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Prochaska uses Vincent journal to write books

December 9, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, , Messenger News

Fort Dodge history buffs now have another resource to learn about the Vincent House and one of the area's early movers, Webb Vincent.

"The Life of Webb Vincent" is now available for pre-order. Vincent helped start the first gypsum mill in the area around 1870 and purchased the historic Vincent House from James and Adeline Morrison Swain in 1879.

"It describes where he came from with his family, his journey and how he wound up in Fort Dodge, and his life as a child," said Dan Prochaska, who produced the book.

The story is told in Vincent's own words, Prochaska said.

"His daughter Helen kept track of his journal from when he was a child up through adulthood. When I uncovered it, I just thought that would be a good thing for people to know," Prochaska said. "It's kind of an old world speaking, there's not a lot of slang like in today's language."

Vincent was born in Pennsylvania in 1841. The book tells how he and his family came to Fort Dodge in 1855. It took 24 hours to go from Erie to Chicago by train. They crossed the Mississippi on a ferry and reached Dubuque, where the railway ended. They then bought a covered wagon to complete the journey.

Fact Box

"The Life of Webb Vincent"

Stories of an early Fort Dodge Pioneer in his own words

Pre-orders open now until Dec. 23. Call the YWCA 573-3931 to order.

Cost is $8. Credit cards are accepted.

Vincent writes how he helped build the family's first home at the age of 14, hauling lumber from Bell's Mill on the Boone River, south of what is now Webster City.

While researching the book, Prochaska learned how Vincent had met Abraham Lincoln.

"They were headed one way to the camp area, and the troops and Abraham Lincoln were coming towards them," he said. "They stepped off to the side to let Abraham Lincoln pass, and Abraham Lincoln stopped on his horse, and he started a conversation with Webb Vincent."

This is the first in a series of three books that will be written about Webb Vincent and the historic house. The project has been 10 years in the making, Prochaska said. He's been looking forward to this ever since he was Vincent House host 10 years ago.

To prepare the books, Prochaska looked through old newspaper articles and old pictures of the family.

"We found a lot of old historical articles and stuff in the house itself," he said.

The second book will contain family stories from Vincent's granddaughter, Catherine Deardorf. The third book will be a history of the Vincent House itself - "when was it built, how long did people live there, who lived there," Prochaska said.

Books are $8 and can be pre-ordered by calling the YWCA, 573-3931.

Partial proceeds of the book will go toward upkeep of the Vincent House.

"It's over 100 years old, and constantly in need of upkeep," he said.

The pre-order will be open for two weeks. After that, those who ordered will get together at the Vincent House for a book signing, Prochaska said.



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