Hank Peck, a World War I veteran hoboing and looking for work during the Great Depression, makes an unfortunate choice when he hops off the Milwaukee Railroad just outside Uppsala, Wisconsin. Unknowingly, he has landed in the midst of a ghost story: the Uppsalans have violently expelled earlier settlers from the town, and a deadly, vengeful spirit has terrified them ever since. Rather than welcome a traveler in need, the townspeople threaten Hank and drive him away. But something he has yet to understand scratches at Hank’s spirit and urges him to stay to see them through the haunting and bring it to an end. He meets two new friends, sister and brother Polly Cooper and Daniel Cornelius, Oneidas who own a farm outside of Uppsala, and they decide to help Hank find a way to expel the ghost.
Invited to a gathering of Oneida elders, Hank learns a way to face the spirit, and along with his friends and a few courageous Uppsalans, he helps drive the spirit back into the earth from which it came. Teamwork, composure, resolve, and spiritual commitment may succeed where strength alone cannot. Wiskalo Chookalo recreates a world of the American past in a Midwestern story of suffering, friendship, courage, compassion, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice: values that got Americas through an age of privation, loss, and spiritual doubt. Not all ghosts haunt mysterious passageways in ancient castles, and not all heroes achieve their quests on battlefields.
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Edward S. Louis lives in Wisconsin, where he teaches and does scholarly work on early languages and literatures. He and his wife, a painter, enjoy travel in Europe, Mediterranean cooking, small-town life, and amateur archeology. They belong to Bingley, a buff tabby cat, who rules their home benignly.