Posted on

BookFest – Downtown Sparta – June 29

Be sure to come to town Saturday, June 29!

From 3 to 5 in the afternoon, regional authors will be appearing for book signings at downtown shops. Preceding the event, from 2 to 3, Becca’s Backwoods will host a Young Writers’ Workshop.

At 5:30, Friends of the Alleghany Public Library will hold a reception at the library.

BookFest details will be added here and on the BookFest facebook page.

Books are great gifts (and re-gifts!), especially those that feature our region’s rich history, art and culture!

Libby Bagby
Lucky’s Plott
Sparta United Methodist Women
Faith, Food, and Fellowship
Books N Friends:
Kay Bodeen
Pat Crisp, Like a Moth to the Flame
Karen Hall
Building the Blue Ridge Parkway
Elva Sieg
Celebrating the Underdog by Tom Sieg
Mangum Cater Pottery on Main:
Ginger B. Collins
Writer & Reader
Doug Butler
After Appomattox: NC Civil War Monuments
Jeff Halsey
Star Route Books
Suzanne Mellow-Irwin
and illustrator Zach Hamm

The Stratford Oaks Tales
Touch of Grace:
JoAn Stout
My Shepherd My Savior
Off to See NC
Twelve Gifts of Christmas
Sam Williams
By This Christmas Moon
Garden Snippets
Wanda Wingler
Only Mary
Una’s Naturals & Vintage:
Jim Akers
One Soldiers Story

Come and join the fun and consider “liking” The Sparta Store for updates on other events and new releases.

Posted on

William Harrison Proffit’s Letter Home From 1863

We’ve recently published a reprint of the Mary Alice Hancock book, Four Brothers in Gray. Ms. Hancock wrote her intriguing narrative of the Civil War using excerpts from the Proffit Family letters, now in the Southern Historical Collection of the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Working with Wilkes Community College, who holds copyright to Ms. Hancock’s work, Imaging Specialists has added complete transcripts of over a hundred letters written by the boys and their “connection” (or extended family) home to Lewis Fork in Wilkes County.

Below is an excellent example of one of the letters written by William Harrison Proffit who volunteered to serve in the Army of Northern Virginia just a week after North Carolina seceded from the Union. Harrison Proffit was a school teacher and arguably the most eloquent of the four boys in describing his opinions of the war and his personal observations.

The correspondences, written throughout the conflict, from 1860 t0 1865, report the changing mood of the boys, from their initial optimism, the struggles of the war and the gloom of their inevitable fates.


Camp of the 1st N.C. Troops,
Near Port Royal, Va.,
Monday Morning, February 23d. 1863

Dear Father:

I write you another short letter to let you know that I am enjoying good health and getting along very well. Our Regiment has just performed another hard task of picket duty. We started from camp on Saturday evening and returned yesterday evening. On Saturday night and Sunday morning, we encountered the worst snow storm that has fallen this winter. Our Co. was stationed at a house near the bank of the River, therefore we fared tolerably well. The snow was about 12 inches deep.

We have comfortable quarters and are well supplied with clothing, blankets, &c. Our rations have been considerably reduced- we draw only half as much bacon as we did in the first part of the winter, but our wages have been raised $5.00 more per month, which make privates pay $16.00 per month. I have very little war news to write you at present. All operations on land are necessarily suspended on account of the inclemency of the weather.

I believe no attack is now expected in the vicinity of Fredericksburg; some think that most of the Yankees are leaving here. I should not be surprised if it were true. I suppose that Charleston, Savannah and Mobile, will be attacked bery soon. It is also very probable that another attack will be made on Vicksburg. I think if ithey are unsuccessful in these attempts, that active operations will cease, and our independence soon after acknowledged, but if the enemy should be successful, I have no doubt that it would tend grately to the prolongation of the war. Grate disaffection exists in the North Western States, and a North Western Confederacy is strongly spoken of. It is said that Gen’l Longstreet’s Corps of this army is going South. I think part of it has already gone. We belong to Jackson’s corps, therefore it is probable we will remain in Virginia.

I have not seen the other boys since I wrote you before, but heard from Andrew and Alfred a few days ago, they were well. I hope you received the letter I wrote you some time ago. I directed it to Lewis Fork P.O. Would it be more convenient for you to get letters from Lewis Fork? Write me as often as you conveniently can. Fearing that your letters are not backed correctly, I will send you an envelope properly directed.

My love to Mother and Sis, with all who may enquire for one.

Yours, as ever,
Wlm. H. Proffit

Posted on

Alleghany Cemeteries Through 1986 Back in Print With a New Look

The newest edition of Alleghany County Cemeteries through 1986, available now at the Sparta Store

Imaging Specialists has reworked the Alleghany Cemeteries book to make it easier to use and more sturdy in the latest edition, available now. As the supply of the original books dwindled, the Alleghany Historical – Genealogical Society board knew changes had to be made.

The 8.5″ x 11″ books were originally perfect-bound (or paperback style binding) on the short dimension making them cumbersome to use as they were over 22″ wide when fully opened. This configuration also stressed the binding so much that most of the books’ spines would eventually break apart, releasing pages or groups of pages.

Even with these structural problems, the book has been in demand since it was introduced in 1986. The Historical Society at that time did such a good job of documenting existing cemeteries that their effort has become one of the most useful and respected resources ever produced by AHGS. The Society gets regular requests for an updated version or a second volume- a task that would probably exceed the original project as names and information for the past 27 years would have to be researched and added.

The original edition, edited by Lou Reed Landreth with “Computerization” by Lynn Lambert, and help from Elvira Crouse, Pearl Reeves and Marvie Shelor- and probably every able bodied volunteer they could muster- was printed by New River Graphics in 1988.

The new edition will be printed, “on-demand” as orders come in. In this way the society won’t have to initiate a traditional press run, or raise  thousands of dollars in up-front production costs, or incur subsequent years of storage costs.

On-demand pricing is higher per unit, but it makes sense for a non-profit organization so that operating funds aren’t tied up in a long term inventory.

Spiral binding will allow field researchers to more easily keep their place whether they are at a single page or looking at a double page spread, without stress to the binding. Thicker pages should also add to the book’s longevity.

Pages from the first volume were individually scanned so the data is exactly as it appeared in the original.

Books are now available at the Sparta Store on Main Street in Sparta, North Carolina or here, online for $27 plus tax and shipping.

Posted on

New Projects at Star Route Books!

We’ve got some exciting book projects planned at Star Route. Here are summaries of what’s coming:

The cover of Paths and Passages

Paths and Passages, Navigating the Blue Ridge: Available now. Photographs of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwestern North Carolina. Scenes of the New River and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Ashe and Alleghany Counties by photographer, Jeff Halsey. The latest from Star Route Books and first in a series of photographic portfolios that attempt to describe and define the mountain region.

Tea Time Recipes: Available now. The much sought-after Dirty Fingers Garden Club cookbook, originally published in 2004 and out of print for many years, is available once again! Now you can learn how to make such delicacies as Cherry-and-Cream Scones, Strawberry Pound Cake, and Lavender Blueberry Soup. 20 photos are included, in black and white and in color.

Stratford Oaks Tales, The Tale of Clyde: Available September 2012. In the follow-up to The Tale of Gretchen, Dr. Suzanne Mellow-Irwin shares the story of a young calf and how he persevered to join the herd. Zach Hamm’s delicate pencil art complements Suzanne’s inspiring message.

Sparta Presbyterian Church’s Centennial Cookbook: Available September 2013. This popular cookbook was originally printed in 2006, in celebration of the Church’s Centennial. The book is now available once again; it quickly sold out during the first printing.

Emma Jean’s Blue Ridge Almanac: Available Late 2013. Emma Jean’s Blue Ridge Almanac is written, printed, and published in Sparta, North Carolina. Featuring a calendar, community events, important phone numbers and email addresses for town and county departments, home remedies and more, it is a general resource for folks in Ashe County, NC, Alleghany County, NC and Grayson County, VA.

The Westover Manuscripts: Coming 2014. Written in the 1720s and 1730s, The Westover Manuscripts focuses on the efforts to map the border between NC and VA, as well as other surveying trips during early years of our colonization. The book was actually three books all written by Virginian William Byrd. The “Land of Eden” refers to North Carolina.

Four Brothers in Gray: Coming 2013. A collaborative project with Wilkes Community College, Four Brothers in Gray is the story of the four Proffit sons who went to fight in the Civil War, and the one who returned. The book recounts the Wilkes County family’s wartime experiences in their own words with excerpts from 126 letters.

Get more information on those projects at the Star Route Books site.

Posted on

Show Me, Rosie! hits Shelves this Spring

WWII poster to recruit women stenographers from the U.S. National Archives
WWII poster to recruit women stenographers from the U.S. National Archives

The newest title from Star Route Books, Show Me, Rosie!Missouri’s working women in the Second World War will make its debut in March at the State Conference of the Missouri State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (MSSDAR).

Many people put a lot of hard work into the project. Individuals from across the state of Missouri interviewed mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends about their lives and service during World War II. MSSDAR gathered and edited their stories and photographs and sent it all to Imaging Specialists.

Of course, each individual’s experience was different- the stories are varied. Some women actually were riveters. Some were secretaries. A few married servicemen, others were in the service, themselves. There were wives, widows, divorcees and a few made conscious decisions not to marry until after the end of the war. Working wartime mothers motivated by patriotism or necessity found that they had to secure child care. Day cares and afterschool groups developed and children were left with sitters or grandparents.

Women's Bureau Department of Labor Poster from United States National Archives
Womens Bureau, Department of Labor Poster from U.S. National Archives

Our task was to show the diversity in a cohesive, uniform layout so we designed pages in a scrapbook format, using elements from a 1940s scrapbook as a base. This allowed each woman to share what was most important to her story and memories, as she would have done in her own scrapbook. We present modern and wartime images beside ration coupons, identification badges, insignia pins and other memorabilia.

The cover features the iconic “We Can Do It” poster, painted by Pittsburgh artist  J. Howard Miller for Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee in 1942. The title, Show Me, Rosie! not only refers to the Missouri state motto, but to the way these home front heroes share their wartime stories.

We chose a typewriter font for story text, printed on white “sheets” that looked like they were mounted on typical, gray construction paper backgrounds or onto graph paper backgrounds to give an industrial feel. Captions were printed in a script font used throughout- as if one hand had written it all, but in each submitter’s words.

WWII Rationing Poster from U.S. Library of Congress
WWII Rationing Poster from U.S. Library of Congress

We added photographs and wartime posters from the Library of Congress, the National Archives, private libraries and many other resources (around 30) when appropriate to help illustrate the 78 narratives. We also researched newspaper clippings and images submitted by (or on behalf of) the honorees, securing permission for reprint when possible. Some entrees took 3 or 4 pages, but most were 2 page spreads in this 184 page, 8.5″ x 11″, soft cover book.

The print-on-demand books serve as a fundraiser for the MSSDAR. Sales will help support the Missouri State Society in their many patriotic endeavors.