Susan, yes, there has been some research on the real person. He lived and farmed with his brother Anton until Anton was found dead of an (accidental?) gunshot; then Joe lived the rest of his life near his sister, who had become a nun (Sister Rogata), in Indiana. He died in 1919 of influenza. If you're interested in more digging, we have that family research here at the National Willa Cather Center.

Liz, thanks for the great resources. Josh, excellent points.
Tracy Sanford Tucker
Education Director & Certified Archivist
Affiliate Fellow, Center for Great Plains Studies

The National Willa Cather Center
413 North Webster Street, Red Cloud, NE 68970
Phone: 402-746-2653 | Toll Free: 866-731-7304 |

On Sat, Jul 20, 2019 at 12:41 PM Susan L Meyer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
It is interesting to be reminded of this: "Otherwise, the American dream was available to anyone who could pay a 50-cent tax (about $12 in current dollars) and was not a “convict, lunatic, idiot or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.”

It makes me wonder how the Shimerdas got their son Marek past the immigration officers.  Was he based on a real person?  Has anyone investigated this issue?  May I call "dibs" if nobody has yet?!

Susan Lynn Meyer
Department of English, Wellesley College, Wellesley MA 02481
Recent books: 
Matzah Belowstairs (Lerner, Kar-Ben Books 2019). 
Skating with the Statue of Liberty (Penguin Random House 2016).
New Shoes (Holiday House 2015).

Recent awards:
New York State Charlotte Award.
Jane Addams Peace Award. 
NAACP Image Award Nominee.  

On Sat, Jul 20, 2019 at 12:36 PM Maria Cristina Giorcelli <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Thank you! Cristina

Prof. Cristina Giorcelli

Full Professor Emerita of American Literature

University of Rome Three

Da: 5 Bank Street: The Listserv for Willa Cather Scholars <[log in to unmask]> per conto di Diane Prenatt <[log in to unmask]>
Inviato: sabato 20 luglio 2019 02:16:59
A: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Oggetto: [5BANKSTREET] Cather for our time . . . again

Thought others would be interested:


When I was in high school I read Willa Cather’s “My Ántonia” and loved it for the love story it told. This week, I borrowed my daughter’s copy and read it again. It turns out to be a book ...

Diane Prenatt, Ph.D.
Professor of English Emerita
Marian University
Indianapolis IN  46222