Kansas Snowstorm, Birds and Gray Cat

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Birds during KS snowstormHello from snowy Kansas! We could get up to a foot of snow before this storm is over, but I’m staying warm and cozy in my office today. The electricity is still on and I’m typing away, while watching the snowy scene just outside my window.

I have three bird feeders right outside my office window. I took the window screens off, and have a bench right up against the window so my male cat, “Gray Cat” can sit and watch all the birds- while only being a few inches from the action.

Occasionally he’ll forget himself and lunges for a bird, but he usually just sits enthralled there for quite a while- until it’s time to take another nap.

Enjoy your day, whether your watching snow, birds or something else!

Gray Cat and birds

Happy 153rd Birthday, Kansas!

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Today in 1861 Kansas finally become a state, after trying to get statehood for several years.

Stitch of Courage Audio BookHere’s an excerpt from my book Stitch of Courage to give you a feel of what the people felt when they heard the Territory of Kansas had become a state. I wrote this excerpt after reading accounts of that day from the Lawrence newspaper.

January 29, 1861

Covering my ears for what seems the hundredth time, I brace myself for the latest firing of Old Sacramento. Mounted on top of Mount Oread, the cannon echoes throughout the territory. Smoke hangs in the frigid air, slowly dissipating over the area, mixing in with the constant pealing of the church bells. We have had two weeks of heavy snows, but townspeople and country folk alike now ignore the cold and surge the street corners, hugging, laughing, and crying for our good fortune. Hundreds crowd around the bonfires in the snow-covered town, braving the blistering January weather to celebrate the news.

Delivered to Leavenworth by telegraph from Washington, D.C., then by rider to Lawrence, the long-awaited news that Kansas has been admitted to statehood invited the neighborhood to commence a loud celebration at nine o’clock tonight.

The turmoil of the territory is over! Kansas has finally been added to the stars of the Union flag today after seven long years of difficulty and struggle. Our state may be the most poverty stricken state ever to enter the Union, but we’re here today to see it happen. Even if 30,000 people abandoned the state last year because of the drought, others stayed on because they knew the times would get better.

This is a major victory over slavery, the South, and Missouri. The ruins of the fort are visible on top of Mount Oread where the battles for righteousness were fought. They tried to make Kansas a proslavery state, but freedom was ultimately won!

But among the cheering tonight I have overheard groups talking about the discord in the South. While we have fought so hard to enter the Union, there are Southern states leaving it. Until I moved to Kansas and witnessed the territory’s activities, I didn’t understand the feelings and passions that stirred my Kennedy family to get involved in what I viewed as politics. Witnessing the situation and getting older, I realize they were drawn to their actions out of necessity.

When I arrived in the territory in 1858, most of the fighting was over between the proslavers and free-state people. It was the Washington politicians that held up the final admittance to statehood.

My aunt, Margaret Kennedy, eight of her children, and their families and relatives traveled to the Kansas Territory in 1855. My brother, William James, trailed along, got work in a sawmill in Lawrence, and married fellow his traveler Lucinda Shields. Their moving to the new territory put them in the line of danger that threatened their lives and livelihood. Being strong Union patriots, they fought for the free-state issues and, luckily, survived the skirmishes.  (Stitch of Courage © by Linda K. Hubalek)

 I’m glad things worked out 153 years ago, because our prairie state is still a great place to live.
Happy Birthday, Kansas!


The Voice of Stitch of Courage

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in about Trail of Thread book series, Blog

Maggie Kennedy Pieratt, featured in the book Stitch of Courage by Linda K. Hubalek.

Maggie Kennedy Pieratt

Professional narrator Heather Farrar used her special voice to portray teenager Maggie Kennedy in the audio recording of my book Stitch of Courage. It was so much fun working on this project, and Heather did an excellent job of narrating this story.

My ancestors homesteaded in Kansas in 1854, during the Bleeding Kansas and Civil War era and I wrote their stories in  Stitch of Courage.  The story line is written as Maggie (my great great grandmother) writes to her sister Caroline, describing what was going on during that time frame.

Heather did an excellent job of narrating this story. It’s very rewarding to hear my ancestor come alive through this audiobook. Listening to “Maggie” (through Heather’s voice) made me feel like I was listening to her in person.

When I asked Heather for a quote for a press release, she said, “There are few chances in a narrator’s life when they are given the opportunity to step into the shoes of history through such a vivid character written as Maggie Kennedy. Voicing Maggie from a somewhat naïve’ fifteen year old girl from Ohio, to a matured young woman settled in the new state of Kansas during the Civil War, was not only a privilege, but a pleasure with Linda K. Hubalek’s brilliant and historically engaging writing. ”

Stitch of Courage Audio BookWant to hear a sample of Stitch of Courage now? Just click on this link, then look for the “Listen” button (below the book cover) to “hear” Maggie, my great great grandmother.

Audiobook Giveaway

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

New Audiobooks and a Giveaway for you

I wonder what my great great grandmothers would think of their stories being told by a voice coming out of …something that they had no clue what it was.

I’m sure they couldn’t fathom that a descendant wrote their stories into a book series, and that there was a device the size of a hand that could speak the story out loud.

So far seven of my books are on sale at Amazon’s Audible and iTunes, with the rest of them being available some time this month. (Butter in the Well and Looking Back will be available end of January.)

Please click on the individual covers to listen to samples of the stories.

planting dreams audio book.jpg    cultivating hope audio book    harvesting faith audo book

trail of thread audio book   thimble of soil audio book   stitch of courage audio book

butter in the well audio book   prairie bloomin audio book   looking back audio book

Want to win an audio copy of Stitch of Courage?

Sign up on my contest page by midnight January 17th. The winner will receive a code to download the audiobook from Audible.com.

Hello 2014!

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Kansas Quilter book series

2013 just flew by, and at times I wonder where I spent my time.

Well, I do know…My husband and I completed building our own home from scratch (it was a two-year project), and my dad fell and broke his hip (but back home with continual help from me and others). I also expanded my gardens this summer, and read a lot of books on my Kindle. (My current favorite genre at the moment is western romance.)

Kizzie's Legacy by Linda K. Hubalek2014 brings a new year, and plans for my 60th birthday. The Kansas Quilter series will be published this year, I’m going to take care of my body (I’ll eat only the best quality dark chocolate) and I’m going to enjoy life!

To celebrate the big 60, I’d like to go to Las Vegas to the National Rodeo Finals in December. Why you ask?

1) You see above what I like to read right now and there will be lots of cowboys there, 2) I grew up riding horses and going to rodeos, 3) I’d like to see Las Vegas once in my life. If any of you are rodeo fans and have been to the NRF, please send me a note of what to do while there.

Sound like a good plan? Please join me in my adventure this year as I ride, read, and write in the 1800’s and 2014!

Enjoying the Season

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Christmas-1964I enjoy this time of year. The houses are glistening at night with holiday lights, and the weather definitely feels like Christmas is on its way.

We don’t have a big family to buy Christmas presents for, and my house decorations are low key, so I spend December just enjoying the holiday colors and music.

Our Christmas Eve dinner will be at our house this year though, so I will be planning and cooking for it, and enjoying the company that will fill our house that evening.

Our family, being of Swedish origin, has always had our big meal together on Christmas Eve, ever since the first generation settled the Kansas prairie. It’s fun to look back on photos that showed my parents, aunts and uncles as young people in the 1930’s and 1940’s. (The photo to the right is of me and my little sister in front of our Christmas tree in 1964.)

I wish I could see what my great-great grandparents first Christmas was like in 1869 when they lived in a dugout. I imagine they were thankful for family and the holiday spirit too.

New Audio Books

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Stitch of Courage Audio BookThis month I have been working with three professional narrators to turn nine of my books into audio books to be available on iTunes, Amazon, and Audible for this upcoming holiday season.

It’s been very rewarding to hear my book characters come alive through these audio books. It’s like I’m getting to meet these characters from the 1800’s during their own time. They all homesteaded in Kansas, and now these women are telling me their life story in person. I don’t know what my ancestors sounded like, but I feel like they are reaching out to me now over a century later.

Ann Richardson, an audio book narrator is using her Swedish heritage while narrating the three books in the Swedish immigrant Planting Dreams series, and Prairie Bloomin’ from the Butter in the Well series. Ann, whose father emigrated from Sweden, is using a light Swedish accent to portray Charlotta Johnson and Alma Swenson in these books.

Looking Back Audio BookPam Dougherty, a professional actress on television, film, and stage is narrating four books. A master of different accents, Pamela is using a southern accent for Deborah Pieratt from Kentucky in Trail of Thread, a Midwest accent for Margaret Kennedy in Thimble of Soil, and a Swedish accent for Kajsa Runeberg in the Butter in the Well and Looking Back.

Heather Elizabeth Lynn Farrar is an audio book narrator and author, and she will portray teenager Maggie Kennedy in Stitch of Courage.

It’s amazing how the world of books keep changing and offering new ways to read and hear the written word. I’m sure my ancestors would have loved to hear audio books when stuck in a dugout during a blizzard. Too bad I can’t send these audio books back in time…

Fall Colors and Last Tomatoes

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog, Uncategorized

Fall Colors by Linda HubalekWe just finished a driving vacation through Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. We hadn’t taken a vacation in years and we just drove to enjoy the scenery and visit family along the way.

The tree color was gorgeous up north, and we marveled at the difference of farms and crops between the states. Iowa had rolling hills of drying corn, with white barns and houses in the farmsteads. Driving across other states showed us flat land, red barns, and soybeans.

I’ve always wondered why settlers decided “this is it” and stopped to build a homestead on a certain place. The influence from their homelands can be seen centuries later.

And the next day we got home, we had our first snow of the season. I was glad I was home so I could pick the last of the tomatoes and peppers from my garden. If I was a pioneer I’d really treasure the last 100+ tomatoes I picked green. Think how many meals that would serve a family when you had no source of food except what you could grow.

I placed the tomatoes on trays and put them down in the basement to ripen over time. I’ll enjoy my summer tomatoes past Thanksgiving, and remember the weather then too.

Honoring our Swedish Pioneers

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

Hyllningsfest dancers 2013This past weekend was our Svensk Hyllningsfest, the bi-annual festival to honor the Swedish pioneers that settled in the Smoky Valley of Kansas. It’s been held on odd years ever since 1941. The two highlights for most people are  the school children dancing for the opening ceremonies, and the Saturday parade.

All the school children, grades one through eight, are in Swedish costumes and perform three dances per class. It’s fun to watch the timid steps of the little ones, to the accomplished maypole dance of the oldest girls.

Saturday’s parade theme was “Everywhere a Dala”, because we have Dala horses all over town- from house signs- to four-foot dalas on street corners. The float that won top place was themed “Dala Dynasty” after the TV show Duck Dynasty. It was a hoot!

Tracing those Swedish Family Roots

Recently I helped with a genealogical conference here in Lindsborg where 150 people from 18 states attended. Four researchers from Sweden were here to conduct the workshop on how to find one’s Swedish ancestors.

On the second day everyone set up in our local school computer lab with laptops to search the internet for leads to their Swedish ancestors. I helped out those that needed help to translate old Swedish words, or navigate internet pages. It was exciting for people who finally found the names of their ancestors, all because of this workshop.

And some of those ancestors from Sweden were ones that settled on the Kansas prairie that we honored this past weekend…including mine! My Swedish Johnson family story is told in my book series Planting Dreams.

Pioneer Photos on Pinterest

Written by lindahubalek on . Posted in Blog

woman with long hair I have a plastic tub full of family photos with dates starting around  the 1880s. The Swedish photographer B.G. Gröndal moved to Lindsborg, Kansas  in 1887 to set up a studio, and took family portraits for almost 60 years.

I know the people in most of these photos, except for young couples that must have been friends with my ancestors. Of course the recipients of the photos knew who was pictured, so they didn’t bother to write a note on the back of the photo of who was pictured.

Many of these photos have been featured over the years in my books and blog. I’m always amazed at the details in the clothing—most of which were handmade, the hair, hats, and shoe styles of that era.

Now I’m hooked on looking  for photos of pioneers on Pinterest. I could look and “pin” all day—finding photos of women with very long hair, to families in front of their dugouts.

Unfortunately most aren’t labeled with who is in the photos, or the descriptions have been changed or erased as people add new comments.

It’s sad that we don’t know who is featured in this old photos. Most descendants don’t realize we may be looking at a photo of their ancestor taken over a century ago.

So I’m enjoy the photos for them, marveling at the people that moved west to start a new life on the frontier, and happened to be photographed along the way.