A Scattered People: An American Family Moves West
The movement of millions of ordinary pioneers westward across the North American continent was one of the great folk migrations of all time. Using a canvas as broad as the country itself, McFarland turns this journey into a resonant personal experience by retelling the stories of five generations of a single, real family, who are, in fact, his own ancestors.
This is a true-life saga that takes readers from colonial settlements along the East Coast to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Its cast is as rich as a historical novel's: a born-again Christian farmer in eighteenth-century Connecticut, a frontier rifleman in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia, an infantryman at Antietam, and a bold teenage girl who forsakes her comfortable childhood home in Kansas for a schoolhouse in a remote region of New Mexico. These individuals become witnesses to the era's key events: the American Revolution, Indian wars, the Gold Rush, Bleeding Kansas and Harpers Ferry, the Civil War, the Chicago Fire, and economic booms and busts. By fits and starts, by foot and oxen, covered wagon and rail, succeeding generations of the family made their way west.
What motivated men and women to take the risks of such moves, and what actually awaited them in each new home? By recreating in close focus that fundamental act of democratic aspiration, pulling up stakes and moving west, A SCATTERED PEOPLE gives readers a new and intimate sense of the meaning of the American Dream.
WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD: "Pays affecting tribute to all who went west in search of the dream."
THE NEW YORKER: "The people in this history are not famous, but, through the author's meticulous research, every one of them comes to life."
"a classic in the family history world!"
Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, MFA. Certified Genealogist and author of YOU CAN WRITE YOUR FAMILY HISTORY.