Local History Books: Discover Something New at the Library!

posted Sep 20, 2011, 12:07 PM by Erica Hanke-Young
A Nickel’s Worth of Skim Milk: A Boy’s View of the Great Depression by Robert J. Hastings
Told from the point of view of a young boy, this account shows how a family "faced the 1930s head on and lived to tell the story." It is the story of growing up in southern Illinois, specifically the Marion area, during the Great Depression. The author also wrote A Penny’s Worth of Minced Ham: Another Look at the Great Depression.

Williamson County’s Greatest Generation by Harry C. Boyd
This is a three-volume set containing 1,500 pages, with more than 500 photographs. Boyd researched and wrote dozens of stories from World War II. His work records many sides and facets of the war, from the perspective of local people. Stories include the Bataan Death March in the Philippines and a survivor from a concentration camp during Adolph Hitler’s reign over Europe.

Slaves, Salt, Sex and Mr. Crenshaw by Jon Musgrave
Learn the story of John Hart Crenshaw and his plantation manor (commonly referred to as "The Old Slave House") in Gallatin County, plus the stories of victims he kidnapped and sold into slavery. There is also a history of the salt works in southeastern Illinois that served as the state’s first industry. As the lessee of the salt works, Crenshaw was the only Illinois resident legally entitled to keep slaves, and he became remarkably wealthy. At one point, his taxes amounted to one-seventh of the revenue of the entire state. Crenshaw owned thousands of acres of land, in addition to more than 700 slaves. The house itself has been recognized for its architecture—it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, and is recognized as a station on the "Reverse Underground Railroad"—the network of kidnappers that terrorized free residents of color in the border states with the threat of capture and sale into slavery. Author Musgrave was a journalist forThe Daily Register in Harrisburg, Illinois, and has also writtenHandbook of Old Gallatin County and Southeastern Illinois andEgyptian Tales of Southern Illinois.

Other southern Illinois topics of interest:

Marion weather and geology. The Marion Tornado of 1982 occurred on May 29, when one of the larger tornadoes in Illinois history, an F-4 (maximum wind speeds 207-260 mph), hit. Ten people lost their lives and 200 people were left injured after the tornado ripped across a 17-mile stretch. The tornado caused between $85 and $100 million in damages. Williamson County also lies between two active seismic zones, the New Madrid Fault and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. Several quakes in the 4.6 to 5.4 range have been recorded in the past decade.

The Herrin Massacre occurred in 1922. Nineteen strikebreakers and two union miners were killed in mob action between June 21-22 at a coal strip mine located between Herrin and Marion.

The United States Penitentiary at Marion opened in 1963.The supermax federal prison was a replacement for Alcatraz. Famous inmates included mobster John Gotti, Native American activist Leonard Peltier and baseball player Pete Rose.

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