Konrath – by W. Schildt

Konrath – by W. Schildt

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The Konrath family, poor German immigrants, cross the ocean and move into the Lower East Side tenements of New York City. Even the deplorable conditions there are better than the near starvation existence they had to endure in Europe. George works 12 hour days, 7 days a week, for 7 cents an hour while he struggles to learn English so he can get a 3 cent an hour raise.

A wealthy immigrant, Philippina, from the same Bavarian town as George, is caught in an arranged, loveless marriage. Lonely, she falls into friendships with Fifth Avenue abolitionists, who make trips to the bakery, an Underground Railroad station, with new clothes for those escaping enslavement. A friendship develops between George and Philippina, as she teaches him grammatically correct English.

After the Fugitive Slave Act is passed in 1850, George is caught aiding an escaped enslaved man wearing Philippina’s dress. During his imprisonment, George and Philippina correspond. Once George is released from prison on a technicality, the family builds a successful bakery business, and he becomes a United States citizen. But George owes money to Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall for the mortgage on the bakery, and it is impossible to pay off the loan with the accruing interest.

While the family struggles with the usurious loan, they watch in horror as the United States becomes a country at war when the South fires on Fort Sumter. They read the accounts in the newspapers of the battles and deaths of the soldiers, from both the North and the South. At the Battle of Antietam three of every four soldiers die.

When arsonist burn the bakery to the ground, George’s only option to save enough money to open another bakery is to join the Army of the Potomac. The recruiter, familiar with the bakery, makes George a lieutenant in charge of feeding the Union soldiers. To his family’s horror, they learn George will fight in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1863.

Read a free excerpt RIGHT HERE.

About the Author

W. Schildt lives with her husband and standard poodle in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. After visiting Gettysburg and researching the Konrath family, she felt their immigrant story of bravery, heroism, and love of family and America will be an inspiration to all.


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