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William F. "Bill" Kaiser

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BLOODROOT: A Novel of the Civil War

BLOODROOT is the first in a series of novels.

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BLOODROOT
by
William F. Kaiser


BLOODROOT covers events that occurred during the Civil War in the remote Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. While a work of fiction it presents realistically the upheaval in southern Appalachian society by the events of that war ... Events that still echo today in the towns, villages and "hollars" in these mountains. Events of the Civil War still effect our national psyche.

The current dispute of the display of the Confederate flag is just one example. Government and civilian battles to save historic battlefields from destruction by Mall developers are ongoing today in the Southern States.

Many of the events in BLOODROOT did occur. Presidents and generals and a few other real persons as well as significant war events are presented as described in most texts.

BLOODROOT however, is a work of fiction. Most of the people in this story are of my creation. Any resemblance to living persons, present or past, is coincidental.

Some of you no doubt will find some coincidences.

Some few places in BLOODROOT, namely mountains and rivers and gaps and trails, are real. Others I've made up and given names of my choice.

The trees, shrubs, flowers, herbs, animals, snakes, birds, fish and like are as accurately described as my research permits. As are the foods, clothes, tools, arms and other implements.

As for the acts in BLOODROOT of heroism, brutality, sacrifice, depravity, courage and cowardliness, hope, hate and love, they are no more than my humble attempt to portray human nature as I see it.

THE MAJOR CHARACTERS OF BLOODROOT ARE:

William John (Billy Jack) Truehill


He was born 1841 in Lincolnton, North Carolina; he is orphaned at age 8; his mother's brother, Harris Sherritt, takes Billy Jack into the mountains to grow up.

When book one opens, it is August 1860; Billy Jack is 19; minimally educated; he can read and write a little but is learned in the ways of the forest and mountains.

Billy Jack holds the mountain people convictions of independence and god-given rights; he is "Southern," honest, stubborn, anti-outsiders, not much concerned with people or events outside his environment -- yet he has a vague restlessness and curiosity about the world outside of the mountains.

Elvira Mayberry Heath Johnson


She was born in 1835 and raised in New York City; her family is upper middle class; she has been well educated in private schools. In January 1858 she is forced to marry the Methodist Reverend Hiram Johnson. He is 25 years her senior. She does not love him. In March 1858 the Reverend is sent by the church to the Western North Carolina mountains as a Missionary. She is forced to go with him.

Elvira May, when the story opens in August 1860, is 25 years old. She is a widow, the Reverend having died of fever. She is struggling to survive on an isolated patch farm in a cove in the mountains.

She is strongly anti-Southern, pro-Union, and "looks down" at the "ignorant" mountain people; she desperately wants to find a way to return to New York, but won't accept her father's help.

Brady McBigger


A mountain man, moonshiner, self-righteous, mean-spirited. As eldest of the clan of "McBiggers," he "runs" McBiggerville, a rambling settlement of ramshackle cabins, farm fields, corn cribs, and a whiskey still. He owns a run-down "general store" and post office. He will cheat, steal, even kill in the name of "bein' in the right."

He is a staunch Confederate; considers it his duty to rout out any pro-Union mountain folk. He represents the worst of the mountain man characteristics, yet many mountain folk admire him for his stubborn clinging to the old ways of "Southern" mountain life.

Benton McBigger


Younger brother of Brady McBigger; a braggart and a coward, a "follower" of his older brother. He swears to his brother to seek vengeance against all unionists and all who support them. He is a weak leader and his attempt to "run" the McBigger clan is a failure. He is sneaky and vicious in attempting to live up to his oath to his brother.

THE SETTING OF BLOODROOT


The primary setting of BLOODROOT is a fictional North Carolina mountain county, Afton, and its county seat, Somerset. The fictional setting is a lot like the real North Carolina county of Watauga and its county seat of Boone as they were in 1860.

My characters play out their lives against a cast of dozens of characters, real and fictional, in events of 1860 to 1865, real events and fictional events that echo real events.

Read excerpts from BLOODROOT


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BLOODROOT is the first of a Southern Appalachian family saga from the time of the Civil War to the present. The sequel to BLOODROOT is now in development. With a working title of WHITE RIDERS, the novel follows the Truehill and McBigger families as the Ku Klux Klan rises from the ashes of the Civil War to threaten, torment, rape, plunder and murder Mountain folk. The Truehill family, Billy Jack and Elvira May, struggle to overcome the differences in their heritages as KKK raiders split the loyaltties of whites and blacks in the aftermath of the Northern victory, "Emancipation" and "Reconstruction."

William F. "Bill" Kaiser * North Carolina Writer