Mary Alice Barksdale and
Donna Jessie Fogelsong
Donna Jessie Fogelsong is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Elementary Education at Virginia Tech. Donna has spent most of her life in Virginia and taught previously in the elementary grades. She currently works with preservice teachers in literacy and social studies. She’s interested in teacher education, literacy education, listening literacy, global education, and social studies literacy.
The Ride of Molly Tynes: A Tale Passed Down
illustrated Emily Hurst Pritchett
When Molly Tynes learns of an impending attack on a neighboring town, she mounts her horse without hesitation, risking life and limb to warn and protect her community. Four mountains, rough trails, and wild animals stand between Molly and her journey’s end. Through this legendary tale of a courageous Civil War-era woman, the storytelling tradition of Southwest Virginia lives on.
International Women's Friendship Month
Both Mary Alice and Donna were captured by the story of Molly Tynes. Native Virginians, they’d often heard in school about the men who’d shaped history, both local and national, but learned nothing of the women who’d played a role. “[It] made us realize how underrepresented women were in our history books,” Donna said. The two set out to change that. In the course of their research, they took a field trip to retrace Molly Tynes’s journey. They visited her house and the cemetery where she was buried, and traveled to Tazewell, Burkes Garden, and Wytheville, talking with residents and gathering information. After, the pair took their collected data and worked to integrate it into their story. “There were lots of texts back and forth,” Donna recounts. The process of working on their book was made immensely easier by the fact that the two were are already good friends; Mary Alice and Donna “would often finish each other’s sentences or even share an idea that was similar to what the other person was thinking!”
Their story left a lasting impact on their relationship. Already close before they co-wrote Molly Tynes, the friends became even closer. “This became our shared story that we created together,” Donna said. “We truly have an even stronger friendship because we really created an avenue to share this story with so many new readers.” Mary Alice and Donna were so inspired by their shared writing experience that they set out to learn more about underrepresented women in history. They’re even planning to write a new book together!