Casefile Clues

29 January 2009

Prairie Patrimony

I have always been a big fan of this book and have mentioned it in numerous lectures. It is the study of farming and inheritance trends in several Illinois farm communities from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.

The author studies one Ostfriesen community in Illinois. When I read her comments, it was as if she had looked at my genealogical research, and grown up in one of those areas as I had. "Unwritten rules," the importance of the homeplace, were all issues she talked about as she discussed Ostfriesen immigrant farmers. She studied non-Ostfriesen Germans and "Yankees" as well. As the descendant of all three types of families (my Mother is Ostfriesen and my Dad is non-Ostfriesen German and "Yankee") the differences she points out really hit home when I thought about my different families and how certain things were done.

Anyone with farm ancestors in the Midwest in the 19th century would be well-served by reading the book. I've read mine several times.

The book is Prairie Patrimony: Family, Farming, and Community in the Midwest (Studies in Rural Culture). The author is Dr. Sonya Salamon and it was published by North Carolina University Press.