ISBN-13: 9781490442938 / Angielski / Miękka / 2013 / 172 str.
This story is about the experiences of the Hagerman family of immigrant Germans who come from Europe to the US Mid-West in the post-Civil-War period. Maurice, the patriarch of the family, is cultivated, but largely self-taught. He is a natural leader, a problem solver, and is energetically pursuing a decent life for his family. He combines a strong sense of practicality with the daring of the pioneer. He is open to new ways and a widening circle of new and diverse friendships. Like most of the immigrants on their transoceanic voyage, they come with no capital, but many have been preceded by relatives or villagers willing to help them relocate. These new communities are dependent populations from the start, but most of them are determined not to remain so. We are introduced to some of the patterns that permit the new immigrants to establish themselves, as the most able bodied men scout out opportunities for acquiring their own land through homesteading, and the rest of the families aid each other to settle in the more developed towns until they can reunite on the frontier. The combined efforts of the Hagermans permit them steadily to improve their education, especially their knowledge of English, and their general circumstances, until their wheat farm, the first in this region of Southwestern Kansas, is well enough developed to give them security and some comfort. They serve as something of a model, generating accolades that reach even to the old country, perhaps as something of a myth. This patriarch -- and he definitely is that--is enough of a craftsman to help build the family dugout, and subsequent home, and their church. He is curious and innovative enough to seek out information about improved farming techniques and technologies, and resourceful enough to find and create the means to acquire and utilize them. The family members are all kindhearted, generous of spirit, and courageous enough to venture into the new land and life. The mother teaches music. One of her daughters teaches elementary school, including music. The eldest son emerges as a manager of the local granary, and leader of a brass band. The settlers have a strong sense of Christian community. The entire Hagerman family has a strong sense of rectitude and fairness, but little knowledge of the history or culture of the indigenous Indians. They establish reasonably good working relationships with some of the Native American population of the area where they settle, including a Caucasian "adopted Indian." Such relationships prove to be crucial to their own survival, and somewhat beneficial to a few of the Native persons who remained in the area after the main body of their tribe had been earlier decimated, or pushed to move, or "remove," away from the encroaching settlers. Over the course of the three generations that the story covers, we are given an understanding of the requirements for settling, taming, cultivating, preserving, and prospering from the land the homesteading American population took over in the Mid-West. We are introduced to the hardships, the abuses, the triumphs, the drawbacks and the benefits that came with the "Americanization" of the Mid-West. This is a truly American story, however narrow and singular a slice it is of that jagged history story-line. It is told by an author with strong roots in the region, and strong family ties to various of the populations about which she has written. However, this is not a story about race - either of the immigrants, or of their indigenous predecessors, or the occasional Black individual or family that appears in the saga. It is a story about individual character, multi-cultural legacies, and the evolving American culture, told in an interesting fashion, with accessible language, honed craft, familiar ideas and experiences, and with real moral instruction. It is very suitable for serious young readers, yet an interesting read for adult readers. The cover quotes a Kansan reviewer's very high praise