EASTERN SHORE AUTHOR, JOSEPH KOPER, AWARDED GOLD MEDAL IN NATIONAL BOOK COMPETITION
EASTON, MD, UNITED STATES, MAY 28, 2023.
The Isaiah Fountain Case: Outrage and Jim Crow Justice on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, by Joseph Koper, published by Secant Publishing of Salisbury, MD, has been honored with a gold medal in the annual Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) competition. The Isaiah Fountain Case, received the 2023 Gold Medal for Best Regional Non-Fiction Book (Mid-Atlantic).
Easton, MD, resident Joseph Koper made his debut as an author with The Isaiah Fountain Case—the first book-length account of a sensational rape case that convulsed Talbot County and made national headlines early in the 20th century. Isaiah Fountain was a successful African American farmer whose struggle to prove his innocence of a White girl’s rape was conducted in the face of lynch mobs, manhunts, outraged citizens, armed troops, media controversies, and questionable legal decisions.
Fountain’s attempts to mount a defense within the Jim Crow legal system included two trials – first in Talbot County Circuit Court, and then following appeal, before a three- judge panel in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Even after Fountain’s 1920 execution by hanging, unresolved questions endured, creating still more controversies and surprises.
In addition to The Isaiah Fountain Case, other Secant Publishing titles also were awarded silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the competition: Stardust by the Bushel by Brent Lewis; and When Earth Shall Be No More by Paul Awad & Kathryn O’Sullivan. Said Ron Sauder, publisher: “It is a special honor for a small indie press like Secant to have multiple titles recognized in a competition that is open to all independent authors and publishers, from the smallest to the very largest.”
Other 2023 award winners included major university presses such as Stanford, Oxford, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and many others; large independent houses like Skyhorse and She Writes Press; and several foundations.
For more information on the Independent Publisher Book Awards, see ippyawards.com. The awards program began in 1996 and is open to all independent authors and publishers worldwide publishing books in English. The judges explain that “The IPPY Awards reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing. Independent spirit and expertise comes from publishers of all sizes and budgets and books are judged with that in mind.”
“ON THE RECORD” WITH SHEILAH KAST RADIO INTERVIEW ON WYPR FM 88.1 IN BALTIMORE, MD–NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO.
INFORMATION ABOUT MY BOOK FROM MY PUBLISHERS RECENT NEWSLETTER.
|“This rigorous account clearly shows that Isaiah Fountain suffered a fate he didn’t deserve.”Kirkus Reviews|
|Easton author Joseph Koper releases his first book – a riveting account of racial injustice in Talbot County, painstakingly pieced together from the headlines and court records of a century ago.In the wake of World War I and the “Spanish flu” pandemic, economic and racial tensions flared across the country. The Eastern Shore of Maryland was not immune.In April 1919, a successful Black farmer named Isaiah Fountain set out by foot from his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, to Easton, Maryland, the county seat of Talbot County, in search of his missing wife. He had dispatched her on their wagon to withdraw money from their bank in Easton, but she failed to return.Finding she had made the withdrawal as planned, but had then left their horse and wagon behind in Easton, he suspected she had headed north to her parents’ home in Camden, New Jersey.The next day, he bought a train ticket and followed her. Happily, when he reached Camden, she agreed to return home in a week. Unhappily, the timing of this domestic spat – precipitating his trip out of town – was about to kindle the most dire and vengeful suspicions in Talbot County, becoming a living nightmare for Isaiah.A teenage White girl who also lived near Trappe reported having been raped by a Black man on the same afternoon that Fountain was in Easton searching for his wife.These coincidences set off a catastrophic chain of events for a man who was almost certainly innocent: a hurried investigation, arrest, trial, 9-minute deliberation by an all-White jury, conviction, appeals, retrial, second conviction, and hanging.Along the way Fountain narrowly avoided being lynched by angry mobs and unbelievably, escaped twice from custody, evading massive manhunts before being recaptured. Unfortunately, not even three unimpeachable White witnesses who testified that Fountain was in Easton at the time the rape occurred could save him.In July 1920, Isaiah Fountain earned the bitter distinction of becoming the last person to be legally executed on the Eastern Shore – on a custom-built gallows inside the Talbot County jail.In telling this harrowing story for the first time at book length, Koper also chronicles a secondary story line – a “media war” between Easton and Baltimore newspapers, which saw the case very differently from each other and blazed away with one accusatory salvo after another.|
|SHOP LOCALCopies of the hardcover edition are available for sale at Vintage Books & Fine Art in downtown Easton.Or, shop online. Purchases at Bookshop.org or IndieBound benefit local, independent bookstores. Amazon has the e-book.|
|P.S. – A WORD FROM THE AUTHORListen to Joseph Koper discuss the research and findings that went into his publication of this outrageous, true-life saga of life under Jim Crow justice on Maryland’s Eastern Shore — the near-lynching, double escapes, trial and retrial, and final execution of Isaiah Fountain.The Chestertown SpyDelmarva Today – Harold O. Wilson|
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MY PRESENTATION AT THE TALBOT HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Friday, October 28, 2022)
“A Date with History” Lecture Series Presents: “The Isaiah Fountain Case” by Joe Koper
Our Date with History Speaker Series will feature Joseph Koper. Joe will be speaking about his new book, “The Isaiah Fountain Case: Outrage and Jim Crow Justice on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.” He will focus on an account of a sensational rape case that convulsed Talbot County and made national headlines early in the 20th century. The story of Isaiah Fountain is told through court documents and hundreds of contemporaneous newspaper articles. The case documents dubious investigative and judicial actions and raises questions about Isaiah Fountain’s guilt and the Jim Crow legal system that convicted him.
The Talbot Historical Society’s “A Date with History”
lecture series featuring Joe Koper
October 28, 2022 at 1 pm
Location: The Denton Extended Museum and Hill Research Center
located at 25 S. Washington Street, Easton, Maryland
Reservations are required and the cost is
FREE for THS members and $5 for non-members.
If you have any questions or wish to sign-up please contact the
Talbot Historical Society at
410-822-0773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“SHORE ISSUES” PODCAST INTERVIEW (October 4, 2022)
MY PRESENTATION AT THE EASTON CLUB EAST CLUBHOUSE (September 22, 2022)
YOUTUBE VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH THE TALBOT SPY (September 10, 2022).
BOOK LAUNCH (September 12, 2022)
RADIO INTERVIEW (July 22, 2022)
On Saturday, July 22, I was honored to be interviewed about my book, The Isaiah Fountain Case: Outrage and Jim Crow Justice on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I was interviewed by Harold Wilson, author and radio host of Delmarva Today on WSDL radio (Delmarva Public Media).Click this link for the interview: WSDL Radio Interview-The Isaiah Fountain Case