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Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 133.1097 NOR Adult NonFiction Book
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Summary

Summary

"A haunting story about the long reach of the past."--Maureen Corrigan, NPR'S Fresh Air

"In this intriguing book, [Nordhaus] shares her journey to discover who her immigrant ancestor really was--and what strange alchemy made the idea of her linger long after she was gone." --People

La Posada--"place of rest"--was once a grand Santa Fe mansion. It belonged to Abraham and Julia Staab, who emigrated from Germany in the mid-nineteenth century. After they died, the house became a hotel. And in the 1970s, the hotel acquired a resident ghost--a sad, dark-eyed woman in a long gown. Strange things began to happen there: vases moved, glasses flew, blankets were ripped from beds. Julia Staab died in 1896--but her ghost, they say, lives on.

In American Ghost, Julia's great-great-granddaughter, Hannah Nordhaus, traces her ancestor's transfiguration from nineteenth-century Jewish bride to modern phantom. Family diaries, photographs, and newspaper clippings take her on a riveting journey through three hundred years of German history and the American immigrant experience. With the help of historians, genealogists, family members, and ghost hunters, she weaves a masterful, moving story of fin-de-si#65533;cle Europe and pioneer life, villains and visionaries, medicine and spiritualism, imagination and truth, exploring how lives become legends, and what those legends tell us about who we are.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Part travelogue, part memoir, part ghost story, part history Nordhaus' book does a little bit of everything. She offers a deeply compelling personal account of her attempts to better understand her own family history, starting with the stories she grew up on of her great-great-grandmother's ghost. Julia Schuster Staab may have died in the late nineteenth century, but it seems she's not entirely gone. Numerous stories place her ghost as a frequent visitor to La Posada, the hotel that occupies her former home. In her attempts to better understand Julia's life and afterlife Nordhaus creates an extensive and fascinating history of the American Southwest and the Jewish immigrant population that helped build it. Her account seamlessly transitions from past to present, taking her readers from nineteenth-century New Mexico to modern Germany without losing the thread that ties it all together Julia Staab's apparently restless spirit. The occasional unnecessary tangent threatens the overall coherency of the book, and the lack of solid conclusions to these questions Are there such things as ghosts? Is Julia really one of them? How did she live? Why did she live unhappily and die so young? may leave some readers feeling a bit unfulfilled. Still, the book's unique blend of genres and its excellent writing make it hard to put down.--Hayes, Rebecca Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Nordhaus (The Beekeeper's Lament) embarks on a "ghost hunt" for her great-great-grandmother, German immigrant Julia Schuster Staab, in this unique collision of family history, Wild West adventure, and ghost story. Since the 1970s, the grand La Posada hotel in Santa Fe has been subject to sightings of a ghost resembling Julia, who lived there with her husband, Abraham, and their seven children in the late 19th century. Nordhaus, who comes from a long line of skeptics, decides to investigate these rumors. She consults a variety of self-appointed supernatural experts-psychics, tarot-card readers, mediums, and dowsers-as well as more traditional sources such as newspaper archives, family diaries, and aging relatives. She also visits the settings of her grandmother's life, from villages in Germany to the deserts of New Mexico where the Staabs lived alongside "Spanish settlers and Pueblo Indians... Navajos, Apaches, freed slaves, soldiers... cowboys, dry-land farmers... land-grabbers, miners, and shysters." In the process, Nordhaus uncovers a strain of mental illness that runs through one branch of her family, delves into the lore of the 19th-century spiritualist movement, and discovers how a true-life story can become a paranormal one. Perceptive, witty, and engaging, Nordhaus observes that "it's not so much the ghost that keeps the dead alive... as it is the story." (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Nordhaus (The Beekeeper's Lament) was captivated by stories of her great-great-grandmother Julia's ghost haunting the former family home, now the La Posada hotel in Santa Fe, NM. So she sets off on a research project to investigate Julia, the Staab family, and the conditions surrounding her death. Born in Germany, Julia Schuster married Abraham Staab, a Jewish businessman, and moved to Santa Fe in 1865, where they lived with their seven children. She tried adjusting to life in the Wild West but had a difficult time with homesickness, requiring frequent trips back to Germany to visit family. She died at age 52, depressed and in ill health, after the death of their eighth child. Nordhaus searches through newspapers, family memoirs, and city archives, even meeting with experts in the supernatural, to uncover Julia's sad life and offer fascinating details about the American frontier, the plight of Jews in 19th-century Europe, and the occult. Narrator Xe Sands's matter-of-fact narration captures each character's individuality. VERDICT Although faltering a little near the end when Nordhaus lapses into an excess of "make every day count" platitudes, this ghost story/memoir should enlighten and entertain history and memoir buffs. ["This touching and uplifting work is highly recommended and would appeal to a variety of public and academic readers": LJ 1/15 starred review of the Harper hc.]-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Family Treep. x
1 Aura of Sadnessp. 1
2 A Dress of Black Satinp. 18
3 The Prairie Oceanp. 34
4 Good-Time Townp. 41
5 Promised Landp. 47
6 Book of Prayerp. 59
7 Broncho Maneuversp. 64
8 Bricks and Mortarp. 77
9 Other Speculationp. 88
10 Four Lettersp. 98
11 The Upper Tenp. 111
12 The Great Pacificp. 123
13 Men Could Not Move Herp. 131
14 Proper Girlp. 149
15 Region of Insanityp. 154
16 Low Seasonp. 164
17 Schustergarterp. 175
18 The Merchant Princep. 182
19 Princess Goldenhairp. 191
20 Boodle and Payolap. 198
21 Tale of Woep. 205
22 The angel of Neuhausp. 212
23 Other moments Contributep. 220
24 Destination Campp. 227
25 Her Long Restp. 242
26 Bequestp. 249
27 Diasporap. 257
28 Map of the Worldp. 266
29 At famous La Posadap. 272
30 The Record of what wasp. 285
31 Dustp. 291
Acknowledgmentsp. 303
A Note on Sourcesp. 307
Bibliographyp. 314
Photography Creditsp. 321

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