“The Legend of Potato Creek” by Maurice Thompson – Story #8 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card:  ♣10♣ The Ten of Clubs

The Suit: ♣♣♣ Clubs ♣♣♣ – my suit for “legendary” Hoosier authors.

The Author: Maurice (pronounced like “Morris”) Thompson (1844-1901), born in Fairfield, Indiana, is one from the “Golden Age” of Indiana literature. He’s also a member of the archery(!) Hall of Fame.

The Story: “The Legend of Potato Creek” from his collection “Hoosier Mosaics.” I have one other story of his in this year’s Deal Me “IN” project, (“The Pedagogue”). Read “The Legend of Potato Creek” for free online at http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/60358/ (& then let me know what you think, naturally 🙂 )

What is Deal Me “IN” 2016?  (For an explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/story roster see here. Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection”of some kind. )


As little as one year or so ago, I had never even heard of this author. He is one I was led to discover by Dan Wakefield’s Introduction in the late 2014 “Indy Writes Books Anthology.”

“The Legend of Potato Creek”

This was a profoundly sad story – something I wouldn’t necessarily have guessed based on the title – but one with just enough sweetness mixed in for me to still like it. Quite a bit, actually. 🙂

It’s the story of Rose Turpin, a charming sixteen year old girl spending the summer on a relative’s farm, and “perhaps 25 years old” Zach Jones “a person thoroughly saturated with ague in its chronic form.” They meet when Rose is settled in on a perch of roots near the titular Potato Creek and Zach comes along leading an old horse, one who was

“…sadly diseased with that scourge of the equine race, scrofulous shoulder or fistula, commonly called, among the country folk, fistleo, and because the animal could not get well the man was on the point of killing it…”

Yes, Zach is planning to euthanize the ignoble old steed, by bashing it on the head with an axe. This, of course, is more than the delicate sensiblities of our sweet Rose can endure, and she pleads on the horse’s behalf for its life. Naturally, being a human male, Zach relents and subsequently, under Rose’s care, the horse makes a remarkable recovery. Her uncle notes her seeming natural ability to heal and suggests she spend some time with Zach to see if her healing touch can help with Zach’s chronic ague. They begin spending time together and the effects are just as her uncle hypothesized.

The sweetness of the story was over, though, since – with apologies to Peter, Paul and Mary – disease and pestilence live forever, but not so young girls, and Rose returns home where, after making a most triumphant “debut” in society, she is eventually snapped up by one of the region’s eligible bachelors. What happens afterward one could likely imagine, but I will let you discover that for yourself by reading this entire (short) story. 🙂

Personal Notes: Not long ago I went to a talk at the (nearby) Greenwood Public Library in Central Indiana. The featured topic was “Books by Hoosier Authors Made into Films” or something like that. All the normal ones you’d expect were covered (Ben Hur, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Fault in Our Stars, etc.), but it was here I learned a little more about Maurice Thompson and the fact that he was a legend in the field of archery, and one of the first inductees into that sport’s Hall of Fame. According to their website, his book, “The Witchery of Archery” was ‘accredited for returning the sport of archery to public interest.’ and notes that ‘Some of this was due to rifles bringing back bad memories of the American Civil War.’ I particularly like a quotation of his that I found on that website: “So long as the new moon returns in heaven, a bent beautiful bow, so long will the fascination of archery keep hold of the hearts of men.” Very nice.

I became fascinated – only briefly – with archery as a youth from reading of the legends of William Tell and Robin Hood and later from seeing the famed Errol Flynn movie, “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” which featured an archery contest for the ages…

I also found, in my online researching for this post, that there’s a target game in archery called “bow poker” – how appropriate for the Deal Me In challenge!
Bonus trivia question: Can you identify the Roman Emperor below, known for his devotion to archery?


  1. Paula Cappa said,

    March 2, 2016 at 10:57 am

    I’m hooked on this one. I will definitely read. Thanks, Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      March 2, 2016 at 11:22 am

      It’s short enough to read in 15 minutes or so. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂


  2. Dale said,

    March 2, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    I’m going to save this one for when I select the Two of Hearts. While the other Hearts stories are connected to Kentucky, I think I will use my wild card in Hearts to read an Indiana story. This sounds like a really good one!


    • Jay said,

      March 3, 2016 at 9:02 am

      I look forward to hearing what you think of it. I hope you enjoy it.


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