Regional authors to visit library book festival

Published 8:41 am Friday, September 11, 2015

Well-known, regional historians Dr. Samuel C. Hyde Jr. and C. Howard Nichols will be joined by Gary L. Stewart, writer of a frightening family history as featured authors at the Washington Parish Library 2015 Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 19.

The family-friendly event will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. out on the lawn under tents, as well as inside the Franklinton Branch of the library at 825 Free Street. More than 20 other guest authors will also be present to meet and greet, sign autographs, sell books and speak to festival-goers.

Born in northern Tangipahoa Parish in 1958, Hyde is a professor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University, the director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies and holds the Leon Ford Endowed Chair in Regional History at Southeastern.

Hyde earned a bachelor of arts degree from Tulane University, a master of arts degree from the University of New Orleans and a doctorate from Louisiana State University.

He is the author of Pistols and Politics: The Dilemma of Democracy in Louisiana’s Florida Parishes, winner of a 1998 American Association for State and Local History. The most recent of his numerous books is The Enigmatic South: Toward Civil War and Its Legacies.

Honors and awards include receiving a President’s Award for Excellence in Research from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2014, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for Historic Preservation and Scholarship from the Foundation for Historic Louisiana and having been named in 2013 as a Fellow of the Gulf South Historical Association, one of only three individuals so designated in the 33-year history of the organization.

In addition to authoring books, numerous articles and other publications, he is also a script writer and producer of numerous films. At the festival, the topic of his talk will be “Factors Contributing to the Peculiar Identity of the Louisiana Florida Parishes.”

Southeastern’s Emeritus Professor of History, C. Howard Nichols was born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1935 but his family moved to Louisiana when he was only 1 year old. He first attended Shimer College in Illinois but earned a bachelor of arts in education degree from Southeastern and a master of arts in history degree from Louisiana State University.

Nichols began teaching at Southeastern in 1958 and he retired from there in 1998 after 40 years. He is well-known as an expert on local and regional history.

Nichols said he will talk about “Pontchatrain’s North Shore, focusing upon the Tchefuncta Corridor that made Covington a shipping point as well as a courthouse town.” It was through this corridor that Washington Parish shipped farm produce to New Orleans, he said. He will also be promoting his latest book entitled, Stories of a Rivertown: Covington, Louisiana at 200 Years.

Gary L. Stewart was born in 1963 in New Orleans and reared in a “loving home in a typical old South Baton Rouge community.” However, as an adoptee, he was haunted by the lack of knowledge of his past — his family history. He struggled with an “identity crisis that would last some four decades,” he said.

���Being an engineer” (he earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from LSU) and “with a mind to search for and find logical solutions to everything,” he spoke to his biological mother for the first time 13 years ago.

His subsequent journey to find his biological father and “his own identity … would reveal the most chilling conclusions about his father.” Stewart’s book, written with Susan Mustafa, chronicles the discovery that Stewart’s father was the Zodiac serial killer. His talk will be about his journey and new developments concerning his family history, including a movie deal.