Author will discuss and sign Civil War book with scenes in Niagara, Orleans

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 19 May 2024 at 6:34 pm

Tim Wendel will give presentations May 28 at Author’s Note

Rebel Falls is a book of fiction based on actual facts and people in the Niagara Falls area. Tim Wendel, a Lockport native, will be in Medina for a book talk and signing on May 28. 

MEDINA – A Lockport native and noted author will launch his newest book at a book signing May 28 at Author’s Note in Medina.

Tim Wendel grew up in Lockport, where his parents lived on Canal Road, and graduated in 1974 from Royalton-Hartland Central School. He has always loved to write and during high school he was correspondent for the Niagara Gazette.

Now a resident of Charlottesville, Va., Wendel is writer-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University and the author of several books, including Summer of ’68, Cancer Crossings (featuring cancer doctors at Roswell Park), High Heat and the historical novels, Castro’s Curveball and its sequel Escape from Castro’s Cuba.

Rebel Falls is fictionset in the late summer of 1864 and based on actual, yet long-obscured events and people of the Civil War in the Niagara Falls area, including Medina, Orleans and Niagara counties, Wendel said.

He became interested in the Civil War after reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and Carl Sandberg’s Lincoln. Wendel discovered while most of the fighting was going on in the south, espionage and spying was taking place all along the Canadian border. At the center of it were two spies, John Yates Beall and Bennet Burley, whom President Lincoln had refused to pardon for their crimes.

Their goal was to seize the USS Michigan, the only warship left on the Great Lakes, and create enough dissension that people would blame Lincoln and he would lose the election, which was to take place the day after the spies planned crime. They also planned to bomb Buffalo, Cleveland and Toledo.

Wendel said he was a history buff, yet he had never heard of Beall and Burley.

“The more research I did, the more I realized there was more going on than what history has reported,” he said.

He also learned John Wilkes Booth had been accepting money from a bank in Montreal, and a bank note was found in his pocket when he was apprehended about two weeks after assassinating President Lincoln.

Wendel’s book also hits on the role the Cataract Hotel played in the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls.

The author said it took him three years to write the book. He said Niagara Falls is such a beautiful area, he is considering to focus it in his next book.

Author’s Note has scheduled two sessions with Wendel on May 28. One is at 6 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m. Anticipating a large turnout, Author’s Note owner Julie Berry said they are selling tickets for $5 each to reserve a seat at either presentation. The $5 will then be deducted from the cost of purchasing a book. She encourages purchasing tickets in advance at the store or online.

Attendees are asked to be in their seats 10 minutes before their scheduled session. Those not there by five minutes before will lose their seat.

Those unable to get a ticket can still come and meet Wendel and have their book signed. They are asked to arrive just before 6 or just before 7 so if anyone couldn’t make it, a seat might be available. People waiting for just the signing will be allowed in at 7:45 p.m. Berry said Wendel will only sign books purchased at Author’s Note.

Wendel will also give his presentation at 6 p.m. May 29 at Woodward Memorial Library in Le Roy.