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The Making of an American: The Autobiography of a Hungarian Immigrant, Appalachian Entrepreneur, and OSS Officer by Martin Himler, edited by Cathy Cassady Corbin

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What a fascinating story!  Martin Himler (1889-1961) immigrated from Hungary to America at the age of 18 in 1907 with only nine cents in his pocket. He found work as a coal miner in Thacker, and later Gary, West Virginia, and in Pennsylvania. Then he became a peddler in coal camps in West Virginia and Virginia. In 1913 he published the first issue of a weekly newspaper, The Hungarian Miners Journal, that became self-supporting within five months with as many as 60,000 subscribers. He opened his first mine in Ajax, West Virginia, in 1917, and in 1919 he bought coal lands in Martin County, Kentucky, and created a workers’ cooperative owned by shareholders who were required to live in his company town of Himlerville. Much of the town and the mine were destroyed in a flood in June of 1928, and the enterprise was abandoned, but Himler continued to publish his newspaper until he retired in 1957. During World War II Himler served in the Office of Strategic Services (which became the Central Intelligence Agency) as a Colonel, and in that role, after the war, he interrogated Nazi war criminals. Himler’s autobiographical manuscript was passed down to family members after his death and finally landed at the Martin County Historical and Genealogical Society which made it available to Cathy Cassady Corbin, a retired English teacher, to edit.

Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2018. 298 pages with an Index, Notes, Appendix, maps, photos, an Introduction by Doug Cantrell, and a Foreword by Charles Fenyvesi. Trade paperback