Wednesday, September 07, 2016

History books and an historic football rivalry

It's going to be a big day in Chariton for fans of both history --- and Hawkeye/Cyclone football. Rain is in the forecast, darn it. So we'll just have to wait and see how all of this plays out.

The big annual match between the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State University Cyclones is scheduled for Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City and as part of the lead-up to that, WHO-TV will bring its crew to the square in Chariton for an RVTV event that will last from noon until after the 10 o'clock news tonight. More about that a little later.

I'm giving top billing this morning, however, to my friend and cousin Frank Mitchell, who will be signing copies of his newly published book, Locale and Universe: The Shared Story of the Heartland's Lucas County, Iowa, this afternoon at the Chariton Free Public Library.

He'll be in the lower-level genealogy room from 1 to 3 p.m. to visit with all comers and sign books. The cost of the book is $32 (tax included). I'll find out this afternoon how those who might wish to order copies by mail may do so. If you miss him this week, he'll be back on Wednesday, Sept. 21, same location, also from 1 to 3 p.m.

Frank is a Lucas County native and professor emeritus of history at the University of Southern California who retired to Chariton some years ago --- and has been working on this book off and on ever since.

I'm only about half-way through my copy, so will write more about the book itself later on. For now, it's enough to know that this is the first comprehensive and organizationally coherent history of the Lucas County written since 1881, when Dan Baker edited and in large part wrote "History of Lucas County, Iowa," one in a series of Iowa county histories published at about the same time that relied on shared essays to tell the history of the state as a whole.

Histories published since, including the two-volume 1913 "Past and Present of Lucas and Wayne Counties, Iowa," edited by Theodore M. Stuart, although valuable, have had something other than general history as their agendas. The principal value of the Stuart volumes is the biographies they contain --- his history chapters are highly derivative and once the supply of lore from 1881 has been exhausted, superficial.

The Lucas County Genealogical Society's big 1978 history is a wonderful source of information, but is not organized in an especially coherent manner, is not attributed to the authors of its various segments and has family history as a major focus. The society's 2000 "Lucas County Heritage," also a hefty volume, is invaluable for those interested in family history, less so for those interested in general history.

So it's refreshing to have a history in hand written by an historian who works to pull everything together in coherent context, from days of earliest settlement into the 21st century. And Lucas County is very fortunate to have a genuine, guaranteed historian willing to make the effort.


Here's the scheduled for today's big RVTV events on the square, commencing with Lunch on the Square at 11:30 a.m. As you can see, there will be live broadcasts from the Larry Clark Memorial Gazebo, games, entertainment, vendors and much more until roughly 10:30 p.m. Looks like lots of fun.

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