Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Mohawk Valley

*Mohawk Valley. Region of what is now New York State surrounding the Mohawk River, which flows west from a point north of Albany to near Lake Oneida. Most of the action takes place here, but characters refer, usually disparagingly, to the machinations of politicians in Albany and Philadelphia, as well as other sites connected with the Revolutionary War, such as Fort Ticonderoga in New York and Connecticut’s Newgate Prison, a former copper mine used as a penal colony to hold Tories and Loyalists.

*Deerfield Settlement

*Deerfield Settlement. Tiny community at the western end of the Mohawk Valley, near Utica, to which the young pioneer Gilbert (Gil) Martin takes his bride, Magdelana (Lana), after their marriage in 1776 at Fox’s Mills, where her family lives. Their first cabin, along with the rest of the houses and fields in the settlement, is burned to the ground by raiding Seneca Indians. The novel ends in 1784 when the Martins return to Deerfield, construct a new and larger cabin on the site of the old one, and re-clear and plant their land in wheat and corn.

*German Flats

*German Flats. Village east of Deerfield and south of the Mohawk River where Gil and Lana spend the winter of 1776 in a one-room house within sight of Fort Herkimer after fleeing Deerfield. During the spring they take refuge in Mrs. McKlennar’s well-kept farm, which is one of the few fictional places in the novel. There, Gil works as...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Clarke, Edward J. “Book Review: Two Historical Novels.” North American Review 242, no. 2 (Winter, 1937): 433-438. Praises Edmonds’ novel as significant American nationalist literature. Notes universal struggle for land and freedom set against natural disaster and political conflict.

Gay, Robert M. “The Historical Novel: Walter D. Edmonds.” The Atlantic Monthly 165, no. 5 (May, 1940): 656-658. Analyzes the structure of the historical novel. Claims Edmonds avoided the common pitfalls of this genre by concentrating on simple characters and powerful narrative, achieving unity and purpose within a complex string of events.

Kohler, Dayton. “Walter D. Edmonds: Regional Historian.” English Journal 27, no. 1 (January, 1938): 1-11. Comparative analysis of Edmonds’ short stories and novels to 1938. Explains the new regionalism movement Edmonds inspired as an exploration of the New York State canal region in colonial times, not as a world separate from the contemporary reader, but as a collection of similar struggles and hopes separated from the present only by time.

Nevins, Allan. “War in the Mohawk Valley.” Saturday Review of Literature 14, no. 14 (August 1, 1936): 5. Praises the author’s ability to represent a realistic view of a region in conflict with Tories and Indians, but laments the novel’s absence of any rich characterizations.

Wyld, Lionel D. Walter D. Edmonds, Storyteller. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1982. Discusses Edmonds’ creation of a new genre, the canal novel, and its impact on subsequent works by others using New York State themes and settings.