Friday, May 27, 2022

7 Questions with Spencer Pfrogner, Redoubt Productions


Spencer Pfrogner is a historian living in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. In his off-time, and when not working on college work, he publishes history videos on the YouTube Channel titled Redoubt Productions. His videos focus on the history of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands, as well as pertaining to history beyond his community. You can find access to all platforms Redoubt Productions is on through the following linktree:

(at Gettysburg)

1.                 How and when did you get hooked on history?

I was introduced to history at a very young age, perhaps as young as 4. I think what got me interested was learning about monumental events to not only American but World History that occurred right in my backyard of Western Pennsylvania. Particularly, I am from a region known as the Laurel Highlands. This is made up of Westmoreland, Somerset & Fayette Counties, all to the southeast of Pittsburgh.

My earliest history memories is of seeing the steam locomotive Norfolk & Western 475 at the Strasburg Railroad. Seeing something so huge, with so many moving parts, to achieve one simple objective. Pull A Train Down The Tracks. Nowadays the locomotives are diesel or electrical, wire their mechanics all boxed up. There’s no wonder in seeing a black and white box of Norfolk Southern running down the tracks. But there is wonder in seeing all the gears and axles of a steam locomotive.

Being in awe of these behemoths of machinery from a bygone era I believe sparked my interest. Where I grew up, I’m blessed to have been surrounded by a major National Park within a hour drive in any direction. Trips to Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Park & Fort Necessity National Battlefield really helped to fuel my passion for history. In the early grades of school, I was never the best at the Common Core courses they were pressing hard on us. But once the Social Studies & History Courses started rolling in around Junior High, I was off to the races. I thank my teachers for encouraging me to pursue more about history, even when the early grades were not really focusing upon it.  


2.                 What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

History is at the core of my life. Whereas most children in America want to go to the nearest amusement park, I wanted to go to the nearest museum. Our family vacations are still planned around the historic sites of the area. Most of my time off is spent on my own little field trips, keeping myself sharp on as many aspects of history as I can be. History also is essential to my occupation. But outside of my job, I participate in a handful of living history events. At present I am in a group that portrays a Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment from the American Civil War. With the hope that historic sites will be lifting their pandemic restrictions, I am eager to be able to do more interpretative programs.

(Filming At Jumonville Glen Near Uniontown, PA)

3.                 How does history play a part of your professional life/career?

I have been employed for several years at a French & Indian War museum within the Laurel Highlands. In fact, the museum interprets the events of two conflicts. As such, one of my key responsibilities is being able to interpret the complex and important events that happened in my community to visitors passing through. I wish to be able to tether the events that occurred in my little piece of the Keystone State to not only American History but also World History. My discussions with the public can range from a simple orientation when visitors first arrive to full fledged tours. I strive to prepare myself to answer as many of a variety of questions as possible.


4.                 Why is studying/knowing history important?

History is a blueprint on what to do and what not to do. Although the trials and tribulations one will face going forward are not going to be exactly the same as those in the past, you will notice similarities. There is a popular saying that history repeats itself. I like to add a different spin to it. History does not repeat, but it certainly likes to rhyme.


5.                 What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

Growing up, my focus on history was isolated to very particular subjects: The Johnstown Flood, The Battle of Gettysburg, The Sinking Of The Titanic. But now I find myself interested in a variety of components to American History. I am most immersed with the French & Indian War, as well as the American Civil War. The French & Indian War is easy enough to explain as it’s the biggest event to occur in my neck of the woods and essential to my job. I have returned to my childhood interest in the American Civil War as it appears the United States are grown the most divided it as ever been since the 1860s. Perhaps learning and interpreting what transpired in places like Gettysburg will help to give those so divided a warning of what happens when a house becomes divided against itself. But I have also grown invested with lesser known eras such as the War of 1812 and the West Virginia Mine War of 1920-21. I have found the War of 1812 to be almost a mad libs of history. Where else will you find a conflict that involves officers from the American Revolution & the American Civil War? Tactically it was one of the most foolish conflicts the US ever fought. Culturally, I have found it to be one of the most important. The idea of a UNITED States would not exist without Madison’s War. Songs like the Star Spangled Banner and the Battle of New Orleans would have no inspiration without this conflict. Could you imagine a America with no National Anthem?...could you imagine a America with no Johnny Horton twanging away about our history? The West Virginia Mine Wars I’ve grown recently fascinated with because of how large in scale it was. How can the largest armed uprising in the country since the American Civil War not make it into any history books? Regardless of what time period, however, any history linked within or near my home of the Laurel Highlands will always be of great interest to me.


(Monument At Bushy Run Battlefield Near Harrison City, PA)

6.                 How did Redoubt Productions come about and how do people access your work?

Redoubt Productions has been around for a lot longer than I often realize. I made the YouTube channel all the way back in 2014. But I really didn’t start doing the history related content I am presently doing until 2019. Starting out, I wanted to do documentaries on lesser known battles in history. This included Lundy’s Lane & Point Pleasant. It wasn’t until my video on The Darr Mine Disaster that I started to do what I call my ‘Retracing’ videos. During the pandemic I discovered Channels like The History Underground & Scott’s ODDySEEy and really enjoyed their manner of presenting overlooked aspects of history. THU will often focus on a lesser known piece to a famous event such as D-Day or Gettysburg. Scott’s ODDySEEy focuses on unearthing ever piece of history forgotten in his home territory of Central Pennsylvania. My ‘Retracing’ videos I see as being a mixture of the two styles, although I am by no means intending to copy said styles.

In ‘Retracing’, you’ll find me delving deep into the history of the historic location I am exploring. Sometimes they are in vlog styles while other times (if I have the time) I will give them a documentary treatment. I started with visiting Bushy Run Battlefield, and have since been to several important historical sites within the Laurel Highlands. I must admit I'm not the best at doing on-location filming. While doing tours is my profession, trying to piece together a coherent narrative of something I've only recently studied is hard to achieve. I've been experimenting with the format of doing the talking in camera or adding narration in at a later date.

I do other videos outside of the 'Retracing' series. I often like to focus on military & industrial history. I had particular fun doing a two part series on the Battles of Isandlwana & Rorke’s Drift. I also am very pleased with videos I did on two local events in US Labor History; the Mammoth Mine Disaster & Morewood Massacre. As you can tell, my content is as all over the place as are my interests in periods of history. Not that being interested in various parts of history is a bad thing.


I didn’t take my videos too seriously early on, only posting to YouTube haphazardly. But I am now expanding access of my videos to other platforms. You can also catch my videos on Rumble. Sometimes not every place I go to will yield a full-fledged video. I use Instagram to posts photos from my various trips and behind the scenes on projects I’m working on. To keep informed with what is in the works for Redoubt Productions, I advise people to follow our Facebook or Minds pages.

(Monument At The Flight 93 Memorial Chapel Near Shanksville, PA)


7.                 What do you hope people take away from viewing your work?

The longest video I have produced is a piece on Flight 93. It is arguably the single most visited historical site in the Laurel Highlands in light of how recent the events that occurred there still are compared to other events nearby. The public knows about the National Memorial around the crash site. But few will explore the neighboring communities. Places like Shanksville & Stoystown, and all of Somerset County, were forever altered because of what happened at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2001. My piece focuses on how this portion of 9/11 are commemorated. The video visits four sites related to Flight 93. Of course the National Memorial, but also the little known privately ran Memorial Chapel a few miles south. The video stops at the fire hall of Shanksville Volunteer Fire Company, where a small memorial has been erected. I also learned the day of filming of a brand new memorial being erected by a non-for-profit across from the crash site called Patriot Park. It will commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for the United States in the War on Terror. This video was the most emotional to make and I feel best symbolizes what I am trying to achieve with making history videos.


I hope people who are not from the Laurel Highlands realize that the western side of Pennsylvania is just as rich in history as the hallowed places of Philadelphia & Gettysburg. I hope people that watch and are living in the Laurel Highlands realize they are fortunate to live in such a historical rich part of the state, the country & the world. I hope whoever views my work is inspired to live, explore & preserve the history of their own backyards. I hope people realize how important the community they are a part of is. I feel a community that is willing to preserve its history is a healthy community to be a part of.

Friday, May 20, 2022

7 Questions with Jerry Borrowman, Author and Motivational Speaker

Jerry Borrowman is the author of eighteen books of historical fiction and non-fiction, His stories are often stories of inspiring people in extraordinary circumstances. He is also a motivational speaker.  For more information, see his website,


1. How did you get hooked on history?

I became interested in World War 2 history in junior high - I enjoyed watching diverse television shows such as "Combat" and McHale's Navy (more for the torpedo boat than the humor) and movies, including Patton. Can't say for sure why the military intrigued me so much, but I think it had to do with right versus wrong and people putting the good of the nation and world ahead of their own interests. As an adult I loved reading anything by Winston Churchill and naval fiction by Alexander Kent, Douglas Reeman, E.M. Forester, etc.

2.  What role does history play in your personal life?

At age 69 I've lived through some interesting history - but mostly as an outside observer who did not join the military. I believe most of the books I've read are historical in nature -- primarily non-fiction, and I've listened to hundreds of hours of the "Great Courses" offerings on history and historical periods.

3. How does history play a role in your professional life?

My primary career has been in life insurance as a trainer and working with clients. My avocation has been writing about history, with ten non-fiction books and ten fiction books now published commercially. I've done really well on sales and have established a niche with devoted readers -- which means the world to me. I like to find little known events from history, particularly the 20th century, and weaving those events into stories that create intrigue, suspense, and inspiration. I've won a number of awards that are meaningful to me as a result of this approach, including the George Washington Gold Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and first place in War & Military from Foreword Reviews for my non-fiction book "Compassionate Soldier." My latest non-fiction book "Why We Fought!" has also been nominated for 2022.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

History is important for many many reasons. I’ve come to doubt the old saying that if we don’t know history we’re doomed to repeat it…seems like we repeat even when we do know. But at a more fundamental level history is  fundamental in finding out who we are so we can decide what core values and ideals we should hold. Perhaps that’s why there is such international interest in genealogy. We yearn for context in a very complicated world. History also allows us to sift through the events of the past to find out what matters and what we can let go of. A fire in a garment factory matters because it led to safety reforms that improved the lives of millions of workers. A poem I wrote twenty years ago had value at the time, but no relevance for today so let it go. The history that I research in writing my books really matters, I believe, because it examines people whose lives were refined in the crucible of war and their courage in the face of evil helped push back the darkness of repression. It is inspiring, and hopefully gives us strength to stand up to our own challenges. Plus history is just plain interesting…we humans love stories and that’s all history is…a virtually unlimited number of stories that open our minds to new places, people, and times-and what can be more fascinating than that?  A final thought . A professor once said that the past is everything that has happened; history is that sliver of the past that’s been recorded. So I encourage your readers to add to history by recording important elements of their own lives. It will give their descendants the wonder of learning their own family history and taking their place in the world. 

5. What is your favorite period/area of history to learn about and why?

I have concentrated on the first half of the 20th Century - World Wars 1 & 2 and the Great Depression. I have written some books outside of that period, including "Beyond the Call of Duty" with Colonel Bernard Fisher, USAF, and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam, as well several books from the 19th Century.

6. You've written a lot of books about various topics. How do you choose a topic?

I read a great deal and when I come across something unusual I look to see how many others have written about the event or the person. If the answer is "not a lot" I dig deeper to see if I can turn it into a story that my readers would be interested in.

7. Is there a common theme throughout your books?

The common thread among all my books is self-sacrifice for freedom and in opposition to tyranny. Some of my characters are drafted, but despite their fears proceed to do the right thing. My non-fiction books feature true heroes -- most recently in "Why We Fought" individuals who were not obligated to serve, but who stepped forward at great personal risk. I am inspired by these people and feel gratitude that through my writing I can pay tribute to their lives.

Friday, May 13, 2022

7 Questions with Michael Benson, Author of Gangsters vs Nazis

Michael Benson is the author of more than sixty books, including the true crime titles Betrayal in BloodKiller Twins, and Mommy Deadliest. He also wrote Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, and most recently, The Devil at Genesee Junction. He regularly appears on ID: Investigation Discovery channel, including On the Case with Paula Zahn and Deadly Sins. He is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets award.

1.         How and when did you get hooked on history?
As a child, I tried to memorize the World Almanac. I was particularly interested in events in America during the decades before I was born, that is the first half of the twentieth century. Looking back, I think I was trying to lengthen my life in the other direction, to acquire knowledge that would make me feel as if I were born before I was. I can still recite all Oscar-winners and heavyweight champions in order—but only until 1966, which was the edition of the almanac I wore out. 

2.         What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?
I am lucky enough to be married for 35 years to a woman who tolerates my obsessions, like the years I spent writing about old, old science fiction movies, or the five years I spent researching every baseball park ever used in North America going back to the Civil War, or the years I spent writing about all of the real-life characters connected in one way or another with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 
3.         How does history play a part of your professional life/career?
All of those obsessions I mentioned in the previous answer turned into books that advanced my career as a bookwriter. Vintage Science Fiction Films was my first book. After that, I wrote Ballparks of North America. My career took a leap when I acquired an agent from the William Morris Agency and published the results of my assassination research in Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination.

4.         Why is studying/knowing history important?
I’m always unpleasantly surprised at the lack of wisdom in people who know nothing about history. To try to sort out current events without examining historical precedents creates shallow thinking, and a void that can be exploited by clever propagandists. Learn more! Know what you don’t know. Be wise. 
5.         What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?
My forte remains the first half of the twentieth century. Two world wars, a “great” depression, the birth of motion pictures, the introduction of the nuclear era, all fascinating stuff. I don’t dip into the nineteenth century nearly as much, with the exception of the Battle of Gettysburg, which changed American history more than any other single battle. 

6.         What draws you to true crime stories in particular? 
My interest in true crime has an origin story. When I was nine years old my babysitter, George-Ann Formicola, and her friend from down the road, Kathy Bernhard, were murdered and mutilated on the other side of the creek that crossed my back field. The girls had gone swimming and didn’t come back. I lived in a rural area, at the end of a dirt road, south of Rochester NY. The murders were never caught so I spent my childhood knowing that a real-life Boogie Man had crossed my back field. And so, I grew up to be a true-crime writer, not a coincidence. I teamed up with a private detective and Kathy’s mom, Alice Bernhard, and together we sent the investigation in a startling new direction, all of which became my book, The Devil at Genesee Junction, a book in which I am both the author and a character.

7.         How did you get to the subject of your latest book Gangsters vs Nazis and why is the story important?

I knew parts of the story, from my reading of the 26 volumes of Warren Commission testimony, biographies of various mobsters of the era, word of mouth, but I didn’t realize how organized the anti-Nazi movement was in 1938 America among Jewish gangsters until my agent Doug Grad alerted me to an article by Robert Rockaway in Tablet Magazine which introduced me to Judge Nathan Perlman, the true hero of the book. Perlman was a New York judge who thought outside the box and called mobster Meyer Lansky and asked him to put together an army to teach the Germans that being a Nazi in America could be dangerous, that a Nazi in America could have problems, and that Jews in America would not just sit back and accept insults. Insult a Jew and you risked getting a punch in the nose. In 1938, American Jews were poor. Everyone was poor, America was nine years into the Great Depression, but Jews had it particularly rough because they were ostracized from gentile society. There were only a few occupations that Jewish men and women were allowed to have, and they lived almost entirely among themselves in tightly-packed Jewish neighborhoods in many of America’s big cities, having come from Europe where, the say the least, the persecution was even worse. So Jewish people in America already have problems when the German-American Bund begins holding rallies and parades singing the praises of Adolf Hitler, and blaming all of the world’s problems on the Jews. It isn’t the numbers of Nazis that bothers Jewish leaders in America most, but the brazen nature of their actions, holding parades in Manhattan that looked like the Macy’s except with goose-stepping and Sieg Heiling. During the depression it was easy to scapegoat a group of people. The Bund told America that the Jews were all communists and they had all of the money, which is why gentiles were so poor. This must have come as quite a shock to the Jewish ragpicker in Newark NJ whose horse just dropped dead in the middle of the street. Luckily for the rest, there was a new generation of Jewish men who didn’t follow gentile rules, who didn’t wait to be given a piece of the pie, who went out and took it, and who, if confronted with anti-Semitiam, would feed it a knuckle sandwich. The hero of the book is New York Judge Nathan D. Perlman. He is Polish-born, came to NYC at age four. Attended NYU Law, served in both NYS assembly and as a US Congressman before being appointed to the bench. Barrel-chested, active in Jewish affairs. Enjoyed a good time, in bars he told people, truthfully, that he was one of the US congressmen who repealed Prohibition, and they always bought him a drink. After an incident in which a patriotic ceremony in Manhattan was forced inside because of chanting Nazism Judge Perlman was in a bar one evening when he had an idea, he thought outside the box. The Nazis in America needed a good butt-kicking, and he knew how to make that happen. 
Perlman called Meyer Lansky, the world’s top Jewish gangster, and put the ball in motion. Let these Nazi anti-Semites know that it could be dangerous spouting hate speech in the U.S.A. 
The other thing that appealed to me about the story, I guess it brought out the anarchist in me. The entire book explores the space between what is legal and what is just. The villains are within the law, the heroes without. 
Perlman needed Jewish gangsters, gangsters because they were being asked to break the law, and Jews because they best understood the situation in Europe. It seems hard to imagine now, but in 1938 most Americans were against going to war against Hitler. He had conquered most of Europe and still Mr. and Mrs. America felt they didn’t have a dog in the fight. Jewish Americans saw it differently. They knew that horrible things were happening in Europe, that their relatives were being rounded up and no one was coming back. So Jewish Americans were the first to realize that war against Hitler was necessary and inevitable, and that the war for the hearts and minds of Americans had already begun.
There were two Nazi organizations holding rallies in the U.S.: the German-American Bund, known as the Brown Shirts, run by a drunken loner named Fritz Kuhn, whose oratory style was as much like Hitler’s as he could muster, and the Silver Legion, known as the Silver Shirts, run by William Pelley. He was an ex-Hollywood writer who claimed that during a near-death experience he’d been advised by God to spread the word of Hitler.  
At a typical Bund rally, large swastikas hung from the back of the stage and formed the backdrop. Portraits of Hitler were placed next to those of George Washington, and the men on stage, some wearing Hitler-esque toothbrush mustaches, delivered their speeches as much like Hitler as they could, with arms waving and spittle spewing. There were no hate-speech laws back then, so as long as no one said anything obscene or shouted “Fire!” they could say whatever they wanted. When Judge Perlman decided to sic an army on the Nazis in America cities, he knew he needed an army of Jewish men who didn’t care that much about the letter of American law. So he called Lansky.
Italian mobsters get all the press, but back in the day the Jewish mob was very powerful. Arnold Rothstein was the first, a guy who once tried to fix the World Series. But Lansky was even more powerful. The bosses of the five families all listened to Lucky Luciano and Luciano always listened to Meyer Lansky—so Jewish men made money and wielded power in U.S. cities, New York, Chicago, L.A. The Jewish men who fought the Nazis in New York were members of a sette, which is an organization of professional killers that carried out contracted hits pre-approved by a commission of Mob Bosses. The sette was in place to keep everyone with a beef from killing their enemies, which ended up being bad for business. Luciano knew about Judge Perlman’s request for assistance and offered the services of Italian gangsters as well, but Lansky said no thanks, this was a Jewish fight. He owed it to his Jewish brothers and sisters who were suffering in Europe. Judge Perlman offered to pay the men of Murder, Inc. to fight Nazis but Lansky said no, as did Micky Cohen on the West Coast. The fight was one of Jewish pride, and not a professional matter. The Jewish community in New York, some of it anyway, was embarrassed that there were Jewish members of organized crime, but that didn’t keep Jewish boys from looking upon the Jewish gangsters as heroes. It was a world that believed Jews to be soft, there to be picked on, and these were tough Jews. These guys loved America, and the thought that Nazis were growing in power was an automatic call to action. 
Lansky, of course, wanted to go out and shoot Nazis, but Judge Perlman forbid it. Do that and you lose the moral high ground. As Lansky later put it, we won’t kill’em, we’ll just marinate’em. It was a key factor. No one gets killed. Instead of using guns, the gangsters use brass knuckles and sawed-off pool cues. The idea was to discourage the American Nazis from being so bold and brazen, and it worked. 
The no-kill rule caused a slight problem for Lansky. Some of those Murder Inc. boys were dangerous in a street fight, but there were others, you took their gun away they stopped being so tough. So he took them to Gleason’s Gym, which was in the Bronx at that time, and had them take boxing lessons. In retrospect, the exercise may have been more a matter of team-building than throwing combos. These guys at the most went out in pairs when they killed a guy. Now they had to act as an angry mob in a situation where they left the heaters home and they would be greatly outnumbered. 
The team that attacked the Nazis at the Yorkville Casino were stone-cold killers: Buggsy Goldstein, Tick Tock Tannenbaum, Pittsburgh Phil (who’d never actually been to Pittsburgh), Blue Jaw Magoon.
In the short-term, the German-American Bund wanted to unite German-American voters to create a political force and thus get like-minded individuals into positions of power. In the long-term, they envisioned a world in which America would’ve been transformed into an overgrown duplicate of Nazi Germany. Jews would have been rounded up and executed. Democracy would’ve been abolished. Civil rights for minorities would have been non-existent. It’s hard to imagine who would have been left after the white supremacists finished their purge. 
It is important to note that, back then, in what some people tend to think of as the good old days, racism and anti-semitism was quite casual. No one had the courage to ask Americans in a survey if they approved of Jews being killed, but a solid ten percent told survey interviewers that they’d prefer it if the Jews “went back to where they came from.” Many white gentiles to this day tend to think they are the only Americans that truly matter.  
The nation’s most popular anti-Semite was Father Charles Coughlin. gave his sermons over the radio on Sunday afternoons, right between the Rhythmic Ramblings program, and Design For Dancing. They called Coughlin “The Radio Priest”. Coughlin had a velvety soft voice and tenderly wrapped his hate speech in a warm security blanket of tone and comfort. In 1926 he built his own church, Shrine of the Little Flower, and was given free radio time to promote his church. His first shift from the religious to the political came in 1929 after the Stock Market crashed and the nation plummeted into despair. Eventually, the radio priest broadcasted had nationwide syndication and was dishing out a strong defense of Nazi Germany. In particular, he praised the way Nazis dealt with Jews. The priest said that he was against all forms of religious persecution, of course, but the German’s treatment of the Jews was a natural reaction to the communist threat that the Jews represented. 
It is unclear if Coughlin was aware of the genocide underway when he said this, but he certainly knew about Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, in which Jewish neighborhoods were smashed and many of their residents killed. Coughlin told America that he wasn’t pro-Nazi; he was anti-communist. He named the names of two-dozen Jewish men who were involved in the “Russian revolution.” He said the Jews had money and were backing the communists. He said the Jewish religion and communism, in fact, had become synonymous and the power of that combo was making Germany sick, like a cancer. Was it any wonder they wanted to cut it out? 
Without any sense of irony, Father Coughlin said that many Jews in Germany had become powerful by using their talents to acquire positions in radio, on newspapers, and in international banking. The Jews, he said, were dangerous because of their solidarity. It was one-for-all with those people, so that when they wanted to be aggressive, they could hurt Germany. He pleaded with FDR to pull American ambassadors out of all communist countries.
Coughlin’s ratings were through the roof. So, when Judge Perlman got on the phone and called Jewish mobsters across the country, including Chicago, anti-semitism was in the very air. 
On April 20,1938, Hitler’s birthday, Lansky takes his crew to the Yorkville Casino on East 86th Street. Albert Anastasia, the Italian mobster known as the Lord High Executioner, used to have a trick. If he had to whack someone in New York City, in a high profile way, a famous guy or in public, he’d buy hats made in Chicago, put them on his hit team, and after the shooting was done the hoods would lose their hats and flee. Sure enough, the papers would quote the cops the next day saying they suspected a hit team from Chicago had been brought in, while the actual killers were playing cards in Midnight Rose’s back room in Brownsville, Brooklyn. So, Lansky uses this technique. His guys wear American Legion hats, beat the crap out of a bunch of Nazis, drop one out a second-floor window, and lose their hats as they escaped into the night. Sure enough, the New York Times reports the next day that seven Nazis ended up in the hospital and that the invaders were thought to be members of the American Legion. (In truth, the American Legion didn’t mind being falsely accused. A lot of them had fought in World War I and didn’t like the idea that Germans were getting aggressive again.) 
The scenario was repeated across the country, in Newark NJ, Chicago IL, Minneapolis MN, Los Angeles CA. The intelligence gathered during this little war before the big war, comes in handy after Pearl Harbor, when Nazi sympathizers were weeded out of jobs as shipbuilders or on the docks, where they could have committed acts of sabotage. 

Judge Nathan Perlman

German American Bund leader Fritz Kuhn


Friday, May 6, 2022

7 Questions With William Culyer Hall, Florida Author


William Culyer Hall, a native of Lakeland Florida, is a fifth generation Floridian. His novel The Trouble With Panthers earned the Florida Book Award for Best Popular Fiction. In addition to the Kissimmee Valley Trilogy, Hall is author of the novel September’s Fawn. The father of four sons, he and his wife Cheryl live in Rockledge, Florida.

1. How and when did you get  hooked on history?

Since my people settled here before statehood, I became interested in the history of Florida at an early age.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

I'm an active member of the Florida Historical Society.

3. How does history play  a part of your professional life/career?

I've written four historical fiction novels based on Pioneer and indigenous Florida history.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

Knowledge of the events and people of the past, I feel, give one a foundation, a sense of belonging.

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

Every period, beginning to now.

6.        What attracts you to stories of pioneer Florida?

I grew up around such people, and I strive to preserve their memory.

7. Please tell us about your most recent book?

"I Mean You No Harm" is the story of a Miccosuki warrior's search for purpose in a world that no longer resembles the one in his mind.

I Mean You No Harm is the third book in the Kissimmee Valley Trilogy. Each book in the series is enjoyable by itself. Together, the connected stories follow some of the same characters through a century of Florida history.

In the first book of the series, The Trouble With Panthers, the Rawlerson family has been involved in Florida’s cattle industry for several generations. In 2004, family members are divided over how they should adapt from Florida’s past to an inevitable future.

The second book in the series, Florida Boy, takes us back to the beginning of the story when the Rawlerson family establishes their homestead in Florida. The family patriarch who dies in The Trouble With Panthers is born in Florida Boy.

In this conclusion to the Kissimmee Valley Trilogy, I Mean You No Harm, we learn more about the mysterious Native American mentor of young Rawlerson family men. We follow the Indian with no name on his journey of self-discovery as he walks throughout the state, witnessing dramatic changes.