1836: Escape to America a message to the Sauer Family
It may be fiction, but it's based on reality. The story in 1836: Escape to America is based on the real immigration journey made by Rudolph George Sauer and Dorothea Becker Sauer in 1836, my great-great-grandparents. I have been doing genealogical research for decades; I have several remarkable documents in hand; and I knew their story by heart before I began writing. However, I realized that I could not really know how they felt, what they thought or how they talked. Thus, their story became fictionalized as the Kästner family story, and I willingly admit that this involves giving the Kästners ideas, personalities and speeches that have nothing to do with the actual, historic persons. However, the basic outlines of the story are all Sauer -- Rudolph/Friedrich's history in the cheveaux legers of Napoleon's army, a family of almost the same ages and genders as Rudolph's, an unusually long trip across the ocean (though for reasons entirely imaginary), landing in New Orleans along with men returning from the new Republic of Texas, traveling up the Mississippi by steamboat, an exploration and rejection of Chicago and settling in Hennepin, Illinois, instead. As really happened, every member of the fictional family makes it across alive, and the oldest boy leaves for the West (Iowa Territory) within a year. Many details are taken from the Sauer family story, including the silver-handled sword, their traveling with $600 in gold, and the father's being a shoemaker and a violinist whose favorite tune was Napoleon Crossing the Alps. The Sauers really were members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Berleburg, Prussia. The family documents I have include an 1815 military leave for Rudolph, the family's 1836 passport (for which they paid a half-thaler and which was stamped with a red wax seal), and an 1945 memoir written by Rudolph's granddaughter, Dorothea Ruthann Sauer. If you have seen copies of these, we are related. If you have more documents, please know that I would love to see them. Please contact me for a special offer for Sauer family members.