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Women as Pioneers of Transcontinental Travel

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Norm has been completing his manuscript for a lengthy new book, Crossing the Continent. The book presents a series of biographies of individuals who over two centuries impacted the development of transcontinental travel in America. A unique aspect is how the biographies are interconnected over time.

Most of the biographies are of pioneering men, but since the last posting on this Blog Norm has added narratives on incredible feats by women—e.g., Sacagawea, the lone woman traveling for thousands of miles with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, providing critical translation and route advice, all while carrying an infant son on her back (shown here); Annie Kopchovsky, who in 1894 left her husband and two children for fifteen months to successfully complete a bicycle trip not only across the country, but around the world; Bertha Benz, who in Germany was driver on the first cross-country trip in the world’s first automobile; Alice Ramsey, who in 1909 had many challenges as the first woman to drive across the country; and even Ellen Church, a pilot who was not allowed to command a passenger aircraft, so instead became the first airline stewardess.These and many other biographies of men carry the intriguing history of transcontinental travel across two centuries.

Norm is interested in getting initial first thoughts from our Blog readers on a revised title for the book: Crossing the Continent: Stories of Men and Women Who Accepted the Challenge of Transcontinental Travel. Feel free to share your comments here or with an email to Norm.

Comfort Tyler and the “Burr Conspiracy”

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One of Norm’s current projects is writing a narrative history of the larger Tyler family, beginning with immigrant Job Tyler, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1638. Norm is uncovering many good stories of relatives of which to be proud, but also some that are more problematic. One of the most intriguing stories is about Colonel Comfort Tyler, a well-respected early settler in upstate New York, who somehow got involved with the “Burr Conspiracy.”

The story goes thus: In 1800, Aaron Burr ran for president against Thomas Jefferson. The electoral votes were tied, and Burr felt cheated when Congress decided to give the presidency to Jefferson. A few years later Burr supposedly planned to get his revenge on Jefferson by establishing an independent country as part of the Louisiana Purchase, with himself as leader of this new rogue nation.

He needed an army, and for some unexplained reason Colonel Tyler felt it was a worthy cause and joined Burr’s campaign. Comfort was put in charge of recruiting soldiers, and he was very successful. Reportedly between August and December 1806 he attracted more than one thousand young men committed to join Burr’s largely disorganized effort.

Ultimately, only sixty or so recruits joined Burr and Tyler on boats headed southward down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.Escaping from numerous traps, they finally were captured in Louisiana. Burr and Tyler and other leaders were charged with treason and brought to trial in Virginia. Surprisingly, the charges were dismissed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall on the basis that no witnesses came forward, and although Burr had clandestine intentions, they had committed no treasonous act. After the trial, Comfort left quickly and returned to New York, where he spent the remainder of his life, but with his reputation tarnished.

This is one of many Tyler family stories I am uncovering and researching for the book. If interested in knowing about this story in more detail, you can read my draft version at: tylertopics.com/comfort.pdf

Book Signing in Buffalo

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The Third Edition of our Historic Preservation book’s pre-release at the annual conference of the Association for Preservation Technology was a veritable celebration for Ted Ligibel, Ilene and Norm, as well as our assistant, Sarah Marsom. We signed every copy as it was sold to a variety of preservation professionals., and were particularly pleased to sell copies to Joe Quintana, from the Guam Preservation Trust, who wanted to share it with his fellow preservationists in the South Pacific. Other books went to practitioners from around the United States and Canada, as well as to our former students. We thank them for believing in us and in the value to them of this new edition.

Note the four of us were proudly sporting pins with an image of the book’s cover. This elicited additional interest from individuals who either lived in St. Louis, where the photo was taken, and those who had worked with Ilene on restoration of the Old Courthouse featured in the photo.

We also were pleased that over 50 individuals have subscribed to our Authors Blog in the last week or two. Stay tuned for more stories on our adventures in writing and publishing.

Peace Corps book now free online

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In the 1960s, Norm served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa. In his 2015 book, The Peace Corps, Sierra Leone, and Me, he recalls many of his coming-of-age stories of being in a totally different culture, sometimes working in villages where they had never before seen a white man. Readers ride with him in his beat-up Land Rover and vicariously share in the insupposable challenges of getting a health center or school built in an upcountry village; of being exposed to tribal rituals of secret societies; or of working with local African officials who still had a colonialist perspective.

Norm is now making a free copy of this book available online at the book’s web site, where you can read a review and, if you wish, buy a Kindle or paperback version from Amazon.

Kerrytown BookFest, 2018

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It is always a pleasure to share a table with other local authors at the annual Kerrytown BookFest in Ann Arbor. This year we featured two of our books—the new 3rd edition of Historic Preservation, and the book on our house, Greek Revival in America. We enjoyed meeting people who appreciate reading and writing.

3rd Edition Arrives

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It is always exciting to see the first copies of a new edition. The authors’ copies of the 3rd edition of our book, Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice, just arrived. The illustrations are better than ever, and additional material has been added to the text, including a history of the preservation movement, many case studies illustrating various approaches to preservation, as well as updates on preservation technologies (e.g., use of drones, 3D printing), and new sections on heritage sites and environmental concerns.

The book is used in preservation programs across the country, and instructors will appreciate the relevance of the updates. And we are pleased to have a wonderful Introduction written by Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Sarah Marsom, 40 Under 40

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Sarah Marsom has been a valuable assistant in developing revisions for the 3rd edition of our Historic Preservation book. She is a Young Preservationist who understands how the preservation movement is evolving into the world of millennials. She especially contributes to our use of social media for promotion of the new edition.

As a response to her work as a preservation activist, Sarah has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic preservation as one of its “40 Under 40” honorees. These 40 individuals were chosen for “their contributions to the public’s understanding of why places matter.” We are proud to include Sarah as an important member of our writing team.

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“Crossing the Continent” book

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Norm has completed the manuscript for a new book titled, Crossing the Continent: Pioneers of Transcontinental Travel. Transportation’s impact historically on the growth of American towns and cities has been more than significant—it has been incredible. America’s rise as a great nation was in no small part due to individuals who developed its transportation systems. The book presents a narrative history of the development of our nation’s transportation systems through the perspectives and activities of personages significant in each historical era. Some of the protaganists are familiar—George Washington as a young surveyor trekking to the new western territories. Some were ruthless in their quest—Thomas Durant, master schemer of the Union Pacific Railroad. Others were larger-than-life figures now largely forgotten—Carl G. Fisher, eccentric entrepreneur who oversaw construction of the country’s first coast-to-coast highway as a way to promote sales of his automobile headlamps. Other biographical sketches illustrate unbelievable feats—Annie Kopchovsky, who in 1894 left her husband and two children for fifteen months to successfully ride a bicycle around the world. The individual stories are intriguing, enlightening, and sometimes unbelievable. A reflection on these individuals and their roles in ‘Crossing the Continent’ provides the focus for this history of American daring and determination.

Norm is now in the stage of final editing, and he is looking for an agent or publishing house for the 85,000 word manuscript.

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Tyler Family History

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Norm has begun work on a new book covering the 380-year the history of the Tyler family in America. His new book will not include the family genealogy; that is already well documented with almost 10,000 names in three volumes. Instead, it will be a narrative of interesting stories about the family history from 1638 to the current time.

A sample of stories includes: derivation of the Tyler surname, saving the 300-year-old Tyler homestead, Salem witch trials of Tyler ancestors, the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb (Mary was a relative),” the Tyler who was involved in the Aaron Burr Conspiracy, a copy of the “official” Tyler Family hymn, a review of the family’s many national reunions, the creation of the Job Tyler Family Association, among many other topics.
As he works on the manuscript, Norm is looking for stories and information from other Tylers for possible inclusion. You can contact him for info or to see a copy of the book chapter outline at: ntyler@tylertopics.com.

Ray Detter Celebration

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Ray Detter has been a community activist in Ann Arbor for decades. As our next door neighbor, we have worked with Ray on many of his projects. This fall we joined a small group of “conspirators” to plan a surprise recognition dinner for Ray. Over one hundred people came to an elegant dinner, with a few speeches by his old friends.

One outcome of that effort was that we raised funds to support the Ray Detter Community Service Award, to be given to a student(s) in an Ann Arbor high school who have been involved with a history project in the community. Ilene and Norm now head this Award Committee, which is enabled to give up to $1,000 each year.