Tomorrow would have been the two-week mark--no changes (or, no significant changes) to my book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words," and I was going to send out some copies, call it done, and adjust my lifestyle to the hole left by stopping a seven-year intensive project. Two things happened.
First, in original 1836 copies of a publication, wherein I believe that two poems by Mathew were plagiarized by someone signing with a pseudonym, I discovered that the owner of those volumes had pencilled in the last name of the poet. That is to say, the last name of the person who was signing with that pseudonym, i.e., the thief. I was able to identify him rather quickly, and it's one heck of a cool "find," but it happens that I used this as an example in the Preface. I make the Preface available as a free download on the book's supporting page; so I think I won't tell the whole story, here. One would have to read the book to find it.
The second thing that happened, is that at the last minute, I found, for sale on ebay, ex-library microfilm of a publication that Mathew published extensively in, "The Carpet-Bag." I had the entire first year in pdf format, downloadable from Google; but not the second year. My researcher had gone through that volume and photographed the pages she thought were relevant, and while she's very good at that, I still catch things she misses. So when I have this microfilm scanned, and can go through the entire second year myself, I may find something that Mathew wrote, or which is revealing in some way. Therefore, until I complete that last chore, I can't say the book is definitely completed.
I'm planning on sending a safety copy to Dr. Jim Tucker (who holds it for me at his Division, as a favor), anyway. If anyone purchases it through my online store, I will simply send them an updated version after I complete this last check on Vol. II of "The Carpet-Bag." Eventually, all of these materials will be digitized and online, so while I would love to own the physical volumes (which are rare and expensive), a pdf version will be fine, for now. I do own two original editions, both of which contain Mathew's work under various pseudonyms. I also own an edition of the Boston "Pathfinder," which was being published simultaneously by the same people, and which contains some of the material, reprinted, from the "Bag." That was a free newspaper which relied entirely on advertising. You can hardly find a reference to it, no less an actual copy. Somehow, I found one edition on Ebay, also with one of Mathew's humorous sketches.
This may sound grandiose to you, but I believe that someday, there will be a small museum dedicated to this book, and the research behind it. I have enough physical items (mostly, original publications) to fill such a museum, though it was a huge fluke to find a physical object which Mathew once owned. This, also, is described in the book, so I won't give it away, here. Like many of these discoveries, it is about 95% certain. The final 5% is very elusive...but any rational person would conclude that it is almost certainly his.
I'm writing this with very little time to organize my thoughts...so I apologize if it seems disjointed. It should take me about a month to get the microfilm scanned, and then another month to carefully go through Vol. II of the "Bag." I'll make the changes, if any are required, as I go. Probably, my researcher caught most of Mathew's writing in there, as it seems his contributions gradually tapered off in the second year. Because the book is so long, now, I won't add anything to the book unless it is really required--though so much of Mathew's work is so good--and so revealing, personally, once you know how to read his personal references--that it's hard to resist.
When I say a "small museum," what I'm seeing is really something about the size of a modest house, with a few rooms;* books and newspapers, open to Mathew's work, on display under glass; everything digitized and available on large screens, for reading; a few physical objects, also under glass. Storytellers giving their renditions of some of his humorous work. The occasional lecture; maybe small workshops. Nothing too presumptuous. But I do not think this work will simply disappear--it's too powerful, and too much fun.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Whenever I think about it, I see something which, on the outside, is made of modular square rooms, stucco walls, a green or grey color; each module or square is at a different level, and on the outside, one walks up or down concrete or stone steps which have square planters beside them, with ferns hanging out of them. There are railings on the steps. The building has solid glass panel windows, and/or sliding glass doors. The modules are not placed in a row, but grouped together to form one larger structure. It's one-story, but, with the modules at different levels. That could be entirely my imagination, building a little each time I think of it, or maybe some place I've been to that I'm vaguely remembering. I just know it always seems to be the same. Oh, inside, it has wood floors. It's a sort of combination of modern quiet and comfort, and rustic.
Music opening this page: "Over and Over Again," by the Richie Furay Band, album "I've Got a Reason"