Plains and Prairie Chronicle: A DAKOTA FARM GIRL MEMOIR

by Myrtle O. Sederberg

From her early 1900s perch on the roof of her North Dakota farmhouse, young Myrtle Anderson watched the billowing steam of a distant eastbound locomotive rise into the sky. She wondered over whether she too might one day set off on that train, whether she too might in some way come to be part of that big metropolis – Minneapolis!

Myrtle’s father was a homesteading immigrant from Sweden. After her mother’s early death (Myrtle was 12), Myrtle takes over the household chores and agrees to care for her younger brothers – in between pitching in on the great many chores needing doing on the farm. Some years later she falls in love with a young man from Minneapolis, visiting his aunt on a neighboring farm. Eventually, the two agree to elope, but only after Myrtle puts in another year on the farm – just so that she might keep her word, fulfill her promise to tend to those brothers of hers!

Myrtle Sederberg’s charming memoir not only tells the story of a farm girl’s transition to city life, but also offers up a picture of the lives of early plains pioneers, together with a detailed account of America’s frontier prairie days, especially those of the late 1800s. Equally compelling is the portrait she paints of Americans of the day – their great anticipation of, and investment in, “progress” – the animated energy moving forward all things in early Twentieth Century American life.

But beyond the specifics of her life, Myrtle’s anecdotes, tales, poems, songs, stories, and remembrances serve up a wonderful boost of optimism. They sound a spirited call to hard work, compassion, faith, family, constructive behavior, setting out goals and maintaining values, all the while exhibiting that ephemeral, forever decorous quality of hers – grace.