Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting Places in the Old Midwest

Somewhere Bill Bryson writes that Midwesterners are never happier than when they're arguing over how to get from point A to point B. But it's easy to forget how recent is our ability even to do that!

Juliette Kinzie's Wau-Bun: The "Early Day" in the North-west recounts more than one trip between central Wisconsin and Chicago in the early 1830s where their party spent significant time being completely lost, no cabins in sight, and low on food.

My son's new compilation of Selected Readings on the Life and Work of Frances Ann Wood Shimer includes her tales of travel to Mount Carroll (Carroll County), Illinois in the early 1850s, when the train west of Milwaukee stopped at Janesville, and nobody in Freeport seemed to know even where Mount Carroll was!

Travelers' accounts are valuable supplements to history, among other things because they mention facts that we want to know but the residents just took for granted.

Harold Henderson, "Getting Places in the Old Midwest," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 28 January 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Geolover said...

X decades ago we were soaking in the early Fall glories of the Blue Ridge. As the sun's low angle shot through a last burst of orange, we got off the highway to find a directory-listed motel. We stopped to ask a local gent how to get there. His description began, "Well, go up here to Frank's place and take a right . . . ." but he finally concluded "nope, you can't get there from here!"