Friday, December 26, 2014

John Hogan arrives in St. Louis, Dec. 26th 1848

After two full months' journey from County Limerick, John Joseph Hogan arrived in St. Louis the day after Christmas, 1848. The final leg of the trip, by the steamboat Big Missouri up the Mississippi River, was dangerous enough with the ice flows of winter. More concerning though were the several passengers and crew who died of cholera and were buried on shore where they died. 

As he had in New Orleans after reaching the docks, Hogan stopped first at church to thank God for his safe arrival. Hogan had a specific purpose in coming to St. Louis and he knew this church:
Working on steadily through the ice, stopping occasionally for repairs, maintaining doggedly the purpose to make port, we reached the wharf at St. Louis about noon, December 26th, in eight days from New Orleans, the distance by water being 1,278 miles. Average rate of sailing per day, 160 miles; average speed per hour, 6.1 miles; the same speed nearly that was maintained by the Berlin crossing the ocean. Like a good, God-fearing sailor, I went first of all to the nearest church, the Cathedral of St. Louis, to make my thanksgiving to God for my safe arrival at my place of destination, after having passed through many dangers and hardships.

Next morning, December 27th, feast of St. John the Evangelist, I went to confession, heard mass, and received Holy Communion in the Cathedral of St. Louis.

 Basilica of St. Louis, King, 1951
I had learned from many reliable sources of information that in the far-away Western World, on the banks of the Mississippi, a great diocese was growing up that had immense missionary fields, over which the Church was spreading rapidly. One of my sources of information, the “American Catholic Almanac,” sent regularly every year to my father by his brother, my uncle and namesake in America, gave full description of the diocese of St. Louis and had a well-executed frontispiece engraving of the Cathedral of St. Louis and buildings adjoining it, so that I had become greatly familiar with the place.
The Old Cathedral, St. Louis, 2009 (C. Payton photo)

Saturday, November 15, 2014


This time Hogan's companion on the trail was his mentor and dear friend, Father James Fox, pastor of St. Joachim's church in Old Mines. Hogan was apparently excited by the settlement opportunities he had seen on his first swing through the eastern Ozarks. According to parish records, he returned to Chillicothe October 15 and a month later (Nov. 15) he was headed south once again to ride deeper into the much more affordable real estate of the Ozarks.

Father Fox, a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, shared Hogan’s concern for the waves of arriving poor immigrants who could not afford to establish themselves in this new land, with land or homes or businesses. For three weeks they rode through southeast Missouri.  That they both came from rural backgrounds, with knowledge of agriculture and the kind of land needed to support a farming operation was an invaluable asset in their evaluation of the terrain.

 Arrived at Chillicothe, I corresponded without delay, with my dear friend and worthy brother priest, Rev. James Fox, rector of St. Joachim's church, Old Mines, Missouri, who as I well knew, was deeply concerned for the matter of land ownership and occupancy by Catholic emigrants. The incidents of my late journey, which I related to him, so interested him that he requested to be permitted to accompany me on another such journey, if I should have occasion to make one. I wrote to him to be ready and that I would soon call on him.

        Before many days, and in the latter part of November, we set out together on horseback from Old Mines. Traveling by way of Caledonia and Edgehill, we passed through Centerville the county seat of Reynolds County. Thence entering Shannon County, we descended Blair Creek, remarkable for its alternate limestone and red porphyry hills. Afterwards, we crossed the Current River at the mouth of Jack's Fork,

The Jack's Fork River (on left) flows into the Current. Close to this spot, Hogan and Fox forded the Current in 1857 on their November trip to explore possible sites for a settlement in the Ozarks

thence to Eminence, thence to Birch Tree, thence to Thomasville, thence to Pike Creek, thence to Van Buren, thence to Ten Mile Creek, thence to Black River, thence by way of Otter Creek, McKenzie Creek and Big Creek, through Caledonia and Potosi, homeward. Reynolds County we found entirely unfit for settlement, not one tenth of the land being tillable. Shannon and Oregon counties had much tillable land, perhaps one-third of the whole area, but none of it of prime quality except the river alluvial bottoms. Everywhere through these two last named counties, there was good stock range and abundance of valuable pine forest.

Thomasville in Oregon County is situated in this broad alluvial valley along the Eleven Point River.  

Both Hogan and Fox brought to bear their complete grasp of agricultural and industrial technologies and supremely practical analysis of the opportunities and limitations available.  Hogan definitely intended this settlement to succeed.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

AN IRISH-AMERICAN ODYSSEY by Colum Kenny – New book profiles Irish family’s rise

Last year Colum Kenny, a professor of communications at Dublin City University, contacted us after finding Mystery of the Irish Wilderness, our account of John Hogan’s Ozarks settlement.   We very much appreciated his comment,  Your Hogan edition and your book on the Ozarks are the kind of thing that maintain one's faith in culture and learning.”
Professor Kenny was researching and writing a book about the O’Shaughnessy family who had been parishioners of Father John Joseph Hogan in his north Missouri missionary days.  Of course, we shared our images of Bishop Hogan for illustrations in his book, An Irish-American Odyssey: The Remarkable Rise of the O’Shaughnessy Brothers.
Kenny’s book is now out, published by the University of Missouri Press.
This  exhaustive account of the lives and careers of these sons of Ireland is a fascinating read. Naturally we were particularly intrigued by the intersection of the lives of John Joseph Hogan and those of James O’Shaughnessy and his wife, Catherine Mulholland, daughter of the railroad contractor, James Mulholland.  
On his first exploratory trip to north Missouri, Hogan recounts (On the Mission in Missouri, 1857-1868) his mediation efforts between the construction crews of Mulholland and another contractor named Murphy in Chapter One.
Through Hogan’s frontier years, he was the O’Shaughnessy’s family pastor, marrying, baptizing their children and counseling and praying with them. James and Catherine lived their lives in north Missouri and St. Joseph. Their sons were educated at Notre Dame and eventually made their professional careers in Chicago.
Hogan’s descriptions of the people he met and ministered to paint real life portraits. But until now, we had only Hogan’s accounts.  It was tantalizing to wonder what became of those early settlers, when their and Hogan's paths diverged. It’s not often though that those paths came back together like this – especially in the histories of ordinary people (who are not presidents, kings or generals).  
Tying the priest and family back together is Professor Kenny’s grandfather – Kevin J. Kenny, founder of Ireland’s earliest full-service advertising agency, who met James O’Shaughnessy several times in Dublin in the 1920s. That meeting, the shared professional interests of Kenny and O'Shaughnessy, spurred Professor Kenny into the research leading to this intriguing volume.

AN IRISH-AMERICAN ODYSSEY: The Remarkable Rise of the O’Shaughnessy Brothers is available on

Below is the review I posted on amazon. 
 AN IRISH-AMERICAN ODYSSEY: The Remarkable Rise of the O’Shaughnessy Brothers, Colum Kenny. University of Missouri Press, 2014.
Dublin City University Professor of Communications Colum Kenny has written an in-depth, remarkably detailed account of the immigration, assimilation and prospering of a “potato famine” Irish family – the O’Shaughnessy’s of Newhall, Kiltartan, County Galway.
James Shaughnessy and his brothers, Thomas and John, left the famine and poverty that was mid nineteenth century Ireland to seek a better life in the United States. From their east coast landing, they moved west, eventually settling in north Missouri. There James married, raised a family and eventually became a small businessman in St. Joseph, Missouri. James and Catherine had five sons, two of whom gained national and even international reputations in their chosen professions, and three daughters.
Author Kenny has interwoven the stories of the O’Shaughnessy sons with a wealth of detail of contemporaneous history, politics, and the social and cultural landscape in which this family struggled, achieved and made its mark.  Often he goes from the particular event in the family experience to the larger context of the times – for example, a description of the family’s farm and holdings in north Missouri is followed by a discussion of the concentration of most Irish immigrants in eastern urban settings.
Two of the brothers, Francis and John became respected Chicago attorneys. James O’Shaughnessy started his career as a journalist – among other assignments, writing dispatches from Cuba during the Spanish American War for the Chicago Chronicle – then found his calling in advertising. He became an influential leader in the advertising business, founding and guiding the American Association of Advertising Agencies (known as the 4As) from its inception. James and Francis played important roles in the founding of Chicago’s Irish Fellowship Club, which figured prominently in the social and political life of that city for decades.
Thomas O’Shaughnessy was a stained glass artist, inspired by the Book of Kells and Art Nouveau.  His masterpiece work is still lauded today: The fifteen stained glass windows of Old St. Patrick’s church in Chicago. An Internet search for images of St. Patrick’s will bring up richly colored pictures of these elegant fenestrations.
This is also the story of how advertising became an industry of its own – not the motley assortment of ad hoc practitioners that were the norm at the turn of the last century. This story of the first real generation of Mad Men describes a world of advertising much different from the complex multi-platformed juggernaut we are familiar with today.  James O’Shaughnessy’s passionate belief in the power of advertising to advance civilization reaches what the author describes as “rhapsodic hyperbole,” prompting Kenny to wonder if he’d kissed the Blarney Stone. 
In 1924 Jim O’Shaughnessy toured Dublin with a delegation of American ad men who were attending an international advertising conference in England. They were hosted by the Publicity Club of Ireland.  Among those greeting the visitors was Kevin J. Kenny, grandfather of the author, Professor Kenny, a meeting that in a sense prompted this project. 
In weaving the achievements of the O’Shaughnnessy Brothers into the intricate fabric of the much larger forces of their times and places, Colum Kenny has created a fascinating and informative book.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Having set St. Louis as his goal and destination, John Hogan booked passage from Liverpool to New Orleans in October of 1848.  When he arrived in Liverpool from Ireland, he was unimpressed with the Forfarshire on which his passage was booked.  She was, he said, "a wide, large, dirty, heavy-looking ship" and reports he heard said she was slow. 

Sailing companies of the mid-nineteenth century had not learned - as have today's common carrier companies - the value of fees for service. Hogan's request to change his reservation was accommodated at no additional charge.  "I had no difficulty in getting a transfer to the Berlin," a clipper ship "commanded by Captain Smith, a Boston Yankee.  ...  a good ship and a fast sailor."

From Fifty Years Ago: A Memoir by John Hogan:

Early Wednesday morning, November 8th, I was aboard the Berlin. It was not long before the sailors commenced loosening the ship’s moorings. Soon, by a hawser heaved by a capstan, the ship moved slowly towards the gate of the dock. Outside the dock, a tugboat in waiting took the ship in tow and steamed out into the harbor. In the meantime, the sailors unfurled the sails and hauled the yard-arms before the wind. At once, with sails set, the Berlin moved forward and closed up with the tug. Immediately the connecting hawser was let go from the tug and was hauled in by the ship; then, with parting salutes, the tug fell back, and the ship bounded westward towards the open sea.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

BLOODY BILL ANDERSON'S FINAL BATTLE REDUX - at Ray County Fairgrounds this weekend

Bloody Bill Anderson,whose guerrillas killed more than 100 federal troops at the Centralia Massacre of 1864, will meet his fate once again October 24-26. This time though, the Civil War battle - known as the Battle of Albany - will be at the Ray County Fairgrounds in Richmond, Missouri. Reenactors are gathering. Among the scheduled events:
The Battle of Albany re-enactment followed by a wagon carrying Anderson’s body to the Ray County Courthouse square. 
Events on the Ray County Courthouse square include dragging of the body, and photographs of Anderson.

The Ray County Fairgrounds is at 901 West Royle Street in Richmond, Mo. 64085   

More information on this weekend's event is available on their Facebook page:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

John James Caffrey - pioneer priest in OLD MINES, MISSOURI

In the lovely hillside cemetery of St. Joachim's Church, Old Mines, one headstone stands out because of its size and the story carved in stone.  It's the story of a young Irish priest who fell from his horse and drowned in the Meramec River while accomplishing his priestly duties.

Erected by the Priests of the Archdiocese 
of St. Louis 
in the memory of 
their beloved brother in the 
Franklin County 
who was drowned in the Maramec River 
on the 7th of February 1856 
“The Good Shepherd giveth his life for his Sheep” 
St. John
Requiescat in Pace

St. Joachim's was also John Joseph Hogan's first assignment after his ordination in 1852. Pastor and mentor to the two young priests was Father James Fox, a native of County Wicklow Ireland. Far flung settlers and parishes required arduous travel, mostly by horseback, for the few frontier priests who tended the Lord's scattered sheep. St. Patrick's at Armagh was one such parish that Fr. Fox - and undoubtedly his assistants - served. This more detailed account of Father Caffrey's accident comes from the website of St. Patrick's near present day Pacific, Missouri:  
An illustration of the extremely arduous and sometimes dangerous life led by the missionary priests of the time oc­curred during Father Grace’s administration. While the pastor was away, either soliciting funds or making a retreat, Father John McCaffrey, a young pastor at Richwoods, Washington County, took care of Armagh parishioners. He responded to a call for a priest to visit a sick settler living north of the Meramec River. In attempting to cross the river at a point known as “Withington Ford” his horse baulked (sic). Father McCaffrey was evidently injured in falling from his horse, sank into the river and drowned. A few days later his body was found and brought to Old Mines for burial. He was described by a contemporary as a man of excellent qualities of head and heart, and more familiar than any other of the time with Holy Scripture.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Soon after John Hogan was ordained by Archbishop Peter Kenrick (1852), he received his first assignment – assistant to Rev. James Fox, pastor of St. Joachim’s Church in Old Mines. In Father Fox he found a mentor and lifelong friend. Young Father Hogan worked with Father Fox for more than a year, learning the strategies of a frontier priest – hours and days in the saddle, serving parishes across many counties, ministering to scattered Catholics families who were settling the state. 

Since the mid-18th century, Jesuits and other priests had served the spiritual needs of the miners and settlers, mostly French, in the area of Potosi, Richwoods and Old Mines. Tradition says that there were several log churches in this location before the present church was built. It was dedicated in 1831. The church site itself was sold to Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick, another of Hogan's mentors, for a dollar in 1850. (Yes, the church was built before the Church owned the land. So went life on the frontier.)

Father Fox was the pastor of St. Joachim's from 1852 to 1868. During that time he enlarged the original church building. According to a history of the parish:
On November 12, 1854 the church was blessed and placed under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph by Rev. A. S. Paris, priest of the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of St. Louis, assisted by Rev. J. Caffrey (more on Father James Caffrey in a future post) and Rev. S. Grugan, in the presence of a large concourse of people. It was then reconsecrated by Bishop Duggan on November 15, 1857.

St. Joachim's Church today.  (page 27, Mystery of the Irish Wilderness)

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Thursday, October 9, 2014


About this time of year, in the early autumn of 1857, John Joseph Hogan left Chillicothe to survey the cheaper, government land available for purchase in the Ozarks. Look at a road map today and you’ll realize that there still is not an easy way to cover those 400-plus miles from his chosen mission in Chillicothe to southeast Missouri.  Still he was determined:
It seemed to me to be my duty to do whatever might be in my power, to aid these people to rise from their condition of servitude, to ownership and cultivation of land, so as to secure for them, beyond doubt, a settled and permanent mode of existence, that would accord better with their higher social aspirations and religious principles. This, however, could not be done in North Missouri, where land was held at too high a price. 

Hogan wasn’t one to plunge off without a plan.  He had procured plots and surveys of available government lands in the Ozarks and knew where he was going. The itinerary he lists in his memoir (On the Mission in Missouri: 1857-1868) of his first trip southward is short, but it would have been an arduous journey by steamboat on the Missouri River to St. Louis, then train to Iron Mountain or Frederick Town, then by horseback into the hills and over rivers for several weeks. 

Traveling by way of Brunswick, Jefferson City, St. Louis, Old Mines, Potosi, Iron Mountain and Frederick Town, I halted at Greenville, in Wayne County, where I hired a surveyor familiar with the country. I examined the lands on the head waters of Little Black River, Cane Creek, Brushy Creek, in Ripley (now Carter) county, and entered four hundred and eighty acres in a body on Ten Mile Creek, making arrangements at once to put men thereon, opening and cultivating it. 
With the surveyor I rode westward, across the Current River, by Van Buren, up Pike Creek, thence southward over the great divide east of Eleven Points River as far as the head waters of Buffalo Creek, thence eastward along Buffalo Creek and its tributaries to a ford on Current River. At this place there was a mill and homestead owned and occupied by a man named Appollinaris Tucker; he and his family were the only Catholics known to be residing at that time in that district. At the time of my arrival, Mrs. Tucker was in the last stages of her mortal illness, in which it seemed God's Holy Will that she should linger until her longings could be gratified to receive the last Sacraments; and, as it happened, from the hands, of the first priest known to have come into that region of country. After Mrs. Tucker’s death, I returned homewards, by way of Iron Mountain, St. Louis, and Hannibal, to Chillicothe.
Appollinaris and Ellen Tucker purchased government land in 1854 and 1856 in Ripley County. There is no record of the mill after the Civil War or of what became of Appollinaris Tucker.

Tucker Bay Spring, with 24 million gallons a day, is #18 on the list of Missouri's 20 largest springs. A Google search brings up little information and few pictures.  It's located on Forest Service land in the Mark Twain National Forest in Ripley County and the site is difficult to get to. The spring does not have a dramatic gushing-forth-from-the-rocks beauty like Greer Springs or Big Springs, but rises along the lower one-third mile of an intermittent stream, at the base of a hill, seeming to come from a fault. Other than this account by John Joseph Hogan, there seems to be very little known about it or the people who might have lived by it. Tucker Bay Spring remains one of the mysteries in the region known as the Irish Wilderness.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

150 Years Ago Today – THE CENTRALIA MASSACRE in Missouri’s Civil War

Father Hogan's Missionary Timetable kept him on the road despite the uncertainties of war.  After his harrowing handcar journey through federal lines only two nights before, Hogan took an afternoon train from Mexico to his home in Chillicothe. That train made a brief stop in Centralia. It was the last train through town before Bloody Bill Anderson's Confederate guerrillas attacked. Hogan wrote of his near-miss of the Centralia Massacre in his memoir, On the Mission in Missouri, 1857-1868.

      The train from St. Louis arrived in due time at Martinsburg Station, and having taken a seat in one of the coaches, I was soon reversing the journey I had made two nights previous on the handcars. Nothing unusual transpired on the way until we had reached Centralia, where, as the train was passing out from the Station, a troop of horsemen, moving rapidly across the prairie north of us, came in sight, halted, and quickly formed a line facing the train. Knowing well from their appearance, and as they wore no uniform, that they were guerillas, we feared a volley from their guns every moment. In anticipation of this, some federal soldiers who were aboard the train, brought their muskets to a ready to return the volley. But there was no firing, however; the train having passed quickly out of range. These armed horsemen were, no doubt, outposts from Bill Anderson’s guerillas, four hundred strong, then encamped in the woods and ravines in sight of Centralia, and waiting for an opportunity to attack some passing train.
     The ill-fated train that the attack fell on was the first following the one I was on. It came along the next day at noon. As it approached the Centralia Station, the guerillas with savage yells rushed out from their hiding places, and throwing obstructions on the track, commenced firing on the train which had to stop. Then the robbing began. Money, gold watches, jewelry, were dragged off the persons and pulled from the pockets of the passengers, men and women, indiscriminately. The express safe was broken open and rifled. Packages and boxes of express goods, and trunks were broken open and emptied of their valuables. A number of federal soldiers on the train were ordered out, put into line, and shot dead on the spot. A major of the federal army commanding one hundred and fifty mounted men, sallied out from a neighboring military post to give battle to the guerillas. These being vastly in majority and likewise better armed and equipped, fell upon the federals and slew them almost to a man. The railroad train, depot, and cars, were fired and burned.
     Never was there a more heart-rending scene of carnage and devastation; and for the like of it, for cold-blooded cruel atrocity, we look in vain in the annals of military history, even of savage nations. Had I waited or been delayed at Martinsburg or Mexico for that train, and had the federal military passes that I carried, been found on me, which certainly would have happened, as the pockets and pocket-books of all passengers were searched, there is no doubt whatever that I would have shared the fate of the poor fellows who fell on that occasion. Ever and always has the hand of God seemed raised over me, to protect me from otherwise unavoidable disaster and danger. To God’s infinite mercy I owe my life saved hundreds of times.

According to the Wikipedia article on Bill Anderson:
At Centralia, Anderson's men killed 125 soldiers in the battle and 22 from the train in one of the most decisive guerrilla victories of the Civil War. It was Anderson's greatest victory, surpassing Lawrence and Baxter Springs in brutality and the number of casualties

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

150 Years Ago Today: Through the night on a railroad handcar through Civil War military checkpoints in Missouri

2014 marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Mostly we commemorate battles and troops and armies, but the Civil War in Missouri was a tumultuous, uncertain and brutal affair – with so many unknowns. Beyond battlefields, families and communities tried to carry on life and hope, but the battle sometimes came to them too.

One hundred and fifty years ago tonight, a young pioneer priest in north Missouri sought the help of railroad men and their handcars to carry him to his scheduled meeting with parishioners. To serve the spiritual well being of Catholic settlers in north Missouri, Father John Hogan had set a schedule for saying Sunday Mass in his widespread parish. His “Missionary Timetable” put him in one of five communities every week.  Making his appointed rounds was challenging enough in the best of times.  But 1864 was not the best of times.  The Civil War made traveling difficult and dangerous, but he kept his appointments

The night of Saturday, September 24, he was delayed by an urgent call to the bed of a dying man, a call he could not refuse. The last train from Macon City had departed when he returned to town but he was committed to Mass the next morning in Mexico, sixty miles away.  He recounts his harrowing trek in one of his memoirs, On the Mission in Missouri: 1857-1868 

 A PERILOUS NIGHT – September 24, 1864
The sick call attended, I returned to Macon City about sunset, with the grim determination on my features to make a night journey by hand car to Mexico, sixty miles distant. I knew that I could depend on the railroad section men to carry me, by successive relays from place to place, over the distance. The Macon City section men, informed of my purpose, although tired after the day’s work, hastily partook of supper, and well oiling the heavy machinery of their hand car, put it on the track and put me on it with them, and then we were away, speeding southward on our journey. In an hour we had passed over their section of the road, ten miles to Jacksonville. The Jacksonville men soon had their handcar on the track, and we rode on it, in an hour, ten miles to Allen, which place is now called Moberly. The Allen men made their run of ten miles in an hour to Renick. The Renick men, asleep when we called on them, were soon up and out on the track, and away on the course.

Current road map of Missouri 
 The north-south railroad line Hogan took that night is no longer there, but the towns he names still line Highway 63. The Kansas City Southern now crosses Missouri east to west along the last miles of his journey.
     Instantly, in the flash of our headlight lantern, we saw armed men ahead of us, with leveled revolvers calling us to a halt. We halted. A number of them mounted our handcar, and with a harsh command to us from their captain to go on, on we went. They stayed on our handcar for several miles, not saying a word the while. Again the captain cried, halt. We halted. They alighted, and ordered us to go on. We went on, glad to be free, not knowing whether they were friends or foes who had pressed us into their service. As they wore no uniforms we conjectured they were guerrillas, probably belonging to the band that had robbed Huntsville in that neighborhood the day previous, and now very likely reconnoitering the federal force encamped at Sturgeon, some miles before us.
1904 transportation map of Missouri shows the Wabash Railroad running east and west through the state, along part of Hogan's route that night.     

We went on to the Sturgeon outposts, where we were halted by the pickets, and by them taken to camp headquarters, where, having given satisfactory account of ourselves, we got a written order to pass through the federal lines and beyond the camp. It was now midnight, and there yet remained twenty-two miles journey before us. The next relay of men took me eight miles, to Centralia. The Centralia men, aroused from their slumbers, soon had their handcar on the track, and with them I proceeded over the intervening distance, twelve miles, to Mexico; where, arrived at half past two o’clock Sunday morning, I was once again, as at Sturgeon, halted by the federal pickets, and by them taken to camp headquarters, where, having satisfactorily accounted for myself, I was again furnished with a military pass to go through the lines. I now had on my person three federal military passes, the first one having been given me a considerable time previous by Provost Marshal General McKinstry, of St. Louis, as a necessary condition to pass beyond the lines of that city.
Father Hogan met his schedule that difficult Saturday night.  His return journey, a couple of days later, would bring him even closer to renegades - passing through Centralia just ahead of Bloody Bill Anderson and Quantrill's Raiders.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

THIS OLD WORLD by Steve Wiegenstein - a Review

Utopian communities – designed to live a philosophy, often using experimental models of governing, wealth sharing, and re-defining the relationship between the sexes – were not uncommon in the nineteenth century. states that 80 such communities were founded in the 1840s alone.  Daybreak, Missouri, setting of This Old World, could have been one of them.

Steve Wiegenstein’s new historical novel propels the reader through the passions and tragedies of this fictional, but very convincingly real, experiment in the Ozarks wilderness. As the reader advances deeper into the lives and events of the citizens of the small Ozark town of Daybreak, each short chapter ends with an enticing lead-in to the next.  “Just a few more pages tonight…”

The “situation report” of this second novel in the Daybreak trilogy comes in Chapter Two when James Turner, who has returned a changed man from his service to the Union, mulls over their rocky descent from idealistic, hopeful community that would lead the way to a new, better social order. Their once bright optimism now "seemed like a relic from an antique time." The ravages of the Civil War has left them struggling to survive the failings of human character as well as the brutalities and privations of warfare – military and guerrilla.

Wiegenstein has put faces and strong characters to the tantalizing questions of history: who were the people beneath the tombstones of a country graveyard?  Who were the individuals who filled the ranks behind the generals, preachers, politicians who shaped history’s larger events?  Who tilled the soil, built the buildings, ground the wheat of the utopian communities? How did they live their lives? What kept them going?

I was sorry to encounter one character who was an embittered survivor of a real Missouri pre-Civil War utopian experiment. Still, his bad behavior begs the question – was he always that way or did the brutal Civil War, the loss of wife, family and settlement make him so?  His pre-Civil War home, Father John Joseph Hogan’s Irish Settlement in Oregon and Ripley counties (now included in the National Wilderness system as the Irish Wilderness) was not fiction. It was a real community for a few years before the Civil War, but failed because of exterior forces – the Civil War.

I read This Old World without having read the first volume of the trilogy, Slant of Light. However, Wiegenstein’s subtle references to the earlier time and past relationships are woven skillfully into this new volume so new readers are not left in the dark, but are enticed to go back to flesh out the original inspiration for Daybreak and make acquaintance with its young and hopeful leaders in the first volume.

This Old World is available on

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Fifty years ago today, on September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law after more than sixty drafts and eight years of work. When Johnson signed the act, he made the following statement: "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." 

Nearly twenty years later, March 27, 1984, 16,500 acres of rugged, wooded land between the Eleven Point and Current rivers in Oregon and Ripley counties in the Missouri Ozarks were “designated as wilderness and shall be known as the Irish Wilderness.”

The inclusion of the area once known as Father Hogan’s Irish Settlement was not done without controversy. Mystery of the Irish Wilderness outlines the competing camps (Sierra Club and environmentalists vs. local landowners) and their arguments that supported or opposed its inclusion. 

See more photos of the Irish Wilderness on our Facebook page:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Osage Delegation meets with Pres. Calvin Coolidge

Press Photo, 8 x 10, dated January 23, 1924 (by UNITED)

Official caption pasted on the back of photo:

The delegation of Osage Indians, in the Capital seeking additional allowances from their government held incomes from oil lands, call at the White House and pose with President Coolidge.

Unfortunately the caption does not identify any of the Osages in the photograph. We wonder if the man on the far left is not Chief Bacon Rind (see previous posts: ). We welcome confirmation of that guess or any identification of others in the photo.

Money generated by the sales of drilling rights had made enrolled Osages “probably the wealthiest people on earth” (New York Times November 18, 1898). Since 1897, oil wells have been drilled in Osage County, Oklahoma. With extraordinary foresight, the tribe had reserved subsurface mineral rights even though the land had been allocated among the 2,229 enrolled Osages. . . . . By the 1920s, those Osages who owned headrights, or shares based on their or their ancestors’ listing on the official rolls of 1906 had become rich from oil revenues.” (page 280, Damming The Osage)

Note the peace medals the two Osage men wear. Genuine medals today are quite valuable, but there are a lot of copies. The otter skin ‘bandeaus’ they wear are characteristic Osage head wear.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

TWO LAKES - The Artificially Shallow and the Naturally Deep

July 20, 2014: The last Sunday in Colorado, we made a round trip drive along Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grand Lake.

Grand Lake - elevation 8,367 feet; formed by glaciation 30,000 years ago; estimated depth, 265 feet.
Largest natural lake in Colorado and headwaters of the Colorado River
Grand Lake, Colorado: Largest natural lake in Colorado and headwaters of the Colorado River

July 27, 2014: Back home in Missouri, we made a Sunday drive to the Warsaw area and Truman Dam and Reservoir.

Truman Reservoir - elevation 706 feet; formed by the Corps of Engineers in 1979; average depth 22 feet.
Truman Reservoir on the Osage River: purpose - flood control, hydropower, recreation
Truman Reservoir on the Osage River: purpose - flood control, hydropower, recreation
Mountain lakes are commemorated in paintings, promoted on postcards and praised in poems. One could draw the conclusion that in areas of high relief, lakes are more successful. Even artificial lakes built for both flood control and hydropower purposes are more effective in mountainous areas. Blocking prairie streams with relatively gentle relief - like the Osage and South Grand rivers - creates inefficient flood storage and minimal hydropower possibilities. One would think the Corps of Engineers would have realized this. Actually - they probably did, but they were being incentivized by construction companies and encouraged by delusional local advocates and politicians. Today they would never undertake a marginal project like Truman Dam and Reservoir. Lessons have been learned ... at least we like to think so!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Osage River Network tweeted our video on Lock and Dam No. 1

Saturday, May 24, 2014

WORLD TURTLE DAY - May 23, 2014

Sea turtles, soft shells, red eared sliders, basic box turtles - rare and endangered or common - they are the oldest species of reptile (see Wikipedia on turtles) ... and now they've got their own day!  Granted World Turtle Day was May 23 (yesterday) but that's no reason not to continue the celebration. And it's spring and turtles are on the move ... often in dangerous territory as they try to cross roads, even busy highways, to get to the other side. Drivers, please be aware!

Releasing Appollinaris, our Irish Wilderness turtle, to a safe environment

That is how we found a baby turtle crossing a road when we were in Ripley County researching Mystery of the Irish Wilderness ... In fact we were looking for Tucker Spring where John Joseph Hogan and a surveyor had forded the Current River on his first exploratory trip to the Ozarks in 1857.  His memoir describes a mill at that ford owned by Appollinaris Tucker. Sadly, Mrs. Tucker was on her deathbed:

At this place there was a mill and homestead owned and occupied by a man named Appollinaris Tucker; he and his family were the only Catholics known to be residing at that time in that district. At the time of my arrival, Mrs. Tucker was in the last stages of her mortal illness, in which it seemed God's Holy Will that she should linger until her longings could be gratified to receive the last Sacraments; and, as it happened, from the hands of the first priest known to have come into that region of country. After Mrs. Tucker’s death, I returned homewards, by way of Iron Mountain, St. Louis, and Hannibal, to Chillicothe.
(Mystery of the Irish Wilderness, page 25)

Appollinaris and Ellen Tucker purchased government land in 1854 and 1856 in Ripley County, Missouri. Presumably, Ellen was Mrs. Tucker, to whom Father Hogan administered the Last Rites . . . There is no record of the mill after the Civil War or of what became of Appollinaris. Tucker Bay Spring, a large (24 million gallons a day) but curiously unstudied spring, still flows into the Current River. 

Named in honor of the former mill owner, we let  our Appollinaris grow until large enough to take care of himself and then sent him on his way.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review of THE SCARS OF PROJECT 459: The Environmental Story of Lake of the Ozarks

Pollution at Lake of the Ozarks, complicated by denial and cover-ups

Naturally environmentalists are more concerned about the degradation of rivers, especially if they cut through uninhabited, scenic country, than a reservoir whose shores are lined with condos and whose waters are whipped to a froth by cabin cruisers. THE SCARS OF PROJECT 459, journalist Traci Angel’s lively account of water quality problems at Lake of the Ozarks, reports that when concerned citizen Barbara Fredholm contacted the Sierra Club to start a local chapter she was told, “the Lake of the Ozarks is a lost cause.”

459-bookThe Lake’s 55,000 acres of murky Osage River water is held back by Bagnell Dam, which was closed in 1931.  Ostensibly, Project 459 was to supply hydropower to lead mines in eastern Missouri, which were in a downward spiral of operation like all American industries at the beginning of the Depression.  The financing and justifications of Lake of the Ozarks were scandalous.  Two out of three of the drivers of the scheme ended up doing time in federal penitentiaries. The Lake’s origin smells like Polanski’s Chinatown, but without the murders and incest

Today, certain coves at Lake of the Ozarks stink from time to time, polluted by inadequately treated human and animal waste. The politics of dealing with the problem are complex, but driven more from old-fashioned self-interest than out and out corruption.  Still, this book reveals a pattern of inadequate response to a real problem.

It is understandable that the Sierra Club would have a minimal interest in an aging impoundment owned by a power company that is overbuilt and under-regulated, but the book finds the behavior of some politicians and government agencies unforgivable. In 2009 the Missouri Department of Natural Resources delayed releasing until after Memorial Day a report that had found dangerous levels of E. coli bacteria in popular swimming coves, fearing the tourist season would be harmed. The press ran with this story and it became a scandal. Heads rolled in Jefferson City.

Unfortunately, the lesson learned, Angel found, was that now our political and regulatory agencies run and hide when queried about water quality problems.  When she sought an interview with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, she was told in an email: “We understand that the University of Arkansas Press has contracted with you to write this book, which will be sold for a profit. Given that we are a public agency supported by tax dollars, we have determined that it is not an appropriate use of limited staff time to participate in these types of interviews.”  The implication of such a policy pretty much shuts down the publication of books, newspapers, radio, television and magazines, as they are all “sold for a profit.”  Further, such a policy would shield from public scrutiny information derived from publicly funded research

When she tried to get information from Governor Jay Nixon she was told to check in with the Department of Natural Resources and “insofar as making the Department available for interviews, I believe the Department of Natural Resources is in the best position to make the call on that and I won’t be compelling them otherwise.”

So who will tell the truth about the environmental problems of a geriatric reservoir?  Actually, the author found a scattering of local residents, business people and a few politicians and bureaucrats who do approach the problem straightforwardly.  Apparently Angel herself is part of the American tradition of muckraking journalists – and there’s some smelly muck to rake down there in Lake of the Ozarks.

Modified landscapes, like dammed rivers, are still environments that can be further neglected and abused. Traci Angel does, by the way, point out some outstanding natural features like the spectacular Ha-Ha-Tonka State Park which is intelligently managed by a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources which dropped the ball on the pollution issue.

Lake of the Ozarks isn’t a lost cause but its heritage of lies and hype continue to plague its management.

The book is available at

Review of THE SCARS OF PROJECT 459: The Environmental Story of Lake of the Ozarks

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What did Bishop John Joseph Hogan look like? CORRECTING THE RECORD

It’s time to set the record straight. A drawing of a seated, slightly slumped and rather – shall we say – out of shape-looking cleric was once identified as John Hogan by a Kansas City newspaper in the first quarter of the 20th century. 

We contend that early typesetter/caption-writer got it WRONG.  BUT the image and its egregious mis-attribution has persisted for a century.  This slumped and tired image has shown up in books and in magazine articles about the Irish Wilderness, the Irish experience in Kansas City and histories of the “churching” of Missouri. It’s time to clear that up.

Every description we’ve read describes him as tall and trim, an athletic, vigorous and fit man even late in life.  His official portraits show him sitting erect, trim and formally posed.

Photogravure portrait of Hogan from the 1889 "Illustrated History of The Catholic Church in the United States." Bishop Hogan remained a tall, slender, erect figure throughout his life. There is no mention of horseback riding in his later years (as he did during his missionary years), but his frequent five and six mile walks were duly noted by reporters.

Bishop Hogan was a favorite of reporters looking for comment on the news of the day, or just a feature story in a slow news cycle. In a 1906 profile of Hogan, The Kansas City Star noted:
In spite of his age, his tall form is erect and his eye flashes as it did fifty years ago. … Every afternoon he walks from four to six miles. He rides to the end of the car line or to some point upon it and walks back. … The bishop’s tall figure is a familiar one upon the streets. He wears always upon his walks a low-crowned, broad brimmed black felt hat, a long black coat… He walks slowly, deliberately, generally with his hands clasped in front and a meditative look upon his face.
(emphasis - underlining - added by me)

Silver anniversary cabinet card of Bishop Hogan, 1893.  (Mystery of the Irish Wilderness, page 123)

 When Hogan returned to Kansas City from his yearlong sabbatical in Ireland in 1895 a newspaper reporter described him at his arrival at Union Station:
Finally a man well advanced in years but with erect figure and eyes that flashed with pleasure as he saw the assembled host, stepped from the train.
Kansas City Journal,  Feb. 21, 1913, included this in the much longer account of the bishop on the occasion of his death:
Never was there a man more willing to give audience to the griefs of others than was Bishop Hogan. A moment after a visitor had been ushered into the big parlor of the episcopal home, with its old fashioned furniture, the large oil painting of the bishop on one wall of the room, the old books in the bookcases—the bishop would appear in the doorway and with that earnest look on his face that was so characteristic he would inquire:
          Well, my good friend?
Then he would listen to the story there was to tell or give his advice upon the many little troubles—or big ones—as the case might have been. In spite of his age, there was always that earnest expression, that tall, erect form and those eyes, flashing as they did fifty years ago.
. . .  the bishop never let business interfere with his regular afternoon walk. Then he would ride to the end of a car line and walk back—sometimes five or six miles.
With such reports and with the evidence of his official portraits, it seems most likely that the sketch so often identified as Hogan is not the Bishop himself.  So what would John Joseph Hogan himself think of this mix up? Given his self-effacing sense of humor, he would probably be amused!

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Just ran across this scan of the 1875 Cram's Missouri map showing New Ireland's (purported) location.  Keeping in mind that J Highway today runs along the Ripley-Oregon county lines, you can see that this location is very near the present day site of Handy, MO.

NOTE: We have special reduced prices on all our books right now.  Check it out at our website: