Jack Harpster The Author

Jack is seventy-two years old, and retired seven years ago following a forty-three year career on the business side of the newspaper industry. At retirement, he was the executive director of advertising for the Las Vegas, NV, Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun, and director of new media for the Stephens Media Group.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism. Jack entered the newspaper business shortly thereafter as an advertising trainee on a small Southern California daily newspaper. He rose through the ranks to retail advertising manager, promotion/marketing manager, classified advertising manager and advertising director of Copley Los Angeles Newspaper Group, before moving to Las Vegas in 1986.

During his career he served on the boards of numerous professional newspaper organizations. He was also a board member, and often officer, of twelve civic, business and charitable organizations in Las Vegas.

The majority of Jack's writing before retirement was business communication. He also taught classes on effective business and sales correspondence; and wrote the course outline and teaching notes for a for-credit licensed real estate marketing course in California. He was the instructor for three years for the advertising and marketing segments of the Newspaper Association of America's "Seminar for Young Newspaper Men and Women." In the late 70s and early 80s, in what he describes as "a period of creative exuberance," he wrote six or seven non-fiction magazine articles on history and travel, and was published in "Travel & Leisure," "Kiwanis Magazine" and a number of lesser publications. The biography of John Ogden was his first book.

John Ogden is my great (9) grandfather, on my maternal grandmother's side, and William B. Ogden a very distant cousin, many times removed. Shortly after retirement I decided to try my hand at genealogy. Although I didn't particularly enjoy the avocation -- too many impersonal names and dates assigned to small, lifeless boxes - I did discover that I was a direct descendant of one of our country's very earliest citizens, John Ogden, the Pilgrim. I've always been a very patriotic American, and this discovery filled me with a great deal of pride. I decided to find out more about the man.

I purchased a copy of a 1907 family history, The Ogden Family in America, a remarkable 532-page tome on Ogdens through the centuries, and pored over it. I also ordered a number of history books through our library's wonderful interlibrary loan program, and began reading the earliest colonial histories of the places Ogden had lived. I soon found there was a shameful dearth of information about the man, despite his importance in early colonial America. I also discovered that much of what had been written, even in the most scholarly histories, had been taken from the Ogden Family genealogy book. Over time, I began to relish every scrap of information I could cull about John Ogden and his activities; and eventually, I put this material into a small four-page monograph that I sent to all my Ogden relatives I knew about.

Case closed. Or so I believed. But as I continued to read and research I discovered that in professional genealogy circles going all the way back to the 1970s, there was knowledge that much of the material in Wheeler's Ogden genealogy book was inaccurate. It seems that the person hired by the book's editors in the late 1890s to research Ogden's early roots in England was a con man. A fraud. He had made up most of the material.

I decided to make it my mission to set it straight. This was, after all, my great (9) grandfather; and he deserved to have his story recorded, and have it recorded accurately.

That's the story. It does not reflect all the money I've spent on this project, or the hundreds of hours spent researching in dusty 350-year old archives, colonial town records and widely scattered bookshelves. But that was the fun part.

My second book, on William B. Ogden, was simply an outgrowth of the first. I had discovered him in my Ogden family research, found out how historically important he was in American history; and I decided he too deserved to have the story of his life recorded for posterity.

Neither of these books are Ogden family books, nor genealogy studies, although both of them are about the Ogden family. I chose to have them published by the academic press, rather than the trade press, because they were both first-time biographies; and I wanted to insure that the books would be taken seriously by historians, academics, and scholars.

I hope you enjoy reading these books, and I welcome your comments and/or criticisms, and your questions. You can reach me at jsharpster@charter.net

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