By Michael M. Miller
Debra Marquart, a native of Napoleon, ND, has authored a delightful new book, “The Night We Landed on the Moon: Essays Between Exile & Belonging”, recently published by the NDSU Press.
From the book flap: “Debra Marquart was born into a family of land-loving people – farmers known as the ethnic group Germans from Russia – who had emigrated from Russia to the United States between 1886 and 1911 and taken up land claims in Dakota Territory. Her grandparents tended their farms and fields, never dreaming of moving another inch away from the homes they had made. By contrast, Marquart grew up a restless, imaginative child in that same agricultural place, yearning to strike out for places more interesting as soon as she was old enough to take flight.
All seemed simple enough until Marquart realized that her family’s stubborn attachment to place grew out of a traumatic multi-generational history of flight, migration, dispossession, and exile from their previous homelands in Europe. Her grandfathers and all her great-grandparents had emigrated to the United States from villages in south Russia, along the Black Sea. And, in a familial pattern going back several more generations, their own great-grandparents had experienced a traumatic uprooting one hundred years earlier when they fled the Rhine region of western Europe on the run from the chaos of the French Revolution. Her more distant relatives had migrated east along the Danube in 1803 to reach their land claims in south Russia, just as more immediate ancestors had fled their villages in south Russia to come west to America..."
Click here to continue reading In Touch with Prairie Living, October 2021.