Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush
In April 1889, men, women and children – red, white and black – gathered at the starting line and raced to claim the land being offered by the federal government in the great Oklahoma land run. Overnight, towns rose up out of the scrub oak and prairie grasses; homesteaders, merchants, bankers and opportunists either made a fortune or sold out cheap, many returning home with broken dreams. Sheldon Russell portrays through his fictional characters the beginning of settlement in present-day Oklahoma. Centering his story on the state’s first capital, Guthrie, Russell describes what life must have been like for the people who were the first to develop the land. The author introduces the entrepreneur who had the foresight to ship railcars loaded with lumber, anticipating all the new construction. Russell then introduces the man who carried typesetting and a newspaper press to start the first newspaper, as well as the architect who carried his plans in a satchel, hoping to be the first to design the buildings of the growing capital city. Around these characters, he crafts a realistic story of the beginning of a western community, shaped out of the desires of those looking for opportunity and wealth.
Dreams to Dust is an accurate historical account and true to the requirement of what constitutes historical fiction. It is also a very good read.