A Brief History of the Volga Germans

eunice-photoBack around 2012, when I first joined ‘Women Writing the West’, I somehow managed to start a correspondence with a fellow author in Kansas—Eunice Boeve. One might think that a romance author sitting in NYC and a predominantly YA and western author living out in KS had nothing in common, but Eunice and I have found a lot of common ground and continue our correspondence to this day.

Eunice was born and raised in Northwest Montana and Idaho, the middle child of seven born to a storytelling father and a book loving mother. She writes historical fiction novels for adults and young people, and for the past seven years has written a chapter story for a program called Newspapers in Education, from which her latest book, A Home in America, has evolved. Her books have received a number of awards, including a Kansas Notable book award. She lives in a small Kansas town with her husband and an aging red dachshund.

You can find all her books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and various other locations. Her website is: http://www.euniceboeve.net

Eunice has very kindly agreed to give away two copies of her book, A Home in America, to two people leaving a comment on this blog. And I’m pleased to announce the winners are Anne Schroeder and Colleen Donnelly.  Our thanks to everyone who left a comment!


Thank you, Andrea, for hosting me on your blog this month.

The history of the Volga Germans gives testimony to what the human spirit can endure, for they came to Russia and against incredible odds built a life from

Volga Germans

Volga Germans

literally nothing, but the ground under their feet. In 1763, Germany was in shambles, ravaged by seemingly unending wars and the demands of the ruling class, leaving the common citizen totally destitute. Then Catherine the Great of Russia offered land along the Volga River, free and clear with housing and horses and plows, and with no hope of a better life, they jumped at the Russian ruler’s seemingly spectacular offer.

But, when the first group arrived, there were no houses, no horses, and no plows. There was land, lots of land. But the nomadic tribes who had lived there for centuries considered it theirs. They swooped down on horseback, killing the men and capturing the women and children. With no place to go, no means to return to Germany and nothing there anyway, they stayed, and by sheer force of will, muscle, and faith, carved out a life on the Russian plains. That first winter, they dug caves for shelter with wagon boards for doors. These strong-willed people declined to interact with Russia in any way. They did not claim citizenship nor intermarry, but clung to their German language, customs, and religion as fiercely as they tamed the hostile land.

At first, they were promised freedom from the military, then Russia began to impose mandatory military service on males from sixteen to forty-five. With no feelings of loyalty to Russia, they felt no obligation to fight for the country, and many began to suspect that other demands would follow. With the idea of leaving Russia, they sent scouts to North and South America and these men brought back good reports of both countries, but favoring North America. Those who wished to immigrate and could manage the fares, left all they knew behind, sometimes even family members, and departed for the Americas.

Volga German Pioneer Memorial, Victoria, KS

Volga German Pioneer Memorial, Victoria, KS

Of those who did immigrate to America, many came to Kansas. Others settled in other states, including North Dakota, and Nebraska. For the most part, they kept together creating their own small towns. Those small towns around Hays, Kansas were given the names of the villages they left behind in Russia, like Herzog, Liebenthal. Pfeifer, Schoenchen, and Munjor, and, with the exception of Herzog, are still in existence today. Herzog is now Victoria. Settled by the English when the English left, the two towns became one. The fact that America is made up of a very diverse population, and English is the main language, made it almost impossible to exist in isolation as the entire Volga River Germans did for some one hundred plus years in Russia. So even the Volga German so steadfast in remaining German, began to mix with others, as have many other ethnic groups who came to this land we call America.


A Home in America, Book cover by Julie Peterson-Shea, published by Rowe Publishing  and available at http://rowepub.com/a-home-in-america/ and http://www.amazon.com/Home-America-Volga-German-Story/dp/1939054818/

   home-in-america-book-cover-image  A Home in America begins in the year of 1892, with Eva and her family living in the Volga River area of Russia settled by their forefathers from Germany in the mid 1760s. They have always considered themselves to be German and have kept their language and traditions, as promised them, along with being exempt from military service, when they settled this part of Russia. But 130 years later, Russia is disregarding those earlier promises and many, including Eva’s family believe they would be better off in America. Going to America, though, means leaving Great Grandmother behind. Great Grandmother, now old and blind, has been the only mother Eva has ever known, her own mother dying the day she was born. Father has remarried, but although she likes her stepmother very much, it is Great Grandmother whom she still considers her mother and she cannot bear even the thought of leaving this woman she has loved like a mother all her life.

This story began as a Newspaper in Education story and was featured in five Kansas newspapers for 8 weeks beginning Jan. 5, 2016, and told of their journey to America. The rest of the story chronicles their next year when they settle on a farm near Herzog (Victoria), Kansas.


 Excerpt

“After much thought and prayer,” Father says, “Great-Grandmother, Leah, and myself have decided it would be best for our family to leave Russia.” He pauses, then adds, “So next spring we will leave for America.”

I am so surprised, so shocked I think I could be knocked off this bench with a feather. Beside me, Great Grandmother bends her head in prayer and her fingers begin traveling the beads of her rosary, her lips moving in silent supplication. Fear clutches my heart as I realize how old, how feeble she has become. Will we leave her here, like Mia’s family will leave her grandmother?

I raise my eyes from Great Grandmother’s bent head and the rosary in her hands, to see if Father has noticed my fear and will reassure me with a smile, but he is busy answering Peter and Michael’s excited questions. Then I’m remembering this morning at the cow shed and how Leah had remained silent when I said I was glad we weren’t going to America and with a small jolt of anger, I turn to her.

Her brown eyes meet mine and they seem to ask for forgiveness, but I feel no forgiveness. She could have at least warned me! I close my face into a tight mask and blink back my tears and hold on to my angry thoughts so they do not become words. I know that Great-Grandmother cannot make such a long trip and I also know I cannot leave her. Then Great-Grandmother’s hand finds mine and my anger at Leah dissolves and I realize those words were not hers to tell, but Father’s.

A coldness settles over me as I listen to Father tell of the rumors growing stronger every day; rumors of Russia headed for war with Japan. And if they go to war, men and boys sixteen to forty-five will be called to fight for the Russian army. Peter will turn sixteen next summer, Father, who is forty, will have to go immediately. Michael at thirteen, nearly fourteen, is safe, but for how long? Wars can last for years.

Father says it was those same rumors of war that sent Uncle Johann and his family, to America and that we would have gone with them, but for Great-Grandmother. At his words, my anger, cooled, again rises up in me. Does Father think she can go with us now, even though she is now blind, and five years older?

 

 

 

 

 

Struggles and Hope During WWII’s Japanese Internment

shanna-3I’m so pleased to welcome back another pal from Women Writing the West, USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield. Shanna writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen, one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Please connect with Shanna online. She loves to hear from readers.

Shanna is happy to offer two chances to win one of her books: one for a digital copy of Garden of Her Heart and the second for an autographed paperback copy of the book. I am pleased to announce that Hebby Roman has won the digital copy and Brigid Amos will receive the signed paperback.  Thanks to all who commented.


Thank you for welcoming me to your blog, Andrea. Such a pleasure to be your guest today.

Life for all Americans changed when Japan brought death and destruction to Pearl Harbor in 1941. The attack drew the United States into a war the nation had steadfastly tried to avoid.

History of the war years often glosses over the fact that thousands of people were placed in internment camps right here in America.

Thousands of German and Italian residents were detained by the government during the war, many at Ellis Island. However, the Japanese Americans bore the brunt of the fear and unrest that swamped the country following the devastation at Pearl Harbor.

Seventy-five years ago this month, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, on February 19, 1942. The order authorized the evacuation of anyone deemed a threat to national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland. More than 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent were detained in fifteen assembly centers in the spring of 1942.

Many of these people were born in America, some second or third generation Americans, but their place of birth became irrelevant in the coming days. Those living in the evacuation areas were forced to leave behind their homes, sell their possessions for mere pennies on the dollar, and abandon their businesses to report to assembly centers — or become fugitives in the land they called home.

Eventually, the government moved detainees to isolated, fenced, guarded internment camps located across the United States where the majority of the Japanese Americans stayed until the end of the war.

Research for the Hearts of the War series took me to Portland, Oregon, where I learned about the Portland Assembly Center. Originally, it was the Portland Livestock Exposition Pavilion. The government housed more than 3,500 detainees there under one roof during the summer of 1942 before they were sent to internment camps in California, Idaho, and Wyoming.

The stench of the manure trapped beneath the hastily constructed floor and flies buzzing everywhere added to the trying conditions, especially during the long, hot summer months. Meals were served in a mess hall in shifts. Privacy was nonexistent.

The “apartments” had just enough floor space for about five Army cots. Rough

Photo taken at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland, depicting life in the Portland Assembly Center.

Photo taken at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland, depicting life in the Portland Assembly Center.

eight-foot high plywood walls divided one family from another. With no ceiling, noises from adjoining families echoed day and night. Yet, in spite of the hardships and trials, gardens were planted, a newspaper started, classes taught, and hope sustained.

I tried to envision what it would be like to live there. To live in such difficult, challenging conditions when the only thing they had done “wrong” was to be born to a Japanese heritage.


What would it be like to be a faced with a choice of doing what your country ordered or what you knew in your heart to be right? Would you follow your heart? Would you forsake everything for love? Would you willing become a fugitive in the land of your birth to save a life?

garden-of-her-heart-coverThe moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese-Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.

After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.

A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.

Available on:

UBL:  http://books2read.com/gardenofherheart

Kindle: https://amzn.com/B01LYTC7IG

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1125098241

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1173687544

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/garden-of-her-heart

Audio: http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Garden-of-Her-Heart-Audiobook/B01N9ECC0U/

Paperback: http://a.co/aWqNawz

Large Print: http://a.co/iNmKvIF

 Here is an excerpt from the story:

Instead, her father stared at him and asked a single question.  “Describe Miko in one word.”

“One word, sir?” Rock asked, confused.

“Yes. If you summed up everything about her in one word, what would it be?” Jack’s face remained impassive as he waited for Rock’s answer.

Taken aback by his request, Rock’s thoughts splintered in a hundred directions. Only a few seconds passed before the word that floated through the maelstrom in his head gained clarity. “Hummingbird.”

Baffled, both Shig and Jack stared in confusion.

“Explain, please,” Jack said.

Rock took a deep breath. “Before I was wounded, I was stationed in Trinidad, off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean. The area is a big melting pot of combined cultures — Creole, East Indian, Chinese, African. A great diversity of flowers and shrubbery grow there, and it offers more than four hundred different species of birds. But do you know what they call the island?”

At the men’s interested looks, Rock continued. “Land of the Hummingbird. While I was there, I saw many of them. The islanders believe hummingbirds are symbols of all that is good and they carry joy wherever they go. Hummingbirds are fearless, determined, adaptable, and flexible. They possess the courage of a mighty lion and the magic of mythical fairies. Hummingbirds have boundless energy and endurance. Those little birds can make the most difficult journey seem like a simple matter, and they are loyal, devoted to the garden they claim as their own. They are fiercely independent, but those who accept that can long enjoy the beauty and wonder of those amazing little winged fellows.”

Jack’s mouth quirked upward and he bit back a smile. “So you’re saying Miko is like a demented bird who wants only to suck the sweetness out of life?”

 

Following Maria’s Journey by Anne Schroeder

anne-croppedFellow member of Women Writing the West and Past-President (2015), Anne Schroeder writes memoir and historical fiction set in the West. She has won awards for her short stories published in print and on-line markets. She and her husband, along with their new Lab puppy, live in Southern Oregon where they explore old ruins and out-of-the-way places. Her new release, Maria Ines, is a novel about an Indian girl who grows up under Padre Junipero’s cross and endures life under the Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui conquest of California.  You can learn more about Anne at http://www.anneschroederauthor.com and read her blog at http://anneschroederauthor.blogspot.com Continue reading

A CHRISTMAS REUNION

christmas-clip-artDecember, as my readers will know, I always like to have as guests some fellow authors to share their thoughts on the holiday season. This year I had the pleasure of working with some of the best authors in western romance on Come Love a Cowboy, and the experience was so enjoyable that I asked them back for a Christmas reunion. Just to remind you, Continue reading

A Fence Around Her: Double-jacking Competitions

brigid-amos-headshot Brigid Amos’ young adult historical fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. As a  playwright, she co-founded the Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the board of the Angels Theatre Company. She is also an active member of  the Nebraska Writers Guild. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart Continue reading

A Friendly Ghost

I’m delighted to say this is the second anthology in which I’ve had the pleasure of being included with Patti Sherry-Crews. Patti lives in Evanston, IL with her husband and two children. She writes both contemporary and historic romance. Under the name Cherie Grinnell, she has written a series of steamy romances set in Dublin and Wales. She likes to include armchair travel with her books. Continue reading

Psychic Adventures

charlene-raddon-headshot-4Another  co-author from The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly, Charlene Raddon is also a talented cover designer. Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. Because of her love of romance novels and the Wild West, her primary genre is historical romance. Kensington Books originally published five of her novels. These were later released as eBooks by Tirgearr Publishing. Currently, they are self-published with new covers designed by the author. Continue reading

Stepping Back in Time

anitaphilmarppAnita Philmar likes to create stories that push the limit. A writer by day and a dreamer by night she wants her readers to see the world in a new way.

Influenced by old movies, she likes to develop places where anything can happen and where special moments come to life in a great read.

Naughty or Nice?

Read her books and decide.


One of the reasons we enjoy reading historical fiction is because it gives us a chance to step back in time and experience another way of life. In McKee’s Ghost, we travel to Nebraska positioned in the heartland of America.

The small town of Shelton, Nebraska, has an interesting history starting with the way it acquired its name. Its original name was Wood River Centre and it is one of the oldest communities in Nebraska. The Great Western Stage Company established a stop here on it’s route to Fort Kearney. Years later, the Union Pacific railroad decided to use this town as a stop on its line to the west coast.

Patrick Walsh, the postman for this small town, wanted the name changed because of the confusion it had with another small community call Wood River. In 1873, he wrote the Postmaster General pleading for a new name. He renamed the post office to Shelton after Nathan Shelton, an auditor for the Union Pacific Railroad.

The town’s name shows no record of ever being officially changed. Probably to end the confusion with the other city, the citizens just started using the same name as the post office, and the name stuck.

Another interesting fact about the town is some of the residents of Shelton and Buffalo County raised Draft horses. The huge creatures were a much-needed asset for farmers. These animals were used to do the heavy lifting for their owners. Not only did draft horses plow the fields but also helped with other chores. These amazing creatures have a gentle disposition and don’t spook easily, making them perfect to have around a growing family. Living for twenty to thirty years, these animals were a solid addition to a farmer’s family.

Today, this area has a solid reputation of having some of the best breeders of draft horses in the state. Even today, the draft horse pull is one of the most popular events at the Nebraska state fair.

Like so many small towns across the country, Shelton, NE, has a unique history and has created a proud legacy of hardworking people building a solid future for their residents.


TGTBTGFInalCoverAbout McKee’s Ghost

His fiancée called off their engagement after be accosted by a ghost in his house.

Now, a beautiful ghost detective has shown up at his ranch, saying his brother has hired her to take care of the unwanted spirit.

Konnor McKee is more than happy with PSI Agent Ruth Oliva Wilson. One look and he was hooked. Now, if he can only get some help from a ghost, he might be able to secure himself a bride after all.

With the return of his ex-fiancee, his life is turn upside down by an angry ghost, a vindictive woman and a sexy medium. Konnor doesn’t know which way to turn.

Can he get everyone out of this alive and marry the PSI Agent?

Or has he lost all hope of a happy future because of the ruthless ghost of one of his ancestors?

Excerpt for McKee’s Ghost

The hands he’d dropped to her waist shifted. One drew Ruth deeper into his embrace while the other nudged her chin up with a knuckle until their eyes met. His searing gaze lit a fire, heating her core and arousing every cell in her body.

“No. The gentleman in me heads south whenever you enter the room. All I can think about is getting my hands on you.” Konnor sprayed his palms over her back and tugged her deeper against his chest. “I want you in a way I’ve never wanted a woman before, under me screaming while I make you completely mine.”

She gasped. “But you don’t even know me.”

“You’re wrong. Some instinct inside me knew the moment we met you belong to me. Now, all I need to do is convince you of that fact.” He dropped his mouth over hers. His kisses were gentle and sweet one moment, demanding and urgent the next.

The crisp flavor of the apple he’d just eaten played over her taste buds. Pleasure overruled the sound logic of keeping him at a distance. Instead, she gave into the tempestuous assault to her senses and slid her arms around his neck. Minutes passed. The hunger inside her growing until she couldn’t catch her breath.

He tore his mouth from hers, and she gasped for air. “Please, sweetheart, I’m not a patient man, especially when I’ve waited so long for you. I need—”

“Don’t say it,” she whispered and lowered her head to avoid eye contact. She’d tempted him, let him think if he asked for more, she’d willingly give him whatever he wanted.

Realizing how much she already cared for him, she rebelled against the likelihood of losing her heart to another man. More than once, she’d fallen into the trap of believing a man would love her no matter what.

Every time, she paid with a broken heart. This time, she needed to give him a day or two to come to terms with the true nature of her abilities. Once he saw her in action, he’d change. The desire he felt would wilt until he had no feeling for her at all.

“I’m sorry, but we need to take this slow.” She lowered her hands and pressed them against his chest. “Now, you should tend to your horses.”

Konnor studied her for a long moment before he slowly released his grip. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve finished my nightly chores.”

She nodded, and he turned for the door with a sigh.

The light click of the latch falling into place felt like a shot through her heart. She’d come here determined to do her job and leave. However, Konnor had blindsided her with his charm. She’d broken her new rule of not becoming involved with a client.

Now, she had to figure out a way to keep her heart safe when everything inside her wanted to give in to Konnor’s demands.


Find Anita Philmar at

Website: http://www.anitaphilmar.com/

Blog: http://www.anitaphilmar.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anitaphilmar

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Anita-Philmar/e/B002BMBE8C

 

 

Adding a dash of Western. No big deal, right?

erin-hayes-profile-photoSci-fi junkie, video game nerd, and wannabe manga artist, Erin Hayes writes a lot of things. Sometimes she writes books. She works as an advertising copywriter during the day, and is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author by night. She has lived in New Zealand, Texas, Alabama, and now San Francisco with her husband, cat, and a growing collection of geek paraphernalia. Here’s her take on moving from writing paranormal romance to a western historical setting. Continue reading

The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly by @andidowning + 7 Others #Paranormal #Romance #Giveaway

Title:  Long a Ghost, and Far Away   Box Set: The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly   Author:   Andrea Downing   Genre:  Paranormal Western Historical Romance     Book Blurb:…

Source: The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly by @andidowning + 7 Others #Paranormal #Romance #Giveaway