Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A must-read: Hidden History of the Minnesota River Valley June 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:51 AM
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Elizabeth Johanneck, a rural Wabasso, Minnesota, native has just published this history book on the Minnesota River Valley.

I’VE NEVER BEEN THANKED in the introduction to a book…until now.

Minnesota author Elizabeth Johanneck publicly thanked me for guiding and mentoring her while writing Hidden History of the Minnesota River Valley. Her just-published, autographed book arrived Tuesday at my home.

The 156-page soft-cover title from The History Press also includes my essay, “Strong Words on Strong Stone at Birch Coulee.”

Beth’s book, as the title suggests, focuses on stories rooted in the Minnesota River Valley. You’ll read about everything from the founding of the Sears, Roebuck and Company to Alexander Ramsey Park to “The Myth about Scalping.”

Yes, some of the topics covered in this history book are unsettling. But through interviews and research, Beth presents the facts as honestly as possible, even if the truth disturbs or challenges what many of us have been taught.

My friend possesses strong storytelling skills that make her book more than a compilation of historical facts. Beth weaves personal experiences into her writing that connect with the history she shares. That personal perspective engages the reader.

Beth, like me, grew up on a Redwood County farm—she near Wabasso, me a bit further to the west just outside of Vesta. We attended Wabasso High School together where we shared a locker. Her down-to-earth personality and appreciation for the Minnesota River Valley area influence writing that is warm and folksy.

Check out Beth’s Minnesota Country Mouse blog, where she says “the ‘hayseed’ in her writing betrays her ‘city-slicker’ aspirations.”

Whether you’re from the Minnesota River Valley area or not, you’ll find stories in this book that are entertaining, poignant, shocking, revealing and, often, thought-provoking.

If you like ghost stories, you’ll appreciate “The Terrible Story of Little Annie Mary,” which tells of a 6-year-old girl supposedly buried alive in 1886.

Black-and-white photos, both current and historic, are generously dispersed through-out this book, adding to its appeal.

For anyone who enjoys Minnesota history, Beth’s book is a must-read. (And I’m not saying that simply because I’m a friend of the author and have a story in this book.)

Beth will be at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at the River Hills Mall in Mankato from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. this Saturday, June 5, signing copies of Hidden History of the Minnesota River Valley. The book retails for $19.99.

She also has a signing set for 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. July 17 at the Bavarian Blast in New Ulm. You may also purchase her book online from major retailers.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling