Thursday, April 28, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Sons of a Trackless Forest

I am the very fortunate owner of a fairly rare hardback book "Sons of a Trackless Forest - The Cumberland Long Hunters of the Eighteenth Century" by Mark A. Baker. To quote Mohican Press: "'Sons of a Trackless Forest' is a 6 1/4" x 9 1/4", 992 page, 8 chapter work that includes a foreword by artist David Wright (who also created the cover illustration), a preface, an introduction, 10 appendices including original document transcripts, interesting end notes, and an index. There are 159 illustrations including 18th century maps, 19th century letters and illustrations, and various items from the Morgan collection. This extensively researched tale of the Cumberland long hunters is an impressive work on an integral element of the colonial era; those "sons of a trackless forest" who are deeply ingrained in the American psych."

So, why am I so fortunate? "Sons of a Trackless Forest", as of July 2002 and after only two print runs, is out of print. Despite a plan stated by the author in September of 2005 to first revise and then reprint the book in mass market format by 2006, that has not yet happened even though Baker has a very large audience impatiently waiting in line for it. The hardback book originally sold for $60 but a used copy up for auction on eBay earlier this year sold for a whopping $350! My fortune happened back in 2005 when I placed a bid on a copy of this book on eBay. My top bid was $190. The bidding quickly went up to over $260 and I was outbid past my comfort zone. As luck would have it, the person who won the bid decided not to pay and the seller immediately relisted. I watched and bids. The starting price was $60 and free shipping. In the last seconds I placed a bid, again for $190. To my complete amazement, no one bid against me and I became the new owner for a mere $60! When the book arrived I saw it was in near mint condition except for a tear in the dust jacket. I was elated!  

Daniel Boone
"Sons of a Trackless Forest" tells about the early Long Hunters such as Daniel Boone and several others who are lesser known. Among it's pages is the fascinating story of the long hunter Elisha Wallen (b. 1732), brother of my 6th great grandfather, Thomas Wallen. This book has a larger compilation of facts about Elisha Wallen than any other publication that I'm aware of. The author, Mark A. Baker, is also a living history re-enactor and a regular columnist for Muzzleloader Magazine. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost authorities on 18th century woodsmanship, and he had the distinct honor of teaching actor Daniel Day-Lewis how to load and shoot a musket while on the run, for the 1992 film "The Last of the Mohicans". 

Daniel Day-Lewis in "The Last of the Mohicans"

My treasured copy of "Sons" is NOT for sale!



  1. Count me one of those waiting and waiting for the reprint. I was able to study the book once at a library, and decided then I needed my own copy.

    And thanks for the DDL view. Always a treat!

  2. Well, I have to say I'm surprised that one of my geneablogger friends is on the waiting list! This is one sought after book by anyone with long hunter ancestors that's for sure. It is a fascinating read and one of my most treasured books, without a doubt!

  3. Interesting post. I find myself more and more interested in Kentucky history as I explore that branch of my family.

  4. Are people still interested in this book?

  5. I was the technical editor on the original. Are people still interested in this book?

  6. Are people still interested in this book?

    1. Are you kidding? I get hits on this post all the time and I know it's because people are trying to find out how to get it. It still sells very high (over $200) for the hardback on eBay. There is a gold mine just waiting here, trust me.

  7. Today I saw 1 used on Amazon for $1,995.....
    Perhaps someone should help Baker publish through CreateSpace. Bring it out in 6x9 and it would sell. As you are aware, CreateSpsce is Print on Demand, it is possible to publish a book for free, and the royalties are not bad at all.
    It would be in print, listed on Amazon, little if any investment (except time) and no inventory to deal with.

  8. I would love to get a copy of the book. YES people are still interested. I have been searching for years for a gift for my father and brothers!!

  9. I would also love a copy of this book.

  10. I am also looking for a reasonably priced copy. Lost the last copy I had in a Hurricane along with a lot of other stuff.

  11. Hello!
    Elisha Wallen Jr. and Sr. are my 5th and 6th great grandfathers. I would love to read what the book has to say about them. I do not need an original copy. Do you have any suggestions of how I could learn more about them? Thanks!

    Erin Miller
    Atlanta, GA

  12. Erin, there are mentions of Elisha Jr. throughout the book. Too many to list. There are often copies of the book on eBay. Kinda pricey, but worth every penny!

  13. Add me in there...I would also love a copy of Mark's book.