The Racine Heritage Museum has published a monograph entitled Traveling to Root River: First Person Narratives of Racine Pioneers. The booklet includes first-person narratives by seven of Racine County’s first settlers, and is based on a chapter in Racine historian Eugene Leach’s unpublished manuscript highlighting the early history of Racine County and the City of Racine.
Museum volunteer John E. Magerus, Ph.D, who compiled and edited this booklet, provides a biographical sketch of Leach, introducing the man behind the gathering of these histories. The booklet can be bought at the Museum’s store and features a preface by historian John D. Buenker.
John Magerus began volunteering in the Museum’s Archives in 2008. While considering various projects, he happened upon information on the Wisconsin State Historical Society’s website discussing the “Papers of Leach, a Racine, Wis. Historian and curator of the Racine County Museum, including an unpublished manuscript, 'The Story of Racine County—A History.' ” Magerus went on to discover the manuscript filled 14 archival boxes of manuscripts located at UW-Parkside. The reconstructed manuscript was 1,371 pages.
Magerus says that "volunteering at Heritage Museum is a wonderful way to meet fascinating people, learn about the history of this community, and discover treasures to share with others."
In an effort to make Leach’s work better known and more available to a contemporary audience, a second, complementary volume, Living at Root River: First Personal Narrative of Racine Pioneers will be published in the near future. Other publications based on the work of Leach are planned. Copies of the first title in the series are available for purchase at the Racine Heritage Museum.