On Feb. 7, 1989, Mike Jordan’s 92-year-old great-grandmother called him over to her lounge chair and said she had something very important to tell him. The Bohannans of Bohannan Mountain, Arkansas, she said, secretly hid escaped slaves before and during the Civil War and nursed them back to good health, then got them off on their way toward Canada and freedom.
They were, she said, part of the Underground Railroad, but few people knew it or talked about it. Because Jordan was a writer, she urged her great-grandson to track the story down and write about it.
One week later, on Feb. 14, 1989, Valentine’s Day, Mrs. Bohannan passed away.
The result of that conversation is The Freedom Song, a just-released novel, based on a true story, that tells the story from both the perspective of the Bohannans and their patriarch Henderson Bohannan, who lived on a mountainous plateau near Huntsville, and the escaped slaves they helped at Lakeport Plantation at Lake Village in southeastern Arkansas.
The Freedom Song is the second book in the author’s Lost Heroes Series. Crockett’s Coin, the first installment that launches the Henderson Bohannan story from a Tennessee perspective, was also released this summer.
The books can be purchased on mikejordanbooks.com, at Amazon.com, or at any book outlet around the world.
The Mikejordanbooks.com website was highlighted by Amazon.com Createspace team members as having unique features for readers of fiction, including a patent-pending interactive author-reader process called “Coffee Break.” Coffee Break pages are integrated into both the paperback version and the Kindle version of Jordan’s novels that direct readers to chatrooms to discuss the book with the author and other readers while they are still reading the book.
The website also includes a photo gallery feature allowing readers to view photos of the people and places in Jordan’s novels while they are reading, and a “Back Story” page that lets the reader in on Jordan’s writing and researching process and explains the original ideas that led to his books.
The story of Jordan’s research and writing of both novels is a dramatic tale of perseverance and discovery that resulted in the award-winning journalist and professor emeritus of journalism at Pepperdine University traipsing all over Tennessee and Arkansas.
On the “Back Story” section of mikejordanbooks.com, Jordan tells a personal story of how he discovered that the mansion at Lakeport Plantation was still standing.
Longtime Bohannan Mountain and now Huntsville resident Norma Chancellor and her late husband Harrell, who at that time still lived on Bohannan Mountain five miles west of Huntsville, told Jordan that the slaves who came to Bohannan Mountain were from the plantations of the Delta lands of southeastern Arkansas and specifically mentioned Lakeport.
“In 1998 I decided I should travel down to where this Lakeport Plantation was and walk the walk – continuing my research for ‘The Freedom Song,’” Jordan explained. “I was sure any remnants of the old plantation probably were long gone, but at least I could walk along the Mississippi River and get a good feel for it.
“I checked into a little motel in Lake Village in Chicot County, then headed out toward where the plantation was located. Imagine my shock – and joy – when I discovered that the Lakeport mansion still stood after all these years. I was delirious with excitement.”
Jordan continues that story, and how he came to interview the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of slaves who toiled at Lakeport, on mikejordanbooks.com.
The research at Lakeport ends on a high note. The boarded up and dilapidated old mansion there was donated to Arkansas State University in the mid-2000s and the mansion has been restored to its original grandeur as a museum, open to the public. An in-depth website, http://lakeport.astate.edu/, displays the results of the four-year restoration.
Jordan’s next novel in the series, The Runner, also set at Lakeport and Bohannan Mountain, is due in 2018.