Welcome to the Stories from the Land book club

Thank you for visiting a new kind of book club — one that is open to everyone no matter where you live.  This is an online meeting place and here’s how the virtual book club works. 

You buy a copy of the featured book—see below for how to do that—or borrow a copy from your library.  Then, over a period of six weeks, you read the book, and make comments or ask questions. You can post your comments and questions at the bottom of the book club page. This new book club is called Stories From the Land, and features Jerry’s seven novels.

Jerry will respond to your questions and comments, that are posted on this website, as well as ask additional questions (see the questions below to get you started) as the reading period continues. You don’t even have to sign up.  Merely begin reading the book, and post your comments and questions on this website for all members of the book club to see.

The first book for the book club is The Travels of Increase Joseph.  Here’s a little of what the book is about: Inspired by actual events that took place in upstate New York and Wisconsin in the mid-nineteenth century, The Travels of Increase Joseph is the first in Jerry Apps’s series set in fictional Ames County, Wisconsin

This first meeting of the book club is February 1 and continues to March 15. 
The Travels of Increase Joseph podcast

The Travels of Increase Joseph: Study Guide Questions

  1. How would you compare the challenges that Pastor Increase Joseph and his followers faced when they arrived in the “wilds” of central Wisconsin with the challenges other settlers from New England faced when they arrived in Wisconsin?
  2. Increase Joseph’s message was a concern for the land—the need to respect and care for it.  How successful was Increase Joseph in having farmers of the day follow his advice?
  3. To what extent does Increase Joseph’s message, preached in the 1800s, have application today?  Who are the Increase Joseph’s of the 2000s?
  4.  How would you compare Increase Joseph’s Standalone religion with today’s religions?
  5. To what extent does the “Restorative Tonic,” add or take away from Increase Joseph’s motto—THE LAND COMES FIRST?
  6. The Travels of Increase Joseph is a novel. It is a story. Most of the characters, and of course the story itself, is fiction.  The historical events, dates and several places are as accurate as I could make them.   What role can a story play in alerting people to issues and challenges in far greater depth, than “traditional” news sources can provide?
  7. What lingering questions and comments do you have after reading the book?

Here is what one reviewer wrote: The Travels Of Increase Joseph by Jerry Apps is a superbly crafted historical novel of a pioneer preacher who came to the wildlands of Wisconsin in 1852 with his small gathering of followers, the Standalone Fellowship. Supporting the Fellowship by selling his special curative tonic, and delivering oratory and with powerful messages that are nothing short of spellbinding, Joseph Link dared to speak out as he journeyed and his words and ideas made an impression that stayed. The Travels Of Increase Joseph is a most thoughtful and wonderfully entertaining read. Jerry Apps writes with vibrant character and has a penchant for making Wisconsin history come alive. Midwest Book Review.

Buy the book from your local bookstores, online, or from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, WI (Book sales are a fundraiser for the Library Friends). The Patterson phone is 920-622-3835. Email = barnard@wildroselibrary.org.


  1. Before we get started discussing the book after Feb 1, anyone have any questions about why I wrote the book, where I got the idea for it and why I named the main character, Increase Joseph Link?


  2. Thought you might like to know that there was a real Standalone Religion. It began in Wayne County New York, and came with the early settlers to central Wisconsin, where a Standalone church was built just south of the village of Wild Rose. The church building is gone, but the cemetery remains.


      • Increase Joseph Link is named after two important Wisconsin people, Increase Lapham,(scientist and writer) and Jerome Increase Case (inventor and industrialist). I have no idea where I got Joseph and Link. From the time when I was a kid, I was fascinated by two kinds of men who traveled in rural areas–the medicine show men and the itinerant preachers. Increase Joseph Link is a combination of the two. His theology comes from the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, and transcendentalism.


  3. When I started to read the book I thought Jerry would answer the question about why he wrote book to be his love of the land and his love of rural Wisconsin. I have only just started the book but already can feel Jerry’s deep interest in the land of central Wisconsin and the preservation of that land.


  4. The red book and tonic keep things interesting and earthy. Joseph, speaking to lumberjacks on p. 191, starting with “the gold we are born with”, threads almost a Deep Ecology perspective or some type of spiritual/religious land ethic. The story has a decent frontier feel to it. The lightning strike and long white hair make me think Joseph had a Druid like quality to him.


    • The Underground Railroad link in the story carried the story in an interesting direction too. It’s easy to forget all the heavy issues involved during this 1800s time period. A lot was happening in those carriage days! Sometimes I forget that.


      • Many people do not realize how important Wisconsin was for the Underground R.R. The port of Green Bay was involved, along with other Lake Michigan ports, where escaped slaves got on ships headed to Canada.


  5. I’v just started the book and find it intriguing to see if it is revealed just what information the “red book” contains. Maybe you will reveal that at the end.


  6. I finished the book today – loved it. It was easy for me to read as I grew up on a family farm near Wisconsin Dells in the ‘50s and could relate to so much of what you wrote about.The love of the land is with me today even though I am now a city dweller. I love the ending where I found info re the red book! I think most early settlers to Wisconsin expierenced many of the same struggles as the characters in the book. On our small farm, we had similar struggles. The “tonic” – definitely one of those home brews. I enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to the next one in this book club.


  7. The first week of the book club is now completed. A big thank you to those who wrote comments and asked questions. We have until March 15, so there is plenty of time to chime in with your comments and questions.

    Anyone want to comment on Chapters 1-4 when Increase Joseph was still in Plumb Falls, NY? When I was growing up, a farmer on a nearby farm was struck by lightning. He lost his voice and was a changed person after that. The neighbor did not take up preaching, however.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.