In the past ten years, I have come to realize the importance of documenting
local histories before time and memory fade. Around 1997, it occurred
to me that I knew very little about my father’s service in the Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC) and felt I owed him the courtesy of learning
more about it. I began by reading everything available on the CCC
and was upset that no books were written about the CCC camps in Illinois
After obtaining my father’s Civilian Conservation Corps records, I learned that he served as a lead carpenter in the hewing yard for Company 696 at Giant City Park in Makanda, Illinois. It was there he hewed the beams for the main lodge. During a manpower redistribution, my father switched to Company D-692. This company transferred to Mellen, Wisconsin in 1935 for the development of Copper Falls State Park. The drought of 1936 enlisted the help of these men to fight out-of-control fires that ravaged northern Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands and Isle Royale, Michigan. What I learned in my research from National Archives CCC records and newspaper accounts was that this was a company of courageous men pushed into extraordinary circumstances.
A visit to Giant City Park acquainted me with the lodge building that had become a special part of my father’s CCC experience. The state of Illinois had restored and preserved it as a masterpiece of rustic architecture that was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1988.
During my visit to Copper Falls State Park, I saw the log lodge that symbolized an important character trait of men who built it --- the building was a survivor of difficult circumstances. It had survived over 70 years of abusive Wisconsin winters and was still standing as a tribute to the men of the CCC.
I saw that I had two important goals before me--- to help protect the rustic CCC buildings in Copper Falls Park by getting them placed on the National Register of Historic Places and to document what the men of Company D-692 had accomplished.
Rustic Books LLC is the company name through which books are written, self-published, marketed and sold by Mary Schueller to tell this important story. The company was founded and licensed to sell books in the state of Wisconsin in 2005.
Mary has a PowerPoint presentation on the content of The Soldiers
and is available for speaking engagements. Museums, schools, historic societies and organizations may also obtain a copy of a script for a one-person, one-act play entitled The Water Flier: A Tribute To Jack Vilas, Pioneer Aviator
. The play comes with a playbill and suggested music for putting on your own 45 minute production or making arrangements for a performance. E-mail us for availability, royalty and production fees.