(Belcamp, Maryland – April 5, 2011) Preparations are underway for the 5th Annual Night Out at the Library, which will be held Friday, April 15th from 7pm to 9pm at the Jarrettsville Branch. This year author Cornelia Nixon will discuss her novel Jarrettsville, winner of the 2010 Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction.

Based on a true story from the author’s family history, Jarrettsville is an account of Martha Jane Cairnes, who shot and killed her fiancé Nicholas McComas in front of his Union cavalry militia four years after the end of the Civil War. Set in Jarrettsville, Maryland, Nixon’s novel explores Cairnes’ motivation for the infamous murder, which made the front page of the New York Times in 1869. Cairnes was later acquitted despite approximately 50 eyewitnesses to the murder. The dark Reconstruction atmosphere, mounting political tensions, suspicions, prejudices, and a possible involvement in the assassination of Lincoln add layers of intrigue to Nixon’s narrative.

“The Community has been captivated by Nixon’s novel,” said Amber C. Shrodes, Director, Harford County Public Library Foundation. “The response has been outstanding. We are nearly sold out and are fortunate to have several sponsors, including McComas Funeral Home, the Harford County Office of Economic Development, the Jarrettsville Friends of Harford County Public Library, Richard and Susan Kinard, and Kay Dietz. Their partnership has made this event possible.”

“We are honored to sponsor A Night Out @ the Library,” said Howard K. McComas IV, President of McComas Funeral Home and a distant relative to Nicholas McComas. “We look forward to attending the discussion and are pleased to support the Harford County Public Library in its mission to offer unique cultural programs and provide access to critical resources throughout our community. Harford County’s innovative library system is an outstanding example of private and public partnership working to enrich the lives of residents and families. We are proud to have shared in that commitment for more than six generations,” he added.

Tickets for A Night Out @ the Library are $25 per person and include coffee and dessert provided by Coffee Coffee and Jarrettsville Creamery and Deli. A book signing will follow the discussion. Books sales will be provided by Barnes and Noble. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 410 273 5600 x2283.

A Night Out @ the Library is sponsored by the Harford County Public Library Foundation and benefits Harford County Public Library.

Harford County Public Library operates eleven branches located throughout Harford County, Maryland. The library serves over 210,000 registered borrowers of all ages and has an annual circulation of almost 4,700,000. Harford County Public Library is committed to connecting people with information and promoting the love of reading within the community.

The Harford County Public Library Foundation is a 501© 3 charitable organization established to raise funds to augment the financial resources of the Harford County Public Library and to promote awareness of its services. For more information call 410 273 5601 x 2283.


Photo caption #1: “Jarrettsville” book cover; #2: Author Cornelia Nixon


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