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Willa Siebert Cather was born in the home of her maternal grandmother in 1873 in the bluegrass region of western Virginia Robinson 6 Cathers name was originally Willela after her fathers younger sister who died in childhood but the family always called her Willie They did this because as a child Willa altered her name in the family Bible and insisted that she was named after her uncle William Sibert Boak Woodress 23 In the spring of 1883 when Willa was nine the Cathers moved to a farm near Red Cloud Nebraska Cather described her impressions of this land to an interviewer She said As we drove further and further out into the country I felt a good deal as we ad come to the end of everything Woodress 31 They came to Nebraska by train because the journey by wagon was so tedious Cathers first home was in the state of Nebraska with her grandfather on the Divide Robinson 18 Its most characteristic feature which she described faithfully in My Antonia was a basement kitchen and dining room However a year later the Cathers left the farm to live in the town of Red Cloud so the children could attend school 23 Red Cloud was a town of 2500 people It was a busy place that saw the passing of eight passenger trains a day 36 The people of Red Cloud played an important part in the life and work of Willa Cather There were many people in the town who inspired her and she sought interesting adults wherever she could find them Woodress 41 Two of Red Clouds doctors became her friends and allowed her to tag along on their calls where once she assisted in giving chloroform to a boy who was about to have his leg amputated Cather also medically experimented on animals with a set of medical instruments this disgusted and outraged some of the townspeople Robinson 32
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