Leo Chilson

Pictured is Leo Chilson, author of the Road to Destiny series of historical novels.

Former Pike County resident Thomas E. Williams has self-published six novels in his Road to Destiny series, and is currently working on book seven.

Williams’ mother was the daughter of Clabe and Alabam Shepherd of Dry Run and Waverly. Williams changed his name in 2001 to Leonard Thomas Stonewall Jackson (Theodore Roosevelt) Caleb Chilson.

“I wanted to honor those who meant a lot to me,” Chilson said in explaining the name change. “Leo Chilson was may grandfather’s (name) and my dad’s real name. Pop changed his and that’s interesting in itself. Thomas is what Pop changed his name to, and Thomas Stonewall Jackson is my hero. Caleb is for my mom’s dad. My only regret is that I chickened out at the last minute and left off Theodore Roosevelt, my favorite president. But the mood to change may hit me again.”

Chilson wrote his first novel in 1990 after reading a Civil War novel by one of his favorite authors. “I found it boring, and I told myself I could write a better one,” said Chilson. “It took several years to research and write. I did not publish it until 2016.”

“My father was career Air Force, and we were constantly moving, nine schools in 12 years. I was born in 1950 in the Territory of Alaska and lived through some interesting history periods,” Chilson said. “Being in a military family and living on military installations, history was my obvious choice of writing genres.”

Chilson’s family moved from Pike County in 1961 and relocated in Panama City, Florida.

“We were staying with my grandparents on Rainbow Trail when I attended Parker Elementary School for 5th grade, and Idaho Elementary for for 6th grade. I started 1st grade in Morgantown. We were in and out of Ohio depending on if we could go to my father’s next posting.

Chilson graduated high school in 1968, received a B.S. in Hotel Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 1993, and received a Bachelor of Art in History from Arkansas Tech University on May 11, 2019, “51 years after getting out of high school and 26 years after receiving a B.S. in Hotel Administration,” he said.

Chilson said his books are important because “they tell a story weaved into real American history.”

The last four books in Chilson’s series were written while he attended Arkansas Tech University from 2017-2019.

Seven books are being donated to the Garnet A. Wilson Public Library in Waverly by Chilson’s uncle, John Daniels, of Waverly: a regular print copy of all five, as well as a large print copy of books two and three.

“Blood on the Battlefield” is a Civil War historical novel about four friends who join the Confederate Army during the Civil War and serve under Stonewall Jackson. The novel is about the daily army life of the friends and the lives of the families they left behind.

“Blood on the Plains” is a historical novel about the war with the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians between 1862 and 1873. “The reader learns that all was not as history describes,” Chilson said.

“Blood in the Hills” takes place from 1874 through the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Except for a Cheyenne family, the Native Americans portrayed in the book actually participated in the battle, Chilson said.

“Blood on their Hands” is a mystery, thriller, murder and romance novel, featuring a young Theodore Roosevelt.

“Blood on an Island,” written in first person, is a WWII historical romance revolving around the battle for Tarawa, as well as the the love between the main character and his girlfriend while he was in high school.

“Blood in the Forest” will be about the American Revolution and the Pontiac Rebellion in 1763.

“Blood on a Star” takes place between 1889 and 1893 and evolves around the Johnson County War between farmers and ranchers in Wyoming.

“All the stories involve four main families with several others introduced in the various books,” Chilson said.

Chilson is a member of the Historical Writer’s Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Phi Alpha Theta Historical Fraternity at Arkansas Tech.

Chilson lives “in the small town of Pyatt, Arkansas (population 252), actually on the top of a hill in cattle country, 11 miles west of Yellville and 20 miles east of Harrison.”

Chilson’s books are available on amazon.com in regular print, large print and on Kindle, as well as e-reader “free for those who prefer to read on an iPad or computer.” Autographed copies of the book can be obtained by emailing Chilson at jitterbug1899@gmx.com .

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