Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 2  (Summer 1974)
Book reviews, pp. 38-40
BOOK REVIEWS Differences of Opinion CRISIS IN WATERTOWN: THE POLARIZATION OF AN AMER- ICAN COMMUNITY by Lynn Eden; The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Mich., 1972. 218 pp. $6.95. Alan Kromholz was fired as the m i n i s t e r of the Congregational Church of Watertown, Wisconsin on May 19, 1968. This book, written by a young woman who did her research for the text during the summer of 1970 between her junior and senior years at the Uni- versity of Michigan, reveals the disquieting circumstances involved in the dismissal of Rev. Kromholz. A major reason was his interest in promoting social change in a community that was apparently not ready to accept that change. As one Watertown citizen noted: "It takes people a long time to ac- cept the changes and what Rever- end Kromholz wanted to do was to change it too fast. And what Reverend Kromholz did was to undermine the authority of parents in the community. He just didn't agree with our ways and then he took some of the kids into Mil- waukee marching with-what's his name? Oh, Father Groppi, and then the kids came back and told their parents all sorts of things that their p a r e n t s didn't agree with. " There are other voices in the narrative, other perceptions, other opinions. The precocious judgment evident throughout Miss Eden's book is her obvious determination to let the people of Watertown do the talking. The mosaic of their thoughts and opinions, captured in a conversational style, leaves readers to form their own conclu- sions about the justification inher- ent in the firing of Alan Kromholz. The action of this story took place at a time when other events were swirling around us-Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kent State; Civil rights marches in Milwaukee; the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. It was 38 a difficult time for establishing the difference between good and evil- in the pragmatic as well as the Biblical sense. Perhaps that is why there are no certifiable heroes or villains in this book. Only people with deep differences of opinions about morality and the obligations a minister has to his congregation. -A H. Of Time and the River JACQUES MARQUETTE, S.J.: 1637-1675 by Joseph P. Donnelly, S. J.: Loyola University Press, Chicago, Ill., 1968. 395 pp. $8. SETH EASTMAN'S MISSISSIP- PI: A LOST PORTFOLIO RE- COVERED by John Francis Mc- Dermott; University of I lii no is Press, Urbana, Ill., 1973. 149 pp. $10. The Mississippi River tercente- nary is over. A small group of modern dayexplorers has retraced the route of Joliet and Marquette from St. Ignace on Michigan's Up- per Penninsula to the junction of the Mississippi and Arkansas riv- ers. It was a dramatic way to call attention to the origininal explora- tion, to the river which continues to have a tremendous influence on the life of Middle America as it descends from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. Wisconsin readers will be interested in these two books because they contribute to the understanding of the early ex- ploration of the state and the in- roads that the coming of "civiliza- tion" made on Indian society. Father Donnelly's book is a portrait of a man of faith who thought it was his manifest destiny to bring God to the "savages." In August of 1675, on the way back from the confluence of the Missis- sippi and the Arkansas, Marquette observed: "God called me to the Society of Jesus so that I might spend my life working for the sal- vation of the Indians whom He redeemed with His Blood." Marquette, as Father Donnelly religiously points out, was devoted to his work and showed a great deal of physical courage in the face of continual and extreme hardship. He did not save the savages-a visit to any reserva- tion in northern Wisconsin should convince any doubters-but he did participate in an exploration that helped light up the darkened in- terior of the American continent. This biography of Jacques Marquette relys on traditional sources, largely The Jesuit Rela- tions and Allied Documents. Fa- ther Donnelly is effective at weav- ing in other important sources to make a cohesive narrative. He is, however, prone to flights of hyper- bole and scene setting which have questionable basis in the available documents. The result is a sentence like this: 'On a shining summer day, probably in mid-August, 1668, delighted as a schoolboy re- leased for his summer holidays, Father Jacques Marquette, vicar- general of the bishop of Quebec, set out for his high adventure." The discriminating reader will consider Father Donnelly's book on two levels. First, there is the story of a courageous man who died an untimely death a few days short of his thirty-eighth birthday. Then there is the concurrent story of the push of the French fur trade, aided by the Church, into the in- terior of the continent. It was an initial thrust that was to start an irreversible alteration in the lives of the people who already occupied the area. The saga of this latter development is a tremendously im- portant story. It is one that has not yet been adequately told. Like Marquette, soldier-artist Seth Eastman was a pioneer. He was among the vanguard that moved into the upper Mississippi River area as part of the American westward expansion. Eastman, who Prof. McDermott calls 'the first m aster of the Mississippi River scene," was a West Point drawing master who made pencil and watercolor drawings of the river on his way to assignment at Fort Snelling, M i n n e s o t a. His renderings of what he saw are so precise that they can be used today to identify points in the landscape.
Copyright 1974 by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright