Friday, 2 January 2009

Excellent New Book On Missouri History

I've written three books on Missouri history and I'm still amazed at how many interesting stories there are still to be told about this state's fascinating past. One of them is the tale of a dedicated Irish priest who set up a colony for Irish immigrants in the rough hill country of the Ozarks.

Mystery of the Irish Wilderness
by Leland and Crystal Payton is the latest release from Lens & Pen Press. The Paytons are well known for their beautiful photographs of the Ozark region, and like their earlier books this volume is filled with them. The text is interesting too, telling of Father John Joseph Hogan's efforts to develop and serve two different colonies in widely separated regions of Missouri, one in the northern prairie, and the other in the Ozarks near the southern edge of the state. The first colony prospered, but the other disappeared during the chaos of the Civil War.
The Paytons meticulously reconstruct what could have happened to the colonists, and found that at least some seemed to have returned to the region after the fighting stopped. Most, however, moved away to parts unknown, so an enduring air of mystery still surrounds Hogan's Ozark colony. To complete the story, the book covers Hogan's rise to become the first bishop of Kansas City and St. Joseph's, and the successful fight by twentieth century preservationists to get the "Irish Wilderness" declared National Forest.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Missouri, Irish-American, or Catholic history. I also enjoyed the Paytons' book See the Ozarks, also from Lens & Pen Press, about the development and reinvention of the rural region into a major holiday center. It's full of images of vintage postcards, a hobby of mine, so it was an easy sell for me!


Glenda Stiles said...

It's good to know that you wrote Missouri's humble beginning. I am planning to make a custom essay about your book if you will allow me.

Sean McLachlan said...


Are you referring to the book I just reviewed or the Missouri history books I wrote myself?

And how am I supposed to reply when you post anonymously?

And why would I or any author want you to write an essay that students could then buy in order to cheat in their class and avoid reading the actual book?

I used to be a college teacher, not to mention a hardworking and honest student, so I really have no patience for this sort of thing.

Go away.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.