Grubbed Stumps, Fixed Fence, Pa to Town—Our Nebraska Farm, 1871–2010


In an age when the small American farm is fast disappearing, Grubbed Stumps takes the reader back to the days when the first homesteaders in Nebraska struggled to tame the wilderness. 

The Norris Farm was in the author’s family from the late 1800s onward. With the help of archives, artifacts, and historical records, the book honors a parcel of land that is to the author and his ancestors who farmed it the most sacred place on earth. 

Rick selected the farm plat book, a gridded record of field layouts, belonging to the original owner, to serve as the book’s foundation. His design follows the plat book’s proportions, grid, and layout. 

During his first review of images Rick noted that Norris family ephemera did not reach back to the farm’s earliest years. To fill gaps and deepen the reader’s sense of place and context, he culled from Nebraska state archives and historical societies, and the Library of Congress, and typeset hundreds of vintage snippets from small-town newspapers. 

Susan managed the plethora of image sources. Grubbed Stumps showcases her fine presswork: the images on uncoated paper printed clean and color is balanced throughout. The book cloth and binding she chose complement the text pages; the headband selection (a detail many overlook) shows her careful finishing touch. 

When Rick learned that Willa Cather, acclaimed author, had lived in the same town where the farm is located, he incorporated excerpts of her writings in the design. TheWilla Cather Foundation receives all sales proceeds.


Pages: 272
Trim size: 9.5 x 12
Illustrations: 354
Inks: Four-color
Text paper: 80# Mohawk Superfine
Binding: Smyth sewn and casebound
Print run: 500
Prepress and printer: Puritan Capital
Hollis, New Hampshire
Bindery: Acme Bookbinding
Charlestown, Massachusetts
Editor: Carol Henderson