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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.

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Four Brothers in Gray Available Now

The newest release from Star Route Books, Four Brothers in Gray, is now available! The book tells the story of Confederate soldiers Andy, Harrison, Calvin and Alfred Proffit. Star Route Books reprinted the book with permission from Wilkes Community College (who has copyrights to the 1975 work by Mary Alice Hancock.)

In it, Ms. Hancock tells about the Proffit family of Wilkes County, North Carolina, and the four sons of William and Mary Proffit that left home to fight for the South in the Great Rebellion. She uses the boys’ own words- excerpts taken from over 100 letters sent home to Lewis Fork by the boys and their cousins to trace their paths through the war.

Mary Alice Hancock began writing articles for magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, Sports Illustrated, American Legion Magazine, Progressive Farmer, Catholic Digest and VFW magazine. She wrote two fictional children’s books, Menace on the Mountain in 1968 which was eventually made into a two-part, television episode of The Wonderful World of Disney. Her second book, in 1969, was a non-fiction novel called Thundering Prairie about the Oklahoma Land Rush.

In addition to the narrative, transcriptions of 100+ of the brothers’ letters, which inspired Ms. Hancock, are included. Like other titles in the Star Route history series, Four Brothers in Gray includes contemporary photographs, drawings, illustrations and and period maps obtained from the National Archives, the Library of Congress, Virginia Military Institute, Harpers Pictorial History and many other resources.

Also included is family information, describing the relationships of the brothers, their cousins and in-laws, who are frequently mentioned in their letters. Their letters reveal the excitement of battle, the loneliness at the front, thoughts of home and their concern for family and nation.

The 320-page, black and white, softcover book, 7.44″ x 9.68″ (Crown Quarto size), is currently available at The Sparta Store in Sparta, N.C., and online at for $32, + tax and shipping. For more information on wholesale pricing, please contact Claire.

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Civil War Mystery from an Area History?

Coming Soon from Imaging Specialists

While researching online for our upcoming book, Four Brothers in Graywe’ve found a few things we weren’t looking for. ISI is reprinting the book with permission from Wilkes Community College (who has copyrights to the 1975 work by Mary Alice Hancock.)

In it, Miss Hancock tells about the Proffit family of Wilkes County, North Carolina, and the four sons of William and Mary Proffit that left home to fight for the South in the Great Rebellion.  She uses the boys’ own words- excerpts taken from over 100 letters sent home to Lewis Fork by the boys and their cousins to trace their paths through the war.

The oldest, Andrew J. Profit, was captured twice by the Union: first at Chancellorsville and released, then at Spotsylvania, where this time, he was sent to Pt. Lookout, a Northern prison in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay.

At Chancellorsville, he was officially- and erroneously- listed by Colonel John Barry as killed in action while bearing the flag of the 18th NC Infantry. But Andy was, in fact, captured and later wrote in a letter to his father, “the Yanks… took us to Washington and kept us about 13 days… treated us with great respect, give us plenty to eat…”

The flag he was captured with is now on display at the NC Museum of History.

The 18th NC Infantry Regiment flag captured by Union forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville and now on display at the North Carolina Museum of History

While looking for images of Pt. Lookout, we found one through the Library of Congress website. The image, hosted at Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society is described as:

[Prisoners at Point Lookout taking the oath of allegiance] [Albumen print]
CREATED/PUBLISHED June 30, 1865 and a larger image is on their site here.

We also found a discussion board at Authentic Campaigner Website & Forums, discussing the NYHS image here, and whether the men were actually taking an oath or possibly just, as someone named froghunter suggested, at a “conclusion of Sunday school class with a hand holding prayer. They could be Methodists.”

Poster yeoman stated the image was also printed in The Photographic History of the Civil War: in ten volumes (1911), Volume 3 and that a low res version of the book is available online, here where the caption states, The Last Confederate Prisoners Take the Oath at Pt. Lookout.

Todd Watts said they couldn’t have been the last group, as the book says the photo was taken in, “late April” and he has, “a copy of my ancestor’s oath of allegiance taken at Point Lookout in June, 1865. So this particular group, if photographed in April is not the final group to take the oath there.”

NYHS and the Library of Congress say June 30 and the 1911 book says late April. yeoman finally replies, “As far as being free from factual error… horseshoes and hand grenades.”

We agree. Accounts from that time don’t always match up. Even from eyewitnesses like Colonel Barry and Andrew Proffit.

But, we think they are, in fact, the last group from Pt. Lookout.

Image at New-York Historical Society
Image from Photographic History of the Civil War
(From a double page spread)

Look closely at the two photos: same men, same time, same poses, down to the folds of their clothes-
Except for behind the judge’s bench. In the book, there are two men standing behind the bench and in the NYHS image, there’s only one. Two different shots. Someone stood up (or sat down) but nobody else moved. They didn’t as much as shift their weight or change their stance. Big deal?

In those days, two shots that close together in time, was a big deal- possibly requiring two cameras with two photographers or more probably one, really fast photographer wanting to get an important shot.

A shot like the last group to leave the prison.

Imaging Specialists reproduced a set of A Photographic History… in the 1990’s for a leather-bound edition by a national publisher. We dismantled two sets of original 1911 books acquired from a library in Minnesota and shot the actual pages on our cameras, so we have a little history with this historical title.

We hope to include at least one version of the Point Lookout event in this very interesting book, Four Brothers in Gray.

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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.

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ISI Receives Awards from NCSH

If you came to the release party for Paths & Passages -Navigating the Blue Ridge and Stratford Oaks Tales, The Tale of Gretchen, you’ve heard our latest news. If you weren’t able to attend, here it is:

Imaging Specialists Inc - 2012 NCSH AwardsSaturday, the 20th, we traveled to Mooresville, NC for the annual awards banquet of the North Carolina Society of Historians. Imaging Specialists was well represented this year: Claire Halsey was awarded a Paul Jehu Barringer, Jr. & Sr. Award of Excellence for her genealogy work and Jeff Halsey was named the NCSH Historian of the Year!

ISI also received a Willie Parker Peace History Book Award for the latest book in our history series, Regimental History of the 61st NC Infantry (published last fall) about Alleghany County men in the Civil War. We gathered text, photos, battle maps and battle summaries for the book; laid out and re-set the text; and optimized the photos for the book which is now available on-demand from Star Route Books and in our shop in Sparta.

Suzanne Mellow Irwin and Zach Hamm, with their families, also attended the meeting and won awards for the first in their series of children’s books, The Stratford Oaks Tales. Zach received a Paul Green Multimedia Award for his artwork and Suzanne a Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award for the story.

A couple of projects of the Alleghany Historical-Genealogical Society also won awards. We were proud to accept awards for the newsletter- our fourth!- Joe M. McLaurin Newsletter Award and the Alleghany Historical Museum, which won an Evelina D. Miller Museum Award.

Elizabeth Bray Sherrill, President NCSH and Jeff Halsey NCSH 2012 Historian of the Year

Imaging Specialists publishes the AHGS quarterly newsletters. We also produce the books in the Stratford Oaks series.

We plan to submit several projects and nominate others others in our community for consideration in 2013.

If you know of other projects you think deserve recognition, nomination forms are located on the NCSH site.

Imaging Specialists and the Halsey family is proud to have accepted these honors from the North Carolina Society of Historians. We sincerely appreciate the consideration of President Elizabeth Sherrill, the NCSH Board and the Judges. And we appreciate the help and support of the Alleghany Historical-Genealogical Society.