Friday, July 24, 2009

Herrin Massacre Novelist to Discuss Story Saturday

The Roaring 20s remains a popular subject for both historians and writers. There are a number of projects in the works, some announced, others not. I'm working on some of them, but there are others as well.

Tomorrow, Saturday, July 25, University of Illinois instructor John Griswold will be signing copies of his new novel, "A Democracy of Ghosts", which is based on the 1922 Herrin Massacre. The main character Bill Sneed, is based on his real-life grandfather William J. Sneed, who was Williamson County's state senator at the time and as well as the District 12 president of the United Mine Workers of America.

The historic Sneed was out of town on the day of the massacre, which I'm sure was a calculated decision. According to testimony in the subsequent murder trials, District Vice President Hugh Willis was the instigator of the riot at the power house as he rallied the miners to shoot their replacements. However, Griswold tweaks the history to put the fictional Sneed in the middle of the action.

Griswold will speak about his book at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Bookworm bookstore in Carbondale's Eastgate Shopping Center at 618 E. Walnut.

Scott Doody of Anna, formerly of "The Working Man" show on WXAN-AM is also working on a documentary about the Herrin Massacre. I haven't talked to him for a few months when he came into the Williamson County Historical Museum while I was there doing some research. It's supposed to be ready sometime this summer or early fall.