Author of six books on subjects ranging from the Civil War to baseball, Kevin D. McCann has a hard time conforming to one specific genre for his writings.
He was born in Jackson, Tennessee in 1970 and grew up with a love for history and drawing. His grandmother has been a great influence in his life. She encouraged his artistic talents as a young boy, buying Indian Chief tablets for him to use in drawing pictures of Civil War scenes and cartoon characters. He spent weekends at her home and poured through her set of World Book Encyclopedias. One summer, she helped him memorize all the U.S. Presidents in order.
He graduated from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science Degree in History in 1993. While in college, he worked at Kinko’s Copies in Jackson and met a customer who would inspire him to write and publish his own books. Historian and author Jonathan K.T. Smith often brought his manuscripts into the shop and Kevin made copies of them. Mr. Smith prepared his own typewritten books with photographs and clip art pasted onto the pages. The subjects he wrote about–Madison County, Tennessee history and genealogy and abstracts of various court and historical documents–interested Kevin, and they soon developed what is now a 25-year friendship. Mr. Smith’s self-published books inspired him to create his own books on local history, and in 1999 he published a history of minor-league baseball in his hometown entitled Jackson Diamonds: Professional Baseball in Jackson, Tennessee.
Kevin’s interest in regional baseball history continued with research and writing about the teams and players of the Kitty League, which stood for Kentucky-Illinois (and sometimes Indiana)-Tennessee League. It was a Class D minor-league that fielded teams in those states as well as in southeast Missouri for 30 seasons between 1903 and 1955. As he contacted former players for interviews, he was inspired by player reunions held by John Hall’s with another Class D league called the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri (KOM) League and organized two reunions in Paducah, Kentucky in 2003 and in Memphis, Tennessee in 2005. He also edited and published a player newsletter about the Kitty League from 2004 to 2005 entitled The Bull Pen. In 2012, he co-authored a photographic history of the league with Joshua R. Maxwell, The Kitty League, published by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images in Baseball series.
The Civil War has always been Kevin’s favorite historical subject, and as a young boy he often visited Shiloh National Military Park about an hour’s drive from his hometown. It was his interest in learning more about his Civil War ancestor, Corporal John Wesley Plunk, that led him to research and write a book about his great-great grandfather’s regiment, the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry. It turned out that the Sixth Tennessee that Plunk served in was a Federal (Union) regiment and not a Confederate one. The fact that Southerners had fought for the Union was a fascinating topic for Kevin, and he decided to learn more about the regiment’s service in the war, its controversial leader Colonel Fielding Hurst, and why his ancestor and other like-minded men may have served in the Sixth Tennessee. Hurst’s Wurst: Colonel Fielding Hurst and the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry U.S.A. has seen many different editions, beginning as a “homemade” typewritten manuscript with illustrations pasted onto the pages and photocopied on a Xerox machine in 1993. As Kevin’s experience in book published grew, he published a fourth edition as a paperback in 2007. Hurst’s Wurst remains his most popular–and controversial–title.
His grandmother played a role in another one of Kevin’s favorite historical characters. When he was about 11 or 12 years old, she took him to David Crockett’s last home in Rutherford, Tennessee and bought him a small book written by Ernest T. Thompson called The Fabulous David Crockett. It was the first factual account he had ever read about the real Crockett and not the Walt Disney creation. In it and another Crockett biography he checked out from the Jackson-Madison County Library, James Wakefield Burke’s David Crockett: The Man Behind the Myth, he learned about a colorful peg leg frontier lawyer named Adam Huntsman who had beaten David in his last Congressional race in 1835. As a requirement for his History Degree at Union University, he chose to write a paper about Huntsman’s life and political career. That initial paper led him to expand his 20-year research project into a definitive biography entitled The Peg Leg Politician: Adam Huntsman of Tennessee, published as a second edition in 2012.
Kevin in proud to be a third-generation fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. As a teenager in the 1980s when the baseball card collecting boom was going on and kids were looking for rookie cards of modern superstars, he and his dad collected older cards from the 50s, 60s, and 70s to compete Cardinals team sets. When others were hunting down Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Canseco cards, they looked for a 1957 Topps Joe Cunningham or a 1962 Topps Red Schoendienst to fill their team sets. They went to collectors shows and card shops in Jackson and West Tennessee together searching for missing cards. The hobby helped build their relationship as father and son.
Kevin’s latest book project is for his dad: a biography of his favorite Cardinal Ken Boyer. A third baseman who played 10 seasons in St. Louis and 15 in the major leagues overall, he grew up a Cardinals fan in southwest Missouri. Click here to learn more about this project.
In 2012, Kevin co-founded a small publishing company called BrayBree Publishing with his cousin John E. Talbott, who shares his interest in writing, history, and books.