The mural recognizes four Kewaneeans who achieved national recognition as authors.
George Randall Parrish published over 30 novels of historical fiction from 1904 until his death in 1923. Many of his stories were set in the West where he spent the first 20 years of his adult life after graduating in 1875 from Kewanee’s first high school called the Academy.
In 1904 he published his first book, “When Wilderness Was King,” while working as a reporter in Chicago. He then returned to Kewanee and wrote the rest of his novels while living in the home where he grew up.
Two other native Kewanee authors were the Glidden brothers, Fred and John. Fred, the younger of the two, wrote over 50 Western novels under the pen-name of Luke Short from the mid-1930s until his death in 1976. Several of his books were turned into movies in the 1940s, including “Ramrod” and “Blood on the Moon.”
Brother John started on a different career until Fred persuaded him to try writing. Under the pen-name Peter Dawson, John published his first of 16 Western novels in 1937. He also wrote over 120 short novels or stories for Western magazines before his writing career was cut short with his death at the age of 50.
Leroy Cyrus Baldridge achieved recognition speaking in pictures rather than words. After graduating from Kewanee High School in 1907 he had a long career as an illustrator. During World War I he was the illustrator for the U.S. Army newspaper, “Stars and Stripes.” His war pictures were published in a book after the war. It was the first of many books showing his illustrations of peoples and events in all parts of the world.
The Kewanee Public Library and the Kewanee Historical Society have copies of the works of all four authors.