Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Press Release

New Book Chronicles Frenchtown Lives & Folklore

Discover life on the Midwestern frontier in this rare collection of fur trading days history and folklore.

By - Oct 18th, 2016 10:45 am
Frenchtown Chronicles of Prairie du Chien: History and Folklore from Wisconsin's Frontier.

Frenchtown Chronicles of Prairie du Chien: History and Folklore from Wisconsin’s Frontier.

Discover life on the Midwestern frontier in this rare collection of fur trading days history and folklore collected by colorful chronicler Albert Coryer, the grandson of a fur trade voyageur-turned-farmer in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, published in the new Wisconsin Historical Society Press book, Frenchtown Chronicles of Prairie du Chien: History and Folklore from Wisconsin’s Frontier.

Coryer soaked up all the tales of bygone times from his parents, grandparents, and neighbors — old fur trade families, Native Americans, French Canadian farmers and descendants — who lived in the city’s Frenchtown area during the late 1800s and early 1900s. In his journals, he recorded their local oral traditions, narratives about early residents and landmarks, stories of interesting and funny events, details of ethnic customs, and folklore. Late in life, this lively caretaker of Wisconsin’s fur-trading past drew a detailed, illustrated map of the area and began to write his stories out longhand.
Edited by coauthors Mary Elise Antoine and Lucy Eldersveld MurphyFrenchtown Chronicles opens a unique window into the rarely-documented times of fur traders and one of their central communities on the Mississippi River, Prairie du Chien. Antione and Murphy add sharp historical context to Coryer’s map, stories, interview transcript, and colorful accounts of life in Prairie du Chien in the late nineteenth century when the Midwestern frontier was undergoing significant demographic, social, and economic change.

Mary Elise Antoine is president of the Prairie du Chien Historical Society and former curator at Villa Louis. She has written numerous articles and books on Prairie du Chien, including two volumes with Arcadia Publishing. She is co-editor of The War of 1812 in Wisconsin, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, Ph.D., is a Professor of history at The Ohio State University whose research focuses on intercultural, interracial, and gender relations on Midwestern American frontiers. She has written and edited four books (A Gathering of Rivers: Indians, Metis, and Mining in the Western Great Lakes, 1737-1832, Native Women’s History in Eastern North America before 1900: A Guide to Research and Writing, Midwestern Women: Work, Community, and Leadership at the Crossroads, and Great Lakes Creoles: A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750-1860) and numerous articles and papers on Midwestern history.

Book Launch, Hosted by Villa Louis Historic Site
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Knowlton House, 109 Blackhawk Ave., Prairie du Chien, Wis. Step into the lives of fur trade voyageurs, frontier farmers, and faith healers, through the colorful storytelling of Albert Coryer, with historians Mary Elise Antoine and Lucy Eldersveld Murphy as they share stories from their work the Coryer manuscripts and Prairie du Chien history, recently published in the new Society Press book “Frenchtown Chronicles of Prairie du Chien.” Hosted by The Wisconsin Historical Society’s Villa Louis Historic Site, the event will include samples of French Canadian food and a cash bar. The event is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow; proceeds from the sale of Frenchtown Chronicles go to the Villa Louis Historic Site and Fort Crawford Museum.

The Wisconsin Historical Society Press has been publishing the best of Wisconsin history and culture, as part of the Wisconsin Historical Society, since 1855

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