I received my B.A. in history from Mary Manse College and my M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Toledo where I was the last student of W. Eugene Hollon, the noted historian of the American West, a teacher-scholar and great writer who was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for his book The Southwest: Old and New. After graduation, I worked as a writer in a nuclear power plant, an experience that taught me how people make decisions in the real world and so helped me become a better writer. I later became a history professor and a department chair. I said goodbye to my teaching and administrative career to accept the Earhart Foundation Fellowship at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan and to become a full-time writer of history.
I am a writer who has lived most of my life in the 12-mile by 12-mile square block carved out around Fort Miamis on the Maumee River that Anthony Wayne purchased from the Indians in the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. I got my love of history from my father, John Stockwell, who was proud of his Irish heritage and who often took my sisters Kathleen and Roberta, my brother John, and myself to visit the remnants of 19th century canals built in northwest Ohio, reminding us that our ancestors came to this country to build them and for the freedom and opportunity that America promised. I got my love of storytelling from my mother, Elizabeth Schultz Stockwell, an actress, a director, a prize-winning poet, and an English, speech, and acting teacher.
I am the author of history books used by young people throughout the United States including The Ohio Adventure, A Journey through Maine, and Massachusetts, Our Home, the 2005 winner of the Golden Lamp Award from the Association of Educational Publishers for Best Book. I am also the author of The Other Trail of Tears: The Removal of the Ohio Indians, a 2016 finalist for the Ohio Library Association's Best Book Award; Woodrow Wilson: The Last Romantic in the First Men: America’s Presidents Series, a 2018 Dartmouth Medal nominee; and The American Story: Perspectives and Encounters to 1865 for Bridgepoint Education. My essays on George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt have appeared in major scholarly studies. I have written for the website of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. My essay, “Most Loyal but Forgotten Son: Anthony Wayne and George Washington,” appeared in Sons of the Father: Washington and his Protégés for the University of Virginia Press in 2013. My latest books are Unlikely General: "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America published by Yale University Press on April 24, 2018, and Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians, published by Southern Illinois University Press on September 12, 2018.