My Farm on the Mississippi is a delightful and informative memoir by the German writer Heinrich Hauser about his experiences while living in Perry County in southeast Missouri from 1945 to 1948. Born in Berlin in 1901, Hauser was an accomplished journalist and novelist who had published at least two dozen books by the time he fled Germany for the United States in 1939. In 1945, after an unsuccessful stint as a farmer in upper New York, a brief stay in Chicago, and the publication of three more books, Hauser purchased three hundred acres along the Mississippi near the little town of Wittenberg, Missouri (which succumbed to the Great Flood of 1993).
Hauser, his wife, Rita, and his teenage son, Huc, spent their years in Missouri farming the land in an effort to raise produce to help feed war-torn Germany. Tackling their task with great energy and commitment, they encountered many of the same challenges that were faced by immigrants more than a century earlier. Through hope and determination, and occasional help from the locals, they managed to salvage the neglected fields and restore an old farmhouse to build what they considered a paradise. Of particular interest is Hauser's account of Huc learning to farm and hunt and his colorful descriptions of the characters that entered the Hausers' lives.
Originally published in 1950 as Meine Farm am Mississippi upon Hauser's return to Germany, this book now serves as a historical geography that can be used to compare the landscapes of fifty years ago with those of the present. In addition, Hauser's remarkable ability to portray day-to-day life with detailed observations, along with his knack for sharing his sense of wonder at the natural surroundings, makes this work a great adventure story, as well as an important resource for Missouri folklore and for scholars pursuing local and American immigrant history.