Garrison Avenue is historical fiction about the only lynching in Fort Smith, Arkansas, during the Jim Crow era. This was an event that reflected the religious and social mores of the time—plus ongoing racial anxieties. The town had been a Union Fort in a Confederate state. By 1912, it had become a modern city with almost a hundred years of immigration, politics, and business history.
The story is told through the eyes of a young woman who is new to Fort Smith. The townspeople speak for themselves through dialogue—and as such, the reader will encounter language and attitudes that reflect their ambitions, fears, biases, and cultural perspectives. Some of the characters are fictional. Their conversations and behavior reveal their own personalities, ideas that channel those of the various factions in the city—and their attitudes about real historical events in Fort Smith at that time. Many other characters are our interpretations of real people who lived through this event. Some of their words are taken from newspaper interviews and court documents. Since many of the folks who inhabit these pages are the ancestors of people we know, we’ve tried to present them as accurately and respectfully as possible.
Like all novelists, we hope you will enjoy the story. We also hope it will make you think about things that bind us together as well as stuff that tears us apart. And in the end, we hope we will feel good about where we have been, who we are now—and who we might become.