September 18, 2011

Combining Pennsylvania History with Fiction of J. R. Lindermuth

When I was young (a very long time ago) I used to envy those whose ancestors explored the far west, prospected for gold in California and Alaska and did other adventurous things. In contrast, my ancestors came to Pennsylvania in 1752 and never left. They were content to stay here, farming, working on the canals and railroads, mining and pursuing other mundane tasks. 
I longed to go elsewhere in search of the exotic and the wild. Now, having been to some of those elsewheres, I realize there is so much history, mystery and beauty here in the commonwealth one could devote a lifetime to exploring it. 
Just consider the history alone—Pennsylvania played a vital part in the Revolutionary War and was the site for one of the most pivotal of the Civil War battles. It was the site of the first public protest of slavery in the nation in 1688, the first subscription library (1731), the first institution devoted to science (1743), the first U.S. capital (Philadelphia in 1777), and the commonwealth was the first to pass an abolition law (1780). 
That’s a lot of firsts, and it’s only a smattering of a lengthy list which should make any resident proud. We have mountains which boast as beautiful fall foliage as may be found in the east. There are mighty rivers, deep and cold lakes, forests teeming with a variety of wildlife, and bountiful farm land. 
Not to say everything in Pennsylvania’s history is worthy of applause. Early settlers greedy for land were relentless in driving out the native peoples and the murder of 21 Indian men, women and children in 1763 by a vigilante group known as the Paxton Boys was as atrocious an act of cowardice as any perpetrated later in the west. There’s also the shameful desecration of land and mistreatment of workers by the coal barons here in my own area. Prejudice against later immigrants and various ethnic groups continues to raise its ugly head too often for comfort. 
But, getting back to those firsts, Pennsylvania was the birthplace of a man who influenced such varied literary masters as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. In fact, no less an authority than the Encyclopedia Britannica calls Charles Brocken Brown, author of Wieland, a gothic thriller, the “father of the American novel.” 
Pennsylvania has provided the world with a good selection of other writers of note, including Conrad Richter, James Michener, John Dickson Carr, John O’Hara, John Updike, Michael Connelly, Annie Dillard, John D. MacDonald, Pearl Buck, Dean Koontz, Owen Wister, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Lisa Scottoline, Martha Grimes, Jane Haddam…need I blather on? 
Though I’ve written about other places, all my published novels to date are set here in my home territory. These have included a four-novel police procedural series set in a contemporary Pennsylvania community and a historical novel about life and love in the coal region in the 1870s, all published by Whiskey Creek Press. And there’s fodder for plenty more.

For those who care to comment on this post, I’m offering to draw a winner who can choose a print copy of any of my novels.
Reach me here: 

21 comments:

margaret blake said...

You can add your name to the list of writers from Penn State, John.

I enjoyed reading the history of the state. I have been through it, flew over it and changed planes but have never explored the State.Looks like I am missing out.

Suzanne said...

Nice post, John. I've seen some of PA's natural beauty, and I agree with you. "Early settlers greedy for land were relentless in driving out the native peoples..." could have been written about North Carolina, where I now live. Some things about human nature never change, do they?

Suzanne Adair

Lauri said...

Wonderful post. I was in Pennsylvania a few years ago, and was amazed by the well preserved history everywhere! Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Fran Orenstein said...

Thank you for the wonderful historical facts, many I knew, many I didn't know. As your neighbor, NY & NJ for most of my life, I spent a lot of time in PA. Love the Lancaster/Pa Dutch country and the food. Oh, that shoo-fly pie oozing molasses. Lovely Poconos and of course historic Phila. My kids went to camp in Dingman's Ferry. Paid many a toll to the little old man on the bridge. Great inns and antique shops along the Delaware in Bucks County, and of course New Hope, my favorite place.

Allison said...

The one thing I remember most about PA is the Turnspike. Since we lived in the midwest and my husband's family lived in the east, we made that trip so many times, I don't even want to count.
The state is beautiful, but when it snows - oh, boy does it snow. Loved your list of firsts and since part of my family came from Pennsylvania, I have to claim a kinship with y'all.

Tom and Roxe Anne Peacock said...

Wonderful post, John. I enjoy reading everything you blog.

Diane Scott Lewis said...

Enjoyed the post, and the list of authors. I'm a west coast gal now living on the east coast. My ancestors started in VA and migrated west. My husband is from PA and now my son lives in Western PA with my new granddaughter. We will move there soon. I love the history of this state, and the lush scenery.

J. R. Lindermuth said...

Thanks all.
Fran, shoo-fly pie is among the best of the PA Dutch gifts to the rest of the world.
Allison, I could do without the snow and the cold. But it comes with the territory.
Thanks especially to Annette who gives all 50 writers this opportunity to talk about our special place in the world.

Annette Snyder said...

John, Janet Oakley and blogger arent getting along but she wanted to post so at least consider her for the drawing! thanks time line lady at g mail dot com

historywriter said...

John, I grew up in Pennsylvania --Pittsburgh as a matter of fact -- and though I've been gone many years, when I see low rolling mountains thick with trees, I'm reminded of my girlhood home.

I loved the history of Fort Pitt and Fort Necessity and later learned that my great-grandfather grew up in SW PA. He was a surgeon at the Battle of Gettysburg so I'm drawn to history there too.

And how I can forget wandering under dinosaur bones at the Carnegie Museum or the fabulous library next door? Pennsylvania has old history and its firsts, but there is much more. It's no wonder that I have a protag from PA in my novel.

Here's to this wonderful state.

Debby said...

Unfortunately, I think greed was an attribute of some of the early settlers, not matter what state. Pennsylvania has so much history and so much to appreciate. Thanks so much for sharing.
debby236 at gmail dot com

susan said...

Hi from a gal proud to be living in The Keystone State. I am so glad when I see some one bringing our state into the works. We have so much history around here. I would love to be in the chance to win your book. I am in central part of the state close to Williamsport where Little League Games are famous. In the part where flooding was the worst in decades and so many are still starting over after losing it all. We had to leave our home but came back to a dry house inside Thank The Lord but we had a mess outside. It was within 6 inches of coming in the house. Thanks for such a good interview here. susan Leech garysue@dejazzd.com

Nora said...

I've always enjoyed the beauty of Pennsylvania when we head to Amish country. I have several pictures of vacations there and video. Now you're making me want to search for them. Good job and good luck with your writing.

skystne said...

Hey John, thanks for an excellent piece on Pennsylvania. My mom and I and then my husband and I have explored the Keystone State quite a bit. It really is beautiful. Been to Philly many times as well as Amish country. Great information, a lot of it I didn't know.

Kathy

jrlindermuth said...

Susan,
So glad you came back to a dry house. Many didn't and are still coping with huge problems. The flood was devastating for many; some think worse than '72. I'm not so sure about that.
My dad's cousin, another John Lindermuth, was commissioner of Little League for many years. I have cousins in your area.

jrlindermuth said...

Janet's added to the list, Annette. Blogger seems to be getting worse rather than better.

James Allder said...

Interesting guy, glad I know him. Interesting writer, glad I read him. :)

Debbie Kump said...

What an informative piece! Growing up in neighboring NY, I visited my relatives in Pennsylvania many times, but may have learned more about the history of the state from reading your blog just now! Wishing you and those in your area all the best as you cope with the aftermath of the flooding.

Pauline B Jones said...

thanks for the great info on Pennsylvania. I would love to visit some day!

Fran Shaff said...

JR, Thanks for the excursion to PA. Never been there, but always thought it looked like a beautiful, rich place to visit. According to your post, I'm right! :-)Fran Shaff, http://sites.google.com/site/fshaff

Lisa.M.Miller said...

No better person to discuss and represent PA. Nice piece on our region!