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Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More

Some 150 years after Henry’s trip, his great-great-great-granddaughter, Tracy Lawson, received a typewritten copy of his journal as a gift and almost immediately found herself falling into what became an extensive, diverse exploration of the content and context of the document. Over the years, she delved into archival materials, public documents, genealogical records, family lore, and the social, political, and economic history of Henry s world. Then, 13 years into her research, she along with her young daughter Keri benchmarked the exploration of Henry s journal by retracing his route from southwestern Ohio to northern New Jersey. Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More is a milestone in Tracy’s passionate and still unfolding exploration of the life and times of one of her ancestors a person Tracy identifies as one of America’s Real People.

“Travel diaries are among the most important sources historians have for drawing pictures of the past, as travelers often make descriptive observations of things locals take for granted. Anyone interested in the history of everyday life in the decades before the Civil War will find Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More a delightful read. Anyone on their own journey into their family’s past, struggling to make meaning old family artifacts and documents, will learn a great deal about how to do it by following Tracy Lawson’s journey.” – William Kerrigan, Cole Professor of American History, Muskingum University

 

Awards

Best Nonfiction History, Ohio Professional Writers Association 2012

Five-Star Selection Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews

Selected for Ohioana Book Festival 2012

Although relatively short, Rogers’ diary is a treasure. Although most people forget that Ohio used be part of “the west,” the diary explains in ways Rogers never realized just how “western” his everyday life was. From bad roads, constant tolls, the seemingly constant remarks about feeling ill, to staying at inns and stopping periodically to feed and rest their horses, Rogers’ world is one that is very far removed from our own. His reporting on early Columbus (including a wonderful quick tale of a street fight and trial) to his traveling into western Virginia, which would be West Virginia in a generation, to visiting an arsenal and entering New York City via a bridge designed for both railcars and wagons reveals a world unfamiliar to today’s readers. For that reason alone, it is well worth the read. Along the way, Rogers records his daily activity, including names of people long lost to history. The names included would make for any engaging research to try to learn more about them and their lives. Finally, the second half of the book provides a travelogue, of sorts, of the locations and buildings mentioned in Rogers’ diary. It is fascinating to see how much the world has changed from Henry’s days.

–Nathan Coleman