It was the Trial of the Century. And it was in Detroit and not Los Angeles. And no one on the jury had ever heard of O.J.

For more than two years, newspapers around the nation carried prominent articles on “The Detroit-Jackson County War” culminating in “The Great Railroad Conspiracy Trial.” It was by far the most momentous event of the middle of the 19th Century. New York Governor William Seward (before he became Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state) served as chief defense attorney for fifty-five farmers accused of hundreds of crimes against railroad barons and their property.

Now all but forgotten, the railroad war and subsequent trial changed life forever not only for the people of Michigan but for the entire country because it transformed federal and state railroad laws and altered the course of the development of the western United States.

In FROM SPIRIT LAKE TO GOOSE LAKE: A Bridge Over Time, Bill Haney weaves stories from three separate and distinct events that played out centuries apart in the countryside of Jackson County, Michigan.

While building a golf course at a rundown farm they had moved to near Grass Lake, Michigan in rural Jackson County, Bill and his children found parts of a wagon abandoned by pioneers in the 1840s. Those finds, and stories from local people about early settlers, stimulated Haney to do research on the area, leading to the publication of From Spirit Lake to Goose Lake: A Bridge over Time, published in 1971 by The New Press.