One of noted Wheeling artist Anne Hazlett Foreman's fields of expertise - frontier art - has provided the opportunity to illustrate a new version of a classic book depicting a pivotal moment in Wheeling's early history.
Author and educator Dr. Rosanne Vrugtman selected Foreman to produce all of the illustrations for a newly-issued youth edition of Zane Grey's historical novel, "Betty Zane," based on the heroic actions of his famous ancestor during the Revolutionary War's last battle at Fort Henry in 1782. The softcover volume was published in November by Vrugtman's firm, Transitions Unlimited of Bonita Springs, Fla.
Foreman's full-color paintings grace the front and back covers of the new book. Her beautiful and dramatic depiction of Betty Zane making the legendary run for gunpowder dominates the book's front cover. A smaller illustration, showing a woman of the era in more formal attire, is shown on the back cover.
Anne Hazlett Foreman shows her painting of a Revolutionary War drummer boy that was the basis of a national award-winning poster.
The Wheeling artist also created five black-and-white drawings to illustrate the text. Spaced throughout the novel are the artist's depictions of a servant named Sam; settler Dan Watkins and his family; Cornplanter, the Seneca chief; a gun-toting woman defending the fort during the battle and a view of Zane's powder run from a different perspective.
In addition to the book project, Foreman received a request this past week from Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials who are interested in using one of her illustrations in a new display on the Cave in Rock gang headed by Sam Mason.
Discussing these projects, Foreman commented, "I am so excited that my drawings have helped a little in the interpretation of this area's 18th-century history."
The Wheeling resident said she was contacted last summer by Vrugtman who was interested in using some of Foreman's illustrations in her book and the Zane painting on the cover. "Needless to say, I was delighted," the artist said, adding, "She (Vrugtman) is passionate about making Zane Grey's works available in a youth-friendly form. She is working on the other two volumes in the trilogy."
Vrugtman said she found Foreman's work online while searching for illustrations and cover art for the book.
"When I found Anne's website, I was completely blown away, to understate the case," the author said. "I immediately picked up the phone, introduced myself and explained what I was doing with the BZYE project. To my utter amazement and delight, she immediately agreed."
The author said she and Foreman also have discussed illustrations and covers for the next two books. "When I've finished all three, I'm also planning a special slipcase for the 'collection' and I'd love nothing more than to continue to work with Anne for the entire trilogy project," Vrugtman said.
Vrugtman also likes the fact that Foreman's studio is located in Wheeling, the city that had its beginnings as Fort Henry, the setting for Grey's historical volume. Vrugtman said she plans to attend Fort Henry Days at Oglebay Park later this year.
Foreman, who serves as the official artist for the annual Fort Henry Days observance in Wheeling, has attained considerable recognition, both locally and nationally, for her artistic depictions of frontier life and patriotic subject matter. In 2008, her entry in the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Week poster contest was a first-place national winner. The DAR member's winning entry showed a Revolutionary War drummer boy.
Locally, Foreman's frontier art is featured in the Betty Zane Room of Oglebay's Wilson Lodge. Her work depicting scenes of early Wheeling also can be seen in the Ohio County Public Library's auditorium and at Artworks Around Town, where she is a member artist, in Wheeling's historic Centre Market. A board member emeritus of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation, Foreman has created artwork related to the state's birthplace and to other historic structures in the city.
"I have met many historians in my brief association with the wonderfully rich history of this area and they all share an overwhelming passion for the events that took place in our own Ohio Valley," Foreman remarked.
Vrugtman, who serves as vice president of Zane Grey's West Society, a nonprofit entity dedicated to education and outreach, said she has been working on a youth edition of Grey's first book for the past two and one-half years. "Betty Zane," published in 1903, was the first volume in Grey's Frontier Trilogy, also known as the Ohio River Trilogy.
She explained that she decided to tackle the project in June 2011 during the society's convention in Williamsburg, Va. Representatives of the National Road and Zane Grey Museum in Zanesville "had done a presentation and mentioned how much they'd love to have a youth version of 'Betty Zane,'" she recalled. "I began work on the book after returning home, and published the final version of the book in November 2013." In the middle of the project, she and her husband, Rudi, moved from St. Louis to southwest Florida.
Vrugtman said she took up the book challenge for three reasons. "I wanted to pass on my own love of the Frontier Trilogy books," she said. "I hoped to inspire a whole new audience of young readers to read Zane Grey."
As another reason, she commented, "Grey wrote a number of young reader 'books for boys,' including 'The Young Forester,' 'The Young Lion Hunter,' 'The Young Pitcher' and a number of others. Unfortunately, he did not write any 'books for girls.' As the true (if fabulized) story of a courageous young woman's adventures on the early frontier, 'Betty Zane' seemed especially inspirational for young female readers."
At age 12, Vrugtman was introduced to Grey's work by her mother. Vrugtman, who holds a doctorate in adult education, also is the owner and training consultant of Transitions Unlimited, where she provides customized personal and professional development programs, leadership and team-building training, and writing and editing services.
Looking ahead, she said, "I have already begun work on a young readers' edition of the next book. And, yes, I absolutely plan to complete work on the entire trilogy before June 2016." She added that she is working on getting Zane Grey's West Society to hold its annual convention in Wheeling that year.
Copyright is not an issue in the trilogy project. "In fact, I did not need anyone's permission for the Youth Edition because the book was first published in 1903 and has long since moved into the public domain," she said. "To be sure, I checked with the U.S. Copyright Office, which confirmed the status of the book. The other two volumes in the trilogy - 'The Spirit of the Border' and 'The Last Trail' - were published in 1906 and 1909, respectively; so they are also in the public domain."
Vrugtman knows members of Grey's family because of their mutual association with Zane Grey's West Society. "I don't know if they are aware that the Youth Edition has been published, but I believe they would be happy to know we are continuing to keep Zane Grey's memory and work alive through our many projects, including publishing," she said.
In 2012, Zane Grey's West Society published the Centennial Edition of Grey's most famous work, "Riders of the Purple Sage," and Vrugtman served as editor on that project.
Grey (1872-1939), born in Zanesville, was a great-grandson of Col. Ebenezer Zane, founder of Fort Henry, and a great-great-nephew of Betty Zane. After making his first trip to the West in 1907, Grey wrote about 80 books, mostly western romances, over the next 30 years.
In editing Grey's original novel for a new youth version, Vrugtman said, "My goal was to make the book more readable without pre-empting Grey's voice or diluting his story. To improve readability, I worked on the diction - vocabulary, word choice, phrasing, usage, expressions, idioms, etc. - substituting shorter, more common words for longer or more archaic ones ... I divided or shortened longer sentences and paragraphs, and simplified phrasing whenever possible."
Citing other changes, Vrugtman said, "To make the book more appropriate for young readers, I eliminated or softened some of the more violent action. This sentence describing the attack at Fort Henry seemed unduly gory ... Also, some expressions not viewed as objectionable in 1903 are truly offensive today."
On a lighter note, one minor revision was made for historical accuracy. "Another change happened because my very alert proofreaders, friends Bill and Donna Kreutz, questioned the reference to 'groundhog day' in Chapter 7," she said. "Jonathan (Zane) is considering a trip to Fort Pitt but Colonel Zane advises: 'I could have given you a dozen signs of a hard winter. We shall still have a month or six weeks of it. In a week will be groundhog day and you had better wait and decide after that.' Groundhog Day didn't originate until 1841. Born in 1872, Grey would have known about the observance, but Ebenezer Zane, in 1782, would not! So I removed the reference."
Reflecting on the project, Vrugtman commented, "My goal was to edit the work so carefully that only truly observant readers could tell which parts of the original text were amended or omitted. I like to think that if Zane Grey himself were around to read this version of his first book, he would approve of its gentle treatment here."
She observed, "To retain authenticity and avoid over-simplification, the book is probably at the median range of the 4th-12th grade reading target. Still, I believe most 4th-6th graders - and adults - will find the edited book both readable and enjoyable."