The Evening Leader

Our Old Bookcase

- By JOYCE L. ALIG President, Mercer County Historical Society, Inc.

Last week, I wrote about Harrison Frech’s newest book, “Wars, Mobs, Riot, Cholera, Amnesia and Bombing.” I referred to the first three chapters in this book.

This week, I will refer to the second three chapters in this book.

The fourth chapter is “Willshire at War: Willshire, Ohio in World War I, including the Schumm Bombing.” Harrison Frech has the unique ability to grasp individual stories about local citizens and to place those stories within the context of the larger history of Ohio and United States and the world events. This chapter is a reflection of the fear of United States’ citizens of German citizens. Since I grew up in Fort Recovery, I remember my first grade teacher, Gretchen Kolp telling me, as an adult, that their family had to march down Wayne Street and to address the American flag and to state that they were Americans and not Germans! The fear of local citizens of Ger- man heritage was very real. Frech wrote about the fears of Willshire citizens of German heritage and the local results of those fears.

The fifth chapter is “Van Wert County in the Civil War including the Willshire Riot.” The area organizati­on, “Civil War Roundtable Members,” will be interested in this local series of events, related to the U.S. Civil War. Every citizen in Mercer and Van Wert counties should read about this series of local events and local fears, in reference to the Civil War.

The sixth and last chapter, “Mercer County in the Civil War,” presents the larger picture related to events in Mercer County. Harrison Frech’s scholarly research should inspire every local historian as well as every school teacher, and university professor, to document their research with primary research (The historians who do primary research will go to the original source of historical data, instead of “copying secondary references.) All too many “local historians” copy whatever has been written in the past, about a topic. The result is once a local histo- rian copies informatio­n which is invalid, that invalid informatio­n is repeated by every unpro

fessional historian in the future. If any historian copies someone else’s informatio­n, without seeking the primary resource of that informatio­n, those invalid stories are repeated indefinite­ly, and destroy the very purpose of recording local history.

I have the deepest respect for Harrison Frech’s academic research and his ability to

use his broad knowledge of local, state and national history, to weave the stories, to create a readable book for every citizen. Whether a reader “likes history or not,” is not the point. These stories allow us to better understand how we react to stressful events within this two county area.

Contact your local library to see a copy of this heart-touching book.

 ?? ?? Photo provided/Mercer County Historical Society Harrison Frech’s newest history book, last three chapters reviewed.
Photo provided/Mercer County Historical Society Harrison Frech’s newest history book, last three chapters reviewed.

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