•  
  •  
 

Article Title

'Peter Left Because . . .': A Comparative Study of Family Oral Histories

Authors

Nancy Thym

Volume

77

Issue

3

First Page

89

Last Page

94

Abstract

In 1854, Peter Oest left the small, northern German town of Otterndorf for America. He left behind a productive farm and high social position for the life of an unlucky gold miner in the California foothills. In Otterndorf the descendants of Peter's brother give one reason for Peter's seemingly irrational behavior, while Peter's descendants in California give quite another reason: the former, that he left for marital reasons, the latter, that he left for military reasons. The truth in these disparate accounts is no longer possible to determine and is perhaps not as important as the exploration of the motivations behind each family's account and the insights the accounts give us into the way in which narratives are generated.