Where to Order Tales of Coles County

Legends live right outside your door!

The 6th and final edition of Tales of Coles County, Illinois is finally here! If you already own a previous edition, or are hearing about it for the first time, this is the one to buy! 232 pages of hidden history, ghost stories, legends, and lore from one of the most fascinating areas of the state!

Where to order:

Tales of Coles County, Illinois is divided into three parts: Tales, Legends and Lore, and Hidden History.

‘Tales’ takes an entertaining look at local history through vivid historical fiction. When four students from Eastern Illinois University are stranded during a violent storm, they seek shelter with an elderly couple who give them more than they bargain for. After one night, the four will never look at Coles County the same way. With each story, they learn more about the place they’ve come to call home. The Second Battle of the Ambraw, the Charleston Riot of 1864, the Coles County Poor Farm, events surrounding the Airtight Bridge Murder, and the Blair Hall Fire of 2004, all are told.

In ‘Legends and Lore’, Michael Kleen reveals over a dozen hidden stories from the from the area’s past and present, including ghost stories, folk tales, and other legends and lore. When did a poltergeist terrorize one rural family in Pleasant Grove Township? What is the real story behind the “Mad Gasser of Mattoon”? Why do they call one stretch of road “Dead Man’s Curve”? The answers to these questions and more can be found in this definitive volume.

‘Hidden History’ examines events some believe are better left unremembered. What is the history of Coles County’s ghost towns? What were some of its most infamous murders? What happened in the Tornado of 1917? Never-before published information about Mattoon’s battle with Prohibition and even a local chapter of the KKK is inside.

Less than 24 Hours Remain to Pre-Order Tales of Coles County!

Lock in your 10% discount and get the book early by preordering before midnight tonight (September 30th)! The new edition of Tales of Coles County is chock full of new content and you won’t want to miss it. Why wait until tomorrow and pay full price? Click the link below to order!

I’m no longer accepting pre-orders because the book has officially been released! Order it today on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and GooglePlay.

Less than Three Days Remain to Pre-Order Tales of Coles County

Pre-order the sixth and final edition of Tales of Coles County, Illinois by September 30th and save 10%!

Whether you’ll be picking up this book for the first time or you already own an older version, you won’t want to miss this sixth and final edition! The original stories have been completely revised and updated. New stories, more history, one hundred additional pages, five brand new illustrations by Katie Conrad, a comprehensive bibliography, and over a dozen new photos await you inside.

This edition also includes a foreword by local genealogist Ann Winkler Hinrichs and an index.

I’m no longer accepting pre-orders because the book has officially been released! Order it today on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and GooglePlay.

New Edition of Tales of Coles County Ready for Pre-Orders!

Pre-ordering for the sixth and final edition of Tales of Coles County, Illinois is now available.

Own a previous edition? You won’t want to miss this! The original stories have been completely revised and updated. This edition also includes an index and a foreword by local genealogist Ann Winkler Hinrichs.

One hundred additional pages, five brand new illustrations by Katie Conrad, comprehensive bibliography, and over a dozen new photos await you inside.

I’m no longer accepting pre-orders because the book has officially been released! Order it today on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and GooglePlay.

Flickr is down for maintenance – 5/23/19

Apologies to my readers. You may have noticed my latest post shows a link to a Flickr page rather than an image. I’m trying to save space on my website by hosting images on Flickr, the drawback being that when Flickr goes down, you can’t see these pictures. Flickr is currently migrating away from Yahoo, which will be great in the long term but not in the short term. Hopefully it’ll be back up soon and all my images will display as normal.

A Celebration of American Diners

Look for a new diner post every Tuesday in 2019.

Longtime followers of this blog may recall my 2017 “All-American Diner Tour“, in which I wrote reviews of over two dozen diners in Upstate New York to indulge my own sense of nostalgia and share my love for diner culture. I’m happy to announce that every Tuesday this year, I will be featuring a new diner. Each post will include a short blurb about the model and history, as well as photos. These posts will focus more exclusively on traditional diners, some of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Diners are quintessentially American. They represent affordable dining for the working class, mobility, entrepreneurship, and mass production. The earliest diners were lunch carts pulled by horses. Entrepreneurs parked them outside factories to feed hungry workers as they came on and off shift. Many stayed open 24-hours to accommodate all shifts. Walter Scott began the first lunch cart/wagon service in Providence, Rhode Island in 1872.

Casey’s Diner

Soon, specially designed diner cars could be purchased and sent by rail anywhere in the country. Some of the earliest models still have train wheels attached. Manufacturers like the Worcester Lunch Car Company, O’Mahony, Kullman, and Silk City mass produced hundreds of prefabricated restaurants. The original diners were made of wood, and later, of attractive polished stainless steel.

Continue reading “A Celebration of American Diners”

Coming in 2019…

Whether you’re a regular reader or stumbled on my website by mistake, I’ve got a lot in store for you in 2019. You’ve probably already noticed a few major changes, with all my posts organized into several main categories (for more info on these categories, check out this post).

Each weekday will feature a regularly-scheduled post, including a movie or book review, spotlight on a historic diner, article on a historic site, museum, or battlefield, photography from historic cemeteries, and photo Fridays. Here’s how it shakes out:

  • Monday: Reviews will focus on past or present books and films that piqued my interest, with an emphasis on historical or period films.
  • Tuesday: Spotlight on a vintage diner. If you’ve read any of my past diner reviews, you know I love these greasy spoons. I’ve learned so much about this slice of roadside Americana over the past few years, and have visited dozens of these places. They are so iconic that some have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Wednesday: An in-depth article or gallery post of a historic site, museum, or battlefield, with a special emphasis on forts and battlefields. If you share my passion for military history, or just history in general, you should be excited about what I have in store for you. Many of these sites are obscure and you won’t find much information on them anywhere else.
  • Thursday: A visit to a historic cemetery. Every Thursday, I’ll post a picture I took of an interesting monument at one of the many cemeteries I’ve visited over the past year. Once a month, I’ll feature a more in-depth post about a historic rural cemetery, many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. You can learn a lot about American history through these monuments and sculptures.
  • Friday: Fridays will continue featuring photos I’ve taken on my travels, particularly of interesting signs and roadside attractions. Every photo has an individual story, and I hope you’ll experience as much joy viewing them as I experienced taking them.

Of course, I’ll still continue posting updates, announcements, and opinion pieces as they come along, as well as some of my own genealogy, but rest assured that there will be at least one regularly scheduled post every weekday in this coming year. I hope you continue to stop by and share my love for America’s wonderful history.