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Newtown Author Presents Her ‘Love Of Mohawk Valley’



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Dr Patricia Barkman will celebrate the release of her fourth book, Love of Mohawk Valley: An Immigrant’s Journey 1760-1776, with a reading at C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street, on Wednesday, June 26.

Barkman describes herself as being “born a teacher,” and told The Newtown Bee she wanted to connect with her family history in a meaningful, impactful way with the new release. Her book details the voyage of Aggie Mackenzie, a Scottish immigrant, and her move to Mohawk Valley. Aggie studies under Molly Brant and learns about healing from the famous Native American leader who was also a British loyalist.

“The people of the Mohawk Valley taught pioneering ways to those who were in the Cornwall area of Ontario, where my grandmother was born and raised,” Barkman explained. The research unfolded in Mohawk Valley and “the teacher in me came to this area knowing nothing, I knew nothing of the history,” she added.

When Barkman set out to learn more about the area, she went north to Johnstown, N.Y., to visit Johnson Hall, Fort Johnson in Amsterdam, N.Y., and Fort Montgomery in Fort Montgomery, N.Y. She started writing the book around 2021, so pandemic regulations were still in effect.

“All three of the museums I was the only person there, and each time the curator spent hours [with me],” she shared.

Her research also took her to New York State Public Library in Albany. There, she was able to read and hold letters from Sir William Johnson, Molly Brant’s husband.

Back home in Newtown, her research fell into place as she strung up facts and plot points over her desk. A visual individual, Barkman rejected the outline, the writing structure that was widely taught in schools at the time, and opted for the “clothesline method.” The clothesline method is a physical, visual approach to mapping out stories and research where an author strings a clothesline in their writing space and literally pins the ideas to the line in the order in which they will appear in the book.

In conjunction with her physical story boarding, Barkman is an avid painter. She painted the cover of the book, and populated the pages with hand drawn images mimicking those of a 16-year-old girl to fit into the story.

In the back of the book is a collection of questions for teachers to help use the book as a tool in classrooms. Barkman has had a career as a teacher across the world, so finding a way to continue to teach was integral to her.

The learning on the teacher’s behalf still hasn’t ended. When asked about her favorite part of the book, she answered candidly, “To tell you the truth, it’s the sequel.”

Barkman has already been working on the book for about a year. The sequel details the next 16 years of Aggie’s life with the historical context of the American Revolution.

Through this journey of drafting her book, Barkman explained, her favorite part was getting feedback from others. It was a collaborative effort between Barkman, the many museum curators, her late friend Dr Tom Draper, and her nephew, Scott Craven.

Patricia Barkman’s Author Showcase at C.H. Booth Library is scheduled for 6:15-7:30 pm Wednesday, June 26. Copies of Love Of Mohawk Valley will be available for purchase following Barkman’s reading. Light refreshments will be served. Reservations are requested; call 203-426-4533 or visit chboothlibrary.org.


Reporter Sam Cross can be reached at sam@thebee.com.

Patricia Barkman stands within the garden of her lakeside home. The Newtown resident wanted to connect with her family history in the creation of her newest book, a young adult read released in February. —Bee Photo, Cross
The cover of Love of Mohawk Valley painted by Patricia Barkman. The longtime Newtown resident will celebrate the release of her fourth book with an author program at Booth Library this month. —photo courtesy Patricia Barkman
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