Category Archives: History Scrapbook
Grand Portage National Monument, in northern Minnesota, on Lake Superior near the Canadian border. Grand Portage was the frontier headquarters for the North West Company, trading goods for furs.
Mulliken was still a grain elevator town when I moved here in 1991. Then ADM closed down the elevator, so the farmers now go elsewhere. And this odd building lives on to remind us.
This is a far better book than I expected. While it can be viewed as a biography of Kalamazoo’s founder, Titus Bronson, structurally it’s five short essays exploring aspects of his life and character. Along the way you get a lot of information about the early history of Kalamazoo County, learn a bit about Kalamazoo’s other founders, explore probably more of the history of English Puritanism than you perhaps want, and get a good description of the busiest land office in history. Nicely done.
This is a terrific book. The focus is the interactions between the East India Company directorate (called the Court) and the Parliament’s Board of Control (or, more accurately, the Board’s president), so the emphasis is on the internal dynamics of the both committees and on the ever-changing relationship between the two. This is, therefore, essentially a book about politics, writ large and small.
The Chapman Brothers mass produced similar books for many Midwestern counties by selling subscriptions and sending out questionnaires. If you paid the subscription fee and returned the survey your biography would be printed in a book, which would arrive for you to place on your bookshelf. Chapman’s staff members in Chicago turned the questionnaires into very formulaic biographies, which were gathered into the book in no evident order. The resulting bios are as reliable as their sources–which varies, of course–and as interesting as the information the sources provided. Any impression one might get of local history or local geography is incidental and unintentional. That does not much meet my interest.
This is a short (100+ pages) “as-told-to”, with Haydamacker the storyteller and Millar the transcriber/editor. Both did excellent jobs, and produced an interesting book about the day-to-day life of deckhands on Great Lakes freighters in the early 1960s.
The recent fire at West Michigan’s ballyard set me to searching for coverage of the only comparable event in Midwest League history, the fire at Community Field in Burlington, Iowa, on June 8, 1971. The best treatment I could locate was in the Des Moines Register on June 10.
This article offers a different perspective on the Minnesota events reported in Theodore Potter’s Autobiography, which I’ve recently reviewed here. The “author,” also known as Big Eagle, was an officer on the Indian side during the second battles at New Ulm and Fort Ridgely. Big Eagle talks about the reasons for the war, the tribal politics of the decision to go to war, and gives accounts of the battles he participated in. The narrative generally rings true, and is therefore interesting, but there are some problems.
Potter was a competent writer and a gifted story-teller. His memoir is largely concerned with the years from 1852 to 1865, during which the author joined the California gold rush, took part (after a fashion) in William Walker’s Nicaraguan filibuster, visited New York, New Orleans, and Saint Louis, and took up residence in southern Minnesota. He was a captain in the militia which defended New Ulm during the Dakota War of 1862; later he was a Union officer whose troops participated at the fringe of the Battle of Nashville–mostly they chased, and sometimes caught, partisan guerillas. Some years later he was involved in the apprehension of the Younger brothers gang, again in southern Minnesota.