Claiborne County (TN) Breakdown

Patrick Watts

Louvin Reilly lives on his farm with his daughter Lucy Lee near Cumberland Gap, Tennessee in the late 1880’s. Both wait for Lucy’s fiancé John Behan to return from working on the flat boats on the Cumberland River. When John returns Louvin plans to spend all his time showing him how to operate his farm. Louvin has two nephews, Matthew and Mark Johnson. The Johnson boys have been living on their own for about twelve years since their parents died in a fire that destroyed their cabin. Louvin wants to see them marry, leave the hills and prosper in the city. They have the wherewithal, but Louvin worries they do not seem the least bit interested in grasping the opportunity. In the meantime a number of tragedies occur and other situations arise that involve Louvin and the Johnson boys to varying degrees. These are told in this book as separate short stories. Each story is based upon an old time folk song. Inspiration came most directly from the songs “Molly and Tenbrooks,” “The Oxford Tragedy,” “The Wexford Girl,” “Molly Bawn,” “Polly Vaughn,” “The Johnson Boys,” “Good Old Mountain Dew,” “Dooley,” “John Henry,” “The Wreck on the C. & O.,” “Silver Dagger,” “Katy Dear” and “Cumberland Gap.” The stories include many allusions to other songs as well, such as “Jimmie Brown the Newsboy” and “Groundhog.” Names of most of the characters in the stories are names of characters from even more songs, such as Lucy Lee, Cindy, Katy Daly, Angeline Baker, Willie Moore, Jack Davy and Rattler. Any fan of folk and bluegrass music will recognize many more songs and names. These stories are not straight restatements of the songs. The author developed the situations and characters differently, as Calliope and Euterpe directed. The original songs about the horse race and the train wreck were based upon actual events. However, again, the Muses had their own ideas about things for this collection. One of those ideas was to have a core of characters that appear in all the stories. Some just lend a hand to help develop that particular story. Some have stories of their own that develop and resolve themselves across the entire collection. Although the stories are separate, they are interrelated by setting, characters and events. 137 pages.

1 lb
9 × 1 × 6 in