Oregon County featured in book by Veronica Roberts
OREGON COUNTY -- A woman with ties to the Alton/Thayer area has written a book about the Irish Wilderness in Oregon County titled The Irish Wilderness.
Veronica Roberts' father-in-law was Earl Carr who lived in Thayer. Carr's uncle was Leo Carr who served as mayor of Thayer at one time.
William Carr, Roberts' husband, said, "We have always been keenly interested in the history of Oregon County. My wife just finished writing and illustrating a book about the Irish Wilderness north of Thayer. She spent many years researching, writing and illustrating the novel."
The subject of the book is the Irish Catholics who escaped the Great Famine in Ireland in the mid-1800s.
The book's 25 chapters give details of two families' experience in Ireland. The book tells of their unjust exile from Ireland and their ship ordeal, followed by an overland trek to the Missouri Ozarks.
The book goes into detail about family life in Ireland and the families' decision to escape the extreme conditions there. It continues with their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Cape Girardeau.
"A priest in St. Louis had purchased a large acreage around the present-day Irish Wilderness in Oregon County where the group settled," William Carr said.
"During the 1950s they prospered and were ever thankful for the good life they had found, with abundant wildlife and fish and farm land," he said.
Carr said the colony grew to a population of over 1,000 before the Civil War. "During this time the Wilderness became a 'no man's land' and the Irish suffered even more than in their homeland. At the end of the war there were only a few Irish left, including the family in the novel," Carr said.
Roberts researched available documents and interviewed present day residents in and around the Irish Wilderness in preparation for writing the novel. Carr said it is written with careful attention to both the historical records and oral tradition of the region.
The Irish Wilderness is published by I/C Publishing and can be purchased at Downtown Antiques in West Plains or at www.amazon.com for $19.99. This is the first book Veronica Roberts has written.
The Carr family lives in Montclair, N.J., and in the future plan to retire in Oregon County.
The Irish Wilderness was designated a wilderness area by the U.S. Congress in 1884.
It is located in the Mark Twain National Forest and has become a safe haven for endangered species of wildlife. Because it is a designated wilderness area, timber cannot be cut, new roads cannot be built and many of the old roads are closed, with only foot trails or horse trails allowed.