Local author Ruth Davis just released, Thirteen Rivers: The Last Voyage of La Belle, a novel of historical fiction based on the true adventures of French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and his colony.
Ruth, a fifth-generation Texan, lives in Palestine.
Her familys homestead in Henderson County dates back to 1887.
She and husband, Dan Davis, have a real estate office and working ranch in Anderson County.
Thirteen Rivers is a tale of pirates, hurricanes, war parties, betrayal, revenge, kidnapping, shipwreck and murder in a chronicle of events retold from the journal of 1st Lt. Henri Joutel.
Ruth will offer a book signing from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Mary Jean’s Boutique in the Redlands building.
We recently caught up with Ruth to talk about her new book, her inspiration for the project and if another historical project might be in the works.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: About 10 years ago, the Palestine Library Friends sponsored plays called Murder on the Dis-Oriented Express on the Texas State Railroad. That year, our mystery was titled Raiders of La Salles Treasure.
Q: How extensive was the research this book required?
A: In order to write this play, I had to do extensive research on the La Salle expedition. What I learned was amazing. A fiasco from the beginning, the mission was ravaged by pirates, hurricanes, Indian war parties, shipwreck, kidnapping and murder.
Also surprising, the French expedition traveled across East Texas and camped for more than two months with the Cenis and Caddo Indians at the site of Caddo Mounds State Historical Park near Alto. La Salles first lieutenant, Henri Joutel, kept a detailed journal of the entire mission. I used his manuscript, The La Salle Expedition to Texas, as a major resource.
One of the four ships of the mission, La Belle, was discovered in 1995 in Matagorda Bay and was meticulously excavated by Texas head archaeologist Jim Bruseth. Approximately two-thirds of her hull remained intact and was preserved by scientists at Texas A&M. La Belle and many of her artifacts are now on display at the Bob Bullock museum in Austin. The remains of a sailor found aboard and presumed to be C. Barange, is buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
Q: Why do you think this particular historical story resonated with you?
A: After discovering the intriguing elements of their story, I decided others would find their adventure exciting as well, so I began relating the narrative as a work of historical fiction based on actual events.
Q: Are you just intrigued by this historical story?
A: I love Texas history.
Q: Are you working on any new projects?
As the sequence of events transpires in this book, a prequel and/or sequel could possibly be in the works.