Colonel Bob

So, last week, Fabulous Publisher Babe ™ and I did a writing vacation on the north shore of Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula. The cabin we were in (Angeles) had a topographical map on one wall, showing the high end of the long river valley, and an area called the Colonel Bob Wilderness.

Seriously? What kind of name is Colonel Bob Mountain?

Turns out, it was named for famed, 19th Century politician and orator Robert Green Ingersoll, aka Colonel Bob. So I had to look they man up. Really fascinating dude.

From the wiki:

Ingersoll was most noted as an orator, one of the most popular of the age, when oratory was public entertainment. He spoke on every subject, from Shakespeare to Reconstruction, but his most popular subjects were agnosticism and the sanctity and refuge of the family. He committed his speeches to memory although they were sometimes more than three hours long. His audiences were said never to be restless.

Wow. In addition, he was a lawyer who did some interesting representation, as well as raising the 11th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Cavalry for the Civil War. His unit fought at Shiloh.

He’s also famous for apparently bringing back Thomas Paine, after the man had largely been forgotten:

(More wiki) Susan Jacoby credits Ingersoll for the revival of Thomas Paine‘s reputation in American intellectual history, which had decreased after the publication of The Age of Reason published during 1794-95. Paine postulated that men, not God, had written the Bible, and Ingersoll included this work in his lectures on freethinking. As the only freethinker of his time with a wide audience outside of the unbelieving circle, he reintroduced Paine’s ideas to a new generation.

He’s also buried at Arlington.

(More wiki) In 2005, a popular edition of Ingersoll’s work was published by Steerforth Press. Edited by the Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Tim Page, “What’s God Got to Do With It: Robert Ingersoll on Free Speech, Honest Talk and the Separation of Church and State” brought Ingersoll’s thinking to a new audience.

After reading that whole wiki entry, I had to buy the book. It will be arriving in the next few days, so I’ll be reading it and expanding my mind. Y’all ought to read about the man as well.

He was impressive enough they named a mountain after him. How many other people can you say that about?