Grandson Publishes Grandmother’s Tale of Mid-Century Appalachia

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Joseph D. Sage's new memoir presents story of honest coal miner’s faith-filled, adventurous life

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Lelan “Dirk” Phillips served as sheriff of Wyoming County, West Virginia during the 1960s, one of the most turbulent times in American history. Before that, he’d been a coal miner and a mines inspector, and in “Dirk”: Deep Within the Mountains (published by Trafford Publishing) his daughter Winona Phillips Donnally offers a touching and adventurous memoir of his life.

During the 20th century West Virginia was known for its pristine beauty and wilderness. Most of the people who lived there worked as coal miners in the mining industry. They were descendants of settlers traveling west from Virginia and the Carolinas, in order to own land of their own. Dirk Phillips was a hardworking man who rose through the ranks in the coal mining industry by day; by night he distilled and smuggled moonshine.

The anecdotes that fill this memoir are a clear portrait of a man who cared for his family and tried to do the right thing every time. Dirk Phillips was a hard-working man, who took any job he was given before, during and after the Great Depression and did it to the best of his ability. The scenes of personal conflict – one with a co-worker who tried to electrocute him, another with a man who tried to shoot him – depict a man who dealt with his own problems.

An atheist who believed in no one but himself to be the maker of his own destiny, Dirk later became a devout Christian and husband, dedicating his life to upholding justice and caring for others. As sheriff he established a reputation for dismantling the gangs that were illegally making and distributing moonshine, coming full circle from his youth.

This book is dedicated by Joseph D. Sage in loving memory of his beloved grandmother who passed the torch of American values, selfless service to others and devotion to a loving family.

About the Author
Winona Phillips Donnally came from a family that embodied the American dream deep within the mountains of West Virginia. Her family strived to overcome adversity through nothing more than faith, dedication and hard work. She lived a long life, selflessly devoting herself as a revered mother to her family and registered psychiatric nurse to her patients.

Trafford Publishing, an Author Solutions, Inc. author services imprint, was the first publisher in the world to offer an “on-demand publishing service,” and has led the independent publishing revolution since its establishment in 1995. Trafford was also one of the earliest publishers to utilize the Internet for selling books. More than 10,000 authors from over 120 countries have utilized Trafford’s experience for self publishing their books. For more information about Trafford Publishing, or to publish your book today, call 1-888-232-4444 or visit


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