Charles Brown was a young lawyer when he became the right-hand man to telegraph pioneer Edward Creighton of Omaha. Brown’s journal survives as the only known daily chronicle of the building of the transcontinental telegraph. Published in August 2011 by Nebraska State Historical Society Books, the journal was edited by retired Creighton history professor Dennis N. Mihelich and Nebraska State Historical Society senior research historian James E. Potter.
Mihelich will give a free Brown Bag lecture based on the book First Telegraph Line across the Continent: Charles Brown’s 1861 Diary, beginning at noon on Thursday, January 19, at the Nebraska History Museum, Fifteenth and P streets, in Lincoln. The lecture will cover Brown’s diary, from the Smithsonian Institution collections, as the only known extensive source written about the day-to-day construction of one segment of the first transcontinental telegraph line. Brown’s lively narrative is filled with period detail about individuals, road ranches, attitudes toward Indians, public promotion of the spirit of Manifest Destiny, difficulties facing construction crews, the nature of frontier law enforcement, and even the issues of secession and Civil War.
The lecture will be filmed for Lincoln-area cable channel 5 and posted on YouTube at a later date in case you are not able to attend. Previous Brown Bag lectures at the Nebraska State Historical Society have already been posted. Copies of the book are available at the NSHS Landmark Stores. – Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor /Publications