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The Book  1996 by Ann R. Davis

Up ] [ The Altamaha-Ha Book ] rickpics.htm ] Our Local Sea Monster Guestbook ] Sightings of the Altamaha-Ha ]


This book for children (and dedicated to the children of McIntosh County) is an unusual combination - the story of the settling of Darien by Scottish Highlanders and the legend of a strange creature which is said to haunt the Altamaha river of McIntosh County. The descriptions of the creature, which has been sighted by residents of McIntosh, seems remarkably like that of the Loch Ness monster - though perhaps the Georgia version may be smaller. Both have humps and cause a churning of the water when submerging or surfacing. Local Painter/Sculptor, Ann R. Davis, was intrigued with the creature, called "Altamaha-ha" by residents in Darien, and decided to cast a limited edition of small sculptures of the "monster" as she perceived it. Mrs. Davis had been impressed by the stories she had heard about the character and adventures of the Highlanders, and by the stories about William McIntosh (son of John Mohr McIntosh) in particular. Young William, she thought, had had a most extraordinary childhood, and the Highlanders inspired her whole-hearted respect. It was while working on the limited edition of "Altamaha-has", she was struck with the idea of combining the two stories, when an "obvious" link between the monster and the Highlanders occurred to her.

The result - fantasy and factual history interwoven - she hopes will aid children to learn history. The fantasy, she says, being a "spoonful of sugar" to help the medicine go down. However, the adventures of the McIntosh boys, William, Lachlan and "WeeJohn", are hardly medicine and are entertaining enough in their own right. William, who was only 10 years old when his family and their fellow Scots first beheld the wild Georgia Coast in 1735, adapted very well to what was surely a radical change from Inverness. Not only were the Scots not the least intimidated, they quickly gained the respect of the Native Americans, who admired the nature, strength and skill of the Highlanders. Modern children, when reading about their contemporaries of more than two hundred years ago - the McIntosh boys - might find their adventures and hardihood as fantastic as the tale of the "monster".

  WeeJohn jpg  35KB

One of William's adventures occurred when he was fifteen. His father had refused to let him come with their men to fight the Spanish at Fort Moosa, so William stole away with sympathetic Indians until they were too far down the trail for his father to make him return. Instead of the glorious adventure he may have been expecting, he was embroiled in a nasty fight where he was forced to watch helplessly as the Spaniards captured his father, Captain John McIntosh. William and some others escaped and returned to Darien, but most of the Darien Highlanders were wiped out in this battle and the settlement grieved. John McIntosh was taken to a prison in Spain, where he was said to be tortured. William McIntosh, his brothers, sister and mother, who had already endured many hardships, were forced to suffer even more, until William was able to avenge his father when he and the new recruits of Scottish warriors defeated the Spanish at the "Battle of Bloody Marsh". (Eventually, John McIntosh was released from prison and the family reunited in Darien once more)

The endurance, tenacity and "heart" of the Scots are impressive enough to inspire our children to emulate their "forefathers", and the love of "Chattan" the "monster", (named after Clan Chattan of the family McIntosh) for the McIntosh boys is the delightful glue which holds the story together.




This page was designed by Rhett Davis using original graphics by Ann R. Davis and others by permission.

Original graphics may not be copied or published without author's consent. ©1996-1999 Ann R. Davis