Thursday, August 27, 2015

Benton, Mt. Vernon book signings set for Tuesday

Jon Musgrave at Giant City Lodge last Sunday afternoon.
Southern Illinois historian Jon Musgrave of and Shelton Gang granddaughter and novelist Ruthie Shelton will be signing books next Tuesday, Sept. 1, in Benton at The Buzz during lunch time and at King City Books in Mount Vernon later that afternoon.

Bruce Cline, founder of the Little Egypt Ghost Society and author of History, Mystery and Hauntings of Southern Illinois published by, will also attend the signing at The Buzz.

The first sign will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Benton and the second will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. in Mount Vernon.

Ruthie and I came out with Inside the Shelton Gang: One Daughter's Discovery two years ago after a number of years of research individually, and then working together. She is the daughter of "Little Carl" Shelton, one of the nephews involved the Shelton Brothers gang that ruled downstate Illinois crime from the end of the Prohibition Era to the 1940s.

Since then she has written two small novels that have been inspired by her father's generation in the mid 20th Century.

Dubbed The Untold Story series, Volume 1, Death, Deceit and Discovery introduces the Callahan family, once considered to be the most influential, violent, and prosperous crime organization in the Midwest. Vol. 2, Shadows, Siblings & Suicide picks up the story a decade later when the wrongs of their pasts leads to insanity, murder and suicide in the present.

I will have all of my published books there except the one on the Old Slave House. That one is out of print at the present. What I will have include the following:
  • The Bloody Vendetta of Southern Illinois - Co-authored with Milo Erwin this prequel to Bloody Williamson covers the post-Civil War violence in the region and the first generation of the Ku Klux Klan that wrecked havoc with their enemies.

  • Secrets of the Herrin Gangs - Co-authored with Ralph Johnson, the business manager for Ruthie's uncles in the Shelton Gang in Herrin during the 1920s. At the end of the Gang War he needed to get out of town and needed some money so he went to St. Louis and sold his story to the newspapers that eventually went nationwide in a 10-part series. Half of the book is his insider account of the Klan War and the Gang War of the 1920s and the other half is my research into Ralph's actual identity and criminal history as he was writing under an alias.
I also will have three books that I've edited.
  • The Boy of Battle Ford - Written as an autobiography by W. S. Blackman at the turn of the 20th Century, this book cover his growing up on the Southern Illinois frontier in the 1840s and 50s, but mostly focuses on his time during the Civil War as a Union soldier. I've added a new introduction, footnotes and an index.

  • Handbook of Old Gallatin County - This includes the 1887 history of Gallatin County plus everything we could find from other 19th and early 20th Century history books about the parent county of most of southeastern Illinois. It's great for genealogists. More than 250 biographical sketches are included.

  • Lincoln: Fresh from Abraham's Bosom - This collection of stories told by America's 16th president was first compiled and published in 1864 when he ran for re-election. I've added a new introduction, footnotes and an index.
In addition to all of the above books I will also have James T. Carrier's five books that he's written on aspects of mostly-Franklin County history, though a couple of titles are also of a more general interest.

Mr. Carrier is a retired 95-year-old educator and writer who lives in the county but no longer gets out much. has been distributing his books since last year. His books are as follows.
  • A Little Bit of Heaven and a Whole Lot of Hell - covers growing up during the Depression in a small coal mining settlement.

  • Black Christmas Mine Disaster - focuses on the 1951 Orient No. 2 Mine disaster outside West Frankfort.

  • Killer Tornado - includes interviews with family members and survivors of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado that ripped through Franklin County, as well as an earlier tornado that hit Pershing.

  • Them Good Old Wild Greens - combines an edible plant guide with stories from the Great Depression.

  • Wilderness Survival - combines a practical guide to living off the woods with stories and activities from surviving the Great Depression in the Southern Illinois. 
If you can't make either event you can always order the books here on the website by just clicking the book link on the side, or going to If you order direct all of my books will always be signed.

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