Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan
Interview with Author Cindy Rinaman Marsch
I’ve always loved historical fiction, especially from the pioneer days. So, to say that this new book by Cindy Rinaman Marsch piqued my interest is an understatement. Cindy was gracious enough to grant an interview to The SS HomeAcre. Her insight into the real life of a pioneer woman named Rosette Cordelia Ramsdell is is fascinating and I’m sure it will delight my readers. This detailed look at pioneer life is beautifully illustrated by the author’s daughter, a talented young artist named Betsy Marsch.
I hope you’ll stop by and visit Cindy’s website, where you can sign up for her Readers List and read passages from the novel. Check out the great reviews, and you can even purchase her book in print or on Kindle.
Please note that I am not receiving any goods or funds in exchange for sharing this information with you.
SSHA: The story of Rosette is very intriguing. What inspired you to write this book?
SSHA: Did you find interesting ties to historical events taking place during that time period?
Cindy: “Yes, even in the first weeks she tells of political meetings going on in her area–her father speaks at a Republican meeting in support of John C. Fremont for President. Interestingly, though she doesn’t mention it, Abraham Lincoln gave his only speech ever in Michigan in Kalamazoo just a couple of weeks before the journal opens, and the lawyer who invited him just happens to be the original owner of Rosette’s father’s farm. The family had moved to Ionia County, Michigan (between Lansing and Grand Rapids) from Kalamazoo in the 1840s–I took artistic license to place Rosette’s father at that speech, and it plays just a bit into the story. One county near them was 90% abolitionist, so that was a natural political stance for the family to take in the novel.
“It’s also interesting to see what life is like before the arrival of the railroad. Local politics resulted in the railroad passing further north, and Rosette’s family’s farms were in a way cut off from that economic development in later years. That has an impact on the real family history that is also touched on a bit in the novel.”
SSHA: How did you research for the book? Where did you find information to flesh out Rosette’s story?
SSHA: As a ‘modern homesteader,’ I’m very interested in the lives of pioneer families. How was Rosette’s life similar, and how did it differ, from the life of a modern homesteader?
“And oh so much wood they used! For cooking, producing heat, building, making sugar, smoking meat, selling. Rosette’s husband Otis is chopping most of the time (I guess he was good at it!) to create roads, clear fields, and supply what others could not supply for themselves. I understand the nearby town of Lowell, which became a boomtown when the railroad went through after the time of the journal, exhausted its local forests in just ten years.
SSHA: I’m interested in the foods and supplies that pioneers purchased and grew or foraged for. Did your research provide insight into how much of their needs were supplied from their homestead versus purchased from the store? Did Rosette’s family suffer from hunger during the winter? What crops did they grow?
“She records some shopping lists, and very few of the purchases are food. One list includes “factory cloth” at 11 cents per yard, towelling (for diapers?) at 18 cents, dishes, bread bowl, work tub and board, thread, nails, tea, saleratus (like baking powder/soda), and starch. They did a lot of trading/bartering/buying/borrowing with the neighbors, though the journal does not always reveal which is which. When Rosette is in late pregnancy (and early days as a housewife), when others’ harvests have begun to come in, area ladies bring her all manner of baked goods, dairy and meat products, fresh vegetables, fruits, and even flowers.
“Rosette records Otis “setting out” in early May “66 currants, five of which are white, 9 plums, 3 cherries & 4 horse-raddish roots.”
SSHA: Do you feel an afinity, or kinship to Rosette?
SSHA: If you could chat with Rosette over tea, what would be the most pressing question you’d like to ask her?
For more information about Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan, or the author, Cindy Rinaman Marsch, please visit her website.
In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.
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