Every Family has a Story.
The author writes the history of her family from the 1890s until 1925 based on family and historical records and pictures. It begins with a drought in Nebraska forcing an entire farming family including their grown children to move to free land in Oklahoma. Some rode in horse-pulled wagons while others rode the newly built railroads. One, the matriarch Phebe, was left behind.
As the book continues, we hear of the harshness of living on a treeless prairie forcing families to leave in dugouts like moles underground. Eventually, the families build sod houses (yes the sod they only use for lawns out here in sunny California) and wooden framed houses in town. The requirements for keeping the free 160 acres of Oklahoma land were the building of a house with at least one window by the close of the fifth year on the land. There was no specifications about the building material. This led to settlers using their creativity and a booming business in window moving after the government inspector had left.
The author uses excellent period pictures of her family and others so you can really see how difficult it was for these pioneers. The book focuses on the female part of the story particularly in regards to what happened to Phebe. The writing style is quite beautiful and there is a full bibliography at the end for those wanting to read more.
While working in Child Protective Services in a small desert town in California, I was shocked to hear about children being picked up from a ‘cave house’ in the nearby sand dunes. The front of the house, which was one of many in the area, had a wooden door and a glass window. The rest of the house was a cave. Little did I, or anyone else in the office, know at the time but that was a common way to live less than 100 years earlier. If this book had only been written earlier.
I received an advanced review copy of this book from Net Galley and Upper Hand Press in exchange for an honest review. The book will be released on September 29, 2017. If you like true historical biographies, you should check it out.