In March of 1986 it was my privilege to come into contact with James C.
Gardner, a former Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, as a result of having read a beautiful article that he had published in the Reader's Digest at
Having just had my first book of poetry published at the same time I was networking to promote my work as a poet and to receive input on how I might grow as an author so I contacted Mr. Gardner and we exchanged work and it was a pivotal turning point in my growth as a human being.
Mr. Gardner became my mentor and assisted me in the publication of my
work. In addition to this we became great friends and he shared some of his books with me including one that gripped my attention. He loaned me an original copy of Poems, a book authored by his great grandmother, Julia Pleasants Creswell, born in 1827.She was the grand daughter of Governor Thomas Bibb, of Alabama.
I felt honored to have, in my possession this treasured book of poems, authored by a woman who had suffered so much tragedy in her lifetime, much like myself. Her mother died when she was an adolescent, leaving her in the care of her father and grandparents.
After her marriage to Caddo Judge David Creswell, of Shreveport, Louisiana, her tragedies continued. She lost several of her young children. Her pain enveloped her soul but she struggled by turning her emotion into beautiful poetry including My Birdies, for her children buried under the trees in East Texas. She died in a mental hospital in Jackson, Louisiana.
It became my mission to promote her legacy so in l988 I collected
memorabilia from her relatives across the country, being an avid genealogist myself, and then I presented a week long series to a group
at Centenary College in my on-going effort to preserve her legacy.
The seed was germinated. I wanted to republish her works so that she
might live on. It was my good fortune to be able to publish a limited edition of Poems, in May, 2002, updating it with pictures and information from eight generations of her past and future generations.
The book was so well received by friends, family and poetry lovers
to inspire me to dig deeper. Thus I found two more of her rare books of poetry, which have yet to be seen by most of her descendants.
Those two books include Aphelia and Other Poems, authored by Julia and her cousin, Thomas Bibb Bradley, known as Two Cousins of The South. The book was first published in 1854, the same year that her cousin died at the age of twenty-eight. It was my privilege to find two of these rare books on the inernet.
The next book I found in electronic form was her second book to be
published in her lifetime. It was titled Callamura and it was published in 1868. It is a book that was set during the Civil War and is autobiographical in nature. The books are in the early stages of publication and should be ready before the end of the year.
I have yet to find Abracadabra, which was mentioned in the preface of Poems, first published by her son, James Pleasants Creswell, of Shrevpeort, Louisiana. If it is out there it will be found and it will find its spotlight to perform.
Puttin' on the Ritz
© Sarah Hudson-Pierce 2003-2005