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Simon Shands

Simon Shands:
With the sudden death of the evil Fillmore P. Shakely aka Millard P. Shands, his much cleaner and respectable appearing son, Simon, takes over the crime empire turning it into a outwardly legitimate business. It is Simon and his less respectable colleagues who will lead the Shakely/Shands crime empire into the twentieth century and Book Eight, The Chief Read More 
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Doc Rivard

Ol' Doc
Doc Rivard:
Old Doc is a combination philosopher, realist, historian, healer, and drunk. He is also fictitious and as mentioned many times, not related to any of the other legions of French-Canadian Rivards. Doc is always around to save a life, stave off a plague, perform a new procedure (Caesarian section), comfort a friend or patients loved one and close the bar. He has also saved me during dry times in my writing. Read More 
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St. Clair Flats

Arial view of St. Clair Flats
Saint-Clair Flats:
No book about French-Canadian-Detroit families of this era would be complete without a tale or two set in this area of marshy islands at the mouth of the St. Clair River as it empties into Lake St. Clair. Duck hunting and fishing are legend particularly around Harsens and Walpole Islands. My cousin, Earl Brown, owned and ran Brown’s Tavern on Harsen’s Island where it remains today. The First Nation Reserve of Walpole Island includes seven other islands and remains unceded native land. It has long been a haven for fishing and hunting guided by local residents and contains the burial place of Tecumseh. Read More 
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Detroit becomes a city

Detroit 1886
War Then Peace:
At the end of the war, the Detroit area grew. From 1870 to 1900, the population grew almost four-fold, from 79,577 to 285,577! Vernors, Scripps Newspapers, Sanders, J.L. Hudson and S.S. Kresge were founded. Industry also bloomed with three separate stove works, Eureka Iron Works, Ferry Seed Company, Davis Refrigerator Cars, Park Davis and the telephone company all appeared during this time, pulling the boys from the farms into the city. As a result early labor organizations began to form along with the famous struggle between labor and industry which will follow the city to the present. Read More 
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The Witch of November

Sinking of the Morell
The Witch:
In the post war era, great lakes shipping boomed, to a large extent from the iron industry with increased voyages to Lake Superior and Duluth. Storms in the greatest of the Great Lakes are common and legendary, and the storm of November 1874 was a whopper. The sinking of the Morell and François-Xavier Salgat was a story too good to pass up. It put me in mind of Gordon Lightfoot’s famous ballad about the Witch of November. Hence the title of Book Seven. Read More 
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Michigan Black Regiment

102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops (from Detroit)
George de Baptiste was a driving force of the Underground Railroad and active member of the Black Baptist Church of Detroit in Book Six, De Baptiste was active with William Lambert in developing the 1st Michigan Colored Infantry. With the help of Henry Barns, editor of the Detroit Tribune, the organization of nearly 900 men was drawn from Detroit and Ontario from where many former runaway slaves returned to the United States to fight the Confederacy. In 1863 they trained at a farm in Detroit and later became known as the 102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops. They lost 10 percent of their troops fighting the Confederacy in the south in 1864. Read More 
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Detroit in the Civil War

George Armstrong Custer
The Civil War in Detroit:
The story of the Detroit regiment comes from the historical record (with some romance and intrigue added by yours truly). Most of the names are accurate, like Horace Dodge, Louis Kreis, Napoleon Trombley and George Armstrong Custer, who did graduate at the bottom of his class at West Point, and whose leadership at Gettysburg, was more successful than his later adventure at Little Big Horn. More on Louis Kreis next week. Read More 
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A secondary venue at the beginning of book 7 is Charleston, South Carolina where a group of wealthy slaveholders meets to discuss policy at direct odds with northern abolitionists in Detroit. The thread between these two poles is the notorious, one-eyed, Fillmore P. Shakley, former runaway slave catcher turned black marketer and purveyor of all things illegal, immoral, and profitable. Read More 
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Detroit Farmer's Market and the Civil War

Detroit Farmer's market, 1880 (roof added after 1860)
The story opens in the historical farmer’s market located at what is today Campus Martius and Cadillac Square. For generations this was the place for the French farming families to sell their wares, legal and otherwise, and for the community to buy them. It was also the place to go for the latest news, and for the French-Canadian Detroiters, the place to catch up on and spread gossip. As the story opens, in November of 1860, the topic du jour is more global than usual, the election of President Lincoln and the prospects of war. Read More 
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