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Family feud, betrayal highlight WNC-based ‘Darby’

By Jesse Campbell (

Article Published: May. 22, 2013 | Modified: May. 22, 2013
Family feud, betrayal highlight WNC-based ‘Darby’

A perilous family feud, centered in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, goes full-blown in William Pipes’ first published novel, “Darby.”

Pipes, a retired school teacher from Western North Carolina, said the book is set in the small Wilkes County community of Darby, before the storyline moves “up the mountain” to Watauga County and northeast Tennessee.

While certain aspects of the book are based on real life events, the storyline is purely fictional and set in the late 1890s, Pipes said.

The book’s opening chain of events is based on a childhood story Pipes’ father told him of a gravely injured man he found standing in Elk Creek. “My father helped him out of the creek, but he later died,” Pipes said.

From there, the book takes a fictitious turn with relatable characters of the time that depict a slower pace of life in Appalachian culture.

After George Walsh, the man who is pulled from Elk Creek after a stabbing, succumbs to his wounds, his family blames Floyd Caldwell for his murder.

Caldwell is shocked by the allegations, because he was the one, in fact, who tried to save Walsh. He reasons their claims must have originated over a sour land deal.

The feud between the families quickly escalates when Walsh’s brother, Virgil, becomes engaged in a duel with Caldwell in Mountain City, Tenn.

The novel takes another twist when the sons of Walsh and Caldwell find themselves in a bitter rivalry.

The plot thickens when Walsh’s daughter falls in love and marries the younger Caldwell, infuriating her brother, Andrew Walsh.

Andrew is later imprisoned in an unrelated crime, but still vows revenge against his sister and the Caldwell clan.

The young couple then spends a considerable amount of time eluding the vengeance of Andrew, who hires a hitman to kill the young couple, Pipes said.

Readers will find several local connections to the book with the reference of familiar landmarks, including Appalachian State University, then called Appalachian State Normal School.

“The entire Chapter 5 is actually centered in Watauga County,” Pipes said, adding that the book will appeal to readers because of its length and subject matter.

“It’s about 200 pages,” Pipes said. “You could probably read it in a couple of sittings. It’s pretty interesting, I think.”

About Pipes

Born and raised in Murphy, Pipes attended college at Western Carolina University, before later earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Clemson and Georgia universities, respectively.

During his tenure in education, Pipes has taught at both the high school and collegiate level. Following his retirement, Pipes began to dabble a little in writing, before deciding on his next career path, which he hopes is that of an accomplished novelist.

Pipes is currently working on a third novel, and he is still seeking a publisher for his first novel, “Doodlebug, Doodlebug Your House is On Fire.”

He currently splits his time between residences in North Carolina and Florida.

To learn more about Pipes or to purchase the electronic version of “Darby,” visit

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