Another taste of that other Edward Willett

This seems to be my week for coming across complete facsimiles of my 19th-century namesake’s books. Hard on the heels of the his biography of Ulysses S. Grant, I’ve found a facsimile of one of his more typical titles, a “dime novel” called “Wide-Awake George, the Boy Pioneer.”

You can read the whole thing in PDF format, but here’s how it starts:

Chapter 1: Welcoming a New Settler

“This is my first act of ownership!”

As George Denston spoke he struck his ax into a tall young white oak tree.

Near him stood his mother, with his sister Lucy, a fine girl of sixteen. A litle nearer was his brother Ben, a bright boy of fourteen. George himself was a tall and manly young fellow of eighteen.

He had become the head of the family, and felt himself equal to his responsiblities.

After the death of his father the farm in Indiana had been sold under a mortgage, and George, who had taken the direction of affairs, advised a move to South-western Arkansas, where he had traveled, and where a friend of his had offered him a section of land at a low price and on easy terms. The offer had been accepted, and the move had been made.

A little later on we get a taste of the local dialect, when a fellow shows up in a coonskin cap and “a ragged suit of butternut jeans,” a man whose “dark face had never been touched by a razor” and whose hair “looked as if it had never made the acquaintance of a comb”:

George greeted him politely, but he took no notice of the salutation.

“Wot are you cuttin’ my timmer fur, young feller?” he asked.

Before the end of the first page, our young hero and his brother have come under rifle fire, and the adventure is really off and running!

Clearly, Edward Willett was a writer after my own heart, as well as name!

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