Welshmen co-mingled with Indians and a tribe of half-breeds was created, said Olson.
Descendants from this tribe of White Indians fought a great battle with Red Indians (Shawnees, Delaware) at the Falls of the Ohio. The White Indians were defeated, and the remnant group fled to Missouri, becoming known as the Mandan Indians. They eventually settled in Mandan, N.D., and a chain of stone forts followed them.
Olson said writing this book has been, “a very interesting journey.” A small, updated segment in the book refers to Melungeon theories and DNA testing. New evidence has recently surfaced in the discovery of a stone wall outside of Taylorsville, Ky., one that is a quarter of a mile long and in pristine condition, said Olson.

Ed Mc

Dana Olson

Olson would someday like to see his research developed into an outdoor drama or movie. His book is available at Karen’s Book Barn and through the history center.
As a special offering for March, the History Center will offer a Quilt Camp for Kids on March 12, March 19 and March 26. From 10 to 1 p.m. on those days, textile artist Gayle Williamson will lead kids in making a Nine Patch quilt. Williamson said she would instruct the kids on how to take scrap material and create something beautiful and useful.
Williamson places an emphasis on recycling, pointing out that kids will “see what they can create out of what they’ve already got,” she said. This will be the first time the artist has conducted a Quilt Camp, even though she has led kids at Immaculate Conception school in La Grange in a similar process.
There is a $10 charge for members and $15 for non-members. This price includes a brown bag lunch.

• Reservations can be made for all three events by calling the history center at (502) 222-0826.

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