Have you heard tales about the town of Taylorsville? It was a small town that once served as a the distribution center for cotton grown in Madison County during the early 1900's. Taylorsville was situated off Hobbs Island Road near the present day site of Ditto Landing.
The forgotten town is the setting for The Doughnut Tree, a book recently published by first-time author, Catherine L. Knowles, a native of Huntsville and 1980 graduate of Grissom High School.
Knowles says the book is a "whimsical historical fiction about my hometown, Huntsville, and the forgotten town, Taylorsville, over 100 years ago."
"The main characters take you on many journeys through bootlegging, madams, murders, boat rides, car races and even a trip to the beach. And finally they get to take a trip to Pasadena, California for Alabama's very first national championship football game," added Knowles.
Catherine and her husband live on the Tennessee River on a large track of farmland that is in the area formerly known as Taylorsville.
She was had the desire to learn more about the town, so she spent countless hours at the Madison County Records room at the Huntsville Public library. While doing her research, she made a gruesome discovery. A man by the name of Herman Deeley was lynched on her property well over 100 years ago.
After reading that, Catherine says she could not let it go, she had to know why this horrible act had been done. This led Knowles to set out on her journey to learn more about Taylorsville and eventually the idea of taking a leap of faith and writing her first book.
Catherine L. Knowles discusses her process of writing The Doughnut Tree in this interview.
"Here's the silver lining to this story, the prosecutor was so brave, that he took on society and said no more. That was the very last lynching in Madison County to this day. So, he probably saved many lives. Even though he lost that case and Herman Deeley lost his life senselessly. I feel like I wanted to dedicate the book to Herman Deeley, because I would have never written a book. It wasn't in me, but the passion to find out about this man was," said Knowles.
"No one will forget Herman Deeley now, I won't, " added Knowles.
A book signing for will be held at the Huntsville Botanical Garden gift shop from 10 AM- 2 PM on Saturday. The Doughnut Tree is available at several local stores, as well as Kindle and Amazon. For more information on The Doughnut Tree on Catherine's website.
Knowles is currently writing a second book about a famous Huntsville citizen, Madam Mollie Teal. She hopes to have it completed in time for Christmas.
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