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Brother of Mine

The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie

Edited by Hampton Smith

In 1861, as President Lincoln called for volunteers to defend the Union, Thomas Christie wrote to his father, voicing desires shared by many an enlistee: “I do want to ‘see the world,’ to get out of the narrow circle in which I have always lived, to ‘make a man of myself,’ and to have it to say in days to come that I, too, had a part in this great struggle.” As it turned out, Thomas had an excellent partner in his quest: his brother William. Both signed on with the First Minnesota Light Artillery, working as “cannoneers,” responsible for loading and aiming big guns at the enemy. The First Minnesota saw action in major battles at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. But the adventurers also endured the monotony of camp life, the hunger of poor supply lines, and, in William’s case, the challenges of enemy capture. The ups and downs, the doubts and thrills are recounted from their differing perspectives in this collection of letters to worried parents, a winsome sister, and a younger brother eager to join in the fight. Their vivid epistles are enhanced by the familial connection of brothers in arms who eventually did see the world—and returned home changed.

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Building the St. Helena II

Rebirth of a Nineteenth-Century Canal Boat

How a community built a replica canal boat and pioneered a national movementBuilding the St. Helena II tells the story of the 1970 reconstruction of an authentic, operational nineteenth-century canal boat. The narrative unfolds in the small village of Canal Fulton, Ohio, along the surviving one-mile section of the 333-mile Ohio & Erie Canal, which in the 1820s connected the new nation’s western frontier to the thriving coastal states. Canal Fulton was at the leading edge of a national environmental movement to reclaim, restore, and reuse historic U.S. canals for education and recreation.

Author Carroll Gantz describes how canals penetrated the wilderness and became the nation’s first interstate transportation system—transforming the Northeast and Midwest from an agrarian to an industrial society—and how the construction of the 4,700 mile network of man-made waterways attracted settlers inland. In Ohio, the canals transformed the state from a wild, western territory into a productive and prosperous business region. Canals were soon replaced by railroads, however, and by 1900 they had mostly been abandoned, built over, or destroyed by nature.

Gantz relates how the rest of Ohio and then the country joined the environmental and historical preservation movement, inspired by the innovative actions of Canal Fulton, to preserve its canal and build the country’s first modern replica of an 1825 canal boat. Dozens of replica canal boats were built, and over a thousand miles of land was reclaimed for the education and recreation of millions of Americans, from Massachusetts to Illinois. As a result, part of the national heritage once on the verge of being lost was instead reborn.

Complemented by scores of contemporary photographs, the historical origin of St. Helena II as well as her design, construction, launch, and use over her 18 years of operation is discussed in detail. Her final restoration as a permanent exhibit is also described, with full-color illustrations. St. Helena II’s tradition survives today in her worthy replacement, St. Helena III.

Canal buffs, historians, educators, engineers, sailors, and those interested in restoration will welcome this addition to canal literature.

“This work fills in an important piece that has been missing in the body of works on canal history—that is, information on the boats themselves, specifically their design and construction, and documentation of the design and construction of the first authentic, operating canal boat replica. The appeal is lasting in that this is a piece of canal history that adds to our knowledge of both the historic canal era and the more contemporary canal revival, for all time.”—Peg Bobel, coauthor of Canal Fever: The Ohio and Erie Canal from Canalway to Waterway (The Kent State University Press, 2009)

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The Bullhead Queen

A Year on Pioneer Lake

Sue Leaf

The Western approach to nature has always operated under both spiritual and scientific views. While Christianity decrees that human beings have dominion over nature, evolutionary biology teaches us that we are but highly adapted animals among a biological network of millions of other species. What is our proper relationship to wild animals-and what is our responsibility to them?

In The Bullhead Queen, Sue Leaf exemplifies the moral aspect of humans to nature through a collection of engaging meditations on the places she sees every day on Pioneer Lake in east-central Minnesota. Reflecting on the birds she peers at through binoculars and the Lutheran church that anchors the lake's southern shore, Leaf contemplates how her relationship to nature has been colored by the Christian theology of her childhood. Acknowledging the influence of the church on her view of the natural world, she follows the liturgical calendar as a thread, chronicling the change of seasons over the year.

Leaf considers the results of the assumption that nature is ours to use: we continue to fish, trap, and hunt animals whose populations are ghosts of their former selves and produce mounting environmental pressures on their habitats. Observing the ways in which the heavy hand of human beings has changed the landscape of Pioneer Lake, and many others like it, she also rejoices in the ways in which the lakes remain wild and exuberant, influencing the lives of all who encounter them.

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Busy in the Cause

Iowa, the Free-State Struggle in the West, and the Prelude to the Civil War

Lowell J. Soike

Despite the immense body of literature about the American Civil War and its causes, the nation’s western involvement in the approaching conflict often gets short shrift. Slavery was the catalyst for fiery rhetoric on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line and fiery conflicts on the western edges of the nation. Driven by questions regarding the place of slavery in westward expansion and by the increasing influence of evangelical Protestant faiths that viewed the institution as inherently sinful, political debates about slavery took on a radicalized, uncompromising fervor in states and territories west of the Mississippi River.

Busy in the Cause explores the role of the Midwest in shaping national politics concerning slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. In 1856 Iowa aided parties of abolitionists desperate to reach Kansas Territory to vote against the expansion of slavery, and evangelical Iowans assisted runaway slaves through Underground Railroad routes in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Lowell J. Soike’s detailed and entertaining narrative illuminates Iowa’s role in the stirring western events that formed the prelude to the Civil War.

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Buxton

A Black Utopia in the Heartland, An Expanded Edition

From 1900 until the early 1920s, an unusual community existed in America's heartland-Buxton, Iowa. Originally established by the Consolidation Coal Company, Buxton was the largest unincorporated coal mining community in Iowa. What made Buxton unique, however, is the fact that the majority of its 5,000 residents were African Americans—a highly unusual racial composition for a state which was over 90 percent white. At a time when both southern and northern blacks were disadvantaged and oppressed, blacks in Buxton enjoyed true racial integration—steady employment, above-average wages, decent housing, and minimal discrimination. For such reasons, Buxton was commonly known as “the black man's utopia in Iowa.”

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By the Waters of Minnetonka

Eric Dregni

Lake Minnetonka is renowned for its natural beauty as well as the prominent people it has attracted to its shores as a historic site of grand hotels, steamboats, and wealthy visitors from around the world, and as the home of the legendary Excelsior Amusement Park. But did you know that early European settlers to the region faced conditions so dire that they named an outlet of the lake “Purgatory Creek”? Or that a ginseng boom brought slaves to Wayzata to harvest the plant’s roots? Many know that Frank Lloyd Wright designed famous homes around the lake, but few are aware he was also arrested there for living with his mistress and sent to the Hennepin County jail for “white slavery.”

By the Waters of Minnetonka uncovers remarkable and hidden facts about the lake and those who have lived on its shores, from the region’s original Dakota inhabitants to the present. Nineteenth-century plantation owners made Minnetonka into a summer vacation playground for the wealthy, and Prohibition-era battles led teetotalers to hoax Minneapolis newspapers about bloody clashes between preachers and saloon owners.

Eric Dregni, who grew up in Minnetonka, sheds light on intriguing, if at times unsettling, aspects of the lake’s history, challenging myths and revisiting elements of the past that have been forgotten or glossed over. He also relates—and sometimes pokes fun at—the opulent, glamorous, and sometimes raucous moments that have made Lake Minnetonka an icon of splendid resort living in Minnesota.

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Call Me Tom

The Life of Thomas F. Eagleton

James N. Giglio

Call Me Tom is the first book-length biography of one of Missouri’s most successful senators. A moderate liberal in a conservative state, Thomas F. Eagleton was known for his political independence, integrity, and intelligence, likely the reasons Eagleton never once lost an election in his thirty years of public service.

 

Born in St. Louis, Eagleton began his public career in 1956 as St. Louis Circuit Attorney. At 27, he was the youngest person in the history of the state to hold that position, and he duplicated the feat in his next two elected positions, attorney general in 1960 and lieutenant governor in 1964. In 1968, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1987. He was thrown into the national spotlight in 1972 when revelations regarding his mental health, particularly the shock treatments he received for depression, forced his resignation as a vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. All of that would overshadow his significant contributions as senator, especially on environmental and social legislation, as well as his defense of Congressional authority on war making and his role in the U. S. military disengagement from Southeast Asia in 1973.

 

Respected biographer James N. Giglio provides readers with an encompassing and nuanced portrait of Eagleton by placing the man and his career in the context of his times. Giglio allows readers to see his rumpled suits, smell the smoke of his Pall Mall cigarettes, hear his gravelly voice, and relish his sense of humor. At the same time, Giglio does not shy away from the personal torments that Eagleton had to overcome. A definitive examination of the senator’s career also reveals his unique ability to work with Republican counterparts, especially prior to the 1980s when bipartisanship was more possible.

 

Measuring the effect his mental illness had on his career, Giglio determines that the removal of aspirations for higher office in 1972 made Eagleton a better senator. He consistently took principled stands, with the ultimate goal of preserving and modernizing the agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt, his favorite president.

 

Thoroughly researched using the Eagleton Papers and interviews with more than eighty-five people close to Eagleton, including family, friends, colleagues, subordinates, and former classmates, Call Me Tom offers an engaging and in-depth portrayal of a man who remained a devoted public servant throughout his life.

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Calling This Place Home

Women on the Wisconsin Frontier, 1850-1925

Joan M. Jensen

Swedish domestic worker Emina Johnson witnessed the great Peshtigo fire in 1871; Cherokee nurse Isabella Wolfe served the Lac du Flambeau reservation for decades; the author’s own grandmother, Matilda Schopp, was one of numerous immigrants who eked out a living on the Wisconsin cutover. Calling This Place Home tells the stories of these and many other Native and settler women during Wisconsin’s frontier era. Noted historian Joan M. Jensen spent more than a decade delving into the lives of a remarkable range of women who lived during the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. These individuals shared many struggles as economies evolved from logging to dairying to tourism. Facing many challenges, they cared for their sick, educated their children, maintained their cultural identity, and preserved their own means of worship. Entwining the experiences of Native and settler communities, Jensen uses photographs and documents to examine and illustrate the recovered stories of representative but often overlooked women. These stories of individuals together form a substantial history of Wisconsin’s well-known industries, its caregiver networks and schooling practices, and matters of faith and politics. This comprehensive volume brings a deeper understanding of the state’s history through the stories of individual women and the broader developments that shaped their lives.

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Canal Fever

The Ohio & Erie Canal, from Waterway to Canalway

Edited by Lynn Metzger and Peg Bobel, Illustrations by Chuck Ayers

Original essays on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal

Combining original essays based on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal, Canal Fever showcases the research and writing of the best and most knowledgeable canal historians, archaeologists, and enthusiasts. Each contributor brings his or her expertise to tell the canal’s story in three parts: the canal era—the creation of the canal and its importance to Ohio’s early growth; the canal’s decline—the decades when the canal was merely a ditch and path in backyards all over northeast Ohio; and finally the rediscovery of this old transportation system and its transformation into a popular recreational resource, the Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Included are many voices from the past, such as canalers, travelers, and immigrants, stories of canal use through various periods, and current interviews with many individuals involved in the recent revitalization of the canal. Accompanying the essays are a varied and interesting selection of photographs of sites, events, and people, as well as original maps and drawings by artist Chuck Ayers.

Canal Fever takes a broad approach to the canal and what it has meant to Ohio from its original function in the state’s growth its present-day function in revitalizing our region. Canal buffs, historians, educators, engineers, and those interested in urban revitalization will appreciate its extensive use of primary source materials and will welcome this comprehensive collection.

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“Cap” Cornish, Indiana Pilot

Navigating the Century of Flight

by Ruth Ann Ingraham

Clarence “Cap” Cornish was an Indiana pilot whose life spanned all but five years of the Century of Flight. Born in Canada in 1898, Cornish grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He began flying at the age of nineteen, piloting a “Jenny” aircraft during World War I, and continued to fly for the next seventy-eight years. In 1995, at the age of ninety-seven, he was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest actively flying pilot. The mid-1920s to the mid-1950s were Cornish’s most active years in aviation. During that period, sod runways gave way to asphalt and concrete; navigation evolved from the iron rail compass to radar; runways that once had been outlined at night with cans of oil topped off with flaming gasoline now shimmered with multicolored electric lights; instead of being crammed next to mailbags in open-air cockpits, passengers sat comfortably in streamlined, pressurized cabins. In the early phase of that era, Cornish performed aerobatics and won air races. He went on to run a full-service flying business, served as chief pilot for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, managed the city’s municipal airport, helped monitor and maintain safe skies above the continental United States during World War II, and directed Indiana’s first Aeronautics Commission.

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