July 10, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Last week we had a story about a best seller book written in Junction City. The author was J.J. Pennell’s son, Joseph Stanley Pennell, who wrote The History of Rome Hanks written in 1944. In July of that year, the “Kansas City Times” newspaper ran an article entitled “An Unconventional Kansan.” It told of Joseph being a man who “disdains hard and fast rules” and who had turned out a “breath-taking first book.” When Joseph Stanley was a student at the University of Kansas, he papered the walls of his room with rejection slips from editors. These slips came from a variety of publications. One of those was the Atlantic Monthly. However, in 1944 Pennell finally had his first novel published. The History of Rome Hanks was acclaimed by critics as among the most remarkable books to appear in many years.
It was in Junction City that he began to settle down and for more than two years immersed himself in studying about the American Civil War. Lee Harrington is the central figure in the novel. He is a young man, who is trying to sort out memories of the Civil War as told him by his grandfather. He tries to imagine what life would have been like then and what impact the Civil war might have had on the people. The tales range from past to present, from Gettysburg to Shiloh.
We have a copy of this book at our Museum. Stop by and ask to see it any Tuesday through Sunday between 1 and 4:00 PM. Admission is free and we keep the Museum cool for our artifacts and your comfort.