Louisville Author Rebecca Duvall Scott Discusses Her Local Roots and Story Behind the Book
Darren Doyle, story: photos courtesy of Rebecca Duvall Scott:
A Louisville author with local roots is enjoying the success of her latest book; a work of Christian historical fiction based on the real hardships faced by her great-grandmother, May Wood Elliott Kerr, who was from Edmonson County.
On its release date, January 18th, "When Dignity Came To Harlan," published by Emerge Publishing group,
rose to #2 on Amazon's Hot New Release List.
Mrs. Scott described the story behind the story, which revolves around her great grandmother, who at 5 years old was packed in a covered wagon with three of her sisters; the eldest was married and left behind.
Kerr's family (characterized by the Atwood family in the novel) journeyed from Leadwood, Missouri to Edmonson County in search of a better life. Kerr's parents had no money or place to stay, so they asked neighbors to take their girls in until they could get on their feet. The four sisters were parceled out to strangers to earn their room and board, and Mrs. Kerr was put into a home where she was unwelcomed, (characterized by the Grainger family in the novel).
"They were particularly unkind, and her parents never came back," said Mrs. Scott. "May grew up in foster care, and had many challenges to overcome, including being raped by the man of the house, carrying his child, and when it was born, we believe it was either stillborn or the wife killed it. No one knew the truth about what had happened, though, and she lived down the shame by being kind to people and sewing them clothes. She was such a strong person for what she shouldered alone, and only with the grace of God did she manage to become the beautiful and dignified soul I knew she was."
Mrs. Scott said the story contains elements of faith, something in which she took pride, and she plans for that to be subject matter in future books that will become part of the series.
"She was saved at Good Spring and we believe we’ve traced the minutes back to when she was excluded for the unwed pregnancy, and was buried at Fairview, where I believe the baby’s grave is as well, but we don't really know for sure" Mrs. Scott said. "We also have pictures of documents that list her on the 1910 census as a servant in the foster family's home, as well as her first marriage certificate where her parents’ names are left blank! Among the few photographs we have of her, my favorite is the one where she is holding a cat in front of the other family’s house; she had cut them out of the picture except for the bit of the man you can see sitting in a chair next to her."
Kerr married a Civil War veteran named John D. Elliott when she was 24 and he 73, and they had three children, Joy, Eddie, and Lois. Many locals might remember Kerr's second husband, Lewis Kerr, who for many years ran a general store in the Rhoda Community on old HWY 259 just past the Edmonson County Baptizing Facility near Bell Key Methodist Church. Mrs. Scott said Kerr’s second union was blessed with three more children, Evelyn, Junior, and Bobby.
Mrs. Scott also said that her intended overall message from the book is the preserving of one’s heritage and learning from the past, that all truth comes to light eventually.
"The human experience is relatively unchanged, even from that time period," she said. "We all face different trials and we all react to those. I believe it's important to keep family history alive for future generations."
She said she also wanted to create the picture of how stories are passed down through families, and this is one that shares ties to the Edmonson County community.
"My grandmother (Lois Elliott Duvall) told me the stories of her mother when I was a child, and I was fascinated with the idea of the parents bringing those girls to Kentucky in a covered wagon and then them leaving them in others’ homes with the promise they’d be back… the idea of May Wood Elliott Kerr growing up in a cruel foster situation and persevering in spite of her circumstances just really touched me. It was a story of vast human experience and courage – one that we can all learn from! As a teenager I wrote everything down my grandmother could remember – scraps of names, dates, anecdotes, etc., and filled a notebook along with pictures. I started the novel in college, turning in the first 70 pages as my final paper to my creative writing class, and on graduation day the professor shook my hand and asked me to finish it one day. Twenty years in the making and the dream of publishing the story finally came true."
While “When Dignity Came to Harlan” has always been the book Rebecca Duvall Scott intended to publish, she first published a special needs self-help memoir about her son’s journey with sensory processing disorder. Now, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction, she is a public speaker and SPD intervention strategist. She said she had nearly given up on her dream of being a published author in lieu of being a wife and mother, but not long ago, her husband began encouraging her to finish her memoir – which got the ball rolling again for both series.
"God blessed me with an amazing opportunity to publish the self-help memoir about my son’s journey with sensory processing disorder that I had also started years before," she said. "That book (Sensational Kids, Sensational Families: Hope For Sensory Processing Differences) earned me the title of a bestselling and Amazon Top 10 Hot New Release author last spring, and I now know that it was all part of God’s plan to set me up to publish the one I was always meant to publish, When Dignity Came to Harlan.
Another accolade of the book is an endorsement by award-winning author, Lizbeth Meredith. Her statement said, “A reminder of our forebears’ sacrifices and strength, this exquisitely-told story proves that no amount of poverty and pain are a math for fierce faith."
Mrs. Scott attends Longfield United Baptist Church in Louisville, which is part of the Green River Association of Baptists, an association of churches in Kentucky, Indiana, and Georgia, many of which are in Edmonson County.
The novel is available in paperback, hardback, and electronic editions, and can be purchased on Amazon at the following link: When Dignity Came to Harlan: Duvall Scott, Rebecca: 9781949758955: Amazon.com: Books
Follow her Facebook group fan page:
Visit her website at: www.RebeccaDuvallScott.com
Rebecca can be reached via email at: Rebecca@RebeccaDuvallScott.com