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Larry Sullivan. Courtesy photo.




Meet Larry Sullivan

Where: Warner Town Hall, Main St., Warner
When: Saturday, July 11, at 7 p.m.
Contact: toryhillauthorsseries.com; each event is followed by a dessert reception with live music, a book signing and opportunity to meet the author
Upcoming events: Ben Hewitt speaks Saturday, July 25; Robert D. Putnam is Saturday, Aug. 8; and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is Saturday, Aug. 22




Mountain memories
Local author pens book about Mount Kearsarge

07/09/15
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



If there’s something you need to know about the Kearsarge area, Larry Sullivan’s your guy. 

The Warner resident has spent the past 10 years delving into old newspaper and library archives, finding stories and tall tales about the region, many of which make their way into his soon-to-be-released book, Mount Kearsarge: Histories, Stories, Legends and Folktales, the first comprehensive history ever written about the central New Hampshire mountain.
The rest you can find in his other texts — 19th Century Libraries of Warner, New Hampshire and Educators and Agitators: Selected Works of 19th Century Women Writers From a Small New Hampshire Town and Poems of Old Warner and Mount Kearsarge. Alongside his writing, you may find artwork by his wife Mimi Wiggin, who, in her excitement, created numerous oil paintings for Kearsarge.
Sullivan talks about his research and writing to kick off the annual summer Tory Hill Authors series sponsored by the Warner Historical Society on Saturday, July 11, at 7 p.m. at the Warner Town Hall. 
He began writing Kearsarge a while back.
“Years ago, I tried to find a book about Kearsarge and realized there wasn’t [one],” Sullivan said. “I do a lot of local research, so I started setting stuff aside whenever I saw something about Kearsarge.”
Sullivan, no stranger to historical writing — he’d already published two books through the Warner Historical Society and had a collection of local resources and contacts — began searching in earnest when he learned the society would print something about Kearsarge, a special mountain, he said, because of its accessibility to beginner hikers. He put out feelers and dug through archives upon archives.
“More than anything, it’s a matter of persistence. You need to keep grinding and grinding. It’s a lot of work. I might spend an entire week trying to find a piece of information,” Sullivan said.
On weekdays, he regularly gets up at 4 a.m., and on the morning of the interview, his wife was already outside, taking bird photography. (Little did she know as soon as she’d leave, a Pileated Woodpecker “the size of New Jersey” would perch itself right outside their window, Sullivan said.)
His persistence, he said over the phone, led to some interesting information (not to mention interesting spelling combinations; he said he’d seen Kearsarge spelled in what seemed like 40 different ways).
He found notes and letters about Kearsarge hikes on culturally important days — like when Thomas Jefferson was elected president, and shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation — and he learned about presidential candidate Horace Greeley’s last climb, the tornado of 1821 and, most difficult to uncover, a mountainside murder.
“I was talking with one lady one day, who said to me, ‘I am so excited, I can hardly wait to read your book! Did you find the story about the murder?’ … I asked her, do you know when it happened? Do you know who was murdered?” Sullivan said.
She didn’t; what she did have was a memory of riding with her family to her summer New London house. They’d always pass by the place the murder happened, and every time, she’d close her eyes and make certain the window was closed too.
“I [sent inquiries] to about 50 people to get a couple little sensors,” he said. “Then I found a clue that told me the murder dated back to before 1850.”
The book will contain oil paintings by Wiggin, a historical overview, photos, images, stories, tall tales and writing about Warner, including two poems by Donald Hall. Readers will find historical maps inside too.
“I was born and brought up in Concord, and I lived in Concord for most of my life, but I moved to this area 20 years ago. I enjoy the local history, and I truly believe we can’t know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been,” Sullivan said. “I like to know who used to live here.” 
 
As seen in the July 9, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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