Pioneer days conjure up romantic, sentimental ideas of simple living and being close to nature. However, the truth also included lawless, rugged, difficult times. Native Americans and those from Europe mined, traveled, worked, logged, and sailed Lake Superior’s frontier wilderness amid uncivilized criminals, kidnappers, and slavers. Laws were few, enforcement was scarce, violent events were often, and shipwrecks were many. Wonderful life-saving deeds of kindness and compassion are also recorded on these pages as opportunities to be a hero were many.
Consider mining. Yes, rarely paired with pioneers such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, yet it is part of history at the same time. And Lake Superior! So few people understand how cold it is year-round (about 40 degrees) or how many shipwrecks (about 350) have taken place in the deepest waters of the Great Lakes. Before modern mariner tools, sailors had a strenuous, grueling life when pirates were plundering boats. Surviving crashes in winter required ingenuity and persistence unless a body became an icicle. And slavers trafficked women to stockades, as detailed in the book.
Classen does history an excellent service by revealing the truth. Sometimes we think humanity has advanced little. An attitude quickly challenged in these pages. Readers will feel gratitude for all they have today after finishing these tales.
True Tales: The Forgotten History of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Mikel B. Classen
Modern History Press
B09WJMKV12, $5.95 Kindle
9781615996353, $29.95 HC, $18.95 PB, 162 pp.
Carolyn Wilhelm, Reviewer
Wise Owl Factory LLC