Woman finishes book on Malta doctor

by Correspondent Brian McKee

Sunday, May 8, 2011 - Zanesville Times Recorder

MALTA - Theresa Marie Flaherty has written "The Final Test: A Biography of James Ball Naylor," about the life of a Malta physician and author who lived from 1860 to 1945.

Flaherty was born in North Dakota, and moved to California as a child. She never heard of Malta, Ohio, or James Ball Naylor until she was a wife and mother.

I am an accidental biographyer of Dr. Naylor," Flaherty said. "My husband was in the Navy in Vietnam and I was raising two small children in California. I took a job as a typist for D.W. Garber, an historian from Ohio who had written many book on Ohio history. I was hired to type up research notes on a book he planned to write about Naylor."

But Garber never finished the book.

"Wesley (Garber) had met Naylor in 1904 and was very eager to write a biography of the famous Ohio author. Unfortunately, due to age and failing health, Wesley could not finish the book, and he left it to me to finish his work," Flaherty said.

She attempted publishing the book, but was unsuccessful at that time.

I finished the book and sent it to two publishers, who rejected it," Flaherty said. "They told me I had lots of wonderful facts, but that my book lacked a story or theme that would interest readers in reading the book. I gave up on it and put away the boxes of materials for many years."

In the meantime, she raised her children, completed a college degree and began her own successful computer consulting business.

About 10 years ago, her husband, Gerry, retired from the Navy, and she retired from her business. They sold their home in Texas and decided to live in a motor home and visit all 49 of the continental states, which they have accomplished.

Five years ago, she set out to complete the book. She made more visits to Malta and McConnelsville to find out the missing parts of the story.

Naylor was born in a one-room cabin of unhewn log construction between Malta and Stockport in 1860. His family was poor, but after completing his studies in a one-room school, he attended Stockport High School, Marietta College and Starling Medical College. He entered into the practice of medicine in Malta, where he lived in a gracious Victorian home nestled among the elm trees that he called "Elmhurst"--which is now the home of Greg and Ellen Hill.

Though by profession the town physician, Naylor actually went down in history as an author. His life is full of literary achievements in both prose and poetry. His books were read throughout the English-speaking world, and he constantly received fan mail from places such as England and Australia.

Among Naylor's published works are "Goldenrod and Thistledown," "The Sign of the Prophet," "In the Days of St. Clair," "Under Mad Anthony's Banner" and "A Book of Buckeye Verse."

Another of his books, "Ralph Marlowe," became a bestseller in England.

Naylor was also deeply involved in politics and ran for office several times, although he never won an election. He was well known as a writer who exposed political corruption. He often did so in poetry that mocked politicians with hard-hitting humor.

By researching in Naylor's hometown and speaking with people who knew and remembered him, Flaherty found what she needed to make her book something that people would want to read; the missing part that had caused publishers to reject it in the past.

"The challenge was to find the true story of Naylor. I looked for the essence that defined him," Flaherty said. "I found out that his writing was only a hobby. He was a deeply devoted physician to his patients. But most of all, he was a loving, devoted husband and father who worked hard to supporthis family. He enjoyed fame, endured hard times and some failures, but down deep, all that mattered to him was family."

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