Midpoint of the Passage

On this day in history, exactly three hundred and thirty-three years ago, September 12, 1684, Bartholomew Stovall cast his view to the open seas, North West.  Bartholomew knew full well that he was crossing midpoint of the passage across the Atlantic.  The slave hauling ship, Booth, Captained by Peter Pagan, had made the initial stop at Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Canary Islands to replenish food stocks, water, and rum.

The Booth reached incredible speed as she rode the southerly trade winds past Africa.  Soon enough, the sun stared directly into the face of Captain and crew, making it apparent that they were traveling in a more westerly direction.   They had left Africa and were crossing the Atlantic, searching for Dominica in the West Indies.  When the islands were spotted it would have been six weeks without the site of land.

It was a defining moment when the young, English lad finally realized how totally alone he was as he drifted in the middle of the ocean.  With an obligation to give four years of indenture, Bartholomew Stovall was left to question his compulsion.

But there was no time to dwell on such matters.  As told in our novel, Bartholomew Stovall, the English Immigrant, the next big adventure would happen sooner rather than later.

Thank you, Bartholomew for embarking on the passage to America.

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Tales Of The Bible

Hello to family, friends and followers of Bartholomew Stovall.  It’s been three months since my last posting and for this, I do apologize.  I find myself in a place where life’s realities and my six-year-old grandson dictate my time.  Most anything I do that involves our ground zero grandfather is surely a blessing during this period of my life.  I would like to say thanks to all of you who have encouraged me with kind words,  contacted me for information, responded to posts, or purchased our book.

But for the present, I’m sharing this post to provide insight on a certain story-line that stretched out over several chapters of our novel, Bartholomew Stovall –  The English Immigrant.  I will ask that you please bear with me while I try and unwind this true tale of how fiction is created.

The Tyndale Bible played a large part in the book of Bartholomew.    When his Great Grandfather, George Stovold, received his copy in 1585, he understood that it was a holy book.  For the remainder of his life, George wrote of personal experiences to reveal the truth in the scriptures.  Sometimes he would underline a verse or jot down his thoughts and understandings in the worn margins of the book. By the time the Tyndale was placed into the hands of ten-year-old Bartholomew, it was filled with wisdom from three generations passed.

It is also written that, when Bartholomew reached the age of eighteen years, he made the decision to immigrate to Colonial America as an indentured servant.  He was prohibited from carrying the Bible with him, so he asked his friend from birth, Sara Gentry, to watch over the book until he could give her an address to forward it.

Sarah Gentry kept the book safe for twenty years, but on Christmas Eve, 1704 she received a letter from her old friend requesting that she send the book addressed to: Bartholomew Stovall, Kennon Plantation, Virginia Colonies.  As fate would have it, Captain Peter Pagan of The Booth, was flagged down on the street in London, England by a courier who offered him a sum to deliver the package from Sarah, to Jamestown, Virginia.  When Pagan saw that it was addressed to Bartholomew Stovall, he consented to the transport.

Now, fast forward to the year, 1705.  Elizabeth Kennon, John Worsham, and Peter Pagan are riding in a carriage from the Kennon Plantation bound for the home of Bartholomew and Ann Stovall.  With them they carry a proposition that would award Bartholomew 320 acres on the James River in return for his farm in the wilderness.  Although Bartholomew would not be able to refuse the generous offer, it was not the only prize that he would be given during their brief stay.  Mrs. Kennon had intercepted the package from Peter Pagan and planned to return the coveted treasure from Bartholomew’s youth, the Tyndale Bible.

During the day long excursion to the “farm in the wilderness”, Elizabeth devoured the notes written in the Bible’s margin.  She moved through each page but was particularly drawn to one underlined verse.  Inserted in the pages, written in clear penmanship was the entire text of the book of Ecclesiastes.  Chapter one, verse three was underlined and read:

 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. 

When I was writing our novel, I thought this passage was the essence of Bartholomew’s story, but I was soon to realize that I had written an error.

During the initial writings of Bartholomew, I was sitting at my desk thumbing through KJV version, searching for a relevant verse for Elizabeth Kennon to find that would make her take notice.  The task was taking too long and I became frustrated.  I closed the cover of the Bible and thought.  I remembered someone saying, if you have a question, just say a prayer, open to any page in the Bible, and put your finger on a verse.  There will be the answer to your prayer.   I stared down at the Bible and then reached for the lower pages.  I flipped through until I stopped and then opened the book.  Very slowly and deliberately I put my finger down to a verse and saw Ecclesiastes 1-3.  When I read the text, I was… stunned.  What were the odds of me finding this most relevant phrase?  I knew that there was no need to look further and vividly remember transferring each word to my manuscript thinking how lucky, or blessed, to have found this scripture.

Several days later I was editing some of my work until I came to the words about Ecclesiastes.   But the thought occurred to me that the Tyndale Bible don’t contain all the books in the KJV.  It was a worrisome thought until it was confirmed.  William Tyndale ran out of time before he could publish the book of Ecclesiastes.  You see, while he was busy converting the scrolls to English, the Holy Roman Catholic Church had him arrested for heresy, and executed.

The thought never occurred to me to remove the verse, so I set about the task of writing around my mistake. I envisioned that Bartholomew should have copied the chapter from an original KJV of the scriptures and insert the pages into his Tyndale.  Just like that, you have a Tyndale with a bonus of Ecclesiastes.

But it was only one of the several stories that needed to be written before Bartholomew was finished.  Primarily, I wanted to bring Mary Wilkie into the story line.  Mary was the beautiful lass, one year younger than Bartholomew’s 18 years, that traveled the passage aboard the Booth, from the Port of London.  She was shy and kept to herself, but soon enough she and Bartholomew came to be good friends.

What I’ve not told you is that, I intentionally left small traces of her all throughout the book.  I did this purposely because I planned for my next novel to be the story of Mary Wilkie.

The Booth

But I had yet to drill into the details of her life.  So, I crafted a tale of Bartholomew and Mary during the passage.  Sometimes they would sneak away from the other servants at sea and climb up to the base of the mainsail.  There, they would find a place in a bundle of rope and share stories.

Bartholomew would often question Mary about her past, but she never offered anything other than, “I had to leave.”  But on one occasion, Mary would tell him of happier times in London, when she worked for a printer or the times she helped her Mother with the weaving of the yarn.  But then her mood turned grievous when she spoke with disdain that, “It was all taken from me,” and that she was “forced” to leave.

During this same encounter, Bartholomew would tell her of his love for the Tyndale Bible that he had to leave behind.  When he tried to explain to her how he separated the page spine and inserted his hand-written copy of Ecclesiastes, he was surprised when Mary asked him details of how he had done it.  Evidently the young lady had a knowledge of binding and printing books, which led him to believe that there was more to Mary Wilkie than he first thought.

It took more than three pages to clarify one of my errors, but it also allowed me to ‘formerly’ introduce Mary Wilkie as a character.  Those three pages also allowed me to tell a story of Bartholomew’s youth.  Factually, nothing is written about Bartholomew Stovall from age ten to eighteen.  I found it easy to fill in a short but relevant tale of fiction, and I readily admit that it was one of the most enjoyable writing sessions I experienced.

While creating our novel, I remember spending days, or weeks researching applicable subjects.  I would assemble the facts and then translate them into an engaging story line.  It was a tedious but rewarding progression measured sentence by sentence.  But editing and crafting story lines, like this example, is much more rewarding for this author.

William Robert Stovall Sr.




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Revised Novel Is Now Available


Greetings to family, friends and followers of Bartholomew Stovall.  It is with great  pleasure . . . relief . . . and liberation that I bring you good word on our novel.  I should receive copies of the revised, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant on May 12, 2017.  On this day, I will begin the process of delivering autographed copies to the many who emailed bartholomewstovall@hotmail.com.  I’ll respond to each one of you no later than May 7, 2017 with ordering information.  Everyone interested should visit www.bartholomewstovall.com and click on “Order Autographed Hardback Copy” under the “Order Book” tab.

May 12 marks almost one year ago to the day that I made the initial revisions to the original version.  Bartholomew had received high marks from critics and the reviews were overwhelming, but I knew I could make a tighter novel should I identify more inclusive phrasing and correct obvious errors from this self-published book.

Our novel has been removed from circulation for nine months while modifications were made and proofing completed.  I would like to thank each one of you for your patience during this arduous process.   Thank you for all the encouraging emails, letters, and web page comments since our first release.  Thank you for your interest in our revised version and rest assured that we now have an, ever so better, recorded account of our American, ground zero, Grandfather.

Peace Be With You,

Bill Stovall

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A Time of Gathering. . . and Taking Care of Business

Oct9bookcoverGreetings to all friends, family, and followers of Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant.  It’s been weeks since the last entry and I apologize for my extended leave, but now, I do feel that I should provide an update of the goings on with my family and to share some news and information concerning the release of our novel.

This an incredibly fast-moving period in the lives of us all, but for my family, we are approaching a six-month anniversary of life here in Nashville, Tennessee.  This landmark span focuses on every aspect of life, but mostly centered on domestic transformation, and the completion and release of our novel, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant.  I am extremely thrilled to advise that there is good news to report concerning these facades of our journey.

We left our large home in Atlanta, Georgia in August, 2016, to relocate and start fresh in the epicenter of my wife’s immediate and extended families.  After Ti and I made the decision to relocate we had few options, so we chose to simplify matters and placed ourselves in a 232 sq ft studio located in the back of our nephew’s home.

Our Humble Abode

Our Humble Abode

We survived trial after trial, until realizing that “temporary residence” did have an unspoken, literal time frame.  Then, after five months. like a miracle, our nephew had the need to vacate his home for a larger dwelling, and offer for us to occupy “the house house up-front”.    It was perfect timing, as it made our “temporary status” much more tolerable.

The adjustment period for our new life plan is developing favorably for our family, to the point that I would conclude, regardless of our sacrifice, we made the correct decision to be near family.


Teacher Of The Year - Ti Stovall

Teacher Of The Year – Ti Stovall

Ti has returned to teaching, recently joining the MNPS District here in Nashville.  I shift my focus daily, to the duty that beckons my needs.

 .  .  .

Their is a boatload of tasks for husband and wife, but the singular effort that didn’t fall off my radar was to reintroduce Bartholomew.


Bartholomew Full Cover

.   .   .

Shortly before leaving Atlanta I decided to shut down our novel and try to make it a better book.  The last tasks I performed before I departed Georgia,  was notifying my publisher and close circulation of the published piece.  I had no copies left to mail and no one could request Bartholomew from retail outlets.

Little did I know that word was spreading about Bartholomew and his early, colonial exploits.  Within two months I had more solicitations than the previous year.  The momentum of our novel had peeked and I had a dead book.

Now, six months later, our novel is ready for print.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict that copies of Bartholomew should be available by April Fool’s, 2017.

Please visit www.bartholomewstovall.com/order-the-book and get your copy of our novel.  I’ll keep this link updated with order details, as they develop.

Thanks to all of you who have kept in touch with the exploits of my family.  Things are certainly looking up from this end.

Peace be with you.


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New Developments – Francis Emma – Nov 16, 2016



In an unprecedented development the Stovall nation and everyone who has an interest in the preservation of Francis Emma and the original farm of Bartholomew Stovall The Immigrant, has been asked to contribute money to purchase the twenty-two-hundred-acre historic site.

The newly formed group, Belmead on the James(BoJi), released a statement on November  1, 2016 introducing the public phase of the funding project.  The program named “100 X 4000” is requesting that four thousand volunteers contribute $100 each.

St Francis de Sales and St. Emma

St Francis de Sales and St. Emma

This would provide for the money to purchase the property and buildings.  If the campaign is successful,  Sisters Maureen, Elena, Jean, and Beulah will be asked to remain and care for the property. otherwise, they are scheduled to leave Belmead in January 2017.

Please note that if the goal of 100X4000 is not reached, BoJi will move to alternative plans that influence the preservation of the mission on or near the site.  Please understand that your contribution will not be in vain if our goal is not acheived.  Funding that is not used for operations/purchase would provide for future alternative plans;  However, 100X4000 will remain the number one option.

Please view http://www.belmeadonthejames.com/our-cause to read the complete press release.  This web site also gives instructions on how to donate.  In addition please read the prior post on this blog to help understand how this amazingly spiritual place came to be.

Having said all of this, I feel certain that if $100 is out of your means, BoJi will appreciate any sum you feel would be in your budget.  Please stay tuned for the results of this effort.

James River at Belmead

James River at Belmead

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Relocation, Rest and Updates from William Stovall

Hello friends and relatives of Bartholomew,

I have been very inattentive to our web page, but read on and the reason will become obvious.

My wife and I have relocated from Atlanta (Kennesaw), Georgia to Nashville (Madison) Tennessee.  God laid out a plan that made the decision easy.  We will miss our large wonderful home in Georgia, but being united with family in Tennessee makes it worthwhile.

We’ve rented our villa in Kennesaw for one year, and will reevaluate what we’re going to do once we grow up.  After some deep soul sharing, Ti and I decided to give four students at Kennesaw State University one less thing to worry about while they finished their senior year of college.  Student housing is scarce in our area.

Both my wife and I have wanted to move close to her family and to mine for a number of years, but job and other obligations have kept us in the Atlanta area.  Then, in the Spring of 2016, God started working his magic.  A quick turn of events had my son relocate to Nashville, shortly followed by his wife and our grandson.  With no reason to stay in Atlanta, we considered that the stars were lined up, so we pushed in our chips and started a new life.

Yes, God may lay out plans, but I’ve come to the conclusion that, as awesome as those plans may be, they don’t come for free.  We had to spend many $ to make our home appropriate for tenants. Regretfully, we decide to do most of the work ourselves.  By the time we were ready to MOVE, both of us were exhausted.  But we pushed on and finally had our belongings in a Nashville storage facility by mid-August.  We made a quick sprint back to Atlanta to put final touches on the house before the tenants invaded us, and then finally arrived back in Nashville on July 30, 2016.

Flooded Storage

Flooded Storage

Exhausted and in need of a bed I went straight to our storage facility to fetch a mattress and box spring.  Oh, just let me get these to my humble abode, I thought to myself, until I raised the door and realized that our worst case scenario had come to pass.  Most everything we owned was sitting in a flooded storage shelter, our mattress and all of our bedding included.

We closed the unit’s door, drove straight to Mattress Firm on Galatian Pike, and was laying on a made bed within two hours.  This was our new home.    Home of Bill and Ti Stovall with our cat, Karma.

There are many positive things that’s come from us being so close and available to our family members.  Regrettably our beloved cat, Karma, was not in Gods long term plan.  She had always been an indoor/outdoor cat.  One day early on we let her walk around outside and take a look.  She never looked back.   It’s been over a week and no one has seen hide nor hair or her.

Our Humble Abode

Our Humble Abode

My humble abode looks and feels nothing like our large home back in Georgia.  It’s one room with a private shower/commode combination that, thankfully, offers privacy.  It’s about 300 sq feet and filled with love and compromise.  The “room” sits in the back of my nephew’s house and is more than enough room for Ti and I to rest and contemplate our future.

For those who are interested, I plan on closing down our novel, Bartholomew Stovall – The English Immigrant, edit some of the content, and make it a better novel.  No one will be able to order the book online until I re-release it; probably in October.  I do have a small quantity of hardbacks/softback copies available that can be ordered from me directly.  I’ve changed my address on our web page www.bartholomewstovall.com, but I can be found at 913 Vantrease Rd, Madison, TN 37115.

Home is where your story beginsAnd finally, the new novel, Mary Wilkie, is developing very well.  The story line is complete and writing is 100 pages in.  For those who have read the novel, Bartholomew, remember that Mary sailed the passage with Bartholomew.  He is intertwined into the story and I’m very proud of this work.

Again, I do apologize to my friends on FB at Bartholomew Stovall, and www.bartholomewstovall.com.  Each day I find more time to dedicate to our work.

Peace be with you.

Bill Stovall





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FrancisEmma Closure – What We Know

FrancisEmma Updates



More details are surfacing about the liquidation of FrancisEmma, in Powhatan, County Virginia.  I’m not local to the Powhatan area, so I receive information in bits and pieces; each article shedding more light on the sale of this sacred property.

In a recent article published by the National Catholic Register I noticed that the Catholic Church is taking more of an attitude that Katherine Drexel’s project has been completed and that her gift of land and money should be used to rededicate its resources to “our mission: serving some of the most vulnerable people in the United States, Haiti and Jamaica.”
The people of authority over this Catholic project, want to take a slow approach to liquidation.  First they will take advantage of non-binding properties in order to capitalize on the value, as well as setting a precedence for closure. 

We do know that St. Katharine Drexel’s body will be moved to Philadelphia’s Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.  As stated in the article, the archdiocese will take control of many of the archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Bensalem, PA.

In this article from the National Catholic Register, there was little talk of the 2,200 acres in Powhatan, County and absolutely no talk of preserving the ecological and historical wonder that has been left for mankind.

Just as important is the lack respect their actions show for the development of property once owned by the immigrant Bartholomew Stovall.  Bartholomew was an early Colonial settler and has a documented lineage of well over one million offspring.

Follow the link provided for the full article.


.  .  .

But then, Laura McFarland News Editor, Richmond Times Dispatch:

James River at Belmead

James River at Belmead

On December 17, 2006, a conservation easement was placed on 1,000 acres of the land, according to FrancisEmma’s website. The Conservation Easement is a legal agreement between the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the co-holders of the easement—the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the James River Association.”

A new owner would also have to be mindful of the fact that Belmead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places”, she said. “It was added in 1969.

Please view the link below for the full article.


What Now?

The future of the 2,265 acres is uncertain, because FrancisEmma no longer exists.  I don’t expect the buildings at Belmead will survive.

Sister Sandra Schmidt, spoke on the behalf of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament saying that, that they intend to sell the historic 2,200 plus acre property in Powhatan County that “has gone through incarnations as a plantation, home to two schools for black children and, more recently, has been building a reputation for its conservation and preservation efforts.”

“These buildings were built for having a large group of sisters. As time goes on, we looked at all the space that is not used, underused or just totally vacant and that is a big player in our decision,” she said.

Added to that, they are old buildings that take a great deal of maintenance, she said. The order’s goal is to “have money go into people, not keeping up old buildings.”

As for myself, I’m saddened by the decision to sell the gift of Katherine Drexel.  I feel there is still a need to maintain a presence by these loyal nuns.  I also think that if the Catholic Church would throw some of their money at this project, they wouldn’t need to go searching for another cause.  The need is already there for those in need of help.

But just as depressing is the thought that all of that wilderness area could be lost to development.  This area looks much like it did when Bartholomew Stovall wandered the banks of the James River, deciding if this was the spot where he should dig his boots in and raise a family.  But with the strike of a pen, all of this natural beauty could be lost forever.


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