Thursday, December 18, 2014

Check out James T. Carrier's Books

James T. Carrier is a 94-year-old retired educator from rural West Frankfort who's written a number of books, including the five below. Now for the first time, these books are available here at

I'm running a special of all 5 for $48 which is 20 percent off the price if you buy them separately. Click on this link if you're interested:

Here's a bit about all the books which generally fall under the categories of surviving killer tornadoes, the Great Depression, mine disasters or Franklin County in general.

A Little Bit of Heaven and a Whole Lot of Hell

160 pages. 5.5" x 8.5"
Rev. ed. 2nd printing
Paperback. $9.95
© 1998

A Little Bit of Heaven and a Whole Lot of Hell covers the story of a coal mining village and its people with emphasis on the Great Depression years focusing on the communities known as 18 Patch, Deering City and Caldwell.

Killer Mine Disaster

ISBN 0-9705471-7-X
130 pages. 5.5" x 8.5"
Paperback. $15.
© 2002

Killer Mine Disaster tells the story of the December 21, 1951, methane gas explosion at the New Orient Mine No. 2 outside West Frankfort. The disaster killed 119 coal miners, and remains one of the worst mine disasters in American history.

Killer Tornado

ISBN 0-9705471-0-2
112 pages. 5.5" x 8.5"
Paperback. $9.95
© 1998

Killer Tornado Hits Coal Mining Village tells the story of how the world's largest tornado -- the Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925 -- caused deaths, injuries and destruction in a rural coal mining village of Caldwell, in Franklin County, Illinois, with firsthand accounts of survivors. Contributors include Emogene Moore Swain, Vernon Dotson, Hosea Thomas, Sr., Pauline Kerly Wall, George Hand, Dorothy Stagner Maki, Arlena Stagner Reid, Eugene Reid, Robert Earl Pease, Genieve DePriest Nolen Coar, Ceble Willmore and Annamary Chance Stagner Jent. In addition Edd Wall, Marie Ford Payne and Mrs. Harry Neibel provided additional information.

The book also includes a story of the 1912 tornado that struck near Pershing, Illinois.

Them Good Old Wild Greens

100 pages. 5.5" x 8.5"
Paperback. $9.95

Them Good Old Wild Greens tells the story of "Hard Times" in the mining settlement of "18 Patch" in Franklin County, Illinois. Mr. Carrier grew up in those days and this is his own firsthand account of the struggle mine families had when the mines shut down or remained idled for lack of demand for coal.

Wilderness Survival

110 pages. 5.5" x 8.5"
Paperback. $9.95

Wilderness Survival is a story of how sons of unemployed miners avoided starvation and survived the Great Depression of the 1930s. It comes with practical tips and illustrations to show modern-day readers who to survive in the wilderness as well.

History, Mystery and Hauntings of Southern Illinois

Here's another Christmas idea for those who like to read about our region's supernatural past.

History, Mystery and Hauntings of Southern Illinois pulls straight from the case files of the Little Egypt Ghost Society led by founder Bruce Cline. The book covers their investigations and research of the supernatural throughout the 618 region.

This expanded and revised edition combines the first three volumes of Bruce's books into one. Each county is its separate chapter in this 320-page fully-indexed paperback. It's not too late to get one before Christmas.

Copies can also be purchased from booksellers around the region including the Book Emporium in Harrisburg, the Bookworm in Carbondale, The Country Porch in Marion inside the Illinois Centre Mall, The Buzz in Benton and the new King City Books in Mount Vernon.

I've also got books at GenKota Winery in Mount Vernon, the Dusty Attic in Equality, Harbison's Grocery down in Hardin County, Herrin Drug and Thornton's Market in Herrin, D & E Books in Olney, Shawnee Winery and From The Past Antiques in Vienna, the Rend Lake Artisans Shop off of Exit 77 at Rend Lake, the Little Egypt Arts Gallery on the Tower Square in Marion, and The Artisans Galleria in downtown Shelbyville.

To the north Taylor's Mini Mall in Fairfield carries my titles and the libraries in Flora and Olney have a few books left on consignment from our recent book signings.

I can always be reached at

For a list of all the books available check out the list of books.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Edition of Boy of Battle Ford Now on Sale

For more than a century W. S. Blackman's, The Boy of Battle Ford has served as a classic when it comes to descriptions of antebellum Southern Illinois and as well as life as a soldier during the western campaigns of the Civil War.

Blackman turned 21 just weeks after the fall of Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War. More than four decades later he used his war journals as the basis of his autobiography.

From his boyhood years on the Battle Ford farm in Southern Illinois to his own life and death experiences on the battlefield, Blackman finds the lessons of life in his own struggles for bothy physical survival and spiritual faith.

The new 2014 abridged paperback edition is edited by Jon Musgrave with a new introduction, footnotes and a full index. The 240-page book retails for $18.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Brits Took Revenge 200 Years Ago Today

While we wait for ISIS to figure out which large city they want to target in the United States - Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., it's important to remember that it's not just New York City in 2001 or Pearl Harbor in 1941, that have been targeted by our enemies.

Today, August 24, 2014, is the 200th anniversary of the burning of our nation's capitol by the British in the War of 1812 (and the few years thereafter).

Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post tells the story.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Herrin Massacre Bus Tours Offer New Perspectives

The infamous barbed wire fence inside the Power House Woods where four dozen men were lined up and shot on June 22, 1922. Williamson County Historical Society photo.

After two successful tours in July and a long waiting list the organizer of the new Herrin Massacre Bus Tours has announced four more dates for August.

Amy Erickson of Carbondale, my former intern at the Williamson County Tourism Bureau, and later interim office manager at the Southern Illinois Tourism Development, came up with the idea earlier this year and is operating the tours out of the educational non-profit group CAPS (Connecting All Parents to School) with support from the Williamson County Historical Society.

The dates are this Friday, August 8, which still has some openings; Saturday, August 9, which is full; Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 23. The tours are $45 per person, but there's a Family Friday discount where extra family members can join the tour for just $25. Get your tickets at or call Amy at (618) 751-2924. The price covers the bus tour, admission to the museums and lunch as well as souvenirs and giveaways.

Both tours are the same, but due to parking issues Friday tours start at the Williamson County Airport and the Saturday tours from the Williamson County Jail Museum behind the Marion Civic Center at 105 S. Van Buren St. I, Jon Musgrave, will once again be serving as the historical guide for all four tours.

The bus tour follows the events of the two-day outbreak of violence on June 21-22, 1922, from the ambush of guards and replacement workers at Fozzard Bridge, now under Crab Orchard Lake on the morning of the 21st, to the all-out battle outside the mine later that afternoon that would fatally injure three union men.

The next morning four dozen men inside the mine surrendered with the understanding that they would be marched to Herrin and put on a train. Instead, increasingly larger mobs would stop them on the way into the city, eventually leading to an order to line them up against a barb wire fence and start shooting.

Some got away only to be shot and hung in the Harrison Woods immediately southeast of the city while six others were recaptured and taken to the Herrin City Cemetery where they were repeatedly shot and cut with knives in the presence of witnesses including big city reporters who had just arrived to cover the violence from the day before.

Another 20 men would die that day or later from their wounds received on the death march.

Barring a funeral taking place the bus will stop at the cemetery where recent research and excavations have confirmed the location of 17 of the original burial sites of the victims in the city’s former Potter’s Field in what was then Block 15 in the southeast corner of the original cemetery. Twelve of the victims are believed to be still buried there.

The tour also includes a stop at the Miners Memorial in downtown Herrin with a presentation from the Herrin Area Historical Society before returning for lunch and a tour of the Williamson County Jail Museum where the defendants were held later that year.

Personally, I think it's amazing what happened that day back in 1922, but even worse was the travesty of justice that took place afterwards when two trials ended with nothing but acquittals due to outright bribery of the jurors and the purchase of alibis for the defendants.

That breakdown of the rule of law led to an easy journey setting up the stage for the Klan War and Gang War that followed which eventually left more than six dozen deaths in its wake over the next five years.

One of the July tour participants recently e-mailed Erickson with a review.

"I'm from a coal mining family, a coal miner's daughter, and so connected to coal industry through my husband, my dad and mother's family. We are all involved. A friend read the article, and I immediately called, I wouldn’t be alive without U.M.W.A. It's a continuing struggle. I was enriched by taking the trip. Someone [who] hasn't read the book (Bloody Williamson) would really benefit."

I will also have my books and posters available for sale at the end of the tour or from my website at