Archive for the tag 'eaton county'

Portrait and biographical album of Barry and Eaton counties, Mich. by Chapman Bros: a review

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.

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Pioneer History of Eaton County by Daniel Strange: a review

Everyone should read a county history sometime. This one’s structured around identifying the first settlers in each township, and how they arrived in the county; he also discusses early township leaders, school beginnings, and suchlike. There are also stories, digressions, and the occasional poem. A few of the stories are repeated, but in each case the perspective’s changed and the tale with it. All in all, an interesting diversion, especially if you’ve Eaton County connections. The potentially dry material is relieved by the author’s wry humor; he’s particularly interested in conflicting claims about the meaning of “first settler.”

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The Autobiography of Theodore Edgar Potter: a review

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.

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