With this column I want to tell Murray State students, faculty and staff about an opportunity to meet and hear a local writer and friend of the University. As the former chair of Murray State’s Board of Regents, former Calloway County attorney, and former district judge, Sid Easley has always been a leader and great friend of Murray State and of the University’s department of history.
Monday, from 5-7 p.m., our department of history will host a book signing for Judge Easley at the University Faculty Club at 309 N. 14th St. Copies for $25 of “A Courthouse Tragedy: Politics, Murder, and Redemption in a Small Kentucky Town” will be on sale for Judge Easley to sign. Judge Easley insists that all proceeds from the book signing be donated to the department of history.
Judge Easley will say a few words about how he came to write the book and about the fascinating story of the book. Refreshments will be served. It will be a great event to celebrate writing, history and especially the history of our area here in the Jackson Purchase.
“A Courthouse Tragedy” takes readers on a journey into “the heart of the rapidly changing American landscape of the early 1920s.” It is a story about western Kentucky, but it also a story about America. The story centers on the killing of Graves County Sheriff John T. Roach by his own deputy, Sam Galloway. In the aftermath, the slain sheriff’s widow, Lois Roach, was appointed the first woman sheriff in Kentucky. She was later elected in her own right.
This is a Kentucky tragedy, to be sure, but it is also a story of redemption and hope. The great Kentucky novelist and Mayfield native Bobbie Ann Mason called Mr. Easley’s book, “a great read! Sid Easley’s narrative is fascinating and dramatic, with plenty of intrigue and suspense and tragedy,” she wrote. According to Mason, “he not only brings some interesting characters to life, he also interprets convincingly the character of the place, Graves County, as it was in the 1920s. Many readers will both recognize it and see it for the first time.”
Bill Cunningham, a member of the Kentucky Supreme Court and a prolific writer himself, described “A Courthouse Tragedy” as “an incredible story, told so well by an author who has a unique feel for the place, the passion and the time.” If you know Sid Easley, you are aware that he knows the law, but he also knows how to “do” history and how to write history.
The violent and tragic, yet redemptive, story of Sam Galloway, John T. Roach, Lois Roach and all the rest, does for the Jackson Purchase in western Kentucky what so many other published accounts have done for eastern Kentucky. The difference is that Judge Easley’s story ends in hope, not despair.
Judge Easley is donating all proceeds from the book signing to the department of history. Please come out and support Sid Easley, a great friend of the University and a great friend of history. We are looking forward to a wonderful event. All are welcome. Students, please come.
Column by Duane Bolin, Professor of history