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Books feature life in Blue Earth

By Staff | May 3, 2015

There are two books being published that feature the city of Blue Earth and some prominent people from its past.

And, no, the books are not about either of Blue Earth’s most famous historical figures, the Green Giant and Donald Deskey. And you may not ever find either book on the New York Times best seller list.

Or will you?

The first book is entitled “Blizzard Ordeal of a Minnesota Calvaryman.” It was written by Marlin Peterson, a historian from Minnesota Lake.

The book details the life of Blue Earth resident Benjamin Franklin. Remember him?

We have had several stories about him in the past few years in the Faribault County Register. He was the quadruple amputee who lost his limbs in a blizzard after having served in the army during the Civil War.

He went on to live in Blue Earth, with his wife running a boarding house on Second Street, near the railroad tracks. That house was torn down just a few years ago.

Franklin made his living by selling graphic photographs of himself, without arms or legs.

Local historian A.B. Russ of Blue Earth led a search to find where Ben Franklin was buried. State and military records showed he was buried in Riverside Cemetery, but his grave could not be found there.

Recently Russ and Peterson located Franklin’s final resting place, in Iowa. They got a grave marker for him and it is now been put in place.

Peterson’s book is not only an in depth look into the amazing life of this man, but also a fascinating look into life during the Civil War and through to the turn of the century.

It was a much more difficult time; sometimes it was hard just to survive.

As Peterson states, the 19th Century was not a handicap friendly time to live.

The book sells for just $15. Contact Marlin Peterson at 910 Mountain Lake Road, Mountain Lake, MN 56159 for details.

The other book was written by our friend Albert Eisele, of Washington, D.C. Remember Al? He is the person who purchased the Donald Deskey street light and had it shipped to Blue Earth, where it is on display in Gazebo Park.

Deskey as you recall, was a famous art deco designer, who created everything from lamps to street lights to music hall buildings and product packaging.

But I digress.

Eisele’s book is entitled “Northern Lights, Southern Nights: A Memoir of Writing Parents.”

As the title indicates, this is a story about Al’s parents, Albert Sr. and Susan Eisele, who lived on a farm near Blue Earth for most of their adult lives. But, unlike many family memory stories, mainly meant just for other family members, this one is different because the Eisele’s were were not just local farmers.

Albert Sr. and Susan Eisele were long time newspaper columnists. In fact, they met because they had read each other’s columns and started corresponding before they ever met in person.

Many of their columns ran for years in Blue Earth newspapers, but their work also appeared in many other newspapers and magazines as well.

Albert Sr. wrote a column called “The Post Chaise” that ran in the Blue Earth Post for many years. Susan wrote “With a Penny Pencil” for years and in 1936 won a national award for one of her columns.

The Eiseles even started writing a column together in 1940, called “Countryside.” It ran in Blue Earth newspapers as well as being syndicated in 30 other publications.

Albert Sr. also wrote and published more than 80 short stories before his death in 1951 at the age of 55.

Susan lived until 1984, and at the time of her death she had written more than 2,300 “Countryside” columns alone, not to mention her other work.

But the story is not just about his parents. Eisele’s book also gives a look at what life was like in Blue Earth in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

And, like Peterson’s story of Ben Franklin, things were definitely different back in the “Good Old Days.” And, life sometimes wasn’t all that “good.”

Both of these books about life in Blue Earth years ago are just coming out this spring.

I would hope copies will be available later this summer at the Blue Earth Public Library, for those who wish to learn a little bit of local history.

While the books may not be on the New York Times best seller list, you might just want to put them on your own reading list.