When local author Dan Bisher walked into Broad Street Market on Oct. 16 to promote his new book, “Faded Memories: Examination & Profiles of Hillsdale County’s Pioneer Period” he had 40 copies to sell. He left with only 7.
Broad Street Market hosted Bisher as part of Hillsdale’s Awesome Autumn festivities. Bisher, a native of Hillsdale, was there to promote and sign copies of his new book. “Faded Memories,” a history of Hillsdale County, was published in August and offers “a glimpse of the lives and events experienced by original settlers and Native Americans,” according to the claims of its blurb, and investigate stories such as the murky events surrounding the death of Chief Baw Beese, the Potawatomi Indian chief after whom Lake Baw Beese is named.
“Dan Bisher is a great friend of Broad Street Market; I love Dan and Noel,” Robert Socha, co-owner of Broad Street Market, said. “I love the book that he wrote, so we wanted to help him however he could. He wanted to come here during the Awesome Autumn event and chose to have his book signing here. It was really successful. He sold a lot of books and we were able to have a lot of people come in the market that might not have been here before. He was here about two and a half hours and a lot of people came in here to see him.”
Bisher said that his research on Chief Baw Beese was the most exciting part of the writing process, and that his research on the topic and the book itself was varied.
“The information came from a lot of different sources: the National Archives at Chicago, the state archives in Lansing, Michigan at the Michigan Historical Center, and the Mitchell Research Center here in Hillsdale,” Bisher said. “[Mitchell] is really one of the finest small research centers, especially in Michigan. I’ve been to all the ones in the seven surrounding counties, but they are not nearly as complete and they don’t do nearly the kind of archiving that they do here in Hillsdale. It’s a very important depository of the history of this county.”
A graduate from California State University, Fullerton with a major in journalism, Bisher said he wrote the book because of his interest in local history.
“It’s important for small communities especially to keep alive and vibrant the things that made this place happen,” Bisher said. “Who was it that started Hillsdale? What was here before the town? Before the college? I think that those things are important, especially for young people. It’s important to have a real sense of roots.”
Bisher grew up in Hillsdale and attended Hillsdale High School, eventually returning to the Midwest after college to work for the Hillsdale Daily News as a managing editor. After his time at the newspaper, he worked for Hillsdale College in Media Relations as a writer. For five years he hosted the historical program “Tales of the Old Sauk Trail” on Hillsdale’s WCSR radio station, and now does webcasting for Charger home football games after spending three years as the assistant to the athletic director.
“Faded Memories” is not the first book Bisher has written. He helped to write a book called “Dateline: Vietnam” because of his experience as a U.S. Marine Corps combat correspondent, and in 2003 he published “History of the Hillsdale Community Health Center,” a history of the local hospital in Hillsdale.
Bisher said that the time and effort that went into writing his most recent book was extensive and taxing because he was working on other things as he was writing it.
“It took the patience of a monk and the aggressiveness of a warrior,” Bisher said. “Lots of times it would end up in a pile on the side of my desk for months at a time. I kept telling people that I was ‘writing a book’ but after ten or fifteen years of hearing that people start to stop believing you. So after 25 years I told myself ‘it’s time to publish it.’ The process of publishing began in February and the book was published in August.”
However, Bisher said that all the work was worthwhile.
“History is my real passion,” he said. “Writing just pays the bills.”
“Faded Memories: Examination & Profiles of Hillsdale County’s Pioneer Period” is available to purchase for $32.95.