Chatfield College teacher writes book on forgotten figure


ST. MARTIN — Lonnie Griffith, a faculty member and chair of the Humanities Department at Chatfield College, recently published a book titled “Almost Famous: Thomas Lyon Hamer, the Congressman Who Made Ulysses Simpson Grant”.

This book covers the life of U.S. Congressman Thomas Lyon Hamer. There have been no previous books written about Hamer, and Griffith wanted to shed some light on how influential Hamer was during the mid-1800s. Hamer is virtually unknown today, although he had a large impact in the history of the United States and was considered famous during his lifetime.

Hamer was the U.S. congressman who had appointed Hiram Ulysses Grant to West Point, when Grant famously changed his name in the process. Hamer then became a Brigadier General and died during the Mexican War in 1846.

In Grant’s memoirs, he stated that Hamer likely would have become the president of the United States had he lived longer.

This topic is important to Griffith because he grew up in Georgetown, the burial site of Hamer. Spending his entire life in Georgetown, Griffith could not believe how little history had been written about Hamer.

“A book on Hamer needed to be written because it fills a vacuum in history. He is virtually unknown, which is tragic for someone who was so famous in his own day to now be forgotten. He deserves better,” stated Griffith.

A Chatfield faculty member for about eight years, Griffith is also very knowledgeable about the history of Chatfield College. Julia Chatfield and the Ursuline Sisters arrived at St. Martin from France about the same time that Hamer was living in Georgetown. It is possible that the two might have even crossed paths, which was a fun fact for Griffith to think about while writing his book.

“The research and writing of the book has helped me grow professionally as a history teacher and demonstrates that I am a credible researcher in my field. Chatfield’s librarian, Dolores Berish, was a lot of help during this process and helped greatly in tracking down obscure sources for me. While working on the book I was able to educate many people that I had encountered, about not only Hamer, but Chatfield as well,” Griffith said.

The book is now available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Authorhouse, and on campus in St. Martin.

Chatfield College is an open enrollment college, and it is a private, faith-based, liberal arts college offering the Associate of Arts degree in Brown County and Cincinnati.

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