It's late 1898 in Lee Township, Midland County, Michigan. Elise Susanne crawls out from under heavy quilts to stir the fire which has ebbed to glowing embers during the night. Her husband has already left the small cabin to tend to livestock. The children, three boys, are still in bed, snuggled together for warmth. As she rises from the low bed her first thought is a sorrowful one; last year's baby did not live. Her hand caresses the wood trunk wherein lie little shirts and cloths. She doesn't know two more babies are already growing in her womb. Nor does she know that one, the girl-child, will die within 30 days of birth nor that the boy-child, who will be the scrawnier and weaker of the two, will live to raise his own family of six. She focuses on caring for the ones who are snuggled nearby. One of them, the youngest, whimpers in his sleep and she glances over at her sons. August at seven is stubborn and strong-willed, much like his father. Heinrich, a year younger, was named after her father. He has a quiet temperament, much like herself. Carl, not yet four, trails his brothers everywhere they go, fussing and crying when he can't keep up with them. The cabin is small and the heat of the replenished fire will soon make it cozy. There are many chores to do today. Elise must finish her spinning. Her knitting has already produced warm sweaters for the two oldest. The youngest will have to wear the one handed down from Heinrich. Her husband, too, needs new socks. She breathes a prayer for God's blessings on her small family and begins her day.
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