1894: Germantown, Nebraska: John and Mary Westerhoff Wamhoff begin their married life in this small rural town. Five years and two children later, John has a chance meeting with a Lutheran missionary and is cast into his vision of homesteading in the wilds of Wyoming. Following a rutted stagecoach road, they travel by covered wagon from Cheyenne across the rugged, unsettled state. Mary soon realizes her worst dream. Every hill they climb, every barren sagebrush-covered prairie they cross, brings them closer to John’s dream and farther from her own. Reaching the unsettled benchland of Germania is the beginning of the worse than hard years. By 1908, Mary has birthed four more daughters, and John is known as one of the largest sheep operations in the Big Horn Basin. In 1910 he buys another section of farmland and expands his operations to harvesting other’s crops, selling automobiles, acting as the area banker, and mortician. Mary’s life revolves around her children and putting food on the table, until her youngest son breaks his hip in a devastating horse accident. The Great Depression hits them hard but they are used to tough times on the farm—they have food but little else. Just when a new day dawns, fate deals the Wamhoff family an unthinkable blow, one they never saw coming.
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