Munroe Falls -- Local Akron University liaison Barb Baltrinic discovered she had a special connection to America's Founding Fathers at a young age.
It wasn't until a few years later, though, that she truly began to appreciate her connection to Abraham Clark -- a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
"When I was a kid, I'd hear the stories about him, we'd hear the name, and you think that's really neat," said Baltrinic, 61. "But as I got older, history became something I was more interested in because now, I'm becoming a part of it."
After more than six years researching her ancestor, Baltrinic, a former English teacher who spent 35 years in public schools in Akron and Kent, has finally had released her book on Clark dubbed "A Founder for All: Abraham Clark, Signer of the Declaration of Independence."
While Baltrinic has written pieces before for educational publications, "A Founder for All," which was officially published Dec. 16, is the Munroe Falls resident's first true book.
"Seeing your name on the cover of a book is a very odd feeling, it almost makes you feel a little giddy," said Baltrinic. "You go into being an English teacher thinking you might be the one to write the next great American novel -- but I never thought it would be a historical novel that I'd write."
The book is available in both paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com.
"It's a blend of styles based on what he did in his life," she explained. "It reads more like a novel because that's, personally, what I enjoy reading."
A self-described "shelf reader," Baltrinic said she usually finds an author she likes and reads their catalogue.
As a child, her favorite stories were anything by Dr. Seuss. Today, Baltrinic, a genealogy buff, likes to read about history.
The era of the American Revolution has become one of her favorite time periods.
Clark is Baltrinic's sixth great-grandfather in her mother's father's bloodline.
She explained how her mother would tell her stories about Clark and other members of the family.
She noted how a series of local newspaper articles called "The Fighting Clarks" were written during World War II chronicling her ancestors' involvement in American history through numerous wars including both World Wars, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War.
Clippings of those stories were kept by Baltrinic's mother in a Bible. Her mother also once drew up a family tree that traced all the way back to Clark.
"Those things are what really got me intrigued as a child," she said.
Now, Baltrinic said she wanted to write the book on Clark not only to share information about a seldom-referenced Founding Father, but to create something her family could reference in the future as well.
Baltrinic said Clark had become known as the "poor man's counselor" during the 18th century because he aimed to be a lawyer, but couldn't afford the expensive education. He would often represent poor landowners in property disputes, and protected those people by doing his own surveying of land.
Eventually, he was tapped to join representatives in the Continental Congress, where his involvement in American politics grew substantially.
Politically, she said, Clark aligned with the Patriots' cause -- a treasonous move at the time that created many enemies for the New Jersey native.
The title of the book intuitively reflects the politician's steadfast dedication to representing the people of his state.
Baltrinic noted how after the Revolutionary War, some leaders pushed Congress to award restitutions for their financial losses. A letter from Baltrinic to a friend shared his perspective on the proposal.
That letter also contains her favorite quote of Clark's.
"Abraham Clark said we couldn't afford that. He said there's no way we can do that. Who's going to pay back the common people? In a letter to a friend, he said, 'I'm going to knock the ruffles right off of their shirts,'" she recalled.
Sure enough, that measure never passed.
"That's how he was a founder for all men," she said. "He protected the rights of the common people."
"A Founder for All" ultimately covers Clark's life as he places "country before family" in his efforts to create the foundation for American government that prevails today, Baltrinic said.
"Anyone who reads this is going to learn a lot of things that happened behind the scenes, including stories you might not have read in the history books," she said. "It's also about the moral issues he faced for putting family before the love of his country."
"This is something for a better day," Baltrinic said. "In a day and age where we're looking more into our own self-interests, we need to remember that our country was built on people who put this country first."
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