Copyright 2008 by Peggy Reiff Miller
All rights reserved
Page created 4/1/09
Some years after my Grandpa Abe died in 1969, my father gave
me about a dozen photos from a cattle boat trip to Poland
Grandpa Abe had taken in 1946. Having grown up in the
Church of the Brethren, the recruiting organization for
these trips, I knew about the "seagoing cowboys," as the men
who took the trips were called; but I didn't know my grandpa
had been one. So I never heard his story.
A handful of photos, an itch to write a young adult novel, and the time to do it set me on a quest that
has become the focus of my professional life.
As my interest in writing for children grew through the 1980s and 1990s, I kept in the back of my
mind the thought that the seagoing cowboys would be a great topic for a young adult novel. In
2002, I started interviewing men who had been seagoing cowboys to find out what Grandpa's trip
would have been like.
A move for my husband's job from Maryland to Indiana that same year gave me the opportunity to
focus my work time 100% on writing and research. I signed up for the Institute of Children's
Literature book writing course and drafted a historical novel about the journey of a 16-year-old
I had enough cowboy information long ago for my novel, but I couldn't stop researching. One
cowboy led to another, and another, and every cowboy's story was different from the one before in
some way. I wanted to record them all! My quest had become a mission to document this wonderful
history. Through interviews, questionnaires, diary accounts, photos, and movies of their trips, I am
accumulating a wealth of information that will be given to the Brethren Historical Library and
Archives when I am finished with my writing projects.
The information I've collected is too rich to just sit around in my office, so I'm
finding ways to share the stories of these men. One of those ways is a website
dedicated to the seagoing cowboys. I invite you to check it out at
www.seagoingcowboys.com to learn more about them. I'm also working on a
nonfiction book about the history of the seagoing cowboys. My most recent
accomplishment is the creation of a DVD documentary photo story, A Tribute to
the Seagoing Cowboys. For more information and an order form, just click the
DVD link in the menu list at the top left of this page.
The men who served as seagoing cowboys between 1945 and 1947 have been an inspiration to me.
I hope they will be to you, too.
Peggy Reiff Miller ,
Site by Abbie L. Miller
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