As a mobile society, continually crisscrossing the continent, we have history often at our fingertips, and yet we miss much of it because we are either hurried or ignorant. How many of us have bypassed a host of Mormon and American historical sites time and again because we either didn’t know they were there, didn’t know who to ask, or just plain didn’t have time to make the necessary contact? Stanley Kimball’s new guide and commentary on Historic Sites and Markers along the Mormon and Other Great Western Trails is an in-hand compass for both the “easy on, easy off” visitor and the dedicated scholar who wants to spend extended time tracking original routes. Hundreds of site descriptions and thirty quality maps, with insets depicting the locations within the greater geographical area, are augmented by seventy-one photographs to facilitate the reader’s perception of place. Now there is little excuse for outbound trail enthusiasts not to slip onto one of these historically exciting corridors of yesteryear and satisfy a personal yen to stand on site.
Whenever a writer undertakes to identify more than 550 historic sites and markers, spread over some ten thousand miles of trail, the possibility of occasional errors, by author or publisher, is increased by sheer weight of numbers. A single example might be cited in the section entitled “The First Mormon Road West: Across New York in 1831,” and the “Nineveh Historic Site,” segment no. 2 (270). The author states, “In the 1830s Nineveh [Broome County, New York] was known as Colesville, the location of the first branch (congregation) of the Mormon church. This branch was one of the three groups of Mormons that followed their prophet west into Ohio” (270). In actuality, the village of Nineveh was likewise Nineveh in the latter 1820s and 1830s. Situated on the west side of the Susquehanna River in the township of Colesville, Nineveh existed as a contemporary community with the village of Colesville, for which the township was named. The village of Colesville formerly stood near the geographical east-west center of the township at the crossroads of what is now the Colesville Road (or Farm to Market Road) and Watrous Road, southwest of Harpursville. The original village of Colesville has disappeared today. The Mormon Colesville branch was centered in the rural area of the township at the Joseph Knight, Sr., farm on the east side of the Susquehanna River, adjacent to the village of Nineveh.