Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: Walk Tall in the Wind by Dennis Swan

Walk Tall in the Wind is a fictionalized account of the settling of Eaton Rapids in Michigan in the early 1800's.  If you like history, then you will thoroughly enjoy this narrative.
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Simon and Olive Chatfield are Quakers who ran a tavern along the Erie Canal in New York state. When the opportunity arises, they pick up and move to the Michigan territory and build a trading post. Olive is aided in the birth of her youngest child by Indians who live nearby and the family becomes very friendly with them.
The story is told through the viewpoint of different characters and some flashbacks to older occurrences: Simon's experiences in Tecumseh's wars or Olive's ancestor who was a spy in the Revolutionary War. As more people come to the little settlement, attitudes to the Indians change though the Chatfields remain firm friends.
I learned some new bits of history; for example, I knew about the Aroostook Wars, but I hadn't heard of the Patriot War of 1837 and found it very interesting.  I hope the story of the Chatfield family is continued in another book. I'd love to read about what happens to them in the Civil War.



About the Author:

Dennis was born sixty years ago on a dairy farm in Brookfield Township in Eaton County, Michigan on land his ancestors took up from the government. He attended Eaton Rapids Schools and worked the family farm with his father after graduation. Dennis started working at the US Post Office in Eaton Rapids after his marriage to his wife, Kathi. Soon after, they switched from dairy to raising beef cattle. That gave them time to pursue their passion for antiques. They became dealers with booths in several antique malls, as an outlet for the treasures found that they no longer had room for. They soon opened their own shop in the old grist mill in Eaton Rapids. Poor health forced them to close their shop, and retire from the Post Office. Dennis always had a love for history, especially local history. He knew his family had lived in the area for a long time, from the stories he heard growing up. Through genealogical research conducted by Kathi, which is her love, he soon found out his forefathers were some of the first settlers in Eaton County. One was the first lawyer in Eaton Rapids, started the first newspaper, became the prosecuting attorney and went on to be a State Representative. Since Dennis has been an avid reader since a young child and comes from a long line of storytellers, he decided to spin a tale of what might have happened. Using what history he found by researching the local library, he blends together historical facts and fictional characters. With no diaries to read or journals to aid his research, he had to use his imagination to what it was like living on the Michigan frontier in 1835, and what kind of people would have been living there, among the Native American Indians to weave a charming tale of life in the early days of Eaton Rapids.