Local author to publish novel about the “Crow Hop” across the Chattahoochee River

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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VALLEY — Lanny Bledsoe has written his tenth novel since the 2020 Covid shutdown. It’s named “Crow Hop” and copies of it will be available in the near future.

The name Crow Hop is familiar to people on both sides of the Chattahoochee. People in the Valley area and on the Harris County side have known the stretch of river between Langdale Dam and Riverview by that name for a long time.

It’s thought that the name refers to a group of islands in the river between Langdale and Riverview. It’s been said that they were so close together that a crow didn’t have to fly from one to the next. All it had to do was to hop over.

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Bledsoe said that he’s always called an area just below the Turkey Island Dam by the name Crow Hop. “We used to sein there a lot,” he said. “We’d drag a net through the water. It was a good way to catch catfish. I’ve heard some people call it Blow Hop, too.”

In the book, Crow Hop is a mill town on the Alabama side of the river. The protagonist is a 16-year-old boy named Roy Hinds. He finds himself in a fix when his dad kills a moonshiner named  Samuel North who lives on the Georgia side. Roy is abandoned and left to fend for himself on an island in the river. Penniless and uneducated, his future looks bleak. He can either sell catfish to beer joints along the river or haul moonshine for the men who make it. A girlfriend takes him under her wing, but there’s some risk in whether or not he can trust her.

The dad reenters the picture and hard feelings on both sides of the Chattahoochee spill over into the town of Crow Hop, greatly complicating things.

All this makes Roy grow up fast. He has a reputation on both sides of the river. He finds out he has relatives he never knew about and has to take sides in this brewing conflict.

Lee Maples will soon have copies of Crow Hop for sale at the Fairfax Village Market (formerly Taunton’s). Bledsoe will be there to meet people and talk about the book on Saturday, April 20.

“I have really enjoyed writing these stories,” Bledsoe said. “I started doing it during the Covid shutdown just to have something to do. I thought I had come up with an interesting story with my first book, but I didn’t know how to get it published. I talked to a lot of people about it, and they told me the normal process would take about three years. If you went that way you could have the book for sale in the major book stores. I was in my eighties at the time, and I didn’t know if I had three years left.”

He got it done a much faster way through Amazon. An editor named Edmund Pickett was very helpful.

“He’s a really interesting guy,” Bledsoe said of Pickett. “He’s been very helpful in encouraging me to write and offering all kinds of good advice. He wants me to write a follow-up book to my first novel entitled Shoal Creek.”

That book was about a boy named Rep Doe who escaped an abusive father to find a new life in the Chattahoochee River Valley in the Depression days of the 1930s. He grew up fast and fell in love with a girl named Lila.

“My editor wants me to write a new book about Lila’s side of the story,” Bledsoe said. “I have never met Mr. Pickett…We exchange emails a lot, and I have talked to him many times on the phone.”

The Shoal Creek novel spawned several more books and remains the best seller and Bledsoe’s most-reviewed work. “It has gotten hundreds of reviews, most of them very positive,” Bledsoe said. “I was recently contacted by a man from England who had read the book and liked it.”

“I’m 87,” Bledsoe said. “I have had a good life and have been fortunate to have heard many stories over the years about people on both sides of the river. I had always heard about the three men from Riverview who were murdered on the Georgia side and their bodies were found in the river.”

The three men were killed in 1915 and it was a sensational story in its day. It has been written about in newspapers such as The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and The Atlanta Constitution.

No one was ever brought to justice in that case. Two Melton brothers and their friend John Leak were murdered on the Georgia side.

One of the Meltons had been acquitted in Georgia on a charge of killing a Harris County man. It was such a sensational case that a change of venue moved the trial from Harris County to Atlanta, where a jury found Melton not guilty because of self-defense.

It has been widely thought over the years that the Meltons and John Leak were victims of a revenge killing. Moonshine and conflicts over women have been rumored to have been involved as well.