Emma of Aurora: The Complete Change and Cherish Trilogy (2013)



Emma Wagner Giesy was the only woman sent west from Missouri with nine male scouts to find a new home for their 1850s German-American religious community. What they eventually establish is the only successful utopian colony to survive for more than twenty years west of the Mississippi. A Clearing in the Wild (Book I ) was a finalist for the WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction; A Tendering in the Storm won the WILLA Literary Award. A companion book, Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community and Craft, provides a history told through quilts and crafts of the actual colony in Oregon.

A Clearing in the Wild


Young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of 1850’s Bethel colony, determined to remain untainted by the world. Passionate and independent, she resents the limitations placed on women and finds it difficult to rein in her tongue. (2006)

A Tendering in the Storm


Determined to raise her children on her own terms, Emma suddenly finds herself alone and pregnant with her third child, struggling to keep her family secure in the remote coastal forest of the Washington Territory. Loss and disappointment soon threaten to consume her and she makes a series of poor choices that take her into dangerous relationships. (2007)

A Mending at the Edge


Based on the life of German-American Emma Wagner Giesy, the only woman sent to the Oregon Territory in the 1850s to help found a communal society. While set in the historical past, it's a story for our own time answering the question: Can threads of an isolated life weave a legacy of purpose in community? (2008)

Critical Reviews of Jane Kirkpatrick's Change and Cherish Historical Series

“In A Tendering in the Storm, Jane Kirkpatrick continues the story of the tensions between the individual and the community that is at the core of the communal experience. The voices of Emma Giesy and Louisa Keil offer personal and passionate perspectives of these often conflicting views. Kirkpatrick presents a historically based and emotionally charged account of challenges, change, and charity.”
–James J. Kopp, Communal Historian, Aurora Colony Historical Society Board of Directors, and the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission

"Jane has a gift for breathing simple beauty into the lives of remarkable historical women characters. In A Mending at the Edge, Emma comes off the page and shows readers an unforgettable picture of a very unique Oregon community. I love living within view of Mt. Hood even more now that I better understand those who shaped the tenacious beginnings of this region."
Robin Jones Gunn, author of the bestselling Glenbrooke Series and the Christy Award-winning Sisterchicks novels



Writer's Recollections

This story of Emma as a member of a communal society intrigued me - especially the journey along the Oregon Trail as the only woman with 9 German / Swiss men.  I'm of German descent, and I can't imagine spending all that time with stubborn (persevering) German men!  After they spent all that time together, I wondered how Emma and the men, changed their societal views toward each other - and that became part of the story!

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clearing tendering

mending emma

Emma of Aurora
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A Clearing in the Wild,
2006 PNBA Award Nominee


A Clearing in the Wild: Finalist for WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction.
A Tendering in the Storm: Winner of the WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction.


Honoring and Promoting Excellence in Christian Fiction

A Tendering in the Storm