NDSU Libraries publishes new book on homestead life in North Dakota

Feburary 1, 2003

The German for Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo, is pleased to announce the publication of Gottlob Lerch: A Story by F.B Urban. This book was originally published in German by the Wartburg Publishing House, Chicago, ca. 1890-1900.

Gottlob Lerch was a simple, hard-working man who migrated from the Kuban Region of Russian Empire to the plains of North Dakota to make a new life for himself and his family. From this book the reader learns about the natural obstacles and financial challenges a German Russian homesteader encountered in trying to make a go it on the vast, dry prairies and semi-arid climate of the North Dakota plains.

We know very little about the origins of this book or its author. We cannot even be certain that Gottlob Lerch was an actual person or a composite made up in the mind and memory of its author, F.B. Urban. However, based on the histories of other German-Russian pioneers to the Dakota we can deduct from this story that the experiences of Gottlob Lerch, whether based on fact or fiction, tell an authentic and unique story of one particular German-Russian immigrant family.

The main character, Gottlob Lerch is not depicted in the most favorable light by the author. In fact, Urban is quite critical of Lerchs obstinate personality, domineering nature, and unrelenting greed for land, the most coveted possession of the typical German immigrant. With revealing and insightful detail the author describes Lerchs quarrels with his neighbors, his wife, and his fellow Lutherans, especially in regard to land and money. At the end of the tale we witness a sort of metamorphosis in the subjects character after he nearly loses the one thing more important to him than land, his only son and heir.

To purchase the Gottlob Lerch book, send $15 per book plus $3 postage payable to NDSU Library. Mail to: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Gottlob Lerch Book, NDSU Libraries, PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599. Website to order this book is: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/nd_sd/urban.html.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller