THE FINAL TEST
Theresa Marie Flaherty
Dr. James Mason, Pataskala, Ohio
Being from Southeastern Ohio I have always had a love for the history of the area. I, like my father, have always had an interest in James Ball Naylor, and it was with great anticipation that I read the biography about him titled The Final Test. The author, Theresa Marie Flaherty, has captured the essence of Dr. Naylor. The book takes the reader into the heart of Dr. Naylor and shows his deep love for his family, his hometown, his state and his country. Theresa has done this in a way that will hold the reader’s attention from the start of the book to the end. The book is factual yet is written in a style that shows the talent Dr. Naylor had of sharing his life through poetry, story and verse. I highly recommend this book because it will give the reader the chance to get to know a very extraordinary man – Dr. James Ball Naylor.
Dr. Richard Walker, Springfield, IL
author of Stockport, Ohio: A Compendium of Historical Information
I just finished your Final Test. Wonderful! What scholarship. What a labor of love. It embarrasses me to say, I HAD NO IDEA regarding Naylor as a person, or even as a person of note. You have educated me beyond all expectation, an experience I particularly value and enjoy. I had read two of his books only because I was interested in local Indian history and local Stockport history. I knew nothing of him or his other prodigious works. Thank you for your wonderful tribute to the man. To me as an erstwhile college professor, I liked your rather objective, yet touching style. It read like a Ph.D. dissertation in Language Arts or Ethnology and, in my view, is certainly deserving of one. In my view, he passed the final test.
Dr. Richard Walker, Springfield, IL
Letter to the Editor
Writer (Dr. Walker) praises Naylor author for her work
To the Editor:
In my view the best poem James Ball Naylor wrote is titled The Final Test. Naylor concludes his long poem with the assertion that the final test of one’s life is “Not what professed nor what believed—But what good thing has thou achieved!”
Comes now a remarkable lady, Ms. Theresa Marie Flaherty of Corpus Christi, TX, who has achieved an extraordinarily good thing for the citizens of Morgan County in general and of Windsor Township in particular. After decades of meticulous research, this year Flaherty published a trilogy in tribute to Naylor and his works, bringing to life the character of the man and a revival of his seminal work. The three separate books, now in print, Vintage Verse contains poems by Naylor, most never before published. In his poems, Naylor, a country doctor headquartered in Malta, brings his down-to-earth touch to observations on life, nature, politics, and humor in the Muskingum Valley. Naylor’s daughter Lucile copied them from family scrapbooks and now makes them available to us via Flaherty.
Flaherty’s second volume, taking its name from Naylor’s poem, The Final Test, is a 200-page biography of Naylor. Because I cannot do this labor-of-love the justice either Flaherty or her subject deserves in this small space, I simply share this reaction with your readers. When I laid the volume down, two thoughts raced through my mind. First, no question about it, Naylor, the man, born near Pennsville and educated at Stockport, passed the final test—good things hast thou achieved. Second, the professional quality of the work itself is first-rate. Given Flaherty’s comprehensive research, balanced presentation, and remarkable dedication, at twice the price I would consider it a gift.
The third work is an attractive reprint of Naylor’s most popular novel, Ralph Marlowe, set in Stockport in the 1890s and written in local dialect. Flaherty not only reproduces the saga verbatim in large, readable print, as an aid to the reader she explains obscure words, including old medical terms, in footnotes, includes 20 old-time photographs and sketches; appends a bibliography of Naylor’s written works (which runs to five pages!); and includes 16 book reviews of Ralph Marlowe which appeared in 1901, its year of publication, ranging from Birmingham, Alabama, to Birmingham, England—20 pages of reviews in all. Flaherty brings the youth, shopkeepers, curmudgeons, eccentrics, and hell-raisers at late-19th century Stockport and environs to literary life once again.
But perhaps most remarkable of all, especially to those interested in the history of the town and its people, Flaherty presents the real-life identities of the major characters (and I do mean characters). We know that Ralph Marlowe was Naylor himself and that the irascible Dr. Barwood was actually Dr. W. Emmet Gatewood. But who was the drummer from Zanesville Leonidas W. Crider? Sweety Jimson? The bridge-tender? Drunken cobbler Jim Crawford? Colorful yarnspinner Jep Tucker? Hen Olcott? The McDevitts, Gridleys, Bentlys, and the Haggarts? One hopes that pertinent statutes of limitations apply!
Likewise, Flaherty identifies thinly disguised places such as Flat Bottom, Foxtown, Quakerville, Stonebury, Onionville, Norton Ridge, Hawksburgh, Black’s Mill on Bear Run, etc. (In some instances, Naylor used actual names such as Bald Eagle Creek, Turkey Run, Ellis school, Heathen Ridge, Silverheels Riffle, and Zanesville.)
I believe that Dr. James Ball Naylor, were he here to witness it, would not only be pleased with this trilogy in tribute to his life, character, and works, but be impressed by its scope and quality. In my view, Flaherty honored her subject on his own terms, his final test: it is a wonderfully good thing she has achieved. More than his editor and champion, she is part of his legacy.
Sara Hurst, McConnelsville, Ohio
McConnelsville County Herald
Dr. James Ball Naylor is a name I had heard since I was a little girl. He was a friend of my grandfather, Joseph Finley Elliott. My grandfather was born in 1859, so he and the good doctor were near the same age. My grandfather was also an intellectual, so his friendship with Dr. Naylor was not a surprise. They had a lot in common. I had read some of Dr. Naylor’s poetry, and I have several of his novels in my home library. I had toured his beautiful home in Malta, which is now owned by Greg and Ellen Hill. Greg and my oldest son, Matt, have been friends since childhood. I knew of Dr. Naylor, but I didn’t “know” Dr. Naylor – that is until I opened the cover to the pages of The Final Test, a Biography of James Ball Naylor , a novel written by Theresa Marie Flaherty – or Terry as she is known to me.
Dr. Naylor came alive for me, and I found myself engrossed in the book, not wanting to put it down until it was finished. Terry spent years researching Dr. Naylor, and she knew her subject well, even though he lived over 100 years ago. The Final Test, a Biography of James Ball Naylor is a wonderful addition to my home library – it is also an exciting read about one of Morgan County’s esteemed citizens. I am happy I became acquainted with him, as well as his biographer.
Mary Mason, Waterford, Ohio
Terry, I read your book as soon as I got home from the McConnelsville book signing on April 30th, 2011. You have so completely captured the flavor of James Ball Naylor’s work. Thank you for your labors. Your books reflect a labor of love. You are gifted and I am so pleased to have your work. I have been anticipating this work for over ten years. You see, I married William B. Mason (a personal friend of Naylor’s son Robert). Thank you again.
Sherrie Johnson, Corpus Christi, Texas
Today I finished your wonderful book and I am so very thrilled to let you know it’s one of the best books I’ve read! Each day while I read a chapter or so, I would find myself lost in his life’s goings-on and wondering what it must have been like to know such a dedicated patriot and family man and businessman. I wish I could say I’ve met someone like him, but I haven’t, at least not as of now! What a talented and dedicated person he was. Men of those days were full of grit — he was, also. Thank you for making my journey through the book one I will long remember — you truly brought his life to life for me!
Vicki L. Flaherty, Coralville, Iowa
Mom, I am so proud of what you’ve done on The Final Test – A Biography of James Ball Naylor. I know that Wesley would be delighted in the fine job you have done – that you have built on what he started and made it available to everyone! I know that Mike is as proud as I am to have contributed in some small way in producing the final product. It is not only a great read for the people of southeastern Ohio, it is a slice of early Western American history that everyone will enjoy — With much love and admiration, your daughter.
Terry Becker, Sacramento, California
This book is wonderful! As I read it, I felt as if I were sitting down to a banquet. The pages served wonderful surprises that were comparable to tasty dishes served at a banquet. The more I read the more I enjoyed each morsel of information that lead to the successes and accomplishments credited to this incredible man. You were so thorough with facts and information and then to incorporate them with his humanity ….. well, I felt I really “knew” him by the time I read the last page, which was all too soon for me. I congratulate you, my dear, dear, friend, for the outstanding work you brought to all of us who enjoy meeting such special and talented people through the written word. Thank you so much, for sharing your gift with the pen as your words brought life back into this wonderful, wonderful man. After reading some of his poetry, I found a poem that was “perfect”. It reminds me of you. The poem is titled: “The Old-Time Friend.” It is my favorite and truly says it all.
Bonnie Williamson, Sacramento, California
I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my author-signed book on James Ball Naylor. I must admit that I approached it with kind of a ho-hum attitude (knowing nothing about him other than short conversations with you on only one or two occasions.) Your writing style grabbed me right away.
Although I originally wondered why you repeatedly refer to “James Ball Naylor” in all references (as opposed to “good ol Jim” in places), I realized that when I put the book down, I actually couldn’t remember his whole name (duh!). Once the light bulb went on, I realized I was being “schooled” and now always remember his name (except in my sleep). The more I read, the more excited I got to read more. It was not only informative, but quite entertaining I thought. You did a wonderful job on the Introduction and for giving full credit to all of those involved in the process, including your family. I had no idea of their involvement (although I should have guessed).