Picture of author.

Walter D. Edmonds (1903–1998)

Author of The Matchlock Gun

42+ Works 3,480 Members 45 Reviews

About the Author

Image credit: Photo courtesy of the Frank E. Gannett Memorial Library

Works by Walter D. Edmonds

The Matchlock Gun (1941) 2,412 copies
Drums Along the Mohawk (1936) 468 copies
In The Hands Of The Senecas (1947) 63 copies
The Boyds of Black River (1953) 52 copies
Bert Breen's Barn (1975) 52 copies
Rome Haul (1929) 40 copies
Two Logs Crossing (1943) 29 copies
Chad Hanna (1940) 27 copies
Cadmus Henry (1949) 19 copies
Time to Go House (1969) 18 copies
Young Ames (1942) 17 copies
Wilderness Clearing (1944) 15 copies

Associated Works

A Treasury of Short Stories (1947) — Contributor — 286 copies
Men at War: The Best War Stories of All Time (1942) — Contributor — 283 copies
The Saturday Evening Post Treasury (1954) — Contributor — 134 copies
The Best American Humorous Short Stories (1945) — Contributor — 82 copies
The Pioneers: Novels of the American Frontier (1988) — Author — 29 copies
50 Best American Short Stories 1915-1939 (1939) — Contributor — 28 copies
Designs in Fiction (1968) — Contributor — 20 copies
Currents in Fiction (1974) — Contributor — 20 copies
Short Stories II (1961) — Contributor — 18 copies
Favorite Animal Stories (1987) — Contributor — 11 copies
To Break the Silence (1986) — Contributor — 9 copies
The Story Survey (1953) — Contributor — 6 copies
Cricket Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2, October 1977 (1977) — Contributor — 4 copies
Americans All: Stories of American Life To-Day (1971) — Contributor — 3 copies
O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1934 (1934) — Contributor — 1 copy
The Undying Past — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Edmonds, Walter D.
Date of death
Boonville, New York, USA
Place of death
Concord, Massachusetts, USA
Harvard University
Short biography
Walter "Walt" Dumaux Edmonds (July 15, 1903 – January 24, 1998) was an American writer best known for historical novels. One of them, Drums Along the Mohawk (1936), was adapted as a Technicolor feature film in 1939, directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.

Edmonds was born in Boonville, New York. In 1919 he entered The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut. Originally intending to study chemical engineering, he became more interested in writing and worked as managing editor of the Choate Literary Magazine. He graduated in 1926 from Harvard, where he edited The Harvard Advocate, and where he studied with Charles Townsend Copeland.

In 1929, he published his first novel, Rome Haul, a work about the Erie Canal. The novel was adapted for the 1934 play The Farmer Takes a Wife and the 1935 film of the same name. He married Eleanor Stetson in 1930.

Drums Along the Mohawk was on the bestseller list for two years, second only to Margaret Mitchell's famous 1936 novel Gone with the Wind for part of that time. Bert Breen's Barn was a winner of the 1976 National Book Award in category Children's Books.

Edmonds eventually published 34 books, many for children, as well as a number of magazine stories. He won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1960 and the Newbery Medal in 1942, for The Matchlock Gun, and the National Book Award for Children's Literature in 1976, for Bert Breen's Barn.

When Eleanor died in 1956, Walter married Katherine Howe Baker Carr, who died in 1989. Walter Edmonds died in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1998.



In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as long as he was, but would Edward be able to handle it if trouble actually came?
PlumfieldCH | 31 other reviews | Sep 22, 2023 |
review from my 13 year old
“It tells the story of Edward and his grandparents who came to the U.S. during the time period of the French-Indian War. His father is in the militia. Everyone else is left alone (children and mother) and a raid came near them. Instead of choosing to go to Grandma’s, they stayed. They had their large gun brought from Holland which the Mother says not to fire til she says so. The raiding party comes to the house and the gun is fired. There is a fire. Then the father comes home.”

*YMMV, obviously guns, shooting.

Also a true story.

Here is one perspective http://www.readathomemom.com/2017/03/reading-through-history-matchlock-gun.html

Here is a quote from Wikipedia “ The book has been accused of depicting Native Americans as "horror, the ultimate nightmare [...which] may very well be one of the worst descriptions of Native people in children’s literature, certainly in the 20th century", and "eulogiz[ing] an American past in which the indigenous populations were regarded as sub-human, and every effort made to exterminate them."[1]”

Clearly a book that can have strong feelings raised. I encourage you to read this book for yourself and some of the other Library Thing reviews.
… (more)
FamiliesUnitedLL | 31 other reviews | Jul 21, 2023 |
A pair of newlyweds head out to the New York wilderness to start a new life together, but with the Revolutionary War comes trouble and hardship. Plus, Indians.

Yeah, not my cuppa, I suppose. Just not...interesting enough? Which is too bad because it really could have been.
electrascaife | 9 other reviews | Feb 13, 2023 |
Walter D. Edmonds wrote a number of novels set in and around New York along the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River. Drums Along the Mohawk and Chad Hannah were among his other books. Erie Water tells about the building of the Erie Canal through the experience of a young man who worked on the canal building the locks. The copy I read was a 1964 paperback printing, the book was first published in 1933.

Erie Water is not Edmonds' best work. I thought Drums Along the Mohawk was much better. It dragged in places and seemed too long. However it did capture the feel of the canal and showed how it was made. The place names were all real places and since I now live near the Erie Canal I did enjoy that part of the book.… (more)
MMc009 | Jan 30, 2022 |



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