HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Hidden Riches
Author: H. Romaine Stauffer
Publisher: Christian Light Publications, 1983
ISBN-13: 978-0878135202, Old
ISBN-10: 0878135200, Old
ISBN-13: 978-0878136810, New
ISBN-10: 0878136819, New
Related website: https://www.clp.org/ (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Stauffer, H. Romaine. Hidden Riches (published in 1983 by Christian Light Publications Inc., P. O. Box 1212, Harrisonburg, VS 22803). It is 1752, and six year old Christian Burkholder, called Christli by his family, lives with his father, also named Christian, mother Elizabeth, older sisters Barbara, Anna, and Elizabeth, and older brothers Ulrich and Peter, on a farm near the little village of Gerolsheim in the German Palatinate hills. His grandfather, Hans Burkholder, and his uncle Abraham Burkholder with his family, also live there. The Burkholders are “Swissers” or Mennonites whose ancestors moved from Switzerland to Germany to escape persecution. Now, Grandfather Hans wants them to go to Pennsylvania in America for the same reason, although young Christian wants to go just to see some Indians.
Unfortunately, both Hans and Christian Sr. die over the next two years, but, keeping a promise that she had made to her husband, in 1754 Mrs. Burkholder and the children, along with their neighbors, the Jacob Frey family, finally make plans to emigrate. However, their journey will involve a treacherous boat ride down the Rhine River, a dishonest person claiming to be a guide to the New World, and a dangerous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, with a terrible storm and outbreaks of dysentery, measles, and scurvy. In fact, Peter’s best friend, Hans Frey, and Christian’s best friend, Martin Frey, both die, and Christian himself becomes very ill. Will they survive the trip? Will they make it to their new home? And if they do, will Christian ever see any Indians?
Hidden Riches is an interesting fictionalized account of the coming of the boy Christian Burkholder, a real person, and his family to Pennsylvania from the Upper Rhineland Palatinate of Germany in 1754. Author Romaine Stauffer has managed to blend a good story with lots of historical facts, including information about the Mennonites, German immigration to Pennsylvania, and even the work of Ben Franklin in Philadelphia. According to the Epilogue, Christian Burkholder (1746-1809) became an outstanding Mennonite Church bishop of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. One does not need to be a Mennonite to appreciate the courage, sacrifice, and perseverance of this family which resulted from their deep faith in God. Such stories help to make us all more thankful for the religious freedom which we enjoy.