Sue Jarosh publishes fifth historical children’s book

Sue Steckart Jarosh’s latest children’s book about Door County rolled off the press this month and is packed with adventure, excitement, and well-researched history.

Camden and the Isle of Cana Cat, which is illustrated with Jarosh’s own photos, is his fifth book in a series of stories set in historic Door County lighthouses. Cana Island Lighthouse was built in 1869 when it was discovered that Baileys Harbor’s first light, the ‘birdcage’, actually steered ships in the wrong direction and the Baileys Harbor leading lights which replacing him did not go far enough offshore. Yet even with the new Isle of Cana fire 85 feet above sea level and visible 18 nautical miles away, there were many shipwrecks.

With five children’s books now published, it’s hard to imagine Jarosh hasn’t been an author all her life, but writing is her third career. She worked for five years as a full-time elementary school teacher and 30 years as a substitute teacher, plus more than three decades as co-owner, with her husband, Joe, of Jacksonport Craft Cottage.

All the while, living most of his life on the peninsula where his family has been for generations, Jarosh steeped himself in history and thought about preserving it for his grandchildren and others.

After retiring from the gift shop in 2015, she became a tour guide at the 154-year-old Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula National Park. The pieces all fell into place, and Jarosh’s first historical fiction book for children, Door County Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Mouse, rolled off the presses less than two years later. It is featured on the Storybook Trail in Murphy Park near Egg Harbor.

In Jarosh’s latest book, a young boy named Camden hears stories from his grandparents about his great-great-grandfather, Jesse Brown, who was once the lighthouse keeper on the Isle of Cana. Dropped off for a tour, Camden stops at the Interpretive Center to watch a video on the Isle of Cana, view all the exhibits and admire Legacy of Light, an exhibition of all the keepers who lived in the lighthouse with their families. Then he falls asleep while waiting to meet Hal, the current lighthouse keeper and gardener.

In his dream, Camden encounters a friendly yellow cat who not only has lived at the lighthouse for at least nine lifetimes, but can also tell Camden all about the buildings on the island and, in particular, the major shipwrecks and other disasters that had occurred nearby. : the three-day Alpena Gale which destroyed many ships seeking refuge nearby; The Windsorwhose captain wrote a message asking for help on a board that eventually floated ashore; PE Roycewhich ran aground when it came to salvaging the wreckage of the The Windsor; The Frank O’Connor, on which a fire broke out and the crew were rescued by the lighthouse keeper and his assistant; and MJ Bartelmewhose crew was rescued after being stranded in thick fog.

The cat also tells Camden what life was like for the Guardians’ families and that one of the Guardians from long ago, Jesse Brown, named him Buddy.

Finally, Warden Hal wakes Camden and apologizes that cleaning up after the previous night’s storm—in which Buddy was the hero to alert people to a ship in distress—had delayed their visit to the lighthouse. Then Camden’s grandparents come across the causeway on the tractor/wagon with an exciting surprise for him.

In real life, Camden is Jarosh’s grandson; Buddy is his cousins’ cat; and Keeper Hal is Hal Wilson, the manager of Cana Island.

Angela C. Hale