CLS: Our Great Lakes

This week’s speakers will shed light on the history and stories of the Great Lakes, from Ohio’s first peoples to notable ships in history.

Brian Schoen

“The Battle for Ohio: Indians and Americans, 1786-1814
Monday, July 17, 10:30 a.m. | Orchestra Hall

The United States might have “won” the Revolutionary War and European courts recognized their claim to the vast land between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes.  Yet, in those lands US victory only heightened tensions as federal attempts to control and settle that region angered diverse Indian peoples who proved willing to take up arms to protect the lands they called home. This talk will examine the meanings that different groups—Indian and Euro-Americans—gave to the land that would be known as Ohio. It will examine some of the principle actors and shifting alliances in both the young republic and Indian country amongst those who pursued and resisted the early US settlement of the region. This decades-old battle ultimately came to a head in the War of 1812, a battle that ultimately brought one of the most resource-rich areas in the world under US control with devastating consequences for its native inhabitants.

Brian Schoen is the James Richard Hamilton/Baker and Hostetler Professor of Humanities and Chair of the Department of History at Ohio University.  His research explores the political, social and economic history of the early United States through the Civil War. His first book The Fragile Fabric of Union: Cotton, Federal Politics, and the Global Origins of the Civil War, won the Southern Historical Association’s Bennett H. Wall book award. He teaches courses on the early U.S. republic, the American Civil War, the American south and capitalism and its critics. He is the author or editor of several articles, book chapters and four edited collections, including most recently Continent in Crisis: The U.S. Civil War in North America (2022) and, with Tim Anderson, Settling Ohio: First Peoples and Beyond (forthcoming with Ohio University Press.) Schoen was raised in Arkansas but married the daughter of two Bostonians, making the Midwest a logical middle ground.  He, his wife, and two daughters have happily called Athens, Ohio their home since 2006.

Dr. Tim Anderson

“Selective Migration and the Production of Ohio’s Regional Cultural Landscapes in the Early Republic: A Genealogical Geography”

Tuesday, July 18, 10:30 a.m. | Orchestra Hall

Both the historical and contemporary cultural landscapes of Ohio reflect the legacy of the settlement of a variety of population groups during the state’s early period of settlement. During this formative era, migrants from three of the primary East Coast culture regions, as well as foreign immigrants hailing mainly from Germany, funneled into the frontier Old Northwest via Zane’s Trace, the National Road, The Great Lakes and the Ohio River. As migrants from each of these hearth areas settled in geographically separate regions in Ohio, they brought with them characteristic values and ideals, including agricultural traditions and material culture traditions. This resulted in distinctive regional cultures and landscapes. Relying heavily on genealogical information, this talk analyzes Ohio’s early settlement history and geography, delineates the state’s distinctive culture regions and identifies the attendant cultural landscape features that distinguish each of these regions.

Dr. Timothy G. Anderson is Associate Professor of Graduate Chair in the Department of Geography at Ohio University, where he has taught courses in culture and historical geography since 1996. His research interests focus on the historical settlement geography of the United States, especially since the production of regional and ethical cultural landscapes governmentality and specialization theory and the production of cultural landscapes associated with Germanic diasporic movements and communities. His most recent research involves a book project on the historical settlement geography of Ohio in the first half of the 19th century, which focuses on the production of the states regional cultural landscapes, resulting from the migration of five different population groups during the Early National Period.

Georgeann & Mike Wachter

The Prison Ship Success”

Tuesday, July 18, 3:30 p.m. | Orchestra Hall

Constructed of Burmese teak in the Far East, the “Convict Ship” Success is the most fabled ship lost in the Great Lakes. While much of her story is true, showmen who exhibited her around the globe invented many yarns to impress visitors to the floating wax museum.

“Sidewheel Treasure and Tragedy”

Wednesday, July 19, 10:30 a.m. | Orchestra Hall

On the open waters of the Great Lakes, sidewheel steamer mishaps account for six of the 10 worst loss of life disasters. These accidents escalated in severity, from the beaching of the Walk-in-the-Water in Lake Erie, to the sinking of the Lady Elgin on Lake Michigan. Many of these were true treasure ships, since they carried gold and the personal possessions of hundreds of immigrants. Highlights of disaster causes, paddle wheel engines, and comparisons of the wrecks on the bottom to current museum sidewheelers completes this talk.

Mike and Georgann Wachter are well known as the authors of Erie Wrecks and Lights, Erie Wrecks East, and Erie Wrecks West. In addition to their books, Mike and Georgann have published a Lake Erie shipwreck map listing over 350 GPS wreck coordinates for divers. They have been diving around the world since the mid 1970’s but particularly enjoy the pristine and perfectly preserved shipwrecks that lie in the fresh waters of the Great Lakes. This has resulted in the discovery of over 50 wreck sites. Each year they create a least one new program for presentations to educate divers and historians in venues as far away as Canada and Florida. They have written numerous magazine articles and have a passion for creating diver access to and preserving Great Lakes maritime history. Both have been active in the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST) where Mike is past president and Georgann has been treasurer. Under Mike’s tenure, six shipwrecks in Ohio waters were moored for divers. They are active members of Lake Erie Wreck Divers and Bay Area Divers scuba clubs. They co-chair the annual Bay Area Shipwrecks & Scuba symposium.

Georgann was inducted into the international Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2013 for documenting over 300 Great Lakes shipwrecks with her writing, research and marine artwork. Mike is a retired management consultant who now devotes his time to finding, exploring and telling tales of Great Lakes shipwrecks and lighthouses. He hosts a database on wrecks at . The collaboration of Georgann’s love of research and Mike’s love of storytelling provides the fuel for the Erie Wrecks series.

John DeBeck

“Iron Ore Trade” – Program Canceled
Thursday, July 20, 10:30 a.m. | Orchestra Hall

“The Great Lakes Shipwreck” – Program Canceled 
Thursday, July 20, 3:30 p.m. | Orchestra Hall



The event is finished.


Jul 17 - 21, 2023



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