Book Description: Weeks before the birth of Queen Victoria, Anna Christina Schmidt was born to a German settler on the estate of a Polish noble. Unlike the Queen, the only remaining visible proof of her life is a depression in the grass behind a moss covered tombstone. This is the true story of one of the thousands of forgotten mothers who repeatedly stood at their door watching a child disappear on their way to America never expecting to see them again. Many also like Anna, had to decide, when their last child bought the tickets to join their siblings, if they were going to stay and die where they were born or rebuild their family in the new world. Standing at the Grave is not only Anna’s story but also the journey of her children from the plains of Wielkopolska to the prairies of North Dakota. This generation’s combination of values and initiative, for which they were extolled in their obituaries, was taught to them on their parents’ small farm in a forgotten community called Gembitz Hauland.
About Gary Heyn: Gary Heyn was raised on a family farm near Rochester Minnesota. As a boy he was fascinated by the stories of his Great Grandmother Lydia Heyn about the “olden days”. Those afternoons on the front porch sparked a life-long interest in history and genealogy. Standing at the Grave is the result of the convergence of retirement, a class of Gen Zs who encouraged an OK Boomer, and the pandemic that has resulted in the resurrection of not only the lives his family but also the other residents of the former Gembitz Hauland as a novel.
Gary and his wife Peg, enjoy their home in Golden Valley, Minnesota from which they travel the world as often as possible. They have one son Stefan a second generation Alumni of the University of Minnesota. Gary gives back to the German genealogical community as the Treasurer of the Germanic Genealogical Society located in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.