Posted tagged ‘Bishop Baraga’

Ten-Year Anniversary Edition Released of Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

April 21, 2016

Marquette, MI, April 20, 2016—In 2006, local author Tyler R. Tichelaar published his first novel, Iron Pioneers, which was soon followed by two sequels, The Queen City and Superior Heritage to complete The Marquette Trilogy. Now Tichelaar is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of this first novel by reprinting it with a new color cover, an interior historic map of Marquette, and a new preface “Creating a Literature for Upper Michigan.”

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

Iron Pioneers has a new cover for its ten-year anniversary edition as well as a new preface.

“It felt like the ten-year anniversary of my first book was a reason to celebrate,” said Tichelaar. “And Iron Pioneers remains my bestselling book to this day, but I was never happy with the brown cover, which was chosen by my publisher at the time. I initially envisioned a gold cover, so I’ve chosen that, which seemed appropriate for an anniversary edition.”

Tichelaar first had the idea to write novels set in Marquette back in 1987 when he began writing his first book, eventually published in 2009 as The Only Thing That Lasts. But it was in 1999, when he was living in Kalamazoo, earning his Ph.D. in Literature, and homesick for the U.P., that he had the idea to write a novel that covered the scope of Marquette’s history. “It was Marquette’s sesquicentennial year,” he said, “and I felt it was time to tell Marquette’s story in a new way that highlighted its significant role in American history.” Tichelaar planned to write one novel, but the more research he did, the larger it grew, until it eventually became a trilogy. “It was seven years from conception to publication,” said Tichelaar, “but nearly 600,000 words and countless drafts later, I found it all worth it when people began reading The Marquette Trilogy.”

The plot of Iron Pioneers begins with a prologue about Father Marquette coming to the Marquette area. It then moves ahead to 1849 when Marquette was founded. It follows several fictional families through the early pioneer years, the Civil War, the fire of 1868, and the growth of Marquette. Numerous historical people, including Bishop Baraga and Peter White, are featured in the story. The story concludes in 1897 with the celebrations surrounding the Father Marquette statue’s unveiling. The successive books in the trilogy continue the story of Marquette’s history up to the sesquicentennial celebrations in 1999. “I wanted readers to feel they were stepping back in time to meet Marquette’s pioneers and to come away appreciating the sacrifices they made and the courage they showed when the settled here,” said Tichelaar.

Tichelaar has been very pleased with his readers’ responses to Iron Pioneers and his other books. “People tell me that they look at Marquette differently after they read my books. They notice old buildings, wonder about the people who once lived or worked there, and want to learn more about them. Tichelaar also noted that when he began writing Iron Pioneers, there was a lack of adult fiction set in Upper Michigan. Since then, the number of U.P. writers has exploded. “Today we can be proud that we have a vibrant and diverse U.P. literature,” said Tichelaar. “We have novels, history books, and poetry. I know of over one hundred U.P. writers all doing their part to capture the essence of our life here. I am proud to be one of the pioneers of that movement, and I intend to write many more books for the people who love this place and call it home.”

Iron Pioneers, The Marquette Trilogy: Book One (ISBN 9780979179006, Marquette Fiction, 2016) can be purchased in paperback and ebook editions through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Review copies available upon request.


Happy Birthday, Bishop Frederic Baraga

June 28, 2010

I can think of no better way to kick off my new blog than by celebrating Bishop Frederic Baraga’s birthday on June 29th.

Frederic Baraga was an integral figure in early Marquette and the Great Lakes region in general. Below is the passage in my upcoming book My Marquette, which includes a passage where Bishop Baraga is described in my novel Iron Pioneers.

            Bishop Baraga had been born in 1797 to a wealthy family in Slovenia, part of the Austrian empire. When Baraga entered the priesthood, he could have received a comfortable livelihood for the remainder of his days. Instead, at the age of thirty-three, he followed the Lord’s call to go to America. After four months in Cincinnati where he worked as a missionary and learned English, he traveled to Arbre Croche in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to serve the Ottawa Indians. Lower Michigan had many missionaries, so Baraga soon felt called to spread the Word of God to the Chippewa of the Upper Peninsula. In 1837, he traveled to La Pointe, the first missionary to visit there since Father Marquette nearly two centuries before. Then he traveled on in 1843 to Keweenaw Bay to found another mission in L’Anse. After that, he never failed as a true missionary, constantly moving from one community to another; he preached and established congregations throughout the peninsula, often helping to build birchbark churches with his own hands; he converted the locals and said masses for them, then moved on to find new converts, but always he returned to help each congregation grow in its faith. When he made a trip to Europe, he found himself a celebrity; he held audiences with the pope, dined with royalty, and became the most talked about man on the continent, but his visit and all the attention it gave him only made him homesick for the natives of Michigan who needed him. He loved the Chippewa so much, he learned their language and wrote their first dictionary and a large collection of religious and moral instructions for them. After years of self-sacrificing dedication, he humbly accepted the title of Bishop in 1853 in Sault Sainte Marie. The title did not alter his determination; he continued to preach, to walk or snowshoe through all types of weather from one parish to the next, to spread God’s love to His people, now both the Chippewa and the white settlers who had arrived because of the iron ore. Upper Michigan’s fierce weather had worn his face until he came to resemble the natives; some said this change was a mark of his saintliness. Now this great man had decided to honor Marquette, centrally located and named for Baraga’s missionary predecessor, by building his cathedral there. — Iron Pioneers

 Bishop Frederic Baraga visited Marquette many times following the city’s founding in 1849. Then in 1864, with his laying of the cornerstone in Marquette for St. Peter’s Cathedral, the center of the new Upper Michigan Diocese was transferred from Sault Sainte Marie to Marquette as a more central location. Bishop Baraga soon after moved to Marquette and settled in this brick home just a couple of blocks south from the new cathedral, where he would live until his death in 1868.

Bishop Baraga Home - Marquette

One can imagine Bishop Baraga standing in the house’s little tower, looking out over the lake in winter or watching the residents bustle about the streets of Marquette. One wonders whether he ever felt like Moses seeing the Promised Land—marveling at how the Upper Peninsula had changed in the more than thirty years since he first arrived there, long before iron ore and copper led to the influx of settlers, and whether he felt satisfaction in all the good he had done for so many for so long.

Bishop Baraga Home Historic Marker

Today, Bishop Baraga’s home is the headquarters of the Bishop Baraga Association which has several thousand members worldwide. The association’s main purpose is to further the cause for the canonization of Bishop Baraga, an effort that has been in progress since the 1950s and which my cousin, Monsignor Joseph Zryd, played a major role in promoting as president of the association in 1955 when Bishop Noa set up the historical commission to begin the canonization process. Members of the diocese have fervently worked since then to achieve Bishop Baraga’s canonization based on his years of dedication to the natives and settlers of Upper Michigan as well as the miracles ascribed to him, including healings of different ailments and his intercession through prayer. The house is open by appointment for research into the association’s archives about Bishop Baraga and the Catholic Church’s presence in Upper Michigan.

For more facts about Bishop Baraga, see the Marquette Timeline at

Check back later this week for my posting on Marquette’s First Fourth of July celebration.