My family doesn’t trace lineage to the Mayflower, played no roles in the Revolutionary War or the Civil War. And I don’t remember anyone referring to our grandparents and great grandparents as “migrants”; they were “immigrants,” people from specific European places seeking new lives in America. And, in those days, roughly from the Civil War to 1900, the biggest groups of immigrants to the United States were German speaking people from war-tossed, shifting borderlands across Northern Europe. Further north, Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians joined the emigration to America, theirs an escape from family farms that had been whittled, generation by generation, to parcels unable to support families.Read Rich’s Post →


When I was young in a small town in northern Minnesota, hobos stayed in the stockyard by the railway tracks not far from our house. We—a small group of 6-and-7-year-old urchins, would throw rocks on the tin roofs of the stockyard sheds, and, seeing or not seeing a face peer around a corner, we would run, with just enough titillating fear to bring us back another day.Read Rich’s Post →