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Underwater Archaeological Society of Chicago

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October UASC speaker: Fred Neuschel

The UASC in conjunction with the Chicago Maritime Museum is pleased to present a special program commemorating the 100th anniversary of the loss of the Christmas Ship, the Rouse Simmons. Our featured speaker, Fred Neuschel, is the foremost authority on the long history of the Christmas Tree trade on Lake Michigan. Fred will separate fact from fiction of Captain Santa and the Christmas Tree Ship.

Fred Neuschel's book Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships brings the maritime heritage of the Great Lakes to life, using the tragic story of the Rouse Simmons as a window into the robust but oft-forgotten communities that thrived along Lake Michigan from the Civil War to World War 1.

Memorialized in songs, poems, fiction, and even a musical, the famous ship that went down in a Thanksgiving storm while delivering Christmas trees to Chicago has long been shrouded in myth and legend. As a result, the larger story of the captain, crew, and affected c ommunities has often been overlooked. Fred Neuschel delves into this everyday life, camaraderie, drudgery, ambition, and adventure - with tales of the Midwest's burgeoning immigrant groups and rapid industrialization - to create a true story that is even more fascinating than the celebrated legends.

Fred Neuschel was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and lives with his wife in Crystal Lake, IL. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School and has worked for over thirty years in mental health chaplaincy and counseling. His previous historical work has been published in Inland Seas, Voyageur, Chicago History, and Wisconsin Magazine of History.

 
 
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