Land of the Buffalo Bones
Scholastic, 2003
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The Diary of Mary Ann Elizabeth Rodgers,
an English girl in Minnesota

Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Polly Rodgers keeps a diary of her 1873 journey from England to Minnesota as part of a colony of eighty people seeking religious freedom, and of their first year struggling to make a life there, led by her father, a Baptist minister.

This story is based, not just in a real time in United States history, but on real people, too. The characters who populate it are my own ancestors. In 1873, my great-grandfather, the Reverend Dr. George Rodgers, brought a colony from southwestern England to northwestern Minnesota. What makes this a story worth telling is that the entire endeavor, far from being a typical American success story, turned into a disaster of quite fascinating proportions.

Review

"This Dear America book is unusual in that it is based on real people and events in 1873. Bauer's great-grandfather Reverend Rodgers led his family and congregation from England to Minnesota, the jumping-off point for this fictional diary, narrated by Rodgers' oldest daughter, Polly, age 14. The long and unpleasant voyage and the settlers' horror at their barren and inhospitable new land are vividly set down, and it is the latter that forms the backbone of Polly's story. She describes the family's sod house, the ineptness with which the town-bred English attempt to build and farm, and the endless oppressive heat, unendurable cold, and plagues of locusts. No wonder the settlers eventually vote to reject their pastor! Accompanied by photos of the Rodgers family and scenes of the settlement, this is an engrossing look at the hardships faced by many pioneers." — Eva Mitnick, Booklist

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