900 Miles from Nowhere: Voices from the Homestead Frontier
May 09, 2013
With springtime weather upon us, can a genealogy road trip be far behind? Maybe it is time to take what you have learned from your research and set off to follow in the footsteps of your ancestors. There is nothing quite like visiting the towns or farms they inhabited to help see through their eyes. You don’t want to miss the local cemetery, either!
If those ancestors were pioneers on the Great Plains who, like mine, didn’t leave behind any photographs or letters to illuminate their lives, Steven R. Kinsella has authored a beautiful book to help you learn about the homestead days on the prairie. He gathered up letters written by the first generation of non-Native Americans that tried to live on the prairie and published them in 900 Miles from Nowhere: Voices from the Homestead Frontier. Each letter is prefaced with some background information about the writer of the letter and the circumstances.
The letters in each chapter are grouped by subject, and the many illustrations are perfectly chosen historic photographs of the homesteaders posed in front of their dugouts, soddies and claim shacks, as well as their families, fields, and funerals. From their prairie homes in Texas to North Dakota, the settlers wrote letters to friends and relatives that "chronicle the spirit of a sturdy and determined people who sought to better their lives on the harsh, inhospitable landscape of the Great Plains."
After reading these letters, their words may haunt you the next time you drive past an abandoned farmhouse.
Midwest Genealogy Center