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Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian Americaby Linda Lawrence Hunt
Winner of a 2004 PNBA Book Award
Synopses & Reviews
Helga Estby and her daughter Clara left Spokane, Washington, in April 1896 to walk to New York City on a $10,000 challenge. The money was needed to prevent foreclosure of their mortgage, hopefully saving the family homestead.
Helga was a Norwegian immigrant who married young, bore nine children, and endured fruitless years on the harsh Minnesota prairie before moving West. She and her husband Ole settled in the little Washington farm town of Rockford, only to be wiped out by the nationwide depression of 1893.
Lured by an offer from a mysterious sponsor, Helga was promised funds if she and her daughter walked unaided and unfinanced all the way to New York City. The women "tramped" the railroad lines through Boise, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Omaha before reaching roads and "civilization" in the Midwest. They walked on through Chicago, Pennsylvania, and finally reached New York. On the arduous journey they faced extreme cold and heat, hunger and exposure, and even shot a man in the leg in self-defense. They met with mayors, governors, and other notables, such as, President-elect McKinley on his porch in Ohio.
On Christmas Eve, 1896, the New York World reported their arrival in New York City. What followed was an American tragedy.
"Linda Hunt's compelling story of one woman's walk across America to save the family farm is a wondrously powerful saga....[she] weaves together from historical remnants and family discards the courageous drama of Helga Estby's walk." Ronald C. White Jr., Author of Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural
Book News Annotation:
In 1896 Estby, a 36-year-old Norwegian immigrant, was behind on taxes and the mortgage for the Washington farm, and so took up a $10,000 wager by unknown sponsors to walk across the US from sea to sea, taking her 18-year-old daughter Clara with her. The family discarded her account of the trip; there are no diaries, few letters, no family legends. Hunt (English, Whitworth College, Spokane) nevertheless was determined to scrape together the story. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 285-298) and index.
Helga Estby left Spokane Washington and walked to NYC on a $10,000 challenge. This remarkable story of hardship and suffering was long lost and only recently discovered by the author. On Christmas Eve, 1896, the New York World reported her arrival. What followed was an American tragedy.
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