Monthly Archives: March 2012

Student of Anika Hanisch Publishes First Book

Contact: Walt Steingruber 406.284.6920

Local Writing Student Self-Publishes Book About
Immigrant Experience and Ranch Life

“Born to Serve” started out as a few personal essays, grew into whole book about one Milligan Canyon family

Manhattan, MT – When Walt Steingruber began writing as a personal hobby, he had no idea that he would soon self-publish his first book. The Manhattan resident grew up on a ranch in Milligan Canyon and initially began writing recollections that his mother, Marie (Hager) Steingruber, had shared with him. Hager and several family members journeyed from Germany to America in 1921, joining a relative who already lived in Montana. Many years later, Hager would share her stories with her son, who treasured all the details about the immigrant journey and early Montana ranch life.

Recently, Steingruber began writing those stories as individual essays, with the first one recalling the long trip from Germany to Montana. He sent that first essay to a writing contest at German Life magazine and was stunned when he received a package in the mail months later. Steingruber’s piece had been published in a compilation of stories about the German American experience.

That got him thinking. Maybe he really ought to write a book-length manuscript. Between his mother’s stories and his own memories of growing up on the ranch, he had plenty of tales to tell. Last autumn, Steingruber signed up for a memoir-writing workshop at Parkhaven Retirement Community, taught by local ghostwriter Anika Hanisch. The class inspired him to finish his work in progress. Hanisch helped him with editing, and a friend helped design the book. By December, Steingruber had self-published Born to Serve, a collection of essays about his mother’s life in Montana.

For Steingruber, the most rewarding aspect has been hearing from people who read the book and are inspired to do the same thing. “I get gillions of letters. I especially treasure the ones that say it encouraged them to do some writing,” said Steingruber.

The writer also has a collection of poetry, is working on yet another writing project, and plans to continue taking writing classes whenever they’re offered in the area. Copies of Born to Serve are available for purchase at Main Street Office Supply in Three Forks.