Black Hawk

“Black Hawk, the new world in which we had come to live, was a clean, well-planted little prairie town, with white fences and good green yards about the dwellings, wide, dusty streets, and shapely little trees growing along the wooden sidewalks”

Through Jim Burden, Cather remembers Red Cloud and her initial impressions of the town.  She reimagines Red Cloud as Black Hawk, casting the residents as the different characters in My Ántonia. The Shimerda family is based on the Sadilek family, who were Bohemian immigrants who lived east of the town.  The plot loosely corresponds to the lives of Willa Cather as Jim Burden and Anna Sadilek Pavelka as Ántonia Shimerda Cuzak.  Cather came to know Anna Sadilek when she was working for Mrs. Miner, who lived near the Cather family.  Memorably, Cather draws Mrs. Harling as a representation of Mrs. Miner, who died while Cather was writing the novel.  Cather dedicated the book to her two daughters, Carrie Miner (Frances Harling) and Irene Miner (Nina Harling), with whom she was very close throughout her life.

At this time, the map does not extend beyond Red Cloud, so the Shimerda farm, the Burden farm, and the Cuzak farm are indicated on the map towards the edges, pointing in the direction in which they are located.

Explore the map of Black Hawk locations, accompanied with passages from the novel:,40.0871,-98.5158,40.0921&zoom=true&scale=true&legend=true&theme=light


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