• View of Springfield Armory overlooking the city of Springfield, 1855

    Springfield Armory

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DEBUTS NOVEL AT ARMORY DAY

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Date: June 26, 2012
Contact: Shera Cohen, (413) 271-3982

SPRINGFIELD, MA - Springfield, Massachusetts in the year 1800 and, specifically, the Springfield Armory are brought to life in Elaine Marie Cooper's newly released novel The Legacy of Deer Run. The compelling story is a gripping mix of romance and deception, faith and forgiveness, transgression and trial.

This final book in the Deer Run Saga will receive its official launch on Armory Day, when Cooper speaks and does two book signings on Sunday, July 1st at Springfield Armory National Historic Site.

The reason for the novel's premiere at the Springfield Armory was obvious to Cooper. "The plot involves a young Armory worker in 1800," she said. "He becomes involved in political intrigue, as well as intrigue of the heart, as he falls for a young woman in Springfield who he thinks he can never have. The historical settings are the Armory, Springfield, and West Springfield," she continued.

Cooper, a former Arlington, MA resident, began writing at age 11. She has been a history enthusiast since she was young, and was particularly enthralled with the American Revolution. Couple that keen interest with the fact that her ancestors were actual participants in the makings of this country, it was inevitable that she would become an author of historic novels. The Road to Deer Run, her debut novel was a finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received Honorable Mention in the Romance category at the 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival. The sequel, The Promise of Deer Run, placed First in Romance at the 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival.

"My interest was really piqued when I found out that one of my ancestors was a British soldier under General John Burgoyne," she stated. "He had fallen out of the prisoner-of-war line after the Battle of Saratoga, and somehow found my 4th great-grandmother from Goshen. They married and raised a family in Williamsburg, MA. One of their sons, a twin named Daniel Prince Jr., went to work at the Armory as an apprentice when he was age 15, and stayed for 35 years. All this information made history very personal to me. The protagonist in this book is based on my 3rd great-grandfather, Daniel Prince Jr.," she continued.

Her Deer Run Saga begins in 1777 following the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point for the Patriots in the American Revolution. Legacy takes place in 1800, with its central character a young man who makes weapons for the defense of the fledgling nation. Add romance into the mix, as our hero tries to protect his heart from the allure of a young woman who seems so far above his station in life that he cannot win her. "There's lots of history sprinkled with romance," the author said.

Cooper's research included trips to the Armory in 2009 and 2011. "I picked the brain of Park Ranger Richard Colton, who is a fount of information about the Armory and muskets. He found several old pictures and documents that were immensely helpful to the details in the story," said Cooper. She also learned additional information from Guy McLain and Maggie Humberston at the Museum of Springfield History, and Dennis Picard at Storrowton Village Museum.

"I remember when Ranger Richard Colton sent me a copy of an old Armory pay record from the early 1800's. Not only did it contain the signature of my ancestor, Daniel Prince Jr., but also that of his father, Daniel Prince Sr.," Cooper recalled. "It was the first documentation that the Armory had employed a British veteran of the American Revolution - one that had fought on the enemy side!"

Cooper believes that today's youth, particularly those in Greater Springfield, should read her books is because of Springfield Armory being a crucial factor in the defense of this country for 174 years. She also thinks that the knowledge of that history is slowly fading into obscurity for many throughout the country.

"I think that the Armory played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution in the United States and should not be forgotten by Americans, whether young or old, particularly those who are local," she said.

The Legacy of Deer Run is a glimpse into the everyday life of the people in Massachusetts in 1800, a year when societal changes were rapidly occurring in this country, along with stirring political challenges. The plot also includes an interesting legal dilemma of the era which involves an old Massachusetts law.

It never occurred to Cooper to write about history as non-fiction. "History is so much more fun and memorable when it is put in story form," the author said. She weaves historical facts with the tales of people, many of who were real individuals, so that the documents and textbooks become personal.

"It is easier to relate to an Armory worker who has to deal with prejudice, political concerns, and the trials of working long days in the blazing hot forge to make weapons, than to just study the facts. Fiction puts a face on history," she continued.

The third and final book in her trilogy, Cooper looks forward to her next work which she has already begun to research. Yet, she is a bit sorry that Deer Run is ending. "It was difficult to bid my characters farewell," she said.

Armory Day also includes many free outdoor and indoor activities for all ages. The site is wheelchair accessible. For information call 413-734-8551 or www.nps.gov/spar.

Did You Know?

Charles Dickens, 1842. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Author Charles Dickens toured Springfield Armory’s Hill Shops and Water Shops on his 30th birthday, February 7th, 1842, a year before publication of A Christmas Carol. The first of two visits to America, he and his wife were accompanied by the superintendent and the paymaster. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.