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 The Pioneer Times   October - December 2008


 Author Robert Morgan to Appear at Kentucky Book Fair

By Helen E. McKinney

Robert Morgan wrote his first story of substance in the sixth grade. Not having the three dollars required for a field trip to the Biltmore House near Asheville, North Carolina, Morgan had to remain behind in the classroom. So that he wouldn’t be fostering an idle mind, his teacher, Dean Ward, suggested Morgan write a story about a topic that captivated him: a man lost in the Canadian Rockies, without any means of protection or convenience, makes his way back to civilization. The result was a day spent in the classroom alone writing details of his character’s escape from the wilderness. So surprised was he when students returned, that only then did Morgan realize he had spent the entire day engrossed in writing.    

Morgan has continued to write about pioneering spirits. Perhaps this is due in part to his upbringing. “I have always been interested in Boone, since I was a boy in Western North Carolina turning up arrowheads and pieces of Indian pottery while I hoed corn,” said Morgan. “My dad, Clyde R. Morgan, who was a kind of Daniel Boone himself, loved to tell stories about Daniel looking for more elbow room.”

Such a deep childhood fascination with an early American frontiersman as Boone carried itself into adulthood for Morgan, who was born on Oct. 3, 1944 in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Fueling this intrigue was the fact that Morgan’s father said he was related to Boone through Boone’s mother’s family, the Morgans. The history and intrigue of the Blue Ridge Mountain area where Morgan grew up lent itself to his ever inquisitive mind and fostered a talent that would later develop into a highly successful writing career.

Morgan will be among 220 authors appearing at the 27th Annual Kentucky Book Fair on Saturday, November 15, 2008. The Book Fair offers a diverse combination of authors, some first-timers and some seasoned writers, all in attendance from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, Ky.

An estimated 2,800 to 3,000 people attended the 2006 Kentucky Book Fair, said event organizer Connie Crowe. “I believe that the personal interaction between the author and the patron is what drives our event.” Crowe went on to say that all authors must be invited to attend the Kentucky Book Fair. Inclusion is a juried process by a volunteer author selection committee, which reviews over 400 submissions each year.

The Book Fair provides authors of all genres the “chance to meet their readers, hear their likes and dislikes about specific works, and peddle their wares,” said Lynda Sherrard, Marketing Chairman for the Kentucky Book Fair.

“Some potential buyers want to talk writing styles,” said Sherrard. “The patron may be an aspiring writer, a reader of a particular genre, or someone just browsing for something that attracts him to the author’s table.”

 Morgan has appeared at the book fair three times in the past. He will be there for a limited time, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., to sign copies of his book, Boone, A Biography. Earlier in the day at 1:30 p.m., he will appear at Paul Sawyier Public Library for a day of presentations entitled “The Life and Times of Daniel Boone.” Morgan will be joined by Michael P. Spradlin, author of Daniel Boone’s Great Escape and Meredith Mason Brown, author of Frontiersman/Daniel Boone and the Making of America.

Boone Book

 “A lot has been written about Boone, but earlier biographers had made a number of mistakes,” said Morgan. These included tales of 15 tons of ginseng Boone and his sons supposedly dug in 1788, his surveying abilities, and the myth that one of Boone’s children was fathered by one of his brothers.

A point he found highly relevant to a biography about Boone was the fact that “no previous historians had noticed that Boone was a Freemason, which was significant in the era of the American Revolution. Freemasonry was a part of the Revolutionary spirit,” he said.

It took Morgan four years to pen this biography about Boone. His primary source documents included the Draper Collection housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society, the archives of the Kentucky Historical Society at Frankfort, The Filson Club in Louisville, the Henderson Papers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Durrett Collection at the University of Chicago, The Boone Family files at the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, among many others. He also used anthropological studies of the Shawnee Indians that “no Boone scholars seemed to have paid any attention to,” he said.

Morgan also relied upon research he had uncovered years before for a poem about Boone that was never written. “I have always been interested in the Indians and the frontier,” he said. Morgan has had a prolific career writing short stories, poems and novels.

One reason Morgan said he admires Boone so much is because of “How well Boone’s character stood up under scrutiny.” As human as anyone else, Boone “made mistakes and failed in business, but often because he trusted people, and was willing to share what he had. He was a good surveyor, but lost land because he hated to go to court. He was peaceable, and respected people different from himself. He had an endless capacity of wonder and curiosity.”   

Morgan said he learned a lot first-hand from Kentucky writers and fellow book fair attendees, Neal O. Hammon and Richard Taylor. As a special bonus to his research, Morgan was able to spend an afternoon with Dr. Thomas Clark a few months before his death discussing the history of land in Kentucky.

 But some of the best advice he ever received was from his first writing teacher, novelist Guy Owen, while attending North Carolina State. Owen encouraged Morgan to write stories and poems about the places and people he had known while growing up. When Owen brought one of Morgan’s stories to class and read it one day, he announced he had wept while reading the story of Morgan visiting his great-grandmother in an old house in the mountains. “This was better praise than I had gotten in math class, and I was hooked on writing,” said Morgan. Luckily for Boone enthusiasts, he has stuck with it. 

To find out more about author Robert Morgan visit

“The Life and Times of Daniel Boone”
Paul Sawyier Library
Community Room
November 15, 2008


    9:30 a.m. – Michael P. Spradlin, author of Daniel Boone’s Great Escape

    11:00 a.m. – Meredith Mason Brown, author of Frontiersman/Daniel Boone and the Making of America

    1:30 p.m. – Robert Morgan, author of Boone: A Biography

    **These authors will be signing their books at the Kentucky Book Fair, Frankfort Convention Center, at other times throughout the day. Morgan will only be signing from 3-4:30 p.m.

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