Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Recent Read

A True Picture of Emigration by Rebecca Burlend, is the 34th release of the great Lakeside Classics series. This release was published by The Lakeside Press in 1936 and is a reprint of a document originally published anonymously in 1848.

The original full title was "A True Picture of Emigration or Fourteen Years in the Interior of North America Being a Full and Impartial Account of the Various Difficulties and Ultimate Success of an English Family Who Emigrated From Barwick-In-Elmet, Near Leeds, in the Year 1831" . I guess when The Lakeside Press decided to reprint the document they didn't want to use as much paper for the title as the rest of the book, as it was a rather short document of about 150 pages.

While the book is relatively short it is once again my favorite type of book, a first person historical narrative. Rebecca Burlend tells the story of her family's emigration to the frontier....directly to me.

The editor's forward is as entertaining as the book itself. He recounts how the book was chosen for publication and how the identity of the author was uncovered. Remember, I said that it was originally published anonymously. It was exciting to learn that after over one hundred years, the editor was able to find descendants of the author still living in the area described in the book.

The Burlend family left England in 1831, traveled across the Atlantic to New Orleans and then up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to western Illinois around Detroit in Pike County. The story of their journey to their new home is as fascinating as the story of their struggle to survive in the American wilds. At one point in the Atlantic their ship was nearly sunk by a tremendous storm.

The story of a frontier farmer is perhaps not as glorious as some of the other Lakeside Classic releases that described the lives of fur trappers, gold miners and rootin' tootin' lawmen, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. Two adults and several small children trying to break enough ground to grow food to feed the family, and all this without equipment or livestock is a gripping story. Finding food, building shelter, getting the simplest of clothes and absolute necessities boggles the modern mind.

While not an educated woman, Rebecca Burlend does herself proud in her vivid descriptions of everyday life....and for actually succeeding in this difficult and tenuous life. If you like early American History and/or first person historical narratives, this will be a joyful read.

Thanks for visiting.

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