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Historical Novel Reveals Little-Known Past
Author Willie Davis has written a historical fiction novel on how one small Appalachian Kentucky town can lay claim to helping build the greatest country on earth.
“Olive Hill, Kentucky has a surprising creation story,” says author Willie Davis. “Hundreds of thousands of Kentucky’s sons and daughters migrated to the industrial north in the 1940’s and 50s without realizing how their past had helped build America. My family was among them. I became determined to tell Olive Hill’s storied past.”
Olive Hill is written in two volumes. It follows the fictitious Reed family from May, 1800 to June, 1959. The two volumes integrate 339 fictional characters into 159 years of American history to tell how Olive Hill gave all that it had in a time it was most needed until a time it was needed no more.
Carter County, Kentucky was blessed with an abundance of diverse natural resources, including timber, iron ore, coal, and limestone. During the Industrial Revolution one of its towns, Olive Hill, became the center of a 600 square mile hotbed of fireclay, a unique heat-resistant clay used to make firebricks. For decades, thousands of hard-working Olive Hillians dug, moulded, and fired that uncommon clay into hundreds of thousands of firebricks per day to line open hearth steel furnaces, locomotive fireboxes, and steamship boilers. Without the steel, there would be no skyscrapers and no rail lines. Without the trains and ships, there would be no movement to expedite a growing nation. Olive Hill firebricks helped make this possible.
Davis dedicates the novel to anyone interested in Olive Hill, Kentucky – yesterday, today, or tomorrow. “More people need to know the Olive Hill story,” continues Davis. “And more people need to know more American history.”
Davis reluctantly identifies in his introduction ten personal truths woven throughout Olive Hill’s two volumes. He also admits changing his writing style in tongue-and-cheek world history lesson covering the time period from the universe’s Big Bang to May, 1800 where Volume 1 begins. “I’m not sure what got into me,” exclaims Davis.