Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dreams of a Past Generation

Living in northeastern Washington you can't avoid the history of the homesteading movement.  Almost every small town has a Historical museum highlighting the westward migration of people hoping to make a better life for their children.  Every summer countless fairs and historic days celebrate the heritage of those brave farmers.  Driving through the vast empty wheat fields you come upon abandoned homesteads and farms.  Some were discarded in favor of a bigger more modern farmhouse.  Others were abandoned when the dream proved too overwhelming and the homesteader moved on.  The very emptiness of these places accentuates the life they used to contain.  Every time I come upon one of these desolate buildings I wonder about the people who built it.  What hopes and dreams did they have?  What sorrows did they endure to make that westward journey?  Many of people who settled our area were Volga Russians.   The stories of  leaving their homeland are inspiring and at times heartbreaking. 

The family who lived in our house came from Russia with six small children and another on the way.  They made the long westward journey and settle on a farm to dry land wheat farm.  Less than 6 years and 4 babies later the father died in a tragic accident leaving his widow with a huge family to care for.  Through grit and determination she kept her family together and prospered.  Her family is now numerous and influential in our part the the country.  Reading about that amazing time I am humbled by all that they did in hard and very often short lives.  They suffered constant insecurity,  unreliable harvests, illness and death.   Yet they were able to maintain a strong faith in God and enjoy life as it came.  Here's to those who came before us.

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