Archived Story

Learn more about immigrants

Published 11:23am Thursday, May 8, 2014 Updated 1:27pm Thursday, May 8, 2014

Katelyn Boyer

Library

Interested in learning more about Norwegian immigrants? On Thursday, May 15 at 6 p.m, author Candace Simar will be speaking at the Fergus Falls Public Library on her research about the Norwegian immigrant experience.

Candace started writing when she realized her children didn’t know much about the Sioux Uprising of 1862.

They thought it was a minor event in New Ulm and didn’t realize that it affected Minnesota for years. She researched extensively and drew on her Scandinavian family history to create a series of four books set during and after the Sioux Uprising.

“History has been my life-long passion … I’ve visited multiple Minnesota museums and spent countless hours at the Family History Museum in St. Paul, reading old letters, newspapers and books” (candacesimar.com).

Her historical fiction books are set during the mid to late 1800s. The first in the series, Abercrombie Trail, documents

Norwegian immigrant Evan Jacobson’s journey to Minnesota. Jacobson becomes a stage coach driver, bringing news and goods between Fort Snelling and Fort Abercrombie. Candace’s great-grandfather also drove a stagecoach during this period and her curiosity of what his life might have been like helped inspire the book.

Simar’s novels are realistic and her research shines through in everyday details as well as larger historical events. At each stop along his route, Jacobson is fed by families paid to do so. Some families have less and he eats meals made from potatoes and corn.

Other families offer him meat and more filling meals, all inspired by their often Scandinavian upbringing.

Sometimes Jacobson stays with bachelors whom face frustration at having their own land but living a lonely life with no prospects for marriage. He struggles to learn English and find his place in this new country.

Candace is a local author and poet from Pequot Lakes. In addition to talking about her

research, she will also read from Farm Girls, her story of growing up on a Fergus Falls dairy farm.

If you like historical fiction set in Minnesota and the Dakotas, try these series and books:

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. 17-year-old Molly has spent most of her life in foster care. When she’s caught stealing, to appease her foster parents, she agrees to clean out elderly Vivian’s attic. Molly learns that Vivian was herself an orphan, an Irish immigrant in New York who was put on the Orphan Train in the late 1920s and tossed from home to home in Minnesota.

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye.

In the wilds of early-20th-century Duluth, the orphan son of an immigrant woman tries to build a life for him and the woman he loves.

Newly Weds series by Margo Hansen. This series follows through generations of the Newly family, starting in the late 1800s, settling the wilderness in northern Minnesota.

Beyond Those Hills series by Vernal Lind. Minnesota, 1937. Matthew Anderson wakened from a nightmare which soon became a reality. P.J., his older brother, announces, “This farm is mine!” and Matthew’s world crumbles.

Red River of the North series by Lauraine Snelling. A family leaves Norway to settle in America in the late 1800s, eventually settling in the Red River Valley.

Minnesota Brides series by Janet Spaeth. Three women find love and marriage in historic Minnesota.

The Land They Possessed by Mary Worthy Thurston.

This novel traces the years from 1885 to 1894 and the settlement of Eureka (Dakota territory) by Germans from Russia. It centers on the coming of age story of American born girl Michal Ward.

This project was funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural

Heritage fund. This program is sponsored by Fergus Falls Public Library and Viking Library System.

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