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Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 2 [3] (Summer 1974)

Book reviews,   pp. 38-40


Page 38


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.


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