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The Travels of Increase Joseph

A Historical Novel about a Pioneer Preacher

Jerry Apps

Publication Year: 2010

Plum Falls, New York, 1840s: Dismissed from Harvard Divinity School for his liberal views, Increase Joseph Link arrives home with a heavy heart. He gives up his dream of becoming a minister to settle for life on the farm, until the day he is struck by lightning and hears a voice telling him to rise and speak. Heeding that voice, Increase becomes a preacher, advocating for environmental protection and the end of slavery and war. His growing band of followers calls itself the Standalone Fellowship, and they accompany him on his move west to Wisconsin, to a place of better land and opportunity. Link Lake, Wisconsin, 1852: Preacher Increase Link and the Standalone Fellowship settle near a lake that they name in his honor. Increase’s gifted tongue calls people to his mission to protect the land: “Unless we take care of the land we shall all perish.” To finance the fellowship activities, Increase sells his special cure-all tonic—fifty cents per bottle! Inspired by actual events that took place in upstate New York and Wisconsin in the mid-nineteenth century, The Travels of Increase Joseph is the first in Jerry Apps’s series set in fictional Ames County, Wisconsin. The four novels in the series—which also includes In a Pickle, Blue Shadows Farm, and the forthcoming Cranberry Red—all take place around Link Lake at different points in history. They convey Apps’s deep knowledge of rural life and his own concern for land stewardship.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Other Works by the Author, Dedication, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 5-6

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The Truth of the Matter

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pp. 7-12

Although this is a work of fiction, the historical setting for the story is true, as are some of the characters and many of the circumstances. There was no Increase Joseph Link, but there was an Increase Lapham, after whom the main character was named. Increase Lapham, as one writer noted, was "Wisconsin's pioneer scientist and...

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1. Tossed Out

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pp. 13-16

He carried a dog-eared Holy Bible in one hand; the other held a brown tattered satchel containing his meager possessions. The satchel was tied together with a hank of frayed yellow rope. A floppy brown hat rode low on his head. Threadbare trousers came half way to his knees and...

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2. Lightning Strikes

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pp. 17-21

A dark cloud boiled up in the west and the distant rumble of thunder echoed across the valley as Increase Joseph Link slowly walked to fetch the milk cows from the night pasture. The rising sun, not yet above the horizon, streaked the eastern sky...

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3. Preaching

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pp. 22-26

I ncrease Joseph's recovery was nothing less than miraculous. Not only did his ability to speak return, but his voice was now deeper and more powerful. Words seemed to flow off his lips like melt water from a spring thaw. Before his near fatal accident, he seldom spoke, now he never stopped. He gave orations...

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4. Leaving Home

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pp. 27-35

The small group gathered in a field on the Link farm, which was a short distance from Plum Falls. They stood in a ragged circle, men and women and children of various ages. Little patches of snow remained on the hillsides and along the north side of the nearby woodlot, but the bright April sun...

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5. Buffalo

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pp. 36-41

The caravan stopped just outside Buffalo and set up camp in a farmer's field. Increase Joseph had gotten permission from the farmer. He insisted the group place the wagons in a circle. "In case there might be some difficulty during the night." He also appointed night guards to patrol the perimeter of...

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6. Onward to the West

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pp. 42-46

F1rtified by the tonic, Increase Joseph quickly gained his land legs. He and Henry Bakken were off visiting the livestock and farm machinery dealers in Sheboygan, buying oxen, milk cows, wagons, and plows. Once people learned where they were traveling, several mentioned stopping at Wade House...

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7. Naming The Lake

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pp. 47-55

When he and his followers arrived in Ames County, Wisconsin, Increase Joseph Link had his choice of where they might settle. A vast new area opened after the 1848 Indian Treaty at Lake Poygan. The area he selected was blessed with rolling fertile soil, a nearby lake and many naturally growing...

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8. Village of Link Lake

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pp. 56-59

The newly founded Village of Link Lake straddled a fast moving trout stream that flowed out of the south end of the lake by the same name, on its way toward Lake Winnebago, the Fox River, and eventually Green Bay. While the Fellowship members had earlier been busy building cabins...

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9. Henry and Abigail

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pp. 60-63

Henry Bakken and his wife ran the newly organized Link Lake Gazette. Bakken, with his neatly trimmed red beard and an ever present striped vest, was easily identified in the growing village of Link Lake located on the far south end of the lake. Bakken's wife, Abigail...

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10. Tent Preaching

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pp. 64-77

ncrease Joseph penned a letter to his father back in Plum Falls, New York, the first since the Fellowship arrived in Wisconsin. He wanted to report good news but the news was mixed. The Link Lake farmers started harvesting their wheat crop. They scythed the fields, gathered the grain into sheaves, and hauled them on their wagons pulled by oxen to their...

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11. Not Listening

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pp. 78-82

Henry Bakken didn't know what to make of the tent show fiasco. All his wife, Abigail, could do was laugh when he described the thunder storm and the tent falling on the Willow River faithful and how he and Increase Joseph were hurried out of town. "Increase Joseph, has a good idea with his tent and tonic selling...

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12. First Winter

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pp. 83-91

This first winter for the Standalone Fellowship in Wisconsin was long and cold - miserable by anyone's standards. Nearly every week it snowed, starting in November and continuing into the first weeks of March. The snow piled up around the...

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13. The People from Pow-Aw-Hay-Kon-Nay

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pp. 92-102

Since the baby's death, Increase Joseph began questioning everything that he did, every decision that he made. It didn't help that the Fellowship stored the casket with the dead baby on a shelf in a lean-to back of the church because the ground was frozen too deeply to dig a grave. It would be a week...

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14. Spiritual Challenge

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pp. 103-113

Five years passed quickly. With the new recipe, enhanced by the addition of maple sugar and dried cranberries, tonic sales soared. Profits from the tonic allowed Increase Joseph to buy a new and larger sacred tent, and wooden bleacher seats so his followers could sit comfortably while they...

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15. Cheyenne Valley

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pp. 114-120

Nine year old Little Joe began accompanying his father on his forays around Wisconsin, selling the tonic off the back of their wagon. Little Joe was developing a gift for selling that was only exceeded by his famous father. But like his father, when he...

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16. Underground Railroad

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pp. 121-127

Henry Bakken was the only member of the Standalone Fellowship who subscribed to the Milwaukee Sentinel. Even though he received the paper a few days late by mail, it kept him current on happenings in the state as well as nationally. Many stories..

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17. Isaac and Caroline

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pp. 128-133

A slow, drippy cold rain began falling shortly after sunrise and continued throughout the day. It could have easily been snow. The leaves of the aspens and the maples in and around Link Lake that had been so colorful but a few weeks earlier had fallen. The trees, like naked sentinels, stood watch...

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18. Slave Catchers

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pp. 134-139

I ncrease Joseph's horses walked with their heads down, slowly moving along the wet rutted road toward Link Lake. Increase Joseph, dozing as the team plodded along, was bone tired but pleased that he had become a part of the Underground Railroad...

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19. Sandstorm

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pp. 140-148

The sun came up granite red in a hazy sky that Monday spring morning. Almost no rain had fallen since the last remnants of winter snow had disappeared in early March. A hot wind from the west blew steadily, night and day, since the beginning of April. The huge wheat...

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20. A Nation at War with Itself

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pp. 149-157

The headline splashed across the top of the first page of the Link Lake Gazette read: "Our Nation Is at War With Itself." The story continued, "On April 13 Southern guns opened fire on poorly defended Fort Sumter at the entrance to Charleston, South Carolina's harbor. The bombardment continued for...

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21. War Troubles

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pp. 158-167

ncrease Joseph and thirteen-year old Little Joe continued making the rounds with their sacred tent. People throughout the region learned about the teachings of this white-haired man in black from stories in the Milwaukee Sentinel. Substantial numbers...

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22. Vision Quest

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pp. 168-175

The following morning, Elwina saw that Increase Joseph had not returned. She awakened Little Joe and asked him to hurry down the trail to the Bakkens and tell them what happened. Within the hour a search crew was organized to look for Increase Joseph. Henry Bakken feared the worst, that one...

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23. The Broadax Situation

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pp. 176-192

A fter his two-day "vision quest," Increase Joseph was back to his usual self, mostly. His mental state improved dramatically when he read the news that General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. The very next Sunday...

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24. Milk Cows

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pp. 193-205

"warm day, Elwina," Abigail Bakken said by way of greeting as she spotted the pastor's wife working in her garden just beyond the Links' tidy log cabin. Abigail stopped by the Links' every week or so to talk with her friend. "Getting dry, could use a good rain" Elwina said. The two of them explored Elwina's vegetable garden. They looked at...

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25. Fire at Peshtigo

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pp. 206-223

The 1871 wheat crop was as meager as 1870. The chinch bug cut the yields to a quarter of what the Standalone farmers had known in the 1860s. Several farmers started milking cows, even though the transition from wheat to cows was not easy. The biggest problem for men was moving past the belief...

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26. Increase Joseph Recovers

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pp. 224-230

I ncrease Joseph did not recover quickly from Peshtigo fire injuries. Upon his return to Link Lake he took to his bed. Even with daily selfprescribed doses of the Restorative Tonic and Elwina's loving care, by mid-April he was not yet able to preach to the Standalone Fellowship on Sunday afternoons. As was the policy...

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27. The Marriage of Little Joe

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pp. 231-240

I t had been a long time since there was such excitement in Link Lake. Saturday, June 17 was the marriage date for Increase Joseph Link, II and Henrietta Bakken. No one could understand why it took them so long to make up their minds about marriage...

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28. Problems with Progress

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pp. 241-252

"H ow are you, Increase Joseph?" said Henry Bakken when he greeted his old friend. Henry walked up the hill from his newspaper office in Link Lake to the Links' cabin, just down the road from the Standalone Church. It was a warm afternoon, with scarcely a breeze rustling the leaves of the big nearby...

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29. World's Fair

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pp. 253-263

The remainder of the 1880s sped by. Increase Joseph, now 67, had slowed down considerably from his earlier work schedule. Elwina was taking more time to visit with friends and sit in her rocking chair, knitting. The Links had essentially given up their meager farm operation several years ago, when...

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30. Transition

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pp. 264-268

Henry Bakken met Henrietta and Little Joe at the train depot in Plainfield and they rode back to Link Lake, along vast potato fields that were recently planted and hayfields that would soon be ready for cutting "How was the fair?" Bakken inquired. "Wonderful," his daughter answered. "Simply wonderful. And look...

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pp. 269-271

I especially want to thank Marv Balousek, former owner of Badger Books, who took a chance by publishing this, my first novel, and encouraging me to do more fiction. I also want to thank the University of Wisconsin Press, and especially senior acquisitions editor Raphael Kadushin, for agreeing to publish the paperback version of this...

Back Cover

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p. 272-272

E-ISBN-13: 9780299247539
E-ISBN-10: 0299247538
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299247546
Print-ISBN-10: 0299247546

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2010