Calling This Place Home
Women on the Wisconsin Frontier, 1850-1925
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Table of Contents
Map of Wisconsin
I. Building Economies
1. Moving In, Staying Put
Matilda Rauscher, my maternal grandmother, arrived in northern Wisconsin in 1892. She brought few possessions with her as she traveled from her small Bohemian village of Christianburg north to Hamburg, then by boat to New York and by train to Wisconsin. Although...
My grandmother Matilda Rauscher went straight to Phillips, a lumbering town, when she arrived in the United States from Bohemia in 1892. With her she brought a small document about the size of today’s passport, her Dienstbuch, or Domestic Servant Book. She must have felt for this document often as she traveled to Hamburg, then to New York by ship, then to Wisconsin by train, and on north to Phillips...
When Matilda arrived at her new log house in 1893 she was leaving the woodlands economy and entering farmlands. Her land did not look much like a farm: a log house surrounded by a small clearing, a small log shed with a cow and a horse. During the next twenty years...
II. Protecting Families and Communities
On an August afternoon in 1901, my grandmother Matilda watched her husband Karl playfully grab the back legs of a colt in the barnyard. When the colt kicked him in the stomach, he crumpled in pain. She helped him...
My grandmother Matilda raised eight children virtually alone after her first husband died and her second husband turned out to be a poor provider. An accident; a wrong choice in time of crisis. Her own family was of little help: her grandparents and mother had died in Bohemia....
My uncle took me up in the loft of the old log house where my mother grew up. He had used the downstairs as a blacksmith shop since the family moved into their new house in 1919, but he continued to store old stuff in the loft. He...
7. Matters of the Spirit
Women seldom wrote or talked about spiritual matters to outsiders, and when they did so, it was with hesitation, unless it was their special profession, as it was for Catholic nuns or Native spiritual leaders. Nor did others write often about such matters. Thus, as historian I can only recreate a small part of this life of the spirit, awkwardly...
8. Political Landscapes
I remember that Matilda was living with us in the late 1940s when the question of her citizenship came up. It was shortly after World War II, my father was recently home from overseas, and he asked whether or not she had registered as an “enemy alien.” That...
III. Making a New Home
9. Migration Stories
Matilda’s experience during the years she scrimped to raise her children convinced her that there was no future for most of them in farming. The farm would go to the oldest son, Frank. The forty-acre farm was too small to divide; nearby farmland too expensive to buy. Even...
In 1982 I drove my red Mazda subcompact with its New Mexico license plates into the yard of my uncle’s Wisconsin farm. I had lost contact with my mother’s family after she died in 1959. I was in graduate school then, and the loss seemed purely private. There was my dissertation to finish at UCLA, teaching in San Diego, a separation...
Note on Sources
The women who populated north - central Wisconsin mostly did not leave their own accounts. By using a variety of research sources and methods, I have tried to give them a collective part in telling their stories. For a few, enough...
Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 100 b&w illus., maps, notes
Publication Year: 2006
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Calling This Place Home