Monday, September 5, 2016

Now in Print: My New River History!

There's nothing quite like the feeling of opening that newly-arrived box of one's own books. It has been quite a journey writing this smallish edition.  It involved meeting with thoroughly amazing people who were either a part of New River's history or who help to keep it alive. It meant hundreds of hours late at night poring over old census records, newspaper archives, land patents, and as many other primary sources as I could find. During the research and compilation of this book, I contended with one torn rotator cuff, bouts of lameness due to multiple foot conditions exacerbated by too many birthdays and too many miles, an utterly miserable oral surgery, husband's heart issues and procedures, husband's broken ribs, two newborn calves, one miscarried foal, the loss of two beloved old dogs and the arrival of two beloved puppies, and my elderly mother's multiple hospitalizations. The book research kept me grounded throughout. It has been exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. Most of all, it has been an incredibly rewarding process.

The distinctive landmark Gavilan Peak,
also known as "Twin Peaks" or "Twin Buttes" to locals
(c) 2016 MJ Miller
I transitioned from feeling as if I merely lived on the skin of New River to actually being a part of it. I visited as many locations I wrote about as possible, hiking to ruins, riding old trails, studying old maps and new aerial photos. Most of all, researching history involves human research: studying family histories, listening to anecdotes, reading letters and memoirs. At times I'd cry when I read about the tragedies and losses of those families I came to know so well. Mostly, I'd revel in the courage and grit they exhibited as they settled in the area. I shall be forever honored to have met the Jackas, the Gees, the Halles, June Evans Bond, and so many others who contributed to the book - and who built the community. These were the sons and daughters of ranchers, homesteaders, cowboys and soldiers, who watched their parents sacrifice and struggle. I felt as if I was watching those labors myself as I heard their stories and studied their photos.

So, here it is, at long last:  Images of America: New River 

I collected far too many stories and bits of local history to include in this volume. I also photographed  the places I visited along the way and, as the current book is solely comprised of vintage photos, I could not include the current photos. In the future, I'll release the longer, more complete story of New River with the "now" photos to complement the "then" photos of the current book.

For now, I'm enjoying sharing New River's story with anyone who wishes to hear it. Thanks to the families who shared their photos with me, I can also share the area's images with you.

Jerry Jacka and Lois Essary Jacka generously contributed a tremendous amount of photos and information. For an outstanding history of the Jacka's historic Sun-Up Ranch, contact Jerry directly:  Jerry Jacka's Website. (You'll also want to look at Jerry and Lois' other stunning books!)

On Tuesday night, September 13, 2016, I'll speak about the book at the New River - Desert Hills Community Association meeting. It's open to the public. Join us from 7:30pm to 9:00pm at the Daisy Mountain Fire Department Station #141, 43814 N. New River Road. 

Should you have an interest in having me speak on local history or if you'd like a signed copy, please contact me at: 

Thanks for stopping by!

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