"1673 - A Look Back in Time" available locally

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Anita Grunder of Clayton uses her voice and writing skills to share her community's unique history. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

 By Caroline Rosacker

Anita Grunder of Clayton, an author and Wine & River Vacation Rental owner, has a passion for local and Native American history, and uses her voice and writing skills to share her community's unique story. 

"Our current society is not taking very good care of our Earth," noted Grunder. "We got this far because the generations that preceded us cherished the land and its inhabitants. They survived without technology for thousands of years and were smarter than we are today in regards to ecology. They brought us here today. I think we have lost a lot in the process."

Grunder grew up in Prairie du Chien, Wis., and spent some time during the summer in Clayton with her Godparents and grew to love the small community. She and her husband, Harland, continued to vacation in the area and made the decision to become permanent residents of the small river town, nestled in the foothills of the driftless area along the Mississippi River, with their youngest daughter, Angela.

Grunder, who learned how to fly an airplane and obtained her pilots license, is also an EMT with the Garnavillo EMS Department, an accomplished quilter, worked side-by-side with her husband while they built their log cabin home and vacation rental, and has been writing seriously for the past year. "My daughter, Angela, who is a fantastic writer, encouraged me to attend Open Mic at the Guttenberg Public Library," she told The Press. "I think of myself as more of a storyteller than a writer."

Prior to attending Open Mic, Grunder was working on a previous project that takes place at the start of the Mound Builder Era. "It will be a bigger book with a lot of imagination. I wake up in the middle of the night and write down my thoughts or I will forget," she joked. 

Grunder has used her vivid imagination to relay loosely related historical facts incorporating audience member names for years. "I should have wrote down all the stories I told my daughter and members of her Girl Scout troop," she shared. 

Twenty-five copies of her current publication "1673 - A Look Back in Time" will be available at the Clayton Lighthouse, Clayton, and additional copies will be on hand at her vacation rental. 

The short story is told through the eyes of someone looking down from the sky onto Native Americans arriving on shore at Clayton for an overnight stay before heading upriver to a prairie – the home of Chief Dog, or as later named by the French, Prairie of the Dog (Prairie du Chien) rendezvous. Her descriptive prose speaks of the Native Americans' sacred care of our Earth, their tribal traditions and way of life, and the beauty of the surrounding landscape as they travel by canoe on the Mississippi River. 

The story closes on May 17, 1673 with the arrival of Father Jacques Marquette and fur trader Louis Joliet making their way down the Mississippi River passing by Clayton.  

The small river town was settled 176 year later in 1849, and boasted a population of over 1500 a few years later. 

"Clayton is currently home to approximately 30 full-time residents, growing to 125 during the summer months. Our 1860 rock school is still standing, but closed after 100 years. We have one beautiful small church still in use, two popular restaurants with a selection of great food, a marina that rents slips for large and small boats, two parks, one next to the school with a playground, and the other on the river front with a shelter where you can sit and watch the river flow by, and two Airbnb rentals where you can read more of my stories, and local history about the river," she proudly shared.

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