Seagoing Cowboy picture book coming in 2016

PB PR

New Year’s Day seems a fitting time to announce the coming release of my picture book about a seagoing cowboy’s journey to Poland. The story has been beautifully illustrated by Claire Ewart and can now be pre-ordered at Brethren Press.

I will soon be launching an expanded and updated seagoing cowboys website that, besides the current historical materials, will include information about the book and my activities. This blog will continue with historical posts on the second and fourth Fridays, and I will be adding personal posts along the way about my own journey with the seagoing cowboys and Heifer International.

I invite you to journey with me in 2016. And please invite your friends to join the ride!

Happy New Year, dear readers!

Peggy

Thank you, Seagoing Cowboys!

At this time of Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for as relates to my work:

First of all, I’m thankful for a supportive husband and family who give me the space and the grace to follow my passion of telling the seagoing cowboy story.

I’m grateful for the tremendous team at Brethren Press who have been hard at work with me to create our upcoming picture book The Seagoing Cowboy to be released in March. Illustrations by Claire Ewart bring the story to life in a “beautifully vivid” way, to quote my publisher, Wendy McFadden. Watch for the “cover reveal” soon.

I’m thankful for and excited about the increasing interest overseas in the seagoing cowboy and Heifer Project stories. I’m working with the Oberschlesisches Landesmuseum in Ratingen, Germany, on an upcoming exhibit that will include a display of the seagoing cowboys and Heifer Project shipments to Silesia after World War II. I’ll share more about that at a later date. And I’m working with Jouko Moisala from Finland on a display related to a famous shipwreck in December 1947 off the coast there involving one of the livestock ships, the SS Park Victory, after it ceased to be used for animals. There will be a 70th anniversary commemoration of this shipwreck in 2017 in which the history of this ship will be displayed. So many good things happening!

And most of all, I’m especially thankful for the many seagoing cowboys who have so graciously shared their stories, their photos, their diaries, and other materials with me. Their stories have been compelling enough to keep me busy for nearly fourteen years now. And what they have given to me enables me to share this fascinating history with the world. They carry a great legacy which is summed up in these lines from a 1946 ad in the Ephrata Review:

Men of good moral and ethical ideals who will conduct themselves in a manner which will be a tribute to their country and the program of which they are a part will be welcomed and respected by the people of Europe. It is felt that by learning to know these people and understanding their problems that the “cowboys” will become more valuable citizens to the country and the world.

And so they have.

The Heifer Foundation has set up a Cowboy Endowment that will help to support the work of Heifer International and honor the seagoing cowboys in the process. I invite you to join me in giving thanks for the service of these men by making today a day of “Thanks” and “Giving.” Learn more here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Planning ahead on the Seagoing Cowboy story and looking back on a great year

I’ve completed six months of bi-weekly blog posts now about the Seagoing Cowboy and Heifer Project histories. I’m in the process of planning my calendar of posts for this year; and to that end, I’d be happy to know what questions my readers might have that you would like answered about these two histories. I’d also be happy to know what you have particularly enjoyed and what you would like to see more of. You can share your questions or comments with me either through the reply feature of this blog or by emailing me at prmiller@bnin.net.

In this, my first post of the year, I invite you to look back with me at some of my personal highlights of 2014:

Jo Israelson and Peggy Reiff Miller at Heifer International, March 2014

Jo Israelson and I. Photo by Alan McNamee

 

Opening night of Jo Israelson’s exhibit “Heifer Relief: Compass, Ark, Berth” at Heifer International headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 13, 2014, where I was the speaker along with two amazing seagoing cowboys: Merle Crouse and Howard Lord.

 

Okanogan County, WA, seagoing cowboys

Seated, L to R, Seagoing Cowboys Dave Henneman, Bill Pyper, Jick Fancher, Bill Dugan. Standing, L to R, Jack Lorz, whose brother was a seagoing cowboy; me; Neoma Vandiver who husband was a seagoing cowboy. Photo by Rex Miller

 

A speaking trip to Tonasket, Washington, the end of August that included interviews with all four seagoing cowboys pictured. I was invited by college classmate and friend Sandra Brightbill, President of the Okanogan County Historical Society, to honor the seagoing cowboys from their county.

 

 

Rex and Peggy Reiff Miller

Rex and I at the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren in Tonasket, WA, where I spoke August 24, 2014. Photo by Jerry Brightbill

 

 

And what a joy it was to have my husband, Rex Miller, with me on that trip.

 

 

 

 

Seagoing Cowboys at Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana, Sept. 2014

Heifer International honored the Seagoing Cowboys who came to the Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event with a “Make a Difference Award.” I’m in the upper left and Heifer’s CEO Pierre Ferrari in the middle of the third row. All the others were cowboys or cowgirls. Photo courtesy of Heifer International

Heifer International’s Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Indiana, September 12-14, 2014, was one of the 70th anniversary celebrations Heifer sponsored across the country last year. I co-chaired the event; the planning took up a large portion of my time during the year, but it was worth every minute of it when the event brought together 25 seagoing and flying cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country to be honored by Heifer.

Seagoing Cowboys of the Rock Springs Victory.

Howard Lord, Richard Hoblin, and Bob Heimberger reunite. They served together on the SS Rock Springs Victory to Ethiopia in 1947. Photo courtesy of Heifer International

 

 

What a wondrous reunion it was!

 

 

 

 

John Baker shares his story

John Baker shares highlights of his trip to Poland on the SS Mexican in December 1945. Photo courtesy of Heifer International

 

 

And full of great stories!

 

 

 

 

Seagoing Cowboys at Beyond Hunger Manheim, Oct. 25, 2014

Seagoing Cowboys honored by Heifer International at their Beyond Hunger Manheim event, October 25, 2014. Photo by Rex Miller

Another glorious cowboy reunion in Pennsylvania. I participated in Heifer’s Beyond Hunger Manheim event, October 25, 2014, that brought together 35 more seagoing cowboys.

Seagoing Cowboy Al Guyer and Peggy Reiff Miller

Seagoing Cowboy Al Guyer and I, October 25, 2014.

A joy for me at this event was being reunited with the first seagoing cowboy I interviewed, in January 2002, Al Guyer. He was on the same SS Mexican trip as John Baker pictured above at the Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event. Al’s Christmas story appeared in my December 26 post.

 

 

Marketing meeting with Brethren Press team

Brethren Press Managing Editor James Deaton describes illustrator Claire Ewart’s image on the screen to Publisher Wendy McFadden and me. Photo by Jeff Lennard, Brethren Press Marketing Director

The final highlight of my year was a marketing meeting in Elgin, Illinois, with Brethren Press staff in November for my upcoming children’s picture book, The Seagoing Cowboy, due out this fall. We had our first glimpse of illustrator Claire Ewart’s sketches for the book. An exciting day!

Watch for more news about the book’s progress as the year goes along.

 

 

Next post: How ten Manchester College students ended up on a cattle boat to Europe