Rachel Calof - A Memoir with Music dramatizes the story of Rachel Calof, a Jewish picture bride. We follow Rachel’s touching story, as she emigrates from Russia to Devil’s Lake, North Dakota in 1894, crossing the ocean to marry a man she has never met, determined to make a new life as a homesteader.

We are the pioneers. The land became ours. The land of milk and honey, right outside our door.

For four years after her arrival, Rachel and her husband lived in a twelve-by-fourteen foot shack with her in-laws, her husband’s brother, wife and children, two dozen chickens – and a cow. She gave birth to nine children, all of whom survived. Their descendants are proof of her triumph over adversity. 

Little things made the difference between tragedy and happiness in a matter of moments.
Photo: Rachel, seated right, with the Calof Family.

Photo: Rachel, seated right, with the Calof Family.


Rachel Calof eventually chronicled the story of those years when she was a 55 year old woman living in St. Paul. Her manuscript, handwritten in Yiddish, was discovered by her children after her death and eventually published as Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains in 1995 by Indiana University Press.

Her story is filled with an engaging humor, compassion, and detailed accounting of the unrelenting realities faced by homesteaders on a windswept prairie.