The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

From Mill Wheel to Plowshare. By Julia Angeline Drake and
James Ridgely Orendorff. (Cedar Rapids: The Torch
Press. 1938. Privately published. Pp. xii, 271. $3.00.)
This volume is devoted to the experiences of the Orendorff family,
and several of the leading families with which its members inter-
married, from the first half of the eighteenth century, when the
first Orendorff arrived near Philadephia from the Palatinate, to the
time when some of the youngest members of the family com-
pleted the transcontinental migration to the Pacific Coast. In a
sense, it is the story of the advancing frontier, in terms of the
history of a substantial German immigrant family, and the English
and Scotch-Irish with whom these pioneers intermarried. From
Pennsylvania they followed the lure of the West, across the Blue
Ridge, by the Wilderness Road, to the Kentucky and Tennessee
border and, in later generations, to Illinois, Arkansas, and Cali-
fornia. From a personal narrative of this kind, so typical of the
immigrant theme in the expansion of America, one gets glimpses
of early colonial agriculture and industry, the flour and saw mills
erected by the pioneers on every frontier where they established
themselves, early American trade, transportation and markets, and
the life of the common man at various stages of the westward
Much research has gone into the production of this volume,
especially in such sources as deeds, wills, letters, diaries, and other
family records. The appendix, in addition to a genealogy, consists
of a strange miscellany of source materials. The maps are excellent
and the illustrations beautifully done. The book will, of course, be
of great interest to all members of this family which had its first
reunion in Illinois in 1886. Unfortunately, and in spite of the
research that went into this labor of love, the volume will be of
little value to the historian. It suffers from a number of defects
in organization and composition. The narrative is choppy; the
style is undistinguished and diffused; and the materials suffer from
poor arrangement. Long extracts, from miscellaneous documents,
some important and others not, break the continuity of the story.
The chapter on "Industrial Interests," for example, contains sec-
tions on the first steamboat, early trade relations, Washington's
Neutrality Proclamation, the Whiskey Insurrection, and a Civil
War story that is not documented and probably apocryphal. More-
over, the authors have failed completely to sketch in an adequate


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 24, 2016.

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