Review of Finding the Grain

Finding the Grain: Pioneer German Journals and Letters from Dubois County, Indiana. Edited by Norbert Krapf. Max Kade German-American Center, 1996. 281 pp.

Dubois County in Indiana was once heavily forested. Even today many of its inhabitants are woodworkers, like their forebears. Finding the Grain is a fitting title for a work that explores the history and heritage of the country's German woodworking and farming settlers. Editor Norbert Krapf had 20 years' worth of unprecedented access into archives, diaries, and family attics to produce a book not only valuable to residents of Dubois County but to genealogists and historians as well. This is not a rigorous, scholarly study but German-American history on a personal level accessible to all.

The role played by the Catholic Church in the settlement of southern Indiana is thoroughly and sometimes humorously explored in the letters of Father Joseph Kundek, a German-speaking Croat missionary priest who zealously and energetically ministered to the spiritual needs of the Catholic communities of Southern Indiana. Father Kundek himself is a fascinating study, and Krapf does an excellent job in editing a cross-section of letters that allow the reader to observe this human dynamo, part saint, part confidence man, who alone is a subject worthy of a doctoral thesis.

Krapf, by training a poet and English professor, not a historian, is to be commended for his thoroughness in getting his arms around an unwieldy project. His careful annotations and end notes are excellent source material for futher study. A native of Southern Indiana, Krapf does his community -- and his pioneer German heritage -- proud.

To order, contact the NCSA Literatur Distributor at Tel.: (812) 988-2866.

--Paula Weber

German Life Magazine, IV (Oct./Nov. 1997), 56-57.

Excerpts from Finding the Grain
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